Lion House Rolls

November 19, 2012 § 4 Comments

A love affair? Maybe, but I guess I justify it since it only happens once a year. And, like me, you won’t believe you made these pudgy little suckers, nor will your guests. Yes, I know, bread is not exactly nourishing, but smothered with ghee or creamy butter, it sure is a perfect indulgence once and a while (i.e. once a year at Thanksgiving).  Lion House rolls are heaven. This is not my recipe but I’ve adopted it, made them the last three years and I must say, if every family chef made these buttery babies, we’d never have to rely on Pillsberry for pokable perfection ever again.

If you’re a visual learner, watch this Lion House video and get to swingin’ your dough!

Lion House Rolls
2 cups warm water, 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk, 2 tbsp dry yeast*, 1/4 cup white, granulated sugar, 2 tsp salt, 1/3 cup organic butter, plus 1/4 cup for brushing 1 egg, 5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, organic butter for topping
*2 tablespoons are equivalent to 2 packages of dry yeast.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water and the dry milk, stirring until everything is dissolved. Add the yeast to the mixture while milk mixture is still warm. Proof the yeast (let it dissolve and start to react before adding anything else) for a couple of minutes then add the sugar, salt, butter, egg and only 2 cups of the flour.

Mix on low speed until ingredients are wet and shaggy; turn to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 2 more cups of flour (total of 4 cups added at this point). Mix on low speed until the ingredients are wet, then turn mixer on medium speed and mix for 2 minutes.

At this point, the dough will be stiff.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and knead in the remaining flour by hand.

Add approximately 1/2- 1 cup of flour and knead. The dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff. Note: It’s not necessary to use the all of the 5 1/2 cups of flour.

Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl. Coat the sides of the bowl with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Turn the dough over, keeping it in the bowl, so it is covered with the oil. Coating the dough with oil ensures moisture won’t escape. Cover the bowl with a small towel and allow it to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

Dust a cutting board or the counter with flour to prevent sticking, and roll out the dough (see the video above). Roll into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick and brush with about 1/4 cup of melted butter.

You want to cut the rectangle into smaller rectangles that are 2″ by 4″.  If you make and “L” with your thumb and pointer finger, as it shows in the video, that will yield the right width and height to cut the rectangles.

Roll or flip them (like in the video) and place them on greased baking pans with the end of the roll resting on the pan. Cover with a towel so they don’t dry out as they rise. Let them rise until they double in size; this usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half (in a warm kitchen).

When they’ve risen, bake at 375 degree Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Serve immediately. Leftovers (although there probably won’t be any) can be frozen- they make a great base for bread pudding!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Coconutmeal: A New Take on Oatmeal

November 7, 2012 § 4 Comments

Fall is nearly over; the leaves have hit the ground, filling the air with the saccharine scent of decomposition. Long walks in the ginseng-scented woods yield hens and chickens hiding on rotting trees, dilapidated bikes and a flush that rouges my cheeks. Against the setting sun the tips of the barren trees look like black lace. Once the sun is gone, the air is silent and chilling. I was lucky enough to catch some glimpses of Rhode Island’s color before it was wiped away by the brazen winds of hurricane Sandy.

The lack of warmth and daylight at this time of the year instigates (for me at least) a craving for craze sweets, breads and hearty roasts (all things I hardly ever eat). However, now more than ever it’s imperative to really dig in and feed our body things that will nourish it.

With the length of the days rapidly decreasing we can all feel winter’s threat; naturally most of us go into hibernation mode. Comfort food keeps us warm, but unfortunately many of the dishes we’ve come to know as our favorites are not exactly the best fuel for keeping us healthy. As I’m sure you know (and have read on every health-related website), whole foods (aka foods with only one ingredient in the ingredient list) are the fuel our body needs and craves. When we’re hungry, tired and stressed (common feelings for this time of the year, are they not?) we tend to make food choices that don’t benefit us. Then we’re forced to deal with the consequences of our poor food choices when we feel lethargic or get sick. Everything we put in our bodies matters, yes, every little thing.

