West African Vegan Stew

West African Vegan Stew

West African Vegan Stew

SCENE: 

Hello! It's a been a day or two since I've posted. I've been working on a few time consuming projects. That being said, I haven't left the kitchen. In fact far from it, as I decided 2017 was going to be my year of optimal health! In the pursuit of eating more vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains, I created a recipe last week that contains all three. It's vegan however if you are a meat eater, as we are, you can always add chicken to the recipe or serve meat on the side. I enjoyed it without but my husband added chicken. The flavors are pretty intense and pack some heat. It will warm your body, mind and spirit and is perfect for winter. Cheers!

SONG:

Rock the Casbah 

INGREDIENTS
1 inch of peeled ginger
2 cloves of garlic
2 Tb olive oil
1/2 fennel bulb
1 15 oz can light coconut milk
1 whole cauliflower
2 Tb peanut butter mixed in 1/4 c water
2 zucchini
1 15 oz can chickpeas
3 scallions
1 ts cumin
1/2 ts coriander
1 ts chipotle powder
1/2 ts tumeric
Salt to taste
Pearl couscous
Grated coconut


PROCESS:
-Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch cauliflower florets for 7 min
-Drain cauliflower
-Cook one cup of pearl couscous as package indicates
-In a large pan sautee diced ginger, garlic, and fennel in olive oil
-Add coconut milk to the pan
-Blend spices in a small bowl and add them to the pan
-Mix in peanut butter to pan and stir
-Add cut zucchini and cook on medium heat for 5-6 min
-Drain and rinse chickpeas
-Add cauliflower and chickpeas to the pan and cook for an addition 4-5 min or until all vegetables are soft
-Season with salt and pepper to taste
-In a bowl place 1/2 c of pearl couscous
-Add a heaping scoop of African stew to the bowl
-Top with chopped scallions and grated coconut

Enjoy!
Oxx,
Carly

 

Ann Mann's Mexican Christmas Cookies

SCENE: 

Happy Christmas Week! Let the countdown begin to the most glorious day of the year. Usually I begin baking cookies earlier in the month so that I can share them with friends and we can enjoy them throughout December, however this year my family has had an ongoing cold and I've been preoccupied with caring for a sick husband and toddler. I've been making more chicken soup and smoothies than cookies. Until now. I poured through several magazines and cookbooks to round up this year's selection and am ready to bake. In retrospect I actually think beginning the baking the week of makes the holiday feel a little more special, as there's something delicious and new to enjoy each day before Christmas day.

First up are Ann Mann's Mexican Christmas cookies. Who's Ann Mann?! Good question. When I was 14 years old and a freshmen in high school my mom gave me a small cookbook called Cookies For Christmas written by Maria Robbins. In the book there is a recipe for Ann Mann's Mexican Christmas Cookies who was the neighbor of the author's sister. Ann Mann grew up in Mazatlan, Mexico where her mother cooked these cookies by the thousands and sold them to put her children through school. Isn't that lovely? It makes the recipe even more extraordinary. I LOOOOVE these cookies. They are basically a Mexican Wedding Cookie and are absolutely delicious! Luke has decided they are his favorite, second to chocolate chip. Yesterday after I baked them I delivered a batch to our building staff and they gobbled them right up. I hope you find them as wonderful as I do and add them to your holiday cookie baking traditions. Enjoy!

SONG:

Baby it's cold outside (I baked these while Vivi was napping and needed to bake them on the balcony to prevent her from waking while I used the beaters. It was cooooold!) 

INGREDIENTS
2 sticks sweet butter
2 sticks margarine*
1/2 c sugar
3 ts vanilla
4 c flour
2 c finely chopped pecans
confection sugar

PROCESS
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In a large bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed, cream together butter, margarine, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy
-Measure out 2 2/3 c of flour and dump it all at once into the creamed mixture. Blend with an electric mixer, at low speed, for 5 seconds until barely blended
-Sprinkle the nuts over the dough and sprinkle the additional flour over the dough. Use a large wooden spoon or spatula to mix the dough lightly until incorporated
-Pinch off bits of dough and form 1 1/2 inch balls
-Bake 15-20 minutes
-Remove from oven and place cookie sheets on wire racks to cool. While cookies are still warm, roll them in confectioners sugar. Let cool and store in an airtight container

*I used to use margarine but now use all butter. 

Oxx,
Carly



 

Fruity Boozy Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce

SCENE:

It's Thanksgiving Eve, and I'm in 'the' mode. You know, the mode where you have 17 things on your to-do list and a limited amount of time to accomplish each. Head down, moving forward. I wanted to share with you my favorite zinfandel cranberry sauce. Growing up, cranberry sauce was a can of molded gelatinous maroon stuff that was put into a pretty bowl and was passed around the table at Thanksgiving to accompany the meal. I rarely ate it and noticed it was often overlooked. In 2006 I hosted Thanksgiving for 8  and planned an extraordinary menu. I spent an entire 6 weeks prior pouring over recipes, gathering the proper vessels, and the day of I rented a large round table and linens to set the stage. It was then that I developed this cranberry sauce and I've made it every year since. It's fruity, boozy, and delicious! This cranberry sauce will make your guests smile and appreciate what was once an average condiment. Wishing you all a Very Happy Thanksgiving! Cheers!

