Archive for ‘Nuts’

August 10, 2013

wontons with apricot-mustard sauce

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I took a chance. I decided to venture out of my comfort-zone in order to test the waters of a cuisine that is not Italian-American focused. I took a trip to the Asian store (which ironically is called Paris Store?). I asked the people working there to identify certain vegetables that I couldn’t pick out of a vegetable line-up. I perused the sauce aisle for approximately 42 minutes without lifting my head once. And I made homemade green curry paste. And consequently a Thai green curry. That was delicious.

But this post isn’t about the green curry. This post is about the sides we made. Now, I know I am probably mixing up my non-Italian-American fare by serving wontons with a curry, but I am just a beginner, okay?

These wontons were…off…the…chain. Unbelievable. I was astonished by how successful they turned out. The texture. The filling. Tasted like something I would order in a restaurant (and this isn’t something I say very often about the food I turn out.) What I especially liked about this recipe is the minimalism of the ingredient list, and the fact that most of these things can be found in any old supermarket. Having a food processor is a bonus because it really gets the mixture to be homogenous, but I am sure loosely chopped versions of the ingredients would be excellent as well.

This post is for you Tilgerchen.

Wontons with Apricot-Mustard Sauce

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(adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen, makes 14 dumplings)

What you’ll need:

Apricot-Mustard Sauce

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Wontons

  • 4 tbsps canola oil, divided
  • 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • gyoza or wonton wrappers (used egg-free if making this vegan!)

What now?

Apricot-Mustard Sauce:

  1. Combine jam and mustard in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t stick. Transfer to a serving bowl and let it cool to room temp.

Wontons:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbps canola oil over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. Add the cashews, scallions, carrots, garlic, ginger and soy sauce and cook them babies all together for another 5 minutes.
  2. Once cooled slightly, transfer to a food processor and pulse a few times until the cashews are finely ground and mixture is somewhat smooth. I left mine slightly chunky because I thought it would pack more of a punch.
  3. At your origami station, place 2 teaspoons of wonton mixture in the center of each wonton wrapper.  Keep a small bowl of water nearby. You will want to wet the edges of the wonton mixture just enough to seal the wrapper. As you are folding over the wonton, squeeze as much air out as possible to avoid air pockets. As you can see, I was not fancy, I will have to upgrade my folding techniques for next time.  Just make sure it’s sealed.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Once the oil is hot, place the wontons in the skillet. Do not smush them, leave some space between them.
  5. Cook a few minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned. Once browned, fill the skillet with 1/2 inch hot water.
  6. Cover the skillet immediately and let those puppies simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Flip the wontons to brown the other side lightly.
  8. Serve with apricot-mustard sauce et voilà!

Bon app!

(I am sure the option of steaming could work equally as well, just haven’t tried it yet!)

August 8, 2013

chocolate caramel bark aka lovexcore cookies

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These treacherously delicious cookies have several names. My father calls them “heart-attack” cookies. My friends and I used to call them “lovexcore” cookies. Traditional society would probably call them “bark.” Whatever their actual title, these cookies were a big favorite growing up on the Long Island peninsula. Whenever Kelly came over with a tin or a Tupperware, you knew what she had up her sleeve. These puppies.

With such simple, everyday ingredients (but perhaps some shocking quantities?) these are easy to whip up. Just be sure to have the patience to let them cool down in the refrigerator before plunging head-first into the baking tray.

The saltiness of the saltine crackers coupled with the butter and the chocolate make for an addictive and compulsive treat. I suggest that you test these bad boys out when you are going somewhere and you are going to share them. In fact, this was probably Kelly’s technique all along…

The French are normally not a big fan of a salty-sweet combination (WHAT? I live for this happy marriage of flavor) but those who did get a taste gave this treat a healthy, happy, albeit metaphorical two thumbs-up.

Fun fact: In just thinking of a French person giving two thumbs up, I had to ask myself — do the French even do this sort of gesture? According to wordreference, this is not translatable.

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Kelly’s lovexcore cookies aka Chocolate Caramel Bark

What you’ll need:

  • 40 Saltine crackers or something similar (I’ve heard tell of doing this with Matzo)
  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
  • 1 cup (220g) packed light brown sugar
  • A big pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or a nut of your choice (optional)
  • Sprinkles (optional)
  • Extra sea salt for sprinkling (optional but who doesn’t love extra sea salt!)

What now?