I said all of that to say this; coconut flour is not only satiating with its high fiber, protein and fat content, but is also delicious. Coconut is indulgent and nourishing at its core and this flour proves it. Coconut flour can be used to make cookies, cakes, waffles, pancakes, tarts, “oat”meal and may be a substitute for flour when thickening sauces. But, because coconut flour holds water so well, there are some adjustments that need to be made. When using 100% coconut flour, for every one cup used, 4 eggs should be added to the recipe. By the way, coconut flour is gluten-free so consider experimenting with it if you’re cooking for someone with an intolerance.

This recipe can be made many ways, my favorite is just the fragrant coconut flour, a pinch of stevia and some hot water, but adding coconut milk (cream) an egg and vanilla extract makes for a heavier, more custard-like dish. Below I’ll provide both recipes. Experiment and enjoy!

Coconut Flour “Oat”meal

My Favorite way:
(makes one hearty vegan, gluten-free serving)

1/4 cup raw, organic coconut flour, 1 tsp organic powdered stevia, about 1 cup of hot water and fruit, nuts and nut butters for topping with cinnamon, cardamom and/or cacao powder for spicing

In a bowl mix coconut flour and stevia. Add hot water 1/2 cup at a time, mixing as you add the water. The coconut flour requires a lot of water, but to avoid making your “oat”meal too watery taste it as you go. I like mine on the drier, less soupy side.

Traditional way:
(makes one hearty gluten-free serving)

1/4 cup coconut flour, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup coconut cream or milk, 1 egg, 1 tsp stevia or other sweetener, 1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract and fruit, nuts and nut butters for topping with cinnamon, cardamom and/or cacao powder for spicing

In a small sauce pan mix coconut flour, water and cream over medium heat until there are no clumps of flour. Add the egg. Immediately mix so the egg doesn’t cook. Continuously stir the mixture while you add vanilla extra, stevia and any desired spices. Top with something delicious and serve while warm.

More on Turin and Terra Madre to come. But for now, enjoy your “oat”meal.

Lemon-stachio Pesto Crusted Salmon

May 2, 2012 § 2 Comments

With the bright flavor of lemony pistachio pesto and a bold fish one can not go wrong.

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There is no beating the pesto’s crunchy top and soft innards after it’s been roasted onto the flaky salmon filet.

Salmon. The go to fish of the USA: Eat more salmon, eat more fish! You’ve heard it over and over and chances are, you’ve bought some salmon and cooked it – possibly rather unsuccessfully? Salmon is tough, especially if you don’t usually eat fish, because it does taste like fish. Now in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with fish – which I eat often, but if you like pesto (Come on, who doesn’t like pesto?!), this is a good way to tame the bold taste of salmon without squandering it.

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*To roast garlic leave it in the peel and toss it in the oven (with whatever else you’re cooking) until the peel beings to loosen and the garlic is fragrant.

 Pesto, taken literally, actually means anything that has been pounded or crushed, as the word pesto has roots in the Italian word pesta and the English word pestle. With that being said, abandon your typical ideas about pesto and be daring. Pesto originated in Genoa, Italy (when I visited this region I was inspired by their seemingly competitive gardens laced with row upon row on perky basil plants) as a mosaic of  basil, pine nuts and olive oil, yet today there are thousands of hybrids. Here we’ll use some pungent roasted garlic, basil, spinach, pistachios and lemon juice to make a bright pesto, far from overbearing. Give it a shot and don’t hesitate to tweak it to meet the needs of your taste buds.

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Pesto

1 cup fresh Genovese basil leaves,  1 cup organic baby spinach,  1 cup shelled pistachios, salted  3/4 cup pecorino romano, freshly grated,  1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil,  1 large clove garlic*, roasted,   3 Tbsp lemon juice, black pepper to taste

Salmon

Use any species of fresh caught (NOT farmed**) salmon. One person can usually eat a 4-8oz filet. To be safe, make one 6-8oz (about half pound) filet per person. Left overs are delicious topping a salad the next day.

