December 31, 2010

Tupelo Honey

Pure raw honey. This good old-fashioned American honey is harvested for only two weeks every spring from the Altamaha & Apalachicola River Basins of Georgia & Florida.

The WhiteTupelo Trees (Nyssa Ogeche) typically bloom from early April to early May they can grow as tall as 75 feet and as wide as 3 feet in diameter. Honey bees collect the nectar from the sunburst-shaped flowers and create this buttery floral sticky sweetness.

It's a lovely addition to my afternoon cup of green or oolong tea. Delicious drizzled over a slice of Manchego. Or for a lovely winter breakfast spooned over fresh yogurt and toasted almonds.

Savannah Bee Company has a recipe for a Tupelojito I have to try that this summer (if at least one of my bottles lasts that long!) when we have bushels full of fresh mint.

I was given 2 bottles of this liquid sunshine for my birthday this year & one for Christmas. I am on to my second bottle now. Thanks Mamma, Auntie M & Alice!

If you are a honey lover, I definitely recommend getting your spoon out for this one!

Cheers to you all & Happy New Year!

November 21, 2010

It All Started With a Little Grape...



We arrived at Tildio Winery a little early and noticed there were palletes of gorgeous green grapes. We thought we missed the harvest as we took our drive East to Lake Chelan exactly 2 weeks after the harvest commenced. We truly lucked out, no crowds and a taste of freshly pressed Viognier juice. Sweet, a touch sour & tart, packed with a puckered punch! T loved it! A sunny lemon yellow juice loaded with antioxidants.

November 14, 2010

Something Exciting is Going On Over At Theo Chocolate


As many of you know, I am a Theonista (although I still have yet to fill out my "Who Is Theo?" questionnaire....one of these days!). I've been with Theo Chocolate since T and I moved back to Seattle....which has been a little over a year now. (update 2013: worked for Theo 10/2009-12/2011)  There's always a lot of excitement around this time of year with new creations in our confections kitchen and holiday offerings.

Seven of the west coast's leading chefs spent a day in the Theo Chocolate kitchen collaborating with our Theo chocolatiers to create a confection that portrays the individuality of each chef by using the finest ingredients available as their inspiration.

November 7, 2010

Another Sneak Peek


Sweet Potato Coconut Chai Cupcakes


The perfect gluten, dairy & soy-free treat for all of those delicate bellies out there.

Warming spices, toasted coconut and sweet potatoes are just a sneak peek for what's to come this winter quarter (January-March 2011) at PCC Cooks.

The schedule will be set later this month; I'll be teaching Northwest Fresh. A seasonal four course menu which pulls inspiration from our robust northwest bounty and focuses on gluten, dairy and soy-free cookery also great for Pescetarians as the main dish is one of my favorite go to's for dinner parties, Hazelnut Encrusted Salmon served over Roasted Fennel & Orange Slices.

Happy Cooking!


October 31, 2010

F is for Finocchio

Finocchio is an adorable Italian word which translates to Fennel. An anise scented bulbous vegetable that pairs well with fish, Parmesan, and blood oranges. Native to the Mediterranean, this veggie was brought to the states over 200 years ago (most likely by the Spanish), it is a biennial that blooms in its second season. Fennel is prolific and will quickly take over your garden, much like mint.

Try using it in place of celery. Fennel is delicious shaved thin and eaten raw with Parmesan & arugula drizzled with olive oil. It holds up well to braising, roasting, caramelizing or grilling and infuses potatoes with a lovely licorice bite in this Tuscan inspired Pommes Anna. The Tuscan inspiration comes from the Fennel (of course) as well as olive oil.

September 12, 2010

September 9, 2010

Birthday Lunch


We spent a long afternoon at La Boucherie in celebration of my birthday. We started off with the pate plate; pork liver pate with pistachios, a salty rich head cheese and a buttery pork rillette. Accompanying this lovely charcuterie platter was Island made goat cheese, cornichons, dijon mustard, peach confiture & Bill's bread. The salted pork rillette was my favorite, slathered on slices of Bill's bread followed by the tart crunchiness of a cornichon.

September 2, 2010

Tartine



cacao nib rochers

August 28, 2010

Oloroso & The Secret Sherry Society

Tales from the IFBC:

Love started with the first sip of Amontillado. Maybe it's the Spanish flamenco guitar in the background but I feel as though I've been transported from Theo's parking lot to Montilla Spain, the birthplace of this particular aged sherry....the next bite was a spicy tuna empanada paired with a young and dry Fino Sherry.

True love began with Oloroso and the buttery tart bite of melting Manchego and Jamon Serrano. All I can say is, I would drive miles for this pairing. The buttery- tartness of the mini sandwich accompanied by the nutty vinous body of the Oloroso Sherry....YUM!

