INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: MAY 2021

Last time I shared Incredibly Simple recipes was 7 months ago, so it’s been a while… The first three are embarrassing simple. The fourth will surprise you. Read on, my friends!

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER FLORETS

I admit that the picture is not that great. The problem is I had no intention of blogging about it, until I realized I made it three weeks in a row, and now it’s pretty hard for me to prepare cauliflower any other way. The air-fryer is the perfect environment to get crispy, tender inside florets, in 20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes start to finish. No mess, no fuss. Perfect results every single time.

Toss the florets in a large bowl with a little grapeseed oil (you can use olive oil if you prefer), season with salt, pepper, and when you want to rock your world a bit, go for smoked paprika, maybe a touch of curry. Set your fryer to the highest temperature (mine is 390F), and let it roast for 20 minutes, shaking the basket once or twice.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2

HARD-BOILED EGGS, THE AIR-FRYER WAY

If you own an air-fryer and want to expand your horizons to use it more often, hard-boiled eggs are a great option. Place as many eggs as you want in the basket. Set it to 270F (or around that temperature, depending on your model) and set the timer to 15 minutes. You might need a little adjustment in the time. For my fryer and my taste in hard-boiled eggs, that combination hits the spot. If you want to have soft-boiled eggs, reduce the time to 8 to 10 minutes, but again you’ll have to tweak the conditions. The eggs peel like a dream, by the way.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

SWEET AND SPICY WALNUTS (or PECANS)

Phil came up with this idea and now we do it all the time for our salads. Grab a handful of walnuts or pecans. Coat a non-stick small skillet with a tiny tiny tiny amount of olive oil. Heat, and add the nuts. Season with salt and pepper, or if you like to change things a bit, go for a touch of paprika. When the nuts start to get fragrant, drizzle a very small amount (maybe 1 tsp) of maple syrup. Everything will bubble furiously. Shake the pan to move the walnuts and coat them with the syrupy mixture. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer them to a small bowl to cool down a bit. Add to your salad. Any salad. Try to refrain from picking those babies from the bowl when no one is looking

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

FRIANDS

You may ask yourself… “Has she lost her mind?” BAKING in Incredibly Simple? Nope, I did not lose my mind (at least not for this particular reason). This is a recipe that a 5 year old can make with minor supervision as the young child will need to operate a food processor.

Melt 1 stick (113g) of butter and place in the bowl of a food processor together with
90g all-purpose flour
110g almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
3/4 tsp baking powder
5 egg whites
190g powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Process for 1 minute. It will be very foamy. Spoon the mixture in non-stick muffin tins (or friand molds), filling each cavity no more than 3/4 full. Place two raspberries in each portion, top with some slivered almonds. Bake at 325F for 18 to 20 minutes, until the edges start to get golden. Let them cool for 10 minutes, remove from the molds and when fully cold, dust with powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I hope that if you consider yourself a non-baker, or worse yet, a bake-o-phobe (like I used to be), you will still grab the ingredients and try this recipe. You can vary the nut flour by adding some hazelnuts or even ground pistachios in some proportion together with almond flour. Or you can bake this simple version. They are delicate, moist, fragrant, absolutely perfect with a cup of tea. And so incredibly simple to prepare! Make sure to surprise whoever is around and when you bring those to the table, say very non-challantly… “I’ve made some friands for you”… Work on your best French accent, it is a must in this case.

ONE YEAR AGO: Phyllo Parcels with Moroccan Turkey

TWO YEARS AGO: Roasted Corn and Zucchini Salad

THREE YEAR AGO: Fraisier Cake, A Celebration of Spring

FOUR YEARS AGO: Zucchini Frittata with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

FIVE YEARS AGO: Playing with Pectinase

SIX YEARS AGO: Poached White Asparagus with Lemon and Pistachios

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Dan Lepard’s Saffron Bloomer

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Fesenjan & The New Persian Kitchen

NINE YEARS AGO: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets

TEN YEARS AGO: Pasta Puttanesca

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Miche Point-a-Calliere

REVELATION VEGGIE-OR-NOT EGG ROLL BOWL

Food bloggers are like cookbook authors, you get to trust some and try “daring” or “unusual” recipes if they recommend it, because you realize their palate matches yours. Kelly, from Inspired Edibles is one example. When she posts a recipe and raves about it, I just know I will love it too. This one used an ingredient that might make you run away screaming and promising never to stop by my site again: textured soy protein, aka TSP. Now before you click away, let me tell you I used ground turkey the first time. It ended up as one of the tastiest things I’ve cooked in months. I truly urge you to give it a try, and if you feel particularly brave, go for the TSP. I made it a second time using it, and it would make a vegan dance the happy dance. Extended version.

