Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Orange Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

One of my family’s favorite treats when we are on vacation at the lake is homemade ice cream. We dig out the well aged but still extremely effective ice cream maker and experiment with a multitude of flavors. Starting the summer out with a citrus centered flavor seemed to sound delicious so I decided today’s flavor would be orange. The fresh orange juice and rind mixed with cream provides a remembrance of the old fashioned creamsicle, but fresher and creamier. The ice cream base for this recipe is a custard base; therefore it includes cream and egg yolks that are heated. This eliminates any worry associated with raw eggs. Then, just because I like a little extra crunch and spark in my ice cream I stirred in some really good quality chopped dark chocolate. I hope you and your family enjoy making this fun summer treat too.

And now, “Bon appetite, now we may eat!”

Orange Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

(1 quart)

3 oranges, juiced (about ¾ cup juice)

2 T orange rind

1 cup sugar

2 cups cream

Dash of salt

4 egg yolks

½ cup chopped dark chocolate

Heat cream, ¾ cup sugar, 1 T orange rind, and dash of salt to a boil, take off heat and cover for 15 minutes. Beat egg yolks and ¼ cup sugar until thick and pale yellow in color. Slowly whisk egg mixture into cream mixture then bring to a simmer over medium heat, do not boil. Take off heat and place saucepan in a large bowl with ice water. Whisk mixture until cool, about 10 minutes, then mix in orange juice and remaining orange rind. Freeze ice cream mixture in an ice cream maker. Mix in chopped chocolate and put in freezer for about 2 hours prior to serving.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Orange Salsa Salad

Summer just wouldn’t be summer without some brilliant citrus fruit around. Although I try to keep all types on hand, one of my favorites is the orange. They are a great source of vitamin C, which makes them a healthy snack for the kids. They are always refreshing and go with many summer dishes, like fish, grilled shellfish, chicken, or even tri-tip. I love to make sauces, frozen and baked treats, salads, and so many other things with oranges but I had to pick one to share with you for today so I chose an Orange Salsa Salad. This salad is inspired from a salad by my mom, with a few variations in dressing and preparation. I loved the basic flavor combinations when she served it to me and had to make it my own.

This Orange Salsa Salad is a fantastic side for any summer barbeque. It has some nice salsa like flavors but isn’t spicy which makes it appealing to everyone. One very important element to making this salad is that the oranges are sectioned, cutting them from the pith. Otherwise the peel and pith will cause the salad to take on a stale bitter flavor as it marinades. To prepare the orange in this way, first cut off all of the peel, ensuring that no white remains. Then holding the orange in one hand, use a knife to cut on each side of the segment to remove the section, repeating this all the way around the orange. While this takes some time it is well worth it, not only because it guarantees proper taste but it looks beautiful as well. I have served this as a side to a barbeque tri-tip dinner and also roast chicken; it was a hit on both occasions!

And now, “Bon appetite, now we may eat!”

Orange Salsa Salad

(Serves 6)

12 oranges, segments cut from pith

1 medium red onion, sliced

3 T chopped fresh cilantro

3 T olive oil

1 T balsamic vinegar

Section oranges by cutting the oranges segments from the pith, ensuring no white remains. Drain the oranges segments in a strainer, juice can be saved for some other purpose. Slice onions and chop cilantro, place in a bowl. Add orange segments and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss lightly and marinade for an hour before serving.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grilled Mojito Scallops and Coconut Mint Rice

Today, I decided that for dinner I was going to embrace my mint in as many ways as possible. I spent some time thinking about different proteins to pair it with, how I could incorporate it into some side dishes, and what vegetables it would work well with. Also, I wanted to use mint in more of a raw form and create some savory dishes with this refreshing ingredient. I kept coming back to one of my favorite mint food memories. A few summers ago while on vacation at Lake Tahoe, our family went out to dinner and sat out on the restaurant patiothatoverlooked the lake where we enjoyed some refreshing mojitos. That was the first time I had a mojito and ever since I like to enjoy this refreshing cocktail on hot summer days just like that one.

So, in tribute, I decided to create a meal with similar flavors. As my protein, I chose scallops; with their sweet flavor and versatility in pairing I thought they would be a good choice. In order to provide some complexity in flavor and texture to the scallops, I grilled my scallops after coating them with a spicy and sweet light rub. Brown sugar in the rub aided in creating a nice crunchy sear, while the garlic powder and cumin added some nice distinct flavor additions. Then to really provide the traditional mojito flavor I served them with a delicate drizzle of themojito sauce, which incorporated the citrus, rum, and mint that I love from the mojito cocktail. The mint in this sauce was added after it was reduced so that it would remain fresh, while the warmth of the sauce could still absorb the taste and aroma.

Now, what to serve with my Grilled Mojito Scallops? I chose to create Coconut Mint Rice as my side. The creamy texture is wonderful on it’s own but adding some lime zest, fresh lime juice, and freshly minced mint at the end really set this dish off. Finally, I also prepared some simple grilled bell peppers and onions, which were coated with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Putting these three components of a meal together produced a delightful dance of mint on my plate, something that everyone in my family enjoyed.

