Fun With Fruit

AKA I had some shit I needed to use up fast so this is what I created.

Indeed, I had some pears and apples languishing about in the fruit bowl, threatening to become wine, so I chopped that shit up and this happened.

3 apples & 3 pears, cubed with the skin on (any kind would work here, but I think I had Gala and Bartlett respectively…you could also peel yours if you wish, I wanted that extra fiber.)

1/3 cup of 100% juice no sugar added apple juice or water (cranberry juice – not cocktail, but the 100% all juice no sugar kind – would have been interesting here too)

juice of 1/2 of a fresh squeezed lime

fresh ginger – about 1/2 tbl

cinnamon – about 1-3 tsp depending on your level of cinnamonyness (say that three times fast)

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this handy gadget makes coring and slicing easy as pie…or cake

Add fruit, spice, rhizome and juice to the instant pot. Set on Manual High for 4 minutes.

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all mixed up and awaiting their pressurization

When it beeps, vent the baby dragon, open the lid and either mash roughly with a potato masher or blend with an immersion blender. You can also ladle the mixture into a blender and puree that way. Basically obliterate to your comfortable level of smushedness. I went for the chunky-style.

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complete with a little blast of steam

The flavor of this is completely amazing and it needs absolutely no sugar. I would recommend adding pears that are just at the prime level of ripeness, IE they are slightly soft to the touch. They are generally sweeter and juicier this way. That added sweetness will really help the sauce flavor profile.

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Flat Out Bread

After watching two episodes of Michael Pollan’s Cooked on Netflix, I have been inspired to cook even more of our food myself. Bread has always been a nightmare for me, all the touching/kneading…totally not my cup of chai. I did find a couple of really good no knead sandwich bread recipes though, one from Food 52 and another I found today (I have discovered that the second recipe is actually the same as the Food 52 one, the author just changed a few things and called it her own without linking back to the Food 52 one or even acknowledging it…BAD FORM!). The Food 52 one I have made myself a few times and it’s awesome. I found this recipe and decided to try it. I subbed a little flax meal for part of the flour and also added a touch of sugar and onion powder to sweeten and flavor it a bit.

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just rested ball of flaxy dough

It was easy enough to make with my stand mixer and my new cookware is almost like cast iron so I just used my medium skillet to cook. This also gave me a chance to use my tapered french rolling pin. I bought it ages ago and then left it in the packaging until today.

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I am winning at making this one quite circular

I didn’t have my pan hot enough so mine took longer than 1 minute per side to cook for the first couple.

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shockingly, this was the last one I rolled, and my rolling pin fu had clearly left me. I cooked it first so I could eat the evidence of my failure

I then decided to watch the video and realized I needed my temp higher. Seriously people, if you make a recipe to post online, make sure all your instructions are written in the post as well as on a video…IF you make videos of your recipes.

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the final products happily resting on the counter

This was so easy to do that I plan to make flatbread to go with soups from now on. I can make them while the soup simmers and the recipe is perfect for our family of four. I can also attest to the yumminess of said recipe as I am currently snarfing the misshapen one which I spread with a little spicy pepper chutney some fresh baby spinach leaves and a little crumbled feta. NOM.

*UPDATE* I have made this bread a second time and used All-Purpose instead of bread flour (which is what I used the first time). I think I like it better with the All Purpose. It goes together so fast that it’s not like the gluten has much time to form anyway with the Bread Flour.

Baking, Baking, Baking

Just a couple photos of some things I baked yesterday & today. No recipes since these were made using just regular recipes that I changed nothing about. Actually, here is the one I used for the cake. I actually used less sugar in mine, maybe an 1/8th cup for the caramelized top and only 1/2 cup in the cake itself…all brown sugar. The recipe for the meringue came from Rabid Hyena the Younger’s Culinary Arts lesson, and it was a typical meringue recipe, just using 7 freaking egg whites. 7 egg whites makes a metric fuckton of meringue, let me tell you.

