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Butter Krak

16 Mar

Driving through Pennsylvania the other day, going from Baltimore back to Massachusetts, I came across this alluring item at a Rutter’s station on the outskirts of York.

The Zitner’s Butter Krak. Of course I had to buy it.

Little did I know it is a Philadelphia-area delicacy, and only available for a few months each spring.

The Zitner company has been making cream-filled chocolate Easter eggs since for decades. The coconutty Butter Krak flavor was invented by Annie Zitner in the 1930s.

It took me a few days to test the Krak.

The outside is unassuming.

The inside is incredibly sweet, with a creamy coconut flavor mixed with short coconut shreds. The dark chocolate coating also contains bits of toasted coconut.

It’s tasty, but very, very sweet. I think I can wait until next spring for my next one!

Naan and Chana Punjabi

12 Feb

This Chana Punjabi from The Wednesday Chef has become a favorite of mine, especially in these bitterly cold days of late winter. It’s hearty, spicy, and so satisfying.

I usually serve it with brown rice, but recently decided to attempt naan.  I love bread in all forms, but particularly love soft and chewy naan. I used to be able to get takeout naan to eat with my homemade Indian food, but now I live in the country about 15 miles from the nearest Indian restaurant. Now that I have this recipe I’ll never be without naan!

I adapted my recipe from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. This is an amazing book–a must for anyone who loves Indian food! I looked at naan recipes online and they were all extremely complicated, with yeast, eggs, multi-hour rises, etc. This recipe is very simple, and very delicious. I don’t have a pizza stone or a griddle and had to improvise a bit. They turned out perfectly, especially since I burned them a bit under the broiler! That added a little authentic tandoori-style char!

Naan

3 cups all purpose flour (mine was a mixture of white and wheat flour), plus extra for dusting
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt (once I only had vanilla and it tasted fine!)
1 cup warm water
Canola oil
Melted butter or ghee

1. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

2. Combine the warm water and yogurt in a measuring cup. Pour over the flour mixture, and mix. It will seem too dry but will soon come together into a soft, sticky ball.

3. Using your hands, gather the dough and knead it into a smooth, soft ball. You may need to dust your hands with flour, but don’t add too much.

4. Cut the dough into four equal portions. (I use my digital kitchen scale to make sure they are perfectly equal!) Lightly grease a plate with oil. Shape one portion of the dough into a bun-shaped round and put it on the plate. Repeat with the remaining dough.

5. Brush the tops of the dough with melted butter, cover with a plastic wrap, and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

6. Pre-heat broiler in your oven. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a heavy cookie sheet. I use commercial steel half sheet pans.  Put the pan under the broiler and heat for about 10 minutes. When the pan is nice and hot take it out of the oven and put the dough pieces on it, letting them stretch into long ovoid shapes. Put the dough back under the broiler for about 5-10 more minutes.  Keep an eye on them, because the dough will puff up!

7. You can top them with more melted butter if you want, but I don’t.

8. Devour.

Chicken Mughlai

10 Jun

My favorite restaurant in Baltimore–actually my favorite restaurant ever–isCafe Spice in Towson, north of B’more. It is an Indian restaurant, and the best food I have eaten in my life! My friends Jacob and Stephanie took us there last summer, and we have gone a few times since then. They have a dish called Mughlai, which the owner recommended because Stephanie really likes tikka masala. It is sooooo tasty, and I wanted to try re-creating it at home. I found this recipe online, which is very good but not the same as Cafe Spice. I modified the recipe by adding brown sugar, and fresh chopped cilantro right at the end but it isn’t as good. I found an amazing recipe book called 660 Curries, which has at least two recipes that look similar to Cafe Spice’s mughlai, so I’m going to give those a try too.

