Thursday, November 16, 2017

Elena Eats - Chicken, Peas, and Penne

It took too long to realize that once E was eating lots of peas, chicken, and pasta, and cheese, i could combine all of these things into a nice easy dish to prep.

This could be combined in a few different ways, base recipe followed by riffs

- Cooked chicken, chopped into whatever size works for you (I prefer thighs slowly braised, but can do the same with breast, or just buy precooked chicken)
- Cooked pasta. About a cup of uncooked pasta is an adult serving size, you can cook a cup for the kiddo, serve some for the meal and use the extra for a different meal or snack. I prefer using penne and cutting each tube into 4-5 rings. Toss with 1 T or so of olive oil
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, cooked in simmering water for about 2 minutes, rinsed in cool water 
- 2 T cheese in either grated, small chopped bits, etc

* combine all ingredients - serve. Add more olive oil and salt to taste

Ideas for similar combinations
- chopped cooked sausage, or sauteed loose sausage 
- browned ground turkey (sautee with an italian herb mix or some other herb or spice mix)
- lentils (can even get precooked lentils)

- sautee finely diced carrots/celery
- chiffonade spinach, toss with warm pasta/meat to allow it to wilt

Elena Eats - Fruit braised chicken

Braised chicken thighs are soft, and when cooked with fruit have a sweetness and provide familiar flavors.

Child friendly:
- Thighs (dark meat) have more iron, and some good fat
- Meat soft, easy to eat, can cut into pieces or chop fine

Parent friendly:
- Double/Triple/etc the recipe and eat what they are eating

- Serve over rice, or with pasta, or other side (cous cous, potatoes, polenta, quinoa)
- Change fruit/juice for the season's offerings, or necessary vitamins/etc (prunes or P fruits for digestion)

Base recipe:
- chicken thighs (I cook ~4 at a time to give her 1-2 and eat 2 myself. I get bored of food so I don't like to cook too much extra at once)
- 1 cup juice
- 1-3 cups stock/broth or water (enough to bring liquid to about 1/2 way up meat)
- 1-2 cups fruit or veggies (fruit can be fresh or dried)
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

In a pot (4-6 qt seems to do well), place fruit/veggies on bottom of pan, place meat on top, add liquids until the liquid reaches about 1/2 way up the meat. Bring to a simmer, cover, lower temperature to maintain very gentle simmer (consider using a diffuser), cook about 30 minutes to be done, cook a bit lower and longer if possible. I imagine a slow cooker could take care of business.

Ideas for juice/fruit combinations:
- Orange juice + dried apricots (and golden raisins)
- Pomegranate juice + dried figs, dried apricots
- Cherry juice + stone fruit
- Pear or apple juice + pears/apples
- Pear or apple juice + pineapple (consider adding ginger or cinnamon)

* Add carrots (peeled or unpeeled, chopped into 1-2 inch long chunks) to the bottom along with fruit. Cut into small bits and serve with the chicken, fruit, and side.
* Can use sweet potatoes in the same way

The "Ro-Tel" recipe also fits easily within this same structure. Use a very mild jar of salsa if you or your child do not prefer spiciness. Instead of using fruit + juice and stock, just use a jar of salsa (my favorite is either La Victoria Medium or a yummy mango salsa). When all cooking is complete, add a cup of (frozen?) peas or so, cook another 2 minutes until peas heated through. Be careful to not cook too long or peas will deflate and become wrinkled and overdone.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10 October 21, 2014 - Peach, Basil, and Arugula Salad; Spaghetti and Shrimp "Fra Diavolo"

Salad - The Art of Simple Food II
Rocket Salad with Babcock Peaches and Basil

recommended to use Fine Verde basil leaves

Wash and dry well:
    4 handfuls of rocket (arugula)
Make vinaigrette. Mix together:
   2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or 1 T fruit pickle brine
   1 large vasic sprig, gently smashed
   salt, fresh ground black pepper
Let sit for a few minutes, and whisk in:
   3 T evoo
Taste for salt and acid and adjust as needed
Carefully peel:
   1 large or 2 medium Babcock peaches
If peaches are fully ripe, peels will pull right off. Otherwise, dunk in boiling water for 5 seconds and then into ice water. If not using the peach right away, cover with a damp towel.
When ready to serve, toss the rocket with the dressing and:
   1 T vino verde basil leaves or chiffonade of basil
Arrange on plate.  Cut the peeled peach in two and twist halves apart.  Pry out the stone and slice halves into 1/4" slices. Arrange slices in rocket and serve

