Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category
My wife has an open invitation to make requests for things for me to make. It might be a general request (“you should make more pasta”), or a specific request (“make cookies like these”). Recently, she made two requests, the first of which was a hybrid. She tried some multi-grain bread from a small bakery at a farmer’s market, and asked for me to try to find a recipe. I dug around, found one and played with it.
The recipe calls for a multi-grain cereal. Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Cereal was recommended, but I couldn’t find it. I found a seven-grain cereal in bulk at a new market in town, which is just as well. When trying a new recipe with special ingredients, I don’t like to invest in too much. In both cases, it looked like “pinhead” oatmeal. You definitely feel it when eating a piece.
It was a pain to make. The dough is very sticky from the get-go, and, after the first rise, an additional half-cup of honey only made it stickier. I never feel like I got it off my fingers until well after I made it. My dough blade was used repeatedly to move it on the counter as I did some of the kneading by hand. I swore I would never make this bread again!
Then we had some.
It is an incredible bread. We definitely liked it, though I was still not sure it was worth the hassle.
Then I had some with peanut butter. I would find myself craving it mid-morning, as I entered that time that was too late for breakfast, but too early for lunch. It became a go-to snack when driving to a cyclocross race.
My wife and I have started calling it “crack bread,” to suggest our addiction. Describing food as “crack” is a phrasing that has been criticized, but it is part of the contemporary vernacular. Embracing the slang, it’s weird how much stuff is like crack. It really has become an addition, making it worth the effort to make.
My wife bought some of the bread that inspired my making this, and called out that it was different. She then did a side-by-side comparison with a bit we had left. Even though my loaf was nearly two weeks old, she declared it the winner.
- ½ cup multi-grain cereal (seven grains or more)
- ½ cup cool water
- ½ cup warm water water
- ½teaspoon yeast
- 1 cup wheat flour
- 1½ cup white flour (plus a little extra)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 medium eggs
- ¼ cup olive or vegetable oil
- ½ cup honey (170g, as I find it easier to use a kitchen scale for this)
- In a small bowl, let the cereal soak in about ½ cup cool water for 30 minutes. In another bowl, dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water and let it sit until it starts to foam (about 10-15 minutes.)
- In a large mixing bowl, put flour, sugar, and salt and mix well. Make a small well in the center of this mixture, and dd the yeast, eggs, oil, and cereal to the well, and stir together. At this point, flour your hands and start to knead the dough inside of the bowl (or use the hook of your stand mixer). The mixture will be very sticky, so add a extra flour as needed, until it is no longer sticky. Continue kneading for 10-20 minutes.
- Put a tablespoon of oil in a bowl and rub it around the entire bowl. Place the dough ball into the bowl, and flip a few times to coat in oil. Cover and let rise about 45 minutes in a warm place, or until doubled in size. I like to use the work bowl of the mixer.
- Once dough has doubled, punch the dough down until most of the air bubbles are out. Pour honey on top. The dough will be extremely sticky. Knead it for about five minutes, until the honey has been incorporated. Shape into round ball again. Cover and let rise until doubled for about 45 minutes.
- Once dough has doubled in size, divide in to two loaves. Form the dough into desired shape. Cover and let rise another 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 while dough is rising. Cook for about 25-35 minutes, or until the crust starts to brown.
| Saturated Fat
| Monounsaturated Fat
| Polyunsaturated Fat
| Dietary Fiber
|The Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
I’m not quite sure why, but I’ve been on a brussels sprouts kick lately. Maybe I’ve just been able to get my hands on them a bit more readily lately. I have noticed they seem to be appearing on more menus when I go out lately. Somehow, I seem to be converting my wife and daughter to tentatively start to enjoy them, too.
For vegetables, I prefer using dry cooking methods to wet ones. Steaming is about as wet as I go–it adds as little moisture as possible. Instead, I go for stir fry, grilling, or, in this case roasting. I start with a rub, give it a bit to coat and soak in the sprouts, then cook.
- 2 Cups Whole Brussels Sprouts
- 2-3 Cloves Garlic
- 1.5 Tablespoons Whole Mustard Seed
- 6-8 Whole Peppercorns
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
First, I like to make the rub. In my mortar and pestle, I combine the garlic, mustard, peppercorns, salt, and 1 teaspoon olive oil, and mash it until it becomes a nice paste, with few of the mustard seeds remaining whole.
