I recently came across a small blurb about buying fresh bay leaves from a French purveyor. It caught my eye because the photo made it appear that you could tie some kitchen twine around the stems and hang this aromatic in your kitchen. I wanted to learn more about this ubiquitous herb, that I use but don’t much about. Here’s what I learned.
Apparently there is “good” bay laurel from Turkey and Central America and then there is the bay laurel from California. The California version is more minty, a little oilier and can be bitter. If you are allergic to bay leaves, or have had allergic like symptoms, it is the California version. Bay Leaves are native to the Mediterranean and have a natural oil that has a similar nose to eucalyptus or clove but a lot more mellow. When you do start to cook with either the fresh or dried versions, remember you don’t need much to reap all the benefits.
Typically, bay leaves are used in vegetarian stocks, brines, and longer cooking dishes like soups and stews. I was intrigued with the idea of adding them to your coals for barbecue like you mesquite wood chips. You can also light a couple on fire and toss them into a covered dish, right before serving, to impart a smoky, aromatic flavor. Bay leaves pair well with anise, lemon, onion, oregano and white pepper. As a matter of fact you can grind dried bay leaves with any of these and make your own spice blend. Stay tuned. When I try this I will let you know.
Fresh bay leaves are usually available in the produce section of your local market or can be found at your farmer’s market. I even found a link to buy them from Amazon, of course. When buying fresh make sure they are Laurel.
Here’s a couple of fun facts about bay leaves. They are a good source of magnesium, potassium, calcium, Vitamin A, C and iron. They are great for digestion and are a natural anti-inflammatory. Food with benefits. I love it!
Here are a few recipes that use bay leaves in a more forward way.
Preheat oven to 375°
Remove giblets and such from cavity of bird and discard. Rinse inside cavity and let dry completely.
Loosen skin on breasts and legs with fingers.
Rub salt and pepper all over the chicken and under skin on breasts and legs.
Arrange 3 bay leaves under the skin on one breasts, in a decorative design. Repeat on other side and under the skin of legs.
Place remaining leaves in cavity of chicken.
Tie legs with twine and tuck wings under chicken.
Arrange celery, carrots and onions in roasting pan in a single layer so that chicken can roast on them.
Place chicken breasts side down on vegetables and bake at 375° for 35 minutes.
Turn chicken breasts side up.
Increase heat to 450° and cook for 25 minutes longer. Watch that chicken doesn't burn.
Check internal temperature to 170°.
Remove chicken to cutting board and let stand for 15 minutes before carving. You can serve chicken with the carrots and onions or discard all vegetables.
I think this chicken will be juicy and flavorful without a gravy. However, if you want a gravy; bring pan drippings to a simmer in a saucepan.
Make a slurry of 2Tbs. flour and 3 Tbs. water. Stir slurry into simmering drippings until clear and thickened.
In an enameled cast iron pot or large saucepan, arrange potatoes in a single layer and pour chicken broth over. place bay leaves, garlic and olive oil also in pot. Before covering, give a good sprinkle of salt.
Cover and cook over a low heat until potatoes are tender. This really depends on size of potato, but think 30-40 minutes.
Check occasionally on broth. You can add more if needed.
When cooked tender place in a serving bowl and give another sprinkle of salt. Serve immediately.
One great thing about this really flavorful potato dish is leftovers. I made a potato salad the next day by simply adding some dijon mustard and a little celery for some crunch. Wow! it was great.
You can serve these together. I think the bay leaf flavors show up very differently. But you can also dip your toe in slowly with one or the other. As always please let me know what you think of these recipes or how you are using bay leaves other than in soups and stews.
I had never had it, Blum’s Crunch Coffee Cake, but it appeared in my feed in December 2017 and then appeared in Sunset Magazine in December 2018. What is this cake that everyone seems to craving?
Blum’s was a pastry shop located in the Bay Area. Most notably its flagship was situated in Union Square, in the days when a shopping trip was special. It usually meant getting dressed up and was finished with a treat in the form of a special luncheon place.
