Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Saucy Shot for a Sweet Ending

Along with my tiramisù and Estonian rhubarb cake, I decided on a dessert shot to round out my sweet trio. I had all of the ingredients and I couldn't resist the name; I knew the guys would be all over it. And I was right - no man turns down a hummer.

1 mini scoop of lemon sorbet
1 mini scoop of mango sorbet (the original called for orange, but I wanted mine a little more exotic)
1 shot of Calvados or brandy

Sweet. Potent. Cheers!

I neglected to get a photo of saucy shot - 'The Citrus Hummer' -  but it was a hit. Here's a photo of the saucy hostess instead.

Estonian Rhubarb Cake v.2

After I made Biskviikattega Rabaribrokook, Estonian rhubarb cake, last week, Jake declared it "better than rhubarb pie" and I decided to include it in my trio of desserts for our dinner party. He had one request, though - make it more tart. So, here's take two on the Biskviikattega Rabaribrokook. I reduced the sugar, used fresh lemon juice - instead of lemonade - and added lemon zest. A delicious success...

Part I

6 stalks of rhubarb, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced into 1/2" chunks
1/2 C organic granulated sugar

Roll the rhubarb in sugar and set aside.

Part II
2 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C powdered sugar
2/3 C butter, softened
2/3 C olive oil
pinch of pink Himalaya salt
1 T cold water

Preheat oven to 350. Place flour, powdered sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl. Rub in butter and oil till the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in water until the mixture forms a ball.

Press the dough into a 9"x13" baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Part III
4 eggs
1-1/2 C organic granulated sugar
1/4 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon

Beat together the eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and lemon juice in a bowl till smooth and combined. Stir in lemon zest.

Spoon the sugared rhubarb over the base then pour lemonade mixture over that. Bake for another 25 minutes. Leave to cool.

Skewers Galore!

Yesterday Jake and I hosted our annual dinner party for the HOGS (Happy Omnificent Gourmet Society). This fun group of eight couples takes turns creating a festive event, usually, with a theme.

We decided to kick it ol' school by making everyone play kickball - in our Che Cazzo! kickball tournament. Che Cazzo! is an Italian cuss-phrase that translates - roughly to WTF! - although it's literal meaning is about balls. In any case, it launched me into serving up a feast with foods that were round.

Truth be told, we didn't make it to nine innings...not even close. We called it quits after two, but did work up quite an appetite. And glasses of cherry-chardonnay sangria helped to ease the pain of pulled groin muscles, bloodied knees, and bruised egos.
To kick off the dinner, I served a trio of skewers - with mostly round elements. Skewers galore!

I. Mozzarella Ciliegie + Mini Heirloom Tomatoes + Fresh Basil Leaves

II. Strawberries + Feta Cubes + Mint Leaves

III. Honeydew Melon Balls + Prosciutto di Parma

Also on the bleachers for the appetizers: a variety of olives and Marcona almonds.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cherry-Chardonnay Sangria


I wanted to make a summery (adult) drink for a picnic with friends. So, I put D to work with his cherry pitter and made a white wine sangria.

2 bottles of chardonnay
2 lemons, halved
4 T organic, granulated sugar
2 shots brandy
2 dozen pitted sweet cherries
4 C sparkling lemon water
Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze juice from the lemon into the wine. Toss in the fruit and add sugar and brandy. Chill overnight. Add sparkling water just before serving. Cheers!

Here's a shot of the final product, at the ballpark...

Friday, July 27, 2012


 After watching the very disappointing tiramisù demonstration aboard the Star Princess, I've been craving my version. I learned how to make this in Italy...from a woman who didn't speak English. That has to be authentic, doesn't it?!?

Layer 1: ladyfingers moistened with an espresso + brandy mixture (with a 2:1 ratio)

Layer 2: zabaglione (3 egg yolks + 3 T organic granulated sugar cooked over a double boiler until frothy) + 3 egg whites beaten until peaks form

Layer 3: marscarpone cream + 1/3 C espresso

Layer 4: unsweetened whipped cream + unsweetened cocoa powder

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cooking Around the World: Estonia

Every now and then this lone resident of the testosterone land called 'In the Land of the Manns' flexes her estrogen-fueled muscles and makes things a little bit frilly in the kitchen. Tonight's tabletop travel to Estonia is a case in point. I wanted everything to be pink...well, except the beer!

Typical Estonian dishes include: Silgusoust (Baltic fish in acid sauce), Mulgikapsad (pork with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes), Verivorst (blood sausage and barley), Marineeritud angerjas (marinated eel), Sült (boiled pork in jelly), Keel Hernestega (tongue), Suitsukala (smoked fish) and Karask (a kind of dry cake-like barley bread).