SONG: 

SAN FRANCISCO DAYS
Listening to Chris Isaak this year while I cook

INGREDIENTS
1 3/4 c zinfandel wine
2 Tb brandy
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 ts allspice
1/2 ts cinnamon
Zest from 1 tangerine
Juice from 1-2 tangerines (about 1/4 cup)
I inch of peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 12 oz bag of cranberries
2 persimmons peeled and cut

PROCESS
-Combine all of the ingredients except for the cranberries and persimmons in a medium pot
-Bring to boil
-Add cranberries
-Boil for 5 min
-Add cut persimmons
-Reduce heat and simmer for 20 min
-Remove from heat and cool
-Store in an airtight container (can be made the day before and lasts 4-5 days in the fridge)

Oxx,
Carly

 

Pain D'Epice- French Spice Cake for Thanksgiving

Pain D'Epice

Pain D'Epice

SCENE: 

Thanksgiving is less than a week away and the thrill is on! This year we've been invited to share Thanksgiving with friends here in San Francisco. I'm looking forward to the new experience, delicious food and great company. Because I'm not hosting, my duties for the day are less than normal, meaning I have time to bake a lovely spice cake for my family to enjoy the morning of. I discovered the pain d'epice a couple of years ago in an old French cookbook. It's a lovely spice cake with cinnamon and star anise. I created an orange glaze to pour over it as it cools for some pizzaz and additional fall flavor. Serve it warm with butter and honey and your family will be set until the afternoon when it's time to feast. If you're in the mood to bake two, bring one to Thanksgiving as a host/hostess gift. They will be more than pleased and should they share, so will their guests! 

SONG: 
My Favorite Things
Another Coltrane song! This song is perfect for the holidays! 

INGREDIENTS
1 c honey
1/2 c whole milk
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 ts ground cinnamon
1 ts star anise
1 3/4 c rye flour
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 ts baking powder
3 eggs
1/2 c + 2 tb unsalted butter, melted
2 c diced candied orange (substitute ginger if you prefer)

ICING
1 1/2 c powdered sugar sifted to remove lumps
3-4 tb milk
1-2 ts fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tb orange zest
 

PROCESS:
-In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine the first five ingredients
-Bring to a simmer, stirring to combine, then remove from heat and let flavors infuse for 15 minutes
-Sift together all of dry ingredients into a large bowl
-In a separate bowl mix the eggs with the milk mixture and melted butter
-Mix in the dry ingredients
-Fold in the candied orange
-Line a 6 x 2 inch loaf pan with parchment paper
-Pour the batter into the prepared pan
-Bake for 40 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean
-Remove from oven and let cool
-Combine all of the icing and ingredients in a medium size bowl
-Whisk
-Turn the cake out of the pan and sit on a wire wrack or plate
-Drizzle icing onto the cake
-Slice and enjoy!

NOTE: you can substitute the rye flour with whole wheat flour and the spices with spices of your choice. However I recommend following the recipe as it's quite delicious. 

Oxx,
Carly
 

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH TOSTADAS

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH TOSTADAS

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH TOSTADAS

SCENE: 

Meatless Monday! It's the carnivore's dilemma. How do I consume more fruits and vegetables when I really want to annihilate a steak? In an effort to enjoy a more plant based diet, I've decided to jump on the meatless monday bandwagon. We eat meat or fish most nights at our house, if not all. Let's start with one night dedicated to vegetables, grains, and legumes and go from there. Tonight we're having roasted squash tostadas! Yesterday I made a big pot of black beans. You can use canned black beans instead if you don't have fresh. The roasted veggies rock in this recipe and the cashew crema elevates it to another level!  This recipe is simple, savory, delicious, and healthy. Enjoy!

SONG: 

Blue Train
I'm a huge Coltrane fan and the rhythm matched my mood when assembling the tostadas

INGREDIENTS
2 c cubed butternut squash
1 c cubed sweet potato
2 c black beans
1/2 c yellow onion
1/2 c baby kale
1/2 tb chili powder
1/2 tb cumin
1/4 tb onion powder
1/4 tb garlic powder
1/4 ts paprika
1 ts salt
1 ts pepper
Tostada shells
Cilantro
Avocado
Pomegranate seeds
Green salsa (salsa verde)

CASHEW CREMA
1/2 c cashews
1/2 ts cumin
1/3 c lime juice (juice from 3 limes)
1/4 c water
1/2 ts salt


PROCESS
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Soak the raw cashews in a bowl of water for one hour
-Make the spice rub combining chili powder and the next 6 ingredients
-Toss the butternut squash and sweet potato cubes in the spice mixture (there will be some leftover)
-Spread the spiced vegetables on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 40 minutes
-Drain the cashews
-Make the cashew crema combining all of the ingredients in a food processor. Add more salt to taste
-Chop onion, avocado, and cilantro
-Heat black beans
-Assemble the tostadas
-Layer black beans, kale, roasted veggies, onions, cilantro, avocado, pomegranate seeds
-Drizzle with cashew crema
-Add your favorite green salsa (salsa verde)

Enjoy!

