Category Archives: Snacks

BBQ Sauce number 1. A Very Good Place to Start

 

As mentioned on Facebook (you should follow me on Facebook. Look over there ——>) I have been craving BBQ sauce lately. A really good, complex, thick, rich BBQ sauce. So I tried to make my own… semi-successfully.

I’ve never attempted BBQ sauce before, so I started by scouring the internet for other peoples’ recipes and was quickly overwhelmed by the vast differences from one sauce to the next – all of which claim to be the best in the world. To the point where I feel like maybe I am committing a crime by admit

ting the sauce I made, while quite tasty, was not the best sauce in the world.

After being so overwhelmed by the plethora of flavor options and what not, I decided to limit myself to what I had available in my kitchen and pantry. Which knocked off things like liquid smoke, mesquite powder, and molasses. I think this is also where I limited the chances of creating the exact flavor I was going for, but I didn’t spend any money on an experiment either – woohoo!

Here’s what I ended up with for my first ever BBQ sauce:

 

Tangy BBQ Sauce:

Wrap these in cheesecloth and set aside:

6 Cloves of garlic – whole

¼ of an onion

a handful of fresh lemon thyme

2 heaping tbsp’s dried hibiscus flowers (hibiscus tea leaves are also fine)

5 matchstick peppers – whole

1” knob of ginger – leave the skin on

 

2 tbsp’s bacon grease

2 6oz cans of tomato paste

½ stick unsalted butter

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup dark brown sugar – loosely packed

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp hickory smoked salt (just use regular salt if you can’t find it – I couldn’t taste it anyway)
2 tsp’s brown mustard seed

2.5 cups of water

 

In a medium sauce pot melt the butter with the tomato paste and bacon grease. Add the vinegar and bring to a simmer.

Next add the brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, salt, and mustard seed. Stir until the sugar dissolves then add the water. Stir the pot to incorporate the water then drop in the tied off cheesecloth.

Let the sauce cook over low-medium heat for at least and hour, stirring regularly to make sure nothing is sticking or burning. The color will become a rich dark red as the sugars cook and the flavor develop the longer it goes.  There’s no real way to under or overcook the sauce (other than horribly burnt) it’s really just a matter of taste…and hunger level. I let it cook for a total of two hours.

 

The result is a tangy, sweet sauce that lends itself very well to pork in particular, but serve over your favorite meat, burgers, veggies, or however you like BBQ Sauce. I had some leftover pulled pork, so I globbed it on top of that. It’s definitely something I would make again, it just didn’t satisfy the exact craving I have had since our travels through some of the BBQ hotspots across the country.

I’ll have to try again soon!

 

For now, ENJOY!

Moving to the Beet Fries. Golden and Crispy and Salty and Sweet and Roasted.

My house was full of men this weekend. Paul’s band (Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun), minus one member, was mixing in my living room on Sunday. My job, provide a backup vocal track for a few small sections and, the obvious, provide the food!

Me being me, I couldn’t submit to the ease of putting out a bag of chips, so they got a healthier, much prettier alternative. Golden Beet Fries (amongst other tasty treats, but this is the focus for todays post…)

You can make any veggie in “fry” form and convince people to eat things they are normally reluctant to try – at least two of these guys claimed to hate beets until they had these…That was me patting myself on the back :)

Basically you want to take a good sized vegetable, peel it, and cut into long, thin, uniform strips… or a thick julienne to get fancy.

Toss the cut veg with enough olive oil just to coat and dump onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or sheets). Spinkle with a good amount of salt and pepper and pop in the over at 350′ F for about a half an hour. Watch them to make sure they don’t burn, and flip if things start to brown to much on one side…some of mine are a little extra crispy…that’s what I get for being too lazy to check the oven. Now you know why I’m not a great baker!

 

You’re not going to fool anyone into thinking they are eating regular french fries, but, again, add the word ‘fries’ to any veggie and somehow people are more willing to indulge…the mind is a tricky thing.

ENJOY!

Breakfast Fried Rice

 

Whenever we order Chinese  I get really excited. Not just because that little chubby kid is coming out of me and I get to indulge in greasy chicken and broccoli and crispy fried dumplings, but also because there is always a ridiculous amount of rice left over! Usually brown rice (you’ve got to be a little healthy when indulging, right?)

 

The beauty of leftover, plain brown rice is that there is an endless slew of possibilities to create a wonderful dish with the initial step taken care of already!

 

This time I used the rice for breakfast. I had sausage, eggs, peas, corn, and leftover rice. Which equals breakfast fried rice!

 

 

 

Breakfast Fried Rice:

 

½ an onion – roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves – roughly chopped

 

1 cup ground pork sausage – I used jimmy deans signature recipe, but breakfast would be good too!

 

2 cups cooked leftover brown rice

1/3 cup peas

1/3 cup corn

4 eggs – whisked

Olive oil

 

 

Start with a large heavy pot – if you have a wok now is the time to use it! Turn the heat on high and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Toss in the onions and garlic and let them cook until transparent – stir consistently or they will burn.

