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Posts from the ‘Summer’ Category

Well, well, well… (remember me?)


This poor little blog has been neglected the last couple of months by yours truly.  Blame my new job!  I’ve been traveling like crazy and have hardly been home to cook.  So to talk you into sticking around…here’s as much of a post as I can get out there.

Let’s start with the most recent addition to our kitchen…

For my birthday, Woody gave me a baking steel, from Modernist Cuisine. Which is very cute and thoughtful…he really knows the way to my heart.  It’s through Pizza!  And a couple of nights ago…the first time, we’ve both been in town at the same time in weeks, we made one of these…

…actually we made two…and left only crumbs!

This is the closest we have come to making Neapolitan style pizzeria pizza, with a blistered crust, fresh buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes and fresh basil.  I can’t wait to have it again!

I recently taught a 10 day course in Chico, CA and during a free afternoon, found myself touring the Sierra Nevada Brewery, which of course finishes with a tasting.  The hoppier the beer the better!  I loved the Hoptimum – it has an IBU (International Bitterness Unit) 100.  And their dry hop cold storage room smelled amazing!

Their operation is impressive, even more so because of their emphasis on being green! (Large solar array, hydrogen fuel cells, water treatment plant, etc.)  I really enjoyed Chico…quite a fun little town.  Of particular note is Chico Chai, Avocado Peach Margaritas at this place, and breakfast at Cafe Coda.

Feeling like something on the lighter side…

I experimented with a cold Soba noodle salad with seared tofu, sautéed mushrooms, steamed broccoli and fresh snow peas with a carrot, ginger miso dressing.  It needs a little tweaking, but certainly filled our bellies!

In early May, I had a craving for Chicken Tortilla Soup and whipped this up!

Those are house-fried tortilla strips on top, and the bowl is not ready until you’ve squeezed some fresh lime juice over the top and added fresh avocado as well!

Woody ordered some chile powders from New Mexico and was intrigued by this Blue Corn Pancake Mix.  We threw a batch together one morning, and can now speak from experience…it’s delicious!

Reaching way back (like late April), we made this awesome salad with roasted golden beets, fresh hazelnuts from Oregon, bacon and goat cheese!

I’m about to hit the road again tomorrow and I’ll be gone until the end of June.  I’m SOOOOO looking forward to July, summer produce at the farmer’s market, time to cook, patio sitting and a few slow weeks!

Until July…

Cheers!

 

Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake


Prompted to bring a dessert over to a friend’s house for a small potluck dinner, I began scheming to find a dessert that was not overly sweet, involved a bundt pan (the husband’s been asking for of a bundt-something-or-other), and brought out the best of late summer (no pumpkin or other quintessential fall ingredients involved).

Thank you Interwebs…and Martha Stewart!

I stumbled upon her recipe for Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake and it seemed perfect!  A buttery, citrus cake with the added brightness of ginger.  I am definitely adding this one to my recipe box, it was quick, a bit intriguing with the crystallized ginger and had just the right amount of sweetness.  Don’t you just hate it when Martha is…well, Martha?

Lemon-Ginger Bundt Cake (via marthastewart.com)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a standard 12-cup bundt pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, lemon zest, ginger, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in lemon juice.
  2. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and sour cream in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until incorporated (do not overmix). Spoon batter into prepared pan, and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Firmly tap pan on a work surface to level batter.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes (if cake browns too quickly, tent loosely with aluminum foil). Let cake cool in pan 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. (To store, wrap cake in plastic, and keep at room temperature, up to 3 days.) Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

As previously mentioned, we carted this bundt over to our friends and let it cool a bit more before dusting with powdered sugar (as Martha suggests), and unfortunately ended up with no pictures of the sliced cake as it disappeared quite quickly.

I just love how bundt cakes get that lovely dark crust on the outside and hide their fluffy cake texture inside.  I think I’ll be making this again soon!

Roasted Corn Cakes with Tomato Avocado Salsa


I know that it is now, technically, October…however, Los Angeles is not behaving that way and therefore I feel completely justified cooking like it is still seriously summer…as in triple digits!  Also…I wasn’t joking when I said we have been on a serious corn and tomato kick – and this recipe uses both!

