Apricot Baklava

August 11th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 cup walnuts, chopped fine
1 cup apricots, chopped fine
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoon freshly grated cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups apricot syrup (recipe follows)
1 package whole-wheat Phyllo pastry (white can be substituted)
1 stick butter, unsalted and melted

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
In a mixing bowl, mix the filling mixture ingredients (walnuts, apricots, and sugar) until well combined and set aside. Butter a large baking sheet making sure to get the corners and sides as well. Unroll the phyllo dough and cover with a damp cloth to keep it from drying out. Place two sheets of dough on the pan and brush with melted butter thoroughly. Sprinkle a later of the nut mixture atop the sheets and repeat the layers creating a total of between 5-8 layers. With a sharp small knife, cut the pastry in diamond or square shapes carefully, making sure to get all the way to the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes or until golden brown. While the baklava is baking, make the syrup by combining apricots, sugar, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon and place on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes and add honey and vanilla and simmer another few minutes. Keep warm and spoon over baklava (when it first comes out of the oven), making sure the baklava is soaked fully.

Let baklava set for about 30 minutes before serving.

Apricot Syrup

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

½ cup apricot puree
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Combine apricot puree, sugar, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a medium sauce pan and place on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes and add honey and vanilla and simmer another few minutes.

Grilled Chicken Paillard with Nectarine Salsa and Peach BBQ Sauce

August 10th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 large chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
Salt/pepper
Peach BBQ Sauce (recipe follows)
2 nectarines, not fully ripe, firm, deseeded and chopped small
½ red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped small
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and chopped small
½ red onion, chopped small
1 serrano chili, deseeded and chopped fine
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Pound the chicken breasts in between two sheets of plastic or in a zip lock bag with a meat hammer until about ½ inch thick and consistently even. Cut into small triangle or similar shapes about 3-4 inches in circumference. Season with salt & pepper. Place them in a large flat baking dish and smother them with the peach BBQ sauce. Let stand for about 20 minutes. Preheat your grill or an oven to 325°F. In a medium bowl combine the nectarines, peppers, onions, chili and cilantro and mix together well. Squeeze the lime juice and season with salt and mix well. Let stand while the chicken cooks. Place chicken, letting all excess BBQ sauce drip off, on greased grill for a few minutes on each side or in the oven for about 5-10 minutes flipping once more. Serve the chicken paillards with the salsa spooned over the top.

Peach BBQ Sauce

Makes 2 cups of sauce

Ingredients

3 peaches, peeled and halved
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
¼-½ cup bourbon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Sprinkle peaches (open halves) with sugar and grill until soft. Combine all ingredients in a blender (or use a handheld food processor) and blend until relatively smooth but still has some coarseness. Brush the sauce on meats while they are cooking.

Basil Lime Sodas & Herbal Melon Ice Cubes

August 10th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 soda

Ingredients

Herbal melon ice cubes
Juice of 1 lime
2 ounces basil lime syrup
Soda water
Melon ball ice cubes

Directions

Squeeze the juice of 1 lime into a large glass filled with herbal melon ice cubes. Place 2 ounces of the basil lime syrup inside and fill with soda water and stir. Add more syrup for added sweetness. Garnish with a basil leaf.

Basil Lime Syrup

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon lime zest
Juice of 3 limes
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup fresh basil leaves

Directions

Combine the lime zest, lime juice, sugar, water and basil leaves in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about five minutes. Take off heat, cool and strain.

Herbal Melon Ice Cubes

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups melon of choice
½ cup basil lime syrup
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped fine

Directions

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour in cube trays and freeze.

Stone Fruit Herbal Sodas

August 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 soda

Ingredients

Ice
2 ounces herbal stone fruit syrup of choice
Soda water
Stone fruit garnish of choice

Directions

Pour two ounces of the stone fruit herbal syrup on a large glass filled with ice. Fill with soda water and stir. Add more syrup for added sweetness, stir and garnish with a piece of stone fruit or an herb leaf.

Tarragon Peach Syrup

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves only
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 ripe peach, pitted and chopped

Directions

Combine the tarragon, sugar, water and peaches in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about five minutes. Take off heat, cool and blend until smooth.

Rosemary Plum Syrup

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

3 tablespoons rosemary leaves
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
2 ripe plums, pitted and chopped

Directions

Combine the rosemary, sugar, water and plums in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about five minutes. Take off heat, cool and blend until smooth.

Nectarine Mint Syrup

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

½ cup mint
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 ripe nectarine, pitted and chopped

Directions

Combine the mint, sugar, water and nectarine in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about five minutes. Take off heat, cool and blend until smooth.

Nectarine Mint Syrup

August 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

½ cup mint
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 ripe nectarine, pitted and chopped

Directions

Combine the mint, sugar, water and nectarine in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about five minutes. Take off heat, cool and blend until smooth.

Rosemary Plum Syrup

August 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

3 tablespoons rosemary leaves
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
2 ripe plums, pitted and chopped

Directions

Combine the rosemary, sugar, water and plums in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about five minutes. Take off heat, cool and blend until smooth.

Tarragon Peach Syrup

August 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves only
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 ripe peach, pitted and chopped

Directions

Combine the tarragon, sugar, water and peaches in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about five minutes. Take off heat, cool and blend until smooth.

Herbal Lemony Iced Tea (Italian Style with Prosecco)

August 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 pitcher

Ingredients

1 cup basil leaves
1 cup parsley leaves
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
½ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 lemon sliced in rings
1 bottle prosecco

Directions

In a medium sauce pan add basil, parsley, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 8 minutes. Turn off heat cool and blend, strain. Add the lemon zest and juice and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Mix with a bottle or two of prosecco.

Lavender Lemonade

August 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes ½ Gallon

Ingredients

1 cup lavender lemon sugar syrup, recipe below (see note*)
1 cup lemon juice (10 to 12 big juicy lemons)
1 tablespoon fresh lavender flowers
5 cups water
2 cups sparkling water

Directions

In a one gallon pitcher combine lavender lemon sugar syrup, lemon juice, lavender flowers, water, and sparkling water, stir well. Serve over ice with lavender wand.

Lavender Sugar Syrup

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon zest
½ cup fresh lavender flowers or 2 tablespoons dried

Directions

In a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, add sugar, water, lemon zest and lavender flowers warm through until sugar is dissolved. Take syrup off heat and let cool until ready to use.

*Note: If not using sugar syrup, you can simply pour hot water over sugar and stir until dissolved.

Honey Lavender Fritters With Fig Compote

August 3rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes about 20 -25 fritters

Ingredients

1 pound fresh ricotta, drained
3 eggs, beaten
1 vanilla bean scraped, bean scrapings reserved
¼ cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons lavender flowers (fresh or dried)
Oil for frying
Lavender Powder *1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers crushed and mixed with ½ cup powdered sugar
Fig Compote (recipe follows)

Directions

In a large bowl whisk together the ricotta, eggs, vanilla seeds, sugar, baking powder and flour until combined. Mix in the lavender flowers and mix again until the batter is thick. Refrigerate the batter for one hour. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan or fry pan making sure that there is at least 2 inches of oil in the pan to a temperature of about 375 degrees. Once hot drop spoonfuls of the batter in the pan and fry until golden brown, making sure to flip for a total of about 3-4 minutes. Take out and drain on paper towels. Once slightly cool, sprinkle powered lavender sugar over the top. Serve with fig compote.

Fig Compote
Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

1 pound fresh black figs, ripe & sweet, de-stemmed & chopped
1 cup lavender syrup
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped fine

Directions

Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring often for about 1 hour. Remove from heat and discard the cinnamon stick. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Prosecco with Lovage Syrup

August 3rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Ingredients

½ cup lovage leaves and more for garnish
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Sparkling wine
Lemon peel

Directions

Place water, sugar and lovage leaves in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a few more minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Bottle and refrigerate.

*To assemble the sodas place 1-2 ounces of the lovage syrup in a champagne glass and fill with sparkling wine, garnish with a lovage leaf and a small lemon peel.

Watermelon Rind Pickles

August 2nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes a large batch of pickles

Ingredients

Seedless red watermelon rind with a touch of red flesh left on (entire watermelon)
1 cup salt
1 teaspoon alum powder (pickling preservative for crispness/totally optional)
1 quart cold water
3 cups white distilled vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
15 cloves
3 cups sugar

Directions

In a large mixing bowl combine the salt and cold water and mix or whisk until all the salt dissolves. Pour the mixture over the rinds in a large flat vat or container, making sure all rinds are covered. Cover the container with something to push the rinds down into the liquid and let stand for eight hours. Drain the pickled rinds and rinse and soak in a clean cold water bath. In the meantime in a large sauce pan bring the vinegar and spices to a boil. Add the clean rinsed rind and 1 cup of sugar and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When the mixture is cool add one more cup of sugar and place back on burner and bring to a boil. Remove again from heat add sugar and allow to cool. Place back on heat and add the final cup of sugar. Allow to cool.

*Recipe property of Polo Dobkins

Black Cherry Ice Cream

July 29th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream, whipped to thick consistency
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups ripe black cherries halved

Directions

Make sure the heavy cream is whipped to a thick consistency and mix in sugar and lemon juice and fold in cherries. Freeze by using an ice cream maker or by the hand method, beating after a few hours in the freezer and letting freeze again.

Almond, Black Cherry Chocolate Dipped Ice Cream Sandwich

July 29th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

032

Makes 6 sandwiches

Ingredients

12 Almond cookies
1 cup Black Cherry Ice Cream
9 ounces bitter sweet dark Chocolate

Directions

Place a scoop of ice cream on a almond cookie and place another cookie on top, squeeze down to make a sandwich. Place in freezer on a lined baking sheet for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, chop chocolate and place in a double boiler pan with simmering hot water underneath. Let melt, dip the frozen sandwich in the melted chocolate using a spoon to cover or alternatively cover just one side and place back in the freezer for another 10 minutes or until frozen.

Black Cherry Ice Cream
Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream, whipped to thick consistency
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups ripe black cherries halved

Directions

Make sure the heavy cream is whipped to a thick consistency and mix in sugar and lemon juice and fold in cherries. Freeze by using an ice cream maker or by the hand method, beating after a few hours in the freezer and letting freeze again.

