An inspiration for this recipe came from two unexpected directions. My friend, pastry chef Diana, mentioned her based on sweet Spanish coca seasonal hit with candied pumpkin and pine nuts. The day I processed half of my Cinderella pumpkin for this dessert, we were invited for dinner — our neighbors threw a party for their visiting Puerto-Rican relatives. To my surprise, among other delicacies, I found chunks of candied pumpkin served as an appetizer to pair with queso fresco. My neighbor explained it was seasonal and traditional calabaza en tacha. I ran home to bring my version to share, and we were enjoying them side by side. While Latin American candied pumpkin is darker, sweeter, spicier, and made of whole or big chanks, Diana’s is grated, doesn’t use any spices, elegantly citrusy, and light. If you stop on earlier stages, pumpkin flavor will be recognizable. If you continue until most of the moisture is evaporated, your guests won’t be able to say what this treat is made of. I’ve heard people comparing it to other fruit from apricot to quince.
Sandeep Gyawali (MicheBread.com) and James Brown (bartonspringsmill.com) are two people responsible for bringing sourdough bread back to my kitchen. After their workshop and tasting a variety of bread loaves made with the heirloom grains available locally, I started baking sourdough bread on a regular basis again. With Sandeep’s permission, I am publishing an extract from the workshop — a universal formula for a delicious and healthy bread a novice can easily make at home.
Duck is one of my favorite ingredients, and Kamo Nanban Soba became one of the most repeated summer soups in my kitchen. This dish can be made with duck tsukune (meatballs) and/or seared and thinly sliced duck breast. Duck meatballs should be pre-cooked, and they are the best when grilled. I prefer duck breast in this dish. One breast is enough for two portions. It takes time to render fat from its skin, so it makes sense to start doing it while making buckwheat noodles. The rest is simple — baste the breasts with hot rendered duck fat until 80% cooked, let rest and cool, keep refrigerated until ready to serve the soup. Thinly sliced and arranged on top of the soba in a bowl, the duck is cooked to complete doneness with steaming hot stock poured right over it.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Edward Lear — 1871 Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets
“The Owl and the Pussy-Cat”
I’ve seen it at the Central Market almost always available but never considered buying because of the price. Then a month ago, I came to shop for something else to the H Mart, and its fragrance attracted me from the moment I entered the fresh produce department. I followed the perfumed scent and after a few turns found a pile of quince with smooth golden skin. It was impossible to miss and irresistible.
Quince is known as one the most difficult fruit to approach. It is tough to prep and long to cook. I’ve been thinking is there a way to cook it elegantly and effortlessly?
“My mom just made her signature Gata. It smells like summer, sun, and a mountain breeze.
— This recipe is traditional, — she anticipates my question.
— Why is your Gata ten times better than mine?!
— It’s the quality of ingredients. The sour cream and matsun are the freshest and made of real milk. The butter is a Flower butter I melted myself.
Flower butter! It is made in June-July when high in the mountains wild strawberries are ripe, and flowers are in bloom. Cows then are milked with cream, and the butter churned of this cream makes any other butter seem like a mockery. If happiness has a taste, it should be the taste of Flower butter.” — read more: (in Russian) Narine Abgaryan Facebook post
After this story, I’ve been dreaming of the Flower butter, trying to imagine how it smells and tastes. Since Gata is made of 4 ingredients — flour, fermented milk, butter, and sugar — the quality of each component is what makes this pastry special. I can use the best there is in the states. And then a crazy idea came to my mind. What if I also add the flavor of edible flowers? How about Roman Chamomile? For the first experiment, I powdered 2 teaspoons of dry flowers and added them to the dough and the stuffing. For the second, I’ve infused heavy cream with Chamomile flavor and then fermented it. That was a hit!
It’s raining, it’s gloomy and dark, perfect weather to eat a bowl of steamy hot Pho Bo — to warm your soul, to wake up your tastebuds! Last year, I made my the first and the best Pho at home, because it was 100% to my taste. I also managed to adjust the recipe logistics to a busy lifestyle. In other words, no need to stay hours in the kitchen to enjoy a bowl of good Pho Bo at home.
There are many good Pho recipes available online. My version is based on Andrea Nguyen’s Beef Pho Noodle Soup Recipe (Pho Bo), where you can find a lot of detailed information about Pho.
This salad is about duck. In France, if it is made of duck from Landes region (south of Bordeaux), its name is Landaise. My version features duck gizzards confit, cured and lightly smoked duck breast, and foie gras torchon or duck liver pate (depends on budget) slices on French baguette toasts. For greens I prefer a mix of sweet leafy vegetables and arugula, lightly dressed with classic French vinaigrette (EVOO, honey, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar). I tried different additional elements like tomatoes, asparagus, and hard-boils eggs, but the only one I really liked was cucumber. This salad is part of my Mosel & Alsace Menu.
I’ve never took pictures of my apple strudels before, because I was never satisfied with the result. A few weeks ago, I finally found a perfect recipe. It is smart, logical, with detailed instructions — Original Viennese Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel). I am adding it to my collection of favorite recipes with many thanks to Ursula & David.
Long time ago, I was on a quest to try as many different versions of Tres Leches in Austin as I can. For almost a year, I’ve been ordering, buying, and making it for dessert. It was fun! As a result, I found my favorite to buy (Downtown WholeFoods’ Tres Leches Parfait) and developed a few my favorite recipes to make at home (with baked milk and with cajeta, caramelized goat’s milk). I prefer versions where milk is the main source of flavor — no other ingredients like fruit, nuts, chocolate, etc. are allowed to overpower milk’s delicate and dreamy nature. For me, Tres Leches it’s a study on milk flavor. The recipe below is part of my ¡Viva Tequila! tasting event, featuring extra anejo tequila as an ingredient for the sponge feeding.