Welcome LOLA !

I have a special guest today!

large-logo-with-border5

Just in time for Thanksgiving, a super fun and surprising recipe by my friend Dolores.  She brings us a vibrant cranberry sauce with a subtle kick, a traditional non traditional and festive sauce that every Thanksgiving table needs. A little perk me up when things can go bland, and when you don’t want that plastic bottle of Sriracha in the middle of the table among the floral arrangements and goards.

Dolores at the Market

I’ve known Dolores for a really long time, we both grew up in Chino, California and have now both long moved from this suburban town.

For the past couple of years Dolores has been traveling through Oaxaca learning the regional cuisine and after some studying in Mexico for her masters thesis, she spent her off time taking cooking classes and getting more in depth with her rich Mexican heritage and her family’s cooking. Easy to say, she has one of those stories that involves a life long passion for cuisine, traditional flavors, cooking which she has now converted into a website Lola’s Cocina.

I am super proud of her and want to give space for her here on my blog, she is absolutely one of the nicest individual who you could ever meet. Not to mention she is also beautiful, and super down to earth.  Go visit her colorful cooking site Lola’s Cocina. 

Please visit Lola’s Cocina and try her other recipes! Thanks Dolores for the pictures and your enthusiasm. Congrats!

unnamed-1

Ingredients:
1 ½ cup water
1 cup sugar
4 cups fresh cranberries
10-15 dry japones chile peppers
½ lemon juiced
¼ teaspoon salt

Preparation:

  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow sugar to dissolve.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and add cranberries, dry chiles, lemon juice, and salt.
  3. Continue to cook until cranberries are soft and most of the water is absorbed (approximately 30 to 45 minutes). Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Once soft, remove from heat and cool.
  4. Once cool, add mixture to blender and blend until smooth on medium-high setting.
  5. Pour mixture back into pot and simmer over low-medium heat for 30 minutes or until slightly reduced and darker in color.
  6. Pour into mason jars and allow to cool in refrigerator overnight before serving.

Authors Note: Dry japones chile peppers can be found in the Hispanic section of most supermarkets. They may also be substituted with dry chile de árbol. I used 10 chiles for this recipe and the spiciness was very subtle once the sauce cooled. 

Unlikely Duo

Image

(Above: Grapefruit, Coconut and Avocado Toast on whole grain bread, Crimini Mushroom and Chevre Frittata w/ Oven Roasted Tuscan Kale)

Sometimes, shouldn’t get complicated.  An unlikely and wonderful friendship happens when two creamy components come together.

Crunchy warm toast, coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, black pepper, sea salt…

What just happened??? A really great snack just happened.  I spent the night at a friend’s house and she pulled out the ingredients listed above, among a random array of fruits and vegetables.  Breakfast à la hung over girls happened.

It was strangely addictive.

I have to add ingredients really matter with this simple concoction.  Coconut butter will not work.  The neutral quality of coconut oil is the best when making this snack.  I also recommend using a whole grain wheat or seeded bread to toast, a creamy & ripe avocado, flaked sea salt, a good olive oil, and fresh cracked pepper.

Coconut Oil and Avocado Toast

1. Toast Bread

2. Spread 1/2 T. Coconut Oil on toast while warm.

3. Spread ripe avocado.

4. Sprinkle lightly with flaked sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of a good olive oil.

 

 

Good Mornings.

So many new and exciting things are happening.  I am leaving for Italy in about 6 days.

I don’t know if I will do much posting in Italy.  But until I know, here is a quick recipe.

In 2005 I spent a couple of months living on my friends couch.  Claire and Dee were awesome enough to let me sleep in the comforts of their cozy little home.  It was also during this time that I ran into another friend Victoria McKillop, she lived in a very cute little studio apartment on the bottom floor of a San Francisco Victorian, just around the corner from us.  I came over one morning, and she whipped these delicious soft, and just hauntingly comforting crepe like pancakes.  She whipped them up so fast that I was thoroughly impressed with the ease of the recipe.  She didn’t even need to measure!  We ate them simply with extra butter and a little sugar, and I don’t even remember using plates.  I have always been fond of this recipe, and it is up to the cook to add more eggs, and or milk and adjust to their preferred consistency.  Victoria’s Swedish grandmother made these, and she too was fond of very them.  I love most just how easy this recipe is.  It’s quite a non-fussy recipe that just requires some basis ingredients.  Clarified butter isn’t even needed to brush the pans, regular butter is fine but be careful to watch the heat so that the butter does not burn.