Blackberry Lemon Thyme Sorbet

July 26th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Makes about 5 cups

Ingredients

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
½ cups fresh lemon thyme leaves
2 cups fresh blackberries
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
½ cup heavy cream

Directions

Make simple syrup in a medium saucepan by combining the sugar and water and lemon thyme. Bring to a boil until sugar dissolves, simmer for 5 minutes, take off burner, and allow to cool. Place in a blender with the blueberries, lemon zest and juice and heavy cream and blend just until the blueberries are crushed to desired consistency. Process in a ice cream maker according to instructions.

Local New York Blackberry Jam

July 11th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup sugar
3 fresh bay leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup red wine or water

Directions

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small sauce pan, continue to boil a few minutes, around 3-4 and then reduce heat to a simmer and let reduce by half until desired consistency, stirring often. Discard bay leaves. Cool and store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator.

Local New Jersey Strawberry Jam

July 11th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup rose wine or water

Directions

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small sauce pan, continue to boil a few minutes, around 3-4 and then reduce heat to a simmer and let reduce by half until desired consistency, stirring often. Cool and store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator.

Natural Cola

July 11th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes many colas

Ingredients

3-4 cloves
1 cup molasses
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
Seltzer water

Directions

In a sauce pan combine cloves and molasses and simmer for about eight minutes, take off heat and cool, discard cloves. At the same time combine the cinnamon sticks, water and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Take off heat and discard cinnamon sticks; cool. In a 10 ounce glass filled with ice place 4 ounces of molasses syrup and 2 ounces of cinnamon syrup, fill with seltzer and mix well!

Raspberry Buttermilk Gelato

July 7th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients

1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¾ turbinado or raw unprocessed sugar
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup raspberries, pureed

Directions

In a medium sauce pan combine the sugar and corn starch on medium heat and whisk in the buttermilk and the cream, whisking continuously until the gelato base begins to thicken and bubble. Take off heat and whisk int he pureed raspberries and cool mixture. Process in an ice cream maker using instructions.

Watermelon Lime & Mint Granita

July 7th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients

½ cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup fresh mint leaves
Juice and zest of 2 limes
2 cups watermelon

Directions

In a blender place all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into a low metal dish with sides and freeze. After the first hour, using a fork, scrape puree every 20-30 minutes while it freezes. This should create flaky crystals. Freeze and scrape until desired consistency. The process should take approximately 2-3 hours. The granita can be scraped at the very end as well but the consistency (flaky ice crystals) will be better if you follow the method of occasional scraping. Before serving, scrape well to get icy crystals.

Blueberry & Lemon Thyme Sorbet

July 7th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes about 5 cups

Ingredients

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
½ cups fresh lemon thyme leaves
2 cups fresh blueberries
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
½ cup heavy cream

Directions

Make simple syrup in a medium saucepan by combining the sugar and water and lemon thyme. Bring to a boil until sugar dissolves, simmer for 5 minutes, take off burner, allow cooling. Place in a blender with the blueberries, lemon zest and juice and heavy cream and blend just until the blueberries are crushed to desired consistency. Process in a ice cream maker according to instructions.

Tarragon Peach Ice Cream

July 7th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks, beaten
3 large ripe peaches pitted and peeled and pureed or mashed (¼ cup reserved for nectar)
1 cup tarragon peach nectar (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped

Directions

In a heavy saucepan on medium heat, heat the cream until just about to boil but do not let it boil. Whisk in egg yolks and continue to whisk while heating through and cook about 5 minutes on medium low heat, making sure the egg mixture does not boil. Remove it from the heat. Mix the nectar and peach puree in with the cream mixture until well mixed, set aside in refrigerator for about an hour. Add chopped fresh tarragon and follow ice cream maker instructions.

Tarragon Peach Nectar

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

½ cup sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup peach puree
3 sprigs of fresh tarragon

Directions

In a saucepan, place sugar, water, peach puree and fresh tarragon sprigs and bring to a boil until the sugar is all dissolved. Let simmer for 5 more minutes to steep, take off heat, set aside for 5 more minutes, discard tarragon sprigs, stir well and set nectar aside to cool.

Lavender Lemon Sugar Syrup

July 7th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon zest
½ cup fresh lavender flowers or 2 tablespoons dried

Directions

In a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, add sugar, water, lemon zest and lavender flowers warm through until sugar is dissolved. Take syrup off heat and let cool until ready to use.

*Note: If not using sugar syrup, you can simply pour hot water over sugar and stir until dissolved.

Tomato Macaroons with Lemon Olive Oil Savory Buttercream

July 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 dozen macaroons

For the outer shells…

1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup almonds, finely ground (grind in spice grinder or use almond flour)
3 egg whites (stored at room temperature for 6 hours prior)
Pinch of salt
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons tomato powder (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon dried basil

For the lemon olive oil cream

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 300°F. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper and take out some cookie cutters the size of the macaroons you wish to make as well as pastry piping bags and tips. Take the cookie cutters and trace a shape with a pen of the macaroons to make templates for size. In a mixing bowl combine almonds, tomato powder, dried basil and powdered sugar. (The ratio for the powder sugar and the almond meal or flour changes the consistency, the more almond meal the more grainy and dense the more powdered sugar the lighter the density, play and mix and match according to your tastes). In a stand mixer or kitchen aid with a whisk attachment, mix the egg whites on a medium low speed until foamy. Turn the speed up and add in the Take the bowl attachment off the kitchen aid or stand mixer and gently fold in the almond, and powdered sugar mixture, trying not to over mix, but mixing just enough to create a lava like flowing thick meringue-ish looking batter. The batter should be heavy enough so that peaks do not form but that the heaviness pushes the meringue down. To test your batter on a plate or counter by seeing if it indeed condenses down as opposed to holding its shape. If peaks are present, give it another few turns by hand until they go away. Place the mixture in a piping bag with a plain tip. Pipe out the patterns or templates you traced carefully. Let the macaroons sit for about 10-12 minutes so as the macaroons harden a little and then place them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool a few minutes and then place them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool a few minutes and then gently remove from parchment paper before they stick, allow to cool fully before filling.

For the lemon buttermilk cream

In a mixing bowl or mixer whip together softened butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest, olive oil and lemon juice. Mix until full incorporated, soft and creamy.

To assemble the macaroons spoon a small amount of the filling on one side (flat side) of one macaroon shell, making sure it is in the center. Place another macaroon shell on top (flat side to flat side).

Tomato Powder

Ingredients

1 can tomato paste

Directions

Preheat oven to 250°F. On a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray spread the past evenly and flat and thin all over the parchment paper. Place in the oven and bake for about 2½ hours. Peel it off the paper and flip over and place back in the oven for another 30 minutes to an hour until fully dry. Allow to cool completely. Pulverize in a spice grinder until powdery.

Blueberry Macaroons with Lemon Buttercream

July 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 dozen macaroons

Ingredients

For the outer shells…

1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup almonds, finely ground (grind in spice grinder or use almond flour)
3 egg whites (stored at room temperature for 6 hours prior)
Pinch of salt
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons condensed blueberry puree
1 tablespoon minced dried blueberries

For the lemon buttermilk cream

¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 300°F. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper and take out some cookie cutters the size of the macaroons you wish to make as well as pastry piping bags and tips. Take the cookie cutters and trace a shape with a pen of the macaroons to make templates for size. In a mixing bowl combine almonds, dried blueberries, and powdered sugar. (The ratio for the powder sugar and the almond meal or flour changes the consistency, the more almond meal the more grainy and dense the more powdered sugar the lighter the density, play and mix and match according to your tastes). In a stand mixer or kitchen aid with a whisk attachment, mix the egg whites on a medium low speed until foamy. Turn the speed up and add in the sugar slowly until egg whites have a glossy meringue texture and look. Be very careful NOT TO OVERBEAT. Slowly add the blueberry puree and let mix a few more rounds. Take the bowl attachment off the kitchen aid or stand mixer and gently fold in the almond, and powdered sugar mixture, trying not to over mix, but mixing just enough to create a lava like flowing thick meringue-ish looking batter. The batter should be heavy enough so that peaks do not form but that the heaviness pushes the meringue down. To test your batter on a plate or counter by seeing if it indeed condenses down as opposed to holding its shape. If peaks are present, give it another few turns by hand until they go away. Place the mixture in a piping bag with a plain tip. Pipe out the patters or templates you traced carefully. Let the macaroons sit for about 10-12 minutes so as the macaroons harden a little and then place them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool a few minutes and then gently remove from parchment paper before they stick, allow to cool fully before filling.

For the lemon buttermilk cream

In a mixing bowl or mixer whip together softened butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest, buttermilk and lemon juice. Mix until full incorporated, soft and creamy. To assemble the macaroons spoon a small amount of the filling on one side (flat side) of one macaroon shell, making sure it is in the center. Place another macaroon shell on top (flat side to flat side).

White Chocolate Lavender Peach Macaroons

July 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 dozen macaroons

Ingredients

For the outer shells…

1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup almonds, finely ground (grind in spice grinder or use almond flour)
3 egg whites (stored at room temperature for 6 hours prior)
Pinch of salt
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons white cocoa powder
2 tablespoons crushed dried lavender flowers

For the lavender peach cream

1 teaspoon lavender powder (dried lavender flowers crushed)
3 tablespoons fresh peach puree
½ cup sugar
1½ cups butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 300°F. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper and take out some cookie cutters the size of the macaroons you wish to make as well as pastry piping bags and tips. Take the cookie cutters and trace a shape with a pen of the macaroons to make templates for size. In a mixing bowl combine almonds, lavender powder, cocoa and powdered sugar. (The ratio for the powder sugar and the almond meal or flour changes the consistency, the more almond meal the more grainy and dense the more powdered sugar the lighter the density, play and mix and match according to your tastes). In a stand mixer or kitchen aid with a whisk attachment, mix the egg whites on a medium low speed until foamy. Turn the speed up and add in the sugar slowly until egg whites have a glossy meringue texture and look. Be very careful NOT TO OVERBEAT. Take the bowl attachment off the kitchen aid or stand mixer and gently fold in the almond, cocoa, lavender and powdered sugar mixture, trying not to over mix, but mixing just enough to create a lava like flowing thick meringue-ish looking batter. The batter should be heavy enough so that peaks do not form but that the heaviness pushes the meringue down. To test your batter on a plate or counter by seeing if it indeed condenses down as opposed to holding its shape. If peaks are present, give it another few turns by hand until they go away. Place the mixture in a piping bag with a plain tip. Pipe out the patters or templates you traced carefully. Let the macaroons sit for about 10-12 minutes so as the macaroons harden a little and then place them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool a few minutes and then gently remove from parchment paper before they stick, allow to cool fully before filling.