Blum’s started as candy shop and was passed down through a couple of generations until Jack Levy was at the helm. He realized that they were selling “the same old candy” they had for decades. He challenged his candy makers to make a new candy every day to find “the next great thing.”. One day a candy maker over boiled what was to be a soft coffee candy, like a taffy, and it was too hard. Rather than throw it away, the baker crushed the “useless” candy and used it to decorate a chiffon cake. An icon was born!
Since then people have been clamoring to get the recipe; the flavor and textures evoke memories for so many. Martha Stewart published a well respected version on her website and Valerie Gordon, of Valerie’s Confections, has a very popular version on her menus in Los Angeles.
As I said above, I have never had the cake. Here is my adapted version of a recipe that was published on Tasting Table in December 2017.
I made a few adjustments, with all respect, to the recipe.
1- I didn’t have Cream of Tartar, so I added 1 Tbs. vinegar instead.
2-While I did use light corn syrup, in this recipe. I prefer not to. An easy substitution is dissolve 1 1/2 cups sugar in 1/4 cup hot water. and then measure out what you need accordingly. Please remember this is now almost 4 cups of sugar in just the candy. You can also use Lyle’s Golden Syrup (Treacle). I found it on Amazon very easily.
3- When preparing your pan, I suggest make an elevated rim with parchment paper. The cake batter rises quite nicely and this will help keep that height.
4- Once you pour the batter into your prepared pan, gently run a sharp knife through it to remove any large air pockets.
5- When making the candy, if you have them wear oven mitts. The mixture gets quite hot. Remember the temperatures in the recipe matter.
I hope it brings back great memories for you. Please share your comments below when you make it!
Preheat oven to 350° and position rack in middle of oven.
Prepare a 9" springform pan with nonstick baking spray.
Cut a 3" wide strip, long enough to go around pan. Tape it on the side away from cake.
Sift together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand up mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until thick and pale yellow. Add in the water, oil and vanilla and mix well.
If you don't have an extra bowl and whisk for mixer, transfer the yolk mixture to another bowl and clean well the bowl and whisk.
Back in the stand up mixer, clean bowl, start beating egg whites. When just frothy , add vinegar to enhance volume and beat until soft peaks. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff shiny peaks form. Add lemon zest and lemon juice and beat briefly until just combined.
Use a rubber spatula and stir about a 1/4 cup of egg whites in to yolk mixture. Then fold yolk mixture into remaining egg whites. Gradually fold dry ingredients into egg mixture, in thirds, until fully incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan rimmed with parchment paper. Draw a knife, gently, through the batter to release air bubbles.
Bake for 55 minutes to an hour until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.
Let cake cool completely on cooling rack, at least 45 minutes. Do not skip this step or the cake may tear or deflate.
Run a knife between the sides of the cake and pan, then release springform pan. Run a knife between cake and bottom and wrap cake in plastic wrap, until ready to to assemble.
Heavily coat a 13x18 rimmed cookie sheet with non-stick spray and set aside.
Measure the baking soda into small dish and set by stove with a whisk.
Using an accurate candy thermometer, add sugar, coffee and corn syrup to a heavy 6 quart pot and cook over a medium heat, (I recommend wearing oven mitts. It will get very hot.) stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula until the thermometer reaches 270°. The temperatures are important for the candy to have the correct texture. This can take up to 10 minutes.
When the candy thermometer reaches 270°, increase to high heat and stir constantly until the temperature reaches 305°. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the baking soda. The candy will start to expand and get airy very fast. Watch closely, when it starts to fill light and the color lightens up, pour it , as evenly as possible, onto baking sheet. Allow the candy to cool completely for 30 minutes. Do not to touch it.
I used a rolling pin to chop up the candy into quarter sized pieces. You can also put it on a cutting board and use a heavy knife to cut it. The candy can be made up to 2 weeks ahead of time and stored in an airtight jar. It would never last that long in my house.
