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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mango Lassi

Sometimes it's the simple things.  You know what I'm talking about...
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.
Brown paper packages tied up with strings.

 or perhaps...
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels.
Door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.

might I add...
Sun on my shoulders and wind in the willows.
The echo of laughter and sweet faces on pillows.
The sweet mellow sound when Dave Matthews sings.

or maybe...
Mangoes and yogurt puréed into lassies.
Going incognito behind my dark sunglassies.
Adding new lyrics to already popular things.

Mango Lassi
slightly adapted from Happy Days with the Naked Chef
serves 4 (<---- that's debatable)

1 c. plain greek yogurt
~1/2 c. milk + more as needed
7 oz. fresh mango, pitted & sliced (~1 mango)
4 tsp. sugar, to taste

Put everything into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into glasses and serve.  You can refrigerate this lassi for up to 24 hours.

*forgive me Rodgers and Hammerstein...and Sound of Music lovers everywhere....
Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mexican Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Mexican Chocolate Chunk Cookies
I love the grainy texture of Mexican Chocolate- but I've got to admit, I've become totally spoiled.  Since mi amiga has been bringing me freshly made disks of soft, pliable (and often still warm...or so it seems) cinnamon-flecked chocolate from Mexico an average of two times a year, I'm ruined for the store bought stuff.  I ran out of the good stuff a few weeks ago and tried substituting a round of the type I used to love from my Mexican market.  I found that I no longer loved it.  It's harder.  It doesn't melt as beautifully.  Spoiled.  Fortunately, I received another baggie-full this week.  I don't know what I'd do if she went to Mexico less often than she does (or wasn't able to bring me any).  Now, I know how to make it, but I am absolutely unable to source cacao beans.  But enough woe is me...I will survive.  If I use it frugally.
Friday, July 29, 2011

50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #8 Judith Jones - Zucchini Pancakes

In May '11, Gourmet posted a list of 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food) that runs the gamut from food writers to cookbook authors to television personalities to restauranteurs to chefs to food bloggers.  Some are a given.  Some are controversial.  Speaking the names of some brings fond childhood memories.  Speaking the names of others will make some readers cringe.  And of course, some of our favorites were not even included.  We food-lovers are a passionate bunch of people and whether we agree or disagree, every woman on this list has earned her place for a reason.  Being a woman who is passionate about food (cooking, eating, talking about, writing about, photographing), when I caught wind of Mary from One Perfect Bite's idea of cooking/blogging her way through each of these 50 per week...I knew I wanted to join her.  Many of these women paved the way for us in culinary school, in the kitchen, in cookbooks, in food writing, and on television and I think it is a fabulous way to pay tribute to their efforts.  Some of the women on the list have been tops with me for years.  Some I have heard of (perhaps even seen, read, or cooked from) before.  And there are even a handful that I am not familiar with at all.  I excited to educate myself on each of these women game-changers and hope you look forward to reading along.  We are going in order from 1 to 50.
the "Gourmet" prompt...
8. Judith Jones- Without her there may have been no Julia (not to mention Hazan, Jaffrey, and so many more), because Jones was Child’s early, only champion, and lifelong editor. She also rescued Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl from the slush pile, but that’s another story.

While I'd toyed with picking up a copy of Jones' book The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food many times, I had yet to do it.  That is, until her name popped up as number eight on the list.  So, of course I'm skimming... because time absolutely flies by from one Friday to the next.  By the time we're finished with our crash-course of these 50 ladies, I'm going to have another 100 books (easy) added to my to-read list.  Sheeesh.  So, while I wish I had more background on Judith Jones to share with you, I found myself unprepared this week.  I will share with you some info from her website The Pleasures of Cooking for One-  "Judith Jones is Senior Editor and Vice President at Alfred A. Knopf. She joined the company in 1957 as an editor working primarily on translations of French writers such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. She had worked before that for Doubleday, first in New York and then in Paris, where she was responsible for reading and recommending The Diary of Anne Frank. In addition to her literary authors, she has been particularly interested in developing a list of first-rate cookbook writers; her authors have included Julia Child (Judith published Julia’s first book and was her editor ever after), Lidia Bastianich, James Beard, Marion Cunningham, Rosie Daley, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Edna Lewis, Scott Peacock, Joan Nathan, Jacques Pépin, Claudia Roden, and Nina Simonds. She is the coauthor with Evan Jones (her late husband) of two books: The Book of Bread: Knead It, Punch It, Bake It! (for children); and The Book of New New England Cookery. She also collaborated with Angus Cameron on The L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook. Recently, she has contributed to Vogue, Saveur, and Gourmet magazines. In 2006, she was awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award."  Pretty darn game-changing if you ask me.  I have, however, had some enough time to page through her entire cookbook by the same name...and although I don't often cook for one, once the kiddos are back in school, I'll have at least five afternoons a week when I do.  So many fantastic ideas and recipes...another "want".

