Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Summer cooler

Light, bright and cooling: that's what we look for in an adult beverage for a summer afternoon.

It was a summer afternoon in Mammoth Lakes, CA., when I had my first Eastern Retreat but it was hardly hot on Pokonobe's deck above Lake Mary. Actually we flatland-dwelling East Coasters were cold at the 8,000-foot Eastern Sierra mountain elevation.

Nonetheless, I opted for the Eastern retreat, which is saying a lot, especially as my fingers took on a blueish tinge while holding the glass. it was that good, kind of like a California Pimm's Cup created by the mixologists at the local Shelter Distillery with their Gin the Third.

While I obtained the recipe for an individual serving, many thanks to my friend and fellow travel writer Susan Katzman who thought to ask for the party-sized proportions.

                        Eastern Retreat

Mint simple syrup
Lemon juice
Cucumber juice
Cucumber garnish

For one serving
1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz. Cucumber juice
1/2 oz. Mint sauce
1 1/2 oz. Lemon juice

Mix together in a blender.
Serve over ice with a thin slice of cucumber.

For 50 servings (4 oz. liquid over ice in an 8 oz. glass)
Mix together:
3 bottles of Gin
1 bottle Mint syrup
1 bottle Lemon juice
2 bottles Cucumber juice

Garnish each serving with a thin slice of cucumber


Thursday, July 5, 2018

No leftovers with Muhammara Spread

Do you hate dealing with leftover spreads and dips at the end of a party? Too  good to waste, but too mauled to want.

There will be no leftovers with this one.

I discovered it recently at Jimmy's Taverna in Mammoth Lakes, California. With its blue and white brightened with yellow star light fixtures, the restaurant is one of the most tasteful and best decorated Greek eateries ever encountered.

Executive Chef Jeremy Graham, an alumni of The Phoenician in Scottsdale and The Westin in Mammoth Lakes, oversees two other restaurants in the same suburban complex.

But on to his Turkish inspired dish.








1 32-ounce can roasted red peppers
1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped (reserve a few for garnish)
.5 oz. roasted garlic
1 oz. lemon juice
3 oz. panko
.75 oz. pomegranate syrup (available at Middle Eastern stores), add a bit more for garnish
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. urfa pepper flakes or dried chipolte
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1//2 oz. Extra virgin olive oil,  plus some for garnish

Place ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Top with toasted walnuts, pomegranate syrup and olive oil. Serve with triangles of warm pita bread.

Do not plan on leftovers.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Bubbe would be proud of this, too

For several years, I have judged the annual Bubbe's Bake Off competition at Congregation Ahaveth Chesed's Jacksonville Jewish Food Festival.

This year's, the seventh, the judging panel was particularly impressed with entries in the children's category. Both first- and second-place-winning young bakers found their recipes on line but they prepared the entries themselves; no adults are allowed in the kitchen during prep and baking.

This, the second place winner by 13-year-old Ellie Pinnar, will be first in the hearts of chocolate and peanut butter lovers.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Chocolate Cake
Inspiration: "This peanut butter chocolate cake reminds me of my grandpa, who passed away in January of 2018. He LOVED all desserts, but the combo of chocolate and peanut butter was definitely in his top favorites. I got the inspiration from my dad. We were talking about cake flavors for the bake-off, and he reminded me of my grandpa and his favorite desserts. That's when it hit me to do this cake. Thanks, Daddy!"

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups hot water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbl distilled white vinegar
1 Tbl vanilla extract

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake Filling
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache
16 oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 8.5-ounce bags Dove Peanut Butter Promises, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9×2-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray with flour.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and whisk just until combine.
Divide batter between pans. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert them onto the rack. Leave cakes upside down (this flattens domed cakes) to cool completely.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Filling
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream until it forms soft peaks. In another large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar until blended and smooth. Gently fold in whipped cream a little at a time. Fold in 1 cup Dove chocolates, finely chopped.

Chocolate Ganache
Place half of the chocolate in a mixing bowl. Heat heavy cream on medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add remaining chocolate and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Cool until ganache is thickened but still thin enough to drip down the sides of the cake.

