gluten free clafoutis

I’ve made claufoutis(es?) many times before, but this time I took a different approach. Mostly because, cough, I have an awesome mixer that I got for Christmas. Having a standing mixer has really changed my life. It seriously reduces the time of making most anything. It might seem stupid and like I am exaggerating, but if you spend a lot of time cooking, it is an investment worth looking into. Plus, with my NEW (double lot) BACK (no garage) YARD, I am going to use it to make SAUSAGES. I am a nut. I realize that making sausages sounds unappealing to most people. However, if you are reading this, you are probably my friend or Mom/Aunt and either agree with me or find my stance amusing.

Photobucket (Image courtesy of the Spice House website)
I’d also like to give a shout out to Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean paste. This product is amazing and convenient. As I re-stretch my muscles in my home kitchen and remember how to enjoy making food for pleasure’s sake & sustenance, I’m remembering that the simplest way is often the best. I also don’t have to hand whip my eggwhites to stiff peaks or get all esoteric and weird about taking logical and tasty shortcuts.

Strawberry Claufoutis
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Ingredients:
2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
1 cup sugar
2 cups almond flour (gluten-free, I use Bob’s Red Mill)
3/4 cup browned butter
1 T vanilla bean paste
1/4 t ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
Oven preheated to 350
1 pie pan, greased, lined with greased parchment, & dusted with almond flour.

Method:
1. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks are formed, using a whisk.
2. Add egg yolks, mix until combined.
3. Add sugar & vanilla bean paste.
4. Add browned butter. It should be cool, not hot, so it doesn’t make the eggs curdle. If it’s still warm, temper the mix, just add a bit at a time. When it is done, it will kind of look (and taste) like the most delicious marshmallow fluff. Hey, you know what, you just made a “kind of” Italian meringue! Congrats!
5. Switch to a paddle if you have a mixer, switch to a wooden spoon or spatula if you don’t.
6. Add almond flour, mix batter until well combined (but some lumps are ok)
7. Line your greased/parchmented/floured pie pan with sliced strawberries. If you are using cherries/blueberries/raspberries, you don’t need to chop them up. You don’t have to cut up your strawberries either, I was just trying to make my product stretch. If you decide to not chop them, you will need more than 1/4 cup.
8. Gently pour the almond batter over the tiled strawberries. Be careful not to move the berries around.
9. Tap the pie pan on a hard surface to remove any significant air bubbles.
10. Bake at 350 for about a half hour, until the top is golden brown.
11. Let cool. This is important folks. If you don’t let it cool completely, it will not hold its shape and it will be a tasty disaster.
12. Once it is cooled, you get a plate and gently flip the pie pan onto it. If you’ve greased it properly, it will come right out. Remove the parchment paper, slice up and eat.
13. Try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting, maybe save some for your boyfriend.
14. This is really really good with coffee, a perfect gluten-free breakfast pastry.

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slow cooked pear butter

Hi pals. In addition to having a really cute dog, my pals Natalie and Dave have a pear tree in their backyard. I was really excited to hear this. It’s quite surprising and fun to find out about all the fruit that grows wildly in Chicago. In the past year or so, I’ve found apricots, cherries, apples, and pears, just hanging out in friends’ yards. Natalie and Dave were generous enough to let me come over to their house and pick a bunch of pears. Hanging out with them is always fun, and it was a great end of summer evening.

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I knew I wanted to make some kind of spread with the pears, but I didn’t know what kind… Did I want jam, jelly, or just preserved pears? Pears don’t really lend themselves to making jam, I don’t really have enough time to make jelly at the moment, and I didn’t feel like buying the big jars for preserving whole pears. What’s left to do? Pears and apples have a sort of similar texture, so I googled “pear butter” and found a lot of recipes for pear butter online. I used this one as inspiration, but kind of followed my own ideas too.