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C. While the oven is heating, line a large baking sheet (11 x 17) with aluminum foil and THEN parchment paper. You want to fit these two perfectly on the baking sheet. I’ve learned that the parchment paper really helps the lovexcore cookies to NOT stick.
  2. Line the now covered baking sheet with saltine crackers. You may have to break them apart in order to completely cover the baking sheet. Don’t worry about it looking perfect, just get that baking sheet covered.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Once it’s come to a boil, let it continue to boil, stirring it often so that it thickens (or becomes a caramel!)
  4. Remove from the heat and add salt and vanilla extract.
  5. Quickly pour caramel over the saltine crackers and spread if you can to cover every part of the crackers.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the outer edges of the crackers start to brown. Pay attention! You don’t want it to burn or get too dark.
  7. Once removed from the oven, immediately cover the saltine crackers with the chopped chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, until the chocolate has become melty and spreadable. Using a spatula, spread the wealth chocolate deliciousness to fully cover everything. If using, sprinkle the chocolate with sprinkles (hehe)/ almonds / nuts / whatever you’d like.
  8. Wait an eternity (or put it in the fridge) to cool. Once cool, break the saltines up into bite sized pieces of your choosing. Try not to taste the entire baking sheet while you are breaking them apart. Been there, done that.

Bon app!

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June 9, 2013

Banana Bread Crepe Cake | gâteau aux crêpes

crepecake

Here is a cake that trumps all cakes.A crepe that trumps all crepes.

The kind of cake that makes the French tremble in their booties.  What a sacrilegious idea to combine crepes to make something other than a traditional crepe, egg and ham dish? Though they all shudder at the thought of a crepe cake, they always come back, eye-ing the photos, interested, wondering if they could put their culinary preferences aside for the moment in order to engage in such an American spin on the crepe.

This is the kind of cake that says “I am sorry but I don’t have a birthday present for you.” This is the kind of cake that says “breakfast, lunch and dinner”. This is the kind of cake that says “squish” when you cut into it. This cake is divine. The recipe seems long and daunting but once you have mastered the crepe technique (which is essentially the pancake technique but easier) this cake is a breeze. No oven needed. Can be stuck in the freezer for faster consolidating results. Even the most anti-banana beards on the planet have approved the subtle hint of banana that infiltrates the palate. It marries perfectly with the cream and the butterscotch. There really is no other way to eat 10 crepes in one bite than this way.

crepecake2

Banana Bread Crepe Cake with Butterscotch

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

(serves a many, but was eaten by 2.)

What you’ll need:

Crepe batter

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 large ripe banana (should yield about 1/2 cup peeled and squished)
  • 1 cup (235 ml) milk
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves

Cream cheese yogurt filling

  • 8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, well-softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (345 grams) plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Walnut butterscotch topping

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (about 50 grams) chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, or to taste

Now what?

  1. Crepe batter: Mix together banana and butter in a food processor or with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing until obtaining a smooth liquid. Let the batter rest in the fridge for 1 hour minimum. This part is essential since it helps your crepe batter thicken up significantly. If possible, overnight will yield the best results.
  2. To make the crepes: Heat a non-stick skillet or a crepe pan on medium heat. The best part about France is that a crepe pan will cost you 2 euros whereas in America where it will be deemed a specialty item. Melt a nub of butter in the pan. Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour the crepe batter in the pan as you swirl the pan around so that the batter spreads out evenly and thinly across the whole pan. Emergency fill in any open holes carefully with fresh batter if need be. The French will argue that an ideal crepe is a thin one. Let the crepe cook, untouched for 2-3 minutes. Once it is ready to be flipped, the crepe will be golden brown and it will peel right off and flip easily. Cook for 30 seconds on the second side, and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, you should get 10-11 crepes. Cool crepes completely before assembling the cake.
  3. Cream cheese filling: Beat cream cheese until fluffy, then add the greek yogurt, sugar and vanilla and beat for another minute, until fluff-city.
  4. Cake assembly: Lay the very first cake on your cake platter or plate of choice. Spread with 1/4 cup of the cream cheese filling and then place another crepe on top. Repeat until the crepes or the cream cheese filling runs out, but be sure to end with a crepe hat on top.
  5. Butterscotch topping: Combine the cream, brown sugar and butter in the bottom of a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.  Be sure to stir occasionally in the beginning and more frequently as it reduces and thickens. After 10 minutes, once it smells toasty and feels thick to the touch, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt, then walnuts. Immediately pour over stack of filled crepes. Spread the butterscotch over all of the “hat” so that everyone gets their share of butterscotch topping.

Bon app!

February 11, 2013

Veganism Day 4 to 9: We’re like two burgers….

The Beard is here today, bringing you a brief and beautiful update.

Very often you do things that you like alone. Because no one likes them like you do. And sometimes you do things you don’t like, alone. Such as shoveling snow off your front door, ironing your most wrinkled shirts before a presentation, or anything else that leaves you enough time to do what you don’t like doing and think about it excessively. There’s one thing I hate doing, and this is smiling to someone I have fed but won’t return even a ‘Thank you!’ because that someone believes that the dish I offered lacked of character or style. Of course, this individual thinks of meat, knowing that the food that was shared is a sort of pre-game only. That the thankless person in question will grab real food on his way home –a kebab, for sure. Well, while this type of situation has happened to me a lot in the past, I had time to think about it excessively. And find remedies.

