The Sensitive Kitchen

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Now that she is in middle school, and has to leave the house at 6:55 AM (!) to get to school on time, my older daughter drinks a smoothie for breakfast every morning. She says it makes "dark o'clock" much more pleasant.

1/4 c canned pumpkin
1/4 c rolled oats
1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
1 dash ground cinnamon
1 dash ground ginger
1 smidgen ground cloves
1 smidgen ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c milk
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 banana, peeled, cut into chunks and frozen

The night before, put all ingredients except banana in blender jar. Cover and refrigerate. The oats will soften, making the smoothie thicker (and simplifying your morning).

When ready to drink, add frozen banana. Puree. Serves 1 hungry 11-year-old.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Warning: the dough needs to be made the day before. Otherwise they just don't taste the same. But that's OK, because it's a good thing to keep around. (You know, for emergencies.) The process described here for browning the butter is the same process I use to make ghee. If you'd rather have ghee, strain and discard solids. For this purpose, though, they add flavor.

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 c Sucanat
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 c unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c bittersweet chocolate chips
coarse sea salt, to sprinkle on top (optional)

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Melt 1 stick butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally. Butter will foam and make popping noises. Once crackling stops, pay close attention. When brown bits have formed in bottom of pan and butter is fragrant, remove butter from heat. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes.

Beat remaining stick butter with brown sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is lightened and very smooth. Add vanilla. Pour cooled brown butter into bowl. Add granulated sugar. Beat 2 minutes, until smooth, fluffy and lightened in color. Add eggs; beat another minute.

Add flour, salt, and baking soda, beating on low speed just to mix. Fold in chocolate chips. Scoop dough into a container; refrigerate at least overnight. Yes, really! Letting the dough rest overnight improves flavor and texture. Dough can also be scooped into tablespoon-sized balls once cold, then frozen. (Add 2 minutes to baking time if doing this.)

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350. Scoop dough by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle balls with sea salt to taste. Bake 9 minutes or until lightly browned. (Less is better.) Let cookies rest on baking sheet for 3 minutes before moving them. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

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Friday, January 09, 2015

Fresh Lemon Bars

I make these every year, when our neighborhood trees are bursting with fresh lemons. They are just not the same with store-bought lemons; the fresh flavor from the unwaxed, tree-ripened fruit makes all the difference. 

1 c butter, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
3 homegrown lemons
4 eggs
2 c sugar
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together butter and powdered sugar. Add vanilla, then flour. Press into bottom of a buttered 9"x13" pan. Bake 18 minutes or until just browned.

While shortbread base bakes, make lemon filling. Zest the lemons, then juice them. Measure 1/2 c juice (reserve remainder, if any, for another use); beat together with eggs, sugar and lemon zest. Pour atop baked shortbread. Return pan to oven and bake 16 minutes or until set but not too brown. Let cool, then dust with powdered sugar and cut into bars. Makes 30 bars.

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

My girls love this dish! I always make a big pot of it so I can send the leftovers for lunch the next day in their thermoses. Use the sharpest cheddar you can find: the soup doesn't use that much of it, so a strong flavor is important. 

1 1/2 lbs broccoli1 Tbsp ghee or butter
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 c diced yellow onion 
3/4 c diced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 c broth1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1/3 to 1/2 c heavy cream, to taste
6 ozs extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Separate stems and florets of broccoli. Coarsely chop stems. Set aside 2 cups of "pretty" florets; coarsely chop the remainder, keeping it separate from both stems and "pretty" florets.

Heat ghee and oil in a large pot. Add onion; when it softens, add garlic and celery. Saute a few minutes, until onions are fully cooked and just beginning to brown. Add broccoli stems. 

Cover with broth; stir, scraping to lift browned bits off bottom of pot. Bring to a boil; cook a few minutes, then add coarsely chopped florets. Cook 5-8 minutes. If not all broccoli is submerged in liquid, cover pot. 

When broccoli is tender, remove pot from heat. Use immersion blender to puree contents of pot. 

Place pot back on very low heat; add cream and reserved "pretty" broccoli florets. Cook 3 minutes, until florets are just tender. Add cheese, stirring until melted. Taste and correct seasonings with salt and pepper. Serves 6-8 as a main course. 

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Capellini Pomodoro

Adapted from a recipe by my friend Mark Dix.

12 ozs dry spaghetti
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb sugar plum or cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
big handful of basil leaves
8 oz ciliegine, drained (small fresh mozzarella balls - available at Trader Joe's)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook according to package directions.

While pasta cooks, mince garlic. Cut cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls into quarters; keep in separate bowls. Cut basil in chiffonade; set aside.

Drain pasta, toss with some olive oil to prevent sticking, set aside and cover.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil; when it is hot, add garlic. Stir quickly as it sizzles for only a few seconds; do not let it brown. Immediately add all the tomatoes; sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring, for only a couple minutes, just to warm them and combine flavors but not cook them. Remove from heat.

Serve pasta into bowls. Top with a spoonful of hot tomatoes, cold mozzarella, and basil. Serves 4.

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