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Thursday
Jun102010

DARK CHOCOLATE DIPPED MACAROONS



This will be one of many attempts to perfect the macaroon. Hugh was in San Francisco last weekend, and brought home a bag of macaroons from Bi-Rite Market. He said they were a "gift for me", and proceeded to eat all but one and a half of them. The cookie (if it can be called a cookie?) is typically composed of coconut, egg whites, sugar and vanilla, and you will find recipes made of differing proportions of the former, plus or minus an ingredient or two. I've had ones made with sweetened condensed milk, and do like the moisture it contributes, but it makes the lighter treat, a tad too heavy. Though it does sound like a lot of sugar, we didn't find this version to be overly sweet at all. If you scale it back too much, it taste like a coconut omelette. Coconut is wonderful, but the contrast of the dark chocolate makes these babies exceptional.

We leave for Scotland this afternoon, yay! Hugh was commissioned to shoot a wedding over there, and myself commissioned to come along for the adventure. My suitcase is bulging and my backpack is stocked with snacks. We will be gone for awhile, so please excuse a bit of a hiatus here (we'll try to post pictures if the opportunity presents itself). I am SO excited to get on a plane and go on an adventure; especially with my favorite person. A collaboration of few bustling cities, taking the train through rolling green hills and making friends with people in kilts. They'll want to be my friend because I have a backpack full of goodies.

DARK CHOCOLATE DIPPED MACAROONS// Makes two dozen
I encourage you to experiment with natural sweeteners here, as I think it would only slightly change the flavor. You can find natural sweeteners at natural foods stores or on Amazon. Evaporated palm sugar is a great alternative, or you could use regular granulated sugar if you prefer

3 Egg Whites
1 Cup Organic Sucanat (Whole Cane Sugar)
3 Tbsp. Honey
2 tsp. Real Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 3/4 Cups Unsweetened Coconut
1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour/Brown Rice Flour*
12 oz. SemiSweet/Dark Good Quality Chocolate Chips

Heat oven to 375'

1. Beat the egg whites with a whisk until they are loose and frothy. Add the salt, vanilla, sugar, honey and combine. Add the coconut and stir. See starred note for consistency advice.
2. Using a small spoon, dollop about 2 Tbsp. of the mix, two inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silpat.
3. Bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes on the middle rack. Remove and cool completely. While the macaroons are cooling, heat the chocolate chips over a double broiler, or glass bowl over simmering water. Be sure to not let the glass touch the water to avoid scorching. Continue to stir until chocolate is melted.
4. Lay out a new piece of parchment paper. Take a cooled macaroon, and generously dip half into the melted chocolate. Lay on the parchment for chocolate to harden. This time could be expedited in the fridge or freezer.

* The consistency of the mix will vary depending on the size of your egg whites and also how your coconut is shredded. When the mix sits in the bowl, you don't want it to be weeping any liquid, it should hold itself together while still being moist. If anything is puddling at the bottom, add a bit of flour or GF flour to help dry things up. Add little by little, you may not need all of it. I needed to use the flour, as my eggs were large. Use your discretion and look for consistency before sticking to the measurements.



Thursday
Jun032010

CARAMELIZED ONION+GREENS TARTINE


If you do make this, I hope you are a bit more 'on your game' than I was. I love getting emails from readers who find this space inspirational, so let's be real, there are just as many mistakes here as any kitchen. I have learn the most about cooking, when I mess things up. While attempting to salt the onions, the lid popped off, emptying the entire container of salt into the pan. I thought I did a decent job of getting a majority out, until we took a big bite after the pictures. I think I am still bloated from the sodium content, 24 hours later. Not to mention that the bbq was noticed this afternoon, left on since yesterday when we grilled the bread slices. The gas bill is one thing, but had the house burned down in my haste to quickly rub garlic on my toasty bread? I don't know if that's forgivable. All in the name of Sprouted Kitchen, my friends. Negligence and learning lessons go hand in hand. But seriously, this recipe is one to log away. It makes a quick lunch, could be used as a starter for a meal, or you could use baguette slices instead and make it into an appetizer. It's all things you love about a sandwich and a salad, in one bite.

