Archive for July, 2013

Homemade Almond Milk

July 31, 2013

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I love milk.  It’s a love for dairy, actually.  And the more fat it has, the better.  Want cream with that?  Yep!  Should we use whole milk yogurt?  Obviously.  Do we even need cereal with that?  Nope, let’s skip it!

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Of course, this is not a sustainable lifestyle.  (But it is a joyous lifestyle!).  So I’ve taken up almond milk (no, it’s not dairy, but it’s still milk…stick with me) to cut the calories a bit.  It’s actually very tasty, and there are flavors to choose from!  Vanilla unsweetened almond milk?!  Yes, please!  The only problem is that it’s just a bit thin for my taste.

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So leave it to me to fatten this up too.  I thought that I should give it a try to make almond milk at home.  And thought, while we’re at it, let’s make it a bit thicker than the usual.  And why stop at just vanilla?!  Let’s sweeten it up!  Add some cinnamon, even!  Maybe add some ice cream and turn it into a milkshake!  Oh, the possibilities!

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It was delicious, people.  I will have to do another juice cleanse to make up for the copious amounts of thick, sweet almond milk dessert like beverage I have had.  I could not stop drinking it.  But it was so worth it.  On to other nuts!

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Homemade Almond Milk (recipe from The Kitchn)

So, I exaggerated, people.  This milk isn’t super thick.  It does have more body than the store bought almond milk, which just amounts in deliciousness.  But if you do want to make it thinner, just add more water.  And if you are awesome and want to take this to the milkshake level, eliminate some of the water.  And the dates and cinnamon and vanilla, they’re all just add-ons.  You make it however you please.  But do make it, because, have I mentioned that this is so incredibly tasty?  It is.

1 cup raw almonds

2 cups water

4 dates, pitted and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, drained

1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Place almonds in a bowl and cover with about an inch of water.  Soak at least overnight, or up to 2 days.  The longer you soak your almonds, the creamier your almond milk will be.  I, of course, soaked mine for 2 days.  Drain and rinse the almonds and discard the water.

Place almonds in blender.  Add the 2 cups of fresh water.  Add dates, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.  Blend on highest speed for 2-3 minutes until everything is well incorporated and liquified.

Strain the mixture over a strainer lined with cheese cloth or opened nut bag over a mixing bowl or measuring cup to catch the liquid.  Press down with a rubber spatula to make sure that all of the liquid has been extracted.

Refrigerate liquid until thoroughly chilled.  With the leftover almonds, you can add it to oatmeal or baked goods.  Or you can dry it by spreading it on to a baking sheet and baking it at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours until it is  completely dry.  Then you have yourself some almonds flour!  And you already know what you can make with that.

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Cinnamon Pecan Tea Biscuits

July 27, 2013

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If I could have one meal for the rest of my life, I think I would have to go with afternoon tea.  Seriously, it makes so much sense.  First, you get your caffeine fix, which is obviously necessary, and not an integral part of lunch or dinner.  Second, you always get a dessert of some kind: scones! macarons! cookies, cake, pie!  And lastly, hello, there are sandwiches involved.  A no-brainer.  The best meal, really.

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Now I know what you’re thinking – who has time for an afternoon tea?!  To which I respond: make time, friends!  Everyone needs a little pick-me-up right around 4pm.  Why not fill it with tea and biscuits?!  Especially this one filled with wholesome goodness: oats and nuts and whole wheat flour.  It’s a biscuit that’s truly power packed.

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But, fine, if you don’t have the time for a daily afternoon tea, at least make these and crumble them into your yogurt for breakfast and dessert.  A versatile tea biscuit, it is!

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Cinnamon Pecan Tea Biscuits

1 stick butter, melted and cooled

1 cup pecans, toasted and cooled

1/2 cup powdered jaggery, or light brown sugar

1 cup rolled or quick oats

1/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whiz everything in a food processor until the nuts are finely ground, and the mixture sticks together when pressed.  Scoop out tablespoon sized balls, roll and press slightly before placing on  prepared baking sheet.  The mixture will be crumbly.  Repeat with rest of mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes until the cookies are set, and are golden brown in color.  Let cool on a wire rack.

Strawberry Almond Crisp

July 19, 2013

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No, I probably don’t need to post another strawberry recipe.  And yes, strawberry season was at its peak about 6 weeks ago.  And I know that it will be nearly impossible to find gems like the one below at any farmers markets these days.  And, yes, sigh, I know that it will be another 11 months before we get the privilege of eating sweet, hand picked strawberries again.  But humor me for one second.  Because it is exactly at this time of year, every year, that I become nostalgic for summer.

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Oh, I know that we are just in the middle of it.  The heat waves are going strong and pools are still a welcome sight, and vacations are still to be had.  But it’s just this feeling I get, at the end of July, when I know that summer will end soon, and the winter coat that I have just put away will make an appearance again.  It is at this time that I just want to eat as much berries and watermelon and corn and tomatoes and everything else that spoils us in the summer.  Summer really does get to have it all and I just want to last for a little longer.

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So go on and get nostalgic about the summer before it even ends!  It will make it easier to take the blow come September.