For the lavender peach cream

In a mixing bowl or mixer whip together softened butter, powdered sugar, lavender powder and peach puree. Mix until full incorporated, soft and creamy.

To assemble the macaroons spoon a small amount of the filling on one side (flat side) of one macaroon shell, making sure it is in the center. Place another macaroon shell on top (flat side to flat side).

Strawberry Basil Cream Macaroons with Sugar Fried Basil Leaves

July 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 dozen macaroons

Ingredients

For the outer shells…

¾ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup almonds, finely ground (grind in spice grinder or use almond flour)
3 egg whites (stored at room temperature for 6 hours prior)
Pinch of salt
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons condensed strawberry puree

For the basil cream

1 cup basil leaves
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1½ cups butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 300°F. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper and take out some cookie cutters the size of the macaroons you wish to make as well as pastry piping bags and tips. Take the cookie cutters and trace a shape with a pen of the macaroons to make templates for size. In a mixing bowl combine almonds and powdered sugar. (The ratio for the powder sugar and the almond meal or flour changes the consistency, the more almond meal the more grainy and dense the more powdered sugar the lighter the density, play and mix and match according to your tastes). In a stand mixer or kitchen aid with a whisk attachment, mix the egg whites on a medium low speed until foamy. Turn the speed up and add in the sugar slowly until egg whites have a glossy meringue texture and look. Be very careful NOT TO OVERBEAT. Pour the strawberry puree in the mixer for 2-3 quick turns or until the puree is mixed in some. Take the bowl attachment off the kitchen aid or stand mixer and gently fold in the almond and powdered sugar mixture, trying not to over mix, but mixing just enough to create a lava like flowing thick meringue-ish looking batter. The batter should be heavy enough so that peaks do not form but that the heaviness pushes the meringue down. To test your batter on a plate or counter by seeing if it indeed condenses down as opposed to holding its shape. If peaks are present, give it another few turns by hand until they go away. Place the mixture in a piping bag with a plain tip. Pipe out the patters or templates you traced carefully. Let the macaroons sit for about 10-12 minutes so as the macaroons harden a little and then place them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool a few minutes and then gently remove from parchment paper before they stick, allow to cool fully before filling.

For the basil butter cream

In a medium sauce pan combine basil leaves, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to let cook on low for about 4 more minutes. Take off heat, cool and blend. Strain the mixture and discard the basil leaves. Place the mixture back on the burner and bring to a boil and cook until reduce to half and is very thick, stirring constantly for about approximately 4 minutes. Cool. In a mixing bowl or mixer whip together softened butter, powdered sugar, and basil syrup. Mix until full incorporated, soft and creamy.

For sugar fried basil leaves

In a little bit of almond oil in a small frying pan on high heat, fry basil leaves a few at a time until crisp but still green. Take of heat and place on paper towels, sprinkle with sugar while warm on both sides.

To assemble the macaroons spoon a small amount of the filling on one side (flat side) of one macaroon shell, making sure it is in the center. Place a sugar fried basil leaf on top of the filling and then place another macaroon shell on top (flat side to flat side).

Herbal Lemony Iced Tea (Italian Style with Prosecco)

July 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 pitcher

Ingredients

1 cup basil leaves
1 cup parsley leaves
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
½ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 lemon sliced in rings
1 bottle prosecco

Directions

In a medium sauce pan add basil, parsley, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 8 minutes. Turn off heat, cool and blend, strain. Add the lemon zest and juice and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Mix with a bottle or two of prosecco.

Berries and Sugar Crepes

June 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 cup whole-wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup turbinado sugar (white sugar is okay as well)
Raspberries
Blueberries
Blackberries
Strawberries
Creme fresh
Sugar, coarse or regular
Powdered sugar

Directions

In a large bowl toss together whatever berries desired and sprinkle with sugar and let stand. Whisk together melted butter, milk, flour, salt and eggs until smooth and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until cold! Heat a large crepe pan or non stick skillet to medium high heat and brush with a combination of butter and oil until greased lightly. Pour a little batter (about ¼ to ½ cup) into the pan and cook, flipping once when the bottom side is cooked brown. There will be some small bubbles as when cooking a pancake. The process should take a few minutes total for each crepe and varies with the heat of the pan. Place a spoon full of creme fresh on the crepe and spread into a thin layer. Spoon the berries onto the crepe and fold the sides together to form a crepe or roll. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Tarragon Apricot Bubbly & Blueberry Tarragon Bubbly

June 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes several bubbly drinks

Ingredients

½ cup fresh blueberries (smashed) or fresh apricots (chopped)
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
½ cup raw or unprocessed sugar
½ cup water
Cava, champagne or prosecco
Blueberries for garnish

Directions

In a medium saucepan combine the apricots or blueberries, tarragon, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Take off heat and let stand for about 3-4 minutes. Strain and set in the refrigerator to cool. In a champagne class, pour 1-2 ounces of the herbal fruit syrup and fill with bubbly.

Red Basil White Stone Fruit Sangria

June 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6-9

Ingredients

1 cup red basil peach syrup (recipe follows)
2 bottles white wine, sauvignon blanc or chenin blanc or white table wine
1 cup Cointreau
1 peach, sliced
1 apricot, sliced
1 plum, sliced
1 nectarine, sliced
¼ cup raspberries
2 cups soda water

Directions

Combine the red basil peach syrup, wine, and cointreau in a large pitcher and stir well. Add the fruit and let stand unrefrigerated for about 1-2 hours. Add soda water just before serving and serve either tepid or over ice, but do not refrigerate.

Red Basil Peach Syrup

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

½ cup red basil leaves
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 ripe peach, chopped

Directions

Combine the basil, sugar, water and peaches in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about five minutes. Take off heat, cool and blend until smooth.

Red Basil Peach Syrup

June 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

½ cup red basil leaves
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 ripe peach, chopped

Directions

Combine the basil, sugar, water and peaches in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about five minutes. Take off heat, cool and blend until smooth.

Watermelon Mint Lime Cubes

June 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6

Ingredients

Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 2 limes
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped fine
½ cup raw sugar or regular sugar
2 cups watermelon cubed into ½ inch cubes

Directions

In a mixing bowl combine the lime zest, mint, lime juice, and sugar and whisk until all sugar is incorporated. Place the watermelon cubes in a large bowl and pour the juice and zest mixture over the cubes. Toss together and place in a zip lock freezer bag and freeze for about 2-3 hours. Pop into your mouth and enjoy!

Calzone Dough

June 12th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

A calzone is simply an Italian savory turnover of sorts that is made by folding pizza dough in half and forming a “pizza pocket”. The pizza pocket is then filled with sauces and/or vegetables combined to create the flavor and textures of your choice.

Ingredients

1½ packets active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
Olive oil
Dried herbs (optional)

Directions

In a large bowl, gently mix the warm water, yeast and honey until frothy and creamy, normally about 1-2 minutes. Let stand for 1 minute so the yeast can activate. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt and any optional dried herbs such as oregano or basil. Mix well. Slowly combine the yeast mixture with the flour mixture mixing well until a soft dough forms. Turn the flour on a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is very smooth and elastic adding more flour as needed. Knead for about 8-10 minutes. In a lightly oiled bowl, preferably ceramic or stainless steel, place dough covered with greased plastic wrap. Place bowl in warm, draft free location for about 1-2 hours or until the dough doubles in size. Flatten the dough to desired size shape and thickness – thin, thick or regular.

Basic Pizza Dough

June 12th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Ingredients

1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
Olive oil
Dried herbs (optional)

Directions

In a large bowl gently mix the warm water, yeast and honey until frothy and creamy for about 1-2 minutes. Let stand for 1 minute for activation of the yeast. In a separate large mixing bowl combine the flour and salt and any optional dried herbs: oregano, basil etc. Mix well. Slowly combine the yeast mixture to the flour mixture mixing well until a soft dough forms. Turn the flour on a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic adding more flour as needed. Knead for about 8-10 minutes. In a lightly oiled bowl, preferably ceramic or stainless steel, place dough covered with greased plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm, draft free location for about 1-2 hours or until the dough doubles in size. Flatten the dough to desired size shape and thickness – thin, thick or regular.

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients

9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ cups packed light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 firm-ripe bananas, peeled and cut crosswise into ¾-inch thick slices
¼ cup banana liqueur
½ cup dark rum
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt
6 cups (½-inch cubes) day-old French bread
Vanilla ice cream
Caramel Sauce, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 10 by 14-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside. Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 cup of the brown sugar and the cinnamon and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the bananas and cook on both sides, turning, until the bananas start to soften and brown, about 3 minutes. Add the banana liqueur and stir to blend. Carefully add the rum and shake the pan back and forth to warm the rum and flame the pan. (Or, off the heat, carefully ignite the rum with a match and return to the heat.) Shake the pan back and forth, basting the bananas, until the flame dies. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Whisk together the eggs, remaining ½ cup brown sugar, the cream, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the cooled banana mixture and bread and stir to blend thoroughly. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake until firm, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. To serve, scoop the pudding onto dessert plates. Top each serving with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzle with caramel sauce, and serve immediately.

Caramel Sauce

Makes ¾ cup

Ingredients

¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons to ¼ cup whole milk

Directions

Combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium heavy saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Let boil without stirring until the mixture becomes a deep amber color, 2 to 3 minutes, watching closely so it doesn’t burn. Carefully add the cram (it may splatter), whisk to combine, and remove from the heat. Add the milk, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature before serving. (The sauce will thicken as it cools.)

