Tag Archives: Crunch

Crunchy Green Beans2

625 sqIf the view outside your window is anything like mine, you may be wondering if winter will ever end.icicles 2Hey, don’t get me wrong. I love fall root vegetables as much as or even more than the average joe out there. I mean, they really are the unsung superstars of winter produce. There is no end to the culinary magic that you can perform with carrots, parsnips, squash and potatoes. But seriously, I am sick of roasting, mashing, sauteeing and frying those suckers.

I am longing for something fresh and green and crunchy. I am craving baby green peas. Those tiny swollen little pods that, when shucked, give birth to tiny green peas. I miss that satisfying little pop when you bite into them. I am longing for local asparagus. Those grassy sweet spears that tell me spring is here. Sadly, those first green shoots of asparagus have yet to spring forth from the frozen ground and there are no fresh peas ready to pop anywhere near where I am any time soon .

So, it’s green beans to the rescue. Although they are not local , they will stand in as a green crunchy substitute until I can get my hands on the first produce of spring.Green beans in colanderThis green bean recipe is called Crunchy Green Beans2, because the beans get added crunch from two different sources. The first is from toasted hazelnuts. I just love that slightly bitter tanic zing you get when you first crunch a toasted hazelnut between your teeth. Then there is a follow up flavour of slightly browned butter. So complex for such a little nut.

The second crunch source is Panko breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs, if you are not familiar with them are special Japanese breadcrumbs. The biggest difference between panko and regular breadcrumbs is that panko is made from bread without crusts. The crustless bread is coarsely ground into airy, large flakes that give fried foods a light, crunchy coating. The flakes tend to stay crispier longer than standard breadcrumbs because they don’t absorb as much grease.toasting panko and hazelnutsPlease, take the time to salt the water before boiling your green beans. I added about 2 tablepoons of kosher salt to the water. This does not make the beans overly salty, it just seasons them perfectly so they do not taste bland. You can not get the same effect from salting after cooking. Please salt the waterboiling beansAfter boiling for several minutes, give your beans an ice water bath. I just place the colander of drained beans right into a large bowl of ice water. Once they have cooled, just lift the colander up and leave all the ice cubes behind in the bowl.  No need to fish ice cubes out of your green beans.chill in ice bathSome butter or olive oil, or a little of both is added to the toasted crumbs and nuts and the blanched beans get a toss in all that crunchy goodness until they are heated through. tossingHot or at room temperature, these are a little bit salty, a lot crunchy and so satisfying.ready 1

Click here to print recipe for Crunchy Green Beans2

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Snap Crackle Pop Biscotti

One of the things I love best about blogging is connecting with other like-minded food obsessed folks. These are my people, they speak my language. Not only do they share my passions, but they share their ideas and always give credit and a huge shout-out of love and support to those that inspired them. It’s a wonderful freaking mutual admiration society. Food bloggers are generous of spirit. They are excited by what they discover and rather than hoard this new knowledge, they want to share it.

The inspiration for this blog came from Jayne Maynard’s blog, What’s for Dinner. She blogged about these crispy crunch chocolate chip cookies she had created. Jayne was inspired by a chocolate chip cookie with Rice Krispies in it that a bakery in her hometown made. She could not seem to get the cookies quite as crispy as they did. it was bugging her. Then she had her eureka moment when she remembered Christina Tosi, the genius behind Momofuko Milk Bar, and her brilliant creation of “The Crunch”.

Basically, Christina takes different cereals (Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes or Captain Crunch or Fruity Pebbles), mixes them with milk powder, a bit of sugar, melted butter and salt and bakes it at a low temperature which yields a perfect balance of sweet, salt and caramelized crunch in every bite. The melted butter acts as the glue to hold it all together and the milk powder coats everything and adds a bit of extra sweetness. She uses “The Crunch” as an addition to pie crusts, cookies, cakes and every other imaginable sweet out there.

