Tuesday, December 31, 2013

MY Favorite Eats from 2013

While I shared the top three most visited posts from you all, I thought I'd put on my thinking cap and share MY favorite bites from the year, too. Top five, in no particular order.

13 August 2013

13 January 2013

25 May 2013

9 June 2013
17 October 2013

Happy New Year! We're ready to tackle new culinary adventures in 2014...and, hopefully, wrap up our long detailed Culinary Adventures Around the World. We've been completely remiss at staying on track with that. Ugh. But it's a new year...new leaf and all that.

Most Viewed Posts of 2013

As we leave 2013 in our rearview mirror, I thought I'd recap the top three most viewed posts by you, dear readers. My three favorites will be coming soon.

Most Viewed Posts of 2013...

31 August 2013
Though I completely failed on trying a new-to-us cheese every Friday for 52 weeks, we did find some great ones! Maybe I'll be more successful in 2014.

9 May 2013
Celebrations always call for bubbles. And my bubbles of choice are usually Italian. Mi piace prosecco!

11 September 2013
In memory of a dear, dear friend who was taken from us far too soon. 
 I miss you, Zanne.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Affogato Speciale {Winter Cocktails}

  adapted from Winter Cocktails 
by Maria del Mar Sacasa

I have made affogato plenty of times. But I've never spiked it. Wow. Since I was using some homemade eggnog ice cream that we received as a Christmas present - thanks, Jenn! - I swapped out the recommended amaretto for some dark rum.

2 oz dark rum
2 oz dark espresso (my favorite is Illy)
6 oz organic chocolate stout
1 scoop eggnog ice cream

Place ice cream in a glass. Pour rum, espresso, and beer over the top. Serve with a spoon.

Cin cin!

A note on the amounts, I think that Winter Cocktails might have intended that the proportion given serve one person. I split that into two smaller cocktails and it was perfect for us.

A Pie Tasting Party

A friend invited us to a post-Christmas pie tasting party. What a great idea! This beats a cookie exchange hands down because there were savories. So many possibilities. I left there stuffed but inspired to make some more pies. Soon!

We tried...(forgive any omissions!)

Savories - shepherd's pie, tamale pie, chicken Provençal pie, onion flan, and my Gluten-Free Veggie Galette with Caprese Topping.

Sweets - maple nut-persimmon pie, bitter lemon meringue pie, apple-cranberry pie, apricot-marzipan tarte, Shaker lemon pie, gluten-free and dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake, cranberry linzertorte, pear-marscarpone pie, and my Gingered Calamansi Tart.

I tried them all! And there were many, many empty pie pans at the end of the event. I'd call this a success. Thanks for the invite, Bryndie. Let's make this an annual event.

What's your favorite pie? Comment below. Or email me at constantmotioncamilla[at]gmail[dot]com. I'd love some new recipes.

Veggie Galette with a Caprese Topping

When I was invited to a friend's post-Christmas pie tasting party, I responded that I would bring one sweet pie and one savory pie. The discussions began around our dining room table: What makes a pie a pie? 

Sensibly, Riley said, "A pie has no frosting." True.

Jake declared, "It's the crust." Okay.

And my sweet, Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf asserted, "A pie has a crust...and is low to the ground." Huh. "You know, a cake can be tall; a pie is short."

Employing all three of those criteria - no frosting, a crust, and low to the ground - a galette can qualify as a pie. So, I decided to make a veggie galette for my savory 'pie' offering.

I had a caprese tart in mind, but one of the things I love about caprese is its freshness. That didn't lend itself to a cooked tart. I settled on a veggie tart with a caprese topping. And since our hostess is mostly gluten-free, I went that route for my pâte brisée .

Pâte Brisée is a pastry dough/crust that has a rich flavor and a crisp, flaky texture. It is ideal for both sweet and savory pies, tarts, and quiches. Learn to make it. Stat. You won't regret adding it to your culinary repertoire.

2-1/2 C gluten-free flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 C finely ground cashews
1 C butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 egg
6 to 8 T ice water

I don't have a food processor, so I use a pastry blender and do it all by hand. Place the flour, ground cashews, and cold butter in a large bowl. Use the patry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add one egg and ice water 1 T at a time, until mixture just begins to clump together. If you squeeze some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and cut again. Note that too much water will make the crust tough. Once the dough comes together into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

For the filling...
2 C collard greens, chiffonaded
2 C baby spinach
2 C oven-roasted grape tomatoes
1/2 C grated pecorino Romano
2 cloves crushed garlic
olive oil

In a large-flat bottom pan, quickly wilt the greens with the garlic and a splash of olive oil. Once they are to your desired doneness, fold in your tomatoes and grated cheese.

Roll out the Pâte Brisée between two pieces of parchment paper, making a rustic 15-inch circle, adding more flour, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Transfer the crust to a baking sheet with the parchment or baking mat in place.

Leaving a 2-inch border, fill the crust and fold up the edges to make a free-form galette. Drizzle the top with olive oil, sprinkle it with freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake in a 425 degree oven until lightly browned on the edges, approximately 50 minutes. Let cool at least for 10 minutes before slicing.

For the topping...
Stir together ciliegie and fresh tomatoes, both halved, fresh basil chiffonaded, and a pinch of fleur de sel and a splash of olive oil.

And pie or not, this was delicious...and a hit at the party!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tea Tasting in Chinatown

On Dylan's food tour, as part of his 3-day birthday celebration, we stopped at a tea tasting room in Chinatown. We tried a multitude of teas, including...


  ...green tea...

...jasmine green tea pearls...

Things we learned: we should only be drinking high quality, loose leaf teas. Green teas have less caffeine than black teas; it's the opposite of coffee where lighter roasts are more potent. And you can reuse tea leaves about 8 times.

Everyone wanted to go back to the tea room the following day, but I had so many things planned, we couldn't squeeze it in. So, we have to make another trip up there. Wanna come?

Play with Your Food

These were from our friend's robot-themed birthday party. Nothing really to say here except this: if you offer kids vegetables and fruits, they will eat it. If you make the food fun, they will devour it. Thanks, Pia, for making birthday party fare fun and healthy!

Our Cowgirl Creamery Stop {Cheese Tasting}

We never get close to the Ferry Building without going in and spending an obscene amount of money on tasty salted pig parts and cheese! Caseophiles all. It's probably a good thing that Cowgirl Creamery isn't closer to me; I'd just have to sign my paycheck over to them each month.

The boys grabbed a number and waited, impatiently, for their turn with the cheese specialist. "Number five?" one of them called.

"Right here," declared Dylan, waving his number.

"I'd like to try a bleu cheese, please," said the Wombat.

She looked at him skeptically, then glanced over his head at me. I nodded. She shrugged and began to point out a few bleus. He asked, first, for the Colston Bassett Shropshire Blue. Though he did try the other bleus she offered, we took home a wedge of the Shropshire.

Shropshire Blue is a cow's milk blue cheese from the United Kingdom and is, technically, a cross between Stilton and Cheshire. The distinctive orange color comes from the addition of annatto seeds. Shropshire, while generally creamier and less nutty than Stilton, is sometimes stronger as well. What a cheese!

Riley asked for a suggestion on a brie, pointing at wedges of Mt. Tam. She urged, "Well, if you have a palate like your brother, I would have you try the Red Hawk. It's like the Mt. Tam, but aged for a month." He went for it. Click to read more about the Red Hawk: here. We bought a piece.

We also took home pieces of Barely Buzzed from Beehive Cheese in Utah and Capricorns, a peppercorn studded goat cheese, from Tumalo Farms in Oregon.

Tiny Food Party: Fenneled Mini-Meatloaves {Cookbook Review}

A couple of weeks ago I opened up a package from Quirk Books with a few cookbooks to test and review.*

Perfect timing...the holidays seem to be party after party after party. So, I delved first into Tiny Food Party! by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park who are the creative forces behind the blog Spoon Fork Bacon. The book is divided into four delicious sections: Tiny Snack Party - Adorable Appetizers; Tiny Dinner Party - Itty-Bitty Entrees; Tiny Dessert Party - A Little Something Sweet; and Tiny Cocktail Party - Darling Drinks.

While many of the recipes might already be part of your party-food repertoire, Teri and Jenny add their own flair to make the dishes fantastically original. For instance, they kick up caprese skewers a notch by drizzling it with a balsamic glaze; and they give deviled eggs a special twist by adding kimchi. Who would have thought?!?

For me, a winning cookbook is one that has multiple recipes that intrigue me, one whose recipes I actually try, and one that inspires me to adapt and keep cooking from the book. Tiny Food Party! is successful on all three counts. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I love this book. Thanks, Quirk.

The recipe I'll share with you is one that I took to a cookie-decorating party before Christmas. I don't think these survived five minutes. I put them out, turned my back, and they were gone. Yes, they were that good...at least that's what I heard. So, naturally, I had to make them again. The second time I made them, I added my own twist, making...

Fenneled Mini Meatloves 
inspired by Tiny Food Party!

2 lbs ground turkey
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
1/2 C ground cashews
1/4 C chia seeds
1 t fennel pollen
1 t ground paprika
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground pepper
handful of chopped fresh parsley
handful of chopped fresh basil

3/4 C ketchup (I used our homemade ketchup)
3 T organic coconut sugar
1 t ginger syrup
2 t ground ginger

Blend all of the ingredients together in mixing bowl until well-combined. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Form the meat into mini loaves. Or, if you have a Twinkie pan like I do (don't ask!), use that, pressing the meat mixture into the lightly greased hollows.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the glaze. Divide the mixture in half. Brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, drain the liquid, flip the loaves, and brush the other side with glaze. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Once cooked, remove the loaves from the pan and let them cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Serve skewered with toothpicks.

*Full disclosure: I did receive a complimentary copy of Tiny Food Party! from the publishers. 
However, all opinions are 100% accurate and 100% my own

Vadar's Darkside Towers with Boccalone's Sanguinaccio

After our field trip to the Ferry Building, in San Francisco, and my shopping spree at Boccalone, I tried to figure out what to do with my sanguinaccio, blood sausage. I have no idea what possessed me to pick up a package; I had Andrew Zimmern's voice in my head, urging me to be a little bit adventurous, I guess. So, I did some reading and loved the suggestion of pairing the blood sausage with something oceany and salty. Boccalone has a recipe for sanguinaccio + oysters on their website. But since oysters are hit and miss for me - sometimes I have an allergic reaction and sometimes I don't - I usually avoid them. I took their lead, however, and went with sanguinaccio + scallops.

My Vadar's Darkside Towers were one of the things I brought to a post-holiday Star Wars brunch.

To start, I poached the sausages for 20 minutes. Then I browned them on the stove until they were crisped on the sides. Then I let them cool slightly and sliced them into thick coins.

To finish off the towers I used a slice of heirloom tomato, a seared scallop, and a fresh sage leaf.

To serve, I seasoned with freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground pepper and sprinkled it with a splash of freshly squeezed calamansi juice. Yum. The earthy blood plus the salty scallop and zingy citrus was perfect.

Boccalone: Tasty Salted Pig Parts

Have you ever been to the Ferry Building in San Francisco? If so - and you're not a vegetarian - you might have seen Boccalone. Their tag line is 'tasty salted pig parts.' No joke. So, if you don't eat pork, look away. Now.

But if tasty salted pig parts float your boat, read on.

They have a glass case that basically screams: look at me. Hanging salumi...I wanted every since piece! Every. Single. Piece. I'm not kidding.

But I restrained myself and ended up with sanguinaccio...

...Orange & Wild Fennel Salame that we sliced up on a post-Christmas cheese platter...

...and, lastly, guanciale - salt-cured pork jowl - that I used in my Strozzapretti alla Carbonara.

I'm in love. Now I just need to figure out if they ship! Or I need to create an excuse to get back up to the City.

Gingered Calamansi Tart

 If you aren't quite sure what a calamansi is...it's a tiny citrus that's popular in Asia. It's also called 'a golden lime' or 'a Chinese orange.' And it packs a sour, sour punch. My cousin gave me a bag full from her aunt's tree on Christmas, so I decided to use it in one of my pies for the pie party we're attending this afternoon.

2 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 t ground ginger
3/4 C butter
3 T cold water

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

Press the dough into a tart pan, with a removable base, and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. In the meantime, make the topping.

4 eggs
1 3/4 C organic granulated sugar
1/4 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking powder
1 T candied ginger, chopped
1/3 C fresh calamansi juice

To make the calamansi filling, beat together the eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, candied ginger, and calamansi juice in a bowl till smooth and combined.

Pour calamansi mixture over the cooked base. Bake for another 35 minutes. Leave to cool. Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into thin slices.