Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tasting Notes: Beefy Boys Jerky #ShopSmall #Sponsor

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Beefy Boys Jerky. All opinions are my own.

When I saw Beefy Boys Jerky's listing on the Local Harvest website, I was excited: local beef jerky. Yes! 

Then, it turns out I know one of the guys involved in the business. Even better. I love supporting local. But I love supporting friends' businesses even more.

So, I asked if I could taste the products and he gave me a nice sampling. After just a few bites, the Precise Kitchen Elf was convinced that he wanted to give bags of jerky to his teachers as part of their holiday baskets...along with a note thanking them for "beefing up his education." So, I placed an order almost immediately. And I did get the green light to share this SECRET LOCALS' ONLY deal with you...

If you buy 24 bags, they have a deal for $150.00 including local delivery. 
(That works out to $6.25/bag) 
Get the special by calling 888-669-2010, Mon-Fri 9am-5pm PST.
You get to pick the flavors!!

Tasting Notes We each had different favorites!

Their beef jerky is made fresh weekly with meat sourced from a local supplier located within 120 miles of their Salinas plant. They use a portion of the Top Round and slice the meat so that you can tell it is from a solid piece of meat. "The bigger, the better," they say. Then it's slow-cooked and hand cut with butcher's scissors after it's cooled. There is a lot of variation in the product, but that's how you know it's hand-crafted in small batches. Yummy.

Reserve: This was my favorite for two reasons - first, it's cut into carrot-sized strips versus thin sheets. So, it's thicker and more tender. Second, you can taste the red wine in the marinade. Wow. You know me, I'm a red wine gal. This was an easy pick as my favorite.

Teriyaki: This was Jake's favorite . It had nice flavor, but - for me - it was the toughest texturewise.

Sweet Garlic: This was the most moist of all the ones we tried. And it was also the most mild and most sweet. Though I don't usually like sweet beef jerky, this might have made me a convert. It was definitely D's favorite.

Jamaican-Style: This, like the Reserve is cut into carrot-sized strips versus thin sheets. Again, it's thicker and more tender. I love the complex flavors, but the most prominent for me were garlic and all spice. Delish.

Peppered: This is made with a secret family recipe dating back to 1963. It has a nice peppery bite without being too spicy. Very nice. I think this was R's favorite.

Hot Peppered: Okay, truth be told, we haven't tried this one. Not yet. We're a little daunted by the fact that it's completely orange with red chili pepper flakes. Maybe we'll sit down with the bag and a glass of milk soon. I'll keep you posted.

You may find Beefy Boys on the web, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

*Disclosure: I received this product for free from the sponsor. 
However, all statements are 100% my own and 100% accurate.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Tasting Notes: Bread & Butter Caramels #ShopSmall

I can make caramels. I am pretty darn good at making caramel sauce. That process I have perfected; maybe it's because it doesn't require a candy thermometer. But making caramel candies - wrapped in wax paper - that are a uniform size and the perfect texture...I'm not as good at that.

Thankfully a foodie friend of mine suggested I go to the caramel tasting for a local business called Bread & Butter Caramels. The owner was unveiling her 2016 flavors.

Though I never ever go out on Black Friday, I am happy to support Small Business Saturday. The Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf and I waited for a lull in the rain before heading out with shopping bags and an adventurous spirit.

We walked into the hosting store and I recognized the business owner and confectioner behind Bread & Butter Caramels. Lauren Palminteri. Turns out that years and years ago, she took a summer school class I taught. She was in high school and I am pretty sure that was the first year that I taught, so I didn't even have R. What a treat to see her...and taste her delicious caramels!

D and I tasted all the flavors she was offering. And, since we couldn't decide, we bought two of each flavor: Hot Apple Cider, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Milk & Honey, and Salted. We also grabbed some of her honeycomb candy and two bags of homemade marshmallows.

We headed home for lunch and, for dessert, held a caramel tasting to see which ones Jake and R liked best.

Hot Apple Cider: This has a strong apple flavor with a nice depth from the bourbon. It was my favorite and D's favorite. I can see enjoying this with a mug of Ponche Navideño (Christmas Punch) in front of the fireplace.

Sticky Toffee Pudding: This caramel was Jake's favorite with richness from both brown sugar and dates. Inspired by Lauren's favorite dessert, she recommends eating these with a flute of sparkling wine. Me? I can imagine eating them while sipping on a mug of Smoking Bishop.

Milk & Honey: R's favorite caramel was Lauren's Milk & Honey. Sweet cream, local honey, and homemade honeycomb candy. It was delightfully buttery and rich. I think I'd pour a glass of ice wine with it.

