Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Things I Learned: 11/29/11

-T-rex didn’t run. Because it had strong buttocks and weak ankles, it power walked.

-The Egyptian vulture has a yellow head because it eats poop.

-Surficial is a word. It means of or pertaining to the earth’s surface.

-A group of starlings is a murmuration.

-A “mean sidereal day” is the period of time during which the earth makes one revolution on its axis relative to a particular star. (23 hrs, 56 min, 4.09 sec)

-Rabbit hopping is a sport. And FYI: The world record in high jump is 39.17 inches by a Danish rabbit named Tosen. Yaboo, who’s also Danish, has the long jump record with 9.84 feet.

-Delicata squash and sweet dumpling squash are the same squash, in different shapes.

-The woman’s voice in all airport announcements comes from a real person—and she lives in Maine.

-Janet Reno is 6’1”.

-The Astros are moving to the American League.

-Moose calves are born without any bacteria in their systems so mamma moose lick their babies incessantly to give them bacteria.

-Orogeny is the process of the earth’s crust smashing together to make mountains.

-Two hundred years ago there were 27 letters in the alphabet. The last letter was & (the symbol for “and”). Because ending the alphabet with “X, Y, Z and and” sounds funny, people called the & “per se and” and finished the alphabet by saying “X, Y, Z and per se and.” Eventually “and per se and” became ampersand. (And at some point it was booted from the alphabet.)

-22 people invented the incandescent bulb before Thomas Edison.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Flan

We went to El Camino for my birthday (in October) and had an amazingly delicious organic, local, gluten-free meal (as usual) and an amazingly delicious gluten-free dessert (also, as usual) and then something magical happened. I asked the server if she had any idea how to make the amazingly delicious pumpkin flan I’d just eaten and she said, “sure, wanna look at the recipe?”

Of course I did. So I did. And then I made it. And it was AWESOME—so awesome that we’re having it again on Thanksgiving. And I’m sharing it now in case you want to do the same.

(Adapted from “Fresh From Maine: Recipes and Stories from the State’s Best Chefs”)

¾ cup plus 1/3 cup organic sugar, divided
½ cup water
1 1/3 cup skim milk
½ cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
whipping cream
maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 300° and place ramekins in a 9 x 13 deep baking dish.

2. In a small saucepan (ideally, one with a spout), combine ¾ cup sugar and ½ cup water.

3. Bring the sugar and water mixture to a boil and continue to boil until the mixture turns a light amber color.

4. Pour equal amounts of the caramel into the ramekins.

5. Add the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until well blended.

6. Add milk, cream, pumpkin, 1/3 cup sugar pumpkin pie spice and vanilla to a medium saucepan. Stir to combine.

7. Bring the mixture to a simmer (but not a boil!) and pour the hot mixture into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly.

8. Transfer the almost-flan mixture to a bowl with a spout. (Hold on! If you have a fine mesh sieve, strain the almost-flan through the sieve on its way into the bowl. We don’t have a fine mesh sieve…)

9. Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins.

10. Pour boiling water into the baking dish so that the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the baking dish with foil.

11. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the center of the flan still has a slight jiggle.

12. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and allow them to cool a bit before serving (or cool completely before refrigerating).

13. Whip the whipping cream to turn it into whipped cream.

14. To serve, run a knife along the edge of the ramekin. Place an upside-down plate on top of the ramekin and flip, keeping the plate and the ramekin in contact. Gently pull the ramekin straight up off the plate—the flan should remain on the plate like a sand-castle.

15. Top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of maple syrup. (We skipped the maple syrup because we don’t have an appropriate drizzling tool.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Maple Pots de Creme

Pots de crème, pudding, mousse, custard, flan, crème brulee… What’s the difference? Is crème brulee a pot de crème with a torched top? Is flan a pot de crème sans pot? It doesn’t matter. (Except that it does. If you know the answer, please enlighten me.)

What matters is Pete’s love of maple syrup. I like maple syrup, but Pete LOVES it—in a way that only native Quebecers and native Vermonters do. Because I love Pete and Pete loves maple syrup, I made these creamy cups of maple-y goodness.

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

½ cup maple syrup
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 ¾ cups half-and-half
½ tsp. ground ginger
dash of ground cloves
2 short cinnamon sticks
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 300°.

