Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sweet Potato pasta substitute

I've heard about substituting thinly sliced sweet potato for noodles and decided to give it a try. I used this recipe for inspiration.

I started by peeling the sweet potato skins off
Then I used the peeler to peel the thin strips to be the pasta. As I waited to use the potato I put the pieces in water to keep them from browning.
In a large low pan I put
2 tablespoons of butter
2 small shallots
and let that cook down a little then added cinnamon and crushed sage, drained the sweet potatoes and tossed those in too and let cook, stirring every few minutes and covered for part of the cook time. I cooked until just tender. Since the strips are so thin this happens pretty quickly. When I turned off the heat I added salt and pepper.
I served with broccoli rage sautéed with chicken sausage.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mustache Sugar Cookies

We were given these mustache cookie cutters for Christmas. So I decided to try them out. 

I used a basic Martha Stewart sugar cookie recipe

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla 

Cream the butter and sugar then add eggs and vanilla, once that's mixed add in the rest of the ingredients.  
Form dough into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. 

Preheat oven to 325
On a floured surface roll out the dough. I found that I didn't need to flour the cookie cutters, cut out the cookies, if dough sticks inside the cutter tap the side of it on the counter and the cookie should come out
Flip the cutter over and press down to make the mustache indentations

I didn't want to frost these because I didn't want to lose the texture but I did want to add some color so I decided to use food coloring. 

I only wanted to ridges to have color on them so my first attempt was painting the food coloring on but that was time consuming then I used a shallow bowl and only put a little food coloring in the bottom so it would just get the color on the ridges. 

From there the cookies went on a parchment lined cookie sheet and baked for 12 minutes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

First Attempt at Homemade Pasta

We inherited a pasta maker and I finally got the courage to try it out. Part of my hesitation had been that it needed to be cleaned and I wasn't sure how to go about doing that. I did some online research and then took some of the ideas from that to clean it. 

To clean it I ended up using a damp paper towel that I dampened with warm water and vinegar. I wiped the pasta maker down and ran the paper towel through it too. 

I got Bob's Red Mill semolina flour and used the recipe on the bag as a guide. The other recipes I've seen gave a little different instructions so I combined the two… 
Instead of making the dough on a flat surface I made it in a low bowl in case the egg mixture wouldn't stay in the well of flour, which was the case

1 1/2 cups flour and make a well in the middle 
to the well add 
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons water 
Mix the liquids with a fork then mix into flour by hand
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt
 once dough is mixed and holding together, turn it out on to a board to kneed for 10 minutes
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes
On a lightly floured board roll out the dough
Then put the dough through the flat pasta roller 

Next put the sheets of dough through the desired pasta setting

Boil water with a little salt and oil and the pasta should cook in only about 2 minutes.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pretzel Cake a Football All Star

The Patriots and the 49ers lost tonight but this cake was a win!

I came across this momofuku pretzel cake here and it looked incredible. Since we were planning to watch the football games with friends this cake filled with pretzels and beer seemed like the perfect thing to bring!

Because the "Pancake Princess" did such a great job documenting how to make this delicious salty sweet treat I would refer you to look at her blog to to check it out. I will however, put the recipe here (with the adjustments I made) and give a few tips on things that I learned in my attempt to make this.

There are 4 parts to this cake:
pretzel crunch
stout ganache
burnt honey frosting
I made the first two parts one night and then finished the cake the next day. It was a long process the second day partly because the cake requires some time in the freezers if you are going to make this be aware of the time commitment.

I started by making the pretzel crunch
Pretzel Crunch
2 1/2 cups of pretzels (I used waffle pretzels)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons powdered nonfat milk
2 Tablespoons melted salted butter

Heat oven to 350
This is like making a crumble to top a baked fruit desert.
Throw pretzels into food processor to break up a bit then add the rest of the ingredients to mix together, being careful not to over crush the pretzels
Put the mixture on parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes then set aside
Once it was cooled I stored it in a container until I was ready to use it.

Next I made the cake
Pretzel Cake
6 Tablespoons room temperature butter
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon molasses
3 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
3 cups pretzel 'flour' - this is just pretzels put in the food processor and ground down to a flour consistency

Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment and grease it with canola oil
Using an electric mixer combine the butter, sugar and molasses until well mixed.
Add the eggs one at a time. Once well mixed add the buttermilk and oil.

