Thursday, August 1, 2013

ginger ice cream with lemon polenta cake

Ginger ice cream. Pure and simple. It's a rich yet delicate custard-like ice cream with no frills, no chocolate, no crunch. Just the essence of freshly chopped ginger, milk, cream, sugar and a pinch of salt. It's dreamy. Like, for real, ethereal floating on a cloud dreaminess. There's a saying in dutch "alsof er een engeltje over je tong piest," that basically means it's like an angel pissing on your tongue. Sure, it sounds kinda gross and weird, but just go with it. This ice cream is angel pee-worthy.

I served it with a lemon polenta cake from Nigella Lawson. The recipe is here: . I substituted the almond meal with spelt flour. It came out a bit healthier/drier tasting than I'd like. Next time I would try it with the recommended almond meal or a mix of other gluten free flours.

fresh ginger ice cream
makes about one quart (1 liter)

3 ounces unpeeled fresh ginger
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks

Cut the ginger lengthwise and then cut it into thin slices. Place the ginger in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover the ginger by about 1/2 inch, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then drain, discarding the liquid.

Return the blanched ginger slices to the saucepan, then add the milk, 1 cup of the cream, sugar and salt. Warm the mixture, cover, and remove from the heat. Let steep at room temperature for one hour.

Rewarm the mixture. Remove the ginger slices with a slotted spoon and discard. Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat, scrapping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon/spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir in the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

gluten free brownies with rhubarb ice cream and salted caramel sauce

I adapted the brownie part of this recipe from Rebecca Katz's new cookbook called Longevity Kitchen. She's a pioneer in health supportive food and has written extensively about nourishing the body to ward off disease. I've bought my mom two of her cookbooks that are geared towards cancer survivors, and they're fantastic. Many of her recipes are vegetable focused, but I decided to instead hone in on something a little sweeter. These gluten free brownies are made with heart healthy olive oil and nutrient dense almond flour. The inclusion of dark chocolate ups the antioxidant profile, and well, it just tastes damn good!

2/3 cup almond flour/meal
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

8 ounces dark chocolate (68 to 72% cacao content), chopped

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 eggs

1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup

1/3 cup maple sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cashews

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan.

Put the almond flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and stir with a whisk to combine.

Put half of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stir- ring often, just until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the olive oil.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until frothy. Slowly add the maple syrup and maple sugar, whisking all the while, and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla extract, then gradually add the chocolate, whisking vigorously all the while, and continue whisking until smooth and glossy.

Add the flour mixture and beat for about 1 minute. Stir in the remaining chocolate and the walnuts. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature in the pan, then cover and refrigerate for at least
1 hour before cutting into 16 brownies.

You can also use a 9 by 6-inch baking pan. If you do, the baking time will be only about 25 minutes.

The ice cream portion part of this is adapted from the always decadent Martha Stewart. Her recipes (or recipes her minions have created) are almost always time-consuming and tedious, but always worth it. Here you have to cook down and then blend rhubarb, separate eggs, temper them a bit, add to a rich heavy cream mixture and then cool down before finally putting it into a ice cream maker with half the rhubarb. Let that run for twenty minutes, then add the final rhubarb mixture as a beautiful swirl at the end. Whew! I'm exhausted, but I've got one hell of a delicious ice cream fit for this most decidedly warm June afternoon.

4 cups chopped rhubarb
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 large egg yolks
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Place rhubarb, sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until rhubarb is very soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to the jar of a blender and carefully blend until smooth. Transfer rhubarb puree to refrigerator until chilled.

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk eggs just to combine; set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix together cream, milk, honey, and salt. Place over medium-high heat and cook until mixture barely begins to simmer; reduce heat to medium.

Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup cream mixture into eggs. Repeat process with another 1/2 cup cream. Slowly stir egg mixture into saucepan with cream using a heatproof spatula. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Strain custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl set in an ice-water bath. Using a clean spatula, stir custard occasionally until cooled. Cover and transfer to refrigerator until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups rhubarb puree into chilled custard. Transfer custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Meanwhile, place a 1 quart container in the freezer and freeze until ice cream is ready. Transfer ice cream to chilled container and stir in remaining 1/2 cup rhubarb puree. Serve ice cream immediately with honey-scented strawberries and whipped cream or for firmer ice cream, transfer to freezer for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

Okay, you still with me?! Now, onto the final bit. The salted caramel ice cream. Also an adaptation. This one from The Perfect Scoop by famed pastry chef and ice cream connoisseur David Lebovitz.

