Candied Cherry Tomatoes

For the first time in years, I didn’t have a summer tomato garden; we traveled a lot and were thinking about moving, and quite frankly, I just didn’t want one more thing to keep alive. Nevertheless, a volunteer tomato plant sprung up while I was busy neglecting the back yard and is, as I type this, pumping out cherry tomatoes at a record pace.

Cherry tomatoes are delicious, but they don’t do much for you in the tomato sauce and canning arenas. So, what is a person to do with literally, hundreds and hundreds of tiny tomatoes?

Candy them of course. I saw a recipe on www.eatliverun.com for candied standard-sized tomatoes and wanted to see if it would work on their smaller cousins. My concern was that they wouldn’t dehydrate well because they are mostly all juice, but I revised the temperatures and cooking from the original recipe I saw from @eatliverun and they dehydrated perfectly.

Here is how I did it.

Ingredients

1 lb cherry tomatoes
1/4 c olive oil
1tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

 

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Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss or stir to coat the tomatoes well. 
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Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil (to save time on cleanup). Slice the tomatoes and spread them evenly on a baking sheet. Bake on 250F for 3 hours then reduce the heat to 170F for 2 hours or until they look chewy and dry. Note: this will burn, even at a low temperature. So keep an eye on them when you think they are getting close to finished. 
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Store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator and use them in place of sun-dried tomatoes in recipes. We put them on everything.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.

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Summer Is Over Fruit Galette

I know summer is officially over when the fruit in my kitchen starts to look pathetic.

Only at the end of summer, when we have binged on fresh fruit for 3 months, will we let bing cherries and peaches wither in the fruit bowl. It is this time of year that I rally the remaining troops and position them to fulfill their destiny as something edible rather than consign them to the compost bin.

Summer fruit’s last chance for redemption comes in the form of this fruit galette.

Fruit Galette Ingredients
1/2 of the Galette Dough (look down)
1 1/2 cups pathetic fruit, peeled
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon cold unsalted

Your first order of business is to make your galette dough, which is basically, just fancy pie crust. This recipe, calls for 1/2 of the recipe I provided above and will make 1 galette approximately 8 inches in diameter.

Galette Dough Ingredients
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup ice water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

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I make my dough in a food processor because I’m new school. It goes like this. 1) mix ice cold water and sour cream together and set aside 2) Put the dry ingredients into the bowl of your processor and give them a churn. 3) Drop the butter pieces in and pulse 8-10 times. 4) With the machine running drizzle the water and sour cream mixture in just until the dough forms moist curds. 5) wrap it in wax paper and put it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.

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While your dough is chilling, prepare your filling. The technical recipe for this calls for berries; however, I use whatever waining fruit we have on hand. In this instance, the fruit du jour was decrepit cherries and an emotionally damaged pear. I slice my fruit but you could also dice or chop, the idea is to get it small enough that it will cook in 30-35 minutes.
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When your dough is finished chilling’, place it on a highly floured work surface and, to the best of your ability,  roll it into an 11-inch circle. I’m going to take this moment here to remind you that the grocery store sells pre-made and pre-rolled pie crusts. This galette dough can be frustrating to work with for newbies because it is basically just butter and some flour being held together by miracles. Anyway, spread your fruit on leaving about 2 inches all the way around for you to fold it over.
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Fold your edges over. Tell your inner perfectionist to F-off because it’s supposed to look “rustic”. Wet the edges with a little bit of water and then sprinkle the top with sugar and drizzle with honey. Bake at 400 F for 30-35 minutes. I bake mine on a stone baking sheet, but any baking sheet will work.
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You’ll know it’s finished when it’s golden and the fruit is well cooked.
 FYI, this recipe was modified from Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers because we are fancy here.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

Quinoa-Farro Cherry Salad

The inspiration for this recipe came from a vegan cookbook called PLUM: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro. I changed so much about the original recipe that it is no longer gluten, soy, or dairy-free–oops. It is, however, still a protein rich vegetarian salad that we use as a main course or side dish at our house.

