Friday, January 16, 2015

Homemade Yogurt, Finally!

I have tried a few times to make homemade yogurt, but rather than jars of divine creamy yogurt, I ended up with soupy sour milk. It's an expensive experiment if it doesn't work right. Thanks to a conversation with my friend Leah of Soul Fire Farm this summer, I learned a new technique that is turning out perfect yogurt every time, (two quarts for the price of a half gallon of milk, much cheaper than store-bought, and no containers to recycle).  I often use Farmers Cow milk which is a local CT dairy cooperative of small farmers, or organic or milk from grass feed/pasture raised cows so it is hormone free. 

The key to this successful recipe is holding the yogurt mixture overnight in a cooler filled with extra bottles of hot water to keep the temperature warm enough for the good bacterias added to the milk to work their magic and turn into yogurt. Many traditional recipes say to wrap the warm milk mixed with starter in towels and keep in an oven with the light on, but even in summer, this was not warm enough in my house to make the yogurt thicken.  

Good yogurt is filled with probiotics which are naturally occurring good bacterias that help our bodies digest food and fight off germs and infections. My daughter recently had to take antibiotics for Pneumonia, and we have been making sure that she eats or drinks yogurt, sometimes with extra probiotics mixed in, every day, to balance the effects of the medication which kills all bacteria in your body both good and bad. Yogurt and other naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi also contain probiotics which are great for your health. 

Hope you enjoy this and try out this simple recipe at home!

Homemade Yogurt
makes 2 quarts yogurt

1/2 gallon milk
1/4 to 1/2 cup plain yogurt
4 quart sized jars (or the equivalent)

Heat up a half gallon of 2% milk (you can use whole milk if you prefer) to 180° - measure this with a cooking thermometer. Remove from heat and let cool to 110°. 

While the milk is cooling, boil a big pot of water and place your jars and lids in it to sterilize by boiling for 10 minutes or so. Prepare a cooler by lining it with dish towels. Fill two of your jars with the boiling water from your sterilizing pot, screw the tops on the hot water jars and place them in the cooler. This is going to keep the cooler warm while your yogurt develops. 

When the milk has cooled to 110° stir the plain yogurt into the milk thoroughly. Pour into two sterilized quart-size mason jars, screw the covers on, and place in ithe towel lined nsulated cooler with the jars of hot water. Wrap the towel over all the jars and close the cooler tightly. Let sit for 8 to 12 hours.  Place set yogurt in the refrigerator to chill. Save a little of this yogurt as starter for your next batch. ENJOY!!!

Sorry the pictures are not laid out well, but they should give you an idea of the process! 

Please share your tips and techniques for homemade yogurt (or other treats) below!






Saturday, December 20, 2014

Some Holiday Treats


It is that season of sweets, treats and things cooked in oil so I thought I would pull together a few of my favorites off my blog from the past few years and throw in a some delicious recipes that have peaked my attention from the food realm for my own holiday table this year. I have not been posting as frequently as I used to (sorry!), life has many demands right now, but I am still getting to it once and a while, so keep checking back, or sign up in the side bar to the right for automatic notification of new posts. 
Happy Holidays and Winter Solstice 
I hope you are all warm, surrounded by love and well fed
- Tagan

Click the links below for recipes and more info


Holiday Cookies and Treats:
Rugelach, Raw Cocoa and Walnut truffles, Honeycomb Candy and Cardamom Bread (a Swedish Xmas treat)

Doughnuts (Sufganiot for Hanukkah)

Latkes
While Hanukkah is almost over, Sunday is a perfect day to mix up another batch of Latkes!

Orange Pepper Spiced Almonds
Spiced nuts are a great addition to the holiday cookie assortments. Satisfying, hearty and a nutritious balance to all the sugary sweets this season can offer up.

Clove Spiked Oranges - Pomanders: a fragrant holiday decoration







Smitten Kitchen has been posting some fabulous cookies and holiday treats this year, check out her blog. The crescent jam and cheese cookies looked especially good to me. 

