Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mocha Almond Fudgsicles {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: An Edible Mosaic}

Ten weeks.  Ten weeks I've had the honor of welcoming talented bloggers to share my space here at girlichef!  And each and every week I want to reach into my screen and grasp a couple of popsicle sticks to bring back out.  There has not been a single one that I did not want to try!

Who's Holding the Stick: This week, please help me welcome another of my favorite blogging friends, Faith of the blog An Edible Mosaic.  Now, I'm sure exactly how long I've known Faith...a couple of years maybe?  But even before I knew her, I knew of her.  Aside from gorgeous photography and recipes that set my tummy a growling on her blog, she has an amazing cookbook with a prominent space on my bookshelf (and in my kitchen - every recipe I've tried has been delicious).  Plus a couple of fantastic smoothie e-books (along with Alyssa of Everyday Maven).  I could go on and on, but I want to let her speak...please help me welcome Faith!
Mocha Almond Fudgsicles {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: An Edible Mosaic} |
 First I have to give a huge, heartfelt thank-you to Heather for inviting me to participate in her Summer of the Popsicle event. She is one of the sweetest bloggers I have had the pleasure of getting to know, and on top of that she’s a complete inspiration and incredibly talented. Thank you so much for inviting me, Heather!

So, popsicles!

Growing up, I was all about the frozen treats when summer vacation hit.
Mocha Almond Fudgsicles {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: An Edible Mosaic} |
 I’d be out riding my bike all day long – with or without one of my friends in tow, it made no difference to me – only returning home briefly to simultaneously re-fuel and cool down with a deliciously frozen goodie. Which, I have to say, was usually a freeze-pop, because they were the most portable frozen treat…and when you’re a kid and riding your bike is your number one priority, portability is high on your list of demands.

Rainbow-colored, “fruit” flavored (haha, who knows how they get the fruit flavor, lol!) twin pops were also a favorite. And push-pops. Oh, and fudgsicles. Mmm, fudgsicles.
Mocha Almond Fudgsicles {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: An Edible Mosaic} |
 And if a real treat was in order, I used to love going to a local ice cream stand and ordering a soft serve cone of what they called “Swiss Mocha” flavor, which was basically chocolate with a hint of coffee and toasted almond. Although it’s still a favorite of mine, Swiss Mocha seems to be an elusive ice cream flavor these days, which is why I decided to re-make my own version of it into healthy fudgsicles. Because when warm weather hits, I’m still all about the frozen treats.

These healthy beauties are everything I remember about Swiss Mocha: predominantly chocolate, with a hint of coffee and a touch of toasted almond. And the avocado? Other than the super velvety consistency of these fudgsicles you won’t even know it’s there.
Mocha Almond Fudgsicles {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: An Edible Mosaic} |
Mocha Almond Fudgsicles

by a guest post from Faith Gorsky of An Edible Mosaic
Prep Time: 10 minutes (+ time to freeze)
Cook Time: n/a
Keywords: dessert snack vegan almonds avocado frozen popsicles summer

Ingredients (6 fudgsicles)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) plain, unsweetened almond milk (or any plain, unsweetened milk you like)
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 medium avocados, pitted and flesh scooped out
  • 4 tablespoons toasted, slivered almonds
Puree all ingredients except the almonds in a food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary (the mixture will be about the consistency of pudding).

Add the almonds and pulse a couple times to coarsely chop and incorporate them.

Spoon the mixture into popsicle molds, making sure not to fill the molds over the “fill” line, since liquid expands as it freezes. (My molds are 2 1/2 oz/75 ml and I got exactly 6 popsicles.) Gently tap the mold a couple times on a hard surface to help any air bubbles escape.

Freeze for 30 minutes, then insert the sticks (waiting 30 minutes ensures that the sticks won’t sink all the way down).

Return to the freezer and freeze completely, about 2 to 3 hours more, depending on the size of your popsicles and how cold your freezer is.

To easily unmold the popsicles, dip the plastic bottoms in warm water and they should slide right out.

Once completely frozen and unmolded, I like to wrap each popsicle individually in plastic wrap so it’s easy to grab one whenever a craving hits!
Mocha Almond Fudgsicles {#SummerOfThePopsicle Guest Post: An Edible Mosaic} |

Summer of the Popsicle 2 These look so creamy and rich and like-they-belong-in-my-belly, Faith.  Thank you so much for taking over for me today and sharing these amazing fudgsicles with us!

