Spiced Caramel Chai

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Earlier this year, I found myself at the Raleigh airport on a Monday afternoon, standing in line about to board a plane to Nashville.  The day before, I had been on the receiving end of a phone call I never expected to get, and had been wrapped in heartache ever since. I held a Starbucks cup in my hand, breathing in the warm scent wafting out of the little hole in the plastic top. As I wiped an quiet tear from under my puffy eye, I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, looking self-consciously at the people in line around me. One woman was wearing a pantsuit and furiously typing away on her blackberry, and a dad stood with his two girls who were discussing which member of One Direction was their favorite. I wondered briefly how it was possible that everyone could be going about their lives as usual when mine was so suddenly different. Just as the gate attendant called for my section to begin boarding and the line suddenly lurched forward, I considered running back through the terminal, through the airport exit and out into the humid July afternoon. I took a deep breath and stepped forward, clutching my cup in one hand and boarding pass in the other.

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I’m not even really sure why I bought the cup of coffee at the airport that day–I never drank any of it, I just held it until the flight attendant brought a garbage bag by my seat at the end of the flight. The familiar combination of hot coffee and cool milk was something I knew, a normal part of any day. On a day that was so abnormal, I think I was comforted by the familiar swirl of milk, the rush of steam while I stirred.

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I always cling to the small, familiar things when the big things are too much to handle. This Spiced Caramel Chai is definitely a departure from the normal coffee and milk, but it’s comforting all the same. The scent of toasted cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves reminds you just a little of Christmas, and when you put it together with some milk and caramelized sugar, it’s the perfect afternoon treat. When you need a moment to yourself–maybe just to regroup and assure yourself that you can tackle the big, scary stuff–a cup of this chai with strong coffee is just the ticket.

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Here’s the recipe:
(from Not Without Salt)

8 cardamom pods, gently crushed
1 cinnamon stick
8 whole black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 inch piece of ginger, sliced thin
2 T loose black tea (or the contents of two teabags, cut open)*
4 cups 2% milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar

* Black tea is English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Lady Gray, or Irish Breakfast. I used Lady Grey and really like its soft flavor.

In a small skillet, toast the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and cloves over medium heat for a few minutes, or until warm and fragrant.

Then, in a large, heavy-bottomed pan or pot, pour the sugar onto the bottom in an even layer. Turn the heat on medium-high and wait patiently, watching closely. The sugar will first melt, then begin to turn brown. When it is a deep amber color, and is starting to smoke, remove the pan from the heat.

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Slowly pour the milk into the pan. The caramel will definitely seize up and harden. That’s okay–it’ll melt again in a second. Stir in all of the spices, including the scraped vanilla bean pod, ginger, and loose tea.

Bring the mixture back to a simmer, stirring to be sure that the caramel has melted. When there are no sticky caramel pieces on the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat, cover, and let steep for 20-30 minutes.

Strain the mixture and store it in a jar in the refrigerator for as long as the milk is good. (I used organic, it lasts longer!)

Enjoy warmed and by itself, or with strong coffee in place of milk or cream.

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Quick Pickled Veggie Slaw

DSC_1575I have to confess: I’ve been doing that thing where I’m paralyzed by the blank screen with the blinking cursor. I’ve been trying to find my voice here for a long time, and I really just want it to be true to me. Some days that means I’m going to tell stupid jokes and talk about the weather. On other days, I might tell a story that might be sort of personal, and I’m just as likely to just talk about what it means to cream butter and sugar. I look at other food blogs, and there are some that have these stunning photographs and the author always has something profound and lyrical to say. There are others that just talk food–logistics of how to make a recipe work, step-by-step photos. And there are others still that lean heavily on stories of their cute babies.

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I think I belong somewhere in the middle of all that. Sometimes I have a good cooking tip. Other times, I have a relevant embarrassing story about spilling things in the grocery store, or setting a small fire in the oven. I hope that those things aren’t in competition with each other.