 

Next add the sausage meat and cook it through until it’s just starting to brown and get crispy, break it apart with a wooden spoon as it cooks.

 

Now add the brown rice, stir to combine. After about two minutes the rice will be warmed through and starting to fry a bit – add more oil if it is sticking too much.

 

Add in the corn and peas and stir in – if frozen give them a few extra minutes to cook through.

 

Once the peas and corn are cooked through (taste test it!) slowly pour oven the egg, stir to incorporate and let it cook for about 4 more minutes or until the egg is obviously cooked in (it will seem to disappear, but will coat rice so that it almost looks curdled)

 

At this point the texture is up to you! I didn’t let it fry too much longer as I was super hungry, but it you want crispier, add a bit more oil, let it keep cooking and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan!

 

 

Enjoy!

 

Minnesota, Homemade Pizzas – made by little helpers. An experiment with Heritage Wheat Flour.

 

We’ve made it back to Brooklyn. Successful, but now the city lacks that adventurous vibe we grew to love on the road. Not to mention the first thing we see upon our arrival into Manhattan was 45 minutes of traffic leading up to the Brooklyn Bridge.  At one point Paul turns to me and says “You haven’t cursed this much for the entire trip”…and I wasn’t even driving.

 

Perhaps needless to say, but I am back on my kick of desperately craving a change of pace from city life and the abundant consumerism that is NYC. I want adventure. In the great wide somewhere….wait that’s Belle (from Beauty and the Beast a la Disney). What I really want is simplicity, purity, and, of course, fresh good food. I want to know how our ancestors survived without supermarkets. I want to be able to live off the land. I want to be the one friends and family gather around for survival after the apocalypse hits!

 

I am only a little bit kidding.

 

I do truly believe it’s important to bridge ourselves away from the convenience of city life and learn to fend for ourselves, at least a little bit, and at least so that we don’t just blindly follow and eat whats put in front of us.

 

Of course this sounds very familiar at this point. I know I may simply be falling into the organic, back to the earth food trend that is moving around the country, but it doesn’t change my drive.  In fact it makes me more curious and adamant about the idea!

 

It was great to see places embracing farmers markets and local products, and non-hybrid crops. When you think about the last, say, ten years and how food trends have changed, and how we buy ad eat food has changed, it almost feels as though we are all part of a crazy science experiment!  Instead of searching for good cheese, we settle for the system shock that comes with the wrong choice.  It really made me wonder about the “allergy trends” as well. Granted I have a terrible memory, but I don’t remember ever hearing the words celiac, or gluten-free, or lactose intolerant or a lot of other intolerances that people seem to have developed (including myself) over the last few years. Suddenly these words and ailments are everywhere!

 

There has to be a connection to all of the genetically modified foods we eat. This is a concept that I had been questioning for a while. Then at the Mill City Farmers Market in Minnesota I found a heritage wheat flour company – wasn’t looking for it, but happily meandered over to question the owners. Their flours are all made with non modified wheat, similar to heirloom veggies – no mutations, no splicing, no combining. Just pure mother earth made wheat.

 

So I bought a bag of pizza flour (which the woman at the booth said is the exact same thing as their all purpose flour, but they label it as such for people who refuse to believe that all purpose will work for pizza). That night Paul, Kelly (my sister), and I made pizza with Paul’s three nieces (all under 7).

 

 

 

This was the best pizza I have ever made – maybe even ever had!

 

Pizza is an indulgence for me in general. When the little fat kid in me comes up and will only be satisfied by a perfect slice of New York pizza, the adult in me caves and deals with the consequences later. This time, using the heritage flour to make our dough, there were no consequences – and I mean none! It was almost jarring to eat an abundance of pizza and not feel the pain afterwords.

 

I just ordered more flour from the Sunrise Flour Mill (I used the “Pizza or All Purpose Flour” for the pizzas)

 

 

When cooking with kids it’s best to keep things simple and colorful. I followed the pizza dough instructions on the bag (3cups flour, tsp yeast, 1cup tepid water; knead for 6 minutes until smooth, and a pinch of salt, knead for 2 more minute, cover and let double in size;)

 

 

At the farmers market I also picked up a bunch of veggies – zucchini, patty pan squash, potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers, kale – and some fresh cheese. I sliced everything very very thin and made seperate bowls of colorful veggies for the girls to stick their hands into and layer whatever they wanted onto the pizzas. I used a really simple and delicious tomato sauce from a jar – look for something with very basic ingredients, the fewer the better. Also sliced some leftover italian sausage.

 

 

I found it easiest to give each girl a cookie sheet and a ball of dough – they needed some help getting it thin, but had fun dictating different shapes. Then layer sauce, cheese and veggies – let them go crazy!

 

 

Bake at 395′ F for about 15 minutes or until the crust is brown and the veggies are softened.


 

Then for dessert…dessert pizzas! Spread some Nuetella and layer fresh peach slices, bake as above.

