Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Maple Almond Granola

I usually never buy real maple syrup... it's just SO expensive and there's no way around it.  Even when we go to the Highland County Maple Festival I've refrained from buying the freshly made syrup because I'm just too cheap.  But, with "free money" left to spend at Arganica from the Groupon I purchased, I decided to go for the splurge and ordered a pint of local maple syrup.  It's been amazing on pancakes, but I wanted to find some more uses for it, now that I actually have it available for once in my life.  First up: maple almond granola!
4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 1/2 cups chopped or sliced almonds
1/3-1/2 cup real maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want the granola to be)
1/3 cup natural unsweetened peanut butter (or almond butter!)
1 T vegetable or canola oil
pinch of salt
1/2 t almond extract
1 cup dried fruit

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Combine the oats, wheat germ, flax, and almonds in a large bowl.  
In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, and vegetable oil.  Microwave for 20 seconds and stir well.  The microwaving softens the peanut butter making it easier to mix together.  Add the pinch of salt and almond extract and stir to combine.  
Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with your hands until it is all evenly coated.  Spread the granola out over a large rimmed baking sheet, or two smaller ones.  You could alternatively use a casserole dish.

Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.  Stir.  Continue baking for 10 minute increments, stirring in between until it is all evenly golden and toasted. It should take about 40 minutes total, more or less.  Remove and cool.  See the color difference?
When it is cooled, mix in the dry fruit, and store in a sealed container or zip lock bag.  Enjoy for breakfast, for a snack, or even for dessert!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Apple-Curry Quinoa

This is my go-to recipe for quinoa as a side dish, and goes especially great with pork.  Apples and pork are a classic combo which is why I think this quinoa dish works so well with it.  The flavors of curry and mint add a unique twist, and the sweet agave nectar and crunchy almonds really round out the dish.  And best of all, it is healthy!  This is a really good alternative to your usual potato or rice side dish - it tastes great and everyone will be impressed by the amazing and fresh flavor combination.
1 1/2 cups pre-rinsed quinoa
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 t salt
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T olive oil
1/4 t pepper
1 1/2 t curry powder
1/2 t cumin
1 T agave nectar or honey
2 T minced shallot
1/3 cup mint leaves, chopped
1 apple, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped or sliced almonds
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Bring the chicken broth and salt to a boil, and add quinoa.  Simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.  Fluff with a fork and leave covered until you are ready to add the rest of the ingredients.  In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, oil, pepper, curry powder, cumin, agave nectar, and shallot.    Whisk this sauce together until it is well-incorporated.  

Pour over the quinoa and stir to combine.  Next, add the apple and mint, and finally the almonds and cranberries if using.  Mix well, taste for more salt, and serve hot or cold.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kimchi-Bacon Noodles

Kimchi and bacon are really a great combination.  The spicy and tangy cabbage mixed with salty smoky bacon is seriously delicious.  Not surprisingly, this recipe came from Serious Eats.  I had been wanting to make it for a while, and after ordering a fresh jar of organic kimchi and a thick slab of bacon from Arganica, I was ready and armed.  This is a recipe where the taste of the kimchi can really change the flavor of the dish, so taste it first to get an idea of what else you may need to add or forgo.   I couldn't find gochujang, a Korean hot pepper paste, so I improvised with my own mixture of ingredients we had on hand.  It turned out amazing, I have to say... though it's hard to mess up when bacon is involved.
Ingredients(after making it once, I recommend doubling the recipe because you will want leftovers!)
8 ounces thin spaghetti 
6 ounces bacon, chopped 
1 cup kimchi, chopped 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 T miso paste
1 T sriracha (hot pepper sauce- reduce this if you want it less spicy
1 t rice vinegar
1 t sesame oil
(you can replace above 4 ingredients with 2 T gochujang if you have it)
1 tablespoon butter 
2 scallions, green parts only, chopped 
Sesame seeds, for garnish 
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta until al dente, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water.  Drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is crisp.  Remove it with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in the pan. 

