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Maple Syrup Dumplings

24 Apr

I came across this recipe from Saveur when a local shop, Cooks Shop Here posted a link on their Facebook page. It was the height of maple sugaring season in our area a few weeks ago and I was so excited to find some good recipes that used maple syrup. I have to say, my expectations were high – maybe unrealistically so. I have been debating about whether or not to post this recipe but in the end decided that even recipes that aren’t slam dunks still have the potential spark some discussion or new ideas for how to improve them.

Things that contributed to not feeling 100% satisfied by the experience:

The dumplings were a bit too dense.

It felt a little wasteful and expensive to use so much maple syrup. Nearly two cups of maple syrup would normally last a lot longer around our house when we’re just drizzling a little on waffles or whatnot.

This was all I ate for breakfast that day (and I’ll confess I ate more than the one sixth serving size). Sweetness overload! A couple small bites paired with some other complementary breakfast foods would have been better. Salty bacon and fruit salad perhaps?

The pan I used was a bit shallow so dumplings were not entirely submerged and required turning.

I enjoyed these dumplings but I think they could be better, although I’m not entirely sure what I would do differently. I would like them to be a little lighter and fluffier but they already have quite a bit of baking powder in them. What would you do?

Maple Syrup Dumplings – makes 6 servings

1 3/4 cups maple syrup (I used a good, local, medium amber syrup from a nearby farm)
1 1/2 cups flour
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, frozen
3/4 cup milk

Bring syrup and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Grate butter on large holes of a box grater into flour and toss to coat; add milk and stir with a fork until dough forms. When syrup mixture reaches a boil, use a spoon to drop large clumps of dough into syrup. Cover pot; simmer until dumplings are cooked through, 10–15 minutes. Spoon dumplings and sauce into 6 bowls and serve.

Check out more pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

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Spice-Crusted Salmon

25 Mar

In an effort to expand our repertoire, we have been visiting epicurious.com quite often. Recently we tried this recipe and I think it’s a keeper! I was skeptical because I’m not a huge fan of fennel seeds but combined with the coriander and complimented by the sauce, they really worked in this recipe. And I love any excuse to use cilantro. The yogurt based sauce was light and fresh tasting.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 teaspoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets with skin
  • Lime wedges
  • Mix yogurt, cilantro, 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon oil, ginger, and garlic in small bowl. (I cheated and used minced ginger from a jar and it turned out fine.) Season with salt and pepper. Place fennel seeds and coriander seeds in heavyduty plastic bag. Using mallet, crush seeds. (If you have a young child in your house, this is the perfect job for them to help with. Toby used one of his toy frying pans to pound the seeds to smithereens and had great fun doing it.) Sprinkle fillets with salt, pepper, and seeds. I didn’t think it looked like enough to fully coat the fish but it was the perfect proportion.

    Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fillets, seed side down. Cook until brown, about 3 minutes. Turn over. Cook until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons lime juice. Place fillets on plates. Top with sauce; serve with lime wedge.

    We served it alongside white rice and green beans. Sounds kind of boring but the plain sides really let the stronger flavors of the fish and the sauce shine.

    (This recipe appeared in the Bon Appetit November 2010 issue)

    A Culinary Trip to Senegal

    18 Mar

    This past weekend the cooking club I’m part of got together for an African themed dinner. It was a lovely night – a gorgeous table set with perfectly presented food. All the recipes we selected were from Pierre Thaim‘s beautiful cookbook, Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal. I chose to make the vegetarian entree which was Vegetable Mafe, a root vegetable stew. It was the first time I really tried cooking this type of cuisine. The stew turned out ok but I think we all agreed it needed a little something. A good recipe worth tweaking to make it even better.

    Other menu items included: Yucassoise (like Vichyssoise made from Yuca instead of potato), Couscous & Smoked Tofu Stuffed Tomatoes (recipe actually called for Fonio, which is an African grain difficult to come by in our immediate area so we improvised with the couscous), Avocado & Mango Salad, Salmon Charmoula (my favorite of the evening), Black Eyed Pea Salad, Roasted Mango and Coconut Rice Pudding, and Chocolate Volcano

    Here’s the recipe and my two cents about the process and the finished product. Continue reading

    Roasted Vegetables with Arugula Pesto

    18 Jun

    This time of year, as anyone with a local CSA  share knows, greens are plentiful. We’ve got multiple kinds of  lettuce, mizuna, tatsoi, swiss chard, and bok choy coming out of our ears! I never know what to do with most of these greens other than make a salad or, if they are heartier, throw them in a stir-fry. This recipe puts arugula to good use by making a zesty pesto out of it. I adapted this recipe from one recently published in Eating Well magazine. The arugula I used came from our CSA (I also threw in a little bit of tatsoi) and the asparagus came from a local farm stand. Normally when I roast vegetables I just toss everything with olive oil and stick it in the oven. The method used here makes more dirty dishes and requires more attention, but it does get great results. All the vegetables are done just right – unlike my lazy method where some vegetables are inevitably overcooked or undercooked.


