Inga's Indulgence

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Baby Gourmet

Lately I find myself regressing to this one question - why should my baby eat bland food? I feel i've finally grown the courage to answer. He shouldn't, and I'm proposing something be done about it.

I know the last thing a baby needs is tons of sodium or peppery spice, but flavor can come from sources other than salt and pepper. Spices, aromatic vegetables, (i.e., onions, garlic, and ginger), and herbs are things we should be using to liven our children's tastebuds.

No more bland baby food! Babies deserve to enjoy their grub too.

Here's some yummy dessert (try to leave some for the baby)...

Pear & Berry Compote

1 Bartlett pear, peeled & diced into small cubes
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/4 cup water
pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

Place everything into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer for 15 minutes, or until pears are tender. Drain the fruits, reserving cooking liquid. Remove vanilla bean, and puree mixture, adding back as much of the cooking liquid as necesary to achieve desired consistency.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do It Like a Chef

On the evening of "End of the World Day", I hosted a cooking class at my house.
My students cooked their butts off, creating a meal that anyone would gladly eat as their last.                      
Thankfully, it wasn't over, and in the end everyone was reminded to savor life, one bite at a time.

The first course that we made reminded me of the silly beauty of life, and how simple yet incredibly complicated it all is.

Here is my metaphor of a starter - Watermelon Carpaccio with Feta Cheese, Mint & Frisee.   

8 oz block feta cheese
8 oz block seedless watermelon
2 oz pistachios, chopped
1 oz shallot, finely chopped 
1/4 cup mint leaves 
1/4 cup olive oil 
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup canola oil 
3 cups frisee

4 quail eggs, pan fried

Slice feta and watermelon into thin rectangular slices (same size), about 3-inches long, and lay them out on a plate in an overlapping fashion. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with pistachios and shallots, and set aside.                       

Make Mint Oil: Blanch mint in boiling water for 1 minute, until leaves turn bright green. Remove mint from water and immediately submerge into a bowl of ice water. Drain, squeezing out most of the water, and place into a blender along with olive oil. Blend for about a minute. Strain, and drizzle oil over plated watermelon and feta.

Make Vinaigrette for frisee: In a small bowl, whisk together honey, vinegar, and mustard. Continue to whisk while slowly pouring in the canola oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss with frisee.

Top watermelon carpaccio with dressed frisee and quail eggs, and don't ever forget to enjoy the simple, extravagent things in life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Me So Corny!

I know I posted a muffin recipe last week, but I just couldn't help but share this one. It's so easy, so good, and so addictive!

Inevitably, muffin madness continues...

Addictive Corn Muffins
(yield: 10 muffins)

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 1 or 2 muffin pans with 10 muffin liners.

Whisk together milk, butter, and egg in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients.

Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix just until combined. Distribute batter among muffin pan, and bake 22-24 minutes until tops are lightly golden brown.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Minute Munch

Here's another quick bite from my repertoire.

Don't mind me...I'm still warming up to the camera, but it will love me eventually. I promise!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Muffin Cop

Dry, tastless candidates at 500 calories a pop have really given muffins a bad rep lately.

The truth is, we tend to eat with our eyes. So when presented with a muffin the size of our head, we feel compelled to down the whole thing, no matter how bland or dry.

Here's what I'm offering you: a muffin that's not exactly diet food, but that does consist of ingredients which wont have you praying to the weightloss gods for the next week; and it's not the size of your head.

Cranberry Orange Muffins
yield: 12 muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup reduced fat 2% milk
1/4 cup orange juice (juice of half an orange, if using fresh)
1 egg
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup frozen cranberries, thawed to room temperature

Crumb Topping:
3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners.

In a large bowl, combine first 7 ingedients. In a separate bowl, whisk together next 5 ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the dry, and whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the cranberries. Distribute batter among muffin tins, filling almost to the top.

Make the crumb topping: Combine all ingredients for topping in a medium bowl. Using your fingertips, work the butter into the sugar and flour until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Sprinkle the crumb topping over muffins, and bake 25 minutes. Let muffins cool for 10-15 minutes. Gently run a knife along the edges of each muffin before removing from pan.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring Savor

Spring is a great season for eating.

