Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pastry Cream

Remember the cream in the Bavarian doughnuts? Oh man, how I luv that cream!!! Of course, I have to make my own since the cream has to be dairy and corn free.

I found William Sonoma's pastry cream recipe, but milk and corn starch were parts of the ingredients. How did I modify the recipe? Easy! For dairy free, I used coconut milk and omitted the butter. I substituted all-purpose flour for the corn starch.

Beside eating the pastry cream straight up, I serve it with waffles. It is a perfect filling for fruit tarts or in puffs like ├ęclair or puff shells. I actually enjoy it like a pudding with fruits (see my pastry cream fruit cup picture).

I usually have egg yolks leftover from making angle food cake, meringues, or macaroons. When I don't know what to do with the egg yolks, I'd make pastry cream. Feel free to double or triple the recipe. Keep it an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Pastry Cream
adapted from William Sonoma's Pastry Cream
makes 1 cup

3/4 cup (6 oz) coconut milk
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (1.7 oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a soft boil at a low medium heat. NOTE: Soft boil is when bubbles start to form on the side of the saucepan.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
  3. Once the milk comes to a soft boil, whisk the egg mixture while adding about 1/4 cup of hot milk.
  4. Whisk the egg mixture while adding the rest of the hot milk.
  5. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan. NOTE: Keep the stove on low-medium heat.
  6. Whisk in the flour.
  7. Stir the egg mixture using a wooden spoon until thicken, about 2-3 minutes.
  8. Turn off the stove and whisk in the vanilla extract.
  9. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl. Enjoy it after it cools down or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Allergy Info: This pastry cream is free from or can be made without dairy, corn, legumes (soy), nuts (not coconut), or fish. For gluten free, substitute all-purpose flour with arrowroot or tapioca starch.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spinach Pancakes

One of my fun activities is to look for recipes that incorporated any type of veggies in my cooking. Let's face it. My kids just don't like vegetables. Sure, they eat raw carrots and cucumber slices. But that's pretty much it.

While I was looking for recipes to make for the Chinese New Year's blog post, I came across chives pancakes recipe. I knew right away that my kids would not go for the chives. The strong onion taste and aroma would winkle their noses. They'd definitely look cute but nothing accomplish. Then I remember how I tried to add spinach into their diets, and they would eat it IF and only if the spinach was cooked softly with no taste. Talk about a challenge, right?

I decided to use my flour tortilla recipe but with the Chinese pancake style cooking method. The verdict??? The spinach pancakes are much thicker than the flour tortilla. But the crispy of the outer layer is the best part of the pancake. What did my kids think? They asked me, "what's that green thing?" See what I mean? But they ate them and asked for more. Serve them with any type of proteins, just like I would with flour tortilla. My kids actually have them for snacks too.

When finely chopped the spinach, make sure to remove the ribs. Only use the spinach leaves and save the ribs for fresh salad or other means of cooking. I choose to light brush the dough with oil then cook it on the griddle. Another option is to pan fry the pancakes. The pancakes are crispier when pan fry but they are also more oily.

Spinach Pancakes
makes 8 six-inch round

flour tortilla dough (click for recipe)
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves, ribbed and finely chopped
1/4 cup of safflower oil, for brushing

  1. Prepare the flour tortilla dough as directed. TIP: Adding the ground flax seeds to the dough is optional. I add them in for the omega-3. If the ground flax seeds are omit to the recipe, the dough maybe wet. Add a little bit of all purpose flour between kneading. The dough is ready when it is no longer sticky and has a smooth texture.
  2. Heat the flat griddle on a medium low heat.
  3. Place the oil in a small bowl, and have a pastry brush nearby. TIP: Use a silicone pastry brush so it can tolerate heat when brush the dough with oil in step-13.)
  4. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts.
  5. Flat the dough using a rolling pin.
  6. Spread chopped spinach leaves, about 1 teaspoon, and press them into the dough. (picture 1)
  7. Roll up the dough into a log. (picture 2 and 3)
  8. Coil the dough log into a spiral shape. (picture 4)
  9. With the rolling pin, roll the dough out again into a 6-inch disk. (Guesstimate this. Remember that these are homemade so the shape doesn't have to be perfect. Be sure the rolled out dough is on the thick side, not thin like the flour tortilla.)
  10. Brush the dough with oil.
  11. Place the oil side down on to the griddle.
  12. Cook until the pancake is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  13. Brush the top side, flip the dough, and cook another 2 to 3 minutes.
  14. Cut the spinach pancakes into wedges and enjoy.
Allergy Info: These spinach pancakes are free from or can be made without dairy, eggs, corn, legumes (soy), nuts, and fish.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce and Italian Salad Dressing

Have you ever looked at the ingredients in any bottle of salad dressing? I did and still do. And guess what? I can't find any salad dressing without one or more questionable ingredients like xanthan gum, citric acid, ascorbic acid or caramel color. These are the ingredients I've tried so hard to avoid in prepackaged foods ever since Camden outgrew his food intolerance.

