Monday, August 29, 2011

Etsy Love - Summer, Preserved

 Organic Tomato Pepper Basil Jam via
If you haven't quite worked your way up to canning, or you had to do it when you were younger and just don't want to do it anymore, or you don't have access to great produce, Etsy can take care of it for you. I've never heard of tomato pepper basil jam, but the photo and Mirasol Farm's description make me want to try it.

Blackberry Jelly via

There are many, many sellers to choose from. I haven't tried any of these personally, but they have beautiful photos and delicious looking products. The color of this blackberry jelly from The Summer Kitchen makes my mouth water.

Georgia White Peach Jam via
Peaches from Georgia? That's like apples from Washington or lobsters from Maine. Seems like DaniJamz has the right idea. 

Strawberry Pineapple Jam via

HopesPantry claims these are a taste of heaven. Can't hurt to try! I imagine that any of these beauties would make a bagel or piece of toast much more exciting.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Tofu - gluten free & vegan

It's been a beautiful week here in the Pacific Northwest. Some have even complained about the heat. I can't bring myself to complain about heat AKA too much sun because of how miserable it was all winter and spring. So I've been doing the merry dance that is opening and closing windows when it's cooler and warmer, keeping the blinds closed, and drinking lots of iced tea.

It's only been in the low 80s, so it's definitely not too hot to cook, and having sunshine certainly makes it waaaaaay easier to photograph. I know it's miserable other places, so all you people, use your imagination, and consider coming for a visit.

Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Tofu

Start the noodles:
soak 8-12 oz rice noodles in hot water for 15 minutes or so

Tofu & Peanut sauce:
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
hot red pepper flakes, to taste
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice*
3 Tbsp peanut oil, or a neutral oil like grapeseed or corn
1 C almond milk, coconut milk, stock, or water
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce, or more to taste
1/2 C peanut butter
1/4 C chopped peanuts (optional)

Fry the tofu in about 2 Tbsp of peanut oil in a large frying pan.  While the tofu is frying, put 1 Tbsp oil in another medium saucepan over medium hot. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic, and 5 Spice and cook for a minute or two.

Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 10-15 minutes. Taste the sauce. sprinkle some salt to taste and add more soy sauce if it's too sweet.

Put it all together:
Turn the heat down to low on the sauce and add the tofu. Drain the noodles and saute them briefly in the tofu's frying pan.

Tongs work really well to serve the noodles. Spoon sauce on top.

*I got this in the bulk section of a natural grocery store in Southern CA, and I have no idea what's in it. Turmeric is a good alternative.

You can use chunky peanut butter instead of creamy if you'd like, or, to make the sauce less peanuty, use either peanut butter OR peanuts.

The key to frying tofu is to get all the water out of it that you can. Usually I drain it really well and then wrap it in a clean towel and press down. Then rearrange the towel so dry parts are touching the tofu, and press down from the opposite side. voila.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A trip to the Ballard Farmers' Market

This weekend I did not buy 20 lbs of peaches. In fact, I was on the east coast for a shower an aunt threw for me. It was a short trip, but it was lovely to see family and friends and feel "bridal." Yes, I know it's out of order. Are you really surprised?

Anyway, had I been here, Mr. Official Taster and I might very well have once again headed to the Ballard Farmers' Market. I took these photos a couple weeks ago, so I thought I'd share them with you. Especially all you farmers'-market-deprived folks.

I apologize for the fuzziness of this one, but I really wanted to show you these Dragon Tongue beans. They're purple! and stripey/polka-doty! They taste just like regular green beans, but they add some pizzaz to your plate. fun times.

oh, the flowers. They're lovely.

The abundance of beautiful fruits and vegetables are almost enough to make up for the dreary winters. Almost. There's also plenty of other wares - meats, eggs, cheeses, milk, wine, cider, bread, foraged fungi, soaps, fresh (like fried in front of you) mini donuts (which were amazing), and many items I can't remember. 

