Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thyme-spiked Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

Oh, the early days of summer, how I adored your bounty of rhubarb and strawberries! Growing up, the bulk of rhubarb stalks from our backyard turned into a sauce with a bit of a twist...a packet of strawberry jello. Just a touch of sugar. But nostalgic as it is, fresh strawberries make the compote even better.

This recipe starts with a perfectly sweet, sour and savory compote dressed up with a bit of thyme. A dollop is spooned into each muffin tin along with the sweet, cakey batter. The oozing filling is the perfect touch to an already amazing strawberry-rhubarb muffin.

adapted from Kosher Camembert

yields 16 muffins

The Ingredients:
for the compote
1 1/4 cup diced rhubarb
1/2 cup diced strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp dried thyme

for the muffins
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup diced strawberries
1/2 cup diced rhubarb
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder

The Process:
for the compote
In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine the rhubarb, strawberry, sugar, and lemon.
Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gently mash any remaining fruit pieces with a fork. Allow to cool to room temperature.

for the muffins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly oil a muffin tin.

In a large mixing bowl, Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the oil, vanilla, fruit, and eggs. Stir until just combined.

Spoon 2-3 Tbsp of batter into each muffin cup. Top with a healthy dollop of compote.
Divide the remaining batter between the muffin cups, filling no more than 2/3 full.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gluten Free Zucchini Crust Pizza

I'm not truly on board with the whole gluten-free movement. I have a co-worker who actually has Celiac's and we accommodate her to the best of our ability when planning snacks and treats for work. But recently I've been running into SO many people who've hopped on the band wagon without the faintest idea about what gluten actually is.

Many such folk rave about their health and weight loss a few weeks into the diet. But inevitably, they slide. Oh, they stay gluten free. But where in those first few weeks bread, pasta, pretzels and the like were either ignored or replaced with low carb and less-processed foods (hummus is gluten-free! And salsa! Who knew! Give me a break...) the weeks that follow see a slow influx of the pre-packaged over processed products that replace the gluten for what? Hopefully nut or alternative grain based flours, but more likely than not an onslaught of chemicals, fat and sugar. Processed food is processed food. Everything moderation...

I digress...

So why this gluten free pizza crust? Quite frankly, I have far too much zucchini on my hands at the moment and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Plus this glorified zucchini pancake comes together much more quickly than waiting for pizza dough to rise.

What do you put on these lovely little crusts? Whatever strikes your fancy! I pressed out three crusts, which was a hearty meal for two people, but could easily sate three with a salad or side. Our pizzas included a cheese, a cheese and pepperoni, and a spinach, kalamata olive and cheese version. All with red sauce.

Keep the toppings light. The crusts sadly do not crisp up the way flour based crust does. The zucchini pizza, while incredibly tasty, is more of a knife and fork sort of meal. You can blame the gluten for the durability of your traditional pizza.

adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

yields three 7-8 inch pizzas

The Ingredients:
2 medium zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup finely shredded Mozzarella
1/3 cup almond flour/meal
2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten

pizza toppings, as desired

The Process
Pulse the shredded zucchini in a food processor until a coarse mixture forms. Do not over process...the mixture should be crumbly, not a purée. Transfer the zucchini to a cheesecloth lined sieve and allow to drain for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450

Generously oil a baking stone.

After 30 minutes, gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much liquid from the zucchini as you can. You should have a scant 2 cups.

In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, mozzarella, almond flour, Paremesan, garlic, oregano and egg. Divide the mixture into 3 balls. On the baking stone, gently press each ball into a disc of uniform thickness, about 7 inches across.

Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes. The crusts should be beginning to brown on top and crisp around the edges.

Top with toppings of your choice and bake an additional 3-4 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Allow to cool slightly before serving

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wilted Greens with Runny Eggs

I am a sucker for soft cooked eggs on salads and sautéed greens...rich creamy yolk oozing into the green nooks and crannies. No need for dressing.

To me, this is an ideal breakfast. Warm and filling. Ready in about 20 minutes. Perfectly portioned to share for a light morning nosh. Or generous enough single single serving for a more ravenous appetite.

