Friday, September 28, 2012

All in One Breakfast Smoothie: Oatmeal, Banana, Yogurt, with a touch of Cinnamon and Honey

oatmeal banana yogurt shake with honey and cinnamon
A complete breakfast in a shake, I don't know why this has so much appeal for me, I knew from the very start I wanted to make a smoothie with oatmeal, not really for the health benefits, but just to see what it would taste like in a shake, I had a feeling it would be great,

It was so different than any other shake I had had before, the flavor was sort of a tangy oatmeal cookie. It had some texture, but no big lumps, so it was still rather pleasant.

I toasted the oatmeal, it helps it develop a better flavor, it becomes sort of nutty, normally when making oatmeal I toast in the pot (before adding the water), but in this case the toaster oven seemed a better and easier to clean option.

At first I was going to pair it with milk, but then realized yogurt was a better fit, first off it adds a layer of creaminess, you get a thicker and is good for you, as long as you look for live yogurt with probiotics. Probiotics help with digestion and your immune system, My mother and sister (who don't love yogurt quite like I do, it's my desert island food) have been taking probiotics in pill form for years.

I also included half a banana, if you like your smoothies on the thick side, try using a frozen banana.

After the initial taste test, I added a little honey, the banana wasn't doing enough for sweetness. I also had the last of the summer fruit out, so added half a nectarine, but any soft fruit should work well here.

The sweetness was improved, but it still needed a little something, so I added just a little cinnamon, and a little ice, and it was perfect.

I would also like to try a little peanut butter in this one day. (or even a little shredded coconut.)
oatmeal banana yogurt smoothis with honey and cinnamon

Breakfast smoothie
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup yogurt
1/2 banana
1-2 tsp honey
1/2 nectarine
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3-4 cubes ice

Toast oatmeal in a toaster oven or in a pan on high heat, til you have a nice color, add to the blender, add the rest of ingredients and blend on slow speed then faster till well mixed.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cast Iron Apple Pie, Oh my

I miss apples, I mean summer fruit is great, I love peaches, and not finding any at the market this week was very disappointing, (I would like to make one more peach cobbler this year, especially since the last one has horrible nighttime photos) But apples, all red and pretty and there are so many great apple desserts, so much more than with other fruits.

There had been talk of a picnic, and while I never make pies for picnics (for one really persuasive reason) I just wanted to more than I had control over, so pie it was. 

There are two things about pie that bug me and they both concern the crust. First I don't make it, it's annoying, gets a huge machine dirty and then expects you to wash it, like you have nothing better to do with your time, plus it sticks and wants a roller and a board, and always has a better texture when you buy it, it's like all the cards are stack against it, I don't do pie crust I buy them, quite happily from the store. The long rolled up ones, nut the in a aluminum pan kind. In fact I will make my own pumpkin puree, but not the crust. 

The other thing that bothers me is the bottom crust never cooks, and apple pie is a double crust, there's blind bake option here, you have to use raw dough, the solution? Cast iron. A pie pan so hot, nothing would dare not cook in it. Since I switched, I've even gotten color on the bottom. That's unheard of. But it happens, and there is nothing like an apple pis where the crust is a perfect supporting character and not a disruption.

As to the actual cast iron pan, I love how this particular pan is orange, and therefore somehow more presentable that the black kind. I got this one when my grandmother moved a few years ago, but I took a quick look around and there are a couple options out there, the Le Creuset and the slightly larger and more affordable Rachael Ray pan, If you don't own a cast iron skillet I highly recommend having one, nothing browns like cast iron, and as long as you keep it well-oiled it will last pretty much forever. 

So to start defrost pie crust.

Cast iron pans are large, mine is 10 inches, which means 6 apples, which seem like a lot, but really isn't.

Peel six beauties, these are galas, I am aware that everyone uses Granny Smiths, but i happen to like the red apple take on pie, it's a little more mushy and you need less sugar, but I just like doing it that way. 

Slice the apples are thin as you like, I like them a little larger, but really thin is also great, it's like there's more caramel than stewed fruit. 

Add sugar, flour and cinnamon. You can also use nutmeg, (I can't, can't stand it.) lemon, juice, soaked raisins, or even some chopped pecans. 

Let it sit and hang out till the flour has dissolved. 

Place one crust in the pan. Top with apples, and then top with small spats of butter all around on top of the apples.

To connect the two layers you really have to have nothing on the edge hanging off like with a traditional crust, it will burn, badly. so tuck it all in, placing the top layer on top of the bottom one and pushing them together as much as you can, any decorations you want to do, you can also long as it's within the rim of the pan.

