August 16, 2015
July 25, 2015
Macarons, croissants, eclairs, madeleines, financiers… and the list of things that the French have created (and that I LOVE) goes on and on and on. Over the years I’ve become a bit of a Francophile, growing more interested in all things French and French cooking and patisserie. (See here and here for some of my other French recipes and here and here for some travel photos!)
Naturally, when I become slightly obsessed with something, I go slightly over the top with a new cookbook collection and new bakeware! Hello madeleine pans! But there was one dish I had seen in books from Julia Child to Raymond Blanc that really grabbed my attention, not only because it was French, but because it was simple, quick and easy.
Clafoutis is a French baked dessert, traditionally served with griottes (sour black cherries) as the fruit component. It is said that it comes from the Limousin region of France, where it spread nationally during the 19th century. While some purists may say that if black cherries are not used, it cannot be called a clafoutis but rather a flaugnarde. I disagree, especially since clafoutis (kla-foo-tee) is so much more fun to say! So as I couldn’t find any black cherries, I chose to use some gorgeously red, plump, tart raspberries in their stead.
This Raspberry Clafoutis is divine. The combination of sharp, juicy fruit and a wobbly, vanilla scented batter is one of pure indulgence and simplicity. I love that this dessert can also be served warm or cold, with whipped cream or a chocolate sauce, the possibilities are endless. I think I may go whip up another one! Bon appetit!
June 15, 2015
There is a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from slaving away in the kitchen all day to produce a meal that people “oooh” and “ahhh” over. I guess it’s that pride that comes with working hard to achieve something. I may regret saying this, but sometimes the satisfaction can be just as rewarding when taking two ingredients, mixing them together and coming up with something incredibly tasty. While I’d like you to think of me slaving away to bring you this recipe, it’s actually the latter that brings you this Baked Ricotta and Spinach Dip.
As you know, I do love a good dip. My Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip is one of my all time favorite things to eat. I am the kinda girl who would gladly eat this as a meal, rather than as a snack or appetizer. Which makes this recipe a new found favorite as it literally takes seconds to whip up. All you need is some good quality ricotta, some greens, and some seasoning and you’ve got yourself a comforting, delicious, warm dip that will be happily eaten instead of a meal! (And yes, this was definitely my lunch!). You can also pare down or multiply this recipe really easily. For every cup of ricotta, you need a cup of greens, and seasoning is up to you! It’s also really nice to add some smoked paprika or some chili flakes for a nice hit of heat.
May 4, 2015
There is a famous chain of restaurants that my mom and I used to go to every time we went to the nearest shopping mall. Their french fries were AMAZING (it’s all about the seasoned steak fries baby!) but the one thing that I could barely get through the door without ordering was their Strawberry Lemonade. It was tart, yet sweet from the berries and it had huge chunks of fresh strawberry that would get so soft they would eventually be able to be sucked up through the straw. It really is one of my favorite food memories because it always signified a great day out with my mother, usually a day to split up the long summer days.
But there are days where a glass of lemonade (even the best ever lemonade) will not suffice. Sometimes you want the tart and the sweet to mingle together on top of a buttery shortbread crust. This was definitely one of those times. These Strawberry Lemonade Bars are EVERYTHING. And by EVERYTHING I mean they’re everything that was good about that delicious glass of lemonade, supercharged into a tiny little bite size square of pure sweet strawberry and tangy lemon curd, atop a rich and buttery cookie-like crust.
Another thing- they are almost (and I mean almost) too cute to eat. They turn out a beautiful shade of pink and look so lovely when sprinkled with powdered sugar. Try swapping out raspberries for a more reddish bar, or try blueberries to make a more purple one! Take care after baking, however, as even if they look like they’re ready to eat, you must let them set in the fridge. They need at least a few hours before slicing.
April 19, 2015
Condensed milk is a funny thing. I have always been strangely enamored by it, always watching the way that it oozes out of the can like a sugary waterfall then suddenly becomes a slow, endless stream until all patience is lost and I just give up and use a spatula to get the last few sweet drops out. Some people I know would eat it by the spoonful, some wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole, but I guarantee that both sides would agree that condensed milk makes a darn good cake, and this Condensed Milk Bundt Cake fits the bill perfectly.
This Condensed Milk Bundt Cake is unlike any other cake I’ve ever had. It is very dense and spongy and best served with lashings of whipped cream and fruit puree to offset the density. It is almost like a pound cake but slightly less sweet, as the only sugar in this cake is from the sweetened condensed milk. It slices beautifully and would be perfect to take to a friend’s house for tea. Who wouldn’t appreciate this pretty little cake appearing at their door?
