Monday, November 30, 2015

The Precise Kitchen Elf's Panettone for #TwelveLoaves

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Savoring Italy and runs smoothly with the help of Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen, and the rest of our fabulous bakers. This month we are baking Holiday Breads that are perfect to celebrate the holiday season. For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month's inspiring selection of #TwelveLoaves Thanksgiving Biscuits and Rolls!

This month's Holiday Bread Basket includes...

If you'd like to bake along with us this month, share your Holiday Breads using hashtag #TwelveLoaves!

The Precise Kitchen Elf's Panettone
Every year we make homemade panettone. Last year, my Precise Kitchen Elf took over the duties. It's a long process, but one he's happy to do. And I, for one, am grateful.

Step One...Candy the Citrus
I am not big on plain ol' oranges. Blood oranges, clementines, pumelo, any other citrus and I am excited. So I shouldn't be too surprised that when we were selecting citrus to candy for his holiday panettone, R picked kumquats, grapefruits, limes, and a few fingers of Buddha's Hand citron. Quick note: always use organic. You're spending time and money to eat the peels; you don't want to be consuming chemicals and pesticides!

  • 2 C water
  • 2 C organic granulated sugar + more for rolling
  • 12 oz kumquats, washed and dried
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2 limes
  • 2 fingers of Buddha's Hand citron (click for a quick intro to Buddha's Hand)
Slice the kumquats into quarters. Peel the grapefruit and limes and slice into strips. Cut the Buddha's Hand into small cubes.

Place all of the citrus in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add cold water until they are floating. Bring the pan to a boil. Drain. Add cold water until they are floating and bring to a boil again. Drain. Repeat a third time.

Then create a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar to a simmer and cooking till the syrup thickens. Place the citrus and simple syrup in the flat-bottom pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the citrus is translucent and the syrup is thickened and sticking to the fruit. Ours took about 90 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the citrus to a bowl full of granulated sugar. Roll the citrus in the sugar. Lay out on a parchment-lined cutting board and leave to dry.

Step Two...The Dough
Ingredients - makes 3 loaves + 1 mini taster loaf (R insists on this!)
  • 1 C warm water
  • 2 T active dry yeast
  • 6 T organic granulated sugar
  • 12 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 9 C all-purpose flour
  • splash of olive oil
  • splash of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 C organic raisins
  • 20 T softened butter
Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Let bloom for 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed until well mixed.

With the mixer on low speed, add 2 C of the flour and the salt and mix for 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low, add the remainder of the flour and mix for 5 more minutes.
Gently incorporate the raisins with a spatula. Then scrape the dough into a large oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

After the first overnight rise, we were ready for the second rise. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. With a spatula, fold 1 C of diced candied citrus into the dough. It will deflate slightly. Don't worry. It'll rise for another 8-9 hours again. Back in the fridge!

Step Three...The Baking and the Hanging
After the second rise, let the dough come to room temperature for at least an hour. Use a spatula to fold 20 tablespoons of softened butter into the dough. Divide the dough into three pieces. For them into rounds.

Place the dough into the parchment panettone liners. Let the dough rise - for the third time - at room temperature for 3 hours. During the last 20 minutes of the rise, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Once the oven is heated, place the breads in the lower half of the oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes...until the breads are golden and sound hollow when tapped.

After the panettone is baked, it needs to hang. Yes, hang. Upside down. So that it doesn't compress as it cools. I stuck it with skewers and balanced them on cardboard boxes.

And there you have it: The Precise Kitchen Elf's panettone.

Saffron Truffles for #HandCraftedEdibles

In an effort to make all of my holiday gifts this year, we are sharing recipes for hand-crafted edibles. Over the course of twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes that you can make at home to give to friends and loved ones, or things to serve at holiday parties. We hope you'll follow along for inspiration. You can find out more information, including the schedule: here.

This week, we are letting out our inner chocolatiers shine, sharing all sorts of recipes with chocolate.

Here's what we're posting this week...

Next week - week 11 - check back for our recipes to inspire you as we let our mad cookie baking skillz show. Don't forget to check out our #handcraftededibles pinterest board.

Strega-Spiked Saffron Truffles
makes approximately 5 dozen truffles

I used dark chocolate, folded in some saffron threads and spiked it with Liquore Strega, a saffron liqueur from Italy. O dio! If you're unfamiliar with Strega: click to read more.

  • 3-1/4 C 72% cacao chocolate, chopped
  • 2 C organic heavy cream
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 T butter, softened
  • 2 T Liquore Strega

Place chopped chocolate, saffron threads, and Strega in a large mixing bowl.  In a medium saucepan, bring cream to a boil.  Pour boiling cream over the chocolate.  Let sit for three minutes, then whisk until smooth.  Stir in butter.

