Monday, November 24, 2014

Nailed, It!

The other day I wrote an article about my attempt at making chocolate candy appropriately named, "Not So Nutty". Needless to say it was a slight disaster. So, I went back in the kitchen, rolled up my sleeves and used some common sense. First attempt failed because the chocolate didn't adhere to the nuts and visa versa. Solution? Use a small container to restrict the chocolate in one area.
Second, problem... how to set the chocolate and make them easily removable? Grease never hurt nobody! So, I used BUTTER... it wouldn't hurt the nuts, chocolate or raisins, right! Right.
1/2 cup mild chocolate morsels
1/2 cup dark chocolate morsels
1/4 cup of raisins - I used Flame.
1/2 cup roasted plain almonds.

I have a mini muffin pan. Why do I have a mini muffin pan? To make muffins? Nope, I had no real need to use the mini muffin pan when I first bought it at Home Goods eons ago. It was on sale for $2.00...and as my Mother would say, "..Never pass up a $2.00 sale on anything. It'll come in handy one day...". Well, are so right. In this case the mini muffin pan came in mighty handy. 
Liberally line inside the muffin tin with butter, just so once the chocolate has set the candy is easy to remove. Then place on the bottom a few (2-3) raisins and (1-2) almonds, depending on how chunky you like your candy.

In a Pyrex boil over a pot of simmering water, called a double boiler in culinary terms, be sure the water does NOT touch the base of the Pyrex bowl... unless, of course you want the chocolate to scorch, burn and be totally useless. Okay, moving no... pour both chocolates in the bowl. DO not and I repeat DO NOT walk away. This is where patience comes in handy, not paying any attention to anything electronic or distractions will test you. Children won't bother you, because they want to lick the spoon...OM, your way into chocolate bliss, you'll thank me for it later.

Some of you might be asking...where's the heavy cream? The liqueur? It's not really needed...but, it won't hurt. That's for another recipe and article. Watch the chocolate melt slowing and with ne hand gently hold either a wooden spoon or my preference a latex spatula. When there is more molten chocolate than chips that's when you start to fold gently until the mixture turns into liquidy mocha gold. Remove from the double boiler and begin to spoon into prepared muffin sections. Let cool for  2 - 3 minutes than set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once done... chocolate chunk heaven.

WARNING: they are a bit challenging to bite into and...they are darn irresistible. Recommendation: Instead of butter... a plain non flavored oil or spray will work, too. Also, in my next experiment I might dust powered sugar or dark chocolate after the oil as been placed in the tin... then put a dollop of chocolate on the bottom as a base then, raisins and nuts, then more chocolate to top off.

Next experiment... pecans and caramel. Can someone say great holiday giveaways?

Remember, cooking with love makes any recipe taste.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Not so, nutty

If you're anything like me .... you LOVE chocolate! So I had a brilliant, so at least I thought so at the time, to make a little dessert for the night. Well, best laid plans and all... it didn't go so well.
Weekly, as my regular readers know, I go to the Farmers Market and purchase food for the week. One of my weekly buys are nuts. I typically buy raw almonds and roast them at home. When you're uber hungry a dry roasted nut can ease the hunger pains.
So while roasting a batch of almonds in the oven (375 degrees for 8 mins) I had the idea to toss the hot nuts with milk and dark chocolate straight from the oven. The conception was that the hot nuts would melt the chocolate and adhere to the nuts. Well, kinda. A few nuts are clinging to the warm chocolate, but mostly they are falling off in a gooey mess. Plus for the nuts to have that crunch and nutty taste... they need to cool to room temperature. Which was a step I skipped.
What's the solution? I think the solution is to treat each ingredient separately and bring them together. So, next batch I will roast the almonds in the oven as normal and melt the chocolate separately. Then in mini muffin tins put the cooled nuts on the bottom and pour the melted liquid chocolate gold over the nuts and layer as much as possible inside the tin
The hard part will be patience. Allowing the candy to cool to room temperature or not eating all the chocolate. Experiments happen. Mistakes and problems happen... that's normal in the kitchen. The good news is to try, try, try again.
Remember, cooking with love makes any recipe taste better. With chocolate ... they are full of love one morsel at a time.


Monday, November 10, 2014

What do Pasta and Poetry possibly have in common?

What do Pasta and Poetry have in common? Give up? Brilliant harmony. The harmony of flavor, taste and nutrition in each mouthful of handmade pasta by Linda Cerda.
If you are a pasta person. Like me, there is nothing like homemade pasta. Dried is good, but freshly made melts in your mouth and absorbs flavors like a sponge without getting soft or flat. Plus it’s so a fast delicious meal with almost any ingredient in the fridge or cupboard.
What caught my eye about Linda’s pasta is the use of seasonal herbs and or vegetables and blend them with fresh pasta to create one amazing dish. I purchased the porcini papparadelle. I love papparadelle especially with rabbit or a wild mushroom melody. I also purchased something a little thinner than spaghetti in a varietal bag. Tender strands of pasta that nearly melt in your mouth.
I’m told that Linda also makes a wild flower pasta during the springtime, which is featured on her Facebook page
I’m usually not at a lose for words…but in this case I am. I can only recommend if you go to wine country during the spring and summer months stop at the location and see Linda and her lovely stand featuring her pasta. Or,  go to her website and order strands, pounds and packages of pasta. You will not be disappointed. Tell her Lady E sent you ….
Cooking with love makes any recipe taste better….  Pasta Poetry harmony in every recipe.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Kokkaris... Need I say more?