Coffee Whipped Cream
In a large mixing bowl whip to a medium peak the cold heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and coffee. Hold in refrigerator until ready to use.
To Assemble Cake
Place the cake on a turn table or cake stand and cut in half horizontally in half.
Cover the bottom half with 1/3 of the whipped cream and sprinkle about 1 cup of the candy crunch on top. Place the other half of cake on top and slather remaining whipped cream all over top and sides of cake. Gently press crunch candy all over the top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
You can make the cake a day or two ahead of time. If this is the case don't add candy to top and sides until just ready to serve, or it will start to melt and not be as crunchy.
Happy New Year! I’ve been absent for awhile and let me just say “The last half 2018 is not a time I will look back on fondly.” But onward and upward!
2019 will be very exciting . I truly believe that my book, CAKE FOR BREAKFAST will be sold. I am also hoping to be making more personal appearances and teaching more classes. I promise to be more consistent here, on this blog, so please invite your friends to subscribe. I also encourage you to interact with me. Please send me your comments and suggestions. What do you want to see or learn here?
So here we go…
I always preach to read your recipe all the way through before you start cooking.That way you will have all your equipment and ingredients out and ready to go. I always do this. That doesn’t mean that the most seasoned of cooks/chefs can make a mistake. I recently made Pimento Cheese Crackers, from Bon Appetit magazine, and the recipe said “line baking sheet with parchment paper.”. I’m so clever that I decided to use my silpats. Because of the amount of fat in the recipe, the silpats did not allow the crackers to crisp up. Lesson learned!
Let me tell you a little about pimento cheese, or as some call it “southern peanut butter”, “pate of the south”. Well the south has definitely claimed pimento cheese as it’s own, but it actually started in New York! Pimento Cheese is actually the result of food culture starting to extend beyond state and international borders. This gave us the opportunity to have pimiento from Spain and Cream Cheese from Philly by way of New York.
The South was smart and claimed Pimento Cheese as its own and mainstreamed the recipe. I’ve seen a lot of recipes for Pimento Cheese but the most common reads something like:
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated, a 4 ounce jar of pimentos, chopped, a couple of garlic cloves, minced, plenty of fresh ground pepper, a dash of salt and enough mayo (3Tbs) to form a stiff, chunky paste.
The Pimento Cheese could be stored in a jar in the refrigerator of rolled in a tube shape and wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge. You could almost just use this mixture and a little flour to make the crackers. I haven’t tried that yet, so I don’t recommend it. This incarnation is best served on some good white bread as a sandwich.
You’ve probably heard of cheese straws and these pimento cheese crackers are similar. They are more cracker than shortbread though. You can add more cayenne if you want a little more heat. My other piece of advice is to know your oven well, before you bake. My oven takes along time to reach proper heat and I keep an oven thermometer in it to check temp. The cookies continue to cook and crisp up after they are out of the oven, so do not overcook.
Well happy New Year and I hope you enjoy this recipe.
Place the cheese, flour, salt and cayenne in a food processor, and pulse, just enough to combine.
Add the pimentos and pulse until mixture is orange. It is important to not over pulse. With processor on low, slowly add chilled butter pieces. Quickly turn processor off and just pulse until dough is pea sized. Add in iced water and pulse just until dough starts to come together, when squeezed in your hand.
Transfer dough to a work surface that has been lightly floured and lightly flour your hands. Form into a tightly packed 2" diameter log. At this point you can sprinkle sesame seeds on surface and roll the log in them or you can press the seeds into the log. I found that a combination of both worked well.
Wrap the log (or logs, I had extra dough) in wax paper or parchment and chill for at least 4 hours, and up to 2 days, before slicing.
Preheat oven to 350° and place rack in middle of oven. Using a sharp knife, slice dough into thin rounds, I tried to get 1/8" -1/4".
Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and place cracker dough about an inch part. Prick each cracker a few times so they don't puff up.
Bake for 20-25 minutes (adjust for your oven). I rotate my pans about halfway through.
