Guru Rabbit

Turn a new leaf (and EAT it)

Give Parsnip a Chance January 24, 2013

Filed under: Random,Recipes — rabbit @ 5:26 pm
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I’ve been meaning to work with parsnip.  Sort of.

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Because I see it all the time at the markets, and I know how it tastes

and the array of dishes one can make with it…

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But I feel like it it often gets pushed aside.

Is it the name?  Pars. Nip.  Par. Snip.

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I dunno.

To me, parsnip is like… if a potato and a carrot had a baby.

A nice, sweet,  but awkward child that nobody really talks to.

Probably because its name is Parsnip.

(If I ever have a kid, its name will be Parsnip.)

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And little Parsnip will make great gnocchi.

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Parsnip Gnocchi with Caramelized Onions & Gorgonzola

This recipe is based on my Plantain Gnocchi, but I basically swapped out the plantain for parsnip.  Parsnip yields a slightly sweeter flavor and pairs nicely with the onions and tangy Gorgonzola.  You can also try folding in a bit of the cheese into the gnocchi dough… whoa…  Also, when I made this, I was using half the ingredients as listed.  The amount I made could feed two, so these quantities should be good for four peeps.

Ingredients:

4 large parsnip roots, peeled and cut into equal sizes

2 eggs, at room temperature

2 cups flour*

optional: fresh or dried herbs of your choice (I used chopped fresh sage)

salt and pepper to taste

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup or more of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

*I used amaranth flour to make a gluten-free version, just because.  I think the lack of gluten also made these gnocchi really tender, even after they’ve been refrigerated (which is good if you like eating leftovers straight from the fridge).  Using wheat flour will likely make the texture a little more firm, but I don’t imagine in a bad way, since that’s what is traditionally used in gnocchi.

1) Steam or roast the parsnip until tender.  I roasted mine (350°F for about an hour, coated in olive oil, salt and pepper) because I have an obsession with roasting veggies, apparently.  Steaming might make them easier to puree later on though.

2) Once cool enough to handle, puree the parsnip in a food processor, using the eggs (and scraping down occasionally) to help achieve a smooth consistency.  I also required a few tablespoons of water, FYI.  Transfer the puree to a medium bowl, and gradually combine with the flour, until you have a dough that is easy to handle but still a bit sticky (if you need more flour, add a tablespoon or two at a time).  Fold in the salt, pepper, and herbs if using.  Set dough aside to rest.

3) Caramelize the onion by cooking over medium-low heat in a bit of olive oil.  Stir frequently, until the onion is evenly browned and smells like angel sweat.  Remove from heat and set aside.

4) Shape your gnocchi.  Flour your hands and your counter top, or a large cutting board.  As you can see, I did thumbprints (again).  You can also roll the dough into a snake and just cut equal-sized pieces from that, or if you have any special tools or techniques, go for it.  Once all the dough is shaped, bring a pot of water to a gentle boil.  In small batches, lower the gnocchi into the water, and once they float to the top, take them out and set aside.  Repeat until all the gnocchi is cooked.

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5) Combine the gnocchi with the caramelized onion, reheating if necessary on low.  Then transfer to a bowl and toss with the Gorgonzola.  Enjoy while thinking about which vegetable you would name your child after.  I also may consider Broccoli…

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Never Too Late November 4, 2012

Filed under: Interestin' Food Info,Recipes — rabbit @ 4:58 pm
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Ideally, I would’ve posted this two or three days ago, when the timing was more appropriate.  But y’know, stuff gets in the way.  I’m sure he won’t mind…

So I realized the cusp of October and November will from now on be particularly special.  Dad’s birthday is October 31st (Halloween!).  And the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) takes place November 1st and 2nd.  (Um, duh, Dad was Mexican.)

Among a bazillion other things (including but not limited to: how to drive, how to get achieve a good credit score, how to give an obviously homeless person something to eat, how to break someone’s nose should they attempt to molest me, etc.), Dad taught me how to make tamales.

