Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jam Filled Almond Cookies

The richness of almond flour has me always looking for excuses to use it. I'm a fan of la richesse... at least in taste, at least in sense. Two of these cookies are almost too much. I've resigned myself to eating but one at a time, what a change, and savoring each little bite. Because, let me tell you, it turns out the blueberry jam and almond cookies are just about to two most delicious things you can combine. It's good for the same reasons that peanut butter and strawberry jelly (never grape; I'm sorry) is good really, but the contrast of textures here... just LOVE.

I also needed an excuse to break out these adorable cookie cutters. There was a fish, a duck, some pigs, a fox, a rabbit and what I think is a donkey but cannot be sure. Essentially spring on a cookie, and has spring been ever flirting with me.

 Jam Filled Almond Cookies

1 1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Blueberry jam for filling

Preheat oven to 325º. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. I found that using my hands to "knead" the cookie dough was the most efficient way to combine the ingredients completely. Form the dough into a ball and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Press the ball flat and sprinkle some more almond flour on top. Place another piece of parchment paper over the dough and roll dough to about a 2 centimeter thickness. 

Cut out 20 round discs with a cookie cutter. Place 10, or half (whatever your count my be) on a cookie sheet. Using a smaller cutter (bitty hearts? woodland creatures? stars?) cut the centers from the discs left behind, then place these on the cookie sheet as well. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely before attempting to remove from the sheet. Spoon approximately 1/2 tablespoon on each cookie acting as bottom, then complete by setting the decorative peer on top. 

 Jam on.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Barely Wilted Spinach Salad with Radish and Asaigo

There's something to be said for the ready-in-less-than-ten-minutes. I've had one of those weeks, you know, where everything cannot revert to slow-mo even for that sacred dinner hour. This will also tie in with an excuse as to why my weekly-ish posting hasn't been quite there

I was so happy with this sautéed side, surprised really how well a handful of ingredients turned into something so delectable. Given more time, I'd like to serve it with seared tuna. Or perhaps a traditional rotisserie chicken. As you'll note in our accompanying photo, I'd had but time to arrange some salami demurely to the side for the first take.

Barely Wilted Spinach Salad with Radish and Asaigo
            for 2

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup Shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 1/2 cups fresh spinach
3 radishes, sliced fine
1/4 cup onion
2 springs fresh thyme
1/2 cup grated asaigo cheese

Ready a frying pan or wok at low heat. Melt the butter and add the mushrooms and onions. Once onions have lost their crisp, add the radish and thyme. Let sautée for an additional three minutes before adding the spinach. Stir with a spatula to ensure even coating of butter and herb. Add cheese for the last two minutes of cooking. Asaigo melts quickly. Continue to rotate les legumes with the spatula until cheese has melted completely, then transfer the salad immediately to two plates. 

And while this side has taken but a drop of time, you'll want to linger over it. All hail that savory Shiitake + butter. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tea-Marbled Eggs

My younger sister got me Culinary Tea by Cynthia Gold and Lisa Stern for Christmas. To date, I've made the tea/pepper encrusted steak, and fun! These eggs:

Whom, might I ask, doesn't appreciate whimsy upon waking? While, fine, the effect is primarily decorative, the delicate whites appropriate the flavor subtly and surprisingly... making one pause and consider the hard boiled egg to be something gourmet.

There rests a possibility of playing "I Spy" as well. Look! A fish? A nose? A flower/web/merry-go-round?


Tea-Marbled Eggs
(adopted from Culinary Tea)

6 eggs
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons Oolang tea
2 whole star anise

Place the eggs with water to boil ( à la hard-boiled eggs), reducing the heat and covering once they reach their boiling point. Let cook for eight minutes, than transfer eggs immediately to a bowl of cold water to halt the cooking process. 

When the eggs are cool enough to handle, tap about the shell gently with the convex side of the spoon. Make enough to give the egg a promising marbling potential, but don't tap so hard that the whites themselves are compromised. 

And the remaining ingredients to the still-hot water in the saucepan. Return the eggs to the saucepan, ensuring enough water remains to cover completely. Bring to boil once more before again reducing the heat and covering. Let stand for eight minutes, than allow to cool.

Place the eggs in the sweet-tea liquid in the fridge to complete infusion. Wait at least two hours before patting dry and unpeeling. 

To serve: avoid salting the eggs, as the salt will bring out other flavors present in the egg rather than your careful infusion and mask the Oolang. Serve with a side of mayo our bourbon cream instead. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Blood Orange Curd

Mmmmmm morning. Sweet morning. Sweet-smelling tossed blue sheets sunshine streaming Innocence Mission kisses fleeting morning.

A morning that calls for a celebration, if only that celebration celebrates living. Praising citrus season, I'd stopped at our little co-op the evening before and filled my basket with blood oranges and lemons, and thinking perhaps that this morning would indeed be such a morning, set out to find a dessert-for-breakfast-esque experience.

(Being a chef sometimes means that you must prep ahead for the morning after.)

Partial to curds (curd is to England what crème brulée is to France in terms of MUST HAVE culinary tours of the respective regions and genres... both heavy on the eggs and sugar. Both a giggle of delight at breaking the crust with a spoon) I searched around for a recipe, and found a concise, simple version on Lavender and Lovage. The recipe below has been tweaked to suit my tastes (bring on the tart!)

Blood Orange Curd

3 medium blood oranges
2 large lemons
1 1/4 cup cane sugar
6 eggs
1/2 cup butter

Ready a bain-marie (double boiler) over low heat whilst you:

Grate the blood orange and lemon peel into a dish. Taking a second dish, squeeze the juice from recently-grated oranges and lemons. Strain seeds. Beat eggs into the juice, then add the sugar and butter. Pour mixture and grated peel into the bain-marie, stirring well. 

Minding that it doesn't heat too quickly, slow cook curd until the consistency tips from liquid to creamy. (This should take approximately ten minutes).

Transfer curd to clean jam jars and seal. Place in fridge with enough time to set (overnight) before breaking in. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Polvorón à la Millet

Hello fellow taste buds. This is, quite officially, my debut as a food blogger. To my culinary credit I have a curative bent and the love of experimentation... and there it's tapped itself out. My goal here is not so much to impart wisdom, but to learn from what readership this spot gathers.

Got my coffee. On y va!

Some months before I'd purchased a bag of millet flour, looking to branch out in the flour arsenal. I made some tarts, cherry I believe, and took the first bite thinking, "chalk." So the millet flour found itself in a shadowed corner of the cabinet and out of regular rotation.

However. Today is the sort of day that starts with a call from a friend, who'd worn an old dress of yours at a party the night before and announced it to be a huge success. There was every intention of giving the poor frock away and now, well, belle of the ball these days.

Here's to giving the millet another go.

Polvorón à la Millet 

Makes 12

1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup pig lard
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 T simple syrup
grated orange peel- approximately 1 small orange
grated ginger- 1/2 inch knob
tsp. baking powder
tsp. tapioca flour

Preheat oven to 300º. Ensure that the rack you'll be baking on is situated in the top slot. Sift flours together until uniform. In a separate bowl, cream the lard, sugar, syrup, orange peel and ginger. Add the flour and mix until the dough takes the consistency expected of a rich pie crust.

Form small balls of dough with your hands and place them on the cookie sheet. In another baking dish, preferably pyrex, fill with boiling water and place just underneath the cookie rack. The humidity is important for the even baking of these lil' guys! 

Bake for 17-20 minutes. Let cool for 15 before eating, for polvoróns are famous for their crumble, and even more so immediately out of the oven. 

With earl grey and milk: divine.