Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mostly Blackberry Galette

Okay, so obviously I love to cook, but baking, that's a different story. I love to try to bake, and I love to eat baked goods, but I have in no way mastered baking. I'm not sure if it is the exactness of the act of baking, or not understanding, fully, the science of baking, but try, try I continue to try. For those of you "Baking Challenged" among us, a galette is a great choice. A galette is a free formed, fruit pie. My advice is make several pie crusts in advance and freeze them so you will have them ready when you get to jonesin' for a fresh baked pie, especially when the fruits are at their peak. You could use store bought crust, but I really think a good homemade one is worth the effort.

I made this one with the leftover crust from my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. The recipe is for a standard pate brisee, I used the one that is in the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. The recipe can also be found here at her website. It says the recipe can be frozen for 1 month, oops, guess I never read that part. I found it to be perfectly fine after all that time. To defrost, I left it in the fridge overnight and then out on the counter for about 1 hour. When ready to make the galette, roll the crust out on a lightly floured surface into the best circle-like shape you can, about 1/8 " thick. My circle was about 11" in diameter, but this will vary. Place the disc like shape onto a parchment lined baking sheet with a rim, and place in the fridge to chill.

For the filling, I used about 2 cups of fresh blackberries, about 1 cup of frozen blueberries and about 1 cup of frozen, halved strawberries. I picked up the blackberries at Costco and the other fruit I had frozen from the farmer's markets last summer. Use whatever you have or like, be creative! In her Baking Handbook, Martha has the recipe for an Apricot-Blackberry Galette. I loosely adapted this to my recipe and I think is came out fine. Again, this does not have to be exact, thus the beauty of it!

To the berries, add 1/2 cup sugar (I used my vanilla sugar), 2 spoons of cornstarch (I used regular tableware), the zest of half an orange and the juice of half of the orange. Give the whole thing a good stir and let it sit out so the fruit can thaw a bit and all the flavors get to know each other. If you have all fresh fruit, still let them sit a bit. Feel free to use a different citrus juice, even apple if that is what you have.

When ready to bake, spoon out the fruit into the center of the crust. Spread it out a bit, then fold the edges over the fruit, overlap where you need to to get around in a circle. I gave the bottom of the folds a bit of a pinch to hold them down. Now, give the edges a wash with milk, beaten egg or even water. I used vanilla soy milk. Then sprinkle the edges with sugar. I love to use demerara sugar, gives it a great brown sugar-like taste and crunch. Place in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until bubbly and golden. I had a bit of filling leak out during the baking, so I opened the oven and repaired the break in the crust and kept on baking. That it why you use the parchment, easier to clean up.

When nice and golden and bubbly, remove to cool. These are best served up warm. Needless to say, we ate it very, very warm. So warm in fact, that I was not able to get a picture, oh well. I also put it over the top by plopping a few dollops of marscapone cheese on top of the hot fruit. Words cannot describe, sooooo good!

I hope you will try a galette of your own. I think that fact that the recipe is so loose, except for the crust, that even the beginning baker will bake with success! Let me know how they turn out!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I've been tagged!

Yea! I got tagged by 2 people this week for a meme! Thanks to Toontz at Okara Mountain and Tiffany at Life After Gluten. So, the challenge is to write a 6 word memoir and then tag 6 blogs that I like. Here goes:







My tags go out to

Hope you can check them out!

Mango Glazed Grilled Salmon with Goat Cheese Slaw

This recipe is my entry for the Leftover Queen May "Royal Foodie Joust ". Last month's winner picked the three ingredients, brown sugar, mango and cardamon. All recipes submitted need to include these three. I was initially going to make a tart, which I still may experiment with as I have another mango on hand, but I decided to play with the idea of making a mango, fruit barbecue type sauce to glaze my salmon with. The end result is a bit on the spicy side, with a touch of sweetness from the sugar and banana. You could definitely tone it down if you wish. To cool the sauce down, the salmon is served with a mango, cucumber relish. To play off the barbecue theme, I added a side of slaw. I love goat cheese, so instead of mayo, I combined goat cheese with creme fraiche. You could easily substitute plain yogurt, sour cream or mayo for the creme fraiche. I really like the creamy texture along with the slight tang of the slaw. If you like your slaw a bit looser, just add more creme fraiche, or yogurt.
We picked a great night to grill out. It actually got warm here yesterday! I will definitely be making this again, warm weather or not!
Mango Glazed Grilled Salmon with Goat Cheese Slaw

this recipe serves 2 for the salmon and makes about 7 cups of slaw

2 salmon fillets (I used Alaskan wild sockeye from TJ's)

BBQ Sauce

this can easily be doubled and would be great with pork, chicken or even tofu!

