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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Home Made Pop Tarts

My kids never like pop-tarts.  Actually they have only tried the organic versions and they could take them or leave them, no burning desire to eat them.  So I thought I would try out the beloved Joanne Chang's version to see if I could turn them around.  I am always scouting for an easy to serve breakfast and with school a month away...

I tolled for the perfect pastry and delighted with my results.  Their response, "oh it's a fancy jelly sandwich".  I did not make the glaze perhaps that was my mistake?

Homemade Pop-Tarts
from Joanne Chang
For the Pâte Brisée
1 3/4 cups (245 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 egg yolks
3 Tbs. cold milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (340 grams) raspberry jam

~ Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
~ mix together the flour, sugar, and salt for 10 to 15 seconds, or until combined
 ~ scatter the butter over the top
~ mix on low speed for 1 to 11/2 minutes, or just until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and lumps of butter the size of pecans are visible throughout
~ in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk until blended
~ add to the flour mixture all at once
~ mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough just barely comes together
~ it will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.
~ dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface, then gather it together into a tight mound
~ using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top of the mound and then sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together
~ do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter
~ gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick
~ refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. (The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month)
~ when you're ready to use the dough, position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350°F
~ remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it in half
~ press each half into a rectangle
~ on a lightly floured surface, roll out each half into a 14-by-11-inch rectangle
~ using a round cookie cutter cut dough into circles and using a fork, lightly score the edges of the circles
~ brush the top surface of the entire scored rectangle with the egg
~ spoon 2 Tbs. of the jam in a mound in the center of each scored circle
~  lay the second large dough rectangle directly on top of the first
~ using fingertips, carefully press down all around each jam mound, so the pastry adhere to each other
~ place the circles, well spaced, on a baking sheet
~ bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the tops of the pastries are evenly golden brown.
~ let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for about 30 minutes
The pastries can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days

side note: I did not go for the traditional pop-tart rectangle due the possible excessive crust.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lemongrass Bars with Coconut Shortbread Crust

Lemons sweet and sour, we can't get enough!  Unfortunate, our neighbor’s trees ripen in November, so we move on to our lemon grass.

Our lemon grass...growing like a weed and I am happy.  
Easy lemon grass growing guide:
o       buy some lemon grass from the market
o       stick it in about 2 inches of water
o       watch and wait for roots to form
o       plant in your garden
o       share with your friends because it grows fast

The plant pictured above was just one shoot and now look at it now
and I removed four shoots already.

Lemongrass Bars with Coconut Shortbread Crust
from Bon Appétit | March 2011
Ivy Manning
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cups sugar
3 lemongrass stalks, bottom 4 inches only, tough outer layer removed, finely chopped (scant 1/2 cup)
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Powdered sugar
lemon zest

For crust:
~ preheat oven to 350°F
~ butter 13 x 9 x 2- inch metal baking pan
~ using electric mixer, beat flour, coconut, powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in large bowl until well blended, 30 seconds
~ add butter; beat on low speed until moist clumps form
 ~ press dough onto bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan
 ~ bake crust until golden (edges will be darker), about 25 minutes
For filling:
~  meanwhile, place sugar and lemongrass in processor; pulse until lemongrass is finely ground, about 1 minute
~  add lemon juice; process until well blended, about 30 seconds
~  add eggs; process to blend, 10 to 15 seconds
~  add flour and pinch of salt; pulse until smooth
~ reduce oven temperature to 325°F
~ pour filling over hot crust; bake until filling is firm, 22 to 23 minutes
~ cool in pan on rack
~ cut lemongrass bars lengthwise into 4 strips, then crosswise into 6 pieces
~ dust bars with powdered sugar and lemon zest

from our garden: lemon grass

Lemon-Glazed Banana Scones with Crystallized Ginger


We always have browning bananas in our midst so, I am always looking for ways to unload these forgotten jewels.  This recipe comes with a bonus!  I finally opened the crystallized ginger that has been sitting around forever.
Click here for the original recipe at and have fun at their site by playing with the “create your own feature”.  We enjoy experimenting with the Pop feature – our new daily must do.

