Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Red Tomato Chutney

You may or may not remember that I made chutney for the first time last winter. And we loved it! It is a Pear and Peach Chutney with ginger root in it that makes it nice and HOT! It is great with curry and rice!

So, when my friend at Shinshu Life published a recipe for red (vs. still green) tomato chutney, I was really enthralled! Just looking at the color made me want to rush out and make it. However, Shinshu Life cooking is based on their wonderful and HUGE gardening enterprise. My balcony garden, on the other hand, was recycled early on in the summer, and replaced with flowers. So, when I compared prices of "real" (fresh) tomatoes with canned, canned won out. Here is my version of Shinshu Life's school textbook's Red Tomato Chutney:

Red Tomato Chutney

2 cans whole peeled tomatoes - I roughly cut them up with a pair of kitchen shears
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pickle spice wrapped in a mesh cloth - cloves are the ticket, I think!
1 cup sugar

I threw all of this (EXCEPT THE SUGAR) into a saucepan and boiled it till the liquid was reduced by about 1/2. About 20 minutes. Then I added the sugar and boiled it for about 20-30 minutes. Ryu (my husband), isn't a real vinegar fan, and found this to be a bit sour at first, so be sure to adjust the sugar to your own taste. This made 2-3 cups of chutney. The color is so rich and the flavor so robust! I love it!

We weren't sure what to eat it on but it would work with yogurt - REALLY! and cream cheese and crackers. It is also great with chicken and white rice. I think we will be finishing it up tonight! Mmmm! Thanks for the inspiration, Heather!

Cinnamon Chip Granola

I have created so many wonderful posts about newly created recipes. Posts describing the process, the root of the recipe, the delicious discovery. Only to actually taste the creation and have to chalk it up to "practice." As I stood in the shower this morning smelling the delicious aroma of cinnamon wafting out of my kitchen - 2 feet away - I asked myself, "Self, will this be another post and recipe that will be tossed into the pit of experience? Or, will this really be one you can print?" And, as Jun and I chowed down this granola at lunch, I am so so happy to say that THIS one is a keeper!

I have been trying to make a REAL Cinnamon Granola. One that tasted like cinnamon. I made one recipe and put a Tablespoon of precious cinnamon in it with a little extra sugar. Think of cinnamon sugar toast without the sugar. YUCK! Of course, we ate it, but... So, this morning when Jun and I finished the last of the Peanut Butter Granola and I reminded myself that my supermarket no longer stocks peanuts (think small store, but not THAT small, friends), and I would have to trape around looking for another store that sold them, (Seriously, how can a store stock selling PEANUTS?) I decided it was time to try a new recipe again. (Last week's Chocolate Granola try was just that, a try. No printable post!) So, I happened to remember that I had cinnamon chips in my fridge just looking for a use. (They are WONDERFUL in scones, but...you have to cut butter into flour. That, is a labor of love at our house!) It turned out sooooo good!

The "base" of the recipe is a lot like my Peanut Butter and Gingersnap Granolas. If it isn't broken, don't fix it, I say. And, it makes lovely chunks which satisfies the child in my house, (Jun). The only caveat is that I get the mini cinnamon chips from the US. I THINK I've seen some in Japan, sold by the tablespoon, but am not sure.

Cinnamon Chip Granola

2 cups oatmeal (I use old fashioned.)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/8 cup crushed all bran
1/4 cup flax seed flour (Truly, you could substitute any flours for the wheat germ, all bran or flax seed. This is a truly flexible recipe!)
1/3 cup mini cinnamon chips (I've put the link to King Arthur Flour's chips.)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix the dry ingredients well and add:

1/4 cup oil
2 Tbsp. honey
1/3 cup hot water
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir to combine well. Use your hands if you like. Spread out on a baking sheet. Use "oven paper" if you have it as this granola sticks more than some others. I never have oven paper, however, and survive! Bake at 140 C for 1 hour. I'd probably stir it after the hour and then let it cool in the oven. I didn't stir it today and had one huge LOVELY chunk! SMILE! It breaks up easily, however and Jun was happy! Store in an air tight container. Serve with raisins - if you like! Incidentally, I was surprised to find that many Japanese don't like raisins. Who knew?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

THERE! By THAT name, perhaps people who WANT to make these cookies can actually find a recipe to do so!

This recipe is called Peanut Butter Cookies in my "Old-Fall-Apart-Cookbook" Favorite Recipes of the Great Northwest. Anyone who has EVER made a peanut butter cookie knows it is round, light brown, and has fork marks making an x across the top! These cookies are NOT Peanut Butter Cookies! I am shouting!

And, I CANNOT make these cookies successfully. Again - one more point AGAINST DNA, and FOR ... what was the other ... Nurture!

My Mom and niece make them regularly. Successfully! The problem is not in the recipe! Well, not now that I called my Mom and asked HOW she made those cookies, and what "full boil" really means! The problem is in ... my favorite things in the world - substitution and scrimping!

I have tons of old fashioned oats from Costco. I use them for making granola. This recipe calls for quick cooking oats. I don't have any of those and am not really sure WHERE to get them in my town. So, I used the old fashioned kind. Big big looser. Took the batch to church. No one actually said it tasted like they were eating chocolate covered horse food, but...

The next time I decided to toast the oats before using them. I was too embarrassed to take this batch to church - burnt the oats a bit - so they tasted like chocolate covered burnt horse food.

So, as Japanese cornflakes seem to be harder, thicker and crisper than US ones, I decided to use them instead. This was the worst substitution yet. Though they may be a bit crisper, I bought the cheapo store brand, and I ended up with soggy, tough chocolate covered cornflakes. ARGH!

So, unless someone has a good way to make old fashioned oats into quick cooking oats, I may have to put off making this recipe till I find the "real" thing. Or, until I think of another option. Seriously - don't you think this recipe would be good with slightly broken up salty pretzels? Mmmmm?

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies (Peanut Butter Cookies)

contributed by Mrs. Fred T. Mellinger, Portland, OR page 168

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter (we use margarine)
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 Tbsp. cocoa
2/3 cup peanut butter
3 tsp. (1 Tbsp.) vanilla
3 cups oatmeal

Combine sugar, butter, milk and cocoa in saucepan. Bring to a full boil. (Full boil means a boil you can't stir down. Then I counted to 10.) Remove from heat and add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. Spoon onto waxed paper. Cool. Yield 3 dozen.

From my experience, one should not skimp on any of the above ingredients (sugar, peanut butter)! Also, from my experience, if making a substitution for the oatmeal, one might just want to start with a half batch!

I tried other recipes like this one that had less peanut butter. They tasted more chocolaty, but didn't set well. This really tastes like peanut butter chocolate fudge with oatmeal in it. If you make them right.

Remember, I am waiting for your ideas about a better substitution for the quick cooking oats!!!
NOTE: I DID try to cut those oats up in my blender/mixer thingie before trying again. And they were much much better. If I had quick oats, I think they are still best, but "blended up oats" worked just fine! Thank you for the suggestion!

HEY! I might use the chocolate/peanut butter mixture as frosting on my birthday cake this Friday!!!??? What do you think??
NOTE: I DID use the "chocolate sauce" part for frostening on my cake! It turned out great! I made 1/2 batch to "frost" a single 8" layer that I cut in half to make two layers. And you don't need a knife!