This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #NewWayToSparkle #CollectiveBias
There is something special about kicking up one's heals with a glass full of something sweet and bubbly. For those who choose to forego the typical fizzy libations the holiday season can present somewhat of a challenge. Creative soft drinks, like the recipe I'm sharing today, are a great way to include guests of all ages and all beverage preferences to participate in the revelry of holiday parties, social gatherings, and simple celebrations.
It's a new way to sparkle.
This recipe combines Lime flavored DASANI® Sparkling with a sweet and tart homemade cranberry lime sorbetto. DASANI® Sparkling has a mild natural flavor, plenty of peppy carbonation, and most importantly for this recipe, no added sugar. That gives you the ability to modify the drink to your own taste as far as sweetness goes. Add as much or as little sorbetto as you please to craft a quick custom mocktail that is light, refreshing, and completely party-worthy.
I've included a recipe for handmade sorbetto but store bought sorbetto or sorbet will work nicely too. Try making this recipe your own by using a different flavor of sorbetto or another flavor of DASANI® Sparkling.
Cranberry Lime Sorbetto
Makes about 3 cups
- 1 10-oz (284g) bag frozen whole cranberries
- 4 cups water, divided
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 cup sugar
- Combine cranberries with 3 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove cranberries and cooking liquid from saucepan and set aside to cool.
- Add remaining 1 cup water and sugar to saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, stir, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Let ingredients cool for about 15 minutes. Place cranberries with cooking liquid in blender and puree for 2 minutes, or until smooth.
- Push pureed cranberries through fine mesh strainer to remove seeds and solid portions. Discard solids and combine liquid with water and sugar mixture (simple syrup).
- Chill mixture in refrigerator for at least one hour before pouring into ice cream maker. Churn 45 minutes, or according to machine directions.
- Freeze churned sorbetto for at least 4 hours before using/serving.
Cranberry Lime Sorbetto Fizz
Makes two small servings
- 2-4 scoops cranberry lime sorbetto
- 1 12-ounce can DASANI® Sparkling Lime
- 2 slices lime, for garnish (optional)
- 6 fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)
- Scoop 1 or 2 scoops cranberry lime sorbetto into highball glasses. 1 scoop will lend mild sweetness. Add 2 for a sweeter drink.
- Pour 6 ounces DASANI® Sparkling Lime into each glass.
- Garnish with lime and cranberries. Serve immediately.
I purchased the ingredients for this recipe at my local Target. You can find plenty of flavors of DASANI® Sparkling in their soft drink section. Dasani recently added a 20-ounce can of DASANI® Sparkling to their line which you'll find over near the checkout. That's the perfect size for grabbing on your way out the door.
C and I spend quite a lot of time at Target these days. Being able to make one stop to pick up groceries, go clothes shopping, or even scope out art supplies is pretty key to our existence right now. It helps that C loves exploring the store too - so it isn't a battle to get him to come with me.
Getting him to leave the toy section? That's another story.
Have fun with your mocktails! I hope this recipe will help make your celebrations a little sweeter! You can find even more fun recipes using DASANI® Sparkling here.
Oh avocado. You are a marvelous thing, aren't you? Mashed and swirled with lime you become a tasty chippable dip. Blended into soups or smoothies you lend a smooth richness on par with butter or cream. Spread on toast you are better than butter - adept at matching nearly any flavor you choose to accompany.
I think I love you, avocado. And so today I spread you, like the aforementioned dairy-based treat, over a hunk of grainy toast before covering you in black eyed peas. They are good luck, you know - particularly at New Years.
Texas Caviar Toast
Makes five 1-slice servings
- 5 large slices of whole grain bread
- 1 medium or large sized avocado, ripe (medium-soft)
- 1 1/2 cups Texas Caviar (recipe here)
- Salt, lime juice, or hot sauce, to taste (optional)
- Toast bread slices until golden-brown.
- Cut open avocado, remove pit, then score into thin slices using a butter knife. Scoop out flesh using a spoon, then spread over the toast slices with the butter knife.
- Divide the Texas Caviar evenly over the six slices of bread. Squirt with lime or hot sauce and sprinkle with salt if you so choose.
- Devour promptly.
I'm probably not the only one whose most ingrained memories of the holiday season revolve around food. There are certain recipes that bring me right back to a lifetime of crowded Thanksgiving tables and bustling Christmas Kitchens. My Grandfather's lobster bisque, my Mother's eggnog sugar cookies, and my Dad's Belgian waffles are just a few that come to mind.
It's not just the memories, or even the flavors that designate certain recipes as holiday foods. It's also the time and care involved in the preparation of these treats. It's not everyday that we spend hours working on a meal for our loved ones. (At least it isn't for me.) In a world where almost anything can be delivered to your door the act of cooking something from scratch is truly an act of love. That's what the holidays are all about, right?
Over the years I've noticed a few new recipes making it into the holiday rotation. I guess that's a sort of rite of passage in our family - making your own mark on the family table. I wonder which recipes my son will remember when he grows up? Maybe his mama's Almond Cake?
