2015-2-27 Fabulous Friday Finds

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Happy Chinese New Year! Actually, this was 2013. I hope it’s nicer this year.

I miss cheese still, and I miss jalapeno poppers.  The Minimalist Baker has a Vegan Jalapeno Pepper recipe using cashews that might work for me if I can replace the nutritional yeast.

This might be interesting to check out, a recipe for Authentic Italian Chickpea Flat Bread. I can think of a lot of ways to use this, and it seems like a relatively easy recipe. 

Hey, epigenetics! What turns our genes on or off? I mean that more like a light switch, not in a centerfold interview way, but this is one of the most fascinating pieces of genetics, to me (Mary Kate). What on earth makes your immune system all of a sudden decide that some foods are enemies and must be attacked? We don’t know yet. This is where I think the answer lies.

This is exactly the type of meal I love making when I cook on weeknights — quinoa, mushrooms, and spinach? Yum.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Plum Sauce

Plum Sauce

Plum Sauce

I have another canning inspired recipe for you. I made and canned plum sauce because I wasn’t able to find a safe commercial version for me, and because I eat a lot of Asian and Asian inspired food. Since I’ll be using this as a condiment for some of the dishes that are coming up, I decided to post a version that you can do without canning. If you want to can this recipe, it’s found in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving on page 285 (linked to Amazon for convenience, no affiliation). I’ve cut the quantities down so that it only makes about a pint of sauce, so that you can use it before it goes bad without canning it. If I’m overestimating your potential use, you could also freeze half of it.

Plum Sauce

  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar (make sure it’s safe for you, I corn-ed myself good by not reading labels on brown sugar once. If it says inverted sugar on it, don’t buy it if you’ve got an allergy to corn)
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is generally safest for corn allergies)
  • 3 Tablespoons of finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of finely chopped jalapeno or other green chili pepper
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of mustard seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 – 1 clove of garlic (recipe converted calls for half a clove, but if you like garlic, by all means use it up)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups of pitted, finely chopped plums

In a large stainless steel or other non-reactive (ceramic or enamel, do not use aluminum or cast iron) pot, add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, vinegar, onion, jalapeno, mustard seeds, salt, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add the plums, and return the mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat and boil gently stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick and syrupy, about 2 hours.

Since this recipe is not being canned, at this point you could choose to use a stick blender to puree the mixture to a smooth consistency. (Note: If you are canning the recipe, follow the directions in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and do not puree the sauce. You could be risking botulism otherwise.)

Let the sauce cool, and once cool enough, place in a container in the fridge (or freeze some) to store. I usually put mine in a squeeze bottle so that I can use it like ketchup.

Enjoy!

2015-2-20 Fabulous Friday Finds

Tower Court Great Hall, Wellesley College

Tower Court Great Hall, Wellesley College

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone. Sadly, the world outside looks like it did when I dragged Denise and her friend Laura to Boston’s Chinatown for the parade a few years ago — like a drunk snow globe. It is unpleasant out there. But hey, we have more than a week until Boston’s Lion Dance parade. Maybe it won’t be awful out? In the meantime, make some Chinese food at home. Corinne of sparecake let me spend some time with her mom’s copy of the book those recipes were in, and I’ve now ordered it. It just hasn’t come in yet. Coming soon? My own version of those pancakes. Yum. Also likely up, and good to go at fixing both the cold and the Chinese New Year issues, this hot and sour vegetable soup, with a few mods (no tofu, fake soy sauce).

I’m (Denise) freezing to death, which makes me crave greasy and/or fried food. These fried Chick Pea Flour Mini Puffs look awesome. I’ll have to try making some the next time Mary Kate and I decide to set stuff on fire, i.e. have a frying day.

I also have been doing a lot of physical exertion lately and would kill for a corn free ibuprofen or Advil. But since I don’t have that option short of paying big bucks for compounding, this Pain Relief Tea for Aches, Pain, and Inflammation might be neat to try. 

Have a great weekend, hopefully no more snow!

Crock Pot Chicken Stock, a concept

Crock Pot Chicken Stock in jars

Crock Pot Chicken Stock in jars

Here’s your thought experiment for this bright Monday: you live in New England. The snow piles are so high that you, in your sensible, fuel-efficient sedan, can’t see to turn corners. Another blizzard is predicted — the third in a few weeks — to last two days. But you live in New England, and you ignore it. Without really planning it, you get snowed in for two days. You could, were you industrious, brush the car off, shovel it out, brave the roads and hit the grocery store. Or you could scavenge in your own well-but-bizarrely-stocked kitchen and not bother to get dressed. Surely there’s enough food in there for two days.

