Archives for the month of: March, 2012

I have not been blogging for very long.  I love it and find it somewhat addictive.  I love to read other blogs because it really inspires me to see what other folks are cooking out there.  One of my favorite new blogs is Rantings of an Amateur Chef.  This blogs pictures, well written recipes and charming prose are a joy to read.  Every time he posts I am delighted to open the email and just lose myself in the story and recipes.

When I returned from my trip to Cali this week I was surprised to see that I was nominated by Rantings for the Liebster Blog award. Wow.  Thank you very much.  I felt like Sally Fields at the Academy Awards when she said “you like me…you really like me.”

The rules for this nomination are that I need to nominate five of my favorite blogs.  Not hard at all…..ok so it is.

I love all the blogs that I follow so how do I choose?

After thinking about it for the last 3 days I choose the following blogs to nominate for the Liebster Blog Award.

Food Safari-A food Lovers Journal

This woman is a seriously prolific blogger.  She posts nearly every day and the posts are always delicious sounding.  Her blog is beautiful and fun to read.  She obviously loves cooking for her darling son and I am always amazed at how yummy her food looks and she is still so thin and beautiful!  She cannot possibly eat all of those yummy dishes or is she one of those humming-bird metabolism folks I am so jealous of.

Eat with Fat Joe

The name pretty much says it all.  This delightful blog talks about such important topics as Opie Taylor, BBQ and chowing down with your friends.  Joe is a charming guy who always has a nice thing to say.

We call him yes-chef!

This is one of the most beautiful blogs I have found this year.  A husband and wife team produce this lovely and informative blog.  He cooks she clicks and writes.  What a great team these two make.  Check this blog out soon.

Cooking in Sens

This is a blog with stunning food photography, excellent recipes and stories of an American living and cooking in France.  I am pretty sure I do not need to say more.  Go there….now.

Sarah’s Place

When I started blogging I was looking forward to making some “blog” friends.   LIke any good friendship I look forward to hearing from Sarah.  Her blog is beautiful and informative.  She is just good people.  Pop on over and say hello.

I enthusiastically nominate these blogs for the Liebster Blog award.

Thank you again, Ranting of an Amateur Chef for nominating Marinating Online for the Liebster Blog award.

 

 

I have not been able to blog all week because I have been traveling in California.  I thought I would share some pictures with you and post recipes later on this week.

It was a great trip to California and I cannot wait to come back.

At Cal-Wood we literally go through hundreds of granola bars each week.  Since I first started at Cal-Wood a year ago I wanted to make the granola bars from scratch.  I started a few recipes last year but they were either too thick or fell apart.  I needed something that would hold together in a back pack but was not hard on the teeth.  My first trial recipes were also time-consuming and I had to keep labor costs down as well as cost of ingredients.  I scrapped the plan when we started getting busy for spring and summer and vowed to come back to it in the new year.

This year I have had success.  I researched different granola bar recipes on the internet and finally came up with one that was both chewy and sturdy.  This is a healthy snack treat that will keep the kids going with energy while out hiking.  My family loves these granola bars as a mid-afternoon snack while home-schooling.

The best part about these granola bars is that they are gluten-free and dairy free.  They taste great and kids on special diets do not feel like they are missing out.

Inspiration from Smitten Kitchen, King Arthur Flour and Ina Garten.

Granola Bars

1  2/3  Cups Whole Oats

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/3 Cup Oat Flour (process oats in food processor for 2-3 minutes until finely ground)

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

2 Cups Dried Fruit and Nuts (optional)

6 Tablespoons Canola Oil

1/4 Cup Corn Syrup, Maple Syrup or Honey

1 Tablespoon Water

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8 inch baking pan with foil or parchment and coat with non-stick spray.

Stir together dry ingredients in a bowl.

In a separate bowl. wish together oil. liquid sweeteners, vanilla and water.  Add to dry ingredients.

Stir until combined.  Spread mixture into baking pan and press down until firmly molded into pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool for 3 hours or overnight before cutting.  Store in the freezer for best results.

Tasty Variations:  Add 1 cup dark chocolate chips and 1 cup coconut shreds to replace fruit and nuts.

Add 1 cups sliced almonds for fruit and nut mixture and substitute corn syrup for all maple syrup.

Add 1 cup dark chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons orange zest.

Add 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds with 1 cup dried cranberries and substitute cinnamon for all spice.

Add dried mango, apricot and pineapple for 2 cups fruit and 1 cup coconut shreds for a tropical bar.