I have been reading a fascinating book called Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerers by Lizzie Collingham. It is an account of the history of Indian food, and shows how each common Indian dish is a result of invasions by, or trade with, other groups of people. The Vindaloo chapter is about the Portugese influence in India, and the Biryani chapter is about the Mughals. They are the ones for whom the mughlai sauce is named, so I was very interested to read this chapter. The Mughals came from Persia, and ruled India from around 1550 until they lost power in the mid-19th century. Because they were the royalty of India, their food is very rich and contains a lot of spices. Collingham’s book is history interspersed with recipes.

I think this is going to be the summer of Indian food!

Chana Punjabi

8 Jun

I cooked a bunch of dried chickpeas a while ago, and they have been sitting in my freezer waiting to be used since then. I came across this recipe on The Wednesday Chef and knew I had to make it. It is definitely one of the tastiest dishes I have ever made, and very easy though it has to cook for about an hour. This made enough that we had it for dinner and lunch the next day.

It is nice and spicy, and the lemon juice gives it a freshness that is so addictive. You can use two cans of chickpeas, but I recommend cooking your own from dried. They taste so much better, and their texture is better too. They are firm, and a little bit nutty.

Chana Punjabi

1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or as needed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups of cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
rice or naan for serving.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low. Add onion and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and chili, and cook until soft but not browned. Add tomatoes and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook until tomatoes are very soft, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

2. Puree with an immersion blender, or in a blender or food processor until smooth. Put back on heat. Add paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, coriander, the garam masala and lemon juice. Add chickpeas and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.

3. Cover and simmer until sauce is thick and chickpeas are soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Stir in cilantro, adjust salt as needed and serve with cooked rice, if desired.

Strawberry banana frozen yogurt

8 Jun

It was very warm here last week, and I wanted some tasty frozen yogurt to cool off. I had some strawberries, and a very ripe banana so decided to make strawberry banana frozen yogurt. It was loosely inspired by this Strawberry Daiquiri frozen yogurt from Thursday Night Smackdown, but without alcohol.

I only had whole milk yogurt in the house, which I don’t think I would use again! It was a bit too creamy.

Strawberry Banana Frozen Yogurt

1 lb ripe strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup plain yogurt
Juice and zest of 1 limes
1 ripe banana

Hull and quarter the strawberries and place in a bowl. Add sugar, mix, and let macerate for about an hour. This will draw the water out of the berries and make them nice and juicy. Stir occasionally.

Put the berries, yogurt, lime juice and zest and banana into a blender. Puree until nice and smooth. Pour the berries, yogurt, lime juice and rum into a blender. Blend until smooth. Chill in the fridge for about an hour, or stick in the freezer until you just can’t wait anymore.

Freeze in ice cream maker, according to manufacturer’s instructions. You can eat it right away if you don’t mind it being slushy, or move to a freezer-safe container and freeze for about 30 minutes. It will be really hard so you’ll have to let it sit for a few minutes before it will be scoop-able.

This reminded me of the smoothies my aunts used to make when I was little. It’s super tasty and refreshing!

Burgers with feta mint sauce

22 May

I didn’t take a picture of these burgers, but they were so tasty I want to remember the recipe!

I took this recipe for lamb burgers and modified it a bit.

Burgers
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3 green onions
Greek seasoning
salt and pepper

Feta sauce
4 ounces crumbled feta
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
Leaves from 3 stalks fresh mint, chopped

I think I would double the feta sauce recipe, because we ended up using almost all of it on two burgers. This was super fast and easy, and very delicious.

Earl Grey Tea Latte

19 May

This has been a drab, gray and drizzly day. It started raining yesterday afternoon and hasn’t let up since. It was the perfect day for staying in and knitting. I have to cook up a blog post on the knitting projects I have been doing, but until then here is one about the delicious drink I whipped up this afternoon. I wanted a bit of a treat, and decided to try to re-create the tea latte I have had a couple of times from Starbucks.

Earl Grey Tea Latte
Serves 2

1 cup boiling water
2 Earl Grey tea bags
1-2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Boil the water, and pour over the two teabags. I did this in a 4-cup pyrex measuring cup. Let steep for at least 5 minutes, or while you are heating up the milk.

Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat until it foams up. Remove from heat. Add vanilla to milk.

Remove teabags from water, pressing to get all the tasty tea goodness out. Add the sugar. I used 2 tablespoons, which was yummy but super sweet.

Add milk to the tea and stir, then divide into two cups. Enjoy with your sweetheart.

English Muffins

17 May

I like having a toasted English muffin with some peanut butter and a glass of milk for breakfast. When shopping the other day I checked the ingredients list before tossing that familiar cardboard and plastic sleeve in my cart. I was appalled by the list of chemicals and artificial ingredients in those simple little muffins. I had been thinking about baking my own for a while, but that settled it. This recipe was pretty time consuming, but the muffins are so tasty that it’s definitely worth it.

I found a recipe on the Life in Recipes blog and modified it slightly. I bought some graham flour a few weeks ago, and was looking for something to use it in so I used that too. I didn’t notice a different flavor, so next time think I’ll use a full cup and see that that does.

Whole Wheat English Muffins
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white whole wheat flour

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cups graham flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal – or enough to scatter on pan

First you make the sponge. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup water. It’s easy to do this in a glass measuring cup. In a large bowl, combine the 1 cup of warm water, the honey, the milk and the salt. Add yeast mixture and 2 cups of flour. Stir to combine, cover and leave in a warm place for at least an hour. It will puff up and become very bubble. This is what mine looked like after an hour.

Add the oil and mix in the rest of the flour, bit by bit. I had to switch to my hands towards the end. Eventually I had a smooth but slightly sticky dough.

Dust a cookie sheet with cornmeal. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 an inch, then cut with a round cutter. I’m not sure how big mine was. I have a set and I picked the one that looked English muffin-sized! Place the rounds onto the cookie sheet and allow to rise again until puffy and almost doubled in volume. Mine took a while to rise, and I ended up turning the oven on for a few minutes and setting them in there. I think my kitchen was too cold! Here they are nice and puffy. I ended up with 20 muffins, but some of them were too thin, I think.

Next you cook them on a griddle or in a skillet. I used a non-stick skillet. I had a hard time transferring the muffins from the cookie sheet to pan, and they ended up deflating quite a bit. I think this is why they didn’t really have the nooks and crannies that an English muffin is supposed to have. They do puff back up while they are cooking, which is fun to watch! Let them brown on the first side before flipping them over. This takes a few minutes.

After the muffins have been “griddled” they will need to finish cooking in an oven. As you take them off the stove, put them on a different cookie sheet and then bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Here they are ready for the oven.

My friend Monet, who just made some English muffins of her own, which she describes on her blog Anecdotes and Applecores, says they should cool for 30-60 minutes. I couldn’t wait and ate them straight out of the oven!

I made these a few days ago and we have been enjoying them at least twice a day since then. We’ve had them toasted with butter and local honey, had them with some chicken barley soup last night, and today James used them to make delicious egg, bacon and cheese breakfast sandwiches. They are hearty and wonderful. I’ll never buy packaged ones again!

Whole Wheat Quinoa Bread

4 Apr

This was a bit of an experiment. I was craving bread so decided to make some this afternoon. While pulling the yeast out of my pantry I noticed the red quinoa I bought at the co-op the other day, so I decided to add some of that in to the dough. It’s pretty tasty, and I hope will have some of the nutritional benefits of quinoa. I adapted this recipe. I used wildflower honey from Warm Colors Apiary which is just a few miles from my apartment. It is raw, so it’s a bit cloudy, and has the most delicious, spicy flavor.

The quinoa is definitely noticeable in texture, but not so much in flavor. I was worried I over-kneaded the dough but it turned out beautifully. This was my first time using white whole wheat flour and I think it makes a nice loaf. It’s not too dense but still sturdy and flavorful.

I made this with my stand mixer, so that’s how I wrote the directions. My mixer has the lock-in bowl. I would not try this with a smaller mixer because the dough is extremely thick and heavy.

