Monday, January 29, 2018

Triple Cherry Clafoutis with a Kick #KitchenMatrixCookingProject


Today is our final January post in our year-long project that I'm calling the Kitchen Matrix Project, after Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix cookbook. You can read about it: here. I'm very excited about the dishes and the bloggers who are joining me. Next month, Wendy at A Day in the Life in the Farm picked the recipes. I can't wait to follow along with her choices.

This week, I picked 'Clafoutis + 3 Ways' for the group which means we could make Cherry-Pistachio Clafoutis, Peach Clafoutis with Star Anise, or Mango Coconut Clafoutis...along with any variations or adaptations that we needed or wanted.


But, first, I'm going to be a little bit of a stickler on terminology. You wouldn't expect anything else from me, right? 

Clafoutis comes from the Limousin region of France and is traditionally made with black cherries; all other variations - made with plums, prunes, apples, cranberries, blackberries, peaches, and mango - are called flaugnarde. And here's another interesting tidbit, for clafoutis purists, the cherries are baked with their pits intact. The pits, when heated, supposedly impart a unique flavor to the custard-like batter. My cherries are pitted so...not traditional. But I did use cherries, so it is a clafoutis.

The Other Clafoutis


Triple Cherry Clafoutis with a Kick

I decided that I liked Bittman's variation with star anise and cayenne which he used with the peaches, but I wanted to make a clafoutis, so I melded together two of his recipes. And because Jake and I are not eating sugar this month, I skipped the sugar in Bittman's recipe and added in vanilla extract, some cherry liqueur, and a dash of ground cinnamon, too. In addition to the pistachios, I added dried cherries for another texture.

The boys' responses: (1) It's not sweet enough and (2) If you were trying to make a spumoni with the cherries and nuts, it didn't really work. Turns out they didn't like the dried cherries or the pistachios. So...next time I'll stick to the fresh cherries and the liqueur.

Ingredients
  • 1 pound cherries
  • 3/4 C heavy cream
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 2 T Luxardo cherry liqueur
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 C flour
  • 1 t ground star anise (I first tried this with a mortar and pestle, but ended up using an electric coffee grinder)
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • pinch or two of cayenne
  • 1/4 C dried cherries
  • 1/4 C raw pistachios

Procedure

Destem and pit the cherries. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cherries in the bottom of a buttered baking dish (I used an 8" square pan and a larger ramekin). 

In a blender, combine remaining ingredients and process until smooth. 


Pour the batter over the cherries and scatter with dried cherries and pistachios

Bake until batter is set and the clafoutis is browned on top, approximately 40 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Spiced Hot Chocolate #RecipeRedo



Eight years ago, on January 17, 2010, I published my very first blogpost. I had no idea what I was doing! 


Like most bloggers, I cringe when I look at those early posts. A serious dearth of story telling. No measurements. Just a stream of consciousness narrative that described how I made something. Yikes. The only thing I am mildly satisfied with are the photos. My photos weren't bad; the rest was abysmal.

So, along with a group of foodie bloggers, I have decided to re-do one recipe post a month. This will be a humbling exercise, I think. It will also be inspiring to see how far we've come.

Spiced Hot Chocolate

I kept the top photo because I love the festive red of those espresso cups and my Christmas amaryllis.

Ingredients makes 4 demitasse cups or 2 large cups

  • 2 C dark chocolate (I prefer 70% cacao solids or higher)
  • 2 C milk
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 T organic granulated sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground cardamom
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Procedure
Heat the milk till it just begins to steam. Add all the other ingredients. Whisk continuously until the chocolate is melted and the drink begins to thicken. Serve in small cups as this is a very rich drink. I used espresso cups; this recipes serves 4 in that case.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives #SpicesoftheSouk #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Le Creuset. All opinions are my own.

Last term, I taught a class about rice dishes from around the world and had approached my contact at Le Creuset about getting a tagine for when we, by tabletop, traveled to Morocco. Yes! She said 'yes.' Then the final week of my class was canceled and I never got a chance to use the pot. I was guilt-ridden.

So, I signed up to teach another six-week class and made sure that I used the tagine during the second week of class...just to make sure we didn't have another scheduling snafu. So, I am finally using the tagine as I said I would: to teach kids to cook!


Tagine
A tajine or tagine is a Maghrebi dish named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. So, it refers to both the cooking vessel and the resulting food; it is also called a maraq/marqa in North Africa and the Middle East.

