Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chocolate-Cherry Crisp

We always raid the cherry trees after Gabe's birthday party. This year was no different!

As soon as we got home, Dylan pulled out his cherry pitter and pitted 4 C of cherries for dessert.

Then we just needed to decide what to make.

Cherry pie was an obvious choice as was Clafoutis. Then I remembered a Croatian Cherry Cake with Maraschino Liqueur. I also considered some Cherry Hand Pies.

In the end, I decided to make a Chocolate-Cherry Crisp. I still have more cherries, so I guess I'll get to make something else this week.

4 C fresh, pitted cherries
2 T flour
1/2 C dark chocolate chips

6 T butter
1 C flour
1/3 C organic, granulated sugar
1/4 C ground almonds
1/2 t ground cardamom

Mix the cherries and flour together until the cherries are well-covered. Pour them into a pie dish. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cherries. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix all of the crisp ingredients together with a pastry cutter until combined and crumbly. Top the fruit with the crumble and bake until the filling is bubbling and the crisp beginning to brown. It might take 50-55 minutes. Serve immediately, or while still warm.

Liberating Cherries from Gabe's Trees

Every year we pick cherries at the end of Gabe's birthday party. They have Bing and Stella trees; I'm not sure what we were picking, but we had a blast!

Look for cherry recipes to come. Dylan had his cherry pitter out as soon as we got home.

Coconut Oil Pannekoeken

I saw a post from a fellow food blogger this morning, stating: "I believe there are omelet people and pancake people. Discuss." Agreed. I am an omelet person who lives with three pancake people. But since my three pancake people don't like my pancakes, I make Dutch Pannekoeken.

Click to read how I re-discovered this childhood favorite during a cookbook review for Shauna Sever's Pure Vanilla

I decided to give favorite recipe a try without using butter in the batter. No particular reason...just because...I thought it would be an interesting variation. And I love the way it smells.

1-1/3 C milk
6 eggs
2 T coconut oil, melted
1/2 t ground cardamom
1/2 t baking powder
1-1/3 C white whole wheat flour

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Butter two baking dishes and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, melted coconut oil, and ground cardamom. Blend in the flour and baking powder. Whisk for a full minute.

Pour the batter into your prepared dish and bake until the Pannekoeken is puffed and golden, approximately 30 to 35 minutes.

So, I served the three pancake people the Pannekoeken and whipped up a dish of wilted arugula and eggs simmered in tomato sauce for myself.

What do you think? Are you an omelet person or a pancake person?

Jiro Dreams of Sushi-Inspired Round-Up {Food'N'Flix}

Here we go. Below are all of the submissions for the June Food'N'Flix event where I selected Jiro Dreams of Sushi as our inspiration and starting point. If you haven't seen this, you should!

Meet Jiro Ono. His restaurant only serves sushi. As they tell one customer: no appetizers, no sake. Just sushi. The restaurant is tucked into a subterranean space and only has 10 seats at a counter. Despite that less than sexy location and configuration, Jiro has been awarded three stars, the highest possible rating, by the Michelin Guide.

Director David Gelb paints the picture of a man whose relationship with sushi is passionate, vacillating between love and madness. Jiro is a perfectionist and his apprentices must strive for that perfection as well. At one point the narrator describes how apprentices spend weeks learning how to squeeze out a towel properly before ever touching a piece of food. One apprentice spent months perfecting tamagoyaki. And to prepare the octopus, someone spends as long as forty-five minutes massaging the octopus. Can you imagine having that job?!?

This is a portrait of extreme focus almost to the point of tunnel vision. Maybe not tunnel vision, exactly, because he is not oblivious. He is, instead, acutely aware of his customers. He notices when patrons are right or left-handed and seats them according to that. He makes his sushi pieces slightly smaller for women - to make them comfortably bite-sized. And he presents the sushi to match the pace of the eater. The narrator explained that a fast eater might be finished in as little as 15 minutes. That's $300 worth of sushi in 15 minutes. $20 per minute.

He has forged relationships with the vendors to the point where vendors will set aside fish for him and some refuse to sell their rice to anyone else. But his singular focus on sushi has definitely strained his personal life. His relationships with his sons is largely devoid of affection, though he seems to want the best for them. Jiro is certainly a true artist. A sushi master. No wonder he dreams of sushi.

So, here's what the Food'N'Flixers whipped up this month. Thanks to all who participated. I know summer is a busy time for everyone.

Debra, from Eliot's Eats, made some Yakitori Skewers. Debra admits that she has never tried sushi and definitely doesn't dream about it. But, after watching this, she said that she will try it as soon as she can. In the meantime, she made these chicken meatball skewers in a riesling-sake sauce. KungFu Girl riesling. While I'm not a huge fan of riesling, typically, I would buy a bottle just for the name! 


