Saturday, July 28, 2012

Anne of Green Gables Lemonade

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picture via Simply So Good - Old Fashioned Lemonade

While it hasn't been over 100 degrees outside lately, it definitely gets that hot too many times for my taste. One great way to cool down is with a nice tall glass of ice cold lemonade.
   I usually shy away from making lemonade, because the juicing alone is tiresome - but I count it towards my exercise for the day and I feel better about it. (It's one heck of an arm work out to get 1 1/2 cups of lemon juice!) I found this recipe on Pinterest (of course) and it is the recipe from the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook. Did you ever read those books? If not, you really should! Our book club read one last year, and it was nice to read a book that is so uplifting and not full of garbage (as many books today are, in my opinion).
   Anyway. This lemonade recipe is really delicious, and couldn't be easier -after you get all the juice that is.

There's only 4 steps (maybe 5 but their not hard - promise):
Step 1: Make the simple syrup. 1 1/2 cups each of water and sugar go into a pot on the stove. Put it over medium high heat, to bring it to a boil.

In the mean time, Step 2: Zest 1 lemon. Only the yellow please!

I got about 1 Tbsp from my medium to large lemon.

Step 3: Juice the lemons. Lots of lemons. It's best to do this with a reamer, or juicer of some kind - Not just squeezing it like I am here. Do as I say, not as I do. (I squoze the first half like this and then remembered to do it a more productive way.)

Make sure to strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer, to get out any seeds. (This is still the same half from the picture above.)

The simple syrup should be up to a boil now. Turn off the heat, and stir to make sure all the sugar is dissolved.

Step 3 1/2 (or 4 if you want to be technical): Combine the 1 1/2 cups juice, and 1 Tbsp zest . . .

with the simple syrup, and

stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into a large mason jar to store for later.

You've just made lemonade concentrate!  Screw the lid on and this will keep in the fridge for a week. It doesn't make it past a day or two in my house.

When you are ready for your lemonade, the ratio is 1:3. 1 part lemonade concentrate to 3 parts water - or to taste. (You might like your lemonade more strong, or weak than I like mine. Do what tastes good to you.)
This is step 4 (or 5, whichever): Pour 1/4 cup of lemonade concentrate over a glass of ice. Fill the glass the rest of the way up with water. Add a sprig of mint and a slice of lemon and you're done!

I didn't have any mint on hand, and I was too thirsty to take the time to make mine look pretty with the lemon slices. But the picture on top from Simply So Good shows it the "correct way. 
You can also jazz this recipe up by making flavored lemonades. Just add a little pureed fruit. Strawberry, watermelon, mango and peach are a few of my favorites.
This recipe is so easy to remember because the water, sugar and juice are all in equal amounts. Easy Peasy! Enjoy!

Anne Of Green Gables Lemonade

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups lemon juice
zest of one lemon (about 1 Tbsp)

Combine water and sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Add the zest and lemon juice. Stir. Store in the fridge in an air tight container (a large mason jar is best in my opinion) in the fridge until ready to use. When ready to serve, add 1/4 cup of the lemonade mixture to 3/4 cups water (or to taste). Serve over ice.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bubble & Squeak - Potatoes and Cabbage

Have any of you heard of Bubble and Squeak? No? It's an English dish that I ate a few times growing up. My dad recently made it when we had a big family dinner and my Handsome Man said that it was one of the best things he has ever eaten. Of course, he loves to eat, and regularly says things are "the best" but I don't mind. It makes the cook feel good.
   Well, Bubble and Squeak is a dish made up of potatoes (usually mashed, but not always) and cabbage - sometimes (always in our house) containing some sort of meat. I grew up with it made with bacon (YUM!), but I used some Polska Kielbasa sausage this time. I was visiting my in-laws, and my father in-law said that he really liked a dinner of cabbage, Kielbasa and potatoes. I immediately thought of Bubble and Squeak and made it for him that night. Everyone seemed to enjoy it - especially my Handsome Man of course.
   I looked it up online, and google suggests that it's called Bubble and Squeak because of the noises it makes when you cook it "Bubble" when you boil the potatoes and "squeak" when you saute the cabbage- but I don't know. I guess it fits. The English like to name their dishes after the noises they make - hence Bangers and Mash (Sausage and Mashed Potatoes. Supposedly the sausage makes a "pop" or "bang" when you cook it.) I don't care why it is called what it's called. It's just good. (And with a name like Bubble and Squeak it makes the kids laugh - and me too, lets be honest.)
   It's a simple dish that tastes really good too. What more could you want?

