Category Archives: Food

Lets Get Saucy: Roasted Veggies with Horseradish Buerre Blanc

I am tired of being cold. There I said it. Yesterday was the first day of spring, yet last Sunday saw 4 inches of snow dumped on DC and we are expecting another winter event next week. I think what bothers me the most is the teasing – just days before the last snow storm it was in the 70s here and I was walking to the bus stop in the morning wearing a dress and cardigan. Mother nature, YOU ARE DRUNK, go home!!!!

Despite all the snow and horrible wind-chills, there is one sure sign that spring may really be on its way. Weekly asparagus sales at grocery store. It doesn’t matter if its fat or thin, if its on sale, I’m buying it – and probably devouring it within a couple of days. Although, the way I devour it will differ depending on the girth of the stalks. Thin, spindly stalks are great for stir-fry, quiches, and risotto because it cooks quickly; while the thicker stalks stand up better to roasting and grilling.

The asparagus season coincided with me finally perfecting burre blanc sauce. A deceptively simple mix of white wine, an acid (vinegar or lemon), and butter, it can go from perfect creaminess to a mess in a matter of seconds. After lots of practice though (and maybe a bit of wasted butter), I can whip up a simple buerre blanc without thinking about it. It does have to be used all at once, as reheating it leaves with an oily separated liquid, so I still only pull it out for full meals and dinner parties, and not for many meals for one. I like to whisk in a bit of horseradish at the end, giving the sauce a fresh bite at the end.

Roasted Veggies with Horseradish Buerre Blanc

Roasted Veggies with Buerre Blanc 1

1 bunch “fat” asparagus
1 bag frozen artichoke heart quarters
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms
olive oil
salt & pepper

Horseradish Buerre Blanc
¼ cup dry white wine
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
½ cup butter, cubed and chilled
1 tbsp prepared horseradish

1)     Pre-heat oven to 375ºF. Place frozen artichokes in a bowl of warm (not hot) water) to defrost. Once they have mostly defrosted, drain well, squeezing very gently to remove some extra water.

2)     Wash mushrooms and cut into quarter (for medium mushrooms) or sixths (for larger mushrooms). Place in a large bowl. Trim asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces and add to the bowl with the mushrooms. Give your artichokes one last shake to remove water and toss with the asparagus and mushrooms.

Roasted Veggies with Buerre Blanc - prepped veggies

Veggies before I defrosted the artichokes…

3)     Drizzle vegetables with a tablespoon to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a 9×13-inch casserole pan. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, until the leaves of the artichoke start to crisp.

4)     While the vegetables roast: In a small sauce pan, combine white wine, vinegar, and garlic. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the liquid has reduced by a little more than half (about 2-3 tablespoons of liquid remaining).

Roasted Veggies with Buerre Blanc - simmer wine and garlic

5)     Reduce the heat to low and begin whisking in the chilled cubed butter a piece or two at a time. In order to create a perfect creamy beurre blanc, the butter must melt slowly into the sauce. Generally, the constant addition of cold butter should keep the sauce from heating too quickly; if the butter does appear to be melting too fast, remove the pan from the heat source for a few moments while continuing to whisk vigorously.

Roasted Veggies with Buerre Blanc - finished buerre blanc

6)     Whisk in 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish and serve immediately.

Cheddar-Jack Cheese Crackers

Meet Rosie, the KitchenAid mixer. Yes, I name my cars and my kitchen toys.

Meet Rosie, the KitchenAid mixer. Yes, I name my cars and my kitchen toys.

Everyone, I want to introduce you to my newest toy, I’ve named her Rosie, after the Jetson’s robot. My mom has had an old school KitchenAid mixer for years and years, and I loved using it when I was growing up. So Tom, knowing how much I wanted one of my own, gave me a Professional 600 series this Christmas. Since we drove 20+ hours to Texas for 2 weeks over the holidays, we decided to wait to order the mixer until after we returned. Since getting the mixer, unpacking it, and happily reading the user manual from cover to cover, I have not had a chance to actually plug in Rosie and use her.

I knew I wanted to make something special to christen my new mixer, so I spent the intervening time considering my options. Rosie deserved something special – something I’d never tried before, but that had a high probability of being successful the first time around. I didn’t want Rosie to be tainted by bad mojo after all! I considered fresh English muffins or naan, homemade marshmallows, and several other options. Over the days, as I made my mental list of recipes, I remembered the delicious cheese crackers Tom’s dad made for the holidays and the many homemade cheese crackers I’d seen on Pinterest. Considering my love of cheese, homemade cheddar crackers were clearly the answer.