 

 

 

 

 

I recently did some research on corned beef and found some unsettling information about its past.  This delicious dish has a decidedly unsavory past.  During the 17th to 19th century most of Ireland’s fertile lands were taken oven by the British to be used as cattle grazing fields to produce corned beef that would be sent to Britain, France and America.  Due to the preservation technique of corning beef it could be shipped all over the world.  The Irish people were left with only marginal farm lands and needed to turn to the potato for much of their food consumption.  They did not get to enjoy the beef.  When the potato famine hit many people in Ireland starved.

Let us not blame the corned beef but the culture.  Has this changed?  Have we learned from our past?  Looking at farming practices of today it does not seem like we have learned a thing.

This Saint Patrick’s day I propose that you corn your own beef, preferably a free range locally produced beef, purchase a potato from a local farmer or make sure it is not a russet but a more obscure potato, and buy local cabbage.

Raise your glass of Guinness (room temperature) and remember the Irish folks who may have suffered for the corned beef.  Let’s make this holiday one to celebrate the  hardy Irish  people and not green cupcakes.

Remember the past because it is being repeated….

Ok, so I am now going to hop off of my soap box and corn some beef.

Please take the time to cure your own beef.  The results are amazing.  It is not hard, you just need to get started right away for it to be done by Saturday and you need to space in your fridge.

Recipe from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Rhulman and Brian Polcyn  (this is an interesting book and I cannot seem to put it down…)

Homemade Corned Beef Recipe

Ingredients

Pickling Spice

2 tablespoons black peppercone

2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons all spice berries

1 tablespoon ground mace

2 cinnamon sticks broken into pieces

4 bay leaves

2 tablespoons whole cloves

1 tablespoon  ground ginger

Brine

1 gallon water

2 cups kosher salt

½ cup sugar

5 teaspoons pink salt

3 garlic cloves minced

4 tablespoons pickling spice (see above recipe)

1 5lb beef brisket (first cut)

  • Make  the pickling spice
  • 1. Lightly toast the  peppercorns, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds in a small dry skillet, then  smash them with the side of a knife just to crack them.
  • 2. Combine the cracked  spices with the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Store in a tightly sealed  plastic container or glass jar.
  • Make  the brine
  • 3. Combine the water, salt,  sugar, pink salt, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the pickling spices in a pot  large enough to hold the brisket comfortably. Bring to a simmer, stirring until  the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool  to room temperature, then refrigerate the brine until it’s completely  chilled.
  • 4. Place the brisket in the  brine and weight it down with a plate to keep it submerged. Refrigerate for 5  days.
  • 5. Remove the brisket from  the brine and rinse it thoroughly under cool running water. (Resting is not  required here because the distribution of the brine will continue in the long,  slow cooking process.)
  • Cook  the corned beef
  • 6. Place the brisket in a  pot just large enough to hold it and add enough water to cover the meat. Add the  remaining pickling spice and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and  simmer gently for about 3 hours, or until the brisket is fork-tender. There  should always be enough water to cover the brisket; replenish the water if it  gets too low.
  • 7. Remove the corned beef  from the cooking liquid, which can be used to moisten the meat and vegetables,  if that is what you’re serving (see headnote). Slice the corned beef and serve  warm, or cool, then wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve, or for up  to a week.

I will frequently go through a phase where I will make a frittata at least once a week.  I use lovely farm fresh eggs and what ever I have in the fridge.  I never get tired of eating fritattas.  In my house we will eat them for breakfast, lunch with salad or even as a light dinner with salad and crusty fresh-baked bread.

Making fritattas is a wonderful way to clean out all of those little bits of cheese, cooked meats or veg you may have in the fridge.  I have made grilled skirt steak, sharp cheddar and green chile, or ground beef with taco seasonings, salsa and jack cheese combinations.  Kalamta olive, feta, sun-dried tomato and spinach is also a good flavor combination.  You can keep it simple with a classic combination of Ham and Swiss.  You really can’t go wrong.

My favorite is roasted bell peppers, sausage and goat cheese.  When I purchase goat cheese I will often buy Laura Chenel Chevre.  Laura’s goat cheese dairy  is the gold standard of American made French style goat cheese.  The dairy is located in Sonoma California and uses primarily local dairies so you can really taste the terrior of the Napa and Sonoma regions.  Terrior is a delightful French word meaning the flavor of a certain region or land.  We do not have a similar word in English but we should.

In Boulder we are lucky to have a local dairy that produces some excellent goat cheese. I have been purchasing Laura Chenel Chevre for years but lately will frequently purchase Haystack Mountain goat cheese for cheese boards or appetizers.  Haystack makes a goat Camembert that is the best cheese I have ever eaten.  The Queso de Mano is also delightful.  They have a large variety of artisanal goat cheeses.  This is a thriving local business that has grown steadily during the economic downturn and continues to produce excellent cheeses that win awards every year.   I could consume buckets of the Applewood Smoked Chevre.  Seriously….this cheese is light with just a hint of smokiness.  I made a quesadilla with the applewood smoked chevre and roasted green chile.  Very delicious.

