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Friday, August 23, 2013

A note about Kosher Salt

I wanted to say that I used Diamond Kosher salt for my recipes.  I tried Morton's Kosher salt once and it totally ruined my recipe, it was pizza.  :(

It is much more concentrated than Diamond Kosher salt and will mess up the measurements in recipes that call for kosher salt.

My mother made the bagel recipe from the blog and it was too salty.  It reminded me that what brand of kosher salt makes a difference in my recipes.

Experiment #47: Tabbouleh

My husband just love tabbouleh so he is my taste tester for the perfect tabbouleh.  He likes it with lots of parsley and very lemony and this recipe is from several iterations for the perfect balance of flavor.

I had not made tabbouleh in a while, so at the beginning of the week I started with a recipe from the back of a Trader Joe's Organic Bulgur Wheat box that I have had for many many years.  While making the recipe, I realized that the amount of bulgur wheat was twice as much as we wanted.  I only used half the bulgur for the recipe and then there was not enough dressing for the tabbouleh.

Tonight I started with half the bulgur and the same amount of dressing and the results were just perfect.

Tabbouleh adapted from Trader Joe's recipe off organic bulgur wheat box
1/2 cup bulgur wheat
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic cloves minced
2 bunches of curley parsley, chopped
4 green onions, minced
1/2 english cucumber, sliced and roughly diced

Place bulgur wheat and salt in a bowl and cover with boiling water and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  Pour over lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic over the bulgur and then allow to rest for 2 to 3 hours.

Pick the leaves off of 2 bunches of parsley and chop.  I used a food processor for this process as chopping that much parsley by hand is tedious.

Add parsley, green onions and cucumber to bulgur wheat and serve.

Results:
I would definitely make this recipe again.  The fresh taste, light oniony flavor, bright lemony tartness and crisp cucumber is a winning combination.  Yum!

Update 8/30/13:
I made this recipe with an addition of 1 cup of chopped tomatoes from our garden.  They added a delicious sweetness, because they were perfectly ripe and I would definitely make it again with tomatoes if I have them next time.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Experiment #46: Chickpea Brown Rice Patties with Lemon Tahini Sauce

I have been on the look out for an easy delicious veggie burger since my husband challenged me to cook more vegetarian.

I found a recipe on the whole living website for a Chickpea Brown Rice Veggie Burger.  I used this as a base for my veggie burger, but of course I needed to tweak it a bit.  I read from the reviews on the website that the instructions for mashing the beans and the brown rice together was not terribly easy, so I used a food processor to mix it up.  From this start, I added green onions, garlic, chopped baby greens, cumin and a pinch of cayenne.

I used a 3 inch ring mold that I had in my kitchen baking drawer and pressed the mixture into patties.  The first time, I pressed a little too lightly.  I was afraid of making dense brick like veggie burgers, but the burgers fell apart a bit in the pan.

The second time, I made the patties a little bigger and pressed a bit firmer and the veggie burgers were perfect.

I have made this recipe twice so far.  The first time our family enjoyed it with tzatziki sauce and the second time, I wanted a vegan option and had the idea that a tahini lemon dressing or sauce would be delicious.

There is a restaurant in town, Santa Cruz that serves their lamb burger with shredded carrots.  I really enjoyed it and thought that shredded carrots would really add delicious sweetness and beautiful color.

Keep an eye out for my tabbouleh recipe, coming soon which goes excellent with these veggie burgers.

Chickpea Brown Rice Veggie Burger adapted from Whole Living website
1 - 15oz. can drained and rinsed garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas)
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 green onions, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped baby greens (kale, spinach, chard)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
Olive oil

In a food processor, add garbanzo beans and brown rice and pulse the mixture until it is coarsely chopped.  You should still see bits of garbanzo beans and rice.  It should not be mashed beans.



Place the garbanzo bean and rice mixture a large bowl and add green onions, garlic, baby greens, cumin, kosher salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.  Gently mix the ingredients together until thoroughly combined.

Press the mixture into patties firmly but not too hard.  I used a 3 inch ring mold.  It made 5.

Heat olive oil over medium low heat in a large frying pan.  Place patties in the pan and cook until the first side is lightly browned about 4 minutes.  Flip patties over and cook on the second side until browned.  For the last minute, cover the pan so that the burgers are heated through.

Enjoy topped with shredded carrots and your choice of sauce. It's great with lemon tahini sauce and also delicious with tzatziki sauce.

Lemon Tahini sauce adapted from Mollie Katzen's The New Moosewood Cookbook
6 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove minced
6 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper

Mix all sauce ingredients together.  I used a fork.  She says you can adjust to your desired thickness by adding more water.

