If you love flavor, love “healthy”, love saving money, you’ll love this! You can make an easy “infused olive oil”, using dried Chipotle peppers, to add that robust, smokey chipotle pepper flavor to any dish. You might be into paleo recipes, or gluten-free recipes, or traditional or trendy recipes; in any case, this works! We swirl of dash of Chipotle Pepper Oil into our Roasted Vegetable Soup at The New Deli- it goes over real well. But it can also be added to any dish you’re serving up. It’ll add a little heat, and nutrition (antioxidants and all), and flavor- whoo hoo!
I began researching chipotle options when we wanted to feature it on a sandwich special, and discovered many, many products containing chipotle. Of course they were mainly comprised of the cheapest of ingredients: Flour and other additives.
But I discovered that dried chipotles are quite economical (found in the ethnic spice section of many grocery stores, or international markets, or on Amazon). I tried these on Amazon: Chipotle Dried Whole chile Peppers – 8 oz.– they cost more a little more than the ones I found locally. But hey, if you don’t happen to have a market that carries dried chipotle peppers, I do recommend the Amazon dried peppers; they’re still much better than mixes containing minimal chipotle (and maximum junk!).
But on to that infused oil. Take the hard, crusty little peppers, stem them and chop them coarsely by hand, pouring a bit of boiling water over them, some salt, and a bit of virgin olive oil. Let them soak in a jar in the fridge overnight, processing the softened peppers into a puree the next day. Add more virgin olive oil to them, and some paprika for extra color.
Love that smokey chipotle flavor!
PS I linked to this page from Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Wednesday blog carnival (here). It took me awhile to post the link, since last time I visited Kelly’s Wednesday blog carnival page, I spent a week or two in follow-up research, after the plethora of good articles I’d found on her page. Good stuff!
It’s great to have a simple, refreshing, natural punch recipe on hand when feeding a crowd. This non-alcoholic, healthy punch recipe still tastes great. And it’s HFCS-free! (No high fructose corn syrup, that is.) Change it up by using different frozen juice concentrates, although the raspberry is very delicious. Serves 6-8, but multiplies easily.
1 liter of soda water (unsweetened, carbonated water)
2 cans frozen white grape/ raspberry juice concentrate (100% juice)
Optional: 1 pint ice cream (check labels for corn syrup)
1. Simply add the frozen fruit juice concentrate to a punch bowl, pour in the soda water, and top with some ice cream, if desired.
2. For a super-fizzy, layered effect, make individual servings. Add a tablespoon or two of the fruit juice concentrate to each glass, add a scoop of ice cream, and then pour the soda water over the top. Like a natural-style root beer float!
What with the anchovies and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) in most Worchestershire products, a friend had wondered if I had a recipe to make it from scratch.
We’d actually been making our own “Worchestershire Sauce” at the deli for ages, just to save money. A gallon of the stuff seemed too big an investment. After reading the ingredient list, I came up with something close enough to the real thing (for most purposes, anyway), and it was considerably cheaper.
We don’t miss the anchovies at all, though they could be added. This Worchestershire Sauce recipe (on saveur.com) sounded excellent, but I made a simplified version for The New Deli. Our version saves a step; instead of bringing a pot of the vinegar and spices to a simmer, we just “steep” them for a month or so in the vinegar, lazy-man-style. We also use less vinegar than the saveur recipe; maybe their recipe is more authentic, but we do like our blend!
We have an even simpler “Worchestershire” recipe, too, using 1 c. each, soy sauce and white vinegar, plus 1/4 c. Sugar, 1/2 TBS. Molasses, 1/2 TBS. Garlic granules. It’s not as complex a blend of flavors, but it is easy!
If you’re adventurous, you might try the following recipe. It will keep for some time, and you can be creative, using more or less of certain spices. Makes 1 quart.
