Friday, June 29, 2012

strawberry rhubarb pie

A few weeks ago, I found some rhubarb at the farmer's market.  I don't often eat rhubarb, actually I haven't eaten it since I was a kid.  It used to grow kind of wild in the rather unkempt play area/courtyard.  Or maybe it didn't actually grow wild, maybe the garden just looked wild.  My memory isn't that specific..  

In my state of farmer's market euphoria, I saw the rhubarb and instantly thought: 

Strawberry rhubarb pie.

I have never made strawberry rhubarb pie before.  I used to make a pretty mean strawberry lemon curd tart, but the pie?  Nope.  And aside from eating strawberry rhubarb pie as a kid (and when I say kid, I mean 6), I really haven't had rhubarb as an older kid, teenager, or adult.  

But for some reason, I simply had to have it.

And I am so glad I did!

It was a little bit oozy, but no one seemed to mind.....

strawberry rhubarb pie
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 double crust pie dough (recipe to follow)
3 1/2 c. rhubarb, cut into 1/2" thick slices
3 1/2 c. strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1 tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c. quick-cooking tapioca
2 tbs Earth Balance dairy free butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk and 1 tsp water beaten together for glaze

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  

On a floured work surface, roll out half of the pie dough into a 12" circle, and carefully transfer to a pie dish, keeping the crust hanging over the dish.

Combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon juice, salt, and tapioca in a large bowl.  Dump the whole thing onto the pie dough and smooth into the dish.  Dot with bits of butter.  Roll out the other dough patty into a circle and carefully lay it on top of the pie filling.  Trim off the excess and tuck neatly around the filling.  Fold the hanging crust over onto itself and pinch however you like to make the crust.  I like to keep mine a bit more rustic...  Cut slits into the top of the pie.  Place the pie onto a baking sheet and brush egg mixture on top of dough.  You will want to put the pie on a baking sheet, as the juices WILL bubble over.  Cleaning that off of the bottom of the oven is no fun at all.  Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350, and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until the pie is golden and bubbly.  

Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely.

pie crust for double crust pie

2 1/2 c. flour
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2 sticks Earth Balance butter, cubed and very cold (I will cube my butter first and put it in a bowl and into the freezer while I get my other ingredients together)
6-8 tbs ice cold water

I like to use a food processor for my dough because it really is so easy and fast.

Put flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor.  Pulse a couple of times to blend dry ingredients together.  Add butter all at once and give it about 5 pulses.  I don't like to pulse it for too long here, because there is more pulsing to come and at the end, I want my butter in bigger chunks.  Add the water, a couple of tablespoons at a time.  Pulse 2 or 3 times after each addition, just to mix it in.  The pulses should be very quick.  The butter chunks should be the size of large breadcrumbs or small peas.  Whatever the size, you want to be able to see it in the dough.  That is what makes it light and flaky.

Once the dough has come together, turn it out and gather it into a flat ball.  Cut it into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other.  Wrap each patty in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge for at least an hour to let the dough rest.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

the icing on the cookie

The cousins come into town.  Dinner at grandma and grandpa's house.  What can I bring?  Nothing??  Well how about dessert then.  Ok, what to make for dessert....

I have been waiting to make strawberry rhubarb pie, and having just gone strawberry picking with some friends a few hours earlier, that seemed like the obvious choice.  But strawberry picking with 4 kids under 5 is harder than you would think.  I had to pick faster than 8 sticky hands could eat.  There were a few moments when I actually had to jump across 3 rows to avoid the melee, the horde of children throwing caution to the wind and just plowing straight through.  And I just now realized why I am so sore today....

The thought of making a pie was a bit much for me, and since neither of my children decided they needed a nap (and I majorly needed one!), cookies sounded much better!  

I wanted to do something fun, like let the cousins decorate the cookies themselves.  I thought about bringing the pre-cut uncooked cookies over for the kids to decorate with sugars, but the mess factor held me back.  Then I thought about icing....  I could cook the cookies beforehand, and put together little icings for the kids to use themselves.  Bingo!

I decided to have the kids decorate outside, which I think was my brightest moment of the day.  Icing is quite a bit messier than sugar...  But it was way more fun!

the icing on the cookie cookies
adapted from Nigella Lawson, How to be a Domestic Goddess

3/4 c. softened Earth Balance butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 2/3 c. cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 c. confectioners' sugar, sifted, and food coloring

Preheat oven to 350.

On medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Lower the speed and add the flour mixture a bit at a time.  Halve the dough, form into patties, and wrap each in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least an hour, to let the dough rest.  I like to put the second patty in the freezer, once it has cooled in the fridge, so I have a tasty, easy dessert for a lazy day.

