Thursday, July 21, 2011
Sweet, tart, and a little spicy, this refreshing fresca is perfect dressed up as a cocktail or dressed down as an easy summer drink. Mix up the flavors with white nectarines, peaches, or any type of orange you like.
8 yellow nectarines, sliced
2 blood oranges, peeled and sliced
10 mint leaves
1 serrano chili, split and deseeded
1 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons agave nectar
Water (to taste)
In a blender, combine the nectarines, oranges, mint, and chili. Puree until completely smooth (adding water if you need it to blend). Strain it and add lime juice and agave to taste. Serve in a pitcher with sliced serrano and orange, and a few sprigs of mint. Enjoy!
Monday, July 11, 2011
I don't know if y'all heard, but it's national ice cream month, and one of my favorite magazine blogs, Simply Stated from Real Simple, is hosting an ice cream social. What evil awesome genius would come up with this, you ask? Why, look no further than my lovely buddy Kristin Appenbrink, associate editor at RealSimple.com. We met up in NYC recently and she filled me in on her delicious ice cream plans and I swiftly asked if I could come along. I had been knocking around this "blueberry muffin ice cream" idea for a bit, mainly because I love the challenge and also because it fit into my cousin Rachel's red, white, and blue birthday theme. Bringing out the essence of a blueberry muffin in ice cream form, without just blending muffins into the batter, was a fun task, and like most fun tasks, it started with brown butter.
Brown butter, vanilla, and brown sugar to give the base that "just baked" flavor, sweet-tart blueberry compote for that perfect swirl, and cinnamon streusel crumbled throughout for a bit of texture and that muffin-top taste. The brown butter ice cream if great by itself, but the blueberry muffin tweak is definitely worth a shot. Enjoy!
For 2 pints
3 cups half and half
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 egg yolks
3/4 tsp kosher salt
4 oz butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup blueberry compote or jam
3 tablespoons cinnamon streusel
Simmer the butter on medium heat until takes on a nice golden brown color. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp. In a large pot, bring the half and half up to an almost boil over medium high heat. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks, sugars and salt until smooth. To temper the egg mixture, carefully whisk in about 1 cup of the hot liquid into the egg mixture until smooth. Then whisk the egg mixture into the remaining amount of half and half in the pot. Return to medium low heat, and cook up to 170 degrees F, constantly stirring along the bottom of the pot to ensure even cooking. Once it has reached the 170, remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and brown butter. Strain through a wire mesh strainer. Allow to cool to about room temperature in an ice bath and pop in the fridge.
Once the mixture is chilled through, put it in your ice cream maker. Once it's gotten pretty firm, pour the ice cream into a large bowl and fold in the blueberry compote and then the streusel so it ribbons through it. Put in a container and freeze until firm. Enjoy!
4 half pints blueberries
Juice of 3 limes
2 cups sugar
Sterilze 2 pint jars. Combine everything in a bowl to coat, and then heat over a medium flame until the blueberries liquify and if you stir a spoon through it, you can see the bottom of the pan for a beat. Basically, it should look kind of syrupy. Pour into the jars, tighten the lids, and flip upside-down until room temp. Keep refrigerated.
For Cinnamon Streusel:
1/2 cup flour
2 oz butter, cold and cubed
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Using your fingers or a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon and then mix in the butter until crumbly. Place on a baking sheet with a silicone mat and bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Break apart and mix the streusel up, and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Crumble and cool.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
I've always struggled with strawberries in baked goods. They're usually too sweet, kind of mushy, and if they happen to have enough acid they lose that lovely berry flavor. And anyway, who needs to bake strawberries when they're perfect unadorned? Ripe, juicy, fragrant, sweet, and tender, any additions would be gilding the lily.
Enter Laurel, my lovely friend and baking/LA History compatriot, who told me about a new "no bake" blueberry pie she tried recently. Gushing about the fresh, bright flavor, and hearing some "no bake pie" buzz on the radio waves from Evan Kleinman, my curiosity was piqued and we started brainstorming no bake candidates for summer fruit pies.
