Friday, July 24, 2009

Cambridge Cocina

I've been a bit distracted:
Welcome to my new kitchen!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sour Cherry Clafoutis... so you don't have to.

Clafoutis seem to be everywhere this year. I finally broke down and made a whole-wheat version because I had these lovely sour cherries from the farmers' market, and I'd never had fresh sour cherries before, and every time I see a recipe for clafoutis it references the traditional Limousin Clafoutis using unpitted sour cherries.
It baked beautifully... but here's the thing: If you don't really know what to expect when some call it "custard-like" and others call it a "pancake dessert," what they mean is it's like a German pancake [which an Americanized apple kuchen]. I've never loved German pancakes, and it turns out I'm not a huge clafoutis fan either. It looks like it's going to be crunchy-crusty on top but texture's just... meh. The picture below isn't out of focus, the center is really... indistinct. I mean, it was fine and I'll slather the leftovers in maple syrup and call it breakfast, but it felt like a waste of my precious sour cherries.
Recipe: Whole-Wheat Sour Cherry Clafoutis for German Pancake Lovers
You can substitute spelt for a gluten-free clafoutis.

1 cup whole-wheat flour [or spelt]
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar (plus 1 teaspon for sprinkling over top)2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or amaretto
2 cups cherries, whole
powdered sugar, to serve [I was out]

Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a separate bowl then stir into the dry. Don't overmix, some lumps are okay. Pour into cake pan or skillet, drop fruit over the top and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake 35-40 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mint Tea

This one is super simple and super refreshing.... well it was actually simpler when I had my own herb garden, but it still only takes a brief pause in the produce section next to the leafy greens. I've done it with many variations... lemon verbena is great [particularly if you throw in a bag of orange- or peach-enhanced black tea] and thyme and lavender are lovely in small doses... but mint is my favorite.

Recipe: Mint Tea
I usually use a tea pitcher, but I don't have one at the moment and the rinsed milk jug works just fine. You can use just a leaves [5-10ish?] in a smaller pitcher

handful of mint [~1/3 of a $1 bunch, 1/2 of a $.50 bunch]
1 gallon of water, filtered if your tap water has a funky flavor

Crush mint without tearing [or you'll end up with bits in you glass] into chosen receptacle. Fill with water and cover. Let stand at room temp until water takes on light color. Refrigerate.

You can refill the water in the pitcher or jug after pouring out a few servings and the mint will continue to steep more slowly in the fridge. After 3-5 days, the tea will get as strong as it's going to get and it's best to strain the tea into another container and dump the solids.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Make Your Own Oat Flour

I use oat flour in a lot of recipes. It gives whole grain baked goods a more delicate texture -- like using cake flour -- and keeps the flavors from getting too wheat-y.
I had no idea it wasn't easy to come by.
I used to be able to find it in bulk or pre-bagged at no fewer than 5 grocery store chains (Fiesta, HEB, Central Market, Whole Foods, and Sun Harvest), the first four of which are Texas-based. I wouldn’t have thought of Texans as particularly oat-flour friendly... but I also wouldn’t have thought it’d be next to impossible to find in the Boston area. In addition to my new local chains, I checked out two geographically distant Carribean grocery stores that I thought would have it --it was in the Carribean section at Fiesta as “oat fufu” -- and didn't. I finally bought some at a food co-op around the corner, but it was poorly ground and has to be sifted before use… and if I have to pay $2.79/lb and sift it myself, I may as well make it at home. It ain't hard.
Recipe: Oat Flour
Process rolled oats in a food processor or blender until pulverized into powder. Sift using a fine mesh strainer over a bowl . Return remaining flakes to machine and process again. Store flour in an airtight container or zippered plastic bag.
[The final product still has more lumps than the prebagged stuff from Arrowhead Mills that you can usually find at Whole Foods, but it'll do the job. Come to think of it, A.M. is based in the Panhandle...]