It starts with love.  Like the immediate love one feels for a rescue puppy…

Okay, sort of.  And no, that’s not my puppy…  But for reals, it starts with a very finely ground cornmeal known as masa.  And traditionally, it is mixed with some kind of soup broth and… LARD.  Ugh.  Well, I don’t really mean that.  When it comes to old-time standards, one would raise a happy pig, kill it (hopefully as quickly as possible), and use all parts of its body– meat, organs, fat,and bones.  Food chain ethics, y’ know?  That ain’t the case today :(

But I find non-hydrogenated palm shortening works.  Try Spectrum.  Or if you have an ethical source of lard…?  I dunno, I eat lettuce for lunch, I’m not really the person to ask about this…

Anywho.  Then the masa dough gets spread into soaked corn husks, and filled.

I filled the masa dough with roasted butternut squash and Mexican farmer’s cheese.

(In the last couple of years, Dad would frequently buy buy butternut squash for his rabbit girl.)

Then you wrap it up so the dough seals itself around the filling:

And tie it up, and steam it up.

Tequila shot, optional.

Basic Tamale Recipe

3 cups masa harina*

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening

3 cups vegetable broth

25-30 dried corn husks, soaked in water for a couple of hours*

heatproof, food-safe twine or string (or if you want to deal with tying corn husk strings, be my guest)

filling of your choice, but nothing too runny

*You’ll probably have to go to a Latin or Mexican grocery store to find the masa harina and corn husks.  If you want to try tying the tamales with the husk itself, once you’ve soaked them, take a few and just tear them into strips.  It takes a little practice to efficiently tie a corn husk string, which is why I suggest twine.  But whatever floats your boat.

1) In a small bowl, whisk together the masa and baking powder.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, beat the shortening until fluffy.  With a rubber or silicone spatula, start mixing in the masa.  Once it’s getting too dry and difficult to mix, start mixing in the broth.  You want to end up with a soft, kinda pasty dough, so add the broth gradually, until you have a good consistency.

2) Place a steamer basket at the bottom of a large, deep pot.  The higher you can place the basket, the better, so if you want, put some kind of heavy objects that will survive being boiled underneath.  Fill with water to just below the bottom of the basket.

3) Assemble the tamales.  Spread a few tablespoons of dough onto the center of a corn husk.  Your husks might be large enough to put more dough.  Just make sure you stay in the center so the husk can fully wrap around.  Leave enough empty husk at the bottom to be able to fold it up and tie.  Place a bit your filling on the dough, just enough so that the dough will still be able to encase it.  Wrap up the corn husk so the dough covers the filling.  Fold the bottom tail up and tie it securely.  You can leave the top open.  Set aside and repeat until all your tamales are ready for steaming.

4) Place the tamales in the steamer basket, standing on their bottom.  Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and steam for about an hour, adding more water as necessary.  They’re ready when the dough is firm.

Serve with sauces and sides of your choice– salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, guacamole, etc.  For fillings, you can try spinach, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, different types of cheese, etc.  Whatever you use, make sure it’s cooked already.  You don’t want liquid seeping out the dough while the tamales steam.

This recipe makes enough to feed four people, maybe more, depending on appetites.  You can store leftovers in the fridge or freezer, and heat in the oven.  So it makes a good weekend project to be able to have tamales at your disposal.  Awesome?  Yes.

Oh, and Happy Belated Birthday, Dad.

P.S.  These are by far the hottest chipotles I’ve ever tasted:

La Morena indeed…

 

Lately… September 24, 2012

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 4:24 pm
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Life has been full of adjustments.  Like, for surrious.  Henry and I finally moved into our own place last month.  I’m really loving it.  Especially the kitchen.  It’s small, but I know how to work with it.  I’ve made it my own.  And I spend A LOT of time in there.  I’m in there at my worst moments (like falling apart at 3:30 in the morning while the most amazing people in my life are catching me), and at my best moments (creating delicious treasure for family and friends.  And singing along to Elton John.)