 

 

For the record, I am not a doctor or nutritionist or in any position to guide anyone to try this product if you have severe allergies. I would however recommend trying this flour to anyone who is mildly gluten INTOLERANT – best case, like me you’ve found a solution, worst case, you have discomfort like any other day you cheat a bit.

 

(again if you’re allergic and could have a sever reaction to gluten, maybe talk to a professional first)

 

I hope you enjoy reading my crazy tangents followed by generally useful info! More to come soon.

 

ENJOY!

 

Chocolate Cranberry Coconut Granola…Almost a Kitchen Fail.

 

You can’t win’um all folks.

 

This week I wanted to make a batch of granola – something I’ve done many times with consistant success.

 

This week did not want me to make a batch of granola. Timing was off, I didn’t have the ingredients I like to use, and it was a thousand degrees and humid. But I was feeling headstrong and stubborn, so I persisted. The record for me versus the anti-granola-making-energy is a tie leaning towards the anti-granola-making-energy…and easily arguable that that stupid energy won.

 

Normally I use a slew of nuts and seeds and coco nibs and thick luscious liquid to bind everything together, but this time I didn’t have enough of the nuts and my liquid element wasn’t thick enough for everything to come together. I also attribute a lot of the issue to the fact that there was 80% humidity that day. Looking back I realize it was a loosing battle to try and remove the moisture from food when the air quality wants nothing but to surround said food in a bubble of water.

 

With that said. This recipe may be great on another day – add more maple syrup, nuts and chocolate and you’ll have a winner.


 

SIDENOTE: you can tell based on my enthusiasm that I wrote out the recipe before the granola came out of the oven…

 

Chocolate Cranberry Coconut Granola:

1 cup pure cranberry juice – unsweetened

½ cup pure maple syrup – not the fake stuff

½ cup coconut oil

 

4 cups rolled oats – not quick oats

2 cups unsalted raw sunflower seeds

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

½ cup crushed almonds

 

1 ¼ cups shredded coconut – not sweetened

 

In a sauce pan over med-high heat bring the juice, syrup and oil to a soft boil. Meanwhile in a really large mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients, excluding the shredded coconut, toss a bit to combine and set aside.

 

Once the sauce is boiling add in the coconut and stir to combine. It will look a little strange – sort of foamy and, quite honestly, a little gross. Let it cook for just a minute, then turn off the stove and pour the mixture over the ingredients in your big bowl. Carefully mix to combine (I have basically thrown granola all over my kitchen trying to mix too hastily).

 

Divide the mixture onto parchment lined cookie sheets or into coconut-oil-greased cupcake tins.

 

If you go for the cookie sheet press the granola into a thin even layer.

 

If you go the cupcake tin direction press the granola down so that it comes up about ¾ of the way up the tin, again make sure it’s even.

 

Bake in the oven at 225’ F for about a half an hour or until it’s nice and golden. Don’t forget to check regularly after the 15 minutes mark as it can go from raw-looking to dragon-fire charred in a matter of seconds.

 

A little trick I’ve picked up with granola is that if you want cereal consistency, break the granola up right away, but if you want clusters or bars let the tray dry COMPLETELY – this is especially necessary for the cupcake tin version. It’s tedious, annoying, and I often don’t have the patience for this, but there is something extra tasty about clustered granola – plus it’s better for travel!

 

 

All-in-all the taste is mostly there it just never got crispy darn it!

 

May you have better luck and more pleasant weather!

 

ENJOY!

Fourth of July Picnic and James Taylor at Tanglewood.

The past few years have brought on uneventful fourth of Julys. To be perfectly honest I don’t really remember what we did…other than eat mass amounts of some sort of meat. Though again it’s more a hazy fog of burgers, pork, and hot dogs than a specific tantalizing bite. This year was a little different.

 

There was very little meat to speak of – just a few slices of ham and prosciutto. Otherwise, Paul and I had a very relaxing fourth at Tanglewood in the Berkshires, sitting on a red, white and blue sheet, eating a random spread of foodage, and listening to the so-close-yet-very-far-away songs of James Taylor. Neither of us are particular fans of James Taylor, but my grandma gave us the tickets and the picnicking part sounded like a great way to spend an evening.
So I hastily packed our cooler with a few essentials – forks, a steak knife, a spoon, napkins, two empty Tupperware containers, and water. and we headed for the market.

 

 

There we picked up tomatoes, avocado, shallots, lemon, tortilla chips, prosciutto, ham, provolone, greek yogurt, bread (I know it’s not gluten-free this time), watermelon, basil, fresh mozzarella, and wine! I also snagged a few packets of salt and pepper – they usually have these in markets that have ready to foods. much easier than packing my shakers, and they’re free!With our strange assortment of edibles we drove on to the concert, parked on a crazy steep hill, found that everybody else had been there at least three hours before we arrived, and found a patch of grass behind two buildings to spread out, enjoy the view, and listen to the music from a far away stage. Oh and people watching! It was great.

