|Here are some kiwi fruit leathers, starting to dry.|
|Here it is fully dried. Kiwi looks kind of odd with all the seeds, but I actually really like the crunch.|
|Roll the parchment paper up and cut the fruit leathers into strips. They can now be stored in the freezer and taken out 10-15 minutes before you’re ready to enjoy them.|
Below, the same process using blueberries:
Creme Caramel is one of the very popular desserts that you might make for a family night treat in France. Some people liken it to flan, but I take issue with comparing it to flan because most people hate flan. Creme Caramel is awesome. In order to educate myself of the differences between the two, I did a little googling and found out that flan typically is made with lots of sugar (a cup in most recipes), condensed milk, evaporated milk and/or heavy cream, vanilla extract and eggs. Creme Caramel has much less sugar, real whole milk, a vanilla bean or vanilla sugar and eggs. So eggs are the common denominator. They really are different, though. So even if you hate flan, you must give creme caramel a chance.
Creme Caramel: (Printable recipe here)
For the caramel:
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp water
For the creme:
2 cups whole milk
1 pinch of salt
4 Tbsp sugar
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the caramel, combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-high heat. Resist the urge to stir right away. Once the sugar starts to become golden, stir in any clumps of sugar that remain. They should melt in the caramel. Once all of the sugar is caramelized, remove from heat and pour into 4 ramekins. (Note, in the picture I thought I might be able to get 6 creme caramels out of my recipe. I was wrong…just go with 4).
4. Once the milk starts to boil, pour a small amount of hot milk into the eggs making sure you never stop whisking. If you do, you run the risk of cooking the eggs and ruining the smooth consistency of your creme. This is probably the hardest part of making creme caramel (and it’s not that hard, promise). Slowly add more and more hot milk, continuing to whisk the whole time.
5. Strain the mixture with a sieve and pour it into the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a bain marie (you can use any sort of cake pan filled partway up with cool water). Bake for 30-40 minutes. You know they are done when the centers just quiver a tiny bit. Allow to cool completely before serving.
I realize that the picture above does not look like much. Don’t let the image fool you, though. This chicken recipe is flavorful with chicken falling of the bone. You will want to go back for seconds. The only downside to this recipe is that it requires that you first make (or somehow procure) “preserved lemons,” which takes a month. It’s really easy, though and it will be worth it. Believe me.
- 6 lemons (preferably organic…you will be cooking with the whole lemon once these are ready). I like to use Meyer lemons, but any variety will do.
- Several cups of sea salt
- 1 Tbsp whole coriander seeds
- You will also need a large, gallon-sized mason jar.
1. Wash and dry the lemons.
2. Cut the lemons into quarters length-wise, but leave one end of the lemon intact.
3. Using a paring knife, remove as many seeds as you can easily access. Don’t worry, though, if you miss some seeds. You can get them out later.
4. Sprinkle about 1/2 c of salt in the bottom of the jar and about half of the coriander seeds.
5. Stuff as much salt as possible into the just-about-quartered lemons. Then stuff the lemons into the jar. After each lemon you add to the jar, sprinkle some salt on top. You certainly don’t need to fill up the jar with salt, just make sure there’s plenty in there. About halfway up, add the rest of the coriander seeds. Don’t worry about smushing the lemons. It’s ok, they’re going to soften a lot anyway.
6. Wait 2 days. The salt should extract the lemon juice and the lemons will start to be submerged in their own juices. If after 2 days, they are not submerged, add enough boiling water to cover the lemons. Put the jar in the fridge and wait at least 1 month. After a month, they are ready to use. I’m not really sure how long they’re good for. One recipe I have says they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. I have personally used them after a longer time than that, but of course, if you do, it would be at your own risk.
Now, you can finally make the preserved lemon chicken, or as I prefer to call it “Poulet au Citrons Confits.” That sounds much better.
Poulet au Citrons Confits:
- 1 large yellow onion. Peeled and cut into rings.
- Olive oil
- 6-8 chicken drumsticks.
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed.
