Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Frozen Treat on a Frozen Day

Brrr!  It's literally freezing here.  I'm talking negative numbers. -22 F when I got up this morning, it was up to -6 when I left to run our morning errands at 10 am.

You'd think it'd be a good time to cook and bake, and you'd be right, but it's also apparently a good time to make gelato.  We've been having this treat at least once a week for a couple of weeks now.  Perhaps it's because we never get our fill.  This recipe makes just a quart, which is barely enough to give everyone in our family of 5 a small bowlful.  Perhaps it's because it's just down right yummy, and easy enough to make often, even if you're 9 years old, like Hot Dog.



Basic Gelato Recipe

3 eggs
1/2 cup cream
2 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
dash of salt
2 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk the 3 eggs in a pot until homogeneous
Add milk and cream, whisk again
Add sugar and salt, whisk again

Heat on medium or medium low heat whisking occasionally until thick and starting to bubble.  Cool in fridge (or outside on a freezing day) for 2 + hours (or a couple of days, if like me you get busy and forget about it)

When cool add vanilla, whisk one last time, and freeze in ice cream maker according to manufactures instructions.


Notes and Modifications

The other thing that's been making this addictive is that I finally learned how best to add chocolate chips - heat the oven on low (~200 F) put a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet and put ~1/2 cup of chocolate chips on the wax paper and set in warm oven until chocolate is soft and gooey.  Pull it out and scrape liquid chocolate into the cold gelato, whisk, then freeze according to instructions.  The chocolate hardens in ribbons that are lovely in the finished product.

You can vary the flavor - use almond extract, mint extract, orange extract etc... instead of vanilla
I want to try chocolate sometime, oooh, or maybe chocolate orange w/ bits of orange zest in it.   Yea, that would be good.  If I could ever not make the basic chocolate chip that we all keep craving.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Super Easy Pizza Dough

Easiest Pizza Dough Ever



1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon bread machine yeast
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (kosher if you have it)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional)


Throw it all in the bread machine on the dough cycle.  You don't have to wait for the whole cycle, when it gets to the "rise" mode you can take it out and shape it.

Pre-heat oven to 500

Roll thin (~1/4")  and top as desired.

Notes and modifications:

One trick we learned is to bake it with just the sauce on it for ~3 min. then put the cheese  and other toppings on and finish it.  That cooks the crust a little bit more.
Also I like to sprinkle some extra pizza spice on the sauce, and minced garlic on top of the cheese.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Not-quite-Roti

On our sabbatical trip to the Caribbean we tried local cuisine whenever we could. In the British Virgin Islands one dish that was on many menus was "Roti".  Our experience with Roti was that it was a curry mix wrapped up in a tortilla.  Today we had a "Caribbean" party and I wanted to serve Roti, so I tried to google a recipe.  It turns out "Roti" is a naan like bread.  In the Caribbean it's filled with a savory curry and served as a ready to eat sandwich,colloquially called Roti, but not really the Indian Roti.

No matter how much I love them, I wasn't up to making individually shaped bread for 30 people.  I settled for making 2 curries and letting folks fill a tortilla with them.  Being me, I didn't follow a recipe, although I looked a few for inspiration.  Here's what I  made.


Beef Coconut Curry

 one beef roast, ~3lbs, whatever is on sale this week
Put in slow cooker with a jar of salsa and cook on low for 6-8 hrs.

You could stop here because that roast beef is pretty good just like this. Pull off bones and fat.  Eat it strait, or shred it and put a little vinegar on it, put it on a bun, and called it a pulled beef sandwich.

If you still want curry, chop or shred the beef and read on.

3 lbs potatoes, cut into chunks (~1.5 in)
 Put in pot, cover with water, salt if desired
Boil to not quite crunchy anymore, but not yet soft.

1 large onion coarsely chopped
4-8 cloves minced garlic
Fry onion and garlic in olive oil or butter
Add curry spice - ~3-5 teaspoons - it should taste good, but stronger than you want the curry to be
 I used Sunny Caribbee's Madras Curry, but just use what you have/like.

Put chopped beef, drained par boiled potatoes, and onion/garlic/curry mixture in crock pot.  Pour one can of coconut milk over the top. Stir it together and taste test.  If you want more spice add it, add salt and peppter to taste.  If you accidentally made your curry to spicy, add extra coconut milk.