Lemon-Glazed Banana Scones with Crystallized Ginger
from Nicole Rees
Fine Living Magazine
For the scones
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2-1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated fresh lemon zest
3/8 tsp. sea salt salt
2-3/4 oz. (5-1/2 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 small ripe (but not mushy) banana, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 Tbs. minced crystallized ginger
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. heavy cream; more for brushing
Coarse white sanding sugar (optional)

For the glaze
3 oz. (3/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar
1-1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. (1 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
Pinch table salt

~ position a rack in the top third of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F
~ stack two rimmed baking sheets and line the top one with parchment
~ in a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt
~ with your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until a few pea-size lumps remain
~  stir in the banana and the ginger
~  add the cream; with a fork, gradually stir until the mixture just comes together
~ turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat gently into a 7-inch circle about 1 inch high
~ using a chef’s knife or bench knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges
~ transfer to the baking sheet, spacing the wedges 1 to 2 inches apart
~ brush the tops with heavy cream and sprinkle liberally with sanding sugar (if using)
~ bake until the tops are golden, 19 to 25 minutes, rotating halfway through baking for even browning
~ transfer the scones to a wire rack and cool slightly, 3 to 4 minutes
~ glaze the scone
~ in a small bowl, stir the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, butter, and salt until smooth
~ drizzle the warm scones with the glaze
~ serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Moroccan Carrot-Chickpea Salad

The salad days of summer:  little time and tons of activities.  I found this recipe while flipping through Rachel Rays Magazine.  Talk about visual overload, her magazine appears to be on steroids.

 Moroccan Carrot-Chickpea Salad
 from Rachel Ray's Magazine

1 lemon, juiced and zested
1-teaspoon coriander powder
1/8-teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4-cup olive oil, extra virgin
20 ounces carrots, coarsely grated
2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 cup cashews, roasted unsalted chopped
1/3-cup cilantro leaf, chopped
1/3-cup mint leaf, chopped

~ in a large bowl, combine the lemon zest, juice, coriander, cayenne and salt
~ whisk in the olive oil
~ stir in the carrots, chickpeas, cashews, cilantro and mint
~ toss to coat. Let stand at least 5 minutes.

from our garden: lemon,cilantro and mint

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lao-Style Chicken Baguette Sandwiches


Robotics, dance class, library program and Target's 90% of summer sale, oh my!  So when I spotted this recipe, I thought of Food TV Great Food Truck Race and the Nom Nom truck.
The recipe calls for watercress but my one stop shop didn't have it so I opted for baby arugula and fearful of the spiciness I eyed the ingredient for the Chile-Garlic sauce.
First question as they sat down, "What is in it? Take out the tomatoes".  "But I just picked the tomatoes from our garden."  Another one agrees to try it as is and the third on demands that she makes her own sandwich.  Sold after the first bite.  "Yum", cried out in unison.  "I want more sauce."  "My stomach is dancing!!!"

Lao-Style Chicken Baguette Sandwiches with Watercress
from Sebastien Rubis
 Chile-Garlic Sauce
1/8 cup grapeseed oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/8 cup Korean coarse red pepper powder (I used chili pepper powder)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

~ heat a small skillet over moderate heat
~ add the oil
~ add the shallot rings and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes
~ with a slotted spoon, transfer the shallot rings to a bowl
~ add the garlic to the hot oil and cook over moderately low heat, stirring a few times, until golden, about 1 minute
~ with a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to the bowl
~ add the ginger to the skillet and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes
~ add the red pepper powder and sugar and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds
~ scrape the sauce into the bowl
~ stir in the fish sauce

1-tablespoon vegetable oil
2 boneless chicken breast halves, (6 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chile-Garlic Sauce
Four 6-inch lengths of baguette, split and toasted
1 small bunch baby organic argula
2 medium organic tomatoes, sliced
1 cup coarsely shredded organic carrots

