Monthly Archives: May 2012

Karla’s Homemade Granola

I’ve finally perfected a granola with help from Alan and Amy. It’s crunchy, nutty, not-too-sweet, and I amped up the spices to give it tons of flavor! I put dried blueberries, almonds, cashews, and walnuts in… but you can really put anything you want or leave out nuts all-together for a more simple version. Try these other combinations with this same basic recipe (take out blueberries) for a bit of variety…

-Tropical Summer Granola with coconut, dried pineapple, dates, almonds, and walnuts

-Fall Pumpkin Granola with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, pecans, and raisins

-Peanut Butter Honey Granola with peanuts, peanut butter, dates and honey

-Trail Mix Granola with walnuts, cranberries, chocolate chips,

-Dark Chocolate Raspberry granola with coconut, sunflower seeds, dark chocolate, sliced almonds, and freeze-dried raspberries

Other Add-ins: flaxseed meal, seeds, nuts, any dried fruit you can think of

Karla’s Granola

adapted from Alan’s Great Granola

[Preheat oven to 325 degrees]

1. Measure out…

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup honey

2. Add oil first to small warming pot, and then honey. Warm on low until bubbling gently.

3. Meanwhile, measure and put into a larger mixing bowl….

3 1/2 cups organic oatmeal

1/2 cup pumpkin or pepitas seeds (if using)

1+ tsp cinnamon (“+” to taste for all 3 spices)

1/2+ tsp nutmeg

1/2+ tsp ground allspice (or 1/4 tsp cloves), ground cardamom is great too!

1/4 tsp coarse salt (kosher)

4. Thoroughly mix in the warmed oil/honey and add 1 tsp vanilla extract….

5. Put into large cookie sheets or baking pans (w/ 1/2” or higher edges), first lined w/ reusable parchment paper or tin foil

6. Cook for 20 min at 325F

7. Remove pans and mix contents gently to prevent localized overcooking. Spread your nuts lightly across the surface of the above pans. i.e. whole or lightly chopped unroasted walnuts, cashews, and/or sliced almonds.

8. Switch positions of pan or pans, if doubling, to ensure even cooking

9. Cook additional 15- 20 min at 325F until oats are a golden brown and nuts are toasted and fragrant. If using sesame seeds, add towards the end to lightly toast

10. Remove from oven, mix in your dried fruit or coconut

11. Let cool completely (then you can add chocolate)

12. Store in an airtight container!

Your home will never smell better. Spoon on top of yogurt, sprinkle on ice cream, pour milk on top, or mix into a smoothie (try it)! It’s also great as a healthy snack on-the-go! Happy munching.

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Basque Cake

For once, I’m going to post about a recipe I haven’t made. We’ve been going out to dinner a lot/ making VERY simple meals (read pasta+red sauce+giardiniera or bagel egg sandwiches) since this is a very busy time here!

Sad news: Andy and Raisa are moving to Portand, OR! Yes, sadly, they’ll be moving in just a couple of weeks. This weekend was Andy’s birthday and really Raisa’s last free weekend in Chicago, so we went out to dinner, the four of us, to celebrate.

We went to an awesome restaurant in Chicago called the Bristol: (see here!) and of course, since we were celebrating, we had desert.

The first desert was a mini rhubarb pie, which was great, but the second desert really blew us away!

This is a basque cake. I didn’t know about this particular kind of cake before we had this one, but it is filled with some pastry cream, which just kind of melts into the cake batter to make the middle of the cake wonderfully moist and rich. This one was served with fresh strawberries, champagne sabayon, brown stuff that was not chocolate, and a pink ice cream that I think might have been grapefruit? I don’t remember. Anyways, it was AMAZING.

I found this recipe for Basque cake that looks pretty good. It’s a little time consuming, but if this tastes at all like what we had at the Bristol, it’s SO worth it. (It looks exactly the same on the inside)

Basque Cake from Jeff’s Baking Blog

(Just go to the link. He has lots of pictures, and I think you’ll need them!)