These aren’t like your normal American pancakes that are fluffier and sometimes even a bit dry.  Those that need the assistance from maple syrup to flavor and or to moisten them.  Instead enjoy these delicate and satisfying Swedish Pancakes just as they are or adorned with seasonal fruits. They are a great recipe to have in your entertaining repertoire.   These would also be great savory, stuffed with cheeses, or vegetables, and to do this exclude the vanilla and sugar.

Swedish Pancakes 
 
*This makes a small batch fit for an intimate brunch party of 4-6.
 
2 C. AP Flour
4 Eggs
1 1/2 C. Milk
1 T. Vanilla Extract
1/4 C. Sugar 
1/2 C. Melted Butter
pinch of salt.
Softened butter for brushing the pan.  
 
Melt butter, just enough to liquify.  
 
In a separate bowl, add milk, eggs, sugar, melted butter flour and vanilla extract with a pinch of salt. Whisk till thoroughly combined.  Add more milk as needed, you will be looking for a fairly thicker crepe batter.  Thin enough to swirl but thick enough to fold without breaking when they are cooked.  Not as fragile as a crepe.
 
Heat pan, lightly brush bottom and sides with clarified butter.   
 
Add batter and swirl around until bottom surface of the pan is evenly coated.  Let cook till edges brown, or top of pancake is dry to the touch.  Fold in half, then in half once again (as seen in the picture), and overlap.   Serve with fruit compote or jam of your choice.   Or simply with powdered sugar and lemon juice. 
 
*The pancakes pictured above were served with warm bourbon apples. 
 
 

Before I Leave To Italy


This weekend I will be doing a dinner at Big Sur Getaways for an intimate number of people.  My good friend Dee will be helping me out with the overall cooking and prep.

Later this month a cooking demonstration for fifteen lil’ ladies at a newly opened shop KAPPA ZAKKA.

It’s getting so close to my trip to Italy.  The Slow Food Festival will be going on, and it looks like there are high chances will be meeting up with an organization that gives culinary apprenticeships to kids called Worth Our Weight.  Run by the infamously unselfish Evelyn Cheetham, the organization takes a handful of kids to Terra Madre every year, tickets paid for, lodging paid for, and for some it’s their first time ever on a plane.  What an experience, isn’t that amazing?

Until then here is a quick little recipe.

Jicama, Apple, and Cucumber Salad w/ Lemon, Sea Salt and Olive Oil.
 
1 C. Thinly sliced wedges of Jicama 
1 C. Sliced apples
1 C. Thin and long roll cut Cucumbers
1 C. Thinly sliced Red Onion
1/2 C. Picked Parsley
1/2 C. Picked Mint – roughly chopped
1/2 C. Cilantro leaves 
2/3 C. Olive Oil 
1/2 C. Lemon Juice
Salt  & Pepper to Taste 
 
 
To prep the Jicama, cut top and bottom off so that you can have an even base.  Then peel, cut in half and then cut that in half.  Slice thin uneven wedges, until you have you 1 cup.   For the Apple, clean and leave skin on,  thinly slice apples avoiding the core.  Slice cucumbers according to your desired thickness.  Jullienne the red onion.  Clean and pick herbs, and roughly chop. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl.
 
Dissolve salt in lemon juice, add pepper, slowly drizzle in olive oil and whisk.   Incorporate all ingredients together, mix well.  
 
