Wednesday, October 26, 2016

No-Mayo Cole Slaw

When I was offered a review copy of Scratch by Maria Rodale. I was wondering what sort of book it would be. The Rodale name is associated with healthy foods, and sometimes I feel like they're maybe just a tiny little too healthy.

I mean, I think I eat well. But I also like to indulge once in a while. I'm not afraid of white flour or white rice.

So when I started reading the book, the author pointed out that this wasn't a diet book. There would be gluten and sugar and desserts stuff.

So, okay. It's not a diet book. That's good to know.

It's also not a junk food book. The recipes are from scratch, with real ingredients. Which, to be honest, is how I like to cook. Yeah, I cheat sometimes. Sometimes I buy frozen vegetables or bagged salad. But I like buying from the farmer's market and chopping fresh vegetables.

The first recipe I bookmarked was called Syrian Salad and it was similar to a Greek salad, which is something I love. Then I found a cole slaw recipe, minestrone soup, and oyster crackers. (Ooooh ... oyster crackers!) Those were just the ones on the short list. There were a ton of other recipes I could have made.

The recipes in the book are pretty straightforward. They use common ingredients. Recipes you can actually make, as-is, and without ordering ingredients online.

I decided to make the cole slaw, because I thought it would go well with the other things I was making for dinner. And cole slaw is something you can eat right after you make it, but it also tends to improve with a little bit of age. So it didn't matter that this made quite a bit of cole slaw.

The recipe suggested slicing the vegetables on a mandoline, but I had just sharpened my knives, so I wanted to play with my shiny sharp knives.

No-Mayo Cole Slaw
Adapted from Scratch by Maria Rodale

For the dressing:
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar, or to taste (I used 4 tablespoon. I might try 3 next time because I like tart stuff)
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used 1/2 teaspoon celery salt and no seeds)

For the salad:
1 head of cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced

To make the dressing:
Combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add the oil, celery seeds, and salt and set aside to cool while you slice the vegetables.

To make the salad:
Combine the cabbage, onion, and bell pepper in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss to coat.

This cole slaw was good right after I made it, but I think I liked it better after a day or two, since that mellowed the onions a bit.

I received this book from the publisher at no cost to me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Chili, Four Ways

Four servings of chili, all a little different, cooked at the same time. Ideal for families where people have allergies, preferences, or tastes.So, what do you do if you need to cook for people who have different likes and dislikes that simply aren't compatible?

What if you want to make a batch of chili and one person won't eat meat, one can't have dairy, and another can't have gluten?

Or maybe it's different levels of spice. Sure, you can add the heat at the end, but that's not the same as when you cook the peppers right into the chili.

Well, that's not my house, but I thought it could be a fun experiment to make a bunch of different chilis all at the same time. And the nice folks at Brod & Taylor made it easy for me when they sent me their latest folding proofer.

A proofer, if you don't know it, is a warm, cozy place where you set your bowl of bread dough to let it rise. Or you put the formed bread in there for a final rise before baking. And there's a little tray included that fits under the rack so you can add water to proof dough in a moist environment.

Folding proofer

The "folding" part refers to the fact that the proofer folds down flat for storage.

Folding proofer

I reviewed one of their previous proofers, but this one has a nifty new function - it has precise temperature control so you can use it as a slow cooker. You can also use it for making yogurt or creme fraiche. Or for cooking sous vide ... the water in your pot wouldn't circulate, but you could keep it at a nice even temperature.

I don't mean that you can dump food right into the proofer. That would be really messy. But you can put food into a pot and put the pot into the proofer and set a temperature and let it cook. Or put your yogurt in jars. Or put whatever food into whatever container it is you want to use.

Folding Proofer.

In my case, I made 4 little pots of chili - each one just about a cup. The pots I used are made from cast iron and hold about a cup, but of course you could use larger little pots. Or little ceramic dutch ovens. Or little ramekins. As long as the containers are heatproof, you're good to go. You should have a lid, but foil would be fine on a ramekin.

Four servings of chili, all a little different, cooked at the same time. Ideal for families where people have allergies, preferences, or tastes.

Here's how it went.