* increase red wine vinegar to at least 1 T maybe a little more
* didn't use Babcock, but should use freestone variety for ease
* tossed arugula with evoo, basil, and peaches and salt/pepper, THEN tossed in vinegar and served immediately

Pasta with Shrimp in Spicy Sauce

1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 tsp (about) crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp (about) mixed italian herbs
salt/pepper, evoo
1 large can San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 c white wine (about)
1 lb shrimp (ideally, frozen)- defrosted
pasta noodles

Put shrimp in colander, run cold water over to begin defrosting
Put pasta water on to boil
Puree tomatoes, roughly
Dice onion, add to pan heated with evoo
Salt and add crushed pepper to onion, stirring frequently while sauteing
As onion cooks and the pan dries, add white wine to deglaze
Add a little more crushed red pepper, stir, allow wine to reduce nearly all the way
Add pureed tomato, bring to a simmer, reduce heat and low simmer for 10 min
Add pasta to boiling water, cook according to package (approx 10 min)
Add shrimp, stir, turn off heat, let sit for a few minutes
When pasta has just a minute or so left, turn heat back on for sauce, stir to cook shrimp. Once shimp look opaque and colored, turn off heat.
When pasta is finished, strain it and add to the sauce (can leave some pasta water with pasta)
Toss pasta with sauce and shrimp, reheat if necessary, serve immediately

* taste for spiciness throughout!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

10 October 12, 2014 - Brunch with Duffys and Barreras - Cured Salmon, Caramel Bread Pudding, Herbed Salad

The Du-DeuxBarr Brunch - Italian Anniversary Brunch

Caramel Bread Pudding: 
  • followed the recipe below, but two tips
    • be sure to allow caramel to cool completely (30 min in the fridge) before adding the bread/custard.
    • weight the bread so that it helps soak up the custard well

Herbed Salad: 

  • would have followed recipe below... but forgot some key ingredients :(
  • Trader Joe's sometimes carries some shelled Fava Beans- they still need to be peeled, but its easy to do after a quick blanching
  • I have made this with other cheese when I can't find Ricotta Salata, I think that fresh cheeses and hard cheeses are probably easiest to use, but probably anything.
  • I've also made this with regular prosciutto instead of speck, still good :)

Gravlax, adapted from combining two salmon recipes below


  • 2 lb salmon fillet, trimmed
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 juniper berries, chopped fine
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice berries, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns, ground
  • citrus zest from 2 lemons, 2 limes, 2 oranges, 2 grapefruits

Method I followed the recipe method for the citrus cured salmon by Ruhlman, some extra notes:
I used Coho salmon from costco, probably about 1.75 pounds.  The Ruhlman recipe suggests trimming the thinner parts of the salmon fillet, which I did not do the first time, and I am glad I did trim the fillet this time, it made it easier to slice.
For the allspice, pepper, and juniper- I took the ground spices and then ground it into some salt before adding it to the larger bowl of salt/sugar.  It allowed the spices/flavors to mix in more thoroughly.
I have not quite figured out how to wrap the salmon tightly without it leaking, so keeping it in a dish is a good idea, and I have been weighting it.
Serve with bagels or rolls with creme fraiche! (forgot this too, mixed about 1/2 yogurt+cream cheese)

Cucumber Salad, modified from Chez Panisse recipe below


  • 1 english cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped coarsely
  • A few sprigs of dill
  • 1 shallot (medium), chopped fine
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced finely
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mince shallot and macerate in lemon juice.  Toss in the dill and celery and mix with some pepper.  Add cucumber shortly before serving so that it doesn't get soft and turned into a pickle.  Salt at the last minute.

Inspiration recipes
Citrus Cured Salmon

Ruhlman's Twenty, by Michael Ruhlman


1 cup coarse salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1 (2-to-3-pound) skin-on salmon fillet, pin bones removed and very thin pieces of flesh trimmed

Salmon can be wrapped in parchment paper and kept refrigerated until ready to use, up to 2 weeks.

In a small bowl, stir salt and sugar to combine. In another small bowl, combine orange, lemon and lime zest; set aside.

Place a sheet of parchment paper-lined aluminum foil, large enough to extend beyond the length of the salmon, on work surface. Spread one-third the salt mixture in center of parchment-lined foil; place salmon skin-side down on salt bed. Sprinkle zest mixture evenly over salmon and top with remaining salt mixture; salmon should be completely covered.

Fold foil up to contain salt; place a second sheet of parchment paper-lined aluminum foil over salmon and firmly crimp sheets together to form a tight package in which salt mixture is in contact with all surfaces of salmon. Transfer salmon packet to a baking sheet. Set a pan or large dish on top of salmon; top with cans or bricks to weight down. Transfer to refrigerator; refrigerate for 24 hours.