 
 
 

Cooking Class

A couple of things happened…

A friend called me up a couple of weeks ago, and asked me how I made this granola.  Then I posted a picture up on Instagram, and a few minutes after that same friend called me, and asked how I made my jam.   I didn’t have time to go through the complications of trying to explain to her two different recipes in 15 minutes, so instead I offered her a class.  We haven’t been able to hang out for a while, so it was definitely positive for both of us. I then offered it to other friends, and found that within a day my little class would be booked.  The last time I had a cooking class, it was probably about 5 years ago…

We started the day with a nice breakfast, and had every one sit around the table to sample some already made granola and jam.

Breakfast: Whole Grain Toast w/ Avocado, Heirloom Tomatoes, Poached Egg Sea Salt, Soy Sauce & Black Pepper

The first student was my friend Chona, and we had an impromptu egg poaching lesson before everyone got to the house.  When everyone finally arrived, we ate, then went to hike.  The berry excursion was a good one, as the students fruitfully filled their baskets with dark berries, it seemed like the cotton of our shirts were hooking onto every branch and berry with gentle warnings of the treacherous fall down the Bernal slopes.  Luckily the overcast day and the mild warmth gave way to a great adventure in city berry picking.  Unstained and hungry we headed back to the house.

We divided the project into 2 groups – Jam and Granola.  I gave them instructions and let them ask questions as I cooked them lunch.

Lunch- Penne w/ Walnut Pesto and Pecorino Romano & Mixed Lettuces w/ Honey Shallot Vin.

MUSIC CHOICE VIA BENJAMIN KASMAN

What a great class!!! Love Love Love to Chona, Jennifer, Dee, Noah and Benjamin.

Homemade Granola

Ingredients

  • 2 C. Oats
  • 1/2 C. Coconut Flakes
  • 1/4 C. Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 C. Honey Or Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • 1/4 C. Flax Meal
  • 1/4 C. Coconut Butter
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon or ground ginger
  • 1/8 C. Sesame Seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • other ingredients to add – Nuts, seeds, dried fruits, dried berries etc.  For this class I used a raw trail mix blend, which I added at the end of the toasting after the granola has been cooled.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine coconut butter, vanilla, honey, sugar and salt bring to simmer and dissolve.
  3. In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut flakes, sesame seeds, cinnamon.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients together till well coated
  5. Spread in sheet pan and bake.  Stirring occasionally to even toasting.  20-30 minutes
  6. Let cool to dry.  Mix nuts, trail mix, or your blend of choice.

Chicken and Clams

Nothing goes together like chicken and clams.  Nevermind…

Surf and turf they call it.  Long associated with stained red lobster claws and tails, a hunk of juicy aged steak butter and potatoes.  Nothing says steak house like good ol’ drawn butter a bib and meat.   I like the flavor that clams and other seafood creatures lend to land critters when thrown together in a pot.  Just when I thought I was cooking for two, I then found out that I would be welcoming a third, so I decided to head down to my local seafood monger and bought some clams.   As I tasted the broth I knew that clams would be a great addition, not only would it stretch my meal but it would also give the braise additional broth when the clams open.

There is a heavy Italian influence here.  The kitchen staples to work, aromatics to start with and creating an inviting and aromatic dish.  This recipe allows the avid home cook to gain access to cooking a basic and delicious nonchalant dinner.  From this simple dish you can add olives, lemons, different meats,  different herbs.  Allow yourself to experiment with other root vegetables, as well as spices,  as well as using canned verses fresh tomatoes.

The marjoram and fresh herbs in this dish as well as the freshness of the tiny plum tomatoes sweeten and freshen the braise.  Instead of a braise it becomes a juicy stew, and thus is lighter than a thick and unctuous sauce.   Served over rice, or over pasta, maybe cous-cous, and even polenta it creates a delicious dinner for a mildly breezy summer night.

My pantry needs, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Lemons, Onions, Garlic, eggs, herbs, and canned tomatoes.  If I have that I can make and create a dinner in no time.  .