What do you do?

You can start with soup. What I love about stock is that it’s a way to not waste bits and pieces — you get stock! This also means, though, that there is no real recipe for stock. I mean, you can write one. We have before. But this one is more of a concept than a recipe. I read something somewhere, likely on Facebook, about making stock in your crock pot. I think I may have linked it on a Friday. I mean, brilliant, right? So if you have a snow day, are not sure what to eat once you’ve demolished the leftovers in the fridge, and own a crock pot, this recipe is for you. Even if it’s not snowing. And even though this isn’t really a recipe.

Stock full of ingredients

Stock ingredients

Basic technique: Fill crock pot with stock ingredients. Fill with water. Cook for about a day.

But here’s what I do: I collect things in the freezer. When I roast a chicken or buy a rotisserie one, I keep any skin I don’t eat and all the bones — throw them in a bag in the freezer. Add other things you aren’t using — some leftover vegetables you don’t finish, mushroom stems, the quarter of an onion you don’t need for that recipe, the herbs you bought and don’t need all of. Don’t add celery — it just turns to mush in the freezer– and I’m not a fan of brassicas in stock at all (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) because they are very strong. Everything else? Fair game.

This stock I took photos of started with a chicken I cooked, leaving all the skin and bones and one whole thigh (I got sick of chicken that week). I also added a bag of “leftovers” from the freezer — mushroom stems, probably three quarters of an onion, and some peas. I did thaw these for a bit, but I’ll tell you my secret cheat for that in a minute.

To this cache from the freezer, I added everything that was still good in the fridge — a few handsful of parsley, a small bunch of thyme, a few carrots, some sad celery with the brown bits cut off, and a tablespoon or so of salt. Sometimes, I add peppercorns. Sometimes, I’ll roast some of the veg first; this adds great flavor, but it’s not necessary for good stock. If you have no fresh herbs, add some dried. I usually add a bay leaf, but I was out this time around. Thyme, basil, oregano, dill — all are good in stock. Add what sounds good. You can also add a bit of tomato paste, but this time, I had just finished a jar of pasta sauce for lunch, so I rinsed it out and added that water to the stock, too.

Pack all this in your crock. Then fill the crock with water. Put on the lid and cook. It really is that easy. Cook 4-6 hours on high (recommended if you started with anything frozen), or 8-12 on low. I’ve never overcooked stock, so I think this is a pretty forgiving recipe.

IF you have started with some frozen or partially frozen parts, here’s how to cheat — generally, crock pots don’t do well with frozen foods. They just don’t get hot enough. I thaw things for a few hours or overnight in the fridge first, but then I add a few cups of boiling water. Not starting from cold seems to help. You can also run the pot on high for the first hour and then turn it down.

When your stock is done, you want to strain out all the “stuff” you just extracted flavor from — I use a giant kitchen bowl with a colander in it. Dump the entire pot in, and then lift out the colander full of bones and vegetables.

If you plan to use plastic to store your stock, let it cool to room temp first. If you’re using jars, it works fine to pour it in hot. Stock should keep about 5 days in the fridge, and a few months in the freezer. Or, hey, get fancy and make some risotto right away with the hot stock.

Let us know if there are any particular ingredients you love in stock!

2015-2-13 Fabulous Friday Finds

The old button factory, Waldoboro, Maine

The old button factory, Waldoboro, Maine

I’m still missing Mexican food, at least the fried, crunchy, bread-y parts of it. I can’t use corn tortilla part of this recipe (but see possible alternative below). But for those of you without a corn allergy, here’s a what looks like a great gluten-free, vegan Sweet Potato Lime Taquito recipe. 

I’m still working on finding a tortilla or wrap I can make and use, maybe this Quinoa Tortillas would work for the taquito recipe above. It uses quinoa and rice flour and I’d like to try it out soon, once all the unsettled things going on settle. 

Does the extreme cold make you crave meat and hearty foods? It does for me. I always forget how to figure out which way I’m supposed to slice meat, but here’s a primer for you.

Also good for cold weather? Risotto. I made risotto for the first time last winter, and it turned out great. Yet, I haven’t made it again, and I’m not sure why. This mushroom and basil risotto sounds great (without the cheese), and I think I should try it ASAP.

Have a great weekend everyone! And happy Friday the 13th!

Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallows

Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallows - Photo by J. Andrews

Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallows – Photo by J. Andrews

Because we needed candy for the holidays, we decided to experiment with the marshmallow recipe we’d already posted, to add peppermint flavoring and cover them in chocolate. These would also be a great Valentine’s Day treat. Normally I’d list out the ingredients in the order that you’re going to use them, but since you’re going to have to make some ingredients ahead of time, I’ve listed those first. These marshmallows are a bit sturdy because they needed to hold up to being dipped in chocolate, but if you want them to be lighter with a little less structure, knock back the amount of gelatin by a tablespoon.

Marshmallows:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup of cane sugar syrup (You will need to make it ahead of time – there are two good recipes and I’ve used both before. The one from thekitchn.com makes about a quart, and the one from justapinch.com makes about two cups.) 
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (You will need to make it ahead of time – here’s a recipe from glutenfreegigi.com on how to do it. I used tapioca starch, or Trader Joe’s has a powdered sugar that uses tapioca starch instead of corn starch, but check the labels every time.) 
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of homemade peppermint extract or 4-5 drops of peppermint essential oil (To make my extract, I used dried peppermint and spearmint leaves in place of fresh, as described here. I use either Vikingfjord  or Luksusowa Vodka because they are made only from potatoes, where some vodkas may also use grain or corn.)
  • 4 Tablespoons of unflavored gelatin powder (Knox or Great Lakes are generally regarded as being okay if you’re not super sensitive to corn, again no affiliation with Amazon, just linking for reference)
  • 1 1/4 cups of cold water, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups of cane sugar (make sure you use a safe-for-you brand)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch (You could also use potato or arrowroot starch, whatever’s safe for you)
  • safe-for-you-oil for greasing the pan or you can use the oil in an oil mister as well
  • safe for you chocolate for melting – We used Dancing Lion’s Dark Chocolate for Baking

Kitchen Stuff you will need:

  • Stand mixer with the whisk beater attached
  • candy thermometer that will clip on the side a saucepan
  • 3 or 4 quart saucepan
  • 9 x 13 baking pan or another flat container to spread out your marshmallows
  • a pizza cutter or a sharp knife
  • the normal assortment of bowls, measuring cups, spatulas, forks or whisks and so on

Grease or spray your baking pan with the oil. Use a paper towel to wipe the pan and make sure that every surface is coated in a thin layer of oil. Put the baking pan and a spatula next to your stand mixer, which should already have the whisk beater on it and your splatter guard ready to go.

Mix a 1/2 cup of cold water in a measuring cup along with the peppermint extract or peppermint oil. Put the gelatin into the bowl of the stand mixer, and pour the water and vanilla mixture over it while whisking it with a fork or a small whisk. Mix until there are no lumps. Put the bowl back into your stand mixer and attach it.

Gelatin, water, and vanilla extract well mixed

Gelatin, water, and vanilla extract well mixed

Place your saucepan on the burner and clip your candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Add the rest of the water (3/4 of a cup), and add the cane sugar, cane sugar syrup and salt. Don’t stir it up.

water, sugar, cane sugar, syrup and salt with candy thermometer

water, sugar, cane sugar, syrup and salt with candy thermometer

Place the saucepan over high head and bring it to a rapid boil. Boil until the sugar mixture measures some where between 245ºF and 250ºF. Don’t let it go any higher than 250ºF. Take the saucepan off the burner and remove the candy thermometer.

Sugar mixture at a boil

Sugar mixture at a boil

Turn on the stand mixer to medium and CAREFULLY pour the sugar mixture down the side of the stand mixer bowl. There will be some bubbling, so go slowly. Also it will freaking burn and hurt if you spill it on yourself, so please don’t.

When all the sugar mixture is in the mixing bowl and is mixed to together, make sure your splatter guard is down and increase the mixing speed to high.  Continue to mix on high for 10 minutes. Make sure you do the full 10 minutes.

Whipping marshmallow mixture

Whipping marshmallow mixture

Once the ten minutes is up, do not dally, get the marshmallow mixture into the baking pan as fast as you can as it will start to cool really fast, and you want to be able to spread it out in the pan. Use a spatula to scrap out the bowl, but it’s really think and sticky, so you won’t get every bit out. Once it’s in the pan, spray or coat your hands with your oil and spread out the marshmallow evenly.

Marshmallows spread evenly in baking pan

Marshmallows spread evenly in baking pan

Let the marshmallows sit uncovered and at room temperature for 6 or more hours. Don’t let it go any longer than 24 hours though. Once they have cooled, mix your powdered sugar and tapioca starch in a bowl.

