Thursday, July 25, 2013

Road Trip? It's Time for Ice Cream!

Every family has road trip traditions, right? Ours - finding fun ice cream shoppes along the way. No matter what the season. Here we are, in Sausalito, a couple of years ago. It was Spring Break. It was cold. But that didn't stop us from getting some scoops and enjoying the view of The City!



Ice cream has come a long way since I was a kid. I remember going to Thrifty's when scoops were fifteen cents. Yes, I'm that old! And the flavors from which you could choose were basic: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mint chip, and bubblegum. There may have been a few more flavors - butter pecan comes to mind - but not too many. Combinations were had by getting more than one scoop with whatever flavors you wanted to combine. And the ice cream tower teetered precariously on your cone while you ran your tongue from one flavor to the next.  Gone are those days.

Ice cream flavors now are dictated by what's in season and bound only by the creativity of the ice cream maker. Think stawberry-pink peppercorn, wild fennel, roasted barley, and olive oil chocolate sea salt. As far as my boys are concerned, the funkier the flavor, the better. Once I picked up ice cream scoops while the boys were napping in the car. Dylan looked at what I had chosen for him and, with disappointment oozing from his eyes, lamented, "Mommy, I like the creative flavors better." I had gotten him burnt caramel.

Perennial favorites...and definitely our top two picks in the Central California area...

If you're in the East Bay, don't miss Ici in the Elmwood District. Click to read I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream...for Ici. That's a strawberry-pink peppercorn and candied blood orange in the photo.


Or, if you're in Santa Cruz, checking out Penny Ice Creamery is a must. They now have two locations. Click to read Penny Ice Creamery LOVE. That was the pluot sorbet I had the last time we were there.


So, for an upcoming road trip, I've scoped out four new-to-us ice cream stops. I am not ashamed to say: I picked some stops along the way simply because they had an interesting ice cream shoppe. I think I need a bumper sticker: I brake for cheese and ice cream!

What are your road trip-foodie traditions?!?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Aunt Tiffy's Sugar Cookies

NOTE: This is NOT my recipe. This was given to me, by my cousin Tiffany, cookie-maker extraordinaire.

We had gone to a baby shower for my cousin M - Tiffany's sister -  this past weekend and the favors were these cute-as-a-button sugar cookies. There are tons of sugar cookies that are pretty but taste like, well, cardboard. 

As the boys munched on these, they insisted that we send Tiff an email and get her recipe because - and I quote - "these are the BEST sugar cookies we've ever had." So, I emailed. And she shared.

Aunt Tiffy's Sugar Cookies
- 2 3/4 C flour
- 1 t baking powder
- 1 t salt
- 3/4 C butter, softened
- 1 C sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 t vanilla extract

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside in a bowl.  Beat butter and sugar until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix.  Gradually add flour mixture.  Mix completely.  Chill dough for about 2 hours.  (You can keep the dough in the fridge for about a week, or freeze for longer.  I usually wrap it with plastic wrap and put them in a Ziplock.)  Roll and shape, using flour to prevent sticking.  Place on greased baking sheet.  Bake at 400F for 9-11 minutes (depends on size of cookies).

Royal Icing
- 3 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 4 tbsp meringue powder
- gel food coloring (I use Wilton, but Jennifer suggested Americolor)
- add water to desired consistency (I used about 3/4 cup of water)  Add water a little at a time, because it's easy to add water to thick icing, but difficult to add more powdered sugar to watery icing.

Very important - Lessons Learned..."I learned not to add too much gel coloring, as it may change the texture of the icing.  It was easy for the baby shower, because the light pastel color requires only a few drops of coloring and is very "baby" but if you want a dark color, like black, I read that people recommend using powder for coloring.  Also, do not mix it to fast, as that will cause small bubbles to form, which you'll have to pop after spreading, otherwise the bubbles will leave gaps in your hardened icing.  Also, toothpicks are recommended to spread the icing.  Mom and I found that popsicle sticks work better for spreading, toothpicks work great if you're making patterns." 

