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Bullseye Pops

11 Jun

EMWC Summer 2013 Stone's Soup Corner

THE KIDS are ALL Right

Photo Matthew Carden

Another share from Edible Marin Wine Country, I couldn’t pass up sharing this recipe!

When I sat down to write this issue’s Stone’s Soup Corner, I thought I had it all worked out. Melon soup was on the agenda. Perfect for summer— cool, refreshing and easy.

I usually clear my ideas with my 9-year-old daughter before I discuss them with my editor, but this time I never got around to asking her what she thought about this soup idea. Her reaction when she heard: “Mom, no kid is going to eat that!”

And she was right. I had lost sight of whom I was writing for. So, together, we brainstormed for a summer melon-y idea and came up with these creamy pops.

Food is at the center of so much of our lives and too often it becomes simply a chore. We shoo the kids away so we can get the cooking done, clean up and get on to the next task. But food should be fun, not stressful or humorless. That is why I like cooking for kids and silly grown-ups.

Sometimes on a hot day sharing a moment with a sloppy, drippy homemade pop is simply the right thing to do. Forget all the to-do lists and the dirty laundry, just for a moment. These Bull’s Eye Honeydew Pops highlight the ripest melons of the season. They are creamy, refreshing and dairy free!

Make an extra batch to keep in your freezer—it’s nice to have homemade pops ready for a playdate or family dessert on a hot summer night.

bullseye

Bullseye Honeydew Pops

Yield: 6 regular-size pops or 24 ice-cube-size pops

3⁄4 cup full-fat coconut milk
1⁄2 cup sugar
6 large mint leaves (Mint grows wild, so go check your garden before

you buy it at the market.)
3 cups very ripe Honeydew melon flesh (about 1⁄2 a melon 24 fresh or frozen cherries
Decorative straws (cut to size) or Popsicle sticks

Extra Tools

Straws or wooden Popsicle sticks

Small pop molds (Note: pop molds look great, but an ice cube tray will work just fine.)

Add coconut milk, sugar and mint leaves to a small saucepan and warm slowly over medium heat, scraping the sides constantly with a rubber spatula. When the sugar is dissolved, remove pan from heat and cool mixture to room temperature.

Dice the melon flesh into small pieces and place in a blender. Drain the mint from the cooled syrup, then add syrup to the blender. Blend until smooth and frothy.

Place four cherries into each pop mold—or, if you are using ice cube trays to make your pops, place a stick or straw into each cherry and place 1 in each cube reservoir.

Pour the coconut-melon mixture around the cherries in each mold, then place a straw or Popsicle stick into the center. If you are using ice cube trays, carefully pour the mixture around each cherry in the tray.

Freeze for 4 hours or until firm.

edible marin & wine country summer 2013 | 53

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Eating Your Curds And Whey

25 Apr

I wanted to share this article I wrote and styled for Edible Magazine. My husband is the photographer and my daughter was the taster.  I use the whey from the cheese making as my liquid in the biscuits, it creates less waste and adds flavor.

Enjoy!

EMWC Spring 13 Stone's Soup Corner_Page_1

EMWC Spring 13 Stone's Soup Corner_Page_2Here is a photo from the Spring Issue by Matthew Carden emwc-cherry-on-top-winter-2012

Gingerbread Wishes

25 Dec

Happy holidays!!! I wanted to share our tradition of making a gingerbread house with you. Here are three different ones, the cute unfinished one is my daughter’s. she is using Golden Grahams cereal to create a thatch roof.
The house with the nerds rope wreath has been eaten!!! The others will be eaten this week.
Thanks for reading and happy new year from our houses to yours!!

House_1 House_2 House_3

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Thanksgiving is heading our way…OY VEY! (getting ready for the big day) Post 2 of 2

18 Nov

Thyme and Gruyère icebox crackers

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, yes it is a TON of work but when it is all ready and the table is set it is the best feeling. (for me at least)  I know it can be stressful, battling your way down the grocery isle trying not to get your feet run over. Going around in circles looking for ingredients that have migrated to the end caps. Freaking out because the turkey is taking three days to thaw, and you are trying desperately to rip the frozen bag of giblets from the icy cavity.  I get it, really I do so instead of freaking out let’s just take a deep breath and start slow. I am going to help you get on track for the holiday, get somewhat organized and start NOW!!! It is less than a week away and whether you do the whole spread or take one or two dishes to a potluck, I can help.

