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

Garlic-Crusted Pork Roast

Here's one we don't make every day, but we thoroughly enjoy it when we do! Thankfully the whole family loves garlic, because I don't think I could get through many meals without it except some breakfasts. The garlic crust on the roast is just delightful and worth a splurge.

The original recipe comes from Bruce Aidell's and Denis Kelly's The Complete Meat Cookbook and I believe this may be the only recipe I've used from there. We are definitely carnivores but most often meat is not the center of the plate so I have little experience with roasts and steaks and chops.

We get a roast from our favorite farm, the only downside being I have to thaw it first so this meal takes a bit of planning ahead. Other than that, it is extremely simple. I use my Simplest Everyday Pan Sauce with the drippings and we all slurp up the results. Today I'll serve along side farro and asparagus, but mashed potatoes also do a great job of soaking up every last bit of goodness.

You'll need at least 2 hours for the meat to marinate.

INGREDIENTS
1 4 to 5 lb bone-in pork loin roast or 3.5 to 4 lb boneless (they specify center-cut but I usually don't have so many choices. The only important thing is that you don't want pork tenderloin). I just go with the size I can get at the farmers' market, or split up a regular roast so we can enjoy two separate times

6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 TBSP salt
1 TBSP finely minced sage or 2 tsp dried sage
1 TBSP finely minced rosemary or 2 tsp dried rosemary (I often use less rosemary because I find it such a strong flavor, so use the herbs to your taste)
1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1 TBSP olive oil

For the pan sauce, you'll need an additional 1 cup of stock and 1 cup of white wine or vermouth

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare your roast. Usually for me this means not doing much of anything but you could separate the meat from the bones and then tie the bones back on after applying the marinade
  2. Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor or mini chopper, mince the garlic and salt together to form a paste, then add the herbs, pepper and olive oil
  3. Slather all over the roast, place on a rack in a roasting tray (bone side down if applicable), cover with plastic or foil and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight
  4. If you've refrigerated for more than 3-4 hours, bring the roast out of the fridge for an hour before roasting
  5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, once heated, place roast in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Then lower the heat to 300 degrees F and roast an additional 1-1.5 hours. If you have a probe thermometer than can stay inside the roast, use that and take out when the inside reaches 145 to 150 degrees F
  6. When the meat is done, remove from oven and tent loosely with foil for 20 minutes or so. You can make the pan sauce while you wait
  7. Carve and serve


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Easiest Lemon Curd

The vendor at our favorite farm and I were talking about how lovely Spring is--not necessarily because of the warmer weather or the blossoms, but because there are finally more than enough eggs to go around. In winter, when the hens are hunkered down, I would find myself rationing the family's egg consumption, as if a two-egg breakfast were outrageous. But in Spring, we've got eggs coming out our ears and 8-egg omelettes are almost required. (I came home with four dozen eggs the other week. One from our CSA, one as a freebie for CSA members and two more because they were on a great 2-fer deal). Joey was saying he'd been making lemon curd and I was immediately salivating and determined to do the same.

I've made lemon curd before, from the Fanny Farmer cookbook, probably. It worked and was tasty (though the Meyer lemon curd didn't set well and taught me I don't like Meyer lemons that much). But for the heck of it I did some Internet searching and happened upon Ina Garten's recipe on Food Network. Her method was different than any I'd ever seen and immediately appealing. No zesting for the Barefoot Contessa, no. In a stroke of brilliance she cuts wide swathes of lemon peel with a regular peeler, then minces then with sugar in the food processor. This saves the cook the work of zesting and makes a lemon-infused sugar. The rest of the ingredients are added and only once it's blended does it go on the stove to thicken. Awesome!

Garten uses a stand mixer to cream the room temperature butter, then adds the lemon sugar and eggs. This seemed a needless step to me and is the only thing in my version that differs from hers. Butter is creamed to incorporate air. This is not needed for a cooked sauce, so I decided to try just adding the butter and eggs to the food processor. It worked just fine and saved some dishes. With my newly-improved crumpets (add more water!), this lemon curd can't be beat.

