Spiced Mango Lassi

I’m on a tight schedule this week as I head off to DC tomorrow morning for a women’s equality rally, so I perused my collection of recipes looking for something quick and easy to make, and voilà – mango lassi. I’ve written about my love of Indian food, and particularly mango lassi, before and figured I’d give it a try. This recipe results in quite a bit of spice flavor; if that’s not your thing just cut back on the spices or eliminate them entirely.

Spiced Mango Lassi

Mango Lassi

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups diced, peeled, pitted mango (about 1 to 1 1/2 fruits)
  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. For best results serve immediately, but you can also freeze this if you want to save some for later.

Source: Slightly adapted from The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild, as cited in Pioneer Press “Eat” section, 8/14/2014

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Ginger Beer

Today is the official last day of Spring Break, and the other recipe that I mentioned in a previous post is done just in time.

I attempted to make my first batch of ginger beer while living in Washington, DC in 2012. The process involved making a starter (“bug”) out of ginger, sugar, and water, and feeding it with more ginger and sugar every day until it got nice and bubbly. Somewhere along the way something went wrong, and I ended up with an odd smelling/tasting slightly gingery liquid.

Given my past experience with ginger beer, I was happy to find a much easier recipe that used yeast and was ready for consumption in about two days.

Ginger Beer

Ginger Beer 1

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and minced ginger
  • Roughly 2 quarts cold water, divided
  • 2/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp champagne yeast

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan stir together the sugar, ginger, and 4 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover the pan, and let steep for about 1 hour.
  2. Strain the liquid through a sieve. You can line it with cheesecloth or a reusable substitute to make extra sure you’re separating out the solids.
  3. Using a funnel, pour the liquid into a clean 2-liter soda bottle. Add the lime juice, and fill with cold water to about 2 inches from the top. Cool in the refrigerator or in an ice bath.
  4. Once liquid has cooled a bit add the yeast, screw the cap on tight, shake it up, and let the ginger beer sit at room temperature for 1 or 2 days. My batch was pretty carbonated after a day and a half.

You’ll have plenty of yeast left over to make additional batches of ginger beer. Experiment with adding more/less ginger, sugar, and lime juice until you’ve got something you really like.

Source: Adapted from Serious Eats

Grapefruit Honey Ginger Soda

I love long weekends and school breaks because I get some extra time to get things done. Unfortunately, I’m not always great at checking things off my to do list because I often get distracted by other things.  Having a cooking blog is a really good way to ensure that I cook at least once a week – it’s a way of holding myself accountable, especially when such distractions arise.

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which means that I get a few extra hours of free time in the morning – I’m going to brunch and to a service site with my VISTA co-hort later in the day. Tuesday is our mid-year VISTA retreat, and then we’re back to our school sites on Wednesday. I wanted to take advantage of the tiny bit of extra time I have because of the holiday and post two recipes, the first of which is below.

Grapefruit Honey Ginger Soda

Soda 1

Ingredients

  • Zest of one large pink or red grapefruit (Note: I found zesting the grapefruit to be more work than I wanted to do, so I just threw half of a juiced grapefruit, peel side down, into the pan and made sure to squeeze all the liquid out before discarding it)
  • 1 cup freshly-squeezed pink or red grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup honey, depending on how sweet you like your soda
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • Club soda, for serving

Instructions

  1. Combine grapefruit zest (or half), grapefruit juice, honey, and ginger in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil for two minutes, stirring until the honey is dissolved.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Strain through a sieve into a container and discard the solids.
  3. When you’re ready to make your soda, pour two tablespoons of syrup into an 8-ounce glass, top with club soda, and stir to mix it all together. Add more syrup if desired.

This is one of those recipes that you have to make and taste, and then make changes if you want more or less of a certain flavor. If I make this again I will probably grate the ginger because I couldn’t taste it hardly at all in the syrup.

Source: Adapted from theKitchn

Visions of Sugarplums (and Other Tasty Things) Danced in Their Heads

The holiday season is a great time to try out new recipes – many of us have some time off from work and are surrounded by family members and/or friends on which to test new creations. I’d been on the lookout for holiday recipes for a few weeks and found three that sounded great. These are all dairy-free recipes, the sugarplums are vegan and the thumbprint cookies can be made vegan if you sub something in for the honey (the original recipe used maple syrup, which I didn’t have on hand).