worth further exploration:  (website) The Pleasures of Cooking for One, (books) The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones, The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones
Zucchini Pancakes

zucchini, grated to make 1 cup
1 egg
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 scallion, finely chopped
a few chopped fresh parsley and/or basil leaves
1 slice prosciutto, torn into small pieces
2 slim strips red bell pepper, cut into small dice
light olive oil
squash blossoms to garnish, optional

Spread out the grated zucchini on a towel, and sprinkle salt generously over it.  After 5 minutes or so, pat dry to extract some of the juice.  Beat egg lightly in a bowl, and add the grated zucchini, flour, scallion, herbs, prosciutto, and pepper pieces.  Heat enough oil in a medium skillet to film generously, and when hot, plop half of the batter into the pan, flattening it slightly.  Repeat with remaining batter (you should get 2 pancakes).  When pancakes are brown on the bottom, turn and brown other side.  Remove to a warmed plate and fry the squash blossoms in a little butter, if you wish- this takes just a few seconds (and very, very little butter).  Toss them on top of the pancakes.
Judith Jones (1924-present)
"I couldn't lie.  Yes, I admitted, I adored garlic." ~in answer to her mother's questioning about her "wayward" path in The Tenth Muse
Who is cooking along with these 50 Women Game-Changers?
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Arroz con Leche {Rice Pudding}

Arroz con Leche is really Mexi's "thing".  On those days when there's not much to eat in the house, it's inevitable that my hubby will be in the kitchen putting together a pot of this sweet, comforting concoction.  The great thing about arroz con leche...or rice pudding, that it is very versatile.  He's probably never made it the same way twice.  Sometimes he uses sweetened condensed milk.  Sometimes evaporated.  Sometimes regular ol' milk.  I suppose that's why it always winds up on the stove when everything else is running can pretty much guarantee that we at least have rice, some variety of milk, and some sort of sweetener in the house at all times.  Now, while Mexi's versions vary, whenever I am in the mood to make some, I make this version.  To me, it is perfection.  Sometimes I switch out the raisins with dried mango (my favorite dried fruit!) or cherries...sometimes I leave it out altogether.  But this method using medium-grain rice (my preferred type/size rice grain) is what soothes me the quickest.
Arroz con Leche
adapted from Mexico One Plate at a Time
yield: ~6 servings (~5½ c.)

2" piece of Mexican canela (or any cinnamon stick)
2 (2") strips of orange zest
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 c. medium-grain white rice
4 c. milk (preferably whole or 2%)
¾ c. sugar
½ c. raisins (or other dried fruit like cherries, cranberries, diced apricots or mango)
Miel de Piloncillo (Mexican Raw Sugar Syrup), for serving
Place cinnamon stick, orange zest, ½ tsp. salt, and 1¾ cups water into a 4 quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, then cover and lower heat as low as it will go while still simmering gently, for ~17-20 minutes (until all of the water has just absorbed).  Remove cinnamon stick and orange zest.

Add milk and sugar to the pan.  Set over medium-low heat and simmer until mixture just begins to thick (no thicker than the consistency of heavy cream), ~15-20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and stir in the raisins (or other dried fruit).

Serve warm, drizzled with Miel de Piloncillo.

*This can be refrigerated in a covered container for a few days.  It will thicken as it sits, so you will need to stir some more milk into it when warming it up. 
I am sharing this post with:
Miz-Helen-Badge-ALT5 foodfriday food trip friday Sweet Treats Party SweetToothFriday sweets for a saturday
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Homemade Hamburger Buns

No joke, every single person who ate them, raved about them.  They turned up the class factor a notch on our Sloppy Joes.  Actually, it's almost like they were made for them.  You know that feeling...that messy, squishy, sloppy (go figure)...feeling when you're half way through your Sloppy Joe.  Your store bought bun has begun to wither under the juices.  These buns will not do that.

While these buns have a sexy golden crust on the outside that holds up to those juices, the insides are tender and amazing at soaking up some of those same juices.  I'm not saying you're not gonna lose the loose meat out the sides when you take a bite.  I'm not changing the name to "Tidy Joes" or anything...just offering you a fighting chance, is all.  These are going to be a permanent fixture in our house.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Miel de Piloncillo {Mexican Raw Sugar Syrup}

Who else thinks that piloncillo cones are irresistible?  Translating roughly as "little pylon" in honor of its shape, these cones of Mexican raw sugar can vary in color from a golden, honey color to a rich, dark molasses color.  As you would imagine, the darker the color, the deeper the flavor.  You can find them ranging in size from pretty small (like the ones pictures...~¾ of an ounce) to tall ones that can weigh a ½ pound or more.  While I often just chuck a couple of them into a big, warm pot of Agua de Tamarindo in order to sweeten it (a trick I learned from mi suegra), in order to use them in a recipe, they need to be grated, shredded, shaved, or chipped- whatever is easiest for you.  If I need it small, I use a box grater, otherwise I may just shave away at it with a sharp knife.  

Today I'm sharing a lovely, sticky, deeply-hued syrup that can be used to drizzle over buñuelos, on top of Arroz con Leche, as a sweetener in a cocktail...or any other way you choose. 
Miel de Piloncillo
{Mexican Raw Sugar Syrup}
from Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless
makes ~¾-1 c.

