Friday, February 28, 2014

Warm French Green Lentils With Poached Eggs

Have you had enough of winter yet? I know I’m daydreaming about shedding my bulky coat. However, this weekend’s impending snowstorm is another opportunity to make a dish that has fortified me during this snowier-than-usual winter.  These delightful Warm French Green Lentils topped with a poached egg are an ideal snow-day meal. Given the weekend snowfall prediction, I’m sharing them with you just in time.

This recipe is by way of Megan from the lovely blog, A Sweet Spoonful.  She writes beautifully about how her boyfriend (now fiancée) made his "famous lentils" one of the first times he cooked for her, and how she joked that she'd marry him for his lentils alone. I first made the dish simply because I had everything on hand and it was snowing too hard to run outside to the store for other groceries.  However once I tasted these lentils for myself, I understood how they could be commitment-worthy!

I love little French green lentils, which are more flavorful than their often-mushy brown counterparts.  Also known as lentilles du Puy, these French green gems hold their shape well in salads and soups.  They are often an accompaniment to traditional French bistro dishes such as salmon or a farmhouse stew with garlic sausage.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ottolenghi's Clementine and Almond Syrup Cake With Chocolate Glaze

Today is my beloved grandmother’s 100th birthday!!!  Yes, you read that correctly, and while I’ve never had the opportunity to wish anyone a “happy 100th” before, I couldn’t be more delighted to say it to my extraordinary grandma today.  In honor of this major milestone, I’m sharing the Clementine Almond Cake with Chocolate Glaze I recently made for her.

On my family visit in California last month, we had an early celebration exactly one month before Grandma hit this remarkable triple-digit age.  I needed an easy but special cake recipe for her, for I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could on that last day of my trip.  I wanted to talk with her, looking at photos together and playing my violin for her rather than slaving away in the kitchen making some elaborate creation.  This Clementine Almond Cake from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook perfectly fit the bill.

As Grandma herself described it after the first bite, “It’s worth living to nearly one hundred to have a cake like this!” This cake may be only a single layer in form, but you definitely taste multiple layers of flavor with each bite.  Grated clementine zest infuses the almond-flour cake with fragrant citrus, while clementine syrup poured over the still-warm cake adds another level of edible sunshine. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Valentine's Day Dinner Menu

With February 14th quickly approaching, many cooking blogs are abuzz with Valentine-themed recipes this week.  I myself have no new recipe to share with you today, for I’m currently in the midst of churning out hundreds of CocoaRoar truffles, sprinting towards the finish line to finish my Valentine’s Day Collection orders in time.  (I wish I could make my divine Caramel and Sea Salt Truffles for all of you!)  After going full-force in the kitchen all week, I will happily let someone else cook for me on Friday night. But if I were responsible for a special meal, this would be my Valentine’s Day menu:

I would start the evening with champagne, naturally, and my Elderflower Champagne Cocktail turns any evening into an occasion.  With a touch of St Germaine liqueur and a few raspberries bobbing up and down in the glass, this festive spritzer is pure delight in a champagne flute.

You’ll want something to nibble on with your glass of champagne, perhaps a little ricotta crostini.  Inspired by the marvelous Harvest Song tea-rose petal jam I’ve been using in my rose truffles this week, I love spreading thin baguette slices with fresh ricotta and a dollop of this fragrant not-too-sweet rose jam. For a savory version, drizzle the ricotta-topped baguette slices with a few drops of good olive oil, a sprinkling of flaky Maldon salt, and an intoxicating pinch of smoked paprika.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winter Salad With Radicchio, Endive and Citrus

Today is my beautiful mom’s birthday, and I’m writing this post in her honor. Several years ago on this day I wrote one of my all-time favorite blog entries about our family’s Black Magic Cake.  I don’t know how I can top that, so today I’m posting a salad recipe instead.   Now before you yawn, please know that this fabulous Winter Salad With Radicchio, Endive and Citrus is definitely celebration-worthy.

It’s also appropriate for Mom's birthday because she is the queen of the beautifully composed salad. Ever since I was a kid, I always remember Mom presenting these artful-looking salads, incorporating as many colors and textures as she could.  It was a mini painting on a plate.

During these winter months, I shy away from typical leafy salads since most of the available greens these days are rather limp and uninspiring.  Instead, I turn to vegetables that are crisp and assertive right now.  Radicchio and endive are both members of the chicory family, and I can always rely on them to wake up my palate during the winter doldrums, as well as help combat those starchy/cheesy comfort food cravings.

I love the variety of textures and tastes in this winter salad. The tangle of bitter radicchio and endive leaves, shaved into paper-thin ribbons, is balanced by the crisp sweetness of the little celery crescents.  Juicy orange segments add citrusy brightness.  Slivered scallions pack a punch while cilantro mellows it out, and a zippy Dijon vinaigrette ties it all together.