I consulted with Pamela of The Secret Sherry Society about pairing Manchego with fig preserves and toasted almonds (one of my favorite snacks!!)....the best Sherry for this will be Manzanilla. Now I can transform my snack into a suitable course to serve with Sherry for a dessert at my next dinner party. The Secret Sherry Society's tasting notes describes this Sherry as "A straw colored wine with a dry, sharp bouquet which is light on the palate. It is aged under the very special type of 'flor' that exclusively grows in bodegas located in Sanlucar de Barrameda."

I can't wait to try it!!

Do you have a favorite Sherry pairing?
If so please DO tell.

August 27, 2010

IFBC

This weekend I'll be attending the 2nd Annual International Food Blogger Conference!

You may notice a difference in the quality of my photos (and posts for that matter) as I will be posting from my blackberry. These photos will merely be place holders until I can get my hands back to my computer. Please simply disregard the messaging from blackberry at the end of my posts, as I will most likely be in foodie bliss at this conference and will inevitably forget to add the proper code to delete this line of text. I'm already giddy just thinking about it....food writers, food, wine, editors, fellow food bloggers, chefs & workshops oh my!

I'm so looking forward to all of the workshops, but I'm most excited for digital photography tips from Penny De Los Santos! You can find her photos featured in National Geographic, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur Magazine and many other publications.

Tonight we kick off the weekend with a speech from Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me. Wines from Walla Walla Wine Alliance, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Chateau Ste. Michelle & Jordan Winery. One of the featured chefs this evening is a fellow CCA alumni, Jason Wilson owner and executive chef of CRUSH.

This is my first mobile blog post so wish me luck!

August 10, 2010

Victoria's Thai Green Curry Paste

fresh thai green curry paste
This simple creation is a favorite around my house. Using a food processor with the blade attachment puree the following ingredients into a thick paste:

a bunch of cilantro
a bunch of thai basil
a few stalks of lemongrass
1" nub of fresh ginger or galangal
a small bunch of scallion tips
3 large garlic cloves
several kaffir lime leaves
at least 5 thai green chiles

Simmer at least 1/4 of the paste with your favorite vegetables, protein & coconut milk until all ingredients are cooked through.
Finish the curry with fresh lime juice & sea salt. Freeze the remaining paste in small glass mason jars. For instant Thai Green Curry, simply defrost overnight at room temperature.

August 9, 2010

Chiles


Urfa Biber
Aleppo
Cayenne - African

August 8, 2010

Gluten-Free & Vegan Birthdays

August is a big month for birthdays in my family. We celebrated both Travis' birthday & his mom's birthday this weekend. The Babycakes cookbook has been a big hit since the banana bread, so I baked Babycakes' Chocolate Cupcakes for Travis' birthday dessert. For his mom's cake I went with Babycakes' Double-Chocolate Crumb Cake.

August 6, 2010

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Thai Eggplant
Purple Carrots

July 25, 2010

babycakes


BabyCakes NYC is definitely on our list of bakeries to visit when we travel to New York.....one of these days.



Erin McKenna bakes up a beautiful banana bread loaf. Not just any banana bread, a recipe that is completely vegan & gluten-free. I prefer pouring the batter into muffin tins to create adorable babycakes. The miniature cakes are moist and sweet all the way through. I'm used to my hearty gluten-free muffins, these are light and almost springy. A delicious alternative to my Bittersweet Banana Cupcakes.

July 14, 2010

Summer Radishes & Cucumbers

Summer is the time of year we prefer chilled soups over steaming hot stews; crisp & cool salads over roasted veggies; and ice-cream, well for me over most things! This salad of cucumbers and radishes is one of my favorites to serve with fresh spring rolls, grilled salmon, seared scallops or spicy fried rice.

July 11, 2010

Earth & Sea


Umi Sake House's Moonraker Roll balances delicately between Earth and Sea.

Spicy yellowtail, cucumbers & cilantro topped with a smokey mixture of seared snow crab & black tobiko drizzled with a citrus jalapeno sauce & truffle oil.

Flavor profile: Salty...Sweet...Smokey...Spicy...Savory...Earthy & Fruity

Texture: Creamy & Crunchy

Now, I love truffles just as much as the next Italiana and I do think that it enhances many dishes, but it's competing with too many elements in Umi's Moonraker Roll; this roll would be better off without it! The truffle oil DOES add a certain element of earthiness however the smokiness could pull this off on its own.

What I love about Umi's Moonraker Roll is that it satiates completely with one bite! You get a bit of everything from clean crisp cucumbers to citrus sweetness, seawater to bonfire smoke & the fruity spice of the jalapeƱo to the woodsy taste of truffles.

Adopting the Japanese Izakaya style of informal eating and drinking, Umi was designed to reflect the layout of a Japanese country house, including both a front and back porch.

We are already planning our next visit as Umi Sake House is like dropping by an old friend's house on a summer afternoon.

