Getting Toasted

 

Avocado Toast..BLTA Edition

I love going out to brunch like anyone else and there’s some really great (and overly popular) brunch spots within walking distance of our house. But what I don’t like is the often long wait for these very popular (crowded and busy) brunch spots. So that’s where having an arsenal of quick and easy to prepare brunch worthy recipes comes in. So this week’s post is exactly that, a few quick and easy recipes for dressing up toast. A good toast needs a solid foundation and I’m partial to sourdough for toast and there’s an added benefit that sourdough is Low FODMAP diet friendly. But you can use whichever bread like base you’d like.

Avocado Toast

First up is that brunch mainstay, Avocado Toast in this case, the Bacon Lettuce Tomato and Avocado edition.

Freshly picked tomatoes, micro greens and crumbled bacon dress up this avacado toast

For my version, I coat sourdough bread in bacon grease and toast on a griddle until golden brown on each side. In a small bowl, I mash 1 avocado with salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of mayonaise together. Feel free to add any herbs that you like then top with micro greens which is acting as the lettuce in this case, fresh tomatoes and crumbled bacon and season with salt and pepper. It’s that easy.

Fig Toast

Our next toast features figs which are just starting to come into to season here. We had a decent amount of rain and expect another bumper crop of figs from the two trees out back. So this will come in handy to highlight the figs as well as use them up.

For fig toast, mash 8 ounces of goat cheese with 2 tablespoons of honey and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread on toasted bread and top with quartered figs, top with a drizzle of honey and crumbled blue cheese. Place under the broiler until the blue cheese and figs start to brown. To take this over to the savory side, add candied bacon and caramelized onions. This would be good on soda bread or a cinnamon raisin form.

The next few recipes use whipped feta which is a great salty tangy alternative to cream cheese or goat cheese.

Whipped Feta

  • 8 oz of crumbled feta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 oz of mascarpone cheese

Toss all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and whip until smooth. This takes about 2-3 minutes.

Pastrami Smoked Salmon with Whipped Salmon

We recently discovered that our local Trader Joe’s has pastrami style smoked salmon and it’s really good. They also have a really good gluten free everything bagel. Whipped Feta and micro-greens make a great accompaniment to the salmon and bagel.

Tomato and Whipped Feta Toast

Tomato and Whipped Feta Toast is as simple as it sounds, its just really fresh tomatoes on top of whipped feta. A finish of a really good olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper will bring out the sweet brightness of the tomatoes. This is a great way to really show off homegrown tomatoes.

Roasted Corn Cucumber Tomato Salad with Whipped Feta Toast

Roasted Corn Tomato and Cucumber Salad

  • 2 cups of fresh corn kernels
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes seeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 medium sized English Cucumber
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons flat leaf parsely (Italian Parsley) finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil divided
  • salt and pepper to taste

Spread out the kernels of corn on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in an oven preheated to 425F until kernels start to brown and blacken, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Allow the cool to room temperature. In a large bowl combine, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs and dress with the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper.

The toast part is dead simple, just spread whipped feta on the toasted bread of your choice and top with the salad.

That’s it. All are super easy, flavorful and seasonal.

 

 

 

 

 

Just in time….

We’re expecting our first heat wave of the summer this week so it seems like a good time to share one of those iced treat recipes I promised (warned about) a few weeks back. We hosted a bbq last weekend and one of the guests graciously brought us a huge bag of sweet limes from their tree. So I thought It’d be a good time to make some Lime Paletas or Ice Pops/Popsicles but with a Southeast Asian spin using lemongrass, mint and ginger. The easiest way to get all those flavors in there is by making an infused simple syrup.

I peeled and juiced all the limes and I was able to yield about a 1 1/2 cups of sweet lime juice. Simple syrup is pretty easy to make, its just equal parts sugar and water and heated until the sugar is dissolved then cooled down to room temperature or chilled depending on how you’re going to use it.  In this case I added a hefty chunk of smashed ginger and about 2 TBS of crushed lemongrass to give it that Southeast Asian vibe. I let the syrup cool to room temperature then strained it and let it cool further in the fridge. This will help the ice pops to freeze faster.

Once the lemongrass and ginger simple syrup was chilled, I got out the trusty ol’ blender and blended 1 1/2 cups of lime juice with 2 cups of the lemongrass ginger simple syrup, Then I tossed in 1/2 cup of fresh mint and blended until the mint was finely chopped. I poured the mixture into silicone molds then left to freeze for at least 5 hours.