3/4 of a champagne mango, diced( about a generous 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup dark rum

3 tbl. dark brown sugar

2 tbl mashed banana, the riper the better but any will do

zest and juice of 1 small lime

1/4 tsp cardamon

1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne, more or less to taste

pinch sea salt

The best way to prepare the mango is to slice lengthwise just about to the center pit on both sides, leaving a thin slice containing the pit. You will not use this piece. Hold the mango and carefully run your knife along the inside, just to the skin, and dice (like you would an avocado). Then gently push the skin in the opposite direction, exposing the diced pieces. You can now slice them easily from the skin.

Place all the ingredients for the sauce in the food processor and process until the mixture is pureed. Then add the mixture to a small, heavy sauce pan and cook on med high heat, stirring often, until it begins to thicken. This took about 12 minutes on my stove. Once it has thickens, I pushed it through a fine sieve to give it a smoother consistency.

When you are ready to cook the salmon, be sure the grill is cleaned and oiled. I also rubbed the salmon with a bit of olive oil and gave it a lit sprinkle of kosher flake salt. Place the fish on a nice, hot grill, skin side up, for about 7 minutes or until a nice crust has formed. Flip the salmon, brush generously with the sauce and continue cooking for about 7-9 more minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. I brushed the fish again, halfway through. When the fish is thoroughly cooked, remove and serve with a bit of the relish on top.

Mango Cucumber Relish

the remainder of the diced mango, about 1/4 cup
the same amount of peeled, diced cucumber
a splash of rum,about 1 tsp
a bit of brown sugar, about 1 tsp
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients ahead of time and let them sit in the fridge until ready to serve, giving the flavors a chance to get to know one another.

Goat Cheese Slaw
4 cups finely sliced green cabbage
3 cups finely sliced red cabbage
1 1/2 cup finely grated carrot
1/2 cup finely grated green pepper
4 oz goat cheese
4 oz creme fraiche
zest of 1 lemon, about 1 tbl
2 tbl lemon juice
3 tbl grapefruit vinegar, any fruity vinegar would be fine
salt and pepper to taste

I used the food processor to to all the slicing and grating to save time. You could certainly do this without one, just slice them finely. Place all the sliced veg in a large bowl.

Combine the goat cheese with the creme fraiche and stir until smooth. Then add the remaining ingredients and give a good stir. Add the the veggies and toss, then taste again for additional s & p. Let them sit in the fridge for a few hours to chill. Give them a good toss again before serving.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Mahi Mahi on Wilted Kale and Mushrooms with Tomato Caper Polenta Towers


Okay, I know, long title, but how could I leave any of it out? I mean, when we sat down to eat this last night, it was hard to know where to start.
This meals origin was the "what should I do with this fish tonight", followed by a scavenger hunt of the fridge. I will say, I am surprised at what I came up with, and happy with the results. It really helps to keep ingredients in the pantry, though I would much prefer to have used fresh tomatoes. If you happen to have them on hand and want to make the polenta from scratch , go for it!

Having your ingredients prepped and ready to go, I find, saves panic in the kitchen. Especially with this meal because you can cook all the components at once. If that seems a bit manic, then have the kale prepared early and keep it warm while the fish and polenta cook. I love the challenge of 3 things going at once and getting them all out together, helps if you have a glass of wine as you go to calm the nerves. Here is the recipe for the meal, I made 2 servings and had some of the tomatoes left. No problem, great on toast or eggs the next day!

3/4 lb of Mahi Mahi fillets ( I used Trader Joe's frozen fillets that I thawed, rinsed and patted dry
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 lb of polenta in a tube, cut into 4 1/2" discs
more olive oil
1/3 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese, use the best you can get
1 baby bella portabella mushroom cap, sliced
1 large shallot, finely sliced about 1/3 cup
1 clove garlic, minced
more olive oil
4 cups chopped kale
splash of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water

13.2 oz or so, diced tomatoes
2 tbl capers, drained
2-3 anchovy fillets, chopped and mashed with side of knife or 1 tsp paste in a tube
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Prep the fish by rubbing with a bit of olive oil and then give them a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Have a large, non stick pan ready to go on the heat.
Place the polenta discs in a well oiled baking pan, give them a turn to coat both side. Have the oven broiler ready to go.