Monday, July 6, 2009

Migas for Two

This is JG’s recipe for anyone who cherishes breakfast tacos but isn’t likely to make tortillas from scratch first thing in the morning.
If you’re not familiar with migas [literally “crumbs”], it’s eggs scrambled with broken pieces of tortilla chips… a great use for the snerds at the bottom of the bag. It’s a lot like the matzo crackers and eggs I grew up eating for breakfast during summers with LM, but it usually involves onion, chile pepper, and tomato [Mexican mirepoix] and sometimes Mexican-style chorizo or bacon. We usually omit the tomato because the juices can interfere with the egg texture… frankly, you can omit the onions and peppers and just dump salsa on top if you want something super quick. It’ll still be tasty.
We’re using up the last of our favorite tortilla chips from Austin -- yes, we brought a half full bag of chips on a month-long journey -- but we’ve also found restaurant-style, no-salt-added chips at Whole Foods that seem to be a decent substitute.

Recipe: Migas for Two
Easily doubled in a big skillet.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced pole to pole
1/2 serrano or jalepeno, thinly sliced (deseeded if you prefer)
1 slice deli ham, diced (optional)
4 eggs, lightly whisked (Julia Child used to use a chopstick)
big handful of tortilla chips, crushed to no larger than ~1/2 inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste

Sautee onions and peppers in a skillet over medium high heat until brown spots appear. Add ham and cook until just crispy. Transfer to a bowl and return the skillet to medium heat.

Add tortilla chips to the eggs then immediately pour into the skillet. Scramble until the eggs are almost set, stir in the onion mixture --not too thoroughly or you’ll break up your big beautiful curds! – remove from heat, season lightly, and divide evenly between two plates (or unevenly; JG gets 2/3 upon mutual agreement).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mole-Inspired Black Beans and Rice

Beans & Rice is my go-to weekday meal. I discovered it as dorm food. I previously had no idea those to things together could be a complete meal but there was nothing better after a stomach-roiling night. It's rather homely-looking, but it's just so good! I'm still unlikely to eat the lard-based refried beans and white rice that come as standard plate components at Tex-Mex joints... but sometimes I forget myself in their presence.
If I'm feeling lazy and have a bunch of leftover rice, I'll just open a can of beans -- usually black or pinto -- and heat them through with [maybe] a clove of garlic or can of diced tomatoes. Sometimes I start with dried beans, but I frankly don't taste much difference between the two, so I stock both and cook as I please. You can throw whatever veggies or spices you have on hand... like oregano and lemon juice with white beans for a mediterranian-ish variation.

July is cold and rainy so far in Boston and I'm missing the flavors of my former land, so I'm opting to share this spicy, mole-inspired variation of my comfort food.

Recipe: Mole-Inspired Black Beans and Brown Rice
Chipotles are dried, smoked jalepenos. You can buy them loose, or canned in what's called adobo, a thick, spicy tomato sauce. There's always at least one brand in the "Mexican Food" section at the grocery store, right next to the little cans of green chiles and the crispy taco shells. If I can find them in rural Missouri, I'm sure you can find them, too.

Brown Rice:
1 1/2 cups brown rice [I like Nishiki brand, medium grain]
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups water
Heat rice and salt over medium high heat in a saucepan, stirring occasionally, until grains start to pop and smell toasty ~2 minutes. Add water, cover, bring to the boil and turn heat to low. Simmer 50 minutes.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices deli ham, diced [optional]*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 32 oz. can of black beans [aka turtle beans]
1 tablespoon tahini [or 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, or a tablespoon of peanut butter]
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
chipotle en adobo, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup beer, preferably dark lager, preferably Negro Modelo or Bohemia

Optional toppings:
Queso fresco [or feta]
Hot pepper sauce
Minced raw onion
Fresh lime juice

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add ham pieces and stir fry until crispy ~1 minute. Add garlic, stir, then add beans and remaining ingredients. Stirring occasionally, simmer 10 minutes or until beans are thick but still pour out of a spoon. Adjust salt to taste.

Scoop rice into a bowl, top with an equal amount of beans, and top as desired.

*We used a little ham in this recipe, but you could swap it for a splash of soy to get meatless savory flavor.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Texan has Landed!

I'm here. My temporary kitchen is a little tricky. I'll do my best.