Wednesday, March 31, 2010

a mimosa break & funnel cakes

...silver white winters that turn into spring, these are a few of my favorite things:
salted, ripe avocado
tangerine emergence-C
breakfast tacos via Tamale House #3
antique pink hydrangeas
lemon zest
Voluspa Makassar Ebony & Peach Candle
silky soft sheets
made-from-scratch pie crust
velvety sage
Kashi truly vanilla oatmeal
raw, shaved fennel
amethyst orchids
charred surf & tender turf
baba ghanoush
lavender-salted bubble baths
dirty martinis
glossy lips
handmade pasta
candied ginger
strawberries & bananas
quirky glasses
Mexican chocolate cake
pan-fried potstickers
crusty-baked mac and cheese
orange French toast

The ice has melted, temperatures are rising and shoulders are baring in Fort Worth. Although a bit foggy, Easter Sunday was a lovely one spent at morning Mass, brunching, shopping and spending time with my hip 'rents.

After a gorgeous service at St. Patricks Cathedral, we sipped spicy, Belvedere mimosas, savored silky hollandaise and sliced into perfectly-poached eggs at Taverna downtown. Dessert was later savored at my apartment with a gorgeous and luscious "make ahead" dessert:

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
with Stewed Rhubarb and Fresh Raspberries
This is a light, creamy dessert perfect for entertaining. The tangy rhubarb is completely stewed down into a thick sauce with fresh, ripe raspberries folded in before chilling.
The bright pink sauce is gorgeous with the alabaster, vanilla bean-flecked custard.
Yields 8 small ramekins.
Panna cotta:

2 T powdered gelatin (one packet)
3 T water
2 c heavy cream
1 c half & half
1/3 c sugar
1 t vanilla bean paste
zest of 1 lemon

Combine gelatin and water in a small saucepan on low heat. Stir to combine until gelatin dissolves. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in saucepan. Whisk until mixture just comes to a boil.
Whisk in gelatin mixture until thoroughly combined and divide mixture amongst ramekins. Let mixture come to room temperature on counter then chill overnight. To invert, loosen molds with a butter knife and quickly dip ramekin bottoms into hot water. Invert onto a dessert plate.
Stewed rhubarb and raspberries:

2 ripe rhubarb stalks, ends removed, split and sliced
1.5 c water
2/3 c sugar
1 pint raspberries
zest of 1 orange

Combine rhubarb, sugar and water over medium heat to develop a simmer. Simmer on medium heat approximately 15 minutes until rhubarb has broken down. Add half pint of raspberries and orange zest. Continue to simmer another 30 minutes until fruit has broken down and mixture has reduced by half.
Let cool and fold in remaining whole raspberries. Cool and chill completely before serving with panna cotta.
My next weekend was also spent "brunching" after a gracious potluck brunch invite with a slew of local foodie friends.
Along with a hefty bowl of mixed chopped fruits
[apples, pears, green grapes, mango, grapefruit, orange,
strawberries, blueberries, blackberries & raspberries]
mixed with champagne, Meyer lemon zest and chiffonade mint,
I also contributed an:

Artichoke and Salami Tart with Parmesan and Lavender Salt

This tart is so simple-- I didn't feel the need to write a "formal" recipe. The process can be used with endless combinations of fruits, veggies or proteins!

1. Defrost 1 sheet of puff pastry careful to keep chilled

2. Pierce fork holes into "topping" area of pastry to prevent rise

3. Assemble toppings--
I used quartered artichoke hearts, slices of torn salami, fresh oregano, red pepper flakes, fresh-ground black pepper and aged parmesan shavings.

4. Brush edges with an egg wash or olive oil--
I also sprinkled edges with dried lavender salt.

5. Bake at 400 degrees approximately 30 minutes until puff pastry is cooked through and golden brown

6. Serve warm or room temperature--
I cut my tart into squares and served it at room temperature.

After our delicious brunch complete with crumbles, crepes, pasta, french toast, panzanella, tarts, flatbread, yogurt, dips, eggs bakes, fresh fruit, coffee and mimosas--
I headed off for an afternoon of
beginner's luck,
cold beer,
corn dogs & funnel cakes
at the horse races with my favorite guy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

a yellowtail praise & carrots 3 ways

One disadvantage of living solo is the perpetual problem of rotting produce that wastes away.

