Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spicy Garlic Potato Wedges

I really love the Irish. Not only because they gave us the color green, and cute guys with sweet accents...but also because they invented the potato. I still don't understand why the french fry doesn't count as a serving of vegetables. I mean I do, but really...say it ain't so! When I lived in California I was on Weight Watchers, and boy did I watch my weight...it didn't really go anywhere. Just kidding, I actually lost a good chunk of my matter...it was nice. Anyways, tangent alert...I allowed myself one cheat a week, and would splurge on something yummy like a malt shake, or a brownie, or the whole left side of a menu...but my favorite was a big batch of sweet potato fries. They warmed my soul. So, as you can tell I have a soft spot for all things fries.

I found this recipe on a food blog a while ago, it is a Cooks Illustrated recipe. The first time I made them I followed the directions, but it was confusing and too time consuming, so I edited, adjusted, and came up with this variation. FYI they have a nice kick, so if you don't like spicy food reduce the cayenne pepper.

Spicy Garlic Potato Wedges
adapted from Cooks Illustrated

6 garlic cloves (diced small)
6 TBS olive oil

1 3/4 pounds of russet potatoes (apprx. 4-5 potatoes) (cleaned and cut into wedges)
1 1/2 TBS kosher salt
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 TBS cornstarch

Cut potatoes into nice little wedges...the number of wedges depends upon the size of your potato...so cut until you see a wedge appear. : ) Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and pat dry. Spread potatoes across large baking sheet. In separate bowl mix garlic, oil, salt, and both peppers. Pour over potatoes and mix until all the potatoes are covered in garlic yumminess. Sift or sprinkle cornstarch over potatoes and lightly toss. Bake in 475 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and lovely. Oh and you should flip them once after about 15 minutes. Cool slightly, and eat.

These would also be awesome with the addition of chopped fresh herbs...maybe thyme, rosemary, oregano. The cornstarch helps form a nice crunchy crust on the outside of the potato.

Have you ever had gummy mashed potatoes? This could be why. One of the chefs at school told me that as a general rule when you are cooking vegetables....if it grows below the ground put it in cold water and then bring to a boil. If it grows above the ground...bring the water to a boil and then add your ingredient. I have slowly implemented this tip into my cooking and it really does help make everything better!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

my attempt at getting a little bit more creative with my pictures : )

I took my niece strawberry picking at a local farm this weekend. She ate more strawberries then she could pick, and by the end of our visit she was covered in strawberry juice from head to toe! I told her that I was going to make Strawberry Shortcake with all our our fresh pickens...she looked at me with shock and said, "you are going to cook a little girl?" Nice one. At school we often use dacquoise as a layer in our tortes, and I really like the taste and texture of it and decided to use it to make a strawberry short-cakish dessert. I baked my dacquoise on a sheet pan, let it cool and then cut circles out of it. Then I topped it off with sugar soaked strawberries and fresh whipped cream. Every bite tasted like the perfect summer day!

Strawberry shortcake is traditionally made with a sweet biscuit or a spongecake. Dacquoise is a cake made with almonds or hazelnuts and a meringue. I was very pleased with how this turned out, and everyone loved the contrasting textures of each element.

Dacquoise Cake
Adapted from On Baking

8 oz egg whites
1/4 cup plus 3 TBS granulated sugar (first sugar)
2/3 cup granulated sugar (second sugar)
1 1/8 cup almond flour
2 TBS plus 1 tsp all purpose flour (or cornstarch if you want a gluten free cake)
1 TBS vanilla egg whites and first sugar whipped to a stiff peak

Whip the egg whites with beater (whisk attachment) until foamy. This will take a few minutes. Once egg whites are foamy add first sugar and continue whipping until the egg whites and sugar form a stiff peak. Fold in the vanilla. In separate bowl mix together the second sugar, almond flour, and flour. Fold the dry ingredients carefully into the stiff egg whites with a spatula. Fold only until ingredients are combined. Over mixing will cause you cake to deflate. Carefully spread your cake batter evenly onto a greased and parchment lined jelly roll pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown, and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Once cake has cooled peel off parchment paper and cut circles out with biscuit cutter or any cookie cutter shape you have.

I served this with unsweetened fresh whipped cream, and strawberries that had been soaking in a little bit of sugar for about an hour. I didn't sweetened the cream because the cake and strawberries were already sweet.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Crunch a Bunch Waffles

So if you haven't noticed by now I really really like crunchy things. After much contemplation I have officially decided it is my favorite texture...creamy, chewy, and soft etc. just don't make me as happy as crunchy does. If I ever own a cat I reckon I will call her "Crunchy". I also like fall leaves...maybe there is a connection there...maybe not. My mom is on a diet and for some strange reason every time she loses weight I gain it. For the life of me I don't know why...I think the evil fat monster just wants to stay in the family and so he shifts from my thighs to hers. Darn the monster. So this morning as she sat there eating her sad little 1 egg, 1 slice of calorie free/ taste free toast with no butter, and 6 grapes...I decided to make peppered bacon, stormy eggs, and waffles...oh and I also had a bushel of grapes...but that isn't relevant to the story because they are healthy. What may you ask are "stormy eggs"? Well folks, I don't like sunny side up eggs, but I also don't like the yolk completely cooked either...so I start off by making a sunny side up egg and then flipping it and breaking the yolk totally on purpose...thus I give you the stormy egg. There isn't much to say about these waffles except they are da bomb diggity. As I made these waffles this morning on my waffle Iron I remembered where I got this appliance. On my 21st birthday my wonderful friends Marie and Cathy surprised me with a basket of syrup, waffle mix, and a waffle iron...that was a happy day and it made these waffles all that more awesome!

