Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pickled Chard Stems


Somewhere, awhile ago I read a recipe for pickled chard stems. If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you'll probably know that I love to pickle things. Anything. Along with the usual pickles - cucumbers (though they were a Japanese smashed pickle), carrots, and beets - I've pickled Golden CauliflowerPeppersRed OnionsGreen TomatoesRadishes, and even Blueberries and CranberriesBut, it never occurred to me to pickle chard stems! If I happen to be making stock, I'll toss the stems in; otherwise, they go straight to the compost bin.


And, since I couldn't find the original article I read about pickling chard stems, I just decided to make up a pickling recipe. As I mentioned, I'm a pickling fiend.


Ingredients makes 1 cup
  • about 1 cup chopped chard stems (any color, I used rainbow chard)
  • 2 t salt, divided
  • 1 t dill seeds
  • 1 t fennel seeds
  • ¼ C apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ C rice vinegar
  • 3 T raw cane sugar
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, destemmed



Procedure
Rinse and chop your chard stems into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle them with 1 t salt. Toss to coat and set aside.

Place the vinegars, sugar, and 1 t salt in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Swirl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat, stir in the dill and fennel seeds. Let the brine cool.


Rinse and drain the chopped stems and place them in a jar, cover them with the brine and refrigerate overnight before eating them. I used them as a flavor foil to a creamy lobster roll. I also served them with a fennel slaw and pickled okra.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Coffee is the Foundation of My Food Pyramid #FoodieReads


Let's just start with this: Coffee is the foundation of my food pyramid. And this book tells me that I'm not alone. Coffee Gives Me Superpowers by Ryoko Iwata*.


This is a really cute book that's fun and educational with just the right amount of snark (which I just learned is actually a combination of 'snide' and 'remark'! That makes total sense.)

Fun
The Coffee Snob: "...it's pronounced 'espresso', not 'eXpresso.' Also real coffee must first be cleansed in the tears of sacred Peruvian yaks. Also, I have no friends" (pg. 13).

On why it's called a 'cup of Joe', after Josephus Daniels: "Coffee became a clean and righteous substitute for booze and debauchery. Coffee = Bean juice from Jesus" (pp. 79-81).

Educational
Okay, I have been known to scoff at Starbucks drinks. I mean, they really taste like dessert in a cup. Now I have calorie counts...and will never order any of these creations. Seriously. "Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha = 520 calories or the equivalent of 3.7 cans of Coca-Cola" (pg. 61).

World's Most Expensive Coffee: "Black Ivory Coffee, which comes from elephant poop, is now the most expensive coffee in the world at 2 cups for $50" (pg. 17). No, just no.

If you make coffee a routine part of your day, you'll get a kick out of this book.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in December 2017: here.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Sips Worth Sharing #WinePW

Today the Wine Pairing Weekend crew is posting about Giving the Gift of Wine. You can read David's preview on Cooking Chat. It's timely as we race headlong into the holiday season.


As Christmas approaches, I always tend to have extra wine bottles on hand...in case people drop by and I want to uncork something or in case we are invited somewhere and I need a quick hostess present. Also, wines are a favorite gift for most of my circle. So, there's lots and lots of wine swapping.


But this Wine Pairing Weekend event was the first time I actually stopped to think about why I pick the bottles that I pick as well as which bottles I share the most.

Giving the Gift of Wine
Here are the topics the #winePW crew will be covering: 

Be sure to check on Saturday morning for these great articles! We will also hold a live Twitter chat on Saturday, Dec. 9., 11 am Easter Time / 8 a.m. Pacific. Just tune into the #winePW hashtag on Twitter at that time to join the conversation. You can check out past and future #winePW topics by visiting this page.


Sips Worth Sharing
I put out a call for favorite bottles and came up with a list of bottles I need to track down. But what I decided to share with this post boils down to this: share sips and bottles that, first, you have actually tried and, second, have a great story you can share with the recipient. That's it.

