Friday, May 30, 2014

Sunday Supper Super Star Profile

Sunday Supper Movement
A few months ago, I joined the #SundaySupper Movement. Today, I was profiled on the Sunday Supper site.

Click to see it...and, maybe, learn something about me that you didn't know: here. Thanks to Heather at girlichef for the write-up. Thanks to my husband for working to get my logo done in time!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Salted Pretzel Brownie Bites with Caramel Sauce


from the kitchen of Kathey H.
A couple of days ago a friend of mine from high school posted some photos on social media of "ridiculously sweet, but delicious" salted caramel pretzel brownies...and said that they were the anti-Camilla dessert.

I didn't understand exactly what she meant until she said that that the caramel was ice cream topping from a jar/bottle and brownies from a box. Okay. So I accepted her challenge to make a from-scratch version.

I made a salted pretzel crust, topped it with a ricotta-chocolate brownie, and drizzled it with homemade caramel. Needless to say: there were lots of steps involved in this dessert, but it was worth it. Rich, decadent chocolate-y goodness!

If you plan to try this, please read all the way through the recipe as my ingredient lists are divided into the different layers' elements. Would love to hear how yours turn out.


Ingredients for the salted pretzel crust

  • 1-1/2 C pretzels, crushed (I used the Everything Pretzel Thins from Trader Joe's)
  • 1 C flour (I used a white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C butter, melted
  • 1/4 C coconut oil, in a liquid state (heat if needed)
  • 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder

Procedure
Place the crushed pretzels, flour and sugar, in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Melt the butter and coconut oil and pour it into the baking dish. Use a fork to blend it together until clumps form. Press the remaining base lightly into the pan.
Ingredients for the ricotta-chocolate brownie

  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 C butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 C whole milk ricotta
  • 6 oz chocolate chips or chunks, melted
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract

Procedure
Preheat oven to 375° F. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until lightened and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, melted chocolate, and vanilla. Fold in the ricotta. Spoon the batter into the pan with the pretzel crust and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The brownies will be dark brown, slightly crispy at the edges and firm on the top.  

While the brownies are cooling, make the caramel.

Ingredients for the fleur de sel caramel
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C packed organic brown sugar
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 1 1/2 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1 t Maldon fleur de sel flakes

Procedure
In a medium-size pot, combine sugar, brown sugar, honey, whipping cream, butter and sea salt flakes. Simmer over medium heat, monitoring the heat of the mixture with a candy thermometer while stirring. When the thermometer reaches 244 degrees remove the pot from the heat. Cool for at least 10 minutes. You'll need about 1/2 C of caramel.



To finish...
Place intact pretzel thins on top of the brownie. Cut into small pieces.


Drizzle with caramel. Enjoy!

Caldo Gallego


This simple dish is a testament to the fact that if you start with good ingredients, your food will sparkle. I started with Blue Coco River beans from Coke Farm, onions and celery from the farmers' market, and added in some organic chicken stock and chorizo. The boys helped me schlep our goodies at the market before we started cooking.


Ingredients
  • 1 pound Blue Coco River beans, prepared
  • 13 oz chorizo, cut of out its casing and into thin coins (I used Silva Sausage's chorizo)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 6 C organic chicken stock
  • 1 C fresh tomato puree
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 T fresh oregano, chopped


Procedure
In a large souppot, cook the onion, celery, and chorizo sliced until the onions turn translucent. Add in beans, chicken stock, and tomato puree. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 3 hours, stirring every so often to keep the beans from sticking to the bottom. Season to taste with salt and pepper; add in the oregano. Cook for another 30 minutes uncovered at a boil to thicken the soup a bit. Serve hot with slices of bread.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

¡Buen provecho! A Cuban Feast for Jenn


One of my best friends just had a baby. Hooray for Nicholas!!


So this weekend we brought over a Cuban feast to share and fed both of our families. I'm trying to remember how this came about. I think I was raving about the Cuban pop-up at La Balena last month and asked my friends whose birthday was up next. I was inspired to make a Cuban birthday dinner for someone.  Anyone! Jenn piped up: Nicholas is up next! True.


So, as soon as he was born...and as soon as they wanted a dinner delivered, I brought over a Cuban feast. Stay tuned for the recipe posts, but it was all delicious. I will definitely be making these dishes again soon. Here was the menu:
  
Caldo Gallego
White Bean Soup

Pernil Asado Con Mojo
Mojo-Marinated Pork Shoulder Roast

Mazorcas de Maiz en la Barbacoa
Grilled Corn on the Cob

Pastel de Mango con Tres Leches
Three Milks Mango Cake

Batido Maracuyá
Passionfruit Smoothie

Chimichurri Sauce


This herbaceous, tangy condiment was perfect atop oven-roasted pork shoulder for our Cuban-inspired dinner. Don't worry...I'll post that recipe soon. This is basically a Latin pesto. And it's delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 C fresh cilantro
  • 1 C fresh parsley
  • 2 T fresh oregano
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T vinegar
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 T sundried tomatoes + some for garnish
  • olive oil
  • optional: freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper*

Procedure
Put all ingredients except olive oil in blender and pulse to a thick mixture. Remove from blender and whisk in olive oil until desired consistency. To serve, place the chimichurri in a bowl and garnish with more sundried tomatoes.

*Note: the sundried tomatoes I have right now are super salty. Not sure why. So, when I used them, I don't use any additional salt.

Pastel de Mango con Tres Leches


When I was looking for a sweet bite to end our Cuban-inspired feast, I decided to finally take the plunge and attempt a tres leches cake. We had one for my dad's birthday in Costa Rica years ago. And since then, it's been on my to-cook list. This weekend, I did it!

A note about the spices: they are not traditional. But I had my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf and we all know how much the kid loves his spices.

For those who don't speak Spanish, or haven't had this cake, tres leches means 'three milks.' That mixture is then drizzled over a vanilla sponge cake. It was surprisingly easy and not at all soggy. Nice!


Ingredients
  • 1/2 C butter + some for prepping your baking pan
  • 1 C white whole wheat flour (for a lighter crumb, use all-purpose flour)
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • dash of ground coriander
  • 5 eggs
  • 1-1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 ounces)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • 1/3 C organic heavy cream
  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • 1 mango, sliced
  • 2 strawberries, sliced

Procedure
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking dish with parchment paper and butter. 

Melt the 1/2 C of butter in a small skillet until it just begins to brown. Remove from heat.

Separate your eggs, placing yolks in a larger mixing bowl and whites in a smaller one. Into the same bowl as the yolks, add in the flour, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, and spices. Whisk to combine. Add in the browned butter.

Beat your egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold them into your batter. Try not to deflate the egg whites too much.

Spoon batter into prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes, until golden on top and spongy to the touch.


Remove the cake from pan and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. In the meantime, whisk together the three milks: evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream. Pour into something from which you can pour easily; I used a measuring cup.
  
Once the cake is cool, place it on a rimmed cake platter or plate. Poke cake with a skewer or fork to help the milks absorb. 


Slowly pour the tres leches mixture over each cake, in batches, allowing each round to soak in. I did this about 4 or 5 times to get all of the liquid poured and absorbed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


To garnish - right before serving - whip 1 C organic heavy whipping cream to form soft peaks. Spoon the cream over the top of the cake. Decorate with mango slices, a dollop of whipped cream in the center, and strawberries to form the center of your "mango blossom."

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sweet Potato Canapés for The Hundred-Foot Journey {From Page to Plate}



I read avidly, mostly about food, and I cook all the time. I mean, a girl has to eat, right? So, I decided that if a book inspires me to get into the kitchen, I'll feature it in a series I'm calling - From Page to Plate.  I already take part in a bi-monthly foodie book group called Cook the Books, but this is more fast, loose, and completely subject to my own whims. Here we go...

The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais was on a list of books that are being translated to the big screen this year. I mentioned it to a few girlfriends as soon as I saw the list, then I suggested it as a book club read for several moms at school. So, it's pulling multiple duties this year. And it happened to be at the top of the book heap on the side of my bed when I finished reading Twain's Feast.

Page Notes:
The novel follows the footsteps of its narrator, Hassan Haji - from the slums of Mumbai to the zenith of Parisian haute cuisine. Don't be fooled by the title; his journey is many, many miles further than one hundred feet. But those hundred feet - between his family's Indian restaurant and a French restaurant across the street - launch his journey to a three-star Michelin chef.

I was excited to read this book. Food, India, Paris. Glowing reviews. I figured there was no way this book could disappoint. And it wasn't completely disappointing. But it felt more fairy tale-like and farcical than I thought it would be...and rife with cliches. I read somewhere that it's sort of like Slumdog Millionare colliding with Ratatouille. I can see that comparison. And it's worth a read just for the descriptions of the food. His prose is rich and luscious. Ignore the potholes in the plot.

