Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smashed Potatoes + Acala Infused Cottonseed Oil {#sponsor product review}


I was recently introduced - through a fellow food blogger (thank you, Sarah of Curious Cuisiniere!) - to Acala Farms and their Flavor-Infused Cottonseed Oil*. 

While I am an ardent culinary adventurer and eager seeker of oddball ingredients, I am fairly pedestrian when it comes to my oil choices. My kitchen is stocked with olive oil - some for cooking lubricant and some for delicious condiment - and that's about it. 

So, when I received the cottonseed oil, I was intrigued. The enclosed literature was fascinating. Acala Farms took its name from the Acala cotton variety that thrives in hot, arid climates. Cottonseed oil was first bottled in the early 1880s, just after Eli Whitney developed the cotton gin. Honestly, I had no idea that cotton was even used as a food crop.

I have to say: I adore Acala Farms' motto of "drizzle, sizzle, sample, and eat". So, I did. This recipe embraces all four of those. I drizzled, I sizzled, I sampled, and I ate...and it was fantastic.


Smashed Potatoes 
by Culinary Adventures with Camilla


I don't know where I first read about 'smashed potatoes.' But the name definitely intrigued me. "Smashing." There's something destructive and aggressive about that word. More so than "mashed." Or is that just me? 


In any case, I decided to try it out. All the recipes I came across were virtually the same: Boil till soft, smash, roast till crisp. That sounds easy enough. I decided to make some loaded smashed potato bites for a sidedish and I used some baby Dutch potatoes that would be two or three bites when finished. I added a drizzle of cottonseed oil and was quite impressed with the results.

Ingredients serves 4 as a first course
  • 8 baby potatoes
  • Acala Farms Flavor-Infused Cottonseed Oil (I used their Fresh Cilantro) for brushing and garnish
  • 1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • handful of oyster mushrooms
  • pat of butter
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
Boil the baby potatoes for 30 minutes - until they are soft and smashable. Drain and let cool for 5 minutes, or until you can handle them comfortably.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lay the potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Smash them with the bottom of a glass. Brush them with oil and return the pan to the oven.


Roast for 35-40 minutes until the potatoes are crisped and browned.


You could eat them just like that with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. I opted to "load" them with a quick saute of chopped leeks and mushrooms in butter...and did a quick drizzle of the cilantro oil to finish the dish.

The Verdict The flavor in the oil was phenomenal. Crisp, fresh, and distinct. I'm a fan! Stay tuned for more recipes when we launch into the #TripleSBites event.

If you’d like to learn more about Acala Farms, visit their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter, @AcalaFarms

If you can’t find Acala Farms locally, you can order directly from their website shop or from Amazon. I'm including affiliate links below. If you are uncomfortable using the links, feel free to go to amazon and search "Acala Farms" on your own!

I received bottles of Fresh Cilantro and Chili Cumin. I have already placed orders to try a few others.






*DISCLOSURE: I received two complimentary bottles of Acala Farms Flavor-Infused Cottonseed Oil for my participation in an upcoming blogging event...and for the purposes of review.  I have received no additional compensation for this post and the opinions expressed here are my own and the recipe shared in the review of this product was not sponsored.

Monday, January 26, 2015

My Crisped Ginger Soy Chicken Wings for #WingWeek at Girlichef

I have a guest post over at girlichef today: Crisped Ginger Soy Chicken Wings. Go check 'em out. They are tasty and so, so easy. Who knew?

#TripleSBites - Celebrating Romance with Spicy, Saucy, and Sexy Bites

I don't really care for Valentines' Day. There, I said it. Something about being the most stressful day of the year when I worked as a florist. Or maybe my disdain goes deeper than that. But I do love romance, particularly romance mixed with tasty food and libations. 


So, when I was debating on a theme for my next blogging event, I decided to wrangle some of my favorite foodie bloggers to create and share recipes that were Triple S worthy. Triple S. That means spicy, saucy, and sexy.

And, notice the "...and Beyond." It's not just for Valentines' Day; these ideas are meant for romantic meals. All. Year. Long.

WHO
Me and these nineteen fabulous food bloggers, listed alphabetically with links to their homepages...


WHAT
An online event showcasing recipes that are Triple S worthy. Triple S. That means spicy, saucy, and sexy. Plus we have a great giveaway thanks to some incredibly generous sponsors, listed alphabetically with links to their homepages...



WHEN
Starting a week from today, there will be 20 bloggers sharing some spicy, saucy, and sexy bites. The event runs from Monday, February 2nd through Monday, February 9th.

WHERE
Find posts on our blogs and shared across social media platforms with the hashtag #TripleSBites. We will be chatting on twitter - Thursday, February 5th from 6pm to 7pm Pacific time.

WHY
Because food and romance are awesome bedfellows. Hope we inspire you to create some fantastic, romantic meals for your sweetheart.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

SRC Rescue: Coconut-Almond Barfi


It's time for Group D's Secret Recipe Club January reveal. This month I get to post a bonus recipe from simply.food, who was left out of Group C's reveal last week.