Salad with Shogun Sauce
Evelyne, from Cheap Ethnic Eatz, whipped up a Salad with Shogun Sauce. She had had the DVD sitting on her coffee table for months, but had never seen it.It was serendipity that I picked it; Food'N'Flix was her impetus to finally pop it in. Evelyne's salad had a surprising twist: seasonal, sweet watermelon. Follow her on twitter, if you'd like: @cethniceatz. I know I will be.

An Onigiri Parade
As for me, duly humbled by Jiro's creations - and knowing full well I wouldn't even come close - I decided to focus on rice. For dinner one evening, I created an Onigiri Parade with everything from wrapped onigiri and sprinkled onigiri to stuffed onigiri

Chocolate Mochi
Caroline, from Caroline Makes, made some Chocolate Mochi. Kudos to you, Caroline, for making something I have only ever purchased and had no idea where to start. Thanks to your recipe - and how-to photos - I will give this a go soon as mochi is a family favorite. Caroline, if you're still looking for something to do with your leftover the sweet rice flour, try some MOffins.

Olive Oil Poached Tuna
Heather, of girlichef, on whom I really do have a girlicrush, offered up some Olive Oil Poached Tuna. I have poached salmon in olive oil, but never tuna. Looks delicious, as always. You can find Heather on twitter @girlichef.

Spicy Ahi Tuna Towers
Deb, from Kahakai Kitchen, made some gorgeous reconstructed Spicy Ahi Tuna Towers. Gor. Geous. And she, graciously, offered to talk anyone through how to make these. Sign me up.

Very grateful to all who participated in my Food'N'Flix event. 
~Camilla, Culinary Adventures with Camilla

P.S. If you'd like to join the fun for next month, we're watching - and cooking - Monsoon Wedding. Heather at girlichef is hosting.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cooking Around the World: Cabbage Rolls. Beet Salad. Chickpea Pudding {Moldova}

I had to get out my atlas for this one. Moldova? Never heard of it!

Landlocked Moldova lies between Romania and Ukraine and consists of hilly grasslands flanked by the Prut and Dniester Rivers. Mostly pastoral lands, Moldova was part of Romania before World War II, and a majority of Moldovans still speak Romanian. Soviets annexed Moldova in 1940, and Russians and Ukrainians settled in the industrial region east of the Dniester (known as Transdniestria). After Moldova gained independence in 1991, Transdniestria seceded, making Tiraspol its capital.

Here's what we made. Click on the titles to go to the recipe post.

Sarmale (Stuffed Cabbage Leaves)

These Culinary Adventurers are heading to Monaco next in our Cooking Around the World journey. Have you been cooking along? If so, what's your favorite cuisine so far?

Chickpea Pudding {Moldova}

This is a surprising sweet although mine is not a totally traditional version. A traditional Moldovan pudding uses yogurt or sour cream. 

I have never used chickpeas for a dessert. I definitely will do it again soon.

2 C precooked chickpeas
3 T honey
3 T ricotta
2 T heavy whipping cream
1 t ground cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until preferred texture is achieved. Scrape down the sides, as needed. Pour into individual serving dishes.

Moldovan Beet Salad

This is a Moldovan recipe for a traditional salad of cooked beets mixed with nuts, garlic and mayonnaise. I'm sure the beets used are usually magenta; I had golden beets in my CSA box, so I used those.

This was not a hit. Here's how the conversation went with Riley...

R: I don't like coleslaw.
C: It's not coleslaw.
R: I don't like sauerkraut.
C: It's not sauerkraut.
R: I just don't like it!
C: Well, eat three big bites anyway.


  • 2 cups beets, cooked and shredded
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons ground almonds
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • freshly ground sea salt, to taste

Combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside to infuse for at least 1 hour before serving as a side dish.

Sarmale {Moldovan Stuffed Cabbage Leaves}


  • 1 large head green cabbage, cored
  • 1/2 cup rice, parboiled for 10 minutes and drained
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons chopped fresh arugula
  • 2 Tablespoons ground almonds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 pound organic, grassfed ground beef
  • freshly ground sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups sauerkraut
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Place ground meat in a mixing bowl with parboiled rice, paprika, salt, pepper, arugula, and fresh thyme. Mix well with your clean hands.

Take out the core of the cabbage. Leave head whole. Place in large pot of boiling water to wilt the outer leaves. You will be able to gently pull off whole cabbage leaves. Trim off thick center vein of cabbage leaves. Make a pile of leaves on your work station. Shake excess water off.

Place 2 T of meat and rice mixture on a leaf (starting at the thick end) and roll it up and tuck in ends with your finger. Make as many as you can. Arrange the rolls in baking dish.

