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Tuesday
Jun192012

YOGURT, STRAWBERRIES + "CRANACHAN"

sprouted kitchen strawberries

So maybe I got a bit greedy when I stopped by the farm for strawberries. They told me it'd be their last day of picking, the season had come to a close and friends, these strawberries are unlike any berry you've ever had. They are crimson red in their entirety and the juice seeps through your fingers like a summer peach. I bought six pints to have an appropriate strawberry binge before I wouldn't see them for another year. Fresh as they are, they turn pretty quickly, so there have been a lot of strawberry snacks. I ate most of them straight from the basket, made this again, put them in salad, on coconut gelato, and mashed up the rest in their last possible moment before turning on me for these yogurt cups. 

Cranachan is a snack from Scotland, which is traditionally whipped cream, whiskey, honey, raspberries and toasted oats. This is not traditional in any sense of the word, but since I got the idea from Nigel Slater, I figured I could describe this as such. You can't go in expecting granola, because it has a mouth feel closer to muesli than granola (drier, no crunch). Most recipes I crossed sweeten the oats and because I am such a granola fan, I couldn't help myself from adding nuts (there must be crunch!). I lightened it up by using greek yogurt and added a bit of cocoa to compliment the swirl of sweet berries. They save for a day or two, so I've packed up a few to have on hands for an afternoon sweet tooth. 

sprouted kitchen strawberries

YOGURT, STRAWBERRIES + "CRANACHAN" // Serves 4

Inspiration from Nigel Slater's Ripe

The strawberries I used were super ripe, and I would suggest you use the same if possible, as they yield a sweeter, juicier sauce. You could use frozen as well if you only come across immature, tart berries. The amount of sugar to get just a barely sweetened strawberry mash is up to you.

// cocoa cranachan //

1 cup rolled oats (not instant)

3/4 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts

1/3 cup muscavado or light brown sugar

1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1 Tbsp. maple syrup 

pinch of sea salt

 

plain, lowfat Greek yogurt

1 pint ripe strawberries

2 tsp. natural cane sugar

sprouted kitchen strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the oats on a rimmed baking tray and toast for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until they turn lightish brown and just begin to smell nutty. While the oats toast, put the hazelnuts, muscavado, cocoa, maple and salt in a bowl. As soon as you pull out the oats, put them into the bowl of goodies and toss them around so the sugar melts onto the oats. *Typically, this is where cranachan would be done but the muscavado didn't melt well for me, so I put the mixture back in the oven for another 6 minutes to help it stick to the oats and nuts. If yours needs more heat to melt the sugar, just pop the tray back in. Remove to cool. 

Halve or quarter the strawberries and put them in a large mixing bowl with the sugar. Give them a rough mash, but enough to get some juice out. Adjust sugar as preferred. 

Prepare your treats with a scoop of yogurt, scoop of berries and scoop of the cranachan. Repeat if you'd like the layered effect. 

sprouted kitchen strawberries

Wednesday
Jun132012

WHEAT BRIOCHE BUNS

sprouted kitchen buns Our fridge is jam packed with produce from a recent CSA basket pick up. I have lettuce heads so large they are taking up the entire bottom shelf and beets and their greens poking out their cramped heads from the crisper drawer. This abundance is what sparks creativity in me. As someone who thinks about food consistently, I enjoy the challenge of using what I have to make something different, despite there being swiss chard in EVERY.SINGLE.BASKET throughout the year. Hugh on the other hand sees chaos, not food. To use up some of my loot, and to prove there are, in fact, meals in there, we made some bahn mi style burgers (tofu or turkey as you choose). A tender homemade bun with dressed cucumbers, shaved carrots, cilantro and avocado. I regret I don't have a picture of that to share with you, but the recipe for the buns is not to be missed. 

