I Like Jicama and Ponies

I didn’t have time to cook this weekend; sad life. My amazing loving perfect wonderful boyfriend drove six hours to visit me… He named this post. We had a great time – we went to this place full of trampolines (what?! I know) and to the beach at Santa Cruz (where a seagull pooped on my forehead… yep). Then on Sunday we went to the San Jose Flea Market, which just so happens to have a Farmer’s Market.

My bank doesn’t have any ATMs up here, so I bought a banana at Lucky and got cash back. Honestly, why pay a $3 ATM fee when you can buy a banana for $0.18? Then I got a mango and a jicama at the Farmer’s Market. I really wish I had gotten more than one mango, because it was so good!

I made a fruit salad with the banana, mango, half the jicama, and a squeeze of a lemon, so this isn’t much of a recipe. More just a lesson about fruit.

First: the banana. How do you open your bananas? If your answer is from the side with the stem, you’re wrong. Squeeze the other end and it will open right up. Magic.

Now, the mango. Do you know how to cut a mango? It has a disk-like pit on the inside. Cut off the sides, around the pit. Then cut a grid in each of the halves, without  slicing through the skin. Then you can flip it inside out and cut off the cubes!

At this point, if you’re a good person you’ll scrape off the rest of the mango flesh from the skin and pit with your teeth. Delicious.

Last but not least, the jicama. I’ve never bought a jicama before, so this was new for me too. I read online that you should cut it with a serrated knife, but mine just wasn’t cutting it, so I had to bring out the big guns.

It got stuck.

It took about five minutes just to cut it in half. Once I did that, I cut one of the halves again, then peeled and cubed the quarters. This is a pretty big jicama – about 2 pounds, so I only wanted half for now. The other piece went in a bag in the fridge.

For those of you who haven’t had jicama before, it has a pretty subtle flavor. A little nutty, and mildly sweet. It’s crunchy, almost like water chestnuts.

Fruit salad, yummy yummy.

Healthy Dessert?!!

I got another tattoo yesterday, my third, and I’m really sore. I wanted to bake but I wanted something easy. Easy and healthy. This whole tattoo thing means no working out for at least 2 weeks – I have to avoid sweating as much as possible. According to the extremely reliable Yahoo! Answers, I run the risk of a staph infection – bad news. So I’m trying to keep the fatty foods at a minimum.

This is by far the best brownie I have ever tasted. It’s dense, fudgy, and secretly healthy. I’ve seen many recipes similar to this one and I’ve been absolutely dying to try it out! Seriously, don’t be afraid of it. It’s delicious.

The only thing I’d do differently is put the chocolate chips on top, rather than mixing them into the batter. The walnuts were fine, but the chocolate chips all sunk to the bottom and were lost when I took the brownies out of the pan!

Black Bean Brownies
(Original can be found here)

Ingredients:
1 can black beans
3 eggs
3 tbsp vegetable oil (I used grape seed)
1/4 C cocoa powder
2/3 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaping Tbsp instant coffee
1/3 C chocolate chips
1/3 C chopped walnuts (it actually could’ve used more, maybe 1/2 C)

Special Tools:
Blender or food processor

Instructions:
1.
 Preheat your oven to 350 F.
2.
Rinse and drain your black beans.
3. Put all ingredients except walnuts and chocolate chips into the blender. Blend until smooth.

4. Mix in the walnuts and chocolate chips.
5. Pour into an 8×8 baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.

Hostess with the Mostest

Double recipe post!! So last Saturday, I decided to invite some other interns over for dinner since my roommate was out of town and I was bored. Surprise, surprise, it ended up just me and the boys. Occupational hazard, I guess.

Anyway, my roommate’s fish was sick, and she said that if I put a couple of peas in the tank they would get better. I have NEVER heard of this before. Have any of you? It seemed so silly, but it works – her fish is swimming fine now! I healed the fish with two peas and had a huge bag left over. That was the motivation behind this recipe.

Spinach and Pea Pesto
Vegan. (adapted from Sunny Vegan)

Ingredients:
1 C peas (thawed if frozen – I microwaved mine)
1 C spinach
1/2 C chopped walnuts (raw)
1/4 C fresh basil
1/3 C olive oil
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Special Tools:
Food processor (or a good blender)

 Instructions:
1.
 Pulse walnuts in food processor until they form a fine meal.
2. Slowly add in the peas and spinach, pouring in olive oil as needed so it will process. I ended up using a bit more than 1/3 C because my blender was being mean, but the end product was slightly more oily than I wanted. I was just impatient.
3. Add basil, lemon, and garlic.

4. Mix with 1lb of your favorite pasta and serve.

So then, for dessert, I really wanted to make ice cream. I felt guilty making ice cream after a vegan entree, but I really wanted it. That makes it okay, right?

The only good fruit on sale at the market was strawberries, but I’ve already done strawberry ice cream, and I wanted to experiment! I remembered I had about a third of a bag of frozen blueberries laying around, so I thought, why not? Let me just tell you, it turned out great. If I didn’t have company, I probably would have pigged out way more than I did on this stuff.

