Flour and Flowers | A Kitchen and Garden Blog

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Smitten Kitchen’s Broccoli Pesto and a new website discovery

I know it seems like I’ve stopped eating, but I promise I haven’t. I even still take pictures of most of the things I cook (usually), they just never make it this far. This one I just took with my phone as I reheated last night’s leftovers for lunch today – but that counts, right?

First, the exciting news. I’ve discovered my new favorite website/tool – Pepperplate – which basically consolidates recipes from the internet or inside your head and lets you tag them, sort and search them, meal plan, and make shopping lists from the ingredients.  For free.  It has a few quirks, and things I think it’s missing (I’ve annoyingly emailed them every time I find something), but it’s a great tool and it’s allowing me to move away from my immense piles of printed recipes that I can’t ever find or remember I have to something much more useful.  It also partners with Smitten Kitchen, which is both awesome and dangerous, because it means I am spending inordinate amounts of time on her site looking through all the billions of recipes I want to make.  Which leads me to the Broccoli Pesto.

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Broccoli is one of those things.  I love it.  Calin does not love it.  We agree to disagree, but he still has to eat it sometimes, so I’m always on a quest to find broccoli recipes that he will eat and hopefully enjoy at least a little bit.  When I discovered this recipe, I immediately added it to Pepperplate (see where that comes in?) to make soon – because pesto! and pasta! and broccoli! and kind of easy!  Well, the reality didn’t come out quite as well, but it was absolutely worth trying, and I’m definitely going to tweak it for us in the future.

Problem 1: My garlic and onions were both sprouting.  In garlic, I think that makes it stronger, but apparently in onions it makes them more mild, because the onion flavor was minimal.

Problem 2: I lost the garlic.  Seriously, one minute it was there, and the next minute it was gone.  I finally found it hiding in with the broccoli, dutifully steamed.  Weird.  So I added another clove, but that one didn’t get cooked long enough, so I ended up with this weird combo of faux-roasted and raw garlic.

Problem 3: I didn’t have any heavy cream.  I used half 1% milk and half plain yogurt instead.  Definitely different, and less flavor, but better for us…

Problem 4: I overcooked the broccoli.  There’s no getting around this one.

So the pesto was tasty, but a little bland (I also didn’t measure the salt or pepper, because I’m lazy), and Calin’s verdict was that he would probably rather just eat broccoli.  Or, preferably, not eat broccoli at all.  So, success for me but still a no-go in the “eating more broccoli” department.  Oh well.  The leftovers were actually pretty good, too.  I think I’ll try fixing the problems first, and then maybe see if I can add some other things to make the flavor stronger if that isn’t enough.

Do you have reliable go-to broccoli recipes you’d recommend?


Potatoes In Many Forms: Easy Roasted Potatoes

It’s a nasty day outside – cold, wet, grey, miserable – and I’m sitting inside in the almost-dark thinking about Thanksgiving and all the intense cooking and eating in the next few days.  Most years, my sister and I go all out and make a feast, regardless of how many people we’re expecting.  This year my sister can’t come home and I have a newborn, so Thanksgiving will be in the capable hands of my in-laws and I’m only a contributor.  I am contributing my famous Caramelized Brussels Sprouts (easy), and a pumpkin cheesecake (easy).  Which is making me think about all the incredibly easy recipes there are out there and how, even with a new baby, I should be cooking more.

Potatoes are one of the most versatile and comforting foods there is.  They can be prepared in so many ways, some healthy, some not so healthy; they can be simple or supplemented with delicious additives (like ranch dressing – thanks to Hidden Valley ads during Agents of Shield on HuluPlus, I’ve been craving mashed potatoes with ranch dressing for weeks).  Every time someone fixes them for me, I remember how much I love them and how I should make them more often.  Potatoes last a really long time, so they aren’t one of the “emergency – eat these now” vegetables, which also makes them a good stand-by.