Happy Birthday, Karla! I hope you have a great day!

L

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French Island Supper

Last night I made MOOSE hamburgers, thanks to Dennis’s friend whose dad was hunting in Alaska recently! I just had to share that because it was a new food experience… and I always love trying something new. But on to other things, I went to Vashon Island this weekend to visit Alan and Amy. Originally, I was just planning to have dinner with them, but I ended up staying overnight and spending the following day with them going to yoga, the saturday farmer’s market, the bookstore, helping out with some garden work, and taking in some sun on their deck overlooking the Olympic mountains and the bay. It was sublime. Friday evening we celebrated my birthday by making a French supper: summer chicken, chocolate mousse, and a viognier (french white) made by their friend and winemaker who lives just down the road. The recipes are below along with some pictures from the Island. What a life!

 

The view from the porch on Vashon Island, WA

Summer Chicken (a la Francaise)

1 whole chicken

Bunch of fresh basil, washed with stems on

6-8 cups Chicken broth

5 Red or fingerling potatoes, whole or halved

Bunch of Green beans

Bunch of Carrrots, cut into chunks

Fresh parsley

4 tbsp Butter

4 tbsp All purpose flour

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1/4 cup creme fraiche

Salt & Pepper

Cook: Heat chicken broth in a large pot to to immerse chicken in, but not to cover. Stuff fresh basil in the bird, place chicken in pot (broth will not cover), and boil for about 50 min-1 hour or until chicken is fully cooked. Meanwhile, blanch vegetables in boiling salted water: 20 min for potatoes, 12 min for carrots, and 7 min for green beans. Do not overcook. Set aside. When chicken is done, set to rest on cutting board and put broth in a microwavable cup, skimming of any fat with a large spoon. Take basil out of bird and chop coarsely.

Sauce: Heat 2 tbsp butter in a small saucepan until melted. Add flour and stir without browning for a minute. Meanwhile, heat chicken broth in microwave for 2 minutes (will be very hot!) and add to saucepan slowly, whisking vigorously. Whisk while roux simmers for a minute. Add dijon, creme fraiche, the chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste. Mixture should reduce into a thick sauce. Pour into a serving pitcher or gravy boat.

Prepare: Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large frying pan and saute vegetables with fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Slice chicken and arrange pieces on a large platter. Add vegetables to platter with more fresh parsley. Pour some sauce on chicken and serve the rest on the side for people to pour themselves. Serve with crisp white wine. See dessert suggestion below.

Bottles of Viognier, french white wine, made locally from a friend

A neighbor’s chicken coup (best eggs I’ve ever had!)

Chocolate Grand Marnier Mousse with Berries

1 cup bittersweet chocolate (chocolate chips work great)

4 eggs, separated

1 tsp sugar

2/3 cup whipping cream

4 tbsp espresso, cold (brings out chocolate flavor)

2 tbsp Grand Marnier

Whipped cream, cocoa nibs, mint, & fresh raspberries for garnish

1. Melt chocolate with a bit of butter in a double boiler (or rest a large glass bowl over a small pot with a small amount of boiling water) and stir. When melted, set aside.

2. Whisk egg yolks with sugar in a medium bowl until creamy and has a ribbon effect. Add chocolate, espresso and Grand Marnier to bowl.

3. Whip cream in a chilled metal bowl until stiff peaks form (but do not over-whip). Gently fold cream into chocolate mixture with a spatula.

4. Whip egg whites until they become stiff and form peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture until mixture is uniform but still frothy.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours, 4 hours for individual portioned cups. Place in bowls and garnish with whipped cream, cocoa nibs, fresh raspberries, mint, or whatever you like!

