Friday, February 24, 2017

Inarizushi (Seasoned Sushi Pockets)

Inarizushi are at the tip of the boat

We like to include these in our sushi parties - a nice variation that's sweet and usually a good way to get your kids to decide they like sushi, since it doesn't include anything fishy.  You can also just stuff the pockets with sushi rice or add some other toppings, but I like it this way.

1 1/2 cups rice prepared for sushi*
1-2 Tbs. minced pickled ginger
2 Tbs. chopped peanuts
1 Tbs. sesame seeds
2 dates, chopped
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
tofu pockets

Mix flavorings into rice. Squeeze most of the liquid out of the pockets.  Press into egg shape, then stuff into pocket.  Fold top over and press the whole thing together.

*For sushi rice instructions, see Sushi Bowls Recipe

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls with Lime Chipotle Dressing

Image may contain: food

One of our favorite meals has always been beans and rice, and last year I started making a more complicated version with lots of delicious toppings like sauteed peppers and onions, shredded chicken in green sauce, roasted corn, cheese, salsa, and sour cream.   I was looking for variations that would work for Zoe's mostly vegetarian and tightly budgeted house, and came across a lot of recipes that included sweet potatoes.  This is the version I came up with after looking at several.  I think it turned out great!

Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls with Lime Chipotle Dressing

For about 4 servings:


2 cups cooked black beans*
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, in strips
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in cubes.
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 sliced avocado (opt)
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro (opt)

for the dressing:
2 Tbs. sour cream
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
2 Tbs. lime juice
1/4 tsp. paprika (smoked if you have it)
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. ground chipotle powder (or some finely chopped canned chipotle)
1/8 tsp. cumin
salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  If you have one (or two), preheat a pizza stone or roasting pan. Drizzle the bell pepper and onion with about 1 Tbs. olive oil, sprinkle on a few pinches of salt and toss to coat.  Spread out on pizza stone or roasting pan or large cookie sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until they've developed some spots of brown roasted color.

Peppers and onions as they start roasting
Peppers and onions after they're roasted 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Toss the sweet potatoes in another Tbs. of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, and roast those the same way as the peppers and onions.

Mix together the dressing ingredients.

Chipotle Lime Dressing

To serve, put a scoop of rice, beans, and each of the kinds of veggies in a bowl, top with the optional avocado and cilantro, and drizzle with the dressing.

Cooked black beans
*For black beans, I cooked these in my instant pot.  3 cups of black beans, 9 cups of water, 1 Tbs. salt, 2 Tbs. dried minced onions, 2 cloves garlic, 2 dried chiles (I used Oaxacan pasilla, but the chiles are optional and you can use whatever type you prefer) and 2 dried avocado leaves (totally optional).  Pressed "beans" and did a quick release when they were done cooking.  This time I had presoaked them a few hours before cooking, and forgot to reduce the 30 minute automatic cooking time, so they're a little softer than I might prefer.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

This recipe is originally from Joanne Wheatley, from the Great British Bake-Off.  It has a mixing method I haven’t tried before in a cake batter, where you blend the dry ingredients with the butter in a food processor, kind of like you would for a pie, then you mix in the liquid ingredients.  I think I didn’t blend the butter in quite enough because the batter had butter lumps in it, but they weren’t a problem in the finished cupcake.

I made her version today and it was a little too sweet for my taste.  I’d prefer a more tart orange flavor and darker chocolate.  So here is what I’d do the next time around.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

For the cupcakes
120g/4oz (1 cup) all-purpose flour
140g/5oz (2/3 cup) sugar
1 tsp baking powder
40g/1½ oz unsalted butter
50g/2oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1 free-range egg
125ml/4fl oz (1/2 cup) milk 

For the orange drizzle

2 Tbsp orange juice concentrate
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp orange liqueur or 1/2 tsp orange extract

For the white chocolate and orange buttercream

125g/4½oz unsalted butter, softened
250g/9oz icing sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
50g/1¾oz white chocolate, melted
1 orange, zest only
1 oz dark chocolate


Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until combined.

Whisk the melted chocolate, egg and milk together in a jug.

Stir the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the orange juice, concentrate, liqueur and granulated sugar together in a bowl. Carefully pour the orange juice mixture over the warm cakes and set aside to cool completely.

For the white chocolate and orange buttercream, beat the butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Carefully stir in the icing sugar and continue to beat for five minutes. Beat in the milk, melted chocolate and orange zest.

Decorate the cupcakes with the buttercream.

Use a sharp knife to make chocolate shavings from the dark chocolate and use them to decorate the cupcakes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Dragon Noodles

This is my latest discovery, and I've been making it often because it satisfies all my cravings for takeout, is fairly quick to make, and is easily adaptable to whatever ingredients I have on hand. The sauce is sweet, tart, and spicy.

Dragon Noodles

1 pkg tofu (or cooked chicken, shrimp or beef or ground meat or skip it and add more eggs)
1/2 lb cooked noodles (spaghetti, angel hair, rice noodles -- whatever you've got)
2 cups (about) chopped vegetables (any mix of the following: carrot, celery, broccoli, snap or snow peas, shelled edamame, cabbage, onion, green onion, mushroom, bell peppers)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. ginger, minced

2 Tbs. chili paste
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1-2 Tbs. fish sauce
juice of 1 lime

optional garnishes:
1/4 c. chopped peanuts
1/4 c. chopped cilantro 
2 green onions, thinly sliced
If I have the time and energy, sometimes I fry or bake the tofu to give it more texture.  To fry, just cut in cubes or strips and fry until golden and crispy.  To bake, stir cubes with a little soy sauce and sesame oil (1-2 tsp each), then bake at about 425, stirring occasionally, until they're a little golden on the corners.