2. Add maple syrup, brown sugar and egg yolks to the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine.

3. Add half-and-half, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks and vanilla extract to a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.

4. Cook the half-and-half mixture until it reaches that critical pre-boiling phase where bubbles start to form around the edge.

5. Slowly add the half-and-half mixture to the maple syrup mixture, whisking constantly.

6. Pour everything back in the saucepan and reduce the temperature to medium.

7. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken (at least 2 minutes).

8. Remove from heat and (carefully) pluck the cinnamon sticks out of the mixture.

9. Divide the mixture (I suppose this would be the crème) evenly among 8 ramekins.

10. Put the ramekins in a 9 x 13 metal baking pan and add about an inch of hot water to the pan.

11. Bake for 1 hour (or more…), until the center loses most of its jiggle. (See note below.)

12. Cool completely at room temperature.

13. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

NOTE: They never stopped jiggling. I baked my little pots for 90 minutes and finally gave up. I suspect the excessive jiggle was due to my last minute substitution for the half-and-half: I used about ½ cup heavy cream and enough skim milk to reach 1 ¾ cups. They were still yummy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Broccoli-Basil Mac and Cheese

There was no way to make this look attractive. We tried...

This dish is kinda crazy and totally delicious. Like traditional mac and cheese, it certainly falls in the comfort food category, but it’s so much more complex (in a good way). You can actually taste the individual ingredients, but they go together really well. It’s hard to describe. Try it. You’ll like it.

(Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

1 delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
olive oil
bunch of basil leaves (a couple handfuls)
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 slices of hearty bread (we used Udi’s Gluten-Free Millett-Chia bread)
1 small head of broccoli, roughly chopped
4 tbsp. fat-free sour cream
1 ¾ cups shredded white cheddar cheese
1 ¾ cups shredded Gruyere cheese
1 package brown rice penne or macaroni (if you’re not gluten-free, go with whole wheat noodles)

1. Preheat oven to 400° and make sure you’ve got a rack set in the center.

2. Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the squash is golden brown.

3. Place bread on a baking sheet and put it in the oven for a couple minutes. The goal is to stale-ify (ie. dry out) the bread, not toast it.

4. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, cheddar and gruyere. Set aside.

5. Combine the now-stale bread, the broccoli, half the basil and a “glug” of olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until it’s a fine crumb mixture.

6. Transfer the crumb mixture to a bowl and set aside. Rinse the food processor.

7. Toss the rest of the basil and all of the grape tomatoes into the food processor. Pulse until it’s well-mixed.

8. Add the tomato-basil mixture to the cheese and sour cream mixture. Stir to combine.

9. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente. Drain (reserving a little pasta water, just in case).

10. Dump the pasta into a casserole dish. Add the squash and the cheese mixture. Stir it up until the cheese sauce coats the pasta and the squash is evenly distributed. (If you prefer a runnier cheese sauce, add the reserved pasta water.)

11. Top with the green breadcrumbs and bake until the breadcrumbs are crunchy, about 25 minutes. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Not Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster is an iconic American dessert invented in New Orleans in 1951. It’s a dramatic dessert—the kind that involves flames. This does not involve flames (or the alcohol required to create the flames). This is not Bananas Foster (even though that’s what Cooking Light calls it). It’s a super-easy, super-tasty caramelly banana dessert. If you’re looking for the real thing, go to the place it was invented: Brennan’s Restaurant. If you just want dessert, here:

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

2-4 bananas, sliced (and peeled, obviously)
6 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. (plus a wee bit more) orange juice
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
fat-free plain Greek yogurt

1. Combine brown sugar, orange juice and butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat and cook until the mixture begins to bubble, about 3 minutes.

2. Add the bananas to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the bananas start to get mushy (about 2 minutes).

3. Plop some Greek yogurt into a bowl. Top with the banana mixture and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Muffins with Raisins

My initial feelings on this recipe were mixed. Sweet potatoes? Yum! Sweet potatoes in muffin form? Enh. I wasn’t so sure about the whole vegetable-based baked goods concept…and then I remembered carrot cake. (How could I forget carrot cake?) Putting carrots in cake was a brilliant idea, therefore making muffins out of sweet potatoes must be equally ingenious. Fantastic logic, eh?