Refrigerate until firm - at least two hours. I left mine overnight.

Line a cookie sheet or tray with parchment paper or foil.

With a tablespoon or tablespoon scoop, scoop chilled truffle ganache from your bowl and place on the lined tray.

Refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes. (I let them chill for about 30 minutes.)

For chocolate-dipped to temper chocolate...
Place half of your chipped chocolate (I didn't measure, but you can just repeat the process if you run out of chocolate) in a double-boiler and, over low heat, warm until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the other half of the chocolate. Set aside until the chocolate begins to lose its shine; it's beginning to crystallize. Then, return the chocolate to the double-boiler and warm, over very low heat, until smooth and glossy.

Dip chilled truffles in the melted chocolate, one at a time.  You may use a candy dipping tool, but I just use a two-toothpick combo. Dip the truffle quickly into the melted chocolate and shake off the excess.  Place on the parchment-lined tray and use another toothpick to nudge the truffle off of the toothpick.  Dip the toothpick back into the melted chocolate and use a dab of chocolate to cover up any imperfections.

Serve with a cordial of Strega for that extra saffron goodness! Cin cin.

Lemongrass-Basil-Raspberry Sherbet {Page to Plate Thanksgiving}

My husband edited a piece about our dry ice fun on Thanksgiving.

DRY ice Cream Thanksgiving 2015.avi from JAKE MANN on Vimeo.

This was our second sherbet for our literary Thanksgiving...and was part of my "The Adventures of Sherbet Holmes" dessert.

  • 2 C milk
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 C raspberry puree
  • 1 T ginger syrup
  • 3" piece of lemon grass, trimmed and quartered
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • dry ice

In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream, lemongrass, basil, and milk to a simmer. Add raspberry puree and ginger syrup and allow flavors to steep for at least 20 minutes over low heat. Strain out the lemongrass and basil before proceeding.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until light yellow in color. Add half of the cream mixture into the egg to temper. Then add the yolk mixture into the cream mixture.

Over low heat, whisk the mixture until it thickens. Transfer to a cool metal bowl. Once cool, cover, and place in fridge and allow to for several hours.
When ready to serve, take the sherbet base out of the fridge. Add in chunks of dry ice with tongs and stir with a rubber (or wooden) spatula. 

It will thicken to soft-serve ice cream consistency. If you wish it more solid, place it in the freezer. We served it soft on top of a quince crumble on Thanksgiving though the boys all thought this was better on my re-do apple crumble the following day.

Food'N'Flix: The Hundred Foot Journey Round-Up

Food‘nFlixRemember that Food'N'Flix collided with Cook the Books for a double-header of The Hundred Foot Journey*While I hosted the Food'N'Flix portion during the month of November - here was my invitation - Deb of Kahakai Kitchen hosted the book part for our October-November Cook the Books read. Click to see her invitation

Well, the time has come to share the posts. Our bloggers made quite a feast! 

I've divided up the posts by geography. We have Indian-inspired dishes from the first part of the movie, Fantastically French morsels from the middle part of the movie, and Fun Fusions from when Hassan comfortably blended his heritage with his chosen home at the end of the movie.

This post will round-up the posts that were for both Food'N'Flix and Cook the Books and those that were for Food'N'Flix only. Deb will be posting the cross-over posts and the ones that were only for Cook the Books on the Cook the Books blog. Hope that's not too confusing.

Inspired by India

Though the book bored her to tears and the movie totally lost her about half way through, Amy did find food inspiration in both and posted a cross-over post for both events. She writes "Happily enough for me, I was able to find food inspirations in both the book and the movie.  In both, there is the opportunity to focus on French, Indian, or fusion cuisine.  Since I recently tackled French with Classic Croissants, I decided to push myself way out of my comfort zone and try my hand at (probably not very authentic) Indian food."

by Debra at Eliot's Eats

Debra admits something she never thought she'd say: "I think I enjoyed the film more than the book."
She found the film more upbeat and joyous than the book and she was struck by the other worldly look of the scenery. Adding to the dreamlike timelessness was that Hassan’s unique and inherent culinary talent almost borders on fantasy. She shared a spicy Indian dish that features some of her home-grown sweet potatoes.

