Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pomelo Cocktails & August LOL Food Blogger Posts


After my last post I had a good amount of pomelo syrup left over. What to do?  Cocktails of course!


Pomelo Martini

Ingredients:
  • 1 oz of Vodka (preferable from the freezer)
  • 1/2 oz Pomelo Syrup
  • Dash of simple syrup
Directions:

  • Dip the rim of the glass in the syrup and then into a saucer filled with sugar.
  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Shake and pour into glass straining the ice.
  • Garnish with a slice of pomelo or in this case, candied pomelo rinds.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trip To Bountiful - Vanilla Cupcakes with Pomelo Buttercream and Pink Grapefruit Curd Filling


Every time I visit California, it reminds me of how spoiled I was when I lived there from the abundance and varieties of produce.

I mentioned previously my recent  stay with my friend Trudi in Temecula, California. Her wonderful kitchen was the scene of my latest macaron disaster. I raved about her kitchen but what I failed to mention is she lives on a 30 acre avocado farm.  The avocados are the Hass variety. I can't get enough of them when I visit, especially since good avocados are hard to come by in Germany.

At Trudi's you can just pick one of the tree, slice it in half and eat it with a spoon. They melt in your mouth. With over 600 avocado trees, an avocado lover like me could go nuts.  The grove was picked several weeks ago when I stopped in for a couple of days. Unfortunately, I was short on time then and missed my opportunity to make something with the avocados.

However, she also has a fruit grove with so many delicious thing growing in it..persimmons, olives, the most delicious ruby red grapefruits I have ever tasted, strange shaped apples, lemon-limes, huge lemons, tangerines, peaches, passion fruit vines...to name just a few...

strange shaped apples

The pomelos were literally falling off the tree. When I almost got beaned in the head by one, I decided renegade fruit was giving me a sign to start baking.  Every morning I ate the sweetest fresh picked red grapefruits, so I decided to combine the two flavors in this recipe.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hazelnut Marzipan Brownies


Back when I was a TV producer on the talk show, Attitudes, I got sent tons of books a week. I honestly don't know when I received this brownie book from a publicist, I remember I pitched it as a segment but I still don't remember if it ever made it to air.  I do know that of the 200 cookbooks I had, this one made the cut to the handful that moved to Germany with me. Well, the proof did. I never received the finished copy.

The 55 Best Brownies in the World is a collection of award winning brownie recipes from all over America.  Probably many of the contributors have blogs now. You can buy the book now for 1 US cent on Amazon.


Unfortunately, a google search did not reveal the whereabouts of the creator of this recipe, nor any further info on The Great American Brownie Bake from where these award winning 55 brownie recipes came from.  Regardless. To Julia Richardson - thanks for the wonderful brownie inspiration.


Marzipan Brownies
(Adapted from the Recipe by Julia Richardson, Denver, Colorado from The 55 Best Brownies in the World By Honey & Larry Zisman, St. Martin's Press August 1991)


Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened Chocolate
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Amaretto
  • 7 ounces of hazelnut marzipan (recipe follows)

Directions:

  • Grease an 8 inch square pan and preheat oven to 350
  • Melt chocolate and butter together in a microwave or saucepan.
  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
  • Add sugar to chocolate and add eggs one at a time.
  • Add Amaretto
  • Fold in the flour mixture.
  • Spread half the batter in the pan
  • Set hazelnut marzipan square over the batter and spread the rest of the batter on top.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Fine's (Like Crack) Potato Salad and How the Recipe Almost Traumatized Me


My German mother in law, Fine (pronounced Feen-eh - short for Josefine) makes, hands down, the best potato salad I have ever tasted.  It's crack addictive.

Seriously.

Ever since that first bite many years ago, I'm hooked and there's no going back. This potato salad is a delicious dance of sweet and sour and just yum. It's one of the few things my husband and I fight over. We've been known, large spoons in hand, to push each other out of the way to be the one to get to it first.

All bets are off when he, I and that potato salad are in the same room.

Now that's a lot drama surrounding a bowl of kartoffeln but wait until I tell you what happened about four years ago.

Back then Dr. B had accepted a six month position in Iraq with the UN Peacekeeping mission based in Baghdad (he's still there but that's another story.)  When it was confirmed he was going,  I thought to myself, ok, I can take it for six months but as the day drew closer I was becoming more and more anxious. In the meantime, my close friends Wendy and Alan had generously invited me to stay with them in NYC for the duration. Everyone thought it would be easier on me if I wasn't left at home by myself.

We made a plan to leave on the same day, he to Iraq and I to NYC.   He was flying from Düsseldorf and I was flying a bit later from Cologne.  I went with him to the Düsseldorf airport and when we said goodbye I was trying hard not to be a mess.  I'll never forget,  wiping away my tears, he said "I'm coming back to you. I Promise."  Then he handed me an envelope and said "This is my last secret.  Open it when you are on the train."  I shoved it in my pocket.  As we said our last "I love you"s, I reluctantly let go of him and watched him head for security, thinking hard about the word "security" and it's many meanings...

Dr. B in a Black Hawk over Iraq


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bananas and Cream Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Glaze


Oh the mixed emotions of denial, guilt and excitement of having bananas lay dying right in front of you.

Several times you walk by and remind yourself "I have to eat one before it's too late" as you see their beautiful yellow skins start to speckle with brown flecks.

This twinge of guilt grows inside you as they get browner and browner.



But still you don't eat one.

Instead, you console yourself with "They will be so delicious to bake with now" but that day never seems to come.

Then just as they are almost black, like a superhero, you suddenly shrug off your lethargy.

Adrenaline kicks as your heart starts pumping.

You switch into full Emergency Baking Response (EBR) mode. Your fingers seem to have magical powers of their own as they fly over the keyboard frantically searching the web for a recipe rescue.

Not just any recipe. You need something ultra delicious to alleviate your guilt and compensate for letting those poor suckers die right in front of you.

You want to cling to the notion those brave and beautiful bananas were sacrificed for a noble cause.

In this case, oh they were... for a 

Banana Bunt Cake with Burnt Butter Frosting



Saturday, August 14, 2010

You Can Get Anything You Want at Alice's Restaurant - Cheesecake with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust and Sour Cream Rose Hips Glaze


When I was a teenager, I worked as an assistant baker at Alice's Restaurant. Yep, the one in the Arlo Guthrie song. Well not actually the restaurant. The original one was in an old church in West Stockbridge, MA. Some years after her fame and success, Alice bought a new place, an old estate called Avaloch in Lenox, MA with a desirable location directly across the street from Tanglewood's main gate. Those of you who are familiar with the Berkshires know where I mean.

Alice's was a crazy and fun place to work with all her famous friends trailing in and out of the kitchen and the creative hippies that worked there. Jackson Browne once put his finger in my batter.

I'm sorry.

That didn't sound right.

Anywho, Alice was an amazing and talented character. It couldn't have been easy for her being a strong, independent business woman going up against the good old boy network in our little vacation town. She also possessed a legendary temper. Many of the bowls and pots in the kitchen had dents in them from when she would throw them around. (We never did find out who did leave the shrimp out overnight.) I learned so much there, not just about throwing things in the kitchen, which I still do enjoy from time to time but about how much fun and love go into baking and cooking and what a wonderful communal feeling it is to make and share food together.

At the restaurant, I would arrive in the wee hours of the morning and help make dozens of loaves of bread. Using a huge standing up Hobart mixer I would make 25 cheesecakes at a time. I definitely had some memorable Lucy moments, like practically having to punch my way back into the baking room of the kitchen the time I left a huge amount of bread dough to rise for too long. I also learned what can happen when your butter covered hand slips and accidentally flings the switch on a standing Hobart mixer up several speeds too quickly. You get completely covered in batter with only your eye holes showing. That wasn't a good day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Agave Rose Baklava with Pistachio & Macadamia Nuts


I am a huge agave fan. I make ice cream with it and use it in many of my daily foods from drizzling it over my morning spelt to adding it to everything from home made tomato sauce to tea.


Making baklava with agave is something I have wanted to do for awhile. I just kept changing my mind about the other flavors.   

I admit, part of my procrastination was one part intimidation and one part stubbornness. I had never worked with phyllo dough before so I was a little intimidated. But being the mule that I am, I also wanted to set aside enough time make my own phyllo dough. After some research, I realized I not only was I insane, didn't have the right tools (I mean who has what looks like a 10 foot long rolling pin lying around?), but I was also severely lacking in the expertise department as well. I caved and bought Greek phyllo dough from a local Turkish market here in our village. It's been sitting in my freezer taunting me every time I open the door.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mactweets Movie Challenge - King of Hearts and My BFMF (Big Fat Macaron Failure)


The Amazing Jamie and Deeba over at Mactweets fun and exciting challenge this month was to create a macaron around a favorite movie.

I immediately thought of King of Hearts.  For those of you not familiar with this film, it's French, takes place at the end of WWI and stars Alan Bates as a soldier who is in charge of de-mining a village. He arrives to find the entire town evacuated. Only the inmates of the insane asylum are left behind. They declare him "The King of Hearts", escape and take over the town.


A young and absolutely darling Genevieve Bujold stars as an inmate/tightrope walker/love interest of Bate's character.


I first saw this movie when I was a teenager, every time after that I found something new in it's message.  It says a lot about reality and illusion and the definition of insanity, especially when it comes to waging war.

I still find it funny, touching and brilliant.

I wish I could say as much for my macarons. They were flatfooted, uninspired and embarrassing.

To be fair, I was not in my own kitchen when I made them. I am traveling for three months and was staying at my friend Trudi's when I made these. She has a dream kitchen, two dishwashers for Pete's sake, just beautiful. But alas no help for my BFMF.


My plan was to make pastel heart shaped macarons (I love the pastel tones in the movie) with a red glitter heart painted on the shells filled with Nutty World Peace Buttercream.


I did have all my baking supplies together. However, it was hot, I did not have a scale or properly aged egg whites and, as usual, I was overly ambitious. I was also in a damn hurry as I was leaving the next day.