Month: October 2014

Scrumptious Smoothies: Strawberry Banana

 

Banan Strawberry Smoothie

 

When I lived on the East Coast, I was obsessed with Planet Smoothie. Their Leapin’ Lizard smoothie was the greatest thing since sliced bread and I just could not get enough of it.

After moving out to the West Coast, I tried Jamba Juice and Smoothie King, but was not satisfied.  Jamba Juice has great ingredients, but unless that smoothie is made of pure gold, it is (in my opinion) waaaay overpriced! Smoothie King is just- well, no.

 

So, after buying my blender I got to work trying to recreate the Leapin’ Lizard!

 

The result is kind of a smoothie, but it’s definitely on the border between smoothie and fruit drink. It’s very thin and not creamy, just juicy!

 

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

(makes two!)

Ingredients

1 cup frozen strawberries*
2 frozen bananas*
1 cup orange juice

Banana Strawberry Smoothie

 

First, freeze the strawberries and the  peeled bananas. The bananas should be frozen through, but the strawberries need time to defrost a bit before you use them.

 

Take out the strawberries and the bananas. Sliced the bananas while the strawberries defrost and put them into the blender.

Using your sharpest knife, cut off the stems of the strawberries. Place those into the blender along with the bananas.

Add in the OJ and blend! You can add more OJ if you want, but I really love that strawberry-banana flavor, and I didn’t want it to be overpowered by the orange.

 

Enjoy!

Banana Strawberry Smoothie

 

*You can use frozen fruit for this, but I prefer fresh fruit that has been prepared, then placed in the freezer for a few hours. At least here in California, fresh fruit also tends to be less expensive than frozen fruit.

 

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Scrumptious Smoothies: Banana Almond Oatmeal

banana almond oatmeal

 

I recently purchased a blender/food processor combo. This is quite possibly the best culinary purchase I have ever made- I kid you not! I am in love with the ability to make soups, sauces, dressings, and smoothies so easily!!

 

I would definitely recommend this tool for your kitchen, as it provides a function that is not really possible manually and it also doesn’t take up too much counter space. This is not a kitchen “gadget,” as I would say. Gadgets are unnecessary. They just take up space in the kitchen- things like mixers and garlic peelers and whoopie pie molds. I mean, let’s be honest- how often are you really going to use those things? How much time to they actually save you?

 

I am not at all into excess. My kitchen is necessarily Spartan, as I just don’t have much room to store things. But ,but, but,the blender is soooo necessary. It really opens up the possibilities for your kitchen, and is functional in a way that I never suspected, but will never take for granted again!!

 

So, in honor of my new purchase, I am doing a smoothie series. These are easy smoothie/drink recipes that can be made in a blender. They are all absolutely delicious and I am convinced that it would actually be difficult to go wrong with fruit in a blender!!

banana almond oatmeal

Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
(adapted from the NYT)

 

Makes 2 smoothies

Ingredients
2 tablespoons chia seeds
8 tablespoons water
2 bananas
4 tablespoons oats
6 tablespoons boiling water
2 cups almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 teaspoons agave nectar

banana almond oatmeal

Do Ahead: Put your chia seeds in a large ramekin, and cover with the water. Let them soak in the refrigerator for 3 hours. Peel the bananas and put them in the freezer for 3 hours.

Hint: peeling the bananas is really really necessary. I did not do this the first time and a frozen banana is not easy to peel.

banana almond oatmeal

 

First, take your soaked chia seeds from the refrigerator and your banana from the freezer to let them warm up a bit.

banana almond oatmeal

Put the rolled oats in a ramekin with the boiling water and let them sit and cook for about 15 minutes.

banana almond oatmeal

 

Slice the bananas, and place them into the blender with the almond milk.

banana almond oatmeal

Add in the chia seeds, vanilla extract, almond butter, and agave nectar.

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Check on the oatmeal and make sure that it is cooked.

 

Add the oatmeal into the blender.

banana almond oatmeal

 

Blend everything together on high speed, until the mixture is smooth.

banana almond oatmeal

Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later consumption!

banana almond oatmeal

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a good blender, I use the cuisine art duo, (food processor/blender combo). To get the best bang for your buck, you can also check out Comparaboo’s page on blenders.