Pour the chicken stock over the rolls. And spoon the crushed tomatoes on top. Arrange rinsed sauerkraut on top, lay the bay leaves on top.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, cover with foil, and cook slowly for about 1-1/2 hours, or until the rice is tender. Serve hot.

The Popcorn Shoppe

You know your kids are foodies-in-training when you hear them swapping popcorn recipes with their buddies. So, Nonna lent us her air-popper and Riley went to town. Family Friday Movie Night just got a lot more delicious.

Step One: Measure out the kernels, as directed by your machine...

Step Two: Wait and watch...

Step Three: Toss with melted butter. Riley went with a traditional popcorn tonight. Plain ol' butter. His friend said we should try worcestershire sauce plus onion powder. But we didn't have either of those. Next time.

Do you have a Friday night movie tradition in your household? What did you watch tonight?! We rented Oz the Great and Powerful.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cooking Around the World: Curry and Coconut Chutney {Micronesia/Palau}


Though not politically affiliated with Micronesia anymore, Palau is geographically part of the larger island group of Micronesia. And, for that, I'm calling this country done and moving on. I cooked a Palauan feast years ago for a friend's birthday.

Micronesia consists of the Caroline Islands Archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean. Initially owned by Spain, Germany purchased the islands before the turn of 19th Century. Japan later occupied the region. Then, in the late 1980s, 600 islands and atolls became self-governing in free association with the United States.

On the food front, they grow: black pepper, tropical fruits and vegetables, coconuts, cassava (tapioca) and pigs. They export fish, bananas, and black pepper.

Palauan food, at least the dishes I selected, were a blend of spicy and sticky and in need a cooling counterpart. Fresh coconut chutney was the perfect foil.

Fresh Coconut Chutney
2 cups freshly grated coconut
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
sea salt to taste

Combine ingredients and keep in fridge until ready to serve. Will keep for 1-2 weeks.

Lentil and Potato Curry
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
4 cardamom
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 small chillies, minced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp curry powder
1 cup dry lentils
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
salt to taste
1 tomato, chopped
3 cups water

In a medium size pot, heat the olive oil then add the onions, cumin, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Cook over medium heat, stirring for one minute. Add the minced garlic, tumeric, chillies, ginger and curry powder. Stir and cook for another minute. Add the lentils, potatoes, salt and water. Stir and cover. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the lentils and potatoes are both tender, adding water if necessary. Add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes more. Serve with rice.

These Culinary Adventurers are headed to Moldova next. I need to get out my atlas for that one!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cooking Around the World: Mexico

Back on track in our Cooking Around the World Adventure because Dylan wrote on his "to accomplish this summer list": Cook with Mommy. Learn more about countries by cooking around the world.

Talk about a guilt trip. Yes, I have been remiss. Fine. We have actually been cooking, but not systematically and not blogging. So, here we go.

A few little known facts...
Mexico and Luxembourg are the only two countries in the world that are spelled with the letter X.

In the 1990s Mexico accepted the indigenous languages as official languages for the country so Mexican legal documents can now be written in any of the 60 languages! 

An underground river 95 miles long flows beneath Mexico. The river occupies a lengthy series of limestone caves below Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. Two SCUBA divers from Europe spent four years exploring these caverns and discovered that the second and third largest Mexican cave systems were actually connected.

The piñata, the quintessential Mexican party game, was actually invented in China! The piñata was originally filled with seeds, not candy, to ensure favorable conditions for the new year’s growing season. The piñata arrived in Mexico when the monks from Spain introduced the custom.

Here are some of the foods we've cooked from Mexico...

My boys love to pick up conchas whenever we go to the Mexican market, so I made a version with cardamom and cocoa powder: click here for the recipe.

This Posole de Camarones was a delicious, hearty lunch one day.

And another day, we made a Mexican meatball soup: Albóndigas.

During the holidays we made this Mexican Christmas Punch: Ponche Navideño.

A good friend joked that he'd bring over some Taco Bell when we got to Mexico on our list. I think we're covered. Check. Moving on.

New Kid on the Block: Yafa {Food Review}

Last Friday, Jake and I went to a Summer Solstice celebration hosted by a good friend and his landlord. We kicked up our heels, charged our glasses, and reveled in the views of a verdant gorge out in Carmel Valley on the longest day of the year. It had all the makings of a great party - delectable eats, free-flowing wine, live music, and lively conversations with friends.

But the point of this post is to introduce you to a new kid on the (Carmel restaurant) block:  Yafa. 
This is a food blog, after all.

Many new restaurants require time to work out all the kinks. Like several months. Not so with newly-opened Yafa in Carmel. These guys have been open for less than a month and their food is impressive! Granted, I didn't actually eat at the restaurant, but the food at the party was fresh, light, and delicious. It's everything you want in a summer meal. And it was an absolutely perfect way to celebrate the Summer Solstice. 