Not only do I love this holiday but it is also one I tend to take total control of. (This is not a positive attribute of my personality) Asking people to bring a dish was/is not my style, I’d rather work myself to a nub rather than ask for help. Those days are over…this year I asked my guests to bring a dish (ok maybe I sent them a particular recipe and instructions, habits are hard to break) I plan on not stressing out and having a great time this year. Part of the reason for this post is to test out my method and see if it worked, I will keep you posted after the big event!  If you haven’t checked out my previous post on my marinated cheese appetizer check it out first before you jump in to this post.

Tying it all together

1. Make a huge coffee or tea carve out some alone time and scour the net for recipes and ideas.  (I know, I know…the kids, just wait until they are asleep) your husband or wife may become a Thanksgiving widow for a bit, it’s ok they will get you back in a few days.

Decide on the style of turkey too, bbq, roasted, Turducken or store prepared.  This year I am going to make a version of  Michael Symon’s Juicy Turkey Cooked in Cheese Cloth found here.

Don’t forget appetizers, just easy ones, your real focus needs to be on the meal.

2. Print ALL of the recipes even of you are just using them as a guide, you may need to check for ingredients or a quick tip. It will save you time in the long run. We all know finding a recipe you saw online 2 weeks ago will be a fruitless effort.

3.  Pick a cocktail and stick with it, don’t bother with a million bottles and ice filled coolers.

4. Make a comprehensive grocery list, one you keep adding to daily. Add things you think you will remember but won’t like whipped cream or  coffee and tea for dessert course. I love my printable grocery list, I have a small one for normal weeks and a large one for holidays or work when I am writing recipes or styling photos. Printable grocery list Sheet1

5. Decide what can be prepared ahead of time, cranberry sauce and turkey stock. I have a Foodsaver and that comes in handy for times like these.

6. Decide on your decorations, whether it’s just leaves from the yard and some votive candles or crafts galore add all the items to your shopping list. Get the kids involved here, do a paper place mat with a turkey hand print or name tags, something easy and fun.

7. Two days before get out all your serving dishes and utensils and label each one with a slip of paper reminding you what food will go in what dish. You really don’t want to be running all over looking for dishes when everyone is ready to eat.

8. 2 days before check your turkey to make sure it is thawing well.

I am a total traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving so our menu is pretty standard, I will post a bunch of my recipes below as ideas or inspiration for you.

Our Menu

Appetizers

Bread cornucopia (made 2 days before) filled with

Gruyère and Thyme crackers (made ahead of time) , assorted nuts in the shells, figs with honey

marinated Dry Jack cheese (made 5 days before)

The cocktail

Prosecco Pomegranate Sparkler

The meal

Turkey (prep day before)

Stuffing (prep day before)

Gravy (made ahead of time)

Roux for thickening gravy (made ahead and frozen)

Cranberry sauce (made ahead and frozen)

Mashed potatoes (made by a guest)

Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows (made by a guest) (yes, for real)

Bean casserole (made by a guest)

Sweets

Pumpkin pie with Biscoff cookie crust (made ahead and frozen) whip cream

Pumpkin cakes with Praline and toasted marshmallow topping (made day before, topping added just before serving)

Ice box cake (brought by guest)

coffee and tea

I have already done a few thing to get started, If you love lots of gravy then make a turkey stock to stretch the drippings with. Turkey necks and butts, yes I said butts or as mom used to call them,  “puppicks” or as Zedi used to call it…the part that goes over the fence last.  Anywho….Make a nice reduced stock with lots of veggies that you can use to moisten your stuffing and as a base for your gravy. Also after Thanksgiving add the carcass to your leftover stock to make delicious soup base.

Why do I need roux?

Because using cornstarch to thicken gravy doesn’t add any flavor or sheen.  A roux is a cooked mix of equal parts flour and a  fat such as butter or oil, Roux is used to  thicken sauces, and soup.  Roux can be made light, medium, dark or black-ish, for turkey gravy a light roux is fine. I never season my roux because the dish I end up using it in may already be too salty.

Roux recipe

cooking time 5-10 minutes
Will thicken aprox 6 cups sauce
 
6 tbsp flour
6 tbs butter and or turkey drippings
Heat up a small skillet, add butter and melt. Before it browns add the flour and stir constantly until the smell of fresh biscuits wafts up. When you smell the biscuits it is done. Now, you can add this to your gravy hot. Always add hot roux hot to hot liquid.
To store, freeze in an ice cube tray.
Fast method:
But…if it’s been in the freezer take it out and let it thaw a bit.
My trick is to take the slightly frozen roux and put it inside a small whisk. Slowly whisk it into the hot liquid, barely simmer it until thickened.
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Turkey stock for gravy and stuffing

