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