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Pear Butter

Ingredients
3 quarts pears, quartered and seeded (I think the kind I picked were Bosc, in the future I would suggest Bartlett, or a creamier variety)
1 bottle Riesling
3 cups sugar
1 lemon, halved
2 TBS dry fennel (add more if you like)
1/2 TSP cinnamon (I used this very intense cinnamon, in the future, I might not put it in)
Pinch nutmeg

Directions
1. Prepare all ingredients
2. Place ingredients in slow cooker
3. Cook covered on low for 12 hours (this is great while you sleep or at work/school… You can prep the ingredients the night before and pop them in the fridge and then pop them on before you leave home for the day)
4. Strain, reduce further on the stovetop, or continue in the slow cooker
5. When your butter has reached the desired thickness, you can get ready for canning.
6. Canning is complicated the first time you do it, but once you know what you are doing, it’s pretty easy. Like riding a bike, MUSCLE MEMORY. I’d like to write out a detailed explanation about canning, but this guide is a good start, and contains all the safety information you need to know.
7. Please keep in mind that you don’t need all of the accessories that they talk about on the canning website. I get by fine with a tall stockpot, tongs, and a soup ladle. If you decide to do it this way, be careful with the glass on the bottom of the stockpot and make sure your tongs and ladle are sanitized.
8. After you’re done, let the pear butter rest for 24 hours before you put it away. If any of the jars are unsealed, throw them away… they’re no good!
9. Enjoy your pear butter on toast or waffles. Or just eat it by itself.

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After the pear picking, we headed to Rootstock were we gave the kitchen some pears. Duncan, the chef made us a big platter with the pears paired (haha) with Benton ham. It was delicious, and if you’ve not had Bentons ham or been to Rootstock, I would highly suggest doing both.

Cold Roasted Salad

The hot days of summer demand a few things: low effort tasty foods that leave leftovers so I can go to pool more and not worry about what to eat. It’s a tall bill to fill, but this salad manages just fine. I only wish there were more of it!

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Ingredients:

1.5 lb tiny/fingerling potatoes, all potatoes cut in half (if you use regular big potatoes, just cube the potatoes into 1″ dice)
1 lb itty bitty tomatoes (no subs, they are too cute) pricked so they don’t burst in the oven
2 ears corn
1 can cannellini/ garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (I didn’t have these for some reason but they will taste good)
2 slices bacon (you can definitely omit this, I just included it because I’m a Midwestern fatty who grew up eating potato salad with bacon in it)
Olive Oil TT for roasting veggies
TT Salt
TT Pepper
TT Crushed Red Pepper

*Foil and parchment paper make this a lot easier with the corn and tomatoes.

(For the dressing)
1/2 cup goat cheese
1 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 TBS olive oil (or rendered bacon fat from when you cooked your bacon)
1 TBS balsamic (or whatever vinegar you like, I used a little apple cider vinegar too)
1TBS honey
Fresh basil chiffonade (however much you like)
TT Salt
TT Pepper

Instructions:

1. Set your oven to 400 and roast your potatoes with some olive oil and salt/pepper until they are soft in the middle and golden brown on the outside (about 45 minutes), set aside. While you are doing this, you can also cook your bacon, let it cool, then finely chop it up, so it’s almost like bacon dust. Save your bacon fat.

2. Roast your tomatoes with some olive oil and salt/pepper until they begin to caramelize (about a half hour), set aside.

3. Roast your unshucked corn in foil until its cooked, set aside (if you want the kernels to get a little brown, just turn on your burner and let it roast a little on the flame— just don’t tell your landlord and please remember to remove the leaves and corn hair first)

4. When everything is roasting, you can make your salad dressing. Take your vinegars in a bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil or rendered bacon fat. Add the goat cheese. If your using your freshly rendered bacon fat, the goat cheese will melt right away. If you are using olive oil, it helps to use goat cheese that has come down close to room temperature. With enough mixing, you’ll get a creamy looking dressing. Add the garlic and honey, whisk until combined. Then, add the bacon dust if you’ve decided to go with bacon. Taste your dressing- if it’s too acidic, add more honey! Now is a good time to add salt and pepper. Tweak it however you like!

