Foodie Friday: Eating in and making our own

This was going to be one single Foodie Friday post, but it started getting long, so today’s a two-for-one day!

Eating In

For this portion of the post, I thought I’d share a few fun things we’ve played with recently.  Before I reveal the identity of this super purple soup, any guesses???


First, pink waffles.  I don’t know where he got the idea, but a couple of weeks ago, G requested pink waffles.  I had some powdered beet on hand, purchased over the summer to help intensify the color of his strawberry birthday cake (I ended up using fresh, pureed beet for the cake, since we had some on hand).  In honor of Valentine’s Day, we whipped up a batch of pink waffles this week.  I used our standard recipe with about a teaspoon (?) of powdered beet.  Similar to our green pancakes, the batter has much more color than the finished product.  The powdered beet was a bit clumpy, even after sifting, but that led to some nice pink flecks inside the cooked waffles.

Okay, are you ready for the soup reveal?  I made the purple sweet potato soup with roasted [purple] sweet potatoes, coconut milk, a bit of water, a bit of salt, and a dash of powdered ginger.  This soup followed a more traditionally colored sweet potato soup I made earlier in the week.  The soup from the orange-fleshed potatoes was a bit sweeter, but both were quite tasty (and Gabriel approved!).

Over the past several months, we’ve had a couple of really delicious quiches, including ones at Ken’s Bakery (in Portland, OR) and, locally, at Sweet Art.  We tried to make our own with middling success, and then I saw this recipe in Feast Magazine.  This comes from none other than Pint Size Bakery (just mentioned in my Eating Out post).  We hadn’t actually tried their quiche, but we knew they made delicious baked goods.  We were excited to try this recipe, and it didn’t disappoint!

My personal pastry chef followed the crust recipe, but used our standard whole wheat pastry flour with good results.  I think I used sauteed leeks and a bit of kale in our first quiche.  After that, Matthew made a couple more crusts, which we froze for later use.  Those crusts later became a caramelized onion, asparagus, and sun-dried tomato quiche and a roasted pepper and sun-dried tomato quiche with smoked Gouda.

Making our own . . .

I’ve been making soy milk with the blender method since the beginning of January (I returned the borrowed soy milk maker just before Christmas).  While it’s not quite Silk, I have a pretty good recipe (it’s technically soy-cashew milk), and I’m enjoying not having the packaging waste that comes with store-bought soy milk.  That said, making the last several batches has felt like a chore.  I used up all of the soy beans that I bought back in November for this purpose (as well as all of the old soy beans that I bought when I’d previously intended to make soy milk), and I’m going to take a bit of a break.  If I decide to go back to making it, I think I’ll invest in a machine.

Speaking of reducing packaging waste, I’ve started making peanut butter.   This activity was spurred by the purchase of thirty pounds of peanuts from a food buying co-op to which we belong.  At less than $4 per pound for organic peanuts (they were on sale), I can now make [organic] peanut butter cheaper than I can buy it, and it doesn’t use a new glass or plastic jar every time.

Sun buttered

Do you like sunflower seed butter but not the  price tag?  Or is it hard to find where you live?  If you have sunflower seeds, oil, and a food processor, you can make your own.

A [16 oz. net weight] jar of conventionally grown (i.e., not organic) sunflower seed butter runs about $5-$6.  If you want organic, add a couple of bucks to that figure.  Then compare that price to buying raw, unsalted organic sunflower seeds for $3.50/lb.

I like to roast my sunflower seeds first, which led to a failed attempt a couple of weeks ago when I, um, OVER-toasted (okay, burned) the sunflower seeds.  I deemed them still edible (by me, because I couldn’t bear to throw away what had been perfectly good food) but NOT suitable for sunflower butter.

The burnt seeds took the wind out of my sails, and it took me awhile to get back to this.

Start with one pound (a generous two cups) of raw, unsalted sunflower seeds.

Toasting is optional, but I like the flavor better.  You can use a dry pan on the stove top, the microwave method, or an oven/toaster oven.  Whatever the method, toast them LIGHTLY.  Let cool most of the way before proceeding.

Start blending seeds in food processor.

Keep blending.  It will start to get weird and chunky.  Keep blending.  At some point it will start to look like cookie dough, but not at all like a nice smooth nut butter.  This post has more good pictures.

Gabriel says, “Keep blending.”  Basically, you don’t want to add the extra oil too early, or the sunflower seeds will not release all of their oils, and it won’t come together as well.

Once you have a doughy, thick nut butter consistency, drizzle in some oil while the food processor is running.  I didn’t really measure, but I think I used about two tablespoons.

Nice and smooth.  Add sweetener and a bit of salt to taste.  I added about a tablespoon of honey (yay for someone being old enough to eat things with honey in them now!) and a pinch of salt.

Put the finished product in a jar or other container and enjoy cleaning out the food processor — a tasty job.  Refrigerate the sunbutter and use as you would any nut butter — sandwiches, stirred into oatmeal, on crackers, in cookies . . . .

With organic peanuts and peanut butter selling for $6/lb, homemade sunbutter may be making more frequent appearances in our kitchen.

How to make English muffins

Making English muffins has been on my list of “things to try” for several reasons: 1) English muffins are delicious and versatile, 2) store-bought are kind-of expensive and often have weird ingredients, and 3) they seem like they shouldn’t be that hard to make.

My first attempt came out edible, but disappointing due to the decided lack of rising.  I was too bummed to take photos of version 1.0, but they were flatter than my chest, and that’s saying something.

Matthew made version 2.0, with a few small tweaks to the original recipe I used from the back of  a bag of Arrowhead Mills flour:

The blacked out portions come courtesy of Matthew, who takes issue with any kind of branding.  Obsessive compulsive, much?

We tweaked it by adding a little extra yeast and honey (amounts noted in the photo), as well as adding wheat gluten (this helps the rising in bread recipes with a lot of whole wheat flour).

We also changed the directions a bit.  Combine the yeast and warm water (100-110 degrees F) as indicated, but then add 1 cup of the flour before adding anything else.  This protects the yeast from activating too quickly when the honey is added.  After you mix in the cup of flour, go back to the printed directions.

The directions say to “stir until smooth,” but you’ll actually need to get your hands in there and knead it for a bit.  After we made a nice dough, we covered it and let it rise for a bit in the bowl (maybe 30 minutes — it didn’t really rise much), then proceeded to roll it out.  Roll it to about 1/2 – 3/4 inch thickness.

This is how the muffins should look post-rise.  We let these rise for about an hour-and-a-half.  Then we fired up our electric griddle (set to “medium”).  A cast iron pan on the stove top would also work for these.

The result?  Beautiful, delicious English muffins on the second attempt!  Matthew has the baker’s touch.  Luckily, we doubled the recipe, so we have twenty muffins.

In addition to more traditional preparation methods (butter and a bit of jam or as a base for a fried egg breakfast sandwich), English muffins make great burger buns or bases for sandwiches.  Choose open-faced for the perfect ratio of toppings to breadiness.

Under the broiler with fresh figs and goat cheese

Note on the recipe: I looked on the Arrowhead Mills (big black marker here if you’re Matthew) website, because I really just wanted to post a link to the recipe, but the recipe wasn’t there.  I’m using a photo of the recipe instead of typing it out because, well, I’m  lazy.  If you click the photo, it should be plenty clear and large enough to read without too much trouble, but if that’s not the case, let me know.