Mortar and pestle?
Yep–I think it’s a great way to combine spices and, in some cases, herbs. I got mine at the Ohio Renaissance Festival, from someone who deals in herbs, spices, and teas. It was a hand-made ceramic one, yet fairly inexpensive. The texture on the side, along with the material I put in, helps to grind the rub.
OK, what if you don’t have one? I’ve kludged it by using a plastic or metal bowl and a flat-bottom cup. It will take a bit longer, but it will get you there. If you go that route, I would just grind the mustard and salt with some of the olive oil, mince the garlic with a knife, and grind the pepper in a pepper grinder. I suppose dry mustard powder could be used, though I am not sure how much you want.
Once this is ground to a paste, add the rest of the olive oil. and stir. Cut the very end off each sprout, then cut in half. Place in a mixing bowl. Once all the brussels sprouts are cut, pour the paste/oil over them, and toss to coat. Let rest for 30 minutes or so. Preheat your oven to 425°.
Arrange the sprouts on a flat or shallow pan, such as a cookie sheet, cut side up. We have a small pan that came with our toaster oven which works quite well. I like to line with foil, to simplify clean-up. If any of the rub is left in the bowl, it can be sprinkled on top.
Place in the oven on the top rack for about 20 minutes, until the center of the bulb (where the leaves join) becomes tender. Turn on the broiler, and cook until it gets a bit of color. I check it every minute. Set a timer–the line between “color” and “charcoal” is fine.
One alternative way of preparing them is, after the rest, skewer them and cook on a grill.
We always like to make some goodies to give to teachers, coworkers, dance groups, and other friends. It used to be just pralines, but, as the list of recipients grew, we decided to add some variety to the mix. I spent the weekend making a lot of treats. The divvying up has begun!
Food fried in oil is traditional for Hannukah. In my family, we mark the holiday by making beignets. While not a traditional jelly donut, it works in my family, by bringing some Louisiana culture to the occasion.
What is traditional is a latke, a potato pancake. I read several recipes, and figured out how to make my own. I’m really pleased with the outcome, and have even made them at my mother-in-law’s.
A few years ago, my wife came home from a Hannukah event, and told me about how she had some sweet potato latkes, and really liked them. I decided to take a crack at them, and got good results. It may not be as traditional, but it is a fun treat. Even the ones that didn’t come out quite right seem to get picked at.
The basis of a latke is grated potato (or sweet potato). I use the second smallest holes on my greater (the smallest are almost a microplane grater), resulting in shreds about a milimeter or two wide. I’ve been known to use the food processor, but the shreds are double or more in size, and don’t create the tight pancakes one would expect. I like to let them sit in a bowl after salting them a bit, then drain them of any fluid that has been drawn out.
Ingredients for Standard Latkes
- 900g shredded potatos
- 150g finely diced onions
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 100g all purpose flour
Ingredients for Sweet Potato Latkes
- 450g shredded sweet potatos
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 75g brown sugar
- 70g all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Making the Latkes
- Mix the ingredients, save for the eggs, in a bowl.
- Heat 2-3 inches of canola oil in a broad skillet to 350 degrees.
- Beat the eggs, and mix into the other ingredients. Wait until just beore ready to make the latkes.
- Take a healthy handful of the potato mixture, and form into a patty about 2-3 cm thick I like to make them about the size of the palm of my hand.
- Fry each side for 2-3 minutes, until bubbling in oil dies down and the latke is golden brown and delicious. I like to cut open one of the first ones in half to ensure it’s cooked through to gauge how long it should take, and what “done” looks like.
- Set on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Salt to taste.
As always, be careful when frying to not splash on youself, or allow the oil to smoke.
I’ve been wanting to write up my gumbo recipe for a while now. In part, to document it, but also to share it. I’ve never been big on “secret family recipes.” My recipe is one of my own devising, taking influences from a number of sources, including my mom, as well as a few other blogs.
The catch is, I’m not entirely sure I have a recipe. I put more or less the same stuff in my gumbo, and the process is more or less the same, but the recipe is very tolerant–I can add more of one thing one day, and less of it the next.