And she recommended this site for tips and techniques. Thanks, Tiff! We'll give these a shot one of these days. Dylan would not relinquish the box of cookies. See!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Zucchini Pizza, Take Two


After I brought out my Lemon Zucchini Chevre Pizza - and after the boys each ate a slice - Riley, very politely, asked if I had any more dough and could I make a version without the chevre. I knew it wasn't a mini-boy favorite when I made it, but went with it anyway.

So, I asked what kind of cheese he would like me to use and he walked over to the fridge: Can you use this shaved parmesan and romano instead? I like everything else.

"Can you skip the black pepper, too?" piped up the littlest Mann.

Fine. More leftover chevre for my lunch and Daddy's lunch tomorrow. Here's take two of the zucchini pizza tonight. It's a good thing this dough is fast.

Quick and Easy Pizza Dough
1 T active dry yeast
1 T organic granulated sugar
1 C warm water
3 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C ground almonds
2 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let bloom until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour, ground almonds, and oil. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Press dough - with floured fingers - onto baking stone. 

Toppings
1 organic Meyer lemon
4 oz goat cheese, at room temperature
3 handfuls of shaved parmesan and romano cheese
handful of fresh cilantro, thinly sliced
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
drizzle of olive oil
2 yellow zucchini, thinly sliced

Juice and zest lemon. Spread 2 handfuls of the cheese and cilantro over the pizza dough. Layer the zucchini and sprinkle with more cheese and a generous amount of freshly sea salt. Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before serving. Top with more cheese, if you have any, drizzle with a bit more olive oil, the lemon juice, and the zest.

The boys were thrilled!

Zucchini-Lemon-Chevre Pizza


I was inspired by this post at Cupcake Muffin: Zucchini-Lemon-Goat Cheese Pizza. It made me miss the fresh, seasonal pies at The Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley and when I saw that my CSA box, from Fogline Farm, had zucchini today, I knew what I was making for dinner. Here's my version. Thanks for the inspiration, Sara!

Quick and Easy Pizza Dough
1 T active dry yeast
1 T organic granulated sugar
1 C warm water
3 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C ground almonds
2 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let bloom until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour, ground almonds, and oil. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Press dough - with floured fingers - onto baking stone. 

Toppings
2 organic Meyer lemon
4 oz goat cheese, at room temperature
handful of fresh cilantro, thinly sliced
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
drizzle of olive oil
2 yellow zucchini, thinly sliced

Juice and zest one lemon.  Add it to the goat cheese and mix to combine.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and spread over the pizza dough. Sprinkle with the cilantro.


Layer the zucchini over the goat cheese and cilantro. Sprinkle with a generous amount of freshly grated black pepper and sea salt.


Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Juice and zest the other lemon while it bakes. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil, the remaining lemon juice, and the zest.

*Update 8/9/2013: Linked to today's Friday Food Frenzy.*

Cooking Around the World: The Netherlands

As we have already cooked a Dutch dinner, I'm simply reposting those recipes and counting it as our tabletop travel to the Netherlands during this Cooking Around the World Adventure.

Quick background: I lived in Holland for three years as a kid. I went to pre-school and kindergarten there. I spoke Dutch fluently; well, fluently for a five or six-year-old. And I thought that I really was Dutch. I lamented my black hair, brown eyes, and weird name; I wanted to look like my friends. I swore to my mom that when I turned eighteen I was going to dye my hair and legally change my name to a Dutch name. Thankfully, that was a fleeting fancy. I am very happy with my dark looks and unusual name now.

But I still have my klompens and I still put carrots and celery in them for Sinter Klaas on Christmas Eve. And I still love, love, love, love, love my tulips. So, despite realizing that I am not Dutch, Dutch traditions still hold a dear place in my heart.


