Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sugar, Glitter, and Gold

If you are a Doctor Who fan you might understand what inspired the theme of this post- and you might not. Every year there is a Christmas special, and it is always crazy, science fiction-y, imaginative, artsy, and reminiscent of the holiday season. About two years ago the episode was a take off of A Christmas Carol. I thought it was a very intriguing show and was rather beautiful visually. What I thought most interesting, was the fish that floated around in the air above the foggy London- like town. Hence- the idea behind the little gold chocolate fish truffles I created to give as gifts.

Unfortunately, I missed the Doctor Who Christmas special this year. But I do look forward to seeing the rerun! If you have never seen the show I highly encourage it. I am the type who was never interested in science fiction before. Sure, the series is quite strange, but you do get used to it. It is just so creative, surprising and of course, British- what's not to love? I also find that its wackiness makes it one of those shows that is a good escape.

I had meant to get this post out before Christmas, but in many ways the holidays have been somewhat subdued this year. I know that we are all feeling a common sympathy for those who have gone through the many recent horrible tragedies. My family has also been mourning the passing of my grandfather. All of this sadness only makes it more critical to treasure what we have every day and surround ourselves by loved ones. Hopefully all can find some peace this holiday season.

I have been working on a magazine to post on my blog soon. It is a glimpse of this time of year in New Mexico, including photography of places, locally made products, traditional cuisine and recipes, and more! So stay tuned :)

Candied Grapefruit, Orange and Tangerine Peel
makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 yellow grapefruits
1 ruby grapefruit
3 cara cara oranges
1 naval orange
4 tangerines
1 3/4 cups sugar

1. With a sharp paring knife, slice off the ends of grapefruits, oranges, and tangerines. Following curve of fruit, cut away outermost peel, leaving most of the white pith on fruit. Slice peel lengthwise into 1/4 inch wide strips.
2. In a medium pot of boiling water, cook peel until tender, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer peel to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; spread in a single layer to dry slightly, about 15 minutes.
3. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil over high, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel and boil until it turns translucent and syrup thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer peel to a wire rack, separating the pieces as needed.
4. Let peel dry 1 hour. Toss with 1/2 cup sugar to coat.

Recipe slightly adapted from Everyday Food: January/ February 2010

Candied Citrus Chocolate Truffles
makes about 24 1 1/2 inch truffles

1/2 cup heavy cream
6 ounces (1 cup) bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4-1/2 cup minced candied citrus peel
1 lb. tempered semi-sweet chocolate (I followed this process to temper chocolate)

1. First, prepare the ganache filling. Place the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a medium bowl, and set aside. Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan, and bring it to a simmer over medium heat.
2. Once the cream is near boiling, pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for 1 minute to soften. Gently whisk the cream and chocolate together until they are a smooth, homogeneous mixture. Add the vanilla extract and candied citrus peel and stir to blend. Press a piece of cling wrap to the top of the ganache and let it sit at room temperature to cool. It is ready to use when it is no longer warm at all, but still fairly fluid.
3. While the ganache cools, prepare the molds. Temper the chocolate, and spoon some into each cavity in the mold, so that they are entirely filled.
4. Wait about 1 minute, then flip the mold upside down over a piece of waxed paper. The cavities should be completely coated. The excess chocolate will drip down onto the paper.
5. Take an offset spatula and run it across the top of the mold, removing any excess chocolate from the top.
6. Let the chocolate mold harden. You can place the mold in the refrigerator to set quickly. Once set, spoon the ganache into the molds, filling each cavity 3/4 full. Tap the molds on the counter to release any air bubbles. Refrigerate the molds to firm up the ganache, for about 30-45 minutes.
7. Once the ganache is chilled, re-temper the chocolate and spoon some on top of each cavity, spreading it to the edges so the ganache is completely sealed in. Scrape off the excess again with an offset spatula.
8. Allow the chocolate truffles to completely set in the refrigerator. Then turn the mold upside down and gently tap them out of the mold. If you would like, brush the finished truffles with gold luster dust. Truffles can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Recipe very slightly adapted from Elizabeth LaBau of 2011

