Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Square Salt, Dinner-on-a-Stick, and a Whole Paycheck Lunch For Foodie Reads


Let me start by admitting: This is not a foodie read per se. A scientist pal of mine recommended Lab Girl by Hope Jahren* and I was happy to dig into a book that was outside of my usual genre. However, Jahren does write about food throughout the book and there were several foodie passages that either taught me something or had me chuckling. So, I decided to share the book with Foodie Reads Challenge.. 

On the Page...
Jahren alternates between autobiographical chapters and chapters about the lives of the trees and other plants she studies. Her prose expertly balances candor and humor. I'll be honest, I was a fan the first time she wrote: "female scientist" (yes, gender designator as an adjective not a noun!).

Square Salt
"Each grain of salt in a saltshaker is a perfect cube when viewed up close. Grind one grain into a fine powder and you have shattered it into millions of tiny, perfect cubes. The inescapable cube shape of salt persists because the very atoms that comprise pure salt are bonded together in the shape of a square scaffold that outlines an endless number of cubes."

Dinner-on-a-Stick
"On the way out of town we'd buy one Duraflame log for each day of the trip and a bunch of random food, and consider ourselves prepared for camping. ...Dinner-on-a-stick meant that each person found a stick and put whatever they wanted on it and then stuck it in the fire and ate it, and that was dinner. The only rule was that if you stumbled upon something really good, you afterward had to make enough for the whole group.... Dumpling was on a roll during that trip and actually managed to poach pears using a Coke can that had been torn in half and ingeniously skewered on a stick. We all agreed that his Hershey's chocolate-drizzled creation was the absolute pinnacle of camping cuisine...."

A Whole Paycheck Lunch
"Having never actually been inside of a Whole Foods, Bill was immediately enthralled after we walked through the door. He went directly over to a plastic package that cost about thirteen dollars and contained six capers, each the size of a golf ball. ...I found him marveling at a refrigerated trough of soft French cheese. ...Bill loaded our two-hundred-dollar lunch into my car by himself. ...Two hours later we were sitting in the lab eating 'Rockefeller Hot Pockets' which are composed of a slice of jamon iberico wrapped around a spoonful of sturgeon caviar and microwaved for ten seconds."

Though nothing inspired me into the kitchen, I have dropped two hundred dollars in Whole Foods more times than I care to admit and we love poached pears though I have never had to do it over a Duraflame log. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of her work. Thanks for the recommendation, Lou.

*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.



Here's what everyone else read in January 2017: here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Football Bourbon Balls + Boozy Lemonade #FoodieFootballFans

Note: This post is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by the National Football League (NFL) or any of its teams. All opinions and views expressed on our blogs are our own, not that of the NFL and/or any of its 32 teams. Any team names, logos or other symbols referenced are properties of their respective organizations. We are just big fans — and we want to share our love for our teams, the game and the food that brings us all together on game day.


With the football season coming to a close, it’s time to start thinking about Big Game parties and inevitably, the recipes you will make and bring to yours! In preparation, I’ve teamed up with my football blogger friends in one final collaboration to bring you some brilliant Big Game recipe ideas. We’ve made appetizers, entrees, desserts and even drinks. Prepare to be inspired, and be sure to check out their links below!



Football Bourbon Balls

I was initially going to make truffles. Then I had some rum balls at Christmas that I wanted to try to replicate. Then I thought: I can make them in the shape of footballs! I didn't go so far as to make royal icing and paint on the football laces, but I think they look like footballs. Fancy, delicious footballs. These are gluten-free for my Love, but you can use whatever kind of cookies you want!

And, if you follow my blog regularly, you probably know I'm on a Whole30 Adventure right now - that means no alcohol, no grains, and no sugar. So, no, I didn't get to try these. But I had very happy taste-testers who told me they were delicious.


Ingredients makes approximately 2 dozen
  • 1 C cookie crumbs (I used gluten-free chocolate chip cookies)
  • 1 C ground almonds
  • 1 C organic powdered sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/4 t espresso powder
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 C bourbon
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 T melted butter
  • 2 C chocolate chips (we prefer extra dark chocolate)
  • fleur de sel or other flake salt for sprinkling



Procedure
I created cookie crumbs in my food processor and measured out 1 C. In a bowl, whisk together ground cookies, ground almonds, powdered sugar, spices, espresso powder, and cocoa powder until well combined.



