Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shishito Peppers - Recipe

     Here is a fun way to eat Shishito Peppers.  I got them from Shenandoah Seasonal at the Farmer's Market in Ashburn, VA.  They are so beautiful and tasty.  They are generally not too hot, but once in awhile you will find one with a bit more kick to it.  They fry up quickly and are fun to eat holding the stems.  On top I drizzle the garlic infused oil from Taste of Old Country, also from the Ashburn Farmer's Market.

Shishito Peppers

(Appetizer for 4)

1/4 lb. Shishito Peppers with stems
Palm Oil for frying
Olive Oil infused with Garlic for drizzling
Salt to Taste

Poke the peppers with a cake tester or fork to allow steam to escape and keep it from bursting.  Heat a saute pan on medium low.  Add just enough palm oil to coat the pan.  I use palm oil when frying, because it tolerates the high heat.  Add the peppers and saute, stirring often, for 5 minutes until they start to get some brown spots.  Do not overcook.  Remove peppers from pan and place in a serving bowl.  Allow them to cool enough to be able to handle.  Have guests place the peppers on a plate, top with the infused oil, and salt to taste.  Pick up the pepper with the stem and eat, discarding the stem.

Shishito Peppers from the farmer's market.

Frying the peppers.

Shishito Peppers with olive oil infused with garlic.

Green Tea Flavored Pots de Crème - Recipe

     Pots de Crème is a heavenly, smooth, baked custard made with eggs, sugar, cream and milk. I was planning an afternoon tea and wanted to make a Pots de Crème.  But what flavor should I do?  Well it is an afternoon tea so why not a tea flavored custard?  How about a green tea flavored Pots de Crème?  Would it work?  Why not?  Why not infuse the cream and milk with loose green tea leaves?  But for my custard, I would not have it sickeningly sweet.  I wanted the gentle flavor of the tea to come through and not be overpowered.  So I tried the following proportions below and what came out was the most smooth, refreshing desert ever.

Green Tea Pots de Crème

(Makes 6 4-oz. Ramekins)

5 Egg Yolks
1/2 c. Cane Sugar
2 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
1 c. Whole Milk
1/4 c. Loose Green Tea Leaves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Start heating some water to a simmer in a tea kettle for a water bath.  In a large heat proof mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together.  Add the sugar slowly whisking continuously then set aside.  Combine the heavy whipping cream, whole milk, and tea leaves in a sauce pan over medium low heat stirring occasionally until it scalds (reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit).  Strain it through a fine mesh sieve. With a whisk add a tiny bit of the egg mixture to the cream whisking quickly.  Add the cream mixture to the egg mixture a tiny bit at a time whisking constantly until all the cream mixture is incorporated into the egg mixture.  Spoon any foam off the top and discard.  Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a large measuring cup.  Place 6 (4-oz.) ramekins in a roasting pan and pour the custard into them.  Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan filling halfway up the sides of the ramekins to create a hot water bath.  This will protect the sides of the custards from cooking too quickly and unevenly.  Place all into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the custard jiggles slightly when shaken.  Check to make sure it reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit in the center with an instant read thermometer.  When done, remove ramekins from the water bath and place on a cookie sheet.  Then place the whole thing into the refrigerator.  When cool, cover with plastic.  They should set for 3 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Energy Bars - Recipe

Chewy energy bars!  Trail bars!  Snack bars!  Chocolate covered bars!  I love these for so many reasons!

Reason number 1)  The sunflower butter is fantastic and gives it great flavor.  I use an organic sunflower butter with no sugar, Sunbutter Organic.

Reason number 2)  These bars have a lot of energy packed into them and are sweetened with maple syrup in the cereal, brown rice syrup in the mixture holding it all together, and dark chocolate on top.

Reason number 3)  The cereal used is key to the success of these bars.  My Coconut Granola recipe stays light and crispy amid the chewy raisins, and sunflower butter/syrup mixture.  Using store bought cereals may yield a tough texture.  For best results use Coconut Granola Recipe.

Reason number 4)  Chocolate.  Dark chocolate to be exact. Enough said.

Reason number 5)  It is very easy to make.  No baking involved once you have the cereal made.

