Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Espresso Cup & Sorbets...

Okay... So, this little simple espresso cup is my new treasure. Yes, it's a simple common cup and this is the only one I have. It may look like a common cup that you might be able to buy/find anywhere, but it's the story behind this simple cup.

While, in Europe; my husband and I found ourselves driving on a narrow, serpentine road through the Alps. Hungry and looking for local cuisine, we found Restaurant Kainer in Triesenberg, Liechtenstein. What a jewel. They specialize in seasonal, local home-style cooking. The restaurant has a garden terrace with a wonderful view of the Alps and the Rhine Valley, but it was raining.

We stayed for hours. We enjoyed the wonderful food, local beer and the home-y atmosphere. We bonded with an amazing elderly couple that sat next to us. We “spoke” for hours. Unfortunately, we spoke English with little to no German and they spoke German to little to no English, but we bonded nonetheless. At one point, our waiter and the restaurant owner sat down and drank with us. To say the least, we had a great time.

Now back to my espresso cup. I rarely order dessert when I eat out, but since I was on vacation... why not?!? I decided to order a coffee dessert called Deutscher Eis Kaffee. It's a dreamy chilled coffee cream with vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream and espresso beans. All I can say is... YUM! I was served this dreamy dessert in this cute little espresso cup. Yup, this very same espresso cup.

As we were getting ready to leave, our waiter gave me the little espresso cup. I was so excited and I thought it was a great gesture. Plus, what girl doesn't like a gift? This little cup survived its trip back to the states from Liechtenstein and I treasure it.

Nothing screams summer like citrus and sorbet. This weekend I found myself with an abundance of limes and I decided to try some flavor combination. I love simple and flavorful desserts. 

Strawberry Lime Sorbet
Yields: approx. 3 cups

Simple Syrup
2 cups Sugar
2 cups Water

Strawberry Puree
1 quart Fresh Strawberries, cleaned, stems removed and quartered
1 teaspoon Lime Juice, freshly squeezed

1 1/2 cups Strawberry Puree
1 cup Simple Syrup, chilled
1/2 cup Lime Juice, freshly squeezed
Zest of 1/2 Lime
Splash of Vodka, about 1 - 2 teaspoons

Simple Syrup: Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until sugar dissolves, about 3 - 5 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

* I usually make large batches of simple syrup and keep it in the refrigerator. I keep it on hand for just about anything: Sorbets, Poaching Fruits or my husband's favorite... Mojitos.

Strawberry Puree: Combine the strawberries and lime juice in a food processor or a blender. Pulse for about 3 - 4 minutes, then process until the strawberries are completely pureed, about 1 - 2 minutes. Press the strawberries through a strainer to remove the seed, if you desire. I actually like the seeds, so I skip this step.

Sorbet: In a medium bowl, stir in simple syrup, strawberry puree, zest, lime juice and vodka together. Chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. Process the mixture in an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Pink Grapefruit Lime Sorbet   
Yields: approx. 3 cups

Simple Syrup
2 cups Sugar
2 cups Water

1 1/2 cups Pink Grapefruit Juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup Lime Juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup Simple Syrup, chilled
1 tablespoon Pink Grapefruit Zest
Zest of 1 Lime
Splash of Vodka, about 1 - 2 teaspoons

Simple Syrup: Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until sugar dissolves, about 3 - 5 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Sorbet: In a medium bowl, stir in simple syrup, pink grapefruit juice, lime juice, zests and vodka together. Chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. Process the mixture in an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Zucchini Blossoms

During the summertime, I go to Delicious Orchard religiously. There are certain fruits and vegetable that are so evanescent, that it almost becomes a gift when you find them. And zucchini blossoms are just one of those gifts that I look forward to every summer. To me, zucchini blossoms are a real delicacy. They are so delicate and delightful.

There are many ways to prepare zucchini blossoms, but Polenta Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms are by far my favorite way to eat them. I know it seems like a sin to fry these delicate beauties, but it really complements the sweetness of the blossoms. Zucchini blossoms tend to wilt quickly, so you must prepare them right away.

Polenta Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms 
Yields: 20 blossoms

20 Zucchini Blossoms
1 1/4 cup Chicken Broth
1/4 cup Cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Rosemary
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Greek Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Thyme
1/8 cup Fontina Cheese, diced (small enough to fit through a pastry tip)
1 tablespoon Parmesan Cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Egg
1 cup Panko (Japanese Breadcrumbs)
Flour for dredging
Olive Oil for frying

Rinse the zucchini blossoms in cold water. Gently pry open each blossom and remove the stamens by pinching with your fingertips. The stems can be left intact or trimmed, it's up to you. The blossoms I picked up at Delicious Orchard did not have much of a stem left. Pat dry the blossoms with paper towels.

