Tuesday, July 21, 2015

nice and airy

You have a sneaking suspicion that something is up with these muffins. They're not your regular banana muffins. There's a tiny bit of grit in there. Is this gluten-free, you ask? You don't trust gluten-free. It just doesn't taste right to you - you can always tell.

But then you start thinking about how this might be the softest, airiest, most delicious banana muffin you've ever had, and you eat it so fast it gives you the hiccups after. You know what I mean?

This is truly the best use of 3 over-ripe bananas I've ever come across. Totally amped up with coconut oil, peanut butter, honey and cinnamon, and everything breakfast (or a 4:00p tea time nibble, midnight snack...) should be.

A couple tricks:

- Just use one bowl, a fork, and some arm strength to mash and combine everything. No need to dirty up an electric mixer.

- Measure out the coconut oil first out of all of your liquid ingredients. Honey has never exited a Tablespoon quite so fast after you use it for oil first. Same with peanut butter.

Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
slightly adapted from Ambitious Kitchen
makes 12 muffins

3 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 T. liquid coconut oil
1 T. honey
4 T. peanut butter
1 t. vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 c. coconut flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
2 oz. dark chocolate chunks

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Add the coconut oil, honey, peanut butter and vanilla extract, and mix until well combined. Add the eggs, and mix until combined. Add in coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; mix again until just combined. Gently fold in the chocolate.

3. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and remove each muffin from the tin to let cool before serving.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

an apple a day

I am quite comfortable admitting that I don't like apple pie. But in taking a survey of my wedding guests to inform my pie-making decisions, apple pie was the 2:1 favorite over the runner-up, pecan pie (which I would take over apple any day of the week). There is just something about cooked apples I can't get into.

But, I am not here to disappoint my audience, so recipe-testing this weekend consisted of bringing 2 different pie recipes, in 4 different formats to a friend's barbecue.

I do have a hands-down preference, and it was the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Apple Pie that I decorated with hearts up above. It was wonderfully caramel-y, strongly cinnamon-y, and just delicious. 

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Apple Pie

2 balls of your favorite pie dough

For the filling:
4-5 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. kosher salt
juice of half a lemon

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice your apples and toss them with your sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and lemon juice. Set aside.

2. Generously flour a work surface, then roll out your favorite pie dough, large enough to fit inside of your pie dish. Cut off any excess dough, then use your fingers to crimp the edges of the dough around the dish. Pour your apple filling into the prepared pie crust. 

3. Roll out your next ball of dough. Make the top crust of your choice - rolled out for a full double crust, cut into strips for a lattice, or punched out into different shapes for a fun topping.

4. Place the pie in the oven, then turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are bubbling. Allow to cool on a cooling rack for at least 30-60 minutes before slicing and serving.

However, the experiment wasn't only for the filling. I also need to figure out if there were any better ways to transport pie than via 15-20 individual pie plates. I'm usually not the kind of person who is a sucker for anything in a Mason jar via Pinterest, but when I found photos of pies in Mason jars, I freaked out. So, you're saying I can bake a pie in a glass jar, which basically makes it individualized, and then put a lid on it, and stack them in any sort of flat carrying case (cases which I can then continue stacking into the back of my vehicle)? And I can potentially also freeze the pies unbaked, and stick them in a cold oven to come to temperature at the same time the oven does, and continue baking? What is this miracle? (I have yet to experiment with the straight-from-the-freezer option, but I have 3 pies waiting for me when I get home).

There were many jars involved. The top 3 are small 4 oz. straight-sided jars with the cutest gold lids. The bottom 2 are 8-oz. Ball and Kerr jars, respectively - one a little too deep (but hello tons of filling - too bad I don't like apple), and one wide-mouth which was actually perfect size-wise, but annoying to press crust into. All things one needs to know way in advance of one's wedding.

This pie recipe was fine - just not as interesting the last. Less brown sugar (although more sugar, period) and less cinnamon. This recipe also required pre-cooking the apples, which I found to be tedious, especially since I didn't see or taste any discernible differences in texture. 

Wedding apple pie, check.

Sauteed Apple Pie
from KCRW

2 balls of your favorite pie dough

For the filling:
7 medium apples
3 T. butter
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
juice of half a lemon
pinch of salt
2 heaping T. of corn starch
3 T. cold water

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and slice apples into 1/4-inch thick slices. Add water to cornstarch and stir and set aside.  

2. In a large pan, melt 2 T. butter with sugars and spices. Add the apple slices and cook until “al dente.” Add the cornstarch and water mixture on high heat, and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1 T. butter. Set aside to cool.

