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

Friday, June 15, 2012

lentil soup with rhubarb and garlic scapes

This is a very simple and quick soup for utilizing what late spring in NYC has to offer. Rhubarb and garlic scapes are perfectly in season right now and both add a bright and dynamic flavor to an otherwise kind of bland, run-of-the-mill vegetarian soup. Garlic scapes are the curly green flower stalks of garlic bulbs and have an almost asparagus-like herbaceous taste without all the sting of raw garlic. I sauteed them in this recipe for a couple of minutes, which really mellows them out. The rhubarb also needs just a couple minutes of sauteing to bring out the lovely lemon zestiness of its stalk. 

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 cup red lentils (washed and picked through for any stones or non-edibles)
4 cups veggie broth
2 cups chopped rhubarb (one inch think pieces)
2 cups thinly sliced garlic scapes
sea salt and black pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (or any herb you please- parsley or dill would go well too)

In a heavy stock pot, heat the butter over medium heat. Add garlic scapes and rhubarb and a sprinkling of sea salt. Sautee for only a couple minutes and then add lentils and veggie broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir every once in a while to make sure lentils aren't sticking to bottom of pan. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Ladle into soup bowls and top with a good helping of chopped herbs and freshly ground pepper.

Monday, June 4, 2012

kale and mushroom risotto

Risotto can be time-consuming. It's not hard, you just have to be watchful. It involves adding a lot of water or broth. And lots of stirring. LOTS of stirring.  I opted for broth because it's much more flavorful. I added some thinly sliced dinosaur kale, shiitake mushrooms and a bit of red pepper flakes for color and kick.

1 cup uncooked arborio rice
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup of mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cups dinosaur kale, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped onions
3 cups vegetable broth
sea salt and pepper

Saute onions in butter, add salt and cook until soft and translucent. Add kale and mushrooms and cook for about five minutes. Add rice, stirring for about two minutes. Stir in one cup of broth. Continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed. Gradually stir in remaining broth one cup at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup. Portion into bowls and top with cracked pepper and freshly grated parmesan. 

Yields approximately 3 cups cooked rice

Thursday, May 24, 2012

beet tapenade with green lentils and sea salt

This is what I did with the leftover beet puree from the beet ice cream I made the other day. It has a lovely red-pink hue and tastes sweet and earthy complemented with the sea salt and peppery green lentils.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

beet ice cream with mascarpone, orange zest and poppy seeds

Beets are bright red, earthy and sweet. And when roasted, have hints of chocolate and an almost nutty quality. This ice cream is extremely decadent considering it's made with a root vegetable. The salty mascarpone lends a hand in that, as does the heavy cream and whole milk. The orange zest cuts into the richness, while the poppy seeds give it a nice crunch. It's a bit labor-intensive, but super worth it if you want to try an ice cream  that is multi-layered and unusually satisfying. The recipe is adapted from this great ice cream book called "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home."

Makes about one quart

2 medium red beets
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon arrowroot
2 ounces (1/4 cup) mascarpone cheese
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Zest of one orange (use vegetable peeler to remove zest in large chunks)
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Wrap each beet in heavy foil. Bake until very soft, about one hour.
Let the beets cool slightly, then peel while still warm. Cut into chunks and puree in a food processor. Force the puree through a sieve. Combine 1/2 cup of the warm beet puree with the sugar (save extra beet puree for a tapenade or spread-just add sea salt and olive oil and slather on a good piece of bread- delicious!) Set aside to cool.
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the arrowroot in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the mascarpone, beet puree, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and orange zest in a large 4 quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the arrowroot slurry.
Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about one minute. Remove from heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the mascarpone mixture and beets until smooth. Cool to room temperature, discard orange zest, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours to really let the flavors meld.
Pour the ice cream mixture in a frozen ice cream maker canister. Add poppy seeds and spin until thick and creamy.
Pack ice cream in a storage container and freeze for at least four hours before serving. When ready to serve, sprinkle with a few poppy seeds for garnish. And enjoy!

Friday, May 11, 2012

sweet genius competitor

Last night I was a finalist on Food Network’s pastry competition reality show called Sweet Genius. I had auditioned back in November sort of as a joke and got a call back to participate in January-- much to my excitement and terror. I’ve never been on television before, nor have I ever cooked for a famous pastry chef that designs Martha Stewart wedding cakes. I was petrified. Cameras pointing at me in all directions while I finagle my way around a new kitchen. It’s also extremely unnerving to watch yourself on television, after the fact. Seeing my reactions to my own culinary blunders was especially frightening. Thankfully, the producers edited me well. I came across sweet—bittersweet – in fact. I talked a lot about my mom being sick and doing my best to make her proud. Her strong work ethic, her great baking skills, her humor, her resilience to fight this cancer. This post is for my awesome mom whom I can’t wait to see this weekend. I love you Moeder! 

