Saturday, May 31, 2008

Grill Pan for a Burger



Woo hoo. I finally got the Bar and Grill open for business. (For those of you not in the know, that means I got the screened in patio ready for the season.) You can expect a ton of grill and barbecue recipes, because I live on the grill in the summer. When I make burgers, I make onions, mushrooms and peppers to go on top of them. I toss the veggies in oil, add salt and pepper and then cook them along side my burger in a grill pan. Today's burger was a hamburger with Swiss, topped with onions, pepper, and mushroom served on a homemade part whole wheat rye bun. (I'm still working on the rye recipe.) Hamburgers are 4 1/2 -5 minutes per side for medium and 5-6 minutes per side for well done. Medium is relatively safe if you ground your own meat. If you got your hamburger from a store, then well done it is.
*I lied. The FDA says you can eat ground meat at 160.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Milk from Sterling

Go _____? Sisters... anyone...what was Sterling's mascot? I know they were Blue and White. But I digress. I was in Dan's Supervalue North today and they were handing out samples of milk from Sterling, N.D. A.K.A. Bessy's Best. There were samples and a schpeal and I was interested, but in a hurry. (Lost season finally tonight. *spoiler alert* Bus driver...Move! That! Island!) I looked on the web and they make and bottle fresh whole milk. Nothing added, nothing taken away. If you have toddlers, you should be extra excited. There is some kind of stuff (that's the technical term) in grass fed whole milk that makes it especially good for toddlers. I don't whether the cows are grass fed or not, but I'd put my money on grass fed if I were a betting woman. If you want to know for sure or have any other questions, there is an e-mail address in the above link. Had I been thinking ahead this would have been great to make ice cream out of and homemade yogurt to make into frozen yogurt. Next time...
Here is an article from KX 12
Hey Lora- Did you find an article on grass fed milk and beef and stuff that is really long and you have no idea whether or not it's reliable? I Sure did. Click here.
Another Lost spoiler alert. Hey why are you putting all that metal in that thingy? Blerk...Blerk...Blerk....Blerk....(storm alert). Hey I sure wish we could get rid of 200 lbs from this helicopter. Blerk...Blerk...Blerk...Blerk... There was another well timed one too, but I can't remember it now. Each announcement went on forever and I don't know why they have to read them to you when they are scrolling across the screen. I heard the blerks. I can read them myself. Erg!

Strawberry (or Peach or Pineapple)Yogurt Smoothie



You can also make smoothies from blueberries, peaches, blackberries (I usually use frozen berries), mixed berries, or peaches.

STRAWBERRY YOGURT SMOOTHIE

yield two smoothies (or one if you want a big breakfast)

INGREDIENTS

4 strawberries

1/2 banana

1 C plain yogurt

2 tsp sugar or to taste

1 T flax seeds (ground)(optional)

a few fresh mint leaves (optional)

a drop of vanilla extract (optional)

Combine all ingredients either in a blender (add a few ice cubes) or blend with an immersion blender (no ice cubes). If you make this with an immersion blender, add a few ice cubes to the glass you serve it in. You can store the extra smoothie in the refrigerator and have it for breakfast tomorrow. You can put the extra 1/2 banana in the freezer.

PEACH SMOOTHIE

Substitute 1/2 peach or nectarine for the strawberries. The nectarines were small today, so I used a whole one. I also really like mint leaves in my peach smoothie.


Pineapple Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

1/2 c pineapple

1/2 a banana

1 c plain yogurt

1 T flax seed

1 T coconut

1 tsp sugar

Combine all ingredients either in a blender (add a few ice cubes) or blend with an immersion blender (no ice cubes). If you make this with an immersion blender, add a few ice cubes to the glass you serve it in. You can store the extra smoothie in the refrigerator and have it for breakfast tomorrow. You can put the extra 1/2 banana in the freezer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Are green, red, yellow peppers the same plant?

Here is the answer I found at world's healthiest foods:
Most of the differences in bell pepper color stem from
(1) time of harvest and
(2) degree of ripening.
Green peppers are bell peppers that have been harvested before being allowed to fully ripen. Although green peppers usually pass through a color stage of yellow-orange before turning a shade of red, they don't always. Red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are always more ripe than green ones. Bottom line: all of the bell peppers originate from the same species of plant, and they achieve their different colors naturally, not by any artificial means.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

freezer tip for hamburger or veggie puree

I found this post via tastespotting (a blog with gorgeous pictures from other blogs, a must see for foodies). In the post they have a method for freezing hamburger that I've never seen before. The hamburger is flattened down in a gallon freezer bag and then a chopstick is pressed down on the plastic to divide the bag into 9 portions. (see pic in link) This way you can get individual portions when you want them and roll the bag to store in the freezer if you don't have a place for flat bags in your freezer. They also suggest using this technique for rice, thick pasta sauces (should work for pesto), mashed or pureed fruits or vegetables, cookie dough, etc. The only one of those suggestions I think makes real sense is pureed or mashed fruits and veggies for single servings, to add small amounts to recipes (especially if you do the sneaking veggie puree into food strategy that is so popular now), or for baby food. Anyway, it seems like a good idea.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm not dead, I swear.