Unwrap salmon and remove it from salt mixture. Rinse salmon and pat dry using paper towels. Set salmon on a rack or paper towel-lined tray and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours more

Gravlax and Cucumber Salad (retyped from the book)

Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook, by Alice Waters 

Served ice-cold, this cured salmon hors d'oeuvre is a refreshing start to a late-summer meal.  Look for just-picked, small0seeded cucumbers at the farmers' market-- a good fresh firm cucumber can be a surprising revelation.

Serves 4 to 6.

1 pound king salmon fillet, skin on 
2 juniper berries, sliced coarsely
1/3 cup salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon allspice, crushed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
A few sprigs dill, stems removed
A few sprigs tarragon, stems removed

1 large or 2 small cucumbers
fresh mint, dill, chervil, or tarragon

The fillet may contain little pin bones, which run from the head end about halfway back along a whole side of salmon.  These bones will interfere with slicing later, so they should be removed.  They can be easily located with your fingertips and pulled out with small needle-nosed pliers or tweezers.  Place the fillet in a glass or stainless steel dish, skin side down.  Sprinkle the sliced juniper berries over the fish, pressing lightly into the flesh.  If you especially like juniper, use more, or a few drops of gin instead. 

In a small bowl, combine the salt, sugar, allspice, and pepper.  Spread this mixture evenly over both sides of the salmon.  Scatter the dill and tarragon leaves evenly over both sides as well.  Wrap the salmon tightly in cheesecloth, cover, and refrigerate for 36 hours.  

The serve, scrape off the herbs and any undissolved salt mixture.  Slice at an angle into wafer-thin slices with a sharp, thin-bladed knife.

To make the simple cucumber salad, slice the cucumber as thinly as possible (we use a Japanese mandolin) and dress to taste with olive oil, lemon, and salt.  Chop the herb of your choice-- or a combination-- and toss with the cucumber.

Arrange the gravlax slices on individual plates, and spoon the cucumber salad over the fish.

Variations: Make tea sandwiches on buttered brown bread topped with sliced gravlax and cucumber salad.  Or serve gravlax with pickled beets and a bit of creme fraiche flavored with mustard and horseradish.

Note: The gravlax will keep for a week in the refrigerator, tightly covered.  Double the recipe for a larger piece of salmon.

Morning Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel
SMITTEN KITCHEN (blog), by Deb Perlman

This recipe is from none other than Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser, back in her earlier New York Times days. (I clipped almost everything she cooked back then. #fangirl) It hails from the same article about holiday breakfasts as the winter fruit salad I shared here years ago. Yes, I basically skipped past this caramel/marscarpone/butter/challah glory for a fruit salad. I can be such a bore sometimes. I suspect I was fearful of it because I thought it would be unbearably sweet and unbreakfast-like, but for me, the beauty of it — well, aside from the actual messy beauty of it — is that it’s not. I ended up removing the 2 tablespoons sugar in the bread part to increase the contrast provided between the faintly tangy bread and the well-rounded sweetness of the dark caramel lid. My other changes were some added quantity and baking vessel notes and a couple tiny ingredient tweaks (salting the caramel for modern times, streamlining the fancy dairy products), plus some notes of warning about the caramel. Finally, Hesser calls for 1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds to be sprinkled on the bread 15 minutes into the baking time but I never bother.
If you can’t get mascarpone, creme fraiche would be ideal here. It doesn’t just enrich the batter and add a faint tang, it serves as the dreamiest dollop on served wedges. Sour cream would theoretically work too, but won’t be as rich and smooth one heated. I used whole milk, but suspect low-fat would work just fine here.
This is an overnight dish, ideally. Set it up before you go to bed and all you have to do when you wake up is bake it and invert it onto a serving dish. The longer is soaks, the more the bread and custard become one, but nevertheless, I think as long as it has an hour to soak, it will be good enough.
Serves 6 generous or 8 to 10 if other items are on the table. Estimate 1 hour prep time and then about 30 or so minutes baking time in the morning.

