Monthly Archives: June 2010

Old fashioned apricot pancakes with toasted pine nuts…

Today happens to be a very special day, exactly a year ago we were celebrating our wedding in the warmth of beautiful California with family and friends. I remember lavender, crisp white wine, grilled artichokes and seasonal vegetables, and an apricot marinade that was out of this world. I also remember dancing, lotts and lotts of dancing, and one crazy dip at the end of our song. As fate would have it, I had some beautiful apricots ripening on the countertop this morning from my trip to the farms. I wanted to use the apricots, and my husband wanted “mmm…comfort food”.  These pancakes have the fluffy, buttery essence of a traditional pancake, with a little unexpected tang and texture.

Old fashioned apricot pancakes with toasted pine nuts…

apricot compote

4 ripe apricots, diced

½ tbs lemon juice

2-4  tbs clover honey

½ tsp cinnamon

dash salt

pancakes

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 tbs organic cane sugar

1 ½ cup milk

2 tbs melted butter

2 eggs

1 cup apricot compote

syrup

left over apricot compote, approx ¼ cup

maple syrup

pine nuts toasted in browned butter

First start with the apricot compote.  In a small pot over low-medium heat, add apricots, lemon juice, and honey.  Work the apricots until smashed and the juices release.  Then flavor with a dash of salt and honey to taste.  Set aside and cool.

For pancakes, sift together dry ingredients. Whisk together wet ingredients, including the compote.  Then gently fold wet to dry.  Careful not to over mix.  This has been the most helpful tip from Alton Brown/Good Eats, less mixing preserves the bubbles created  by the leavening agents, and thus the fluff of the pancake.  Fold until just barely mixed, hands up, and walk away.  For the syrup, over medium heat, add maple syrup to the left over apricot compote until the mixture is easy to pour.  Ladle out the batter on to a hot, buttered griddle, cook until bubbles begin to form in the center of the pancake, and then flip.  Pancakes should be a nice golden brown.  I toasted the pine nuts on the griddle after making the pancakes.  Assemble your stack to desired size, pour on the syrup, and top with pine nuts.  Makes about 10-15 pancakes depending on the size of pancake  you make.


Cook together, toast to each other, and enjoy!

Happy anniversary Jonathan, lets continue to inspire each other.

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Tortilla de patatas or tortilla española…

One of the best things about summer in Connecticut are the farmer’s markets in nearly every town.  We are really forced to eat seasonally here in New England because of the winters. Everything that you craved for in February, is just falling off the market tables in June.  This weekend, a good friend and I made a road trip over to Lebanon, CT to explore the local farms and meander through the farmer’s market.  What an eclectic group of farmers in Lebanon. You can find anything from cow and goat cheese/dairy farms, alpaca and llama fiber farms, berry farms, vegetable farms, and a bakery run right out of a home kitchen, with a storefront on the front porch.  This trip reminded me how important it is to support your local farmers…wherever in the country you might be!

After buying the most beautiful organic eggs, different sizes and shapes, and yolks of deep orange, I am immediately inspired to make tortilla de patatas.  While living in Spain, I ate my fair share of tortilla both as a self-standing dish and tucked into a bocadillo, or sandwich. I learned through this mass taste testing experiment that I like my tortilla by itself, heavier on the potato side, and lighter on the egg…and topped with crème fraiche. The makings of a perfect tapa.

I couldn’t find any onion at the market, but came up with garlic scapes. They give a subtle aeromatic essence to any dish. Exactly what you want in a tortilla.  Cut them up just like you would scallions, and throw them in anywhere you would use garlic or minced onion.

Tortilla de patatas…

2 large Russet potatoes

8-10 eggs   (depending on size and how “eggy” you want your tortilla)

4-6 garlic scape stalks

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Peel and cut potatoes into 1/8 inch slices.  Mince garlic scapes.  Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet.  Add potatoes and garlic scapes. Cook until tender, but not browned.  Mix and flip regularly.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  While potatoes are cooking, crack and beat eggs in a large bowl.  Add about 1 tsp salt and pepper.  Once potatoes are tender, pull off heat and briefly cool.  Add to eggs.