Nut cakes, like this one, have become coveted holiday treats in our household over the past few years. My husband is especially fond of them so I make sure to bake one for him every Christmas. They take a little extra effort and the cost of ingredients is on the dear side, so this isn't the kind of cake I throw together for just anything. It is a decidedly celebratory confection, and with over a full pound of almonds in every batch it is more than gift-worthy!
One step in this recipe that may be new to you is blanching almonds. It is a little bit time consuming, but like I said, this is holiday baking, so pour yourself a nice little glass of something, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to embrace the extra effort. The result will be well worth the extra ten minutes this step will take you.
How to Blanch Almonds
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.
- Drop the almonds into the water and boil for three minutes.
- Drain the almonds into a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cool enough to handle.
- Pick up a small handful of almonds and rub them between your palms. The peels should slide off easily.
- Separate the peels from the naked almonds and repeat until you've disrobed them all.
I used Organic Whole Wheat Flour to bind this cake. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Flour is stone ground from organic hard red wheat and has all of the nutritious bran and germ still intact. Nothing is lost in the process of grinding the flour! I often replace all or part of the flour in my baking recipes with Whole Wheat Flour. It's robust flavor does a great job of toning down baked goods that are overly sweet and adds a boost of vitamins, minerals and protein to my recipes.
If you are new to using Organic Whole Wheat Flour in sweets and desserts, fear not. The rule of substitution is fairly simple. In most cases you can swap Organic Whole Wheat Flour for the entire portion of All-Purpose Flour in a recipe. Using the Organic Whole Wheat Flour will result in a slightly nuttier, and somewhat heartier final product.
In my opinion, this added nuttiness often improves things like fruit cakes, quick breads, muffins, and chocolate chip cookies. For more delicate recipes, like cupcakes or sugar cookies, try substituting only half of the All-Purpose Flour with Organic Whole Wheat Flour. Bob's Red Mill is offering a printable coupon so you can give this a try with your next batch of baked goodies.
After you are finshed making these cakes you will have plenty of Organic Whole Wheat Flour leftover to experiment with. It is perfect for bread-baking. I highly recommend blending it into your pretzels, pizza crusts, and stromboli.
Whole Grain Mini Almond Pound Cakes
Makes five mini loaves
This rich, buttery pound cake is made with whole wheat flour and blanched almonds. Try replacing all or a portion of the almonds with another nut such as pistachio, hazelnut, or pecan. This cake is delicious the day it is baked but reaches its prime about three days after baking. The nut oils condense the cake, making the texture extra dense. Serve alone, or with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
For the cake:
- 16 ounces blanched almonds
- 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- the grated zest of 1 lemon
- 3 sticks (3/4 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- the grated zest of 1 lemon
- the juice of 2 lemons
- 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- Preheat the oven to 325 F.
- Grease and flour five mini loaf pans then set them on top of a baking sheet. Set aside.
- Finely chop the almonds using a food processor. They should be chopped until they reach a uniform, sand-like texture.
- Combine the whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Whisk together.
- Mix the sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Once blended, add the butter and cream on medium-high until light and fluffy (about three minutes).
- Reduce the speed of the mixer then add the eggs one at a time. Follow with the extracts.
- Add the chopped almonds followed by the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
- Scoop the batter evenly into the five loaf pans.
- Bake for sixty minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of one cake. The toothpick will come out dry when the cake has finished baking.
- Allow the cakes to cool on the pan for about fifteen minutes. After that, turn them out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
- To make the topping, combine the sugar, lemon zest, and juice in a small saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and allow the syrup to simmer for ten minutes. Turn off the heat, add the almonds, and stir to coat them well.
- Spread the coated almonds over the tops of the cooled cakes.
I had never really heard of black eyed peas until I moved to Texas. I guess my childhood in the northeast left my bean horizons sadly unexplored. I'll have to lodge a complaint with my parents for stunting my bean education so badly. Lucky for CC he is growing up in Austin where no variety of produce goes unsung.
So what's up with black eyed peas? These starchy little beans hold up quite well in hot weather, making them a staple in gardens throughout the southern states. Even I couldn't kill them! Black eyed peas have a very mild flavor and a pleasantly tender bite, and they are as easy to cook as they are to grow.
My favorite way to enjoy black eyed peas is in a simple cold salad called Texas Caviar. It's quite similar in nature to a Three Bean salad - dressed in a sweet and salty vinaigrette and tossed with veggies. Texas Caviar adds a pinch of heat though, and depending on which family recipe you are using, it often includes an unexpected ingredient like jicama, sweet corn, or in this case, mango.
I really love the combination of sweet and spicy flavors in my Texas Caviar, so this recipe uses fresh diced mango. You could easily replace the mango with another sweet tart fruit such as peach, nectarine, or pineapple. When I make this I use the full four tablespoons of minced jalapeño, but feel free to use half as much or omit it all-together if you'd prefer something not so hot.
The addition of fresh cilantro, chives, or scallions in this salad is great too. When you've put it all together you can enjoy it as a fresh summery side dish, a quick lunch, or even a dip. Texas Caviar goes great with crunchy tortilla or pita chips.