 

 

Picnic blanket Guacamole:

1 avocado

1 shallot – cut into thin slices don’t worry about even slices if you’re in a park

½ a lemons juice

A handful of cherry tomatoes – cut in half

Two little packets of salt (about a tsp)

Two little packets of pepper (about a tsp)

 

Place all into a tuperware and shake until destroyed (in a good way)

Eat with tortilla chips or on a sandwich or just bread…or with a spoon.

 

Cut.

 

Combine.

 

Shake.

Eat.

 

A couple things to take note of from my “packing list” I forgot a cutting surface, so I ended up using the top of my Tupperware. I forgot plates, or any sort of eating surface, so we just did without. and I forgot cups, so I ended up sawing the top off of one of our water bottles after chugging the water and we drank our wine from the butt of the water bottle. I only travel and eat with class.

 

 

 

Quick awesome all-purpose dip/spread:

 

1 small container of greek yogurt

½ a lemons juice

1 little packet of salt (about ½ a tsp)

1 little packet of pepper (about ½ a tsp)

about 6 leaves of fresh basil – torn into strips/small pieces

 

combine all in a tuperware and shake until combined.

 

 

 

Park Pork Sandwich:

Crusty Bread

Provalone cheese slices

Black forest ham – nitrate free!

Prosciuto

awesome all-purpose dip/spread (see above)

Basil leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caprese Bites:

Fresh Mozzarella – any size is fine, if big, cut to bite sized pieces (in water is better here)

Bunch of fresh basil

Cherry tomatoes

Water – to rinse things that need it

 

Stack and eat.

 

 

 

Watermelon Salad:

pre-cut watermelon

Fresh Basil – torn into pieces

 

Open the container of cut watermelon. Sprinkle over the basil….yeah, that’s it.

 

 

 

Next time I might sprinkle just a little bit of salt on the watermelon to bring out more of the flavors. I am a big fan of salty-sweets. Otherwise this turned into a very memorable picnic! Of course you don’t have to make all of this in the park. I just enjoyed the challenge/didn’t plan ahead properly, but everything we made was very easy to put together and tasted fresher in the great outdoors!

 


It was a good day :)

 

ENJOY!

 

Doughnuts! Maple Bacon, Coffee Coffee, and Lemon Poppy Seed!

This morning we took the dog (Albus Dumbledog) to Prospect Park. It was  absolutely beautiful walking near the big lake then latter Albus run free amongst the other doggins as they frolic and chase tennis balls…and then jumped into the lake. Ah the simple pleasures of dog life. I wish I got the same joy out of slobbering on tennis balls, but I alas my palette is more complex. I crave much more involved flavors…like doughnuts (good segway, right?). Today I made doughnuts, mostly just because I wanted doughnuts. Gluten-free doughnuts.

 

 

As an avid Pinterest-er and viewer of food-porn I have stubbled across the lazy-mans homemade doughnut a few times – i.e. grands biscuits. Though I couldn’t bring myself to try that version, I was inspired by the concept of biscuit + frying = doughnut. So I grabbed a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Biscuit/baking flour mix. I have to say this was an amazingly successful experiment!

 

Doughnuts:

2 eggs plus one yolk – whisked until foamy

3 tbsp butter – whipped

½ cup sugar

1 24oz bag of bob’s Red Mill gluten free biscuit/baking flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tbsp tapioca flour

pinch of salt

1 1/3 cup buttermilk

 

 

Fill a deep pot with 5 inches of corn oil, and heat on med-high.

 

Combine eggs sugar and butter. Sift flours, powder, soda and salt then combine with the egg mixture. Slowly add the buttermilk with the mixer on. Mix just until combined.

 

 

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and roll out to an inch thick. If you have biscuit cutters here’s your chance to use them. If, like me, you do not have biscuit cutters it’s time to get creative! I used a juice cup for the big circle, then cut a plastic bottle in half and used the open spout to cut out the center doughnut hole (see the photo).

 

 

 

 

 


Try to get the most out of the first rolling – the second gets a little denser.  This recipe made about 2-dozen doughnuts and after a certain point I decided to just tear off pieces and make a bunch of doughnut holes.

 

Test the oil to make sure it’s hot enough with a small piece of dough – it should bubble and sizzle when you drop it in and rise to the top very quickly. Carefully drop in your doughnuts three at a time (depending on your pot size, just don’t crowd them or the oil will loose too much heat). Flip when the edges are noticeably golden – about a minute. Flip again after a minute, then remove after ten seconds.

 

 

Dip in glaze then sprinkle with decorative items.

 

 

Doughnut toppings:

To make a glaze combine equal parts liquid and sugar – if it seems to thin add more sugar. Adjust as you need to.

