Sunday, May 31, 2009

Waffles, Retoasted

We love waffles and we always make too many. We use the recipe from the Joy of Cooking! Here's an easy trick to eat those leftover waffles.

The last time we wrapped the leftovers and froze them. We pulle them out and retoasted them on a lazy Saturday morning. My dad did this when we were growing up and it was a great weekday breakfast treat.

These waffles needed less than a minute in the toaster to crunch up! Watch 'em because they will burn!

We dipped ours like waffle sticks in syrup but I also put some blenheim apricot preserves on them, just like toast! Peanut butter is also great on them!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Golden and Red Beet Salad with Humboldt Fog Cheese

Ok, I have a confession. I didn't make this salad...but I really should. We had it last night at the Sideboard Cafe in Danville and it is the perfect marriage of mixed greens and spinach, red and golden beets, fennel, and the heavenly Humboldt Fog cheese. I could write a whole post on Humboldt Fog cheese as it is a soft ripened goat cheese made in California with a layer of edible vegetable ash that makes it look like a piece of cake. It is one of my favorite cheeses of all time!!

So, we might have to make this at home, although I love sitting on the patio at the Sideboard with Beaker and Justin sharing this salad and a cup of freshly made pomme frites.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So Much for Raspberry Week...

Well, raspberry week was a bust because:

• the raspberries were so delicious as is, we just ate them!
• they went moldy pretty fast.

Don't worry some new blogposts are coming soon. Hope you are enjoying the wonderful fruits and vegetables that are coming into season!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What to Do With Raspberries? Spinach Salad with Raspberries

Mmm, it's raspberry week at our house. We bought a large amount of raspberries and we're getting creative with ways to eat them up! First we just ate a bunch of them in their plain deliciousness. Tonight we made this salad:

• baby spinach tossed with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
• fresh raspberries
• crumbled feta cheese
• toasted walnuts

seasoned with fresh black pepper. It was fabulous! More recipes coming soon!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Do You Need A Vacation for Foodspiration?

We do! We are going to take a foodspiration vacation to inspire ourselves with new food experiences. What is a foodspiration vacation? Well, for us it means:

• staying in an inspiring place with fresh, local ingredients (mmm like those strawberries)
• having access to a kitchen
• being away from home so that we aren't distracted by chores
• bringing our special utensils and equipment with us

and we also had these requirements:
• no air travel- we're sick of airports and then we can bring our kitchen tools
• dogs allowed- we're bringing Beaker!

So we found a place and we will be going this summer for a week! We're making the list of recipes to make. Please send us some suggestions! I will be bringing my food coloring and cookie cutters like an artist brings her paints and brushes!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches...Mmm!

Here's an easy treat that tastes just as good as it looks: homemade ice cream sandwiches!

You can go the "Full Martha" and make the ice cream as well as the cookies from scratch. However, I prefer the "Martha-light" version where you bake the cookies from scratch and buy the ice cream because homemade cookies are so wonderful and because homemade ice cream often melts very very quickly.

I made the cookies the same day as the sandwiches so they were fresh! I made this recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate chip bag with milk chocolate and semi-sweet chips. Make sure to make small cookies as two of these with ice cream will be very filling. Because I needed to work quickly, I put the sprinkles on a plate and matched up the cookies in pairs by equal sizes before getting the ice cream out.

I bought some vanilla ice cream in a rectangular type carton. I cut the carton of ice cream open and sliced the ice cream in to several slices about 1/2 inch thick.

Using a circular cookie cutter from Williams-Sonoma, I cut out a circle of ice cream that was about the size of the cookies. You then have two options:

• For a tasty homemade look, you can work quickly and make all of the sandwiches. Then, the ice cream will be soft enough to squish down between the cookies and roll in the sprinkles. You can wrap them in foil or plastic wrap and put in the freezer to harden.

or for a picture perfect look:

•You can work quickly and make the sandwiches, putting them in the freezer without the sprinkles to harden. Then once hardened, take them out and add the sprinkles, pressing them in with clean fingers or a spoon. This gives a perfect rounded edge. Rewrap and place in freezer until ready to serve!