I do know a thing or two about cranking out ambitious cooking projects. If you’re looking for a new cookie to try, or a nice hostess gift for the holidays, you can find something like that here. There are also some pretty solid reset recipes available to get you back on track when you’ve had only cookies for breakfast for a couple of weeks. (There will probably also be a collection of pictures of Jason’s face, just for fun.) I’m glad that y’all are here, reading along, and I hope you like it!

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Today, this is not an ambitious project. It’s super easy, but really impressive. It’s the sort of thing that people see in your fridge and say, “What is this?!” When it’s unexpectedly on a sandwich, they’ll say, “These peppers are so good, what’s on them?”

We’re just talking about thinly sliced peppers, leeks, and carrots. You could also use cucumbers, red onions, sugar snap peas, fennel–any crisp vegetable that might be good with a light pickle-y flavor. The brine is a basic vinegar, salt, sugar, mustard seed situation. This is an ideal way to grab any late-summer, early fall veggies you might have and keep them for a little longer.

For the brine:
(adapted from Food in Jars)

1 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
(you can use all yellow if you can’t find black)
1 cup cold water

Before you make the brine, julianne all of your vegetables and pack them into a jar (about a pint and a half). Put everything into a pot, bring it to a boil  and stir until all the salt and sugar are dissolved. Set aside and let cool. When room temperature, pour it over the vegetables. Close up the jar and keep it in the fridge for 24 hours before eating. The slaw will last 3-4 weeks total.

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Grilled Peaches with Bourbon Hard Sauce

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Grilling fruit might be the best idea ever. Even competing with winners like sliced bread, electricity, and indoor plumbing, I think grilled fruit is a frontrunner. It’s almost like super low-maintenance pie–no crust, no oven, no fuss. Just split a peach, take out the pit, and toss it on the grill face down. In a couple of minutes, you have a warm, juicy dessert with a hint of smokiness. That’s really all there is to it!

To make a grilled peach really extra special, I made some hard sauce to go with. I ran across hard sauce in England (that and clotted cream, OMG) and have never really known what was in it. Turns out, it’s really just butter and sugar, so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised it’s so good. For the peaches, I added a splash of bourbon to go with the smoky grilled flavor of the peaches.
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DSC_1189To grill the peaches, wait until you’ve cooked everything else, and the grill is cooling down. (My grill was sort of too hot when I made these, but I couldn’t wait!) Brush a teeny bit of olive oil on the cut size of the peach, and put the same side face-down on the grate. It should only take a couple of minutes, so watch carefully.

Bourbon Hard Sauce:
(from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook)

1/4 stick salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
splash of bourbon (or vanilla extract)

Using a fork, mix everything together.

Drop a little dollop of hard sauce on each peach. Enjoy!

(Photo credits to Ryan Mayette)

Classic Yeasted Cinnamon Rolls

DSC_1371I’ve never made real cinnamon rolls with yeast before these, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. Admittedly, this represents a life of luxury that is 100% untenable, but I decided while eating one of these cinnamon rolls that I would never eat anything else. Terrible, terrible idea, but I was ready to give up everything for those swirls of cinnamon sugar. Instead, I thought it wise to eat one and then foist them on my coworkers–spread the wealth or something like that.

DSC_1282Yeasted cinnamon rolls are one of those things that just require a lot of time and attention. The dough is sticky and finnicky, and it has to rise twice–not to mention the rolling out, rolling up, and cutting of the rolls themselves. It’s the sort of thing that you should do the night before, or aim for brunch. You need coffee before tackling this project.

DSC_1296Because cinnamon rolls are such a time-consuming endeavor, you’ll have lots of time to read a book, catch a nap, or troll celebrity gossip websites while you wait for the dough to rise. Not that I know anything about trolling celebrity gossip, that’s just an example. This is also the kind of breakfast that will impress the pants off of people, so plan to take these puppies out!