5. When all of your veggies are roasted, shuck the corn, and cut the kernels off the cob into a bowl. Add the potatoes and tomatoes. If I had beans, this is where I would put them- cannellini beans would play especially nicely with the vegetables. Next, add the dressing. Toss the dressing in the salad so that everything is evenly coated. Now add the basil and crushed red pepper. Here you go! Easy roasted summer salad. Chill it in the fridge and take it to a bbq or just eat it all yourself.

**You might wonder why I’d recommend roasting veggies when it’s so hot outside. Well, I like how cold roasted vegetables taste and besides the time commitment, the recipe is pretty easy. Watch a show or read a book while the veggies roast!

**This recipe could be vegan if you omit the cheese, honey, and bacon, just saying. It would also do fine without the garlic!

Gluten Free Meatballs

As I’ve mentioned before, organizing a gluten free diet can be a little more difficult that planning a conventional one. However, instead of dwelling on the fact that so much is off limits, it’s much more fun (and useful) to think of delicious alternatives that don’t harm one’s body. When you are eating gluten-free, you have to look out for gluten in all of its sneaky forms. This captor lurks in the most hidden places: soups, fried foods, soy sauce, meat substitutes, and obviously most breads (which unfortunately includes pizza). It gets especially hard when you enjoy cooking for and with other people. However, finding alternatives and substitutions for gluten can be fun, and when the experiments are successful it’s very gratifying and delicious.

A friend and I and are splitting a meat CSA this summer from Simply Wisconson. GB and I came home from vacation to a freezer full of meat. I realize if you’re vegetarian, this probably sounds disgusting. But, if you’re a meat eater knowing you are supporting small farms with sustainable practices actually makes the meat taste even better. We received pork chops, a ham steak (uncured and huge), ground beef, italian sausage, chicken thighs, chicken legs, two large steaks, and ground bison. Now, I love a good hamburger, but lately I’ve been craving meatballs. Unfortunately, most meatball recipes contain gluten. So, I decided to make a new recipe, and it turned out well.

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Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground Italian sausage
1 egg
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cups mushrooms, stems removed, caps diced
1/2 cup gluten free breadcrumbs*** (if you are not on a GF diet, feel free to use conventional breadcrumbs)
2 TBS butter
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS tomato paste
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
1 cup basil (chiffonade cut) loosely packed, divided in half
Salt TT
Pepper TT
1/4 cup lemon zest (for sauce)
1 TBS “good olive oil” (for sauce)
1 1/2 tsp balsamic (for sauce)

Directions
1. If it started frozen, Make sure your meat is thawed, but keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Warm meat is gross and a breeding ground for nasty bacteria.

2. Prep all your ingredients, cut them up and measure out everything else, so you’re not running around your kitchen. Now’s a good time to preheat your oven to 350.

3. Toast your gf breadcrumbs in the oven with the butter for about 10-15 minutes. I made my own gf breadcrumbs by using my food processor to chop up a gf English muffin. Gf products tend to be a bit more temperamental than conventional flour based products, so keep a close eye on your breadcrumbs toasting. Take them out the oven and let them cool a bit.

4. Combine garlic, thyme, rosemary, oregano, 1 TBS olive oil, little salt, little pepper, chopped mushroom caps, and tomato paste. Cook at 350 for 10 minutes. Take this mixture out of the oven and let it cool a bit.

5. Now, take your meat out of the fridge. Combine the Italian sausage and ground beef. Add the egg. I started by using my food processor to mix everything, but ended up preferring my hands. After the meat and egg are combined, add the breadcrumbs and mushroom mix. Now add the remaining regular olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and mix it up. Lastly, add 1/2 cup of the basil chiffonade. Make sure everything is well blended.

6. Now it’s time to make the mix into little meatballs! I like to put the meatballs on a sheetpan covered with parchment paper. After I’ve made all the meatballs, I like to put them in the fridge so they firm up a bit before I cook them. I left them in the fridge for about a half hour.

