every candy lover’s dream

We are no strangers to sweets here on the blog and I rarely shy away from sugar. My dear friend Miykaelah knows this well and sent me an absolutely perfect birthday gift.  What is the most frivolous and sugary of confections? Why, cotton candy of course! Yes friends, you heard that right … I am now the proud owner of a professional grade, countertop cotton candy machine! I’m pretty sure I squealed when I opened the box and was so excited that I immediately made my first batch. I’ll share a few photos of the excitement.

Conclusions: Cotton candy is always amazing and delicious. It does not get old. And it’s a lot hard to be a carnie than it looks … our cotton candy poofs never made it past infancy before sticking to the heating element and self-destructing. Clearly,  I need a little practice, but boy am I looking forward to that. Cotton candy, anyone?


nectarine sorbet

It is officially summer and nectarines have just begun to show up at our farmer’s market. I love nectarines and was so happy to see them that I went a little crazy and bought several pounds without blinking an eye. And then I realized that I rode my bike to the market. I carefully placed my bounty in my backpack, but those tree-ripened nectarines were no match for the streets of San Francisco in pack. Sadly, they arrived home a little worse for wear. So I decided to turn those bruised (but still delicious) nectarines into sorbet.  It was a success – one that I hope to repeat again this summer.

Nectarine Sorbet
6 – 8 nectarines, chopped into 1 – 1.5 inch pieces (no need to remove the skins)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced

In a saucepan, heat the nectarines and water until the nectarines are soft and juicy, about 10 minutes. Add the sugar and turn off the heat. Stir to combine. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Add the lemon juice. Chill the mixture until cool. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions. It will lighten considerably in color once it is sufficiently frozen.

I served the sorbet with fresh berries and a whole wheat shortbread cookie.


Queso Chronicles Recipes

homemade creme fraiche

Cream, butter, cheese … oh, how I love them all. Today, let’s talk about creme fraiche, or french mature cream as Julia Child describes it. Creme fraiche is extremely versatile because it doesn’t separate when heated and it has a mild flavor that is still more distinct than heavy cream. Here at Chez Jojonoodle we use it quite often, but creme fraiche can’t always be found and is often expensive because it’s considered a specialty product. Thankfully, Julia Child noticed a similar phenomenon back in the 50s and included a recipe in her cookbook for making creme fraiche at home.  I decided it was time to plunge in.

Now, I’m about to tell you to do the most un-American of things, but stay with me. (After all, Julia Child told me to do it). First, heat some cream to a perfect bacteria-multiplying temperature of 85 degrees. And then let that sit out overnight at room temperature.

Homemade Creme Fraiche, from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
1 cup heavy cream
1 t buttermilk

In a small saucepan, heat the cream and buttermilk to just under 85 degrees. Pour into a jar and loosely cover. Let sit out at room temperature (75 – 65 degrees) overnight, until thickened. Cover and refrigerate. Use on anything … from soups to crostini,  pizza to desserts. Strawberries and creme fraiche anyone?!?

Just try it … you won’t regret having this stuff on hand (even if it freaks you out to leave dairy at room temperature)!



crostini with creme fraiche, radishes and chives

This crostini was born out of hunger and need to clean out the fridge. We had some stale bread, and some lingering radishes, chives and creme fraiche in our fridge from previous dishes, and ta-da! To our delight, this crostini was actually really really good. The garlic and radish complimented each other nicely, and who doesn’t love creme fraiche!

Crostini with Creme Fraiche, Radishes and Chives
6 slices of stale bread
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 T chives, minced
5 – 6 small radishes, sliced thinly
2 T creme fraiche

Toast the bread under the broiler. While still hot, rub the clove of garlic lightly over each piece. Top with the creme fraiche, chives and radishes.

 I can’t help myself, those radishes are just too cute!



baking therapy: marble gugelhupf – yep, that is a cake

I bought myself a bundt pan at a thrift store when we visited Sacramento a while back and I decided to break it in with a marble cake. This recipe was adapted liberally from NPR’s The Splendid Table. The flavor is nice, but I overcooked it a bit and so, sadly, it was dry. See all those little crumbs all over the place …

Jordan was left with the terrible task of cleaning the bundt pan after I unmolded the cake. He tells me it was a real pain. Next time, I’ll just make this cake in a loaf pan. Added bonus: it’s harder to overcook things when they’re in a loaf pan. Sadly, that bundt pan might be heading back to the thrift store. You’ve got to be cut-throat when space is a premium (and when you’ve got an antiquing habit).

