Blueberry Syrup

I recently came into an snow-cone machine, or more appropriately, an ice shaver.  Visions of icy treats immediately ran through my brain.  The weather in NYC has been unbearably muggy and our 6th floor apartment constantly feels like an oven.  The first ices simply had some lemon juice and simple syrup poured over them – divine.  We then decided to make a simple syrup with blueberries…WOW!  Very easy, very delicious.  Can be used with some seltzer for a fruit soda (see above pic), mixed in a cocktail or poured over shaved ice.

Blueberry Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup (or more) of blueberries

To Do:

  1. Put everything in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Let simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes.
  3. Cool and strain using a fine mesh strainer.  Save sugared fruit.  Put on icecream, yogurt, biscuits or eat with a spoon.
  4. Pour syrup in a jar and store in the fridge.  Use for syrup-y goodness.

A Little Light Gardening

Last weekend, we decided to get a few plants to munch on – namely a variety of lettuces and arugula and one little strawberry plant.  Thanks for all of the feedback on our gardening post and we’ll keep you all posted on how it goes!

Basil Seedlings

Arugula

Romain, mesculin mix, green leaf and a strawberry plant


FAST Puff Pastry Almond “Croissants”

My awesome friend Monica is in town and I decided to make a little treat this morning before heading off to work with the aforementioned puff pastry.  I tried to thaw a sheet in the fridge overnight, but it wasn’t quite thawed out when I woke up – oh well.

Cut a sheet into 4 squares and then spooned some almond filling (food processed almond slivers, dash of cinnamon, about a tablespoon of vanilla sugar and butter each) on top and rolled.  Brushed the tops with a beaten egg and baked at 350F for about 20 minutes.  They didn’t look super pretty, but smelled good and were delicious warm out of the oven.

I’m sure if it wasn’t first thing in the morning and if the puff pastry had thawed properly, I could have made them look better, but who cares?  Monica and I didn’t.


An Answer to a Commenter

In response to Jenny’s query on how we can make our current receipt fulfill our meals for the week, I started to write a response and realized it could be a post.  So here are some (not all) ideas that I quickly thought up for making meals from our receipt with the caveat that we still have some odds and ends in the pantry and fridge to make full meals.

  1. Making a daal with the lentils, served over rice and crispy cooked onions
  2. Black bean soup
  3. Black beans with homemade tortillas, scallions and some salsa (possibly still good) hidden in the fridge
  4. Veggie burgers with a mix of the left-over beans
  5. Vegetable spiral pasta with lemon, olive oil and parsley (the checkout person mixed up cilantro w/parsley – parsely being cheaper by 50 cents, but oh well)
  6. Stir fried tofu and chard w/a grain from the cupboard (Israeli couscous, brown rice or millet)
  7. Shredded Carrot and Currants Salad
  8. Regular salad
  9. Egg and mushroom frittata
  10. Something w/egg and puff pastry (which I don’t know is even good anymore – it’s been in our freezer for possibly over a year)
  11. Muffins w/slivered almonds and whatever else we have in the house
  12. Apple bread or something equally breakfasty
  13. These donuts

Making an English Muffin in a Hotel Room

You can do it too!

I just found this hilarious and fabulous video of British comedian George Egg cooking things in his hotel room.


Corn Tortillas: Never Goin’ Back to Packaged

tortillas-003

Do to the generosity of a co-worker, I came into a tortilla press. This cinched it – I MUST make tortillas. I have a dirty little secret when it comes to things I know that I’ll need, but also know that it is more expensive in the Coop is that I troll supermarket circulars. For the corn tortillas, I knew I needed masa harina and the only version the Coop sells is Bob’s Red Mill (which is great, but I can’t spend $4 on a small bag). So I went online and looked at all of the supermarkets nearby to see if any of them had a sale on masa harina and our Pioneer Supermarket had a huge bag for $2.50! Counting on that on our weekly budget, we were looking to come in at just $30. However, no matter how hard you plan, sometimes people buy up all the masa harina and your stuck with getting a non-sale version. So we’re over budget, by a $1. We managed to also buy more nopales, the masa harina and a can of chipotle peppers. Even so, this bag of masa will last us a long time and make many delicious tortillas.

Back to the real concern – homemade corn tortillas! I used the recipe right off the back of the masa harina package (we used Maseca – their site actually has some amazing looking recipes) and utilized my trusty stand mixer to do the work. As recommended by a number of blogs, I let the dough sit, covered, for about a half an hour. The actual making of the tortillas was a breeze. It helps if you have two people – one to make the tortillas and one to cook them. Phil and I became a well-oiled tortilla making machine at one point. Served warm with a variety of rice, beans, salsa and other toppings, these were amazing and extremely cost effective.

You can make them without a tortilla press (use a heavy cutting board and a flat dish covered with wax paper and then a rolling pin to thin out the dough), but I highly recommend buying one if you see it for cheap – it makes a world of difference.

Corn Tortillas

Ingredients:

2 Cups Maseca Corn Masa mix
1 teaspoon Salt
1 1/8 Cup Water (plus a little more on the side)

To Do:

  1. Mix together all of the ingredients in large bowl using your hands or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Continue kneading until a dough ball forms.  If you need to add more water, do so at a teaspoon full at a time.  You want the dough to easy come together, but not be sticky.
  2. Let sit in a covered bowl for about a half hour or so.
  3. Take a piece of dough and form into a golf ball sized ball (make sure you keep the rest of the dough covered).  Place on tortilla press that has both sides covered in wax paper or a heavy ziplock bag.  Press into a tortilla.
  4. Heat up a skillet and cook tortilla for about 30 seconds on each side over medium heat.
  5. Place in a baking dish covered with tinfoil or a dishcloth and keep covered while you make the rest of the tortillas

This is much easier with two people!  One person presses the tortillas and the other can use 2 skillets and keep those babies moving!


Bittman on Flatbread

Go here to see Mark Bittman’s most recent Minimalist post, on making flatbread. Witness the following reasons to admire Mark Bittman as the chief foodie at the Paper of Record.

1. The ridiculous opening sequence (notice the sponsor text at the end).
2. “I want them both.”
3. Talks with his mouth full.

We are going to attempt this tonight, but maybe with okra in place of cauliflower? Results upcoming.


Dirt Candy

Last night, Phil took me to Dirt Candy for my birthday and it is my new favorite restaurant.  I wish I had the little camera with me because the food was gorgeously presented.  I know this blog is about our frugality, but if you want to treat yourself to some amazing and inventive vegetarian food and live in NY, make a reservation!  You really have to make a reservation, the space is tiny and walk-ins were turned away.  We had jalapeno hush puppies to start with some sweet whipped butter and then split a green salad with grapefruit pops, which were a revelation.  Imagine a huge segment of juicy grapefruit encased in a hard sugar shell.   There is a picture of it here, but it really doesn’t portray the beauty of the pop.  I am seriously wondering how I can recreate this in my kitchen.  My entree was amazing – stone ground grits with pickled shitakes, bits of corn watercress and a tempura poached egg and bits of liquid huitlacoche. How did they do this egg? It was poached perfectly, dipped in tempura batter and fried?! Amazing! Phil had crispy tofu with green ragout – comprised of some lovely spring vegetables. We were too full for dessert, but will head back! Maybe with a camera next time.


A Friday Diversion: “Sweet Dreams”

Thanks to Coldmud via Serious Eats turning me on to this:

A story about a cupcake and a squash…falling in love.