In a small saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil with the fresh herbs. Whisk in the cornmeal over medium-low heat until thick, about 3 - 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Once cool, stir in the cheeses, salt and pepper. Transfer the polenta to piping bag with a large pastry tip (I believe I used #1A). Otherwise, use a small spoon.

Pipe each blossom with polenta, about 2 - 3 teaspoons depending on the size of the zucchini blossom. Gently twist the tops of the blossoms closed. Repeat this step with each blossom.

In a frying pan, pour enough olive oil to reach a depth of 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Temperature of the oil should reach 375 degrees.

Lightly beat the egg in a shallow dish or plate. On a second shallow dish or plate, add panko. Form a little assembly line, use one hand for wet and the other hand for dry (you do not want to end up with the "claw"). Dredge each blossom in flour. Dip into the egg and finally, coat each flower with panko.

Holding the zucchini blossoms by the stem, gently place the blossoms into the frying pan. Do not overcrowd the frying pan. Fry the blossoms about 1 - 2 minutes on each side, or until golden. Remove the blossoms onto a paper towel lined platter to drain any excess oil and continue frying the rest. Serve immediately.

Arrange the zucchini blossoms onto plates or serving platter. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and garnish with a herb salad.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Day Trip & A Camera Phone

I love taking day trips to Delicious Orchard, it's a wonderful country food market. It's almost a mini vacation or escape from day to day life. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and I'll try to remember it on my next day trip. So, I used the next best thing...my camera phone. So, I'll apologize ahead of time for the low quality pictures.

At Delicious Orchard you can find everything from fresh local fruits and veggies to fresh baked bread, doughnuts, pies and old fashioned candies. As soon as you walk in, you can smell the yummy doughnuts and the fresh pressed apple ciders.

As weird as this may sound, I feel like a character out of a Disney movie when I'm there. You are surrounded by flowers, berry bushes and apple trees. It seriously makes me want to prance around the trees and sing along with the birds. I know...corny, but I love coming here.

I usually want to buy everything when I'm here. I was really excited to picked up some honeydew nectarines, eight ball zucchinis, red currents, meyer lemons, zucchini blossoms, and lots more. Tonight, I will be making the polenta stuffed zucchini blossoms. I'm super excited to prepare these. I will be posting the recipe for you very soon.

While here, you can enjoy the outdoor Cider Cafe. I love grabbing a bite to eat at their cafe. You can lounge around outside surrounded by nature. The birds tend flock to your feet as you eat. I don't think they're just being cute, they truly want my cider and panini. Unfortunately for them, I do not like sharing my food. =) Oh, did I mention that they press their own apple cider?!? So yummy.

These little guys were just inches away from me. I think they actually posed.

I'm already counting down the days to pumpkin picking already, just so I drink warm apple cider with their apple cider doughnuts.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Simple and Flavorful

Who hated beets as a child?!?

Okay, I was a weird child. I actually liked beets, brussel sprouts and all my veggies. The only veggie I didn't like as a child and still will not eat is okra. I really, really dislike okra. It's gummy, slimy, weird and just plain yucky. I just had a bad experience as a kid and I have tried to eat it since. Maybe, I need to find someone who knows how to prepare it correctly. For now; I refuse to eat it.
I really enjoy beets. It has a sweet earthy taste, that I just love. As a child, I used to rub the beets on my lips...to look like I had lipstick on. I thought I looked so fancy. I can't believe I am admitting to it...quite embarrassing actually. I hope I am not the only child to have done that.

Summertime for me equals simple, easy recipes. This is by far, my favorite beet salad. It's so simple and flavorful.

Beet and Feta Salad  
 Serves: 4

3 - 4 medium-size Beets, trimmed and scrubbed
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 cup Parsley, roughly chopped
Feta Cheese
Salt and Pepper to Taste

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/8 teaspoon clove Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Place beets on aluminum foil lined with parchment paper. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Seal foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork or knife.

Allow the beets to cool. Once cooled, rub your finger and thumb across the skin of the beets. The skin should peel right off. Remember, beets stain. If desired, wear gloves to protect your fingers from its stain. Cut into quarters or smaller pieces. Allow chilling in the refrigerator.

In a medium bowl, place balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, pour the olive oil in a steady stream until emulsified. Add beets and parsley; gently toss to combine. Plate salad onto plate and crumble feta cheese on top. Do not toss the feta cheese with the beets; the beets will stain the feta.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...