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New growth: berries, tomatoes, mint, cherries, cucumbers

Written by Nazarina on October 14th, 2010

I am so sorry for my long absence, six months sure goes by fast……dare I pin my preoccupation on a certain adorable, sometimes quite edible little munchkin? See him at the end of this post?  I was inspired  by him and us watching the animated movie, “The Ant bully” ( only about a thousand times), and then photographed all our treasures from the garden as seen from the “eyes” of an ant! This movie teaches little munchkins to be kind to each other and  bugs!


Not-so-mundane garden variety

Here are a few recipes I tinkered with throughout the summer, using things from the garden and hey, the garden parties were not bad either!

For some reason, there seem to be an amicable and almost clandestine rivalry between my husband and me and where arbitration in “whom will reign supreme” is not really important. What does matter, is the fact that both of us are passionate about our endeavors and that I am able to constantly chase after gastronomic nirvana!

With this said, my husband is the avid gardener in this family, so the term “green thumb” presumably alludes to his soil stained fingers. He grows all kinds of things from seedlings,  which he first germinates in the sun room, while the snow is still rampant around these parts and then during the warmer months, transplants them to either pots or the yard where “difficult dirt” is the order of many a day! Were it not for his tireless efforts, ( and in my mind, sometimes foolhardy perseverance LOL!),  to dig and aerate this impermeable piece of underlying crap, so sorry,  I meant to say clay,  that lurks just below the already, ( I swear),  denuded top soil, I  would not be able to “showboat” these beauties below! Nevertheless, daunting as this task may seem, he enjoys every minute of it!  Thank  goodness, he has the “balls” to do this every spring, among countless other things!

Berries

This tree is on the side of my studio where it receives plenty of sunshine but also the much needed shade during those 100 degree days from the shadow, cast by  the wall. My grandmother had a blackberry tree that fed the whole neighborhood. She made us climb the tree and then made all kinds of things with blackberries and it is those very moments that I miss so terribly. My sister S shared a memory with me, saying that my Grandfather wanted her to catch all those pesky ripened berries  before they fell onto his vintage Simcar, ( the ones that stained your hands and face and looked like some tattoo artist was hard at work at your expense). Apparently, there is really nothing wrong with inexpensive and underage labor, just look at how we turned out! just kidding! He, he!

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Can you imagine a world in black & white? Thank God for granting us a vivid color spectrum!

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This is my  so called “big, little very berry  Petit Four” that serves four or many more! (only 6 & half inches in diameter)

I developed this recipe when the berries were bursting with juice and flavor and just falling to the ground. This almost salacious motion needed an equally amorous mate,  ( i.e. a spongy Madeira with berries in the batter), to showcase the berry in all its sun-kissed  glory. The taste was absolutely stupendous,  not in the least sweet, just fruity and a little tart!

Everybody and their Mama are always over at my house, so when I tried dividing this baby into a thousand little pieces, one of my friend’s said “What the fudge Naz, what’s up with this? I need a freakin magnifying glass to even locate my piece!”

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This big, little petit four is covered in a fruit fondant that I bought on-line and came all the way from Great Britain. So, it is more than fitting  to serve even the queen of England and the rest of the royal clan!

I served this dessert with a raspberry and blackberry coolie on the side. The berry coolies  intermingled with the fruit fondant ,  making every bite bursting with bits of succulent berry magic! Need I say that this endeavor was pretty darn fruitful!

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Just add cooled down boiling water to a mixture of both raspberry & blackcurrant fondants and voila! you have real berries in a liquid state. I added a touch of lemon juice and the berry coolies to make it extra fruity!

It was this fruit fondant that really made this cake soar!!!!

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Squires Shop distributes  orders of their products, magazines & magazine subscriptions worldwide, just click on their logo below for this fondant and many more.

Sk-logo-squires

Tomatoes

It is such a pleasure to cook straight from the garden and it also gives us that much needed “reconnect” to our food source, especially among the youth where this disconnect seems hauntingly palpable!

This season, my husband uncharacteristically cross pollinated the “Roma” with the  “Big Boy Hybrid” to produce a tomato with an inexplicably delicious flavor, that of my favorite, “Pink Lady” apple. Anyone can purchase a little tomato plant and plant it and nurture it and this is all good, but it is the mere planting and growing directly from seed and experimenting with cross pollination that grabs my attention!