When I make chicken nuggets or have a mixed salad, I have to come up with my own version of a dipping sauce or a salad dressing. Brek prefers to have his chicken nuggets with honey mustard. I thought about it and figured out that I could maybe make my own. And I did. Super easy ingredients to put together. The difference is that I prefer using agave than honey. So testing out my honey mustard sauce with agave or honey and see which one you prefer best. My honey mustard dipping sauce is a bonus as a salad dressing.

For a salad dressing? That one was easy too. I luv Italian flavor. I couldn't figure out what was in the salad dressing that I had at the local Mediterranean restaurant. After I reviewed several Italian salad dressing recipes, I realized that they had pretty much the same ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, and salt. I tested and mixed my own version, and it turned out really tangy (my favorite flavor). 

To make a tasty dipping sauce or salad dressing, I do use good brand of products. For mayo, I luv Sir Kensington's classic mayonnaise. I've used their classic ketchup for awhile, which is perfect for a pizza sauce. When I saw their mayo on the shelf, I gave it a try and really loved the creaminess. Keep in mind that their mayonnaise has egg and white vinegar (from corn).

My attempt of making yellow mustard was a big fail. So I was overjoy (yes, my heart skipped a beat) when I found Eden Foods yellow mustard. Their mustard is made from apple cider vinegar. This is a big plus for me because that means it is corn free. So I've used their yellow mustard since Camden was still super sensitive to corn. When it comes to red wine vinegar, I'm not much of an expert. Well, not at all actually. Since I luv Eden Foods products so much, I decide to try their red wine vinegar. For one good reason, it only contains two ingredient. And you know what? It's organic and isn't that expensive from other non-organic brands.

Ok, let's make some sauce and dressing. Oh yeah, feel free to make changes to my recipes and add your own twist of flavor. Remember, I luv my savory foods on the sour side.

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (or Salad Dressing)
serve 2

2 Tablespoons (0.8 oz) mayo
1-2 teaspoons yellow mustard
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
agave (or honey) to taste

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Italian Salad Dressing
serve 4 - 6

1/4 cup (2 oz) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (2 oz) red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Whisk all ingredients together. Keep in it a pretty bottle at a room temperature for up to 14 days. NOTE: Vigorously shake the Italian salad dressing before pouring it over the mix salad.

Allergy Info: These dipping sauce and salad dressing are free from or can be made without dairy, eggs, corn, legumes (soy), nuts, wheat, and fish.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Chocolate Covered Kiwi Pops

I decided that this year, I'd post more recipes coincide with the holidays. With baking, I find it to be a challenge to make desserts appear in pretty holiday-ish color. Without food color, I can only make something brownish looking. Thanks to chocolate chips.

Last month, I made Candied Heart Beets for Valentines. So I was thinking, maybe I should look more into fruits and veggies. For St. Patrick's Day, I started the search for green things in the produce section.

You may have notice juuust a little bit that my favorite color is green. Hence, my blog is in green. I just luv all shades of green. I feel so Zen when I look at green things in nature... except crawly stuff. And there are so many greenish choices in the produce section. Asparagus and lettuce are the obvious ones. But I also found kiwi, and they were on sales. Well, I went through the same dilemma with beets. I bought the kiwi, walked pass them, and just couldn't think of what to do with them. So I searched for images of kiwi desserts. WOW!!! So many!!! The one that caught my eyes what looked like a frozen kiwi covered in chocolate.

Living in Texas, there are days that are warm enough to have something sweet and cold in the winter. I decided to take up the challenge of making chocolate covered kiwi pops. They were pretty easy to make. The time consuming process was waiting for the kiwi slices to freeze up. AND what surprised me the most was that Brek ate the whole pop. Yeah, he did. He didn't like kiwi at all. It was hard for Camden to bite it though. I made a smaller version especially for him.

I'm so glad I found a way to add vitamin C to my kids' diet. These pops are frozen, so they can sit in the freeze for a long, long, long time. Now that's a bonus. They are definitely the perfect summer treats. And this gets me thinking... what other colorful fruits can I experiment with next.

Chocolate Covered Kiwi Pops
makes 6

1 kiwi
1/2 cup chocolate chips
  1. Line a baking tray with a nonstick mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Peel the kiwi then slice it to 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Pierce a 3 to 4 inch bamboo skew (or paddle pick) into each kiwi slice.
  4. Place the kiwi slices onto the prepared baking tray.
  5. Freeze the kiwi slices for 4 hours or overnight.
  6. When the kiwi slices are frozen, melt the chocolate chips either in a microwave or on a double boiler.
  7. Dip the kiwi slice into the melted chocolate, using a spatula to smooth off the excess.
  8. Place the chocolate kiwi pops back onto the baking tray.
  9. Freeze for at least 15 minutes before serving. Keep each pop in a sealed plastic bag.
TIP: Right after kiwi is dipped into the chocolate, sprinkle something special such as toasted nuts or chia seeds.

Allergy Info: These chocolate kiwi pops are free from or can be made without dairy, eggs, corn, legumes (soy), nuts, wheat, and fish.