Assembling Cake
When the cake layers are cool and ganache has thickened, evenly spread filling on bottom layer, carefully stack the second layer on top of filling. Spoon chocolate ganache on top of the cake, spreading to edges and letting the ganache drip down the sides. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Pile remaining coarsely chopped Dove chocolates on top.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Bubbe would be proud

Children's division entries
For several years, I have judged the annual Bubbe's Bake Off competition at Congregation Ahaveth Chesed's Jacksonville Jewish Food Festival.

This year's, the seventh, the judging panel was particularly impressed with entries in the children's category. Both first- and second-place-winning young bakers found their recipes on line but they prepared the entries themselves; no adults are allowed in the kitchen during prep and baking.

Here is the first place winner so you can taste for yourself. Second place will follow later.

First place: Hannah Brown, 13, said summers with lemons and picking blueberries with her grandmother was her inspiration for choosing this recipe from https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/02/09/lemon-blueberry-layer-cake/

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 TBS vanilla extract
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, (spoon and leveled)
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
zest plus juice of 3 medium lemons
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw)
1 TBS all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. full-fat brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 - 2 TBS heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour three 9x2-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until creamy -- about 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until everything is completely combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.

In a large-sized bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat on low speed for 5 seconds, then add the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Remove from the mixer and stir lightly until everything is just combined. Toss the blueberries in 1 tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter. Batter is extremely thick. Do not over-mix at any point. Over-mixing will lend a tough, dense textured crumb.

Spoon batter evenly into 3 prepared cake pans. If only using 2 cake pans, bake time will be longer. Bake the three layers for about 21-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until no lumps remain, about 3 full minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add 1 more tablespoon of cream to thin out, if desired. Recipe is enough for a light frost.

Using a large serrated knife, trim the tops off the cake layers to create a flat surface. Place 1 layer on your cake stand. Evenly cover the top with cream cheese frosting. Top with 2nd layer, more frosting, then the third layer. Top with frosting and spread around the sides. Top with blueberries or lemon garnish if desired. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting, or the cake may fall apart as you cut.

Tip: Prepare cakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cakes at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature if desired before serving.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Add whiskey to chocolate for addictive adult ice cream


Whiskey, Wine and Wildlife at The Westin Jekyll Island on the Georgia coast is a first-class food and beverage festival. Wildlife comes from the Jekyll Island Foundation which supports the local Sea Turtle Center. #W3Jekyll

Imagine grazing on delicious food, fine wines and hand-crafted whiskeys and cocktails in an oceanfront setting on a brilliantly sunny, 75 degree mid-February Saturday afternoon. It doesn't get much better.

Unless at the tasting party the night before, you stopped at Westin Executive Chef Skipp Worden's station where he was scooping up Chocolate Whiskey Ice Cream. It was everyone's favorite.

Fortunately, Chef Skipp is as generous as he is talented and agreed to share the recipe. One note: When it came to whiskey, Chef used the good stuff, Woodford Reserve.

 Chocolate Whiskey Ice Cream

8 egg yolks
½ cup whiskey
1 cup sugar, divided
3 cups heavy cream (40% milk fat)
2 vanilla beans cut in half lengthwise and the flesh scraped out
6 oz. melting chocolate

Whip together the egg yolks, ½ cup of sugar and the whiskey.
In a saucepan, add the cream, ½ cup sugar, vanilla bean and chocolate. Simmer until the chocolate is melted, but do not boil.

Slowly add the hot cream mix to the egg yolks to temper. Stir constantly and pour slowly. You don’t want scrambled eggs.

Once tempered, place back onto a low heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens. Do not allow mixture to boil.

Strain thickened mixture and place in the refrigerator to cool (to at least 41 degrees).

Place cooled mixture into ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Once the ice cream starts to harden place it into a container for freezing.

Note: For extra texture, add chocolate chips, nuts or pieces of your favorite candy bar into your ice cream during the last few minutes of the mixing process.

This should accompany every adult's birthday cake.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Unexpected Seasonal Sweet: Silver Queen Corn Butter

Scallops enhanced with Silver Queen Corn Butter.
Spur-of-the-moment on a Friday night in Valdosta, GA, the last thing I expected to find was a table at a must-try, memorable restaurant. To be honest, I didn't expect anything better than a chain joint, but Steel Maganolias in a downtown where most sidewalks were rolled up was a revelation.