This “recipe” could not be easier.  It’s so easy that I wouldn’t even call it a recipe – I’d call it a cooking style.  (I do actually apply this general style to almost all the veggies I cook – it’s excellent for broccoli and brussels sprouts also.)  Since there’s no real measuring, you can make as many or as few potatoes as you want.  These potatoes make a great side dish for dinner, or a simple substitute for fancier hash browns at breakfast.  And if you’re like me and you like to use your hands rather than utensils, the olive oil is great for your skin!

Easy Roasted Potatoes

  1. Cut up some small potatoes, however many you have or want (I had about five yukon gold here).
  2. Toss them in some olive oil, salt, and chopped rosemary (or whatever herb/spice you have around).
  3. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes, until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. (You should be able to stick a fork straight in with no trouble.)
  4. Serve hot.

Cinnamon Ice Cream – Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

It’s supposed to be 80 degrees today, so it seems like a good time for the first ice cream post of the season!  I discovered home-made ice cream when I first got my KitchenAid mixer, and every time I make it I struggle to remember why I don’t do it more often (other than the fact that it’s a 24-hour gratification process, which might really be enough of a reason).

 

I actually  made this cinnamon ice cream for Thanksgiving last fall, to go with mom’s apple pie, and it was amazing.  My favorite part of making my own ice cream is that the flavor is entirely up to me – if I want more or less of something, I don’t have to whine about Breyer’s choices – I just have to change the recipe!  I have big plans for the ice cream season this year – chocolate, black raspberry, ginger…   I also want to experiment with some sorbets and frozen yogert. We’ll see what I actually get around to.

Like the cardamom rose ice cream, this was a custard base, which I’m pretty sure just means you cook it.  It’s a little time consuming because you have to watch and stir it constantly, but not terribly so, and the results are much creamier than an uncooked base.



Once the custard base is cooked, it has to be strained to make sure you didn’t get any clotted milk clumps (because that’s what milk and cream do when you cook them).  This part involves too many hands, but it’s actually sort of fun.  And ice baths look neat.



Once it’s strained and cooled a little, it has to be refrigerated overnight to completely chill it.  Before you do that, you usually add most of the spices and flavorings (if they weren’t already in the custard).  I use the same air-tight plastic containers for chilling that I do for freezing the completed ice cream, because I have tons of them.

I didn’t end up taking any pictures of the churning this time, for some reason, but it worked a lot like the cardamom rose or the peach ice cream I made ages ago – pour the chilled custard in the frozen mixer bowl (They have a separate bowl for this that also has to be frozen, so don’t let that throw you off if you’re making ice cream yourself.  It needs at least 18 hours frozen, so I just keep mine in our chest freezer at the ready for “spontaneous” ice cream making.) and churn until it’s done, following the instructions in the ice cream maker manual.  And every now and then sneak a taste of what’s splashed up the sides. (They always leave that part out of the directions, for some reason…)

Cinnamon ice cream was perfect with apple pie.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this years ago – I’m pretty sure it’s going to become an annual occurrence. (Ha. I like to predict things, but I’m not so big on going back to see if I ever follow through.  Don’t hold me to that.) But it’s also a really easy mix, since it’s just flavorings and no extra ingredients.  Highly recommended!

Mmm, now I may need to sneak out for ice cream after my lunch.

