Pie for Une

24 Nov

I meander around the interwebs a lot.  Too much probably.  Thats when I came across this AH-mazing idea.

Single serve pies from Our Best Bites.

Brilliant.  I love pie, I mean who doesn’t?  Its so annoying to have to make a full pie then not be able to eat the whole thing.  I also dislike buying pies because I am a control freak in the kitchen.  I like homemade stuff, I like my cooking and baking.

I can quite often and have these jars in stock, they hold about 8 oz which is perfect for an individual sized pie.

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I decided on pumpkin pie, a traditional pumpkin pie recipe from Martha Stewart, of course!

This also solves my problem of what to do with all the lids I have used from canning.  You can’t reuse them when making jam, but I have a drawer full of them and now I can use them for Pie for Une.

I made 2 kinds, the classic pumpkin, then separated 2 servings, added a tablespoon of adobo chili powder and some cayenne pepper, for a chipotle pumpkin pie.  Its not very spicy, but has a kick under the sweet.  Now they are in the freezer and ready to be baked for whenever.

I would defrost them before putting in a hot oven, its still glass and can break with a rapid change of temperature.  

Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Lasagna

24 Oct

Now that its October, its pumpkin-palooza and I love every second of it.  Instead of all the pumpkin sweets, which I have already started to make, pumpkin is great for savory dishes as well.

This lasagna took about an hour to prep, but I also used boil noodles, which I only used because I thought the no boil noodles wouldn’t soften up so much because the pumpkin sauce was thick.  You can use either, and I recommend using no boil because its easier, and another less pot on the stove.

I also used mushrooms and spinach as supplementary layers.

28 oz Can of pumpkin
5-6 fresh sage leaves, cut finely
1/2 C. Chicken broth or Mushroom broth (thats what I used)
1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped
3-4 Minced Garlic cloves
1 Tblspn Brown Sugar
About 4 oz of goat cheese.
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper as needed
2 Bay Leaves
2 Cups diced mushrooms (any kind works)
16oz Fresh spinach (or double if you want a thick spinach layer)

Pumpkin Sauce:
Heat olive oil in a small/medium saucepan, add onions and garlic, then add your sage.  Saute until almost translucent.  The onions do not need to be fully cooked, you will be cooking the pumpkin for a bit.  Add pumpkin, add broth.  Mix around, now you need a consistency that it slightly thicker than soup, but not too thick.  So you may need more or less broth.  Basically, you don’t want it to ‘blurp’ up when it comes to a boil, it shouldn’t hold the boiled shape, if you get what I’m saying.  Turn down to medium low heat and let it cook while you prepare the other layers.

Mushrooms:
A simple saute with olive oil, and the bay leaves, once they start to get soft, there will be excessive moisture, don’t worry about it.  Until you are ready to puree it, let it sit on the stove on low heat.  Puree in food processor, minus the bay leaves and add some goat cheese.  I call this mushroom pate.  Because I like to pretend I’m fancy.

Spinach:
I have done it 2 ways 1) steam, then blend in a food processor with goat cheese 2) blend in the food processor raw.  Both ways work, it depends on how much work you want to do.  I preferred blending them raw, it was easier and I think if you use no boil noodles it will help with the moisture.

I had about 4 layers in this dish, starting with fresh spinach noodles on the bottom, then steamed spinach that was pureed with goat cheese, fresh spinach noodles, pumpkin sauce, noodles, mushroom pate, noodles, pumpkin sauce, noodles, pumpkin sauce, 4 cheese mix.

Bake at 350F for about 45-55 minutes, or until the cheese is that perfect golden color.

Fumi Tofu Salad

12 Oct

Yes, like the yummy kind from Whole Foods, but cheaper.

This deli salad is a regular purchase for me, when I go to the deli section, which is very rare since everything is so expensive.  Fumi Tofu Salad at Whole Foods runs about $8.69/Lb, the tall container that I will order will run about $7.25, a medium, like I ordered last night, $5.39.

Odd that I would buy it last night when I had all the ingredients to make it myself at home.  Convenience I guess.

First things first, the Tofu.  I don’t buy extra firm tofu anymore, but for this recipe I should have, however if you don’t have it on hand, it just takes longer.  Open the tofu package and put into a colander to drain, putting a small bowl underneath and place in the fridge.  Since mine wasn’t extra firm, I let it drain overnight.  If your using extra firm a couple hours should do the trick.

