Saturday, September 18

Crêpes, It's What's For Breakfast

I have reformed my ways. Growing up, I hated eating breakfast. There was no way for me to work up significant enough of an appetite to justify eating in the morning. But since I left home for college, the threat of the "Freshman Fifteen", a condition that afflicts those recently matriculated students with poor eating habits, has encouraged me to get better about nutrition and diet, and it started with starting my day off the right way.

Fast forward to 2010 and I love breakfast. It can sometimes be a struggle to eat (particularly if I'm up at 7 in the morning), but I've amassed a number of recipes that are sweet, savory, can be made ahead, but most importantly, get you going in the morning.

One such recipe is my ratio for the basic crêpe. You can fill this thin, French pancake with any number of ingredients. Thus, the crêpe is simple as a pancake, but much more versatile and far reaching.

Basic Crêpe Ratio
1 liquid
1 egg
1/2 flour
Melted butter

Alternative additions:
Black Pepper
Cinnamon and Nutmeg
(White/Brown) Sugar
Vanilla/Almond/Lemon/Orange Extracts
Herbes de Provence
Rosemary and Thyme

I make a big batch of the batter so that I can have it ready so I can cook quickly on a weekday morning or sleep a little longer on the weekend.

Like I said earlier, you can fill these crepes with virtually anything. The dressing can be as simple as butter and sugar, classic as strawberries and nutella, or as extravagant as eggs and bacon and ham and gruyere cheese and spinach, or even mac and cheese! The point being, this basic recipe can be the base for any number of flavor combinations. Go crazy!

Wednesday, September 15

Thai Coconut and Valhrona Chocolate Gelato

No recipe this time, though my previosly-posted recipe for chocolate ice cream could be a nice substitute for those not within close distance to a gelateria. I have also provided pictures that you are free to drool over, (watch out for your keyboards).

The menu at Dolcezza always warrants a shameless, yet understandable request for several samples of flavors as varied as Avocado Lime, Lemon Opal Basil, Black Plum or Chili Pepper. This is truly just a sample as the daily offerings are close to 20.

If you happen to be in Georgetown or Dupont Circle, this Argentinian Gelateria is the place to get your sweet fix on. Also on sale: awesome churros, with or without a center full of dulce de leche.

Monday, September 13

Red Quinoa-Oatmeal Porridge with Peach and Golden Raspberries

I love the bulk bins at Whole Foods. The prices are the most competitive I've seen and I can stock up my pantry well enough to go in any direction I wish on a whim. This is great for two reasons: I am in college (read: poor), and I don't have to fall into the rut of variations on a theme of pasta dishes that would make Chef Boyardi beg for mercy.

I've had quinoa before, but this time I decided to go for the more exotic-looking red quinoa. Of course it sat in my pantry for a few weeks before I stumbled across this recipe for a red quinoa porridge with peach and white tea syrup. Then this past Sunday I found myself with all of the necessary ingredients, as well as a few extras for my personal embellishment, and decided to dig in.

My recipe is essentially the same as the original, expect I've added half a cup of golden raspberries in place of one of the peaches and doubled the amount of oatmeal. There may be some other amendments that I made on a whim, and I'll account for those in the recipe posted below. Also, I used extra thick oats, for more substance and because I like my oatmeal thick!

Red Quinoa-Oatmeal Porridge with Peach and Golden Raspberries

1 peach, peeled and diced
1/2 C raspberries

1 1/2 C water
1/2 cup milk
2 tT agave nectar (optional)
1/4 cup red quinoa
1/2 C extra-thick rolled oats

Place the quinoa, peaches, raspberries and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, cooking for 30 minutes, then add the oatmeal, milk and agave nectar.

Cook until the oats are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm, topped with fresh peaches and raspberries, if desired, and a side of greek yogurt topped with honey or fresh fruit.

Sunday, September 12

Light, Rich and Creamy Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

I was craving a homemade dessert that I could keep on hand for a while and to help me beat the waning DC heat. So naturally my mind fell on ice cream. I only had two eggs left in my fridge, which posed a bit of a problem as I usually make my ice creams with 4-6 egg yolks. However, I had recently read an article in the New York Times about egg-less ice creams. And so I thought that I could try to apply that theory to this recipe. Of course I couldn't help myself so I added 2 eggs, including the whites. I think that was enough and I'm glad I did it.