Most of the time, I'll read a book, especially one that's been made into a movie, and leave it at that. I typically am disappointed by a movie adaptation. But this book has me incredibly curious about the translation from page to big screen. I suspect it might be a rare one and I will actually like the movie better.

Plate Notes:
I was going to bring Pots de Crème to the book group meeting, but our hostess told me that people almost always bring sweets; she wanted some savories. So, I decided to whip up some easy sweet potato canapés for a sweet-salty bite.


Ingredients serves a dozen with 2 canapés each
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 12 thin slices prosciutto 
  • crème fraiche
  • chopped, fresh herbs
Procedure
Cook whole sweet potatoes in simmering water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they just become tender. Drain them and set them aside to cool completely.

Cut the sweet potatoes into thick coins and each slice of cured ham in half so there are 24 pieces of prosciutto. Layer 1 slice of prosciutto on top of 1 sweet potato round and top with a dollop of crème fraiche Dust with fresh, chopped herbs.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Midnight Frolic Fizz


I picked up a bottle of Chartreuse this week and started looking for recipes. There were a lot of intriguing ones, but I found one that screamed "Me, me, me, me, me!"

First, it used fresh blueberries and we still have a bounty from our trip to pick blueberries at High Ground Organics last weekend.


Second, it has an awesome name - Midnight Frolic. I did adapt it into a fizz because it was waaaayy to potent for me otherwise. Oh, and I have to share a funny exchange I had with my husband.

C: Do you feel like a Midnight Frolic?
J: Okay. What time is it now?
C: No, it's a cocktail.
J: Oh, okay.

Ingredients for 2 cocktails
4 oz blueberry-fennel-thyme infused gin
2 oz Chartreuse
4 oz sparkling water
fresh blueberries

Muddle blueberries in the bottom of a wide-mouth mason jar. Add ice, gin, and Chartreuse. Shake to combine. Strain into small glasses and top each cocktail with 1 oz of sparkling water. Garnish, if you wish, with a couple more fresh blueberries.

Cheers!

Meyer Lemon Marmalade


One afternoon last week Jake came home with some treats for me: a bunch of peonies and a bag full of Meyer lemons. Sweet! Yep, the man certainly knows the way to my heart: flowers and food.

I promised to make him his favorite lemon curd, but wanted to try something new as well. So, I started with this Lemon Marmalade recipe from BBC's Good Food.

Ingredients
  • 10 organic Meyer lemons
  • 8 C water
  • 3 C organic granulated sugar
  • 4 whole cardamom pods

Procedure
Wash the lemons and place them in a large stock pot covered with 8 C of water. 


Bring to the boil, then cover the pan and simmer for 2½ hrs or until the lemon skins are tender and can be pierced easily with a toothpick.


When the lemons are cool enough to handle (I let mine steep overnight), remove from the saucepan. 


Halve the lemons and remove the seeds – reserving the seeds and any juice that comes out during the process. Cut the lemon peel and flesh into thin strips. Put all of this, including any juices, back into the pan. 


Put the seeds and the cardamom pods in a small muslin bag. Add this to the pan.


Place 3 C of liquid, making the difference up with water if you don't have that much left from the cooking process, and 3 C of sugar to the pot along with the lemon pulp and rinds. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Boil rapidly for about 30 mins until the setting point is reached. Test by running your spoon through the mixture. If a path remains - i.e., the marmalade doesn't immediately run back together - it's ready.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes. Spoon jam into warm, sterilized jars and seal straight away. You can water process the jars for 5 minutes or leave them unsealed and store in the fridge.


I'll be using this as part of a glaze next month...and slathering it on toast till then. It's potent, so you don't need very much.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pass the Cookbook: Spicy 50/50 Sliders


This month the Pass the Cookbook crew - under the leadership of Kita, the culinary force behind Pass the Sushi - is cooking from Julie's pick. Julie blogs at White Lights on Wednesday and chose a cookbook I've never heard of. So, I was excited to get cooking from it.

Julie picked Michael Symon's 5 in 5 cookbook. 5 fresh ingredients + 5 minutes = 120 fantastic dinners. Okay.

We had the option to cook his Angel Hair with Corn, Feta & Tomato, Grilled Salmon & Avocado Salad, or Spicy 50/50 Burger.