Sprinkle work surface liberally with flour, plop the dough down, add more flour to the top of that, and roll out the dough (one patty at a time), until it's about 1/4 of an inch thick.  Cut into shapes, dipping the cutters into flour in between cuts, and place the cookies on a greased baking sheet.  Bake 8-12 minutes, and let cool on cooling rack.

Sift the confectioners' sugar into a bowl, and add 3 tbs hot, almost boiling, water.  Mix to form a thick paste.  Add more water, sparingly, if you want thinner icing.  I usually use about 3 1/2 tbs.  And now the fun part: adding color..  I really can't say it better than Nigella, "let the artistic spirit within you speak, remembering with gratitude that children have very bad taste."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

better than breakfast shake

For me, it's all about the bananas.

A few weeks ago, I made a morning shake with spinach, flax seed, a banana, almond milk, and some ice cubes.  It was good, but there was something........ not right.

So I froze a banana.  Mmmmmm....  And my latest addiction was born. 

First you slice them.  I find that sliced bananas are the easiest to blend.  They are just like ice cubes- as opposed to putting a whole frozen banana into the blender where it would sound like armageddon in the kitchen.  And trying to cut a frozen banana, I would imagine, would again sound like armageddon (although the sounds would be coming out of the cutter's mouth)...

Place bananas on plate or cookie sheet.  Stick em in the freezer, uncovered, until frozen.  

I also find that if you freeze the bananas on their sides, they are easier to get off the plate.  If you place them flat on a sliced end, you have to get a spatula to chip them off, and more expletives may suddenly start to fly.

Pop em into freezer bags.  I like to do a banana per bag, so I don't have to think and measure first thing in the morning.

These bananas are frozen.  They look lovely, don't they?

When making my morning shake, I usually just put everything into the blender all at once, but for demonstration purposes, I blended these first.  Blended frozen banana is just like eating banana ice cream!  A great treat on a hot summer day for the kids (little, or big).

And then, the shake.

This is obviously not an exact science.  Anything that comes together first thing in the morning has to be as easy and foolproof as possible.  And with all of the goodness in this, you will be satisfied well until lunch, left with enough energy that you may not even need that cup of coffee.  But oh how I do love my coffee...

Oh, and did I mention that my kids love it?

They. love. it.

better than breakfast shake

1 banana, frozen or not
2-3 cubes of ice, if not using a frozen banana
2 spoons of ground flax seed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 full handful of spinach leaves, stems and all, or swiss chard, kale, or whatever hearty green you have
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup chocolate almond milk (you can obviously use whatever milk you like- but you will need about a cup, give or take)

Put everything into the blender in this order.  Blend for a couple of minutes, until nice and creamy.  Easy peasy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

fried quinoa, sort of

Ok ok, yeah I know.  Everyone has been going to the farmer's market for years.  I have been kind of slow to jump on that boat.  My first real trip to a farmer's market was two weeks ago.  My second trip was yesterday.  So I now have a new thing.  Farmer's market on saturdays.  My goal is to go to Eastern Market in Detroit, but with two kids who aren't the easiest to wrangle into the car in the morning, and a mama who can herself be a bit slow in the morning, I'm keeping it a bit more local.  For now.

I have to say that I am really loving it.  Last week it was the asparagus, spelt flour, sunflower seeds, pickles (I so happily discovered my new favorite pickles- Perkin's Pickles), and whipped cinnamon honey.  This week it was the eggs, cinnamon basil (with beautiful purple stems and flowers), mushrooms, scallions, rhubarb (I can't wait to go strawberry picking this week and make some pie!), more pickles, and blueberries (which disappeared rather quickly at the park following the market).

When I started thinking about dinner, I realized that I had a lot of bits and pieces, but nothing that really shouted "Make me!  Make me!"  I remembered the swiss chard in the garden and when I scoured my cupboards, I found the quinoa.

Quinoa is not part of my repertoire, but the light bulb went off.  Fried rice with quinoa.  Fried quinoa.  Well, sort of.

My husband came in and asked what I was making for dinner.  When I told him, he said, "I don't know about this quinoa.  It sounds a bit too healthy for me."  Meanwhile, he ended up eating three servings.  Go figure.

fried quinoa, sort of

2 c. uncooked quinoa
4 c. chicken broth
extra virgin olive oil
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 c. crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 c. roughly chopped baby corn
1 c. swiss chard or other hearty greens, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
3 eggs

2 tbs soy sauce
1 1/2 tbs worcestershire sauce
1 tbs fresh lemon juice

I feel like I cooked this kind of weirdly, but it really worked for me.

Bring the chicken broth to a boil.  Add the quinoa, and cook according to package directions.  I cooked it covered for 10 minutes, gave it a stir, turned off the heat, and let it sit until I needed it.

Heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium high.  Add the chicken and sauté until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Remove to a plate.  Add another tablespoon of oil and heat until hot.  Toss in the mushrooms and ginger, sauté for another 5 minutes or so, or until they get nicely browned. Mushrooms soak up a lot of oil, so I kind of added another tablespoon here or there. Add the garlic and cook until it just starts to brown.  Remove to the plate with the chicken.  The reason I did this is to keep the mushrooms nice and garlicky, but to prevent the garlic from burning.  I am notorious for serving burnt garlic.  I am trying to remedy this problem...

Add another glug of oil, and then throw in the vegetables: the carrots, mini corn, swiss chard, and scallions.  Toss well in the oil and cook for about 5 minutes.  Return the chicken and mushrooms to the pan, stir it all together, and let cook for several minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

Push the food to the edges of the pan, so that you have a cleared center.  Crack the eggs into a bowl and then add them to the center of the pan.  Scramble the eggs, and when cooked, give everything a good stir.  Add the cooked quinoa, and then pour on the sauce.

Stir together until incorporated.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

dairy free cookie cups, again....

Yeah yeah, I know.  It's probably not a very good idea to repeat recipes on here.  But I really just couldn't help myself.  We were going to a birthday party and I was making cupcakes for Ian so that he wouldn't be left out and I asked the kids which ones to make and these were the ones that they chose and they are just sooooo good and the picture just came out too great.  The end.

To see the earlier post, click here.  And I just now realized that I started this post exactly the same way as the original.  And I'm not changing it.  So I guess that makes me actively unoriginal.  Oh well......

Dairy free Cookie Cups

1 c. plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt1 stick Earth Balance butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c. dairy free chocolate chips or baker's chocolate cut into chunks (I use Enjoy Life)

Preheat oven to 375
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Mix well.
On medium speed, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until well mixed. 
On low speed, stir in the flour mixture until blended.  Add the chocolate chips and stir to integrate them into the batter.
Line a muffin tin with cups.  I used a small size cup for this recipe; perfectly bite sized.  (If you use a regular size cup, increase the cooking time by about 5-10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.)
Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Set the muffins on a cooling rack and be sure to let them cool before you add the frosting, or it will melt.

Cinnamon frosting

2 c. confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
6 tbs soy butter, softened
2 1/2 tbs soy milk
a few drops vanilla

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift the sugar and the cinnamon.  Add the butter, and with the paddle attachment, mix at medium speed until the mixture forms a sort of ball.  You will want to drape a kitchen towel over the bowl of the mixer, that is, unless you want to stand in a cloud of sugar...  Once the ball forms, turn the speed to low, combine the soy milk and vanilla, and add to the sugar ball a couple of teaspoons at a time.  Make sure that the milk is incorporated before each addition.  Once all the milk is in, scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula, and turn the mixer up to full speed. Mix until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes.  Scoop the frosting into a pastry bag with a tip, or simply a plastic bag, reinforcing one of the corners with tape.  Snip off the corner, and voila, instant pastry bag. Pipe away!

Friday, June 8, 2012

dairy free chocolate s'mores pudding

Unsuccessfully successful food item part two.  Dairy free chocolate pudding with really old marshmallows.

I have been trying to put together a fun s'mores dessert.  When I found this recipe here, I had one of those moments where you get really miffed because someone else had come up with your idea.  My first thought when I saw the recipe was to pop the puddings under the broiler for a few minutes to toast those marshmallows.

Instantly, I got to work.  I knew we had marshmallows, but I couldn't find them.  I found a bag of pink heart marshmallows from valentine's day, but I wanted the white.  Standing on my tiptoes atop my kids' chair, my arm up to the armpit inside the cabinet, carefully trying to search the back of the cabinet without having to take anything out (I can be rather lazy at times), or knocking anything out (I can also be rather clumsy most of the time), I finally found the bag.  When I pulled it out though, I noticed that it wasn't squishy, like marshmallows usually are.  They felt a little stale (ok a lot stale), so I took one out, forked it, turned on the gas stove, and roasted it right there and then.  It roasted to a crispy, gooey, tender deliciousness. Perfect.

Since these were the large size, I decided to cut them down.  It was actually tougher than I thought.  The marshmallows were really rubbery....  Anyway, I managed to cut them, crumble the graham cracker on top, put the marshmallows in, broil the whole thing for a few minutes, and then snap some pictures in the waning evening light.  I really have to learn how to use that flash....

By the time I finished with the pictures, everyone was starting to get seriously mad at me for hijacking their dessert.  I realized that the marshmallows had cooled by that time, and I had considered reheating them, but the natives were starting to emit these low, guttural growling sounds, so that was that.  Here's your pudding, eat at your own risk.

