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Monday, January 23, 2012

pop tarts on a stick ~ this year so far

Poptart on a stick
pop tart on a stick

january has been lovely so far. seriously lovely. i mean, blustery winds and frigid cold aside. warm blankets. crocheting. knee high socks. eskimo kisses. and birthdays.

celebrating birthdays are always fun, uncomplicated family time, time well spent in my opinion. for a beloved cousin one weekend we gathered together, capturing moments of unbridled laughter, maybe even some good natured ribbing, but mainly for sweet moments shared.

as a gift, a token of my affection for kim, i made pop tarts on sticks. anything mini or bite-size are instantly adorable and these were no different. super easy to make, especially, when you buy the pie dough (!) and use already in the fridge staples like homemade nutella or making use of just that last tidbit of jam that's not quite enough for a piece of toast but just the perfect amount for miniature sweet treats like pop tarts. i made use of the last of my bluebarb jam & gingered rhubarb jam with honey. once baked and slightly cooled, slather with a smidge of milk-icing and top with colorful sprinkles. adorable much?

Pop Tart on a stick

Pop Tarts on a Stick
as originally featured on the Kitchn from Babble

lollipop sticks, the round white ones or if you can find, the flat wooden popsicle ones
1 prepared pied dough, i used immaculate baking co. pie crust
filling: used jam and nutella
glaze: 1/4 powdered sugar (more or less) with splash of milk
sprinkles
egg wash, as needed

preheat oven to 400F.

make sure the pie dough is at room temp, makes for easier unrolling and handling.

lightly dust counter top with flour. place dough on top. using a biscuit cutter of size & shape of your choice, cut out pieces. i used square and circles.

on cookie sheet, place first layer down, not too close. place sticks about 1" on the dough, lightly tapping to indent. put in a small glob, maybe about 1/2 tsp of filling, of your choice, in the middle. around the edges, dabble with a bit of egg wash. put on second layer of dough on top. press edges to seal, with a fork create a border around shapes.

bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden.

allow to cool before transferring, gently to wire rack to cool completely.

in a bowl, add the powdered sugar with splash of milk. you want a nice thick consistency, not too watery. slather on top of tarts and sprinkle with jimmies. allow to harden before handling.

i ended up with about 20 pop tarts and leftover dough was turned into a gallette that served two.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Purple Peruvian Bonbons

potato bonbons

over the weekend i spent time cleaning ~ the abode, the fridge; the type of frenzied cleaning that occurs prior to a big trip. a big pot of homemade chicken stock simmered gently on the stove, a bowl of soaked spelt flour in the corner quietly sat, while the outside temperature dipped to a chilling 20F. the kitchen window fogged up from the sink-full of hot dishwater, the counter top speckled with a light dusting of flour as i roll pie crust, the kitchen table housing half-prepared wontons, the wrappers drying around the edges. see, this is what happens when dw is gone for the day, at a class, and i'm left to my own devices.

i had a list of things to prepare for the coming week. it was done, albeit messily, quite counter productive of the whole cleaning thing. but it got done. and when i sat down for a breather, with a cup of tea, sliding supper preparations aside, i nibbled on these gems. reminiscent of that little chocolate treat, but without the manufactured aftertaste, it's perfect as a warm up to dinner, a sweet appetizer if you must put a label. or simply put, a lovely bite-size dessert treat. and with the use of the purple peruvian potatoes, the color is just so fitting right now, what with the ravens on the road to the super bowl, yes?

Idaho® Purple Peruvian Bonbons
Makes about 2 dozen bonbons

4 smallish, Idaho® purple fingerling potatoes
¾ cup powdered sugar, to taste
½ cup unsweetened, organic coconut flakes
½ cup soy creamer
8 oz chocolate, combo of bittersweet & semisweet, chopped in small chunks (chips can be used in lieu of bar chocolate)
Milk or dairy alternative, like almond, coconut or soy milk, optional
Cocoa powder, optional
Kosher salt, optional

Wash & peel potatoes. Put in pot and add in cold water. Bring to boil, cook thru. Use a fork or knife to pierce for doneness. Drain water. Mash with masher or fork, until smooth, or reach preferred consistency. Add in a pinch of salt.

Add in powdered sugar, ¼ cup at a time. Add more or less according to how sweet you want it to be.

Add in coconut flakes. Make sure the mixture is incorporated, not too dry or wet. If too dry, add in a tablespoon of milk (or dairy alternative) for added creaminess.

Form into small bite size balls, and store, covered with plastic wrap, in refrigerator while making chocolate ganache.

In a small saucepan, heat up soy creamer, gently. You want it to be hot, but not scalding. In a bowl, add in the chocolate chunks or chips. When soy creamer is heated through, pour over chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

Take out potato balls and dip into the chocolate. Coat all over and put on parchment paper, or on wire/cooling rack over a sheet pan to allow excess chocolate to drip down. Allow to harden at room temperature.

You can double coat with the chocolate & sprinkle with kosher salt on top, or coat with cocoa powder.

To store: keep in air tight container in the refrigerator. Keeps for 3-4 days.

disclaimer: this is a sponsored post by the Idaho® Potato Commission to celebrate February being Potato Lover's Month. All opinions expressed are mine (because listen, everyone is entitled to my opinion). I was compensated for joining in the fun.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vegetable Stir Fry with Banh Canh Noodles

veggie stir fry

when i sit in the kitchen, whether it is to do a bit work on the laptop or listen to NPR while dw brews my cup of tea, i almost always prefer the back door open, no matter the temperature outside. not that the cold weather makes much difference, thru the tiny cracks and edges of the door a brisk wind flows thru to caress & lift the hair from my neck or send shivers up my legs as it touches my ankles. despite this, i love the light that filters thru the windows, bright golds and pinks of the morning, turning bronze and lengthening shadows in the early evening. it is my favorite room in our humble dwelling.

lately, my eating habits have altered. nothing drastic, just different - better. slowly, very slowly, but surely, i have embraced winter's heart and bounty, savoring the robust vegetables that are in season. i can't always get organic or have the best picks, but i do what i can; and with what i had handy, this noodle stir fry came about.

this is my contribution to Taste & Create, a monthly blog event that pairs up bloggers who then recreate something from their partner's blogs. my partner this time around is Always Eat on the Good China. And for good china, there are Macys coupons available for tableware.

Veggie Stir Fry

Veggie Noodle Stir Fry
as inspired and slightly adapted from Always Eat on the Good China

knob of ginger, thinly sliced
2 zucchinis, chopped
small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
a bundle of baby choy, washed & rough chopped
two portabella mushrooms, halved and then cut into bite size pieces
oyster sauce, to taste
splash of rice wine vinegar
cornstarch slurry (small bowl of cold water + 1-2 tsp cornstarch mixed in)

to prepare the banh canh, heat up pot of water. add the noodles when water comes to a boil, allow to loosen and separate from bunch. drain & set aside.

meanwhile, working quickly, heat up a frying pan (or wok) with a bit of canola or veggie oil. add in the onions, garlic, carrots & ginger, until fragrant & onions are translucent and carrots have softened some. add in the zucchini, mushrooms, and bok choy and cook thru, with the zucchini still al dente. put noodles into wok, mixing quickly. coat with the oyster sauce. don't add too much, just enough to coat the noodles and veggies in thin layer. add in the cornstarch slurry and heat thru. if you think of it, add a splash of rice wine vinegar to taste. serve immediately.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sake Braised Rabbit Stew

DSC_0106

the thick layers of wool and flannel i've been wrapped up in tells me that Winter is well & here. it has been particularly bitter and brutal these last days, we awoke to 19F this week, the darkness clinging to our lashes, foreboding and cold. i spent time in the kitchen, with the oven or stove top on, in an effort to keep warm while still preparing an honest table to share with my love.

the first day of the new year, after a night of sparklers and star counting, started encased in fleece blankets sipping tea with NPR droning in the background. i perched on a kitchen stool, chopping veggies while dw attempted to butcher a rabbit. i had my heart set on this protein, gamey & lean, similar to dark poultry, and you know how i feel about dark meat, but still in a league of its own.

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the meat braised in sake, going tender and more succulent with each passing minute. the vegetables provided natural sweetness, a final resting bed for the rabbit. i was careful to not allow the stew to simmer for too long, lest the meat go too soft. we topped the dish with crunchy golden panko crumbs, served with a side of steamed white rice. on cold winter days like we've been experiencing, a hot meal like this to share at the table with your love, while you sop up the juices and indulge in happy moments, make up for the dip in temp.

it is so very brutal out there, grey & even desolate at times. stay warm friends. hold hands. tuck in.