Cheese Crackers - Amazing finished product

I chose Joy the Baker’s sharp cheddar cheese crackers as my base recipe. Wanting to create added depth, and never one to shy away from cheese, I chose to add a couple of ounces of monterey jack cheese and several spices. I experimented with a few different sizes of cracker (mostly because I wasn’t very steady with the pizza cutter) and settled on 1×1 inch as my favorite size. Although this adorable fish shaped cutter may make an appearance if I find myself making this recipe frequently. The crackers were sharp and tangy and beautifully crisp fresh from the oven. Stored over night, they lost some of the crispness, but were still addicting.

Cheese Crackers - cheddar crackers fresh from the oven

Cheddar-Jack Cheese Crackers
8 ounces sharp cheddar
2 ounces monterey jack cheese
¾ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp paprika
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp cold water

1)      Finely shred the cheddar and monterey jack cheeses.

Cheese Crackers - Sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheese

Cheese Crackers - 8oz shredded cheddar and 2oz shredded jack cheeses

2)      Combined spices, butter, and shredded cheese in the bowl of your mixer and blend until a soft ball is formed.

Cheese Crackers - season with salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder

Cheese Crackers - cream butter and cheese

3)      With the mixer on low speed, add the flours. The mixture will form course crumbs. Add the cold water a tablespoon at a time until soft, but not sticky dough forms. You may need a teaspoon or so more than 2 tablespoons.

Cheese Crackers - finished dough

4)      Form the dough into a thick disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

5)      When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375ºF and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

6)      Cut the dough in half and replace one half in the fridge. Roll the dough into a thin rectangle, thinner than ⅛ inch. When you think its thin enough, roll it one more time.

Cheese Crackers - roll dough very thin

Cheese Crackers - use a pizza slicer to cut 1in squares

7)      Using a cookie cutter or pizza cutter cut crackers that are about an inch in size. Use a toothpick to pierce the center of the cracker and then place on the cookie sheets. These will not expand out, so the crackers can be placed relatively close together.

Cheese Crackers - let the crackers cool

8)       Bake the crackers for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the edges just begin to brown. Let cool completely before serving or storing.

Homemade cheddar crackers for everyone!

9) Repeat the process with the second half of the dough or freeze the dough for later.

Strawberry Tarragon & Chèvre Ice Cream – Turning Old Recipes into New Recipes

strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 3There is still snow and ice on the ground here in Virginia, yet here I am sharing an ice cream recipe with you all while I bask in the warmth of my fireplace.  I can’t believe that just a few days ago I returned from a week’s vacation exploring Hilton Head Island and Savannah.  Though not exactly bikini, sun bathing weather, the days ranged from the high 60′s and even soared into the low 80s. The nights rarely strayed below 50.  With the lovely early spring-like weather in abundance,  I spent a lot of time riding my bike and playing in the sand. I even dared a little wading into the still very cold Atlantic waters.  Between the sunshine filled dayssmall_8262 and all my activity, I definitely worked up a sweat.  Though in Savannah my favorite cool down treat was Georgia peach sangria to go, which I’d sip delightedly under the beautiful oaks of the city’s famous squares, in Hilton Head I’d ride my bike up the beach to Coligny Plaza to place myself in the giddy conundrum of choosing one ice cream  from nearly 100 different flavors.  It is no surprise that I returned home with ice cream, pretty beverages, and summer time on my brain.  Let’s get back to that ice cream now, shall we?

strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 5Most of you know I purchased myself an ice cream machine last summer when I shared my Lighten Up the Churn Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream. I absolutely loved how the lightened up custard base (aka French style ice cream) turned out and so I kept experimenting with it.  You know me, I love to play with flavor.  However, I’m not much of a garlic ice-cream type girl myself, but I wanted to try something savory.  The idea made me think of my strawberry bruschetta, where I took sweet strawberries and gave them a savory twist with tarragon, black pepper, and goat cheese.  Why wouldn’t the same idea work with ice cream? So I decided to give it a go and created  a goat cheese base in which I added the remaining elements of my bruschetta dish. It worked beautifully!

The smooth base had a slight tang from the goat cheese, off-set by both strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 2the sweet strawberry flavor as well as the fruit’s added chunky texture.  Although I couldn’t discern the black pepper as I could in the bruschetta, the tarragon gave all this creamy goodness a cleansing burst of freshness.  And what a pretty ice cream it made, too!