Preheat oven to 425F.  Cut tofu into rectangles about 3/4 of an inch wide.  Drizzle a little sesame oil on the front and back and place on parchment paper on your baking sheet.  Let bake for about 25-30 minutes, then flip them, and bake for another 25 minutes.

Let them cool once they are out of the oven.

For the salad:

10 oz shredded cabbage, or half a head of cabbage, shredding finely
1/4-1/3 C chopped Almonds (I used raw)
3-4 Green onion stalks, chopped
2 Tblspns Sesame Seeds

For the sauce:

1 Tblspn Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tblspns Rice Vinegar
1 1/2 Tbspns Sesame Oil
1 Tblspn Olive Oil
1 Tsp Brown Sugar
4-5 shakes of Soy Sauce or Nama shoyu (whichever you have)

I used about 2 1/2 rectangles of tofu, cut them into little squares.  I added the cabbage, almonds, green onions and sesame seeds into a ziploc freezer bag.

For the sauce, I didn’t measure, I just guessed, I never really measure anything.  Just be sure to add more of the rice vinegar and sesame oil over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, you want more of an Asian taste.  I put the liquids and brown sugar in my small cup blender and frapped it quick, then added the sauce over the cabbage mix, sealed the bag, then shook it good.

You can serve it up immediately, or let it sit in the fridge to soak it all up for a few hours.

I don’t have an estimate of the price comparison, but for the cabbage and almonds (which are the only things I bought to make this salad, since I already had all the other ingredients at home) it comes to $6.98, and it makes 2 big containers in comparison to Whole Foods.  Now if I didn’t buy the pre shredded cabbage, I probably could have saved even more $$ but, I like the convenience of the pre shred.

Blackberry & Kiwi Jam

8 May

I haven’t thought of a name for this jam yet.  I’m into weird names or nicknames for things I make.  Lately I have been considering song titles, I will make a jam that is deemed appropriate to be named “Bad Romance” I am thinking this one could be it, but I would need a tasting panel for final vote.

Anywho.  The deets.

This jam is ah-mazingly delicious.  The jams I have been making lately are more for english muffins or baguettes.  This one however, will be perfect for the classic PB&J.  Its been a while!

2 Pints Blackberries
7 Kiwis
1 Lemon
1 Cup Sugar
1 Low sugar/no sugar pectin pack

Kiwi’s must be season right now, as they are on sale for 5/$1.00 at my local Henry’s.  I used to have the perfect little list of seasonal fruits and vegetables arranged by month, but I have no idea what happened to it.  :/

Peel and rinse all the kiwis.  You could go through the hassle of using an actual peeler, I use a small knife.  Clean the berries and juice the lemon, set aside the lemon juice.

Using a non-reactive pot, ie stainless steel, put your kiwis in and berries on about medium heat.  I cover them and let the fruit get warm, then I can go in with a potato masher and smush them all.  I haven’t yet bought a immersion blender, even though every time I am on Amazon I look at it and read tons of reviews.  Then later curse myself in the kitchen.

So obviously, next step is mushing.  Once that is done, stir in lemon juice and increase heat to medium/high.  Add your pectin, stir well, then add your sugar, blend until its all dissolved.

Increase heat to get a rapid boil that you cannot stir away.  Cook for 3 minutes.

Turn off heat and begin canning procedures, boil in a water bath, or freeze.

Makes about 6 jars.  

Tropic Thunder: Pineapple Habanero Jam

24 Apr

This ain’t yo mama’s jam.  Or your Grandmama’s for that matter.

Pineapple Habanero Jam.  I saw the idea on a Chowhound forum.  However, they added like 15 habaneros, without the seeds or ribs, and like 6 cups of sugar.  RIDICULOUS!

Pineapples are naturally sweet and acidic, which helps keep the entire batch maintain an acidic level for canning. I don’t think they is any reason to add a lot of sugar to any jam, personally.

2 Pineapples, free of skin
3 Habanero peppers with seeds and rib pieces
1 Cup Sugar
1 Pack low sugar pectin
3 Limes, juiced
Sea Salt

Sounds like a cocktail, I know.  I almost added rum, however I don’t have rum in my house, that’s the only reason.

