Gingered Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

Father’s Day this year was nice for Beloved, I’m happy to report.  Jolly took him out for dinner the night before; I made him Crab Cake Benedict (served over sauteed Swiss chard and caramelized onions) for brunch and some lovely chicken livers sauteed with white wine, onion and capers over a traditional risotto for dinner.  He got to take a nap and putter in the garden and we gave him a couple of cute gifts, both useful and funny.

He enjoyed himself, which is the goal of any good Father’s Day.

I also made him this.  The man is a strawberry-rhubarb fanatic, and since our rhubarb is gorgeous this year and we had two quarts of fresh strawberries in the fridge, why not make him a strawberry-rhubarb dessert as a Father’s Day treat?  And because cobbler is easier than pie, as well as every bit as tasty, well…there you go.

Now, this is not paleo (like cobbler could ever be truly paleo); in fact, it’s not even gluten-free.  (You can make it gluten-free and more paleo friendly by using the topping recipe here, if you like).  What it is is freaking delicious, and if I’m going to make the light of my life one of his favorite desserts for Father’s Day, I refuse to feel the least bit guilty about it.  All of the ingredients, including the AP flour and granulated sugar, were certified organic, and the fruit was locally grown – you can’t get more “local” than your own back yard.

So there.

The addition of the crystallized ginger in the topping was just wonderful, and the topping itself was tender and fluffy and simply delicious.  I’m going to throw caution to the wind and make a cobbler with this topping again when peaches are in season later this summer.  It’ll be awesome.

*smiles and thumbs nose*

Gingered Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler. Crystallized ginger really elevates the topping of this marvelous springtime dessert.

Click the image to enlarge

Gingered Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler
Serves: 6
[i]To make this gluten-free and more paleo-friendly, [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/grain-free-peach-cobbler/” target=”_blank”]use the topping recipe here[/url].[/i]
Ingredients
  • [i]For the filling:[/i]
  • 2 1/2 cups diced rhubarb
  • 2 1/2 cups hulled and quartered strawberries
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice [i][b]or[/b][/i] granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour [i][b]or[/b][/i] corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • [i]For the crust:[/i]
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice [i][b]or[/b][/i] granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the rhubarb and the strawberries with the sugar, tapioca or corn starch, and lemon zest. Set aside the mixture for 30 minutes to macerate.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the 2 tablespoons of sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Using the tines of a fork, cut the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk, egg, and crystallized ginger just until moistened. Do not over mix.
  4. Pour strawberries and rhubarb into a 2-quart casserole dish; drop the cobbler batter by heaping tablespoonfuls on top of the fruit. Sprinkle a little extra sugar over the cobbler topping, if desired.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cobbler crust is golden brown and fruit filling is bubbling. Serve warm; top with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 304 calories, 9.3g total fat, 52.4mg cholesterol, 189.4mg sodium, 252.4mg potassium, 52.4g carbohydrates, 2.5g fiber, 24.6g sugar, 4.4g protein

Mexican-Style Rice

Cinco de Mayo was yesterday, and if you live in northeast Ohio you’ll either 1) ignore it, 2) find yourself in a restaurant that wouldn’t know real Mexican (to say nothing of Tex-Mex) food if it jumped in their lap, or 3) make it yourself.

For the last 9 years, I’ve opted for number 3.

I guess ideally, I should have posted this recipe prior to Cinco de Mayo, but since I make Mexican food on a fairly regular basis – and you should, too – I figured it would be worth putting up post-weekday-reason-to-drink-margaritas anyway.  Well, that and the fact that it’s the first time I’ve ever really made it successfully.

For some reason, Mexican-style rice, or sopa seca, is something I’ve never been able to master to my satisfaction.  Something of an oddity, really, since things like handmade tamales and traditional chiles relleno pose no problem for me at all and neither of those dishes are what you could call “quick and easy.”  However, since I was making enchiladas for the “holiday” (I found some wonderful organic, sprouted corn tortillas at our local natural foods store) and I’d just made western-style beans a few days before, I wanted some rice.

I wanted some good rice, and I found the recipe over at Homesick Texan.  Lisa is a marvelous cook (her blog is where I found the aforementioned western-style beans originally) and I was more than willing to try her version of Mexican-style rice.  With a few modifications – I like peas and carrots in my Mexican-style rice and subbed half the tomato paste with some homemade Enchilada Sauce while cutting back on the cumin – it was just marvelous.  Not only did I love it, but Beloved, Jolly and Darling Daughter also ate it with great enthusiasm.

Really. Good. Stuff.

Mexican-Style Rice. A must for any Cinco de Mayo feast, this recipe for Mexican-style rice is easy, delicious and pretty much perfect.

