Crepes with strawberries and mascarpone

Monday, August 14, 2017

I was always fascinated with crepes but never attempted to make it at home until our honeymoon in Paris. Everywhere we walked there was a crepe stand around the corner. We saved a lot of money and time grabbing crepes for breakfast and lunch on the way to the museums or sightseeing and splurged on dinner. My husband gravitated toward the savory ones while my sweet tooth always won.

Since our honeymoon eons ago, we love alternating crepes for breakfast with our other French favorite, French toast. Continuing our obsession with strawberries and basil from a tart that we shared a while back, we decided to bring these flavors together for the filling of our crepes. This breakfast is perfect for summer when strawberries are at their peak season but you can replace the strawberries with stone fruits like cherries, peaches, and plums. Even though this recipe seems a bit involved, it’s quite simple and anyone can make it!

Crepes with strawberries and mascarpone

½ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup organic milk
½ cup organic heavy cream
½ tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 organic egg
Melted unsalted butter

Mascarpone creme

¼ cup mascarpone
¼ cup organic heavy cream
1 tbsp honey and extra for serving
½ tsp vanilla bean past
1 pint of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 tbsps baby basil leaves

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk flour, milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and egg until smooth. Leave the batter in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest (you can also keep it refrigerated overnight if you wish to prepare it for the next day).

2. Brush a nonstick 8 inch crepe pan or skillet with melted butter and heat over medium-high heat.

3. When hot, ladle about ¼ cup of batter and swirl the pan/skillet so that the batter coats the base evenly.

4. Cook for 1-2 minutes until golden, then flip and cook for another minute on the other side until pale golden.

5. Remove the crepe from the pan, place on baking sheet, cover, and keep warm with a clean tea towel. Repeat the process with the remaining batter.

6. Whisk the mascarpone, heavy cream, vanilla, and honey until well combined.

7. Divide the crepes among serving plates, spread with mascarpone cream, extra honey, and basil leaves.

8. You can store leftover crepes in the freezer and rewarm when ready to serve.

Orange blossom yogurt with figs and pistachios

Monday, August 7, 2017

There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh figs and I have been patiently waiting for their arrival since June. We have our own little fig tree growing in the garden but 16 figs would barely last me a couple days. I saw an early wave of figs back in June, but August is really the beginning of fig season--Black Mission figs, brown turkey figs, Kadota figs, St John Adriatic figs, and so many more. I love them with yogurt or fresh ricotta as a snack. I recently discovered orange blossom water and was excited by how their beautiful scent can elevate a simple ingredient like Greek yogurt. My husband and I love this delightful combination of Greek yogurt with orange blossom water, the luscious and sweet taste of figs, sweetened by a touch of honey, and topped with pistachios.


Orange blossom yogurt with figs and pistachios

1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp of orange blossom water
A pint of fresh figs, halved or quartered if large
2 tbsps of chopped, shelled unsalted pistachios
2 tbsps of honey

1. In a bowl, mix the yogurt, orange blossom water, and honey until well combined.

2. Spoon the yogurt into two serving bowls.

3. Top the yogurt with fresh figs, pistachios, and additional honey if desired.

Elderflower Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Pistachio

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon pints and pints of elderflowers at Specialty Produce and could hardly contain my excitement as I picked out the sweetly scented, creamy white blossoms. It was my first time seeing elderflowers! Given how expensive they were, I only bought enough to use as a garnish for a simple treat I had in mind--panna cotta. 

I used one of my favorite liqueurs, St Germaine, to add a subtle elderflower flavor to the panna cotta, then topped it off with fresh elderflowers, strawberries, and pistachio. It was so good we polished a whole batch in two days. Then I made it again per my hubby’s request. This panna cotta is the perfect embodiment of spring with the delicate elderflowers and sun kissed strawberries. 

Elderflower panna cotta

1 ½ cups organic heavy cream
½ cup organic 2% milk
¼ cup sugar
2 gelatin sheets (I used PerfectaGel Platnium Gelatin)
½ vanilla bean pod
2 tbsps elderflower cordial (St Germaine)
1 tbsp roasted unsalted pistachio, chopped
½ cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half if big
1 tsp powdered sugar
Fresh elderflower for garnish

1. Combine heavy cream, milk, and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer for a few minutes. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Scrape the vanilla pod’s seeds into the milk, whisk to combine, and add the pod. Steep the pod until it has softened. Remove the pot from heat and discard the vanilla pod.

