Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WW: Vegetarian Five-Spiced Tofu

Wok Wednesdays wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by the fabulous Grace Young

This was such a beautiful looking stir-fry!

Grace recommends using fresh water chestnuts, for they are far more superior than the canned. She even suggests substituting jicama, Asian or Bosc pears, if fresh is unavailable. This I did not know - for I have a habit of reading the entire recipe at the time of prepping and not beforehand. If I had known, I would have made an effort to find fresh.

I normally pass on recipes calling for tofu. Never have been of fan of it myself, though my husband loves it. He thought it was good in this dish - me, I did not care for it. I thought it to be a bit tough and on the dry side.

The flavor of this stir-fry was on the mild side; it did not have the wow factor that I have come to expect from past recipes.

It's very rare that a recipe from this book doesn't excite me. Can't win them all I guess!

Stay tuned for our next WW recipe: Stir-Fried Chicken with Pineapple and Peppers

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Five spice tofu

Bowl 2: Garlic

Bowl 3: Carrots, red & yellow bell peppers, mushrooms

Bowl 4:  Salt, pepper, sugar

Bowl 5: Soy sauce, dry sherry, sesame oil

Bowl 6: Water chestnuts, scallions, pickled ginger

Bowl 7: Cilantro

One rule of the Wok Wednesdays group is we are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 205 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed. 
Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book 106: Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook

by Joe Yonan

A picture of this book popped up in my news feed on FB, and I knew I had to have it - I'm a sucker for a beautiful cover; I loved the rustic look of the cover photo of grilled asparagus. I popped over to Amazon to leaf through it and the first photo I saw was this galette. I wanted to make it right then and there.

I rushed down to my local bookstore to purchase a copy. As soon as I got home I plopped myself down on the sofa to read through it. Not only am I liking the recipes I'm reading, but I love his essays he has scattered throughout the book of his adventures of family farming, forgetting the clock (cook by smell/sight), a peek behind the scenes of that beautiful stand you swoon over at the farmer's market and more.

I enjoyed this book so much, I went back the very next day and purchased another copy for our daughter and dropped in the mail the same day. She thanked me, and informed me that she follows him on twitter. Mom scores!

This recipe would make a great addition to your Thanksgiving menu, as well as this book to your cookbook collection.

You don't have to be single to enjoy this book!

This is the first recipe I have made (or come across) that uses the kale stems as well.

If the filling looks a little sparse, that is because I doubled everything but the mushrooms (I had, what I had..), and I forgot to add the kale. If I had made this with the correct amount of mushrooms, this could have been even better, and it was darn good as it was.

First layer of sweet potatoes (I used a yam). I should have started from the center and worked my way out, being the bottom will become the top when flipped. Yes, after cooking, the galette is flipped out onto a plate. You could serve it straight from the pan, but where is the fun in that?

Looks pretty, even without the kale.

Once realizing I forgot the kale, I gave it a quick sautée in a little oil until wilted, and all was well.

 Looks so beautiful I did not want to cover it up!

Cover the filling with the remaining slices of potato. After baking in the oven, you are instructed to brown the potatoes under the broiler to brown. I did, but next time I will skip that step. No need since the galette will be flipped onto a plate.

Fingers crossed.

 Whew! Only three pieces stuck to the pan. :)

Once the galette is flipped onto a plate, it is sprinkled with some green onion and toasted walnuts.

Meals like this make me think.. going vegetarian wouldn't be so difficult; but the hubby makes a mean grilled chicken, among other things.

I had this for lunch two days later - it was just as good, if not better.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

TWD: Johnnycake Cobblers | Raspberry-Fig Crostata

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Bakers: Johanne Killeen (#1) / Leslie Mackie (#2)

This week we had the option of making one of two recipes.  I decided on both, after reading how easy they each were to put together.

Dessert #1

This cobbler comes together quickly and can be made on a moments notice; especially if you have some fruit laying around that needs using up.

I wish I had fruit laying around - it probably would have been more flavorful. I used a combination of white peaches, white nectarines, and plums. The peaches and nectarines were a tad on the firmer side (equates to not being super flavorful). The plums - perfect. However, they pretty much disintegrated after sautéeing.

