I know, I know…to complain about the heat is the least interesting thing one can do…actually to complain about the weather at all is rather dull. The weather here in Middle Tennessee is “normal” and truthfully, better than normal. But after a few days of temps in the 90’s and 90 percent humidity one just succumbs!
I had this container of Tazo Chai Latte, I was hot and sweaty, I wanted something cold…very cold. Time to experiment. Popping the Chai Latte along with some milk, thick chocolate syrup, a bit of brown sugar, a splash of vanilla extract and a pinch of cayenne into my always ready ice cream maker…20 minutes later along with a dusting of cocoa…with one bite I was cooler! I had, surprisingly, one of the most intriguing frozen ice cream-like desserts I have ever made, “Spicy Chocolate Chai Frozen Latte”.
I always get my ingredients measured out and ready before starting one of my kitchen experiments. The “mise en place”.
The churning begins…..
…halfway through the chocolate syrup is added.
The magic of modern machinery happens right before my eyes!
It’s creamy with no cream, sweet with just a bit of sugar, cold when it’s hot!
2 cups Tazo Chai Latte (or any other brand), chilled
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup good thick chocolate syrup
splash of vanilla extract
pinch of cayenne pepper
In a sauce pan set over medium heat mix together the whole milk and brown sugar. Stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool completely, chill.
Add the chai latte, chilled milk-sugar mixture, vanilla extract & cayenne pepper to the ice cream freezer. Turn on freezer.
Halfway through the freezing process, about 12 minutes, add the chocolate syrup. Continue freezing. When mixture is frozen turn off machine. Serve frozen latte scoops with a dusting of cocoa powder. You can also serve later, just cover the ice cream and keep in freezer until ready to enjoy. I prefer eating immediately as it is creamier at this point. When it is frozen it become more icy. Either way it is very good and refreshing and lower fat than traditional recipes.
I have been traveling (check out my Instagram for photos on where) for a couple of weeks and away from my kitchen…lots of eating, but no cooking. Many recipe ideas are crammed into my brain from the trip and after some experimentation I hope to share some of those with you in later posts…a similar but not-creamed spinach dish topped with goat cheese that was sublime….a light-as-air three-layered dessert using sponge cake, whipped cream and phyllo dough…gnocchi-like noodles with a simple beef stew…chard chopped and sautéed in olive oil & garlic….oh my!
But for today…..peas and pasta.
A few weeks ago I picked my solo crop of green peas from my little garden and this is the easy dish I made, “Garden-Grown Green Peas, Crisp Bacon & Parmesan Tossed with Pasta”, a Carbonara riff.
A cool, sunny spring with just the right amount of rain gave my pea plants an extra boost and within a month or so I had vines laden with plump green peas! I was pretty thrilled as fresh peas have always been a favorite of mine.
The hot pasta was tossed in a quick sauce of chicken stock with a splash of cream, sea salt & black pepper for a leaner version of a classic Carbonara-style dish. I quickly added the steamed green peas, crispy lean bacon & a generous amount of shredded parmesan cheese. Bon Apetit!
Garden-Grown Green Peas, Crisp Bacon & Parmesan Cheese Pasta
I am always amazed why it takes me so long to get around to trying something that I have known about for so long. I have read about “shrub”drinks over the years, but had no idea how easy they are to make and how zesty & wonderful they taste, especially if you are a fan of vinegar drinks.
Before bottled colas & other sugary drinks became a ubiquitous part of our cultural landscape people made vinegar based fruit drinks commonly called “shrubs”. Mixed with carbonated water, Prosecco or even a Belgium Lambic beer results in one perfect warm weather cooler. I tried all three and found each deliciously appealing.
A few simple ingredients are all you need to make your own bottle(s) of shrub to keep in the refrigerator chilled and ready to enjoy. Fresh berries or other fruit, sugar, white wine, red wine & balsamic vinegars….simple and inexpensive.
If you are a fan of kombucha, then I think you will find this recipe for strawberry shrub a new and interesting way to get your vinegar based drink fix. It truly is as “easy as this”! Give it a try, let me know what you think.
Mix fruit and sugar in a bowl. Crush berries with a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon. Cover for 1 hour or chilled overnight allowing fruit and sugar to meld and juices to be released from the fruit.
Strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, pressing the fruit to get out all the flavorful juice.
Add balsamic, white wine and red wine vinegars to the strained juice. Store “shrub” in a lidded glass jar chilled until ready to use.
For Mocktails put some of the shrub in a glass with ice and top with fizzy water. For Cocktails mix with Prosecco or a Peach Lambic Beer. Add a squeeze of lime or orange if desired. Adjust the amount of the shrub depending on your particular taste. I enjoy a very zesty drink with lots of that full-bodied fruit vinegar flavor. Experiment to come up with you own combinations.
Can one be an “accidental cookbook author”? Is such a thing possible? Yes…I am living proof that by just being in the right place at the right time some amazing things can happen totally by accident! I so enjoy working and styling food for cookbooks and have worked on many over the years. I, on the other hand, have never been particularly interested in doing one of my own. So it was even sweeter and more fun when I got this pre-release cookbook cover image from Spring House Press and there was my name right under Zack Browns! Me, the accidental cookbook author!
