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sweet thang

This is summer in a bowl, and I have a loose recipe to represent the season:

170 g (1 6-oz package) raspberries, 12 raspberries reserved for garnish
1/4 cup sugar
1 loaf store-bought cornbread, cubed
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
Mint sprigs, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Combine the raspberries (except for the 12 reserved raspberries) and the sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until the raspberries have broken down. Remove from heat and cool.
3. Place the cornbread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until toasted and light golden brown, about 5 minutes.
4. Whip the cream with powdered sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest until stiff peaks form.
5. Stir a third of the whipped cream into the raspberry compote. Gently fold the rest of the whipped cream into the raspberry mixture.
6. Divide the cornbread croutons among four bowls. Top with the raspberry fool and garnish with three raspberries and a mint sprig.

Serves 4

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Originally created as a garnish for a vegan mango mousse experiment for work (still perfecting that recipe), this brittle stands alone as a delicious vegan dessert. No need for a candy thermometer–just keep a close eye as the caramel cooks.

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 cups cashews, raw or lightly toasted

1. Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a heavy bottomed pot.
2. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and allow the sugar to take on a caramel color. Do not stir or shake the pan while the sugar cooks.
3. Toast the cashews, if desired, and then spread out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
4. Once caramel reaches desired color, quickly stir in the salt and curry powder.
5. Pour the sugar mixture evenly over the cashews.
6. Cool to room temperature, and then break apart with your hands.

photo (10)

Store in an airtight container for, I dunno, a while.

It’s only during the past few years that I’ve developed an affinity for bitterness. Now it’s a taste that I crave, namely in the form of alcohol–IPAs, Campari and sodas, Negronis–but also in grapefruit. Since winter is the time for citrus, I suppose I’m pushing it by posting this during the first days of spring. But, what the hell:

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Serves 4, as a starter for brunch (serves 2 as a main course for breakfast)

2 grapefruits
2 oranges
1 small jicama
3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 lime
Pinch salt
Pinch sugar (a drizzle of agave also works very nicely here)
1 avocado

1. Supreme 1 of the grapefruits and 1 of the oranges: cut off the tops and bottoms of the fruit. Cut off the skin, making sure to remove all of the white. Cut in between the membrane to create “wedges” of fruit.
2. Slice the remaining grapefruit and orange: cut off the tops and bottoms of the fruit. Cut off the skin, making sure to remove all of the white. Cut the fruit into slices.
3. Julienne the jicama: peel, thinly slice, and cut into matchsticks.
4. Gently toss the citrus fruits with the jicama, juice of 1/2 a lime, salt and sugar.
5. Slice the avocado: Cut into quarters, remove the pit, peel away the skin and slice into 1/4-inch pieces. Squeeze juice of the other 1/2 of the lime over the slices to prevent browning.
6. Serve the avocado slices on the side. You can arrange the slices on the top of the salad, which would make for a beautiful presentation, but I like the bit of interaction your guests have by finishing their own plates.

photo(4)Adapted from this recipe, doctored to make it my own. It still needs some work (more seasoning, mainly) but I think it’s a good start.

1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp dried rosemary
1 large egg, separated
3/4 cup corn (I had frozen, which I thawed)
1 cup peanut oil, for pan-frying
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
Maple syrup (optional)

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, paprika, cayenne, and rosemary.
2. Combine the egg yolk with corn kernels and add to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. (The mixture will be very dry.)
3. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat.
4. Beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Fold into the corn mixture.
5. Add large spoonfuls of the corn batter to oil (it should bubble and sizzle immediately when added to the pan).
6. Once the fritters are golden brown on the bottom, carefully flip and continue cooking until golden brown on that side.
7. When done, remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup (optional).

I love when my kitchen sings to me. Sometimes it’s a tender falsetto, other times it’s methodical rapping to a hot beat. Whatever the harmony, when ingredients come out from the shadows of my cabinets and refrigerator to reveal themselves, the song is so sweet.

This time I cooked up some quinoa with vegetable stock, according to the package’s directions (and no matter what that package says, add a bit of butter while its cooking). Meanwhile, I sauteed greens in olive oil (you can use whatever you have on hand; I had arugula leftover from a pesto recipe, and a bunch of fresh spinach that was on its way out). Soaked golden raisins (I hate the regular kind) in hot water until plump and tender, then drained. Combined all of the above, along with a healthy amount of pine nuts. Seasoned with S & P and I was good to go.

Not sure if my S.S. was expecting this for breakfast, but that’s what he got. And he wasn’t sad about it.

This would make for a lovely side dish, but has enough going on to shine as a main entree. Plus, quinoa is a complete protein, providing all the itty bitty amino acids our bodies need to, you know, do its thing. And that’s something to celebrate. In your underwear, of course.