There was even live musical accompaniment. In fact, two street bands to entertain happy shoppers. We sat on the sun-dappled curb and listened to this one while eating juicy raspberries and fresh cinnamon-sugar mini donuts. good times.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Peach Pie with Almond Crumble - gluten free & vegan

Peach week continues! and finishes. It's been real. It's been tasty. It's been real tasty.

A couple weeks ago, when Mr. Official Taster and I went to the farmers' market, one of the things we brought home was 20 lbs. of peaches. I was excited! I love peaches, it was a great price, and I was envisioning all sorts of delicious treats.

Then OT told me he didn't like peaches. Wha? Now he tells me? sigh.

So peach week(s) was born. Jam and streusel and cake, oh my. oh, and pie. Which I made just in time for a certain anniversary.  Lucky couple :)

Peach Pie with Almond Crumble - gluten free & vegan

About 2 lbs of peaches, peeled and sliced (I used 9, but it could be less depending on size)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp instant tapioca (or 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch)
1 premade piecrust

Crumble Top:
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
2/3 C whole oats, ground to a flour in a food processor
1/2 C flour or gluten free flour
1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C whole almonds
6 Tbsp vegan butter

Make the filling:
In a small bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, toss the peaches and lemon juice. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and toss to coat. Add the filling to the crust.

Make the crumble:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a small bowl. Grind the oats to a flour in a food processor. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and pulse until the almonds are coarsely chopped. Add the flour mix to the butter and stir together.

Add the filling to the premade crust. Cover the top with crumble.

Bake the pie at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 350 and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is a lovely golden brown. Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peach Cake - vegan

I heart peaches.

Today's recipe was adapted from Gourmet magazine, and it's a winner (as usual). It is an unusual way of baking a cake, and the reviews on Epicurious reflect that. A common question asks if it's really a cake, or is it a pie. Maybe a tart?

It does take just about forever to bake, so it definitely requires some planning. I made this one yesterday and first tasted it for breakfast today (what? it's got fruit). The cake itself isn't very sweet, which is perfect, really, because the peaches make up for it.

Peach Cake 
adapted from Gourmet via

For the pastry:
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp Ener-g egg replacer (equivalent of 1 egg)
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick vegan butter, cubed
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla

For the filling:
1/2 C sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp quick-cooking tapioca
2 lb ripe peaches (I used about 7), thinly sliced
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Make the pastry:
In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, egg replacer, and baking powder to combine. Add the butter, and pulse just until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. There should still be lumps. Add the water and vanilla and pulse again, this time until the dough starts to come together.

Turn the dough into your greased pie plate or 9-in springform cake pan. Use your fingers to evenly spread the dough along the bottom and sides of your pan. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes while you make the filling.

Make the filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the sugar, flour, and tapioca in a large bowl. Add peaches and lemon juice and gently toss to coat.

Spoon the filling into the pastry, loosely cover with foil, and bake for 90 minutes (yes, really). Remove the foil and bake for another 15-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. It'll firm up while cooling, so don't worry if it's still a bit liquidy)

Gourmet's original recipe instructed, "Grind 2 tablespoons sugar with flour and tapioca in grinder until tapioca is powdery, then transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining 6 tablespoons sugar." That's probably not a bad idea, but I don't have a coffee or spice grinder. If you plan ahead, you might be able to use the food processor for that step before you make the pastry in it. Or you could make the pastry, wash and dry the food processor, and then try, but, really, do you want to? It worked just fine without grinding the tapioca, but it definitely would look prettier (no tapioca lumps) if I had.

Do a better job of greasing your pan than I did. The picture above is post some scraping/eating of bits left behind.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Peach Plum Streusel - gluten free & vegan

Last week and this, I have a plethora of peaches (like that? I do.) With the unbruised, not all the way ripe, and otherwise perfect fruit, I made some Peach Melba Jam that, I think, will be appreciated come winter. This week seems to be about baking them. (don't worry, I'm also just eating them) Baking them is a great way of a) using up a bunch before they go bad b) making them delicious in a different way than fresh and c) gifting.