I had a little viewing party in honor of my television debut and did a variation on the black bean cake I made on the show. This one is vegan and in cupcake form.  Black beans lend a really nice moisture and crumb to cakes. The earthy undertones accent the smoked paprika, cayenne and orange components really well. On top, I added a chocolate ganache, reduced raspberry syrup and roasted almonds with agave and sea salt.

2/3 cup canola oil
2 ½ cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 T grated orange zest
2 T orange juice
2 15 oz cans black beans (drained, rinsed and pureed)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ cup water (or more if batter appears dry)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake tins with paper liners.
Blend black beans in a food processor with the oil, sugar, vanilla extract, orange juice and zest, until smooth. In a bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking powder until mixed. Fold wet mixture into the dry until incorporated. Fill cupcake tins two-thirds full. Bake 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove, and cool on rack.

Roast a ½ cup of almonds, slathered in agave, in oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, put a ¼ cup of frozen raspberries and 2 tablespoons of agave in a saucepan and reduce for about 10 minutes, or until syrupy. Finally, melt any dark chocolate bar in a double boiler. To assemble: dip cooled cupcakes in melted chocolate. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and raspberry reduction 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

strawberry rhubarb thyme sorbet

It's the little things. The first rhubarb of the season makes me so happy and hopeful. And strawberries are finally arriving at the farmer's markets. Even though the weather is a bit blustery and cold out, this sorbet reminds me of sunny spring days ahead (and the unseasonably warm days before.) The thyme gives a really nice lemony taste that enhances the sweetness of the strawberry and rhubarb.

12 ounces rhubarb
2/3 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
10 ounces strawberries
1 teaspoon orange zest

Wash the rhubarb stalks and trim any bad bits. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Place the rhubarb, water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the rhubarb is tender and cooked through. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Slice the strawberries and puree them with the cooked rhubarb mixture and orange juice in a food processor until smooth. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

farmer's market caraway rye bread with honey lavender chevre

Monday, March 19, 2012

rich basil ice cream

This ice cream is amazing. I love the earthy and sweet herbaceous-ness of basil and the richness of the thick custard base. The mellow pale green color and flecks of basil really make this ice cream beautiful.

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 small food processor or blender, 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, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. (You can check the doneness with an instant-read thermometer; it should read between 170 degrees F and 175 degrees. Egg safety experts recommend cooking eggs to a minimum temp of 160 degrees, however don't let them get above 185 degrees, or you'll get scrambled eggs!) Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Zest the lemon directly into the custard. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge. It's best to refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Adapted from "The Perfect Scoop"

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Roasted tomato tart with anchovies

This is the first time I'm posting a recipe that isn't vegetarian. It can easily be made vegetarian, but this time around I wanted to try something a little fishy. 

This crust recipe (or Pate Brisee as it's called if you're feeling fancy French) is a standard Martha Stewart recipe that is so straightforward and perfect. It always comes out flaky and buttery, like a salty shortbread. It's much easier using a food processor than a pastry blender. This recipe makes extra dough. So you can, in fact, make two 9-inch crusts. Or, I used a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and kept the extra dough for another tart. 

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed 

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, one tablespoon at a time. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to one month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. 

Assembling the tart filling is super easy. It's also a variation on a Martha Stewart recipe. (She's just the best!) This recipe simply entails slicing up some tomatoes and adding a bit of salt, pepper and olive oil. It ends up looking so pretty!

1 tablespoon olive oil
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 4 medium) sliced, 1/4 inch thick
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
one small 2 oz can of anchovies 

Set oven to 425 degrees F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to specified length of tart pan you are using. Fit dough into pan. Using a rolling pin, trim dough flush with the top edge of the tart pan; chill tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes. 

