Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stout Pizza for the Ultimate Pizza Party Joy

Stout? Say what?!? Yes, stout. The rich, dark, chocolatey beer—the kind I actually make from scratch from time to time. Add stout beer to your homemade pizza dough instead of water, and you—and the lucky loved ones you serve your stout pizza to—will be amazed. Wow, that's delicious crust, they will exclaim. The stout is the secret ingredient no one will be able to place, but it lends a savory yumminess that makes the crust irresistible.

Last night, my four-year-old and I made stout pizza dough and then had a "pizza party" and each composed our own small pizza. Hate to tell you, but it was the best darn pizza I have ever tasted. And believe me, I have made plenty of not-so-great pizza before in my life. In fact all of it—until now. Here's the secret recipe:

Stout Pizza Dough

1 cup stout beer (drink the remaining few ounces from the bottle while you are prepping the dough!)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (or brown sugar, if you don't have it)
1 teaspoon salt (I prefer Vege-sal--it has less sodium and plenty of veggie flavor--it's more like vegetable broth powder)
2 1/2 cups unbleached wheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast

If using a bread machine, toss all the ingredients in and be sure to choose the Dough cycle. After two hours, your dough will be finished.

If making by hand, pull out a couple of tablespoons of the stout beer and warm it up lightly in the microwave (it should be warm to touch and not at all hot). Mix in the yeast until it dissolves. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, kneading for about 15 minutes or until the flour is well-mixed and the butter is harmoniously spread throughout the dough. Let rise until double in bulk.

Oil your baking pan or pans with olive oil. Sprinkle some flour over the dough before handling. Work the dough lightly between your hands to spread it out into the shape of the pan. Lay the pizza dough onto the pan, and spread it to the edges. Let it rest for 15 minutes, and then drizzle on a bit of olive oil to coat.

Pizza Party
  1. Assemble your ingredients in different small bowls
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit
  3. Put a spoon into the marinara sauce
  4. Be sure to grate plenty of mozzarella cheese (4 cups or more).
  5. Let each party participant add sauce, leaving a rim around the pizza for the crust
  6. Each persons composes their own toppings
  7. Lastly, cover the pizza with cheese
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly brown

Suggested Toppings
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Pickled jalapeno peppers (raw jalapenos are great, but may be too strong for most folks)
  • Mango chunks (you will not believe how FANTASTIC mango is on pizza)
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Ham strips
  • Pepperoni
  • Ground beef
  • Fried tofu
  • Sliced portobello or white mushrooms
  • Artichoke chunks
  • Ripe olive slices
  • Sundried tomatos
  • Fresh tomato slices

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Make This Easy, Quick Chinese Dish for Your Loved Ones and You Will Be a ROCK STAR!

Quick! What are your favorite Chinese restaurant dishes? Can you make any of them from scratch? I didn't think so. Well, now you canand win accolades and glory—without going through a lot of trouble. I'm talking about the much-loved Egg Fu Yong. (Also spelled Egg Fu Young, Egg Foo Yong, or any of many permutations. In Japan, it's known as Kanitama.) You know what I am talking aboutsavory, light eggs with that indescribable something luscious and that to-die-for light sauce. You won't believe how simple this is to doeven a fledgling cook can make it easily!

It's an Egg. It's an Omelet. It's Egg Fu Yong!
Egg fu yong is basically an omelete, only it doesn't have to be as pretty. My favorite way to eat it is with crab as the meat of choice, but you can use whatever meat or tofu you have on hand. The sauce is a breeze
—it's your basic gravy recipe. As with most of the foods I write about, the creation is simplewhat's hard is making sure you have the ingredients on hand, like dried shiitake mushrooms (a great staple item that lasts forever), and crab (which isn't easy to have on hand fresh, but you can get good canned crab meat in cans, or better yet, in jars).

Stir-fry and Conquer
Heat one tablespoon vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet (you do NOT need a wok). Stir-fry a couple of stalks of sliced celery and a half a cup of peas until tender in the skillet. You can use other veggies, or course. Traditionally, Egg fu yong calls for bamboo shoots, which are yucky in their most available form
canned. My thought is that it's the crunchy texture that counts, and better to have a fresh alternative veggie (celery) than a canned traditional one (as a matter of fact, that's more or less my philosophy of life). Now, if you are lucky enough to have access to fresh bamboo shoots (Yude-takenoko, in Japanese), then your Egg fu yong will be the most perfect of alljust lightly steam and shred 1 small fresh bamboo shoot.

In a microwave-proof cup or bowl, put a handful of dried shiitake (black) mushrooms in a couple of tablespoons of water. Heat on high for one minute, until the mushrooms are softened.

It's About the Omelet
Add another tablespoon of vegetable oil to the skillet. Stir in six lightly beaten eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt (I prefer Vege-sal vegetable salt, but it's all good), 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 cup chicken stock, and one can or jar of crab meat (about 6 ounces), making sure to pick out any cartilage. (Again, you can substitute a cup of cooked meat or cubed tofu for the crab.) Add in the shiitake mushrooms, and cook over medium-low heat as the crab omelet sets (it takes a while for the egg to set because of the extra liquid of the chicken stock, but it's worth it). Roll the pan to one side and gently lift the omelet to encourage the loose egg to flow to the pan so it can get cooked. When there is enough egg cooked to give the omelet a foundation, gently lift half of the omelet and fold it on top of itself.

Don't Stress about How It Looks
Because this is a huge, six-egg omelet, it's not going to be picture-perfect. Do not worry
Egg fu yong is never pristine like a French omelet might be. When the omelet is firm enough (be sure it's not browning on the bottomif so, turn the heat down), flip it gently. If it tears, that's OKjust make sure it's cooked though without being stiff.

Yummy Egg Fu Yong Sauce
While the omelet is cooking, heat a cup of chicken stock in a small sauce- or gravy-pan. Add 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. In a small bowl, stir a couple of tablespoons of water into 2 teaspoons of corn starch until smooth. Pour this into the chicken stock mixture, stirring constantly to avoid the dreaded "gravy lumping" effect. Keep stirring for a minute until the sauce thickens, and then remove it from heat.

Ready to Rock, Crab-lovers!
Divide the omelet among the hungry guests (serves two or three), preferable served half on and half off steaming hot white rice (we love Jasmine rice). Drizzle the sauce on top and serve immediately with steamed veggies (especially broccoli). You can also pour the sauce over the veggies, and thus not have to season them at all. Voila! A beautiful, simple, and elegant meal, ready in a flash.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Honey Of An Herbal Tea

I've never been a big fan of herbal teas for the simple reason that they taste so...well...herbal. Grassy. Weak. It's a matter of personal preference, tied directly to two ingredients that seem to appear in a majority of herbal teas -- rosehips and hibiscus. Together or separate, they each make me nauseous.

Which is why this tea --Peach Apricot Honeybush from Celestial Seasonings -- caught my attention at the natural grocery. Herbal, caffeine free, and no rosehips or hibiscus.

I was delighted by the natural sweetness of this smooth tea. Neither overpowering nor bland, this is one of the few teas that I will drink without honey (because it isn't needed). At the end of a hard day, when a warm cup of comfort is needed, I will add a splash of Silk soymilk.

This unique South African ingredient can also be found in Tazo Honeybush tea. Like the Celestial Seasonings tea, the Tazo tea needs no additional sweetener and works well with or without a splash of (soy)milk. Both teas are wonderful iced.

For a sweeter, more dessert-oriented tea, check out Revolution Honeybush Caramel tea. Definitely better hot than iced, this tea served with a bit of milk (especially vanilla soymilk) is perfect when you get a late-night, pre-bedtime craving for something sweet.

All three teas can be found online, at natural food stores, and mainstream grocers.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Want Super-easy Gourmet? Ginger Pork to the Rescue

Super-easy, super delicious, and not a bit ordinary—at least on this side of the planet, none other than Butano Shogayaki, or Gingered Pork.

Why is shogayaki so great? That inscrutable ginger flavor
flash-cooked into the porkyum! Irresistible. Now, I tried making shogayaki using turkey meat, and, while yummy, it didn't pack the same punch. The fat and savoriness of pork makes it the ideal accompaniment to ginger. This same dish is also made with beef, but again, pork rules the ginger universe.