Well, it turns out that making muffins out of sweet potatoes resulted in something that had the taste and texture of a biscuit, but was shaped like a muffin. They were good, but a little dry and a little boring. So I added raisins and a bit of cinnamon and they were YUMMY! (So yummy that there’s no photographic proof of their existence. The photo above is of the original sweet potato muffins.)

(Adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe in Runner’s World)

2 ½ cups gluten-free all purpose flour
¾ cup organic sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. cinnamon (might add more next time)
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ cup melted unsalted butter*
¼ cup vegetable oil*
1 large sweet potato (cooked and mashed)
1 egg, beaten
½ cup fat-free buttermilk (or equivalent…we used skim milk with lemon juice, but plain yogurt might work as well)
¾ cup raisins

*Note: I would usually substitute applesauce for at least some of the butter and oil, but we were out of applesauce.

1. Preheat oven to 375° and grease a muffin tin.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix.

3. Add melted butter, oil, sweet potato, egg and buttermilk to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until combined.

4. Continue mixing as you gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweet potato mixture. Mix until just combined.

5. Add raisins and stir until they’re reasonably evenly distributed.

6. Pour batter into muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Celery Salad

We just made this for lunch. (Yes, working from home is awesome.) It was delicious with celery fresh from our CSA.

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

celery, washed and diced
walnuts, toasted and chopped
shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 tbsp. lemon juice

(Quantities of walnuts and Parm really depend on how much celery you have. We used 3 very small bunches of celery, about 2/3 cup of walnuts and about ½ cup of cheese.)

1. Combine all ingredients in bowl. Mix well. Serve.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Things I Learned: 10/25/11

-The Ancient Egyptians invented bowling

-Some dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia use conch shells to catch fish.

-Superior canal dehiscence syndrome, an inner ear disorder caused by a small hole in the bone covering part of the inner ear, causes every sound within the body to be amplified. (People with this disorder can hear their eyeballs move.)

-Wooly rhinos, which lived in what is now Tibet about 1 million years before the Ice Age, had large flat forward-leaning front horns that most likely acted as snow shovels.

-Niacin deficiency causes pellagra, a shriveling disease the Italians got from eating too much polenta (which is made from corn, which is deficient in niacin). Native Americans also ate a lot of corn, but they planted their corn with beans, which are loaded with niacin.

-Thomas Jefferson brought dried pasta to America.

-The model T was offered in colors until 1914 when Henry ford discovered that black paint dried faster.

-Fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than fleas that live on a cat.

-“Thriller” was originally titled “Starlight.”

-People’s tolerance for grossness (measured by their response to images of gross things like a man eating worms) is linked to their political views. People who were more disgusted by gross images tended to be more conservative. Study subjects who opposed gay marriage tended to exhibit the deepest levels of disgust for the images.

-Last year, 25% of the bras sold in intimacy boutiques were size G or larger.

-Dueling is legal in Paraguay (as long as both parties are registered blood donors).

-Personal drug use is not a criminal offense in Portugal.

-In Kentucky, it’s illegal for a human female to appear in a bathing suit on a highway unless she’s a) escorted by at least two police officers; b) armed with a club; c) lighter than 90 pounds or d) heavier than 200 pounds. A female horse can appear in a bathing suit on a highway without any of these silly restrictions.

-Shorter lower legs allow animals (modern mammals and Neanderthals) to maneuver over mountainous terrain more efficiently than those with longer lower legs.

-It’s illegal to plow a cotton field with an elephant in North Carolina.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Grilled Cheese Steaks

This really doesn’t need an introduction.

(Adapted from “Bobby Flay’s Grill It!”)

Grass-fed steak
2 tbsp. Olive oil plus more to brush on the steak before grilling
7 tbsp. unsalted butter (don’t freak, you won’t use it all)
3-4 cloves of garlic, roasted*, peeled and smushed
sliced gluten-free baguette (or French bread)
aged provolone cheese, sliced (you want equal numbers of cheese slices, bread slices, and steak slices)
3 large yellow onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Parsley Oil (optional)
We found the dish to be too oily with this, but the parsley did add a nice flavor. If you want to try it, combine the following:
¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
½ cup EVOO

*To roast garlic: Preheat oven to 300°. Place unpeeled garlic cloves on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and seal up the packets. Cook until the garlic is soft, 45 minutes to an hour.

