Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Although I've never actually lived anywhere where a person follows up the fall's last apple-picking outing with a cup of steaming coffee and a sugary, fortifying apple cider doughnut for dunking, I've fantasized. Hell, I've never even lived anywhere where the leaves change. But, that doesn't mean I don't deserve an apple cider doughnut, right? Right.

After the success of these apple cider doughnut (holes) and this summer's old-fashioned doughnut (holes), I need to get a doughnut cutter. Feel free to make actual doughnuts, rather than holes, with these recipes. They are much more attractive to serve, and, well, better for the portion control. ;)

Before I give you the recipe, thanks to Deb at Smitten Kitchen for inspiration on making a reduction out of apple cider and for the tip on the apple cider glaze , and again thank the ladies at the Baking Beauties for giving me a basic dough to follow. Finally, this blog gave me some other ideas. My recipe is a play on all three recipes.

First, make an apple cider reduction. I used four cups of apple cider and boiled/simmered it down to 1/2 cup in about 35 minutes. I suggest taking extra time to reduce 5 cups to 1/2 cup, the flavor would be better.

Put in the fridge to cool. Next, mix these dry ingredients:

2 cups brown rice flour
*(I had to add more after mixing with wet ingredients. If your dough is too sticky to form into balls, add more)
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup white sugar (wish I had tried brown)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xantham gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Set aside. Beat together the wet ingredients:

1 egg
1/2 cup apple cider syrup from reduction
1 cup buttermilk (I make my own using 1 tablespoon of vinegar + milk to equal 1 cup)
2 tblsp of butter, melted

Mix all ingredients together. Add more flour if it is too sticky. I also let mine sit in the freezer for about 20 minutes, but if you are just going to use the 'ol scoop & roll to make doughnut holes, rather than cutting doughnuts this isn't really necessary.

While the dough gets its stickiness on in the freezer, mix 2 cups of powdered sugar with 4 tablespoons of apple cider. ALso, mix a whole bunch of sugar and cinnamon. That's right, these are glazed AND sugared.

Now, for the frying. I am ashamed to admit that I had to use SHORTENING and COCONUT OIL to fry these because I had nothing else on hand. Last time, I used canola oil + olive oil. Using a heat controlled electric griddle, I heated the oil to 350, about 3-5 inches deep. Start rolling small dough balls in your hands and dropping in. Turn every 30 seconds or so until deep golden brown. Set on a paper towel to control the grease, then lightly glaze and toss in sugar and cinnamon mixture.

ENJOY! This made about 30 or so doughnut holes? They are best the first day, so please share with friends.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shrimp Quesadillas with a Creamy Peachy Avocado Dipping Sauce

In a heraculean effort, I tried to move away from obsession with the fall flavor palate and make some food that actually fits the weather this week. Ok, one day of this week. The result was stellar, and features an exciting NEW kitchen appliance!

To make these quesadillas, you will need sharp white cheddar or gruyere, some shrimpies, white corn tortillas, peach salsa, plain yogurt, an avocado, and a yellow onion. Since I share this blog with my sissies, neither of whom will eat a shrimp, let me also suggest brussel sprouts (!) or some good ol' chicken in place of the crustaceans. Are shrimp crustaceans? I digress. Let's hope those kind folks at the National SCIENCE Foundation who are funding my education don't read this blog.

Caramelize the onions in a little olive oil and salt. Add pre-cooked shrimp towards the end. In the meantime, place 1/2 an avocado, some peach salsa, and some plain yogurt into the mixing cup of your brand-spankin'-new-couldn't-afford-it-but-bought-it IMMERSION BLENDER! Zomg. Everyone should own one of these. If you are already an owner, proceed by blending these yummo ingredients into a dipping sauce. If not, well, as recently as Sunday I would have thought mashing this with a fork was acceptable. Feel free to proceed that way too. :D But think about saving up for this. I got a red Kitchenaid one for $49...pricey but I have used it 3 times in 24 hours.

Place as many tortillas as you want on a baking sheet; set your oven to a low broil. Shred the cheese onto the tortillas, add the shrimpies and their onion compadres, grate more cheese, and top with a another tortilla. Broil until ready & serve with dipping sauce. This dip is also an excellent salad dressing -- I paired the whole meal with a massaged spinach & corn simple salad that paired well with the sauce.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

French Onion Cider Soup

Apples, onions, butter, cider, wine, broth, salt, pepper, crusty bread, gruyere. French Onion Cider Soup suitable for fancy guests or the most deserving guest of all, yourself. Marilyn at Simmer 'Till Done may once have been a pastry chef, but after this dish, she'll just be the goddess of good soup.

