Chihuly & Crepes

Chihuly Glass Installation

It goes on…

..and on

Are they abstract art, flowers, or some form of exotic sea life?  You decide.

Again, we were mesmerized by Chihuly’s art.

Another renewed love that we’re bring home with us from Vegas?  Crepes.  We forgot just how much we love them.  They’re an easy and quick meal available on the go.  And, they’re easy to whip up at home, too.  If you don’t have candied nuts available.   Just substitute a sprinkle of roasted and roughly chopped nuts.

Our Favorites?

Hazelnut
candied hazelnuts
nutella
banana slices
fresh strawberry slices
dark chocolate drizzle
whipped cream

Bananas Foster
(above)

candied pecans
bananas
(sautéed in butter and brown sugar)
crepes
caramel drizzle
whipped cream
powdered sugar

Savory

Ham & Madeira Cherry
Serrano ham
Emmental cheese
Madeira cherries
chèvre
Mornay Sauce

Ham & Egg
Smoked ham
Emmental cheese
egg
Mornay sauce

Crepes
makes 5

1/2 cup AP flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons butter, melted

melted butter, for pan
pastry brush

In a pourable mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir.  Let rest for at least 30 minutes (or up to an hour).  Then, pour about 1/4 cup of batter into a hot buttered crepe pan (or small frying pan), swirl and flip when crepe is dried at the edges.

Top and fill as you desire.  Or, fold crepe into quarters, dust with powdered sugar and devour it on the spot.

Brie, Green Apple & Smoked Turkey Sandwich

Now, here’s something you don’t hear every day.  But, it’s true.  This sandwich was inspired by airport food.  Shhh….. Don’t tell anyone.

We went to Las Vegas and we ate.  Then, we ate some more.  After about 10 days of vacation where we were eating all things decadent, what’s the first thing I want to eat upon returning home?  It was this simple sandwich.

We experienced sensation overload for multiple senses.  Flashes of color, art, billboards & ads mingle freely together in every hotel lobby, game room and slot machine floor.  And, it’s everywhere.

Now that we’re home, we’re ready to relax and enjoy the little luxuries.

Smoked Turkey, Brie, & Green Apple Sandwich
(On Sourdough Bread)

Sourdough Roll (Or, sliced bread)
butter
brie
smoked turkey slices
green apple slices

Toast or grill bread.  Butter lightly.  Top with brie. (If brie is sliceable, melt under the broiler for a few seconds.)  Then, top with smoked turkey and green apple slices.  Serve immediately.  Brie should be warm and melty.

The Baking Bible

The Baking Bible
By Rose Levy Beranbaum

I have and have loved The Cake Bible, The Pie & Pastry Bible, and The Bread Bible for years.  (Though, I must confess my love for them lists them in a different order.  I have a favorite.  But, that’s my own private little secret.)  Now, there’s another bible to add to my cookbook bible collection.  Just check out these gorgeous pictures pretty enough to be food art…

(If you’re the wicked sort, you might use another term.)

Soon To Be Filling Our House With Divine Scents:

Kouigns Amann

Kouigns Amann

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-27 minutes.

Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf

Starter

100%  Whole Wheat Dough

After these tasty looking teasers, how can you resist?

The Baking Bible

Baked Apples

Lady Apples

These little apples work beautifully to create a sweet ending to any meal.  Their small size allows for a sweet treat without the unfortunate feeling of excess or over-indulgence.  Any small apple can be used.  But, these and small empire apples are two of our favorites.  If you accidentally purchase some spongy apples or if you’re looking for a way to use a couple random strays, this hides their flaws and highlights their sweetness.

Baked Apples
makes 4

4 small apples, Empire or Lady Apples
fresh cranberries
sultanas or other raisins
splash of brandy or rum
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash apples carefully.  Remove the core without breaking through the bottom.   Place in a small baking dish.  Stuff each apple with a couple cranberries and raisins.  Splash each apple with brandy or rum.  Then, combine sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves in a small bowl.  Sprinkle mixture over your apples.  Then, add just enough water to cover the bottom of your baking dish.  Bake for 35-45 minutes.  Apples should be tender, not mushy.  If you want softer apples, cook them longer.

Serve warm.  Top with whipped cream, ice cream, or both.

Berkeley Tie Dye Tomatoes

Pink Berkeley Tie Dye?

These were rich, juicy, and delicious.  So, after eating these tomatoes, I’ve spent a little bit of time attempting to identify them.  Is this a Pink Berkeley Tie Dye?

Or…

…Is this a Berkeley Tie Dye?  Or, is this a Large Barred Boar Beefsteak Tomato.  (Yes, that’s really the name of a tomato.)  Or, are they both versions of Berkeley Tie Dye?  I’m just not sure.  Both are ribbed, pleated, convoluted, or lobed.

This beauty is lobed, too.  But, I’m pretty sure this is a Striped German.  After ripening for 3-4 days on one of our countertops in our temperature controlled home, this tomato turned a deep red on the bottom.  It was perfectly ripe, dark red, juicy, and bursting with savory tomato flavor.

We bought these tomatoes at Whole Foods for $7 a pound.  And, they were worth every penny.  Roughly, 75% ripe, they were quite firm at the time of purchase.  But, after 3-5 days each tomato slowly ripened at its own pace.  And, the flavor was very close to my home grown tomatoes.

Tomato Basil Salad
serves 1

1 small pink striped
Chinese Chives
Thai basil
sweet basil
black pepper

Slice or cube the tomato.  Sprinkle with chopped chives, basil and freshly ground black pepper.  Lightly drizzle vinaigrette on top.  Toss and garnish with additional chives, if you like.  Serve immediately with a wedge of toasted baguette.

