Monday, November 18, 2013

gluten-free baked good: buckwheat apple cake

It's Monday and a day off which means a couple of things have a higher degree of likelihood of occurring:  baking, writing/posting and adding new music to my playlists.  I baked this cake Friday and I'm baking a pie tomorrow for Greg's birthday so we're going for two out of three today.  Follow me on Spotify if you'd like some new music for your playlists too.

Maybe I'm the only one who goes to the store and buys an ingredient not usually on my list for a specific recipe and then the week gets away from me, I do not make that specific recipe and then I can't remember why I bought say, buckwheat flour.  Please tell me it's not just me.  So the buckwheat flour goes in ????? quest led me to this recipe which just happens to be gluten-free and well, delicious.  This is an old world cake made from buckwheat flour, almond flour and grated apple among other things more commonly found in cakes.  The original recipe calls for lingonberry jam which I actually had in my pantry for baked brie with lingonberries.  Plus if you ever go to Ikea, you kind of have to buy the lingonberry jam.  But, you have to eat it before the expiration date and since I missed that by a year, I used pomegranate jam.  I've shared that we can eat for days out of my pantries and I'm not exaggerating.

This cake is known as schwarzplententorte in German (I am half German so it's no wonder I loved this) or torta di granosaraceno in Italian (from northern Italy).  It's a snack cake.  It's very dense, not too sweet and absolutely perfect with coffee or tea.  Buckwheat flour is easily found in the bulk section of Whole Foods and the almond meal from Trader Joe's works great and will save you some pennies if you've priced almond flour at Whole Foods or the grocery.  The taste reminds me of poppy seed roll from the other side of my family, the Russian side.  It's a certain nuttiness.   Yum.

 a nice picture of a slice would have been fabulous, but there's not a crumb left

Buckwheat Apple Cake

1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C sugar
6 eggs, separated
2 C buckwheat flour
2 1/4 C almond meal
1 large apple, peeled and grated
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3/4 C lingonberry jam
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugar for a good 5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks (reserving the whites for later in the recipe) and beat until pale and creamy.  Add the buckwheat flour, almond meal, grated apple, vanilla and pinch of salt until just combined.
Beat the reserved egg whites into stiff peaks (I scraped the batter into another bowl, cleaned my mixer bowl and then used it to beat the egg whites but if you have two mixer bowls or a hand mixer this would be less complicated).  Gently fold whites into batter until well combined and pour into greased 10-inch cake round pan (if you use a different pan, springform or smaller cake pan you may have to bake it longer, just test it).
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes until cake is golden brown and a tester comes out clean.  Cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes and then carefully invert cake onto rack to cool.  When cool enough to handle, slice cake in half lengthwise (a nice long serrated bread knife works well).  Spread the bottom layer with the jam and replace the top layer.  Dust thickly with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

the new cookbook is here: grilled skirt steak with house steak sauce

No, no, no I have not written a cookbook.  It's in my goals on the walls at lululemon, but since I actually work at lululemon I feel very accomplished when I get one post written a week.  Remember when I would write three?  Me too.  Life has a very different rhythm that it did two and a half years ago.  I can't exactly say that I've settled into it really.  Just haven't completely found my groove.  Some days it's because I'm just tired.  Like Tuesdays, like today.  Mondays are one of my days off, but I always fill it to the brim:  spinning or yoga in the early morning, errands after class, walk with Greg before lunch, tennis after lunch and then home for a shower and before I know it:  time to make dinner. Why would I be tired on Tuesdays?  Some days it's because I just can't focus.  I want to, but I get distracted.  You know, I go up to put laundry away and end up cleaning a closet or I go outside to get the mail and end up working in my gardens for hours.  I think it's because no one really holds me accountable for all the domestic stuff.  It's always fine around here, or you can close a door and ignore it.  Greg is indifferent (a good thing) and would rather have company watching football than have me up in the kitchen organizing my cupboards (and they make so little sense after 12 years, it will happen eventually).  So that's how a cookbook does not get written.  That's why I write my blog.  Manageable bites of work.

But other people get their cookbooks written and I do occasionally buy them.  And with Amazon Prime, I can see one in the Oprah magazine and one-click it into my cart and have it at my door in 48 hours.  That's way too easy, by the way.  I had an entirely different plan for dinner until my new "The Lemonade Cookbook" showed up at the door.  Have we discussed Lemonade in LA?  On a whim Kelly and I ducked into one in Beverly Hills just a couple of hours before my flight home on a winter visit after she moved out to California.  It was just so cute with pretty hedges and tables outside on a (shocking) lovely day.  What a lucky find.  I am the girl that researches trips, but visiting Kelly frees me of that responsibility entirely.  She apparently learned from me very well and has taken entertaining out of town guests to a whole 'nother level.  She has excel spreadsheets with alternate plans for every block of time which comes in super handy in LA because traffic just might change your day entirely.  So Lemonade was not on the spreadsheet, but it has been every other trip.  And if I don't get to the Lemonade in Venice or wherever, I can get to LAX early and visit the one in the Delta terminal.  A little obsession.

Lemonade is fast-casual, Southern California comfort food served in a modern cafeteria setting to paraphrase the opening of the book.  It's vegetable-centric with my favorite plate being 6 half portions of the salads and sides.  If you know me, you know I take some fabulous dessert to go and smuggle it onto the plane for the ride home.  Oh yeah, the lemonades are amazing too but the real deal so they are sweet (but blueberry/mint or peach/ginger or green apple/jalapeno?  C'mon).  They always know a true Midwestern girl in LA.  I hope they appreciate that someone actually eats every delicious bite of the crazy good food they serve and orders a treat.

So this post is from dinner that was supposed to be butternut squash risotto, but then I started flipping pages and made the house steak sauce to go with skirt steak that Greg expertly grilled.  I also made a white wine vinaigrette to toss my par-boiled Brussels sprouts in before roasting them and serving them with some shaved Parmesan (recipe will also be posted).  Chopped a nice romaine salad and yum all around.

