Sunday, October 15, 2017

Simple Cranberry Sauce

An old Cook’s Illustrated recipe that keeps on working for our family. There are so many more creative cranberry sauce recipes out there, with orange or horseradish or whatnot, but this is the one we like. Not just for Thanksgiving! My kids love it stirred into steel cut oats or spread on pancakes.

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup water
1 c granulated sugar (evaporated cane sugar, whatever you like)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 (12 oz)  bag cranberries, picked through

DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine water, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat until it comes to a boil, stirring a few times along the way
  2. Stir in the cranberries and bring back to a boil
  3. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer until about 2/3 of the berries have popped open and the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon—use your eyes and nose here; when it looks right it is. This will take about 5 minutes or so
  4. Remove from heat and pour into a non reactive bowl. Let sit at least 30 minutes at room temperature to thicken fully then serve or refrigerate or freeze

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Best Chocolate Ice Cream

I like chocolate ice cream ok, but usually as a vehicle for mix-ins like nuts or mixed with coffee flavor. However, The Kitchn’s recent post on chocolate ice cream made me want to try my hand at a batch. Whoa this stuff is good, and it’s egg-free in case you need to be mindful of that.

I didn’t make any changes to the ingredients or proportions, but I have clarified the instructions because the first time I made this recipe, the ice cream took ages to get to soft serve consistency and then melted much faster after hardening than I would have expected. I attribute this to two things: I didn’t let the dairy mixture simmer long enough and I didn’t cool the base enough before churning. This time I was more careful in both areas and the end result was better. The sweetened condensed milk, an ingredient I never use, really did a great job of adding a malty note to the ice cream and should not be omitted.

We are serving with white chocolate mint magic shell and gluten-free shortbread for family birthday dinner and expect no complaints.

INGREDIENTS
4 oz high-quality dark chocolate in medium sized chunks (we used Theo 70%)
2 oz high-quality milk chocolate in medium sized chunks (we used Theo milk chocolate)
2 c. whole milk (I bet 2% would work too)
1 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. sugar (we used evaporated cane sugar)
1/4 c. sweetened condensed milk
3 TBSP cocoa powder. The Kitchn specifies Dutched but that’s ridiculously hard to find these days so I used regular cocoa powder and it was fine

DIRECTIONS

  1. Get an ice bath and strainer ready for the base.
  2. Melt the chocolate in whatever method works for you. I like to do it in the microwave on 50% power for two minutes, stir and then another 1- 1/2 minutes. Set aside
  3. Coming the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high unit it reaches a boil. Immediately lower the heat and let simmer two minutes
  4. Remove from heat. Add one ladleful of heated mixture to the melted chocolate and whisk in. It’s the same idea as bechamel, where you don’t want the flour and butter to seize up. Add three or four more ladlesful, one at a time, whisking after each incorporation. When the chocolate/dairy mixture is very loose, go ahead and add the rest of the dairy and whisk well until incorporated
  5. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl sitting in the ice bath and let cool thoroughly. The original recipe said 20 minutes but I think it’s better to use a temperature goal. I cooled my mixture to 68 degrees F, stirring three or four times during the initial 20 minutes and topping up the ice bath with ice once or twice. The cooler the base, the easier to churn into ice cream. However, the original recipe specifically counsels against putting the base in the fridge for hours or overnight becuase the chocolate could then become grainy. I can attest that doing it this way leads to a delightful smooth texture in the finished product
  6. Once the base is chilled, churn in an ice cream maker according to its instructions but know that you’re very likely to need to churn longer than usual. I usually churn 20 minutes and I went up to 30 this time. I had a very nice soft-serve consistency after 30 minutes
  7. Harden in the freezer for at least four hours and then it’s ready to serve





Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Italian Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

Because we try to make meat an accent to our meals rather than the centerpiece, I find that end using a lot of ground meats mixed with whole grains, vegetables and sometimes pulses or beans. (For examples see Teriyaki Ground Turkey with Vegetables or Lentil Barley Soup with Italian Sausage, which I most often make with ground beef these days, or Shepherd's Pie). This recipe is no exception.