Make Ahead Turkey Stock

(adapted from Bon Appetite)
  • 4 pounds assorted turkey wings, backs, butts and necks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 3 carrots, sliced in coins
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 onions, sliced in 1/2 moons
  • Giblets (heart, gizzard, liver) of 1 turkey
  • Thyme
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • bay leaf
  • 1/4  lemon
  • 10 garlic cloves smashed

Preheat oven to 450°. Spread turkey wings and turkey neck on a rack set in a large heavy roasting pan. Brush with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil; roast until browned, about 1 hour. Chop carrots, celery stalks, and onions; toss with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Arrange around turkey parts. Roast until vegetables brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a large pot. Add giblets and 1 gallon water and remaining ingredients. Bring to a slow simmer, and cook, skimming surface occasionally, for 3 hours. Strain into another pot and reserve the necks for their meat to be used in soup. Reduce the stock about 20 minutes more, cool down and freeze or refrigerate.


Gruyère and thyme icebox crackers 

(adapted from Martha Stewart)

If you grate the cheese first in the food processor then empty bowl and start recipe it will be much less work. You can avoid  a dirty grater and grating your knuckles too! These are delicious, I wish I had made two batches!

Thyme and Gruyere icebox crackers

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, de-stemmed
  • 3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup finely grated (2 1/2 ounces) Gruyère cheese
  • 1/4 cup plus
  1. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and thyme in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add cheese; pulse until combined. With machine running, add the milk; process until dough comes together and is well combined.
  2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape dough into a 2-inch-wide log. Wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Or freeze until  one hour before you are ready to bake them.
  3. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Slice chilled log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer slices to a parchment-lined  or non stick foil lined baking sheet. Bake immediately, rotating sheet once, until crackers are golden brown and firm in the center, 15 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
 
 
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Thyme and Gruyère cracker dough

 

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

I also made my fail proof Cranberry sauce ahead and froze it in a food saver baggie.  If you buy two oranges you can probably get enough juice from them with out supplementing.

  • 12 oz bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 3/4 cup orange or tangerine juice
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (scant)
  1. Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan, stir and cook on medium-high for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has reduced, stirring occasionally. Sugar burns easily so keep a good watch.  The cranberries will pop that’s a good thing. When almost reduced to the consistency you want remove from heat, it will thicken as it cools. Cranberry sauce can be made days ahead and brought to room temperature or slightly heated before serving.

Pumpkins Aren’t Just for Carving

24 Oct

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Long before Halloween, people used to eat pumpkin! I know, call me crazy but it’s a squash, it’s for eating…ya ya it makes a fantastic Jack-o-lantern too. I’m just saying that in days of old the native people actually grew them for eating. They were also used as a defense, a kind of barbed wire. It’s a growing technique coined as the Three Sisters, corn, squash and beans. The corn was planted in the center, the beans grew up the corn and the spiky squash plant was placed at  base of both plants to protect them from critters.

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One way I love to use pumpkin is with lots of spices, it is a wonderful way to get the kids used to highly flavored foods without being spicy “hot”. Pumpkin and curry is classic in Thai food and we just love coconut at our house, so it’s a perfect match. The problem with pumpkins is that they can be tough little buggers to cut into. I have a drawer full of knives, big ones so I’m covered, If you don’t here is a trick.

Carefully stab a few slits in your pumpkin, place in microwave for 5 minutes. Remove it, hold it with a towel and cut in to peices. It should be softer but depending on the  size it may need more time.

No Fuss Coconut Curry Pumpkin

One of the spices I use in my cooking is methi,  the leaves of the Fennegreek plant. They are distinct and subtle and add that Eastern flavor. Crush the Methi in your fingers to release the fragrance before using. It is always easier to cut produce wityh the flat side down so it stays put.

1 small sugar pumpkin

1 Tsp Methi

1/2 tsp Tumeric

1/2 tsp dried ginger

1 tsp curry powder

salt

1 can coconut milk

3 Tbs coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 425

Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out all the seeds and set them aside for roasting. Cut the pumpkin in half and then into wedges or chunks. Try to make them similar sizes so they will cook evenly. Place wedges peel side down into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. using a pastry brush, coat the pumpkin flesh with the coconut oil. Pour the coconut milk drizzling it all over the pieces. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the pieces. Bake for about 45 minutes or until pumpkin is soft.

Serve with Jasmine rice, sautéed spinach and chickpeas.

Hot tip:

Trader Joe’s has a new product called Roasted Coconut Chips, this is my version of heaven. They are really good sprinkled on this dish after cooking!

Classic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

This is perfect for after your family has carved pumpkins, you should have lots of seeds.