Whole Wheat Quinoa Bread – makes 2 loaves

  • 1/4 cup quinoa, plus enough warm water to measure 1/2 cup (You could probably do 1/2 cup and use less water)
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
  • 1 heaping TBS dry yeast (This might be a bit much. My dough rose super fast.)
  • 3 TBS honey
  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur brand, from Wal Mart of all places!)
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • another 2 TBS honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt (I forgot to put this in)
  • 2 1/2-3 cups stoneground whole wheat flour
  • Oil for greasing the pans

Directions

  1. In a glass mixing cup, measure 1/4 (or 1/2) cup quinoa, plus enough warm water to make 1/2 cup. Let sit.
  2. In the bowl of the mixer, combine warm water, yeast, and 3 TBS honey, let sit until yeast is foamy. Add 3 cups white whole wheat flour, and mix with dough hook until just combined.
  3. Mix in 3 TBS olive oil, the next 2 TBS honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Add quinoa and water mixture. Keep adding flour with the mixer running until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky. This took about 10 minutes for me, plus at least another cup of flour.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled. This took less than an hour for me today, but sometimes it takes much longer.
  4. Punch down slightly, and divide into 2 loaves. I use my kitchen scale to make sure they are divided equally. Each of my loaves weighed 1 lb, 15 ounces. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes or so. You can tell the loaves are done when an instant read thermometer stuck in the middle registers about 190 degrees, or when the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it with your knuckle. Cool completely.
  6. NOM. Especially good with butter and more local honey, and a glass of local Mapleline milk.

Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

17 Mar

I have been getting beautiful, huge sweet potatoes from Swartz Farm in Amherst lately, and last week I added swiss chard to my produce order. I was figuring out what to do with them, and decided to make a gratin and found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. With Mapleline Farm milk, this was an almost entirely local meal! This recipe was a great way to get some veggies. We ate it with bread the first night, with slices of baked ham the second night, and I just made a frittata with the last bit of it for breakfast this morning. The sweet potatoes are so sweet, and they are nicely balanced by the bitterness of the chard. I halved the recipe.

I usually just roast the sweet potatoes. I can cook up a bunch of them and then eat them throughout the week. I don’t have a microwave, and slices of them heat up beautifully on the stove. They get brown and sticky and caramelized, and so delicious!

Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin – Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/4 stick butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 pounds Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and both cut into 1-inch pieces
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cups whole milk
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds – I used one very large sweet potato
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated cheese – I used a mixture of white sharp cheddar and Romano cheeses

Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a wide pan, over medium-low heat until softened but not brown.

Add chard stems, nutmeg, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, Increase heat and add chard leaves, stirring, until all greens are wilted. (Deb at Smitten Kitchen says to drain the greens in a colander at this point, but I didn’t do that and it turned out fine.

Make sauce: Combine milk and garlic in small saucepan; bring to simmer; keep warm. Melt one tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour to make a roux. Cook stirring one minute, then slowly whisk in warm milk and boil, whisking, one minute. Season sauce with salt and pepper. I cooked mine too long and it turned out really thick! I couldn’t pour it and just sort of plopped it on the layers. The gratin was still tasty, just not as creamy as Deb’s gratin.

Assembly: Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter deep 9×13 baking dish. Spread half of sweet potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a 1/2 of the cheese. Distribute half of the greens mixture over the cheese. Pour half of sauce over the first two layers then continue with the remaining sweet potatoes, more salt, pepper, herbs and cheese and then the remaining greens, salt, and pepper. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the gratin, pressing the vegetables slightly to ensure that they are as submerged as possible. Mine weren’t submerged at all!

Cover with foil and bake gratin for about 1 hour. The last 15 minutes I sprinkled some more cheese on the top.

Ready to go in the oven

You can see it’s not as creamy and wet as a gratin usually is.

Ready to eat!

It still baked up creamy and delicious.

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