And now shall we say, “Bon appetite, now we may eat!”

Grilled Mojito Scallops

(Serves 4-6)

24 large scallops

2 T garlic powder

1 T brown sugar

1/8 tsp cumin, toasted lightly in pan

1/8 tsp cinnamon, toasted lightly in pan

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Mojito Sauce

½ cup orange juice

¼ cup rum

¼ cup lime juice

2 T brown sugar

2 mint leaves, minced

In a dry pan, lightly toast the cumin and cinnamon, just until fragrant. To make the rub, mix together the garlic powder, brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels, then season lightly with the rub mixture. Heat grill and let the scallops sit until the grill is heated to about 400. Grill scallops, until seared on each side and cooked through, about 10 minutes. While waiting for the grill to heat, start the mojito sauce. Bring orange juice, rum, lime juice, and brown sugar to a simmer and reduce in half, about 10 to 15 minutes. Take the sauce off the heat and mix in the fresh minced mint. Serve the scallops with alight drizzle of the mojito sauce.

Coconut Mint Rice

(Serves 4-6)

1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)

1 cup water

1 clove garlic

1 T olive oil

1 ½ cups uncooked rice

½ tsp salt

1 tsp lime zest

1 ½ T fresh lime juice

6 mint leaves, minced

Heat oven to 350. In a 3 quart pan heat olive oil and add garlic, cook till fragrant. Add rice and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add coconut milk, water, and salt. Bring to a boil then cover and place into heated oven and bake for about 10 minutes. When rice is cooked through remove it from the oven and add lime zest and juice. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Add mince mint and mix through before serving.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mint Lemon Shortbread

This week I want to introduce you to my garden. It’s a modest suburban garden but I guarantee you that every square inch brings my family joy. We have a nice variety, a collection of about seven different herbs, tomatoes, four varieties of peppers, lettuce, radishes, carrots, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, and pumpkins. In my collection of herbs I am happy to say that my mint plant not only survived the winter but also is really back in full force. Thus given it’s heartiness I thought it could withstand a few recipes experiments and would be the perfect subject for this week’s ingredient choice.

Mint is one of summer’s most refreshing herbs. It is extremely aromatic with clean flavors. One technique that I think optimizes this aromatic quality is baking. Through the baking process the mint releases its oils, infusing the mint taste and fragrance throughout. One of my favorite items to bake is a cookie, so naturally I had to find the right cookie to showcase my freshly picked mint.

When choosing the type of cookie, it seemed important to choose something simple that would enhance the mint flavor and not cover it up. Uncomplicated butter cookies provide a clean palette with sweetness that varies from shortbread to sugar cookies. Because mint seems to have minimal need for much sugar and often is balanced with some type of citrus, I chose shortbread with a dusting of powdered sugar for just the right amount of sweetness and lemon for my citrus bitterness. This provides a light, melt in your mouth cookie with beautiful mint flavors.

And now shall we say, “Bon appetite, now we may eat!”

Mint Lemon Shortbread

(24 cookies)

1 cup unsalted butter, very soft

1 ½ cup flour

½ powdered sugar

2 T cornstarch

½ tsp salt

1 T fresh mint, minced

1 tsp lemon zest

Powdered sugar for dusting

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Scoop onto cookie sheet, lined with silpat. Bake for 15 minutes at 350. Dust with powdered sugar while warm.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Strawberry Almond Streusel Muffins

At this time of year, when strawberries are at their peak, its pretty much guaranteed that the first half flat doesn’t make it more than two days. So my family and I are usually stuck each week waiting for the next farmers market later in the week or finding a good local strawberry stand to get our fill.

And with my second half flat of the week purchased I found myself with a huge desire to make strawberry muffins. After much experimenting and taste testing by my family and friends we came to agreement that these Strawberry Almond Streusel Muffins were perfect to cure any muffin craving. With this method of mixing dry, fat, and liquid you will get light, buttery, and sweet muffins that showcase some amazing strawberries. Then the almond streusel gives that nice little crunch that nobody can resist.

And now shall we say, “Bon Appetite, now we may eat!”

Strawberry Almond Streusel Muffins

(12 muffins)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup sugar

1 T baking powder

¾ tsp salt

½ cup unsalted butter, cold

¾ cup milk

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp almond extract

¾ cup chopped strawberries

Streusel Topping:

¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

2 T unsalted butter

Heat oven to 375. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until evenly distributed. Cut cold butter into cubes and cut into flour mixture with a pastry cutter. In a separate bowl lightly whisk milk, egg, and almond extract. Fold liquids into dry mixture until just mixed, don’t over mix. Lightly fold in strawberries. Scoop into 12 muffins tins. Top with streusel mixture. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Streusel Topping: On the stovetop, in a small frying pan, lightly toast the sliced almonds. In a bowl, cut butter, flour, and sugar together until mixture is well combined. Mix in almonds.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Strawberry Salsa

Red, sweet, and delicious! Yes folks, its strawberry season. Our strawberry stand has been open for a few weeks now and is hitting its stride. This weekend I am picking up a half flat of Aromas strawberries at a stand in Southern California where they have 6 different varieties to choose from. It almost feels like wine tasting, each having a different complexity to its sweetness. The Aromas however seem to have just a little tang to them that I think will go well with some of the recipes I have planned for this week.

