SNOW DAY COOKING: Marshmallows, and crackers, and soup, oh my!

We are snowed in. Snowmageddon 2017. Helena hails. Williamsburg wonderland. A foot of snow! You get the picture. Or, if not, see below. Ok, I’ll admit that with the possibility of being stuck indoors looming, I began plotting what I might cook. And these are things you can do anytime you’re stuck at home because the ingredients are either simple and short or can be modified easily.

Let’s start with the most fun: MARSHMALLOWS!  And, this is a great recipe for kids in the kitchen.

Ingredients list: water, cane sugar, powdered sugar, gelatin, salt, vanilla extract.

Granted, you may not have a few tablespoons of gelatin around but you can always put it on your “must trek through the snow to get to the store for wine, toilet paper, and gelatin” list.

Simple steps:

  1. Coat a small square pan with powdered sugar. Glass or metal will work but be generous with the powder sugar coating. Use a sift or sieve to ensure an even dusting.
  2. Mix two tablespoons of gelatin with 1/2 cup of cool water in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Over medium heat, dissolve 2 cups of cane sugar in a 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. Use a whisk to aid in process.
  4. When sugar is fully dissolved, add the gelatin and bring all to a boil.
  5. Promptly remove from heat and pour sugar and gelatin into a mixing bowl and let stand for several minutes to cool a bit.
  6. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixer on high until soft and fluffy. This will take a while, nearly 15 minutes. It will be thick like fluff but not as tight as a regular marshmallow because it will need to dry out first.
  7. Pour fluffy mixture into prepared pan; it will be about 1/2 inch thick.
  8. Set to cool and dry out for at least two hours; overnight will work too but you may wish to cover with a towel.
  9. Loosen the edge  and transfer to cutting board.  Do so by either flipping over and coaxing the edge with a knife and/or by grabbing a loosened edge and pulling it out in one piece. The marshmallow will be exceedingly forgiving.
  10. Cut into .5-1 inch pieces, roll in powdered sugar, and enjoy!!!!!! Alone or on your hot chocolate:)

Cracking up with homemade CRACKERS

Have you ever noticed how expensive those “artisan” crackers can be? The minimum of $4.99 with a maximum of $15.99 or more. But homemade crackers are easy easy easy and tasty tasty tasty. I took some time during Snowmageddon 2017 to whip some up and everyone was happy with some extra warm crispy goodness. And, we were looking for a break from our marshmallow sugar rushes.

Ingredients: flour (home milled when possible), water, olive oil, baking powder, sea salt, rosemary, grated parmesan. That is it!

Base recipe: Dry ingredients of 1 3/4 cups flour mixed with 1 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder. Add wet ingredients of 1/2 cup water and 1/3 olive oil and mix thoroughly. For this batch, I also added a tablespoon of rosemary. You can add any spice you think would be good.

Separate the combined dough into six even pieces, ball up each, then roll one at a time to a thin layer, as thin as you can get it. Start by rolling it out on a floured surfaced then transferring it to parchment to finish off the thinning. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, more crushed rosemary, and grated parmesan. Gently press your toppings into the dough to ensure adherence. Bake one or two prepared cracker doughs (depending on size and space) on parchment for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. Keep an eye on the first batch to be sure the temperature and timing is correct, which will depend on dough thinness and oven heat.

You can check out some great cracker recipes from Williams Sonoma here, including  one for spicy jack cheese crackers!

Finally, the old standby for a snow day: SOUP (WITH CHICKEN).

I don’t have anything so interesting to say about making soup today except here’s your chance to empty that fridge of those vegetables you’ve been meaning to eat.Today we used two 32 ounce boxes of vegetable stock, potatoes, carrots, onion, one can of Trader Joes fire roasted tomatoes,and frozen corn plus salt, pepper, and oregano to taste.

Because we have one vegetarian currently in the household, chicken was prepared separately. The chicken preparation is worth reporting in detail because finally we have found a no-fail succulent chicken recipe and are willing to spill the beans.

BEST CHICKEN BREAST

One antibiotic free (organic preferred) chicken breast thoroughly thawed. I prefer a warm bath (who doesn’t) for around 30 minutes to move the thawing process along. One tablespoon olive oil to two tablespoons Chinese spices (or your desired spices), plus salt and pepper as desired.

Four steps:

  1. Clean your chicken breast and slice down the middle.
  2. Prepare your paste using the olive oil and spices desired. You can use any spices and in any amount you like essentially. You just need to end up with a paste thick enough to adhere to the chicken. Again, we recommend one tablespoon olive oil to two tablespoon spices plus salt and pepper.
  3. Coat the chicken with the paste and cook on parchment covered sheet for 30 minutes at 370 degrees. That’s right 370 degrees. And be sure your oven is preheated. After 30 minutes slice into the thickest part of one of the breast to ensure it is cooked throughout (see image at right below).
  4. Delicious: enjoy!
foodprocess.org: forget processed food, get a food process
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