Sunday, July 14, 2013

Miso Butter Shrimp

I have not been cooking as much as I would like, as I mentioned on  my previous post.  But, Pinterest has been inspiring!  I see so many wonderful things that people are making, and I get a bit more inspired.  Today, I made a recipe that I found on Pinterest - Miso Butter Shrimp.  I love butter, and I love miso. Why wouldn't I try this recipe? It was super easy, and really good as well!  I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, so I will just recommend that you go to the original source.  In fact, I am planning on using this sauce for other stuff as well, maybe eggplant.  Along with the shrimp, we had rice sprinkled with scallions and sesame seeds.  I find that this is a really simple way to make rice taste special - just a little something extra.  As for the vegetables, we had greens beans, zucchini, and summer squash in the fridge from our CSA box.  I wanted a simple side, so I tried a method I had seen in Martha Stewart Living for Glazed Carrots.  Simply cook the vegetables in water and butter.  By the time the water is evaporated, the vegetables will be cooked and glazed with butter.  I don't think you even really need to use a lot of butter, as it definitely seems more decadent than it really is!  This is a great method when just a simple, but flavorful, vegetable side is desired.

Butter Glazed Summer Vegetables

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Glazed Carrots, June 2013
Serves 4

1/4 lb green beans
1 zucchini
1 summer squash
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 cup water

Trim green beans.  Cut zucchini in half horizontally, then vertically.  Slice into green bean length sticks.  Add green beans, water, and butter to saute pan.  Heat over medium high heat.  When most of the water is gone and green beans have just turned bright green, add the squash.  Cook until there is no water left, and the vegetables have a nice sheen.  Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Easy Summer Salad

I haven't been cooking much lately.  I seem to get into this thought pattern where cooking needs to be time consuming and complicated to be good, so we end up going out.  Also, we are lazy about going to the grocery store.  Eating out is nice, but I feel healthier when I eat at home AND I've noticed that eating out can take more time than making a simple dinner.

Funny Face peeking out!
This summer we have a CSA box that we go pick up every week.  So, even if we don't go to the store, there are at least some vegetables in the house.  I threw this together when I got home from work.  I was very hungry, but wanted something healthy.  This salad is so delicious, and reminds me that simple can be so satisfying!  In addition, this meets my need for savory flavors when I am very hungry.

I enjoyed this salad for dinner on my back deck with a nice glass (or two) of wine.  My current favorite - 2011 Chateau des Hospitaliers Coteaux de Languedoc Blanc.  I also had the company of Funny Face, the friendly stray cat that lives under our deck. 

Easy Summer Salad

(serves 1, easy to multiply)

2-3 cups baby romaine lettuce
1 tomato
1/4 cucumber
1/2 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed
10 Nicoise olives (or other olive, such as Kalamata)
1 Tbsp. capers
Shaved parmesan, to taste
Balsamic vinaigrette (I used the recipe found here, with half grapeseed, half olive oil)

Wash and dry baby romaine, but don't chop or tear.  Add to large bowl.  Cut tomato in wedges and cucumber in half moons.  Scatter tomato wedges, cucumber half moons, garbanzo beans, olives, and capers over lettuce.  Shave a bit of parmesan over the salad, add balsamic vinaigrette to taste, and enjoy!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Organized Pantry and The Best Hot Chocolate

I finally got around to cleaning my kitchen today, and I reorganized the pantry shelves. Seeing the orderly shelves makes me feel like all is right with the world, so I thought I would share some pictures:

I have also worked out a recipe for the most amazing hot chocolate ever! I like to eat simple plain toast along side. It is good dipped in the chocolate. This is a thick, rich, not too sweet hot chocolate. It is also really easy and I make it in the microwave.