Salted: The salted caramel was tasty and I anticipated that I would like it the best, considering my usual penchant for savories. Though it was delicious and well-made, it didn't stand out from among her other flavors.

Given that I usually rooted in the savory camp, I was surprised to find myself perusing her website, at almost midnight, struggling to decide what to order for the holidays. But she has three things going for her: (1) her caramels are delicious; (2) her caramels are unique; and (3) she's a local gal.

Now I'm a huge fan of Bread & Butter Caramels and can't wait to get my hands on more. And I am looking forward to her Spring tasting, too. Until then, don't be surprised if you see a box of these in your stocking from me.

You can find Bread & Butter Caramels on the web and on instagram.
And, if you're local, her caramels are sold at Bright Coffee inside lilify.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Roasted Carrots and Carnival Squash with Miso Butter

When I saw the carnival squash in my CSA box, I knew I wanted to use them on our Thanksgiving table - even though I already had cauliflower and Brussels sprouts on the menu. So, I picked an easy preparation and added a compound miso butter to stick with my Asian-inspired theme.


  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 to 3 organic carnival squash, deseeded and sliced into thick wedges
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 1 T white miso paste (you can use red, but the flavor will be stronger and the butter darker)
  • black sesame seeds for garnish, optional
  • fresh cilantro for garnish, optional


Heat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets (one for the carrots and one for the squash) with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In large mixing bowl, toss squash and olive oil together until well coated. Spread squash in even layer on baking sheet. Lay the carrots on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Place both trays in the oven.

Roast 20 to 25 minutes, then flip and roast another 20 to 25 minutes more.     

While the veggies roast, make your compound butter. In a bowl - or even a food processor - combine the butter and miso paste until well-incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Increase heat to 500°F. Roast an additional 5 minutes, or nicely browned in spots.

Place squash and carrots on a serving platter and dot with miso compound butter. If using, garnish with black sesame seeds and fresh cilantro. Serve hot.

Friday, November 25, 2016

+ Revival à la Mode

When your Thanksgiving pie - D's Perfected Pecan Pie - needs to be à la mode, you turn to the experts. I sent to the boys downtown to Chef Ron Mendoza's Revival Ice + Cream shop. You can read our Tasting Notes from our first trip there last month...just after he opened.

They selected Sweet Potato and Kelp + Caramel. Wow. So delicious. And so unique.

Perfected Pecan Pie (Still Gluten-Free, Double the Espresso)

A couple of weekends ago, the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf made a {Gluten-Free} Brown Butter-Espresso Pecan Pie for a birthday dinner party. I asked him to reprise the dessert for our Thanksgiving feast. He promptly agreed, but said, "I have to make a change, though, to make it perfect." Okay. His change: the Precise Kitchen Elf said it needed more coffee flavor, so D doubled the espresso powder. Wow.

Ingredients  makes one 9" pie

  • 1-1/4 C gluten-free flour
  • 1-1/2 t organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla salt
  • 1/2 C butter (1 stick), cubed
  • cold water

  • 8 ounces raw pecan halves
  • 8 ounces Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 3 T brewed espresso
  • 1/2 C butter (1 stick)
  • 1 C packed organic light brown sugar
  • 7/8 C bourbon maple syrup
  • 1 T instant espresso powder
  • 1-1/2 t vanilla salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • whipped cream or ice cream for serving (for our Thanksgiving feast, we picked two flavors from a new artisanal ice cream shop downtown: sweet potato and kelp-caramel)


In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the butter cubes and pulse until chunks the size of small peas form. Pour in 1/4 cup of cold water and pulse, again, till the dough comes together in a ball. Turn out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and knead 2 to 3 times. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, approximately 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper, then transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.

We only have one rolling pin, so I used a wine bottle for my crust! "C'mon, Mom, hurry up," he urged.

Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or - we used - whole nuts in their shell. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove the paper and weights. Return to the oven and bake until the bottom is lightly browned, approximately another 10 minutes. Let cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and make the filling.

In a small pan, cook the chopped dates in the brewed espresso until softened to a paste, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. 

In a dry skillet, cook the pecans over medium heat until they are fragrant and toasted, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the toasted nuts into a bowl and let cool. Wipe out the skillet and use it for the next step, too.

Add the butter to the pan and cook over medium heat, swirling, until the milk solids turn a deep golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, instant coffee powder, and salt. Whisk in the eggs, then slowly whisk in the brown butter until the filling is smooth. 

Spread the espresso-date mixture over the bottom of the parbaked crust.

Scatter the pecans on top of the espresso-date mixture, filling up the crust as much as possible.

Pour the filling over the pecans. Place in the oven and bake for 70 to 75 minutes - until the filling is set around the edge and slightly jiggly in the center. 

Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely.

