Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Braised Short Ribs

I found some nice-looking short ribs the other day on sale, and originally I'd planned to make them Korean style. But then I was looking around in my fridge and pantry and saw there was a fair amount of the massive amount of produce I'd purchased recently that was looking a little peaky and in need of cooking. So instead, I opted to do it in beer* in the slow cooker (alternately, Dutch oven in a slow oven will be good as well) so I could use up some produce and still have a tender, delicious and healthful meal. Hope you enjoy!

1 pound boneless beef short ribs
1 cup each: yellow bell pepper (cut into chunks), mixed greens (mostly kale and radish greens is what I used)
4 carrots, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 ears corn, cut into 1-inch rounds
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped (with juices)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled and left whole
salt and pepper to taste
1/2-3/4 cups dark ale

Put all of the above into a 4-quart crock pot, cover and cook on high for several hours, or until the ribs are falling apart. Serve over pearled barley. Serves 4-6.

*The beer I used was the Baby Brew, which is a truly lovely ale made for us by our friend Stephen in honor of Ilana's birth. It's really wonderful - slightly hoppy but well balanced with a bit of extra sweetness in the middle that offsets the barely bitter finish. This beer is probably my definition of the perfect beer, and I am really excited and thankful that he made this for us as our "welcome to parenthood" gift. We'd not finished a bottle of it last night and I was going to use the remainder for Baby Brew Bread, but instead felt the ribs would be a more fitting and beautiful use for the leftover beer. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Turkey Stock Soup

I discovered I still had a turkey in the freezer a while ago and had spent some time making my plan of action. You kind of have to do that with turkeys, because there's just so much meat to them. I roasted the turkey on Monday, and so on Tuesday it was time to start working through the leftovers. This soup was perfect. Turkey, but not too turkey (mostly because there wasn't room in the pot for some flesh). Hope you enjoy!

1 turkey carcass
1 onion, quartered
1 lemon, cut in half
water to cover

1/2 pound kale
2 ears of corn, cut into rounds
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
5 stalks of celery, sliced
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, cut into half moons
1/3 cup wheat berries
water if needed
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the first group of ingredients to a boil then simmer for one hour. Strain, reserving stock. Put stock and second group of ingredients in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Let boil 5-10 minutes then simmer for one hour. Serves 4-6.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cantaloupe Cupcakes

I realized today that I still had some of those wonderful candied peels Lisa sent me earlier this year, and I got really excited. See, I had decided to use some cantaloupe that I'd frozen in cupcakes today, to go with our leftovers meal of red beans and rice, and that fricassee. But when I discovered those hiding (from Ross, I'm guessing, since I can't imagine why else I'd have hidden it. Though it's possible I hid it from myself so I wouldn't plow through them all before I got to use them in recipes either) in the fridge, I realized that the perfect compliment to my cupcakes was not going to be lemon butter cream, but instead would be vanilla butter cream with PEELS IN THEM! I was supposed to make more butter cream anyway, since Ross likes to put it in his coffee (I know how weird that sounds, but it's oddly delicious) so all of this works out to be full of win for all the tummies in this house. Anyway, I can't see any reason why you couldn't do this with or without peel, or the cakes with a different sort of fruit. Let me know if you play with it and how things turned out. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 cup sugar
1 stick room temperature butter (I always use unsalted, but you can use whatever you want)
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour (or cake, if you want it more delicate)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons yogurt (your call; I only eye-balled how much I stuck in there)
1 cup diced cantaloupe*

Heat the oven to 350F. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time. Add the yogurt. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt, and then stir in the fruit. Put into a lined cupcake tray and bake for 17-20 minutes (a tester will come out clean; I want to say it's about 19 minutes for me). Cool on a rack. Frost. Makes 12.


2 sticks of butter
3-ish cups of powdered sugar (I admit I never measure this, but it looks like about that much)
1 teaspoon-ish vanilla paste
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped candied citrus peel of your choice (I used yuzu!)