The dish takes all of, oh, 15 minutes from preparation to plating, so have all your other dishes ready to head to the table before you cook the shogayaki.

Tonight I served shogayaki over a bed of spinach with sliced cucumbers doused with rice wine vinaigrette and topped with sesame seeds, accompanied by miso soup, and onigiri rice balls I made using shiso leaves (shiso is Japanese mint, also known as perilla or beafsteak plant), umeboshi plum pickles, and shisofumi furikake (shiso-flavored rice seasoning). A lovely, easy, light, and interesting meal. Great for leftovers too.

Here's how to do make Butano Shogayaki:

  • 1 pound thinly sliced pork. If you can't find it thinly sliced and cannot slice it yourself, buy pork cutlets and slice those into thin strips. This works almost as well.
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger root juice (takes about 2" of grated ginger to squeeze out 2 tablespoons of juice)
  • 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons sake
  • 2 tablespoons oil (if you have lard or bacon fat, now is a great time to use it!)


Mix ginger juice, soy sauce, and sake in a bowl. Marinate pork for five minutes, stirring to distribute the juices. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Stir-fry the pork slices on medium heat just until cooked through, but no more. This should take only four or five minutes.

Served ginger pork (and its juices) over a bed of shredded fresh cabbage or spinach or lightly sauteed mung bean sprouts.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Berry White

Ever since Adagio got me hooked on white tea, I'm constantly surveying local store shelves to see if anyone else is trying their hand at this variety. I'm finding that, as with books, you can never have too many boxes of tea on your shelf.

Recently, I found a new white tea on the shelf at a health food store. I liked the name -- Berryblossom White -- and its promise of "hints of blueberry and white cranberry flavor" (I love cranberries). Produced by Portland, Oregon-based Tazo, I didn't think I could go wrong if I tried it.

This turned out to be a delightful tea. Neither the blueberry nor the white cranberry overpower each other or the tea in general. Instead, they work together to provide just the right touch of sweetness -- not too sweet for people who don't like sweet tea and just sweet enough for people who usually have to use a little honey. It works equally well as a steaming cup of afternoon or late-night relaxation (no milk needed) and as a glass of iced tea anytime.

A box of 24 filterbags cost $4.95 at Borders; prices will vary elsewhere. I have yet to see it in any of the grocery stores around here, have found it in a few health food stores, and find it more readily in Starbuck's and Borders. No doubt places like Whole Foods and Wild Oats markets are stocking this already, if you have one near you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A (Quick) Beginner's Guide to Indian Food

It seems like every time I turn around, there's a new Indian restaurant opening in the towns that surround mine. I'd like to try out these restaurants, partly to throw their owners some business, partly to change up my routine, and partly because I'm told the Indians do a wonderful job on vegetarian cooking. But I have yet to do so. Why? I know nothing about Indian food and my friends, who rarely even go to Chinese restaurants, know even less than that.

So I threw a challenge to our friend Rhonda in Australia to write a "quick start guide" to Indian food. The goal was to give folks like me something that would allow us to walk into an Indian restaurant and place our first order without going too far out on a limb (e.g., ordering something too spicy). I knew if anyone could do it, it would be Rhonda, who frequents a local Indian restaurant in her town.

She's given us great advice as well as a list of helpful links. Her advice? Start with anything with the words "korma" or "rogan josh" in the dish's title. Korma dishes, the mildest, get their creaminess from yogurt; rogan josh, while containing a smidge more spice than "korma" dishes, is still on the mild side. "Spicy" in Indian dishes may prove to be spicier than you'd counted on, even if you're accustomed to fiery Mexican or Szechuan food. Your best bet may be to start slow and give your palate a chance to get used to the heat.

You can read the full posting at Indian food: A quick guide.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Summer Whites

With hot summer days upon us, we're all looking for ways to change up our routines. Lighter meals with fresh fruits and veggies. Iced coffee instead of a hot latte. Tea in an icy cold glass instead of a warm steamy mug.

Perhaps, though, you'd like a little variety in your iced tea. Milder flavor. Less caffeine. Maybe not the floral, fruity flavor of herbal iced teas.

Have you considered white tea?

I recently got hooked on Adagio's line of white teas, which don't disappoint hot or iced. Nearly every night I'm making two batches of white iced tea: one to take to work and one to have ready in the fridge for dinner the next night. Fortunately, Adagio sells several varieties of flavored white tea. So far I've tried white pear (my favorite), white peach (a very close second), white tangerine, and white tropics (a blend of pineapple and coconut).

If you like just a touch of sweetness in iced tea -- but not the heavy sweetness that comes from sugar -- stir about a teaspoon of honey (max: a teaspoon and a half) in 12 ounces of white tea while it's still hot. Then pour in 12 ounces of cold water and throw the tea in the fridge.

Both the flavored and unflavored white teas are great for sipping any time of day. Low in caffeine (about 5 to 15 mg per serving, says Adagio), you can drink them late into the evening without the risk of making yourself too wired to sleep. They make wonderful accompaniments for any meal, especially salads, fruit plates, and Asian meals.

For an unflavored white tea with less fuss, Adagio sells bottles of unsweetened white iced tea. Available in 16.9-ounce bottles, you can even buy a case of 15 bottles if you really get hooked. For more variety and convenience, check out their bottles of green tea, black tea, and jasmine tea!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cooking In A Crunch: Marinade Shortcut

It happens a lot when you have a busy schedule -- you come home from work, all geared up to fix yourself a decent dinner (for a change), marinate a bit of meat or poultry, and throw it on the grill or under the broiler.

Except the marinade recipe in the cookbook says you should marinate at least four hours -- but preferably overnight -- in the fridge.

Except the bottle of marinade on the pantry shelf says that you should marinate at least 30 minutes.

Either way, your schedule and your growling stomach don't allow for a wait tonight. Maybe you settle for something else for dinner. Maybe you order takeout. Maybe you try to "shortcut" the marinade and let things sit for 10 minutes -- only to taste your final meal and realize that 10 minutes didn't do the job.

Sure, you can get one of the 10-minute marinades (I've grown fond of the ones from
Mrs. Dash). But it seems your store only ever carries the same three flavors, and everyone's diet needs more variety than that. The best flavor and the best variety, though, comes from making your own marinades.

So how do you manage? Do what a former co-worker of mine does. When you come back from the grocery store with new trays of beef, pork, chicken, or fish:

1. Separate the contents of the trays into freezer bags (however many pieces you need for a meal for you alone or for your entire family).

2. Make your marinades.

3. Measure the marinades accordingly and pour them into the freezer bags with the meat, poultry, or fish.

4. Label the freezer bag with the date and a description of the contents.

5. Toss everything into the freezer.

Then, whenever you want, pull out a bag to thaw overnight or while you're at work. By the time you pull the bag out of the fridge, the contents will have been marinading for hours. No matter how little time you have, you'll still be able to whip up a tasty entree on the grill or under the broiler!

—Post by Whitney

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Preparing a Pineapple

Pineapples (Ananas comosus - hence the French call them (confusingly) ananas - in Spanish they are piña) from the Ivory Coast are selling at the moment for £1 or US2$ each in the UK. They should yield about 2 1/4 lbs ( 1 Kg in the civilised world) of juicy Vitamin C rich fruit.

Many folks feel daunted by preparing one.

1. Elect a nice firm fruit, if the leaves come off with a light tug showung a nice white base - with the effort say, you need to pull a ripe apple off the tree it's ready to eat.

2. If not ripe simply leave it on a sunny window ledge for a day or two.

3. You need a good strong sharp kitchen knife 10" 12" long and a chopping board.

4. Simply top and tail the fruit. You can amuse the kids by leaving the top in a saucer / bowl of water and it will continue to grow if left in a sunny position and can eventually be potted on when it starts showing roots.

5. Cut into 8 equal pieces with 4 straight strong strokes.

6. Taking each piece, with a single straight cut, remove the central stringy core - you can use this if you are going to make a smoothie.

7. Using the point of the knife cut the rind off each piece.

8. Segment into traingular shaped pieces.

Eat raw, with ice cream, cream, yoghurt, mix into a smoothie. we love sticking two wings into a corn muffin to make "angel wings" - if you eat one more you'll turn into a fairy.

Many folks use slices with ham, sweet and sour chicken, and (ugh) on pizza. (sick on a bun)

Because Pineapples contain a proteolytic enzyme bromelian, the juice can be used as a marinade and tenderizer for meat, it is for this reason that you cannot put it in gelatin jellies, they simply won't set.

This information sheet from Kew Botanical gardens, London will tell you more about Pineqpples than you probably want to know, their history, naming, agriculture etc.

—Post by Zizania

Friday, May 18, 2007

Tea For The Weekend Wind-down

It's Friday afternoon. Your work week has felt more like a work week and a half. You've been hopped-up on caffeine for the last five days just to get everything done. You need to wind down, and fast, or else your weekend could be a bust.

As Winnie-the-Pooh would say, tapping his noggin in deep thought, "What to do? What to do?"

"What to do" might well be to make yourself a hot cup of Adagio Tea's Decaf Spice. This wonderful, aromatic, soothing blend of oriental spices almost seems to replace the blood in your veins, mystically relaxing you from the inside out. I've come to think of it as "meditation in a cup" because lingering over this tea has the same effect on me as meditation.

Not too spicy, not too strong, and not a bit astringent, this tea satisfied even me...a die-hard coffee drinker. It holds up well to the addition of milk (or plain soymilk) and honey; tea drinkers who normally add sugar to their tea will find that for Decaf Spice they'll want to use honey instead.

My favorite bedtime concoction uses:
  • 12 ounces of boiling water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Decaf Spice tea leaves
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla soymilk
  • 1 teaspoon honey

To make:

  1. Steep the tea leaves (in an infuser) for 5 minutes. No more. No less.
  2. Pour the vanilla soymilk and honey into a small cup and microwave for 45 to 60 seconds to get the combination warm and frothy. (Do this while the tea steeps to save a little time.)
  3. Remove the infuser from your mug.
  4. Stir the soymilk-and-honey mixture into the tea, and enjoy.

Heating the soymilk and honey gets the two to blend together better, helps keep the tea warm longer, and really brings out the richness of the tea. If you have to have a small munchie with your tea, a simple shortbread cookie (vanilla shortbread, if you can find it) goes well with it.

Some Adagio customers have commented on the review board that they put this tea into the same category as chai. Having had both chai products and Decaf Spice, I'm not convinced of the similarity between the two, and think that Decaf Spice is actually better than any chai product I've come across to date.

Adagio also offers a caffeinated version of this tea, called Oriental Spice, which is just as good and works just as nicely with the "recipe" above. The beauty of ordering from Adagio is that they offer sample sizes of each tea for about $2 a tin; depending on the ratio of tea leaves per ounce of water that you prefer to use, a single sample-size tin will yield 5 to 10 cups. If you turn out to love it, then you can invest in a larger size.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Make Your Own Chow Mein--No Sweat!

Shrimp-Tofu Chow Mein with Shiitake Mushrooms and Haricot Vert—or any variation on the Chow Mein Theme You Like

Tonight I made shrimp-tofu chow mein. No biggy, it's noodles, and I've made noodles kajillions of times in all their variations. But the Cantonese style was new for me. I'm always hoping to learn more about Chinese cuisine. Trouble is, it's INFINTELY COMPLEX. Safer to say, learn Szechwan, or Cantonese than to tackle all of thousands of years of culinary evolution.

So Cantonese--mellow, savory, subtle. Think oyster sauce. To make chow mein, which, by the way, look like spaghetti noodles (Marco Polo must have brought some back from his trip to Asia), you cook the noodles then cool them off with cold water so they won't grow.

Then, stir-fry your veggies, tofu, etc. in some oil and oyster sauce and soy sauce (equal parts--don't need much). Add in your shrimp (or chicken or pork--cut in strips to make it cook fast) and toss until cooked (only a couple of minutes). Make a light gravy with chicken stock (1 cup), more oyster sauce and more soy sauce (about 1 tbs. each), and a little corn starch to thicken. Cook only until thickened (about a minute). Before serving, zap the cold noodles in the microwave to warm them. Lastly, pour the veggie-sauce mixture onto the noodles and serve.

About what veggies to use: Never, and I mean NEVER use those nasty canned Chinese veggies you find in the ethnic section of the grocery store. I'm talking about baby corn, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Good Chinese restaurants do not use canned veggies. ICK! Any veggie that's not mushy is a good substitute: snow peas, green beans, onions, broccoli, peas, carrots, asparagus, mung bean sprouts, mushrooms of any kind (especially shiitake), etc.

About what meats to use: Shrimp, pork, chicken, beef, lamb--any will do nicely. But be sure to cut the meat in long, thin strips so that it cooks quickly. Short, chunky bits tend to get too dry inside before they are cooked through. Meat bits should be in bite sizes too--so that you can lift it with chopsticks--with no cutting--and pop it into your mouth. Cutting well is a way of showing consideration for your diners. Anyway, my fave is shrimp. I keep several bags of good frozen shrimp in the freezer at all times. I use half as much shrimp as most recipes call for (half a pound instead of a pound) and add a package of drained, cubed tofu. (Any way to incorporate more tofu into our diet is a GOOD way. Soy and other bean products can save the world. I do mean this.) Believe it or not, frozen shrimp are "fresher" than never-frozen shrimp. Plus they are handy, and you can get the kind that's deveined, shelled and ready-to-go. Frozen raw shrimp is good too because it absorbs the flavor of whatever it's cooked with. Your choice.

You can also use rice instead of noodles if you are on a wheat-free diet. A chow mein stir-fry is so easy, it really doesn't matter what starch you use--no intimidating and slavish adherence to recipe needed. Just remember oil to coat the pan, oyster sauce and soy sauce in equal parts and stir to cook only. Then make a little gravy and you are finished! Too easy and YUMMY YUMMY!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Spinach-Bacon-Tomato Poached Eggs

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most elegant--and surprisingly delightful. This morning, I walked out the back door and picked some of my hubby's organic spinach--enough to sauté. Then, I tossed it in with a little butter and a little dab of bacon fat--yes, bacon fat--just a touch. Added in chopped tomato and sautéed briefly just to wilt. Voila--the base for poached eggs.

Then, I chopped a couple of pieces of bacon and sprinkled that on the eggs. Beautiful with a touch of freshly ground pepper.

The taste was like a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich, with no bread, and no fuss. Served with fresh strawberries.

Williams-Sonoma has a lovely egg poacher, which is simply a shallow covered pot with four holes and four tefloned egg-poacher cups. Pour water in the base and when it boils, lightly spritz each cup with Pam. Add one egg per cup (four total) and poach for four minutes. Remove immediately to shallow bowls.

The photo above is not mine, but it's close. My spinach-tomato sauté was wiltier. The poached egg atop the sauté is a perfect round shape. On top of the poached eggs is crumbled bacon, and on top of that is a sprinkling of black pepper. Perfection--and quick to make.

When making bacon, fry up an entire package at one time (it's too messy to do here and there). Drain on paper towels, and freeze. You can use a couple of pieces at a time to flavor baked chicken, salad, eggs, green beans, etc. Frozen bacon lasts a long time that way and is indistinguishable from fresh bacon.

Poached egg variations can be endless. One of our family's faves is to take leftover small, round Belgian waffles (which I make in big batches and also freeze--waffles and other breads freeze beautifully, just as bacon does) as the base, then a poached egg, then hollandaise sauce. TO DIE FOR! Top with finely chopped ham, Canadian bacon, bacon, or tofu crumbles (veggie burger crumbles would be good too).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Peanutty Butter

This truly cool idea from writer, MiMiShells—how to effortlessly cut fat and calories, while still keeping that rich, yummy flava of peanut butter that we crave. Use it as a dip. Enjoy with gusto—and guilt-free.


Making Peanutty Butter
Rich peanut taste, only one-third the calories.

Blending creamy peanut butter with silky tofu cuts the calories and fat by nearly two-thirds. Spread it on a whole-grain cracker or use it as a dip for apple slices and raw veggies. It's the perfect high-protein snack. Plus, a dollop makes a wickedly good topping for your favorite fat-free chocolate pudding.

