Monday, October 12, 2015

#handcraftededibles: Dairy-Free Aztec Hot Chocolate with Whipped Coconut Cream

In an effort to make all of my holiday gifts this year, I invited some of my favorite foodie bloggers to share recipes for hand-crated edibles. Over the course of the next twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes from homemade spice blends (last week's theme) to charcuterie trays and everything in between. Hope you'll follow along for inspiration. You can find out more information, including the schedule: here.

This week, we're sharing our favorite special diets creations. They might be gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, or sugar-free.

Thanks to these gals and their Special Diets Creations!

Next week, check back for our recipes for giftable jarred mixes. Or check out our #handcraftededibles pinterest board.

Made with nut milk and coconut cream, this is not so much something that you would wrap up and gift to someone, but it would be something you could make and serve to a dairy-free friend at a holiday gathering.Though, as I write that, I might actually make a jarred version of this. Hmmm...we'll see next week.

Dairy-Free Aztec Hot Chocolate 
with Whipped Coconut Cream

Ingredients serves 4
Hot Chocolate

  • 4 C non-dairy milk (here's my homemade hazelnut milk)
  • 2 C dark chocolate pieces
  • 2-3 T honey (if not vegan), depending on your taste
  • 2 chili peppers
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • pinch sea salt
  • Optional to make it 21+: 1 ounce brandy or tequila
Whipped Coconut Cream

  • 1 can coconut milk (I prefer the Thai Kitchen full fat version)
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C organic powdered sugar

Whipped Coconut Cream
Chill your coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. When removing from the fridge, being careful not to shake or tip the can; you want the fat to remain separated from the liquid. Before whipping, place a large mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.

Remove the coconut milk from the fridge. Without tipping or shaking, remove the lid. Scrape out the top, thickened cream and leave the liquid behind. You can use that for something else, so set it aside.

Place cream in your chilled mixing bowl. Beat for with a mixer until creamy. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Continue to mix until creamy and smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate.

Hot Chocolate
Place the chili peppers, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and sea salt in a large pot.

Pour in the milk and bring to a vigorous simmer. Turn off the heat and let the flavor infuse for 15 minutes. Bring to a simmer again and add in the chocolate pieces so that they're totally submerged. Let stand for 3 minutes. Whisk until the chocolate is melted. Strain into serving mugs.

For adults, add brandy or tequila, if desired. To serve, top the spiced hot chocolate with a dollop of whipped coconut cream.

Roasted Quince Chia Pudding

The roasted quince elevates this chia pudding - that we eat all the time - to a new Autumnal high! The boys actually asked for seconds, even after they ate their Dragonfruit Waffles. It's so easy, too. 

  • 6 T chia seeds
  • 1 C almond or hazelnut milk (here's my homemade hazelnut milk)
  • 1 C water
  • 1 T honey (I used a wildflower honey from Kimes Apiary in Watsonville)
  • 1 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 quince

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash the quinces to remove their downy coat. Pat them dry and place them in a baking dish . Bake for one or two hours - baking time will depend on the size of the quince -  until they're soft to the touch. Mine took about 90 minutes. Allow to cool.

Pour the milk, water, and honey into a large jar. Add in the chia seeds and the spice. Cover with a lid and shake to combine. Let sit in the refrigerator - to chill and thicken - overnight.

To serve, spoon chia pudding into individual bowls. Peel quince, if desired. Core quince and cut into cubes. Garnish chia pudding with quince. Serve immediately.

Dragonfruit Waffles

I have an entire box of dragonfruit (click for a brief intro to dragonfruit) from Goodland Organics. This morning, I decided to chop them up and use them in our waffles. I also sliced up a few to lay on the top. So easy!


  • 2 C flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • splash of pure vanilla extract
  • dash of ground nutmeg
  • dash of ground cinnamon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3/4 C pureed dragonfruit pulp
  • 1/4 C diced dragonfruit pulp
  • 1 C plain yogurt
  • butter
  • dragonfruit for slicing and serving
  • powdered sugar for serving

Place all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir till just moistened. Cook in your waffle-maker according to its directions in regards to amount of batter and length of cooking.

To serve, rub waffle with butter and sprinkle it with powdered sugar. Lay dragonfruit slices on the top as a garnish.