Several tamarind pods (a handful)
1 TBS. mustard seeds
1/2 TBS. peppercorns
1/2 tsp. powdered cloves (or 1 tsp. whole)
1 tsp. curry powder
Several cardamom pod seeds (open pods, discard outer part)
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger, dry (or 1 TBS. fresh, sliced)
1/2 TBS. garlic granules
2 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. molasses
2 c. soy sauce
1. Several weeks ahead, let spices steep in the white vinegar in a glass quart jar. Add the first ten ingredients to the white vinegar; store in a dark place until vinegar is flavored.
2. Heat a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, adding sugar and tilting pan as needed (to get grains to “melt”, as the edges turn golden-colored).
3. When sugar has caramelized, remove from heat and slowly add the molasses and soy sauce, mixing until smooth.
4. Strain the steeped white vinegar into the pot, mixing well, discarding spices. Pour Worchestershire sauce back into the glass jar; store up to a year or so.
I’m not really a “baker”. My ma’s a baker. She made her own croissants, back in the day. And Napoleans, tortes, and other crazy fancy desserts.
But my 50th birthday was coming up, and I wanted a good cake. Mom was back in Michigan so I would be on my own. I looked into it. Took a few of mom’s suggestions. It wasn’t too challenging to make a decent cake, and it was way cheaper than having a specialty bakery make it. (OK, so I’m fussy. No Costco cake for me!)
But a little research helped. You might dive right in to a recipe like this one (for Chocolate Pistachio Cake). Or you might be like me: Do a little research first. Here are some of the notes I took, before baking that yummy cake.
The Beauty of the Sponge Cake Recipe
The (Genoise) sponge cake recipe is great for a couple of reasons: It turns out light, and it cooks through without having a gooey center. If more moisture were added to the cake before baking, it would be harder for it to cook through without burning the edges. Ah, the beauty of Genoise!
While it’s possible to overcook (as I’ve found out), the layers will typically be spread with some kind of flavored syrup, which adds moisture and flavor. Or, whipped cream and other moist fillings like mousses might be used between layers. The cake doesn’t get too soggy, as it’s already slightly dry.
The Mechanics of the Sponge Cake Recipe
The big catch is to let the egg/sugar mix warm up to a good temperature for whipping well. A double-boiler can work; the mixture can get stirred fairly often until the sugar seems to dissolve, and the eggs are lukewarm to the touch. At this point, they will increase quite a bit in volume as they whip, which is just what you want. You have to take care not to actually cook the whites though- that won’t do!
Using the Right Pan
Cake batter for a Genoise cake should fill a pan 2/3, to insure proper baking. Also, as layers are often split in order to spread with fillings, the cake can’t be too thin to start with.
If you increase the recipe, do the eggs in batches though, as a mixer won’t hold much more than eight eggs once they’ve increased in volume. When I made a triple-batch of an 8-egg recipe for my 50th, I did that. Baked it in a half-sheet-cake pan (12″x18″). It was great!
Ideally, a cake pan will have straight sides and corners perpendicular to the bottom. The cake bakes better in such a pan (as opposed to the pans with edges that flare out from the bottom). You don’t need to trim such a cake in order to achieve straight edges; you get a more professional look.
Coloring That Cake
I really like the color of “Pistachio Green”. I experimented, adding a touch of red to the green food coloring. If you stick with the green as it comes from the bottle, you won’t have a pistachio color at all! I added extra yellow as well, until the color was pleasant, not gaudy. I also bought some packaged fondant, making a ribbon on one cake, as shown above. The box of fondant contained a somewhat abrasive mix of colors, but with a little blending, I got the color I was looking for. Typically, you want to add just a touch of the opposite color to your frosting. Greens might need a touch of red; purple or orange might need a touch of green, etc. This tones them down and makes for a classier look.
Fond of Fondant?
I learned from the experts that you can let any ribbons you make dry overnight. Why do this? I discovered the hard way: If you start laying “ribbons” on your typical frosting, the colors might start running by the end of the day. Letting them air-dry for a day or so helps resolve that issue. At some point, I may try making my own fondant. My mom did this for my dear sister-in-law’s wedding, years ago. I still remember the beautiful smell of the rose water my mom added to the mix. That was one special occasion!