So, once you're finished contemplating on how many times to multiply this recipe so that you can stock your freezer for the rest of the summer, be sure to drop by and visit Faith at her blog, An Edible Mosaic...or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Creamy Rosewater-Cardamon Chuski w/ Almonds {food 'n flix: Monsoon Wedding}

Creamy Rosewater-Cardamom Chuski w/ Almonds {food 'n flix: Monsoon Wedding} |
When I chose Monsoon Wedding as our Food 'n Flix pick for this month, I mentioned that though I hadn't seen it in a while (years, really), I remember enjoying it.  The sensory experiences stuck in my head - the vibrant colors of India, the music and dancing, the family ties, and of course, the rain.

Sitting down to watch it again reminded brought all of the fine details into focus, and reinforced (to me, at least) why I consider this a foodie movie.  At just over three minutes in, food already gets a the form of pakoras.  A couple of minutes later, we see Varun learning to make a Coconut Curry.

Amidst the family madness surrounding a wedding, and the small love stories developing throughout, offerings of large containers of nuts, bottles of Scotch, jalebis sizzling in oil in the background, ordering a salt lassi or a glass of "the best chai in the world", mentions of cooking sesame chicken, and reaching for a samosa on a high shelf pepper the film.
Creamy Rosewater-Cardamom Chuski w/ Almonds {food 'n flix: Monsoon Wedding} |
What I really wanted to make was something featuring marigolds, as an ode to the event planner Dubey, and his new wife Alice...who could been seen munching on marigold heads and petals throughout the film.  Unfortunately, this is the one year that I didn't plant any.  And my back-up sources (my neighbors and our community garden) didn't seem to either.  So I had to form a new plan.

If you've seen the film, and you know me, you can probably guess where I'm going with this.  As a matter of fact, you're probably surprised that I haven't mentioned it yet.  That's right, Chuski (aka, ice pops)!  We see bride-to-be, Aditi, sneaking away with the excuse of getting a chuski when she and the ladies head into the congested city to pick sari's for the wedding party.  She is actually going to make a phone call to the married man she'd been having an affair with, and wasn't quite ready to let go of.  But she wind up with a dripping pink chuski that she passed on to Ria...who slurped it in the street, eliciting a catcall of sorts from a male passing by.  I mention because I adore the character of Ria, and her response makes me giggle.

But the chuski makes a reappearance later on in the film (again with Aditi), but this time eating one side by side with her soon-to-be-husband as they stroll and talk...and she finally comes to her senses and decides to devote herself to the cute, kind, available (well, to her...they are engaged) guy.
Creamy Rosewater-Cardamom Chuski w/ Almonds {food 'n flix: Monsoon Wedding} |
Yeah, I couldn't resist the ice pops.  Did you really think I'd be able to?

After I finished to flick to dancing and music and a happy ending, I promptly looked up the word "chuski", just to be sure that it meant ice pop.  It does.  Sort of.  It seems to be more of a general Hindi word meaning "ices" such as ice candy, shaved ice, snow cones, ice pops, and generally...frozen treats to keep you cool under the hot Indian sun.  Much like a nieve in Mexico.   Again, I really wanted to make one that was flavored and colored by marigolds, but since that wasn't an option right now, I went with another traditional chuski flavoring - rosewater.  Rosewater is used to cool and refresh, and I haven't used it in a while.  So, rosewater it was.  Now, I went the creamy route, which probably isn't very traditional - but it's ridiculously addictive and endlessly tasty...just one lick will leave you wanting more.

Creamy Rosewater-Cardamom Chuski w/ Almonds

by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes (+ time to freeze)
Cook Time: n/a
Keywords: dessert snack vegetarian soy-free sweetened condensed milk almonds rosewater popsicles frozen Indian summer

Ingredients (12 (2.5 ounce) ice pops)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-1/2 cups half & half
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons rosewater
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1-3 drops red food coloring, optional
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Whisk everything except the almonds together in a large measuring cup with a spout until thoroughly combined. Starting with just a drop, add enough food coloring to give you a delicate pink tint (if using).

Divide the toasted almonds evenly among your popsicle molds. Pour the mixture into the molds.

Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours, adding the popsicle sticks in at the correct time for your mold.
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Creamy Rosewater-Cardamom Chuski w/ Almonds {food 'n flix: Monsoon Wedding} |
Food‘nFlix This month's Food 'n Flix pick (hosted by me) was Monsoon Wedding!  Today is the last day for submissions, so if you've watched the film and cooked or baked something inspired by it, post it and get it to me by the end of the day.  More details here.

Join us next month with host Caroline Makes, and her selection, (the classic) When Harry Met Sally!

Summer of the Popsicle 2
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter {cook the books: How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher}

Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter {cook the books: How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher} |
"...since we must eat to live, we might as well do it with both grace and gusto."  ~MFK Fisher

Our latest Cook the Books selection, How To Cook A Wolf, was originally published in 1942, and concerned eating in a time of war and the food and money shortages that inevitably accompany it.  Author MFK Fisher (some say the first of the food writers) revisited and revised it in 1951, adding notes and additional recipes.

You can tell from chapter titles like "How to Be Cheerful Through Starving", "How to Be Content with a Vegetable Love", and "How Not to Be an Earthworm", that humor is as much a part of Fisher's writing, as is practical advice.   Both simple recipes and techniques for frugality run rampant through the pages, but nary a recipe for braised wolf or wolf's head stew, as the wolf is simply a metaphor for hunger.

When deciding what dish I wanted to make to represent this book, I flipped back through all of the recipes and marked a few.  Ones that had ingredients which I had readily available.  I thought it would defeat the purpose of cooking the wolf if I had to go out and spend money to make something.  I've made Fisher's Tomato Soup Cake several times, and (oddly enough) it is always a hit - plus I get to play "guess that secret ingredient".
Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter {cook the books: How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher} |
But instead of using one of the recipes in the book, I decided to pull a passage that I'd made a note of from the chapter on "How to Distribute Your Virtue".  This chapter has to do with making things it by adding half the sugar as you normally would to the pot when making a jam, baking things in the oven for future meals at the same time that you're baking tonight's dinner (saves energy), or by cooking double the amount of rice, potatoes, or pasta that you normally would since you already have the water boiling.

So, when I made Spaghetti with Pesto the other night, I decided to use a larger pot and cook double the noodles.  I separated them after I drained them, and rinsed the "extra" in cold water so that they wouldn't stick together.  I then tucked them away for the following day.

In some of the [notes added in 1951], Fisher mentions the things that you can do with those extra starches that you've cooked and saved on heat consumption...

"Ah, rice pudding, rich with raisins!  Ah, spaghetti baked with honey and shaved almonds in a buttery dish!  Ah, potatoes any way at all but perhaps especially mixed with egg and cheese and fried!  Ah."
Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter {cook the books: How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher} |
Hmmmm.  Spaghetti with honey and almonds and butter. YES!  I kept tossing that idea around in my head, and decided that I would not be satisfied until I tried it.  Now, I didn't skimp on the butter, so this dish seemed almost decadent.  Naughty, even.  But lawdy, was it a delightful little splurge!  But a splurge that I didn't have to hit up the market for, everything was either in my pantry, fridge, or freezer.

"I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of, to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war's fears and pains, is to nourish ourselves with all the possible skill, delicacy, and ever-increasing enjoyment.  And with our gastronomical growth will come, inevitably, knowledge and perception of a hundred other things, but mainly of ourselves."   ~MFK Fisher

Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter

by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 5 minutes (using pre-cooked sp
Cook Time: 8-12 minutes
Keywords: breakfast entree pasta almonds

Ingredients (serves 2-4)
    for the Cinnamon Honey Butter:
    • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey
    • ~1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    for the spaghetti:
    • 2-3 ounces Cinnamon Honey Butter
    • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
    • 12 ounces cooked spaghetti
    making the Cinnamon Honey Butter:
    Stir all of the ingredients together until well combined. Plop the butter mixture onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper and roll into a small log. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    making the Spaghetti:
    Preheat the oven to 350° F.

    Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add about 2 ounces of the cinnamon honey butter to the pan. As soon as the butter melts, add the almonds. Toss and stir until the almonds are coated in the butter, and they have started to turn golden, 2-3 minutes.

    Remove from heat and toss in the cooked spaghetti noodles.

    If you like, place another small pat of the cinnamon honey butter into the bottom of a baking dish (just large enough to hold the noodles). Dump the entire buttery noodle and almond mixture into the dish. Slide into preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until hot all the way through, with a few golden bits here and there.

    Enjoy warm!