In a small bowl, combine the miso, sriracha, vinegar, and sesame oil and stir to combine. 
Add the kimchi and garlic to the skillet and cook for about one minute before adding the sauce mixture.

Add the pasta to the skillet and stir until well combined.  Add the butter and stir the pasta as it melts.  Taste for salt and pepper. 
Serve with green onions and bacon, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Yum!

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I've always loved fresh bagels, and bagels in general were a staple for me growing up.  I would eat bagel sandwiches, toasted bagels with American cheese, bagels with peanut butter, with honey-butter, with cream cheese, breakfast bagel sandwiches... the list goes on and on.   I still remember watching a cooking show when I was in high school on PBS (we had about 8 channels) and the chef made bagels from scratch.  I decided at that moment that I would try and make my own bagels.  It did seem a bit complicated though...  About 10 years later I finally accomplished that goal, after being inspired by a recipe on Serious Eats that made it look so easy.   I've made them twice now, and while it takes effort, it is definitely worth the result.  Bagels fresh from the oven, with any topping you want.  This is a great way to impress your guests for brunch, or to enjoy all by yourself!  We had these with some cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, green onion, and sliced shallot.  After a day, they are best toasted. 

Ingredients: (Makes 8 medium sized bagels)   
530g bread flour (3 1/2 cups)
7 g instant dry yeast (2 1/2 t; or 1 envelope active dry)  
43g sugar (2 T) 
16g salt (1 t) 
340g hot water (1 1/2 cups, 120°–130°F)
2 T molasses or malt syrup (for the boiling water)
1 egg beaten with 1 t water (optional, for toppings)
Toppings (such as sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion or garlic flakes, cinnamon & sugar, or whatever else you would like) 
*NOTE* if you want to make them ahead of time and cook the following day, there is an alternative method, using ice cold water instead of hot water.  Instructions for both methods included. 

Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and stir until combined. Slowly add the water, while stirring.  Once all the water has been added and all of the flour is incorporated, begin to knead the dough for 5-7 minutes, until soft and elastic. I had to add a few more teaspoons of flour as I was kneading when it got too sticky.  Alternatively, you could do this in a food processor.  I did it by hand and it worked out fine.  
Transfer dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. For the make-ahead version, you skip this step and form the bagels immediately.  Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.  Between your hands, roll each piece of dough into a thick rope, long enough to wrap into a circle with a hole in the middle of about 1 inch diameter.  Connect the two ends of the rope and pinch the dough together so that it sticks into a circle.  
Place the bagels on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Cover with plastic wrap.  If you did these the night before, place the tray into the fridge until the next day.  If not, leave them out on the counter until your water comes to a boil.
If you formed the bagels the night before, take them out of the fridge to come to room temperature for one and a half hours before you cook them.  They should rise slightly during this time.  
Prepare the boiling water: Add the malt syrup or molasses to 6 quarts of water over high heat and let it come to a boil as the bagels rise for an additional 10 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the bagels into the boiling water, 2 at a time.  Let them boil for 1 minute, and flip them to boil with the other side up for 30 seconds more.  Remove them from the water with a skimmer and set them on a dry kitchen towel while you continue with the next batch. 

After all the bagels have boiled, place them back on the wax paper covered baking sheet and brush with the egg wash.  Sprinkle your toppings over the bagels generously.  We used sesame and poppy seeds this time.  
Place the bagels on a sil-pat covered baking sheet.  (If you don't have a sil-pat, just use a regular baking sheet)  
Bake until golden and shiny, about 20-25 minutes.  If you are using a sil-pat, the bagels will be evenly browned on both the top and the bottom.  If not, you may want to flip the bagels at the 20 minute mark and cook with the opposite side up for an additional 10 minutes.
Let the bagels cool for at least 15 minutes before eating.  Serve with your favorite cream cheese or other goodies such as smoked salmon as seen below.  If you are missing a local bagel shop like our neighborhood is, you should really give these a try!