Oxx,
Carly


 

 

THREE FALL INSPIRED SMOOTHIES

PUMPKIN SPICE SMOOTHIE

PUMPKIN SPICE SMOOTHIE

SCENE: 

Can you believe it? Three weeks until Thanksgiving! 21 days until all of our togetherness and food dreams are realized. It's the biggest food holiday in America and I plan to serve up some decadent dishes. Until then however, one must step back and strategize. Not only is it Thanksgiving in three weeks, it's the start of our holiday season. Which of course means; parties, food, cocktails, and (ugh) calories. I've decided for the next three weeks, I'm going to focus on healthy food consumption. Smoothies are the best bet. With one smoothie, you can consume 3 servings of fruit/vegetables. That's half of your daily requirement at breakfast! I've created 3 fall inspired smoothies to get you excited for the holidays while maintaining good health: pear, apple pie, and pumpkin spice. Cheers! 

SONG: 

Adventure Of A Lifetime
I am loving this song right now and we've been dancing to it in the am during our smoothie sesh

APPLE PIE SMOOTHIE 

APPLE PIE SMOOTHIE 

PEAR SMOOTHIE

PEAR SMOOTHIE

INGREDIENTS
1 apple sliced
1/2 banana
1/4 c oats
3/4 c almond milk
1 ts chia seeds
1 ts maple syrup
1/8 ts ground cinnamon
1/8 ts ground fresh nutmeg
4-5 ice cubes

PROCESS
-Combine and blend
-Grate fresh nutmeg on top

INGREDIENTS
I pear sliced
1 banana
1 c almond milk
1 tb almond butter
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 ts almond extract
1/2 ts cinnamon
4-5 ice cubes

PROCESS
-Combine and blend

INGREDIENTS
2/3 c canned or fresh pumpkin
1/2 apple
1 c almond milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 ts pumpkin pie spice
4-5 ice cubes
 

PROCESS
-Combine and blend

Oxx,
Carly


 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH BISQUE WITH CANDIED MAPLE BACON

Butternut squash bisque with candied bacon

Butternut squash bisque with candied bacon

SCENE: 

Some soups are seasonal. Butternut squash bisque is a soup I look forward to each fall. Every year, as the season approaches, enthusiasm surfaces in anticipation. That being said, it's also a soup that I enjoy, but after I've had it once, forget about it until the following year. I decided that I wanted to create a version that I would miss once it was gone. Miss. Think about. Crave. And, make again a couple of weeks later. Therefore I created a recipe that was more complex than my previous recipes. And then, I added maple bacon. I made it today and I'll be making it again soon! 

SONG:

Miss You
It seemed appropriate. I've been listening to The Rolling Stones lately while I run and well, this song fit the bill. 

INGREDIENTS
2 tb olive oil
1 c yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 ts fennel seed
1/2 tb fresh ginger
1 medium sized apple
2 c butternut squash
1 c acorn squash
32 oz chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 c apple brandy
2 tb maple syrup
1/2 ts tumeric
1/2 ts curry
1/4 ts white pepper
1/8 ts ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
3 slices of bacon
2 tb maple syrup

PROCESS
-Add olive oil to a large soup pot and heat on medium to high
-Add onion and garlic and sautee for 5-7 min until onions are translucent and aromatic
-Add apple, ginger, and fennel seeds and saute for 3-4 min
-Add the next 9 ingredients and bring to a boil
-Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20 min
-Season with salt and pepper
-Cook bacon on medium heat in a frying pan until crispy
-Remove bacon from the pan and place on a plate with paper towels to soak up the fat
-Brush bacon with maple syrup
-Chop bacon and garnish soup

Oxx,
Carly



 

 

PORK CHOPS WITH APPLES IN AN APPLE BRANDY SAUCE

PORK CHOPS WITH APPLES IN AN APPLE BRANDY SAUCE

PORK CHOPS WITH APPLES IN AN APPLE BRANDY SAUCE

SCENE: 

Apples are everywhere and I'm in the mood to go apple picking. Unfortunately here in San Francisco, apple picking options are slim pickings and my virtual apple tree will have to suffice. Needless to say, the Farmers Market is bursting with apples and I need not go far to satisfy my desire to cook something seasonal. Yesterday I went to the butcher to pick up a pork tenderloin and bacon but once I saw the beautiful thick cut pork chops, I knew I had to oblige. It was well worth it. Drool worthy recipe...

SONG: 

Paradise
Because I felt like I was in Paradise with each bite

INGREDIENTS
2 Bone in thick cut pork chops
1-2 tb olive oil
1 apple
½ lemon
2/3 cup apple brandy
2 tb garam masala
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1 tb butter
½ c half & half
 

PROCESS
-Slice the apple and place in a dish
-Squeeze juice from ½ lemon over apples
-Add 1/3 c apple brandy to apples
-Cover and refrigerate 2 hours-overnight
-Remove pork chops from the fridge 30-40 min before cooking
-Season each pork chop with 1tb of garam masala, salt and pepper
-Warm oil in a pan on medium to high heat
-Add pork chops and cook 6-7 min per side
-Remove pork chops, cover and let rest
-To the pan add butter, shallots and garlic
-Sautee shallots and garlic for 2-3 min on medium heat
-Add apples in brandy, 1 tb of garam masala and 1/3c brandy
-Increase heat and reduce the sauce
-Add half & half
-Stir until warm and remove from heat
-Pour apple brandy mixture over the pork chops
Serve and Enjoy!