3. Roll out our pie dough into two circles. Line the pie tin with one of the dough circles. Fill with the apple mixture. Lay the second dough circle on top, and press down the edges. Trim the excess dough. Cut vents in the top, and crimp or pinch the edges as you like.

4. Place the pie in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

tea for two

I've been terrible at blogging, but I'm hoping to be more focused with the cooking and archiving. Be on the lookout for plenty of back-dating. I think I have about 18 drafts open in Blogger.

If ever there was a meal to kick off this new beginning, for both the blog, and for a focused return to healthier eating after semi-letting myself go over the last few weeks.

My new favorite way to cook salmon - pat with flavorful spice crust, cook undisturbed for 8 minutes, half uncovered, half covered. Absolutely effortless, perfectly cooked, with just the right amount of crisp to the skin. I'd love to try coconut oil next time, and I imagine this is endlessly adaptable to all kinds of tea as well. I can't wait to experiment. Ginger tea seems obvious, but there are is a whole aisle of tea at Whole Foods I was already eying when I bought the genmaicha for this recipe.

The corn is my hello to summer - warm and comforting from the flavors of garlic, ginger and soy sauce butter, but bright with mint and lemon juice. This was a great complement to the salmon, and is going to be a good barbecue potluck offering this summer.

Tea-Crusted Salmon
slightly adapted from The Los Angeles Times
serves 4

1 lb. skin-on salmon fillet
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. genmaicha tea (from 4 teabags)
1 T. olive oil

1. Pat the salmon dry. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper and tea. Stir to combine, and then pat the mixture on top of the fillet.

3. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the salmon, skin-side down. Cook until the skin crisps, about 4 minutes, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking until the salmon is just cooked through, an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Slice into four pieces, and serve immediately.

Garlic and Ginger Corn with Soy Sauce Butter
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
serves 6-8

1 t. minced garlic
1 t. minced ginger
2 T. finely sliced green onions
1 T. soy sauce
2 T. butter
4 ears corn, kernels removed from the cob
1/4 c. finely sliced mint leaves
lemon juice, to taste

1. In a large skillet, combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, butter and green onions. Stir until the butter is melted.

2. Add the corn, and stir to thoroughly combine. Heat through, but don't overcook, only about 5 minutes. Add the mint and lemon juice, to taste; stir to combine, and serve immediately.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

always want more

Literally the only thing I would change about this recipe is to double the vegetables (original quantities in the recipe below). Both the kale and cabbage shrink down considerably when cooked, and I would have preferred more vegetables on my plate. As it was, I supplemented with some brown rice, so it was still a nice, balanced meal, but I would have skipped the rice altogether with more veggies.

In any case, this was a great, simple weeknight meal. Endlessly scale-able in case you have company, and the presentation belies the ease of preparation.

Salmon with Crispy Cabbage + Kale
slightly adapted from PopSugar
serves 2

2 c. shredded kale
3 c. shredded Napa cabbage
3 T. olive oil, divided
salt, to taste
2 salmon fillets (4 to 6 oz. each)
1/2 t. lemon zest plus 1 T. lemon juice
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 t. Dijon mustard

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. On a quarter-sheet pan, toss kale and cabbage with 1 T. oil, and spread in an even layer. Season with salt, and bake for 6 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together lemon zest and juice, thyme, mustard, and remaining 2 T. oil.

4. Spread 1 t. of dressing on each salmon fillet, season it with salt, and add it to the baking sheet. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 8-9 minutes.

5. Drizzle the salmon and vegetables with more dressing before serving.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

right up my alley

Sometimes, there's not much to say except: GO MAKE THIS NOW.

Matty's a person who is well-aware that I don't repeat many recipes because there's so much to try that we'll never catch up to all my Post-Its and bookmarks, real or digital. However, the second thing out of his mouth was, "Let's keep this on the list to make again." The first thing was, "This is right up my alley."

I can't imagine it not being up a lot of people's alleys. All of those delicious ingredients and aromas meld together to make a much more complex flavor profile than your average peanut-flavored noodle dish. Add a protein if you wish, but it's already so immensely satisfying and addicting just as-is.

Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles with Red Cabbage + Kale
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 2

1 t. sesame oil
4 t. soy sauce
2 t. Sriracha
2 T. peanut butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. shredded kale
1 c. shredded red cabbage
6 oz. soba noodles

1. Start the water boiling to cook the noodles.

2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, Sriracha, peanut butter, garlic, kale and cabbage. Stir the ingredients to thoroughly combine. Turn off the heat.