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tomatoes naza1

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Naturally, I just had to reciprocate and make the best tomato jam ever, so  I did some  “cross pollination” of my own.  I married the tomatoes in this  jam with a few surprises , one of them being harissa, ( just a smidgen to give it that slightly spicy flavor),  and also added a  fruit and a few other ingredients that will knock your socks off! BTW, I used honey and not sugar in this jam.

I removed the doughy insides from some Einstein bagels and filled them with a  crumbly  farmers cheese , topped them with a savory custard , a shower of freshly grated Parmesan and then baked in the oven until golden and crispy. My jam provided that undercurrent of gastronomic mystery to these bagels because without it,  felt amiss!  I am afraid that you just had to be here to appreciate the added flavor that this jam brought to the table!

Spicy tomato jam & inside out cheesy bagels

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Mint patch (this is the bees favorite hangout!). These suckers can really dominate a garden but in essence this symbiotic relationship between bee & mint if you will, is really  a win-win situation for me and my tomatoes! If this is what my garden has to endure for the attraction of bees to our tomatoes, then who am I to argue with nature.

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This is a steamed dark chocolate & mint pudding ( I cooked this baby in a pot on the stove top). A simple prep, but of course I am all about a challenge, so I had to go and make those pesky but pretty chocolate mint leaves for the decoration! If I were to describe this dessert, my best answer would be, like biting into a piece of spongy marshmallow without the sweetness of course!

Can someone please notify the CIA, someone has to pay dearly with his good name for this luscious chocolate thingy! Yeah, baby, this is criminal!

I did mean the Culinary Institute, what were you thinking?

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Cherries ( or whatever the heck this is!). This berry was already growing in the backyard before we took up residence here. Anyway, it has a big seed in the middle and has a  slightly sour taste and so I cooked  about a handful together with craisins in a tangy chutney.

N.B. The Denver Botanic gardens got back to me and told me that these are actually chokecherries! Apparently, these make great jams/chutneys etc…. so I was on the right track.

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This is a  “Craisin” good,  Nazarina’s special masala ( paprika},  roasted turkey tenderloin with a drunken  ( Pink Lady) apple slaw. This turkey takes only 40 minutes to bake and is so’ stinkin” good, your family would want to eat it everyday! It is moist and tender and the cherry and craisin chutney are a perfect complement to this dish. So to this dish there are three of my favorite recipes…….1) Craisin & cherry vinaigrette with a twist! ( gingerly toss the crispy apple strips), 2) Craisin & cherry chutney made with honey ( to baste the turkey loins) and 3)  the paprika roasted turkey tenderloin

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Cucumbers, where pickling is the least of your culinary capabilities!

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Roasted jalapeno (seeds removed) flavored DAHI.  I added some  other surprising twists to this cucumber raita as well . You would say, “Why did I not think of this?”

Sorry Mom, could not resist bringing the Dahi into the new millennium. This is truly mod & daring cuisine!

This is an accompaniment to Briyani and pappadoms , but my family loves  it as a refreshing summer soup as well.

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All he ever says is Mmmmmmmmmm!!!!

Well, Mmmm yourself, you little cutie petudie!

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Recipes (Please use organic ingredients when possible)

Mint chocolate steam pudding with chocolate leaves

(cooked in a pot of simmering water)

  • 3.5oz ( 50% dark Lindt) chocolate (the whole bar) & another bar for the leaves and the sauce.
  • quarter cup milk
  • 7 oz chocolate cake crumbs / or I just thought of ladyfinger biscuit crumbs ( Boudoir biscuits) ! I am definitely going to use the ladyfinger crumbs, the next time I make another steam pudding! How ingenious of me! Don’t mind if I pat myself on the back! LOL!
  • quarter cup sugar
  • 2oz unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • quarter tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract

Method

Steep the milk on low with 2 mint leaves then melt the 3.5 oz chocolate via a “bain Marie” method, stirring gingerly until smooth and set aside. Cream the butter with the sugar until creamy and then incorporate one egg yolk at a time. Add the vanilla and peppermint and blend.  Add the melted chocolate to the cake crumbs and mix. Fold this mixture into the creamed butter, sugar & egg-yolk mixture. With an electric beater, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until fairly stiff and the fold into the chocolate mixture. Spoon this batter into a 4 cup, lightly greased  pudding mold and close with the lid/ or you can use any pudding mold.

