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