The biscuit topping calls for stone-ground white cornmeal (there is an actual cornmeal called johnnycake meal - hence the name of the dessert). I went with your basic Alber's yellow corn meal. The corn meal gives a nice pleasing crunch to the biscuit topping.

The instructions say to bake the cobblers until the topping is a nice golden brown, which mine were. So very beautifully browned. Yet, they were a bit raw in the center. You may want to take a wooden skewer and test it before pulling them out of the oven, and if they are raw, but browned, cover with a piece of aluminum foil and continue baking till done.

To me, these were just OK. I'm thinking some cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom added to the filling would be a nice addition.

 Dessert #2

Easy as this is to make, it's not as quick as dessert number one. Once the dough is made, it needs to chill for one hour before rolling out, and again for another thirty minutes after the tart is filled (the filling needs to cool to room temp as well) and completed. The tart also needs to cool completely before slicing. Do not cut into it while still warm as I did, no matter how much you want to. The filling will start to ooze out. This does not make for a very visually appealing slice of pie.

If you look closely at the photo, you will notice this is not your typical lattice work. Normally you place your strips across the pie in even increments, then you fold back every other strip and lay a single strip perpendicular to the parallel strips. Unfold your parallel strips over the single strip, then fold back the opposite strips of last, placing another single strip as before, and continue in this manner until your pie is covered.

Here she has you place one strip vertically down the left side of your tart and then place the next strip horizontally across the top of the tart, crossing the first. You continue this way until your pie is covered. Not only is this way easier and quicker, but there is no way this dough would hold up being folded back and forth as described above. I had a few instances where my dough would break upon transferring from the cookie sheet to the tart.

This dough has an interesting flavor and texture. The texture is almost cookie like, not flaky like your typical pie dough. And the toasted almonds and sesame seeds give it a touch of earthiness.

At first, having a slice of this beautiful dessert slightly warm, I was not impressed. I took half of the pie to a friends house, and she and her husband thought it was tasty, as did my sister, who I took a slice to as well. My sister says the crust reminds her of those cookies at Christmas time that come in the big blue tin - the ones that are shaped like a pretzel. Really the only resemblance is the coarse sugar topping (they are a butter cookie). But that's OK. I think those cookies are delicious. 

However! Having another slice the following morning and then again two days later (hope you are not reading this Kelley! :}), I thought it to be quite good. It's so much better cold.

You simmer half of the fruit with some sugar, flour, lemon zest and butter (as I type this, I don't recall adding butter..) until the fruits break down, release their juices, and the liquid thickens.  Then you add the remaining fruit and some lemon juice to taste.

The dough did not feel sticky to the touch, but it did stick to my rolling pin. I ended up rolling it between two pieces of parchment paper. The dough for the lattice topping is cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips. (As you can see, I cut my strips closer to 1/4-inch-wide.)

The parchment paper made for an easy transfer to the pie tin. (Rather than trying to lightly roll the dough over the rolling pin to transfer.)

After the tart has chilled, brush with egg white and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Do hop over to browse the TWD LYL: Johnnycake Cobbler/Raspberry-Fig Crostata link, to see what recipe was chosen by the other bakers from our talented group, and to see their take on these desserts.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Book 105: Jerusalem

by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi

I  originally went to the bookstore to purchase two books: Plenty from the same author as this book, and Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook by Joe Yonan. I love the Plenty cover, and I'm a sucker for a beautiful cover (this the reason I went to purchase Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single cook - and I am not single.)

However, Plenty is an all vegetable cookbook, as is Eat Your Vegetables mentioned above - so I decided on Jerusalem. A very good call. And I've only made this one recipe so far. I am so looking forward to several other recipes from this book.

These were incredibly easy to make and delicious to boot! Each time I had the book open to this recipe or had a photo of the burgers on the screen, my husband would say "those were really good".

I definitely will be making these again.

