Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Bananas

I LOVE frozen chocolate bananas (in theory), but the thing I hate about them is that they're fucking frozen.
Seriously, they are way too hard, and if I wait until they soften a bit, well, I'll just be holding a frozen banana for longer than I feel comfortable with. In addition, chocolate covered bananas are just too delicious to wait for. 

Don't freeze it! Dip a very cold banana, one that's been sitting in the freezer for long enough that it has started to freeze, in a bath of chocolate a little coconut oil and you'll get an incredible, delightfully textured treat decorated with nuts, shaved coconut, sprinkles or anything your little heart desires. I'll never freeze another banana ever again. Truth.

Chocolate Dipped Bananas

4 bananas
8 popsicle sticks
3 cups 60% chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons coconut oil
Topping Ideas
Chopped toasted nuts, toasted coconut, cookie crumbs, chocolate chips, sprinkles, white chocolate drizzle or multi-chocolate drizzle, just to name a few.

Peel and cut the bananas in half crosswise, so that you have 8 pieces and place the posicle sticks in deep enough so that it wont come out when you dip them.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place bananas in the freezer on the sheet pan for at least 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the chopped chocolate in a double boiler with the coconut oil, stirring occasionally until shiny and not too hot. Transfer to a large measuring cup or tall mason jar with enough room for dipping. Let it cool slightly while you prepare your toppings.

Remove the tray from the freezer and carefully, but quickly dip the bananas into the chocolate, letting the excess drip off before they are rolled or sprinkled with toppings. Place them back on the sheet tray and back in the freezer for at least another 15-20 minutes. They can stay in the freezer for up to an hour after dipping before they become too hard.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Gluten Free Nectarine Polenta Muffins with Blackberry Butter

I went a little crazy at the Farmer's market last week. 
But who can resist perfectly lined baskets of berries and plump, ripe heirloom tomatoes in every shade and hue? One would think that they were shopping for shoes instead of produce.

As we looked around, into my basket went perfectly sweet white corn, vibrant zucchini, yellow peaches that rivaled the perfume of my grandfather's tree, Bing cherries, a jewel-toned red onion, lettuce, peas, a basket of strawberries that ended up being an impulse buy right at the end, as well as a tempting little brioche (for me, not my gluten free love), and we drove off happy with ourselves ready to eat all of it in it's ripe, raw glory.

Cut to: Thursday when all of a sudden I'm looking at steadily ripening peaches, and a whole bag of cherries that seemed like a good idea at the time, I thought, "Uh, I think I went a little crazy at the Farmer's market." And I got to work making some of my favorite Farmer's market seasonal recipes to finish out the week. But that's another post!

Finally, I finished my veggies, now onto the last of it...those two nectarines that have been neglected all week because they were just under-ripe when I bought them. They now are super-sweet because of the warm weather and have been made into muffins. The polenta adds an amazing texture, and the blackberry butter from jam I made from the last crazed F.M. shopping spree, just makes everything better. 

Nectarine Polenta Muffins (makes 12)
1 ¾ cups Cup4Cup
¾ cup polenta
½ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Zest of ½ an orange
1 cup milk
2 eggs
¼ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon almond extract
1- 1 ½ cups nectarines, diced
¼ cup sliced almonds and 1 tablespoon of sugar
Preheat the oven to 375°

1.     Combine the Cup4Cup, polenta, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and zest in a large bowl and mix well.
2.     In a smaller bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk, eggs, buttermilk, butter and extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.
3.     Gently fold in the nectarines and portion into a muffin pan.
4.     Top with the sliced almonds and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
5.     Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the top springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
6.     Once slightly cooled, remove the muffins from the pan and let them sit on a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm or with blackberry butter.

Blackberry Butter
4 tablespoons of butter mixed with 1 heaping tablespoon of blackberry jam and a pinch of salt.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Strawberry Milk

When I was young, I would spend the summer days at my grandparent's house when my parents worked. I would arrive early in the morning and go back to sleep in the spare bedroom which I heard some years later, that it was haunted by the spirit of a, right?

