Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chocolate Strawberry Tart (Gluten Free)

Here's a delicious summer dessert that also doubles as a great use for those strawberries you pick at the farm!

Ingredients for crust:

-2 1/2 cups of sweetened, desiccated coconut
-1/4 cup of Dutch process cocoa powder
-1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine the cocoa and coconut in a food processor. Blend until fine. Slowly drizzle in the coconut oil until you've got a nice thick consistency. Press into a pie plate. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, until it smells toasty, but not burned! Set aside and cool.

Ingredients for filling:

-10 ounces of heavy cream
-5 ounces of bittersweet (60% cocoa) chocolate
-8 ounces of semi sweet chocolate
-1 tsp vanilla, or of a rich liquor (like Kahlua or Creme de Cacao)
-16 strawberries of similar size, green parts discarded, washed and dried completely

Chop the chocolate and put it in a bowl.

Place the cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until it begins to bubble, then pour over your chocolate. Let it sit for about 2 minutes before stirring it together gently with a spatula until evenly blended. Stir in your vanilla or liquor. Pour into the pie crust.

Finally, press the strawberries into your tart. Place it in the fridge for about 2 hours, or until the ganache is firm. Before serving, set it out for about 30 minutes, to soften the coconut oil in the crust and make it easier to cut.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Homemade General Tso's

A favorite Chinese food takeout dish...I set out to discover whether or not it was possible to create this delicious food without MSG (or any other mysterious ingredients) in a home kitchen. After a few tries, I believe I have been successful! It also has this richness which the normal stuff just cannot match.

Serve it with some delicious Botan rice(and maybe a vegetable or two) and there you have it!

Ingredients for sauce:

1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh minced garlic
3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup sweet white wine or sake

1  cup hot broth or stock
1-2 tsp chili pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 tsp. Sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/4 cup cornstarch, blended with 1/4 cup water
Chopped scallions (optional)

Ingredients for chicken:

2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, excess fat removed, cut into bite-sized chunks (can use steak tips or pork for this, too)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (it's packed full of umami flavor! Don't skip)
1 egg
1/2 cup cornstarch

Vegetable or canola oil (for frying)

Blend the sauce ingredients together, except the cornstarch mixture--keep that separate. Set aside.

Blend your meat ingredients together until fully coated and set aside. Heat about 1/5-2 inches of oil in a pot or high-sided pan over medium-high heat (the deeper the oil, the faster the cook time). Be sure the temperature rises to 375F with a kitchen thermometer. Don't let it get any hotter! 

Begin to add your chicken to the oil in batches, being careful that the pieces don't stick together. Each batch should hold about 6-9 chicken pieces, depending on the size of your pot. Once you add them in, check your thermometer. The temperature will have dropped to about 325-350F. Raise the temperature carefully back up to 375 while the batch is cooking. Once the pieces are a deep, golden brown (about 3-5 minutes), drain on a pan covered in paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. 

Once all of the meat is cooked, take your pot of hot oil off of the heat to cool down. Then, preheat a wok or non-stick pan to medium-high. Pour in your sauce and bring it to a simmer. Pour in about half of your cornstarch mixture and cook down until it begins to thicken. If you want it thicker, add the rest of your cornstarch mixture. Once you've got a thick, but still pour-able, sauce, add your fried chicken into the wok and toss. Sprinkle in chopped scallions to garnish.

Serve with rice and (maybe) some broccoli!

(My version with beef)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Kale Salad with Spiced, Roasted Chickpeas and Caesar Dressing

 Looking for a new, interesting salad for this summer? Are you always finding yourself disappointed by soggy lettuce and are afraid to bring a salad to a summer picnic? Well, fear no more...

I have been enjoying sauteed kale for the past year or so, usually with lemon and garlic. It was only recently that I discovered kale is much more sturdy, and much less disappointingly soggy, than lettuce, and that it can be tamed to taste like lettuce in a salad (not crunchy and chewy, like you'd think). The trick is to "marinate" the kale and be sure to cut it properly.

The chickpeas are almost like a crouton, but they are bread-free and a little something different.

Ingredients for Chickpeas:
- 1 can chickpeas, strained, husks removed (press on each one with your thumb), and patted dry
-1 tbsp. olive oil
-1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
-1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
-1/4 tsp. garlic powder
-1/4 tsp. onion powder
-1/4 tsp. ground coriander
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine chickpeas with all other ingredients. Removing the husks is optional, but it will result in a crispier final product.

Place on a baking sheet covered with foil or parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned, toasty, and crispy, shaking the pan every once in a while. While those are cooking away...

Ingredients for Caesar dressing:
-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-2 tbsp. olive oil
-1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 garlic clove, grated
-1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
-1/2 tsp. white vinegar
-1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
-1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
-ground black pepper

Combine ingredients. Add salt to taste. Let sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature to allow the garlic to infuse. And lastly,

Ingredients for salad:
-1 large bowl of kale leaves, thick stems removed, chopped into bite-sized pieces (do not neglect this part)
-1 lemon
-olive oil
-1 medium carrot, shaved into thin strips

Once you have your bowl of kale lettuce all prepped--NO STEMS ALLOWED!--drizzle over the juice of half of the lemon, a couple of teaspoons' worth of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt. Toss until well coated and set aside until your chickpeas are cooled completely and you are ready to serve (kale will last overnight in the fridge like this, too (unlike lettuce or spinach!). The lemon breaks down some of the fibrous quality of the kale, and makes it super tender). 

When ready to serve, shave over the carrot. Toss in the amount of dressing you like, and serve with grated Parmesan and the chickpeas on top.