Have a large pan or saucier (I love to use mine) ready to go for the mushrooms and kale, you will need a lid for the pan.

Combine all the components for the tomato sauce together in a small bowl.
Okay, now you are ready to go! Start heating the pan for the fish on a fairly high heat, you want to get it seared. You can also get the heat going under the kale pan, about med high will do. When the pans are nice and hot, add olive oil, or you could use canola if you wish. This is when I pop the polenta under the broiler. It will need about 6-7 minutes or until it gets a bit golden before turning.
Add your fish to the pan, sear about 3-4 min. per side, give them a nice bit of color. Add the shallot and mushroom to the other pan and saute. When the shallots begin to soften, add the garlic, give it a minute, then add the kale, vinegar and water. Cover and turn the heat down a bit.
Check on the fish. Once both sides have a nice color, add the tomato mixture to the sides of the pan. Turn the heat down to med and continue to cook the tomato, giving it a gentle stir, be careful not to disturb the fish to much.

When the polenta has cooked on one side, turn, pile the cheese on, then back under the broiler till the cheese gets bubbly and a bit brown, another 6-7 minutes.
The tomatoes should be heated and the fish done after about 10-12 min. Check to be sure the fish is thoroughly cooked.

Uncover the kale in the last few minutes to let the excess liquid cook out. I like mine with a bit of a bite, usually about 10 min. of steaming, but cook it longer if you wish.

Now, all should be done, plate up and enjoy!

Note: what to do with the rest of the anchovies? I plan on making pizza pisaladiere tonight for supper with a nice salad!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vote for Larry!

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Okay, this has nothing to do with cooking or politics, just humor and soda pop.

Larry (the cat) has entered himself in the i can has cheezburger Jones Soda contest.

Please, oh please, vote here when you can. He has a super big ego (at 13) and feels that he is the true front runner in the contest. I am not sure when he was able to get ahold of the camera, government form and take this picture, not to mention getting it downloaded to the site. But I have to say, he is quite the photogenic feline.

Hmm, maybe that's what all the noise downstairs at night is all about?

I hate to think of all the mewing and yowling that will go on if he does not win. So vote to keep him happy.

Thank you for understanding.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Black Bean, Corn and TVP Burgers

So, this blog is supposedly about my veggie burgers, but shown above is a picture of a salad, and what the heck it TVP anyway? Relax, read on and it will all make sense, grasshopper. Let me start off by letting you know that in this house we have been eating frozen, grocery store veg burgers regularly for at least the last year or so. I have decided that it is time to step it up and make my own. Not that I don't like the others, but, if we are going to really eat as well and naturally as we can, then it's time to rid the house of one more processed food, not to mention saving a bit of cash. Reading the ingredients on some of those boxes can really make a girls head spin. How exactly "natural" are "natural added flavors"? I am starting with the black bean variety simply because that is what I have on hand today and don't feel like a grocery trip. Feel free to substitute or add veggies and seasonings. I made these fairly mild, that's how we like them. Oh, the salad, well, since I am also trying to cut the calories and lose some excess weight, I eat veg burgers on a bed of lettuce. And finally TVP stands for textured vegetable protein and a great explanation can be found at What The Heck Is Textured Vegetable Protein. I added some to bolster the nutrition and give it a bit more texture.It is processed, so if you want to avoid that, try adding cooked brown rice. I was also too lazy to cook up any rice today.

1/4 cup TVP

1/4 cup hot water

1 14.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup yellow sweet pepper

1/2 cup corn, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup onion

1 clove garlic

1 handful fresh cilantro

1 egg white

2 tsp mexene

3/4 cup breadcrumbs

Pour the hot water over the tvp in a small bowl and let sit about 15 minutes so the TVP can rehydrate. When ready to add to the mixture, squeeze as much liquid as you can from the TVP.

Put the beans in the food processor and process until they look mashed. You could also mash them in a bowl with a fork. If you want it a bit chunkier, that's fine too.