For dinner... Vooriaarsgroentesoep, vegetable soup, that is seasoned with nutmeg and thickened with cream. Traditionally it's made with veal meatballs, but veal is one of the few things that I don't eat. I was thrilled to put my CSA goodies into this soup: carrots, leeks, chard with some beef broth, nutmeg, and heavy cream. Yum!

Vooriaarsgroentesoep

Kruidnoten
Yes, this translates to 'ginger nuts.' Love it!
Click here for the recipe.

For the adults...
Advocaat
Proost!
Click here for the recipe.

Another Dutch favorite of ours: Pannekoeken. Click to read about me (re)discovering that delicious breakfast treat.

Well, this Global Table Ambassador is signing off for now. We're headed to New Zealand next.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cooking Around the World: Nepal


Our Cooking Around the World Adventure has brought us to Nepal. Dylan and I - a couple of years back - went to a Nepalese restaurant when we took Pia there during her Eat-Your-Way-Around-Berkeley Birthday weekend. The food was delicious.




Country: Nepal

Fun Facts:
Nepal’s local name for Mt. Everest is Sagarmatha, or “goddess of the sky.”

The flag of Nepal is the only national flag that is not quadrilateral in shape. [See right.]

Eight of the world’s highest peaks can be found in Nepal.

Touching anything with your feet is considered offensive in Nepal.

The abominable snowman, also known as the yeti, is a legendary apelike creature that is believed to frequent the high valleys of Nepal.

Greetings in Nepal are similar to the greetings in India– people put their palms together and then bow their forehead, saying “Namaste,” which directly translates to “I salute the God in you.”

Here's what we made...

Momo
Click for the original recipe post.

Dal Bhat
Click for the original recipe post.

The Netherlands is next on our list. This Global Table Ambassador is signing off for now.

Dal Bhat {Nepalese Lentil Curry}


Another of the Nepalese dishes we tried at the Taste of the Himalayas was a must: dal bhat, Nepalese lentil curry. Yum!

1-1/2 C red lentils, washed and drained
3 C organic chicken stock, or water
1/2 t turmeric
dash of ground coriander
dash of ground cumin
dash of ground cloves
dash of ground cinnamon
dash of ground cardamom
freshly ground pepper
freshly ground salt
1 T mustard
1/2 onion, diced
rice to serve

In a large souppot, cook the onions in a splash of oil until they are softened and translucent. Add the lentils and stir in the spices, except the salt and pepper. Add the mustard and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft and beginning to fall apart - approximately 30 minutes. Season to taste and serve with cooked rice.

Momo {Nepalese Meat Dumpling}



These [right] were the momo that Dylan, Pia, and I had in Berkeley a few years back. They were delicious and I knew that when we reached Nepal in our tabletop travels we were going to (attempt to) make them. Here we go! I put both kitchen elves to work tonight...

Dough
2-1/2 C all-purpose white whole wheat flour (I think next time, I'll go with all-purpose flour, but white whole wheat was all I had tonight)
2 T oil
water, as needed (I think I ended up using about 1 C)
freshly ground sea salt

In a large bowl combine flour, oil, salt and water. Mix well until the dough comes together. Knead until the dough is elastic. If too dry, add more water. If too wet, add more flour. Cover and let for 30 minutes. In the meantime, make the filling...



Filling
1 lb ground turkey (from what I read, they make this out of yak, traditionally. I had turkey in the fridge)
1/2 C minced onion
2 T crushed garlic
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 T curry powder
dash of nutmeg
dash of ground coriander
dash of ground cardamom
dash of ground turmeric
1 t ground paprika
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Roll the dough as thin as you can and still handle it without tearing. Cut 3" circles out of the dough and place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the middle.

Pull the side of the circle up and pinch and twist, making pleats to completely enclose the meat filling. Place the dumplings on an oiled plate or steamer rack.