Any greens will work: kale, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach.  I opted for turnip greens. Nix the bacon to make the dish vegetarian. Or toss on some hot sauce for an extra punch. I love how easy this types of dishes adapt to many tastes!

the recipe is my own

serves 1-2

The Ingredients:
2 strips of bacon
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bunch of greens, 4-5 oz
2 eggs
salt and pepper

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a 9 inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crisp and most of the fat has rendered, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Coarsely chop and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the green onion and garlic to the bacon fat in the skillet. Sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Add the greens and saute until they just begin to wilt, another 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Using the back of spoon, create two divots in the greens. Carefully break 1 egg into each divot, taking care to keep yolks intact. Bake until egg whites are set, 5-6 minutes for runny yolks, 8-10 minutes for hard set. Sprinkle with bacon and serve immediately, the eggs will continue to cook from the residual heat in the skillet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ginger-Ricotta and Peach Galette

I've been pondering this recipe for a while. Well, many variations thereof. The inspiration came from a botched batch of ginger ice cream...I hadn't anticipated the fresh ginger would curdle my milk. The happy accident delayed the ice cream, but provided me with a sweet gingery ricotta-like mixture. I day dreamed of Danish using the mixture. But the fresh fruits of summer that are beginning to arrive spurred on this recipe instead.

The recipe looks tedious, and it is. The crust and ricotta are made from scratch, adding a substantial time commitment. I suppose if you really wanted to, you could whisk some fresh ginger and sugar into a cup of store bought ricotta, and wield the pre-made pie crust.

But where's the fun in that?

the recipe is my own

yields two 7-inch galettes

The Ingredients
for the ricotta
2 cups whole milk
3 Tbsp fresh ginger, very finely minced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)

for the crust
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced and chilled
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2-3 Tbsp ice cold water

2 medium peaches
2 Tbsp honey, divided

The Process
for the ricotta
Line a sieve with several layers of cheesecloth or muslin and set aside.

Pour the milk, ginger and sugar into a large non-reactive saucepan with a heavy bottom.  Heat slowly over medium high heat, stirring the milk constantly to prevent scorching.  Bring to a gentle boil and stop stirring. It will look like nothing is happening until the milk reaches about 175-180.  Once the mixture reaches this temperature curds will begin to form and clump on the surface.  Gently stir to encourage the curds to separate from the whey.  If no curds begin to form, stir in 1 tsp of cider vinegar and remove from heat. Stir infrequently at this point...over stirring will break up the curds too much and yield a drier ricotta. 

Ladle the cloudy liquid (whey) through the clothe lined sieve, working slowly to avoid breaking up the curd.  Once most of the whey has been ladled out of the pot, carefully pour the rest of the curd/whey mixture through the sieve.  Allow most of the liquid to drain.  Gather the edges of the cloth together to form a bag.   Thread a dowel or the handle of a wooden spoon through the knot and suspend the bag over a pot or the sink.  Allow to slowly drip drain for about 30 minutes.  Resist the urge to press the ricotta. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Can be made up to 3 days ahead of time.

for the crust
combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the chilled butter and pulse until the mixture forms course crumbs with pea sized bits of butter. With the machine running on low, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to come together. Dump the mixture out on a floured board divide into two portions. Gently bring each portion into a ball and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Can be made a day ahead of time

to assemble
Preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking stone with parchment.

Pit the peaches and slice into thin wedges. 

Whisk the ricotta until smooth, thinning with a touch of cream if necessary.

Working with one dough ball at a time, place the dough onto a well floured surface and roll 1/8 inch thick. Trim to a 10-inch circle (a dinner plate makes a great template). Transfer to the parchment lined baking stone. Repeat with the second dough ball.

Spoon half of the ricotta onto each crust, and spread to within an inch of the edge. For each galette, arrange half of the peach slices in concentric circles, starting from the outside edge. 

Fold the outer edges of the pastry over the peaches, creating overlapping folds as you work around the perimeter. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of honey over each galette and bake for an addition 5 minutes.