    Roasted Vegetables

    • 4 cups baby or new potatoes, 1 to 2 inches in diameter, halved or quartered depending on size
    • 5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 4 cups peeled baby carrots
    • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup baby arugula for garnish

    Arugula Pesto

    • 1 clove garlic, peeled
    • 5 cups baby arugula
    • 1/2 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese
    • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (I substituted almonds)
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    Preparation

    1. To prepare vegetables: Position rack in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 425°F.
    2. Toss potatoes with 2 teaspoons oil in a large bowl and spread on a large baking sheet. Roast in the lower third of the oven for 5 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, toss carrots with 2 teaspoons oil in the bowl and spread on another large baking sheet. After the potatoes have roasted for 5 minutes, place the carrots in the upper third of the oven and roast potatoes and carrots for 15 minutes.
    4. Toss asparagus with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the bowl. Add to the pan with the potatoes, toss to combine and return to the oven. Continue roasting until all the vegetables are tender and starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes more.
    5. To prepare pesto: Meanwhile, drop garlic through the feed tube of food processor with the motor running; process until minced. Stop the machine and add arugula, cheese, pine nuts, 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse and then process, scraping down the sides as necessary, until the mixture is a smooth paste.
    6. Toss the roasted vegetables with 1/3 cup pesto and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the large bowl (reserve the remaining pesto for another use: refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze). Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with arugula, if desired.

    Salmon Salad Lettuce Wraps

    8 Jun

    Eager to make use of the fresh veggies we got at our first visit to the farm as well as some leftover salmon, we created this recipe for dinner. Fresh, easy, and perfect for a warm summer evening. Plus pretty enough for company.

    2 cups cooked salmon, flaked

    mayo

    lemon juice

    a BIG handful of fresh dill, finely chopped

    whole leaves of butter/boston lettuce, washed and dried

    one large radish, cut in half or thirds then sliced

    Combine salmon with mayo, lemon juice, and dill to taste until you get the flavor and consistency you like. (For an extra lemony flavor throw in a little zest from the lemon too.) Fill the bowl the of lettuce leaf with a hearty scoop of the salmon salad. Top with sliced radishes. Wrap it up and dig in!

    The lettuce, dill, and radishes were fresh from the farm as was the steamed broccoli we had on the side. From farm to table in a matter of hours. This is what I love about summer!

    Rhubarb Soda

    1 Jun

    It’s peak time for rhubarb in these here parts. I love the unique flavor of rhubarb but often don’t know what to do with it beyond putting it in a pie or tart. That’s why when my friend Cathy mentioned this recipe I immediately went in search of some native rhubarb and within hours was attempting it myself. Cathy found this recipe on the Culinate website.

    1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped

    1 cup sugar

    1 1/2 cups water

    Sparkling water and ice

    Combine rhubarb, sugar, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down and let simmer for 15 minutes. The syrup should turn pinkish as the rhubarb cooks. I used a potato masher to squish the rhubarb and help it break down a bit to really infuse the syrup. Once it’s done cooking for a while, let it cool, then strain it into an airtight container. Store the syrup in the refrigerator. (Don’t throw away the pulpy rhubarb after you strain the liquid out of it. You can save it to put in yogurt or over ice cream!) To make soda, mix 1/4 cup of the syrup into a glass of sparkling water and add ice. It’s also been rumored to make a mean cosmopolitan!

    I bought WAY too much rhubarb and ended up tripling the recipe. I also just blindly followed the recipe and didn’t taste it as I went along. Regretfully, I think the proportions are a little off. My syrup turned out too sweet and ended up entirely masking the tartness of the rhubarb. Next time I would use less sugar and taste as I go.

    Baked Apples with Honey, Walnuts, and Cardamom

    7 Dec

    I came across this recipe on the Cooking…By the seat of my Pants blog.

    It sounded good but I wanted to give it an extra little something. In Sweden, where my family is from, Cardamom unexpectedly finds it’s way into breads and sweets. I used to not be a fan of the spice at all, by now I’m really beginning to appreciate it. I thought it might be a nice compliment to the sweetness of the apple in this recipe.

    Baked Apples with Honey, Walnuts, and Cardamom

    Ingredients:

    6 apples – I used Cortland apples

    1 tbsp sugar

    1 tsp cinnamon

    2 tsp cardamom

    3 tbsp honey

    2 tbsp melted butter

    6 oz. chopped walnuts (though pecans or even almonds could probably be just as tasty)

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Core the apples and cut a very shallow slit all the way around the middle of them horizontally. (This will prevent the skin of the apple from splitting when it bakes in the oven.) Melt the butter on the stovetop or in the microwave. Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Add the honey and melted butter and mix until smooth. Stir in the nuts. Fill the cored apple center with a couple of spoonfuls of the nut mixture. (Don’t distress if you have extra filling – it goes perfectly over a little bit of vanilla ice cream!) Place filled apples in a baking dish or pie plate. Bake 35-45 minutes or until tender enough to pierce with a fork . If the filling seems to be cooking too quickly and starts to get dark, put some foil over the top until the apples are ready. Serve warm with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.