Tuesday, December 27

Meet Aebleskivers

They're traditional Danish pancake that are a solid ball of light and fluffy cooked batter. To make the, you need a aebleskiver pan and a lot of courage to tend them! I feel like they're not that popular due to being pretty tricky to make. But since my Danish Grandmother passed away in 2005, my family has made it a tradition to make these fun little guys over the Christmas Holiday.

To get them round, you have to rotate them gradually.

Aren't they cute?! I like to enjoy them with maple syrup and butter, just like pancakes. You can see it's a bit difficult getting them into perfect little circles, but I'm getting there! If you're interested in getting an aebleskiver pan, you get one at Williams and Sonoma, along with batter mixes and turning tools.

Sunday, December 25

Gingerbread Cutouts

Sugar cookies are out and gingerbread is in! These cookies are delicious, festive and so fun to make with different cookie cutters. This time they didn't even get to be decorated- just devoured!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 Tbl vinegar
2 1/2 cups flour

Using a mixer, beat butter using paddle attachment. Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Beat until combined, scrapping sides occasionally. Beat in molasses, egg and vinegar. Beat in as much flour as you can putting in half cup at a time. Stir in remaining flour. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours or until easy to handle.

Preheat the oven to 375'F. Grease a cookie sheet or use parchment paper or a silpat. On a lightly floured surface roll half the dough at a time, a 1/4 inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out dough and bake for 5-6 minutes. Cool on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, decorate with royal icing or just dig in!

Thursday, December 22

Fudgin Around

I'm an ingredient freak. I hate using gelatin, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated oils or any other lab experiments. Finding a fudge recipe that didn't contain a bunch of my "do not use" ingredients was a hard task that lead to a compromise. I found a recipe that called for one tiny bit of corn syrup (which contains HFCS, bummer): one teaspoon. That's pretty darn good to me! 

Fudge is fun because it gives you some room to be creative. Any kinda nuts, spices, candy, chips or sprinkles will make it a more enjoyable edible. I ended up making two batches. The first, candy cane fudge and the second, cinnamon walnut fudge. This recipe requires a candy thermometer but don't be scared! It's actually quite relaxing to make. You get a lot of free time so you can wrap a few presents while you wait!

Make about 1 1/4 pound, a 7x7 baking pan makes great portioned pieces

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut up
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt (optional)
2 Tbl unsalted butter
1 tsp vanille
1/2 cup add in's
1 tsp spices

Line baking dish with foil and butter it. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan combine sugar, half-and-half, chocolate, corn syrup, and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to the side. Reduce heat to medium-low, continue boiling at moderate, steady rate, stirring occasionaly, until thermometer reaches 236' F, softball stage (15-20 minutes). 

Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter and vanilla but do not stir! Cool without stirring until it reaches 110'F (20-35 minutes). Remove thermometer then beat mixture together until its thickens (2 minutes). If desired add add in's and stir for 3 minutes or until it slightly starts to loose it's gloss. 

Immediately spread it in the baking dish. Cut while hot and let cool for about 1-2 hours. Store tightly covered.

Wednesday, December 21

Christmas Madness: Lemon Bars

Today is the day I officially started baking all my Christmas treats! I eased my way in with a classic Lemon Bar, a quick and easy bake. Also a  great palate cleanser that contains some fruit!... Yep, I may be rationalizing to make myself feel better about all the sugar in these bad boys. Change of subject. 

Have you ever noticed if you have lemon trees by your house, on your way to work/school, or behind a reachable fence? Well, my Dad does and of course a bit of hoarding comes with it. They're like prized gems that need to be taken right now or you may never be able to find them again! For a few days, decent piles of lemons keep appearing on the counter until one evening he said "What are we gonna do with all these lemons? We probably have enough for lemon bars." Yeah Dad, we have more than enough. So Voila, Lemons Bars it is! I know everyone has a certain recipe they use, but it's okay, I'll share mine anyway. It sure is reliable!

You might be wondering, "what is going on with those lemon bars? They look funky!" Well, lately I've been baking some things that are supposed to be dusted (heavily of course) with powdered sugar. And every time I share with my boyfriend, he inhales the sugar and it makes for a very awkward moment when he clears his throat and gives me the look. So today, he gave a wonderful suggestion of blow torching/caramelizing the powdered sugar! It totally works, tastes good and insures no accidents. If ya got one, try it... but beware, it can burn easily.
 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbl cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbl all-purpose flour
1 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup milk or half-and-half
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350' F. Butter a 13x9 inch baking pan. In a medium size bowl combine 2 cups flour, the 1/2 cup powdered sugar, cornstarch and salt. Cut in until course crumbs. Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are golden.

