Friday, January 28, 2011

blueberry grapefruit jam

confession time
i have 3 freezers
if you count the one attached to the fridge
which is really just for ice
and bags of half empty frozen okra
and maybe
mystery soup or two

i tell you this
not so you call hoarders
on my behalf
but to explain
how i can be happily making fruit jam
in the middle of winter

i have a freezer full of summer fruits
gathered in their peak
and frozen to preserve freshness

it is my own secret garden

this jam
the summer goodness blueberries hold
with beautiful winter grapefruit

i love it spooned onto toast
but i also have been using it
topping for cheesecake
filling for my homemade pop tarts
as a delicious swirl in my morning yogurt 
a collection of jam.  
you can find the recipe for the margarita marmalade here... strawberry rhubarb is coming soon.
blueberry grapefruit jam
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 grapefruits--flesh only
12 cups blueberries--fresh or frozen
1 tsp cardamom
generous pinch salt
3 cups sugar
1 pouch pectin
slightly mash the blueberries and place in a heavy pot. add the sugar, salt, ginger, grapefruit segments and an juice you can capture, and cardamom.  bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer about 5 minutes.  increase heat and bring to a boil. stir in the pectin and boil for a full 60 seconds.  turn off heat and place in sterilized jars.  process for long term storage as necessary. 

i am linking this recipe to

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

bangers and mash

last fall
hubster and i were in london
visiting with my good friend
treated us to a proper lunch
at a fancy restaurant
hubster and i
insisted on ordering
pub-type food
fish and chips
banger and mash
here's what i ate
believe me
it was as yummy as it looks
i attempted a

let me first say this
it is not easy to find good bangers
it is a matter of
trial and error
but really
i could think of worse things
sausage tasting
i think it would make a really fun party

instead of fondue
cook up some sausage
dip it in
mashed potatoes
add a cold bottle of lager
 you just might start a trend

my version of bangers and mash

Bangers and Mash
mushroom gravy
(printable recipe)
1 stalk celery--finely diced
1 carrot--finely diced
1 onion--finely diced
pinch salt
3 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs thyme
2 oz unsalted butter-softened
3 Tbs flour
3 crimini mushooms--sliced
4 crimini mushrooms--diced
cook the celery, carrot, and onion in a bit of olive oil until just softened. add the beef stock all at once and stir.  toss in the sliced mushrooms, the bay leaf , the parsley and thyme.  cover and let simmer for at least 30 minutes but up to an hour.  strain.  return the liquid back to the pot.  mix together the butter and flour in a bowl.  add the warm stock, a bit at a time to the butter-flour mixture, whisking to make a smooth paste.  once you have a runny paste (much like toothpaste), whisk it into the broth until smooth.  toss in the diced mushrooms and simmer until it thickens and the mushrooms soften--about 10 minutes.  
4 bangers
4 thick cut bacon rashers
1/2 bottle lager
put bangers and bacon in a sided saute pan.  pour in beer and simmer until the beer has completely evaporated.  add just a bit of olive oil and allow it to continue to cook until the bangers are cooked through.  your pan will get really dark and scary looking.  don't won't damage (fill the pan with water and slowly simmer on the stove, it will clean right up)
(printable recipe)
5 smallish yukon gold potatoes--peeled and halved
1/2 stick of unsalted butter--room temp
2 oz cream chese--room temp
salt and pepper
boil potatoes in salted water.  drain and return to pot. toss in butter and cream cheese and mash.  add enough milk to get your desired consistency.  once you add the milk, you have to be mindful.  do not whip and beat endlessly. if you do, you may end up with gummy mash--yuck.  better to have a lump or two. if you like silky mashed potatoes, run them through a ricer before adding butter and cream cheese.  add salt and pepper to taste.
to assemble
place a generous portion of potatoes on your plate. top with the sausage and enough gravy to make you smile. top with a rasher of bacon.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

conversation hearts

valentine's day
wouldn't be complete
without a conversation
candy hearts

i remember the days
when hearts were carefully shared
making sure
i love you
didn't get inadvertently passed
to a
4th grade crush

also important

sharing only
the good flavors
anyone would shudder
to see
the object of her affection
chewing up and spitting out
her heart