I would never use bottled steak sauce.  I would make this house steak sauce and serve it warm any day.       And the next time I make it I will know it's worthy of breaking out the camera for real step by step photos.  For now you'll have to do with this blurry iPhone photo of my dinner plate.

yep, need to use my real camera

buy it, or trust me that I'll share some highlights

Grilled Skirt Steak with House Steak Sauce

House Steak Sauce
1 T neutral oil (canola at my house)
1 small white, yellow or sweet onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 C fresh flat-leaf/Italian parsley, chopped
1/3 C low sugar good ketchup  (I know that's Barefoot Contessa like, but buy something without high-fructose corn syrup)
1/2 C vegetable or chicken broth (or water)
2 T low sodium Worcestershire sauce (because you are about to add kosher salt)
1 T espresso powder or instant coffee (does anyone keep instant coffee?)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 to 2 pounds skirt steak (or flank steak would be good too)
olive oil
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Prepare sauce in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat:  add the canola oil and when it's hot cook the onion, garlic and parsley until softened (maybe 3-4 minutes).  Add the Worcestershire, broth, ketchup, espresso powder, kosher salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes.  Puree with an immersion (stick) blender or carefully transfer to a standard blender.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Prepare steak:  rub with a little olive oil and sprinkle with chili powder, salt and pepper then rub it all in on both sides.  If you have time, let it warm up to room temperature and marinate a little (20 minutes or so).  Prepare the grill or a grill pan and when hot, cook the steak to sear on both sides for about 8 minutes total.  Let rest for 5-10 minutes and then slice thinly against the grain and serve with the sauce.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

NFL "tailgate": South American Burgers

Our Purdue football Big Ten tailgating is well documented here, but we do hunker down on Sundays (and Monday nights) to watch the Colts, the NFL Red Zone and just like college football:  all the games we can.  We've never attended a tailgate for an NFL game.  We've been to exactly two Colts games together and the last one we needed a sherpa to get to our seats for the Colts-Jaquars playoff game in 2010 (right, Sara?).  If you toss tickets our way, we'll happily go and I'd love to see what NFL tailgating in Indy looks like.  But in the meantime, we are happy to make chili or grill burgers and eat at our bar surrounded by our nice televisions and free drinks.  When the weather is good (and sometimes even when it's not) we've been known to take it all outside and watch on Bob and Tammy's outdoor television with their fire pit, patio heater, falling acorns and Luckie dog begging us to toss her slobbery tennis ball.  Our kind of tailgating.

Here's a quick recipe idea from MNF last week when our meal was way better than Colts football.  That lovely Sunday we lingered in Harbor Country, Michigan with Lance and Dawn we made a victory lap to the Round Barn winery/brewery/distillery and found them grilling lunch outside on a perfect fall day.  They were serving up the usual suspects from the grill plus South American burgers:  beef and pork chorizo patties with queso fresco and pico de gallo.  How good does that sound?  Really good.  We didn't eat at the Round Barn, we headed into Sawyer and had the crazy good beef brisket sandwiches and etc. at the Green Bush Brewery.  Told you it was a good day.

This is super easy, so get to the meat counter and gather up what you need to get your grill on before the big game Sunday.  Tip:  Chorizo can be cured or fresh, you need the fresh soft kind so you can mix it with the beef.   Whole Foods sells both kinds.  Cured is prepacked.  Fresh is either in bulk or casings that you can easily squeeze to us in this recipe.  I often buy fresh sausages in casings if they are the variety I need and no bulk is available.  Whole foods and local butchers will also make you bulk if you ask nicely.  Butchers are nice people to get to know.  Greg swears this is easier if you are wearing a tennis skirt or yoga leggings and he may be right.

South American Burgers

one pound grass fed ground beef
one pound bulk or in casings pork chorizo
kosher salt


queso fresco or any other cheese you like:  chipotle cheddar, white cheddar, monterey jack, provolone
pico de gallo (small diced onion, jalapeno, tomato plus minced cilantro and fresh squeezed lime juice with salt)
avocado slices or fresh guacamole
toasted whole grain sandwich buns
romaine leaves
sliced onion and tomato

In a medium bowl get your best mixing tools ready (clean hands) and smoosh together the ground beef, chorizo and maybe 1/2 tsp kosher salt until well-combined.  Form into patties (you should get 8 nice sized patties out of two pounds of meat).  Grill until cooked through (about 5 minutes per side or so, you'll know when the burgers are fairly firm when lightly pressed-do not squeeze out all the juices).  Top with cheese and grill another minute to melt.  Serve on a toasted bun with pico, avocado/guacamole, lettuce, onion and tomato as desired.

Monday, October 7, 2013

tailgate treats: glazed donut muffins

I was just going to spend the evening watching Monday Night Football with Greg and the cats, but instead I decided to write while WTTS is broadcasting the Lumineers concert live from The Lawn at White River State Park (i.e., downtown Indy).  I have ten recipes in draft form waiting for me to pay them any kind of attention and flesh them out so they can be posted and shared.  Join the list of things waiting for me to pay them any kind of attention.  Some things are hard to ignore like our hilarious little kitten, Winston who makes all kinds of squeaky noises and walks in circles around my feet (which has been a little disastrous for both of us at times) and our sweet grown-up cat, Rio who will just get up on the kitchen island and walk on my keyboard.  Other things like the ironing have plenty of room to be ignored in our big empty house.  So much so that when I finally toted the ironing board to the basement during college football on Saturday, I grabbed a pair of Greg's shorts that he forgot he actually owned since they were in the ironing pile since our trip to the beach in May.  You don't have to iron luon, luxtreme and silverescent the signature lulu fabrics that make up my wardrobe for a good 90 percent of my waking hours.  Greg's a trooper and has learned to throw things in his suitcase and iron them when he gets wherever he's going.  Sorry state of affairs.  Lucky for him I never ignore the laundry.  The one thing I start and finish with a real sense of urgency.  Said luon, luxtreme and silverescent pieces get just about soaking wet at spinning, yoga or tennis and demand to be washed.  Just ask the dishes, I won't leave them overnight, but I sure am happy to finish them about 2 hours after dinner when I've done something more fun (like write my blog as I'm doing now with the dinner dishes just hanging out waiting).  Yep, the big cat has now just rolled over on the cloth covered kitchen table, looked at me and sighed.

