The Power of Salt

salt revolution

 

Remember when salt used to come only from those large cylindrical containers, and it was really just an afterthought, casually sprinkled atop your bland meal? I’m not sure what happened, but somewhere along this crazy foodie journey I ended up with six different kinds of salt that currently live on my kitchen counter (not to mention the salt block, for full-on salt cooking), and deciding which salt pairs with which dish is one of the toughest parts of cooking dinner.

I recently received a package of Salt Revolution’s Aztec Sea Salt, and I have to say this is one of my favorite ones yet. Harvested from Mexico’s Cuyutlán Lagoon over a 45-day period each year, it’s sorted by hand in small packages, and combines a beautiful, subtle salty flavor with just the right amount of crunch — it comes in big, flaky pieces, much smoother than a jagged piece of rock salt, so it settles in your mouth in just the right way. Their small-batch approach means that each harvesting season they sell salt until their supply is gone; you can sign up to find out when the new batch is available.

Adapting a dough recipe from one of my go-to cookbooks, The New Spanish Table, I whipped up this coca-dough flatbread, topped with onions, rosemary, pine nuts, pancetta and goat cheese…and of course, some finishing salt sprinkled on top!

Sea Salt Flatbread

Read More
Sponsored Content

Pretty as a Picture (At Long Last)

desserts4

I consider myself to be an above average home cook.  I get lots of practice, what with putting dinner on the table seven nights a week and all (six if my husband gives in to my love of Pete’s Apizza.)  Desserts, though….not so much. I don’t even care for desserts most of the time.  I prefer a cold beer and a handful of sour cream and onion potato chips for a late-night snack. Still, it is nice to bring a show-stopping sweet to a potluck now and then.   Plus, I just know that one of these days, someone is going to rope me into a bake sale.  So, when the chance arose to review a copy of The Big Book of Desserts and Pastries by Claes Karlsson, I volunteered.

As expected, when the book arrived, it was filled with beautiful, full-color photos.  I skipped right past the candy section. As I said, when it comes to desserts, I know my limits.  If it involves a thermometer, I’m out. I settled on the honey pine nut cake. I had all of the ingredients on hand, the directions were simple, and the picture in the book was drool-worthy. But my DIY result was…disappointing. Sure, my little pine nut cupcakes tasted good, kind of like sugar cookies with pine nuts on top, but they did not look particularly beautiful.  Mission not accomplished.

desserts1

Next, I went for the thin tuiles.  This go-around, I even bought heavy cream, something not normally on hand at our house.  I mixed, spoon, and baked as per the instructions. The resulting cookies were so fragile that the trip from the pan to the cooling rack was enough to shatter them. I blame the fact that the recipe calls for an oven heated to 390 degrees, and chances are that my very old, non-digital oven was off by more than a few notches.  Grr. The crumbled cookies did make an excellent topping for ice cream, so all was not lost, but I still had not achieved my goal of a photo-worthy dessert.

After failing twice, I was ready to move this book from the cookbook shelf to the coffee table.  Clearly, in my less than capable hands, it would be better for browsing. I was having tea with a friend the next day, however, so I decided to make one last attempt, with a recipe for coffee-flavored chocolate cake.  I didn’t have the correct pan shape, but I refused to let this stop me.  An hour or so later, I sighed with relief as I pulled out my camera.  The resulting cake cubes were not only delectably chocolatey with a hint of coffee-flavor,  they were gorgeous. Thank goodness.

desserts3

Coffee-Flavored Chocolate Cake

Read More
Sponsored Content

Honeyed Almond Blackberry Pinenut Tart

You know, I consider myself to be a pretty lucky lady. Not win-the-lottery lucky, but my life is pretty good. Maybe it’s the holidays making me soft, but I’m really feeling my luck lately. I’m lucky in love. I’m lucky to have a job that I enjoy, I’m lucky that my children are healthy (even if they are terribly mischievous), and I’m lucky that I get to share my recipes with all of you. One of the perks of the latter is getting to try new and different products in my recipes. I received a sample set of honey from bee raw honey, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. The first thing I made was one of these tarts. I made one again the next day, and one the day after that. It has been thoroughly tested, and deliciousness is guaranteed. You’ll feel pretty lucky too, after you eat one.

Honeyed Almond Blackberry Pinenut Tart

Read More
Sponsored Content

100 Ways to Use Beer in Food and Drink #8 and #9: Black and Tan Beer-Infused Garlic Pesto

To all you naysayers out there: you lose! Yet again I  accomplish both #8 and #9 of my quest to use beer in 100 different dishes. This time, I wanted to make something versatile, that could go with various meals, so I opted for a pesto that is amped up with flavor of a black and tan beer….plus beer-infused garlic, so I knock two items off the list.

Hopefully you realize that black and tan is a reference to a mix of two tasty and contrasting beers. The mix of beers varies depending on where you get it and from whom, but is generally a dark beer with a pale ale or lager. This time, I used Yuengling’s version: a mix of their porter and their premium beer. I was hoping the porter part of this would bring out the nutty flavor of the pine nuts, but because it’s only half porter, wouldn’t turn the pesto dark.

The black and tan did bring out the pine nuts, while also giving the pesto a bit of the bite when mixed with the garlic. I put one slice of sun-dried tomato in the mix and it lent a very subtle taste that again, I believe was brought out by the beer. I served this as a snack on toast, topped with a slice of sun-dried tomato. Then, for dinner we put it on our burgers, along with the beer-infused ketchup! OR you can make an open-faced tuna sandwich and top it off with some pesto (see above). You’re welcome.

Beer-Infused Garlic

Read More
Sponsored Content

Killer Crowd-Pleaser Pasta

Lots of wine, lots of friends, lots of food… what can be better than a big dinner party? Being the convivial hostess that I am, I’m constantly gathering friends together for festive meals. I love experimenting with new dishes and ingredients, but sometimes I’m looking for a reliable go-to recipe — especially when I’ve gotten a bit ambitious with my guest count. In scenarios like this, I have an easy pasta recipe I’ve perfected over the years that guarantees dinner party success. Every time I make this I receive nothing but rave reviews. Not trying to brag, y’all, I’m just being honest.

If you’re having a load of guests over for the holiday season, give yourself a break and make a gigantic pot of this rigatoni with gorgonzola and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s simple and quick to put together, but the flavor is richly layered, and the vibrant colors of the tomatoes and basil lend a lively aesthetic to the dish.

Read More
Sponsored Content

Parsnips are the New Prozac

photo-34

I’m cranky. Yea, I’m cranky. That’s what it is. It’s been a cold (but, I have to admit, awesomely snowy) winter. And a long winter. It’s March and I’m still cold.

I haven’t cooked anything worth a fucking dime. And I hate that expression. But it’s true. Sure, I’ve discovered cottage cheese and smoked whitefish, but then what?

Nothing.

I need the summer’s farmers market. I need to be surrounded with tomatoes and eggplants and zucchinis. I need spring.

While the warmth won’t be coming for many more weeks, I did find something to keep me happy about the abundance of root vegetables. And it was at my neighborhood pizza place. I know, weird.

Read More
Sponsored Content
Page 1 of 812345...Last »