Saturday, March 31, 2018

Pastel de Caléndulas + An Invitation #FoodNFlix


Sometimes you just have to bake a cake for no reason. It's not anyone's birthday; it's not your anniversary. You just want to make something sweet, delicious, and beautiful. Well, I did have a few reasons for this cake: first, my mom left me a bunch of lemons from her Meyer lemon tree; second, I wanted to make dessert; and, third, I'm hosting this month's Food'N'Flix.


For the April edition of Food'N'Flix, I am inviting any bloggers who want to join me to watch Coco*.

Coco tells the story of Miguel Rivera whose great-great-grandmother was abandoned by her musician husband; she has enforced an iron-clad policy against music ever since. "No music!" she bellows. And each subsequent generation has gone into the family business of making shoes.

Add in stunning animation, lively music - yes, music! - and family conflict and you have a wonderful movie for all ages. But, don't just take my word for it. Watch and join me in making something Coco-inspired. Here are the details...

I hope you'll join the fun. Watch the movie, then post about it on your blog with a link back to this post and to Food'N'Flix. Use of the logo is optional. Your post must be current (during month of film). And of course we don't mind if your post is linked to other events...the more the merrier. Have fun with it!

Email your entries to me at: constantmotioncamilla[at]gmail[dot]com and include...

  • Your name
  • Your blog's name and URL
  • The name of your dish and the permalink to the specific post you're submitting
  • Attach a photo of any size (or just give me permission to "pull" one from your post)
  • Indicate "Food 'n Flix Submission" in the subject line
  • Send a copy to Heather as well at heather@foodnflixclub.com

Deadline for submission is: April 27th (noon, Pacific Time). 
I will have the round-up posted before the month ends.

Pastel de Caléndulas
To get you inspired to find the DVD or stream it online, I am sharing a cake that I was inspired to make after we watched the movie. I usually try to get fresh, organic flowers from local gardening friends. But, when I can't, I order online from Gourmet Sweet Botanicals.


Ingredients
Ricotta Cake makes two 8" rounds
  • 2/3 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 C butter, softened
  • 3 C whole milk ricotta
  • 1 t orange blossom extract
  • 1 t pure lemon extract
  • 1 t vanilla paste
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 C flour
  • 1-1/2 t baking powder

Vanilla Buttercream
  • 1 C softened butter
  • 4 C organic powdered sugar
  • 1 t vanilla paste
  • 1 t pure lemon extract
  • 2 T milk

Lemon Curd (you'll have lots of extras, but it's delicious slathered on toast)
  • 1 C fresh lemon juice
  • 4 t fresh lemon zest
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 12 T butter, cut into cubes

Filling and Flowers
  • 4 T lemon curd + more for serving
  • organic marigolds for garnish


Procedure
Lemon Curd
Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan.


Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.


Transfer lemon curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour.

Ricotta Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottoms of the baking pans with parchment paper and butter the sides.

Cream sugar and butter together until lightened and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating between each egg. Whisk in the ricotta and orange blossom extract, pure lemon extract, and vanilla paste. Gently fold in the flour and baking powder.


Spoon batter into prepared pans. Bake for 60 minutes until the top if firm and golden. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Let cool completely before filling and frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream
Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat, on low, until nicely combined and creamy. Increase speed to medium and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla paste, lemon extract, and milk. Beat for another 1 to 2 minutes until you have a nice spreading consistency.

To Assemble
Place 1 cake layer on your serving platter. Spoon 4 T lemon curd into the center of the round and spread to within 1/2" of the edge. Place another cake layer on top.


After you have the second cake layer on the top, frost the cake with the vanilla buttercream.


Decorate with petals as you like.


Serve the cake with more curd, if desired.


*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Recipe Testing: Laminated Biscuit Strawberry Shortcake


When I saw that the April Fantastical Food Fight focus was 'strawberry shortcake', I paused. The first thing that came to mind were these dolls from the 80s! I really disliked dolls; my grandmother tried and tried to get me fascinated with Barbie. But, when she bought me these dolls, I was moderately intrigued. I remember her being thrilled and she bought me every single doll in the series - Apple Dumplin, Rasberry Tart, Mint Tulip, Cherry Cuddler, and more. When I was a kid, I loved that the dolls' hair smelled. Now I wonder: What kind of awful chemicals made those dolls smell for so long!?!

image from toysrus.com
In any case, I started asking around. "What do you think of when I say 'strawberry shortcake?'" Friends and family all had differing answers. Some said the base was a sweetened biscuit; others were adamant that the base was a pound cake. Most intriguing to me was an angel food cake. But I decided to do more research and start recipe testing.

Turns out that William Shakespeare used it as a character's name, in the early 17th century, in The Merry Wives of Windsor: Alice Shortcake. And, according to Driscoll's, the first strawberry shortcake recipe appeared in an English cookbook as early as 1588. Since the early recipes were more like a pie crust or biscuit, I decided to give it a try.

I'll be honest: I'm not much of a biscuit person. They seem doughy and heavy...not very appealing. But everyone should still have a biscuit in their culinary wheelhouse I'm told. My Buttermilk-Black Garlic Biscuit is a nice savory option. Then I read an article about laminating biscuit dough and I imagined the layers in my Kouign Amann. Sold.

Laminated Biscuit Strawberry Shortcake 
makes about ten  3" square biscuits

Ingredients
Biscuit Dough
  • 1/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 3 T warm water
  • 2 t (1 envelope) active dry yeast
  • 5 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 C butter, cold and cubed 
  • 2 C whole plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1/2 C butter, cold
  • light oil for greasing the bowl (I used canola)



Toppings
  • unsweetened whipped cream
  • whipped cream with strawberry dust (pulverized freeze-dried strawberries)
  • fresh organic strawberries, sliced
  • strawberry dust  (pulverized freeze-dried strawberries) for garnish


Procedure
Biscuit Dough
In a small mixing bowl, stir together sugar, 3 T warm water, and yeast. Let stand until mixture is bloomed and foamy, approximately 5 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Using your hands or a pastry blender, cut in cold, cubed butter until mixture is crumbly. Add yeast mixture and yogurt, stirring until dry ingredients are just moistened. 

Knead by hand a few times until dough comes together. Oil a large mixing bowl and place dough in bowl, turning so that it's completely covered in oil. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm spot until raised and puffy, approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Pound the 1/2 C butter into a rectangle, wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate while the dough rises.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.


Turn out dough onto a lightly floured piece of parchment. Gently roll dough into an 18x12-inch rectangle. Unwrap butter and place in center of dough. Fold dough into thirds, like a letter.


Roll dough to 1-1/2" thick. Rotate dough 90 degrees, and fold dough again into thirds, like a letter. 


Roll dough to a rectangle at 1-1/2" thickness, again. Cut dough into squares and gently separate the biscuits. Transfer to prepared sheet.


Bake until golden brown, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes. Serve warm with an array of toppings.


Let everyone assemble their own versions. I split mine in half and layered them with whipped cream, fresh strawberries, and a dusting of the strawberry powder.


These boys were so happy! R was sad that he missed out - he was at an all-day robotics meeting at school - but I did use the leftover biscuits to make something he did get to enjoy. More on that to come.


One critique: macerate the strawberries! These are too fresh. Okay. Next time.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Braised Spareribs with Anchovies, White Wine, Garlic, and Olives #KitchenMatrixCookingProject


Another week, another recipe for the Kitchen Matrix Project, named after Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix cookbook. You can read about it: here. This month, I picked the recipes for the month am I'm very excited about the dishes and the bloggers who are joining me. And I am thrilled with how simple these recipes are to make. 

This week, I picked 'Pork Ribs + 9 Ways' for the group. I had a tough time deciding because I was intrigued by the Salt and Pepper-Grilled Baby Back Ribs, Pasta with Pork Ribs, and the Smoked and Roasted Spare Ribs with Sage and Ginger. But those will be for another day. Stay tuned.

More Ribs


Whose Ribs?!?

Every time we have ribs for dinner, we chuckle about this story. D, my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf, was about 3-years-old at the time, riding in the cart with me at the grocery store. He asked me about the rack of ribs in the cart, pointing, "Mommy, what are those?"

Ribs, I answered.

His chubby fingers went to his side and he declared, "These are my ribs!"

Yes, that's true.

Horror contorted his little face and he whispered, pointing into my shopping cart, "Whose ribs are those?!?"

Not a person's, I assured him.

"Then who?" he demanded. He knew meat came from a living animal. But, I suppose, ribs were a little too recognizable. Now he loves ribs, but we still tell that story every time they're on our table.

Braised Spareribs with Anchovies, 
White Wine, Garlic, and Olives
slightly adapted from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix

Quick note about the kind of ribs I used...now that we know they weren't human ribs. I had to do some reading about the difference between "ribs" and "spare ribs." I don't usually think about that; to me, ribs are ribs. But, I was so wrong! 

The Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf pulled out some reference books - I'm not actually sure in which he found it, but I know he pulled out Farm Anatomy and Food Anatomy - and figured it out for me.

Spare ribs are the ribs cut from the belly of the animal and are formed by cutting away the breastbone The slab is more rectangular in shape. Back ribs are cut from where the rib meets the spine after the loin is removed. The upper ones are called baby back ribs. These are the ones I usually buy. I think, after this, I'll definitely be buying this rack more often.

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 to 4 pounds spare ribs, but into individual ribs
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 to 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 C dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1/4 C capers
  • 1/2 C pitted olives (I used Kalamata)

Procedure

Sprinkle the ribs with salt and pepper. Warm the olive oil in the base of a Dutch oven or heavy lidded pot. When the oil is hot, brown the ribs on each side, approximately 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Stir in the garlic and anchovies. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer. Scatter the capers and olive over the top. Cover and braise until the ribs are tender, approximately 90 minutes. Serve hot.

A Community Store to Feed My Love of Books...and Benefit a Library


If there was ever any doubt that I adore books, you need only look at my Foodie Reads Challenges  - past and present. I published posts about 36 books in 2016, 38 in 2017; already this year, I've blogged over a dozen. 

And these are just the ones that have a food component or inspire me to create a dish. I read all the time and I read books. Real books. I don't have a kindle or any other kind of ebook reader. R does and it certainly helps when we go on trips - he brings that device and the rest of us haul a tote full of heavy books. Still, I am a book-gal.


Sadly, we don't have many brick and mortar bookstores on the Monterey Peninsula any more. Whenever we head up to the Bay Area, bookstores are always on our list of places to stop.
When The Friends of the Marina Library opened their Friends' Community Bookstore at the end of last year, I put it on my 'to-do' list.

So, when D and I had some free time this past weekend, we drove to Marina to check out the store. If you're local to me, the Friends' Community Bookstore is located at 330 Reservation Road, Suite F in the Marina Town Plaza shopping center. The hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 4 pm. 


The bookstore is just one more of the ways that The Friends of the Marina Library fulfill their mission to support the Marina Branch Library through advocacy, funding, and volunteer resources. They throw monthly block parties for kids, teach a photography camp in the Spring, show free movies throughout the year, and provide funding for the library to make purchases and more. And I love that they are completely volunteer run by people who love books as much as I do. If you're interested in volunteering, contact the bookstore manager, Joanne Bowman, at 831.277.0507 or by email at books.foml@gmail.com. 

You can also drop off donations there. That will make my husband happy. He thinks I have too many books. I retort, "There's no such thing as too many books!"


The store is organized and clearly labeled. In the front room there are shelves for local interest, rare books, and - my personal favorite - cookbooks. I spent some time staring at those books while D wandered around. There is an extensive children's book selection in its own room. Otherwise, you can clearly see hardback fiction, paperback fiction, and non-fiction. They even have DVDs, VHS tapes, and more.


Needless to say, we found an armload of books there that we now call our own. D wanted a Latin dictionary, a book on Italian grammar, a cookbook written in Italian, and a vintage board game. I walked away with a wildflower identification book, three cookbooks, and a foodie travelogue. The books are in great condition, the prices are outrageously reasonable, and the people there are helpful.

I will definitely be heading there whenever I need more books to read. I'm so grateful the store is open and that, when I purchase from there, I'm supporting our local library. Creating more readers always makes me smile. So, now I'm on a mission to share about this community store that feeds my love of books and benefits the Marina Branch Library!


Find The Friends of Marina Libary
On Facebook, on YouTube, and on Amazon

Celebrating with Bouillabaisse #FoodieReads


Last week, the Enthusiastic Kithchen Elf and I were playing a foodie trivia game. I won, but he held his own; he did complain that I had an advantage with the questions about wine and liqueurs. Probably true. But he knew more about celebrity chefs than I did!


One of the questions was about the seafood-based stew from France. He talked about Moqueca from Brazil and Cioppino from San Francisco, but couldn't come up with the name of the one from France. So, I told him I'd make it for him this weekend. And I figured it would be the perfect celebration dinner for Jake's and my 18th wedding anniversary. It was!


It just so happened that this dish was mentioned in Cooking for Picasso: A Novel by Camille Aubray.* I had originally picked up this book as it was supposed to be one of our Cook the Books' selections for the year, but the hostesses swapped it out for another. So, I picked it up yesterday while everyone else worked on school projects. I crawled under the covers, devoured the entire book, and made a Cooking for Picasso-inspired dish for my anniversary dinner.