To my surprise, the marshmallows were these light as air, smokey, carmel-ly crispy chips that just melted in your mouth.  I honestly didn't remember the last time I had enjoyed marshmallows that much.  Paired with the crunch of the graham cracker and the creamy chocolatey pudding, this dessert was pure delight.  Maybe I'll try it with fresh marshmallows one day....

dairy free chocolate s'mores pudding

3 tbs cornstarch
2 tbs water
1 1/2 c. coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. Enjoy Life dairy free chocolate chips
2 graham crackers
5 regular marshmallows

serves 4

Combine the cornstarch and water and stir until dissolved.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips.  Add the milk, vanilla, and sugar and whisk until incorporated.  Increase the heat to medium, and continue to cook and stir until the mixture boils.  Cook until it starts to get thick (it will happen all at once, so you have to pay attention), and then continue for a couple of minutes more until it gets pudding-y.  Remove from the heat, spoon into bowls, and let cool for about 5 minutes.   It will continue to thicken as it sits.  Refrigerate until ready to eat.

After the pudding is cooled, crunch up the graham crackers and sprinkle on top.  Follow that with a sprinkling of mini marshmallows, or as in my case, large marshmallows cut into bits, and pop the bowls onto a baking sheet and under the broiler for a few minutes, or until the marshmallows get nice and brown and crispy.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

moo goo gai pan, with children

Stir fries are fun.  Is that right?  Stir fries?  As in french fries?  Hm.  That seems really strange to me for some reason.....  Anyway, those things with a meat and veg and some sort of sauce cooked at a high temp in a huge sled of a pan, are fun.  I found this recipe here and made some changes.  Replace sesame oil with expressed peanut oil.  Include coconut oil because I am rather addicted to the stuff these days.  Maple syrup instead of sugar.  I don't know why, it just seemed like a good idea.  And it was, by the way.

This was the first of two unsuccessfully successful food items of the evening.  (The other was pudding with really old marshmallows, but that's for next time)..

Everything was moving along quite swimmingly.  All of a sudden... One baby calls, and then the other, one needs her shoes, the other needs a shirt, oh and right now please, why aren't they sleeping they are supposed to be sleeping, the sauce gets darker, the mini corn starts to get crispy, no not those shoes the other ones, no I don't want pants YES I want pants, the food desperately needs a stir but doesn't get one, everything starts to get sticky, oh no the rice I forgot about the rice, forget about the pants we have no time for pants, get your own shoes, the sauce starts to resemble tar, mama mama mama hold me, mama mama I need a hug,  run downstairs holding 60 pounds of children- correction- 60 pounds of screaming children, laughing children, squealing children, who knew running downstairs in mama's arms would be so much fun, drop one child (gently of course), grab the spoon, give the pan a stir, oh...

And so it is, cooking with children.

The sauce is dark, the sauce is sticky, and the bottom of the pan is getting pretty thick.  But it smells sweet, and tangy, and fresh, and fantastic.  Everything is carmelized, the chicken has such a lovely golden color.  The rice is a bit dry, so I add a drop of water to the pan and replace the lid.

I would have preferred that the sauce wasn't so sticky, or have that hint of a char to it, but no one else seemed to notice.  Every last bit was devoured.  Unsuccessfully successful.

moo goo gai pan

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
2 tbs canola oil
1 tbs coconut oil
1 carrot, chopped
handful of snow peas/sugar snap peas (I really don't know the difference- the fat ones)
about 1/4-1/3 cup of baby corn, roughly chopped
1 cup button mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 scallions, chopped

1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs mirin
1 tbs cornstarch

1/4 c. chicken broth
1 tbs soy sauce
1/4 tsp expressed peanut oil
1/2 tbs maple syrup
1/2 tsp (roughly) ground white pepper
1 tbs mirin
1 tsp cornstarch

In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients until fully incorporated.  Pour over the chicken, give it all a good mix, and set aside.

Heat pan over medium to medium high heat (you don't want the heat as high as a normal stir fry because the coconut oil has a lower smoke point than other oils).  Add the oils and let get hot. When it is nice and hot, add the chicken, and let cook, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes.  If the sides of the pan start to darken, use the chicken to kind of wipe it clean.  That adds a nice carmel-ly flavor.  Remove the chicken when it is no longer pink.

Add the carrots, peas, and corn, give it a good stir, and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the mushrooms and scallions and cook for a couple of minutes longer.

Return the chicken to the pan, mix well, and pour in the sauce.  Give it a good stir, reduce the heat to medium-medium low, and cover the pan.  Cook for a few more minutes (or several more minutes, depending on the distraction levels at the time), until the sauce has thickened.  Goes extremely well with slightly overcooked, dry rice.