Black Eyed Pea & Mango Salad (Mango Texas Caviar)
Makes about eight 1/2 cup servings
- 1 1/2 cups black eyed peas, cooked
- 1 cup diced mango
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup dice green pepper
- 1/2 cup diced onion (red or white)
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- The juice of 1 lime
- 2-4 tablespoons minced pickled jalapeño
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- If you are using fresh black eyed peas, boil them until they become tender (about 15 minutes), then rinse them with cold water, and drain. Dried peas will have to be soaked overnight before cooking. If you are using canned peas you will not need to cook them, but they should be rinsed well to remove any extra sodium.
- Combine the black eyed peas, mango, bell peppers, onion, jalapeño, and garlic in a large mixing bowl.
- In a second bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. You can serve this immediately but I think it tastes a little better if it has an hour or so to chill in the fridge.
Do you know what I miss most about growing up in the Northeast? I miss the bread. The bagels, the hard rolls, the pretzels! It's just not the same anywhere else. Actually, I take that back - at least partially. I did encounter the same kind of bread outside of the tri-state (CT, NY, NJ) area once. It was during my trip to Italy - where I often turned a corner to discover a scene that could have been mistaken for my childhood in Yonkers. I'm not Italian by blood, but I am fairly certain my heart was adopted by way of my stomach long ago.
Anyway, bread. Oh bread! It's a wonder how the simple combination of flour and water can be transformed into so many amazing variations. It seems like the tiniest variance in recipe or technique results in a completely different product. Take pretzels and bagels for example. They are both simple yeasted breads that are boiled before being baked - yet they are each utterly unique foods.
The following recipe uses a soft pretzel to pay homage to its marvelous cousin, the Everything Bagel. (Don't get me started waxing poetic over Everything Bagels. I could go on and on.) The pretzels are rolled tightly into buns and then topped with an aromatic mixture of seeds, salt, and spices. After baking they are sliced open and stuffed with savory combinations of protein and cheese. These delectable little beauties are pretty much guaranteed to have you winning at brunch. I mean really. Who can compete? Marsha with her played out florentine quiche? Please.
Get out of here with that quiche, Marsha.
I didn't want to go overboard by trying to develop my own base pretzel recipe. I have used two different recipes with great success and encourage you to pick either one to use to make your dough, and to boil and bake your pretzels. The first is this Soft Pretzel Recipe From Alton Brown. It uses baking soda to boil the pretzels and is the easier of the two recipes to make. The second recipe comes from my good friend, Hilah, and is better suited to the more ambitious bakers out there. Hilah's taste better, look more amazing, and are enhanced by the magic of her proximity, but do take a little more doing. Check out Hilah's German Soft Pretzel Recipe to compare. (By the way, the recipe used in these photos was Alton Brown's)
These directions include fixings to make two different kinds of stuffed pretzels but you can certainly stick to just one type or the other if you have a strong preference. I would also encourage you to experiment with other types of fillings. Bacon, egg and cheese would be fun! Or you could get really adventurous and pull out some olives or pickled fishes. Vegetarians could opt for a roasted veggie and goat cheese combination. Basically anything you might find on a pretzel or a bagel would be great.
Stuffed Everything Pretzels
Makes twelve servings
- 1 batch of soft pretzel dough (Use Hilah Cooking's Recipe or Alton Brown's Recipe)
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- Breakfast Sausage, cooked
- Beer Cheese (Recipe) or Pimento Cheese (Recipe)
- Smoked Salmon
- Goat Cheese or Cream Cheese
- Fresh Dill (optional)
- Mix the spices, seeds, and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Preheat the oven and make the pretzel dough according to the recipe instructions. After the dough has finished rising, cut it into 12 even parts and roll each of these parts into a tube.
- Tie the tubes into knots, tucking the tails of each knot under the bottom. This should make the pretzel look like a little roll or bun.
- Boil the bagels according to your recipe. After they have been boiled and placed on a lined baking sheet, brush each pretzel with the egg wash mixture. Sprinkle the spice mixture over each pretzel coating them liberally. (You may have some leftover.)
- Bake the pretzels according to your recipe, then let them cool for about thirty minutes.
- Slice each bagel in half as if it were a hamburger bun. Smear the beer or pimento cheese onto half of the pretzels, then stuff them with sausage. Smear cream cheese on the remaining pretzels and stuff with smoked salmon. A touch of dill would be nice too - if you have it handy.
On the list of horrible, frustrating, irritating things that can possibly happen, losing my camera's battery charger is pretty high up on the list. While I slowly search the house from top to bottom (It's gotta be here. It's just GOTTA.) I've been resorting to taking camera phone photos for my blog.
Not that taking picture with your phone is the worst thing that could happen. Most of the time they are downright OK. It's just that I like taking pretty pictures, and I know that no matter how skillfully I tap my tiny little screen it's just not going to look as good as if I was shooting with my big camera. It's not the end of the world - but it does suck a little joy out of my life, which is never a good thing.