Here's a really good muffin recipe adapted from my lovely friend Amanda's LA cousin's blog, "Almost Perfect".  They were devoured at the Homecoming tailgate.  And not just because all the alumni sorority girls were drunk, they are quite tasty.  Yes, they do taste like a version of glazed donuts (haven't had one of those in truly years, but I can remember just fine) but they also remind me of spice cake.  If I get really ambitious, I might try to put an apple filling in them for the next tailgate.  I'll let you know how that goes.

I promise you I cook and don't just bake.  But I do bake often.  Life is short (and sweet)!  By the way, the concert is great.  Thanks, WTTS!

Glazed Donut Muffins

2 C all purpose flour
1 C white whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 C milk (mine is always skim and just fine here)
1/3 C lowfat buttermilk
10 T unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3 T milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C powdered sugar

Whisk together the flours, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  In a 2-cup measuring cup whisk together the milk and buttermilk.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 18 muffin cups with papers or spray with cooking spray.
Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time and follow with the vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately until just combined, scraping down sides of the bowl as you go.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the muffin tins.
Meanwhile, make the glaze by stirring together the milk, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Add more powdered sugar if glaze is too thin or more milk if it's too thick.  Dip muffins in glaze and turn upright to cool completely on a wire rack (put a sheet of waxed paper or parchment under your cooling rack or you'll be cursing me for your sticky counter).

Makes 18 muffins

batter in the works
filled muffin tins (no papers, just sprayed with cooking spray)
muffins in the takeaway pan for the tailgate

Monday, September 23, 2013

found it: olive oil cake v 3

Eureka!  Version 3 of olive oil cake is a winner.  Crowd pleaser.  Easy.  And most like the one Kelly sent me from Zingerman's.  The only caveat, good fruity olive oil is rather expensive and pouring out an entire cup from your precious bottle might freak you out.  It's worth it.  I found a great fruity olive oil from California Olive Ranch which coincidentally is a brand that uses Kelly's office for some of it's marketing.  The full circle.

I made this cake for our annual Michigan weekend with our dear dinner club friends.  It's easy to cut a little slice and watch the cake disappear little slice by just one more little slice.  You can serve this cake with a nice warm fruit compote (or just warm up some favorite fruit preserves), macerated berries (toss fresh berries with a tablespoon or two of sugar, stir and let sit 15-30 minutes until berries release some juices) or a little lightly whipped cream, but it's pretty perfect at room temp unadorned.

I used honey roasted sliced almonds from Trader Joe's, but if you can't find those toast some sliced almonds lightly on the stove in a dry pan or in a 350 degree oven on a baking sheet and then when they are cool toss them with beaten egg white and sugar and spread on parchment paper to bake again at 350 until just a little golden.  Or just leave the almonds off or just use lightly toasted sliced almonds.  What I'm trying to say is, the almonds are good but don't let them keep you from making this cake.

Olive Oil Cake V3

3 cups flour (truth:  I only had 2 C all-purpose flour, so I also used 1 C white whole wheat flour)
1 3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 C fruity extra-virgin olive oil
1 C milk (any fat content works, I used skim because that is what I have on hand always)
3 eggs
2 T grated lemon or orange zest (no white pith)
1/4 C Grand Marnier
3/4 C honey roasted sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 or 10-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.
In large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, kosher salt, baking soda and baking powder.  In a medium bowl whisk together the olive oil, milk, eggs, zest and Grand Marnier.  Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk or stir just until combined.   Pour batter into prepared pan and  sprinkle evenly with sliced almonds.  Bake for one hour, until top is golden and cake tester comes out clean (I had to tent mine with foil about 35 minutes into baking so my almonds didn't get too brown).  Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and cool for 30 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the pan, invert cake onto the rack and cool completely.

all the ingredients except the olive oil, duh

blurry olive oil photo with milk, olive oil, zest and Grand Marnier mixture


topped with almonds

out of oven, it did settle a little on cooling (note this is a 9-inch round pan)

another blurry picture (I need a viewfinder) of a little slice of cake
one of the two or three little slices left after a day in Michigan

Thursday, September 19, 2013

treat someone: nanaimo bars from our friends up north

Oh my goodness.  Bake these bars and share them for lots of love.  The first time I tried a nanaimo bar was in the cute little town of Jasper in Alberta, Canada on our 25th anniversary family trip to the Canadian Rockies.  When you are hiking or biking at altitude 4-6 hours a day, you can eat whatever you want. So when we went into town to the very delicious Bears Paw Bakery and the Other Paw Bakery to get sandwiches and treats to pack for the day we grabbed some of these crazy good bars.  Yum.  Do just that too, don't just go to Banff (pretty up on the trails, but crowded), be sure to stay in Jasper too (more breathing room).  Hike Mt Edith Clavell for the most amazing views as you pass hanging glaciers, through the alpine and up above the tree line.  One of my favorite days ever.

These are classic Canadian and Pacific Northwest no-bake, triple-layered confections from Nanaimo (pronounced Na Ny Mo), a city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  I really need to make the trip to Van City, birthplace of lululemon and home to the lululemon lab.  We've ventured just briefly to BC to whitewater raft in glacial waters (as cold as it sounds even on a 90 plus degree day in August), but never made it to Vancouver and Whistler.  It will happen.

