Thursday, February 28, 2008 

Green goes BAM!

Or is it that Emeril goes "green." Will he be kickin' sustainability up a notch?
Voluble TV chef Emeril Lagasse will kick it up a notch at Discovery Communications’ Planet Green, inking a deal to develop a new series for the eco-friendly startup.

Set to debut in July, the nightly Emeril Green will be shot on location at a Washington, D.C.-area Whole Foods Market, the national supermarket chain that specializes in organic and minimally-processed produce, meats, seafood and dairy products. - Media Week
Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, fresh off his media properties getting acquired by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, detailed plans for a new reality series, Emeril Green.

Emeril Green will air on Planet Green, the Discovery Communications-owned network set to launch this June, replacing Discovery Home Channel. - B&C
“Since my early days as a chef, I’ve always been passionate about using the freshest quality ingredients from farmers, fisherman and ranchers,” says Emeril Lagasse. “I try a little harder every day to think greener and be respectful of our environment and our resources. On ‘Emeril Green’ we’ll unearth how easy and fun it is to cook with what’s fresh, tasty and in-season and find smart ways to make each day a little greener for you and your family.” - Emerils.com

more at Ecorazzi and Slashfood.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008 

The Wierd Looking Fruit

with the delicious insides. Mark Twain once called the cherimoya, "deliciousness itself."

Cherimoya
Originally uploaded by rosidae.

To truly describe a Cherimoya to anyone who hasn't run into it before, it's difficult. They look like a fruit disguised as an armadillo...but they taste like a banana/pineapple yogurt. Just very odd...and very expensive. We have several farms here in the area that grow these little whacky globs of goodness so they are available readily here and pop up at the Farmer's Markets from January to June.

Apparently it is available elsewhere in the world...but it is known by a wide variety of names...

Cherimoya (New Zealand, South America, USA)
– Custard Apple (UK, Australia)
– Chirimolla, Chirimorrinon (Venezuela)
– Graviola (Brazil)
– Poox (Mexico)
– Pac, tzumux (Guatemala)
– Anona poshte, anona blanca (El Salvador)
– Tukib (Belize)
– Cachiman la Chine (Haiti)
– Anone (France)
– Atis (Philippines)
– Sasalapa (Cook Is.)
– Ice-cream fruit (Pacific Is.)

Cherimoya Crème Brulée

4 servings

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar (divided use)
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
Pinch salt
4 egg yolks
6 tablespoons puréed cherimoya
1/2 teaspoon minced orange zest

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large saucepan, combine cream, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla bean and salt. Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat, remove from heat and steep, covered, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk yolks in separate large bowl. Remove vanilla bean from cream mixture. Add cream mixture to yolks in a very thin stream, whisking constantly. Stir in cherimoya purée and orange zest.

Divide mixture among 4 (8-ounce) ramekins. Place ramekins in a larger pan. Add enough water to larger pan to come three-quarters of the way up sides of the ramekins. Cover pan loosely with aluminum foil. Bake in middle of preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until set. Remove ramekins from water and cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Up to 45 minutes before serving, sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar evenly over the top of each. Caramelize sugar until dark golden brown with either a culinary torch or by placing 6 to 8 inches below broiler. If using broiler, watch carefully to prevent burning.

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Monday, February 25, 2008 

Lavender

Not just for bathsalts anymore!

Lavender, or "blue gold" has been used throughout the world for medicinal and culinary uses for thousands of years yet only since the 20's has it been commercially produced and available in the U.S.

While browsing through a used book store here in town, The Book Den, I ran across a little soft covered book that attracted my attention. (Yes...of course I had to purchase it....)
The Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley is a delightful little find. It's chockful of wonderful recipes involving lavender...some that I would never have imagined.

Lavender Lemon Buttered Carrots.
Hawaiian Macadamia Lavender Rice.
Cantaloupe, Mango, and Asian Pear Salad with Lavender Cilantro Dressing.
Lavender Pecan Chicken Skewers with Rhubarb Apricot Dipping Sauce.
Veal Scaloppine and Artichoke Hearts with Pomegranate Lavender Sauce.
Chili Lavender Turkey Pot Pie with Spicy Crust.