Click the image to enlarge

Mexican-Style Rice
Serves: 6
[i]Adapted from [url href=”http://www.homesicktexan.com/2008/06/with-beans-comes-rice.html” target=”_blank”]Homesick Texan[/url][/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/enchilada-sauce/” target=”_blank”]Enchilada Sauce[/url]
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine the rice, chicken broth and kosher sea salt in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Remove from the heat. Stir again, then cover the saucepan with a dry, clean dishcloth and place the lid on top. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. While the rice is cooking, sauté the onion in the butter in a shallow skillet over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, enchilada sauce, cumin and peas and carrots and continue cooking until the vegetables are warmed through, another 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the onion/vegetable mixture from the heat and stir in the cooked rice, lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed, and serve immediately.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 197 calories, 3.7g total fat, 7.9mg cholesterol, 347.9mg sodium, 313.1mg potassium, 35.3g carbohydrates, 2.2g fiber, 3.6g sugar, 6g protein

 

 

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs

TGIF.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Personal (read: unbloggable) life keeps rolling on, eating up a lot of my time, but at least I’m not bored.  At any rate, I do have a really tasty recipe for you today.

If you were at all wondering what to do with any leftover ground lamb/liver/bacon from the Lamb Dirty Rice – and there will be – this recipe is it.

Boy, is it…it.

I’ve gotten to the point where, if I want The G Man to eat something he doesn’t like (anything that resembles a vegetable, for example), I hide it in meatloaf or meatballs.  The Young One, too – he absolutely loathes zucchini and summer squash, but he’ll scarf it down if I shred it and stick it in a meatloaf.  This recipe hides nutrient-dense liver – you can’t even tell it’s there, with all the bacon and spices.

These come together really quickly, are ready in less than 20 minutes and simply just delicious.  You can use just about any ground meat/liver from the appropriate animal you like, too (chicken, beef, pork) – the bacon keeps the meatballs moist and you can adjust the spices to suit your personal tastes.

These would be quite good served with the Red Onion Jam I posted earlier this week.

Note:  Make sure your bacon is “clean” and these are Whole30 compliant.  (Oh, look – I still do that.)

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs. Easy and nutritious, your family will never guess what's hiding in these delicious little meatballs.

Click the image to enlarge

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces ground lamb
  • 3 ounces lamb liver, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, gently combine all of the ingredients until well mixed. Form into 16 meatballs of equal size, and place on the slotted top of a broiler pan.
  3. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center. Serve with [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/red-onion-jam/” target=”_blank”]Red Onion Jam[/url].
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 428 calories, 35.3g total fat, 195.7mg cholesterol, 902.48mg sodium, 346.5mg potassium, 5.3g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, <1g sugar, 21g protein

 

Adventures in Yogurt Making

Here I am again, and devastated to report the slot on my Nikon that holds the SD card has decided to commit suicide.  If that’s not bad enough, it selfishly decided to take the 16GB memory card containing ALL of my unpublished (read: unsaved) food photos along with it.  This means the images of all the recipes that I’ve been photographing, but haven’t had time to post, have gone to That Great Mass Storage Device In The Sky.

So, yeah…no photos.  Have I mentioned I’m devastated?

(In a desperate ploy to at least partially appease his devastated – and, possibly, hysterical – wife, Beloved suggested I look at a new camera body so I didn’t have to try and take photographs with my lousy-for-taking-pictures Anroid phone for the 3 weeks it will take my D90 to be repaired.  I am now the proud owner of a Nikon D5300; the D90 will serve as a backup upon its return.)

Fortunately, I had already saved this particular photo and since making yogurt was one of the things I’ve been wanting to talk about, well, there you go.

As I’m sure My Better Half will tell you, I’m often guilty of coming up with Grand Plans that don’t see fruition.  Not from lack of follow-through, but from becoming distracted by other, sometimes more important, things that aren’t part of the Grand Plan – and, as I’m sure he will tell you, I have a bad habit of biting off more than I can chew.

In other words, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

At any rate, homemade yogurt has been on my list of Grand Plans for quite some time, and I have finally gotten around to giving it a whirl.  As I am wont to do, I began by researching and the first thing I researched was yogurt makers.  Since, like Alton Brown, I don’t like one-use gadgets, after reading that yogurt makers can suddenly lose their temperature control – and successful yogurt depends on pretty precise temperature control – it didn’t take long for me to look into other methods of making yogurt in my own kitchen.  And there are lots of different methods.

– Both David Lebovitz and Bon Appetit suggest just putting your tempered milk/starter mixture in a jar and leaving it in a “slightly warm spot” in your kitchen for 10 to 12 hours.  So much for precise temperature control. (I’m sure this will work, but the yogurt will be thin.)

– If you don’t feel comfortable leaving jars of warm milk sitting on your counter for hours, Aimee at Simple Bites tells you how to culture it with a heating pad and towels.

– The Creative Simple Life shows us how to make yogurt with a slow cooker.

– Don’t have a slow cooker or a heating pad?  Marisa at Food In Jars cultures hers in a small insulated cooler.

– Sarah at Heartland Renaissance started out making yogurt in her slow cooker, but now makes it in the oven.

While doing all of this research and considering all of these different methods for making yogurt, I found one site that suggested in an offhand manner that it’s possible to make yogurt using a Sous Vide Supreme.

Hold the phone.  I have one of those.

And it works.

Fabulously, really.

