All posts by yiling

Accordion Potatoes

Saw this recipe via the latest blog I’ve been persistently sucked into perusing, Brit + Co. which led me to A Beautiful Mess’ Accordion Potatoes. I only had 3 large yukon potatoes, so scaled it down thus:

3 large yukon gold potatoes, washed and dried.
1/4 cup of butter
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 teaspoons minced rosemary
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic

Per instructions in the link above,
-Preheat oven to 375.
-Slice potatoes 3/4 through in accordion style.
-In a microwave safe bowl combine the butter, oil, rosemary and garlic.
-Cook just until melted, about 45 seconds.
Use a kitchen brush to coat each potato, make sure the butter gets between each slice.
Bake at 375°F for 38-40 minutes. The goal is to make sure they are done on the inside and crispy on the edges.
-Then brush with another layer of the butter mixture and serve.
-Served with sides of cream cheese, chopped green onions and shredded cheddar cheese. yum!

what the accordion say?
what the accordion say?

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
3 of 5 stars
This was really quite tasty with the cream cheese I had left over from cookie-making, and I’d like to try it again for more crisp using smaller potatoes..
Likelihood of Repeat: 45%
…but it was pretty heavy on the carbs, minutely tedious to brush the mix on, and not consumed largely by my dining companion at home. I may only try making it again when he’s out of town, and I’ve pre-burned a lot of calories.

Method Break: Idea: Adorable Animal Snacks for Kids

I am super stoked to visit family this holiday season, including my neice and nephew, 6 and 4.  I may already be keeping a running list of fun stuff to entertain them with if they ever get out here to visit me. Maybe. So in case you haven’t seen it around the interwebs yet, Easy Adorable Animal Snacks to Make with Kids.

teddy bear s'mores?!!
teddy bear s’mores?!!

Yeah? Yeah? What do you think, should I do it? Have you done it? Please share.
This is definitely one direction I haven’t thought to stretch my brain much when making food.

What -Berry Salad?!

WheatberrySaladCompleteNope, wheat berry salad!
I posted recently about the wonders of rice cookers, and promised to take a gander at the Wheat Berry Salad I stumbled on in my related googling adventures. So here it is, nearly unaltered from Tiny Urban Kitchen’s original post:

Wheat Berry Salad
Ingredients:

1 cup soft white wheat berries
2 cups water
dash of salt
1 orange bell pepper
1/3 red onion
2 roma tomatoes
1 cucumber
1/4 cup nuts (pine nuts shown here, I think pecans or almonds would work fine too)

Steps
1. Toast the wheat berries in a skillet for ~4 minutes on medium high heat. Stir often, for the wheat berries will begin to brown and even start popping. You may want to get a lid or splatter screen just in case.
2. Soak the wheat berries in water for 1 hour, or in my case, overnight in the rice cooker with the timer set for 5:30 PM. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can bring the wheat berries to a boil in a pot of water on the stove top and then let simmer for about 45 minutes.
3. While you’re waiting for it to finish, finely chop: 1 orange bell pepper, 1/3 red onion, 2 roma tomatoes, and 1 cucumber.
4. Lightly toast nuts.
5. When wheatberries are done cooking, dress the cooked wheatberries with a bit of sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and a little black pepper to taste.
6. Finally, mix in vegetables, onion, and nuts into wheatberries, can be served warm straight from the rice cooker, or cold.
When I prepped it, I kept the onions and pine nuts separate, since the raw onions could be a little heart burny, and I added the pine nuts at the last minute so I could keep them crunchy for lunch.

Toast wheatberries, soak overnight, have the robot cook it, chop other stuff, toast nuts, mix. Nom.
Toast wheatberries, soak overnight, have the robot cook it, chop other stuff, toast nuts, mix. Nom.

This week’s trial recipe rating:
Novelty Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, these wheatberries have a delightful pop when you bite down on them! All the bright-colored vegetables I added made it a really appealing-looking dish to eat, with just the right crunch from the peppers and cucumbers. It was also super easy to bring for lunch and eat cold, but still feel satisfied. Score one for small portion efforts.
Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
I’m definitely going to make this again, and maybe even branch out to try a different vinaigrette combo with it, or add goat cheese or craisins. Besides the time it took to cook the actual grains, the rest of the prep was super fast since it didn’t require any more cooking.

Method Break: Poached Egg by Microwave

In case you’ve not heard, you can poach an egg in the microwave! It took me a few tries but I finally got it about right for my particular microwave.

