- Cinnabon without the mall looks delicious (also another big step on my journey to conquer my fear of yeast)
- In preparation for our trip to Hawaii this summer, I should practice eating poke.
- Strawberry ice cream without dairy or an ice cream maker? Sign us up
- I love carrot salads and tahini, so this looks like a winner.
So… I have a confession: I’m mildly terrified of yeast/dough. Yeah, totally pathetic for someone who loves to cook so much from scratch, I know. Something about it though just makes my heart start to race and gives me visions of dismal, gummy failures. I’ve deftly managed to avoid it for years, other than an occasional batch of bread in the safety of my bread maker (which, honestly, does that even count?).
This summer is the time for that to change. My goal? To conquer yeast. Yes, I know that’s a strange goal, especially with the current paleo and gluten free trends that seem to have taken over, but I want to know how to confidently make a loaf of bread, rolls, or… pizza!
Guys, I made pizza dough! With an overnight rise and yeast and bubbles and stickiness, and it was great! I feel like a champion, not going to lie.
I’m not even going to begin to break this down myself, because Deb at Smitten Kitchen has done the most AMAZING job of going into the science behind it all, even including different amounts of yeast for different rise times, which blows my rookie mind. Do yourself a favor and go check it out here: Lazy Pizza Dough
Here are my thoughts/tips after making the 22 hour rise dough:
- I bought a new bag of King Arthur AP flour and a new container of yeast (mine got thrown out when we moved across the country, which is good, because it was old, and old yeast is bad yeast), since Deb used the same flour. Nervous Nellie right here.
- I definitely had to add the extra tbsp or 2 of water to get my dough right.
- We made the sauce that Deb used, and I would recommend making sure it’s very well seasoned. It brings a lot of the flavor to the pizza. We added dried oregano from our old garden in TN (I miss you, garden), which was an excellent addition.
- I put my baking sheet in the oven while it preheated, and assembled each of my two pizzas on separate sheets of parchment paper on which I first rubbed a thin layer of olive oil and sprinkled a dusting of cornmeal. Then I just placed the parchment with the pizza on the very hot sheet and put it in the oven. The edges of the paper did get scorched and resulted in a little smokiness in the apartment, but there was no sticking and the bottom of the crust got nice and crispy. Worth it.
- This dough is seriously wet and sticky. Don’t freak out. Just take your time and laugh a lot. A beer helps with this process.
- We used some mozzarella and just a few things (marinated artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes) we grabbed off the Whole Foods antipasti bar, which made this super easy to assemble.
Try it out! I can’t wait to start experimenting with it more.
Yeast, I will win this fight.
Minerva really wanted to try this coconut milk, but since I prefer to have it fur free, I kept the lid on.
Josh is allergic to nuts and dairy, which really limits the “milk” options for us. While I still use cow milk in my coffee, and for occasional recipes when we just really don’t feel like substituting, we need something to put in smoothies and baked goods, or really whatever. I don’t like to use soy, I find rice milk a little bland, and it seems like most of the cartons of coconut milk available have added ingredients that are just unnecessary and weird me out.
This technique creates a smooth, lightly creamy, and slightly sweet coconut milk with a definite coconut flavor.
Now, this isn’t the coconut milk to use in curries or anything like this. This is definitely a drinking milk, so keep that in mind when substituting it in recipes.
I make a batch of this every Sunday and throw out any leftovers the following weekend. I find that a week is about as long as it’s good for.
It would be great with granola!
- 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- 6 cups water
- Nut milk bag or fine mesh strainer
Place the coconut in a large bowl. Heat the water to a boil and pour over the coconut. Let soak for about half an hour to an hour.
Once it has soaked and cooled down a little, place about half of the water/coconut mix into a blender and blend for 2-3 minutes. Pour the blended mixture into the nut milk bag placed over a bowl. Squeeze the bag until you get all of the liquid out of the coconut. Discard the coconut pulp and repeat with the remaining coconut and water. If you’re using a strainer, pour through the strainer and gently press to get as much of the milk out as possible.
Pour the strained milk into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a week. Shake well before using.
One of the sad realities that we face is that Josh is allergic to nuts. Some types bother him more than others, but we generally try to steer clear of them all.
This becomes a lot more tricky when trying to find a good granola at the store. The few I’ve found all seem so… boring. Mainly just oats, for a ridiculously high price. We still want all of the yummy crunch and flavors of a good granola, so I set out to find a good version. I eventually discovered this recipe, and started modifying it to fit our tastes. The result? A granola that Josh begs for. As an added bonus, it makes our apartment smell like heaven while it’s cooking.
Note: I buy most of the ingredients for this in the bulk section at Whole Foods, which winds up making this a pretty dang cheap granola
The Best Nut Free Granola
- 1/4 c. coconut oil
- 1/3 c. maple syrup
- 3 c. old fashioned oats
- 1 c. chopped dried fruit (dates are always our favorite)
- 1/2 c. dried, unsalted pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 c. dried, unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1 tsp. cinnamon (in the fall I’ve been known to use pumpkin pie spice)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 325.
