Off The Shelf: May Magazines

Well, our month has not gone quite as planned so this will be a shorter review and it’s later than we intended (my fault completely!). It’s wonderful to see the spring and summer recipes featuring seasonal vegetables and fruits! Perhaps inspiration will once again return to kitchens everywhere.

FOOD NETWORK (Alaina)- This wasn’t my favorite issue of Food Network but still, they have so many recipes and so much variety. The Jumbo Maple Pecan Scone, Poppy Seed Potato Salad, Stawberry Blondies, and Sage Limeade were a few of the recipes that looked interesting and tasty! 

However, my kids are big fans of chocolate milk and it is definitely a treat. So, I decided to make the Salted Chocolate Milk. The homemade chocolate syrup could be used as a sauce for all kinds of desserts. This was rich and delicious! The salt was a wonderful addition that brought out the chocolate goodness. This totally made me feel like a kid again!

SALTED CHOCOLATE MILK
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1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups cold milk
Kosher salt

Make the chocolate syrup: Combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool completely.

Spoon about 2 1/2 tablespoons of the chocolate syrup into each glass. Add 1 1/2 cups milk and a generous pinch of salt. Stir until the syrup and salt dissolve.

COOKING LIGHT – (Stephanie) I never know each month whether or not I’ll find many recipes I’m excited to try within the pages of Cooking Light. This month’s issue had several tasty sounding recipes. As I’m trying to learn to enjoy shrimp, I was pleased to find a couple new shrimp recipes: Shrimp Cobb Salad and Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli. There was also a section with assorted muffin recipes–Bacon-Cheddar Corn Muffins, Cherry-Wheat Germ Muffins, Tuscan Lemon Muffins, Pistachio-Chai Muffins–don’t those sound interesting and delicious? I also thought the Ancho Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Avocado Cream sounded yummy.

I decided to try the Strawberry-Avocado Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips. I love fresh salsas and the flavor combination in this one intrigued me. I enjoyed this, though unfortunately forgot to buy fresh cilantro and jalapenos, so I used dried instead. If you’re looking for a quick, seasonal snack, give this easy recipe a try.

STRAWBERRY-AVOCADO SALSA WITH CINNAMON TORTILLA CHIPS
(from Cooking Light, May 2011)
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2 teaspoon canola oil
6 6-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cup finely chopped, peeled ripe avocado (about 2)
1 cup finely chopped strawberries
2 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon minced seeded jalapeno
2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
3/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To prepare chips, brush oil evenly over one side of each tortilla. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over oil-coated sides of tortillas. Cut each tortilla into 12 wedges; arrange wedges in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes until crisp.

Combine avocado, strawberries, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and salt; stir gently to combine. Serve with chips. 12 servings.

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Weekend Fare: Chocolate

We are concluding this week of recipes on chocolate with a day devoted entirely to some easy chocolate recipes that are perfect for entertaining, for ending a special meal, or just because. The lava cakes and creme brulee would make excellent Valentine’s Day Desserts!

These double chocolate cookies are sure to please any chocolate lover. The beautiful texture and chocolatey goodness make it perfect for dipping in a glass of milk! When I want to make large cookies, I use my ice cream scoop and bake them for 12-13 minutes. Mmmm…

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES
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1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. white sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 package (11-12 oz.) milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and blend until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet or stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

The oozy, delicious center of molten lava cakes makes this a popular dessert. I love it paired with raspberries – a perfect combination! Honestly, these cakes are incredibly easy but yet, so impressive. Bake them right before serving. Fresh whipped cream, vanilla bean ice cream, and/or fresh or frozen fruit make excellent garnishes.

MOLTEN LAVA CAKE
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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1 c. butter
8 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate (a nice quality of chocolate will give a better cake!), chopped
5 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
pinch of salt
4 tsp. flour
fresh or frozen raspberries, opt.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease 8 ramekins and set aside.

Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Beat eggs, sugar, and salt with a hand mixer in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixtures into chocolate until smooth.  Beat in flour until just combined. (Batter can be made a day ahead and refrigerated – bring to room temperature before baking).

Adjust oven rack to middle position. Divide batter between ramekins. Bake until batter puffs but center is not set, 9-12 minutes. Carefully loosen the sides of the cake and invert on a dessert plate. Serve with fresh or thawed raspberries if desired.

