Andalusian Gazpacho

I made several trips to Spain the year I was an au pair in Germany. I had a good friend from college au pairing in Madrid and a couple of other friends teaching English in southern Spain, oh and there was a hen weekend to Barcelona in there too! One of the trips I did started in Malaga, and wound up through Andalusia stopping in Granada, and smaller towns like Cabra and Antequera, making my way up to Madrid.

Among the many memorable things from the trip is a meal that my friend (who I was visiting) and I had in Antequera, a meal prepared for us by and in the home of the director of the school my friend worked for, a meal I’ll never forget. She so easily whipped up a shockingly simple and delicious lunch including an amazing gazpacho simply of tomato and bread, and she delivered some of the best fried artichokes I’ve had. I have remembered it all this time and it’s funny to go back to my blog from that year and see how the soup they made is exactly what I saw in this month’s Spain issue of Food & Wine magazine.

From Adventures in Deutschland: “they made us this amazing Andalusian soup thing for lunch. It is raw tomatoes blended with some garlic, pepper, olive oil, vinegar and bread. It is eaten kind of like soup, and you dip a lot of bread in it as well…”

From Food & Wine: “Salmorejo is a classic soup made primarily with tomatoes and bread. It’s best with a splash of sherry vinegar, but Andalusian tomatoes pack a good hit of acidity, so they often omit it in Spain.”

Yum Yum.

Obviously after all the Spanish inspiration in the September issue, I now want to have a Spanish dinner party, but for now I’ve started with this soup as a way of using my pounds of tomatoes that just keep coming. It’s refreshing and spicy with the raw garlic, and so so smooth, this ‘soup’ is hard not to love. I topped it with a corn & poblano salad/salsa and a poached egg, which was delicious. I loved the contrast that the texture of the raw veggies provided against the creaminess of the soup. I made it in the morning and let chill to have the whole thing for lunch. It took me right back to Spain and got me so excited about traveling, trying new foods and the endless tomato possibilities that await.

 

Salmorejo (Andalusian Gazpacho), serves two (originally from Food & Wine) Continue reading

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Garlic Scape and Mustard Green Chimichurri

When I was in San Francisco I participated in a CSA box, which I quite enjoyed. It helped me stay seasonally relevant in my cooking and explore some new and different items that I wouldn’t have necessarily picked up on my own in the grocery store.

I’ve struggled to find similar programs with quality contributions in Colorado (though to be fair, I haven’t searched far and wide), but I finally did come across an organization I enjoy that supplies a weekly food box!

The GrowHaus is located in North Denver and supports the one of the most polluted communities in the city with fresh food options. They grow their own aquaponic and hydroponic lettuces on site, and have a fresh food market where one can shop for needed ingredients. They vary prices based on income and are bringing so much to the community with the access to resources and local events. I even bought most of my starter plants there this year – tomatoes, kale, peppers and herbs!

About 1/3-1/2 of my box ingredients are locally sourced or made including 6 eggs each week, a loaf of bread or bag of corn tortillas, and of course, lettuces grown right at the GrowHaus. A few weeks ago the box included garlic scapes, which I had never cooked with and mustard greens, also a new ingredient. If there are more exotic contents they usually provide a recipe, and this one was for garlic scape and mustard green chimichurri.

It turned out SO good! The garlic scapes pack a garlicy punch, and the mustard greens are just slightly bitter while the herbs brighten the whole thing up. They suggested just using only cilantro, but I hate cilantro and decided to just use an assortment of herbs from my garden, which tasted great too. I ultimately served if over salmon, though it would be great with chicken, steak, or maybe mixed in with some potatoes to make a light potato salad. Definitely a great combo to use as a base for so many things!

Click here for more information on how to get your own GrowHaus food box!

Garlic Scape and Mustard Green Chimichurri Continue reading

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Ever since living in Germany and befriending a few Swedes who showed me the value of celebrating midsommer, I’ve tried to celebrate or have a party to mark some of the longest days of the year. This year, the event was a Tiki Party! I mainly decided on this months ago because I found this super cute dress on etsy, and after thinking through all potential, I decided it was a go.

Once I was set on this theme, I got excited about the mai thai’s and kitchy tropical foods that would help set the scene. I bought some tiki torches, tons of rum and landed on tropical chicken skewers, coconut ice cream and pineapple upside-down cake for the snacks.

I have been saving this recipe for over 10 years! A friend made it around the time we graduated from college, and when I was having a hard time finding a recipe online that really struck me, I went back through the depths of my email to find the recipe she’d sent me.

The cornmeal and almond extract really set this apart for me. I LOVE almond extract and the cornmeal adds great texture and a little density that makes this not your every day cake. The fruit and caramel are sweet, but the cake batter itself isn’t over the top, so it ends up being a nice balance. Seeing as that I don’t think you can say pineapple upside-down cake without thinking of kitchy 1950’s I didn’t want to stray from tradition and went circular pan, maraschino cherries and all.