Chicken and Clam Stew w/Plum Tomatoes and Herbs over fresh Tagliarini
Serves 2-4
 
3-4 Chicken Legs
12-16 Manila Clams
1 C. Red Wine
1/4 C. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Medium Yellow Onion
1 C. Carrots
3 Cloves Garlic
1 T Each – Marjoram, Oregano, Thyme
Capers
1 1/2 C. Plum or Cherry Tomatoes
Olive Oil 
Salt 
 
You will need a pot that could go from stovetop to oven.   Salt and pepper chicken, let sit, pay dry.  Heat pan, add Olive Oil.  Add chicken and brown well.  
Remove chicken when skin side is well seared and browned.  Remove some fat from pan.  Add a bit more olive oil, and add onions and garlic and salt.  After about 4 minutes, add red wine, vinegar scrape pan.  Add herbs, carrots, tomatoes and 1 C. of water-cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes till tomatoes blister and pop.   Assist the popping by puncturing the tomatoes with a fork if needed.  Add Chicken, capers continue to cook for another 20 in a 375° oven. Take out of oven and add clams, place back into oven for another 10 min or so just enough until the clams pop open.  
 
Place atop fresh pasta and drizzle with some young olive oil. Yum.
 
 
[youtube http://youtu.be/AdimD8Z-ppY]

City Hike

I went on a little city hike yesterday.   Tuna sandwich, cherries, and guava juice.  I huffed and heaved hoed my way up the hill and came upon bushes and bushes of thorny branches, filled with ripe and unripe berries galore.  I grabbed a couple,  climbed over some railings and foretold of a bloody fall.   Backing away from the sloping hill I grabbed what I could.

I continued up the hike to see more berries!  Not now…I waited till I finished my hike before I succumbed to my greed.   Berries…berries…berries! Some where not the sweetest nor were they the easiest to pluck.  I put my sandwich bag to use, these downward facing hills wouldn’t detour me from dreams of making a city jam, but maybe the constant pricking of thorns might help.

My jam fantasy came true, my city hike gave me a mini bounty of fragrant dark gems to bring home.  I had just enough time to cook and jar them before I went off into the night.

*I never add pectin into my jams.  I add a little more sugar and leach out as much of the juices as I can then I reduce and reduce.  The lemon always adds a nice brightness.  The natural pectin from the pith as well as the acid always helps with thickening.  Jams are not very complicated.   Stir, watch it, and reduce it.  For the home cook, nothing should be very complicated about making a jam.  Just don’t burn it.  A special copper pan would be nice, and a thermometer would be nice and that spoon test…forget about it all and just watch your jam like you would watch over a toddler in a kiddie pool.  

 
Blackberry City Jam
 
2 1/2 C. Blackberries
1 1/2 C. Sugar 
1 Lemon
 
Rinse blackberries of dirt and debris.  Cut whole lemon into thirds or quarters remove seeds.  Place berries & lemon in pot, add sugar.   Cook on medium heat.  Stir to ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom of your pan.  At this point you will see your berries shrivel and the majority of your pot will be taken over by the juices of the berry.   This is a time to really watch your heat!  Gently stir bottom of pan and sides.  Turn heat to med-low, and just let this reduce to thicken.  I recommend 20+min.   Thicken it to about less than 1/2.  If you insist on doing that spoon trick-stick a metal spoon into the freezer.  Put some jam on the spoon and place back into the freezer, from here you can quickly see the gelling as well as desired thickness.  Before placing into jars remove lemons and squeeze excess.  Want it thicker? Cook it more-but be very mindful of not scorching your molten jam by stirring the bottom of the pan. 
 
 
 
Put into a clean sterilized jar eat and enjoy. 
 
 

Sweets

I am happiest when laughter wraps around me, when sun drenches me with warmth and rays, when I hold a strong hand, a passionate kiss, when I have an extremely sharp edge on my favorite knife, when that knife slices green onions beautifully on a bias, when a soup has all the body and richness it needs because of the well made stock,  and when an unexpected recipe turns out better than expected.