As a “tease” I am going to share with you one of the 24 recipes I conjured up and developed, tested and styled for this book with Zack who was a joy to work with. If you have not already heard about his potato salad Kickstarter project then a quick look here will tell you more. All the gorgeous images are the work photographer Danielle Atkins. The person who brought us all together…who was the glue…is J Spinks…art director extraordinaire.
How I got involved with Zack’s Kickstarter is another story, but that is all in the cookbook. This was a labor of love that I worked on just for the absolute fun of it as well as my interest in pursuing projects that are works of good.
Later on there will be some cookbook giveaways and other fun stuff. Today I share with you a yummy spring potato salad recipe, “Egg, Apple & Smoked Trout Potato Salad with Cider Dressing”, to tease your potato salad palate, . Enjoy!
Egg, Apple & Smoked Trout Potato Salad with Cider Dressing
Tossed with pepper arugula and watercress and smoky trout, this entree potato salad is exquisite. The apple slices and cider vinegar add a fresh dimension. Served with good crusty bread and a chilled white wine, it’s just what spring calls for.
1 lb baby Yukon gold or honey gold potatoes
2 tart apples, thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 handful watercress
1 handful baby arugula
8-10 ounces smoked trout, separated into chunks
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
Bring potatoes to a boil in salted water. Reduce heat and simmer, about 20 minutes, until potatoes are knife tender. Drain and set aside. Once cool, cut each potato in half.
Toss apples with the juice of 1/2 lemon and set aside.
Make the dressing: Put the egg yolks, additional lemon juice, and a dash of salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. With processor running, drizzle in olive oil until mixture has thickened. Add the mustard and vinegar. Pulse to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning.
To serve: gently toss the potatoes, apples, watercress, arugula and trout with the dressing. Place mixture on a serving platter or individual plates. Scatter sea salt and pepper over salad. Top with egg pieces and drizzle with additional olive oil if desired.
It is a proud moment in blogging when a post ends up on the cover of a magazine!
In May of 2015 I posted a blog featuring “A Mother’s Day Tennessee Strawberry Tart” and now May 2016…one year later my tart is the cover story of the May/June Edible Nashville. Thanks Jill Melton and Edible!
There is nothing so sweet as the beginning of Strawberry Season. Every May the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market begins to fill up with local farmers offering pints and quarts of berries and this May is no different. I bought my first berries this past weekend. I picked up a couple of extra cartons for gifts for my daughters. Yes Strawberries do say love!
So in honor of Tennessee Strawberry time I am going to share previous posts I have done which feature fresh, local, Spring Strawberries.
If I were a berry I would enjoy resting on top of a sponge cake, dusted with powdered sugar….or swirling around in sweet juice in a canning jar for all to admire….or being wrapped up snuggly in a blanket of dough. Wouldn’t you?
A few weeks ago Wouter was working in Los Angeles and I had the week at home to myself. Busy with photo shoots and faced with all the craft services tables and lunches every day on set, I decided to make sure I ate cleaner and healthier when at home,
My friend Terry is always referring to her “bean diet”…I am not sure what that is exactly..but she swears by it. With this bag of “Orca Beans”, also known as Calypso or Yin Yang Beans, and the recipe on the back of the package as my guide, I made a killer salad and went on my own version of the “bean diet”.
1 cup chopped fresh orange (peeled, de-seeded) with juices
2 Tbsp minced jalapeno pepper
juice of one lime
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin powder
1 to 2 fresh avocados chopped (peeled & seeded)
Place beans in a pot with the water and season with salt & black pepper. Bring to a boil, turn to simmer and cook just until beans are softened (but not mushy). Drain cooked beans in a colander and rinse with cool water. Let drain for a few minutes.
Put cooked, cooled & drained beans in a large bowl along with the chopped mango, orange and jalapeno pepper.
Add lime juice, salt & black pepper to taste and cumin powder and toss gently. Add chopped avocado if serving immediately, otherwise cover and chill salad and add avocado right before serving. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. This salad keeps chilled for 3 to 4 days. It just gets better and better!
There is a sweet and funny family story that inspired me to make my own version of Erwtensoep or Dutch Pea Soup. If you are lucky enough to know my partner Wouter, a Dutch man who tells a good story, you may also have heard the tale of him and his late Mother Elizabeth’s restaurant meal concerning “This is NOT Erwtensoep!”
Now, according to Elizabeth real Dutch Pea Soup has no potatoes even though you can order it many places in The Netherlands with this addition. Her firm belief in the absence of potatoes…a long-suffering Waiter, and Wouter…as well as a bowl of pea soup led to a bit of hilarity that only exists in the retelling. I leave it at that.
After much research and discussions with Wouter about Dutch Pea Soup, combined with my fondness for all things “peas and potatoes”, I made this cross-culinary version using Southern USA country ham hocks, split green peas and baby Yukon gold potatoes. It is a most delicious soup. Although Elizabeth is no longer with us and she might possibly declare “This is NOT Erwtensoep” I do believe even she would find it tasty. Bon Appetit and Laten We Eten!
These little salt and pepper ducks that I bought in Budapest last summer look right at home in this multi-culinary setting. A Dutch Pea Soup made with Southern USA Ham Hocks and seasoned with Salt and Pepper from Hungarian Ducks!
A photo of shelves and shelves of cans of Ertwensoep I took on our last trip to Amsterdam while grocery shopping.