Monday, April 14, 2014

April Daring Cooks' Challenge - Pathiri

I am so sorry I haven't posted in a while! But look at this - two posts in one day? What??

Yup - that's what happens every few months when the posting dates for the Secret Recipe Club and Daring Kitchen collide. I mean coincide.

The April Daring Cooks Challenge was brought to us by Joanna from What’s On The List. She taught us all about Pathiri and challenged us to create our own version of this inspirational Indian dish!

Pathiri was something completely new to me. Pathiri are a type of crepe-like pancake, usually rice based, which can then be used to create all kinds of savory dishes. Our challenge this month was to use these crepes to create a sort of savory crepe cake. Fun!

The given recipe was for a traditional Indian style dish.  Which looked outstanding.

But I only followed the recipe for the crepes.


For my filling, I went with what I had on hand - which happened to be Mexican inspired.  I had some leftover cooked Mexican-style chicken. I chopped the chicken, along with the tomatoes and onions that had cooked with it, and mixed everything together.

To construct my "cake," I spread each crepe with a thin layer of refried beans, then spread on some of the chicken filling.


I repeated these layers until I ran out of filling.


I then smothered the whole thing with a Mexican-spiced tomato sauce, then smothered the whole thing in cheese.


Which baked up...


...perfectly.

The results were super fun to cut into...


...and absolutely delicious to eat.


Well, for me. The kids didn't like it because of the tomato sauce (I made a cheese-free mini-version for little man). But I thought it was really fun and delicious.

Now, I have been wanting to make a (sweet) crepe cake for quite some time, so this challenge  has re-inspired me to try my hand at it, and I definitely want to try another version of the savory version, too, to see if I can find one that is a winner for everyone in the family!

Joanne, thank you so much for introducing me to this fun, delicious dish!

To see the challenge as Joanne presented it, check it out here.

To see the delicious varieties of pathiri cooked up in the kitchen this month, check them out here.


I know I usually put the recipe that I used here at the bottom, but I really just winged my final recipe (and used leftover chicken from a chicken dish that I'd... yeah... totally winged...), so I'll put here the crepe recipe, from the challenge, that I used, and give you a basic overview of the finishing steps.

Pathiri-inspired crepes
(from April Daring Cooks' Challenge)

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon grape-seed oil or neutral-tasting oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
pinch of salt
oil for crepe pan (I used non-stick cooking spray)

In a jug or mixing bowl add vinegar to milk; allow to sit for 5 minutes.
In a bowl (or larger jug), combine milk mixture with remaining ingredients; refrigerate for at least one hour.
Heat pan coating pan lightly with oil; remove excess oil with paper towel.
Pour batter to desired size; flip when edges start to lift.
Cook second side until just cooked.

For the final dish, prepare a cooked filling of our choice and allow it to cool. Also prepare a coordinating sauce of your choice.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spoon a bit of sauce onto a baking dish (so the final product won't stick), and alternate layers of crepes and filling. There is no rule for how many layers you need to use, so go with what works for you. Cover all of the layers with sauce.
Bake in preheated oven until heated through.

Enjoy!

Banana Zucchini Crumble Bread

This month's Secret Recipe Club assignment was a fun one. If you've never visited Ashley over at Cheese Curd in Paradise, do yourself a favor and check it out. She has tons of awesome recipes, participates in lots of different challenges, and is truly awesome.

When choosing what to make this month, I was particularly inspired by... bananas.

Odd. I know.

But we had lots of them. Lots and lots and lots.  So in addition to eating them plain, spreading them with peanut butter (sunbutter for allergy boy), and slicing them on our cereal, we also wanted to bake with them.

Luckily, Ashely has some great banana recipes.

I first made her banana blueberry muffins. Well... without the blueberries. We were out. But even as just banana muffins, they were absolutely delicious. I even brought some in to the lovely ladies in the front office of little miss's school.

But the next recipe I made was even better. Banana zucchini crumble bread. Oh my gosh, this bread is so delicious. And it's packed with wholesome goodness, you don't even feel guilty having an extra piece (or two...).

And the best part? It comes together super duper easily.


I made only a couple of modifications to the recipe to make it dairy free, replacing the butter with coconut oil.


And my camera battery died after those photos, so I can't show you just how easy it was.

But trust me. In no time, it went from mashed banana and shredded zucchini to this:


Crumb topped deliciousness.