If you have a steamer, oil the rack and place the dumplings on that. If you don't have steamer, here's how I improvised. I placed a bowl upside-down in a large pot and placed a plate of top of the bowl. Make sure that everything sits flat and the lid to the pot fits snugly.

Bring the water in the pot to a boil, place the plate with the dumpling on the upside-down bowl. Cover with the lid and allow to steam until the dumplings are cooked through, about 10-15 min. Take the dumplings off the steamer, and immediately serve. Traditionally these are served with a tomato chutney.


Taking the Lunchbox War Head-On {Call for Recipes}

The reality is setting in: summer is almost over. And I am steeling myself to the advent of the Lunchbox Wars, year seven. Seriously. My mini-foodies don't like to stand-out in the lunchroom. Their adventurous palates are reserved for our house for some reason.

Here's a poem that a friend wrote about me - just in case you had any doubt that I am a kitchen witch...

There once was a really mean mother
Who was evil to two little brothers
"Nothing deep-fried!"
She yelled as they tried
To eat food just like the others.

So, I'm asking for your recipes and hope that this little exchange helps inspire you as well. We can all use new, kid-approved lunches, right?!?

Lunchbox Wars with My Closet Foodies

What!? Summer's almost over!!!? Say it isn't so.

School is back in session in a couple of weeks which means a few things for us: (1) less time during the week for tabletop travel, though I do promise at least two or three meals from our Cooking Around the World Adventure; and (2) the advent of the Lunchbox Wars, year seven.

My boys are not picky eaters. They eat escargot for goodness sake. They pluck lettuce from the ground and shove it in their mouths. They love kale. But, for some bizarre reason, they don't want to eat like that at school. They are closet-foodies.

And each and every year we fight about what goes into their lunchboxes. My all-time favorite comment, from Riley, was during 1st grade: "Mom, can you please pack the pad thai and take it to Nonna's so I can eat it after school? I really want to eat it. But I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at school...just like the other kids." Really?!? What's wrong with pad thai?

So sandwiches were on the kid-approved list. I am not a sandwich kinda gal. No matter how exciting the filling is, I would just rather eat anything but.

Two years ago some kid's comment about Dylan's curried egg salad sandwich brought tears to his eyes; Riley wailed about someone making fun of his tuna sandwich...even though he "told them it was dolphin-safe!"  So, now sandwiches are not high on the list.

But wraps...last year they tried wraps - tortilla wraps, lettuce wraps...wraps are still kid-approved. Any other healthy suggestions? I'm all ears.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tomato-Peach Cobbler {Recipe Testing}


As part of the Food52 community, I occasionally volunteer to test a recipe and submit some headnotes. This weekend, I signed up to try In My Kitchen's Sweet Tomato and Peach Cobbler. And we were invited to a barbeque at our friends' house, so I thought it the perfect addition to the potluck.

Sweet, vine-ripened tomatoes and succulent stone fruit are the embodiment of summer. But in the end, the verdict was a resounding THUMBS DOWN from everyone who tried it. I will say that I have never brought a dessert to a party and had more than half of it leftover. So that is saying something.

People liked the peach and loved the cobbler topping; the tomatoes just didn't fit. I had to agree: the idea of the dessert was fantastic. The actual dessert was not a hit so I am opting not to post the recipe here. You can click here to try the original recipe for yourself.

*Update 7/23/2013: I emailed the Food52 editors in a quandry - the dish wasn't a hit, do you want my headnote anyway? They did. So, I wrote and submitted this...

While luscious tomatoes and succulent stone fruits scream ‘summer!’, this seasonal cobbler paired them to disastrous results. The tangy buttermilk topping is one I will certainly use again as it was tasty with a pleasing crumb. But the combination of tomato and peach was a miss with everyone who tried it. I brought this dessert to a summer barbeque – with well over 30 people in attendance – and I came home with half a pan full of cobbler. That never happens. It’s too bad, too, because I wanted to love this dish.

