You Can Milk Anything With…

October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Nuts.   Every time I chomp into a raw almond my palatte conjures images of the sweet almond’s nectar, commonly known as almond milk.  Consequentially I tried to satisfy my craving with uht boxed almond milk.  While the taste was somthing resembling almonds it no where near appeased my hankering.  I was dreaming of something creamy and smooth, sweet and nutty, luscious and decadent.

After many cups of my favorite pumpkin chai tea steeped in sad, boxed almond water I set out to make my own, true almond milk.  Without preservatives and taunting of deliciousness.

I used 2 cups of almonds and by the end of the batch it was getting a little iffy.  I recommend using 1 cup and making a pint of thin milk or 2 cups of rich cream, depending on the future use.

Almond Milk

1 cup almonds
3 cups water
1 food processor
cheese cloth
sweetener to taste

pinch of salt

Cover the almonds with water, about an inch above the top so that the can expand as they soak.  Leave them alone to get plump and hydrated overnight.

Put the almonds, with some water for lubrication, in the food processor and give it all a whirl, chopping until they are nice and minced into a puree.

 

Lay the cheesecloth over a bowl and scoop the puree into the cloth.  Either in one large or many small batches depending on the size of the cheese cloth.

Squeeze out as much of the nectar as you can.  It will be a creamy silk perfection.  If your cheese cloth has large holes you may want to strain the mixture again until you achieve this heavenly consistency.

Now add water to the cream.  The more you add the thinner it will be.  I added about two cups per 1 cup of almonds to create a nice creamer for chai tea or poached pear deserts.

Let the succulent milk sit overnight to bloom in the fridge.

Take out the milk.  Sip.  Add a touch of salt.  Sip.  Add your sweetener of choice.  Pour a glass.  This is quite perishable so drink up!

Eat Happily.

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Barnard’s Apples

October 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

Is there a saying about nothing being better than an apple picked straight from a tree?  I don’t think there is.  There should be.  Because, there is nothing like eating an apple picked straight from a tree.

The apples I gathered from the orchard yesterday had the sweetest, crispest, most awakening flavor of any apple I have ever tasted. No, I am not exaggerating.  They are that incredible.

I just wanted to share my enthusiasm, and some pictures.  In fact, I am so excited about these apples from Barnard’s, that I plan on having an apple tasting party.  More about flavor comparisons after the fact.

For now,  I am still consuming at least two apples a day, mostly Empire, which are my current obsession.  They are sweet and extraordinarily juicy, with a crisp smack.

Eat Happily.

Arugula Pistachio Pesto

October 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

If colors had a taste, this would be a vivid green, it is bursting with crisp peppery arugula and radient lemon fused with the nutty notes of pistachos.  This is a quick saucy spread that will leave your palette curious for more.  The key is to use the best arugula you can find, I cut my own from Rushton Farms in Newtown Square, Pa.  Get to it though, as the season for arugula is coming to an end.  The proportions here will yield about 1 cup, so if you stumble upon an abundance of late season crop, scoop it up and make lots of this pesto as an alternative to mayo, pizza or pasta sauces, or just serve it as a spread with fresh bread.

Arugula Pistachio Pesto Spread

1 clove garlic
1/2 cup unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
4 cups arugula, chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
salt
and pepper to taste

Use a food processor to chop the garlic then add the pistachios and cheese and chop until they are finely ground.   Now add the chopped arugula, zest, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, you can adjust the lemon to you liking at the end.  Run the processor until the mixture has the consistency of a paste.  As the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  Take a little sample and adjust the levels of salt, pepper, and lemon.  Because arugula is already peppery I added a healthy amount of salt and most of the lemon juice.

Eat Happily.

Pear Poaching and Thoughts on Almond Tarts

October 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

Almonds have the greatest ability to be delicious in so many forms.  Toasted almonds add the greatest nutty crunch to salads and soups.  Whereas raw almonds are milky and smooth.  The creamy texture of raw almonds has forced me to dream of making my own almond milk, and from what I gather, the process is not all that daunting.  Before any other almond fantasies could come true, I assembled a peppercorn poached pear and almond tart with an almond crust.  Unfortunately,  my favorite part was the subtly spiced perfectly tender Bartlette Pears from Barnards Orchards.

And by no means is it an unfortunate thing to have discovered my new adoration and curiosity of pear poaching, though the tart itself was just not worth the hours of effort.  But my tummy is telling me that there is still hope, and that the next variation will be magnificent.  In any case, it was a gorgeous little experiment, and I am already planning my future pear poaching and almond pasting.   No more canned almond paste.  From now on I will listen to my gut and make the almond paste with butter and sugar, only the best for my tarts.  For the pears I am envisioning the use of honey, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and maybe even some savory pears with thyme poached in a smoked sugar from Northbrook Marketplace.   Only the future can tell.

