Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ramen Noodles

We have a seventeen year old Chinese boy living with us while he attends high school.  He loves Ramen noodles.  I was buying Japanese Ramen noodles a lot until I decided to stop and find out if I could make them.  The good news is that you can.  I'm going to show you how.  Ramen noodles have three ingredients: bread flour, water, and Kansui. You will find Kansui (Koon Chun Potassium Carbonate & Sodium Bi-Carbonate) in an Asian specialty store.  The Kansui reacts with the flour causing it to both turn yellow and strengthen the protein to create that classic Ramen noodle.  Also on the plus side, these noodles were not fried and have no preservatives.  I made Ramen noodles for lunch, and our Chinese boy said they were the best noodles I have made.

Ramen noodles, not from an orange bag or white Styrofoam cup.  Do you want to make some?

 Ingredients for this recipe are: 300 grams bread flour (about 2 cups), 1/2 cup warm water,
1 Teaspoon Kansui

 Mix water and Kansui together and pour into flour in the bowl of a stand mixer.

 Mix with a dough hook for 10 minutes.  The dough will look like gravel, and that is okay.

 This dough isn't sticky.   Separate into two discs.  Run through pasta roller until you have
reached a number 3 setting.

 Roll sheets through spaghetti cutter roller.

 Voila, lots of Ramen noodles.  I doubled the recipe.

 Boil noodles in your choice of broth for 30 seconds.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stephanie's Food For Thought: Muscovado Sugar

I wanted to find an even less refined sugar than turbinado sugar that would have more nutrients. Muscovado sugar made the top of the list.  What is Muscovado sugar you ask?  Wise Geek says, "This cane sugar is made by pressing sugarcane to release the naturally sweet juice and then cooking it slightly before allowing it to dry. During the cooking process, various ingredients are added to help remove impurities that may be present in the sugarcane juice; typically, these impurities rise to the top in the form of foam which is skimmed out. Both coconut milk and lime juice are used in traditional processing, and these refining ingredients do not usually leave flavors behind. After the sugar is dried, it is broken apart and sold."  This information can be found here.  On Livestrong it says "Muscovado sugar maintains the same vitamin and mineral content as the juice it is made from. A 100-g portion of Muscovado sugar contains 3.9 mg of phosphorus, 85 mg of calcium, 23 mg of magnesium, 100 mg of potassium and 1.3 mg of iron."  The information can be found here

I don't plan on using Muscovado sugar very often, since a box just like the one pictured above was $4 at my local grocery store, but I really like to try new ingredients so I used it in the eggnog recipe.  In the eggnog it had a rich taste.   I believe it was the best eggnog I have tasted because I used a more full flavor ingredient. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Non-Alcoholic Eggnog

My husband likes Eggnog.  When I went to the store and thought about buying it, I decided, NO I don't want to buy a drink where the first ingredient is High Fructose Corn Syrup.  I read a great book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of food Life" by Barbara Kingsolver and she explained that we have an overabundance of  Corn and Soybeans.  High Fructose Corn syrup and other corn products are abundantly used everywhere.  Well I'm revolting, I will not by something with HFC in it!  Since I couldn't buy eggnog, we had to make it.  My husband helped me make the eggnog.  You will need eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, heavy cream, nutmeg and a pot and thermometer.

 Eggnog, tis the season.

 Ingredients for this recipe are: 1 pint of milk, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 ounce vanilla, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 4 eggs separated, 1/3 cup sugar (I used Muscovado).

Add milk, cream, and nutmeg in pan (I tripled the recipe, your mix wont be this much), 
cook on high just until it boils, remove from heat.

 Blend egg yolks and sugar together until dissolved.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

 Temper eggs with milk mixture from pot, slowly.  I used a small ladle to add milk mixture and stirred with a long handled spoon.   Add the tempered eggs to pot and whisk and cook until it reaches 160 Fahrenheit. 

Remove pan to ice bath in sink, add vanilla and whisk to cool of mixture.