April 12, 2015
Breakfast burritos are a whole food group to us Californians. It’s just a way of life! I mean, I was a pretty good girl at school but even I managed to wander off campus once or twice to walk to the local greasy cafe to have a delicious breakfast burrito (sorry Mom!). Then, when I went to college in San Diego I discovered the true passion that people carry for this rolled breakfast delicacy. There are restaurants that claim to have invented the breakfast burrito, the world famous California burrito and most other burritos are usually under contention as to their origins. The reason we enjoy eating these creations at little greasy cafes and restaurants is because they will make them for you quickly and well, with your rumbling belly soon to be subsided. But the one thing that no burrito connoisseur will deny is that they are time consuming to make yourself at home, and like I said at the start of this post, breakfast burritos are a food group. So, what’s a breakfast burrito craving California girl to do? Make Freezer Breakfast Burritos of course!
The first thing you need to do is prepare and cook all your ingredients so they have time to cool completely before rolling. This is so once you’ve rolled your burritos there is no excess steam inside, which makes a soggy burrito once microwaved! You’ll need:
Scrambled eggs, seasoned.
Cooked, diced potatoes. You could also use hash browns!
Crispy smoked bacon lardons. You could also just cook up some crispy bacon and crumble it.
Sautéed onion. I used a mix of red and white onions.Fresh washed and dried spinach leaves.
March 22, 2015
Since moving to Britain, I have never realized how much I took for granted the sunny Southern California weather. So the second the sun begins to shine after the cold winter months, you know it’s time to make a delicious cocktail to enjoy in the precious sunshine. What better than the classic, oh so British perfect Pimm’s Cup Cocktail?
A Pimm’s Cup is sweet and tangy yet incredibly refreshing. The fizz and the fresh fruit and cucumber create a very light drink that you can find yourself drinking throughout the day. It’s a great cocktail to serve at a barbecue because you don’t need to do any muddling or making of sugar syrups or anything complicated when you’d rather be enjoying your day!
Pimm’s No. 1 Cup is a gin-based liqueur that is steeped in history. The tipple was created in 1823 by the son of a farmer in England. It rapidly rose to be a favorite among the English as it was also sold as an aid to digestion! The popularity led to the creation of several more liqueurs, like the Scotch-based No. 2 Cup and the rum-based No. 4 Cup. Yet all the subsequent libations were phased out as none were as loved as the classic Pimm’s No. 1 Cup.
This classic British cocktail is so simple to whip up. To make the Perfect Pimm’s Cup Cocktail all you need is some Pimm’s No. 1 Cup liqueur and some lemonade. In Britain, lemonade is a clear, fizzy lemon soda, so 7-Up and Sprite would be comparable. All the fruit and garnishes are completely customizable, but I would highly recommend adding cucumber, lemon and strawberries as a perfect combination. This recipe is more 1 cocktail, but it is easily increased to make a pitcher of the cocktail. I like about 1 part Pimm’s and 3 parts lemonade, with lots and lots of fruit!
Visiting Lisbon and Porto in Portugal was life changing. Not only is Portugal a beautiful country, it is full of life and culture. The people are lovely and the food is even lovelier. I must’ve had way more than my fair share of these beautiful, vanilla scented tarts during our 10 days in the country. But they were pretty irresistible! I mean, just look at these photos I snapped of the most delicious Pasteis de Nata I’ve ever had:
My mouth waters just looking at these images again…
There are some foods that just burn into your sense memory, and for me this was one of them. I will always remember not only the taste, but also the feeling of popping into tiny little backstreet bakeries and purchasing one that has literally just been taken out of the oven. Those experiences are rare and for me, worth trying to recreate.
The key to great Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts) is actually quite simple.
- Uber flaky pastry.
- Super vanilla flavor.
- Silky smooth custard.
oh, and let’s not forget the iconic dark spots on top (which are incredibly difficult to master in a home oven, but let’s give it a go, shall we?).
A few tips to help make the best Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts) possible: Take care in rolling the pastry properly. We want flakiness and lots of layers! Also, be sure to whisk your custard like mad: no lumps here! And lastly: don’t skimp on the vanilla. It takes your tart from ordinary to extraordinary! Get ready for your cheapest ever vacation to Portugal!
Look at the spiral on the bottom of the pastry! This is where your hard work rolling and cutting the pastry pays off! So many layers of flakiness!