July 5, 2010

Presidential Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


A good fit for any 4th of July feast. This oatmeal raisin cookie is a favorite of former president Clinton's.

A fine recipe, although I think next time around I'll add a touch more butter, why not make it easy and toss in the full 2 sticks (8 ounces)? Also, cut a bit of the sweetness by 1/8-1/4 cup. Serve as an ice-cream sandwich layered with cinnamon, ginger or vanilla bean gelato.




June 25, 2010

This Brownie Isn't Shy: Brownie Testing Take 1

Whether dense, chunky, gooey, cakey, crumby, airy or nutty; Brownies are difficult to resist. I'm in the testing stages right now using Theo Chocolate's 70% Dark Chocolate. This chocolate's cacao beans are sourced from the Dominican Republic and Ecuador. Theo does not hinder their chocolate with the addition of soy lecithin their bars are packed full of cacao butter; as it should be! Therefore there is a depth to the chocolate that is unmatched out in the world. A deep red fruity chocolate with a beautiful balance of sweetness and floral tones. This chocolate pairs up nicely with nuts.
This brownie isn't shy, it's chock-full of chocolate and not your average 50-60% Cacao....this is a whopping 70% chocolate bar brimming over with antioxidants.

Testing Notes:
Rich, good sweetness. A bit too dense. Addition of 1-2 more eggs and perhaps cut the butter down a smidgen. Delicious right from the oven, okay later in the day. Even better after freezing and the following days.

June 11, 2010

Ginger, Garlic, Coconut & Potatoes


Serve in place of rice as a side to Thai curry or place in the spotlight and pair with a steaming bowl of salted broccoli & a dipping bowl of sambal oelek.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Slice a dozen or so red potatoes into 1/4" half moons.
Drizzle with a few heaping tablespoons of coconut oil. Toss with minced fresh ginger and garlic. Roast in the pre-heated oven until golden brown and tender through, approximately 45 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

June 3, 2010

Homemade Nutella

One of my favorite cookies is Emily Luchetti's Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies slathered with nutella. Ahhhhh, the sweet scent of sugared hazelnuts toasting within the buttery dough.
I featured her cookies once before here.

With my most recent batch I cut back the hazelnuts a touch (1/3 Cup) and added one of Theo Chocolate's scrumptious Hazelnut Crunch Bars, in turn I decreased the sugar a smidgen.

May 2, 2010

Keeping A Gluten & Dairy-Free Belly


Light and airy; this multi-grain bread puts other gluten-free loaves to shame. This recipe was brought to my attention by one of my lovely gluten-free co-workers, Thanks BL!

Of course, I added my own gluten-free ingredients and created a dairy-free loaf. I added a dash of arrowroot starch instead of the called for corn starch and stirred in coconut milk with a drizzle of evoo instead of milk and butter. I didn't have any seeds or millet in the pantry, but I'm looking forward to folding in a handful next time!

April 24, 2010

Spring Chives

It's Spring and chives are in bloom. This Allium is solely grown for its leaves. Separate the tiny florets of the chives' pink flower and garnish your favorite soup, sprinkle minced chives into your breakfast scramble, add a handful of sprigs to any potato dish, toss with roasted vegetables and fold into biscuit dough or gougeres batter.

April 20, 2010

Banana Nib Brittle Muffins


Theo Chocolate's Fantasy Flavor Bars add a whimsical element to classic recipes. Today, I baked with Theo's dark and crunchy Nib Brittle Bar. This chocolate bar pairs beautifully with bananas; I chopped it into bits and folded it into my classic Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin batter in place of the ever traditional chocolate chips. If you like your muffins on the sweet side then make sure to add an additional 1/8 cup - 1/4cup sugar, as the nib brittle bar has 70% cacao content versus the typical 60-65% I use for this recipe.


Tasting Notes:
Day 1 & warm from the oven:
Moist, fluffy, oozing chocolate and not overly sweet.
May need to add 1/8-1/4 C more sugar.

Day 2:
Moist, chocolate brittle crunch, not overly sweet.
Although I prefer my banana bread less sweet than other muffins, I may add 1/8 C more sugar in the next testing.

April 18, 2010

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Bittersweet Fig, Fennel & Almond Frosting

These cupcakes are gluten & dairy free! Perfect for Travis' tummy and any vegans out there.

For the cupcake use Vanilla Almond Cupcake recipe.

This frosting was inspired by Theo Chocolate's Fig, Fennel & Almond Chocolate Bar; a delectable bittersweet chocolate perfumed with fennel and studded with figs & almonds.


Vegan Cupcakes

This afternoon I baked cupcakes without eggs and butter. Instead, I played around with Moskowitz & Romero's Vanilla Gluten Freedom Cupcakes from their Vegan cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Substituting oil & flax seeds for the traditional butter and eggs.

