Let’s Lunch


A NEW HOUSE!

    HOW EXCITING IS THAT?

      TO BUY A NEW HOUSE!.

Your friends come and celebrate all the work you have to do to get it just right. They bring food. They bring gifts. Appropriate gifts for a new home. But IS there an appropriate gift? Maybe we should ask about TRADITIONAL Housewarming gifts.

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And since Grace over at Happa Mama just remodeled her house and it’s almost like a new one, we are celebrating.
In the US, traditionally we give:

    Salt: Given with the message “That life may always have flavor”, can also represent added luxury or flavor to life
    Wine: Symbolizes the hope “That joy and prosperity may reign forever”…or…”That your family will never be thirsty”…or…”So you will always be of good cheer”
    Bread: So that this house may never know hunger…or…So your cupboards will always be full

I cannot make salt. I don’t know how to make wine – although my Dad made some Elderberry Wine once.
But I can make bread. And since tradition doesn’t say what kind of bread to include who says it has to be a LOAF of bread.

So, how about a nice Flatbread? With Olive Oil. And Rosemary. Like this Pizza Bianca from Jim Lahey.

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This is some kind of good bread. Puffy, crunchy, chewy the way good bread should be. Just out of the oven it was perfect.

Ingredients:

    400 grams (3 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
    1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
    4 grams (1/2 teaspoon) fine sea salt
    4 grams (3/4 teaspoon) sugar
    175 grams (3/4 cup) cool water, plus more if needed
    3 sprigs rosemary leaves
    4 grams (1/2 teaspoon) coarse sea salt

In a medium bowl, mix flour, yeast, fine sea salt, and sugar. {In the book the salt and sugar were left out of the “Mix flour, etc..” so after the fact I googled it and add the salt and sugar late to the mix after I had already mixed in the water. Worked just fine.} Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix for at least 30 seconds, until you have a soft, somewhat sticky, loose dough. If it seems too dry, you can add up to 2 Tbl safely.

Scoop the dough into a 2nd bowl coated with Olive Oil and cover. It should sit for a minimum of 9 hours and up to 12 hours at room temperature (about 72°F), until doubled in size. This is a short rise compared to some of Lahey’s bread – up to 18 hours. {Mine only rose for about 7 hours because I was running out of time. Worked just fine.}

Scrape the dough onto a generously flour dusted work surface. Fold the dough over itself 2 or 3 times until it forms a rather loose ball. Sprinkle it with the coarse sea salt and some Olive Oil. Put the dough in a cozy, draft-free spot and let rise until doubled in volume, 1 to 2 hours.

30 minutes before the end of the second rise, place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F.

Scoop the dough onto a well dusted peel sprinkle with olive oil and spread the dough out making dimples as you spread into a surface about 12″ in diameter. Sprinkle with rosemary leaves.

With quick, jerking motions, slide the dough from the peel onto the baking stone {I recently broke my stone so I used an upside down baking sheet. Worked just fine.} If it’s sticking to the peel, gently lift it around the edges, adding more flour to the peel. Bake about 12 – 15 minutes until nice and bubbly and golden.

Slide the peel under the pizza and transfer the pizza to a rack. Allow to cool for a minute or two, if you CAN, before slicing and serving.

The dough was smooth and silky and very elastic. So easy to work with. AND you don’t knead it!!

This was housewarming twice because the baking bread warmed up the kitchen and the fragrance warmed up the house while it was baking. Recipe is from Lahey’s my bread {page 137} but I found it online HERE and HERE but they are from my pizza and slightly different.

Grace Hwang Lynch (HapaMama) selected our theme this month: HOUSEWARMING? Check out the other goodies at:

BTW #LetsLunch is a twitter based cooking club. Every month a theme is chosen then we get to interpret that theme with FOOD. IT’s an international group of bloggers and awesome cooks with wonderful stories to tell. Search #LetsLunch for more on Twitter.

The weather here in the Deep South has finally turned COLD! Well, cold for Louisiana anyway. Yesterday the highs were in the 30s and Thursday morning it was only 18. That’s pretty chilly for here and pretty early for our cold temps. Cold weather requires comfort food and one of our favorites is a good filling STEW. Lucky for me it is also this month’s Theme for Let’s Lunch.My go-to stew is made with Beef and Venison. My husband hunts so we always have plenty of game in the freezer.