7. You could cook these meatballs a variety of ways. I put some of them on skewers and threw them on the grill. The rest I cooked on the stove top. You could boil them, or whatever. I liked cooking them on the stovetop because the outsides got a little crusty and the insides remained tender. It is important to cook them through. Since I used meat that was previously frozen, I did not freeze these meatballs. If you buy meat that had never been frozen feel free to freeze these guys.

8. Eating the meatballs fresh off the grill was tasty, but I preferred eating them cooked over the stovetop topped with a little lemon zest, fancy olive oil from California, and freshly chopped basil. I love tomato sauce, but this was a nice alternative for a hot summer evening.

Greek Veggie Burgers

Hi Friends. Sorry I’ve been MIA. As previously mentioned, I’m starting to post again. So, drumroll… Here we go.

This morning, my friend Jodie gave me part of her bumper crop of tarragon (along with rosemary and some chives)… Thanks Jodie, Have fun in CA!

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I was particularly excited to receive such a wonderful surprise, since I had already decided to make veggie burgers for lunch, and needed some fresh herbs. The restaurant where I am a server has a fantastic house-made veggie burger. I’m a dedicated carnivore, and sometimes I still crave it. The basis of the burger is quinoa, which I’ve talked about on this blog before. I’m always looking for new ways to do old things, so when I had some left over quinoa yesterday, I knew what I’d be making today. Also, I’ve recently become obsessed with all things that fall into the category of Greek/Middle Eastern Food. Now, I know that’s a HUGE category, and I’m not strictly following recipes, but the things I’ve been making lately are definitely influenced by a Grecian sensibility- olive oil, feta, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers; what’s not to like? As the weather gets warmer, refreshing food becomes a top priority and the Greeks seem to have figured it out pretty well.

Ingredients
1 & 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (I used red, but brown will work too)
1 can garbanzo beans
3/4 cup cracked buckwheat (you can use Bulgar wheat too, I’m just trying to stay gluten free)
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh oregano to taste ( I used 1/4 cup)
Fresh tarragon to taste ( I used 1/4 cup)

Supplies
Food processor (an immersion or regular blender would work too)
Sheet tray
Parchment Paper (BEST STUFF EVER!!!)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut parchment paper to size and place on top of sheet tray.
2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until mixture is combined. It should be thick but pliable and definitely not dripping wet.
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3. Once the mixture is to your desired texture, stop pulsing it and remove it from the bowl.
4. Form into patties place on parchmented (? is that a word) sheet tray and cook for 25 minutes, opening oven to flip the burgers half-way through the cooking time.
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5. Remove patties from the oven and serve on a bun if you like. I served mine on a bed of spinach with chopped cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a lemon-olive oil vinaigrette. Iced green tea with lemon and ginger as well as Greek yogurt w/ honey helped to round out the meal.
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*This will make much more than one serving. It freezes very well, just make sure you form it into individual patties before you freeze it.

**Also, it’s good to be back.

***Also, ginger, lemon, green tea is good.
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Mexican Potato Chowder

Huh. It appears that the only thing I have been eating for the past month is soup. That statement is mostly true. Soups are easy to invent, delicious, and time friendly. Today, we’re taking a departure from the Indian food, and taking advantage of the Mexican grocery stores that are abundant in Chicago. It should be noted that this recipe is not vegetarian, kosher, or particularly healthy, but it is delicious and perfect for evening when your plans include watching Gossip Girl and complaining about your period. This recipe is also nearly impossible without an immersion blender, but use your brain and improvise something! It doesn’t need to be blended, I just like building my base that way. I’m serving it with some tortillas.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup ground Chorizo (preferably fresh)
3 carrots, grated (about 1.5 cups)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large onion chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large can of peeled whole tomatoes and their juices. (28oz size)
28 oz. water (use the can from the tomatoes)
1.5 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded
4 pickled serrano peppers, chopped (EXNAY!!! After further thought and taste, this makes the recipe nearly too spicy to enjoy, without the aid of A TON of sour cream. If the dish isn’t spicy enough, each taster can add her own hot sauce. )
2 peppers, chopped (I used red and orange, don’t use green)
5 large potatoes, chopped
1.5 cup cream cup cream
1 lime
Sour cream
Tortilla Strips
Large pot for cooking

Recipe:
*Please read all the ingredients first. Chop them up accordingly. It’s very important to do this because it will make your life much easier.

