My take on huevos rancheros

So this isn’t a recipe, but it is what I ate for lunch today.  It’s low in fat, high in protein and omega 3s, and damned tasty!  I was preparing pureed Lima beans for the work week to have for snacks so I used that as my base.  I dropped on a poached egg, and topped the concoction with a couple spoonfuls of salsa, and dug in.  Wow!  what flavor.

Coconut rolls

When it comes to rolls, this Honduran staple is a winner.  I initially served these rolls with a dinner of beef tenderloin and roasted garlic mashed potatoes with steamed green beans, and didn’t realize the injustice that I was causing- not allowing my family to really taste the bread which is rich and so very wonderful.  I had this epiphany the next morning when breakfast foods were scarce, there was one roll left over, and I had a steaming cup of coffee looking for an accompaniment.  I’m very honestly considering running out to pick up more coconut milk so that I can make another batch of these tonight to have on Christmas morning.

The original recipe called for a yield of 8 rolls.  I found that this made for far too large a roll and so my version makes 12 smaller ones.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsweetened, finely grated coconut

2 tablespoons sugar

1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons if you buy the big jar) active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for kneading

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup coconut milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

 Directions

  •  Put the coconut, sugar, yeast and water into a small glass bowl and stir together, then set aside for about 15 minutes (so that the yeast can feast)
  • Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, coconut milk and butter and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, stir until well combined
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead,  until soft and elastic, for 5 to 6 minutes
  • Prep a clean, dry bowl by lightly spraying it with olive oil or butter
  • Form the dough into a ball, dust generously all over with flour and transfer to the prepared bowl. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot to let rise until it’s doubled in size (takes about an hour and a half)
  • Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each into a ball. Arrange the balls of dough on a large greased baking sheet or an ungreased baking stone, spacing them 3 to 4 inches apart (these suckers swell as they bake)
  • Set these aside in a warm spot, uncovered, to let rise until doubled in size again (about 45 minutes)
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Bake the rolls until they are a deep golden brown and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes

 

 

Bittersweet chocolate tart with pretzel crust

When I decided that I wanted to make a sinfully chocolate dessert for Christmas dinner with my siblings I went in search of recipes.  There were brownies and cakes, truffles and pots de creme, bread puddings and pies to choose from, but none were quite right to finish off our night of gluttony.  Then I came across this recipe and while it wasn’t perfect, it was workable.

What we have here is a shortbread type of crust which uses pretzels, rather than nuts, for a bit of texture.  The filling is a basic ganache, and it’s topped with simple crème fraiche (but you could also substitute whipped cream, ice cream, or even a yogurt dollop).  It is rich, silky, not too sweet, and absolutely lovely is small servings.  It pairs very nicely with a cup of coffee too 😉

Crust

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups coarsely crushed pretzels

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 large egg

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

Filling

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon sea salt

sea salt, crushed pretzels and crème fraîche, for serving

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with 3/4 cup of the pretzels and the confectioners’ sugar at a low speed until creamy
  • Beat in the flour and egg
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup of pretzels, being sure to leave some pretzel pieces intact
  • Flatten the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour
  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • Roll out the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap to the size of your tart pan
  • Press the dough into the tart pan and patch any tears, trim the overhanging dough and refrigerate the shell for another 30 minutes
  • Line the shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (you can substitute a cake pan for the pie weights)
  • Bake the shell for 30 minutes
  • Remove the parchment and weights and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the tart shell is firm and just browned
  • Let the shell cool completely, then brush the melted chocolate over the bottom and up the side and refrigerate for 10 minutes
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer, then take it off of the heat and add the chocolate and let it stand for 5 minutes
  • Whisk until smooth, then add the vanilla (or you can substitute any liqueur) and sea salt
  • Transfer the filling to a bowl and let it cool to room temp for about an hour
  • Pour the filling into the shell and refrigerate until set (about 4 hours)
  • Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and crushed pretzels. Cut into wedges, top with crème fraîche (or other topping of your choice) and serve

Espresso Dark Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

In our family, one of the Christmas morning traditions has become this decadent shortbread which melts in your mouth.  My sister came across the recipe a few years ago on Smitten, and we’ve been making them ever since.The cookie is wonderfully buttery, with a tiny bit of sweet, the lovely background aroma of espresso, and itty-bitty chunks of chocolate.

As far as chocolate goes, I will say that my personal favorite for baking in this cookie is Valrhona guanaja.  I am able to buy it at Whole Foods in whatever size chunk I may need, then I cut it up myself, at home, with a serrated bread knife.  This way my chocolate is minus the stabilizers that are used in commercial chips and I get to have a variety of sizes and shapes of chocolate bits.

Ingredients:
1 oz. fresh brewed espresso
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions:

  • Working with a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners sugar together until the mixture is very smooth
  • Beat in the vanilla and espresso
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until blended
  • Fold in the chopped chocolate
  • Using a rubber spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick.  As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so that it doesn’t make creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, and for up to 2 days
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and cut it open. Turn the chilled dough out onto the board and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares
  • Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines all the way through the cookies
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (Note:  The cookies will be very pale as they shouldn’t take on much color)
  • Transfer to a cooling rack & cool to room temp before serving or freezing (I make these about two weeks before Christmas and freeze them, then pull them out on Christmas eve to thaw in the fridge overnight)

 

Mushroom, White Bean and Collard Green Stew

Do you typically avoid vegetarian recipes because you assume that they will be bland, possibly lacking in protein, and just not your favorite type of fare?  Many folks do.  I would like to change your mind with this recipe.  It is flavorful,  hearty, colorful, packed with protein (17 grams per serving),  low in saturated fat, and just fantastic.  Tender mushrooms, creamy white beans, crunchy collards, a sweet and earthy base- I just can’t say enough wonderful things about this dish.  Try it- you’ll like it 😉

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided

1 large white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup Marsala

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 teaspoons dried rosemary

1 tablespoon dried thyme

12 ounces fresh mushrooms (I used 6oz. of button and 6oz. of Portobello) trimmed and thinly sliced

2 teaspoons tamari

2 tablespoons whole spelt flour

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 (15oz.) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch collard greens, tough stems removed and leaves thinly sliced

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Bring a soup pot up to temp over a medium heat and add the olive oil
  • Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until you see the blaring white color begin to diminish
  • Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary & thyme and sauté for another 2 minutes (you will begin to really smell the herbs)
  • Add 1/2 cup broth and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions are all tender
  • Stir in the Marsala, turn up the heat to medium-high and cook about 2 minutes or until the wine evaporates
  • Add the mushrooms and reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms release their liquid and start to get tender, stirring once
  • Stir in remaining 1 3/4 cups broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat
  • While that’s warming up, in a small bowl whisk together tamari, flour, nutritional yeast and 1/4 cup of hot broth to make a thick paste
  • Whisk (do not attempt to stir with a spoon no matter how good you think you are as you will end up with lumps which will cook into dumplings- trust me) the paste into the simmering broth mixture, stirring constantly
  • Bring the stew back to a simmer and cook for a minute, whisking constantly
  • Stir in the beans and greens, cover and cook for 5 minutes
  • Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve

We chose to have our stew with a nice loaf of French country bread baked by El Jardin and purchased at the Northampton Tuesday Market (which is still on through next week).  A sourdough loaf with whole grains and toasted sesame seeds on top.

This recipe was adapted from one by Whole Foods Market.