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Creamy Baked Acorn Squash

The thought that popped into my head just after the all of 2 minutes that it took me to prep this dish was "why can't all recipes be this easy?" 
Because, well, that is just what this recipe is- easy, simple, and satisfying. I believe that the later is true for all recipes featured in Everyday Food. That is why I love that little magazine so much. It is always inspiring to see unique combinations of ingredients and flavors and unique ways of executing delicious non- stressful dishes.
My obsession for all things Martha Stewart began at a young age, and I am not about to cease being excited every time a new publication comes out :)
I will be back shortly... In the meantime, enjoy!

Creamy Baked Acorn Squash
serves 4

2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeded, and bottoms trimmed to lie flat if necessary
salt and pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup grated parmesan (2 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place squash halves cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Divide cream and thyme among halves.
2. Bake until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 35 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake until cheese is melted and golden, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Recipe from Everyday Food: December 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Art of Gingerbread

Back in October, I was so honored to be asked to contibute an article and some photographs for the Holiday 2012 Edible Santa Fe magazine.

I was asked to research and write a short history of one of the most beloved holiday treats- gingerbread. I also baked a traditional dark, moist, and spicy gingerbread cake which I contrasted with bright candied citrus peel and lemon sauce.

It was very exciting to see my first ever food-related publication. I hope that you will hop on over to this edition of Edible to see my article "The Art of Gingerbread" as well as some other wonderful New Mexico-y holiday themed recipes, stories, and photography.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Honey Pie (GF)

Contrary to how it may seem, I have not completely abandoned my blog. It has been difficult lately to find a balance, and I am constantly thinking about all of the recipes and photography I had hoped to share in the first half of December, but I know that it is nearly impossible to catch up. Nevertheless, I am trying my best now to whip up some of the ideas I had conjured in my head long ago, and make the most of this time leading up to the holidays.

I just attended an incredible week long photography course at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. For the first time I finally feel like I can use some technique in my photography and have more control over the outcome of my images rather than relying on the automatic setting alone.

While I was shooting away with my camera in and around Santa Fe, I became inspired to begin a collection of wintery New Mexico themed images of places and things that, for me, are reminiscent of the holidays at this time of year. I especially love the many unique cultural aspects of a New Mexican Christmas. Hopefully, should I have enough time, I would like to share some photos of New Mexico places and cuisine that make this time of year so special for me.  

In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy this salty honey pie. It is the first time I have made a pie of this nature, as I am usually partial to the fresh fruit filled kind. After visiting Honeyville near Durango, Colorado, I went a little honey crazy. We now have a kitchen cabinet full of jars of the sticky golden stuff. I used a simple mountain wildflower honey for this recipe, but I am also anxious to try some of the spiced and fruit scented whipped honeys that I was convinced I had to buy.

The contrast of the sweet, nutty honey and the spike of sea salt is perfect. Lately I have been wanting to make more baked goods dairy free as well as gluten free. I find that coconut milk from a can is a fine replacement for cream and I love how similar Earth Balance is to butter.

Buckwheat Pie Shell (GF)
makes one 9- inch pie shell

3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sweet white rice flour
3 1/2 tablespoons potato starch
1/4 cup sugar
7 tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, cold, cut in pieces
1 large egg yolk
2-3 tablespoons cold water

1. In a food processor, mix the buckwheat flour, almond flour, sweet rice flour, potato starch, and sugar until well combined. Add the cold Earth Balance and pulse until the Earth Balance is the size of small peas. Add the egg yolk and pulse to combine. Gradually add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until a dough begins to form when pressed together between two fingers. Do not over mix. Remove the pastry from the food processor, form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll on a lightly floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Press the dough into a 9 inch pie pan. Trim edges and remove excess dough. Return the pie shell to the refrigerator to chill until firm, at least 30 minutes. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork, cover with a 9 inch circle of parchment paper, and weigh down with dry beans or pie weights. Bake about 7 minutes (just to partially bake) then remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Recipe for pie crust adapted from Stephanie Shih of Desserts for Breakfast for Anthology Magazine

