Week 45: Cooking Through It
Although we are only one week into the most recent Executive Order signed by Governor Ralph Northam issuing the temporary stay at home order, many of us have been social distancing and living very altered lives since Virginia’s State of Emergency was declared on March 12, 2020. And as of late, doctors have exceedingly warned that we are doing a disservice to our health if we are stocking up on ultra-processed junk food and sugar (think empty shelves of boxed pastas, cereals, chips, candy, cookies, and sodas). Being a member of Moutoux CSA and having open access to the most delicious and nutrient-dense foods around, we are somewhat shielded against such eating patterns. But it is never a bad time for the reminder that there is a strong link between nutrition and immunity. Don’t be a victim of the #Quarantine15.
There is still so much we CAN DO and CAN ENJOY, and there is no better time to cook through it Moutoux style. Filling the house with delicious smells will make everyone feel more grounded. This week we are diving into pantry recipes, the breakfast edition!
1 part liquid (dairy, nut, or coconut milk); 1/3 to ½ cup is standard serving
1 part old-fashioned rolled oats
1 part yogurt
1 tsp chia seeds, optional but highly recommended
Sweetener of choice (half banana, maple syrup, honey, stevia)
Toppings of choice (fresh or dried fruit, nuts, nut butters, seeds, protein powder, granola, coconut, spices, citrus zest, vanilla extract, cacao powder, etc.)
Make your base by mixing a 1:1 ratio of liquid and oats, or 1:1:1 ratio of liquid, oats, and yogurt. Add in your sweetener of choice and mix well and refrigerate overnight or for at least 5 hours.
In the morning, add additional liquid if you’d like. Once you reach desired consistency, mix in and add toppings of your choice. Enjoy!
Here are some wonderful flavor combinations to try: blueberries + pecans + honey; coconut flakes + almonds + lemon zest; apples + cinnamon + maple syrup; peanut butter + banana; strawberries + banana; hazelnuts + cacao powder; mango + pomegranate seeds + orange zest + ground cardamom
Notes: This recipe is very flexible and open to experimentation according to your preferences, and it tends to remind kids of going out for ice cream with select your own toppings! Add more liquid if you like it thinner or more chia seeds if you like it thicker. Amount of sweetener can vary depending on your tastes too.
2 large potatoes, diced small (about 1/2-inch cubes)
1 small red onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 to 2 jalapenos, or to taste, chopped small
½ pound sausage removed from casings, crumbled into chunks, or bacon
Freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces baby spinach
1 ¾ cups black beans, cooked
12 large eggs
8 burrito-sized flour tortillas
Salsa, homemade or prepared, to taste
1.5 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack (or more, to taste)
Pickled jalapenos, fresh chopped cilantro, hot sauce, avocado or guacamole, sour cream, or other fixings you like (as needed)
Prepare vegetables. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat your largest baking sheet thinly with oil. Arrange your components — potatoes, pepper(s), onion, sausage or strips of bacon — in different parts of the pan. (This allows you to rescue some items sooner if they cook faster.) Coat with another glug of oil and season the potatoes and peppers well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Roast for 30 minutes. The bacon and sausage should be cooked through and crisp at this point; you can remove them and set them aside. Use a thin, large spatula to lift and turn the potatoes and peppers; return them to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. When potatoes are tender, scatter spinach on top, return to oven for 5 minutes; it will wilt quickly. Use your spatula to mix all of your roasted ingredients together. Scatter black beans over (this will warm them), crumble or chop bacon, if using, and return it or the sausage to the tray so everything’s in one place.
Prepare eggs: Whisk your eggs together in a large bowl until lightly beaten. Season well with salt (1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher) and many grinds of black pepper. Heat your largest frying pan over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add a bit of oil to the pan and heat it too. Once the oil is hot, add your eggs. Let them cook for 20 to 30 seconds before beginning to move and turn them in spatula-wide sections. When eggs are mostly cooked but still a tiny bit runny, scrape them into a bowl. The residual heat of the eggs should cook them to about the 95% mark; they’ll finish cooking as you warm your burritos.
Assemble burritos: Place a large square of foil on your counter. Place first tortilla over it. Eyeball about 1/8 of the vegetable mixture and scoop it into the center, followed by a little salsa (I use 1 to 2 tablespoons per burrito), 1/8 the eggs, cheese to taste, plus whatever fixings you cannot live without.
Roll the burrito tightly by folding the sides over the filling then rolling from the bottom up. Wrap in foil the same way, folding the foil first over the ends of the burrito.
Enjoy or freeze. If eating right away, rewarm the foil-wrapped burritos on a tray for 5 minutes in a 350-degree oven to get everything hot again and melt the cheese. To freeze, place foil-wrapped burritos in a freezer bag and press all the air out or use a food saver. They will keep in the freezer for 2 months. To warm from the freezer in the oven: I place the foil-wrapped burritos on a tray in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes (could take more or less time). To check, press a toothpick through the foil into the center of a burrito and pull it out; if the toothpick feels warm or hot, the burrito is heated. If it’s cold (it will be clear if it’s cold), it needs more time. To warm from the freezer in a microwave: Remove foil and microwave for 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 minutes, turning burrito over halfway (could take more or less time). To defrost in the fridge and warm in the oven, heat these the same way as frozen but check 10 minutes sooner. Do not leave in the fridge for more than a day, the wetness of the fillings can make the wrappers mushy or soggy.
Notes: Makes 8 burritos. This is an excellent recipe to use up some of your 2019 frozen and canned goods in prep for the 2020 season. Recommend making a double or triple batch because they freeze wonderfully.