It is especially frustrating when Farmhouse Delivery hooks you up with a massive box of gorgeous produce. I pulled an Instagram Takeover on their feed last weekend and spent an entire afternoon cooking and prepping tons of really pretty food. These mushrooms, for example, were sooooo pretty. Even the process of making them was pretty. It was a golden opportunity to flex my photography muscles, and it was missed.
On the bright side I still ended up with something good to eat - which is kinda the point of cooking, right? You can't EAT pretty, after all.
So, mushrooms - possibly the most misunderstood of vegetables, at least in my house. Scott loathes them - claiming they taste like dirt. I know he isn't alone in that opinion, but I just don't see it myself. To me, mushrooms taste meaty and savory. They might be a touch earthy, but they certainly don't taste like dirt. Beets? Now there's a plant with some serious dirt qualities. You can practically smell the iron.
Marinated mushrooms were really my gateway mushroom. I first encountered them as a teenager when a friend waxed poetic over her grandmother's mushroom stash. Marinated mushrooms! Marinated mushrooms! She just couldn't get enough. Not being a mushroom fan at the time, I was highly skeptical. But then I tasted them. They were slightly sweet, a little salty, and swimming with savory goodness. They were a little on the slippery side, but not at all gross - more like juicy. I've been a huge fan ever since.
This recipe is a spin on the classic Italian marinated mushroom. It is still sweet, still salty, still savory - but with a punch of garlic, ginger, and hot red pepper in place of oregano. They are delightful right out of the jar, but try adding them to noodles, rice bowls, and spring rolls for something really fun.
Spicy Ginger Soy Marinated Mushrooms
Makes about 1 pint
- 8 ounces mushrooms (I used white button)
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 tablespoon and 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 3 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 scallions, sliced thinly (both green and white parts)
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Gently wipe the mushrooms clean using a damp cloth or paper towel. Remove stems (I usually save them for making stock) and cute them into bite-sized pieces.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well.
- Toss the mushrooms with the marinade, then transfer to a jar or small container where they will be tightly packed together. Ideally the marinade will cover all of the mushrooms.
- Let the mushrooms marinate for at least 30 minutes before gobbling them up.
This holiday season was kind of a crapshoot for me when it came to DIY. It seems like every recipe or handicraft I tried went wildly wrong on my first attempt, so I found myself having to go back and try things over and over to get them right. I'm not really the most patient person, so when my first batch of coconut macaroons came out of the oven with puddles of condensed milk leaking from the bottoms I was ready to chuck them out the window.
But then Scott came over and popped one into his mouth, declaring them fit for eating. Still slightly annoyed and utterly baffled by my macaroon mishap I went ahead with the rest of my recipe - drizzling dark chocolate over the sweet sticky nests of coconut. Then I sprinkled chopped almonds, sea salt, and cayenne powder over them and was pleased to see that despite their gooey beginnings the cookies had actually become quite pretty.
Of course I still have to solve the mysterious melting issue before sharing a macaroon recipe with you all. For now, I'm going to point you toward my friend Rachelle's recipe over at Blinded by the Bite instead. She swears by this recipe and I can tell just by looking at it that it is bound to work out better than the one I started out with.
So, if you'd like to make some of these killer confections, start off by whipping up a batch of Rachelle's macaroons (click here for the recipe).
Once you are finished, melt about half a bag (6 ounces) of dark chocolate in a double boiler. I like to heat the chocolate until about half of the chips are melted, then remove it from heat and stir until the remaining chocolate melts. It's kind of a cheater method for tempering, which is a bigger deal in fancier, more advanced chocolate making.
Chop about 1 cup of almonds, then toss them in a frying pan over medium heat until you can just begin to smell them. Don't stop moving them or they will burn - and burnt nuts are just about as bad as they sound. Yucko.
Next, lay down a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper to protect your countertop, (or put a baking sheet or silpat down - that works too), then set up some cooling racks over it. Place your macaroons on the cooling racks, then use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate all over the cookies. Don't be shy. The more chocolate the better.
Now place a small cluster of chopped almonds atop each macaroon. You can either be dainty or clumsy with this part. It doesn't much matter so long as the nuts stick to the chocolate. If you make too big a mess, just drizzle a little more chocolate across the cookies. Then noone will care.
Now it's time to sprinkle salt over them. Use the fanciest salt you have handy. Sea Salt is just fine, but something like Fleur de Sal or Himalayan Pink Salt would be even better. If you only have plain salt or kosher salt on hand, that's OK too - but would be my last choice.
Finally, dust the cookies with a very tiny amount of cayenne pepper. A little bit will taste amazing, but too much might upset eaters with too delicate a sensibility. (IE: Grandma)
That's it! I hope you'll have more luck with your version than I did with mine. Since the gooey, misshapen batch I made tasted pretty killer I imagine this would do even better on pretty macaroons!
Behold, the goop! By the way, if you are wondering what on earth would have caused my macaroons to melt into crud-puddles, I think I figured it out. The recipe I used to start off with didn't include sugar or butter - two ingredients which seem to be present in every macaroon recipe that comes well recommended. These kinds of mishaps didn't used to make it onto the blog but these days I don't have much time for do-overs. So there you have it. My family eats goopey macaroons and you lucky people get to read all about it.