~ heat a medium skillet
~ heat the oil
~ season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet, skin side down. Cook over moderately high heat until 4 minutes
~ reduce the heat to moderate
~ turn the chicken breasts over and cook until white throughout, about 5 minutes longer
~ transfer the chicken breasts to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes  
~ slice the chicken crosswise 1/3 inch thick
~ spread the chile-garlic sauce on the cut sides of the baguettes and spread mayonnaise on top 
~ fill the sandwiches with the arugula, chicken, tomatoes and carrots and serve  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Apple Turnovers

As I was making this time consuming delight, I thought to myself  Trader Joe's puff pastry would be the fast and easy way.  However, I must learn pastry so I trudged on.  The final verdict, very tasty - needed more sugar on top - too much dough in the corners, so I adjusted the recipe.  We did like the apple juices as the wash.  It gave a tang to the crust and I hate eggs so, when ever I can I avoid and replace.  They all requested this fine recipe again.

 Apple Turnover
from Rose Levy Beranbaum
The Pie and Pastry Bible

Pastry for a two-crust 9-inch pie
 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
2 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons pastry flour or 2 1/4 cups (dip and sweep method) bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt (for savory recipes, use 1 1/2 times the salt)
5 to 7 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar Optional
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (if not using, double the salt)

~ divide the butter into two parts, about two thirds to one third:
~ 4.5 ounces and 2.5 ounces (9 tablespoons and 5 tablespoons)
~ cut the butter into 3/4-inch cubes
~ wrap each portion of butter with plastic wrap, refrigerate the larger amount and freeze  the smaller for at least 30 minutes
~ place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Food processor method:
~ place the flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine
~ set the bag aside
~ add the larger amount of butter cubes to the flour and process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal
~ add the remaining frozen butter cubes and pulse until all of the frozen butter is the size of peas. (Toss with a fork to see it better.)
~ add the lowest amount of the ice water and the vinegar and pulse 6 times
 ~ pinch a small amount of the mixture together between your fingers
~ if it does not hold together, add half the remaining water and pulse 3 times
 ~ try pinching the mixture again. If necessary, add the remaining water, pulsing 3 times to incorporate it
~ the mixture will be in particles and will not hold together without being pinched.
~spoon the mixture into the plastic bag
~ holding both ends of the bag opening with you fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag, with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled
~ wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc (or discs) and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight

Refrigerated, up to 2 days; frozen, up to 3 months.

Apple Turnover
14 oz organic apples - cored, peeled and cut into bit size pieces
¼ cup (50 grams) sugar
1 ¾ t non-modified gmo free cornstarch
1t lemon zest
2t fresh squeezed lemon juice
1t ground cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
1 T unsalted butter
½ t vanilla extract
Muscovado sugar

~ in a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and salt and toss to mix
~ allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours
~ transfer the fruit to a colander suspended over a microwave safe bowl to catch the liquid
~ add the butter to the bowl with the liquid and microwave 2 minutes on high heat
~ cool 10 minutes
~ add vanilla extract to cooled liquid
~ toss the fruit with the cornstarch
~ pour the liquid over the apples and toss
~ divide the dough into 10 equal pieces (50 grams each)
~ flour your surface and the top of dough
~ roll our each piece 1/8 inch 
~ cut into a circle ( my triangles had too much dough on the corners)
~ place apple pieces in the middle of circle (do not discard excess liquid)
~ seal boarder with your finger or pastry wheel
~ place turnovers on a parchment lined baking sheet
~ refrigerate  1 hour or freeze 30 minutes
~ preheat oven with baking stone 20 minutes before baking 
~ oven rack on lowest position
~ brush turnovers with excess apple liquid
~ sprinkle with sugar
~ cut steam vent on top of each turnover
~ bake 20 to 30 minutes
~ eat warm

for full pie dough method see epicurious

from our garden: apples


Chorizo, Red Pepper, and Potato Galette with Arugula

Yesterday, I sat with a stack of magazines as my car's oil was changed.  Sweating as I ripping out pages of interesting recipes and planning a small plates feast. We need refreshing food in the blazing hot humid desert.  Vegetables cool and crisp, small plates the perfect solution to the aggravating weather.  