3/4 cup plus (optional) 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt or just 2 or 3 pinches of a coarse one
10 to 12-ounce loaf brioche or challah bread (cut into slices about 1/2-inch thick and about 3 inches square or round, which sounds really persnickety, but they really do fit better in the pan this way)
8 large eggs
1 cup mascarpone cheese, divided (1/4 cup for custard; 3/4 cup for serving)
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

First, choose your baking vessel. I opted for a 2-quart oval gratin/roasting dish, but also tested this in a 9-inch round cake pan (it was a squeeze; 10-inch would have been better). Other things I suspect would work: 9- to 10-inch cast iron skillet, 2-quart casserole dish or 1 deep-dish pie pan (what Hesser suggests).
If your vessel is safe for the stovetop, use this to make the caramel. If not, use a small, heavy saucepan. In either, place 3/4 cup sugar, butter and sea salt and heat over medium heat. The butter will melt and, after 7 to 10 minutes, the sugar will dissolve and begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir with a spoon or spatula so that it browns evenly. You will find that the butter separates from the melting sugar and this is just fine. Do your best to keep them stirred together but know that it will all work out in the end even if it’s split.
If you’re using a saucepan, your caramel is done when it reaches a copper color. Pour it over the base of your baking vessel and try (I failed each time) to tip it 1-inch up the sides of the dish.
If you’re making the caramel in your final baking vessel, your caramel should be taken off the stove a step sooner, a shade more pale than copper, something of a medium brown; this is because it will continue cooking and darkening for a minute off the stove.

Regardless of baking vessel, place dish in refrigerator and chill until caramel is cold and solid, about 30 minutes. Once chilled, arrange the bread slices. Place the heel of the bread in the center and do what you can to fan the slices around it, overlapping each slightly and knowing with complete confidence that even if your dish doesn’t resemble a blooming rose, nobody will care at all.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar (if using; I skipped this) and 1/4 mascarpone cheese (save rest for serving), until very smooth. Add milk and almond extract. Pour this over the bread, making sure to saturate all of it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight. If you bread seems too high in the vessel to get a good soak, you can weight it with a plate in the fridge.

In the morning, [updated to suggest] take your dish from the fridge an hour before you want to bake it. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove plastic from dish and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until moist but not wet in center. Remove from oven and run a knife around edge of dish, loosening bread from sides. Place a serving plate over top of dish (bottom side up), and, using potholders, hold pudding over sink and flip pudding onto it. Lift baking dish off plate; scrape any extra caramel from pie dish over pudding. Serve, cutting it into wedges at the table and spooning a healthy dollop of mascarpone onto each plate.

Green Pea and Fava Bean Salad with Sliced Speck, Food and Wine Magazine

Green Pea and Fava Bean Salad with Sliced Speck

  • SERVINGS: 10
This lovely salad offers a wonderful mix of ingredients: fava beans, peas, chives, dill, parsley, basil and sage. Sliced speck, the prosciutto-like ham, makes the salad a little smoky.
Slideshow: Bean Salad Recipes
  1. 3 cups shelled fresh English peas (about 3/4 pound)
  2. 4 pounds fava beans, shelled (4 cups)
  3. 1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  4. 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  5. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  6. Kosher salt
  7. Pepper
  8. 1/3 cup snipped dill sprigs
  9. 1/3 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  10. 1/3 cup snipped chives
  11. 1/3 cup small basil leaves or torn basil
  12. 2 tablespoons finely chopped sage
  13. 20 thin slices speck (1/2 pound)
  14. 4 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled (1 cup)
Get Delicious, Healthy Salad Recipes.
  1. In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the peas until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peas to an ice bath to cool. Drain well, pat dry and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the fava beans to the boiling water and cook just until the skins start to loosen, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the favas to the ice bath to cool. Squeeze the favas from their skins and add them to the peas. Add the shallot, sherry vinegar and the 1/4 cup of oil, season with salt and pepper and toss well. In a small bowl, toss the dill with the parsley, chives, basil and sage.
  3. Spoon the pea and fava bean salad onto a large platter. Arrange the speck slices on the salad and sprinkle the ricotta salata and herbs on top. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the salad, season with salt and pepper and serve right away.
MAKE AHEAD The blanched peas and favas can be chilled 1 day ahead. Let the vegetables return to room temperature before serving.

Monday, May 26, 2014

05 May 26, 2014 - Smoothie - Kale, coconut water, banana, apple, yogurt

05 May 26, 2014 - Smoothie - Kale, coconut water, banana, apple, yogurt 

After a weekend of lots of cheese, wine, and other animal fats...


green kaleA couple loose handfuls 
coconut water: about a cup of(maybe 1.5?)
bananafrozen pieces (probably 1.5 bananas)
yogurtabout .75 c - Fage 0%
applemed/large, cut off core

Banana was very, overly, ripe when frozen, and so it was very sweet.  If not that sweet, perhaps add a date or two (softened) for sweetness

if I thought about it earlier I would have hydrated some chia in there as well

I might freeze some fage in ice-cube trays... this smoothie was not really cold enough- perhaps because the coconut water was also not cold.