In vintage (a.k.a. janky) microwave:
1. Add 1/2 c water to a small bowl, carefully crack egg in, cover loosely.
2. Heat 50 seconds at power level 8.
Voila!

You may need to fiddle a few different ways to figure out the right amount of time and power for your microwave, and it’s not exactly the same as an over easy fried egg fresh from the pan since it cooks more evenly, but I found it quite satisfying to be able to have a soft, yolky egg to top whatever leftovers I had, be it rice, squash, ramen, or even salad.

20131205-131831.jpg

Meatless Moping: Chickpeas with Chard & Pan-Roasted Tomatoes

I like making meals my spouse isn’t a big fan of when he’s out of town, which usually means no meat, and more carbs. Today’s recipe is one from Real Simple Magazine shortly after a honeymoon to New Zealand, where for breakfast we had thick-cut bacon, a fried egg and a succulently delicious sautéed tomato half almost every morning we were there. Surprisingly, I found the tomatoes the tastiest feature of the dish, despite my love of bacon, and missed it when we got home (along with the warm friendliness of the kiwis on our travels). So of course, this is a reminder of that nostalgic deliciousness, even though roma tomatoes out of season from the stores here don’t taste nearly as good as in New Zealand on honeymoon. It’s a quick fixup, goes good with your staple grain/false grain of choice, with a side of Mindy Project and silent moping about.

the finished product
the finished product

Chickpeas With Chard and Pan-Roasted Tomatoes
Original Real Simple recipe here, version below is minorly altered. Time adjusted to match a gas stovetop, you may need a minute or so longer for an electric range.

Serves 4
Hands-on Time: 20m
Total Time: 50m

Ingredients
* optional: serve with brown rice, spaghetti squash, or quinoa
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 small roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
* 1 small bunch Swiss chard, thick stems and ribs removed and leaves torn (about 8 cups)
* 1/3 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries
* 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
* kosher salt and black pepper
* 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice

rainbow chard, roma tomatoes, dried cranberries, sliced garlic, chickpeas, lemon juice and salt.
the ingredients

Directions

1. Cook your grain/squash/fake grain of choice accordingly.

2. Twenty minutes before the grain is done, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, cut-side down, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until browned and starting to soften 2-3 minutes; turn and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate.

3. Reduce heat to medium and add the chard, raisins/cranberries, garlic, 2 tablespoons water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the skillet. Cook, tossing, until the chard wilts, 2 minutes.

4. Return the tomatoes to the skillet, add the chickpeas and lemon juice, and toss until heated through, 1 minutes. Serve over the rice/squash/quinoa.

Notes:
I don’t ever have golden raisins on hand, and regular raisins don’t look too appetizing in this dish, so the dried cranberries usually in my pantry work fine to add a little sweetness on top of the tomato flavor. I tried this with heirloom tomatoes once too, and I don’t recommend it. Their complex flavor was lost when they turned too mushy in the pan too fast. For this post, I only made a half portion, as I had other methods to try for the rest of that chard.

ChickpeasChardTomato_Collage

Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 stars
Made it before, but I mostly only make it when my “roommate’s” out of town, so it’s still a little rare..
Likelihood of Repeat: 75%
It’s too fast to NOT do!

Almond Florentines

Cookies Part 3 of 4.

almond florentine: the orange zest makes all the difference
almond florentine: the orange zest makes all the difference

(originally from a Food Network recipe, with minimal substitution)

Makes: ~5 dozen 3-inch Florentines, or 2 1/2 dozen 6-inch Florentine
Total Time: 1 hr 35 min
Prep 30 min
Inactive 45 min
Cook 20 min

I first had these a few years ago at Zeitgeist Kunst & Kaffee, a coffee shop in downtown Seattle near my work, and it lit up this light bulb in my head that insisted I look it up to make myself an infinite supply. It has a great crunch, and the orange zest with chocolate drizzle is just the right combination.

