Wednesday, December 7, 2016

New-to-Me: Sacha Inchi

For the most part, we eat pretty healthily. But, if I had to name a bad habit I have, it would definitely be snacking. I love grabbing a handful of chips or popcorn. So, to stave off those cravings, I try to keep nuts in the house instead. I saw these and decided to give them a try: Sacha Inchi.


Sacha Inchi ― also known as 'sacha peanut' or 'mountain peanut' ― is native to South America and Southeast Asia. The jar we have lists its origins as Southeast Asia. I have seen them at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, so they are beginning to be "main stream."

From the drawings and photographs I've seen, it resembles a giant star anise or star fruit. What we're eating are the seeds. It boasts the full inventory of essential amino acids and over fifteen times the Omega-3 content of salmon. And ounce for ounce, compared to almonds which are usually our nut of choice, Sacha Inchi has more grams of protein.

The seeds we have are lighted toasted and lightly salted. And they are kept in the same aisle as nuts would be.


The verdict: We love them. I actually had to hide the jar from my 14-year-old because he kept grabbing handfuls in the middle of dinner. We did talk about what else we could do with them other than eat them straight. 

Thinking about trying them in pesto and maybe ground up as a coating instead of breadcrumbs. 

Have you tried these? What do you think?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Momiji Tempura #FoodieExtravaganza #MapleSyrupMadness


Welcome to the Foodie Extravaganza
v. December 2016 = Maple Syrup Madness

Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays or cook and bake together with the same ingredient or theme each month. This month we're celebrating maple syrup because December 17th is National Maple Syrup Day.

Thanks to Lauren of Sew You Think You Can Cook for hosting this event. She encouraged us: "December 17th is National Maple Syrup Day. Let's celebrate with more than pancakes! Bake some liquid amber into something sweet, cook it up into something savory, or stir it into a fun beverage."

Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza.  We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

Maple Syrup Madness
December 17th is National Maple Syrup Day and Lauren challenged us to bake with, cook with, or make a beverage with maple syrup. (For some international bloggers who can't find maple syrup, they'll be joining the fun with honey as a substitute.) And don't forget to check out all these other maple-y recipes:

Momiji Tempura
I have made this dish once before when I substituted the maple syrup, listed, for a locally-made ginger syrup. This time, I used the ingredient suggested in the original recipe and am sharing it for this #FoodieExtravaganza event. Here's the story behind this dish...


I was at one of my best friend's house for brunch, I noticed a Japanese maple tree near her front door. I snapped a photo and asked if I could have some of the leaves. I'm not sure she knew I was going to cook them, but a few days later she dropped the leaves off, rinsed and stored between moist paper towels.


Ingredients serves 4 as an appetizer
  • 1 C rice flour
  • 1 T organic corn starch
  • 1-1/2 C sparkling water
  • 16 to 20 fresh red Japanese maple leaves
  • maple syrup
  • canola oil for frying
  • furikake



Procedure
Clean maple leaves thoroughly with a moist towel. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the rice flour, corn starch, and sparkling water to create an airy batter. Do not overmix; the batter will be slightly lumpy.

Preheat oil in a pan. The oil has reached the correct temperature when a small drop of batter sizzles and floats.

Pour maple syrup in a shallow dish. Use a pastry brush to paint a thin layer of syrup on each leaf. Or you can simply dip the leaves in the syrup.


Lightly dip leaves in batter and fry immediately until golden brown.



Drain on a rack or on paper towels. Sprinkle with furikake while hot. Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

{Gluten-Free} Boiled Cider Cookies with Candied Ginger #FBLCookieExchange


For several years, I've taken part in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I created, baked, and shipped off Boozy Salted Fennel Pollen Shortbread (2012), Matcha-Black Sesame Shortbread (2013), Candied Buddha's Hand-Olive Oil Shortbread (2014), and Kaffir Lime Macaroons (2015). 

This year, the organizers decided not to host the event and another group of blogging friends decided yo create one. So, here we are the inaugural year of the Food Blogger Love Cookie Exchange coordinated by the gals at The PinterTest Kitchen and Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. To participate in the event, bloggers were asked to donate to one (or both) of the following charities. Join us, if you're so inclined.

  • CLIMATES-Rescue and The Bunny Hutch Boutique is an animal rescue in Virginia that takes in and feeds animals traditional shelters can’t take in, like snakes, turtles, bunnies, ferrets, and lizards. They are home to the biggest bunny in the United States! All those animals need a lot of food. CLICK HERE to sponsor a meal for an animal in need!
  • No Kid Hungry is an organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger. They believe no child should go to bed hungry. CLICK HERE to sponsor a meal for a child in need!