05 May 25, 2014 - Farmers Market Finds - Roasted Nectar-Aprium ice cream, Beet Greens with Guanciale, Smashed Beets with Lemony Yogurt Vinaigrette, Crushed Fava with Pt. Reyes Mozz,and Roasted Padrons

Memorial Day weekend with A&B visiting from SaMo. Spent Sunday morning picking up great deals at the Farmer's Market with the intention of making salads and flatbreads. However, our lunch at Belcampo turned into dinner and we came home for a couple of vegetable dishes and homemade ice cream.  We roasted the beets, and the stone fruits, figured may as well keep putting stuff in the oven since it was already on (the padrons, and even fava skins, which were not as good as B wanted). 

05 May 25, 2014 - Farmers Market Finds - Roasted Nectar-Aprium ice cream, Beet Greens with Guanciale, Smashed Beets with Lemony Yogurt Vinaigrette, Crushed Fava with Pt. Reyes Mozz, and Roasted Padrons


2-3 small bunches beets, greens removed, cleaned chopped
1/2 small sweet onion, sliced
hunk of guanciale (probably 1/2 lb, ours was $9)
pickled beets for garnish


Slice the guanciale, place in pan and cover with water. Cook on med/hi until water is pretty low. With wooden spoon, scrape off the brown bits on the bottom (it will be sticky and will need work). Make sure the scraped up bits are evenly distributed, flip any meat that looks like one side is browning. Continue allowing to cook at med/hi until you hear more simmer. Stir semi-frequently to make sure there is nothing sticking to the bottom, flip meat to keep it even. At this point the oil should be forming fine simmer bubbles, reduce heat to med or med/low. Allow to simmer, flipping when necessary until meat is evenly crusted.  Pour 2 T oil (try to pour only oil and not the bits of browned meat.

*What we did do: use 2 separate, fatty pieces, to cook half a small sweet onion, sliced, and then the greens. Greens were removed to wait for the guanciale to finish.  
* What I would do next time: render the fat first (as above), then use the rendered fat to cook the oil and greens

Pickled beets: slice 2 small chioggia beets. In jar, add about 1/3 warm water, 1 tsp sugar, 1.5 tsp salt, swirl to dissolve.  Add a few peppercorns, a bay leaf, and a couple allspice berries. Add 2- 3 T champagne vinegar, swil, and add beets- let sit for no less than 45 min.

After greens are cooked, toss with crispy cooked guanciale and the remaining rendered grease, top with pickled beets, serve.

Other ideas:
* use only half of what we did make for dinner. Use the rest the following morning with eggs for breakfast.
* reserve half the meat/grease for use another time- it has a lot of flavor and is quite salty 
* add a bit of crushed red pepper for spice.

* Based on Bon Appetite June 2014 recipe (see below)

- 2-3 bunches small beets
- 2 T oil/fat (we used rendered guanciale grease)
- chopped basil
- lemon zest  (half lemon)
- juice from lemon 
- 1/2 yogurt

Roast beets for 45 min in 400 degree oven, covered tightly in foil. Cool, uncovered and peel. Smash beets on a cutting board, add to pan with grease and cook until browned-- need at least med/hi to get temp right.
Mix lemon, zest, yogurt, basil, a bit of oil, and s&P. Combine all and serve.

* I would want to try with more herbs, including parsley and the mint
* the recipe calls for making a lemon vinaigrette and then serving topped with yogurt, I'd like to try it that way
* would like to try with labneh or even burrata, or ricotta
* this might be great served on toasts

- About a pound of Favas, taken out of the pod, not fully shelled
- 1 mozz ball
- about 1/4 cup shaved parm (grana padano)
- bread/toast (used the dried crusts from bread used for the bread soup)

Add favas, shells on, to salted boiling water for 2-3 min *I'd stay closer to 2 min next time. Remove favas from boiling water, allow to cool a bit, then shell.  Mash with potato masher or use immersion blender.  Add the parm and EVOO, S&P to taste.

1 basket padrons (Tomatero Farms)

Toss the peppers in oil and S&P, put in 400 degree oven for 15 min- that's it!

* Based on a favorite at Sweet Rose Creamery at the Brentwood Country Mart
* The Farmer's Market had $0.50/lb fruits- apriums and nectarines- many quite soft

- about a pound of the stone fruits
- 3/4 cup liquid (we used 1/2 c 2% milk + 1/4 c cream)
- 1/2 cup sugar (baker's)
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 T amaretto

- roast pitted fruits, skin down, at 400 for an hour
* I think we could have done this for 35 min... the juice burned and we got more black bits that we needed
- add to blender/f-processor with liquid
- in gelato machine...


