Thursday, July 3, 2014

Home Brewed Ginger Beer

This may look just like a small glass of drink. Maybe even a glass of ginger beer, which it is! But did you know it's homemade? So easy! You can do it, too! Even better with added Anchor Steam's whiskey, Old Potrero.

This non-alcoholic fermented beverage is created with the help of making a ginger bug. I got my recipe from Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation. For those of you who don't know, Sandor Elliot Katz is a fermentation genius. Aside from touting the health benefits of fermentation, which are huge, Katz makes the idea of fermentation way less daunting than some other authors. He makes me excited to begin fermenting things. And going through the process of starting a new ferment makes me feel like a creative scientist, which is an added bonus!

Here's how to make a ginger bug:
In a clean, hopefully sterilized mason jar or bowl, place a couple of tablespoons of grated/minced ginger, with the skin still on, and a tablespoon or 2 of turbinado (or even white) sugar. Add a cup of water. Stir, place cheesecloth on top, and let sit. For the next couple of days, add a bit more ginger and a bit more sugar (but not more water), until the mixture develops bubbles on the surface. Once the bubbles appear, you know that some friendly bacteria are eating that sugar and releasing CO2, the stuff that makes your soda bubbly. Congrats. You have created a Ginger Bug!

Now, bring a pot of water to boil. 4 c water, 2 c sugar, 6 inches grated or minced ginger, skin on!
Let this ginger base cool. Add juice of 2 lemons, 12 more cups of water, and when it is definitely cooled completely, add your ginger bug! Stir well. Strain through cheese cloth or fine mesh sieve, and bottle in sterilized bottles. I used these awesome fellers with swing tops. Place bottles in a dark place, and let ferment for 2 or more weeks, then move to the fridge for a couple of days and enjoy with ice, plain, or whiskey!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Back! For Summer CSA goodness

After an extended hiatus, I'm back, with amazing produce from our organic CSA. If you don't remember from last year's explanation, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It's a coop system where you pay a fixed fee in the beginning of the season as an investment in the farm, and then each week, for a few months, you get a share - think of it as your dividend, in edibles!

Getting a CSA can be particularly daunting. So many vegetables, so little time! What can you do? How do you use them all (or most) before the next week's share comes in? I find the process a bit overwhelming sometimes, and I was a bit worried about this week, since Mr. Ripe is away. Lots of vegetables, all for me. What's a girl to do?

This past week, we got some really good stuff. Fresh onions with greens attached, garlic scapes, arugula, salad mix, summer squash, sugar snap peas, shell peas... I'm sure I'm forgetting something... oh - Parsley. A good mix of things green and other colors.

Dinner last night highlighted the CSA bounty: 2 grilled pizzettes, one with garlic scape pesto and mozzarella, the other with smashed blanched shell peas, grilled zucchini slices, mozzarella, and shredded boiled egg to finish. I sat outside with a friend and munched away, and then enjoyed the latest batch of infused vodka (nectarine/lime/ginger).

What a summer night! Below you'll find the recipe for scape pesto, and an introduction to what, exactly, a scape is:

A garlic scape is the bit of green that grows out of planted hardneck garlic that farmers chop off so as to not let the green drain the garlic bulb of its energy. The green is cut and sometimes sold at the farmers market or thrown into your CSA, and the garlic bulb is left in the ground to grow a bit more before it's harvested.

Scape pesto is like basil pesto, only without the basil, and garlicky!
I used 1/2 c roughly chopped garlic scapes
1/4 c of blanched almonds, toasted, or sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds, or pumpkin seeds, or a mix of all!
3 T grated parmesan
1/2 to 1 t salt
juice of half one lemon
1/4 c olive oil or grapeseed oil

Put the scapes, nuts, parm, salt in a food processor. Chop it up real well in there. Then alternatively add lemon juice and oil as the machine is running. Scrape down sides and run again, until a smooth paste is formed. Add more oil if necessary. Taste, add salt or more lemon as needed.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Happy Hamantashen!

I had four of these for breakfast. And then made more. And now all the raw dough is gone, and I'm almost positive the cookies will be gone within 24 hours, too, even though I only live with one other person. It's hard to find the perfect hamantashen recipe. But thankfully, after a friend shared her mother's recipe with me, I can make (and share with you) the BEST hamantashen I've ever had.
Happy Purim, everyone.
And Thanks, Elaine!

makes about 50 2-3" cookies

3 c flour
1 heaping cup sugar
3 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
3/4 c shortening* 
2 beaten eggs
2-4 T orange juice
lekvar or thick jam for filling

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.With your fingertips, mash the shortening into the dry ingredients. Roll shortening gobs into the flour mix, and you should have a pebbly/sandy looking mixture in your bowl. Now add the eggs and 2 T OJ. Mix until combined (I used a fork for this), and if it's too crumbly, not enough like a dough, add more OJ, by the tablespoonful, and mix after each addition. If dough is still crumbly, you can add some water, but 4 T should be enough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
When ready, roll dough out to about 1/8" thick. I did this in batches of a third of the recipe at a time, keeping the other two thirds in the fridge. With a small glass or round cookie cutters, cut the dough into circles and place on ungreased cookie sheet as you cut. If you have dough scraps left over, just ball them up and re-roll. I was able to roll dough out 3 times.
When all the circles are cut, dab a half or full teaspoon of jam in the middle, but no more than that!!!
Fold into triangles. I used this method which was AMAZINGLY helpful.
When all are folded, bake 10 min, or until golden brown at the edges. Remove from pan and cool on rack. Be careful - hot cookies = hot jam = very burnt mouth!!