I didn’t have good luck with the silicone molds and found that the ice pops get stuck even after running a little warm water on the outside of the mold. My suggestion is to use the zip top style ice pop bags, I got the ones I used on Amazon. If you don’t have molds or these fancy little bags, just freeze them mixture in ice cube trays. Hmm, if you pour a little rum over them you’d have an amazing little mojito…just sayin’

That’s it, I hope this helps you beat the summer heat…

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sweet lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • 3 TBS crushed ginger
  • 2 TBS crushed lemongrass
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

No scratches or bee stings required

Fresh out of the oven and piping hot Blackberry Cobbler

One of the many things I miss about living in the PNW (that’s Pacific Northwest) is how easy (and free) it is to get your hands on ridiculous quantities of blackberries. They’re like weeds and grow everywhere and you don’t even have to go far off the beaten path to find them they grow along the side of the road. To make this week’s recipe, you just need to get a hold of blackberries, fresh, frozen, foraged or otherwise.

We hosted our first bbq of the summer this past weekend and I wanted a dessert that’s easy to serve to a crowd, can be made ahead and reminds me of summer. Blackberries, cobbler and corn remind me of summer and cobblers are great crowd friendly make ahead desserts. Since blackberries pair really well with corn, I decided to make a corn biscuit top.

As I mentioned, this was designed to feed a crowd so adjust your quantities accordingly. I used a combination of fresh and frozen blackberries. This recipe will serve 8.

Blackberry Cobbler with Corn Biscuit Top

  • 8 cups of blackberries (if using frozen, thaw the berries and retain the liquid)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Corn Biscuit top

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup freeze dried corn (ground)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 TBS chilled butter (cut into cubes)
  • 3/4 cup of buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and let sit for an hour or overnight. Preheat oven to 350F.

Biscuit top-

Combine flour, cornmeal, freeze dried corn, salt, sugar, baking powder and chilled butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until butter forms little pea sized balls. Slowly add in buttermilk/yogurt (you may not need all of it) until dough just starts to come together. The dough will be fairly loose and sticky and that’s ok.

Spray a 2 quart (deep dish) casserole with cooking spray and fill with berry mixture. Using a Table spoon that’s been sprayed with cooking spray, drop dollops of biscuit batter across the top of the berries.

dollop corn biscuit batter

 

Place casserole dish on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for 1 hour or until middle portion of the cobbler is bubbling. If top starts to brown too much over with aluminum foil. The cobbler can be served warm, room temperature or cold and pairs well with ice cream.

 

Easier than a Rice Krispy Treat

Simple and easy with big coconut flavor

Want a super easy sweet treat that goes together is a matter of minutes? As it turns out, macaroons are just that treat. Since Friday May 31st is National Macaroon Day (not to be confused with National Macaron Day which is in March) this recipe is just in time for that macaroon emergency. This is also a great little recipe if you find yourself like me with left over coconut and the dregs of a can of sweetened condensed milk that you don’t know what to do with.

Recipe

  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 2 TBS AP Flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condendensed milk
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or bakers chocolate for drizzling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, coconut, salt and condensed milk in a large mixing bowl. Mix until combined. Spray your hands with cooking spray or lightly coat with oil and form coconut mixture into 1″ balls and lay out evenly on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 11-15 minutes or until coconut is golden brown. Allow to cool and drizzle with dark chocolate if desired.  Yield 12-15 macaroon

Yep, its that easy. If you spray your mixing bowl with cooking spray, it will make clean up a little easier.  Oh and stay tuned. I’ll post my recipe for Coconut Layer Cake with Coconut Buttercream and Coconut Cake Truffles in a few weeks.

That’s how the cookie crumbles..

What’s better than milk and cookies?

I was having all sorts of technical issues this week, but finally go them resolved and was able to actually upload images again. So now that’s all taken care of for this weeks post I’m making cookies. Though this time around, I’m dressing up that timeless classic chocolate chip cookies. One of my co-workers gave me a package of Horlick’s Malted Milk Powder from her prized stash and it got me thinking that I don’t think I’ve ever seen Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies before. So after a little bit of testing here’s the recipe I came up with.