Arrange tomato slices in an overlapping circular pattern working from the outer edge toward the center. Spread anchovies evenly over the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle of olive oil. 
Bake tart until crust is golden and tomatoes are soft but still remain their shape, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

smoked paprika black bean soup with cheddar cheese quesadilla

This is a ridiculously easy soup that can be made in less than 30 minutes. All the equipment you need is a medium sized sauce pan and an immersion blender. And ingredient wise - a can of beans, a clove of garlic, small onion, a handful of cilantro. The addition of smoked paprika really lends a rich smokey spicy flavor. Maybe a dollop of sour cream or super rich greek yogurt to bring it together.  And a jalapeno, if you want a bit of heat. The quesadilla is just shredded cheddar cheese that I toast up in a saute pan with a bit of olive oil.

one can of black beans
one small white onion
one clove of garlic
one teaspoon of smoked spanish paprika
one teaspoon of cayenne pepper
sea salt
olive oil
freshly ground pepper
handful of chopped cilantro
one jalapeno
juice of a lemon
couple tablespoons of sour cream or greek yogurt

Chop onion into 1/4 inch dice. Thinly slice the garlic. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a sauce pan. Add onion, garlic, sea salt, pepper and spices. Saute for a couple minutes until onions are translucent. In  the meantime, drain the beans and rinse with cold water. Add to pot, when beans start to stick a bit, add about a 1/2 cup to one cup of water or stock to loosen up the sauteed bits. You could even deglaze the pan with some white wine vinegar or lemon juice. Simmer the soup for about 15 minutes or until beans have really absorbed the smokey flavor of the spices. Remove from heat. Use the immersion blender to, you know, blend the soup a bit. Blend to desired consistency. Top with chopped jalapeno, cilantro and a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

cranberry oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

The combination of cinnamon, cranberries and chocolate chips make this cookie so ridiculously good. And they seem almost healthy enough to eat for breakfast with the whole wheat pastry flour and rolled oats.

cranberry oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup dark chocolate chip
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and  brown sugar on a medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the maple syrup and mix to combine. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until well combined, about one minute, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches, until just combined. Add oats, cranberry and chocolate chips. Mix until combined.

Scoop about two tablespoons onto baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown. About 15 to 20 minutes.

Let cookies cool on sheets for a couple minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

bittersweet chocolate truffles

This is an adapted Martha Stewart recipe. It's super easy and there's endless variations on what you can coat these super rich and decadent truffles in. I used a hawaiian sea salt that has a lovely rose colored hue with a bit of cracked black pepper, as well as chopped crystalized ginger and pistachios. 

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Five strips 1-inch-wide orange peel, pith removed
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup mix of chopped pistachios, coarse sea salt, freshly ground pepper, chopped crystalized ginger or any other coating you please

In a small saucepan, whisk together cream and cardamom. Add orange peel; bring just to a boil. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes. Line a baking pan with parchment; set it and another pan aside.
Return cream mixture to heat; bring to a boil. Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Remove cream mixture from heat. Pour through a sieve set over chocolate; discard solids. Stir until melted and smooth.

Pour chocolate mixture onto the unlined baking pan, and spread in an even layer with an offset spatula. Transfer baking pan to freezer; chill chocolate until hardened but malleable, 15 to 20 minutes.

Using a tablespoon, scrape enough chocolate from pan to form a roughly shaped 1-inch ball. Repeat. Transfer balls to the parchment-lined pan; chill truffles in the refrigerator 10 minutes.

Place pistachios, chopped ginger, salt and pepper in three separate bowls. Roll the truffles in desired coatings.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

white chocolate cookies

This cookie is delicious. That's all I need to say, really. I used white chocolate for something a little different. Lots of butter. They're so good. 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla until combined. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in two batches, beating until just combined. Stir in the white chocolate. 

Drop two tablespoons of dough at a time about two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until light golden brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets for two minutes, then transfer parchment and cookies to a wire rack to cool 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

red lentil dal with sauteed rainbow swiss chard

Here's a quick little recipe for dal, which is a simple and classic staple of Indian cuisine. It can be insanely flavorful and creamy depending on what you add and how long you cook it for. I added massive amounts of garlic, ginger, ground cardamon, mustard seeds, cloves and butter to make it even more hefty on this freezing NYC day. Top with rainbow swiss chard sauteed with (even more!) garlic in a cast iron skillet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with some good crusty bread or toasted pita.

1 cup dried red lentils, washed and picked over
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced and peeled ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon cardamon
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 cloves
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 or five large rainbow swiss chards, stems and leaves chopped thinly

Combine the butter, lentils, ginger, one tablespoon garlic, cardamon, mustard seeds, cloves, salt and pepper in a saucepan and add water to cover by about 1 inch. Cook at a steady simmer until the lentils are quite soft, 20 to 30 minutes.

In the meantime, add olive oil to a cast iron skillet saute pan. Wait about thirty seconds, then add the other tablespoon of minced garlic. Next, add the swiss chard stems and a sprinkling of sea salt. Saute for a couple minutes, then add the leaves and cook for about 7 to 10 minutes or until chard is thoroughly wilted.

Remove the cloves from the dal. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Ladle into bowls and top with swiss chard and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.