Friday, December 9, 2016

Tasting Notes: Camel Milk


Throughout the course of my cheese class, we've talked about cheeses made from different kinds of milk, including cow's milk, sheep's milk, goat's milk. I shared an article with my students about the Karrayyu nomadic herders in Ethiopia’s Fantalle district where camels are highly prized. And we wondering about making cheese from camel milk.

Well, I finally tracked down some camel milk. Thank you, Desert Farms. But we didn't have time to make camel cheese as it barely arrived in time for the sixth class in the series. So, we just poured and tasted it.

"How does it taste?" you ask. It tasted like milk. Mostly.

Some of the students thought it was salty. Others said it was almost sour or tangy. All noticed that it was more watery - less fatty - than cow's milk.

"Did we like it?" you wonder. Sure did.

The only thing I didn't like was the price. I understand that it's a specialty item...and one that involve a fairly rare-to-the-area animal. But at $10 per cup plus shipping, it's not a viable substitute for milk in our household.

Hand-Blended Mulling Spices


When I was invited to a gift exchange for this weekend, the instructions were simple: bring ten identical gifts. Spend no more than $5 per gift. Hmmm...

I considered making earrings, but knew that I couldn't really do a good job with that budget. So, I starting thinking about food items. I emailed the hostess because I wasn't sure that a consumable would be appropriate. She assured me that it was fine...and told me she planned on gifting small wheels of cheese. Yep, I am definitely going to the right party!


So, I decided to hand-blend mulling spices and place them in little jars along with a muslin bag for steeping. Since sipping mulled wine in front of the fire while reading a book is one of my favorite winter pastimes, I am also bringing along a basket of gently-used books from which the gals can choose.

One thing I love about this is that it's flexible. I don't measure. I just blend by scent and by appearance, asking myself: What will look good in the jar? Does that smell good?

So, this is more to inspire than to provide an actual recipe.

Ingredients
  • cinnamon sticks
  • star anise
  • whole allspice berries
  • dried ginger
  • rainbow peppercorns
  • green cardamom pods
  • white cardamom pods
  • whole cloves
  • ground black lime
  • dried orange peel
  • dried lemon peel
  • Also needed: small jars and muslin bags


Procedure
Blend all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, breaking up the cinnamon sticks into small pieces.


Scoop the spice blend into jars.

Include instructions - Place 1 bottle of red wine, 2 T honey or organic granulated sugar, 1 T spice blend (in muslin bag), zest and juice of 1 organic orange into a large saucepan. Warm till wine begins to steam but don't let it simmer or boil. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 or 15 minutes. Rewarm before serving. Cheers!

Spicy Beef Curry for Foodie Reads 2016 #Sponsor

This is a post is sponsored by the author Monica Bhide.* All opinions are my own.

I received an email from Monica Bhide, asking if I would be interested in receiving her novel - Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken** - for review purposes. Given that the title included the words 'butter chicken', you know I was in. Immediately.


After years of enjoying her version, I finally wrangled my friend Priya's Butter Chicken recipe out of her; you can read about that: here. Suffice it to say: We are huge fans of butter chicken!

On the Page

I had high hopes for this book. It's about a cuisine that we love...and the idea behind the story seemed fantastic: Eshaan wants to open a free kitchen to feed the poor in Delhi so that no one ever goes hungry. In one passage, they are discussing the biggest problem in India...that's it's not hunger.

Not hunger. Lack. Lack is the problem. You know the saying, "There is one pomegranate, and hundred people who want it."

While it is well written, I had a hard time connecting with the characters at first. Eshaan seems to be cursed with a horrible sense about business and finance and about women. And Kitt's entire story line seemed contrived. I had a difficult time liking her character and the decisions that she makes. But, as I continued reading, the characters grew on me.

What I did love, immediately, were the descriptions of the food, the cooking, and the connection between the cook and the resulting dish.

...I say a prayer for the spices, sparse as they may be, to help heal the person who eats the food. That reminds me. I have only one rule in this kitchen. The cooks' energy gets passed into the dishes. Only food prepared with love will nurture. If not, it will just be another meal," he said, placing his hand on his heart.

And now I am longing for a sil batta! I wonder where I can find one here.