I have some ideas to occupy myself for the rest of the week, but I'll keep those to myself in case I jinx it.

Fruit Filling
Wash, peel, and cut up your fruit. I used 3 plums and about 5 peaches, and I didn't actually peel the plums.  I say "about 5" because I used some very ripe peaches and, sadly, some parts had to be discarded. I cut my fruit into slices/small chunks.

Streusel Topping
1 stick vegan butter, room temperature
1 C brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 C flour, whole wheat flour, or gluten free flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the butter and brown sugar. Stir or pulse in the remaining ingredients until combined and pretty crumbly. Remember, this is a streusel topping, so it won't hold together like dough.

Fill a glass dish or pie plate of your choosing with your cut up fruit. Sprinkle the streusel over the fruit. Bake the streusel for about 40 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Rinse and repeat.

If you have leftover topping (I did), put it in a freezer bag or airtight container until you want to use it. When that time comes, you don't need to worry about defrosting it. Just sprinkle over your fruit and bake.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

DIY Paint Chip Canning Labels

I mentioned the other day that I was canning this week. I did! It was fun! For inquiring minds, I made both Raspberry jam and Peach Melba jam, which is a pretty (and hopefully delicious) combination of peaches and raspberries. I've been using Well Preserved, which I like because it deals in small quantities, unlike the classic Ball book, which I also have.

These cute 4oz jars of raspberry jam are earmarked as gifts, so I wanted to dress them up a little. Apparently, these crafts got stuck in the back of my brain, so I took a trip and found samples that were both good colors and good names. The good names part was important for the fun part.

A shot glass is the perfect sized circle to trace, so traced circles onto the chips so that the names would be included, cut them out, and glued them to the lids. If I was fancy, I would have something like this to speed up the process. But cutting out circles while watching a movie was a pretty good time. 

Anyway, I'm pleased with how they turned out, and I think they look pretty all together.

How do you like to dress up gifts?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Free Printable - Canning Labels round up

via Sweet Preservation
I spent a couple fruitful (pun intended) hours this afternoon making some raspberry jam. Official Taster (now, Mr. Official Taster!) and I went to the Ballard Farmers' Market this weekend, and came home with a half flat of fresh, organic raspberries. Among other things. lots and lots of other things.

via How About Orange
Anyway, I thought other people might be getting in the canning swing of things about this time of summer, so I found a few places where you can download some free labels if you want to fancify your jars for gift giving or just for fun. Also see how I made my own!
via Wendolonia
Both the Sweet Preservation link and Wendolonia link have multiple designs available. If you simply do a search for "free printable canning label," lots and lots of options will appear at your fingertips.

What are you preserving this summer?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rainbow Salad - vegan & gluten free

Once in a (very great) while, it truly feels like summer here in the Pacific Northwest. On those days, I move away from pastas and risottos and towards light, fresh, and cool summer suppers. A big salad fits that description perfectly, but to elevate plain old salad, I decided to go for a rainbow (sensing a theme?). Plus, it's said that eating by color is a healthy way to go.

That, and rainbows make everything more fun.

Rainbow Salad
spinach, or other salad greens
pomegranate seeds
dried cranberries
tomatoes, chopped
carrots, chopped
orange or yellow pepper, chopped
cored avocado, chopped
extra firm tofu, drained and fried

Start with a bed of spinach and then simply arrange your fruits and veggies in rainbow order and top with your favorite dressing.

There's lots and lots of possible variations here...beans come in lots of colors, as do peppers and tomatoes. If you like blueberries (I don't) then you can work in blue, and beets, eggplant, cabbage, or onions can be your purple. Hard boiled eggs can also fill the yellow slot, and nuts would be a nice addition as well.
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