 

Maple Bacon:

Maple Syrup

Confectioners Sugar

Sprinkle crispy bacon

 

 

Coffee Coffee:

Manhattan Special coffee soda

Confectioners sugar

Sprinkle with ground espresso

 

 

Lemon Poppy Seed:

Lemon juice

Confectioners Sugar

Sprinkle glazed doughnut with peppy seeds

  

 

Lavender Sugar:

Dried lavender flowers

Granulated sugar

 

 

Cinnamon Sugar:

Cinnamon

Granulated sugar

 

 

I was a little impatient with my glazing – it will stay on better if you give the doughnuts a chance to cool down first…I didn’t wait because I couldn’t. Either way these are my kind of doughnuts, they’re crispy yet soft and not too sweet. The perfect fit for my whim of a craving.

 

ENJOY!

 

 

A better BLT

How do make the perfect indulgent sandwich a little lighter? Use portabella mushrooms instead of bread!

 

 

This open-face sandwich – though maybe not exactly healthy – is a lot lighter than your standard BLT. There’s no bread and instead of gloppy mayo I whipped up some goat cheese goodness (with bacon and horseradish).

 

 

A better BLT:

2 portabella mushrooms
2 handfuls of Arugula
4 slices of tomato
5-1,000,000 slices of bacon – cooked to your liking (I like just before super crispy)
4 tbsp goat cheese spread (see below)

 

Goat Cheese Spread:
½ goat cheese
2 slices of extra crispy bacon – crumbled
2 tbsp horseradish
Milk to thin

 

Brush the portabellas with olive oil and grill them – on a griddle or grill or use a frying pan pressing down with a weight – flipping after about 6 minutes. Cook until just cooked through – stick a knife through the thickest part, if it goes in easily without much pressure it’s ready!

 

 

Assembly:

Take your cooked portabella and spread it with 2 tablespoons of the goat cheese awesomeness. Place 2 tomato slices, then bacon, then a handful of Arugula. Eat and feel good knowing that your BLT is a little bit healthier. Then eat doughnuts.

 

 

 

 

ENJOY!

Grandma Aurora’s Pecan Pie Muffins (made Gluten-free)

Today is one of those chilly, breezy days where everything smells fresh and familiar. As though everything you see is a memory of something wonderful, long forgotten. It’s the kind of day that makes me think of my childhood and my favorite things to do as a kid. One of which was cooking with my Grandmother. This past christmas she and my Grandfather gave me a recipe box that they made from crab bushel wood (they live on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia).  The box is filled with my grandmothers recipes. It’s really an adult treasure chest.

 

 

Going with the sentiment of the day I decided to whip out the recipe box and choose something to whip up. I chose my Grandma’s Pecan Pie Muffins. They are chewy, crunchy, buttery, nutty goodness. They aren’t too similar to regular muffins – they aren’t as dense, there is no “top of the muffin” and they don’t really rise that much. BUT they are freaking amazing and, for me, a perfect way to travel back to my grandma’s kitchen

 

 

Grandma Aurora’s Pecan Pie Muffins (made Gluten-free): 

1 cup chopped raw pecans

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill All-purpose)

1 heaping tsp baking powder

sprinkle of salt

2 large eggs

½ cup (1 stick) melted butter

splash of Grand Marnier  (or other orange liquor, or vanilla extract, or experiment, or leave it out)

 

 

Combine the flour and sugar, add in the nuts and salt. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until foamy/bubbly, then slowly drizzle in the melted butter whisking continuously (if you dump it all in at once you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Ew.)

 

Pour the egg mixture over the flour/nut mixture and stir to combine. Splash in your Grand Marnier and mix it in.

 

This is a very runny batter so don’t be scared if it looks different than other muffin batters…the emphasis is really on “Pie”.

 

Pour into a greased or paper lined muffin pan filling each section about ¾ full.  These muffins don’t rise that much (even the non-gluten free version stays pretty low).

 

Cook in a 350’ F oven for 10-15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and perfectly crunchy looking.

 

This batch makes twelve muffins.

 

 

 

 
 

 

One of my favorite things about my Grandmother is how she always remembers good stories and little details about everybody. For example, she always has honey out for me in the morning to go with my coffee even though I’m the only only one who drinks it that way. She also gives the absolute best presents and somehow makes them even more special than the inherit specialness (yes that’s a word). On my recipe box she added a reminder of a very funny afternoon I spent with them down in Virginia.

 

We were eating lunch on their front porch under a giant umbrella when we noticed a tree frog perched high up on the shaft. We had been hearing this frog for a while, but couldn’t figure out where he was, so we were all very excited when we finally discovered him hiding in the umbrella. He seemed perfectly content to just hang out while we were eating and we went about preparing our lunch – wraps. I had a wrap layer on my palm to which I had just applied some mayo – I like more mayo than I should – and was reaching for the mustard…and that’s when Mr. Frog decided he didn’t want to be on the umbrella anymore, so he jumped down, landed on my chest and I smashed my mayo loaded wrap into my own face!

 

The frog hopped off of me and onto a tree branch before I even knew what happened, and of course the next ten mayo-covered minutes were spent in hysterics over the ridiculousness of the whole scene!

