Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mango Lassi

Sometimes it's the simple things.  You know what I'm talking about...
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.
Brown paper packages tied up with strings.

 or perhaps...
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels.
Door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.

might I add...
Sun on my shoulders and wind in the willows.
The echo of laughter and sweet faces on pillows.
The sweet mellow sound when Dave Matthews sings.

or maybe...
Mangoes and yogurt puréed into lassies.
Going incognito behind my dark sunglassies.
Adding new lyrics to already popular things.
------

Mango Lassi
slightly adapted from Happy Days with the Naked Chef
serves 4 (<---- that's debatable)

1 c. plain greek yogurt
~1/2 c. milk + more as needed
7 oz. fresh mango, pitted & sliced (~1 mango)
4 tsp. sugar, to taste

Put everything into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into glasses and serve.  You can refrigerate this lassi for up to 24 hours.
LetsGetNaked

*forgive me Rodgers and Hammerstein...and Sound of Music lovers everywhere....


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mexican Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I love the grainy texture of Mexican Chocolate- but I've got to admit, I've become totally spoiled.  Since mi amiga has been bringing me freshly made disks of soft, pliable (and often still warm...or so it seems) cinnamon-flecked chocolate from Mexico an average of two times a year, I'm ruined for the store bought stuff.  I ran out of the good stuff a few weeks ago and tried substituting a round of the type I used to love from my Mexican market.  I found that I no longer loved it.  It's harder.  It doesn't melt as beautifully.  Spoiled.  Fortunately, I received another baggie-full this week.  I don't know what I'd do if she went to Mexico less often than she does (or wasn't able to bring me any).  Now, I know how to make it, but I am absolutely unable to source cacao beans.  But enough woe is me...I will survive.  If I use it frugally.

When I saw my friend Leslie of La Cocina de Leslie post her Mexican Chocolate Chunk Cookies last week, I knew that was exactly how I wanted to use the last of my stash (and since Mari would be back to the States in a few days).  So, with a mixture of anticipation and nervousness, I made a batch of cookies that everybody loved.  They were flecked with vanilla beans and studded with soft chunks of homemade Mexican chocolate and little pecan bits.  Turns out there was no need for apprehension, the chocolate was put to good use.  And I already know what I'm making with my new batch.  But I'm not telling.  Not yet.
Mexican Chocolate Chunk Cookies
adapted from La Cocina de Leslie
yield: ~2½-3 dozen

    2¼ c. all-purpose unbleached flour
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. fine sea salt
    ⅔ c. butter , at room temperature
    ¾ c. grated piloncillo, packed
    ½ c. granulated sugar
    2 eggs, at room temperature
    seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
    2 disks Mexican chocolate, cut in small chunks
    ~1 c. chopped pecans, optional
Preheat oven to 375° F.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and piloncillo.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Add flour mixture and beat gently until just combined.  Fold in the Mexican chocolate and pecans, if using (or use half the amount in half the batter, like I do to please the kiddos...who don't dig nuts in their cookies).
optional step:  Cover dough and refrigerate overnight.  I find that this helps keeping the cookies from spreading around the edges (especially in a hot kitchen).

Scoop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased, baking sheet (I like to line mine with parchment or a silpat).  Bake for ~8-10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let the cookies sit on baking sheet for about a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature...awesome with a tall, cold glass of milk!
...and p.s.- remember: cacao beans.  Let me know if find any!

...and p.p.s.- if you can't find/make homemade Mexican chocolate, don't let me scare you away from making these fabulous, soft cookies.  Just because I'm ruined for it doesn't mean you have to be.

I am sharing this post with:
Sweet Treats Party SweetToothFriday sweets for a saturday


Friday, July 29, 2011

50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #8 Judith Jones - Zucchini Pancakes

In May '11, Gourmet posted a list of 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food) that runs the gamut from food writers to cookbook authors to television personalities to restauranteurs to chefs to food bloggers.  Some are a given.  Some are controversial.  Speaking the names of some brings fond childhood memories.  Speaking the names of others will make some readers cringe.  And of course, some of our favorites were not even included.  We food-lovers are a passionate bunch of people and whether we agree or disagree, every woman on this list has earned her place for a reason.  Being a woman who is passionate about food (cooking, eating, talking about, writing about, photographing), when I caught wind of Mary from One Perfect Bite's idea of cooking/blogging her way through each of these 50 women...one per week...I knew I wanted to join her.  Many of these women paved the way for us in culinary school, in the kitchen, in cookbooks, in food writing, and on television and I think it is a fabulous way to pay tribute to their efforts.  Some of the women on the list have been tops with me for years.  Some I have heard of (perhaps even seen, read, or cooked from) before.  And there are even a handful that I am not familiar with at all.  I excited to educate myself on each of these women game-changers and hope you look forward to reading along.  We are going in order from 1 to 50.
the "Gourmet" prompt...
8. Judith Jones- Without her there may have been no Julia (not to mention Hazan, Jaffrey, and so many more), because Jones was Child’s early, only champion, and lifelong editor. She also rescued Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl from the slush pile, but that’s another story.