Powder sugar and tapioca starch mixture

Powder sugar and tapioca starch mixture

Take a large cutting board or cookie sheet and sprinkle some of the powdered sugar mix on it.  Then sprinkle the top of the marshmallow in the pan with the mixture and smooth it out over the surface. Flip the pan over onto your cutting board. Once you’ve got them out of the pan, sprinkle more of the mixture over the top of the marshmallow layer that was previously on the bottom of the pan.

Marshmallows powered before cutting

Marshmallows powered before cutting

Cut your marshmallows using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter into small squares.

Marshmallow pieces cut by pizza cutter

Marshmallow pieces cut by pizza cutter

Put each square in the bowl with the powdered sugar and tapioca and toss it until coated thoroughly. (If you have extra marshmallow coating afterwards, put it in a jar and use it the next time.)

Marshmallow being tossed in marshmallow coating

Marshmallow being tossed in marshmallow coating

Once you’re done with your marshmallows, it’s time to dip them in chocolate. You can melt in a double boiler, but our resident Master Chocolatier, Rich Tango-Lowy, at the Dancing Lion in Manchester, New Hampshire, recommends the use of the microwave because you don’t want to get any water in the chocolate which would ruin the crystalline structure. There’s all kinds of science on chocolate tempering that Rich explained at a lecture Mary Kate and I attended, but for our purposes, being lowly food bloggers, putting the chocolate in a microwave safe Pyrex or Corning ware container, and nuking it for ten seconds, checking it and repeating that until it’s melted (make sure you don’t burn it) works for us.

We used a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper to place our dipped marshmallows while they cooled. Dip your marshmallows in the chocolate, or simply drizzle the chocolate over the top.  We ended up mostly drizzling because we were making too big a mess with the dipping process.

Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallows - Photo by J. Andrews

Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallows – Photo by J. Andrews

Bonus picture because Mary Kate and Jack decided to play with my stuffed sheep collection when I left Mary Kate and Jack unattended in my apartment for a short period of time:

Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallows with Sheep - Photo by J. Andrews

Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallows with Sheep – Photo by J. Andrews

Enjoy!

2015-2-6 Fabulous Friday Finds

Kiwi, apres bath time, hosts the blog this week

Kiwi, apres bath time, hosts the blog this week

Happy Friday from annoyingly snowy NH! I think we got our quota of snow, it’s someone else’s turn now. Seriously. At least a week off, please.

Since Mary Kate and I are always interested in experiments and science, Serious Eats has an interesting post on the best way to chop or mince garlic and how each method seems to evoke a hotter or milder flavor. I love garlic and was fascinated that it really made a difference. 

I can’t have the sesame seeds, but this recipe for Cumin & Black Sesame Naan, which is gluten-free and vegan, looks interesting. Winter makes me want yummy, warm Indian food, and my husband has been making curries and korma in the crock-pot to take to work, and unfortunately, he isn’t making allergy safe for me versions. The aroma has been maddening. 

I’ve never considered baking hummus before, but this recipe, with balsamic marinated mushrooms and pears on top, sounds like exactly what I’m bringing to my next potluck. Or maybe this sorghum pilaf, as I need to start cooking with sorghum. I LOVE sorghum flour and use it in just about everything I bake, but I’ve not done much with the whole grain yet.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Blood Orange Broccolini

Blood Orange Broccolini

Blood Orange Broccolini

Okay, as Denise and I raved on Friday, it is officially citrus season up here in New England, which means someone has trucked citrus fruit all the way up to the frozen north. After two years of just eating or juicing the citrus, I’m finally starting to try cooking with them beyond. I’ve been marinating and dressing and mixing and playing and it’s brilliant. Let me share my favorite side dish so far.

Broccolini was kind of a cheat for me. I could happily eat broccoli every single day and not get too bored, but it seems like we should eat more than just one vegetable, right? So the other night when I was tempted to pick up more broccoli at the store, I decided on a bunch of broccolini instead. Turns out that broccolini is not just a different stage of broccoli’s growth. Broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli and another vegetable I’m not particularly familiar with (kai-lan, an Asian vegetable I’ve never cooked). A quick internet search tells me it was developed in the early 1990s and made it to the US in the late ’90s. It has tender stems and less dense tops, and it’s a nice variation on broccoli. The flavor is pretty similar, but greener and more mild.

This recipe cooks both the long tender stems and the tops, but adding the stems first so they will be done when the tops are, with neither part overdone. It also takes two pans, but I think it’s worth it. I’ve cooked the sauce first and set it aside while cooking the broccolini. When chopping up the broccolini, I’ve pulled off all the “tops” that are on lower stems, too.

