Sunday, April 28, 2013

Black and White Wednesday #81 Announcement

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The month of May is nearly here and I have the pleasure of hosting BWW #81 on the first day of the month! I would love to have your  black and white images of culinary nature to show in my gallery on Wednesday. If you are new to this very cool event, below is an excerpt from our lovely and talented admin, Cinzia of CindyStar Blog. Thanks to the also lovely and talented Susan who created this group back in 2011.

"Rules are simple and unchanged:

- Your clicks have to be  anything of a culinary nature or show anything related to food: an ingredient, a kitchentool, something in your kitchen or in a restaurant,  anything about food preparation/presentation/consumption, whatever your eyes can catch as a food speach.
- You can shoot either in b/w mode or in color, then process in b/w. You can use any effect you like but keeping the image in a monochrome/grayscale, with Sepia and Cyanotype tones allowed. No color details allowed.
- Approximate sizes of your pictures shoud be portrait/500 wide & 700 long - landscape/700 wide & 500 long - or 600 square.
- No need of a recipe, nor a story nor a location (but they are welcome if you like), simply a title for the picture is required.
- You have to post your photograph within the Tuesday of the week going on, so the hostess will be ready to blog about the Gallery on Wednesday (but latecomers might be accepted to the hostess' discretion). For those who use Twitter, Susan created a hashtag (#BWFood) to make it easier to find related conversations.
- You have to mention Black and White Wednesday in your post and link to this announcement and to the hostess' blog. Use of the logo is optional.
-  We also have a group on Flickr if you'd like to join and share your pics."

Herb Garden in Pot

Please send an email with your image sized  as stated above along with the link to your post and to this announcement to lynnylu AT gmail DOT com by 8 am Wednesday, May 1, 2013. I will post the gallery later that day. Thanks and looking forward to seeing all your wonderful images!

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Torcettini di St Vincent-We Knead to Bake

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Although these puffy sugar coated yeasted cookies would be delicious with the espresso shown in the photo below, I would love to make them again and serve an Italian dessert wine such as bubbly Asti or a Moscato. In fact, when I go to Italy this summer, I will remember to stop at a cafe and do just that! It is said the cookie origin came about by accident when a grissini baker had some dough left over to which he added butter. Instead of shaping them as long slender sticks, he rolled them in sugar and shaped them in a loop. 
Torcettini was the baking challenge for April in our Facebook group, We Knead to Bake. Aparna, creator and admin of the group chose Torcettini di St. Vincent, a diversion from the yeasted breads we have been making for the last four months. Aparna gives step-by-step instructions with photos along with the recipe on the above link.  The cookies were fun to make, but are best eaten the day they are made as if covered overnight, the cookies soften. I would consider either trying to halve this recipe or invite your friends over for coffee, tea or wine and making a  party of it. To learn more about shaping the torcettini, this video is helpful.Torcettini di St Vincent

Torcettini di St Vincent
Original Recipe from A Baker's Tour

  • 1/2 cup warm water, about 110° F
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 teaspoon instant yeast)
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (if making chocolate torcettini)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lime/lemon zest (replace with orange zest for the chocolate version) I used lemon zest and a few drops of lemon bitters for the white version and 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder for the chocolate version
  • 40 grams unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • about 1/3 cup sugar for rolling the cookies
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside.
  2. Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor (or a large bowl if kneading by hand).Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is well-mixed and the flour-butter mixture looks powdery.
  3. If making the chocolate torcettini, remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and add the cocoa powder. Omit the lemon zest/anise and add the optional 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder with the flour.
  4. Add the yeast-water mixture and pulse until it all comes together as a ball. Do not over process or knead. Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, turning it so it is well-coated with the oil. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise quite a bit. The dough does not really double in volume, but it should look puffy after about an hour or so. When you pinch off a bit from the top you can see the interior looking a bit like honeycomb. Press down the dough and deflate it, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 24.
  5. When read to make the cookies, take the dough out an dlightly roll it out into approximately 6-inch squares. If the dough feels sticky, scatter a little sugar on it. Using a pizza wheel, cut the dough into four strips of equal width. Cut each strip into 6 equal pieces by cutting across, maing a total of 24 equal pieces. It's easier to have 24 equal pieces rather than trying to pinch off bits of dough.
  6. Roll each piece into a pencil thick rope about 5 inches long. Sprinkle a little sugar on your work surface and roll the rope in it so the sugar crusts the dough uniformly. Form the rope into sloop crossing it over before the ends
  7. Place the torcettini on parchment lined baking sheets, leaving 1-1/2 inches between them. Leave them to slightly rise/puff for about 20 minutes.
  8. Bake them at 325°F for about 25 minutes until they are a nice golden brown. Cool completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Plum Berry Cobbler

