Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Make Better Fro Yo Than Pinkberry

Ok, so that is a bold statement.  Pinkberry seems to be the king of frozen yogurts these days - and I really am a fan, but seriously my frozen yogurt is better.  As most know, I am mutually obsessed with my ice cream maker and David Lebovitz's book, The Perfect Scoop.  David's frozen yogurt has a similar tangy-sweet flavor as Pinkberry, but the creaminess of his yogurt beats it out.  The best part about this frozen yogurt is how simple it is to make and that it is just three ingredients.  I actually reduced the amount of sugar a bit too.

Here is the Frozen Yogurt recipe, adapted from The Perfect Scoop (extra-thick version):
-3 cups Greek yogurt
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla

Begin by mixing all the ingredients together until sugar has dissolved.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Once chilled, place yogurt in ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions.

I would recommend serving the frozen yogurt immediately because it seems to be the best frozen yogurt consistency, but you can also place in your freezer in an air-tight container.  Beware that your yogurt will be rock hard, so you might want to let it thaw for a while.  It still tastes just as good.

If you are in the mood for a quick soup, try this vegetarian tortilla soup I made last year.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


For my birthday last year, my coworker gave me some candy from Papabubble.  It was delicious and nostalgic and I knew I had to visit their shop in Little Italy someday.  I have gone a couple times now and it is a delight to see them actually making the candy in front of you.  Papabubble creates a variety of candies, but my favorite definitely is the lavender.  It is sweet, but has this refreshing and relaxing effect - just like when smelling the actual plant.  I like to pop one (or five) in my mouth just to mellow out.  If you are in New York, you should stop by Papabubble (click here for a map).  Or click here to visit their website.  There are some beautiful photos featuring their candies as well as their shops.
Lavender candy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Too-Hot Sauce and Bean and Cheese Burritos!

A couple weeks ago I was so inspired to make bean and cheese burritos after reading this post on Alexandra's Kitchen.  Alexandra made making homemade flour tortillas look easy, so I decided to give it a try - and it was so simple and so worth it.  I won't reblog about her post, so click here if you want to learn how to make your own tortillas.  I will say that the making the dough is very quick and easy, especially if you make it in a food processor like I did.  The hardest part of making the tortillas is rolling them out into a nice circle.  Luckily, the dough is much more forgiving than a pie dough and it is really easy to get it as thin as you need to.  The end result is a soft, more flavorful dough than you can get by just purchasing some flour tortillas in your grocery store.
To go along with the burritos I wanted to make a delicious hot sauce, so I went to my newest favorite cookbook Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless.  There is recipe called Roasted Fresh Chile Salsa which has options for which chiles you prefer based on heat level.  I thought I liked things pretty hot, so I wasn't really thinking how hot 24 habanero peppers would be (I doubled the recipe).  What a surprise when I was choking on the fumes from just roasting the peppers.  In fact when I threw out the left over sauce today I had to open the window to stop from coughing (finally stopped coughing after an hour off and on).  When I licked my sauce off the spoon, I instantly knew it was HOT.  That didn't stop my friend and I from putting it on our burritos (very sparingly).  There were points during my meal where I had to literally stop eating and just sit there and let the pain leave my mouth.  The whole point I am trying to make is - be careful!  I will definitely be using different chiles next time - or at least a combo.  Also, wear gloves - capsaicin can stay on your skin for a couple of days and that can really hurt when you are putting contacts in the next day (um yes I have experienced that).  So here is the recipe (with chile options - use habanero if you dare!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Heart The Local Foods Wheel

For Valentine's Day, my valentine so sweetly gave me The Local Foods Wheel.  I am really excited about it because it a visual reminder of what is in season in New York metro area, which includes vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry, and fish, as well as other products (like maple syrup and apple cider).  The wheel is actually two layers.  The top, smaller wheel shows what is in season year-round and also has a window which reveals one season of the bottom wheel.  One the back of the wheel is an expanded list of products grown or produced locally, giving more detail about their seasonal availability.  For more information on the Local Foods Wheel, click here.  There is also a wheel for San Francisco!  My only complaint is that there isn't a magnet on the back, which I think would be great for the fridge.
Also, Happy Chinese New Year!  Click here for a fun recipe for Blood Orange Jelly Smiles.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas with Spinach and Mushrooms

So my best friend and I are a bit obsessed with Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday cook book.  Each week we are always calling each other talking about what recipes we have tried.  A couple weeks ago I made Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas with Spinach and Mushrooms, and the best part is definitely the tomatillo sauce.  Thankfully, I had plenty of sauce left over from the enchiladas, so throughout the week I was making scrambled egg tacos and huevos rancheros.

Here are the ingredients for Rick Bayless' Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas with Spinach and Mushrooms from Mexican Everyday (Serves 4):
-3 cloves garlic, peeled
-Fresh hot green chiles to taste, stemmed and quartered (1 jalapeno or 2 serranos are suggested)
-1 1/2 pounds (10 to 12 medium) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into quarters
-1/4 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish
-3 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon drippings, plus more for the tortillas
-2 cups chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
-8 ounces mushrooms (button, oyster or shiitake are good), stemmed and sliced
-1 large red onion, thinly sliced
-10 ounces (about 10 cups) spinach, stems removed*
-1 cup (about 4 ounces) shredded cooked chicken (about one-quarter of a large rotisserie chicken) or cubed ham (optional)
-12 corn tortillas, preferably store-bought
-3 tablespoons Mexican crema, sour cream, heavy cream or creme fraiche
-1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
-1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other cheese such as feta or goat cheese

*Note: I used twice the amount of spinach the second time I made these enchiladas, which I recommend if you are not adding meat.

