Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Red spaghetti squash hash

I'm not going to claim I knew where I was headed when I made this the other night.  It was one of those "uhhhhh what do I want for dinner ... let's see [head in fridge] ... errr... there's kale, spaghetti squash ... and beet puree, what the hell am I gonna make with this??"  I was actually surprised that I really liked the end result.  And I'm proud to say that it's February and the spaghetti squash marks the last of the CSA produce (the beets too but they were in the freezer).  Took me long enough!

I had defrosted and pureed previously roasted beets to make a recipe - Quinoa and Beet Pancakes - from a cookbook I just got, Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain.  What a great cookbook, the cakers were awesome.  You can see another blogger's result from making this recipe here - they really are beautiful pancakes.  This reminds me of red flannel hash due to the color, but is meatless and probably tastes quite different, but that's what inspired me to put poached eggs on top.  Poached eggs on top of anything generally make it awesome.   This isn't the best picture - Andy took it from his phone once we were halfway through - sorry, but it gives you an idea!
Half eaten spaghetti squash hash

serves 2-4
1 small spaghetti squash
2 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 head flowering purple kale
1/2 t. salt
4 cloves garlic
1/3 c. beet puree
1 t. thyme
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
4 eggs
2 t. vinegar (white, white wine, or apple cider)

1.   Cut squash in half, scrape out the seeds.  Place cut sides down in a microwave safe casserole with about 1/4 inch water.  If you can only fit one half cut side down, do them one at a time.  Microwave for 10 minutes on high.  Let it sit a few minutes in the microwave to cool off.  Check for doneness - WARNING - will be VERY hot, use mitts.  Microwave for additional minutes till done if necessary.  It is done when the strands come loose with a fork.
2.  When cool enough to handle, transfer strands to the casserole dish (dried) and toss with butter, salt and pepper to taste.  (You probably want to do this step when the kale is almost done)
3.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet.  Tear up kale in large bite sized pieces, put in skillet with salt, and saute till just wilted.  Add about 1/4 c. water, garlic, and cover.  Cook for about 10 minutes or till done.
4.  Add beet puree and thyme and stir till it is warm. 
5.  Have a straight sided skillet heating with about 2 inches of water and the vinegar.  When it's at a simmer, very carefully break each egg into a saucer, and use the saucer to transfer the eggs in the simmering liquid, one for each quadrant of the skillet.  I do four eggs at once in my largest skillet, but if you haven't poached eggs like this before, you might want to start with one or two so you're not worried about them bumping each other.  Monitor the heat so you're maintaining a very gentle simmer.  After 3 minutes, remove the eggs.  I use a slotted spatula for this cause I do find they occasionally are slightly stuck to the bottom of the skillet.  You may want to gently shake them or flip onto a slotted spoon to remove excess water - just be careful not to break the yolk - they're delicate!
6.  Top the hash with the eggs and parmesan, serve.  This could be breakfast for four.  Andy and I each had two eggs for dinner but did not finish the hash.  I may need to poach another egg to have with the leftovers!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pregnancy drink series: week 3, decaf chai latte

Chai is one of my favorite coffee shop drinks (since I don't really like coffee).  The trouble with chai and pregnancy is that I don't think you can really get a good estimate of how much caffeine is in it because of the variety of ways it's prepared.  Here's a list of a few brands, and how much caffeine they have per 12 ozs (numbers from and
Oregon chai - 97.5 mg
Tazo - 70 mg
Pacific chai - 100 mg
Starbucks - 75 mg
So there's a range, and there might be more of a range among brewers who don't use the chai concentrate, but rather make it from scratch (a number of coffee shops, Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants I've been to make it from scratch, and it's delicious).  I also have a feeling that coffee shops that do make it from concentrates don't really measure it, cause I've definitely had ranges of concentrations.

But anyway, the obvious answer is to make it yourself with decaf tea.  The trick is great spices, good tea, and fresh ginger.  I just got a new batch of spices from Savory Spice Shop, and they sure make a difference!  I think especially good, soft, well-crumbled stick cinnamon and cardamom that hasn't been sitting around for a year makes this really good.  The cinnamon may be hard to find.  This recipe is certainly good with some ground cinnamon or hard cassia cinnamon stick, but not quite as good.  I'm giving links in case you want to follow this recipe to a tee, both Adagio and Savory have online ordering!

Ingredients, serves 2
3 t. teaspoons loose leaf decaf black tea
5 cardamom pods, crushed or torn open with your fingernails
3 cloves
1 inch soft Ceylon cinnamon stick, crumbled
1 grind of black pepper
1 heaping t. minced fresh ginger, or about an inch roughly chopped*
1 c. water
2 c. milk or milk substitute
2 T. sugar**
0.25 t. vanilla extract

1.  Combine tea, spices, ginger, and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer, simmer for 3 minutes.
2.  Add in milk and sugar, stir to dissolve sugar, heat to steaming.
3.  Add in vanilla extract.  Strain and serve.

*The pre-minced jarred ginger you can get in a store works well here, I happened to have some, so that's where the 1 heaping teaspoon measure comes from.  I've also made it with sliced or roughly chopped fresh ginger root.  No need to peel.
**Honey and agave syrup are definitely tasty too!  I like plain sugar though.  2 T. makes the drink sweet, but not too sweet.  Less sweet than most chais I've had a coffee shops or restaurants, but it's all a matter of taste.