My inspiration was a recipe on hippressurecooking.com. I loved the idea of a one-pot meal I could make in my Instant Pot. However, because I always use whole wheat pasta, I have never been completely thrilled with the flavor, though my kids were immediate fans. Cooking the whole wheat pasta with all the other ingredients gave it a slightly dusty quality I wasn't fond of. However, given my experience making kale pasta every Saturday night I knew it would be pretty easy to convert this recipe away from the Instant Pot. I am definitely satisfied with the conversion. The dusty flavor is gone and the kids gobbled it up at least as fast as before with many sweet compliments. It's still quite simple to prepare so the switch from one pot to two is worth the extra dish. This will definitely go into our rotation of favorites.

INGREDIENTS
1-2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 to 1 lb Italian sausage (chicken or pork, mild or spicy, whatever you like)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large head broccoli cleaned and separated into floret; cut the stem into 1 inch pieces
3 small to medium carrots
2 c or 1 small can tomato sauce (or diced or crushed tomatoes--i just use homemade sauce)
1/2 lb whole wheat orzo pasta
Salt, pepper and smoke paprika to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the italian sausage when the pan is hot. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the sausage is lightly browned and has rendered any fat
  2. While the sausage is frying, prepare the other ingredients: mince the garlic finely, finely chop the broccoli and then the carrots. I do all of this in my food processor, one ingredient at a time. I chop it all finely enough that there aren't any big veggie chunks in the finished product, but use whatever size you find most appetizing, adjusting the cooking time if you have bigger pieces
  3. Start a pot of water to boil. I try to use a smaller ratio of water to pasta but do whatever works for you. If your stove is really slow and/or you like to use lots of water, set the pot to heat first thing
  4. Once the sausage is browned, lower the heat to medium and stir in the garlic. Let cook a minute or two, then add the broccoli and carrot and stir well
  5. Cover the skillet and let the vegetables steam for 4-5 minutes, or until soft
  6. Stir in the tomato sauce/canned tomatoes, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Partially cover, turn the heat to low (I did 3 on our 9 level stove), and let simmer while the pasta cooks
  7. Once your pot of water has come to a boil, add 1 tsp kosher salt if desired and cook pasta according to package directions
  8. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Stir well to mix all ingredients together. Taste and adjust with salt, pepper and smoked paprika as desired. Serve as-is or with freshly-grated Parmesan 


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Corn Cakes

From time to time in the summer we have leftover corn on the cob. Most often I use it for corn salad, like this one or this one, or I'll just mix it in to my regular cornbread. This time I was on the hunt for something a little different and I stumbled upon David Lebovitz's Fresh Corn Cakes. I knew from the start that my recipe would be an adaptation because my corn was already cooked instead of raw. I also knew that I would want to use whey instead of milk because I always have some that needs to be used and that I would omit the chile since my small ones are spice-averse. I added a bit of baking soda to make sure the whey had something to work against and doubled the sugar to cater to my kids' tastes and mitigate any sourness from the whey. Sadly, my corn kernels were a bit starchy, but the end result was still good. I added a bit of extra milk to make thinner, lighter cakes. The thicker ones are also nice, so just go with your preference. When thinned, they're very much like a regular buttermilk pancake. These are naturally gluten-free, another bonus.

INGREDIENTS
235g corn flour (not cornmeal, but super finely-ground corn)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp table salt
300g corn kernels, fresh or cooked
4 TBSP butter, cubed (Lebovitz says room temp but mine was cold and it was fine)
2 TBSP sugar or honey (I like sugar for the ease of measuring it)
1 c whey or whey and milk mixed, plus more milk to thin as needed (I used 3/4 c whey and 1 c milk)
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites (use the extra yolk for something else delicious)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Stir corn flour, leaveners, and salt in a large bowl
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the butter, whey/milk and sugar/honey until the butter is melted then set aside
  3. Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites in a medium brown until they form stiff peaks. Set aside
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in the slightly-cooled milk mixture, the corn kernels and the egg yolks until combined
  5. Fold in the egg whites until no white streaks remain
  6. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat until hot
  7. Use a skim of butter or oil in the pan and drop about 1/4 c of mixture per cake into the pan. My fabulous Baking Steel Griddle holds 6 cakes even after I thinned the batter
  8. Cook on the first side until bubbling and dry at the edges, then flip and cook for an additional minute or so
  9. Serve alongside anything you like or just eat for breakfast. You could go a savory or a sweet direction with these

