Monday, June 26, 2017

Nectarine Honey Lavender Tart

I'm all about quick and easy desserts for summer weekends. Whether it be drop bys or invited guests,  our deck is usually full.

I'm cheating  bit with this recipe using store bought puff pastry, but something's got to give when you have non stop guests and other people's parties to attend. Feeling entitled to cheat here. 

You seriously can't go wrong with ripe juicy nectarines. The most labor intensive part of this recipe is slicing them. Seriously.

Roll out the puff pastry sheet, toss the nectarine slices with honey and lavender buds, arrange them on the puff pastry, bake and you're done. 

Four ingredients people. Four.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Day of Deliciousness and Delights in Haifa Israel

My recent trip to Israel was an incredible edible experience. After a TBEX conference in Jerusalem and a few days exploring that magical city, nine of us headed north on a press trip on a four-day culinary tour of Northern Israel. 

From our base in Haifa at the cushy Dan Carmel Hotel, we explored the Western Galilee, Haifa, Nazareth and the Carmel region.

The Dan Carmel Hotel, our hosts on our trip up north is perfectly situated on a hill overlooking the city and one of the most famous gardens in the world.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fresh Classic Baguettes with Strawberry Butter: June's King Arthur Flour's Bakalong

This month's King Arthur Flour Bakealong is simply delicious. If you have ever dreamed of turning out perfect golden crusted tasty baguettes from your own oven, you have to try this recipe.

This recipe takes a bit of commitment and time to make but I loved learning new skills while completing some of the steps. 

First, you make the starter (a 14-hour resting process.)  Mixing, kneading and shaping the bread take a lot of additional rest and rise time. However, I would be lying if I didn't say when the bread came out of the oven, I wasn't giddy with satisfaction over the success of creating homemade baguettes. 

In full disclosure, this blog has no professional affiliation with King Arthur Flour but I'm learning new skills and having a ton of fun with their bakealongs keep me coming back every month. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Coconut Mint Rhubarb Swirl Cheesecake

Raise your hand if you look forward to rhubarb season every year.  If you have never tasted rhubarb anything, you are in for a treat. 

I recently made a classic strawberry rhubarb pie for a United Nations spouse event we hosted at our home in Pennsylvania. I may have intentionally bought too many rhubarb stalks when I saw them in the farmers market. Way too many than I needed for that pie but always a good excuse to experiment with more rhubarb recipes. 

Not that I need an excuse. 

Some of my greatest rhubarb recipes are at the bottom of this post but let's talk cheesecake. Specifically this crazy flavor mashup cheesecake.

The cheesecake batter contains coconut milk and mint extract. The rhubarb is cooked separately with sugar, pureed and swirled into the batter. Garnishing the final product with mint leaves and coconut flakes amps up the pretty. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Almond Crusted Eggs on a Sage Flower Herb Salad

If nut encrusted eggs are not a thing yet, they should be.  How did something this good escape me all of these years?

Hard boiled eggs basically get the schnitzel making treatment here. They are dredged in flour, beaten egg, a breadcrumb crushed almond combo and then gently pan fried in olive oil. An extremely easy process with a fancy looking result. 

My new Favorite Circulon Ultimum 9.75-inch Skillet made this recipe a breeze.

An extra large sage plant in my country garden recently burst into beautiful purple flowers. The flowers have a lovely sage flavor and are a perfect addition to summer salads. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Chanterelle Dill Roesti

Fresh chanterelles and dill add a beautiful flavor to this traditional Swiss dish, a favorite of German-speaking parts of Switzerland. 

Traditional potato rösti are often served with apple sauce or a creamy dipping sauce. I would recommend both for this dish. For the creamy sauce, a garlic-spiked, curry or horseradish flavor with a sour cream base would work. Just mix in desired amounts of your preferred flavor into a cup of full or low-fat sour cream.

Chantelle mushrooms vary from Europe to the states. Generally, in Europe, they are much smaller in size, and some say, most flavorful. 