These can be made ahead of time and are a party favorite! Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Our Newest Appliance: Microwave Convection Oven

Ok, can you believe we made this banana nut cupcake in the microwave? Well that's because it's a convection oven microwave.

We just bought this microwave to go over our range. This microwave has three functions:

1. as a convection oven, circulating warm air to cook and brown the food allowing for even baking and roasting. You can use metal pans and cookware that is suitable for a traditional oven. There are metal racks that you can put in for this function.

2. as a traditional microwave, using dielectric heating to excite the water ( and other polar molecules) in food resulting in heating and cooking the food. This is great for reheating, cooking throughout but not great for baking or browning without special packaging.

3. as a fast bake combination of convection heating AND microwave heating. We haven't tried this yet!

So why did we get this microwave oven? We don't have room for a second oven and we often host large holiday dinners. With a turkey in the oven, we wanted another oven to bake the rolls, cook the stuffing etc. This seemed like a perfect solution! Not to mention that I read here it is more energy efficient by circulating the heated air and heating a smaller space than the larger oven.

We are excited to see what this new appliance can do!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our Secret Equation for Delicious Salads

Green salads are one of my favorite things to bring to dinners and potluck! They are usually a fresh and flavorful addition to any meal. This salad has blue cheese, dried tart cherries and caramelized pecans with a balsamic dressing.

We have a basic equation for tasty salads:
greens + fruit + nut + cheese= deliciousness.

We made this salad by first tossing the greens in a simple balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing. This gives everything a nice coating of the dressing! We also add fresh ground pepper.

And for the toppings, there are many great combinations. This one was a particularly good blend of flavors and textures with a soft, crumbled blue cheese, the tart dried cherries, and pecans that I caramelized.

Here are few other ingredients you can mix and match to make your own favorite salad. You can stock many of them in your fridge and pantry for spontaneous salad ideas- especially the dried fruit.

• toasted walnuts
• caramelized walnuts
• toasted pecans
• caramelized pecans
• toasted pine nuts
• toasted almonds

• blue cheese
• feta cheese
• parmesan cheese

• fresh apples
• fresh pears
• fresh Asian pears
• fresh blueberries
• fresh raspberries
• fresh oranges
• fresh strawberries
• dried cherries
• dried cranberries

Some of our other favorite combinations are: apple, feta, toasted walnut; pear, blue cheese, and toasted walnut. Mmm, have fun making your own favorites!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pisco Sours and Cholopolitans for Everyone!

If you have ever been to Peru, you will know that the best loved drink of Peru is the Pisco Sour. We started off our cooking class at La Gloria del Campo with this refreshing drink.

Pisco is a clear liquor distilled from grapes. It can be used in many types of cocktails but most traditionally in the Pisco Sour.

How is a Pisco Sour made? First the Pisco is shaken with lime juice and simple syrup and poured into a glass. Then a frothy foam of egg white is added to the top with a dash of Angostura bitters. This drink is easily consumed and surprisingly potent!

In addition to Pisco Sours, we tried another concoction with Pisco, the Cholopolitan from Astrid Y Gaston.

This fruity Pisco martini was right up my alley and I highly recommend it. Now that we have had Pisco, we are anxious to experiment with it and add it to our bar!

Perhaps more Pisco cocktails coming soon!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

From Garden to Plate in Peru: La Gloria del Campo

Imagine food that is so fresh it comes directly from the garden...

to your dining table. This is the story of La Gloria del Campo, a restaurant that is in the middle of an organic garden in the countryside (Pachacamac) outside of Lima, Peru.

What is particularly marvelous about La Gloria del Campo is the openness of the restaurant and kitchen. Because it rarely rains, the restaurant is not enclosed and provides a beautiful view of the garden around it.

We spent the afternoon with Chef Gonzalo Angosto making several traditional Peruvian dishes. Chef Angosto works as a culinary instructor at the Instituto San Ignacio de Loyola and is a member of Slow Food Nation, which values organic produce and local ingredients. The restaurant uses what it produces but also sells its produce to other restaurants.