I have been cooking lately, but not posting. I made a few things that are already on my blog, but didn't have pictures. I have new pictures for whole wheat pita chips, tzatziki, and Lora's weird wheat berry salad. I'm also have been making a few things that are a work in progress. Wheat bread, a pumpernickel part whole wheat part white flour rye bread thingy, and I made strawberry smoothie (I have to figure out the right amount of sugar, I used too much.), and frozen yogurt. I've been making lots of yogurt since the homemade yogurt post. I've also made an almost recipe. I almost liked the lime-coconut milk ice cream.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Viva la boxed wine

Epicurious (a food site) has a review of boxed wines. I know they have Black Box wine at Captain Jacks (and I'm sure lots of other liqueur stores). I'm pretty sure I've seen Hardy's around somewhere, but I've never tried it. I not a wine connoisseur, but I really like Black Box wine. Box wine is also nice because you can have one glass and not pressure to hurry up and drink the rest of the bottle before it goes bad. Not really that much of a problem, but I still feel pressured. Box wine just sits in my fridge and waits until I'm ready. Incidental, Minerva's in Bismarck has 3$ Black Box wine at happy hour and awesome wood fire pizzas. You should check it out.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pasta with Fennel, Tomatoes, and Capers



I threw this together today. It's basic and easy. Kristy used to make something like this. Neither of us could remember the exact recipe. Luckily it is a recipe that you can't goof up. It's a good way to try fennel if you haven't tried it before. You can leave out the capers if you want, but I like 'em.

PASTA WITH FENNEL, TOMATOES, AND CAPERS

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb of pasta

1/2 onion, chopped

1 fennel bulb sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced width wise

1 clove garlic, crushed

olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

28 oz can tomatoes, chopped

1/2 c white wine

1/2 T capers, rough chopped

1/2 tsp sugar

1 T parsley, chopped

1 T fennel fronds, chopped (the stuff that looks like dill on the fennel bulb. Dill looks like a feathery stick like plant. You'll figure it out)


Cook the pasta as directed. While you are doing that, saute onions in olive oil with medium heat in a large skillet for (I'm guessing) one to two minutes. Add the chopped garlic. Saute 30 seconds to one minute. Add the fennel bulb, salt and red pepper. Saute until the fennel begins to cook through. I didn't time this, but this took a while, 5 minutes maybe. Add the chopped tomatoes and the juice from the can. Add the capers, white wine, and sugar. Simmer until the sauce has thickened. Approximately 15 minutes. (I did time this.) Toss with the cooked pasta and cook a minute or two. Garnish with parsley, fennel fronds, and Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How to Prepare and Eat an Artichoke

Before Kristy showed me I had no idea what to do with and artichoke and just walked right past them in the supermarket. If you like artichoke hearts, you'll like artichokes. They are time consuming, but fun to eat.

This video is "How to clean an artichoke". To sum up the video, 1. Cut off the stem. 2. Remove a few rows of outer leaves. 3. slice about an inch to inch and a half off of the top of the artichoke. 3. Use a kitchen scissors to snip off the pointy ends of the remaining leaves. Place upside down in the steamer and steam 30-40 minutes, or until a fork or sharp knife can easily be inserted into the stem.


video


The second video is "How to eat an artichoke: part one". I can't believe I'm eating this on camera. Well, someone had to show me, so I'm paying it forward. Artichokes are messy "don't eat on a first date" food. They are good and fun to eat however. I hope you people appreciate it.


video

This is "How to eat an artichoke: part two". Sorry about the lighting. My cameraman didn't tell me the lighting was so terrible. Oh wait, there was no camera man.

video

I hope you've learned how to eat an artichoke and are ready to go out and try it yourself.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bread Baking Basics






I'm not a master baker. You can probably look online and find much longer lists of rules for bread baking. I'm sure that if you follow all those rules you'll get better bread then I make. But if you just want to make a good loaf of bread, here are the rules I follow.


1. I use instant yeast (A.K.A. bread machine yeast, quick rise yeast). Regular yeast has a natural coating around it that has to dissolve before it can start working. Instant yeast doesn't have that coating. That is why you have to proof regular yeast, you want to make sure the coating is dissolved. I still proof my instant yeast because of an irrational paranoia that the yeast is dead and my bread won't rise. This won't really happen if your yeast hasn't hit the "use by" date yet. You can feel free to just add it to your bread without proofing it first. Instant yeast doesn't help make a better tasting bread, it's just easier.