Ingredients
1/2 cup Farro ( or pearled farro)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 chopped almonds
8 oz fresh cherries, pitted, quartered
1/4 small red onion
1 lime
1/4 fresh parsley
3 mint leaves

Here’s how to make it:

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Quinoa and farro have very different cooking times. So, really, you should cook them separately according to their individual cooking instructions. However, I am lazy, so I use pearled farro, which cooks faster, and I soak it for an hour or so before I mix it with the rinsed quinoa and cook it together. That gets their cooking times closer. So make that major life decision and while your grains cook, take care of your chopping.
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Pit and cut your cherries. Chop your other ingredients. Toast your almonds in a dry skillet for a few minutes to activate their flavor. Then let them cool before you use them. I go light on the red onion because it seems to stay with me for days, but feel free to increase the amount and use a finer dice. You do you.

Put it all together:
Fluff you grains and let them cook a bit before you put them together with your chopped ingredients. Then, toss it all together, season with salt and pepper, squeeze lemon juice liberally, and garnish with mint. We serve this over a bed of mixed greens, but it works on its own too.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

Meatless Meatballs Recipe: Deliscious and a complete pain in the ass.

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A few days ago, I posted this photo to my instagram feed. It is a picture of meatless meatballs for which I found the recipe in the New York Times Cooking section. I said I would try them and report back as I wasn’t sure how they could be tasty or even pretend to be meatballs given what was in them.

Here is a simple Q and A to help you decide if these meatless meatballs are for you:

Q: How did they taste?
A:  Just like meatballs, so great.

Q:  Are they easy to make?
A:  Absolutely not.

Q:  Did the kids eat them?
A:  No way.

Q:  Would you make them again?
A:  Yes, but I would chop the mushrooms smaller or run the whole business through the food processor. I would double the batch while I was at it since they are time consuming and a little bit messy. I would freeze the extra batch for a future date when I needed meatless meatballs but didn’t want to go through the production of making them.

Q:  How did you serve them?
A: On homemade fettuccine noodles with red sauce and salad. Also, because the kids wouldn’t eat them and the batch was huge, my husband and I ate them on salads all week.

Q:  Where can I find the recipe?
A:  Right here,  Veggie Balls Recipe – NYT Cooking

 

Grind your own flour, or don’t, whatever.

A few weeks ago, I posted a video of my son and I grinding our own flour with our Kitchenaid stand mixer. I got a lot of questions about how and why I do this rather than just buying flour.

For us it all started last May when my husband gave me this article from the Wall Street Journal.  The article addressed the need for healthier wheat processing and bread production in the US as a way to change the conversation about gluten in the American diet. In summary: commercially processed white flour is bad, small batch, fresh whole wheat flour is good.

And because we are who we are, we decided that we would become people who grind their own flour. Here is how we did it.

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First, you’ll need to choose a grain mill. One of the reasons we purchased a massive Kitchenaid stand mixer is because it comes with a lot of food processing attachments, including a grain mill. We also have a meat grinder and a juicer. 
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Once you have your grain mill attachment, just secure it to the attachment hub (read your user’s manual, people). Counter surfing toddlers will love to “help”.
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Hit up the bulk bins at your local health food store. We usually buy wheat berries, but I think that is barley pictured above. I buy and grind 4 pounds of grain in a batch because that is what fits in my storage container. Because whole grain flour is not really shelf-stable, you’ll want to use it immediately, or store it in the freezer. 
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Fill the grain hopper (ignore the adorable toddler) set the dial to a medium grind and grind at a medium-high speed. Don’t worry about John’s fingers, there is a safety grate on the hopper, and I’m a good mom;-)
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I have found with the Kithenaid mill that you need to send your grains through twice in order to get a fine enough flour for general baking. That is kind of a bummer, but not the end of the world as it only takes about 5 minutes. The picture above is the grain after one pass through the mill on a very course grind setting.
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Fill the hopper for a second round and set it to the finest grind. Run it through again. 
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Viola! 
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Store your freshly ground flour in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month. 

This originally published on grounding.com.

Tom Brady’s Black Bean Brownies Taste Just Fine

Many years ago, I saw an interview with super model Gisele Bundchen. She was explaining to the interviewer that she ate mostly steak and french fries and did things like heli-skiing to stay fit for the Victoria’s Secret runway.