I first stumbled on this recipe through Pinterest (you can follow @lizfisch) and then I happened to have everything in the house to whip up a batch.  The best part is that the source of the pin is easy to find.  Thanks to EzraPoundCake for posting the recipe, which actually comes from “Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen“.  I made a few changes to the recipe from EzraPoundCake, including roasting the corn before shucking and not adding any jalapeno peppers (didn’t have any on hand…and as previously discussed…I can’t take the heat!) to the tomato salsa.

Corn Cakes

3 ears of corn, shucked and roasted
1 cup flour
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup thinly sliced basil
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. well-shaken buttermilk
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Canola oil for frying
Chopped Tomato & Avocado Salsa (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a brown paper bag or paper towels.
Cut the corn from the cobs into a large bowl, and scrape the stripped cobs with the back of the knife (or a spoon) to release the juices into the bowl.

I find the easiest way to do this is to set a small bowl upside down in a larger bowl and use the smaller bowl as the base for the cob.  The kernels tend to fly all over the place as you are cutting them off and you can maximize the stability of the cob while also catching the majority of the kernels.

Place 2 cups of the corn kernels into a food processor, and pulse several times, until the corn is slightly puréed but still chunky.

Scrape into the bowl with the remaining corn kernels.  Add flour, cornmeal, onion, basil, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper to the corn. Stir to mix.

Add the eggs, buttermilk and butter, and stir just to combine. (Do not overmix.)


Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add just enough canola oil to barely cover the bottom, and heat until sizzling hot.

One heaping tablespoon at a time, scoop the batter into the skillet. Cooking in batches of 4 to 5 to avoid overcrowding, fry the cakes 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown.


Drain on the lined baking sheet, and place in the oven to keep warm while cooking the remaining corn cakes. Serve warm topped with a heap of Chopped Tomato and Avocado Salsa.

Chopped Tomato and Avocado Salsa

Makes about 2 cups

1-2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 scallion, minced and trimmed
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of ½ lime
1½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp. white wine vinegar
kosher or sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

Place all of the ingredients (except the avocado) in a bowl, and stir to mix. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve, for up to 2 days.

Just before serving, add the avocado, and mix gently.

Once you’ve got everything ready to go, stack two corn cakes on a plate and top with salsa, garnish with more of the freshly chopped herbs, sliced scallions or minced red onion…any or all of them will do.

Anyone still hanging onto summer favorites out there?  Anyone…?  Bueller…?

Okay, I’ll make a promise…I’ll move on to fall dishes, as soon as the LA cools off a bit…I’m not asking for much…let’s say, highs in the 70′s?  Until then, I consider it summer!

Deal!

 

 

Fast & Fresh (no-cook) Tomato Sauce with Pasta


We are hitting the end of the summer produce season, and I am guessing that a few of you out there have already felt the first hints of fall with some crisp mornings, the sun setting a bit earlier and of course the changing of routines with the commencing of school and shifting away from the relaxed days of summer work.

I am in denial about this particular change of seasons and refuse to shift my culinary tastes quite yet.

The end of summer typically also means a surplus of a few items…the most famous of which are zucchini and of course, tomatoes!

This dish is the answer to an overabundance of tomatoes and a seeming under-abundance of time.

3-4 medium/large tomatoes (or equivalent of cherry tomatoes, roma’s etc.)
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bunch of fresh basil
½ tsp. dried oregano
2-3 tbsp.’s of olive oil (more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of fresh pasta (refrigerated – like Buitoni or similar brands)
parmesan cheese to garnish

  1. Chop tomatoes into roughly the same size chunks – I quartered the cherry tomatoes and used that as a size guide for cutting up the larger tomatoes.  Put all the chopped tomatoes into a bowl and include all the tomato juice and liquid that leaked out during the chopping.
  2. Chop or mince the garlic – the smaller the pieces, the more pungent the garlic flavor will be.
  3. Julienne the basil leaves, leaving a few whole for the final garnish.
  4. Add the basil, garlic and the dried oregano to the tomatoes and liberally salt and pepper the mixture.
  5. Drizzle the olive oil over the mixture and stir gently to combine and let the flavors start to marry.