Salted Wildflower Honey Pie (GF) 
makes one 9- inch custard pie

1 par- baked buckwheat pie shell
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, melted
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons fine cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup wildflower honey
3 eggs
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
coarse or flake sea salt, for finishing

1. Melt the Earth Balance and combine with the sugar, salt and cornmeal to make a thick paste. Add the honey, vanilla and vinegar and mix together. Fold in the eggs, add the coconut milk and blend.
2. Pour the filling into the par-baked pie shell and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 60 minutes (if the pie shell begins to brown, cover it with a shield or foil). The filling will puff up like a marshmallow and the center will be just slightly wobbly. Once cooled (at least 1 hour), finish with a sprinkling of sea salt. Slice and serve with freshly whipped coconut milk.

Recipe for pie filling adapted from Melissa and Emily Elsen of Four and Twenty Blackbirds via South Brooklyn Post

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Giving Thanks

Vegetarians have long known that the best part of a Thanksgiving feast is the side dishes and pies. No need for tofurky. I must say that my appreciation for tofu has lessened after years of hearing my brother refer to it as whale snot. But that's what brothers are for, right? Besides, the flavors that can be accomplished in the late- November kitchen from seasonal produce and aromatic herbs are so special that I never feel like I am missing out.

This Thanksgiving, my family decided to try some different takes on our traditional dishes. I am especially fond of the smashed potatoes. I mean, mashed potatoes are so last Thanksgiving...and the Thanksgiving before that...and the Thanksgiving before that..... In my opinion, the crispy skin of the smashed potatoes, the salt and the thyme are what makes them superior.

Sage is definitely an herb that comes to mind when I think of Thanksgiving. Not pictured above, was a particularly delicious gluten free sage stuffing. I know most of us have probably exhausted Thanksgiving themed recipes, but I do encourage you to try these dishes sometime in the future.

The appeal of this holiday, for me, is only partly about the food, however. I really do begin to realize just how thankful I am to have been given so many great opportunities, and I truly could not have a more supportive, loving family. I have come to the conclusion that because I am fortunate enough to have such a beautiful home and family, that is why I am so reluctant to go off on my own and be more independent. But I know that when I do go away, I will only appreciate all that I have even more. I know that I will continue to take the time to express my gratitude and reflect this holiday season. It is easy to get bogged down, but after all, gratitude and thoughtfulness are what holidays are all about.  

Kumquat and Cranberry Relish
makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 cups kumquats (9 to 10 oz), trimmed
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries (3 1/2 cups)

1. Prick kumquats 2 or 3 times with a sharp fork. Cover kumquats generously with cold water in a heavy medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain and rinse with cold water, then drain and rinse two more times (to remove bitterness).
2. Bring kumquats, sugar, and water to a boil in rinsed saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then reduce heat and gently simmer, uncovered.
3. Remove from heat and cool kumquats in syrup, about 20 minutes.
4. Transfer kumquats with a slotted spoon to a bowl, reserving syrup in saucepan. Add cranberries and 1/4 tsp salt to syrup and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until berries burst, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. While cranberries cook, quarter kumquats lengthwise, discarding any seeds.
6. Stir kumquats into cranberry mixture and transfer to a bowl. Cool completely, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Can keep in refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week.

Recipe from Gourmet Holiday: Special Edition Fall/ Winter 2012

Smashed Potatoes with Olive Oil and Thyme
serves about 4

12 to 15 baby red potatoes
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons dried thyme

1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan (preferably in one layer) and cover with at least an inch of water. Add 2 teaspoons salt to the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, and cook potatoes until completely tender and can be easily pierced with a skewer, 30 to 35 minutes.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, set a cookie sheet on your counter top. As the potatoes finish cooking, remove them individually from the water, dry them well with a dishcloth or paper towel, then place them with plenty of room apart, on the cookie sheet.
3. Fold a dishcloth or paper towel into quarters, and using it as a cover, gently press down on one potato with the palm of your hand to flatten it to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Repeat with all potatoes.
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes, and using a spatula, lift the potatoes to let the oil run under them. Sprinkle the potatoes with about 3/4 teaspoons salt, pepper, and thyme.
5. Roast the potatoes until they are crispy and deep brown around the edges, about 30 minutes, turning over once with a spatula halfway through cooking. Serve hot.

