Just Rhubarb.

It’s rhubarb season!  And so I’ve gone and made some rhubarb treats.  They’re nothing original, but they are simple, tasty, and fresh from the garden!!!

The first was adapted from a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine.  It can be found here.  The original recipe calls for raspberries, but I left those out.  The other change I added was sprinkle the top with chopped almonds and raw sugar before baking.  This was a delicious and fresh sweet treat!

The second thing I made was very, very similar.  But individual, aaaaaaand gluten-free.  Though I’m not gluten-free, I have attempted to begin baking at times gluten-free.  I have found that gluten-free baked goods do NOT taste good raw….but once they are cooked, they are deeeee-licious!

I used a gluten-free pie crust recipe found on epicurious.  And then for the compote, just boiled down some rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon, and citrus juice until it was thick.  Then made little pies from my imagination.  Let’s just call them mini, gluten-free, rustic, rhubarb tarts.  For a spring-time, Montana potluck, with local vanilla bean ice cream they were quite the hit!

Advertisements

Brunching on Easter

My sister is a pretty amazing cook.  Like really amazing.  I’m staying with her in Portland for a couple of weeks as I transition from Peace Corps back to real, fast-paced American life.  Just thought I’d share this meal we ate recently for Easter morning brunch.  Bacon-wrapped Eggs with Polenta and Spring Greens with Sherry Vinaigrette from Bon Appetit magazine.  Yum!


Bread ‘N Jam – Yummy!

There’s nothing like bread and jam.  Homemade.  I was recently inspired by a plum preserves recipe I found in an old issue of Food Network Magazine.  I’m not typically a huuuuuuge fan of this magazine, but when I travel, I seem to indulge in more entertainment-like magazines.  While doing some spring cleaning I came across this recipe, and with the plethora of plums available in my town at this time, I got super excited  and inspired to create my own plum jam, which in the end, I called Spiced Plum Jam, mainly because it’s quite different from this original recipe.

Aaaaaaaand, With the lack of good, whole grain breads here in Costa Rica, I have taken to making my own.  I wanted something beyond the typical whole wheat sorta flatbread bread that I always fall back  on.  I was craaaaaaaving a rustic, crusty-on-the-outside, holy-and-light-on-the-inside kinda bread.  So I went with Ciabatta.  Ciabatta is often called “Italian Slipper Bread” because it is a fairly wet dough and hence why it creates a slipper-like shape.  I did not realize that making ciabatta took so many steps, but it did, and in the end it was completely worth it.  Crispy, artisan bread and homemade sweet, fresh spiced plum jam.  Pure, simple goodness.

So first, here is the recipe for my version of the jam, which is super duper easy, by the way.

Spiced Plum Jam

6 cups sliced plums
1 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
Juice of one lime

Place the plums, sugar, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and allspice in a large, wide saucepan.  Squeeze the lime through a strainer into the pan.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, and the mixture boils, about 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 220˚F, about 25 minutes.  (To be sure that the mixture has reached the gel point, spoon some onto a chilled plate and put in the freezer until cool. The liquid should set; if not, continue to cook and retest after a few more minutes.) Remove the pan from the heat and let cool 30 minutes.

Enjoy fresh, and store in the refrigerator up to 10 days (if it lasts that long)!  Otherwise, prepare for canning procedures, which can be found here.

__________________

As for the bread recipe, I used this one, and the only difference I did was substitute the last 25 ounces of bread flour for whole wheat bread flour.  The rest I followed to a T.  And it turned out great.

Enjoy the bread toasted with cream cheese and jam, or butter and jam!  Also sliced bananas on it tastes great also!



Japanese…..y Soup!

The other day I found miso paste in my refrigerator.  I obviously forgot about it because normally I use those type of things right up!  It was unopened and something I picked up from an Asian market not too long ago.  Instead of making ol’ traditional miso soup, I cooked up this asian inspired sauté with miso broth.  It was so delicious, I ended up making it the very next day for a dinner guest.  It’s quite fast, healthy, and tasty!  And no really obscure, hard-to-find, asian ingredients required.

Japanese-Style Chickpeas and Vegetables in Miso Broth

2 Tbsp oil
1 very large green onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
I large carrot, sliced diagonally
1 large bell pepper, cut in 2-inch strips
1 16-oz can chickpeas
2 heaping Tbsp miso paste
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp Five spice powder*
Couple dashes of hot sauce
¾ cup white wine
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups water

In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the green onion and garlic, sauté 3-5 minutes over medium-low until the onion is soft.  Add the carrot and bell pepper, sauté another 5 minutes.  Add the chickpeas, sauté another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the miso paste, hoisin sauce, dried basil, five-spice powder, hot sauce, white wine, and salt and pepper.  Simmer on low until the wine reduces to about 1/3 of a cup and the mixture is coated in a thick liquid, but not too liquidy (the carrots and bell pepper should be slightly crunchy and al dente).  Add the water and simmer on low uncovered 15 minutes or until steaming hot.  Add more salt and pepper if desired.

*An asian spice whose main ingredients are star anise, cloves, cassia, Szechwan pepper and fennel seeds.  Can be found in most stores that have a good variety of spices.  This is one brand:


Carrots+Cookies=Carrot Cookies!

