Monday, September 1, 2014

September #twelveloaves Preview




I joined this group - #twelveloaves - just last month and here I am hosting this month's event. Had to do it. I love bread...and love pears. Tomorrow these great foodie bloggers will be sharing their pear-bread pairings with the world. I'm excited!

Here's what we can expect...come back tomorrow and check these out!

Asian Pear Muffins by NinjaBaking
Pear and Almond Muffins by Basic N Delicious
Pear and Cherry Sourdough Bread by Karen's Kitchen Stories
Pear and Walnut Sticky Buns by Kudos Kitchen by Renee
Pear, Banana, and Quinoa Muffins by Rhubarb and Honey
Pear Cranberry Sticky Buns by Cake Duchess
Pear Streusel Sweet Rolls by Try Anything Once Culinary
Savory Pear Flatbread with Gorgonzola by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Sour Cream Pear Bread by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Spiced Buttermilk Poached Pear Bread by girlichef
Turkish Pear Coffee Bread by A Shaggy Dough Story

Sunday, August 31, 2014

#SundaySupper: Witchy Chocolate Mousse with Culinary Fairy Dust



This week the #SundaySupper crew is filling (virtual) tantalizing trays. Think cheese platters and charcuterie. Imagine cocktails and shooters. Uncharacteristically,  being the savory-gal that I am, I opted to share a dessert. But since this dessert has to be served in mini portions - it's potent and decadent - and because it's jaw-droppingly delicious, I decided it was my pick for the event. Here's one of my friend's reactions when I put them out on the table for one dinner party a few years back. It's one of my favorite candid reactions to something I've made.


About the name of my dish: 'Witchy.'  It's spiked with Liquore StregaLiquore Strega, Witches' Brew, is an Italian herbal liqueur whose bright golden hue comes from the presence of saffron in its formulation.  I remember when I first saw the sunny bottle on a shelf at a bar in Rome.  The bartender let me taste it and when I asked what was in it, he answered: "Tante cose, ma il colore viene da il zafferano." [Many things, but its color comes from saffron.]

Saffron, mint, fennel, and almost seventy other herbs are blended together to make this liqueur.  I was immediately smitten.

About the second part of the name: 'Culinary Fairy Dust.' That's what I think of fennel pollen. It adds something magical to any dish. I have folded it into my La Fée Verte Olive Oil Shortbread, added it to my Roasted Fennel & Cannellini Dip, and garnished my End-of-Days Bloody Orange Mary with it. It's magic I tell you. Magic!

I typically like my chocolate mousse naked.  Minds out of the gutter, please! I don't like to eat chocolate mousse while unclad, though I've never tried that. I could like that, but what I meant to say is that I like to eat my chocolate mousse plain...with no toppings.  I have so many rich flavors at play in my mousse - with espresso and liqueur - that unadulterated seems best - just the mousse and a spoon. 

But every now and then I come across something, a flavor, that speaks to me.  And when I smelled fennel pollen, it said, "Sprinkle me on top of chocolate mousse!"  Just to be clear, food doesn't actually talk to me.  I don't hear little voices in my head.  But I do have bursts of culinary inspiration and for my canister of fennel pollen, chocolate mousse was it.


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds semisweet or bittersweet dark chocolate
  • ½ C espresso
  • ½ C Liquore Strega*
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 C anise-infused heavy cream**
  • ¼ C sugar
  • 8 egg whites
  • pinch of pink Himalaya salt


Procedure
Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler or bain marie over low heat. Stir in the espresso and liqueur. Cool to room temperature. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time.Whip the cream until thick. Gradually add the sugar until stiff peaks form. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the cream. Fold the egg white-whipped cream mixture into the chocolate mixture. Pour into individual serving glasses and refrigerate for – at least – 2 hours before serving.


*If you do not have any Liquore Strega - it is available through BevMo! - Sambuca or Galliano make fine substitutes.

**To make the anise-infused heavy cream, put 1 T of anise seeds into cold cream and let it infuse while you are melting the chocolate.

Once the mousse has set, top with a dollop of unsweetened whip cream.  Dress it up with a dusting of fennel pollen.
Here's what the rest of the crew shared...

