Monday, July 13, 2015

Mint Sticky Rolls with Lemon Glaze


My monster mint is on a rampage yo. My spearmint is currently the biggest culprit but other varieties I grow in my garden are proliferating to science fiction proportions.


Those of us who grow our own herbs know that, unless contained, fresh mint can run rampant in a garden. It returns every year with a vengeance. Mine even escapes the raised bed in PA, then it jumps outside the garden enclosure and starts rooting on the lawn outside. It's a mint war at my place I tell ya.


When I expanded my mint variety to include, apple mint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, orange mint and spearmint, I made sure I grew these in large pots instead of planting them in the ground. I do this both in NYC on our terrace and in the country because if mint has space, it will take it and run.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Seven Great Things to Do on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman

Photo Credit (left) Red Sail Sports

Full disclosure: I was a guest of the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa participating in a press trip. My airfare, room, food, beverages and activities were all courtesy of the hotel. However, the views and opinions expressed in this post are purely and entirely my own. 


Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa

19 years ago, I had one unforgettable trip to the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman. and have just recently returned. My oh my, how almost two decades have changed the face of what used to be a mostly diver's only paradise that is Grand Cayman. 

Most people who read this blog already know I am a passionate scuba junkie. I brought my gear along on this trip, planning to sneak in some dives and was even encouraged to do so by our hosts. There were so many other fun activities to explore, I didn't get the chance. Shame on me. Someone needs to take away my C card. However, I don't regret a minute.


Photo Credit (Right) Red Sail Sports

Nowadays in Grand Cayman, scuba enthusiasts rub shoulders with foodies, couples about to tie the knot and a new breed of tourists looking for a destination fun for families and singles. This is the first in a series of posts about Grand Cayman, because there's lots to show and tell above water, not just below.


Photo Credit (extreme right) Red Sail Sports

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sauerkraut Spelt Hand Pies



It came as a big surprise that my first attempt at hand pies would be a savory version. I always thing of sweet first.


These are a German twist on hand pies using a sauerkraut, apple, ham and potato filling. The filling ingredients are  flexible according to your taste.  For a vegetarian version, the ham can be  left behind . 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Rocking the Rainbow Vegetable Flammkuchen for Pride


What a huge victory in the USA for the GLBT community. Gay marriage is dead. Long live...MARRIAGE.  It's been a long hard fight for equality. I am not in NYC this weekend to celebrate but my heart is dancing here from the beautiful Cayman Islands.



To celebrate, I'm posting a rainbow recipe, of course. 

Flammkuchen (Translation: Flame Cake) originates from the Alsace region of France that borders Germany. Here's a vegetable twist on the classic bacon and onion version you can be proud of.

This recipe makes two flammkuchen which feeds four for a meal or 8-10 for appetizers. 


The cream layer is  schmand, a cream product rarely found in the USA. Schmand is a firm fresh cream product. You can easily, make your own. However if you don't want to bother, I suggest substituting ricotta for the schmand in this recipe.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Doughnut Roundup for National Doughnut Day


I haven't made doughnuts in a while. Shame on me. When I saw that it was National Doughnut Day today I was doubly shamed but inspired to go back and revisit some of my doughnut recipes previously posted on this blog and impressed myself a little. 


Now it's your turn. From root beer to roses to red wine, I've used some crazy, and fun ingredients in the past to flavor doughnuts in the past. Here they are in one post. Clicking on the title or the photo takes you to the post.

Happy National Doughnut Day!



These crullers are perfectly crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with a lovely rose flavor. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ramp Potato Swirl Rolls


Trying to get ahold of ramps this season was, well, trying. I did manage to nab a bunch at the farmers market early on in the season. Because it was so early, their bulbs were tiny and the leaves not so big. 

Subsequent passes thought the market revealed bigger and better bunches but I always was on my way somewhere that wasn't conducive to dragging these garlicky bunches along with. 


Last weekend I finally made a trip solely to secure several bunches to cook and bake with. Unfortunately only one vendor had them and they were in the form of a sad pile of naked ramp bulbs, stripped of their luscious leaves. Cue the horror show music.


I almost gave up until a friend suggested I try Whole Foods. I skidded into their produce section late that evening just before they closed and there they were, piles of gorgeous ramps with big beautiful bulbs and large elegant leaves. $20 later I headed home clutching my bag of precious cargo.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Macaron Monday: Green Apple French Macarons


Tart sour Granny Smith apples are my favorite. Just the name Granny Smith makes my mouth water. 


Finding a way to transfer the flavor came easy with adding flavor oil to the shell batter. For the green apple color, I used a neon green food color for both the shells and the filling. 


These green apple French macarons will make you pucker up for more. The flavor is perfect. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Macaron Monday: Rose French Macaron with Strawberry Filling


Rose and strawberry flavors are some of my favorite and they come together beautifully in this French Macaron.This batch was donated to a local benefit last weekend. I had been thinking a lot about what flavors to make, revisiting creations I had made before.  The final delivery contained three different flavors. Besides these, I made a batch of  Jasmine and one of Chocolate with chocolate ginger buttercream filling.



The problem was the day was humid. Humidity and making French macarons are a recipe for disaster. The chocolate ones I had to make twice because I was doing so many other tasks in the kitchen at the same time, I forgot to ad the granualated white sugar to the egg whites and ened up with cracked shells with no feet. 

In general, the shells for all the macarons turned out to be extremely delicate and crushed easily. I covered them with disco dust to hide imperfections before delivering them.


For the rose strawberry version, I added rose extract and pink coloring to the shells. The contents of a  jar of strawberry preserves were briefly run through a food processor to smooth out any lumps and smeared between the shells. The fragrant floral essence of the shells balanced beautifully with the sweet seasonal strawberry filling. The trick is not to use too much filling to leave room for the rose flavor.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chocolate Chip Recipe Roundup for National Chocolate Chip Day!


Rarely do I celebrate these food "days" that seem to pop up all over the place. However. Chocolate chips always get my attention. Like many hobby bakers out there, my first experience with chocolate chips was making chocolate chip cookies when I was a little girl.



My mother used to make them and I would watch, often snatching a small handful of chips to eat. Then when I was old enough, I would help her. Tollhouse chocolate chips cookies always remind me of my childhood and of being in the kitchen with her. 



Before she retired, my mother was a working single mom, a schoolteacher. The rare time she spent in the kitchen  during the school year was often harried. My European grandmother did most of the cooking. Summers were when my mom would handle most of the meals because she had time. Then was when we could expect homemade everything from ice cream to blueberry pancakes made with blueberries picked from the bushes in our yard. 


I often thought if my mom, who is a pretty good artist as well, did not have to work, how she would have loved to explore crafting and cooking and raising animals .


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Strawberry Butter Cake with Black Pepper Streusel


"Streusel" originates from a word meaning strewn or scattered in German. Streusel cakes have a long history in Germany. This version is a delightful, colorful cake showcasing seasonal fresh strawberries. I've tweaked the streusel, adding black pepper for a layer of spice flavor.


The yeasted dough cake base is smothered in lemon scented butter. A generous layer of luscious fresh strawberries are scattered creating the middle layer which is then topped with slightly spicy black pepper accented streusel topping. You can adjust the spice level in the streusel topping by simply adding more black pepper to taste. 


This cake takes a bit of time to make because there is a total rise time of one hour and 10 minutes. The other steps go rather quickly. Regardless, the results are worth the time investment.