Archives for posts with tag: park slope food co-op

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I love tiramisu. Made of mostly mascarpone and eggs it’s light and satisfying and surprisingly easy to make. The strong coffee gives it its name, which means “pick-me-up” in Italian. I got a craving yesterday so I biked to the Park Slope Food Coop where Vermont Creamery mascarpone is only $3 for an 8-ounce container (you need two of those for this recipe).

I made tiramisu back in March for my birthday with the very simple, straightforward recipe from The Silver Spoon. (Ingredients: eggs, sugar, mascarpone, lady fingers, coffee, chocolate. That’s it.) I liked it but found the lady fingers weren’t spongy enough, it was a little too sweet, and it lacked the taste of a liqueur like rum or cognac. I rarely have liqueur in my kitchen so I used vanilla extract which isn’t quite the same but was an improvement. I’ve tweaked the recipe here and am pleased with the results.

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Tiramisu
Serves 8

2 egg whites
4 egg yolks
2/3 c powdered sugar
16 oz mascarpone cheese
7 oz lady fingers
1 c freshly brewed strong coffee, cooled
2 tbsp rum or cognac, optional*
2 oz unsweetened or semi-sweetened chocolate, grated
cocoa powder, for dusting
*If you don’t have any you can also add up to 1 tbsp good quality vanilla extract.

Brew the coffee and make sure it is room temperature or colder. Stir in the rum or cognac if you’re using. Set aside.

Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until they form stiff peaks. In a separate, large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and fluffy.

Place the mascarpone in a separate bowl and whisk with a fork until it’s a little lighter and fluffier. Then fold the mascarpone into the egg-yolk-and-sugar mixture. Then gently fold in the egg whites.

In a small rectangular or square serving dish (8 x 8 inches is good, or thereabouts) place a layer of lady fingers and soak with half the coffee mixture. You can spoon or brush the coffee on. Spoon on a layer of the mascarpone mixture then sprinkle with the grated chocolate. Place another layer of lady fingers on top then soak with the remaining coffee. Add another layer of the mascarpone and finish by dusting with cocoa powder. Chill in the refrigerator for at least a few hours before serving.

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So I was at my happy place yesterday afternoon (the PSFC, which you should know by now is the Park Slope Food Cult), slicing a wheel of Humboldt Fog, bantering with my fellow workers about topics ranging from: if the quality of red meat continues to improve with grass-fed beef and small farmers, will overall meat consumption rise? How to make french toast with tofu instead of bread (tell ya later). And using Tuesday’s general meeting on the Israeli boycott as a venue for one’s performance art. In other words, we were a parody of ourselves, what Samantha Bee called “a diverse group of NPR listeners.” (If you haven’t seen the Daily Show clip on the co-op, click here.)

My little crew of Week-A Friday food processing workers is a delightful bunch of folks including the NYC Bikram Yoga champion; a journalist exposing a cover-up at Fukushima; an event planner organizing a 1,500-person NYC Easter egg hunt next weekend; a midwife; writing professor; and metal-worker jewelry designer. We come together once every four weeks to wrap cheese, package dried mango, and debate things like the Pfizer birth control recall and the best new burger joint in the Slope, for precisely 2 hours and 45 minutes.

We started talking about almond milk and one woman mentioned making her own. I’ve been wanting to try this since I go through about a quart a week and, well, generally prefer making to buying. She told me her method, I committed it to memory, and after our shift I bought about one pound of raw, unsalted almonds, the only ingredient you really need. This is the easiest thing I’ve made for this blog yet (except maybe for one of my first posts, last April, on Vermont Iced Coffee.)

