Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mexican Cooking with Cindy Pawlcyn - The Pantry at Delancey

I really don't want to sound all gushey with this post but it's going to be hard to avoid-this class rocked !  Of course I went into it very excited-who wouldn't be-the opportunity to learn from Cindy Pawlcyn - you often don't get opportunities like this. I wasn't going to let this one pass me by.  And I'm so glad I took my sister with me.  It was an incredible 1st experience for her with The Pantry at Delancey.

I've been in awe of Cindy Pawlcyn for some time.  Her bio on the internet summarizes her experience very well:
Cindy Pawlcyn is widely recognized as a pioneer of  wine country cooking and one of the first proponents of the farm to table philosophy. Pawlcyn began cooking at the tender age of 13-years-old, and through college and self-study was able to work alongside the likes of James Beard and Julia Child. Pawlcyn is the author of five widely acclaimed cookbooks – The Fog City Diner Cookbook, Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook, Big Small Plates,Cindy Pawlcyn’s Appetizers and her newest,Cindy's Supper Club . She is also the executive chef and owner of three Napa Valley restaurants – Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, Brassica, and Mustards Grill each of which uses her extensive kitchen gardens.

We squeezed a lot of cooking in to a short period of time and created fabulous food with direction from Cindy.  I can still taste the warm egg yolk in the Huevos Motuleños.  And the halibut with tomato habañero and citrus was incredible and so fresh.  We made a spicy smoky hot chipotle salsa that was poured over the Huevos Motuleños. Dessert was a Yucatan inspired tiramisu made with Mexican chocolate -absolutely to die for.  When my sister and I left ,we felt like we should have walked home to work off those calories ! It was a very special evening-another good vibe from fellow classmates.  Cindy was such a calming influence and so free with sharing all her cooking tips and kitchen stories. Another great evening at The Pantry at Delancy.

Cindy starting to plate the Huevos Motuleños

How scrumptious do the finished Huevos Motuleños look ?

The halibut with tomato habañero and citrus

Cindy putting the finishing touch of whipped cream on the tiramisu

The  tiramisu with sugared almond topping-so very very good !

The recipes for the food we made were pretty straightforward-easy to follow and nothing too complicated.  I especially liked that many of the components could be made a day or two ahead-thus freeing you up to enjoy your dinner guests !  If you want the recipes for everything we made in class buy Cindy's Book -"Cindy's Supper Club".  I was lucky-my birthday is just around the corner so my sweet sister bought a copy for me for my birthday-perfect way to end a perfect class !

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

French Strawberry Cake-TWD Baking with Julia

How could I resist this recipe ? Anything that has the word strawberry in it goes straight to the top of my list.  Especially this time of year when strawberries are showing up at the farmer's markets and look so pretty in their little green baskets.  I discovered the Hood River variety of strawberries on a recent jaunt to the Portland State University Farmer's Market-sad to say I have not been able to find them locally so far (too fragile to transport) , I continue to look.

 I purchased Albion strawberries this weekend from the West Seattle Market-they are very sweet, but still nothing comes close to the Hood River berries I covet.  I'm also in search of Shuksan strawberries,another one with a short shelf life and difficult to transport.  I think I have convinced J that a road trip to Portland is in the cards to search for my beloved Hood River Strawberries! If and when I find either variety you can count on my buying several flats and then it will be strawberrypalooza at our house for a while.

This recipe is a basic genoise with whipped cream and strawberries.  A genoise is a whole egg sponge cake that instead of using leavening,it uses air suspended in the batter to give volume to the cake. You handle the egg batter very gently as you are whisking so that you create enough volume but not too much.  And again a gentle touch  is needed when folding in the dry ingredients. If you are gentle and follow directions and keep an eye on the oven you should easily succeed with your genoise.  I made a few little changes to the basic recipe-I used my rhubarb simple syrup that I had on hand instead of creating the one called for in the recipe.  I also used  the home made mascarpone I brought back from my cheese making workshop at Quillisascut Farm in place of the cream cheese in the recipe.

