Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Food Ruts | Cooking Asparagus

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I get in food ruts often. I’ll find a technique or dish I love and wear it out in a way. Lately I’ve been in a real veggie rut. Sick of some of the veggie dishes I’d made over and over and not sure where to go from there.

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All images by Katie Dudley Photography

A few weeks ago, Tom (@foodbytom – he’s the real deal) invited Alix, Katie and I to enjoy an evening of fine food and learning. We learned details about vegetables, steak and mousse I hadn’t paid attention to before. With good food, it’s all about the details.

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I’m not going to spill all the beans on what I learned in our cooking session, but one of the takeaways from the class was how to cook asparagus to perfection. Just about any cooking method will work (we blanched then cooked in a skillet), but the key to making them amazing is peeling the stalk just below the tip. It removes all stringy-ness. Brilliant, right? We all have Tom to thank for that one.

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We also talked about plating food. I realize I’m terrible at it. I over-think the plating so my food looks very one-dimensional. Plating is a real art form. Alix aced it with her meat tower.

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I want to have a rad garden so I can use cool things like mini radishes and kale blooms for perfectly styling my meals (maybe that’ll help the kids eat their veggies?).

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We learned so much and ate well. There weren’t difficult instructions or outlandish ingredients, so I could duplicate what I learned at home. And I have! The moment I walked through the door that night, I went to work making mousse. Now I’m Penelope’s favorite person.

You can book Tom for private cooking sessions (he’ll come to you) and pop-up dinners! Both are tremendously fun. Chris and I did a double date with our friends Miriam and Allen. We learned the art of gnocchi and pizza.

Foodie: Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles

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Before I go into specifics, I just have to say, I hate the color of my walls. They’ve been slowly driving me more and more bonkers the longer I’ve lived here. In photographs the walls take on this awful magenta tan. #firstworldproblems amiright?

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Last Saturday (our weekly cheat day) I was in the mood for some good junk food, but we hadn’t bought anything the night before. So I went to the pantry and decided to make something. We were limited as we didn’t have chocolate chips, but that didn’t stop me!

After recently acquiring a cream whipper, we’ve amassed some awesome Torani flavorings so I thought I would experiment with my favorite of the bunch: Salted Caramel.

After sifting through my mom’s cookbook, I found a snickerdoodle recipe and a lightbulb went on. We just bought Swedish pearl sugar for our liege waffles, why not roll the cookies in that?

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At first glance, the white granules look like oversized salt, the kind that you coat your pretzels in. But it’s the exact opposite. When biting into one of these cookies you get a blend of opposites, the crunchy exterior and a soft, pillowy interior and a splash of sweet with a hint of savory.

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I cooked up a dozen cookies Saturday night, thinking that would be enough for our little binge treat, but they disappeared so fast! I had to make up a second batch this morning because Chris ate all the cookies and Penelope didn’t get a chance to eat any. Poor girl, missing out on the deliciousness.

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Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles

from MelissaEsplin.com | makes 18-24 cookies
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup Torani Salted Caramel
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Whip butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and Torani syrup. Sift together dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture slowly. Chill dough for 10-20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Roll out 18 1/4 cup balls. Roll each ball in pearlized sugar or raw Turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Bake on a lined cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.

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Recipe: Mango Sticky Rice

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This stuff is so good. And takes little time and effort to make. I’m all about easy recipes these days since often I’m cooking one-handed (holding a baby has improved my juggling skills tremendously).

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Not long ago, Chris bought us a rice cooker. It’s one of those unitaskers that I wasn’t particularly jazzed about. Rice? Come on, it’s hardly the show-stopper for any meal. Ice cream and popcorn makers are far more glamorous. But it dawned on me that I could use this to quickly cook rice to use in soups, stir fry, and to make pudding. Ooo, I love my puddings!

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Mango sticky rice, even for non-mango lovers, is a real treat. The subtle coconut flavor melds with the rich sweetness of the mango. Top it with smooth unsweetened cream, mint and a little lemon juice and you have yourself an opera of flavors. You know, because it sings all vibrato, fancy-like in your mouth and has a taste range of several octaves. Yum!

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I didn’t have any fresh mango on-hand, so I used frozen chunks and diced them smaller for the presentation. As tedious as it is to chop cubes into smaller cubes, the texture was much better with the smaller chunks.

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Rice Cooker Mango Sticky Rice

Makes about 6 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups Calrose Rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar (regular sugar is great, but this adds a more complex flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk or half and half
  • unsweetened whipped cream
  • lemon juice (a fresh lemon would be ideal)
  • mint
  • diced mango

 

Rinse the rice and put in the rice cooker with the water.

In a saucepan, heat coconut milk, sugar and salt until incorporated.

When the rice is about 10 minutes away from being done, open the cooker and add the coconut milk mixture. Close to cook. The rice will absorb all of the liquid. Just before it’s done, add about a 1/2 cup of milk or half and half. Stir to incorporate.

