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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.)

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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!

Macaroon Nests

8 Apr

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!

Poached Eggs al Ranchero with Curtido

1 Apr

There are few things about moving into an apartment in the OC to which Atticus, Christopher, and I have had some difficulty adjusting. We can’t complain about the amenities, and we certainly do not regret our proximity to the ocean (sigh). But, as the primary household cook, I had been accustomed to snipping a little of this along with a fistful of that to complete any planned or impromptu meal at home.

In short, I miss my garden. So, yesterday I spent some time gathering information and seeking inspirational images. It turns out that there’s quite a collection of apartment gardening “out there.”  I already have potted plants, but my enthusiasm is renewed by the thought of vertical gardens or ‘living walls.’ There’s hope for my spring and summer!

  

Oh, there is another thing– I miss my parents and brother. Christopher and I invited them over for brunch. And, as I did manage to transport some of my favorite potted herbs from our former yard to our present patio, I decided I ought to highlight the plants that remind me of home. I came up with this one. It’s Mexican-inspired with an El Salvadoran twist. Thyme and oregano were the humble heroes of our meal today, my take on huevos rancheros.

Poached Eggs al Ranchero

Curtido Cabbage Salad (the El Salvadoran part):

1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, grated
1 quart boiling water
1 bunch green onions (white part or bulb, saving the green for dressing), sliced
1 C vinegar, (I use apple cider)
1/2 C water
1 tsp oregano
3-5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp sea salt
1 serrano pepper, sliced and de-seeded (optional)

Combine the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over the mixture. Allow the mixture to steep for 5 minutes; drain well. Return the cabbage and carrots to the bowl. Mix in the green onion bulbs, vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, oregano, thyme, and salt. Toss until all ingredients are combined. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.

Poached Eggs in Salsa Molcajete:
16-18 oz. roasted molcajete salsa (sometimes found in the deli or international cheese section in markets)
1 can whole black beans, rinsed and drained
1 C roasted corn
4-6 large organic eggs
8-12 yellow corn tortillas, toasted on a cast iron griddle (or ‘tostadas’)
1/2 bunch spinach
green onions, remaining green part for garnish
additional molcajete salsa

In a wide covered saucepan, simmer salsa, beans, and corn for 10 minutes. Turn heat to medium-low and add eggs. It might help to use a wooden spoon to make “holes” in the salsa mixture for each individual egg. Cover and cook just until egg whites as no longer translucent.
Place two tostadas on each plate. Smear with extra molcajete salsa. Layer with a few spinach leaves, hot salsa mixture, and one poached egg. Garnish with green onions. Serve with Curtido Cabbage Salad.

Oh, and next time, just because they are in season, please add one ripe avocado, sliced. I forgot to use the one I had! It seems I will have the burden of finding some other use for that creamy deliciousness.

Happy eating!

Brown Sugar Hot Fudge

26 Feb

Another winner from Christopher’s lovely mom.

“I got this recipe from Auntie Joan years and years ago. I had always used white sugar, but then I found out that Darlane used brown sugar in hers, so I switched.”

~Sharon Rager (neé Svendsen)

Thank goodness for Darlane, my mother-in-law’s best friend, and her brown sugar wisdom.

I’d choose brown sugar over the white, bleached stuff any day (just don’t tell my mother-in-law). I bake it into shortbread; I throw it into cake recipes for a super moist effect; and, now I will forever use brown sugar for this addicting hot fudge.  Only chocolate haters will shy away from this one.

I promised this recipe earlier, when I posted the Buttermilk Pound Cake recipe on Valentine’s Day; and, when I heard that I might have some University of La Verne visitors this weekend, I knew I had the perfect excuse to indulge.

Lucie, Phuong, and Walter are three of the most outstanding students I met while working at the University of La Verne. I was an international student advisor for just over a year at my alma mater, but I suppose the fact that these three wonderful people drove over bearing gifts of fizzies and food (Belgian beer and international food!) is telling of the some of the friendships forged.

These Vietnamese spring rolls came with a citrus-lemon grass sauce and a peanut sauce.

Lucie and Walter contributed Colombian empanadas from Sabor Latino Grill in Montclair, CA.

This could have been a perfect Academy Awards party– too bad our television doesn’t tune into ABC– yes, this is a true story, and, yes, this is as pathetic as it gets. But, at the very least, we were able to enjoy a satisfying lunch before my friends left to find a decent TV set.

