Posts filed under 'Holiday Ideas'
If you're entertaining and need something green to snack upon, here are some lovely and simple spreads to put out with carrots or crackers of your choice. Radishes offer a gorgeous color contrast to these verdant springtime dips.
Homemade dips and spread are great make-ahead appetizers. Any leftovers are perfect for vegetarian sandwiches. I love how these dips have variations of green color.
Our friend Becky of The Organic Dish in Boulder shared her green pea hummus with us a while back. Kimberly has made Becky's recipe with 1/2 green peas and 1/2 edamame and happily reports that it was super yummy. I have also made it with fresh mint and no tahini with equally refreshing, delicious results.
This lima bean skordalia was inspired by one I bought at Market Hall in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, CA. Like the green pea hummus, it's easy to make and yummy. Fava bean puree takes a bit more time as you need to shell the fava beans.
Lima Bean "Skordalia" with Feta
1 bag frozen lima beans
Juice from 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp., more to taste)
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp freshly chopped oregano
4 to 6 Tlbs. best quality EVVO
Salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces Feta cheese (I recommend a French Sheep's Feta), crumbled
Cover the lima beans,and 4 cloves of garlic with water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let limas cool in the water.
Strain off the water, reserving at least 1/2 a cup for adding to the puree later. Place the beans in the bowl of a food processor.
Add the garlic, oregano, lemon juice and the EVVO. Process until smooth, adding some of the hot water to make the puree smooth. Remove to your serving dish and stir in the crumbled feta. Season with salt and pepper.
Fava Beans Puree
This recipe is adapted from the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. This puree has always been a harbinger of summer for me. Fava beans are very earthy, do not try and make this with the canned variety. You will be disappointed.
2 lbs. fresh fava beans, parboiled, cooled in iced water and shelled
Splash of dry white wine
1 small leek, white part sliced very thinly
1/4 cup EVVO (preferably a different one from the lima bean skordalia, something fruity like Puget from France.
2 cloves garlic
1/4 of a bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large pan under medium to low heat, add the leek and cook until soft. Add the minced garlic and fresh thyme and bay leaf. Now add the shelled fava beans and splash of white wine.
Once you can smash the favas with the back of a spoon easily, remove from heat. You can now either smash the mixture with the implement of your choice or remove the bay leaf and place the beans in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Adjust seasoning and serve.
June 11th, 2011
This is one of my favorite recipes for steamed or roasted asparagus. It's perfect for a spring brunch. This would also be delicious as a Meatless Monday dinner item alongside a nice salad and roasted potatoes.
Asparagus Salad with Almonds, Eggs and Parsley with a Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard (Dijon will do too but whole grain is much prettier)
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Capers, chopped roughly
2 Anchovies(not packed in salt, but marinated), chopped (optional)
1/4 cup Sherry Vinegar
(You can use any vinegar you like, infact fruit or herb infused vineger, like tarragon, work exceptionally well)
Juice of 1 Orange (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup EVVO
2 bunches asparagus, cooked to your liking
(I like to blanch them, shock them in ice water than dry them off.)
3 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and coarsley chopped
(Best way to do this is to put eggs in a pan of cold water, bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Cover, turn off heat and let eggs sit for 1 minute. Cool and peel.)
1 cup almonds (Marconas, as pictured, work well but slivered will suffice)
2 to 4 Tbsp. Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped and a few leaves left whole for garnish
Salt and pepper to sprinkle on top just before serving
Place the mustard, capers, anchovies, and garlic into a bowl or glass jar. Add the orange juice and sherry vinegar. Now add the olive oil (listed as EVVO) while whisking (if using a glass jar then pour oil in place lid on and shake it baby).
Place the cooked and cooled asparagus on to a platter. Sprinkle the chopped eggs, parsley and almonds on top. Pour the dressing over the top, reserving some fo serve alongside. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.
April 25th, 2011
Romesco sauce originates from Spain and is one of my favorite schmootzes. Usually it's enjoyed in the spring as a sauce for grilled spring onions. I've seen versions of it made with walnuts, almonds and pine nuts or a combination of all of them.
Since my other favorite schmootz is muhammara is made with walnuts; I like to use hazelnuts in this roasted red bell pepper spread.
Any leftovers are delicious on sandwiches.