Fritatta with Goat Cheese, Roasted Sweet Bell Peppers and Sausage

10 Large Eggs

1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream or Milk (You can use low-fat milk for a lighter taste)

1/2 lb good quality Breakfast Sausage Crumbles (I used Jimmy Dean all natural)

1 Sweet Red, Orange or Yellow Bell Pepper Charred on the grill or gas stove, cleaned of black bits and rough chopped

4 oz Fresh Soft Chevre (Goat Cheese)( I used Laura Chenel fresh soft chevre)

1/4 Tsp Thyme (If you use fresh use 1/2 tsp)( I used some of the lovely French Thyme I bought at Savory Spice Shop.)

1/2 tsp Corn Starch

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray pie pan or cake round with non-stick spray or rub with butter.  Beat together eggs, heavy cream and corn starch.  The corn starch will help the frittata stay light a fluffy during baking.  You can omit the corn starch if you are eating gluten free or low carb.

Cook sausage in a pan and drain off excess fat.

Put sausage, peppers and cheese in the pie pan.  Pour over egg mixture and top with thyme.  Season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until custard is set in the middle.  Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.  Can be served either hot, cold or room temperature.

You can also use the classic italian method with a cast iron pan instead of a pie pan.  Elsie from Simply Recipes has good instructions on how to make a frittata by starting it on the stove top.

I have a confession to make.  I dream about cheese enchiladas.  Really.. Creamy cheese studded with finely diced onions, the sweet corn tortillas, the spicy red sauce draping the tortillas seductively with a melting cheese topping and fresh cilantro.  Truly one of my favorite dishes.  Rustic comfort food at it’s best.

When I am faced with the need to make enchiladas but do not have time to make the sauce I turn to Hatch brand red chile enchilada sauce.  This is the only commercial brand I will use.  When I want my enchiladas to be perfect with spicy and complex sauce, I will make my own.  It is simple and does not take much time.  You can control the level of spice.  Most commercial brands of enchilada sauce are bland and mild.  I like my enchilada sauce to contain a bit of a kick.

Red Chile Enchilada Sauce

3 TBS Canola Oil

3 TBS All purpose flour

2 Cups Chicken Stock or Water

1  (6oz) can Tomato Paste (Muir Glen)

1 (15 oz) can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes drained

2 TBS Good Chile Powder

1 Tsp Cumin Seed Fresh Ground or Cumin Powder

1 Chipotle Chili in Adobo Sauce (freeze the rest of the chilies for later use)

1/2 Tsp Sugar

1 Tsp Sea Salt

1 TBS Onion Powder

To make your roux combine flour and canola oil in a sauce pan and cook stirring constantly until it resembles a paste.  About 2 minutes.

In a food processor or blender add diced tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste and chipotle chile.  Blend until smooth and pour into the pan with the roux.

Stir until fully combined.

Add sugar, salt, onion powder, chile powder and cumin.

Whisk until combined.

Turn stove top to medium and simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened slightly.

Cheese Enchiladas

12 Corn Tortillas

1 lbs Grated Cheese (Mexican Asadero Cheese is great in this recipe mixed with 1/2 Cheddar Cheese)

1/2  Medium yellow onion diced finely

1/4 Cup Minced fresh cilantro

3 Cups Red Chile Enchilada Sauce

Most commercial corn tortillas will be dry and crack when you try to roll them.  If you microwave the tortillas on high, in the bag, for 1 minute the tortillas will soften and be more pliable.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a casserole pan with non stick spray for easy clean up.  Spread 1 cup of red chile sauce on the bottom of the casserole pan.

Combine grated cheese, diced onion and 1/2 of the cilantro in a bowl.  Lay 1 tortilla flat on your cutting board and spoon approximately 2 tablespoons cheese mixture in the center and roll.  Place rolled tortillas in casserole pan as you are rolling them and spread 1 tsp of red chile sauce over the top of each as you go along.  This will help keep the tortillas from cracking.  If they do crack do not worry they will still taste great.

After you have rolled all of the tortillas pour over the top of the enchiladas any remaining sauce and spread to cover the enchiladas completely.   Sprinkle some cheese on top of the enchiladas.  Place casserole dish in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.  Top with remaining cilantro before serving.

This dish goes well with cilantro cumin rice.  Add 1 tbs freshly ground cumin seed with 2 tbs canola oil and 1/2 cup minced cilantro.  Mix with 4-6 cups hot cooked rice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Squeeze the juice of 1/2 fresh lime over the rice and stir to combine.  You can use either white or brown rice.