You probably will have to do multiple pans.
Let crackers cool on pan and use a fresh sheet of parchment paper and repeat.
Remember the crackers will crisp up while cooling.
Thank you readers for letting me know that I didn't put the pimentos in the ingredient list. Here is the updated recipe.
The Jewish Holidays are approaching here. Each year I am faced with the challenge of the menu. Of course there are traditional foods that if they weren’t on the menu my friends and family would think I had lost my mind. But as a woman that reads cookbooks like they are novels, I always strive to keep it fresh.
You will always find brisket on my holiday table. It’s a standard and everyone seems to have their own great recipe.It took me quite a while to perfect my brisket and I finally love it. I also have a chicken dish for those that prefer to not eat red meat. The past few years my chicken dish has been either a citrus honey roasted whole chicken or lemon chicken thighs with a really crispy skin. I love the idea of incorporating traditions into recipes so for Rosh Hashanah I try to work in apples and honey. These recipes always seem to spill over nicely into break fast too.
I came across a recipe for chicken encrusted in horseradish that was really interesting and thought I could make it my own and serve for the New Year. The combination of horseradish, honey and apples is great. Be sure to let the chicken get really dry and to room temperature so that you get that nice crispy skin too.
I also tried a new cake and am passing on my adjusted recipe. Carrot Cake is always a good thing and so is the sweet potato pie my family has been making for years. Since these two ingredients are also traditional fall fare let’s put them together in a new modern Carrot/Sweet Potato Cake. I promise both recipes will be great on your table.
I am actually making these recipes for Rosh Hashanah so no pics yet. I promise to post pics on Sunday. Better yet, send me pictures of your versions.
I wish you and your family a sweet, happy and healthy New Year!
Preheat oven to 350°.
Rinse chicken and make sure giblets are removed. Dry thoroughly and let it sit at room temperature. The drier it is the crispier the skin.
Place on rack in a roasting pan.
Stuff the chicken with lemon, garlic, shallots, dill, parsley, celery and apples. It will be full but shouldn't be tight. You can adjust the amounts evenly to make sure they all fit.
In a small bowl whisk together, the horseradish, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread all over chicken top and bottom. Make sure you get under skin, too.
Tie legs together, to keep everything in. Tuck wings under the body, for more even cooking. Cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Then turn oven up to 450° to crisp skin. Internal temperature should be between 160° and 165° and juices should run clear at the thigh. Remove from oven and tent with foil to rest. The chicken will continue to cook just a little .
Let chicken rest for 20 minutes. Carve and serve. Garnish platter with more dill, parsley and lemons.
2-4Tbs.whole milkamount depends on how thick you want your glaze.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Butter or oil a large bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
In the bowl of a stand up mixer, cream together, both sugars,, sour cream, oil, orange juice, and vanilla, until fluffy.
Mix in sweet potato, then eggs, one at a time. Try to get it as smooth as possible. Fold in carrots.
Gradually add flour until just combined. Be sure to scrape the bottom.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto rack and cool completely.
While the cake is cooling mix the glaze.
Gradually blend confectioners sugar into cream cheese. Add vanilla and then working slowly add milk, until desired consistency.
Pour glaze all over cake and garnish with nuts (if used) or carrot curls.
Ever since I wrote about S’mores, a few weeks ago, I can’t stop thinking about marshmallows.
We seem to have them in the house all the time. My younger daughter likes to freeze them and change the texture. I’ve been known to walk by the pantry and pop one in my mouth. And of course, they are standard fare for hot cocoa. We accept any excuse to put them into a recipe. I mean what would Thanksgiving be without sweet potatoes topped with marshmallow.
I was curious where these delicious little puffs come from. They were actually plant-based and used as medicine, by Egyptian royalty, to help with coughs, sore throats and wounds. If children these days knew that, can you imagine the illnesses they could come up with. In the 1800’s they discovered they could use gelatin to get the same fluffy gesture and it would cost less and use less manpower.