To serve, slice and place on individual plates with a scoop of whipped cream or ice cream. "Now's it's perfect," he declared.

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Crushed Szechuan Pepper Vinaigrette

Another of my veggie sides on our Thanksgiving table was this easy Brussels sprout salad. So easy, but so full of flavor with the crushed Szechuan pepper dressing. Szechuan peppers are not actually peppers. They are sometimes called Chinese coriander.

A couple of things to note: they aren't spicy hot like other peppers. In fact they aren't chile peppers at all. They are the seed pods from the Chinese prickly ash bush. They are one of the five spices in Chinese Five Spice along with fennel seeds, star anise, cinnamon, and cloves.

For this dish, you want to shred or thinly slice the Brussels sprout heads. I have, long ago, painstakingly peeled each leaf off the heads, but didn't have the patience for that this time. So, I sliced them on my mandolin. I think, too, you can actually purchase them already sliced. Do that if you're pressed for time! You'll have a delicious side dish on the table in no time flat. This recipe serves 12, but you can easily scale back. The dressing will keep in the fridge for a week or so, in case you have extras.

Ingredients serves 12
  • 6 C shredded or thinly slices Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 C rice wine vinegar
  • 3/4 C olive oil
  • 1 t Szechuan peppers
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • also needed: a glass mason jar with a lid

Place your Brussels sprouts in a large mixing bowl. Crush your Szechuan pepper with a mortar and pestle and set aside.

In a mason jar, pour the rice wine vinegar and olive oil. Add in the crushed Szechuan pepper and a few grinds of salt and pepper. Place the lid on the jar and shake to emulsify.

Pour the dressing over the Brussels sprouts and toss to coat. Let stand for at least 15 to 20 minutes for the sprouts to soften a bit.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016 Menu: Feast from the East

If you've been reading my blog, for even a little while, you probably have the sense that I don't really adhere to any culinary traditions for holidays. I can't remember the last time we've had turkey on our Thanksgiving table. 

This was the menu I created for Thanksgiving 2016...dishes with Asian flair. Yum. 

Recipes and tasting notes will be posting shortly and be linked below. You'll just need to click on the dish title below.

Paired with Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare

Paired with Bonny Doon The Heart Has Its Rieslings

Osso Buco with Orange-Ginger Gravy & Cranberry Gremolata
Sticky Rice Stuffing with Shiitakes & Chestnuts
Masala Lamb Shanks
Paired with Bonny Doon GCSM

Sesame Panna Cotta
Paired with Randall Grahm’s Pacific Rim Riesling Vin de Glaciere

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Graavilõhe #CranberryWeek

Welcome to Day Four of #CranberryWeek, hosted by Caroline's Cooking and A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures. We'll be sharing cranberry-inspired creations all week long in celebration of national cranberry day.

 Search #CranberryWeek to keep up to date and follow the #CranberryWeek Pinterest board for more cranberry inspiration. But first, see all the other cranberry recipes being shared today:

As I've been trying to offer savory cranberry recipes with an international bent, I decided to try my hand at a Scandinavian-inspired recipe: cranberry cured salmon. The recipe name I picked is the Estonian word for cured salmon; and they do have a tradition of using cranberries in their creation.


  • 1/2 C coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 t ground black pepper
  • 3/4 C fresh cranberries
  • 3 to 4 springs fresh dill
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 pieces of wild-caught salmon, well matched in size and shape, if possible
  • Also needed: plastic wrap


In a blender or food processor, blend the fresh cranberries with 1 T vinegar to form a thick paste. Set aside.

Mix the salt, sugar, and pepper together. Spoon a third of the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap and place one of the salmon pieces on top of it, skin-side down. Put half of the remaining salt mixture on top of the salmon.

Spoon the cranberry mixture on top. Drizzle the filet with remaining vinegar. Sandwiching the fresh dill in between, fit the other piece of fish, skin-side up, on top. Use the remaining salt-sugar mixture on the top.

Wrap the salmon tightly with the plastic wrap. And place it in a glass container because it will weep through the duration of the curing process. Every twelve hours, flip the salmon. Do this for three days.

Before serving, rinse the salt-sugar off. 

Serve thin slices with crème fraîche and capers.

{Gluten-Free} Cranberry Granola Cake

Inspired by my bounty of fresh organic cranberries, I decided to whip up a gluten-free breakfast cake on this final day of our on-campus fund drive. It was a quick and easy. And I had a box of whole grain gluten-free pastry flour that I've been meaning to try.  


  • 2-3/4 C whole grain gluten-free pastry flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 3/4 C organic whole milk
  • 1/2 C organic eggnog
  • 10 T butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  •  1 C gluten-free granola
  • 1 C fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 t freshly ground nutmeg


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk in milk, eggnog, melted butter, and three eggs. Fold in granola, cranberries, and ground nutmeg.

Spoon batter into a 9" square baking dish. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes - until  the cake is firm all the way to the center. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Braised Short Ribs with Hoisin-Cranberry Sauce and Asian Coleslaw #CranberryWeek

Welcome to Day Three of #CranberryWeek, hosted by Caroline's Cooking and A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures. We'll be sharing cranberry-inspired creations all week long in celebration of national cranberry day.

 Search #CranberryWeek to keep up to date and follow the #CranberryWeek Pinterest board for more cranberry inspiration. But first, see all the other cranberry recipes being shared today:

Braised Short Ribs 
with Hoisin-Cranberry Sauce and Asian Coleslaw

I decided to make a main dish with an Asian bent for this third day of #CranberryWeek. So, I created a hoisin-cranberry sauce and slathered it on braised short ribs. And for even more cranberry goodness, I folded dried cranberries into a slaw.


  • 6 short ribs
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1 C beef stock
  • 1/4 C gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/4 C rice vinegar
  • 1/4 C kimchi 
  • 1 T hot sauce (here's my recipe)
  • 1 C fresh cranberries
  • 1 C hoisin sauce
  • oil (I used olive oil)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper


  • 1/2 C fish sauce
  • 1/2 C rice vinegar
  • 1/2 t dried red chile pepper flakes
  • 2 t organic granulated sugar
  • 4 C cabbage, thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a Dutch oven, heat a splash of olive oil.

Brown the ribs on all sides. Add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant. Stir in the ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant.

Pour in the stock, tamari, and rice vinegar. Stir in the kimchi. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover and place the pot in the oven. Let braise for 1-1/2 hours. Make your hoisin-cranberry sauce in the meantime.

In a medium sauce pan, add a splash of olive oil. Heat the hot sauce, cranberries, and hoisin until the cranberries pop. Process in a blender until a thick paste forms.

After 90 minutes, raise the temperature of the oven to 450 degrees F. 

Uncover the pot and spoon 1 T of sauce on top of each rib. Return the pot to the oven and braise for another 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, vinegar, chile flakes, and sugar. Whisk till smooth. Add the cabbage to the dressing and toss to coat completely. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the dried cranberries and let stand for the flavors to develop for at least 10 minutes.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cranberry Chicken Thokku #CranberryWeek

Welcome to Day Two of #CranberryWeek, hosted by Caroline's Cooking and A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures. We'll be sharing cranberry-inspired creations all week long in celebration of national cranberry day.

 Search #CranberryWeek to keep up to date and follow the #CranberryWeek Pinterest board for more cranberry inspiration. But first, see all the other cranberry recipes being shared today:

Determined to create some cranberry dishes with an international bent, I posted Georgian Pork Shashlyk with Tkemali yesterday. Today, I'm posting a Cranberry Chicken Thokku.

"What's Thokku?" you ask.

Thokku lies somewhere in between a chutney and a pickle. It's tangy and spicy and I thought it would be the perfect canvas for our berries of the week.

Cranberry Thokku


  • 1 C fresh organic Cranberries
  • 1 organic white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 T oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1/8 t ground turmeric
  • 1 T black mustard seeds
  • 1 T tamarind pulp
  • 2 to 3 T water
  • 1 T vinegar
  • 1/2 to 1 t red chile pepper flakes
  • 1 to 2 t organic dark brown sugar, as needed
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed

Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When they start to pop and dance, add turmeric, cranberries, and onions. Sauté until cranberries begin to pop, approximately 10 minutes.

Add in the tamarind, water, vinegar, and pepper flakes. Stir until the tamarind is dissolved. Stir in sugar, salt, and pepper to taste.

Cool completely before spooning into a sterile jar. Refrigerate until needed.

Roasted Cranberry Chicken Thokku

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 t ground cardamom
  • 1 t ground paprika
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t ground coriander
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 t ground turmeric
  • 3/4 t freshly ground sea salt
  • 3/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 T cranberry thokku
  • olive oil
  • noodles or rice, for serving (I used gluten-free sweet potato noodles)

Place chicken thighs in a lidded container where they can lay flat in a single layer. Add the remaining ingredients and rub the spices into the meat. Drizzle with olive oil and cover the container. Refrigerate overnight.

Remove chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you want to start cooking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken in a baking dish. Drizzle with more olive oil. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Spoon 1 T of the cranberry thokku over each thigh and return it to the oven for another 10 to 12 minutes.

To serve, place your noodles or rice on an invidual plate. Top with a roasted chicken thigh. Spoon even more Thokku on the top, if desired.