Friday, January 20, 2012

Easy Sourdough Pancakes



Yesterday, Adam asked for pancakes. I haven't been so attentive to my sourdough lately, so I had a lot that hadn't been fed recently. I love this recipe because it calls for two whole cups of unfed sourdough. It is great when you need to use a lot up. The recipe made enough pancakes for Adam and I to have breakfast yesterday and today.

I took some of the Lactic Cheese I made, and put a little sugar to sweeten it. We had the pancakes with some warmed peaches yesterday. Today, I boiled chopped frozen rhubarb I picked last summer, with a little bit of sugar to make a slightly tart sauce. It is great with the cheese! The cheese also has less fat than whipped cream, and tastes much more decadent.

I wasn't planning on having this be a blog entry, as you can tell in the simplicity of the presentation in the photo. I realized that this is one of my go-to recipes, and I should share it with you!


Ingredients

2 cups unfed sourdough (it works well if it is room temperature, but it doesn't have to be)
2 tablespoons of sweetener (you might need more if your starter is particularly sour, I used maple syrup)
2 tablespoons of oil or shortening (butter, canola, olive, coconut oil, anything really)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda diluted in 1 tablespoon of cold water

1. Mix the sourdough, sweetener, oil, egg, and salt in a bowl.

2. Preheat your pan or skillet.

3. At the last second stir in the baking soda and water mixture. It will cause the sourdough to foam.

4. Ladle or pour the batter onto your pan. Cook until bubbles form. Flip, and cook until golden.

These are pretty wonderful and versatile!

A Little Snack- Hot Smoked Mackerel



I went to a Russian shop I really like called, simply, Eastern European Deli. They mostly have candies and russian cured meats, but they often have something I simply must eat! I began going there because they carry my favorite candy bar: Kinder Bueno. It is something to behold!

This time I saw, in the glass case, an array of dry and vacuum-sealed fish, which I was informed were cold and hot smoked mackerel. I had to eat it! Adam and I had it for a snack with oranges we brought back from Texas, and some of the other things I found at the shop. I found some sunflower seed halva. I am pretty much a halva fan in any of its billions of forms. I also got some unseasoned, unhulled, dry, pumpkin seeds (Adam requested I season some of them). Finally, I bought a loaf of poppy seed bread that was made at the shop. It was very good the fish and tea.

Having a whole fish in front of you is a pretty special thing. It reminds me that what I'm eating was alive, which I believe is an important thing not to forget. It also makes me feel like an ancient monarch, eating this special food with my bare hands. Anyhow, I'm pretty glad I bought this little fish. It was very oily and tasted like a huge sardine, it was excellent.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rasgulla


I grew up eating Indian food and rasgulla is one of my favorite Indian desserts. They are usually for special occasions because they take a bit of work, but they are delicious. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of the final plated product because I was too busy eating. The process photos will give you a good idea though. Basically rasgulla is homemade cheese curd balls boiled in sugar syrup. These are fun to make!

This is not a recipe from the Home Cheese Making, although I wish it were. These curds were too dry because of the milk I used, but Ricki Carroll does have a recipe in her book for chenna, the type of cheese needed for Rasgulla.

Cheese Curd Ingredients

1 gallon of whole milk (you might want to add some whipping cream, the high fat content helps the cheese be silky, raw milk is the best)
1/2 cup of vinegar or lemon juice

Syrup Ingredients

8 cups of water (1/2 gallon)
4 cups of sugar
about 8 unbleached cardamom pods
a splash of rose water (optional, but very nice)

Directions

1. Heat the milk slowly in a large pot making sure that it doesn't burn. As soon as it comes to a boil turn off the heat and pour in the acid. Gently stir the milk until it curdles completely and the whey is clear.

2. Gently spoon the curds into a cheesecloth. Rinse the curds under filtered water until all of the acid smell is gone. Allow the cheese to drain for around 30 minutes.


3. Remove the ball of curds and knead it until it is silky smooth and can be formed into 1 inch balls. Most commercially available milk doesn't get too soft. Mine was a little difficult to shape. Don't use ultra-pasturized milk. Pasteurized is okay though.

4. In another large pot begin making the syrup. Boil all of the syrup ingredients together.

5. Gently drop some of the rasgulla into the boiling syrup. Make sure they don't crowed. You may need to cook multiple batches. Boil them until they swell up and are slightly squeaky when you bite them.

6. You may serve them hot or cold with a little bit of they syrup. They are pretty served with rose petals and crushed pistachio.

They're really yummy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bagels!

