Saturday, April 3, 2010

Brownies with Strawberry Ice Cream

What better way to end a barbecue than with homemade brownies a la mode? Since I've been seeing strawberries everywhere lately, I decided to incorporate some into my go to vanilla bean ice cream recipe. This can be d0ne with most fruits and berries, simply macerate them in a little sugar or sauté them for a few minutes to bring out their natural sweetness. Then you simply fold the fruit into the churned ice cream. I'm going to try this recipe with peaches as soon as I start to see them in the store. I love how easy it is to manipulate a basic ice cream recipe and create new flavors. Feel free to alter the following recipe by infusing the cream with a spice or adding different mix-ins. Have fun and be creative!


8oz dark chocolate
1 stick butter
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. Melt butter and chocolate together in microwave.
2. Stir in eggs.
3. Stir in flour, sugar, vanilla, and baking soda.
4. Spread into a greased 13X9 inch baking pan and bake for about 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

1 pint strawberries, chopped
3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean*
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar

1. Sprinkle the first measurement of sugar over the chopped strawberries, mix well. Sauté half of berries in saucepan for 2 minutes. Refrigerate and allow to sit while you prepare the ice cream.
2. Combine milk and cream in saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the pan. Add the pod and bring to a boil.
3. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, yolks, and sugar in a bowl.
4. Whisk 1 cup of the boiling liquid into yolk mixture to temper it. Bring the remaining liquid back to a boil and whisk the yolk mixture into the saucepan.
5. Stir the mixture continually for about 2 1/2 minutes on medium heat.
6. Strain liquid into a clean container and place in fridge until chilled.
7. Pour liquid into ice cream maker and churn until thickened about 25-30 minutes. At this point, stir in the strawberries and place in freezer to set.

*Vanilla beans are much more expensive than vanilla extract, but they impart a richer flavor and are definitely worth the splurge when it comes to real homemade ice cream. Save the pod when you strain the ice cream. Simply rinse it off, dry it out and place it in your sugar bowl. Over the course of the next few days your sugar will take on a light vanilla scent and taste. It's a fun and easy way to enhance your morning cup of coffee!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blood Orange Jalapeño Margaritas

My sister and I created these margaritas last weekend at a barbecue. They were really fun to serve the quests because they made for lots of funny faces and wild guesses as to the components of the drink. When the ingredients of the margaritas were revealed, everyone was shocked but genuinely impressed that a jalapeño could add so much to the classic margarita. There is no extra sugar added to this recipe, so those of you who have qualms about the over the top sweetness of margaritas might want to give this a try.

You can alter the spice factor of the drink depending on how long you infuse the tequila with the jalapeño. We left it in the tequila for about two hours and the drinks had just a slight heat which was a really nice contrast to the sweetness of the blood oranges. The pink juice of the blood oranges gives a really pretty color to the margarita. If you have trouble finding blood oranges, you can substitute regular oranges. Have fun and enjoy!

Blood Orange Jalapeño Margaritas
makes about 3 drinks

4oz tequila
1 jalapeño
3oz blood orange juice
1oz lime juice
3oz grand marnier

Chop the jalapeño and remove the seeds. Let it sit in the tequila for about 2 hours. Strain the jalapeño. Add rest of ingredients, pour over ice and enjoy!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Need I say more?

Okay, maybe I do. For my birthday this past weekend, my sisters and my friends all drove up to Idyllwild, CA to play in the snow and celebrate. We had so much fun sledding, building snowmen, cooking big family style meals and playing board games by the fireplace. We were all thrilled when it began snowing upon our arrival at the cabin. Being raised in southern California, we were all quite impressed by the snow and the majestic calm and quiet that settled over the neighborhood (at least until the snow plow came). The snow inspired many fun activities and ideas, one of which where the Snowgaritas. Pretty simple stuff: pack a cup full of freshly fallen snow, add margarita mix and a splash of tequila and you're set!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cinnamon Doughnuts

My friends were hosting a Superbowl party on Sunday and had decided to deep fry a turkey. I was asked to bring dessert. Since I had never before used a backyard deep fryer I was inspired to make doughnuts. How fun to be able to commune with nature while baking! I opted for a quick cake-like doughnut rather than a yeast based recipe (I only had about 1 hour before the game started). Of course you don't need a deep fryer to make these little pillows of heaven. Just add a few inches of vegetable oil to a sauce pan and you have a make-shift fryer. Doughnuts are so much fun to make and even more fun to eat! I sifted powdered sugar over mine and served them with a chocolate and a caramel dipping sauce. Feel free to roll them in cinnamon sugar after they come out of the fryer or glaze them with icing. This recipe can be altered to taste by adjusting the extracts and spices. Have fun!