What are some of your favorite holiday or cookie recipes?
Happy Holidays!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Apple Slab Pie

If you have made it out to any apple orchards this season (or if you are just buying big bags of apples from the grocery store) and are wondering what to do with the abundance of fall, this is a delicious and easy fall treat you can make: Apple Slab Pie. You don't have to get caught up in making a perfect looking pie crust, just take some pie dough (or good frozen puff pastry if you are feeling lazy) roll it out a little bigger than the size of a sheet pan, fill it with some of your favorite fall apples (or pears) a little sugar if you want, some spices and a few pats of butter. Bake and you are done. It makes a wonderful dessert for a crowd, and has a great fruit/crust ratio. I served this up with maple sweetened whipped cream, but greek yogurt, ice cream, or cheddar cheese are all great too. Happy Fall!

Apple Slab Pie
Some people consider a slab pie to have a top crust, and some might call this a gallette, either way, it is a rustic free-form pie and easy to make...enjoy!

Full recipe pie dough (recipe below)
10 apples (about 4 pounds) -a mix of sweet and tart apples are great
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon clove or cardamom
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh grated if you have it)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (or other sweetener that you like)
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg - beaten
coarse sugar for sprinkling

  1. Make pie dough (below) and chill for one hour or over night. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 1 inch bigger than the size of your sheet pan. It shouldn't be more than 1/4 inch thick in any spots. Prick the bottom of the pie shell all over and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Peel and slice apples into 1/2 inch wedges. Toss with spices and sugar. 
  4. Remove dough from fridge. Spread apples evenly over the crust leaving a 2 1/2 inch border all the way around the edge. Using your fingers, dot the apples with the butter.  Fold the edge of the crust over the edge of the apple filling, crimping a bit in the corners if necessary. 
  5. Brush the top of the crust with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with coarse sugar (regular granulated will work fine if that is what you have).
  6. Place pan on the bottom or middle to bottom rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes in the 400° oven until dough starts to brown slightly. Turn heat down to 350, continue baking until apples are tender,  and the crust is dark golden brown about 40 minutes more. Check the bottom of the crust using a spatula if possible to see if it is browning (and not burning). If needed, move to the top rack of the oven to cook apples and not burn the bottom of the crust. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

My Favorite Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or part whole wheat flour or wheat germ)
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup ice water
1 teaspoon vinegar (white or cider)
  1. Cut butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Measure and sift all of the dry ingredients. In a mixer, food processor or using two forks,  cut the butter into the dough until it is the size of larger peas or small grapes. Some larger sized piece of butter are good, just pinch them flat. 
  2. Add the ice water and vinegar and mix dough till combined, dough should be tacky, but not sticky. If the dough is crumbling apart, it is too dry, add a spoonful more water. Gently form the dough into a rectangle, about 1 inch thick, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour or over night longer until well chilled. Dough can be frozen and then thawed as well. 

If you have tons of apples (or pears) and want some other ideas, check out this delicious
Apple Crisp with Cider and Spiced Prunes.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pizza from the Garden

When I pass pizza dough in the Italian market or even the whole wheat ones at Trader Joe's it is often hard for me to resist. I love making my own dough, but this bag of pre-made dough makes for a super quick weeknight dinner and is so much cheaper than ordering pizza.

Pizza From the Garden
To make Pizza, put the cold dough onto a well oiled sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap. let sit in a warm area until it is very soft and has risen considerably. Press the dough out to the edges of the pan with your finger tips. Top with whatever you like and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven.

The pizza pictured is rubbed with olive oil, dotted with fresh ricotta cheese, herbs, finely chopped kale, and sliced tomatoes from the garden (big red onions and tiny sun gold cherry tomatoes) and sprinkled with some Pecorino Romano cheese.  Bake until golden on the edges, rotating pans to different racks in the oven as needed to cook the bottoms and tops evenly.

Do you make pizza at home? What else do you do with pre-made pizza dough?

Friday, September 26, 2014

The End of Summer: Meals from the Garden


First I must apologize that it has been a long while since I have written anything for my blog. I have missed it, and missed sharing food and thoughts with you all. I have been trying to create more balance and joy in my life and staying off my computer and spending more time with family and doing things like art and dance have been key to that shift. Writing and blogging about food also bring me so much joy, so now, I am getting started again so stay tuned for more posts and let me know if there is anything you are wanting to hear/learn about. 