Guest Post: Potato/Kale/Butternut Mash

My life has had a lot more "Today I Didn't Cook" days than "Today I Cooked Days" lately - something I hope to remedy soon. But in the meantime, here's an email I just got from a friend in northern England:

"Oh my god, I just made this thing that I think you would really like (except I used bacon--but I'm sure you can find a way to make it without bacon but something else kind of salty & delicious). It was to use up the kale & the butternut squash in the vegbox.

Basically I mashed some potatoes, and stirred in some kale that I'd sauteed with onion, garlic & sage, and some chunks of cooked butternut squash, and some bacon. And some pepper & salt.

It's AMAZING!!! I'm in love with it. Maybe because I'm so hungry."

She notes that by "bacon," she means what the Brits call "back bacon" (known on this side of the pond as Canadian bacon), with the fat trimmed off.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yummy Steak Rub, Fried Potaters and Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters

The boyfriend (M) is in town, and for our date night we decided to cook a not entirely healthful, but delicious, meal together. Here was the result.

1) M bought us two small steaks and invented his own steak rub to grill them. It involved worcestershire sauce, fresh oregano, chopped garlic, bay leaves, and a seasoning salt that contained black pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and celery seeds to taste.

2) We then chopped up some potatoes into small, thin rounds and fried them in a frying pan with olive oil. Roomie 1 and I just bought some herb plants, so fresh rosemary was also added, along with the seasoning salt described above and salt and pepper to taste.

3) Since I know by now my sisters are quite concerned for my heart, it's ironic that the dessert was most likely the healthiest part of this meal. I bought pomegranates for fun today, and after reading through several dessert recipes online discovered that it pairs well with chocolate. I melted some dark chocolate chips in a saucepan, then transferred it to a bowl. Here I mixed in the pomegranate arils. The mixture clumped quite nicely, so I placed parchment paper on a baking sheet and used a fork to transfer the clusters to it. I then placed them in the freezer until the chocolate hardened. The pomegranate was a juicy surprise nestled within the bittersweet chocolate.

This meat-and-potatoes kinda gal was quite content with the combination of this meal, her boyfriend, Jack Johnson, fireworks from the football game and her balcony on a Phoenix October night.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Adapted from Karina's Banana Cookie recipe. I changed the flours used and added liquid to make a softer, fluffier cookie (she says hers is crisp on the outside, so if you prefer that to a moist & chewy cookie, go for hers). I hate nuts in cookies, so I subbed for chocolate! :D These are obviously gluten free, and could easily be made vegan by substituting soy or almond milk for the 2 tablespoons of regular milk, using egg replacers instead of eggs, and opting out of the chocolate chips or finding a vegan version of those, as well.

Stir together:

1/2 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons milk (if you are making these vegan, almond or soy would be fine)
2 eggs
2 bananas, previously mashed into a puree (I defrosted 2 overripe frozen bananas, they were easy to mash with a fork)
1/2 - 2/3 cup of applesauce, depending on how moist you want your cookies to be!

Add 1 cup of gluten free oats, set aside to soften.

In a seperate bowl, whisk together:

1 1/3 cup of brown rice flour
2/3 cup of coconut flour
1/3 cup of tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup of chocolate chips (could use vegan version if you wish)

Slowly mix wet and dry ingredients; chill dough for 1 hour.

Before the hour is up, preheat oven to 375.

Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I made big cookies, and still got 30 or so! Cook for about 20 minutes, then enjoy with some hot tea.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Carrots and Corn and Lentils Oh My!

P and I spent last Sunday in Flagstaff, enjoying homey lunch places with exposed brick walls, pumpkin patches, beautiful canyons with Hopi cave dwellings, and oh yes Reeses peanut butter cup blizzards and Sunday football on a car radio.

Edit that. P tried to enjoy those things while I cried -- yes, in public -- on and off for Laramie. (Also a town that embraces homey lunch places, exposed brick walls, and chilly fall days. Plus I ate a lot of ice cream there.)

Needless to say, I needed some bolstering upon my return to Phoenix. So, while P went out on a run that led to him coming down with a violent flu, I innocently cooked red lentils in the rice cooker, steaming carrots and garlic in my handy-dandy steamer bowl thing that sits on top of the rice cooker, and went grocery shopping.

