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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blueberry-Lavender Banana Bread with Lavender-Lime Glaze



Sweet & Saucy has been on a hiatus for the past year or so. Life spun out of control for a few months, as it often does, and I haven’t had the time, space, desire, or resources to devote much of my energy to the kitchen. Slowly, schedules and commitments and work and energy started to align and I found myself with an extra bit of free time. Creative ideas began swirling around inside my head, and last night I decided to wield the spatula, don the apron, and beat the heck out of eggs, sugar, and flour. And thus, Blueberry-Lavender Banana Bread with Lavender-Lime Glaze was born.

Both lavender and blueberries are in season this time of year. If you can manage to pick fresh flowers and berries, do it. Just make sure they’re organic or otherwise free of pesticides.

You’ll want to use culinary lavender in this recipe. From everything I’ve read and researched, all lavender seems to be edible. The only lavender recommended for cooking, however, is English Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) which has a light, sweet smell and is the preferred lavender of choice for cooking because of its sweet fragrance. All other variants are high in camphor oil, which has a slight bitterness and is treated by the body as a toxin.


Blueberry-Lavender Banana Bread with Lavender-Lime Glaze

Bread:

¼ lb. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. dried lavender flower buds
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 ¼ cup blueberries, fresh or thawed & drained
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Glaze:
 
½ cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. milk
½ tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. dried lavender flower buds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat butter & sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda & salt into a bowl. Stir in lavender. Beat dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Fold in bananas, then blueberries.

Grease or spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan and pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick or wooden skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Let the bread cool several hours or overnight, then make the glaze by whisking the milk into the powdered sugar. Add the lime juice a drop or two at a time until you reach your desired citrus flavor. Mix in the lavender buds. Spoon the glaze over the tops and sides of the bread.  

Notes:

Grinding the lavender disperses it through the bread and makes it a bit less potent.

I used an 8x8 pan instead of a 9x5, as it’s what I had handy. I made sure to check on the bread periodically, and anticipated a shorter cook time, but the bread needed the full hour in the oven to cook through. Your oven may vary, so just keep an eye on it.

Do NOT pour the glaze on the bread when it’s hot out of the oven. It’ll just melt off and pool into a puddle on the plate. Wait for the bread to cool.

I usually eyeball the glaze. You want just enough liquid added to the powdered sugar to give it some viscosity, but not too runny. I recommend adding a little bit of the liquid at a time, stirring constantly, until you’ve reached the desired consistency.

You can use lemon juice in place of lime for the glaze. Or orange juice. Or almond extract. Or any other flavoring you desire. I’m just a sucker for lime.

This recipe is also good without the lavender, especially in the fall and winter months. I substitute spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clover, or cardamom for the lavender. Delicious!

 






Sunday, December 25, 2011

Lemon Couscous with Asparagus and Tomato

This is a great side dish for summer. The citrus undertone works well with the veggies and sharp flavors of the cheese.

Ingredients

• 1 cup plain dried quick-cooking couscous
• 12 ounces asparagus, tough ends removed
• Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved.
• Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons (2 tablespoons zest and about ½ cup juice)
• 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Prepare the couscous according to package directions. Transfer to a bowl.
Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a shallow pan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 4-6 minutes, until just tender. Transfer the asparagus to the ice water; cool for 5 minutes. Remove and dry the spears; then cut into ½ inch lengths.

Add the following to the couscous: asparagus, tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, 2 tablespoons of the oil, salt and pepper to taste; toss to combine. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. If the couscous seems dry, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Garnish with parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately. (This is best served right after it is made; otherwise the lemon juice will discolor the asparagus.)



African Peanut Soup

From the Colophon Cafe, one of my favorite hangouts in college.