Serve warm with diced mangos, unsweetened whipped cream, mint chiffonade and lemon juice (lemon zest optional).

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

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Enjoy!

Food: Chocolate Brigadeiro Cake

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As a belated birthday celebration for Chris, I made him a chocolate cake. But not just any chocolate cake. It’s filled with brigadeiro and raspberry preserves. It’s heaven on a dish. In fact, I barely managed to get a picture of the cake. I was planning on taking pictures of a slice of cake so you can see the interior, but Chris kind of massacred it this morning.

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We thoroughly enjoyed the cake.

I was pretty proud of my rustic frosting job. It’s not perfect, but darnitall it looked quite tasty! Recipe below:

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Fudge Chocolate and Brigadeiro Cake

Makes 1 chocolate cake | Prep time: 30 minutes to an hour | Cook time: 27 minutes

 

Cake

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (dutch process is ideal)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease 2 8-inch cake pans and cut out 8 inch parchment circles and place inside the cake pans. Combine all ingredients. Pour into cake pans and bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool. Remove from the pans, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer to cool completely.

Brigadeiro

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Heat the saucepan with medium-high heat. Melt butter, add cocoa powder and whisk until incorporated. Add milk and stir for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cocoa powder (dutch process is ideal)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar

Whip butter until soft and smooth. Add cocoa powder, vanilla and milk. Blend until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar until desired consistency.

To assemble the cake: Slice cake in half with a bread knife. Separate two layers and spoon half the brigadeiro and spread evenly. Place one 8 inch cake on a cake plate. Spoon raspberry preserves on top of the first layer (I prefer Bonne Maman or homemade jam). Slice the second layer in half. Place bottom half of second cake on top of the first. Spread brigadeiro and place second half of the second cake on top. Place in the refridgerater to rest (10-15 minutes max). Spread an initial thin layer of icing onto the cake. Crumbs may fall into this layer. Place in the fridge a second time, then create a final frosting layer. Garnish with sprinkles.

Foodie: Liege Waffles and Peach Preserves

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Sometime in 2009 I was introduced to the Liege Waffle. Transformative is the only way I could describe this experience. I’ve always enjoyed waffles, but this was unlike anything I had ever had in my life. Caramelized, dense, crunchy, soft and the perfect amount of sweet. Knowing it was a dough-based waffle that required yeast (not my best friend), I brushed it off as one of those foods that I’ll never be able to make.

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Until . . .

Feed Zone Portables. It’s a recipe book that Chris bought while researching portable recipes that he can make for pre and post-workout snacks.

I haven’t talked about it much here, but since January Chris has lost 30 pounds and become quite serious about his exercise and diet. We had no idea he would lose that much (and keep it off). It’s been annoying to me that he’s been shedding the pounds while I’ve gained them. He’s supposed to gain sympathy weight with me, right?!? Back to the book – the book is full of on-the-go recipes for athletes, the salt/water content of each recipe (particularly the rice cakes) is made to keep your guts happy before, during and after a workout. It’s a really interesting book with easy recipes to grab from the fridge/freezer and go. Perfect for school lunches.

While thumbing through the book, Chris and I came across a liege waffle recipe. I’ve made it half a dozen times already with 100% success every time. Yes. I made a dough that works!I’m beyond stoked about it. So now I’m going to share it with you.

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Liege Waffles

From Feed Zone Portables | Makes 12 waffles
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pearled sugar or raw sugar

Combine milk, yeast, sugar and 1 cup flour with an electric mixer until smooth. Let dough rest for 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, syrup, butter and vanilla. Add egg mixture to the dough along with the remaining dry ingredients (no pearled sugar just yet). Dough should be tacky. Add a little extra flour if it’s too sticky. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Punch down the dough, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Divide the dough into 12 portions, roll in sugar and cook in a waffle iron until dark golden brown.

Notes: You can easily double this recipe and freeze half for later. After you roll the dough in sugar, wrap each ball in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container. For a little extra punch, put some chunks of chocolate inside the balls of dough and cook. Serve à la mode with bananas and peach preserves for a tasty Sundae.

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Tart Peach Preserves

From a recipe that my mom gave me | Makes 1 quart
  • 4 medium-large peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pectin

Peel the peaches (I use a blanching technique like this one). Slice into about 8-12 slices. Place in a bowl. Pour lemon juice overtop. In a separate bowl, mix sugar and pectin together, then fold in gently to the peaches. Serve or freeze. Preserves last about a week or two in the fridge. This makes for the perfect topping on waffles, ice cream, cheesecake and more. Add some peppers and put in a fish taco!

Our neighbor’s mom gave us 3 large boxes full of peaches last week. So you may be seeing more peach recipes here soon! I can’t seem to get enough. I’ve already canned a gallon of peach jam, nearly 3 gallons of frozen sliced peaches and a couple of quarts of the above sliced peaches. Penelope is already tired of them, but Felix and I aren’t!

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