Stir in bourbon, maple syrup, and melted butter. Form into football shapes and place on a plate. Chill for an hour.


Melt chocolate chips over low heat on the top of a double boiler.


Stir until smooth. Remove from heat.


Using a toothpick, dip each football in melted chocolate.


Shake off the excess, place dipped football back on plate. Using another toothpick to cover the hole with a bit more chocolate. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Let chocolate set, approximately 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature. Serve immediately or store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week.

Boozy Lemonade

Ingredients
  • 5 to 6 organic lemons + 1 more for garnishing
  • 2 C water
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 C booze of your choosing (I used bourbon)
  • ice and water
Procedure
Make a simple syrup by combining 1 C water and 1 C sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Swirl pan until sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside and let cool.

Juice the lemons, except for the one you're using to garnish. Set aside. Thinly slice the garnish lemon.

In your serving pitcher, pour in the simple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and bourbon. Add in ice and fill the pitcher with water. Stir well to combine. To serve, pour lemonade into individual glasses. Float lemon slices in each glass.

Braised Beef Ragu #Whole30

NOTE: This is not the Whole30 compliant plate.

I swore I would never make two dinners when the boys were younger, meaning I was not going to make dinner for me and Jake and, then, feed the boys chicken tenders. They ate what we were eating. Period.

But, as I continue on my Whole30 Adventure, I find myself making two dinners. Sort of.

This is the Whole30 compliant plate!

I set a pot of beef braising while we hiked to Snively's Ridge. I knew that after that grueling climb, we would all be starving!

 

As soon as we got home, I served it over gluten-free pasta for my three and spooned it on top of sweet potato ribbons for my Whole30 compliant version. Oh, and since I usually use red wine, I skipped that and tried it with 100% cranberry juice - no sugar added. I think it worked well.



Ingredients 
  • 1 T  olive oil
  • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds beef, cubed (I used chuck...you can use really any cut of meat because it braises so long that it will be tender)
  • 1 C onion, peeled and diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 C diced carrots
  • 1 C diced celery
  • 1 C broth (I used beef broth)
  • 2 C diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Organic)
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 C 100% cranberry juice (if you aren't worried about being Whole30 compliant, use red wine)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 C thinly sliced basil
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • pasta for serving (I used gluten-free spaghetti for the boys and sweet potato ribbons for myself)


Procedure 
Heat the oil in a large, dutch oven. Add the beef into the pot. Sear on each side for  3 to 5 minutes - until a nice brown begins to appear. Add the onions and garlic to the pot. Let them cook until the onion is translucent and beginning to caramelize. Add in the carrots and celery. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour in the broth and cranberry juice. Add in the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Stir in the bay leaves, thyme, basil, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Let the meat braise for 3 to 4 hours - longer is fine, if you need to.

While you cook your pasta/pasta substitute, remove the cover and bring the pot to a boil. Cook until the sauce is reduced to your preferred thickness. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, mix some of the ragu in with your pasta/pasta substitute. Portion out your pasta into individual servings. Spoon more sauce over the top. Serve immediately.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Caulibits Crni Rižoto (Croatian Black "Risotto") #Whole30

Last week, I participated in the Wine Pairing Weekend event 'New Year, New Wine." I paired Crni Rižoto with Dingac Vinarija’s Pelješac...and you can read my post: here. I was pouring a Croatian wine and decided to make a traditional Croatian dish.


Every seafood restaurant in Croatia has a Crni Rižoto (black risotto) on its menu. Crni Rižoto is risotto dyed black with squid ink; I used cuttlefish ink for the same effect. However, since arborio rice is not Whole30 compliant, I made a version for myself that used caulibits instead of rice.


Ingredients
  • 1 C fish stock (or a combination of fish stock and vegetable stock)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/4 lb shrimp
  • 1/4 lb squid tubes, cleaned and sliced into rings
  • 1/4 lb scallops
  • 1/4 lb clams, scrubbed
  • 1/4 lb mussels, scrubbed
  • 4 C caulibits, or chopped cauliflower
  • 1 T fresh parsley, minced
  • juice and zest from 1 organic lemon
  • 1 t cuttlefish ink
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste


Procedure
Place caulibits in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large, flat-bottom pan, heat olive oil. Add in the shallots and garlic and cook until the shallots are translucent and beginning to caramelize. Add in the shrimp, squid, and scallops. Cook until opaque, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Pour in the fish stock and nestle the clams and mussels into the liquid. Cover and steam until the clams and mussels open, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Fold in the blanched caulibits.