~*~

Cinnamon Ice Cream
Sweat Pea’s Kitchen

Makes 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 inch piece vanilla bean, slit lengthwise and seeds removed, pod reserved OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Set a fine mesh strainer over a medium sized bowl and set the bowl over a large container of ice water.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk, cream, 1/2 cup sugar and the vanilla seeds and pod, stirring occasionally to break up the vanilla seeds, until steam appears and the liquid is hot (175 degrees) about 5 minutes.
  3. When the milk mixture is cooking, in a separate bowl, whisk the yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar together until smooth.
  4. Slowly whisk about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks to temper them.
  5. Then slowly whisk the tempered yolk mixture back into the remaining hot milk mixture.
  6. Continue to cook the custard mixture over medium heat until it is very hot but not simmering (180-185 degrees).
  7. Pour the custard mixture into the strainer bowl set in the ice bath and let cool, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the custard mixture from the ice bath and add cinnamon.
  9. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold (40 degrees), about 3 hours.
  10. Remove and discard the vanilla pod from the custard (or add the vanilla extract, if using) and stir well.
  11. Pour the custard into the ice cream machine canister and churn, following the manufacturer’s instructions, until the mixture resembles soft-serve ice cream, about 20 minutes.
  12. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container, press plastic wrap flush against the surface, cover the container, and freeze the ice cream until firm, at least 2 hours.

Recipe Note: Two teaspoons of vanilla extract may be substituted for the vanilla bean. Stir it into the chilled custard just before churning. (I don’t like vanilla specks in my vanilla, so I went with extract.  Also, beans are much more difficult than just pouring things out of a bottle.)


Caramelized Brussels Sprouts – Joy of Cooking

My relationship with Joy of Cooking got off to a rocky start, but things are definitely looking up.  I don’t think I ever got around to telling my Joy of Cooking story, so now’s as good a time as any.  And then I’ll get around to the Brussels Sprouts.

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Super Bowl Cooking Extravaganza

I’m slowly easing my way back into this here blogging thing…  And by “slowly” I mean “sometimes I get around to it”.  Anyway, back in February there was this thing called the Super Bowl, or at least that’s what they told me.  I have no interest in football at any point, and not a whole lot more when there’s a trophy at stake (although the Idaho Potato Bowl, which has a bowl of potatoes as a trophy, is pretty awesome), but I do like excuses to make tasty food.  And what better excuse to invite people over to eat said tasty food than this once-a-year commercial party that apparently people like to watch?

This year we ended up with more people than usual, because that’s the way these things seem to be going in my life (check back for the Easter post in about two months, there’ll be more of that).  I’m going to assume that’s because people like it when I cook things for them, and that it makes me a good party host, because that’s nicer than assuming that people just don’t say no.  But regardless, we had lots of mouths to feed this time around, and we decided to go a bit overboard.  The menu included Stuffed Baby Potatoes, Slow Cooker BBQ Cranberry Meatballs, Artichoke Spinach Dip, and Pumpkin Mocha Cupcakes (which I’ve been promising for a while). I’m actually going to give the cupcakes their own post, since they were featured on Cupcake Friday with the original recipe, and they deserve the honors of their own Cupcake Friday now that I actually made them. But the others I’ll write about here.

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Most Excellent Pot Pies

In honor of the first day of Spring, I’m posting a recipe for a classic fall dish. Figures…

This was meant to be a collaborative post with Alimonkee, but sadly I wasn’t able to get the pictures put together in time. So I think we’re both going to be posting our own versions of the same cooking event. (And by “going to” I mean that Alice posted hers *months* ago, and I never finished my draft until now.) Also, due to some mishaps with lighting and trying to use a camera-phone, less of the documentation turned out well than I’d hoped, so the pictures are a little different.

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Thanksgiving: Broccoli Cheese Casserole

This year for Thanksgiving (yes, I’m finally getting around to the Thanksgiving posts), we initially decided we would be making “green bean casserole that doesn’t suck”. Two years in a row we have made green bean casserole that does suck, and for some strange reason for the third year we decided maybe we should do something different. Who knows – maybe we’re just tired of not wanting to eat our greens?

The broccoli casserole is on the right side, around the middle.

I looked around for alternative recipes and actually found a few that looked promising, but then I found this recipe in my new Joy of Cooking cookbook (there’s a story behind that – I promise I’ll tell you later) and thought maybe the solution to green bean casserole that doesn’t suck was to skip the green beans! We all love broccoli (and anyone who doesn’t should learn – it’s the vegetable of champions), and we definitely all love cheese, so really how could we go wrong?

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