This is an elegant cake for special occasions. The génoise-style sponge cake is pretty dry, which means that after baking, it will soak up the simple raspberry juice concentrate that’s brushed between the layers, without getting soggy.
With this recipe, most of the pistachios are finely processed; a bit of sugar and butter are added to make it like an almond paste (or “marzipan”), which can be rolled out and laid between layers. The rest of the pistachios are more coarsely ground, to add to the sides of the cake.
This chocolate cake has a simple chocolate mousse filling that uses whipped cream; the rest of the whipped cream is used in the frosting (saving steps).
You can make a half recipe of this cake, but I just figure…so much work–it better be a special occasion! Serves 15-20.
1 1/3 c. sugar
3/4 stick butter (6 TBS.), plus scant 1/2 c. (3 1/2 oz.) butter, melted
2 tsp. plus 1 TBS. vanilla
3/4 c. plus 2 TBS. flour
3/4 c. plus 2 TBS. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 c. seedless raspberry jam (or substitute an extra 1/3 c. juice concentrate)
1/3 c. Frozen Raspberry/White Grape Juice Concentrate
1/2 lb. raw, shelled pistachios (1 2/3 c.)
1/4 lb. or more (1 c. or so) pistachios (for decorating, if desired)
1/2 c. plus 1 c. confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. plus 1/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 TBS. water
1 qt. whipping cream (4 c.)
Chocolate “Genoise” Cake
1. To make the egg/sugar mix, use room-temperature eggs, warmed in hot water first: > 8 eggs
2. Add warmed eggs to a bowl, along with the sugar, setting bowl in warm water until lukewarm. A double boiler on the stove might provide enough heat to warm up the ingredients. Stir occasionally. Use: > the 8 room-temperature eggs> 1 1/3 c. sugar
3. In separate cup, microwave mixture of: > 3/4 stick butter (6 TBS.) > 2 tsp. vanilla
4. Mix dry ingredients together separately. The following measurement actually equals 1 c. minus 2 TBS., which can be an easier way to measure! Use: > 3/4 c. plus 2 TBS. flour > 3/4 c. plus 2 TBS. unsweetened cocoa powder
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cake pans (two 9″x9″ or round cake pans); dust with flour. (Or size of choice; baking times will vary accordingly.)
6. Beat egg/sugar mix until tripled in volume. Fold in spoonfuls of flour mixture at a time, into egg mixture, repeating until mixed in. Fold in melted butter/vanilla last. Put into prepared pan and bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and is springy, about 30 min. Let cool.
Raspberry Filling, Mousse, & Frosting
1. Prepare Raspberry Filling: microwave jam in a small bowl, using: > 1/3 c. seedless raspberry jam (or omit and double up on juice concentrate)
2. Add to the bowl: > 1/3 c. Frozen Raspberry/White Grape Juice Concentrate (or use 2/3 c. and omit jam)
3. Optional: If you choose to decorate the sides of the cake with pistachios, process some extra nuts, chopping until medium-fine: > 1 c. pistachios (for decorating, if desired)
4. Set chopped nuts (for decorating) aside. Prepare “Pistachio Paste”: first process nuts (before adding the confectioner’s sugar and butter). Process until smooth, using: > 1/2 lb. raw, shelled pistachios (1 2/3 c.)
5. To processor, add: > 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar > scant 1/2 c. (3 1/2 oz.) butter, melted > 1 tsp. almond extract
6. Process until well-blended. Set Pistachio Paste aside. Note: Many recipes use a small amount of water or egg white instead of the butter; use according to preference (I prefer the butter).