This worked SO well and was SO easy. I used 1 cup of lentils and 2 cups of water, but added a bit of water towards the end. On top I steamed about 5 carrots, chopped, and 5 cloves of garlic. At the store, I bought a box of some "natural" brand's creamed corn soup. Back home, I simmered the soup, added the lentils, carrots, and garlic, and stirred in several healthy teaspoons of curry powder and a pinch of sea salt.

The perfect quick, warm, ultra nutritious soup. Especially perfect if you are coming off a long day of sadness and headed into a long night of watching someone else have the stomach flu. I think the nutrients in this soup may have saved me from getting sick. That or the flu shot. Wash your hands, get your flu shot, and eat well people!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

...Caramel Apple Shortbread Crisp, or The Best Thing Since Apple Pie

Or maybe you don't have to wait that long. :)

This apple crisp is inspired and modified from this recipe from the New York times.

To start, the apples:

Chop up god-knows-how-many-freakin-apples (and yes, that is our technical term) into to super thin slices-enough to fill a wok to the brim. These will eventually release about a third of their volume. Put them in the wok over medium heat. Gradually add 2 cups of sugar as you cook, and add two tablespoons of butter when the apples begin to release their juices. Turn upon occasion, and cook until transparent and caramelized.

While cooking:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and coat a ten-inch square pan with butter.

The crust:
We crumbled store-bought gluten-free pecan shortbread cookies into a bowl. While I'm sure glutinous cookies would also do the trick, the gf ones seemed to crumble like magic. We then added brown sugar (small amounts) and butter. K showed me her expertise on making a coffee-cake like topping: Cut a half cup of butter into the sugar/shortbread, then break with hands into pea-sized amounts. "Toss" with sugar/shortbread and cut with flour until crumbly. Put in fridge until apples are finished.

To finish:
When apples are finished place into pan with crumble on top (and on bottom, too, if you like). Place in oven until top is browned, add cinnamon if desired. The result? Prepare your sweet tooth for a christmasy, crumbly taste meant to be shared with favorites. :)

Quinoa Cakes, Refried Roasted Squash and Canneli Beans, and an Apple Shortbread Crisp

Armed with hard cider and country music, I invited two favorites into my kitchen for some cooking remniscent of home on the windy range. We shared our evening with cakes of corn stuffed quinoa popping on the skillet, squash roasting in the oven, clicking keyboards on laptops, and oh-you-better-believe-it plans for an apple shortbread crip.

We were inspired to make the quinoa cakes from this menu at Herivoracious. I used more quinoa than he called for, and added 1/2 can of sweet corn kernels to the "dough". One of my partners in cooking is a genius of all types, but particuarly of the spice type. Because of her our cakes made space for the flavah of paprika, chili powder, sage, and salt. There was some basic veggie roastin', but the other highlight was really a roasted-creamed butternut squash with canneli beans that we tenderized with rubbed sage, butter, sea salt, and some soft swiss.

The apple shortbread crisp, well, for that you'll have to wait awhile.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Antelope Steaks, Roasted Squash with Corn Pudding, and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

We had some of our favorite people over for dinner last night, and decided to break out the first of the antelope from P's successful hunt two weekends ago. The first game meat of the year clamors for a proper seasonal pairing, so I roasted acorn squash halves and filled them with corn pudding, following this recipe from 101 cookbooks.

The squash was delicious, but next time I would use fewer egg whites and add some polenta to the pudding recipe. The antelope, though, was tender and juicy, tasted like the best Wyoming has to offer. For those of you who need some helping dealing with game, here are our suggestions:

1) Shoot a young guy (or girl). They taste better. Especially if they are fat. I also believe they taste better if they are from Wyoming.
2) Marinade the steaks in soy sauce and some type of oil, and rub with salt and pepper.
3) Ok, I admit that's all I know. The rest involved fire, a charcoal grill, and a vigiliant eye (game meat overcooks easily because it is so lean). P had plenty of help from his niece and nephew, so I stayed out of the way.

What's that? You don't want to talk about hunting on National Vegetarian Day? How about pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, then? I am trying to use up a surplus of gluten free mixes, so I pulled a Bob's Red Mill Chocolate Chip Cookie mix out for the kids. While I love Bob's Red Mill in general, this particular mix always makes for a dry cookie. To fix that, I added in applesauce and coconut flour, mixing until it was nice and sticky like a proper cookie batter. Then, I added pumpkin pie spices. The result was a lovely plate full of very soft and chewy cookies.

The lessons? No one has to eat dry cookies, antelope is yummy, and it's all better with friends.