I cut my first pineapple in half, then blended 1/2 of that and the other pineapple until is was smoothie consistency.  The other half I cut in fourths and cut them into thin triangular slices.  This was mostly for vanity in the jars, you’ll have the cloudy yellow of the pineapple, the diced peppers and thin triangles of pineapple in your canning jar.

I would suggest you wear gloves for cutting habaneros, I always do.  Dice your peppers into fine little pieces, nothing too microscopic.

Juice your limes, the 3 of them should yield almost 1/3 cup.

Add your Pineapple and peppers to a non reactive pot, ie stainless steel, or a Le Creuset French oven, which is what I always use.

Bring mixture to medium heat, almost bringing it to a boil.  I let it cook for about 10 minutes, because the blended pineapple is so foamy.  It brings it down a bit.

Add sugar and pectin, bring to a rapid boil that you can’t stir down.  Boil for 3 minutes.

Lower heat and add in lime juice, blend, and add about 3 grinds of sea salt.  Not a lot, just a tiny bit to balance out the acid.

Turn off heat and follow canning procedures, and seal in a water bath.
 Makes about 6 jars. 

Kombucha Bottling

22 Apr
During the last 3 weeks the Kombucha brew has been going on in my kitchen. Its no effort on my part, I periodically check the progress and then shoo away fruit flies. Today I bottled up one batch. The other batch looked like some mold grew on it, so I decided not to take a risk and threw it out.

I’ve used a lot of different juices to mix with the original solution.  The one I have found to be the best is Welch’s 100% juice, blueberry pomegranate mix.  Trust me, its the best.  I’ve tried juices from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  The Santa Cruz juices are okay, I have used the passion fruit and apricot juice with good results.  If you like the original taste then just bottle that.  Here is a picture of the SCOBY.

To jar up your kombucha, add 20z or 1/4 cup of juice to each bottle.  Then add the kombucha brew, leaving some head space.  I kept all my GT’s Kombucha jars to reuse for bottling, they are the best to use, believe me, I tried other jars, they didn’t work.  Seal the bottles tightly and store on the counter or shelf out of direct sunlight.  Keep there for 3 days, on the afternoon of the third day, move bottles to the fridge.  The 3 days allows the bacteria to process the extra sugar from the juice, this also adds carbonation, which to me is essential.

If you are going to brew your own you want to save 15-25% of the first tea batch and the SCOBY, you can either start a new batch immediately or put it in the fridge (which will halt bacteria growth). I just put another gallon of water on to boil, so another batch! Since the weather has been so hot here I think it will grow a lot better this time and faster.

Kombucha

22 Apr
If you don’t know what Kombucha is, your probably not alone. I think that unless you are the super hippie/natural foods/new age/organic tip line you have no idea what it is. Or you have seen it at Whole Foods and then saw the floaties in it and thought “Hell NO”.

Hey, I used to agree with that statement. The first Kombucha I tried was a Synergy mango drink, and it was so effervescent and vinegary tasting that I couldn’t drink, and I love vinegar on everything! I mixed it with half a bottle of Pellegrino and finished it, as to not waste money, it was like $4! Thats a lot for 16oz. After a while I tried another flavor, then another, then I found myself buying a couple every Friday, then some to keep in my fridge throughout the week.

So what the hell is it? Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that has been used for centuries for medicinal healing. According to GT’s brand he starting cultivating it when his mother was battling breast cancer and it helped her a lot. Kombucha is chock full of amino acids, enzymes and probiotics. Early research reports of the drink are listing benefits for stomach, digestive, and intestinal disorders. There are also claims that it helps with cancer therapy, obesity, treating arthritis, constipation, impotence, and kidney stones. I found that information here.

The only claim I can say is true is the probiotics, I drink this when my stomach hurts, and it helps a lot.  I have recommended it to people who are sick and they felt a lot better afterwards.  I enjoy drinking it, but unfortunately its an expensive habit. I don’t like spending that much money on a puny little 16oz. I do believe in the drink and I’m all about probiotics, especially since when I get sick it always seems to be stomach ailments. So what to do now?

Home brew.