Okay, well now she is pushing 40 and has had two kids. And, according to her Instagram, instead of steak and fries on the regular, she and her super hero husband eat like this:


Source: Would You Survive For A Day On Tom Brady’s Diet – BuzzFeed News

 

I mention this because:

  1. it helps to know that even super humans battle against the march of time and
  2. after the Super Bowl, there was a lot of buzz about Tom Brady’s recipe for success AND his black bean brownie recipe. In actuality, the buzz was around Tom and Gisele’s personal chef’s black bean brownie recipe.

Obviously, I was going to have to try those brownies because if they are good enough for a super model or a super bowl champion, then they are certainly good enough for me.

Unfortunately, Chef Campbell doesn’t divulge his recipes, so I had to come up with what I think is a pretty close approximation, based on the ingredients he claims to use: black beans, flaxseed meal, coconut oil, cacao (NOT COCOA FOR GOD’S SAKE, CACAO!!!), and agave nectar.

The key takeaways:

  1. If you are a regular person who can eat a regular brownie instead of something posing as a brownie, then you absolutely should do so.
  2. If you have celiac disease,are a vegan, are trying to cut out refined sugars in your diet, or you are a killjoy, then these are the “brownies” for you.

And now, Tom Brady’s Vegan, Gluten-free Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients
• 1 15 oz. (425 g) can (~ 1 3/4 cups) black beans, well rinsed and drained
• 2 large flax eggs (2 heaping Tbsp (~16 g) flaxseed meal + 6 Tbsp (90 ml) water)
• 3 Tbsp (45 g) coconut oil, melted (or sub other oil of choice)
• 3/4 cup (72 g) cacao (if you don’t know, this is chocolate with NO sugar)
• 1/4 tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1/3-1/2 cup agave nectar (adjust to taste)
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• Optional toppings: crush walnuts or pecans (if you are splurging).
Oven temperature: 350°F

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First, this is cacao. Chop 2.5-3 ounces into small pieces.
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Combine your coconut oil and the cacao in a microwave-safe vessel and nuke it until it is smooth and melty. Cacao, and cocoa for that matter, doesn’t melt well without a fat to help it out.
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Next, make your flaxseed “egg” (this must be a vegan thing). Combine your flaxseed meal and the water and let it rest until it gels.
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Okay, NOW, you can dump everything, except for the nuts, into the food processor. Process until it is well mixed and smooth.
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Evenly distribute the batter into 12 well greased muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with nuts if that is what you are in to. Then bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. FYI, mine took the full 25 minutes.
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When the edges are starting to pull away from the sides of the muffin tin and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a few brownies comes out clean, you’ll know they are ready. Pull them from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 25-30 minutes before you try to remove them. Even when cool, these seem to want to fall apart.

This article originally published on GroundingUp.

Random Ingredient Night Success

Tonight was random ingredient night in the kitchen. I didn’t have it in me to venture to the grocery store AGAIN so I was going to have to concoct dinner from whatever was edible in the kitchen.

Ingredients on hand included:

2 boneless pork ribs
1/4 of an onion
some garlic
1/2 a can of crushed pineapple leftover from make your own pizza night
2 rutabagas (I have no idea how they got into the refrigerator)
white rice mixed with quinoa
and, praise Jesus, a fresh head of lettuce.

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Step #1: throw it all into an oven save baking dish with a cover. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh or dried mint. Put it into a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Then, remove the cover, increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees and cook for another 15-20 minutes until things are nicely browned.
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Step #2: Put in on a plate and pray the kids will eat it. Mine loved it and I consider them completely average eaters.

This article originally published on GroundingUp.

White People Discover #Ube

A sweet potato knows it has finally hit the “white people radar” when it gets a feature in GQ Magazine. And that is exactly what happened to purple yams when the magazine ran the article, “What You Need to Know About Ube, the Filipino Ingredient Invading the Dessert World”.

A more accurate title for this article would have been “The Filipino Ingredient Invading the White Dessert World,” because this beautiful potato has been a staple ingredient in asian cuisine and desserts forever. White people did not “discover this potato” into existence, that was America. Duh!

But anyway, as a white girl reading GQ Magazine, I decided I was going to mess around with this “new to me” ingredient in my test kitchen.

And like with all things foreign, I was going to work with only my feeble knowledge and broad assumptions–what could go wrong?

