I ate my fair share of Butter Brickle ice cream as a child, and when I found myself craving it a few weeks ago, instead of running out to buy a carton, I decided to experiment “Nice Cream” style (AKA with bananas and almond milk!). I had a big jar of local honey on the shelf that was begging to be used, so I worked with that for the Brickle portion, as opposed to making a traditional toffee. If you have ever had old-fashioned sea glass candy, the result was something similar; crackly, sticky, and sweet, but not overly so. I broke that into pieces and blended it into my creamy concoction. A lot of vanilla, plus a pinch of cinnamon and turmeric rounded it out nicely. I am going to venture to say that it turned out even better than the real thing!
There is a restaurant near my hometown that dishes up platters of deep fried artichokes bathed in a rich lemon and wine sauce. Fresh out of the frier, they “pop” when you bite into them, and get a mouthful of the crunchy breading, buttery artichoke, and tart citrus accompaniment. And while extremely delicious – and highly addictive – a serving of them will leave you feeling full in more ways than one!
This is my baked, slightly lightened up, alternative. There’s still some butter involved to get that deep golden color, and for the flavor of course. I added chives to the sauce for a bit of bite, but you can leave them out if you’re not into them. You can literally leave the artichokes “out” too, as much to my surprise, after ignoring a batch on the kitchen counter for an hour or so, they were still just as crisp and delicious as they were after having come out of the oven. That fact makes them all the better to serve at a party too!
When I moved to California from New York, I brought with me absolutely zero furniture, but had four boxes of books in tow. And that was the bare minimum. I packed a few classics, some old favorites, and pieces of collections that I’ve gathered along the way. Now that I am back in New York (And said books have been lugged cross-country, again!), one of the collections I’ve been adding to even more is my vintage cookbooks. Not only are they a great source of inspiration, but some of them are a total trip to read too!
As far as cooking is concerned, one of the the best is “The NEW Pillsbury Family Cookbook” (“New, circa 1969, that is. : )). I work out of this one all of the time because the recipes are tried and true, and fairly simple to prepare. Orange and Chicken Burgundy is described as a “good dish for company”, and I have to agree with that sentiment since anyone I have ever made this for has gobbled it up! The sauce strikes a perfect balance between savory and sweet, and would be just as good baked in the oven on spareribs, as it is here on the chicken. When in a pinch, I’ve made it with both apricot preserves and fig jam, and those options proved to be equally delicious.
I hope that everyone had a wonderful weekend, and that all of the Mamas out there were spoiled lavishly!
I am going to keep this short and sweet today, as this post is essentially a spring-ified seasonal variation on one of my winter favorites. I love doing things like this because not only are they cost effective to execute (I essentially foraged in and around my house for anything and everything that smelled good, and threw it in the pot!), but are all natural, too! Plus, they look pretty on the stove. : ) I went for a blend of eucalyptus leaves, fresh herbs, lemons, and a few leftover lavender buds from my previous post – but you can really take this idea in any direction that you want. Please let me know if you come up with any combinations that I should try!
I went to our local outdoor market last weekend, and was amazed at how everything had – finally! – come alive. There were gorgeous herbs and flowers begging to be potted, bins of spinach and microgreens, and the first stone fruits of the season.
I bought these baby plums with the intention of eating them plain, but finding that they were still a tad tart on their own, decided to bake them instead. Baking the fruit brings out its inherent sweetness, and allows you to give it what can best be described as a “flavor bath”. Here I used a white table wine and dried lavender, but the concept is completely customizable. Opt for water if you prefer to leave the alcohol out. Throw in a vanilla bean, or bake the plums with fresh herbs; lemon thyme would be beautiful as would some earthy sage. I served these with the greens mentioned above (There was no way I could resist those!), a slice of blue cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This is a lovely addition to any meal as an appetizer or a dessert, and would be especially nice on Mother’s Day. Hint, hint. ; )
When I was in Florida, I learned about an entirely new way to prepare tacos; specifically the shells. There’s a sort of dive-y strip mall restaurant that my family goes to that is known for two things: pastrami and tacos. That’s so random, I know, but both are equally delicious, and the restaurant has a continual line out the door to prove it! The tacos are made with ground beef and traditional seasonings and toppings (Hot sauce and lettuce, with sour cream optional!). The thing that makes them really unique is the warm shell that always has some crispy bits of cheese attached. After eating an embarrassing amount of these, I decided I had to learn for myself how they were made – which could have been a bad thing, in retrospect!
I am always looking for new ways to up my green juice game. Last weekend, I had a juice which included an ample amount of jalapeño. Like whoa, jalapeño. Coming from someone who loves spice, when I first sipped it, I thought it was waaay too hot, but as I kept sipping, the flavor really grew on me. You know how it happens when you try something, and you’re not sure if you like it so you keep going, and realize that you do? It was like that…and by the last drop, I was hooked! : )
I wanted to make this guy as green as possible so in addition to the pepper, I added my usual spinach, fresh mint, and kiwi; an oft overlooked but excellent smoothie ingredient! I am calling this a smoothie because I make it in the blender, but I actually prefer mine loose, like a juice so I add extra coconut water. You can go either way, and with Cinco de Mayo on the horizon, you could even mix it with a shot of tequila, if so inclined of course. Cheers!
Funny story about the ramps you see here: I went to visit my cousin in Saratoga last weekend, and on Saturday morning we went to the Farmers’ Market. I bought these, as well as some greens and herbs, and because I was about to buy pastries (If you are ever in the area, Mrs. London’s has what is possibly the best Almond Croissant in the world. It’s incredible!), my cousin sweetly asked if she could help me carry something. I handed over the ramps. What I didn’t realize was how strongly they smelled – a true understatement – and how over the course of the next hour, as we wandered in and out of stores, how many strange looks and comments we would get, eventually being dubbed the “onion girls” by one store owner. : ) Ooops!
That’s the thing about ramps. They’re potent in both scent and flavor (Especially in this case!), but like the fiddleheads I mentioned earlier this week, they’re a seasonal delicacy that shouldn’t be missed, if you’re lucky enough to find them. If you’ve never had them before, they taste like a cross between a leek and garlic with an arugula-ish peppery bite.
I am sure there are more creative ways of preparing them, since at the market alone I overheard two women discussing some ideas, including dipping the ramps in buttermilk, breading and frying them onion ring style. That sounded delicious – albeit labor intensive – to me! I love to make pesto with them though. It’s quick and easy to do, utilizes every part of the ramp, and freezes easily, meaning you can enjoy that ramp-y flavor all year long. I paired mine with hazelnuts, and drizzled raw honey over the finished product for some sweetness to cut the spice. The flowers are optional of course, but always recommended!