Now on to the cookie creation and swap part of this post. I baked these cookies and shipped them off to the bloggers at Body Rebooted, The Gluten-Free Foodsmith, and Garlic & Zest

And a quick shoutout of gratitude for the bloggers who shipped cookies to me. Thanks to The PinterTest Kitchen who sent me her Gluten-Free Frosted Chai Spiced Sugar CookiesThe Gluten-Free Foodsmith baked up a batch of her Sesame Butter Caramel Kiss Cookies, and Body Rebooted shared her Sweet Potato and Chocolate Cookies with me.


Whenever I've created cookie recipes for a swap, I take into consideration: (1) using an interesting ingredient and (2) how well the cookie will ship. This year, I asked to be put in the gluten-free pool so that Jake could indulge in the cookies we were sent. He was a happy man!

{Gluten-Free} Spiced Brown Butter-Boiled Cider Cookies

This recipe has two interesting ingredients that I think add a little intrigue and a lot of flavor to them: boiled cider and browned butter. Both are almost magical. Seriously. Magical. The boiled cider takes a little while, but it's worth it. I promise.

Note: this recipe is slightly different from the recipe I printed and included in my packages because, as I was baking and testing, my three live-in food critics  - lovingly known as The Sugar Pig (husband), The Precise Kitchen Elf (boy #1), and The Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf (boy #2) - all said that something was missing. So, I ran to the store and added candied ginger to the batch I mailed.

That's the recipe I'm sharing today. When I made them again, they wanted candied ginger and chopped macadamia nuts! Demanding food critics...

Ingredients

  • 12 T butter, browned and cooled
  • 2 1/2 C gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t  ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t  ground ginger
  • 1/8 t ground allspice
  • 1 C organic dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 T boiled cider (my recipe here)
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C candied ginger, chopped


Procedure
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, boiled cider, vanilla extract, and browned butter until well-combined. Gently fold in the flour mixture until everything is moistened and comes together in a sticky batter. Fold in the candied ginger until incorporated into the batter.


Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.


Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container, if you're keeping them for yourself or pack carefully so they don't get crushed if you're sending them off.


I think the gals to whom I shipped enjoyed them. I saw these on social media...and was relieved that they made them to my recipients intact. I was concerned since they weren't as hardy as a shortbread-style cookie.


"These spiced brown butter-boiled cider cookies are so perfect for this time of year!! 
Thanks for an amazing holiday treat." - Body Rebooted


"Thank you, Camilla - they are delicious!! Sorry for getting back to you late, but I was away for the holiday with no internet. I will be making these and sending them out as gift this year." 
- The Gluten-Free Foodsmith


And here's the full line-up of all the swapped cookies. What a great group of treats!

Cranberry Gremolata


I am woefully tardy in posting this recipe! This was my Thanksgiving version or gremolata for our osso buco. That recipe is coming soon, too. I promise.

My Cranberry Gremolata was inspired by the Italian condiment that is traditionally made with lemon zest, parsley, and garlic.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 C whole, raw hazelnuts
  • 1/4 C whole, raw pecans
  • 3/4 C fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley
  • zest from 1 organic lemon
  • juice from 1 organic lemon
  • 1 t toasted sesame oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure 
Place the nuts, cranberries, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sesame oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until desired texture. I prefer mine more chunky. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Beefed Up Brown Mary for the #Stirrings Stir It Up Holiday Blogger Mixology Challenge #Sponsor

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Stirrings. All opinions are my own.

Stirrings put a call out for food and beverage bloggers to compete in their inaugural “Stir It Up Holiday Blogger Mixology Challenge.” Yes, please!


Bloggers were asked to create an original cocktail recipe using a Stirrings Cocktail Mixer and/or Rimmer Cocktail Garnish.


I settled on using the Simple Bloody Mary Cocktail Mixer and the Bloody Mary Rimmer.* I did receive one other mixer and one other rimmer that I'll use in other recipes.

My concern: When I have used Stirrings mixers in the past, I use them for their convenience. They are a stir-and-go kinda thing; you don't need to do much except add booze and ice. So, now I was tasked to make a pre-made mixer a little bit more sexy. Okay. Challenge accepted.

I did some reading and discovered how many variations there are of a bloody cocktail. I knew that if I used vodka, it was a Bloody Mary and using tequila makes it a Bloody Maria. But I learned that pouring in sake makes a Bloody Geisha and substituting rum makes a Bloody Pirate. You get the idea.

I was most intrigued by the Brown Mary, which uses whiskey, and the Red Snapper, which uses gin. Those are usually my cocktail bases of choice. Jake and I tested three different alcohols and settled on the whiskey version.

Here's my Beefed Up Brown Mary for the Stirrings Stir It Up Holiday Blogger Mixology Challenge...


