Fun with Breakfast Cereal, Take 1

18 06 2013

I got into a couple of interesting discussions on Facebook last week, specifically about an article entitled You Are What You Eat: A Food Blogger’s Dilemma, in which the author, Jamie Schler, laments the increasing presence of  processed foods and craft projects masquerading as recipes on many food blogs. She asks if food bloggers should be responsible for promoting healthy, home-cooked food, or is the genre devolving into a get-rich-or-at-least-lots-of-attention-quick scheme. I, for one, am completely on board with her point (in case you couldn’t tell from my paraphrasing back there). There are SO many food blogs out there these days, and all are in a very real way in competition. And when you spend time and energy trying to come up with creative recipes using real food, writing something intelligible about it, and posting it, it’s downright frustrating to see newer, flashier blogs getting more attention for making Oreos look like mice or whatever. It’s also a surprising trend given how much we hear and read these days about eating more local and organic foods, which I do think is happening. Even in standard grocery stores in the United States, you’ll now see “Locally Grown!” signs, and farmer’s markets are getting bigger and busier. It just doesn’t make sense to me, in a time when better food is becoming more available, why anyone would want to load up on food dyes and chemical preservatives.

hypocrisy never tasted so good

All that said, I have a Rice Krispie treat recipe for you today. It basically flies in the face of everything I just wrote, but sometimes life is like that. So let’s just agree that it’s important to recognize that some things are occasional treats. Like processed cereal (although really, Rice Krispies aren’t so terrible in the scheme of things – at least they don’t have a ton of added sugar) and marshmallows (which I really do love, and if I had a stand mixer I would totally make them myself, thus making them ok).

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Green Pizza

26 03 2009

This is one of those posts written in desperation – the kind of desperation that comes when something is on its way out of season.  In this case, broccoli.  And while sage is pretty good year-round, its flavor is indelibly tied to the colder months.

The dish was invented in a different kind of desperation – the kind when you’re wandering around the grocery store looking for something to cook for dinner.  Preferably something easy, quick and healthy.  It was St. Patrick’s Day, but the sky was too blue and the air too almost-warm to consider cooking one of the more traditional celebratory dishes.  I still wanted to make something to commemorate the day.  I caught a glimpse of some deep green broccoli and thought that it was both nutritious and dressed for the occasion.  Into my basket it went, next to the Guinness, and I wondered how to make a meal out of a head of broccoli.  Well, I had pizza dough in the freezer, and some goat cheese and sage in the fridge… sweet!  Done shopping!

Pizza dough spread with sage pesto

Somewhere along the way I realized that I had all the necessary ingredients (pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano) for pesto just sitting there in the kitchen.  And the pizza came together.  Pesto and broccoli first, then a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, a drizzle of olive oil, and a handful of crumbled goat cheese. 

St Paddy's Day Pizza

Luck must have been with me, because this pizza was everything I wanted: fast, healthy, and holiday-appropriate.  Because I know that some of you out there like recipes, here’s how I made the sage pesto.  You should be able to figure out the rest of the pizza yourself.  (Those of you who don’t like recipes, well, I’m sure you’ll wing it anyway.)

Sage Pesto

 

In retrospect, just the pesto spread on the pizza dough and baked would make some fantastic breadsticks.  The recipe makes just the right amount for a two-person pizza, but it would also be great on pasta or spread on a turkey sandwich.

 

1 bunch sage, leaves picked, washed, and chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. pine nuts, chopped

2 Tbsp. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated

Squeeze of lemon juice

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  The texture will be chunky and “rustic,” but you could easily put the mixture into a food processor or blender if you want a smoother end result.

 

Makes about 1/3 cup (85 ml).

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





The Winter Squash Saga, Part II: Dessert

28 10 2008

As I promised yesterday, I’m back today with the winter squash, orange, and sage dessert.  I initially liked the idea of using these ingredients in a dessert because it seemed like more of a challenge.  Sage, in particular, is not usually used in sweets and I thought I could do something interesting with it.

Warm, fragrant, and fuzzy, sage is the freshly laundered blanket of the herb family.

The squash part was easy.  Winter squash-based sweets abound: pumpkin pies, cheesecakes, muffins, and even pancakes feature on menus everywhere this time of year (well, not in the southern Hemisphere, I guess).  In my first restaurant job I was given a recipe for butternut squash flan.  I thought it was a great idea, but the stupid thing never worked right.  My theory was that if we had just put a thin layer of caramel in the bottom of the molds, like you’re suppposed to when you’re making flan aka crème caramel, they would have come out beautifully every time.

The correct way to make crème caramel

So I did just that.  I also reduced the amount of cream in favor of milk (not something you’ll hear me say very often), because traditionally, crème caramel is the lightest of the baked custards and made using only milk and whole eggs.  Plus, I wanted that lighter texture.  I think it balances the richness of the caramel and helps to make more of that delicious sauce you get when you finally unmold the dessert.  I snuck some of the orange butter into the caramel to play up the orange flavor in the squash (I reserved some from the lasagna and puréed it using my beloved immersion blender).

Water baths are not a big deal.

After a short spell in the oven, their custards were ready.  I prefer mine just-set, by which I mean barely holding together.  Feeling pleased with my success so far, I left the custards in the fridge to chill overnight.

“But what about the sage?”  You must be wondering.  In one of those flashes of inspiration, it came to me.

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Potiron-Piquillo Soup

20 10 2008

Well, Fall is officially upon us.  The guys with the makeshift grills who sell corn on the cob all summer have switched over to chestnuts.  Winter squash are starting to show up in the market, and despite the gorgeous sunshine, there is a distinct nip in the air.  Soup is definitely in order these days.

A light Fall supper

Hope over at Hopie’s Kitchen has been regaling her readers with tales of her awesome organic farm share basket.  If there’s a best time of year to belong to one of these, I think Fall is it.  Anyway, she posted a delicious-looking Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper Soup a little while ago, and I wanted to make it, despite the fact that I am not, in general, a fan of bell peppers.  Upon reflection, I thought, wouldn’t it be good with the sweet smokiness of charred piquillo peppers?

Charring piquillo peppers - it's the fire that makes it good.

Never being one to leave recipes alone, I also decided to use a hunk of potiron (a type of pumpkin with very thick flesh and much more flavor than the kind used to make Jack O’ Lanterns) instead of the butternut squash.  I roasted it in the oven until it was soft, then scooped out the flesh and added it to my already-simmering pot of onions, piquillos, and chicken stock.  I seasoned the soup with salt, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, and the tiniest hint of cinnamon – just enough to bring out the warm sweetness of the potiron.  After simmering it all for about 10 minutes, I busted out the hand blender.

Ah, the hand blender.  Is there anything it can't do?

Wearing my new favorite T-shirt, I fearlessly buzzed the soup, knowing that the pot was deep enough to contain any splatters that might occur.

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