Monthly Archives: March 2012

Roasted Citrus Parfait

By now, I’m on the island of St. Kitt’s, trying to adjust to Caribbean heat and humidity. Today, my little brother turns 24. Today is also the first Wednesday Recipe Swap for Burwell General Store. Wow, there’s a lot going on!

While it may sometimes come along during busy periods in my life, I have loved every single recipe swap since joining the group. I always learn something about a dish or two, about my own cooking, and about the astounding abilities of my co-swappers. This little activity has become so popular (yeah, we’re pretty cool) that Christianna, the swap’s founder, proposed that we split into two groups. There is now a Monday Swap and  Wednesday Swap every month. Each group starts with a different recipe, making for even more delicious madness.

As you can see, I fell in with the Wednesday swap crowd. I drooled over the Monday group’s pizza recipes earlier this month. At the time, I already had my own dish in the works, as I knew I’d be in the tropical wilds on the swap date.

I smiled when I saw this months recipe. Ah, jello salad. My mom makes a jello salad, just one but it’s a good one. It incorporates all the wonderful things about jello salads: fruity jello, crunchy things, cottage cheese…I could go on. I actually kind of love it, although I’ve never made it myself.

Anyway, back from that tangent. I didn’t make that salad, or any jello salad. After briefly considering an experiment with agar agar or unflavored gelatin I veered towards simplicity. A simple parfait is much more my style. I carried the citrus and cottage cheese over from the original recipe but needed little else.

I made this for lunch one day last week while I was trying to clean out the fridge and frantically ready myself for three weeks in the Caribbean. Breakfast might be a more appropriate meal for a parfait and it could certainly be a dessert or even dinner with some minor tweaks. The possibilities of varying the grain layer, sweetening the fruit, or maybe adding a layer of wilted kale and some savory spices make this an extremely versatile dish.

My main inspiration was Joy the Baker’s Roasted Winter Citrus. I bookmarked this post last month because I love roasting everything and will try that technique on anything at least once. I’d never tried it with citrus fruit but the idea immediately had me thinking of hot sweet-sour juices paired with something cold and cheesy. I ended up roasted a sliced grapefruit, partly because I’m always looking for different ways to eat that somewhat challenging fruit. Layered with chilly cottage cheese and cooked millet, roasted grapefruit was truly delicious and different.

Look at that soupy cottage cheese running down the inside of the glass. I wished I had my favorite cottage cheese on hand when I made my parfait. Nancy’s cottage cheese is cultured, like yogurt, so it’s tangy and richer tasting, even in a reduced fat version. I love it.

The pineapple in the original Orange Snowflake Salad seemed a little tropical to me. Maybe I just had the tropics on my mind, because knew I had to top my parfait with coconut butter. Coconut butter (like all nut butter) makes everything better, obviously. A more indulgent cook would have put gobs of this incredible spread/topping/syrup between every parfait layer. Next time.

I’m not the only one taking jello salad in a totally different direction!


Roasted Citrus Parfait

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup cooked grain (millet was nice)
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • A few wedges of Roasted Winter Citrus
  • Coconut butter, warmed in a bowl or pot of hot water so it is a liquid.

Instructions

  1. Roast your citrus first, or maybe you have some leftover from another meal.
  2. In any case, cut fruit out of rinds once it is cool enough to handle.
  3. Spoon a layer of grain into the bottom of a pretty glass or dish.
  4. Follow that with a layer of citrus, followed by cottage cheese.
  5. Repeat layers until you run out of room or ingredients.
  6. Top parfait with a couple spoonfuls of coconut butter.
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The wait is over…and muffins

A somewhat random picture of our new dining room table. Isn't it gorgeous?

Ahhh, I just deleted a post that had been going stale as a draft for several days. Obviously it wasn’t right. I was trying to convey such monumental good news that I was getting more than a little carried away. Rather than dance around the issue for paragraph upon paragraph, I’ll get right to it.

I got a job!

Last Friday I received a phone call from the latest (and greatest) museum where I’d put in an application. They wanted to hire me! This job is so perfect, I would have been pretty bewildered if I didn’t get it. I’ll be doing very similar work to what I did before leaving Denver more than two years ago. I’ll spare the details for now. All that matters is that it’s something I love doing, I’ll be using my education, and getting some intellectual stimulation 3 days a week starting in April. Woohoo!

I’ve been riding the high from that news all week, although it has been somewhat muted by a sad development in the family. Almost simultaneous to the job offer, I found out that my favorite aunt has cancer. Yes, I am not afraid to admit that I have a favorite aunt (and yes, I do have several to choose from). This happens to be the aunt I’ve been closest to growing up.

Lee and I visited her last weekend. I brought homemade Peanut Butter and Nutella Cookies from a Back to Her Roots recipe via a Foodzie Baking Box (These were some seriously good cookies. Make them!). Of course, there was already a fresh-baked apple crisp on the counter when we arrived. I wonder where I got my penchant for baking?

No one knows much yet but we are all hopeful.

Focusing on the positive: you might wonder why my job doesn’t start until April. The delay allows Lee and I to take our boat relocation trip that we’ve been planning for a long time. We have to move Pirat out of the hurricane minefield and into a more secure boat yard. Here’s some quick stats on the trip, in case you’re curious, and you can always check out our sailing story and my eventual posts on this leg over at Pirat.

 

Starting Point: St. Kitt’s, the Caribbean

First Destination: Aruba

Eventual Destination: Curacao

Miles to Cover: about 500 to Aruba and another 30 or so to Curacao

Projected Wind and Sea Conditions: 15-25 knots of wind and 6-8 foot, steep or very steep seas, both from behind us.

 

As you can imagine, I’ve been very busy getting ready for our trip this week (we’re leaving next Tuesday). Among other things, I needed to use my sourdough starter! Isn’t that a high priority before going away for 3 weeks? I really didn’t have time for any elaborate bread baking so I threw together some sourdough muffins this morning. I am thrilled that something I totally made up finally came out well! It seems like I’ve produced more flops than successes in my kitchen of late.

This time, I wanted a comfort muffin. I wanted lots of whole grain heartiness that I know will be difficult to come by in the Caribbean (they are really into their fluffy, sweet bread down there). I also wanted to use up some of the perishable foods in my fridge. On all counts, these muffins were a success.

Just a little disclaimer: my measurements in this recipe are approximate, except when it comes to the bran and flour, which I weighed. Don’t ask me why I wasn’t as precise with everything else! I fed my sourdough started with 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup water the night before. In the morning I refilled my starter container and use what remained from the feeding for this recipe. It looked like between 1 and 1.5 cups of starter. More starter would probably just make the muffins more most and a little more sour.

Sourdough Applesauce Bran Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups active sourdough starter (fed the night before)
  • 1.5 oz wheat bran
  • 1.5 oz oat bran
  • 2 oz whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • Generous dash of cinnamon (maybe 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped prunes or other dried fruit

Instructions

  1. Mix the brans, flour, and salt in a medium bowl (I just add them to the same bowl on top of my food scale).
  2. Combine with the sourdough starter in a large bowl and stir until fully mixed. Cover bowl and allow to sit for an hour or two.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, applesauce, sugar, oil, cinnamon, and baking powder.
  5. Stir in vanilla extract and prunes.
  6. Add liquid mixture to dough that has been sitting, stirring until fully combined. It comes together eventually even though the dough is kinda doughy and the liquid is liquidy...)
  7. Spoon batter into a prepared muffin tin and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until muffins are firm.
  8. Remove from oven and cool muffins on a wire rack.
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Filed under inspiration and musings, muffins