Cookbook Review: The Broad Fork Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits

Wednesday, July 29, 2015">The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

The Broad Fork is an amazing, seasonal cookbook with focus on 50 ingredients from kohlrabi, persimmons, sunchokes, bok choy, collard, endives, fennels, ramps, berries, okra, to summer squash and many more.  Chef Acheson gives the readers three simple recipes and one involved recipe for each ingredient.  Whether you’re a beginner or someone with a lot of cooking experience, you’ll find this book very helpful.  

So far, I’ve only tried the simple recipes but they’ve all the turned out really good.  Some of my favorite recipes are fig jam (I’ve eaten with toast for breakfast and roasted meats), chilled avocado soup with crab (you can skip the crab and it would still be good), and raspberry cobbler with drop biscuits (I’ve substituted strawberries and peaches and they worked really well).  I would love to try the more complex recipes like lobster salad with persimmon, sweetbreads with sunchoke puree, lobster with peas and fingerling potatoes, braised veal cheeks with crushed peas and green garlic gremolata, and grilled venison with blackberry gastrique, just waiting  for a special occasion.  

One thing that can make this book more complete is  a short section on how to shop for and store your vegetables and fruits.  This book is perfect for people who struggle with their CSA box With over 200 recipes, you’re sure to find something you like.  This beautiful book will like be dog eared, stained with oil, and much loved on your kitchen counter instead of collecting dust on your bookshelf.  The Broad Fork is a great book for turning your home grown vegetables or farmers market finds into delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts.

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Strawberry and Elderflower Sorbet

Friday, July 17, 2015

When I come across a new ingredient for the first time, I want to explore all the culinary possibilities.  I am driven, like a mad scientist to derive its property, to break it down, to transform it, and ultimately to learn as much as I can.  Over the past few months, my mind has been consumed by elderflower.  The tsunami of Instagram posts on elderflower since spring piqued my curiosity.  I haven’t felt this way for a long time.  The last time I felt like this was six years ago, sitting in a noodle shop in Vietnam sipping on a glass of passion fruit lemonade wondering what the heck I’ve just inhaled.   After a bit of research, I found that elderflowers grow mainly in Europe and are prolific in the spring.  People pick the aromatic blossoms from elderberry shrubs and transform them into beautiful concoctions.  Unfortunately, they are not readily available in the US so I found the closest thing I could get my hands on--elderflower cordial from St Germain.  When Vu and I took a whip of the cordial, we were blown away by the beautiful fragrant reminiscent of lychee and an indistinguishable floral note.  

So the experiments began!  They went into drinks, cocktails, and desserts!  Yes, many desserts!  We’re sharing one of our favorite concoctions today--strawberry and elderflower sorbet.  The flavor of elderflower is quite delicate and I wanted to preserve it as much as possible.  Sorbet was the best dish for it to shine.  It definitely held its own next to the sweet, exquisite taste of strawberries.  The end result was a refreshing and delicious sorbet!  If you haven’t tried elderflower, this sorbet will win you over.

Strawberry and Elderflower Sorbet
1 pound organic strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 16 oz when pureed)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup elderflower cordial (Saint Germain brand)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat as soon as the sugar has dissolved and set aside to let it cool to room temperature.
2. In a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries with lemon juice.
3. Add the cooled syrup to the strawberry puree and blend again for a minute.
4. Stir in the elderflower cordial until thoroughly mixed.
5. Pour the strawberry mixture into an ice cream machine and churn till frozen according to manufacturer's instructions.
6. The sorbet is best served immediately or can be kept in the freezer for up to 5 days.

Chicken and Egg Breakfast Tart

Friday, July 10, 2015

Breakfast is really important to our family.  Growing up, I remember rarely skipping breakfast. Either my mom would cook or she would hand me a wad of money to buy breakfast from the street vendors.  Now, it’s even more important to continue that tradition for Aiden.  We’ve been trying to be more creative with our options, expanding beyond Vietnamese noodles and porridge or American pancakes and oatmeal.  My mom stockpiles puff pastry from a wonderful Persian supermarket that makes the perfect pastry, each sheet already precut.  I’ve been experimenting with puff pastry, making breakfast tarts with ingredients inspired by my favorite pizzas.  I would love a good breakfast pizza but busy mornings call for easy breakfast options instead of making the dough, waiting for it to rise, and rolling it out.  This chicken and egg breakfast tart is filling and will keep you going until noon.  It has everything you need, carb, protein, dairy, and veggies.  If you’re a vegetarian, skip the chicken and you’ll still have a delicious breakfast tart.  Now go make some!    