To begin, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Husk, rinse, and quarter the tomatillos.
Quarter the chiles and peel the garlic.
With a food processor or blender, finely chop garlic and chile one piece at a time.  Add the tomatillos and cilantro, and process until smooth.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the puree and cook, stirring nearly constantly, until the mixture has reduced to the consistency of thick tomato sauce, about 7 minutes.  Rick notes that the more you cook down the this base, the richer and sweeter the tomatillo sauce will be.
Add the broth and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.
While the sauce is simmering, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high and slice the mushrooms.
Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring nearly constantly, for a couple of minutes, until they begin to brown.
Slice the onion and add about three quarters of it to the mushrooms (reserve the rest for garnish) and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another minute or two, until the onions look translucent.
Add the spinach and optional chicken or ham and cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or so, until the spinach is wilted.  Season with salt, usually a scant teaspoon.  Cover to keep warm.
Lay out the tortillas on a baking sheet and spray or brush lightly on both sides with oil, then stack them in twos.  Place in the oven and bake just enough to make them soft and pliable, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the oven and stack them in a single pile; cover with a kitchen towel to keep warm.
Stir the crema (or stand-in) into the sauce.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon (add sugar if sauce seems quite tart to you).
Holding a tortilla by one edge, dipping most of it into sauce, then lay it on a plate.
Spoon a heaping 2 tablespoons of filling down the center, roll up and lay seam side down on a dinner plate.
Repeat with 2 more tortillas, arranging them on the same dinner plate.  Cover the enchiladas with 1/4 cup of sauce, sprinkle with a quarter of the crumbled cheese and garnish with some of the resered onion and cilantro sprigs.  Continue to assemble the rest of the enchiladas or save for later.
Eat immediately while still warm and delicious!

Last year around this time I made a delicious quinoa salad, click here for the recipe.

Or if you are looking to make a Valentine's day treat, try some royal icing sugar cookies.  Click here for the recipe.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Southeast Asian-Style Spring Rolls

Last week I made spring rolls for the second time in my life.  The first time was a disaster - the wrappers were ripping and sticking together.  I didn't really know the best way to soften the rice wrappers - luckily Cook's Illustrated had some advice and this time it was much easier.  My big mistake was letting the wrappers sit too long in water - you just want to dip the wrapper until just pliable (about 10 seconds).  These spring rolls were good, but I will definitely add some red leaf lettuce into the mix next time.  I also completely forgot about making some kind of dipping sauce - I was too busy making miso soup (click here to get the recipe), so below I have included some sauces from Martha Stewart's Great Parties book.

Ingredients for Southeast Asian-Style Spring Rolls, adapted from Cook's Illustrated:
-1 teaspoon granulated sugar
-1 1/2 tablespoons fermented fish sauce such as nuoc nam
-2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
-1 teaspoon salt
-3 ounces rice vermicelli
-1 large carrot, peeled and grated with a large holes of box grater (1/2 cup)
-1/3 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
-1  medium jalepeno or 2 Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced, or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
-1 large cucumber, peel and cut half-wise and then cut 1/4 inch planks leaving the seeds behind.  Cut each plank into five 1/8 inch strips.  You should have about 40 strips of cucumber.
-8 round rice wrappers (8 inches in diameter)
-1/2 cup loosely packed fresh Thai basil leaves or mint leaves, small leaves left whole, medium and large cut in 1/2 inch pieces
-1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed

To begin, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Meanwhile combine sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice in small bowl and set aside.
Add rice vermicelli and salt to the boiling water.  Cook until tender, but not mushy 3 to 4 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Drain again and transfer to medium bowl.  Toss 2 tablespoons of fish sauce mixture to noodles and set aside.
Grate carrot, mince chiles, and chop peanuts in small bowl.  Combine and toss with 1 tablespoon fish sauce mixture.
Slice cucumber and toss with 1 tablespoon fish sauce. 
Now you are ready to assemble your rolls.  Place a damp kitchen towel on the counter.  Fill a 9-inch pie plate with 1 inch of room-temperature water.  
Working one at a time, immerse wrapper in water until just pliable, about 10 seconds; lay softened wrapper on towel.  
All photos below taken AWD.
Scatter 6 cilantro leaves and 6 Thai basil or mint leaves over wrapper.  
Arrange 5 cucumber sticks horizontally on wrapper, add 1 tablespoon carrot mixture and about 2 1/2 tablespoons noodles on top of the carrots.  
Fold over 2 inches of bottom border over filling.  Fold left, then right side of wrapper of filling.  Roll filling to top edge to create a tight cylinder.
And your done!  Below are some recipes for the dipping sauces.

Ingredients for Peanut-Hoisin Sauce from Martha Stewart's Great Parties (makes  1 3/4 cups):

-1 cup hoisin sauce
-1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
-1/3 cup finely minced yellow onion
-1 tablespoon ground-chile paste, or to taste
-1 tablespoon finely chopped peanuts

Combine 1/2 cup water, hoisin sauce, vinegar, and onion in saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low; simmer until onions have softened, 7 to 9 minutes.  If sauce becomes too thick, add water.  Let cool.  Transfer to serving dish; top with chile paste and peanuts.

Ingredients for Vietnamese Dipping Sauce from Martha Stewart's Great Parties (makes 1 1/2 cups):

-1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
-1 teaspoon ground-chile paste
-1 Thai chile or serrano pepper, chopped, optional
-1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 tablespoons grated carrot, for garnish

With a mortar and pestle, pound garlic, chile paste, and fresh chile into a paste (or mince together with a knife).  It is best to wear plastic gloves so that the chiles don't burn; be sure not to rub your eyes after chopping.  Transfer to a bowl.  Add fish sauce, 2/3 cup hot water, lime juice, and sugar.  Whisk together until sugar dissolves.  Serve sprinkled with carrots.

Last year, at this time I made Rainbow Cake.  Click here for the recipe.