ten years old
is too young
to fully understand

this year
i am confident 
that hubster
will appreciate
i love you
or three
in such flavors as
green tea
vanilla bean 
 conversation hearts
(printable recipe)
1/4 oz gelatin
1/2 cup water
2 tsp light corn syrup
2 lbs powdered sugar
rubber stamp kit or food color pens
place water in a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over.  let bloom.  add the corn syrup and gently cook in the microwave until the gelatin and corn syrup have melted.  do this in 20 second intervals. mix the gelatin mixture into about 2/3rds of the powdered sugar.  knead with your hands, adding more powdered sugar as necessary until the dough is satiny and doesn't stick to the counter.  divide the dough into 6-8 pieces, coloring and flavoring as desired.  keep tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, as this dough will dry out quickly.  keep some powdered sugar on hand, in case adding color and flavor makes the dough sticky.
  roll the dough out and cut with small heart cutter. 
 place on a cornstarch dusted sheet pan and let dry a minimum of 48 hours.
when ready to decorate, use food color based pens, or brush food coloring directly onto a rubber stamp with the words spelled backwards.  press the heart onto the stamp and let dry about 15minutes.  you can also paint food coloring directly onto the heart as well.
i used this stamp set for most of mine

these are so much fun to make
i think 
a robin's egg blue box 
full of 
marry me hearts
would be a darling
a love poem
stamped out
word by word
heart by heart
snaked down
the dining room table
as a simple but thoughtful
the possibilities are endless
Just. Like. Love

i am linking this up to
rook no 17
a little birdie told me

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

crispy duck

when i heard that the secret ingredient for the iron chef challenge over at a latte with ott, a i freaked 
*a little* 
while i love crispy duck previously it only made its way into my kitchen already cooked
procured from one of those places downtown
with ducks and pork belly
hanging in the window
so delicious

the first time i remember having crispy duck
was at a very fancy chinese restaurant
in the heart of kensington, london
in the late 90's
they served
shark fin soup
other delicacies
i am almost positive
it was the most expensive restaurant
i was a guest
of a wealthy business man and his wife
who thankfully,
were adverse to shark fin
but loved crispy duck
garlic noodles
they had ordered the duck when making the dinner reservation
several days prior
great fuss had been made
i must admit
it was impressive
and worth the king's ransom
it demanded

because i hardly
back away from a challenge
and particularly a food one
i purchased a duck
from the butcher
crispy duck
duck broth
with the leftovers
whipped up
duck fried rice
(recipe coming soon)
Crispy Duck
(printable recipe)
*this is a 2 day plan accordingly
1 whole duck--cleaned and dried
finely grated zest from 1 orange
2 tsp chinese 5 spice
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 recipe duck broth
1 recipe glazing sauce
hoisin sauce--to serve
finely sliced green onions--to serve
cucumber cut into strips--to serve
chinese pancakes--to serve
remove the neck and any other parts from the cavity of the duck.  wash and dry the bird.  remove the back bone and snap the breast bone and flatten the duck.
like so
throw the back in the freezer--it is great for stock
mix the orange zest, five spice, salt and garlic powder in a small bowl. rub over the entire duck.  place the duck in the refrigerator and let sit 8 hours or overnight.  on day of duck preparation, remove the duck from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.  Steam duck for 25 minutes using duck broth in place of water. I use a bamboo steamer over a wok, but you can use whatever steaming mechanism you have.
Let the duck sit in the steamer for 5 minutes after removing it from the heat.  Lift it from the steamer and place on a roasting a roasting pan.  Let it fully dry---I place a small fan in front of it for about 2 hours.  once dry, brush liberally with the glazing sauce--fully saturating the duck.  Again, let sit at least an dry the skin again.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450. Place the duck in the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and cook for about another 40 minutes.  Do not continue to baste, as it will reduce the crispiness of the skin.
Duck Broth
1/2 carrot--chopped
1/2 celery--chopped
1" knob fresh ginger--roughly chopped
1 shallot--chopped
1 rasher bacon--chopped
olive oil
duck neck (if your duck doesn't come with it, use the back)
1/2 oz calvados
3 cups chicken stock
heat a stock pot over medium heat.  add about 1 TBS of olive oil and bacon.  cook until the bacon begins to throw off some fat, then toss in the carrot, celery, ginger, and shallot.  cook for about 3 minutes, then toss in the duck neck.  cook for 5-6 minutes more then pour in the calvados and let it absorb.  add the chicken broth and let simmer for about 2 hours.  strain all solids, tossing everything except the duck neck.  return the duck neck to the broth and cool until needed. if refrigerating overnight, skim off the solid fat and discard before using.
Glazing Sauce
juice of 1 orange
3 Tbs rice vinegar
3 Tbs honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
heat all ingredients together just until the honey melts enough to incorporate into the rest of the liquid

i am linking this up to
tuesday night supper club
hearth and soul blog hop 
iron chef challenge