Just before serving, stir in the ink until the caulibits are completely coated and black. Fold in the parsley and lemon zest. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.


*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, but it helps support my culinary adventures in a small way. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why - Yes! - You CAN Make Hollandaise with Ghee #Whole30


When I was flipping through The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig*, I came across one word that made this brunch-lovin' gal's heart sing: "Hollandaise." 

I love hollandaise sauce and thought that this month would be without eggs benedict. Boo. But, the Hartwigs'recipe assured me that, yes, you can make hollandaise with ghee or clarified butter and be Whole30 complaint. Woohoo. 

I didn't use their recipe, so I'll give you mine. And, on that note, I've mentioned ghee and clarified butter quite a bit since I launched into this Whole30 Adventure; I should probably post a recipe or tutorial for that. Soon...


Ingredients
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 8 T ghee or clarified, melted
  • pinch of fleur de sel or other fake salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • hot water, if needed

Procedure

In the top of the double boiler, whisk together egg yolks and lemon juice. Add the melted ghee or clarified butter to egg yolk mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time while whisking yolks constantly. If the hollandaise begins to get too thick, add a teaspoon or two of hot water. 

Continue whisking until all the ghee is incorporated. Whisk in salt and pepper, then remove from heat. Place a lid on pan to keep sauce warm until ready to serve

I used the hollandaise sauce for a tasty brunch with pan-roasted potatoes...


Wilted spinach and smoked salmon instead of an English muffin...


And there you have my Whole30 compliant eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce!!


*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, but it helps support my culinary adventures in a small way. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Root Soup #Whole30

I signed up to bring a pot of soup to feed the robotics team today and decided to make a vegetarian sweet potato and black bean soup for them. That recipe will be shared later.


Since the sweet potato and black bean soup I made for the kids wasn't Whole30 compliant, I made myself a pot of soup rife with root vegetables and some winter greens.


Ingredients
  • 1 C diced onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 C carrots, cubed
  • 2 C potatoes, cubed
  • 1 C celery root, cubed
  • 6 C vegetable stock
  • 2 C thinly sliced kale
  • 1/2 C fresh parsley, chopped
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
In a large souppot, heat your olive oil. Stir in the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent and beginning to caramelize. Stir in your cubed roots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Fold in the kale and parsley and stir until the kale has turned a bright green. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Pichuberries and Red Currants


When you can just look longingly at your Friday evening cheese board because of your Whole30 Adventure, you curse loudly in your head and just eat the fruits. Along with the Cowgirl Creamery's Devil's Gulch cheese and Norwegian Gjetost, I plated slices of regular and gluten-free bread, pichuberries, and red currants.


It's been a long time since I first tried pichuberries, so I'll remind my readers of them. You might see them sold as 'golden berries' or 'Incan ground cherries.'


What is a pichuberry? you ask. It's a Peruvian fruit known as aguaymanto or Inca berry. It looks like a small, golden tomatillo; it's about the size of a large marble. R's assessment: it tastes like a mix between a star fruit and a tomato. He's right.

From my reading...the pichuberry has almost 20 times the vitamin C as an orange and could be known as an anti-diabetic fruit. They reduce sugar levels in the blood and stimulating hormones that secrete insulin in diabetic patients.


At the same market where I found the pichuberries, I also found red currants. I know what they are and I've had dried ones, but I've never tried fresh ones. 


They hang in grape-like clusters, like carmine-hued bubbles suspended on a wispy branch. The tiny globe-shaped currants burst in your mouth and release a sweet-tart juice. I loved them! I can't wait to track these oddball fruits down again.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Young Nation, Ancient Vines in Croatia: Pairing Crni Rižoto + Dingac Vinarija’s Pelješac #WinePW


Happy New Year to you from the crew at Wine Pairing Weekend. #WinePW happens on the second Saturday of the each month. And for the month of January, David of Cooking Chat - and the originator of #WinePW - invited us to kick off the new year with a new wine. You can read David's invitation: here. Feel free to join the conversation on Saturday, January 14th on Twitter with the hashtag #WinePW. We start chatting at 11am ET.