Jayne mixed up a batch of “Crispy Crunch” (Rice Krispies baked with milk powder, melted butter, sugar and salt) added it to some chocolate chip cookie dough and arrived at the cookies she was dreaming about.

I was curious to see what would happen if I added the crunch to something already crunchy, like Biscotti. Would Crunch + Extra Crunch be amazing?

I started by mixing up a batch of Rice Krispie Crunch.

Golden brown and gorgeously caramelized once out of the oven, this is some pretty addictive stuff.

Butter and sugar get creamed together. Add eggs and vanilla.

Flour, baking powder and salt round out the dry ingredients. I added some toasted slivered almonds along with the Rice Krispie Crunch, because, really, you can never have enough crunch! This is a wet and sticky dough. You will need some extra flour for your hands and counter as you shape logs. I formed 4 logs, each about 9 inches long, 1 inch wide and 1 1/2 inches high. Place 2 logs on each parchment lined baking sheet.

After 25 minutes in a 300° F oven, they will look like this:

Turn down the oven to 275° F and let biscotti loaves cool for about 30 minutes. Slice on the diagonal about 1/2 inch wide, using a serrated knife. Place cut side up back onto parchment lined baking sheet. Dust with cinnamon and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.

While traditional biscotti typically contain very little fat, this recipe uses a full cup of butter. They are firm and crisp like biscotti should be, but not at all dense and heavy. Because of the extra butter, they have a wonderful light and airy texture.

Click here to print recipe for Snap Crackle and Pop Biscotti.

Marble Matzoh Crunch

This week in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge I am scheduled to bake Stollen.  However, it’s Passover this week and I’m not eating bread.  So in honour of this holiday I offer my favourite Passover treat, “Marble Matzoh Crunch.”  The original recipe comes from Montreal baker extraordinaire Marcy Goldman.  Her cookbook Better Baking.com is one of my go to standards.

For those unfamiliar with matzoh, it is a cracker-like unleavened bread made of white plain flour and water. The dough is pricked in several places and not allowed to rise before or during baking, thereby producing a hard, flat bread.  Matzoh is the substitute for bread during Passover, when bread and other leavened products are not permitted. There are two major explanations for eating matzoh. One is historic and the other is symbolic.

Historically, Passover is a commemoration of the exodus of the Jewish people from a life of slavery in Egypt. The Israelites left Egypt in such a hurry, they could not wait for their bread dough to rise. The resulting product was matzoh.  The other reason for eating matoh is symbolic.  On the one hand, matzoh symbolizes redemption and freedom, but it is also known as poor man’s bread.  So it serves as a reminder to be humble, and to not forget what life was like as slaves of the Egyptians. Also, leavening of the bread symbolizes corruption and pride as leaven “puffs up”. Eating the “bread of affliction” is both a lesson in humility and an act that enhances one’s appreciation of freedom.

All that history and symbolism for a little cracker!  There are those that compare eating matzoh to cardboard.  I wholeheartedly disagree.  I love Matzoh.  Perhaps it’s because the rest of the year, for health reasons, I spread butter and jam so thinly on my toast  I can barely taste it.  However at Passover I spread both butter and jam on with reckless abandon.  Passover is my excuse to consume butter and jam and matzoh is the perfect vehicle for allowing me to do it.

Marcy Goldman’s Matzoh Crunch is guaranteed to convert any matzoh hater into a matzoh worshipper.  You don’t even need to be Jewish to love this treat.

Ingredients:

6 slices matzoh
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or kosher for Passover margarine
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 generous cups finely chopped bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 12 ounces)
1 1/2 cups white chocolate, finely chopped (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350º F.  Cover an 18 x 13 inch rimmed cookie sheet with foil and then cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper. Do not leave this step out or you will be cursing me when it comes time to cleanup!  Cover the parchment paper evenly with the matzoh.  You will have to trim some of the matzoh with a sharp knife to make it fit into a flat even layer.  You will have some matzoh scraps left over.  Slather with butter and jam and eat.