DSC_1297Be warned: health food they are not. Butter and brown sugar are doing the real work, and the cinnamon offers its classic spiciness to the mix.

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DSC_1313By the time you’ve done all the proper waiting, and you’re just putting the pan of rolls into the oven, you’ll find ourself really, really hoping that they turn out okay. I mean, you’ve spent a lot of time making sure that you did all the right steps, you’ve already had to clean the table twice, your stomach is grumbling, and you’re maybe going to be late to brunch. But by the time you sit back down to your celeb gossip (ahem BOOK ahem), you’ll catch a whiff of the bubbly sugar, and you’ll know that you made the right choice.

DSC_1374Yeasted Cinnamon Rolls:
(adapted from Joy the Baker and Smitten Kitchen)

Dough
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one envelope)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Filling
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt

Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To begin, melt the butter for the dough in the microwave (or in a pot if you want to get all fancy). Then, combine the melted butter with the milk, and microwave both for 30-45 seconds, or until the mixture is warm. It should be between 105 and 115 degrees F, so it should feel warmer than your finger, but not hot. Combine the milk with the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Then, add one cup of the flour, the salt, sugar, and egg. Mix vigorously for a minute or until completely combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment.

Slowly add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing on low speed. When the dough is pulling away from the walls of the bowl and is not very sticky to the touch, take it out of the mixer, make it into a neat ball, and plop it into another bowl, coated with cooking spray. Turn the ball over once to cover it in oil, then cover the bowl gently with a tea towel and place it in a warm spot.

Let the dough rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, prep the filling. Make sure your butter is coming to room temperature, and mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

When it’s done rising, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a roughly rectangular shape. It should be about a quarter-inch thick. Using a butter knife of spatula, gently spread the room-temperature butter on the dough, leaving about a half-inch around the edges. Then, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the butter.

Using your fingers, start rolling from the long side of the dough rectangle, and be sure to gently pinch the roll together to keep it tightly rolled. When you’re done, place the seam side down on the table. Measure one inch increment on the log, and then use a sharp serrated knife to cut the rolls.

Place the rolls into a greased 8×8 baking dish. You should be able to fit nine, but it will be snug. For me, this recipe seems to make about a pan and a half (12-14 rolls). When they’re all in, cover the pans with a tea towel for their second rise. This time, they will almost double again, but it will take only 45-55 minutes. Make sure you give them time, the second rise is what makes them fluffy.

When they’re done rising again, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake the rolls for 20 minutes, or until browned on top.

While the rolls are cooling, put the glaze together. Mix the room temperature butter and cream cheese with the powdered sugar and vanilla. That’s it!

Let the pans cool for at least 20 minutes, then glaze and serve (with coffee and a nap)!

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Rosemary Watermelon Lemonade

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Remember how I said I was really holding on to the last few days of summer? I meant it. This lemonade is like summer in a glass–it’s sweet, refreshing, and so pink! Watermelon has long been my second favorite fruit (behind strawberries), but I feel like one shouldn’t waste time with a sub-par watermelon. It’s hard to tell (I’m the person tapping EVERY watermelon in the store), but when you get a good one, it’s something to remember. I love to eat watermelon with a little bit of salt on it–not because it’s some hip foodie thing to do but because that’s how I always experienced watermelon: sitting in the sand or on the edge of a boat, in my bathing suit, dripping  with saltwater, watermelon juice running down my chin. By the time I stopped for a snack, I would have been thoroughly pickled with pruny fingers, so some salt inevitably made its way onto the melon. As it should be.DSC_1142

This recipe is actually a way to use a less-than ideal watermelon. This one was juicy but just wasn’t all that flavorful. But once it was blended up and mixed with some simple syrup and lemon juice, you’d never know. I also added some rosemary to the simple syrup, but mostly because that’s a hip foodie thing to do, I’ll be honest. It does add sort of an earthy flavor so that the sweetness isn’t overpowering.

