Friday, June 24, 2011

Martha Stewart's Cinnamon Spiced Mexican Horchata


I have been going back and forth about whether I should post this recipe or not, because as good as it is (and it's really good), and as lovely as the pictures are (don't you like them?), this is not very authentic horchata. I say that because it has cow's milk in it, and traditionally, Mexican horchata is made of rice milk. And traditionally, you must wake up at the crack of dawn, soak the rice all day, and then grind it to a paste (by hand!) in your molcajete (what's that sound I hear? Ah, yes, cue the tiny violin).

Alternatively, you buy a little plastic baggie of powdered mix from the Mexican section of the grocery store, and you mix it with water. Which, by the way, I am pretty sure is what most Mexican people around here actually do when they want to drink horchata. Who has time to grind rice in a molcajete all day long?

So this drink, while delicious, is sort of Martha's irreverent devil-may-care-what-the-real-thing-is interpretation of horchata, and I have to say, it's good! It's creamy and delicious and the milk pairs well with Mexican food, which can be spicy! I imagine you could probably even just use unsweetened rice milk from the grocery store if you want to make it more authentic, or if you happen to be allergic to cow's milk, or you are vegan or WHATEVER. You don't have to make any explanations to me! I love you just the way you are, non-milk drinking friend.

If you want to make this a more grown-up drink, you can add in a little dark rum. It's quite tasty!


Martha Stewart's Cinnamon Spiced Mexican Horchata
adapted from Martha Stewart Living 2011
Serves 4

4 cups milk (use whatever fat content you like best)
1 cinnamon stick
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup rice flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
optional: 1/2 cup dark rum

1. bring milk and cinnamon stick to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat, and transfer to a pitcher or bowl. Mix in sweetened condensed milk, flour, vanilla, and cinnamon. Chill until cold (a good 2 hours should do it).

2. strain mixture with a sieve, and add in rum (if using). Pour over ice, and garnish with a cinnamon stick, or a little sprinkle or cinnamon. Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Authentic Homemade Fire Roasted Mexican Salsa!


This salsa makes me angry. It makes me angry because I have been paying $4 for little jars of salsa for year and years, and now I find out that making your own big jar of salsa is not only delicious and easy, but it's also dirt cheap! Do you have access to some tomatoes, garlic, onions, and jalapeno peppers? Then you have the making of some great salsa on your hands.


This being me, I am also excited to have more control over the ingredients, and I can keep out nasty villains like corn syrup, excessive sodium, and preservatives, and risky chemicals like BPA or whatever else they use to line cans and jar lids. But that's just me and my ever lasting quest to get more healthy food into my family!

I have only made this one way, but I like to think that this is a good base recipe for making different flavors of sauce. Here are some suggestions for flavors:

Three Pepper: Add 3 cored bell peppers to roasting pan, in red, orange, and yellow
Garlic Chipotle: Replace jalapeno with 1 - 2 canned Chipotle peppers (depending on how spicy you want it) and 1 tsp adobo sauce. Increase garlic to 5-6 cloves
Pineapple: Add 2 thick slices cored fresh pineapple, or 1/2 a cup drained canned pineapple
Spicy Smoky Peach: Add 1 fresh peach, slices in half and pit removed, and replace jalapeno with 1/2 a chipotle pepper + adobo (or more if you like it hot!)
Double Chipotle: Add 1 - 2 canned chipotle peppers + adobo sauce, and 1 teaspoon smoke chipotle chili powder


Authentic Homemade Fire Roasted Mexican Salsa Recipe
adapted from Everyday Food, June 2011

4-5 ripe tomatoes, sliced in half, and seeds removed
2-4 jalapeno peppers, tops cut off, and seeds removed (use your discretion here - if you like your salsa mild, use one pepper with the seeds removed. It you like it really spicy, do 4 peppers with the seeds still in, since that's the spiciest part.
2 cloves garlic, skin on
1 large white onion, peeled and cut in half
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped (about 1 cup loosely packed)
lime juice
sea salt
cracked black pepper
additional pepper if desired, such as cayenne or chipotle

1. Turn on oven broiler. A gas stove is best, since you will get that awesome flame kissed flavor, but an electric stove will work too. Place tomatoes and onion cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet, along with garlic and jalapenos. broil 5-10 minutes, until tomatoes and onions are softened and charred (if garlic begins to burn, remove it early). Remove from boiler, and let cool to handle.