And the best gifts are the bottles you actually want to squirrel away for yourself! A few of my favorites are bottles from Hundred Suns (it's like Bottled Poetry), Donkey & Goat (love that they have an 'esoteric' category in their wine list), Pierce Ranch Vineyards (a Spanish and Portuguese emphasis right here on California's central coast), and I. Brand & Family Wines (local-to-me winemaker who was named by Wine Enthusiast Magazine to its "40 Under 40: American Tastemakers" in 2012...and, yes, it was well-deserved). Additionally, I always have a case of prosecco ready at this time of year because Italian bubbles always make me smile and it's a good bet that almost everyone enjoys a good bottle of sparkling wine.

Mocha Crinkle Cookies #ChristmasCookies #Sponsored #Giveaway

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nielsen-Massey, a #ChristmasCookies sponsor.
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.


December always means Christmas cookies. Lots and lots of Christmas cookies. I was excited to see that Ellen at Family Around the Table was organizing a week-long event surrounding cookies...and what a week it has been! She has also created a giveway from one of our event sponsors. I hope you enjoy the recipes my fellow bloggers have shared to celebrate the cookie season. Get baking!


Nielsen-Massey + A Giveaway
Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors is giving one winner a set of their pure flavors: 2-oz each of Orange, Lemon, Peppermint, Almond, Chocolate, Coffee, Rose Water, and Orange Blossom Water.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has been crafting the world’s finest vanillas and flavors since 1907. Each of Nielsen-Massey’s all-nature pure flavors are crafted with premium ingredients, sourced from around the world and chosen to meet the utmost quality standards. From lemon to peppermint to coffee or chocolate, Nielsen-Massey’s pure flavors offer convenience, quality and consistency to ensure your favorite recipes taste delicious every single time. All products are gluten-free, allergen-free, GMO-free, all-natural and Kosher.


Saturday's Cookie Tray

Mocha Crinkle Cookies

These are so easy to make, but are rich and yummy. They definitely satisfy any chocolate and coffee cravings I have. 


Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 C lightly packed organic dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 t pure coffee extract (prefer Nielsen-Massey)
  • 1 t coffee liqueur
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 T instant espresso powder
  • 2 C flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t fleur de sel
  • 1/4 C raw pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 C organic powdered sugar (for coating)

Procedure
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, coffee extract, and coffee liqueur. Mix until smooth. Fold in cocoa powder, espresso powder, flour, baking powder, salt, and pecans until just moistened.

Roll tablespoon-sized pieces of dough into balls. Roll each ball in powdered sugar until nicely coated.


Place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes. 


Finish cooling on wire racks. Serve with a strong coffee or espresso.

You may find Nielsen-Massey on the web, on Twitter, on Pinterest, and on Facebook.

*Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Honningkagehjerter #ChristmasCookies


December always means Christmas cookies. Lots and lots of Christmas cookies. I was excited to see that Ellen at Family Around the Table was organizing a week-long event surrounding cookies. She has also created a giveway from one of our event sponsors. More on that soon! For now, I hope you enjoy the recipes my fellow bloggers have shared to celebrate the cookie season. Get baking!


Friday's Cookie Tray
Honningkagehjerter &Apologies
I am apologizing, in advance, to my favorite Danes because I have taken my usual culinary liberties with this traditional Danish Christmas gingerbread cookie. Undskyld på forhånd! Sorry in advance, Rikke, Mette, Ulla, Danya, and Stella.

Honningkagehjerter = Honning (honey) + kage (cake) + hjerter (hearts)

If you plan to make this, please read through completely. The dough must sit, refrigerated, for two days before it can be rolled and baked. So, don't plan on making and baking these on the same day.

There is something magical about making Honningkagehjerter dough. The texture. The scent. It's magnificent. It's hard to wait the two days to bake them...


One thing that posed challenging - the original recipe calls for hjorthornssalt which is baker's ammonia; hjorthornssalt was originally made from the ground antlers of reindeer. I substituted baking powder and hoped for the best.

Part I

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 C organic light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C honey (I used a pine honey)
  • 1/2 C blackstrap molasses
  • 1-1/4 C butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t ground cloves
  • 2 t ground ginger
  • 2 t ground cardamom
  • 8 C flour
  • 2 t baking powder

Procedure
Place sugar, honey, molasses, and butter in a saucepan and cook until the butter is melted. Whisk the eggs and spices into the mix. Sift flour with baking powder and knead the dough thoroughly. Wrap and place in the refrigerator for two days.