Learning every day on the line I am sometimes get bored with the daily routines but,  it is at home that I will continue to happily divulge and blog about my miscellaneous adventures in my cooking.  Even though my career involves pots and pans and cooking, it’s when I am in my quaint kitchen that I can cater to my own creative impulses.  New or old they are mine

Those droplets of cookies that you see on the top are an experiment.  I love coconut macaroons and I love a deliciously nutty financier, so combined they become a delicate and nutty and chewy delight.   An american delight, the coconut macaroon is usually a densely sweet pastry made with shredded coconut, egg whites & sugar.  A financier is a french sweet made with a beurre noisette, egg whites, flour, sugar and almond meal.   What happens when you combine them?  They become a great post dinner treat with coffee or tea .  Best of all they are airy, crisp, yet chewy and in this recipe gluten free.

Coconut Almond Macaroons.
 
8 Oz. egg whites or the whites of 4 eggs
2 C. Toasted Almond meal or Ground Almonds (finely ground and toasted) or Almond Flour 
1 C. Shredded Coconut 
1 C. Sugar 
1/4 C. Water 
1/2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 T. Lemon Juice (Stabilizer)
1 T. Cornstarch
1/8 tsp. Salt 
 
Using a whisk or a whisk attachment on your machine, start by beating your egg whites – add salt – in separate bowl mix cornstarch, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.  
Add mixture of cornstarch, lemon juice etc.  into your egg whites – clean sides and continue to whisk on speed 4 until you reach medium peaks. 
In a small saucepan combine water and sugar- dissolve mixture till it comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved preferred heat would be 118°.
Slowly add in the molten hot sugar into the egg whites.  
Your mixing bowl should be cool when the egg whites get to a stiff peak.  During this stiff peak period, take out the whisk attachment, clean sides of the bowl and add your toasted and cooled almond meal, and coconut.  
Fold lightly till incorporated. 
Set oven to 325°.  Place parchment paper on cookie sheet, using two spoons – one to scoop and one to push out batter- spoon out a non uniform and lovely little plump batter on cookie tray.  Dry them out for at least 60 minutes.  
Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Eat immediately. 
 
*note on a humid day – you may want to re-crisp them in the oven at 300°. 
 

Fa la la ….

Bright

Continuing from the last post lets introduce 3 recipes from adventures in my kitchen that will brighten up any day or evening light. Citrus- the last post was originally only about the color orange but, how can you think of that color without thinking about the bulbuous, plump and fragrant fruits? Also included are 2 savory recipes.

Heres an introduction to a few ingredients; Baccalla, Mandarinquats, and Limequats, some otherworldly items that some of you might not have seen or even heard of before. Baccala is a magnificent piece of fileted cod that is heavily salted and preserved fully dried. It can be quite smelly however when soaked, the flavor is delicate and the flesh quite hearty. During the soaking process I completely submerge the fish in water and periodically change the water, and surprisingly the fishy aroma is close to nonexistent.

The mandarinquat is a hybrid of a mandarin and a kumquat and yes you can eat these whole! They look like a rotund little gourd, their skins resembling a satsuma and flavor resembling the kumquat and mandarin. The limequat is another miracle. It is a wonderous little yellow thin skinned kumquat shaped hybrid of a lime and a kumquat, it’s tart sweet with a hint of lime. Both crossbreeds have a super sour flesh, a sweetly lined and fragrant shell, and both are edible whole.

As a little girl my mother would saute up tomatoes, garlic and onions – simple, and delicious- sweet sugar and tangy vinegar tingled my nostrils as they simmered together. I remember whole fish coming out of the oven – still steaming with their skins still intact, the crispy brown and golden skin just looked so magical. Still hot, she then spooned this sauce over the fish. This sauce- this delicious well balanced sauce has wonderful layers of sweet and sour – the savory aromas that filled the air are still so hypnotizing. Here is my rendition of it. This dish translates to sweet and sour salt cod.

Sweet and sour doesn’t sound as appealing, but when I add a bit of european flair to the name it somewhat gives it more elegance. In my research I also found that this recipe is very similar to other Roman recipes which also include the sweet and sour elements.