7. Prepare chocolate mousse filling, and frosting for cake. For that, microwave 30 seconds or so, and stir until melted: > 1/2 c. plus 1/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips > 2 1/2 TBS. water
8. Set the melted chocolate mixture aside and let cool off some. Meanwhile, whip just until soft peaks form: > 4 c. chilled whipping cream
9. To prepare the Chocolate Mousse, fold into the cooled chocolate mixture: > Approx. 2 c. of the above whipped cream
10. Set aside. Meanwhile, to the rest of the whipped cream, add: > 1 c. Confectioner’s sugar > 1 TBS. vanilla
11. Set the frosting aside.
12. Split the sponge cake into three layers using serrated knife, setting the first layer (cut-side up) on a cardboard cake rectangle (or flat cookie sheet). Set the other two layers on wax paper, cut side up. Drizzle the raspberry mixture over the cut side of all three layers.
13. For the first layer, after adding the raspberry mixture, add about half of the chocolate mousse mixture. Next, add half the Pistachio Butter, rolled out into the shape of the baked cake. Roll it between two layers of plastic wrap, then lift onto the cake, pulling the top half of the plastic wrap off afterward.
14. For the next layer, carefully set the middle layer of cake drizzled with raspberry syrup, on top of first layer of cake, raspberry, and pistachio. Add the other half of the chocolate mousse mixture. Also, add the second half of the pistachio paste, again rolled to fit the layer.
15. Finally, lift the top layer of cake (raspberry side down) onto the other two layers.
16. Color the frosting if desired. For a “Pistachio Green” color, use a touch of red and yellow along with the green food coloring. Frost the cake with the Whipped Cream/Confectioner’s sugar mixture.
17. If desired, sprinkle chopped pistachios on the sides of the cake. Another decorating idea: Fondant ribbons. See notes to the left on working with fondant. To get a nice purplish-wine color, I mixed the intense purple fondant that came in the box, with a few of the other colors, to tone it down.
18. You can make this cake a day ahead, or in steps. I often bake the cake earlier in the week, freezing it until assembly time.
This toffee’s even alright for those on gluten-free diets. Plus, it keeps well. Although baked goods can be popular Christmas gifts, they can more often go stale before the recipient has time to eat them. It’s nice to give something that holds up better!
I had this recipe posted on my old recipe website (at pccuisine.com), and people are still looking for it. After all, it is always nice to have a quick, 7-minute dessert recipe handy. And it only has six ingredients!
So here’s it is: a version adapted from an old Betty Crocker recipe. It’s a simple recipe once the technique is mastered , and comes in handy for gifts, or to have on hand for last minute guests. Makes about 30 or so pieces.
1 1/2 c. chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, or toasted almonds)
2 sticks butter (1 c.)
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (or almond extract, if using toasted almonds)
1 rounded c. chocolate chips (8 oz.)
1. Butter a 9 x 13 ” pan, and spread with: > 1 1/2 c. chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, or toasted almonds)
2. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, begin heating the following: > 2 sticks butter (1 c.) > 1 1/4 c. sugar > 1 tsp. vanilla > dash salt
3. Stir constantly, keeping it at a medium high heat. Set the timer for 7 minutes; that’s about how long it takes for it to get to the right temperature. Just when the sides of the pan start darkening, it’s ready to pour over the nuts in the pan. Spread to the edges, then cover with: > 1 rounded c. chocolate chips (8 oz.)
4. Let chocolate melt (about 5 minutes), then spread over toffee. Let cool until chocolate’s set (about 1 hour), then chop/cut into pieces.
How cool is it that God so wanted us to have exciting food, that He put extra nutrients into some of the most flavorful ones?!
Not that “ORAC” is an especially appetizing name. But it’s a lot easier than saying, “the oxygen radical absorbance capacity”. High ORAC value means that less free radicals may form. Free radicals may increase potential for disease and premature aging. We don’t want that.
There is some controversy about the topic. The USDA had a list of high ORAC foods, having studied them for ten years. But in May of 2012, they withdrew the list, as test results were not conclusive.
This might just be a technicality. Read the Wikipedia page (here) for details. It basically says that the high ORAC foods themselves don’t increase the antioxidant capacity of blood, but that the uric acid levels increase after metabolizing the foods, and that is what affects the antioxidant capacity.