Wanting to prove my stomach wrong, I decided to go with strawberry. It's not baked, so it doesn't mess with the texture too much, and the addition of citrus and not too much sugar keeps the filling perfectly balanced. For that extra kick of pure strawberry flavor, sliced up fresh strawberries are piled on at the end. My favorite part of the pie though, is the lemon verbena whipped cream. It's the ultimate summer herb, imparting a citrus/mint/basil/earthy perfume to whatever it touches. It also makes lovely decaf tea. It's in season now, so I'm buying bunches of the stuff, but if you can't find it fresh, you can find it dried online pretty easily.
Light, creamy, fresh, citrusy, sweet, and all on a flakey butter pie crust. It's the dessert epitome of summer, and will be gone in a second (just ask Laurel's brothers). Enjoy!
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
2/3 cup water
4 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 pie crust, blind baked in a 9 inch pie tin or if you're short on time, bought from a store.
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
10 lemon verbena leaves (fresh or dried, and if they're hard to find, 4 lemon peels are fine)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
Note: To blind bake, roll out and place your dough in your pie pan; add a sheet of parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights (this is to ensure the pie keeps its shape). To fully blind bake, bake it at 425 F for 10-15 minutes or until the sides begin to brown. Remove the paper and beans/weights and reduce oven to 375 degrees, baking for 5 more minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt. Blend in water and 2 1/2 cups strawberries. Bring to a boil, stirring and roughly smashing the strawberries. Boil, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick, a minute or so. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cool.
For the lemon verbena whipped cream, combine the sugar and a 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and add the leaves. Simmer for 3 minutes (until the sugar is fully absorbed) and turn off the heat. Let the syrup fully cool. This can be done up to a week in advance for extra flavor. Strain the syrup and add it to the whipping cream along with the vanilla. Whip to form soft peaks.
Add the strawberry mixture to the pie crust, and top with the remaining fresh strawberries. Dollop the whipped cream in the center, and spread, still revealing the strawberries at the edge. Garnish with chopped strawberries. Enjoy!
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
It's a very small world. When my high school buddy Tim (who you might know from his wonderfully acerbic/insightful tweets) came out of the distant past and suggested we catch up over coffee, little did I know wild salmon would be in our future.
Tim had joined the PR world, with Alaskan Seafood as one of his clients. We immediately started brainstorming on what kind of video and recipe we could come up with featuring their amazing wild salmon. A few weeks later, and bam! Pan Seared Salmon with Pistachio Pesto and Roasted Fennel.
This recipe is delicious for two reasons: first, it's just delicious, so there's that; second, it's sustainable, wild, and healthy. Get ready for some info: Wild-caught Alaska salmon mature at a natural pace, and swim freely along Alaska's 34,000-mile coastline. The quality of flavor and fat is determined by where the fish swims, what it eats, and every other environmental factor it encounters. Alaska's icy, pure waters and the abundance of natural food give Alaska Salmon unparalleled flavor. Along with the delicious flavor, the wild salmon is completely sustainable, meaning, it's managed responsibly so that the wild salmon population isn't harmed or diminished, unlike practices at other conventional fisheries in the US.
Like I said, delicious and delicious. Enjoy!
1 salmon filet, skin on and scaled
1 tblsp pistachio pesto
1/2 fennel head
1/3 cup roasted unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup parmigiano
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups basil leaves
3 garlic cloves
To make the pesto, combine the pistachios, parm, garlic and basil in a food processor and pulse until combined into a paste. Add a large pinch of salt and one of pepper, and drizzle in oil as it forms a smooth sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
Thinly slice the fennel and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast for 20 minutes at 400 F, or until golden brown and crisp at the edges.
For the salmon, season both side of the filet with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat up a pan over a medium high flame and coat the pan with olive oil. Add the salmon, skin side down, and cook for 4 minutes. Flip, and cook for another 3 minutes, until golden brown.
Sprinkle the filet with the fennel and drizzle with the pesto. Enjoy!