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.
I remember when Everything Bagels first hit the scene. A New York bagel store employee was sweeping out the oven and instead of tossing the seeds and seasoning crumbs, he through them on top of a plain bagel. He thought he was being cute when he called it the “everything”. They were amazing! All the bagel flavors you love were now in one bagel. Ahh, bliss! And if you toast them, forget it, HEAVEN! So imagine how excited I was when Trader Joes created Everything but the Bagel Seasoning. I love using this flavor blend and put it on, well, everything.
The blend is made up of sesame seeds, sea salt flakes, dried minced garlic, dried minced onion, black sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Some of the great ways I’ve used this blend are: stir it into cream cheese, salad topping, stirred into scrambled eggs, a small shake on top of sour cream in soup or a baked potato.
My two favorite ways to use this blend are to stir about 1/4 cup into latke (potato pancake) batter right before frying them up. We like our latkes extra crispy and this seasoning brings out all the best flavors of the potato. If you do this adjust your salt down, or even none. This seasoning has plenty of salt. The other great recipe is to use it as a chicken coating.
Chicken is the great blank canvas of food. I mean it was just made for sauces and anything that adds flavor. The recipe below is simple and quick. I make a dredge tray of seasoned flour, egg white and Everything but the Bagel seasoning. You can use your own recipe for the seasoned flour. Remember to use little or no salt.
One other little tip. Some of you struggle on knowing when chicken is done when you bake it. The best way is to use a meat thermometer to 160°. However, 20 minutes per pound at preheated 325° oven is a great rule of thumb. You can cover the chicken foil half way through if it is getting too brown.
Everything Seasoned Chicken
Juicy, baked chicken with all your favorite tastes of an everything bagel.
Preheat oven to 325°.
Combine flour and all spices, except Everything Bagel, together in a zipped plastic bag. Give it a good mix now and right before you use it. You don't want all the flavors to settle to the bottom.
Set up your dredging station (I use shallow soup bowls). You want the first one to be the seasoned flour. The second should be your egg whites and the third is the Everything seasoning.
I get my chicken good and dry with paper towels and then let it sit out about 20 minutes before starting the dredging process. I also keep one hand for dry and one for wet.
Start with dipping chicken in flour. Give it an even coat and shake off excess so you don't have clumps. Then a quick dip in egg whites and let excess drip off, then right into the everything seasoning and into a butter baking dish.
Into the preheated, hot oven and bake for 20 minutes per pound. You are probably at just about a pound with 4 chicken breasts so check at 20 minutes. It's okay to cut into one breast, if you don't have a thermometer. You want the juices to run clear.
Serve with a green vegetable and rice or potato. Enjoy!
I’ve been making it, decorating it, giving it away and eating it. So much so that I almost forgot to write about it.
Seriously, I have this great calendar that tells me what “DAY” it is each day. Apparently, July 20th was Cake Day. As I have mentioned, a lot, I love cake. So why wouldn’t I bake and write about it? The 10thAnniversary of the Hadassah group I belong to and my daughter’s best friend’s birthday also happened to be around that date, so I baked the fabulous chocolate cake written about in April 2017 and I made a wonderful Carrot Cake.
Let me tell you, Carrot Cake comes with a lot of opinions. Do you used nuts? What kind of nuts? Do you do a cream cheese frosting, and do you put butter in yours? In my house you would NEVER put fruit in something baked. In other homes you might add pineapple chunks to your carrot cake. All this to say that even though I happen to love my recipe, make it your own.
Mine is “original” after years of adapting all the family recipes and magazine recipes I’ve tried. I used to buy the pre-shredded carrots, and they work fine. Now I like to make a really fine shred in my own processor. I like the taste of fresh carrot, but I don’t want a big piece to wander into my bite of cake. I do put a stick of butter in my frosting. I think it adds a richness. If you want to add nuts, I’d go with pecans. Walnuts are also a good addition, but almonds might be nice too.
See what I’m doing here? My recipe is a great base. If you make it as is, you will love it. But make it your own and start a new tradition. Most of all ENJOY!!!!
I am in a purging mood! We recently did some remodel work on our house. You know how that goes and how much packing and unpacking I was doing, almost, every day. It was a good opportunity to get rid or donate “stuff” we weren’t really using anymore.