However, as my wife and I have been tracking what we eat, I was able to get a good feel for a baseline.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 61 ounces chicken broth (I use Swanson’s 99% fat free)1
- 1 pound chicken breast
- 1/2 pound sausage (I use a light turkey sausage)
- 1 bell pepper (approximately a half-pound)2
- 3/4 small onion (four-tenths of a pound)
- 4-5 celery stalks (a third of a pound)
- Filé to taste3
Making the Gumbo
- Pour the broth into a large pot, along with the bay leaves. Bring to boil. Add some filé.
- Make a roux with the flour and olive oil. Basically, you are slowly browning the flour in the oil. I like to use a cast iron skillet over medium heat, whisking it in until it turns a brown about like milk chocolate. A good write-up on making a roux is here. Bottom line: it will take time to get it there. Add this to the broth.
- Cut the chicken into bites. Add to broth. It will be in there for at least an hour, so it will be fully cooked by the time you eat it.
- Dice the bell pepper, celery, and onion, and place in a mixing bowl.
- Slice the sausage, and place in skillet. Brown one side, then flip over and add the vegetables. Cook (stirring as needed) until onions turn translucent. Add to broth.
- Bring everything to a boil, add some water, then reduce heat to medium.
- Cook for sixty to ninety minutes, adding water and filé as needed. You’ll want a slightly thick liquid. Total volume should be around 16-20 cups.
- Serve over rice.4
1This works out to a 32 ounce “box”, plus two 14.5 ounce cans. Varying the amount to be two 32 ounce boxes (64 ounces total), or four 14.5 ounce cans (58 ounces total) would likely work well.
2Bell pepper, onion, and celery are called “trinity” in Cajun cooking. I’ve been known to dial up some of this, particularly the bell pepper, a bit. Green bell pepper is traditional, though I like to use red. It’s both visual interesting, and brings good flavor. Yellow works. Orange does, too, but looks funny (makes me think someone put carrots in my pot!)
3If I had to guess, I’d say I use 1-2 tablespoons of filé (pronounced fee-lay) over the course of the cooking, delivered a quarter-teaspoon at a time. No, I don’t actually measure it.
4This is not rice. DO NOT put my gumbo on that. Make some real rice. It is not that hard, and tastes so much better.
We were at the grocery store the other day, when my wife lingered by the granola. “I wouldn’t have to think about buying some, if we had some at home.”
I can take a hint.
Granola was the first recipe I really played with to get right. I started with Alton Brown’s recipe. However, I kept tweaking it. First, we lost the raisins. Can’t stand them. Not much of a tweak, but it was something. We swapped the nuts to ones more to our taste (this has been the biggest variable–while we use pecans and cashews, we’ve also used almonds and Brazil nuts). We wanted something that clumped a bit better, so I changed the oil/maple syrup ratio, and adjusted the cooking process. Most recently, it was the addition of sunflower seeds.
I still think of it as Alton Brown’s recipe, even if it is significantly divergent. However, that’s part of what I like about it: it is easy to adjust to your tastes and play with. Instead ½ cup coconut and ¼ cup sunflower seeds, do ¾ cup of coconut. Or swap some of it out for pumpkin seeds. Have fun!
The other nice thing about this recipe is that it’s great for kids. While it’s good to measure things correctly, it can easily absorb a bit of variance. Mixing can happen with hands (what I usually do), and the only thing that requires major adult supervision is the oven.
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups nuts (we like a 2:2:1 ratio of pecans, cashews, and peanuts)
½ cup shredded sweet coconut
¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup dried fruit (we liked a mix dried pineapple and papaya)
- Preheat oven to 250˚F.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and sunflower seeds.
- In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and brown sugar. Combine both mixtures and pour onto sheet pan. Cook for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. For the last five minutes, raise oven temperature to 300˚F. Turn off oven, but leave pan in oven to cool for 1 to 1½ hour.
- Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add dried and mix until evenly distributed.
Granola is fun and easy to make. Enjoy on its own, or mixed in yogurt.
I came across arepas at just the right moment. I started becoming interested in non-Mexican Latin American food through a coworker, who introduced me to Bolivian and Peruvian during trips to my data center in Northern Virginia. I’d been testing the waters in the Cincinnati area. Then, a post on a food blog introduced me to how to make arepas, a corn meal staple of Venezuelan cuisine. A trip to Jungle Jim’s got me the raw material, and started making something good. Trips to Venezuelan restaurants in Indianapolis and Columbus confirmed I was on the right track.