Best Hot Chocolate

2/3 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 oz dark chocolate (use bittersweet, not semisweet)

In a Pyrex measuring cup (1-2 cups volume) add the cocoa and sugar to the milk. The cocoa will sit on top. Microwave 30 seconds. Use a whisk to mix in the cocoa and sugar. I twirl it in both hands like I'm trying to start a fire. Heat in the microwave one minute. Watch it, as it will get foamy and may overflow. Whisk, then heat one more minute. Chop the dark chocolate, then add to the hot chocolate and whisk. You can heat another 30 seconds if the chocolate doesn't all melt. It should be thick and frothy at this point. Sprinkle cinnamon to taste, give it one last whisk, and pour into a pretty cup.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Well. Let me tell you, this book is fantastic! The author outlines a technique to make soft, creamy textured ice cream at home. It involves cornstarch, corn syrup, and cream cheese. Apparently, the cornstarch and corn syrup prevent crystallization of the water molecules, which makes the ice cream stay creamy and smooth even though it is very cold. However, I also really like the adventurous flavor combinations. I have tried a few so far: salty caramel, scarlett and earl grey, and kona stout. The format is also good. It is divided by season: spring, summer, etc. In the spring, there are favors that use spring fruit, like strawberries and rhubarb, while the fall section has favors like pumpkin, caramel, and spice.

The best thing about this book is that the recipes are actually pretty easy. Most homemade ice cream recipes call for making a custard with multiple eggs, like five to seven. Really, that just seems ridiculous for the amount if ice cream that you get. This recipe base, with cornstarch, corn syrup, and cream cheese, seems less temperamental. My opinion is that if you have an ice cream maker, you need to get this book!

The salty caramel flavor was the first one that I tried. The recipe begins with making caramelized sugar, and then a generous amount of sea salt is added. I thought the flavor was incredible. I will definitely make it again. It is a good stand alone ice cream, and would be nice combined with other sweets to make a more complicated dessert. The recommended pairings are with apple pie (yes!), chocolate cake (YES!!), and rhubarb compote (intriguing ... I love rhubarb though). I also think it would be good paired with something spicy, like cookies or cake. My only complaint with this was that the texture was slightly too much like frozen pudding. The recipe uses cornstarch to slightly thicken the milk/cream/sugar mixture to make a custard. Either I cooked it longer than necessary, or there is too much cornstarch for my preferences. I plan on paying more attention to make sure the custard doesn't get too thick, or else just reduce the amount of cornstarch. I have included the recipe for this one.

The second flavor I tried was scarlett and earl grey. The ice cream is flavored with earl grey tea, and sugar plumped cherries are added after the ice cream is churned. I love tea, and earl grey is hands down my favorite, so I had to try this one. I really liked it. The ice cream is flavored by steeping the tea in the milk/cream/sugar mixture. I used earl grey creme, from Teavana. There is a touch of vanilla in the tea, along with the usual bergamot. The tea gives the ice cream a good flavor, creamy and floral with an unmistakable, but subtle, tea flavor. The cherries were good, but a little sweet. I followed the recipe using dried Mormont cherries from Trader Joes. However, they already have sugar so I probably should have cut down. The sugar keeps the cherries from freezing too hard. Alcohol would also do this, so next time I might cut the sugar and add a splash of alcohol. There is bergamot liqueur, but it is probably hard to find in a store. I don't think that I took any pictures of this one. I meant too, but I ate it all instead. The recommended pairings for this ice cream are chocolate cookies and cannoli with ricotta and chocolate chips. Hmm, I not really sure what I think about the combinations, but I think a crisp chocolate cookie might be good.

The third flavor I made is the kona stout. It is flavored with coffee and stout. I didn't make this for me, as coffee isn't really my thing, but BB was really super duper excited when I suggested it. I used Rogue Chocolate Stout and Dark Sumatra coffee from Trader Joes. This is a very strong flavored ice cream! BB said it was the best ice cream he has ever had. If you like coffee, then you will like this. The stout gives it a nice flavor as well. Even though I don't really like coffee ice cream, I can't deny that this is a pretty darn good flavor combination. Recommended pairings are chocolate cake, black strap molasses gingerbread, and whiskey (what?). We decided it would be good with iced coffee or stout as a float, or with hot fudge sauce. In fact, BB was shocked that there wasn't chocolate in it, but I think the flavors would complement chocolate tremendously. I'll definitely be making this one again, next time BB wants some intense ice cream!

Later this week, I am going to make the lemon frozen yogurt for ME. Other favors that I want to make are: roasted strawberry and buttermilk, toasted rice with a whiff of coconut and black tea, baked rhubarb frozen yogurt, goat cheese ice cream with roasted red cherries, sweet basil and honeyed pine nut, honeyed peanut with dark chocolate freckles, roasted pumpkin five spice, maple with salty buttered nuts, sweet potato with torched marshmallows, wild berry lavender, gooey butter cake, tres leches, grapefruit hibiscus frozen yogurt ... Ok, that is not even all of the favors I want to make! It is getting to be summer, and it looks like there is going to be a lot of ice cream in my future.