Nanya lives in the United Kingdom and started simply.food in October 2008. She shares: "I love spending time in the kitchen, creating and styling my dishes so that they can be captured on camera and of course eaten. I have a passion for food props and I adore authentic crockery. My cupboards are exploding with tea towels, crockery of all shapes and colours and many home made props." I'd love an afternoon in her cupboards.

I realized, as I perused her site, that I have cooked from her blog before...sort of. Three years ago, I took part in her Flavours of Singapore Challenge when I made Gajar Halwa, carrot halwa. Here's Nanya's Carrot Halwa.

Her blog provided several options for a dessert to go along with our lamb curry. I thought about her Singapore Coconut Milk Pudding or Barfi (a Milk Pudding). And on the savory side of things which is where I usually land, I considered making her Lesun Chutney (garlic chutney); you can scare away many a vampire with that recipe!

I decided on a version of her Coconut and Mixed Nut Barfi, a quick and easy no cook barfi that's delicately fragranced with ground cardamon and sweetened with rich condensed milk. I didn't have any whole nuts, so I added in black and white sesame seeds to create a visual contrast.


Coconut-Almond Barfi

Ingredients 
  • ½ C sweetened condensed milk
  • 1½ C dried, unsweetened coconut (I used finely shredded coconut)
  • ¾ C finely chopped almonds
  • 1 t ground cardamom
  • 1 t black sesame seeds
  • 1 t white sesame seeds

Procedure
Butter a dish and set aside.

Place the coconut, almonds, cardamom, and sesame seeds in a medium mixing bowl. Mix well. Stir in the condensed milk and create a stiff mixture. Add in more coconut if the mixture is too sticky.

Pat the barfi mixture into your buttered dish, smoothing the surface with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then cut into desired shape. I made diamonds...or are these parallelograms? I'm geometrically-challenged. 

HOW TO: Make a Heart-Shaped Cake without a Heart-Shaped Pan

I don't do many how-to posts. Would you like to see some more?


I thought I'd share this "hack" so you don't feel as if you have to buy a heart-shaped cake pan just to make a heart-shaped cake. This is really a piece of cake...or two cakes. Hehe. Here you go...

For each layer, bake an 8" round and an 8" square. You can use 9" also. Just make sure that the diameter of your circle matches the side of your square. Let cakes cool. It's actually easiest to work with cake layers that have been frozen.


Slice the round cake in half.


Arrange pieces to form a heart.


Adhere the round halves to the square with frosting. Shave the cake down so that the surface is flat.

Eccolà! A heart-shaped cake without a heart-shaped pan. It's almost magic!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Syrena's Seduction Kimchi for #TripleSBites

You will see this Syrena's Seduction Kimchi as part of an upcoming dish. But we will be enjoying it in many different ways.

When I received the Syrena's Seduction hot sauce from Pirate Jonny's* - for participating in the upcoming online blogging event #TripleSBites - I knew that I wanted to make some kind of kimchi. We just love homemade kimchi.


Ingredients
  • 1/4 C salt (I used a red salt from Hawaii)
  • enough warm water to submerge all the cabbage
  • 1 large head of savoy cabbage, cored and leafed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 C hot sauce (I used Syrena's Seduction by Pirate Jonny's*)
  • 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 3 T ginger syrup

Procedure
In a large mixing bowl place salt and cabbage pieces. Add in enough warm water to dissolve the salt. Submerge the cabbage into the salt water and weigh it down with a plate, so it stays submerged. Let cabbage soak and soften in the brine for 2 hours.


Once the cabbage has finished soaking, drain, rinse it and squeeze it gently to remove excess liquid. Tear the cabbage into 2" pieces. Place everything in a large mixing bowl.


Use your hands (or tongs instead if you have any open cuts as the vinegar can sting) to thoroughly incorporate the hot sauce mixture with the cabbage.

Pack the kimchi into a clean jar - or a few jars. Screw the lid on tightly and keep in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight (my pantry worked well for this) for 3-4 days. After 3 days, open the jar and look for tiny bubbles. If it’s begun to bubble, it’s ready to serve or to be refrigerated. If it hasn’t yet begun to bubble, leave it for another day. The kimchi will continue to ferment in your refrigerator and should be consumed within a month.


Thanks, Pirate Jonny's* - just one of our #TripleSBites sponsors - for ingredients used in this recipe.


*Full Disclosure: I received a bottle of Syrena's Seduction from Pirate Jonny's for participating in #TripleSBites. Feel free to use whatever hot sauce you have on-hand. I received no additional compensation for this post; all comments are 100% accurate and 100% my own.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Chai Sweet Chili Pickled Cherries for #TripleSBites

You will see these Chai Sweet Chili Pickled Cherries as part of an upcoming dish. But they would be a wonderful addition to any cheese and charcuterie platter.