Eggs Florentine

eggs florentine

To piggyback off of William’s eggs Benedict post, I’d like to share the meal I had that morning.

 

Weekends are absolutely my favorite time, and for one reason in particular: breakfast! I. Love. Breakfast. For this breakfast, we decided to do something a little bit different than your typical pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon. We made eggs Benedict and eggs Florentine entirely from scratch. So: homemade English muffins, homemade Hollandaise sauce, and homemade toppings. For my vegetarian dish, I added sauteed spinach, roasted tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and cilantro. It was incredible and I will definitely be making this again!

eggs florentine

 

Eggs Florentine

 

Ingredients
(makes 1 serving)

3 cups fresh spinach
1 clove garlic
1 English muffin (you can find my recipe here.)
salted butter
4 cherry tomatoes
2 eggs
white vinegar
2 tablespoons coarsely shaved Parmesan
1/3 cup Hollandaise (my recipe is linked here.)
fresh cilantro
olive oil, kosher salt, cracked black pepper to taste

 

First, mince the garlic and wash the spinach.

eggs florentine

Add a bit of olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Add in the spinach and the garlic and sautee until the spinach is just wilted, but still a bright green color!

eggs florentine

While the spinach is cooking, cut the English muffin into two and grill it in another pan in the salted butter. (Cast iron is great here, if you have it!)

english muffins

When the spinach is done cooking, sprinkle it generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Next, set the English muffin on the plate, and being assembling the eggs Florentine. Arrange the spinach on top of the English muffin.

eggs florentine

Now, slice the cherry tomatoes in half. In the same pan that you sauteed the spinach in, over medium-high heat, place the 4 cherry tomatoes. Grill them on both sides until they are darkened and almost crispy, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.

Add them to your eggs Florentine stack!

eggs florentine

Next, poach your eggs in vinegar-water. If you have an egg poacher, I would definitely recommend using it! Old-school egg poaching is easy after you get the hang of it. The first few times, you will probably have ugly poached eggs or have to start over. If you’re interested in try it: simply prepare a pot of water as if you were going to boil the eggs. Fill it mostly with water, then add in a good splash of white vinegar. Get this heating, and take your eggs from the refrigerator. Once the eggs have warmed a bit, and the water reaches a rolling boil, turn the water down until it is calm (no violent bubbling) but still very hot! With a spoon ready, crack the eggs one at a time into the water. Use the spoon to keep the whites next to the yolk, until it is cooked enough to stay together on its own. Let them cook until they reach your desired level of doneness (I like mine fairly runny). One last hint: use the non-stickiest pot that you own! If the eggs stick to the bottom, you risk breaking them open when you try to pull them off.

 

After your eggs are done, add them to the top of the stack.

eggs florentine

Like I said, I like mine very runny!

Cover the warm eggs with the Parmesan so that it melts a bit.

 

Top it all off with the Hollandaise, cilantro, and more salt and pepper! You can also add cayenne to the top, if you like!

eggs florentine

 

Enjoy!

 

eggs florentine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eggs Benedict

IMG_1817

 

To go with every great homemade English muffin, it’s always good to make a classic eggs Benedict. In this post I’m not going to explain the details for making the hollandaise sauce, but you can find it in this earlier post.

Eggs Benedict
makes 1 serving

Ingredients
2 eggs
4 slices of Serrano ham
4 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons shaved, Paremsan-Reggiano cheese
kosher salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

 

To start you need to prepare the various layers of the eggs Benedict.

First, slice the cherry tomatoes in half and then place them skin side up in a hot frying pan.  Let them sit for about 3 minutes or until they’re slightly blackened.

Once the tomatoes have been cooked, place the ham in the same frying pan with a little olive oil for about 6 minutes or until it is somewhat crispy.

When that part is done you can start to assemble your creation. Start with half of an English muffin, then add the ham.