    You will have extra Cinnamon Honey butter left over. Use it to spread on warm biscuits, or something along those lines.

    If you like, fish out a spoonful of the toasty almonds before tossing in the pasta. Reserve and sprinkle over the top before serving. This is purely for aesthetic purposes.

    I'm utterly enamored with and utterly confused by this dish all at the same time. When I read the line "Ah, spaghetti baked with honey and shaved almonds in a buttery dish!" in How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher, I knew that I'd never eaten sweet-ish pasta...and that I needed to remedy that immediately.

    The scent reminds me of those stands at the fair that sell warm, freshly sugared nuts in cones. I can't resist those, either. Therein lies the confusion. Spaghetti is dinner (or lunch). Sweets are dessert (or a snack). But I couldn't stop eating it. So, I don't know how to classify it, but I look forward to inviting the chaos into many more meals...
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    Spaghetti w/ Almonds in Cinnamon Honey Butter {cook the books: How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher} |
    cookthebooksOur selection for this round of Cook the Books, How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher, was chosen by Simona.  Submissions are due today for this round (due Monday, July 29th), so if you're can still get in on the fun!

    And if you want to join us, but haven't read the book or don't have time to post this time, we'd love to have join us in our next round, which I'll be hosting, with one of my favorite novels, The Baker's Daughter by the beautiful, kind, funny, amazing writer Sarah McCoy.  Seriously, I adore this woman as much as I adore the book!

    This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

    Sunday, July 28, 2013

    Kale & Pepita Pesto

    Kale & Pepita Pesto
    I had every intention of sharing a pie with you today.  I have several 1-pound baggies full of small, local strawberries that I froze at the beginning of summer.  And I was in the mood for pie.  But that all went downhill when I decided to stop at our community garden a few days ago.  I was heading home after running an errand under the steamy midday sun, and I decided to take a detour.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, as I get older, the years fly by faster and faster.  You mean, summer is already well on its way to being over?  When did that happen?  Stopping at the community garden has not even crossed my mind this year.  So, detour...

    I pulled over at the curb and snagged a bag from my trunk.  As I made my way down the aisles full of plants picked clean, dodging scary, monstrous, buzzing beetles, I almost gave up hope on finding anything.  I did venture through a couple of ginormous, prickly zucchini leaves successfully.  I wound up clutching a small handful of green beans.  And I won't overlook the single purple basil sprig and 5 rainbow chard leaves.  All of these ingredients make for a great little pasta toss.
    Kale & Pepita Pesto
    But it was when I stumbled, dumbfounded on row after row of seemingly untouched curly kale.  What!?  Kale is my green of choice.  And when it's in season, I add a little bit to anything it seems right to sneak it into.  And it was in just the state that I wanted it: young, tender, and not too strong.  This way, everybody will eat it with fervor.

    I actually walked back to my car to grab a larger bag, which I proceeded to fill to the brim, without putting a dent in the crop.  Seriously, you couldn't even tell I'd been at work.  I'll probably head back this weekend to see if I can get lucky.  If it's still there, I'll be putting up a ton of pesto in the freezer to take me through Autumn, and maybe even into the Winter.

    I've been tossing it with pasta and my morning eggs so far.  Steak is on the menu for today, and I plan on using it like a Chimichurri!  And as of now, I plan on seeing a Pesto Pizza on the table tomorrow...
    Kale & Pepita Pesto
    Oh! And lest you think I forgot about that pie...I totally didn't.  We had it for dessert that very same night.  So although I didn't share it today, keep your eyes peeled for a Strawberry Pie coming your way one of these days.

    Kale & Pepita Pesto
    Kale and pepitas combine in this vibrant green pesto recipe.
    Print Friendly and PDF
    by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: n/a
    Keywords: condiment entree preserving sauce vegetarian soy-free sugar-free gluten-free kale pepitas cheese

    Ingredients ((generous) 2 cups)
    • 8 ounces kale (curly or lacinato), rinsed and patted dry
    • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 fat cloves garlic, minced
    • ~1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (& a few grates of zest)
    • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
    • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1½ cups (3 ounces) finely shredded Hirten cheese
    • ½ cup roasted pepitas (salted or unsalted)
    Combine kale, garlic, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Turn on low speed while drizzling in the olive oil. Process until everything has come together, stopping to scrape down the bowl once, if needed.