Yummmmm!!  I’m not gonna brag about how tasty these are.  Buuuuuuuuut, I’m going to, because they are!!!  Carrots, and cookies, and slightly sweet goodness!! Eat these up! And enjoy their health benefits (while getting your veggies)! 🙂

Here’s the recipe I came up with one bored, experimental day:

Carrot Cookies

1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 stick butter (softened)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
juice from 1/2  an orange
1 cup shredded carrots
2/3 cup raisins

Mix the dry ingredients (through the cinnamon) in a bowl. Stir well with a whisk.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, add the honey, vanilla, egg, orange juice, shredded carrots, and raisins.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.  Mix until no dry ingredients remain.

Drop by tablespoonfuls on a greased baking sheet.  Place in 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

ENJOYYYYY!!!


Colorado Peach Time (aka soup time)!

There’s nothing like coming home.  Home truly is where the heart is.  And for me that’s Colorado – where I spent my childhood, my youth, my life!  This place has shaped me, and that’s why I love to come back here.

Summer time in Colorado not only brings the most amazing sunsets, afternoon rain showers, picture-perfect farmer’s markets, wonderful summer meals on the deck, but also a bounty of produce.  And nothing compares to one item that is grown right here – Colorado Peaches.  They really do taste different than any other kind of peach.  That’s why, lately, I have been taking advantage of their bounty eating as many of them as I can before I go back to Costa Rica, where I currently live until May 2011.

(Summer meal of salmon and crab sliders with sauteed garden beet greens and zucchini with parmesan):

A recipe was taped to my parent’s cupboard when I got home, as many new and current recipes are for a short time until they are made, and as many have been since the 1980s I’m sure.  (left side: inside of cabinet=recipes from the 1980s, right side: outside of cabinet, new and intriguing recipes).

This recipe, though I could not decipher where it was cut out from, judging from the style and text, it seems to have been cut out from an old Gourmet magazine. Intrigued by peaches in a soup, I made this recipe once, as is, and twice, doctored up.  Here is my doctored up version of Chilled Colorado Peach Soup formerly known as Peach Gazpacho.

Chilled Colorado Peach Soup (adapted from Gourmet magazine?)

-3/4 cup water
-5 ripe peaches, preferably Colorado peaches
-1/4 cup cucumber
-1 garlic clove
-2 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate vinegar
-generous amounts of course ground salt and pepper
-3 dashes of tobacco
-2 tablespoons parsley, basil or cilantro

Place all ingredients in a food processor an blend until well combined.
Chill in fridge at least an hour, enjoy garnished with fresh herbs, olive oil or chopped avocado.

Can be served in small cups as an appetizer or in bowls as part of the main course.


Whole Wheat Zucchini Twists and Drunken Tomato Jam

It’s been another one of my experimenting days.  I’ve been into that a lot lately.  I must be going through a phase in my life…everything I do lately in the kitchen is about experimenting!  I never used to be this way.  It’s been fun though, and keeps things fresh and interesting.

Though, honestly this invention isn’t that unique or interesting.  It is however, delicious, hearty, versatile – both the jam and and the mini loaves can be paired in a number of different ways…not just together as I have them posted.

I was inspired by a recipe for tomato jam I saw recently, and so with the plethora of cherry tomatoes from my garden I had to put them to good use!   I added my own little touch of red wine when I opened the fridge to grab something and old bottle of red wine I had stashed in the fridge for cooking was staring right back at me screaming, “USE ME UP!”  So, I did.  I think it turned out quite delicious!  And baking fresh yeast bread is one of the easiest things – if you can read, you can do it.  So read on.  And furthermore, kneading fresh dough is quite a meditative process!  So meditate on!

First, the tomato jam recipe:

Drunken Tomato Jam

2 pints cherry tomatoes
3 large sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup red wine
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 tsp salt

Place everything in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer until thick about 30-40 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Now for the bread recipe:

Whole Wheat Zucchini Twists

1 medium zucchini, grated
2 tablespoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour

Shred the zucchini and place in a colander with the salt to drain excess water.

In a large bowl mix yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup water, stir to dissolve.  Set aside 5-10 minutes until quite bubbly.

Add flour, zucchini and remaining 1/4 cup warm water to yeast mixture.  Mix well.  Turn onto a well-floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes until elastic, adding flour as necessary.  Place in a greased bowl, turn to coat all sides.  Cover with a towel and set aside 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.

When doubled in size, punch dough down with one fist and turn onto floured surface again.  Divide dough into 4-inch long (or larger if you want larger loaves….these ones are small, like mini, personal loaves), skinny logs.  Then take two logs and pinch to top together.  Twist together (one log over the other) creating a twisted loaf.  Pinch the other end together.  Repeat with the remaining logs until all used up.  Set loaves on a baking pan, covered, in a warm place to rise another 45 minutes.

Whisk egg white well in a small bowl.  With a pastry brush, gently brush egg on the risen loaves, being very careful not to flatten them.  They will be fragile so don’t brush too hard!  The egg white will allow the loaves to have a nice golden, glossy finish.

Place in preheated oven at 325.  Bake about 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Watch these carefully because the time may vary…(my oven does clearly register temperature, so I kind of have to guesstimate this one).

When finished serve warm with the slightly cooled  tomato jam.  Bon Appetit!