The cooking show staff had instructed him to bring his favorite utensil, and he had chosen his treasured sil batta. "Possibly the parent idea of the modern day mortar and pestle," Lama Dorje had remarked when he presented the gift to him. Eshaan had smiled at the comparison; he loved his tiny mortar and pestle for his spices. But his sil batta, flat marble stone with a long bat-like stone for grinding, was perfect for making all the pastes and chutneys he so loved creating. 

Overall, Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken was a decent read with great food inspiration.

On the Plate

The novel comes with a free e-cookbook that features some wonderful Indian recipes, including, of course, Monica's butter chicken and a cardamom tea that is intriguing. But, for this post, I opted to create a different dish altogether.

Ingredients
  • 2 lbs beef, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 6 T unsalted butter, cut into 2 T chunks
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced (approximately 1-1/2 C)
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 T grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3” stick cinnamon
  • 1 C tomato sauce
  • 1 C chicken stock
  • 1 T chili paste (optional)
  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • naan for serving
Procedure
In a large mixing bowl, massage the salt, pepper, 1 t chili powder, and turmeric into the beef cubes. Let stand for 15 minutes.

In a large, flat-bottom pan, cook the onions, ginger, and garlic in 3 T butter until softened and the onions begin to turn translucent. Add in the remaining butter and melt. Stir in the garam masala, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant.

Add the beef to the spiced paste and brown until cooked through, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce and chicken stock. Add in the chili paste, if using; we like our butter chicken a little bit spicy. Whisk to combine. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes - until the sauce is beginning to thicken. Pour in the cream, whisk to combine, and simmer until that it thickened to your liking.

Serve garnished with warmed naan bread. Enjoy!

*Disclosure: I did receive a complimentary copy of Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken for the purpose of reviewing it. Opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for this post.

**This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

New-to-Me: Sacha Inchi

For the most part, we eat pretty healthily. But, if I had to name a bad habit I have, it would definitely be snacking. I love grabbing a handful of chips or popcorn. So, to stave off those cravings, I try to keep nuts in the house instead. I saw these and decided to give them a try: Sacha Inchi.


Sacha Inchi ― also known as 'sacha peanut' or 'mountain peanut' ― is native to South America and Southeast Asia. The jar we have lists its origins as Southeast Asia. I have seen them at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, so they are beginning to be "main stream."

From the drawings and photographs I've seen, it resembles a giant star anise or star fruit. What we're eating are the seeds. It boasts the full inventory of essential amino acids and over fifteen times the Omega-3 content of salmon. And ounce for ounce, compared to almonds which are usually our nut of choice, Sacha Inchi has more grams of protein.

The seeds we have are lighted toasted and lightly salted. And they are kept in the same aisle as nuts would be.


The verdict: We love them. I actually had to hide the jar from my 14-year-old because he kept grabbing handfuls in the middle of dinner. We did talk about what else we could do with them other than eat them straight. 

Thinking about trying them in pesto and maybe ground up as a coating instead of breadcrumbs. 

Have you tried these? What do you think?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Momiji Tempura #FoodieExtravaganza #MapleSyrupMadness


Welcome to the Foodie Extravaganza
v. December 2016 = Maple Syrup Madness

Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays or cook and bake together with the same ingredient or theme each month. This month we're celebrating maple syrup because December 17th is National Maple Syrup Day.

Thanks to Lauren of Sew You Think You Can Cook for hosting this event. She encouraged us: "December 17th is National Maple Syrup Day. Let's celebrate with more than pancakes! Bake some liquid amber into something sweet, cook it up into something savory, or stir it into a fun beverage."

Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza.  We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

Maple Syrup Madness
December 17th is National Maple Syrup Day and Lauren challenged us to bake with, cook with, or make a beverage with maple syrup. (For some international bloggers who can't find maple syrup, they'll be joining the fun with honey as a substitute.) And don't forget to check out all these other maple-y recipes:

Momiji Tempura
I have made this dish once before when I substituted the maple syrup, listed, for a locally-made ginger syrup. This time, I used the ingredient suggested in the original recipe and am sharing it for this #FoodieExtravaganza event. Here's the story behind this dish...


I was at one of my best friend's house for brunch, I noticed a Japanese maple tree near her front door. I snapped a photo and asked if I could have some of the leaves. I'm not sure she knew I was going to cook them, but a few days later she dropped the leaves off, rinsed and stored between moist paper towels.