And Salt cod – my beloved baccala- if you can get ahold of this pantry item be sure to adore it as much as I do. A friend of mine named Morgan Scholfield made the best croquettes while I was in New York. They were rich and creamy and salty -an addictive quality with its crisp fried exterior and ultra creamy interior. I am still salivating. Baccala is great when certain fresh white fleshed fish would not fare well to this type of stew, because of the cooking time.

Baccala in Agrodolce

1/3 lb. Baccala (Salt Cod) soaked and rinsed about 2+ days
1 Medium Onion – Cut into Coins about 1/4 inch think
2 C. Yukon Gold Potatoes or German Butterball – Unevenly cut into large chunks about the same size as the Salt cod. (*as the potatoes break down in the sauce it is important that they are irregularly cut enough to cream the sauce yet some remaining intact.)
2 C. Diced Tomatoes
2 T. Garlic – Sliced
1 C. Orange Juice
1/8 C. Sugar
1/4 C. White Wine
1/4 C. Red Wine or Champagne Vinegar
2 T. Hungarian Paprika
1 T. Pimente D’espelette
Salt
Pepper
*May I highly suggest a enameled cast iron pot for this dish or a beautiful earthenware pot because the dish needs to go from stove top to oven.
Sweat onions and garlic with both spices, and 1 tsp. salt- sweat till onions are soft 8 minutes-add sugar. Add Potatoes, toss well. Add 1/2 the white wine, orange juice and vinegar. Simmer for 20 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 375º.
Cut baccala into 1 inch cubes. Lightly dredge your baccala in flour. Bring separate pan to temp and add olive oil- lightly brown. Add baccala to pot of simmering sauce. – DE-glaze pan with the rest of the white wine and add to pot. Season to taste. Simmer in oven covered for an additional 20-30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and eat with crusty bread.

Fennel and Parsley Salad w/ Limequats and Red Onions.

2 C. Shaved Fennel
1 C. Flat Leaf Parsley- picked- leaves and very little stem.
1 C. Red Onion – Thinly sliced
1/2 C. Limequats -de-seeded Sliced in coins –
Scant 1/4 C. Champagne Vinegar
Salt
Olive Oil – Fresh pressed is best for this recipe
Thinly slice and de-seed your Limequats. Thinly slice the red onion. Place ingredients into a bowl. Add Salt to taste, Champagne vinegar and 2 T. of Olive Oil. Add shaved fennel coat well and toss with more olive oil about 1/4 C.
Add Parsley and toss. Goes well with EVERYTHING – would pair well with fresh mozzarella or fresh ricotta as well as most meats.

Mandarinquat Marmalade

3 C. Mandarinquats – de-seeded, and sliced into thin coins
2 C. Cane Sugar
2 C. Water
Combine water and Sugar till syrup dissolves. Place fruit into syrup and bring to boil reduce heat. Let sit overnight to cool. Cook – simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes occasionally stirring to make sure that the fruit does not stick at the bottom. Reduce and watch carefully. You can put a few spoons in the freezer to test if the batch will gel, but I usually eyeball my jams and make sure that the consistency is to a very well at a half reduced stage. There is so much pectin in the citrus that natural reduction will ensure a properly thick jam. Of course you can also put a spoon in the freezer and test if the gelling of your marmalade or jam is to your liking.
For my home recipe I introduced 2 blood-red oranges sliced thinly which yielded me about 1.5 cups to my 2 Cups of Limequats. The result was beautiful the saturated red and orange were beautiful as the taste was explosive and bright, the flesh of the blood orange worked really well with the delicate mandarinquat. To keep he integrity and freshness of the fruit I do not fuss much with my jams and preserves.

Rosemary Fried Chicken with Orange Marmelade Glaze.