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add the onions to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 35 to 40 minutes (until the onions are soft and caramelized).

3. Heat grill to high.

4. Brush both sides of the steak with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill 4-5 minutes (until golden brown and slightly charred), then flip and grill for 6-7 minutes.

5. Transfer steak to cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing it into thin strips.

6. In a small bowl, combine the remaining butter (5 tbsp.) with the roasted garlic.

7. Spread garlic butter on one side of each slice of bread.

8. Grill the bread, butter side down, until golden brown (1-2 minutes). Flip, then top each slice with a piece of cheese and grill until the cheese melts (30 seconds or so).

9. Plate the bread, top with caramelized onions and a slice of steak. (Drizzle with parsley oil if you so desire.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gluten-Free Baguette

All recipes posted on this blog undergo rigorous quality testing. If a dish lacks the awesomeness that we expect, it doesn’t get posted. No exceptions—except this one. This bread is very very good, but we think it could be better. We will better-ify it (sure, “improve” would be appropriate there, but I like better-ify) and then we will post the better-ified recipe. BUT for now, it is imperative that we share this recipe so you have an appropriate surface on which to serve the amazingly delicious cheese steaks we’ll be sharing tomorrow.

(from “125 Best Gluten-Free Bread Machine Recipes”)

2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
2 tsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups water
2 tsp. cider vinegar
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1. Combine the brown rice flour, potato starch, sugar, xanthan gum, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Mix well.

2. Add the water, cider vinegar and egg whites to the bread machine baking pan. Start the “Dough Cycle” and gradually add the dry ingredients to the bread machine baking pan.

3. Let the bread machine do its kneading thing, but as soon as it stops kneading, turn off the bread machine (the “Dough cycle” won’t be finished).

4. Remove the dough and split it into two lumps.

5. Get your hands wet and shape the lumps into baguettes and place the baguette-shaped lumps on a lightly greased, parchment-paper lined baking sheet that has been dusted with cornmeal.

6. Use a knife to make three to four diagonal slits (about ¼-inch deep) in each loaf.

7. Walk away. (Let the dough rise for an hour, preferably in a warm, draft-free place.)

8. Preheat oven to 425°.

9. Bake for 20-23 minutes. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

4-Ingredient Bars and a Prudish Carrot

Under normal conditions, I like easy recipes. When I only have a couple hours between finishing a half marathon and arriving at a baby shower to which I’ve promised to bring baked goods, I really like easy recipes. This one fit the bill for yesterday’s craziness.

(Adapted from Friesencold)

3 brown bananas, mashed
2 cups gluten-free oats
½ cup chopped dates (without pits)
½ cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9-inch springform pan (or a 9” x 9” pan).

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

3. Press mixture into pan.

4. Bake for 30 minutes.

5. Cool and then cut into bars.

A Prudish Carrot

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Green Bean and Quinoa Salad

Despite what everyone’s saying, summer is not over. We have three more weeks of it, dammit! To celebrate the fact that it’s still summer, we bring you this awesomely delicious salad, which just happens to taste like summer.

(Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen)

½ cup quinoa
1 lb. or so green beans, trimmed
½ cup or so sliced almonds, toasted
¼ cup EVOO
3 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1 clove garlic
handful of fresh basil leaves
zest from 1 lemon

1. Cook quinoa. (In a saucepan, combine quinoa with 1 cup of water. Cover. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and cook for about 15 minutes.)

2. Steam the green beans.

3. Combine EVOO, white balsamic, honey, garlic, basil and lemon zest in food processor and process into dressing-consistency.

4. Combine quinoa, green beans, almonds and dressing in a large bowl. Toss to combine.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Things I Learned: 8/25/11

I’m still learning things, but I’m changing the rules because:
1. It’s my project.

2. I can’t count (If you’ve trained with me, you know this) and therefore have no idea if I’ve actually learned enough things to account for the time between my last list and now.
3. As you all probably know, I have ADHD. Is it reasonable to ask an ADHD kid to restrict herself to learning a single new thing a day (or to ask her to remember to write down that single new thing)? Hell no.

So here’s some stuff I learned. Enjoy it.

-Multisport started in Mission Bay, CA where the San Diego Track Club started swimming before and after their run workouts.

-James Bond (the fictional one) is named after a real ornithologist. And he’s “007” because that was the number of the bus Ian Fleming took to the local bar.