    Add the cheese and pepitas, process again until everything is just combined. Taste, and adjust lemon juice and seasoning, if needed.

    serving suggestions:
    Toss with hot pasta or veggies. Serve with steak and/or eggs. Great with grilled chicken or fish.

    short term: Scoop into a jar and smooth the top; cover with a light film of olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for up to a week.

    long(er) term: Spray an ice cube tray or muffin tin with nonstick spray, and then fill the compartments with pesto. Freeze until solid, and then transfer to freezer-safe baggies. Pull out a cube/round or two to toss into a dish, as needed.

    I made this pesto after finding a HUGE crop of young, tender curly kale in my community garden. If you have older kale, it may be a bit "tougher". If you like, you can blanch it quickly in boiling water, and then dry it before making the pesto. I'm far too lazy to do that, and I enjoy the raw taste. It's entirely up to you.

    Feel free to switch out the pepitas for walnuts, pine nuts, or even almonds if you'd rather.

    For the cheese, I used Castello Alps Selection Hirten cheese, because I had a quarter of a wheel in the fridge. It's a hard, crumbly, somewhat salty cheese that reminds me of Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano...feel free to substitute any one or a combination of those cheeses if you can't find Hirten.
    Kale & Pepita Pesto
    Hosted by T.R. at No One Likes Crumbley Cookies, this week the #SundaySupper crew is heading to their Farmer's Markets and/or local farms and produce stands to bring you a fresh, inviting menu!

    Appetizers & Salads
    Soups & Sides

    Sunday Supper MovementWhat's good at your local farmer's markets and produce stands right now?  What are your favorite varieties of pesto? Also, please join us for our live twitter chat tonight at 7pm (Eastern) using the #SundaySupper hashtag, and check out the Sunday Supper board on Pinterest.

    Friday, July 26, 2013

    Piggy Burgers w/ Sundried Tomato Ketchup {she made, ella hace}

    Piggy Burgers w/ Sundried Tomato Ketchup |
    In our house, when you mention "burger", you can pretty much guarantee that seasoned ground beef patties topped high with lettuce, tomato, onion, and bacon (of course) are the first things that pop into everybody's minds.  Toasted buns slathered with condiments (what they are depends on the mood)...ketchup, mayo, mustard, guac.  Sometimes I'll put a fried egg or some frizzled onions on top.  I've even been known to squash some potato chips under my top bun.  Oh, and don't forget the cheese.  The ooey, gooey, melty cheese.  Or perhaps a creamier goat cheese or blue cheese layer.  Maybe a good mushroom and swiss burger?

    Okay, I just fell head first into my own train of thought there, and almost got lost!

    What I meant to tell you was that when my friend and she made, ella hace partner-in-crime Leslie suggested that we make BURGERS our theme this month, I told myself I was going to make one a little out-of-the-norm.  For me, at least.
    Piggy Burgers w/ Sundried Tomato Ketchup |
    It was easy, really.  Not long before that point, I had been flipping through a few new cookbooks that I picked up from the library.  One particular page that I had marked was one for burgers.  Pork burgers.  Yes, I took the pork on a burger beyond the bacon.

    And really, a burger is no better than its condiments and toppings.  Fortunately, this one has a rich homemade ketchup made from the concentrated sweetness of sundried tomatoes, with a slight whisper of heat from one of my two favorite dried chiles, the pasilla.  Add to that some fragrant cilantro leaves, my latest obsession (kimchi), and a handful of crunchy pork skins?

    This burger is definitely greater than the sum of its parts!
    Piggy Burgers w/ Sundried Tomato Ketchup |
    Speaking of great burgers, I am now wishing (as usual), that Leslie and I lived down the street from each other.  Because while the whole fam enjoyed this twist on our "normal" burgers, just the thought of Leslie's Roasted Poblano Burgers w/ Chile de Arbol Guacamole makes me whimper.  Pretty sure we're having burgers again this week.

    Piggy Burgers w/ Sundried Tomato Ketchup

    by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
    Prep Time: 45 minutes (mostly unattended)
    Cook Time: 30 minutes
    Keywords: entree condiment pork sundried tomato American

    Ingredients (8 (double-patty) burgers)
      for the burgers:
      • 2 pounds ground pork
      • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
      • green part of 6 scallions, finely chopped
      • 2 teaspoons sea salt
      • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
      for the sundried tomato ketchup:
      • 6 ounces sundried tomatoes (dry-packed or in oil, blotted)
      • 2 pasilla chiles, stemmed & seeded
      • 2 cloves garlic
      • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
      • 1/2 cup dry red wine
      • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
      • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
      • 1/4 teaspoon smoked sea salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
      • ~1.5 cups water
      to serve:
      • 8 buns or rolls, split
      • Quick Kimchi
      • fresh cilantro leaves
      • chicharrón (good fried pork rinds/pig cracklin'/pork skins)
      making the burgers:
      Line a large baking sheet with wax paper; set aside.

      Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, using your hands. Form into 16 thin patties (weighing about 2 ounces each - you'll use two patties per burger). Line the patties up on the prepared baking sheet, adding another layer of wax paper and stacking, if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

      making the ketchup:
      While the burger patties are chilling, combine all of the ingredients for the ketchup, except the water, in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes on low.

      Scrape into the jar of a blender and add half of the water. Puree on high speed, slowly continuing to drizzle in the rest of the water (or as much as you need) to create a thick, smoothish sauce. Transfer to a bowl for use, or refrigerate in a container with a lid for up to 2 weeks.

      cooking the burgers:
      Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of peanut, olive, or vegetable oil. Add 4 of the pork patties to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate set in a low oven and repeat until all of the patties are cooked.

      finishing the burgers:
      Toast the insides of the buns or rolls on the hot cast-iron skillet before turning off the heat. Smear some of the Sundried Tomato Ketchup on the bottom buns and top with a pork patty. Spread another little daub of ketchup on those patties, and then top with remaining patties. Top each with some kimchi, cilantro, and chicharrón.

      Serve immediately and enjoy!

      Feel free to use single patties in a burger for younger eaters (or those with smaller appetites). For the ultimate experience, drink a cold root beer alongside these piggy burgers.

      adapted from Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee
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      Piggy Burgers w/ Sundried Tomato Ketchup |
      What happens when two American girls who are both married to Mexican guys find out that although one of them lives in the U.S. and one of them lives in Mexico, they both love eating the same food?  Well, naturally they decide to get "together" the only way they can and cook up the same dishes.  Or perhaps take the same ingredients and talking about them in their own voice or using them in their own way. 

      Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food.  We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out.  Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it.  Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you.  It's not a competition, it's a showcase.  We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it. 

      Join me (here at girlichef) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.
      She Made, Ella Hace Banner- and

      Thursday, July 25, 2013

      My Brown Bread (inspired by the Brown Breads of Ireland)

      My Brown Bread |
      One of the things that I remember most fondly about the food of Ireland was the Brown Bread.  That may seem cliché, or even boring, however it is anything but!  Every place you go, you'll find a different variation.  Images of rustic, craggy soda bread probably pop to mind - and yes, there is plenty of that.  And no joke - it tastes better in Ireland than it does in the US.   It's as if the gurgling streams and emerald landscapes are embedded in each loaf, and every bite you take helps Ireland take root in your soul.

      One of my favorite loaves of Brown Bread came from a restaurant in Dublin called Restaurant FortyOne.  It was a chewy, yeasted brown bread with a deep, wheaty flavor.  Those slices disappeared from the bread basket before any of the other types of bread and rolls did.
      My Brown Bread (Restaurant FortyOne) |
      Brown bread was part of every breakfast spread at every hotel.  There's nothing like starting off the day with a thick slice that has been slathered with grassy, Irish butter...especially with a couple of slices of fat Irish bacon and a cup of coffee that has been sweetened with a lump or two of brown sugar.

      And this may sound like bragging, but I even enjoyed a slice of brown bread from the hands of Darina Allen.  It's true.  Our group was in a rush to get on the road after our mindblowing tour of Ballymaloe, and Darina and Rachel filled a bag with goodies from the kitchen to fill our rumbling bellies so that we wouldn't starve on the road.  Slightly surreal, entirely satisfying.
      My Brown Bread (Ballymaloe) |
      But these days, when I reminisce on the bread of Ireland, my mind always wanders back to a grainy loaf made by the Malt House Restaurant inside the Jameson Whiskey Distillery in Midleton (Cork).  I wish beyond wishes that I had snapped a photo of the bread.  I'm loath to admit that I was pretty shaky when we arrived at the distillery, due to a nasty bout of motion sickness.  I won't go beyond saying it was embarrassing and miserable and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.  The cool, morning air did me a world of good.  I could not fathom the thought of heading into the restaurant with everybody else with my head and stomach pounding and twisting the way they were.  I marveled at the Magpies, and beckoned an Irish cat (which promptly and entirely ignored me, just as a stubborn American cat would).  I walked and snapped a few shots of the quaint houses and flowers that lined the stone walls.