*I will admit, I was really not into buying Crisco for these - I was actually embarrassed buying it in the store and even more, I had to have someone help me get it because it was on a super high shelf and I couldn't get it down myself. But for some reason, it is the only fat that creates the results you want in the perfect cookie. So, like me, you will get over the shortening hump.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Black and White minis

I love getting the Food 52 Digest on Sundays. It's a rare digest day when I don't find myself drawn to at least one of the recipes for inspiration. Usually, though, I don't see something and have the urge to make it IMMEDIATELY. Today this very thing happened when my eye caught Mini Black and White Cookies!

I'm always on the hunt for a good black and white cookie. There's nothing I hate more than buying a cookie that looks like a black and white only to find it is an Imposter black and white cookie, not a real one. This recipe *almost* makes the cut of excellent black and white. The cakey bottom is spot on - it has the right texture and flavor. My only complaint (which I'm sure I could fix with some research) is that the fondant-like icing was not as creamy/waxy/thick as I like it to be - my test for perfect black and white cookie icing is that I should be able to peel it off in 1-3 pieces and eat it as its own entity if I so choose. Not possible with this recipe, but still a pleasure to make and eat. I honestly made the entire recipe within one hour and was eating cookie after cookie shortly after that.

Here is the recipe, adapted from Food 52:
 1 c all purpose flour + 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour (or just 1.5 c flour)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
6 T room temp butter
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
1/3 c buttermilk

Heat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone liner. Whisk together flour, soda, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, cream sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla. Mix. Alternate between adding the flour and the buttermilk, in three additions.  Stir until just mixed. Spoon cookie dough by the tablespoonful onto prepared pans, leaving an inch between cookies. Bake 6-10 min, until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool on racks. When completely cool, spread vanilla and chocolate icing (recipe below)
on half of each cookie.

1 1/2 c confectioners sugar, sifted
pinch salt
1/2 t vanilla
1 T light corn syrup
2 t lemon juice
2 T water
6 T cocoa, sifted

In a medium bowl, whisk sugar, salt, vanilla, corn syrup, lemon juice, and water until smooth. You're going for spreadable and thick, not runny. If it's too thick, add water by the teaspoon. Too runny? Add more sugar by the tablespoon. Take half of the icing out and put in new bowl, and add cocoa to this bowl. Add water until spreadable. You can also add 1/4 t instant espresso powder to the chocolate but I didn't have any and it turned out fine.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cheddar Ale Broccoli Soup

Now, I know I had all sorts of healthy, well-cooked meals growing up. I inherited my mom's taste for a lot of things, most of them on the extreme end of Healthy. That said, I didn't eat red meat voluntarily until I was almost 20, and I didn't know I liked butter or cheese until I lived in San Francisco a couple of years later (and then I couldn't stop!). We ate a plant-based diet and I turned my nose up at Campbell's Soup from a can and actually felt afraid of American Cheese. I'm not saying the way I grew up eating was a better way than any other. In fact, there have been many times when my food snobbiness has held me back or made me feel like an outsider (more on that in posts to come). I think it also kept me from experiencing some really amazing foods! Tonight I made one of those foods I never had growing up and I certainly never made it before now. What was I thinking?!
When I think of Broccoli Cheddar soup, I think of that short red and white can of Campbell's, and I think, no, that's not "food". We don't eat that. Oh yes, we do - if it's from scratch. One taste of the soup and I felt transported to... comfort! Perfect for the day after a snow storm on a Sunday night to eat with friends.

2 T butter, olive, coconut, or canola oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 t yellow mustard powder
12 oz ale (I used a Dogfish Head Brown Ale)
3 Russet Potatoes, chopped into 1" cubes
8-10 c chopped broccoli (including stems)
9 c vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
Queso (recipe below)

In a large pot, saute onion in oil for 5-10 min, careful not to let brown. Add garlic, and sprinkle mustard powder on top. Stir until all incorporated, and add ale, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot, and letting it simmer until alcohol cooks off. Add potatoes, broccoli, and stock. Liquid should cover the vegetables but if it doesn't, add water until it does. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook until potatoes are well cooked through and falling apart. At this point, puree with an immersion blender (or in a blender, in batches). Add and pepper to taste. Stir in the warm queso.