In a small saucepan, melt your coconut oil. Once melted, add your maple syrup and stir to combine. I usually leave the pan on the stovetop on low to keep the oil from solidifying.
In a large baking pan, combine the oats, fruit, and seeds. Mix that together, making sure to break up any sticky clumps of fruit (I find using my hands for this step works best). Add the salt and cinnamon and mix well. Pour the oil/syrup over the dry stuff, and mix it around for about a minute to ensure that it’s all well coated. Add the vanilla extract and mix one more time. Make sure the granola is spread relatively evenly in the pan.
Place the pan in the oven for about 17 minutes. Stir well, and cook for another 17 minutes. Take it out and let it cool, stirring occasionally to help keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Taste as many handfuls as you deem necessary.
Serve with milk, granola, fruit… whatever you’d like.
Store in an airtight container.
We love avocado toast. We love it a lot. I could eat it 5 days a week and be happy.
I know that it has become a super trendy thing, but at the end of the day, it’s just delicious.
Add an egg to it? Pure brilliance, not to mention hearty enough to get you through your morning without digging through your desk drawer for snacks.
Egg and Avocado Toast
- 1-2 6 Minute Eggs, cooled and peeled
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2 pieces of toasted bread (we LOVE Ezekiel Sprouted 7-Grain Bread)
- 1/2 lime or lemon, juiced
- Red pepper flakes (we add quite a bit, since we’re gluttons for pain)
- Sea salt to taste
Smash together the avocado, lemon/lime juice, red pepper flakes, and sea salt. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
Spread this mixture across the two pieces of toast, and then slice the eggs on top of the avocado. I prefer half an egg on each piece of toast, while Josh prefers a whole egg. Sprinkle a little more salt on each egg and try to consume without making a total mess.
I have yet to succeed in eating this without winding up with egg yolk on my face.
Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 snacks, and 5 dinners for the two of us. Lunch ideas are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. I make the lunches and do other various prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We are currently living in New York City, so things are more expensive than average.
May 25- May 31-
Total cost: $133 (Sadly had to buy more maple syrup this week. Always a nice $20 gouge. Ouch.)
Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $4.75
- Fruit smoothies with homemade coconut milk, frozen banana, an avocado, and assorted frozen fruit
- Best granola using dates and apricots. Serve with yogurt and sliced bananas.
- Lemon scented quinoa salad– cook quinoa in rice cooker. cook chickpeas. add roasted asparagus, leave out onion. Apple for dessert
- Cocoa coconut bits– Josh’s specialty
- Pizza– 22 hour version, with homemade pizza sauce, mozzarella, and marinated artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes from the Whole Foods antipasti bar
- Trader Joe’s frozen meal with rice (trying to clear out the freezer a little)
- Bacon and egg ramen– with sautéed mushrooms, homemade chicken broth, and double the noodles
- Lamb chops and roasted leeks and asparagus (free style)
I would apologize for the quality of the photo, but since Josh and I could barely pause to speak while inhaling this food, I consider the fact that I managed to get one photo a massive victory.
I had been hearing about Xi’an Famous Foods for a while and wanted to try it out. We were both off Friday, and we decided to hit up the Upper West Side location on our way to see the Whitney Biennial.
The restaurant is small with limited seating, so I quickly grabbed two stools after agonizing with Josh over which menu items we should try this round. He ordered at the counter, and we only had a brief wait before our order number was called. Then, conversation virtually ceased.
We tried the spicy cumin lamb burger, the spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles, the spicy cucumber salad, and the spicy and sour lamb dumplings. Notice a few trends? We do love lamb and heat, but you should know that there are a variety of different meat and vegetable options, as well as items that are more mild.
The burger was very savory, sandwiched between two pieces of flatbread and full of a well spiced ground lamb mixture. Anthony Bourdain, my hero, is a known fan of the burger, and for good reason. Very simple and would make a great snack if you were in the area.
The spicy lamb noodles were so good. The noodles are made fresh in-house, and you can immediately tell the difference. There is such a fantastic chewy texture to them that you can never find a in a pre-made noodle. The lamb chunks were tender and spicy, and the juice coated the noodles.
We have a deep and abiding love for dumplings, and these didn’t disappoint. They were a little bigger than you typically find, definitely a 2-3 bite dumpling, filled with ground lamb and covered in a delicate spicy and sour sauce. The sauce bears no resemblance to the cheap and gloopy sauce that covers food court chicken, but instead was really a perfect balance of hot and sour, with a very pleasant heat in the background. I found myself dipping the dumplings back into the sauce after every bite.
The spicy cucumber salad was cool, crunchy, and delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever craved another bite of cucumber the way I did when eating that salad. It provided a nice contrast to all of the other textures happening in our meal, and was a great, light accompaniment to an otherwise relatively heavy meal.
All in all, this might be one of our new favorite restaurants. The combination of perfect seasonings and the joy of finding noodles of that quality have earned our deep loyalty. We’ve already started planning our next trip, and wondering which of the more unusual menu items to try next ( lamb face salad? lamb offal soup? The ox tail will definitely find its way onto our plates).
Note: while the prices are very low, especially for the extremely high quality of the food, it is cash only, so come prepared!