Thursday, November 02, 2017

Montserrat --The Confection Named After a Mountain


In Barcelona, a meringue cookie filled with hazelnuts is known as a Montserrat, after the famous moutnatin, with its rocky peaks, which the confection is said to resemble. I got to eat one today in its wild habitat, the cafeteria of the Montserrat monastery. I had a choice of lemon (which was pure white) or vanilla (yellow).  You can see my choice above.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

My Spanish Kitchen, Well Actually Just One of Them

Gary and I are on the road again. This time we are combining 10 days in London (son's wedding) with  a wide-ranging itinerary by train, car, boat and bus. Along the way we have been renting apartments with kitchens so I can cook and take advantage of the wonderful, fresh ingredients we have been finding throughout Europe. I am determined to share a lot of that here in the blog, so watch for updates on food and markets from England, France and Spain. More later. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Plum Good - Roasted Plum Compote Recipe. Sweet, Tart and Very Versatile Direct From My Neighbor's Tree

Roasted Plum Compote over Cake with Ice Cream

Nina gifted us with several bags of tart plums from her tree. I turned the fruit into a simple roasted compote that was delicious on its own or as a topping for cake, ice cream or both.

The quantities in the recipe below are based on how many plums I had left after noshing. Adapt for other amounts as needed. Recipe works well with the other stone fruits. Yield will vary depending on type of fruit and water content. The recipe will work with less than ripe fruit, but you may need to use more sugar. Very ripe fruit will work as well, but be sure to taste to adjust sugar. My plums were small. Larger plums or other stone fruit may require additional baking time.

Roasted Plum Compote 

Serves about 4 as a compote, 6-8 as topping

1 lb. 12 oz. ripe plums
2 Tbs. lemon-flavored olive oil
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste - use less with very sweet fruit, more with very tart)

Heat oven to 400 degree oven. Line rimmed baking tray(s) with parchment paper.

Slice fruit in half, remove pits and cut out any bruised sections. Mix fruit with oil and sugar. Pour out in single layer on tray(s). Bake. When top is browned (about 20 minutes), flip over fruit and stir in juices. Bake another 10-20 minutes until fruit is browned and juices are bubbly and reduced down. Let cool slightly and scrape fruit and juices into bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature as a compote or serve atop cake and or ice cream as a topping.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Kitchen in London

Gary and I are in London for a month enjoying the international restaurants, food,stalls, street markets, and famed eating spots, but what we really like (some of the time) is coming home to our apartment rental and cooking dinner.

The stores and supermarkets here don't have some of the range of produce I'm used to but they have a lot, usually impeccably fresh and beautiful.  The markets are also full of intriguing local and international groceries and the dairy, oh, my goodness, the dairy, it's wonderful.  There is one whole refrigerator filled with varieties of clotted cream, marscopone and creme friache (full or low fat, French or English style).

Pictured above is a whole eggplant (aubergine), cut in half and scooped out.  The eggplant boats (shells) were partially baked then filled with a sautéed mixture of ground beef (mince) and chopped onions, garlic, bell pepper (capsicums) and eggplant innards. The mix was seasoned with cinnamon, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and sautéed in olive oil. The eggplant was baked until the top was browned and the eggplant shells cooked through. It was topped with hummus and chopped cilantro (coriander). I served it with couscous, a vacation standby since it is so versatile and quick cooking and can be made without a pot.

Cooking at a vacation rental can be tricky from lack of ingriendents and or equipment, but I like to treat it as my personal reality show and see how creative I can get with minimal effort. This dinner was a winner on both counts.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SF Chinatown Bakery Sign


Painted on the closed gate of a venerable bakery in San Francisco's Chinatown, this is the first of what I hope will be a series of food-related signage photographs featured on Blog Appetit. These food signs have always fascinated me and I look forward to sharing them and their stories with you.

The Eastern Bakery at 720 Grant Avenue had been a Chinatown institution well before I arrived in the Bay area in 1979.  They are known for their moon cakes, but also, as the gate advises, serve breakfast, lunch and food to go. Try their custard tarts and steamed savory buns, as well.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Savory Bites and California Mandelbrot for Purim

Pepper jelly makes these more of an appetizer than a dessert.
Purim has many food traditions associated with it.  Among them is the custom of giving friends and relatives a gift basket of food known as mishloach manot.  The giver is ensuring the recipient has enough food for a Purim feast.  Another Purim tradition is to donate to the poor, and some have combined the two traditions into food drives and donations to food banks.

