Monthly Archives: July 2010

First Croissants in New Kitchen

Accidentally, I used bread flour. Not my favorite flour for croissant making. In the past I have had absolutely no luck with it. The high gluten content is, in theory, desirable, but it is trickier to rise in this recipe. I’ve even gone European with it and *weighed* my ingredients as opposed to measure. Still, no luck.

But I didn’t realize it was bread flour until everything was mixed. And even then, I had no AP flour on hand. So, I added more liquid. A lot more liquid, set it outside in the heat to rise and was patient.

Not easy for me.

It rose. A fair amount. Not the poof of pillow fluff expected from AP flour. But good enough. I laminated the dough with butter, stuck it in the fridge and still, it expanded. Hopeful.

After more laminating and rolling out the croissants, I baked them. My son was impatient. Croissant and jam would be his dinner and it was nearing 8pm.

Out of the oven and onto his plate. The family was very satisfied. Me? Not so much. I don’t know if it is the flour or my pregnancy tongue, but the taste is not the taste I was going for. Still, my husband ate three and my son is on his second one. I think my daughter even ate a whole one.

More croissants in the future. The nice thing about cooking–when it doesn’t go perfectly–is that it is the results are temporary…

croissants

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Eggless Raviolis and Ceasar Salad

There will be a repeat performance of this meal next week, with some vegan versions thrown in. Hopefully I will have the time them to really blog about it. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures. It was my first ravioli making ever and my first ravioli tasting in about 15 years!

Cranking out the pasta with a little help from my girl.

This was the most non-electric fun they had all afternoon.

Filling: Brayed paneer and chopped garden fresh flat parsley

Cuties!

Homemade Croutons

Cheese raviolis with a light tomato sauce.

Ceasar Salad--romaine lettuce, celery, kalamata olives, homemade croutons, grilled paneer w/ a dressing of olive brine, olive oil, parmesan and tofu.

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Beans, Donuts and Frosty Shrikand

Our life has been lacking order, quality time and sweets. So I am really trying, despite feeling old and pregnant and totally impatient at times, to correct that.

Order is rough. Still getting stuff put away but with a throbbing varicose vein (sexy) I am not that ambitious.

Quality time. Bought some glue. Spilled some beans on a plate. Outlined a shark. Go! My son likes crafties, so I got him started on a second bean mosaic. Remember the first?

Some people like to boil their beans, others like to glue them.

He’s very proud of his shark and I think it turned out great.

Sweets. Not having a proper kitchen set-up has been an austerity for our family because it has meant no baked goods. On occasion, we’ve bought donuts from Maintrini, the best donut maker in my book. But, my son loves them so much, he wanted me to recreate the sweet mapley goodness at home. I tried. It didn’t work out so well. But still, we ate them.

Vegan donuts...C+. Still, I ate at least 4.

Eggless donuts. The oil started getting too hot and these were a bit darker than the vegan ones. Grade....C-.

My pet project usually involves shrikand. I had a master plan for perfecting the perfect frozen shrikand recipe, but then I bought a bunch of cherries on sale at Publix and thought, what the hell, let me just wing it. I gathered my ingredients, let my five year old daughter cup up the cherries, and shoved it all in the ice cream maker.

Hung yogurt, sweet cherries, Tahitian vanilla bean and turbinado.

Into the ice cream maker...

Cuisinart ice cream maker, purchased with Cashback Rewards Points. Jury is still out whether or not this was a good purchase.

The flavor was excellent. The texture….hmmm. Straight out of the ice cream maker, it was very gelato-ish. I put it in the freezer overnite and then it was super hard. Maybe a little too hard. But the taste was divinity. Tart and rich, like the frozen yogurt I had as a kid at Saks with my mom. Not all fat-free skinny assed like the frozen yogurt being sold in chains across America.

The final product: Tahitian Vanilla Bean Cherry Frozen Shrikand

With both the donuts and frozen shrikand, I need to experiment more. But before that, I should probably get everything put away.

Other things cooked this week–lots of buckwheat cake, with cherries thrown in for some extra summer sweetness, artichokes (of course) and a killer stuffed baked potato made with pepper jack cheese. The dinner table tonite will include some fresh organic kale and a lovely green salad. Calcium, iron and folic acid makes for a happy baby in-utero.

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Eggless Zucchini Bread Recipe

(not my pic, but it will look like this)

It’s zucchini time! Or so I read on Facebook. We had tiny carrots, beans, nasturtium, bell pepper, chilies, herbs and tomatoes. Even our cabbage is growing, although it better hurry up because we want to till everything under. But zucchini. Zucchini! The idiots crop. Did nothing in our sad little plot. Well, it flowered. And I did contemplate cooking with those flowers. But no. I have no sense of flower gender so I left the blossoms alone. And my payoff? Nothing.