Resist the urge to eat this by the spoonful!

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  Once the pasta has drained, put it back into the pot and dump in the tomato mixture and mix the two together.  This is a good time to add a bit more olive oil and salt.  Remember to always season dishes as you are cooking, and taste it along the way.

Serve up the pasta into bowls and top with grated parmesan and a few leaves of basil.  A slice or two of crusty bread is a nice accompaniment to help sop up all the garlicky tomato essence.  This dish is best enjoyed al fresco even if you have to throw on a heavy sweater and long pants to keep warm!  :)

Do you have dishes that act as a protest to seasonal change?  A culinary equivalent of indian summer?  What are your favorite recipes to utilize all of those late summer vegetables that seem to grow exponentially quicker as the days of summer ween?

Orange Polenta Cake with Blackberries & Plums


Desserts in the summer should be delightful.  Fresh and vibrant.  I think you get a little more leeway with summer desserts…it can be an unexpected little something to try…so serious expectations.  So I say, run with it.  Try something new, be a little different and surprising!  Polenta cake fits the bill.  Think of this as somewhere in between corn bread and a citrus cake.

(Although I did not get the post up right on time, this cake was inspired by the Daring Cooks August Challenge…credit where credit is due!)

Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge of cornmeal! Rachael provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we’d never tried before – opening our eyes to literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes!

Original recipe can be found here at from the Bon Appetit website and is also on epicurious!

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup medium-fine polenta or organic cornmeal (such as Bob’s Red Mill)1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons (packed) finely grated orange peel
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup whole-milk greek yogurt
3 plums, sliced with pits removed
½ pint blackberries

Preparation

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan.  (I used a mini bundt pan and a quarter size loaf pan which seemed to hold all the batter.)  Dust pan with flour; tap out excess.

Whisk 1 1/4 cups flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

I used Golden Pheasant Polenta and the texture was perfect – coarse enough to notice but not so much that it ruined the texture of the cake batter!

Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and orange peel in large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with yogurt in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Spread batter evenly in pan.Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes (my mini pans took less time…I started them with 35 minutes and tested every few minutes after).

In the meantime, prepare the plums and blackberries so they have enough time to macerate.

Halve the plums (I used 3) and remove the pit and then slice somewhat thinly.  Add in a handful of blackberries and sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar.

Toss gently and let sit for at least an hour.

Transfer to rack; cool in pan 15 minutes.

Run knife around cake edges to loosen. Invert cake onto rack, then invert again on rack (top side up). Cool completely. 

Cut cake crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; serve with sugared plums and blackberries.

And for a little extra ummmpffff…top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

{Epilogue}

This cake was delicious the next morning, sliced, toasted and spread with just a bit of butter.  I may have eaten it for a week straight this way!

Enjoy!

Fresh Corn & Parmesan Pesto with Fettucine


I don’t know about you…but, I measure my summer in corn and tomatoes.  Looking through recent photos…I’ve gone a little heavy on the corn as of late.  I was flipping through a cookbook at my parents and this recipe for Corn and Parmesan Pesto with Tagliatelle immediately caught my eye!  Fresh pasta with a fresh corn pesto topped accented with a little bacon and fresh basil just screamed SUMMER to me!  I had to make it and make it, I did.

The book is The Farm: rustic recipes for a year of incredible food by Ian Knauer, and after making this dish and drooling over the photos throughout…it is definitely on my cookbook wish-list!  He also happens to have a blog as I found out while researching a bit and I have now bookmarked this recipe (dare I try yet another buttermilk panna cotta?) as well as this one for future endeavors.

I don’t know why I had not thought of corn pesto before…but it will for sure have a place in my summer repertoire from now on!  Hmmm…I wonder what other types of pesto I could make?  Mushroom pesto…what about a zucchini and summer squash pesto…?

The recipe (courtesy of Ian Knauer) is shown below and includes a few adaptations I made…adding bacon and scallions and using store-bought fresh fettucine pasta.

