Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Red Chili Brownies July 29, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Events,Home Made,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 6:10 pm
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I am currently in the depths of catering hell. Well, not quite, but I can pretend in the hopes of getting sympathy right? Suffice it to say that while I am actually making a bunch of food for an event, it is generally going smoothly so the h-double-hockey-sticks is a bit of an exaggeration. I have successfully finished four deserts and am currently taking a short break from prep work for tomorrow’s breakfast. I figured what better time than now to share with you, my readers, the most excellent creation I conjured forth – Red Chili Brownies.

Now, I realize that this is not an entirely unique creation. In fact, chocolate and spice seems to be the thing these days, but I am proud of myself for the original recipe nonetheless and am hoping that some of you might enjoy nibbling on a few of these while imaging yourself in the Land of Enchantment.

For those of you familiar with the local fare, Red Chili is a staple in northern New Mexican food. Everyone seems to have an opinion about how to prepare it and while I do not purport to be an expert, I certainly have my own preferences. I tend to buy red chili powder, rather than pods, and use it as a seasoning for sauces and other savory dishes. This was my first foray into spicey-sweet.

I wish my camera was working because these things are beautiful. Basically I started with pan of brownies, which I then cut into circles with a biscuit cutter and topped with a thick bittersweet ganache and a dash of red chili powder. They are bite sized pieces of marvelosity. Which I realize isn’t a word but it certainly describes these little morsels!

Red Chili Brownie

10 TBSP organic unsalted butter
6 oz unsweetened chocolate of your choice
1 3/4 c organic cane sugar
4 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP vanilla
1 c flour
1 – 2 TBSP red chili powder from New Mexico red chili (if available)*
1 tsp cinnamon

*Depending on how hot you like it! I use about 1 TBSP because I am a whimp!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 9×13 baking dish.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler. Once melted, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Whisk the flour, red chili and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside. While waiting for the chocolate to cool, beat the eggs and salt until light and foamy. Add the sugar and beat until mixed. Slowly add the cooled chocolate to the egg mixture, stirring while you do so in order to incorporate the chocolate fully. Fold the flour and chili mixture into the batter until just combined. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake until just set, so that a toothpick stuck in the center comes out somewhat cakey, about 18 minutes.

For the ganache:

Heat 1 c heavy cream over a low heat until it just starts to simmer at the edges and begins to form a skin. Pour an 8 oz bag of bittersweet chocolate chips into a heat proof bowl and then pour the hot cream over them, stirring until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Spread over the cooled brownies and sprinkle lightly with red chili powder.

Happy Eating! (and lets hope I can my camera up and running so I can have pics of these!)

 

Delicious Ricotta and Peach Tart May 29, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cheese making,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 1:51 pm
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Now that my goat is back in milk, I am back to my cheese making rituals. The girl I have in milk at the moment is giving me nearly a gallon a day already, and will probably give me more in the next month or so. One of my favorite cheeses to have on hand is ricotta. Ricotta is really a by-product of other cheese making, as it is made by reheating the whey left over from the drained curds of any other cheese. The actual ricotta itself is the small pieces of protein, known as albumin, and when the whey is recooked the proteins denature and if you have fine cheesecloth on hand you can strain it and get ricotta!

There are many uses for this cheese, but my favorite use is in baking. Ricotta can be used to make cheesecake like tarts, adds great flavor and texture to baked goods such as cakes and muffins, and of course is used frequently in baked pasta dishes such as lasagne. I like to experiment with it as it is very forgiving and last night in an effort to make some room in my fridge, I came up with this fabulous recipe.

Ricotta and Peach Tart

3-4 medium peaches
2 c ricotta cheese
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c cane sugar
1/2 c hazelnut flour

For the pastry

1 1/4 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk

Begin by making the pastry. You can use a food processor to speed this up. If you are going to mix it by hand, it is helpful to have the butter softened. Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the butter and combine, with the processor or a hand held pastry blender, until you have the appearance of coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and mix until it just comes together. Pour into a 9 inch tart pan and shape with your hands. Prick holes in the tart shell with a fork (or use pie weights to keep it from bubbling) and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until it just starts to brown.

While the pastry is blind baking, make the filling. Mix the ricotta with the egg white, whole egg, vanilla, sugar and hazelnut flour. Whisk until well mixed. Remove the tart shell from the oven and add the mixture. Return the filled shell to the oven, lower the oven temperature to 375 and bake until the tart sets, This should take about 35-45 minutes depending on the texture of the ricotta. Home-made ricotta tends to have more liquid in it than store bought and will take longer to set.