1. Simmer olive oil in pot until it is shimmering.
2. Add chorizo and cook until it is no longer raw.
3. Add carrots, onion, celery and garlic to the cooked chorizo. Its ok that it is still red- chorizo is prespiced with red spices.
4. Cook this for about 5 minutes, or until the onions get soft. Adjust the heat as needed so that nothing burns.
5. Add your tomatoes and water.
6. Take your immersion blender and blend everything in the pot until it is smooth.
7. Add your cumin and oregano, stir.
8. Add your jalapenos and serranos
9. Add your potatoes, cook until tender.
10. Add cream, cook until it it’s to the temperature you desire.

Serve this with a dollop of sour cream, a squeeze of fresh lime, and tortilla strips on top. It pairs well with quesadillas, but then you’ll have to work out tomorrow.

curry enchiladas and mashed cauliflower

Indian and Mexican cuisine are a great example of (nearly) opposites attracting. I apoligize, I am still camera-less, but still excited about Mr. Obama being my (nearly) president, so I’ll forgive my camera being dead. Earlier in the week, I had my friend Lisa over for dinner and Gossip Girl (a must watch for Monday nights). Lisa is a vegetarian and I am not. Most people in my life try to be vegetarians most of the time (see my roommate) so, it is not hard for me to cook vegetarian food. It’s an enjoyable challenge, met with vigor and enthusiasm on my part.

I served some vegetable soup (a variation on a previously posted recipe, unfrozen), mashed cauliflower, and curry enchiladas. I’ll detail the recipes below.

Since I am trying extra hard not to eat wheat these days, sometimes things feel pretty grim. I wanted Indian food. My friend is in India right now, and it’s been on my mind as well as in the news. Is it tacky that a crisis gives me a craving? Probably, but what’s a better way to express concern than through sharing a meal with someone you love? All the good energy we shared during our meal was directed towards India, so I’ll try not to feel too guilty about it.

Mashed Cauliflower
Ingredients:
1 large head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup half and half
2 different teaspoons of salt
As much pepper as you like
1 8×8 pan
An oven preheated to 350 degrees
Hand blender (makes it easier, a regular blender or potato masher will do well if you don’t have this amazing appliance)
1 large/medium sized bowl

Recipe
1. Clean your cauliflower.
2. Chop off the green parts
3. Dice the remaining parts of cauliflower into smaller pieces (all this should fit in the previously mentioned 8×8 pan)
4. Place the chopped cauliflower in the pan, drizzle with olive oil
5. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt
6. Place in oven
7. Roast for 30-45 minutes (everybody’s oven is different)
8. After it’s roasted, the cauliflower should be soft. Move the roasted cauliflower into the bowl (if you’re using a blender, place it in the blender… if you’re using a masher, place it in the bowl)
9. To the bowl (or blender) add the half and half and butter. The cauliflower should still be quite warm, so the butter will melt without a problem.
10. With your hand blender, (or masher, or regular blender) mix up all the ingredients until they are blended and smooth. Add the remaining salt and pepper when you feel like it.

This dish is great. Cauliflower is very nutritious and this is a fantastic way to incorporate it into you diet along with butter and half and half. Just kidding. It’s better than mashed potatoes, but still not super healthy. I must note, this dish is not for people who do not like cauliflower. I happen to love it, so it worked out well, but not so much for Lisa.