This bread was moist and flavorful and so easy to eat. The crisp topping added the perfect amount of sweetness and crunch, making this extra fun.


I will definitely be making this again. And again.

Thank you, Ashley!






Banana Zucchini Crumble Bread
(from Cheese Curd In Paradise)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup grated zucchini
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted (I used coconut oil, melted)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter (I used coconut oil)

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x5 loaf pan.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, zucchini, sugar, egg and melted butter (coconut oil). Stir the wet ingredients into the dry mixture just until moistened. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter (coconut oil) until mixture resembles a coarse crumble. I found it easier to do this with my finger tips. It's a bit sticky, but gets the job done. Sprinkle topping over bread.
Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle come out clean. Allow bread to cool before removing from the baking dish.

Enjoy!



Thursday, March 27, 2014

March Daring Bakers' Challenge - Nougat


The March 2014 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. She challenged us to learn to make classic nougat and to make it our own with our choice of flavors and add-ins.

Nougat.

From the moment I saw this month's challenge, I couldn't wait to get started.  

Now, the nougat that we were making here is not the same nougat that most of us think of from candy bars. This nougat is more closely related to marshmallows, and is a sticky, chewy, sweet candy, usually with nuts mixed in. And I couldn't wait to try it.

As I am completely comfortable with making marshmallows, I wasn't intimidated by this process. There were only a few differences.

The first difference is the syrup. The syrup for nougat is made with honey, where marshmallows are made with corn syrup.


The syrup mixture is then carefully heated and boiled, whcih is where this comes in handy.


I boiled my syrup until it was 280 degrees.

While this was cooking, I prepared the other half. Whipping up an egg white. For my marshmallow recipe, I use gelatin. For these, it's more like traditional marshmallow cream recipes - egg whites whipped to soft peaks.

And then I carefully and slowly poured the syrup down the sides of my mixer, which was beating at full speed.


This is whipped up at high speed for about 10 minutes. Just like marshmallows.

This is the time when any mix-ins can be... well... mixed... in. Even though, due to the raw egg whites, I knew little man wouldn't be tasting these, I still opted not to mess with nuts (don't want to contaminate my mixer or anything). So I thought... why not chocolate chips?


In theory, not a bad idea.  But let me warn you... the nougat is still warm at this point. Which makes stirring in chocolate chips...


...a little messy.  But once it cools down, it looks kind of marble-y cool.


So I cut it into pieces and we tried it!


This stuff is fun. But a little goes a long way! And it is definitely sticky! I am sure that, depending on the temperature of the syrup, you can play with the consistency a bit, and I bet it's really good with other things mixed in.

Seriously, this was an awesome challenge. Rebecca, I can't thank you enough!!!

To see the challenge as Rebecca presented it, check it out here.

To check out the amazing nougats prepared in the kitchen this month, check them out here.


Nougat
(from Joy of Kosher)

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg white, room temperature
pinch kosher salt
1-2 cups of your choice of mix-ins (toasted nuts or seeds, dried fruits - I used chocolate chips)

You are supposed to use edible rice paper on both sides of this sticky treat and if you plan on packaging and giving out to friends or storing for a while it would be wise to find some. I didn’t and I just used parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray and for serving in our house it worked out just fine.
Prepare and 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or rice paper sprayed with cooking spray. I used a baking sheet, covered in parchment and sprayed generously with cooking spray.
Combine sugar, honey and 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of pan. Increase heat and boil until thermometer registers 280 degrees.
Meanwhile, beat the egg white and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form.  With the mixer running, slowly and very carefully, stream hot syrup into egg whites. Beat until the meringue is thick and has cooled slightly, about 10–12 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and your chose mix-ins to the meringue; mix nougat with a rubber spatula to distribute evenly.
Spread the nougat on the prepared pan. Top with second sheet of rice paper or sprayed parchment.  Use spatula to press the nougat into an even layer.   Let nougat set at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.
Cut with a knife and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie

There's been a lot of talk going around the 'net about how some people are making a bigger deal of holidays than they really should. Particularly minor holidays and "made up" holidays. With the popularity of facebook and pinterest and all kinds of other social media "brag" sites, it seems that there are a number of people out there who feel like it's unnecessary pressure and expectations to create big, elaborate celebrations out of every tiny thing.