Ingredients:
3 tbsp.’s plus 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
kosher salt and black pepper
½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
8 ounces of tagliatelle or fettucine
5-7 strips of thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
3-4 scallions, green and light green parts only, thinly sliced
¾ cup coarsely torn fresh basil leaves

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmer.  Add the corn, onion, garlic, 1¼ teaspoons of salt, and ¾teaspoon pepper and sauté until the corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes.
  2. Transfer 1½ cups of the corn kernels to a small bowl.  Scrape the remaining corn mixture into a food processor.  Add the parmesan and the toasted pine nuts.  With the machine running, add the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil and blend until the pesto is almost smooth.
  3. Cook the pasta in a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, according to package directions until al dente.  Reserve 1½ cups of the pasta-cooking water, then drain the pasta.  Return the pasta to the pot.
  4. Add the corn pesto, the reserved corn mixture and ½ cup of the basil leaves as well as the crumbled crispy bacon.
  5. Toss the pasta over medium heat until warmed through, adding the reserved pasta-cooking water to thin to the desired consistency, 2 to 3 minutes.  Season the pasta to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Transfer the pasta to a large shallow bowl.  Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup basil leaves and the sliced scallions and serve with additional grated parmesan.

I doubled the recipe as I was feeding a crowd, and having leftover bacon (what a phenomenom…leftover…bacon…?) from breakfast, I couldn’t resist adding it to the dish.  I think the smoky bacon flavor countered the sweetness of the corn, the bite of the onions and the freshness of the basil really nicely.

Are you a corn purist?  Eating it straight up on the cob with melted butter and salt…or do you prefer your corn as kernels and mixed in and amongst other ingredients?

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie


For many years there was truly only one smoothie that I could get behind.  Strawberry banana.  Period.  Tropical flavors aren’t really my thing; mentioning a juice-fast in my kitchen may as well be a punishable offense; and (surprise, surprise…) I’m a bit picky when it comes to fruit on my plate or in my glass.  However, I have broadened my smoothie horizons as of late, learning to love a non-berry-banana concoction.

Only 5 ingredients and poof…you have a delicious and filling breakfast.  I start with the banana…just peel and dump it into the blender.  Next, I add a large spoonful of peanut butter.  We happen to use creamy, but since you’re blending, the crunchy kind would work fine.  Next, I pour in a 3-4 tbsp.’s of almond milk and then somewhere between ½ to 1 cup of whole milk.  (I always start with less and add more if it is too thick.)

Top with a handful or scoop of ice, again, you can always add a little more later.  Blend away until it is smooth and creamy.

You want it to be thick without being icy but still thin enough that you can suck it through a straw with no problem!  When making this for two, I start with 2 whole bananas and then guess on the amounts of everything else.  With the temps being so high lately, this is a great cool way to start the morning.

What’s been your favorite smoothie recipe this summer?  What recipes do you use to help beat the heat?

Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Shaved Baby Zucchini & Toasted Pepitas


When someone utters the words “…this is the best thing we’ve made…ever!”  ’nuff said.

Squash blossoms are available for only a short period of time in the summer and are the epitome of ‘seasonal’.  They are typically picked in the morning and brought to the farmer’s market that day and are best used within a couple of hours.  This dish is perfectly simple and refreshingly light without being short on flavor.

I spotted the original recipe on epicurious as we were walking through the farmer’s market trying to solidify our dinner plans.  Our modified recipe is shown below.

Besides squash blossoms, in looking for shallots, we stumbled upon green shallots, which I don’t believe I’ve used before.  I am positive the dish would have been delightful with regular, good ‘ole shallots…but I believe the green shallots made it just a touch more special!

Let’s talk tomatoes!  Tomatoes in the summer are serious business.  It is not summer without tomatoes that need nothing other than to be plucked from the vine and tossed in one’s mouth and with a tiny squeeze of the jaw burst forth with flavor and juice.  These miniature (sometimes referred to as Sweet 100′s) citrusy orange delights would have been so offended had we tried to cook them…they would have sprouted legs and walked right out of the kitchen (original recipe called for roasting the tomatoes).

