Friday, September 28, 2012
As you can see I've been taking a break from blogging but I thought it might be of interest to some that I am pinning regularly to My Pinterest food board. Here you'll find the recipes I'm making or planning on making, with just a few notes.
Monday, March 12, 2012
I'm currently having a another revival of my Delia Smith books. For those not in the UK, I've written about the TV chef I grew up watching before, but this time round I'm obsessed with her breads in "How to cook book 1". She has a couple of interesting breads; one using potatoes and the other parsnips. Her recipes really are pretty much foolproof; she pays good attention to detail to ensure the end product really does look (and hopefully taste) like hers.
With bread in mind, I got some fresh parsnips at my local farmers market; my town of Suffern is having a fabulous monthly winter market. I love parsnips but the supermarket ones are usually bendy and thoroughly unappetizing, so I happily snapped up a couple of lbs of the fresh ones.
In addition to the bread, I was planning on making a fantastic parsnip gratin with some of them. That will have to wait, as my husband and I enjoyed the bread so much that I made it twice, the second time doubling the recipe. No parsnip gratin this weekend.
As an aside, my kids are not so fond of this bread.; it's got quite an assertive flavor for a 3 year old. I did try the hard sell on "cheesy bread"; it oozes parmesan goodness when still warm, but still "no thank you" was the response. Onwards in my veggie eating quest.
I have changed a few things about this recipe as usual; Delia recommends sage in this recipe but I was all out so I added Dijon mustard. No regrets, although the sage would be delicious. I also subbed in some wholewheat flour and found it needed more milk than her recipe.
Parmesan Parsnip Bread
3/4 cup /4oz self rising flour (see below)
3/4 cup/ 4oz whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6oz peeled and grated parsnips
2 oz Parmesan cheese roughly chopped into 1/4 " cubes
3 tablespoons milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Preheat the oven to 375
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours salt and baking powder
- Add the parsnips and toss together ( I find clean hands work best)
- Toss in the cheese and mix again
- In a medium bowl, lightly beat together the eggs, milk and mustard
- Add the egg mixture to the flour.
- Mix until just combined; Delia suggests using a pallet knife, I use my hands but with a light touch
- The dough will be loose and sticky, if it seems too dry (such as in the winter here) add another tablespoon of milk
- Form the dough into a ball and place on a floured baking sheet or pizza pallet
- Flatten the ball into a disc approx 6" diameter
- Cut a cross on the top and place the bread in the oven
- Bake for about 50 mins or until golden on top
- Cool on a wire rack and serve
I love this with soup or a creamy cheese and sliced apples or pears.
Tips on this recipe:
Don't have self rising flour? For each cup of regular all purpose flour add
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In this recipe where only 3/4 cup self rising flour is required, I would add 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt to a scant 3/4 cup all purpose flour.
Monday, March 5, 2012
|Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars |
So, when it came time for my monthly girls get together, and therefore another excuse for me to bake, I chose to take the high road. I pulled out my Food and Wine Magazine, March 2011 issue and there was the perfect healthier recipe. It hit all my requirements; wholesome and yet totally quick and easy.
The cookies do have some butter for flavor but also a little canola oil, plus they are made entirely with whole wheat pastry flour. If you can't get that, I would suggest white whole wheat flour or half and half regular flour with regular whole wheat flour. You can choose to bake them as bars (as I did) or cookies (a little more time than I had available). The original recipe calls for toasted chopped pecans in addition to the chocolate chips but I didn't have any so added some cranberries.
My guinea pig buddies were enthusiastic and the recipe was requested; a good sign of success I think. They are really quite like a blondie with an extra bite.
Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used 60%)
1/2 cup cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Butter a 9 x 13" baking pan then line with parchment paper
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside
- Using your mixer, beat the butter, oil and sugar until creamy
- Add the egg and vanilla and beat again until smooth
- With the mixer on low speed, beat in the dry ingredients until just incorporated
- Finally add the chocolate chips and beat on low again until just mixed
- Turn the dough out into the baking pan and smooth out the top evenly using a spatula
- Place the baking try in the oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until golden and just set in the center
- Cool the bars in the pan and then lift them out onto a cutting board
- Peel away the parchment from the sides and cut into squares
Alternative substitutions that I think would be tasty:
- white chocolate chips and chopped dried apricots
- Dark chocolate chips and cherries
You could successfully freeze the cookies in the pan prior to baking (if well wrapped) or after baking. After baking I would not cut them, leave them as a slab and triple wrap in cling film.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
|Pea and Broccoli Soup|
My husband's parents recently visited us from Scotland. Actually they were at the end of an enviable round the world trip so were full of great stories. My Mother in law makes a great soup, so I immediately put her on soup duty while staying with us. She did not disappoint.