Me? Any celebration that involves food, you know I'm in. Because why not add a little fun to each day? Especially when it's fun of the delicious variety!

So earlier this month, on March 14th (3/14), it was Pie Day. For us  math nerds. Pie = pi = 3.14 = 3/14. Get it? And... it's an excuse to eat pie!!

I'd originally wanted to have pie for each meal that day. Starting with quiche for breakfast. But little miss doesn't like quiche. And little man can't eat it. And daddy can't have the crust. So I'd have been making 4 totally different quiche-style breakfasts. Umm... never mind. So I decided to concentrate on dinner. We had pizza. Pizza pie. It works, right? Individual pizzas - daddy's with a cauliflower (carb free) crust, little man's dairy free. Easy enough to customize.

Then I got to concentrate on dessert.

I made a dairy free pie crust using coconut oil instead of butter (based on this recipe), then set to planning my fillings. For one pie, I made a Dutch apple pie. Again, dairy free.

But for the second, I wanted something more decadent.  So I decided on chocolate.


I've had my eye on vegan cream pies for a while. Vegan cheesecakes, vegan chocolate cream pies... the recipes all say how totally simple they are. But they all include an ingredient that... well... I've never used before... and that several members of my family who shall remain nameless would not want to try if they knew it was there.


No, it's not those melted chocolate chips I'm showing you. It's what they get blended with in the food processor.


And if you've ever made a vegan pie, you probably know what it is.

Tofu.

Yup - silken tofu. It holds things together, gives the pie body, and takes on the flavor of whatever you put with it. And it's really just that easy.

Blend everything together and pour it in the pre-baked crust!


Then I made the mistake of letting everyone eat it all before taking more photos.

Oops.

But I promise - it was delicious, it sliced up like a dream, and even my tofu-fearing family absolutely loved it! Which is encouraging me to try to make other vegan pies, too!

So tell me - did you celebrate Pie Day?


Coconut Oil Pie Crust
(slightly adapted from Coconut Recipes)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
3/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice cold water

Combine the flour, salt and sugar, then cut in the coconut oil unti lthe mixture resembles coarse sand. You can do this manually (whisk the dry ingredients, use two knives to cut in the coconut oil) or with a food processor. Slowly mix in the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together (if using food processor, stop as soon as it forms a ball). Divide the dough into two portions, shape each into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap. You can put the dough into the refrigerator if you are not ready to roll it out just yet, but you will need to let it warm up a bit, as the coconut oil firms up in the cold and is difficult to roll out.

To bake the pie crust to prepare to make the pie here, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, take one of the discs of dough, roll it to fit your pie plate (I use a 9-inch pie plate) anad gently fit it in, shaping the edges as you'd like.  Line the pie crust with either parchment paper or aluminum foil and fill with pie weights. You do not need "formal" pie weights - you can use dried beans (though you can't cook them for eating afterwards -I just save them in a baggie and reuse them as pie weights) or I read that you can use un-popped popcorn kernals, which you're supposed to be able to stil pop afterwards! Either way,  make sure you weigh down the crust a bit so that it doesn't puff up while baking. Bake for about 15 minutes (you can peek in - the edges should just start getting golden brown), then carefully remove the parchment/foil with the pie weights and bake for an additional 5 minutes to get the center a bit golden as well.  Cool before filling.

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie
(from care2.com)

Prepared baked pie crust of choice
2 cups chocolate chips
1 package silken tofu, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Melt chocolate chips using your preferred method (mmicrowave, double boiler - whatever you like!). Once the chocolate is melted, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until fully blended and smooth.
Pour filling into prepared (and cooled!) pie crust and place the pie in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Enjoy!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Super Crispy Skillet Potatoes

Remember when I told you that this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment, Amy's Cooking Adventure, was so good that I just kept on trying different recipes?

Well I just had to share this one with you. Because it's just that good.

And the best part? It's super simple, as well.

A couple of weeks ago, my meal plan called for roasted chicken, with potatoes and asparagus listed as the sides.

Now, I'd ordinarily just toss the potatoes in the oven while the chicken roasts and have baked potatoes. Easy, right?  But then I remembered seeing a recipe on my assigned blog for the best skillet potatoes. I mean... it said "best" right in the title! How could I not try it?

We've all made skillet potatoes... chop some potatoes, season as you wish, toss 'em in a pan and cook until their done. How are these different?