Monday, January 17, 2011

gum wrapper wreath

i'm probably aging myself
by admitting
that a favorite past-time of mine
as a kid
was making gum wrapper chains
i just loved it
sticks of gum
are not easily found anymore
colorful paper is
it works just as well
for a tutorial on how to fold
click here
i cut the heart shape from a box 
and wrapped it in pink ribbon
then wrapped it again
in gum wrapper chain
rather loosely,
to give it a "bubbled" effect
this is not a quick craft
i folded about 5000 papers for this wreath
i suggest
getting the whole family involved

Saturday, January 15, 2011

cookie dough cups

i might be one
of very few 
whom actually prefer
baked cookies
raw cookie dough
it may have been
the constant threat 
my mother yielded
"raw cookie dough
will give you worms"
i don't recall
that it
ever happened
to anyone
but perhaps
it isn't discussed
in polite society
i find it 
in a medical sense
i really should have paid more attention
in high school biology

with that introduction
how could you not be hungry
for a little bit of cookie dough
 (wink, wink)
this recipe is sans eggs
so no need to worry
i filled little chocolate cups
but you can roll them and dip in chocolate
or just eat them
out of hand 
cookie dough cups
(printable recipe)
1/2 cup unsalted butter--softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
evaporated milk (as needed)
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
toasted and chopped walnuts (optional)
chocolate ganache for topping
tempered chocolate for coating
with a mixer, beat the sugar and butter until creamy.  add the salt, and vanilla and beat again.  stir in the      flour until just incorporated.  add evaporated milk a bit at a time until you reach the consistency you won't take much.  stir in the chocolate chips and nuts if desired.  if putting into cups, generously scoop dough into cups and then dip in with chocolate chips or colored candy. if making into truffles, scoop out desired portions and put on lined cookie sheet. refrigerate until hardened. remove from fridge, roll into balls and dip in tempered chocolate. top with chocolate chips or colored candies as desired.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

happy heart cupcakes

i love it when i make things
that look familiar
but taste delicious

it is not so difficult
when making 
mock store-bought treats
for these
hostess like cupcakes
i used the recipe
i shared for 
ding dongs
found here
instead of loopdy loops
i made
loopdy hearts
from tinted royal icing
these are tiny
just one bite
so cute 
for a lunch box treat
as an after dinner mint
  (just flavor your ganache or filling)
treat yourself to a

Sunday, January 9, 2011

gateau noir

this cake is actually named
chocolate nemesis
it is a wonderful invention
of the 
brilliant ladies
and it is simply

i call it gateau noir
it makes me smile
gateau noir
is the name we gave
to a suitor
not mine
of a girlfriend
in my retelling of the
20 year old story
lovingly prepared gateau noir
for her
in the hope
she would be his steady

had he used this recipe
he surely would have succeeded in his quest
gateau noir
(printable recipe)
(adapted from river cafe cookbook)
3/4 lb  70% bittersweet chocolate pieces
(please do not make this with nestle or similar chocolate chips--you will not get the result you deserve)
5  large eggs--room temperature
10 1/2 oz  granulated sugar
1/2 lb unsalted butter--room temperature
pinch salt (my addition)
1 tsp vanilla (my addition)
1/2 cup water
place eggs, 1/3 of sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  whisk until the eggs have tripled in volume, and thickened. this will take a minimum of 10 minutes. in the meanwhile, place the remaining sugar in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water.  bring to a boil and let boil for 3 minutes.  remove from heat and stir in butter and chocolate...letting them melt completely.  allow to cool slightly then slowly pour into the whipped eggs.  whisk for 1 minute, if it doesn't fully incorporate in that time, use a spatula and fold to fully incorporate. pour into prepared pan. 
* to prepare the pan: use a springform pan and spray with pan spray...and then instead of flour, use cocoa powder to coat the pan, tapping out any excess.

