Sea Salted Apple Cider Caramels

IMG_2352 IMG_2348 IMG_2350It seems that these caramels make it officially fall. They are so good, but good in a way where you can just have one and feel satisfied. They are sweet and savory and deeply apple-y. The color is darker amber because I used coconut palm sugar. The pairing of rich and caramel flavored coconut sugar with the apple and sea salt just brought a better flavor and complexity, and somehow made these treats taste a bit more grown up.

Sea Salted Apple Cider Caramels
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
4 cups apple cider
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sea salt flakes
8 tbsp/1 stick unsalted butter-I use Straus, chopped into pieces
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream (I used raw heavy cream)
Avocado oil

Line a small baking pan with parchment paper.
Pour the apple cider into a saucepan over high heat and boil for about 45 minutes, or until the apple cider is greatly reduced in volume to about 1/2 cup of thick, syrupy liquid. Stir occasionally as it heats.

Once the cider has reduced, remove from the heat and add the butter, sugars, and cream. Stir to combine, then place back on medium-high heat. If you have a candy thermometer, bring the temperature up to 252*, if not (and I didn’t have mine where I made these) you’ll do the cold water trick. So as you heat the caramel, the texture becomes more bubbly, every so often you drop a bit of caramel into a very cold glass of water. The caramel is done when the drops become firm and chewy. This step happens pretty fast, and the caramel is ready in about 5-8 minutes. Keep and eye on the caramel, but more importantly your nose, make sure you don’t smell any burning.

Remove the caramel from the heat, stir in the cinnamon and sea salt, then pour the mix onto parchment paper in the pan. Try for about 1 inch thick, but you can also choose what size/shape you want, so this is up to you.

Allow the caramels to cool for about 1-2 hours in the fridge. To cut them into shape, coat a sharp knife with avocado oil and recoat after each cut. Store the caramels in wax paper of on layers of parchment paper in a tupperware in the fridge or on the countertop.

Korean Stir Fry with Sirloin, Eggplant, Soba + Chile Sauce

IMG_2376 IMG_2372 IMG_2393 IMG_2389During these last sweetest days of summer/fall I’ve primarily cooked on the barbecue on my favorite skillet. Its a giant cast iron griddle that gets super hot and when I cook outside the house stays cleaner and free of cooking odors. I just don’t like noodle dishes when the noodles aren’t boiled then charred over fire, its such a better texture and flavor. Cooking over the grill for the charring is second only to over fire. This dish by the way is simple and pretty quick and fulfilling. It’s a bit sweet and spicy and each bite is a different kind of happy surprise.

Korean Stir Fry with Sirloin, Eggplant, Soba + Chile Sauce

Sauce:
3/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tbsp chile sauce (recipe below)
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 inches fresh ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp sesame oil

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Chile Sauce (adapted from Bon Appetit)
6 jalapeno peppers
3 peeled garlic cloves
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
sea salt

Cook the jalapeno peppers and garlic in a boiling salted saucepan for about 2 minutes. Blend chiles, garlic and red wine vinegar, season with salt and let cool. You will have extra to use on other meals and as a topping. By the way, this sauce is HOT.

Stir Fry
1 lb grass fed top sirloin, cut into very thin strips
2 medium Japanese eggplants, chopped
2 carrots, julienned
1 bell pepper, julienned
1 cup mushrooms, I used chanterelle, shitakes work great too, sliced
Bunch of cilantro
3 tbsp sesame seeds
Soba noodles-2 of the small bunches within the packages

First, make the chile sauce, then make the stir fry sauce, you can make this in advance. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the sirloin and marinate as the steak comes to room temperature.
Next, get the vegetables chopped. Its easier to have these all ready to go.
Cook the soba noodles in boiling water for four minutes, then rinse in cold water.
While the water boils turn the grill to high and place a large skillet on the grill-you can also do this on stove top in a wok.
Add the eggplant to the grill skillet, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook until softened and starting to get some color, about 10 minutes, then add the carrot, pepper and mushrooms. Pour 1/4 cup or so of the sauce on the veggies and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Next, add the noodles to the wok/skillet. Mix in with the vegetables, again adding more of the stir fry sauce. Cover and allow to cook until the noodles start to crisp.
After crisping and stirring the noodles a few times, clear a space on your pan and add the meat. Cook it over high heat so it sears and if you need to, cook it in batches. It should take very little time, maybe a minute or two on each side to cook, when its done, stir everything together.
To finish, spread a nice big handful of cilantro leaves on top, sprinkle the sesame seeds on and a drizzle of sesame oil. Serve with the hot chile sauce, and extra cilantro.

Cilantro Lime Coconut Curry with Chanterelles, Fresh Ginger + Avocado

IMG_2289 IMG_2270-001 S IMG_2274This soup made my house smell like fresh ginger and cilantro and lime in such a gentle and refreshing and rather uplifting way. And this was good, because the onion I used, bought from the farmer’s market a few days ago, it made me basically weep. I’ve had the occasional onion make my eyes watery, but this one forced tears to stream down my face. I had to walk away and compose myself. My suggestion is to use a gentler onion, like a white one, or a shallot, but I guess I was starting to think I’m immune to oniony induced emotion and this one put me in my place. This recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd, and you could add chicken or pork belly if you have it on hand. The avocado is essential as it balances out a pretty citrusy soup and adds depth, but the rice is optional as well. It is also quite good topped with those rice sticks you find at health food stores and a good grind of fresh black pepper. Oh and I did also just happen to have chanterelles on hand, which is something that has never really happened to me before, as lovely as they are I would happily use shitake or maitake mushrooms in their place.