Mid-morning, my uncle would arrive for a visit, and bonus, he brought my cousins with him. These girls were my partners in crime and their arrival signified a much needed break in the otherwise boring day at my grandparents house. Once we played tag in the yard, watched the one episode of Sesame Street that was allowed and played whatever make-believe game we conjured up, it was time for a snack.
What we ate, I don't remember, but what I do remember is the canister of Strawberry Quick milk drink powder set out on the table and how I was not fond of it at all. No one liked it, all the kids wanted chocolate, why the fake strawberry crap, grandma? I don't know and in taking one sip of the stuff, my young taste buds were indignant. Why, oh why was it the only thing we had to drink other than plain milk...which was gross. Duh.

Feeling rather nostalgic lately, I wanted strawberry milk, but what I wanted was a full-flavored drink made with real strawberries. Not"natural" flavoring with red no. 40.
Because I am a grown-ass adult now, I'd like my strawberry milk a little more complex too, with another element of flavor. So I steeped the milk with a bit of lavender and let it chill before I added the strawberry syrup.You don't have too though, and it will be just as lovely.

Strawberry Milk
1 Pint Strawberries, sliced
1/2  cup Sugar
Milk or milk alternative

1. Let the strawberries marinate in the sugar to release the natural juices.
2. Puree the strawberries until smooth.
3. Strain the puree in a fine mesh strainer.
4. In a sauté pan over medium high heat, bring the puree to a boil, stirring occasionally.
5. Once the mixture becomes foamy, it will begin to gel. Continue to stir quickly to prevent scorching.
6. Reduce the mixture by half and the color will be a deep red and the scent will gloriously fill your kitchen. Chill completely.

7. Mix as much strawberry sauce as you want into a glass of milk and stir. Strain into glasses if desired, otherwise, pour into glasses and stick a straw in it! Enjoy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mango Shrimp Lettuce Wraps-What's Your Favorite Way to Eat a Mango?

This is a quick, simple recipe using our incredible Manila Mangoes, on Sale today at Whole Foods Market!

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined with the tails removed
2 Manila mangoes, cubed
1 cup English cucumber, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 Thai chili pepper, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
1 head butter lettuce
1 head radicchio 
1 avocado
Sesame Seeds
Health Starts Here Sesame Ginger Dressing

1. Grill or sear the shrimp until they are fully cooked. Set in the refrigerator to chill, and make the filling.
2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except the sesame seeds and dressing. Toss to combine.
3. Separate 4 leaves from each the butter lettuce and radicchio and set one piece of the radicchio on the lettuce. 
4. Place the lettuce cups on a serving platter and fill with the mango mixture. Divide the shrimp among the cups and garnish with avocado and sesame seeds.
5. Serve with the dressing and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Gluten Free Maple Bacon Chicken and Waffles

It has been quite a challenge to find good gluten free menu options at our local restaurants. Generally, T has to order a salad without dressing and an appetizer to piece together a meal when we go out. I have taken this especially hard, since I do not need to follow a gluten free diet and when we find ourselves craving something we used to eat and enjoy, well, I need to find a way to bring it back. 
Mussels in White Wine Sauce with Linguine, Po' Boy Sandwiches, Chicken n Waffles; I'm sure you see where I'm going.

Recently, I received somewhat of a "starter kit" from Bob's Red Mill containing gluten free flours, all of which I used to create these recipes and to which I am incredibly grateful for. I know I'm not the first gal to create a gluten free waffle recipe, or a gluten free fried chicken recipe, but here's my thing...

It's gotta be good. I have to feel like I could have walked into a restaurant, ordered and eaten the best damn Gluten Free Chicken n Waffles ever. So in combination with my green smoothies, an occasional brunch of chicken n waffles is fine by me, and now, fine by my gluten free love.