Roasted Apricot Ice Cream with Almond Praline Ripple

Roasted Apricot Ice Cream with Almond Praline Ripple
Almond Praline Ripple
1/2 Cup Almonds
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Water
1 Teaspoon Corn Syrup
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Roasted Apricot Ice Cream
1 lb Apricots
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3/4 Cup Coconut Milk
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Amaretto
First, you'll want to make the almond praline ripple. Start by combining the sugar, water, and salt into a small saucepan and placing it on the stove over medium heat. Cook the mixture for about 10 - 12 minutes, until it caramelizes and turns a deep amber color. Quickly stir in the almonds to coat, and pour everything out onto a Silpat. Let it cool completely before breaking it into pieces and processing into a smooth paste. Drizzle in the oil, and it should become the consistency of somewhat runny peanut butter. Cover and let rest in the fridge while you make the ice cream.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a sheet pan.
Wash and thoroughly dry your apricots before slicing them in half and removing the pits. Place the halves with the cut sides up on your prepared pan, and drizzle them all with the oil. Roast them for about 20 minutes, until the are so tender that they can scarcely hold themselves together anymore.
Let the apricots cool a bit before scooping them all into your food processor and pureeing them. Once smooth, add in the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, and amaretto, processing to combine. Chill the mixture thoroughly in your fridge before freezing it in your ice cream maker as per the manufacturer's directions.
After freezing in the machine, pour the ice cream out into a plastic tub and drizzle the almond praline paste on top. Use a spatula to marble it in, cover, and quickly move it into your freezer so that it can solidify.

Save to My ReciCrushed Beets with Lemon Vinaigrette
This two-part cooking technique adds layers of texture—a creamy inside and a crisp outside.


  • 2 pounds mixed small or medium beets (such as Chioggia, red, and/or golden), scrubbed
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup (lightly packed) fresh mint leaves, plus more
  • 2 tablespoons torn fresh dill, plus more
  • ½ cup labneh (Lebanese strained yogurt) or plain Greek yogurt
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)


Calories (kcal) 300 Fat (g) 22 Saturated Fat (g) 3.5 Cholesterol (mg) 5 Carbohydrates (g) 24 Dietary Fiber (g) 7 Total Sugars (g) 13 Protein (g) 5 Sodium (mg) 310


    View Step-by-Step Directions

    • Preheat oven to 400°. Divide beets between 2 large sheets of foil. Drizzle beets on each sheet with ½ Tbsp. oil; season with kosher salt and pepper and wrap up foil around beets. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet until tender, 40–50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then, using a paper towel, rub skins from beets (they should slip off easily). Crush beets with the bottom of a small bowl (it’s alright if they fall apart).
    • Meanwhile, whisk lemon zest, lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; set vinaigrette aside.
    • Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beets, season with kosher salt and pepper, and cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to bowl with vinaigrette, add ¼ cup mint and 2 Tbsp. dill, and toss to coat.
    • Serve beets and dollops of labneh drizzled with more oil, topped with more herbs, and seasoned with pepper and sea salt.

    Friday, May 16, 2014

    Food Dreams - Cheese! 2014.05.16 Belgian cheese with celery salt, and L'Amuse aged Gouda

    Food Dreams: CHEESE!  Belgian cheese with celery salt snack, and contraband L'Amuse

    I woke up this morning thinking of the semi-soft white cheese sprinkled with celery salt that we enjoyed on a bike ride through a small town in Belgium.  Talk about a craving... I think that my thoughts began very subconsciously because on Tuesday I tasted some flavored salt at a shop in the Ferry Building, one of them was a fennel pollen salt, and it was delicious.  It must have reminded me of celery salt, and so a memory of celery salt was bubbling up...  Also, on Tuesday I was on my way to an event where I tasted an incredible cheese (almost like mimolette), and so the two food thoughts were swimming around together.

    Last October we visited J&V-T in Belgium at the end of our Italian cycling and amalfi trip.  We went on a fun bike ride along a waterway to see an incredible boat lift and we stopped for delicious beer at a local fisherman bar.  We had our beer outdoors and I ordered a cup of instant mushroom soup, which was not too bad and much needed at the time.  They also gave us a couple of small bowls of cheese topped with celery salt- one of the tastiest snacks I have ever had.  We asked for what kind of cheese it was, they said it was "just cheese".  I need to have some of that soon...