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Homemade lemonade is one of those things that you just have to do at least once every summer. It’s definitely more work than it should be, but it’s so worth it. It really happens in three parts: simple syrup, watermelon puree, and lemon juice. Have you ever made simple syrup? It’s crazy to me that you can buy it at the store! It’s really just equal parts water and sugar, heated until the sugar dissolves. You can add really anything (in this case, rosemary) but that’s all there is to it. (Except that I always want to spell it symple syrup. Or simply syrup.)

DSC_1152Here’s the recipe:
(loosely adapted from smittenkitchen.com)

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 4-5 regular lemons)
4 cups watermelon puree (strained)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary plus more for garnish

In a saucepan, heat the sugar, water, and rosemary until almost boiling, stirring constantly. When the sugar is dissolved, remove the syrup from the heat and let it cool.

Juice all the lemons until you have 1 cup juice. I usually strain it to get rid of the pulp and seeds.

Cut the watermelon into chunks. Depending on the size of the melon, you’ll need about half of it. I just went ahead and cut it all into chunks and saved the rest. Puree the chunks in the bowl of a food processor (or blender) until smooth. Strain and measure–you should have about 4 cups.

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I like to serve each element of the lemonade separately and let people mix their own. You want the least amount of simple syrup, then lemon juice, and then the most watermelon juice. I usually add some plain water or sparkling, too. You, of course, can add it all together in a pitcher, but you won’t need all of the simple syrup–maybe about half. Save the rest for other things–cocktails, added to plain seltzer–you’ll thank me.

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Charred Hatch Chile and Corn Breakfast Casserole

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I have to confess: I’ve been on blog vacation big time this summer. I’ve made delicious things on the grill and not shared them with you. I’ve been on vacations and taken only iPhone photos, and I’ve let many fancy summery meals and cocktails go by without bothering to document them. To be honest, it has been the best. But, I’m ready to be back. I have a list of things that I want to make that just can’t wait anymore. It’s back to to school time, and for me, back to blog time. That said, there is still a little summer left, and I intend to make the most of it.

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This breakfast casserole is everything you need in a back to school breakfast casserole. It’s cheesy, bacon-y, and in season with its charred corn and chiles. The charred flavor is almost reminiscent of the fair–the crisp air, buttery corn, and food cooked over open flames. It’s like a nice introduction to the season without jumping right in to pumpkin pies and fuzzy socks. It’s also easy enough to make the day before. I’d store the egg mixture in a big tupperware rather than the pan you’ll bake it in–unless you’re really good at not sloshing.

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If you’ve never had fresh hatch chiles, they’re on sale right now at the grocery stores. They apparently only have a really short season, and they only grow in one place–the Hatch Valley in New Mexico. They’re a big, green, relatively mild pepper that is generally a little curvy. They’re sort of a cross between a green bell pepper and a jalapeño in spice level, but they have a really fantastic flavor. Often the roasted green chiles that you can find canned at the grocery store are hatch chiles, and they do make a fine replacement in this casserole.

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Here’s the recipe
yields 6 generous servings in an 8×8 casserole dish

1 ear of corn, charred and cut off the cob
2 hatch chiles, peeled and diced
2 large eggs
4 strips bacon, cooked and diced
3 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (3/4 cup)
3 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (3/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
dash of cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

First things first: char the corn and chiles. If you have a gas burner, high five! This is really easy for you. Just put the corn and peppers (one at a time) directly on the pot rest and turn on a medium flame. For the corn, just let it blacken here and there, rotating it with tongs, until it’s evenly charred. For the peppers, let them blister and brown all over, constantly turning them. When you take them off the heat, but them directly into a brown paper bag and close the top. Let them cool for 10 minutes or so. When they’re done cooling, you should be able to peel off the skins really easily, revealing soft flesh, which you then cut open, remove the seeds, and dice. If you don’t have a gas stove, don’t despair! You can always do this on the grill, but I wouldn’t build a charcoal fire for just this. If you have a gas grill, this is your best bet. If not, use the broiler in your oven. Same idea, just put everything on a cookie sheet and turn it often, watching carefully. It’ll take a little longer, but will be just as good.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When you’ve finished cooking the bacon, charring the corn and chiles, you’re ready to assemble. Mix together all of the ingredients, including eggs, flour, milk, cheese, chiles, bacon, corn, salt, cumin, and pepper. Pour the mixture into a greased 8×8 baking dish and put it on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the casserole is set. Let stand for 15 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