Fantastically French
by Kimberly at Coffee and Casseroles

Kimberly, like I do, makes notes as she watches the film. She shares: "Notes- basil, flowers, chicken, sea urchin, fish, samosa, kabobs, seafood stew, flat bread, rice, peppers, eggs, BBQ, lobsters, prawns, tomatoes, tea, bread and butter, pears, cheese, radishes, grapes, olives, sardines, pickles, olive oil, sweets, cold plates, croissants, jam, coffee, frogs legs, escargot, goat, asparagus, red currents, duck, garlic, potatoes, crapes, fresh fruit, mushrooms, leeks, cauliflower, spices, sandwiches, oysters, crayfish, limes, eggplant, carrots, cabbage, capers, mutton, red wine, dumplings, chutney,roasted vegetables, figs, foie gras, sweet corn, bechamel sauce, salami, omelette, pigs feet, ham, pheasant, melon, squab, ginger, truffles, beef bourguignon, zucchini, curry, chilies, cookies, milk, rack of lamb, mini fruit tarts, "pumpkins" (I keep thinking of them because of the street lights) beet root, roasted chestnuts, saffron. ...I kept looking at the words "mushrooms and leeks" sitting beside each other in my notes, and decided a mushroom leek quiche was it."

by Terri at Our Good Life

She writes that Hassan's passion for French haute cuisine combine with his mysteriously talent to combine the two cultures. Terri opted for a simple but classic French vegetable preparation of asparagus and bacon, inspired by this cookbook:  Around My French Table

Fun Fusions
     Indian Spiced Beef Bordeaux
by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm

Wendy gushes: "I loved this movie and can't believe I had never even heard of it.  It is one of those movies that I wouldn't mind watching over and over again.  And the food!  The entire movie is a feast for the eyes. I was overwhelmed and wanted to make everything!!" She decided on a fusion of flavors and made an Indian Spiced Beef Bordeaux.

by Evelyne at Cheap Ethnic Eatz

Evelyne fused together both Indian and French flavors. She shares: "I wanted the French side of my recipe to represent a nearby culinary tradition. Canelés are best know as sweet confections that are baked in a special mold called canelé, which means fluted. They are know for a dark golden crisp exterior. These are called canelé bordelais as they come from the region of Bordeaux, which is next to the Midi-Pyrénées."

Her Carrot Curry Canelés are a perfect savory treat, combining flavors of vegetables and perfumed Indian spices in a completely French package. And they inspired me to order some canelé molds. Fingers crossed mine look as tasty as these.

As a nod to Hassan's confidence and talent,Heather shared an omelette inspired by The Hundred-Foot Journey. Her description had me drooling on my keyboard: "Studded generously with bits of shallot, chile pepper, cilantro and tomato, and laced with the essence of garam masala, it is a pleasant assault on the senses. After one bite, I decided that I wanted to eat my omelette's this way all the time. I wish I'd known how well eggs and garam masala go together before now!" I can't wait to try her recipe.

by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen

My co-hostess for this double feature also preferred the movie to the book. And about her culinary creations, she posts: "For a somewhat loosely-inspired dish, based mainly on shortening the distance between the French & Indian cuisines featured, I decided to take a French classic soup that I happen to love, Potage Parmentier (potato leek soup), using a Jacques Pépin recipe and then bring some Indian-inspired flavor to the dish by topping my soup with some curried naan bread croutons and a pleasantly-spicy pistou (or pesto) of cilantro and cashews."

I was foiled in getting sea urchin. My Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf and I wanted to re-make D's Spiced Coconut-Sea Urchin Soup that he made when we first saw this movie a year ago. But, there was no sea urchin to be had anywhere locally. So, we made a riff on that soup with another Southeast Asian inspiration: Kaffir limes. Do you know what a Kaffir lime is? It looks like a little green brain and tastes like a mix of a lime and lemongrass.

Looking Ahead
Next month, Kimberly of Coffee and Casseroles will be hosting with The Jane Austen Book Club. Keep an eye out for her invitation. I do not think I've ever seen that movie. Fun!

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.


A Hostess Gift with Heart #sponsor #giveaway

This sponsored post is written by me on behalf of Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi. All opinions are my own. 

Between Halloween and Epiphany, we receive a lot of invitations for dinner parties, birthday parties, cocktail parties, and cookie decorating parties. A lot of parties. If there's a theme to be had, someone I know is throwing a party about it.

My default hostess gift is a nice bottle of wine, but I always think they might feel obligated to open the bottle to share right then. It seems a little self-serving, as if to say - "Here, I brought you something, now uncork this baby and let me have a glass."

When I was asked to review the Woodbridge Harvest Wine Set, I thought, "Eureka! This is a hostess gift that they can enjoy long after all the guests have gone and the dishes are put away." And, if you like, you can still include a bottle of wine!

photo courtesy Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi

The Woodbridge Harvest Wine Set is a limited-edition kitchen set that includes an apron, pot holder and wine tote. Even better, all of the proceeds benefit, a charity fighting hunger in America by providing fresh food to those in need.

The kitchen set is ideal for holiday entertaining, serving as the perfect hostess gift with some longevity. The set is available on from now through the end of the year, the Woodbridge Harvest Wine set is a gift with heart.

photo courtesy Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi

I received a set to review and was delighted with the quality of the fabric, thickness of the oven mits, and - yes, I am actually going to say it - it's cute! But it's not too cute that a man wouldn't wear it. Adorable and useful. That fits my criteria for being in my kitchen! I've already ordered another set to give to my mom when she and my dad host Christmas for the big extended family. 