Traditionally in a gelato, there is no cream added. This allows it to be lower in fat than traditional, American ice creams. However, my lack of eggs necessitated the addition of heavy cream in order to allow for the proper creaminess and mouthfeel of the frozen dessert. And I think that allowed for the perfect balance of cream to egg to milk and a dessert that came out at the perfect consistency right out of the freezer, as opposed to having to let it sit at room temperature in order to allow it to be scoop-able.

In my haste and excitement, I didn't freeze the freezer bowl completely, and so it was churned in a half frozen bowl for about 30 minutes. I then poured it into a pyrex bowl and stuck it in the freezer overnight, fearful that I would awake to a block of solid custard. But the result was light, airy, smooth and better than I could have hoped for.

2 C whole milk
1 C heavy cream
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1/2 C bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 C nutella
1 T olive oil


Make the custard base using milk, cream and eggs, by heating the milk and cream to 170 degrees, adding 1/2 cup of the heated milk to the eggs, then adding that to the sauce pan and heat for another 10 minutes, at the point right before it simmers. Melt the chocolate chips with the nutella and olive oil, then add to the custard base and chill. 

When cool, add the mixture to an ice cream maker and churn according to the machine's directions. Chill in the fridge for another 2 hours, then serve.

Nutritional Information (1/2 cup portion)

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 77 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 4%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 7%Iron 6%
Nutrition Grade C
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Friday, September 10

Quick and Easy Wonton soup

It was about an hour before I had to go to work when I realized that I didn't have anything to eat for lunch. With the weather being a little cooler in DC, I wanted something warm and comforting. Not only would it warm my body, but also help to erase the drabness of my current occupation, which had experienced a whirlwind of a 3 days (more on that story later). My fridge and freezer lacked the bounty of ingredients that normally defined them, however, it had just the right combination of ingredients for a soup.

Soup is one of the quintessential fridge-clearing recipes, and can range from the rustic to the refined. It can be a thick, stew-like soup or a consommé, in it's brothy-glory. I chose something in between, a broth-based soup, brimming with fresh, untampered ingredients, and a light flavor. The result was a 20 minute wonton soup. Perfect for beginning-of-Fall coolness, and deep Winter chills alike.

Wonton Soup

Approximately 3 Servings

1 t ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T peanut oil
1 t sesame oil
2 T soy sauce
1 T mirin or white rice vinegar
1 C scallions, sliced crosswise
1/2 C red onions, sliced
2 C vegetable stock (I made some from left over vegetable scraps a week or so ago)
1 1/2 C chicken stock
1/2 C water
2 Chinese Sausages (Lop Cheong in Cantonese; you can get these at an Asian Food Market, or probably on Amazon)
1/2 bag Trader Joe's  Wontons (I used Chicken Cilantro; you could easily use any kind of potstickers, dumplings, wontons on hand, because everyone has those in the freezer, right?)

Add the peanut oil to a pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot (not smoking), add the ginger and garlic and saute. When fragrant add the red onions. 

When the onions become translucent add the soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar and let it sit for a minute. Then add the vegetable stock, chicken stock, water, and the  and bring to a boil.

When the water comes to a boil, add the sausage and the wontons and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately, garnished with scallions or sesame seeds.

Really anything could go into this soup. You could replace the wontons with meat, and just sear the meat then add to the soup in small pieces and cook a little longer to ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly. Other vegetables to consider would be carrots, peas, snow peas, green beans, boy choy, chinese broccoli, etc.

Approximate Cost:
Wontons - $1.65
Chinese Sausage - $0.50
Scallions - $0.15
Red Onions - $0.19
Chicken Stock - $0.62
Vegetable Stock - $0.00
Water - $0.00
Peanut Oil - $0.09
Sesame Oil - $ 0.10
Soy Sauce - $0.19
Mirin - $0.30
Total - $3.79; ~$1.26/serving


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