1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons melted butter
salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Clean off any major pumpkin chunks. (I like the left over pumpkin strings when cooked so we leave them on)

Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with melted butter or oil and salt.

Spread pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet in one layer.

Bake for about 45-1 hour  minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Cool on sheet, put in a pretty container.

Keep at room temperature sealed for up to a week.

My Little Food Stylist and Butterfly Dumplings

23 Jul

Easy soup with a twist

“Soup…mom I want soup for dinner tonight.” “Honey it’s 4:45, dinner is in one hour, I’d have to go to the store, blah, blah, blah…”  Once I get fixated on something to make nothing will stop me, so off to Trader Joe’s I ran (biked)….whoosh…

I grabbed a bag of frozen wontons and just like that…whoosh…I was back. I tossed together a very quick and “Semi Homemade” soup. I was lucky enough to have some good chicken stock on hand in the freezer, dried mushrooms and fresh spinach. I followed the directions on the bag for making the wontons, tossed in some onion and garlic, ginger, and let it simmer. It was very fast and created a warm light dinner. We can’t all be Super Mom or Super Chef every day and it’s ok, we shouldn’t have to be.

I was busy, getting the rest of our meal together and kidlet was restless so I came up with having her “style” her dinner. She loves tofu, the marinated kind, so I handed her some cookie cutters and tofu and walked away. When I turned back around she had placed the butterfly shapes so perfectly in the soup, I was shocked! She sees me working all the time, she even helps out occasionally on my food styling jobs.  I know she has the ability to decorate her food and make it beautiful, now if she would just start making entire meals for us!  I’m pretty convinced by now that if they cook it they eat it or in our case, if you decorate it, you eat it.

It helps to have some ingredients on hand for quick dinners these are things I love to keep around:
peeled ginger in the freezer, you can add it to soups,
Cooked marinated tofu
Chicken stock, homemade or boxed
Dried mushroom assortment
Green onions, sliced frozen

Wonton Soup with Tofu Butterflies

I realize that not everyone has a Trader Joe’s market across the street. This recipe is so flexible that you can use just about anything in it. If you can’t get wontons, try Gyoza or just ramen style noodles and cooked chicken. Make this to taste, if your kids need more flavor, add more soy sauce and sesame.  Water chestnuts are crunchy and take on the flavor of the dish they are in, try them. Try dried reconstituted mushrooms, they can add great flavor to lots of dishes.

1 Bag of Trader Joe’s Frozen mini chicken wontons
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 coins of ginger, peeled
1-2 green onions, sliced thin
1 cup sliced mushrooms 
2 Tbs soy sauce
4 cups of Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 can of  sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 tsp sesame oil
Handful of spinach, fresh or frozen
Teriyaki marinated cooked tofu
Salt/Pepper
Optional
2 eggs, beaten (see below)
Follow directions on the bag of wontons, when cooked, remove and set aside. They should be browned on the bottom and cooked through.
In the same pan, add a tablespoon of oil (peanut, or vegetable) sauté garlic, ginger, green onions and mushrooms until dry.  Turn heat to medium and add the soy sauce and stir to incorporate.  Add chicken broth, and water chestnuts and  simmer.   Add the mini wontons back, to warm through, add sesame oil  serve. Salt and pepper to taste.
If adding the beaten egg for and egg drop style soup, add just before the wontons.
Slowly stream in the beaten eggs to simmering (not boiling) soup mixture, let simmer untouched 2 minutes. Continue with finishing the recipe.

Hamantashen, to fold or to pinch? (that is the question)

5 Mar

Hamantashen Cookie

Making cookies is always fun for kids but for us, these are especially exciting to make.  The familiar shape of the triangular cookies shows itself every March, it is the official cookie of Purim, a Jewish holiday geared toward the kiddos. (You definantly don’t have to be Jewish to make these!) We first tried a recipe that seemed to have good reviews but they came out too cakey, I needed another try and I knew exactly where to look for the perfect recipe.

I went straight to Claire’s old Preschool, the ECE Preschool at the Marin Osher JCC  A place where baking and kids is perfectly natural! They use tried and true recipes passed down from Bubi to Bubi and they really work.  If 100 preschoolers can make Challah or Hamantashen taste good then I know the recipes work! When I visited, the Director handed me an adorable colorful printout of the Hamantashen recipe. Let’s back up a minute, I know you are wondering what’s up with that weird name and why is the cookie shaped like a triangle?