Lemon-stachio Pesto Crusted Salmon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit on roast. Cover a baking dish or pan with parchment paper and coat with oil. Put fish in/on the baking dish and refrigerate until ready to use.  Meanwhile, combine basil, spinach, pistachios, and pecorino romano in a food processor. Process until completely mixed. Add olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Pulse until pistachios are completely ground into the pesto. Pulse in crushed black pepper if desired.

Top the salmon with the pesto and bake for 15 minutes. Cut a filet open to check the middle, it should be opaque and flaky with an internal temperature of 140 degrees. If it is slightly pink, it’s finished. Let the salmon sit (out of the oven) for 2-5 minutes so it can finish cooking. Serve immediately.

**Note: Farmed salmon may help feed the global population, but it’s not the best for anyone. Due to it’s unnatural diet that consists of a conglomeration of grains and soybeans, it’s higher in omega-6 fatty acids, which you are most likely getting in abundance from your daily diet. Stick with wild caught to get the most authentic salmon flavor, an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids and a healthy dose of astaxanthin (With no added color – Yes, farmed salmon does have added color).

Bon appetit.

Slow Food Snacking

April 28, 2012 § 3 Comments

Slow Food Snacking

Yes we, Slow Food URI, love local (Narragansett Creamery Ricotta) cheese with nasturtiums after some work in the soil. Nasturtiums are edible flowers with lots of possibilities; they can be tossed into a salad, served as tapas with cheese and crackers, stuffed, pickled or turned into butter to enhance its flavor.

Nasturtiums are like beautiful women; boldness is to be expected. With every bite of this seemingly delicate flower you’ll experience a water-cress-like bite that not even arugula can deliver.

Renaissance ricotta, nasturtium and a chive flower packed on a cracked black pepper, gluten free Glutino cracker.

Nasturtiums can easily be grown and can usually be found a farmers markets from spring to fall.

Stay tuned for Fiery Ricotta Egg Noodle post.

Open-Face Savory Egg Sandwich

October 16, 2011 § 3 Comments

It’s a shame that this recipe isn’t what McDonalds uses to make their “Egg” McMuffins. Maybe if it was, our country wouldn’t be suffering from an obesity epidemic. I hate to start on such a negative note, so I’ll change my tone, but I had to say it.

We’ve finally got eggs! At first, I was hesitant to believe it, but after pulling the petite golf-ball-like orbs from the hen’s laying quarters for the past seven days, I’ve realized that it’s probably only going to get better.

The Rooster, also known as our neighborhood's new alarm clock.

The eggs in this sandwich were probably some of the most expensive eggs I’ve ever eaten (we have a while until our inputs & the hens’ outputs break even). Although the eggs were definitely the most expensive, they were by far the tastiest little morsels around. We’ve been letting the hens out to roam around the garden, torture the dog, flock into trees & to hop. Yes, hens hop, or at least ours do. But hey, the happier the hen, the better the egg- that’s my hypothesis.

All around the country the number of people rearing their own chickens (mainly for laying), keeping bees & planting their own gardens is increasing exponentially. It makes sense. As this nation has become more educated about the way our food is grown & raised, the energy required to ship it to us (food miles) & the actual nutritional quality of what we’ve been consuming, people have begun to lose their faith in the integrity of our food systems (& for good reason). So, instead of relying on a system that we can’t count on, why not take a whack at self-sufficiency (just a little whack).

So when I say this is the ultimate breakfast, lunch & dinner sandwich, you have to understand, the eggs did come from my backyard & that makes all of the difference. It’s a pretty damn good feeling to eat something you helped grow or grew yourself.

Aside from the egg, how can can anyone go wrong with a hearty artisan multi-grain loaf, roasted butternut squash, a block sharp cheddar (Melted. I know, even better right?) & arugula? You can’t.