Beat the sugar and vanilla into the butter, until it's frosting. Fold in peels. Pipe or whatever onto cupcakes, then eat!

*This can be frozen and thawed, or it can be fresh - alternately you may puree it. That being said, you will most assuredly want to increase the baking time if you use fresh fruit that is diced and not pureed, because you won't be able to get a lot of the juices out. Cantaloupe has a LOT more juice than I realized, so once I had thawed and chopped it up, I put it in a strainer and pressed all the bits so they'd be a lot drier and not add a ton of moisture to the batter.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chicken and Kale Fricassee

I'm still in the process of using up things in the fridge, freezer and pantry that I don't want in the house anymore, or which are simply getting old. Today is another of those meals. It's a meat meal this time, because I had a larger amount of chicken breast in the freezer than I realized. Also, I am planning a huge shopping trip soon, so I'd like to eat up as much of the older meats and such and get a new batch of meat in there that's more reflective of the amounts of each we generally consume. Hope you enjoy!

1 large onion, cut into half moons
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each: kosher salt, pepper
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
zest of one small lemon

juice of half of the lemon
2 cloves of garlic, sliced lengthwise very thinly

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-2" pieces
pinch each: kosher salt, pepper, herbes de Provence
2 ladles of vegetable or chicken broth (around 2/3 cup)

3/4 - 1 cup whole picholine or nicoise olives
1/2 pound chopped kale
pinch each: kosher salt, pepper
juice of the other half of the lemon
1 ladle of vegetable or chicken broth (around 1/3 cup, though you may need more)

Put the first group of ingredients in a deep skillet and cook on medium heat until the onions are largely translucent. Add garlic and lemon juice and cook another 5 minutes. Add third group of ingredients and cook until the chicken looks about half done (about 10 minutes), then add in the last group of ingredients. You will probably need to add the kale in stages so you can get it all in the pan. Cover the pan with a plate or lid, and let it cook for 15 more minutes. Serve over rice. Serves 4.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lemon and Thai Basil Yogurt Cake

I have some lemons and yogurt I need to use, and I also am growing some Thai basil. I have a tendency to sometimes neglect the proper pruning needs of my plants, so I've been trying to be better about that lately. This cake came of my desire to use these two ingredients, but also of my desire to have a dessert that would pair well with minestrone and brown bread for dinner. Hope you enjoy!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 sprigs Thai basil

1-2 cups confectioners’ sugar
juice of a small lemon

Combine the lemon juice, sugar and basil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a minute or so and remove from the heat. Let cool. Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together eggs, zest, yogurt, strained basil syrup, vanilla and salt. Then whisk in baking powder, then flour. Fold in oil. Put in a greased and lined (I use a coffee filter to line my pan) loaf pan. Bake 60-ish minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan, invert onto a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Pour glaze over the cake, let it set and serve. Makes 12 slices.


Whisk sugar into lemon juice. Add the sugar slowly until it is the consistency of glaze (stiffness) you want. I like mine to set pretty firmly, almost like Royal icing, so I use a lot of sugar.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Steel Cut Oats with Blueberries

I really like steel cut oatmeal. I do not like rolled oatmeal. It's a textual thing, I guess? Either way, despite the increasing heat here in Houston I've been on an oatmeal kick. This one is particularly fun because it has blueberries in it, and who doesn't like blueberries? Also, it takes only a few minutes to make, and then you just heat it in the morning with your sugars. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup steel cut oats
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup dried blueberries (if you're wanting to use fresh or frozen, use more)
4 cups water

2 tablespoons agave
1/4 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over high heat. Add oats and salt, and stir around, frying for about a minute. Add water and blueberries (but don't add these yet if you're using fresh or frozen) and bring to a boil. Let boil one minute, turn off the heat and put the lid on. Leave it on the stove until you come back in the morning (I do this part right before bed). In the morning, pop off the lid and add the second group of ingredients (and fresh or frozen berries). Heat through, stirring to incorporate the new ingredients. Serves 4.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pasta and Black Eyed Peas

I've been trying to work through a lot of beans lately. Not only as an efficient way to up my protein consumption, but also because I still have some left from the Cave. So, y'know. One of my goals has been to use up the legumes we don't really eat a lot of, and one of those is black eyed peas (turtle beans). We actually do like to eat those, but mostly fresh or frozen instead of dried and cooked. This seemed like a fun way to use some up, and also to use up a bunch of stuff in the fridge that I didn't want to go to waste. I expected this dish to be fun and good, but it was quite a bit more delicious than I'd anticipated. This will definitely be making it into our normal rotation. Hope you enjoy!