Blend in food processor to create soup base:

1 oz fresh ginger root, scrubbed and diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp crushed chili peppers
3 ¼ cups diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
1 ¾ cups dry roasted unsalted peanuts
1 small onion, chopped

Add the following and cook to 165 degrees:

1 ½ cup chicken stock
3 cups water

Make a roux paste and add to thicken:

1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour

Finally add:

2 cups diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
½ lb cooked and cubed turkey or chicken

Hints: Whisk warm roux into soup and simmer to thicken. Add final tomatoes
to thin and add chunkiness to soup. Thin with water to desired consistency.
(For vegetarian version, leave out the turkey and use vegetable stock instead of
chicken stock.)

Garnish with peanuts and cilantro (optional).

Serves 6-8 people.





Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Peppermint Frosting

I love the peppermint/chocolate combination, and it seems to be most readily available during the holidays. Why I can’t get peppermint M&M’s year round is beyond me, but I’ll take what I can get. Every year I make a vow to discover the perfect peppermint hot chocolate, and every year I find myself disappointed when the holidays come to a close. If anyone knows of an amazing hot chocolate distributor in the Portland, OR area, please...hook a girl up.

Also, Trader Jo's Candy Cane Joe-Joes are pretty much the best thing on Earth. If you've never tried them, leave your house RIGHT NOW and buy a box. You'll be glad you did.

To satiate the chocolate/peppermint craving, here’s a recipe for Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Peppermint Frosting. They're not quite Joe-Joe's, but close enough. As you’ll notice from the photos, this baking frenzy happened during a rare Seattle snowstorm (perfect backdrop!), and I added crushed candy canes for added zing. More peppermint! MORE!

Chocolate Cookies
1 2/3 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, softened

Peppermint Frosting
3 1/4 cups (about 14 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavoring or extract
Pinch of fine salt

For the cookies, whisk together flour, cocoa and salt in a large bowl; set aside. In a second large bowl, beat sugar and egg together with an electric mixer until pale and thickened, about 2 minutes; beat in vanilla. Add butter and beat again until smooth, about 1 minute more. Add flour mixture in two parts and beat until combined. Shape dough into two logs then wrap each snugly in parchment paper, twisting the ends in opposite directions. Make it uniformly round and about 8 inches long. Chill for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut dough crosswise into ¼-inch thick slices and transfer to prepared baking sheets, arranging cookies about 1 inch apart. Bake until puffed and just cooked through, 9 to 10 minutes. Set aside to let cool completely.

For the frosting, put sugar, milk, butter, peppermint flavoring and salt into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Spread the flat side of half of the cookies with some of the frosting, then sandwich with remaining cookies. Serve immediately or store cookies in an airtight container until ready to serve.






Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Homemade Cracker Jack

A few years ago, a friend of mine had a birthday and invited a group of about 15 people out to a ball game. I wanted to make snacks for everyone and after some thought on how I could stay in line with the baseball theme, I decided to make homemade Cracker Jack.

I used this recipe and doubled it. For the “prizes”, I headed over to Archie McPhee and pawed through their ‘small toys’ section. I had a lot of fun with this project!!

Deluxe Caramel Corn

Pop 4-6 quarts of your favorite popcorn and place in a large buttered roaster. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, put the popcorn in the oven while you make the syrup.

In a deep pot, stir together constantly while heating, then boil together at a full boil for 5 minutes without stirring:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey OR corn syrup

Remove syrup from heat, stir in:

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups toasted pecans, almond slices or other choice nuts

Syrup will foam high when you add the soda. Stir down and as it cools slightly, pour in a thin stream all over the popcorn. Stir in well with two large spoons or gloved hands. Put the well mixed popcorn in its roaster into the oven uncovered, increase temperature to 250 degrees. Stir thoroughly every 15 minutes for 1 hour 15 minutes. Break apart and cool before eating or storing.

The toys:



Slide whistles, spy glasses, warbling bird whistles, siren whistles, “sports fan” (get it?), and hamburger yo-yo’s. Anything that wasn’t already wrapped in plastic I put into small snack-size Ziploc bags.

The popcorn:



The recipe says to make enough to fill a roasting pan. Since I wanted to double the recipe, I made a full roasting pan plus two large-ish bowls. If you look closely, you can see that I buttered the pans.