    According to this travel site it was probably either Damme or Gouda.  And I can't stop thinking about it-- I don't think it warrants a trip to the ferry building's Cowgirl Creamery shop, but I wonder if it means I can go to Pt. Reyes (ride out there?) to the CC shop there.  I could just go to the cheese counter at the MV Whole Foods, they might have something good.

    We got home last night from from a fun night out with J&E-W where we did a non-happy hour at Hog Island in the ferry building for Sweetwaters and cocktails, then had ice cream from Humphry Slocomb (I had the secret breakfast with caramel and frosted almonds- lots of bourbon in that..) and went to the Off The Grid in the Presidio and capped it off at the Buena Vista.  They gave us an awesome 2nd wedding gift of beautiful cheese knives and all I wanted was to get home and use them on the contraband cheese in our fridge!  
    When we got home I ate a few pieces and it was all I could stuff in.

    This cheese was discovered at a LMU alumni and friends event a couple of nights prior, held at One Market where they had overflowing bowls of it.  I felt determined to figure out what it was so I could find more later.  Thankfully, we found it right away on our little stop at the CC shop.
    More info on L'Amuse aged gouda at the bottom of this post

    The other cheese I have not been able to stop thinking about (yes, Bay Blue, but that is a constant background thing) is the Point Reyes Mozzarella.  I picked up some at the Farmer's Market recently and we ate it with some tomatoes and red pepper.  It tasted so incredibly delicious, exactly like the cheese we had in Positano from this shop:

    I will need to find an excuse to buy more at some point soon



    L'Amuse Signature Gouda

    Unlike other goudas, this cheese is never matured in cooler temperatures, allowing it to develop fuller flavors. Made in the Netherlands with milk from Holstein Friesian cows, it is aged for two years. Because this cheese is made year-round, the flavor, as a result of the varying milk, will change slightly with the seasons.
    Typically, the paste is a deep amber color with well-distributed protein crystals. The aroma shows roasted notes of hazelnut and caramel. It is always creamy with slightly salty, nutty notes and a very deep, complex, long finish.
    Farm / Company: Essex Street Cheese Co.
    Affineur: Fromagerie L'Amuse
    City, State:
    Region: Beemster
    Country: Holland
    Milk Type: Cow
    Milk Treatment: Pasteurized
    Rennet: Traditional
    Rind: Wax
    Texture: Firm
    Aging: 2 years
    Size(s): 35 pound wheel
    L'Amuse Signature Gouda L’Amuse Signature Gouda is made at the Cono cheesemaking plant in Northern Holland. The wheels are hand-selected and shipped to the maturing facilities of L’Amuse cheese shop in Santpoort-Noord, where the are matured under the specifications of Betty Koster, cheesemonger extraordinaire and the owner of L’Amuse cheese shop.
    Dutch housewife during Renaissance, Holland 1650
    Unlike most Dutch Goudas, L’Amuse signature Gouda is not matured in cooler temperatures. This mid temperature affinage (cheese maturing) in the cheese cellar allows the carefully selected cheeses to develop a fully rounded flavor. The cheeses are matured for 2 years and are sent to us at their optimum age.
    The paste color is a deep amber, with well-distributed protein crystals. The aroma shows roasted notes such as hazelnut and caramel with some meaty and cellar notes. This hard cheese has a spectacular texture that is velvety and melts in the mouth. The flavor is nutty and salty with hints of burnt caramel ending with a complex, long finish.
    Wilde Weide Gouda is a farmstead, organic, raw milk cheese, made in very small quantities. The dairy farm is situated on a small island in South Holland and is owned by Jan and Roos van Schie who make the cheese from the organic milk of their herd of Montbeliarde and red Friesian cows. We bring in the cheeses at 15 months, when the  flavors have developed complexity and depth. Hints of Bourbon laced with butter are unmistakable on the palate.



    For many more photos of L’Amuse Signature Gouda and Wilde Weide Gouda, click here

    Beer and Cheese Pairing 


    Beer and Cheese

    by: BeerAdvocate on 04-04-2001
    Beer and cheese? The idea of the twosome is odd for many to swallow when in fact the marriage of beer and cheese goes way back. During the Middle Ages in Belgium, monasteries were known for their exceptional beers and cheeses - a staple of their daily diets and form of income. Even today, most beer bars in Belgium will serve small bowls of cubed semi-soft cheese sprinkled with celery salt to accompany your beer. What occurs is a gastronomic sensation of heavenly proportions. 