Braised Sake Rabbit

Sake Braised Rabbit Stew
adapted from Ming Tsai

2 pounds rabbit, chopped
1 red onions, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
4 carrot, peeled & diced
1 TBL minced ginger
4 TBL Chinese mustard
2 cups sake
3 cups water
1 cup panko
2 tablespoon butter
canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

in a big pot, lightly coat with oil. season rabbit and sear on both sides. do in batches. set aside. add onions, celery, carrots, and ginger. allow for onions to turn translucent. season with salt/pepper. add mustard & stir. pour in sake and deglaze, reduce by half. put the rabbit back in. cover with water and bring to a simmer for about 45 minutes.

melt butter and pour over panko, mix evenly. bake in toaster oven until golden. garnish rabbit with panko.

my other Rabbit posts:
Rabbit Stew
Rabbit with Olives & Almond Stew
Rabbit with Mustard Sauce

P.S. If you are in the market for new pots and pans, these Sears promotional codes might save you money.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chocolate Tart with Quinoa & Almond Crust ~ dairy free & gluten free

DSC_0022

it is a new year. last year, 2011 came in quiet, maybe even a little reluctant. it turned out to be a good year. no. it turned out to be a sort of grace, my saving grace. 2012 also came in quiet and with it, comes a joyful hope that all my blessings will continue to multiply. if it is selfish for me to wish for even better tidings for myself and for those whom i hold dear, then so be it.

moving forward, with hands clasped tight in a sort of prayer, i strive for nourishment this year. nourishment of body and mind and spirit. i will continue, with dw, to learn more about the foods that will bring our bodies to the best of health, to commit to sourcing locally (or regionally) for the betterment of our humble community.

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so, i hold onto these dear resolutions, these faithful hopes as i receive whatever this new year should bring forth. in return, this gift of a chocolate tart ~ luscious in body, smooth in texture, with careful hints of earthy nuts and molasses. i created a tart crust out of almond meal and quinoa flour, binding them with soy margarine and a new to me ingredient: sucanat. the result itself is lovely. yes there are things i would work on, should i make this again, but what a heavenly way to start 2012. and this is how i desire the year to be: poignantly sweet, without the cloy but with minor notes of improvement to be made, as nothing is ever perfect, nor should it be.

chocolate tart

Chocolate Tart with Quinoa & Almond Crust ~ dairy free & gluten free
loosely adapted from David Lebovitz

Note: as always, i am late being a fangirl over this man. for this particular recipe, he does have contingency plans, points of interest in regards to the ingredients used. refer to that. for my results, you can read what i ended up using and doing. whether it's right or wrong, what i ended up with worked for me. last, i almost exclusively bake with Ghiradelli chocolate products now, because almost all their products are dairy free.

quinoa & almond Crust
6 1/2 TBL soy margarine, at room temp
1/2 scant cup sucanat
1 egg, organic, at room temp & lightly beaten
1/2 cup quinoa flour
3/4 cup almond meal
1/3 tsp baking powder

chocolate filling
1 1/8 cup sucanat
6 TBL warm water
4 oz unsalted soy margarine, at room temp
pinch of sea salt
4 oz semi-sweet Ghiradelli chips
2 ounces bittersweet Ghiradelli chips
2 large eggs, organic
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon dark brandy

preheat oven to 400F.

grease tart pan, i used a 10" one with removable bottom. in mixer, beat sucanat + soy margarine. if you use butter & regular sugar, it'll get light & fluffy. with these two alternative ingredients, it takes awhile. just ensure they are incorporated well. add in the egg. again, it's not going to fully incorporate like you would think but don't be alarmed. just mix it as well as you can, i did it for about 3-5minutes. then slowly add the flours, combining them all together. a dough will form. i very lightly floured the tart pan with almond meal and pressed the dough into it. cover with foil and weigh down with dried beans. bake in oven for about 12-15 minutes (i did it for 20 minutes, which ended up being much too long & it turned out too dark for my liking.)

take out foil of beans, set aside. lower heat to 350F.

meanwhile, make the chocolate filling by adding the sucanat to a heavy bottom sauce pan at medium-high. i was nervous with this step because of the ingredient used. i went slowly. i let the sucanat get hot & watched it melt into a dark goo, stirring very gently. because it has a very strong smoky molasses smell to it, i turned off the heat once it was completely melted, added the water and stirred like mad. there was seizing in some spots & i attempted to loosen them over low heat. next, add in the salt and soy margarine, stirring constantly until melted. then add in the chocolates, again, stirring constantly until smooth.

in a separate bowl, beat the two eggs and then ladle in a small amount of the filling in, continuously stirring. the mixture by this time was warm to the touch but i wanted to temper the eggs just in case. once the egg mixture is fully incorporated, add back to the filling and mix well. add in the almond meal and then the brandy.

strain the mixture thru a sieve into the tart pan. bake for about 15 minutes. i could've gone less by a 2-3 minutes. allow to cool completely before slicing into it. can be stored up to 3 days, at room temp if covered carefully.

it's nice on its own, but a tart fruit coulis would've been a nice accompaniment, or even some whipped coconut cream.