In the oven:



Of course, I checked to make sure all three containers could fit comfortably in the oven. I let the popcorn sit in there at 200° while I worked on the caramel sauce.

The syrup:



One full cup of butter – melting, melting, melting.

Plus two full cups of brown sugar:



At this point, things started to get a little hairy. I had hot, sugary butter cooking on the stove and slow-moving honey that I was trying to measure out and I just didn’t have enough hands to handle the camera on top of that. But I did get a shot of everything all mixed up and bubbling away:



Now the recipe says to let the mixture sit and bubble without stirring for a full 5 minutes. This was probably the hardest part of the entire recipe for me. I’m an overzealous stirrer. If something is on the stove, I can’t just leave it alone. I must stir! For this reason I am the world’s worst omelet maker, and whenever I make fajitas the meat and veggies end up battered and torn from all the stir treatment they got. Knowing I had to follow the recipe, I gave the syrup a final quick stirs, set the timer for 5 minutes, and forced myself to walk away. I busied myself with dishes and cleaning up while the syrup bubbled.

After 5 minutes, it looked like this:



You can’t really tell from the photo, but it nearly doubled its size in the pot.

Next, a full teaspoon of baking soda:



I was a little nervous about this step, because the recipe warns that the syrup will omgfoamhigh when the soda is added.

I was a bit disappointed, as it didn’t really do anything:



But then I added the vanilla and holy cow WHOOSH:



It even started to smoke/steam a bit, as you can see from the steamy haze in the picture.

I had 12 oz of peanuts in the cupboard, as well as a partial package of chopped pecans. I roughly chopped all the nuts and mixed them in with the syrup, took the popcorn out of the oven, and started to mix the syrup over the corn.

Again, time was crucial at this point because I didn’t want to ruin the syrup. Once I took it off the heat, it immediately started to thicken up. Since I had 3 large containers to drizzle and mix hot syrup into, I really didn’t have a chance to take photos.

But once everything was mixed together, I stuck it all back in the oven and increased the temperature to 250°:



I stirred the popcorn every 15 minutes like the recipe said. However, at about 40ish minutes I did a little taste test with some popcorn that had fallen from my stirring spoon. It had just the slightest taste of char to it, so at 45 minutes I took all the popcorn out. (It’s a good thing I did, because later I asked a few other people if they thought it tasted burned. At first they said ‘no’, but after a moment they said, ‘Yeah. But only just a little!’ Can you imagine what would’ve happened had I left it in for the full 75 minutes??). Next time, I’ll leave it in the oven for 30 minutes and call it good. Or maybe keep the temp at 200 instead of 250 and cook for 45.

I took it all out of the oven and set it out on wax paper to cool. As you can see, the popcorn darkened up in true Cracker Jack form:





While that was cooling, I set out to create the containers. I had looked high and low for some sort of box to put my Cracker Jack in, reminiscent of actual Cracker Jack boxes. But later that afternoon I was at my local QFC picking up popcorn kernels and I noticed some Cracker Jack in the aisle. Did you know Cracker Jack comes in ONE OUNCE boxes?? One ounce, people! Entirely unacceptable! Anyway, QFC just happened to have Cracker Jack on sale. Three (one ounce!) boxes are normally $1.79 (the boxes were taped together and packaged in three). They were on sale at 10/$10. So I bought three boxes of CJ for a buck and thought I’d somehow use the boxes for inspiration.

Later at home I got a brilliant idea:



Lunch sacks! I cut off the front of the Cracker Jack box and scanned it to my printer, then printed up the image and glued it to the front of lunch sacks. I liked the end result. Gave it more of an authentic feel, somehow.

Plus, I was able to fit much more than one measly ounce of snack into each bag:



The final touch was a sticker on the back of the bag to keep it shut:



Everybody seemed to enjoy it and I had tons of fun, too. Here are some photos from the game:

Center Field:



He couldn’t get over the fact that I actually put prizes in with the popcorn:



Pass me some of that!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hummingbird Cupcakes



A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law came to visit me in Seattle for the weekend.

Here’s a photo of us on the ferry from Seattle to Bremerton. I’m on the right, my SIL is on the left:



We had a blast doing all sorts of touristy things, including a visit to Trophy Cupcakes in Wallingford.

Due to a filling and scrumptious dinner earlier that evening, we decided to purchase one cupcake and split it between the two of us. We opted for a “Hummingbird Cupcake” with cream cheese frosting.

Hummingbird Cake is a banana-bread based cake with pineapple and coconut mixed in. I figured I could replicate it, so here are the results.

Hummingbird Cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup coconut flakes

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. Line cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, vanilla, and sugar until combined, about 2 minutes.

4. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Beat at medium speed until mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

5. In a medium bowl, stir together banana, pineapple, walnuts, and coconut. Add to egg mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in flour mixture.

6. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes.

7. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.

2. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add butter, beating until incorporated.

3. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add sugar, beating until incorporated. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using.

Makes 3 cups.

Notes
• I obviously didn’t frost my cupcakes. I opted for a dusting of powdered sugar instead. Yum.

• Cream cheese frosting would still be delicious, though.

• Next time I’ll add more pineapple. I think these cupcakes weren’t quite moist enough and the extra pineapple would’ve helped.







Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

A few weeks ago, I wanted to try my hand at some sort of traditional Scottish dish. I had reason to observe and celebrate Scottish heritage that day, and what better way to salute the Scots than in the kitchen.

Combing the internet for recipes that would not a) be incredibly difficult or time-consuming, and b) make my insides scream and lash out in abject protest (haggis, I’m looking at you), I came across several interesting dishes, but none of them spoke to me quite like Cock-a-Leekie soup.

It’s Autumn. I’ve pulled out my winter coat and came very close to wearing it today, as the air has a bite to it and the breeze here in Seattle is quite nippy. Well. If ever a people knew how to make it through the cold winter months, it’s the Scots. And if ever there was a dish to chase away the chill, it’s Cock-A-Leekie soup. Also, it’s fun to say. When your friends, family, or roommates ask what smells so wonderful simmering on the stove, you can reply with enthusiasm, “Cock-a-Leekie soup!” then watch as their faces transform into utter confusion.

This recipe has a quaint and ancient history. Evidently, when the widowed Mary Queen of Scots left France to claim the Scottish throne in 1561, she brought her cooks along with her. One of the dishes the Queen’s kitchen created was Coq au Leek. Over time and transformation with Scottish dialect, Coq au Leek became Cock-a-Leekie. (Coq au Vin is another traditional French soup. It means “rooster in wine” in French.) Most self-respecting Scots serve Cock-a-Leekie as an intro dish for Burns Night.

Onto the bigger conundrum: What, exactly, is Cock-a-Leekie soup? Cock-a-leekie soup is a Scottish soup dish! It’s made primarily of leeks, chicken, and chicken stock. The original 16th-century recipe added prunes during cooking, and traditionalists still garnish with a julienne of prunes. It’s been suggested that the reason for adding the prunes dates back to times when only boiling fowls were available and prunes were added to increase the nutritional value of the broth.

Amazingly, so few ingredients (chicken, leeks and prunes) can result in such a flavorful soup. I’ll admit I was hesitant to add the prunes, but wanting to stick to a traditional recipe, I added them in. And I was not disappointed.

I cobbled together a recipe based on all the other recipes I looked at. I knew I wanted to start with a roux for the base, and add some milk to make it a creamier stock. (Oh, oops. Roux is totally a French thing. Sorry Scotland. Hey, the Industrial Revolution was a good thing for you guys, wasn’t it? Quit yer whinin’.) I also knew I had some veggies in the fridge that needed to be used up, and because this was all new territory for me, the added celery and carrots gave it a traditional American feel that squelched my fears of the unknown. (Again. My apologies to Scotland. If Americanizing your dish gets your kilt in a twist, that’s your problem, not mine.)

I did not measure ingredients or pay much attention to amounts, so this recipe should be loosely interpreted. Sorry!