Savory Bites:
Sweet Treats:


Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET.  Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Tasting Room, Personalized Wine Club




When I had the chance to test out the new(-to-me) Tasting Room, I did. I was intrigued by the 'personalized' wine experience. Click here to read about their WinePrint™ personalization technology. Pretty interesting, right?

Here's what we did and how it worked. First, we received our package...


...which had six 50mL bottles of wine included, two white and four red.


We read the instructions and set up the tasting as directed. These are photos from the red-tasting portion, tasting wines #3-6.

 

We poured the wines and logged in to the website.


Then we tasted, in order, and logged our preferences. As you can see, Jake didn't care for Wine #4. It wasn't my favorite either. Wine #5 was our second favorite, but Wine #6 was not delicious either.


In the end, Wine #3 was our preferred red.


The verdict: "You love bold, fruit-flavored red wine with significant body - wines exploding with flavor." That is not really news to me.


I do like big reds. But I also like the old-fashioned way of choosing wine. I like wandering into tasting rooms, trying wines, and walking out with bottles of our favorites. Still, the process of "discovering" my wine profile was fun and accurate, I think.

Food'N'Flix: Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs Double Feature {Round-Up}



Food‘nFlixThis month I invited bloggers to join me for August's Food'N'Flix event to watch - and cook from - a double-feature of the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs flicks. Bloggers could choose to watch the original or the sequel or both!

Caroline Makes wrote: "This film is full of food - at one point it rains cheeseburgers - but as the title is so memorable I wanted to make something with meatballs. I've featured meatball recipes on my blog before, like these cheese-stuffed meatballs." Caroline submitted a plate with broccoli trees and mashed potato clouds. I loved that she played with her food!

from Caroline Makes

It's raining meatballs! Gwen of Simply Family Healthy submitted a photo of her Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with Eggplant.

from Simply Family Healthy

Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures couldn't decide what to submit and ended up with two foodimals. Perfect. She made a Buffaloaf, classic meatloaf that was so stinkin' cute! And it tasted good, too. Here's what she wrote: "It was flavorful, moist, and delicious!  Hubs took a bite and said, “Woah.  This is not your standard unglorified meatball.”" Nice.


And she made a Sub-Whale. Not only did she make another adorable foodimal, she made her own hoagie bread. Way to go, Amy!!



More meatballs from Elizabeth at The Lawyer's Cookbook...she made Spaghetti and Bacon Meatballs.


And I also have to share this. She included, "My boyfriend and I even adopted the way they kiss." I laughed so hard because that's how my 10-year-old kisses me goodnight, too. I love silliness.


Cheap Ethnic Eatz's Evelyne made a Layered Jello Yogurt Cake. Evelyne enjoyed that the movie gave a thumbs up for the science geeks and nerdy types. Agreed! She posted: Flint makes a world of Jello for the girl he likes. A whole world of things made of Jello. And this is one of my favorite lines from the movie, her response:

Sam Sparks: [Holding spoonful of jello] It’s a solid, it’s a liquid, it’s a viscoelastic polymer made out of polypeptide chains but you eat it! I mean, it tastes good!


Heather, of girlichef, always ups the ante. For this event - remember the airplane-attacking gummy bears?!? - she made her own Giant Evil Gummy Bears. "These gummy bears are incredibly simple and fast to make. All you need is unflavored gelatin and flavored gelatin mix (like Jell-o). In 20-30 minutes, you (and by you, I mean your totally mean your kids, duh) will be biting the heads off of giant evil gummy bears like nobody's business."

I'll admit, I did order the mold right away. ;)


Another post that wins on the cute factor is the 'StrawBarry' Marshmallow Mousse by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen. "In honor of Barry and the marshmallows, we have a sweet, fluffy (and pretty cannibalistic I guess) 'StrawBarry' Marshmallow Mousse ;-)" Too funny.


Debra at Eliot's Eats sent me her post just under the wire. Phew, you made it! She made a Spicy Rooster Pizza - like the pizza flurries. "I wanted to create my pizza in honor of a favorite menu item at Marley’s in Tulsa. Our favorite creation there is the Italian Rooster (Grilled Chicken, Pepperoni, Jalapeno Peppers & Mozzarella Cheese with Garlic and Oil Glaze).  Here’s my rendition... the “rooster” in the title of this recipe is also an allusion to all the crazy food-animals in the sequel."