Mix together dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add to the wet ingredients. You may need to stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula to incorporate everything and not over mix the dough.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or  until a toothpick comes out clean.
Once the cake was cooled a bit I stuck it in the fridge and left it there over night.

The next day I was ready to make the frosting and assemble the cake.

I started with the
Stout Ganache
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons chocolate stout beer (you will  need more of the beer later, so hold on to it)
1 Tablespoon milk

Put all the ingredients in a double boiler, stir as the chocolate chips melt and once smooth remove from heat.

Then it was time for the burnt honey frosting which was the most intimidating part of this for me
Burnt Honey Frosting
2 1/2 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons water
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick of butter

Put the honey in a small saucepan, when it begins to boil reduce heat to a simmer until the honey begins to smoke then remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of water.
Whisk the egg yolks in an electric mixer until pale and frothy
Add sugar and last tablespoon of water to the honey mixture and return to stove to cook it until it reaches 240 or 'soft ball stage' lots of carmel colored bubbles
Next you'll incorporate this into the egg yolks, remember this is very hot so you want it to drizzle down the side of the bowl to cool a bit before hitting the yolks, you've basically just made honey candy so the challenge i found was once it hit the cold bowl it started to solidify and much of it ended up stuck to the side of the bowl instead of incorporated into the egg yolk, I think I either needed to use a smaller bowl or add the honey lower down the side of the bowl or perhaps both! Even with much of the honey stuck on the bowl you could still taste it in the frosting.
Lastly add in the butter a few tablespoons at a time
When you have a nice smooth frosting you're ready to move on to cake assembly.

Cake Assembly
This is a 6 inch cake. The recommendation was a 6 inch springform but because this cake is 3 layers you need to modify the spring form to add some height to hold the whole cake. I do not have a 6" pan but I do have a 6" pot and it was just the right height to hold 3 layers of cake!

I pulled the cooked cake out of the 9 x 13 pan by lifting up the parchment. I placed the pot I was going to use to hold the cake upside down (so bottom was up) on the cake to make an impression for a guide to cut out a 6 " circle of cake. I did that twice, so I had to 6" rounds and some cake scraps. 
Then I lined the pot with parchment. 
Press the cake scraps into the bottom of pot then pour 2 tablespoons of the chocolate stout beer over the cake
Spread 1/3 of the ganache over the cake then add 1/3 of the pretzel crunch evenly on top of that and top that with 1/2 of the burnt honey frosting. The frosting is sticky and kind of hard to work with so don't anticipate begin able to spread it very well, if you drop lots of bits of the frosting around the weight of the next layer will help to spread it together a bit. 
Place one round of cake on top and repeat, 2 tablespoons of stout, use 1/2 of what is left of the ganache (1/3 of the total), 1/2 of what is left of the pretzels (1/3 of the total), and the remainder of the burnt honey frosting. 
Place the last layer of cake and top with 2 tablespoons of chocolate stout, the rest of the chocolate ganache and top with the remainder of the pretzel crunch. 

Now you have some waiting to do… 
Cover the cake and put it in the freezer for at least 3 hours. 
Remove the cake from the freezer about 3 hours before you're ready to enjoy it. 
As you can see in the photo above there is lots of extra parchment sticking out of the pot, I covered the cake with the parchment and plastic wrap to freeze, I removed the plastic wrap and kept the parchment covering the cake. I turned the cake over holding the top in one hand and removing the pot with the other hand then returned the cake to upright. 

This cake was well worth the work! It's great to make when there are enough people to help eat the whole thing because the pretzel crunch will begin to get a little soggy if left. It's also a bit messy so easier not to have to try to store again. 

More Pretzel Dips

Since we've figured out how to make spent grain pretzels we decided to try out some more dipping sauces.