Blueberry Ice Cream
(adapted from Cuisinart)

Ingredients:
~1 1/2 C frozen blueberries
3/4 C low fat milk
1 1/2 C heavy cream
2/3 C sugar
Pinch salt
1 1/2 – 2 tsp almond extract (or vanilla if you don’t have almond, but in my opinion the almond is what really made this amazing)

Special Tools:
Ice cream maker

Instructions:
1.
 In a small saucepan, bring blueberries to a boil over medium heat.

 2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together milk, sugar, salt, and almond extract until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Once the blueberries are boiling, squish any berries that havent popped yet. If you really care, you can puree the whole thing and remove skin/seeds using a mesh sieve. I didn’t care and it came out fine. Up to you.
4. Mix the blueberry mush into the milk.
5. Whisk in the heavy cream.

Look at that amazing color.

6.  Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Normally I skip this step out of laziness, but you do NOT want to do that with this since the blueberries were just on the stove!
7. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to its directions.
8. Serve immediately, or transfer to a container and save it in the freezer for later.

Oh, and PS: I ordered a Canon Rebel T3. You know what that means? No more blurry pictures!! I should get it in a week and a half or so.

Fresh Fruit Tart

This Fourth of July was the big unveiling of my boyfriend’s brand new backyard. It’s beautiful – a huge pool and jacuzzi, a seating area by the barbecue, a fire pit, and a gorgeous view. It looks like something out of HGTV. Anyway, I offered to make a dessert, and, always adventurous, I decided to take on a tart.

This tart was all drama. Well, not the tart, but the custard filling. The first recipe I tried was miserable – super chunky, and after I pushed it through a mesh sieve it was fine but there was hardly any of it! The second recipe was great, no chunks and more than enough. It was delicious but a little soupy, and the tart fell apart a bit when it was cut. Oh well, it tasted great. It also melted a little (I blame the heat) but it was fine after an hour in the freezer.

Another thing – I actually doubled the recipe for the crust because my pan is pretty huge compared to a normal tart pan. I made four mini tarts with the leftover dough.

Ingredients:

For the crust (original here):
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 C unsalted butter
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten

For the custard (original here):
 2 C milk
1/4 + 1/3 C granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 C cornstarch
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:
~1/3 C strawberry jelly – optional
~1/3 C Lemon curd (I used Trader Joe’s) – optional
2-3 C fresh fruit (I used strawberries and blueberries for Independence Day)

Special Tools:
Tart pan with a removable bottom

I didn’t manage to get a picture of the ingredients on this one, sorry guys.

Instructions:

For the crust:
1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
2. Cut the butter into small cubes and mix in.

3. Slowly pour in the beaten egg while mixing, and continue to mix until a dough forms.

4. Roll out dough to desired thickness and press into tart pan. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F while dough chills.

5. Cover crust with foil and weigh down with pie weights, dry beans, uncooked rice, or raw nuts. (I used little glass marbles, but I’d like to try nuts – afterward they’ll be deliciously roasted!) Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, remove foil/weights, and bake for another 5 minutes.

For the custard (This is best done with a partner since there are multiple things happening at once, which is why I took so few pictures):
1. In a saucepan, boil milk and 1/4 C sugar over medium heat.
2. Meanwhile, sift together cornstarch and remaining sugar.
3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks. Mix in the cornstarch mixture. Continue stirring until the milk boils.

4. Once the milk boils, remove from heat. Slowly pour the liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly (this will prevent the egg from cooking).
5. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once boiling, remove from heat and continue to stir as the custard thickens.
6. Add the vanilla and butter.
7. If there are any little chunks of cooked egg in your custard, push it through a cheesecloth or mesh sieve.
8. Put the custard into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, putting the wrap directly onto the custard. This will prevent a film from forming on top. Put it into the fridge to chill for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

For the assembly (do this the same day you’ll be eating!):
1.
 If using, get out your jelly and lemon curd. Mine were both room temperature, but it might have been better if the lemon curd had been refrigerated.

2. Remove the crust from the pan.
3.
 Melt the jelly and a little bit of water in the microwave at 10 second intervals until liquid. Let cool for a few minutes, and, using a brush, coat the inside of the crust with the glaze. This will add a little bit of extra flavor and help prevent the crust from soaking up the custard and becoming soggy.

4. Chop your fruit as desired. I cut my strawberries into thin slices, but you could also just cut them in half.

5. Fill the crust almost completely with custard.

6. If using, spread a thin layer of lemon curd on top of the custard. Try not to let them mix, but it will be covered up with fruit and taste the same either way.

7. Arrange your fruit on top of the custard/curd, trying to cover up as much filling as possible. Brush a thin layer of the melted jelly on top to make it shiny.
8. Keep refrigerated until it’s time to eat! If it melts a little (like mine did, whoops) pop it in the freezer for an hour or so.