2 ancho chilies, re-hydrated in boiled water, stems removed and then pureed
(cascabel works well too)
1/4 cup EVVO, divided
1/2 cup hulled hazelnuts (almonds are also good)
1 large slice of day old bread, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups roasted, peeled red bell peppers (about 2 large ones)
1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 large tomato, peeled and seeded or 1 cup peeled chopped tomato from a can
(Muir Glen Fire Roasted would be a nice touch)
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Spanish paprika
flat leaf parsley
Heat a Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the hulled hazelnuts and bread. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Place the mixture into the work bowl of a food processor.
Return the skillet to the stove and add the remaining oil, chilies, garlic, bell peppers,sherry vinegar, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the paprika and then place this mixture in the food processor as well.
Pulse the mixture together for as long as you like. I like mine to be a little crunchy so I pulse it until it just begins to form into a puree. Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Garnish with flat leaf parsley.
Serve along side, crostini or with grilled spring onions.
March 27th, 2011
A local non-profit, The Organic Food Fight started by the very enterprising Alexandra Hanifin and Sarah Orens hosted a local baking contest to benefit their favorite non-profits, The School Food Project and Allergy Kids.
My dense chocolate sweet bread (made gluten-free) took third place. While I prefer the version with flour and no nuts, this one came out pretty well. To read more about the event click here. The recipe for the winning vegan carrot cake is there. It was exceptionally good!
My secret ingredient was duck eggs from Grant Family Farms. They really help make this wet batter rise beautifully. My favorite way to enjoy this cake is with a fresh fruit sauce. Although a bit of freshly whipped cream would be divine too and is how most folks in my house devour it.
With Valentine’s Day on a Monday, make this cake today, it’s even better the next day.
Be sure to follow the directions exactly. I also include 2 fruit sauces for you to try, either with this cake or with vanilla ice cream. I poured a very smooth and thin layer of chocolate ganache over the top of my cake and dipped several whole hazelnuts in the ganache for garnish.
Rich Ebony Cake -Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/3 cups flour (or gluten free baking mix. See note below)
1 tsp. baking soda (If you are using a gluten free baking mix, omit this ingredient as GF baking mixes already have baking soda added to it)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
2 duck eggs ( or 2 extra large chicken eggs, 3 if at high altitude)
1 tsp. vanilla extract plus 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. freshly boiled water
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups, chopped hazelnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degree. Butter a 9 x5-inch loaf pan – glass works best. Line it with parchment paper – you can just place the parchment in on the longest side with some of the ends hanging out. This is just to help lift the the loaf cake out once it has cooled. Place on a baking sheet as this batter is very wet and can spill over during the baking process.
Mix your dry ingredients together. Cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs -1 at a time- and then the vanilla.
Next on low, mix in the cooled chocolate. Do not over beat. Make sure to have your flour mix and boiled water ready. Now gently add some of the flour and combine. Now some of the boiled water. Once all the wet and dry ingredients are combined you will have a fairly liquid batter. Now add your chips and nuts.
Pour it into the loaf pan and bake in a preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 then reduce temperature to 325 and bake for another 15 minutes. The toothpick tester method will not work as the cake is very moist. The cake should be firm and not totally gooey in the center.
If you can let it cool for a solid day then that is what I recommend. It doesn’t happen in this house as this is my kid’s favorite dessert. But you should really let it cool for a few hours before removing it from the pan.
Two Fruit Sauces
Cranberry Garnet Sauce
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (tangerine works well too)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier (optional)
Combine all the ingredients, except for the Grand Marnier in a heavy sauce pan. Simmer over meduim to low heat for 12 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor or use an immersion blender and mix until smooth. Add the Grand Marnier. This sauce gets very thick as it cools. You can thin it with water if you like it less so.
Strawberry Balsamic Sauce
3 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 pints strawberries, sliced
2 tsp. good quality balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh mint
Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar and cook until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the strawberries and cook, stirring occasionally until the berries begin to release their juices.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the berries to a bowl and continue to reduce the sauce for another 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and mint. Remove from heat and stir into the strawberries. Let stand for 2 minutes then remove the mint. Stir and serve slightly warm.
February 13th, 2011
These delightful almond cookies are just the best. They are so much tastier than the ones you buy at the store. I like these all year round.
This almond cookie recipe came from a teacher at my children’s preschool a few years back. Unfortunately, I lost the original recipe so I had to go from memory. I’m not sure where she found it but am thankful to have at least remembered this much.