Oxx,
Carly

PUMPKIN PIE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

PUMPKIN PIE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

PUMPKIN PIE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

SCENE:
Fall is here and I'm completely obsessed with pumpkin. I feel like a Trader Joe's marketing exec: I MUST make all things pumpkin. Seriously. Have you been to Trader Joe's lately? Or perused their newsletter? What's next? Pumpkin Pickles? If I ever get pregnant again... Kidding. 

Brownies are always a good idea, especially for sharing. I decided to try a pumpkin pie chocolate brownie recipe in hopes of finding a dessert option other than pie to serve this holiday season. These are pretty amazing. They are perfect for Halloween as well. I added some orange sprinkles for pizzaz and placed them on this sweet pumpkin plate from Sur La Table.  

SONG:
You Make Me Feel So Young
A few years ago we decide to have a 'Frank Fall.' It was a grand idea and we've continued the tradition. As well, baking to Frank is fun. 
 

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 c butter
3 oz dark chocolate baking squares
3 large eggs
1 c & 2 tb sugar
2 tb brandy
1 tb vanilla extract
2/3 c flour
1 1/2 ts baking powder
1 ts salt divided
1 15 oz can of pumpkin
3 lage eggs
1/3 c brown sugar
1 1/2 ts pumpkin spice

PROCESS
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Place a double broiler on the stove and pour water in the bottom pot
-Place first 3 ingredients in the top pot and cook until the butter and chocolate are melted 5-7 min
-Remove from heat and let cool
-Whisk together 3 eggs, sugar, brandy and vanilla
-Add warm chocolate mixture and whisk
-Let cool for 10 min
-Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with parchment paper and grease with nonstick spray or butter
-Mix flour, baking powder, and  1/2 ts salt in a large bowl
-Add chocolate mixture
-Pour the batter into the pan but reserve 2/3 c for later
-Whisk together pumpkin, next four ingredients, and 1/2 ts salt
-Pour over the brownie batter in the pan
-Add the remaining brownie batter and swirl gently with a spatula or knife
-Bake for 45-50 min
-Let brownies cool
-Cut and serve

Enjoy!
Oxx,
Carly
 

TURKEY AND WHITE BEAN CHILI WITH ANISE

TURKEY AND WHITE BEAN CHILI

TURKEY AND WHITE BEAN CHILI

SCENE:

What's for dinner?  I'm in the mood for chili! Last week I made a traditional chili and it was jammin. This week I wanted to create another chili but use white beans and anise. Anise has the flavor of black licorice; Halloween is around the corner, right? I also decided to add white wine and citrus to the pot. I drink wine. I cook with wine. The chili was fantastic! The flavors married well and the 'final impression' (doctor lingo from husband Luke) was warming and hearty. 

SONG:
Day-O
I can imagine serving this at a zany dinner party and pairing black licorice cocktails

INGREDIENTS
1/2 c onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tb olive oil
1 lb turkey meat
1 ts anise seeds
1 ts cumin
1 ts chili powder
7 mini bell peppers
1/4 c white wine
1 c parboiled carrots
1/2 ts cinnamon
2 cloves of garlic
sea salt
4 c white beans
1/2 ts chili powder
1/2 ts orange zest

PROCESS
-Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil
-Add turkey meat, anise seeds, cumin, and chili powder and cook for 5 minutes on medium
-Chop bell peppers and remove seeds
-Add bell peppers, white wine, parboiled carrots, cinnamon, garlic and salt to turkey
-Cook on low for 10 minutes
-Add 4 c canned or cooked white beans, chili powder, and orange zest
-Cook on low for 10 minutes
-Salt and pepper to taste

Oxx,
Carly
 

 

PUMPKIN HUMMUS

PUMPKIN HUMMUS

PUMPKIN HUMMUS

SCENE: 

Hello! It's a beautiful fall day here in San Francisco and extraordinarily hot! This weekend the Blue Angels are flying overhead and people are celebrating by attending the air shows at Aquatic Park or rooftop parties with friends. Yesterday we went to Aquatic Park with mom and melted in 79 degree heat as the BA's flew above us. Today we've been invited to our friends' house who live on the top of Russian Hill and have amazing views of the Blue Angles from their balcony. I decided to bring a seasonal appetizer and created a pumpkin hummus, which I'm serving in a ceramic pumpkin dish I recently purchased at Sur La Table. Going somewhere? Bring this dish! Staying home? Make this dish and dig in!

SONG: 

Highway Through The Danger Zone
Remember Tom Cruise in the 80's? I do!

