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.