Ingredients serves 4 as an appetizer
  • 1 C rice flour
  • 1 T organic corn starch
  • 1-1/2 C sparkling water
  • 16 to 20 fresh red Japanese maple leaves
  • maple syrup
  • canola oil for frying
  • furikake



Procedure
Clean maple leaves thoroughly with a moist towel. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the rice flour, corn starch, and sparkling water to create an airy batter. Do not overmix; the batter will be slightly lumpy.

Preheat oil in a pan. The oil has reached the correct temperature when a small drop of batter sizzles and floats.

Pour maple syrup in a shallow dish. Use a pastry brush to paint a thin layer of syrup on each leaf. Or you can simply dip the leaves in the syrup.


Lightly dip leaves in batter and fry immediately until golden brown.



Drain on a rack or on paper towels. Sprinkle with furikake while hot. Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

{Gluten-Free} Boiled Cider Cookies with Candied Ginger #FBLCookieExchange


For several years, I've taken part in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I created, baked, and shipped off Boozy Salted Fennel Pollen Shortbread (2012), Matcha-Black Sesame Shortbread (2013), Candied Buddha's Hand-Olive Oil Shortbread (2014), and Kaffir Lime Macaroons (2015). 

This year, the organizers decided not to host the event and another group of blogging friends decided yo create one. So, here we are the inaugural year of the Food Blogger Love Cookie Exchange coordinated by the gals at The PinterTest Kitchen and Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. To participate in the event, bloggers were asked to donate to one (or both) of the following charities. Join us, if you're so inclined.

  • CLIMATES-Rescue and The Bunny Hutch Boutique is an animal rescue in Virginia that takes in and feeds animals traditional shelters can’t take in, like snakes, turtles, bunnies, ferrets, and lizards. They are home to the biggest bunny in the United States! All those animals need a lot of food. CLICK HERE to sponsor a meal for an animal in need!
  • No Kid Hungry is an organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger. They believe no child should go to bed hungry. CLICK HERE to sponsor a meal for a child in need!

Now on to the cookie creation and swap part of this post. I baked these cookies and shipped them off to the bloggers at Body Rebooted, The Gluten-Free Foodsmith, and Garlic & Zest

And a quick shoutout of gratitude for the bloggers who shipped cookies to me. Thanks to The PinterTest Kitchen who sent me her Gluten-Free Frosted Chai Spiced Sugar CookiesThe Gluten-Free Foodsmith baked up a batch of her Sesame Butter Caramel Kiss Cookies, and Body Rebooted shared her Sweet Potato and Chocolate Cookies with me.


Whenever I've created cookie recipes for a swap, I take into consideration: (1) using an interesting ingredient and (2) how well the cookie will ship. This year, I asked to be put in the gluten-free pool so that Jake could indulge in the cookies we were sent. He was a happy man!

{Gluten-Free} Spiced Brown Butter-Boiled Cider Cookies

This recipe has two interesting ingredients that I think add a little intrigue and a lot of flavor to them: boiled cider and browned butter. Both are almost magical. Seriously. Magical. The boiled cider takes a little while, but it's worth it. I promise.

Note: this recipe is slightly different from the recipe I printed and included in my packages because, as I was baking and testing, my three live-in food critics  - lovingly known as The Sugar Pig (husband), The Precise Kitchen Elf (boy #1), and The Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf (boy #2) - all said that something was missing. So, I ran to the store and added candied ginger to the batch I mailed.

That's the recipe I'm sharing today. When I made them again, they wanted candied ginger and chopped macadamia nuts! Demanding food critics...

Ingredients

  • 12 T butter, browned and cooled
  • 2 1/2 C gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t  ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t  ground ginger
  • 1/8 t ground allspice
  • 1 C organic dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 T boiled cider (my recipe here)
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C candied ginger, chopped


Procedure
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, boiled cider, vanilla extract, and browned butter until well-combined. Gently fold in the flour mixture until everything is moistened and comes together in a sticky batter. Fold in the candied ginger until incorporated into the batter.


Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.


Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container, if you're keeping them for yourself or pack carefully so they don't get crushed if you're sending them off.


I think the gals to whom I shipped enjoyed them. I saw these on social media...and was relieved that they made them to my recipients intact. I was concerned since they weren't as hardy as a shortbread-style cookie.