...I probably should just open a restaurant and call it, "The Best Damn Gluten Free Restaurant Ever"

To get everything done at the same time, measure all of the ingredients, then begin cooking.  The bacon can sit the longest, so that should be done first, the chicken takes the longest to cook, so that can be done while the bacon is in the oven.

For the Fried Chicken
6 boneless chicken thigh pieces
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup potato starch
½ cup tapioca flour
¼ cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1.    Lay the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound the chicken until it is just flattened. Don’t over do it!
2.    In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, black pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
3.    Combine all of the remaining dry ingredients and mix well.
4.    Preheat oil in a skillet to about 260°
5.    While the oil is almost to the correct temperature, dip the chicken into the flour mixture, then into the buttermilk.  Let the excess buttermilk drain off, then toss back in the flour. Set the pieces in the oil to fry until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes per side.
For the Maple Bacon Waffles:
6-8 slices bacon
¼ cup maple sugar (or dark brown sugar)
1 cup white rice flour
¼ cup coconut flour
½ cup potato starch
¼ cup tapioca flour
¼ cup non fat dry milk powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 ½-2 cups whole milk
1 Tablespoon maple sugar (or dark brown sugar)
Preheat oven to 400°

1.    Place a baking rack over a foil lined baking pan and set aside. Coat the bacon on both sides with maple sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer the bacon to a plate lined with parchment paper to cool.
2.    Coarsely chop the bacon and set aside while you make the waffle batter.
3.    In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix the butter, eggs, 1 ½ cups of milk and maple sugar.
4.    Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth. If the batter is too dry, stir in the extra milk. The batter should be pourable.
Stir in the chopped bacon, and then pour the batter onto the waffle iron.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Oranges

I love what I do.

I cook, for a living in a beautiful kitchen where I have access to the best ingredients available.

I teach people my philosophies of food.
   1. Start with quality ingredients and make them taste like better versions of themselves.
   2. Cook it yourself. Cooking shows are fine for inspiration, but you have to cook what you see. Get creative.
   3. Involve everyone. Preparing meals shouldn't just be one person's job. Bring the kids into it all the time, and certainly make it possible for people to begin feeding themselves when you're not home. ;) 

I develop recipes to inspire people to cook and say, "I never knew making that was so easy" whether it is gluten free, paleo, using alternative ingredients or ingredients people may not know could be intensely tofu.

I write pages of technique, I write stories about my Dad, I write for OriginalCinn and for How to Feed Yourself When I'm Not Home. I love to write.

I meet and interact with interesting people with amazing stories and products. Between the bloggers I've met, the food producers, the chefs and the super cool people I speak with to on a daily basis about food, I am so lucky.

I saw Nigella Lawson's Spanish Chicken dish when I was googling gluten free, or paleo or something and I thought it sounded like an incredible dish with so many flavors and textures. I also wanted to do a little recipe testing to make sure I could write a recipe that was similar, definitely adapted, but with my own flavor preferences. We made this in a recent Cooking Skills class where each student broke down an entire chicken, then took it home. This is what we made that night.

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Oranges
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
(Makes 6 servings)

3 chicken thighs/legs with skin and bone still on (6 pieces total)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
12oz chorizo, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound (about 6) Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 red onion, cut into large slices
1 yellow onion, cut into large slices
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
grated zest of 1 orange
2 oranges (preferably Cara Cara) each cut into 6 pieces
Fresh parsley for garnish.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

1.     Rinse and pat dry the chicken and rub them with the first 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper and place on a large, foil-lined baking pan.
2.     Scatter the chorizo around the chicken.
3.     In a large bowl combine the potatoes, onions, garlic, oil, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon paprika and mix until evenly coated. Scatter all around the pan and adjust the chicken so it is not covered by any of the vegetable pieces.
4.     Zest the orange over the entire pan, sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon paprika over the chicken and bake for 1 hour.
Serve with orange wedges to squeeze over dish.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Grapefruit Margaritas with Citrus-Vanilla Syrup

Usually citrus season comes and I want to make infused pot de cremes, little cookies speckled with zest or cakes flavored with bright lemon.