- Juice of 1 fresh lemon
- 4 preserved lemons
- 1 Tbsp coriander seed
- Pinch of saffron
1. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel. Douse it with fresh lemon juice and a little salt. Set aside.
2. Rinse your preserved lemons and cut them the rest of the way, so that they are now fully quartered. Remove any seeds that you see and can easily access.
5. Put the chicken on top of the onions and preserved lemons. Add enough water to just submerge the chicken. Add the pinch of saffron.
6. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour, or until the chicken is cooked through and very tender. Serve with rice to help soak up the extra juices.
I received a long-wished-for bread machine for Christmas this year. I crossed my fingers that I would not be one of the many people who has a bread machine and lets it collect dust for years before deciding to craigslist it. Let’s just call that my new years resolution to not be a lets-her-bread-machine-collect-dust-until-it-goes-in-the-craigslist-pile person. So far, new years resolution is going strong! Not the best for my carb intake, but at least it’s good bread.
I’ll post about making bread another time, but for now, let’s talk pizza. I’ve been a wee bit busy with the wee one, so sometimes it’s hard to put together a well thought out dinner. On the nights that I just don’t know what else to do, we usually make pizza. We always keep mozzarella, tomato sauce and pepperoni in the house. Sometimes we also have bell peppers or mushrooms to add, but if not, we at least can have pepperoni.
Around Christmas time, some friends came to visit
us Quentin from Seattle. We agreed to keep it simple and make pizza, and they were sweet enough to pick up the fixings for it. When they arrived, I needed to nurse Quentin, get his purees ready for his dinner, get him bathed and ready for bed, etc. Luckily, we have been friends since college and used to routinely cook in each others kitchens. So, just like the college days, our friends (C & M) set out to learn my kitchen and get dinner going. M started prepping veggies and C asked where my cast iron pan was.
Me: Umm…cast iron pan? What are you going to use that for? I mean, you’re welcome to use it, but why?
C: We’re going to use it to make pizza. You’ve never had cast iron pizza before? It’s awesome.
Me: Strange, but go on…
Once the babe had gone to bed and C and M had already made their first few pizzas (which I tasted…awesome indeed!), I had a chance to observe the magic. C taught me his secrets and we’ve pretty much only used this method since that day. It’s so much better than using a pizza pan, and not much more work. I will now share the secret with you.
First, move your oven rack to the top 3rd part of the oven. Not right at the top, but higher than the middle. Turn your oven on broil and put the cast iron pan in. Also, turn the stove on medium.
This is basically to keep the cast iron pan hot because it’s going to be going in and out of the oven. Now cut your dough into 3 chunks (more or less, depending on your dough recipe. If using store bought dough, I’d probably cut it in half).
Take the cast iron pan out of the oven and put a splash of olive oil in it. Spread it with a metal spatula. Then put the flattened dough on. Return the cast iron pan to the oven and set your timer for 2 minutes.
Remove the cast iron from the oven and flip the dough.
Add your ingredients. Whatever you want, really. Here I’m making a pepperoni pizza with some oregano sprinkled on top. You can definitely get crazier than that, though. We were feeling a “pizza and beer” night, though, and in my opinion pepperoni pizza + beer is a perfect combo.
Now the whole thing goes back in the oven. Set your timer for 5 minutes. Check your pizza to see if it’s done. It should be nicely browned. It might need another minute or 2 but it depends on your broiler.
Out comes the pizza!
Finally a food post! It will be a quick one since I am about to head to bed, but that’s ok because this recipe is super easy and delicious. I made it while Q was napping, when my mom was coming over for lunch. Of course, by the time we were ready to eat, he had woken up and I ate the tarte one-armed with a fussy baby in the other arm. This did not, however, make the lunch any less tasty.