If you can find European style chanterelle mushroom for making this recipe, I highly recommend them. However, you can also substitute your favorite mushroom variety. Fresh mushrooms work best for this dish.

This recipe works as an appetizer or a main dish. to serve as a starter, simply miniaturize the size of the patties. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Lemon Basil Beef Roulade

Aside from throwing hamburgers or the occasional steak on the grill, it can just be too dang hot in the summer to eat beef.  This recipe is a delicious alternative. The beef is thinly sliced so no change of meat overload. 

The star of this dish is the tangy lemon basil flavor accented with sweet port wine. If you can't find Black Forest ham, any smoked ham can be substituted, however, the more thinly sliced, the easier it will be to work with. 
If you like, you can leave out the ham entirely, although it makes the end result more flavorful.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Orange Fennel Scallops

In full disclosure, for the past 20 years, I have not eaten anything that comes from the sea. This was not always the case. Before my self-imposed seafood ban, I loved scallops. Specifically, sea scallops.

One consequence of my seafood aversion is there are little to no fish or seafood recipes on this blog. I do however, have a few hits to share in the next months. 

I originally found a version of this recipe in a German cooking magazine. Even a non fish eater like me had to bow down to the flavor combo.

In this recipe, large juicy sea scallops are seared in extra virgin olive oil and served on a bed of caramelized fennel-accented with the bright citrus flavor of fillet orange slices. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ramp Cherry Tomato Tart with Parmesan Crust

Ramps are getting very scarce at the markets so this is my last ramp recipe offering for the season. I offer up a tart wth a fabulous flavor combination. The parmesan crust cradles a luscious mascarpone cream flavored with fresh ramps studded with caramelized red onions and fresh sliced cherry tomatoes.

Yum doesn't even begin to cut it. I don't what feature of this tart I like best, the garlicky cream, sharp cheesy crust or the colorful sweet-sour sting of the fresh tomatoes. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Turkey Meatballs in Yogurt Sauce Smothered in Melted Gruyere

Creamy yogurt sauce and rich, nutty tasting gruyere cheese make this baked seasoned turkey meatball casserole dish a winner. The dish is light enough for warm weather dinners or hearty enough for cold weather months. I love a flexible recipe.

If you prefer, replace the ground turkey with ground chicken, veal or pork.  The turkey meatballs are mixed with chopped red onion and seasoned with fresh garlic and oregano.

This recipe contains schmand, a creamy mixture, not easily found outside of Germany. A quick version of schmand is very easy to make. The simple recipe is included below.  The schmand is mixed with Greek yogurt to provide the creaminess in the recipe. 

You can  substitute sour cream, full fat or a lighter version. for the schmand or omit it completely and use 1 +3/4 cups of yogurt.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Chicken Cornflakes Schnitzel with Apple Sauerkraut

This quick and easy schnitzel recipe produces the crunchiest schnitzel ever. Cornflakes not only provide the crunch but also add extra layer of delicious flavor. You can switch out the meat variety to your preference. 

Apple sauerkraut, a sweet and sour German side dish, is the perfect compliment to the chicken schnitzel. Make it to go with the schnitzel or just as a side dish or sausage or hot dog topping. 

Made together or separately, both are delicious riffs on traditional German recipes. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Leek Mustard Bacon Soup

How can it be almost June here on the East Coast and the weather showing us no summer love by insisting on remaining cold and rainy? 

It's soup weather, I tell ya. I was going to save this recipe for a fall post but my feet are cold today and I wish I still had some waiting for me in the fridge today.

This flavor-packed recipe is sure to warm the cockles of your heart and hands (what are cockles anyway?) It is sure to take the edge of this early summer chill in the air. 

The soup is very easy to make. Omit the bacon for a vegetarian version. Lighten up the cream with a lower fat version or Half and Half. 

