quick recipe

How ya like them apples?

Valentine’s Day. It’s a thing. If you’re not part of a couple, you can either choose to ignore it, wallow in your singlehood, or celebrate not having to feel any obligation to do anything at all about it. If you’re part of a couple, there’s generally a range from, “Oh geez. This again?” to, “Gimme all the romance! All of it! Now!”

The boyfriend and I are somewhere more towards the low energy end of the spectrum, but we usually end up caving and at least getting cards or something. If you’re like us, and you want to acknowledge the day, but would like to keep the Fuss Factor to a minimum, you might enjoy this little treat.

This is what would happen if your typical Rice Crispy treat was us, and decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It takes a little extra effort to dress up, but doesn’t go too far out of its way to make it a whole production. For this version of what is an infamously low maintenance dessert, we’re going to do two things to make it just a little more special– we’re going to brown the butter, and we’re going to make a topping. The brown butter gives it a nutty flavor, and makes it a little crispier. As the boyfriend describes it, “More like a baked good.” The topping, a very simple apple pie type concoction, spices things up just a little, and gives the whole she-bang another layer of flavor.

Equipment
Large sauce pan
Measuring cups and spoons
Mixing spoon
9″ x 11″  baking pan
Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
Small bowl
Knife
Cutting board
Saute pan

Ingredients
For the treats:
4 tablespoons butter
10 oz (one package of the large ones) marshmallows
6 cups puffed rice cereal
Pan spray to coat the baking pan

Melt the butter over medium heat in the large sauce pan, swirling occasionally, until the butter becomes a golden brown color. The solids in the butter will brown and sink to the bottom. Strain the butter through the strainer or cheesecloth into the small bowl to remove the solids, then add the butter back to the pan along with the marshmallows. Stir until the marshmallows have melted completely into the butter.

BLOG_MELTY
Then, add the rice cereal and stir to coat. Pour into the baking pan and press to make sure it’s evenly distributed. Set aside.

For the topping:
4-5 small apples (enough to make one cup), peeled and diced
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Melt the butter and the brown sugar together over medium heat until the sugar is melted, stirring constantly. Add the cinnamon and continue to stir until the mixture becomes a loose caramel. It might look a little dry, but don’t worry, once you add the apples it’ll loosen up a little. Add diced apples and stir until the apples are well coated and cooked through.

BLOG_TOPPING
Spread the apple topping over the treats and cut into whatever shape you want.

Alternatively, you could spoon the apple topping over each treat individually when you serve them, if you want to be a little more fancy pants about it all.

BLOG_FINAL

From start to finish, this shouldn’t take you more than half an hour to put together. I recommend ordering pizza or Chinese food, opening a bottle of wine, and making these while you wait for the food to arrive, but if you just don’t give a crap, grab a pile of napkins and a fork and go to town. I’m not judging!

Simple, Soulful Soup

I don’t know about you, but this time of year for me just screams for soup. All kinds. Veggie, chicken, beef… Asian, Irish, or Latin. I’m not picky. I just want a big bowl of something hot and flavorful.

This soup definitely fits the bill, in my opinion. It’s not your standard soup, though. I learned how to make it last quarter in school when we were studying the cuisine of China. It’s called Spinach Velvet Soup, and when made correctly, it really lives up to its name. If you like egg drop soup, and you like spinach, this will be right up your alley. It has ginger, which to me always says “restorative,” since it’s good for all sorts of things, from nausea to inflammation, and you can certainly add more ginger than the recipe calls for if you really want to give it a boost. You could also add diced Asian chilies as a garnish if you wanted to amp up the cold and inflammation fighting power of this soup.

Just a note… this soup comes together really fast, so I recommend having all your prep done and liquids measured out ahead of time so you don’t get stuck on a step (especially the last few) and risk having the soup get too thick.

BLOG_Prep
Equipment
:

Knife and cutting board
Measuring spoons
Large measuring cup plus a 1/4 cup measuring cup
Small mixing bowl
Grater or ginger board
Small pot for blanching the spinach
at least a 3 quart pot for cooking the soup
Whisk
Cloth kitchen towel for squeezing the water out of the spinach

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh spinach leaves, loosely packed
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 egg whites
2 quarts plus 1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 large knob of fresh ginger from which you will extract 1 tablespoon ginger juice (this can be retrieved by grating the ginger and then squeezing it in a coffee filter to retain the juice)
2 tablespoons diced ham, 1/4″ dice (optional if you want to make this soup vegetarian)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and (white, if you have it) pepper, to taste

Remove the stems from the spinach (or just use baby spinach, because those stems are tender enough to keep), rinse and drain. Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the sugar and the spinach, stirring until the water comes back up to a boil. Immediately drain the spinach and run cold water over it to stop the cooking.

Squeeze the spinach through the kitchen towel to get out as much of the liquid as you can. Finely julienne the spinach. Do not use a blender.

BLOG_spinach

Beat the egg whites with 1 tablespoon water until smooth but not foamy.

Mix the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup of the stock.

Heat the rest of the stock over high heat until it boils, then reduce the heat to medium. Add half the ham (if you’re using it) and the ginger juice and cook it for about 4 minutes. Turn the heat back up to high and add the spinach, stirring until the stock comes back up to a boil.

Season the soup to taste, then add the cornstarch/stock mixture and stir until the soup is creamy and slightly thickened.

Take the pot off the heat and slowly swirl in your egg whites. DO NOT STIR for about 30 seconds to allow the whites to set, then stir gently to mix them into the soup. Add the sesame and vegetable oil.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

To serve, garnish with the remaining ham if you like, or some diced chilies or whatever you think looks pretty on top.

BLOG_feature

This soup doesn’t really freeze well, so just make enough to serve right away. The good news is that there’s not a ton of prep, and, as I mentioned,  it comes together really fast so making it isn’t such a pain that doing it to order is a big deal.

Enjoy!

Don’t forget, I’m doing the drawing for the Crisp™ paring knife on Wednesday. Check out this post for details on how to enter.