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup/2 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground coffee
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cup sifted All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed malted milk balls like Whoppers or Maltesers
  • 2 oz of chopped extra dark chocolate
  • coarse salt and chopped dark chocolate for the top (optional)

In a large bowl, cream butter until it turns a light pale yellow then add granulated sugar and light brown sugar and beat for a couple of minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add in eggs, malted milk powder, coffee and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Slowly add in salt, baking soda and sifted flour until the flour is mostly combined. You may have to mix this by hand or use a stand mixer. Stir in the chocolate chips, crushed malted milk balls and dark chocolate. Form into golfball sized balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let chill in the fridge for at least an hour before baking. To bake, preheat oven to 350F. Place dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet leaving 2″ space between cookies and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Not Your Typical Meat and Potatoes…

I think foodies like like to believe that they coined the term and the concept of fusion foods. But the reality is that fusion foods have been around for centuries if not millennia. And this weeks recipe is really a classic example of what happens when two cultures combine techniques and ingredients to create a whole new food experience. Lomo Saltado is a Peruvian dish that exemplifies fusion cooking. Beef is seasoned with soy sauce and vinegar, paprika and cumin. Then its stir fried in a wok along with onions, roma tomatoes and french fries. It all comes together for some rib stickin’ comfort food.

Lomo Saltado

serves 4

1 lb flank steak cut into thin strips

1 lb Cooked French fries.

¼ cup soy sauce

2 TBS white vinegar

½ cup chicken stock

1 TBS Aji Amarillo Paste *

1 medium sized onion cut into. thin wedges

1 yellow bell pepper cut into thin strips

3 Roma Tomatoes seeded and cut into wedges

¼ tsp paprika

½ tsp cumin

2 scallions chopped

1 clove of garlic minced

2 TBS cooking oil

salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized bowl combine salt and pepper, cumin, paprika, soy sauce, aji amarillo paste and vinegar. Add in the sliced beef and set aside to marinade for about 15 minutes. In a large wok over medium high heat, heat up 1 TBS cooking oil until it shimmers add the chopped scallions and garlic, Drain the beef but retain the liquid and place the beef into the hot wok an stir until the meat has browned on all sides. Remove the meat and set aside. Add the other TBS of oil to the wok and add in the onions and yellow bell pepper, cook until the onions become translucent. Add the meat back into the wok along with the reserved marinade and stock. Turn down the wok to medium and let the sauce reduce by half. Add the French fries and tomatoes and let the fries and tomatoes warm back up, which will take about a minute. Its ready to serve.

Enjoy.

*Aji Amarillo Paste is available in Latin Markets, If you can’t find it, leave it out and use more yellow bell pepper.

Irish Brown Bread

I try to bake something from scratch at least once a week and since St. Patrick’s Day is next week I decided to make Brown Bread. Brown Bread is a whole wheat quick bread that uses baking soda (bread soda/bicarbonate of soda) as the leavener instead of yeast. Its slightly sweet and dense in a stick to your ribs kind of way. I love it toasted with butter and a pinch of salt.

Here’s the recipe;

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup A/P flour (plus extra for kneading and to prepare baking tin/sheet)

2 TBS molasses or honey

pinch of salt

1 tsp baking soda

3 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 TSP vegetable oil

2 TBS oats (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the molasses, buttermilk and oil together and gradually add to the dry ingredients until a dough forms (you may not need all the buttermilk). Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead into a ball.

Score an cross into the top and brush with buttermilk and top with the oats.

Place loaf onto a floured and parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until the loaf has a hollow sound when you tap the bottom of it.

Remove from the oven and wrap with a tea towel and place upside down on a wire rack to cool. This will help keep the crust from becoming too hard.

To store, place in a zip top bag so the loaf stays moist.

 

Sweet and tangy tropical goodness…

passion fruit bars dusted with powdered sugar

I was the happy beneficiary of some fresh passion fruit from one of my co-workers about a week or so ago. Well, they finally ripened up enough for me to use so I decided to make passion fruit bars. Passion fruit, is a somewhat sour acidic tropical fruit which lends itself very well to this application as well as being turned into curds as discussed in previous post or really anything that you’d use citrus.

There’s two parts to this recipe, first is the shortbread base and then the curd that goes on top. You’ll need to bake and completely and allow to fully cool to room temperature before working on the curd topping. We have quite a few Vietnamese markets here that sell frozen passionfruit juice and its also available at our local Whole Foods. Look for one that doesn’t have sugar added, if you can’t find unsweetened, reduce the sugar in the filling by a couple of tablespoons. If you’re not able to locate passion fruit, use any combination of citrus juice you have available. You’ll need a 9×9 brownie pan to make this recipe. I’d suggest using a metal pan versus glass so the sides of the bars do not brown too much.

Shortbread Base

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup All Purpose Flour

¼ tsp salt

3 TBS granulated sugar

3 TBS powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325F

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients by hand until it is a sand like texture.

Shortbread dough mixed to a sand like texture

Press into a 9×9 brownie pan that’s been lined with parchment paper and spayed with cooking spray or greased with butter.

Pressing shortbread dough into a brownie pan lined with parchment

Dock the dough a few times to prevent the crust from rising/bubbling up.

docking the shortbread crust.