Ta da! This is so easy to make (no baking required), great for a summer evening, and fit for a birthday dessert. Cake is so last year.  🙂

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Filed under Meats

Smørrebrød: The Danish Sandwich

Lauren,

In preparation for our upcoming trip, I’ve been experimenting with Danish food and trying my hand at the Smørrebrød (originally smør og brød, meaning “butter and bread”). As you may know, these open-faced sandwiches consist of a buttered rye bread (rugbrød) and pålæg (“that which goes on top”). The toppings range from meats and fish, to veggies, cheeses and other spreads. I think the big draw to these is not only their simplicity, to showcase the fine-quality ingredients, but also their decorativeness, which has shaped their international reputation. According to Wiki: “A slice or two of pålæg is placed on the buttered bread and decorated with the right accompaniments to create a tasty and visually appealing food item.” YUM

Here are my versions of the SmørrebrødI found this great “European-style” rye bread at Trader Joe’s, of all places. It’s packed with cracked rye, crushed whole wheat, raw hulled sunflower seeds, and flax seeds. I’ve practically swapped out my normal bread for this one and love eating it with homemade hummus and almond butter.

Tuscan Tuna (or chicken) Smørrebrød

Canned tuna in water, low-sodium

Artichoke hearts, marinated or in water

Extra virgin olive oil

Lemon juice

Fresh parsley

Salt & Pepper, to taste

Kalmata olives

Roma tomatoes

Rye bread (rugbrød)

Do ahead: Drain tuna and pat try with paper towel. Shred tuna (or chicken, if using) and place in a medium bowl. Chop artichokes, pat try with paper towel, and place in bowl with tuna. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chop fresh parsley and add to mixture, stirring well and refrigerating for a couple of hours to allow flavors to come together.

Toast bread and arrange on plates. Top with a layer of sliced ripened tomatoes, getting rid of extra moisture. Scoop tuna mixture on top and arrange sliced olives for garnish. Remember, presentation counts!

Other great topping ideas: Hummus & Red Pepper, Pate & Gouda Cheese, Prosciutto & Mozzarella, Cream Cheese & Cucumber, Tomato & Basil, Boiled Egg & Goat Cheese (above), Smoked Salmon & Tomato, Butter & Salted Radish, Pork & Giardiniera (pickled veggies)

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Healthy Classics

Lauren, 

My mouth is watering after looking at your pictures—chicken soup, barbecue, and giant doughnuts! Delish. It’s been a busy week and I havn’t been in much of a mood to make a whole lot. When we had our visitor over the weekend I made some elaborate spreads with cheeses, meats, dips, and breads. My current favorite is pairing rye bread & hummus and brie & bosc pears. The pate, comte, and prosciutto from Trader Joe’s are good staples too. For dinner over the weekend I made pesto-chicken pasta with pine nuts and roasted tomatoes (we threw a keg party on Friday so carbs and fat was on the menu). This week I’ve made the switch to healthier meals.. in preparation for another weekend full of parties and late-night burger runs. I created a muffin recipe with handfuls of fresh zucchini, made a veggie-packed taco dinner, prepared a vibrant quinoa salad, and cooked up a delicious strawberry rose petal compote to go on top of ice cream and greek yogurt. Check out the recipes and how-to pictures below…

(Chocolate) Zucchini Loaf

2 eggs

1/3 cup brown sugar or evaporated cane juice

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups fresh zucchini, grated or shredded in food processor

1/2 cup light sour cream or greek yogurt (optional)

1/2 cup canola oil 

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup chopped pecans 

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the grated zucchini, canola oil, sour cream, baking soda, and salt. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk the flours with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir well. Then stir in the pecans, raisins and chocolate chips. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups or loaf pan and bake for 20 minutes (muffins) and 50 minutes (loaf). It’s best to take out when still a tiny bit gooey on the inside. Cool and freeze whatever you won’t eat in the next day or two.

Eat for breakfast, with tea and coffee, or for dessert with a dollop of yogurt and honey!

Strawberry Rose Petal Compote

Handful pink or red edible rose petals (very fragrant & pesticide-free!)

