May 2011

over the weekend

Posted on May 30, 2011

We’ve spent the past two weekends with our families in Sacramento. We’ve been doing some cooking, and now that I look back on it, we’ve pretty darn busy doing lots of other things as well. I’ve got a few recipes and a lot of stories to share.

We went to a Strawberry Festival hosted by our CSA farm, Eatwell Farm. We picked an entire flat of berries and ate ourselves sick on perfect strawberries.

We gave a demonstration about seasonal and local cooking at El Dorado Nursery and Garden. We wrote recipes, shopped, cooked everything outside and impressed our small audience. If you’d like to download our mini-cookbook from the event click here.

Willow had an accident and worried her parents sick. Thankfully, she has recovered and is her happy, silly self again.

My little brother Dallas graduated from high school! We are so proud! Jordan cooked a gigantic asian fusion feast. I failed at fried rice, but succeeded in making a turtle cheesecake with homemade caramel. Recipe to come!

We enjoyed the sporadic good weather, lounging by the pool, walking and reading outside. Willow especially enjoyed this aspect of her suburban vacation.

My mom, sister and I had a girls’ day, complete with Mexican food, antiquing in Old Folsom and a brand new pair of roller skates.

We ate Jordan’s Dad’s awesome BBQ ribs! I love, love, love BBQ! Jordan made a salad with an amazing buttermilk dressing. Recipe to come soon!

We visited with old friends and caught up and made summer plans.

Now we’re back home in San Francisco for a while and there’s plenty of cooking to be done. We’re hungry and hope you are too!

-Emily

shaved asparagus and parmesan salad

Posted on May 24, 2011

The only thing more spring that fresh strawberries might be raw asparagus. This salad is perfect, simple and balanced.  The nuttiness of the parmesan and the sharpness of the dressing compliment the asparagus wonderfully. This was out first foray into raw asparagus territory and it turns out that the distinct asparagus flavor is actually more mild when it’s raw. I also was worried about the asparagus being tough, but you shave the spears so thin that they become really tender – think asparagus fettuccini.

Shaved Asparagus and Parmesan Salad, from the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook

1 shallot, diced
2 T white wine or champagne vinegar
2 T lemon juice
salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 bunch asparagus spears
pepper
Parmesan cheese, shaved

Dice the shallot and let it marinate in vinegar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

Carefully shave the asparagus spears into thin ribbons. I used a japanese mandolin, but you could also use a vegetable peeler or a very sharp knife. This step takes a while, but the end result is worth it. The asparagus is so tender and wonderful and not stringy at all. Jordan also suggested using a mandolin to cut the spears into asparagus coins instead of ribbons as a time saver. You could cut multiple spears at once and your fingers are in less danger as you cut. We think this would be just as tasty.

Whisk the olive oil into the shallot mixture. Pour over the asparagus and toss to coat. Plate each serving and top with generous amount of shaved parmesan.

-Emily

roastie toasties

Posted on May 24, 2011

Sunday was all about trying new recipes and I’ve had my eye on this one in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook for a while. The recipe is really simple and Judy claimed the potatoes were absolutely delicious, especially when they are hot out of the oven. I am happy to say that salty, crinkly skin on these potatoes, plus the generous dollop of creme fraiche we topped them with, makes roastie toasties a wonderful side dish.

Roastie Toastie Potatoes, adapted from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook
12 small potatoes, we used a mixture of red and white fingerlings
1 – 4 lb box rock salt
Creme fraiche, for serving

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Fill a oven-safe dish with 1/2 inch of rock salt. Arrange the potatoes on the salt so that they are not touching. Cover them with more salt. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes. Unearth the potatoes, brush of the salt and serve with creme fraiche, or other potato topping of your choosing.

Note: It is important to use rock salt in this preparation. If you use a finer grain salt, the potatoes will end up salty all the way through, instead of just getting a pleasant, salty crust. You can also reuse the salt for your next batch of roastie toasties, or for serving oysters all fancy-like, or for making ice cream!

-Emily

our garden

Posted on May 20, 2011

Guess what my friends? We now have a garden! Where do we have this garden, you may ask, since we live in a tiny apartment on the 6th floor in a neighborhood where the planter outside of our building which would normally house vegetation instead houses a cinderblock and muddy ooze. Well, our garden resides in our 5 square feet of fire escape. It is perfect and adorable and probably taking up an unsafe amount of room on said fire escape, but emergency-smergecy, I need fresh herbs!

Now let me brag  …

I have an amazing boyfriend.

1. When I decide that in my new herb garden I need upwards of 10 varieties of herbs, and when I decide I also need a lemon tree, he sighs and then smiles back at my eager face. I interpret that smile as his blessing to move forward with this (crazy) plan.

2. He hauls two huge bags of planting mix and a tree up to our apartment. I carry the seedlings … maybe. He might have also carried those.