I made a double batch for the Purdue v Notre Dame night game tailgate.  The leftovers had to go to lulu.  I can not spin, walk, yoga, tennis or etc. enough to eat half a pan by myself and I was quickly headed in that direction.  So good.  Everyone at work wanted to know what was in them and the quick answer is butter, lots of butter.

nanaimo bars day 2

Nanaimo Bars

bottom layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/3 C unsweetened cocoa (Dutch-process is good)
1/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 C finely crushed graham crackers (one sleeve or 9 whole crackers)
1/2 C almond meal or almond flour (or finely chopped almonds)
1 C shredded coconut (I use organic unsweetened)

creamy middle layer
1/2 C butter, very soft
3 T vanilla flavor pudding mix (I had sugar free)
2 C powdered sugar
1 T milk or cream
1/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

top ganache layer
1 C semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
1 T vegetable shortening (Spectrum organic is good), optional

Butter an 8x8 pan and line with foil.  Set aside.  Melt the butter in a medium bowl (glass measuring bowl in microwave works for me) and whisk in cocoa, sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth.  Add crushed graham crackers, almond meal/flour and coconut and stir to combine.  (You can do what I do and process the graham crackers in your food processor and then add the other base layer ingredients and pulse until combined).  Firmly press crumbs into prepared pan.

For the filling, either clean out your food processor or use a mixer to blend the butter, pudding powder and powdered sugar together until fluffy.  Add vanilla, salt and 1 tablespoon of milk until smooth and spreadable.  Add more milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time to get desired thickness.  (I barely need 1 tsp of milk total).  Drop by big spoonfuls across base layer.  Spread evenly with and offset spatula.

double batch with cream filling before spreading (camera battery was dying)
In a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate (and vegetable shortening if using) and stir until smooth.  Pour chocolate over top of the filling and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly across the bars.

Refrigerate or freeze for several hours until firm.  Slice into squares.  You might score them about 10 min after chocolate sets to help get clean lines of chocolate.  Store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

YOLO FOMO Summer of Fun: summer corn salad with avocado

Hey there.  Still here.  Still cooking and baking, but seriously busy with other life things the last two weeks.  Labor Day was one of the best yoga days ever with Michael Franti and his guitarist joining me and over 200 Indy yogis for an outdoor class at WARMfest a newish music festival in Broad Ripple.  A whole lot of social media worked it's magic with nice big attendance numbers and our special guests.  Lots of love to all involved!  So that was one week.

Sara leaves for her semester abroad in London tomorrow after the longest college summer ever for her.  I loved having her home so long.  We totally maximized the summer doing all kinds of YOLO and FOMO things.  All I know is that when I look to my left in spinning next week and she's not on that next bike I'm going to get all teary, good thing I sweat so much that no one will ever guess.  Siam Square, Napolese and Petit Chou will surely miss the two of us and our seemingly endless love of amazing Thai  food, salads, pizza, omelets and crepes.  And who else would go with their mom to all kinds of concerts and never once look at me like I'm ridiculous down in front of the band singing and dancing along.  We may both end up Mowgli's (right, we would like them not to use the possessive if we're coming along) because those people have just too much fun on stage.  Have a great big beautiful adventure, Sara!

So that's my story.  Banking all the good stuff.  I wouldn't do it any other way.

Here's your recipe for this week because an hour after Sara boards her flight, Kelly lands in Indy for a quick weekend home to go to the Purdue v. Notre Dame game Saturday night so there's more good stuff ahead (absolutely positive the actual football game will not be on the good stuff list, but the tailgate will be at the top of the list).  Just keeps coming!  Here's one very awesome summer salad:  basically my grilled corn salad with avocado and chimichurri vinaigrette.  You can serve it with greens mixed in or on top.  You can add grilled chicken or shrimp.  You can just really love it, tote it to a picnic or tailgate and enjoy it as leftovers.  All good.

Summer Corn Salad with Avocado

4-6 ears grilled corn, kernels cut off cobs
medium red onion, thinly sliced
pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
one or two avocados, pitted and diced
salad greens, optional

chimichurri vinaigrette
1/2 C packed chopped flat-leaf/Italian parsley
1/2 C packed chopped cilantro
1 T chopped garlic
juice of one lime (or two if you like)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
2 T-1/4 C olive oil (you decide how thin you'd like your dressing)

If you missed it, rub the shucked corn with olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Grill about 10 minutes.  Cool a bit and cut kernels from the cobs into your salad bowl.  Add in the other salad ingredients.  

In a blender or food processor, combine parsley, cilantro and garlic and pulse to mince.  Add in lime juice, kosher salt and red pepper flakes and pulse to combine.  Drizzle in olive oil and blend until desired consistency.  Toss with salad and serve.  

Serves 8-10 salad pictures so here's one from our YOLO FOMO Summer of Fun:
Sara, sweaty me and the awesome Michael Franti at WARMfest Yoga Moves in the Park

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Come on, I've never posted whole wheat buttermilk pancakes?

Searching, searching and checking again but I'm pretty sure I've never shared my favorite pancake recipe with you.  I've got some fancy versions on here, but not the straight up, good every time and sure you can make them fancier pancake recipe I've been making since I first saw the recipe in Cooking Light in 2002.  I haven't changed it much over the years.  Why reinvent the wheel?  We had some pretty yummy pancakes in St. Kitt's on the beach (beaches and pancakes seem a little counterintuitive, buy hey...) and we deduced the secret ingredient was most likely cinnamon so there's the big change and we made that one back in 2008.  So you're probably thinking a couple of things right now.  Here's one possibility:  who eats carbs and wheat flour in this paleo crazy world?  Balanced people who are thankfully not Celiac.  Or another possibility:  who has time to make pancakes?  Well, you do.  They are super fast.  You could mix all the dry ingredients the night before and then just measure the buttermilk and whisk in the oil, egg,  and egg white while you heat your griddle pan.  Or you could do what I do:  get hungry for pancakes, make them at some random time like after dinner or an hour before bedtime or whenever and then freeze them in portioned ziplocs to reheat the next time you want pancakes.  Even if it's the next morning that you're going to pop them in the microwave, freeze them.  They stay lighter that way.  Don't ask me why.  I don't have all the food science answers, but I'm guessing the peak of puffiness is when heat is added to the powder, soda and buttermilk equation and so freezing them while still warm might preserve the puffiness.  Sounds scientifically plausible, so we'll go with that.

