21 December 2014

Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie

When it's June and stone fruit is everywhere, I highly recommend looking into baking a Peach and Crème Fraîche Pie with this really sweet peaches that you found at the market.

I found the recipe at Smitten Kitchen and it's sweet but not overly because of the crème fraîche. 

It's quite possible that Jenica and I throw pie parties just to eat pies.  Our friends know how to deliver very good pies and this was not all of them.  

20 December 2014

Cookbook Club - Pati's Mexican Table

In an attempt to catch up, I need to go back to August which just seems forever ago.  It's difficult to reconcile writing about the summer while listening to John Denver & The Muppets singing Noel.  But this cookbook needs to be shared.

Tara was excited to cook from this book or rather show us how delicious it is.  I made the green beans with toasted pistachios and a vinegar sauce.  I'm a big fan of having something green at every meal.

This dish is incredible.  Tara made Shredded Pork in Ancho-Orange Sauce and I still think about this dish.   She prepared the guacamole, salsa, queso and limes to eat with the tacos but they were not needed.  The pork had so much flavor in the sauce.

I made the Blissful Corn Torte which was sweeter than I like my corn bread.  Apparently, it's a really good breakfast treat (as written in the book).

Jocelyn baked this great key lime pie and May the Mexican cookies.  The cookies were nice because there wasn't too much sugar but lots of dark chocolate.  Overall, this is a book I'd appreciate investigating further.  We all agreed that the pork won the night.

07 December 2014

A White House Christmas

It's been a long time - almost three months.  The reason for being gone so long range from lots of travel to being sick to a new job.  So much of my time seems to be spent adjusting to all of these changes.  Fortunately, yesterday I attended an event that I really wanted to share because it was beautiful and very much a dream.

I went with Trish and Phor to the White House Christmas Open House.  It was a rainy day that contrasted with the gorgeous colors, smells, and music from within the White House.  I took so many photos but regretted all of the ones I didn't take after the tour was over.

I really enjoyed seeing the Presidential and First Lady portraits.  It was a game of who I could recognize.

Trish in the East Garden Room.

The Vermiel Room - tree skirts made of garland.

The Library - more than 2,700 books chronicle America's history.

China Room which displays over 200 years of china services used by First Families.  The portrait is of Grace Coolidge who was a beautiful woman.  

The East Room

This was close as I could get to Edith Wilson's portrait - another incredible glamorous painting.

The Portrait of George Washington that Dolly Madison saved from the burning White House.

The White House creche, composed of 44 figures, has been displayed in this room for nearly 50 years.

Teddy Roosevelt.  I was disappointed not to find FDR's portrait.

The Green Room which was redesigned by Jacqueline Kennedy.  It's a parlor used for teas and receptions.  It's difficult to think of these rooms being comfortably used for anything.  

The Red Room

The State Dining Room with a portrait of Lincoln.  And the gingerbread house below is a 300-pound sugar creation featuring a skating rink and marzipan sleigh and reindeer.  The dogs are right in front of the house.

Carolers entertained us at the end of the tour.  This group was from Illinois.  I kept imagining a holiday Hallmark movie about them needing to raise the money so they could sing at the White House and romance probably happened on the way.

I love Truman.

17 September 2014

David Mitchell

You know those books you recommend to all of your friends because you love them so much.  I actually have two - East of Eden by Steinbeck and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.  I quickly tell friends that the latter is much better than the movie and it's a book that you'll catch yourself thinking about years after reading it.

I was looking forward to seeing Mitchell tonight read from his new novel The Bone Clocks because there aren't too many living authors that I love like him. 

I wish I was a better writer to explain why I read his books but it's really about entering a world that I want to know more about and be apart of.  I'm excited by the stories he tells and how his characters seem real to me.  His imagination surprises me and I crave those surprises.

So this post is about seeing him read from his novel if possible but more about reading an author that writes unique and compelling stories.

16 September 2014

I Love These Nuts

I was invited to a party Saturday night where I knew very few people.  We were asked to bring food and the party was a very long trip on the metro. I decided to bring nuts as most people like them and they are easy to handle.  They were a huge success. 

I found three recipes for flavored nuts - two from One Good Dish by David Tanis and spicy brittled peanuts from Smitten Kitchen.   I think they would make the perfect holiday gifts.

cashews with indian spices

1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 lb natural raw cashews
2 tbs melted butter
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp turmeric
Sea Salt

Heat the oven to 400 F.  Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small dry pan over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Coarsely grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.  (I skipped this step and used ground coriander and cumin.  It tasted good but I wonder how much more intense this process would affect the flavor).