Crunchy whole grain oats, nuts and sweet dried fruit.  This is a combination that has been delighting people for years.  You can buy tasty granola at any store but it is expensive.  The better the granola, the more expensive it is. I decided to make granola when I was running a business that provided healthy school lunches to 5 schools and needed to find some breakfast options that were easy to make, healthy and profitable.  When I investigated how to make my own granola I was surprised at how much oil and sweeteners  were in most granola recipes.  In order to get that great crunchy texture of the oats sticking together and the roasted oat flavor you needed to use a lot of oil and sugars thus making this healthy breakfast food decidedly un-healthy.

I made recipes using honey, maple syrup, brown sugar and corn syrup.  I used olive oil, butter and canola oil.  The honey and maple syrup were too expensive in most recipes because you needed to use large quantities.  The olive oil left a distinctly vegetal flavor.  Butter tasted great but was too expensive and shortened the shelf life of the granola.

Most of the recipes I found instructed you to use a lot of oil or butter on the oats and toast them in the oven.  This tasted fantastic but made the cereal very heavy.

I became frustrated that there really was no way to make a granola kids love, that was not a dessert.  Many breakfast items just seem like desserts to me that I wanted to stay away from them.

I decided to ask around and see if anyone I knew had a suggestion. One of my employees, who was a true hippy and converted her Volkswagen Rabbit to biodiesel herself, piped in and said to use applesauce.  My first reaction was ” oh yeah,,,,the old applesauce for oil trick from the low-fat 90’s”.  Whatever!  Oh my….wait.  “THE OLD APPLESAUCE FOR OIL TRICK”!  Genius.  It may just  work.

We baked up a batch that day and the whole school smelled of warm spices and apples.  It was divine.  The resulting product was just sweet enough to keep the kids happy and healthy enough to keep me happy.  Many little faces peeked around my kitchen door to ask me “Chef Connie, what are you making?”

I have since found many other wonderful recipes on the internet that use this technique..  Some much better than mine and have cobbled them all together to make a healthy and heavenly granola.

You can make your own apple sauce by peeling tart apples like granny smith and rough chopping them.  Toss them into the food processor and pulse until it is the texture of applesauce.  This makes the best granola.

I have to credit Nigella Lawson for a recipe from her cookbook Feast that helped create the final recipe as it was her particular combinations that brought it all home.  David Lebovitz and Molly Wizenberg also need to be credited for inspiration as well.  My recipe was made fabulous by seeing what these talented professionals did with the original idea.

This recipe can be adjusted to make many different flavor combinations.  My favorite are Maple and Pecan, Orange and Almond and Pumpkin and Cranberry.  You can also make Chocolate and Orange for a more decadent version. See below for instructions on these variations.

Healthy Granola

5 Cups  old-fashioned rolled oats

3 Cups almond slivers, rough chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1 Cup sunflower seeds (unsalted and raw work best)

1/2 Cup dried fruit such as cranberries, dried mango, apricots, dried coconut shreds and raisins (optional)

1/4 Cup brown sugar

2 Tsp ground cinnamon

1 Tsp ground ginger

1 Tsp Sea Salt

3/4 Cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/3 Cup maple syrup

1/4 Cup honey

2 Tbs canola oil

Mix together in a large bowl your oats, nuts, seeds, spices and brown sugar.

In a saucepan on the stove mix applesauce, oil, honey and maple syrup and warm slightly.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in bowl and mix throughly.

Spread mixture out on a parchment lined baking sheet until it is an even layer.

Bake for 45 minutes stirring every 10 minutes until browned and fragrant.

Remove from the oven and stir in chopped dried fruit.  Let cool completely.

I add the fruit at the end so that it does not burn during baking and keeps its bright colors.

For Maple Pecan Granola omit honey and increase maple syrup to 1 Cup and add pecans.

For Orange Almond Granola zest 2 fresh oranges and reserve the zest.  Add sliced almonds before baking.  Add orange zest after granola has baked but is still warm.  Toss together and let cool completely.

For Pumpkin and Cranberry add 3 cups pumpkin seeds before baking.  Add 2 tsp pumpkin pie spices. Baked granola and when done add dried and sweetened cranberries, toss together and cool completely.

For Chocolate Chip and Orange bake granola as instructed in recipe.  Omit nuts and dried fruit.  Zest 2 oranges and add to warm baked granola.  After granola has cooled completely add 2 cups dark chocolate chips.  I use 70% cacao dark chocolate chips for Ghirardelli.  This particular recipe is used for snacking and not breakfast cereal in my house.  It is also great for granola bars which I will post later this week.

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