there are two ways to bake this cake
to produce a creamy cake, a bit like pudding.  this is in tune with the original recipe.  in order to get this result you will need to bake in a water bath (place your prepared pan, wrapped in foil, into a larger pan that will leave a "moat" of no less than 1" on all sides.  fill the "moat" with enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the prepared pan)--it is best to do this with the cake pans already    in the oven, to avoid spilling water all over the kitchen floor and into the cake batter.

 place prepared pan into a water bath and bake for approximately 35 minutes at 325.  the cake is done when it no longer jiggles, but the center still seems a bit soft. if it begins to pull away from the sides, it is over-cooked.  after 30 minutes, place your flat hand on top of the center of the cake, if it is no longer liquid, and looks as if it has a skin similar to that of chocolate pudding, and the cake doesn't jiggle, it is fair to say it is probably done.

option number two is to pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake it in the oven without the water bath at 350 for about 30-40 minutes.  the cake will rise considerably, then fall.  it will look like a fallen souffle and have a light crispy exterior with a dense chewy interior. i love it this tastes just as good and is not susceptible to melting in the heat of summer.

Friday, January 7, 2011

honey, honey makes the world go 'round

have i told you about our bees?
we have a single hive
along-side our garden
at our mountain cabin
hubster does most of the work

i do the easy stuff
like whip up
simple sugar sustenance
when nectar is scarce
i also provide 
a lovely pin cushion
for angry bees
i am slightly allergic
which means 
i swell like the stuffed gullet
of an unfortunate goose
my throat doesn't close
i deal with it
my other job
(outside of nectar management)
is collecting the honey
we were quite cautious this year
leaving most of the honey for the hive
for their winter fuel

as a treat
we pulled one frame
we could gift our honey
to family and friends this holiday season
with all the positive feedback
i wish we would have gathered more
everyone loves it
and is asking for seconds

 one woman insisted
that no matter the cost
she HAD to have some
her body needed it
even i
think that is a bit dramatic
i do live in Los Angeles
where tragedy 
surfaces as
no availability at the nail salon

we packaged the honey in 
fabulous weck jars
and i made
these cute little
beehive baubles
from fimo
for a personal touch
our honey
is not heated
only slightly filtered
nothing like
what you find
at the grocery store
i guard it
and maybe
just a teentsy-weentsy bit
hoard it
it is liquid gold

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

40 clove ham

i find it curious that
some of the biggest insults we toss about
 malign an animal 
that brings such great pleasure
things like

don't be a pig
he's swine of the worst kind
this place looks like a pig pen

are part of our common vernacular

rather than
being nasty about the plucky porcine
we should be saying things like

your skin has the milky creaminess of caul fat
and honestly,
who doesn't think 
is a beautiful name for a girl

wandering the grocery store
looking for inspiration for our new year's eve buffet
i found a ham
on sale, no less
and couldn't resist
the swine song
of a
well spiced
lightly sweet
mouth-watering salinity
of the
ham of my dreams
40 clove ham
(printable recipe)
10 lb bone-in ham (cooked or uncooked)
1/4 cup pork spice rub--my recipe here...or use your favorite
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbs spiced rum
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
juice of 1 orange
2 Tbs cider vinegar
2 tsp pork spice rub
40 whole cloves
cut diamonds into the pork fat and rub with spice rub. randomly stud with the whole cloves.  bake for 1 hour in large roaster on a rack.  baste each 30 minutes with sauce.  bake at 350 until thermometer reads 145 (if using a cooked ham) or 160 (if using an uncooked ham).  let rest 20 minutes.  slice and eat

* a cooked ham will take about 15-18 min per pound. an uncooked ham will take about 18-22 minutes per pound.  you do not want a canned ham for this. this is meant to resemble a honey baked, or spiral ham...but i think this is much better a quite cost effective.

