Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sichuan chili oil

The numbing sensation induced by the hydroxy-alpha sanshool in sichuan peppercorns combined with the spicy capsaicin of the pepper flakes makes this an amazing, invigorating addition to a number of foods. I personally like to add it to nearly everything.

Ingredients
1.5 cups vegetable oil
5 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp sichuan peppercorns
0.5 cup pepper flakes
1.5 tsp salt

Preparation
Heat the oil with the star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves and peppercorns in a small pan over medium heat.

When the oil starts to bubble slightly around the spices, maintain that heat on simmer. Make sure the spices are not cooked at too high of a temperature, or they may burn, resulting in an undesirable taste.

Simmer for 30 minutes. Then allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Drain out the spices and pour the oil onto the pepper flakes and the salt. Stir in. Store in the refrigerator.

Green chicken salad


A deliciously simple chicken salad served on a bed of greens.

Ingredients
0.5 cup spinach leaves
0.25 cup basil leaves
0.25 cup parsley leaves
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp mayo
3 tbsp yogurt
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
zest of half a lemon
meat from two rotisserie chicken breasts and legs
6 oz mixed greens

Preparation
Add the spinach, basil, parsley, garlic, mayo, yogurt, lemon juice and lemon zest to the blender. Blend until smooth and green.

Adjust taste with salt, more lemon juice, black pepper and more basil.


Remove the chicken from the bones. Cut into bite-size pieces. Add to a bowl. Pour on dressing and stir well.


Lay the salad greens onto two plates. Chop slightly with kitchen scissors.


Distribute the chicken salad on top. Serve.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Cranberry banana bread


I had some leftover bananas and craisins, and this was the perfect recipe to do away with them. A portion was frozen and stored for a few days, but after thawing it was still perfect.

Ingredients
0.75 cup sugar
1 stick butter
2 mashed bananas (about 1 cup)
0.25 cup milk
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
0.5 cup chocolate chips
15 oz craisins

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a loafpan with parchment paper. Grease the sides.

Mix sugar and softened butter together until completely whipped. Add the mashed banana, milk, eggs and mix well.


Add the dry ingredients, just barely incorporating them. Do not overstir. Spread into loafpan. Bake for one hour, or until it is done based on a toothpick test. Cool on a cookie rack after removed from the pan.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ratatouille


The 'rat' is an amazingly delicious vegetable stew, with a meaty flavor thanks to the browned vegetables and the texture of the eggplant. The capers add a crucial kick to this recipe.

Ingredients
1 medium eggplant
2 zucchini
1 yellow onion
2 red peppers
0.25 cup olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic
2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/3 cup drained capers
1/3 cup fresh parsley

Preparation
Cut the ends off the zucchini and eggplant. Dice into 1-inch chunks.

Peel the onion and cut into 0.5-inch cubes. Cut the peppers into 1-inch pieces. 


Heat the oil in a large, cast iron pot until nearly smoking. Add the eggplant and zucchini and season with salt and peppers. Cook, stirring often, over high heat, until the vegetables get a light brown color.


Add the onions, the peppers, and the garlic cloves minced. Cook for two minutes.


Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Stir and add the bay leaf, thyme, capers and a tsp of sugar. Bring to a boil and cover with a tight-fitting, heavy lid. Simmer on low heat for half an hour. Stir in the minced parsley leaves and remove from the heat. Serve warm with focaccia.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Asian milk bread


The softest, most sublime rolls you will ever try. Unbelievably delicious with grapefruit marmalade.

Ingredients
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
4 cups flour
1 tbsp yeast powder
1 tsp salt

Preparation
Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer. Attach the dough hook and stir for 15 minutes, occasionally scraping the sides. Adjust liquid quantity if necessary (you may need a little more milk).
Cover the bowl and allow the dough to double in size in a warm place.

Cut into 8-10 pieces. I decided to roll out a few of them and fill them with walnuts and apricot jam, cinnamon sugar, and orange and chocolate, as well as apricot jammy bits.


Others I rolled out into a circle, then rolled them up like a jelly roll, forming the edges to be pointy.


Place all seam-side-down onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Allow to proof further in a warm place, until they double in size. Score the tops. I used scissors to cut a zic-zac pattern into the top of the pointy loaves.

Preheat oven to 350F. Brush the tops of the rolls with egg wash or with heavy cream.

Bake pieces for about 15 minutes, until light brown. Cool on a cookie rack.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Butternut squash dip


A perfect orange visitor to a Halloweeen party.

Ingredients
1 medium butternut squash
14 oz canned white beans (like cannellini)
1 clove garlic
juice of one lemon
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
salt

Preparation
Cut the squash in half, remove seeds and place onto an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, cut-side-down. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for an hour.


Scoop out the roasted squash insides. Add to a food processor with the drained beans and other ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning.


Serve with tortilla chips. Garnish with some green herbs.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Rich lentil soup


In winter, I inevitably crave hearty and warm soups. This is a thick and tasty lentil soup made with some leftover potatoes for extra calories.