1 can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed (unless you cooked them from dry, but still drain them)
1/2 pound fusili, cooked to package directions
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup diced salt pork
salt to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups baby spinach
1/4 onion, chopped
1/2-1 carrot, shredded
1/2 14-ounce can artichoke hearts (not marinated, but drain the water)

Heat the oil and chile flakes over low heat for 15 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and add the salt pork, frying well. When the pork is done, add all the other ingredients and cook long enough to heat through. Serves 2.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Farmer's Cheese

This is basically like cottage cheese (except strained), and not like ricotta. I like to use it for pizzas, for lasagna, and also for eating (if I remember to salt it. If I don't, I like to cook with it). Hope you enjoy!

1 quart of milk (you can use more and not change the amount of lemon juice, up to around a gallon of milk)
1/4 cup lemon juice (or less for a batch this small - up to you)

Heat milk to 185F. Remove from heat and stir in about 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Let sit for a few minutes to separate well into curds (it will look like curdled milk, because that's basically what it is). Line a strainer with cheesecloth then put the strainer over a bowl. Pour the curds and whey into the strainer, then tie the ends of the cheesecloth tightly around the curds. Tie the cheese to the knob of a kitchen cabinet or something similar, with the bowl (you can wash and put away the strainer now) under the cheese to catch the drippings. Come back in the morning and untie the cheese. You can salt it now and put it in a container if you like, or you can just eat it, or you can not salt it, or some other combination of the available options. 

Use the drippings (whey) first to make more cheese (ricotta), and then use it again (after you strain the ricotta) to make bread instead of using water or beer or whatever as your liquid. The whey will give your bread a sourdough flavor even though it isn't a sourdough. Makes about 1 cup of cheese.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Spinach and Artichoke Pizza

The pizza? Spectacular. Here's how we made it; hope you enjoy!

dough for 1 crust 
sauce for one pizza
4 ounces (1 cup) mozzarella
1 cup fresh farmer's cheese (you could use strained ricotta or cottage instead)
large handful pepperoni
1/2 15-ounce can artichoke hearts (not marinated, but yes drain them well)
1/4 cup each: shredded carrots, chopped onions, chopped celery
1 cup-ish spinach

Preheat oven (preferably with stone in it) to 500F. Spread out the dough into a square or whatever (I like rectangles). Top with sauce (about a half cup or so should do it), then top with pepperoni. Add cheeses, then veggies and bake for 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Cut, eat, move on with your day. Serves 2 (okay, this should serve 4. But today it served two).

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Walnut-Apricot Granola

We've been using a lot of cereal lately, mostly in cereal bars and for snacks. But for breakfasts, I prefer if we're going to eat cereal (instead of the baked potatoes I've been obsessed with the last few days) for it to be something that's not full of preservatives and such. Otherwise it doesn't actually seem like breakfast so much as dessert. Here's the granola I made as an alternative. Hope you enjoy!

4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup each: wheat germ, bran
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup each: vegetable oil, honey
1 cup chopped dried apricots

Heat oven to 250F. Mix together the oats, germ, bran, walnuts and salt. Whisk together the honey and vegetable oil, then pour it into the oat mixture and stir until well incorporated. Put on a sheet pan and put in the oven. Give it an hour and a half in the oven, but stir it every 15 or so minutes so it doesn't burn. Once you take it out of the oven, let it cool a bit then add the apricots. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Makes about 6 or 7 cups.