Do I care if the actual scientific fact is that it’s not the “compound” I just ate, but the byproduct of digesting that compound that is responsible for my blood’s increased antioxidant capacity?! No! And I don’t think my body cares either. Fact is, my body’s happier when I eat some high-ORAC foods. That’s all that counts, right?!
OK, USDA… to be more accurate, we might claim the value of colorful, flavorful foods, which are high in polyphenols (of either flavonoid or non-flavonoid form). The USDA does admit that these foods have a positive effect on heart health. Such foods have been found to be antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic. Good enough for me.
So… I could present you with a list of “Colorful, Flavorful Foods High in Flavonoid and Non-Flavonoid Polyphenols”. (CFFHFNFP- what an acronym!) Or I could just keep calling ’em the “High ORAC Foods”. In either case, I rounded up some foods from my cupboard (or garden), loaded with good stuff, to inspire you. Here’s a List of High ORAC Foods:
What might you have in your cupboard or garden, that you could add to your meals? Every time we spice up or season a dish, we can raise that “oxygen radical absorbance capacity”. My friend even suggested adding turmeric to tea. I discovered that a delicious pick-me-up brew could be made using turmeric, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and coconut cream. Starbucks, step aside– this is a way healthy super-charger.
I guess it’s no surprise that America’s #1 source of high ORAC food is generally… coffee. But ethnic dishes are typically loaded with heavy doses of high ORAC foods due to liberal use of herbs and spices. Maybe it’s time we expanded our horizons too!
A big batch of chili comes in handy for feeding a crowd. I made this for the last Chili Cook-Off our church had. No, I didn’t win the cook-off, but we did LOVE this chili! One caveat: I used homemade Worchestershire sauce (there’s a good recipe here, on Saveur, and there’s also one in my Soup’s On cookbook). I think that made it extra special!
I was glad our friend Toby won. He only made some to help his wife out, who was heading up the event. The day before, it had started to look like there would be only three folks making chili, so he stayed up past midnight to make a batch himself.
We ended up with a lot of chili to try that day. One was called “Three Buck Chuck”. We wondered about the gamey taste; we eventually realized that it had deer meat in it!
This makes 2-plus gallons of chili; about 20-24 or servings.
2 lb. dry kidney beans
3 lb. lean ground beef
Olive oil for grilling veggies
Approx. 6 c. chopped onion (4-5 lg.)
6 chopped green peppers (sub Anaheim or Poblano for variety)
1 #10 can (6 lb. 9 oz.) tomato pieces
1/2 c. Worchestershire Sauce
2 TBS. salt
1/2 c. chili powder
8 c. of water (as needed)
Optional: 8 oz. grated cheddar cheese
Optional: Sour cream, cilantro, chopped jalapenos or raw onion, etc.
1. Bring to boil in a medium-large pot: > Half-pot of water
2. Add, and then simmer until tender, 1 hour or so: > 2 lb. dry kidney beans (ideally, soaked overnight, in the refrigerator)
3. When beans are done, drain off cooking water. Put beans back in pot.
4. Saute’ in iron pan: > 3 lb. lean ground beef
5. Drain fat off if necessary; add to cooked beans in pot. In same pan, sauté: > Approx. 6 c. chopped onion > 6 or so chopped green peppers (or other variety) > olive oil
6. Into the pot of beans and meat, add the grilled veggies, plus the following: > 1 #10 can tomato pieces > 2 TBS. salt > 1/2 c. chili powder* > 1/2 c. Worchestershire Sauce > more water as needed (to right consistency)
7. Simmer all ingredients 1 hour or so. Serve with grated cheddar cheese and condiments, as desired.
* You can make homemade chili powder for cheaper than commercial, and it won’t have MSG in it. Just mix the following in a bowl and store in a small jar: > 1 c. paprika > 1 c. garlic granules > 1 c. cumin powder > 1/4 c. cayenne
My (older) woman friend is feeling pretty hip now. She was in my Healthy Eating class at a recent retreat, and she learned a new buzz word: “GMO”.