When mixture has cooled add whipped egg whites.  You are done, pour into lidded
container and refrigerate. 


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Stephanie's Kitchen Drawer: Stove/Oven

My husband began work in New York City a month before my children and I joined him.  The idea was to give him a month to find an apartment so when we showed up we didn't have to live in a hotel. I told my husband please pick an apartment that has a good kitchen, when I said good kitchen my idea was more like my kitchen in my house ie a stove, ample counter space, and maybe a dishwasher.  I told him I would give up an elevator and choose a third floor walk-up for a good apartment(a walk-up means no elevator and only stairs).  A friend also recommended a window too.  I had a white basic gas Maytag stove/oven in our house, not fancy but it worked.  My husband had some trouble finding a three bedroom apartment, we have four children so we wanted a little bit bigger apartment then the average NYC apartment.  

Many friends had ideas about where we should live but we ended up focusing on Queens.  Not long before the month was up my husband found an apartment with a good kitchen, three bedrooms, and in the neighborhood we chose.  He sent me pictures of the apartment and I was in shock, literally!  The kitchen looked better then my kitchen in my house, it looked the kitchen I dreamed about building.  

To reach the part of the story that is prevalent, the part of the kitchen that truly astounded me was the Viking Professional stove/oven.   I was sold, he signed the lease and the rest is history as they say.  A little about this oven, when my husband was home for the gas to turned on he was talking with the technician who told him our apartment stove was a $10,000 stove, WHAT!  Seriously, our landlord lived in the apartment and made huge upgrades and renovations to the place.  The funny part of the story about the stove is he didn't even cook.  

The sad part of the stove came when we realized very quickly that the oven part of the stove was broken.  Many months after we explained to the management company about our stove being broken they were able to find a technician who could even look at the oven, many companies refused to come out.  

Now that the oven works, I have a convection oven that heats evenly and cooks faster.  My bread that I just made cooked a little faster then it would have in a conventional oven.  Here's the truth though, if this were my house I would not have bought a Viking Professional Stove/Oven.  

Part of my complaints about Vikings stem from the broken control panel that ended up being the reason the oven wasn't working when we moved in, that part was $600 to replace, and on all the cooking forums, I read this is a common complaint with owners of Vikings, that the parts in the oven are susceptible to heat damage, say what! Exactly how does an oven manufacturer not see the design flaw in putting parts in the oven that can break from heat.  My opinion is the oven/stove now that is works are amazing, yes they are better then my basic oven.  Should you spend $4,200(I looked up the price) to get your own? No, it isn't worth it.

Stephanie's Food For Thought: Raw Honey

I have a son and daughter who love honey, again my mind said how can I make a change to our honey?  I wanted my children to have the healthiest version of foods they love.  I looked into raw honey and this is what I found, Dr. Oz on his site says "Many naturopaths and nutrition experts (myself included) suggest choosing raw honey for optimal health and beauty benefits. Raw honey is never strained, filtered or heated. Research suggests it’s loaded with many trace minerals, organic enzymes, antioxidants, plus antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that make it a powerful package of health. Its rich origins mean that it’s loaded with more interesting taste and flavor."  You can find what he wrote here.  Keep in mind raw honey should not be given to children under one year old. 

Caution: The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children age 1 and under should not be given honey whatsoever, as it can potentially carry spores of the toxin Clostridium botulinum, raising the risk of infantile botulism.

I buy my raw honey in bulk, the picture above is the raw honey I buy from hereIs it cheaper, no but we don't use it all that often.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Spelt Pita Bread

I wanted a chicken gyro for dinner tonight so I set to work to make pita bread.  This recipe is one I found online and changed a little to use spelt instead.

Homemade pita bread, lets make some together.

 Ingredients for this recipe are: 1 tablespoon honey (I used raw), 1 1/2 cups warm water, 1/4 cup
olive oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 2 1/2 cups spelt flour,
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast.

 Bloom the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon honey.  Look how happy and foamy that yeast is.