And lastly, I had a hard time deciding between meatballs, foodimals, and sardines. I ended up going with sardines because, like Swallow Falls, sardines are important to where I call home: Monterey and California's central coast. While Flint says "sardines...are super gross." I'm grateful that the silver tide is enjoying a resurgence because my family loves sardines. I opted to make an Italian sardine dish - Sarde in Saòr, sweet and sour sardines.


One more! Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm added in her Grilled Corn on the Cob. She posted it in a timely manner, but because I sidetracked her with a 10-day blogging event next month, she forgot to share it with me. So, I'm adding her in a little bit late. Late, but worth the wait! I love the chiffonade of basil.


And one more...really, this is it! Joanne from What's on the List? Added in her Weather Forecast Meatballs to the round-up. Love her advice: "Simple enjoy what the movie has to offer and don’t read anything sinister into the plot, or buy into thinking about the “science creating more harm than good” theory etc."


And that's a wrap - really, this time, it is! - on this month's Food'N'Flix. Thanks so much, all, for watching and participating! Caroline Makes is hosting next month. She selected Funny Girl. That's a new one for me. Can't wait! Keep an eye out for her official invitation.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New to Us: Pichuberries




When D and I were at Whole Foods this evening getting spices for his school project (click to read about that: here), I came across a container of Pichuberries. Since I had never seen those before, I put it on our shopping cart immediately.


Meet the pichuberry!


What is a pichuberry? It's a Peruvian fruit known as aguaymanto or Inca berry. It looks like a small, golden tomatillo; it's about the size of a large marble. R's assessment: it tastes like a mix between a star fruit and a tomato. He's right.

From my reading...the pichuberry has almost 20 times the vitamin C as an orange and could be known as an anti-diabetic fruit. They reduce sugar levels in the blood and stimulating hormones that secrete insulin in diabetic patients.

We will definitely be buying these again. They were tasty!

Spice of D's Life




One of the first projects they do in 5th grade is to identify, research, and express their cultural history. Since R did this two years ago (when he made an R-ball), D already knew the percentages: 50% Filipino, 12.5% Swedish, 12.5% Portuguese, 12.5% German, and 12.5% Irish. Somehow, D decided that the 50% Filipino was itself 50% Filipino and 50% Spanish - since the Philippines was a Spanish colony and Nonno looks like he's from Spain.

Okay, it's your project, Wom.



Here's his progress post for his teacher: D's Spice Box, Part I.

We tossed around a couple of ideas, but since he's such an avid cook, he decided that he would make a box of spices with spices from all of the countries from which his ancestors hailed. Cool idea.

He made a list, checked it twice, and off we went to buy some spices. We already had several of the spices on his list, but he needed juniper berries...



...he also needed dried dill, rosemary, and thyme since we usually only use fresh. He also picked up white peppercorns, annatto seeds, and a few other things.



I'm not sure if the spice box is all he has planned. But I can't wait to cook with these when he's finished!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Haute Hop Sauce




I'll admit that I didn't intend to make a hot sauce with hops. I was just making a sauce with my pepper bounty from our High Ground Organics CSA. Then I got the bag of Cascade hops from the Lamberts. And, instead of using other herbs, I decided to turn the hot sauce into a hoppy affair. This really packs a punch, a bitter and delicious punch.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh peppers (I had Padròns and banana peppers)
  • 3 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 T grey fleur de sel
  • 1 1/2 C white vinegar

Procedure

Wash and dry your pepper. Lay them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roast for 40 minutes - until the peppers are shriveled and golden.


Once roasted, pull the stems from the peppers.


Combine the peppers, garlic cloves, and salt in a blender. Blend for a few pulses. Once the ingredients are roughly combined, drizzle in the vinegar. Blend till smooth.


Transfer sauce to a mason jar and allow to sit in the pantry; the longer it sits, the deeper the flavor that develops. I left mine for about 10 days. Blend the sauce smooth again. Test the sauce and adjust the salt to taste. Transfer to bottles or jars and place in the refrigerator.


This sauce will keep for 3-4 months. I plunked a few hops petals in the jar as a garnish.