A few ways I stretch my dollar and elongate produce life spans:

I buy berries on sale,
bag and freeze them
to quickly add to muffins, desserts and make milk icy cold in a bowl of cereal.

I keep ginger in
a jar of inexpensive vodka
in my refrigerator (culinary school trick that preserves ginger).

Before garlic goes bad,
I roast and jar caramelized cloves
for a handy flavor enhancer to add pastas and hors d'oeuvres.

I "arrange" fresh herbs in water
like a bouquet of flowers
and chill them to keep herbs lively and green.

I will also take advantage of my very last carrot and have three diverse recipes to prove it!

Carrots Three Ways:


& slaw

to appeal to one and all!

1. Shaved Carrot & Blood Orange Salad with Marcona Almonds, Almond-Scented Vinaigrette & Bite-Sized Rosemary Biscuits
Salads with lettuce bore me. I was never one of those,

"Oh, I'll have a salad with grilled chicken and dressing on the side" gals.
In fact, I envied those self controlled waifs. Much animosity, no?
In an effort to trick myself, I integrate as many unexpected flavors, textures and colors as I possibly can when crafting salads. I received crazy looks when adding almond extract to this vinaigrette.

Odd? Yes.
Delicious? Oh, hell yes.

Yields 4 appetizer salad portions.

Bite-Sized Rosemary Buttermilk Biscuits:

1.5 c AP flour
1 T sugar
1.5 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 buttermilk plus additional to brush atop biscuits

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and rosemary. Blend in butter with hands until butter is combined and pea-shaped. Slowly add buttermilk in portions until a sticky dough is formed.

Flour hands, surface and rolling pin. Transfer dough ball to surface and form into a uniform disk with hands. Roll into a circle, approximately 1/2 inch thick. With a small circle cutter (about 1 inch in diameter), cut out biscuits and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Brush tops with buttermilk and top with a sprinkle of fresh-cracked pepper. Bake approximately 6-8 minutes then transfer to cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature with salad.

Carrot Orange Salad:

2 carrots, shaved with a peeler
2 blood oranges, segmented
1/2 c marcona almonds

Combine carrots, blood oranges and almonds. Toss with almond vinaigrette and serve with buttermilk biscuits.

Almond Vinaigrette:

2 t pure almond extract
juice of 1 lime
1 t lime zest
1/2 t fresh rosemary, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Combine almond extract, lime juice, lime zest, rosemary and red pepper flakes. Slowly whisk in olive oil until an emulsification develops. Season with desired salt. Toss with carrot orange salad to lightly coat.

2. Curried Banana Carrot Bread

Curry in banana bread?!
Oh yes I did.

The pumpkin-hued spice isn't completely obvious,
(back off, curry haters)
and the ending taste is subtle and soft.

Carrots are the moisture-carrier in this low-fat bread. Although I like my mashed bananas to be chunky, I didn't want to bite into coarse carrot grates.

Instead, I grated my carrot on the microplane in an attempt to "melt" the valiant vegetable into the delicate bread.

Yields 1 large loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans.

2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
3 ripe bananas, coarsely smashed
1/4 c shredded carrots
1/3 c buttermilk
1 T vegetable oil
1 T vanilla bean paste
1 and 3/4 c AP flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t curry powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a flour a loaf pan or mini loaf pans. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and curry powder. Set aside. Combine carrots, bananas, vegetable oil, buttermilk and vanilla bean paste. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a stand mixer, beat together eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy- about 5 minutes. To bowl, mix in wet banana mixture then slowly fold in dry mixture until just combined.

Fill loaf pan(s) about 3/4 full and bake approximately 1 hour for a full loaf pan or 35-40 minutes for mini loaves. Cool on rack and invert to serve.

3. Radicchio, Edamame and Carrot Slaw

Talk about a 3 minute recipe! While your edamame is defrosting for several minutes, you will have plenty of time to peel carrots, slice radicchio and measure soy sauce. This slaw would be fabulous served atop fish tacos!

Serves 2.

1/2 c radicchio, julienned
1/2 c frozen shelled edamame, prepared
1/2 c carrots, shaved with a peeler
1 T soy sauce
splash of rice wine vinegar
1/8 t red pepper flakes

Combine ingredients and refrigerate to slightly break down vegetables and meld flavors. Serve cool, warm or room temperature. Let the laziness ensue!

I'm sure you've heard...
I'm a sushi snob.