For my regular and devoted readers you know I love San Francisco. I love visiting, shopping and working there... commute, not so much. But once I'm nestled in my office and greeting my fellow employees, without hesitation, I release a sign of " I'm home".

A magical place I also call home in San Francisco is a Greek Restaurant named Kokkaris. At first glance the highlight of the restaurant is the bar. Expert Mixologist spin their web of creative cocktails or providing an unrivaled wine lists in the City. The menu is filled with a variety of specials only known to the restaurant or it's name sake the village on Samos Island in Greece.  
Next, the menu. Now I've, unfortunately, have not been to the great isle of Greece, but one bite... just one bite and I'm transported to a place far and away from San Francisco.  Where else can I have on a hot summers day cold firm and sweet watermelon with light fruity olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh feta cheese and freshly cracked pepper. I ask you WHERE? And, that's just the appetizer. The second meal was followed by a freshly caught ocean fish that was grilled on both sides with a crust of fresh herbs.
Surrounded my multicultural people of all ages interested in two things. 1) Conversation and 2) Food and Wine. I was waiting for my dear, sweet friend who I've known for years and she was running late. I didn't mind because I was surrounded by friendly, sociable people. We kept each other company, shared food and conversation so much so the time flew by before she floated in the room.
"No worries', I said, things always happen for a reason and things always work out for the best.
Getting a seat a Kokkaris on a Friday night is ... difficult if you press it. If you relax, enjoy the atmosphere, people and are polite... all good thing come your way.

This particular evening. when my friend arrived the couple I was conversing with was decided to bid us adieu and they gave myself, the charming and handsome gentlemen I was talking to (BTW, I will never forget him...OH-SO Handsome) and one seat for my BFF. We were waited on like the King and Queens of the court. Sharing food, more conversation and laughter.

All things must come to an end, right? However, the memory of the evening will last forever. The young man, Caden, said good night and farewell and left the two women to chatter and sip our Turkish coffee and drool over the one last bite of dessert. Hours later, we requested the bill and to our surprise, Caden had paid for the entire meal for both myself and my friend.

I never heard from Caden again. C'est la vie .... I send him kisses in the wind.
Come to California. Visit San Francisco and be transported to Greece on a vessel known as Kokkaris. .

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fall is on the horizon ....

I took these photos couple of weeks ago when summer in California was coming to a close, but the weather was still warm from sunrise to sunset. It's interesting to me to see the fruits of our labor come to life in some of the most amazing ways. Gourds that look more like geese and pumpkins that are larger than a small child. It's a magical time of the year when the weather cools down and the chill brings family, friends and loved ones closer together. Here's to Fall and the cooking that can come from it.  I haven't been cooking lately...but, that will change soon. More to come from Lady E Cooks.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Aw, Summer...fare thee well.

Aw, sweet summer has come to an end. Or, has it. Today's temperatures in Oakland, California were in the low 70-80s.Clear blue skies and rain averted for another day. Last week at the Farmers Market with an abundance of ripe, sweet, red, delicious tomatoes. Ripe for the taking... or in this case the buying for an assortment of meals, dishes or canning.
My favorite use for large ripe tomatoes? Giada De Laurintis recipe I found years ago that includes puff pastry, pesto and salmon. The juicy sweetness of the tomatoes cuts the richness of the puff pastry and pesto and adding a freshness that only this genuinely versatile fruit can bring. Fruit? Tomatoes are a vegetable, right? I think ... not. According to most science articles the tomatoes is developed from the ovary of the base of a flower, similar to the blueberry. It's confused with a vegetable based on its use in savory dishes rather than sweet. And, plus my Mom said so!
What did I do with his fruit at home. I let them ripen on the counter... For God sake, please do not, I repeat DO NOT put tomatoes in the fridge... its ruins the integrity and they taste yucky! I used them in salads for work. Diced them up for bruschetta and finally in chicken soup on a cool Fall night. Run.... don't walk and stock up on these beauties before the summer is gone.
Cook with love... it makes everything taste better. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

On second thought ...

After I write an article for the blog I typically go through my digital camera and delete photos covered in the article or that are being saved in the “cloud”. Doesn’t the “cloud” sound like an ominous place that we can never retrieve or manage our work again??? Anyway, I digress …. So, while viewing the photos I came across the pixs from the exterior part of the tour known as the Grounds and the Gallery.

Once the initial part of the interior tour is complete the group took a walk outside to tour the grounds.  Outside any kind of barbeque, wood fire or tandoori cooking was done. Since it was well over 90+ degrees outside … all the oven, fire pits and tandoori ovens were off.  Thank God! Heat upon heat…not my kind of party. I fell in love with the food fire pit where they cook pizzas, calzones and flat breads.
Walking further we saw outside patio dining, which looked very lovely amongst the trees. The school was closed and it was after lunch, therefore no crowds to serve.  Walking a little further …yes, the grounds are very large you wind up back inside the school’s front entrance. Inside the Gallery is open to purchase anything under the sun that has to do with the culinary arts.

What caught my eye were the handmade chocolates with melt in your mouth ganache and an intense flavor of raspberry, mango, pistachio or my favorite chocolate-on-chocolate-on chocolate.  On the opposite side was a CafĂ© to order sandwiches, salads and daily special for a casual style meal rather than the formal meal presented by Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant.

I highly recommend the CIA however, Come for the tour, but stay for the food, ambiance and historical landscape.

Thanks for reading… all comments are welcome and appreciated.

Cooking with love makes any recipe taste better.

Lady E