Sunday, March 31, 2013

Celeriac-Cabbage Slaw

For a side dish - to complement my Salmon en Croute - I used the celery root and cabbage from our High Ground Organics CSA box.

1 celery root, peel and julienned
1 teeny, tiny head of cabbage, thinly sliced
olive oil
raw pistachios
fennel pollen
sea salt

In a large mixing bowl toss the celery root and cabbage together until well mixed. Dress with olive oil, vinegar, and honey. Toss to coat. Stir in pistachios. Season with fennel pollen and sea salt. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Brie & Carrot Marmalade Toasts {Easter}

For the first course of our Easter feast, I served some brie toasts smeared with carrot marmalade.

Bread + Brie + Carrot Marmalade

Salmon en Croute

I don't know why I had this dish in my head. It's not as if I needed anything else to eat today after our La Balena adventure for lunch. But I really wanted to make it for Easter dinner. So, here we go...

Pâte Brisée (chilled)
2 C chard, chiffonade
1 T crushed garlic
salmon filets
sea salt flakes
fennel pollen
1 egg, beaten

In a large flat bottom pan, quickly saute the chard and crushed garlic until just barely wilted. Roll out your Pâte Brisée to the length of your salmon, plus 2 inches on each end. On a piece of parchment paper, lay your chard to the length that you need for your salmon. Lay the salmon, skin side up, on top of the chard. Gently fold the dough over to form an envelope - first the long side, then the ends. Press the seams together gently.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll the salmon so that the seam side is down. Then brush the top with an egg wash. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and fennel pollen.

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 35-40 minutes...until the crust is browned and crisp to the touch.

Let the Salmon en Croute cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve hot.

*Update 4/5/2013: added this to Katherine Martinelli's Salmon Linky Party.*

Pâte Brisée

Pâte Brisée is a pastry dough/crust that has a rich flavor and a crisp, flaky texture. It is ideal for both sweet and savory pies, tarts, and quiches. Learn to make it. Stat. I whipped up a batch to envelope some salmon for our Easter feast.

2-1/2 C all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 C finely ground blanched almonds or almond flour
1 C butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 to 8 T ice water

I don't have a food processor, so I use a pastry blender and do it all by hand. Place the flour, ground almonds, and cold butter in a large bowl. Use the patry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add ice water 1 T at a time, until mixture just begins to clump together. If you squeeze some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and cut again. Note that too much water will make the crust tough. Once the dough comes together into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

Roll out the Pâte Brisée between two pieces of parchment paper.

Another La Balena Adventure

When my dad said that he wanted to go out for an Easter lunch, I didn't even skip a beat in suggesting, "La Balena!" Why? The food, the owners, the chef, their philosophy, their quality, the atmosphere, and - oh, did I already mention?!? - the food.

To me, holiday meals are about family. I want to linger. I want to chat. I want to spend time with the people that I love. So, we usually don't go out to eat on holidays. But I have to say, lunching at La Balena today was perfect...and a culinary adventure to boot.

Emmanuele brought out a plate of Tripa Toscana for us to try share. Tripa? Tripe?! I know lots of people eat it. I am not one of them. Usually.

But, it was worth it. I actually had seconds...and so did Riley. So tender it melted in my mouth. And the flavors were complex. I'm not sure what was in there, but it was delicious. Just like Brian admits to now eat beets - but only at my house. I will say that I eat tripe - but only at La Balena.

The other dish that Emmanuele brought out for us to try: rabbit loin. On a bed of greens and fava beans.

Dylan took a bite and asked what it was. "Rabbit," answered Emmanuele. Dylan didn't say a word until after Emmanuele left. Rabbit?!? As in the Easter Bunny?!? "No," I assured him, "it wasn't the Easter Bunny. Okay. And he kept eating.

Photo by La Balena Carmel
We also feasted on Alaskan halibut that Chef Brad picked up in Santa Cruz. I saw this photo on facebook this morning and knew that someone at our table would order it. In fact two someones ordered it - Jake and Riley.