2.  In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, add brown sugar and butter or margarine.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture comes to a boil.  This will take about 2-4 minutes.  At one point it will look like the butter is separating from the sugar and it will appear to be an oily mess.  Just keep stirring, it will come together again.  Once mixture comes to a boil, keep stirring for about another 3 minutes.   Carefully pour caramel onto matzoh.  Using a metal spatula, spread it out into an even layer.

3.  Place baking sheet into oven and bake for about 12 minutes until the caramel topping is golden brown and bubbling.

4.  While caramel is baking chop white chocolate into small pieces.  Place in glass measuring cup and microwave on medium power for 2 minutes.  When you remove chocolate from microwave, it will look like the chocolate is not finished melting.  Take a clean dry spoon and stir white chocolate.  It will continue to melt as you stir.  Pour melted white chocolate into a disposable plastic piping bag.  The easiest way to do this, if you are alone, is to place the piping bag in a large glass or pitcher and fold down the top.  Pour in white chocolate and let sit until you are ready to use it.


5.  Remove caramel covered matzoh from oven after about 12 minutes when it is golden brown and bubbly.  Place pan on a wire cooling rack on the counter.  Immediately sprinkle caramel matzoh with chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips. 

 

6.   Wait for a few minutes until chocolate has a chance to soften.  Then, using a metal spatula, spread chocolate into an even layer.

7.  Now comes the fun part!  Making a marble design with the white chocolate.  Twist the top of the piping bag closed and using a sharp scissors, cut a small tip off the end of the bag.  Starting in one corner of the pan, pipe white chocolate in a zig zag pattern.  Then starting in the opposite corner, pipe a zig zag pattern in the opposite direction.  Using the sharp tip of a wooden skewer, drag it through the wet white and dark chocolate making a nice design. You can either drag skewer in a circular pattern or go in straight lines.  Below is a video of me demonstrating the process:

8.  While chocolate is still wet, sprinkle with sea salt.  Chill pan for several hours until chocolate is firm.  Peel off foil and parchment paper and place marble matzoh crunch on a large cutting board. Using a very large sharp knife, cut matzoh into large squares.  For an 18 x 13 inch pan, I usually get about 18 pieces.  Store matzoh crunch in an airtight container in the fridge.  It keeps well for about 5 days. (That is as long as no one else in the house knows it’s there!)

For an equally delicious variation, instead of marbling with white chocolate,  sprinkle dark chocolate with toasted chopped unblanched almonds (about 1 1/2 cups).  Or try milk chocolate and almonds, or dark chocolate and dried cherries, or white chocolate and chopped pistachios or macadamia nuts.  The possibilities are endless.  Have fun!

 

 

Lanie’s Crunchy Coleslaw

 

My friend Lanie served this delicious salad to me, last summer.  The original recipe comes from Susie Fishbein’s book, “Kosher by Design”. This is my adaptation.  The recipe makes more dressing and crunch mixture than you will need.  Extra dressing keeps well in the fridge for 2 weeks.  The extra crunch mixture will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature.

Crunch mixture
1 package of Ramen noodle soup (discard spice packet)
½ cup sesame seeds
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup honey roasted sunflower seeds

Dressing
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
¾ cup sugar
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Coleslaw
½ purple cabbage, thinly sliced
½ Savoy or Napa green cabbage
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, diced
½ cup dried cherries

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Break the Ramen noodles into small pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add sesame seeds and slivered almonds  to bowl and toss to mix.  Transfer contents of bowl to a large baking sheet and bake in oven for about 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool. When cool mix in the honey roasted sunflower seeds.

 2.  Place ingredients for dressing in a large jar and shake well to combine.

 3.  Place cabbages, green onion, celery and dried cherries in a large serving bowl.  Toss to combine.  Just before serving, add about ¼ cup dressing and 1 cup of crunch mixture to coleslaw.  Toss well to combine.  Taste and add additional dressing, salt and pepper, if desired.