Can't find culinary lavender? Penzey's carries it, as does Dean & Deluca. Clairmont Farms up in the Santa Ynez Valley sells it. In June, Ojai will celebrate it.

Of course...I'll just go ahead and eat it!
This version features lavender in both the crust and filling, making an all-time favorite even better—and perfuming the kitchen with the most enticing aromas.

Makes 6 servings

Lavender Pie Dough (recipe follows)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca
1 tablespoon dried ‘Provence’ lavender buds, finely ground in a spice grinder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cups pitted fresh or frozen cherries
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Lavender Sugar

Prepare the pie dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, tapioca, lavender, salt and cinnamon.
Place the cherries in a large saucepan and stir over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until slightly softened. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cherries to a large bowl. Add the sugar mixture to the cherry juices in the pan and simmer, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thickened. Pour over the cherries, add the vanilla, and stir to mix. Let cool.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough into an 11-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick). Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie plate, leaving a ¾-inch overhang. Pour in the filling, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and chill.

Roll the remaining dough into an 11-inch round and use a sharp knife or fluted pastry wheel to cut it into 1-inch-wide strips. Working on a sheet of parchment paper set on a baking sheet, weave the pastry strips in a close lattice pattern. Refrigerate or freeze the lattice for 20 minutes, or until firm.

Brush the edge of the filled shell with cold water and slide the lattice off the parchment and onto the pie. Let stand for 10 minutes to soften the lattice. Trim the edges flush with the rim of the pie plate and crimp decoratively. Gently brush the lattice top with cold water and sprinkle with lavender sugar.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling bubbles. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.

If you’re using fresh cherries, you’ll need about 3½ pints.

Lavender Pie Dough

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried culinary ‘Provence’ lavender buds, finely ground in a spice grinder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup shortening, chilled and cut into pieces
¼ cup cold water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, lavender, and salt. Pulse to mix. Scatter the butter and shortening over the flour and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; do not overprocess. Add the water and pulse until the dough starts to clump; if the dough is not clumping, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Gather the dough into ball and divide in half. Flatten each piece into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

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Friday, February 22, 2008 

Flickr Photo Friday


CCC - Curly Colour Cake
Originally uploaded by cupcaketastic.

Thursday, February 21, 2008 

Thursday Night Music Club

The story of my love life....Cowboy Junkies, "Misguided Angel"

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008 

Food Section Wednesday

Yeah. One of the favorite days of the week for foodies. It's the day of the week where a good number of newspapers print their food sections. Shall we take a look at what's "cooking?"

The Contra Cost Times has a wonderful little article highlighting Greg Patent and his upcoming book, "A Baker's Odyssey", a book created to help preserve some old world recipes and techniques.
"Recipes are a form of oral history that connect people to their past," he says. "They are a part of who they are. Preserving those recipes takes effort. So often, people will have the intention to save those special recipes, but it doesn't happen. Maybe it doesn't get recorded, and by the third generation the recipe is lost." Patent's passion for old-world recipes prompted him to spend two years criss-crossing the nation in search of favorite recipes from more than 60 immigrant bakers for his book, "A Baker's Odyssey," (Wiley Books, $34.95), which also includes a one-hour instructional DVD featuring Patent.

..."I am an immigrant baker myself," he says, further explaining that he grew up in Shanghai with his Iraqi mother and Russian father. Patent started baking as a preteen and started winning awards. At 19, he won the Pillsbury Bake-Off and $1,000. He studied and even taught zoology before realizing that his real passion was baking.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution highlights a cookbook put together by usually bickering politicians in the State Capital.

Who knew that "What's Cooking Under the Dome," a new cookbook where Ehrhart's recipe appears alongside a hundred others submitted from all over the Legislature, would prove such a conversation starter? Not to mention the way it, uh, tenderizes the image of a place that seems to be made up mostly of nameless, faceless bureaucrats. Or worse.