After they left and inspired by her, I resolved to make soups more often. My little one who is extremely veggie averse, will often eat a soup. It needs to be pureed into an orangy red color though... This one unfortunately doesn't meet her requirements but is nevertheless a delicious soup. It's creamy and smooth, hearty and healthy. I loved it, my older daughter enjoyed it and my husband could not get enough.
In was in "use it up" mode when I made this soup; I had a small amount of split peas needing finished, broccoli reaching the end of it's life and half a carton of veg broth needing used up. Here it what happened:
Pea and Broccoli Soup
1 medium onion chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced or chopped finely
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pinches dried thyme (or fresh if you have it)
3/4 cup split peas
3 small heads of broccoli chopped into small florets and stems chopped
1 1/2 quart/ approx 1 1/2 litres broth/stock ( I used half chicken half veg broth)
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat
- Add the onions and garlic and reduce to medium/low for approx 15 mins
- Cook the onions until softened and translucent not caramelized
- Stir in the thyme and cook a further couple of minutes
- Add the broth and split peas and bring to a boil
- Reduce to a simmer and cover for approx 15 minutes
- Add the broccoli and simmer a further 10 minutes or until everything is soft
- Adjust seasoning as needed the puree the soup
This soup has a creamy almost cheesy note to it, but if it's not hitting the spot, crumble either feta or goats cheese on top.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
This recipe is largely Rachel Allen's from her "Food for Living" book. However, unlike traditional scones or most wheaten bread recipes, these contain no butter. The small amount of cheese is not worth worrying about, particularly if you use a very strong cheddar which will yield lots of great flavor for a small sprinkling. Finally, I subbed in whole wheat pastry flour for half of the regular flour to up the wholegrain ante. You could just as easily sub regular whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour if you cant get whole wheat pastry.
All in all, you can feel good about your waistline while you tuck into these babies. As I explained in my last post, I served these with eggs poached in home made tomato sauce and they were just the ticket to sop up the sauce. Who doesn't love a bit of cheese with their eggs too? Obviously these are suitable for endless occasions. Rachel recommends a number of changes to the basic recipe; chopped chives, or other herbs, or go the sweet route with raisins or chocolate. Amazingly I haven't tried the chocolate option yet but it's just a question of time. It would be really delicious.
1/2 lb/ 1 3/4 cups regular flour
1/2 lb 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or whatever ww flour you have on hand)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
400 ml/ 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
3 oz grated strong cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 475°F or 250°C. If you have a pizza stone put it in the middle of the oven
- Place the dry ingredients on a bowl and mix well using a whisk
- Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk
- Stir in a circular motion using your hands until just mixed
- The dough will be soft but not so sticky that you cannot work with it.
- Place the dough on a floured board and shape it into a large flat round approx 3/4 in deep.
- Cut out the scones using a cutter of your choice or cut them into shapes (see above for my random ones!)
- Sprinkle and press a little cheese on the top of each scone
- Place the scones on a floured baking tray and into the oven. If you're using a pizza stone, slide the scones off a floured pizza paddle onto the pizza stone already in the oven
- Bake for 10-20 mins depending on the size of your scones.The scones will be done when they look golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Master this most basic of recipes and take it in 10 different directions. Chocolate chips are next on my list of add ins!
Thursday, January 26, 2012
|My Best Ever Homemade Tomato Sauce|
This is the tale of 4 yummy things:
Homemade Tomato Sauce
Basil olive oil
I've been thinking about eggs for dinner all week, but my husband is not such a fan. So I held off until he left for a business trip today, when I unfolded my plan. Eggs poached on homemade tomato sauce have long appealed to me, but only today did I actually get off my behind and make them. This dinner is ridiculously easy but rams home how good ingredients can result in the tastiest food.