Thanks to Sophia at Sophia's Sweets  and Allison at Think,Love,Sleep,Dine for hosting this delicious recipe. You can find the recipe on Sophia's blog or even more fun,buy the book: Baking with Julia and join the group, Tuesdays with Dorie. Head over to our TWD blog to see how everyone's cakes turned out.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Goat Cheese Asparagus Prosciutto Pie and Quillisascut Farm

I had the absolute pleasure of attending a Cheese Making Workshop at  the Quillisascut Farm School in Rice, Washington.  It could not have been any more perfect.  It's about a 6hour drive north east of Seattle and the weather cooperated-I had the most gorgeous blue skies the entire way.  To call the route scenic is an understatement.  I watched Lenore Lake go by, then Blue Lake and then the grandest of all Lake Roosevelt.  I had never been to this picture postcard area of Washington before and it was astounding-breathtaking doesn't do it justice.  I kept my radio off and listened instead to the birds chirping and singing as I slowed for the sharp turns; watched a hawk's shadow cross the road and hood of my car; saw two little does peeking out from the pines and more deep blue lupine than I had seen in a very long time. 

The smell of the pines in the high dessert brought back so many memories of a favorite camping spot outside of Flagstaff,Arizona.  And then when I drove up the dirt road leading to the farm and spotted the red roof my heart was so happy.  I felt so grateful for my good fortune and for being able to enjoy a trip like this in a place like this-it was magical.  Everything was sparkling and glistening in the bright sun. Lora Lea Misterly and her husband Rick started the farm over thirty years ago and their spirit and love permeates every inch of the property.  You feel so special that you are invited in to share a very special time with them.

Our class was taught by Lora Lea and was completely hands on. Our group consisted of a pastry chef from San Francisco; a landscaper from Driggs,ID; a wonderful local teacher; an incredibly traveled  local husband and wife team; a wellness nurse and a woman who had gotten married on top of the Tetons. We all had one thing in common-we love cheese !  And we were not disappointed.  We started with a little cheese tasting.  Cheeses included several types of Chevre ,ricotta, mozzarella, Provolone,along with pickled jalapeno peppers,pickled mustard seeds,raisin bread and crackers with jam.

 I never thought that by the end of the workshop I would be able to make all of the cheeses we tasted.  Lora Lea has been doing this for over thirty years and she gently guided us through the process without making us feel that the recipe was what was driving us. The recipe was the guide-she wanted us to see and feel and smell what the cheese was like during every stage of the process-something you can't learn from recipe.

Lora Lea

The time went by so quickly, between Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon it was hard to believe we had learned how to make farmer's cheese; ricotta,cottage cheese,mascarpone,feta,provolone,cow's milk mozzarella; goat's milk mozzarella; Havarti and sweet cream butter.  It truly was magical-we all came together,laughing and learning and sharing stories-time flew.  And the meals we ate in between cheese making sessions was absolutely delicious.

 Steen our chef,is a creative chef from Spokane.  She cooked us some incredible meals. Even though I loved the chicken and roasted duck my favorite had to be the chili she made and the corn bread that she "threw together"-so very good.  It was sad to say good bye to everyone, I felt like I was leaving friends behind .  I was sent home with tomato plants along with the cheeses we made.  When I got home I showed of my hand made cheeses like a small child at show and tell. While at the farmer's market today I saw some beautiful asparagus and started thinking about how I could use that with some of the cheese I brought home from the workshop. So I came up with the idea of combining the mozzarella,both the cow's milk and goat's milk along with a little ricotta, a little feta ,some basil,olive oil and prosciutto.  I initially was going to make a pizza but decided to make little hand pies filled with the cheese goodness.  It was heartwarming to combine Kate McDermott's recipe with the cheeses I learned to make from Lora Lea -it just felt right to bring the two together.  The hand pies turned out very good and brought back the aromas of the kitchen at Quillisascut Farm and Kate's cottage kitchen in Port Angeles.

Goat Cheese,Asparagus and Prosciutto Pie
Kate McDermott's Pie Crust Recipe
16 pieces of Prosciutto
16 Asparagus tips-about 3" long
1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
4 -6 oz. mix of Feta,Ricotta and Goat Cheese
4 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic crushed
1/4 - 1/3 cup fresh chopped basil leaves
ground black pepper

Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each Asparagus tip and set aside. Mix the mozzarella,goat cheese,olive oil,garlic and basil.  Add fresh ground pepper to taste.  When you roll the first piece of pie dough out use a 3-4 inch circle to cut out the pie base.  Spoon on about 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture and top each with 2 of the wrapped asparagus slices.  Then wet the outside edge of the dough just slightly and place the top dough layer over (like a ravioli). Press the edges together and seal with the tines of a fork.  Brush on a little egg wash,sprinkle with some more ground black pepper and gently pierce the top of the pie with the tines of the fork.  Place in the oven and bake at 400F for 10 minutes then lower oven to 350F and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until they turn that pretty pie crust golden brown shade.  Serve immediately-especially delicious with a side salad of arugula.