Although white chocolate isn’t really chocolate, I wanted to make sure and include a recipe for something with white chocolate! This gluten free creme brulee is WONDERFUL! Seriously, go make it. It doesn’t have a strong white chocolate flavor – just a hint and even my tasters who normally don’t care for white chocolate loved this dessert! 

I desperately wished for a torch to make this dessert look prettier – the sugar just did not caramelize as well under the broiler. It did have that lovely crisp texture though which is so wonderful with the creamy custard. 

 WHITE CHOCOLATE CREME BRULEE
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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4 egg yolks
1/3 c. sugar
2 c. heavy cream
4 oz. quality white chocolate (I used Ghiradelli), chopped
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tsp. sugar.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg toiks with 1/3 c. sugar until smooth. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add the white chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is melted. Temper the eggs by adding 2 Tb. of the white chocolate mixture  to the eggs. Whisk. Add the rest of the white chocolate and whisk to combine. Add vanilla.

Divide between 4 -6 ramekins. Place the ramekins in a 9×13 pan filled with 1 1/2 inches hot water. Bake for 45-55 minutes of until set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate the custards until chilled. Before serving, sprinkle the tops of each ramekin with 1 tsp. of suagr and place under the broiler or use a torch to carmalize the sugar. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Finally, I wanted to give you a quick and easy hot chocolate recipe. It’s not the very rich, homemade hot chocolate I often think of but it was light and delicious with a hint of cinnamon. It was made with ingredients that I almost always have on hand. You could top it with whipped cream or shaved chocolate.

HOT CHOCOLATE
(adapted from Ellie Krieger)
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1 c. milk
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. water
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat the milk and the cinnamon until just simmering. In a mug, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, and water and stir. Pour the milk into the mug and stir to mix well. Add the vanilla and stir. Makes 1 serving.

Off The Shelf: Milk

In keeping with our dairy theme this week, I have a wonderful book on milk to suggest to you.

Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages with 120 Adventurous Recipes that Explore the Riches of Our First Food by Anne Mendelson is an enjoyable and educational read about one of the most basic building blocks of our modern, western diet.

Mendelson begins the book with a short history of how and when animals began to be milked for human consumption, culminating in a chapter on “modern milk” and how we have arrived at the milk we buy at the average grocery store today.

Included in the first part of the book are some helpful exercises to perform with milk to begin to get a handle on what Mendelson calls “milk chemistry.” She explains how milk is an aqueous (water-based) solution, a suspension, and also an emulsion. She discusses pasteurization, homogenization, and fermentation.

Once the history and chemistry of milk is on the table, Mendelson turns to recipes, conveniently categorized under Fresh Milk and Cream, Yogurt, Cultured Milk and Cream, Butter and True Buttermilk, and Fresh Cheeses. Each recipe chapter begins with a discussion and definition of each of these “milk products.” The recipes that follow also contain detailed introductions and histories, adding to your knowledge of this food with every paragraph.

I would highly recommend this book for any who are interested in doing more with milk (yogurt, cheese, etc.) or for those who are curious about something that may make up a large part of their diet. The suggested recipes will open your eyes to the wide variety of possibilities contained in milk, many of which are little known in the United States.

I decided to try a simple Panna Cotta for our Sunday dessert. I was surprised at how easy it was to mix up and how delightful a dessert it made with its silky texture and hint of lemon. It’s definitely something I will be making again.

PANNA COTTA
(from Milk)
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1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) unflavored granulated gelatin
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream (or half heavy, half light cream)
1/2 cup sugar (3/4 cup if you like it sweet)
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 to 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional) — I skipped this

Put the gelatin in a small saucepan with the milk and cream. Add the sugar, salt, and optional lemon zest and juice; heat gently, stirring to dissolve the gelatin and sugar thoroughly. If using ultrapasteurized cream, do not quite let it boil. Otherwise, bring just to a boil and remove from the heat. (Make sure the gelatin is dissolved; if necessary, reheat briefly.) If you wish, pour through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the shreds of lemon zest. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Have ready six lightly oiled 6-ounce or 4-ounce heatproof glass custard cups. Pour in the mixture and refrigerate until set, 3 to 4 hours. (If keeping longer, cover with plastic wrap; it’s best eaten within a day.) Unmold by briefly dipping the bottom of each cup in hot water, then inverting onto a serving plate. Serve with lightly sweetened fresh fruit or a pureed fruit sauce like raspberry coulis.

(Note: I thawed about two cups of raspberries and added a few spoons of sugar before spooning this impromptu sauce over the unmolded panna cotta.)

Serves 6.