While I'd toyed with picking up a copy of Jones' book The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food many times, I had yet to do it.  That is, until her name popped up as number eight on the list.  So, of course I'm skimming... because time absolutely flies by from one Friday to the next.  By the time we're finished with our crash-course of these 50 ladies, I'm going to have another 100 books (easy) added to my to-read list.  Sheeesh.  So, while I wish I had more background on Judith Jones to share with you, I found myself unprepared this week.  I will share with you some info from her website The Pleasures of Cooking for One-  "Judith Jones is Senior Editor and Vice President at Alfred A. Knopf. She joined the company in 1957 as an editor working primarily on translations of French writers such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. She had worked before that for Doubleday, first in New York and then in Paris, where she was responsible for reading and recommending The Diary of Anne Frank. In addition to her literary authors, she has been particularly interested in developing a list of first-rate cookbook writers; her authors have included Julia Child (Judith published Julia’s first book and was her editor ever after), Lidia Bastianich, James Beard, Marion Cunningham, Rosie Daley, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Edna Lewis, Scott Peacock, Joan Nathan, Jacques Pépin, Claudia Roden, and Nina Simonds. She is the coauthor with Evan Jones (her late husband) of two books: The Book of Bread: Knead It, Punch It, Bake It! (for children); and The Book of New New England Cookery. She also collaborated with Angus Cameron on The L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook. Recently, she has contributed to Vogue, Saveur, and Gourmet magazines. In 2006, she was awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award."  Pretty darn game-changing if you ask me.  I have, however, had some enough time to page through her entire cookbook by the same name...and although I don't often cook for one, once the kiddos are back in school, I'll have at least five afternoons a week when I do.  So many fantastic ideas and recipes...another "want".

worth further exploration:  (website) The Pleasures of Cooking for One, (books) The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones, The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones
Zucchini Pancakes

zucchini, grated to make 1 cup
salt
1 egg
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 scallion, finely chopped
a few chopped fresh parsley and/or basil leaves
1 slice prosciutto, torn into small pieces
2 slim strips red bell pepper, cut into small dice
light olive oil
squash blossoms to garnish, optional

Spread out the grated zucchini on a towel, and sprinkle salt generously over it.  After 5 minutes or so, pat dry to extract some of the juice.  Beat egg lightly in a bowl, and add the grated zucchini, flour, scallion, herbs, prosciutto, and pepper pieces.  Heat enough oil in a medium skillet to film generously, and when hot, plop half of the batter into the pan, flattening it slightly.  Repeat with remaining batter (you should get 2 pancakes).  When pancakes are brown on the bottom, turn and brown other side.  Remove to a warmed plate and fry the squash blossoms in a little butter, if you wish- this takes just a few seconds (and very, very little butter).  Toss them on top of the pancakes.
Judith Jones (1924-present)
"I couldn't lie.  Yes, I admitted, I adored garlic." ~in answer to her mother's questioning about her "wayward" path in The Tenth Muse
Who is cooking along with these 50 Women Game-Changers?
I am sharing this post with:
friday potluck guest host girlichef FCFButton fresh food friday at la bella vita Foodie Friday Logo 2 friday food at mom trends Friday Food Fight


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Arroz con Leche {Rice Pudding}

Arroz con Leche is really Mexi's "thing".  On those days when there's not much to eat in the house, it's inevitable that my hubby will be in the kitchen putting together a pot of this sweet, comforting concoction.  The great thing about arroz con leche...or rice pudding, basically...is that it is very versatile.  He's probably never made it the same way twice.  Sometimes he uses sweetened condensed milk.  Sometimes evaporated.  Sometimes regular ol' milk.  I suppose that's why it always winds up on the stove when everything else is running dry...you can pretty much guarantee that we at least have rice, some variety of milk, and some sort of sweetener in the house at all times.  Now, while Mexi's versions vary, whenever I am in the mood to make some, I make this version.  To me, it is perfection.  Sometimes I switch out the raisins with dried mango (my favorite dried fruit!) or cherries...sometimes I leave it out altogether.  But this method using medium-grain rice (my preferred type/size rice grain) is what soothes me the quickest.
Arroz con Leche
adapted from Mexico One Plate at a Time
yield: ~6 servings (~5½ c.)

2" piece of Mexican canela (or any cinnamon stick)
2 (2") strips of orange zest
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 c. medium-grain white rice
4 c. milk (preferably whole or 2%)
¾ c. sugar
½ c. raisins (or other dried fruit like cherries, cranberries, diced apricots or mango)
Miel de Piloncillo (Mexican Raw Sugar Syrup), for serving
Place cinnamon stick, orange zest, ½ tsp. salt, and 1¾ cups water into a 4 quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, then cover and lower heat as low as it will go while still simmering gently, for ~17-20 minutes (until all of the water has just absorbed).  Remove cinnamon stick and orange zest.