Treat your family or just yourself to pancakes every now and then.  You see what goes in them.  All things you can pronounce.  Nothing scary or tricky (well, you might not keep buttermilk but you can easily find it).  You can drop some blueberries, chocolate chips or banana slices on them after you pour them out on the griddle.  I even like to use one of those options and then a nutty crunchy thing like grape nut flakes or granola to be all fancy.  Or just whip up a little fruit compote (some frozen berries and a tablespoon of sugar heated and stirred until the liquid is reduced and a little thickened which really takes all of about 5 minutes).  You know real maple syrup is always good too.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

3/4 C all-purpose flour (I like King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour)
3/4 C whole wheat flour (I like KA white whole wheat flour)
3 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 1/2 C lowfat buttermilk
1 T vegetable oil (I use Smart Balance)
1 egg
1 egg white
more vegetable oil for the griddle

Whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Measure buttermilk and whisk in oil, egg and egg white.  Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and whisk together just until moist.

Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Brush with some cooking oil (sometimes I use butter, but it can get too hot and then your pancakes aren't all pretty and golden).  Do that trick where you drop a drop of water on the pan and if it "dances" it's hot enough.  Pour or spoon batter onto pan (you decide how big or small, it makes no difference).  When the tops of the pancakes are covered with bubbles and the edges look set, flip the pancakes and cook just a bit more (a minute or so) until both sides are golden.  I usually heat my oven to 200 degrees and put the finished pancakes on a baking sheet until all of them are made.  So they are all warm and ready to eat or freeze.

Serves 4

No pancake pictures today, so here's a hilarious photo of our cat and our kitten.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Simple Summer Corn Salad and Banana "Soft Serve"

I threw this summer corn salad together with leftover grilled corn and Greg loved it so much I had to make a big batch for our anniversary dinner with his parents, Sara and her Duke roomie, Annie.  My father in law loved it so much that he told me not to post it, but to enter it in contests first.  Well, that's a pretty good endorsement.  I have been crafting all kinds of summer salads with all the good farm stand and farmer's market produce we haul home and the herbs we grow at the top of our driveway.  My best vegetable plot would be my front yard, so I buy all my vegetables to maintain the order in our neighborhood.  Sara and I have our favorite vendors at the Broad Ripple Farmer's Market and I usually make at least one trip a week to Johnny's Market on College either on my way home from yoga in B Ripp, or it's worth the trip on a day off to stock up mid week between farmer's markets.  Good sweet corn is easy to find in Indiana.  It's kind of our thing.  Acres and acres of corn and soybeans.  Our tomatoes are pretty delicious too.  We're loving the heirloom variety cherry tomatoes that are fairly brown in color, look for some and give them a try.  I'd love to tell you the variety, but I have no idea.  I just grab my bags, fast cash 20's from the ATM and buy whatever looks good until the money runs out.      There's a plan for you.

If you are a Barefoot Contessa fan you know how she says "good" olive oil.  There is a reason.  When you are using simple ingredients, the right olive oil pulls it all together.  My favorite for this recipe is one I bought for $21 (Olio Santo from California) in Durham at Parker & Otis mainly because they had a little sign that said it was Ina's recommendation.  Good enough for me.  Really, $21 olive oil just has to be good.  I save my bottle for dressing and dipping things when I really want a smooth and rich olive oil taste, but I have found it on Amazon for $14 a bottle which will loosen up the reigns on it's usage.  I'm pretty excited about it.  Sara's not on campus until January this year and I can only ration for so long.

Simple Summer Corn Salad

corn kernels from 4 ears of grilled corn
one avocado, pitted and cubed
one pint basket cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
one small red onion, thinly sliced or minced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
"good" olive oil
white wine vinegar (any variety you like)
freshly ground pepper

I always grill my corn.  Shuck it, line up the ears on a baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil (the regular cooking one you use) and grind over salt and pepper.  Roll the ears around on a baking sheet and rub to coat.  Grill about 10-12 minutes, turning once or twice until nicely marked.  Cool to handle.  Stand ears on pointy end and run a sharp knife along the cob to release the kernels.  This is messy.  Stray kernels can be snacked on.

In your serving bowl, toss the kernels with the avocado, tomatoes, onion and feta cheese.  Drizzle with olive oil (a good pour, maybe 3 T to 1/4 C) and some white wine vinegar (just one T or so).  Grind over some salt and pepper to taste.  If your vinegar is too forward, add more oil to mellow it out.  If it's all a little flat, add more salt to bring out the flavors.  I toss mine with salad hands and the avocado and feta get all smooshy, but you can toss more gently so it's prettier.  Serves 4-6.  Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

Banana "Soft Serve"
Bonus dessert recipe:  It's fruit fly season and if they are driving you crazy put all your ripe fruit in your refrigerator for starters.  I ended up with so many overripe bananas and after making my banana oatmeal snack cake with some mini chocolate chips mixed in, I peeled the rest of the bananas and froze them.  If you've never whipped them into "ice cream", you need to give it a try.  Mine always need about 30 seconds in the microwave or a little thawing on the counter so they are still frozen, but not rock hard.  Toss them into your food processor and process until the consistency of soft serve/fro yo.  Sara and I love to toss in a few mini chocolate chips and possibly a bit of peanut or almond butter and or some pretzel sticks.  So good.

