Showing posts with label homemade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homemade. Show all posts

Sunday, August 17, 2014

DIY Veggie Cup Noodles #SundaySupper

Crispy fresh vegetables and fragrant fresh or quick-cook egg noodles are the basis of this do-it-yourself cup noodle recipe. Use the vegetables you love or have in your refrigerator! 

Despite the heat here in Dubai, the signs of the new school year are already starting to pop up in stores. I was interested to see that the French hypermarket Carrefour has the list of school supplies required by the French curriculum schools as well as French stationery products for sale. It was like being at home in a Walmart again in August. I don’t know who first thought of gathering the school supply lists and making them available for harried parents, but they deserve a medal of honor!

This week our Sunday Supper group is trying to make Back to School easier for you with great ideas for take along lunches, snacks and quick dinners. Many thanks to Tammi from Momma’s Meals and her co-host Gwen from Simply Healthy Family for hosting this useful event!

Ingredients to serve one
1 nest of thin, quick-cook egg noodles or about 2 3/4 oz or 80g fresh egg noodles
1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder, or ¼ cube vegetable stock
Small knob fresh ginger
1/2 garlic clove,
1/4 red or green chili

Vegetables I used (Mine weighed about 5 1/2 oz or 155g in total):
Spring onion
Edamame  (I used frozen, peeled edamame that was thawed.)
Snowpeas or mange tout
Young asparagus
Fresh baby corn
Brussels Sprouts

Other suggested vegetables:
Bak Choy
Bean sprouts
Green peas
Fresh spinach,

Optional: 3 hard-boiled quail eggs or perhaps cubes of tofu

For serving:
2-3 teaspoons soy sauce
Wedge lime

Mince your chili pepper and cut your vegetables into thin strips or slices. I have a handy tool that juliennes my carrots very easily, but if you don’t, feel free to grate yours. The thinner you can cut the veggies, the better they will “cook” in the boiling water.

Put your noodles and bouillon powder into a sealable heatproof container. Add in the minced chili pepper then grate in the ginger and garlic.

Mix the vegetables up and pile them on top of the noodles.

Add the eggs to the top, if using. You can put the lime wedge in as well for easy transport. Don’t forget to bring along some soy sauce.

When you are ready to eat, remove the lime wedge and add boiling water to the container.

Close the lid and leave for eight -10 minutes. I gave mine a gentle shake and swirl now and then to help the powdered bouillon dissolve and to distribute the flavors of chili, garlic and ginger evenly around the container.

A word of warning: Despite its rubber seal, my "cup" is not leak proof when filled with liquids but it works fine for transporting the ingredients before the boiling water is added. You might want to check your vessel before heading down the hall from the break room to your office or classroom if you are making this at work. Always carry hot food cautiously with dry towels or oven mitts.

Advice part two: If you keep this in the refrigerator at work, take it out well before you are planning to eat so that it can come to room temperature before adding the boiling water. Otherwise, the water will be cooled too quickly and the vegetables and noodles may not be "cooked" enough for your liking.

Squeeze in the lime and add soy sauce to taste.


Recipe adapted from River Cottage Veg* by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Of course, being British, Hugh calls them Pot Noodles.

Are you tired of packing that same old lunch or looking for quick evening meals for busy school and work days? Have a look at the great list of recipes and tips our Sunday Supper group has for you today!

Back to School Beginnings
Back to School Lunches and Simple Suppers
Back to School Sips
Back to School Super Snacks
Back to School Sweets and Treats
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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Homemade Spinach and Cheese Ravioli #CookbooksandCalphalon

Making your own pasta dough is right up there on the satisfaction scale with baking bread. You know what’s in it. It’s fresh and the taste is far superior to store-bought. Best of all, it’s surprisingly easy. 

You might notice, if you stopped by earlier, that I am posting twice today. And that’s because, despite my prior Sunday Supper commitment (I’m hosting for the very first time, guys! So excited about this week’s theme: Saving Summer!) I couldn’t turn down a request from my fellow blogger Colleen from Souffle Bombay to talk about cookbooks and what they mean to me.

I am a card-carrying, silver-plated, officially stamped, internationally certified member of The Cookbook Junkies. And that’s the truth. But today, at Colleen’s request, in exchange for some pretty cool giveaways for you, my readers, (from Calphalon and Page Street Publishing – Yay!) I am going to tell you about one special cookbook, in my case, it’s the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, 1980 edition. It was given to me and my husband for our very first married Christmas, back in 1986, by my mother-in-law.

