Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Magic Brownies & Condiments (not at the same time!)

You remember these Magic Brownie Bars I mentioned earlier, right? So I ended up making them for the also aforementioned BBQ at my friend's house. And they were, well, magical. Seriously, putting a layer of macaroon on top of a brownie - pure genius!

This was my first time making a paleofied baked good where the cake was mostly dates. I found the process a little fussy, for lack of a better word, but now that I've done it, I think I can improve the process a bit. Most notably, I read a tip to soak the dates in hot water, then drain before food processing to make creating the paste easier. The surprising thing to me though was the texture. These have a very airy, cake-like texture. I was expecting something much more dense and "wet" and may have overcooked them a little as a result so next time I will shoot for a few minutes less. I will also melt the macaroon ingredients without the coconut first, then mix the coconut in once those are well blended the next time I make these. And, rest assured, there will be a next time!

On a totally separate note, what's a girl to do when she still can't workout and has nothing on the agenda for the evening? Getting caught up on the budget is probably the correct answer, but that didn't sound fun so instead I decided to take advantage of the fact that my blender-hating puppy was having a sleepover with her best bud and make condiments. I had a pound of ground beef that needed to be used up so last night I did everything to make a meatloaf except actually cooking it. I minced some onion and a little green apple in the food processor, then added an egg, s & p, and mixed that all into the meat, formed it into a loaf, wrapped it in saran wrap and stuck it in the fridge. A basic meatloaf like this just screams for Heinz ketchup (hello, Pittsburgh girl here). Unfortunately, even the "simple" Heinz that's made with actual sugar instead of HFCS is very high in sugars so tonight, while the meatloaf was cooking in the oven, I set to making my own paleo ketchup.

I started with a recipe from my Primal Blueprint Healthy Sauces, Dressings, and Toppings cookbook and played with it as I went. In the end, I think I managed to get the zippiness that's characteristic of Heinz, but not much else. Unfortunately unless I want to defeat the purpose and add a ton of sweetener (albeit "natural" sweetener), my ketchup just isn't going to taste as sweet. And using tomato paste was a bad call. It's just a totally different beast than the cooked down tomatoes that go into Heinz. What I created is passable, but don't be surprised when you see a blog post about barbeque sauce in the near future. :P

One condiment I do care more about making myself and am actually successful at is mayo. Store bought mayo is generally made with canola and/or soybean oils, which like commercially raised meats have an unhealthy ratio of omega-6's to omega-3's so while I will occasionally use store bought organic mayo for convenience I prefer to have homemade on hand. The things I think are key for successfully making mayo at home?

1. Mix a little bit of very cold water into your egg yolk and acid before you start adding the oil (a ratio of 1 t of water to 1 egg yolk should work).
2. When you add the oil, go SLOW at first. If you think you can't go any slower, go slower. Like one drop at a time slow.
3. When the emulsion starts to actually look like mayo (you'll see it start to lighten in color as it builds in volume, but it will still be yellow, then just when you think it's never going to happen, it will start to look creamy and lighten in color), you can go faster. I use a hand mixer and just pour a thin stream right in between the 2 beaters. When I start to see streams of oil appearing in the mayo, I'll stop pouring for a second and give the bowl a few good swirls with the beaters then go back to adding the oil.
4. Make a double batch. It doesn't seem to take any longer to get to #3 above whether you use 2 yolks or one so you might as well be efficient and make more rather than less. I use a ratio of 3/4 c of sunflower oil to 1 egg yolk.

So what do you guys think I should do with all of this ketchup & mayo?

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