On the menu: Watermelon Salad - piquant cubes of feta tempered the natural sweetness of the watermelon; two kinds of Hummus - one traditional and one with sun-dried tomato that was surprising - and tasty; their Pita Breads were pillow-y soft in the center with crisp, grilled edges. Carb-perfection.

Next up: Dolmas. Picking up an order of these would save me from having to make my own! And theirs are huge.

At first look, I thought those were slices of grilled eggplant on top of the salad. But, no, they were pears. Meaty, juicy, sweet pears were the star of the show atop the Grilled Pear Salad.

The Tabbouleh was exactly as I like it, heavy on the herbs with still crunchy cucumbers and fresh tomatoes. I make my own with lots of variations: Rhubarb-Oregano Tabbouleh, Quinoa Tabbouleh, and more. But Yafa's is traditional and exquisite.

They also provided a pasta dish with lamb and perfectly cooked rice. The verdict: Yafa's whips up some delicious, beautiful Mediterranean food. If you're local, get over there and try it out. Yafa Carmel. On Junipero at 5th. I know I will be heading over there. Soon.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Camilla Dreams of Onigiri {Food'N'Flix}

Years ago I hosted a sushi-rolling party for my running group. We were 'on a roll' toward a half-marathon and I wanted to celebrate our successes. We were also celebrating a friend's birthday, so I made a Sushi Cake. Well, it was a cake that looked like sushi...

I considered doing something like that for this month's Food'N'Flix dinner. I had chosen Jiro Dreams of Sushi for the group, after all.

Food‘nFlixBut, honestly, after watching the movie twice I just felt completely deflated. I was not inspired to cook anything; all I wanted to do was hop on a plane and go to Sukiyabashi Jiro

I considered taking a trip to the local fish market for both ingredients and inspiration, but ours pales in comparison to the Tsukiji Market. Then I toyed with making a noodle dish like the one the apprentices were eating in the kitchen...something like ramen. No matter what I put on the table, nothing would look as delectable and fresh as his creations.

When I started watching the movie for a third time, I began thinking about what sushi really is and did a little bit of reading. 'Su' in Japanese means vinegar. 'Meshi' means rice. And when you combine the two you get su-meshi. Su-shi simply which means 'vinegar rice.' So, I settled on featuring rice in my post.

And that brought me to onigiri.

Onigiri are rice balls that are stuffed, mixed, or sprinkled on the outside with a plethora of tasty flavorings. And despite their 'ball' name, they are usually formed into ovals or triangles versus circles. Onigiri have a long history; over a thousand years ago people in Japan ate rice balls - before chopsticks became common. Samurai carried onigiri wrapped in bamboo leaves to fortify themselves during battle. In Japan today, onigiri are still the go-to food for eating on the run.

I decided to create an onigiri parade for this month's Food'N'Flix. Since this is all about the rice, I picked some nice, higher quality rices, including a green rice and Kuhuho Rose rice. I intended to use  forbidden black rice, but had enough rice without it. Cook the rice according to the package directions. The key to onigiri, I read, was freshly cooked, still hot rice. That's it.

I. Unadorned Onigiri
This one is all about the rice I used green rice and sprinkled it with pink Himalaya salt. This was Dylan's favorite! Unfortunately, I didn't get a good photo of it. Oh, well.

II. Nori-Wrapped Onigiri
For this I used the Kuhuho Rose rice, wrapped with a belt of nori (roasted seaweed). This was Riley's favorite of the evening.

III.Sprinkled Onigiri
Kuhuho Rose rice sprinkled with salmon furikake. Furikake is a Japanese seasoning made of toasted sesame seeds, seaweed, and - in this case - dried, flaked salmon. This was my favorite of the bunch!

IV. Stuffed Onigiri
I stuffed this with some enoki mushrooms, cipollini onions, and seaweed that I had quickly cooked in a splash of sesame oil. This was Jake's favorite. I guess I needed to make all of these versions to satisfy the troops tonight.

V. Sweet Onigiri 
For dessert I stuffed some Kuhuho Rose rice with a sweet strawberry from my CSA box and sprinkled it with ground sugar and a dash of cinnamon.

As Jiro said: “In order to make delicious food, you must eat delicious food.  The quality of ingredients is important, but one must develop a palate capable of discerning good and bad.  Without good taste, you can’t make good food.  If your sense of taste is lower than that of the customers how will you impress them?” Sounds about right!

I read one woman's account of her grandmother making onigiri. She recounted that her grandmother's hands were always red and sore after making them. I guess I was doing it correctly because my hands hurt!

Hope you'll check back in a couple of days for the round-up of this month's recipes from the Food'n'Flixers.