They start the same... chop some potatoes, add some seasonings....


...but before you toss them in a pan, choose your cooking fat very carefully. Because it can add flavor and make the potatoes awesome. This recipe called for two fats. Butter, which I replaced with olive oil so that little man could enjoy them too, and... bacon fat.

Yup.

And wouldn't you know... we save our bacon fat.

Melt the bacon fat, heat it with the olive oil, then add the potatoes.  Then be a little patient. You don't want them to burn, but you want to make sure they get nice and crispy on all sides.


Now, the problem is that potatoes take a long time to cook. So how do you keep them from burning, but also keep them from losing that crispiness you just worked to achieve? Lower the heat but, whatever you do, do not cover the pan. Shake 'em and toss 'em as needed to keep the heat and cook even, and I promise, you're going to love the results.


We sure did!


The Best, Crispiest Skillet Potatoes
(from Amy's Cooking Adventure)

1 pound of potatoes (I used russetts), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon bacon drippings
1 tablespoon butter (I used olive oil to keep these dairy free)
Salt, pepper and seasonings to taste (I used a sprinkle of garlic powder and a sprinkle of thyme)

Heat the bacon drippings and butter (oil) in a large skillet over medium-high heat until nice and hot (if using butter, the butter will get bubbly).
Add the potatoes and season generously with salt, pepper and your choice of seasonings.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are browned on all sides.  Lower the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the potatoes are cooked through (do not cover, or those crispy brown skins will get soggy!)  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

March Sourdough Surprises - Irish Soda Bread

You know what's awesome? When a month just inherently presents a challenge for a food blog challenge group. 

What do I mean? 

What could be more perfect for a food blogging group, particularly one who makes bread related product, then a month containing a holiday that has a bread associated with it. 

Again, what do I mean?

March, St. Patrick's Day, Irish Soda Bread!


This month we made sourdough Irish soda breads! Now, we have a very traditional recipe for Irish soda bread that we've made for... well... generations. It's been in daddy's family for generations.  So changing it up... well... I wasn't sure I could get away with it. So how did I make it work? I made pre-St. Paddy's Day dinner! I made the traditional corned beef and cabbage, but a week early! And then, for the bread, made this sourdough version of the bread.

There are a couple of "non-standards" in this recipe, at least compared to the traditional "peasant" version we are used to.

This one contains oats...


(and a bit of sugar!)

It's also enriched with an egg and a bit of liquid fat (I used canola oil).


(mixed in with the sourdough starter!)

But it comes together like usual. Whisk the dry, add the wet, barely mix, just enough to combine...


...then roughly shape it into a ball.


The other change is the cross in the top of the bread. The version I am used to, you press the cross into the top with the handle of a long, wooden spoon.

This version called for cutting it.  Not only cutting it, but cutting it deep!


And the results?

Were delicious! It tasted more like an oat quick bread rather than a traditional Irish soda bread, but that didn't stop it from being tasty. In fact... I just might make it again, but bake it in a loaf rather than in this shape.

I apologize for the previous two photos and the lack of "completed, full loaf" photos - it seems my camera setting was off, and the photos were way too dark, and I didn't notice it until I uploaded them.

But I did get a few that show how delicious it was once it was cut!


Yum!  We even had some the next night with our chicken noodle soup. It was perfect.

So did you incorporate sourdough into your St. Patrick's Day celebration? Link up and share with us!


An InLinkz Link-up

Sourdough Irish Soda Bread
(from Sour Salty Bitter Sweet)

1 cup sourdough starter (100% hydration, you can use discard starter if you'd like)
1 egg
2 tablespoons liquid fat (I used canola oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup coconut oil with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (I used old fashioned, but you can use quick cooking if that's wha tyou have)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
optional additions: 1/2 cup raisins or dried currants, 1 t. caraway seeds

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Whisk together the starter, egg, liquid fat, and buttermilk until well combined.
If using the seeds, combine them and put about 1 T. aside in a small bowl for sprinkling on top of the loaf.
In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Make a small well in the center of the mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir just until it begins to form a sticky dough. Add a little more buttermilk if it’s too dry and crumbly to form a ball (I didn't need to do this). Add a little flour if it’s so sticky you can’t shape it (again, I didn't need to do this).
(The dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours (covered) if you would like - when you're ready to bake, just remove from refrigerator an hour before baking to allow to return to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400F 15-20 minutes before baking.)
Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently once or twice, just until the texture is even. Lightly flour a baking sheet and place the ball on the sheet.
Cut a deep “x” in the top (cuts should go at least 1/3 of the way through the loaf, or deeper if desired — 101 Cookbooks says 2/3 of the way through).
Brush the top with buttermilk (or regular milk, or melted butter or lard, or a beaten egg) and sprinkle with the remaining seeds, if using.
Bake 35-40 minutes, or until the top and bottom are brown and the internal temperature is at least 190F (a metal skewer inserted into the center should come out clean).
Let cool 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy!

