Tangerine Sorbet

14 Aug

The summer of 2010 was full of micro-farming, friendly dinners and lunches, and delicious learning experiences thanks to my friends Eddie, Stephanie, and Iris. They are the founders of Cuatro Caminos Collective. They planted the seed to what is now a number of micro-farms, gardens, coops, and urban dinner gatherings. (Yes, yes, I know.)

That same summer, Atticus, Christopher, and I enjoyed the fruits of our labor (ba-dam-bam!) in the cozy little home in San Dimas, California. A bountiful pomegranate tree, a couple of varieties of summer squash vines,  a sun-ripened berry bush, gigantic Swiss chard plantings, and fragrant herb plants provided the food that graced our breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates.

One superstar that has since perished was the tangerine tree. Those were the absolute best tangerines I have tasted! My father-in-law, along a few other nit pickies, complained about the amount of seeds in these tangy, sweet treats. But, I grew up accustomed to seeds. In fact, I am completely freaked out that in the US we are hard pressed to find a single grape (organic or otherwise) that contains a single seed. It’s just doesn’t seem right.

This recipe is one that everyone with a fondness for citrus, even those folks who cannot stomach the idea of unwanted seeds touching your lips, will enjoy. To quote my pal Eddie about this one, “I felt like I was in that one movie, Ratatouille. But instead of food, I was chasing after an ice cream truck.”

Well, I have seen the flick, and I’ve enjoyed it, so I’ll take that as a compliment to the nature gods of tangerine fruit trees.

Be sure to always use the most fresh and tasty ingredients. It makes a world of difference.

Tangerine Sorbet

Ingredients:

3/4 C sugar, organic, raw
3/4 C water
2 c tangerine juice, from about 16 tangerines, CHILLED
1 C liquid of choice* (milk, cream, rice water, Prosecco), CHILLED
*I used water in which rice had been soaking overnight, and I thought it was perfect.
1/4- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (make sure it’s pure … no added shtuff)

ice cream maker

Directions:

Make-ahead Syrup
Stir water and sugar in a small saucepan.
Heat over medium heat until sugar is just dissolved (no more stirring).
Put in refrigerator in a small container.
Allow to chill completely.

Pour syrup, juice, chilled liquid of choice, and vanilla into the opening of the ice cream maker.
Turn machine on.
Allow 25-30 minutes to work into an icy goodness.
Pour into a freezer-safe container with lid and allow to set for 2 hours in freezer.
(I stirred it up after 30 minutes, so that the end-product was not too stiff or icy.)

Rosewater frosting

20 Jun rose birthday cake

May came and went. But, it was not for lack of things to do, people to celebrate, or events to remember.

The fifth month of the year immediately follows my mother-in-law’s birthday (and mine), and then it actually consists of our wedding anniversary (sometimes coinciding with Mother’s day), Christopher’s birthday, Mother’s day (often coinciding with my brother-in-law’s birthday that also happens to fall on our anniversary), and my own brother’s birthday, which also happens to land on the same day as my sweet little niece’s birthday.  Whew. Is your head spinning? Because mine does ever since I’ve been married. And the spinning increases with the years.

So, of all these celebrations, efforts and hearts seems to naturally focus on one special little girl’s day. It was, after all, her very first birthday.  Sweet Juliet turned one on May 23rd, and I was fortunate enough to have a very willing mommy ready and (dare I write?) eager to listen to my silly, elaborate crafty ideas.

Perhaps my favorite thing of all was the cake. Melissa, the proud mommy, baked three layers of perfect chocolate cake, and I piped on the pink frosting with a 1M tip. SO easy! And, the result was truly a happy one.

Rosewater Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

½ C butter (set at room temp about 10 minutes but still cool)
6 oz. cream cheese (directly from fridge)
4 C powdered sugar, organic
2-4 T rosewater
1 drop natural food coloring (I get mine at Whole Foods)

Directions:

Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly.
Add cream cheese and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.
Add powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
Slowly add the rosewater, a little bit at a time until desired consistency is met. Don’t add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped onto cake.
Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

Use at once or keep refrigerated. (This frosting will keep well in the refrigerator for several days, but you may need to re-beat it for the best texture.)