VEGGIE-OR-NOT EGG ROLL BOWL
(slightly modified from Inspired Edibles)

for the egg rolls:
3 large carrots, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
280 g premixed bag of coleslaw (about 4 cups)
Large handful (about 1 cup) chopped fresh spinach
3/4 pound plant-based crumbles/rehydrated TVP or ground turkey of choice
sesame seeds for topping

for the egg roll sauce:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp Chinkiang vinegar (Chinese vinegar)
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 round tsp Sriracha
1 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
¼ cup water

Combine the egg roll sauce ingredients in a container with fitted lid: olive oil, soy or tamari, vinegar, ginger, Sriracha, hoisin sauce, Chinese five-spice powder and ¼ cup water giving it a good shake to combine nb: it’s good for sauce to gather flavor while you assemble/cook the rest of the ingredients (you can also make ahead and store in fridge).


Sauté carrots and red peppers in a large skillet with a little olive oil just until the carrots begin to soften.
Add ground turkey (or hydrated TSP crumbles) saute for a couple of minutes, add half the sauce. If using turkey, cook until no longer pink. Add cabbage and spinach, cook a minute or two, add the remaining of the sauce. If the sauce/mixture appears too thick/dry add a little more water but not too much (you don’t want to overly dilute the wonderful taste of the sauce). Continue mixing over heat until cabbage/spinach begin to wilt and mixture is warmed through. Top with sesame seeds and serve. Great with rice, but excellent on its own.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The only modification I would make is – more spinach! Spinach tends to do what spinach does best, disappear into the dish, so double it, no problem. The sauce is magical. I advise you to go the extra mile and search for the specific vinegar called for, because its flavor is unique and very prominent in the sauce. As to TSP, Kelly recommends this brand. I think if you are familiar with other brands, go for it. I find this one quite convenient because the bag sits at room temperature, you rehydrate what you need, and it lasts forever. I see a “fake-Bolognese” in our future.

The second time around I went wild and tried the TSP. That’s what you see in the photo above, and I promise you it was excellent. It soaks up the sauce and the texture is quite pleasant.

Kelly, thanks again for opening my horizons,
I love trying new things, and you never disappoint!

ONE YEAR AGO: Covid Update and Stayin’ Alive

TWO YEARS AGO: A Brazilian Hummingbird

THREE YEARS AGO: A Cookbook Review

FOUR YEARS AGO: Air-Fried Carrots, Two Ways

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sweet Potato Crust Quiche

SIX YEARS AGO: Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Capers

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pea Pancakes with Herbed Yogurt

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Mushroom Stroganoff

NINE YEARS AGO: Tomato Sourdough

TEN YEARS AGO: Gamberetti con rucola e pomodori

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Flirting with Orzo

CURRY SOURDOUGH WITH SESAME SEEDS

Vadouvan Curry once again joined our sourdough bread. This time I went a little crazy and tried two new things in the same loaf. Inspired by amazing stuff I see on Instagram, I decided to use a stencil, some luster powder, a razor blade, and a little edge decoration with sesame seeds.

PAINTED CURRY SOURDOUGH WITH SESAME SEEDS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

385g white bread flour
16g spelt flour
1/2 tsp Vadouvan curry (or any curry you like)
8g salt
280g water
65g sourdough starter at 100% hydration

optional for decoration:
egg white + a little water (egg wash)
sesame seeds (I used a mixture of white and black)
luster powder + vodka

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the two types of flour, the curry and the salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup flour, you want the dough to start clearing the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky at the bottom.

Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F. Invert the dough over parchment paper, place your chosen stencil over it, and rub gently white flour on the design. Paint the details with a bright color using luster powder diluted with vodka. You need it to be a bit on the thick side, and don’t worry about precision, it will more or less mix with any flour bits around it. Do not worry. Paint a band around the perimeter of the bread with egg wash and gently press sesame seeds all over it. Slash quickly with a razor blade according to the design of your stencil, so that when it expands in the oven it won’t affect too much the design.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The trick about painting the surface of the bread is keeping in mind the color will considerably change during baking. If you start with a brown, soft red, or golden, chances are they will almost disappear once the bread bakes. So if you like some contrast, pick something that will be super bright to start with. I used a luster powder called Mexican Rose, and it is wild. But it did bake to a shade I liked and very visible in the bread. Water alone won’ t be enough to stick the sesame seeds in a defined pattern, so use egg white instead.

Next I want to try a simple design made with a razor blade and couple it with the luster powder. It was a little tricky to join the stencil (with the required extra amount of flour on the surface) with the paint. But I am still pretty happy with the way it turned out for a first time.

ONE YEAR AGO: Chocolate-Crusted Passion Fruit Tart

TWO YEARS AGO: Lemony Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Almonds

THREE YEAR AGO: Savory Oatmeal with Bacon and Cheddar

FOUR YEARS AGO: Air-Fried Carrots, Two Ways (most popular post on my blog!)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Five Minutes in L.I.T (a tour of our laboratory!)

SIX YEARS AGO: Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Capers

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pea Pancakes with Herbed Yogurt

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Mushroom Stroganoff

NINE YEARS AGO: Tomato Sourdough

TEN YEARS AGO: Gamberetti con rucola e pomodori

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Flirting with Orzo

THE MANY FACES OF BROWNIE CUPCAKES

One basic recipe, several ways to dress it up. I adapted the basic brownie and icing recipes from a version found in Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes. Clockwise from top left: Rose-Mint, Chai, Lavender and Orange-Ginger Brownie Cupcakes. I started making them in August last year and they’ve been a regular component of my weekly donations. Once iced and set, they stay good for a couple of days at room temperature.

BROWNIE CUPCAKE BASIC RECIPE
(modified from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)

1 package Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate (4oz)
1 stick (1/2 cup, 113 g) unsalted butter
265g sugar (1 + 1/3 cup)
2 room temperature eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Place 12 cupcake liners in a baking sheet, and heat the oven to 350F.

Chop the chocolate and butter in pieces, place them in a microwave-safe bowl and melt at 50% power just until the chocolate is almost fully melted. Finish melting by whisking gently until smooth. Allow it to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder. Reserve.

To the melted chocolate, add the sugar and mix with a handheld mixer, when the sugar is incorporated (it won’t be smooth), add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth, for a couple of minutes medium-speed. Gently sift the flour mixture on top, whisk just until the flour is incorporated and no dry bits can be found.

Fill each cupcake 3/4 full with the batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly moist. Cool completely before icing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ROSE AND MINT BROWNIE CUPCAKES

1/3 cup milk (you won’t use it all)
1 bag Bigelow Rose Mint Tea
1/8 tsp rose water (I used Nielsen-Massey)
180g (1 + 1/2 cup) powdered sugar

Infuse the milk with the bag of tea by bringing it almost to a full-boil in a small saucepan, turning off the heat, adding the tea bag, closing the pan and leaving undisturbed for 10 minutes. Squeeze the tea bag. If you want a little more pink color, add a touch of food gel (I used fuchsia from Sugarflair, added with a toothpick).

Place the powdered sugar on a large bowl and add half the amount of infused milk, whisking gently until fully dissolved. Adjust with enough additional milk to make a spreadable icing that will not pour freely from the sides of the cupcakes, but instead be thick enough to form a stable layer. Decorate with sprinkles, or flowers made from Royal icing or molded chocolate, as in the picture below.

CHAI BROWNIE CUPCAKES

1/3 cup milk (you won’t use it all)
1 bag Double Chai Stash Tea
180g (1 + 1/2 cup) powdered sugar
sprinkles (I used this one, a favorite)

Infuse the milk with the bag of tea by bringing it almost to a full-boil in a small saucepan, turning off the heat, adding the tea bag, closing the pan and leaving undisturbed for 10 minutes. Squeeze the tea bag to release flavor and reserve the milk.

Place the powdered sugar on a large bowl and add half the amount of infused milk, whisking gently until fully dissolved. Adjust with enough additional milk to make a spreadable icing that will not pour freely from the sides of the cupcakes, but instead be thick enough to form a stable layer. Decorate with sprinkles, Royal icing flowers, or molding chocolate details.

LAVENDER BROWNIE CUPCAKES

1/3 cup milk (you won’t use it all)
1/4 tsp dried lavender flowers
180g (1 + 1/2 cup) powdered sugar
sprinkles

Infuse the milk with the dried lavender by bringing it almost to a full-boil in a small saucepan, turning off the heat, closing the pan and leaving undisturbed for 10 minutes. Pass the milk mixture through a fine sieve to remove the lavender. Reserve the milk. If desired, add a tiny drop of purple food gel dye.

Place the powdered sugar on a large bowl and add half the amount of infused milk, whisking gently until fully dissolved. Adjust with enough additional milk to make a spreadable icing that will not pour freely from the sides of the cupcakes, but instead be thick enough to form a stable layer. Decorate with sprinkles.

ORANGE-GINGER BROWNIE CUPCAKES

1/3 cup milk (you won’t use it all)
1 bag Orange-Ginger tea (I used this one from Republic of Tea)
180g (1 + 1/2 cup) powdered sugar
sprinkles

Infuse the milk with the bag of tea by bringing it almost to a full-boil in a small saucepan, turning off the heat, adding the tea bag, closing the pan and leaving undisturbed for 10 minutes. Squeeze the tea bag to release flavor and reserve the milk. If desired, add a very tiny amount of orange food gel dye.

Place the powdered sugar on a large bowl and add half the amount of infused milk, whisking gently until fully dissolved. Adjust with enough additional milk to make a spreadable icing that will not pour freely from the sides of the cupcakes, but instead be thick enough to form a stable layer. Decorate with sprinkles.

ENJOY!

to print the basic recipe for icing, click here

Comments: My main modification of the recipe was to use the full package (4 oz) of the unsweetened chocolate, adjusting the flour and butter amounts, so that you are not left with a tiny bit of chocolate hanging around. The cupcakes bake without doming too much, perfect to have a flat layer of icing on top.

In this post I used tea to flavor most icings but you can also use orange or lemon zest, omit the decorations, or flavor the basic icing with any extract you like. They are super versatile. If you use molded chocolate to decorate and the room is too warm, the chocolate might get slightly soft, but it won’t lose its shape. To make decorations with molded chocolate I used mini silicone molds, and later painted them with luster powder + vodka.

ONE YEAR AGO: Olive Oil Brioche

TWO YEARS AGO: Coconut and Lime Macarons

THREE YEAR AGO: Flank Steak Carnitas

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sesame and Poppy Seed Sourdough

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken from Southern at Heart

SIX YEARS AGO: Lamb Shanks en Papillote with Cauliflower-Celeriac Purée

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chestnut Brownies and a Blog Award!

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Quinoa with Cider-Glazed Carrots

NINE YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday: Heirloom Tomatoes Steal the Show

TEN YEARS AGO: Pain de Provence

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf, from the Scottish Highlands



BAGHRIR: MOROCCAN SEMOLINA PANCAKES

If you don’t know Tara’s Multicultural Table, you are missing on a must-follow food blog. I am quite fond of bloggers who open my horizons, and Tara does that on a regular basis, with unusual recipes from all over the world. Indeed, a multicultural virtual experience. I have not hit these pancakes perfectly, but they were so delicious I could not wait to share. The batter needed to be slightly thinner, so that they would form a nicer looking circle as they fried. But I am calling them rustic semolina pancakes, and I hope Tara will forgive me.

BAGHRIR
(slightly modified from Tara’s Multicultural Table)

2 cups (470 milliliters) lukewarm water 105-115˚F
2 + 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
1 + 1/4 cups (210 grams) fine semolina flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder

Vegetable oil for greasing the pan

Pour the warm water into a blender and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let sit for a minute before stirring to dissolve. Allow to rest about 10 minutes, until frothy.

Add the semolina, flour, sugar, and salt to the blender with the water and yeast. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.Add the baking powder and blend again briefly until incorporated. Either leave in the blender or transfer to a large bowl and cover with a cloth. Allow to rest for 30-45 minutes. Bubbles should begin to form on the surface.

Place a nonstick pan over medium low heat. Grease with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Once heated, pour about 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) of the puffed batter into the center of the pan in a circle. Cook just until no moisture remains on the top and little holes have developed throughout the pancake. Do not flip the baghrir. Adjust the heat higher or lower as needed to prevent the bottom from burning. Remove to a serving plate and repeat with remaining batter. If you feel the batter is too thick when you fry the first one, dilute with a little water.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Tara’s version is sweet. You enjoy it with honey and almonds, as a little dessert or breakfast item. I opted for a savory version to pair with a turkey chili that is always a regular appearance in our kitchen. In the first photo above you can see how bubbly things got in that measuring cup… try not to walk away and forget all about it, or better yet, use a bigger container… As I mentioned, the batter could have been thinned out a bit so that the pancakes would end up as delicate and lacy as the ones Tara showed in her site.

Before I forget, I made half the recipe, since it was just for the two of us. I am however publishing the full version, as most people cook for larger families. Don’t forget to stop by Tara’s site and be amazed at the diversity of recipes she shared over her many years of blogging.

ONE YEAR AGO: Cauliflower for Company

TWO YEAR AGO: Coconut and Lime Macarons

THREE YEAR AGO: Flank Steak Carnitas

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sesame and Poppy Seed Sourdough

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken from Southern at Heart

SIX YEARS AGO: Lamb Shanks en Papillote with Cauliflower-Celeriac Purée

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chestnut Brownies and a Blog Award!

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Quinoa with Cider-Glazed Carrots

NINE YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday: Heirloom Tomatoes Steal the Show

TEN YEARS AGO: Pain de Provence

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf, from the Scottish Highlands