Sunday, January 29, 2012

Beet-chocolate cupcakes, goat cheese frosting


I got a few baby beets in my CSA box this week, but 1) I didn't really get enough for a substantial side dish and 2) my husband doesn't like beets. What do? Answer: bake cupcakes. I roasted the beets for a deep, slightly caramelized flavor, pureed them, and made them into a batter with coconut flour. The beet puree kept the cupcakes very moist so I didn't need much butter or oil.

Beets with goat cheese are a tried-and-true combination that seems to be a staple of fancy restaurants. So the beet cupcakes received a goat cheese frosting, similar to cream cheese frosting. I also added cocoa powder, because chocolate is tasty.

This recipe makes about a half dozen, but you can easily mulitply it. I baked 9 cupcakes but they were on the flat side. Next time I would bake 6 for fluffier cupcakes.

BEET-CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH GOAT CHEESE FROSTING
Makes 6 fluffy cupcakes or 9 flat cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

For the cupcakes:
  • Enough beets to yield 1/4 cup of puree (I used little baby beets so it's hard to say how much. One regular-sized beet should do it.)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used the natural kind as opposed to Dutch process because it has a lighter reddish color which complemented the beets)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-2 Tbs butter or other fat of choice, melted (tastier with 2 but 1 is enough to keep it moist, due to the beet puree)
  • Sweetener of choice to equal 2/3 cup sugar (I used powdered Truvia)
For the frosting:
  • 2 oz (weight) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz (weight) soft goat cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbs maple syrup (real or sugar-free)
  • Sweetener of choice to equal 2 Tbs sugar (anything but erythritol or Truvia would work, as it tends to crystallize in frosting)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Scrub the beet(s) well and coat with a thin layer of oil. Roast at 375 until soft enough that a knife easily pierces it and slides out. Set aside to cool (but keep oven at 375 for baking cupcakes), then rub the skin off with a paper towel. Puree in a food processor until smooth, adding a little bit of water if necessary.
  2. Beat the eggs with the melted butter or oil (and sweetener, if using liquid sweetener). Add all the dry ingredients and whisk well.
  3. Pour into well-greased muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
  4. For the frosting, beat the goat cheese and cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in the maple syrup and sweetener. Frost the cupcakes once they are completely cooled.
Variation: For a red velvet cake-esque flavor, substitute 1 Tbs cocoa powder + 1/4 tsp vanilla extract for the 1/4 cup cocoa powder.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Oven-roasted mustard greens with bacon


I got a HUGE bunch of mustard greens in my CSA box, and I wasn't quite sure what to do with them. Admittedly, of all the winter greens (kale, collard, etc), mustard greens are my least favorite. Sometimes I chop it up and add it to salads but I had so much that I wanted to make a side dish. My go-to method with veggies is to roast them, since they get all browned and caramelized. I wondered if this could work with mustard greens, and they turned out very nicely, with crunchy bits that reminded me of kale chips. And of course everything tastes better with bacon ;)

ROASTED MUSTARD GREENS WITH BACON
Serves about 4

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 large head mustard greens, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 slices of bacon (3 slices for a very large head of greens), cut crosswise into 1" pieces
  • Splash of vinegar (red wine, sherry, or balsamic)
  • Salt, pepper, and hot pepper flakes to taste (I love aleppo pepper)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. While oven is preheating, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Drain the bacon pieces, reserving the fat, and set the bacon aside. Toss the greens with the bacon grease along with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Roast the greens for 10-15 minutes or until starting to brown. Stir them around and roast for 5-10 minutes more.
  4. Remove from the oven, toss with a splash of vinegar, top with pepper flakes and reserved bacon, and serve.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My favorite meatloaf


I love making meatloaf: it's easy (WAY easier than meatballs), it freezes well, the leftovers taste good, and I can get grass-fed ground beef pretty easily. After much tweaking, this is the recipe I use.

For a long time, my husband was absolutely insistent that I add an envelope of onion soup mix whenever I make meatloaf (and I have to admit it does taste pretty good). I tried other options: fresh sauteed onions, onion powder, none of it was sufficient. However, I finally discovered an awesome alternative: Penzeys Fox Point seasoning. If you don't want to use it, you can (a) just use onion soup mix (b) make your own slightly-less-gnarly version of onion soup mix as per the Cook's Thesaurus recipe (scroll down to "onion soup mix"; vegetarian bouillon is usually just powdered veggies so I'd use that) or (c) just use salt and pepper instead.

I add a box of cooked and well-drained frozen spinach to this, just to add nutrition. I always keep boxes of spinach in the freezer because it's such a cheap and easy way to pack lots of green veggies into dishes like meatloaf, burgers, frittata, and so forth. I also use a bag of frozen mirepoix to keep things simple. The texture is kind of mushy but it's fine in meatloaf.

