Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Treat

Happy Valentine's week!  I know the holiday is a big deal to a lot of people, but John and I like to go small for Valentine's.  We usually have a nice meal together followed by some chocolate.  This year, I am going a little further, but not much.  We love the old classic, strawberries and chocolate, but I also remember strawberries and cream as a kid.  My dad and I would go pick strawberries (not a Valentine's obviously, Connecticut springs don't start that early) and we would clean them and put them in a bowl, sprinkle them with powdered sugar, pour a little cream over top, and eat them with a spoon.  It was one of my favorite treats.  Being dairy-free now, and wanting to cut down on the sugar, I went with a slightly different twist.

Strawberries with Coconut Whip Cream

Strawberries, cleaned and sliced if you like
one can full fat coconut milk refrigerated, I used organic Thai kitchen and it worked really well
two tablespoons maple syrup

Make sure the coconut milk has been refrigerated long enough to be cold. Take it out, and carefully, without shaking, open the can from the bottom (upside down).
The cream will have solidified on top, so by opening from the bottom, you can easily pour off the coconut water at the bottom.  Dispose of it, or save for smoothies.  Scoop out the cream and put in a medium sized bowl.  Using an electric mixer, whip until it starts to fluff up.  Add the maple syrup.
Continue to whip until the maple syrup is mixed in completely and the cream is light and fluffy.  No harm taking a few tastes, just to check it is whipped enough.  In the end, you will have a bowl of whipped cream and some strawberries, go at it!

Make sure you have some chocolate for the non-coconut lovers out there.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Eggplant Pizza

As you all likely know by now, John and I are big fans of pesto.  This pizza is just another option for enjoying it.  It is a very filling pizza, even without any meat.  Like most of the things I have been making recently, I use kale in this recipe.  I have made it with spinach and it is good, but I really do prefer the kale.

Eggplant Pizza

Pizza Crust (I use the Joy of Cooking recipe, but any recipe or store bought would do just fine)
One medium eggplant
two medium zucchinis
one recipe of pesto
three garlic cloves, minced
one half bunch kale

Turn on your broiler.  Peel the eggplant and cut it into long slabs about a half inch thick.  Brush both sides with olive oil and place on a broiler pan.  Broil about seven minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Set aside.
Slice the zucchini into long thin strips and saute with your minced garlic until the zucchini is starting to show color and the garlic is fragrant.  Saute the kale in the same pan.

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.  Stretch out your dough and if you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well.  Build your pizza on a peel, sprinkle the peel with cornmeal and put the dough on it.  If you do not have a stone and peel, sprinkle a baking sheet generously with cornmeal and build your pizza on that.  Cut or tear your eggplant into long strips and place over the surface of the dough.
Spread the pesto onto the pizza.  The combination of eggplant and pesto will make everything hold together nicely.  Top with the zucchini and put in the oven, either from the peel onto the stone, or put the whole baking sheet in.  Bake about ten minutes and then add the kale.  Continue to bake until the crust is golden.
(I love this pizza just as it is, but for you not non-dairy people, I would recommend putting cheese over the eggplant and pesto and under the zucchini and kale.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Veggie Bowl

I have been inspired by the single bowl movement.  If you can call it a movement.  Anyway, I love the idea of a meal based entirely around the concept of complementary flavors.  Here are my two top bowls.

Sarah from mynewroots Winter Abundance Bowl
Kathy from Healthy. Happy. Life.  Green Goddess Bowl

And of course, my own.

The base of this bowl is roasted veggies.
I then add some chicken sauteed in vegetable oil (my oil of choice is coconut).  And finally top it off with kale sauteed with garlic in vegetable oil.  The combination of flavors is really satisfying.  If you are a vegetarian, or vegan, I am sure that this would be great with spiced lentils or chickpeas.

Veggie Bowl (with optional chicken)

one large white yam, cut into wedges or fries
one medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
three large carrots, cut into sticks
one boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
one half bunch of kale, torn
two cloves garlic, minced
oil of choice (I like coconut, but canola or olive would work as well)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Toss the cauliflower, yam, and carrots in salt and oil (about two tablespoons, more if necessary to cover the vegetables).  Lay them on a cookie sheet, turning every ten to fifteen minutes until the cauliflower shows some browning and the yams and carrots have dark spots about 45 minutes.  While the vegetables are roasting, saute the chicken until cooked through and slightly browned.  Set aside, saute the garlic until fragrant and then toss in the kale and about three quarters of a teaspoon salt.  Saute until the kale is thoroughly wilted.  Serve with the vegetables on the bottom, chicken in the middle, and kale on the top.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ken Forkish

I have been using a new regular bread recipe, thanks to my sister.  I bake bread frequently, and have done all sorts of more complicated recipes as well as some no-knead varieties.  This new recipe that I am using you can find at Ladles and Jellyspoons, a food blog, or in Ken Forkish's new book, Flour Water Salt Yeast.  It has been turning out beautiful loaves full of flavor.