Happy frosting!

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Aioli

20 Jun

Barbecue fare is the epitome of summer nostalgia. One of my childhood favorites, the corn on the cob, never quite gets old. Mine is a twist on the elote sold from carts on the streets of Mexico City and Los Angeles alike. Oh, and why not add that French je ne sais quoi to the mix? Corn, cotija, paprika, and tangy aioli make for quite an irresistible side. Enjoy!

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Ingredients:

(Aioli)
2 egg yolks
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 cloves garlic
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
½tsp. red wine vinegar
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. sea salt
1 C olive oil

(other dressings)
4 T crumbled Cotija cheese
1 T paprika

4-6 ears fresh corn, husks on

To prepare the aioli combine yolks, mustard, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, Worcestershire and salt in a blender or food processor. With motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil—drop by drop at first, and then more quickly once you see the mixture begin to emulsify.
Chill until ready to use.
(Will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.)

Prepare your grill, gas or charcoal, with direct, high heat, about 550°F.

Place the corn in their husks on the hot grill. Cover. Turn the corn occasionally, until the husks are charred on all sides, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove corn from grill. Let sit for 5 minutes. Use a hand towel to protect your hands while removing the silks and charred husks from the corn.

Spread aioli on the corn, sprinkle with crumbled cheese, and dust lightly with paprika.

Happy eating!

Pear and Blackberry Clafoutis

8 Jun

I find the human mind fascinating. The way a smell can trigger a memory has always seemed incredible. It’s really one of the reasons I like to cook and bake so much. Most of us know the comfort brought on by the aromas of our mothers’ chicken soup, tamales, or whatever favorite dishes might have graced our childhood home.

Music is another one of those triggers. Do you know The Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace tune?

Chantilly lace and a pretty face
And a pony tail hangin’ down
A wiggle in the walk and a giggle in the talk
Make the world go ’round.

While this song and especially the pronunciation of Chantilly have almost nothing to do with the small city town itself, it will forever remind me of the first time my lips touched the simple yet beautifully presented dessert known as clafoutis. my mother-in-law sang the silly song to Atticus the entire way to the Château de Chantilly and back to our Marriot rental in northern France.

At the end of our visit to the Chateau de Chantilly in 2010 (Chris, Atticus, Granddad, and Grammy)

I can also never forget the amazing creme Chantilly with which the subtly sweet clafoutis was served.

Creme Chantilly with strawberries. Yes, you really can eat this by the spoonful– it’s that delicious!

I’m convinced that the richness and heavenliness (I don’t even care if that’s not a real word) of the creme is directly related to the milk cows’ diet, and that I will never, ever be able to replicate it unless our little family moves to France. Sigh.

So, when I asked my co-worker Chrissy what she would like me to make for her birthday, she opted for something simple like a German pancake or a Dutch baby. I’ve like both, but I thought the clafoutis would fare better at room temperature for an in-office type of meal, plus the presentation would be a good one. And, actually it’s really easy. The most difficult, labor-intensive part is peeling and slicing the pears. Big deal!

Pear and Blackberry Clafoutis

Ingredients:

1 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 C plus 1 T organic raw, granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
6 T all-purpose unbleached flour, organic
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 to 3 firm but ripe Bartlett pears
12-15 blackberries, or enough to place sparingly over the dish
1 T powdered sugar, for dusting
creme Chantilly, whipped cream, or creme fraiche (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter a 10 X 3 X 1 1⁄2-inch round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon of the raw, granulated sugar.
Beat the eggs and the 1⁄3 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
On low speed, mix in the flour, cream, extracts, zest, and salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel, quarter, core, and slice the pears. Arrange the slices in a single layer, slightly fanned out, in the baking dish.
Pour the batter over the pears.
Then, gingerly place the blackberries throughout the top of the dish.
Bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, 35 to 40 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and topped with whipped cream.*

* I strongly encourage anyone with a tested creme Chantilly recipe to fill me in on the secret!