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Honeydew Gin & Tonic Popsicles

DSC_0925I have a confession to make: I love honeydew melons. I know, I know, it’s boring and you don’t like it, right? Hear me out. I think that most of us are used to honeydew melon in chunks on a fruit plate, stuck between cantaloupe and pineapple, sort of hard and flavorless. Right? It’s better than that. When it’s ripe, honeydew is a perfect summer fruit. It’s light, only slightly sweet, and juicy. If watermelon is plain granulated sugar, then honeydew is well… honey.

The other day, I saw a recipe on one of my fave blogs (A Cozy Kitchen) and knew that I had to make that cocktail into a popsicle. I did some research (your booze/other liquids ratios must be exact or the pops won’t freeze), and decided to go for it. The result is EXACTLY right.

DSC_0928To add a little something extra, I added a few cilantro leaves to each popsicle. The cilantro gives the whole popsicle a little extra zip–but if you’re one of those “cilantro tastes like soap” people, then basil or mint would be perfect, too.

I’m trying real hard to get lots of popsicles and fruity pies in before the summer is over–we’re still getting peaches and figs here, and I’m not ready to let the season go. Soon it’ll be time to pack up the popsicle mold, the days will get shorter and the leaves will change. Until then, I’m going to make all the boozy popsicles I can think of.

DSC_0936Honeydew Gin & Tonic Popsicles
makes 10 popsicles

1/2 ripe honeydew melon, cut into chunks (~4 cups)
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c water
1 3/4 cup flat tonic water
3/4 to 1 cup gin
cilantro leaves (or basil or mint)

Cup up the honeydew and put it into the pitcher of a blender with the sugar and water. Blend until smooth. Pour in the gin and tonic and mix well. Then, pour the mixture into a popsicle mold (or dixie cups!) and put a few cilantro leaves on top. Then, insert the sticks and freeze for 6 hours or overnight. Popsicles with booze will take longer to freeze.

Eat responsibly!

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Rosé Roundup {Summer 2013}

DSC_0793This summer, I’ve discovered rosés. I used to think that rosés were just the kind of wine that the ladies on Real Housewives drink to fuel their catfights. I thought that they were all sweet, and not very interesting. In reality, rosés get a bad rap due to sweet California Zinfandels and you know, Boone’s Farm Strawberry wine. I’m going to let you in on a secret. Rosés are actually awesome. The dry ones are made from grapes that you’d recognize from red wines, like pinot noir, grenache, cabernet sauvignon, and malbec. (Just so you know, the ladies on Real Housewives are fueled primarily by Pinot Grigio, or “pinot grish,” as they say.)

DSC_0777These 5 rosés have been my favorite this summer. I would like to say, upfront, before we really get into this, that I know NOTHING about wine. Really. I’m just consolidating things that I’ve read online and mixing it with my own experience a little. But mostly, I don’t know anything. I got these rosés from Total Wine, Southern Season (thanks, Mommy!), Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods. From left to right, they are Rosé D’Anjou from the Loire Valley of France, Crios Rosé of Malbec from Argentina, Domaine Houchart from Coté de Provence, Conte Priola Rabosa Rosé, and J.L. Quinson from Coté de Provence.