Sugarplums

Note: The sugarplums mentioned in the classic poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (aka “Twas the Night Before Christmas”) are very different from this more modern recipe.

Sugarplum single

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) pecans
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) dried figs
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) dried cranberries and/or dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp candied ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Topping: granulated sugar and candied ginger

Instructions

  1. Place the pecans and walnuts in a dry skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. In food processor process dates, figs, cranberries/cherries, apricots, ginger, orange zest, and cooled nuts until minced. Add enough orange juice to make it all stick together.
  3. In a smaller grinder, combine sugar and candied ginger and process until uniform in size. Transfer to a small bowl and roll sugarplums in mixture before placing on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  4. Allow the sugarplums to sit until they’re no longer sticky.

These sugarplums were a bit too tart/orange-y for me; in the future I will probably leave out the candied ginger and some of the orange zest.

Source: Slightly adapted from recipe printed in St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 12, 2013

Thumbprint Cookies

Cookies 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole walnuts (or other nut of your choice)
  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • Jams, fruit butters, etc for filling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor or blender, pulse the nuts until they are whatever size you prefer. I like the nuts in these cookies minced – I like the nutty taste but don’t want to be chewing large chunks of nut. Transfer the nuts into a large bowl.
  3. Using food processor/blender, grind the oats with the salt into a coarse meal. Transfer the oats to the bowl with the nuts, then add 1 1/4 cup of flour, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup.
  4. Pour the oil into the bowl, then add the honey. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined.
  5. Form the dough into balls about the size of a whole walnut and place on the baking sheet.
  6. Using a small measuring spoon or your thumb, make an indentation in the middle of each ball and fill with jam, fruit butter, etc. I like to taste a bit of the filling with each bite of the cookie, so I fill them accordingly.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on pan for a few minutes. Move to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from The Kitchn

Dairy-Free Eggnog

Eggnog 1

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 oz.) light coconut milk
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sweetener (your choice)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • freshly grated nutmeg to taste (and more for on top)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut and almond milk to about 160°F. I used a meat thermometer to gauge the temperature because that’s what I had on hand.
  2. While milk is heating to desired temperature, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until they’re light yellow. Once milk temperature has reached 160°F, pour 1 cup of the milk into egg yolks while continuing to whisk.
  3. Once the milk and eggs are fully incorporated, add the mixture back into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Chill for 1 or 2 hours. I chilled the mixture in a metal mixing bowl in my garage for about an hour.
  4. When mixture is cool, pour into a blender and add the vanilla, spices and sweetener. Blend well. Grate a bit of fresh nutmeg on top and enjoy.

You can add more egg yolks to this if you like a stronger egg-y flavor. You can also add your choice of alcohol to the nog if you’re in the mood for an adult beverage.

Need to use up leftover egg whites? Use them in a variety of recipes or freeze them for later use.

Source: Slightly adapted from Indian Country Today Media Network

Rhubarb Recipes

I have an awesome feminist friend who lives up on a farm in Sandstone, Minnesota. I went to visit her last weekend and returned home with a bag full of rhubarb. I haven’t made anything with rhubarb in it for quite some time, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of taste, but all three of the recipes I found turned out great.

Rhubarb Crumble

IMGP2602

Makes 4 to 6 servings Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour (see note)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 6 to 7 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pound rhubarb (about 3 cups), cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of half an orange
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Note: I used white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour in this recipe, which required me to use less than the 1 1/4 cups. Check the flour bag for substitution advice or go here. Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup (minus two tablespoons) whole wheat flour, light brown sugar, oats and the oil. Mix with your hands until the dough stays together in clumps when squished in your hand.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. In another medium bowl, combine the rhubarb with granulated sugar, 1/4 cup flour (minus 1 1/2 teaspoons), orange zest and cinnamon. The mixture won’t really stay together that well, but do the best you can to get it all mixed up. Transfer the rhubarb mixture to an oven proof baking dish and cover with the chilled oat mixture.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes, or until oat mixture is golden and rhubarb is bubbly. If sides are browning but top is not, place under broiler for a bit, but watch carefully so as not to over-brown. Let cool briefly; serve while still warm.