Friday, August 2, 2013

get your grill on: Brickin' Chicken

The cover of The Grilling Issue of Bon Appetit with Sriracha-Glazed Chicken Skewers and 25 Tips, Tricks & Recipes for Crisp Juicy Chicken sold it.  My free subscription to BA went to my LA girl for her apartment cooking pursuits and so she would get at least one piece of fun mail a month.  But, that cover made me fork over my hard-earned $4.99.  The skewers, by the way, are divine but require that extra napkin to dab on my forehead, just a little heat in the glaze.  Phew.  My favorite of the 25 tips in the issue is #3 You Don't Need a Recipe to Grill Chicken.  True, but I'm going to give you one anyway.

Follow tip #1 Buy a Good Bird and get a nice whole chicken from Bell & Evans at Marsh (if you're a local Indy person) or the nice whole chickens from Whole Foods.  The WF butchers will butterfly your bird if you ask them.  So say thank you and smile pretty and let them do it for you.  If you need to butterfly it yourself it's not hard.  Apparently there's an official and catchy other name for that technique and it's tip #5 Spatchcock is Not a Dirty Word.  But I'm not too sure anyone in the midwest would know what you meant if you asked them to, "Please spatchcock my chicken".  Sounds British.  Which in turn makes it clever and funny.  

And that, in a round about way, brings us to tip #4 Buy a Brick.  We had our home built, so we actually have some nice large brick pavers under the deck stairs so for me it's Go Knock Some Pillbugs Off Your Bricks and then wrap the bricks in foil.

We grill a lot of chicken at our house and of course we're familiar with the chicken under a brick concept, but we've never tried it.  Let me tell you that it was absolutely fabulous.  Crispy skin and very moist chicken.  So the bricks will stay near the grill and I'm guessing we'll be making "brickin' chicken" often.  I haven't given you a funny little aside yet, so let's review "brickin' chicken", shall we?  Have you ever seen someone shoot a basketball with two hands and their elbows cocked out to the side like chicken wings?  Have you ever seen me shoot a basketball?  Right?  Looks like a chicken and often misses and hence the "brickin' chicken".  That's me.  Clearly they love me and appreciate my skills.

Brickin' Chicken (plus the start of grilled salad)

Brickin' Chicken

one 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pound chicken, butterflied
2 T olive or vegetable oil
kosher salt (about 2 tsp)
freshly ground pepper (about 1 1/2 tsp)
paprika (about 1 1/2 tsp)

Heat grill for high indirect heat (medium high if indirect is not an option).  Place chicken, skin side up on a baking sheet.  Rub with olive oil, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and sprinkle with paprika.  Tuck wings slightly under breast (or just under the legs, that's all the limberness my chickens usually possess).  Place chicken, skin side down on grill over indirect heat (turn the burners off under the chicken or the fat from the skin will drip down and flame up which either burns the chicken or leaves an unpleasant black smoke coating or both).  Place foil-covered brick or bricks (depending on size of bird and bricks) on chicken.  cover grill and cook until skin is golden and crisp, about 25-30 minutes. Using tongs and very thick mitts, remove bricks, turn chicken skin side up and replace bricks.  Grill another 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through (165 degree internal temp in the thickest part of the thighs).   Remove bricks carefully and serve the chicken whole on a platter or cut into pieces on a platter.

Serves 4 (or 6 if you have a big bird and little people)

If you'd like to grill your salad:  lightly brush or drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper your romaine (split in half), tomatoes, onions and avocados.  Grill until they have nice grill marks.  Serve by assembling on a plate or platter and sprinkling with a yummy vinegar and plain olive oil or plain wine or sushi vinegar and flavored olive oil.  You  could also sprinkle the salad with crumbled feta or goat cheese or use a vegetable peeler and shave on some Parmigiano Reggiono.

covering the bricks
seasoned chicken 

chicken under bricks plus grilling the salad ingredients


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

kid friendly: turkey-spinach sliders

Hey there.  There are a few souls holding me accountable for posting and the one that calls me Carmel's Gwyneth Paltrow(ha!) is responsible for me finally writing before July is over.  Yes, Jeff,  friendly CRC tennis pro and blog supporter, this one is for you.  Thanks for the encouragement.

Summer team tennis after match cocktail talk can go in several directions.  Many topics are hilarious, but not fit to print.  There are some seriously funny girls on my teams.  One of my teams is almost all moms still in the heavy driving carpool years (clearly not my team that played in the 40 and over bracket) and "What the heck am I going to feed my whole family that they will eat?" is one question they'll throw in that's in the fit to print category.  I'm pretty sure I've discussed that I am not your role model for this.  Sure my kids since I have been writing my blog have been ready for just about anything, but they were 18 and 20 when I started this endeavor.  When they were little people, if all four of us were dining together, Greg and I would eat "grown up food" and the girls would have something similar, but bland or something completely different that I knew they would eat.  My reasoning behind this extra work for myself?  1.  I really couldn't handle "kid food" all the time, 2. I lacked the discipline often necessary to enforce trying new foods or not eating and 3. maybe if they saw us enjoying something different, one day they would eventually join in.  And eventually that's pretty much how it went.

This is a quick idea adapted from Bon Appetit for little turkey burger sliders.  The secret to success is four cups of chopped fresh spinach mixed in with a pound of ground turkey.  The spinach cooks down and the little sliders are the juiciest turkey burgers I've ever made.  No egg or oil blended in.  Love them.  I made the first batch on my cast iron grill pan and the second batch in my oven just to see if the winter-friendly version was as good.  Yep.  Both good. You can also fry them up in a skillet.  The original recipe calls for 3/4 teaspoon of cumin.  Both times I've made them I've used smoked paprika instead because it just sounded better with the meals I was putting together.  Experiment with flavoring.  You know how I love the spice blends from Costco:  Sweet Mesquite and Rustic Tuscan and both would be yummy here.  If your kids are big pizza fans, use a teaspoon or so of oregano instead and serve them with mozzarella melted on top and maybe some good pizza sauce on top or for dipping.  You get the idea.  Super easy and delicious.