Energy Bars

(Makes 24 (1 1/2-inch) Squares or 12 (1 1/2 x 3-inch) Bars)

3 c. Coconut Granola Recipe
1/2 c. Sunflower Butter (organic, no sugar)
1/2 c. Organic Brown Rice Syrup
3/4 c. Dark Chocolate Chips

     Grease a (7x11-inch) baking pan.   Place the granola in a large heat proof mixing bowl.  Have this in place now, because once the syrup mixture is ready it needs to be added immediately.  Measure out the sunflower butter.  Heat the rice syrup in a small sauce pan on low to medium heat stirring constantly until it simmers.  Remove from heat.  Add the sunflower butter, stirring quickly until smooth and incorporated.  Immediately pour into the granola and quickly mix with a spoon before it hardens too much.  Transfer mixture to the greased pan and pat down evenly with the back of a spoon.  If it sticks, grease the back of the spoon.  Melt the chocolate chips on low in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, stirring constantly.  Pour over the top of the bars.  Let sit until set.  Slice into bars or squares.

Bars before chocolate.

Side view.

Chocolate setting up.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Coconut Granola - Recipe

     Here is an awesome granola recipe.  The secret ingredient is coconut oil.  It enhances the flavor of the whole cereal with a subtle deep coconut flavor.  People trying this cereal will notice something really good, but won't be able to put their finger on what it is.  I like to use quick cooking Irish rolled oats mixed with a little brown rice flour.  This makes for a light crisp cereal that is easy to chew.  No huge chunks to bite into here.  I also use all organic or Non Gmo ingredients as much as possible.  Sourcing my maple syrup from our local farmer's market also makes this cereal a special creation that I look forward to waking up to in the morning.  I have lot of pictures to share, because I am so excited about this recipe.

Coconut Granola

(Makes 8 cups)

4 c. Quick Cooking Rolled Oats
1 c. Large Coconut Flakes
1/3 c. Brown Rice Flour
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Finely Ground Celtic Sea Salt
1/2 c. Coconut Oil
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 c. Maple Syrup
1 c. Sprouted Pumpkin Seed
3/4 c. Green Seedless Raisins
3/4 c. Red Seedless Raisins

     Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut, rice flour, cinnamon, and salt.  Place the coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup in a sauce pan and heat on low heat whisking constantly.  When the oil is melted remove from heat and let cool untill luke warm.  Pour the oil/maple mixture into the dry ingredients stirring constantly with a large spoon.  Continue to stir until the dry ingredients are well coated and the oil/maple mixture is well distributed.  Pour onto a greased jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) and bake for 30 minutes, turning the cereal over with a spatula half way through the baking time.  The coconut will begin to get a light brown color when done.  Cool in the pan and return to a clean, large bowl.  Mix in the pumpkin seeds and rasins.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Coconut Oil, Vanilla, and Maple Syrup heated in a sauce pan.  The Coconut Oil is all melted here.

Cereal before going in the oven.

Cereal after 30 minutes in the oven.

Mixing in the Pumpkin Seeds and Raisins.

I keep a little scoop in the container so I don't have to go hunting for one each time.


Served with milk.

Coconut Granola with watermelon and my morning egg.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Watermelon, Burrata, Basil, and Balsamic Salad - Recipe

     I have found a most wonderful Italian style cheese called burrata.  It is fresh mozzarella but with a twist.  Think of a fresh mozzarella balloon filled with a mixture of fresh mozzarella curds and cream (the mixture is called stracciatella).  It is a squishy, poochy pillow of goodness with a cute mozzarella knot on the end to hold it all inside.  On its own it is wonderful.  However, it is an adventure pairing it with other foods.  Watermelon, fresh mozzarella, basil, and balsamic vinegar is a classic salad, but I tried using the special burrata cheese instead of regular fresh mozzarella.  Here I decided to use a grass fed water buffalo burrata from Buf Creamery and a delicious, thick balsamic vinegar from Taste of Old Country.  That way I don't have to reduce the balsamic on the stove.  This is very easy to assemble and great to serve guests.  If you want extra cheese, feel free to double the amount of burrata.  No one will complain.