Mentions of the tagine date back to Harun al-Rashid who was a ruler of the Early Muslim conquests and it appears in the 9th century collection of stories One Thousand and One Nights. At the same time, it was noted during the Islamic reign of the Abbasid Empire that stretched from the Middle East/Asia to North Africa and Andalusia.

The dish was used by nomadic Bedouin people of the Arabian Peninsula, who added dried fruits such as dates, apricots and plums to it. Tagine is traditionally cooked over hot charcoal with the shape of the lid acting as a self-basting tool. The circular base is flat with low sides and the cover is a large cone-shape that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is designed to collect all condensation and re-direct to back to the bottom. 

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives


Ingredients serves 8
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • ¼ t saffron threads, pulverized
  • ½  t ground ginger
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • ½ t ground cumin
  • ½ t turmeric
  • whole chicken, cut in 8 to 10 pieces, or 8 chicken thighs
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 C olives, pitted and halved
  • 4 to 5 preserved lemon wedges, pulp removed and rind sliced thinly
  • 2 C chicken stock
  • 2 T chopped flat-leaf parsley

Procedure
Blend garlic, saffron, ginger, paprika, cumin, and turmeric together. Rub chicken with mixture, cover, refrigerate and marinate 3 to 4 hours. I did this part ahead of class, so it probably marinated for 8 hours.

Heat half of the oil in heavy skillet. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Heat the remaining oil in the tagine. Add onions and cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned.


Tuck the cinnamon stick into the onions and place the browned chicken on top of that.


Scatter with olives and preserved lemon strips.


Pour stock over chicken. Bring to a boil, then cover. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.


To serve, sprinkle with parsley and divide into individual servings. Serve hot.


The kids loved it and, between mouthfuls, decided that we were going to make biriyani next week. Stay tuned!

You may find Le Creuset...
on the web
on Twitter

*Disclosure: I received this product for free from the sponsor and/or its public relations team in exchange for an honest review. I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Double Chocolate Cake with Whiskey Ganache #ChocolateCakeDay


Sixteen years ago I never, in my wildest dreams, would imagine that I would be hosting a round-up of chocolate cake recipes in honor of National Chocolate Cake Day. Sixteen years ago, I didn't eat chocolate. But, here I am. I gathered up some of my favorite foodie bloggers and we're sharing chocolate cake recipes that are going to make you want to stick your fork into your monitor. Don't do it, though. Please. But, I know, it's tempting!!

The Chocolate Cake Walk

Double Chocolate Cake with Whiskey Ganache
I made this as a birthday cake last weekend for one of my best friends. No, he isn't turning 12, but when I looked at how many boxes of candles I needed for the full 45, I opted to buy another bottle of whiskey for the party instead.

The whiskey taste is pretty pronounced and the ganache includes uncooked whiskey, so I had another friend bring kid-friendly chocolate cupcakes for all our boys.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C organic dark brown sugar
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 C brewed coffee
  • 1/3 C whiskey
  • 2 C flour
  • 1-1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 C semisweet chocolate chunks

Ganache
  • 2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 2 C semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 3 T whiskey
  • 1/2 t salt
Procedure

Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a pan. I used a 9" square pan.

In large mixing bowl whisk together egg, sugars, sour cream, oil, and vanilla until well blended. Add in the cocoa powder, coffee, and whiskey. Whisk until all dry ingredients are moistened.

Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chunks. Mix until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Ganache
Place whipping cream in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until bubbles begin to form on the side of the pan. Add in the chocolate chunks and swirl to make sure they are covered with the warmed cream. Let stand for 3 minutes. Pour in the whiskey and whisk until smooth.

Cool in refrigerator until it thickens, at least 30 minutes. For this cake, I used 3/4 of the ganache and whipped it into a frosting to fill and frost the cake. I poured the remaining 1/4 of the ganache over the cake just before serving.


The birthday boy insisted that my husband break his sugar fast and have a piece of cake with him. Yep, Jake fell off the wagon, but was successful in avoiding added sugars for three weeks.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Kale Skillet Salad + 99 Other Maple Recipes To Try #FoodieReads #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Quirk Books
I received a complimentary book for the purpose of review, but all opinions are honest and they are my own.
Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

Back in October, I mentioned an inspiring cookbook that had me running to the store for maple syrup - Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup by Katie Webster.



Over the course of the past few months, I have cooked my way through several of Webster's creations...with slight modifications based on what I had in my kitchen. I was inspired to sweeten my chia pudding with maple as well as my hot cocoa. I put maple syrup in my pizza dough as well as my whiskey cocktails.