 

On top of my recipe box my Grandmother painted that green frog. Every time I see it I am both a smiling fool and have a strong desire to wash my face.

 

 

I really need to get back down to Virginia.

 

 

ENJOY!

Chocolate Ganache Rhubarb Tart

Farmers markets are a great source for inspiration. I tend to go with a vaguely formulated recipe in my head and end up with a colorful basket of randomness and an even more vague idea of what to make. Somehow on the walk home I manage to muster a game plan and this weekend produced a decadent rhubarb tart with chocolate ganache and an oat and walnut crust (garnished with fresh mint leaves).

 

 

Crust:
1 cup walnuts – soaked for at least 8 hours – well drained
¾ cup whole rolled oats
½ stick unsalted butter – melted

 

Fruit compote:
2 large stalks of fresh rhubarb – cut into small pieces (these will be cooked down so the shape doesn’t really matter)
A handful of strawberries (I used about 5 as that was what was salvageable from the molding package at the back of my fridge…) cut into small pieces
¾ sugar
¼ cup water

 

Chocolate ganache:
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

 

Combine the nuts and oats in a food processor and blend until it begins to clump – similar to pastry dough, this will thin out first then start to form cluster-like blobs. With the food processor on low slowly pour in the melted butter. Keep the mixer on until all of the butter is in plus ten seconds (general number, don’t be scared if it’s not exact)

 

Press the mixture into a 8″ non-greased tart pan (scalloped edges with a disc that pushes out from the bottom). You want it to be about ¼” thick, making sure it is even all the way across and that it gets into all of the edges.

 

Bake in a 375’ F oven for about ten minutes or until the edges are nicely brown and the center is just golden.

 

Let the tart shell cool completely.

 

 

While it’s cooling prepare the fruit compote – I used rhubarb and a few strawberries but really any berries would work for this – just use less sugar for sweeter berries. Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over med-high heat for about ten minutes or until the fruit has broken down and become similar to a thin jam.

 

Now I cheated with my ganache…I used the microwave. Heat the heavy cream in a large microwave safe bowl for 1 min 30 seconds – or don’t be lazy and heat in a double boiling just until scalded – not boiling. Remove from heat/microwave and dump in the chocolate. Stir until combined. If it’s to thin add a few more chocolate chips and stir again.

 

Pour the ganache over the cooled tart shell, making sure it spreads to cover the entire surface and into every edge.

 

Wait about 3-5 minute for the ganache to settle a little, then pour the fruit on top – it’s difficult to push around so make sure you dollop a little into each section. Place the tart in the fridge for an hour and voila!

 

 

Beautiful, easy, gluten-free dessert.

 

 

A tip for unveiling: invert a cake stand and place the tart on the stem, gently pry the sides out and down. This way you don’t need to juggle the tart around – just let the ring fall and take your tart where you will.

 

 

ENJOY!

Herb Butter

Butter. Butter. Butter. Butter.

 

I LOVE BUTTER!

 

And when you add greenery to butter it makes it healthy, right?… ok maybe not, but it certainly does make it extra irresistible. Now I’m not the first to create a flavored compound butter, but I will beep my own horn and say that this one is particularly tasty. The combination of herbs lightens the density and the zest brightens everything…you can almost fool yourself into believing it is healthy! Almost.

 

 

 

 

My Herby Butter:

A heaping tbsp of each – roughly chopped

Sage

Marjoram

Thyme

 

Heaping tsp each – roughly chopped:

Mint

Lemon zest

Rosemary

1 stick of unsalted butter – cut into 1” cubes

 

 

Combine all in a food processor (or smush all together with a fork) until the butter is whipped (soft, airy, and spreadable without being too melty)

 

Serve on warm bread sprinkled with coarse salt.

 

 

The herbs are fresh and summery, and the zest gives the unifying flavor that makes all these strong tastes meld together in yummy, buttery, harmony.

ENJOY!

Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Homemade Ricotta and Fresh Herbs

For a very long time now I have wanted to try squash blossoms, but alas the universe had yet to give me the means to do so. I always just miss the last batch at the farmers market, or that happens to be the one dish the restaurant is out of. It’s been frustrating, but somehow I made it through. And this past Sunday one of my dreams came true.

 

Paul and I took the dog to the farmers market to meander through the glory of springs bounty.  We enjoyed a handful of cherries. Stopped for a brief doggy interaction. Picked up a bag of mussel. And then it happened. I turned my head to gaze upon the wonderful wall of greens and lo and behold a sparkle of orangey yellow goodness. My holy grail. A dozen squash blossoms waiting to be plucked from them station, calling out to me.

 

I didn’t have to fight anybody for them, but I would have. And now that I’ve had them I will fight people every weekend if need be! My life feels complete.

 

 

 

Ricotta:

I found this recipe on Bon Appetit. It’s super easy, extra tasty, and confidence boosting – to hear the awe (and sometimes undertones of nauseated hatred) in peoples’ voices when they say “you made your own ricotta?”  make it all worth it.