Ingredients makes one cocktail

Cocktail
  • 3 ounces Simple Bloody Mary Cocktail Mixer
  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
  • juice from 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 to 2 dashes hot sauce
  • 2 drops lemon bitters
  • freshly ground pepper
  • ice cubes
  • Also needed: mason jar and cocktail glass

Garnish
  • lemon wedge
  • Bloody Mary Rimmer
  • 1/4 to 1/2" wide strip of peppered beef jerky
  • 1 each of pickled carrot cube, pitted green olive, pickled green pepper, pickled red pepper, gherkin, and pickled pearl onion

Procedure

Thread the pearl onion, green olive, pickled carrot, pickled green pepper, pickled red pepper, and gherkin onto a toothpick or small skewer. Use kitchen shears to slice your beef jerky into a strip.

Rub the lemon wedge over the rim of your serving glass. Dip the glass in the Bloody Mary Rimmer. Invert and fill with ice.

In a mason jar, stir together the Simple Bloody Mary Cocktail Mixer, bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, lemon bitters, and hot sauce. Add in one to two grinds of black pepper.


Carefully pour the cocktail into the prepared glass.


Garnish with pickle spear and beef jerky.


Raise your glass with a friend or loved one. Cheers! This Elf and her Taste Testing husband were happy...



You may find Stirrings...
on the web

Use their online store locator (here) to find retailers near you. However, if any of these stores are near you, they will likely carry Stirrings - BevMo!, Total Wines & More, Draegers, Mollie Stones, Hi Time Liquors, Pacific Ranch Market, Daniels Market, Bristol Farms.

*Disclosure: I received product for free in exchange for recipe development for the Stir It Up Holiday Blogger Mixology Challenge. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the manufacturer of this product.

Friday, December 2, 2016

{Gluten-Free} Biscotti di Castagne + Vin Santo Dei Chianti #ItalianFWT


This month the Italian Food, Wine & Travel - #ItalianFWT - blogging group is celebrating Italian holiday wines, culinary traditions and Italian Christmas festivities. Jennifer at at Vino Travels invited us to gather around the table and share thoughts of winter, food, wine, and traditions.

More Christmas and Italian holiday treasures to be discovered.  Join my fellow bloggers below and if you catch us in time, chat with us live on Twitter this Saturday December 3rd at 11am EST #ItalianFWT.

The #ItalianFWT Line-Up

Next month Susannah from Avvinare will host coastal reds and whites along with foods and travel to coastal regions on January 7th. 


On My Plate
I love the smell of roasting chestnuts and the advent of winter meant that the chestnut vendors appeared on the street corners of Rome. Maybe other Italian cities, too. But I lived in Rome, so I'll stick with what I know.

I might have had roasted chestnuts before, but living in Rome was the first time I really fell in love with them. I remember being at the market one day and spotting these bizarre looking pods with spikes.

Che cos'è questi? I asked, pointing that them.

 Le castagne, he answered.

They looked so impenetrable and daunting. But, when cooked or candied, they are tender and so tasty. And that was it;  my lasting chestnut obsession was in full swing. I haven't lived in Italy in almost twenty years, so, perhaps it's less of an obsession and more of a smoldering infatuation.


Whenever I come across chestnut flour, I buy multiple packages! And, this year, I found a French chestnut paste. So, for my #ItalianFWT offering, I decided to celebrate the chestnut. And, as I nibbled on these and sipped my vin santo, I remembered my Christmas in Rome. Buon Natale!

Biscotti di Castagne

Cookies
  • 1¼ C organic dark brown sugar
  • ¼ C butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs (2 for dough and 1 for finishing)
  • ⅓ C whole milk
  • 1½ t chestnut paste (you can use vanilla bean paste also)
  • 1½ t baking soda
  • 1½ t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • ½ t ground cloves
  • ½ t ground star anise
  • ½ t ground cardamom
  • ½ t freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ C molasses
  • ¼ C honey
  • 4 C gluten-free flour
  • 2 C chestnut flour
  • ½ C candied ginger (diced or use flakes)
Royal Icing
  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 C organic powdered sugar
  • ¼ t pure vanilla extract

Procedure

Beat brown sugar and butter together in a large bowl until well-combined. Add 2 eggs, milk, and chestnut paste; beat again until smooth. Add baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, molasses, maple syrup, and candied ginger. Beat again.

Stir in gluten-free flour. Gradually add chestnut flour, using a wooden spoon. Once the dough starts to become stiff, quickly knead in the rest of the flour. It should come together into a ball.

Split dough into two balls. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper to approximately ¼" thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out your cookies. I used hearts. Place on prepared baking sheet. Re-roll dough and repeat until your dough is gone.