6 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, divided in half
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp sea salt

Melt butter in a heavy sauce pan over medium high heat, add sugar and stir frequently until sugar is a golden brown.

As soon as the sugar mixture starts to smell like caramel, remove it from the heat and cautiously whisk in 1/2 cup of cream. It will bubble up like crazy. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup cream, vanilla and salt. If caramel congeals a bit, rewarm it over low heat.  Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes before serving over ice cream. Refrigerate any leftover sauce. The sauce can be re-warmed in a microwave.

I know, I know. It's a lot of work. But you can make all the different components ahead of time, so it doesn't seem so overwhelming. The ice cream (obviously) freezes well, the caramel can hang out in the fridge for two weeks if it's in a sealed container and then just warmed up a bit to get all nice and gooey. And the brownies, well, they taste best baked fresh.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

ramp pesto and spring rolls with jasmine rice, red lentils, wakame and mushrooms

Yes, ramps are trendy. But I don't care. They're like daffodils and asparagus, the first signs of spring. And I love them. My fellow food blogger, Leah Lizarondo has already said what needs to be said about this over-rated and rightfully so, amazing wild leek. Her recipe has the ramps front and center,  three different ways. One way is in a macadamia nut pesto, another is sauteed with asparagus and mushrooms and the third is wrapped around a lovely gluten-free savory crepe that has the beautiful green stalks in it! I chose to adapt her ramp pesto using pumpkin seeds and sauteed the white stalks of the ramp with some crimini mushrooms from Wild Purveyors located in trendy (yes, again with the trendy. I can't help it, sometimes trends exist for a reason!) Lawrenceville. I then used the pesto as a dipping sauce for spring rolls.

Ok, on with the recipe. It's got a lot of parts to it. But don't be discouraged. They're all super easy and fun to assemble. Start by cooking some rice with red lentils. I added lentils for some protein heft and it mixes well with the creamy jasmine rice. It really just involves adding said ingredients to a pot and adding water about an inch above the rice/lentils. While those are simmering, blend up the green leaves of the ramps with the pumpkin seeds, olive oil, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. After that's done, saute the white and purplish stalks of the ramps with the sliced mushrooms, a dash of salt and cook until the mushrooms start to brown and bits of ramps start to stick to the pan. Deglaze (a fancy way of saying that it's time to add some sort of liquid to the pan and lift up those flavorful bits of deliciousness) using brown rice vingear or a splash of lemon juice or red wine vinegar or any vinegar or wine or beer or water....reallly anything you want. The mushrooms are like sponges and will soak up any flavor you throw at it.

Here are the details, oh I mean, a sort of recipe that's endlessly adaptable:

pumpkin seed ramp pesto:
1/2 pound ramps
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
squeeze of lemon juice
sea salt
black pepper
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
olive oil

rice/lentil mix
1 cup jasmine rice
1/4 cup lentils
about 2 cups water

veg stir fry mix
1/2 pound of crimini mushrooms, stems removed
leftover white/purplish stalks of the ramps
olive oil
sea salt

Oh, and lest I forget about the wakame! The brilliant sea vegetable that really doesn't get enough cred. Sea veggies really are the best! It's an easy way to add minerals and vital nutrients to your diet. And it usually consists of just re-hydrating some dry seaweed. In this case, I used a 1/4 cup of wakame, put it in a bowl and covered it with water. It plumps up in about five minutes and that's it! Add straight to your dish!

The hardest part of this recipe is the spring rolls. It seems like it'd be confusing, but it's really foul-proof. Really, you just need to buy a package of spring roll wrappers and re-hydrate them. (Sound familiar?!)

Get a shallow dish of warm water. Place spring roll in water until soft and pliable, about 15-20 seconds. Remove wrapper and lay on a wet towel and blot until it is slightly sticky. Place the rice/lentil mixture first, followed by the mushroom/ramps and finish with a small handful of wakame in the middle of the wrapper. Fold the bottom up over the filling, fold in the sides and then roll the wrapper up to form a neat roll shape. Serve immediately with the ramp pesto or cover with a damp tea towel to keep moist.

Monday, April 22, 2013

sugarmaid stroopwafels

Some of you may know that I've started a little sweets business. It's called sugarmaid stroopwafels and it's based on my ancestral love of dutch confections. As a little dutch-american girl, I would often travel to Holland with my mom, specifically Gouda, to visit my Aunt Tonny. I loved the farmer's markets where these ridiculously delicious morsels of cinnamon spiced cookies were freshly pressed on a hot waffle iron and brought together by a rich and luxurious warm caramel sauce.

