Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mocha Pudding Pops

It is hot. I like things that are cold. I also like to have recipes that utilize things like almond milk, of which I have many containers of since school got out for the summer... Tales of the aseptic-sealed bean and nut milk mass abandonment of summer, 2009 are legendary!

Anyway... getting on with it... I am gifting you with the guide to my own first foray into frozen bars... or logging my work for my own future reference. The recipe is pretty tasty, but there are things I am going to try differently. Those notes will be after the recipe for me as well as you.

Mocha Pudding Pops

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 3 T dark unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
  • 5 t instant espresso powder
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 T tapioca starch
  • 1/4 t lecithin
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1/4 C raw almond butter
  • 2 3/4 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • pinch of salt

In a large saucepan whisk together the first six ingredients.

In a blender combine the almond milk, almond butter, and salt and blend until smooth.

Add about 1/4 cup of the liquid to the dry mix and whisk until smooth. Turn the stove onto medium, whisking constantly and adding the rest of the milk slowly. Add coconut oil, turn stove to medium high and switch to a rubber spatula, constantly stirring and moving the liquid that firms up on the bottom.

When the mixture comes to a boil, stir vigorously for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir for about 1 minute as it cools down, add vanilla extract. Let cool down for another 15 minutes, then pour into moulds.

You can also pour into ice cube trays, cover with saran wrap and stick in toothpicks, then freeze for about six hours. To remove from moulds, run hot water briefly over the moulds, and shimmy out.

Enjoy! They is no denying that these are indeed pudding pops.

And that is just it, they are indeed very pudding-like, even frozen. In the future I may reduce some of the starches... Also I would add the coconut butter after I kill the heat...but there you have it, I would make them again. So, cheers and happy summer! Hopefully I'll get that update on peaches in before I leave for Burning Man!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Sometimes I feel like summer is cruel. It is not a rational feeling, but rather a negative one that doesn't bask in the bounty but thinks of the future absences I'll face as the days shorten. In the moment, at Farmer's Markets, in the kitchen with my fruits of the earth, I do bask in the wonderful produce this season offers; secure that this season's goods will yield to new treasures (pears and apples I can hardly wait!) . Then I look over my photos, and see what has come and passed. These tomatoes are no longer here with me, rather they have been consumed. I smile, knowing that was their purpose.. but my smile would be even bigger if I had them with me now...

So today is a way you can stretch out your tomato supplies a little longer, while amping up the flavor, through a slow roast.

Directions are simple, ingredients minimal.

Tomatoes (Cherry, grape, and/or Roma)
Olive Oil
Unpeeled Garlic

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Quarter or halve your tomatoes and spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You should have some distance between your tomatoes. For my purposes, my tomatoes were closer together (they were used for a sauce). Drizzle with olive oil, a couple of cloves of garlic, and some fresh herbs (I used some thyme and oregano sprigs).

Place in the oven, and bake for about three hours. They should be shriveled, but still have a little bit of juiciness inside. Depending on the size of tomatoes, this could take more or less time. Let them cool, then pack them in a jar and cover them with olive oil.

These are good for salsas, pizza & sandwich toppings, stand alone snacks, hummus additions... They are just good. Period.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kitchen Improv 101: Eggplant Cutlets with "Breadcrumbs"

So many eggplants! My fridge is overrun with eggplants! Actually, that isn't entirely true. My fridge is overrun with eggplants, there are a whole lot... but my statement implies there was this sudden deluge. It has actually been an accumulation of these interesting, not-always-inspiring nightshades in my house..

It isn't that I don't like eggplant, but it seems that all the good things to do with these oblong fruits-in-disguise-as-vegetables require a couple of steps. Having moved a bit further away from my friends, the casual dinners that beg use of eggplants are harder to do.

So when my fridge cleaning yielded several eggplants from more than a few CSA shares, give/take (along with a couple of zucchinis) I decided it was time to do something about it... while also slaying the beast of other items that have accumulated in my kitchen that screamed "Use me, so I stop taking up space!"

The fruits of the day (or is that aubergine?) yielded several results... moussaka, baba ghanouj, and eggplant cutlets... using up the rest of my shredded wheat patties!

Anyway, this is a great non-recipe recipe to start feeling your way around kitchen improv. So onto the non-recipe!

Eggplant Cutlets with Shredded Wheat Bread Crumbs

Shredded Wheat
3 cloves Garlic, chopped

Vegan Milk of Choice
Rice Flour

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Slice the eggplants about 1/2 an inch thick.
Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil so it is lightly covered, then sprinkle the garlic over it.
In a flat dish Mix 4 parts non-milk with 3 parts rice flour (IE 1 cup milk to 3/4 c rice flour), mix until thick.
In another flat dish crush a few shredded wheats, mix with salt and seasonings of choice (I used black pepper, sage, and tekka)

Dredge the eggplant with the liquid coating, then coat with the shredded wheat mix. Place on baking sheet. Repeat until you run out of eggplant (or space, then either start a second sheet or wait for the first sheet to be done).

Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes remove from oven, flip cutlets over, and put in for another 10 minutes.

These are crunchy, addictive, tender.. and... sigh I do like them. They can be served straight, dressed up with a simple tomato sauce, put on sandwiches... Explore thine inner chef!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Slightly Savory Watermelon Salad

Seasons aren't the most fair entity here in the North East. For about six months a year the earth provides us with nothing, and then in June the fresh produce begins to trickle in: parsley, asparagus, lettuce, strawberries, garlic scapes... By August, the trickle becomes a torrential rainbow-like flood. We don't "just" have watermelon, there are yellow and red melons, beets in gold, and red, and stripes, tomatoes in purple, green, zebra, and so on. There are so many wonders and joys to thoroughly explore with all of your senses!

Unfortunately there is a little bit of a bottle neck in what the human body can consume in a given period of time, no less a limit on the time one has to cherish and worship this bounty in a manner it deserves. The best I can do is incorporate the wealth of my CSA.

Today's recipe is a veganized version of a pairing familiar to foodie dorks, mozzarella and watermelon. Yet, for some reason it has never quite become that popular; likely because watermelon seems to be regarded as a summer-season only produce that we wont hack nature to distribute in winter. This salad doesn't contrast the sweetness of the watermelon, rather compliments it with some slightly sweet slightly sour slightly savory flavors... The saltiness of the ume plum vinegar gives it a nice complexity, the black peppers and basil give it a little substance, and the tofu provides a fantastic textural contrast to the fleshy, juicy bursts of watermelon.

Before I go into the actual recipe, I want to give a little public service announcement on the watermelon rind. If you have the divine grace of getting your hands on an organic watermelon do NOT discard the rind. While the toughness of the green outer skin varies (the above is fairly tender and chewable, I have found solid dark green watermelons to be a little thicker in the rind), the flesh is similar to that of a cucumber. While I am sure there is no shortage of things to do with watermelon rinds, I eat them along with the sweet flesh. Pickling is something I intend to do one of these years...

Slightly Savory Watermelon Salad

1 small watermelon
1 medium bunch basil
1/2 pint of grape tomatoes
8 oz of silken or soft tofu, drained, dried
1 T umeboshi plum vinegar
Pink Himalayan sea salt
Pistachio Oil*

Cut the melon flesh off of the rind, and cut into cubes. Halve the grape tomatoes, Chiffonade the basil. Cube the tofu. Place in a bowl. Sprinkle with vinegar, oil, a few grinds of fresh pepper and a couple of gratings from a salt stone to taste... Toss gently, trying not to break up the tofu.

Serve. I consumed with chop sticks.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Banana Pecan Piloncillo Ice Cream

There are many joys to be found in cooking, one is the diversity of flavours you can find in different variants of the same ingredients. This recipe draws upon the not-so-familiar piloncillo sugar; an earthy brown sugar with hints of caramel. It has been around for at least 500 years and popular is popular in Oaxaca, though it is not commonly used here. Thankfully it can be easily found in many Latin American grocery stores. Like many less-refined sugars, it is not as sweet helping gift you with a creamy, yet light ice cream that plays nicely with others.

If you have not explored the bounty of sugars on they market, I would review a few guides to them.

This recipe is a veganized version from the lovely book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking (as has many of my recent updates, some more successful than others. This one falls under "more successful").

Banana Pecan Piloncillo Ice Cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3/4 c firmly packed, grated piloncillo*
  • 8 very ripe bananas, peeled, broken into pieces, sealed in a bag, and frozen**
  • 1/2 c cashew cream***
  • 1/2 c chopped, toasted pecans
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine 3 T water and the cinnamons stick. Simmer until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the piloncillo and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Remove the cinnamon stick from the syrup and pour the syrup into a blender. Add the cashew cream and bananas and blend until smooth and mushy.
Pour mix into ice cream maker and freeze according to directions. When the ice cream is nearly done, add the pecans, let mix. Transfer to a freezer-safe container.
* You can also use jaggery, or brown sugar, or some other unrefined sugar. I have used a mix of dominican sugar and jaggery.
** Alton Brown has a recipe that recommends freezing the bananas in their peel, then peeling them after about 45 minutes. I have not decided this is the must-do method for me, but I am going to continue to experiment with it.
*** I used a failure of a cashew-based ice cream. You can also use this recipe here.