Cilantro Lime Coconut Curry with Chanterelles, Fresh Ginger + Avocado
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 inches peeled fresh ginger, chopped
4 baby sweet peppers, or 1 big red pepper,  seeds removed + sliced
1 zucchini, halved and diced
1 handful chanterelles, sliced
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped
2 long pieces lemongrass, chopped
1 tablespoon yellow curry paste
1 lime, juiced
1 can full fat coconut milk + 1 can amount of water
1/4 cup brown or wild rice
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped + extra for garnish
Butter + olive oil
Salt + pepper
Avocado

Add a tbsp of butter to a deep saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and cook about 15 minutes, or until translucent.
Next add the ginger, peppers, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, jalapeno and lemongrass. Stir and drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, then add the curry paste, stirring again.
Add the lime juice and pour in the full can of coconut milk plus a can sized amount of water. Turn heat to medium, add the rice to the soup, cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.
Stir in the cilantro, and taste for seasoning, adding olive oil, salt and pepper if needed. Test to make sure the rice is fully cooked, and serve with sliced avocado, cilantro, a grind of pepper and drizzle of olive oil.

 

 

 

Blackberry Sheep Milk’s Frozen Yogurt

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This is my favorite part of the summer and the time I’ll think about in the middle of winter when I’m craving fresh figs, perfectly ripe strawberries and blackberries, edible flowers and squash blossoms from the garden. The nights get cooler and there’s hints of the next season, but all of my favorite foods are in full flush, exuberant in their short, perfect moment that is now. Go to your farmers market, this is the season where you buy full boxes of this and that and learn how to make jams, preserves, pickles, sauces, salsas, whatever. Buy out the farmer and have too much summer goodness and then make stuff to bring back the sweetness of this easy summer moment when you’re huddling by the fire in a few months.

Blackberry Sheep Milk’s Frozen Yogurt 

3 cups blackberries+extra for garnish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
12 oz/370 g plain sheep milks yogurt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
4 tablespoons/large spoonfuls honey
Fresh yerba buena + pea flower blossoms for garnish

In a small bowl, use a potato masher to smush the sugar and berries together until there are no large chunks left. Add the lemon juice, and 2 spoonfuls of honey and the sheep’s milk yogurt + cream. Stir well.
Freeze in your ice cream maker, and when the ice cream is very nearly done, add another two spoonfuls of honey, drizzle it in as the ice cream churns-this way you’ll get little honey laced bites.
Garnish with yerba buena, pea flower blossoms + blackberries.
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Vietnamese Hoi An Pancakes with Wild Shrimp, Squash Blossoms, Maitake + Nuoc Cham

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These Vietnamese pancakes are perfect for the grill. You gather the ingredients you need, bring them outside, and with such a hot grill the pancakes get crispy, and the inside ingredients stay hot. You could sub out the shrimp and just use vegetables, or add something like pastured pork belly. These were filling, but light, easy and satisfying. The nuoc cham sauce is pretty much essential as it offsets and balances the savory pancakes.

Hoi An Pancakes with Wild Shrimp, Maitake, Squash Blossoms, Green Onion + Nuoc Cham
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
Pancakes
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 egg

Filling
1 lb wild shrimp, peeled
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 big handful maitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
10-15 squash blossoms
2 cups or so mung bean sprouts
2 cups snap peas, chopped
salt & pepper

Nuoc Cham (vietnamese dipping sauce)
1 thai pepper, or red jalapeno, finely diced
2 garlic cloved, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
Juice from 3 limes
1/4 cup fish sauce (Red Boat)
2 tsp coconut palm sugar

Fresh Herbs: Mint, basil, cilantro

Method: Mix the ingredients for the pancakes, except for the egg, and let it sit for 1 hour so the rice rehydrates. During this time combine all of the ingredients for the nuoc cham and set aside.
After an hour, whisk an egg into the pancake batter and turn on the grill.
In a medium size cast iron, season the shrimp with salt, pepper & oil. In another cast iron, add the mushrooms and peas, again seasoning with salt, pepper & oil.
Cook the shrimp & veggies covered on the grill over high heat for 5-8 minutes. Add the squash blossoms to the veggie mix and cook until wilted. Transfer the shrimp to the veggie cast iron and add a bit more oil to the already hot skillet. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the batter into the skillet, and, using an oven mit, move the skillet in a circle so the batter spreads out and covers the pan. Close the lid of the grill and cook the batter in the pan until crisp-about 5 minutes or so.
Add a few shrimp, a big spoonful of the veggies and handful of green onion & mung beans on one side of the pancake. Cover again, cook until hot and extra crisp, then use a spatula to fold over one half of the pancake.
Serve with the nuoc cham & fresh herbs.

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Yellow Watermelon, Blackberry, Thyme + Lemon Verbena Margarita

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Yellow Watermelon, Blackberry, Thyme + Lemon Verbena Margarita
makes 4 cocktails
1 small yellow watermelon, rind chopped off
Juice from 2 small limes
Tequila
Vanilla infused sea salt (for rims)
Lemon Verbena simple syrup (recipe below)
Blackberries
Fresh thyme
Ice

Blend the watermelon with 3 cups of ice (or more), the lime juice and 1/4 cup lemon verbena syrup. Blend until smooth, you can also juice the watermelon.
Coat the glasses with a bit of the lemon verbena syrup, then coat with salt. Crush a few blackberries in the glasses, add a sprinkle of thyme, pour a half shot into the glass, then pour the watermelon mix on top. Garnish with addition fresh thyme and nasturtium flower petals.

Lemon Verbena Simple Syrup
4-5 small springs lemon verbena
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup water

In a small saucepan heat the water + sugar. Chop the lemon verbena and bruise a bit with your hands, then add it to the saucepan. Whisk on low heat for a few minutes, until quite fragrant. Remove from heat, and pour into a glass jar. Cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes.