Sunday, October 27, 2013

Edible Eyeballs {Halloween}

Looking for a fun, easy Halloween party appetizer? We just brought edible eyeballs to our annual Halloween camping trip.

Well, Dylan's Eyes of Newt were his pickled green tomatoes and they can't be done on the fly. Sorry. Click for the recipe: Green Tomato Pickles. And, next year, give yourself at least a month lead-time to make these. They were a hit!


My 'Skewered Cyclops Eyeballs' were mini-skewers of mini-heirloom tomatoes and ciliegie. I forgot to pack the fresh basil. Whoops.


Super duper easy...and fittingly festive. Happy Halloween!

Our Carnivorous Camping Crew...

Last night, for our annual Halloween camping trip all the families brought whatever they wanted to toss on the grill. Carnivores'R'Us!


They were making fun of us though as almost everyone brought sausages and hot dogs and my Love had requested a rack of lamb. Done deal, baby. And, yes, I do think that's camping food!

Salt-crusted Rack of Lamb.

Here's my garlic-salt version. Last night I rubbed the rack with sea salt and crushed lavender. And I didn't get any photos of the finished lamb lollipops because a friend was pouring these for me all night...

Blame Paul.

Sipping Spicy Liqueur from Glass Skulls {Halloween}


Okay, so Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I don't love the candy; but I love that it heralds a change in the seasons for us. And when I was prepping for our annual Halloween camping trip, I decided that I wanted to bring a new-to-us liqueur from sipping from our glass skull glasses.

I stood, staring at the shelves lined with all sorts of beautifully-hued liqueurs I'd never seen. Liquore Strega is my usual Halloween go-to. But this time, as I wrote, I wanted something we'd never had before.

I finally decided on this...

St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

Allspice Dram is an allspice liqueur made in Jamaica. It's highly spiced and very sweet - with a potent aroma of allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. It was delicious. Jake said it tasted like Christmas in a bottle. I have to agree. Maybe this will make great Christmas presents for some friends!

A Bavarian Adventure at the Tyrolean Inn

Though we don't get to Ben Lomand often, I've always driven by the Tyrolean Inn and made a mental note to go there "next time." This weekend, we finally made it.


As one review I read states: "If you're a vegetarian, skip this place." Definitely. But, if you're an omnivore - and really like meats and sausages - step into Bavaria...beneath the redwood behemoths.

The boys both had Weisswurst mit Breze (bockwurst with a soft pretzel). I ordered the Würstelgrösti (Polish, Bockwurst, & Nürnberger sausage sampler, sliced & sautéed with onions, tomatoes, & bell peppers).


Jake ordered Teller (Bockwurst and two Nürnberger sausages, served with sauerkraut and potatoes). 



And he and I both had fantastic German brews. Funny story, Jake ordered a beer and our waiter delivered a gigantic stein. I asked, "Do you have any smaller pours that than?" Of course. You'd like an American? "Yes, I guess so."

Jake ordered an Erdinger Dunkel Hefeweizen (a dark, unfiltered wheat beer) and I opted for an American-sized Köstritzer Schwarzbier (an East German-style black lager). Prost!!


And we all shared the Apfelstrudel for dessert.


What a great dinner! The boys loved it and so did we. We'll definitely make the Tyrolean Inn a stop whenever we head over that way again.

Ice Cream Year-Round

 
One of the best things about living in a mostly temperate climate: it's never too cold for ice cream! Okay, well that's probably not totally true...but we can eat ice cream almost all year-round.


So, on our way back from a (pre) Halloween camping trip in the redwoods, we stopped by one of our favorite ice cream places in Santa Cruz; in fact, we never get near Santa Cruz, or Capitola, without making a stop at the Penny Ice Creamery.

Flavors that we loved today: Lemon Verbena, Ginger Cake (with pieces of real cake in it!), Burnt Caramel, and Chocolate Sorbet.



What do you think? Is it strange to eat ice cream at Halloween?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pheasant en Crème {Crème de la Crème Menu}


When I was trying to come up with a menu for my mom's birthday dinner, I put out the ask for suggestions. One of my foodie pals posted: "My grandma used to make pheasant. I swear I remember marshmallows in the recipe..."

Staci ended up asking her dad who said that it wasn't marshmallow, it was heavy cream. Sounded perfectly decadent and just the ticket for my mom's Crème de la Crème birthday dinner. I sort of made up the recipe as while I went along...and it turned out fantastic.

Quick note: my friend, and boss, told me to just cook it here at work, so I didn't have to run home and then leave my oven on while no one was there. He wants it mentioned that he provided the oven and deserves some credit. Okay, credit given. Thanks for letting me fill the office with delicious smells without sharing anything with you!


First, I have a funny story about acquiring these birds! I called the grocery store where I remember getting a pheasant a few Thanksgivings back. Here's how the conversation went...

Do you have any pheasant?
What?
Pheasant? Do you have any?
You mean like the movie?!?
What?
Maybe you need to talk to the Meat Department...
That would be good. Thanks.

The answer was a negative. They used to carry it. No longer. Then I called another reputable meat market. That was just as unfulfilling...

Do you have any pheasant?
What?
Pheasant? Do you have any?
No. I don't know what that is.
May I please speak to someone in the Meat Department?
I'm in the Meat Department.

You're in the Meat Department and you don't know what a pheasant is?
Can you spell that?
P. h. e. a. s. a. n. t.
Oh, a pheasant.
Yes, that's what I said.
No, we don't have any.

Great. Two strikes. Then I decided to call one last store.

Do you have any pheasant?
Let me check.
[phew...he knows what it is and I don't have to spell it!]
Ma'am, pheasant is a seasonal item. We don't have any yet.
Oh...okay. Do you have any other suggestions?
I might be able to order some.
That would be great!

And they did! So grateful.

pheasant (I used 2 that weighed approximately 3 pounds each)
1 T minced garlic per bird
1 onion per bird, peeled and halved
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground pepper
ground smoked paprika
1 C sliced mushrooms per bird
1/2 C cubed pancetta per bird
olive oil
1 C heavy cream per bird

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Stuff the bird with the halved onion. Rub the bird with garlic and place it in a baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika. Top it with the pancetta and mushrooms. Drizzle the bird with olive oil, then pour heavy cream over the top. Place it - uncovered - in the oven.

Bake for one hour. Baste it with the cream. Bake for another hour. Baste one more time and bake for another 30 minutes till it's beginning to brown and crisp.

Riley declared that this was his favorite part of the dinner. Dylan said, "It's okay." But he did eat every morsel on his plate. I found this amazingly moist and tasty. Thanks, Staci. We loved it.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tiramisù alla Albicocca {Crème de la Crème Menu}


Though I had originally planned to make cremeux for Nonna's birthday dessert, I heard - through the boys - that she wanted Tiramisù. Okay. I learned how to make this in Italy...from a woman who didn't speak English. That has to be authentic, doesn't it?!? The other thing I learned from her: use what you have...don't run out to the store if you already have something that will work. So, last night, I didn't have brandy. I used a mixture of Grand Marnier and Jenn's homemade apricot liqueur. That's definitely not traditional, but I think the flavors worked well!

Layer 1: ladyfingers moistened with an espresso + Grand Marnier and apricot liqueur mixture (with a 2:1 ratio)


Layer 2: zabaglione (4 egg yolks + 4 T organic granulated sugar cooked over a double boiler until frothy) + 4 egg whites beaten until peaks form + 1 T apricot liqueur


Layer 3: 1 tub marscarpone cream + 1/3 C espresso


Layer 4: unsweetened whipped cream + unsweetened cocoa powder


Repeat...until your serving dish is full. Let sit, so flavors can develop, overnight.


To complement the apricot liqueur in the dessert, I served small cordials of the liquid gold. Thanks, Jenn, for this lovely libation. It was perfect for tonight's dinner. Cheers!