So, we all have seen dozens upon dozens of strawberry dessert recipes, I may even use some of my own this week with my red beauties. However, here at Fresh From Market I want to give you something different, a twist on the ingredient that enhances it’s flavor in a new way. Also, I do have an ulterior motive. With all the upcoming barbeque parties, and get-togethers coming with summer, I am in need of a good new appetizer recipe. I need something that will impress my friends, who are also excellent in the kitchen. That’s how I have come up with this tangy, sweet, and even spicy Strawberry Salsa. Yes, it does have sweetness to it but like all good salsa it has spice! I am going to serve it with pita chips but if there are leftovers I am thinking that drizzled over grilled halibut will be amazing too. We’ll see about the leftovers, all signs so far point to making more.

And now shall we say, “Bon Appetite, now we may eat!”

Strawberry Salsa

(3 cups)


2 baskets of strawberries, diced

½ cup diced red onion

¼ cup diced jalapeno pepper with seeds

3 T chopped cilantro

2 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons honey

salt and pepper to taste

Pita Chips, for serving


Mix all ingredients gently, being careful not to mash strawberries. Serve with pita chips.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lemon Zucchini Scones

“Tea anyone?”

With a few of the baby zucchinis left and my love for baked goods I thought it would be fun to try something new this morning, lemon zucchini scones. These scones are very fresh and light (not in calories mind you). The lemon and zucchini complement each other well and just to give them a little punch they include a dash of nutmeg and a grind of fresh pepper. Yes pepper, that wasn’t a typo.

Before we get baking, a few words on scones, and these in particular. After much research and baking many a scone there are few things to keep in mind when baking your first batch.

First, your butter must start cold and stay cold. This means that you mix your dry, have your liquid mixture ready on stand by, and only take the butter out of the fridge when you are ready to cut it into the dry mixture. When you are cutting in the butter try to avoid touching it with your hands. Your hands will warm the butter, so will a lot of friction, like a food processor or mixer, so just use a pastry cutter. Also, move quickly, once you have the butter cut in to the point that it looks like a cross between course cornmeal and very small peas, pour in your liquids and work them in with a spatula swiftly.

Second, don’t over mix your liquids into the dough. At the final stage you will mix the liquids in with the dries and it will not look all the way mixed. You may even be tempted to add liquid, “DON’T!” It just needs to be mixed enough to come together. By the way, it is only when you turn the dough out on to the work surface that you will touch it with your hands. Forming it into a large rectangle with your hands will help bind it together enough to form your scones. Just remember to work quickly and don’t overwork the dough. You know you’ve done it right if the scones are still cool to the touch when you place them on the baking sheet.

Now just a couple of notes about these scones. You will notice that the grated zucchini needs to be squeezed dry. This means that after you grate it, place it in the middle of a double layer of paper towels, fold the paper towels over the zucchini and press the liquid out of them. This is important so that the moisture content of the scones is correct. Next, when you use nutmeg, it’s always best to use freshly grated but if you don’t have that then just toast it in a pan over the stove and this will enhance the flavor. This doesn’t take very long, seconds really, so just when you start to smell the nutmeg aroma, take it off the fire and it’s done. Then finally, I dust these scones with vanilla sugar. Vanilla sugar is simply sugar infused with the smell and taste from a vanilla bean. You can make this with a vanilla bean that you possibly used in a previous recipe where you scrapped out the insides of the bean and were left with just the husk or outside of the bean. I like to just put the bean back in the jar and fill it with sugar so that I have it on hand any time I want sugar with a little extra flavor.

So with that, I know you will be successful in your scone adventures.

And now shall we say, “Bon Appetite, now we may eat!”

Lemon Zucchini Scones
(16 Servings)

2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg or toasted ground nutmeg
1 tsp lemon zest
½ cup grated zucchini, squeezed dry
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg
½ cup cream
Vanilla sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 375. With pastry cutter, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg and add cream, then set aside. Add lemon zest, zucchini, and cold butter to the dry mixture and cut it in with a pastry cutter until it resembles a cross between course cornmeal and very small peas. Add liquid mixture and mix together with a pastry cutter and then spatula until the dough starts to come together. Turn out on to flat working surface and quickly form the dough into a large rectangle; dough should be about an inch thick. Cut dough into 16 triangles or other desired shape and place onto baking sheet. Dust with vanilla sugar. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes at 375.