Monday, January 3, 2011

ten layer lemon meringue cake

a very dear friend
turned 80 this year
she deserved
a cake 
as fabulous as she is

i love this cake
it has great flavor
tart, tart citrus
creamy lemon icing,
thin moist cake layers
sticky sweet meringue
Lemon Meringue Cake
(printable recipe)
(from nick malgieri)
3 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
18 Tbs unsalted butter--softened
2 1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
9 large egg whites
1 1/8 cup milk
preheat oven to 350.  whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  in a mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until very soft and light. beat in vanilla.  whisk together the egg whites and milk until just combined.  reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately beat in the flour and milk in 4 batches, starting and ending with the flour.  in order to not over mix, do not fully incorporate each addition before adding the next one. scrape down the sides in between each addition.
to bake
i bake this off in thin layers, making it easier to stack when putting the cake together. you can make 2 layers and slice into layers if you prefer...but i feel that the thinner layers, while taking longer to bake, are easier and fuss free, in the long run.  this will make 6-7 thin cake layers.  each layer should be less than 1/2" thick --i use about 3/4 cup batter or each layer.  spray 9" cake tins with pan spray and place a circle of parchment in the bottom.  if you only have 2 pans, you will have to wash in between bakings.  bake each layer about 10 minutes, but carefully watch, as the layers are so thin, they will brown easily. once you pull the pan from the oven, wait just a few minutes, then turn it out onto parchment, wash and dry the tin, then start the process again. let the layers cool.
lemon curd
grated lemon zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup lemon juice
11/4 cup sugar
12 Tbs unsalted butter--cut into small pieces
12 large egg yolks
beat the yolks, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest together in a bowl.  place bowl over bain marie and cook, stirring continually until the liquid thickens to a nappe (coats the back of a spoon and retains shape when you swipe your finger down the middle). do not let it boil, as the eggs will scramble.  remove from heat and pour through a sieve into a clean bowl.  toss in the butter while the curd is still hot.  stir until the butter is full incorporated.  cover with a bit of plastic wrap placed directly on the top of the curd. 

italian buttercream icing
(if you have a favorite icing, use it and add the matcha and lemon curd)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
4 egg whites--room temperature
2 cups unsalted butter--room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp green tea matcha powder (optional--i don't recommend if you are a purist)
about 1/2 cup lemon curd (you will have to taste and decide how lemony you want the buttercream)
place egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment
combine 3/4 cup of granulated sugar with water in a heavy saucepan.  bring to a boil over medium heat and continue cooking until it reaches 235 (just before soft ball)
meanwhile, while the sugar is boiling, begin whisking the egg whites.  once frothy, "rain" in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar.  whip to soft peak.
when syrup reaches 235, remove from heat (it will continue to get hotter and reach the desired 240f). with the mixer on medium speed, begin immediately pouring the hot syrup into the egg whites.  be careful not to hit the whisk directly.  once all the syrup is incorporated, kick the speed up to high and whisk until it cools to room temperature.
change the attachment from whisk to paddle, and begin adding butter, a few bits at a time.  once all incorporated and it looks like buttercream, mix in the vanilla and matcha green tea powder.

3 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Make sure the beater and bowl are extremely clean and free of any oil or fats.  Beat whites on low until foamy. Add salt and then kick up the speed to medium. Add cream of tartar.  Begin to slowly add the sugar "raining" it into the egg whites.  Continue to beat until soft peaks form, then add vanilla.  Beat to stiff and firm peaks.
If you over-beat, you will see moisture starting to "weep" from the whites.  If this happens, start over!
now that you have all the elements, you can start building your cake.
place 1 cake layer on a round cake board.  pipe the buttercream around the edge of the cake making a bit of a dam. fill with lemon curd.  this curd is quite tart, so you don't want to over-do it.  also, your filling should not be any thicker than your cake layers. place another cake layer on top of the lemon curd.  pipe a layer of buttercream for this filling layer. top with cake. continue as such, alternating curd and buttercream until you run out of cake layers. refrigerate until cold and firm. you can cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a day.  when ready to finish, cover in meringue and hit with a torch to brown the edges.  i do not recommend using the oven, as the buttercream will melt and it will become a big mess.

i am linking up to 
tuesday night supper club
hearth and soul blog hop
a little birdie told me

Saturday, January 1, 2011

new year, new reflection

as i bask in the glory of
this year anew
 begin to reflect

with the muddled mind
of late evening revelry
and early morning rise

this day brings
 an opportunity to
reset my course,
confirm those gathered goods,
decide the next step of
this fabulous journey called life

with you i share
three truths
which will satellite my year

i will not judge in disappointment, 
as i am confident
i too fall short of expectations 
others place on me
rather than toss the years of the past i will carry them forward
both as
fond memories and retrospective caution

and finally

i will eat more fruit
starting with
lemon meringue cake
recipe coming soon

dear readers
i wish for you in this new year
endless hours
the things you love
the people you love
Happy New Year!


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