Olive You Long Time

Wow. It has been a lengthy amount of time since I’ve posted here. Why? Life got in the way. What else is new.

Surprise, surprise, we moved! Now we get to call Philadelphia our home and it seems like it’ll be that way for a while. It’s truly a great city and I am so happy that there are things to do and see. Other than that, not much else has changed. We don’t have another dog (unfortunately) and we don’t have kids yet (fortunately).

One of the best perks of living in this city is the abundance of produce markets everywhere. They’re unbelievably cheap and every now and then, have interesting produce in stock. Case in point: green olives.

No, not the kind that have already been cured. I’m talking picked-off-the-tree kind.

IMG_6740.jpg

My favorite kind of olive is the Castelvetrano olives that originate from Sicily. I’ve had olive skeptics try them and they instantly fall in love. Why? Because it actually tastes like what you’d imagine an olive to taste like. Somewhat buttery with a hint of saltiness. Not like the kind of olive that once you eat it, your mouth turns into the Mojave desert.

If you ever see Castelvetrano olives in store, get them! They’re a beautiful vibrant green and go great with a nice cheese and fresh bread. You’ll find yourself eating several…and several more.

Now onto my project. Are these going to be Castelvetrano olives and do I have any idea what I’m doing when it comes to olives? Absolutely not. I just know how to eat them. But I figured, why not try doing a simple brine-cure on these fresh olives and see what happens?

IMG_6742.jpg

But first, you will wonder: why the F is there an egg on the ingredient list? Here’s a mini science lesson. The density of the egg is higher than plain water. As you add salt, the density of the water rises and when the egg floats, this means the density of the water is higher than the egg, MEANING there is the right amount of salt needed for the brine.

IMG_6767.jpg

Ingredients:

Fresh olives (I had between 20-25)
Sea salt
Water
1 raw, whole egg

  1. Rinse your olives thoroughly. Toss any bruised or squishy ones.
  2. Place your olives into a jar that will tightly hold them.
  3. Boil water and pour into a large bowl.
  4. Begin by mixing in about 1/4 cup of salt at a time. Once you have dissolved the first 1/4 cup, carefully place the egg in and see if it floats. If it doesn’t, remove the egg and add more salt.
  5. Continue adding more salt until the egg floats.
  6. Once the egg floats, your brine is ready. Pour into the jar of olives, making sure to cover all of them.
  7. Tightly close the lid and set aside for at least 4 weeks.

Now in hindsight, I’ve realized at the moment the unlikelihood of anyone using this recipe considering fresh olives aren’t easy to come by. But look…pretty pictures!

 

Advertisements

Molasses Cookies

Holy Santa Claus sh*t! It’s been so long since I’ve blogged. Long story short: the Navy. We’ve moved twice in the past few months and have lived in three different places (duh?) in 2015. Now we are settled down in Virginia. Well not we. Well sort of we. My other half has been deployed since August so it’s really just been me and the dogs here. I had planned on getting back into blogging as soon as we moved here but it suddenly dawned on me that me being alone = barely any cooking. There have been many weeks where I order pizza and eat it for several meals in a row. Cooking is a family event and when your present family members are dogs, well…your motivation to cook goes away. Sorry that was depressing.

However, the weather has been amazing here. The high has been about 55 the past couple of days and I have been in the best mood ever. Yes, you read that right. I love cold weather. I love snow, I love rain, I just love chilly days. Chilly days like these really get me in the mood for the holidays, even though it’s only mid-October. But actually, I’ve already seen Christmas stuff out at the stores so I guess I’m not the only one.

Holidays equals lots of food. And lots of baked goods that have either cinnamon or nutmeg or any type of spice in it. I will say yet another thing that may seem blasphemous to most of you: I hate pumpkin spice. Yes, I’ve had it. No, it’s not good. I just don’t like it, I’m not sure why. Now if we’re talking about apple cider and all things apple flavored, then that’s a different story.

However, one of my favorite holiday cookies is a molasses cookie. It has small hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as ginger. And did I mention I love molasses? I find that it’s really an underrated ingredient to work with. I’ve made sauces to baste chickens with in the oven that have molasses and it’s amazing every time.

1

This recipe is intense with molasses flavor and the amount of spice can be adjusted to your tasting. This is also a very fool proof recipe, as I am completely baking impaired but these turned out super chewy and awesome.

2

Enjoy!

Time: 10 minutes prep + baking time

Makes about 1 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Extra white sugar to roll dough in

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream together your butter and sugar.
  4. Add your molasses and egg. TIP: molasses is crazy sticky so spray your measuring cup with oil to make it WAY easier to add
  5. Once combined, add in your dry ingredients in 4 parts, making sure to scrape down the bowl every time.
  6. Take golf ball sized pieces of dough and roll into a semi-flat ball. Cover one side in the white sugar and place on your baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.