First we have some simple vanilla meringues, made because my youngest had a Culinary Arts assignment to make a huge batch of meringue and we had to do something with it. They are pretty tasty little candies.

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I like to call them Angel Poop Cookies

Then we have this gorgeous mess that I decided to craft at 4:30 this morning for some ungodly reason. Should make for a nice breakfast though.

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This is just a blood orange upside-down cake.

Spinach-Artichoke Rotini

This is practically a non-recipe as it is so dead easy to make. I wanted to use up some frozen veg I had and also make a decent vegetarian meal that was not a curry – we had chicken tikka last night. This is what I concocted:

1 bag of frozen, creamed spinach (Birdseye makes one)

1 can of quartered artichoke hearts, diced

Italian spices (I used one from Costco called Rustic Tuscan Spices…has garlic in it as well)

1 – 12 oz box of high fiber rotini pasta, cooked and drained

1-2 tbl butter

3/4 cup of 2% milk

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 shredded mozzarella cheese

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On medium-low heat, gently cook diced artichokes and frozen, creamed spinach in a saute pan. As the creamy chunks start to melt, slowly add the milk a drizzle at a time, mixing between drizzles. Add the spices and stir well, still gently heating.

Boil or pressure cook pasta and drain. Return the pasta to the boiling or pressure cooker pan and add butter, mixing until it all melts in.

Allow veg mix to cook through, upping the temp slightly. Add cheese and stir to mix and melt.

Toss pasta with veg mix and serve.

You might want to season with some salt & pepper as well, I let everyone season their own as I do the low sodium thing.

SpinArti

Carrots & Greens Under Pressure

Did you know there are really no decent synonyms for pressure used in the cooking sense? I know! It’s practically scandalous. There might be a few, but none that I found in my quick 3 minute perusal of thesaurus.com, so this is the title you are stuck with. Live with it’s overused triteness!

I find myself with a plethora of greens, collard and kale to be exact, and an overabundance of carrots. I always seem to have an overabundance of carrots as my local Door to Door Organics loves to send them to me. The full-sized ones usually find their way into stews, soups or juice eventually. The baby ones are more of a hassle. I hate messing with cutting them and so almost always use them whole. They roast up well. At any rate, I found myself with 2 bags of them plus the greens and decided it was high time I tried this recipe. Naturally, I could not follow that to the letter and this is what I devised:

1 tbl extra virgin olive oil

3 slices of Ozark Sandwich Bacon, diced (this is something made by a local farm, if you cannot find anything like it, just use spiral sliced ham or canadian bacon)

1/2 of a medium sized red onion, sliced

1 small bunch of Lacinato kale, large stems removed, diced

1 small bunch of collard greens, large stems removed, diced

3-4 cloves of garlic, roughly minced

1 bag of baby carrots (I think the typical size is a pound)

1/2 cup water (the other recipe calls for chicken broth, but since I added the salty meat to mine, I opted for a no sodium cooking liquid)

drizzle of sherry or white wine

1-2 tbl of balsamic vinegar

1-2 squirts of sriracha

1-2 healthy drops of agave syrup

1 tbl butter (whenever I use butter, please know it is ALWAYS the unsalted variety, and I did this long before I had to watch my sodium. I have a firmly held anti-salted butter conviction.)

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Prepare all the veg and meat (remembering to snap photos of everything this time.)

yeah, you don’t get a photo of the carrots as I just ripped open the bag and dumped. no prep.

Stop to charge your stupid iPhone.

Add olive oil to the pressure cooker pan and set to sauté. Sauté onion until it starts to get a little color, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic & bacon and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until you render most of the fat on the bacon. Deglaze pan with a little drizzle of white wine or sherry.

that second shot is honestly the least steamy one I could manage.

Turn off the instant pot and add greens, carrots & water. (What I did was put half my greens on top of the sautéd stuff, dumped the carrot in, then added the other half of the greens).