For the chicken:
4-6 Chicken Thighs – Deboned
1 Sprig Rosemary – minced
2 C. Buttermilk
Salt
Pepper
2 C. Peanut Oil
Dredging Flour:
2 C. A.P Flour
1 T. Smoked Paprika
Salt
Pepper
For the Glaze:
1/2 C. Orange marmalade or any type of Citrus marmalade.
Juice of Half an orange
1/4 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 T. Chili Flakes
1/4 C. Shallots
Salt
Olive Oil
Saute Shallots in Olive oil till shallots become translucent add 1/4 tsp of salt. Add Chili flakes, apple cider, orange juice and marmalade. Reduce till thicken (this won’t take long because the pectin from the marmalade is already so thick that you just really want to merge the acidity from the vinegar into the jam – with a bit of the liquid cooking off)
Pat Chicken Thighs Dry and Lay Flat – Season Liberally with salt pepper and rosemary. Let sit for 1-2 hours. Because the chicken is de-boned you have lessened the time that it takes to fully season the meat, and that every nook and cranny will be well seasoned
In a flat baking dish or pan pour your buttermilk into the vessel and place thigh meat into buttermilk. Let soak for another 30. Meanwhile, make the dredging flour – Incorporate all ingredients together – Flour, Paprika, Salt, Pepper.
-Chicken- Shake off excess buttermilk and place in flour covering both sides- for thicker coating do two times.
Let sit for another 30 minutes for the flour and buttermilk to become a batter instead of the two separate ingredients. It also yields a crisper and more uniform dredging for the home cook. Or, if you are impatient thats fine too go ahead and fry but you can definitely see a difference. Heat oil heavy cast iron skillet – you know when the oil is ready when you sprinkle a little flour into your pan and it rapidly bubbles. If the oil is too hot that flour will also burn. Cook till crisp, golden and brown on both sides. Immediately drizzle with sauce.

Orange

As I step into another new career change I realize there will be more responsibilities ahead.  Don’t you worry, I’ll still be cooking.  In the meantime while I sit and wait for the training to begin, my precious solitude and laziness needs a charge.  I have so many recipes that I just need to get out of my head that maybe a theme would help…

This post is mostly about the color orange is that it induces memories of summer, sun, citrus and beautiful pure mornings –  and of course my dear Daniel whose favorite color also happens to be orange! In a state where citrus is abundant nearly year round I just can’t get my fill of it, so I include you dear orange and your cousins into this post.

The oils that are released when you zest a lime, meyer lemon, a lemon, cara cara, blood orange, or grapefruit ETC ETC are truly intoxicating.  All of these fruits impart such a lively smell, that sometimes  I just cant help but to close my eyes each time I come across a large amounts of citrus! I imaging nuzzling my nose up against the bulbous tree ornaments, scraping the skins to spray my nostrils with the oils that release to parfume the air.

 

*There are a couple more citrus recipes to follow up with this post so stay tuned.

Duck Leg In Orange Sauce with Creme Fraiche

2 Duck Legs 
1 C. Carrots – about 1 inch thick-roll cut
1 C. Fresh Orange Juice – pulp OK! 
4 cloves Garlic – lightly smashed skins still intact
1/2 C. White Wine 
1 Bay leaf
2 Sprigs Thyme or Marjoram
1/2 C. Water or Chicken Stock 
1/2 C. Creme Fraiche or Heavy Cream 
Salt 
Pepper 
Olive Oil
 
Lightly Pay dry each leg and generously Salt and pepper each leg.  Let sit for 1 hour.  Pat dry a second time.  Heat pan add a bit of olive oil to pan and brown both sides of the duck legs about 3-4 minutes each side – Set aside when ready.  Pour out excess fat from pan and discard.  Add white wine to scrape the fond and drippings from the pan.
Place Duck legs in oven proof dish-  Arrange carrots and garlic, thyme and bay around, or on top of legs.  Pour in Orange Juice, Water or chicken Stock (chicken stock will add more richness and depth), and white wine from pan.  
Season with Salt – and a drizzle of olive oil on top.  Bake at 375° for 1.5 hours or till tender and meat pulls from bone. 
When finished take out legs.  Strain the cooking liquid,  discard the carrots and aromatic herbs except the garlic –remove skin from the garlic cloves and reserve .  Skim off fat from cooking liquid and place in saucepan.  Bring to simmer and reduce 1/3 of the liquid.  Smash and incorporate the soft buttery rich garlic cloves into sauce.  Whisk in Creme Fraiche when close to serving. Season to taste.  Place duck legs on plate and spoon sauce generously over legs. 