Ok. This recipe is not vegan if you make the tzatziki sauce.  Obviously. :)
Tzatziki sauce: (from my memory) [from a past food experiment]
1 cup greek yogurt or plain yogurt
2 garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cucumber, finely diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
salt and pepper, to taste

I made tzatziki sauce a while back and this is what I remembered.
For tzatziki sauce, it is pretty simple, but I wanted to try something my Mom had told me once a while ago. She makes her own yogurt and she makes greek yogurt from her homemade yogurt by straining it, and so this morning I decided to give it a try. I had some Whole Milk Organic Plain Yogurt from Trader Joe's and I left it in a coffee filter in the fridge covered with plastic wrap for a few hours, and it worked!  Who knew greek style yogurt could me made so easy?  I love the thick creaminess of Greek yogurt, but my favorite greek yogurt brand, Fage is not organic.  Now I can make it myself!
(For pictures of how to strain the yogurt, follow the link below.)

Link to original recipe:
http://www.wholeliving.com/151406/chickpea-brown-rice-veggie-burger?search_key=veggie%20burger

Link to original Tahini Lemon sauce:
http://www.molliekatzen.com/recipes/recipe.php?recipe=tahini_lemon_sauce

Link to tzaziki sauce:
http://samanthaexperimentswithfood.blogspot.com/2013/05/grilled-lamb-with-tzatziki-in-flatbread.html

Friday, August 9, 2013

Experiment #45: Tandoori Chicken

I was in need of another chicken recipe in my regular dinner rotation and was thinking of making tandoori chicken.  I searched for recipes online and found two recipes that looked interesting.

Tandoori chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices and than traditionally cooked in a tandoor oven.  These recipes have options to either grill or bake the chicken in the oven, which is more accessible for the home cook.

The recipe is mostly based on the recipe from the Home Cooking website, with some additions for Aarti Sequiera's recipe on the Food Network.

I used boneless skinless chicken thighs for great flavor and fast easy cooking.  The Home Cooking recipe had a lot of salt in the marinade and I thought that it might be due to that fact they use a whole chicken cut up into pieces.  So, I reduced the salt in the recipe.  The marinade from the Home Cooking looked kind of pale in color, so I added smoked paprika and turmeric which was in Aarti Sequiera's recipe.

I had some lime yogurt sauce left over from last night and I thought I would enjoy it on this chicken.

Tandoori Chicken 
1/2 cup whole fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 or 2 lemons depending how juicy your lemons are)
1 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander (I crushed whole coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I crushed cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
I used 2 packages of boneless skinless chicken thighs about 3 lbs.
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Slices of cucumber, red onion, tomato and lemon for garnish

Yogurt Lime Sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt, strained or greek yogurt
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime

Prick the flesh of the chicken all over with a knife to allow the marinade the marinade to penetrate.  Place the chicken in a nonreactive large shallow dish.

In a nonreactive bowl (I used the pyrex measuring cup that I measured the yogurt in), combine the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cloves, smoked paprika, turmeric, black pepper and salt. Stir until well mixed and then pour the mixture over the chicken and rub into the flesh, turning the chicken several times.  Cover and refrigerate the chicken for 8 hours or overnight.  (Remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Heat the grill to medium for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure that grill is clean so that the chicken does not stick.

Place chicken on the grill and cook with the lid down for 10 minutes.  Flip the chicken over and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until the chicken registers 160 F on an instant read thermometer.

Remove the chicken to a platter and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Mix together yogurt, lime zest, and lime juice.

Serve with slices of cucumber, red onion, tomato, lemon, chopped cilantro and lime yogurt sauce.

Results:
The Tandoori chicken was tender and succulent and very flavorful. The color of the paprika and turmeric made the chicken look very appealing.  We enjoyed this chicken with brown rice and some warm naan bread.  I was a bit afraid that it might be too spicy for my little one, from the cayenne pepper, but he really enjoyed it.  I would definitely make this recipe again.

Need to strain your yogurt:
Check out the following link to my recipe for Lamb with Tzatziki in Flatbread
http://samanthaexperimentswithfood.blogspot.com/2013/05/grilled-lamb-with-tzatziki-in-flatbread.html

Link to original recipes:
Home Cooking Tandoori Chicken
http://homecooking.about.com/od/chickenrecipes/r/blchicken2.htm

Aarti Sequeira Tandoori Chicken Recipe
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aarti-sequeira/tandoori-chicken-recipe/index.html

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dinner Notes: Fish Tacos

I thought I would give you an easy dinner idea if you are in need like I was of a fresh idea.

I made fish tacos with lime yogurt sauce.  Here's how it stacked up:

I started with a warmed corn tortilla and topped with Panko breaded Tilapia from Trader Joe's frozen section.  Instead of the usual cabbage slaw on tacos, I used chiffonade of kale. This year's summer tomatoes are delightful and I used a beautiful Brandywine heirloom tomato chopped up.  A bit of chopped cilantro and then a lime yogurt dipping sauce I made up.

How to build the taco (Bottom up):
Corn Tortilla
A few slices of Panko Breaded Tilapia
Chiffonade of Kale
Diced tomato
Chopped Cilantro
Avocado slices
Lime Yogurt sauce

Lime Yogurt sauce 
1 cup of Organic Whole fat Yogurt (strained or use greek yogurt instead)
1 teaspoon Lime Zest
Juice of 1/2 lime

Mix together..  It's delicious!