And if you'd like to see all the past and future topics, click here. It's hard to believe we're going on three years with this group.

New Wines & The Crew
David clarified: "What do we mean by “new wine”? Simply looking for wine that is new to you, whether that be a wine region you haven’t explored, or maybe it is a new grape varietal. Or maybe it’s a type of wine you haven’t tried much. You get to figure what trying new wine means to you."

What fun! I had a couple of options from new-to-me varietals to new-to-me wine regions. I decided to go with the latter and uncorked a bottle of wine from Croatia for this event. I'll be pairing the other wines and regions later. Here's what everyone else uncorked for this round of #WinePW...

Crni Rižoto + Dingac Vinarija’s Pelješac

In My Glass...
I had a bottle of Dingac Vinarija’s Pelješac in my cabinet and decided this was the perfect opportunity to share it. Though Croatia is a young nation, having only been a sovereign country since 1991, its wine has a history dating back to Ancient Greece. Some of the islands have been producing wine - with traditional grape varietals - for nearly 3000 years!

Most Croatian wine is white, but you can find some reds. You would be hard-pressed to find a Croatian rosé. One thing I found interesting is that Croats typically dilute their wines. They drink gemišt which is a combination of white wine and sparkling water and bevanda which is red wine mixed with still water. No, thanks. I'll drink my wine full strength.

The wine I had comes from the Pelješac Peninsula that extends into the Adriatic. Its steep hillsides are blanketed in pine, olive, and fig trees. And vineyards are planted almost exclusively with the rugged native grape varietal Plavac Mali.

Because motorized vehicles and mechanical harvesting are impossible, Dingac Vinarija’s label features a donkey without which tending the grapes would be impossible.


I have to admit that I only had one teeny, tiny sip of this wine as I am on a Whole30 adventure. I considered backing out of all my wine event commitments during this month, but I decided that having a single sip was still within the realm of "avoiding alcohol." So...I smelled it, swirled it, and tasted it.

It was more sweet than I anticipated. It hinted at a light passito with strong herbaceousness. Think rosemary, thyme, and oregano collide with figs and plums. I actually think it was the perfect wine with this savory dish. Initially I was thinking, "Oh, this is more of a dessert wine." But that would really be sweet on sweet, so I do think that this savory worked the best.


On My Plate...
Every seafood restaurant in Croatia has a Crni Rižoto (black risotto) on its menu. Crni Rižoto is risotto dyed black with squid ink; I used cuttlefish ink for the same effect.


Ingredients
  • 7 C fish stock (or a combination of fish stock and vegetable stock)
  • 5 T olive oil
  • 5 medium shallots, peeled and minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/2 lb shrimp
  • 1/2 lb squid tubes, cleaned and sliced into rings
  • 1/2 lb scallops
  • 1/2 lb clams, scrubbed
  • 1/2 lb mussels, scrubbed
  • 1 C arborio rice
  • 3 T fresh parsley, minced
  • juice and zest from 1 organic lemon
  • 2 T cuttlefish ink
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Procedure
In a large, flat-bottom pan, heat 3 T olive oil. Add in the shallots and garlic and cook until the shallots are translucent and beginning to caramelize. Add in the shrimp, squid, and scallops. Cook until opaque, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Spoon the seafood into a bowl, cover, and set aside.

In the same pan, add in the rice and remaining 2 T olive oil. Cook until the rice grains are lightly toasted. Pour in 1 C fish stock and stir until absorbed, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Continue adding 1/2 C stock at a time until the rice is creamy, usually about 20 to 25 minutes total.

Before the last addition of the stock, stir in the cooked seafood. Nestle the clams and mussels into the rice. Pour the last 1/2 C stock over the top. Cover and steam until the clams and mussels open, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.


Just before serving, stir in the ink until the rice is completely coated and black. Fold in the parsley and lemon zest. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


As I mentioned, I'm in the middle of my Whole30. So, I'm off alcohol and grains. The dish I ate was a cauliflower version of the risotto made with caulibits. It was tasty. I'll share that recipe soon.


Next month Cindy at Grape Experiences is hosting. Our topic: wine and comfort food. Stay tuned.

*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, but it helps support my culinary adventures in a small way. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

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