A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blackberry Swirl Frozen Yogurt

I'm still obsessing over blackberries from our big u-pick trip a couple weeks ago. Blackberry ice cream is now my favorite ice cream flavor. And blackberry puree has been a great addition to my morning yogurt. So good, in fact, that I knew it would be delicious swirled into a frozen yogurt. My, oh my, is it ever! I used Greek yogurt in this recipe and I love the tangy richness. Other plain yogurt could be substituted.  In fact, other berries could be substituted, too. Raspberries or another cane berry would be easy to sub in.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Savory Zucchini Corn Pancakes

It's zucchini season!  The time of year where zucchini plants have grown into large, bushy monsters overflowing with zukes that go from 2 inches to 2 feet over night.  Where our farmers' market practically gives them away at $1 for a bag of 4.  This has resulted in zucchini-filled everything around my house: twists on the classic zucchini bread, zucchini scrambled eggs, grilled zucchini... and these (my favorite) -- savory zucchini corn pancakes. They are packed with veggies, held together by eggs and a little flour, and boosted by some toasted walnuts and tangy feta cheese.  We've been eating them for dinner as an entree, but they could be appetizers or even breakfast.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Almond Rochers

Tartine Bakery on the corner of Guerrero and 18th in San Francisco used to be my neighborhood bakery when I lived there a few years ago.  Tartine has so many delicious baked goods, lunch choices, goodies and strong espresso, plus an awesome location near Delores Park -- it's no wonder the line is usually out the door and around the corner.

While many tout the joys of the pressed sandwiches and (amazing) bread, bread pudding and chocolate mousse, I LOVE their tiny, underplayed Almond Rochers.  These little meringue cookies may be the least expensive choice on the menu, but they are so so good.  Meringue-y, yet crumbly, chewy and crunchy, a little marshmallow-y, nutty.  They are sweet, unassuming and absolutely delicious.  And they keep their integrity for a long time: up to two weeks!  Enjoy these with tea, with coffee, in the morning, afternoon or evening.  They can be crumbled on top of ice cream.  But, seriously, they are perfect all on their own.  Despite needing to have a few things organized, they are also simple to make.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Langes de boeuf (aka lovely French cookies)

When I'm at the library I like to pick up books on subjects I don't know anything about.  That's how I end up with  Writing Picture Books and Graffiti Planet.  More often the books I pick up are related to cooking or baking -- like this one: Puff, by Martha Holmberg.  It's a cookbook completely dedicated to puff pastry.  I didn't know anything about puff pastry before, and now I have several hours worth of puff knowledge (making and eating), as well as several dozen delicate and delectable cookies (as well as several dozen more unbaked cookies waiting in the freezer).

What is puff pastry?  Wikipedia starts by defining it as a light, flaky, unleavened pastry containing several layers of fat.  Fat, in this case, is the butter.  The rolling of butter into the dough creates a flakiness during baking as the water in the butter evaporates. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Most-Perfect Blackberry Ice Cream

This past weekend we drove over the Santa Cruz Mountains to the coast to go berry picking.  It was an ideal morning for it -- the fog hadn't entirely lifted so it was still cool, and it was early enough that there were only a few other people out in the brambles with us.  Picking berries is addictive: you pick a few pounds and talk about wrapping it up, but then there is the perfect berry, and the next perfect berry, and the next... and before you know it there are 10 pounds of blackberries piled into your baskets, another 2 in your stomach, and a nice purple hue on your fingers and tongue.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grilled, Bacon-Wrapped Trout

I love grilling.  Or, more accurately, I love finding amazing-looking grill recipes and telling my sweetheart to grill them.  Summer is such a perfect time to get out and have your sweetheart grill everything you can think of -- veggies, meats, pineapple, peaches, fish, pizza...  or bacon-wrapped trout.  Bacon and trout go surprisingly well together.  Maybe not surprisingly: Bacon?  Delicious.  Trout?  Delicious.  Grilled together with some fresh herbs, this is a winner of a combo.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Panzanella Salad

A friend mentioned this salad years ago and it just sounded weird.  I think it slipped in and out of my mind without hesitation --my thought process was probably this: bread salad? meh.  How naive I was.