There are so many ways we use marshmallows all the time; s’mores, rice crisp treats, fluffernutter sandwiches, toppings for ice cream and yogurt and lots of holiday treats. A couple of years ago I shared with you how to make your own graham crackers and that was a big success. So today I thought we’d make our own marshmallows! I love that you can make a good old-fashioned white (vanilla) marshmallow or with a little creativity you can flavor them with so many fun flavors. I love chocolate or coffee flavoring but you can go to town with whatever your treat calls for or wherever your mind go.
They are actually very easy to make, but because of the setting time, you have to plan ahead. You need at least 8 hours for them to set, and you really need a good candy thermometer. The recipe given is for vanilla marshmallows, and I used two tablespoons of vanilla. If you want a different flavor I would still start with vanilla and add. There is something about the back flavor of vanilla with the gelatin that you need. Instead of 2 tablespoons of vanilla, start with 2 teaspoons and then add your other flavor. I also used honey instead of the tradition al corn syrup. I love the flavor and feel good about not using corn syrup. You could use maple syrup too, but adjust your flavoring accordingly.
If you want to make these vegetarian or vegan you can sub out the gelatin for agar agar. You can find agar agar powder in the Asian food section of most markets, specialty baking stores or online If you can only find the flakes not the powder that’s okay. Agar agar powder measures exactly the same as gelatin. Agar agar flakes – 1 Tablespoon flakes equals 1 teaspoon powder.
The best part is you can use a kitchen torch and make these toasty just on top or you can skewer them and make traditional scores. Just remember because they are coated in powdered sugar they will caramelize really fat and there is really no way of avoiding the almost burnt marshmallow look.
Spray a 9x13 pan, lightly, with nonstick spray. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of that then spray again.
Have all your ingredients measured and ready to go.
Pour the 1/4 cup of water in a shallow dish and sprinkle gelatin over stand set aside for 10 minutes. Do not touch it.
Put the sugar, 1/2 cup water and honey in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved and starts to simmer. Using a candy thermometer, cook until 240° F. Keep an eye on it.
Meanwhile put the, now dissolved, gelatin in a stand up mixer. Once your sugar mixture reaches temperature, pour it, carefully, over the gelatin in mixer. Beat on low until well combined and not lumpy. Increase speed to high and beat until fluffy and tripled in volume (about 10 minutes).
Add the vanilla (and whatever flavoring you are using).Spray a spatula with a little nonstick spray and pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth top with spatula and set aside to set, at least 8 hours. Make sure it is in a cool place, but not refrigerated.
Whisk together confectioners sugar and cornstarch and sift onto a baking sheet of shallow dish.
Using a sharp knife cut marshmallows into 1" or 2" cubes. You can also use cookie cutters for different shapes. I would spray a little nonstick spray on them before I start.
Lightly dust marshmallows, on all sides, with the confectioners sugar mix.
Store marshmallows, divided by parchment paper, in an airtight container. They should keep for about 4 days.
Use a kitchen torch to "toast" marshmallows.
If you want a different flavor I would still start with vanilla and add. There is something about the back flavor of vanilla with the gelatin that you need. Instead of 2 tablespoons of vanilla, start with 2 teaspoons and then add your other flavor. I also used honey instead of the tradition al corn syrup. I love the flavor and feel good about not using corn syrup. You could use maple syrup too, but adjust your flavoring accordingly.
If you want to make these vegetarian or vegan you can sub out the gelatin for agar agar. You can find agar agar powder in the Asian food section of most markets, specialty baking stores or online If you can only find the flakes not the powder that's okay. Agar agar powder measures exactly the same as gelatin. Agar agar flakes - 1 Tablespoon flakes equals 1 teaspoon powder.
Friday was National Waffle Day. For me waffles always seem to evoke an occasion. Most of us don’t make them at home because you need special equipment. At most restaurants waffles are “dressed up”. They are decorated in layers of whipped cream and strawberries. There are drizzles of caramel or chocolate sauce. My personal favorite is chocolate chips and whipped cream.