We had wild boar and potato frittata; meatballs, zuppa rustica with lots of greens; two kinds of pecorino and gorgonzola dolce; cantaloupe, peach, and pear mostarda; blood orange and limoncello sorbetti, pizzelle; affogato; and more.

What a perfect Easter lunch. Complimenti to everyone at La Balena...e Buona Pasqua!

Cuore di Pasqua {Easter}

I didn't have any dove paper pans to make the traditional Columba di Pasqua; I had heart pans. So, this year, I made Cuore di Pasqua...and I blended the recipes for a traditional buttery brioche and a traditional Columba.

1/2 C warm water
1 T active dry yeast
5.9 oz package almond paste (in the baking aisle of most grocery stores)
6 extra-large eggs*, at room temperature
4-1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 t sea salt
10 T butter, at room temperature
splash of olive oil

*We were so happy use our Fogline Farm eggs for this special bread!

Combine the water and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Let bloom for 5 minutes. Add the eggs and pinches of almond paste 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. Scrape the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

This is what the dough looked like after 17 hours. Let the dough come to room temperature, leaving it on the counter for an hour. Stir in 10 T of butter and whatever dried fruits and nuts you want to use. I used 1 C dried cherries and 1 C raw pistachios.

Place your dough in your baking pans and let rise for 2 hours. During the last 15 minutes of the rise, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and make your topping.

1/2 C organic granulated sugar
1/2 C ground almonds
2 large egg whites
1 C sliced almonds
granulated honey

Beat all topping ingredients except almonds and granulated honey together. Gently spoon over the breads. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and granulated honey. Bake for 45 minutes.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Orange-Fennel Mostarda

Though a cognate for what comes out of a bright yellow squeeze bottle, this relish has very little in common with that Easter egg-colored condiment. Mostarda is a chunky agrodolce (sour-sweet) sauce made with whatever fruit you have on hand and is a delicious topping for everything from cheese to roasted meats.

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
1 T crushed garlic
juice and orange segments from 2 oranges
2 T raw organic honey
4 T vinegar
2 t water
1 t ground mustard
2 T carrot top greens, triple-rinsed and rough chopped
2 pinches sea salt flakes

In a large flat-bottom pan, soften the garlic and fennel in a splash of olive oil. Once softened, add in the orange zest, orange juice, honey, vinegar, and water. Whisk in the ground mustard until completely dissolved. Simmer for 50-60 minutes, until the fennel is almost translucent and the sauce syrupy. To finish, stir in the carrot top greens and season with salt.

You'll be seeing this tomorrow on my Easter cheese tray.

Carrot Marmalade Thumbprint Cookies {Easter}

Looking for something to do with my carrot marmalade, I decided to make thumbprint cookies for tomorrow.

3/4 C butter, at room temperature
3/4 C organic granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
2 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C ground almonds
zest and juice from one blood orange

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in the egg yolks until incorporated. Stir in the flour and ground almonds until a flaky dough is formed. Add in the zest and juice, gently working the dough until it forms a ball.

Pinch off pieces of dough and form into small balls, about the size of a walnut in its shell. Place each ball onto the baking stone or baking sheet, pressing a "thumbprint" into the center of each and slightly flattening. (The cookies will not spread, so make them the size that you want!) Add about 1/2 t to 1 t of whatever jam or jelly you have on hand to each thumbprint and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cookies cool for several minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Carrot Marmalade {Easter}

I was inspired to make some carrot marmalade because tomorrow is Easter. You know...Easter...bunny...carrots...sweet. Well, that's how my brain works anyway. I found carrot marmalade recipes that included brandy, lemon juice, and even bitter almonds. I decided to make a version that used a whole vanilla pod, four cardamom pods, saffron liqueur, and a handful of the carrot top greens. Don't toss those greens, they are herbaceous and nutritious...just be sure you rinse out all of the dirt!