The 5 in 5 is an interesting concept albeit a little deceptive...in my opinion. Maybe it took me 5 minutes to blend the meat mixutre. It definitely took longer than 5 minutes to cook the patties; I don't like to undercook meat. So, while I like the 5 minute idea. It wasn't a reality. Still, the flavors were delicious and dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes is great!

I made a few changes: I used a lower fat percentage beef, swapped out for a soy chorizo, made a cilantro slaw, skipped the cheese, and shrunk them into sliders. We'll keep this on our rotation for the summer. Yum!



Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb ground beef (96% lean)
  • 1/2 lb soy chorizo, casing removed 
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 8 mini hamburger buns
  • 2 C thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1 T honey (I used a local honey)
  • 3 T mayonnaise
  • 1T vinegar (I had a pomegranate vinegar)
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh cilantro

Procedure
For the cilantro slaw...In a large mixing bowl, place the cabbage and fresh thyme and cilantro leaves. In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk honey, mayonnaise, and vinegar together to form a smooth dressing. Toss the dressing into the salad. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with more thyme and cilantro.


For the sliders...while a large, flat-bottom pan heads, in a bowl, mix to combine the ground beef and chorizo.  Form the meat into 8 slider patties, each about 1" thick.  Season the patties on both sides with salt and pepper.

Add the olive oil to the preheated pan, then add the sliders. Cook without moving until a good crust forms, about 4-5 minutes.  Flip the burger and cook until heavily caramelized, another 4-5 minutes.  Cover and let cook until the slider is fully cooked and firm to the touch.

Put 1 slider onto each bun bottom, top with slaw and the other half of the bun. Serve. I'm not big on bread, so I actually just ate my slider on a bed of slaw. Delish!


Here's what the rest of the crew made...

Food'N'Flix: "One Lucky, Ugly Carrot" Mini Cakes


Food‘nFlixEvelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz is hosting this month's Food'N'Flix, picking one I'd never seen before: BridesmaidsClick to see Evelyne's invitation.

I'll just be honest: I am woefully lacking in the sense-of-humor department. So, definitely take my comments with a grain of salt...maybe a whole salt pig full of salt! While I thought this movie would be funny, at least amusing, it was vulgar and predictable. Think scatalogical and juvenile.

I won't spend too much time on the movie because my mom always told me to keep my mouth shut if I didn't have anything nice to say. Good advice, by the way. I'll just say that I considered something Parisian for the bridal shower Helen wanted to throw or Brazilian for the ill-fated lunch during dress-shopping day.

But, in the end, I decided to make something that honored a scene that bordered on touching - the scene with the bag of carrots. If you've seen the movie, I hope you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't seen the movie, there's a line about one ugly carrot in each bag. And you have to eat it...because it's good luck.

Well, here are some mini cakes made with both lucky and unlucky carrots! Thanks to R for helping me bake them.

Ingredients
makes 12-15 smaller cupcakes (not mini, but not full size either)

  • 2 C white whole wheat flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1-1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C organic coconut sugar
  • 1 C unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 C sunflower oil
  • 2 C grated carrots


Procedure
Preheat oven to 325. Whisk all wet ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Stir in carrots. Fold in dry ingredients until just moistened. Scrape batter into cupcake liners and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely then top with cream cheese frosting.

Cream cheese frosting: 8 oz cream cheese, 4 oz marscarpone, 1/4 C softened butter, 1 t vanilla extract, 1 t ginger syrup, 1 C powdered sugar. Blend all of that together in a mixing bowl until smooth and fluffy.



Next month Eliot's Eats is hosting Food'N'Flix as we watch Moonstruck. I just got my copy through Netflix. Stay tuned!

Blueberry Ice Cream


After we picked blueberries at High Ground Organics, D suggested that we make ice cream. So, I put the ice cream maker in the freezer and, tonight, D helped me whip up a simple, no-cook ice cream.

Ingredients
  • 2 C fresh blueberries
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 3/4 C organic granulated sugar
Procedure
Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mash the blueberries into the cream. You want to mash some and leave some whole.


Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and process according to your machine. Ours took about 40 minutes to come to a soft, gelato-like texture.


Spoon ice cream into a container and freeze for 30-60 minutes before serving.


The Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf was so excited. "I made this, Mommy!" he gushed. He plunked four berries on the top - just like at gelaterie...so they can identify the flavors. He's too funny.

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