Having bought a sizable quantity of San Marzano tomatoes last weekend I decided the moment was right to make a batch of tomato sauce. My 3 year old was (sort of) resting on the couch after lunch, so I set to work. I don't have a standard method of making tomato sauce, in fact we don't often eat it in this house. When I was pregnant with my second child the mere smell of store bought tomato sauce gave me instant nausea. To this day I still dislike most store bought tomato sauces but homemade is a different matter. Nevertheless, I knew it needed to be good, so I opened my "Jamie's Dinners" for advice.
Simply using garlic, tomatoes and a little of my new favorite ingredient; O&Co basil olive oil (Thanks Kirsty!) I made a simply delicious tomato sauce. If you can get your hands on some of this olive oil, buy it! It's subtle and yet amazing in it's ability to enhance the flavor of all sorts of dishes. I've used it in dressings, with my pea puree, and tonight, in the absence of fresh basil, it infused my sauce with an extra richness and extra something yummy. That said, fresh basil and good extra virgin olive oil would make a perfect substitute in this or any other recipe.
My Best Ever Homemade Tomato Sauce
|Eggs poached in Homemade Tomato Sauce|
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
3 large (28oz) cans of whole tomatoes (the best you can get; I used San Marzano) Do not break up the tomatoes until after the sauce is cooked. The tomato seeds may make the sauce bitter; yuck, I learned from experience in the past.
2 teaspoons olive oil (I used basil olive oil)
salt and pepper to taste (Go easy on the salt; your tomatoes may already be quite salty)
1 tablespoon basil olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan on medium and add the garlic.
- Cook gently for approx 3 minutes then add the tomatoes
- Cover and simmer the sauce for approx 30 minutes
- Turn the heat off and glug in the basil olive oil (or chopped basil leaves and olive oil) and balsamic vinegar.
- Gently break up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon or a potato masher
I served mine on top of Cheesy Sodabread Rolls. I thought it was simply delicious and it went down pretty well with the 5 and under crowd. The only objection was a yolk, but we worked around that!
Enjoy the sauce endlessly with pasta, fish, poached eggs, or cook your sausages in it.
Cheesy Sodabread recipe is next in line for the posting.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
|Quinoa pancakes; sorry about the poor photo quality; it was before 7am...|
It's been a month of excess and enjoyment in this house. I may be behind the majority but my New Year healthier approach to cooking and baking really only started yesterday.
And finally I am inspired to share again thanks to one of the (many) new cookbooks I got for Christmas. The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book has been a fabulous addition to my already overflowing bookshelves. It contains a wealth of information, tips and recipes on how to use whole grains without sacrificing any taste whatsoever. However, given my overdose of Christmas baking (some frozen) lasted us until last week; I could not, in all conscience, add more goodies to the snack cupboard until we were all done with the reserves.
Today, however, a cold is moving through our house and my little one woke up asking for pancakes. I couldn't say no; partly because (selfishly) it gave me the perfect excuse to try out the pancake section of my new book. The book gives me an excellent opportunity to use the whole grain flours I have been storing in my freezer, unused for months. Apparently whole grains go off much faster than their processed cousins so I now keep the less often used ones in my freezer. Today it was the quinoa flour that shouted to me.
So at 6:30a.m. I got out the baking bowls and we set to work. The batter has no fat or sugar added but manages to turn out a light, slightly sweet and earthy pancake. Very well received by all and it pleased this Mummy no end to send her brood off to school and work with a protein packed breakfast. My husband made some comment about feeling like he was in a hotel; I guess I haven't made a decent breakfast in a while! We had them with pumpkin butter and a touch of maple syrup but the recipe recommends maple syrup mixed with ginger syrup which sounds lovely to me.
Quinoa, ginger and cranberry pancakes
1 cup (3 7/8 oz) quinoa flour
1/4 cup (3/4 oz) whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 oz) milk
1/2 cup (4 oz) applesauce
1/2 cup (2 oz) dried cranberries
1/4 cup minced crystallised ginger ( I omitted; my kids have given it the curly lips in the past, but it would be delicious)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients ( not including the cranberries)
- In another bowl, whisk together the milk applesauce and egg.
- Mix the wet with the dry and stir until well mixed together; it will be quite runny.
- Finally stir in the cranberries and crystallized ginger if using .
- Leave the batter to sit for 10 minutes
- Heat a heavy skillet or griddle pan on medium
- Pour a 1/4 cup of the batter for each pancake.
- Cook until bubbles form and the edges just start to turn golden.
- Turn them over an cook another 1-2 minutes until golden.