Put skillet back onto low heat, add a dash more of olive oil.  Pour egg mixture into the skillet, and make a nice even layer with the potatoes. Cover and cook for about 10-12 minutes, until bottom and sides are set but not browned. Run a spatula continuously around the edges and shake the skillet regularly to prevent sticking. The top will still be wet. While egg mixture is setting, preheat broiler. Once set, place entire skillet under the broiler for about 1-3 minutes.  Test center with a toothpick, remove when it comes out dry.  You can go super traditional, and do the plate-flip-trick to cook the top side of the tortilla, but I find this broiler method much easier, and the dish tastes and looks just as good.  Plus, I like the rustic look of the potatoes being exposed.


Now, I’m going to go eat the rest of the tortilla, and quietly miss my apartment in Spain…and wish I could finish this dish off with churros y chocolate!

Cook together, toast to each other, and enjoy!


Lavender iced tea…

Today had to be one of the most beautiful days of summer here in CT so far.  Bright, sunny, warm weather, very little humidity,the makings for a perfect afternoon of playing hooky. Sweet tea, iced tea, chilled tea, summer tea, whatever you call it, was the most lovely of additions, and brightened my spirits today.  This is truly a perfect summer drink.  I also imagine if you are in the mood for some adult libations, whiskey would work perfectly.

Lavender iced tea…

4 tea bags, Earl Gray or English breakfast tea

4 lavender tips

6-8 cups water

1 1/2 cups simple syrup made with organic sugar and mesquite honey

Boil water in a kettle or pot. Pour water into a heat safe pitcher.  Add tea bags and lavender. Let steep in the sunshine for an hour.  After steeping, add simple sugar to taste. Chill.  Serve on ice.


Cook together, toast to each other, and enjoy!


Dajm Bar waffle style cookies …

These cookies were inspired by a recipe that I encountered on my way to California.  After finishing my book prematurely, and in an attempt to resist Sky Mall, I flipped through the in flight magazine somewhere over the Rockies.  The original recipe featured, was written by Lauren Chattman, author of Dessert Express.  These cookies are certainly quick and delicious, what a genius idea!  From start to finish they took me about 20 minutes, and you can have a hot cookie in your hands within five.  Instead of chocolate chips, I used my favorite candy bar chopped up. I used Dajm Bar (Swedish version of Heath bar and also spelled Daim Bar in the UK), and it caramelized up nicely and offered just the right amount of crunch and texture to the cookie.

Dajm Bar Waffle Style Cookies...

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

¼ cup organic sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¼ cup flour

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp kosher salt

favorite candy bar

Heat up waffle iron.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars.  Mix in egg and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients separately. Fold  into creamed butter mixture.  Prep the waffle iron as necessary, some require non-stick spray or butter, others do not. Drop 1 tbs of mixture per cookie, close the iron.  Cook 2-3 minutes.  Remove and cool on a wire rack. Easy! I received great feedback from the various versions that I made.


Cook together, toast to each other, and enjoy!


Crispy tacos with spicy strawberry salsa…

What do you do with a huge bowl of strawberries? It is too hot and humid to bake right now in Connecticut. I considered making strawberry shortcake, strawberry panna cotta, strawberry soufflé, or strawberry jam.  Each of those options however, required either using the oven or standing over some source of heat, which is to say at the very least, undesirable.  But we scored this amazing basket of strawberries, so sweet you can smell them just walking into the kitchen.  My thoughts…lets make tacos!

I started with making a strawberry salsa…

Strawberry salsa

1 cup finely diced strawberries

¼ cup white onion

½ cup roasted corn

juice of ½ lime

¼- 1/2  tsp of chipotle powder

dash of salt

Toss everything together in a bowl, and try to resist not eating this salsa with a spoon…


Then onto the tacos…

Taco accoutrements

flour or corn tortillas

ripe avocado, ½ per taco

sour cream

1 can salt free black beans

½ tsp cumin

pinch of salt

aged, white cheddar, shredded, 1 small handful per taco

Crisp up the tortillas and melt the aged, white cheddar as if making an open-faced quesadilla.  Season the black beans with cumin and salt over low heat, then add on top of cheese and tortilla.  Then top with strawberry salsa, avocado, sour cream, and a pinch of lime zest, salt, and pepper.

I promise you will not be disappointed.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!