From top left: whole raw broccolini, blood orange and squeezed juice, finished sauce, and toasted garlic in Earth Balance margarine

From top left: whole raw broccolini, blood orange and squeezed juice, finished sauce, and toasted garlic in Earth Balance margarine

Blood Orange Broccolini

  • 2 Tablespoons Earth Balance or other safe-for-you fat or oil (if you are not using a margarine or butter, add a pinch of salt to your oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed blood orange juice (about 1/2 an orange)
  • 2-3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 bunch broccolini, stems and tops chopped separately

Melt your Earth Balance in a small skillet or sauce pan over medium low heat. When foamy, turn the heat a notch or two on your stove — you want basically the point between low and medium, wherever that is for you. Add the garlic, stir well, and cook over this low heat for about 10 minutes or so. Garlic should be caramel brown when you’re done. Remove from heat and set aside. When it’s no longer hot, stir in the blood orange juice.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the broccolini stems and about 1/4 teaspoon salt. I’ll be honest — I almost never remember to measure salt in cooking (baking is different). I just added a large pinch. When the stems start to get a little browned, stir in the tops and another pinch of salt. Keep stirring every few minutes until the stems and tops are just barely fork-tender.

Add the sauce, stir well, and heat it all together for 2 or 3 minutes. Scrape the pan well to get all the garlicky goodness out and stir to coat all the broccolini well.

Enjoy.

blood orange broccolini

blood orange broccolini

2015-1-30 Fabulous Friday Finds

Brutalist Birdhouse, because birds deserve good design, too

Brutalist Birdhouse, because birds deserve good design, too

I’d (Denise) like to work on making more Asian inspired dishes for the blog (I miss my Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai restaurants), and I saw a couple of recipes I’d like to work on, but they all call for commercially prepared oyster sauce, which is generally crammed full of stuff I can’t have. So I did a little Google-fu and found that the Raising Allergy Kids blog has two versions of a homemade oyster sauce that can be made gluten-free and corn-free (corn-free-ish, depending on your sensitivities). The first isn’t safe for me, but I could use the second although I’d probably improvise a combo of the two, leaving out my particular allergen issues (clam, coconut, and corn) for this recipe. 

Since there’s lots of citrus out, Serious Easts has a Vegan Kumquat Creamsicle Smoothie. It’s got cashews and almond milk in it, so it’s not going to work for the nut-free, but it might be modifiable. I can have the cashews, but I’m allergic to almonds so I’d have to switch the almond milk out, but it sounds yummy. (MK – This might be a good start for that creamsicle fruit roll up we’ve been talking about-D) Yes!!-MK

It is CITRUS SEASON!!!! I (MK) never really cared about citrus much. But a few years back, I discovered blood oranges and the world opened up. Blood oranges, Meyer lemons, Cara Cara oranges… maybe I’ll even try a pumelo this year. I’m intrigued by the idea of roasting thin slices, rind and all, in this roasted chicken and citrus recipe. I’m also planning to make this citrus water pitcher this weekend. It’s just so pretty.

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

Green Tomatillo Rice

 

Green Tomatillo Rice

Green Tomatillo Rice

I needed a really simple dinner the other night because I wasn’t all that hungry, but I had to eat something and it was already 10:00 p.m. (I really need to stop doing that kind of thing.) So since I’m trying to work through all this rice that I keep buying at Asian markets because I cannot walk away from how inexpensive it is compared to regular grocery stores, I decided to throw a rice thing together. I liked it enough that I’ll make it again, and I can see this as being a great side dish to go with tacos (or in my case, taco salads, as I haven’t found a safe tortilla recipe I can stand) or with fajitas.

Green Tomatillo Rice

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, or other oil that’s safe for you
  • 1 cup of rice (I used sushi rice because that’s what I’m trying to use up, but any rice would work, arborio would be lovely)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 – 16 ounce jar of green tomatillo salsa that’s safe for you (I used my home-made, home-canned version)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water, depending on how tender you like your rice
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro (optional)

In a large skillet with a lid, add the oil, rice, onion and garlic, and stir with a spatula over medium heat. When the onion is translucent, add the water, salsa and cilantro, and stir to mix thoroughly. Turn the heat to medium high, put the lid on and bring the rice mixture to a boil. When the rice mixture reaches a boil, stir it, put the lid back on, and bring the heat down until the mixture just simmers.  Simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, until the rice is tender, and the sauce is thick.

Enjoy!

 

Green Tomatillo Rice

Green Tomatillo Rice

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