2 poblano peppers
2 T butter or oil
4 T flour
2 1/2 c milk
4 c shredded cheddar cheese

Over an open flame, roast the peppers, turning with tongs so all sides are blackened. Place peppers either in ice water bath or in a brown paper bag, and close it. Leave until cool to touch. Peel peppers, take out seeds, and dice them.
Over medium heat, saute peppers in oil. Sprinkle flour on top and mix well. Continuously mix as you add the milk. Stirring occasionally, heat until simmering. Lower heat and add the cheese until it is all melted and a uniform sauce. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

That time of year again for... Fall Lasagna

Mr. Ripe seemed confused tonight when he lamented we didn't have any fresh basil and I told him it wasn't that kind of lasagna. But I didn't elaborate beyond that, and when he suggested I do something with the tomato sauce, I realized he wasn't on to my fall lasagna shenanigans. Tonight I made a dilled butternut squash lasagna. No red sauce here. Just pureed roasted squash and bechamel, with some spinach and mozzarella in between layers of lasagna noodles. Pretty good celebration of 5 months of CSA goodies, if you ask me!

Fall Lasagna
12 lasagna noodles, cooked and laid out on parchment paper (or you can use the no-boil kind)
1 1/2 c bechamel (recipe below)
1 lb spinach leaves, steamed
1 butternut squash, peeled, cubed, and roasted at 400 for 40 min or until tender
1/4 c chopped dill
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz shredded mozzarella
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

With immersion blender or potato masher, puree squash. Mix in dill, salt and pepper to taste. If too thick, add some milk. Spread a thin layer of bechamel on the bottom of the pan. Layer 3 noodles and top with squash, spinach, and shredded mozzarella. Layer 3 more noodles, and spread more bechamel on top. Again layer with squash, spinach, and cheese. Repeat one more time and top this 3rd layer with 3 more noodles. Atop these noodles, spread squash and fresh mozzarella slices. Bake at 400 degrees, covered, for 30 min, and uncovered for 10-15 or until cheese is browned.

2 c milk (full fat is best but I used 2% tonight)
3 T butter
pinch salt
3 T flour
less than an 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 c milk and butter almost to simmer. Add salt. In a small bowl, whisk the rest of the milk with the flour. When the milk is almost at a boil, whisk in the slurry of milk and flour. When simmering begins, the flour will help the mix thicken. Simmer, whisking constantly, for a minute or 2. Remove from heat, add nutmeg. Set aside (Can go in the fridge until ready to use if made ahead).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Green Vegetable Tofu Soba

I've recently started using Pinterest. I had browsed it in the past before for recipes given the items in my fridge. But since the engagement and starting to think about my wedding, I've used it in a more committed way. I've been looking predominantly at dress styles, but still checking out the pretty food photos, too. I found this simple soba recipe on Pinterest while searching for salads with avocado in them. The recipe I found has you marinate the raw, cut tofu in an asian style dressing, then saute the pieces of tofu in a dry pan without oil. Pretty genius. The tofu gets this crispy caramelization from the sweet tart marinade, and then you toss it atop cooked soba noodles with sliced avocado, leftover marinade/dressing, and toasted sesame seeds. I added some vegetables from our CSA - blanched broccoli and sliced baby white turnips. I macerated the thinly sliced turnips with the broccoli leaves in the marinade after the tofu had cooked, so they became lightly pickled because of the vinegar. All in all, this recipe made an excellent and delicious dinner. And will most certainly make a healthy lunch, which is where I pinned it on my Pinterest.

Green Vegetable Tofu Soba

Juice of 1 lime
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 T rice vinegar
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c soy
3 T sesame oil
2 T vegetable oil
1 t fish sauce
2 T ginger syrup (or 2 T fresh minced ginger and 1/2 T sugar)
pinch salt

1 block tofu, cut lengthwise into thirds, and then each third into 2 or 4 triangles.
1/4 c sesame seeds
3 c broccoli florets, chopped
8 oz soba noodles
1 c very thinly sliced baby white turnips
1 ripe avocado, sliced or chopped into cubes

Whisk dressing/marinade in a bowl. Place the cut tofu in the marinade. Bring a large pot of water to boil. When it boils, blanch the broccoli for 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or chinois. Set aside and then cook the soba as directed in the same water. Toast the sesame seeds in a large saute pan completely dry. Toast about 5 minutes, not forgetting to shake the pan every so often. Set aside. Reheat the pan over medium-high heat and sear the tofu, flipping once, so each side browns nicely. If not all the tofu fits in the pan at once, do this in batches. Once the marinade bowl has no tofu, only dressing in it, add the broccoli leaves (if any) and white turnips. Let sit until lightly pickled - about 10 min. When all the tofu is ready, you're good to go.
Place some soba in a bowl. Spoon 2 T dressing on noodles, and then add broccoli, pickled turnips/leaves, sauteed tofu, and avocado. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.