6

MIA

Hey all! Long time no see. For real. Just a quick update on why I haven’t been posting…but an update on the fact that I will be starting posts again in the next couple weeks! 

As a Navy family, we have been moving about and lived in a hotel (for training) for the past two and half months. Hence why the lack of posts! I’m sure you could imagine the lack of amenities in the hotel, leading to the result of no blogging. I won’t lie the hotel was great. It had a mini kitchen with two electric burners but NO OVEN! Most dinners consisted of pork belly, rice, and lots of Korean side dishes. Lots of tacos. Lots of spaghetti. But being in a tiny hotel meant my days were filled with taking care of the dogs and keeping things tidy in such a tiny place. And yes, I said dogs. Introducing BEAN:

  He’s that brown blotch on the right. My new favorite thing in the world. Story on how I acquired him to come later.

To keep it short and sweet, I hope some of you are still liking my blog and I can’t wait to start posting again. Until then:

  

Ugly Donuts

Holy crap, it’s been a while. It’s been extremely busy around here…big life changes. Updates to come.

I’ve been recording the show “Donut Showdown,” although my husband couldn’t care less for it. Have you seen it? I mean, come on. You get to watch people make donuts, aka a wheel of crack. Watching the show makes me want to just jump into a pile of donuts, glaze and all.

Today is also the day I finally feel better. You see, working around students who have no sense of cleanliness means you are prone to getting sick. All the time. Two weeks of sickness made me really appreciate hand sanitizer and Mucinex. As well as Kleenex. I polished off two boxes worth. Overflowing garbage can? Check. Bright red nose? OH yes.

So since I felt better today, I thought it would be the perfect time to make donuts. I remember my boss at my first job at an Italian bakery would punch out these donuts out of a huge sheet of dough. It was quite impressive…I would have lost a finger somehow. Now, frying is my deepest, darkest fear. Is it just me, or is anyone else afraid that they might fry off their finger?

I also figured glazed would be the way to go. I’ve never been a fan of chocolate glazed donuts or filled donuts. But glazed donuts? Give it to me! Right meow. We also bought WAY too many strawberries yesterday and I figured I would make a strawberry glaze as well…and it was a good decision.

OH…the reason I call these “ugly” is because well…look at them! I didn’t have a donut cutter so I resorted to using my multi-sized biscuit cutters…meaning the hole in the center turned out to be way too large. But, regardless, these turned out perfect.

1As for the glaze, it is an incredibly easy step for these donuts. I imagine any fruit could be used in a glaze, as well as any flavoring like any extracts or powders.

Time: 2.5 hours

Makes about 10-12 donuts

Ingredients:
3+ cups of all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup hot water
3 tablespoons butter
1 packet active yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
(*I used a bread machine to knead my dough, but if you need to do it by hand, you can follow these steps.)

1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, hot water, and honey. Mix and allow to proof (all foamy and bubbly).
2. In a small pot, bring your milk, butter, and salt to a simmer. Once you see the milk steaming, turn it off.
3. In a large bowl, place 1 cup of your flour and pour in your hot milk mixture. Mix carefully.
4. Add your yeast mixture and 1 cup of flour. Mix thoroughly.
5. Add your remaining flour. You want the dough to be soft and workable. If it’s too tough or dry, add some more warm milk. If it’s too sticky, add some more flour.
6. Knead until the dough is really smooth. This will probably take about 8-10 minutes.
7. Place in a bowl and allow to double in size. A great way to have dough rise is to warm up your oven (then turn it off!) and place your bowl (covered with a towel) inside.
8. For the glaze, mix 3:1 powdered sugar and whole milk. You want the mixture to be quite ‘goopy.’ I completely forgot to measure here so…sorry! Also, at this point if you want to use a fruit, pulverize your fruit into a liquid and add enough powdered sugar to make it goopy as well. Set aside.
9. Roll out your dough to about 1/2″ thick. Cut out your dough, place on parchment paper, and allow to rise for about 30-45 minutes.
10. Heat up your frying oil over medium heat. I used about 3-4 cups of vegetable oil. The way I tell if my oil is ready is by taking a wooden spoon or chopstick and sticking into the oil to the bottom of the pan. If it starts bubbling, it’s ready.
11. Carefully put in your donut. You will see it turning golden brown. At this point, flip your donut. I used wooden chopsticks to fry and remove my donuts…easy and disposable!
12. Remove from the oil and allow to cool off on a cooling rack.
13. Once cooled (it will be slightly warm to the touch), dip your donuts away in your glaze! Place back on the cooling rack and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. This will allow the glaze to be soaked up by the fried dough.
14. Enjoy!