The goats of Quillisascut Farm


Rick and Lora Lea on their wedding day -from a photo on their refrigerator

  I put together a little slide show to share my trip with you -I'm going to watch it while I finish off the last hand pie ! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mixed Berry Pie - Welcome Home Fishman

J was gone last week on one his fishing trips to Eastern Washington with the boys.  Since he is a catch and release kind of guy I decided I would bake him a pie to honor the fish he left behind .  While my fishies are happily swimming in a mix of berries and Buddha's Hand Vodka, his are still out in the lake. I used (and will always use, now that I've learned the recipe) Kate McDermott's recipe for the fabulous pie crust.

Pie Crust
You can find the recipe and directions here at Kate's blog.

Pie Filling
Mixed berries-enough to fill your pie pan up to the rim
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch of fresh nutmeg (or just grind a fresh one over the bowl until it looks like a pinch)
Shot of Buddha's Hand Vodka (about 1 1/2 oz. if you don't have Buddha's Hand use any lemon flavored vodka)
1/4 cup flour
2 Tablespoons quick cook Tapioca

Sprinkle the sugar over the berries and let set for about 1hour.  Drain off excess liquid (you can save this for a delicious berry syrup). Don't worry you are going to have plenty of Vodka tainted fruit juices in your pie filling.   Add the vodka,vanilla,nutmeg ,flour and Tapioca and gently mix it into the berries.

Assuming you've followed Kate's instructions for making the pie dough and rolling the crust, you can now place the pie crust into your pie pan and gently place the pie filling inside your uncooked crust. You can pop that into the refrigerator while you roll out your top crust.  I rolled out my top crust and used my fish cookie cutter to cut out my crust topper.  Before you add the top crust,dot your pie with little pieces of butter (use about 1 Tablespoon butter and squeeze off little pieces from that and toss them around the top of your fruit filling).

Brush your pie with an egg wash (lightly beaten egg with a little water) and sprinkle the pie with sugar.

Bake at 425F for 20 minutes then reduce oven to 350F and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes until your pie has that beautiful brown hue to it.

You don't have to kick into obsessive compulsive mode when baking pies, like Kate said,Chill. Really-everything I did was based on what I learned in class and not from reading a written recipe. Taste,taste,taste and don't be afraid to experiment.  Read Kate's blog for more recipes and tips and check out Gwen's blog at Living in Langley:Notes from an Island-she has some wonderful step by step instructions and photos to help guide you.

Top this wonderful berry pie with ice cream,yogurt or like I did, with  fresh whipped cream-don't add any sugar to the whipped cream-the pie is sweet enough !

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Estonian Kringle-One Gorgeous Cinnamon Roll-Maybe

Several weeks ago,during my Pinterest addiction phase , I came across an incredible looking pastry. The photography was so beautiful I bookmarked it immediately as a must try recipe, along with the 1000 other must try recipes on my Pinterest Board ! But this one was calling me,bake me Sandy...bake me...I would look so pretty on your kitchen table...bake me. I really tried to ignore it's siren song but on this rainy morning with occasional sun breaks, it lured me in. It wasn't hard to be seduced by this-it's undulating design, the cinnamon and sugar and the ease of the recipe itself. Too bad J is out of town,he's missing a good one ! But it wasn't just the gorgeous picture that hooked me, I love all things cinnamon. The smells in the kitchen when something with cinnamon is baking in the oven takes me immediately back to my childhood. I don't remember my mother ever baking cinnamon rolls but she made the best cinnamon toast ever. We had a shaker of cinnamon sugar always at the ready,just pop some Wonder bread into the toaster,slather with butter while still hot and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the buttered bread-and there it was-one of my favorite treats that I remember from my childhood

1st attempt-baked at too high of a temperature

My first attempt was a challenge.  I didn't quite understand a couple things in the translation of the recipe from Romanian to English because the filling calls for softened butter but the method describes it as melted butter. So I melted my butter-not a good idea because once I cut the roll in half the butter had no stickiness to it (since it was melted and coated with sugar) and the pretty little leaves created kept falling apart and it was quite the challenge to hold them together and not lose the cinnamon sugar filling .  The 2nd mistake I made was that for some reason the first time I read the recipe I misunderstood baking it at 400F.  I had it in my mind that it baked at 400F until the last 5-10 minutes.  Needless to say I felt as twisted as my Kringle ! And that's why you don't see pictures of a pretty little circular Kringle-my joining of the two ends left a lot to be desired. But don't let my mistakes intimidate you-this is a delicious and quite pretty pastry (even if mine was a hot mess !)  It will definitely stay at the top of my baking list .