Oh & yes, eggs do have cholesterol, but don’t let anyone fool you, eating eggs is much more nourishing than a bowl of some “healthy” cereal every morning. If you don’t know already, eggs are a prime source of choline, folic acid & vitamin A. They provide the perfect ratio of fat to protein & are probably not what is causing your high cholesterol. In fact, it is generally accepted that dietary cholesterol is not the persecutor of high LDL (bad cholesterol). Also, the fat in eggs is predominately good for you, as they are relatively low in saturated fat.  High consumption of saturated fat is positively correlated (when consumed in high amounts, e.g. grain-fed & processed meats, processed cheese, butter, etc.) with high cholesterol.

The squash here is from my backyard & the bread is a Multi-Grain Round from Seven Stars.

As you can see, the quality of bread you use  is important in deciding the the outcome of this sandwich. It’s got to be robust enough to not get lost under all the toppings that are added. Actually, the quality of everything in this sandwich is important; the bread, the cheese, the butter you used to brown the sage leaves in, the sage itself, the fresh bitterness of the arugula, and of course the egg.

Here I removed the toppings so you could see the bright yellow "leakiness" of my homegrown egg.

By the way, if you’ve never made brown sage butter, you’re in for a treat.

Open-Face Savory Egg Sandwich

(Serves 2 or 1 really hungry person)

1 butternut squash*,  cut in half, seeds removed,  1/2 loaf of bread,  5 oz organic sharp cheddar, 2 eggs, 1 cup of arugula,   2 Tbsp honey mustard,  2 Tbsp shredded organic Parmesan cheese,  1 Tbsp organic butter,  6 sage leaves, broad leaf if available,  salt & black pepper to taste

*You won’t use the whole butternut squash, but it will keep in the refrigerator for several days or can be turned into Butternut Squash Soup.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit & roast the squash for 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Then, switch the oven to broil. Cut two 3/4 inch thick slices of bread & broil, flipping the pieces every minute until golden on each side. When broiling you should use the middle-top racks (the heat comes from the roof of the oven) & should be vigilant about keeping an eye on the bread.

Meanwhile cook butter in a skillet over medium-high until the milk solids begin to brown, this should take about 2-3 minutes. Add the sage & cook until crispy, no more than 1 minute. Remove the sage & set it aside.

Once broiled, spread 1 Tbsp of honey mustard on each slice of bread, cover with a thin piece of butternut squash & top with the cheese. Broil the cheese-topped bread for 1 minute, or until the cheese melts (this happens very quickly).

Add the two eggs to the brown butter & cook until the bottoms turn white. Season with a little bit of salt. Flip the eggs & cook for no more than 1 minute. The yoke should be runny when they are finished. When finished top the broiled cheese bread with the sage, the eggs, some arugula & a pinch of Parmesan cheese. Broil for 30 seconds to melt the Parmesan. Season with black pepper & serve immediately.

While you enjoy, consider the following: What is holding you back from getting some laying hens?

Wheat Berry Sumac Salad

October 2, 2011 § 3 Comments

Sumac is not poisonous, well some varieties are, but this lemony seasoning certainty isn’t. In fact the sumac I used was given to me by my boyfriend’s mother. Her husband just returned from visiting family in Israel & brought back with him lots of the spices his family uses in their everyday cooking. I am lucky enough to be a recipient of some of those authentic spices, so I figured I’d share with you.

Sumac can be described as sour. It is native to the Middle East & is used widely there & in the Mediterranean to season meat, fish & vegetables. I’ve been putting it in everything; in hummus, on top of salads & sprinkled on my pesto salmon (a recipe Shann taught me).  Sumac works so well in this fall salad, as it does add an unexpected tang to the otherwise standard grain-vegetable dish.

This wheat berry salad is relective of the colors of Autumn & the vegetables it gives us. The pepitas, translated little seed of squash, with their robust, almost chewy texture, simple flavor & sophisticated nutritional profile are a must.  Actually, according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry the phytosterols that occur in many nuts & seeds can help to naturally lower LDL (undesirable cholesterol). Pepitas, have about 265mg/100g (100 grams is about 3oz) – pretty impressive for the inside of a pumpkin seed.