Happy eating!

My Favorite Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

4 Jun

Christopher and I try to be healthy. We really do. In fact our latest health craze has gotten us into a big intake of fruits and leafy greens. Our own jumping onto a green smoothie revolution wagon– and we’re taking as many people as we can on that journey.

I eat this way, so that I can feel light and energetic and happy. I also eat this way because I want to be able to indulge in new and old favorites without the guilt.

So, the other evening, I revisited a chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe I had spotted several months back on the Apple a Day blog, and I gave the cookie my own little organic, slightly experimental twist.

I try to use as little refined sugar as possible in my desserts, and lately the only sweeteners I have had stashed in my cabinet of baking goods have been maple syrup, raw honey, and organic, raw sugar. The last two especially bring back memories of my childhood with my paternal grandmother– the smells, sounds, and tastes of early mornings and peaceful, star-filled nights at my Nina’s ranch in Baja, California. “Mi Nina” was a beekeeper, one of her many trades, and she readily used honey in the kitchen and to treat scrapes and cuts.

But, every evening, she would sit at her kitchen table, pour herself some coffee, and ask me to pass the sugar. Grainy, brown-ish sugar. When I became an adult, I started seeing the stuff advertised as Turbinado or raw sugar, but I had always thought of it as “Mi Nina’s sugar.” You know, the unrefined Mexican stuff that most of us gringos wouldn’t dare touch with a ten-foot pole.

A few years ago, I started using it as a substitute for white sugar, and for this recipe I’ve used it exclusively– even instead of brown sugar.  The crunch added to this chewy cookie makes me feel so giddy. I hope you enjoy it as much as Atticus, Christopher, and I do.

My Favorite Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Ingredients: 
3/4 C unsalted organic butter, softened
1 C organic, raw sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 C organic unbleached flour, sifted
1/3 C organic whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 C organic semolina flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 C bittersweet chocolate chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Sugar crystals will still be visible. Add egg and extracts and blend.
Mix in flours, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.
With a  tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared, parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 7-8 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  (The tops will not brown, but do NOT bake longer than 9 minutes.)
Allow to cool 15-20 minutes on the baking sheet, then gently transport to cooling racks. Cookies will seem underdone, but they will be just perfect (at least for me) when completely cooled.
I would love to read about your favorite cookie recipes.
As always, happy eating!

Quinoa, Feta, and Ham Lettuce Wraps

10 Apr

As I glanced into the Svendsen kitchen, it seemed that our party of 20 had barely put a dent into the delicious Easter ham prepared by Christopher’s great-cook-of-an aunt, Gail. Atticus had gobbled the slices up without protest (that’s always a wonderful sight for parents who are constantly coaxing and enticing their toddler to take ‘just one more bite’), so Christopher and I jumped at the chance to take home some of the leftovers.

I overheard someone mention a Denver omelette as a favorite way to use up the ham, and began to wonder how many families in the United States might be in a similar predicament– what to do with the leftover ham.

Recently, as many other foodies everywhere, I’ve been caught with the quinoa bug. Not only is quinoa a superfood, it’s also very easy and quick to prepare.

I used tri-color quinoa for this one, but any variety will do.