Makes about 3 cups of lemon curd

INGREDIENTS
3-4 lemons
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 lb (4 oz, 1 stick, 8 TBSP) butter, at room temperature and cut into 8 chunks
4 extra large eggs
1/2 c lemon juice (from the lemons referenced above)
1/8 tsp kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Use a vegetable peeler to take the peel off of three lemons and put in the food processor with the steel blade inserted
  2. Add the sugar to the lemon peel and pulse until the lemon peel is finely minced into the sugar (this will smell heavenly)
  3. Add the butter to the food processor and pulse until combined
  4. Add the eggs through the feeding tube one at a time mixing well each time
  5. Add the salt to the lemon juice you've squeezed to dissolve it and then pour through the feeding tube while the food processor is running
  6. Once the mixture is well-combined, pour into a medium sized saucepan
  7. Heat on medium-low, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches around 170 degrees F and is quite thick
  8. Remove from heat and pour into heat-proof jars or a medium bowl. Leave at room temperature for an hour or so, and then refrigerate or freeze. I've had good luck freezing lemon curd
  9. Serve in tartlets, on crumpets, in thumbprint cookies or just on a spoon. For Mother's Day, the girls are going to make Super Simple Coconut Cake (in a gluten-free version) and serve the cake on a bed of lemon curd and topped with Serious Eats' Fruity Whipped Cream. Mmmmmm

Monday, March 20, 2017

Kung Pao-Inspired Workday Tofu and Cauliflower

Work lunches are a perpetual struggle for me. I never go out for lunch or get take-out for a variety of reasons, but figuring out something tasty and filling is always a challenge. I don't love sandwiches or salads (except my kale salad or that cucumber walnut salad in the summer. MMMMM). I prefer a hot lunch and I want the meal to be nutritious. I've tried a bunch of stuff, like making dumplings ahead and rotating that with homemade falafel, but sometimes I just don't have the wherewithal to pre-prep quite so much. Enter this dish. I saw Nourish Evolution's Kung Pao Cauliflower and was intrigued. I happened to have a spare half head of cauliflower and I thought that it might be savory enough to keep me satisfied, provided I also include a block of tofu. I made it and liked it well enough, but didn't like the idea of balsamic vinegar or Sriracha. Then I realized that if I really wanted Kung Pao, I should be used Fuchsia Dunlop's Gung Bao Chicken recipe as my baseline. Much better. This recipe is called "kung pao-inspired" because I take enough shortcuts with Dunlop's recipe that I don't want anyone thinking this is in any way a true Chinese recipe. Instead, it's an easy, savory, delicious way to make all three of my packed work lunches for the week at one go.

SAUCE INGREDIENTS
2 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 potato starch or 2 1/4 tsp cornstarch
4 tsp soy sauce (Dunlop says half light and half dark soy sauce but my pantry only has Nama shoyu right now so I used all of that and it was fine)
2 TBSP Chinkiang or Chinese black vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 TBSP water or stock
1 TBSP hot chili oil (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp grated fresh ginger, or to taste

OTHER INGREDIENTS
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 block firm or extra firm tofu, cut into bite-sized squares. Pressed or brined in a hot water salt solution as desired (I didn't bother--just cut it up and blotted with a towel. There was a bit of spatter in the pan but not too much)
2 TBSP oil that can withstand high heat such as canola or peanut
1/2 c dry roasted peanuts


DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust to your preferences for spice, salt and sweet. Set near the stove
  2. Blanch the cauliflower florets in boiling water for 2 minutes then shock in ice water. Then drain the water and pat dry
  3. Set your dried cauliflower and tofu near the stove
  4. In a large skillet (I use our 12-inch cast iron pan), heat the 2 TBPS oil on medium-high until shimmering. Add the tofu in a single layer and brown on a few sides
  5. When the tofu is mostly golden, push it to the sides of the pan and add the cauliflower. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the cauliflower is browned in spots
  6. Give the sauce a final stir and then pour over the cauliflower and tofu. Immediately lower the heat to low or medium-low so it doesn't burn. The sauce will thicken on contact. Stir well to coat then remove from heat. Add the peanuts now, or, for maximum crunch, save them to the side and add after re-heating right before eating. I get three generous lunch servings out of this, more if I serve over rice or another grain