It helped set the perfect scene for the part and cake was definitely the star food served (along with the ice cream, which I’ll share at some point too!).


PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE Continue reading

Apple Cream Torte

I’ve subscribed to magazines for years now. It all started with Bon Appetit (which started my original blog) and while I was a faithful reader for many years, I’ve now switched over to Food & Wine to mix it up. I’ve also gotten Sunset for a while and throw in 5280 (formerly a 7×7 in San Francisco), The Sunday New York Times and my book of the moment and I am at no shortage for reading material. After so many years I’ve gotten pretty good about tearing out or taking photos of material I want to remember, so I don’t have to keep the entire publication – but that just means instead of having a pile of magazines in my house, I have a pile of torn out pages.

Every now and then I go through and weed out the recipes that no longer look interesting, or that I’ll never really make, but rarely do I actually choose one to take action against. This weekend I was ruthless in tossing out these pages AND I managed to actually make one of the recipes!

I have many times written about how I love fruit cakes. The really simple kind where there is fruit, batter and maybe just a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top when it’s done. I love the simplicity and not overly sweet flavor. So obviously this cake caught my eye. I had a slew of apples that were past my prime for eating raw, and figured all things were adding up to me finally trying this torte.

It was great! Just what I like. Not too sweet, a tiny bit of savoriness coming through with the apple and some variety in texture as well. The apples sink to the bottom and the cream batter (there is no butter!) creates this custard-y layer at the bottom. The recipe also starts with whipping the eggs and sugar, which give a slightly crunchy, meringue-like crust on the top.

It was a huge hit with my friends and colleagues and would be a great brunch addition or a just because cake. Isn’t it time you made a cake just because?

Apple Cream Torte – from Sunset September 2016 Continue reading

Project: Persian New Year

I love a good project. Whether it’s for the house, crafting or making the yard new again, I just can’t seem to get enough. I love the sense of making and creating and with my continual effort to do something new, cooking has long fulfilled all of these desires. I have tried so many things, and yet there is still more to be attempted and more to be perfected.

Enter, Project: Persian New Year Dinner Party.

Back in college a friend hosted a group of us on Spring Break at her parents’ house in Santa Monica and I’ll never forget having Persian rice for the first time. The crispy bottom a delicacy adding texture and extra flavor to the rice, and the rest of the rice steamed to perfection. I don’t remember much about other dishes, but in general I do love middle eastern/Afghan/Indian food, so when I read the extensive article in Food & Wine about the ultimate Persian New Year feast I was intrigued. I happened to mention to a friend about the article to which she replied that she could actually make most of the dishes (having learned from her mom and aunt) and before we knew it a dinner party was born.

I hosted at my house and filled my dining table to the max. Jenny did an AWESOME job with the stews and rice, while I managed desserts recipes straight from the inspirational article and a delightful cocktail inspired by the holiday. I had an absolute blast at the international market she suggested – in Denver these places are not as easily accessible as in San Francisco, but they do exist! I loaded up on rosewater, flat breads, Persian cucumbers and so much more. It was also a blast from the past seeing so many products/brands I was familiar with from Germany, making me oh so nostalgic.

All of the dishes came out just wonderfully and were a smashing success with everyone. All five guests loved the food and lingered late into the evening – you know people are having a good time when there is an empty bottle of wine for each attendee! Jenny explained that Persian New Year is in the Spring, aligning with the fresh start of nature outside. It starts on a specific day, but the celebration lasts for about two weeks as it’s a time to spend with family and friends, popping by each other’s houses to collectively enjoy what life has to offer, and of course, indulging and eating way too much. The dinner party felt just that: a little celebration of the life I’ve started to build here in Denver, appreciating good friends with good food and new endeavors.

leftover wraps for lunch the next few days

The recipes we made are below, which are only a small sampling of the traditional dishes for the holiday. The Food & Wine link below has quite the variety and a Google Search will yield even more! The first three are recipes that have been passed down so they are a little less precise – go with your gut on quantities, stew consistencies and adjustments for flavor. Continue reading

Video: Shrimp Tacos + Cardamom Margaritas

Sometimes dreams come true. Craftsy has started an employee appreciation effort where they try to make random dreams come true. Someone had a dream to ride the zamboni at an Avalanche game, someone else a dream to learn to breakdance, and I had a dream to make my own cooking show episode. Obviously Craftsy has the production resources to make this happen, and I’m so grateful that they decided to spend those resources on me!

It was awesome. I got to see all the ins and outs of what goes into doing a cooking lesson on camera. Balancing looking at the camera and cooking, coming up with the right things to say (I winged it!), taking the right pauses before making no go back moves, only to mention a few – it was just so cool to be a part of.