3. When I decide that I am too chicken to stand six floors up on our slatted fire escape to plant our garden, he stands on the fire escape and plants those sweet little seedlings as the fog rolls in.

4. He tolerates me as I, reading from the manual that came with the planter box, yell silly step-by-step instructions out the window, and humors me as I change the herb layout half way through the planting process.

5. He takes all the post-planting detritus down to the basement trash cans, while I admire my newly planted cuties.

6. He says that the herb markers that I purchased from Etsy are cute, which is just what I want to hear, even though he probably thinks they are quite silly and unnecessary.

Look at those herbs! By golly, isn’t Jordan a garden-planting stud!  And now we’ll have fresh herbs all the time! And right out our kitchen window! Even Willow is excited about them.

I am so lucky.  I love our new garden and I love that boy.

-Emily

panna cotta with passionfruit sauce

Posted on May 20, 2011

This was my first panna cotta. Panna cotta is the dessert that chefs on Top Chef who were adamantly “not pastry chefs” would try with disastrous results, and so I was a little gun shy. Honestly, it is an amazingly simple dessert and I’m not sure why so many people messed it up. Panna cotta has a delightful, milky flavor that is great on its own, but even better as a base for other toppings. We topped it with fresh strawberries and passionfruit sauce, but it would be great with any other berry, stone fruit, citrus, nuts. It’s basically a dessert base for all seasons! I know Alice Waters wouldn’t settle for anything less.

Panna Cotta with Passionfruit Sauce, from the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook

One 1/4 oz packet of unflavored gelatin
Flavorless oil, for greasing the ramekins
1-inch piece of vanilla bean, sliced and scraped
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1/4 lemon

1/4 cup passionfruit pulp
3 T simple syrup
1/4 cup diced strawberries

Grease 8 ramekins with a flavorless oil. In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the gelatin in 3 T water.

In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the cream, milk, vanilla, sugar and lemon until simmering. Simmer for a minute or two. Pour into the gelatin mixture and whisk until the lumps of gelatin are fully incorporated. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl. Fill the ramekins and place them in the fridge to set up. Ideally, they will have about 4 hours to chill before serving.

To serve, top with passionfruit sauce and diced strawberries.

-Emily

pork on pork action

Posted on May 18, 2011

Oh yeah.  Even though it was Mother’s Day, Emily and I couldn’t help it.  Things got naughty and juicy.  You know what I’m talking about: bacon wrapped pork loin.  A dish so simple and so porky that you’ll lose all track of time basking in its glory.  Seriously though, this is such an easy dish and it’s definitely a crowd pleaser; in other words, it’s perfect for entertaining.

1 3-4 pound pork loin
8 strips of good bacon
Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Season your pork loin with salt and pepper and wrap with bacon.  I put the bacon on a flat surface and overlapped each piece by about a quarter of an inch.  Then I rolled the pork loin like a burrito.  Place it in a roasting pan for about an hour and start checking its internal temperature.  You’re looking for 145 degrees in the thickest part.  Ours took about 1.5 hours, but it was a little overcooked on the thinner side.

Before:

After:

Don’t forget to let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing into it!

Conclusions:
A wonderful, simple main course that tastes like it’s much more complicated than it really is.  As long as it’s not overcooked and the bacon gets nice and crispy, everyone will be happy.  Also, this dish can be adjusted very easily depending on the number of people you’re serving.  I wouldn’t go below two pounds for a small crowd (4-5 people), but you could double or triple this recipe if just a few pounds won’t satisfy that porky desire. Leftovers make great sandwiches too!

-Jordan

celebrity chefs!

Posted on May 17, 2011

Who are these talented, creative celebrity chefs giving a revolutionary cooking demonstration at a first-class, exotic locale? Why, yours truly, of course!

Next Sunday, Jordan and I will be giving a seasonal cooking demonstration at El Dorado Nursery and Garden. Our demo is paired with a discussion on fruit and vegetable gardening by Farmer Fred from the KFBK Garden Show.  This event is your one-stop-shop for local and seasonal produce from start to finish. If you’re in the area, please stop by!

Event Details
Sunday, May 22nd
1 pm – 4 pm
El Dorado Nursery and Garden
3931 Durock Rd. Shingle Springs, CA
FREE! No reservations are needed.

We’ll post the recipes we prepare after the event, if you can’t make it but still want to expand your seasonal cooking repertoire.

-Emily

whiskey sour

Posted on May 15, 2011

A bar in our neighborhood makes great whiskey sours. They make them with a dash of egg white, which gives the drink a wonderfully frothy top. According to our good friends at Wikipedia, the egg white makes the drink a boston sour. But, according to our friends at supercocktails.com, the boston sour also includes cherry.  I’m very into the egg white, but not so into the maraschino cherries. So here we have my hybrid whiskey-boston sour modeled after the fabulous whiskey sour at Mr. Lew’s.

