Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Garlicky Chard-Stuffed French Toast #FrenchToastDay


Today we are celebrating National French Toast day, hosted by my friend Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. What a line-up of sweet and savory! I love it.

Ingredients makes 6-8 slices
For the filling
  • splash of olive oil
  • 2 green garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 C chard, chiffonade
  • ½ C whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ C feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 t lemon zest
  • 1 T chopped fresh basil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

For the French toast
  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into six or eight 1-1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 3 large eggs
  • pat of butter
  • splash of olive oil

For the topping
  • 2 C marinara sauce, warmed
  • 1 T chopped fresh basil
  • splash of olive oil
  • basil leaves for garnish

Directions
For the filling
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Let cool then coarsely chop.

In a small bowl, combine chopped spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest, basil, and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


For the French toast
Using a small serrated knife, cut a horizontal pocket in the side of each slice of bread. Gently fill with 1-2 tablespoons on filling and press closed.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and garlic powder.


In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat add one tablespoon of oil. Working with one slice at a time, dip into egg mixture, flipping to coat both sides. Place in pan with the hot oil.

Repeat with 2-3 more slices without overloading the pan. Cook for 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining slices, adding more oil as needed.



For serving
Transfer to plates, spoon warm marinara over top, and serve.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Saveur Spices Shortcuts: Thai-Spiced Fish Cakes over Black Rice Peanut Noodles #Sponsored

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of a local (to me) Youngevity Associate.
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

Years ago I met Tami as she is one of my best friend's godsisters. We connected through the years as our interests collided and intersected. When she mentioned that she had some brand new spice blends through her social selling site, I asked if she might be interested in partnering with me at Culinary Adventures to do a review on them.

About Saveur
Saveur Spices is a new offering from Youngevity. Released during the summer to customers in Australia and New Zealand, these have only become available to people in North America and the United Kingdom at the end of September. 

The Saveur Spice line includes over three dozen rubs, seasonings, spices, salts, and mixes. All are ETO-free, PPO-free, and gluten-free. I love that the ingredient list only includes things I recognize...and can pronounce!


Making International Dishes Speedily
Tami and I emailed back and forth about the spices and, after perusing the offerings, I just told her to send me three that she liked best or wanted to highlight. I received the Safari Rub, Spanish Paella Spice, and Thai Mix.


If you've been following my blog for awhile, you might remember that my boys and I are slowly making our way around the globe with our Cooking Around the World Adventure. The Safari Rub reminds me of ras al hanout and would make my Grilled Ras al Hanout Shrimp a quick weekday meal, but I used them to make Safari-spiced chicken thighs.


Thailand in a Jar
With an ingredient list of just basil, onion, red bell, peppers, chili, coriander, turmeric, cumin, Kaffir Makrut lime, cilantro, lemongrass, chives, mustard, ginger, this blend is pretty much Thailand in a jar.


After spending an entire day with D preparing a Thai feast for his godmom - we grated ginger and galangal; we crushed cardamom and coriander seeds; we diced onions and bell peppers; and we chopped herb after herb after herb - I was excited to use a pre-blended spice mix.


Thai-Spiced Fish Cakes over Black Rice Peanut Noodles 

I decided to use the spice to make spiced fish cakes that I put on top of black rice noodles tossed with peanut sauce.

Ingredients makes 4 servings
Fish Cakes
  • 1 pound fresh fish (I used some local rockfish), minced
  • 1 shallot, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 T Thai Mix
  • oil for cooking
Peanut Sauce
  • 1 C organic creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 C organic coconut milk
  • 1 T water
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 t fish sauce
  • 2 t Thai Mix
Serving
  • black rice noodles, cooked
  • sesame oil, as needed
  • fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • green onions, trimmed and sliced, for garnish

Procedure 
Fish Cakes
In a medium mixing bowl, blend together all of the ingredients up to the oil. Let stand for, at least, fifteen minutes for the flavors to meld. Shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and flatten slightly. Heat oil in a skillet and cook the fish cakes until browned and firm. Place on a paper towel-lined plate until ready to serve.

Peanut Sauce
In a small mixing bowl, blend all of the ingredients together until smooth.

Serving
Toss peanut sauce - by the tablespoon - and sesame oil into noodles until well-coated. Place noodles into individual serving bowls. Top with cooked fish cakes. And garnish with cilantro and green onions. Serve immediately.


This dinner was lovely, flavorful, and fast thanks for the shortcut of using Saveur Spices. I had a lot of fun playing with these blends and can't wait to order more. In fact, if you're interested in trying them out for some holiday dishes, here's a link to Tami's Holiday Gift Guide. Or you can email her directly for more information: tamiscraps[at]gmail[dot]com.

And, if you do try them, please share how you used them!


You may find Saveur Natural Foods
On the web

*Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

I Soured on The Billionaire's Vinegar #FoodieReads


I really wanted to like The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace*. I mean, it's a mixture of history, wine, and mystery. You read 'wine', right? I will usually read through just about any book that includes food and/or wine. Add history and mystery to that and I thought this would be a winner.

But here's an analogy for you: If you spent an exorbitant amount of money on a bottle of wine and, at first sip, realize it's soured, would you still finish your glass...much less the bottle? I think not.

I felt the warning signs at the beginning of the book, thinking it might be a tedious read. But I persisted, hoping that I was wrong and that I was just not giving it a fair change. So, I pressed on, really gained nothing, but lost several evening's worth of reading time. Perhaps it just wasn't to my tastes as many others rave about it. But I soured on the book less than halfway through.

I hear that the rights to this story have actually been optioned for a Hollywood production. Oddly, I think I might prefer a movie version of this story. Maybe.

I thought I might write about a wine pairing, wine tasting, or Riedel wine glasses with this post, but - honestly - I just wanted to be done with this entire book.

Here's the idea...
This is a work of non-fiction, centered around the world of wine collecting and a German wine dealer named Hardy Rodenstock who acquires and sells extremely old, rare bottles of wine. There is a lot of intrigue surrounding some bottles that he purported to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Wallace goes into meticulous detail to catalog all the aspects of the bottle, including the engraving of “Th. J” on each bottle that Monticello historians contest fervently; the antiquity of the cork; the wax seal around it; and the provenance of the wine itself. 

Rodenstock, in his bid for authenticity, enlists the help of Michael Broadbent, Christie's auction house's in-house wine expert. Broadbent gives it his nod and that approval ignites bidding wars and fans the flames of intrigue and speculation. In fact, the first bottle that went up for auction was eventually acquired by Christopher “Kip” Forbes for more than $150,000.

From there Wallace delves into the world of rare wine tastings and collectors and, most interesting to me, wine forgery albeit unproven.

Here's what I didn't like...
While Wallace provides enough circumstantial evidence to implicate Rodenstock - in my mind - the mystery itself remains unsolved. Additionally, I'm of the mindset that wine should be enjoyed, savored, and shared with good food and great friends. I can't imagine buying a bottle of wine just to have it on display. What a waste of a vintner's efforts, right?

This was an unrewarding and frustrating read. I'm happy to be done with it and looking forward to diving into other books on my stack!

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


Here's what everyone else read in November 2017: here.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

"The Usual Chard"


After a quick hike this morning, the boys and I ran into Whole Foods for a few ingredients. While I grabbed a few quince, I heard the boys arguing about bitter greens. R claimed, "Kale tastes like it should be poisonous." What!?? Whose child are you?!

D piped up, "Yeah, whose child are you? Kale is the best."

They talked about what makes food bitter and how it's a defensive strategy for plants. Then they proceeded to rank greens in terms of their bitterness: mustard greens, kale, chard, spinach, and collard greens. I didn't pay attention to the ranking. I think people surrounding them were both shocked and amused at the conversation.


In the end, they walked over and plunked two bunches of rainbow chard in the basket. "We agreed on chard, Mom," they informed me. Fine.


First, I pickled the stems. That's a recipe for another day. Second, I yelled back into their rooms. "How am I cooking the chard?"

The usual chard! they both yelled back.

"I don't know what that means."

Didn't you blog it? Can't you just look up how you normally make chard.

"No, but, clearly, I need to do that."

So, here's the usual...well, it's what I guessed. And, when they came to the table for lunch, they confirmed. Yes, that's the usual, Mom.

Ingredients serves 4 (but we're all chard monsters)
  • 2 bunches organic chard, washed and roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • splash of olive oil
  • splash of soy sauce
  • black sesame seeds for garnish


Procedure
Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add in the garlic and stir until just fragrant, but not browning, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chard and cook until just wilted. Remove chard to a serving platter or onto individual plates. Drizzle with soy sauce and garnish with black sesame seeds, if using.

DIY Tea Advent Calendar


I grew up with those advent calendar filled with waxy, barely edible chocolates. It didn't matter anyway because my mom never let me eat the candy. It was all about the ritual of scanning the scene, locating the correct number, and opening the door for the day. I loved seeing the shape of the chocolate. But, again, I never ate it. Still, it's a holiday tradition that I adore. Who doesn't like a daily surprise counting down to Christmas?!