  • 1 whole vanilla pod, split down the middle
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1/4 C raw organic honey
  • 1/2 C organic raw sugar
  • 10 carrots, scrubbed and shredded
  • 4 C water
  • 1 handful of carrot top greens, triple-rinsed and rough chopped
  • 2 T saffron liqueur (substitute brandy, if you wish)

To make the jam, place the vanilla, cardamom, honey, water, and sugar into a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add in the carrots, bring to a boil again. Continue to cook, stirring the jam constantly, for about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, hold the jam at a constant simmer, checking frequently to make sure the jam isn’t scorched at the bottom of the pot.

After 15 more minutes, check to see if your jam has set by running a wooden spoon down the middle of your jam. If the jam leaves a path, it's set. If the liquid runs back to fill the path, cook it a little bit longer. At the end, remove the vanilla pod and cardamom pods, finish with the saffron liqueur and stir in the greens.   Place the jam in sterilized jars, leaving about a 1/2" gap to the top. Gently tap the bottom of each jar on the counter to release any air bubbles. Using a damp clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars and secure the lids and rings. Process in a water bath for 10-15 minutes. Remove the containers with tongs and let cool on the counter.

You’ll hear the sound of can tops popping shortly—a sign that a secure seal has been made. Or, you can refrigerate the jar without processing and use it within three weeks. Enjoy!

You'll be seeing this on my Easter brioche tomorrow morning and - maybe - as a spoon sweet on my salmon en croute for tomorrow's dinner.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Roasted Chicken {Fogline Farm}

Ever since we visited Fogline Farm last week, and saw their Cornish Cross chickens and the layers, my boys have been asking me when we'll get to try the chickens and the eggs. The answer: today!

Since my office was closed in the afternoon for Good Friday, we were able to make it to the Friday farmers' market and pick up a chicken and a dozen eggs from Johnny and Ali. Woohoo. I wanted to really highlight the taste of the chicken, so I seasoned simply.

Preheat the oven to 400. Stuff the bird with whatever you have on hand to help it keep its shape - an apple, an orange, an onion, whatever.

I stuffed our Fogline bird with a onion, sprinkled it with freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Cover with a foil and roast, covered for 60 minutes. Uncover and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes. Rub the skin with melted butter and lemon juice, if desired. Carve and serve.

We called this dinner with some blanched asparagus and Easter pasta!

Can you taste the difference between a Fogline Farm chicken and, say, a Tyson chicken? Absolutely! We were so happy with our chicken tonight: (1) it was moist; (2) it was delicious; and - most importantly - (3) we knew how it was raised, where it was raised, and who raised it. Yeah, Johnny and Ali! We love your chickens. Can't wait to make it to the market for another one. Next week...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cream of Celeriac Soup

I had a handful of these "not lovely" knobs in my High Ground Organics CSA box this afternoon: celeriac or celery root. What they lack in aesthetics, they make up for in subtle, gorgeous flavor. I would say that they taste like celery mixed with parsley.


  • 2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 celeriac, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 T butter
  • 6 C organic chicken broth
  • 1 t celery seeds
  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • 1/2 C shredded parmesan

In a large soup pot, melt the butter in a splash of olive oil. Saute the leeks and celeriac until caramelized and softened. Add the celery seeds and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for an hour or so. Just before serving, stir in the cream. Garnish with the cheese and serve hot.

Snakebites to Eat and Drink {Pass the Cookbook}

Last month the Pass the Cookbook series kicked off under the leadership of Kita, the culinary force behind the Pass the Sushi blog. We had the option of cooking one of three recipes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond; I opted to make her her pots de creme.

This month, Kita selected three recipes from Guy Fieri. Though I have never seen his show and don't own his cookbook, I decided to expand my culinary horizons and join the fun. These are from Guy Fieri's Food: Cookin' It, Livin' It, Lovin' It.  Our options were: Asian-fried Quinoa (click for recipe on his website), Cherry Cobbler Pizza (click for recipe on his website), and the Snake Bite. I decided to make the last one on the list - though I made a few changes. I swapped wine for beer, dumped the onions - because I never mix garlic and onions! -, and used fresh herbs instead of dried.

Apologies in advance. I made this while we were on vacation last week and I must have dumped the photos off my SD card before I got it downloaded. Ugh. Sorry!