RECIPE
1 can of garbanzo beans
1 1/4 c of canned pumpkin
2 Tb tahini
3 Tb olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 ts pumpkin spice
1 1/2 ts salt
1/4 c pine nuts

PROCESS
-Open and drain garbanzo beans
-Combine all of the ingredients and puree in a food processor
-Fill appropriate serving dish
-Top with drizzled olive oil, sea salt, and pine nuts
-Serve with crackers, flat bread, or pita

Oxx,
Carly

PUMPKIN SPICE MILKSHAKE

PUMPKIN SPICE MILKSHAKE

PUMPKIN SPICE MILKSHAKE

SCENE: 

Ring, ring. Well actually, ding! It's 2016. My friend Stacy here in SF owns a wedding planning company, They So Loved Events, and texted me to see if I wanted to collaborate with her on a fall beverage concept. She was working with the wedding blog, Snippet and Ink to design fall decor and DIY ideas and needed someone for the food piece. I was delighted to help and it was suggested that I make a pumpkin milkshake. I got to work quickly. Luke and Vivi were my taste testers and requested a refill before they finished their initial serving. MORE! MORE! This is the perfect treat for Fall. How much pie can one really eat?

SONG: 

Shake, Rattle, and Roll
Whenever I drink a shake I imagine a 50's diner scene

INGREDIENTS
5 c vanilla bean ice cream
1 15 oz can of pumpkin
1 c 2% milk
3 tb pure maple syrup
2 1/2 ts pumpkin spice
2 ts vanilla extract
Whipped cream
Chocolate bar for shaving

Pumpkin Spice
2 ts cinnamon
½ ts ground ginger
½ ts all spice
½ ts ground nutmeg
½ ts ground cardamom
1/8 ts white pepper

PROCESS
-Combine all of the ingredients in a blender
-Blend until desired consistency
-Pour into glasses
-Top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate

*May use purchased pumpkin spice 

 

 

BASEBALL! BABY GIVE ME CHILI!

TURKEY CHILI WITH BLACK BEANS

TURKEY CHILI WITH BLACK BEANS

SCENE: 

Hello! Well it was one of those days. You know those days when you're anticipating watching your favorite baseball team in the playoffs and you're trying to decide what to serve for dinner during such an important event. Baseball + Fall + San Francisco Night = Hot Bowl of Chili. This chili was pretty exceptional. The ingredients are basic however I soaked and cooked black bean rather than using canned black beans. If you're in a pinch, use canned, however fresh beans make all the difference. I also added my signature ingredient; cocoa. DO IT! It's a significant subtle touch that elevates the dish. 

SONG: 
Don't Stop Believin'
Giants BABY! And we won! Whoop!

INGREDIENTS
1 yellow onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 large green bell pepper
2 Tb olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1lb ground turkey
5 crimini mushrooms
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
4 c of black beans
1 Tb cumin
1 ts paprika
1 ts onion powder
1 Tb cocoa

ACCOUTREMENTS
Aged white cheddar cheese
Avocado
Chives
Tortilla Chips

PROCESS
-Dice onion, garlic, and green bell pepper
-Saute for 5-6 min on medium heat in olive oil
-Add salt and pepper to taste
-Add turkey meat and saute until meat is mostly cooked through
-Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 3 min
-Add remaining 6 ingredients and cook on low heat for 20 min
-Add salt and pepper to taste
-Serve in deep bowls and top with grated cheese, avocado, chives and chips

Oxx,
Carly

 

PLUM LIQUEUR

PLUM LIQUEUR

PLUM LIQUEUR

SCENE:

October has arrived! I've been waiting 90 long days and 90 long nights for this day to arrive. The last time I made plum liqueur was in 2008. I used to make it every year and I enjoyed sipping it in the evenings after eating a beautiful meal. This year, my girlfriend Aleks who lives here in San Francisco in a house with a backyard (I kid you not!) called me to offer plums from her (gasp!) plum tree. Backyards and plum trees are rare in San Francisco. Actually, so are houses! Make and serve plum liqueur to your guests in fancy cordial glasses and they will feel as though you cloaked them in velvet and rolled out the red carpet. 

SONG:

Fly me to the moon
Because sipping plum liqueur on a cool fall evening makes me feel lovely, cozy, and special. Diana Krall's version is my fave.

Plum Liqueur

Plum Liqueur

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 pounds plums
1 1/2 c sugar
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
2 1-inch pieces of lemon peel
4 cups vodka, plus more as needed

PROCESS
-Wash all of the plums
-Pierce the plums a few times with a knife
-Combine all of the ingredients and store for 2-3 months in a dark place
-Shake up the jar every couple of weeks
-Strain and store in airtight containers at room temp
-Serve in a cordial glass

*I've found that keeping the cinnamon stick in the entire 3 months results in a fairly spicy liqueur and the plum flavor is a bit lost. Therefore I suggest removing the cinnamon stick after one month. However it's your call.

Oxx,
Carly


 

 



 

SEASONAL TOMATO ALMOND TART INSPIRED BY YOTAM OTTOLENGHI

TOMATO ALMOND TART

TOMATO ALMOND TART

“We’re having tomato tart for dinner? Ha ha. What’s that babe?” Those are the words my husband uttered when I shared our plan for dinner. And even after I described what we were having, he still looked at me dazed and confused. That's okay. He'll explain medicine, I'll explain food.  