My Current Favorite Vinaigrette

olive oil
tiny splash of roasted sesame oil
rice wine vinegar
about 1 heaping teaspoon chili garlic sauce
black pepper
fine sea salt, as you like it

Combine roughly equal parts of olive oil and vinegar.  Add a splash of sesame oil and a heaping teaspoon of chili garlic sauce.  Add a few grinds of black pepper.  Taste.  Add salt, as desired.

In Denial, Tomato On Grilled Baguette

Our tomato plants are some serious fighters this year.  Somehow, we’ve managed to pick a couple handfuls of Sun Gold cherries a week for the last few weeks.  In the back, those two beauties are courtesy of Whole Foods.   They appear to be some type of red zebra tomato or Pink Berkeley Tie Dye… maybe.  The outside was a deep pink with golden yellow stripes.  Inside, they were deep, dark red.  And, they were so incredibly delicious.  They were equally sweet and savory with a pure tomato flavor.  We loved the spicy bite of basil next to the super sweetness of these tomatoes.

It ain’t over til it’s over!

Tomato On Baguette
makes 1

6″ wedge of baguette
1 tomato
Thai basil leaves
Duke’s mayo
fine sea salt
black pepper, freshly ground

Lightly grill baguette.  Brush lightly with mayo.  Top with basil leaves and thick tomato slices.

In our house, there’s no such thing as tomato scraps.  We devour each and every last bite.

Brown Butter Rum Plum Cobbler

Plum compote or a chunky plum jam (like this) could easily be used in the place of fresh plums.  But, it will be very sweet.  A small spoonful served warm with vanilla ice cream would be best.

Brown Butter Rum Plum Cobbler
makes 1 large dish

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/4 cup rum
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup whole milk
12 plums, quartered
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Continue to brown and swirl the butter until it’s a deep golden color and smells a bit nutty.  Remove from heat and add rum.  Swirl.  Pour the brown butter mixture into a deep casserole dish.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir to combine.  Pour in the cup of whole milk and stir until just combined.  Pour the batter into the baking dish over top of the butter mixture.

In a large bowl, combine plum slices, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
Spoon the plums and all their liquids evenly over top of the batter. Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream.

Sugar Plum Jam

Sugar Plums

Sometimes called Italian plums, or Damson, or Empress (though I believe there are differences between Damsons and Empress plums), they’re also called prune plums.

Sugar Plums, Sliced

Add sugar and freshly ground cinnamon.

Then, bring to a boil.

Stir religiously until the steam dissipates and the bubbles get big and glossy.

Then, let it set.

Sugar Plum Jam
makes about 2 cups

14-16 sugar plums, washed well and sliced
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Place sliced plums in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add sugar and cinnamon.  Stir.  Then, bring to a  gentle boil.  Boil gently for about 15-18 minutes stirring very frequently.  NEVER leave the pot unattended!  (Never leave any pot unattended, actually.)  If your mixture is too hot, it could bubble over in mere seconds.  The molten lava that is jam will make an incredible mess.  And, it’s MOLTEN hot.  So, be careful.  Burns aren’t fun.

Serve warm with biscuits.  Or, let the jam sit and cool before placing in the fridge.

What a gorgeous color!

This is the texture before chilling.  It’s a bit like a thick compote. After chilling, it thickens up nicely.  Here, I’ve stored my jam very simply in a tall glass to take up minimum fridge space.  This scant 2 cups of jam remains after spooning generous quantities of our warm jam over buttered biscuits.

Devil Crabs

These are awesome.  And, they’re still a work in progress.  As you can see, the ones in back were a bit overcooked.  So, watch these carefully as you fry them.  Stale bánh mì make a pleasantly acceptable substitute for Cuban bread in a pinch.  I might even go so far as to try panko.  It’s just silly to wait for good Cuban bread to magically appear in Atlanta.  That’s very unlikely to happen any time soon.

Devil Crabs
Or, Cuban Style Deviled Crab

1/2 cup sofrito, or as desired
(Sautéed onions, tomatoes, celery, sweet red peppers)
1 cup crab meat
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup bread crumbs or as needed for shaping, made from Cuban bread

bread crumbs, made from Cuban bread, for rolling

Combine all ingredients, except crab meat.  Stir to combine.  Then, gently stir in crab meat.  Roll into croquettes or football shape.  Then, roll in bread crumbs.  Deep fry or pan fry.  Watch carefully.  The breadcrumbs tend to burn easily.

Allow to drain on uncoated parchment, the interior of a paper bag, or paper towels for about 5 minutes before serving.  Careful, they’ll still be hot!

Garden 2014 — A Look Back

The raspberry sprouts have graduated to full grown vines.  Hopefully, they’ll survive the winter.  Currently all of the raspberry and black berry bushes are still alive.  Optimistically, the Dwarf Elberta peach looks about half alive.  The Bonfire peach is on its last legs.  And, the Kadota fig tree is a giant question mark.  Sprouts shoot from the base.  But, it’s smaller this year than it was last year.   The moral of this story?  We should probably plan on planting three new fruit or nut trees next year.

The Contenders:

Paw Paw

mulberry

fig
(Panchee, Dalmatian, Conadria, or Kadota)

chestnut

pecan

And, it looks like I will probably need to replant some thyme.  Both the oregano and marjoram are crowding out my small patch of thyme.  And, I never plant enough basil.  Plant more basil!!!

Green Tea Smoothie
makes 1

1 scant cup ice
1 cup almond milk
1 heaping teaspoon matcha green tea powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

- or -

1 scant cup ice
1 cup coconut milk
2-3 big pieces of mango
1 heaping teaspoon matcha green tea powder
pinch of cinnamon

Liquify in blender.  Pour into glass and enjoy.