Fresh Herbs

A fresh and fun recipe catalog by a girl who likes to play in the kitchen the "from scratch" way.

|GUILTY PLEASURE| 01/02/2012

Filed under: Sweet — |FreshHerbs| @ 2:25 pm

{Hanging head in shame} I know it’s been nearly 3 months since my last post. I have no really good excuse – and it’s not like I’ve not been in my kitchen – I guess I’ve just been … lazy. I have started a kitchen journal though. {methinks that may be what’s kept me from recording things in cyber space} It’s been just brilliant to record my little tweaks so that I can actually repeat things that turn out well and to have a record of the trial and tribulations of my culinary adventures.

One such adventure is thanks to this post that I found on Tastespotting one day…MARSHMALLOWS! So, with visions of  a sticky disaster foremost in my mind I decided to conquer my fear of boiling sugar. You will absolutely need a candy thermometer. No improvising (ie. using your meat thermometer). Period. End of story. They’re fairly inexpensive (think less than $10) and it’s one of those empowering kitchen gadgets that once you have it you think you’ll become a badass candy-making machine…fudge, taffy, the sky’s the limit.

But back to these amazingly delicious (EASY!) marshmallows. After searching a few marshmallow recipes I landed on the aforementioned because it seemed to land in the middle as far as length of preparation and quantity of ingredients. These aren’t so easy that you can whip them up any time you want them, but if you make enough (as this recipe did) you’ll have homemade marshmallows for at least 1-2 weeks.

Sexy, sinful, little cubes of awesome.

Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows
Adapted from The Galley Gourmet (link above)

(3) 1/4 oz. packets of unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water (divided into two 1/2 cup portions)
1.5 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 Tb vanilla extract
powdered sugar for dusting and coating

Variation
For minty marshmallows, try adding 1/2 tsp of mint extract with the vanilla for just a hint of minty ness. Have fun with the flavoring- the sky’s the limit!

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In a stand mixer (with whisk attachment) dissolve the gelatin in 1/2 c of the cold water.

In a saucepan, cook the other 1/2 c of water, sugar, salt, and corn syrup on medium heat until the sugar dissolves (stir with whisk as needed). At this point, the mixture will be cloudy, but the sugar granules will be gone. With candy thermometer in place (clipped to side of pan), increase the heat and boil to 242 degrees (between soft ball and firm ball).

Slowly add the molten sugar to the gelatin with the mixer on low until incorporated. Increase the mixer to high and whisk until the mixture volume triples and becomes white, thick, and shiny (about 10 minutes). {Watch in awe as marshmallow is born} Decrease speed of mixer and pour in flavor extract(s). Mix until incorporated (about 2 minutes).

Into a GLASS 9×13 baking dish that has been LIBERALLY coated with a dusting of powdered sugar, scrape your marshmallow mixture and smooth with a spatula. Dust the top with powdered sugar and let the mixture stand, uncovered, approximately 12 hours (or overnight…I’ve let it sit up to 24 hours) to dry out.

When “dry” use a kitchen knife that’s been heated under hot tap water (and dried) to score around the edges and cut into strips then cut into cubes. This isn’t easy, as the marshmallow is inherently sticky. Parchment may make this easier, but I haven’t tried that and I do find that the stability of the baking dish does provide some much needed resistance to cut against. The trick is to periodically rinse the goo off the knife with hot water (and dry) while cutting. And, you’ll want to dust your cut pieces liberally with powdered sugar so they don’t stick together. Throw about a Tb of powdered sugar in the ziplock or container you plan to store these in and give it a good shake as you add pieces. The powdered sugar is key to prevent sticking.

These will rock your world…and you’ll never buy packaged marshmallows again!

[Cook often, and eat well!]

 

|MANGO TANGO| 07/04/2011

Filed under: Apps,CILANTRO,CORIANDER,fruit,Savory,Sweet — |FreshHerbs| @ 5:40 pm

Ah… mangoes on sale at the market. They’re packed with vitamin C and fiber, and a welcome departure from the norm. Oh yeah, and paired with cilantro? Mango-riffic!

Cilantro is, hands down, my favorite |Fresh Herb|. It smells great and tastes, well, I don’t know. The words that keep popping into my mind are fresh, bright, cool. Hubs and I enjoy good Mexican cuisine and I tend to gravitate toward anything with cilantro in it. Salsa verde? I’m in. “Fresh cilantro on that miss?” Do you even have to ask? Pile it on!

In fact, cilantro is typically a staple ingredient in Mexican, Asian, and Caribbean cooking (it grows wild in South East Europe…can you imagine!?). It is actually the leaves and stems of the coriander plant. Now coriander is an herb that I don’t typically cook with and frankly know virtually nothing about (except that I can thank it for cilantro). So, here and now I will promise to bring you something featuring coriander at some point in the future.

But now, back to mangoes. I love fresh salsa and make all kinds.  Salsa is my favorite recipe for nice, ripe mangoes. It goes great with chips and as a topping for broiled salmon. Is your mouth watering? No? Then re-read this post.

Meg’s Mango Salsa

2 ripe mangoes, medium dice
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 jalepeño, finely diced
1 lime, juiced
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 splash of EVOO
pinch sea salt
a few shakes of fresh pepper

Mix all of this in a bowl and start eating!

Do you know the mango prep trick? It’s called hedgehogging [really]. I realize now that I should have taken a picture of this process {mental note}. But, dear reader, I’m not going to leave you hanging. I’ve gone and found a video for you!

Helpful Tool: I find that a mango corer is an insanely handy tool for prepping a mango. You won’t use it for anything else, but it takes up virtually no room so it is well worth having for just such an occasion [particularly if you plan to make mango salsa a lot, which you should]. Thanks to Laura for giving that to me many moons ago. The stone (seed/core) runs lengthwise and is rather flat. The corer gets around the stone without the waste you’d have if you just used a knife. But do what makes you happy.

 

|AW, C’MON| 06/23/2011

Filed under: Sweet — |FreshHerbs| @ 5:39 pm

So here I sit, at the kitchen counter with the iBook, my after-work snack, and a sleeping ball of fur on my lap, and I’m bummed out. Had a training workshop at work today that was just really heavy. {sigh} |FreshHerbs| is supposed to be a lighthearted, creative endeavor and I’m just NOT in that frame of mind at the moment.

So, I’m thinking about what makes me happy — or trying to anyway — and it came to me. Props to Bakergirl here who recently shared this recipe for ::from-scratch-brown-sugar::. I mean, seriously?  Is it really that simple? Have I tried it yet, no, but how could you go wrong? I’m certainly going to the next time I encounter the need. Why have I been buying brown sugar all this time [thinking of that dried out crumbly mass that I recently threw in the trash after failed attempts to soften in the microwave] when I could have been making this fresh, perfect, delicious stuff? Honestly, just thought thought lightens my mood.

So comfort food, sure.  But comfort ingredients? (Apologies to those who view brown sugar as an end unto itself and not simply a means to one.) I’m all for comfort ingredients. Those things that, just by their mere presence in a recipe, make you love it before you even taste it. Cilantro, cumin, aforementioned brown sugar, vanilla, mint, cream, banana, vodka, the list goes on.