nutritious and delicious

Thanksgiving break marked the end of our first term of classes.  5 labs down, 10 to go. First up after turkey day: Nutrition and Sensory Analysis. The timing couldn’t have been better, huh? I was really looking forward to this class–I knew the instructor and knew we had very similar views on food.

What a new term also means is new classmates.  A group of about 8 of us “big kids” from our first session got together and all registered for the same classes, which meant about 12 new faces.  The first couple weeks were a little rough. I quickly named a group member “Wonder Boy,” and not as a term of endearment. We’ve all settled in though, and get along pretty well.  But it is VERY exciting to see old friendly faces in the halls.

So let’s get to the good stuff–the food! Each day before service we went down the whole line and each group had to explain why each of their dishes were “nutritious and delicious.”  Not surprisingly, i LOVED all the food in this class. A fellow health nut and I talked so excitedly about how much better we felt after class each day–we had more energy, were in better moods,  and life just seemed a little brighter.  After the land of cream sauces and mushy meat, it was like discovering the promised land.

upper left: shrimp spring rolls with rice noodles and fresh mint
lower left: banana nut bread (barf)
center: buckwheat pancakes! deeeeelicious
upper right: vegan tofu chocolate pudding with raspberry coulis. deeeeesgusting.
(i try to like tofu. i really do. but i just don’t. i don’t hate it like i hate bananas, so that’s something)
lower right: spaghetti squash with tempeh bolognese. tempeh is another meat substitute made of fermented soy beans. infinitely better than tofu.

 here’s a couple shots of the full lot of daily production (well, actually each of these are only about half of it):

two of my accomplishments: brocco-flower cheddar soup and smoothies (blueberry-banana and strawberry-raspberry-peach)

   

hands-down one of my favorite things i’ve made to date: falafel!

wonder boy made the tzatziki. took him approximately 2 hours.

 and the crowning glory after two weeks of very little meat, cheese, or fat:

bacon cheddar sliders with caramelized onions and chipotle mayo on fresh-baked rolls. the southern carnivorous males were in HEAVEN.

For our final, we had to take a recipe and modify it to pretty strict nutritional requirements.  I took a sautéed salmon with a beurre rouge sauce (read: 2 sticks of butter with some red wine) and turned it into:

Ancho Chile Salmon with Clementine Reduction

(after being tasted and graded. A+!)

I marinated the salmon in fresh clementine juice, clementine zest, ancho chile powder, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. 30 minutes later, they got baked at 375 until cooked through, about 12 minutes.  The brown sugar and the sugars in the juice caramelize on the outside of the fish, and the higher heat allow it to cook quickly and not dry out. Meanwhile, I reduced the exact same mixture as the marinade over medium heat until slightly syrupy. Drizzle that over the fish, top it with some toasted panko breadcrumbs and BAM (he’s a jwu alumnus, ps)!

Nutritious and delicious.

get on it.

Considering my diet for the last month has been exclusively PB&J, granola bars, string cheese, and hard-boiled eggs, it’s hard to believe 1. that I am not, in fact, a 6-year-old and 2. that I decided to whip up something so supremely…healthy.

Oatmeal Wheat Germ Soda Bread!

not my picture...but strikingly close to what mine actually looked like!

My inspiration? A large bag of unused wheat germ, and a lack of patience for yeasty business.

I adapted a regular Irish Soda Bread recipe that optioned wheat germ, and added some extra goodness. I think my baking soda had seen fresher days since my loaf didn’t get a whole lot of “lift,” but the taste was spot-on. It’s not sweet like some Irish soda breads, but does get some sweet-ish hints from the oats and the almonds.  Nice, hearty, and filling, and with none of those unpronounceable ingredients like grocery store bread. I’ve been enjoying it toasted with cherry preserves or honey all week.

Oh and it took 15 minutes to throw together.  Get on it.

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Oatmeal Wheat Germ Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 T. and 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup milk (i use non-fat)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3/4 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds (toasted too, if you wish)
  • 3/4 c. quick oats
  • 1 T. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl or measuring pitcher, combine the vinegar and milk, whisking until just combined and slightly thickened. Set aside for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, salt, seeds, and oats, mixing until well combined.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Combine the milk mixture with the olive oil and pour this into the well.
  5. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, pull the flour from the sides of the bowl into the well, folding in the dry mixture with the wet until forming a soft dough.
  6. Press the dough into the shape of a round, using the bowl as a guide, and place on the prepared baking sheet. With a sharp, dry knife, make an “x” in the top of the round that extends almost to the edges.
  7. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

mass appeal.