Recipe Courtesy of Emeril’s Delmonico, by Emeril Lagasse

Caramel Sauce

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes ¾ cup

Ingredients

¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons to ¼ cup whole milk

Directions

Combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium heavy saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Let boil without stirring until the mixture becomes a deep amber color, 2 to 3 minutes, watching closely so it doesn’t burn. Carefully add the cram (it may splatter), whisk to combine, and remove from the heat. Add the milk, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature before serving. (The sauce will thicken as it cools.)

Recipe Courtesy of Emeril’s Delmonico, by Emeril Lagasse

Beignets

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes about 30

Ingredients

1 package dry yeast
4 tablespoons warm water
3½ cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup sugar
1¼ cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
¼ cups melted butter
Oil for deep frying
Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions

Combine yeast and warm water, set aside. Whisk flour, salt and sugar. Stir in yeast mix, milk, eggs and butter. Mix until dough is formed. Cover with a dish towel and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. Heat vegetable oil to 350. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead once or twice and roll out to 38 to ½ inch thick. Cut dough into 3″ squares and place on a lightly floured pan. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Deep-fry beignets, two or three at a time, about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and puffed. Remove from oil, drain and dust generously with powdered sugar.

Recipe from the Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine, by Chef John Folse

Brandy Milk Punch

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 pitcher

Ingredients

1 cup brandy
1 cup dark rum
13 cup white créme de cacao
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups whole milk

Directions

Place all ingredients in a large pitcher and put into tall glasses over ice!

Recipe by Paul Clarke, seriouseats.com (adapted)

Guava Jam

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Ingredients

2 cups guavas, chopped fine (skins, seeds and all) (about 10 guavas)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 pinch of salt

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan on low heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until all ingredients are cooked down. Turn up heat to medium and boil for another 10 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or flour sifter making sure the seeds are caught, push as much as you can through the mesh. Place the mixture in a metal bowl and place in the refrigerator to solidity; Guavas natural pectin will create a more dense and thick jam.

Empanadas de Guayaba (Guava Pie Pockets)

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 15-20 empanadas

Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into pieces
2 egg yolks
¾ cup water (ice cold)
Guava Jam (recipe follows)
Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly with crumbles about the size of peas. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and water. Add the liquid a little bit at a time to the flour-butter mixture; mix it up with your hands or a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms, a few more tablespoons of ice cold water may be needed. Form the dough into a flat disc shape about the size of a small salad plate. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Divide the dough in two and on a lightly floured surface roll out each piece of dough to a rectangular shape. Cut the dough in about 8-10 three inch squares. Place a tablespoon of the jam on the center of each square. Fold over the dough around the filling, and moisten borders with wet finger tips. Roll the edges of the border from one side of the empanada to the other in a crescent, making sure just to roll the very outer edge of the border. Place each empanada on a greased baking sheet. Poke one or two holes, using the tip of a knife, in each empanada to aerate them. Bake empanadas for about 15 minutes, take out of the oven, and brush with a little butter. Bake again for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat, allow to cool a few minutes and dust with powdered sugar.

Guava Jam

Ingredients

2 cups guavas, chopped fine (skins, seeds and all) (about 10 guavas)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 pinch of salt

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan on low heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until all ingredients are cooked down. Turn up heat to medium and boil for another 10 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or flour sifter making sure the seeds are caught, push as much as you can through the mesh. Place the mixture in a metal bowl and place in the refrigerator to solidity; Guavas natural pectin will create a more dense and thick jam.

Semita de Piña (Pineapple Tart)

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes about 12 tarts

Semita is the most popular pastry in El Salvador and its basically a bread dough filled with jam. The most popular filling is pineapple utilizing El Salvador’s sweet pineapples!

Ingredients

1 cup milk
½ cup butter, unsalted
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
13 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
5 cup all purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups pineapple preserves (recipe follows)
(egg and water for glaze)
Turbinado sugar for dusting

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a saucepan heat the butter, sugar and milk until all the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and cool to a lukewarm temperature. In a small bowl whisk together water and yeast and set aside for about 3-4 minutes until yeast is frothy. In a large bowl combine the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Mix together the milk mixture and the yeast mixture and slowly add to the flour bowl mixing as you add forming a bread dough. Once a bread dough is formed and all the ingredients are mixed well, transfer to a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a lightly oiled metal or ceramic bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot for about 1½ hours or until doubled in size. Punch the dough down and divide into two sections and place again on a lightly floured surface and roll out the dough into a rectangle sheet the size of a baking sheet. Place the dough on a lightly greased baking sheet (save the trimmings of dough if you have). Spread the pineapple preserves all over the dough evenly leaving a border around the edges for sealing the top layer. Roll out the second section of dough and place over the top of the jam. Making sure to seal the edges (by pressing together tightly). Roll out the strips of dough into long strips and make criss-cross pattern over the tart. Take some beaten egg and water and brush the tops of the tart and sprinkle with the turbanado sugar. Poke many holes in the tart to prevent it from puffing ad let the tart rest for about 30 minutes before placing in the oven to bake. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the dough (on the side) comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let stand about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Pineapple Preserves

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup pineapple, chopped small to fine
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 vanilla bean, cut and scraped (scraped parts reserved)
½ teaspoon cinnamon, freshly grated
½ teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan on low heat and cook slowly stirring often for about 20 minutes.

Pasteles de Tres Leches con Mango (Three Milk & Mango Cake)

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6-9

Ingredients

1½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly grated
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
½ cup butter, soft
1 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 vanilla bean, cut and scraped (insides reserved)
2 cups mango, ripe and chopped small
½ cup vanilla brown sugar syrup (¼ cup water, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 vanilla bean scraped and cut)
1 can (15 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-12 four ounce ramekins. In a medium mixing bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, set aside. In another larger bowl cream together the butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy. Mix in the scraped parts of the vanilla bean and mix until incorporated well. Slowly combine and mix the dry mix into the wet mix a little at a time until all is incorporated and a creamy batter is created. Pour the batter evenly between the ramekins. Bake the ramekins for about 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool. In a mixing bowl combine the mango, the brown sugar syrup, the coconut milk, the condensed milk and mix well. Carefully take the cake out of the ramekins and place down on a large baking tray or Pyrex baking dish with raised sides. Make sure the little cakes do not touch each other. Poke holes in the cakes using a wooden skewer (about 10 holes per cake), making sure the hole goes to the bottom. Pour your mango batter over the cakes and place in the refrigerator to soak up the sauce for about an hour.

Flan de Leche (Caramel Custard)

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
4 eggs, beaten
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of whole milk
1 fresh vanilla bean, cut open and scraped out
½ cup sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 6-8 ramekins.

In a medium saucepan combine the sugar and water and bring to a moderately high heat until all sugar dissolves. Continuing to boil the sugar without stirring, allowing it to begin to turn a light honey brown, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and place a spoonful or more of sugar on the bottom of each greased ramekin, swirling it and coating the bottom of the ramekin. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet with a rimmed edge. In the meantime in a large bowl combine the eggs, condensed milk, scraped vanilla and the sugar and mix until smooth. Pour the batter evenly between the ramekins. Pour a bit of water in the pan that the ramekins are placed in. Place in the pre heated oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Chill the flans well before removing from the ramekins. Run a knife around the edges and loosen the sides and invert onto a serving plate. Garnish with more caramel or fresh fruit.

Batido de Banana y Fresa (Strawberry Banana Shake)

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 3-4 milkshakes

Basically a milkshake, although a much looser version, often served over more ice cubes to keep very cold and fresh. Batidos showcase the fruits often associated with Central America and their rich and sweet flavors that are the very essence of their desserts.

Ingredients

1 cup fresh strawberries, de-stemmed and chopped
1 banana, ripe and cut into chunks
2 cups milk
1 cup ice
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 pinch of salt

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. The Central American versions of milkshakes are often much looser than other milkshakes and often served over more ice.

Raspados de Frutas Tropical (Tropical Fruit Snow Cones)

June 12th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes quite a few snow cones

Most of us don’t have ice scrapers in our kitchen for snow cones so this raspado recipe is modified to utilize the tools we all typically have in our kitchen while still being able to enjoy the authentic taste of a snow cone!

Ingredients

For a mango raspado

2 mangoes, ripe, peeled, deseeded and cubed
1 cup water
½ cup sugar or honey
Juice of 2 limes
Zest of one lime

For a pineapple raspado

3 cups fresh pineapple
1 cup water
½ cup sugar or honey

For a coconut lime raspado

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup shaved raw coconut
1 cup water
Juice of 2 limes
Zest of 2 limes
½ cup sugar

Directions

In a blender blend up all ingredients until smooth. Pour into a low metal dish with sides and place in the freezer to freeze, scraping with a fork every few minutes in order to get a ice consistency. Once frozen serve by scraping up with a fork and placing in a bowl.

Arroz con Coco

May 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 cups long white rice
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine all the ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling cover and reduce to a low temperature. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes and then remove from heat and leave covered and let stand about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Orange Sherbet

May 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

orange sherbert

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

1 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups whole milk

Directions

In a blender blend up all ingredients until smooth. Process in an ice cream maker using the manufacturer’s directions.

Frozen Beet Orange Sherbet Sandwiches

May 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 6 sandwiches

Ingredients

2 medium red beets, trimmed peeled and sliced
1 navel orange
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves
Orange sherbet (recipe follows)

Directions

In a medium saucepan placed sliced beets, juice and zest of the orange, sugar and tarragon and heat to a low boil stirring gently. Cook beets for about 3-5 minutes until tender but still firm. Take off heat and strain. Place beet slices on a lined baking sheet and freeze. Place a few spoons of the orange sherbet on the beet sliced and gently push down forming an ice cream sandwich shape, cover with the reaming frozen beet slices and refreeze. Make sure to thaw a few minutes prior to serving.

Orange Sherbet

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

1 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups whole milk

Directions

In a blender blend up all ingredients until smooth. Process in an ice cream maker using the manufacturer’s directions.