Ingredients
* 1 3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds (about 5 ounces) (I still have no idea what unblanched almonds would be, I just buy sliced almonds, however they come)
* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (can substitute: almond flour, same amount)
* Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
* 1/4 teaspoon fine salt (I use kosher salt without much consequence)
* 3/4 cup raw sugar
* 2 tablespoons heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping, optional (but why would you ever skip it):
* 2 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

Directions
– Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
– Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the nuts, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.
– Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, ~30 minutes.
– Scoop rounded teaspoons (for 3-inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 to 3 inches (shrink accordingly with cookie size) between each cookie since they spread.
– Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, rotating pans halfway through baking time, about 8-10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

“Optional” chocolate topping:
– Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl (or smaller saucepan).
– Bring a (larger) saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very low simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth.
-Drizzle melted chocolate over Florentines as desired (after trial with chopsticks, metal spoons, and other options, a rubber spatula works best).
– Set aside at room temperature until chocolate is set.

Storage tip: Store baked cookies carefully, separated by parchment or waxed paper, in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. Florentines are best stored separated from moist cookies and cakes.

Note: Special thanks to my chocolate-know-how friend for advising that getting any water in the smaller sauce pan (including a porous wooden spoon that’s wet), and using any metal for distribution would cool the chocolate too fast.

Today’s Cookie Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5 stars
In my head, this is a big ordeal to make (not especially true), so when I do make them, it still feels novel. Plus, that crunch!
Likelihood of Repeat: 99%
Chocolate, almonds, sugar, and orange zest, yum yum yum! This time I even verified that you can make it with gluten-free flour for your gluten-liberated friends, hooray! Try it with some tea or coffee too.

Sweet & Spicy Almonds

Cookies Part 3 of 4. This one whips up fast, and it’s even vegan!

sweet & spicy almonds: roast, melt the slurry, coat, add dry mix, cool. easy!
sweet & spicy almonds: roast, melt the slurry, coat, cool. easy!

(originally from All Recipes, HQ’d in Seattle! ..one adjustment here)
Makes: 2 1/2 cups almonds
Total processing time: less than 30 minutes

Ingredients
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups whole almonds
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions
1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spread the almonds onto a baking sheet, and toast until the nuts start to turn golden brown and become fragrant, about 10 minutes. Watch the nuts carefully as they bake: they burn quickly.
2. Stir together the sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl; set aside.
3. Stir together the water, honey, and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, stir in the toasted almonds until evenly moistened. Pour the almonds into the sugar and spice mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread onto baking sheets in a single layer, and cool to room temperature.

Notes: don’t breathe in too deeply when you’re mixing the dry ingredients, or you will end up coughing. I keep reading this note and still doing it. :p Also: you could use agave syrup instead of honey, it won’t stick as well and will feel a little more oily.

Today’s “Cookie” Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 1 of 5 stars
Likelihood of Repeat: 85%
Since these are marginally better for you than cookies, I make them year-round, so they are very familiar. I also like that they don’t require egg whites, another recipe I tried used egg whites and things turned out funny.

Renee’s Grandma’s Sugar Cookies (a.k.a. Ardene Hindman’s)

Cookies Part 2 of 4.
Happy Thanksgiving to any fellow American friends out there! Maybe with the long weekend, you’ll want to try a cookie recipe?

sugar cookies: if gluten-free, roll between saran wrap, and add flour for less stickiness.
sugar cookies: if gluten-free, roll between saran wrap, and add flour for less stickiness.

Renee’s Grandma’s Sugar Cookies (a.k.a. Ardene Hindman)
Makes: ummmm, a whole bunch of cookies. I lost count, and I only did a half portion from what’s prescribed below.
Total Time: 60 minutes+, due to cooling time

Ingredients & Directions, per Renee:
“Cream 2 c sugar and 1 c butter.
Add 3 eggs, 1 c sour cream, 1 t salt, 2 t baking powder, 1 t lemon extract, 6 c flour.
Chill for 1-2 hours
Bake at 375 for 8 min (I do these thinly rolled with cookie cutter shapes)

+After cooling, this is the frosting, which, how my great grandma did it, went on the flat side (or what you’d think of as the back):

4 oz cream cheese
2 1/3 c powdered sugar
4 T butter
1 1/2 t vanilla

Soften cream cheese and butter in the microwave, add sugar and vanilla.
Then, of course, pretty sprinkles…”

Note: I found I bought the wrong lemon vial, so I used a combo of equal parts lemon flavor, rum, and lemon rind.

Okay, I confess, I only did the mixing and refrigerating (one batch with regular all purpose flour, the other with pamela’s gluten-free), my gluten-free friend did a lot of the rolling out, and chocolate friend did the frosting (more on chocolate friend in the 4th post). Thanks to Renee for her grandma’s recipe, and kudos to her grandma, who raised the woman who raised the woman I have been good friends with since college, who has always had a sage word in difficult times, and kept me in my sense of humor. Good luck on your Thanksgiving, Renee!