Skinning Tomatoes Easily {How To}

Have you ever read in a recipe that requires 'skinned tomatoes' and thought that it would be easier to deseed strawberries?!? Well, it's a piece of cake if you do these two easy steps first!

Step One: Bring water to a boil, turn off the heat, and submerge your tomatoes - whole - into the water. Let sit for two minutes.


Step Two: Quickly plunge the tomatoes into ice water. They can sit in there for as long as you like.


Step Three: Peel 'em! Now you can score the skin and easily peel the skin off! Piece of cake.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Sensational Summer Squash Linky {Round-Up}


Squash
Noun
1. A state of being squeezed or forced into a small or restricted space: "it was a tight squash but he didn't seem to mind".
2. An edible gourd, the flesh of which may be cooked and eaten as a vegetable. 

We're talking about the latter. I put out a call for recipes - anything and everything that uses summer squash. Check out what the bloggers brought to the party.

Savories

Sweets

Shout-outs
Thanks to all who joined the fun and games. I haven't decided what we're rounding up for next month, but stay tuned. In the meantime, click over and check out the bloggers who contributed to this linky party. Thanks, gals. I now know what to do with the plethora of squash I have.

Tara of Noshing with the Nolands
Paula of Call Me PMC
Laura of Small Wallet Big Appetite
Sara of Cupcake Muffin
Rebekah of Making Miracles
Heather of Join Us, Pull Up a Chair
Erin of Making Memories with Your Kids
Dixya of Food, Pleasure Health
BCMom's Kitchen
JJ of 84th and 3rd
Christine of Christine's Kitchen Chronicles
LeAndra of Love & Flour
On the Move, In the Galley
Angela of Spinach Tiger
Suzanne of kokocooks

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cooking Around the World: Nauru


We're into the Ns in our Cooking Around the World Adventure. Next up: Nauru. It's the world's smallest independent republic and is one fascinating country in as much as I can hardly find any information about it. Granted, it's less than 15 square miles, but it is populated and they have to eat something, right?!? I found references to white rice and SPAM. Ugh. Sorry, that's not going to happen during this tabletop trip or any other!

Another mystery: the exact origins of the Nauruans are unclear since their language does not resemble any other in the Pacific.

A German-British consortium began mining the island's phosphate deposits early in the 20th century. And phosphate mining devastated the island environmentally. So, virtually all of their food is imported, including fish caught by nearby Kiribati fishermen. In pre-mining times, Nauru had plenty of pandanus and fish, and they ate those with coconut meat.

White rice is a staple, and fish with rice is their ideal meal. There are no local fruits or vegetables; all of those consumed are brought in in cans. Wow. This diet is said to contribute to a high rate of obesity and diabetes. Still, white rice and fish was more appealing to me than white rice and SPAM. So, we traveled back in time to pre-mining Nauru for this dinner...



Coconut-Crusted Fish
fish filets enough for your diners
1 egg
2 T coconut milk
1/4 C ground almonds
1/2 C shredded, dried coconut
pat of butter
1 T coconut oil
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Heat the coconut oil and butter in a large, flat-bottom pan, one large enough to hold your filets. Beat egg with coconut milk, salt and pepper, then dip your filets into the egg mixture. Mix the almonds and dried coconut on a plate. Press the egg-dipped fish into the coconut and place in the oil-butter mixture. Cook until the fish is firm and flakes beneath your fork easily. Serve with Coconut White Rice - rice steamed with both water and coconut milk.

Iced Coffee
I did find a piece by Global Table Adventure about Nauruan Iced Coffee. Click to read: here. Just imagine cold-brewed coffee with milk in as much sugar as you can stand...and it's served in whatever plastic container you can find.

I didn't have any plastic containers, so I served the iced coffee in my LOST pint glasses...with lots of sugar and lots of milk.


Nepal is next on our list. This Global Table Ambassador is signing off for now.

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