¼ lb bacon, cut into ½” pieces
4 T butter
3 T minced garlic
½ C beer (I had Guinness left over from St. Patty's Day!)
2 C diced tomatoes
2 T Worcestershire sauce
½ C organic chicken stock
1 t cayenne pepper
2 T fresh basil
2 T fresh oregano
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 T smoked paprika
2 T fresh thyme
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t freshly ground sea salt
2 lbs shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
splash of olive oil
1 C thinly sliced green onions
1 C heavy cream
8 ciabatta rolls, split
garlic butter - as needed
¼ C chopped cilantro
3 T shredded basil

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until just crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan, over medium-high heat, melt 1 T butter, add the garlic, and cook 2-3 minutes, until just starting to brown. Add ¼ C of the beer and deglaze pan. Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and the chicken stock. Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

In a large bowl, combine the herbs and spices. Add the shrimp and toss to coat in the mixture. In a separate skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and 2 T of butter. Add the shrimp, reserving and extra spice mix and cook for about 90 seconds per side, or until a bit pink. (they will not be fully cooked). Transfer to a plate.

Raise the heat to medium-high, add the remaining beer and scrape up any browned bits. Add the green onions, reserving 2 to 3 T for garnish. Add any remaining spice mix, and cook until the liquid has reduced by ⅓. Add the cream, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer until reduced by another ⅓.

Meanwhile, spread the rolls with garlic butter and toast them.

Add the shrimp to the tomato sauce and stir in the reduced cream, cilantro, and basil. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, to finish cooking the shrimp. Stir in the remaining 1 T butter. Garnish with reserved green onions, piling a generous portion of shrimp and sauce on the bottom of each of the rolls, topping with the buns. Serve immediately.

And, just for kicks, I poured some Snakebite drinks for me and Jake...

 1/2 Pint cider
 1/2 Pint lager
 1 shot Blackcurrant  rhubarb syrup

Add the shot of syrup to the bottom of a pint glass, then add the lager and the cider. To finish it off with style drizzle an S into the head with some more of the rhubarb. A drink for the sweet tooth, goes down more easily than either cider or lager and is incredibly refreshing.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Guinness Chocolate Cake {St. Patty's}

While I actually made this on St. Patrick's Day, I was offline all last week. So, I'm playing catch up now. This Guinness Chocolate Cake wrapped up our corned beef, cabbage, and potato dinner.

1 C Guinness, 1 C butter, ¾ C unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 C white whole wheat flour, 2 C organic cane sugar, 1½ t baking soda, ¾ t sea salt, 2 large eggs, 2/3 C sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter your baking dish. Combine the Guinness and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk till smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In another mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend. Add the stout-butter mixture and beat just to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Spoon batter into buttered baking dish. 

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I served this with some homemade Irish Cream Liqueur. Éirinn go Brách!

Taste and Create: Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Grapefruit Marmalade

This is my first month participating in Taste and Create.

The recipe of hers that I picked for inspiration - Honey Orange Pork Tenderloin - would have been easier if I remembered to bring orange marmalade. I was making this while we were out of town last week. Instead of going to the store, which certainly was an option, I decided to make some marmalade with the citrus I had: pink grapefruit.

1/2 C grapefruit marmalade (thinly sliced grapefruit, organic granulated sugar, and water)

3 T pear vinegar
3 T soy sauce
1 1/2 T minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 t organic raw honey
2 T olive oil
1 lb pork tenderloin
freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 5 ingredients, whisking well and reserving 2 T marmalade mixture for later.

Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Add pork to pan; cook 5 minutes or until nicely browned on all sides. Brush with 1/4 C marmalade mixture.

Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes. Turn pork over and brush with 1/4 C marmalade mixture. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the meat is firm to the touch. Remove pork from pan; brush with reserved 2 T marmalade mixture.

Let stand 10 minutes, then slice. Serve with remaining sauce to dip in. I rounded out the plate with green lentils and blanched asparagus. Yum.

Food Matters Project: Dal with Lots of Vegetables

This week  Anita of Cooking Poetry picked our Bittman recipe for the week: Dal with Lots of Vegetables. Here's what the creative cookers made (look in the comments section).