Introduction to Dragonfruit

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, we embrace the sentiment 'the funkier, the better.' Case in point: the dragonfruit. When I saw them being shipped from Goodland Organics just south of us, I ordered several...along with some caviar limes

Dragon fruit, also known as 'pitaya', is native to tropical parts of Southeast Asia, Mexico, South and Central America. On the plant, its dramatic and aromatic flower opens after dark and is known as the 'Queen of the Night'. The flesh is comparable to a kiwi or a pear, though I don't think it shares the sweetness, just the texture. 

Now, about the post title, they aren't a new-to-me fruit, but I figured they might be new to some of my readers. This is what they looked like in the box...

This is what they look like when you slice them open. The seeds are haphazardly distributed throughout the milky flesh. We talked about how they look like kiwis, but even kiwi seeds have a pattern.

This is how I prepped them. Slice them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the white flesh. Compost the pink. I wonder if there's a way to use the pink's so vibrant and pretty!

You'll see these in a recipe later today. Maybe two.

Have you ever tried dragonfruit? How did you eat it?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

SRC Reveal: Jeweled Squash Rice

It's time for Group B's October 2015 Secret Recipe Club reveal. This month I was assigned to A Spoonful of Thyme which is written by Kathy. Back in May of 2014, I explored her blog and made Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs.

Kathy became part of a gourmet group which really challenged her cooking and enhanced her understanding of food and skill in the kitchen.  It has been 33 years and they are still meeting! That's astounding.

About the name of her blog, she writes: I truly believe that there is always "thyme" to cook and sit down as a family for the evening meal. Cooking is a wonderful way to bring family and friends together to enjoy food and each other. With a good recipe and "a spoonful of thyme" wonderful things can happen!

I considered her Watermelon with Sweet Balsamic Syrup, her German Cucumber Salad, her Scallops Provençal, and her Lemon Drop Martini. But since it's pumpkin time, I opted to make her Jeweled Pumpkin Rice.

Jeweled Squash Rice
slightly adapted from Kathy's Jeweled Pumpkin Rice


  • 1 butternut squash (approximately 2 C of peeled, 1/3" dice)
  • 1 t fine sea salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • pinch of saffron
  • 3-1/2 oz unsalted butter
  • 2-1/2" length of cinnamon stick
  • 4 allspice berries, crushed
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C dried barberries (or currants)
  • 1/4 C chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 2 C rice (I used a Camargue red rice)
  • 2 C vegetable stock
  • 1/4 C fresh chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the diced butternut squash with half  the salt and olive oil. Spread it in a single layer on  a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Roast until tender, approximately for 30 minutes. Mix the saffron with 3 T boiling water and add 1 oz of butter. Set aside. While the squash roasts, boil the red rice for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the remaining butter in a large, flat-bottom pan with the cinnamon and allspice until it foams. Add the onion and the remaining salt. Fry over medium heat until the onion is soft and starting to color. Add the barberries, nuts, and cardamom. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the onion is golden and sweet.

Add the drained rice to the pan, stirring for to coat. Fold in the cilantro, then pour in the stock. Taste for seasoning then scatter with the roast squash. Cover with a tight-fighting lid and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a final 5 minutes.

Remove the lid and drizzle with the butter-saffron water. Replace the lid and leave to rest, off the heat, for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fungi, Fun Guy, & Two Napa Valley Merlots for #winePW #MerlotMe #sponsor

#winePW collides with #MerlotMe
Wine Pairing Weekend - #winePW - happens on the second Saturday of the month. And this month - October 2015 - foodwineclick is hosting. Jeff invited us to jump on the #MerlotMe bandwagon with him. Click to read his invitation..

The MerlotMe website encourages wine lovers to "celebrate the greatness of Merlot throughout the month of October." So, we are. In addition, all of the #winePW bloggers were offered three bottles of Merlot to try, taste, and pair for this event.

Complimentary wine? You bet. I'm in.

About the title of my post: Fungi, Fun Guy, & Two Napa Valley Merlots. I decided to pair the wines with earthier, meaty flavors and settled on mushrooms because I didn't have any truffles. That's the 'fungi' part. The other 'fun guy', well, that's my Love. Our mini boys are off on a Fall Break adventure with my parents. So, Jake and I were able to head outside for a backyard picnic this past weekend.

