Friday, 14 February 2014

A Red Salad for Valentine's Day

Beet Root Salad

• 4 good-sized beetroots, different colours if possible, scrubbed, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
• 3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into matchsticks
• 1 lemon oil dressing recipe / 3 T oil, 1 T lemon juice / 1 garlic clove
• sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• 200 g feta cheese
• 1 small bunch fresh mint, smallest leaves picked
• 1 large handful sunflower seeds, optional

Raw beetroot is amazing in salads, giving you a deep, earthy, minerally flavour, lots of crunch and, of course, incredible colours! Did you know you can get golden and stripy beetroot as well as purple? Have a look next time you're at a farmers' market or buy some seeds and grow a few yourself.

Dress the beetroot and pear matchsticks in a little of the lemon oil dressing and season with some salt and pepper.

Taste to check that the flavours are balanced and lovely, and add a little more lemon juice to check the sweetness of the pears and beetroots if you need to.

Divide the salad between four plates or put it on a big platter, crumble over the creamy white feta, and sprinkle over the baby mint leaves and the sunflower seeds if you're using them. Simple, but it's a treat and a half.

(I found the recipe on the internet, but can't give you the name of the author here, even though I have searched to find the recipe and her name again.  At any rate, I have done this recipe twice now, each time just leaving out the ingredients I don't have.  I am waiting until the farmer's market has fresh mint available or until I am at the lake, for example.   The first time I prepared this dish,  I just didn't have pears in the house but the salad was still good. Last night I put in a large apple pear and halved the recipe.  The salad is amazing -- a gourmet addition to my salad notebook.)

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Cracked Wheat Bread

Cracked Wheat Bread   (Bulgar or cracked wheat)

3/4 c.                     cracked wheat or bulgar
1 1/2c.                   boiling water
1 Tblsp.                 active dry yeast
pinch                     sugar
1/4 c.                     warm water
1 c.                         warm buttermilk
1/4 c.                     molasses
1 Tblsp.                 honey
4 Tbsp.                  butter (cut into small pieces - room temp.)
1 Tblsp.                 salt
1/4 c.                     raw sesame seeds
1 c.                         whole wheat flour
2 1/2 - 3 c.            bread flour

1.            In a bowl, place cracked wheat or bulgur and pour boiling water over it. Let sit for 1hour to soften.
2.            In a small bowl, place warm water, yeast and a pinch of sugar. This process is called proofing the yeast.  It will bubble.
3.            Combine the buttermilk, molasses, honey and butter in a bowl and set aside.
4.            In mixer, mix together the whole wheat flour, salt and sesame seeds.  Stir in the milk mixture    and stir until smooth, about 3 min.  Strain the cracked wheat and add to the flour mixture until combined.  Add the flour about a half a cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the side of the mixer.  Dough should be soft and springy, but still tacky.  Dough should spring back   when touched with finger.
5.            Let rise until double in bulk at room temp.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
6.            Divide knead and make two or three loaves, depending on the size of your bread pans.  Put into greased loaf pans.  I use shortening or lard to grease my pans. Let rise until about double in size.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
7.            Put into oven and bake for 35 - 40 min.  The loaves should be done when tapping them with    your finger sounds hollow.  Remove bread from the oven and place on racks to cool. 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Whole Wheat Spaghetti

... old tupperware, resurrected for a good cause ...
I am trying to turn over a new leaf and think about vegetables, fruit and white meat in a more complimentary light.

Not that I haven't always loved them.  But they are not even a close second to desserts which I think about all of the time.  I collect recipes I will never use, I file them by dessert category, I read them while I eat lunch.  And my supper.

Lately I have been trying to put them out of my mind and think about vegetables, fruit and white meat.  Another category has also loomed large.  Pasta.  Nutritional pasta -- made from whole wheat.  A few years ago I tried it out and thought, "Better to eat no pasta than this pasta."

But in my present state of mind, I am even trying to add that kind of nutrition back into my diet.  My friend, Pouria, says that it is possible to develop a taste for it, so much so that a person will begin to choose it over the "white stuff".

So, in the interest of making real change, I bought some whole wheat spaghetti and used it for the noodles in a dish called  "Make-Ahead Party Thai Noodles" from Anne Lindsey's Light Kitchen.(p. 165)  She says, "These are particularly suitable for a buffet or when entertinaing as they can be made in advance and reheated."

Make-Ahead Party Thai Noodles

1/2 lb spaghetti
half each sweet red and yellow pepper, cut in thin strips
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
1/3 cup chopped green onion
4 cups bean sprouts

1/4 cup rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sodium-reduced soy sauce
1 tbsp minced ginger root
1 1/2 tsp packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp chili paste or hot pepper sauce

1. In large pot of boiling water, cook pasta until tender but firm; drain.  Transfer to a 12 cup baking dish.
2. Sauce: Combine vinegar, hoisin sauce, water, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger root, sugar, garlic, mustard and chili paste.  Set one-third of the sauce aside; stir remaining sauce into noodles.
3. Stir in red and yellow peppers, coriander, onion and bean sprouts.
4. Add remaining sauce; bake, covered, in 350 F oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until hot.

Makes 8 servings

My Notes
My purpose was to get a good sauce on the whole wheat noodle.  I didn't have dry mustard and used the regular yellow mustard.  I didn't have hoisin sauce, but had black bean sauce, so made the substitution there.  I could see that the sauce is not cooked and I don't like that much fresh garlic, so I left that out.  Still, the noodles were excellent -- I am going to do this again and again with the whole wheat spaghetti I purchased (cheapest when you find it at Costco).  And I have done the requisite shopping trip to T&T groceries over at the Pacific Rim Shopping Centre to refresh my supply of hoi sin, sesame oil and dried shitake mushrooms, of which I will thrown in a few next time.

Now for the vegetables.  I just did a regular stir fry of the veggies I had in the house.  I substituted -- about 8 small carrots (but not baby) that I had julienned in my food processor (for speed); I didn't have coriander but would have loved to try it; I put in some celery.  Just do what  your family likes for a stir fry which is faster than baking everything in the oven.

Pouria and I tasted the dish.  We thought we could triple the vegetables next time.  Kelve tasted it.  He thought the dish should have 1/3 that number of vegetables.  But none of us complained about the noodles.

And here is a bonus.  Calories per serving?  168 and 2 grams dietary fibre

Just a smidgen

I don't know who else watches the cooking show, America's Test Kitchen on T.V. and its sister programme, Cooks Country. I tape them on Saturday morning and then watch them at my leisure. I like every segment, especially the Equipment Corner. A few weeks ago they tested measuring spoons, but only sets that have 1/8 teaspoon and upward. I don't have a set that as 1/8 teaspoon so I was looking for one in kitchen shops. I found one at $15. I decided to just fill my 1/4 teaspoon one-half full and save my $15.
... pinch, smidgen, dash ...

Today I got an e-mail mail with an attached picture from  Moiya.

It said:
Happy Valentine's Day
My gift to you.
Come and get it.
I can hardly wait to get back to the Shuswap and try them out in my kitchen.

I am guessing a double pinch will be 1/8th of a  teaspoon.


Home Made Greek Yogurt

things needed to make Yogurt
Desiree skyped me one day and was so eager to show me her first attempt at making yogurt. 

She held the spoon upside down and yes, it was the thickest yogurt I had ever seen.

Now I have tried at least 4 batches of yogurt in my new Excalibur Dehydrator.  My yogurt usually turns out likeYop. 

I was so proud of her, knowing her attempts at new things in the kitchen are better than her old mom's attempts.

I got good advice from her and proceeded to make it the same way she did.

Smearing the Yogurt up one side of jar.
Desiree used natural Fage Greek Yogurt.

2 Tblsp. on the bottom of each quart jar.

Using spatula; smear that Yogurt up one side of the jar.

I used "Yo -Mix" - a yogurt culture

Sprinkled about 1/8 tsp. on the bottom of the jar

1 Quart Milk
Heat up to 180 degrees
Cool to 110 degrees and pour into the quart jars.

Put into Dehydrator set at between 110 - 114 degrees
for about 6 hours. 

Refrigerate until cool to stop the incubation

This is regular Yogurt.
Home Made Greek Yogurt

To make the Greek Yogurt, you put the yogurt into a fine sieve
or use a colander lined with cheese-cloth. Save the whey as it drains.

What you see in the little black container is the Ricotta Cheese that I made from the Whey.

Bring the whey up to 200 degrees.

Cool to 140 degrees

Pour into a reusable coffee filter and drain.

Voila!   Ricotta Cheese

What whey that was left got put into the compost.

Our compost should be the best compost around now!