Ham First

Then add the blackened tomatoes to the top

Parmasean Reggiano

Next, add the Parmesan-Reggiano
Parmesan Reggiano  Third

After the base of your eggs Benedict has been set up, it’s time for star of the dish – the poached egg. When you poach an egg, it is definitely easiest to use an egg poacher. These guys create beautiful, less messier poached eggs and are really useful if you like eggs Benedict or really anything with poached eggs! If you’re looking for the best and most affordable egg poaching mechanisms, you can find a great list here on Comparaboo.

 

In my kitchen, until I get a chance to buy an egg poacher, I do it the old-school way. Boiling vinegar and water together in a deep pot creates a liquid that will poach the egg without the yolk turning green. The idea is also that the whites stay together. However, the water temperature must be perfect. The water needs to have been boiling, but with the heat reduced enough that there are no bubbles running rampant through it that would make a mess of the whites, which will take longer to cook. When the water and vinegar mixture reaches this state, you can crack an egg and drop it in, immediately using a spoon to keep the whites close to the yolk. It might be messy, and the first time around you might lose an egg or two (which is why I recommend an egg poacher). If you get the whites together, just slightly cooked, you can then cover the pot and let the egg poach for a few minutes, or until it is your desired consistency.  Next, lift it out with a draining spoon and place it on your stacked Benedict construction!

Poached Egg

To top it off, pour your hollandaise sauce on, dress it with cilantro, and sprinkle it with kosher salt and pepper!

Finished Dish

 

Enjoy!

-William

Homemade Hollandaise Sauce

benedict This is just a quick and easy hollandaise sauce recipe that you can use for eggs Benedict and eggs Florentine. This recipe does not result in a sauce that is super thick or creamy. To be honest, I also love the McCormick packets for instant hollandaise. It’s really simple and mindless, so for a good alternative, I’d recommend that brand!


  I have a new method of making this sauce that produces a creamier, richer sauce. During the process of making this, there were many ups and downs, but it was, in the end, a success! It all started one summer morning during a Food Network TV binge. I watched an episode of the Pioneer Woman in which she made eggs Benedict with a creamy, delicious-looking hollandaise. Taken in by her country charm and casual demeanor, I immediately decided to try out her recipe. So, I texted my fiancé, “we’re not having pasta tonight– we’re having eggs Benedict.” Now, the Pioneer Woman puts all the ingredients into a blender, which sounds too easy to be true– and that is exactly how worked out for us. Somehow, I managed to curdle the mixture (which is all but unsalvageable when it comes to making a smooth, creamy sauce). After many desperate attempts at saving my creation (including the use of flour, corn starch, and more heat), I slammed the broken sauce onto the counter. As I watched the little, curdled chunks slide down the bowl, I felt my stomach growl and my hopes sink. Maybe we would not be having eggs Benedict tonight with a creamy Pioneer Woman sauce, maybe we would be eating In- N- Out. Extremely exasperated and frustrated, I left the kitchen for a moment and just did a bit of research on how thick sauces work. Chemically, there is a TON going on, so for me the blender method was probably not great as it separated me from the temperature of my ingredients too much. I need to be in full control when making a sauce like this. So, I came back into the kitchen and got out a pot. I read that clarified butter actually makes for a creamier sauce, so I strained out all of the curds and crap from my previous attempt, and ended up with a 1/2 cup of clarified butter. What a happy accident! Paying very close attention to my mixture and its temperature the entire time worked for me. It used more pots and pans at the end of the day, and we used a buttload of egg yolks (whoops), but I’ve got it down! We did not have blender, Pioneer Woman hollandaise that night, but we did have some damn good eggs Benedict. For some folks, the blender method might be awesome and convenient. If you are savvy enough to get the chemistry right on that one, bravo!! For me, that just did not work at all. I found the old fashioned route to be much more successful, and (in the end) it resulted in a delicious hollandaise experience!   benedict Hollandaise Sauce makes about 4 servings Ingredients 2 egg yolks 1 1/2 teaspoons water 1/2 cup salted butter (clarified butter if you want an extra creamy sauce) 1/2 lemon, juiced 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon ground black pepper optional 1/2 teaspoon minced, fresh rosemary pinch of paprika pinch of cayenne hollandaise First, separate out the egg yolks from the whites. I like to put the whites into a plastic container. You can refrigerate them for a few days and then use them for a nice, healthy omelet or scramble. hollandaise In a small saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and water over medium heat. Many people use a double boiler for this, but I like complete temperature control, so if the mixture starts simmering, I pull the pot away from the heat! Whisk the egg yolks and water over the heat constantly. Keep going until they become thick and ribbony, pulling the pot away from heat if you see any signs of simmering. This will take some time, usually around 5 minutes. Make sure you don’t see any signs of curdling, and use your whisk to stir even the edges of the pot. Once you’ve formed the sabayon, you can add in the butter and lemon juice. Melt the butter in a saucepan or the microwave and set aside to cool. Make sure that the butter has cooled enough not to cook the egg yolks before folding them in. I was lucky enough to have royally screwed up so many things already, that I at least had my butter melted and on standby. It might be a good idea to melt the butter first, just to make sure it has cooled enough while you make the sabayon. After the butter has cooled, fold in the egg yolk mixture and whisk to combine. Add in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. If you would like to add in any of the extra spices, you can do that last, or even use them as a garnish for the Benedict. Add to the assembled eggs Benedict and enjoy! benedict        