My family loves waffles so I did buy a waffle maker and away we went. The batter is slightly different from pancake batter because it has a little more fat in it. Think about those fluffy yet crispy waffles, that’s because of the fat. When we first got it I made waffles often. That waned not too long later because it does take some extra effort to clean. Remember, waffles mean celebration.
When I started writing Cake for Breakfast, I knew I had to honor waffles somehow. Introducing Waffle Cake with Maple Syrup Glaze. This cake is all the things you love in a waffle and is a stacked cake which means you get more waffle and maple glaze for your fork. My secret flavor is Malted Milk Powder. Its one of those flavors that people can’t pinpoint but makes it tastes sooo good.
I made this cake in my standard waffle maker. It is really better made in a Belgian waffle or larger thicker waffle maker. My layers were a little too thin for a dramatic effect. The flavor and crispy fluffiness is all there, I just think it looks prettier with thick layers and sitting taller. The maple syrup glaze is out of this world! Have you ever had that whipped honey? Well that’s kind of what this is like. I like to make extra and keep the rest to schmear on toast or pound cake.
If you don’t have a large waffle maker, you can make this in cake pans. Use 9″ round pans and be sure line them with parchment and prepare with butter and flour. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek from my book.
Heat waffle iron.
Whisk together flour, milk powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of stand-up mixer, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. On a slow speed add eggs one at a time. Then add vanilla.
Stir together milk and cream. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with milks. Start and finish with flour.
Scoop batter into waffle maker in batches. Stack cakes as they are done.*
Maple Syrup Glaze
Bring syrup, butter and milk to a boil, over a medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Gradually beat in confectioners sugar with a handheld mixer, until smooth (No lumps).
When the glaze has all come together, hand stir in 1-2 Tbs. of additional maple syrup.
Pour glaze between layers* of waffles and over top, generously.
Drizzle a small amount of maple syrup over top of whole cake.
You can make this cake in 2- 9" cake round pans. You will need to line them with parchment paper and then butter and flour them as well.
Make syrup first so that you can drizzle it between layers as you make "waffles".
I have always wanted to cook with roses. For me, it started with the book “Like Water for Chocolate”, by Lara Esquivel. Definitely the book, not the movie. The part in the book when the main character is making the Quail in Rose Sauce, in my mind, I could taste every salty tear. I could smell the roses as she plucked the petals. The fragrance getting stronger with each touch of human hands. I imagined the slightly bitter taste that each diner experienced as they bit into their meal.
Ever since, I’ve tried to work with roses. I’ve tried rose-water, rose jelly and even real rose petals. I always seemed to be heavy-handed and believe m, you can have too many roses!
Whenever I have the chance I try rose flavored foods. The flavor, when done right, is so delicate. I love just the hint of floral sweetness. Too much and it can be bitter, or taste like someones perfume. Yuck! Too little and you don’t know it’s there.
I have friends that learned to cook, growing up in Iran. Their ability to balance flavors, seems to be in their DNA. When I studied writing and cooking, in France; I could sense that years of study and apprentice were responsible for their balance.
Recently, while purging my pantry, I came across rose-water and rose jelly. I remembered enthusiastically purchasing them and I was going to use them right then. Ha! The other day I was t my local farmer’s market and overheard a woman buying rose petals to decorate a cake. These all conspired to make me want to try to cook with roses, again. So today I present to you a rose scented Pavlova!
Pavlovas are relatively easy to prepare and I like the wow factor the serving. Because of the color of this recipe it is ideal for Christmas or Valentines Day. It is so good, though, you should serve it today!
Preheat oven to 400° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Trace a 9" circle on the parchment paper, and turn over so pencil side is down.
In a small bowl mix cornstarch and vinegar until smooth. This helps make the pavlova the perfect blend of crispy and creamy.