The Origin of Hamantaschen
“Hamantaschen” is a Yiddish word meaning “Haman’s pockets.” Haman is the villain in the Purim story, which appears in the Biblical Book of Esther. In the story, Haman is the Grand Vizier of Persia and a rabid anti-Semite. When Mordechai, a Jewish member of the king’s court and relative of Queen Esther, refuses to bow down to Haman, the Grand Vizier plots to have all the Jews in the kingdom massacred. However, Queen Esther and Mordechai discover Haman’s plot and are able to foil it. In the end, Haman is executed on the gallows he planned to use on Mordechai.
Jews eat hamantaschen on Purim as part of the celebration of the holiday, which commemorates how Jews escaped Haman’s dastardly plans. One explanation for the triangular shape of these pastries is that Haman wore a three-cornered hat. (excerpt from http://judaism.about.com )
There are some other facts about Purim that the kids really love one is

There are four good deeds that people try to carry out at Purim time.

1) To hear the reading of the Megillot Ester (Book of Esther) at a group gathering. This developed into a custom several hundred years after the real event took place.

2) To enjoy an atmosphere that encourages celebration with food and drink.

3) Helping out at least two people who are less fortunate than we are (charity) by giving them gifts on the 14th of Adar.

It has also become a tradition (Machatzit Hashekel) to give 3 half-dollar coins to charity to commemorate the half-shekel given by each Jew in the time of the Holy Temple. This good deed is usually done in the synagogue.

4) Giving gifts to a friend who is not necessarily poor. These ready-to-eat gifts might take the form of a fruit basket (Shalach Monot), pastry or beverage.

The best part of Purim is the dress up, the kids dress as Esther, Hamen or any royal. Purple is often used in decoration because it is the color connected to royalty.  The celebration is kind of like Mardi Gras and Halloween all wrapped up in one, lots of sweets and lots of fun!

Now that the history part is out of the way we can get on to sweeter things..

This recipe was great to use, a parent form the school made it, I have no clue who, but thanks because it is so handy!

The traditional filling of the Hamantashen is poppy-seed but we love strawberry or apricot preserves. I also sliced up fresh strawberries and added a slice to each one for a fresh taste.  The method is much like making sugar cookies, you roll out the buttery dough and chill. The triangle starts with a circle, imagine that, stay in school kids, the wonders of math never cease! Use a cup or a round cookie cutter to cut circles, drop a bit of filling in and then from your triangle (recipe below)

Raw chocolate chip dough

I butter

There is a debate in the land of Hamantashen about the correct way to seal up the Hamantashen, to fold or to pinch. I was always a pincher but I recently tried a recipe from Cupcake Project, while her tashen looked and tasted good, her suggestion of folding was intregiung to me. Folding the dough can produce a beautiful cookie but we had problems. Our dough was cracking with each fold although our cookies came out pretty we were discouraged by the cracking.

When we used the recipe below we pinched, you may have to use some water on the dough to make it stick but the pinched ones came out perfectly! So I say, depending on the recipe, your oven and your skill level pinching may be the way to go. **Note- for gluten free see bottom of post.

Lizet’s Hamatashen Recipe

preheat oven to 350˚ƒ
4 1⁄2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together in a large bowl

3 sticks butter (1 1/2 c).
soften in a bowl
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
beat eggs in a bowl, stir in vanilla.
add eggs to flour mixture, add butter, stir, then dump on clean surface, knead briefly until sticky.divide dough in quarters.  ( I wrap and chill at this point)
roll to 1/4 inch thick on floured board.
Cut circles using a cutter or cup.
Place 1 tsp filling in center of dough.
Fold or pinch 3 sides to make a triangle.
Leave some filling showing in center. 
Bake on cookie sheet about 15 minutes.

Filling: use jam, or mix 1⁄2 lb. Prunes with 1⁄4 c. strawberry jam in a food processor. Or try making your own poppy seed filling…

Mohn (Poppy seed filling)

2 c. poppy seed, finely ground

1 egg

1/3 c. honey or sugar

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1⁄4 c. chopped nuts

Wash the seeds well, them grind them in a food processor or place the seeds in a cloth and pound them with a mallet. Mix with the remaining ingredients. chill.

                                                                                  
 

Folding the dough on a cookie sheet avoids the transfer disaster.

**NOTE

When we made these goodies with for our third grade class we needed a gluten free recipe. I tried a pie dough mix and it was terribly unsuccessful. As you can see it the photo they were like sand and not folded or pinched, we just dug out a space for the jam..

One of the moms made up a batch of GF cookie dough from Pure Pantry sugar cookie mix and it worked really well for the Hamantashen. I only have a photo of our ugly ones because the better ones got gobbled right up!

Ugly duckling gluten free cookies

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