      Eventually I made my way to the picnic tables that sat just outside the restaurant doors.  Although food still wasn't a high priority, someone brought me out a couple slices of brown bread.  Brown bread that changed my life.  It was heavy and moist, and it was studded with nutty grains.  If I remember correctly, I even spotted a hint of yellow cornmeal.  And the flavor?  It was unique all in itself.
      My Brown Bread inspired by Malt House Restaurant |
      I've searched here and there to see if I could find their recipe (or a similar copycat version) since then, to no avail.  So I've done some experimenting.  A couple of bricks and semi-successful attempts later, I've come pretty close.  It's not an exact replica, but it has the same texture...the same heft...the same unique flavor (which I think comes a bit from the addition of millet).  The only thing that I'm not achieving is the gorgeous brown, yellow-flecked color of their loaf.  So, I will keep trying (oh, molasses...yes, next time!).  Until then, I'm happy to eat a few slices of this version, slathered with butter.
      My Brown Bread |
      My Brown Bread (inspired by Malt House Restaurant)

      by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
      Prep Time: 10 minutes
      Cook Time: 60-70 minutes
      Keywords: bake bread low-sodium nut-free soy-free vegetarian Irish

      Ingredients (1 loaf)
      • 8 ounces whole wheat flour
      • 4.5 ounces steel-cut oats
      • 2 ounces yellow cornmeal + more for dusting pan
      • 1.5 ounce quinoa flakes
      • 1.25 ounce all-purpose flour
      • 1 ounce wheat germ + more for dusting pan
      • 1 ounce millet
      • 1-1/2 tablespoons brown flax seeds
      • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
      • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
      • big pinch of sea salt
      • 2 cups (1 pint) buttermilk, or more as needed
      for the topping:
      • palmful of wheat germ
      • palmful of sesame seeds
      Preheat oven to 450° F. Grease a loaf pan and dust it with a smattering of cornmeal and wheat germ, turning and tapping to lightly coat.

      Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the buttermilk over them, and work it in using a wooden spoon. It will be a thick batter, but make sure that everything is moistened. If you have trouble working in any of the dry ingredients, add a dribble of buttermilk at a time until everything is just incorporated.

      Turn batter out into prepared pan. Dip a butter knife in flour, and us it to score the top, once lengthwise, and once crosswise (making a cross to let the fairies out). Scatter the top with wheat germ and sesame seeds.
      Slide into preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 250° F, and continue to bake for 50-60 minutes longer. Loaf should be lightly golden and cooked through.

      Let it cool in the pan for a few minutes, until you're able to handle it easily, then carefully turn the loaf out and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.

      serving suggestion:
      Serve as part of a bread basket with your meal, it's great slathered with a bit of salted butter. It's also good toasted and served with butter and honey. It is a dense bread, so a slice or two (depending on thickly you've sliced it) will do ya!
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      My Brown Bread |

      Wednesday, July 24, 2013

      Cherry Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles (#SummerOfThePopsicle guest post: Javelin Warrior}

      Wait.  What?  It's Wednesday again?  Already?  I'll take it!  This past week has flown by in a whirlwind of preparation and enjoyment for and of the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando.  I'm just now shaking off the jet lag from Monday, and beginning for form cohesive thoughts.  Thank goodness I have one of my ridiculously talented and kind blogger friends dropping by to share a post with you today.

      Who's Holding the Stick:  Today, I'm so excited to welcome the creator of Made with Love Mondays, Tuesday Tutor, and Food Fetish Fridays, Mark of Javelin Warrior's Cookin w/ Luv!  Please help me welcome him...and his gorgeous popsicles today.
      Fear Conquered: Cherry Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles

      I almost never eat popsicles.

      When I want something cold and frozen, it's almost always ice cream. Typically, I prefer scoopable ice cream. Although I'll never turn my nose up at a Klondike bar. (And I really need to learn to make a suitable ice cream bar replacement so I can stop buying Klondikes entirely!)

      So why, of all things, am I sharing a popsicle recipe that doesn't even come close to resembling ice cream? Trust me, I'm scratching my head too. Because even though I made these, I'd still reach for that tub of ice cream.

