Monday, November 28, 2011

Winter hot drinks w/ a kick


Contributed by Aisha Sharpe
  • 6 tbsp Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 pinch Cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 pinches Ground allspice
  • .25 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp Water
  • 16 oz Whole milk
  • 6 oz Tequila Ocho Añejo
In a small saucepan, stir together the cocoa powder, sugar, cayenne, allspice, cinnamon and water until they form a paste. Add the milk and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat, stir in the tequila and pour into a Thermos or other insulated container.


Contributed by Aisha Sharpe
  • 16 oz Fuji apple juice
  • 1 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz Agave nectar
  • 3 Cinnamon sticks
  • 5 Green cardamom pods
  • 2 Star anise pods
  • .5 tsp Grated fresh ginger
  • Quarter of a vanilla bean
  • 4 oz Bulleit Rye Whiskey
Add all the ingredients except the rye to a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until hot. Strain into a Thermos or other insulated container and add the rye.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Homemade chocolate from cocoa powder experiment 1

Ever since I made Giada's tarragon merlot truffles, the idea popped into my head that I wanted to actually make the chocolate from scratch rather than use chocolate chips. So I did a google search and most of the recipes sent me to grinding cacao beans, while a couple indicated butter and milk (which I will try next time). But what I really wanted to know was
what happens if you mix cocoa powder and heavy cream?
The answer is, it kind of makes chocolate. It does not get to the consistency of a chocolate bar, but it does solidify and is quite smooth and creamy. My roommate says it's more like a smooth fudge.

What I used:
  • heavy cream
  • extra dark cocoa powder
  • granulated cane sugar
  • other... toppings 
I used a double boiler to keep some warm-to-hot water on the stove. In a small sauce pan, I put two tablespoons of heavy cream and in it I dissolved one teaspoon of sugar (I actually used the "Sugar in the Raw" packets - one packet is perfect) by swirling it around. Once the sugar was all dissolved I added one heaping of cocoa powder and mixed it in on the water bath. Once the cocoa was all mixed in, I took the sauce pan out of the water bath and mixed until it made a smooth consistent sauce.
This is very important! The first time I kept mixing vigorously on the hot water bath and the oil separated out of the heavy cream so I ended up with this grainy thing in oil. I think it was because of the temperature and the heavy mixing. 
Then, with a teaspoon, set the chocolate on aluminum foil pre-chilled in the fridge. I didn't get them to look very pretty - I think I need more patience with it, but it tastes great.
Now, for the toppings... I made:
  1. chili powder (the Mexican chocolate) - I added 2-3 pinches of chili powder when I added the cocoa
  2. orange peel - added 1/3 of fresh orange peel after the cocoa powder was all blended in
  3. orange peel & cognac - I added one teaspoon of cognac to half of the already blended orange peel and then more cocoa powder to regain the consistency
  4. cardamom - soaked two crashed green cardamoms in the heavy cream while dissolving the butter and took them out before adding the cocoa powder
  5. walnuts - added one tablespoon of walnut pieces to the chocolate blend
  6. almonds - placed a chocolate base, let it cool down a little, then placed the almond on it and covered it in chocolate. 
  7. basil and biscuit - finely crushed biscuits (to make 1 tablespoon) and chopped 2 fresh basil leaves; added them to the chocolate blend at the end
  8. Grand Marnier - added 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier to the chocolate blend
I loved all of them - tasted bits of each one day after I made them. They are very rich and very dark and very soft. The Grand Marnier did not have as great of a flavor as the other ones though. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Multicolored Tomato Tartlets

Looks good for a party

  • 2 to 3 small firm heirloom tomatoes, preferably in different colors
  • Flour for dusting
  • 1 14-ounce package puff pastry, defrosted but cold
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone, optional
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste (fleur de sel is a good choice)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Slice stem and bottom ends from tomatoes. Slice remaining tomato crosswise into rounds 1/2 inch thick. You will need 6 or more nice rounds (see Step 2). If you like, you can cut rounds from 6 different-colored tomatoes. (Use leftover tomato for another recipe.)
2. Dust a flat surface with flour, and unfold pastry onto the surface. Cut pastry into circles about 1 inch wider than tomato slices. You will need at least 6 circles. (If your tomato slices are small and you can cut more than 6 circles out of the puff pastry, cut more rounds of both tomato and pastry. The important thing is that the pastry circles be close to an inch larger than the tomato slices.)
3. Transfer pastry to baking sheet. Spread some mascarpone, if using, over each pastry circle. Sprinkle pastry with basil; top with a tomato slice. Pinch edges of pastry up around edges of tomato. Season tomato rounds with salt and pepper. Scatter Parmesan over rounds. Bake until pastry is puffed and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm.
Yield: 6 or more tartlets.

Baked Trout with Tomatoes and Olives (NYT)

Found this recipe in the NYT and it looked good

  • 4 trout, boned and butterflied, or 4 rainbow trout fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes in juice
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil (optional)
  • 12 imported black olives, pitted
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Oil a gratin dish or baking dish large enough to accommodate all the fish (use two baking dishes if necessary). Open up the trout if it’s been butterflied, and season with salt and pepper. If using trout fillets, arrange in a single layer in one or two baking dishes, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan or frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic, and cook 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and sugar, stir together and raise the heat to medium-high. When the tomatoes begin to bubble vigorously, turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes until the sauce is thick and fragrant. Stir in the basil, olives and salt to taste. Season with pepper and adjust salt.
3. Place a spoonful of tomato sauce on a half of each butterflied trout, and close up the fish. Lay side by side in the baking dish. Spread the remaining sauce over the fish (or all of the sauce over the fillets, if using fillets). Cover the dish tightly with foil that has been lightly oiled on the dull side with olive oil, and place in the oven. Bake 10 to 15 minutes until the fish pulls apart easily when poked with a fork. Serve the fish and the sauce with rice or other grains such as quinoa or spelt.
Yield: Serves four.
Advance preparation: You can prepare the sauce up to three days ahead. Reheat on top of the stove before proceeding with the recipe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sth I would like - Wild Strawberries and Vanilla Cream

From Jamie Oliver


Pick out the nicest strawberries and set aside. Put the rest in a bowl and add the sugar, half the vanilla seeds and the vinegar. Squash together with the back of a fork and leave to macerate for 10–15 minutes.

Stir the rest of the vanilla seeds into the crème fraîche. To serve, spoon a little vanilla cream in the centre of each bowl, make a well in the middle and spoon in some mushed strawberries. Halve some of the reserved strawberries and sprinkle the lot over the vanilla cream. Scatter over the mint leaves and orange zest then serve.


• 4 handfuls of wild strawberries
• 1 tablespoon caster sugar
• 1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds scraped out
• a splash of sherry vinegar
• 1 x pot crème fraîche
a few small, fresh mint leaves
• zest of 1 orange