Make sure you clean the leeks carefully. Beware that pockets of dirt can hide in the cracks. This soup is very thick, almost the consistency of oatmeal. The recipe serves four but can easily be stretched to six people if eaten as a snack or served with a side salad. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Blueberry Hyssop Streusel Cake

I'll address the elephant on the blog right away. What the hell is hyssop? For those of you who don't know, this strong flavored herb is commonly made into an expectorant and ingested in tea form. 

I also discovered it has been used for hundreds of years to clean holy places as well as to ward off evil and even as an aphrodisiac. Hyssop has been around and gets around. 

A pretty lofty task for an unassuming looking green plant. I feel almost guilty taking it down a peg by pairing it with plain old workhorse blueberry but it turns out they make a great duo.

My hyssop plant was an impulse buy from the local farmers market. I don't expect most people who have a garden to have it on hand. You can substitute mint, rosemary, basil or any other type of herb for the hyssop and this recipe would work just as well.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Golden Beet Feta Tarragon Tart in a Whole Wheat Crust

This started out as a radish tart recipe originally found in a magazine but I could not find the radish variety I wanted to use for the tart (watermelon). Then I saw these gawgeous golden beets in the market and made up my own recipe.

The original recipe called for store bought pie crust. I made my own whole wheat version. I added feta and tarragon to the egg-based filling. 

Before placing the beets in the tart shell I painted the slices with olive oil and roasted them to bring out their flavor. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Red, White & Blue Hummus for Your Next Holiday Barbecue

Since I am back from Israel I have had hummus on the brain. There was a LOT of hummus consumption on that trip as well as a hummus making class in Jerusalem. 

One of the ah-ha moments I had in that class I took was the practice of thinning out the hummus with water. I always add more oil. The water gives the hummus a much better consistency. Sounds simple but I never got it until now. I love learning new things. The simple ones make me happiest.

Regular visitors here know I love to do terrible, well, some would say, delicious things to hummus. Only terrible if you are a stickler for the traditional variety. I add all sorts of herbs, veggies, and flavors. I've made nutty hummus and squashy hummus. I've carroted, olived, herbed and caramelized it. 

Don't judge. If you are a hummus purist or have an aversion to blue foods click away now. Don't say I didn't warn you. 

We throw a lot of parties at our Pennsylvania house. Many times I have wonderful foodie and food blogger friends join me in the kitchen and we cook up a storm. They contribute all sorts of creative and delectable dishes. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kleckskuchen - Cherry Poppy Seed Streusel Cake

I am not going to lie. This cake is a production. There are 5 different elements to create to pull this thing together. However,  it's a cake with benefits. 

Not those benefits. Get your minds out of the gutter.

This dessert's benefits include: 1) It feeds a crowd 2) its unusual beauty  3) streusel 4) of course, it's delicious. 5) Did I mention streusel?

The best benefit of all is, you can say you made a "blob" cake.  The cake is called a Kleckskuchen in German which translates to something like "blob cake" which makes me giggle like a hyena. Say it with me, "Blob Cake. Blob Cake. Blob. Cake."

Kleckskuchen is a specialty of Oberlausitz or the Upper Lusatia region of Germany and Poland which dates back to the 1400s. Like most German desserts, it is comparatively low in sugar than it's American counterparts but does not sacrifice flavor. 

The recipe consists of a yeasted cake base and the four separate topping elements added on top of the cake base in blobs on to create the patchwork effect. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Nazareth: A Whirlwind of Delicious Foods and Warm Hospitality

Nazareth is many things. A city packed with historical and religious significance, a place where unique unifying efforts are being made between religions and cultures and a great foodie destination.

Located in the lower Galilee region of Israel and best known for its historical sites such as Mary's Well and Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth has been traditionally a day destination for many travelers. 

A mistake, in my opinion. There is so much more to this fascinating city aside from the checklist Jesus and Mary sites. The arts and food scenes are thriving. The people are wonderful and friendly. Nazareth is worth a few days stay.