Now what are some of your own favorite recipes that you think would make an awesome ice cream flavor?

Strawberry Tarragon & Chèvre Ice Cream

Ingredients

strawberry tarragon chevre ingredients

  • 1 cup small diced strawberries
  • ¼ cup Chèvre (goat cheese), crumbled for easier melting
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped tarragon
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided in half, plus 1 tablespoon separated
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 12 ounce can evaporated low fat milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and seeded
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3-4 egg yolks

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine diced strawberries, 1 tablespoon sugar, chopped tarragon, and ground pepper.  Toss to mix, then set aside while preparing the Chèvre ice cream base.strawberry tarragon mixture
  2. In a saucepan, combine whole milk, evaporated milk, 1/4 cup sugar, corn syrup, and sea salt. Whisk to combine
  3. Next add the vanilla seeds and pod to the milk mixture.adding vanilla bean to base
  4. Heat the milk mixture gently over medium heat to 180° Fahrenheit. You’re looking for tiny bubbles around the edge, NOT a boil. Remove from heat.
  5. Set aside for at least 10 minutes to allow milk mixture to cool.
  6. While milk mixture is cooling, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl.strawberry tarragon yolks and cream base 1
  7. After milk mixture has cooled at least 10 minutes, begin to gradually add milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs.strawberry tarragon yolks and cream base 2
  8. Return entire mixture to the saucepan. Turn stove to medium heat.strawberry tarragon ice cream base reheat
  9. Stir Chèvre into warm milk, allowing cheese to melt into mixture. It will be lumpy at first, but will smooth out once the cheese melts.strawberry tarragon add chevre to base
  10. Stirring constantly, continue cook the ice cream base until it reaches 160° Fahrenheit.
  11. Place a mesh sieve over a large mixing bowl and strain ice cream base. Discard the vanilla bean pod and any other solids.strawberry tarragon straining base
  12. Fill another large bowl with ice cubes. Place the bowl containing the ice cream base over the ice.strawberry tarragon base on ice
  13. Allow ice cream base to cool, about 20 minutes.

Replace the following steps with the instructions that came with your particular ice cream maker.

  1. Turn on the ice cream maker and carefully pour the ice cream base mixture into the frozen freezer bowl.strawberry tarragon ice cream base into maker
  2. Pour strawberry mixture into the freezer bowl with the base.  NOTE: Typically, ice cream mix-ins are added in the last five minutes of the process, but I wanted the strawberry and tarragon flavors to infuse into the base.  You can wait to do this until later if you wish.strawberry tarragon fruit into maker
  3. Allow the the mixture to churn and thicken into a soft serve like, creamy texture, approximately 35-40 minutes.
    strawberry tarragon ice cream churning 1 strawberry tarragon ice cream churning 2
  4. Divide ice cream into freezer safe, air tight containers. Cover and freeze until ice cream is firm, about 3 hours.
    strawberry tarragon ice cream ready strawberry tarragon ice cream freezer containers

Be sure to check out my Lighten Up the Churn recipe for other notes.

strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 1

Back to Basics : Thai Red Curry

basic curry 2

Late last summer, Emilie came up with a fabulous idea for a Cork and Spoon post series: Back to Basics.  Even in late August, our friends were already sending us text messages and e-mails about holiday recipes and plans and asking pretty basic questions: what’s the best way to cook a turkey, what wine goes with this dish, how do I…and so on and so forth.  So, Emilie concluded, why not write a series of posts about the cooking topics our friends ask us about the most?  Couldn’t argue there!

I often get questions about Asian dishes from my friends, not exactly surprising since I am Asian and grew up in Asia, and the most popular basic curry 8request is how to make a Thai-style curry.  I’ve already shared a few recipes with you, but today, it’s Back to Basics!

So what are the basic ingredients of a Thai-style curry? My basics are:

  •  red or green curry paste (homemade or store-bought)
  •  a can or two of coconut milk
  • fish sauce (a must!)
  • garlic
  • basil (Thai or Sweet)
  • veggies
  • steamed white rice (jasmine)

I also like a protein, but that is, of course, optional.

basic curry 5Like many Asian dishes, Thai-curry comes in a plethora of forms because it is very much regionally and family based.  I have been to quite a few Thai restaurants and Thai homes in my life and not one has served the exact same dish.  So what does that mean? That means that once you have the basics down you really can’t go wrong.

Now for some more curry basics to keep in mind while cooking.

  • As I’ve stated in other posts, do not allow the coconut milk to boil. Bubbles=bad. Your curry will curdle. Now, I often step away a tad too long from the stove and end up with curdled curry.  It will taste just fine, but it won’t look very pretty.
  • Asian food is about balance. Thai food may have a spicy  reputation, but notice that despite the heat (for your daring, basic curry 6Teflon tongued souls), it is still balanced by the other flavors in the dish.  Spicy, sour, sweet, and salty flavors should complement each other.  My usual conundrum is not enough sweet and an overpowering sour (I love my lime!).  The cure? Sugar.  Palm sugar is best for Thai cuisine, but it’s also pricey.  Regular granulated sugar will work just fine. Don’t be afraid to add sugar.
  • Use as much fresh herbs and spices (vice dried herbs and spices) as possible.  This is a key difference between Thai curry and other Asian curries.  Fresh basil, fresh ginger, fresh chilies, fresh lemongrass, etc.
  • Cut your vegetables and proteins small and thin.  This will help ensure quick cooking since everything is poached in the curried coconut milk.
  • When poaching the ingredients of your curry, add in phases to prevent overcooking. For my own typical curry, chicken goes in first.  After about five (5) minutes, I follow with any frozen vegetables.  Once the coconut milk has re-heated, I add fleshy vegetables like eggplant and zucchini followed by “steamers” such as green beans and broccoli.  The last to go in are the more delicate vegetables that breakdown if cooked too long, such as bell peppers and tomatoes.basic curry 4

Thai Red Curry Basic Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste (add more for more heat if you like)
  • 1 can [lite] coconut milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small scallions, whites and greens sliced
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce (add more for saltiness if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil (Thai basil if you can find it)
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Building on the Basics

Protein:

-1 chicken breast, thinly sliced

Vegetables:

- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 medium Ichiban eggplant, sliced into half moons
-  Appx. 1 cup bell peppers sliced thinly (go for color!)

 Directions

  1. Pour oil into a large pan, add garlic and scallions and turn heat to medium high.basic curry aromatics
  2. When garlic and scallions become fragrant add curry paste. Cook curry paste until it begins to break down.  Be careful not to let the garlic burn. Lower heat to medium.
    basic curry cook curry paste 1 basic curry cook curry paste 2
  3. Slowly add coconut milk to the pan and fish sauce, stirring to blend the curry paste. Taste and add more curry paste and/or salt if desired.basic curry cook add coconut milk
  4. Allow coconut milk to break a low simmer, but do not allow it to boil or the coconut milk will separate.basic curry cook simmering coconut milk
  5. Add sliced chicken to hot liquid and poach for approximately 10 minutes. If using shrimp as your protein, add later at step 10.basic curry poach chicken 1 basic curry poach chicken 2
  6. Add frozen peas and egg plant to curry. Allow to return to a simmer and cook 3-5 minutes.  At this step, add vegetables that take longer to cook, such as squashes and root vegetables, as well as frozen vegetables.basic curry peas and eggplant
  7. Add sliced bell peppers.  At this step, add vegetables that cook in a few minutes, such as the bell peppers, green beans, and broccoli.basic curry bell peppers
  8. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about another 5-8 minutes.basic curry cover and simmer
  9. Taste and season as desired.  For more heat, had a dash of cayenne or chili powder. For saltiness, more fish sauce. Good old salt and pepper is completely allowable, too!basic curry simmering
  10. During the last 3-5 minutes, add half of the basil and stir in. If using shrimp as your protein add now.basic curry adding herbs
  11. Serve over rice.basic curry 1

Zucchini Mac and Cheese

zucchinimac2It’s inevitable. It snows and I almost lose a finger. Last year I had the little incident with a mandolin. The year before my espresso machine attacked me. This year destiny upped the ante with my garage door opener throwing a tantrum. At first I thought the polar vortex had frozen everything. Nope, it was mechanical. I will probably have a fear of ladders and springs for the near future, but thankfully all extremities are accounted for and no broken bones.

Bandaged and bruised, something comforting was in order after that ordeal. Of course, I still had to keep in mind my year’s plan to get my ripped abs back. Whatever I was going to make was sure to pack in thezucchinimac5 calories, but to assuage a potential guilt trap, I needed to make sure I added some more nutritious calories to the mix. After rummaging through my crisper and throwing out the rotten cauliflower and broccoli, I came up with one, sad zucchini on it’s last leg. Then I remembered the zucchini twist I had made on my Poogan’s Porch mac and cheese over the summer following a fun Farmer’s Market morning. Mac and cheese – it was fate!

My favorite thing about this particular mac and cheese is the color. How pretty are all those green specks from the zucchini and chopped herbs? zucchinimac3You can’t even taste the squash if you’re worried about losing the essence of the gooey, creamy dish. See how easy it is to add a healthy twist to your favorite comfort food? When I get my next craving, I’m hoping to substitute some of the pasta for cauliflower to help lower the calorie count. I’m not giving up on my abs yet!

Zucchini Mac and Cheese

serves 4-6

Ingredients
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere, Emmental, or Cheddar cheese (or a combination of)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4-5 tablespoons butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 a sweet onion small dice, appx 1/2 cup
  • 1 large zucchini, shredded (if you want it packed with veggies, use 2 zucchini!)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 ounces small pasta, such as shells or elbow, aapx half a box
  • 3-4 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 Fahrenheit and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. When melted, add onions and cook until soften.zucchinimac_cooking onions
  3. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir to coat. Cook 2-3 minutes to cook out the raw flour flavor.zucchinimac_roux
  4. Stir in milk, breaking up any the four clumps. Bring to a simmer.zucchinimac_bechemel base
  5. Add bayleaf the reduce heat to medium. Let mixture simmer until thickened, about 7-10 minutes.
  6. Stir in shredded cheese about 2 tablespoons at a time to create a thick cheese sauce.zucchinimac_add cheese
  7. Fold shredded zucchini into the cheese sauce. Taste sauce and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.zucchinimac_squash time
  8. Allow sauce to come to a bubble again, then remove from heat.zucchinimac_simmering cheese sauce
  9. Add pasta to the cheese sauce mixture and stir to coat. Pour into a casserole dish. Set aside.zucchinimac_mac time
  10. In a small bowl, stir breadcrumbs and olive oil together. If using plain breadcrumbs, season as desired.
  11. Sprinkle mac and cheese with breadcrumbs and bake 15-20 minutes until bubbly.
    zucchinimac_crumb topping zucchinimac_oven hot

zucchinimac1

I Cannot Tell a Lie – These Cookies are Delicious

We may never really know if George Washington was able to tell a lie, since the story of him chopping down his father’s favorite cherry tree is a myth created by Washington’s first posthumous biographer Parson Weems (thanks Wikipedia for making me look smart!) We do know that he “[f]irst in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen” (Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee’s euology of George Washington).  So in honor of this founding father  (who is also the only president of the 6 who owned slave to free his) and his fictional cherry tree, I bring you dark chocolate-cherry-oat cookies.

Chocolate Cherry Whole Grain Cookies - from aboveI first made these cookies in December as part of my annual holiday cookie bake and immediately fell in love with them. They are dense and chewy with a sweetness that is cut perfectly by the tart dried cherries and bitterness of dark chocolate. Did I mention that they are 100% whole grain? They are made with whole wheat and oatmeal – so feel free to tell yourself they are healthy. You wouldn’t be lying – per se.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Whole Grain Cookies
¾ cup old fashioned oats
3 tablespoons milk
½ (1 stick) cup butter, room temperature
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar, light or dark, packed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup dried cherries
¾ cup dark chocolate chips

1) In a small bowl, stir together oats and milk. Set aside.

Chocolate Cherry Whole Grain Cookies - soak the oats (1)

2) Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, egg, salt, and baking soda.

Chocolate Cherry Whole Grain Cookies - beat in egg and vanilla

3) Add whole wheat flour, mixing until just combined. The stir in milk-soaked oats using a spatula or wooden spoon.

4) Stir in cherries and chocolate.

Chocolate Cherry Whole Grain Cookies -  stir in cherries and chocolate

5) Cover cookie dough and chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

6) Pre-heat oven to 375ºF and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

7) Drop by rounded teaspoon onto prepared cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until light golden brown.

Chocolate Cherry Whole Grain Cookies - place dough on prepared cookie sheet

8)  Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.

IMG_1892

It’s a Beautiful Morning Pancakes – Gluten-free Coconut-Flax Pancakes

coconut flax pancake 9

Oh, what a beautiful morning, my friends! Ever wake up feeling the blue bird of happiness is chirping just for you? Yeah, not very often for me either, but by some miracle God decided to put a little sunshine in my heart…and it feels absolutely fabulous!  So I thought I’d share an equally fabulous recipe with you.

You see, I’ve been stuck for a very long time.  I thought it was the whole trying to get into business school these past twelve months, but when it coconut flax pancake 6came to being completely honest with myself I couldn’t keep hiding that I’ve been stuck for years.   So what a lovely and refreshing gift to wake up to!  How better to celebrate than to channel all that positive energy into creating an equally beautiful and delicious breakfast?

On days when we’re not so lucky with Mr. Bluebird, these pancakes will sure do the trick. On the inside they’re pillowy-fluffy, yet rich from all the coconut flavor. The exterior has this delicate crisp that reminds me of that very thin layer of the caramelized sugar atop a creme brulee. To top it all off, they’re gluten-free and full of fiber and anti-oxidants. Nutritious and delicious, hard to beat, don’t cha think?

coconut flax pancake 2

Coconut-Flax Pancakes

makes 10-12 pancakes, inspired by Elisabeth Prueitt
Ingredients

coconut flax pancake ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten free flour mix
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted plus 1-2 tablespoons for pan
  • optional: fresh fruit, maple syrup, and shredded coconut to top
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together gluten free flour mix,  sugar, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder and salt.  Set aside. coconut flax pancake dry ingredients
  2. In a medium bowl,  whisk  together eggs, milk with the 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil.coconut flax pancake wet ingredients
  3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until batter is moistened.coconut flax pancake making batter coconut flax pancake mixed batter
  4. Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of coconut oil and melt to grease pan.  Through out cooking process, add additional coconut oil as needed to keep pan greased. coconut flax pancake coconut oil in pan
  5. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto hot pan and cook until bubbles appear on the surface and sides begin to try, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cool the opposite side until golden, about another 2 minutes.coconut flax pancake batter bubbling         coconut flax pancake golden
  6. Serve warm with desired toppings.coconut flax pancake 1
Note: Freeze leftovers.  The best re-heating method is to use the “frozen” setting on your toaster (like an Eggo!).  This will preserve the yummy, crispy exterior.

Gluten Free Pizza Dough

GF Pizza Crust 5When my sister mentioned a week before Thanksgiving she was going completely gluten free I wanted to reach through the phone and slap her silly.  Power to her for the life-style change, but I’m the one in charge of  all the holiday family meals.  I’m the one that had to figure it all out!  How about more than a week’s notice, please?  Luckily for both of us  my curious and experimental nature had already lead me to some dabbling in gluten free recipes.

Now I’m not much of a fad person myself, but I do respect the will-power of those who chose restrictive life-styles (for whatever reasons).  I also GF Pizza Crust 4empathize with those living with food allergies.  However, what is often left out of the conversation are those, like me, that do not have these restrictions, but find themselves thrust suddenly into that world. Emilie and I were discussing this not too long ago just after the New Year.

Who doesn’t love to accommodate their friends and family, but can you imagine how bad your host(ess) might feel if they didn’t know of your GF Pizza Crust 3recent vegan conversion and watched you pick at your bacon wrapped  steak and butter topped asparagus all evening?  Forewarned is forearmed!  Don’t feel bad about giving someone a heads up about your allergies or special diet. When Emilie and I were visiting a friend in San Francisco one Spring Break, I made sure to mentioned that it was Lent, which, after receiving a family dinner invite on a Friday night, allowed enough notice for a Lent friendly meal that everyone could enjoy.  When my friend Sue is in town, I know to keep a container of soy milk on hand for her coffee since she is allergic to dairy.  Now that my sister is gluten-free, I have engineered gluten-free versions of our favorite family GF Pizza Crust 6holiday recipes.  However,  there are still folks that might feel uncomfortable at the potential inconvenience.  Emilie has a great tactic for that.  She offers to bring a dish! This tactic not only ensures there will be at least one thing you can eat, but provides an easy opening to mention what you are not able to eat as well as eases any feeling of inconvenience, because you’re bringing the dish.  Not a bad idea huh?

With that said, many of you are like Emilie and me: food lovers.  We like to eat and cook new things, unfamiliar things.   Our friends are lucky, because we’re the most likely to have that paleo vegan, gluten-soy-nut free recipe in our back pocket.  We’re always experimenting.  My favorite food “fad” to experiment is, as I’ve mentioned, gluten-free substitutions.  So, without further adieu,  for your back-pocket I present this gluten free, thin crust pizza dough!

GF Pizza Dough Pizza 2 cu 2

Gluten Free Pizza Dough

makes 2 9″x 9″ personal pizza crusts
Ingredients

GF Pizza Dough Ingredients

  • 2 ½  cups Gluten-Free Flour (see recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons dried milk powder or dairy-free creamer
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon honey or granulated sugar
  • 1 5/16 ounce package of instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for dough)
  • olive oil for pan
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal for dusting
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, blend together the gluten free flour mix, dried milk, baking powder, and corn starch.  Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, add yeast, olive oil, and warm water along with ½ cup of the dry ingredients.GF Pizza Dough Yeast Mixture
  3. Stir to combine and set aside for about 30 minutes.  Mixture should be bubbly and smell yeasty.GF Pizza Dough Yeast Ready
  4. When yeast is ready, add to the remaining dry ingredients.GF Pizza Dough Adding Yeast and Flour
  5. Using a stand or hand mixer, mix at medium-high speed until dough forms. It will not be like the pizza dough you’ve probably made in the past. Instead it will be sticky, like spackling.GF Pizza Dough Sticky Stuff
  6. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit .
  8. Divide dough in half.  If not using right away, grease two sheets of plastic wrap and wrap the two halves separately.GF Pizza Dough Dividing
  9. For a single personal pizza, grease a 9” x 13” baking sheet with olive oil and dust with cornmeal.
  10. Place one of the pizza halves on the baking sheet. Wet your fingers and begin working the dough outwards beginning from the center.  You should be able to get a 9″ x 9″ crust.GF Pizza Dough Forming Crust
  11. Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes before baking the crust in the oven for 8-10 minutes.GF Pizza Dough Crust Resting
  12. Your crust is now ready to become a pizza. After adding desired toppings, bake pizza for about another 10 minutes.GF Pizza Dough Starting to Make Pizza

GF Pizza Dough Topping Pizza    GF Pizza Dough Pizza 2 in the oven

Mussels with an Asian Fusion Twist

Asian Fusion Mussels 6Is it Christmas already? I don’t remember 2o12 going by this fast and I honestly can’t believe 2013 is almost over.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy this year preparing to apply for grad school.  For that reason, I thought I’d take a break from my essays and wish all of you a very, merry Christmas  with this tasty and super easy seafood dish before the holidays passes me by!

For those that have been following Emilie and I for awhile, you may recall last Christmas where I gave my family’s traditional Christmas dinner an Asian twist to honor my mother’s heritage.  I also shared my seafood risotto for an Italian Christmas Eve tradition known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes.  This mussel dish combines both of those concepts into one pot! Multi-tasking…love it!

So I have always wanted to make mussels, but for some reason found them intimidating.  It must have been the debearding.  Debearding, Asian Fusion Mussels 4what’s that?  How much work is this? Am I going to get sick or die if I debeard these things wrong? Eeep!  I was relaying this fear to Tom one evening after having a delicious pot of mussels at Dupont Circle’s  Bistrot Du Coin.  In typical Tom fashion, he told me to just do it already.

So I did!

Preparing the mussels  took a little time and the debearding was waaaay wierd,  but easy peasy over all.   I’m sure it will go faster the next time around now that I’ve gotten over my fear.  Just yank that hairy, stringy sucker from the shell.   If you need a better grip on the beard, I recommend using a paper towel.

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Have a delicious holiday!

Asian Fusion Mussels 7

Asian Fusion Mussels

serves appx 4

Ingredients

Asian Mussels Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾  cup dry white wine
  • 2 Chinese eggplant (approximately 2 cups prepped*)
  • 1  14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Thai chili, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, seperated
  • ¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped (appx 2 tablespoons, chopped)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooked spaghetti or linguine

Directions

  1. Rinse and debeard your mussels if they are not so already.Mussels Beard 2
  2. Be sure to discard any mussels with broken shells or any that do not close when tapped. Set aside.Mussels Broken Shell
  3. Pre-heat oven to 425° Fahrenheit
  4. Cut eggplant* into 1 inch cubes or rounds depending on thickness. Lay eggplant out on a baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the eggplant and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss eggplant together so that all the pieces are lightly coated with the olive oil and seasonings.Asian Mussels Prepping Eggplant
  5. Bake eggplant for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. With a heat resistant spoon or spatula, give the eggplant cubes a toss to help the eggplant cook evenly. Return to oven and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender and caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside.
  6. While eggplant is baking, begin preparing the mussels.
  7. In a large, lidded pot (I used my dutch oven), heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter over medium, to medium high heat.
  8. When butter has melted, sauté shallots until soft and translucent, then add the minced garlic.Asian Mussels Cooking Shallots
  9. Pour wine into the pot and add the Thai chili pepper and bring to a boil.Asian Mussels Wine
  10.  Add diced tomatoes along with the juices.
  11. Return to boil.  Lower heat to medium.  Cover and simmer  2-3 minutes.Asian Mussels Adding Tomato
  12. Add mussels to the pot in a single layer along with half of the Thai basil. Cover and steam the mussels for 3 minutes.Asian Mussels Layering Shellfish
  13. After 3 minutes, check to see if mussels have begun to open. Most open within 3-4 minutes.Asian Mussels Steamed and Ready
  14. Once most of the mussels have opened, use a slotted spoon to remove mussels from the juices they were steamed in and place in a large bowl. Discard mussels that remain closed.Asian Mussels Removing Mussels
  15. To serve spoon tomatoes and juices over the cooked pasta along with the baked eggplant cubes. Toss together. Add desired mussels. Spoon additional juices as desired over the mussels, and sprinkle with remaining chopped Thai basil.

Asian Fusion Mussels 1

Breakfast Apple Streusel Muffins

Apple Streusel Muffins 3I have been craving these little beauties since Thanksgiving morning!  I woke up that morning and a vision of these piping hot from the oven and smothered in butter popped into my sleepy head.  Too bad I had finished all my delicious apples from Rinker Orchards by then!  Airy and not too sweet, these muffins are a lovely addition to any brunch pastry basket and the perfect breakfast strategy to stay the grumbling tummies of holiday guests as they awaken from their slumber.

How do I know this? When I first made this recipe back in October, they Apple Streusel Muffins 5disappeared faster than my very popular Banana Chocolate Chip muffins! Now my co-workers are very, very picky when it comes to baked goods.  Or maybe I should say careful.  Pure sugar is a big no, no. So when I brought three dozen of these to the office, I was expecting they would last until about 10 o’clock.  Nope, they were gone by 7:30! I had to dash my muffin/cupcake carrier back to my car to hide the evidence from the folks that came in at 8 so they wouldn’t feel left out.

Needless to say, these muffins are a delicious grown-up treat.  Substituting sour cream and buttermilk for the traditional butter give these Apple Stressel Muffins an almost sponge-cake like airiness. They are not heavy and dense at all.  Then of course there are the yummy apple bits scattered throughout which give you that tart sweet burst against the sweet bread.  And how can we forget that yummy streusel on top?  Just that bit of fun where we can pretend we’re still kids for a couple of bites.  You’ll definitely need a napkin for these!Apple Streusel Muffins 1

Apple Streusel Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

Muffins: 

  • 1 cup whole wheat white flour (sometimes called whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ¼ – ½ cup buttermilk (start with ¼ then and add as needed)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 medium-sized baking apples, peeled, cored, and diced small (I actually kept the peel on some of my apples)

Streusel topping:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Grease a regular-sized muffin tin with cooking spray or butter.
  3. For the streusel, add the flour, brown sugar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. (A cereal bowl worked fine for me.)
  4. Pour in the melted butter. Use your fingers or a fork to combine until small clumps of streusel form.  Set aside while making the muffins.ASM Struesel Topping
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.ASM dry ingredients
  6. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla. Whisk wet ingredients together.ASM wet ingredients
  7. Gently fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.  Don’t worry about a few lumps. Over mixing will give you dense, gummy muffins.ASM Making Batter
  8. Fold in the chopped apples again being careful not to over-mix the batter.ASM Apple Time
  9. Fill each well of the muffin tin to the top with batter.
  10. Generously sprinkle streusel on top of the batter, pressing the topping lightly into the batter.  This is a messy step, but fun! I had leftover streusel for another dozen muffins, but feel free to use all of it.ASM Struesel Time 1    ASM Struesel Time 2
  11. Bake muffins for 18 to 22 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.ASM Fresh from Oven
  12. Cool for 10 minutes before removing muffins from the muffin tin.  Store the muffins in an airtight container no longer than three days.Apple Streusel Muffins 4