Source: Adapted from Orangette.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Bars

rhibarb bars 2

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (or sub in a bit more all-purpose flour)
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable  oil
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance, softened

Filling

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped strawberries, fresh or frozen, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • confectioner’s sugar for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ by 9″ baking pan with tin foil and coat foil with cooking spray.
  2. Prepare the crust: In medium bowl, combine flour, confectioner’s sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp salt. Add the oil and butter and blend into mixture using your fingertips. Mixture will be a bit crumbly, but do your best to firmly press it into the baking pan. I found using my thumbs and knuckles worked well. Place in the oven and bake until the edges just start to brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Prepare filling: In a medium saucepan combine the strawberries, rhubarb, and water. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the fruit is soft and a good amount of juice is produced. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup; I put my measuring cup in a bowl to catch the overflow. You’ll need 1 cup of strained juice in total. Once you have one cup of juice, add the lemon/lime juice and stir.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and 1/8 tsp salt. Add the eggs and whisk until combined. Stir in the fruit juice mixture. Pour the filling over the crust.
  5. Place the pan in the oven, being careful not to spill any juice. Bake until just set, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on wire cooling rack for about 1 1/2 hours. I left the bars in the pan after they cooled, and cut them carefully so as not to harm the nonstick pan I baked them in, but you can lift the bars out of the pan using the foil if you’d like. Garnish with powdered sugar and a bit of strawberry just before serving.

Source: Slightly adapted from Eating Well.

Rhubarb Iced Tea

Rhubarb Tea

Ingredients

  • 8 stalks rhubarb, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • fresh mint or basil for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine rhubarb and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
  2. Strain the liquid, add sugar (more or less, to taste), and stir to dissolve. Allow the tea to cool and serve over ice, with garnish, if desired.

Note: When finished I had about two and a half cups of tea. In the future I will likely double or triple the recipe, or may keep the cover on the pot so less of the moisture evaporates.

Source: Slightly adapted from MarthaStewart.com

I’m Nuts About Almonds!

I’ve been maintaining a (mostly) dairy-free diet for a number of months now. I’m eating some yogurt, and the occasional dairy ingredient in something I eat outside of my home, but that’s pretty much it. I do like milk, and need the calcium, so I’ve tried to keep some sort of milk in my diet, trying lactose-free, almond, almond/coconut, soy, and flax. Nothing tastes quite like regular milk, but I’ve come to appreciate other qualities, like the awesome taste of almond milk with chocolate syrup – much richer tasting than regular milk because of the nutty almond flavor. I saw this recipe in Thursday’s Pioneer Press “Eat” section and decided to give it a shot, with adaptations to fit ingredient availability and the like

Homemade Almond Milk

Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of  ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Place the almonds in a large bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Soak the almonds for 8 to 12 hours.
  2. After the almonds are good and soaked, bring a kettle of of water to boil.
  3. Drain the almonds and transfer to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of room temperature water to the almonds, and process for 1 or 2 minutes, until you have a thick paste. You can add a bit more water if the mixture seems really dry or isn’t moving around in the processor/blender very well.
  4. Transfer the almond paste to a medium bowl and add 2 cups of boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes.
  5.  Working in batches, ladle almond milk  into a medium- to fine-mesh metal strainer over a bowl. I HIGHLY recommend lining whatever strainer you use with a few layers of cheesecloth, because I found that using only a strainer resulted in bits of almond in my milk. You can use the back of a spoon to press out most of the liquid, then gather up the cheesecloth and squeeze out whatever is left. If you’re going to be making your own nut/seed milks on a regular basis, it’s probably worth investing in a sprouting bag (here’s a recipe that uses a sprouting bag, complete with pictures).
  6. Add vanilla, honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Other suggestions I’ve seen: a vanilla bean instead of the vanilla, dates…
  7. Store milk in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days, stirring or shaking before each use. Store ground almonds in refrigerator or freezer for future use. I used some of the ground almonds in the recipe below.

Note: At the end I had a bit more than 2 cups of almond milk.
 

Almond Crescents 

Almond Crescents


Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup Earth Balance (vegan buttery goodness), softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup ground almonds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using an electric mixer (handheld or standing will work), beat the Earth Balance, gradually adding sugar until everything is light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts and mix for one more minute.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and ground almonds. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
  4. Spoon about one tablespoon of dough onto a baking sheet. Shape into a log and bend into crescent shape. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Cool slightly;  roll in confectioner’s sugar while still warm.

Source: Recipe adapted from Cooks.com