When I received the Chai Sweet Chili sauce from Intensity Academy* - for participating in the upcoming online blogging event #TripleSBites - I knew that I wanted to make some kind of pickles. Then I saw cherries at Whole Foods and a lightbulb went on. Pickled Cherries. I mirrored the spices you would use in chai instead of the typical pickling spices.


Ingredients

  • 1/3 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 t salt (I used a red Hawaiian salt)
  • 1 t coriander seeds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • 1/2 C organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 T Chai Sweet Chili sauce (thanks, Intensity Academy*)
  • 1 pound fresh cherries

Procedure
In a small saucepan, combine water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and stir in Chai Sweet Chili sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Destem and pit your cherries. You can use a cherry-pitter or, as the Precise Kitchen Elf demonstrated for me, you can use a straw. So, I pushed the pits out with a stainless steel straw. Easy peasy.


Place cherries in a glass jar. Layer in the spices, sugar, and salt.


Pour in enough vinegar mixture to cover cherries and almost completely fill the jar. Place the jar on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and no more than 2 weeks.

Thanks, Intensity Academy* - just one of the #TripleSBites sponsors - for ingredients used in this recipe.


*Full Disclosure: I received a bottle of Sweet Chai-Chili Sauce from Intensity Academy  for participating in #TripleSBites. Feel free to use whatever sweet-hot sauce you have on-hand. I received no additional compensation for this post; all comments are 100% accurate and 100% my own.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cook the Books: Braised Duck with Vanilla Bean Sauce


This round Rachel, at The Crispy Cook, selected Sustenance & Desire: A Food Lover's Anthology of Sensuality and Humor by Bascove for our December 2014-January 2015 Cook the Books project. Click to see her invitation.

This post contains an Amazon-affiliate link at the bottom 
- for the book.

This was the perfect selection to span the holidays. There was no plot to follow, characters of which to keep track, all the while trying to balance holiday parties and general end-of-the-year mayhem. This was a delightful collection of poems, paintings, and short editorials that could be read, furtively, while waiting for the kids to fall asleep so Santa could crumble the cookies and fill the stockings!

There were many moments of inspiration. I considered doing something with artichokes...

The artichoke
of delicate heart erect
in its battle-dress, builds
its minimal cupola...
-Pablo Neruda
...or something with cheese...

...O cheese of gravity, cheeses of wistfulness, cheeses
that week continually because they know they will die.
O cheeses of victory, cheese wise in defeat, cheeses
fat as a cushion, lolling in bed until noon.
-Donald Hall

In the end, I found inspiration in Natasha Sajé's "Creation Story."

Vanilla...
Green pods are cured dark walnut brown.
Sliced open lengthwise: infinitesimal seeds,
printer's ink. Their black flecks ice cream
or a sauce for pheasant...
...From the Spanish vainilla,
diminutive of Latin, vagina,
the term for sheath.


I thought I'd make a vanilla sauce for pheasant, as she mentions. I made Pheasant en Crème for my mom's birthday dinner one year and we thoroughly enjoyed it. But I couldn't find a pheasant this week. So, I decided to make braised duck with vanilla bean sauce instead.


Ingredients
Braised Duck
  • 2 duck legs
  • 2 duck breasts
  • 2 large onions, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and thickly sliced
  • 2 C diced celery root
  • 2 C chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced open lengthwise
Vanilla Bean Sauce
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 2 vanilla bean
  • 2 sprig rosemary
  • 1/2 C vodka
  • 1 C chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C cherries
  • olive oil
  • fresh rosemary, for garnish

Procedure
Braised Duck
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a Dutch oven, place duck legs and duck breasts, skin side down. Turn heat to medium. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes until the fat is rendered and the skin golden and crisped.


Flip to the other side and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.


Remove the duck to a plate. Place the onions, fennel, and celery root in the Dutch oven. Lay the browned duck pieces on top. Pour in the chicken stock and add the vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, cover, and place in the oven. Braise for 90 minutes.


Raise the temperature of the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the cherries in a mixing bowl with a splash of olive oil. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Return the duck to the oven, uncovered, on one rack. Place the cherries on another rack. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes.


Vanilla Bean Sauce
While duck is in the oven, make the vanilla bean sauce. Melt the butter in a large, flat-bottom pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for one minute, until softened and translucent. Split the vanilla beans and scrape the seeds into the pan, then drop in the pods. Pour in the chicken stock and vodka. Add the rosemary and stir. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half in volume. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce coats the back of the spoon. Set aside; keep warm.

To serve, plate the duck. Spoon the vanilla bean sauce over the top. Top with a few roasted cherries. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary.

This was a treat to read and a treat to eat. I will definitely keep this on my bookshelf for inspiration.



Deb of Kahakai Kitchen selected our February-March selection. Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl. Deadline is March 30th. Hope you'll join us.



*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the book or item of your choice.

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