The Giveaway
I'm giving away two Woodbridge Harvest Wine Sets. Please note that wine is not included in the prize. Good luck!

The giveaway runs from November 30th through December 7th. Winner will be notified on December 7th and have 24 hours to respond with shipping information or an alternate winner will be chosen. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up only. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Two winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsor. I am not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.

*Disclosure: I  received a complimentary hostess set from Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi
 for the creation of this post as well as two additional sets to give away. This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.*

Find Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi on Facebook: here

Sunday, November 29, 2015

SRC Holiday Treats Reveal: Shrikhand for #SRCHolidayTreats

The Secret Recipe Club has a relatively new - fifth Monday - event that blurs the lines between the groups. You can be assigned to any other participating blogger in groups A through D. Naturally, I jumped right in.

Our theme this month: Holiday Treats. I was assigned to Tara's Multicultural Table, a blog written by Tara. I was so excited to explore her blog more. We've crossed paths before. She's taken part in different recipe round-ups I've hosted. And, most recently, she organized a virtual baby shower for another blogging friend - Lauren of Sew You Think You Can Cook - and I was reminded about the warmth of the blogging community.

So, into her blog I delved. Though I did get sidetracked by her recipes by location in the world, I stayed mostly in her desserts category. I considered her Vanillekipferl (Austrian Vanilla Crescent Cookies), Raivas (Portuguese Cinnamon Cookies), and Ka’ak b’sukar (Syrian Sugar Cookies).

I was more than a little intrigued by her Malabi with Orange Brandy Sauce, Chinese Peanut Dumplings in Ginger Syrup, and Kaber Ellouz (Tunisian Almond Balls).

But in the end, I decided to try her Shrikhand (Indian Yogurt Pudding with Saffron, Cardamom, and Toasted Nuts) because I am auditioning recipes for a themed dinner in December. This was the perfect dessert - not too complicated and easy to do ahead of time. I made a few adaptations, reducing the sugar and adding a few more spices, but the idea was the same. And it was a hit!

Indian Yogurt Pudding with Saffron, Cardamom, and Toasted Nuts
slightly adapted from Tara's Multicultural Table's Shrikhand

  • 3 C whole milk plain drained yogurt or 2 C Greek yogurt
  • 2 T whole organic milk
  • Pinch saffron (approximately 10 threads)
  • 3 T organic granulated sugar
  • pinch ground cardamom
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch ground ginger
  • pinch ground allspice
  • 2 T unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish
  • 2 T sliced almonds, for garnish
  • 2 T pistachios, for garnish

In a small saucepan, combine the milk and saffron over low heat just until just warmed. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep for 60 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk in sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. Add the saffron-steeped milk, until you get a distinct saffron flavor. I used it all though Tara used only about a teaspoon.

Cover the yogurt and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place coconut, almonds, and pistachios on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast toppings for 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant.

Spoon yogurt into individual serving dishes. Top with toasted toppings. Serve immediately.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Prawn Quixote {Page to Plate Thanksgiving}

The beauty of this dish comes from the surprising burst of citrus of caviar limes. They are so pretty and so tasty. Don't they look just like fish roe?

  • 1 lb prawns, deveined with shell and tail intact
  • 1/4 C freshly squeezed lime juice (I used fresh Bearrs lime)
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 2 T tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t ground smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t freshly ground pepper
  • caviar limes for serving
  • fleur de sel for serving

Whisk all ingredients together - except for the caviar lime- and marinate prawns, on skewers, for at least 2 hours. Longer is better. Grill over hot coals till opaque.

To serve, remove prawns from skeweres. Squeeze half a caviar lime on top of each prawn and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Serve immediately.

Tequila Mockingbird {Page to Plate Thanksgiving}

For a family who has no real culinary traditions for Thanksgiving, save our adventurous tradition, quail seems to make its way to our table almost every year. Done a different way each year, of course.

So, this year, in line with my page to plate Thanksgiving theme, I served 'tequila mockingbird'. You know...after To Kill a Mockingbird.

  • 8 quail (the ones I found this year were deboned)
  • 1/4 C tequila (I used a Buddha's Hand-Infused Tequila)
  • 1/4 C ginger syrup
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/2 C freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 C freshly squeezed lime juice (I used fresh Bearrs lime)
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 1 T ground smoked paprika
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 2 T fresh, rough-chopped cilantro

Whisk all ingredients together - except for the cilantro - and marinate quails for at least 6 hours, longer is better. Grill over hot coals.

Serve hot with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and more salt, if desired.

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