I'm from Austin, ok? Home of some of the best sushi in the country and this:

tempurashrimpavocadomayonnaise roll

ain't gonna cut it.

Alas, my sushi experiences have been very limited the past few years here in good ole' Fort Worth.

Recently, I was left delightfully content with my sushi craving satisfied after lunch at Tokyo Cafe. I dined with my meat and 'taters lovin' boyfriend who was equally impressed.
Our late afternoon dine included:

seaweed salad
pork gyoza with warm, ginger broth

spicy beef bowl with white rice and scallions

yuzu yellowtail roll

Fresh, simple and delicious-- all I could ask for. I still miss you,
Uchi. See you in my dreams...

This past whirlwind Sunday was spent in Dallas celebrating a birthday and engagement fiesta with dear friends from TCU. In a swift 12 hours, we enjoyed:

breakfast quesadillas with pepperjack, black beans and guacamole
& bottomless mimosas

bloody mary's and white sangria

sombreros, frozen margarita machine
quesadillas, queso, guacamole and flautas
at a quaint, outdoor engagement party

and finally,
a juicy relished hot dog,
sweet potato fries and pop
back in Fort Worth at Billy Miner's Saloon.

After a gluttonous, yet pleasant day,
it was off-to-bed immediately with
sweet dreams & old friends
dancing in my head.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

spiced pear fizz & luck o' the Irish

d new Saturday and favorite day of the week. Last Sunday was especially lovely-- the sun was shining and patrons everywhere seemed to be in a relaxed, cheery trance.

My solo lunch was spent sipping a smoothie from Central Market and flipping through the newest Fort Worth Foodie on the sun-drenched patio. I later amped my state of relaxation with a hot rock pedicure and late afternoon bar stools, cold beers and live music at the Love Shack So7.

After I worked a fine appetite up, my boyfriend and I meandered to Terra Mediterranean Grill to join a slew of chefs, bakers and foodie-makers for a mezze feast at its finest.

We noshed, shmeared, slurped and crunched a plethora of simple, Mediterranean plates:

earthy baba ghanoush
smooth hummus

spiced veggie moussaka
minted lebni yogurt
fried calamari with spicy tahini
warm pita
savory lamb moussaka
airy falafel
charred lamb and chicken kabobs with saffron rice
gyro with tzatziki

After I stuffed myself silly, our crew strolled across the street for some gelato and cool air. Once at
Paciugo gelato, I chose half hazelnut and half dark cherry swirl but pushed hazelnut aside for the tart, sweet cherries and vanilla. Sleep came quickly that evening with a full belly and my sweet tooth, content.

My weekly date night the following evening was spent at Ruffino's to ease my pasta cravings. The quiet restaurant was starkly cleaned with starched servers and an open window with a lovely, early evening draft pouring in. Our cordial server greeted us amicably and kept us content course after course (after course).

Our never-ending feast included:

wild mushroom crostini with apple and gorgonzola
my favorite. bitter, sweet, creamy and tangy all in one perfect bite.

free form potato gnocchi with tomato confit and peas
rich, yet airy. tomato confit intensified the dish.

morel tortelloni with braised lamb shank, feta and fried mint
a hearty dish boasting winter flavors with a minted promise of spring.

...for the sweet teeth...

crème brûlée
caramelized sugar cracked perfectly with my first bite.

pomegranate sorbet
tart, refreshing.

bruleed bananas with a lavender anglaise
this went straight to my lovebone.

I am so very excited to announce my first article from the Easy Entertaining section in Fort Worth Foodie Magazine!

For the newly-released Spring Issue, I crafted an article on simple syrups surrounding the basic ratio, uses, flavor combinations and a spiced libation from personal recipes:

Spiced Pear Fizz

Makes about four cocktails with champagne to spare.

2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
Peel of 1 pear
1 peeled pear, quartered
1 star anise
4 whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1 bottle of chilled, Brut champagne

Combine water, sugar, pear and spices. Simmer in a saucepan over medium heat approximately one hour until mixture is reduced by half. Set aside to cool and refrigerate overnight.

To assemble cocktail, add one part simple syrup to champagne flute and finish with two parts champagne. Garnish with a pear slice and assorted spices from syrup.

(cocktail photo courtesy of the lovely Josie Singleton)

Pick up the Spring Issue today to view my complete article and engulf yourself in reading about the melting pot that makes Fort Worth, Fort Worth! Visit Fort Worth Foodie on-line for circulation information.