2 3

GYOZA!!

I always have to yell that word. I’m not sure why. Gyoza!!!

So I’ve been meaning to make these for weeks. Weekends have become recuperation time from the craziness of my classroom. Yelling at students about gum chewing and excessive talking is just…just so tiring. But alas, I finally mustered up the energy to make them today and I couldn’t be any happier.

The main reason why I wanted to make these is because I wanted to try out making my own dumpling skins. 2 things:(1) they ended up tasting great but (2) it was quite the challenge making the gyoza look pretty, as you will see below. One looked like a flattened football and the other ones just looked…sad. One also looked like it was going to explode while cooking.

8

But all in all, this recipe wasn’t as tedious or time consuming as I thought it would be.

This reminds me. I added miso to the filling. Miso is just so…different. It has a ridiculously distinctive taste yet when it’s added to recipes, it adds a nice background flavor that ties all the ingredients together.

3

2

Time: 2 hours

Makes about 12-15 gyoza

Ingredients:

Wrapper:
1.5 cups flour
.5 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water

Filling:
1 pound ground pork (I ground my own)
5-6 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 teaspoon crushed ginger
3-4 stalks green onion, diced
1 cup napa cabbage, diced and tossed with kosher salt for 15 minutes then squeezed until water is gone
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons miso
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt and pepper

(1) For the wrappers: combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
(2) Slowly add water while mixing. If you have a stand mixer, by all means use it with the dough hook.
(3) Combine and add water until the mixture slowly comes together.
(4) Once you have a shaggy dough, turn it out onto a floured surface and start kneading.
(5) Knead for 6-8 minutes until the dough is smooth. Add more flour as needed.
(6) Place in a bowl and cover with saran wrap. Let sit for 1 hour.
(7) For the filling: in a food processor, place your pork, shrimp, and “squeegeed” napa cabbage. Process on high.
(8) Add the mixture to a bowl and add remaining ingredients.
(9) Mix with your hand in a clockwise direction until the ingredients are well combined.
(10) Assemble your gyoza. (I failed so miserably so I suggest you Google the techniques)
(11) In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium high heat.
(12) Put your gyoza in and cook for 30-45 seconds
(13) Add in about 1/2 cup of water and lower the heat to medium. Allow to cook for 7 minutes.
(14) Serve with ponzu or soy sauce mixed with rice vinegar.

Enjoy!

4

7

Sweet, Sweet Apple Pie

It’s below 80 degrees here in Pensacola. I repeat, it’s below 80 degrees here in Pensacola and it’s not humid. I think I kind of like it here now…

That’s just the Stockholm syndrome talking. But seriously, we just got a cold front here and it’s the first time we’ve opened the windows in months. So that got me thinking…

IT’S FALL. Meaning, it’s time to make fall things. Meaning pie. Meaning stew. Meaning pot pies. Meaning chili. Meaning HOT foods for once.

My first fall item I like to make is pie. Pie pie pie pie pie! Homemade crust is a must. I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it.
1

Anyway, this is an incredibly basic apple pie recipe. It goes great with vanilla ice cream and I promise, you will want seconds. Although your stomach probably won’t.

4

2

Preparation time: 1.5 hours

Makes 1 delicious apple pie

Ingredients:
4 granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and sliced
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon butter, cubed
1 pie crust (double the amount if you want to have a fully covered top) (also see my Georgia Peach Pie recipe for my crust directions)
egg wash

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
2. Prepare your pie crust. I typically make a crumb topping but felt inclined to make a fully covered pie.
3. Fill your crust with the apple filling.

3
4. Dot the top with pieces of butter and cover with your second piece of crust.
5. Make 4 incisions on the top for ventilation.
6. Brush the egg wash all over the crust.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the crust is golden brown.
8. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream!

6

Not a recipe post

Work begins tomorrow! Oh boy. This is not a post about food (sadness) but rather letting you all know (in my imagination, my 1 million subscriber audience) that posts will likely only be made on weekends now (“Nooo….” just kidding). Life got a little busy in the past few weeks, if you couldn’t tell. We’ve been visiting our dear friends (including their 100+ pound fur baby) in New Orleans and last night we enjoyed some amazing New Orleans jazz. We also reunited with an old dear friend from law school. The food in New Orleans is just unreal. Endless amounts of poboys, Hurricane drinks, homemade red beans & rice, beignets, I can go on forever.

But tomorrow, I’m off to go back to teaching. I wish I could sit around all day and blog here but alas…adult life is calling and saying “Stop living in a fantasy world.” So until the weekend, I bid you adieu!

feryja2