Here's how I made mine this time (it's always a little different):

Put some washed potatoes in a pot, and cover with cold water.
You want potatoes that are all about the same size. My in-laws had red potatoes so that is what I used today, but I would traditionally use Russet potatoes. The little red ones were all about the same size, except one mondo one. That one got cut in half.

Put the pot of potatoes over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a medium low and cook until fork tender.
While the potatoes are cooking, I cut up one small head of cabbage (already washed of course).

Next came the sausage. Just one package of Polska Kielbasa. If I were using bacon, now is when I would cut that up into small pieces as well.

Just cut the sausage into even slices.

The cut sausage goes into a large skillet - cast iron is the choice today. You want a pan that will get really hot, and have an even distribution of heat. Cast iron is perfect for that. I added the sausage to a cold pan, and then turned the heat to medium high. This will cause the sausage to render some of it's fat into the pan and get the sausage pieces crispy.

While the sausage browns, I cut up one medium onion into dices.

The sausage should be browned by now (some are a little too browned, but it's o.k). Take the sausage out (or bacon if you are using that instead) and set it aside for later.

In the same skillet, add a little butter (if there's not enough fat in the pan already) and add the diced onion. Cook over medium heat until the onion starts to brown.

The potatoes should be done about now. I checked them with a fork and then drained them off.

Each potato was cut in half (I would cut them more if I were using russet potatoes, but these little red ones just need to be halved). When the onions are soft and brown, I pushed them to one side of the pan and put the potatoes, cut side down on the other side. I don't touch them. I just let them sit and get crispy in the hot butter and sausage drippings.

I needed to do two batches of potatoes because they didn't all fit in the pan at once. I put the crispy potatoes into the pot that I originally boiled the potatoes in. (No sense in dirtying another dish!)

See that potato right there? The one that's extra brown and crispy? ^^ That's what I like to see.
I stirred my onions, pushed them aside again and added my second batch of potatoes.

I added the sausage to the pot with the potatoes.

Then I dumped in the onions and the rest of the potatoes that were crisping in the pan.

Now that my cast iron skillet is free again, I added the cabbage (and a little butter too, of course).

Add a little salt, and over medium heat, just keep turning the cabbage around until it wilts down.

How long you cook your cabbage is up to you. I like it to be a little brown around the edges but still have a slight crunch. If you like it all soft, then keep cooking it until the texture is the way you like.

When the cabbage is done to your liking, turn off the heat and dump the cabbage into the pot with the other ingredients. You are now done with your friend, the cast iron skillet. Thank it lovingly and clean it carefully so that you can preserve your one of a kind friendship. (A cast iron pan is a friend you should really get if you don't have one already.)

Stir all the ingredients all together, taste it for seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed, and it's ready to eat. Ta Da!

It's a simple dish and should be served simply. Paper plates are a great way to go, but are not required. (They are one of my in-laws favorite ways to serve a meal.) Consume immediately, while everything is still hot and crisp. Yum!
Here's the recipe:

Bubble & Squeak

14 small red potatoes, or 7 medium russet potatoes
1 package of Polska Kielbasa Sausage, cut into bit sized pieces (Can substitute a package of bacon cut into small pieces)
1 small to medium onion, diced
1 small head of cabbage, cut or shredded
butter (about 2 Tbsp, but it's really to taste)
salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Boil the potatoes until fork tender and drain. Cut into bit sized pieces and set aside. In a large skillet, add the sausage (or bacon) and cook over medium high heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, take the sausage (or bacon) out of the pan and set aside for later - keeping the drippings in the skillet. Add the onions to the drippings and salt and pepper to taste. If you don't have enough drippings in the pan, add 1 Tbsp of butter. Cook over medium heat until the onions start to turn soft and brown around the edges. Push the onions to one side of the pan and place an even layer of potatoes on the other side of the skillet. Don't touch the potatoes for at least 2 minutes - let them get brown and crispy. You might need to add more butter (your choice). When the potatoes are brown, turn them to crisp another side. Stir the onions. When the potatoes are browned, scoop them out and put them into the pot that was used to boil the potatoes (any big pot will do if you are using left over potatoes). Continue to add the potatoes to the skillet (with butter as needed), in an even layer, until all the potatoes are browned. Stir the onions occasionally to prevent burning. When the last batch of potatoes are done, the onions should be nicely caramelized. Add the potatoes and onions to the big pot. Add the cooked sausage (or bacon) to the pot as well. In the skillet, add another 1 Tbsp of butter and add the cabbage, salt and pepper (to taste). Continue to cook the cabbage, over medium heat until it's done to your liking. When it's done dump the cabbage into the big pot. Stir, check for seasoning and serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nutella Nut Rolls