One of the reasons yogurt makers work so well is that they can (or are supposed to) hold the culturing milk at a steady, correct temperature, usually somewhere between 105 F and 113 F, ensuring that the yogurt doesn’t get too hot or too cold so the happy, beneficial little bacteria have the perfect environment to become fruitful and multiply.  Holding food at a steady temperature for hours is what a sous vide is designed to do, making it the perfect appliance for making yogurt.

Now, if you look at many homemade yogurt recipes, you’re going to find that some use just milk and a starter culture – usually yogurt, either store-bought or from a previous batch – while some include things like powdered milk and/or heavy cream.  The purpose of these additions is to thicken it; yogurt made with just milk tends to be a little on the runny side.  While I don’t have a real big problem with powdered milk per se (there is some concern about the process oxidizing the cholesterol, which is A Bad Thing), I’m not real crazy about the taste, and decided to use a combination of whole, vat-pasteurized, non-homogenized milk from a local dairy that grass feeds their cows, and organic, vat-pasteurized heavy cream.

The results are nothing short of delicious.  While still not as quite as thick as popular commercial yogurts, it is incredibly creamy, fresh and tangy.

A candy thermometer – one of those glass ones that clip to the side of the pan – makes the job much, much easier.

Homemade Yogurt
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
Instructions
  1. Fill 3 sterilized pint Ball jars 3/4 full with water, and set them in the empty sous vide. Fill the sous vide with water until it reaches the bottom of the necks of the jars. Remove the jars, pour out the water and wipe them dry with a clean cloth.
  2. Plug in the sous vide and set the temperature for 107 F. Cover with the lid.
  3. While the sous vide is coming to temp, combine the milk and cream in a large, heavy saucepan. Over low heat, slowly bring the milk/cream mixture to 180 F; this should take at least 15 to 20 minutes – if heated too quickly, the yogurt may turn out lumpy with a “grainy” texture. Remove from the heat and allow the milk/cream mixture to cool to 110 F.
  4. Whisk in the yogurt and pour the mixture into the jars, dividing it equally between the 3. Cap the jars and place them in the sous vide for 4 to 5 hours, or until the yogurt has thickened.
  5. Allow the yogurt to cool on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour, then refrigerate – it will continue to thicken as it becomes cold.
  6. Eat within a week.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 162 calories, 14.1g total fat, 50.3mg cholesterol, 54.7mg sodium, 156.5mg potassium, 5.6g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 5.1g sugar, 3.8g protein

 

Of course, if you don’t have a Sous Vide Supreme, you can choose any of the other methods listed above with good results.

And what can you do with this wonderful, rich, creamy and delicious yogurt?  Just about anything you want, really.  I’ve used it to cook with, eaten it straight out of the jar (something I never did with plain store-bought yogurt – blech) and made this lovely, filling breakfast.  Which would also make a damn fine dessert.

Banana-Berry Yogurt Parfait.  Delicious, healthy and filling, this makes a great quick breakfast or dessert.

Banana-Berry Yogurt Parfait
Serves: 1
[i]Gently heating the honey will help it mix into the cold yogurt completely.[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup Homemade Yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/2 medium banana, sliced
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, thawed
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and yogurt. Layer the sweetened yogurt in a tall parfait or dessert dish alternately with the berries and bananas.
  2. Serve immediately.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 275 calories, 14.4g total fat, 50.3mg cholesterol, 57.8mg sodium, 534.9mg potassium, 34.9g carbohydrates, 3.9g fiber, 23.1g sugar, 4.9g protein

 

Honey-Mint Roast Chicken

We had both The Young One and The G Man last weekend, which meant lots of fun – lots of exhausting, non-stop fun.

My coup of the weekend was getting The G Man, whose idea of breakfast runs the gamut from oatmeal to pancakes (and little else), to eat bacon.  I can’t really take credit for that, though; it seems the boy has decided his uncle is the epitome of cool, and if The Young One was eating bacon, G was going to have some as well.

Scrambled eggs and liver are so on the menu the next time I’ve got both of them in my clutches.

At any rate, most of what I made over the weekend was pretty kid-friendly, including this delicious and easy chicken dish which was nommed with much enthusiasm (by my Big Boys, at least, since The G Man had already gone home).  The leftovers reheat well, too, but not in the microwave, or the skin will turn rubbery.

In the summer, this would be good on the grill.  You could also make it with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes.

Honey-Mint Roast Chicken. Juicy chicken with crispy, mint-and-honey flavored skin, this is a wonderful week-night family main course.

Click the image to enlarge

Honey-Mint Roast Chicken
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds chicken pieces (legs, wings, thighs)
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking dish with aluminum foil.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper; lay on the foil-lined pan and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, water, mint and zest. Brush the mixture on the chicken, coating the pieces completely.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes, basting the chicken with the drippings in the pan every 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when pricked with the tines of a fork.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 368 calories, 14.9g total fat, 127.6mg cholesterol, 162.9mg sodium, 399mg potassium, 17.7g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 17.3g sugar, 39.7g protein