Monday, May 31, 2010

Quick Bread Interlude: Mango Tea Bread

I love quick breads. I do not particularly like mangoes, at least served on their own. Mangoes to me are nice accents to other ingredients, but on their own, they're too sweet for me. My mom brought me a couple mangoes the other day, and I had no idea what to do with them (the easy solution would have been to make some Black Bean and Corn Salad, but I'm having surgery Wednesday and am trying to not create any more leftovers, plus I had a spin on that salad last week). So, I went to epicurious and looked for recipes, finding a ton that sounded interesting but a) would take too long (too much standing around hurts my leg) or b) would create too many leftovers. Eventually I came across a recipe for Mango Tea Bread. I modified it slightly, and the result was a smooth bread that was slightly sweet and not overly mango tasting (a win in my book).

1 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup brandy (I actually used Remy Martin V.S.O.P. cognac)
2 large mangoes, peeled, diced
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
heaping 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, brought up to room temperature
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a bread pan (I used a glass 1.5 qt loaf pan, the same I use for all my breads). In a small bowl, mix raisins and cognac and put aside.

Puree the mangoes in a food processor or blender until smooth. It should be about a cup (I ended up slightly less than a cup and it turned out okay. If it's more than a cup, I'd use about a cup and reserve the rest for another use).

Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar and the butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then mango puree and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixture and beat until just combined. Then, using a spoon or spatula, fold in the brandy-soaked raisins.

Pour batter into the bread pan. Bake it for about 75 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack, then turn the loaf out and let cool completely.

This bread was really tasty with a little bit of butter in the morning. This bread doesn't taste too much like mango, but is still tasty. One thing I did notice was that the raisins retained some of the cognac flavor, which was a nice counterpoint to the bread.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Comfort Food: Corn Chowder

When I was growing up, one of my mom's (and dad's) favorite weeknight dinners when things were hectic was corn chowder. It was quick to make, had some good vegetables in it, and easily adaptable. For me, it's become one of my favorite comfort foods. I'm posting the basic recipe here, though it's well-suited to extra add-ins. It also is easy to double, for yummy leftovers or for a crowd.

1 can cream of potato soup
1 can of milk (whole milk or 2% work best)
1 can Niblets (or otherwise, about 1-1.5 cups cooked corn)
Butter (or oil) for sautee
2-3 stalks celery, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
other ingredients as desired

Sautee the onions, celery and garlic for a few minutes, until they start to sweat a bit. Add the corn (and anything else you want to add, see note) and any seasonings you may want to add (I usually add Old Bay seasoning). Sautee the mixture until the corn has a little color.

Move the mixture to a saucepan and add the potato soup and milk. Mix well, bring it to a light simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, serve with chopped scallions.

Without extra mix-ins, the base recipe creates a chunky soup that is pretty hearty. If you add a lot of other items, you may want to add more cream of potato and milk. Other mix-ins include leftover vegetables (diced), cooked chicken (diced), cooked sausage, bacon, lima beans, or anything else you have leftover. When I make it, I like the corn to get a little brown, as it makes things a bit tastier. During the summer corn season, I've also grilled corn and used that instead of Niblets (or frozen corn), it gives the chowder a bit of something extra. If you have any other ideas of items to mix into the chowder, let me know!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

On Not Cooking Much Lately

Yeah, this blog has really turned into a cooking blog. I should probably just rename it to cookingwithkristin or something, but I don't want to bunk up anybody who's actually bookmarked, I still have the occasional interlude of injury, gym, and EDS news.

I haven't been cooking lately. Part of that is because my company just launched another satellite, and I was involved with the rehearsals leading up to the launch, the actual launch, and then the early mission operations activities.

The other part of that is that I managed to get a herniated disc (actually, I got it when I fell while shopping for the ingredients for the Parmesan and Kale pasta), and right now it just hurts too much to stand or walk for any extended period of time. Seriously, the other day I went to Wegman's to get a sandwich and some cat litter, and that was too much, I couldn't wait to get back to a seat and off my leg. The good news is that I'm seeing a doctor now for the disc. The bad news is that he said it's a "substantial herniation" and he has said that my only real options at this point are steroid injections or surgery. I had an injection this past Monday which hasn't helped much so far, but I think I still need to give it some time.

Of course, the sort of advantage of being in so much pain is that my mom's been coming down and buying groceries for me and cooking for me...and really, who doesn't love mom's home cooking when they're not feeling well?

Anyway, hoping to have more soon, sorry for the hiatus.