2. Roughly chop tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos, and peel garlic. Place in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add chopped cilantro, the juice of 1 lime (about 1.5 tablespoons), sea salt, pepper, and chili (if using), and pulse until incorporated. Taste, and correct seasoning. Serve immediately, or transfer to a container, and refridgerate up to 4 days (or, you could can it and stock your pantry!) enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dreamy Creamy Coconut Cream Bars


I know this doesn't seem like this has anything to do with coconut cream bars (which are just as creamy and dreamy as they look!), but I have had allergies on the brain lately. Apparently, I am allergic to everything. Cats, dogs, mold, dust, hay, grass, and a host of other things yet unknown. Which is why I have 40 little stickers stuck to my back that are itching like crazy. But it will be good to finally know what it is that I am allergic to to, after not knowing for all this time.

Which has got me to thinking about allergies, because lots of people have them, and not just to dogs and cats and dust and pollen, but to foods as well. Before I knew about my gluten issues, I used to roll my eyes at people with special diets. Like, how pretentious can you get? I can't eat this, I can't eat that, treat me special. Back when I taught, I had a few students who were on gluten-free diets, and they were invariably the most difficult ones. I'm ashamed to say that on more than one occasion, I thought to myself "oh, of course you would be the one on the "gluten-free diet" you annoying kid." Ah, youth. It makes idiots of us all.


Because it was one of those students who actually turned me on to the fact that I had a gluten-problem myself. She brought cupcakes to class one day, and her mom chimed in, "and they're gluten free!" Inwardly I rolled my eyes, but after I ate one I thought "Woah. I don't feel sick after eating that cupcake. I always feel sick after eating a cupcake. What is this "gluten" stuff anyway?" And that was the end of that. Within 2 months, I had gone gluten-free for life. I had become the person I mocked. Haha! Life has a way turning things around on you like that.

All that is to say, you never know: it could happen to you. And if it does happen to you, you can take solace in the fact that allergies and intolerances don't mean the end to all good things. If you can't eat gluten (or whatever you happen to be allergic to... Unless you are allergic to coconut!), you can still eat these bars! (If you can eat gluten, you can eat them too, if you can get your hands on them!). I promise, one day you will never miss the gluten at all. I don't!

And what's to miss, when you can have these dreamy creamy coconut cream bars? It sucks to be allergic to stuff. I suppose I will just have to eat another coconut bar to console myself. Poor, poor me. I feel soooo sorry for myself.


Dreamy Creamy Coconut Bars
adapted from Martha Stewart magazine, May 2004

2.5 cups sweetened dried coconut flakes
1.5 cups white rice flour (or all purpose flour if gluten is not an issue)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, melted
(if you want, you can just use pulsed up sugar cookies instead of the flour and sugar).
1 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can coconut milk
2 cups whole milk
5 eggs yolk
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
1.5 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread coconut on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake 10-15 minutes (stirring occasionally if needed), until coconut is golden around the edges. Remove and let cool.

2. In a food processor, pulse together 1 cup of the toasted coconut, 1.5 cups rice flour, 1/2 a cup white sugar, and the melted butter. Pulse together 1-2 minutes until mixture is crumbly. Press into a 9x13 glass baking dish, and bake 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove, and let cool.

3. In a large non-reactive sauce pan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1/2 a teaspoon salt. Mix in 1 can coconut milk, 2 cups whole milk, and 5 egg yolks. Whisk over high heat, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat, and whisk in pieces of butter and 1 cup of the toasted coconut.

4. Scrape coconut cream into crust, and smooth with a spatula. Press saran wrap to the surface of the coconut cream, so that no skin forms on the custard. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until cream is completely cooled.

5. In a stand mixer (or by hand if you are buff), beat 1.5 cups heavy whipping cream with 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, until stiff. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.