And watching as the cat figures out how to reach the counter.

It’s all over now.  He officially controls my life via his addiction to wet food.

“You.  Mine.  Forever.”

Besides the kitty becoming my master, there’s been a lot of moving, lugging, hauling, and lifting.  A lot of evenings spent organizing, reorganizing, throwing things away, moving things around, finding new things I need to salvage.

A lot of reflecting.

I found out that cooking is therapeutic for me.  I’ve been spending my evenings slicing, dicing, boiling, baking, simmering, stirring, and caramelizing, all with a glass of wine in hand.

I’m making things I’ve been itching to try, like Tortas de Aceite.

A Spanish yeast-raised sweet “biscuit”, though I would call it a flatbread.

I’ve been making Henry tons of special meals.

Like veggie egg scramble with lime curd and raspberries on English muffins.

And I’ve been catching up with the necessities.  Like my left foot.  (Get it?  The Daniel Day-Lewis movie?  Whatever, I haven’t see it either.)

I had a cyst/alien growing on top of my foot.  The podiatrist drained it while flirting with me.  Very impressive.  I have determined my feet are angelically gorgeous and will capture many hearts.

I also acquired some free brie.  Free brie!


I really don’t know why or how that happened.  The cashier could not get the price on it, so she just told me it was free.  Is that allowed?

And why didn’t that happen with the more expensive of the cheeses I bought?

Like the blue cheese in this soon-to-be quiche with dino kale and sweet potato?

I have no decent end-result photos, but I, as well as others, can attest that this was one crazy-fantastic quiche.  And I think Dad would’ve gone nuts over it, so that’s why I am posting the recipe for all yous.

The whole shebang is adapted from a book called Homestyle Vegetarian, given to me by my Tia Magdalena.  This recipe is also dedicated to her because during the hardest of times, she’s fulfilled the roles of mommy and daddy.  And she freakin’ LOVES blue cheese.

Blue, Green, and Sweet Potato Quiche

Ingredients:

for crust-

2 cups ( 9 oz, 250 g) all-purpose four

7 Tbsp (3.5 oz, 100 g) cold butter, cut into cute little cubes

for filling-

half a large onion, thinly sliced (a sweet onion is preferred, like Vidalia)

a small bunch of dark leafy greens ( I used several stalks of Dino kale with stems removed.  You can used other types of kale, Swiss chard, collards, spinach, etc.)

1 large (about 1 lb) sweet potato

for quiche “batter”-

1 tsp brown spicy mustard

4 eggs

1 cup (8 fl oz) half & half

a few pinches of salt and pepper

dashings of any othe herbs or spices you’d like– nutmeg, thyme, marjoram, coriander, sage, etc.

1) In a food processor, throw in the flour, a couple pinches of salt, and the butter.  Process for 15-20 seconds.  Then add 1-2 Tbsp of ice-cold water, and process in little bursts until the dough starts to come together.  (You can also use an egg yolk instead of water for a richer crust.)  Once the mixture just starts to become a dough, turn it out onto a counter, board, or into a large bowl.  Use your man hand to bring together the elements into a ball, then plastic-wrap it and chill in the fridge for ten minutes.

2) If it’s morning when you’re doing this, have another cup of coffee or tea.  If it’s afternoon or evening, have a glass of wine or beer.

3) Preheat your oven to 350 °F.  Now you need a 9 inch pie or tart plate/pan.  Butter that shit up, just to make sure.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out.  If you have a large enough cutting board (i.e. larger than 9 or 10 inches), roll the dough out on there.  Then you can just flip the board over onto the plate or tin.  If not, once the dough is rolled out, roll it onto the rolling pin (let it curl around the pin), then release it onto the plate/tin.  By the way, remember to roll your dough from the center and outward.  This ensures a more even crust.

4) Press your crust into the assigned vessel and make it pretty.  Place a piece of parchment paper or foil in the center, and top it with some kind of weight– dry beans, pie weights, an oven-proof plate, etc., and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the weight (haha, get it, like the song??  Whatever, I hate you), and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden and dry.  After 10 minutes I turned the oven off and left the crust in there for an extra 5-10, just to make sure there was no raw dough.

