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Archive for the ‘desserts’ Category

BLUEBERRY QUINOA TART WITH LEMON WHIPPED CREAM

Summer’s here.  And these past weeks, we’ve been eating our meals under the stars like it’s our job.  We’ve also been consuming quinoa with relatively the same amount of healthy gusto.  Light, scrummy salads, hearty quinoa bowls and the like.  The little buggers never seem to let me down.  They look ever so genteel, but in reality, are a powerhouse of nutrition not to be messed with.  So, imagine my excitement when I unknowingly stumbled upon quinoa flour.  Pulverized quinoa—now we’re talkin’!  As much as I try to remain unflappable, the thrill in my newfound discovery has me howlingl like a banshee.

I’ve been meaning to talk about this blueberry-quinoa tart for over a week now.  But unfortunately, (or fortunately for us), the first tart was devoured, with not a crumb left behind—not an iota, before I was able to snap even one proper photo.

Take TWO.

Not only can you whip up this custardy-blueberry packed tart in less time than it takes to say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, it’s the lemon whipped cream that really is the icing on the cake (or tart).  I prefer to serve this baby chilled, with a big dollop of the lemony goodness on top.  (Double the lemon whipped cream portion of the recipe below so you can have plenty on hand for the following day).  It has quickly risen the ranks to become our ultimate summertime dessert—easy-peasy, fuss-free (no need for pie weights or dry beans), light, delicious and the perfect ending to a casual outdoor supper, underneath some rather dapper twinkly stars amid the balmy, mid-summer’s night’s sky.

BLUEBERRY QUINOA TART WITH LEMON WHIPPED CREAMMUSIC PAIRING: Ella Fitzgerald, Summertime

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about pairs.  So much of the world is replete with pairs.  A pair of jeans, a pair of earrings, a pair of chopsticks, a pair of lungs, Bert and Ernie, Thelma and Louise, Mork and Mindy, Bo and Luke, Bono and The Edge, Ponch and Jon, Tarzan and Jane, Ben and Jerry, fish ‘n chips, PB&J, peaches and cream….you get the picture.  But I really, truly cannot think of a pair I love more, than—Milk and Cookies.

Could anything be more perfect?

I’ve spoken before about how the tradition of after-school milk and cookies didn’t translate across the pond to Ireland.  My beloved Irishman is making up for all those childhood years lost big time as an adult!  To this day, watching him enjoy a simple snack of milk and cookies is like watching a Cirque de Soleil performance–-beyond fascinating.  With delight in his eyes, he savors each cranny of melted chocolate, every leftover buttery crumb; he sips his milk, the way you would a fine wine, timing each sip as if he’s trained for it his whole life.  It’s both hilarious and impossibly endearing.
This recipe for whole wheat dark chocolate chip cookies has emboldened him even further.  “Come onnnnn, just one more; they’re good for us”.  I give in.  I love making these cookies GIGANTIC.  I’m talking 4-5 inches round, almost the size of my entire hand.  This allows for a crispy, outer edge before hitting the eye-rolling-to-the-back-of-the-head, soft, gooey center.  You’ll want a napkin on hand for these monsters.  I serve them warm, individually on a plate, and of course, paired with a tall glass of ice cold milk.

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, yields 10-12 gigantic cookies
Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

I make small batches simply because I don’t trust myself (or my husband) enough!!  But you can easily double the recipe.  These are best eaten warm from the oven, or later that same day.  Will keep in an airtight container for 3 days.

Use the very best chocolate you can find.  Scharffen Berger 70% Cacao, bittersweet dark is my go-to.  I love adding rolled oats, nuts, orange zest, and/or dried cherries or cranberries, and of course, a sprinkling of good sea salt before baking; it elevates chocolate chip cookies from good, to great.

Music Pairing:  Cookie Monster, C is for Cookie

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 1/4 and 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • good sea salt

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper.  

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back any bits of leftover grain.  Add butter and sugars into bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  On low, mix until just blended, about 2 minutes.  Add egg, mixing until combined.  Mix in vanilla.  Add flour mixture and blend on low until barely combined, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl.

Add chocolate, hazelnuts and zest to batter.  Using a wooden spoon, mix until just combined.  Scoop 1/3 cup mounds onto sheet, leaving 3 inches between them.  You should fit 6 on a sheet.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 18-22 minutes for the gigantic cookies and 16-20 minutes for smaller ones, rotating halfway through until cookies are evenly dark brown.  Transfer the cookies, still on parchment, to the counter to cool.

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French poet, novelist and playwright, Victor Hugo, once wrote, “Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart”.  I dote on this lovely sentiment, even though, reality feels more like a quote from Welsch poet, George Herbert who said, “Every mile, is two, in winter”.  Cold and dark, winter is my fourth favorite season.  If forced to cast a ballot, I’d vote winter off the island.

Well…okay, I take that back.

satsuma sorbet

I adore, in particular, exactly two, things about winter.  One: the peak of the citrus season.  Two: dungeness crab, and more dungeness crab (but I’ll save that for another time).  Back to the citrus.  My parents sent us a gigantic crate of juice-filled oranges and grapefruits, from a grower in Texas they’ve been loyal customers to for years.  It landed at our doorstep the day before Christmas, and our juicer has been working over-time ever since.  Even a simple breakfast of toast and jam, feels like something special, when accompanied by a tall, handsome glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.  But nothing, absolutely nothing, tops my love for satsumas.  These miniature oranges, or mandarins, become the go-to snack around the house this time of year.  The bite of each wedge is like a small burst of sunshine.  A filled bowl, is quickly, an empty one.

For me, satsumas are perfect, just as they are.  So, imagine my excitement when I discovered their perfection could be pushed upward, yet, another notch.  Forget a burst of sunshine!  When I had my first spoonful of this satsuma sorbet, a supernova literally exploded in my mouth.  The operatic sweet-tart balancing act deserves a standing ovation, and with each spoonful, spring feels closer.  Who ever said icy treats should only be enjoyed in the middle of July?  (And who knew my affection for pineapple sorbet could be surpassed so soon)?  As far as winter is concerned, I won’t cast my vote – just yet.  She’s making a fierce comeback, and I suspect, Victor Hugo knew about this sorbet, long before I did.

satsuma sorbetsatsuma sorbetsatsuma sorbet

SATSUMA SORBET, yields approximate 1 quart
Tweaked from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Andrea Nguyen

Dial back on the sugar for the simple syrup, if you enjoy things more tart than sweet.  Likewise, you can leave the measurements as is, and stir in 3/4 of the simple syrup first.  Taste, and then proceed to add the remainder, a bit at a time, until your desired sweetness is reached.  Don’t forget to save a few satsuma peels, dry them in a cold oven for a few days, and once completely dried, pop them into a ziploc for future use.

Music Pairing: Aretha Franklin, Hello Sunshine

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh satsuma juice (about 14-16 fruits, depending on size)
  • 6 tbsp fresh lime juice

Method

To make simple syrup, whisk together sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Place over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 30 seconds, or until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Stir together simple syrup, satsuma juice, and lime juice.  Taste and add more lime juice if needed to create a strong sweet-tart balance.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve positioned over a medium sized bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hours to chill well and allow for flavors to develop.

Freeze mixture in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Eat right away if you like your sorbet on the softer side.  For an icier treat, leave it in the freezer for 3-4 hours before serving.

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