And, though I received three bottles, I opted to do a lateral, localized tasting and pair only the two Merlots from Napa Valley for this post.

The bottle from L'Ecole No. 41 was immediately tagged for a special vegan dinner I'm preparing for some friends next month. So, you'll have to wait till November for those tasting notes. Besides, being a Washington-based winery, L'Ecole didn't quite fit into my lateral and localized pairing. So, it'll get its own post soon.

A bit more about this varietal before I get into the food and wine pairings. Merlot is a dark almost blue-black colored grape. It is used both as a blending grape - fairly common as an element in Meritage blends - and as a single varietal. It's thought that the name merlot might come from the French word for blackbird, merle.

I'll be honest: Merlot is not a wine I typically buy. I think of them as fruity and simple. So, I'm not a fan. But I was excited to get a curated shipment from the participating wineries and dig in.

All of the MerlotMe participating wineries can be seen here. I received complimentary bottles from Duckhorn VineyardsTwomey, and L'Ecole No. 41.* And I'll talk more as I get into the tasting notes and food pairings, but I was absolutely thrilled to be proven wrong with my "fruity and simple" notion. In fact, I found that Merlot really boasts the same flavors as a Cabernet Sauvignon, but with softer tannins. Jake and I really enjoyed the wines.

The Rest of the #winePW #MerlotMe Offerings
See what our bloggers have cooked up!

With the Duckhorn
I've had Duckhorn before...but their Cabernet Sauvignon, not their Merlot. This was an aromatic Merlot with bright red fruit layers underscored with more earthy notes of fennel, tobacco, spice, and herbs. Deeply nuanced, this velvety wine was both sophisticated and surprising. Remember, I thought Merlots would be fruity and simple. The Duckhorn was anything but. And it paired beautifully with my crisped mushrooms on warmed Le Welsche. Click on the recipe title, below, to go to the original recipe post.

With the Twomey
Also out of Napa Valley, Twomey's is a ninety-six percent Merlot blended with four percent Cabernet France. Velvety smooth, this wine was lusciously full-bodied. It boasted a bright garnet hue and a complex nose of cherry, chocolate, thyme, and lavender. My first thought was: dessert! I thought about sharing an elegant mushroom-scented dessert - think macarons made with dried candy cap mushrooms - that you would serve with wine instead of coffee. But I had to shelve my macaron posting plans this week when my first attempt at macarons flopped.

Instead I am sharing something savory to go alongside roasted leg of lamb and this wine. Click on the recipe title, below the photo, to go to the original recipe post.

Join the #winePW conversation: 
Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you're reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme on Saturday, October 10, from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time.

*Cheers and Thank You!
Grateful to the vineyards who provided complimentary wine for tasting and pairing for this month's #winePW event, in honor of #MerlotMe. Thank you to Jeff, of foodwineclick, for arranging it. And thank you, especially, to Duckhorn VineyardsTwomey, and L'Ecole No. 41. I have received no additional compensation for this post. All statements are 100% mine and 100% accurate.

Duckhorn on the web, on facebook, on twitter

Twomey on the web, on facebook, on twitter

L'Ecole No.41 on the web, on facebook, on twitter

And that's a Wrap...
...on our October #winePW event. We loved the dual pairing of Napa Valley Merlots and mushrooms! I'll pin this recipe and other posts on my #winePW pinterest board. If you try this pairing - or just the wine - I would love to hear what you think. Comment below or tweet to me at @Culinary_Cam.

Cheers from me and my fun guy!

Most Requested Dish: Seafood B'stilla (AKA Moroccan Seafood Pie)

Years ago, I made this for my husband's birthday dinner. It has since become my most requested dish from my circle of friends. Granted, I never make the same thing least not exactly the same. But I decided that I would re-publish this and put in in the Purple Book as this is the dish that has received the loudest ooos and ahhhhhs. Maybe ever. Brian said it succinctly: "two of my favorite things - seafood and pie!"

A note about the seafood: Use whatever seafood you have - make sustainable choices, please! For this b'stilla I used Pink Shrimp (wild-caught, from Oregon), Bay Scallops (farmed), Mussels (farmed), Pacific Cod (longline-caught, from Alaska), Squid, and Shrimp.