So, when the boys were smaller, I would wrap 25 Christmas books (I used the same books every year!) and each evening we'd unwrap one, cuddle on the couch and read together. I would also pick up two of those same cheap chocolate advent calendars. I think the chocolate has gotten better. And I did let them eat it.

But, after they outgrew the board books and picture books, I searched for other ways to count the days. One year my mom and I bought D a LEGO advent calendar; I found an advent candle that R loved to light at dinner each evening.

Then I saw cheese advent calendars and whiskey calendars. Those only shipped in the United Kingdom. Seriously?! I thought I could make my own. I might still do the cheese advent one of these years. But I saw a tea advent calendar and decided to do it myself. 


I hoped online and went to Adagio Teas because I knew they sold sample sizes. And I picked 25 kinds of tea that sounded intriging - everything from Jade Oolong to Yunnan Golden Curl and Thai Chai to Chestnut tea.

A funny side story: last weekend, D and Jake went to Cost Plus and came home with an already made tea advent calendar! Sometimes it's frightening how in tune with me that kid is. "Mom," he gushed, "I knew you would like this tea advent!" Oh, I will. But I have everything to make our own tea advent.


So, yesterday, D and I spread out all the bags, formed the tiny square boxes, filled small bags, and created our very own tea advent.


 Each morning, in December, until Christmas, we'll take a box from the garland, open it up, read about the tea, and brew a pot to drink over breakfast.


I'm looking forward to trying all the teas. And we have more of each since the sample were much larger than I anticipated.


Does your family have an advent calendar tradition? What's inside??

Friday, November 24, 2017

Cranberry-Topped Baked Brie #ThanksgivingLeftovers


One of the best things about being part of a food blogging community: all the great recipes! There is never a dearth of ideas on how to make something or how to use a particular ingredient. So, when Ellen from Family Around the Table suggested a Thanksgiving Leftovers event, I raised my hand to help coordinate. You can never have enough ideas on how to transform leftovers into other dishes, right?

The Leftover Larder

Cranberry-Topped Baked Brie

This is so easy that I'm almost embarrassed to call it a recipe. It's more of a procedure than anything. You can swap in any kind of rind cheese; you can use any cranberry or other fruit compote; and you can serve it with crackers instead of bread or just as is. Really! It's that simple.


Ingredients

  • round of brie
  • leftover cranberry sauce or other fruit compote (I actually used the Pickled Cranberries from our Moroccan Thanksgiving!)
  • leftover bread, sliced (or use crackers)



Procedure
Preheat oven to 350° F. 

Place brie in a small baking dish; I used a cedar-lined baking sheet. Bake until warm and just softened, approximately 10 minutes). 

Transfer brie to a plate with cranberries. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Claudia Rodin-Inspired Thanksgiving Menu: Arabesque

Well, our Thanksgiving tradition of adventure continues with our 2017 feast. I can't remember the last time I've roasted a turkey for our table. This year, we're heading to Morocco by tabletop.


Inspired by the receipt of my first tagine, I asked the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf to peruse my Claudia Rodin cookbook - Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, & Lebanon - and come up with a menu. Then we adjusted based on what's in season and a good balance of color and texture. Here's what we have planned...


arabesque / noun / an ornament or style that employs flower, foliage, or fruit and sometimes animal and figural outlines to produce an intricate pattern of interlaced lines.

I'll share recipes and photos throughout the weekend. But I wanted to give a shoutout of gratitude to Farmer Jamie of Serendipity Farms for the bounty of Fall veggies. I wish I could have worked more of them into this menu, but I had already battled with D on some of the dishes; he wasn't budging. And an extra special thank you to my friend Erin at the I. Brand & Family tasting room in Carmel Valley village for her expert help in picking wines to pair. Thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ricotta Salad with Radishes and Pomegranate #FabulousFallBounty #Sponsored

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the sponsors of #FabulousFallBounty.
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

Here we are at the fifth and final day of our celebration of #FabulousFallBounty. You can read more about the event: here. And, once again, many thanks to our event sponsors: Silpat for a handy silicone mat; Le Creuset for a lovely serving platter; and Melissa's Produce for providing the bloggers with a beautiful box of goodies, including the pomegranate I used here. First, here are the other bloggers' creations....





This is hardly a recipe. Really. Just five ingredients that come together in a remarkably easy and festive salad. But, because it's on my table at least once a week in the Fall, I decided to share it.

Ingredients serves 4
  • arils from 1/2 a pomegranate
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced or cut into wedges
  • 2 C whole milk fresh ricotta
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground salt



Procedure
Place ricotta in a serving dish. Top with radishes. Sprinkle with salt. Drizzle with olive oil. Add pomegranate arils to the salad. Serve immediately.

You may find Melissa's...
on the web
on Facebook
on Twitter
on Pinterest
on Instagram

*Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Pan-Crisped Chicken Thighs with Guajillo-Pear Mole #FabulousFallBounty #Sponsored

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the sponsors of #FabulousFallBounty.
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

Here we are at the third day of our celebration of #FabulousFallBounty. You can read more about the event: here. And, once again, many thanks to our event sponsors: Silpat for a handy silicone mat; Le Creuset for a lovely serving platter; and Melissa's Produce for providing the bloggers with a beautiful box of goodies. My mind was aswirl with how to incorporate it all into some autumn-inspired dishes when I received this bounty of seasonal produce.


I knew that I wanted to showcase the dried guajillo chiles and pears in a fun mole sauce. After attending a mole cooking class last year, we've been experimenting with different variations. So, this isn't a traditional mole recipe per se, but the process is.

The Creations
Guajillo-Pear Mole 

Ingredients makes 5 to 6 C of mole so you'll have lots and lots of leftovers for other dishes
Mole
  • 6 to 8 T lard (preferably home-rendered)
  • 2 to 4 C homemade chicken stock
  • 6 oz dried guajillo chiles
  • 2 oz dried cascabel chiles
  • 3 T hazelnuts
  • 2 T almonds
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1/8 C dried pears
  • 1/8 C dried prunes
  • 1/8 C raisins
  • sherry (enough to cover the dried fruits)
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 4 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 C diced tomatoes (I used canned tomatoes)
  • 3 medium pears, cored and sliced (I used my Fiorlle pears from Melissa's)
  • 1 plantain
  • 1" cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 t black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • salt to taste

Chicken
  • 6 to 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • freshly ground pepper
  • freshly ground salt



Procedure
Mole
Bring your chicken stock to a boil, then hold it at a simmer. Slice your dried peppers lengthwise. Open them up and take out the seeds and the veins. Set the seeds aside. You can discard the stems and veins.

Cut the pears and prune to the size of the raisins and place them in a medium bowl. Pour sherry over the top of them until they are submerged, approximately 1/2 C. Set aside.

 

With tongs, hold peppers over an open flame until they blister and turn a lighter shade of brown. Place them in a large bowl and pour hot stock over the top. Every 10 to 15 minutes, turn the peppers or press them down so that they are submerged.

Melt 1 T lard in a skillet and toast the nuts. When they are all golden brown, approximately 5 to 7 minutes, place them in the bowl with the peppers. Toast the sesame seeds until they begin to pop. Place those in the bowl with the peppers, too.

Melt 1 T large in the skillet and toast the spices. I started with the cinnamon sticks and clove and ended with the oregano. Once toasted, place them in the bowl with the peppers, nuts, and seeds.


Melt 1 T lard in the same skillet and char the seeds from the peppers. You want these really, really burnt. Place the seeds in a large mason jar filled with ice water. Let stand for 30 minutes. Change the water and ice and let stand for another 30 minutes.

 

Melt 1 T large in the same skillet and fry thick slices of plantain until crisped and golden. Place those in the bowl with the peppers.

Cut onion, tomato, and pears into large chunks, Crush and mince the garlic. Melt 2 T lard in your skillet and cook onion, garlic, tomato, and pears until everything is softened and the onion turning translucent. Stir well to combine.

Combine all of the ingredients into one large bowl - the peppers, the sherry-soaked fruit, the fruit-tomato mixture, and the charred pepper seeds. Now you are ready to combine all of the elements and purée all the ingredients, using either a blender and food processor combination or a blender by itself. 


In batches, purée everything until smooth.

In a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the remaining lard over high heat until rippling. Add the purée, all at once, taking care to avoid splatters. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, for at least 30 minutes until the taste of the chiles has mellowed. Season to taste with salt. Set aside. The flavors will deepen and develop the longer you let the mole sit. I left mine to age for two days - in the fridge - before using.


Chicken
Mix garlic, cinnamon, salt, and pepper together in a small mixing bowl and rub that mixture into the skin side of the chicken. In a heavy skillet, heat olive oil. Place the skin side of chicken down and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.


Turn the chicken over - the skin will be browned and crisp - and cook on the second side for 25 to 30 minutes.


Because I didn't add any chocolate to my mole sauce, I served the chicken and mole over chocolate egg noodles!

You may find Melissa's...
on the web
on Facebook
on Twitter
on Pinterest
on Instagram

*Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

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