While the tart is baking, slice the peaches in half and remove the pits. Thinly slice the peaches, keeping the skin on, and place in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of sugar. When the tart is set, remove it from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Arrange the peaches on top in whatever pattern you want, being sure to include any juices that have accumulated while the peaches were macerating. Let cool and serve.

Enjoy and Happy Eating!

 

Yummy seed bars February 26, 2011

Filed under: Home Made — realfoodmama @ 1:48 pm
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One of my favorite snacks from the Co-Op are the all organic and very delicious Bumble Bars.

Since I love them so I find their price tag a bit on the steep side. At over two dollars a pop, they are not really something I can buy with any regularity. Luckily for me, the bars have a very straightforward ingredient list (as all things should!) and I was able to buy the ingredients myself and try a few batches at home. I finally got results I was really happy with today and wanted to share it with my readers because everyone should try these.

Home Made Bumble Bars

2 TBSP unsalted organic butter
1/4 c organic brown rice syrup
1/3 to 1/2 c raw sesame seeds
1/4 c flax seeds
1 TBSP organic raw sliced almonds
1/4 tsp organic almond extract
1/4 tsp organic vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Heat the brown rice syrup and butter over low heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Add the sesame seeds and stir, letting it simmer for a few seconds. This takes the bitter edge off the raw sesame seeds. Add the flax seeds, almonds, extracts and cinnamon and stir until well mixed. Remove from the heat and pour out onto wax paper or greased parchment paper. Spread until at desired thickness (I like mine pretty thin…like a few centimeters.) Let cool and then cut and enjoy.

Store in an airtight container. They should keep for about a week.

Happy Eating!

 

Pork and Beans! January 7, 2011

Filed under: Home Made,Recipe,Stew — realfoodmama @ 10:52 pm
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Stewy goodness!

A friend of mine recently gifted me with a package of Rancho Gordo beans. Variety, Runner Cannellini Beans. I have been wanting to try these things for a long time, nearly nine months, and yet I haven’t taken it upon myself to purchase any. Suffice it to say I was very excited about trying them out and decided to improvise a dish using some cubed pork and Italian inspired ingredients. The result was quite delicious so I thought I would share it!

Pork and Cannellini Stew

1 1/2 c dried Cannellini beans
1/2 c home made chicken stock
1/2 c home made tomato sauce
1 lb cubed pork
10 slices dehydrated zucchini
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 TBSP flour
salt and pepper to taste

Begin by soaking the beans for a few hours to soften them. This can be done overnight if you’d like. Drain and place beans in the pot. Cover with six cups of water, add a couple of slices of the dried zucchini and let cook over low heat for about two hours.

For the pork, heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and let sizzle for a few minutes. Mix the flour with a bit of salt and pepper. Dry off the pork with a paper towel and dredge in the flour, then place in the oil. Brown the meat on all sides then transfer to the bean pot. Add the chicken stock and tomato sauce as well as the remaining dried zucchini, basil and oregano.

Let cook for another hour or until the beans are soft and the meat is tender. Serve over polenta and enjoy!

Happy Eating!

 

Holiday season – Heritage Turkey! November 21, 2010

Filed under: Eating local,Farmer's Market,Politics — realfoodmama @ 6:16 pm
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Holiday Birds

Gobble Gobble!

This year I finally bit the bullet and decided to buy a locally grown heritage turkey. We ended up purchasing a 15 pound bird from the farmer’s market (for an obscene amount of money I might add) and it is now sitting in my freezer, waiting to be defrosted for the big holiday coming up this Thursday. I was very discouraged by the fact that the vendor I purchased the bird from responded quite poorly to me utilizing my food stamps to pay for said bird. My feeling is, for the cost of the thing they should have been lucky I bought one at all! Regardless, this is the only time a farmer’s market vendor has treated me like I am making their life more difficult when I use my wooden SNAP tokens to make a purchase. Hopefully the bird will be awesome and make up for it! (Although it should be noted, no further purchases will be made from this vendor in the future. I don’t need to be treated like a leper for using food stamps.)

The biggest concern with this years bird, aside from politics, is of course the best way to cook a Heritage Turkey. I have never attempted it myself and I have heard such widely contradictory theories as to the best way to go about it. Some folks swear by brining it and then roasting at high heat until it reaches temperature. I have no desire to brine a turkey for a variety of reasons. First, I don’t have a place to keep a turkey in brine for two days, unless you count the garage and frankly, that doesn’t sound very hygienic. Second, I want to try roasting it without the fool-proof guarantee of a brine.