It’s pumpkin season! Wahoo!! Oh wait, you’ve been hearing about nothing but pumpkin muffins, pumpkin lattes, and pumpkin pies for the last three weeks?  Well strap in because the pumpkin express has barely hit cruising speed.

This was pumpkin treat number #3 baked in a single day a couple weeks ago ( treat #1 and treat #2 here) and probably my favorite. No, the blondies. No, the granola. Yea definitely the granola. But, I realize that not everyone is the granola-type (ahem, manfriend) so this right here is something that will appeal to the masses. And by “appeal” I mean “disappear from your office kitchen in record time.”

Streusel-topped Pumpkin Bread

tasty kitchen

By: food for my family

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cups Butter, Softened
  • 3/4 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 cups Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 4 whole Eggs
  • 2 cups Pumpkin Puree
  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoons Allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoons Grated Nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoons Cardamom
  • 1/2 cups Buttermilk

_____

  • FOR THE STREUSEL TOPPING:
  • 1/4 cups Butter, Softened
  • 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cups Oatmeal
  • 1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed
  • 1/4 cups Chopped Pecans (optional) (not)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease and flour the bottom of two 8 loaf pans. To make the topping, mix together all the topping ingredients using a fork or pastry cutter until combined thoroughly.
  2. In a large bowl or mixer, cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and mix until incorporated. Stir in pumpkin puree.
  3. In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cardamom. Whisk together until no lumps remain. Add half of the flour mix to the pumpkin mix, blending well. Beat in buttermilk. Add remaining flour mix and beat lightly until smooth.
  4. Pour batter evenly into the two prepared 8 pans. Cover each with half of the topping mix. Bake at 350 F for 70-80 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Slice and enjoy.

p.s. i promise to get back to things not involving mass quantities of butter and sugar…eventually.

meatless monday: fresh bread!

[ok this isn’t a meatless meal, per se, but a starting the week off with a fresh loaf of bread yields endless possibilities!]So in addition to using pumpkin in every way possible, I had another goal for last weekend’s baking extravaganza: conquer my fear of yeasted things. And in the informal survey I conducted (mostly via gchat), I found that most other people are afraid of such things as well. 

Well, I’m here to report that 1. i survived and 2. while i’m in no way any way proficient in rising dough, my results seemed pretty acceptable.

Feat numero uno: Fresh Bread. Created COMPLETELY by hand. Literally. Not even a whisk touched the raw flour. And it looks pretty good, right?  So basically all you do is mix it all together, let it sit, smoosh it around, let it sit, put it in the oven, and yer done.  Easy peasey, right? Sort of. 

The most important ingredients in this recipe are time and patience. Two things I don’t usually have much of. But, with some planning, it all came out!

Some people whip this up loaf after loaf, almost daily. Seriously? I can’t even remember to water a plant every day. But this bread is quite tasty. And, I recommend conquering it if only so you too can experience the immense satisfaction of  conquering a fear. Or jump out a plane, if that’s your thing. 

Almost No-knead Rustic Bread

Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose, unbleached flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  • 1/4 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs water, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs mild flavored lager (code word for cheap beer)
  • 1 tbs white vinegar

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, yeast and salt and whisk them together. In a large measuring container, combine the water, vinegar and beer and whisk them together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold them together with a sturdy spatula until a shaggy dough ball is formed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I used a shower cap I reserve for all my baking needs) and let it sit on the counter at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours. The longer it sits, the more richer flavor the dough will yield.
  2. After the rest period, knead the dough 10 to 15 times (you can do this by hand or with your stand mixer).
  3. Once the dough is ready, place a 12 by 18 inch sheet of parchment paper (sprayed with cooking spray) in a 10 inch skillet. Place the dough in the parchment paper lined skillet and cover again with plastic wrap (or your handy shower cap) and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours.
  4. minutes before you’re ready to bake the bread, place an oven rack at the lowest position. Place a 6 to 8 inch quart Dutch oven with its lid on the rack and heat oven to 500 degrees.
  5. When the dough has fully risen, lightly flour the top of it and make a 6 inch long, 1/2 inch deep slit along the top. Using oven mitts, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid. Pick up the dough from the skillet by the parchment paper and carefully lower it into the Dutch oven. Let any excess paper hang over the edge of the Dutch oven. Put the lid back on the pot and place it in the oven.
  6. Reduce the temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid from the pot and continue baking the bread until it is golden brown and an instant read thermometer reads 210 when pushed into the center.
  7. Remove the bread from the pot by the parchment paper and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 2 hours (or until you can’t take it anymore).

well butter my biscuit!