 Add the remaining 1 cup warm water, yeast mixture, salt, and olive oil into a mixing bowl.  I mixed these ingredients in a stand mixer.

 Add flour and mix some more with a dough hook until dough forms a ball.

 Put dough on lightly floured surface and knead in flour until it isn't sticky.  Round the dough, pulling
it on itself to form a skin and place in an oiled bowl covered in plastic wrap.  Putting the bowl on a heating pad set to medium will help the dough rise, my kitchen is cold so this step helps. Let the
dough rise for an hour or until doubled.

 The dough has doubled in size and is ready to be used.

 I weighed my dough and it is 818 grams.  I divided this by 12 and it divided the dough into balls.

 My divided dough is ready.

 Flatten the dough and place on parchment paper and let rest for 30 minutes.

 Set your oven temperature to 500 Fahrenheit.  When the oven is ready place the pita on the wire
 rack and cook for 2 minutes or until it bubbles up and flip over for another minute of cooking.

 Voila, we have pita bread fresh from the oven.

We ate our with my homemade Tzaziki sauce, sliced cucumbers, sliced red bell pepper, spinach,
Feta cheese, and shredded rotisserie chicken.


Tzaziki Sauce

I wanted Tzaziki sauce, isn't that a fun word Tzaziki?  Do you know what Tzaziki sauce is?  I have homemade Greek yogurt that is destined to be this most yummy sauce.

Where's a pita chip when you need it, want some?
 Ingredients for this recipe are: 1/2 English cucumber, small bunch of dill, 1 lemon,
4 cloves of garlic, Kosher Salt, 2 cups Greek Yogurt (I used homemade).

 I drained the yogurt for a few minutes in a coffee filter lined mesh sieve over a bowl.
I wanted to have a thick sauce.

 Cut the cucumber into small bits, cut the dill off the stalks and cut some more (not to much
or you'll have pulp).  Press the garlic, and slice the lemon in half.

 I put the cucumber in between several layers of paper towels and pressed it with a large can
in a bowl.  I flipped the cucumber and paper towels over after a couple of minutes.
This step removes extra liquid which could make your sauce thin.

My dry cucumber is ready.

 Dump everything in the bowl.



100% Spelt Bread

I have a family that LOVES bread, so I had to experiment making bread with Spelt since I decided I was converting to Spelt.  I found a bread recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Bread and adapted it for Spelt with the most success of all the recipes I have tried.  This recipe makes three 1 1/2 lb. loaves in 9 x 4 x 3 inch pans.  I also milled my own flour using my WonderMil.   I only have one pan, so thankfully this dough lasts in the refrigerator for two weeks.  You will need warm water, warm milk, instant yeast, Kosher salt, honey, oil, and spelt flour or whole wheat flour will also work.
Look at that beautiful loaf of homemade bread, want some?

Ingredients for this recipe are: 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk, 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast (2 packets), 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt, 1/2 cup honey (I used raw), 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, and 6 2/3 cups spelt flour or whole wheat flour.

 Mix water (microwave for 30 seconds), milk (microwave for 30 seconds), honey, instant yeast, Kosher salt, and vegetable oil in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook.  Allow to rest until yeast foams (5 minutes).

 Add flour and mix with dough hook until incorporated.

 Yes this is a wet dough.

 Spray  lidded container (5 quart) with oil.  Get hands wet and remove dough and place in container.

 Allow dough to rest for two hours.  At this point you may use the dough to make bread or refrigerate for up two weeks.

 Remove 1 1/2 lbs. of dough (you have three loaves worth), knead with some flour and pull the side under and create a loaf and place in a greased pan (I also added flour to the pan).  Allow bread to rise for 1 hour 40 minutes.

 You can give the dough a little help being warm by placing it on a heating pad set to medium.

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit twenty minutes before rise time ends.  Flour top of dough, and slash. Pour 1 cup of hot water into an oven safe pan (broiler pan would work) at bottom of oven, and quickly place the dough in the bread pan in the middle of the oven.  Bake the bread for 50 to 60 minutes.