Whiskey Sour
1 1/2 oz burbon whiskey, we like Maker’s Mark
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 lemon, juiced
1 t egg white

In a shaker combine the ingredients. Shake vigorously to emulsify. Add ice. Shake again. Strain and serve.

-Emily

soup with lamb meatballs and winter greens

Posted on May 12, 2011

Ahhh, the last of the winter greens.  Although, I have grown to love winter greens, I admit that I am tired of them. Thanks to our CSA, over the past few months, I’ve eaten more kale than the rest of my life combined. This soup is (hopefully) our final farewell to winter greens, though I’m sure I be missing them after summer’s onslaught of tomatoes.

Soup with Lamb Meatballs and Winter Greens

You’ll want to start with the meatballs since they take about 30 minutes to cook. After they are in the oven, prepare the broth.

For the meatballs
1 lb ground lamb
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
salt, pepper, herbs of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the lamb, egg, breadcrumbs and a healthy dose of salt and pepper. I also added some Italians spice blend, but I’ll leave that up to you. If you feel inclined to check for seasoning, heat a skillet with some olive oil and cook up a small bit of the meat mixture. Sample the cooked meat and adjust your seasonings. Form 1 inch balls out of the lamb mixture. Cook for about 30 minutes in the oven, or until the meatballs are firm to the touch.

For the soup
1 can crushed tomatoes (or two half-full bags of tomato sauce from your freezer)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 quart chicken stock (we used Jordan’s homemade stock, but store-bought would do just fine in this soup since the lamb is such a strong flavor)
1 cup dried pasta
3 cups winter greens, chopped (we have greens coming out of our ears!)
salt, pepper, chili flake

In a heavy stock pot or dutch oven, pour/defrost the tomatoes and broth over low heat. Add the garlic and a pinch of chili flake and simmer for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. When your meatballs have about 5 minutes left of the cooking time, add the pasta. Cook the pasta for about 10 minutes and then add the greens and meatballs. Simmer the whole mixture until the greens are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

Not only is this soup a delicious use of an excess of greens, but it is a great one-pot meal. You’ve got your meat, starch and veggie all in one dish!

-Emily

cream cheese pound cake, two ways

Posted on May 11, 2011

I made this cake for a dinner party we went to on Friday night. It was great and I decided to make it again for our mamas when they came down to celebrate Mother’s Day last Sunday.

A quick side note here: Jordan was an absolute champ both nights. Friday night he sweetly convinced me  – braving my baking righteousness – to bring the cake unbaked to Matt and Alexa’s to finish there. I had just assembled the ingredients and it was already 6:35 pm when I sheepishly admitted that the cake would need to bake for at least an hour. Good call Jordan! Sunday night he was also a dream. Jordan cooked an amazing dinner for 6 ladies, listened to them gab endlessly for hours and did all the dishes! I am a lucky, lucky girl!

Now onto the amazing cake! My new go-to pound cake (aside from the blood orange olive oil cake from a few weeks ago).

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Strawberry Coulis or Passionfruit Glaze, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 oz  cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
zest of two lemons
3 large eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t salt

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan (or butter a loaf pan and dust with granulated sugar- my preferred method borrowed from my friend Miykaelah).  

Beat the butter and cream cheese in a mixture until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and zest. Beat in the eggs one at a time until combined. Add the vanilla. Stir in the flour and salt until just combined. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan. If serving with strawberry coulis, you can serve the cake warm. If you plan to glaze the cake, let it cool to room temperature before glazing. 

Strawberry Coulis
1 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed
1/4 cup water
2 T sugar
1 T lemon juice 


In a blender or food processor, puree the berries, water, sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Strain though a fine mesh sieve and chill. Serve with several tablespoons poured over each slice of cake. 

Passionfruit Glaze
3 T passionfruit pulp
2/3 cup powdered sugar

We all know how much I love passionfruit. It is the most amazing tropical fruit I’ve ever eaten. I wrote a delightful piece about my love here. You can find passionfruit pulp in the freezer section of some latin markets. If you ever see one fresh, buy it (and immediately call me with the market coordinates)!

Whisk together the passionfruit pulp and powdered sugar until smooth. Pour over the cooled cake. Let sit at room temperature to harden. 

Passionfruit Sauce
1/4 cup passionfruit pulp
3 T simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water heated until the sugar dissolves)

Serve with several spoonfuls poured over each slice of passionfruit glazed cake for an extra passionfruity tartness. 

This cake is awesome with both fruit sauces. The strawberry is delightfully seasonal and fresh. The passionfruit is too good to describe, especially if your are as obsessed as I. Honestly, I’d recommend both. Maybe do half and half when you bake it at home. 

-Emily

 

 

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