I also wanted to add a quick note that we are now managing sponsors on the side bar. If you, or any small business you know may be interested, use the contact form and I can answer any questions. We don't intend for it to be distracting, but it's a great opportunity for us to grow, as well as offer affordable advertising to some great businesses. Now, back to the tartine of goodness!

CARAMELIZED ONION+GREENS TARTINE // Serves 2 as Entree or 4 as a Starter
If you dislike goat cheese, you could use ricotta or mascarpone as an alternative.

1 Whole Grain Fresh Bread Boule/Loaf
1 Garlic Clove
4 oz. Goat Cheese
4 tsp. Herbs de Provence

1 Medium Yellow Onion, Sliced Thin
1/2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Cannellini Beans, Cooked and Drained
1 Endive, Halved and Sliced
2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
2 Cups Mache
1/2 Cup Chopped Radicchio (optional)
1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
Salt/Pepper

1. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a large pan. Add all of the sliced onions and stir to coat. Leave them on medium low heat, and stir every once in awhile until they turn a golden brown color. This should take about 20 minutes, depending on the pan size and material.
2. While the onions cook, slice the bread into 1/4-1/2'' slices. I used 4 slices, two per person. Warm a grill or grill pan (you can use a toaster as well).
3. In a mixing bowl, add the beans, mache, endive, optional radicchio, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the caramelized onions to the bowl and mix. You will need to use your fingers to separate the tangled onions. You could add a tsp of oil here if you like things more dressed, plenty tasty without, a tad zingy from the vinegar.
4. Toast the bread slices on the grill, grill pan or toaster. While they are still hot, rub the raw garlic clove on one side of each slice. The heat will release the garlic flavor. Spread desired amount of goat cheese on the garlic side of the toast and sprinkle 1 tsp.-ish of the herbs de provence on top of the cheese. Plate them with a few heaping spoonfuls of the mache and bean mixture atop the toast and sprinkle with fresh pepper.

Thursday
May272010

VEGGIE LE CRUNCH


There is nothing French about this recipe at all. But if you say anything with a French accent when you are not French, it makes you smile. Try it, veggie le crunch. It's funny.

There has been all sorts of on-the-go-ness going on lately. It's always something. Keeping busy is really a skill I could put on my resume, I am excellent at it. Needless to say, I am tired of protein bars, trail mix and pears. They are foods intended to be had in small doses, and my bod has been starving for vegetables. I do believe our bodies tell us what they need, and contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as craving lettuce. I needed these wraps badly, and the 'large batch' I intended to snack on through the week, was gone by the end of the day. You can call it lack of self control, but I think it was more of a survival reflex.

VEGGIE LE CRUNCH // Serves 2
I suggest using farmers market and or organic vegetables here. When you are eating them raw like this, the genuine flavor of the vegetables is important.

6-7 Radishes, depending on size
1 1/4 Cup Black Beans, cooked and drained
1 Cucumber
1 Cup Diced Pineapple
Handful of Fresh Basil
1 Head of Lettuce (any soft green will do)

// Avocado Dressing //
You could make this vegan by using 2 tbsp. olive oil and an extra tbsp. of vinegar in place of the buttermilk.

1 Avocado
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
1 Tbsp. Honey (more to taste)
1 Tbsp. Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
Juice of One Lime
Splash of Cholua/Tapatio Hot Sauce
Salt/Pepper

1. In a small blender or in a bowl, mix the avocado, buttermilk, vinegar, lime, honey, hot sauce and salt and pepper to combine. The blender will make it smooth, but a bowl and whisk will still get you a dressing consistency.
2. Use a mandoline to slice the radishes thin. Cut in fourths. Peel and halve the cucumber, scoop out the seeds and dice into small pieces. In a large bowl, combine the radish, cucumber, black beans, diced pineapple and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add desired amount of fresh basil (chopped or slivered).
3. Here is where you make a decision for yourself. Hugh prefers to put the veggie mix in the lettuce leaf and dribble dressing on top. I prefer to mix my dressing with the veggies and put them in the leaf, already dressed. Six of one, half dozen of another. Except my way is probably better ;)

Wednesday
May192010

CHEESEBURGER. ROUND TWO.



So, in case the title of this post hasn't clued you in yet, this is Hugh. Hi.

First off, I want to say thank you so much to those of you who celebrated and encouraged us in the comment field of the previous post. Your genuine excitement was an honor. I think you're all pretty rad.