Most of my 2nd attempt looked pretty,I won't put you through viewing the section where the 2 pieces were joined together-it's not pretty !

I want to experiment with the dough for this recipe.  With both attempts the dough never really got a very good rise on it.  I may just try the weaving with a cinnamon roll recipe I have in my baking repertoire and see how that turns out. If you try this recipe I would be curious as to what you thought about it,let me know . In spite of it's not so perfect appearance it is delicious !  I am not going to give up -I want a gorgeous one just like Ana's-when I achieve  that perfect Kringle I'll share the photos with you. You can find the recipe over at Ana's blog "Just Love Cookin" if you feel like a challenge !

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Art of the Pie, Kate McDermott and Whiskey Creek

Last week end I had the absolute pleasure of taking Kate McDermott's Art of the Pie class.  I was so excited. From the time I got my confirmation I had been counting the days until the class.  I met Kate at a food blogging conference once and ran into her again at a University Farmer's market event.  Every time I had contact with her I reminded myself that I had to get to her class.  She lived so close to me,just blocks away. But schedules and life's responsibilities have a habit of getting in the way of what we really want to do.  I finally decided if I wanted to take the class I was going to make it happen. What a surprise when I discovered she had moved to Port Angeles-3 to 4hrs away from Seattle.  But I was determined.  Bags packed,car loaded ,reservations made , off to Port Angeles we headed on Friday night. 

Kate demonstrated everything before we started our pies

If you don't know about Kate's classes please check out her web site.   She was Seattle Magazine Editor's Pick for Best of 2010; her class was voted the Best Cooking Class 2010 by Seattle Weekly and  my absolute favorite chef, Dorie Greenspan (author of Around My French Table and Baking with Julia)  said : "I would do anything to take an Art of the Pie class from Kate."  Kate recently returned from a month of teaching in Europe at Kate Hill's Kitchen at Camont-another favorite of mine and on my bucket list !  So taking all of that into consideration,can you even imagine how thrilled I was about taking the class?

As soon as I walked up to the sweet blue cottage with the pretty purple door I felt like I had come home.  The "Will work for Pie" sign in the window brought a smile to my face.  The door was open and my fellow pie makers were waiting inside. It was a nice intimate  class,only the 4 of us and Kate. Kate has a way of putting everyone at ease and her house is filled with love just like her baking.  Her most important rule when baking pies is "chill"; not just the ingredients and pans but yourself-relax, it's only pie making.  We laughed all afternoon watching Kate work her pie magic and than laughed even more at our own attempts .

After talking to us about placing our good intentions into the pie, Kate showed us how to gently but quickly mix our flour with our fats for the dough.  If you put love into what you do what results will always be good.
 Beautiful rhubarb used for our pies

We couldn't believe the size and quality of the rhubarb that was waiting to be the heart of our pies. We chopped rhubarb; grated a little fresh nutmeg;sprinkled sugar;added vanilla and oops spilled in a little Orange Cointreau.  We tasted the tartness and sweetness of the mix before adding it to the pie shell.

Kate had us place our intentions into the pie before we made it and I wanted to put more of my love on the outside of the pie too !

The last slice of my rhubarb pie

It's all about love and following your senses, not having rigid rules.  Fresh fruit,  quality ingredients and good intentions.  Don't get caught up in "the ingredients and the directions".  Is it Zen like-yes it is. I was again reminded of Tita from Like Water from Chocolate and the love she put into her cooking-that's the love Kate puts into her baking and wants to pass on to all of us. Susan Dobrian wrote an article titled: "Romancing the Cook"  and in that article she describes meal preparation that perfectly describes Kate's approach to baking :

The kitchen becomes a veritable reservoir of creative and magical events, in which the cook who possesses this talent becomes artist, healer, and lover. Culinary activity involves not just the combination of prescribed ingredients, but something personal and creative emanating from the cook, a magical quality which transforms the food and grants its powerful properties that go beyond physical satisfaction to provide spiritual nourishment as well.

Faith over at her blog The Kitchn has an excellent article that contains all of Kate's tips and basic recipe for the pie crust.  I have fallen back in love with baking pies and can't wait to make my next one. I'll be off to the Farmer's Market this week end to see what looks and tastes fresh enough for my pie-you should do the same !