Salty Caramel Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 oz cream cheese (3Tbsp)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix about 2 Tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color. Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: it will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Pour into frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Make This And Make It Tonight!

This salad dressing is easy, and delicious. I would call it a version of honey mustard. I made it less acidic with more oil and some aioli, and there was no heartburn later :)

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp. sunflower oil
1-2 Tbsp. mustard aioli (from Trader Joe's, sub half Dijon mustard and half mayonnaise)
2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste

Mix all together. Whisk if you want. I added it all to a jar, put the lid on, and gave it a good shake. This is enough for a bag of mixed greens.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Salad Week

I have decided that it is time for salad week. I just got back from a vacation. I ate a lot of good food and a lot of dessert. So now, I feel the need for salad. A whole week with salads for dinner each night. But there are some rules, of course. These salads must be greens based - some form of greens must make up a majority of the salad. Also, I want to branch out beyond my normal staples of spinach and red leaf lettuce. Therefore, a different green base each day. Some greens that I don't use as much are chicory, arugula, endive, seaweed, radicchio, watercress, and mâché. Oh, cabbage would also count! I also think that there should be a significant portion of raw veggies. A cooked component is fine, but it cannot be the major component.

Here is my planned menu, in no particular order:

1) Taco Salad - the childhood classic version I grew up with that includes Mexican black eyed peas and my staple red leaf lettuce. With tortilla chips, avocado, and lots of cilantro!

2) Chinese Tofu Salad - from my blog recipe, maybe with a mix of cabbage and romaine. Just to shake things up a bit. And watercress, if I can find it.

3) Seaweed Salad - from Mark Bitman's cookbook and served with cucumber, avocado, and maybe a rice ball rolled in sesame seeds.

4) Salad Rolls - with spinach, carrots, avocado, and an herb explosion, or as close as I can get to an herb explosion in early March (basil, cilantro, uh ... I guess we will see how the new Whole Foods is). Oh, and peanut sauce. Yeah, definitely peanut sauce. You know, for protein!

5) Lentil Salad - French Lentil Salad with Caramelized Balsamic Vinaigrette from Vegetarian Planet, to be exact. I know, I know, this is a lentil salad, and I specified a salad based in greens. Well, what I will do is serve a nice spoonful of this salad on a bed of greens. Probably butter lettuce or something suitably delicate. Maybe with some good cheese on the side, like brie. Or chèvre, my seemingly eternal favorite.

6) Endive and Citrus - this is a salad I made up. Well, made up based on a salad I ate at a restaurant. It is sliced endive with bell pepper and orange segments in an orange cilantro vinaigrette. I'm still wondering what would be good to add to make it feel like more of a meal. Avocado? Wait, I can't eat avocado with my salad four days in one week ... or can I? I am considering incorporating wild rice, making it a wild rice, endive, and citrus salad. We'll see how I feel.

7) Something with escarole. I need to look up recipes.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekends are for Eating!

I had a pretty good weekend, food wise. I started off my Saturday by baking Carrot-Pineapple Sunshine Muffins, from Veganomicon. Although my version wasn't vegan, since I used dairy yogurt instead of the soy yogurt called for in the recipes. They were so good! Filled with pineapple, carrots, and raisins with orange and vanilla flavoring. The only thing I might change in the future is to add walnuts.

Today for breakfast, I made a copy of something I had at La Provence Bakery and Restaurant in Portland with my sister and her fiancé. So delicious!

Meurette Benedict

1 onion, thinly slice
2 portobello mushrooms, cut in half then sliced thinly
Olive oil
1Tbsp tomato paste
1-2 cups red wine
2 eggs
2 crossoints

Sautee the onions in olive oil. When they are starting to caramelize, add the mushrooms. Sautee 5 min, then add the red wine. Let the red wine reduce. When it has reduced by half, divide the mushrooms and onions inhale, and make a well in each half. Crack and egg in each well, then cover trepan. Let cook until the eggs are done however you like them. Alternatively, you could poach them, but I don't really know how so this is what I did. Serve with the crossoints. I used the frozen ones from Trader Joe's and they were good.