Jewish Purist's Bagels

I made some delicious bagels a few days ago. I found the recipe online, it seemed pretty straight forward and authentic. They are really good. I definitely recommend making this recipe:


My Delicious Snack

I got up this morning, brought two of my friends to the airport, bought some fruit, and came home to homemade bagels and cheese. I flavored some of my cheese with herbs and some of it with honey and sweet spices. It was really good, and good looking as well. Now to watch another episode of The Tudors.

A ring fit for a king.

Say Cheese!

Lactic Cheese

I've bought a new book! It is Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 homemade cheeses by Ricki Carroll and it is excellent! The book not only gives many recipes for soft, hard, italian, whey, and mold cured cheeses, but it also teaches technique, and teaches the importance of knowing where your food comes from.

I already started exploring her recipes. I began with the very first one in the book. Lactic Cheese. It is a soft cheese, made of whole milk, a bacteria culture, and rennet, whose curds look like yogurt, but when drained is like a cross between cream cheese and ricotta. It is quite delicious. I've chosen to divide it into three sections. One will be slightly salted, one will be herbed, and one will be sweet.

If you've ever been interested in making cheese this is the book for you! More cheese to come!

Ma petite fromage.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Birthday Pasta


For my birthday my wonderful boyfriend Adam got me a hand crank pasta maker like the one I grew up with. For a thank you he got delicious salmon pasta and steamed bok choy. It was delicious!

I made the pasta with a mix of durum flour and white flour. It came out beautifully and Adam helped me crank the machine. Pasta is always a simple dinner, but when it is homemade it becomes extra special. I still have some fiddling to do with my pasta recipe. My mom's pasta is much more tender than mine.

The sauce I made was really good though. I baked the salmon with a little salt and pepper first so that it wouldn't get broken up and mushy in she sauce. I then cut some cherry tomatoes in half and blistered them in a pan. I added some minced garlic, olive oil, milk, and a little bit of flour as a thickener. I let it simmer, threw it some capers, salt, pepper, and a whole lot of fresh basil.

The food was simple and delicious. This is my favorite kind of dinner. We asked the man at the fish counter what the freshest fish they had was, we chose the vegetables that looked best, and made something wonderful.

Apple Cinnamon Bread Pie

Ain't She Purdy!

Adam and I have noticed that the holidays have not been kind to our waistlines, and so we are trying to eat less fat, smaller portions, and earlier in the day. I have a pretty serious sweet tooth. I crave sugar after meals and at tea time (4pm and 10pm has been tea since childhood).

Yesterday,  I realized I had three apples that had to be used. Instead of making my usually butter loaded tart or pie, I decided to try to make something delicious and low fat. What I came up with was both special and delicious. It still isn't 100% guilt free, but it has almost no added fat and doesn't taste "healthy" at all.

I got a pretty excellent crumb with no fat and fast acting yeast!

Bread Dough Ingredients:

2 1/2 teaspoons fast acting dry yeast (you can use the regular dry yeast too, but expect to be around for about 5 hours)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (I use Grade B for more flavor, you could also use honey or sugar)
2 cups warm water
flour (I used half whole wheat and half white)

Filling Ingredients:

5 Apples (I only had three so I used three, I like a tarter firmer apple for baking. Granny Smith is my favorite grocery store variety.)
1 small lemon's juice
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon of flour diluted in about a tablespoon of cold water
extra water as needed

1. Dissolve the yeast and sweetener in around 1/2 cup of the water. Allow it to sit until it proofs, or bubbles. This will take 5-15 minutes depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

2. Add the rest of the water. Slowly mix in the flour. I didn't put an amount because it is consistency you are going for. You want the dough to be very sticky. I could pick it up, but it was sticking to everything. When you're using whole wheat flour, keeping the dough sticky for the first rise allows for extra absorption of water by the bran.

3. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise until it has doubled. While it is rising, begin the filling.

4. Peel, core, and slice the apples. I left the halved because it looked so pretty, but cutting them into sixths would be the best. Toss them in the lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. The juice also adds a nice acidity to cut through the sugar.

5. Add the butter to a pan or skillet. when it has coated the pan add the apples with lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt, raisins, and walnuts. Add just enough water so that the sugar creates a sauce. Stir in the flour water mixture which will help the sauce to thicken. Slowly simmer the apples until they begin to soften, and the brown sugar thickens. Make sure you continue to stir so that the sugar doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan.

6. When the bread is done rising punch it down gently. You will probably notice that a lot of the stickiness is gone. If it is still too sticky to handle you can add a little flour now. The dough should still be very soft.