And now to the big shebang: Curry Enchiladas
As I mentioned before, not eating wheat totally blows. There’s no other way to get around it. So, instead of mourning the loss of naan with my Indian food, I decided to just let it be and make Indian style enchiladas. This recipe has a few parts: Filling, Sauce, and Corn Tortillas. Read the whole recipe before you begin because it has several parts that need to be happening at the same time.

Filling for Indian Enchiladas:
Ingredients
1 large potato
2 tablespoons Tandoori Masala Spice
1 tablespoon Curry Spice
1 teaspoon crushed Coriander
1 small onion
1 clover garlic
1/2 cup olive oil (separated into 4 1/8 cups)
As much salt as you like- I used Kosher Salt
1 large pot
1 large pan
1 small pan

1. In the large pot, boil your peeled potato until it is tender.
2. While the potato is boiling, saute the onions in 1/8 cup olive.
3. Combine the curry, tandoori, and coriander with the remaining olive oil into a paste. Once the onions are sizzling and fragrant, add this paste into the onion and olive oil already on the pan. Let that marinate for a minute or ten.
4. By this time (about a half hour) the potato should be soft. Strain the potato and chop it into small square pieces. After that, combine it with the curried onions.
5. Cook the potatoes in the pan with the onions until they get caramelized on the edges. Since you’ll be cooking the sauce at the same time, you can let the potatoes brown. I let the brown for about 45 minutes.

CONCURRENTLY: Curry Sauce
Ingredients
1 15oz can Coconut Milk
1/4 cup curry powder
1 tablespoon tandoori spice
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, chopped
1/4 cup water
Salt to taste
1 medium sized sauce pan

Recipe
1. Open the coconut milk and pour it into the sauce pan. Make sure you get all the solids from the can into the saucepan. I put the water needed for the recipe in the can, caught all the remnants and then poured that into the sauce pan.
2. Add all the spices and ginger.
3. Bring mixture to a boil, turn down and let reduce. You can taste test it now and decide how much salt you want.
4. When it is reduced to a thickness similar to mole, you are finished!

Once your filling and sauce is done, you are ready to roll the mix into tortillas.

Curry Enchiladas:
Ingredients
Potato/ Onion Filling
8 Corn Tortillas
8 slices Chihuahua Cheese
Curry Sauce
4 x 9 Pan
Oven preheated to 350 (f)

Recipe
1. Prepare your tortillas by laying them flat and placing half a slice of cheese in the middle of each.
2. On top of the cheese, place the potato/onion filling.
3. Roll the tortillas so that the filling will not come out.
4. Place the stuffed tortillas in the pan, again so the filling is not coming out (I did this one at a time and had some help from toothpicks to keep things closed)
5. Once your pan is filled, cover the stuffed tortillas with the remaining slices of cheese, halved so that everything is symmetrical.
6. Once the cheese is in place, pour all of the curry sauce on the stuffed tortillas
7. Place in the oven and let cook for 30-45 minutes (everybody’s oven is different)

These are really tasty. Too bad I don’t have a camera at the moment. bah humbug.
It’s worth noting that without the cheese, this recipe is vegan, so that’s a plus if you are one or know some.
Also, these keep really well in the fridge and are easily reheated in your oven.

PS: Not everybody has such immense access to cheap specialty ingredients in the town where one resides. A quick Google search informed me that there is an immense variety of authentic Indian food available on the internet for much less than typical grocery store prices. I’m sure that shipping makes it more expensive, but Garam Masala from McCormick’s isn’t nearly as tasty (and is 5x more expensive) as the real deal.