To the beans add the veg, garlic and cilantro. They do not have to be finely chopped, just a rough chop will do as the processor will do the rest. Again, you could do all of this by hand, but why when the machine is faster and easier? Give these a few pulses until they are chopped but not pureed.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the egg white, Mexene chili powder (or seasonings of your choice), breadcrumbs and TVP and stir together until well mixed. I formed patties with 1/2 cup of the mixture and got 5 to a recipe. You can make them larger or smaller if you like. I placed mine on a silpat lined tray and put them in the freezer to chill up a bit, about 30 minutes.>

While they are chilling, heat the oven to 350 degrees. I baked them for 30 minutes, turning after the first 15. I chose to bake them to save on the calories. You could cook them in a lightly oiled pan as well. I liked the texture of these burgers. I bit soft on the inside, like refried beans. You could easily make a larger batch of them, bake part until they are almost done and then freeze to have on hand for a quick lunch or dinner. For those counting calories, I estimate each one of my five burgers to have 122 calories.>

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Honey Ginseng Tea Scented Angel Food Bites with Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling

Someone on the Leftover Queen Forum that I am a member of, started a thread asking what our "guilty pleasures (foodwise, ok) were. My answer was, angel food cake. I have had a love affair with this dessert longer than I can remember. So, of course, I have been obsessing about baking one ever since.

I found the best recipe in a Cooking Light cookbook from 2004, and have made many variations of it. Looking through it today, I noticed a recipe for Angel Food Shortcakes. The idea to adapt this to a miniature size intrigued me, and I also wanted to try yet another baked item with my favorite tea ( see Orange, Honey Ginseng Scones from my March posts). So, here is my adaptation of the recipe. I thought they were light, sweet and sticky little gems. You can really taste the honey from the tea. These would be perfect after a heavier meal or with an afternoon tea.

Recipe is as follows, I made 28 sandwiches.

1/2 cup sifted cake flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided (I used my vanilla sugar)
1 tea bag of Honey Ginseng Green Tea or 1 tsp favorite tea
6 large egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tsp fresh orange juice
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp key lime juice (you could use lemon)
about 2 tbl. slivered almonds
powdered sugar for dusting

1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
2 oz. softened cream cheese
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. No prep work necessary for the muffin tins. I used a mini tin. If you use another size, increase your cooking time, or use the pan in the original recipe and cut cake into squares.

To make the cake batter, whisk together the flour and 6 tbl. of the granulated sugar and the tea. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and the salt and beat until soft peaks form. Add 6 tbl of the sugar, a bit at a time, (be patient), and beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in the orange and lime juice and the vanilla.

Lightly add 1/4 cup of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and gently fold in so you do not deflate the eggs.. Continue doing this until all of the flour is mixed into the eggs.

I used two spoons to fill the tins, filling them to the top. Place an almond sliver on half of them, the other half will be the bottom of the sandwich, so no almond is needed.

Bake for about 14 minutes of until they are a pick golden on the edge and spring back when the top is lightly touched. As soon as you can handle them, which is just a few minutes, run a thin knife around the edges and pop them out. Let cool on a rack.
While the cakes are baking you can work on the filling. Place the raspberries in a small heavy pan along with the lemon juice and sugar. Cook the mixture on med. low heat until the berries have broken down and the mixture begins to thicken a bit. Remove from the heat and run the berries through a fine sieve. I use a spatula to smooth them through. You will have about 1/8 cup of the puree when finished. If you would like to skip this step, try any fruit jam you desire. Chill the puree, and then add to the cream cheese and powdered sugar, starting with about 2 cups of the sugar. Beat this together, adding more sugar if needed, until you get the desired consistency. I found that it helps to chill the filling a bit at this point.

When all the components are ready, place a dollop of the filling atop a bottom cake and then sandwhich with an almond topped cake. I found that having a platter that was lightly dusted with powdered sugar was good to set the sandwiches on. Beware, the cakes are a bit sticky (think of a slice of angel food cake), so be prepared to rinse your fingers a them a few times. I plated them and gave them another light dusting of sugar. You could store them in the fridge, but I doubt it you will have them around that long. Me, I will save a few for us and share the rest with guinea pigs, I mean friends! You will have some filling left, but it is yummy on toasted bagels.


So, I have registereded to win a $50.00 gift card from Williams Sonoma on The Clean Plate Club. Wish me luck! I would LOVE to have a mandoline slicer! I can just imagine myself slicing piles and piles of fresh veggies from my garden this summer. Veggie Carpaccio anyone?