Basil Ice Cream

May 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
½ cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
Salt

Directions

In a medium sauce pan combine milk, sugar and basil leaves and bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes allowing basil to infuse, take off heat and allow to cool. Transfer mixture to a blender and blend until very smooth in texture. Transfer back to the saucepan and heat to medium again, whisk in egg yolks making sure that the mixture stays smooth and creamy and that it does not boil. Take off heat add a pinch of salt and whisk in heavy cream until combined. Chill the mixture for a few hours in the refrigerator and then follow the instructions for your ice cream maker.

Garden Tomato, Bacon and Basil Ice Cream Sandwiches

May 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 6 sandwiches

Ingredients

2 tomatoes on the vine, sliced about ¼ inch thick
Basil ice cream (recipe follows)
6 bacon slices, cooked

Directions

On a baking sheet lines with parchment paper, freeze the tomato slices. Place a spoonful or two of the basil ice cream on top of a tomato slice and smash down gently until it covers the bottom tomato. Place a slice of bacon over the ice cream and cover with another frozen tomato slice, gently and push down. Freeze again for a short time and allow to thaw a few minutes before serving. (omitting the bacon is a great way to enjoy these sandwiches too).

Basil Ice Cream

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
½ cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
Salt

Directions

In a medium sauce pan combine milk, sugar and basil leaves and bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes allowing basil to infuse, take off heat and allow to cool. Transfer mixture to a blender and blend until very smooth in texture. Transfer back to the saucepan and heat to medium again, whisk in egg yolks making sure that the mixture stays smooth and creamy and that it does not boil. Take off heat add a pinch of salt and whisk in heavy cream until combined. Chill the mixture for a few hours in the refrigerator and then follow the instructions for your ice cream maker.

Ginger Cream Cheese Ice Cream

May 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

1 cup cream cheese
1½ cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
½ cup heavy cream

Directions

In a blender, blend cream cheese, whole milk, sugar, orange juice and zest, nutmeg and salt until very smooth in texture. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and whisk in heavy cream until combined. Chill the mixture for a few hours in the refrigerator and then follow the instructions for your ice cream maker.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart with Blood Orange Thyme Glaze

May 25th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 6 tartlets

Ingredients

Sweet Pie Dough-6 tartlet shells baked
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and kept whole
1 cup rhubarb, sliced
2 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 tablespoons blood orange zest
13 cup sugar
½ cup blood orange juice
1 cup créme fresh
½ cup honey

Directions

In a medium saucepan combine rhubarb, sugar, blood orange juice, 1 tablespoon thyme leaves and 1 tablespoon zest. Cook on medium until all sugar is dissolved and the rhubarb is soft but not mushy, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the ¼ cup honey and créme fresh with 1 teaspoon blood orange zest until creamy. In a small saucepan place ¼ cup honey, ½ cup blood orange juice, 1 tablespoon thyme leaves and 1 teaspoon of blood orange zest and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer stirring until mixture is thick like a glaze. Place a few tablespoons of the honey créme fresh in the bottom of each tartlet and cover with a little of the rhubarb mixture. Place strawberries cut side down (pointed side up) so that no shell is visible. Brush the tops with the blood orange thyme glaze and chill for at least one hour before serving!

Greek Style Baklava

May 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

For the filling

1 cup walnuts, chopped fine
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoon freshly grated cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla

For the pastry

1 package phyllo pastry
1 stick butter, unsalted and melted

For the syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, mix the filling mixture ingredients until well combined and set aside. Butter a large baking sheet making sure to get the corners and sides as well. Unroll the phyllo dough and cover with a damp cloth to keep it from drying out. Place two sheets of dough on the pan and brush with melted butter thoroughly. Sprinkle a layer of the nut mixture atop the sheets and repeat the layers creating a total of between 5-8 layers. With a sharp small knife, cut the pastry in diamond or square shapes carefully, making sure to get all the way to the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes or until golden brown. While the baklava is baking, make the syrup by combining sugar, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon and place on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes and add honey and vanilla and simmer another few minutes. Keep warm and spoon oven baklava (when it first comes out of the oven), making sure the baklava is soaked fully.
Let baklava set for about 30 minutes before serving.

Santorini Dried Tomatoes

May 24th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Makes 1 pound of dried tomatoes

Ingredients

Olive oil
1 pound Santorini tomatoes (or very good quality cherry tomatoes), sliced in half
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 170°F. On a greased or lined baking sheet, place the cherry tomatoes flesh side up very close to each other. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Drizzle with olive oil and place in oven for about 8 hours. Overnight works well. Make sure that the tomatoes do not dry completely but are able to stay moist and have plenty of oil. After cooling, the tomatoes can be placed in a jar with more olive oil and will keep for a few weeks.

Herbal Ouzo Lemonade

May 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes one pitcher of lemonade

Ingredients

½ cup fresh tarragon leaves, 1 tablespoon reserved
½ cup fresh mint leaves, 1 tablespoon reserved
½ cup fresh thai basil leaves, 1 tablespoon reserved
13 cup water
13 cup sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup simple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1½ cups ouzo
Ice

Directions

In a medium sauce pan place the fresh herbs (leave the reserved herbs aside), water and sugar, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool and blend in a blender. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and reserve syrup for later. In the mean time, in a blender, place 1 cup syrup, 1½ cups ouzo, 1 cup lemon juice, one tablespoon lemon zest, and 3 tablespoons of the reserved herbs and fill with ice. Blend until smooth and slushy. Place in a glass and drizzle the herbal syrup over the top, garnish with a fresh herb leaf of choice!

Minted Iced Cocoa

May 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 4 iced cocoas

Ingredients

4 cups skim milk
½ cup fresh mint leaves
¼ cup sugar
4 ounces dark chocolate

Directions

In a medium sauce pan combine the milk, mint leaves and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Remove mint leaves and add dark chocolate, whisking continuously until all the chocolate is melted. Take off heat and cool. Serve over ice, garnished with a mint leaf.

Strawberry Basil Fizzy

May 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 pitcher

Ingredients

½ cup fresh strawberries, chopped fine
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
½ cup sugar, chopped fine
½ cup water
Zest of 1 lime or lemon
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
2 cups ice
Seltzer water

Directions

In a small saucepan combine strawberries, basil sugar and water and bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Let cool. Place in a blender and blend until smooth. Place puree into a pitcher and add zest and juice of lime or lemon, 2 cups of ice and fill with seltzer water. Mix well and serve garnished with a strawberry or lime or lemon wedge.

Strawberry Quinoa Cookies

May 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1 cup black quinoa
¼ cup rolled oats
1 cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flax seeds
¼ cup almonds, chopped fine
1/3 cup almond oil
½ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup almond milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped fine

Directions

Preheat oven to 375° F. In a blender blend the quinoa and the oats until a gritty powder is formed. In a mixing bowl combine, ground quinoa, oats, flour, baking powder, soda, salt, flax seeds and almonds, mix well and set aside. In another mixing bowl whisk together the almond oil, sugars, vanilla, almond milk and egg until well mixed. Slowly add the dry mix to the wet mixing well as you combine mixtures. A thick oatmeal cookie type batter should form. Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest to harden and solidify for about 3-4 minutes before eating.

Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup

May 10th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Ingredients

¼ cup fresh strawberries, mashed
¼ cup fresh rhubarb, chopped
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a medium heavy bottom saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Blend and cool until ready to use.

Vanilla-Saffron Rice Pudding & Rhubarb Compote with Orange Zest Ginger Butter

May 7th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
2 teaspoon orange zest
1 cardamom pod (seeds only)
1 cup jasmine rice
½ cup sugar
2 cups milk
Vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
Rhubarb Compote (Recipe Follows)
Orange Zest Ginger Butter (Recipe Follows)

Directions

In a medium sauce pan, heat the butter on medium heat and sauté the saffron, ginger, zest and cardamom for a few minutes. Add rice and vanilla scraped from bean, and sauté for another few minutes. Add the sugar and milk and turn the heat down to simmer and keep it simmering uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring every 4-5 minutes. Cook the rice pudding until it is of a thick porridge consistency. Serve the rice pudding with rhubarb compote and the orange zest-ginger butter.

Spicy Rhubarb Compote

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

¾ cup rhubarb, sliced thin
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped fine
1 teaspoon orange zest
¼ cup orange juice

Directions

In a medium sauce pan combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmering boil and allow rhubarb to cook down until soft and syrupy, or about 10 minutes.

Orange Zest-Ginger Butter

Makes ½ cup butter

Ingredients

13 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Directions

In a small mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients and mix well until a smooth butter paste is formed, making sure all the ingredients are well incorporated. Place the mixed butter on a small sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll into a tight log. Place in refrigerator to solidify.

Horracha de Arroz con Mango (Mango Rice Milk)

May 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 12 drinks

Ingredients

2 cups rice
6 cups water
1 cup mango puree
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated cinnamon
1 fresh vanilla bean

Directions

Soak the rice overnight in the six cups of water. In batches in a blender blend the rice and water mixture until smooth about 2-3 minutes. With a fine mesh strainer, strain the mixture into a large pitcher. Repeat process until all rice mixture is blended and strained. To the pitcher of strained rice milk add the mango puree, sugar, freshly grated cinnamon and the seeds of the inside of the vanilla bean. Mix well and serve over ice.

Cinnamon Basil Syrup

May 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 cup syrup

Ingredients

½ cup to 2 cups sugar
½ cup to 2 cups water
½ cup fresh cinnamon basil leaves

Directions

Place water, sugar and cinnamon basil leaves in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for a few more minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool. Strain out basil leaves. Bottle and refrigerate.

Lemon-Mint Brown Sugar

May 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated
1 tablespoon mint, chopped superfine
¾ cup light brown sugar, fine

Directions

Mix the ingredients together and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week!

Mint Ice Cream with Fresh Orange-Beet Swirls

April 28th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 5 cups

INGREDIENTS

2 cups 2% milk
2 cups half and half
1 cup sugar
2 cups fresh mint, chopped
10 egg yolks
1 medium red beet, cooked and peeled and cubed
½ cup orange juice
½ cup sugar

DIRECTIONS

In a heavy bottomed saucepan bring the milk, half and half, sugar and mint to a boil and reduce heat immediately, and simmer for about 10 minutes stirring gently, allowing mint to steep into liquid. Discard mint. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg yolk well. Ladle a big spoon full of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking well, to avoid the eggs from cooking. Add the remainder of the egg mixture into the milk on the stove and the heat gently whisking constantly until a thick custard forms or until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon well; about 5-6 minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight to get very cold. Place in the freezer 10 minutes before making the ice cream. Process the ice cream in an ice cream maker, following instructions of the machine.