First, I had to find some purple yams. I grabbed a few at my local grocery store, but many of the recipes I found called for rehydrated ube, which required a visit to amazon.com for some powdered purple yam.

With my ingredients in hand, I settled on cupcakes and muffins, both of which I managed to screw up, but still produce edible final products.

For the cupcakes, I used fresh shredded ube and a recipe I grabbed from the blog of a woman in Australia. I failed to steam the ube before adding it to the cupcakes, which gave them a decidedly chewy texture.

Note to self: next time, cook the ube first.

Next up were the ube muffins. Here is the recipe.

This recipe was kludged together from other recipes and what I know, generally, about making muffins.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cub rehydrated ube
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp lavender food coloring

Procedure:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin trays with baking cups.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until very light in colour and fluffy.
4. Beat in egg, ube, and lavender food coloring.
5. Switch to a spoon to stir (these are muffins so don’t over mix) In three additions, alternately add in flour mixture and yogurt, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape bowl as needed to ensure that everything is incorporated well.
6. Fill each baking cup with the cupcake batter about 3/4 full.
7. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Transfer each cupcake immediately to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: My Filipino friends were a bit surprised that my cupcakes didn’t involve coconut, so for authenticity, I gave the muffins a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut on the top before they went into the oven.

Another Note: For some reason, these muffins fell, which made them look sad, even though they were delicious and we’ll be making them again. And thanks to my Filipino friends for the coconut tip.

For more on ube, you can follow it on Instagram and Facebook.

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Wine Cake and Sonoma County Real Estate

Trying to find a house to buy in this country is no joke. Trying to buy a house in Sonoma County is basically impossible. As it turns out, all of the houses already have people living in them and there are no one plans to move or build any new ones anytime soon because:

  1. the housing bust of 2008 dried up all the new construction
  2. developers are building multi-family units because rents are really high but they aren’t building any new single family homes
  3. there are still a lot of homeowners underwater on their mortgages
  4. there isn’t enough inventory for those who are above water on their mortgages and who want to move.

Somehow, we can build a 2,000 mile wall between the US and Mexico, but we can’t agree on a plan to build more housing for the people who live here.

There are no houses to buy and when one becomes available, you better have your shit together or you will miss your chance. Sometimes, you may have to ask around, try to get some info on the down low, make an offer on a house that’s not even on the market.

You may find yourself trying to convince a sweet octogenarian, who happens to be the current owner of your dream house, to sell it to you when he or she feels ready to do so–no rush, you’ll just be right over here, pre-approved for a mortgage and keeping your checkbook warm.

I’m not saying this is me, but I am saying that if I WERE working that angle, I would bring that sweet octogenarian some baked goods; because they like that sort of thing and THAT is the kind of person I am.

You may have heard that a certain sweet octogenarian you would like to bake for has a bad heart, so obviously, you bake them something healthy and vegan from ThugKitchen because you really do care about their health, but you are NOT fucking around.

And, because this is a Sonoma County real estate deal you are working, you bring that sweet man some wine cake from ThugKitchen.

ThugKithen Wine Cake Recipe

Cake Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sweet Sugar Glaze Ingredients
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup wine (whatever you used for the cake)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Warm up the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a standard Bundt pan.
2. Make the cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, coconut milk, wine, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Gently stir the dry mixture into the wet, then mix that shit up until there aren’t any more huge dry spots. Don’t overmix this though, just chill.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick stuck into it comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then stick a plate on top of that motherfucker and flip it over to get it out of the pan and onto the plate to cool.
4. Once the cake has cooled, you can add the glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar, wine, lemon juice, and vanilla until there aren’t any clumps. Drizzle over the cooled cake and slice that sweet son of a bitch up.

I have a few notes to make about this recipe after trying it. First, I don’t know what is going on with the recipe for the glaze, but it needs some work. There is way too much liquid. I would say you could reduce the amount of wine in it, but that suggestion makes me sad. So, try a different glaze recipe if you have one. Second, as you can see from the photo, I made this cake into cupcakes and ate them on my Mom’s wedding china because octogenarians make you feel fancy and old-school.

Thanks to ThugKitchen for the recipe. We didn’t technically ask them for permission to publish it, but they can just fucking get over it.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com