If you want a successful recipe, Deb is your lady. Something tells me you're probably not a stranger to her site. If her dependable recipes and clean photos don't intrigue you, her wit and dry humor are sure to keep you coming back. There are rave reviews of the burger buns she featured and if there is anyone to be trusted, it is her. I tried to add some grains to them without risking a rock of a bun, and I think we did pretty well (you can find the original on her site). They have a bit of the heartiness that whole wheat products have, while still being gentle and delicate in structure. They make an ideal vehicle for a veggie burger, grilled salmon sandwich with greens and aioli or whatever you wish. Much like making pizza dough, it is a simple process, it's just the waiting time between rises that takes some planning ahead. Maybe it is not a quick weeknight endeavor, but there is no comparison to the storebought kind, and another bbq weekend is just around the corner. 

sprouted kitchen buns

sprouted kitchen buns

sprouted kitchen buns

WHEAT BRIOCHE BUNS // Makes 8 buns

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen (who has a book coming!) via The New York Times

This recipe below reflects the amounts for 8 buns, though the pictures show I did make four. If you only want four, simply halve the amounts below. I meantion it in the direction, but it bears repeating. Form the final buns into a more height focused ball than a wider one, they spread during that second rise and I found mine to be flatter than I'd have hoped.

3 Tbsp. warm milk

2 tsp. active dry yeast

2 1/2 Tbsp. natural cane sugar

2 eggs

2 cups unbleached bread flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup wheat bran

1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

sesame seeds, for topping

sprouted kitchen buns

sprouted kitchen buns

sprouted kitchen buns

sprouted kitchen buns

sprouted kitchen buns

sprouted kitchen buns

In a glass measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. In a small bowl, beat one egg.

In another large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, just turn and fold and tustle it around, until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. The dough will be on the sticky side so it can be a bit messy, but the more flour you add, the tougher the buns will get. Let it stay a bit tacky. 

Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with a dish cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball (a taller ball, not a flat one, they flaten and spread on their own as they rise) and arrange two to three inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with the dish cloth and let buns rise in a warm place for one to two hours. 

Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with one tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. 

Keep buns in an airtight container. Should last about 3 days, getting firmer as days pass. 

sprouted kitchen buns

Sunday
Jun032012

RATATOUILLE BARLEY SALAD

In a recent podcast about time, our pastor referred to the "margins of our lives" and I was immediately struck by the term. I interpreted it to be the time that we are not concerned with being busy. There is the work that we have to do to make a living, there is the busyness that we make by way of cleaning, errands, seeing friends, working out, and so on, and then there is the margin - the unplanned time. I don't know many people who have a lot of it, but it exists, and it is ours to fill. To fill with yet more busyness or leave open for small pleasures. I fall default to the former. I pack it full in attempt to make that margin productive and efficient. I fill it to manipulate the most out of that time, which I realized is completely defeating of the entire idea, and make work of it instead. Enjoyable work, but not really the "no schedule" type of time that I really love when I do surrender to it.

That message sunk in. I've since found myself on multiple jogs with Hugh, dual headsets in the ipod, listening to a zombie apocolypse running motivational app. That wasn't on my to do list, but may be one of the most humorous memories I have with my husband to date. We had a family bbq to celebrate our new niece on Sunday and I stopped a few times to recognize the simple things - how comfortable I am with my inlaws, the charm of quirky personalities, my niece who gives THEE best face squishy snuggles on the planet, that my mom will drop off extra flowers for the table in a moments notice, how helpful Hugh is, and chatting with my sister in law, a now great friend of mine, over a kitchen full of dishes...a sign of a good party. The busy gets done, but the margin is where the good stuff is.

I made this salad to share with all that summer produce that's blazing forth into my kitchen. It is super easy to throw together, and can be made in advance (a perfect bbq dish). The vegetables here are sturdy to hold their shape in the sea of grains, each cooked seperately to retain their flavors. I cooked them in a cast iron pan as our charcoal grill is somewhat of a project for a few veggies, but if you're grill is on, they'd be great cooked there too. Keep it easy, that's the best thing about this salad.

RATATOUILLE BARLEY SALAD // Serves 8

I used pearled barley because I had a loose bag that I wanted to use up. You could use quinoa, farro, bulgar, rice etc., you just need about 2 1/2-3 cups cooked of whichever you choose. If you like some kick, a few pinches of red pepper flakes would work nicely here.