Bake crust in an oven preheated 325F and bake for 30 minutes or until shortbread turns a light golden brown along the edges.

Filling

3 large eggs

½ cup passion fruit juice

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

2 TBS lemon juice

½ tsp baking soda

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

pinch of salt

3 TBS All Purpose flour

Powdered Sugar for dusting

Mix all the ingredients except for the flour together until well mixed. Slowly mix in the flour a tablespoon at a time until mix is free of lumps and the flour has been thoroughly incorporated. Pour filling mixture into the baked and cooled crust. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 35-40 minutes or until filling is set.  Dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares to serve.

Making Whoopie…Pies that is..

Rich choccolatey whoopie pie with cream cheese cherry filling

There’s a few regional treats and foods that we just can’t seem to find out here in California and my wife as a born and bred East Coaster, loves California but sometimes she just really has a hankering for some Taylor Ham (it’s like Spam but better), decent pierogi (amazing Polish dumplings similar to ravioli), good bagels and whoopie pies. I think the whoopie pie is really the thing she misses the most.

If an Oreo Cookie and a Chocolate cupcake had a baby, it’d be a whoopie pie. They’re this wonderful combination of rich, chocolatey cakiness and fluffy (super sweet) filling and they’re super easy to make. Not really sure why its called a whoopee pie because there’s nothing pie like about them but here’s my recipe

Cake

2 cups AP flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1 stick of butter (softened and at room temperature)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ¼ tsp baking soda

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup plain yogurt (you can sub sour cream, kaffir or buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 350F

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda and set aside In another large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, egg, and yogurt and mix until combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredients until they are well incorporated. Batter should be the consistency of brownie mix. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Spray a ice cream scoop with cooking spray and form batter into balls and place on the cookie sheet leaving a 2″ gap between cookies. To make the traditional smoothed topped whoopie pies, lightly wet your hands with water and shake off the excess. Run your fingers across the tops of the cookies and sides to smooth over any craggy points. I opt to leave them in their craggy jaggy state. Bake the cookies at 350 for 10-15 minutes. The cookies should puff up and a toothpick should come out clean when the cookies are done. Set on a wire rack to cool. Let the cookies cool completely before filling.

Filling

1 stick softened room temperature butter

1 8oz package of softened cream cheese

1 cup marshmallow fluff

1 cup powdered sugar

½ cup chopped candied cherries (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter, marshmallow, cream cheese and vanilla together until well combined and fluffy. gradually add the powder sugar, if filling is still loose, continue to add powder sugar until filing is the consistency of cake frosting.

Easy Lemon Scones

Lemon Scones paired with a whipped lemon honey and raspberry compound butter

It’s still Lemonpalooza around here. Our lemon tree is going crazy and we’ve got a lot of fruit ripening right now. So we’re scrambling to find things to do with all the fruit. Our tree produces grapefruit sized lemons with really thick peels which are ideal for cooking, because they produce a lot of juice and the peels are perfect for resting.

This weeks recipe is for lemon scones. Scones are a really easy and simple dessert and as we discussed last week, just by swapping ingredients here and there you can really change to flavor profile of scones. Scones are essential a type of biscuit, my recipe calls for baking powder as the leavened. I use the food processor for cutting the butter into the dough, but if you don’t have one, you can use a couple of butter knives, a fork or a pastry blender.

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

6 TBS chilled butter

½ cup kaffir (can sub sour cream, plain yogurt or buttermilk)

⅓ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp lemon extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp salt

1 TBS lemon zest

1 tsp baking powder

1 TBS sanding sugar

¼ cup milk

Place all ingredients except milk, zest, kaffir and sanding sugar into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse 20 to 30 times, add the zest and slowly drizzle in the kaffir while pulsing the food processor. Dough should look like wet sand this should take about 10 pulses and should look like this:

Flour, salt sugar, baking powder, butter, zest, extracts and kaffir have been pulsed in a food processor until it is the consistency of wet sand.

Turn dough out onto a floured work service and form into a 1 inch thick disk like so:

Scone dough has been formed into a 1″ thick x 7″ round and will chill in the fridge for an hour before cutting and baking

The dough may still be slightly crumbly and that’s ok. Wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic wrap and place into the fridge to chill for at least an hour.  Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and cut into wedges.

chilled dough cut into wedges

Place wedges on to parchment lined baking sheet and brush with milk

unbaked scones being brushed with milk

Dust the milk brushed scones with sanding sugar.

scones being dusted with sanding sugar

Bake scones in an oven preheated to 400F for 15-18 minutes. Scones should be golden brown on the bottom and starting to turn golden brown on the edges.