2. Buy a thermometer. Your grandma could tell if the water was at the right temperature. You can't. You don't bake often enough. If the water is too hot, you'll kill the yeast and the bread won't rise. If the water isn't warm enough, the bread will take forever to rise. Thermometers take away the guess work. The water should be between 105 and 115 degrees. Slower rising bread will develop more flavor. I've seen recipes where they only heat the water to 90 degrees. I never mess with slower rising bread. I plan to someday. But, I never have the patience to wait even longer for my bread to rise.


3. Use bread flour. Or, you can use regular flour and add gluten. Gluten is what makes bread chewy and good. Wheat grown in southern climates is low in gluten and makes better biscuits. Wheat grown in northern climates has more gluten and makes better bread. If you use whole wheat flour, it will go bad more quickly then white flour. Whole wheat flour uses parts of the grain not in white flour . Those parts have oil in them, and therefore become rancid eventually. Keep whole wheat flour in the fridge or freezer to extend it's life. Make sure it is at room temperature before you try to bake. If it is cold it will bring down the temperature of your bread and either slow its rising, or kill the yeast completely.


4. Knead until your arms fall off. Unless you tend to take things to extremes, you probably won't over knead. If you have a kitchen aid mixer, you can let it do most of the kneading for you. I am barred by law from owning one, so I do all the kneading by hand. As you are probably aware, you cannot own a kitchen aid mixer unless you get married. When you get married, you legally obligated to purchase a kitchen aid mixer in a color that matches your kitchen, whether you actually want one or not. As it turns out, I actually like kneading bread, so it works out well for me. I find it relaxing. Well I find it relaxing for the first 20-30 minutes anyway. It takes me about 45 to 60 minutes to knead bread enough for it to be at the window pane state. I am not an efficient kneader. The window pane state is where you can stretch a small amount of dough enough to pull it thin enough to almost see through it. It isn't strictly necessary to knead it that much. But the closer to that state, the better. Kneading bread helps to bring gluten together with other gluten in the flour. They link together to for gluten chains. The more you knead the more gluten chains are formed and the longer the chains are. When you've kneaded a network of gluten, you'll have a bread with a nice chewy texture. Click here for an explanation about gluten.


5. Err on the sticky side. When adding flour as you're kneading, err on the side of less flour instead of more flour. Use extra caution if you are making a whole wheat loaf. 100 % Whole wheat dough starts out sticky, but will absorb more of the liquid in the dough and become less sticky after about 10 minutes.


6. Put your bread in a clear container to rise. Mark the height of the bread with a rubber band. That way you can see the bread as it rises. When it's doubled it's time to punch down the dough.






7. Knead the bread a few times after you punch it down. It helps to distribute the air pockets more evenly and helps with the bread's texture. Again, not strictly necessary, but it only takes a minute.


8. Form a nicely shaped loaf. Wonkey dough will bake into a wonkey loaf. It doesn't really hurt the bread, but it doesn't look good either.


9. Before you put your bread in the oven, make a few slits with a serrated knife in the top of the bread. This helps the bread to rise enough when it's in the oven. If you don't, the bread will stop rising when the top of the bread turns into crust and holds the bread down.


10. Brush on an egg wash. Beat a whole egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush this on the bread with a pastry brush before you put it in the oven. Egg wash doesn't really have a function as far as I know other then making the bread shiny and pretty. It really does make the bread look nice and it is worth the effort. Make sure you don't miss a spot, because you will see it if you do.


11. (optional) Let your bread rise on a pizza peel that has been covered with a layer of cornmeal. The cornmeal will help the bread slide of onto a pizza stone that you put in your oven before you preheated the oven. The hot pizza stone helps the bread rise and helps the bread form a nice crust.


12. Is the bread done? Whip out the instant read thermometer and stick in into the bottom center of the bread. You won't see the hole if you stick the thermometer in the bottom. If the thermometer reads 205-215 degrees, the bread is done. Take it out and cool on a cooling rack. If you can stand it, don't cut into the bread until it's cool, or at least rested for a half hour (I'm guessing). If you cut into the bread, the steam escapes and your bread loaf will be drier. Leave it alone. You can do it. I believe in you.


13. Home baked bread doesn't have preservatives in it and will start to go stale in a few days. If you don't plan on eating it by then, either keep it in the fridge (this will give you a few extra days) or slice it and keep it in the freezer.