Allow the galette cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Cut into wedges to serve.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bourbon Soaked Bundt Cake

With nearly a cup of bourbon and three sticks of butter, this is a cake to reserve for special occasions. Happy birthday, Love!

adapted from Bake it with Booze and the Brown Eyed Baker

yields 1 cake

The Ingredients
for the cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/3 cup bourbon

Bourbon Soaking Sauce
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup bourbon

The Process
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously oil a 10 cup bundt pan and set aside. 
In the large bowl, cream together the butter with the granulated and brown sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes on medium high using a stand mixer or hand held beaters). Scrap done sides of bowl as needed. 
Beat the eggs into the butter mixture one at a time, incorporating fully after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the bourbon and buttermilk. 

Alternately add the flour mixture and bourbon mixture to the butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Add the last addition by hand, folding until flour is just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake, uncovered for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven to a wire rack and allow to cool in the bundt pan for about 10 minutes.
While the cake cools prepare the bourbon soak by Melting the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add the sugar and vanilla and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the bourbon. Whisk until fully combined.
Using a long skewer, poke several holes throughout the cake. Slowly pour about 3/4 of the bourbon soak onto the cake, allowing to soak in. Reserve the remaining bourbon soak.
Allow the cake to cool completely in the bundt pan, about 2 hours. Once completely cool, invert the cake onto a serving platter and remove from pan. Rewarm the remaining bourbon soak and brush onto the surface of the cake to glaze. 
Slice and enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pecan Meringue Cookies

Have you made much ice cream or custard this summer? This simple meringue cookie will help use up some of those egg whites.

adapted from Elise Bauer's recipe on Simply Recipes

yields about 2 dozen cookies

The Ingredients:
1 cup whole pecans
3 egg whites, brought to room temperature
pinch of salt
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp white vinegar

The Process
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Place pecans in an oven proof dish and bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Using a blunt object, smash pecans until broken into small pieces. Set aside.

Increase the oven temperature to 300.

Add egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Add salt. Whisk the eggs on low, gradually increasing the speed until frothy and soft peaks begin to form, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Increase the speed to medium-high, and slowly add the sugar 2 Tbsp at a time. Allow each addition to thoroughly combine before adding the next. Continue to whisk the eggs and sugar for a 2-3 minutes. Add the vinegar to the bowl. Increase speed to high and whisk until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form, 4-5 minutes.

Gently fold in the pecan pieces. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto parchment lined baking sheets.

Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Leave them in the oven overnight to dry. In the morning the cookies should be crisp on the outside, but light and airy on the inside. If they are a little marshmallowy or chewy on the inside in the morning, allow them dry out for a few more hours.

Store at room temperature in an air tight container.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lemongrass Beef Short Ribs

If you have an afternoon to babysit this batch of braised short ribs, I promise you will be deeply rewarded. Three hours is a lot of time to commit to a dinner, but during the process, the kitchen will be engulfed in an incredible aroma. The meat begins shrinking from the bone about a half hour into cooking and towards the end fall off with the slightest touch. So incredibly tender. And I am so happy to have leftovers.

adapted from Eat, Drink, Paleo

serves 4

The Ingredients:
3 lb beef short ribs
4-5 lemongrass stalks, bruised
Medium knob of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium orange, peel and juice
1/2 lime, juiced
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp Tamari sauce
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1/2 to 1 tsp chilli flakes
1/4  tsp of black pepper
1/2 tsp of Chinese five spice powder
1 1/2 cup of water
1 crown of broccoli, cut into florets

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Arrange the short ribs in a single layer in a deep roasting pan. Scatter the lemon grass, ginger, onion, garlic and orange peel around the beef. In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, fish sauce, sesame oil, tamari sauce, water and seasoning. Pour mixture over the beef. Cover tightly with foil.
Bake, covered for 30  minutes at 400, turning the meat halfway through.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 and cook, covered, an additional 2 hours, flipping the meat every 30 minutes.   

Uncover the roasting pan and remove the meat from the bones. Roast, uncovered another 15 minutes. Add the broccoli, tossing to coat in the juices. Roast another 15 minutes or until the broccoli is tender-crisp and the meat has browned.