My husband thumbed its pages more than I did that first year. He was working offshore so, on his time off, he was househusband, cooking meals and doing laundry while I was at work. I’d often get phone calls with random questions, like “What exactly is a Dutch oven and do we have one?” and I’d know he was planning dinner, hunched over that big book with its four-color photographs of Every Single Dish (no kidding) and making his shopping list. He made a pretty mean lasagna back in those days!

It was the only cookbook I took with me when we first moved overseas in 1987. In the days long before the internet and handy Google searches, it was my lifeline to classic recipes with tips on hostessing, how to fold fancy napkins or calculate food and drink amounts for party guests and, before too long, baby showers. With each move we have made over the years, and no matter how many cookbooks I’ve since collected, Old Faithful was the one cookbook that came in the suitcase. I didn’t dare put Good Housekeeping in the shipment! What if it went missing? And, of course, I’d need it before the shipment could arrive six weeks later anyway. I have made recipes from its grease-stained leaves more times than I can count so it broke my heart when it started to fall apart. Its pages were spattered with dishes and desserts and gravies from family meals too numerous to count. Sticky baby fingerprints got ever increasingly bigger as our daughters grew into capable young women and became competent on their own in the kitchen. But far from outlasting its usefulness, and despite its own shattered spine, our Good Housekeeping still formed the backbone of the kitchen repertoire.

The great book was probably close to 20 years old when I first searched online for that same 1980 edition and bought a stranger’s less-used spare. I knew it was only a matter of time till the original would have to be retired. And then it suddenly occurred to me that my daughters would need their own copies when they moved away from home! Otherwise, how would they make their daddy’s pancakes and waffles? Or our family’s apple pie? Not to mention the basic yellow cake that celebrated so many early birthdays! Boxed cake mix? Pfft. Couldn’t find those most places we’d lived, even if I'd wanted to. I found two more copies online and held them dear until it was time to write the inscriptions in the front covers and send them, and their girls, out into the world.

In due time, the original cookbook was indeed retired and is now up high in a safe cupboard, carefully inscribed newlywed Christmas message intact, its same edition stand-in doing the same remarkable job in my kitchen.

It’s still the only cookbook that comes in my suitcase when we move.

Making fresh pasta
Whenever my daughters are home, we make ravioli with the fresh pasta recipe in our most dependable cookbook. If friends are around, everyone gets into the act. I took these photos a couple of years back and never have posted them or this recipe. But this seemed like the perfect time to share. Pasta making should be a group affair, dare I even say, celebration. Just try to ignore the cluttered counter, okay?

For the pasta dough:
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups or 280- 315g flour (plus extra for rolling out the pasta)
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon olive oil or salad oil
1 teaspoon salt

For the ravioli filling:
3 oz or 85g grated mozzarella
3 oz or 85g cream cheese
1 3/4 oz or 50g freshly grated Parmesan
4 1/4 oz or 120g frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 egg
Few grinds fresh black pepper

In large bowl, combine 1 cup or 125g flour, 1/3 cup or 80ml water and remaining dough ingredients. With mixer at slow speed, beat for two minutes, occasionally scraping bowl with a rubber spatula.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Wrap in cling film and let stand 30 minutes.

While the dough rests, we can get on to the ravioli filling. It couldn’t be simpler. Mix all the ingredients together well in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Once the dough has rested, cut off a small piece about the size of a tennis ball or perhaps just a little smaller. Wrap the dough again with the cling film.

Flour it well and use a rolling pin or a pasta roller to roll it out quite thinly to the size of your ravioli plaque.

Flour your ravioli plaque liberally and lay the sheet of pasta on top. Fill each hole with about a teaspoon of the filling.

Cut another piece of dough off of the big ball and, following the same instructions, roll it out to the size of your ravioli plaque.

Use a pastry brush to wet the pasta on the plaque between the spoons of filling.

Carefully, starting at one end, lay the second sheet of pasta on top of the filled one, sticking the two sheets together and pressing out the air as you go along.

Turn the ravioli plaque over and let the filled pasta drop out onto your countertop. If it sticks, just gently pry it off.

Trim the ravioli around the edges and cut them apart.

Set them aside on a plate lined with cling film and flour.

Continue the process until all the ravioli are rolled out, filled and cut apart. If you can get an assembly line going, it goes much faster. And it's much more fun!

Bribe the workers, if you must.

The ravioli can be stored in the refrigerator, covered with cling film or even frozen until you are ready to boil them.

