Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Brown Basmati Rice Custard Pudding, pg. 298

"Rice is NOT a dessert food!"  He we go again, Ben at his finest.  He told me to not make this dessert unless I enter the worst dessert contest...jokingly - 1.2/5 grains.  Yikes, I even put fresh mango slices on top to complement the rice.

I LOVED this dessert, looks like I will have the entire pan to myself!  If you're a fan of creme brulee, this recipe is for you. If you hate pudding like Ben, stay away from this rich, custardy treat. Who knew milk, eggs, sugar, and a bit of honey could produce such a lovely dessert! 

Since Ben can get a bit worked up about SUPER healthy desserts, I caved in and made him dirt cake!  He even ground all the Oreos.  Yup I know, I really mixed pudding, cream cheese, butter, and Cool Whip together and layered it between crushed Oreos.  Ben ate soo much dessert at the party, he woke up with a stomach ache in the middle of the night.  He should've stuck to the rice pudding!  -amy w. 


Friday, July 16, 2010

Whole Wheat and Cranberry Scones

Wow, it's been a crazy busy couple of weeks! I started a new job (yes, a cooking job!!!) and have finished my 3rd week of summer classes. I'm exhausted, but feeling happy and satisfied. I am cooking for a wonderful family of four, 2 to 3 nights/week to take the load off the busy, working parents.  So far I love it! I'm reading countless blogs, magazines and cookbooks, now with a focused goal: 3 healthy, varied meals per week that adults and kids alike will love. It's been a blast so far, and I'll be keeping you updated.

I'm trying to work in the grains here and there so I baked these scones for them this past week with whole wheat pastry flour as directed in the recipe. The pastry flour has a lower protein content than say cake or all purpose flour and will absorb less moisture (right?!).  Having never baked a scone before, or worked to much with a kneaded dough, these types of recipes always intimidate me. For no good reason either, because it's was super simple and you get better every time. Working with doughs, you'll learn how they should feel and how to do it better the next time.

I think my end product was a little dry, but scones are supposed to be a little dry? yes/no? Not sure? I always here the States or at least Seattle, is not a great place for good scones, so I'm not sure I've ever had what the French would call a good one.   Anyway, it was tasty and I did the real milk and butter recipe, no substitutions this time. The family doesn't have a wheat or dairy issue, so I plan to do some gluten free and dairy free stuff, but not all. I'd give this recipe a 4 1/2 out of 5. I think the dryish texture was my fault, but other than that they were great and according to what I've read, this recipe is perfect ;)

Fun and random...I was volunteering at a cooking class called Fast Food for Busy Families at PCC the the other night and the instructor told everyone to save time, you should get a pressure cooker, then recommended a book by none other than, Lorna Sass, "Cooking Under Pressure". In a small class of 15, she got a great review from the instructor and 2 students who have and love the book. Yeah, go Lorna, you've got Sass! Cheers ya'll...now go bake some scones ;)  -Vicki

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Latest Obsession......CrAcKeRs

This recipe is one you can whip up fast without making a trip to the grocery store.  I was inspired to make these crackers after buying a goat cheese spread with apricots and honey from the farmer's market.  Since Saturday, I've made this recipe twice.  The first time following the recipe as listed below and a second time, making adjustments to the bake time and pan type.

The 1st time I didn't roll the dough thin enough and I cooked them for 10 minutes then rotated the pan and cooked another 10 minutes, as stated by Peter.  The cooking time was too long.  On the 2nd try I rolled the dough much thinner and baked the crackers on  an air crisp pizza pan, removing them from the oven after 12 minutes.  The crackers did not burn or turn the rich brown. 

Only cook 1/2 the dough on your first try so you don't ruin the entire batch.  You can make adjustments as needed depending on your oven temperature and pan you are using.    

Thin Wheat Crackers
Taken from Whole Grain Breads - Peter Reinhart

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons milk, buttermilk, yogurt, soy or rice milk
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons vegetable oil or light olive oil
extra whole wheat flour for adjustments
1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt dissolved in 1/2 cup wather for salt water wash

1. Combine the 1 cup of flour and the salt, milk, honey, and oil in a bowl and mix to form a ball of dough.  Add extra flour or milk as needed to make a firm but tacky dough. 

2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 minutes, adjusting the flour or liquid as needed; the dough should feel like molding clay and have a satiny surface.  It should not be soft and sticky or crumbly.

3.  If baking the crakers immediately, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cover the dough with a cloth or towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes, then move on to the next step.  If holding the dough overnight, form it into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature overnight.

4. When you are ready to bake the crackers, prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.  Mist the work surface lightly with pan spray or wipe it with a touch of oil on a paper towel.  This makes it easier to lift the dough later.  Transfer the dough to the work surface and working from the center of the dough out to the four corners, roll it out into a rectangle, dusting the top of the dough with flour only if needed to prevent sticking.  Roll the dough out as thinly as it will allow, about 1/4 inch.  If the dough begins to spring back, let it rest for a few minutes, then continue rolling until the rectangle is about 1/8 inch thick.  Brush the top of the dough with the salt water wash.

5. Use a pizza roller or pastry scraper to cut the dough into whatever shapes (small rectangles are suggested).  Transfer the crackers to the prepared sheet pan.  The crackers should not touch.  Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking about 10 minutes longer, until the crackers begin to turn a rich brown on both the top and the underside.  (Waiting unil they turned a rich brown made them too burnt for my liking)

6. Let the crackers cool on the pan before serving.  They will crisp up as they cool.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bulgur and Chickpea Salad w/ Parsley Dressing, pg. 133

WoW.....I really need to start making my own salad dressings!  I continuously pay $4 a bottle at Whole Foods and Lorna's parsley lemon dressing cost less than $1 to make.  The only thing I had to buy was a lemon.  The parsley on my deck is growing out of control so this was perfect recipe to make this week.

In less than 5 minutes, I blended the dressing: olive oil + lemon juice + parsley + yogurt + cayenne + salt.  I'm not a lemon fan so the flavor was a bit strong for me, however, by no means was I dissappointed. When the dressing was mixed with the bulgur, chickpeas, cucumber, onions and tomatoes, the result was a tangy tasty blend. Ben gave this recipe a 3.3/5 Grains.  When asked what he would change, Ben said he didn't care!  That means he liked it!      

Since this was the first dressing I've made, I've since been researching other recipes.  Check out Cheap, Healthy, Good's Blog. They posted 102 light dressing recipes.  A pretty cool resource!   -amy

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wheat Berry Salad with Apples and Mint...

Amy reviewed this recipe back in April which you can check out here.  She loved the recipe and Ben did too, so I'm sad to report I didn't feel the same way.  I am willing to try it again and here's why. My dressing was the whole problem. It didn't emulsify well, and stayed too runny. I used the mint I recently starting growing in my garden, but have only cooked with this one time. And, I didn't use fresh squeezed orange juice. So, I'm hoping the "medicinal" flavor I experienced was more a result of these errors than the actual recipe, because I really want to love it!  Here's hoping 2nd time around will be better, and I will surely let you know :)

Tonight I cooked up some Sweet Onion Risotto (using my first ever batch of homemade chicken stock!!!) and enjoyed it al fresco on our front porch with some Crispy Kale "chips"... my favorite way to chew on the curly, leafy greens.  I have yet to figure out the perfect cooking time and temp for the chips to come out crispy and yet not burned, but this will get you pretty close and it's so simple.  Preheat oven to 400 F, tear the leaves of your Kale into pieces, toss in olive oil & bake them on a sheet pan for about 6-8 minutes, then toss with a little salt or seasoning salt.  Enjoy! -Vicki