Muffins, Almond Butter, Pasta & Risotto...
It's been more than a month since I've written! A month!
But kind and surprising as always, there are still people- whoever you are- reading each day, so thank you for sticking around.
But even though it seems as though I've disappeared, I've still been cooking my one recipe a week, and I've got them all lined up.
Life is just crazy... Is it February? March? April? December?
I can't keep track. Christmas seems as far away as last summer, and spring seems as close as this summer...
I have become a slave to my artwork, sleeping at horrendous hours of the 'night' (does 4 am count as morning or night?). My coursework dominates 90% of my thoughts and my conversations, and my mental sanity and friendships have suffered as a result.
And even with my coursework almost done, my art exam work is lurking, ready to plunge down on my head because it would be too unfair to give me some respite.
But I've slipped in some new dishes: I tried a different way of making almond butter, which wasn't actually that different in taste, but it was fun. I made risotto on my own for the first time- no one there to tell me what to add and when... the result was fascinating, but some of the cheesiness disappears as you reheat it.
I invented a pasta dish with a rosemary pea sauce, crispy mushrooms and broccoli and some cottage cheese; yum, but lacking a bit of flavour.
Lastly, yesterday I took out some time to do some baking with my dad, who also has a love for sweet stuff, and tends to push everything aside-no matter how much it is- when he feels like spending some time in the kitchen. We made banana-walnut muffins, which turned out big, moist, not too sweet and absolutely scrumptious.
I promise I won't let my posts pile up like this... if I don't let my work collect, I shouldn't let this collect. It's a commitment, and it's my passion.
Banana Walnut Muffins
By Tyler Florence, Food Network
Note: We used walnuts instead of pecans. We only had one egg in the fridge, so I added about an egg's worth of plain yoghurt. My grandma always uses yoghurt as an egg substitute and claims it tastes great, and her eggless muffins are actually quite fluffy. These muffins- whether due to the yoghurt or not- were definitely moist and fluffy.
Yield: 12 muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter 2 muffin tins.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. Give them a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The essence of risotto is the slow process, although my mum has actually made it in a direct and fast way, with perfect results. I wanted to try the traditional method, and the slow cooking is quite relaxing.
Fry off your onions and garlic in some oil, and then add the risotto rice and let it get slightly brown. Then add a ladle of stock and stir well until it is absorbed. Repeat- slowly and gently- until all the stock is used up or the rice is cooked with a slight bite- whichever comes first.
Towards the end, add the vegetables- I added slices of pan-fried zucchini, and some green peas. Most vegetables (cauliflower, celery, zucchini etc.) tend to disintegrate in the risotto, but that tastes quite creamy and the flavour spreads out nicely. The peas, however, stay firm. Risotto usually uses parmesan (stirred in towards the end with a good knob of butter), but I used a bit of parmesan and a bit of gouda, and it tasted delicious. But remember, the risotto tastes like it has much more flavour while it's cooking and then it seems to have less when you're actually eating it. Stir in your salt and pepper at the end.
This recipe isn't very detailed, because there are so many variations with herbs, vegetables, meat etc. And the quantities depend on how much you want and how thick it is. But don't measure it the same way you measure regular rice, like basmati. It really doesn't fluff up as much, so you'll need more. Make sure you add more stock or water to loosen it up when reheating.
Oh, and leftovers make amazing cutlets.
Rosemary Pea with Mushrooms and Broccoli
For the sauce, just sauté some onions and garlic with a bunch of rosemary leaves in some olive oil. Add the peas- fresh or frozen- and some stock, all depending on how much sauce you want. Leave it to boil with a lid on and turn off the fire when the peas are soft. Let it cool and add, add salt and pepper and blend it with a hand-blender until smooth. Feel free to add more herbs or vegetables. A squeeze of lemon on top tastes lovely.
The mushrooms and broccoli were just finely chopped and left to sauté for a long time with some garlic, salt , pepper and olive oil. I left them to get browned and slightly crispy, but you can cook them according to your tastes. Again, you can easily change the vegetables and make any additions in terms of spices and herbs.
Almond Butter V2
Inspired by my peach parfaits, I had the idea of roasting and caramelising the almonds in hone and maple syrup before blending them. The order didn't make much of a difference to the taste, and I ended up adding more sweetener than necessary while caramelising them. I also added a bit too much olive oil. However, advantage is that the butter is still smooth despite having been made a few weeks ago.