Cinnamon Doughnuts
makes about 30 mini

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla

vegetable oil

1. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Mix wet ingredients together.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix to combine fully. Wrap dough in plastic and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4. Liberally flour a flat surface and roll out dough to about 1/2" thickness. Use round cutters to cut out dough and make sure to cut out the center for a classic doughnut shape. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Heat oil to 370 degrees. VERY carefully drop doughnuts into oil one at a time, being careful not to overcrowd. **To safety drop the doughnuts into the oil, touch the dough to the oil then slowly let it go. This technique will prevent the oil from popping back at you.** After a minute or so, use a metal spatula to flip the doughnuts over in the oil. Wait another 30 seconds then carefully remove doughnuts from oil and allow to drain on a paper towel.
6. Serve warm with your choice of toppings.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Whole Wheat Honey Bread

Do you ever crave the sweet smell of freshly baking bread? Growing up my mother baked fresh bread so often that I took that smell for granted. I can now truly appreciate the time and love she put into each and every loaf we shared. Sometimes when my sisters and I arrived home from school she would be pulling out a hot loaf of cinnamon swirl bread from the oven for our afternoon snack. To this day I have yet to taste anything like her cinnamon swirl bread.

Today I opted for something heartier with just a touch of sweetness. This home-style wheat bread has a small amount of honey in the dough. The honey not only works with the yeast in allowing it to expand and rise, but provides for a more rounded flavor in the bread itself. If you have an afternoon free give this recipe a shot. It is very easy and the dough can be shaped into loaf pans or rounds for a more rustic look. This recipe makes 3 loaves, which can be frozen for several weeks.
Whole Wheat Honey Bread
makes 3 loaves

3 cups warm water (110 degrees)
Two 1/4-ounce packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup honey
5 cups white bread flour
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon salt
5 to 6 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. In a large bowl, mix the water, yeast, and 1/3 cup of the honey together. Add the white bread flour and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, until the dough is big and bubbly.

2. Mix in the melted butter, remaining honey, and the salt. Stir in 2 cups of the whole wheat flour. Add up to 4 more cups of the whole wheat flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add enough flour until the dough is tacky but can be worked with your hands.

3. Flour a surface and knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball but is still sticky to the touch.
4. Grease a large bowl with the vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

5. Punch the dough down and divide it into 3 loaves. Place the loaves either in greased 8 1/2X4 1/2 inch loaf pans or in rounds on a sheet pan. Allow to rise for another hour.6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Allow the loaves to cool about 30 minutes before slicing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

La Provence Patisserie & Cafe

I went to visit my sister in Los Angeles this past weekend and we stopped by La Provence bakery in Brentwood for brunch Saturday morning. The cafe overlooked the rooftops of the surrounding shops and homes and offered a Parisian ambience. The pastries were delicious and the breakfast items were mouthwatering. We started with a lavender and a cherry amaretto macaron and some coffee and juice. Yum!

The vegetarian eggs benedict were served atop a housemade croissant.
Lindsay couldn't resist a side of pomme frittes and they came served up in traditional newspaper. With a sudoku puzzle no less!
The pink hued sea salt was a big hit at our table. Everything about this patisserie was so well thought out and made for such a perfect morning.
I highly recommend La Provence Patisserie & Cafe if you find yourself in the area.
Bon apetit!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lavender Truffles

I am having two very special people over for dinner tomorrow night and had to have something fun to serve for dessert. Since it's still early in the year and most everyone made a new year's resolution to eat healthier I decided to make truffles. One or two dark chocolate truffles are always enough to satisfy me and won't leave you feeling too guilty. These decadent treats are a perfect way to end a meal and pair nicely with champagne!

Truffles are great because they are so easy to make. When stored properly, they last for months. Just keep them in a tightly sealed container and away from extreme heat or cold.

To add an extra element to the truffles, I first infused the cream with lavender. The result is a mild floral accent to the rich depth of the dark chocolate. Definitely worth a try if you are up for it. If not, simply eliminate the lavender.

Lavender Truffles

1/2 # dark chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
cocoa powder

1. Place the cream and lavender in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn of heat and cover. Allow to steep for at least one hour.
2. Strain cream to remove lavender buds. Remeasure cream, adding more if necessary to make one cup. Return to saucepan along with corn syrup. Bring to a boil.
3. Pour boiling cream over chocolate and stir to combine. Place chocolate in fridge and remove every 5 minutes to stir. After about 20-30 minutes, chocolate mixture will begin to set.
4. At this point, pipe small rounds onto sheet pan. Allow to set, uncovered for several hours, or overnight.
5. Once chocolate is set, pick up each individual round and roll into ball with your hands. Place the truffle in a bowl of cocoa powder to coat.
6. Cover and store away from heat and cold. Enjoy!
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