Beat the remaining egg, then brush a thin coat over the dough before you put it into the oven. Place in preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes - until cookies just start to turn golden around the edges and are slightly raised.

Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once they are cooled, you can decorate them with royal icing. 

Royal Icing
Beat egg whites in a large clean mixing bowl until foamy. Gradually add powdered sugar and lemon extract. Beat at high speed until thickened. The mixture should hold light peaks.


To Decorate
Use a piping bag, decorating tube, or a ziploc bag with a tiny hole cut out of the corner. Decorate your cookies as you wish. when the royal icing dries it will lose its glossy sheen. Once it's hard, the decoration will not smudge or move.


In My Glass
Vin Santo is a dessert wine produced all over Italy, but Tuscany appears to be its original home. Meaning "Holy Wine," dating back to the 14th century, it's a sweet wine that is a wonderful accompaniment to not-too-sweet deserts. You will often find it slightly chilled and served with almond cookies. So, I didn't think my chestnut cookies were too far off the mark.

I poured a Badia a Coltibuono, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico 2008. In the glass, it was a brilliant, golden amber hue. On the nose, its aroma had hints of vanilla, honey, and - dare I say - roasted chestnuts. And, on the tongue, it was simultaneously clean and voluptuous. Dominant notes were concentrated fruit with a long finish. This is definitely a sipping wine and one I'll squirrel away for special occasions.

Ricotta Gnocchi in an Easy Cream Sauce


It is always challenging to come up with a lesson and a recipe that can be done - amidst the general chaos of cooking with kids - in less than 90 minutes. Today we attempted a ricotta gnocchi and, if I might say so myself, they did a great job!


 Ingredients
Gnocchi
  • 2 C whole-milk ricotta
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/4 C flour + more for rolling
  • 1 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • dash of grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground pepper

Sauce
  • 1/3 C butter
  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • 1/2 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • fresh thyme leaves


Procedure
Gnocchi
Stir together ricotta, eggs, cheese, nutmeg, and pepper. Add flour, stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon to form a soft, wet dough. Shape dough on a parchment-lined surface with lightly floured hands. 


Roll into 1" ropes and cut crosswise into 1" pieces with a lightly floured knife to form pillow dumplings.

To form the gnocchi, press a piece of dough onto the tines of a fork.

Use your thumb to create a dimple in the top of the gnocchi. Roll the dough down the tines to create gnocchi's signature indentations. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once your gnocchi are rolled, make the sauce.

Sauce
In a large pot, melt your butter in the heavy cream. Stir in the cheese and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened. Fold in the fresh thyme leaves.


Finish
Cook gnocchi in a few batches in a pasta pot of boiling salted water. 


Add a few to the pot at a time, stirring occasionally. 


When they float to the surface, they are finished. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain in colander.


To Serve
Spoon the cooked gnocchi into the sauce. Toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Gingerbread Houses for Girls' Night


Sometimes, the culinary adventure is not in the ingredients...or even in the finished product. I doubt I'll even nibble on this. But the adventure is the process and the company. Last night I went to MY Museum's inaugural Gingerbread House Making for the 21 and over Crowd; they have an event for the littles this weekend to round out their Gingerbread Extravaganza Weekend.


Pia and I were joking that we made dinner for our boys and completely neglected to feed ourselves. Thankfully, in addition to the gingerbread houses, we had grown-up libations, and delicious nibbles from some of our favorite local food artisans.


Chef Ron Mendoza of Revival Ice + Cream was first to the rescue. Yes, we did eat dessert first! We devoured the chocolate popsicles dipped in milk chocolate and covered in whiskey meringues. And, yes, it was as decadent as it sounds.

There were also peppermint chocolate whoopie pies from Chef Michelle Lee at the InterContinental - The Clement and some tasty morsels - think caprese skewers, melon and prosciutto, and chorizo and cheese drizzled with honey - from The Wharf Marketplace. Did you know they catered? I didn't. Yum.


And the reason I didn't get photos of the food: I was too busy chatting and making my gingerbread house!

photo by Pia

After spending hours upon hours baking gingerbread and spending way too much money on candy, I kinda like the all-in-a-box-gingerbread-house kit! Within 90 minutes, we had finished houses. See!

photo by MY Museum





At the end of the evening, I dropped mine in the box for safe-keeping and headed home.


I did want to add a quick note about my scarf because it's timely and festive. I planned to crochet little gingerbread scarves for my girlfriends, but (1) I don't know how to crochet though I am a quick study and (2) I ran out of time. So, if anyone wants to teach me how to do this... let me know! I'm already thinking about next year's Gingerbread Extravaganza.

Share Buttons