Poached Pears

4 cups water
1 1/4 cups Demerara Sugar
4 Bartlette Pears (Boscs were not ready yet, but are preferable) peeled, seeded, quartered
20 peppercorns (give or take)
Vanilla bean

Heat the water and sugar together in a large sauce pan until the sugar dissolves.  Check on it every couple minutes and stir frequently. Once the sugar has dissolved add the peppercorns and vanilla or any flavorings suited to your taste buds.  Add the pears in a layer.  Keep the water boiling very lightly and try to be sure that they stay mostly submerged by pushing them down with the back of a wooden spoon every so often, or construct a pear poaching parchment paper tool found here.  They will take about 20 minutes to become soft.  Once they have become nice and delicate like butter they are poached.  Remove them from the heat and allow them too cool until they are needed.

Eat Happily.

 

Spiced Spaghetti Squash

October 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

 

Often times during the summer I will shred zucchini and use it in place of a pasta.  Although, when the chili air and short days of autumn appear the days of zucchini pasta are enthusiastically replaced by strands of spaghetti squash.  Its flavor is light and versatile, eager to adapt to almost any flavor you should choose.  Think of it as a vegetable chameleon.   I choose to coat it with a cumin, coriander, and chili pepper butter today as I prepared another sample for the Ruston Farm CSA.  If these spices don’t make you smile in anticipation of a nice warming meal, try substituting oregano or thyme for an Italian classic, or ginger and lime for something Asian and bright.  Also an option is to use solely olive oil and make the dish completely vegan, or maybe sesame oil with the ginger and lime.  So many options, so little time.

 

Spiced Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash (preferably from your farmer)
4 tablespoons butter or oil (I used a combination of both)
3 cloves minced garlic
sprinkling of chili pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon corriander
salt
to taste
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup toasted nuts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.   Place the squash on a light oiled baking sheet with the cut side down.  Roast for about 35 minutes until you can pierce the skin very easily with a knife.  While the squash is in the oven, melt the butter/heat the oil and add the garlic.  When the garlic is nice and golden add your spices, salt, raisins, and nuts.  Take the spiced butter off the heat.  Once the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it cool to the point where you can touch it without disfiguring yourself.  Peel the skin with your brave fingers, a knife, or just use a fork to scoop/shred the strands into a bowl.  Mix in the spiced butter, and your are finished.

Eat Happily.

Green Tomato Tart

October 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is a mix of much research and many recipes which resulted in something crumbly, jamey, tart, and sweet.  I discovered the crust here and am now hooked.  It is a nice herbed and nutty crust, which is perfect for any sort of savory tart.  Next, I am thinking a butternut squash and caramelized onion combo.  A word of warning: the crust may not hold up well with overly juicy fillings, and tomatoes surely fall into the category of juicy so plan accordingly.  Which is what led me to spread a healthy layer of dijon mustard on the bottom of the crust before baking (thanks to David Lebovitz’s suggestion in his French Tomato Tart recipe).  The tomatoes I used are a beautiful variety called Green Zebras which I grew and have been eating raw all summer.  They are firm and vibrant up until the second when they become wilted and muted. They have a tangy crisp taste and are perfect to soften and sweeten under a blanket of crumbled goat cheese.

 

Green Tomato Tart with  Herbed Olive Oil Crust

Crust adapted from the Chocolate and Zucchini Easy Olive Oil Tart Crust:

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon herbs de provence (or any herbs which suit your recipe)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ice water

Mix the flour, salt, and herbs in a bowl.  Add the olive oil and stir with a spoon until combined.  Slowly add the water and continue stirring with the fork  until everything starts to come together and forms into a ball.  Now lightly knead the dough for a minute.

The fun part is rolling out the dough.  Take the ball and lay it on a floured surface, get your rolling pin and begin quickly and evenly flattening the dough while simultaneously rotating the disc and dusting flour underneath to prevent any sticking.  Try to be as quick and light handed as possible.  When the dough will fit into the tart pan ( I usually need to visually double check by holding the pan over the rolled out dough) wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unravel it onto the pan, or just delicately pick it up and transfer with a gentle touch.  Pat the dough into the pan and use the rolling pin to roll over the rim and even everything out.  Take any excess dough, gather it into a ball and flatten into a disk.  Cover the tart crust with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Start making the filling.

Filling

10 small Green Zebra Tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick (or an equivalent amount to fill a tart with one layer)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 tablespoon herbs de provence
Olive oil
to drizzle

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lay the tomatoes in a single layer on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.  Cover with another layer of towels to absorb some of their juices.  Let them sit until the tart crust has rested.  Once 30 minutes has passed, take the dough and spread a nice layer of mustard on the bottom, this will help keep things from getting soggy and messy during consumption.  Allow the mustard dry for a minute or so.  Nestle the tomatoes into their cozy, mustardy bed, sprinkle them the herbs and cheese, drizzle some olive oil and tuck them into a nice hot oven.  It will take about 20 minutes for the cheese to melt, the crust to bake, and the tomatoes to ooze.

With the left over crust I made a single serving galette using the same technique but only one single slice of tomato.  The dough thicker, the mustard thiner, the presentation adorable, and the taste magnificent.

Eat happily.

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