Chicken and egg breakfast tart (serves 4)
4 sheets of frozen puff pastry (5x5 inch)
¼ cup of chicken breast, cubed
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of olive oil
¼ cup of heavy cream
6 tbsps of mozzarella cheese
4 egg yolks
1 egg
one small heirloom tomato, sliced (you can use cherry or grape tomatoes)
a few basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper

1. Thaw the puff pastry according to the package directions.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the puff pastry on the baking sheet.
2. Fold over one fourth of an inch on each edge of the square and press down to form a rim.  Use a fork and prick inside the rim of each pastry square to prevent the center of the pastry from puffing up while baking.
3. Whisk one egg in a small bowl until frothy and brush each square with the egg.  Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
5. In a small skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil.  Add the minced garlic and let it saute until fragrant, but not browned.
6. Add the cubed chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. In a small mixing bowl, add the heavy cream and ¼ cup of cheese.  Spread the cream and cheese mixture equally between the center of the pastry squares.
8. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown.
9. Remove the puff pastry from the oven.  
10. Add 1 egg yolk to each square.  Arrange the cooked chicken, tomatoes, and basil leaves on the pastry making sure not to break the yolk.  Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese over the tarts.  
11. Bake for another 5-7 minutes, until the egg yolks are slightly cooked.  
12. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Beet and Carrot Juice

Monday, July 6, 2015

Today, we’re sharing another favorite juice that we have on regular rotation at our house, root vegetable juice--consists mainly of the carrots and beets grown from our garden.  If you don’t have home grown root vegetables ready at your disposal, they are abundant at your local farmers market. 

Carrots and beets have many wonderful vitamins (vitamin A, B and C) and minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron and many more) due to all the nutrients they absorb from the soil and sun.  Some people shy away from root vegetables when it comes to juicing but they’re quite delicious in a juice, a bit earthy, sweet, and much milder in taste than perceived.  We hope you give it a try!   

Beet and Carrot Juice (yield ~12 oz)
5-6 small organic carrots, about 2 cups, scrubbed and top cut off
2 small organic beets, about 1 cup, scrubbed and top cut off
1 cup of organic kale, washed
2 small organic apples (Fuji or Pink Lady apples), washed

1 .Cut the carrots, beets, apples, and kale to fit the juicer.
2. Start the machine and place the apples and kale leaves into the feeder of the juice extractor.
3. Next, add the carrots and beets into the feeder of the juice extractor.
4. Pour the juice in a glass and add a handful of ice cubes and enjoy as soon as possible.

Cook's note: if you use organic carrots and beets, you don't have to peel them.  For the freshest juice and highest level of nutrient, drink juice within 24 hours.  Otherwise refrigerate your juice in a airtight glass bottles for up to 72 hours.  Weck jars and Ball mason jars work very well.

Infuse Oil, Spirit, Water

Wednesday, July 1, 2015,%20Spirit,%20Water%3C/a%3E%3Cimg%20src=%22!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E

Infuse is such a fun book to read.  I love the story of how the authors decided to throw eight-year-old Kentucky bourbon and fresh peaches together over a decade ago which lead to an amazing peach infused bourbon and the passion for infusing.  Infusing doesn’t require a lot of expensive tools and most likely you already have them in your kitchen.  The basic tools are muddler, funnel, cheesecloth, strainer, peeler, and mason jars.  The authors give clear instructions for how to infuse using the base liquids (oil, spirit, water) and ingredients to infuse, whether it’s fresh herb, fruit, or tea leaves.  

My favorite chapters are the oil and spirit.  I’ve only tried a few recipes but they have turned out amazing.  I love the garlic confit oil and basil oil which I’ve used for a lot of pasta dishes and salads.  The fragrant of those two oils are heavenly especially when heated in a hot pan.  I like the fresh fruit infused spirits like grapefruit tequila and cherry bourbon.  If you love cocktails, you’ll have so much fun experimenting with the different fresh fruits and spices.  I have a bottle of passion fruit infused vodka brewing right now.  The only recipe that I tried from the water chapter is the Hanoi cold brew which turned out surprisingly delicious.  I was a bit hesitant since I’m used to the traditional Vietnamese coffee but the result was a pleasant surprise.  Overall, this is a wonderful book for people who love to experiment with infusing oil, spirit, and water.  I wish there were more recipes but the information provided will give you a good foundation for infusing and you can explore on your own.  Infuse will inspire you to find common fresh ingredients and transform your oil, spirit, and water.

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher