Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Banana Nut Muffins

May 12, 2013

Okay. I admit once and for all that I don’t measure anything. Ever. So you’ll have to use your eyeballs when assembling these muffins because they were both the bomb and the diggity. If it looks too wet, add more dry. If it looks too dry, add more wet. We’re grown ups and can handle this, right?

3 horrendously over ripe bananas I’d forgotten on top of the fridge
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce I needed to be rid of
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted  (Yes.  You read that right.)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup maple syrup (I really  just glugged until Andy shouted “HOLY SHIT!”)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup pecans or walnut pieces

Beat the bananas and apple sauce until smooth. Slowly wiz in the melted butter. Add in the rest of the ingredients one at a time except the nuts. Fold those in at the very last minute.

Pour into lined muffin tins, almost filling each cup. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until just done. Makes about 2 dozen muffins.

Feed them to a baby so hungry, she’s prepared to eat her own foot. Save some for yourself.

Low Carb Banana Bread

July 24, 2011

A completly unrelated photo.

For most of this pregnancy I’ve been trying to keep my carb count and glycemic index low.  I figure that with a few pounds left over from Moxie and a strong family history of diabetes, the last thing I need is to go sugar crazy.  I am; however, plagued with an abundance of ripe bananas since the world’s cutest toddler will only eat them in exactly the right window of ripeness.  I came up with this version of a low carb banana nut bread by starting off here.  My version is basically doubled, but with more banana, more leavening, and less sweetener and oil.  It wasn’t very flavorful until fully cooled and was very slightly grainy.  Otherwise, I give it a thumbs up.

6 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup olive oil
4 eggs
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Mash very ripe bananas in a bowl using a wooden spoon.  Stir in all remaining ingredients.  The batter will be pourable.  Distributed it into 2 prepared loaf pans.  Bake at 350F for approximately 35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Roughly figured on fitday.com (assuming 24 servings) I get
Calories: 188
Total carbs: 16g
Total protein: 5g
Total fat: 12 g

In regular banana nut bread
Calories: 216
Total carbs: 30g
Total protein: 3g
Total fat: 10g

Vegetable Korma

September 21, 2010

A rather awful picture of tonights supper.

I started off w/ a recipe sent by my sister and changed it up thusly:

1 tbs cumin
1 tbs grnd corriander
1 1/2 tbs garam marsla
1 tsp tumeric
4 whole cloves
1/2 tsp grnd cardamom
1 tsp grnd cinnamon
4 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
1 white onion, chopped
1 can fire roasted tomato w/ juice
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup cashews, grnd
1 head cauliflower, chopped
3 small potatoes, chopped
3 carrots, diced
1/2 cup edamame, shelled
1/2 cup chickpeas

Comibine spices in a heavy bottomed pan and dry fry until aromatic, about 2 minutes.  Add oil, and mix to combine with spices.  Fry garlic and ginger in the oil and spice mixture for about 2 minutes, then add onion and cook until softened.  Crush tomatoes into the pot and add the juice.  Mix in the ground cashews and whisk until incorporated.   Add coconut milk and vegetables.  Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are as soft as desired. Could be al dente. Could be mush. It’s your choice.

Ground cashews: 1/3 cup cashews soaked in about 1/2 cup water for an hour.  Remove most of the liquid, then grind in mortar or in food processor.

I used edamame because I mostly hate green peas.  Try to find them fresh around here.  I dare you!  My sister’s recipe called for chicken instead of the veg.  I did poach a chicken breast in there for Andy, then cubed it on top of his plate.  Hers also had heavy cream in place of the coconut milk but I have baby weight to loose!  Top w/ yogurt and cilantro if desired.  Serve over basmati rice.

Meat Pig

February 12, 2010

1 medium onion, diced fine
4 stalks celery, diced fine
4 carrots, diced fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs olive oil
½ cup red wine
1 tbs fresh oregano, minced
1 tbs fresh sage, minced
1 tbs fresh thyme
3 lbs ground meat (I like one each beef, lamb, and turkey. Venison is also good.)
1 egg, beaten
½ cup marinara
½ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup instant oats
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

In large skillet, heat olive oil. Add onions, garlic, carrot, and celery. Cook until softened. Deglaze pan with red wine and allow liquid to reabsorb. Add fresh herbs. Allow to cool. Combine cooked vegetables and all other ingredients by folding together, not squeezing. Form into a loaf, by hand and refrigerate on a lined cookie sheet for one hour. Bake at 350°F until cooked through, about 1-1½ hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the giant loaf reads 160°F. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Note: Add more marinara if too dry, more bread crumbs if too wet. I admit that these measurements are only approximate. Meatloaf is something that changes every time I try it.  I always: limit myself to one egg, eschew loaf pans, and use the cooked vegetables.

You can of course shape the loaf any way you like.  It’s a horrible photo, but as you can tell, Andy is very fond of pigs.

Meat Pig

Lentil Moussaka

January 10, 2010

We’ve decided to stay up in Vermont for the winter. I know! I know! Most people fly south for the winter.  After spending 29 of my 30 years in Texas, however, I decided an actual winter was in order.  So I wake up to this every morning:

This is where Andy spends most of his winter days.

Of course, the dude can work any where he likes. I on the other hand am continuing my unemployment trend in pursuit of another life long goal.  This gives me ample time to cook and blog.  Hopefully this will end the 6 month or so long blog dry spell.  I’ve been cooking all this time, but also teaching 8th grade, so there’s been very little time to actually write about it.

The weather seems to make me want nothing but soft, warm comfort food. When I was recently asked to bring some sort of hearty vegetable dish to a family gathering, the only thought that would come into my head was Moussaka.  I love all things Greek. I love eggplant. I love feta cheese.  I certainly love béchamel.  The only thing I don’t love is the current lack of Zoe-friendly meat in my freezer.  We’re pretty much on vegetarian rations right now.  That’s fine, actually.  I do love the challenge of filling us up without the ease of using meat.

The following is what I came up with after pursuing recipes for moussaka.  It’s a combination of different points from the many that I read.  Over all, I loved it.  It was a rather time-consuming recipe, but I was in the mood to chop and fuss and prep.

Filling:
1/2 cup of green lentils
4-6 cups water
2 small yellow onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup beer
2 (14 oz) cans tomatoes, diced
1 cup cherry tomato, halved
2 tbs fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tbs fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 tbs fresh oregano leaves, chopped
kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper

Casserole:
2 eggplants, peeled and sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
2 baking potato, sliced
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup whole grain bread crumbs

Bechamel:
5 tbs unsalted butter
4 tbs unbleached flour
3 cups 2% milk
1 cup half and half
1 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of white pepper (which I didn’t have, so I used black)

Peel eggplant, and slice it about 1/8 inch thick.  Place the slices in a large colander and apply a very liberal amount of salt.  Set this aside for at least 30 minutes while you prep the filling and slice the other vegetables.  The goal here is to pull some of the moisture from the eggplant.  After 30 minutes, rinse thoroughly with water and then dry with paper towels.

To prepare the filling: Boil the lentils in the water (salted) until almost done.  Leave them with just a little bite to them.  Drain and set aside.  In a large pot, sauté the onions in a small amount of olive oil.  Add garlic, and cook just to soften.  Deglaze the pan with the beer, then add the canned tomato. Add back the lentils, fresh tomato, and seasonings.  Simmer the filling for a bout 30 minutes.  The filling should be quite, thick and most of the liquid will reduce.  (I had extra filling which I used on top of some whole wheat spaghetti for lunch.)

In a large skillet, heat a little bit of olive oil.  Brown the eggplant, one side at a time. Set aside.  Brown the zucchini in the same pan and set aside.  Add a small amount more oil, then cook the potatoes until they are a bit softened, but not fully cooked.  Set aside.

In a 13X9 inch pan, lay down a layer with each of the vegetables.  You will have more eggplant than anything else, so try to work it so that each of the 3 layers will have some of each vegetable.  I placed eggplant, zucchini, and potato in bands.  For the bottom layer I placed: eggplant, zucchini, eggplant, potato.  In the next layer I placed the vegetables so that they were directly above a different vegetable. The idea was that each piece cut from the casserole would contain all three vegetables.

On top of the first layer of vegetable spread about 1 cup of the lentil filling, then top that with a little feta and a little Parmesan.  Top with another layer of vegetables, then filling, then cheese.  Make sure to end the layering with vegetables on top.  Bake the casserole at 350°F for about 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow it to stand for about 15 minutes.  The casserole may be a little watery when taken from the oven, but should reabsorb most of the liquid.

While it cools, make the white sauce.  In a straight sided skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Sprinkle the flour on top of the butter and whisk together to form a roux.  Cook the roux until it is a dark sandy color, just starting to brown.  Add the milk and half and half, whisking to incorporate.  Continue to stir until the mixture thickens.  Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Taste for flavor, and re-season if necessary. (You will have extra white sauce.  Use it on pasta, or any recipe that calls for a cream sauce.  Mine will probably go into Tuna Noodle Casserole to be frozen for later.)

Pour just enough of the béchamel over the vegetable casserole to cover it lightly.  Top with the bread crumbs and more cheese if desired.  Bake uncovered until the potatoes are fully cooked, about 30 minutes.  Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

Hatch Cornbread

September 21, 2009

You probably are familiar by now with my very southern obsession with corn bread.  I’ve admitted, once and for all, that I do put sugar in there.  The secret is out. Hopefully the Texas Rangers won’t throw me out of the state.  The next big secret in cornbread of course is to cook it in a cast iron skillet.  The crust that forms from that hot skillet and fat is probably the next best thing to Prozac.

My brand new cornbread trick though involves a very simple addition.  I put up about 8 quarts of roasted hatch green chiles this year.  I buy the peppers in bulk, blister them over a flame, steam them in a paper sack,  then peel off the blackened skins, and remove most of the seeds.  That all gets stuck in ziplock bags and frozen to use over the coming year.  You can have the roasting done for you in most top end groceries around the Southwest.

1½ cup yellow corn meal
½ cup unbleached flour
2 tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
¾ cup hot hatch green chilès, diced
1 egg, whipped
1½ cup buttermilk
2 tbs vegetable oil, melted butter, or bacon fat
2 tbs additional fat for the skillet

Set a 9-10 inch cast iron skillet on high heat while you prepare the batter.  Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir, just to incorporate.  Turn the heat off under the skillet, and drop in the 2 tbs of extra oil.  Swirl to coat.  While the pan is still extremely hot, pour in the batter and spread it around to fill the pan.  immediately place the skillet into a 425° oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle of the cornbread comes out clean.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan, then invert over a plate.

I serve cornbread upside down.  If you flip the cornbread over so that it is served right side up, the crispy crust will steam itself soft.  Serving it just as it flips out of the pan, with the dark brown fried edge up, will keep the crust perfect while you eat.

This was fire engine hot cornbread.  If you prefer, use mild hatch chilès.  You could also use any green pepper that has been fire roasted.  Hatch are hard to come by in many locations.

My First Mojito

July 7, 2009

Photo by Andy (http://www.flickr.com/photos/skeltoac/)

Photo by Andy

Simple Syrup:

¾ cup cane sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh mint leaves

Crush the mint leaves thoroughly in a mortar and pestle.  Combine with sugar and water. Bring the mixture just to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes on low.  Remove from heat, lid, and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.  Strain the liquid from the leaves, and store in the refrigerator.

Mojito:
¾ cup fresh squeeze lime juice
½-¾ cup simple syrup
12 oz lime seltzer
6 oz dark rum (Okay okay! It was probably closer to 10 oz)
3 oz cointreau

Combine all ingredients.  Serve over ice with a fresh sprig of lime.  I prefer these fairly tart, so I used less of the simple syrup.  Adjust according to your taste.   I was using fresh Mexican limes from our friends Sandy and Brenda.  The mint came from a pot on my back porch.  Yum.

The only time I like white wine.

July 7, 2009

When there’s lobster.

Tofu Pot Sticker Dumplings

May 21, 2009

I first made dumplings with my wonderful friend Xin Li in graduate school.  Known as Mama Xin in my little lab of beleaguered grad students, Xin had moved to the US with her husband and daughter from China about 3 years before we met.  She knew the dumplings were my favorite, and would bring them to me if she knew I was having a hard time in the lab.  The day after the funeral of my best friend, there was a hot plate of dumplings left for me with out explanation on my desk. I think I cried for about a week over that.  Asian Dumplings are comfort food, as sure as a big bowl of the puffy Bisquick variety.

Dipping Sauce:
¼ soy sauce
1 tbs chilé garlic sauce
splash white wine vinegar
drizzle sesame oil

Combine soy sauce, chilé garlic sauce, and white wine vinegar.  Slowly wisk in a thin stream of sesame oil (about 2 tsp).

Potstickers:
1 brick extra firm organic tofu
1 cup shredded bok choy
½-¾ cup shredded red cabbage
½ cup shredded carrots
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup fresh green onion tops, chopped
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs hoisin sauce (optional: leave it out for vegans)
2 tbs chilé garlic sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 package goyza wrappers, or wonton skins
4 tbs water
2 tbs corn starch

**Meaty alternative: Combine 1 lb ground pork, ½ cup green chopped green onion, 2 tbs soy sauce, 2 tbs hoisin sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 tbs chilé garlic sauce.  Use this instead of the tofu/cabbage mixture.

Drain water from tofu and then crush the entire brick in a large bowl.  Add shredded cabbages, carrots, ginger, shallots, hot sauce, soy, hoisin, cilantro, and green onions.  Mix, just to bring together.  Taste the mixture and re-season as desired.  You want a dry mixture. No liquid should pool in the bottom of the bowl.   In a small dish combine water and corn starch.

Prepare an area in which to assemble the dumplings.  You will need: A large plate on which to work, a cookie sheet lined with wax paper (plus additional wax paper for additional layers), a small soup spoon, raw goyza wrappers,  and a clean dry cup towel.

Work Space

Work Space

With the area set up: place a single goyza wrapper on your work plate.  Place about 1 tbs of the filling in the center of the wrapper.  Dip a finger in the corn starch and water mixture, making certain to mix the solution a little. Shake off most of the excess liquid, then run the finger around the bottom edge of the wrapper only. You want to just barely wet the wrapper, not soak it.

Wet the edge of the wrapper.

Wet the edge of the wrapper.

Dry your fingers using the clean cup towel.  Carefully fold the top half of the wrapper down to meet the bottom.  Then pick up the wonton, and use the fingers of one hand to gently seal the edges.  You aren’t trying to press the dough together, only use the corn starch/water mixture as glue.  Carefully press out bubbles. Try not to get the filling in the seam as this will prevent it from sealing.

Seal the wonton.

Seal the wonton.

Place the folded wonton on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Separate layers with an additional sheet of waxed paper. If you don’t wish to use all of them in one day, place the dumplings in single layers in your freezer. When they have completely frozen through, you can bag them and save them in the freezer for about a month. Between the assembly of each dumpling, wipe your plate with the cup towel.  You want a dry work surface.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add about 2 tbs of canola oil to the bottom of the pan.  Place folded dumplings, one at a time, in the hot oil.  DO NOT TURN.  Clamp a tight lid down over the dumplings and let them cook for about 1 minute.  You are actually encouraging the dumpling to stick to the bottom of the pot.  Hence the name potsticker. Lift the lid from the dutch oven and add about ¼ cup of cold water to the pan. Clamp the lid back on and cook for an additonal minute.  This will unstick the dumpling from the pan. If you are using a meat filling make certain it has time to cook all the way through.

Serve, burned side up, with the dipping sauce.

Burned side up.

Burned side up.

I actually prefer the meat filling here.  Somehow the tofu will always be just a tiny bit too watery for my taste.  I like this tofu filling though. It’s got plenty of flavor and is virtually guilt free as far as calories go.  If you don’t want to use the pot sticking method, you can steam the dumplings using a metal steamer basket, a spray of olive oil, and a big pot.  If you would like to boil the dumplings (more precisly you would poach them): bring a large pot of water to just under the boil.  Stir the water slowly with a large spoon to create a vortex.  One at a time, gently drop in the dumplings and cook for about 3 mintutes. Strain and eat.

A Roasted Chicken for Sandy

April 9, 2009

Spring is official, and to prove it, our friends Sandy and Brenda sent me home with an HEB bag full of spring onions when we visited them in San Antonio last weekend. I love green onions, particularly with fresh spring fare, and even more particuarly with fresh lemons.   Then, I happened to visit the New Flower Farmer’s Market in South Austin, and found a free range Rosie Chicken.

I just finished eating one of the best roasted birds I’ve ever taken out of my oven.  It was seriously loaded with the taste of onions, so you won’t like this if you don’t like them.  It was brined over night, then cooked with a cavity full of Sandy’s spring onions and sliced fresh lemons.  We ate it with a side of roasted beets with wilted greens, and seared Brussels sprouts.

Thanks to Sandy for the onions, and Brenda for the cute picture of her husband and their dog, Priscilla.

Onion grower. Dane lover.  Thanks to Brenda for the picture.

Onion grower. Dane lover. Thanks to Brenda for the picture.

Brine:
¾ cup kosher salt
½ cup pickle juice (I had bread and butter pickles)

Pour salt and pickle juice into a container big enough to hold your bird, but small enough to refrigerate.  I was using a 6¾ quart cast iron dutch oven. Add cool water about half way up the container and stir until the salt dissolves.  Place the chicken, breast side down into the water and then add more water as needed to cover the bird.  Place in the refrigerator for 18 hours or so.

Roast Chicken with Spring Onions and Lemon
4 lb brined free range chicken
olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper
cayene pepper
2-3 cups chopped green onions, white and green parts
2 sliced fresh lemons

Remove the chicken from the brine, and then pat it dry.  Remove any remaining pin feathers, and trim excess fat from the cavity opening.  Cover the bird in about 1 tbs of olive oil, then season with black and cayenne peppers.  Make certain to season the entire exterior, and cavity.  Place the chicken in a large dutch oven or roasting pan with wing tips bent back and placed behind the bird. Stuff the cavity fully with one of the sliced lemons, and as much chopped onions as will loosely fit. Sprinkle remaining green onions around the bird, then squeeze the remaining sliced onions over and around it. Drop the lemon slices in the pan.

Roast, covered at 350°F until the internal thigh temperature reaches 120°F.  This is where having a digital probe thermometer comes in very handy. There’s no need to remove the set up from the oven to know what temperature you’re at.   The chicken I roasted tonight took about 30 minutes to reach this temp.  Then remove the lid from the roaster and bring the temperature of the bird to about 165° and the skin to lightly golden, approximatly 30 more minutes.  Remove from the oven and let it rest, covered for at least 10 minutes before carving.  The chicken will continue cooking for a few minutes when removed from the heat, and should come to at least 170° before you eat it.