Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brown Rice, Dried Fruit & Nut Bars

These pure ingredient, no-bake trail mix bars are inspired by the Lärabar which are simply fruit and nuts.   A combination of a few natural ingredients like dried cherries and almonds or dates and cashews create flavor combinations that seem more complex than the minimal  number of ingredients would imply.  I found a recipe for Cranberry Pistachio ones on the outdoorsy-food-adventure blog Use Real Butter and took the technique to create a version that is a little lighter. 

My secret ingredient is Rice Krispies made with brown rice.  These are a little less sweet the the original Rice Krispies and are made in a facility that is gluten free.  The cereal replaces half of the nuts while providing a satisfying crunch. I also squeeze some extra juice into these bars.  Perhaps my pantry is drier than most.  The dried fruit drinks it up to form the nice paste that holds the bars together. 

Brown Rice Dried Fruit & Nut Bars
Yield: about 20 3-inch bars

1 1/2 cups dates
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup Brown Rice Krispies
Zest of a 1 orange
Optional: juice of half an orange

  1. Line a loaf pan with wax paper or tin foil, leaving overhang on the long ends of the vessel.  
  2. In a food processor, pulse the dates and cranberries until well ground.  If your fruit is very dry, add juice at this stage.  Continue to process until the fruit forms a sticky paste. Place ground fruit in a medium bowl.
  3. Next, process the nuts until they are ground to the size of a grain of rice or a bit larger.  Add to the fruit.  
  4. Add the rice krispies and orange zest to the fruit-nut mixture.
  5. Use your (clean) hands to combine all the ingredients.
  6. Once the ingredients are well combined, start to press the mixture together so that they hold together.  Add a bit more juice if needed.*
  7. Press fruit-nut mixture into prepared loaf pan.   
  8. Cover and freeze for one hour.  
  9. The mixture will be very cold but not frozen solid.  Remove block of fruit-nut loaf from pan and slice into 1-inch slabs.  Cut slabs in half to form 3" X 1" bars.  Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.  Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap for travel.
*Our house tolerates a bit of crumble.  If you like your bars very firm, add a little extra juice.  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bunny Cherry Chocoate Trifle

Chunks of chocolate cake, a layer of cherry pie filling mixed with Kirsch and cherry jam, a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a layer of pastry cream.  (It's OK to use vanilla pudding.) Peeps bunnies optional, whipped cream on the side a bonus. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Potato Chip Chicken

The secret is unsalted potato chips.  You know from past posts how we feel about this versatile snack.  Spain’s famed chef Ferran Adrià uses crisp potato chips to make the fastest and tastiest Spanish Tortilla possible.  American chips can be very salty so unsalted ones allow you to salt the tortilla properly, especially important if you are adding a salty meat like sliced Spanish chorizo to the recipe.  You can use them to create your own BBQ chips or create your favorite flavored chips with real ingredients rather than the questionable list you see on packages. 

Now the unsalted version bakes up crispy chicken for you. This gluten-free coating will remind you of the satisfying crunch panko gives baked chicken.  Crush the chips in a food processor for the full recipe.  Or if making only one or two chicken breasts, place the chips in a baggie and crush with your hands or a rolling pin.  

Potato Chip Chicken
Yield: 4 servings

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless*
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cup crushed potato chips (about 3 cups uncrushed)

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.  
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil and coat with spray oil or a little vegetable oil.  
  3. Place chicken breasts on pan.  Lightly salt and pepper each.  
  4. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on each chicken breast.  
  5. Cover the mayonnaise layer with a layer of crushed potato chips.  Note that since they already have oil on them, they will crisp up without additional oil or butter.  You may sprinkle on a little more salt, pepper and other seasonings (like paprika, dried oregano or basil) before placing chicken in the oven to bake.  
  6. Bake 20-30 minutes until juices run clear and an internal temperature of 170˚F is reached. 
  7. Remove chicken form oven and allow to rest five minutes before serving.
*Tip: Pounding boneless skinless chicken breast before starting the recipe will give you uniform thickness and more even cooking.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Modern Meatloaf

Meatloaf sandwiches tomorrow!
Swap in ground turkey and minced mushrooms for the pork-veal combo usually added to ground beef in meatloaf.   The result is meaty with a sophisticated and smooth mushroom undertone.  A sweet-spicy glaze is baked on with a bacon topping.   This is close enough to the original to please traditionalist but modern enough for the trendsetters at your table.

Meatloaf with Mushrooms
Serves 6-8

2 cups mushrooms
2/3 cup ground oats (oat flour) or bread crumbs
½ cup plain yogurt (buttermilk or pain milk can be substituted)
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon marjoram (or thyme)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound ground turkey (lean)
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
5-6 slices bacon or pancetta

For the Tomato-Maple Glaze:
¼ cup ketchup
2 teaspoons chili sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a large mixing bowl combine oats and yogurt.  Mix in next seven ingredients, mustard through black pepper.   
  2. Using a food processor, finely chop mushrooms.  Stir mushroom into mixture.   
  3. Now, add ground turkey, ground beef and egg.  Using a large fork or your clean hands, mix until well combined.   Mixture will be fairly wet.  
  4. Tasting: Scoop a small amount, about a tablespoon, into the microwave-safe dish and cook one minute until completely cooked.  Taste for seasoning.  If more salt is needed, add in ¼ teaspoon increments and retest mixture by cooking a small amount again.  
  5. When satisfied, place mixture in a loaf pan or mold into a free-form mound on a foil-lined rack.  You can make one large or two smaller meatloaves. (Poke a few holes in the rack for drainage.)  
  6. Brush generously with tomato-maple glaze and cover top with bacon.  
  7. Bake meatloaf one hour, until cooked through.  The meatloaf is done when a meat thermometer in the middle of the meatloaf reads 165˚F.  Run the meatloaf under the broiler for a minute or two if the bacon is not yet crisp enough.  
  8. Remove from oven and allow meatloaf to rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.
The Bacon Version
Elegant Life Leftovers
Meatloaf sandwiches are good hot or cold.  Pick one these great add-ins to build a special lunch:
  • Horseradish & mayonaise
  • sliced avocado & chopped lettuce
  • "Grilled Cheese" with thin slices of meatloaf layered between cheese slices
  • Soft caramelized onions or crunchy onion rings
  • Cole Slaw & barbeque sauce
Thinly sliced meatloaf can be served with slices of warm baguette, pickled onions, cornichons, Dijon mustard and a small cheese platter.