Just as flowers begin to blossom on our neighborhood trees, beautiful produce comes out of hibernation at the market.

Migrating away from the heaviness that winter's stews and soups leave in our stomachs, by Spring we are ready for something lighter. Though Spring cuisine is not quite as light as Summer fare, it is a breath of fresh air after Winter's gluttony. It is the intermediate season, providing us with food that is equally rich and sustanent as it is fresh and delicate.

Here's a recent recipe inspired by a beautiful Spring day...

Linguini with Peas & Proscuitto
yield: 4-5 servings                                                                                                                                                                               1
1 lb linguine
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup frozen green peas
4 oz proscuitto, sliced into 1-inch strips
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1 tsp lemon zest
salt & pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season generously with salt. Blanch the peas for 1-2 minutes, until bright green. Remove from water, and set aside. In the same water, cook the linguine to "al dente,"according to manufacturer's instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water for sauce.

Place olive oil into a large pan over medium heat. Sweat the onions and garlic, until translucent, 5 minutes.
Add the blanched peas and proscuitto to the pan. Deglaze the pan with heavy cream and reserved pasta water. Simmer sauce for another 2 minutes.

Add pasta to the sauce. Lower heat, and stir in the egg yolks. Continue to stir until sauce thickens, 1 minute. Stir in the lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper (you should season to taste, but my tastebuds happened to tell me that this dish likes a lot of pepper).


Monday, May 9, 2011

Mango Lassi Milkshake

Thought you guys might like something a bit more visual...
Stay tuned for more "quick bites" in the near future!

For the full recipe click here: Mango Lassi Milkshake

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Baby Gourmet

My latest area of concern with my baby's food is texture. Recently, I have been trying to make the transition from purees to actual solids.

Sure, I may be getting a wee bit ahead of myself seeing as my 10-month-old only has 6 teeth (though his 6 are probably stronger and sharper than my 32), but the keyword is gradual. So as time passes, I make my purees thicker and thicker. Occasionally, I'll even leave some chunks, but it is very important to be cautious with chunks, as something that seems too small for your baby to choke on may turn out to be a hazard.

With really tender fruits and vegetables like bananas or cooked potatoes, a fork is my utensil of choice for controlling texture. But when it comes to certain other things, an immersion blender, or simply pulsing a few times in a food processor, works well to reach the desired consistency.

I left my latest concoction quite thick, and the little guy didn't seem to mind...

Gardener's Bounty
yield: 1 1/2 cups

6 oz organic summer squash, small dice
4 oz organic carrots, small dice
1 cup organic frozen peas
1 cup water
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

Place vegetables and water into a medium pan or saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cover, and continue to simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender. Add the parsley and mint, and cook for another minute. Drain the vegetables, reserving the cooking liquid. Puree the vegetables with about 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid (add more if you want the puree to be thinner).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Cookie for the Bride

One thing I remember about my wedding day is an empty stomach.

From the photographer snapping away to the guests ambushing me with congratulatory speeches, I barely had the chance to eat that day, let alone go to the bathroom (but that's a whole nother story).

So a few weeks ago when I was a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding, I decided to intervene by making cookies. Unfortunately my efforts proved futile since the bride was way too nervous to eat, and the groom turned out to be allergic to chocolate.

In any case, the rest of the bridal party seemed to enjoy them :)

Mocha Cookies
yield: about a dozen cookies

1 stick butter, unsalted
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1 tsp espresso powder (or instant coffee) dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 cup + 2 tsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and 1 cup sugar, until pale yellow and creamy (Use an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment if you have one). Continue to mix, as you add the egg, espresso mixture, and the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, conbine the flour, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix until combined. Chill cookie batter in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tsp cocoa powder with 2 tbsp sugar, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 rectangular sheetpans with parchment paper.

Roll the chilled cookie batter into balls (slightly smaller than the size of a golf ball), dip into the cocoa-sugar mixture, and place on the sheetpan (making sure to provide adequate space between each cookie).
Bake about 12 minutes.