Part II

So after the dough has been in the fridge for two days, pull the dough out and let it come to room temperature to make it easier to roll. Roll the dough out between pieces of parchment paper.

Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Place them on a baking stone. Bake at 370 degrees for 15-17 minutes.

Let cool completely then melt semisweet chocolate in a double-boiler. Paint the tops of the cookies with a layer of chocolate.

For a more traditional look, press decorative bits of paper into the chocolate before it cools completely. Here's what Honningkagehjerter look like when they are made by a real Dane...


And here's what they look like when they are made by an American of Filipino descent who learned to cook in Italy...


This is the version I made for #ChristmasCookies Week.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Coffee-Kissed Pizzelle #ChristmasCookies #Sponsored #Giveaway

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nielsen-Massey, a #ChristmasCookies sponsor.
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

Nielsen-Massey + A Giveaway
Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors is giving one winner a set of their pure flavors: 2-oz each of Orange, Lemon, Peppermint, Almond, Chocolate, Coffee, Rose Water, and Orange Blossom Water.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has been crafting the world’s finest vanillas and flavors since 1907. Each of Nielsen-Massey’s all-nature pure flavors are crafted with premium ingredients, sourced from around the world and chosen to meet the utmost quality standards. From lemon to peppermint to coffee or chocolate, Nielsen-Massey’s pure flavors offer convenience, quality and consistency to ensure your favorite recipes taste delicious every single time. All products are gluten-free, allergen-free, GMO-free, all-natural and Kosher.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thursday's Cookie Tray

Coffee-Kissed Pizzelle
Last year the Enthusiastic Kichen Elf's godparents gave him a pizzelle maker for Christmas. I groaned inwardly when he opened it - another kitchen tool to take up cabinet space, another kitchen tool that only has one purpose, another...[imagine much grumbling]. But D loves making them! I don't care for sweets too much, but these cookies are amazing...and simple. Perfect!

He has made many different versions, but this one uses the coffee extract I received from Nielsen-Massey as a sponsor gift for #ChristmasCookies Week.


Ingredients
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 t pure coffee extract (prefer Nielsen-Massey)
  • 1 t pure almond extract
  • 1 3/4 C flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 C melted butter
  • zest from 1 organic lemon
  • oil for greasing the pizzelle maker (he used a non-aerosol grapeseed oil spray)

Procedure
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, coffee and almond extracts until well combined. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour  and baking powder.

Add the melted butter to the egg mixture. Then, with a wooden spoon, fold in the flour mixture and the lemon zest. The batter will be thick.

Heat your pizzelle iron. Lightly grease with oil. Cook the pizzelle according to the instructions that came with your iron. D's suggested 1 to 2 t of batter per pizzelle.


The pizzelle cook rapidly, browning in about a minute or two. D used a setting between 3 and 4 on his machine. Remove the pizzelle from the iron, and cool. As the pizzelle cool, they will harden. 


Repeat till all the batter is gone. You can use a pair of kitchen shears to trim any ragged edges. Or leave them rustic.


He served them with small bowls of coffee-scented whipped cream. Oh. My. Goodness.



You may find Nielsen-Massey on the web, on Twitter, on Pinterest, and on Facebook.


*Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Cardamom Shortbreads #ChristmasCookies


December always means Christmas cookies. Lots and lots of Christmas cookies. I was excited to see that Ellen at Family Around the Table was organizing a week-long event surrounding cookies. She has also created a giveway from one of our event sponsors. More on that soon! For now, I hope you enjoy the recipes my fellow bloggers have shared to celebrate the cookie season. Get baking!


Wednesday's Cookie Tray


Ingredients

  • 10 T butter
  • 1/2 C packed organic brown sugar
  • 1 t ground cardamom
  • 1 t fennel pollen (if you don't have fennel pollen, you can use 2 t cardmom instead)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-1/2 C flour
  • 1/4 C finely ground cornmeal
  • granulated sugar, for rolling
  • ground cardamom, for rolling
  • fennel pollen, for rolling, if using
  • sea salt, for topping

Procedure
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in cardamom and fennel pollen (if using) until well combined. Beat in the egg, then carefully fold in the flour.