Monday, March 17, 2014

S'mores Bark

Oh. My. Gosh.

This month's Secret Recipe Club assignment was so hard.

Because it's a blog that I know. And love. And I wanted to make everything. Every. Thing.

This month my assigned blog was Amy's Cooking Adventure. But please don't click over there yet. Because you'll get so lost in all the deliciousness that you'll forget to come back here. So wait until after you've read this one before you head over there. Please?

As I said, I wanted to make absolutely everything from Amy's blog. And... umm... I kinda made a few. Three. And I stopped myself there because I didn't want to make it any harder for myself to choose which one I'd post. And, since I will definitely be sharing the others with you, I didn't want to create too long of a backlog of posts. But I'll  be making more. And more. And more. Because... umm... yum.

The recipe that I chose to post was not complicated, but holy smokes was it tasty. S'mores Bark. Holy smokes, talk about decadent deliciousness.  I mean, you all know how much I love s'mores, so how could I not try this?

It starts with a layer of graham crackers.


Then melted chocolate.


And then you top that off with mini-marshmallows.


Pretty much what you'd think, right? But then you make it AWESOME.  But that under the broiler to toast up the marshmallows and then, as soon as it comes out, press in some graham cracker crumbs and chocolate squares. Or, what I did instead - drizzle more melted chocolate over the whole thing.


Oh yes I did.


Then comes the hard part.

Put it in the fridge and let it set.  Yup, that means you have to wait. I mean, I suppose you could dive in right away, but it'd be soft and gooey and messy... which... come to think of it... doesn't sound so terrible... but I promise. It's good this way, too!!

Once it's set, break it into pieces as best as you can.


And then? Try not to eat the whole tray in once sitting.

It's  harder than it sounds.


This stuff was SO good. EVERYONE loved it. Me, the kids, the kids' friends, the neighbors... yeah. It's that good.

I even sprinkled the crumbs of it on top of ice cream one night. *swoon*

Trust me. Try this.

And keep checking back so you can see the other awesome recipes of Amy's that I made!


S'mores Bark
(from Amy's Cooking Adventure)

8 graham crackers, broken in quarters, divided (I actually used  about 14 because I used a big cookie sheeet - just use as many as you need to fill the tray you choose)
12 oz semi sweet chocolate (I used chips)
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 (1.55 oz) Hershey bar, broken into 12 pieces (I melted another couple of tablespoons of semi-sweet chocolate to keep this dairy-free)

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (not parchment or waxed paper).
Arrange all but two graham cracker quarters in a rectangle on the lined baking sheet. They don't have to be touching, but you want them in a good, single layer.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate using your preferred method (I microwaved the chocolate chips in 30 second increments, but you could use a double boiler if you prefer).
Once the chocolate is fully melted and smooth, pour it over the graham crackers, smoothing it evenly with a spatula.  Some chocolate will go between the crackers and may go over the edges. This is not a problem.
Quickly pour the mini marshmallows over the melted chocolate.  Move the tray to the refrigerator for 10 minutes to harden the chocolate slightly.  While the tray is in the fridge, preheat the oven to broil.
Remove the tray from the refrigerator and place it under the broiler (this is why we’re using aluminum foil instead of parchment paper!).  Leaving the oven open a crack so you can keep a close eye on things, broil the bark for 1-2 minutes, watching constantly, until the marshmallows are lightly browned.
Remove the tray from the oven.  Quickly sprinkle the reserved graham cracker pieces over the marshmallows, then drizzle with the additional melted chocolate (or press in the pieces of Hershey bar, if that's what you choose).
Return the tray to the refrigerator for 1 hour or until the chocolate is completely hardened.  Break the S’more bark into smaller pieces.  Serve cold and refrigerate leftovers.

Enjoy!






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