Since it has been a while, I thought it would be nice to share what has gone in my garden all summer. As usually it is an over crowded and weedy (but productive) bunch of raised beds and a beautiful tangle of tomato plants I generally refer to as the "Tomato Forest". In spring I can never believe that the tomato plants will actually get as large as they do, and want to plant as many of them as possible. 

Mostly we eat copious amounts of salad from our garden, fresh greens, cucumbers, numerous kinds of tomatoes and herbs, but there are occasional zucchini heavy cooked recipes and many kinds of raw or cooked kale dishes like the Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta below and the Pizza from the Garden here. I hope you all have had a rejuvenating summer and gotten to eat some delicious food along the way. It is nice to be back. - Tagan

Dinner on the front stoop: in the summer our dinning table grows into a family game table/paper collection spot, and all meals take place outside. At dusk the backyard often has too many mosquitos (yes there are mosquitos in the city) so we often eat on the front stoop, dragging out big bowls of food and cold bottles of water, on occasion our cutting board makes it out there piled with fresh sliced deliciousness from the garden, making us feel rich in it's abundance. 

Sliced Tomatoes with Crispy Onions and Garlic: cook onions over medium low heat in plenty of oil and salt until light golden, add garlic cook until tender and onions are nicely browned, drizzle over fresh cut tomatoes, serve with anything.




 Pumpkinseed Pesto (below with Kale and Pasta): Finely chop or puree toasted pumpkin seeds, good olive oil and a little salt, add basil and any other greens you have (kale is good but has a strong flavor, spinach is great as it has a mild flavor and makes a bright green pesto), pulse or chop until you have a fine paste. Add either finely grated cheese (Romano is my favorite) or miso if you don't want dairy, add a little lemon zest and adjust the salt and pepper and you are done. Obviously pesto is great on pasta, but it's also great with eggs and on toast.

One last gem are the little pumpkins and gourds that volunteered themselves from our compost this year. We spread the seedlings around the garden in spring and wondered what kind of squash would appear, amazingly we got little oval pumpkins, ghost white gourds and carnival squash.

A gift from the garden, and pure joy for the family. When I look out the window onto my backyard garden I am overcome with gratitude for the food it provides and the blessing of this little piece of land in my life. 

If you have a garden or dream of one, please share your favorite foods...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pie Contest & Block Party Benefit Friday August 1st!

The 2nd Annual Pie Contest & Block Party to raise money for CitySeed's Food Stamp Double Value program! Friday August 1st  6-8pm, Orange St @ Crown St. New Haven CT!


Get your tickets HEREAdults $15, Kids $5 
All proceeds to benefit the Food Stamp Double Value on fruits and vegetables at the CitySeed farmers markets and Mobile Markets in New Haven.
Register your pie and get your FREE PIE MAKER TICKET HERE

Check out all the pie making details on the website as well as some pie recipe inspirations

Last year we had 86 pies and an amazing party with DJ Tootskee, free Ashley's Ice Cream, activities for kids and great cocktails by 116 Crown! 



See some pictures from last year's event HERE

Sound like fun? Want to help by volunteering to serve pie, ice cream or do set up? email: mastercooks@cityseed.org







And, Blueberries and Peaches will be in season, so get picking, and then baking!!!

Can't wait to see you there!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Delicious One Ingredient Ice Cream

I have a distinct memory from when I was about 12 years old of being in my neighbors third floor apartment, a large white heavy duty juicer on the counter, frozen bananas going in the top frozen and transforming into the most amazing soft serve looking ice cream out the front. I have always thought of that moment as magic, and wondered for years if my brain was tricking me, and that it wasn't really just frozen bananas and a juicer, that there must have been some other ingredient, or it was some special machine. A few years ago at the Brooklyn Flea Smorgasburg food market, I came across a tent with nothing but frozen banana treats, and I stood transfixed as my memory was played out in front of me exactly as I remembered, bananas and a juicer = banana soft serve. I bought a bowl, and the cool, silky yet almost fluffy ice cream was as delicious and thrilling as I remembered. 

