September 30, 2012

poblano polenta

2012.09_poblano polenta
Everyone likes to talk about soup as we transition into fall.  I, however, want to talk about the unglamorous yet satisfying alternate known as gruel.  Gruel is a great word, no?

Honestly though, this gruel is a creamy polenta made of cornmeal and amaranth.  I added late summer harvest to it like poblano pepper, tomato, onion, garlic, and cilantro.  I also added cream cheese that was leftover from a work event.  The cream cheese sort of makes the whole thing taste like jalapeño poppers... 

4 c. water
3/4 c. coarse corn meal
1/4 c. amaranth grain
olive oil
black pepper
cayenne pepper
cooked veggies
cheese or sour cream (optional)

Boil water.  Add corn meal, amaranth grain, salt, and oil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes stirring regularly.  When the polenta is soft enough to eat, add the remaining ingredients and eat up!

September 17, 2012

ghost pepper hot sauce seitan wings

2012.09_seitan wings
I finally understand the beauty of "buffalo wing sauce."

Like many, I enjoy the flavor and heat of hot sauce, but at some point, the capsaicin becomes unbearable. Enter the other half of wing sauce: fat! Capsaicin is fat-soluble so the butter or margarine in wing sauce lets you consume more of it than you would be able to otherwise!

I made seitan wings and covered half of them in chipotle peach bbq sauce, and the other half in this ghost pepper wing sauce. To make the wing sauce, I mixed equal parts melted margarine with some ghost pepper hot sauce that Julie made with a gifted ghost pepper, vinegar, water, and garlic. A little bit (start with a teaspoon or less) of xantham gum goes a long way to help make the wing sauce thicker.

2012.09_ghost pepper hot sauce
Photographing a bottle of hot sauce can be frustrating, so I turned it on its side...much better.

September 13, 2012

tis the season for pumpkin beer!

2012.09_upslope pumpkin ale
Thanks to the craft brewing movement, there are many great pumpkin beers out on the shelves this season.  This Upslope Pumpkin Ale was the 2011 winner in the "field" category at the Great American Beer Festival and it's brewed right here in Boulder!

September 12, 2012

homemade kvass

Well, I made some kvass. As you can see, it turned out a lot lighter in color than the kvass in Ukraine. Those are raisins floating in it, in case you were wondering (I was, since I had forgotten about adding the raisins). I followed this recipe. Here's the dark rye bread I made to flavor the kvass:
2012.09_kvass rye bread
Since I wanted carbonation, I followed the recipe variation that says "CAUTION: ONLY DO THIS IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING."

Now, I know what I'm doing, but after making kvass (and root beer and ginger beer previously), I can only conclude that making naturally carbonated sodas at home is scary and imprecise, especially if you're using glass bottles. The problem is: you want the soda to be sweet when done fermenting, so you add much more sugar than is needed for carbonation and plan to stop fermentation by putting the bottles in the fridge once there's enough carbonation. But fermentation times vary so much, it is hard to know when to fridge the bottles. If using a plastic bottle you can feel the pressure, but with our glass flip-tops, you can only know by opening them, thereby releasing the pressure. I fridged them after two days, but they had already fermented a lot and had to be opened carefully (I got sprayed in the face by the first one). At least there were no explosions... Some of the bottles required five whole minutes of bleeding pressure out before they could be safely opened!

Anyway, my strategy next time is to only add enough priming sugar to get the desired level of carbonation, and sweeten with an unfermentable sugar like xylitol or lactose. This is the strategy of cider-makers who want sweet cider without adding anything to kill the yeast, and beer-makers who add lactose (or originally whey) to make sweet milk stouts.

As for the flavor of the kvass, it wasn't as nice as I would have hoped. I might add molasses to the final product to give it a nice dark flavor. I did invent a kvass mixed drink: 1 glass of kvass + 1 shot of coffee liquer = caffass!

September 11, 2012

chilled ginger canteloupe soup

2012.09_chilled ginger canteloupe soup
I felt like I was making a smoothie when making this, but pouring it into a soup bowl somehow makes it different–gives you permission to eat it more slowly and savor it.

I would definitely make this again. It's a great way to use a canteloupe. The recipe is simple, just blend canteloupe with lemon juice, ginger, and a dash of salt. I garnished with some lemon cucumber and olive oil. I went heavy on the ginger and it was great.

September 10, 2012

bite-size caprese kabobs

2012.09_caprese kabobs My mom made these recently and I just had to recreate them myself. They are such a great way to enjoy the mini tomatoes and basil that are so plentiful this time of year. They are easy enough to make. Put the following on a toothpick:

sautéed veggie sausage
basil leaf
mini mozzarella ball
mini tomato half

and drizzle a mixture of balsamic vinegar and agave nectar over them. Putting them on the toothpick ensures you get an equally distributed bite of delicious ingredients.

September 9, 2012

how to make polish zapiekanke

We posted about enjoying the "zapiekanke" pizza bread we had in Krakow. It is basically pizza bread, but with sauteed mushroom paste instead of tomato sauce, topped with melted cheese and squirts of ketchup or other sauce (like hot sauce!). To make the mushroom paste, I picked up a pound of white mushrooms from the farmers market, chopped them finely in a food processor and sauteed with margerine, salt, and pepper. I froze a thin sheet of this in a freezer bag so I'll have some for later.

September 2, 2012

watermelon lime float

2012.09_watermelon lime float ingredients
I spent a leisurely afternoon at my neighborhood public library.  Among other things, I perused food magazines and spotted this watermelon float recipe in Bon Appetit.  Yum!!  It's a good thing I have plenty of watermelon at the moment!

The basic idea is to make watermelon juice by cutting up half a watermelon, removing the seeds, blending the remaining watermelon chunks, and straining out the pulp.  Then with your fresh watermelon juice, you add simple syrup, fresh lime juice, a pinch of salt, seltzer water, and lime ice cream.  Bon Appetit suggests flavoring Greek frozen yogurt with lime yourself, but since my grocery store already had key lime graham gelato on sale, I skipped that step.
 2012.09_watermelon lime float

jalapeno cream cheese

2012.09_jalapeno cream cheese
plain cream cheese + jalapenos + garlic powder + salt

September 1, 2012

linguine with eggplant tomato sauce

2012.09_linguine with eggplant tomato sauce
Pasta is such a satisfying comfort food! It is an extra special treat to be able to make the pasta sauce from scratch with local, seasonal produce.  What what?  Thank you Isabelle for the roma tomatoes, eggplant, leeks, and basil!