Finally, St. Patrick himself would beam at these delicate, chewy cookies made especially in his honor on his namesake holiday this past week:

Irish Lace Cookies with a Fresh Nutmeg Glaze

I amped up this simple, lace cookie ratio with fresh spices, a light glaze and a hit of kosher salt for a depth of flavor.

Yields approximately 12 cookies.

3/4 c light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 T AP flour
2 T whole milk
1 t vanilla bean extract
1 and 1/4 c rolled oats
1 t salt
1 t fresh grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cream butter and brown sugar in an electric mixer until creamy and fluffy.
Combine remaining ingredients. With a small ice cream scoop, scoop uniform cookies and arrange on parchment at least 3 inches apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are just set and edges are golden brown. Carefully transfer parchment with cookies to a cooling rack until cookies are completely cooled.

Finally, transfer these extremely delicate delicacies (I used a stainless fish spatula) to a serving platter to glaze.

Nutmeg glaze:

3/4 c powdered sugar
1/4 c water
1 t fresh shaved nutmeg
1 t ground cinnamon
Combine ingredients. Add glaze to a squeeze bottle and apply in a criss cross pattern to cookies.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

an espresso-drenched star & BLT bar

After months of missing my family, I was able to sneak away to Austin for a couple days to celebrate the 62nd Birthday of my dear ole' Dad.

Simple, intelligent, frugal and clever would be quite appropriate adjectives for my father-- eggs over easy, black coffee, BLT's and ice cream never fail to keep him content (no frills, indeed).

In planning his afternoon celebration, I went the simple route with:

a hearty soup for the rainy day,
make-your-own sandwiches
and a luxurious Bundt cake

with fresh-whipped cream (vanilla bean extract please!) and ice cream to savor amongst gifts.

My funky BLT bar included every necessity to build the perfect sandwich:

Maple-Glazed Applewood-Smoked Bacon

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes: kosher salt, fresh-cracked pepper and olive oil roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Fresh, Peppery Arugula

Toasted Pumpernickel: sliced and toasted on each side with unsalted butter at 400 degrees.

Roasted Garlic Aioli: warm, roasted garlic cloves made into a paste with mortar and pestle then whisked with fresh thyme, mayonnaise, olive oil, salt and pepper.
After my past soup class in culinary school, my Dad seemed intrigued with the thought of velvety and cool Vichyssoise. Using the same leek and potato elements, I simmered my way to a hearty play on the French classic.

Potato Leek Soup with Thyme and Bacon Fat

This enormous pot of soup began with sautéing sliced leeks (thoroughly soaked and cleaned to remove grit) with leftover bacon fat from BLT's, fresh thyme, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a bay leaf. After leeks sweated and reduced, I added diced white potatoes and two quarts of vegetable stock.
After simmering until potatoes were tender, I added cream, crumbled bacon and readjusted my seasonings with more fresh thyme, salt and fresh-cracked pepper. Finally, I partially pureed the soup with an immersion blender for added texture.
Cocoa Rum Bundt with an Espresso Glaze

Oh the decadence! Oh the moistness! The intoxicating blend of caramelized rum, fresh-brewed local coffee and luxe bittersweet was to die for.

3 c flour
1.5 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, chopped
12 oz good bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Scharffen Berger 70%)
2 and 1/4 c raw cane sugar
1 c dark rum
1 and 1/3 c brewed coffee
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 T vanilla extract
butter and cocoa powder to grease and dust bundt pan

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and grease a 12 cup Bundt pan with butter and dust with cocoa powder. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl- set aside. Over a double boiler, melt together chocolate and butter until smooth. In a stand mixer on stir setting, add rum, coffee, vanilla and sugar to chocolate mixture until combined. Add dry mixture in portions until combined and finally, combine beaten eggs careful not to over mix.

Pour batter into Bundt pan and place in middle rack of oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean- my cake was ready in 1 hour, 20 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before inverting.

Simple syrup:

1 T instant espresso

2 c water
1 c sugar

While cake is baking, simmer mixture over medium heat until reduced by half. Drizzle atop cake after inverted.

Espresso glaze:

1 c powdered sugar
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c instant espresso

Whisk together ingredients.

Spoon atop cooled cake before serving and finally,

"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!"