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Showing posts from December, 2012

Cooking Ambitions for 2013

I read this list of cooking ambitions for 2013 and really liked a few of them. Editing their list, I resolve to: Stop being afraid of making cakes.   When I first met Jake, I told him that I didn't bake; it took too much precision and I don't really have a sweet tooth. But now that I have kids - and I refuse to let them eat store-bought cakes with more frosting than taste - I do make cakes. Dylan' s Birthday   Bûche de Noë l Make friends with dough, especially sourdough. I have made progress on this front, even making my own baguettes this year. But sourdough...yes, that's on my to-cook list this year. Baguettes , Colwin-Style Use our slow-cookers way more. I don't own a slow-cooker. Sorry, Soraya. It was the victim of our great downsize...and I don't miss it. Make sauerkraut. Hmmm...I love sauerkraut. Okay, I'm on board with this goal. Continue our quest to love anchovies. Salty, little buggers. Okay. I'll fi

Apple Pie with a Gingerbread Crumble

Years ago - say, twenty five years! - my typical Friday night was to bake an apple pie with one of my best friends and, then, settle in for a night of watching romantic comedies. Yeah, we were real party animals. It's no wonder that the cool kids didn't invite us out for things such as rolling pumpkins down city streets! But we could recite every line from The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally . I have no idea what recipe we used to use. This is what I used tonight. Crust 2 C flour 1/2 C organic powdered sugar 3/4 C butter 4 T heavy whipping cream Use a pastry cutter to cut the flour and powdered sugar into the butter, forming pea-sized chunks. Add the whipping cream until the dough comes together into a ball. Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper - to fit your pan with at least 1" overhang. Press the dough gently into the pan and trim the crust to the top of your dish. Flute the edges and reserve the dough for the topping. Place th

Edible Flower Friday: Coming Up Roses

For December's Edible Flower Friday, I decided on roses - or, rather, rosewater. I am not a big fan of cut roses. It would be fair to say that I despise rose bouquets. Roses on bushes, I love, especially those small, potent Cecil Brunner roses; cut roses with ferns and baby's breath, are not beloved and my husband knows it. But that is another story. I do, however, adore cooking with rosewater. It adds a little botanical intrigue to recipes and, really, doesn't actually taste like roses. Here are a few recipes from my blog... Muhammar   (Bahrainian Sweet Rice) This sweet, sticky rice seemed an odd pairing with spicy fish on our tabletop travel to Bahrain. But it was actually quite delicious. Couronne De L'Épiphanie (Spanish Epiphany Bread) Last January we ended our Feast of Befana with this Spanish Epiphany Bread.  I made this tomato jam for a Moroccan-flavored birthday party for Jake a few years back.  And probably our favorite combination

Churchkhela for New Year's Eve {Georgia}

Our final international treat for our Global Dessert Tasting menu, based on  Global Table Adventure's new year's food suggestions  - is a nut candy from the Caucausus Mountains in Georgia. Normally we quickly eat a dozen grapes to accompany the strokes of the clock at midnight - in Spanish, or Portuguese, style - but this year, we'll be  getting our 'grape' on with churchkhela , a Georgian grape confection. While Sasha's recipe looks fantastic, I wanted to simplify and find a recipe that used grape juice instead of me having to puree and drain grapes overnight. I still needed 3-4 days for it to dry. And since we're an anti-walnut household (don't ask!), I went with pecans. Ingredients 40 pecans, approximately 6 C grape juice 3/4 C organic granulated sugar 1 C flour Confectioners' sugar Procedure I didn't have a needle. But I always have sterling silver jewelry wire. So I improvised and threaded my "nee

Mexican Fruit Salad {¡Feliz Navidad!}

In the style of the refreshing fruit salads you can pick up at the puestos de frutas all over Mexico, I decided to make a Mexican fruit salad for our family's Mexican Christmas feast. It's hardly a recipe, but it is delicious! Fruits, thinly sliced or julienned (I opted for pineapples and carrots) salt chili powder lemon juice pomegranate arils for garnish Arrange the fruits on your serving platter, season with salt and chili powder. Drizzle with lemon juice. Garnish with pomegranate. Enjoy.

Champurrado {¡Feliz Navidad!}

On this grey and drippy Christmas afternoon, the boys were asking for hot chocolate. I decided that since we were heading out for our (larger) family potluck with a Mexican theme, this year, I could make champurrado -  Mexican chocolate atole. Filipinos have a dish called champurrado , too, but it is completely different. 6 C milk 1 C unsweetened cocoa powder 1 C organic granulated sugar 1 C masa harina cinnamon sticks for garnish Whisk the milk, cocoa powder, and sugar together until smooth. Bring to a simmer. Whisk in the masa and cook until thickened. Serve in mugs with cinnamon sticks.

Figgy Pudding {Dickensian Christmas Eve}

I originally had Plum Pudding with a Hard Sauce on our Dickensian Christmas Even menu, but Nonna asked, "No figgy the song?!?" Fine. I started with this recipe for Warm Sticky Figgy Pudding , on the FoodNetwork's website, but I wanted more fig than date and didn't have any chocolate in the house - that was unwrapped and not destined for stockings, that is. So, I adapted quite a bit... 2 C dried figs 1 C dates Cover the dates and figs with boiling water and steep till cool. Drain the liquid, but reserve 2 C for the recipe. Destem and deseeds the fruits and use a potato masher to create a paste. In a large mixing bowl place the 2 C of liquid, 1 t baking soda, fruit mash, 1 C organic brown sugar, 2 T dark rum, and 2 eggs. Whisk until smooth. Butter your ramekins or other baking dishes. Gently fold in 2 C white whole wheat flour, 1/2 C ground almonds, 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 t baking powder. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins - le

Roasted Goose {Dickensian Christmas Eve}

While our Thanksgiving menus are decidedly non-traditional, I decided to go ultra-traditional with a roasted goose being the centerpiece of our Christmas Eve dinner. One of my friends from high school is also making a goose this year; I'm sure we'll be swapping our challenges and our successes. This was delicious and moist! Never having roasted a goose. I did a lot of reading while the goose defrosted for a day and a half, debating on cooking technique. In the end, my goose is the product of a multitude of recipes. Step One: defrost the bird...oh, after you recover from your coronary of paying for the thing! Kathey mentioned that hers was pricey. Mine was, too, but it was worth it. Step Two: To brine or not to brine? I opted not to brine, but I did rub our 11-pound bird with truffle salt and let it sit for 4 hours. Step Three: Stuff. I am not a fan of stuffing cooked inside a bird. Can you say botulism?!? So, I stuff with whatever I have on hand to help my roast k

Smoking Bishop {Dickensian Christmas Eve}

At the very end of the beloved Charles Dickens holiday classic A Christmas Carol , a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge and his long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit share an oddly named libation: a smoking bishop. "A Merry Christmas, Bob!" said Scrooge with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. "A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I'll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob! " The drink, as NPR's Neda Ulaby discovered  when she interviewed Cedric Dickens, Charles's great-grandson and author of Drinking with Dickens , is hot, spiced wine similar to wassail — something like a mulled wine, scented with citrus and infused with port. Ingredients 1 bottle of red wine same amount of water 1/2 C organic dark brown sugar juice from 4 roasted oranges + 1 roast

Revising the Dickens

After finding this 16th century recipe for mincemeat pie, I decided to nix mincemeat pies from our Christmas Eve Dickensian feast. Yuck. And yuck again. I'm sorry. I try to be open-minded about food, but this sounds so unappetizing to me - mutton, saffron, suet, vinegar, prunes, raisins, and dates...oh, and powdered beef broth. I don't want to waste all that good fruit! Pyes of mutton or beif must be fyne mynced & seasoned with pepper and salte and a lytel saffron to colour it suet or marrow a good quantitie a lytell vynegre pruynes great reasons and dates take the fattest of the broath of powdred beefe.  And if you will have paest royall take butter and yolkes of egges & so to temper the floure to make the paest. Other changes: Nonna requested figgy pudding - like the song! - instead of plum pudding, so I changed from the brandy hard sauce to vanilla ice cream.

Bûche de Noël with Eggnog Slush

Every year I make a Bûche de Noël for my almost-Christmas baby's birthday. This year Dylan asked if I could add an eggnog glaze on top. Okay. And he was also in charge of the decorations this year. Let's just say 'less is more' is not his motto. This bûche had marzipan grubs, worms, holly leaves and berries, mushrooms, and gingerbread hearts! I use Nick Malgieri's recipe in  Perfect Cakes  as my starting point. You can also find  his recipe on the FoodNetwork website . His chocolate genoise is, well, perfect. Actually his book is aptly named; there is not a recipe in there that I've made that hasn't turned out just divine. I did opt for a marscarpone filling instead of the traditional coffee filling. Chocolate Genoise Sheet: 3 large eggs 3 large egg yolks Pinch of salt 3/4 cup sugar 1/3 cup cake flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off) 1/3 cup cornstarch 1/4 cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa Butter and line a 10" x 15&