 

What you will need:

8 cups whole milk

pinch of salt

3 tbsp lemon juice

Cheese cloth

 

Basically if you can make store bought pasta, you can make your own ricotta. The only thing I would add to the recipe is to not squeeze the whey out too much. You’ll see how satisfying it is to keep twisting the cheese cloth so the moisture drops are raining through the mesh and trying to coax more and more out…but it will dry out the ricotta, so stop yourself a little bit.

 

 

Blossom Filling:

1ish cup fresh ricotta

5 large leaves of fresh basil

2 large leaves of fresh purple basil

2-3 leaves of fresh mint

1 med shallot – halved and thinly sliced

1 large garlic clove – minced

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper – about a tsp each

 

In a sauté pan combine the oil, butter, shallot, garlic salt and pepper. Sauté until transparent and just browning. Combine the ricotta and the herbs in a bowl. Pour over the cooked shallot mixture and combine.

 

Prep a shallow, wide mouthed bowl with ½ cup gluten free all purpose flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill) and ½ cup corm meal – stir with a fork to combine.

 

 

Gently open the squash blossoms – I found some were too small to push the mixture through the end so for these I created a seam down one side and opened it carefully. Using either a small spoon or you fingers press a small amount of the cheese mixture into the bottom of the blossoms then fill to your liking, again being very careful not to break the flowers. Once full of cheese mixture, press them closed and place into the flour.

 

Prep a sauté pan (I used the same one that I cooked the shallots in – fewer dishes) with about an inch of olive oil, heat for 5 minutes over med-high heat until it pops when you flick a drop of water in.

 

Lightly coat each blossom with the flour/corn meal mixture and place in the hot oil. Cook on each side for about two minutes or until golden brown.

 

Transfer to a paper-towel covered plate and sprinkle with salt and squeeze over fresh lemon juice.

 

Eat while hot – not so you burn yourself (obviously), but the fresher from the oil the better.

 

 

 

These will change your life.

 

 

ENJOY!

Double Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Sometimes you just need a cookie. And sometimes you just need that cookie doubled and surrounding ice cream, i.e. ice cream sandwich. I recently needed two incredibly rich, yet somehow still airy and light, cookies enveloping Ben and Jerry’s wonderfully amazing Cherry Garcia ice cream – a personal favorite. I had salad for dinner…you know, for balance…and then I ate two sandwiches… You may have caught on that I really like cookies…

 

 

The base:

1 cup gluten-free Oat Flour

¼ cup cocoa

1 stick of Butter – room temperature

½ cup Brown Sugar

½ cup White Sugar

1 egg

1 Tbsp Cinnamon

1 Tsp Baking Soda

1 Tbsp Coarse Salt

1 Tsp Vanilla

¾ cup gluten-free rolled Oats

 

The adjustables:

¾ cup Chocolate Chips

6 chocolate truffles –cut into small pieces

¾ cup Dried Cherries – tart cherries, not sweetened

 

1.) Preheat the oven to 350’ (f)

2.) Whip Butter

3.) Add sugar and vanilla- cream into butter

4.) Add egg to mixture

5.) Separate bowl- combine flour soda salt cinnamon

6.) Slowly add flour mix to butter mix

7.) Stir in oats, and the adjustables – these are the ingredients to play with, i.e. different fruit, nuts, or whatever you think would work (I have a plan to try an oatmeal chocolate bacon cookie)

 

8.) Cover the batter and put it in the fridge for about twenty minutes – especially if it’s warm in your kitchen, this is really important. Form into 1-1 1/2’’ balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheets leaving about 3’’ between cookies. Gently press each ball into the sheet to prevent rolling as they begin to cook.

 

9.) Bake on parchment just till tops look  just a little crunchy – approx 5-8 minutes – the middle will look a little undercooked, not raw, but a finger poke will not show a firm cookie.

 

10.) Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes before moving. They need this time to solidify and almost dry out so that they don’t crumble when you pick them up.

 

11.) While your cookies cool take your ice cream out of the freezer so that it softens up a bit. When they are cooled scoop a generous amount of ice cream onto one cookie and press down with another one…EAT!

 

Pure joy. No regrets.

 

These make me really happy, and would be a great follow-up to any meal…or a perfect midnight snack ;)

 

ENJOY!

 

Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies

One word.

Bacon.

Wait, more words.

Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies.

I just want to keep repeating this.


What could better? It’s a salty chocolatey cookie.

A few weeks ago I made my loaded Oatmeal cookies and mentioned the intent to try a bacon version. It seems bacon is finding it’s way into all sorts of recipes in my kitchen lately, which is funny for me because I was actually not a fan of bacon until relatively recently.  Growing up, I just didn’t like it. I didn’t understand the whole obsession. I was scoffed at constantly for ordering my club sandwiches with no bacon, ridiculed and questioned for my demented palette, even accosted with the line “I even have Jewish friends who love bacon!”