Traditional almond cookies are made with lard, I used butter but if you feel intrepid and want to be truely traditional, just use lard in place of the butter. This year I am going to try making them gluten free with just almond flour.
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. almond extract
48 whole almonds
Mix together the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter, much like you would for making pie crust. Add the egg and almond extract.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Roll the cookie dough into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches a part on the cookie sheet. Press one whole almond into the top and flatten them ever so slightly. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
February 12th, 2011
Food52 is a wonderful blog, it’s the brain child of Amanda Hesser and Merrill Staub. They hold a weekly contest for recipes in unusual categories. I have yet to "win" but I keep trying in vain. I did get an official review on one recipe (finally) for my favorite curried apples (so perhaps I’ll get a winning nod soon).
The "Your Best Non-Pie Thanksgiving Dessert" contest held real appeal for me because I am not crazy for pie; I like tarts.
As you may well know, we here at flavorista like our sweets. There are a few upside down cakes and clafoutis already posted. This recipe is not quite as down homey as the others but VERY appropriate for any holiday or just some weekend baking.
The difference between this recipe and others that we have posted is that it has a basic genoise cake on top. I highly recommend that you use a spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment before adding the fruit.
If you happen to be attending a potluck and feel the need to "do something different" this cake will be welcomed by all. I used fresh cranberries but dried would also go well.
Pear-Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
For the Fruit:
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 to 4 medium, ripe pears, peeled, quartered, cored and either diced or sliced into long slivers
2 Tbsp. juice from an orange, or any variety tangerine
1/3 cup fresh or dried cranberries
Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan then add the brown sugar. Pour into a 9 inch spring form pan lined with parchment paper on the bottom.
Toss the pear with the orange juice. Scatter the cranberries on top of the butter-sugar syrup and then layer the pears on top. Now make the cake batter.
Genoise Cake Batter
2 Tbsp. butter
4 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. Massey’s Vanilla Bean paste (a Flavorista fave!)
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup sifted cake flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt until they triple in volume – this takes about 4 minutes.
Fold theflour into the mixture 1/3 at a time. Pour about 1 cup of this batter into the butter and fold. Return this butter portion into the main batter and fold until just combined. Try and do this as quickly and delicately as possible. You don’t want to loose any volume.
Pour the batter over the fruit and spread evenly. Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing the springform and inverting onto a cake plate. Remove the parchment carefully.
January 23rd, 2011
With Christmas upon us, we will be signing off for a few days for celebrating, cooking and eating. We would like to wish you happy holidays full of merriment and treats. Thank you for following Flavorista and for sharing our posts, we appreciate the time you spend with us.
Photo by Patti Sundik
Chef John of Q’s restaurant in Boulder shared this recipe with Flavorista. He serves it with lamb loin. During the holiday season, this would also make a nice addition to any table or a great hostess gift. Cherry Central, in Michigan is a excellent resource for dried cherries.
Adjust the vinegar and sugar levels in this recipe to achieve a acidity/sweetness level that you like. A smoother texture can be achieved by chopping the cherries before simmering.
The addition of herbs or other flavoring ingredients can add additional complexity to the finished product. For instance, try adding a toasted, seeded, crushed ancho chile to the mixture at the beginning of the simmering process
Tart Cherry Compote
Yield is about 3 cups
2 cups tart dried cherries
2 cups pinot noir
1 Tbsp. mulling spices, wrapped in cheese cloth (optional)
1 cup Banyuls Vinegar or other good quality red wine vinegar
(Balsamic would be nice too only start with 1/2 a cup and add more if you desire.)
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt or sea salt
1 Tbsp. coarse ground black pepper
3 fresh bay leaves
Reconstitute cherries with 2 cups boiled water. Combine cherries and liquid with the rest of the ingredients in a non-reactive sauce pan. Simmer slowly for about 20 minutes.
Remove the mulling spices and continue to cook until the fruit is very soft and the mixture is reduced and slightly syrupy for at least 25 minutes. Use at room temperature or hot.
December 25th, 2010
If you are looking for a last minute gift for that flavorista on your list, here are a few suggestions that keep on giving and might even score you some deliciousness.
Harold McGee’s newest book which is endlessly helpful in answering cooking questions:
This beautiful, pumpkin-hued, oven-proof terrine from Terrain.
For the foodie who has everything, a tube of Umami.
Or a jar of homemade dry cherry compote a la Chef John Platt (for recipe click here).