"These spiced brown butter-boiled cider cookies are so perfect for this time of year!! 
Thanks for an amazing holiday treat." - Body Rebooted


"Thank you, Camilla - they are delicious!! Sorry for getting back to you late, but I was away for the holiday with no internet. I will be making these and sending them out as gift this year." 
- The Gluten-Free Foodsmith


And here's the full line-up of all the swapped cookies. What a great group of treats!

Cranberry Gremolata


I am woefully tardy in posting this recipe! This was my Thanksgiving version or gremolata for our osso buco. That recipe is coming soon, too. I promise.

My Cranberry Gremolata was inspired by the Italian condiment that is traditionally made with lemon zest, parsley, and garlic.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 C whole, raw hazelnuts
  • 1/4 C whole, raw pecans
  • 3/4 C fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley
  • zest from 1 organic lemon
  • juice from 1 organic lemon
  • 1 t toasted sesame oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure 
Place the nuts, cranberries, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sesame oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until desired texture. I prefer mine more chunky. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Beefed Up Brown Mary for the #Stirrings Stir It Up Holiday Blogger Mixology Challenge #Sponsor

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Stirrings. All opinions are my own.

Stirrings put a call out for food and beverage bloggers to compete in their inaugural “Stir It Up Holiday Blogger Mixology Challenge.” Yes, please!


Bloggers were asked to create an original cocktail recipe using a Stirrings Cocktail Mixer and/or Rimmer Cocktail Garnish.


I settled on using the Simple Bloody Mary Cocktail Mixer and the Bloody Mary Rimmer.* I did receive one other mixer and one other rimmer that I'll use in other recipes.

My concern: When I have used Stirrings mixers in the past, I use them for their convenience. They are a stir-and-go kinda thing; you don't need to do much except add booze and ice. So, now I was tasked to make a pre-made mixer a little bit more sexy. Okay. Challenge accepted.

I did some reading and discovered how many variations there are of a bloody cocktail. I knew that if I used vodka, it was a Bloody Mary and using tequila makes it a Bloody Maria. But I learned that pouring in sake makes a Bloody Geisha and substituting rum makes a Bloody Pirate. You get the idea.

I was most intrigued by the Brown Mary, which uses whiskey, and the Red Snapper, which uses gin. Those are usually my cocktail bases of choice. Jake and I tested three different alcohols and settled on the whiskey version.

Here's my Beefed Up Brown Mary for the Stirrings Stir It Up Holiday Blogger Mixology Challenge...


Ingredients makes one cocktail

Cocktail
  • 3 ounces Simple Bloody Mary Cocktail Mixer
  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
  • juice from 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 to 2 dashes hot sauce
  • 2 drops lemon bitters
  • freshly ground pepper
  • ice cubes
  • Also needed: mason jar and cocktail glass

Garnish
  • lemon wedge
  • Bloody Mary Rimmer
  • 1/4 to 1/2" wide strip of peppered beef jerky
  • 1 each of pickled carrot cube, pitted green olive, pickled green pepper, pickled red pepper, gherkin, and pickled pearl onion

Procedure

Thread the pearl onion, green olive, pickled carrot, pickled green pepper, pickled red pepper, and gherkin onto a toothpick or small skewer. Use kitchen shears to slice your beef jerky into a strip.

Rub the lemon wedge over the rim of your serving glass. Dip the glass in the Bloody Mary Rimmer. Invert and fill with ice.

In a mason jar, stir together the Simple Bloody Mary Cocktail Mixer, bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, lemon bitters, and hot sauce. Add in one to two grinds of black pepper.


Carefully pour the cocktail into the prepared glass.


Garnish with pickle spear and beef jerky.


Raise your glass with a friend or loved one. Cheers! This Elf and her Taste Testing husband were happy...



You may find Stirrings...
on the web

Use their online store locator (here) to find retailers near you. However, if any of these stores are near you, they will likely carry Stirrings - BevMo!, Total Wines & More, Draegers, Mollie Stones, Hi Time Liquors, Pacific Ranch Market, Daniels Market, Bristol Farms.

*Disclosure: I received product for free in exchange for recipe development for the Stir It Up Holiday Blogger Mixology Challenge. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the manufacturer of this product.

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