Blame the Mayans: End of Days Dinner

So, today is the day on which the Mayan calender ends. 12.21.12. Will the world end today? Not bloody likely. Why did they pick this date? Who knows! But I'll certainly commemorate this day with an end-of-the-world Mayan-inspired dinner.   Click on each title to go to the recipe post. Image from laughtershub blog Doomsday Stew Bloody Orange Mary Death by Chocolate Truffles

Death by Chocolate Truffles {End of Days}

Ingredients 12 oz high-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces 1/2 C heavy whipping cream pinch of fennel pollen 1 T licorice liqueur unsweetened cocoa powder Procedure In a small, heavy saucepan bring the whipping cream to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a separate bowl with fennel pollen and licorice liqueur. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let stand for 3 minutes. Whisk till smooth. Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Roll half-teaspoon sized balls in your hands as quickly as you can. Roll in unsweetened cocoa. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate overnight before serving.

Doomsday Stew {End of Days}

On any other day, this would be called posole ; today, I'm calling it 'doomsday stew.' I braised the pork ahead of time - to make this an easy after-work dinner. I subbed ingredients to match what I had on hand. Most of the recipes I found, cabbage and onions were used; I had chard and fennel. 3 pound of pork (slow braised in beer for three hours, left in its cooking liquid) 3 C white hominy 1 C yellow hominy 6 C chicken broth 1 C tomato sauce 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced 3 bay leaves juice and zest from 1 lemon freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper paprika ground cumin 1 avocado, diced 1/2 C fresh cilantro Cube the pork and return it to the soup pot. Add in the hominy, chicken broth, tomato, sauce, fennel, and bay leaves. Bring the soup to a simmer. Cook until the fennel is softened. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and lemon juice. Serve hot, garnished with avocado and cilantro.

Bloody Orange Mary {End of Days}

Ingredients 2 C tomato juice 1/2 C vodka 2/3 C orange juice 1/3 C lemon juice 2 T hot sauce, such as Ginger People's Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce 1 T soy sauce 2 pinches of fennel pollen Freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper Ice cubes Fennel spears, tomato wedges, lemon wedges, and fennel pollen for garnish Procedure Whisk together tomato juice, vodka, orange and lemon juices, soy sauce, and hot sauce in a large pitcher. Season with salt, pepper, and fennel pollen. Pour into ice-filled glasses, and garnish each with fennel spears, tomato wedges, lemon wedges, and a sprinkling of fennel pollen.

Transported by Tagliatelle

I am, admittedly, not Italian by birth or even genetics. But because I lived in Italy as an adult, learned to love food in Italy, and cook Italian on most nights that my family is not traveling by tabletop on our Cooking Around the World Adventure , I am a tough critic of Italian restaurants. Brutal. Nothing annoys me more than an Italian restaurant whose menu has typos or whose servers blatantly mispronounce Italian words. 'Bruschetta' is, probably, the most egregious error that grates on my ears. Say it with me, people. Brew-SKEH-tah. There's no 'sh' sound in that word. In any case, I'm difficult to impress when it comes to Italian cuisine. But when Jake and I found ourselves kid-free for long enough to duck out for a dinner date, our pick was unanimous and we eagerly made our way to La Balena in Carmel for the third time in a week. Yes, three times in one week...really three times in five days. That's saying something! Restaurants that have to

'Tis the Season to Savor the Seafood at La Balena

‘Tis the Season to Savor the Seafood –  With LaBalena , Savor the Local ,  and Local Catch Monterey Bay Story and Photos by Camilla M. Mann I have crossed paths with Anna and Emanuele Bartolini, owners of La Balena , at a few different local good food events. They are a duo that you can’t help but adore. Their philosophies about life and food are impressive and reflected in the choices they are making at their restaurant. From the tables in the main dining room that are made from reclaimed trans-Pacific shipping crates to the bench seating that they rescued from a local Habitat for Humanity store, refinishing the wood and upholstering the cushions themselves, and the fact that their menu is simple, seasonal, and sourced from local suppliers as much as possible, Anna and Emanuele aim for excellence in all aspects of preparation and presentation of traditional, rustic food with the spirit of a classic Italian Enoteca . Originally the Bartolinis explored opening an enotec