So I brewed up some Bucha last week and its been in glass jars for 7 days now. The mushroom is forming, looks gross and its really annoying because the scent is attracting a plethora of fruit flies.
After some googling I found that they can live off the gas that is evaporating from the containers.
I’ll never get rid of these fucks. I even put the containers in the oven and they got in there.

Oh well. Here are some pictures (and the recipe) of what’s been done. I will take photos of the mushroom a bit later.

You need 1 gallon of purified or filtered water, 1.5 cups of sugar, and about 6-8 bags of black tea.

Bring water to boil, add sugar, stir and add tea bags, turn heat source off.

Let steep for 10 minutes

Add mixture to large glass 1 gallon container and bring to room temperature. This takes a while. I added an ice water mix to the pot I boiled it in and set the tea mixture inside it, one at a time until it cooled.

Once the tea has cooled to room temperature, add a bottle of the 100% raw unprocessed GT’s Kombucha. I used the original formula, which is the only one you’ll want to use. I used the already made stuff because I didn’t have a Kombucha mother and I didn’t want to buy one online when I could make one myself.

Cover the top with a paper towel or cloth and seal around with a rubber band, this allows the tea to breath, as the bacteria will need oxygen to survive and breed. Store in an area that isn’t in direct sunlight, I had it on the bottom of my kitchen cart then moved it over to the oven.

Yo-Yo-Yogurt

22 Apr
Why would I want to make yogurt? Well, most importantly because I like to control things. Secondly I’m cheap. The yogurt I eat is expensive, at Costco its $5.75/32oz. I typically will only eat Fage Greek yogurt. Now I can buy a half gallon of milk for under/about $3, and get about 60oz of yogurt. Awesome.

So, I am not going to buy a yogurt maker. I can make it in my slow cooker, why buy another appliance. Unless of course I find a really nice one online for cheap, but that rarely happens.

So here is my experience with yogurt making if anyone wants to try it, it takes very little effort on your part.

Start off with a pasteurized milk, I used ultra pasteurized for my last batch and it took long to thicken. Although it may have been because I used 1% milk instead of 2%. Actually I think the fat % had more to do with it. Okay, so anyway, use ultra pasteurized or just pasteurized. I want to try a batch with raw milk, for funzies. I never drink milk, but I love yogurt, weird, and I have no idea how raw milk would do for yogurt, interesting.

Anyway, this recipe is adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking. I changed a few things.
Ingredients:
A half gallon of milk, fat % of your choice.
A 6oz container of PLAIN yogurt. I used Fage Greek yogurt for my first batch. Then I used Stoneyfield, plain. (note: Stoneyfield is a good brand to use because it offers 5-6 probiotic bacteria species than other yogurt, fuck Activia, just sayin)

Steps:
1) Pour into crockpot, and set on “low” for 2 1/2 hours.
2) Turn the crockpot off, and let the milk sit for 3 hours.

3) After 3 hours, scoop out 2 cups of milk and put into a mixing bowl. Add the 6oz of yogurt and blend well. Add the mixture back into the crock pot and gently stir together, I use a 8 figure formation.

Now, the reason I say to gently stir is because the heat breaks down the lactose molecules and if there is consistent shaking/stirring the yogurt doesn’t do well. Once you stirred the mix back in, DO NOT STIR AGAIN.

4) What I do after this step is grab a mason jar, fill with hot tap water and put in my temperature gauge, I got it at Target for like $7. I put the jar in the mixture and put the lid back on the crockpot.

I take the ceramic bowl out of the crockpot shell, and put the bowl on a heating pad, and turn it to “high”. I also cover the bowl with a thick terry cloth towel. So its almost incubating.

I start the yogurt process in the early afternoon, then do the heating pad into the evening, and overnight to thicken.

Watch your temperature, it should be between 100-120, I like to see it at about 110F.

Yes, that yellow/green liquid is supposed to be there, its the natural whey extract from the milk.

Ok, I don’t know why I strained the whey this time, however, I have you can use the liquid whey to make bread, or give to your pets, which I think is really cool. Then you’d want to strain it to remove any yogurt particles.

I remove most of the whey, like I said, I like really thick yogurt. If you keep the whey in, it makes the yogurt thinner.

Once I have removed all the whey, I stir the yogurt very well until it is completely smooth. Then I put in these pretty little French terrain jars. I bought them at the Container Store. Put in fridge and let it refrigerate for 24 hours.