Now the type of juicer you need for that is a Champion Juicer, which I do not happen to own. A quick search online will uncover lots of folks making banana ice cream with a food processor, so I tried it and it worked great. I had to keep scraping the bowl of the mixer down until the bananas melted ever so slightly and started to truly blend. What we were left with was an incredibly creamy delicious treat that we scooped into our three slightly stale ice cream cones left over from last summer....the first ice cream of this season. 

Next time around I would probably try some fun additions like cardamom, ginger or cocoa or even peanut butter....just for fun.






 One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

3 to 6 Bananas
Food Processor
  1. Peel and slice bananas into 1 inch pieces. 
  2. Place bananas on a tray or plate to freeze in a single layer for at least 2 hours,
  3. Put frozen sliced bananas into a food processor, plus or blend until the mixture is very creamy, scraping down the sides as needed to get the mixture going round. This may take a few minutes and a lot of scraping, but it will eventually become smooth and creamy. 
  4. Scoop and eat immediately.
Variations: you can add any spices or mix-ins you like to this. A few nice combinations are: cardamom & ginger or cocoa & honey, a little liquor like Kahlua or Bailey's might even be good, although I haven't tried that yet. Below is a version we made recently: Burnt Sugar Banana Spice Ice Cream... (banana, coconut milk, burnt sugar caramel, cocoa, cinnamon and nutmeg).


Do you have any favorite unusual summer treats? Please share below! 


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Gougéres




Before it gets too hot to turn on the oven, you might want to make these delicious treats....
Gougers are like huge savory cream puff pastries, crisp on the outside, custardy and eggy on the inside. They are made from a cooked pate choux dough which is one of those recipes french people think is difficult, but it is actually pretty simple, so don't be intimidated. This recipe does require a stand mixer, although if you are up for a workout, you could probably do it by hand.

Gourgéres are often made small, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter for an appetizer or snack, but I first came across these huge ones at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco in 2009. They were about 5 inches in diameter with crisp melted cheese adorning their tops. I went home, got the cookbook (as a gift from my wonderful mother in law) and made them, and they didn't disappoint. This batch I baked last summer and stuffed like a sandwich, inspired by an incredibly red tomato from my garden. I didn't have nearly enough cheese in the house to replicate the ones I saw at Tartine, but they were still delicious. I also made a tray of small puffs for us to munch on while we prepared lunch, as I knew we wouldn't be able to keep our hands off them.


Gourgéres with Gruyere & Thyme

Adapted from Tartine

Choux Pastry
1 1/4 c nonfat milk or water
10 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 cup flour
5 large eggs
3/4 Cup Gruyère cheese, grated
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced

Topping
1 large egg
pinch salt
grated Gruyère for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a baking sheet or silpat.
  1. Combine, milk or water with butter and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Wait for the butter to melt. Turn off heat. Add flour all at once. Stir, stir, stir. Lumpy mush will become a nice smooth ball after a minute or so of stirring.
  2. Transfer dough to a stand mixer. Add paddle attachment. Add egg one by one at medium speed. Make sure to incorporate egg before adding the next. After all the eggs have been added, mixture should be thick, smooth, and shiny.
  3. Add Gruyère, pepper and thyme by hand using a rubber spatula.
  4. Using a piping bag or a scoop make 3 inch rounds of batter on a lined baking sheet spacing them at least 2 inches apart as they will puff when they bake. To make small ones, pipe or scoop 1 inch rounds onto a separate pan as the cooking time is shorter. 
  5. To make topping, whisk 1 egg with pinch of salt and brush over each pastry. Lightly sprinkle each pastry with a little cheese.
  6. Place pastries in the oven immediately and bake until they are puffed and browned...around 35-45 minutes (25-30 minutes for small ones). As soon as you remove them from the over, poke each large pastry with a toothpick a few times to release some steam to avoid them collapsing. Serve warm if possible. Or let cool completely and place in an airtight container. Recrisp the puffs at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.

Tartine Bakery Website Here
This recipe is from the Tartine Cookbook #1 which is an all around wonderful book.
The third cookbook Tartine Bread was released not too long ago and also has some incredible recipes.