Persimmon and Carrot Soup

4 Carrots – Washed and roughly cut 1/2 inch pieces
3 Persimmons – Peeled and roughly cut 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves Garlic – minced.
1 Yellow Onion – Diced
2 quarts Water or Chicken Stock
1 Fresh bay Leaf or Dried 
2 T. Fresh Ginger – Grated
1 T. Fresh (Grated) or Dried turmeric
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
Olive Oil 
Salt 
White Pepper 
 
Heat soup pot or any pan with high walls add olive oil.  Saute Onions, garlic, turmeric, nutmeg, salt add bay leaf – til onions are soft and translucent- cook on medium.  Add carrots- and liquid either chicken stock or water.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add Persimmon, ginger and white pepper and continue to cook for another 20- Remove Bay leaf before serving. For a creamier soup, blend til smooth or for a heartier more rustic soup lightly mash vegetables.  Season to taste. 
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, toasted sesame seeds and Cilantro. 
 
 

This next dish was inspired by my time spent at NOPA- where I worked with some of the nicest cooks not to  mention owners and managers.  I never knew that you could eat the exterior or a squash but it was a revelation!!!  Absolutely no waste and all the nutrients!  I also made a similar dish when a couple of cook friends and I managed to cook about 15 + items at a farm dinner a couple of months ago.  I topped some roasted delicata with some minted yogurt, and topped all of that with some freshly cut watercress that was dressed in a simple sherry shallot vinaigrette.  Watercress would also be very delicious intertwined in this farro version.

Roasted Delicata, Artichokes and Carmelized Onion Farro Salad 

1 Medium Sized Delicata squash- Cleaned,Cut in half, Seeds scooped out and cut in half moons about 1/2 inch in size
1 large or 2 small artichokes- properly cleaned- Hearts only cut into 1/4 inch wedges 
1 small Yellow Onion 
1 T crushed dried Oregano
1 1/2 C. Farro (Cous Cous – can also be supplemented)
Olive Oil 
Sherry Vinegar
Salt 
Pepper 
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
 
Lightly toast farro grains in pan or oven till slightly nutty aroma imparts. Boil Farro in 1 quart of water – when it comes to a boil turn down to a simmer.  Cook till farro grains are tender but still toothsome – Drain and cool. (30 minutes)
In large bowl place Onions, Delicata, Oregano, red pepper flakes (optional) Artichokes, 1/4 C. of olive oil, salt and pepper into bowl. Toss well and place in oven-proof roasted pan.  Roast on high at 400º- partially covered with parchment for the first 10 then uncovered for another 10 – till delicata is tender and till onions become roasted and carmelized.   Stir every 5 minutes.  
Place Farro in bowl, season with olive oil, salt, sherry vinegar – immediately place cooked vegetables straight from oven into the farro – this ensures the farro to capture the roasted flavors of the oven.  
*This dish is also delicious cold, integrated with some arugula.
 
Citrus Pica De Gallo w/ Avocado & Jicama
 
1 C. Cara Cara and or Navels Oranges – supremed & segmented-  cut into bite size pieces
1 Avocado – diced 
1/2 C. Jicama Diced
Cilantro – roughly chopped
1 Seranno or Jalapeno – De-veined and Seeded
1/4 C. Red Onion- thinly sliced 
1/8 C. Lime Juice 
1/8 C. Olive Oil 
Salt 
 
Place Jicama in bowl with Serrano, lime juice, salt – let sit for 5 minutes.  Add Cara Caras, Red Onions, and cilantro toss.  Add Olive Oil, toss.  Cut avocado in half, remove seed- using a large spoon scoop out flesh.  Make bite size dices of the avocado.  Fold in- making sure you are not being too aggressive.  
Works great with grilled meats- or poached fish. 

 In Sunny California you always await the tender abundance of fresh produce…and the chirping of birds.