 

Grilled, Cornmeal, English Muffins

english muffins

Homemade English muffins are a lot like homemade guacamole. They are mouthwateringly delicious in comparison to the poorly created and tasteless grocery store brands. I say this lovingly, as someone who used to buy prepackaged English muffins.

Now, there are three key factors that go into a good, homemade English muffin. First, the dough, once cut into circles, should be rolled in corn meal. Second, they should be grilled in salted butter not unsalted butter (or vegetable shortening if you’re vegan). Third, use tipo 00 flour if you can. This flour is ground very finely and really makes for a nice, dense muffin that is not dry at all.

Finally, an important note: this recipe can be made with whole milk, but I made it with almond milk and it is delicious that way! Making it with almond milk also means that these English muffins are vegan! Never did I ever think that I would taste something vegan and think it was so delicious!

Also, this recipe is SUPER easy, so that’s a plus! It makes a small batch of muffins, and is doable the morning of for a great brunch or breakfast.

If you want to use these for eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce, you can find a Benedict recipe here and the sauce recipe here.

 

Grilled, Cornmeal, English Muffins

(makes 7-9 muffins)

Ingredients

1/2 cup almond milk or whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 cups tipo 00 flour (or AP if you don’t have this)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
cormeal for dusting
salted butter for grilling (or extra vegetable shortening for the vegans)

english muffins

First, in a small saucepan, warm the milk until it begins simmering and then remove it from heat. Let it cool down just until it’s lukewarm.

english muffins

Then, in a large bowl, combine the sugar with the warm water and the yeast. Let the yeast stand until the mixture becomes slightly thick and creamy (about 10-15 minutes). It will still be a little watery, don’t worry about this.

english muffins

Next, melt the shortening in the microwave.

english muffinsenglish muffins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the milk mixture and the melted shortening into the large bowl with the yeast. Add in 1 and a half cups of flour and stir everything together.

english muffinsenglish muffins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, add in the remaining flour and the kosher salt. Continue to stir with a paddle or rubber spatula until the dough comes together and is smooth.

english muffins

 

Knead the dough until it becomes soft and elastic. Then grease the bowl with a bit of the vegetable shortening and cover it. Let the dough rise for about one hour.

 

After the dough has risen, punch it down and role it out onto a floured work surface. You want to roll out a sheet that is about 1/2 inch thick.

english muffins

Using biscuit cutters, or the rims of glasses, cut out circles. You can recycle the dough to continue creating more circles until you’ve used up all of the dough.

english muffins

Next, roll the dough in some corn meal.

english muffinsenglish muffins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, place the muffins on a baking sheet in a warm place. Cover them and let them rise for an additional 30 minutes.

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Finally, prepare a griddle with butter or shortening and grill the muffins!

english muffinsenglish muffins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!

english muffins

 

 

Beer-Cheddar-Mustard Pull-Apart Bread

 

pull apart bread

Growing up in the South was heaven for a kid. Climbable magnolias and SEC football were everywhere. In our house, Autumn Saturdays were game days, and the living room echoed with curse words and the occasional War Eagle (in different ratios, depending on the year). These days were like something out of the Wonder Years, and any event like this always calls for a particular kind of snack.