Honey Mustard
Mix together
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
3/4 cups honey
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
salt and pepper

Chocolate Stout Ganache
in a double boiler combine
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons chocolaté stout beer
1 tablespoon milk
mix together until smooth

Friday, January 17, 2014

Faux Mercury Glass

I've been seeing some quick ways to transform old glass jars and bottles with new looks to use as vases or candle holders etc. and I optimistically bought all the supplies I needed to give them a try. This is not the best project for January since it's best when using spray paints to be able to do it outside and itneeds to be warm enough outside to do it… Today was a little heat wave of 50 degrees so I decided today was my day to give this a try! 

What you need:
glass jars or bottles or whatever you want to transform - I used some liquor bottles I'd been holding on to because I liked their shapes
Krylon Looking Glass Mirror-Like Paint that  I picked up at my local hardware store
spray bottle with water and vinegar solution - I ended up using yoga mat spray that I'd made that is basically a water vinegar solution
paper towel 
newspaper or drop cloth

Step one: make sure your bottles are clean and dry
Step two: get the space prepared where you're going to paint. 
Step three: spray the bottle with water and vinegar so there are little droplets on it and then then spray with looking glass. Wait about a minute then blot with a paper towel to help with the worn and crackled look
Step 4: repeat - spray with vinegar and then spray with looking glass. If you're not happy with it or you want it more 'silver' repeat the process again

I didn't have too much time today when I was doing this but I'm pretty happy with the results and look forward to trying it again. This worked well on both clear and brown glass bottles. 

Faux Porcelain

I've been seeing some quick ways to transform old glass jars and bottles with new looks to use as vases or candle holders etc. and I optimistically bought all the supplies I needed to give them a try. This is not the best project for January since it's best when using spray paints to be able to do it outside and itneeds to be warm enough outside to do it… Today was a little heat wave of 50 degrees so I decided today was my day to give this a try! 

I've actually come across this on a few different blogs that all reference this post. It seems so simple that instead of re-posting her beautiful stuff again, I decided I wanted to try it for myself and see if it is really as easy as she made it look. 

What you need:
glass jars or bottles or cans or whatever you want to use
white enamel spray, I used Rust-oleum in flat white that I picked up at my local hardware store
puff paint
newspaper or drop cloth

Step one: make sure your bottle is clean
Step two: use puff paint to make a design on the bottle or jar you're going to paint and let it dry 
Step three: go outside, put down the newspaper and spray paint your items, once dry give a second coat

That's it! Since this was my first attempt and I had some time constraints I tried to keep it really simple but I look forward to giving this another try when the weather is warmer. Keep an eye out for how to make the heart flower (pictured right) in February as part of my countdown to Valentine's Day. 

Easy Frosted Glass Bottles

I've been seeing some quick ways to transform old glass jars and bottles with new looks to use as vases or candle holders etc. and I optimistically bought all the supplies I needed to give them a try. This is not the best project for January since it's best when using spray paints to be able to do it outside and itneeds to be warm enough outside to do it… Today was a little heat wave of 50 degrees so I decided today was my day to give this a try! 

What you need:
glass jars or bottles or whatever you want to frost
frosted glass spray, I used Krylon that I picked up at my local hardware store
newspaper or drop cloth

Step one: wrap the bottles in rubber bands

Step two: spray the bottles with frosted glass spray, let dry and spray a second coat
Step three: remove the rubber bands 

That's it! So Simple! 

If you want to ensure that the finish doesn't scratch off spray a finish coat on top, like Krylon matte finish

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sriracha Kimchi

I've been really curious about making my own Kimchi for awhile but did not want to use fish sauce.  There was a new vendor at my local winter farmers market last week selling kimchi and I came close to buying it but decided instead I would try making my own using this recipe and if I could make it with siriracha how could I not give it a try? I also used some bits and pieces of advice found in other kimchi recipes I came across.

head of green cabbage (because my local grocer was out of napa)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 cloves of garlic
1 inch cube of fresh ginger
1 apple
1 carrot
3 tablespoons sriracha
4 scallions
1 jalapeño

Cut up the cabbage, put it in a large glass bowl and mix with the 2 tablespoons of salt, then cover tightly and place some weight on top. Leave out on the counter a minimum of an hour until the cabbage begins to wilt and liquid will release. 
In a food processor combine garlic, ginger, apple, carrot and sriracha into a paste.
Strain the cabbage, keeping the liquid, then mix with paste and chopped scallions and jalapeño until everything is well coated. Tightly pack kimchi into sterilized glass jars leaving some empty space at the top of the jar. Pour the reserved cabbage liquid into the jars to cover the kimchi. Put the lids on the jars.
Leave the kimchi out at room temperature for about 3 days. When it has that signature sour, spicy flavor and sauerkraut texture close it up tightly and store it in the fridge. 