Need to Strain your Yogurt?
Click on the following link. It's in my grilled lamb with tzatziki sauce recipe:
http://samanthaexperimentswithfood.blogspot.com/2013/05/grilled-lamb-with-tzatziki-in-flatbread.html

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Experiment #44: Coconut Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

I have been having more of my cookie cravings.  It's been a week since I really wanted a cookie and so I decided that I wanted to attempt to make my dream cookie.

While I was pregnant with my little one, I ate this oatmeal pecan cookie at a local coffee shop.  I loved it.  It was delicious and really hit the spot for my sweet tooth.  I don't often get back to that coffee shop since my LO was born, so I am missing my cookies.

I wanted to make an oatmeal pecan cookie with coconut oil and decided to try to search for one online.  I stumbled upon a blog with a coconut oatmeal cookie.  Intrigued, I read further.  The cookies look great and of course I needed to work my magic and add more whole grains, reduce the sugar, replaced quick oats with regular oats that were processed in the food processor and this time I left out the baking powder and baking soda.

This last adaptation came from a mistake on my part while making cornbread waffles a few months ago.  I was busy taking care of my LO that I completely forgot to put in the baking soda and baking powder.  The resulting waffles were delightfully chewy and the family loved them better than the waffles I make the normal way.  How's that for stumbling onto a recipe.  A busy mind makes mistakes worth repeating?  :)

Anyway, here is my recipe for Oatmeal Coconut Pecan Cookies adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod blog

Oatmeal Coconut Pecan Cookies
1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup coconut oil (measured solid), melted and slightly cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup pulsed old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, coconut oil and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.  Switch to mixing with a spoon and then slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  The mixture gets pretty thick at this point and you might want to get in there and mix with clean hands.  Stir in oatmeal, coconut and pecans.

Press the dough into balls and flatten slightly and place on prepared baking sheet.  The dough is rather crumbly and difficult.  (I think this is from my adaptations, but c'est la vie.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until the cookies are set and slightly brown.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Fresh out of the oven!

The results:
The cookies were delicious and crumbly and we loved them.  It was not exactly what I was searching for in my dream cookie.  I will have to work on it to get it to where I want it, but this attempt was an excellent start.  I would definitely make these cookies again.  

I was surprised at how sweet these cookies were considering that I used less than half the original recipe's sugar.  I am wondering if the coconut oil is sweet and this sent my cookies a bit overly sweet for my taste.  I would reduce the sugar slightly and they would be perfect for me, but of course I like most of my treats less sweet than most.

Link to the original recipe:
http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/chewy-coconut-oatmeal-cookies/

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Experiment #43: Apricot Mustard Glazed Pork Tenderloin

I had every intention of cooking fish today, but the guy at the meat counter said it didn't smell good and thankfully he let me know.  So my plans changed to some other protein that is fast cooking, pork tenderloin.

I was planning on making some sort of pork medallions, but then I thought it might be a bit too fussy for a weekday.  I have previously made a recipe from Martha Stewart which is Pork tenderloin with apricots and brandy and thought that I would be making this recipe, but I totally forgot to purchase shallots.. Oops..

I stumbled upon a recipe on the Martha Stewart website that is supposed to be ready in under 30 minutes and off I went.

The recipe looked easy enough.  It only has 5 ingredients.

The recipe calls for spicy brown mustard, and I substituted what I had on hand, which was Chablis Dijon mustard.  The recipe also called for apricot jam, but I had organic reduced sugar apricot preserves on hand.

Apricot Mustard Glazed Pork Tenderloin adapted from Apricot glazed Pork tenderloin from Martha Stewart web-site
2 pork tenderloins
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup chablis dijon mustard

Heat broiler, set rack 6 inches away from the broiler. Place pork tenderloins in a baking dish and rub pork with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place the pork under the broiler for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, whisk together apricot preserves and mustard.  Cook over medium heat until the jam melts, 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer half to a bowl for brushing and leave the rest of the sauce on low to keep warm.

I flipped the pork tenderloins over and brushed the reserved sauce from a bowl all over the pork tenderloin.

Place back under the broiler and cook until the pork is blackened in spots and it registers 150 degrees on an instant read thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes more.
Cover pork loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.  Serve with warmed sauce.


The results:
I served the pork with quinoa and steamed rainbow chard.  It was really a delicious meal!  I would definitely make this recipe again.  The whole meal came together quite fast.  I love it!

Notes:
The chablis dijon mustard might have made this recipe over the top.  As the sauce was heating, I almost felt that I was getting drunk off the wine fumes coming off the mustard.  It could have been my imagination, but if you don't have this special dijon mustard, I think a splash of white wine would make a good substitute.

Link to original recipe:
http://www.marthastewart.com/313041/apricot-glazed-pork-tenderloin?search_key=apricot%20pork%20tenderloin