After a refreshing round of Pisco Sours, we toured the garden to see the lettuces, basil, and other herbs and vegetables growing. Everything looked so fresh and we were excited to use such quality ingredients that would have least amount of travel and degradation as they came from the garden to your plate. After the tour, we put on our aprons and got to work.

Solterito Salad. We began our cooking lesson by preparing a Solterito salad with tomatoes, fava beans, cheese, onions, olives and chilis. The salad was mixed with the fresh ingredients and mixed with oil and vinegar or oil and lime juice. It was wonderfully fresh and flavorful.

Potatoes with Huancaina Sauce. The second traditional dish we prepared was a Peruvian potato dish with a chili sauce called Huancaina. The potatoes were cooked and sliced into thick rings. The sauce was made by blending raw aji amarillo (chilis that are actually orange in color) and fresh cheese with evaporated milk in a blender. The sauce is thick and bright in color with spicy kick!

The sauce is meant to be generously poured over the potatoes and garnished with a quail egg and olive. In my attempt to be artistic, I was a little light on the sauce.

Justin was a bit more traditional. The combination of the flavorful sauce on a canvas of potatoes was delicious and quite filling.

Lomo Saltado. And for the main course, we prepared Lomo Saltado. This dish truly exemplifies the open food culture in Peru that has been influenced by the different cultures that have come to Peru throughout it’s history. This dish is essentially a beef stir-fry with strong Chinese influences in its preparation and ingredients. You will notice the fried yucca and the rice on the same plate as Peruvian food culture readily has multiple starches (corn and rice, potato and rice) in one dish.

This dish was prepared using an outdoor gas-powered wok – to which Justin informed me that we should definitely consider getting! Actually using this outside makes a lot of sense when you see the amount of steam and flame that it generates.

Chef Angosto demonstrated the preparation and then turned the cooking over to us. Essentially the steps are:
1. quickly cook the meat and set aside
2. add the oil and garlic to release flavors
3. add the onions and tomatoes and chili, followed by fresh shelled peas
4. and then some beef stock, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and oyster sauce
5. a little Pisco (optional)
6. a smidge of butter
7. and the beef goes back in the pan!

It was scrumptious with such a lovely complexity of flavors from so many cultures. Definitely a dish to try. PicaPeru and La Gloria del Campo gave us a folder with the recipes from the day as well as recommendations on how to get similar ingredients in the US. We will definitely be recreating these recipes in the States!

It was a lovely day with marvelous food, great company, and wonderful instructors. We highly recommend PicaPeru and La Gloria del Campo should you visit Peru. And a special thanks to my friend M, Sandra and Chef Carlos and Chef Angosto for rescheduling the tour when our travel was delayed by and entire day. It was so enjoyable and such a delight for foodies like us.

Buon Provecho!

In case you missed our other posts from our culinary tour in Peru, click here for the market and click here for the juice bar and native Peruvian fruit sampling.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Foodspiration at Its Finest!

I had to post this photo from my friend, T, who made the most delicious dessert ever- inspired by this post at Foodspiration. T took the honey lace cookie and made it into a bowl. She coated the bowl with chocolate as suggested by Nea and filled it with homemade coconut ice cream. Fresh strawberries and a chocolate streak completed the dish.

Three cheers for true Foodspiration from T!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mother's is BACK!

In October Lauren wrote a Haiku tribute to Mother's Cookies in response to the sad news of the Bay Area company shuttering the 92 year old cookie factory. This past January we announced the planned reintroduction Mother's recipes by the Kellogg Company. Kudos to Kellogg's and their PR company for the proactive scanning of the blogosphere in anticipation of re-release of Mother's Cookies. We're happy to pass on their note (below) announcing the return to shelves today.


I had a chance to read your post from January about Mother’s cookies returning, and I have some great news! Mother's cookies are back! Kellogg Company is reintroducing the California original Mother’s cookies, so be sure to look for them on store shelves starting today! ...


Anna Masters
For Kellogg Company