Ripe, sweet strawberries (preferably organic)

Sugar, evaporated can juice, maple syrup, or agave syrup

Lemon juice

Cinnamon

Vanilla extract

Do ahead: Rinse rose petals thoroughly and drain. Clip off bitter white base and place rose petals in a small bowl, sprinkle with sugar to coat, and let sit overnight. 

Rinse strawberries thoroughly, cut into quarters, and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar (or other sweetener) and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Toss to coat. Meanwhile, place a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add strawberries and stir until it starts to liquify (The strawberries should have enough water to create their own sauce). Add rose petals and a bit of vanilla extract and cinnamon to taste, and simmer for 20-30 minutes more, or until sauce starts to thicken. Taste and add more sugar, vanilla, or lemon if it needs it. Refrigerate overnight (sauce will continue to thicken).

Use as a topping for ice cream, yogurt or on baked goods. Fresh mint or pistachios add great flavor and a bit of color!

Simply Mexican Tacos

Olive oil

Yellow or white onions

Zucchini, chopped

Red pepper, chopped

Frozen corn

Chicken

Lemon juice

Cilantro

Sat n’ Pepper

Chili flakes

Sunflower seeds

Avocado, chopped

Salsa (or make your own)

Grated mexican cheese (jack, cheddar, etc)

Refried beans (black or pinto)

Soft or hard corn tortillas

Sauté vegetables in olive oil with a touch of salt until tender. Meanwhile marinate chicken with lemon, salt, pepper, half of cilantro, and chili flakes. Heat olive oil in pan and fry until just cooked through. Top with remaining cilantro and toasted sunflower seeds (these are so nutty and make every taco and burrito better). Heat refried beans, drizzle chopped avocado with olive oil, lemon and salt. Place veggies, chicken, beans, avocado, cheese and salsa in small bowls for serving. Heat soft tortillas on each side or warm hard shells and serve. 

Great for parties or for a movie night, like we had here! And takes less cooking and more prep so the more hands in the kitchen, the better! These are healthy and the veggies make them a variation on the classic tacos. Buen provecho.

Red & Orange Quinoa

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cups water

1 sweet potato, peeled & chopped 

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

2-3 carrots, peeled & chopped

10 kalmata olives, pitted and quartered

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

A bunch of fresh chives or other fresh herbs, chopped

Dressing: 2 parts good extra virgin olive oil, 1 part lemon juice, salt* & pepper, 1 tsp honey

(honey surprisingly goes well with any savory salad, learned from MNR)

1/4- 1/2 cup Feta* or goat cheese

*If using feta and olives, hold the salt in the dressing

Do ahead: Place quinoa and water in 2 qt saucepan, bring to boil. Reduce to simmer on lowest setting and cover. After 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed, take off heat and cool. Place in refrigerator overnight or for a few hours. To quicken, pour into cold bowl, cover and refrigerate. 

Boil chopped sweet potato for about 10 minutes or until tender (but don’t overcook or else it will be mushy). Drain and rinse with cold water. Add chilled quinoa to a large serving bowl and add potatoes and all other chopped vegetables/herbs. Mix together olive oil, lemon, and honey for dressing in a small cup and pour over quinoa mixture to taste. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss gently. Crumble cheese on top.

Now you’ve got one incredibly vibrant and wonderfully nutritious meal that you can eat all by itself, or serve with a main dish. The thing is, quinoa has a lot of protein so you don’t have to worry about adding meat to your meal. Its a complete protein, which means it has all the essential amino acids, and, it’s easy on the stomach. So what are you waiting for? Dig in already!

Oh, and just a warning, your pet will want some too… : )

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Chicken Soup

So I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve been very busy. Today is Golosá’s 15-year anniversary concert in the new UChicago Logan Arts Center, for which I made a mountain of cookies:

(Oatmeal Chocolate Chip—it’s my favorite. This made 60+ cookies.)

Also I’ve been working on my sweater, which I keep forgetting to take photos of. The sleeves are now attached to the body! Very exciting.

Also Bill and I bought a lovely and very expensive vacuum, which we have been using to obsessively clean the house since Mom is coming in this weekend.