But the recipe that has cemented itself in my salad rotation is her Kale Skillet Salad...with Nuts and Maple. She wrote the recipe with walnuts and maple. I make it with whatever nuts - or seeds - I have in my kitchen at the given time. But the process is hers. This one I adapted to use pumpkin seeds! And, since Jake and I are off added sugar this month, we haven't made this since New Year's. I am counting the days till February when I can have this again.

Ingredients serves 4
  • 1 T + 1 t vinegar (she recommends malt vinegar, I love it with balsamic)
  • 2 T dark maple syrup, divided
  • 1 T mustard (I like coarse)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and sliced
  • 10 C destemmed and chopped kale
  • 1/4 C nuts or seeds (I used pumpkin seeds in this instance)

Procedure
Whisk together 1 t maple syrup, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a skillet and add shallots. Cook until softened, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Add in kale and vinegar mixture. Stir to coat and cook just until the kale has turned bright green and started to wilt. Remove from heat and season with ground pepper.

Sprinkle with seeds or nuts. Drizzle with remaining 1 T maple syrup. Serve immediately.

*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.



You may find Quirk Books...
on the web
on Twitter
on Instagram

*Disclosure: I received this book for free. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of author or publisher of this product.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Lamb Shanks Tagine with Root Vegetables


I haven't been good about posting recipes that use a tagine. I don't know why, but I've set a goal to remedy that...especially since I'm leading the kids in my Spices of the Souk class in making a chicken tagine with preserve lemons and olives on Friday. So, bear with me as I get all of these photos off of my computer and recipes written.


Tagine
A tajine or tagine is a Maghrebi dish named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. So, it refers to both the cooking vessel and the resulting food; it is also called a maraq/marqa in North Africa and the Middle East.

Mentions of the tagine date back to Harun al-Rashid who was a ruler of the Early Muslim conquests and it appears in the 9th century collection of stories One Thousand and One Nights. At the same time, it was noted during the Islamic reign of the Abbasid Empire that stretched from the Middle East/Asia to North Africa and Andalusia. 

The dish was used by nomadic Bedouin people of the Arabian Peninsula, who added dried fruits such as dates, apricots and plums to it. Tagine is traditionally cooked over hot charcoal with the shape of the lid acting as a self-basting tool. The circular base is flat with low sides and the cover is a large cone-shape that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is designed to collect all condensation and re-direct to back to the bottom. 

Lamb Shanks Tagine with Root Vegetables

Ingredients
  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 T sumac
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 1 T ground turmeric
  • 1 t + 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 t + 1 T ground coriander
  • 1 T fresh minced ginger
  • 1 t Aleppo pepper
  • olive oil as needed
  • 2 onions, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 4 potatoes, cubed
  • 4 to 5 carrots, sliced into thick coins 
  • 1 C diced tomatoes or 1 C tomato sauce
  • 2 C beef stock + more as needed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • pickles for serving (I used pickled cranberries and preserved lemons)


 Procedure
Sprinkle lamb shanks with 1 t ground cinnamon and 1 t ground coriander and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. In a small mixing bowl blend all of your spices - sumac, smoked paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, and Aleppo pepper. Add in enough olive oil to create a thick paste.


Add a splash of olive oil to the bottom of the tagine along with the garlic cloves. Brown the lamb shanks on all sides over medium-high heat. Stir in the spice paste and pour in the stock. Bring to a boil, place the cover on the tagine, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 90 minutes to 2 hours. The meat should be tender and cooked through.

Pour in the tomatoes and layer in the onions, potatoes, and carrots. Add in more stock, if there's less than an inch of liquid. Tuck the cinnamon sticks into the pot and bring liquid to a boil. Cover, again, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for another 30 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Check occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn't burn. Stir, as needed.


To serve, remove the lamb shanks from the pot. Gently mash the veggies. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with pickled cranberries and preserved lemons.

Za'atar-Encrusted Hamachi


Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture that I always have on hand. It's a breeze to make and adds something fabulous to olive oil for dipping and - I've just discovered - as a spice rub on any kind of meat or fish! While za’atar has a few key ingredients, you can add whatever you want. The proportions are up to you. 


Last week for my Spices of the Souk cooking class, I had the kids make their own versions of za'atar. D added in juniper berries and crushed bay leaves. And when we received our portion of hamachi from our CSF (community-supported fishery) Real Good Fish, he asked if we could make za'atar-encrusted hamachi. Sure thing!