7. Roll or stretch the dough out like a pizza crust and lay it over a greased 9 inch round cake pan. Pour in the filling as if it were a pie. Then fold over the edges covering the filling. This is a very rustic style bread pie.

8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

9. Allow the pie a second rise until the bread portion looks like it has doubled in size.

10. Bake the bread pie until the crust is a deep golden color and if you tap the top it sounds hollow. You should also be able to remove it from the pan and the bottom should be deep brown as well.

11. Remove it from the pan and allow it to cool on a wire baking rack. Cooling it outside of the pan insures that the crust won't get soggy.

Enjoy!

Thumbprint Cookies



This are DELICIOUS. They are my favorite cookies, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. They also happen to be vegan, and very good for you. They can also be made wheat and gluten free. Talk about a wonderful recipe! And the best part is, they don't have that odd "I'm missing something delicious" taste that so many allergy and vegan friendly recipes have. This recipe is from my mom, and I'm not sure where she got it.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour (you can use oat [for gluten free], whole wheat, or white. I prefer whole wheat)
1 cup rolled oats ground up into coarse cornmeal size
1 cup raw almonds ground into similarly small chunks
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup maple syrup (I use Grade B for a stronger maple flavor)
canola oil until a dough forms, about 1/2 cup
Jam of your choice (I use Low Sugar Raspberry, I can't remember who makes it)

1. Mix ingredients except jam and canola oil in a bowl. Slowly add oil until a dough forms. Refrigerate until fully chilled. This helps when you form the cookies.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Roll into 1 inch diameter balls, squish them down a bit, and form a well in the middle for the jam. They don't melt much so what you see is kind of what you get. Arrange them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Fill each cookie with a spoonful of jam.

4. Bake cookies for around 18 to 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and then jam is bubbling in the center. Cool fully before moving or eating. They are very delicate when they are hot, and the boiling jam can easily burn you.

These are my favorites! I hope you enjoy!

A New Year's Thanksgiving

Since it is now 2012, and I've been wanting to begin this blog since October, I might as well begin with 2011's Thanksgiving. I'm mad about the 1940's and '50's. I love old movies, vintage fashion, swing and rockabilly music and culture, and especially the femininity, skills, and quiet power of the housewife (think June Cleaver, Donna Reed, any lady who felt the need to iron in heels). I hope you enjoy!

Well that's done. I've been dreading writing that opening "who am I" paragraph. They can never fully capture a person or their passions. This past Thanksgiving I made a whole lot of food. It took three days. I'm posting some photos of food along with some of my recipies. I'm still building up my kitchen, so my plates don't match, and the kitchen is a little shabby, but the food was great and we all had an excellent time!

My Mama's Plate

I made mashed yams with a little bit of evaporated milk and salt. I'm not a big marshmallow fan so I don't like the traditional casserole, but I do love yams! I also made some delicious Dinner Rolls.

My boyfriend's sister Jacqueline made the cranberry sauce, some of the pies, and a salad, which is what I made most in the past. At first I was worried, but then I realized that with Jackie making those things it gave me time to try something new and different. She is excellent in the kitchen and what she made was wonderful. We both like a tarter cranberry sauces, we also added pomegranate seeds to it right before it was served. They added some sweetness, texture, and little bursts of juice. It was delicious!

Instead of a green bean casserole I gently sauteed the green beans in a little bit of the Poultry Stock I made. Cooking them this way instead of in a casserole allowed me to have more control over their doneness. I don't know anyone who likes squishy green beans! I then topped them with a homemade Mushroom Cream Sauce. They were a hit.

I boiled some mixed baby potatoes with salt and rosemary. I mashed some of them (removing the purple ones), and some of them I left whole. I made a simple gravy with the turkey drippings, stock, some cornstarch, and some cream. Finally, I made the Roasted Turkey.

For dessert we had Jackie's pumpkin and pecan pies and my homemade Cooked Eggnog, and my boyfriend Adam's Mulled Apple Cider.

My friend Jessica has a whole lot of allergies; she joined us for Thanksgiving. I decided to make her a meal that she could eat, one that was Thanksgiving without the use of: turkey, potatoes, gluten, dairy, garlic, cloves, and many other things. This is what I came up with:

My Friend Jessica's Plate
It isn't so shabby, right?! I made her: a roast chicken instead of turkey, steamed green beans, baked yams, and Mashed Cauliflower with fresh thyme, sage, and olive oil;  For dessert she had a Jess-friendly Wheat/Gluten/Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie, vegan Thumbprint Cookies, and Almond Cooked Eggnog. She seemed pretty delighted, her cauliflower and eggnog was arguably more delicious than ours, and we ate most of her cookies.