Cook on low for a couple of hours.  Serve wrapped in tortillas, or in real Roti if you had the time to make some.



Vegetable Curry


 3 lbs chunked par boiled potatoes

2 cans of cooked beans, or equivalent amount of cooked dry beans, drained

1 large onion coarsely chopped
4-8 cloves minced garlic
Fry onion and garlic in olive oil or butter
Add curry spice - ~3-5 teaspoons - it should taste good, but stronger than you want the curry to be
 I used Sunny Caribbee's Madras Curry, but just use what you have/like

1 large can (2.5 lbs) yams, drained and chopped

1 jar salsa

Combine all ingredients into crock pot heat on low for 2-4 hours, serve wrapped in tortilla.



Notes and modifications



This looks ugly.  I know.  It tastes great though.  Wrap it up and you won't have to look at it.

I made up the pots of curry the night before, put them in the fridge overnight, and then just turned on the crock pots in the morning.

I used beans to add protein to the vegetable curry.  Lentils would have been more authentic, but I was out.

Both crock pots need water after a while, as they started to get a bit dry.  That was after cooking for most of the day, so for a normal meal I don't know that extra water would be needed.

Pumpkin instead of, or in addition to, yams would have been good, as well as authentic.

I think cooked carrots would be good in either curry. ( I don't know if that would be authentic.)

I used salsa because it was easy, and I have a lot of jars  from last years canning.  You could also use fresh onion, pepper, and tomato if that's what you have.

I think the secret to this curry is par boiled potatoes and fried onions/garlic with curry.  After that you can add whatever you fancy, or what left overs you have in the fridge, and it will probably be pretty good.

I have a few curry mixes I use, and I think any would have worked here.  It's just what you prefer.

I'm going to try freezing my leftovers, some pre-wrapped so I can just pop it in the microwave for a quick lunch, and some in a big tub for a family meal.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kefir water

I've been making kefir water for a couple of years now.

This last year I fell behind, having other things on my mind.  Wanting and needing some more pro-biotic support I went looking for my little old pets.  I found these at the back of my fridge.
Yup.  3 jars of kefir.  Not only that, but they were experimental.  One was just the plain sugar water mix and kefir grains, one had a ground calcium tablet, and the other added molasses.  The grains in calcium  had not increased at all, the plain sugar  had doubled, and the molasses had tripled.  So, if your kefir grains are sluggish, I suggest adding molasses.

Here's how I make kefir:

1st fermentation:

3 Tbs kefir grains (I got my from a friend whose grains multiplied)
1/3 cup sugar
1 quart water


Mix all together and let sit out at room temp for 12-72 hrs.

Strain grains out

2nd fermentation:

put liquid w/o grains into bottles
add fruit juice to flavor or flavored sugar syrup and let sit at room temperature for 1-3 days.
Refrigerate what isn't immediately consumed.

Meanwhile take the grains and start over again. 

Super easy, yes?

I happened to have some of the 2nd fermented fruit flavored kefir in the fridge too.  The pomegranate, the grape, and the raspberry were excellent.  The orange had a lovely taste but developed the texture of mucous.  Fizzy mucous at that.  So, looking at the dates - don't leave orange kefir in the fridge for over a year and expect to enjoy drinking it.

The plain kefir water (1st fermentation) had sat in the fridge since last March.  That's, like, 10 months people!  Could they possibly still be alive?  I decanted them, and started them again.  Yup.  They're active and good to go, even the sluggish calcium fed grains.  Wow.   I've set the re-energized kefir back in the fridge, and started a new experiment.  I put some of the extra grains in the freezer, and set some to dehydrate.  Wonder if they'll be alive when I get around to them in a few months?



Notes and modifications:

I don't bother boiling or filtering the water and I haven't had any problems, but if you have a lot of chlorine, or don't trust your water supply might need to do something.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cranberry Salsa


I love this cranberry salsa.   It's amazingly delicious.  It's easy.  It's pretty.  It's all kinds of healthy.

I discovered the recipe over a year ago in a local newspaper.  I made it all last fall and winter and forgot about it until just last weekend.   What a treat to find the clipping and be inspired to make it again.  I'm putting it here so I won't lose it again, and so you can try making it.