5) While your crust is cooling, prepare the fillings.  Rub the  sweet potato with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Even though we’ll be peeling the sweet potato later, I find the salt and pepper kinda seep through and add a little more flavor.  Bake at 400°F until it’s soft (I think around an hour?  Sorry).  Saute your onions until they start to soften, then add the kale (or whatever), and cook until the greens are easy to eat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

6) Now make the quiche batter.  Whisk together the eggs, mustard, and half & half.  You can add whatever other seasonings you want.  I can’t remember for the life of me, but I’m sure I used paprika, thyme, and marjoram, in addition to salt and pepper.  “Pedro, just listen to your heart.  That’s what I do.”  Then bring the oven back down to 350°F.

7) Fill the crust!  First place the crust on a baking sheet.  Peel and slice the sweet potato and arrange it on the bottom (Save the peel.  Eat it.).  Top with your greens and onions, then plenty of blue cheese (Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, whatevs).  Then pour your quiche batter on over the whole thang.  You will now find you are glad the pie/tart plate is on top of a baking sheet.  I brushed some of the batter over the crust to ensure some golden-ing.  Bake for around 40 minutes.  If you stick a toothpick in it should come out clean.

See?  Horrible camera phone picture.

I would’ve stolen Henry’s fancy camera but I couldn’t find it and he was at work and I hate his stupid face.

A few notes… One, yes, you can use a different crust recipe, or even a store-bought one.  But you know how I am about doing things from scratch.  Two, you can totally prep all the elements ahead of time– crust, fillings, batter.  That’s what I did.  Then you just fill the crust and bake it off.  Three, I want to note the brands of eggs and dairy I use.  Organic Valley for dairy products, and Vital Farms for eggs.  Why?  Because according to the Cornucopia Institute, these brands are true to their word in how they treat their cows and chickens.  Although Organic Valley sells eggs as well, their scorecard for eggs is sub-par compared to their dairy scores.  Ah dunno.  And the cheese I used contains vegetable rennet.  I know you probably don’t care, I’m just saying.  For any vegetarians who think about all these little details the way I do.

 

On the Seventh Day of Yum: Cheeeeeese December 18, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 1:37 pm
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I’m pretty sure cheese is in the top three most fun and delicious ingredients to experiment with.  It’s difficult to go wrong, as long as you find the right cheese(s).

And I don’t think there are enough sweet cheese recipes out there.  Yes, I know there’s like, a bazillion cheesecake recipes.  I just don’t really care about cheesecake.  Over.  It.  It’s the cream cheese.  Anything but cream cheese, please.  Mascarpone is nice.  It’s typically used in tiramisu, and sometimes cannoli.  It’s super mild and has a hint of sweetness.  Then I had the idea to combine it with brie.  I love brie… Even though I’m sick of restaurants serving it all drenched in honey, making it overly sweet.  Feels like they’re taking away from the loveliness that is rich, creamy, classy brie.  So I decided my little experiment would not be so cloyingly sweet.  Besides, we’ve got plenty of sugar to deal with this week, right?

Since I was experimenting, and cheese is expensive, I only made seven of these.  I doubled my original measurements, so you should get 14-16 mini tarts.

Mascarpone & Brie Mini Tarts

Ingredients:

2 cups hazelnuts (almonds or pecans will work nicely here too)

agave syrup, enough to make a malleable crust with the nuts

an 8-oz container of mascarpone

6-8 oz brie

about 1/2 cup raw honey (depending on how sweet you’d like it.  You want a thick, spreadable honey for this.  You could probably use powdered sugar instead if you want)

fruit topping (fresh berries, figs or any kind of preserves, jam, etc.)

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a muffin pan with those cupcake paper thangs.  To make the crust, finely grind the hazelnuts in a food processor.  Add agave until the mix becomes malleable.