But that’s not to say your plot or CSA box is not overwhelmed by zucchinis. It most likely is, which is why  my husband refuses to join a CSA. He doesn’t even want the small box.

Here is a great zucchini bread recipe adapted from the Better Homes & Garden Cookbook and made famous by my friend Kadamba. The recipe is for a loaf pan but feel free to make it in a cake pan. And feel free to drizzle a frosting made of condensed milk and powdered sugar over the top while it is still hot. Or just a straight up powdered sugar and milk (or water for you vegans without a well stocked pantry) frosting over it once cooled. Plain is pretty nice, too.

Here is the now famous zucchini bread recipe.  If I recall right, Kadamba mixed it up a little…using some whole wheat and some white.  Therefore, she had to add more liquid, which I think she did in the form of milk.  When making the bread here, she used yogurt as the egg substitute but ground flaxseed gooed up in some water would probably work well also.

Eggless Zucchini Bread Recipe / Vegan -izeable Zucchini Bread Recipe

1.5 c flour (you can mix it up with your flours, but may need to add liquid if you use whole grains…usually it is 1 tb liquid for 1 c whole wheat)

1 tspn cinnamon

1/2 tspn bake soda

1/4 tspn bake pwdr

1/4 tspn salt

1/4 tspn nutmeg

1 c sugar

1 c shredded zucchini

1/4 c oil

2 TB yogurt or 1 recipe flax egg

1/4 tspn lemon peel (this is nice but if you don’t have a lemon on hand, forge ahead)

1/2 c walnuts (pecans are lovely, too)


Mix it up. After getting batter in tin, you may choose to sprinkle top with large crystalled turbinado sugar.

Bake at 350 for 55 minutes in a loaf pan. If using a cake pan, bake for 35-40 minutes.

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Eggless Plum Tart

I wanted to bake something. Something that I would not blame for my thighs rubbing together. Something with fruit. It’s summertime, after all!

We had plums in the fridge. Tart, oversized, un-Italian, totally American plums. Not the kind of plums you would find in a Williams poem. I would improve upon what they weren’t born with…and I would do it with butter and sugar. This tart recipe is very simple and allows the natural taste of your plums to shine. With improvements.

Want to play along? Here’s my recipe. Don’t be frightened off if you, like me, don’t own a tart plate. A pie pan worked pretty darn okay. Such a simple ingredient list, preparing this recipe makes me feel kind of like I stepped into the pages of a McCloskey book. So simple. So good. My son had three slices!

Plum Tart Recipe

Crust:
1 cup all purpose flour (I used white, wheat would be fine, too)
1/4 cup corn flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces

Pulse in a food processor. Add a tablespoon or two of cold water until forms a ball. Transfer to work surface and make into a mound/ball/large glob of dough. Don’t overwork dough. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

*I refrigerated 2 hours and thought it could be colder so I stuck my dough in the freezer.

When you have prepped the filling, take out the dough and roll it out between two pieces of parchment or wax paper. I had some ghee solids laying around so I rubbed that onto the dough for a little extra fatness. Feel free to do things like that on a whim.

Roll out to the size of your pie/tart plate. Transfer to plate and gently press in and cut away excess, if you have any (I rarely do).

Filling:
4 very large plums or 7-8 small plums
3/4 cup sucanat (yes, you can use a different type of sugar)
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

Slice washed plums 1/4″ thick and combine in a bowl with sugar and arrowroot powder. Give it a mix and then arrange plum slices in a concentric circle on tart crust.

Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 35-45 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes and then carefully pour off any excess liquid–you may or may not have.

I had this time and saved the liquid for tofu marinade. Allow to cool on countertop and set. If desired sprinkle with powdered sugar when cooled. My husband ate his à la mode. I would have liked a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

Unwrapped and out of the freezer--the dough.

Plums, sucanat, arrowroot powder.

All mixed up.

Out of the oven, mostly cooled and topped with a course sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Up close...

Not fully cooled but fully delicious.

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Food On A Stick–Great For Kids

I get a fair amount of emails from moms asking me how to get their kids to eat all sorts of good things. Unlike Jessica Seinfeld, I don’t go the route of camouflaging lentil beans as brownies and carrots as popsicles. Instead, I just put whatever I’ve cooked on a stick.

Children really like to eat with sticks. As opposed to forks. Or plates. Think about it. Carrying your meal on a stick makes it highly portable and the incentive to finish is built in. Once your stick is denuded of food, your child has a deft weapon to poke siblings eyes out with. Only child? Don’t worry! Your little darling will find proper motivation to eat up knowing that, upon completion, the parent will most likely freak out and try to disarm the child in fear that said child will poke his or her own eye out.