The benefits of homemade almond milk are more about flavor than cost effectiveness. In fact it may even cost more to make it yourself, even when buying from the co-op’s bulk bins, but not much. The price I paid was $4.21 per pound (for organic), and you need about 1 pound of almonds to yield one quart of almond milk, whereas buying a pre-made quart is usually $2 to $3. But the flavor is incomparable. This homemade stuff is rich, creamy, not watery, with a very distinct almond flavor. Buy your almonds from a place with high turnover. Nuts go rancid rather quickly; they should be as fresh as possible, I wouldn’t really bother with stale almonds. The resulting flavor is so good, and texture so smooth, I will definitely finish this quart before next week.

One more thing, in order to do this, you need a powerful blender, preferably one with at least 1,000 watts of power. A VitaMix is ideal, although expensive I know (but such a good investment); I use the Ninja blender I got a few months ago, which makes amazing green smoothies and blends everything from ice to vegetables in seconds.

You can adjust the amount of water in the recipe below depending on how thick you’d like the results. These proportions will give you a creamy-ish milk but not all that thick. Get blending!

Homemade Almond Milk

1 pound (about 3 cups) raw, unsalted almonds
3 cups water (for soaking) plus 2 more cups
a few drops of vanilla extract
tiny pinch of salt (optional)

Place the almonds in a bowl or pot and add the 3 cups of water. Cover with a lid, and let soak for at least 12 hours.

Place the almonds and their soaking liquid in a blender and blend until creamy. Halfway through blending, add the vanilla and about 2 more cups of water, gradually. This will take anywhere between, say, one and two minutes depending on your blender.

Line a large bowl with cheesecloth (or, I used a reusable cloth produce bag) and place the contents of the blender (liquid, almond pulp, and all) into the cheesecloth or bag, over the bowl. Strain the mixture into the bowl, squeezing all the liquid out. You’ll be left with quite a bit of almond pulp – I’m taking suggestions on what to do with this since it seems like a shame to just throw out.

Ode to Milk Thistle Farm – paying tribute by using their old glass bottle to store my almond milk. (I mention here how they sadly went out of business recently.)

I so loved my breakfast this morning I wanted to share. I had pseudocereal. At least, that’s an official unofficial term for the crop-like grain known to us as quinoa (pronounced keen-wa).

I first started eating quinoa back in 2005 when I was a cook at Plantation Farm Camp in Cazadero, California. There we would serve it to the kids for lunch, at room temperature, usually with some chopped nuts and dried cranberries. The grain itself has a hearty, nutty flavor, and takes on whatever tastes you add to it, much like rice.

I picked up some red quinoa at the Park Slope Food Co-op this past Friday after my shift and decided to make it this morning for breaky rather than microwave cold cereal¬†as I reported doing recently. It’s as easy to make as oatmeal. You can basically use a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa; you bring the water to a boil, with the quinoa already in the pot, reduce heat to simmer, cook for 10-15 minutes on low, low heat, then turn the heat off and let it sit for 5 minutes before fluffing and eating.

Breakfast can get so redundant and boring I’m trying to spice things up a little. I’m usually quite hungry when I wake up so like to eat something that’s gonna fill me up and tide me over til lunch. Whole grains are our best friend in the morning, and quinoa is no exception. It’s packed with protein, manganese, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus.

You can add anything at all to it that you’d like: dried fruit (during or after cooking), chopped nuts, sea salt, butter, soy sauce, olive oil, milk. I bet some bonito flakes with a little soy sauce would be delicious. Or for something a little sweeter, maple syrup and almond milk. Go crazy. Have fun. This is breakfast after all.

Side note: What’s funny about all this is just this weekend I was telling a friend I’d never start photographing something so banal as my breakfast and start posting it on my blog. But breakfast just got too good. Happy Monday!

Monday Morning Quinoa

Serves 2

1/2 c quinoa
1 c water
2 tbsp chopped apricots (or other dried fruit)
1 tbsp flax oil (or olive oil)
sea salt

Combine the quinoa, water, and dried fruit in a medium-sized pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, leaving the lid on. Go take a shower while it cooks for 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let sit for 5-10 minutes with the lid on while you get dressed, then fluff with a fork before serving. Drizzle the oil and add a pinch of sea salt.

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