While it’s definitely not perfect, I like to think it’s still pretty good for a first timer and that all these years of watching cooking shows finally came to some good use! So without further ado, my first cooking video… Shrimp Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa and Cardamom Margaritas!

And some stills of behind the scenes and the set:IMG_0529IMG_0479

Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Mango Salsa

Shrimp

  • 1 lb peeled devained shrimp
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Lowrey’s seasoning salt, or salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • ground pepper to taste
  • pinch cayenne pepper, to taste

Salsa

  • 1 large mango
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 taco sized corn tortillas (corn/flour mix with jalapeños, if you can find them)

Directions:

Mix shrimp with garlic and spices, making sure all shrimp are covered. Set aside to marinate while you make the salsa.

Salsa: Peel mango, remove fruit from the pith and chop it into 1/4 in.-1/2 in. pieces. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, score the fruit into 1/4 in.-1/2 in. pieces in the skin, then remove the fruit with a spoon. Mix the mango, avocado, jalapeño, onion and lime juice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside salsa and cook shrimp.

Heat a couple of teaspoons of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When hot, lay the shrimp in the pan in one layer. Cook on one side for about 2-3 min until opaque half way through, curled and pink. Flip shrimp until just cooked through, about another 2-3 min.

If you have a gas stove, heat the tortillas over a flame, using tongs to continually rotate the tortilla. Heat on both sides. Another option is to head in the bottom of a dry pan until browned and heated through.

Cardamom Margaritas (makes two large margaritas)

  • 3/4 cup tequilla
  • 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cardamom simple syrup, recipe below

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to cool ingredients. Distribute between two glasses with ice.

Cadamom simple syrup

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp cardamom pods, lightly crushed

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissove sugar and continue to heat until simmering. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove cardamom pods and seeds.

Grapefruit Cake & A Trip to Boonville

One of the many things that I love about the bay area is that it doesn’t snow. Don’t get me wrong, there is something magical about a white winter BUT the realities of living in it are something else. I’ve never had to actually endure weeks on end of life in snow, but from the short while that we had snow on the ground in Germany, I can tell you it is a nuisance. Also, when it gets unbearably cold and wet outside, the chances of being able to camp in October go down dramatically.

So yes, I went camping in October. It was absolutely wonderful. Cold at night, gorgeous during the day, and just the right time of year to get some fall colors. We were outside of Boonville, which is a couple of hours north of SF, and home to many a winery, apple orchards and the Anderson Valley Brewing company. We hiked during the day, beer tasted by afternoon, and campfired by night. The perfect weekend. Boonville is a cute little stretch of HWY 128 that is home to just as equally cute antique shops and cafes. In one of these stores, I spotted the most adorable Wedgwood china dessert plates, that I just had to have… turning what was supposed to be a nice cheap weekend, into a spendy vacation. But they are SO cute!

So obviously when I made grapefruit pound cake to have at dinner a few weeks later, I had to display it on these super cute plates. This cake is really tasty. It’s a Thomas Keller recipe, of which I was a little weary after I made a soup from Ad Hoc at Home and it had me using every pot, pan and dish in my kitchen. However, this recipe is MUCH simpler and to my surprised, used very normal ingredients and processes to yield a wonderfully moist pound cake. I’m sure it would have been amazing straight out of the oven, but then you let a grapefruit syrup soak in and top with glaze that is not only visually stunning but also really flavorful. It was a huge win with my friends and with the pinkness of the grapefruits right now, you’d be silly not to try it.

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Grapefruit Cake from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

Cake:

  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tbsp grated pink grapefruit zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Grapefruit Syrup

  • 1 cup strained fresh pink grapefruit juice
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

Grapefruit Icing

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh pink grapefruit juice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 10×4 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment combine the eggs and sugar. Beat at medium speed for a bout 3 min until mixture is thickened and the whisk leaves a trail. Beat in the milk, then oil, grapefruit zest and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate, scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Spread the batter in the pan. Lightly oil a paring knife and run the knife lengthwise down the center of the batter, about 1/2 in deep. It will make the cake rise more evenly and not puff up in the middle.

Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake or 30 min. Turn the baking sheet and bake for another 30 min, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it. Trnasfer pan to cooling rack.

Meanwhile combine the 1 cup of grapefruit juice and granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stir to dissolve sugar and simmer for 1 min.

As soon as you have removed the cake from the oven, poke deep holes every 3/4 inch or so, with a long skewer. Immediately begin brushing the syrup over the cake. You may have to wait for the syrup to soak in, but continue until you’ve used all the syrup. Let the cake cool about 10 min.

Unmold onto a cooking rack and turn up right. Let come to room temperature. Stir the powdered sugar with the 1 tbsp + 1 tsp grapefruit juice, until smooth. Then drizzle the icing over the cooled cake. Slice and serve.

Serves 8-10 and will keep well for about 2 days, loosely covered at room temperature.