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If there's one thing I love more than photographing plums, it's finding various ways of preparing this luscious purple stone fruit. Purple often signifies royalty and is the color frequently worn by kings and queens. The plums I bought may be the red amber variety or there could have been a mix of varieties as they were bought in bulk. Not only do we love plums, but fresh berries are always in my refrigerator to top yogurt, ice cream and to use in cobblers as they were in this recipe. The original recipe comes from the 1990 dessert cookbook, The Wooden Spoon Dessert Book. Using plums, but substituting an equal amount of raspberries and blueberries for the peaches, I had a great flavor combo going on. I was pleased with the short crust pie dough that covered the cobbler. Many pie dough recipes use either all butter, a mix of butter and shortening or for a very flaky and crisp pie dough, all shortening. 

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When I make this cobbler again, I will add a dollop of whipped cream,  pour over a creme anglaise or top with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. I think even plain yogurt would be delicious and would cut down on the sweet taste of the cobbler.
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Plum Berry Cobbler
Makes about 8 servings

  • 3 cups pitted, sliced plums
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 recipe pie dough (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon butter for dotting on the cobbler before baking
  • cinnamon sugar, if desired
  1. In a large bowl, combine the plums and berries. In a small bowl mix together the sugar, flour, salt and ground cinnamon. Add to fruit and toss gently. Place in a 2 quart ovenproof casserole.  Set aside. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough to fit the top of the casserole. Cut several vents in the dough. Place over the fruit. Do not seal to the edges of the pan. Bake  for 35-40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling hot and the crust is golden brown.
Short Crust Pie Dough

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) shortening, very cold and cut into pieces
  • 3-4 tablespoon ice cold water
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour and salt. Pulse briefly to combine.  Sprinkle the cold shortening around the flour. Using short pulses, incorporate into the flour. The texture should look like that of coarse cornmeal, but there will be some larger pieces throughout. 
  2. Add a tablespoon of  ice cold water and pulse, then adding more tablespoons of water. Use only enough water to bring the dough together. 
  3. Remove dough from machine. Shape the dough into a ball and flatter slightly. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour, or up 1 day. If very cold, let sit a few minutes before rolling it out. Follow instructions above for rolling out the dough to fit the casserole.

The above black and white image is my contribution to Black and White Wednesday #80, this week hosted by Anusha of Tomato Blues. As most of us who contribute to Black and White Wednesday know the history, for those of you who are reading this for the first time, BWW was created by the very talented food and lifestyle photographer, Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. This very popular blog event is now being managed by also very talented food and lifestyle photographer, Cinzia of  CindyStar Blog .

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Marinated Goat Cheese

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Original Recipe-Saveur
Creamy goat cheese bathed in olive oil and flavored with fresh thyme, bay leaves, garlic and mixed peppercorns turns a crusty piece of country wheat bread into an elegant appetizer perfect with a glass of crisp white wine or a young red wine. This tangy cheese reminds me of cream cheese, has a lower fat content, but still the silky feel of a higher fat soft cheese. Goat cheese has been made for centuries in the Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African countries where goats survive far better than cows in mountainous and harsh terrains. When we think of goat cheese, (or is it goats cheese, goat's cheese or goats' cheese?), we usually think of France, in fact the French word for goat is  Chèvre and has become a generic term for goat cheese.

And it's to France we go on our culinary journey through the European Community Culinary ABC. E is for Escargot and E is also for Elena of Zibaldone Culinario who prepares for us an Escargot Bourguignon and a lovely tour of France with beautiful photos. However, Elena cooks not only the escargot dish, but numerous other French dishes well worth a look. 

Slices of  Crusty Wheat Bread Slathered with Creamy Marinated Goat Cheese
Marinated Goat Cheese Logs

This recipe is so simple, you will wonder why you have never made it before. Not only can you use the marinated goat cheese as a spread for bread, but it can be crumbled over salads, made into a salad dressing, as a pizza topping, or incorporated into a pasta dish.