 So,not only was I so very blessed to be able to meet 4 wonderful pie makers and share time and baking with them I stumbled on one of the most wonderful places to stay outside of Port Angeles.  It's a place that has been around for years and is owned and managed by 2nd generation family members-Whiskey Creek Beach Resort  .  I couldn't believe my luck when I called Friday morning at 10am and got a reservation for a cabin on the beach for that evening !  When I told J we had to bring our own bedding and towels he just shook his head and wondered what I had gotten us into. As we drove down the road to our little cabin he was smitten.  He fell head over heals in love with this place - we both did. 

It's right on the water and feels thousands of miles away from civilization.  We watched the eagles soar; the otters swim; the waves crash and the boats head east and west through the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.  We could sit at our kitchen table and watch everything outside of our window-it couldn't have been more perfect.  We had a fire going most of the time in the wood stove . Our last evening there the sun was shining, we took our crab legs and beer out to a log on the beach and had a lovely romantic dinner at the edge of the water.  When I start to feel stressed I will put myself back on the log and remember the smells, the sounds of the water crashing on the rocks and eagles soaring overhead.

 Drift Inn Cabin at Whiskey Creek-sweet and right on the water

If you want to see more pictures from Whiskey Creek watch the video !

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Roasted Strawberries-Hello Summertime

Are you tired of hearing me moan and groan about the weather in the Pacific Northwest ?  I'm sorry, it's just lately, the grey skies and rain seem to bother me more than they used to and certainly more than I should allow them to.  I long for the hot summer sun. Not like Phoenix, but more like Southern California. But I don't want to move to Southern California, I just want that weather here, and now.  I think it has something to do with getting older-my bones want more Vitamin D !  I make daily promises to myself to reduce the amount of complaining I do about the Spring rain. I've decided to make an offering of strawberries to the Goddess of Sunshine in hopes that she will send sunshine and hot weather this way.

Last week-end I talked about the incredibly delicious Hood River Strawberries I had at the PSU Farmer's Market-they made me long for sunshine and summertime even more.  You could feel the warmth of the sun in them as soon as you bit into their juicy sweetness.  I kept remembering that taste all week long and I just knew I had to do something with strawberries to help cure my Springtime Blues .  I remembered a wonderful looking recipe I had seen in Donna Hay magazine and when I went back to look it over I knew it was the one.  Vanilla roasted strawberries with muesli and yogurt-what better way to start your day than with the taste of juicy berries lingering on your lips. And what better way to remind myself , that while Summer is really just around the corner,I wouldn't have these sweet strawberries without the rains of Spring.

This is a lovely little recipe and simple to prepare, considering the results are incredibly delicious.  Find some really sweet and juicy strawberries, mix with some superfine sugar,add a scraped vanilla bean with it's seeds and the peel of one orange-there you have it.  If you are really ambitious you can put on your over achiever's apron and make your own muesli and yogurt.  I cheated and used store bought for both.  I woke up in the morning-took about  twenty minutes to prep everything, including hulling the strawberries, popped the tray into the oven and fifteen minutes later added the yogurt and muesli .  The kitchen smelled like a strawberry field and breakfast put me into my Summertime state of mind. Bon Appetit !

Vanilla Roasted Strawberries

3 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled
1 cup superfine sugar
2 vanilla beans-split and seeds scraped (Donna's recipe calls for 1 bean but I'm a vanilla addict)
Peel of a an orange ( peel the entire orange-I recommend cutting the peel into 1 inch pieces as they add a very good flavor to the dish but a large slice of peel can be a little overwhelming)

Toasted muesli and vanilla yogurt to serve

Preheat the oven to 425F .  Take 2 sheets of parchment or non stick baking paper (approximately 12 x 18 inches each) and fold the 3 edges in to form an envelope or packet-leaving one of the 12inch wide edges open.  Place the berries,sugar,vanilla beans,vanilla seeds and orange peel into a bowl and toss to combine.  Place your paper envelope/packet on a half sheet baking tray (9x12inches-approximate-you want it to hold your envelope together) and gently spoon the sugar coated mixture inside. Once everything is inside the packet,seal the open end by folding it tightly. If you have to level out the contents at all don't shake the envelope or your folded edges will open (speaking from experience).  Instead just lightly tilt the baking sheet and jiggle the sheet around until the contents of the envelope level out.  Roast in your oven for 10-15 minutes or until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the oven,spoon into your bowl,add as much yogurt and muesli that you desire and enjoy !