A good friend pointed out to me that I have cookbooks, literally, in every room in my house. Some of you might put the old People Magazine in the bathroom, for light reading, I put cookbooks! So, when this same friend suggested I make a library of cookbooks, in my office, I was all in. Of course, that meant hours of deciding which would stay and which would go. It also meant getting reacquainted with some of my older “friends” and saying goodbye to the friends you didn’t really keep in touch with.
So, my task began. The first things that went were the cookbooks, put together by my kids elementary or pre-schools. I asked myself were there any recipes in them that I couldn’t just pick up the phone and ask for if I really wanted them. I did go through those books just to make sure. The next group to go were the “souvenir” books. I bought cookbooks at restaurants as I traveled across the country and some were really good. Others, I bought because I loved the meal and really believed I would recreate it at home. Well, not so much. And so, the purging project went.
I finally had whittled it down to one pile of books that I really wanted to go through and spend some time with. I’m so glad I did. There were some great finds. One of the books I saved is “Raising the Salad Bar”, by Catherine Walthers. I initially bought this book in 2010, after a friend used it more than once, during my week-long visit to her summer home. I admit I was skeptical when I heard it was a salad cookbook, but each salad was more memorable than the last.
Thumbing through this book was like reminiscing with an old friend. The pictures were beautiful, and the recipes reminded me of a glorious summer on Cape Cod. I love the way Catherine has organized the recipes so that the reader learns to think about salads more openly. Each salad has a dressing attached that brilliantly balances the fat and acid with your fresh greens and grains. Additionally, she has a whole section on dressings.
It has been so hot here in L.A. that I made the Couscous Salad with Lemon-Soaked Grilled Chicken for dinner, last week. It was perfect! Fresh and lemony with just the right amount of smoky grill flavor. My family loves lemon but with a little sweeter undertone than this recipe originally gave. I added a little brown sugar to the “marinade”. I also added a little bit of chopped mint at the end to add some brightness. And by the way, go for the asiago cheese. It has a similar flavor profile to Parmigiano but with an added smokiness.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and it reminds you to spend some time with old friends and even the new treasures.
Couscous Salad with Lemon-Soaked Grilled Chicken
Adapted from Catherine Walthers Raising the Salad Bar.
In a large bowl (I use Ziploc bags) toss chicken with garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, lemon juice and reserved rinds.
Let marinade for at least 2 hours in refrigerator, When ready to use remove from marinade and discard marinade and rinds.
Preheat grill to high heat. Grill chicken for 7 minutes first side. Remember to not move chicken to get a nice caramelized crust. Turn chicken over and cook for 5 more minutes.
Cook couscous in chicken broth according to package instructions. Test a little early. You want the couscous to be al dente. Remove from heat and drain. Leave some of the liquid (broth) in the pan and immediately add onions. Cook onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add spinach to pan and toss, lightly, over heat. Add olive oil and toss together. Occasionally toss couscous to cool.
When couscous is cooler, add garlic, parsley, lemon juice and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add salt if needed.
To serve, plate spinach then couscous and top with chicken. Sprinkle asiago cheese over top and a sprinkling of more fresh parsley. Garnish with sliced lemons or lemon zest.
Growth comes in so many forms and even when you are not looking. Recently, I overheard women talking about red velvet cake, at the farmer’s market. Okay let’s be honest, I was totally eavesdropping. Anyway, one of them was looking for beets because she wanted to make an authentic, old-fashioned red velvet cake. I said that my recipe was the best (with food coloring) and we started laughing. She asked for my recipe and I quickly said, “It’s on my blog.”.
I was inspired to make my red velvet cake too. I was in the grocery store and wanted to just confirm that I had all the ingredients. I pulled up my blog, on my phone. Wait, what? All the ingredients are carefully listed and then no directions. Ugh! This was one of my first posts with a new recipe template, and I was learning how to input everything. How many of you came here and couldn’t figure out what the heck I was thinking?
So, in the interest of accuracy, I am reposting the red-velvet cake recipe. I’ve included, in the side notes, for making it with beets, instead of food coloring. In this day and age, it is super important to make the healthy choices that feel good for you and your family. I hope you enjoy this recipe!
I’m baaaaaack! I have been feverishly working on my first cookbook, Cake for Breakfast. It’s great and I know you are going to love it. I thought maybe writing it was the hard part, but now I’m looking for an agent. This is hard. It’s a leap of faith that someone can really see who you are and hear your voice from a flat piece of paper. Once the right agent and I find each other, I will let you know when the book is coming out.