Ingredients makes two 9" pies

  • 3 to 4 pounds seafood (I used a mixture)
  • 1 pound of shrimp, separated from the rest
  • 2 T butter
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 fennel, trimmed and chopped
  • juice and zest from 1 organic lemon
  • 1/2 t ground paprika
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh tarragon
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh mint
  • phyllo dough, thawed
  • butter, melted
In a large, flat-bottom pan, melt 2 T butter with a splash of olive oil. Saute the onion and fennel until the onions are transparent and the fennel softened. Add in the seafood - minus the shrimp for garnishing - and season with lemon juice, zest, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper.When seafood is almost cooked, fold in the fresh herbs.

Layer six sheets of phyllo dough is a baking dish, brushing each with melted butter before laying the next one on top. Fill the dish with the seafood mixture, drained of its sauce.  Fold the overhanging pastry towards the middle and cover with two more layers of phyllo, brushing with butter again. Overturn the pie onto a flat baking dish. Brush with melted butter. Bake at 400 degrees till the phyllo dough is browned and crisp, probably about 35 minutes.

In the meantime, marinate shrimp in the cooking liquid. Pour off the liquid and quickly brown the shrimp.

To serve, plate the b'stilla. Lay thinly sliced lemons on the cooked pie and pile on the shrimp. Sprinkle with more fresh herbs.

Tastings of a Sunset for #thebookclubcookbookCC

I will refrain from posting too many thoughts about the book in this post; I'll reserve that for my real post for this month's #thebookclubcookbookCC. But I will share this recipe and that the inspiration for it comes from Three Junes by Julia Glass*. It's our assigned book for October. You can view hostess Wendy's invitation: here.

As Fenno writes about the table at his dad's memorial, he describes: "After the sweet earthy tajine and tart green salad, the peaches in their purple liqueur are served.... The peaches tastings of a sunset." 

That imagery stuck with me. Tastings of a sunset. So vivid and so pretty! 

When I saw quince at the market this week, I couldn't resist creating my own 'tastings of a sunset' - but with quince instead of peaches. Summer stone fruit are all but gone in my part of the country. But quince? Its short season is just beginning and it has always reminded me of sunset!

Quince are golden-hued till you cook them. Then they take on unique shades of pink, orange, and rose. They are beautiful and I love them. Many people have commented that they don't know what a quince is or they haven't ever had a quince. If you're unfamiliar, here's a piece I wrote for Edible Monterey Bay last August: Queen of Quince Takes Her Show on the Road

I had planned to serve the poached quince for dessert with a dollop of whipped cream. But we didn't eat dessert last night. So, I skipped the liqueur, opting to do the final poaching in tea. Then I spooned some cinnamon-scented yogurt over the top and crumbled some of my flopped candy cap mushroom macarons. Delicious.

Ingredients serves 2
  • 2 quince
  • 1/2 C liquid for the final poaching (you can use wine, liqueur, tea, or juice)
  • 3 T honey or maple syrup, divided
  • 1 C plain yogurt
  • dash of ground cinnamon
  • cookie crumbles or granola (I crumbled up some of my flopped candy cap mushroom macarons)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash the quinces to remove their downy coat. Pat them dry and place them in a baking dish . Bake for one or two hours - baking time will depend on the size of the quince -  until they're soft to the touch. Mine took about 90 minutes. Allow to cool.

Slice the quince in half and cut out the core and the stem. Place the quince in a large, flat bottom pan with your poaching liquid and 2 T of honey or maple syrup. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Every five minutes, or so, spoon some of the liquid on top of the quince so that it doesn't get too dry.

Mix yogurt and 1 T of honey or maple syrup with a dash of cinnamon. Set aside.

To serve, place your poached quince in a serving bowl. Drizzle it with your poaching liquid and top with yogurt. Crumble some cookies over the top or use granola. The crunch is a nice texture contrast from the soft quince and creamy yogurt.

What do you think? Does it look like a sunset? 
How would you create a dish that tastes like a sunset?

This month Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm, this month's host, is giving away a copy of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!

One of our lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from October 1st till October 31st at 4 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclosure: Wendy received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp as an opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

*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. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

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