Sunday, August 22, 2010


It took all of my restraint to not title this post "Who you callin' a tartine?!"

What is a tartine you may ask?  It's a fancy French way of saying open-faced sandwich.  Doesn't that sound so much nicer in French?  "What's for dinner, honey?"  "Tartines, ooh la la!"  vs. "What's for dinner, honey?"  "Part of a sandwich."

The benefits of making tartines are many: You don't have to turn on the oven; they are light; you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand and each person can customize their own.  Add a handful of lightly dressed greens and you have a perfect summer meal.

My one requirement-you must have a good bread for this.  I like a crusty whole grain loaf and I like to slice it myself.  You will be sorely disappointed if you attempt to "tartine" (ooh, look-I created my own verb) with a plastic wrapped sandwich bread.  The bread won't have enough crunch and it won't hold up your toppings.  And you will be totally not French and cool.

So how to tartine?  It's a no-recipe recipe but here's what I did.  Slice that bread and toast it.  Spread a slice with soft goat cheese and top with slow-roasted tomatoes and prosciutto.  For the next tartine, top the toasted bread with Dijon mustard, ricotta cheese and diced, oven-roasted zucchini and onions.  Finish with some grated lemon zest. (This one was inspired by Sprouted Kitchen).

Fresh farmer's market ricotta

And my kids favorite tartine?  Top the toasted bread with a little mayo and Dijon mixed together, mash some avocado on top of that, sprinkle the avocado with a little lemon juice and add a crunch of sea salt flakes.  They call it "avocado toast".  I really need to teach them some French.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Plum (Roma) tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Pinch of sugar (if needed)

1. Preheat oven to 250 F.
2. Core and cut tomatoes in half. Drizzle generously with olive oil, then salt and pepper.  If your tomatoes are not at the peak of the season you can add pinches of sugar as well.
3. Place tomatoes face down on foil lined baking sheet.  Roast for 90 min.
4. Flip tomatoes over and add more olive oil if needed and a touch more salt. You can also add thyme, minced garlic or any other seasonings you like.
5. Continue to roast for 2-3 hours or until tomatoes have collapsed.
6. Transfer to a container.  Be sure to get all the oil and juices left in the pan as well.  If needed, cover with more olive oil.
7. Refrigerate and use with one week.

Oven Roasted Zucchini & Onions

5 zucchini, diced
1 large onion, sliced
1-2 T olive oil
Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Cut zucchini into 1/2 inch dice.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. Cut onion in 1/2 thick slices, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
3. Roast zucchini on sheet pan for 35 minutes, tossing occasionally.
4. Add onions and roast for another 20 minutes or until zucchini is no longer giving off liquid and is caramelized and browning. (Note: If you add the onions earlier, they will burn.  At this point you could also add garlic as long as you leave it in large pieces, i.e. a clove cut in half.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cake Gallery

More recent cakes below...

Lego Cake 
Chocolate cake w/cookies and cream filling               

Cupcakes for boy and girl twins having a king and queen themed party.

Red Velvet w/cream cheese frosting & yellow cupcakes w/ milk chocolate buttercream

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Momofuku Strawberry Milk

Here is another way to use the elderflower syrup I talked about here and here.  This is Christina Tosi's recipe for Strawberry Milk.  She is the pastry chef at Momofuku Milk Bar.  I have gushed about her numerous times, having said I'll be first in line to buy her cookbook if she ever writes one.  Well...she has inked a deal to write a cookbook.  The word round the internet is that it should be released in the fall of 2011.  Giddyup!

Now, this Strawberry Milk.  It's like a melted strawberry milkshake with amped up strawberry flavor and the sweet, citrusy, floral hint that the elderflower syrup adds.  If you can't find the elderflower syrup, you can make your own by combining elderflower liqueur with a simple syrup.  Simple syrup is equal amounts of water and sugar, warmed until the sugar is fully dissolved. 

I think this would be great as part of a dessert course.  It is sweet so it could stand alone as a dessert but how great would it be to pair it with a grilled banana bread sandwich with chocolate ganache in the middle?!

Besides the elderflower syrup, the only other things you must have are a food scale and patience.  The recipe uses weights and ratios which is why you need a food scale.  You need patience because straining the strawberry puree through a fine mesh strainer is laborious.  (Promise me every time you say "lah-BOR-ious" you'll say it with a Transylvanian accent a la Dracula.)  In fact, I should have made my intern handle the puree.  If I had one that is...

Enough chit chat, let's make some strawberry milk!