I've always been a baker, albeit an amateur one for many years in my mom's kitchen. In 2008, I went to a culinary school called Natural Gourmet Institute that specialized in healthy cooking. Though I love savory cooking, I've tended to gravitate towards the sweets. After giving my all at many bakeries throughout NYC and Pittsburgh, I've realized I needed to start my own. Focused on my own traditions, my own ethos and my own way of baking. Sometimes health supportive, sometimes rich and decadent. Always delicious. 

I've just started taking orders. Thus far, I've cooked up a traditional version made with flour, butter, milk and eggs. I also have a vegan one made with non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance) in place of the butter. And there's also a gluten free one that can be vegan or non-vegan. It's made with a blend of Bob's Red Mill buckwheat, sorghum, chickpea and white rice flour. All varieties have a blend of nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. And a thick gooey caramel center that heats up well over a pipping hot cup of coffee.

Message me for pricing/shipping costs.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pittsburghers! Come join me at this awesome fundraiser at Bar Marco tomorrow night and be one of the first to try my stroopwafels!

Monday, March 18, 2013

grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup topped with kale pesto

It's a cold and blustery day here in Pittsburgh. Perfect weather for a warm, nourishing and healthy soup. It all comes together in about a half hour, if you multitask the components. The kale pesto is an ingenious idea, and not my own. It's an adapted recipe from Dr. Weil's new cookbook based on his health supportive restaurants, True Food Kitchen. However, I didn't have the necessary eight cups of kale to make the pesto. I had about four cups, therefore I substituted the rest with parsley and carrot tops (yes, carrot tops!). You can actually eat the leafy green top of a carrot. It's an outstanding source of chlorophyll, high in vitamin K and rich in protein. Who knew! They're not especially flavorful, but that's why it's great in pesto. Add pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and you got yourself a lovely satisfying topping in soups, salads or pasta. 

The soup is super easy to make. I just used canned tomatoes, a bouillon cube and some italian spices. The grilled cheese part is the easiest. Slice up some good cheddar cheese and put it between two slices of your favorite bread. 

kale pesto
4 cups kale, cleaned, stemmed and chopped 
2 cups parsley, cleaned 
2 cups carrot tops, cleaned
1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
¾ cup olive oil
½ cup pine nuts
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp smoked paprika

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water.

Plunge the kale into the boiling water for 3 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the kale from the hot water to the ice bath. The cold water allows the kale to keep its bright green color. After 3 minutes, drain kale in a colander, then squeeze it firmly to press out excess water.

Put kale and remaining ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The pesto will keep for up to 3 days.

tomato soup 
Two 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes ( I used one fire- roasted and one plain crushed tomato)
One bouillion cube
One teaspoon each of dried oregano, marjoram, basil and thyme
One teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

Heat a medium sized pot on low heat. Add olive oil and spices and toast for a couple minutes. Add bouillon cube, salt and water. Add canned tomatoes. Simmer for about fifteen minutes, depending how thick or thin you like your tomato soup. The longer you simmer, the thicker and more flavorful it becomes. It actually tastes better the next day! 

For the grilled cheese sandwiches, I heated about a tablespoon of olive oil, placed the sandwiches down on the pan and used a heavy lid to sear the bread until golden and crusty.

Ladle the soups into bowls, top with kale pesto, and a good amount of cracked black pepper and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for heat.

Friday, March 15, 2013

guinness chocolate cake

Here's a recipe to get me back into the swing of things. I love baking. I love frosting cakes. But I've realized I like it on my time and with my ideas. Not baking and decorating for a mismanaged bakery with poor quality ingredients and even less quality people. So, moving on. My wheels are spinning about setting up my own business. I have some ideas, but I'm going to keep them to myself for awhile until I get a better handle on what I want to do. In the meantime, here's a great St. Patrick's Day cake recipe. I followed it to a tee (except I only had two eight inch pans, so one of the cakes is a 9 inch in diameter) hence the little decorated flowers to show off the tier. The white frosting is simply a stick of butter and a cup of confectioner's sugar, a tsp of vanilla and a couple tablespoons of heavy cream to bring it all together. The guinness, or any stout beer will do, gives this cake a lovely rich and roasted taste and helps to accentuate the strong dark chocolate.

Here's the link to the recipe:

And here are my photo's 

MMMMM... Guinness!

Four sticks of butter!