The recipes below were designed to be made for a Purim basket, or even just made ahead for a Purim party.  The crispy Lemon-Olive Oil Mandelbrot cookies stand up to a dunking in tea or even a bit of sweet wine. Be sure to label the Spicy Hamantaschen Bites, an appetizer twist on the traditional Purim cookie, so your recipient knows this treat has some heat.

Hamantaschen are said to resemble the evil Haman's hat and are usually filled with jam, prune butter or poppy seeds. Filled or "hidden" foods are also a  Purim tradition since there is so many secrets in the Purim story. For more on the Purim story and a recipe for the sweeter, traditional hamantaschen, see my post here.

California Mandelbrot with Lemon and Olive Oil
Makes about 24

Oil spray
2 eggs
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon oil
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 Tbs. grated, minced lemon zest
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 2/3 cup flour, plus extra
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup blanched, sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use spray to grease two baking sheets.   In a mixer bowl, combine eggs and sugar on high speed until pale yellow and thickened.  Stir in lemon oil, almond extract, lemon zest and olive oil.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the egg and sugar mixture in three batches, making sure each batch is combined before adding the next.  Beat at medium speed until smooth, stir in the almonds (dough will be stiff).  Sprinkle flour on work surface.  Dough will be sticky so oil or wet hands.  Shape dough into two loaves, each about 10” long, 1 ½” wide and 1” tall.  Using spatula if needed, transfer to center of prepared pans.  Pat back into shape.

Bake 25 minutes or until golden and top crust has small cracks.  Let cool slightly.  Transfer loaves to cutting board and cut into 3/4" slices.  Lay slices flat side down on pans, return to hot oven and bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on rack.  Mandelbrot will crisp as it cools.

Spicy Hamantaschen Bites
Makes 22-24

2 cups flour, plus extra
2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 lb. margarine or butter (1 stick), at room temperature and cut in small pieces
2 eggs, beaten
About 1/4 cup strained jalapeño or other pepper jelly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and pepper in large bowl.  With a pastry blender or two forks, cut in margarine until about the size of lentils.  Mix in eggs. Mix until it forms a ball, using hands to knead together if needed. Sprinkle flour on work surface and roll out dough 1/4“ thick.  Cut into circles with a round cookie cutter or small glass about 2 ½” to 2 ¾” in diameter.  Gather scraps and reroll them and cut out additional circles.


Fill the center of each circle with 1/2 tsp. jelly.  (Do not overfill.) Push up 3 sides to form triangles, firmly pinching so the cookies will maintain their shape during baking.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Remove cookies and cool on rack.

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This article first appeared in a slightly different form in the J, the Jewish News of Northern California.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Strawberries Down Under Are Tops -- Cooloolah Berries



There is a little dirt road that goes inland from the Sunshine Coast and it's there you can find your strawberry bliss. Cooloolah Berries is more than a family farm, it is also a mission for better strawberries and and a fulfilling lifestyle in Wolvi (Gympie).

Kim Watson and her husband Jason had been growing berries for commercial sale part time when the price dipped about 60 cents a punnet (basket) less than they cost to grow and harvest. The pair decided to buy their own farm and sell the best berries they could retail grown naturally and not treated with anti-ripening agents. 

And the berries are amazing. We visited the farm towards the very end of the growing season and bought a basket of Albion-variety strawberries. The berries were deep red with little or no white shoulder, a nice texture and deliciously sweet with a hint of acid. They lasted us for three days and we wished we could have had more, but by that time we were far south.

Visit Kim and family (she is also raising a crop of boys) during the Australian spring for berries (including pick your own) or come any time to sample her homemade scones, jams, ice creams and sorbets or other treats.

Sundays they often offer alfresco paella feasts.  We weren't lucky enough to be there for their Sunday cookout, but Kim says her paella is full of chicken and chorizo and Watsons have been known to take their giant paella pans and cooking rings on the road for special events. 

I don't have a new strawberry recipe for you from Kim, but here are a few favorites of mine: ice cream, strudel and soup!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Regards from Down Under -- Food Photos from Australia -- Rain Forest Ice Cream

Guess the flavors of these ice creams from fruits grown in the rain forest
The first in an occasional set of updates from my current adventure. 

Shown are tropical ice creams from fruit grown in the orchards of the Daintree Ice Cream Company, located in the rain forest on Daintree Island, Australia. 

Shown are Davidson's Plum, pink and a bit tart, Brown Sapote, fruity and chocolate-like, and Wattleseed, a bit like tiramisu underneath was coconut

I'll add links later, but wow, some of the best ice cream ever.