And Santa, if you happen to be reading this, there is a certain flavorista in Portland, Maine who is really hoping to find this Fagor 3-in-1 Cooker under her tree. A rice cooker, pressure cooker and slow cooker, all in one appliance. Brilliant, if you ask us!
December 20th, 2010
I bought a bag of Mayan spiced cocoa from Savory Spice Shop a while back. In the winter I enjoy it prepared as hot chocolate. The heat from the chilies makes it especially warming on a cold, blustery day. Its unique blend of chilies, hazelnut powder, vanilla and cinnamon inspired this chocolate sauce.
I served it on on homemade cinnamon ice cream with cinnamon sugar palmiers. The palmiers recipe is from Martha Holmberg’s gem of a book on recipes made with puff pastry entitled Puff. You could also use gingersnaps or cinnamon shortbread cookies.
Mexican Spiced Chocolate Rum Sauce
½ cup unsalted butter, soft
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Mayan cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Meyers rum (or any dark rum like Goslings. Captain Morgan’s would work too)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Heat the butter in a sauce pan; add sugar, cocoa cream and salt. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in rum and vanilla.
Serve warm. Refrigerate any leftovers.
June 1st, 2010
Once the pantry purge has been completed, I start to tackle the freezer knowing that berry season will be here soon enough and there must be space to freeze Maine’s summer berries.
Despite a few batches of blueberry jam over the winter, I still had a couple quarts of blueberries needing to be used up (Stay tuned for a superb blueberry cake with brown sugar glaze to be posted soon). Now onto this yummy pie.
This pie was made for my friend Kate who had been having a very tough month. I am a big believer in the power of pie and its ability to make things seems better, even if momentarily. She described it as "ooey, gooey, apple, blueberry yumminess." Needless to say, I will be making the pie again, maybe for Mother’s Day because I still have some blues to use up.
I would like to note that I made the pie crust with Earth Balance spread because Kate prefers to pass on dairy and I am happy to report that the crust acted just like a normal pie crust. It cooked up nice, golden and flaky. Flavorista Monica gave me the idea. Her son is allergic to all dairy products, so she is my go-to expert on the subject of dairy-free. Of course the flavor was different than an all-butter crust, but it still met with very good reviews.
For the crust, I followed Jess’ instructions for freezing the pie crust before baking. I am a convert to this method as it it has consistently delivered flaky, golden crusts since Thanksgiving 2008. I only use metal pie plates for this freezing method because I am too nervous about temperature differences and potential explosions (I am not willing to sacrifice my Pyrex and ceramic pie plates).
Apple Blueberry Pie adapted from from Emeril with Hogwash’s Pie Crust.
Two 9-inch prepared pie crust (recipe follows)
3 cups thinly sliced granny smith apples
1 cup blueberries, preferably wild Maine blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. butter cut into small pieces
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine the apples, blueberries, sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt.
Pour the apple-blueberry mixture into the frozen pie crust. Dot the top with butter and cover with the other frozen pie crust, sealing edges.
Cut steam holes in top, place on cookie sheet pan lined with foil or parchment. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes. Fruit juices should be bubbling though the vent holes. Stick the point of a knife through the hole and check to see if apples are tender.
Allow pie to cool for 4 hours before slicing.
Edible’s All-Butter Crust from Hogwash
From the Fall 2008 issue of Edible Seattle.
Yields: Two 9-inch pie crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1” dice, and chilled again
1/2 to 2/3 cup water, chilled in fridge
Blend flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle chilled butter cubes into the flour and press into the dry ingredients with your fingertips, blending together until the mixture looks like fresh breadcrumbs or damp sand. Ideally, no lumps of butter any bigger than a pea will remain, nor will you have any dry flour lurking in the bottom of the bowl.
Add cold water one tablespoon at a time, blending gently with a large fork, until the dough forms into a ball. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a crust about 1/8” thick and gently pat down into a 9” or 10" pie pan. Trim the edge with a sharp knife or scissors so the dough hangs over the edge by 1/2”. Fold and crimp the dough’s edges. Cover the crust with plastic wrap and freeze for a minimum of 30 minutes, or overnight. For the top crust, roll it out flat. Line a 10-12" plate with plastic wrap and place the crust onto it. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes, or overnight.
Remove from freezer when your filling is ready and the oven is pre-heated—whatever sort of pie you’re baking, you want the crust fully frozen when it goes into the oven.
April 21st, 2010