3. When the water is boiling, add the noodles, and cook until al dente. Use tongs to add the noodles straight from the water to the sauté pan with the peanut sauce. Add water as necessary to thin the sauce. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

light as a feather

Long day at work today, followed by a long drive home. The halibut had been in the fridge since Sunday's grocery day, but I would've been quite content to risk it going bad by waiting another day in favor of running out for tacos at our favorite spot.

However, I was sweetly convinced to do some cooking, and I'm so glad I did. Especially after I went back into my drafts folder for this recipe, and realized that I had bookmarked it over a year ago.

The only disappointment here is that I waited that long to get to this dish. I took a few liberties with the original recipe to make it a little lighter, and more importantly, a little quicker:

- I didn't have enough carrots after making yet another rabbit food/wedding diet lunch, so I supplemented with cauliflower - all went into the steamer together.

- I skipped the extra saute step once the carrots were steamed. I suppose the extra flavor from the caramelization of the saute would only make this better, but I figured, hell, the carrots were cooked, and I'm hungry - let's just get pureeing.

- Instead of adding olive oil to the puree, I used some (lower-calorie) cashew cream and almond milk to thin out the mixture. It made it perfectly creamy.

I could eat the puree forever. It was light, but at the same time, super satisfying. Like deliciously sweet mashed potatoes. It went just perfectly with the feathery-light halibut fillet, that needed nothing more than the lemon zest-thyme "marinade" on the counter while the vegetables were steaming. This is the kind of dinner I could eat every night.

Halibut with Carrot-Cauliflower Puree
slightly adapted from Suzanne Goin's The A.O.C. Cookbook
serves 2

For the halibut:
2 8-oz. halibut fillets
zest of 1 lemon
1 t. thyme leaves
2 T. pistachio oil

For the puree:
8 oz. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
8 oz. cauliflower florets
1/4 c. cashew cream
additional almond milk, to taste

For the vegetables:
6 oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 t. pistachio oil
2 T. shelled, roasted, salted pistachios, chopped

1. Season the fish with the lemon zest and thyme. Set aside.

2. Steam the carrots and cauliflower for about 20 minutes, until tender. Remove to the bowl of a food processor, and add the sugar snap peas to the steamer. Steam the peas for 1 minute, until crisp-tender, then immediately remove to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

3. Puree the carrots and cauliflower with the cashew cream until the mixture is smooth. Add additional almond milk, as necessary, to thin to your preferred consistency. Set aside.

4. Heat 2 T. pistachio oil in a large skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Carefully lay the fish in the pan, and cook 3-4 minutes, until it's lightly browned. Turn the fish over, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for a few more minutes, until it's cooked through.

5. Divide the cauliflower-carrot puree onto serving plates. Arrange the halibut over the puree.

6. Drain the snap peas, and toss with 1 t. pistachio oil and 2 T. pistachios. Toss to thoroughly combine, and serve alongside the fish.

Monday, May 25, 2015

we sail tonight for singapore

I picked a hell of a time to get into roasting chicken. I mean it's not hot yet, but very soon, it will be completely inappropriate to let the oven run for an hour, even in the evening.

While I can, though, I'm going to be doing this every week, so get prepared (and send me your favorite roast chicken "recipes"/flavor combinations)!

Today's recipe was inspired by the finest chicken rice I've ever eaten at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore. It was my first thought when I saw the recipe over at She Simmers. All the talk of lemongrass and chili dipping sauces took me straight back to the sweatiest (but one of the most delicious) days of my life.

It kind of took on a life of its own, though - obviously, the chicken was roasted and not poached, so the texture was different. I ended up rubbing the chicken with a coconut oil-ginger-garlic mixture that, when combined with the lemongrass stuffing made for some of the most delicately perfumed chicken ever. (I'm speaking in a lot of hyperbole today. Trust me, it was deserved).

I tossed a couple spoonfuls of the delicious coconut oil-chicken fat at the bottom of the baking dish with the red sprouted jasmine rice for a nice solid base, and simply sauteed quartered bok choy in some sesame oil to round out the dish.

Ginger-Lemongrass Roast Chicken
inspired by She Simmers
serves 4-6

1 whole chicken, about 5 lbs.
4 T. coconut oil
1 t. minced ginger
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. salt
3 large lemongrass stalks, halved and cut into 4-inch pieces

1. Set the chicken out on the counter to lose that refrigerator chill while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut oil, ginger, garlic and salt.

3. Remove any "extras" from the inside of the chicken and pat dry. Carefully slide your hand between the skin and the chicken breast. Spread half of the coconut oil under the skin, the other half over the outside of the chicken.

4. Place the chicken on a v-rack in a small roasting pan or baking dish and add 1/2 c. water to the bottom of the pan. Roast for about an hour, or until the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes before carving and serving.