I've decided to post the recipes from the evening as individual posts so they will be easier to find. I linked them within this piece.

Poultry Stock

Poultry Stock is one of those things that I'm always needing when I cook. There are many good organic low-sodium stocks you can buy, but nothing quite tastes the same as making your own. Don't be overwhelmed, it is actually quite easy. This is a good staple to have around the house at all times.

Feel free to fiddle with this recipe until you have found one you like. You can use turkey, chicken, or any other type of poultry you want to. I usually decide to make stock when I buy a bird to roast. I tend to use the neck that whole birds come with. You may also use the carcass after you've roasted your bird, but I think the raw neck has more flavor. For this recipe, and to go along with my string of Thanksgiving posts, I will be using a turkey neck.

Ingredients: 

1 turkey neck rinsed well in cold water
1 whole large sweet onion, washed and halved (skins and all)
1 extra onion skin, washed (this will add that caramel color to your stock)
1 or 2 large carrots, washed well
1 or 2 stalks of celery and all of the leaves, washed (they have the best flavor)
Whole sprigs of thyme (about a centimeter in diameter if you held them tightly)
3 bay leaves
8 whole black peppercorns
5 leaves of sage
3 or 4 whole garlic cloves in skin

1. Put everything in a large stock pot. Add about two gallons of water and slowly simmer until it is as strong as you would like it. 

2. Strain everything out of your stock and skim any fat off of the top. The goal is to have a clear stock. You can continue to condense it after this if you would like.

3. Stock can be kept in the refrigerator and used in the next few days, or you can freeze it and as long as it is airtight it will keep.

Cooked Eggnog and Almond Cooked Eggnog

I made two eggnogs this Thanksgiving. One was a cooked eggnog, since I didn't want to be responsible for feeding my whole family raw eggs, and one was made with almond milk for the lactose free amongst us. Here is my cooked eggnog, it really tasted like drinking custard. What a treat!

Cows Milk Cooked Eggnog

Ingredients:

6 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 gallon of milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
fresh ground nutmeg to taste

1. Put eggs and sugar into a pan and beat with a whisk until lighter in color and well mixed. 

2. Add 2 cups of milk and whisk until fully blended. Slowly heat until the mixture thickens and can coat the back of a spoon. If you turn the heat too high you can burn the custard, and if you bring the heat up to fast you can scramble the eggs.

3. Add the rest of the milk, the vanilla, and the nutmeg. Refrigerate it until fully cool before serving.


Almond Cooked Eggnog
I cut this recipe it half because that's usually how almond milk is sold. You can easily double the recipe again.

Ingredients:

3 eggs
1/4 cup white sugar
1 quart of almond milk (I used one with no soy in it)
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
fresh ground nutmeg to taste

1. Put eggs and sugar into a pan and beat with a whisk until lighter in color and well mixed. 

2. Add 1 cups of milk and whisk until fully blended. Slowly heat until the mixture thickens and can coat the back of a spoon. If you turn the heat too high you can burn the custard, and if you bring the heat up to fast you can scramble the eggs.

3. Add the rest of the milk, the vanilla, and the nutmeg. Refrigerate it until fully cool before serving.



Mushroom Cream Sauce

This is a rich sauce. I served it over green beans for Thanksgiving. I think it would also be delicious over baked chicken breast. The photo is a little sad, my mom took a photo of it after we had all gotten some. This sauce is actually very pretty although it is mostly white.

So good you cannot wait for the photo!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter * 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
5 sage leaves
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cooking sherry, to taste
6 ounces Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 leek, thinly sliced chopped
Parmesan to taste


Melt butter in a sauté pan over low heat. Add garlic and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms, cook 5 minutes until slightly softened. Pour in cream, add leeks, and heat slowly. Add a little bit of cooking sherry to taste. When the sauce has reached a velvety smooth consistency, remove from stove. Stir in parmesan and serve.

* I found this recipe at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/mushroom-cream-sauce-recipe/index.html

Roast Turkey and Roast Chicken


Easy Roast Chicken

Roasting poultry the old-fashioned way in a large pan is very beautiful, but it takes a lot of basting, and it gets your oven greasy. One of modern technology's greatest inventions (okay perhaps a slight exaggeration) is the Oven Bag. It is a nifty way to cook a bird without the basting and without the mess. I love it. I made both of these birds that way. I accidentally ripped the skin on the chicken, but you can see in the turkey photo that I had a hard time keeping the bones in long enough to take a photograph. It was just that tender. It is a simple recipe, but a good one. Last year I showed my lovely friend Ashley, who was going back to college and moving into a meal-plan-free apartment, how to make this simple classic dinner.