Marinated Goat Cheese

  • 4-2 ounce fresh goat cheese logs, or 4-ounce logs, cut in half
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tablespoons mixed peppercorns
In a sterilized wide mouth jar, carefully place the goat cheese logs. Add enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the logs completely. Tuck in the bay leaves, bay leaves, fresh thyme and peppercorns. Cover the jar.

Cover and marinate the cheese logs in the refrigerator for 2 days or up to a week. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serves 2-4 generously.

A few summers ago, I had the opportunity to visit Aix-en-Provence and stayed in a lovely French Country private home. Below are some iPhone photos of the house and its environs. While there, we shopped the markets for fresh vegetables, meats and seafood as well as flowers, crafts and other things French. We decided to use train travel as our main means of traveling from one city or village to another. It was a lovely experience that I would love to do again.

Holiday House in Aix-en-Provence

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Easy Radish and Cilantro Salad with Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

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Until I joined my local CSA, I never knew how flavorful, crisp, just out of the ground radishes tasted. When I was growing up, there was never much of a Spring garden opting for the warm weather vegetables like tomatoes, corn, okra, green beans and watermelons. Just recently in my basket of lettuces and various greens, Scarlet red turnips  and carrots was a bunch of Easter egg radishes and cilantro. Such beauties with varying colors of red, light purple and white, just like a basket of Easter eggs! A simple salad of radishes and cilantro with a favorite lemon mustard vinaigrette came to mind.  

I rarely buy prepared salad dressings as it's so easy to whip up one and I usually have lemons, extra virgin olive oil and Dijon mustard on hand. Seasoning the vinaigrette with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper completes the dressing, but sometimes I'll add a minced garlic clove and or honey for variety. However, I didn't think these radishes needed the garlic, but the honey would add a little sweet touch to the vinaigrette.

The name radish comes from the Latin word for "root" belonging to the mustard family as does horseradish, a spicy cousin of the radish. Radishes can be many colors inside and out-reds, pinks, whites and even black. Shapes and sizes vary with the radish-some are small and elongated or round and fat or huge like the Daikon radish. Radishes should be bought with their green tops and roots still attached. The greens are edible and can be part of a Spring mix of salad greens. Radishes are best eaten raw, but I have seen some recipes for cooked ones. 

Radish and Cilantro Salad with Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

For the Salad
Serves 2

  • 1 bunch fresh radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
  • Optional-thinly sliced scallions
  1. Gently toss the sliced radishes and cilantro leaves together. Place in salad bowl. Toss with 1-2 tablespoons Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe below). Serve immediately.
For the Dressing
Makes 3/4 cup
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon country style mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional- 1 teaspoon honey, 1 small clove garlic, minced
  1. Combine lemon juice and mustard. Add olive oil in a slow stream, whisking to emulsify. Add salt and pepper. Stir again before using. Keeps about 1 week in refrigerator. Shake or stir before using.
The black and white image above is my contribution to BWW #78 created by Susan of  The Well-Seasoned Cook  and now managed by Cinzia who blogs at Cindystar.

Sharing also with WHB#379, hosted by Cristina of La Cucina di Cristina. Weekend Herb Blogging is managed by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything Once and whose blog you can find out all the details on submitting and hosting.

Please do not use images or text without my permission.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Vanlla Ice Cream Topped with Mixed Berries in Red Wine Syrup

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A dessert that comes together quickly and will awe your dinner guests. A bottle of fruity red wine, some sugar, the mixture reduced by half, then flavored with vanilla bean paste makes a perfect heady syrup to which is added loads of blueberries and raspberries. The ruby red syrup and berries drizzled over vanilla ice cream has been one of my dessert favorites for a long time so I wanted to share it with you.

Mixed Berries in Red Wine Syrup
  • 1 bottle (750ml) fruity red wine
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) fresh raspberries, rinsed and drained
  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, combine wine and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Increase heat to medium-high. Bring syrup to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 15 minutes, taking care that it doesn't boil over. Remove from heat and add vanilla bean paste. Let cool.
  2. Place the blueberries and raspberries in a bowl. Pour the red wine syrup over the berries. Refrigerate covered tightly at least two hours. Serve over vanilla ice cream or ice cream of choice.

That's it! So Easy

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