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I’m not going to give you specific amounts of the ingredients. They are always changing when I make it. But basically, they include:

    Beef – any cut will do – in bite sized chunks
    Venison – ditto but you could sub out some pork or just use all beef
    Peeled and chopped potatoes – I usually use russet but sometimes I add in some red
    Peeled and chopped carrots
    Chopped onions
    Chopped celery
    Chopped garlic
    Beef and/or vegetable stock
    Canola oil
    Red wine
    Bay leaves
    Flour
    Salt and Pepper

Heat a large pot and add the oil when hot. Season the meat and shake with seasoned flour. Add to the oil and brown well. Add in the onions, garlic, celery and brown until soft.
Add stock – amount depends on how much stew you are making – throw in the bay leaves/leaf, red wine, and cook meat until almost tender. You may need to add more stock as the meat is cooking because it will thicken as it cooks.
Right before the meat is done add in the carrots and potatoes. Cook until veggies are tender.
Remove the bay and, if necessary, thicken with either a roux or a flour slurry.
Serve over rice.

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Warm and filling. Comfort food.

Why is it when I know I have a month to plan and cook/bake I wait til the last minute to actually do it? Could be because it has been a crazy month. In town. Out town. Even the weather has been crazy. Mid-June and we had Spring. Now it’s HOT! Summer. And of course summer means more time out side {Unless you live in the humid hot deep South} and more picnics and the chance to eat al fresco which happens to be this months LETS LUNCH theme. I didn’t even decide what to do until Thursday afternoon. Sheesh! So if it looks hurried…. But it was fun. And tasty!

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    Pudding and Cookie Jars

I have seen lots of ‘jarred’ desserts around the internet. Some with cake. Some with Cheesecake {YES PLEASE!} Some with fruit. Some ‘trifled’. I thought that would be a perfect easy to carry dish to bring to the Lets Lunch picnic.

In small pint jars layer your cookies, I used mini Oreos and NutterButters, with pudding. Flavor of your choice. I had some vanilla – NOT what I wanted but what I had – thanks to boxes. And I made some tofu Chocolate pudding from Ellie Krieger.

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Using the puddings layer them with cookies, or cookie crumbles in the jars. Top with whipped cream and garnish with cookie bits, mini chocolate chips. It’s all up to your imagination. Go WILD!! Put on the lid. Place in a cooler and everybody gets their own individual dessert. No big bowls. No big spoons. No bowls to mess with. Easy!!

Dark Chocolate Mousse
adapted from Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave

    1 (12.3 ounce) package silken tofu, drained
    3 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 cup water

Puree the silken tofu in a food processor until completely smooth.
Combine the bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder, water, and brandy. Microwave on medium until chocolate starts to melt. Stir. Continue until all the chocolate is melted and ingredients are combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar, a little at a time, until smooth.
Add the chocolate mixture to the tofu in the food processor and puree until well-combined and smooth. You may have to stop it a few times to scrape down the sides.
Pour the mousse into individual serving dishes, cover tightly, and refrigerator for at least one hour, up to three days, to set properly. {I let mine partially set and then spooned into the jars in layers.}

Want to enjoy the picnic? This month’s Lets Lunch is hosted by Annabelle at Glass of Fancy and she will have the complete list in case I miss someone here.

Enjoy the Picnic, Y’all!!

Follow us on Twitter: #LetsLunch

Annabelle’s Butterscotch Brownies
Betty Ann’s Adobong Mani or Peanuts in Garlic
Grace’s review of The Great Outdoors Cookbook
Karen’s Watermelon Mint Cocktails
Linda S.’s Spicy Nectarine and Tomato Salad
Lisa’s Spinach and Three-Cheese Coil Pastries
Anne Marie’s Peachy Picnic Sliders
Linda’s Spicy Nectarine and Tomato Salad
Cheryl’s Perfect Summer Pesto

I like the Let’s Lunch group. An international group of Kitchen Junkies who come up with amazing dishes to fit into the theme of the monthly Lets Lunch. This month we are honoring Cheryl Tan‘s new book Singapore Noir, a short story collection focusing on the darker side of Singapore.

To fit with the theme we could…

    “…be inspired by anything noir, either the color black or anything related to moody and atmospheric noir stories in film or tv!”

I went with BLACK. I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to participate this month since BLACK really isn’t my color but then I found some FORBIDDEN Rice in the pantry and I was all in. Interesting rice. According to legend

    “…Chinese black rice got its name because it was so nutritionally beneficial that only the emperors were allowed to eat it.”

So it was FORBIDDEN to anybody else.

I had never heard of it before so of course when I saw some I had to buy it, even though I had no idea how to cook it or what to do with it. And then Lets Lunch came along……

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How about Black Fried Rice?

    2 cups Black Rice, cooked and cooled
    4 – 6 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    1/4 – 1/2 cup frozen peas
    1 – 2 eggs
    1/2 chopped onion
    3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    2 -inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
    3 whole green onions, thinly sliced on the bias, white and green separated
    1/2 cup chopped sweet peppers {Red, yellow, orange add lots of color to the rice}
    sesame oil to taste

Heat a large heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over high heat until hot, then add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the shrimp and cook until almost opaque. Add the onions to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until onion is soft. Add the garlic, ginger, and green onion whites and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the frozen peas. Cook until just defrosted but still crisp. Transfer contents of the skillet to a large bowl.