Today’s Cookie Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am familiar with sugar, and I’m familiar with cookies, but never any with sour and cream cheese..
Likelihood of Repeat: 65%
I definitely think this is worth trying again. More recent discussion with Renee has revealed that her mom only puts a thin layer of frosting on, which may explain the reviews from friends who said, “wow. that’s really sweet, I think I know some one who would like that..” Cookies pictured above were the gluten-free ones, which ended up with chocolate drizzles after we ran out of frosting. I am curious if it might be easier to roll out with more refrigeration after mixing so you can use cookie cutters, or if it’s just meant to be rolled into balls and flattened, definitely worth trying again to find out.

Cookie Mania!
Gingersnaps

Cookies Part 1 of 4.
Last Saturday night, the ingredients for baking cookies and cookie-like items started amassing on my kitchen countertop..

ingredients inventory: marshaling up the troops
ingredients inventory: marshaling up the troops

Okay, so they weren’t doing it all on their own. I did an inventory for my ideas to figure out what I still needed to get at the store.

insane inventory of ingredients to consolidate what was not already in the pantry
insane inventory of ingredients to consolidate what was not already in the pantry

Clearly, I overcommitted on types of cookies:

  • gingersnaps
  • chocolate chip
  • sugar cookies
  • sweet & spicy almonds
  • macaroons
  • almond florentines (my personal favorite)

Layer on top of that the plan to make some of the sugar cookies and florentines gluten-free and we have confirmation I was seized by that once-a-year crazy cookie spirit that happens around now. Must be the primal need to store up fat for the winter or something. I also stopped taking photos, as I suffer increasing embarrassment the more photos I take (even if the cookies aren’t asking me to stop). I conned a couple friends to come over and help (with the promise that they could also just come help eat them), thanks, friends! They were the saving grace, both from all their extra hands, baking expertise, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough (thus enabling me to abandon my non-GF efforts of that), and even a special macaroon recipe (thus allowing me to entirely cede any claim to making the macaroons with my own hands). 4 out of 6 ain’t bad. I often forget the particulars of baking things since I don’t bake year-round, so it was nice to have a few more brains in the mess. Hopefully they didn’t feel trapped at my house into baking hell..

A few rules I try to remember:

  • Always set the time for a little less than prescribed so you can check the food, or check it a little before the time.
  • Mix wet and dry ingredients separately before putting them together, so they distribute well.
  • Scale your recipe to the amount of the key ingredient you have.
  • Get other people to eat too so you aren’t sick later from too much sugar.

Less words, more food pr0n!

Since I overcommitted on the cookies in one day, I’ll be more reasonable here and post one recipe at a time (4 total) during this special holiday weekend. Let’s start with the gingersnaps, since it is a pretty enduring recipe I pull out every year, after that initial year when a certain ‘roommate’ started teasing me for baking it so many times (but that is how you get good at it!).

gingersnaps
gingersnaps

Gingersnaps
(originally from Joy of Cooking pg 707)
Makes: around 70 tiny cookies
Total Processing Time: 30-60 minutes

Ingredients & Directions
Preheat oven 325 F
(cream together..)
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar (raw sugar is fine)
(stir in..)
2 well-beaten eggs
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp vinegar
(sift & add..)
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2-3 tsp ginger (powdered, not fresh)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves

Mix ingredients until blended. Form dough into dime-sized balls. Bake on a greased cookie sheet about 12 minutes. As ball melts, cookie gets crinkled surface. When cool, ice to taste (or in my case, not at all). Makes about 60 little cookies.

This one below I don’t have the recipe for, and can’t really take any credit for making..

macaroons: thanks to my friend's expertise!
macaroons: thanks to my friend’s expertise!

We had extra chocolate from the florentines (recipe in upcoming post), so we drizzled the macaroons too.

"hello! we're cookies! please eat us!"
The final product: little gift bag of cookies. “hello! we’re cookies! please eat us!”

Today’s Cookie Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
1 of 5 stars
Likelihood of Repeat: 85%
I think I could bake these on a heavy dose of Ativan at this point..but it’s a nice standard recipe with ingredients that keep well in a pantry over time, and isn’t too sweet that you can’t eat more than one. It’s also quite tasty with a cup of hot tea or coffee.