Recipe slightly adapted from Susie Middleton of Fine Cooking 83

Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnuts, Sage, and Shallots
serves about 4

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets about 3/4 inch wide
1/2 cup toasted, halved hazelnuts
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot
1/4 cup olive oil for drizzling
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the cauliflower out on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts, sage, and shallot. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until edges of cauliflower begin to caramelize.

Recipe from the kitchen of Cirque du Souffle :)

Green Beans with Roasted Tomatoes, Toasted Pine Nuts, and Parmesan
serves 4 to 6

1 pound green beans or haricots vert, trimmed
8 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half crosswise
olive oil for drizzling
salt, to taste
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan, asiago, or dry jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread out the tomato halves on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 30 minutes.
2. Fill a large pot about halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Place the green beans in the boiling water, and reduce to a simmer over medium heat. Cook just until al dente, about 3 to 5 minutes. Strain and rinse with cool water.
3. Return the green beans to the pot, add the roasted tomatoes and toasted pine nuts. Drizzle with olive oil and salt, to taste. Toss to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the cheese.

Recipe from the kitchen of Cirque du Souffle :)

Let me know if you would like the recipes for the gluten free pies!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Some Seasonal Snacks

Last month I felt a little bit guilty because I neglected a lot of my duties to work on cranking out more frequent blog posts. This month, on the other hand, I feel a little guilty because I seem to have neglected my blog a bit!

You see, the problem with me is that my mind is constantly filling up with ideas, recipes, images. I get buried under them eventually and then the result I end up with is, well... nothing. I think it is about time that I find a better way to organize my thoughts and priorities. There is just too much to do in such little time!

The post I have come up with here is a rather weak attempt at a compromise for having been absent from my blog for some time. It is somewhat a collaboration of several intriguing finds that I have encountered at the local grocery store lately. Stuff like black radishes, blue sapphire popcorn and of course the gem of a fruit- the pomegranate.

If you don't have the time to spend in the kitchen, these snacks are the type of things you can whip up and still use some unique, flavorful, fresh, and maybe even adventurous ingredients. With Thanksgiving arriving in a few days, I am excited to finally be able to actually cook up components of a meal. Hopefully I can find a way to actually execute the recipe ideas I have come up with and share those with you shortly.

Rustic Bread with Black Radishes and Sea Salt (GF)
serves 4

4 slices of gluten free rustic bread (see A Woodland Inspired Feast post)
Kerrygold butter
3 to 4 black radishes
coarse sea salt

1. Spread a little butter over each slice of bread. Thinly slice the radishes. Place a few rounds on top of the butter on each slice. Season generously with salt.

Mole Spiced Royal Blue Popcorn
serves 3 to 4

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt*
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup blue sapphire popcorn

1. Combine sugar, salt, chili powder, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add popcorn, and cover. Cook, shaking pot frequently, until corn has finished popping. Add to bowl of spices, and toss.

*the salt does not stick to the popcorn as well as the other spices. I read that if you blitz the salt in a coffee grinder or spice mill, it creates more powdery crystals which stick better.

Pomegranate, Coconut, and Clementine Smoothie
serves 3 to 4

1 cup of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice*
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed clementine juice
6 ounces plain coconut yogurt (I used So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk)
2 cups coconut milk (I used So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Beverage)
1 tablespoon honey

1. Place all of the above ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Serve chilled with ice, if you like.

*I juiced a pomegranate using a traditional hand citrus juicer. 1 large pomegranate= about 1 cup juice

All of the above recipes from the kitchen of Cirque du Souffle :)