3. Soak the gelatine sheets in a small bowl of cold water for 5-7 minutes until softened.

4. Remove the sheets and squeeze them to remove excess water. Add them to the vanilla-infused cream mixture while it’s still hot. Whisk to completely dissolve the gelatin sheet.

5. Stir in the elderflower cordial.

6. Allow the cream mixture to cool completely and pour into individual ramekin and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight until fully set.

7. When ready to serve, combine the sliced strawberries with powdered sugar in a bowl and let it macerate for 10 minutes.

8. Turn the panna cottas out onto serving plates, top with the strawberries, chopped pistachios, and garnish with a few elderflowers.

Ramp and pistachio pesto

Monday, May 29, 2017

Over the past few years, our perspective on traveling has changed quite a bit. Nowadays, when we travel, we like to experience the local culture rather than hitting all the tourist attractions. We want to eat like the locals, shop at their farmers market, and hang out where they would take family and friends visiting from out of town. For those very reasons, our recent New York trip is one of my favorites to date. We only scheduled one tourist attraction per morning then tried to hit the local hang-outs for the remaining of the day.

With my love for local produce, I knew that a farmers market visit was a must. A few months before our trip, I scoured the internet for farmers markets nearby our hotel and found quite a few. With the Union Square Greenmarket walking distance from our place, I started stalking their Instagram account to see what’s available. As luck would have it, I saw one of my favorite alliums, ramps, appearing on their feed and resolved to bring some back to California. In case you don’t know what ramps are, here’s a little tidbit as to why they’re so popular.

After the 2800 mile journey from NYC to San Diego, I was elated that the ramps made it to my kitchen without any problems. If someone had told me a year ago that we would be visiting New York in the spring and bringing home some ramps, I would have a flabbergasted look on my face. So here we are with this culinary treasure and plenty of recipes to showcase them! Last year, when I made a ramp and hazelnut pesto, I was able to enjoy it with pizza, pasta, toast, roasted chicken, and even fish. The hazelnut was a bit more time consuming to de-skin so I decided to make a ramp and pistachio pesto this time. We went through the first batch of pesto in a few days, using it as a spread for toast to enjoy with breakfast and lunch and will make a few more batches before the season comes to an end.

Ramp and pistachio pesto

½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios, finely ground
2 oz ramp leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup olive oil and extra for top layer
2 tbsps lemon juice
¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

1. Use a pestle and mortar to pound the chopped ramps into a paste.

2.Add the ground pistachios, olive oil, lemon juice and pound to mix together.

3. Mix in the Parmesan cheese.

4. Season with salt to taste.

5. Transfer the pesto to the clean lidded glass jar. Add a thin layer of olive oil to help preserve it.  Store in the coldest part of your fridge for up to a week or freeze it for up to three months.  Thaw when needed.

Book Review: Food52 Ice Cream and Friends

Monday, May 15, 2017

I impatiently waited for the Food52 Ice Cream and Friends book to arrive and couldn’t be more excited to try some of the recipes.  Unlike other ice cream books, this one took a unique approach to ice cream making, skipped the usual basic recipes and focused on really exciting flavors like fresh ricotta, lemongrass chile ginger, horchata, butternut squash and tahini, and so many more.  Besides ice cream, there were other recipes for gelato, sorbet, cakes, and drinks.

One of the first recipes that I tried was the cherry snow cone since we had a lot of cherries from our farmers market trip.  By the way, this recipe called for Pernod but I substituted it with kirsch since we had that available.  I also made a non-alcoholic version for our little guy and he enjoyed it.  It tasted so refreshing.  The ricotta ice cream was good but definitely needed a fruit compote topping to make it shine.  Next time I will add a fruity swirl instead of making a plain ricotta ice cream.  I have always wanted to make mochi from scratch so that was next on the list.  It was surprisingly easy to make and tasted similar to the mochi that I usually get from local frozen yogurt joints.  

So far I have really enjoyed the recipes from the Food52 ice cream book and can’t wait to try the halvah paletas, mango lassicles, s’mores ice cream, and chocolate tacos.  The recipes do not have a long list of ingredients and instructions are easy to follow.  I highly recommend the Food52 Ice Cream and Friends book to ice cream novices and connoisseurs alike especially if you’re looking for interesting flavors to try.       