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

1. Melt about a tablespoon of butter in a pan. Slice up one leek and add it to the butter, stirring until soft.

2. For the roux, melt about 6 Tbsp butter over medium heat, then stir in 6 Tbsp flour (roux should always be a 1:1 ratio). Stir it all up until it gets all brown and bubbly. Mmmm.

3. Next, add in some cream or whole milk. I didn’t have either in the fridge, so I used 1%. I don’t necessarily recommend that, but it is what it is. Pour in about a 1 ½ cups, give or take. Stir that all together until it thickens up.

4. Add 32 oz of chicken broth and stir well.

5. Add the softened leeks.

6. Cut up two boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and throw them in the pot.

7. Cut up 2 celery stalks and one medium-sized carrot and add it to the broth mixture.

8. Now boil the heck outta that mess, making sure you stir it around a lot.

9. When the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are soft, ladle it into a bowl.

10. Slice up 1-2 prunes into bit-sized chunks and add it to the soup.

11. Get a fuzzy blanket. Bonus points if it's plaid.

12. Wrap yourself up in it, and eat your soup.

13. Praise Scotland.

Cherry-Almond Bread with "Amaretto" Glaze



Once upon a time, I was tasked with bringing a breakfast treat to a potluck.

Thinking about my pantry, I remembered I had a large bag of dried cherries needing to be put to good use. I wondered if I could make some sort of fruity sweet bread using the dried cherries in lieu of raisins or other fruit. Then I thought about how well cherry and almonds go together, and voila! Cherry-Almond Bread was born.

I searched the internet and cobbled together a recipe based on a few separate sites. I liked the idea of using an Amaretto glaze, but since I don’t drink alcohol and really didn’t want to go buy a bottle for just one recipe, I chose to improvise.

I brought the bread to the potluck and one particular co-worker raved about it so much that next time around, I made an entire loaf and sent it home, just for her and her family.

Here’s the recipe:

Cherry-Almond Bread with “Amaretto” Glaze

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups dried cherries
1 cup chopped almonds

Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp. almond extract
2 tbsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Grease 3 standard loaf pans, or 2 standard pans and 1 mini pan.

2. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add milk, sour cream, and vanilla; mix until blended.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture, cherries, and almonds to wet ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are absorbed.

4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers of breads comes out clean, 70 to 75 minutes for large loaves and 60 minutes for mini loaves.

5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar with almond and vanilla extract. Glaze should have consistency of thick maple syrup or corn syrup.

6. Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Drizzle with “amaretto” glaze so that it coats the top and runs down the sides.

Notes:

• I found an amaretto glaze recipe that called for 2 cups powdered sugar and 6-7 tablespoons amaretto. I used almond extract instead, but because it’s kinda potent, I toned it down a bit with vanilla extract.

• Make sure to have your dry ingredients mixed ahead of time. Once the eggs, milk, vanilla and sour cream go into the mixture, the batter starts to get lumpy and weird. I worried that I’d somehow curdled it. I had to move fast and start adding the dry stuff right away to keep it from wigging out more.

• The cherries regained their moisture during the cooking process and rather than hard chewy cherry bits in the bread, you end up with nice succulent fruit with tons of flavor.

• I chopped half of the almonds up real fine, and the other half I left chopped coarsely. I liked the way it turned out – a bit of crunch, but not too much. You can also sprinkle a bit of slivered almonds over the top of the glazed loaves, if that floats your boat.

• This recipe makes a LOT. Two full regular-sized loaves and one mini loaf, or 3 regular loaves filled about 2/3 full. Oof!

Strawberry-Glazed Edamame with Bacon




Hello, world!

You may have noticed that Sweet & Saucy has been on a bit of a hiatus lately. There are several reasons for this:

• I started a new job in July and it has taken up a lot of my time and energy.

• The days are getting shorter and daylight is harder to come by. I like to take photos with good, natural light since my camera is just a simple point and shoot. Arriving home at 7pm or later during the week doesn’t allow for much natural light photography.