Truffled Pommes Anna with Crème Fraîche {Crème de la Crème Menu}

To go with the main dishes, I opted to make a version of Pommes Anna. Only I forgot to take a photo of the completed dish. Whoops. What this lacks in photographic artistry it made up with in earthy, fabulous flavor and texture.


The classic French dish is made, traditionally with sliced, layered potatoes cooked in a very large amount of melted butter. I've made a version that included apples and cream as well. But for tonight, I decided to add in the flavors of black truffle, wood ear mushrooms, and carrot top greens.

6 T chopped carrot top greens
6 T chopped wood ear mushrooms
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground pepper
3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
black truffle oil

Preheat oven to 450°.

Brush your baking dish - I used a round baking stone - with truffle oil and arrange a layer of slightly overlapping potato slices in a circular pattern in pan. Brush the potatoes with truffle oil.


Sprinkle freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread 2 T of carrot greens and 2 T of wood ear mushrooms over the layer. Repeat until you've used all of your potatoes or your baking dish is full.

Press potato mixture firmly to pack. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes on bottom rack in oven. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. Loosen edges of potatoes with a spatula or knife. Place a plate upside down on top of pan; invert potatoes onto plate. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche.

Spiced Ginger Short Ribs {Pass the Cookbook}



www.sunnyanderson.com
It's Pass the Cookbook time again...this was all started by Kita, the culinary force  Pass the Sushi blog. This month we had the option of cooking one of three recipes from Sunny's Kitchen: Easy Food for Real Life by Sunny Anderson: Loaded Puff Pastry Sticky Buns, Spicy Macaroni and Cheese, and - the recipe I decided to adapt - Honey BBQ Short Ribs. Here's my...

Spiced Ginger Short Ribs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1 T smoked paprika
1 T garlic powder
1 T freshly ground pink Himalaya salt
1/2 t cumin
1 crushed tepin chile pepper
freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds bone-in short ribs
1/2 C ginger syrup


Directions:

Combine the paprikas, garlic powder, salt, cumin, tepin pepper, and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl.

Rub the mixture all over the short ribs and let rest for no longer than 2 hours at room temperature. 

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

In an baking dish, place the short ribs with the fat side facing up.

Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven.

Roast low and slow for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours until the meat is falling off the bones.

Remove from the oven and, using tongs, flip the short ribs, coating them a bit in their own juices.  Drizzle the short ribs evenly with the ginger syrup and re-cover with aluminum foil, taking care to vent one corner a bit. 

Place back in the oven and roast for 30 minutes more.

Serve with a green salad and enjoy!


Autumn Greens with Buttermilk Dressing {Crème de la Crème Menu}

While my uncle, my mom's brother, declared that it was the first time he'd ever had brie, I shared that it was the first time I've ever made a buttermilk dressing. It was easy and the salad was delicious.


1-2 handfuls of greens per person
fresh radishes, halved
fresh fennel, thinly sliced

1½ t ground mustard
3 T seasoned rice wine vinegar
5 T  extra virgin olive oil
8 T buttermilk
1 T fresh carrot top greens, washed, dried, and finely chopped
freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place all of the dressing ingredients in a mason jar with a lid. Shake to emulsify. Toss to coat. Serve chilled.

Warmed Brie with Fennel-Cherry Mostarda {Crème de la Crème Menu}



For the first course of Nonna's birthday Crème de la Crème dinner...we poured Holman Ranch's 2012 Virgin Chardonnay.


Click to read about the first time I tried the wine: The Magical Caves at Holman.

I warmed two small brie rounds and one goat cheese brie in the oven.  For the larger round, I sliced it in half while cold, then I filled it with a Fennel-Cherry Mostarda. I heated it till soft to the touch.

To serve, I spooned more of the mostarda over the top.

As surprise tidbits, Riley served some of the mozzarella he had made with Nonna - more on that soon! - while he was home sick from school yesterday. He wanted it on crackers with a kalamata olive and a piece of basil leaf.


And Dylan opened up a jar of his Pickled Green Tomatoes. This was the first time we've tried them. They were a fabulous part of our antipasto plate.

"Nonna's the best!" She is the Crème de la Crème. {Menu}

When Nonna requested a birthday dinner, I immediately came up with a theme when the boys declared, "Nonna is the best!" Okay.


 She's the crème de la crème…so I created a cream-based menu, paired the courses with some of my favorite wines from Holman Ranch, and showcased two creamy creations from the brand-new Kai Lee Creamery. Recipe posting to come.

Warmed Triple-Crème Brie with a Cherry & Fennel Mostarda

Autumn Greens with Homemade Buttermilk Dressing

Paired with Holman Ranch’s 2012 Virgin Chardonnay

Roasted Pheasant in Cream Sauce with Mushrooms

Truffled Pommes Anna with Crème Fraîche

Paired with Holman Ranch’s 2010 Hunter’s Cuvée Pinot Noir

Tiramisù

Lemon Cream Pie  and Ginger Honey from Kai Lee Creamery

Served with House-Roasted Coffee Beans from Guatemala


These are the mini-ghost pumpkin candleholders that Dylan made for Nonna last night.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Radish Crudités with Creamy Ricotta

When I saw these cheerful bunches of Easter Egg radishes at Whole Foods this weekend, I couldn't resist. They were pretty! Then I couldn't decide what to do with them. Butter-braised radishes are always a hit, but I really just wanted to slice them and eat them raw. But to counter the peppery zing of fresh radishes, I decided to serve them with creamy dip of fresh ricotta, using by Real Simple's recipe.


Ingredients

  • fresh ricotta cheese
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • radishes, scrubbed, dried, and halved


Procedure
Place the ricotta in a serving bowl. Grind salt and pepper over the top. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with fresh radishes.

Bacon S'mores: Pumpkin-Molasses Biscotti

Bacon S'mores is still posting lots of pumpkin-inspired creations in preparation for Halloween. Fitting. I shared a recipe for one of my favorite pumpkin treats...to dip into coffee. Click to see my post: Pumpkin-Molasses Biscotti.

Would love to know if you try this. I might just have to make them again this weekend. Yum. Comment below...or email me at constantmotioncamilla[at]gmail[dot]com.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New in Town: Kai Lee Creamery

If you've been following along with our culinary adventures, you know that we plan stops on roadtrips around ice cream shops. So, it's not too much of a stretch for us to plan a bike ride with a new ice cream shop as our destination.

This afternoon we were debating: hike or bike. Then I mentioned that there was a new creamery in town and the deal was sealed. Bikes came out, helmets were strapped on heads, and off we went to the American Tin Cannery to try out Kai Lee Creamery.

Butch Adams, the owner, was manning the counter. So we chatted with him as we tried the different flavors. Made in small batches onsite, all of the ice cream is corn-free, wheat-free, soy-free, and gluten-free. He doesn't use dyes or preservatives. And, as much as possible, his ingredients are locally sourced and organic. Sweet!



We tried caramel, raspberry ripple, mango, mango dairy-free, lemon cream pie, pumpkin pie, ginger honey, and the mystery flavor. It has no name yet. If you go there, taste it, suggest a name, and he picks your suggestion, you'll get a free double scoop. Not bad!

We ended up with scoops of lemon cream pie, pumpkin pie, and ginger honey. The lemon cream pie had strips of zest and a refreshing flavor. Pumpkin pie was like biting into Halloween. And my favorite was the ginger honey - with generous-sized chunks of candied ginger.

Though we're heading into the cooler season, we'll be visiting Kai Lee Creamery again soon. If you're local, check them out and tell me which flavor was your favorite.

Fennel-Cherry 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 large fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
1 C morello cherries
juice from 2 oranges
2 T raw organic honey
2 T vinegar (I used a cherry balsamic vinegar)
2 t water
1 t ground mustard
1 T brown mustard seeds
2 pinches sea salt flakes

In a large flat-bottom pan, place all of the ingredients - except the salt flakes. 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, season with salt.

You'll be seeing this on top of warmed brie for the appetizer course of my mom's birthday dinner this week.

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