Today I thought I would give you something new to contemplate. It's not a new recipe - in fact it's not really a recipe at all. Just a new way of looking at an old favorite. I want you to look at a breakfast roll in a new light. Kind of like trying on a new style of jeans that you never thought would look good on you, but somehow they do . . . or like getting your kids dressed in their Sunday best for church - the other members wouldn't guess that during the rest of the week they like to go covered in dirt and mostly naked (especially true of my Angel Girl) . . . or like rearranging your furniture - all of a sudden it looks like a new room, but it's still just your same old furniture looked at in a new light. That is what today is about.  I want you to change the way you think about a cinnamon roll, and make it into a Nutella Nut Roll.
   As I'm sitting here, enjoying my English Muffin smeared with Nutella, I couldn't sit on my hands with this "recipe" any longer. Who knows how many Nutella/chocolate fans out there I would be depriving if I didn't share my moment of genius with them? (I'm by no means saying that I'm a genius, but the Nutella Nut roll will make you feel like one.) I'm here to share with all of you, that Nutella is not just for a last minute smear on toast, waffles or muffins, or even an ingredient in Nutella Crinkle Cookies. No Nutella is more than that. It can elevate your morning breakfast roll into so much more than mediocre.
  That being said. If you don't like Nutella or chocolate, you won't like this recipe and I feel so sad for you.

Here's what you do:
Use whatever cinnamon roll/sticky bun dough recipe you like. Today I used this brioche recipe from Flour's Famous Sticky Buns. It makes a double batch, so the last time I made it I froze half. Now I have the dough ready (after a couple days defrosting in the fridge) without all the work.
   Roll out the dough just as you would for cinnamon rolls/sticky buns. I think my rectangle was around 12x16 inches and about 1/4 inch thick.

Now, instead of sprinkling on the cinnamon and sugar, just spread on the Nutella. I don't know how much I used. Somewhere around a cup, I would guess. Just cover the dough from edge to edge - leaving 1/2 to 1 inch uncovered on the long side furthest from you.

Then come the nuts. Hazelnuts would be ideal, but I didn't have any on hand. You favorite nut would do. I used almonds today. I find it's easiest to chop them in my mini food processor.

When they are chopped to you're liking, stop. You'll need about 1 cup. (At least I used 1 cup. You can use how much or how little you would like.)

Just sprinkle on the chopped nuts evenly over the Nutella.

Now comes the rolling. I find that I can roll a more even log if I start in the middle, and work my way to the sides.

Keep rolling, keeping it as tight as possible, without squeezing out all the Nutella and nuts in the process.

When you get to the end, lay the roll seem side down. (I'm using my dad's old Tupperware pastry mat. I love this thing.)

Using a serrated, long knife, cut through the center of the log - making two equal halves. (If you are cutting on a mat like me, be very careful not to cut the mat too.

Now cut each half in half again.  So you now have 4 equal parts.

Finally, cut each quarter of the log into three equal parts. When you are done you will have 12 equal rolls. (Thank you Alton Brown, you are forever my culinary hero.)

Place the rolls into a greased baking dish. 9x13 would work. I used a 10x15.

Cover them and let them sit until touching and tripled in size.

Then just bake per your dough recipe's instructions. I cooked mine @ 350F for 35 minutes. When they come out they should look something like this. (If you used a 9x13 your rolls will be closer together.)

As for the frosting, you can spread on some more Nutella - but I found myself wanting the traditional twang of the cream cheese frosting. My solution: mix equal parts softened cream cheese and Nutella with a tough of powdered sugar and a splash of milk. The best Nutella Cream Cheese frosting ever. :)

Here's the "recipe"

Nutella Nut Rolls

1 batch of your favorite cinnamon roll/sticky bun dough recipe (I used this one)
about 1 cup chopped nuts (Hazelnuts would be ideal, but use your favorite)

Roll out the dough to a rectangle 12x16 and 1/4 inch thick. Spread Nutella in an even layer, from edge to edge - leaving 1/2 to 1 inch of dough uncovered along the longest side away from you. Sprinkle the chopped nuts evenly over the Nutella. Roll the dough into a log, starting at the longest side facing you. When you reach the far end, without the Nutella, place the log seem side down. Cut the log in half. Cut each half in half again. You now have 4 equal parts. Cut each quarter into 3 equal parts. You will end up with 12 equal rolls. Place the rolls into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Cover an let rise until touching and tripled in size. Bake per the dough's directions. I did 350F for 35 minutes. Frost with more Nutella, or Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting. Enjoy!

Nutella Cream Cheese frosting:
    Equal parts softened cream cheese and Nutella. Add powdered sugar and milk, 1 Tbsp at a time until the desired taste and consistency are achieved. Spread over Nutella Nut Rolls.