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

Evan and I agree that the best frozen dessert of our childhoods, bar none, were push-ups. There is an iced novelty by that name these days, but it's not the same at all. When we were kids, it was a frozen yogurt treat that was perfectly sweet and slightly tangy and creamy and so much fun to push up.

I got some beautiful raspberries at the farmers' market this week and wanted to make a raspberry-centric dessert for the 4th of July. Fruit torte was an obvious choice, but I figure I'll be making that for family dinner for July birthdays soon so wanted to try something new. The strawberry ice cream I made the other week using the Fruit Gelato recipe was super tasty, so I pondered a raspberry version of that.

And then I remembered push-ups, and the fact that I had a gallon of homemade yogurt in the fridge, and I knew I had to make raspberry frozen yogurt. I was planning on making it to eat as soft serve, as frozen yogurt always gets so hard after a long freeze, but I looked around to see if I could solve the chalky/hard problem and found this recipe, oddly posted on the King Arthur Flour (KAF) website, plus another one on The Kitchn that suggested using some heavy cream in conjunction with the yogurt would lead to the best texture. I happened to have some cream on hand so thought I'd give it a try.

While I based my fro yo on the KAF recipe, I immediately made some changes that I will keep in future: I wanted a full quart of ice cream so I upped the portions slightly, I reduced the sugar by a lot, I omitted the vanilla and, most significantly, I did not cook the berries at all. Because I chose to use only raspberries, I felt that cooking them would ruin the fresh, fruit-forward fro yo I was going for. It nearly goes without saying that I also did not strain my berry mixture. If I used blackberries I would have, but I don't mind raspberry seeds in my dessert as much as I mind the tedium (and waste) of the straining.

We did eat it as soft serve and I don't know yet how chalky it will be tomorrow. While it wasn't an exact replica of the push-ups of yore, it was mighty fine and I'll definitely make it again. I found it a bit sweet so I'll keep reducing the sugar til we achieve the perfect balance. My homemade yogurt is not particularly tangy, which may be part of it.

Turns out, it scooped like a dream even after a night in the freezer. This stuff is great! I also made a blackberry and a blueberry version where I did cook the berries. I used 3 cups of berries and cooked them down for 10 minutes or so before adding the sugar and then the lemon juice. I strained the blackberries as I don't love those seeds, but didn't strain out the blueberry skins. I've been having some trouble with my ice cream maker not churning very well (a sign of age, perhaps), so make sure to chill down your mixture thoroughly if you have cooked your berries. The 2/3 cup sugar works well and is what I regularly use.

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 c raspberries
2/3 to 3/4 c sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1 3/4 c whole milk or 2% plain yogurt, not Greek style (recipe would likely need adjustment for Greek style yogurt)
3/4 c heavy cream (or whatever makes sense for the overall dairy to add up to 2.5 cups)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash and pick over the raspberries, then mash them in a large bowl
  2. Add the sugar and lemon juice, stir and let sit until the sugar dissolves
  3. Stir in the yogurt and the cream. Taste and adjust sweetness, keeping in mind that frozen yogurt will taste less sweet than the liquid mixture. If it's already too sweet, you could balance it out a bit by adding a pinch of salt, more lemon or even some balsamic or sherry vinegar
  4. Chill if you're not ready to churn, otherwise if you're using ingredients straight from the fridge you can churn right away
  5. Churn in an ice cream maker per instructions. My Cuisinart took about 25 minutes. Serve what you like straight from the ice cream maker and then freeze the rest for later











Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Big Batch Crumble Bars

This isn't really a new recipe but it's so much more convenient to have my doubling already done! Especially since I've been lowering the amount of sugar I use. Original EATS recipe at http://eatseats.blogspot.com/2015/05/berry-crumble-bars.html

I always double this recipe now (the quantities you see below) because I then cut it into squares and freeze, ready to take out for breakfasts. One 9x13 pan makes enough for at least a month or two.