Momofuku Strawberry Milk
Courtesty of Christina Tosi, Momofuku Milk Bar and Bakery & The Dairy Show

1 quart whole milk
180g elderflower syrup (or make a simple syrup and flavor it with elderflower liquor)
665g strawberry puree (put strawberries in a blender add 10% sugar by weight, blend, and then strain)
65g plain yogurt
pinch of salt

1. Wash and hull strawberries and weigh.
2. Take the weight of your strawberries and calculate 10% of that weight to determine how much sugar you'll need to add.  (I had 22 ounces of berries, therefore my sugar in weight should be 2.2 ounces.)
2. Put strawberries in blender and add your sugar.  Puree.
3. Using a fine mesh strainer and the patience God gave you, pour the puree into the strainer.  Use a rubber scraper to keep pressing the puree back and forth down through the strainer.  Continue until you can't take it anymore or until only seeds remain.  (I ended up with 2 1/2 cups of seedless puree.)
4. Combine the seedless puree, yogurt, elderflower syrup, pinch of salt and milk in a large pitcher.  Whisk to combine.

This is before I started to resent the lovely puree.
This is where I said, "I'm over it."
This is where I said, "Yum." And then apologized to the puree.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Elderflower Fruit Salad

I'm a girl who likes a good bargain.  If I'm going to buy a new exotic-ish ingredient I want a few ways to use it.  Remember when I posted about this cocktail?  And I told you to go buy this...

Rather than have this lovely citrusy, floral syrup languish in your refrigerator after you've made your cocktails, here are a few other uses for this Ikea Elderflower syrup.

Drizzle a teaspoon or two over the freshest, most beautiful berries you can find right now.  Throw in some mint and gently toss with your fingers.  The Elderflower syrup adds a mysterious floral sweetness to the mix that takes the fruit to a new level.

If you're not in a cocktail mood, mix some of the syrup with seltzer or club soda for a bubbly fruity soda.

I have one more use for this syrup coming your way this week that I'm excited to try.  Stay tuned...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Vietnamese Iced Cinnamon Coffee

What is it with me and cold beverages?  You'd think I've been on  a liquid diet lately.  When it's been the hottest summer on record your mind tends to gravitate toward cold beverages.  Thus, I bring you this one.  This is not your every morning coffee drink.  It's almost like a dessert so go easy there, tiger.

But when you're turning on the a/c by 8a.m. you're allowed to treat yourself to this icy cold, sweet, morning pick-me-up.  The coffee is cold-brewed (that will impress your coffee snob friends).  And when people marvel at how fresh and unwilted you remain in this heat, you can casually remark, "Oh me? I cold brew my coffee and drink it Vietnamese style."

Vietnamese Iced Cinnamon Coffee
Barely Adapted from Food & Wine

Coffee Concentrate
1/2 pound coarse grind dark roast coffee 
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon 
4 1/2 cups of cold water

Combine cold water, ground coffee and cinnamon in a pitcher. Stir and let sit, covered, on countertop for 24 hours.  Then strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer (or through cheesecloth or a coffee filter).  Discard grounds and refrigerate concentrate.

Iced Coffee
6 ounces of coffee concentrate
up to 3T sweetened condensed milk
up to 4 ounces of milk

In a tall glass filled with ice, combine the coffee concentrate and sweetened condensed milk.  Top with milk and combine.  Make sure to start with 1T of sweetened condensed milk and taste as you go.  Add more depending on how sweet you like it. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pimm's Cup...My Way

Hello, anyone there?  Anyone?  Didn't mean to leave you hanging.  It's just that it's summer.  Time to vacation, swim, grill a beef tenderloin, read, be lazy.  I have done all of the above.  I hope you understand and I hope you've done the same. 

Rest assured, you've been on my mind.  I have selflessly volunteered my summer to finding the perfect Pimm's Cup recipe.  Pimm's No. 1 Liqueur is a gin based, mystery-spiced liqueur.  It's popular in England where they mix it with their version of "lemonade" ( a carbonated lemon beverage).  Then they throw in some cucumber, lemon slices and plenty of ice.  It is so light and refreshing, the perfect summer drink. 

Since we don't have the same "lemonade" that the Brits do, I have been experimenting with different mixers.  I have tried ginger beer (too much spice), gingerale (again, too many spices), 7-UP (ok, but didn't enhance anything.)  I have made it with cucumber and mint, with cucumber and lemon.  I've even thrown in strawberries. C'mon England, you know we Americans do things our own way.  (See July 4, 1776 for examples.)

After selflessly sacrificing myself to this cause...Eureka!!!  I discovered San Pellegrino's Limonata (lemon soda).  I'm guessing this may be close to English "lemonade".  This made the perfect Pimm's Cup for me. 

Here is my ultimate Pimm's Cup recipe.  Cheers!

Pimm's Cup
Serves 1
1 1/2 ounces of Pimm's No. 1
6 ounces of San Pelligrino Limonata soda**
2 strawberries, sliced
a generous sprig of mint
lots of ice

Fill a tall glass with ice.  Add Pimm's, limonata, mint and strawberries.  Stir and enjoy!

**Note: San Pellegrino also makes an orange flavor.  I buy both flavors for my kids so that they can feel like they're drinking soda but these contain no caffeine and no high fructose corn syrup. I love these!