Tangy Strawberry, Cucumber & Avocado Salsa

Sweet, tangy, spicy, and creamy- the ingredients for Strawberry Salsa.

Sweet, tangy, spicy, creamy- the ingredients for Strawberry, Cucumber & Avocado Salsa.

This light and tangy salsa is the perfect treat just as the temperatures start to climb towards summer and fresh organic produce becomes readily available. The combination of the sweet strawberries and organic honey are balanced by the acid of the lime and the heat of the jalapeno. It is as if Mother Nature welcomes you to Spring with every delectable bite. This salsa does not keep well so make sure to make only what you can use immediately; actually no matter how much you make there probably won’t be any left anyway.

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh picked strawberries from Twin Oaks Fun Farm, diced
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 cup organic cucumber, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon lime zest
Juice from one lime
2 tablespoons organic Orange Blossom Honey from Hidden Springs Farm, LLC
1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (seeded for a milder flavor, or leave seeds in for extra heat)
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
salt to taste

Chop strawberries into 1 cm cubes (approximately) and place in bowl. Zest the lime and place to the side. Juice the lime into a separate bowl and mix with the organic honey. Pour over the diced strawberries, toss and let mixture stand to macerate. Next, chop the cucumber, avocado and the jalapeno into 1 cm cubes and place into serving bowl. Add the strawberries and about half of the lime juice/honey mixture; too much and the salsa will get runny. Toss with cracked black pepper and salt to taste. Chill for 2-4 hours. Enjoy.

Enjoy this salsa with chips or with grilled chicken or seafood!

Enjoy this salsa with chips or with grilled chicken or seafood!

The key to this dish is to make sure all of the ingredients are chopped to the same size; too small and you will lose the various textures, too large and the flavors will not combine as well.

Adapted from a recipe at Better Homes and Gardens.

Bake Your Ale Off: Beer Bread

Beer Bread with Chevre and Radish

Beer Bread with Chevre and Radish

I’ll admit it, I’m afraid of bread. And no, I’m not a no-carb fanatic who only eats tacos made with lettuce leaves and pizza made with cauliflower (yes, that’s a thing). I love to eat bread; it’s the making of the bread that scares me. Baking in general tends to not be my thing. It just seems so…severe. Measurements and timing must be exact or everything is ruined!!! Ugh, no thanks. Chill out, baking, let’s relax and have some fun!

Enter beer bread. Yes, you read that right. BEER. BREAD. Two of the greatest things on the planet, together, creating an even greater thing. This bread is so easy to make; even I have the patience for it. There’s no yeast involved, no kneading or waiting for the precious baby dough to rise. You just mix together a few ingredients, throw ’em in the oven, wait 40 minutes or so, and then you have glorious, glorious beer bread.

Sift, pour, mix, done.

Sift, pour, mix, done.

The type of beer you use will affect a few things with this bread. One, the flavor. I typically make this with a light, easy-drinker without too many overpowering flavors, like Miller High Life or Yuengling Lager. The bread comes out with a subtle beer flavor, but it mostly just tastes like bread. Awesome bread. If you want a more distinctively flavored beer bread, you can use a more distinctively flavored beer, like a Guinness or maybe a spiced beer around the holidays. Do you homebrew? Well now you can drink and eat your yeasty creations. Just keep in mind that the heavier the beer, the longer the baking time will be. For this loaf, I used Bell’s Oberon, a wheat ale, and it lent such a nice, bright, almost citrusy flavor to the bread. So great for Spring with some chevre and sliced radishes from the farmers’ market.

Beer Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 Tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • One 12 oz can or bottle of beer (any beer)
  • 3 tablespoons organic butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Sift well with fork, or sift through a fine mesh sieve. Pour in beer, stir until a stiff batter is formed, but don’t over mix (best to just use your hands). Scrape dough into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Melt butter and brush/pour across top of dough. This is optional, but it really adds to the savory crunch of the crust.
  4. Bake for about 40 or so minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Bake time will vary with beer type.

Feel free to experiment with different types of beer. This bread is also very receptive to add-ins, like herbs, garlic, and cheese. Throw in about a tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary, and your house will soon smell like…the best thing ever. The final product is great for toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade croutons…the list goes on. So crack open a few cold ones and get baking.

Gai Pad Krapow: Real Bangkok Style Thai Basil Chicken

Gai Pad Krapow

Gai Pad Krapow
Photo credit: avlxyz / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

This delectable recipe comes to us from Greg Richter at PurGro, the makers of the 1K4 Digital Ballast and the GroBot Evolution. Aside from spending his time designing cutting-edge environmental controllers and electronics, Greg is also an accomplished pilot, farmer, beekeeper, and chef. His business requires frequent travel around the globe, and the last time he was in Thailand he convinced a street vendor to teach him to make Gai Pad Krapow or Thai Basil Chicken. The following recipe is the “Bangkok Suk’vit Soi (11th Street) quick and dirty method”…not the haute approach that some elegant restaurants might use.

