Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lemon Marmalade

Last time I went to visit my parents, we consumed record amounts of lemon marmalade. The record was broken not only because we ate a lot of the stuff but because I had never had it before. My mom purchased a jar from either local farm stand or the Vancouver Farmers Market, I don't remember which, but I do remember that is was phenomenal. I have only had orange marmalade, but the lemon is much brighter, fresher and lets face it, less common (aka more awesome). I have never seen it for sale anywhere else, but this month in Bon Appetit, a lemon marmalade recipe was published alongside a fresh lemon pannacotta and I purchased lemons the next time I was at the store. This super simple recipe, has 3 ingredients and one of those is water. Similar the the one we had at my parent's, this marmalade does not have any pectin in it. Therefore, it has a more liquid, syrupy consistency. It is bursting with bright lemon flavor, and maintains a great sweet to tart balance. It can be eaten just like jam but it also makes an amazing sauce for ice cream, cheesecake or as the experts suggest pannacotta.
Lemon Marmalade adapted from Bon Appetit

Yield: 2/3 cup lemon marmalade.

3 large lemons
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup water

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the outermost lemon skin off of the lemon from end to end.
2. Juice enough of the flesh to measure 1/3 of a cup; reserve.
3. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add lemon peel; boil for 5 minutes. Drain; repeat two more times. Drain the peel and let it cool; Slice lengthwise into thin strips, then crosswise in half.
4. In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir in sugar, reserved 1/3 cup lemon juice until the sugar dissolves. Add peel, bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup, about ten minutes. If you have a candy thermometer, it should read 225 degrees fahrenheit.
5. Pour into an airtight jar or container and keep in the refrigerator.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Heidi Swanson's Egg Quesadillas

Even since Heidi Swanson posted these quesadillas, with a twist, I have been eating them at least once a day. Maybe for breakfast, maybe for a light dinner it doesn't really matter, they are quick, delicious, healthy and a new unique way to make a quesadilla, or eggs. The method is totally new to me, but absolutely simple and impressive. I have been eating them with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and green onions along with Heidi's lemon zest yogurt, but the options are really endless. I often eat them just like a taco, so anything could be used as a filling, be creative, try new combinations. All you need for sure are eggs and tortillas, something we all have hidden somewhere in our fridges. Thanks to Heidi Swanson for sharing yet another amazing recipe with basic, natural, fresh food.
Awesome ingredient tip I picked up from a zine: Keep your green onions in a cup full of water and put them in a window sill that gets a lot of sun. They keep growing, I always have fresh healthy green onions on hand by letting them rejuvenate next to my kitchen window. Also those lovely eggs, the nearest one is an all natural blue-green egg, all of these eggs came fresh from the UW Farm chickens this week.
Heidi Swanson's Egg Quesadillas adapted from 101 Cookbooks

(recipe for one egg quesadilla, scale up as desired)

Zest of one small lemon
A generous dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 corn tortilla, room temperature
Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
Chopped green onion

1. Whisk the lemon zest and yogurt. Set aside.
2. Beat the egg and a pinch of salt in a small bowl, beating the egg really well until it is uniform in color.
3. Use your smallest skillet, over medium heat, add a tiny splash of oil or butter. Add the egg to the pan and let it set for just 10-15 seconds. Place the corn tortilla on top of the egg, the egg should still be a bit runny, so it can attach itself to the tortilla as it sets. When the egg has had enough time to set enough not to run, flip everything over. Sprinkle with Parmesan and green onion. cook until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is nicely browned.
4. Eat flat, or fold over like a taco. Top with the yogurt.... or salsa!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Paneer Curry with Peas

After making this recipe I really want to encourage everyone to give homemade Indian food a try. I feel like many people I know, including myself, are intimidated by the idea but after making this recipe I think that we should all rethink that stereotype. The technique is simple just add all of the ingredients to the pan in the correct order, stir frequently and allow the flavors to meld. It couldn't be easier. However, the ingredients can be hard to find and a touch mysterious but they are becoming more and more common. I love my local bulk section especially for its spices. I was able to pick up a reasonable amount of fresh cumin seeds, coriander, tumeric and garam masala in small little baggies. Paneer is an Indian cheese similar to queso fresco and can be another tricky ingredient. If all else fails, extra-firm tofu can be used as a substitute but it is a delicious, fresh tasting cheese that often be found from local producers. I got mine from my favorite University District Farmers Market cheese vendor, Appel Farms from Ferndale, WA (they also make some killer cheese curds). Okay, okay so it might take some time to track this stuff down, but once you do you will have it, or know where to get it. The horizons are getting big in the realm of homemade Indian inspired dinner.
Paneer Curry with Peas adapted from Bon Appetit

* This is a tomato based curry and the tomato flavor is very predominant, some reviewers did not enjoy this characteristic. So if you do not like a tomato heavy curry, this might not be the right curry for you.

Makes 6 servings.