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Strawberry Almond Crisp

For Strawberry Filling:

1/2 pint strawberries, cut in half
2 tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. almond flour
For Crisp Topping:
2/3 cup almond flour
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 stick butter, cold, cut in pieces
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a 8×8 square pan, mix together strawberries, sugar, salt and almond flour until everything is well combined.  Set aside.
In a bowl, mix together almond flour, almonds, brown sugar and salt.  Whisk together until everything is combined.  With a fork, cut in the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is pea-sized and is incorporated into the dry ingredients.  Spread the topping evenly over the strawberry mixture.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the top if golden brown, and the strawberries are bubbling.  Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Cardamom Yogurt Mousse with Apricots

July 9, 2013

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I like to play this game whenever I go out to restaurants with my friends.  As soon as we get the dessert menu, we each have to guess what the others would get.  That’s the end of the game.  It doesn’t sound like much of a game, really, but it really is!  It is about how well you know each other, what kinds of tastes you prefer, and most of all, once the desserts have been ordered, who was right about picking the best one!  (That’s my favorite part of the game).

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Actually, winning is my favorite part.  It happens so rarely that I really like to make the win last as long as possible.  The last time I won was at one of my favorite restaurants, and I knew exactly what I wanted for dessert.  It was a fancy yogurt mousse decorated with different kinds of cooked apricots.  It sounded absolutely delicious: creamy, and fruity and light and just lovely.  That’s all I wanted.

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The looks I got from my friends when they realized that the yogurt dessert would have to take up space at our table were not pleasant.  But it was by far the favorite choice (I won!).  It was everything that a summer dessert should be.  We ordered extras.

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I have been trying out recipes that resemble that dessert ever since, and this is the closest I’ve gotten.  Go run out and make this while apricots are still in season!  And then make this yogurt mousse with every other fruit until the end of summer, and then with honey and walnuts in the fall, and cranberries in the winter, because, this is the winning dessert, my friends.  Did I mention that?

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Cardamom Yogurt Mousse with Apricots (adapted from Serious Eats)

So, in full disclosure, this wasn’t exactly the texture I would have liked for it to be.  But this isn’t the recipe’s fault.  It’s my own.  I couldn’t find any (vegetarian) gelatin out there, so had to go for the (vegetarian) pectin instead.  And alas, I ended up with lumps rather than the smooth, luscious mousse I was hoping for.  I have no doubt that gelatin will work very well.  So find that, will you?  Another point: I liked the cardamom in this, it’s true.  But I think that vanilla would just be a cleaner flavor and let the yogurt and apricot flavors shine through more.  Next time, I will go with that.  You should add any spice or flavoring as you please.  Also, how about some toasted pistachios or pecans on top?!  Food for thought.

For Mousse:

2 tsp. powdered gelatin

1/3 cup honey

2 egg whites

3/4 cup cream

1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (2% or whole milk yogurt)

1/2 tsp. cardamom

pinch of salt

For Apricots:

6-8 apricots

3 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. flour

pinch of cardamom

For the apricots: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare fruit by placing in an 8×8 square baking dish, or 9 inch round pan.  In the dish, stir in sugar, flour and pinch of nutmeg, until everything is well-distribuited.  Bake for about 25 minutes until apricots are soft and jam like.  Put aside to cool.

For the mousse: Pour 1/4 cup water in a small pot and sprinkle the gelatin over the top.  Set aside for five minutes.  Put the pot over medium heat until the gelatin dissolves.  Whisk in the honey and continue whisking until the honey is thinned and the whole mixture is pourable.

Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they are stiff.  Scrape the meringue out to a separate bowl.  In the same bowl, whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks.  Mix in the yogurt.  Beat in the cardamom and the salt. Then slowly drizzle in the honey mixture until everything is well combined.  Fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula.

Place a spoonful of the apricots in 6 serving cups until all of the apricots have been used.  Spread the mousse on top and chill completely, about 1-2 hours.

Mixed Berry Lime Bundt Cake

July 3, 2013

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Let’s be honest, people.  Summer is never about the cake (or chocolate, really, but I’ll save that for another time).  Summer, especially this current summer in time, when the heat is seriously ridiculous, is about the ice creams, and cobblers, crisps, and pies.  I mean, did you see this in Monday’s paper?  Seriously, it’s no question.  There’s no need to make cake in the summer.

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And I get it.  Fruit is in abundance, and needs as little dressing up as possible.  But we are depriving ourselves!  Lovely, fresh summer fruit can be easily incorporated into any cake!  And this cake is delightful, and full of berries and summer flavors.  And it is even rocking some patriotic colors, perhaps appropriate for a holiday barbecue that you may be attending this week??

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And above all else, bundt cakes are the most perfect dessert to make: they tend to be made in one bowl, they feed a crowd, and they are always no less than a showstopper.  And because things are the way they are, in the summer, bundts are totally unexpected.  Which adds to the showstopper piece, and quite frankly, makes you awesome.

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So hurry up and make this cake.  And if you feel like it, you can go ahead and serve it up with your favorite ice cream.  We can’t always protest summer desserts, can we?

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Mixed Berry Lime Bundt Cake (slightly adapted from Joy the Baker)

scant 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoon fresh lime zest

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1.5 teaspoons salt

a couple swipes of fresh nutmeg

3 large eggs

1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 cup yogurt

2 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 pint fresh raspberries

1/2 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a Bundt pan.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar and lime zest.  Rub the zest into the sugar.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the lime sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.  In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, yogurt and lime juice.

Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon until all of the dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture is thoroughly combined.  The batter will be thick, but make sure that all of the flour is well-incorporated.  Add the fresh berries and gently fold in until evenly distributed through the batter.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.   Let cool completely and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.