Crunch a Bunch Waffles
from the kitchen of Dagny

In bowl whisk the following:
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 TBSP brown sugar or raw sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup ground oats
1/2 cup ground almonds, pecans, or walnuts...or almond flour

In small bowl mix and then add to above dry ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups milk
6 TBS melted butter

Mix until combined. Batter will be thick. Measure out 1 cup per waffle and cook on greased waffle iron 2-3 minutes until toasty good. Eat with a bucket of maple syrup.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bran Raisin Muffins

I am pretty sure I will rock at being an old person...all the signs are already present in my life. I love an intense game of bingo, I love naps, I stare at crossword puzzles, I like going to Church during the week, people are already calling me "ma'am", and most of all I really do love all things bran. I know what you are all thinking..."how could anyone actually enjoy eating cardboard?" I don't know why I love it so much, something must be wrong with me...oh wait...that fact has already been established. : )

I call these muffins "Bran Raisin" just so you don't think I actually put the cereal "Raisin Bran" in them. I love Bran muffins, they are great after a morning workout, before a hike, maybe even for your second or third breakfast of the day. : ) They travel well...thus proving their strength and durability from the cardboardness of the bran. I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which in turn adapted it from Gourmet...RIP. The thing that I liked about this recipe is that it called for molasses and sour cream...in my opinion both are essential ingredients to every muffin recipe. Since everyone in my home is on some diet or another in anticipation for my sister's upcoming wedding I also made a second batch with lower fat ingredients. Both recipes are below. Please let me know if you try them!

Bran Raisin Muffins
adapted from Smitten Kitchen, and Gourmet

In large bowl cream with mixer until light and fluffy 2-3 minutes:
1 stick unsalted butter room temp
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Then add and mix until combined (please note, it will look clumpy and not fully come together):
1 large egg
1 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream or plain yogurt)
1/4 cup molasses

In separate bowl whisk the following:
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup miller's bran

Add the dry to the wet, stir gently only until combined...it will still be clumpy. If you over mix it, it will yield tough brick like muffins...no bueno. Spoon about 1/3 cup into each muffin liner or greased muffin tin. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the tops springs back when touched.

Lower fat Bran Muffins

from moi

In large bowl mix until combined:

1/2 cup natural unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup olive oil ( or alternate oil)
1/8 cup agave nectar
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup molasses

In separate bowl whisk and then add to above:
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup millers bran

Mix only until combined. Spoon 1/3 cup into lined muffin tins. Bake 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Most grocery stores carry Miller's bran, I found it near the flour in the baking aisle. Both muffins baked out very similar, however, the lower fat ones rose a little bit more. When tested by my panel of elite foodies, they were not able to tell me which one was healthier, and liked both versions. In my book, I consider that a win.

FYI - If you are ever in Naples, FL there is this place called the Coffee Bean, they have the best applesauce bran muffins ever!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Greek Quinoa Salad

What on earth is Quinoa...and how do you say that? I pronounce it Keen-wah...but I am probably butchering it...I am after all the girl who was told not to speak in French class because I sounded German. I was first introduced to quinoa by my dear friend Abigail. She made it into a yummy cold salad with cranberries...I think that's what was in it. I was extremely skeptical at first and just now...2 1/2 years later do I like it.

Some quick facts about this weird thing called, Quinoa:

1. It comes to us from South America, thanks to the Incas...and of course God who gave it to them : )
2. It is a species of goosefoot...um yeah
3. It is not a grain, it is not a plant...it is most likened to a tumbleweed...I wonder if cowboys eat it? Maybe that is what made John Wayne so good looking.
4. You eat the seeds
5. It has an insanely high amount of protein, amino acids, and fiber...healthy points!
6. You cook it like rice or couscous...a 1:2 ratio to water
7. I plan on making it for breakfast soon with maple syrup, cinnamon, and raisins
8. Monkeys are cute

I was thinking about quinoa all day today...at the end of the day I went to the gym, but still couldn't stop thinking about quinoa...so I left the gym and went to the grocery store and bought some quinoa. : ) I am such an addict. This is a great salad to take to BBQs, picnics, or just to accompany any meal as an awesome side dish.

Greek Quinoa Salad:
By me, that is Dagny.

2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
1 cucumber diced small
1 red bell pepper diced small
1/2 red/purple onion diced small
3 TBS olive oil
3 TBS Red wine vinegar
4 oz feta cheese diced small or crumbled
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Rinse quinoa in a colander...make sure the holes in the colander aren't super big...otherwise you will end up without any quinoa. : ) Place quinoa and water in large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with lid on for 10-15 minutes. Stir every few minutes. Cook until all water is absorbed and it is light and fluffy. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Stir until well combined. Serve room temp or cold.