After about a week in the fridge I began to enjoy the kimchi. It was a great addition to ramen and even as a cabbage slaw on tacos. It done come out a bit more salty than I would have liked so it wasn't great by itself but worked well added to dishes, I just made sure to cook without salt when I knew I was going to eat it with kimchi. 

Homemade Deodorant

I've heard it's easy to make your own deodorant so I thought I'd give it a try. Everywhere I've looked seems to have the same basic recipe. 
All you have to do is whisk together
6  tablespoons coconut oil (because it's cold this time of year, I placed the jar in hot water to 'melt' it)
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
essential oils of your choice for whatever scent you want otherwise it just smells like coconut
Then I put the mixture in a jar for storage. Quick and easy to make!
If I'd had an empty deodorant container I would have reused that. It's a bit strange having to use my hand to rub it under my arms but it works. I've used it for a few days now and it keeps me dry and smelling, well, like coconut... so far so good!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chocolate Macadamia Cookies from Spent Grain

It was a rainy day today which got me thinking about baking. Since we still have a lot of spent grain flour from our beer making and I knew I had some chocolate chips and macadamia nuts I decided to try cookies. I combined a few different recipes I came across and ended up with this new recipe:

Mix the following in the bowl of an electric mixer
3 cups spent grain flour
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons coconut oil
1 egg
1/2 cup almond milk (because I had some open on hand)
1/2 cup rough chopped macadamia nuts
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

the dough is done when it's evenly moist and starts to form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. With your hands, shape dough into small balls then squash them a little flat
Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 15 minutes

Monday, January 13, 2014

Basic Mustard

After making the pretzels it seemed like mustard was the next logical step. I quickly discovered that it is incredibly easy to make a basic mustard - just mustard powder and water could do the trick - so here is what I tried 

I combined the dry ingredients
6 tablespoons mustard seeds that I ground with a mortar and pestle but could have done in a spice grinder, until they were in various stages of crushed, not totally powder
1/2 cup mustard powder
2 teaspoons salt
and the separately the wet ingredients
3 Tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup white wine (water would also work)
Then I whisked the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until evenly mixed
Then the mixture (which is about a cup worth) went into a glass jar and into the fridge to sit for at least  12 hours before testing. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Spent Grain Pretzles with Cheesey Mustard Beer Sauce

Another adventure in cooking with spent grains and beer today we tried pretzels and cheesy beer dip all made with our Russian Imperial Stout.

Spent Grain Pretzles 
adapted from here

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 package dry active yeast
6 Tablespoons melted butter
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups spent grain flour

For the water bath:
3 quarts water (12 cups)
3/4 cup baking soda

Egg wash:
as egg beaten with 1.5 teaspoons cold water
salt for top of pretzels

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook add the warm water, sugar, yeast and butter
Mix until just combined then let sit about 5 minutes until the yeast starts to activate which will cause it to begin to get foamy
Add the flour and mix until the dough begins to form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Oil a bowl, place the dough in it, cover bowl with plastic wrap, put it in a warm place until it doubles in size for about an hour

Preheat the oven to 425

Once dough has risen, form your pretzels, divide the dough into about 12 pieces, roll them out to about 20 inch long 'snakes'

Prepare the water bath, bring the water to a boil in a low pan over high heat then add the baking soda - be aware the baking soda will cause the water to bubble up

Boil the pretzels for 30 second each, set them aside for a moment after removing them from the water bath so your baking sheet doesn't get wet, then place them on prepared (either greased or parchment paper) baking sheets

Brush the tops of the pretzels with egg wash and 

Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda and season with salt.