But relax. Let the kids walk on the wild side with their primitive tools. It’s a helluva lot safer than setting your kid loose with a Miley Cyrus video.

Since I’ve re-entered the kitchen, I have a little squeaky voiced shadow butting up against me. She keeps un-doing what I’ve done, rearranging what’s been put away and “cooking” all kinds of messes. Saturday I discovered a way to have her use her powers for good–sticking fruit on a stick. This would be what people in pre-school circles call “non-cooking cooking.”

Madhumati super busy making fruit kebabs.

She made a bunch, ate them all and then came back to make some more.

Proud chef.

Her creations were so tasty and attractive that even the brother decided  to join the kitchen staff. This activity kept them busy for quite some time. As long as there were skewers and cut fruit, they were occupied. It was kind of like edible jewelry making.

The plums were a bit tart.

Putting away boxes filled with food, I discovered my last bag of gluten flour. Since we had plans to go to the beach the next day, I thought seitan kebabs would make a good dinner and even better beach left overs. The kids love them–because they are on a stick–so I got to work boiling, frying and broiling.

Here is a recipe. It is not *the* recipe–I only use that when making the sauce in quantity. This recipe is kind of off the top of my head, which is how I do it when I am just making family portions. So, you might need to tweak it a bit, but it will definitely get you over the finish line.

Barbecue Gluten Kebabs

Here’s how I make it:

3 cups gluten flour

3 cups water

2 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon curry powder

First mix all the dry ingredients together. Then add the wet. Make a brain looking blob. Cut into 3 pieces and add to a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and keep it rolling for an hour.

Drain, cut into irregular cubies (1-2″) and *deep fry.* You can pan fry, but deep fry is, honestly, easiest.

When out of the oil, transfer to a pot of sauce.

This is what you do for the sauce:

When you are done draining your boiled seitan brain, get started on the sauce.

Take a 28 oz can of crushed tomato and add this to it:

1/2 cup water

½ cup Bragg Liquid Amino (or good quality soy sauce–note that Braggs is saltier tasting than soy sauce)

½ cup molasses

½ cup sucanat (any sugar will do but the darker the lovelier)

one teaspoon hing (available in Indian groceries or Wegman’s, Whole Foods, etc.).

Cook until thick and dark.

Boil the fried gluten in the sauce until you are done frying and the sauce is dark. Transfer to a baking tray and shove in a pre-heated oven on broil for 10 minutes, give it a stir and wait another 10. Should get nice and charred in spots. Remove from oven, wait about 15 minutes to cool down and then skewer.


More food on a stick: barbecue gluten kebabs.

Sunday we made it to Anastasia State Park, a favorite Florida destination for our family. It was great to get out after convalescing in my sick room for a couple of months. We’ve never experienced crowds at Anastasia and the weather was perfect. Our summer has been a bit spoiled by the remodel and my morning sickness, so it was a great relief to have family time to cherish, watching my children compete with the sun’s glow. Even though I am pregnant and about to become a mom to yet another tiny person, I feel old. Like death is imminent. I am not trying to be a downer, but I think this is just what happens when you move along in your 30’s. The body begins to decline, despite the fact that a new life is rooted deep within me. Every day the contradiction slaps me in the face. While I know I am not quite yet eligible for AARP membership, I am way past my carefree 20’s. These moments with my kids are important to me and I am grateful that the bouts of poor health were temporary–knowing that these days of strength and vitality are also temporary.

Here’s my loves…notice I am included amongst the pics! Sadly, the Babu ended up on the cutting room floor. The camera battery died early in the day so much of the beach fun went undocumented.

My daughter, vested and ready for the Atlantic.

Me. At the beach. In my *mom hat,* Walmart circa 2001.

Vm was absolutely alive in the water and therefore nearly impossible to photograph.

There were large fish swimming right next to him.

Every princess needs her castle.

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Huff Post Food Today

milking that camel

There was just too much in the HuffPo Food section today that was share-worthy….so here we are.

Ready for the *other white milk?* Sue Manning reports on camel milk in California.

I am not so interested in junk schools and junk food–too much corporate machinations to wrap my head around and most articles fall flat of even attempting to clue us in. But the picture chosen to accompany this Michelle Locke piece is a gem: a hamburger on a donut. Can’t pass up checking that out!

Yet another article on the alcohol content of kombucha and how you may have to show proof of age to buy it.

And here are a few tips how po’ folk like me with a huge kitchen payment can afford to buy organic. I didn’t find any great money saving revelations here, but maybe it will encourage some of you. Personally, we buy our bulk stuff organic and the cheaper produce. Fresh is best is our motto, so we do try to buy local produce and wash it up real good.

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