2 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 pound paneer or extra-firm tofu cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes
5 tablespoons vegetable oil (or ghee if you can find it)
1 large onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 serrano chili, minced with seeds
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 to 1 cup of water
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 1/2 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas, thawed.
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Steamed basmati rice

1. Place flour in medium bowl. Add paneer to bowl; toss to coat with flour. Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Shake excess flour from paneer; add to skillet and cook until nicely browned, turning occasionally about every 4 minutes. (I used chopsticks to flip my pieces.) Transfer paneer to a paper towel lined plate; set aside. Wipe out skillet.
2. Add remaining 3 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and stir until aromatic, about 1 minutes. Add the finely diced onion, and cook until beginning to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
3. Add minced garlic, ground coriander and minced serrano chile with seeds; stir for 1 minute.
4. Add crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup water and tumeric, bring to a simmer.
5. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until the mixture thickens slightly and flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. If the curry gets too thick, add extra water a little bit at a time.
6. Gently stir in the peas and cooked paneer. Stir occasionally until the paneer is heated through, about 5 minutes.
7. Gently stir in the garam masala and cilantro, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with basmati rice.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Matzo Crack(ers)

All I have to say is thank goodness for holidays and birthdays. Without them there would not be such excellent reasons to make the most delicious, addictive, butter laden snacks. I made them this week for a friend's birthday but these Chocolate Caramel Matzo Crack(ers) are also perfect Passover, which starts next week. Matzo crackers are widely available during Passover, and while I have never had these at a Passover Seder, I was recently informed that chocolate covered matzos are commonly enjoyed and I don't see why almonds, homemade caramel and a little salt can't be added as well. I plan on bringing these to every Seder I attend for the rest of my life because they are that amazing. They are so good you need to bring them to a social event or you will eat a ridiculous quantity of them, and your friends will love you even more for providing them with a sample of this very special treat.
Chocolate Caramel Matzo Crack(ers) were first created by Marcy Goldman, I discovered it on Smitten Kitchen.

4 to 6 sheets matzo crackers or approximately 40 Saltine crackers
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
A big pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted sliced almonds (optional)
Extra sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil.
2. Line the bottom of the baking sheet with matzo crackers or Saltines, covering all parts. (This can be rustic, matzos will need to be broken to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. Either attempt to break them into even lines, or just piece together broken pieces so you cover as much of the pan as possible. Mine were broken when I opened them (sad), but it gave me a lot to work with to fill in all the space.
3. In a medium heavy-duty sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring frequently and thoroughly. Remove from heat, add the salt and then quickly pour it over the crackers. Use a rubber spatula to quickly spread the caramel evenly, it will start to set as soon as it is poured.
4. Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes. Check frequently, if the corners start to darken to0 quickly/burn, rotate the pan and reduce the heat.
5. Remove from oven and immediately cover in chocolate chips. Let stand for five minutes, and then spread evenly across the caramel. (An offset spatula would be great here, but a regular spatula also works well.)
6. Sprinkle with sea salt and almonds, if using.
7. Let cool completely, this process can be sped up by placing the crackers in the fridge. Break into rustic crackers and store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lemon-Raspberry Yogurt Cake

After reading Why French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guilian in February and discovering the many varieties of luxurious Greek and European style yogurts, I have been eating copious amounts of plain yogurt. Mireille suggest plain yogurt as a healthy snack, plain yogurt people, not that sugar-laden-artificially-flavored-substance disguised as yogurt. I love a good bowl in the morning sprinkled with granola, or a dessert of yogurt mixed with cinnamon and honey. Plain yogurt is also phenomenal for its versatility, I love using it in baked goods. This cake is enhanced by the subtle tangyness of the yogurt that combined with lemon zest adds an incredible brightness to this cake. It is incredibly moist and especially refreshing with the addition of fruit sprinkled throughout every slice.
Lemon-Raspberry Yogurt Cake adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who got it from Ina Garten.

This cake is a great base and it can be altered and adapted many different ways. I look forward to a lemon-blueberry version, and a lime or grapefruit version! For more ideas see Deb's list of superb lemon cake suggestions.

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from about 2 large or 3 small lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup frozen or fresh raspberries
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree fahrenheit, liberally grease a standard loaf pan.
2. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In another large bowl whisk the yogurt, 1 cup of sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil.
3. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
4. Toss the raspberries with the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, it may take up to 60 minutes, check frequently. When a wooden skewer or thin knife place in the center of the loaf comes out clean, it is done.
6. Meanwhile, combine the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar in a bowl. Set aside and allow the sugar to dissolve.
7. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack, clean cutting board or serving dish. Using a pastry brush, drizzle the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake. Poking holes with a toothpick on top of the cake will help draw the syrup into the cake better. Cool and enjoy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Swiss Chard and Leek Pancakes

Spring is officially upon us and it is no more exciting than down at the UW Farm. We have been preparing the remaining beds, starting flats of seeds and planting starts as fast as we can. And even more exciting, is that some overwintered crops and spring greens are ready for harvesting now. Our very first experimental asparagus bed is shooting up delicate green spears, peas are starting to climb up their student-built trellises and the rhubarb stalks are getting bigger by the day. I brought home a few overwintered leeks and some beautiful bunches of Swiss chard leaves this week and made these quick pancakes for an easy weeknight dinner. These can be made with just about any leafy green, or fresh herb and they are a great way to turn your fresh spring produce in a filling meal.
Swiss Chard and Leek Pancakes adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Swiss Chard Pancakes from Around my French Table, also seen here.

