Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats


These couldn't be simpler--or more delicious!  There are lots of ways you can play around with them, too. The original recipe came from the Vegetarian Times.  I followed it pretty closely, adding just a sprinkle of kosher salt when I mixed in the rice cereal.  Next time, I might add an extra cup of cereal and, perhaps, a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract to bump up the flavor.  I also put the dish in the fridge for awhile to harden a bit.  The recipe calls for almond butter, which I think makes them very special.  Peanut butter or another nut butter would work as well.

Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats
1/2 cup almond butter
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 cups crispy rice cereal (I used brown rice cereal--and next time I'll add at least 4 cups)
pinch of salt

Grease an 8x8 square baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large pan, combine the almond butter, honey and chocolate chips over medium low flame, stirring constantly until the chocolate is melted--about 3 or 4 minutes.  Add the cereal and a pinch of salt and stir to thoroughly combine the cereal with the chocolate mixture. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into squares. (I found it helped to refrigerate them for about 30 minutes after they cooled.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Savory Honey Beer Bread

Our favorite beekeeper, Steve Repasky joined us for dinner on Saturday.  Steve is a Master Beekeeper, the owner of Meadow Sweet Apiaries and the President of Burgh Bees (check out their new and improved website!).  Steve is also working on his first book, Swarm Essentials, which should be out soon--or at least in time for the next swarm season!  I'll be sure to let everyone know when it's out.

Steve is also a beer lover, which is why I tried this recipe out for his visit.  The recipe comes from a New York Times article about wheat berries.  The article stresses that sifting the flour makes for a much lighter loaf.  We had only a little whole wheat flour on hand, so I fiddled with the original recipe a bit. The rosemary adds a lovely aroma to the bread but doesn't overpower it. There's a slight hint of sweetness, but this is very much a quick, savory bread.  

Savory Honey Beer Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon (yes! tablespoon!) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons butter, melted
12 ounces beer (lager)
Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Stir the honey and melted butter together and add them to the flour with the beer. Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan, tap it on the counter a few times to get rid of any air holes and bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean--about 50 minutes.  Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  It's great toasted the next day, too!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Zucchini Honey Cupcakes with Honey-Cream Cheese Icing

I can't quite claim that these cupcakes are health food--but it's safe to say that these cupcakes are at least better for you  most other cupcakes.  They're made with olive oil and honey and they're delicious!  Delicate, not-too-sweet, and  very satisfying.  The original recipe comes from a July 2006 issue of Gourmet Magazine, now available here on Epicurious.

I will confess that initially, Robert was not ecstatic about these cupcakes.  That might have something to do with the fact that he grabbed one before it had time to cool and ate it without any frosting. They were a little greasy when they first came out of the oven, but once they cooled (and even after after two days!) they were moist and delicious.  Lots of baked goods made with honey taste better the next day--and the honey helps to keep baked goods fresh. 

Zucchini Honey Cupcakes 
1/3 cup crystallized ginger (about 1 3/4 oz.), coarsely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon (or orange) zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (I used 1 medium-sized zucchini that seemed to be perfect)
3/4 cup mild olive oil
3/4 cup mild honey
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 18 muffin cups with liners.  In a food processor, pulse the crystallized ginger until it's finely ground.  Add flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, lemon zest, salt, baking soda and baking powder to bowl of food processor and pulse to combine.  In a medium bowl, whisk the zucchini, oil, honey, eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined--don't over mix.  Spoon the batter in the muffin cups, filling no more than 1/2 full so that they don't burst over the sides.  You should have enough for 18 regular-sized cupcakes.  Bake for about 20 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting with Honey-Cream Cheese Icing.  Don't frost if you're not eating them right away.

Honey-Cream Cheese Icing
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened 
2-4 tablespoons honey (according to taste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
Beat the cream cheese until very smooth.  Add 2 tablespoons of the honey and the vanilla and beat until well blended.  Taste.  Add some more honey if you'd like the icing to be sweeter.  Should make enough for 18 cupcakes.   


Friday, September 27, 2013

Quinoa "Tabouleh"

This lovely salad is a riff on the Middle Eastern dish, tabouleh, which is traditionally made with bulgur, a cereal made from wheat groats. Instead of bulgur, I used quinoa in this recipe. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a seed that can be used like rice (or bulgur!).  Quinoa has been gaining in popularity because it is high in protein and quite tasty.  You can find white, black and red quinoa on most grocery store shelves these days.  I used red in this dish.  Looking for more quinoa recipes?  Check out these previous posts: Quinoa Pilaf and Quinoa, Red Pepper and Black Bean Salad.

Quinoa "Tabouleh"
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup fresh flat parsley leaves, chopped
3 celery ribs, 1/4 inch diced
3-4 green onions, 1/4 inch slices (include green parts!)
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (optional, but nice! I used dried cherries. Apricots or mangoes would also be nice)
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup roasted chopped almonds (unsalted)--walnuts, sunflower seeds or cashews would also work.