Thaw the ice cream so it is just starting to get soft. Place the beet, sugar and the orange juice in a medium saucepan and heat until the sugar is melted. Blend in a blender until a smooth sauce. Drizzle the mixture into the soft ice cream using a spoon and swirling it, being careful not to mix the ice cream too much. Freeze.

Strawberry-Lemon Thyme Rhubarb Tartlets with Honey Creme Fresh

April 28th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 6 tartlets.

INGREDIENTS

Sweet Pie Dough (1 recipe for one large tart) (add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme)
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 cup rhubarb, sliced
¼ cup fresh lemon thyme leaves
13 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup créme fresh
¼ cup honey

DIRECTIONS

Pre heat oven to 375°F. Place the pie dough into 6 little tart shells, making sure it is smooth and even out the dough in each tarlet tin. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until tart crust is golden brown and crisp. In a medium sauce pan combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, lemon thyme and zest. Cook on medium until all sugar is dissolved and the strawberries and rhubarb is soft but not mushy, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Place a few tablespoons of the honey créme fresh in the bottom of each tartlet and cover with a pile of the strawberry rhubarb mixture (about 13 cup). Chill slightly and serve.

Herbal Simple Syrup

April 27th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup sugar (any type of sugar will work)
1 cup water
1 cup fresh herbs leaves & stems

Directions

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for approximately 5-10 minutes depending on how potent you wish the syrup to be.

Ramptini

April 26th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes one cocktail

INGREDIENTS

2 ounces gin
1 ounce dry vermouth
½ ounce pickled ramp juice
Ice
Pickled ramps (recipe follows)

DIRECTIONS

Shaken: In a shaker combine the gin, vermouth, and ramp juice and ice, shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with pickled ramp.

Stirred: In a large glass filled with ice, combine the gin, vermouth, and ramp juice stir gently. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with pickled ramps.

Pickled Ramps

Makes 1 pound of pickled ramps

INGREDIENTS

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup dry white wine
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon of each of the following: mustard seeds, coriander, peppercorns, fennel seeds
½ teaspoon chili flakes
1 bay leaf
1 spring of thyme
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
1 pound ramps, cleaned and trimmed (white/reddish parts only-with a hint of green tops)

DIRECTIONS

In a large mixing bowl whisk together vinegar, wine, salt, mustard, sugar, and spices. Add the fresh herbs. Blanch the ramps in boiling salted water for one minute. Place in an ice bath and cool and drain and place in the brine. Place the ramps and the brine in a jar or a plastic container refrigerated for 3-5 days.

Bitterballen & Herbed Mustard

April 26th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Bitterballen are a staple in old Dutch cooking and have been modernized quite a bit over the years and essentially made a bit healthier. Originally served alongside a Dutch bitter Gin, hence the name, these snacks are seen throughout the country in many different forms. These lovely snacks and medium-sized meals are essentially a fried meatball. Typically loaded with fresh herbs and made in various ways, a common version is where the meat and herbs are mixed with mashed potatoes or another starchy vegetable, deep fried, and served with spicy, herbed mustard. Here is an adapted & healthier version from Ger-Nis.

Bitterballen Ger-Nis Style

Makes about 20 bitterballen

INGREDIENTS

1 medium celery root, peeled boiled and mashed
1 small carrot, shredded
1 medium red onion, grated or chopped super fine
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped fine
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped fine
½ cup cooked ground veal
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
¼ cup butter melted
3 eggs, beaten
1-2 cups breadcrumbs, superfine
Oil (for frying)

DIRECTIONS

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed celery root, carrots, onion and herbs, mix well. Add the ground veal and continue to mix well. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add melted butter and mix well. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Heat oil in a large frying pan.

To assemble bitterballen, take a spoonful of the celery mash mixture and form into a ball, dip in the beaten egg and roll or cover in the breadcrumbs. Place in the fryer and fry until balls are floating and they are cooked through about 3 minutes. Take out of oil and place on a towel so that the excess oil drains off. Serve warm or hot with the mustard!

Herby Spicy Mustard-Dutch Style

Makes 1 cup

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup black mustard seeds
¼ cup brown mustard seeds
¼ cup yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
¾ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup water

DIRECTIONS

In a small, non-metallic mixing bowl, cover the mustard seeds with the sugar, tumeric, salt, ½ cup of the vinegar and the water and soak covered overnight. Then, with a mortar and pestle pound the mustard seeds until coarse and broken to desired texture. Add the herbs. Add remaining vinegar and continue to mix and mash until coarse yet smooth. (A blender or coffee grinder works perfectly as well.) Place in a covered jar, and refrigerate.

Mango Mint Sorbet

April 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

INGREDIENTS

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
½ cups chopped mint
2 cups fresh mango, peeled, deseeded and chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime
¼ cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

Make simple syrup in a medium saucepan by combining the sugar and water and chopped mint. Bring to a boil until sugar dissolves, simmer for 5 minutes, take off burner, add lime zest and juice, cool, strain, and set syrup aside. In a food processor, blend up the mangoes until a puree forms. Mix simple syrup, cream and pureed mangoes and follow ice cream maker instructions for making sorbet.

Cactus Fruit (Prickly Pear) Cilantro Lime Tequila Coolers

April 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS

1½ ounce tequila blanca
1½ ounce Grand Marnier
1 ounce cactus fruit syrup (recipe follows)
1 ounce agave syrup
1 ounce lime syrup (recipe follows)

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients into a strainer filled with ice, shake vigorously. Strain through fine mesh strainer. Serve over ice garnish with a lime wedge and cilantro leaves.

Cactus Fruit Syrup

Makes approximately 2 cups

INGREDIENTS

1-2 cactus fruit, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add cactus fruit, water and sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Let simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Cool, blend and strain.

Cilantro Lime Syrup

INGREDIENTS

1 cup lime juice
¼ cup fresh cilantro
1 cup sugar-in-the-raw
2 tablespoons lime zest

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan over medium low-heat, add lime juice, sugar in the raw and lime zest. Warm through until sugar is dissolved. Take syrup off heat and let cool until ready to use.

Tarragon Beet Salad

April 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1 cup mixed baby lettuces
2 medium beets, cooked, trimmed and sliced
1 red grapefruit, peeled, pitted and segmented
1 navel or cara orange, peeled, pitted and segmented
1 small shallot, chopped fine
¼ cup champagne vinegar
¼ cup fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
3 tablespoons almond oil
Juice of 1 medium orange
Pinch of sugar, salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon orange zest

DIRECTIONS

On a flat large serving dish, spread the greens out all around the plate. Next place the beets down and then the citrus, arranging them evenly over the plate. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the shallot, vinegar, herbs, oil, orange juice, sugar, salt and pepper and the orange zest, until the mixture is emulsified well. Drizzle the dressing over the plate of beets and citrus and serve.

Sundried Tomato & Herb Chicken Sausage Pizzas

April 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 3 10-inch pizzas

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds boneless & skinless chicken breasts, cubed
½ pound pork fat, cubed (optional)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
½ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped fine
2 tablespoons salt
Casings, of your choice
Canola or olive oil
Pizza Dough (recipe follows)
Fresh Tomato or Pizza Sauce (recipe follows)
Cheese, of choice
Fresh baby spinach or arugula

DIRECTIONS

Mix all the sausage ingredients in a large bowl, and refrigerate, about 2 hours. Using the finest blade on your meat grinder, grind all of the ingredients, following the instructions. Once the mixture is ground, place in the freezer. Meanwhile, soak the casings in warm water, and rinse a few times. Using your sausage stuffer, slip the casing onto the stuffing tube, making sure you leave about 6 inches off the end of the tube – this is where you will need to tie the sausage off later. Remove the meat from the freezer, and place it in the body of the sausage stuffing machine. If all the meat does not fit (you must acquit, just kidding), place the rest back in the refrigerator until you are ready for more. Turn the machine on, and begin the process – air will be the first thing to emerge. As the meat begins to slide out, use one hand to maneuver the speed of the sausage output. Let the sausage emerge into one long coil – the links will be tied later in the process. When the sausage is done, turn off the machine, and tie up the ends – you can kitchen twine. To make individual links, pinch a section together, then spin the links, and turn them opposite from each other several times, repeat this moving down the entire main link. Hang the links up so you can review for air bubbles. Using a sterilized pin or sewing needle, pop each section that has an air bubble with the pin, and the link should move flat and the air bubble should be released. Hang the links for about an hour, and then refrigerate them covered in the refrigerator overnight. Use them or freeze them within about a week (in other words, use it, or lose it).

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place the sausages on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 4-5 minutes turning once or until browned. Remove from oven and slice into 1 inch slices for pizza topping.

Place already rolled out pizza dough on a baking sheet and top with pizza sauce, cheese of choice, spinach or arugula and sliced sausage. Place in oven and bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

Pizza Dough

Makes 3 (10 inch) pizzas

INGREDIENTS

1 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
2½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Dried herbs (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl gently mix the warm water, yeast and honey until frothy and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Let stand for 1 minute for activation of the yeast. In a separate large mixing bowl combine the flour and salt and any optional dried herbs: oregano, basil, etc. Mix well. Slowly combine the yeast mixture to the flour mixture mixing well until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic adding more flour if needed. Knead for about 8-10 minutes. In a lightly oiled bowl, preferably ceramic or stainless steel, place dough covered with greased plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm, draft free location for about 1-2 hours or until the dough doubles in size. Flatten the dough to desired size shape and thickness – thin, thick, or regular.