    But I thought wine went with cheese? 
    Sure it does, and that's what the public is fed by the mainstream "food & wine" press. Cheese can make a cheap wine palatable, even compliment a great wine on occasion, however the pairing of wine with most foods (especially cheese) is often a gastronomic catastrophe on the taste buds. Think about it, it's harsh sometimes. The overpowering acidity of wine usually kills any chance that your delicate taste buds have of actually enjoying a pairing. But hey, this is not a piece on wine bashing nor do we totally hate wine, so let's move on. 

    Traditionally, beer and cheese are farmhouse products. In fact, not so long ago the average farmer's diet consisted of beer, cheese and cold meat; commonly referred to in England as a "ploughman's" lunch and a menu item in pubs to this day. Farmers often made cheese when they had an abundance of milk that they wanted to keep and brewed during the winter when they couldn't farm. And both beer and cheese have a similar origin, grass. Barley is a cereal grass used in making beer and milk is a by-product of a cow eating grass. As a result, beer and cheese complement each other by sharing some common characteristics in both aroma and flavor, while the carbonation in beer also lifts the palate and brings out many nuances in the cheese. 

    So how do you pair beer and cheese? 
    First and foremost use your own personal preference whether you are cooking with cheese or just severing alone. Try pairing complex beers with complex cheeses. You can also try and make a perfect match or play around and make subtle contrasts. Here are some personal examples: 

  • Feta and Goat Cheese work well with Wheat Beers, typically the more pungent the cheese the more of a full character you want in your Wheat Beer. Weihenstephan Hefe-Weizen, Schneider Hefe-Weizen and UFO Hefeweizen are suitable pairings. 
  • Mascarpone, a cow's cream formless cheese that is used in desserts and sauces, pairs great with most Fruit Beers. Magic Hat #9, Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, Melbourne Bros. Apricot or Strawberry. 
  • American Cheese, Muenster, Havarti and Monterey Jack with moderately hoppy Pilsners like Harpoon Pilsner, Radeberger and Stella Artios. 
  • Colby, Gloucester and Cheddar with robust Brown Ales. Sam Smith Nut Brown, Shipyard Brown or Brooklyn Brown will suffice quite well. 
  • Gorgonzola and Creamy Blues meld well with Barleywines. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Fuller's Vintage Ale, Rouge Old Crustacean and Brooklyn Monster make for a great duo. 
  • Roquefort and Stilton have a strong pungent character so there is need for a Strong Belgian Ales like Lucifer, Duvel, Chimay Blue, Northcoast Pranqster, and Unibroue Don de Dieu. 
  • Gruyére, Emmental and Swiss with Bock Beer, Dark Lagers or Oktoberfest Beer. Their sizable maltiness plays well against the meaty nut-like character. Sam Adams Octoberfest or Double Bock, Harpoon Octoberfest or Munich Dark, Salavator, Celebrator and Dornbusch Bock are appropriate picks. 
  • Parmesan or Romano with moderately hoppy Pale Ales and Amber Ales like Harpoon Ale, Stone Cat Ale, Ipswich Ale, Shoal's Pale Ale, Magic Hat Bob's 1st Ale. 
  • When cheese is part of a salad, try enjoying it with an India Pale Ale (IPA), with their citrus-like bitterness and fruity maltiness. Harpoon IPA, Wolaver's IPA and Tremont IPA are all suitable. 

    Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, and the American Dairy Association (ADA) partnered to create a simple guide. It's an ideal starting point for the novice beer and cheese enthusiast. 
  • Sharp Cheddar with Pale Ale 
  • Feta with Wheat Beer 
  • Mascarpone with Fruit Beer 
  • American Cheese with Pilsner 
  • Colby with Brown Ale 
  • Gorgonzola with Barleywine 
  • Gruyére with Bock Beer 
  • Swiss Cheese with Octoberfest Beer 
  • Parmesan with Amber Lager 

    Some tips on serving: 
  • Buy raw milk cow, goat (chèvres) or sheep cheeses. Meaning unpasteurized unprocessed whole milk cultures. Pasteurized cheese has many of the country scents and flavours removed, where raw milk cheese is rich, full and complete and supports traditional cheese making. Goat and sheep cheeses are creamy soft cheeses with distinct assertive flavours with considerably less calories and saturated fat over cow milk cheeses. 
  • If you are going to use crackers, use something that is neutral like English wafer crackers or flat bread. 
  • When serving on its own, always serve cheese at room temperature. 

    Just remember to have fun with this, experiment with your own tastes and understand that beer is the most complimentary fermented beverage on the market -- with all types of food and even on its own. 

    Behold the power of beer and cheese.