On the Page
This was a quick, fun read. While I was just complaining about authors spanning different locations and times as an overused literary device, this book does it seamlessly and beautifully. First we have Ondine, as a teenager in Juan-les-Pins, in southeastern France, on the Côte d'Azur. She delivers food to visiting artist Pablo Picasso who is hiding out there under the nome de guerre, M. Ruiz. Then we have Ondine's grandaughter, Céline, who travels back to France to solve a mystery. That's all I'll say about the plot.

I thoroughly savored the descriptions of food, contemplated the art and life of Picasso, and enjoyed an armchair jaunt around the south of France. Yes, there were some stereotypical characters and predictable storylines, but it was fast-paced and enjoyable.

About Ondine's first love... "The boy was named Luc.... Ondine sneaked food to him, usually some savory tartelettes made of her best pastry and whatever nourishing bits of meat and vegetables she could find. Luc was always hungry, yet he showed his gratitude not by wolfing down what she gave him, but by eating slowly, deliberately, reverentially. Ondine loved to place food into his strong, confident hands and then watch him lift it to his eager mouth" (pg. 16).

About a baked goods (when Céline is taking a cooking class)... "A baguette dough, a puff pastry made of folded multi-layers of butter and flour, a cake made of almond flour, and cookies of ground hazelnuts. The whole experience turned out to be so unexpectedly sensual - the warm yeasty scent of bread rising, and the soft, fleshy dough yielding beneath our kneading touch" (pg. 193).

In the Bowl
Bouillabaisse is France's classic Mediterranean fisherman's stew. From what I read, to be considered a classic bouillabaise the fish needs to be fresh, local, and at least five different kinds included. I love that the broth has orange peel, saffron, and fennel. I could see Grandma Ondine cooking this for Picasso!

Ingredients
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, diced with fronds reserved for garnish, approximately 2 C
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, trimmed and diced, approximately 2 C
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 C diced tomatoes
  • 5 C vegetable stock
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • peel from 1 organic orange (I used a Cara Cara)
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • pinch of chili flakes or cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound clams (I used Littleneck)
  • 1 pound squid, cleaned
  • 3/4 pound salmon (I used wild Coho)
  • 3/4 pound mussels
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • fresh herbs for garnish (I used parsley and the fronds from the fennel)
Procedure

In a Dutch oven or heavy lidded pot, melt butter in olive oil. Add in the fennel and leeks. Sweat until they are tender, but not browned, approximately 15 to 18 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they begin to lose their shape, approximately 5 minutes. Pour in the wine. And bring to a boil. Boil until the liquid is reduced by half, then pour in the stock and water. Add in the orange peel, bay leaves, saffron, and chili flakes. Bring to a boil again, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Now, add in the seafood: first, the salmon; then the mussels and clams. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes before adding in the squid and shrimp. Simmer until the shrimp is just cooked through at the shellfish is open. This took about 10 minutes total from adding the salmon till the clams opened. Stir in the lemon juice and adjust seasoning to taste. You may think it needs more salt, pepper, and chili flakes.


Remove from heat and ladle into individual serving bowls. Garnish with parsley and fennel. Serve immediately.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in March 2018: here.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Recipe Testing: Gâteau Aux Pommes De Grand-Mère


For dessert last Friday, I wanted to serve Gâteau Aux Pommes De Grand-Mère, but couldn't find a definitive version. It seems that everyone's French grandmother had her own version. Seriously. 


So, I read, researched, and combined elements of various recipes into two different versions. 


Then we taste-tested and one bubbled to to the top as the favorite. That's the version I'll share here. But what they had in common: apples, brandy, eggs, flour, sugar, and vanilla. The leavening agent was different and one included French yogurt in the batter.

Ingredients

  • 8 T (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 t vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 t pure lemon extract
  • 3 T brandy
  • 3/4 C flour
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 4 apples, peeled and thinly sliced (I used organic Pacific Rose apples)

Procedure
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a baking dish; I used an 8" pie pan. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, vanilla bean paste, lemon extract, and brandy. Whisk in the sugar until smooth and well-combined.

Add in the flour and baking powder, stirring until just moistened. Fold in the apples. Then turn the batter into the prepared pan.


Bake until the cake is browned on top and firm, approximately 50 to 55 minutes. Allow to cool completely before covering it with a clean towel or a cake dome. This cake is best made the day before you plan to serve.


I'll share the other recipe soon, too.

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