2) Lightly wet your hands and press the mix into the cupcake liners, first on the bottom, and then a little up the sides.  Bake 8-10 minutes, or until they just start to brown a bit.  Allow them to cool.

3) Remove the rind from the brie.  If you’re like me, you eat it.  Mmmm, mold.  In a large bowl, beat the brie with an electric mixer to knock the shape out of it.  Add the mascarpone.  Then the honey.  Go gradually until you achieve the sweetness that is right for you.  If you use powdered sugar, I suggest sifting it into the cheese.

I actually just mixed it all at once, before realizing that beating the brie first would be better for texture.  Ah well, came out nice anyway.

4) Spoon the cheese into the crusts.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Top with the fruit.  In this particular case, cranberry jam…

I was reeeally satisfied with this.  For one, it’s cheese.  Duh.  And a nice combination at that.  Second, the particular honey I used imparts a sophisticated floral taste and aroma.  Keep that in mind when deciding which honey to use, as they all have different profiles.  Third, the crust was successful and kept intact.  If you wanted to make a single large tart, I would suggest making sure the layer of cheese is not too thick, to prevent it from gooping out once you start cutting it.  Haha… cutting the cheese…

 

Stuffed August 22, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 10:24 am
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You know when you’re in the kitchen eating raw mushrooms and looking for stuff to put on them?

No?

Jerks.

Well, when I opened the pantry I saw pistachios leftover from wonderful chocolate covered pistachio balls.  I took a few pistachios and combined them with a mushroom.  Why haven’t I had this before??

Pistachio Stuffed Mushrooms, 2 Ways!

Ingredients:

16 baby portobello mushrooms

balsamic vinegar (for brushing mushrooms)

1 cup pistachios

2 garlic cloves

olive oil (for sauteing)

3-4 oz goat cheese

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves

a dash each of: thyme, marjoram, rosemary and anise seeds

1) Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Wipe the mushrooms clean, remove the stems and set them aside.  Lay the caps, dome side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  (If you have a wire rack to place on top of the sheet, that would be good, as liquid from the mushrooms is going to seep out.)

(before going into the oven)

Brush the caps with balsamic vinegar and bake for about 10 minutes, or until their liquid has cooked out.  Once they’re out of the oven, use a pair of tongs to set the caps aside, and drain the liquid from the pan.  Keep the oven on.

2) While the mushroom caps cook, finely chop the pistachios in a food processor.  Set them aside in a bowl.

3) Wipe out the food processor and put in the mushroom stems and garlic cloves.  Finely chop those as well and divide into two portions.

4) Place the goat cheese in a small bowl.  Using a fork, mix in the thyme, marjoram, rosemary and anise seed.  If you’re not using ground anise seed, be sure to crumble the seeds between your fingers before adding.  Add pepper if you like.

5) Pour a few teaspoons of olive oil in a pan and add one portion of the mushroom stems and garlic.  Cook over medium heat until lightly browned and the liquid from the mushroom is cooked out.  This should take just a few minutes.  Add to the goat cheese and mix with a fork.  Set aside.

6) Add a little more olive oil to the pan and the rest of the mushroom stems and garlic, as well as the spinach leaves.  Cook over medium heat again, until most of the liquid from the spinach and mushrooms has evaporated.  Lower the heat as you go so as not to burn them.  Once done, put the spinach in a bowl.

7) Add half the chopped pistachios to the goat cheese, and half to the spinach.  Mix each well.

8) Stuff half the mushroom caps with the goat cheese mix and half with the spinach mix.  Place them back on the baking sheet and in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until heated thoroughly and the pistachio bits start to toast.

EEEAAAAAAAAT!

You can prepare and stuff the mushrooms ahead of time and simply heat before serving, so that’s nice, right?  By the way, did you like how I gave one vegan version and one non-vegan?  Yyyyeaaah.  Both fillings are pretty addicting, and you’ll probably have leftovers, so you’re welcome.  You can also try mixing them for super hardcore status.