Gai Pad Krapow

4 cups fresh organic Thai basil; Italian basil or Genovese basil may also be used, but if using Holy basil (Thai hot basil) use only 2 cups
4 cloves garlic
6 green chili peppers
4 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar or lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1.5 lbs free range chicken (deboned) *thighs work the best
3 organically grown shallots
Oil for frying

Mix the fish sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, and sugar in a bowl and place to the side. Place the basil, garlic, chilies, shallots, and chicken into a food processor and using the pulse setting chop the ingredients until they are a fine chunky mush…if it looks like soup then you over-chopped.

Heat oil in a wok until the oil is almost smoking. Stir fry the chicken mixture, adding just enough sauce to keep it moist while cooking. When chicken is almost done cooking add the remainder of the sauce and simmer for 3 minutes or until sauce thickens a bit. Serve over rice or rice noodles.

Bangkok

Bangkok at Sunset
The Home of this Authentic Dish

Stealthy Mac & Cheese: Comfort Food with a Secret

Delectable Mac & Cheese

Delectable Mac & Cheese

There are some foods, some dishes that are just WORTH IT. Worth the effort, worth the calories, worth the guilt the next day. Most of us here at Atlantis Hydroponics try to be pretty mindful of the food we put into our bodies. Lots of big green salads, whole grains, and organic fruits are consumed in our offices every day. Sometimes, though, you just get that comfort food itch, and it won’t go away until it’s been scratched.

Sometimes, you just gotta splurge.

The king of comfort foods has to be macaroni and cheese. It’s warm, it’s gooey, it’s cheesy, it’s everything you could ever want to fill the belly and soothe the soul, which is what comfort food is all about. Many people tend to shy away from making macaroni and cheese from scratch at home because the recipes seem too complicated or time consuming, which is why much of America grows up thinking the cheesy treat only comes from a blue box. Well, all of that is about to change. This Stealthy Mac & Cheese is a truly simple recipe that packs a gooey punch and won’t make you regret a single delicious bite.

This recipe is adapted from one by Chef Alex Guarnaschelli of Food Network fame. The original recipe is a great basic framework that can be adapted to your needs and preferences. For example, I almost always change up the cheeses based on what I have in my kitchen or what I’m in the mood for. I have listed suggestions for the types of cheese to use, but feel free to get creative and use what you like.

Cheese, cheese, cheese

Cheese, cheese, glorious cheese.

I also tried to lighten the recipe up a bit, since the original calls for a quart of heavy cream(!). You can get a perfectly creamy, decadent sauce without using all of that. Use any combination of cream, half & half, and milk, as long as you keep the amount the same. This recipe isn’t fat free, by any stretch of the imagination, but there are some ways to make it feel a little lighter and a little healthier while remaining completely indulgent.

Which brings us to its stealthiness. This mac and cheese has vegetables in it! Well, vegetable. The addition of macaroni-sized florets of cauliflower brings a surprising lightness and satisfying texture to the dish. Cauliflower is a pretty incredible superfood, too. It is low in fat and carbohydrates, but high in dietary fiber and vitamin C; it even contains compounds that may protect against cancer! All of that and it’s absolutely delicious, especially when coated with a delectable cheese sauce. Of course you can make this dish without the cauliflower, but I think sneaking some into macaroni and cheese is a brilliantly devious way to get picky eaters to eat some vegetables.


Stealthy Mac & Cheese
Serves 6-8

10 cups water
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni (whole-wheat or regular)
1 cup organic cauliflower, chopped into very small florets
1 quart organic local half & half (or 1 pint half & half and 1 pint milk, or part milk and part heavy cream, it’s up to you)
2-3 cloves homegrown or local organic garlic, peeled and lightly crushed with the back of a knife
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 to 3 1/2 cups grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese (or Gruyere, or Monterey Jack, or Swiss, or whatever you like)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (or Asiago, or Romano…)
1/2 cup grated Havarti cheese (or Gouda, or Jack, or bleu, you get it)
Freshly ground black pepper
White pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Hot sauce, to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot, bring the water to a rolling boil. Add a good bit of salt. When you taste the water, it should be quite salty, like sea water. Add the macaroni, stirring to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. After the macaroni cooks for about 5 minutes, add the chopped cauliflower and continue cooking until both are almost al dente, about 3 to 5 more minutes. (You can also choose to steam the cauliflower over the boiling water to preserve some of the cancer-fighting compounds).

Before you drain the macaroni and cauliflower, ladle out approximately 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Pour the pasta/cauliflower into a strainer over the sink and drain well.

Return the pot to the stove and add the half & half/milk/cream mixture, garlic cloves, and reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer, then add Dijon mustard and stir well. Little by little, add all but ½ cup of the cheeses, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted and integrated with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and simmer again until smooth. Add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and white and cayenne peppers to taste. Stir well to blend and taste for seasoning. Remove and discard the garlic cloves.

Gently, add the macaroni and cauliflower to the cheese sauce and stir to blend until all is well coated. Let the mixture rest on the stove with the heat on low 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Transfer the mixture to a 13” x 9” baking dish and top with bread crumbs and the remaining cheese. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Sneaky Mac & Cheese completes a delicious, nutritious meal.

Stealthy Mac & Cheese completes a delicious, nutritious meal.