One of the reasons that I love this recipe is for the same reason as Lucy (from Ladles and Jellyspoons).  She likes that it allows a home baker to create an artisan loaf without too many expensive tools.  I also appreciate the reason my sister recommended it to me in the first place.  Forkish employs a mixing/kneading technique that is easy on the wrists.  As an artistic person, I have struggled with pain in my wrists, something I am sure a lot of people can commiserate with.  The technique employed in making this bread is a nice rest from the normal kneading that can sometimes irritate the area.
This recipe alone is a fantastic addition to my repertoire and I have added the book to my amazon wishlist.  Why not give it a try?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey Tart

Do you still have Thanksgiving leftovers?  I imagine by this point you are looking for some variety to mix in with your turkey sandwiches.  One of my solutions was a tart with a puff pastry crust.

Turkey Tart

one sheet of puff pastry, homemade or storebought
leftover turkey
bread, torn into bite sized pieces
walnuts (optional)
stuffing seasoning (sage, parsley, thyme)
cranberry sauce
mashed potatoes
whatever other vegetables you have on hand

Chose your size of springform pan.  I suggest a 5" round pan for about 4 servings, or a 7" round pan for more like 6.  Butter the sides and bottom of the pan.  I lined the bottom with parchment paper to help the tart brown on the bottom.  Roll out your puff pastry and cut two rectangles half the circumference of your pan and as wide as the sides are tall.  Join them to line the sides of your springform pan.  Cut a circle to cover the bottom of the pan and join it in the pan as well.

Layer your ingredients starting with the bread on the bottom.  This will protect the bottom pastry layer from the moisture dripping down from your higher layers. Then add the optional walnuts and stuffing seasoning.  Next come the vegetables.  I used roasted root vegetables, including delicata squash, onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes.  Turkey is layered under the cranberry sauce and I found this keeps the turkey moist.  I added a layer of green beans between the cranberry and the mashed potato to avoid color seepage.  The potato layer goes in the center of the tart with about an inch around the outside.  I roughed up the top with a fork and added a little butter to the top to help the potatoes brown.  I then folded the side pastry down around the edges, folding it together to make the top look clean and neat.
Put your constructed tart in the refrigerator while your oven preheats to 425 degrees.  It is important that the tart get this time in the refrigerator before baking.  Bake the tart about 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Carefully remove the springform pan and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Leftover Hash

Well, I hope all my United States readers had a very successful Thanksgiving, feast or not.  We spent the day with my sister and our family, eating way too much, waiting about 15 minutes, and then stuffing any more space full again.  This morning, we are confronted, as I think many families in the U.S. are, with piles and piles of leftover.  I'll be sharing a couple of ways we come up with eating them in the next few days, most simple, but a few more decadent ways.

We will start simple.  Hash.  What is better than a hot plate of Thanksgiving leftover hash? (Except secretly eating apple pie for breakfast, it's fruit, right?)

Thanksgiving Leftover Hash

This recipe will work with pretty much anything you had for Thanksgiving, so get creative, we had:
roasted root vegetables
green beans
egg whites

Chop your turkey and veg into bite sized pieces.  Put a little olive oil in the bottom of a skillet and stir fry the turkey and veg until it is warm.  Don't cook too long or your turkey will get dry.  Add your egg whites (or whole eggs if you aren't feeling the healthier alternative) and fry until they are done.  Enjoy!  Maybe eat with a piece of toast with cranberry sauce as jelly.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Seventh Anniversary

As some of you may know, this weekend marked the seventh anniversary that John and I have been a couple.  We had a great time celebrating it, and as usual in our lives, food was the center of the celebration.  I made my very first vegetable tarte and it came out magnificently.
I altered (but only slightly) this recipe.  I halved it to make only one tarte, replaced the mushrooms with zucchini (just because I didn't have mushrooms, but did have zucchini) and omitted the cheese (for the usual reason).  I made the puff pastry from scratch from this recipe I have used before.  The only problem I had with the whole tarte was that the bottom crust was not as crisp as I would like.  I think I could fix this problem next time by lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and covering the top with foil to cook the tarte an extra ten minutes or so.  I sprinkled the bottom crust with semolina to absorb any extra liquid.  Can any of you think of a method to insure a crisp bottom crust?

I had some leftover puff pastry, so I decided to make a dessert with the leftovers.

Raspberry chocolate tarte

half a recipe of puff pastry
about a cup and a half frozen raspberries
a handful of chocolate chips
one egg yolk
a splash of water
granulated sugar

Roll out the puff pastry to a thin sheet.  Place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Cut diagonal lines along the edges of the sheet like this:
(sorry about my crude diagram)  Arrange the raspberries and chocolate along the center of the pastry, leaving room at the ends.  Fold the first edges around, tearing off any extra pastry.  Fold over the flaps of pastry in a braiding motion until you get to the other end where you tuck and tear like you did the first end.  Your raw pastry should look like this:
Combine the egg yolk and water.  Whip it together and then brush generously on the surface of the pastry.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Refrigerate the whole thing.  If you will be waiting to bake it for more than an half hour, cover the pastry with plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the pastry in the oven and bake about 30 minutes, or until the pastry puffs and becomes golden brown.  The ends of my pastry were done before the middle so I covered them with foil and allowed the center to brown up.

I hope you treat someone special to this treat.  We found it delicious!