Marble Gugelhupf, adapted from NPR’s The Splendid Table
3 oz high-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I like Scharffen Berger)
2 cups cake flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup milk
2 t vanilla
2 sticks of butter
1 cup powdered sugar
6 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a pan with butter and flour.

Over a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the chocolate. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. In a liquid measuring cup, mix the milk and vanilla.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the powdered sugar. Then beat in the egg yolks one at a time.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until stiff. Stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten it. Fold the remaining egg whites into the batter. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the chocolate and stir to combine.

Pour 1/3 of the vanilla batter into the mold. Top with the chocolate batter and then with the remaining vanilla batter. Use a knife to swirl the batters together into marbled goodness. Pretty, huh?

Bake 45 minutes – 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.



ginger mint gimlet

This cocktail is a favorite of our friend Robin. It is refreshing and summery – perfect for a warm San Francisco evening. A little gin, lime, mint and ginger sure make my apartment less stuffy! I’m guessing it’s also hot where you are, so go home, open your windows or sit on your porch and give this fine beverage a try.

Ginger Mint Gimlet, also know as Jessi’s Special
2 oz gin
2 limes, juiced
2 sprigs of mint, leaves removed from their stems
2 oz ginger beer or ginger ale

Shake the gin, lime juice and mint over vigorously ice. Strain into a glass and top off with ginger beer. Welcome Summer!



homemade fettucini with basil pesto

Encouraged by my mushroom pasta victory last weekend,  I decided that I just had to make pasta again when Jordan’s sister Liz and her boyfriend Kyle came to visit. While the boys napped, Liz and I dove into some serious fettucini-making. I rolled and cut the pasta and Liz meticulously separated each strand and found places to dry it in our tinsy kitchen. It was a smooth and successful operation.

We tossed the fresh pasta with a basil pesto that Jordan made earlier in the week and little mozzarella balls. It was light, fresh and satisfying.  Now, after two homemade pasta adventures, I fully appreciate the premium that you pay for fresh pasta at the grocery store. Fresh pasta is a lot of work!

Homemade Fettucini with Basil Pesto
1 lb fresh pasta
1 cup fresh mozzarella, we used bocconcini
1/4 cup basil pesto
salt, pepper, chili flake

For the pasta
I used the same egg pasta recipe that I used last weekend for the mushroom pasta because it was easy (albeit time intensive) and turned out well.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t salt
3 egg yolks
3 eggs
1 T olive oil
1 T water

Mix the flour and salt together.  In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, olive oil and water. On a work surface, pour out the flour mixture and make a well in the center. Pour the eggs into the well. With a fork, stir the eggs in a circular motion slowly bringing more flour into the eggs. Once the flour has soaked up the eggs and it is not in danger of running all over or when you accidentally break through the well and egg is rushing towards the edge of your counter, use a bench scraper to mix the flour and eggs together. It will be crumbly. Knead the dough into a ball using a squeezing motion. Once it has combined, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 45 minutes. While the dough is resting, make the pesto.

Divide the dough into two balls. Dust one with flour and roll it out into a flat pancake. Open your pasta maker to the largest setting and pass the dough through. Double the dough on itself and pass it though again. Continue to pass the dough through at the largest setting, until it is smooth. Cut the kneaded dough into several smaller pieces. Wrap the pieces you aren’t currently stretching with plastic wrap. Gradually stretch the dough, passing it though progressively thinner settings. Cut the fettuccini using the cutter attachment on your pasta maker or cut into strips with a thin sharp knife. Drape over rolling pins, broom handles and lay into parchment-lined baking sheets until you are ready to cook.

For the pesto
1 bunch basil
1 clove of garlic
2 T untoasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup plus 2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
pepper, chili flake

Combine all of the ingredients plus 2 T of olive oil in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Drizzle in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil with the food processor running. Add more salt and pepper if needed. This pesto is so fresh and delicious and will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top before refrigerating so it keeps its vibrant green color.

