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Tuesday, January 15, 2013


The manner of our character changes when one is in hot water.  Will the choices that we make change when we are under a pressing deadline?  Do you become rattled or shaken and come up with excuses for the choices you’ve made, or do you become stronger and grow, cultivating a life grown through hot water situations.  Much like yeast, one of the most complex organisms that I have ever worked with (besides kids…), when put into tepid water yeast makes the most of the situation.  Rising to the occasion, using the right tools at its disposal, to get to the bigger and better things in life. 

This past week I gave up an opportunity to live in a place that I could only dream was possible.  In life, if the water is either too cold or the tools provided are just not right it is impossible to grow.  In order to be the best versions of ourselves we must seek out the hot water opportunities for they are the situations that allow us to become the true versions of our better self. 


Facaccia from Novi Ligure

For the Focaccia-
4 Cups (500g) all-purpose flour
1 Tblsp (12 g) fresh yeast, crumbled
1 C, 1 tblsp, 2 tsp (275 ml) lukewarm water
1 ½ tsp. (5g) malt or ¾ tsp (5g) honey
1 Tblsp, 2 tsp (20 mg) softened lard or vegetable shortening
1 tblsp, 2 tsp (25 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp (10g) salt

For the Genoese Brine-
½ C (100 ml) water
3 Tblsp, 2 tsp (50 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp (14g) coarse salt

To make the Facaccia:  Put the flour onto a clean work surface and make a well in the center.  Dissolve the yeast in the water.  Pour the yeast into the flour a little at a time.  Stir in the lard, oil and lastly, add the salt.  Knead the dough until soft, smooth, and elastic.

Cover the dough with a sheet of lightly oiled plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. 

To make the brine:  Combine the water, olive oil, and coarse salt in a bowl.  Stir to make an emulsion and then let rest. 

Transfer the dough to a baking pan greased with oil, stretching it gently with your fingertips until ½ inch (1cm) thick.  Prod the surface of the dough with your finger, forming small dimples where the seasoning will collect.  Sprinkle the focaccia with the Genose Brine and let it rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. 

Bake in oven at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Brush the surface of the freshly baked focaccia with olive oil.  

Recipe for Asian Lettuce Cups (or wraps) with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling

(Makes 4-6 servings)

1 T peanut oil or vegetable oil (or slightly more, depending on the pan you have)
3 T minced red onion or shallots
2 T minced garlic (I used minced garlic from a jar but fresh garlic would be even better)
2 T grated ginger root
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
4 T soy sauce (I used Tamari)
1 T Chile Garlic Sauce (or slightly more if you like spicy foods)
1 tsp. fish sauce (probably optional, although I like fish sauce!)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (about 1/2 large bunch)
1/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional, especially for braces wearers!)
1 large head or 2 small heads Boston Lettuce or butter lettuce, or substitute 1 head iceberg lettuce

Chop onion and set aside. Peel ginger root, then grate with the large side of a cheese grater, and chop garlic if using fresh garlic. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add onion and saute about 2 minutes, then add garlic and ginger root and saute about one minute more.

Add ground turkey to frying pan (with a bit more oil if needed) and break apart and spread out with turner, then add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and fish sauce. Cook until the turkey is brown and crumbling apart, and the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

While turkey cooks, wash and chop fresh cilantro to make 1 cup. Remove the core end from lettuce, separate leaves, and wash in salad spinner and spin dry (or wash under running water and dry with paper towels.) Chop peanuts and put in small bowl to serve at the table.

When turkey is done, add chopped cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes more. Serve filling and lettuce leaves in separate bowls, with chopped peanuts in another small bowl. Each person takes a lettuce leaf, fills with desired amount of turkey mixture, adds chopped peanuts, and then eats the mixture from the lettuce cup. I fold the lettuce cup over when I eat it, so it's kind of taco-shaped, but some people like to wrap the lettuce clear around the filling.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Leap of Faith

There is a point in everyone’s life where some level of leap is necessary, from walking, our first, small and probably most significant leap, to mulling the decision to move back across the country, for a second time.  This is the place where I currently find myself (more on that later…).   This may or may not be coincidence, coinciding with the New Year.  I like to have faith that God had His hand in some of it.  Consequently, one of my New Year's Resolutions that I have blindly chosen was not to be a fit, healthy superwoman-been there done that…it was to leap into an unknown world of culinary wilderness.  For the next 52 weeks I will cook (or eat) a new dish or cuisine per week and share the experience.  It may be just words and a recipe, words (if the food was that bad…), or just recipe (if there are no words to describe).  I have always enjoyed being in the kitchen, but this leap is about finding foods that I wouldn’t otherwise eat.  As with any leap of faith, we must trust our past and believe in our abilities use the skills we possess to enhance our future.  Though the thought of it is daunting to commit to this leap, the opportunity to become better as a result is even more exciting.  ENJOY!

The anti-climatic recipe this week is Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies…here we go!!!


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies

2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut 
         (Can be left out)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine quinoa (Cooking Quinoa), peanut butter, maple syrup, salt, and oats in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer on low/medium speed, combine ingredients well.
Tip: Allow the quinoa to cool before mixing it in. (I buried the chocolate chips in heated Quinoa to make them melted and soft.)

2.     Stir in coconut and chocolate chips.

3.     Scoop and mold dough into round, tablespoon-sized cookies.

4.     Place cookies on parchment-paper-lined baking sheets and bake for approximately 20 minutes, until bottoms are nicely browned.

5.     Allow to cool completely before storing.

**After tasting these they were surprisingly amazing.  Though I would probably add a ½ tsp of vanilla extract to give it a more rich flavor.  Also instead of a ¾ Cup Oats I would only put in ½ Cup with a tad (getting scientific here…) more coconut.  These have not been tested…just my observations.