In the meantime, it’s almost July fourth and you’re probably looking for something “theme like” to serve or take to a party. I’m simply arranging a tray in the shape of an American flag using raspberries, white chocolate covered pretzels and a bowl of blueberries. It’s super easy. Just cover it with some plastic wrap and it’s totally portable.
I know it’s kitschy, but I like the idea of doing a red, white and blue item. This year my head is in a farm to table place, so I started playing with the idea of a spiralized veggie pasta salad. I stumbled on the blue, so I just kept brainstorming. I think I have come up with a great idea… Red, White, and Blue Caprese Salad.
What I love is that you can do a lot of customization on this yourself. I’m doing burrata, tomatoes and a savory blueberry sauce. You could do strawberries, a vanilla meringue, and a sweet blueberry sauce or mix it up with the strawberries and a slice of mozzarella. You’ve got a lot of options.
For serving or taking, just stack them on a platter. You can drizzle the sauce and then have some extra on the side. You can serve them on crostini or just as the stacks.
This year I am making Passover seder both nights. While that may seem daunting, I am doing a lot of it ahead of time. This is new for me. I am no martyr. I give out assignments, everyone brings and I make the recipes that are better if they don’t travel. My point is I usually do everything the day of. This year I will join legions of cooks, some that started weeks ago, and freeze and thaw.
I am making my matzoh ball soup early in the week. As long as you freeze the balls in the soup and defrost in the refrigerator, it will still be delicious. Same for the brisket, chicken, macaroons, and popovers. I can make my hard boiled eggs early in the week and even get my tables set. The only things I’ll have to do the day of is put together my seder plates and make my desserts. This year’s desserts won’t necessarily work better made ahead of time.
When going gluten-free became popular, it opened a world of recipes for Passover, too. Not all gluten-free recipes are kosher for Passover, but the flourless chocolate cake is. The one bummer of some of the flourless cakes is they tend to collapse int he middle, after baking. This year I will use that collapse to my advantage and fill with a mascarpone chantilly cream. You can dust it with some chocolate shavings or add some fresh fruit and mint for garnish. It is beautiful a tastes divine.
This cake can be made a day ahead of time. I am making this on Thursday so picture to come
Preheat oven to 350° and lightly butter springform pan and dust with extra sugar. Be sure to tap out excess.
Combine chocolate, oil and butter in heat proof bowl and place over simmering water. Water should not be touching bowl. Stir until chocolae is melted and incorporated. Remove from heat.
In a bowl whisk the 4 yolks plus 2 whole eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Temper the chocolate with the egg mixture then whisk all together, until smooth.
Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites until frothy then gradually start adding 1/2 cup of sugar. Continue beat until you have firm peaks. Fold egg whites into chocolate mix, until just incorporated. You may want to do this in two steps.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top level. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbs. sugar.
I like to put pan on a baking sheet and then bake for 35-45 minutes. The top of the cake should be cracking and the edges pulling away, slightly.
Cool completely on a wire rack. Dont worry the cake is suppose to fall inthe center.
Use an electric mixer, start beating the mascarpone then add the heavy cream and sugar. Beat until soft, cloud-like, peaks form.
Once cake is completely cooled, loosen sides of springform and remove from cake.
Mound whipped cream in center of cake and garnish with chocolate shavings or fresh fruit and mint leaves. Enjoy!
Oh, my Grandmother’s brownies! I remember and crave them still. She never made any secret about using a box mix for the brownies. I vaguely remember a Betty Crocker box. But she always made this frosting. It was more like fudge, but she wouldn’t put fudge on a brownie, or would she?
The frosting was thick and chocolatey. It had a graininess that let you know how much sugar was in the frosting, but it was so good. The whole brownie was sweet yet not cloying. My Grandmother always put nuts in her brownies., usually walnuts or pecans. I know that cooks are hesitant with nuts these days. I say give nuts a chance!
I tried many “southern” fudge frosting recipes and none matched my grandmother’s. So, I went to a good old-fashioned fudge recipe and changed it up a little.
It’s not too late for a quick Valentine’s Day bake so quickly run to the store and get your ingredients and get to it!
Follow the directions on the box for your brownies. While they are baking get started on your frosting. If you can pour the frosting over the brownies when they come out of the oven its great!