Tuesday, February 24, 2015

orange jelly with chantilly cream

In her headnote in Dinner Chez Moi, Laura Calder says this jelly is both sexy and wobbly.

That description was enough to draw me in. Two years later, I must have made this jelly ten or twelve times, and it still comes out sexy and wobbly, and just exactly the way jelly must have been before commercial Jell-o came along.

It also tastes pleasingly like a creamsicle with the delicate taste of real oranges and a very soft chantilly cream settling into its wobbly nooks and crannies.

It's a very forgiving recipe for having just four ingredients  as long as you do the gelatin right. Sometimes, I don't have enough oranges and I throw in some freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice, and that also makes a lovely orange jelly.

Lately, it has also occurred to me that these jelly ratios would work with almost any fruit juice. Come summer, I am most looking forward to trying Saskatoon berries and black currants. Oh, and what about rhubarb juice in the spring? Imagine a pale pink wobbly spring jelly. Sigh.

But for now, it's winter and oranges are abundant. This particular jelly used a combination of navel and tangelo minneola oranges, as well as one lonely Seville that didn't make it into this year's batch of whisky marmalade.

It set softly into its wobbly self and makes me dream of sunshine and places where oranges grow.

one year ago: eating out in japan
two years ago: panna cotta with red wine syrup
three years ago: caramel chocolate mousse
four years ago: turnip puff to the rescue!
five years ago: olympic mint nanaimo bars

orange jelly with chantilly cream
from Dinner Chez Moi by Laura Calder
serves 6

2 1/2 c. (625 mL) freshly-squeezed orange juice (from about 8 oranges)
4 tsp. (20 mL) gelatin
1/4 c. (55 g.) sugar
Lightly sweetened vanilla-scented whipping cream, loosely whipped (for serving)

Set out a 3-cup (740 mL) bowl.

Strain your freshly-squeezed orange juice through a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside.

Get out a small glass bowl and pour 1/4 cup water into it. Sprinkle gelatin over. Set aside to soften.

In a small pot, stir the sugar into another 1/4 cup water. Boil about 3 minutes to dissolve. Whisk the sugar syrup into the orange juice. Set aside.

Boil an inch of water in a small saucepan and turn the heat off. Set the small bowl of gelatin in the hot water for a few minutes. Stir to melt it into liquid. Once it's fluid and clear, whisk into the orange juice mixture. Strain and pour into your serving bowl. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.

Serve in small bowls with runny chantilly cream.

Monday, February 16, 2015

breakfast: peanut butter quinoa oatmeal

Now that we're on the new breakfast routine of oatmeal and granola, I've found myself missing peanut butter.

For years, I particularly looked forward to my toast with peanut butter and honey in the morning. I am an Adams peanut butter fanatic, and have been known to have family members import Adams when I live in a province where it's not sold (Ontario, I'm looking at you).

Luckily, Adams is sold in Alberta, so I use it in everything I possibly can: homemade granola bars, peanut butter crispy balls, you get the drift.

Well, it finally occurred to me that I didn't have to miss eating peanut butter in the morning just because I was eating oatmeal. I could make peanut butter oatmeal!

And because you can't have peanut butter without some kind of sweetener to keep it from being too sticky, I threw in some raisins to plump up while it cooks, and later some maple syrup. And because smooth peanut butter and oatmeal could use a bit of crunch, I threw in some quinoa.

You might look at this recipe and think the technique looks funny. I know, it looks funny, but it's actually brilliant. Megan Gordon came up with this way of toasting oats in a bit of butter and then letting their liquid soak in, so they taste toasty and keep some of their shape. It is genius. Trust me.