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher           

Strawberry and basil mascarpone tart

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Somehow this past winter felt like the longest winter ever. As much as I love the cooler weather, I was ready for the temperature to warm up and work on my garden. I had planned on adding a few more garden boxes for a lot of veggies and fruits, in particular alpine strawberries. It will be my third attempt growing them from seed. It takes anywhere from a few weeks to almost two months for the seeds to germinate and a whole year before the first harvest happens. Wish me luck! In the meantime, I’m content with buying strawberries from the farmers market, enjoying them fresh, showcasing them in tarts and galettes, and the most refreshing treat of all, ice cream! 

Before we get to the ice cream (recipe coming soon I promise!), let’s talk about tarts! It’s been years since I posted a recipe for strawberry tart, so we’re overdue! With strawberries, their flavor is so delicate, I try not to do too much otherwise they lose their sweetness.  I also added some basil leaves to the cream to provide some contrast to the mild flavor of the tart.  Strawberries and basil make such a tasty combination anyway!  This tart can be made the day before your gathering so it will be a bit less stressful while you're running around trying to prepare dinner.  We've been enjoying this tart since strawberry season started and will be making it often until the end of summer!  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!      

Strawberry and basil mascarpone tart

1 quantity of pastry dough
12 oz of strawberries, hulled and halved (leave about 4-5 strawberries unhulled for garnish)
2 tbsps icing sugar
¾ cup of organic heavy whipping cream
4 oz of mascarpone cheese
¼ cup of icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp of Genovese basil leaves, finely chopped
Icing sugar and a few baby basil leaves for garnish

For the pastry dough
½ cup of spelt flour (if you don’t have spelt flour, you can replace with another wheat flour or all purpose flour)
½ cup of almond meal
6 tbsps of butter, chopped into cubes
2 tbsp of icing sugar
pinch of salt
3-4 tbsps of ice-cold water

1. Sift the flours together. To make the pastry crust, place the flours, sugar, salt, and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

2. While the mixture is being processed, gradually add cold water until the dough comes together.

3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently.

4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 60 minutes before rolling.

5. Remove the dough from the fridge. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a circle of about 10 inches wide and ¼ inch thick and line an 8-inch tart pan. Trim off the excess dough. You can save the extra dough for up to one month in the freezer.

6. Prick the tart base with a fork, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for another 30 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

8. Remove the tart base from the fridge, line with parchment paper and fill with baking weights (you can use rice or beans if you do not have any baking weights).

9. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and bake for another 10 minutes until the pastry is golden. Let it cool to room temperature.

10. While the tart base is baking, prepare the filling. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the heavy cream, mascarpone, icing sugar, and vanilla until thick. 

11. Gently fold the chopped basil into the cream mixture. Put the cream mixture in the fridge while the tart base is cooling.

12. Place strawberries in a bowl and toss with the icing sugar. Refrigerate the strawberries if the tart base is still cooling.

13. When the tart shell is ready, fill the tart shell with the basil cream and arrange the strawberries on top.

14. Before serving the tart, garnish with baby basil leaves and a dusting of icing sugar.

Cookbook Review: Dinner Changing the Game

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I was excited to read and cook Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark having read all the praises from Yotam Ottolenghi, Diana Henry, and Amanda Hesser.  The book is broken into ten chapters with a focus on chicken, meat (pork, beef, veal, lamb, duck, and turkey), the grind (meatballs, sausage), fish and seafood, eggs, pasta and noodles, tofu, beans/legumes/veg dinners, rice/farro/quinoa/other grains, salad, and dips/spreads.  Many recipes had global influence ranging from Southeast Asian to Middle Eastern.  I tried the sticky tamarind chicken with crisp lettuce which had a nice balance of savory and heat.  On the other hand, the Vietnamese caramel salmon tasted a bit off to me.  The seasoning in this dish did not taste like the authentic savory caramelized taste of ca kho to that I grew up with.  I also really enjoyed the asparagus polenta with burrata, so cheesy and delicious.

I really appreciated that the recipes in Dinner Changing the Game took only a page and the instructions easy to follow.  For a book receiving so many accolades, I was rather disappointed that I didn’t learn anything new that would change the way I make dinner compared to many cookbooks (ie. Food52 a New Way to Dinner) that I own.  It definitely didn't up the ante on the dinner game for me.  Although Melissa Clark’s Dinner is gorgeous and filled with many versatile recipes, I didn't feel inspired by the recipes focused in this cookbook.  Overall Melissa Clark’s Dinner would be a good cookbook for someone who is looking for easy and delicious recipes and needs to not fuss over the cooking too much.

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher