Wow Wizardry: Popovers!

Nana Chef is teaching after school and everybody made popovers plus our own apricot jam to slather all over them.  Here's the super easy recipe so you can do this magic trick too.

 Take the eggs and milk out of the fridge so they can warm up. Too cold will ruin everything. Turn on the oven to 425º. It is most important to have a very hot oven for the pop.  You will need two large cup muffin tins with six openings, best if they are the nonstick kind. Butter them very well all over so the popovers can't stick. If you are using regular tins be sure to butter them extra.  When the oven is hot, put the empty muffin tins in for TWO minutes so they are hot.  Hot is the magic trick for making the pop.  Now in a medium bowl, put together 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter, 3 extra large eggs, 1 1/2 cup of milk (nonfat is okay), a pinch of salt and 1 1/2 c all purpose flour.  Using a whisk, stir everything together until there are NO flour lumps left.  This is very important.  Get a ladle and carefully--remember they are hot--fill each muffin cup ONLY HALF way up. We need room for the pop!  Put the filled tins in the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes. Now here is the hardest part: NO PEEKING. YOU CAN'T OPEN THE OVEN until the timer beeps. But you can eat your popovers right away!   

Take the eggs and milk out of the fridge so they can warm up. Too cold will ruin everything. Turn on the oven to 425º. It is most important to have a very hot oven for the pop.
 You will need two large cup muffin tins with six openings, best if they are the nonstick kind. Butter them very well all over so the popovers can't stick. If you are using regular tins be sure to butter them extra.  When the oven is hot, put the empty muffin tins in for TWO minutes so they are hot.  Hot is the magic trick for making the pop.

Now in a medium bowl, put together 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter, 3 extra large eggs, 1 1/2 cup of milk (nonfat is okay), a pinch of salt and 1 1/2 c all purpose flour.  Using a whisk, stir everything together until there are NO flour lumps left.  This is very important.

Get a ladle and carefully--remember they are hot--fill each muffin cup ONLY HALF way up. We need room for the pop!  Put the filled tins in the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes. Now here is the hardest part: NO PEEKING. YOU CAN'T OPEN THE OVEN until the timer beeps. But you can eat your popovers right away!

 

Make Magic like Harry Potter: Make Yogurt

You can do a huge magic trick right in your own kitchen and be smarter than Harry Potter when you make your own yogurt. So let's do that, because when this trick works, it's like a miracle.

Here's what we're going to need: a quart of milk and 3 tablespoons of a plain yogurt that has "live cultures" (it must must says those words on the package, so look carefully, please!).

 See those words: LIVE ACTIVE YOGURT CULTURES. That's what we need.

See those words: LIVE ACTIVE YOGURT CULTURES. That's what we need.

 

Now we're also going to need a very heavy bowl that is NOT metal or very heave not metal (not aluminum and not stainless steel) pot with a tight fitting lid. If you are using a bowl you will also need a medium sized pot that goes on the stove. Last we need some big towels to use as blankets for when the time comes to keep our yogurt warm. That's it! 

Here we go! Turn the oven to 150º because we're going to need a warm bed for our yogurt to sleep in. Make sure the yogurt you are going to use is on the counter and not in the refrigerator now. Pour that quart of milk into the pot you are using, pour all of it.  Now put that pot on the stove and turn on low heat. We must be very careful NOT to burn it. We have to watch it carefully, okay? Keep your eyes there and watch for the very first sign of bubbles around the edge. When you see those very first tiny bubbles, turn off the heat right away.

 Start with pouring the milk into your pot. This pot is not metal: it has enamel over cast iron. That is okay!

Start with pouring the milk into your pot. This pot is not metal: it has enamel over cast iron. That is okay!

 See those tiny bubbles? That's a big YAY! Magic is starting to happen.

See those tiny bubbles? That's a big YAY! Magic is starting to happen.

Okay, now we have to put our hot pot on a cool kitchen counter so it can cool down. We want it to get to about 110º. How can we know that without a thermometer? Well, 110º is just a little hotter than a hot tub or a really hot bath. It might make you say: Ouch! but it won't burn your finger or turn it red. That's how you can know. Okay?

Now when our yogurt has cooled to where we want it, we are going to get that plain yogurt with those active live cultures. They are the thingamabob that does the job, the real magic. We are going to take a plastic whisk or a wooden spoon and stir that yogurt into our milk so it's everywhere. We want those magical invisible live cultures to do their job all over the place and not just in one little corner. Okay?

 Add the yogurt and then....

Add the yogurt and then....

 we blend it in everywhere.

we blend it in everywhere.

And now here comes the really magical part. We put a tight lid on top of our mixed up milk. And then we wrap the whole pot or bowl in some towels so it stays warm. Warm is very important now.

 all wrapped up tight for the night.

all wrapped up tight for the night.

Okay. Now turn off the oven heater. Wave the magic spoon over the wrapped up bowl or pot and put it into the warm oven, very carefully. Close the door. Now we have a really hard job; we have to be careful not to make the oven shake or move while our milk is sleeping in it. We need to not touch that bowl or pot for at least 12 whole hours. Then, we can take it out of the oven, unwrap those towels, take off the lid and....

 MAGIC!  REAL YOGURT!!!  How about that! Get out the honey or the jam and yum away!

MAGIC!  REAL YOGURT!!!

How about that! Get out the honey or the jam and yum away!



Nana's bananas

Somebody gave Nana too many bananas so the voice in her head said: make banana bread. Actually that's a teeny mistake, because it's more like banana cake. Whatever we call it, it's easy and delicious. Plus bananas are nutritious. So let's go bananas.

Here is what we need: 3 very soft bananas (if they are ugly and brown, that's great!), 2 eggs and 1 cup of oil, which can be sunflower or vegetable or canola or corn. (Here's a secret: sometimes Nana also puts in 1 tablespoon of cream cheese or the Italian cream cheese known as "mascarpone" which is sweeter and is so lip smacking yummy, it is one of her favorite foods.) Sometimes she puts in 1 less tablespoon of oil and then 1 tablespoon of butter. You can try each way to see which tastes better to you, okay?

Oh yes, we also must have 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of sugar (hint: sometimes Nana uses all Turbinado or raw sugar and sometimes just 1/4 cup of light brown sugar plus 1/4 cup white sugar.), 1/2 cup chopped up walnuts (unless of course these make somebody sick, then don't add them, please!), as much cinnamon as you like, 1/2 teaspoon of salt. And then, because baking banana bread is really a science project where we learn about "chemistry", you must have 1 teaspoon of what's called baking powder (this is the magic to make things rise up poof!) and 1 teaspoon of what's called baking soda, which also helps the poof!.

  The butter is to grease the pan so the banana bread doesn't stick to it;

The butter is to grease the pan so the banana bread doesn't stick to it;

We need what's called a "loaf pan." It has that name because it is shaped like a loaf of bread.  You can make one big loaf or two smaller ones. That's up to you. But here's what you have to do: you must take some butter, make it soft and rub it all over the loaf pan or pans you are going to use. All over so the banana bread can't stick anywhere and stay in the pan when you're ready to eat it.

Okay, now we're ready to make our bread and it's very very easy, as I said. First we turn the oven on to 350º so it warms up. Get out a mixer or a processor or your best stirring spoon and a bowl, whatever you have.. Take the peels off those bananas so we're ready to roll.  Put almost everything into the mixing bowl: the oil, the sugar, the eggs, the cinnamon, the salt and the bananas. Give it a whirl. Now together as a team, we put in the baking powder, baking soda and flour. Whir everything together. Then using a spoon, stir the walnuts in. 

FullSizeRender 148.jpg

Here's where a scraper comes in. We need to get our banana bread from the bowl into the pan or pans and it's mighty sticky, so this is tricky.  Use a big scraper and fill your buttered pans neatly all over and almost to the top. Not quite at the top because, remember? we put poof! magic in there so our bread is going to go poof! with air. 

We're oven ready, so in it goes. Close the door. Only one thing more: we have to set a timer to know when it's done. A large loaf needs at least 50 minutes. A smaller one 30.

IMG_0452.jpg

So set our timer and then get out a tester so we're ready.  A tester can be a single spaghetti. Or a toothpick with no color or a real cake tester. What does a cake tester do?  Well, when the timer bell rings, we jab it into the banana bread and it comes out very clean, that means our bread is all done, ready to eat-- after it loses some heat. But if the tester emerges with smoush on it, we need to let our bread bake maybe 5 minutes more, then test it again and keep doing that til the tester comes out clean.

FullSizeRender 134.jpg

One last thing to do. We let the bread cool ten minutes so we can touch it because it's time to get it out of the pan. And here's how we can: with a spatula that we carefully run around the edge to loosen things up. Then we turn our pan upside down, knock knock on the bottom and ...banana bread comes out!


Presto! Pesto!

FullSizeRender 125.jpg

This very delicious and very healthy sauce comes from Italy where people put it on spaghetti and pizza. In Italy everybody makes pesto with basil, a summer green herb. But we can also make it with parsley and the peppery parsley called cilantro, which is sometimes easier to find in winter. Whichever green herb you want to use, the recipe can be the same. It's one of Nana's whiz bangs!

What you must have is a bunch of basil or cilantro or parsley, In these pictures Nana has cilantro, but basil and parsley will be just as green. You also need to have 3 peeled cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of pine nuts or sunflower seeds or chopped hazelnuts or chopped almonds--whatever you have will be A OK. Of course you need salt and you have to grind some black pepper in, as much as you like. And to make it a sauce you will need a liquid: olive oil. 1 1/4 cups of olive oil. And then our secret ingredient: Parmesan cheese! I'd say 1/2 cup shredded or grated.

FullSizeRender 128.jpg

 

Now this is really easy whiz bang.  All you have to do it clean the green you decided to use and dry it very well.  Then put it and the garlic and the nuts or seeds, salt and pepper and Parmesan cheese into the bowl of a chopper or food processor. Start to whiz. Now as you whiz and chop, pour in the oil to make a smooth sauce.  And stop when it is. 

FullSizeRender 129.jpg

 

You can put your pesto on spaghetti or on a pizza and feel very proud that you made something good for your body. It has all the nourishment you need: protein, vitamins and minerals. Plus great taste!

Before we go, I have a riddle for you.  When they get spaghetti with tomato sauce, everybody asks for "cheese, please." Why does nobody ask for "cheese, please", when they get spaghetti with pesto sauce? .....Because we already put the cheese in the sauce!!

Applesauce

FullSizeRender 103.jpg

What can you do with too many apples? Make applesauce! Tasty healthy applesauce with just apples, honey and cinnamon plus lemon juice.  Here's how we do that.

You will need three (3) pounds of apples, a lot of apples! But they are going to disappear into smoush, so that's not too many. You will need one cinnamon stick or 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, honey or real honest maple syrup if you like that better. And a whole lemon.

Now let's put them all together, wave our magic spoon over the pot and get....applesauce!

The hard part is first. We have to take the peel off all the apples and shake the seeds out. Seeds are what make an apple tree and we don't want trees in our sauce. So we need a peeler to help us. We can go up and down or we can go around; whatever's more fun to do. And if you miss a little piece of peel, that's okay. We can use the vitamins hiding in there.  Ready, steady...okay look at this picture. Do you see where there are two curves on the peeler handle? That's for your fingers. Put them there so you don't peel them.

FullSizeRender 106.jpg

Okay, now we have to cut the apples into pieces and take away the seeds. We need a little knife and a cutting board. And when we cut, we can throw the pieces into the applesauce pot. It should be a large pot that feels heavy. Ready, steady, go...

 First we cut the apples in half. Then we cut each half in half again.

First we cut the apples in half. Then we cut each half in half again.

Now we scrape the seeds away. If this is hard, ask for help, When no seeds are in the way, cut each piece of apple in half again and put it in the pot. The hard part is over because when all the apple pieces are in the pot, there's only something fun left to do. We make our applesauce delicious!  We add honey and cinnamon and lemon juice, our secret weapon.

FullSizeRender 111.jpg

First we bury the cinnamon stick in the apples. Then we put in the honey: how about 4 tablespoons? That is the same as 1/4 cup. And finally our secret weapon: lemon juice! Here's a trick. To get the juice to come out of a lemon, first you put your hand on top and roll it back and forth on a table or the kitchen counter maybe 3 times. Press down when you are playing rolly poly. That gets the juice flowing. Cut the lemon in half. Now because it has seeds we don't want in our sauce, we need to squeeze the lemon into a sieve: that's something with a screen to catch the seeds.

FullSizeRender 112.jpg

Okay! We are almost done. All we have to do now is cook our apples into sauce. So get out your magic spoon like Nana's. Whip it through everything in the pot and say magic words: I am the boss of this applesauce. Turn the heat underneath between medium and low. It will cook while you clean up. Put a lid on the pot to keep everything inside hot. Give it time now. Maybe 1/2 hour.

All of a sudden you're going to see smoush in that hot pot! Remember to have a glove on your hand when you touch the lid. Put your magic spoon in the pot and if it moves around without hitting something hard, your smoush is almost applesauce! That's what we want. We just have to decide if we like chunky or smooth applesauce. What do you say? You are the boss of this applesauce. If you like chunky, there is nothing more to do but stir two more times to smash any big pieces. Turn off the heat and wait til the applesauce cools enough to eat.  If you like smooth, take your magic spoon and smash the chunks, then stir and whir until it looks smooth to you. If you like it even smoother, you can put everything in that pot into a blender or food processor and give it a whiz. That's how easy applesauce is!