To cook, boil water with salt and a little olive oil in a large pot, as you would for regular pasta and lower the ravioli in gently. Fresh pasta only takes a few minutes to cook.

See that? It's my biggest Calphalon pot.

Serve with the sauce of your choice.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to my fellow Cookbooks & Calphalon bloggers who have chosen recipes from or inspired by a cookbook that means a lot to them and are sharing their food stories.




Now on to the GIVEAWAYS! 

Many thanks to Colleen from Souffle Bombay for organizing this great event and to our sponsors Page Street Publishing and Calphalon for generously donating the items for our giveaways. Please be aware that these prizes will only ship to US addresses. You must be 18 or older to enter.

First Prize 

Second Prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway
And another chance to win from Calphalon!

Also, now through September 1st, Calphalon is celebrating couples! From the first meal they create together in their new home to the meal they share on their 25th anniversary, couples cook up memories! The cookware they choose serves as the foundation for which these “Couples Cooking” memories are made.

Calphalon wants to recognize these #CouplesCooking moments by asking couples to share pictures of the meals they cook together for a chance to win $1,000 in Calphalon cookware! Calphalon is inviting couples to post photos of the meals they prepare with their significant other on Calphalon’s Facebook page.  To enter, couples will be asked to share why the dish is unique or special to them and use the hashtag #CouplesCooking. How fun is THAT?!

***Disclaimer: This giveaway is being sponsored by Page Street Publishing and Calphalon. Cookbook & Calphalon Bloggers have not received products or been compensated as a part of this giveaway. ***

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Easy Homemade Almond Marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows are actually quite easy to make but I have to warn you that they will spoil you for store-bought marshmallows forever, so wonderful are they. 

I have a few things on my bucket list that I want to make some day. Real puff pastry, ice cream, my friend Ishita’s mustard fish, marshmallows and Jamie Oliver’s wine-braised chicken with grapes, just to name a few. My friend Jenni Field, of Pastry Chef Online, dreamed up an ice cream challenge that would take care of two of those in one fell swoop. She wanted to take her Ice Cream Tuesdays to another level by adding marshmallow in some form and invited a group of us to join her. I could have taken the easy way out and used store bought but I figured it was time to step up and do the marshmallows myself.

Store bought marshmallows are light morsels best set aflame and eaten in front of a campfire, with sticky fingers and ash. These homemade ones are their distant ethereal cousin, the one that shows up at the wedding and makes the groom reconsider his commitment to the bride. The groomsmen fall all over themselves to seat her and the bridesmaids all want to be her. Elderly relatives all nudge each other and remark with awe, how she has grown and blossomed since they last saw her as a gangly, awkward preteen at the family reunion years ago! But you know what? She’s sweet and unassuming, not brash or overbearing, a genuinely nice person that everyone can’t help but like. May I introduce my almond marshmallows? I think you are going to like them.

4 1/2 oz or 125g whole raw almonds
2 tablespoons powdered gelatin
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon or 133ml cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups 0r 340g sugar
1 cup or 240ml corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 cup or 125g powdered sugar
1 cup or 135g cornstarch

Toast your almonds in a small heavy skillet over a medium low flame. Toss or stir the nuts frequently to prevent scorching. The almonds are properly toasted when they are light brown and smell wonderfully nutty. Set aside to cool for a few minutes and then pulse in a food processor until you have small toasted almond crumbs.

Dissolve your gelatin in the cold water in the bowl of your stand mixer or another mixing bowl if using a hand held mixer.

(If your gelatin instructions say to dissolve in hot water, like mine do, heat three of tablespoons of the water and dissolve the gelatin in that. Allow to cool and then gradually add the cold water to your gelatin mixture, stirring continually so it doesn’t lump up on you, then put the gelatin mixture in your mixing bowl and continue as follows.)

My gelatin was made in New Zealand. I have no idea why it is brown but when dissolved, it turned clear. Whew.

Add the salt and almond extract to the mixing bowl with the water and gelatin. Stir well.

Meanwhile, mix your powdered sugar with your cornstarch and set aside.

Spray a half-sheet pan with non-stick spray. Line the pan with cling film, making sure it goes up the sides of the pan as well. Make sure you don’t have any bubbles under the cling film. You want the cling film stuck tight all over the pan.

Now spray the cling film with more non-stick spray and put it on thick. Use a sifter or strainer to cover the whole pan with a good layer of the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture.

Sprinkle half of the ground almonds over the cornstarch/sugar mixture. Set the pan aside.