Rosé D’Anjou
Location: Loire Valley of France
Year: 2012
Tasting Notes: This rosé is a little sweeter than most, but in a good way. It’s definitely not sticky sweet, just a cool, crisp sweetness that opens up into fruit flavors (peach, strawberry, sweet cherry). It’s round and generously fruity, but definitely dry and doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste. It would be good with a dish like pad thai, or a cool noodle salad with cilantro. I wouldn’t stand up to much spice, but it would be good with strong earthy flavors.

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Crios Rosé of Malbec
Location: Argentina
Year: 2012
Tasting Notes: This one is about as heavy and rounded as you’d expect from a rosé. It’s deep in color, and would absolutely hold up to spicy foods. It’s better chilled a little less than other lighter rosés. It’s characteristically fruity–but dark fruits like blackberries and plums, raspberries, too. It kind of reminds me of very ripe strawberries, but without the sweetness. Just deep red berries with lots of earthy flavor. It would be good with snacks and appetizers and is nice to drink alone.

Domaine Houchart 
Location: Coté de Provence, France
Year: 2012
Tasting Notes: This rosé seems like it’s pretty typical of the coté de provence. It’s definitely a fruit-forward wine, but mildly so. There is almost a little citrus note to it, but fleetingly, followed by ripe strawberries and a tart finish. It’s almost a little herbal–isn’t that what you think of when you think of Provence? I don’t really know what herb, maybe rosemary or thyme. It could even be lavender, just slightly. I think that this wine would be good cold and by itself.

Conte Priola Rabosa Rosé
Location: Veneto, Italy
Year: 2012
Tasting Notes: This rosé is bright, zippy, crisp, and a little bubbly. This one is the wine that I think would be great with hamburgers and hotdogs on a sunny evening on the porch. It’s strong enough for heavy foods like burgers, but still subtle enough to enjoy alone. It’s very good when it’s very cold. It’ll leave your mouth feeling puckered and dry more than any other rosé I’ve tried.

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J.L. Quinson
Location: Coté de Provence
Year: 2012
Tasting Notes: This rosé is the lightest in color and flavor that I’ve tried. It’s very simple, but interesting nonetheless. It’s gently sweet at first, with strawberry and sweet cherry notes. Later, it’s a little buttery and creamy. True to the region (apparently), it’s easily drinkable and a little acidic. I think it would be really great with grilled chicken and asparagus.

DSC_0799In my research, I’ve learned that rosé are best when they’re younger, so this year, 2012 is the year to look for. If you’re looking for a dry rosé, look for a French, Spanish, or Italian wine. You can find good dry ones from South America or California, but they’re more likely to be sweeter than their European counterparts.

Did I fool you? Does it seem like I know ANYTHING about wine? Well, Google is a big help. Enjoy some pink wine this summer–it might be better than you think!

 

 

 

Raspberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta

DSC_0704Let’s be straight up about panna cotta. When I serve it to people, and they ask me what it is, I don’t know what to say other than “milk jello,” which sounds disgusting. Then I have to assure them that it’s actually really good, and not like what you’d expect from milk jello at all. In reality, panna cotta is a mild, only slightly sweet, summery dessert. I’ve made panna cotta before, but this is the first time that I’ve been really satisfied with the texture and taste. Not too jelled, sweet without overpowering the subtle tang from the buttermilk. This time around, it was perfect.

DSC_0699This is the kind of dessert that doesn’t require the oven being turned on, and can be made as many as three days in advance. It would be the perfect dessert for a barbeque. I’m slowly developing the menu for the ideal summer backyard party–and it includes these homemade hot dog buns, these burgers, this panna cotta, and a bunch of big, dry rosés. You’re invited. Don’t worry.

DSC_0692I think that you could do any summery fruit in this panna cotta. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches. They’d all be good. Raspberries work particularly well–I think because they’re tender and delicate like the panna cotta itself. But if you have a bunch of fresh peaches, that’s your game. Go with it.