PPS: We paired this with a variation on a gin gimlet.
St. Germain Gimlet

Ingredients
1.5 oz Hendricks Gin (Plymouth would probably be better)
.75 oz St. Germain
1 oz fresh Lime Juice
.25 oz simple syrup
Ice
Shaker

Recipe
1. Place Gin, Germaine, lime juice, and simple syrup in shaker over ice.
2. Shake.
3. Serve in a martini glass.

clear broth soup

I know it’s a weird title. Most soup seems to be broth based, and I believe you’re correct in thinking so. However, I take a less scientific approach. Cream based soups don’t seem very broth-y. I feel, a broth is a clear substance. Once you add cream or a starch, it becomes something different- a chowder or a bisque. Tonight, I had a successful experiment. It’s too bad my camera is broken, or I would be posting some lovely pictures of an easy weeknight soup. (FYI, you can make it on the weekend… the weeknight description implies its low levels of effort)

Ingredients:
2 cups Mushroom stock (you can find this at Trader Joes or Whole foods, I’m sure you can also make your own, but I was feeling lazy, so I used Better than Bullion)
1 cup tomato juice
1 large carrot, grated
1 12 oz. package of chopped baby portabello mushrooms
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
1 chopped shallot
2 tbs. unsalted butter (I am totally loving Plugra right now)
1 package of frozen sweet corn
1 tbs poultry mix spices (I live in an Ukrainian neighborhood, and have been enjoying the spice mixes that the local stores carry. If you don’t happen to live in a neighborhood of people still bitter about the USSR, I believe a mix of rosemary, thyme, tarragon, dill, and a pinch of mint will work well)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 half teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 large pot
1 small pot
1 small pan

RECIPE
1. Boil your mushroom stock however you need to.
2. In a separate, (larger) pot, melt 1 tbs. of butter. Add the shallots and garlic.
3. In a different pan, on lower heat, melt the left over butter. When it is melted, add your herb blend. Turn it to a very low heat. You don’t want to burn the herbs.
5. Once the shallots and garlic release their glorious perfumes, add the grated carrot to the very large pot.
6. When the carrot starts to steam, add the cup of tomato juice to the large pot.
7. After your mushroom stock is ready, pour it into the larger pot.
8. Let it blend for a few moments, until it boils
9. Add the buttered herbs, from the pan into the larger pot.
10. Add the corn, tomatoes, and mushrooms to the larger pot.
11. Turn the heat on the large pot onto low, and let it simmer for about an hour. Take a shower, do your taxes, surf the net. Write another draft of that email to your friend who you miss but don’t know how to talk to. Whatever, I’m sure you’ll find a way to occupy your time.
12. Serve your soup! (I found it worked well with a grated apple, Mahon cheese, arugula, and raspberry salad) Also, try this ginger liquor as a pre-dinner treat!!!

It was good and pretty. I wish my camera wasn’t dead.

pea souffle

Yesterday, my friend Sarah took me for a birthday lunch to Blackbird. If you can pardon my french, it was a much needed kick in the ass. I’ve been feeling “blah” about food lately. Yeah, you eat it. Yeah, sometimes it tastes good. Our lunch was seriously amazing, and was a wonderful reminder that food, when done correctly is sublime and memorable. Art that becomes a part of you, no matter how cheesy that sounds, it’s the truth.

So tonight, excited about the culinary once again (I imagine a career with food is much like a marriage- loving the basics, but being constantly surprised by the endless possibility in what you love) I tried something new. I love recipes, but cooking without them is more than slightly liberating. Why follow a recipe when I can make my own? This evening, faced with a limited pantry, I do believe I came up with something worth repeating. Repeat it yourself and enjoy.

Pea Souffle
.5 lb frozen peas
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup pickled garlic relish (any oily garlic will do, so if you don’t have access to garlic relish, just roast a head of garlic for 45 minutes with olive oil and blend with curry when they are roast)
4 eggs
2 tablespoons Madras Curry
*A hand blender is super handy in this recipe
** You will need a muffin tin, or if you are fancier and more prepared than I, souffle dishes. Butter them before you have too many Mai Tais.