Turkey-Spinach Sliders

1/2 box or bag of baby spinach, chopped to yield about 4 cups
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 tsp paprika or smoked paprika (or whatever spices your family likes)
1 pound ground turkey
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
olive oil for the grill pan or skillet
whole wheat slider buns
cheese or other toppings, as desired (read way back and you will find out that I dislike standard condiments, you'll never see me recommend them but please go ahead and eat like normal people)

In a large bowl using a fork or your hands (if you can stand it), mix together spinach, onion, garlic, seasonings (about 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste) and turkey.  Smoosh it all together to blend well.  Form turkey mixture into 8-12 1/2 inch thick patties.

Brush grill pan with a little olive oil and cook, turning once about 5-7 minutes per side.  Or add about 2 tablespoons of oil to a skillet and cook over medium high heat on the stove until brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.  Or bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes until cooked through (check with an instant read thermometer and cook until 160 degrees).

Serve on those cute little slider buns.

Serves three or four

ready to mix in the squishy ground turkey
if your kids are going to freak out about spinach, chop it finer but
it's glorious greenness is pretty hard to hide

in the oven

oven sliders all done, who knew they would be so good?
that's why there are no grilling photos

ready for buns

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

and then there was Wimbledon: Spanish Chorizo Rolls and Pimm's

I made it across the pond!  Big check off of my bucket list.  Go to Europe.  Check.  Go to Wimbledon.  Check.  (!!!!!)  Visit Westminster Abbey.  Check.  But can I tell you that all of this was so amazing to me that tears welled in my eyes landing at Heathrow without you thinking I'm "daft"?  They sprang up again walking through the gates of the All England Lawn Tennis Club.  And again when we were wrapping up day 2 of our Wimbledon sojourn.  And the glory and majesty that is Westminster Abbey brought a few more.  And then the audio tour played "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" at the foot of the homage to G.F. Handel.  Wow.  Just wow.  When you wait so many years to realize a dream the awe and wonder of living it is just overwhelming.  Thanks to my dear ex-pat friend, Susan,  for making the magic happen by booking the Wimbledon Experience.  Thanks to my awesome husband for insisting that I go and giving me the Delta miles and Marriott points to make it easier.  And thanks to the world's best kitten sitter and fabulous daughter, Sara who held down the fort (don't worry, she's off to London for her fall semester this year).  The other fabulous daughter once started a 10-week tour of Europe in London two years ago and she offered a few excellent tips.  I have a good team.

hats and all after our day at Court 1, Wimbledon 2013

So that partially explains where I've been.  The week before I left we hosted along with our great neighbors, an almost pig roast party.  The day I left was Sara's 21st birthday.  I've been a little busy.  Hopefully your summer is breezing along too and you've barely noticed that I've been a big slacker in the posting department.  

So today's post will logically revolve around my trip to London.  I've been pouring through my photos and Sunday got super inspired after watching the men's final from Wimbledon on television, to stir up a batch of Pimm's cocktails.  And to round out the day with more than a drink,  I decided to recreate a favorite food find from London's Borough Market, Spanish chorizo rolls.  Throw some Indiana sweet corn (or local corn wherever you may be) on the grill and chill some watermelon slices and you are good to go for a summer dinner for grown-ups (and we are all grown-ups here now).  

Under the glowing recommendations from both Ina Garten (who tweeted about it) and Kelly Rogers (who warned us to go hungry), Susan and I sampled our way through London's Borough Market.  Ina urged us to try Brindisa's tapa restaurant, but we joined the fast-growing que for their chorizo sandwiches grilled and assembled in the market.  Another booth served up Pimm's from pitchers.  Perfect.  
go hungry
who needs my photos, when you can see the real thing?

Spanish Chorizo Rolls
spanish chorizo links (I found some excellent ones in the meat case area at my Whole Foods)
red peppers 
rocket (aka arugula), washed and toweled or spun dry
crusty rolls

Heat up your grill.  Core your red peppers (two is good, but if you have more just grill them all and use them in another dish).  Cut the red peppers into three or four big sections.  Place skin side down on grill and char the skins (about 10-15 minutes).  Remove from grill and place in a paper lunch bag to steam (roll down the top and let them rest for about 10 minutes).  Meanwhile slice your chorizo links in half length wise and grill until cooked through and nicely grill marked (about 10-15 minutes), turning once. Chorizo has a good deal of fat, so watch for flare-ups.  While the chorizo is cooking, remove the charred skins from the red peppers with a paper towel (slough off pretty easily, but don't get all freaked out by some stubborn sections they'll be fine with a little skin).  Cut your rolls in half and brush with a little olive oil.  Grill the rolls to brown a bit (keep an eye on them, just 2-3 minutes is usually enough).  

Assemble sandwiches with chorizo, roasted red peppers and rockets stacked in a bun.  Eat while hot with a napkin in striking range.

Pimm's ingredients at the Borough Market (best part, this wasn't even noon)
yes, please

Pimm's Cup

1 part Pimm's  No. 1 
3 part chilled lemonade (carbonated/sparkling lemonade like the Brits or use lemonade and some club soda or Pellegrino)
diced/sliced strawberries, orange, lemon, cucumbers 
mint leaves

Mix all in a large pitcher and pour over ice into glasses with additional fruit and etc. as desired.