I actually made this last week while we were out of town, at Lake Tahoe. What a perfect dish to combat the chill from sledding all day. It was a hit!

Bittman writes that dal, in India, is often a thin lentil stew...but that if vegetables and meat are available, they're added. He also states that there's no need to be finicky about what kinds of veggies you use. So, I used what I had on hand.

1 T olive oil
1 C chopped sweet onions
2 strips of applewood smoked bacon, diced
1 T minced ginger
2 C chopped lacinto kale
1 C wild arugula
1 C baby spinach
1 C mixed baby greens
1 diced carrot
4 cardamom pods
1 T mustard seeds
2 whole cloves
freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
2 C green lentils
2 C organic chicken broth

In a large souppot, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the bacon and cook until the fat is rendered but the bacon is not yet crispy. Then add the onions, carrot, and ginger, cooking until softened. Add in cardamom, mustard, and cloves and heat until fragrant, but not burning. Stir in the greens, lentils, and chicken broth. Fill the pot with water until everything is covered by about an inch of liquid. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender, approximately 35-40 minutes. Remove the pods and cloves before serving. Serve hot over brown basmati rice.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Irish Cream Liqueur

I saw 'homemade Irish cream liquor' pop up on Punk Domestics facebook wall this morning and started clicking. First there was Southern Faire's version, with half-and-half plus heavy cream. Arctic Garden Studio's version includes instant espresso powder. Hmmm....

The one I ended up using for my jumping off point was Design Sponge's Irish Cream; it calls for honey and dark cocoa powder. I might give the Irish Flag cocktail a go from this site - after I make some Irish carbomb cupcakes, of course.

I used espresso instead of coffee, doubled up on the vanilla, and skipped the almond extract and chocolate completely.

1 C espresso
1 whole vanilla pod + 1 pod for each container
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1 t instant espresso powder
1 T honey
1/2 t unsulphered molasses
1 t pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 C organic dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 T white whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking powder
2 C whiskey

Pour the hot espresso over the whole vanilla pod and steep until cool. In a large sauce pan, pour the espresso and vanilla pod. Add the cream, instant espresso powder, honey, molasses, and vanilla extract. Whisk thoroughly. Simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken.

While that is cooking, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, flour, and baking powder. Remove the saucepan from the heat; whisk in the egg mixture. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Then whisk in the whiskey until completely blended. Transfer to sterile lidded containers, drop in a whole vanilla pod in each jar, and store in the fridge. 

Éirinn go Brách!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chocolate-Honey Silk Pie {Pi Day}

Since last year's Chocolate Silk Pie was such a hit, I decided to make v.2.

1 baked pie crust
3/4 C butter, softened
1 C organic granulated sugar
1-1/2 C chipped dark chocolate
1 T organic raw honey
3 medium eggs, separated

Melt chocolate in a double boiler.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter at medium to high speed for about a minute. Add sugar and honey; beat until light and fluffy. It must be mixed long enough so it is no longer gritty.

Slowly add the melted chocolate to the butter mixture, beating on low to medium speed until the chocolate is well-blended and mixture is smooth and creamy.

On medium speed, add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each one before adding the next egg. In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Spread into baked pie crust. Let cool. Top with unsweetened whipped cream and, if you like, make a pi symbol with chocolate chips.

Apple Crumb Pie {Pi Day}

Okay, so I won't win any nutritional awards for this one, but I served my family pie for breakfast today. It had apples! And it's Pi Day. You know... 3/14. In any case, it has apples and whole wheat; it's not completely devoid of nutrition.

2 lbs apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 C organic granulated sugar
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 t ground cinnamon
2 T butter

Stir the apples with the sugar and spices and scoop them into your baking dish. Dot the apples with butter. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

1/4 C butter
1/4 C organic brown sugar
1/2 C white whole wheat flour

Use a pastry cutter to create pea-sized chunks with the topping ingredients. Top the pie with the crumb topping. Bake for an hour until the apples are soft and bubbly.