I am often made fun of for appreciating things that come in small proportions (read: I love anything that is small or comes in a miniature size).  Prime examples of such behavior: I refuse to use anything other than the mini-taster spoons when eating ice cream from a shop; we shouldn’t even talk about the number of small bowls that crowd my cupboards; and I am addicted to small notepads and mini-books and have recently discovered some half-size mechanical pencils; so my love for baby vegetables should not surprise anyone!

How can you resist these little guys!?!

Make sure to roast the pepitas, the nuttiness and the crunch are very important for the final dish!

For squash blossoms

2 teaspoons olive oil
1-2 oz mild fresh goat cheese (6 tablespoons) at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted until they puff
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 male squash blossoms with stems (not with baby zucchini), stems trimmed to 1 inch

Filling:

Stir together goat cheese, cream, pumpkin seeds, basil, salt, and pepper in a bowl and set aside.

Pipe filling into each blossom and twist ends of petals gently to close.  We used a ziplock bag and cut off the tip to pipe the filling into the squash blossoms.  Chill them covered, until ready to fry.

*We realized that we should have made the mixture immediately upon returning from the farmer’s market and filled the blossoms as soon as possible as the flowers were open when we bought them and closed up tighter and tighter as the day went on making it more difficult to fill them later on without ripping the delicate petals.

For vinaigrette and shaved squash

1 tablespoon rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 tablespoon minced green shallots
2 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3-4 baby zucchini, rinsed and stems discarded

Purée vinegar, shallot, oil, pepper, and salt in a blender until smooth and emulsified.

Slice squash paper-thin (lengthwise) using a mandoline, then overlap squash slices decoratively on 2 plates.  Do this shortly before frying the blossoms and plating the dish, otherwise the slices will dry out.

For tempura batter and frying

6 cups vegetable oil (preferably canola or grapeseed)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chilled sparkling water

Make tempura batter and fry blossoms:
Heat 2 inches of oil in a 3-quart saucepan to 350°F on thermometer.

Set a bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water, then whisk together flour and salt in smaller bowl. Then whisk in sparkling water until combined well.

Working in batches of 2 or 3, coat blossoms in batter, lifting each out by its stem and letting excess drip off, then fry, turning, until batter is crisp (it will not brown), 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer blossoms as fried with a slotted spoon to paper towels, drain, then season with salt.

For topping

2 tablespoons green (hulled) pumpkin seeds, toasted until they puff
Handful of small basil leaves (preferably Thai) or sliced larger leaves
1 cup small cherry tomatoes (sweeter the better), halved lengthwise or served whole 

Assemble plates:

Drizzle vinaigrette over squash slices, then arrange 3 fried blossoms in middle of each plate. Sprinkle remaining oven-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and basil around blossoms and season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately and enjoy with a glass of white wine – we went with a 2008 Russian River Chardonnay.

The crisp raw zucchini where perfect paired with the crunch of the tempura and the richness of the goat cheese…add in the juicy tomatoes and the acid from the vinaigrette…and it was perfection!  Seriously…perfection!

We are dying to make this again…but just might have to wait until squash blossoms are back in season next summer!

What are your favorite completely seasonal dishes for summer?

 

3rd Time’s a Charm (almost) – Coconut Milk & Key Lime Panna Cotta


Update:  Recipe should have included 1/4 cup of sugar…correction made below!  

Apparently, I am a glutton for punishment…I tried again.

But wait, you say, that doesn’t look like a vanilla bean buttermilk panna cotta…why didn’t you attempt the same recipe?  Well, because I am difficult.  I figured something had to go my way if I made a completely different recipe that included no dairy whatsoever, right?  Hmmm…the answer is not as clear as one might think – yes and no.

Success…YES!  (as it did not separate).  And FAIL…it didn’t actually totally set…but I have only myself to blame for this one.

In “collaborating” (read: angrily discussing) with my brother who seems to end up with nothing but perfection when he makes panna cotta (all varieties, I might add) at his restaurant…he may have mentioned that the amount of gelatin can be tricky when using coconut milk.  What seemed to be like an extreme amount of gelatin…was apparently necessary.  I did not believe the recipe and (of course) thought I knew better…so this one is completely.my.fault!  There’s always room for a 4th or 5th or 27th attempt, right?