Preheat you oven to 350 degrees, Farenheit

Thaw your peas. I boiled and strained them
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Next, I blended them with the handblender. If you don’t have a handblender, you can use a regular one but it will be more time intensive.
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Then put your garlic and curry in the mix, and blend that.
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After the garlic, add the yogurt and the 4 eggs, mix with a spoon til smooth. Then, pour into muffin tins, or if you are fancy, souffle dishes. Make sure that you butter the baking instruments before you plop the mixture in.
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FYI. I know it looks a little like baby poop. Just trust me, ok? Bake it at 350 for about a half hour. Eyeball it, pork it with a knife if need be. You know how your oven works better than I do. (I hope)

The mix should be puffy and a little golden around the edges by the time you take it out. Give some to your roommate and pair it with Siracha and a little coriander chutney, she’ll be happy… look!
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Not bad for a Tuesday night.
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If you’re feeling dull about food, just look in your pantry.

housewarming

Last night, Danielle and I hosted our housewarming party/ bbq. Since I work Saturdays and Fridays, and we both wanted something pretty low key, we thought a Sunday afternoon gathering would be nice and relaxing. We decided to provide some snacks and drinks, and asked people to supplement with their own. Danielle left the menu planning up to me, and I was stumped at first… and then I wasn’t. We decided to make samosas and gin and tonics.

I suppose you could try and find the ingredients for Indian cooking at Dominick’s, or pay too much for them at Whole Foods, but me being me, I decided to ride my bike up to Devon Street to get some authentic Indian ingredients for a reasonable price. On Saturday morning, I went on quite the bike ride, including the other errands in my neighborhood, calculations show that I rode at least 17 miles on my bike in the span of about 3 hours. I woke up early on Saturday, and I ended up going to Patel Brothers, because it was open. Patel Brothers has a lot of great stuff, but it can feel a little corporate, ala Trader Joe’s. Most things appear to be store brand, which allows for great quality control, but feels like… Trader Joe’s, not an awesome Indian grocery. Online, I’ve found that they have quite the network of groceries all over the country. The house brand name is “Swad…. The Best Taste In Town” which is a quaint tag line. I wonder if it sounds quaint on purpose, because if they’re being serious, maybe they should say the “Swad…. The Best Taste in North America.” Anyway, I digress. I picked up tons if Indian treats, for a quarter of what they would cost at Whole Paycheck. After trudging home on my bike, I went to pick up some gin and tonic for the party.

The problem with cheap gin is that it tastes like cheap gin. Most people have an aversion to this kind of gin, and I am cheap. What to do? We were making samosas, so I was intent on having gin and tonics, because they were invented in India by the British East India Company. I decided to buy cheap gin, and infuse it with cucumber. I only did this overnight, and it made a significant difference in the taste. I’m curious to see what happens if I let it sit for a week. To make infused gin:

Ingredients:
1 handle Seagrams or other inexpensive gin
2 large English cucumbers, peeled and chopped
3 drops rosewater
A small handful of fresh mint leavea (if you are infusing this over a longer period of time than a day, I would omit the mint.

Directions:
1.Chop up the peeled cucumbers
2. Put in a pitcher
3. Drip in the rosewater
4. Throw in the mint
5. Muddle it up
6. Cover with gin
7. Let sit covered in a dark place for at least 24 hours

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While the gin was infusing, Danielle and I made a lot of samosas. Samosas, despite what you might have been told, are not hard to make, however they are extremely labor intensive. I was struck with how Samosa Kohl (dough) is very similar to Pâte Brisée but MUCH easier to make. Some other day, when I decide to eat wheat again, I will try to make a quiche using Samosa Kohl. I used this recipe, and found it to work extremely well.
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We made 3 different fillings: potato carrot, potato pea paneer, and chickpea spinach paneer.
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They fried up quite nicely and were a hit at the party.
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We had quite the spread of chutneys and tasty snacks. I guarentee that Indian food has the best options in the world for snacking. Here’s a picture before the guests arrive
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Some people also brought cool food to share.

Laryssa brought a pineapple boat
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Ena brought a salad from her garden
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Mary brought deviled eggs
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This delicious syrup used with the infused gin, but I am still working on perfecting my recipe for a drink I’d like to call the Rose Garden…. Stay tuned.
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Here’s me and D, in socks, so our dirty feet don’t mess up the floor that our main men cleaned for us.
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