Sigh. It was a difficult time for me. One that I am making up for in leaps and bounds since about a year ago when my loving boyfriend made me breakfast and insisted that I try

his bacon.  Hesitant at first from my multiple unsuccessful attempts to enjoy the fatty meat, I raised a small piece to my mouth….and proceeded to consume all of the bacon that he had prepared like a ravenous dog let lose on the family picnic.

After this It seems only natural that bacon would eventually end up in a cookie recipe…

 


Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies:

The base:
1 cup gluten-free Oat Flour
1 stick of Butter – room temperature
½ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup White Sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Nutmeg
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Coarse Salt
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 cup gluten-free rolled Oats

The adjustables:
1 cup Chocolate Chips
1 lb of
Bacon

1 ) Preheat the oven to 350’ (f)
2 ) Cook the bacon in a skillet until extra crispy.
Drain over paper towels then chop into small bits when cooled.
3 ) Whip Butter
4 ) Add sugar and vanilla- cream into butter
5 ) Add egg to mixture
6 ) Separate bowl- combine flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg
7 ) Slowly add flour mix to butter mix
8 ) Stir in oats, and the chocolate chips and bacon and 1 tbsp bacon fat (I know this sounds gross, but it’s so good).

9 ) Cover the batter and put it in the fridge for about twenty minutes – especially if it’s warm in your kitchen, this is really important. Form into 1-1 1/2’’ balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheets leaving about 3’’ between cookies. Gently press each ball into the sheet to prevent rolling as they begin to cook.

10 ) Bake on parchment just till edges are brown – approx 5-8 minutes- the middle will look a little undercooked, not raw, but a finger poke will not show a firm cookie.

11 ) Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes before moving. They need this time to solidify and almost dry out so that they don’t crumble when you pick them up.

It’s as though I’ve discovered I have a child that I didn’t know about. A salty, chewy, sweet, delicious child….served with vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!


Fried Okra…more salty goodness.

When I think of BBQ, or the South, or things that I find super tasty, I go straight for fried okra…mmmm.

Of course the biggest problem with fried okra is given away in its name…fried, and usually breaded and deep fried at that!

Well, drum roll please, I’ve broken that rule! Still fried, but no longer breaded or deep fried- much less oil and no extra calories from breading! I’d even still be willing to call this a vegetable!



This recipe is super tasty and ridiculously easy- though perhaps a bit tedious.



Start with a bunch of fresh okra- I haven’t tried this with frozen okra, but I don’t think it will work because of the water content in frozen veggies. 

All you do is cut off both ends of each spear, then cut lengthwise into quarters (the photos show the pieces cut just in half…this was a lazy mistake as they didn’t gain that wonderful crispiness like they usually do)

Heat a skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil on high heat. Carefully toss in a handful of the cut up okra and let it fry up, shake the pan and let them brown off on both sides- adjust the heat if they start to burn.  When they are sufficiently browned- about half browned and half green- dump the okra onto a paper-towel or paper-bag and toss with coarse salt. Keep going until you use it all, adding more oil before each batch.



You need quite a lot of fresh okra to get a full bowl, but these are a wonderful substitute for regular chips! And similarly- at least in my case- the whole batch will be gone before you know it…

Enjoy!

Pop. Pop. Popcorn.

Snacking is a big problem for me.  I love the kind of food that I can shovel into my mouth by the bucket-full.  Chips, salsa, seeds, cheese puffs, grapes, humus, and my new favorite food to experiment with….Popcorn.


I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I don’t have much of a sweet-tooth, but give me a bag of anything that bursts with salty goodness and I’ll swoon.  It’s no surprise then that popcorn is high on my list of favorite snack foods, but I have to admit, that I had been getting bored with just salt and butter. Ergo experiment time!

Forgetfulness actually aided my inspiration today….I forgot to use an ingredient in my dinner last night, so rather than having them go bad, I decided to use my package of sun-dried tomatoes on my popcorn. 

The result almost makes me want to forget things more often. 

What I did:

Made some fresh popcorn- I coat a sauce pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, then coat the bottom with popcorn kernels. Cover the pot and turn it on medium-high heat. When you hear the first pop start shaking the pot back and forth over the burner- I just drag it across the burner, but just keep it as close as you are comfortable if you can’t stand the noise.  Similar to micro-wave popcorn, when the popping slows turn the stove off, leave the lid on for a few minutes until the popping stops.

Dump the popcorn into a big bowl, drizzle with olive oil or melted butter and a generous amount of coarse salt. At this point you can do anything!  Today I added my forgotten tomatoes- chopped up into small pieces- and some leftover basil ribbons…and more salt.



I ate most of this bowl…it’s as big as it looks….

Some other ideas:

Use melted butter then toss in unsweetened coco powder, sugar and salt

Use a generous amount of Rosemary infused olive oil toss in grated Parmesan

Use left-over bacon (or make a new batch- does anyone ever have left-over bacon?), chopped chives and pepper

Happy snacking!