Now, if you are wondering where the sprouting part comes in, listen up. The wheat berries I used were sprouted when I bought them, but you could certainly use bulgur wheat, barley, or un-sprouted wheat berries as the grain for this salad. I used the sprouted wheat berries by Shiloh Farms & because sprouting does enhance the nutritional benefits of many foods, I do recommenced you try to find them (try your local health food store).

Wheat Berry Sumac Salad

2 cups of sprouted wheat berries,  1 1/2 cups parsley, any variety, chopped,  3/4 cup pepitas,  3 large carrots, roasted, 1 delicata squash, roasted, 2 small eggplants,  3 tomatoes,  1 large white onion, chopped,  organic refined coconut oil, cold pressed,  5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil,  2 Tbsp sumac,  5 sun-dried tomatoes, crushed into a grainy powder,  1 tsp garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper & lemon juice

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil, then remove from heat.  In a seperate bowl, cover the wheat berries with 4 cups of the boiling water & let them sit for an hour, or until they are soft enough to eat. If there is extra water that has not been absorbed by the wheat berries, strain the berries in a sieve. Refrigerate until ready to use.

*If you are crunched for time, this can be done it the microwave. Place 2 cups of wheat berries & 4 cups of water in a microwave safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a paper towel & a layer of plastic wrap. Microwave for 10 minutes. There should not be any extra water when finished.

Preheat oven, on roast, to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut delicata squash in half & take out the seeds. On a baking stone drizzle whole carrots & delicata with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté onion, eggplant & tomatoes in coconut oil for about 15 minutes over medium high heat until caramelized. Add 1 Tbsp sumac, salt, pepper, garlic powder & sun-dried tomatoes & sauté over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove vegetables from heat & mix them into the prepared wheat berries.

Chop parsley & add it to the wheat berry mixture. Cut the roasted carrots into 1/4 inch thick rounds & the delicata squash into cubes, then add them as well. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, pepitas, sumac & some salt to taste. Spritz with lemon juice & refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving sprinkle with some sumac.

Bon appetite!

Sun-dried Tomatoes

September 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

I lied a little bit…

These tomatoes aren’t sun-dried, but they are dried & they are so simple. I wanted to post this yesterday so that those of you who frequent the local farmers markets could stock up on one of the last batches of summertime tomatoes, then come home and dry them. But I never got around to it. My apologies, hopefully you did buy tomatoes & didn’t eat all of them for dinner.

There are two things I will stress about this recipe, which is so simple it only calls for one ingredient & an oven.  1) Do not salt the tomatoes. I know this might seem counter-intuitive, but as you dry them, the flavor becomes so highly concentrated that salt will make them unbearable. 2) The tomatoes need to be at cut between 1/4 – 1/3 of an inch thick. If they aren’t cut thick enough they will literally disappear in the oven, leaving behind only their seeds.

Sun-dried Tomatoes

5-7 large paste or Brandywine tomatoes (any other fleshy tomatoes will work), sliced into 1/4 of an inch thick slices

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not coat the baking stone with oil before putting the sliced tomatoes on it. Lay the sliced tomatoes side by side on the stone and bake for 10-12 hours.

These come out wonderful. Yes, they do take a long time, but if you put them in the oven before you go to bed & check them when you wake up, they should be all set. I store mine in a mason jar. If you are going to use them right away you don’t have to refrigerate them, but if you are saving them for any more then 3 weeks, stick them in the refrigerator.

Sun-dried tomatoes are a simple addition to salads & are great mixed into some tuna with mayo. These flavorful morsels work well on toasted bread with a tangy raw goat cheese & are especially yummy on grilled Gruyère  cheese sandwiches. Also, try using the dried tomatoes when you are making broth, because they are so concentrated, they can handle being used like a spice (maybe to flavor a risotto).

Enjoy them throughout the winter, inflecting your hearty creations with a small taste of summer.

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