Earlier, though, my little boy had been excited to help with the beloved hot fudge recipe from Grammy. So, while Chris grocery shopped, Atticus and I “slaved” over the stove.

Melt the unsweetened chocolate and butter over low heat.

Pour in the brown sugar-milk mixture. Keep on low heat.

Easy: Get a three-year old with a serious sweet tooth to help you stir, stir, stir. (The fudge is only warm at this point.)

Brown Sugar Hot Fudge

Ingredients:

2 squares Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate
1/4 c Organic unsalted butter
1/2 c Evaporated milk
2 c Organic brown sugar
1/2 tsp Pure vanilla extract
pinch salt

In a mixing bowl, stir together sugar, milk, and salt. Set aside.

In medium a saucepan, over low heat, melt together chocolate squares and butter.

Slowly pour sugar mixture into saucepan. Simmer and stir constantly until fudge is no longer grainy.

Add vanilla.

Enjoy over your favorite ice cream.

Happy eating!

King Cake and Rosemary-Sage-Garlic Bread

21 Feb

(You’ll have to scroll waaay down for the Rosemary-Sage-Garlic bread entry)

Working with yeast can be frustrating. It is definitely time-consuming. And, ultimately, it should be wonderfully rewarding. Honestly, who doesn’t enjoy a piece of fresh-baked, heaven?

This Sunday, our kitchen was overrun with labels featuring semolina, all-purpose, active, and other such descriptions. I worked hard, but I had so much fun. It was as if I were in the dark room again, transfixed by the ritualistic process and reaping the rewards as images came to life right before my eyes. I will always look back on those days in the photo lab with nostalgia and idealism; however, I believe I have found a worthy substitute in the kitchen– baking yeast breads!

Atticus was so excited to watch the dough "grow bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until it got gigantic, enormous!"

My co-worker, Chrissy D’Amico is originally from New Orleans, and she is my inspiration for the first recipe. You may or may not know that tomorrow is Mardi Gras. It just so happens we are also celebrating two birthdays in our office with a pot luck. (Yes, well, you might groan, but hold off on that for now.) It wasn’t the first time we had talked about King Cake. Chrissy had explained that in New Orleans people eat King Cake on Mardi Gras, although it is originally eaten on January 6th to celebrate Epiphany, much like the Rosca de Reyes is in Spanish and Latin American traditions.

And so, I decided to attempt a King Cake. I had never before tried to bake or eat one. She suggested a Food Network recipe. As usual,  I read that recipe, then obsessively looked around for more until I found a satisfying combination. My recipe most closely resembles the Southern Living Magazine’s King Cake recipe.

Southern Living Magazine’s King Cake

I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for the bread; added 1/3 cup light cream cheese and orange rind to the filling;  substituted lemon rind for the yellow decorating sugar; and used a far less sweet cream cheese frosting for the glaze.

Like anything else, you can and should make this bread your own. Here is how it went for me:

Raw sugar and organic cinnamon for the filling

Orange rind for the cream cheese filling

I don’t usually advocate it, but punching can be fun.

King cake dough "before" and "after" rising

Punch the dough

 I think the process is rewarding enough, but I am strange that way.

Roll out to a 10-inch with, and as long as it can possibly go

 Any filling will do. Make it your own. Some people opt to use fruit fillings. Others use pecans.

Thin layer of cream cheese, orange rind, topped with cinnamon and sugar

Roll the dough and join both ends to form a giant ring. Don't forget to hide an almond, bean, or plastic baby at the bottom.

If you find the baby (or bean, as the case may be), you should throw the next party.

Rosemary-Sage-Garlic Bread

This yeast bread recipe is from a recent blog discovery– Alexandra’s Kitchen recently featured Rosemary Semolina Bread with Sea Salt from Seattle’s Macrina Bakery. The pictures in Alexandra’s blog are excellent and decidedly far too tempting.

I followed the recipe pretty well. I did, however, add roasted garlic cloves and shredded sage. Oh, and I brushed an egg wash with a sprinkling of water right before putting the bread in the oven, and repeated every five minutes during baking.

Just in case you are wondering– we could not stop eating this! Not one of us.

Roasted garlic to mix into the dough

One last thing– I made two very decent-sized coiled loaves. I don’t own a baking pan that would house either her original intention nor her actual execution of the shape.

This recipe calls for two different flours– all-purpose and semolina (or pasta) flour.

Pour the yeasty, bubbly, all-purpose batch into the grainy semolina mix.

I loved Alexandra's coil shape so much that I made two!

Happy baking and, as always, happy eating!