Recently I attended the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, CA and it was HOT.  So hot that all we could do during most of the day was sit in the shade.  And drink cold beverages.  And wish we were swimming.  Luckily there was really good music.  We finally left and went to Chico... where it was even hotter (yes, this story does have a point).  In Chico we visited the Sierra Nevada Brewery and lounged in the air conditioning.  Panzanella salad was on their menu -- described with all the fresh vegetables and... coldness... it sounded amazing.  And it was.  I couldn't believe I'd never had it before.  Soon after returning home, where it was still hot, I had to make it again.  And share it with you.  Trust me: fabulous.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Strawberry Daiquiris

It's almost always strawberry season here in California... but I rarely go strawberry picking.  It's about an hour to the nearest you-pick place, and with an awesome farmers' market (or two, or three) each week, I usually don't even think about it.   But a friend at work was telling me about picking over 60 pounds of strawberries (and blackberries and ollalieberries) and I got the itch.  This weekend we went to the coast and picked the morning away.  Afterward, back at home while I thumbed through cookbooks for galette, pie, ice cream and short cake recipes, my boyfriend, Bill, got right to work in the kitchen.  He came up with this luscious cocktail in no time -- and it is fabulous.  It's not too strong, nor too sweet, and the fresh strawberry taste and aroma is unbelievable.  (If you haven't been in on Bill's other cocktails, I recommend checking them out!)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Papaya pudding

I am so fortunate to have farmers' market and local ethnic supermarket visits as a part of my normal work schedule.  At Collective Roots, where I work, we teach lots of healthy-cooking-on-a-budget classes.  We have graduated over 150 participants from 6-week healthy cooking classes!   Working with participants from diverse backgrounds has given me the opportunity to try fruits and vegetables I've never tried (or seen!) before and to try new recipes for fruits and vegetables that I eat all the time.

So -- how does this relate to papaya pudding?  Last week when I was shopping for our cooking classes at the nearby Latino market, the papaya display was too irresistible to pass by.  So I didn't.  Happily lugging my three-pound papaya home, I wondered what I'd do with it all.  Eating a papaya fresh is always nice.  So are morning smoothies.  But with all that papaya, I started looking around for something more interesting.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Baked Figs

I LOVE figs.  I was overjoyed to see beautiful baskets of the dark black/purple Mission fig at the farmers' market this past weekend.  Fig recipes are piling high on my coffee table: ice cream, figs stuffed with various treats (see a bonus idea for this, below), salads, pizzas... but today's recipe is nearly as simple as just popping them in your mouth:  Figs topped with a lovely balsamic vinegar and the flavourful (but not too strong) Manchego sheep's milk cheese, baked briefly and eaten warm.  Heavenly.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Watermelon Mojitos

Watermelon mojitos have come to the rescue on a couple hot, hot days -- what a winner for a refreshing, delicious summer cocktail!  The first time I had this drink it was thanks to my brother's girlfriend, Cat, who found a recipe while flipping through Ina Garten's, How Easy Is That? cookbook.  Cat and my brother were visiting from the east coast just in time for 95- 100 degree weather here in California.  I have to give her credit for rallying, despite the sluggish heat, to gather the ingredients and blend together this great cocktail.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Coconut Lime Sorta-Sorbet

With the hot weather continuing, my ice-cream maker is getting quite the work out and is certainly earning it's keep.  This recipe is the latest trial -- and will certainly be repeated.  It is dairy free, but seems too creamy and rich to lump into the 'sorbet' category.  Using coconut milk as the liquid (instead of water or a dairy product) makes this a refreshing and creamy dairy-free treat.  The lime and rum bump up the flavor, adding a fragrant, citrus-y edge without being booze-y.  This recipe also keeps well in the freezer: it does not become too hard or icy.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rainbow Zucchini 'Pasta' Salad

Believe it or not, but I don't only eat sweets.  It might be hard to tell from all the sweet things I post here.  But, in fact, I really do love eating good, healthy food.  It would be a shame to let all the beautiful, colorful vegetables at the farmers' market (and in my garden!) go without notice.   This salad is a brilliant way to pack in a ton of colorful, fresh veggies -- all without heating up the house with any cooking.  There is no real 'pasta' in this recipe -- the 'pasta' is actually thin slices of the raw zucchini and cucumber.  It's great as a side salad, or it can be a more substantial dish with the addition of walnuts and Mozzarella.  Delicious, refreshing, pretty!