Fresh Cranberry Salsa  (makes ~1 quart)














1 package fresh cranberries (washed and picked over)
2-4 stalks celery
1/2 red onion
1  jalapeno (seeded)
4 Tbs  sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs lime juice
cilantro to taste

chop everything fine, or use food processor

Mix it all up.  Done.

If you can wait 3-24 hrs for the flavors to meld, it will get even better, but I tend to gobble it up right away.

Notes and modifications:

This is only a little spicy, my kids like it.

I ran out of lime juice and used lemon juice - it was still pretty dang good.
Ditto on the red onion and substituting regular onion.

You can also halve the recipe, although I don't know why you'd want to.  I'd just eat any extra with a spoon.




Friday, December 14, 2012

Melting Air

Every year our church's mother's group has a Holiday Cookie exchange.  This year I brought meringue cookies.  It's kind of an every day cookie here because I have one child who likes just a fried egg yolk for breakfast, which leaves a lot of egg whites in a tub in the fridge.  That also explains why I can't tell you exactly how many eggs to use.  I'd say about half a pint of eggs makes one batch and fills the cookie jar.

Not only are these cookies yummy melt-in-your-mouth, but they are also gluten free and dairy free.

Meringue Cookies

egg whites
sugar to equal volume of egg whites
splash of vanilla (or other flavor)

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Whip egg whites and vanilla until frothy.  Slowly add sugar as you continue whipping egg whites.  Stop when the egg whites can form a stiff peak.

Drop by teaspoonful onto cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.

Turn off oven and put cookies in.  Leave them in a long time.  Like all day.  Every now and then check on the cookies.  If the oven has cooled, turn it on as low as it will go (170 for my oven) for 10-20 min.  Leave them in overnight if you can.

What you're doing is essentially drying the cookies out.  Test them as you go.   When the cookie is hard and dry (not chewy, and not weeping)  it's done.  It will be crisp to bite, but melt in your mouth if you don't chew.


Notes and modifications:

I've forgotten the vanilla and they're still pretty good.

You can try other flavorings.  I liked almond extract.  The orange extract just tasted vaguely citrus.  Rum was uniformly awful.  I haven't tried mint yet, but that might be an interesting Christmas experiment.



No Knead Bread - the new crack

I've been using a slightly modified version of this no knead bread from Frugal Homemaking.

My version is slightly different, in that I have lowered the salt.  It's just a preference thing - I don't like salty bread.

It's amazing, and super easy.  I can make it up quickly, ignore it for half a day or over night, throw it in the oven and take it to a gathering and come away looking like a hero.  Yea me!

Here's the basic recipe I've been making.  I've got it memorized now.  Maybe I'll try making it on the boat!

No Knead Bread


3 cups warm water
1 tsp yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
6 cups white flour


Mix the yeast and salt with the warm water, mix in the flour.  Let rise (covered or uncovered) for 5+ hrs.  (I use an unheated oven, since my house is a bit cool this time of year)

Put an oven-safe pot w/ lid into the oven to warm at 500 degrees F.   I line the pot with parchment paper because that makes it easier to get the bread out.
Once oven reaches temperature pour/scrape the dough/batter into the pot, cover with the lid, and bake for 1/2 hour.  Turn oven off, take lid off pot and leave the bread in the hot (but cooling) oven for another 15-30 min.  (this crisps and browns the top)

That's it.  All done.

Plain no knead bread and chocolate chip dry cherry no knead bread


Notes and Modifications:

Once you've got the basic recipe down you can play with it.  I like dried apricots with walnuts bread, and chocolate chip cherry bread.  Bit Boy likes kalamata olive bread, which is also pretty good.

This is a pretty big loaf of bread, I use a 10 qt cast iron dutch oven with a lid to bake it in.  It makes two nice smaller loaves if you have a couple of smaller pots.  If you make two loaves you can have one plain and experiment with adding stuff to the other loaf.

I've tried this with whole wheat flour.  Don't do that.  Just don't.  I usually love whole grain flours, but this comes out like a brick.  If you  must, you can make 1 cup of it whole wheat, but it won't be crack bread, it'll just be very good bread.