By the way, Happy New Year! We rang in the season by trying to drown out the sound of neighborhood fireworks with white noise. I also made it through half a beer. Better than nothing, right? It was Shiner's new Birthday beer, their take on Chocolate Stout. It's pretty good but I wish it was a little less sweet and a little more heavy. In fact, I think I just wish it was a porter - or a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. That shiz is the shizzzzz. Anyway, cheers and best wishes in 2015!
Right before I had Charlie, the folks at Driscoll invited me to participate in a Strawberry Shortcake recipe contest. I knew there was a pretty good chance I would never get around to submitting a recipe, what with a newborn baby in the house and all, but I was dazzled by the promise of free berries and temporary strabwerry stardom. I'm weak like that.
It just so happened that I found just enough time in between naps, and diapers, and marathon feeding sessions to whip up a recipe. Without further hooplah (my hooplah time is awfully limted right now) I give you my submission - a slightly spicy and savory take on a sweet favorite. Enjoy!
Sharing today's guest post is Amy Kritzer, of What Jew Wanna Eat. Amy is a super prolific blogger who shares amazing recipes inspired by Jewish cuisine. A fellow former Northeasterner, Amy is one of the few Austinites I know that can truly understand my love for really good bread. Rye, hard rolls, bagels?! They just aren't the same down here. Amy knows. I'm excited to have her sharing one of her delicious treats with you here on Mary Makes Dinner. Thanks, Amy!
Hey there Mary Makes Dinner readers! I’m Amy and I blog over at What Jew Wanna Eat, where I share modernized Jewish recipes and entertaining anecdotes. You don’t have to be Jewish to stop by, just love good food!
This recipe is a wee bit overdue, but I hope you won't mind. It's been over a year since the first time I whipped up a batch of these lovely confections. They were invented for last year's Austin Smoke Experiment. I toasted them up to top my smoked chocolate and smoked cherry ice cream sundaes. Since then, I've made several more batches.
Two things to love about the South:
As you might imagine, I think fried pickles are just about the most brilliant invention of all time. When I was thinking about how to amp up basic tempura, I remembered these delightful dill-flavored crunchers. I could have just dipped regular old dill pickles in tempura and called it a day, but I thought that seemed a little too dull. Instead, I raided my fridge and pantry for some homemade, briney treats.
For some reason fried green tomatoes make me get all nostalgic. They are kind of hoaky, right? I feel like fried green tomatoes are the kind of thing you'll find in real down-home country kind of place, right next to a big pile of buttermilk biscuits and a bowl of cheesy grits. This theory is reinforced by the fact that I never even tasted a fried green tomato before coming to Texas.
Now that I'm here, I find that Fried Green Tomatoes vary quite a bit from cook to cook, ranging from light and cripsy to thick and chewy. They can be lightly touched by cayenne pepper, or blazing hot with cajun spice. I'm yet to meet one I didn't care for, but since they aren't the healthiest snack, what with the deep frying and all, I don't eat nearly as many as I'd like.
When I decided to make my own recipe, I took a cue from buttermilk baked chicken, a recipe that fakes the eater out by baking on a thick crust of cripsy cornflakes. The result is a suprisingly hearty snack with plenty of crunch, but far less fat. The seasoning in this recipe is in the neighborhood of medium, so if you like things spicy, don't be afraid to add a little extra Cajun seasoning or cayenne pepper.
I haven't tried this method to make "fried" pickles yet, but I can't see why it wouldn't work. If you don't have green tomatoes handy, try whipping up a batch using kosher dill spears. In that case, a nice homemade ranch dressing might make a better dip.
Cornflake Crusted Green Tomatoes
- 4 large green tomatoes
- 3 cups cornflakes
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Cut the tomatoes into 1/4" thick pieces.
- Crush the cornflakes, then pour them out onto a dish.
- Mix the flour with 1 tablespoon of the Cajun Seasoning, and pour into another dish.
- Mix the eggs, yogurt, and remaining Cajun seasoning together in a small bowl.
- Dredge each slice of tomato in flour, then in the egg mixture, then in the cornflakes. This will be pretty messy, so I recommend using a different fork for each stage.
- Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat sheets.
- Bake for twenty minutes, or until the crust becomes crunchy and slightly browned.
Makes 1/2 cup
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons chopped pickle or pickle relish
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. Add salt, pepper, or extra hot sauce to taste.
My family always seemed to have a thing for Japanese restaurants. As kids, my Dad would take us to the little sushi bar near his office, where we'd slurp up slices of sashimi, nibble on bite-sized nigiri, and gobble California Rolls. It didn't seem strange at all to us that you would eat fish raw. In fact, I've always preferred sushi to cooked fish. You might imagine how much that annoyed my thrifty, down-to-earth Mom.