I've experimented with different grain-free binders including stuff like almond meal or coconut flour and ultimately my favorite is to use dried mushrooms that I grind to a powder, along with grated parmesan. These add flavor while also soaking up extra liquid. You could get away with excluding the dried mushrooms, but the loaf probably won't hold together as well. You might experiment with adding extra eggs and/or egg whites.

I like making an all-beef meatloaf because I can reliably get grass-fed ground beef (this week I got some from  Deep Creek Ranch via the Birdhouse Buying Club). Usually meatloaf mix also includes ground veal (and ground pork), which contains extra natural gelatin and contributes to moistness. To compensate, America's Test Kitchen suggests adding a little powdered gelatin to an all-beef loaf, so I do the same.

Really, it's just a solid base recipe that you can probably tweak to your heart's content! Meatloaf is really hard to mess up :)

MEATLOAF
Serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 10oz box frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 bag frozen mirepoix, OR 1 medium minced onion + 1 minced celery rib + 1 minced garlic clove + 2 Tbs parsley
  • Fat of choice for sauteeing the veggies
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp gelatin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3-4 Tbs Penzeys Fox Point seasoning or appropriate substitute (see description above for suggestions)
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce or tamari (strict soy/wheat/sugar avoiders can use Red Boat fish sauce instead)
  • 1 Tbs dijon mustard
  • 0.5 oz dried mushrooms (I used shittake), ground to a powder in a spice grinder or food processor
  • 1.5 oz (about 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs) grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 lbs ground beef
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cook the spinach according to package directions. Drain it VERY well by squeezing it against a sieve. Set aside.
  3. Saute the vegetables in a pan over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato paste, combine thoroughly, and take the pan off heat to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the broth in a very large bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients (including the reserved onion mixture and spinach) and combine very well using your hands.
  6. Pack the meat mixture into a loaf pan (or shape into a free-form loaf shape and set it on a baking sheet or broiler pan). Bake at 375 for an hour. Let cool for 10-20 minutes before slicing. Serve with mashed faux-tatoes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Homemade beer (or cider) mustard


When I found out how easy it is to make mustard from scratch, I had to try it. My husband also doubles as my sommelier so I told him to pick out a beer that would work well in a mustard. After tasting a bunch, he decided on the Titan IPA for the combination of hop flavor with sweet malty-ness. You could certainly substitute any beer that you think would work, or use a hard cider instead if you are particularly strict about avoiding grains (though fermentation can actually be beneficial when it comes to grains!).

HOMEMADE BEER MUSTARD
Makes about 1.5 cups

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/4 cup (about 1.5 oz) yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup (about 1.5 oz) brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup beer or hard cider
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar (or other mild vinegar)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Pinch of xanthan gum (about 1/8 tsp) (totally optional; helps with emulsification and thickening)
DIRECTIONS
Combine all the ingredients in a container with an airtight lid. Let it sit for about two days. Throw everything in a blender and blend until desired consistency. It will not get completely smooth. I used a Ninja, if you use a regular blender you will probably have to blend for a little while. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Simple sauteed cabbage with cider and horseradish


Soooo...I know that I've been pretty absent lately. No good excuse really; for a while, I had lost my camera battery and kind of allowed myself to get out of the habit of blogging my meals. So I am trying to form that habit once again :) The other thing is, lately I've been on a kick of making very simple meals that are uncomplicated and just showcase good ingredients. I'm usually not compelled to post simple stuff, but I realized that my favorite food blogs that I find myself visiting time and time again tend to be ones which post a lot of simpler recipes that let the ingredients shine (lately I love Nom Nom Paleo, Primal Palate, and A Veggie Venture), so why not do the same? Maybe someone will enjoy it.

So here you go. I needed a side dish to serve with some bratwurst and I had a nice head of Savoy cabbage. This is what I made.

SAUTEED CABBAGE WITH CIDER AND HORSERADISH
Serves about 6 as a side

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 small head of Savoy cabbage (or half a large head), shredded
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs bacon grease (or substitute butter; I had some bacon grease in the fridge)
  • 1/2 cup hard cider (try to find one with no added sugar)
  • 1 Tbs finely grated horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp arrowroot or tapioca flour (or use 1 tsp regular or gluten-free flour, or just leave it out)
  • Salt to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper (optional)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat the bacon grease or butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until just soft and translucent. Add the cabbage and stir to combine.
  2. Cook until the cabbage is soft but not overcooked, stirring occasionally. I actually prefer not stirring the cabbage much so that it browns on the bottom.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the cider, horseradish, and arrowroot or flour (if using). Pour the mixture over the cabbage and onions and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Let it cook for a minute or so or until mostly evaporated.
  4. Salt to taste and serve, optionally sprinkled with pepper flakes.

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