Meanwhile, for the filling, in a medium size bowl combine eggs, lemon juice and zest, sugar, 3 Tbl flour and milk/half-and-half. Pour filling over hot crust. Bake 15-20 minutes or until center is set.  Cool completely in pan. Dust with powdered sugar and caramelize with a blow torch. Cut into bars and serve!

good bye autumn

Wednesday, November 30

Persimmon Cookies

All around the Sierra Nevada Foothills, you'll find this bright orange fruit that are irresistible to not pick. Like every year, I went on a rampage and got too many to play with. Yep, I could give them away, but they're so darn pretty! So here's a simple old school recipe that I got from a 1970's cookbook of my Mom's, that is a promising way to get these gems off your table and into your belly!

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 beaten egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup persimmon pulp
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 cups flour
Optional: 1 cup dried fruit, nuts, or chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream sugars, vanilla, butter, and beaten egg. Then add the baking soda and persimmon pulp to the sugar mixture. Sift the flour, salt and spices into the persimmon mixture. Drop spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Monday, November 21

I took the cake!

This weekend, I entered the Mountain Mandarin Festival's cooking contest with a mandarin inspired dessert, Chocolate Mandarin Hazelnut Cake. I ended up taking first place in the dessert category and received a generous prize! So exciting- here's the winner!

Friday, November 18

I've been so busy with...

enjoying autumn,

roasting chestnuts,

doing sewing projects,

taking hikes,

finding mushrooms,

while staying warm with hot chocolate

and baked goods.

I love this time of year!

Tuesday, October 25

Fig and Almond Cream Tart with Quince glaze

Drove by a huge fig tree and had to take some- they were perfectly ripe! I decided to make a tart because I have a delicious recipe for almond cream and some left over almond meal. The almonds and figs are a great match! It's so sweet that a bit of lemon juice does a lot of good by adding a bit of acid/tartness. The quince glaze was a good last minute decision. The other day my sister and I utilized her neighbors quince tree and made some jelly- turned out really nice. 
With a bit of planning, this tart was a nice bake. Aren't the colors beautiful?!

Tart Dough
From A little taste of France- thanks Jamie!

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
5 1/2 oz unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt

Sift flour and salt into a large bowl, rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and 2-3 tsp cold water, mix till it all comes together. Shape the dough in a disc, wrap in plastic and refridgerate for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to use, roll out the pastry into a circle on a lightly floured surface, fit to tart pan. Trim the edges by pinching off the dough. Before baking, let rest in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

Almond Cream

3 oz butter, room temperature
3 oz granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 oz almond meal
1 oz flour
juice from half a lemon

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla a little at a time, beating with every addition. Stir in almond meal and flour.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Slice enough figs to cover the tart.
Spread the almond cream on the dough prepared in the tart tin. Bake for 25 minutes, the almond cream should have risen and be lightly golden. After the the first bake, take out the tart and quickly arrange the figs on the tart. I glazed it with homemade quince jelly- any jelly will do. Just dilute it with a bit of water and brush it onto the figs.
Bake again for another 15 minutes or until the edges of the dough are golden brown and enjoy!

Monday, October 17

Strawberry Blackberry Jam

Delicious and beautiful jam made from home-grown strawberries and blackberries! What I did was juice the blackberries to get all those pesky seeds out and used the whole strawberry giving it the texture and flavor of strawberry jam with a tart kick from the blackberries. I also used Pomona's Universal Pectin- it's the best! Basically you follow the guidelines of how much juice/fruit you have and you add tiny amounts of pectin to suit the jam. It allows you to decrease the amount of sugar added, leaving your jam tasting more like fruit instead of candy.

Thursday, October 13

Chicken of the Woods

Right before I took my first bite a little voice in the back of my head said "don't eat the mushrooms, they're poisonous!" It's funny how that has stuck with me since I was a kid. Getting over that was the hardest thing about cooking this foraged mushroom! 

All I did was chop it up, saute it in butter, steam it with a little water, add some breadcrumbs and cheese and ta da! It was really delicious- the texture was soft, not rubbery, tasted almost like scrambled eggs, plus anything with butter and cheese is bound to taste great! 

Tuesday, October 11

Latest Find

I love mushroom season- Yes, it's that time of year already! This fungi was found in the yard of my boyfriend's house. The coloring is beautiful and it's huge and still growing! Laetiporus sulphureus, Chicken of the Woods gets it's name for a reason, it takes like chicken. I am beyond excited to get my cook on with this guy! 

Monday, October 10

A bit of Dublin

Dublin Castle and St. Patricks Cathedral

Trinity College and O'Connell Bridge

St. Stephen's Green

Irish Museum of Modern Art

I'm back in California. I had an unforgettable time in Ireland- it was amazing! Met wonderful people, eat some of the best food I've had in my life (on the farm of course!), got to see beautiful places and learned lots! Traveling goes by way too fast, but hopefully I'll be back in Ireland soon.

Friday, September 30

More from the farm

Fennel and squash

Nasturtiums for the salad mix

The intern cottage and Lucky

Thursday, September 29


Streets of Killarney, County Kerry

Killarney National Park

Ross Castle

Saint Mary's Cathedral