Most kids might ask to go to McDonalds or Chuck E. Cheese for their birthdays, but my tastes were more exotic. When I turned fifteen I begged my parents to take me to Sushi Yoshi, a traditional Japanese restaurant in a nearby town. Unleashed with the full menu at my disposal, I went ahead and ordered the weirdest thing I could find, Unagi-Don, a broiled eel, slathered in sweet sticky sauce, over a bed of white rice.
It wasn't exactly what I expected. No sharp teeth or slithering serpents, just a dark piece of fish in a small laquered box. Despite its mild appearance, I made the most of my meal by teasing my sisters as I ate. My Dad helped too, reminiscing about catching freshwater eels at our family camp in Maine. Stories of eels wrapping around ankles were the best deterrant for keeping children out of the water at night.
Mostly our Japanese restaurant favorites were pretty predictable. Seaweed Salad was a staple, and still one of my favorites. My Dad is fond of ordering sushi boats, so a round of miso soup and salad with ginger dressing was usually in order. We were never big on the other staples, Tempura, Shumai, or Edamame, though we did sometimes indulge in an order of Hamachi Kama.
My sisters and I started ordering Age Dofu at some point during our teenage years, and it quickly became one of our favorites. Fried tofu might not sound all that alluring, but the combination of soft, silky bean curd, crispy batter, and sweet-salty tempura sauce makes Age Dofu hard to resist. The best places top the dish with grated daikon and sliced scallion. In my experience, Age Dofu isn't quite the same without that last little garnish.
Makes four servings
16 ounces silken tofu
oil for deep frying
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup ice water
1/2 cup dashi (or water)
2 tablespoons ponzu sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated daikon radish
2 tablespoons sliced scallions
- Drain the tofu on paper towel or clean kitchen towels for about thirty minutes. You can marinade the tofu, or you can leave it plain. Either way works fine for Age Dofu. Cut the tofu into 2 inch cubes.
- Heat the oil to around 350 degrees in a medium sized pot with tall sides. Don't fill the oil more than half-way up the pot.
- Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the ice water until just mixed, leaving the batter slightly lumpy.
- Coat the cubes of tofu with the batter, then drop them into the hot oil, one at a time. Give each cube a moment to firm up before adding the next one. Stir them gently to make sure they don't stick together.
- Fry until the cubes are golden brown, then remove them from the oil and drain them on a paper towel or clean (and dry) kitchen towel.
- Mix the dashi, ponzu sauce and soy sauce in a small bowl. Taste, and add salt if needed.
- Split the sauce between two or four small bowls. Add tofu to each bowl, then top with the radish and scallion.
Love my posts? Help me out by sharing them with your friends!
I'm teaching a demo on Vegan Sushi at the Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair tomorrow. I thought it might be nice to go over some of the basics of vegan sushi here on Mary Makes Dinner too. Do you have a favorite vegan sushi roll? If so, I'd love to hear all about it. Leave me a comment!
Start with Rice
Whatever kind of rice you are using, you'll want to rinse it well before cooking. Short grain white rice is the easiest to work with, but short grain brown rice, wild rice blends, and even alternative grains like quinoa can work well in sushi. To make working with other kinds of grains easier, I recommend blending them half and half with short grain white rice.
After rinsing your rice, cook it according to the usual directions. As soon as its done, turn it out into a wide mixing bowl.
Season the Rice
Rice should be seasoned to help make it nice and sticky, and to add a touch of sweet/salty flavor. This recipe makes a basic rice seasoning. Add just enough seasoning to coat your rice. You don't want it to be sticky, but not too wet.
Directions: Warm rice vinegar, then whisk in salt and sugar until fully dissolved.
Cut Your Veggies
Slice veggies into match sticks or long, thin slices. Have fun mixing and matching your veggies to create custom rolls.
Raw Fruits & Veggies
Add Some Condiments
While wasabi is the classic ingredient for adding heat to sushi, sriracha sauce can also be used to make your rolls a little more lively. Vegan mayo or cashew cheese is a great way to add a touch of creamy sweetness. Try mixing sriracha and vegan mayo half and half to make a delicious spicy mayo! Don't forget to have some soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free) handy for dipping.
Roll it Up
Place half a sheet of nori on your bamboo roller, wet your hands, then place about 1/4 cup of rice onto the sheet. Gently spread the rice across the sheet, re-wetting your fingers as needed (if they get too sticky). Place the veggies in the center of the roll, then use the mat to gently tuck the bottom of the roll into the center. Continue rolling the rest of the sheet over, then go back and forth until you have a snug roll. Wet a sharp knife, and slice the roll into six or eight pieces.
For an inside out roll, cover your bamboo mat in plastic wrap, or use a silicone mat instead. Flip the sheet over after adding the rice, and before adding the veggies.
Check out the videos below to see two examples of assembling sushi rolls.
How to Assemble a Sushi Roll
How to Assemble an Inside-Out Roll
Consider the mango.
It is, according to sources, the most popular fruit on Planet Earth. Yet it remains a mystery to many people in the United States, what with it's rainbow-colored peel, and oddly hefty countenance. The mango is like the exotic stranger on the other side of the room. Everybody wants to meet her, but not everyone is brave enough to reach out and say, "Sà-wàt-dee".