So, I’ve been using quinoa in everything from veggie patties to green salads. I’m even going to try using it instead of granola in the near future. One of my favorite things to make is a risotto-like dish. And, here’s what I came up with yesterday:

Quinoa, Feta, and Ham Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:
2 c quinoa, prepared in vegetable broth (1 c quinoa and 2 c liquid)
1 c roasted corn
3-4 slices roasted ham
1 large carrot, shredded
2 T goat feta, cubed
1 T olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, roasted (brushed with olive oil) and sliced
1 tsp Spike seasoning (found in natural food stores)
1/3 c Curtido (El Salvadoran Slaw), optional

4-6 T hummus

6-8 red or green-leaf lettuce leaves, whole, washed, and dried

Heat oven or toaster oven to broil. Prepare quinoa as directed in a medium-large shallow pan. Add the roasted corn kernels after the first 5 minutes that the quinoa is on a low boil. Meanwhile, set the garlic on a baking sheet and broil for about 7 minutes, or when garlic reaches desired golden brown. Turn the garlic over once about halfway through.

Keep quinoa and corn on low heat, making sure that the bottom does not stick to the pan. Add roasted garlic.
Remove from heat. Add ham, carrot, feta, and slaw. Mix in olive oil and sprinkle with Spike seasoning to taste.

Serve with a side of hummus and leaf lettuce.

Spread hummus on each leaf and fill with quinoa mixture.

Next time I have a ripe avocado at hand, I might try to use smashed avocado instead of hummus for the spread.

Happy eating!

Macaroon Nests

8 Apr DSC_0010

In 2010 a friend of mine asked me to prepare some baked goods for what she called a collaborative Mother’s Day boutique. It was an incredible amount of work; but, while the labor and the finances didn’t quite match up, I did end up with a very satisfying coconut macaroon recipe. At the time, I had scoured recipe upon recipe that I found on the internet and in my own collection of cookbooks, and here’s what I came up with:

Chocolate-dipped macaroons from 2010

I don’t like the idea of using anything artificial, and I continue to lean more and more to fresh, pesticide-free ingredients.
These almond-y mounds fit the bill and were a big hit with all us coconut freaks.

Earlier this month I decided that for Easter I would turn my macaroons into little nests, an idea that I had been toying with for over a year. It’s really a very logical next-step– I love all things bird-nest-like. Besides, coconut is the perfect edible nest ingredient.

I guess deep-down I knew that someone must have already thought of this, but I must admit that when I spotted the Coconut Macaroon Nutella Nests on the Two Peas & Their Pod blog, my heart sank ever-so-slightly.

Nutella nests. I secretly like mine better– no condensed milk! Also, the organic semi-sweet chocolate chips in my recipe solidify and make the job of transporting these cookies much less messy.

Luckily, I got over my heart break long enough to read the Two Peas & Their Pod recipe, decide I still preferred my original idea, and give this experiment a go, with 20 minutes to spare before our family Easter lunch.

Kosher Coconut Macaroon Nests

Place 3 chocolate chips in the center dimple of the nest before baking in a 350-degree oven until cookies are slightly golden. I like my macaroons to be tender.

Ingredients:

4 egg whites, large
3/4 c sugar, raw
3 c shredded coconut, lightly packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips, enough to put 3 chips in each nest

1/3 c mini egg candies, I used Boston baked beans

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a cookie tray with parchment paper and light brushing (or spraying) of oil to prevent cookies from sticking.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites for 3 minutes, until stiff. Gradually add sugar and extracts. Continue to mix at low speed until raw sugar crystals are no longer obvious.
With a wooden spoon or spatula, blend the coconut with the egg white mixture. Use a tablespoon to create tightly packed mounds. Set mounds relatively close together on the cookie tray, about 1/2-inch apart. Remember, these cookies won’t spread in the oven.
Create dimples in the center of the mound with your index finger dipped in fresh water. Dip finger in water with each new dimple. (This should make your job less messy.)

Put 3 chocolate chips in the center, inside each ‘dimple.’
Bake for 7-12 minutes, until desired golden color.
Place tray on stove top and place 1-3 mini egg candies, using the melted chocolate chips as an adhesive.

Cool cookies completely in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Remove from freezer and allow cookies to sit at room temperature. Chocolate should be solidified at this point.

I am so happy with how these turned out. There’s no reason these nests should be confined to Easter use. I envision a spring or garden-themed birthday party and, of course, a baby shower.

Happy eating!

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