Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday Dinner, May 30, 2010

The events just before Sunday dinner exemplified this busy week. Jason had finished half of his preparations for the savory courses and we arrived home from church in time to finish up when...beep beep beep...uggh. 
The dreaded beeper calls Jason back to the hospital. He quickly downloads a portion of his vision of dinner and scoots out the door. Guests are coming soon, and now it is up to me to innovate based somewhat on what Jason has already done and what he had in mind. Not surprisingly our visions were a bit different, but I liked the way things turned out in the end. As always, if you want more details on a course leave a comment and we are happy to expound.  

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spring flower "croquembouche" bouquet (gluten-free)

One year ago today we were eating home cooked ratatouille on our patio overlooking the French Riviera. All around us, gorgeous green hills and just below a city filled with yummy treats. While the Riviera isn't really known for it's food in comparison to the rest of France, there are culinary gems. There is a fantastic little gelato shop that changed chocolate sorbet for me, the gluten-free street treat called socca (a chickpea flour pancake) and an amazing chocolatier that has won international chocolate competitions. The area is also known for the use of flowers. So when Daring Bakers went French this month, I knew I had to celebrate the season and become a little nostalgic with flowers - violet, lavender and rose.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

White fluffy sandwich bread, Gluten-Free!

Smoked Pork Leg with Buttermilk Blue Cheese, Mango Chutney 
and Grilled Onions on Natural Food Works Gluten-Free Bread

Last time I was driving through Davis, CA I was knee deep in morning sickness, pregnant with Gabriel. We stopped at the Farmer's Kitchen for lunch, and despite the fact I had heard rave reviews, I just couldn't stomach eating. I hadn't gone back, but this weekend at the Stanford Celiac conference I stumbled on a sample of sandwich bread. It was fresh, soft and light, a nice change from the dry, dense and off flavored standard gluten-free bread. To my surprise, this was from Natural Food Works (or Farmer's Kitchen). Speaking with the owner, Rose Anne, she reported that they have been working on the recipe over the past couple of years. Indeed they have succeeded, and there were raves all around the conference for the bread.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chocolate Passionfruit Mousse Cake

There are flavor marriages made in heaven we all know, strawberries and cream, chocolate and caramel, apples and cinnamon. And then there are those which are just becoming popular here in the US, like caramel and salt. But my favorite of these perfectly synergistic flavors is chocolate and passionfruit. I can't get enough of it. I almost always choose the chocolate passion fruit truffles and I adore my chocolate passionfruit sorbet. So, when I decided to make mousse cakes for a couple of bake sales, this was a natural combination.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

S'more Banana Cake

I have a confession. I don't really like s'mores. This is not a grown up food snob thing - I have never really liked s'mores. I think it is the toasted marshmallow I am not crazy about. The Hershey's bar can be fixed, but the new fad for upscale s'mores doesn't do much for me. But...add a banana to the mix and all is forgiven. Banana s'mores are something I can get behind.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Camping Cuisine

The rangers at our local campground always recognize us. We are the ones stirring up a risotto, whipping up our traditional chilaquiles breakfast, or concocting a seasonal fruit dessert. Yes, we shun the hot dog, chips and instant oatmeal in favor of capitalizing on the flavors the campfire imparts. Our setup is hardly backpacking friendly. We bring along our cast iron dutch oven and skillet, premix spices, cart the pepper grinder, and load lots of good almond wood. We take whatever veggies we have on hand and create whatever the open flames inspire (or rather hot coals after the flames have died down).

This last weekend we decided to hit the campground for a one night adventure. The boys explored the wild outdoors, petted banana slugs and continually fed the fire to make it bigger!

For dinner we dug into this weeks veggie bag, which had spinach, radishes and onions. We brought some leftover brown rice to make a veggie fried rice, and cooked up rib eyes directly on the coals. Yes, directly on the coals - neanderthal as it sounds, it imparts a rich flavorful crust. For dessert, we sliced some bananas lengthwise, stuffed with marshmallows and chocolate, put it back in the peel and roasted for banana "s'mores."

Next morning queue the chilaquiles...

Friday, May 14, 2010

May Daring Cook's: Stacked Enchiladas

Stacked Red Chili Mole Enchiladas
Black Bean, Butternut Squash and Raisins
Avocado Cilantro Coconut Sauce
Pickled Turnips

Culinarily, my family might as well be Mexican. We eat a tremendous amount of Mexican food, and it is one cuisine for which I feel perfectly comfortable riffing. It is a really forgiving cuisine with bold, complex flavors. The cuisine begs for improvisation, which is why everyone's Mexican abuela can cook fabulous meals and has no recipes to pass on to the next generation. The challenge this month was not to create something out of my comfort zone, but to actually try to keep track of what I was doing so I could post a recipe!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sunday Dinner, May 9, 2010: Happy Mother's Day

Favas...I love favas. And luckily many people find them too time intensive to deal with, so they leave us extra bags of favas. Their flavor is earthy but light. Their texture ever slightly so crunchy with some creaminess. When they are young you can cook up the whole pods and puree it for a sauce, but when they are more mature, you must remove them from their pods, blanch them, then peel them. It is labor intensive, but luckily we have 2 little sets of hands that can peel favas with the proper motivation. Dessert always works...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Peruvian food, El Hueco, Redwood City

Ceviche pescado (GF)

I won't lie. Peruvian food is not the easiest cuisine to approach gluten-free. Most of the menu at most restaurants is off limits. Peruvian cuisine has a strong Asian influence, so there is a lot of soy sauce used. Mix that with sauces often thickened with bread or crackers and braising in beer...if you don't eat ceviche - skip it. But if you do, and you are willing to have limited choices, the flavors are bright and rich and unique. The recipes for Peruvian food often aren't that difficult, but the ingredients are not always easy to source resulting in new flavors for most American palates.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Snap pea "posole"

Purists avert you eyes. This take on posole or pozole is hardly authentic. Not at all, in fact, except that it has posole (hominy) in it. But it is fresh, light, flavorful and a wonderful change of pace. Kids and grown ups liked it and you can make this as fussy or simple as you would like.

For this soup I used posole from Rancho Gordo. It comes dried, and you cook it up like beans. It is a fantastic corny toasty flavor that beats canned hominy any day.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream, Welcome Summer

Caramel Corn Ice Cream

OK, it really isn't summer, but it feels like it here. And so it is time to break out the ice cream machine. Actually, our ice cream machine stays out all of the time. We have a Cuisinart machine with an internal cooling mechanism. This way, I can feed my ice cream and frozen yogurt craving spontaneously. You will see lots of ice cream postings I am sure!