Put a pot of salted water to boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Drain and toss with the basil pesto and mozzarella.



little birds

Emily and I wanted to do something a little special (and very delicious) for a recent dinner party.  After nearly endless debate and hours scanning the pages of our cookbooks, we settled roast cornish hens from Ad Hoc at Home.  These succulent little chickens are slathered and stuffed with gremolata butter.  It couldn’t possibly be bad.

Roasted Game Hens with Gremolata Butter, from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home.

For the gremolata butter
1 t black peppercorns
finely rated zest of 2 lemons
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
12 T (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T lemon juice
2 T  finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 T kosher salt

Grind the pepper in a mortar and pestle, add the lemon zest and garlic, and mash to a paste.  Stir pepper mixture and butter together in a medium bowl followed by the lemon juice.  Stir in the parsley and salt.

Yummmmm.  You could do anything with this and it will turn out amazing.  But, we chose to put it all over little birds.

For the hens
4 cornish game hens
duck fat (you can use canola oil if you’d like)
6 garlic cloves, smashed, skin left on
1 bunch thyme
fleur de sel (any sea salt will do)

Remove the neck and innards if they are still intact.  Rinse the birds inside and out then dry them thoroughly with a paper towel.  Then remove the wish bone.

Next, insert your fingers between the skin and the meat, starting at the end of the cavity.  Work your way down the breasts and repeat for the thighs.  Once the skin is loosened, insert about .5 T of the gremolata butter under each thigh and about 1 T under each breast.  Truss the birds and let them stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  While they rest, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Brush the birds with melted duck fat (or canola oil if you’re using that) and season with sea salt.  Don’t go crazy with the salt here because there is a healthy does of it in the butter already.  Place the birds on their backs in a single layer on a roasting pan and evenly scatter the garlic and thyme around the birds.   Put the birds in the oven for about 25 or 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the thigh is 160 degrees.  Let rest on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes then either serve them whole, halved, or quartered.

This was a delightful, tasty meal and those little birds made it feel special.  The gremolata butter is great and I can think of a dozen things to do with it.  The first being this same recipe, but with normal sized chickens.  This is my only complaint with the recipe; the birds are so small that they only take 25 to 30 minutes to cook, which is not nearly enough time for the skin to get brown and crispy.  Next time, I’ll be making this recipe with a four pound chicken and giving it 50-60 minutes in the oven (reducing the temperature to 350 after 10 or 15 minutes, of course).  I’ll let you guys know how it turns out.


Randomness San Francisco

exciting news on the blog front

Guess what team?!? The Answer is Always Pork and yours truly have been featured on Foodia’s Tastemakers series!

Foodia is a young San Francisco-based company that helps users sift through all the clutter in our food system and find foods that are high quality, healthy and most importantly, delicious. Foodia is a great resource when you’re up against shelves and shelves of products at the market and don’t know what’s best. Join Foodia to see what the community is saying about the food around you, find items that are healthful and wholesome and unearth the environmental impact of getting your food from farm to fork.

If you’d like to check out my interview with Foodia and my thoughts on eating good food, blogging and the U.S. food system, visit their blog here. I’d sure appreciate it if you did!


San Francisco

la cocina: african celebration

La Cocina is an amazing San Francisco business dedicated to expanding business opportunities for low-income women food entrepreneurs. La Cocina provides affordable commercial kitchen space, guidance to its participants for planning and growing their businesses and access to larger markets for their products. La Cocina helps local women become economically self-sufficient and contribute to the vibrant San Francisco economy doing what they love to do. Just one quick example: With La Cocina’s guidance and facilities, Veronica of El Hurache Loco has gone from an enthusiastic home cook, to a food stand operator, to catering events, to planning the opening of her own restaurant. Like I said, amazing! If you are interested in learning more about the wonderful work La Cocina is doing here in San Francisco, please visit them here.

Last Wednesday, I went down to La Cocina to photograph their African Celebration cooking class. The class was led by two of La Cocina’s businesses – Chiefo’s Kitchen and Eji’s Ethiopian Gourmet.  I had a great time and I wanted to share some of the photos. If you are interested in attending a future cooking class like Simply Salsa or Back in the USSR, check out the offerings and sign up here.