Like that exotic stranger, once you get to know the mango you'll find that she's not so weird. Really, she's just like any other fruit. Mango is soft when ripe, sweetens with age, and is packed with fruity goodness.
You may also discover some things about mango that surprise you. For instance, mangos are on the Clean Fifteen list, meaning that conventional mangos have relatively low pesticide residue compared to other fruits. They are also loaded with nutritious components, like vitamin C, antioxidants, and folate.
Of course, those nutritional virtues are pretty much thrown out the window when combined with condensed milk, gingersnap cookies and butter. Oh well. Hopefully this little indulgence will be worth the calories.
Baking with mango can sometimes be a pain. The sweet flavor of mango is subtle, and can get lost within sweets and desserts. Kicking it up with citrus can help make mango flavor extra bold. Pairing it with warm and spicy flavors, like ginger or cinnamon, helps too. This dessert was inspired by classic Key Lime Pie. Instead of a graham crust, I used gingersnaps. Look for the crunchy kind for this recipe.
Disclaimer: The National Mango Board has been courting me with free mangos and cocktail parties. I'm weak and all, but please be assured that I wouldn't be cooking with mangos unless I actually liked them. This post was somewhat coaxed, but entirely unpaid.
Mango Dream Bars
Makes about nine bars
- 5 ounces gingersnap cookies
- 1/3 cup palm sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons melted butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 (14 oz.) can condensed milk
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 2/3 cup pureed mango (takes 1 or 2 mangos)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the cookies, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the cookies have completely crumbled. Transfer the cookie crumb mixture to a mixing bowl, and stir together with the melted butter.
- Press the cookie mixture into the bottom of an 8" x 8" baking pan. If you can manage it, try to press some of the mixture up onto the sides of the pan too.
- Bake the crust in the oven for about 10 minutes. Set it aside to cool as you put together the custard.
- Cream the egg yolks and lime zest together using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. This will take about 5 minutes with the mixer, or 10-15 minutes by hand. You want the eggs to change color, becoming light, thick, and fluffy.
- While mixing on a low speed, add the lime juice and pureed mango. Mix well to combine, then pour the mixture into the baking pan, over the crust.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the custard sets. It should become slightly firm.
- Allow the bars to cool to room temperature, then cover and chill overnight in the fridge.
- Cut into bars, and serve garnished with whipped cream and a slice of lime or mango.
Love my posts? Help me out by sharing them with your friends!
Thirsty yet? This quickie cocktail recipe came to mind while I was dreaming up ways to use my Ginger-Lime Simple Syrup. Mint, Rum, and Ginger make a better threesome than Jack, Janet, and Chrissy. This drink involves a little muddling, but if you don't have a fancy cocktail muddler, don't despair. You can do what I did, use the back of a wooden spoon to smash the syrup and mint leaves together.
Pro Tip: This tastes best with crushed ice. If you don't have an ice-crusher on your fridge, try smashing the ice inside of a ziplock bag, or between two kitchen towels. I used a meat tenderizer to smash it good.
Ginger Mojito CocktailsMakes one eight-ounce drink
- 1 ounce Ginger-Lime Simple Syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
- the juice of 1/2 a lime
- ice, enough to fill the glass
- 1 ounce white rum
- 6 ounces club soda
- 1 sprig of mint and 1 wedge of lime (to garnish)
- Combine the syrup, mint leaves, and lime juice in the bottom of a tall glass.
- Muddle the ingredients together by grinding the leaves with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon.
- Fill the glass with ice.
- Add the rum, followed by the club soda.
- Garnish with a wedge of lime and a sprig of mint.
Love this recipe? Help me out by sharing it with your friends!
Shisito Peppers seem to be all the rage here in Austin lately. I first tasted them at Uchiko, a posh Japanese restaurant where they charge a premium for fancy food served in itty bitty dishes. It's a fun place, but not somewhere my budget allows me to visit very often. The last time I went it was on Google Local Austin's tab. I won a seat at the dinner after posting a zillion reviews on Google Plus Local. This was a rare instance where lording my opinion over the rest of the world actually paid off. My sister and I joined a handful of other winners along with Google's local community managers, Bryn and Whitney. Score one for bossypants!
The dinner itself was a memorable one. Not so much because the food was amazing, though it was wildly delicious. What fixes the evening in my memory so solidly is the hunger we endured for the first two thirds of the dinner. Knowing that we'd be stuffing ourselves with gourmet food that night, Heather and I ate light throughout the day to make sure we'd have a great appetite before dinner. Everyone arrived on time, we were seated right away, and immediately given drinks. Whitney ordered multiple plates of several dishes, and then... we waited.
The Shisito Peppers came out early on, and for what seemed like an eternity, they were the only thing that we had to eat. Being at a table almost entirely populated by strangers, etiquette prevailed, and though we were all completely ravenous, we did our best to remain courteous as each teeny tiny dish arrived. We each had literally one or two bites every time a plate showed up. With the plates arriving every ten or twenty minutes, the entire meal took more than three hours. We had an abundance of Shisito Peppers though, so while we drooled over the other tables, who were actually getting to EAT, these hilariously petite peppers were our main course.