Pimm's is a liqueur and I found it easily at a liquor store here.  Some of the Pimm's I enjoyed had ginger ale instead of lemonade.  Try the Pimm's website for other variations: Anyone for Pimm's

spectacularly cooperative weather

did you know Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr is one of the Modern Martyr's over the
door at Westminster Abbey?  He's the fourth figure in this picture

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

summer is here: teriyaki tofu bowls with pineapple salsa

There's a great little restaurant just off the Duke campus, Madhatters, which makes delicious breakfast, lunch and pastries.  It's a mellow place where she can find something good to eat and a quiet place to study.  Both years it's been in easy walking distance.  Plus it's in the same center as Whole Foods, so if Sara chooses it over WF's amazing hot bar (astonishing if the only WF hot bar you have ever seen is the one here in Carmel).  Last weekend it was sunny and warm and as we sat by the pool, I decided to look up their menu for some wrap or salad ideas.  Sara reminded me that she's had this wrap so many times I probably didn't need to look it up.  At home we made her favorite wrap sandwich it into a bowl because 1.we like bowls, 2. we didn't have spinach flour tortillas and 3. wraps are hard to wrap unless you get the grande tortillas.  It's easier than it looks all written out here.  Don't let the lists intimidate you.  You can make the salsa ahead, but I like to just chop and keep chopping.  You can make the roasted vegetables ahead (I grilled them the day before to use for whatever, again when I'm grilling I might as well keep grilling and use the entire grilling surface).  You can even make the ginger rice in advance and then all you have to do is reheat the rice and tofu (room temperature will be fine for everything) and assemble you bowl.  I am sure Greg would have this with Siracha.  Give it a try.

Teriyaki Tofu Bowls with Pineapple Salsa

one package firm or extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 C Soy Vay Island Teriyaki marinade (any teriyaki sauce including home made will do)

ginger rice
1 C brown jasmine rice
1 1/2 C vegetable broth
1 T grated fresh ginger

pineapple salsa
2 C small diced pineapple
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeƱo, seeds removed, minced
1/4 C chopped cilantro leaves
juice of one lime
1/2 tsp salt

melange of roasted or grilled vegetables, diced
(zucchini or other squash, onion, red pepper, etc.)

fresh baby spinach leaves
Siracha, optional

Marinate tofu in a ziploc bag for at least 30 minutes.  Heat a little canola or soy oil in a skillet over medium high heat and brown tofu on all sides (about 3-5 minutes per side).

Make ginger rice by adding rice and broth to a saucepan and grate the fresh ginger over the rice.  Bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Let rest with lid on (check and make sure it's tender and cook a little longer if not).

Make salsa by combining all ingredients and tasting for salt and lime.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator.

Grill or roast vegetables with a little olive oil and kosher salt.  I have a cast iron griddle kind of pan from Crate and Barrel that I heat up as my grill heats up and I just throw on the vegetables and toss or flip them to roast over medium heat for about 10-12 minutes.

Make all these things in an order that's logical for you.  Put your bowls together with things how you like them,  hot, warm or chilled.

salsa ingredients

you can chop things finer, we are good with chunky

grilled/roasted vegetables
grating ginger over brown jasmine rice
finished ginger rice
marinated tofu hitting the pan
all done

my bowl

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

grab a spoon: little peanut butter cups in a jar

I have had this tab open on my computer since April just waiting for Sara to be home to give it a try.  Finally made it last week and now we feel like we missed out on a whole month of enjoying the silky peanut butter goodness.  This is a very cute little treat made in little glass canning jars or ramekins which is a presentation seen everywhere.  I'm thinking that's a phenomenon we can attribute to Pinterest.  You'll see our first batch was made in an assortment of jars.  We loved these so much I bought six pretty little 6-ounce Weck canning jars (love them with the flat glass lids, gaskets and clips very low-tech) from Crate and Barrel.  Now they'll be stackable in the fridge for chilling.  Pretty sure the stack will get short rather quickly.  Yum.  You could just make the filling and bust out a spoon, but try to save it for the assembled dessert.   This is quick to put together with a food processor, but you could crush your graham crackers in a ziploc bag and then just stir the crust ingredients together.  The filling could just be whisked together.  Oh right, forgot to mention that the filling is silken tofu.  Don't tell anyone, they'll never ever guess.  Silken tofu is found on the shelf in aseptic packaging at Trader Joe's (and elsewhere  I am sure).  It's also sold in traditional tubs in the refrigerated section.  You choose.  You'll only use 2/3 of the typical container, so at some point I need to adjust this recipe so you can just use the entire container of tofu (plus you'll have more dessert which is always a good thing).

Little Peanut Butter Cups in a Jar

10 squares of graham crackers (enough to make a heaping 1/2 cup of crumbs)
1 1/2 T pure maple syrup
1 T coconut oil, melted
2 1/2 tsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)

200 g silken tofu, roughly chopped (just falls apart into rough pieces)
1/4 C natural peanut butter
3-5 T confectioner's sugar or 1/2 C brown or raw sugar processed into powder
1 T almond milk
1 tsp vanilla (skip if using vanilla almond milk like I did)
pinch of salt to taste (mine did not need it)

chocolate shell
3 T semi sweet or dark chocolate chips (or  milk chocolate, whatever you like)
1 1/2 tsp coconut oil

If processing brown or raw sugar into powder use a blender or food processor at high speed and set aside.

In a food processor, process all crust ingredients until blended.  Add 2 T crust to each jar (really this depends on your jar, just divide equally into 4 or 6 jars) and press into bottoms.

Wipe out food processor bowl and process filling ingredients until silky smooth, scraping sides as needed.

Divide filling equally between jars (3 T or so, don't measure just spoon it out).  Chill jars uncovered in freezer for 30 minutes.

Remove jars from freezer and melt chocolate and coconut oil over low heat on stove or in microwave on medium power for 30 seconds at a time.  Spoon a tablespoon or so on top of the filling in each jar, swirling to coat (might be easy with the lids on).  Chill in the refrigerator to set (chocolate will set quickly on top of cold filling), or just dig in!


processed crust

crust in assorted jars

filling in jars