But none of those sound very girly or pink. I opted for...

Beet Salad

4 potatoes, boiled and cooled
3 beets, boiled and cooled
3 eggs, boiled and cooled
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
pickled herring
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
3/4 C sour cream
3/4 C sour cream
1 T mustard
2 t blueberry vinegar
1 T organic granulated sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix herring, sour cream, and onion together. Chop salad ingredients into 1/2 inch cubes and toss together. In a separate bowl blend together cream, mustard, vinegar, sugar, and spices. Stir in blended dressing to tossed salad. Top with herring and a cornichon.

Rhubarb Cake

click the title for the recipe

This Global Table Ambassador is signing off and headed back to East Africa for their next culinary adventure: Ethiopia. And then we'll launch into the 'F' countries of the world!

Biskviikattega Rabaribrokook {Estonia} - Rhubarb Cake

Biskviikattega Rabaribrokook (Estonian Rhubarb Cake) has displaced rhubarb pie as my family's favorite dessert...ever. That's saying something. Wow.

Part I
6 stalks of rhubarb, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced into 1/2" chunks
1/2 C organic granulated sugar

Roll the rhubarb in sugar and set aside.

Part II
2 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C powdered sugar
2/3 C butter, softened
2/3 C olive oil
pinch of pink Himalaya salt
1 T cold water

Preheat oven to 350. Place flour, powdered sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl. Rub in butter and oil till the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in water until the mixture forms a ball.

Press the dough into a 9"x13" baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Part III
4 eggs
2 C organic granulated sugar
1/4 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 C strawberry lemonade (the original recipe called for lemon juice, but I wanted something pink!)

Beat together the eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and lemonade in a bowl till smooth and combined.

Spoon the sugared rhubarb over the base then pour lemonade mixture over that. Bake for another 25 minutes. Leave to cool.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Superhero Abalone

When Sarah, the editor of Edible Monterey Bay, commissioned me to cover an abalone cooking class, I had no idea how much I would have to invoke some superhero skills. I had to juggle a notepad, a camera, and a knife because I needed to (1) photograph, (2) take notes, (3) interview, (4) shuck, pound, and cook my abalone! But, I did it. And it was fabulous. I even got a "Wow! Nice job." from the chef on my presentation, garnishing my dish with sea lettuce, oyster leaves, and sea grass.

We even got to take home an abalone. Without a sousvide contraption of my own, I made due with a double boiler and whipped up a late snack for my love. I didn't have any of the sea greens; I garnished the dish with fresh tarragon. After I tucked the boys into bed and came back downstairs, it was gone. I guess he liked it!

2 T diced onions
1/2 C fresh corn
1/4 C freshly shelled tiger eye beans
1 bay leaf
1 C chicken stock
1/2 t minced garlic
fresh tarragon
freshly ground pink Himalaya salt and rainbow peppercorn

*the fresh abalone was shucked, pounded, then steamed over a double boiler for 4 hours and drizzled with beer every hour on the hour

In a small saucepan, cook the onions until they begin to turn translucent. Add the corn, beans, bay leaf, and chicken stock. Cook of low heat until the rest of the dish is ready for plating.

Melt a pat of butter in a skillet with garlic. Cook the abalone quickly - one minute on each side.

To serve: spoon the corn-bean relish onto a plate. Top with the abalone. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with fresh tarragon.

And just to compare...this is what I made in class.

Crab-Tarragon Soufflé {Food'N'Flix}: Because I Said So

Unlike our esteemed event hostess for the month, Heather of girlichef, I am not a movie buff. My husband and I hardly ever escape to the theatre for a date. 'Dinner and a movie' is tough to justify when you're paying a sitter by the hour and most movies don't need to be seen on the big screen anyway. We usually opt out of the movie part and just languish around a table, eating, drinking, and remembering why we like each other. Case in point: while we were in port during a cruise with my parents, they kept the boys and we stole away for Alaska beers and reindeer pizza.

And by the time movies make it to DVD or netflix, I usually only have my eyes on the screen for 50 to 75% of the time; it's challenging to watch a movie when you're reading a book or making jewelry at the same time! So, when I do sit down to watch a movie, with undivided attention, there's usually a purpose. Once a month, I watch one for Food'N'Flix, with a notepad in hand, to draw some kind of culinary inspiration from the month's pick. Click here to see Heather's invitation to her selection - Because I Said So. And definitely check out her cake batter martinis inspired by the movie. Yum.

As for my movie preferences... Love + Food. Yes, please. Corny chick-flick...not so much...and usually only once. When I asked my husband if he could find Because I Said So for me on netflix so we could watch it, he didn't even move. "It's for my Food'N'Flix project this month," I explained while I dried the last pot from dinner. Still, no movement.

"You know that we've seen that, right?" he reminded me. "It's the one with the mom and the three daughters. There were a lot of cakes. Remember?! It was a one-timer." Tacit in that recounting: it was a one-timer and you've used up that one-time. Okay, fine. So, I had to watch the movie again, by myself, in the dead of night.

Though I do not have Milly's keen ability to sense when my soufflés have reached peak perfection I can make a mean savory soufflé - with a timer.

Camilla's Crab & Tarragon Soufflé

2 C lump crabmeat
4 T white whole wheat flour
1-1/2 C organic milk
1 C shredded parmesan cheese
2 T chopped fresh tarragon
4 eggs, separated

Butter a baking dish and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients except the tarragon and egg whites together in a large mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites and tarragon into the mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the soufflé is nicely risen and golden. Serve immediately. 

Next month we'll be watching and cooking from The Help. Wanna join the fun?

A Winning Recipe

I just got the email..."Congratulations, Camilla! Your recipe for Malfatti di Ricotta e Bietola is the store finalist recipe winner for We Olive Paso Robles,  in the 'Discover Cooking with California Olive Oil' recipe contest."

Woo hoo. So, we're headed to Paso. I didn't win the Grand Prize which would have given me four tickets, but I did win two and a lot of perks. Now begins the ticket wrestling - Jake and Pia both feel that the ticket should belong to them.

Here's my winning recipe... MALFATTI DI RICOTTA E BIETOLA.

Cooking Around the World: Eritrea

Tonight we headed to Eritrea for dinner in our Cooking Around the World Adventure. Eri - where? Eritrea.

Eritrea, roughly the size of Indiana, was formerly the northernmost province of Ethiopia and was once an Italian Colony. The Italians named the colony after the Roman name for the Red Sea, Mare Erythraeum, controlling the area until World War II.

Eritrea is bordered by the Sudan on the north and west, the Red Sea on the north and east, and Ethiopia and Djibouti on the south.

This was probably one of the easier international meals I've made. And, surprisingly, Jake declared it in his top 5. When I asked what were the meals above it, he shrugged.  "I don't remember, but this is defnitely 'top 5'."

I served a traditional Eritrean recipe for a classic leavened flatbread flavored with garlic, cumin, and cardamom: Hembesha.

1 1/2 C warm water
1 T active, dry yeast
1 T organic granulated sugar
4 C white whole wheat flour (I have no idea what kind of flour is traditionally used)
1 T pink Himalaya salt
1/4 C olive oil
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground cardamom
1 T minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Place the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and sugar. Let it bloom for 5 minutes. Add the flour, salt, garlic, and spices. Knead well for 5 mins. Put dough ball back in bowl, drizzle with oil, cover with a towel, and let rise for an hour. Punch the dough down.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into half press it out into rounds, on an ungreased baking stone, about an 1/2 inch thick. Bake for 20 to 25 mins.

I served that with: D'Nish Zigni
olive oil
1 t ground paprika*
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cardamom
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1 medium onion, chopped
6 medium potatoes, cubed
1 C tomato sauce
1 tbsp salt
1 C chicken stock

Fry the onions in oil for 5 minutes then add the spices and potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes before adding the tomato paste, season to taste and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

* These ground spices, along with fenugreek and all-spice, make up a commonly used blend called berbere spice. I didn't have the fenugreek or all-spice, so I used what I had. This was fragrant and fabulous as is. I'll have to give it a try with all the spices soon!

This global table ambassador is signing off for now. We're headed to Estonia next.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cooking Around the World: Equatorial Guinea

When I was looking for a recipe to make for our virtual stop in Equatorial Guinea, I came across a recipe that was translated as "Guinea Fowl Paella." I absentmindedly asked aloud, "what's a guinea fowl look like?" And my 8-year-old immediately launched into what ended up being a very detailed - and accurate - description: Mommy, it's black and white,'s like a chicken...but with a blue, bald turkey head. You know it has a comb. Well, the males have a comb on the a rooster.

Click here to read what the Animal Planet website has to say about the birds.

Turns out that not only does the bird look like a chicken-turkey, but it, apparently, tastes like a chicken-turkey. The Guinea Fowl Paella recipe resembled a variation of the ubiquitous, and almost sacrosanct, West African recipe for Jollof. Every West Affrican country has its own version and abhors "inauthentic" variations. From Ghana to Senegal, each country purports to have the most authentic recipe. They all have a  tomato base. They all have rice. And they are all cooked in a single pot. So, tonight Dylan, my kitchen elf of the night, and I made a version of Jollof with chicken.

In a large flat-bottom pan, sautee onions and celery in a splash of olive oil until translucent. Add bite-sized piece of chickens and cook through.

Stir in carrot coins and green beans snapped to 1" lengths. Pour in 1 C tomato sauce and 3 C chicken broth. Add 1 C cooked beans. Traditionally, Guineans use black-eyed peas, but I used red kidney beans because that's what I had in my cupboard. Stir in 1 C rice. bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer till the rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This was a hit! Everyone, including me, had seconds. And that is a  rarity.

This Global Table Ambassador is signing off for now. We're headed to Eritrea next.

Y-Om Mani Padme Hum-y Fruit Galettes

Om Mani Padme Hum
click here to read more about this Tibetan mantra

I was inspired to make a plum galette this morning with the bounty of plums from the Mobley's tree and the simple yeast dough recipe from the monks at the Tassajara Mountain Zen Center that was published in the Monterey County Weekly this week.

Riley wanted to hull some strawberries, with his gadget. So, we ended up with one strawberry galette and one plum galette.

Om Mani Padme Hum... cooking is my happy place.

I doubled the recipe and then made some adaptations because the dough seemed far too wet.  Here's my recipe for the dough:

1/2 C warm water
2 t active dry yeast
2 pinches of organic granulated sugar
3-1/2 C white whole wheat flour
1 t pink Himalaya salt
2 large eggs
6 T soft butter

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water. Let bloom for 10 minutes.

Add 3 C flour, 2 room temperature eggs, salt, and buter. Beat with a wooden spoon until you form a smooth dough that pulls away from the bowl. It should come together very quickly. Turn out the dough onto a counter and knead in the remaining 1/2 cup flour until smooth and shiny, about five minutes. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and let rise for about one hour. Punch down the dough and let it rise again if you have (or need) the time; I let mine rise for another 30 minutes.

Pull and cajole the dough into a large circle and lay it in a tart pan or pie tin - with at least a 1-2" overhang. Roll your fruit in sugar then spoon it into the crust. Dot it with butter. Fold the dough inward to create a free-form galette. Brush the surface with a beaten egg and sprinkle with a little bit more sugar.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn over down to 350 and bake for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbling. The bottom of the crust should be golden, crisp and dry.

*Note: I would - in hindsight - add some flour to the sugar when I roll the fruit in it. These ended up a tad watery. The flour would have helped. Next time... oh, and Riley wanted me to post a photo of him with his galette.
I am sharing this with July's BYOB event...

Cooking Around the World: El Salvador

We're blazing through the 'E' countries in our cooking around the world adventure with a stop, tonight, in El Salvador.

Here are some fun facts about El Salvador...

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, but it has the largest shopping mall in all of central America!
El Salvador’s currency is the US dollar, and it’s been like that for over 10 years.

El Salvadorians are also called Guanacos.

El Salvador is one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world hosting tons of surf competitions yearly.

Out of all the Central American countries, it’s the only that doesn’t have a Caribbean coast line.

El Salvador is known to have some of the most active volcanoes in Central America.

And, unlike most of our virtual travel, we actually have had authentic Salvadorean food, so it was just a matter of replicating it. Dylan said that I did a good job. Success!

Here's what I made: pupusas - one with a kale and potato filling and one with a shrimp and loroco flower filling - topped with a special Salvadorean white sauce and a side of curtido salvadoreno.

Masa harina, 2 cups
Warm water, 1 cup
Filling, 1 cup

In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water. Knead to make a moist, yet firm dough; it should not crack at the edges when you press down on it. Cover and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball.

Make an indentation in each ball with your thumb. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling into the indentation and fold the dough over to completely enclose it. Press the ball out with your palms to form a disc. Make sure that the filling doesn't spill out.

Heat a greased skillet over medium-high flame. Cook each pupusa for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and blistered. Remove to a plate and hold warm until all pupusas are done. Serve with curtido.

Curtido Salvadoreno
1 medium head cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 t dried red pepper (optional)
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t mint
1/2 t chives
1 t olive oil
1 t salt
1 organic brown sugar
1/4 C vinegar
1/2 C water

Blanch the cabbage with boiling water for 1 minute. Discard the water. Place the cabbage in a large bowl and add all other ingredients. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

We're heading to Equatorial Guinea next...