Spread the cashews in an even layer in a shallow baking dish. Roast for 7 to 10 minutes until barely golden (it took my oven 15 minutes). Drizzle with the melted butter, then sprinkle with the toasted spices, cayenne, and turmeric. Season generously with sea salt and toss to coat.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

salted almonds with rosemary

1/2 lb natural (unblanched) raw almonds
2 or 3 rosemary sprigs
Sea salt
1 tb olive oil

Heat the oven to 400 F.  Put th ealmonds in a shallow baking dish, sprinkle with 1 tb water, and toss to moisten.  Strip the rosemary leaves form the stems and add them.  Add a generous pinch of sea salt and mix with your fingers to combine.  Drizzle the almonds with olive oil, toss once more, and spread in an even layer.

Roast the almonds for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally for even browning.  Take care not to get them too dark - check them frequently, since you don't want them on the verge of burnt.  (I checked them every 3 minutes and it took close to 15 minutes in my oven).  The interior should be golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

spicy brittled peanuts

1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup sugar
1 tb unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
2 cups shelled raw or roasted unsalted peanuts, papery skins removed

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda, sea salt and cayenne, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar, butter and water over medium-high heat until it just begins to turn golden, about 7 to 12 minutes.  Add the peanuts and start stirring, coating them with the sugar mixture.  After a minute or two (or five in my case), the sugar will seize up a bit, making the peanuts look grainy and crusty, and it will be harder to stir them - you'll be convinced that something is wrong but keep stirring and it will melt back into a golden caramel after 3 to 5 minutes.  Keep stirring, breaking up any clumps with your spoon, until th enuts are evenly coated, then remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the baking-soda-spice mixture as fast and evenly as you can, then spill the caramelized nuts onto your prepared sheet, spreading them in a single layer and breaking up any clumps that you can before they set.  Cool completely.

Once they're cool, break the nut clusters into smaller pieces and put them in a serving dish.  The nuts will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

14 September 2014

Rose's Luxury: America's Favorite Restaurant

Tuesday was a very good day for a few reasons -

1) I finally had dinner with Kim and Kimber after we first discussed this last December.

2) I was able to eat again at Rose's Luxury even after it was named America's Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit earlier this month and I read that the no reservation policy restaurant had waits of hours and hours for a table.

3) It was my Dad's birthday and I didn't feel the intensity of grief as I have previously.  I've had an interesting experience where one of my closest friends also lost her father recently and our conversations have helped me greatly.  But more on that later.

Kim, Kimber and I planned to meet at Rose's Luxury at 6:30 on Tuesday night.  I knew to expect a long wait but I still had hope.  I was the first to arrive, put my name on the list, and was told it would be a 2.5 to 3 hour wait.  I texted Kimber and Kim the news and Kimber was up for finding another restaurant.  Kim arrived and when I explained to her Kimber's thoughts, her face just fell with disappointment.  She wanted to eat at the restaurant I had been talking about for months now.

We drove to Kimber's house which is near the restaurant and decided to wait for the table.  We were warned though by the staff that we only had 15 minutes once I received the text that our table was ready to get to the restaurant.  The text came at 8:15 and we ran to Kim's car.  I set the stopwatch on the phone for 15 minutes and we ran lots of pink lights to get there with 3 minutes to spare.  The true miracle though was finding a parking space right in front of the restaurant.

We were shown to our table and felt immense success at finding ourselves finally in the restaurant.

This lovely challah bread with honey and butter was like eating home.  It was warm and delicious.  Kim found true happiness while eating this bread.

We ordered the pork sausage, habanero and lychee salad which I had loved at my previous visit to the restaurant.  Kim and Kimber decided it was their favorite dish at this meal.  Rose's Luxury changes their menu often so it was complete luck on our part to find this still on the menu.

The summer peach salad with shiso, mint and ricotta was nice but all of us felt like it was something that we could have made at home.

I did like the peach salad paired with the sfoglini rigatoni with tomato, basil and eggplant because it tasted like I was eating a garden.  The tomatoes were perfect - tangy and sweet but not too sweet.  

We did not order the jerk chicken with pickled mango raita and green papaya salad because we felt that we had enough dishes but the kitchen sent us an order anyway.  Delicious and a very nice surprise.

The Mexican grilled corn salad with guajillo, lime and cilantro did not look very special but it was my favorite.  I loved the flavor and it was again like eating a garden.

The pickle-brined fried chicken with honey and benne seed was perfectly cooked and seasoned. There were a couple of dishes on the table with honey including the honey-glazed carrots, mascarapone, matzo meal and dill (below) and it was all very well used to showcase the meats and vegetables.  Kimber said that the carrots was one of her favorite matzo dishes that she's eaten.

Dessert was not even a question and we let Kim decide since it is her birthday later this month.  We ordered the first two which are not traditional desserts.  Kimber said it succinctly in that both desserts were like an elevated cheese course - the savory and sweet represented equally.  I loved both and we kept eating them but it may have not met a dessert expectation for someone. 

The English pea cake with mint curd, pistachios and buttermilk.  It was a beautiful plating.

And the smoked celery root mascarapone with chamomile honey ice and brown butter walnut crumble.  I loved how each bite of both desserts was different.  The ingredients worked really well together.