Makes about 40 5-inch pancakes: 12 side-dishes or 8 main-course meals.

2 cups of whole milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, sliced as thin as possible
3 green onions or chives, chopped finely
5 large or 10 small Swiss chard leaves, center ribs removed, washed, dried and sliced thinly
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil, and line a plate with paper towels.
2. Briskly whisk the milk, flour and eggs together until well combined. Stir in the leeks, green onions and Swiss chard strands. Liberally season the batter with salt and pepper.
3. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 inch of oil into a large skillet and heat the skillet to medium high heat. When the oil is hot, drop a 1/4 cup of batter into the skillet for each pancake. Do not crowd the skillet, four pancakes per batch is usually a good strategy. Cook the pancakes for about 3 minutes, until the edges of the pancake are slightly browned. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another 2 minutes or so.
4. Transfer the pancakes to the paper towel covered plate, pat off excess oil. Place them on the foil-lined baking sheet and keep warm while you continue making the pancakes with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan as necessary.

Delicious served with creme fraiche or plain yogurt!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Skillet

Seattle street carts are absolutely elusive in comparison to Portland street carts. However in terms of flavor, creativity and style, Seattle carts can give Portland a run for their money. Especially the dynamite ones like Skillet. Because of Seattle city regulations, Seattle food vendors cannot stay on one location, they are constantly on the move, which makes it rather difficult to visit them. This same effect makes it infinitely more excited to stumble across a cart in an unexpected location. This is how I found my latest meal at Skillet, I was walking home and there in the middle of the UW campus was the iconic airstream trailer serving up some of Seattle's best diner food to a line of excited patrons. I wasn't even hungry but I waited to make my order because I was not about to miss a chance to gorge myself on Skillet creations.
Skillet is the most famous for their superb burger. It is not pictured here, but I have had it before and it is one of the best burgers in the city. It is comprised of a juicy grass-fed patty, arugula, creamy blue cheese and BACON JAM. Yes, Bacon Jam, the best condiment I have ever had. Speaking of this glorious Skillet invention, I wish I had a jar right now, officially added to my gourmet shopping wish list. While is it extremely difficult to pass up any chance to eat this glorious burger, I knew Skillet had more to tantalize my taste buds with. Poutine: A Canadian dish made by covering french fries with gravy and cheese, Skillet uses cheddar cheese and adds a generous sprinkle of fresh herbs that really add bright flavor to this guilty pleasure. Special on the menu right now is a kale caesar salad. Kale is julienned finely so that is retains its hearty flavor but is still light enough for a raw salad. The kale is tossed in a pungent caesar and topped with brioche croutons.

I will continue to chase Skillet around Seattle because I have still not been able to try their, Thai fried rice with lemon grass and pork or the lentil soup with bacon and sage. And I know new seasonal specials will be popping up just like Skillet pops up around Seattle, even if is just there for a limited time, it will be delicious. I for one cannot wait until Skillet opens their full-scale restaurant on Capitol Hill. I will be in there soaking up all of the diner atmosphere I can while I make my way through the entire stationary menu.
Skillet on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Double Broccoli Quinoa

Back to something you can make and eat tonight. I have been on the road, eating hotel breakfasts that left a lot to be desired, quick meals on the road, etc. But I am back in Seattle, back in my cozy, crowded, familiar kitchen. I am back in class, and back at work, falling backing into the familiar swing of things and that means I need a good portable lunch. I must admit that I love good leftovers for lunch, something that can be stored in one container and heated up quickly in the lunchroom microwave. This is a great left over recipe. The broccoli pesto gets a chance to develop more flavor overnight, it is light but also full of protein and veggies. A great meal to get through the day with.
Double Broccoli Quinoa adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Serves 4-6

1 cup dry quinoa (will produce three cups of cooked quinoa)
5 cups raw broccoli (from about 4 small broccoli heads), cut into small florets and slice the stems

2/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 big pinches of salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup buttermilk

Optional toppings: slivered basil, sliced avocado, crumbled feta cheese, more toasted almonds or extra broccoli pesto.

1. Boil two cups of water. Add the quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes until the quinoa fluffs up and the curlique is visible in each grain. Drain any extra water and set aside.
2. Boil a few cups of water in a large pot, bring to a simmer. Add a few pinches of salt and add the broccoli florets. Cook for three to five minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove the florets and set aside. Add the broccoli stems, cook for three to five minutes, drain in a colander, set aside.
3. Make the broccoli pesto. Puree the broccoli stems (there should be about 2 cups, if not add a few broccoli florets) with 1/2 cup of the almonds, Parmesan, salt, lemon juice, olive oil and buttermilk in a food processor until smooth.
4. Toss the quinoa with 3/4 of the broccoli pesto. Top with the broccoli florets, remaining almonds, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and any other desired toppings. Season as desired with more salt or lemon juice.