Fabulous flavor and so quick to throw together and I might add, most impressive looking.  Well mine not so impressive, but after 2 hours at the auto shop, I had my car aligned as well, every wanted food so I just smacked it together.  I micro'd the potatoes and roasted the pepper over my gas flame.
Chorizo, Red Pepper, and Potato Galette with Arugula
from Sunset Magazine

1 sheet puff pastry
3oz+ Basque-style sheep's-milk cheese or manchego, thinly sliced
3oz+ Spanish-style vegetarian chorizo broken up into bite size pieces
1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cooked and thinly sliced
1 large roasted organic red bell peppers, thinly sliced and patted dry
2 cups loosely packed organic baby arugula
1t sherry vinegar
1/2t extra-virgin olive oil

~ preheat oven to 425°
~ lay out a sheet of parchment paper
~ roll puff pastry to 1/4" thickness
~ set on a rimless baking sheet.
~ leaving a 2-in. border, scatter cheese, chorizo, potatoes, and peppers over dough
~ fold dough edges over filling
~ bake until crust is golden and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes
~ toss arugula with vinegar and oil in a small bowl until coated
~ scatter over galette
~ cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bubble Gum Gelato ~~ Bubble Gum Ice Cream

Summer Serendipity 
When we venture to Baskin Robbins my youngest always orders bubblegum ice cream.  I have to admit in my younger days I did the same.  The perfect double treat that lasts way beyond the creamy ice cream.  Since we are now make our own gelato, sorbet and ice cream the little birds chirped, "bubblegum ice cream...bubblegum ice cream."  Ok, ok but I need to develop a new recipe since the recipe I tried last year was an utter failure and huge mess.  That recipe calls for you to melt the gum into the base.  What a huge mess!  First I needed bubble gum extract which is not something you find in your local grocery store, lucky for them we happened upon Surfas Inc., restaurant supply and gourmet food store, on our trip to Los Angeles. Where I found bubble gum extract.  I dragged my husband around the store for over an hour and he kindly put his business card in the drawing for a vitmix blender, I am eagerly awaiting their call ;-)
cream base and gum
the extract is bright pink, but the color was lost and I did not want to add food coloring
a natural option beet juice

gummmmmmmm yummmmmmmm

Bubble Gum Gelato
base from Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto
recipe from me

2 cups organic whole milk
1 cup organic heavy cream
4 large organic egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2t bubble gum extract
glorious gum I used 5 boxes of Chicklets and 5 double bubble pieces cut into smaller pieces as pictured above

~ in a heavy bottom sauce pan combine milk and cream
~ place over medium-low heat
~ stir occasionally until temperature reaches 170 degrees  and tiny bubbles start to form
~ meanwhile put egg yolks in a round medium size pyrex and whisk until smooth
~ add sugar to yolks and whisk until thick and pale
~ temper your egg yolks by taking about 1/2 cup of hot milk/cream mixture and slowly pour into yolks while whisking yolks...keep it moving or you will end up with scrambled eggs
~ continue adding about 1/2 cup at a time slowly until you have added about 1 1/2 to 2 cups
~ pour egg mixture into remaining milk/cream mixture in pan
~ cook over low heat stirring frequently until mixture reaches 185 degrees (do not boil)
~ pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer back into pyrex
~ add 2 /2 t bubble gum extract
~ cool and place in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight
~ place in ice cream maker and freeze according to manufactures directions
~ 2 minutes before end of ice cream cycle add chopped gum

Everyone loved it even my most finicky husband!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hearty Chicken Curry with Potatoes

While I am cooking my oldest enters the kitchen, "mmm, what smells so good?"  
Recipes from the Far East have it all.  Fragrant spices, vegetables and protein making the perfect meal.  Best of all the health benefits from a fabulous meal.

Hearty Chicken Curry with Potatoes
 from Madhur Jaffrey's Far Eastern Cookery

6 coriander pods
6 whole ground cloves
2 sticks of cinnamon
2T fennel seeds
2t ground cumin
4T ground coriander seeds
1 ½ t cayenne pepper
1T paprika
4 1 inch cubes of fresh ginger
3 large garlic cloves
4 medium onions
4 lbs. chicken pieces
3 to 4 potatoes
1/4 cups of safflower oil
2t sea salt
1 can coconut milk
handful fresh mint

~put the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and cumin into a food processor fitted with a metal blade and grind as finely as possible
~ empty bowl
~ add the coriander, ground red pepper, paprika and 8T of water mix to a thick paste
~ peel ginger, garlic and 3 of the onions and chop coarsely 
~ peel and finely slice the forth onion and set aside
~ combine the chopped onions, ginger and garlic in an blender together with about 4T of water, blend to smooth paste
~ skin the chicken and cut with poultry shears into serving pieces
~ cut the potatoes into 1 inch cubes and put in a bowl of water
~ pour oil in a large wide pan over medium high heat
~ when oil is hot add sliced onions and fry until onion is golden brown
~ put in the paste from the blender and the spice paste
~ stir fry for 10-12 minutes or until the mixture is well fried and dark in color
~ put in 3 cups of water, the chicken, and drained potatoes and salt
~ stir and bring to a simmer
~ cover and lower the heat simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender
~ add the coconut milk and stir and cook for another minute 
~ remove some of the oil
~ coarsely chop the mint leaves and stir them in

Braised Lima Bean

  I really like lima beans so, when I spotted this recipe I flew into action and it is delicious and easy.

 Braised Lima Beans
from Madhur Jaffrey
Far Eastern Cookery

2 chives
2 1/2 cups frozen baby lima beans
3T safflower oil
1/4t sea salt
1 cup organic chicken stock
1/2t sugar
1+T sesame oil

~ cut chives into very small pieces using kitchen shears 
~ defrost lima beans in warm water
~ warm large cast iron skillet over high heat
~ add oil
~ when oil is hot add the lima beans
~ stir for 30 seconds
~ add salt, stock and sugar
~ cover and cook on high heat for 6-7 minutes or until beans are just tender
~ remove lid and boil away all of the liquid
~ add chives and sesame oil
~ toss and serve

Monarch Butterflies ~~ Life In The Garden

Continuing with yesterday's garden theme, we are so excited...we are the proud helpers of Monarch Butterflies.  It all started many years ago when we went to a plant sale.  Below the tables filled with containers of plants, growing in the dirt was a lonely plant.  The manager offered it to use for free.  Really who can turn down free?  We brought it home and planted it in our garden knowing nothing about it.  Soon it died back, but managed to seed in several areas in our garden.  Since it was pretty we thought OK.  Well about 3 years ago we noticed a caterpillar eating the plant and did a little internet investigation.  Wow, we thought Monarch caterpillar.  We watched and studied it daily and delighted when we found a cocoon in the place of the caterpillar.  Soon we saw a butterfly.   Since then the plant has spread across our backyard and managed to start in our front yard as well.  Twice a year we are the breeding grounds for Monarch's with the numbers growing every year.  We spotted so many caterpillars this year the kids estimate between 30 to 50.  

Looking back the Monarch's came when we rid ourselves of pest control.  We used pest control because of our fear of black widows with little kids; however, we learned to fear the pest sprays and how to smash black widows.  We now find ourselves not only the stop over for Monarch's but also funny preying mantises, lady bugs and many other helpful insects and just a FYI even though we had a pest service we always found black widows alive and well in our backyard.
the yellow you see actually is the most 
beautiful gold like 24 karat
as the butterfly develops the chrysalis turns black

they always stretch their wings on our pool fence

munch munch munch

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

mid June garden

So much for global warming, we had the most wonderfully cool June until the last week and we waved good-bye to daytime temps below 100.  Due to the cool temps (upper 80's) everything took so long to ripen.  Finally, we have figs and horrid humidity.  We look to the gray cloudy sky only to see the rain clouds blow away leaving us high and dry.  We thirst for a wild desert thunderstorm.

little watermelon


corn and squash

newest addition limequat

my favorite plums

more plums




hot and spicy peppers

jujubes I have no idea when to pick them or eat them

Mexican Bird of Paradise

cardoon Gobbo di Nizzia

 Thai red roselle and molten fire amaranth

tarahumra popping sorghum


still developing as well Asian Pears, eggplant and passion fruit
ripe and ready tomatoes 
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