Fresh Tomato or Pizza Sauce

Makes approximately 2 cups

INGREDIENTS

6 medium tomatoes, chopped
8-10 cloves garlic, chopped
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
½ cup red wine
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1½ cup fresh oregano, chopped (reserve ½ cup)
1 cup fresh basil, chopped

DIRECTIONS

In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, add tomatoes, garlic, onions, red wine, red chili flakes, dried oregano, salt, pepper and fresh herbs and bring to a boil. Place on low simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring regularly until all tomatoes are broken down. With a hand held food processor blend all ingredients in the pot until smooth and all ingredients are well blended. Skins are included in the sauce as they give a very rustic look and texture. Cook blended sauce on low for another 20 minutes, until thick and reduced. Season with more salt (if needed) and finish with remaining fresh oregano.

Pecan Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

April 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 8×12 cake

INGREDIENTS

For the streusel

13 cup all purpose flour
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 cup pecans, chopped

For the coffee cake

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

Preheat 350°F. Grease an 8×12 baking pan and set aside.

For the streusel

In a medium sized mixing bowl, add flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut butter in with you fingers to form coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts and set aside.

For the coffee cake

In a medium sized mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to butter sugar mixture alternating flour mixture with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour.

Scrape into pan and evenly cover with streusel topping. Pat crumbs gently into batter and cake 30-35 minutes or until cake has risen and golden brown. Insert a knife to test if cake is done, if it comes out clean, it’s finished. Cool for ten minutes and serve warm.

Recipe Property of Shawona Jones

Cardamom Dried Cherry Crumb Cake Bars

April 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 12 bars

INGREDIENTS

For the crumb topping

½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup walnuts, chopped
13 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
½ teaspoon instant espresso
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, cut into pieces

For the cake

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
23 cup sugar
½ cup dried cherries, chopped
4 ounces melted butter, cooled
2 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup strong coffee
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven 400°F. Butter an 8″ square pan and add cut parchment paper to bottom of pan.

For the crumb topping

In a medium sized mixing bowl add flour, walnuts, sugar, orange zest, instant espresso, ground cardamom and combine. Add butter and mix by hand to form crumbs. Set aside.

For the cake

In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, ground cardamom, and dried cherries.

In another bowl add cooled butter, eggs, milk, coffee and vanilla extract and combine well. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients. Stir to mix but not beat. Stir only to get an evenly moistened batter.

Scrape into pan and evenly cover with crumbs. Pat crumbs gently into batter and bake 30-35 minutes or until cake has risen and golden brown. Insert a knife to test if cake is done, if it comes out clean, it’s finished. Cool, cut into squares and serve with coffee.

Recipe Property of Shawona Jones

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

April 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 Bundt Cake

INGREDIENTS

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
123 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar for dusting

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch Bundt pan.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the batter just until blender. Fold in blueberries.

Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Sprinkle half of this mixture over the batter in the pan. Spoon remaining batter over the top, and then sprinkle the remaining pecan mixture over. Use a knife or thin spatula to swirl, the sugar layer into the cake.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted into the crown of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack. Invert onto a serving plate, and tap firmly to remove from the pan. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Recipe Property of Shawona Jones

Fresh Mint Ice Cream

April 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

2 cups 2% milk
2 cups half and half
1 cup sugar
2 cups fresh mint, chopped
10 egg yolks

DIRECTIONS

In a heavy bottomed saucepan bring the milk, half and half, sugar, and mint to a boil and reduce heat immediately, and simmer for about 10 minutes stirring gently, allowing mint to steep into liquid. Discard mint. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg yolk well. Ladle a big spoon full of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking well, to avoid the eggs from cooking. Add the remainder of the egg mixture into the milk on the stove and heat gently whisking constantly until a thick custard forms or until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon well; about 5-6 minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight to get very cold. Place in the freezer 10 minutes before making the ice cream. Process the ice cream in an ice cream maker, following instructions of the machine.

Buttermilk Pie

April 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
2 cups buttermilk
¼ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 eggs, separated

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325°F. Mix flour and sugar together. In a separate bowl, beat yolks until light, and then add to sugar mixture. Add to buttermilk, along with melted butter (slightly cooled so as not to damage eggs).

Beat egg whites until stiff, and then fold gently into buttermilk mixture. Pour all into blind-baked pie shell, then bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is brown and the filling firm. Cool until set enough to slice.

Recipe adapted from “Southern Cooking” by Mrs. S. R. Dull

Southern-Style Collard Greens

April 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

Smoked ham hock (optional)
2 bunches fresh young collards, washed free of any grit
1 onion, chopped medium 1 tablespoon bacon grease or vegetable oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 red chili pepper, or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ cup water, plus more as needed
Pepper vinegar, for serving

DIRECTIONS

If using the ham hock, simmer in water to cover for ten minutes, then remove and reserve. Discard cooking water.

Strip the stems off the collards. Chop into pieces about 1″ by 2″.

Heat the far or oil in a large pot. Add the chopped onions and sauté until translucent. Add collards and all the other ingredients (plus the ham hock, if using). Stir to mix. Add more water if necessary – you are looking more to steam, not boil, so add water about a quarter to midway up the greens. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, turn the flame down to low, and simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Check the pot and add more liquid if necessary. You may remove the greens at this point, if they are done to your liking. Southerners tend to cook them for about 45 minutes to an hour, or even longer, to get them really tender. Serve with cornbread to sop up the “pot likker”. Pass pepper vinegar alongside.

Recipe Property of Emily Casey

Cucumber and Onion Salad

April 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

2 long regular or English cucumbers
2 Vidalia or other sweet onions
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
A pinch of fresh black pepper or crushed red pepper
¼ cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, mint, basil, or tarragon

DIRECTIONS

Slice the cucumbers and onions as thin as you can. Mix the sugar, vinegar, and pepper together and pour over the cucumbers and onions. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Chill. Just before serving, add the chopped herbs and toss together. Serve quickly (the vinegar will make the herbs lose their bright color fairly soon).

Recipe property of Emile Casey

Buttermilk Biscuits

April 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes approximately 30

INGREDIENTS

2¼ cups sifted cake flour, or 2 cups sifted all purpose flour, plus more for your work surface and hands
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cold unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
2 tablespoons cold lard or vegetable shortening, cut into several pieces
¾ cup cold whole or low-fat buttermilk (preferably whole)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients thoroughly with a fork. Transfer to a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Add the butter and lard and pulse the mixture in 2-second increments until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea-sized pieces, about 5 pulses. (If you don’t have a food processor, cut the fat into the dry ingredients in a bowl by mashing with a fork, or a pastry blender; it will take about 3 minutes).

Transfer the mixture back to the bowl, pour the buttermilk over it, and mix with the fork for about 1 minute, until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured board, knead with floured fingers once or twice, and pat into a rectangle about 6 by 10 inches and 1 inch thick. Fold the rightmost third of the rectangle over the center third and fold the left third on top. Turn the dough a quarter turn, pat it into a 6 by 10 rectangle, and fold it upon itself in thirds again. Repeat one more time, and then pat the dough into a 6 by 10 rectangle about 1 inch thick.

Using a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter (or an upside-down shot glass), cut the biscuits from the dough (DO NOT TWIST THE CUTTER!). Cut the biscuits with a straight up-and-down motion; twisting will reduce the biscuit’s ability to rise. Place them about 1½ inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops just begin to brown.
Serve warm.

Recipe from “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook”

Rhubarb Mint Spritzer

April 20th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 gallon

Ingredients

1 pound rhubarb, ends trimmed and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
Ice
Seltzer water

Directions

Combine the rhubarb, lemon zest, lemon juice, mint, sugar and the water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 6-8 minutes. Strain, cool and reserve liquid. Place the rhubarb syrup in a large pitcher of ice, fill with seltzer water and serve.

Sweet Vanilla Dried Strawberries

April 19th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 cup dried fruit

Ingredients

2 cups strawberries, destemmed and sliced thin
3 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped (bean discarded)

Directions

Preheat oven to 225°F. Mix vanilla bean scraping with sugar in a small bowl. Lay on top of prepared strawberries, and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in oven for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until dried through. Store in an airtight container up to 4 weeks.

Apéritif de Lillet Cannelle Basilic

April 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

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Makes 1 cocktail


Ingredients


1 ounce cucumber infused gin
2 ounces lillet blanc
½ ounce blood orange juice
½ ounce cinnamon basil syrup
Garnish with cucumbers marinated in cinnamon basil and lillet blanc
Cinnamon basil leaves for garnish



Directions


In a shaker filled with ice, combine gin, lillet, blood orange juice and cinamon basil syrup. Shake well and strain into a lowball glass filled with ice or a martini-style glass. Garnish with a lillet-soaked cucumber and cinnamon basil leaf.


Cinnamon Basil Syrup

Makes 1 cup syrup


Ingredients


½ cup to 2 cups sugar
½ cup to 2 cups water
½ cup fresh cinnamon basil leaves


Directions


Place water, sugar and cinnamon basil leaves in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for a few more minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool. Strain out basil leaves. Bottle and refrigerate.

Ginger Whipped Cream

February 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes approximately 1 cup

INGREDIENTS

1½ cups heavy cream, chilled
A ½” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, add cream, and whip until soft peaks form. Add ginger, sugar, and vanilla, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Serve with lime pie.

Quick Preserved Lemons

February 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

10 lemons, scrubbed of wax
2 tablespoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons sugar

DIRECTIONS

Slice lemons, including peel, removing as many seeds as possible. Put the lemons and their juice in a bowl, and sprinkle with the salt and sugar. Toss well, and transfer to a jar. Let the mixture sit for at least 3 hours at room temperature, shaking the jar periodically. It can be served at that point or refrigerated for up to a week.

Persian Lime-Ginger Soda

February 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

2 cups lime juice, freshly squeezed
1½ cups sugar
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
Ice
Soda water

DIRECTIONS

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add lime juice, sugar, and ginger, and warm until sugar is dissolved and syrup is infused with ginger. Strain, and cool.

To serve, fill a glass with ice, and add 3 to 4 ounces of lime-ginger syrup. Top with soda water. Stir, and serve.

Grapefruit Tarragon Soda

February 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

½ cup water
1 cup sugar
2 fresh tarragon sprigs
2 cups fresh grapefruit juice
Ice
Soda water

DIRECTIONS

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add water, sugar, and tarragon, and warm until sugar is dissolved and syrup is infused with tarragon. Strain syrup and cool. Once chilled, add tarragon syrup to grapefruit juice.