DSC_0715Here’s the recipe:

Raspberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta
(yields 6 ramekins, 6oz each)

1 pint raspberries, washed
1 1/2 buttermilk, shaken well
2 1/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1/4 c sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 1/2 c half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 t black pepper
pinch koster salt

Find six glasses that can each hold 6 ounces of liquid. In the cups, evenly divide the raspberries. Then, chill the glasses. (I like to put mine on a cookie sheet for easy transportation.)

Put 1/2 cup of the buttermilk into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Then, over medium low heat, stir in the sugar and stir until both the gelatin and sugar are dissolved. When everything is dissolved, remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the remaining buttermilk, the half and half, the vanilla, salt, and black pepper.

Pour the mixture into the chilled glasses, over the raspberries. Make sure it’s mostly even. Cover each glass (I like to use jars so that they have lids) and chill them for a minimum of 2 hours and up to three days. Serve cold, with a spoon!

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Cherry Galette with Rye Crust

DSC_0590Making pie is one of those things that never changes. It’s always the same; cold fats meet soft flour, giving way to a dough that just holds together. Fresh fruit warms in the oven, softening slightly. You can count on pie. It’s predictable. Pie is one of those things that I turn to when things don’t seem to make sense. I’ve been away from my blog for a few weeks, and in that time, I needed pie. I needed to use my hands to bring the dough together, to create something predictable.

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Cherries and rye crust are maybe made for each other. The cherries are earthy and sweet, and the rye crust is soft and flaky, nutty with a little tang. Together they are perfect. I think a galette with ragged edges is the way to go here. A pie is too formal–a galette is casual. It doesn’t need a pan, just a cookie sheet. Also, it doesn’t need a cherry pitter, despite what you might have heard.

DSC_0546I totally thought I came up with this idea, but lots of people in the internet world have done it before. I used a beer bottle, placed each cherry on the top of the bottle, stem facing up, then pressed a plastic straw straight down, through the cherry. It catches the pit, and leaves the rest of the cherry whole. You’re left with a beer bottle full of cherry pits (which you can’t recycle, sadly).

DSC_0565Aside from my original (not original) cherry pitting idea, I think I have finally perfected my pie crust recipe. It’s a butter/crisco crust, but there is more butter than crisco, but it’s easier to handle than an all-butter crust. It holds a crimped edge, makes a lattice that’s easy to handle, and still bakes up into a soft, buttery, flaky crust. Add an egg wash and sprinkle it with raw sugar, and you’re in business.

DSC_0576Cherry Galette with Rye Crust recipe

For the crust: (makes a double crust, halve it for this recipe)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1 cup butter, cold and cubed
1/4 cup crisco, cold
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
5-7 tablespoons ice water

Whisk together the flours and salt. Then, using your fingers, break up the butter and crisco into the flour. Work it gently until the largest pieces are no bigger than a pea, and the smaller ones are the size of oat flakes. Pour in 5 tablespoons of the ice water, and use a fork to combine the water into the dough. If needed, add the extra 2 tablespoons. The dough should just hold together if squeezed into a ball.

Divide the dough into two equal rounds, wrap each one in saran wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the filling:
4 cups cherries, pitted but still whole
4 tablespoons cornsarch
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Toss everything with the fruit and let the fruit sit for an hour or so to release some of their juices.

1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon warm water
2 tablespoons sugar in the raw

Whisk the yolk and water together to make the egg wash, brush it on and then sprinkle the crust with the sugar

To assemble the galette:
Roll out the chilled dough until it’s about ten inches and mostly round. Place it on a cookie sheet, the edges overlapping. Pour the fruit mixture into the middle of the dough round, then fold the edges up, holding the fruit inside. Brush the crust with the egg wash and then sprinkle the sugar on top.

Bake the galette at 375 degrees F for 40-50 minutes, or until the fruit is jammy and bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Let the galette cool completely, then slice and serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

DSC_0600I hope that making this pie brings you the kind of peace that only pie can offer.