Two nights ago I was in the mood to create a seasonal vegetarian meal. We eat meat or fish most nights and I thought it would be fun to make something different that highlights the beautiful, juicy tomatoes from our local farmers market.

I was interested in baking a tomato tart and perused the cookbook Plenty More written by Yotam Ottolenghi from London, in hopes of finding a recipe. Fortunately, there was one. I’ve made a few recipes from his book and they have been delicious so I assumed this would be as well.

The recipe calls for puff pastry however I had purchased a package of phyllo dough last week and decided to use that instead. I like the texture of phyllo dough; light and flaky. I also reduced the amount of butter suggested and switched a few of the ingredients. The idea of following a recipe to a T is brilliant, however if I want to lighten a recipe and/or want to use ingredients I have on hand, I have no problem subtracting and substituting.

The recipe was easy to make and quite delicious. It’s also a very beautiful meal and would be an impressive dish to serve to guests. I served it with my kale Caesar salad and a glass of rose. Not surprisingly, Luke enjoyed it very much and even had a slice the next day for lunch. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
1/3 c unsalted butter at room temp
2 eggs beaten
1½ c bread crumbs (I made fresh bread crumbs with day old bread in the food processor)
¾ c fresh ground almonds
1 c ricotta cheese
2 cloves of garlic
½ c finely grated Parmesan cheese
5 sheets of phyllo dough
Butter for greasing the phyllo dough
2 lbs of seasonal tomatoes
24 black wrinkly olives
¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
½ c fresh basil

PROCESS
-Defrost phyllo dough in the refridgerator 6-8 hours prior to cooking
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
-Line a 17 ½ by 12 ½ inch baking sheet with parchment paper
-In a food processor combine the first 7 ingredients and blend until smooth
-Set aside blended ingredients
-Roll out the defrosted phyllo dough (wet a paper towel and lay over the phyllo dough to keep it moist and prevent cracking)
-Lay one large sheet of phyllo on the prepared pan
-Lightly coat the phyllo dough with melted butter or olive oil using a pastry brush
-Repeat with the remaining 4 sheets of phyllo
-Using a silicone spatula, gently spread blended mixture across ½ to ¾ of the sheet (you’ll want a good amount of mixture for each slice therefore try not to spread too thin)
-Trim the remaining phyllo with kitchen scissors and remove
-Fold the edges up to create a rim
-Lay the tomato slices on top of each other in 4-5 rows
-Sprinkle with ¼ c grated parmesan cheese
-Place the olives sporadically across the tart
-Bake for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden
-Scatter basil leaves on top
-Slice and serve

Oxx,
Carly

HAIL CAESAR! AN APPLAUSE WORTHY CAESAR SALAD

CAESAR SALAD

CAESAR SALAD

Hail Caesar!

Do you have a favorite salad? It’s hard for me to commit to ONE salad as my fave, however a jamming Caesar salad is definitely in my ‘TOP 5.”

Now that my birthday ‘weeks’ celebrations have concluded and we are home from vacation, I am back in the saddle (kitchen) and ready to cook.  This last weekend I tried three recipes that were share worthy. Two of them I created and one was from a cookbook that has been sitting on my shelf begging for love.  More on that later…

I have made Caesar salad on countless occasions. In the beginning I would use a store bought dressing. However for the last several years I have pretty much ditched the processed dressing concept and started making my own. Homemade dressings/vinaigrettes are so easy to make, taste a thousand times better and are far healthier. For the Caesar dressing, I had been making a dressing from a recipe a friend shared a few years back. I was never quite satisfied with the outcome and wanted a better version.

Do you remember the movie Gladiator? It’s one of my all time favorite films. There’s romance, history, beautiful cinematography, deceit, competition, and victory. Let’s not forget Russell Crowe as Maximus. He’s the quintessential hero: loyal, strong, handsome and brave. What’s not to love? But I digress.

All I can say is, after making this new Caesar salad and taking the first bite, the words that came to mind were, “Hail Caesar.” Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
1/3 c olive oil
½ tb Dijon mustard
½ ts Worcestershire
2 cloves of garlic
4 anchovy filets
1 hardboiled egg yolk (I used to use raw but prefer the texture from a hardboiled egg)
Juice from ½ lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
½ c freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 c  crushed croutons
1 bunch of kale (roughly two cups)
1 head of romaine lettuce (roughly two cups)

PROCESS
-Combine the first 8 ingredients in a food processor and blend until there is a creamy consistency
-Wash and chop kale and romaine lettuce
-In a large salad bowl layer kale and romaine lettuce
-Pour 1/3 of the dressing over the greens and massage until it’s evenly dispersed
-Toss in grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and croutons
-Add more dressing to taste
-Serve and Enjoy!
-* I prefer a lightly dressed salad and therefore had leftover dressing towards an additional salad.

Oxx,
arly

CHOCOLATE POT DE CREME

CHOCOLATE POT DE CREME

CHOCOLATE POT DE CREME

I made this recipe last week to celebrate Bastille Day. Since making it there has been a tragedy in Nice, France. My heart and prayers goes out to all the victims and their families.

The first time I made chocolate pot de crème was for Luke and I in 2012. It was our first Christmas together and he had to work during the day. We were living in Durham, NC without our families’ but had recently found one another. Blushing… We were still newly dating and I wanted to impress him with a gourmet dinner for two when he got off of work.