Also the GIANT Lichtenstein Retrospective exhibition (click here) just opened at the Art Institute, so work has been a little crazy.

I also made these lovely potstickers for dinner a few nights ago:

They were very yummy—filled with cabbage, pork, veggies… (Of course, the five that we deep fried were even better) Recipe later.

Also, Bill and I had a fun weekend filled with a game that was basically a real-life Zombie Apocalypse (read about it here) and an insanely awesome old timey jazz concert at a lovely BBQ joint called Honky Tonk. Observe the BBQ platter:

Don’t worry. We split that between three people and still had leftovers. It was sort of insanely good.

SO this brings me to last night. Somehow, between cleaning, baking mountains of cookies and getting ready for this concert tonight, I had time to throw a whole chicken in the pressure cooker and make possibly the best chicken soup I’ve ever had.

Karla, I don’t think you have a pressure cooker, but it’s a dream machine. we cooked this chicken to supreme juicy and tenderness in about 25 minutes and the resulting broth was phenomenal. Here’s the recipe, from Bon Appetit:

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled, halved crosswise
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 3 pieces
  • 2 onions, cut into eighths
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, smashed
  • 1 4-pound chicken
  • 4 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup egg noodles
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

  • Combine salt, peppercorns, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, parsley sprigs, and ginger in the pressure cooker pot. Place chicken on top; add broth and 3 cups water. (The liquid should not rise above the 2/3 marker.) Lock lid in place, making sure vent is sealed. Press Warm; set timer for 24 minutes and press Start to cook.
  • Let pressure release naturally. Remove lid and transfer chicken to a platter to cool. Strain broth into a large bowl. Remove carrots and let cool completely; discard other solids from strainer. Slice carrots into rounds. Remove skin from chicken and shred meat from the bones. Discard skin and bones.
  • Return broth to the pot. Press Warm; set timer for 20 minutes (add or subtract time as needed) and press Start. Bring to a boil; add shredded chicken, carrot rounds, and noodles and cook until noodles are al dente, about 10 minutes, depending on thickness of noodles. Press Cancel to stop cooking. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.

Now, I used these noodles that looked like the SUPREME chicken noodle soup noodles, but turned out to be something called “dumpling noodles.” They made the soup a little thicker and ended up cooking into dumpling-like masses, which were actually very good. Nice surprise at the end. That’s why our soup looks so cloudy, but I can assure you that the plain broth was just as heavenly.

We had this with fresh baked bread from our local Latin grocery store (Sunshine Market)—no really it was so hot when I picked it up, I thought it might burn me—and had a lovely dinner on the porch at dusk, right before the spectacular lightning show.

Yes, those are Summer Shandys. Summer has arrived in Chicago.

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Filed under Soups

European Delights

Hi Sis,

This week Dennis’s uncle Martijn is in town from Utrecht, Holland. He brought with him some treats that are very typically dutch: Stroopwafels, fair trade (slave-free) chocolate, licorice drops, and hagelslag! You’ve probably had stoopwafels before because they sell them everywhere now. I’ve seen mini ones at Trader Joe’s and specialty stores have good ones too. They are just gooey caramel-filled waffles, delicious. The licorice drops (or Scheepsknopen) are definitely an acquired taste, but anyone who likes strong licorice would love them. Apparently the dutch can go through a whole box in a day! The chocolate is a lot like specialty brands you can find here (but getting chocolate from Europe is always such a treat). However, hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) is something I’ve only seen in Holland and they put it on warm toast or a baguette in the morning, like in the picture. So good! Just thought I’d share these with you, since I always love coming across foreign brand goodies— maybe because they seem so much better than the ones here! I can’t wait to search the supermarket shelves for some new and interesting things when we’re in Copenhagen/Stockholm this summer! Oh, and I’ve been getting some good tips on things to do in Copenhagen from my good friend who studied there! I’ll be sure to share what I find.

Karla

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Filed under Desserts