Bake for 15 minutes 

Now that we had pretzels we thought we'd try a sauce to go with them that we found here 

Cheesey Mustard Beer Sauce
In a pot on the stove combine
1/4 cup dark 
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Then whisk in
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Once it is combined and smooth you're ready to eat it 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Beet Soup from a winter farmers market

I love that there are farmers markets year round here now. This time of year it is a lot of root vegetables and meat vendors. This week we picked up some root vegetables, cabbage and shallots, so I thought I'd try a basic borscht inspired soup.

olive oil
3 small shallots
2 purple beets
1 yellow beet
1 parsnip
2 carrots
1/2 medium sized head of cabbage
bay leaf
12 black peppercorns
3 allspice berries
1 lemon

Heat the oil and add minced shallots, rough chopped beets, parsnip, carrots, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, allspice and a little salt. Let cook for about 5 minutes then add chopped cabbage and let cook 3 more minutes
Add water and let simmer until vegetables are cooked through then turn off the heat. Add salt and the juice from one lemon.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chocolate Bread Pudding

I had about half of a small loaf of french bread that had gotten rock hard. Usually I'd end up throwing it away but today I decided to try something a little different with it and made my first attempt at a bread pudding which was easy and delicious.

In a small pot I combined
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup beer
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
Once the chocolate chips were melted and smooth I let it cook and added
1 beaten egg (I only happened to have one on hand or I would have used 2-3)

I cut the bread into cubes and tossed it with the liquid mixture
It was just enough bread to fill a 5 1/2" square baking dish.
I put one layer of bread, sprinkled in a few more chocolate chips then put the rest of the bread on top and poured the remaining liquid over the top.

It baked at 325 for 30 minutes and I served it with ice cream.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pasta with Chestnuts

I always get really excited for chestnuts starting mid December but I am never quite sure what to do with them other than roast and enjoy, which, don't get me wrong I do enjoy but today I decided to roast and try something a little bit different…

roasted chestnuts
fresh herbs

In a large frying pan on the stove start with pancetta, as it begins to crisp and the fat begins to coat the pan add the onion and garlic, then chopped chestnuts and the kale and sauté, toss in some fresh (or dried) herbs for additional flavor and serve over pasta

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Morning - Spent Grain Pancakes

I love having a big weekend breakfast. Since we've been on a home brewing kick there's lots of spent grain flour around so I decided to try make pancakes. I started with the Joy of Cooking pancake recipe and tweaked it a bit. 

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup spent grain flour
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
3 tbl sugar
2 eggs
3 tbl melted butter
1 1/4 cup milk 

Mix all the ingredients together and cook in a hot pan or griddle, flip them when they start to bubble

Friday, January 3, 2014

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Apparently my color for the week is orange as this is the second pureed orange soup I've made this week but there is something so comforting about it in this cold snowy weather we're having. I've been trying out coconut oil in recipes more so I gave it a try in this soup today.

coconut oil
sweet potato
red lentils
curry powder (I used a bit of every kind I had, sweet, hot & masala)

In a pot on the stove, heat the coconut oil, then add chopped garlic and ginger, let cook for a minute or two before adding cubed sweet potato and carrots, then add curry powder and cook for at least 5 minutes before adding water and some salt and pepper, after about 10 minutes of cooking with the water add in lentils and after about another 10 minutes add in salt, sweet potato should be soft and lentils should be cooked so blend either with emersion blender or blender until smooth.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Butternut Squash Soup

An easy soup for this cold January day.

Put all the following ingredients in a pot on the stove
cloves garlic
poblano pepper
butternut squash (hold a few very thin slices aside to make pickles and use as garnish)
ground pepper
chicken stock

and cook until everything is soft then puree with an immersion blender or in a blender

Garnish with pomegranate seeds and butternut squash quick pickles, the recipe for those is  here 

Quick Pickles

I found this quick pickle recipe with a soup recipe and have been using it not only for the squash pickles for the soup but also used it for a quick pickled slaw with radish, carrot, and cabbage that I put on fish tacos.

In a pot on the stove heat
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
until the sugar is dissolved
Pour over the vegetables you want to pickle (for squash I peeled it with a vegetable peeler and used those thin strips)
Let stand for 15 minutes
Drain and toss with a little oil and other seasoning if you'd like