8-9 oz. Piloncillo (1 large cone or several small)
one 2" strip orange zest
⅛ tsp. anise seed
Combine piloncillo, orange zest, and anise seeds with 2 cups of water in a small saucepan.  Set over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil.  Stir until sugar cone melts completely, then keep it at a gentle boil until mixture has reduced to a syrupy consistency, ~20-30 minutes.  Cool and strain into a jar.  This syrup will keep refrigerated for several weeks.
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Monday, July 25, 2011

cookbook review: Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone by Ann Gentry + Baked Kale Chips (& Kale Dust for Popcorn)

Author: Ann Gentry
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Hard Cover : 258 Pages

Chapters/Sections: Introduction, Breakfasts, Snacks and Sandwiches, Soups, Family-Style Salads, Simple Meals, Grains and Vegetables, Desserts

Unique Features:  Beautiful photography throughout.  An extremely thoughtful introduction by the author in which her passion for food of the vegan persuasion shines through...without being preachy or new-wavy.  Gentry presents a persuasive argument for going vegan (though this cheese-lovin', bacon-munching, honey-aficionado hasn't made the switch) in today's world of obesity, disease, and sustainable farming/eating.  While you may not be ready to make the switch to being entirely vegan, her introduction may be enough to start your brain churning.

(a few of the) Recipes Destined for my Kitchen:  Vegan Cashew Cheese, Homemade Nut Milk, Nutty Raspberry Muffins, Fennel and Roasted Garlic Soup w/ Walnut-Basil Pesto, Southwestern Salad w/ Chipotle Ranch Dressing and Agave-Chili Tortilla Strips, Hemp-Crusted Tofu Wrap w/ Grilled Vegetables and Walnut-Basil Pesto Mayonnaise, Tofu Scramble w/ Avocado, (Maple Tempeh) Bacon, and Cheese, Chocolate Silk Pie w/ Cashew Crust

My Thoughts/Review:  Gentry's cookbook is a wonderful resource that I am delighted to have in my cookbook library.  A few of the recipes call for things that you may need to special-order (if your town is anything like mine) such as nutritional yeast or umeboshi paste, but tucked into the back is a convenient little Natural Food Companies Source page.  Plus, you can find pretty much anything if you google it these days.  (Except cacao beans...whole ones...if you know of a source, please please tell me.  This has nothing to do with this book, it just reminded me.)  I think that learning to make vegan "cheese" and nut milks would be fun, even if I'm not sure how often I'd use them.  But seeing how more and more people are switching to vegan diets these days, I am glad to have a source for flavorful, colorful, delicious dishes.  Just in case. 

Recipes I have already tried:  Baked Kale Chips (& Kale Dust for Popcorn)
Did you know that I'm a kale fiend?  It all started about two years ago. I ♥'s probably my favorite veg.  While I've tried Baked Kale Chips before, I'd always gone with the "regular" version (which there is absolutely nothing wrong with...I adore it), but I was excited and stupefied (ummm...why didn't I think of that) to find Gentry's list of "variations" (Vinegar and Sea Salt, Maple-Coconut, Garlic-Sesame, Hot and Spicy) and Kale Dust for Popcorn (genius!).
Baked Kale Chips
(regular or Hot and Spicy)
slightly adapted from Vegan Family Meals
serves 2-4

1 (8 oz.) bunch Kale

1 Tbs. olive oil
⅛ tsp. fine sea salt

my variation on Gentry's variation of Hot and Spicy:
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. maple syrup
crushed red pepper flakes
chili powder
garlic powder
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 300° F.  Line a large, heavy baking sheet (or 2) with parchment paper.

Spin (salad spinner) or pat rinsed kale dry with paper towels.  Cut away the center spine of each kale leaf (or do as I do...fold in half lengthwise w/ stem on outside and pull the spine out).  Cut leaf in half, if you wish.  Place kale in a bowl (or the lazy way...right on the lined tray) and a) toss with the oil and salt for the regular version or b) combine oil and maple syrup then throw in a bit of each of the seasonings to taste and then toss with the kale.  Be sure to rub it in with your hands.

Arrange the kale pieces in a single layer on sheet and bake until crisp, ~25 minutes.  Check every 10 minutes or so while baking, turning some pieces over if they start to look too dark. (Maple syrup may cause them to get dark faster...but mine still cooked about the same amount of time.)

The kale chips will stay crisp and fresh for up to a week, stored in a sealed container or bag.
Kale Dust for Popcorn:
Crush the baked kale chips with your fingers or a mortar and pestle into a fine powder.  Sprinkle the crushed kale over popcorn.   
Genius, I say.  Genius.  It's's delicious...I can't get enough!  Now, I didn't crush mine too finely because I was in a hurry to eat, so keep crushin' if you want it "dustier"...but either way- Mmmm.  Hmmm.
*I received a free copy of this book to review from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine
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foodiesreadingchallenge midnight maniac meatless monday just another meatless monday veganmondays my meatless mondays