In a medium sized heavy bottomed pot, Stir your sugar and corn syrup with about a tablespoon and a half of water and bring to a low boil. Put the lid on and cook for two or three minutes more. Remove the lid and put your candy thermometer in the liquid. Heat till 244°F or 118°C.

When your syrup reaches temperature, pour it carefully down the inside of your mixing bowl.

If you are using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment or beat on medium for a few minutes.

That's steam, people!

Once it’s all mixed together, turn the knob to high and beat until the mixture triples in volume. This is such fun to watch, as the clear liquid turns to fluffy white stuff.

Use non-stick spray to coat a rubber spatula and use it to scrape the beautiful sticky white stuff into your prepared pan.

Spread the marshmallow cream evenly around the pan, using more spray on your spatula whenever necessary.

Now spray the top of your marshmallow cream liberally.

Sprinkle on the rest of your toasted almond crumbs.  Now use your sifter or strainer again to cover the top of the marshmallow cream with a thick layer of the powdered sugar/ cornstarch mixture. No shiny marshmallow should peek out.  Put it on THICK! Don't be shy.

Set aside, uncovered, for several hours in a cool dry place to set.

When the marshmallow feels spongy yet firm, cut it into squares with a greased knife and coat all the sides in more powdered sugar/cornstarch to stop the pieces from sticking together.

A little tip: After you have cut a few slices and removed them to a big bowl with powdered sugar/cornstarch, you can cut the following slices and roll them over and over on the cling film, which will coat the long cut sides. Since you put a healthy layer of that stuff in the pan, right? Then you just have to coat the short sides as you cut the long pieces into squares.

Jenni was right. These marshmallows are like a whole different thing, compared to store-bought marshmallows. They are soooo good. And soft and fluffy and nutty and divine. She's made a wonderful video of her making marshmallows live that you should watch too.

Check back this Tuesday when I’ll be putting some of them in homemade no-churn (no ice cream machine needed!) coffee Amaretto ice cream, along with some candied almonds.

But don’t worry, this makes plenty enough marshmallows just to eat straight.


If it just happens to be your helper's seventh birthday when you are making these, share a couple with him.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Custard

Last March I shared a story with you about a lovely man and his love of banana cream pie.  But it occurred to me that the vanilla custard itself deserved its own post so folks can find it with a quick search.  It's simple to make and you can use it in a trifle or as filling between layers in a special cake or even just eat it with a spoon.  Sure you can use custard powders but they have negligible nutritional value and some odd sounding ingredients, as well as sugar.  This custard, on the other hand, has fresh egg yolks, so it would helpful if you are trying to boost the protein in someone's diet.  But MOST importantly, it tastes delicious!

The following amounts make a little more than 1 3/4 cups or 425ml of custard.  Just so you know.

1⁄2 cup or 110g sugar
1⁄3 cup or 42g all-purpose flour
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 1⁄4 cups or 530ml milk
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon or 15g butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In 2-quart saucepan (no heat!) mix sugar, flour and salt. Stir in milk until smooth.

Make sure you get ALL the lumps out before turning on the heat.

Over medium heat, cook mixture, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and begins to boil (about 10 minutes). Boil one minute. Remove immediately from heat and set aside.

See the tiny bubbles? It's gently boiling.

Separate your egg yolks from your whites, by gently transferring the yolk from one half of the shell to the other, putting the whites directly into a sealable plastic container for the refrigerator. (Later, you can make something lovely with these!) Put the yolks in a bowl with enough room to whisk.

Beat egg yolks quickly with a whisk, while drizzling in about a 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture. Quick beating and slow drizzling are essential so that you don’t end up with cooked eggs.

Slowly pour egg mixture into the saucepan, stirring rapidly to prevent lumping.

I know it doesn't look like I was quickly stirring but that is just because I fake poured for
the camera and then really poured and stirred like crazy after. 

Occasionally, scrape the saucepan with a rubber spatula.

Over low heat, cook, stirring constantly, until very thick (do not boil) and mixture mounds when dropped from spoon.

Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla.

Congratulations, you have made homemade vanilla custard. Once the butter has melted, pour the custard into a metal bowl. Cover its surface with plastic wrap to prevent skin forming. Refrigerate until set, about four hours.  This delicious homemade custard can be used in a variety of desserts when fully set or simply eaten with a spoon when soft set, after it cools.


When I made it again for this last photo, my eggs in Dubai had much more yellow yolks.
Hence the beautiful yellow in the bowl of custard. 

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