6. Cut cream and crust into bars. Pipe a zig zag of whipped cream onto each bar (so it looks pretty!) and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup coconut. Enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Edamame Avocado Dip with Spicy Wasabe


Wow. All I can say is wow. It isn't very often that you stumble across a recipe that shifts your paradigms, but folks, this is it. It's like guacamole on steroids, and the craziest thing is that this stuff is good for you. No really! It is!

If you read my blog at all, you know that I am always trying to sneak healthy stuff into my family. The number one problem is that when you think "healthy" you probably also think "doesn't taste good."

That is so sad.

Healthy food, food that nourishes your body, should taste great. Maybe not like lots of bad fat, sugar, or salt, but it should taste good. And this does. This tastes so, so good. Creamy cool, with the dry heat of wasabe, ginger, and garlic, and a punch of protein from the edamame. It's so good that I want to eat it by the spoonful, and I have to keep reminding myself not to feel guilty if I do, because this really is good for me too!


Edamame Avocado Dip with Spicy Wasabe
adapted from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz

This is my new favorite cookbook, and before I freak you out, no, no-one at my house has cancer. But people who do have cancer need to eat really healthy food, and it has to taste really good because treatment has a way of killing the appetite. This cookbook does just this: really healthy food that tastes really amazing. Exactly what I need for my picky family!

1 cup fresh or frozen shelled edamame beans
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
1 teaspoon wasabe
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 clove minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup water
juice of 2 fresh limes (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Do a seasoning check, and add more salt, pepper, lime juice, or wasabe as needed (I like to kick it up to a tablespoon to really bring on the heat).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spring Green Tuna Casserole ~ A Gluten Free Tuna Casserole From Scratch!


This is definitely not your mothers tuna casserole. Correct me if I'm wrong, but whenever someone talks about "tuna casserole," the kind mom used to make, they are referring to that weird mid-century concoction consisting of a can of tuna, mixed with a can of mushroom soup, mixed with a bag of egg noodles, topped with crushed potato chips and baked until certain to cause heart failure.


Does that even sound good to anyone? Other than maybe the nostalgia factor, because mom made it?

Now. That being said, OH MY GOSH CASSEROLES ARE SO CONVENIENT. Now I get why moms make them! You can make it a day ahead, it requires limited labor, it can feed an army, you can freeze half of it for dinner another day, it still tastes good as leftovers, and it keeps forever!

Obviously, casseroles and I are like, BFF's forever!



The thing about casseroles is that they can be... how shall we say... a little plain? They could use a little dressing up. They're like the Jane Eyre of food: plain, earnest, hardworking and virtuous, but rather lacking in the glamor department.

The nice thing is, you can dress them up is just about anything! This particular version is uses a lot of spring green vegetables (and tuna), but you can dress is up in whatever is seasonal is available to you. The meat, the cheese, and the vegetables are all interchangeable. It a blank palate for you to color with whatever sounds fresh and delicious to you.


Spring Green Tuna Casserole ~ A Gluten Free Casserole From Scratch

I also use a chedder/gruyere cheese blend I found at Trader Joe's, but any flavorful cheese would be great!

Basic Casserole Ingredients
1 lb brown rice pasta, cooked to al dente and drained
2 medium onions, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (or regular flour, if gluten is not an issue)
salt and pepper

Additional Ingredients
1.5 cups broccoli florets
1 cup peas
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and peeled if very thick
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/2 cup mascarpone or sour cream
1 packed cup baby spinach
1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
2 cans albacore tuna in oil
1 lb chedder cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy bottomed pan or dutch oven, heat 2 tbs butter. Fry onions garlic, and fennel over medium heat, until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the butter, and increase heat to high. When butter is hot, mix in sweet rice flour, and whisk to combine with butter. Add milk 1 cup at a time, whisking vigorously with each addition. Bring to a boil. If sauce is too thick add more milk, and if it's too thin, more flour. It should have the consistency of a sauce - not too watery or too thick. Whisk in 1/2 the grated cheese, until cheese is melted and becomes part of the sauce.

2. Mix in whatever vegetables you would like, in this case broccoli, peas, baby spinach, parsley. simmer about 5 minutes, until vegetables are bright green and softened.

3. Mix in tuna, artichoke hearts, lemon juice and zest, mascarpone, and cooked noodles. Place in casserole pan, and top with the other half of the grated cheese. Bake in oven until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!