"All the public usually hears is stuff like how the governor, lieutenant governor or speaker can't get along," said Senate human resources director Jason Fleury, who helped a bipartisan group of House and Senate administrative assistants organize the project. "It's nice to hear the other side of what goes on here."

...The first 500 copies of "What's Cooking" sold like hot Coca-Cola Cakes (Page 61). In fact, it's just gone back for a second printing of 300 copies. Some legislators bought them for constituents, while other Gold Domers snapped them up for friends, family or themselves. That's brought unanticipated side benefits. After all, when co-workers get their hands on the recipe for Dona's Grits Casserole (Page 38) or Pumpkin Pie Dip (Page 9), conviviality can't be far behind.

The Forum, from Fargo, North Dakota, highlights a recipe for Mochaccino Biscotti. Seems you might need some warm deliciousness if the weather outside is, well, really cold, (-13 and with windchill factored in -31 at the time of this posting) not the California cold you often hear me complaining about.

In Mochaccino Biscotti, the rich flavor of coffee partners with cocoa and cinnamon to produce a not-too-sweet Italian cookie with just enough chocolate flavor to satisfy any chocoholic. Big chunks of toasted almonds add their intense flavor and crunch.

The recipe makes many, so share with friends. They look beautiful sealed tight in a jar decorated with ribbon or tied in a pretty gift bag. Wrapped up with a pound of your favorite coffee beans, it’s the kind of surprise any cappuccino-lover could appreciate.

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Monday, February 18, 2008 

Tyler Florence

is living in California, Mill Valley to be exact. He is opening up a retail store in Mill Valley and he's opening up a restaurant in San Francisco at 940 Sutter Street (currently the York hotel...soon to be Hotel Vertigo.)



Ah. The "Land of Food and Wine" a little tastier today.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008 

Cupcakes Crushed my heart....

Crushcakes Cupcakes recently opened up here in Santa Barbara. I was really excited to have a little "cupcakery" opening up near work. The ladies at work were excited about having a little taste treat just around the corner. And, when it opened, were were all over it like frosting on a cupcake.

We were ALL disappointed. $3.25 for a small, dry not very tasty lump. We tried them again a second time. Same thing, only this time, the frosting was liquidating and running off one type of the cupcakes. I would NEVER sell anything that looked like that.

There were handfuls of young, blonde girls in the back with tight fitting black "crushcake cupcakes" t-shirts, reading a recipe book and working diligently to put out product, but I hate to say, they were not succeeding. Might be nice to have people who know how to bake back in the kitchen? Right now it seems that the only "cupcakes" the shop was really concentrating on marketing were of a young female variety.

The space, like the product, is bland and lacking in warmth, taste and visual appeal. I usually believe in "third time's a charm", but after my two experiences with their product, I won't be back for a third, neither will the other ladies from work.

Guess we'll just have to wait until Bella Dolce Bakery opens up and see what they will offer.

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Do they get badges for customer service?

Girl Scouts are fielding complaints about their cookies.
When Beverly Knight bit into her Girl Scout cookies this year, the disappointment was bitter. The peanut butter sandwich was too dry. The shortbread had a funny aftertaste. She didn’t immediately complain to the girl who sold her the cookies, but she intended to tell her she wouldn’t be buying those again next year.

Girl Scouts across the Southeast have been dealing with customer complaints and boxes of stale cookies as they run their largest annual fundraiser. A switch in bakers has them explaining new names and tastes. And a leaky warehouse roof has tainted some peanut butter cookies sold throughout the Southeast — both patties and sandwiches. - LJWorld.com


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Saturday, February 16, 2008 

Mickey D's meets Feng Shui

Of course, it happened in the San Gabriel Valley in California.
A local McDonald's restaurant recently unveiled a one-of-a-kind Feng Shui-inspired design, the nation's first. The restaurant, located at 15628 Gale Avenue, blends
classic architecture with modern Feng Shui aspects including water elements, earth tones, red accents and exotic fauna. The recently renovated restaurant also features San Gabriel Valley's first McCafe, a coffee bar adjacent to the front counter. - PRNewswire and SGVTribune
What's next, a Wendy's yoga room? - EaterLA

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Friday, February 15, 2008 

Flickr Photo Friday


Fortune Advertising
Originally uploaded by ShutterCat7.

