Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Green Chili Souffle

Kate and I raided our mom's large bag of cleaned, individually wrapped, frozen Hatch green chilis (<-- yes, she is that organized and foresightful) to make this great-smelling breakfast on Christmas morning.  In the process, we also cleaned out (/raided) her recipe and cookbook drawer.  Kate nabbed a southwestern cookbook that suggested dumplings made of tamale dough - brilliant, and just happens to be gluten free.  I got some high altitude bread books that might help me with my serial baking failures in the Mile High City.   Happy Holidays!

8 eggs (we used 6, I'd go to 8 or even 10 for more eggy layers)

Block of good cheddar, grated

6-8 green chilis, cleaned

Salt & pepper

Separate eggs.  Beat whites until stiff.  Whisk yolks till smooth and season with S&P; fold into whites as gently as possible. 

Layer egg mixture, chilis, and cheese in a greased 9x13 baking dish, ending w/a layer of eggs so cheese doesn't get crispy.  Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, being careful not to overbake.  Serve with avos, salsa, olives, plain yogurt, etc. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

DIY Gingerbread Latté Syrup

After our success with the homemade pumpkin spice latté syrup, my roommates and I in accordance with the change in season moved on to a search for the perfect gingerbread latté syrup.  The batch I made at my apartment left something to be wanting however, as it took several spoonfuls to create the desired taste.    I'm now visiting our Dad's Alaska home for Christmas, where an espresso machine also resides.  I decided that gingerbread lattés will be most necessary for the Santa frenzy that will occur on Christmas Day morning, so in the midst of making this and this pie, I decided to google some more recipes and experiment.  Really, making these syrups is just about finding the right spices to add to a basic simple syrup, and I think what made the difference for the gingerbread syrup was the addition of molasses. Here is what I came up with, with which I am quite pleased.

1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups brown sugar or Splenda brown sugar blend
1/2 cup molasses
3 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons cinnamon,
Nutmeg and ground cloves to taste

Combine water, sugar, molasses and spices in a small saucepan over medium heat.  I continually played with the spices, and you may want to add more than I have here- I would recommend going heavy on the spices.   Simmer them together until it thickens into what looks like a syrup.  Pour into a mason jar to keep.

For latté making, use 1 shot espresso or 2 ounces hot coffee, 2 tablespoons syrup to 2/3 cups steamed milk. Add syrup to taste, if desired.  Top with homemade whipped cream and nutmeg, and bid 4 dollar lattés adieu.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Cookies

…. lots…. and… lots of holiday cookies (GF readers, avert your eyes! Except from the peanut butter kiss cookies!).  

We had a proper holiday party with lots of hot drinks and santa hats and cheeses and gals in red dresses, and I went a bit overboard with the cookies.  It just didn’t seem right to have lemon cookies without peppermint cookies, or crinkles without peanut butter kisses (which are really just the amazing go-to peanut butter cookies Kate makes all the time).  Or not to have gingerbread, even after making all of the above plus Deb’s to-die-for toffee cookies.  Making too many cookies seems like an unlikely source of regret, anyway.

A few words about the above.  To make perfect striped candycane cookies:  after twisting together your little rolled-out pieces of red and white dough, roll the resulting twist until it's one smooth piece.  I recommend making the batter in 2 batches and adding the red food coloring to the wet ingredients of one batch, rather than trying to color half the completed dough, which involves overhandling it and dying your hands.  I tried rolling some of the cookies in crushed candycanes both before and after baking, but thought it just made them less pretty. Finally, I like almond extract to complement the peppermint even better than vanilla.

I wasn’t satisfied w/the crinkle recipe I used.  I wish I had put some cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne in the dough, and I think they needed to be more soft & fudgey and less chewy.  I overbaked the peanut butter kiss cookies a bit and wish I had rolled the balls of dough in sugar before baking, but people still <3ed them. 

The lemon cookies and, of course, Deb’s toffee cookies are perfection, and the high-altitude gingerbread recipe linked above is fantastic.  I used pureed ginger in a tube, and used a liiiiitle more than the recipe called for, as well as more cloves than indicated.  Good blackstrap molasses definitely helped.  Finally, I was good (for once) about not overbaking – 9 minutes did it for me – and suspect that made all the difference.  The quantities in the recipe are in weight, so if you need them in volume, it’s 1c sugar and 4c flour.  

Oh, and for the toffee cookies - don't worry if you don't have a double boiler / bain marie - melting the butter and then adding the chocolate over low heat while stirring furiously does just fine.  

Oh, and this pumpkin chocolate bread is freaking fantastic, with cloves added to the spices and about twice as many chocolate chips as called for.  (And no walnuts, to me, that would ruin the texture). 

Happy holidays!!

Simple White Bean Soup

Easy, peasy, one-two-threesy.  

4 cups dried white beans (I used limas)
1 large white onion
1 head garlic
1 cup milk
8 cups (?) water
2 tsp bullion (optional)
2 sprigs sage leaves & twice as many basil leaves, fresh or dried
salt & pepper

Soak your beans overnight.  Then put beans, roughly chopped onion, peeled garlic cloves, sage, basil, and water in your soup pot.  (8 cups’ water is an approximation – I think I started w/about that much, but had to add more when it boiled down.  You just want to generously cover the beans.)  Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 2 hours. 

Once the beans are soft, blend with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender (then return to the pot).  After blending, add milk, bullion if desired, and salt & pepper to taste. 

Served with shredded parmesan and homemade garlic croutons.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Basil Baked Eggs

Three things of note this morning. First, it is not yet 8:00am and I have already baked a gingerbread cake, made maple-whipped cream, and made myself a delightful breakfast of eggs, baked with loads of basil, chopped tomatoes, and torn spinach. Second, I have hated eggs for my whole life, a hatred that was intensified when I had to eat chemical-laced rubbery cold hospital eggs not once, not twice, not even thrice, but four times when I was very ill seven (seven?!!) years ago. (This was part of the months of trying to figure out what was wrong with me before I was diagnosed with Celiac Sprue.)

P's scrambled eggs have overcome my bad hospital-egg memories, and now? I love eggs. For me, the key is that they have to be piping hot and have tons of herby, cheesy flavor.

Third, I should be writing my dissertation pre-proposal. So, without further delay:

Basil Baked Eggs

serves one

2 mini-ramekins (or 1 serving size equivalent baking dish/ramekin)
2 large eggs
1 tsp butter
2 T milk
1/2 tomato, chopped
handful spinach, torn or thinly chopped
Fresh basil (or the tube squeezy basil if you are somewhere with a growing season shorter than 100 days)
Grated gruyere or sharp white cheddar cheese
Sea Salt
Cracked Pepper

Preheat oven to 325. Divide the butter and milk and place in the bottom of the mini-ramekins. Add torn basil or basil from the squeezy tube (or pesto!). Place in oven. Break 2 eggs and mix well with fork. Add a generous amount of salt, pepper, grated cheese, chopped tomatoes and torn spinach, and more basil.

After a few minutes, pull the ramekins out. Pour the eggs into them. Place back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add a dusting of grated cheese and turn your oven to a low broil. Broil for another 5-10 minutes (depending on your oven). Check that the eggs are firm enough for your taste, pull out, and enjoy! Good with toast or, for brunch or lunch, with salad.