Return the pan to the heat and add 1 1/2 more tablespoons of oil and the sesame oil {I used about 3 tsp}. Add the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Scramble eggs until almost set but still moist, then transfer egg to the bowl. Break the eggs up with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the rice to the pan and use a spoon to break up any clumps. Season with salt and pepper and stir-fry the rice to coat evenly with oil. Stop stirring. Cook rice until its gets a little crispy, about 2 minutes. Stir the rice again, breaking up any new clumps. Add the scallion greens. Transfer to the bowl. Mix everything together with the rice, taste, add salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve. {Original recipe}

I have made fried rice lots of times but never with FORBIDDEN RICE. I felt rather thankful to the Emperors!!

How to cook BLACK RICE:

    1 cup Black Rice
    2 1/4 cups water
    1/2 tsp salt

…in the microwave

Place all ingredients in a large microwave safe bowl. cook on high for 10 minutes. Decrease power to 1/2 and cook an additional 25 minutes. {I actually had to increase the water and add about 10 minutes cooking time.}


…on the stove.

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add rice and salt. Cook 45 minutes until rice is tender.

For the other Lets Lunch NOIR dishes you can

    visit our HOSTESS Monica
    check out the dishes on the NOIR Pinterest Board.
    follow us on Twitter using the hashtag #LetsLunch
    Check back later for listings of other fabulous NOIR dishes.

The Grifters Grinder
Black and White Ice Cream
Paksing Demonyu
Kimchee Fried Rice

Pinot Noir Mulled Wine
Dark Sauce Pork Noodles

When Betty suggested Fruit as the theme for May’s Let’s Lunch I jumped on the FB wagon right away. YES!! Fruit!! I love fruit but I don’t eat it as often as I should. NOT canned fruit, Fresh! Every year we pick pears from our trees and blueberries from our bushes. Hubs plants tons of watermelon and cantaloupe. Usually we have lots and give most of it away, but sometimes, like last year we didn’t have much. The weather!! This year, hopefully, it will be different.

My favorite fruit has always been the cantaloupe. My PawPaw always had two things waiting for me when I went for a visit – Twinkies and, if it was summer, cantaloupe. He was the best PawPaw! So for as long as I can remember I have loved cantaloupe and always associate them with my PawPaw!

Hard to believe but sometimes you can have TOO much cantaloupe. I am always looking for new ways to use them. So, when the Lets Lunch theme was FRUIT I knew I had to share a couple of my favorite Cantaloupe recipes.

For an easy treat how about a Cantaloupe Smoothie

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    1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
    + 1 cup frozen cantaloupe cubes
    +2 Tbl Splenda (or 2 Tbl sugar)

Mix all ingredients together in a blender (or Magic Bullet).

This is so refreshing. I drink a lot of these in the summer – IF we have cantaloupe!

Recipe from Low Carb Smoothies by Dana Carpender.

But, there are only so many smoothies you can enjoy.

How about PIE!

Pie!!


    Cantaloupe Pie

I always thought Cantaloupe had too much moisture to make pie, but it is more like a squash than an actual melon. It has more substance, so the meat can be made into a pie. I perused several recipes and came up with this one:

    1 large or 4 cups ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, pureed. {I diced and put in the food processor, pulsing until smooth.}
    1 cup sugar {mine was pretty sweet so I used less sugar, but you need to taste your melon first}
    1/3 cup AP flour
    1/3 corn starch
    1/4 tsp salt
    3 egg yolks

Place the cantaloupe puree in a large saucepan over medium heat.
In a large measuring cup whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt and stir into cantaloupe.
Cook and stir until the mixture comes to a low boil and begins to thicken. {Keep stirring constantly or the mix will begin to resemble tapioca, which isn’t a BAD thing, but…}
Beat egg yolks and water together.
Gradually mix some of the hot cantaloupe mixture into the egg/water mix to prevent yolks from curdling.
Pour yolk/cantaloupe mixture back into saucepan and continue to cook for about 2 more minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

At this point you need to think about a crust and a topping. Some of the recipes I found used a basic pie crust. Some used a sweet crust. I used a basic pie crust, but I think it would be better with a

Sweet Crust.

    1 cup AP flour
    3 Tbl powdered sugar
    8 Tbl (1 stick)margarine or butter

Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
Place flour and sugar into a large bowl.
Cut in magarine (butter) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Press dough into the bottom and up the sides ofa deep dish pie plate (9″)
Bake crust for about 20 minutes
Set aside to cool.

Once cooled pour the cantaloupe mixture into the crust.

And the topping??

Well, we liked ours with whipped cream, but I also saw some with meringue. And some with a cream cheese/sugar/whipped cream topping. They would all be good with this pie.

This is a good pie. Mine had the tapioca texture, but we didn’t mind that. It tastes like cantaloupe (DUH!!) but it is a different taste.

Keeper in this household.

What else is on the Let’s Lunch Menu? Check with Betty Ann over at Asian in America.

Once a month I get to cook/bake with an awesome bunch of bloggers who live all around the world. Each month a theme is announced and then we all get busy and find something that goes with the current theme. Sometimes it is easy – PIE! Sometimes it is hard – literary meal! This month I thought would be difficult but it turned out, once I got my thoughts straight, to be quite simple. Come up with a dish using just 3 ingredients!!!

Now how on earth can you make any…… nevermind. Lots of things are possible

How about MAC AND CHEESE?

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    2 cups elbow macaroni
    1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
    3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

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Cook elbows in salted water until al dente and drain. Return to saucepan.
Add in 1/2 and 1/2 and grated cheese.
Stir until cheese melts and the mixture is thick and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

OR how about Peanut Butter Cookies?

    1 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
    1 egg
    1/2 to 1 cup sugar (and you can sub out about 1/2 of that for Splenda if you like.)

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Peheat oven to 325.
Mix the three ingredients together.
Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Bake 8 – 10 minutes.
EAT!!

Okay I could go on but thought I better quit with two goodies. But that’s not all there is for lunch. Check with the other Let’s Lunchers by visiting Linda over at Free Range Cookies who is hosting our lunch this month.

….and so do our Olympic Themed posts for Lets Lunch. This is exciting. All those countries. All those sports. All those colors!!! And all the wonderful dishes that are about to appear at our Lunch this month. We could chose a dish from a country that is competing and bring it along. I thought about it for a long time before I decided on … no real country at all.

It is the beginning of the Mardi Gras season in Louisiana. That means King Cakes. So how about an….

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    ….Olympic King Cake

    4¾ cups all-purpose flour, divided
    1 cup sugar, divided
    1½ teaspoons salt
    2 (¼-ounce) packages fast-rising yeast, such as Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise
    ¾ cup warm whole milk (120 to 130°)
    ½ cup warm water (120 to 130°)
    ½ cup butter, softened
    2 large eggs
    ¼ cup melted butter
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    Sugar Glaze, recipe follows
    Colored Sugars, recipe follows

1. In a large bowl, combine 1½ cups flour, ¼ cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, and yeast. Add milk, ½ cup warm water, and butter to flour mixture, and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer. Add eggs and ½ cup flour. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2¾ cups flour to make a stiff dough. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.*****

2. Place 5 round containers on a lightly greased cookie sheet. (I used 3 inch ramekins and they were too large. I would use nothing bigger than a 2 inch round.}

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3. Punch dough down, and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 5 equal portions. Roll the 5 pieces into 5 balls and then into 5 long pieces. Wrap the five pieces around ramekins or another small round dish. Brush with melted butter. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown, Remove from oven, and let cool completely on cookie sheet 10 minutes. serving plate; drizzle each with Sugar Glaze, and sprinkle with Colored Sugars

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Sugar Glaze
MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS {Which is WAY more than you will need.}

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and milk until smooth.

Colored Sugars

    1 cups sugar, divided
    16 drops red food coloring
    8 drops blue food coloring
    8 drops green food coloring
    8 drops yellow food coloring

1. Place 1/3 cup sugar in each of three small resealable plastic bags.

2. In a small bowl, combine red and blue food coloring until it turns purple. Add purple food coloring to one bag, green coloring to another bag, and yellow coloring to third bag; seal bags, and shake each until sugar is even in color.

So I guess I did chose a country — the US! But good luck to ALL the extraordinary and brave athletes.

Look for the round-up on Betty’s Blog Asian in America.

Let’s Lunch (#LetsLunch) is a twitter-based virtual lunch club where anyone interested can join. The theme is posted at the first of the month for the next month. You can visit us on FaceBook.

*****I made the dough in the bread machine. Use the dough setting. Same ingredients. Place the liquid ingredients in the machine first and then the mix of dry. I added the 1/2 cup of butter in pieces right after the other ingredients had mixed into a ball. When the dough cycle ends then transfer to the lightly floured surface and continue with the recipe in step 2. I also had more dough than I needed so I made 5 rolls in Texas Muffin Tin.

Here are the Olympic Dishes: Enjoy!

Cheryl’s Homemade Vegetarian Poutine

The other Cheryl’s Russian Beef Soup

Anne Marie’s Sochi Sliders

Nancie’s Russian Hamburgers

Jill’s Honeybell Chess Pie

Mai’s American Chocolate Guiness Whoopie Pie

Grace’s Coconut Hot Chocolate

Betty Anne’s Ham Garlic Pineapple Rice

Lucy’s Russian Tea

Annabelle’s Flaming Cheese

Linda’s Guinness Stout Ice Cream

Lisa’s Hot Borscht

Linda’s Meyer Lemon Cake

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