The melted butter, guinness and cocoa powder mixed. It might look like it would be sweet and delicious, but there's no sugar added yet. So hold your horses before you start licking the utensils!

Heavy cream for the frosting.

Frosting the edges

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

almond, hazelnut and poppy seed granola

New year. New beginnings. It's been more than several months since I've posted on this blog. And in that time, I've moved to Pittsburgh, PA with my boyfriend, Jacob and have had numerous and random food related jobs. I've worked as a lunch lady in a private school in Lower Manhattan, I've private cheffed for an eccentric old man in Soho. I've baked at a pretentious french bakery on Butler street in the cool kid part of Pittsburgh called Lawrenceville. And now I'm working part time as a baker and sous chef at a fancy Bed and Breakfast in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

I've cooked plenty at our new home, but I haven't hunkered down and really put together a recipe to post about. I thought I'd ease into the new year with a simple granola recipe that's healthy, fast and super delicious. And so much cheaper than buying all- ready made granola. There are a million different ways you can do this recipe. I basically just made it according to what I had in the cupboards. I like my granola with a lot of texture and spice, therefore I added two kinds of nuts (almond and hazelnut), raisins, poppy seeds for something a little different, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. And then I sweetened it all up with a bit of maple syrup. This granola is great served atop a big dollop of greek yogurt.

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not the instant kind)
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup blanched and sliced almonds
1/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
about a 1/4 cup maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want it)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. 

Mix all ingredients into a medium sized bowl until oats are evenly coated.  Spread onto a large baking sheet and cook for about 12 minutes or until nuts begin to brown and get fragrant.

Let cool for five minutes. Sprinkle on top of yogurt or mix with almond milk as an awesome heart-healthy cereal.

Oats slathered with maple syrup, almonds and hazelnuts before being baked

 Baked granola sprinkled on top of greek yogurt

Saturday, September 8, 2012

peach basil ice cream

Peach basil ice cream just makes sense. They're both peak in season right now. Both epitomize summer. And well, basil's licorice-like qualities perfectly complements the floral sweetness of peaches. I combined two different ice cream recipes to make this one. It definitely takes a bit of time, but it's so worth it. 

Peach Ice Cream:

4 large peaches
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Peel the peaches, slice them in half, and remove the pits. Cut the peaches into chunks and cook them with water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, covered, stirring once or twice, until soft and cooked through. About 10 minutes. 

Remove from heat, stir in the sugar, then cool to room temperature. Puree the cooked peaches and any liquid in a blender or food processor with the sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla and lemon juice until almost smooth, but slightly chunky. 

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge, then mix with Basil Ice Cream (recipe to follow)

Basil Ice Cream:

1 cup packed basil leaves
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1 lemon

Using a food processor, grind the basil leaves with the sugar and one cup of the cream until the leaves are ground as fine as possible. Pour about half of the basil mixture into a large bowl and add the remaining one cup cream. Set a mesh strainer on top. 

Warm the other half of the basil mixture in a medium saucepan along with the milk and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan. 

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scrapping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Zest the lemon directly into the custard, then stir until cool over an ice bath. 

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge, then combine with peach ice cream. 

It will yield about 2 quarts. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

brown rice salad with bok choy, tomatoes and purslane

I made this quick brown rice salad in less than 30 minutes, which is about how long it takes to cook a cup of brown rice via stovetop. While the rice was simmering, I chopped up all the vegetables and drank a bloody mary (more on that later). I used local red and pink tomatoes from the farmer's market here in Park Slope, as well as organic baby bok choy and a little green called purslane. This leafy vegetable has been called a weed, an edible plant and a succulent that has more omega 3's than any other leafy green! Pretty impressive for a weed. I like it because it has a slight spicy kick and a juicy texture reminiscent of cactus. It's great simply eaten raw or sauteed like spinach. I brought this dish together with a bit of mirin, which is a sweet rice wine similar to sake but with a lower alcohol content. And a bit of ume plum vinegar, which is a potent, tart bright pink vinegar made from the pickling of umeboshi plums. I drizzle it on basically everything because it really livens up vegetables. It melds perfectly with mirin, brown rice and bok choy in this dish. 

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 medium sized tomato
3 small baby bok choys, chopped
handful of purslane
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon ume vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Add one cup brown rice (and a dash of salt) to two cups water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure rice isn't sticking to bottom of pot. Meanwhile, wash and chop tomatoes and bok choy. When rice is cooked, add vegetables, vinegars, sea salt, pepper and top with a handful of purslane. Can be eaten warm or cold.

Serves 2