Anyway, back to cheeseburgers. There's this really neat restaurant just up the freeway called The Counter. You can read about the concept behind the place here, but in a nutshell, when you walk in they give you a clipboard with a checkbox menu, and you get to draft up any one of the 312,120+ different burger options possible with the list of ingredients. Daunting. I generally burn through about three "rough draft" menus before I finally send one off to the kitchen. I came up with the following a couple weeks ago while having lunch with a buddy.

Of course, I had to call Sara with the preventative "does this make sense?" measure before I could actually order it. She said yes. So you know it's good.

BRIE AND CRANBERRY BURGER // Makes 2
If you like things with a kick, add a tsp. of horseradish to the spread.

2 Fresh Buns
2/3 lb. Grassfed Beef
1/2 Cup Sliced Scallions
1/3 Cup Dried Cranberries, soaking in hot water
4 Slices Brie/Preferably Goat's Milk Brie
2-4 Full Leaves Butter Lettuce (or any soft green of choice)
Dijon
Salt/Pepper

1. Put the cast iron skillet in the oven at 400' to heat through. This step is not necessary if you are using any other pan/skillet.
2. Divide the beef in to 1/3 lb patties, and shape them to be about 1/2'' thick. Keep in mind that they will shrink in quite a bit when cooked. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.
3. Drain the cranberries and mix with the scallions, set aside.
4. Heat the pan over medium-high heat on the stove. If it is cast iron coming from the oven, you can start working right away. Otherwise, add about 1 tsp grapeseed oil and allow it to heat up a couple minutes. Add one patty at a time, sear on one side for 4 minutes, or until you see the edges of the patty begin to brown and shrink up a bit. In the meantime, put your buns in the toaster or toaster oven. Flip the burger, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the brie and let it melt a minute before you remove the burger. Test the firmness of the center of the burger to gauge it's doneness (Close your hand into a light fist, poke the meaty party between your index finger and thumb, that's about medium).
5. Cover with foil and allow it to sit for two minutes. ** This timing yields a medium cooked burger in a hot cast iron pan. Vary your timing if you prefer it cooked more or less.
5. While the burger rests, put desired amount of mustard on the buns. To assemble: bottom bun+butter lettuce+burger with softened cheese+cranberry and scallion mix+bun top. Booya.

Thursday
May132010

US.

I made a bold claim on my last birthday. I just threw it out into the universe: this was going to be the best year of my life. We celebrated with a surprise party on a boat dock with hummus and brownies, Hugh had designed this site, I got a laptop so I could invest in said beautiful site, I had settled into my studio and I felt ready for life to start happening. Feeling like a 'grown up' clicked that very day. This was my life, my decisions, my relationships to chose to nurture. It was as if I had just cracked the chapter of life being about my passions and doing things I most sincerely cared about. Which brings me to the end of that birth year. In short, the year has been...unexpectedly expected. Yep. I knew last birthday that God was going to do big things, that I may feel uncomfortable, but it would be good. I've made an out-of-character career move, this site has fed me (both literally and figuratively) and most importantly, I have fallen so deeply and wholeheartedly in love with Hugh that my heart may explode. I wish you could know him, because he is hilariously witty, sincere, honest, obviously talented, exceedingly hot and selfless in ways you maybe wouldn't know unless you were me. He gives me the best bites of his food; like the cheesy corner of the pizza, the nub of the sandwich that has even proportions of all the goodies inside or let's me eat half his dessert after I said "I didn't want any", yea... I'm a lucky girl because after eating all his best bites, he wants to marry me.

There was a hilltop picnic, where we dug out of the same tupperware bowl having forgot plates, and alas, he let me eat the best bites. We took in the view and assessed this past year, 'the best year of my life', which I wasn't sure it was, until he got down on a knee. I didn't like seeing him alone down on the floor, and since I knew what was happening at this point, I barnacled him with a gigantic hug and listened to his sweet words. I have a gorgeous ring that he designed, and I am going to spare you the rest of the sap that still seems too good to be true. This is the real thing. We learn to love by being shown love, and I am marrying my mentor in that. So there is no recipe, no stunning picture of produce or a rant of how I love greek yogurt. He is mine and it's the best year of my life. My cup overflows.