So was learning Valdosta had a Restaurant Week and my friends and I had stumbled into it. A three-course meal for $25? Perfect.

The Kale Salad with blueberries, feta, toasted almonds with Georgia Peach vinaigrette almost was, but the Pan-seared Sea Scallops with Yukon gold mashed potatoes, tomato, corn and green onion salsa and silver queen corn butter hit bulls-eye on the perfection target. Especially the silver queen corn butter. It could make shoe leather a gourmet treat.

When I prevailed upon owner/chef/manager Keira Moritz for the butter recipe, she could not have been more gracious.

So quick, go to your farmer's market, grab that corn and get cooking.

Steel Magnolias Silver Queen Corn Butter

Makes about one quart.

6 ears of silver queen corn
1 quart corn stock
white onion, minced
3/4 quart cream
1-2 cloves garlic
8 oz. butter
olive oil
salt and white pepper

Cut corn off the cob.
Put cobs in a large covered pot with a bit of the onion, salt and pepper and add just enough water to cover. Boil until reduced to one cup.

Saute corn in oil with garlic then add corn stock and cream. Reduce by one-fourth and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix with butter in a blender and strain if desired.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A touch of Malay from Michael's on East

Michael's on East, the popular Sarasota, FL, restaurant, has never disappointed me. I jump at any excuse to visit Sarasota and won't leave without at least one meal there, always a deliciously memorable experience.

So when Chef Jamil shared this South African-inspired recipe my mouth began watering and I wanted to share it. Takes  bit of doing for the home cook, but doesn't your tongue tingle imagining the results?

Cape Malay Curried Shrimp and Scallops

Ginger Stir-Fried Vegetables, Pine Nut and Date Chutney

Serves 4

6 oz. dried dates
3 oz. golden raisins
1/2 oz. turmeric
1 oz paprika
1 oz. ground coriander
1/2 oz. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. chopped fresh mint
2 tsp. chopped parsley
4 oz. olive oil
1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 2 limes
2 dried red chili peppers, diced

Soak the raisins and dates in hot water for about 15 minutes. Discard water.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the oil, raisins, red chilies and dates. Cook for 2 minutes. Add paprika, coriander, cinnamon, and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes. Add lime juice, mint and cilantro. Cook for about 2 more minutes and set aside.

Curry Shrimp Bisque
1 lb. baby shrimp, shell on
1 medium Spanish yellow onion, finely diced
3 oz. olive oil
3 bay leaves
1 oz. coriander
2 oz. mild curry
1 oz. turmeric
1 oz ground ginger powder
3 aniseed
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 spear lemongrass, chopped
16 oz. heavy cream
26 oz. coconut milk

Dry roast all the spices in a thick-based saucepan over medium high heat. Add oil, shrimp, onion, chopped garlic and lemongrass and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cream and coconut milk, then cook for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Strain to discard the solids and set aside.

Ginger Stir Fried Vegetables
3 TBS Canola oil
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and julienned
1/2 cup red onlion, thinly sliced
1 cup cauliflower and broccoli florets
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup bok choy, sliced
1 cup red and green cabbage, sliced
1 cup fresh green beans
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp.kosher salt
1/2 cup snow peas
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

In large saute pan over medium high heat, add oil and cook until it starts to smoke.  Add the peppers and onion, stirring constantly. Continue to stir and add broccoli, cauliflower, garlic and fresh ginger. Follow with bok choy, green beans, pepper and salt. Continue to stir, cooking until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 more minutes. Stir in snow peas and remove from heat. Put aside until ready to plate.

Shrimp and Scallops
8-12 shrimp, peeled and deveined
8-10 dry scallops
2 oz. olive oil
1/2 red pepper, julienned
1/2 yellow pepper, julienned
1 TBS. toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup date chutney
1 cup curry shrimp sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 TBS. chopped chives

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add the oil until it starts to smoke. Add the scallops and sear until golden brown. Flip the scallops, add the peppers and cook for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and pine nuts, cooking one side. Flip the shrimp and add the chutneyh. Coomk fo 1 minute then  add the shrimp curry sauce and bring to a small boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

To Plate

In pasta bowls, pour the sauce, add the vegetables in the middle. Divide shrimp and scallops around the vegetables, then top the shrimp and scallops withj the chutney. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Smaakilke ete! lekker eet! Bon Apetit!