      But truthfully, these popsicles exist because I desperately wanted to participate in girlichef's awesome Summer of the Popsicle 2. Every Wednesday for the whole summer, different bloggers share delicious frozen popsicle (or popsicle-like) treats with Heather and I felt compelled to make an attempt. I mean really, I should be able to at least attempt making popsicles. Even if I rarely eat them. TA-DA! Cherry Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles!

      But even if my admittedly inept take on popsicles isn't to your fancy, make sure to check out all the other possibilities over at girlichef's Summer of the Popsicle. Because there are some amazing combinations and nearly every one of them is easy to make.

      And if you're not me, and if you have a hankering for something cold and frozen and sweet, you might just be happy to reach for one of these guilt-free indulgences rather than that Klondike bar. Which is probably a good thing, given I've already finished off the last Klondike bar...
      Measure 8 ounces of strawberries and 8 ounces of pitted cherries (I used cherries I had previously pitted and frozen).

      Transfer to a medium sauce pan and add 1/4 cup of purified water.

      Add the juice of 2 lemons to the fruit.

      Cover the sauce pan and bring the fruit to a simmer.

      Simmer covered for 20 minutes until the strawberries have begun to break down and the cherries have softened.

      Add the cherries and strawberries to a blender.

      Puree the fruit until smooth.

      Allow the fruit puree to cool, then pour into the popsicle molds.

      Add your popsicle sticks, then freeze the popsicles for at least 6 hours (I freeze mine overnight).

      To remove the popsicles, run the popsicle molds under hot water until the popsicles are loosened.
      Cherry Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles

      by a guest post from Mark of Javelin Warrior
      Prep Time: 10 minutes (+ time to freeze)
      Cook Time: 20 minutes
      Keywords: dessert snack vegan dairy-free nut-free soy-free frozen popsicles summer

      Ingredients (varies)
      • 8 ounces strawberries
      • 8 ounces pitted cherries
      • 1/4 cup purified water
      • juice of 2 lemons
      Place strawberries and cherries (I used cherries I had previously pitted and frozen) into a medium sauce pan and add the purified water. Add the juice of the 2 lemons to the fruit. Cover the sauce pan and bring the fruit to a simmer.

      Simmer covered for 20 minutes until the strawberries have begun to break down and the cherries have softened.

      Transfer the mixture to a blender. Carefully (hold the top down with a kitchen towel) puree the fruit until smooth.

      Allow the fruit puree to cool, then pour into the popsicle molds. Add your popsicle sticks, then freeze the popsicles for at least 6 hours (I freeze mine overnight).

      To remove the popsicles, run the popsicle molds under hot water until the popsicles are loosened.

      Hungry for Tips?
      • Sugar: Thanks to the sweetness of the strawberries, you really don't have to add any sugar to these popsicles. And no bottled juice is needed either. So all in all, this is a fairly guiltless snack.

      • Frozen or Fresh: If you start with fresh cherries and strawberries, they will come to a simmer faster. However, you will also have to pit and hull all of your strawberries and cherries. So to make my life simpler, I buy cherries and strawberries when they're in-season or on sale, hull and pit the fruit and then freeze for later.

      • Freeze-time: Unless you like semi-soft popsicles, make sure you plan on a good 6 hours of freezer time. I like to make these a day in advance, that way I'm not tempted to go searching for a treat a couple hours after popping them into the freezer.

      • Alternatives: I originally tried these popsicles with cherry and rhubarb (and no lemon). It was a good combination, but Boyfriend Javelin wasn't happy with the flavor. I've also tried swirling in about 1/4 cup of non-fat Greek yogurt to the cooled fruit puree before pouring into the molds. This also works nicely, especially if you prefer a creamier popsicle.
      Summer of the Popsicle 2
      Well Mark, I can hardly fault you for reaching for cool, creamy ice cream now, can I?  Hardly.  I mean, I'd never turn an ice cream treat down.  But me and my cold, refreshing, icy pop-lovin' self would never be able to resist grabbing the stick to one of these gorgeous garnet beauties!  You may not be a convert, but I'm so happy that you took a bit of time to explore and test so that you could be a (fabulous) #SummerOfThePopsicle guest host!

      If you're not familiar with Javelin Warrior, I hope you'll take some time to drop by and say hello at his blog.  You can also find Javelin Warrior on twitter, pinterest, google+, facebook, and instagram!

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