The other option of course is to smother it in butter, which frankly sounds better than soaking it in salt anyway. In fact one of the most interesting recipes I’ve seen involves using maple butter under the skin. A version is found here at the Heritage Foods USA web site. I like this idea as I think the maple flavor would really enhance the (supposedly) richer flavor of the heritage bird. I then plan on stuffing it with apples, carrots and a few sprigs of rosemary. I am hopeful that it will turn out well, and fully intend on taking photos and posting about the results.

In addition to the turkey I also will be rendering some lard for the pie crusts and roasting and pureeing the pumpkins from our garden. For the pecan pie I am going to try a recipe using brown rice syrup instead of corn syrup and the stash of locally grown pecans I have been saving. Also on the menu is some fresh baked bread, a sausage and bread stuffing, the potatoes from our garden, and a host of veggies. Unfortunately I will not be making the green bean casserole this year due to the fact that all of the green beans we processed and froze were ruined when my three year old turned off the chest freezer….alas, we had to say goodbye to 20 lbs of green beans, several whole chickens and some frozen apples. It was quite sad.

I hope that all of you are gearing up for the holiday with as much enthusiasm as I am! I just need to figure out a way to include some goat milk and some eggs in our feast in order to make it pretty much totally home grown! Happy Eating!

 

So many plums! October 13, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Canning,Garden Fresh,Home Made — realfoodmama @ 2:11 pm
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This year most of my fruit trees were frozen in a late frost, however the one tree that did avoid the worst of the cold weather has managed to produce a bumper crop. We have two plum trees in the yard, one of which is a beautiful, but very overgrown, mother. The other is a daughter offshoot that hides in the shade of our yard and generally gets overlooked. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of the fact that it was carrying fruit until about a month ago when I looked closely and realized the branches were laden with small, purple globes.

Since we purchased the house with established fruit trees, I am not sure what type of plum these are, however as they’ve ripened they have developed a lovely sweet-tart flavor and have a rather eerie green flesh. Yesterday we processed about ten cups in order to make what turned out to be nearly a gallon of preserves and we only used a third of the plums! I honestly have no idea what we are going to do with the rest, but I am hoping to find some recipes for plum cakes, puddings, pies, tarts…you get the idea!

Suffice it to say the bounty is pretty impressive and I am hopeful that as our fruit trees mature and we learn more about taking care of them we can avoid a frost kill like the one that happened this year and actually be able to harvest some apples, pears and apricots from the other trees in our mini-orchard.

Until then, however, any and all plum recipes are appreciated and I will definitely share my plum experiments as they occur! Happy Eating!

 

Cheese Wax! October 1, 2010

Filed under: Cheese making,Raw Goat Milk — realfoodmama @ 8:36 pm
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Cheese before waxing

I finally got a chance to wax the cheddar that I made this week and thought it would be a good opportunity to show pictures of the finished project. While I do not have an actual cheese press or molds, I have managed to rig something up involving some camp bowls made from stainless steel and a large brick from my garden path. It is rather precarious, to be honest, but it works!

Cheese making, like baking, is really all about mastering the art of reading and following a recipe. If you mess up or get sloppy along the way you end up with either an inferior product or a complete failure. Cheddar is one of the more complicated hard cheeses I’ve tried to make because it requires a) the addition of a specific culture and b) slow curd cooking combined with a special process known as cheddaring. This is the act of stacking the curds until the texture changes to that of cooked chicken. Weird, right?

The process of making cheddar can be broken down into a few steps. You allow the milk to culture (I use raw milk even though the recipe says to pasteurize it), bring to 86 degrees, add your rennet and let it set a curd for about 45 minutes. Then you cut them and slowly cook the curds to about 110 degrees over the course of an hour. At which point you strain them for a few minutes, then cut them again into four pieces, stack them until they achieve the chicken consistency mentioned above, cut them again then press them for about 24 hours. At this point you let your cheese wheels form a rind, then you wax them.

This is a huge over-simplification of cheddar making and I urge readers NOT to attempt to make cheddar from the above instructions. The web site I had been using is currently offline, however here is the link and hopefully it will come back up so anyone interested in doing this themselves can follow more detailed instructions.

The real bummer about making cheddar is that once you have it waxed you have to let it age for about three months before you can eat it. So even though I have these lovely cheese wheels, I cannot eat them until January of next year. So I have no idea what it tastes like or if it is even edible. Luckily cheese wax is fairly inexpensive and I can buy it locally at Santa Fe Homebrew Supply where they also reassure me that it can be reused.

Waxed Cheese

So, I will try to get back to you all about this in January and let you know how the cheddar worked out! Hopefully it will be worth the wait! Until then, Happy Eating.