That morning I woke at 5 am, as I always do on Christmas, elated and eager to celebrate the holiday. I seriously am like a 4 year old on Christmas morning. Is Santa real?! My enthusiasm for the day is through the roof and I usually start calling and texting friends and family. Unfortunately I was on the East Coast. It was 2 am in California and Washington.

Around 7 when the sun came up I decided to go for a 10 mile run. It was the perfect distraction from being alone and away from family and friends on Christmas. It was a beautiful, crisp morning and as I ran around Durham, alone with my thoughts, I mentally began to prepare for the dinner I was going to create once I arrived home. Thinking through the list of ingredients, I suddenly realized I had forgotten to purchase eggs. No problem. I’ll run to the grocery store. Ha ha. Yaaaa it’s not Safeway in SF. It’s Krogers in Durham and it was closed. I panicked. Do I call my friend Don Ball and request to borrow some eggs? I had just ran by the Washington Duke Inn to say hello as he was also working on Christmas Day. Perhaps the kitchen at the Wa Duke could lend me some eggs?! I certainly didn’t want to inquire.

I continued running, hoping for an alternative and fortunately ran by a gas station that was open. Bingo! Eggs!

When I arrived home, I quickly got to work. Chocolate pot de crème isn’t a complicated recipe however it requires time. The custards must chill for a few hours before serving. If you’ve never experienced chocolate pot de crème (or even if you have), I urge you to head to the store, obtain the ingredients, and make it as soon as possible. It doesn’t have to be Christmas. It doesn’t have to be Bastille Day. It merely has to be a day that you are alive on this planet wanting to taste something decadent and phenomenal. Bon Appetite!

INGREDIENTS
2 c half & half
½ c whole milk
6 oz 63% or higher dark chocolate
1 tb cinnamon
1 ts chili powder
¼ ts salt
½ ts vanilla
6 large egg yolks
1/3 c sugar

PROCESS
-Preheat oven to 325 degrees
-Bring the half & half and milk to a simmer on medium to high heat
-Once it is about to boil, remove from heat
-Add chopped chocolate
-Add cinnamon, chili powder, salt, and vanilla and whisk until thoroughly incorporated
-Whisk egg yolk and sugar in a separate large bowl
-Gradually add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture
-Cover and let cool for five minutes
-Divide custard among 6 ramekins or custard cups
-Cover each with foil
-Place ramekins into a large baking dish that is filled with 1” of water
-Bake for 50-55 minutes until custards are set but slightly soft
-Remove foil
-Refrigerate for 3-4 hours covered with plastic wrap
-Garnish with a strawberry rose, berries, or fresh whipped cream

Oxx,
Carly

PARISIAN PARSLEY POTATO SALAD

PARISIAN PARSLEY POTATO SALAD

PARISIAN PARSLEY POTATO SALAD

Paris, The City of Light. People often ask me why I love Paris as much as I do. For me, Paris is three things; romantic, whimsical and elegant.

I first fell in love with Paris in 2004. I can remember the moment I walked out of the metro station in the Saint Germain des Pres arrondissement on the Left Bank. It was a beautiful summer morning around 10 am and the sun was shining brightly. The street was quiet and I took a few moments to look around and soak in the surrounding beauty. The architecture was spectacular; it far exceeded every image studied and memorized in countless art history classes taken in college. It was love at first sight.

The remaining days spent in Paris on that first holiday were magical. There was so much to discover, appreciate, and digest.  Whether it was discovering a new perfume or stumbling upon a jewelry boutique, each experience was joyful.  I got lost each day in countless museums, gardens and tourist attractions. Rodin stole my heart as I walked the gardens at his museum.  The statues loomed large and displayed the finesse of a world-class master sculptor.

As it was summer, the days were long and the sun didn’t set until around 10 pm each evening. This of course meant countless divine culinary experiences to cap each day. However, since it was Paris, the culinary mecca of the world, I didn’t wait until the evening to sample delicious cuisine. It began at breakfast, and I took every opportunity between sightseeing to try something new.

One dish that was extraordinarily simple, light and lovely was a potato salad that I picked up at my now favorite patisserie in Saint Germain des Pres on my way to picnic at the Jardin du Luxembourg. It was quite different from a traditional American potato salad, which is mayonnaise based and often contains celery, eggs, bacon, etc. This potato salad seemingly had three ingredients; parsley, olive oil, and salt. It was perfect. As I sat in the gardens looking at the fountains and the children playing nearby, eating the salad and sipping wine, I remember feeling like I was part of a painting. That moment was extraordinary. 