CHEESY POTATO BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
3 cups diced potatoes
1 Granny Smith apple, grated
1 Tbsp olive oil
12 ounces sausage, removed from casing
8 large eggs
1 ¼ cups milk
4-5 leaves fresh sage, chopped or 1 tsp dried sage
salt & pepper, to taste
3 cups grated cheese, divided (Jarlsberg, cheddar, swiss, or a mixture of your favorites)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9x13 or similar sized baking dish.
Place a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and sausage and cook until browned, breaking into small pieces with a spatula.
Transfer cooked sausage to a large bowl. Add potatoes and apples and toss to combine. Spread the mixture into the baking dish.
Add the eggs and milk to the large bowl and gently whisk together.
Add 1/2 the grated cheese, sage, salt and pepper and stir until combined.
Pour the egg mixture over the sausage mixture in the baking dish then top with remaining grated cheese.
Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes. If top starts to turn too brown, cover with foil until the middle of the casserole is set.
Broil on high for the last 1-2 minutes until golden brown on top.
Remove from the oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Notes: Makes 8 servings.
ULTIMATE BANANA BREAD
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for pan
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 slightly heaped cups of mashed banana (from 4 large or 5 medium-large bananas)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
few gratings of fresh nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons raw or turbinado sugar (on top)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 6-cup (9×5-inch) loaf pan or coat it with a nonstick cooking spray and set aside. The size of your loaf pan is very important here because this will fill out every speck of it before it is done. If yours is even slightly smaller or you’re nervous, go ahead and scoop out a little to make a muffin or two on the side. And place a sheet pan underneath, just in case it spills.
Melt butter in a large bowl and whisk in brown sugar until smooth, then stir in mashed banana. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Sprinkle the surface of the batter evenly with salt, cinnamon, nutmeg (if using), baking soda, and baking powder, and whisk until the ingredients are fully dispersed in the batter, and then whisk 10 more times around the bowl because it’s better to be overly cautious than to end up with unmixed pockets. Add flour and stir until combined. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan. It should come to just over 1/2-inch from the top rim. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the raw sugar; it will seem like a lot but will bake up beautifully.
Bake banana bread for 55 to 65 minutes. It is done when a toothpick or skewer inserted into the bread is batter-free — be sure to check the upper third as well, near the rim of the pan. The bread will get very dark but will not taste burnt.
Let cool in pan. This banana bread is good on the first day but exceptional on the second and third, if you can bear to wait.
To store: Leave the banana bread in the pan, uncovered. Once cut, press a piece of foil against the cut side of the remaining loaf but leave the top uncovered — you worked hard for that crunchy top and should not sacrifice it to humidity. It keeps for five days at room temperature, possibly a week in the fridge.
Notes: Serves 8-10.
Memorize This Ratio. The only thing you need to remember is this: 6 parts dry to 1 part wet. Your "parts" can be whatever measurement you want: 1 cup, 1/2 cup, one Tupperware container, one cereal bowl, half of a pint glass, etc. Set this ratio in your memory (or write it down) and then head to the kitchen and turn your oven to 300°F.
Mix the Dry Ingredients. There's only one non-negotiable dry ingredient in granola, and that’s rolled oats. The rest is up to you. I like to have at least half of my dry ingredients consist of rolled oats, but you can of course use even more if you like. (Do not use quick-cooking oats, which won't hold up as well as regular rolled oats.) Other dry ingredient options include your favorite nuts and seeds and/or other rolled, flaked, or puffed grains. Think chopped pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, puffed millet, coconut flakes, and flax seeds. For a nice balance of flavor and texture, aim for a mix of at least four dry ingredients; a good ratio to follow is 3 parts oats, 1 part nuts, 1 part seeds, and 1 part something else.
Whisk Together the Wet Ingredients. Wet ingredients make the granola magic happen—they coat your grains, nuts, and seeds in fat and sugar, which helps them brown and clump together. Remember that you need 1 part wet to your six parts dry. I like a granola that's not too sweet, so I usually use about half sweetener and half oil, but if you like a sweeter granola, pump up the sweetener ratio. Choose an oil whose flavor and nutritional benefits you can get excited about: I love to use either warmed coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, or a mixture of the two. For a neutral flavor, try grapeseed or sunflower seed oil. For the sweetener, you need something that's in liquid form. You can make a syrup by melting sugar and water if you like, but it's easier to just go for one that's already in a liquid state like honey, agave nectar, coconut nectar, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup. I always add an egg white to my wet mix too, because it helps the granola clump together better, and gives it an extra crunchy and glossy finish. But it's not essential. Whisk together your oil, sweetener, and egg white (if using) until they equal your 1 part measurement, then stir it into your bowl of dry ingredients to coat everything thoroughly.
Season To Taste. Once you've got everything mixed up in your big bowl, take a taste. How's it doing? You want a little spice in there, right? Cinnamon is always nice, as is vanilla extract, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt. Add as little or as much spice as you want, but always add salt—it perks up all the flavors. Taste again, and if you want more sweetness, sprinkle in a bit of sugar or brown sugar.
Bake Until Golden-Brown. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread your granola mixture out in an even layer. If that layer is too thick, get another rimmed baking sheet and divide the mixture between the two. Bake at 300°F, gently stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is golden-brown and dry, 40 to 45 minutes.
If You Want to Add Fruit, Add it at The End. If you want dried fruit in your granola such as dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, or sliced dried apricots, you're better off not baking it, which will dry out the fruit. Instead, stir the fruit into the hot granola right after you pull it out of the oven. Let the whole thing cool completely before digging in or transferring to a jar, and store in your pantry.
Extra credit. Serve with a heaping bowl of Moutoux yogurt, now back in stock!!
Stay safe, stay home.