1 cup pearled barley

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. agave nectar

1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2'' slices

about 6 zucchini, 1/2'' coins

olive oil + lemon pepper for cooking

2 cups baby tomatoes, halved

1/3 cup finely chopped basil

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

grated parmesan, as desired

sea salt, as needed

Rinse the barley. Put it in a pot with about 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil then down to a simmer, add a few pinches of salt and cook for about 25-30 minutes until tender. Drain any excess water and transfer the grains to a big mixing bowl. Add the minced garlic and a pinch of salt while the grains are still hot, and stir. Add the oil, vinegar and agave and stir to coat. Set aside.

Heat a hearty drizzle of olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat (you can alternatively grill the eggplant and zucchini). Add the zucchini and a generous sprinkle of lemon pepper and saute until well charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the barley bowl. Rub lemon pepper or similar seasoning on all sides of the eggplant. Sear the eggplants in the pan, this will have to be done in two batches. I like to cook both sides with a bunch of seasonings until the eggplant starts to soften and then add a drizzle of oil. Turns out a bit less greasy this way. Let the eggplant cool slightly. Chop it into 2'' chunks and add it to the barley bowl. Add the halved tomatoes, basil, parsley and toss everything to mix. Taste for salt (remember you're adding parm so go easy) and pepper and maybe a bit more vinegar if you prefer.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Generously sprinkle the grated parmesan on top and another pinch of fresh herbs and fresh pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Keeps well in the fridge for about five days.

Tuesday
May222012

LEMON PANCAKES WITH YOGURT + BERRIES

There was a time when I thought pancakes only came from Bisquick boxes. Pancake creativity maxed out at throwing in some chocolate chips or blueberries into the batter on a weekend morning, but my parents were no-fuss kind of cooks. To be fair, I likely wouldn't have recognized boxed from homemade as a kid, but I've found myself fascinated by the more deliberate kind lately. I mean the variety of recipes is endless, with ratios of dry to liquid varying greatly. You can really get fussy about the art of the pancake. Should they be cakey? Thin? Custardy inside? Sweet enough to stand alone or less so, assuming they'll be covered in maple syrup? I'll chalk it up to personal preference, but the vote around here is thin and tender, and faintly sweet. I've used all sorts of grain flours, liquid sweeteners, some dairy free versions with coconut milk, and others bound with flaxmeal... and to think at one point, they only came from a yellow box.

This naturally gluten free recipe from Bea's cookbook is just lovely. They have some volume to them from the whipped egg white, which I appreciated more than I thought I would. She calls for lemon extract, and this would have made that flavor more obvious, but instead of yet another trip to the market, the fresh juice and zest lent a gentle brightness. They are tender from the yogurt and the care taken to not overcook them. You flip when you just begin to see the bubbles and no longer than a minute on the other side. I am sure maple would have worked, but the lemon was begging for creaminess and berries on a sunny spring morning. 

Happy long weekend ahead. Hope there is a slow morning with pancakes in your future. 

LEMON PANCAKES WITH YOGURT + BERRIES // Serves 4, makes about 12 small pancakes

Loosely adapted from La Tartine Gourmande by Beatrice Peltre

I didn't have all the ingredients from Bea's original recipe, but I worked with what I had, still keeping them gluten free. She uses rice flour, quinoa flour and quinoa flakes, which I image would produce a pancake that is slightly more delicate than mine. She suggests in her headnote that buttermilk, milk or yogurt can be used in the batter. I used a mix but you can use whatever you happen to have on hand. 

You don't need to have packaged oat flour. It's a quick whizz in the blender of some rolled oats and poof, you have oat flour. If you don't need or want them to be gluten free, 1 cup total of your preferred flour should work just fine. 

 

1/3 cup almond meal

1/3 quinoa flour

1/3 cup oat flour (ground rolled oats)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

2 1/2 Tbsp. natural cane sugar

2 eggs, seperated

1 cup buttermilk, yogurt or milk (I used half yogurt and half milk)

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

zest of one meyer lemon 

1 Tbsp. melted coconut oil, plus more for cooking

// topping //

1 cup whole or lowfat yogurt

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. honey

blueberries

 

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir to mix. 

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the buttermilk/yogurt, vanilla, lemon juice and zest, and the oil. Add this wet mixture to the dry and stir to combine. 