I’ve made several versions since that first trip to Paris and have altered it each time until this final version, which resembles the one I first had in 2004. I’ve added dill and a vinaigrette made with sherry and Dijon mustard.  This salad is perfect alongside a green salad, roasted chicken and glass of rose. I suggest enjoying the meal while picnicking in beautiful surroundings. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
½ c chopped parsley
¼ c chopped dill
½ c olive oil
1 tb sherry vinegar
1 ½ ts Dijon mustard
½ ts salt
½ ts pepper

PROCESS
-Boil water in a large pot
-Quarter potatoes and add to the boiling water
-Boil for 15 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork
-Strain potatoes and let cool
-Add chopped herbs
-Rough mash the herbs and potatoes with a masher
-Combine the sherry vinegar and Dijon mustard
-Add the oil to the vinaigrette in a slow steady stream, whisk constantly
-Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper
-Pour the vinaigrette over the potatoes
-Toss with a large fork and spoon, keeping it light and fluffy
-Serve
-Drizzle with additional oil
-Add fresh ground sea salt to taste

Oxx,
Carly

SMOKY CORN AND BACON CHOWDER

SMOKY CORN AND BACON CHOWDER

SMOKY CORN AND BACON CHOWDER

“The coldest winter I’ve ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”

Mark Twain

Soup in summer? I know, it sounds odd and depending upon where you live, may not be the best idea. Strangely however, San Francisco is known for being cool during the summer. In 2010 I lived in the marina district one block from the marina green. I moved into my flat in spring and was thrilled to live in a pleasant and bucolic neighborhood so close to the water. I worked downtown and took the bus to work and back each day. It was Pleasantville.  

Wait for it. As soon as June rolled around, the temperature dropped significantly. I recall getting home from work around 5:30 pm each night and heading out for an evening stroll to relax and rejuvenate. Yet rather than stroll leisurely in summer clothes, I would put on two-three layers, including a scarf and hat! Insert eye roll.  The fog had rolled in and the wind had picked up. I loved the brisk walk but despised the cold temps. I would return home, chilled to the bone, craving something warm to eat.

Now I live downtown where the weather conditions are milder. It’s often quite windy but the fog is usually amiss and less layers are required. Less layers. One still benefits from a coat in the evenings, and bowl of soup hits the spot after a long day out.

As I mentioned in a previous post, corn is in season and there are so many delicious corn recipes. I created this smoky corn chowder last week and it was a hit. We don’t usually eat leftovers, but we rose to the occasion for this delicious chowder. In fact we were bummed there wasn’t enough for a third meal! Happy Cooking!

INGREDIENTS
2 tb olive oil
¾ c chopped white onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
¾ celery
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
32 oz vegetable or chicken broth
3 ears of corn
5 cups chopped Yukon Gold potatoes
1 ts chipotle powder
½ ts ancho powder
½ ts cumin
½ ts salt
6 slices cooked and chopped bacon
1 c 2% milk
Green onion

PROCESS
-Cook corn in a large pot of boiling water for about 15 minutes
-Remove from pot and let cool
-Once cool, cut corn from cob
-Heat 2 tb olive oil in a large soup pot
-Sautee chopped onion, garlic, and celery in olive oil for about 5 minutes
-Add jalapeno pepper and cook for an additional 2 minutes
-Add broth
-Add corn and potatoes
-Add chipotle powder, ancho powder, cumin and salt
-Cook for 18-22 minutes on medium heat
-Reduce heat and add 5 pieces of chopped bacon (reserve one piece for garnish)
-Add milk
-Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes on low
-With an immersion blender, blend soup until thick and creamy (use a regular blender if you don’t have an immersion blender and blend in batches)
-Bring soup back up to a boil
-Remove from heat and serve
-Ladle soup into the bowls
-Garnish with chopped green onions, black pepper, bacon, and jalapeno

Enjoy!
Oxx,
Carly

AHI TUNA POKE

AHI TUNA POKE

AHI TUNA POKE

A few days ago in anticipation for Father’s Day I asked Luke what he would like me to make him for dinner. Originally we planned to go out for dinner but after Thursday, when it was determined there would be a Game 7 in the NBA Finals, our fate was set. We would be home watching the game! I would be rooting for the Warriors and he would be rooting for the Cavs. Whoop!

Luke loves my ahi tuna nicoise salad and requested I make that for dinner. I intended to, however I recognized that we would need something to nosh on while we watched the game and decided it would be fun to create an ahi tuna poke dish and serve it with a sexy sipper. It was a brilliant alternative and easily justifiable especially when I suggested we order his favorite pizza for dinner. Hook, line, and sinker.

It was delightful and the perfect dish to serve in summer as an appetizer. It would also be lovely served on a bed of greens for a light lunch or dinner. Make sure to buy sushi-grade tuna as you will be consuming it raw. I added togarashi, which is a popular Japanese seasoning that includes a blend of spicy chili pepper, orange peel, sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed. You can purchase togarashi at an Asian market or online from Amazon. I served it with blue corn tortilla chips but you could substitute wonton crisps. Happy Cooking!

INGREDIENTS
1 pound sushi-grade ahi tuna
1 avocado diced into small cubes
4 scallions chopped
¾ c diced English cucumber
Juice from 1½ limes
3 tb soy sauce
2 ts sesame oil
1 tb finely chopped ginger
4 ts sesame seeds
½ tb togarashi (substitute with ground black pepper if you can’t find it)
Salt

PROCESS
-Cut tuna into ¼ inch cubes
-Remove any fat and discard
-Combine the remaining ingredients into a chilled bowl
-Season with salt
-Serve with tortilla chips or wonton chips

Oxx,
Carly