Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to conquer the world by making your own mayonnaise!

We all have days like this. Gray. Kind of boring. Lots to get done, nothing you feel like doing. Laundry? Nope. Vacuuming? Meh. You know you need to snap out of it, you just don't know how.

Today is one of those days, but I think I might have a solution.

Edible victory, that's what I'm looking for! If you're having a gray day too, nothing will make you feel like a culinary genius more than making your own mayonnaise. And it's so easy! And it's so tasty! And now you don't have to go to the store this afternoon!

No matter what your day is like, a delicious sandwich, spread with this fantastic flavorful mayo can't help to brighten it up - and maybe it'll inspire me to do my laundry after all.

Here's hoping anyway.

This recipe came to me from my mother, who is a fantastic cook. She made this mayo throughout my childhood, and it's because of her recipe that tomato sandwiches are one of my all-time favorite foods.

Mom's Mayonnaise:

2 eggs at room temperature*
1 t. salt
2 T. vinegar or lemon juice, divided (I use red wine vinegar)
1-2 t. dry mustard
1 c. canola or vegetable oil
1 c. olive oil

Pulse eggs, salt, mustard and 1 T. vinegar in a food processor or blender until just combined. Turn on the blender and slowly pour in 1 cup oil. If you pour it all at once, the mayonnaise won't thicken and you'll be left with rich rich rich salad dressing. As you pour, the stream of oil should be about as wide as a strand of spaghetti.

Stop the blender and add 1 T. of vinegar. Start again, and slowly pour in the second cup of oil. About half-way through your second cup, the mayo will start making flub-flub noises as it starts to thicken. It is a beautiful thing.

It's ready! Scoop the mayo into an air-tight container or jar and keep it in the fridge. In my experience, this home-made version keeps as long as store-bought mayo. Do be careful not to leave it on the counter out of the fridge too long, since it is made with raw eggs and doesn't contain any preservatives.

*The eggs should be at room temperature in order for the mayo to thicken properly. Just set a couple on your counter for half an hour or so before making the mayonnaise. If you're in a hurry, take your eggs out of the fridge and put them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to take the chill off. As always when cooking with raw eggs, don't be feeding them to people with compromised immune systems.

Now that you've made your own mayonnaise (feels awesome, am I right?) you should try this sandwich. So good!

Katie's Tomato Chicken Parmesan Sammich

2 slices of bread
mayonnaise (That's right baby. You made that.)
sliced tomato
cold grilled chicken, if you've got it on hand
parmesan cheese
spinach, lettuce or whatever green you like on sandwiches
fresh ground pepper

Spread a little mayo on the bread and add a generous layer of tomato slices. Add some chicken if you have it, along with some fresh pepper and salt if you like. Grate parmesan over all, top with greens and of course, your second piece of bread. Rocket science, I know. And it tastes amazing.

Thanks, Mom!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Caramel Corn with Agave Nectar and So Much More

There is no such thing as a guilt-free food. Do not believe any recipe advertising itself as such.When I made this caramel corn, I was looking for a good snack food that I wouldn't feel bad about eating, something with a little protein, and not too much butter. But I realize now that it can never be considered "guilt-free" - I liked it so much that I've eaten half of the batch I made, all alone by myself. Portion size! What? So if you want to make this, don't just do it because it is indeed healthy. Do it because it tastes SO GOOD!

There are lots of things you could do with this caramel corn to make it your own. If you don't have agave nectar, you can use corn syrup. I like using agave nectar, a honey-like syrup that is made from cacti, because it's good for you, not very processed, and although it has a lower glycemic index, it's sweeter than sugar so you don't have to use as much. In fact, next time I make this recipe, I think I'll use 3/4 c. agave and leave out the regular sugar altogether. You can add in any nuts you want - I used almonds and hazelnuts - or try pepitas or sunflower seeds. Unsweetened shredded coconut would mix well too. Trust me on the ground flax though, and don't leave it out - it adds a nice nuttiness and richness as well as good fiber and healthy fats. Yaay! Healthy fats! Come and get it!

Carmel Corn With Agave

2/3 c. un-popped popcorn, divided
1/3-1/2 c. ground flax
1 - 2 c. nuts, chopped or whole
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. agave
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. baking soda

Pre-heat your oven to 250 degree.

Pop the popcorn in two batches, and transfer it to a large greased baking dish - maybe a roasting pan - or separate into two large bowls. Don't crowd the popcorn, or it'll be hard to stir in all the caramel evenly.

Melt the butter and stir in the agave nectar, sugar and a pinch of salt. Bring this mix to a boil, making sure the sugar is melted in, and then remove from heat.

Stir the vanilla into the butter and sugar, then the baking soda. The caramel will froth and bubble up, so make sure you use a tall pan to keep it all contained. Nothing ruins caramel corn night like a stove-top covered in the sad, syrupy remains of your delicious snack!

Pour the caramel over the prepared popcorn, and stir, attempting to even coverage on all corn. Toss in the nuts and flax and continue to stir stir stir until you are happy with the effect you have achieved. Taste a piece - if it needs more salt, sprinkle some in, and stir again.

If your popcorn is in bowls, transfer it to greased cookie sheets. Slide the pan into your oven, and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.

Forget about all the guilt/health stuff. Enjoy!