Add milk and sugar to the pan.  Set over medium-low heat and simmer until mixture just begins to thick (no thicker than the consistency of heavy cream), ~15-20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and stir in the raisins (or other dried fruit).

Serve warm, drizzled with Miel de Piloncillo.

*This can be refrigerated in a covered container for a few days.  It will thicken as it sits, so you will need to stir some more milk into it when warming it up. 
I am sharing this post with:
Miz-Helen-Badge-ALT5 foodfriday food trip friday Sweet Treats Party SweetToothFriday sweets for a saturday


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Check out her buns! {square,gorgeous...and substantial...just made for a burger...}

...or a sloppy joe.  No joke, every single person who ate them, raved about them.  They turned up the class factor a notch on our Sloppy Joes.  Actually, it's almost like they were made for them.  You know that feeling...that messy, squishy, sloppy (go figure)...feeling when you're half way through your Sloppy Joe.  Your store bought bun has begun to wither under the juices.  These buns will not do that.  While these buns have a sexy golden crust on the outside that holds up to those juices, the insides are tender and amazing at soaking up some of those same juices.  I'm not saying you're not gonna lose the loose meat out the sides when you take a bite.  I'm not changing the name to "Tidy Joes" or anything...just offering you a fighting chance, is all.  These are going to be a permanent fixture in our house.
Hamburger Buns
slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma via I like to Cook
makes 12 regular-sized buns or 36 petite (slider) buns

    1½ c. milk
    8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
    4½ tsp. active dry yeast
    4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
    5 Tbs. sugar
    1 Tbs. kosher salt

    1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water
    Sesame seeds and/or Poppy Seeds, for sprinkling (optional)


In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and butter and heat until the butter is melted, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to 105° - 115°F. Add the yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the 4 cups flour, the sugar and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the milk mixture and knead until the dough forms a ball, ~1 minute. My dough was pretty sticky, so I added a little more flour at a time until it just came away from the bowl.  I didn't want it to get stiff, but I wanted it to be workable. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl, oil the inside of the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, ~1 hour.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 10x7½" rectangle. I found that I didn't even need to use a rolling pin.  I was able to just push this dough out to the right size using my hands.  The dough was an absolute dream to work with!  Using a ruler as a guide, cut the dough into 2½" squares. We all loved the square artisan-look of these buns, but if you prefer a round bun, I see no reason why you couldn't form each one into a ball before placing on the tray.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, spacing the buns evenly apart, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.
Remove the plastic wrap from the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds, if using. Bake until the buns are golden (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a bun should read 190°F) 14-16 minutes. Transfer the buns to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut in half and use as hamburger buns.
For slider buns: Follow the instructions above but roll out the dough into a 9-inch square. Cut into 1½" squares and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Position 1 rack in the upper third of an oven and 1 rack in the lower third and preheat to 400°F. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds, if using. Bake for about 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and 180 degrees halfway through baking.
I am sharing this post with:
*Bread Baking Buddies (in conjunction w/ Bread Baking Babes) hosted by BBBabe Sara at I Like to Cook
*Yeastspotting!
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Miel de Piloncillo {Mexican Raw Sugar Syrup}

Who else thinks that piloncillo cones are irresistible?  Translating roughly as "little pylon" in honor of its shape, these cones of Mexican raw sugar can vary in color from a golden, honey color to a rich, dark molasses color.  As you would imagine, the darker the color, the deeper the flavor.  You can find them ranging in size from pretty small (like the ones pictures...~¾ of an ounce) to tall ones that can weigh a ½ pound or more.  While I often just chuck a couple of them into a big, warm pot of Agua de Tamarindo in order to sweeten it (a trick I learned from mi suegra), in order to use them in a recipe, they need to be grated, shredded, shaved, or chipped- whatever is easiest for you.  If I need it small, I use a box grater, otherwise I may just shave away at it with a sharp knife.  

Today I'm sharing a lovely, sticky, deeply-hued syrup that can be used to drizzle over buñuelos, on top of Arroz con Leche, as a sweetener in a cocktail...or any other way you choose. 
Miel de Piloncillo
{Mexican Raw Sugar Syrup}
from Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless
makes ~¾-1 c.

8-9 oz. Piloncillo (1 large cone or several small)
one 2" strip orange zest
⅛ tsp. anise seed
Combine piloncillo, orange zest, and anise seeds with 2 cups of water in a small saucepan.  Set over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil.  Stir until sugar cone melts completely, then keep it at a gentle boil until mixture has reduced to a syrupy consistency, ~20-30 minutes.  Cool and strain into a jar.  This syrup will keep refrigerated for several weeks.
I am sharing this post with:
Tasty Tuesdays 33 shades of green TastyTuesdayBB a little birdie told me rook no. 17


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