• Certain trolls keep posting Viagra marketing links in the comments section of my posts. This makes me never want to post again, because it annoys the heck out of me.

Needless to say, it’s hard for me to stay out of the kitchen much more than a week or two at a time. I’ve had fun cooking and experimenting over the last few months, but haven’t bothered to post because it does take time, patience, and natural light…all of which I seem to be running low on as of late. Regardless, this recipe is too good to keep to myself, so I thought I’d revisit the ol’ Frim Fram Sauce and give all my dear readers an update.

Strawberry-Glazed Edamame with Bacon

Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hosting some friends, Todd and Austin, at my house. They had recently moved from Arizona to Seattle and stayed with me for a few days while they looked for a place to live and got settled into a new city.

One evening Todd cooked dinner and threw together the dish featured in this post. I was blown away at his ability to scan my cupboards and freezer, pull things out, dump random stuff into a pan, and wind up with results that make you want to die from the sheer amazingness of the flavors exploding in your mouth.

I was especially impressed with what he did with the package of frozen edamame he found in the back of my freezer. I love edamame, and cook with it frequently, as you may have noticed. If you hadn’t noticed, here’s a post where I sing edamame praises, and here’s a more recent post where I experimented with these wonderful magic soybeans.

Now, edamame straight out of the bag isn’t much to write home about. While still scrumptious, it isn’t all that exciting. So I’m always looking for ways to dress it up. Todd’s recipe did the trick. I have since made it 3 or 4 times for myself, once for my brother, who loved it so much he called me the next day for the recipe, and once for a potluck-style staff meeting brunch for my co-workers. Of course, it was a hit.

Thank you Todd for this wonderfully delicious and simple recipe. It’s a keeper!

Strawberry-Glazed Edamame with Bacon

1 16oz package frozen, shelled edamame
1-2 Tbsp. strawberry preserves
4-6 rashers of bacon, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper

Boil edamame according to package instructions. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Drain excess fat, reserving about a teaspoon of drippings. Add cooked edamame to skillet and stir to coat. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of strawberry preserves into the mixture and stir well to combine. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon garlic powder and a liberal amount of fresh ground black pepper.

Notes

• You can use any kind of preserves you’d like or have on hand. Apricot, apple, blueberry, orange, etc. I liked the sweet tanginess that the strawberry added to the dish. It complimented the bacon well and gave a certain depth to the flavors.

• If you’d like to further dress it up, I recommend sautéing finely chopped shallot or sweet onion with the bacon.

• You could also omit the garlic powder and use fresh minced garlic instead, sautéing with the bacon onion until soft.

• This is actually quite yummy with breakfast/brunch, or as a side dish with pasta or veggies.





Sunday, August 8, 2010

Glass Noodle Chicken Salad



This is a light - yet hearty - summer dish. Sorry the photos aren’t great quality; the camera settings were awry and dusk was approaching.

Glass Noodle Chicken Salad

Ingredients

1 package uncooked mung bean threads (cellophane noodles)
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 ½ tbsp. gluten-free soy sauce
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. red chili flakes
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1 cup cooked, shelled edamame
½ cup grated carrot
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup chopped cashews

Preparation

1. Cook noodles and edamame as per package directions.

2. Combine vinegar and next 4 ingredients. Stir well. Combine chicken, edamame, carrot, and cilantro, tossing well.

3. Drain and rinse noodles with cold water; drain well, squeezing to remove excess water. Snip noodles several times with kitchen shears. Combine noodles and chicken mixture, tossing well to combine. Drizzle noodle mixture with vinegar mixture; toss well to coat. Top with cashews.

Notes:
• This salad truly is better the next day. In fact, I’d recommend letting the noodles “marinate” in the sauce overnight, then throwing the chicken/veggies on top the next day to serve.

• The measurements are approximate. Play with the sauce so it fits your liking.

• You could use fish sauce instead of soy, granulated sugar instead of honey, peanuts instead of cashews, add different veggies (grated zucchini, sliced red or yellow pepper, radishes, etc.), or spice it up with chili paste.