Break an egg and make a wash with a little water (1 tsp) Spread evenly on top of the pie.

Bake at 425 for around 50 minutes, Place your lightest in color and weight half sheet on the rack below your pie.

Check after half an hour and make sure the browning is going well, you may need to check again in ten minutes if it's on the brown side top with some foil.

Serve with ice cream. 

10 in Apple PIe

2 pie crusts
6 large apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
1 egg for wash
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)

Ice cream for serving

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Food in Greece 2012

Photos from Greece weren't great, especially the food photos, but I'm working with what I got. 

Souvlaki, a rather terrible photo of it, basically grilled chicken, usually served with a yogurt-based sauce.
This was a restaurant that specialized in grilled food. here's a grilled veg dish, and an unusual starter for Greece, a slightly spicy tomato sauce. Greeks don't really eat spicy.
One of my favorite dishes in Greece is actually the pasta, this is risotto, the Greeks actually make terrible pasta according to Italian standards, always overcooked and over sauced, but it's sort like every pasta dish has been inspired by great mac and cheese, it's all comfort food, and so good. 
Fast food in Greece, from Goody's, only the foreigners ate anything, the Greeks sat around drinking waters, and watched us eat. Meanwhile, we all, it turns out, like the same sandwich, it's called a premier, it's really good feta, tomato, olives, oregano, and tartar sauce on wheat bread. It's so not food that should come out of a fast food restaurant.
The only reamining photo is the following, a traditional Greek restaurant with some food I had just never seen before, including a stew with I think lamb, potato balls stuffed with cheese, breaded and fried, grilled meats, lots of salads, and even more feta. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Food in Cyprus 2012

I'm back, available for blogging and everything, I promised you the foods of Cyprus and Greece, here's the thing, the food in Greece is going to be very disappointing. but let's start with Cyprus, I've spent literally years there, so I know the food rather well by this point, there's three basic food types, seafood and it's fixin's, lamb and it's fixin's and cheese. Ok so it's basically one cheese, but it's one of the most unique cheeses in the world, and Cyprus' most famous export, so it gets a mention. Let's start with the cheese. Haloomi, I've cooked with on the blog, my grandmother loves cheese, it's included at the end of every meal, and is the star of breakfast.

Here it is, it is folded once and therefore has a natural split, there is the village version, and the supermarket version, and this may sound really odd coming from me, but I prefer the mass market kind, it's a lot less salty, and softer.
The jam is strawberry and homemade, my grandmother made it, and while it photographs great, I prefer the apricot, (homemade by one of her friends) I actually don't like strawberry jam, a sin for many I know.
Did you notice the knife? Does it look kind of familiar? My grandparents spent their entire lives travelling, (six Continents)  and my grandmother loved the airplane silverware. So she took a few, or well....

Ok onto the Cyprus traditional lamb meal, kleftiko, slowly cooked in clay pots, it falls apart, I don't like lamb, but good kleftiko loses all that gamey flavor of the fat and becomes just really good meat. 

The clay pot in the forefront is yogurt, traditionally made in Cyprus with at least some sheep milk, which is the best tasting yogurt, you have to like it sour and creamy, but it is so good, the imported Greek yogurt has nothing on this.
There's slao slow cooked chicken.
Whole potatoes, potatoes in Cyprus are so good I didn't eat them for years after I moved back, so good, in the corner, there's bulgur cooked with tomatoes.
Here's a better shot.
The best food though in Cyprus is fish, I only had it once, once, drove me crazy not going in Greece, next time I'm going to insist on eating daily, cause honestly, so good.

You pick your own fish.
 Then go pick a seat outside, on the beach.
They bring our appetizers

 Which are already so good, this is greek salad, marinated olives. tahini, and tarama (which is made with carp roe)

Then the fish come out.
These are red mallet, they are around 6in long, and are fried, a little too big to eat the bones, (some fish are small enough to) and I take off the head, but on the smaller ones in the tails are crunchy goodness.

Then the main course
Oh and more potatoes, french fries, so good, thick cut,
At the end they bring out some fruit. Figs and cactus fruit.

Sadly no calamari this trip, although that sin is no longer what it once was, it used to be that it was so bad in the US and so good in Cyprus, it was sin not to consume it, but globalization has changed that, Cyprus now sometimes serves frozen calamari, and a few restaurants in the US finally learned how to cook it so it's almost the soft texture you could once only find around the Mediterranean.