Mix together the sauce.  

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil (vegetable, canola, peanut) in a wok or large frying pan.  Saute the vegetables (start with carrots, celery, onion first, because they take a little longer to cook), adding the garlic and ginger about a minute or two before the rest of the vegetables will be crisp-tender.  

Push the vegetables off to one side and pour the beaten eggs into the pan.  Let them cook until they're cooked about halfway through, then give them a little stir and let them finish cooking before mixing into the vegetables.  

Pour the sauce into the pan and stir in the noodles and tofu.  Serve quickly, garnishing with peanuts and cilantro or green onions if desired.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Whole Wheat Lentil Burrito Filling

I don't make this recipe often because it's easier just to use beans, but when I make it we all like it a lot and I wonder why I don't make it more.  Very healthy, cheap, easy, and delicious.  And it uses 2 things I always have on hand in my food storage: wheat and lentils.

Whole Wheat Lentil Burrito Filling

from Laurel's Kitchen

1 1/2 cup cooked whole wheat berries (see other post about cooking whole wheat berries)
1 cup dry lentils
1 quart tomatoes (or 28 oz. can) plus their water, diced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 cup water as needed

Mix all together and cook until lentils are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.   Use as a filling in flour tortillas.  You can top it with cheddar or jack cheese, olives, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, shredded cabbage, etc.

Mint Chocolate Brownies

Mmmmm.  So good.  I made these using my zucchini brownie recipe, but you can use your favorite brownie recipe.

Mint Icing Layer
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tbs. milk
1 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1 drop green food coloring

Mix together until smooth and well blended. Spread over cooled brownies.

Ganache Layer
1/3 c. butter
1 heaping cup chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli's 60% dark)

Microwave together in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted.  Spread gently over mint icing.  Allow it to set before slicing.  For neater edges, wipe blade between cuts.


speeding up the cooling time with an ice-water bath
A few years ago I bought some lovely vanilla maple yogurt from an Amish woman at a farmer's market in western New York. It was so delicious that it inspired me to start making yogurt again, and to make some of it vanilla maple flavor.

I've found that if I get the temperatures just right, I can make a nice, mild and thick yogurt.  It's not as thick as, say, Yoplait, which to me has a gelatinous consistency, but it's thick enough to mound up on the spoon. I love to have it for breakfast stirred into some plain rolled oats and topped with a fruit salad (lately it has been strawberries, bananas, mango, blueberries...). Last time I flavored some with cardamom and honey, which was also quite lovely with the fruit. (How many times can I say lovely in one post? I'm not sure why that seems the right word to describe this yogurt). It's just so much better than the stuff I buy. This last time around I mixed a quart of the plain with passion fruit juice concentrate from the Asian store and made a fantastic passion fruit frozen yogurt and pretended that we were at Razzy Fresh and topped it with chopped mango and strawberries and bananas.  I also love to have plain yogurt as a dessert with fresh fruit., or for breakfast with homemade granola and fruit.  Or I make refrigerator oatmeal or smoothies with it.

I've been making it in half gallon batches, because that does four pint jars. which fit in my Instant Pot.  Sometimes I do single-serving sized jam jars. I can flavor each jar separately. Some with homemade peach jam, some with maple and vanilla, some plain, and some with cardamom and honey. It's all good! And it lasts at least 3 weeks as long as I leave the lids on tight.

For my starter I've been using greek yogurt lately because it has more types of bacteria and seems to make a slightly thicker yogurt.

When culturing the yogurt, it's important to keep the temperature within a specific range.  You want to keep the water around 115 degrees.  Over 122 it curdles, under 110 it doesn't set fast enough. (If the temperature is too low, it will take too long and get sour before it gets thick. If too high, it will get a curdled texture, and higher than that will kill the good bacteria and it won't work at all). There are lots of different methods for keeping it the right temperature.  I recently got an Instant Pot with a yogurt setting that keeps it warm enough to set if I start with the water at 120 and it's not too cold of a day.  My mom puts a pot filled with warm water (120) and a plastic container of yogurt in her "magic box", which is basically a cardboard box filled with newspaper  to insulate the pot.  She sometimes has to heat the water a little midway through the culturing time.  I have in the past wrapped a pot in towels and reheated the water periodically.   Depending on the temperature (lower temps set more slowly), it should be thickened in 5-6 hours.  The longer it takes, the more tart the yogurt will be.

So, here's the simple version of the recipe:

Homemade Yogurt

In a large pan, bring milk to 175 degrees, stirring frequently. Let it cool to 120 degrees. Stir in 1/4 cup plain yogurt  per quart of milk. (I've found that a 6 oz. container of greek yogurt works fine for 2 quarts.)  Pour it into clean jars. Screw on the lids (labeled if you're doing different flavors), and place gently into a big pot of water at 120 degrees.  Let the yogurt culture for about 5-6 hours until thickened.  Store in the refrigerator.

For flavors (enough to flavor 1 cup):
Vanilla Maple: 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup, 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Jam: 1/4 cup of your favorite jam
Honey Cardamom: 1/2 Tbs. honey, 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom

sterilized jars with flavorings added, ready for yogurt

yogurt jars in pot of warm water ready to culture