Easy Roast Turkey
Ingredients:

1 appropriately sized Oven Bag (mine are made by Reynolds)
1 Tbs. of flour (obviously omit if gluten free, I haven't found it  necessary but Reynolds recommends it)
1 fresh of fully thawed turkey or chicken (allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of bird)
Olive oil or butter
Salt and Pepper

Onion without skins (quartered)
Carrot peeled or well washed and chopped into large pieces
Celery washed well and chopped into large pieces
Mushrooms (any variety you wish) chopped into large pieces
Whole sprigs of thyme
Whole sprigs of rosemary
Whole cloves of garlic

All of the vegetables and herbs are very much whatever you prefer. Remember that what you use to flavor the bird will be the flavor of your gravy if you choose to make it with the drippings. If you want a lemony chicken, you might not be liking the sour gravy. That's why I bring it up. Really, you can put whatever you want. A quartered apple might be very nice and add a sweet aroma. Have fun with it!

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. If you have a large bird this might be easier with two people, I had my boyfriend, Adam, help me.

Rinse your bird thoroughly in cold water (remember to remove the pack of giblets and the neck from the cavity). If you have chosen to, put the flour in your bag and shake it around. Place the bird in the bag and start filling it with your chosen vegetables and herbs. Add them to the bad outside the bird also.

3. Brush the skin with oil or butter. With turkey I like to carefully slide my hand under the skin on the breast, rub it with butter, and place sage leaves in a pretty pattern. When the skin cooks the butter makes it crispy and the leaves show through. It makes the bird look more special. Salt and pepper the outside of the bird. Truss the legs together and tuck the wings under to allow for more even baking.

4. Zip the bag shut, poke a few holes in it, and follow baking time instructions for your size of bird. The USDA says that the thickest part of the inner thigh should be at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. I like my turkey a little more done so I wait until the thigh is around 175.

5. When the bird is done cooking take it out of the oven and leave it to sit! You can ruin a perfectly cooked bird by carving it immediately, you don't allow the juices to seep back into the meat and you get a dry and chewy bird. I let my turkey rest around 3 hours, but it was huge. It should still be warm but not not in any way hot. When it is done cooling you can remove it from the bag and carve it. I like to serve the vegetables that cooked with the turkey on the same platter. I think it is kind of pretty.


Poultry Gravy


Ingredients:

Strained liquid from Oven Bag after roasting, fat skimmed off
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heavy cream
2 teaspoons (estimate) of Corn Starch/ Arrowroot Powder dissolved in a splash of cold water

1. Boil the cooking liquid with the starch liquid until it begins to thicken. Make sure the bottom of the pan doesn't scorch and that you continue to stir it.

2. Add a splash of heavy cream until you like the flavor and consistency.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remember, as the gravy cools it will continue to thicken. Don't get scared if it looks to thin. You don't want solid gravy jello when it cools.


As Jacques Pepin says, "Happy Cooking!"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dinner Rolls (for anytime)


These rolls are not healthy by any means, but for the holiday I decided to splurge. The recipe makes 24 rolls but can easily be cut in half. I weighed my dough in order to get the rolls more uniform. I decided to  bake them touching but they also make lovely rolls when they don't. We enjoyed these leftovers. They make great little sandwiches and they were delicious spread with almond butter for breakfast.


4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups warm milk
6 tablespoons shortening (I melted unsalted butter in with the milk)
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
around 7 cups all-purpose flour (depending on humidity)
extra melted unsalted butter for brushing

1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water. Allow to sit until yeast bubbles, or proofs (5-15 minutes depending on the temperature of your kitchen and freshness of your yeast. If your kitchen is too hot your yeast might develop too fast and you might get yeasty tasting bread with huge air pockets).

2. Add the milk, shortening, eggs, and salt. Slowly add flour until you have a loose ball of dough. The secret to tender rolls is to not add too much flour. As the bread rises the flour will continue to absorb water. Err on the side of a wet first rise. Knead he dough until it is smooth. If you see the underside of the dough ripping you've gone too far. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled. This dough rises beautifully.

3. Punch down dough and divide into 24 pieces (I used a scale). Shape them into rolls and arrange them on a parchment covered baking sheet, or in a greased baking dish. Allow them to rise again until doubled.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the rolls with melted butter. Bake them for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Brush them once again with melted butter and allow them to cool on a wire rack. If they cool in the pan the bottoms will get soggy. 


Have fun! They're Yummy!