INGREDIENTS

Filling
2 12 oz bags berries of any type, fresh or frozen--I don't bother to thaw first (24 oz total)
1/3 c sugar (I used coconut sugar but any type would do)
1/4 c ground flax (or you could use 6 TBSP flour)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Splash of water if the berries are frozen

Crumble crust
(these are rough guidelines--mix and match to the same number of grams with the nuts and grains you've got)

100 g rolled oats
200 g rye flakes (or any combination of any flakes)
120 g almonds (Gordon specifies sliced but I've used whole with no issues; I just pulsed them a few times before adding the other ingredients)
60 g pepitas, pecans or sesame seeds
240 g whole wheat flour (soft or hard wheat or spelt though the bars might be a bit crumblier with spelt)
125 g sugar (Gordon calls for light brown sugar but I've also used just plain sugar with no problems)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
16 TBSP (225 g, 2 sticks, 1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
2 large eggs, beaten
4-8 TBSP ice water

DIRECTIONS
  1. Grease a 9x13 in rectangular pan and preheat the oven to 350F 
  2. Place all of the filling ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium, stirring a few times, until the mixture is bubbly. If you're using frozen berries, add a splash of water to help them not stick to the pan and stir more frequently at the beginning. Set aside
  3. If using whole nuts, process them briefly in the food processor until they're chopped medium fine
  4. Add the remaining ingredients up to the butter and pulse together until blended and chopped fine
  5. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like small peas
  6. Add the beaten eggs and pulse until combined
  7. Add the water and pulse, starting with 2 TBSP. Expect the mixture still to look crumbly but it should be clumping together
  8. Press about 2/3 of the crumble crust as evenly as you can into the bottom of the prepared pan
  9. Pour over the berry filling
  10. Distribute the rest of the crumble mixture over the berries somewhat evenly
  11. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the topping is browned

Monday, June 12, 2017

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Birthday time again. And while my go-tos are black bean brownies and chocolate zucchini cake, the birthday girl requested something different, though still chocolate. So I returned to a chocolate cake recipe my friend Valerie made for us years ago. She made this gorgeous parfait thing with this vegan chocolate cake, tart cherries and whipped cream. Mmmmm. I knew she'd used a recipe from her favored Joy of Cooking, so I got out mine.

Fortunately, the recipe works extremely well with home-milled 100% whole wheat flour and converts to cupcakes perfectly. Even better, a small friend of ours with some food allergies was able to eat the cupcakes with no special modifications!

The only other change I made to the recipe was to add some mini chocolate chips. Those Enjoy Life ones are great because they are free of the most common allergens.

Each batch made a baker's dozen cupcakes. I put the extra in a greased glass ramekin and the family use it as a tester to make sure they were edible.

This recipe is extremely forgiving. The second time we made it, we accidentally added baking powder instead of baking soda. I compensated by adding an extra 1/2 tsp of soda to make sure we'd get enough reaction with the vinegar. The second batch was lighter in color but equally tasty and a bit fluffier in texture.

Someday I'll see if the proportions really need to be so tedious. My guess is that a generous 1 cup of sugar is fine, and I'd go the whole hog and add a full 1/2 cup of cocoa powder.

INGREDIENTS
7 3/8 oz soft white berries (or 1 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole-wheat pastry flour)
1 c. plus 2 TBSP sugar
1/3 c. plus 1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 c. cold water
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 TBSP distilled white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
1 c. mini chocolate chips, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin and one additional ramekin with liners or grease 
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl
  3. Whisk in the wet ingredients one at a time, scraping the bowl and mixing til smooth
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips
  5. Portion out into the muffin cups--I filled mine 3/4 full
  6. Bake starting at 20 minutes then test. If a skewer comes out clean with maybe a few moist crumbs clinging to it, they're done
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack then decorate as desired. We used a blueberry version of our new favorite fruity whipped cream from Serious Eats