Cover, make sure your spew nozzle is closed, press Manual and set the timer for 8 minutes.

Mix the balsamic with the sriracha & agave and set aside. Go read a book, watch TV, play a game or peruse old Graham Norton videos on youtube.

Once the cooker beeps, vent the pressure then open the lid. Toss the veg with the spicy balsamic & butter. You can add more seasoning here if you wish (coughcoughSALTcough) I did not, but then I am on a low sodium diet. Devour at will.

Greens 011

The original recipe I riffed off of for this has it as a side dish, but for me – with the inclusion of the meat – it’s a main. Another thing…the original recipe didn’t have much pre-cooking of the onions, but I am a HUGE fan of caramelization. Get some color on that shit, yo! There be flavor in that browning.

Quick & Easy Thai Curried Pumpkin Soup

It’s cold out, it’s also Saturday and I am feeling lazy, but also cheap. Cheap and lazy is never a good combo unless one is talking a semi-healthy soup. This is what I created.

1-2 tbl coconut oil

2 tbl thai red curry paste

1/4 of a truly enormous vidalia onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 – 15 oz cans of pumpkin (NOT pie filling)

1 can of fire roasted, diced tomatoes

2 cans of vegetable broth

1/2 cup of soy or almond milk

drizzle of sherry or water

Allow coconut oil to melt in pressure cooker pan (set cooker to saute, the default of medium is fine). Once the oil is hot, add diced onion and saute until it starts to color.

PumpkinThai 001worst photo, ever. I swear the onions were starting to maillard!

Add minced garlic and saute another minute more before adding curry paste.

PumpkinThai 002this was right before I added the sherry and mixed it around

Allow the spices to become fragrant (about 1-2 minutes) then deglaze pan with a drizzle of either sherry or water. Let the mixture simmer a bit, for maybe 2-3 minutes then add the broth, tomatoes and pumpkin, whisking until smooth.

Cover, making sure that the vent release is closed. Set pressure cooker on Manual and the timer for 6 minutes. Once it beeps, vent, open and stir in the milk sub. Season with sea salt at your discretion.

PumpkinThai 003  so orange!

Serve. I served this with some small, soft baguettes that I toasted. Delicious.

Acorn-Potato-Corn Chowder

It’s cold and miserable out. Below freezing and it’s been sleeting & snowing all day. I had previously decided I did not want to cook tonight and had informed the men folk that they needed to scrounge for dinner. Then I got a wild hair up my ass to make soup…again. This is what I did:

1 tbl extra virgin olive oil

pulp from one small acorn squash that has been pressure cooked and mashed

4 cups of low sodium chicken stock

2 cans of cream style corn

1 cup of 2% milk

1 – 4 oz package of applewood smoked bacon instant mashed potatoes

herb seasonings of your choice (I used some archer farms everyday seasoning)

1/2 of a large red onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/8 cup of brandy for deglazing

1-2 tbl butter

the merest drizzle of agave syrup

salt & pepper to taste

Turn the baby dragon (aka Instant Pot pressure cooker) to saute and add the olive oil. When it starts to get hot, add onion and stir well to coat with oil. Allow to saute for about 2 minutes then add the garlic. WHen things start to get a little color and the onion bits are beginning to stick, add the brandy to deglaze. Scrape in the squash pulp and mix well. Add stock, corn and seasonings.

Close the lid, shift the vent nozzle closed and set the baby dragon on Manual and the time for 5 minutes. When you hear the the tell-tale beep, shut off the pot and vent. Once Dragolet has vented his spleen, open and stir well. Add the cup of milk, potatoes, butter and agave and whisk until blended, adding salt & pepper at your discretion.

AcornChowder 001

I did not add any additional salt to this as I figured the corn, stock and potaotes had more than enough, however, I did add a shake of white pepper.

Sorry for the lack of photos, but I wasn’t sure I was going to blog this until I was done and it turned out so very nice.