Now, its hit or miss with incubation times. I did the incubation for almost 24 hours last time, and I think it was because I used the lower fat % milk. I think making yogurt is super cool, and I am going to experiment with making yogurt dips next, I’m pretty sure I have figured it out.

I don’t add any fruit to it until I put it in bowls to serve or pack for my lunch. Typically I will add some raw honey, sliced almonds and fresh fruit. Its so delish.

Do You Know the Muffin Man?

22 Apr
I was driving around my hood yesterday, on the way to get my haircut and saw two large lemon trees full of yellow ripe lemons. I thought “Oh delicious” then the thought quickly went out of my mind as I entered my salon. Driving around today I thought I wanted to make some Lemon Poppy Seed muffins, so here it is:

I adapted the recipe from imafoodblog.com
2/3 cup sugar
zest and juice of 2 small lemons
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup non fat plain yogurt
2 large eggs**
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup Sliced Almonds
*If you do not have wheat flour, just use 2 cups all purpose
**I typically use Ener-G Egg replacer for all my baking, 5 cal for each “egg” instead of 70, yes please.

Preheat oven to 400F

In a large bowl, rub together the sugar and lemon zest until the sugar is moist and you can smell the lemon. I like a lot of lemony flavor, so I also pulled some of the pulp from the lemon to add in. Not a lot, just a few pieces.

Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, butter and applesauce until well blended.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and with a rubber spatula gently and quickly stir to blend. Do not over-mix.

Stir in the poppy seeds.

Stir in the sliced almonds

Divide the batter evenly in 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 18-20 minutes

Do a fork test to make sure they are done, and if it comes out clean, your good. Let them cool for like 5 minutes if you can. I couldn’t.

Eat up, then check teeth for poppy seeds.

These also freeze well, I like to double batches and freeze them for a quick nom treat.

Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade

22 Apr
I sat at my dining table for at least an hour chopping up meyer lemons into itty bitty triangles. I am the lemon queen.
This is the first time I have tried marmalade, and I didn’t want to buy some from the store, do you know how much sugar they put into it? Holy S! Its ridiculous! Its going to taste bitter no matter what because of the rind, I made my jams with honey only up to yesterday. I had to use some sugar for the marmalades, I used less than recommended, I think they came out just fine.

Marmalades take forever, and I probably won’t make them again. I don’t like the bitterness.
I found several recipes online and they were all confusing and not what I wanted. So here is a recipe with lower sugar than most.

10 Meyer Lemons
2 cups sugar
1 Vanilla Bean
5 Cups water
1 Cheesecloth*

Prepare your canning jars, sterilize them and have them waiting with your equipment. Put a small plate into the freezer.

Chop off the ends of the lemon, set aside. Cut up lemons into little triangle, save all membranes and seeds, set aside with the lemon ends.
Wrap the lemon ends and all those bits and pieces into the cheesecloth so you can “steep” it into the mixture. Secure it with bakers twine.

Add lemons, 5 cups of water and the lemon bag and bring to a boil, then simmer on medium heat for about 20-30 minutes. This should release the natural pectin in the rinds and seeds.

Taste a lemon to see if the rind is soft. If its to your liking, remove the seed bag and set into a bowl to cool. I turned off the heat while the bag cooled and worked on my jars and such. Once the bag is cool enough, ring it out to squeeze the last bit of pectin out, it should be cloudy, almost cream like consistency. Add that to the lemon mixture.

Cut your vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape all the beans out with the tip of your knife. Add to the mixture. Cut the remaining bean into small strips and add into the pot as well.
Add your sugar, bring mixture to a boil for 30 minutes or until it has jelled to your liking, use the plate in the freezer and drop a bit on it to see if it starts to hold it shape. If it is runny, you can continue to cook it. I am not a stickler on this, I ended up cooking mine for about 45 minutes then canned it.

Pour mixture into jars when ready and seal them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (depending on where you live)

*Side note: If you have a juicer you can skip the cheesecloth bit.  Take all the seeds and membranes and juice them.  You will get a thick pudding like liquid, this is the pectin left in the rind.  This yields almost 1/3 a cup.  The best part is that you don’t have to use a cheesecloth, which is annoying.