The remedy is, as I’ve previously mentioned, the Guide. How is it that I feel that my shoes now fit me so perfectly? How is it that seeing the meat stalls at the farmers’ market doesn’t bother me anymore? And that I don’t mind shoveling snow off my front door, that I wear neatly-ironed shirts lately, that… ? There’s something about body and mind. They make the connections we, as human beings, can’t force. V-E days (Vegan Emancipation… because I am still a Cold War historian after all) see my body thanking my mind for the careful turn it has decided to undertake. Little by little, you replace the need with the necessary, and the necessary with the essential. You don’t lack of anything, you discover how you can make it even better. Life. So you heap up the veggies on the bun. Are you craving a crunchy steak?: let it cook a little longer, resting on its heated pan, ready to offer you the right dose of iron. Reminder: you don’t like ironing, but you build up. Build up. Build up. Go grocery shopping together, spend your Saturdays, build something together. Share: our friends L, A, K, and E jumped into a sea of veganism (and wine) and went home smiling, I heard. Veganism is like that: altruistic. Listen, discover and build up on what you’ve learned. And eventually end up side by side, like two healthy bodies who don’t even bother thinking about any ‘I’ anymore. Have they ever existed? My body doesn’t remember. We’re like two burgers, side by side, feeling good as day 12 is about to start, wondering how better things could ever be. The Guide and the Beard. More will come. I’ll keep you posted…

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Double Double Drive-Thru Burgers

Serves 8

(adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen, but taken from another great vegan reference and Boston College friend, Veega)

What you’ll need:

Burgers:

  • 8 oz. package tempeh or 1 cup cooked brown rice (we used brown rice because tempeh is nowhere to be found in Strasbourg)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 15 oz. can lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Sauce:

  • 2/3 cup soft tofu
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons pickle relish (we couldn’t find this, but it was delightful nonetheless.)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill

Now what?

  1. Sauté garlic and onion in a pan until soft, browned and full of aromas!
  2. Combine garlic, onion, lentils, walnuts, flour and spices in a food processor (or maybe a high powered blender) and pulse until it is all incorporated. The walnuts should be in crumbs. If necessary, remove from the food processor and mix with your hands in order to mix fully.
  3. Heat the canola oil in the same pan used before. From the lentil mixture, form thin patties (we got about 8 out of this). The first time we made these, we made double decker burgers, which were delicious, messy and divine. If not making double decker version, make the patties a bit thicker.
  4. Once the oil is hot, fry the patties in the pan on both sides until browned and crunchy on the outside. Move them onto a plate to collect excess oil.

For the sauce:

  1. Mix all of the sauce ingredients except the dill and the relish in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in the dill and the relish. We poured ours into an old ketchup squeeze bottle. The Beard named this sauce “homme-made” (man-made).
  2. To assemble the burgers on vegan buns, we poured sauce onto the bottom bun, smothered it with lettuce, a burger patty, another bottom bun, more sauce, another patty, and then red onions, red peppers, tomatoes, and or pickles (au choix! your choice!) bon app.
August 4, 2012

Suzzzz’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I grew up in a house where coffee cake was king.  Normally it came in that glorious blue Entemmenn’s box and I would find it picked over in the cupboard by other phantom family members, missing giant chunks of its crumbly crust.

But there was another family favorite for “special occasions” and it even won my sister Stephanie a (plastic) trophy (the highest of all honors!) in a “baking contest award” in elementary school.  This is one serious cake.  I think its deliciousness stems from the fact that it has a somewhat original ingredient as its main source of moisture.  The infamous sour cream.  What IS sour cream?  How to differentiate between creams in this country, I’ll never know.  I’ve tried my hardest to find a similar product in France, but all I’ve come up with is “la faisselle.” That will have to do.

Proust is to madeline as I am to this coffee cake.  For me this cake smells like Christmas (‘tis really the season to eat sour cream) but it also smells like Sunday brunch.  What better sort of cake to dip into your big bowl of coffee on a lazy Sunday?

Suzzzz’s (aka Mom) Sour Cream Coffee Cake

What you’ll need:

  • 2 sticks sweet butter
  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dairy sour cream (la faisselle if you are in France!)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shelled pecans, chopped (I used walnuts which worked just fine!)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 10-inch bundt pan and lightly dust the inside with flour.

2.  Cream together the butter and 2 cups of the sugar.  Add eggs, blending well, then the sour cream and vanilla.

3.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4.  Fold the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, and beat until just blended.  Do not over beat.

5.  In a separate bowl, mix remaining ½ cup sugar with pecans and cinnamon.

6.  Pour half of the batter into the bundt pan.  Sprinkle with half of the pecan and sugar mixture.  Add remaining batter and top with the rest of the pecan mixture.

7.  Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

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