Nonetheless, it tasted spot on!  Recipe can be found here (see below)…and I recommend following the recipe to the letter…and I’m sure that your panna cotta will work out absolutely perfectly!  (mostly due to the fact that I am nowhere near your kitchen and therefore my luck (or lack thereof) will have absolutely no influence on your end-result!)  I repeat…follow the directions!

I searched and searched to find the recipe I used…and to no avail…so unfortunately…you won’t have the opportunity to make the exact recipe that I managed to flub up…so find your own.  Go, make panna cotta and succeed!

From my memory and photos….here is the recipe!

Key Lime Coconut Milk Panna Cotta
1 can (15 oz.) of Coconut milk
I packet of gelatin
2 tbsp.’s of fresh key lime juice
1 tsp. of key lime zest
1/4 cup of sugar 

Pour lime juice into the sauce pan and sprinkle in the gelatin.  (my recipe indicated an entire packet of gelatin should be used…but I (incorrectly) assumed that I would end of milk bricks if I added it all since I was using half the milk previous recipes had called for with the same amount of gelatin.  Once it is bloomed, add in the zest and stir around a bit to make sure it is completely dissolved.

Next add in the coconut milk and sugar; heat gently until you see bubbles forming and there is steam rising.  Make sure you continue to stir during the heating so the gelatin, lime juice and zest remain suspended in the mixture.

Remove from heat and pour into small dishes or ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set.  I pulled one out later that evening to try it.  Once again, we had guests and I was trying to avoid another big let-down of serving what appears to be a delicious panna cotta hiding a secret gelatin layer…or ending up a soupy disaster.

That evening, the panna cotta had not set and I convinced myself that it obviously needed some more time in the chiller.  I unmolded it in a shallow bowl and we all nibbled spoonfuls.  Flavor…perfect – refreshing, lime-y and not overly coconut-y.  Texture…too soft…a little like thin yogurt.

The next morning when I pulled one out and plated it, it was certainly more set than the previous evening…but not that heavenly texture that panna cotta should be!

I will not give up.  I will not give up.  I will not give up.

Stay tuned for attempt #4.  I believe everyone has a cooking nemesis…like Kryptonite for Superman…perhaps panna cotta is my kryptonite!

What is your culinary nemesis?

Red, White & Blue Clafoutis


I am aware that the holiday has passed…but let’s be honest…I’m always a little late to the party in this respect.  I’d like to think it is because I am too busy enjoying the moment to post recipes prior to an actual holiday or event.  Come to think of it…I would be awful working at a monthly magazine or for a fashion designer…having to always think a couple of months ahead.  I digress.

Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful 4th of July celebration.  I did not spot a single fireworks display…most of the west is currently on fire so many cities were erring on the conservative side.  However, I did spend the evening at the Oakley Rodeo!

What follows is one of my favorite desserts to make…it’s light, delicious, totally adaptable to whatever fruit may be in season and therefore appropriate for all times of year and it is quick to make.  I first learned to make this here and it is traditionally made with cherries with their pits still in them.  I also weigh the dry ingredients and use the metric measurements as it just seems to come out better.

Red, White & Blue Clafoutis

100 grams sugar (2/3 cup±)
120 grams flour (1 cup±)
3 eggs
200 ml milk, lukewarm (1 cup±)
50 ml cream (¼ cup±)
5 grams baking powder (1 tsp.)
1-2 handfuls of blueberries and raspberries (or your choice of fruit – pears, plums, peaches, cherries, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (160ºC).

Butter and lightly sugar a heavy tart pan or dish and then chill.

Place fruit in a single layer  in the chilled and sugared dish.  The exact quantity of fruit is up to you, but pieces of fruit should not touch.

Weigh the dry ingredients (I made extra batter (1 and 1/3 recipes worth) for an additional individual clafoutis that never made the photographic cut) and mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Pour the batter into the dish very slowly and gently, taking care not to displace or move the berries too much.

Bake for 40 minutes until just barely beginning to brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or garnished with powdered sugar, fruit coulis, or whipped cream with a sprig of fresh mint.

I could seriously eat the entire thing all by myself!

What are your favorite summer desserts?

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