Ingredients
2 cups lentils
3-4 medium potatoes
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
2 jalapenos
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
0.5 tsp turmeric
1 packet chicken bouillon
1 lemon
6 cups water
salt
pepper

Preparation
Dice the jalapenos and the onions into tiny cubes. Mince the garlic

Peel the potatoes and cut into 0.5-inch cubes. Wash the lemon and cut in half.

Saute the onion in a tbsp of vegetable oil. Add the jalapenos and the garlic with the powdered spices. Cook for a minute.


Add the lentils, lemon, and the potatoes, as well as the water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the lentils and potatoes are cooked. Remove the lemon halves and discard. Season with salt and pepper.

Chocolate orange babka


Chocolate and orange are a magical combination. When I discovered an about-to-expire jar of candied European orange peel in my refrigerator, sold by King Arthur Flour Co, I set out to search for an ultimate chocolate orange dessert inspiration.

Ingredients
2.5 cups flour
1.5 tsp yeast
0.5 cup hot water
1 tsp Kosher salt
2 tbsp honey
0.25 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
zest of an orange
1 tsp vanilla extract

40 g of orange dark chocolate
4 tbsp butter
0.25 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
candied orange peel

3 tbsp orange juice
3 tbsp sugar

Preparation
Mix the yeast with 0.5 cup of flour, then add in the hot water to combine. Allow to rise for 40 minutes.

Add to the bowl the salt, honey, oil, egg, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Mix well, then add the remaining two cups of flour. Mix and knead for a few minutes, until smooth. I used a kitchenaid.


Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to double in size in a warm place.


Meanwhile, melt the butter and the chocolate together, using a microwave with 20 second heating periods. Stir in the sugar and the cocoa powder.

Punch down dough and roll out into a 10 by 15 inch rectangle. Spread the filling on top, leaving a 1 centimeter border.


Sprinkle with candied orange peel. Starting on the short end, roll into a tight jelly-roll shape. Transfer onto parchment paper and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Cut into half lengthwise.


Braid, with the chocolatey part facing up and place into a parchment paper-lined loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 60-90 minutes in a warm place.


Preheat the oven to 375F and bake the loaf for 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare a syrup from the orange juice and the sugar, bringing it to a simmer until the sugar dissolves.

Remove the baked loaf from the oven and brush with the orange syrup. Allow to sit in the pan until cooled. Slice and serve!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Ajvar


A delicious pepper spread popular throughout the Balkan countries, ajvar is my favorite food the consume in Macedonia. Spread on bread and served with some Feta cheese, or any one of the many salty, white, creamy cheeses available in the country, this food is truly addictive.

Ingredients
10 pounds of red peppers
1 cup vegetable oil
salt

Preparation
Remove the seeds from the peppers and broil them until charred. Move them into a bowl and cover with a lid. Allow to steam. This will make it easier to remove the skins.

Peel the peppers and puree in a food processor. 


Add the peppers and the oil into a pot, add 1 tsp salt. Cook, stirring until it thickens and it appears done.


Scoop into jars and seal. Store refrigerated until eaten.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Nut-stuffed delicata squash


A delicious vegetarian recipe! Very filling and the texture is very pleasing. Delicata squash is always a hit.

Ingredients
2 delicata squash
2/3 cup mixed nuts
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh sage
1/3 cup yogurt
2 eggs
1 tbsp maple syrup
0.25 cup Parmesan cheese
0.25 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter

Preparation
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Flip onto the baking sheet, cut-side-down. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile sautee the minced onions in the butter until softened. Chop the sage finely.


Pulse the nuts in a food processor to a coarse grind. Add the crushed garlic and the salt to the softened onions. Cook for a minute.


Stir in the sage and cook until fragrant. Stir in the nuts and set aside,


In a bowl combine the yogurt, whisked eggs, parmesan, and maple syrup. Stir in the nut and onion mix.

Distribute the nut mixture into the prebaked four squash halves.


Bake for another 30-40 minutes, until slightly browned on top.

Walnut apricot jam pastry


These were delicious and perfect to use up some leftover ground walnuts I brought with myself from Hungary. The shapes were really fun as well.

Ingredients
3.5 tbsp butter
0.5 cup milk
0.25 cup water
1 tsp yeast
2.25 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
0.25 tsp salt
1 cup ground walnuts
2-3 tbsp sugar
0.5 cup apricot jam

Preparation
Bloom the yeast in the water with a small portion of the sugar. Add in the flour, salt, melted butter.

Warm the milk and add to the bowl as well, with the remaining sugar. Knead for 5 minutes and allow to double in size covered, in a warm place.


Cut into six equal portions. Roll out each portion to 1/8-inch-thick rectangle.


In a bowl mix the ground walnuts, jam, and sugar. Spread one sixth of the mixture onto the rolled out dough sheets. Roll up each like a jelly roll. Then twist it into a snail shape.


Place onto a parchment paper-line cookie sheet. Allow to double in size.


Using scissors, cut each to allow air to release during baking. Optionally, brush with egg wash for a glossy finish. Bake at 350F until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Cool on a cookie rack.