There you go: peanut butter quinoa oatmeal with maple syrup and raisins. We keep it in a Tupperware container in the fridge, and heat up small bowls every morning in the microwave. Splash a bit of milk, drizzle a little extra maple syrup, and my peanut butter breakfast is all ready to go  in less than a minute.

one year ago: gluten-free crêpes
two years ago: korean food in jasper
three years ago: eating out in vancouver, vancouver island and edmonton
four years ago: bacon-wrapped dates with olives and almonds
five years ago: little lemon cakes

peanut butter quinoa oatmeal
inspired by Megan Gordon's oatmeal technique in Whole-Grain Mornings
serves 2 for a work week of breakfasts

1 tbsp. butter
2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. quinoa
1 c. milk
2 1/2 c. water*, heated in the microwave to hot
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt or 1/4 tsp. regular salt
1/3 c. salted peanut butter
3 tbsp. maple syrup

Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Melt the butter. Add the oats and stir every minute or so for about 4 minutes. Stir in quinoa and cook 1 more minute. Keep a close eye on the oats and quinoa to make sure they don't burn, just get a bit golden.

Stand back and pour the milk in. Stir. Stand back again, and pour the heated water in. Stir in the raisins and salt. Ease it back to a light boil, and turn the heat off. Put the lid on and let it sit 15  20 minutes.

Open the lid and see if the oats are now tender. Stir the peanut butter and maple syrup in. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately with a bit more maple syrup and milk on top, or keep in the fridge and microwave little bowls to eat each morning.

* I like my oatmeal quite thick. If you like yours a bit runnier, try adding another 1/2 cup of water.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

tomato soup with two fennels

I am having a bit of a moment with A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.

Before The Never-Ending Flu of 2015 struck a couple weeks ago, I made espresso-walnut toffee, stewed prunes with citrus and cinnamon, and fennel salad with Asian pear and Parmesan.*

Now, A Homemade Life is due back at the library and I'm finally getting over The Never-Ending Flu of 2015, so I thought I could sneak in one more recipe before returning it  and before I go out and buy the book. (I am very strict about not buying cookbooks until I've a taken them out of the library at least three times. I'm ready to commit.)

I thought a pot of soup would be good to have on hand this week, and the Italian store has been wooing me with its cheap, fresh fennel bulbs. So I pulled out a couple cans of San Marzano tomatoes, and set about making Sunday lunch.

This soup has two fennels  those luminous crisp bulbs and crunchy little fennel seeds. It makes for a hearty soup, especially considering it could be vegan if you use water instead of chicken broth. The sliced fennel softens but keeps its shape and every so often you get a fennel seed like a jewel of intense anise flavour on your spoon.

We ate ours with toasted bread with homemade garlic butter and Parmesan, and it made for a fine post-recovery Sunday lunch.

And if you're wondering what I want to try next from A Homemade Life? Pistachio cake with honeyed apricots, buckwheat pancakes, fruit-nut balls, and coeur à la crème with raspberry purée. To name a few.

* We actually made that salad three times in five days. What can I say? It's a fennel and Asian pear revelation.

one year ago: chocolate coconut macaroons
two years ago: Dutch babies and turning 3
three years ago: gumdrop cake and turning 2
four years ago: whisky marmalade
five years ago: creamy celeriac soup and muesli

tomato soup with two fennels
very slightly adapted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
serves 6  8

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, quartered and sliced thinly
2 medium fennel bulbs (about 11/4 pounds), trimmed, quartered from root to stalk, and sliced thinly  and if there are fennel fronds, chop them finely and set them aside to garnish
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with a string*
2 tsp. fennel seeds
2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, best quality you can get
water or chicken stock
3/4 tsp. sea salt or to taste**
very small dollop honey, to taste
a splash or two of red wine vinegar

Heat a large Dutch oven up over medium heat. Pour the olive oil in. Add the onion and fennel and stir. Stirring occasionally, cook for 5  6 minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Stir the garlic in and cook another 5  7 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is very soft. Stir the thyme and fennel seeds in and cook about 2 minutes, until you can smell them.

Pour the two cans of tomatoes in. Fill one can with water or chicken stock (I used chicken stock) and stir in. Bring to a steady simmer, and cook uncovered for about 45 minutes, until it tastes like soup and the fennel is softer but still holds its shape.

Add some salt and taste. Add more salt if necessary. Add a very small dollop of honey and a splash of red wine vinegar. Taste and decide if it needs any more salt, honey or vinegar. Add the reserved fennel fronds. Serve.

* Molly calls for 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves chopped, but I find stripping thyme stalks to be the most tedious task in the world. You could, if you like that sort of thing.
** I just got a bag of very inexpensive sel gris and tried it  worked very well