If you haven't tried baking bread before, go ahead and give it a shot. As long as your water is the right temperature in the beginning, you can't mess it up too much. I promise.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Broccoli, ham, and cheese



When I was a kid, people used to joke about how much kids hated broccoli. I always thought it was strange because I absolutely loved broccoli. My love of broccoli began with this recipe. It crack me up now because the prevailing thinking now is "If your kids won't eat veggies, at least you can always fall back on broccoli. All kids like that." My mother got this recipe form a Pillsbury bake off in (probably) the late 60's or early 70's. If you want to make this recipe extra "fancy", you can add the crescent rolls. They are arranged to form a wreath shape. I very rarely use the crescent rolls, although, it does make a nice presentation. I like to use fresh broccoli and the microwave method. At our house this is a one dish meal (serves 2-3), but normal people will probably want to serve this as a side dish.



MOM'S BROCCOLI HAM AND CHEESE


Regular method:


INGREDIENTS

1 package broccoli or 1 bunch fresh

1/2 cup cut small or grated cheese (Colby or cheddar)

1/4 cup cubed ham or Canadian bacon

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 T onion, chopped fine

1 T chopped fresh parsley

1/2 tsp Mustard, I used sandwich pal, but Dijon or plain yellow also work

salt and pepper (easy on the salt because of the ham)


Cook the broccoli according to package directions. Whisk together the lemon juice and mustard. When the broccoli is cooked, mix all of the ingredients together.


"Fancy" presentation oven method.


INGREDIENTS

1 package broccoli or1 bunch fresh

1/2 cup cut small or grated cheese (Colby or cheddar)

1/4 cup cubed ham or Canadian bacon


2 Tbsp lemon juice

2-3 T chopped onion

1 T chopped fresh parsley

1/2 tsp mustard, I use sandwich pal, but Dijon or plain yellow also work

salt and pepper (easy on the salt because of the ham)


Crescent dinner rolls


Cook broccoli according to package directions. Combine lemon juice and mustard. When the broccoli is finished, combine all ingredients. Place crescent rolls on pizza pan, with the short sides of the crescent rolls pressed together forming a circle. The long points of the crescent rolls will be facing outward, like a many pointed star. Place the broccoli on the crescent rolls to form a wreath shape. Turn the points of the crescent rolls over the filling and attach them to the inside edge or the crescent roll. I don't have anything written that says how to bake it. I'd assume that you bake it according to the directions on the crescent rolls. That should work since the broccoli filling is already warm and all you need to do is bake the crescent rolls.


Microwave Method:


INGREDIENTS

1 package broccoli or1 bunch fresh

1/2 cup cut small or grated cheese (Colby or cheddar)

1/4 cup cubed ham or Canadian bacon


2 Tbsp lemon juice

2-3 T chopped onion

1 T chopped fresh parsley

1/2 tsp mustard, I use sandwich pal, but Dijon or plain yellow also work

salt and pepper (easy on the salt because of the ham)


Mix the lemon juice and mustard together in a microwave safe bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and cook in the microwave for 7or 8 minutes, checking after 5 minutes. Mix in the cheese when you think you're one minute from being done.


Keep broccoli covered when serving. Broccoli cools quickly.


*Note- all microwaves cook differently. If this is your first time making broccoli in your microwave, start checking early. My microwave is slow so your broccoli might be done much earlier.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Eat Local

For those of you who don't know, eating local ingredients is good for the environment. It takes allot of gas and causes allot of pollution to bring blueberries from South America in February. So, it is always better to eat local ingredients. I always thought that was a great idea, but I live in North Dakota and the local produce is slim when there's no farmers market. (or Gary and Sue's garden, thanks Gary and Sue) I came across this post on Rhubarb and Venison, an awesome local blog with a great name, where the author cooked an all local meal. She also has this post about eating locally in Bismarck. As I was driving home after visiting Julie last weekend I thought I would give it a try some day, maybe in August. I was tired after the drive and made boxed mac and cheese for supper. After cooking, I realized, mission accomplished.

1. Dakota Made Mac and Cheese
2. Land O' Lakes milk
3. Land O' Lakes butter

I think Land O' Lakes is still semi local. After condidering it today, Cass Clay is a better choice. The cost is the same and I don't have a taste preference between Cass Clay and Land O' Lakes. So, I'll buy Cass Clay from now on. (at least that's my plan now). As far as I can tell, Cass Clay comes from Fargo and Land O' Lakes comes from Arden Hills, Minnesota, on the Wisconson Border. I also plan to buy Dakota Made products. (flour, pasta, mac and cheese, etc.) I had mostly been doing that before anyway. But, now I plan to do it even if Dakota Made is 5 cents more when the competing product is on sale. I also get eggs at Cenex, so they're local. Someday I'll make a Local meal that's not mac and cheese.