Ingredients serves 4

  • 1 pound hamachi, skin on (I usually serve a 1/2 pound piece per person) 
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 t olive oil
  • za'atar spice (there's one version of za'atar in this post)

Procedure
Melt butter in olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Season fish generously with za'atar on both sides. Place the fish skin-side down for 4 to 5 minutes until crisped and golden brown. Gently flip fish and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes on the other side. Set fish aside to rest.


We served the za'atar-encrusted hamachi with crisped kale and a locally-made Cabernet Pfeffer that I'll be featuring in next month's #WinePW event when we highlight women in wine. Very excited about highlighting Nicole Walsh and her Santa Cruz-based Ser Winery! But I'll give you a sneak peak of this stunning wine that paired perfectly with this dish.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Peanut Butter Snowballs #PeanutButterDay


Today Christie of A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures rallied her foodie blogger friends to celebrate National Peanut Butter Day with her. And it just so happened that I had this peanut butter cookie that I made in December and never shared...because you know this month, Jake and I are not eating added sugars.

Funny story to tell as I've been adapting recipes to be without added sugar. Jake said, "You know those peanut butter cookies you made on New Year's Eve?" 

Yes. 

"Do you think you could make a version without sugar?" 

Are you talking about the ones that are rolled in sugar?!? 

"Oh, yeah. Nevermind. But can you can you make them in February?" 

Sure thing.

So, I'll be making these again soon. In the meantime, here's what everyone else is sharing. 

All the Peanut Buttery Yumminess

Peanut Butter Snowballs

Ingredients

  • 1 C butter, softened 
  • 2/3 C organic dark brown sugar 
  • 2/3 C peanut butter 
  • 2-1/2 Call-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 C powdered sugar + more if needed



Procedure
Beat softened butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add sugar, beating well. Stir in peanut butter until smooth and combined.

Gradually add flour to peanut butter mixture, beating until well-blended.

Roll dough into 60 (1-inch) balls, placing them 1-inch apart on parchment paper-lined or silicone mat-lined baking sheets.

Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar until completely covered.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Wilted Spinach #KitchenMatrixCookingProject


Today on week four of our year-long project that I'm calling the Kitchen Matrix Project, after Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix cookbook. You can read about it: here. I'm very excited about the dishes and the bloggers who are joining me.

This week, I picked 'Wilted Spinach + 3 Ways' for the group which means we could make wilted spinach with with skirt steak, with bacon, or with chicken...along with any variations or adaptations that we needed or wanted.




Ingredients
  • 2 bunches organic spinach, destemmed and rinsed
  • 5 thick slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 C sliced mushroom (I used crimini)

 Procedure

 Place bacon in a large skillet and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy.


Add in the thyme sprig and stir in the mushrooms. Cook until they are softened.


Remove the thyme and toss in the spinach. Cook in the rendered fat until just wilted. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

This was a hit! I can't wait to try Bittman's other variations on wilted spinach.

Pan-Seared Black Cod with Lime-Ginger Beurre Blanc


This was one of those dishes that I created to match a wine. Actually, I think I go that direction quite a lot. Instead of buying a wine to match a dish, I'm usually looking for flavors in a dish to match a wine I already have. 


In any case, I was matching a locally-made Chardonnay that I'll be featuring in next month's #WinePW event when we highlight women in wine. Very excited about highlighting Nicole Walsh and her Santa Cruz-based Ser Winery!

When What to Drink with What You Eat (read my post about that wonderful reference here) suggested ginger and fish, I decided to make a lime-ginger beurre blanc to serve with the fresh black cod I had just picked up at the market. 


Ingredients serves 4
Fish
  • 1 pound black cod, skin on (I usually serve a 1/2 pound piece per person) 
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 t olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Beurre Blanc
  • 1-1/2 C unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1⁄4 C dry white wine (I used some leftover Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1⁄4 C freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1⁄4 t salt

Procedure
Beurre Blanc
Bring wine and lime juice to a boil in a saucepan; add ginger and salt. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. 

Remove pan from heat; whisk 2 pieces of butter into the reduction. Place pan over low heat and continue whisking butter into the sauce - one chunk at a time. Allow each piece to melt and incorporate into sauce before adding more.

When all the butter is incorporated, remove sauce from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed. You can strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, if you wish. I left the minced ginger in mine. 

Fish
Melt butter in olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Season fish generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the fish skin-side down for 4 to 5 minutes until crisped and golden brown. Gently flip fish and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes on the other side. Set fish aside to rest.

To serve, place fish on a plate - crispy skin side up - and spoon beurre blanc along the side. Serve immediately.