April 10, 2010

Vegetable Gardening

Sugar Snap Peas
We are planting a vegetable garden with our family this year. I have the delightful job of helping with the seasonal layout and planting (my days spent as a farm intern are coming in handy). Travis helped with the garden design and leveling out the raised beds with his dad. Travis' mom and I planted all sorts of veggie starters and seeds today. We hope the frost has passed!

March 28, 2010

Cumin Dusted Pork Loin with Candied Orange Sauce

This dish comes together quickly for a weekend family meal. Toast 1 1/2t cumin seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant. Mix together the toasted cumin seeds, 2 garlic cloves, 1/4-1t red chile pepper flakes, 2t orange zest, 1t sea salt, 1/2t black pepper and pound into a paste using a mortar & pestle, or pulse together in a food processor. Rub the paste onto a 1 1/2lb-2lb pork loin, cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for 3-5 hours, pull the pork out of the fridge 30-45 minutes prior to roasting.

Preheat the oven to 45o degrees F. Place the pork in a roasting pan on the center rack in the oven and roast for approximately 20-25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and roast for approximately 10-15 minutes until the internal temperature is somewhere between 140-145 degrees F.

Pull from the oven and let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes prior to slicing.
Meanwhile, bring the juice of an orange and scant 1/2 cup of honey to a boil, reduce by half or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Pour over sliced pork loin and serve with fresh orange slices.

Buon Appetito!

March 27, 2010

Teeny Tiny Superheros

Tabbouleh is traditionally made with Bulgur wheat; I take the gluten-free route by toasting Quinoa & Millet then simmering the two together until light and fluffy.

I also add Kalamata olives & fresh cilantro, shhhh don't tell the Traditionalists!

Quinoa is a complete protein, with an essential amino acid balance close to ideal. If grains and seeds were villains and superheros, then Super Quinoa would surely be the most powerful of Superheros!

Millet is the perfect sidekick packed full of protein and plenty of Vitamin B. This tiny seed actually increases the level of serotonin in our brain and helps promote the feeling of well-being, optimism and peacefulness.

I am not a huge advocate of measuring cups and spoons outside of baking. However, I'm quite particular about measuring when it comes to rice, grains & seeds. It is so disappointing to partake in a mushy, lumpy, heavy grain dish or a dish that is so dry the grain is crunchy and not cooked properly. I'm all for al dente and tadig, but not at all a fan of undercooked grains and rice.

March 24, 2010

Southeast Asian Lettuce Cups

Lettuce cups are a fun and healthy meal that can be pulled together in minutes. Run your knife through a couple of carrots with a quick julienne. Over medium-low heat saute carrots, minced ginger, the white bit of the scallion and garlic until soft. Add ground turkey, fish sauce, san-j and a touch of sambal olelek. Simmer together until the meat is cooked through. Garnish with fresh cilantro and the green bits of the scallion. Serve wrapped within your favorite type of lettuce.

March 20, 2010

February 7, 2010

Party Nibbles


Fruit Kabobs

Veggie Platter

Bruschetta

January 17, 2010

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

The perpetual gray has set in, however the rain comes and goes. Protein packed lentils play nicely with warming spices and coconut milk. This soup is the perfect panacea for drizzly cold days. I prefer mine simmered with homemade chicken stock. However, for those on a vegan/vegetarian diet veggie stock is quite delicious!

Coconut Red Lentil Soup
Serves 4

3/4 t ground cumin
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 C red lentils, rinsed and picked through for rocks
4C Veggie Stock OR Chicken Stock
1 bay leaf
1/2-1C Coconut Milk
coconut oil for cooking
sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste


In a medium stockpot, warm the coconut oil over a medium flame and add the ground cumin until warm and fragrant, about 30 seconds-1 minute.

Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute for about 5-8 minutes until the vegetables are a touch tender and the onions are translucent.
Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Toss in the lentils, stock and bay leaf; bring to a simmer, leave uncovered until the lentils are soft and cooked through about 20 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Serve topped with a dollop of coconut cream

**For coconut cream: When using canned coconut milk, don't shake the can, open and pour out into a bowl. Scoop out a few tablespoons of the thicker meaty cream and pop into the fridge until ready to serve. Whisk the rest of the coconut meat in with the liquid milk until properly mixed together, then use this to pour into the soup.

January 10, 2010

Cheers!!

Buon Capodanno to you all! Happy New Year!

December disappeared quickly! I hope to have a little more time in front of my stove and behind my lens this year.

This morning Blue (our family's black lab) and I sneezed our way through the preparation of Peppered Potatoes.

Crushed red pepper flakes, coarse black pepper, minced fresh garlic, sliced yellow onions and dried oregano make for a pungent peppery potion.

So a preemptive Salute, Gesundheit, Bless You & Happy Cooking in this New Decade!!