We had these awesome "burgers" for dinner (they are quite small - only a couple inches in diameter - the instructions even refers to them as meatballs, though they are a flat in shape, not round), served with a simple green salad. These would also make for a delicious hor d'oeuvre to bring to a party. You could even make them ahead. My husband said they were still just as tasty the next day; and the book mentions you can have them as a snack from the fridge.

The burgers are served with a sour cream and sumac sauce. Sumac was the only ingredient that was not readily available at any of my local grocery stores. But after a quick internet search, I discovered a small Mediterranean deli and market one city over. I was ecstatic to say the least - bring on more of these delicious recipes!

Yes, these are good. You gotta make em.

The makings of the sour cream and sumac sauce. 

The raw meat patties where quite delicate. I had to reform some of them as I picked them up to place them in the pan.

Out of the frying pan, and into the oven to finish cooking.

How delicious does this look?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

WW: Hot Pepper Beef

Wok Wednesdays wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young 






No matter what the language, it translates to delicious! 

(Translations taken from Google Translate)

Mise en place

Bowl 1: flank steak, garlic, soy sauce, cornstarch, rice wine, s&p, water, sesame oil

Bowl 2: red onion, ginger, red pepper flakes

Bowl 3: bell pepper, zucchini (I had a lonely zuke hangin' in the fridge that needed using up - tossed that in. The recipe calls for green bell pepper, though Grace herself will sometimes use a mixture of green and red. Me, I always switch out green bells for red - a personal preference.)

Bowl 4: salt

Bowl 5: ketchup, hoisin sauce, rice wine

You start out by searing the meat first. Then remove from the wok and set aside.

Toss the aromatics (onion, ginger, red pepper flakes) till fragrant, add the vegetable(s). Stir-fry for about ten seconds, then return the meat with their juices to the wok, along with the salt and ketchup mixture, and heat till the meat is just cooked through.

Serve, and be delighted!
This dish has amazing flavor.

One rule of the Wok Wednesdays group is we are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 85 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed. 
Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Book 104: Luscious Berry Desserts

by: Lori Longbotham

This recipe calls for tiny, wild blueberries - even suggests using the intensely flavored dried blueberries if you don't have access to the wild ones. The dried blueberries I have purchased in the past, were indeed intense in flavor - almost too much - not to mention they have added corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and sucrose. I prefer my dried fruit to be just that - fruit. Dried.

Well I had just purchased three quarts (last of the season) of fresh (not wild) blueberries from the farmer's market. Being they are larger than the wild berries, I used less than the three cups called for in the recipe. I did not measure, just eye-balled it, so I can't give you the amount I used.

The batter alone had the most heavenly scent from the lime zest and fresh thyme. I purposely did not wipe the bowl clean with the spatula as I normally do. I wanted to make sure there was a little (OK, a fair amount) left in the bowl for a wee little taste. Yum. This was going to be good.

My plan was to make, bake, and take this cake to my sister for her to bring into work the next day. Unfortunately, the cake stuck in the pan. This cake wasn't going to be going anywhere other than the trash. I don't know why it stuck like it did. I buttered and floured the pan as instructed. The same pan turned out this beautiful cake just a short time ago.

Even though I knew that I would be tossing it, I still went ahead and brushed the lime juice mixture over the cake, until it started to basically disintegrate, so I stopped. I was hoping for at least one slice of cake for a photo-op and taste test.

Without the lime juice mixture, the cake is very dry. You would not want to skimp on adding it - all of it. I grabbed a good chunk of this pitiful cake and dipped it in the juice for a taste. I do think this would have been a decent cake had it turned out for me.

 Thyme infused milk.

 The aroma and flavor of the batter was delightful.

 Can't wait..

 Excitement ensues..

Oh man..

The majority of the berries sunk to the bottom of the pan - which in turn is the top of the cake once unmolded. Doesn't look half bad from this angle - believe me, it was pretty sad looking.

 Yeah, not so pretty..

I almost did not post on this recipe. I thought who would want to read about a failure? Then I thought why not? I believe we should all share our fortunes, as well as our misfortunes. Because we all know that not everything works out like we hope it will. And for me, I like to see that others have issues besides myself; there are others (even the pros), aren't there?