4-Way Chili

Four servings of chili, all a little different, cooked at the same time. Ideal for families where people have allergies, preferences, or tastes.1/2 medium onion, diced
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 boneless, skinless chicken thigh, diced
1 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons small pasta (I used small shells)
4 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
Tomato juice (as needed, about a cup)
1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)

Line up four 1-cup cast iron dutch ovens with covers. Or you could use 1-cup ramekins and cover with foil for baking.

Fill as follows:

Vegan Chili

1/4 of the chopped onion
1/2 of the beans
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon olive oil

Everything but Gluten Chili

Four servings of chili, all a little different, cooked at the same time. Ideal for families where people have allergies, preferences, or tastes.1/4 of the diced onion
1/4 of the beans
1/4 of the chicken
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoon shredded cheese

Dairy Free Chili Mac

1/4 of the diced onion
1/4 of the beans
1/4 of the chicken
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch of salt
1 generous tablespoon small pasta

Meaty Bean-Free Chili

1/4 of the onion
1/2 of the chicken
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch of salt
1 generous tablespoon small pasta
2 tablespoons shredded cheese

These are just suggestions on how to fill them. You can put cheese on all of them, pasta in none of them, use beef instead of chicken, or go crazy with hot peppers. The point here is that you can make different chilis depending on what people like, or don't.

As you're filling the pots, try to make them relatively evenly filled compared to each other.

Fill each pot with tomato sauce until they're almost full. There will be some simmering, so if you overfill, there will some spillage. Cover the pots.

Place the pots in the proofer set to 195 degrees. That's a nice simmer, but below boiling.

The temperate in the proofer is the temperature of the items in the proofer, not the air temperature, as is the case with your oven. That's something to keep in mind if you're using the proofer for cooking.

For actual proofing, there's a rack that you set the bowl of dough on. For slow cooking, the pots don't use the rack. If I was making a large pot of chili, I'd probably put heat the pot on the stove to a simmer, then put it in the proofer for a long, slow cook. The small pots heated through pretty quickly, though, and then they started simmering just a little bit. Perfect.

Yes, you can make this in your oven. I didn't try it, but I'd suggest 325 degrees and just check it until the chicken is done.

The proofer doesn't have a timer, so I set a timer for 2 hours and walked away. I checked the chilis a couple times during the cooking time and decided they were done after 1 hour, 45 minutes. The ones without the pasta could have happily cooked longer, but I thought the chili mac was definitely done.

These can be topped with more cheese, sour cream, avocado, jalapenos, or anything else you like. Serve hot.

I received the proofer from Brod & Taylor at no cost to me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hummus Bread - Lemon and Pepper

A while back, I visited Hope Hummus and saw how they made hummus. It's a small company, and local. That's something I love. At that visit, I got samples of their hummus and their guacamole. Which I ate. Because it was good.

Recently, I got some coupons for their products, and went hunting for the guacamole. Yeah, I can make guac, but avocados are difficult. Usually they're not quite ripe at the store, so they need to sit around for a while. They're ripe for a couple seconds, then they're overripe.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it seems like you have to use the avocados when they're ready for you, rather than having avocados on hand for when you need them.

But ... I couldn't find the guacamole, and the coupons were burning a hole in my wallet, so I bought hummus. Hey, I like hummus, too.

And then I starting thinking about it. Scooping hummus with a pita chip is great, but I wanted to cook with it. The next thing I knew, I was planning on putting in into bread. I knew it would work. I've used alternative flours, potatoes and potato flakes, peanut butter ... so hummus wasn't a stretch.

I decided to use the hummus flavored with lemon and pepper. It added a pretty yellow color to the bread, and gave it a nice, soft texture. But pretty much any flavor hummus you have should be fine. The Sriracha one might be interesting.

I decided to make it in my bread machine, but of course you can knead by hand or machine and then form and bake in an oven.

Lemon and Pepper Hummus Bread

1 cup water
2 1/4 teaspoons Red Star active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
13 1/2 ounces (3 cups) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4  cup Hope Lemon Pepper Hummus

Add all the ingredients to your bread machine and press buttons as appropriate (hey, I don't know what options your machine has, but a basic loaf with a medium crust is what I'd suggest.)

When the bread is baked, remove it from the machine, remove from the pan, and let cool on a rack until it's completely cooled before slicing or storing.