-The dictionary definition of dork is: 1.) a dull, slow-witted or socially inept person; 2.) a penis.

-One theory of the origins of tennis scoring says that the scores were based on a clock face that was used on the court. Each point was worth a quarter of the clock face (15, 30, 45, 60). The first player to reach 60 won, but to make it so that a player would have to win by more than one point, they introduce “deuce,” changed the 45 to a 40 and awarded 10 points for each point after deuce.

-The origin of the term “love” for zero in tennis may come from the French term l’oeuf (the egg) or from the belief that players have “love for each other” at the start of the match when both scores are at zero.

-Potato chips were invented in Saratoga Springs, NY by a chef named George Crum, who sent the chips to a diner complaining that his French fries were too thick.

-The first cows brought to America landed at what is now Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park in South Berwick, ME.

-In MA, it’s illegal to frighten a pigeon.

-In Waterville, ME, it’s illegal to blow your nose in public.

-Potatoes come from Peru.

- Glenn Burke, an outfielder for the LA Dodgers, invented the high five in 1977. Burke was also the first Major League Baseball player to come out (after he retired in 1980).

-August is admit you’re happy month.

-Cigüeña means stork in Spanish.

-August 13 was national lefthanders day

-After the BP oil spill oil evaporated and ended up in clouds…and then it rained oil (or at least hydrocarbons).

-If a rat’s whisker is stimulated for 4 minutes following a stroke, the blood will seek alternate routes around the blockage, therefore preventing brain damage.

-El Paso, Texas and Antarctica were right next to each other before Pangaea broke apart.

-You can tell the age of freshwater mussels by counting the rings on their shells. (Confession: I may have known this.)

-Friday, August 26 is national dog day.

-Lager is fermented for longer and at lower temperatures than ale.

-Greater flamingos enhance their pink color using carotenoid pigments secreted by a preening gland on their butts.

-Flamingos have salt glands that enable them to excrete excess salt.

-Flamingos are filter feeders: They submerge their heads upside down, using their upper bills as ladles and their tongues as pistons that pump water (and food) into their bills and squirt water out.

-Flamingos stand on one leg to stay warm.

-Flamingos show “handedness.” When they curve their neck behind them (to stay warm), most curve to the right, but some (the left-neckers) curve to the left.

-Flamingo chicks are more likely to survive if they are surrounded by chicks born on the same day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Key Lime Pie-ish Fro Yo Sandwiches

(Adapted from Hungry Girl)

½ cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 ½ tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. lime juice
graham crackers (we used gluten-free graham crackers, which come in one flavor—graham—but the original recipe called for cinnamon graham crackers)

1. Combine the yogurt, sugar and lime juice in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

2. Cover and freeze for about 30 minutes.

3. Make sandwiches and freeze for 45 minutes or so, until they reach your desired firmness. (In my opinion, 1 hour in our freezer was too long.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gluten-Free Lemon-Raspberry Cake

This was Pete’s second birthday cake. Actually, he shared this cake with our friend Mike, hence the “69”—Mike turned 35 and Pete turned 34 so the only logical number to put on top of the cake was 69.

Anyway, the cake…WOW. This was one amazing cake. It reminded me of our wedding cake (from Cakes for Occasions), which was quite possibly the best cake I’ve ever had (and was not gluten-free).

For the cake:
½ cup sorghum flour
½ cup white rice flour
½ cup tapioca starch
½ cup potato starch
¾ tsp. xanthan gum
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. orange extract
½ cup fat-free sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease (lightly, with canola oil spray) and line two 9” cake pans.

2. Combine the four flours, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk.

3. Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

4. Lower the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs, on at a time, mixing thoroughly after adding each egg.

5. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and orange extract to the stand mixer. Beat in the dry ingredients and then add the sour cream. Beat until everything is combined.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the tops are light golden brown.

7. Let the cakes cool completely before assembling.

For the lemony center:
Lemon curd (click here for the recipe)

For the frosting:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
12 oz. light cream cheese
1 ½ cups icing sugar
¼ cup raspberry jam
¼ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. orange extract

Combine all ingredients in a stand mixture and beat until smooth.

To put it all together:
Smother the top of one cake with the lemon curd. Place the second cake on top and smother the whole delicious creation with the raspberry frosting.