Full Disclosure: I am a Northerner.  I call soda “pop.”  I know how to drive in snow.  I’d never seen a collard green until, oh, 3 years ago. Are these biscuits southern? I have absolutely no idea. Are they delicious? Are they delicious?! Does the NBC Olympic anthem make me giggle with joy each time it plays? (Yes. The answer is a resounding yes.)

These are insanely easy, and when you bite into one fresh out of the oven with a little pat of butter melting on top, they are down right transcendent.  I only made a half-recipe because that was all the cream I had. And I was not happy about it.

Cream Biscuits
Adapted  by Smitten Kitchen from James Beard’s American Cookery

Made about 10 biscuits, perhaps a dozen if I had been stricter about the height and scrap-usage

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Melt butter in a small pot or microwave dish, and set aside.
  • Sift two cups flour, the baking powder, salt and (if using) sugar into a large bowl.

  • Fold in 1 1/4 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little. (I ended up using two additional tablespoons, or half the unused cream.)

  • Turn dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball and, using your hands, press it to a thickness of about 3/4 inch.

  • Cut into rounds, 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Gather dough scraps and continue to make rounds. Dip the top of each round in melted butter and arrange on the baking sheet.

i brushed the tops with butter using a pastry brush. it was early, i foresaw bad things happening if i tried to "lightly dip" a floppy piece of dough.

  • Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or flash freeze for future use. [Biscuits can be baked straight from the freezer, and additional few minutes baking time will be needed, usually around 3 to 5.]

flash freeze i will! perfect for a weekday morning.

golden

brown

AND DOWNRIGHT DELICIOUS. (yes that's honey delicately dripping off the edge. you can have this bliss too. do it. just do it.)

muses and slaves…welcome to ancient rome.

Saturday morning, inspiration struck. Recently, Manfriend’s friend…let’s call him the Shoeless Brit…graciously bestowed upon me his mother’s unwanted bread machine. I had made (I use that term loosely, the machine really did the heavy lifting) a great loaf of french bread, but it was on its last legs. No use crying over stale bread–and I had milk! Cream, rather, from the cauliflower soup.  A match made in heaven. French toast was a must!  30 seconds on the interwebs later, we were off and running.

my muse

and its accomplice

This was a little more involved than your traditional french toast..you dip, drain, fry, and bake.  In my opinion, it’s totally worth it.  And you know Alton’s poor (slash–insanely lucky) kitchen assistants tested 8,000 recipe variations to find the best. This meal is in honor of them.

French Toast
from Alton Brown
(and his kitchen slaves)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Method

  • In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

everybody into the pool!

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.

mmmm hands down one of my best foodie pics to date. i RULE.

  • Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices.

why are oven shots so difficult? Oh maybe because i'm crouched over balancing on my toes.

  • Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

I served mine with the fruit of the gods: BACON.

In the spirit of the Food Network, this was YUM-O.  I made the full recipe of dipping liquid for 8 slices, but my 6 soaked it alllll up.  And these reheated like a dream in a 375 oven yesterday morning.

zucchini is my drug of choice.

I made this once a few months ago, and one bite in my boss proclaimed “this is my crack.” Ever since, I get a request for it..mmm once a week. The first time it came out dense, more like a pound cake. I had halved the recipe and subsequently eyeballed the 1/8th teaspoon of baking power which probably resulted in the denser bread. I also added 2 large handfuls of chocolate chunks, instead of the small handful of mini chocolate chips that went in this time.  I like a more respectable ratio of zucchini to chocolate, call me crazy.
Bottom line: this stuff IS like crack. Light and fluffy, not to sweet, and makes you feel reallllll good inside.

zucchini (crack) bread
from pete bakes!

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups zucchini, peeled, seeded and grated
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups flour

Method

1. beat eggs, add grated zucchini, set aside.

2. beat sugar and butter, add vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour. mix well. add the flour mix to the egg/zucchini mix.

i took the liberty of adding a small handful of mini chocolate chips.

3. pour into greased and floured loaf pans and bake at 350F for 1 hour.

BEFORE

AFTER (one day when i have a real computer you will get side-by-side comparisons)