If it hasn't been pre-rinsed, then place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse with water for a minute or so.  In a sauce pan, combine water and quinoa with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover pan, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until water is absorbed.  You'll know the quinoa is done when the white spiral-like germ of the seed becomes visible. Spoon into a bowl, fluff and let cool to room temperature.  When the quinoa is cool, add the parsley, celery, onions and dried fruit and toss to combine.  In a small bowl or jar, whisk (or shake) the lemon juice, oil, honey, salt & pepper until well-combined.  Pour over the quinoa and toss to combine.  Sprinkle top with nuts (or stir in if you prefer).  Makes about 8 servings as a side dish.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Honey Cake You'll Really Like!

Robert made this delicious honey cake last week.  It 's a bit late for Rosh Hashanah, but this cake is wonderful and worth making even if there isn't a new year to celebrate. If we had it, we'd have added a little whipped cream to the plate to take this dessert over the top!   This recipe, for Red Wine Honey Cake with Plums, comes from Melissa Clark's "A Good Appetite" column in the New York Times. We skipped the plums in favor of raspberries that are burgeoning in the garden right now.  My all time go-to recipe for honey cake has been the one published in Gourmet Magazine in September 2003 (and luckily still available on-line!).  I think this one might just replace it, though!

Melissa Clark's Red Wine Honey Cake (made by Robert!)
NOTE:  In her story about making this cake, she notes that the wine tints the batter "an unappealing grey, making it look more like concrete than cake." That color disappears with the baking--and the flavor is lovely.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1  1/4 cups olive oil
1 cup good, local honey
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.  Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices together in a large bowl.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs then add the sugar, oil, 1 cup honey, wine and ginger and whisk until well combined.  Add the flour mixture to the honey mixture and whisk until smooth.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean--about 45-50 minutes. (You might need to tent the cake mid-way through if the top starts to brown too much.)  Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes then unmold and cool completely.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pickled Cauliflower in Honey & Beet Brine

These unusual pickles not only have a great crunchy pickle taste, they also look lovely in the pantry! I will, however, note that out of the jar, the cauliflower florets are more pastel-pink than the bright purple-pink they appear in the jar.

This recipe, with some modifications, came from Andrea Chesman's book Pickled Pantry (Storey Publishing, 2012), which I borrowed from the library and have really been enjoying.  I particularly like the way that she describes the flavors of the pickles and the helpful recipes at the end for using and cooking with pickles. The recipes also include small batches (1-quart) as well as recipes for fermenting.   When we crack open the first jar, I'll report back on the taste.

Looking for more pickle recipes to try?
Check out previous posts for:
honey pickled carrots
cherry tomatoes in honey brine
pickled garlic scapes

Pickled Cauliflower in Honey & Beet Brine

This recipe makes four pints (or two quarts)

2 small-medium beets well scrubbed, chopped (you don't have to be too meticulous here because the beets will eventually get strained out)
2 2/3 cups distilled white vinegar
2 2/3 cups water
3 tablespoons honey
4 teaspoons pickling salt 
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
One large (approximately 6-8 inches)--around 6 cups--of cauliflower florets

In a saucepan, heat the beets, vinegar, water, honey and salt just to a boil and then simmer for five minutes.  While the vinegar heats, pack the cauliflower into sterilized wide mouth canning jars. (To sterilize, I place in a 225 degree oven for 20 minutes--consult any canning resource for guides about this.)  To each jar, add 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds and 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds.  Strain the beets out of the vinegar brine and pour the hot brine over the cauliflower, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Remove any air bubbles and then seal with lids.  Place in a boiling water bath (water should cover the sealed jars by 2 inches).  Bring the water back to a gentle boil and begin timing--the jars should be in the bath for 15 minutes.  Remove, cool completely, check that the jars have sealed and wait 6 weeks for the flavors to develop.  (Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated.)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lentil Salad with Delicious Honey Yogurt Basil Dressing

The dressing in this salad is, as the title proclaims, delicious and could be used for a variety of salads, especially a simple lettuce salad or even in a potato salad in place of mayonnaise.  It is from the July/August issue of Vegetarian Times.  I used it on this lovely lentil salad with cucumbers, red onions and celery.  The salad weeps a bit, so be sure to stir it well before serving.

For the salad:
2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup chopped cucumbers
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup finely diced red onion

Toss in a large bowl.

For the dressing:
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (the original recipe calls for rice vinegar)
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

Whirl the dressing ingredients in a small food processor until thoroughly blended and creamy.  (If you don't have a small food processor, then finely chop the basil and place all of the ingredients in a jar with a lid.  Vigorously shake until well blended!)

Pour the dressing over the salad, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate the salad for a few hours to chill.  Stir well before serving and check again for seasoning--add a bit more salt and pepper if needed.  Just before serving, you could also add a handful of sunflower seeds or toasted and chopped walnuts or almonds.

Serves four generously if this is a main dish and easily 6 as a side dish.