But seriously, I needed a drink so instead, I invited citrus season to cocktails. California has been so delightfully warm lately (delightful despite the subsequent drought) and I wanted to enjoy a cocktail out on the patio. I came home from the Mexican market with some citrus and some tequila and the rest goes like this...

In a large mason jar, start with the juice of two freshly squeezed grapefruits then add the juice of one lime and half an orange. Pour in two (or just slightly more than two) shots of tequila. For this, I used my family's favorite, Casadores! Next, add about 3oz of citrus-vanilla syrup (recipe below), 5 ice cubes and then close up the jar.

Next, rim two, 4oz glasses with a quarter slice of lemon and dip the glass into vanilla sugar (my vanilla sugar is made from leftover vanilla pods and a really tasty Mexican sugar called "azucar morena". It is basically a finer demarara sugar but available in my local market). Fill the glasses with ice, a quarter slice of orange and a thin slice of lime. Fix the quarter slice of lemon to the rim.

Shake the mason jar and watch the vanilla beans spin around with the pink cocktail and then pour the margarita into the glasses. You will probably want to double the recipe, because they are so delicious to enjoy with friends on a warm afternoon.

Citrus Vanilla Syrup
1 cup of sugar
1/2 a vanilla bean, seeds scraped out and pod reserved
1cup of water
3 slices of fresh valencia orange
half a lime, sliced
half a lemon, sliced

1. In a small pot, work the vanilla seeds into the sugar with your fingers. Add the empty pod to the pot and pour in the water.
2. Nestle the citrus into the pot and turn the heat on to medium-high heat. Once the syrup has come to a boil, turn of the heat and remove from the burner. Steep the fruit and vanilla in the syrup for 10 minutes and then strain into a container. Cool, then chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours before use. 
The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.

(Note: Letting the syrup boil for too long will break up the fruit fiber too much and make your syrup cloudy.)

Friday, January 10, 2014

My Green Smoothie Awakening

Adapt and evolve.
It is the only way to survive. In a restaurant kitchen, I adapted by developing a pretty impressive potty mouth and learned how to drink whiskey and by working really fucking hard. At this point in my life, I have come to realize that evolving is a process that is constant. It involves self-awareness, the mental and emotional capacity to call things what they are and the ability to address what needs to be changed and actually do it.

OriginalCinn is many things right now. Given the myriad of things on my plate at the moment, it will have to evolve to continue to be my creative outlet. It will be a place to share my new gluten free recipes, as my lovely wife has discovered she has a gluten intolerance. It will be a place to say "see you later" to my Dad to be able to cope with the pain of losing him. It will also be a place to use some of the super cool stuff we got for our wedding! OriginalCinn will continue to evolve because it is what I need to be able to adapt.

Moving on...
Funny story: The other day I came home in a tremendous mood! I was joking, smiling...being cheeky. My wife, who is now accustomed to me coming home much less chipper stopped me mid-story as I was fixing dinner and said, "Wait. A green smoothie? is THAT why you're, uh, normal? You had a green smoothie?" She was right. Casually I had mentioned my lunch time concoction. Kale, peaches, a banana, coconut water and apple juice made all the difference in my mood and energy that day. It brought me back to life. Having been very ill from stress over the Holidays fueled my green smoothie awakening. Something had to change, and it was kale.

Peachy Green (My favorite Whole Foods Market green smoothie, with a few additions)

Add all of this stuff to a blender to make a 16oz. smoothie.
  • 1 1/4 cups Frozen Kale
  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen peaches
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 cup apple juice
Blend it up smooth, then resist the urge to punch through walls with all of the energy you have.