Whisk eggs and salt in large CLEAN bowl (You can use a stand up mixer or handheld electric mixer), until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar, alternating with vinegar mixture. "Meringue" should be thick, smooth and shiny. Fold in rose water and pomegranate seeds, if using
Mound meringue mixture inside center of circle on parchment. You can do this in layers to get more height. I like to make a well in center and create swirls. This is pretty and will hold the whipped cream and decorations.
Turn oven down to 200° and bake meringue for at least 2 hours. It should be crispy when tapped and have a firm bottom. The bottom should not feel damp or soggy. Turn oven off but leave meringue in, until cool.
While meringue is cooling, make whipped cream.
In a cool mixing bowl pour 1 pint heavy whipping cream. Use an electric mixer and start beating, when it starts to bubble and get a little thicker add 2 Tbs. confectioners sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.
To assemble, mound whipped cream in well of meringue. Sprinkle with additional pomegranate seeds and drizzle with pomegranate molasses.
Chewy, creamy, crispy and sweet. Add the word chocolate and I’ve probably given away that I am talking about S’mores. These delectable treats evoke so many great memories. Whether you made s’mores at sleep away camp or even camping with your family, most of us have a story to tell about making s’mores. I’ve always been a traditional girl with Hershey’s, marshmallow and graham crackers. But I’ve heard tell of s’mores made with Reese’s and Rolos!
When my daughters were younger it was such a special treat to make s’mores at home. We even had a special s’mores making burner and dish. As they got older we would make them in the fire place and when it was too hot to have a fire, we’d make a “dip” in a cast iron skillet. I’d layer Hershey bars and marshmallows in my cast iron skillet and let it melt and brown in the oven. Then I’d serve it with graham crackers. Excellent!
So, when I heard that August 10th is S’mores Day, I was all in. The ideas were endless. How about a S’mores pizza with a chewy graham cracker crust, melted chocolate sauce and brûléed marshmallow topping? I thought about making popcorn and dusting it with graham cracker crumbs and tossing in mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. There were even a couple of cookie options, marshmallow stuffed chocolate chip cookies, anyone?
After looking at so many recipes, I decided on Molten S’mores Lava Cakes and Chocolate Kiss Cookies with Graham Flour and Marshmallows. When I was making the cookies, my thought had been to use my kitchen torch to “toast” the marshmallows and melt the Kiss. I ran out of butane, so, had to go to plan B. I turned on the broiler and put the cookies in for minute and a half, for the first batch. They are the nice golden-brown ones pictured. During the second batch, I got on the phone and, we’ll, I got distracted. I got the cookies out before they were totally burnt. But guess what, in, family we always let our marshmallows set on fire anyway. The second batch tasted just like that perfect burnt marshmallow flavor.
The lava cakes were fascinating to me. When I started my research for recipes, I was surprised to find that it’s not a two-step process, it’s just ingredients. They are also pretty easy to make. There are always lessons to be learned. My ramekins were a little too big; so, the regular size marshmallow I used wasn’t fully covered. I would say to err on the side of too small and just make more. I also think I would use a handful of the mini marshmallows, rather than the regular size. I also cooked them for the full 12 minutes and then cooled for 1 minute. Everyone’s oven is different, but for mine I think I’d bake for 10 minutes then cool for 1 minutes. You really want a good lava ooze.
Summer is, sadly, winding down. However, you decide to celebrate S’mores day, make a special summer 2018 memory!
Preheat oven to 350°
Cream together butter and both sugars. Add egg and vanilla until blended.
In a separate bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Mix dry mixture into butter mixture until a workable dough forms. Scoop 1 inch balls onto a lined cookie sheet and give them a soft pat down.
Bake cookies for 7 minutes until top is golden brown, do not overcook here. Remove from oven and push a marshmallow, sticky side down, into each cookie. Return to oven and bake another minute or two. Remove from oven again and top each marshmallow with a Kiss.
Here is where I would have liked to use my kitchen torch to brown the marshmallow and melt the chocolate. You can do this or put the cookies under the broiler for a moment or two. WATCH THEM, or they will burn.