It took me a while to find what to fill it with. The same food blog had a recipe for La Reina Pepiada–the Peppered Queen. It’s a quick thing to make–usually, I can make it and a batch of arepas in about half an hour. It has become a favorite of mine and my wife’s. However, I did tweak the recipe a bit, to make it a bit healthier, and a bit more to our tastes. I won’t claim it to be authentic; just yummy.
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon diced onion
½ diced red pepper
¼ cup chopped cilantro
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
Peel and chop the avocado. Mix the chicken, avocado, onion, red pepper, yogurt, and cilantro in a bowl. Mix, then mash with a potato masher or a fork (usually, I wind up mixing it again after mashing, to ensure proper distribution of ingredients).
Serve on an arepa.
For Thanksgiving, I typically make, among other things, a pecan pie. I make my own crust. This is typically with Alton Brown’s recipe. Note that it makes enough dough for two nine-inch pies. For filling, I use a recipe from an old, beat-up cookbook with a half-melted spine.
½ cup sugar
1½ cup pecans
½ stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup corn syrup
- Cream sugar and butter
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each one
- Add other ingredients
- Pour into unbaked pie shell
- Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes
While not nearly as hard to come by in Cincinnati as muffuletta bread, what is available locally pales in comparison to what can be had at a Louisiana grocery store (such as Albertson’s). Once again, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. Straight out of the oven, it produces a wonderful, crispy crust. It is still good after it softens, but not to the same level that has my daughter and I eating half the loaf (or forgetting to take a picture first.
The big downside is that I don’t perceive it to be terribly flexible. French bread is less-than ideal for peanut butter and grilled cheese sandwiches. On top of French onion soup or on the side of gumbo is where it really shines. The recipe, as stated, takes about five hours start to finish. However, as with any bread, rise time is “until double in bulk.” That may shave some time for you.
This recipe makes two loaves, but can be readily halved. Also, while the recipe calls for it to be rolled out flat, then curled into a loaf, you can also just free-form the loaf (the latter is just how I was shown).
- 4½ teaspoons dry yeast
- 2½ cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 6 cups all purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- Place water in bowl and sprinkle with yeast and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes until yeast dissolves and starts to bubble.
- Stir in 2 cups flour and the salt and let rise for a half-hour.
- Gradually stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
- Put dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let ride for two-and-a-half hours
- Punch down dough, divide in two.
- Using a rolling pin, roll into a 12×6” rectangle roll the long side up. Seal seams and edges by pinching. Repeat for both sections.
- Place on greased (or Silpatted) cookie sheet. Let rise until doubled, about one hour.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray loaves with a bit of water, then, with a blade, make a few slashes across the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
- Try not to eat both loaves before your meal.
At my sister-in-law’s wedding, my daughter fell in love with some fried rice that was served. I evaluated several recipes, watched the chefs at Benihana, and created my own. It is a good “refrigerator velcro,” able to take on any random vegetables that you may need to eat before they go bad. It is really less of a recipe than it is a technique. For vegetarians, the meat and egg can be omitted.
2 cups uncooked rice*
Sesame Oil—3-4 tablespoons, total
1¼ pounds meat (chicken, beef, etc.) cut into pieces about the size of dice
3-4 cups (approximately) diced vegetables (Good choices include bell pepper, peas, carrots, bean sprouts, broccoli, and onions)
soy sauce (I like light soy sauce)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
- Prepare rice in the traditional fashion. It can cook while you do other tasks (such as cutting vegetables)
- Place some oil in pan (I use a high sided cast iron skillet) or wok, and brown meat
- Push meat to sides, and add more oil. Scramble egg (fry/break yolk/mix up)
- Push meat and egg to sides. Add a bit more oil, and cook vegetables for 2-3 minutes. If there are onions, they should just turn translucent
- Add the balance of the oil, and add rice and sesame seeds, and stir until rice takes a brownish color. Stir, mix, and add soy sauce to taste.
*This is not rice. Use of it will require serious penance, perhaps going to the rice festival in Cowley, Louisiana.