All you need is a frozen puff pastry dough, some pesto, 2 heirloom tomatoes and some parmesan cheese. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough and press it into your buttered pan. Spread pesto on the bottom (I always keep ice cubes of pesto in my freezer for last minute pesto fixes…I think I used 3 cubes for this). Cut the tomatoes into thick slices and lay them in the tarte. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes. Then lower the oven temp to 350 and bake for another 10-15 minutes…until the puff pastry and parmesan are golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes or so. Serve and enjoy!
p.s. I apologize to all readers who do not live in California…I realize that a post about heirloom tomatoes right now is a little late for you. Really, I’m not trying to rub it in that we are still enjoying tomatoes here.
Once again I’ve let several weeks go by between posts. This must be a sign that it’s no longer summer, and I’m back to work. I’m loving my internship at the preschool, and I’m still cooking fairly often….just not taking the time to photograph and write about the food. I’m going to try to be better though!
This recipe was one I just had to post because Trevor loved it so much. A supposedly “healthy” version of mac and cheese, by Martha Stewart. I actually found the recipe on Kitchen Gadget Girl’s blog, as she planned on cooking this up for her family after receiving a squash in her CSA box a few weeks ago. Seeing as we belong to the same CSA (Two Small Farms…a great option if you’re looking for a local food source!), we also received squash in our box a few weeks ago. In fact, we’ve gotten some delicata squash, some butternut and a sugar pie pumpkin…and this is just the beginning of the fall/winter squash season (and I love it!). Winter squash are wonderful because they’re so versatile, and you can save them for a long time before using them if you’re overwhelmed with other more perishable veggies. Plus, they’re so wonderfully comforting and bring about a strong feeling that fall has finally arrived!
The “Healthy Macaroni and Cheese” recipe from Martha Stewart calls for 1 small butternut squash, but you can substitute any winter squash. Kabocha would be great if you have one, but I had delicata squash, so I decided that would do the trick. As I mentioned earlier, my husband Trevor loved this recipe and would never have guessed that there was squash in the mix so I guess this is a good thing if you’re cooking for a picky eater.
Ingredients for 6 servings:
1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp coarse salt, plus more for water
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound macaroni or shell pasta
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
4 Tbsp grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tsp olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, seed and cut the squash into 1-inch pieces. Combine the squash, stock and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork (about 20 minutes). Spoon the squash into a food mill (or alternatively, smash with a fork), and puree the squash, milk and stock together. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, 3/4 tsp salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add salt. Stir in macaroni pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta and 2 Tbsp of Parmesan. Stir until well integrated.
3. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer pasta mixture to dish. Mix breadcrumbs, remaining Parmesan and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over pasta.
4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove foil and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top- about 30 more minutes. Serve immediately.
After picking my parents up from the airport the other day, I left their house with a big bunch of tarragon from their garden. While it may seem strange to base a meal off of an herb, that’s exactly what I was going to do. Should I make fish? Chicken? An omelet? Hmm…I settled on Tarragon Chicken, a popular French dish (called “Poulet a l’Estragon”). I had never made it before, and didn’t have a recipe, but it’s a simple dish and I had a pretty good idea of how to go about making it. Start with some shallots, butter, chicken, salt, pepper, white wine, tarragon (duh!), and finish the sauce with some creme fraiche. I called my mom just to find out if I was completely off base, and she named these exact ingredients! After doing a little celebratory jig and patting myself on the back, I got to work. If you’re not sure what to make for dinner, give Tarragon Chicken a try- it’s simple and tasty (my favorite combination)!
4 chicken breasts
4 shallots, peeled & sliced
1 tbsp butter
1/2-1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
4 tbsp creme fraiche
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a nonstick pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and sautee for a few minutes, until they begin to soften.
- Add chicken breasts. Brown the chicken on all sides.
- Add the white wine. Sprinkle some salt and freshly cracked pepper into the mix.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup of tarragon over chicken and white wine. Cover, and simmer for 5-8 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
- Once chicken has finished cooking, remove chicken from pan and place on serving plate. Remove the pan from heat. Mix creme fraiche into white wine and tarragon. Heat for another minute or two, just to warm the sauce. Do not allow the sauce to boil, as this may cause the creme fraiche to curdle.
- Pour finished sauce on top of chicken. Sprinkle with remaining tarragon. Serve with rice or steamed vegetables.