At one point, maybe an hour or so into the meal, the table next to us were served a hot-rock style beef tataki. The animal part of my brain wanted to stab them with my chopsticks and make off with their dinner. Never mind that I'm a decidedly non-violent person, or that I am predominantly vegetarian. I was that hungry. You know that scene in romantic movies where the couple goes to a fancy dinner then almost cries when the waiter takes the big, silly dome off of their tray to reveal a beautiful meal in miniature? I get that now.
Maybe Uchiko just isn't set up to deal with large parties, or maybe the stars were aligned against us that night. In any event, I developed a healthy appreciation for the shisito pepper. I'm pretty sure I could pick one out of a pepper lineup, blindfolded. After being quick-roasted, these tiny, thin-walled peppers settle into a nice combination of soft and crunchy. They have just a touch of sweetness and heat, making them safe for a crowd. You can kick up the heat by making your dipping sauce extra spicy, or tone it down by pairing it with something more mild, like a sour cream or yogurt dip.
Blistered Shisito Peppers
Makes a pint of peppers (enough for about four or five people to nibble)
- 1 pint shisito peppers
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
There are multiple ways to roast shisitos. Check out each of these options, then pick the one you are most comfortable with.
- Shisitos can be roasted directly over a gas flame, but this takes a little bravery and a lot of finesse. Hold the peppers with a long pair of tongs, and hold them over the flame until they blister and blacked. Rotate the peppers to roast them on all sides, then remove to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the peppers.
- A safer, but less controlled method is to blacken the peppers under a broiler. Turn your broiler on high, then line the peppers up on a baking sheet. Place the peppers under the broiler, keeping a close eye on them to watch their progress. Checking them every minute or so is pretty much mandatory. When the peppers blister and blacken on top, remove the pan from the broiler, turn the peppers over, and repeat on the other side. Keep in mind that the second side may blister more quickly than the first.
- Heat your grill up until it is nice and hot, at least 4oo degrees. If your peppers are big enough to sit on the grill without falling through, place them directly on it. If they are too small, put a grill pan over the grill before putting the peppers down. The peppers should blacken and blister pretty quickly this way. Keep an eye on them, and turn them over as soon as they blacken on one side. Remove them when they are nicely colored all over.
- If you don't have a broiler or a grill, you can roast them at a high heat in your regular oven. Preheat the oven to 450, then line the peppers up on a baking sheet. Pop them in the oven, and check them every five minutes or so to see if they have blackened and blistered. As soon as they do, remove the whole pan from the oven. (The disadvantage to this method is that the peppers may soften too much before they blacken. It's not a huge deal, but they definitely taste better prepared the other ways.)
After your peppers are done cooking, Sprinkle the salt over them and serve right away.
Spicy Mayo Dipping Sauce
Makes about 1/2 cup
- 1/4 cup mayonaise or Vegan Mayo
- 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until totally mixed. Chill until serving.
Love my posts? Help me out by sharing them with your friends!
What's warm, spicy, and annoyingly fibrous? I bet you were thinking of Pickles the Cat. Good guess, but I'm actually talking about ginger. While I personally believe that Mr. Pickles is good for my health, the benefits of ginger are more widely accepted. This knotty little root can help boost immunity, increase circulation, and even reduce inflammation.
Ginger loves being played against sweet and sour flavors, so it feels right at home in a madras recipe. The madras cocktail is a blend of cranberry and orange juice probably invented to disguise the taste of vodka for folks who just don't cotton to the flavor of distilled potatoes. (I know. Weird, right? What's not to love about fermented potatoes?) Anyway, the classic madras is much improved by the addition of ginger. Now instead of something that is just sweet and sour, you have something sweet, sour, and spicy. Three tastes is a charm. Isn't that more or less what they say?
Try this recipe over ice with a fat shot of vodka or tequila. Or, for something more family friendly, pop the concoction (sans alcohol) in a popsicle mold and freeze until solid.
Makes about 12 ounces, enough for three cocktails or six popsicles
- 1/2 cup Ginger Lime Simple Syrup, divided
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup cranberry juice
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 1/8 cup vodka or tequila (optional)
Note: Try this recipe over ice with a fat shot of vodka or tequila. Or, for something more family friendly, pop the concoction (sans alcohol) in a popsicle mold and freeze until solid.
- Combine 1/4 cup of simple syrup with the orange juice.
- In a second container, combine the remaining syrup with the cranberry juice.
- Divide the lime juice and zest (and alcohol, if you are using it) between the two containers of juice.
- Stir the cranberry juice mixture right before pouring it into the popsicle molds. Fill each mold about halfway.
- Freeze for two hours, then pour in the orange juice mixture. Freeze for four hours, or better yet overnight to allow the pops to become completely hard.
P.S. Technically, I don't think that this would be a madras anymore if tequila were added. I suspect that drink has its own name. Anyone know what that might be?