To serve, fill a glass with ice and add 3 to 4 ounces of grapefruit tarragon juice and top with soda water. Stir, and serve.

Shrimp with Sweet Basil, Purple Eggplant and Peppers

February 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
A 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
1 purple eggplant, cubed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ cup water
1 small chili, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1½ tablespoons black soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1½ tablespoons water
¼ cup basil leaves, torn

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl, combine mirin, soy sauce, and ginger. Add shrimp, and marinate 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large deep skillet or wok over high heat, add 1½ tablespoons oil. Add shrimp, and cook for 3 minutes or until shrimp has changed to light pink color. Remove shrimp, and set aside on plate. Clean out pan.

In the same pan, add remaining oil. Add eggplant and red peppers, and cook, 5 minutes. Add ½ cup water, and cover pan to steam vegetables slightly. Remove lid, and add chili and garlic. Stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add fish sauce, black soy sauce, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Add cooked shrimp and basil and mix. Serve immediately.

Chicken and Cashews

February 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

2 pieces skinless boneless chicken thighs, sliced thin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small green chili, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
A 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
3 scallions, sliced thin (separate green and white parts)
¾ cup chicken broth
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup cashews, toasted

DIRECTIONS

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Cook the chicken until golden and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add bell pepper, chili, garlic, and scallion whites to wok or skillet and stir-fry until peppers are just tender, 5 to 6 minutes.

Stir together broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, and sugar, then stir into wok or skillet. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cashews, scallion greens, and chicken along with any juices accumulated on plate. Serve.

Sichuan-Style Green Beans

February 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

½ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons black soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1½ pounds green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
2 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 small chili, sliced thin

DIRECTIONS

Prepare a large bowl with ice and water and set aside. In a small bowl, combine first 7 ingredients to make a sauce, and set aside.

In a large pot, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add a handful of salt. Next, add the green beans, and bring back to a boil. Cook, uncovered 5 to 6 minutes or until almost cooked but still crisp.
Drain and shock in bowl of ice and water.

In a large deep skillet or work over high heat, add oil. Add scallions, garlic, and chill; and cook briefly. Add already combined sauce, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent lumps, until thickened. Return the cooked beans to the pan, and toss lightly to coat with sauce. Serve.

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Irish Cream Frosting

February 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 12

INGREDIENTS

For the cake

2 cups Guinness
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
113 cups sour cream

For the icing

2 cups cream cheese, softened
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
¼ cup Irish Cream liqueur
4 cups powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

For the cake

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line with parchment paper. Butter paper. Bring 2 cups Guinness and 2 cups butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and 1½ teaspoons salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add Guinness-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.

For the icing

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, butter, and Irish Cream. Slowly add the powdered sugar while mixing.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate. Spread 23 cup icing over. Top with second cake layer. Spread 23 cup icing over. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake.

Puff Pastry Pear Tart

February 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup sugar in the raw
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced thin
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut in cubes
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly butter a baking sheet. Set aside.

Sprinkle a work surface with sugar-in-the-raw and spices and roll out puff pastry about 18 inch thick, turning once to coat both sides. Place puff pastry on baking sheet and using the tip of a pairing knife create a ½ inch border around the entire sheet. Prick pastry all over with a fork (to prevent pastry from puffing up) and place baking sheet in freezer until pastry is chilled well, about 15 minutes. Once chilled, arrange pear slices on puff pastry (in whatever design you like), sprinkle with sugar and place cubed butter on top. Finish by adding juice and zest of 1 lemon. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Cactus Fruit (Prickly Pear) Lime Tequila Coolers

February 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS

1½ ounce tequila blanca
1½ ounce Grand Marnier
1 ounce cactus fruit syrup (recipe follows)
1 ounce agave syrup
1 ounce lime syrup (recipe follows)

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients into a strainer filled with ice, shake vigorously. Strain through fine mesh strainer.
Serve over ice garnish with a lime wedge.

Cactus Fruit Syrup

Makes approximately 2 cups

INGREDIENTS

1-2 cactus fruit, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS

In a small saucepan over medium heat add cactus fruit, water and sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Cool, blend and strain.

Lime Syrup

INGREDIENTS

1 cup lime juice
1 cup sugar-in-the-raw
2 tablespoons lime zest

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, add lime juice, sugar-in-the-raw and lime zest and warm through until sugar is dissolved. Take syrup off heat and let cool until ready to use.

Ger-Nis Chai & Mango Bubble Teas

February 3rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 drink

INGREDIENTS

¼ strong black tea
¼ cup cooked tapioca pearls
¼ fresh mango syrup or Chai syrup (recipes follow)
¼ cup coconut milk
Crushed ice

DIRECTIONS

Make black tea and allow to cool. Allow to cool in the refrigerator. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove. Add the tapioca pearls (make 2 cups for a batch to make 8-10 drinks). They will fall to the bottom of the pot. Allow to boil about 20 minutes. Take off heat and allow to rest covered for about 15 more minutes. Pearls should float when finished cooking. Place the pearls in a metal bowl and pour a little of either of the mango syrup or the chai syrup and mix, just enough that they don’t stick together. Place in the refrigerator and cool. To make the bubble tea, in a shaker filled with crushed ice, place ¼ cup syrup of your choice, 2 to 4 cups strong black tea, ¼ cup coconut milk and shake vigorously. Pour the mixture into a glass and add tapioca pearls and stir.

Fresh Mango Syrup

Makes 2 cups of syrup

INGREDIENTS

2 fresh ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped
¾ cups sugar
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
½ cup water

DIRECTIONS

In a medium sauce pan bring all ingredient to a boil and reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Take off heat and cool. Blend in a blender until smooth.

Chai Syrup

Makes 2 cups of syrup

INGREDIENTS

1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1 star of anise
2 cardamom pods, shell removed
4-5 whole allspice
2 cloves
1 tablespoon black pepper corns
13 cup brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

With a mortar and pestle crush spices so they are just cracked. In a medium sauce pan bring all ingredients to a boil and reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Take off heat and cool. Strain.

Caramel Almond Pear Tart

February 3rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 long rectangular tart

INGREDIENTS

For pie dough

1 sweet pie dough recipe
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For filling

1½ cups sugar
½ cup pear juice
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup almonds, chopped
2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, halved, and sliced

DIRECTIONS

To make this dough, use sweet pie dough recipe, and add ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon to dough. Flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove dough from refrigerator, and let come to room temperature, 5 to 10 minutes so dough rolls out easily.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface. Transfer to a long rectangular tart shell with removable bottom. Trim edges, and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until crust is set, about 17 minutes. Remove foil and beans and set aside. Maintain oven temperature.

In a medium heavy bottomed pan, combine sugar and pear juice, and bring to a boil. Do not stir. Using a pastry brush, wipe any sugar from sides of pan, so sugar does not burn. Once sugar begins to melt, the caramel color will become a deep amber. Reduce heat to medium, slowly whisk in heavy cream, and mix until smooth. Remove from heat, and add butter, honey, and vanilla, and combine. Add chopped nuts, and combine.

Arrange sliced pears on tart shell, and spoon caramel nuts on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Pumpkin Tart with Maple Sage Crust and Cnadied Sage Leaves

February 3rd, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Makes 1 tart, serves 6 to 8 people

INGREDIENTS

For pie dough

1 sweet pie dough recipe
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon maple syrup

For filling

1½ cup pumpkin, cooked
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 pinch cloves, ground
1 pinch salt
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup heavy cream
Maple Sugar Fried Sage Leaves, fore garnish (recipe follows)

DIRECTIONS

Using sweet pie dough recipe, add chopped sage leaves and maple syrup to dough. Flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove dough from refrigerator, and let come to room temperature, about 5 to 10 minutes, so dough rolls out easily.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to a tart shell with removable bottom. Trim edges, and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until crust is set, about 17 minutes. Remove foil and beans, and set aside. Maintain oven temperature.

In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients, and pour into cooled tart shell. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until set. Cool at room temperature. Garnish with maple dried sage leaves.

Maple Fried Sage Leaves

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
6-10 fresh sage leaves

DIRECTIONS

In a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, add butter and maple syrup. Add sage leaves, and fry till crispy. Remove with slotted spoon, and set aside to drain any excess. Garnish tart with fried leaves.

Savory Pie Dough (Pate Brisée)

February 3rd, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Makes 1 large pie crust or two tart shells

Ingredients

2½ cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Directions

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and salt. Cut in butter with two forks or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add ice water (1 tablespoon at a time), mix until dough just comes together. If dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn out dough from bowl onto work surface, and knead once or twice to combine. Divide dough in four equal parts. Shape into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Sweet Pie Dough (Pate Sucrée)

February 3rd, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Makes 1 pie crust or tart shell large or 8 tartlets

Ingredients

1½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
1 to 2 tablespoons ice water

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine flour and sugar. Next, cut in butter with a pastry blender or two forks until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolk, and add to flour mixture with 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice water. Mix just until dough comes together without being wet or sticky. Turn out dough from bowl onto work surface, and knead once or twice to combine. Flatten into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Caramelized Banana Tartlets with Chocolate Port Sauce

February 2nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS

½ cup raw hazelnuts
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 bananas, sliced in rounds about ½ inch thick
1 package puff pastry, thawed
4 ounces bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
¼ cup tawny port

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine hazelnuts, white sugar and nutmeg. In another small bowl, combine vanilla and melted butter and pour over hazelnut mixture, tossing to coat well. Lay on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. Once out of oven, set aside to cool and then chop.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, butter. Sauté bananas and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly browned. Add chopped hazelnuts, and sauté another few minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside. Cut puff pastry sheets into 8-10 squares (4 X 4 inches) and place on a lined baking sheet. Spoon a few spoonfuls of the banana mixture onto the center of each square and place in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown.

In the meantime, fill a saucepan ¼ with water and bring to a simmer. Place a metal bowl on top to create a double boiler. In the metal bowl, add chocolate, heavy cream, brown sugar, and stir until all sugar is dissolved and chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat, add port, and stir well. Once tartlets come out of the oven, drizzle chocolate over tarts, and serve!

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