Preheat oven to 450°.
Butter and lightly flour 4 6-ounce ramekins.
Melt together butter and chocolate. You can do this in a microwave at 15 second intervals, until melted or over a double boiler. Let cool slightly.
In a medium bowl beat together eggs, egg yolks, sugar and salt, until thick and pale yellow.
Temper the egg and chocolate mixtures by first stirring, quickly, a tablespoon or two or egg into chocolate mixture and then a tablespoon or two of chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Then quickly whisk remaining chocolate into egg mixture and add flour until combined.
Place one tbs. of marshmallows in the bottom of each ramekin and then spoon batter, evenly into each dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The sides should be firm but the center should still shake a little.
Remove from oven and cool for 1 minute. Carefully, they will be hot, cover each ramekin with a dessert plate and turn over to unfold the cake.
Garnish each cake with a rim of graham cracker crumbs.
We are at the peak of watermelon season and I am loving it! My husband buys a large watermelon, almost, every week. Some slices end up in the freezer. They are way better than any sugar filled popsicle (with no yucky food coloring). It’s great because you can walk by and easily grab a few pieces. I also saw online that someone made melon balls and rolled them in red gelatin then froze them. I haven’t tried these but imagine they are similar to frozen grapes. Maybe instead of gelatin you can use a superfine or sanding sugar.
Occasionally, I do run into a too big watermelon and the waste kills me. So this year I have been working on ways to use up watermelon. Some of the great ways I’ve tried include:
Watermelon Bruschetta, I used the slices as my crostini and topped with burrata and whatever fresh herb I had available. The tarragon was a knockout with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and olive oil with a pinch of flaky sea salt. I made a watermelon gazpacho, inspired by a Tyler Florence recipe, that you an find online. I went with sweeter undertones and used Vidalia onion and White Balsamic Vinegar. I also used tarragon again here instead of dill. I have a lot of tarragon in my garden this summer.
The two standouts for me I share below. One is a Watermelon Sangria and the other is Watermelon Guacamole. The Sangria is SO refreshing and the guacamole is surprising. I love the texture that watermelon brings. It’s crispy like jicama and adds a sweetness too. The Cotija cheese sprinkles on top add the perfect saltiness, too.
Please let me know how you like, your successes and failures. Enjoy!
Before I go to deep into this recipe, let me tell you I often use store bought Pico de Gallo in place of the cilantro & jalapeño and onion. It's up to you because of the tomato, but it works just fine. Then you can just adjust your salt & pepper.
Cut avocado in half and remove seed. Scoop the flesh into medium bowl, Smash with a fork until desired consistency. I like mine a little chunky.
Add the onion, cilantro, jalapeño and lime juice and stir well. Fold in watermelon and adjust seasoning with salt & pepper. Garnish with feta. Serve with tortilla chips.
My family goes crazy for Mexican Street Corn. It is served all over the Southwest, usually as a full cob of corn with a skewer tucked into one end. This makes it easier to eat while walking around. We will order it off the cob to ensure that every bit of flavor is devoured. We want each bite to have that tang of cotija cheese and sweetness of the corn. We love the acidity that the lime juice adds and that final hit of heat from the chile powder.
How do all those flavors come together? Well, the corn is grilled and then basted with a mixture of mayo and sour cream, while it is still hot and quickly rolled in copious amounts of cotija cheese. A quick squeeze of lime and sprinkle of chile powder and it is ready!
Is your mouth watering yet? In California, you can get this wonderful treat all year long, but it really is best in summer when corn is at its sweetest. I wanted to find a way to have that flavor on my dinner table all the time, without relying on fresh corn. Popcorn! Let’s put all those flavors together and encrust a piece of halibut. Yeah! I love the crunch that comes with the popcorn and the subtle flavors of fresh halibut and its light taste with a bit of brininess.
See the notes below on how to get the flavor into popcorn if you aren’t interested in fish.