You need something delicious and filling, because no real lunch will be served on this day. You need something easily shareable, because all of the other fans that have flocked to your TV will want a taste. This bread is the perfect gameday food.

pull apart bread

I mean, let’s run through a quick checklist: Beer- good; Cheddar Cheese- good; Mustard- good; Bread- mmmmmm. How could this possibly go wrong?

Okay, so this recipe isn’t the easiest thing to make. It does require some measuring and some careful instruction-following. But, if you make it to that moment when the bread comes out of the oven, piping hot and smelling delicious, you will feel as if you have just scored a game-winning touchdown.

pull apart bread

 

Beer-Cheddar-Mustard Pull-Apart Bread

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

for the bread:
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup dark beer
2 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 large eggs

pull apart bread

for the filling:
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (again, vegetarians, you can find an anchovy-free version at Whole Foods)
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoon mustard powder
2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

misc:
parchment paper recommended

pull apart bread

 

First, make the dough. In a small saucepan, heat the 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup of beer, just until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and add the remaining 1/3 cup beer. Set aside to cool down slightly.

 

Next,  stir together 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt. Add in the butter-beer mixture, stirring slowly. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined.

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Add the remaining 1/2 cup and 1/3 cup of all purpose flour and mix  everything until just combined. Next, flour the bowl lightly and knead it for five minutes, or until it becomes smooth.

pull apart bread

 

Oil the bowl and transfer dough to it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 50 to 60 minutes, until doubled. While the dough is rising, you can prepare the filling!

pull apart bread

 

Back in the same small saucepan you used for the butter and beer, melt the 4 tablespoons butter. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard, Worcestershire and hot sauce until smooth. Set aside.

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In the bottom of a medium bowl, stir together mustard powder, paprika, table salt and several grinds of black pepper. Add shredded cheddar and toss until grated strands are evenly coated with spices. After the cheese and spices are mixed, store this in the refrigerator to keep the cheese from going soft.

 

Now comes the more difficult part: assembling the bread. First, coat a 9-by-5 loaf pan with salted butter.

Next, prepare a work surface. Lay down parchment paper, and measure out a 20×12″ rectangle. I have found that marking the edges of this on the parchment paper with sharpie works best. Next measure out 12×4″ within this rectangle, and mark these measurements as well. Then flour the parchment and prepare to assemble the bread!

pull apart bread

 

Flatten and roll the dough into the 20-by-12-inch rectangle. This is a sticky dough, so it helps to repeatedly lift the dough off of the parchment and re-flour it to keep it from binding with the paper!

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Next, brush the butter-mustard-Worcestershire mixture evenly over the whole surface, right up to the edges.

Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips; use the 12-by-4 inches measurement on the parchment to make sure these strips are of equal size.

Sprinkle the first one evenly with a generous helping of the grated cheese. Gently place another strip on top of it, coat it with another heaping of cheese, and repeat with remaining strips until they are stacked 5-high and all of the cheese is used.

 

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Very carefully, with a sharp, serrated knife, use sawing motions to slice through every two inches of the pile. This should end with 6 or 7 two-inch piles.

Now, carefully arrange the stacks of dough, to stand in the loaf pan. If you have too many to fit (which is what always happens to me), simply push everything down to make more room! It helps while you are stacking to hold the pan upright. Sprinkle the top with any extra cheddar cheese you might have.

Loosely cover the pan with more plastic wrap and set it aside to rise again for 30 to 45 more minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake loaf for about 30 minutes, until it is puffed up and brown. Be sure not to let it cook too little, because if you do the dough in the center may not fully cook. Let the cheddar on the outside get nice and crispy before taking it out! If you have a convection oven, you’re better off here.

pull apart bread

Serve warm with cold beer. This bread really is best when it’s warm, but you can also enjoy it when it’s cold. I usually slice it up and put it in the oven with some garlic salt on top!

Enjoy!

pull apart bread