1 cup silky tofu, drained (about 9 ounces)
1/3 cup peanut butter
4 teaspoons raw honey
2 teaspoons lime juice

To Prepare: Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Blend or process until smooth.
Add a few teaspoons of water if necessary.
Store in refrigerator.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups; 12 (2 tablespoon) servings.

Nutritional Values:
Fat: 5 g, Carbohydrates: 4 g, Protein: 4 g, Calories: 67 kcal, Saturated fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 38 mg.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Why Eat Carob? For the Love of Chocolate—without Caffeine

Have you ever tasted carob? It's like chocolate, only not quite. If you are allergic to chocolate, cannot eat chocolate because of the caffeine, or simply want the fun of a slightly different twist on the chocolate brownie, I present to you, the carob brownie. Chewy and delectable and in every way as yummy as a chocolate brownie except you won't feel hyper after eating a few.

I served it to my three year old last night, and she assumed it was that taboo food group, "chocolate"—therefore she was thrilled to bits to be allowed to eat it! (Chocolate makes my skinny little girl cranky—and then it keeps her from taking her nap! Anything to avoid that outcome.) So, in honor of my little Jaclyn, a carob brownie that even a preschooler could love.

Note: this is not a vegan recipe—it contains butter and eggs. I prefer butter and eggs in my baked goods. You can find vegan carob brownie recipes easily, though, using any search engine.

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
13/4 cups turbinado sugar
1 1/4 cups carob powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
cup unsalted, chopped nuts, your choice

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan.
  3. In a medium sized microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter on low heat, then add the sugar and stir to combine.
  4. Microwave briefly, just until it's hot but not bubbling. It will become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the buter and sugar a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
  5. Transfer the mix to a mixing bowl.
  6. Stir in the carob, salt, baking powder, and vanilla.
  7. Add the eggs, beating till smooth; then add the flour and nuts. Stir until well combined.
  8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake the brownies for 30 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set both around the edges and in the center.
  10. Remove from the oven, and after 5 minutes loosen the edges with a table knife, this will help preven the brownies from sinking in the center as they cool. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Homemade Barbecue Chicken, Homemade Pork & Beans

Last night I made barbecue chicken thighs, marinating them hours in advance in a homemade barbecue rub--using the recipe from How to Grill, by Steven Raichlen. Then, I baked the thighs in the oven--because hubby, the grill god of the house, was away.

It took forever to make the pork and beans from scratch, but they were YUMMY! My little girl had to be bribed to try them, though when she did, she admitted to liking them (they looked yucky to her).

Has anyone out there made pork and beans from scratch? Do you have a favorite barbecue rub recipe?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Swedish Porterstek: Porter Beer & Black Current Juice Make This Beef a Treat

Thanks go to Karin, of Sweden, who keeps her favorite recipes—Swedish and otherwise—on her blog. She shares this recipe with us--for a lovely beef stew simmered in porter beer and black current juice. Gotta try it!

Karin said . . .

"Porter Steak" is probably an English dish. I´m not sure of that. (Couldn´t find an English recipe). Some people like to add juniper berries (or gin). I don´t. I don´t like the strong taste of juniper berry with meat.

A quick translation into English will be something like this:

1 kg boneless steak
1 bottle Porter (beer) , 33 cl
1 dl sweet black currant juice (concentrated)
1 dl soy sauce
10 black peppercorns
2 dices meat stock
2 cloves of garlic
1 yellow onion
1 teaspoon thyme
7-10 juniper berries (optional)

8 dl liquid from steak
2-5 dl cream
5 tablespoons flour

1. Insert a meat thermometer in the steak
2. At first cook black currant juice and porter with meat stock dices in a deep, rather small and narrow saucepan.
3. Place steak immediately in boiling liquid
4. Add onion and spices
5. Simmer covered for approx. 1 ½ hour or until thermometer shows 75 degrees C
6. Turn the steak around at least once
7. Allow the steak to rest in the liquid for 20 minutes before cutting it up.

For the sauce:
1. Pour off 8 dl strained liquid into a pan
2. Mix flour and cream
3. Cook the strained liquid, slowly add "cream-flour mixture", stirring.Then simmer for a couple of minutes.