GMO stands for “genetically modified organisms”. GMOs are relatively new to the human diet, which makes the study of their long-term effect on generations difficult. (See a list of common GM foods here.) They are not the same as “hybrids” (which can occur in nature). See more info on hybrids here.
Monsanto and other bio-tech companies are heavily invested in providing the world with GMO seeds, to grow cheaper crops while yielding high profits for the companies themselves. Yes, those seeds provide food for an enormous population, but at what cost? One expense is that new seed must be purchased each year, as any seed from GMO plants will not be true to form.
Companies like Monsanto have huge resources available: advertisers in television, lobbyists in government, lawyers in litigation. A controversial rider was just anonymously added to a recent budget bill; it would protect U.S. biotech companies from litigation if their GMO seeds turn out to be dangerous. (See article here.) To find more online; look for “Monsanto Protection Act” (officially labeled, “Farmer Assurance Provision” by bio-tech companies).
I personally have chosen to eat less food, but of higher quality, than to eat more of lower-quality, cheaper foods. At least we have a choice!
Here are the most common GMO foods: Tomatoes, Sugar Beets, Papaya, Rice, Potatoes, Corn, Soy, Milk, Canola Oil, Aspartame, Zucchini (Yellow or green), and MSG (“Natural Flavor”)
Most prepared foods will contain GMOs: Cereals, snack bars, snack boxes, cookies, lunch meats, crackers, etc.
“Organic” Does Not Mean “Non-GMO”: Shopping organic is great, but unless it says, “NON-GMO”, you can’t be sure. Whole Foods Market has pledged to label all their foods, whether GMO or not, by 2018, the first to do so. I’m excited about that, and meanwhile, I’ll gladly support any company already putting that on their label!
Some common NON-GMO snack foods: Field Day Organics Golden Round Crackers, Kettle Organic Sea Salt Chips, Late July Organic Multigrain Chips, Trader Joe’s Organic Corn Dippers, Eden Organic Popcorn, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Original, Late July Organic Cheese Crackers, and Ak-mak Whole Wheat Crackers
I don’t mean to get obsessive-compulsive. I’m not going to stop eating certain foods; I’ll just eat less of them. I love the verse, “Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.” From 1 Timothy 4:4-5.
One might argue that some of these new “GMO Foods” are not actually made by God but by man. Alas, we best say our prayers, try to be wise, and hope for the best!
Celery seed adds flavor and potatoes thicken this soup without adding flour or gluten. Leeks are sautéed, which brings out their sweetness, making the perfect garnish. A little virgin olive oil adds richness, while still keeping it vegan. Makes 6 or so servings.
1 whole bunch celery, including bottom, rinsed well, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 lb. or so potatoes, peeled, diced
1 TBS. Vege-sal (or 1 1/ 2 tsp. salt)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 c. virgin olive oil
1. Pressure cook for 20 min. or so (or simmer for 40 min.), until tender: > 1 whole bunch celery, cut in chunks (including bottom) > 1/2 tsp. celery seed > boiling water to cover
2. Pour off and reserve broth (to cook potatoes in). Use immersion blender to puree the softened, cooked celery. (Or use food processor.) Strain through a mesh strainer to remove strings; set aside.
3. Cook potatoes in the reserved broth (add more water to cover, if necessary). Cook about 20 min. more, until tender: > 2 lb. or so potatoes, peeled, diced
4. Use immersion blender (or processor) again; process the strained celery and potatoes and liquid, just until smooth. Process: > The cooked celery and potato > the cooking broth > 1 TBS. Vege-sal (or 1 1/2 tsp. salt) > juice of 1/2 lemon > 1/3 c. Virgin olive oil
5. Also prepare the leeks. Look for any grit; rinse and clean as necessary. Slice finely into small rings; add to a hot skillet with a dash of olive oil and a splash of water. Grill until the leeks are tender and slightly browned. Use: > 2 leeks, sliced
6. Heat soup to serve and garnish with the sautéed leeks.