In a stand mixer or with hand mixers, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter. 

In a frying pan, heat a small pat of oil over medium heat. Pour a scant 1/4 cup batter in the pan and repeat with as many pancakes as you can without overcrowding. Cook until bubbles form, flip and cook another minute until golden. Repeat with remaining batter. 

Mix the yogurt with lemon juice and honey. Serve the warm pancakes with a lemon yogurt drizzle and fresh blueberries. 

 

Tuesday
May152012

BRAISED LEEKS + MUSCOVADO LENTILS

We visited a couple restaurants in Los Angeles on Sunday to celebrate my birthday. I rarely have particular plans of what I'd like to do to celebrate, but I know specifically where and what I'd like to eat. May will be a month full of events. There will be a number of birthdays, mothers day, wedding season for Hugh, a new niece coming any day now and all sorts of things in between. Cooking, amidst all the going out to eat and desserts these days bring, seems less intriguing but it's also the place I get recharged. I like being alone in the kitchen, no music, watching ingredients come together and trying something new. Some of that inspiration comes from visiting fun restaurants, so birthday months always leave me full of ideas.

Both Gjelina and Tasting Kitchen are places we've visited before, but I love the ambiance at both. Most restaurant menus these days seem to give you a pretty extensive list of what is in each dish, boasting the name of the farm that it's produce is from or which variety of this, that or the other the food item is. I care about those details when I'm picking out food to cook at home, but while browsing the Tasting Kitchen's menu, so minimal and vague, I realized how that simplicity spoke a confidence in their dishes - that they didn't need to romanticize them to the guests. In typical LA fashion you can't change or substitute anything, so what is the point in knowing every ingredient anyway? So we got two appetizers: braised leeks + burrata and broccolini + lentils... so unassuming. Both great, but my favorite part were the lentils that had a caramelized sweetness to them and bits of crunchy breadcrumbs. Sweet lentils! A new preparation to me, but Hugh would barely share with me so I was determined to recreate a portion I could savor all to myself. Leeks are naturally sweet, and the braising gives them a silkiness that melts along side the lentils. Such a simple preparation for such a glorious texture. Below is a recipe that mimicks a combination of those appetizers. It would make an excellent light lunch, a side dish for a number of proteins, or a tasty bed for poached or fried eggs.

BRAISED LEEKS + MUSCOVADO LENTILS // Serves 2

Inspired by the Tasting Kitchen, Venice Beach with some tips on leek braising from Vegetarian Times

If you're skeptical of the sweetness, start with less muscovado and work up to a point you like it. A light brown sugar will work as well. If cooking these for more people, I would guess you could double or triple the amount of leeks and bake them in a 9x13 pan covered with foil. However, you will likely need less liquid than a direct multiplication. Eyeball it, you want the liquid just more than halfway up the side of the leeks. If you give this a try, let me know how it turns out.

 

3 large leeks, dark green parts removed

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup low sodium vegetable broth

2 tsp. agave or honey

pinch of salt + pepper

 

// lentils//

2/3 cup black or green lentils, rinsed

1/2 T. unsalted butter

1 tsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. muscovado sugar (or light brown sugar)

2 tsp. rice vinegar

 

1/4 cup fresh toasted breadcrumbs (great tips here)

3 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley

Trim the dark green parts from the top of the leeks, and just enough off the bottom to leave the ends it tact (this holds them together). Halve them lengthwise and remove any dirt.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the leeks, cut side down and cook about 3 minutes until browned. Drizzle the tsp. of olive oil on top, flip them over and cook another two minutes. Add the broth, agave and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Turn the heat to a gentle simmer, partially cover and cook for about 25 minutes until they are buttery soft.

While the leeks are cooking, start your lentils. Put the lentils, about 1 1/4 cups water and a pinch of salt in a pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cook until the lentils are cooked through, adding a bit more water if needed, and cook off any excess water in the end. If the leeks are done by this point, just take them off the heat and leave them covered, they're fine.

Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Add the lentils, sprinkle in the muscovado, rice vinegar, pinch of salt and pepper and saute to coat evenly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Plate the leeks with the lentils on top and garnish with breadcrumbs and parsley. Enjoy warm.