This is a new way to advertise....Fortune Cookies!

(probably costs a fortune to do, too!)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008 

Opentable.com. I LOVE it!

When traveling, I love to get in my reservations to restaurants early, especially that foodie city by the bay, San Francisco. I have often been known to book a restaurant before I even book a room, and, on one occassion, a flight.

The service that I use and love is Opentable.com. The Cincinnati Enquirer has an article on this fantastic, handy webservice.

Whether it's snagging a table at a hot new place or finding a reservation for a special occasion -- such as Valentine's Day, the second-most-popular day for dining out behind Mother's Day, according to the National Restaurant Association -- more diners are turning to the Web for their reservations.

Restaurant managers say OpenTable lets customers make reservations any time, prevents overbooking and - because the service sends 24-hour reminders and follow-up e-mails - cuts down on the number of no-shows.

....OpenTable started in San Francisco in 1998, when a dot-com entrepreneur's wife became frustrated as she scrambled to make reservations one night.

It's a free service for customers and is growing at an ever expanding waistline rate with more restaurants in more cities added daily. If you haven't used it...try it. I'm sure you'll like it!

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Sunday, February 10, 2008 

Free Pancake Tuesday at IHOP!

Yes. It's true. They postponed "Pancake Day" because of Primaries being held through out several states. Call your local IHOP and see if they are participating in "Free Pancake Tuesday" on Feb. 12 between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.!

(Had to take down the pancake photo because the person who posted it up on Flickr apparently allows people to blog it from Flickr...but in reality doesn't actually want people to....all rights reserved she said...for a post about pancakes to help a great charity.)

All they ask is that you remember to make a donation to the Children's Miracle Network.

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Thank you Chuck Williams

for remembering New Orleans and it's rich, delicious culinary culture. I stopped in at the local store and the table displays and the new catalogue showcase and highlight the history of food that the Big Easy has given to our culture.

They've even highlighted Dooky Chase's "Red Beans and Rice" recipe.
"I went to Dooky Chase
To get me something to eat
The waitress looked at me and said
Ray you sure look beat,
Now its early in the morning
And I ain't got nothing but the blues

—Ray Charles, "Early in the Morning Blues"

Thank you for remembering. I was beginning to believe that no one wanted to.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008 

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Happy Mardi Gras!



Watch all the fun on NOLA's "BourboCams!"
or listen to a little NOLA radio.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008 

It's "Super Bowl" Day...

Time to get your "guac" on.....
....Whether fans were watching for the commercials, the football or simply to coo at Brady, they'll combine to eat more on Super Bowl Sunday than any day but Thanksgiving, although this "holiday" is more about chips (14,500 tons) and guacamole (8 million pounds) than turkey and stuffing. (And don't double dip. This week, a researcher released a study that said three to six double dips transferred about 10,000 bacteria into the dip.) - AP
I live in avocado country so we are very blessed with the little green gobs of goodness being available pretty much year round. Although, you might blush at how the word "avocado" came about.

Everyone has their own "special recipe" for guacamole and here are some of my favorites....
Saveur - This recipe is based on one in Rosa's New Mexican Table by Roberto Santibañez (Artisan, 2007); it's for the same dish that is prepared at Rosa Mexicano restaurants in New York City. "It is our signature dish—nine out of ten guests order it," says Santibañez.
Tyler Florence's Charred Tomatillo Guacamole.
Martha Stewart's Mango Guacamole.
Some bloggers are sharing their recipes....

Heidi over at 101 Recipes has "guacamole with a twist"...
Echo Trips has their "River Guacamole" (love their description "moderately squishy avocados")

La Vie in English has a Gucamole Flan!



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Friday, February 01, 2008 

Flickr Photo Friday


armadillo cake
Originally uploaded by debbiedoescakes.

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MY INGREDIENTS

  • I'm Cookie Jill
  • From Santa Barbara, California, United States
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