Roll the dough into a long cylinder. Flatten the cylinder into a rectangular shape, pressing granulated sugar, cardamom, and fennel pollen, if using, into the sides. Put the dough in plastic wrap and chill for about an hour, until the dough is firm enough to slice.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough cylinder widthwise into 1/4" slices and place, slightly apart, on the baking sheets. Sprinkle with large flakes of sea salt and bake for 15-18 minutes until slightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Eggnog Tasting + a Classic Recipe #FoodieExtravaganza


Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays or cook and bake together with the same ingredient or theme each month.

Posting day for #FoodieExtravaganza is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

Today we're celebrating eggnog with Nichole of Cookaholic Wife leading the charge.

Here's what the group created...



My three boys - and, yes, I am including my husband in that category! - are nog-hounds. Well, technically what makes 'eggnog' is the alcohol. So, no, my minis aren't actually nog fanatics. But from the beginning of December until we can no longer find it in the store, we always have eggnog, the virgin kind, in the fridge.


Usually I'm not very discerning and will just pick whatever brand is available at the store in which I happen to be shopping. Actually, I have to admit that I've never paid too much attention to the brands.


So, when a trusted foodie friend told me that Bud's was the best, I went on the hunt specifically for that kind and I found it at Safeway.

Eggnog Tastings

The Kid-Friendly Tasting
Once I mentioned the theme for this month's #FoodieExtravaganza, the boys declared we should do a taste test, comparing all of the eggnogs they like. Done! They decided to exclude any non-dairy nogs such as those made with rice milk or almond milk And, yes, there's a ton of those, too. So, we poured and rated Bud's, Humboldt, Clover, and Straus which, they tell me have been favorites in years past.

When I posted photos of the tasting almost everyone in my circle declared that Bud's would be triumphant. Sadly, no. But read on to discover which one took the title in the Mann household.


We poured. We noted what D called 'glass appeal' (Oh, my goodness! Do you think that I've dragged that kid to too many wine tastings with me?!?). 


We tasted. We ranked based on spice, viscosity, sweetness, and best overall. 


We discussed. We tasted again. And, before falling into a major sugar coma, we crowned a winner.


 And the winner...wasn't Bud's! We decided that Humboldt Creamery's Organic Egg Nog was at the top of our list.


Just a couple of other comments...
Bud's had already been bumped down on the list based on the tasting alone, then my label readers started to read. Bud's was the only one of the four that included high fructose corn syrup and had the most amount of sugar per serving with 22 g. Yikes! But Bud's has the best color.

Straus had the best "gulpability," according to the nog gulpers! And it also had the most visible spices at the bottom of the glass.

Something in the Clover was reminiscent of maple syrup or caramel.


The Adults-Only Tasting
Then Jake and I decided to taste the different nogs, not as sippers but as mixers. I picked to mix them with a 21-year rum and a gingersnap liqueur.


Across the board, we both preferred the gingersnap liqueur to the rum. The rum seemed to overpower the nog in every instance except for the Bud's. A-ha. Maybe that's it: all my friends must use Bud's as a mixer for booze!


And, while we both picked SNAP as our booze of choice for nog, I liked it best with the Straus nog; Jake chose Clover as his favorite.


And with that little exercise done, I decided to make my own eggnog...from scratch. It's pretty easy.


Ingredients
  • 8 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 C packed organic dark brown sugar
  • pinch of fleur de sel
  • 2 C organic heavy cream
  • 2 C organic whole milk
  • 1 C brandy
  • 1 C rum 
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 organic granulated sugar
  • freshly grated nutmeg

Procedure
Note: eggs are more easily beaten when they are at room temperature.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar, and salt until thickened and maple-syrup colored. It might take 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the cream and milk, then the rum, brandy, and vanilla.

In another bowl, whip egg whites with a hand-blender until soft peaks form. This might take 2 minutes. Slowly add the granulated sugar and whip until the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks.

Fold the eggwhites into the booze mixture. Ladle portions into glasses - I used shot glasses for small servings - and sprinkle with nutmeg for garnish.

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