Watermelon, Burrata, Basil, and Balsamic Salad

(Serves 4)

1 8lb. Watermelon
1 4.4 oz. Burrata from Water Buffalo
16 Fresh Basil leaves
1/4 c. Thick Balsamic Vinegar or to taste

Scoop the watermelon into balls using a (1 1/2-inch) cookie dough scoop or melon baller and place on a serving platter.  The melon baller will yield smaller balls.  Slice the burrata and place on top of the water melon.  Distribute the basil leaves among the watermelon balls and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.

Friday, August 19, 2016

World Photo Day


     Today is International World Photo Day so what does one post on that day when one takes so many pictures it is impossible to choose?  And when there are so many millions of wonderful photographs uploaded to the internet every second of every day?  Well, food of course.  I never tire of photographing this subject.  It cooperates so well.  It doesn't move or wiggle or get impatient.  It doesn't say it doesn't want its picture taken or anything like that.  It simply sits there and looks yummy with its beautiful colors and flavors.  Yes, you can almost taste it when you look at it.

     The top photo is my salad I was devouring this week.  The farmer's market had gotten in a new batch of spring mix greens.  I added some melon balls and garlic infused olive oil.  Also I drizzled on some raspberry infused balsamic vinegar.  Don't think they would go together?  I beg to differ.  I nearly scarfed down the whole thing before I took the picture.  I get these lovelies at the Ashburn Farmers Market from Taste of Old Country.  Oh, they ship too.  I am having a lot of fun figuring out ways to use these oils and vinegars.

     The picture below is a sneak peak into the future.  A future recipe post or cookbook entry that is.  It is French Onion Soup topped with a waffle and melted cheese.  We are not ready for the fall food yet, but I can't help myself.  I love soup and I had a craving for French onion, so I whipped up this extremely rich one with a beef bone broth base.  Not just any bone broth, but bone broth pressure cooked for 8 hours.  Thanks to the fast forward cooking of the pressure cooker that is as good as a 24 hour simmer in only an 8 hour time frame.  The result?  A superbly flavored soup base for your onion soup.  Now as far as the waffle goes?  Don't judge me.  I did not have any French bread, and it fit nicely in the bowl.  It worked great.  Toast it first to get nice and crusty then pop it on top of the soup.  Add some cheese of choice, white cheddar here, and then broil in a broil safe bowl till bubbling.  Stay tuned for this one.  

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Three Flour Pumpkin Waffles - Recipe

     Traditionally we eat waffles for dinner at my house.  It is what I make when I want something fast and easy.  They are fun to make too as the aromas are wonderful while they bake in the waffle iron and are stacked on a serving plate.  There is something comforting about that little beep of our electric waffle iron, signally it is time to take out the waffle.  When I hear it, I know that something good is on the way.     
     Today I present my new favorite waffles.  I love a waffle that is rich, satisfying and almost completely whole grain!  Only 1/4 cup white flour is all I need to help hold these babies together.  The other two cups of flour are rustic stone ground rye flour and brown rice flour.  Pumpkin is such a delicious way to add healthy vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and fiber to the diet.  When I think of waffles, I crave these.

Three Flour Pumpkin Waffles with butter, maple syrup, and sour cream.

Three Flour Pumpkin Waffles

(Makes 9 4x4 inch Waffle Squares)

Batter for Three Flour Pumpkin Waffles.
1 c. Brown Rice Flour
1 c. Stone Ground Rye Flour
1/4 c. White Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 (15-oz.) can Cooked Pumpkin
3/4 c. Goat Yogurt or Cow Yogurt
1 1/4 c. Water
2 Eggs
2 T. Real Maple Syrup or Sugar
1/2 c. Olive Oil
Palm oil for greasing waffle iron

Real Maple Syrup
Sour Cream

     In a large bowl whisk together the rice flour, rye flour, white flour, salt, and baking powder.  In another large bowl whisk together the pumpkin, yogurt, water, eggs, maple syrup, and olive oil.  If you don't have real maple syrup you can substitute sugar.  Before heating the waffle iron, lightly grease it with palm oil.  While you preheat the waffle iron, stir the wet ingredients into the dry just until the dry are incorporated.   Begin making the waffles.  You may need to adjust the temperature to find the sweet spot.  They will be nice and brown when fully cooked and come out of the iron easily when approached from the edge.  The outside will be slightly crusty and the inside soft and fluffy.  Serve with butter, maple syrup, sour cream, or your favorite topping.