Immerse the  pudding mold into a pot,  pour cold water halfway up the mold and then remove the  mold. Bring this water to a boil and then turn the burner on low. Place the pudding mold back into the boiling water, set on an overturned heatproof plate, and place the lid on and then cook on a slow simmer for 75 minutes. This will come out of the mold easily if you cool on a rack for 20 minutes and loosen the edges with a knife.

To make the leaves:

Melt some chocolate in a bain Marie , thickly paint the underside of a mint leaf with chocolate and allow to dry and cool in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Do not let the chocolate spill over to the other side of the leaf, this will make it difficult to do your next step!  Carefully pull the leaf off the hardened chocolate.

Or just dip the leaves in the chocolate, harden and get on with the recipe!

Thanks for being the subjection to a long and hopefully not a  tedious post!

Love,

Nazarina.

A cute napkin fold, baked potato bonda, chili pesto & a great giveaway!

Written by Nazarina on April 30th, 2010

How to make food soar!

On the agenda today:

napkin folds, bonda ( baked recipe), pesto recipe & a giveaway!

May 13th: We shuffled all the names and Teresa was the lucky winner of this giveaway. Congrats to Teresa!

A huge giveaway from Bob’s Red Mill!

Bob’s Red mill is giving away a box containing several packs of different kinds of their stone ground flour to a lucky person out there. Yes, not just one but several! In order to win this awesome gift, just leave me a comment and voila this box will find its way to your door! Imagine all the nutritious and fun things you can bake and use in your stove top dishes with these superior products! For me there can be no other, so get with the “grind” you’ll, get with Bob’s Red Mill!

See also other recipes in previous posts using Bob’ Red Mill!

Thank you Bob’s Red Mill!

BTW, the winner of  the spa soap basket giveaway  was Jo, of Literally in the moment, as mentioned at the end of my previous post! I am working on another basket for yet another lucky person, so check back with me! Also there will be another giveaway from Bob’s Red Mill but you will have to come up with a simple recipe using their flour.  I shall let you know more about this later!

Is this not a cute napkin?  See the super easy “how-to” below! I swear your little child will be able to make this napkin fold!!! Guests will really find them amusing! Now, even the guests at the B&B are learning the whole’ napkin folding thing” and they often e-mail me, saying that they get rave reviews from friends and family when they put it into practice back home.

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Baked potato bonda with chili & pistachio pesto. Typically, this hors d’ oeuvre is fried but here I put my own spin on it by rolling the potato dough into balls, poking a hole in it with the back of a wooden spoon & baking it.  I did not mix the garbanzo flour with water like in the traditional recipe.

This crispy potato had a  golden brown “skin” and a silky soft interior. The little hole was a perfect place to hide my tasty chili pesto. Yeah, potatoes are real peasant food, but when presented and baked in this chic way, will make even those food snobs stop looking down their snotty noses!

Made with Bob’s Red Mill stone ground  Garbanzo bean flour!

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Chili & pistachio pesto, (creamy, slightly spicy and a nutty accompaniment), I have coated shrimp, smeared under the skin of whole chicken and prepared several other meats & seafood with this  pesto and then grilled or baked! Just thin out just a touch with water for this purpose! Use your culinary realm of imagination!

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How to fold the napkin

  • Iron the napkin
  • Bring the upper & lower edges horizontally together to meet in the center
  • Put finger on the center and open out each of the four corners diagonally from that center point like in the picture below

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  • Roll the left side of the napkin vertically toward the center point and place something on this fold, while you roll up the right side toward the left to meet in the center.
  • Fold back the upper section to form the arms of the person.
  • Turn the napkin over and gently pull the arms apart.
  • Slide the handle of the spoon in the folds in the back of the little person like in the presentation above.

Please use organic ingredients when possible

How to make the baked potato bonda:

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill stone ground garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 t pure pickle masala or Hungarian sweet paprika ( I always put about 2 teaspoons just because I am crazy for spice that way!)
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 2 lbs potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 T ” Tofutti” brand cream cheese( a soy product & available at Whole Foods and Sunflower Market) or you can use regular
  • 2 T Tofutti sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Silk soy milk or regular dairy
  • 1 T unsalted butter (optional)
  • 3 T chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons bell pepper seeds ( optional)

Do not overwork the dough!!! Just incorporate and be done with it! Do you want stiff balls , then practice being light-handed!

Mix the first 3 ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water, until soft, drain the water, and put back on a low heat so that the potatoes are dry. Add the butter, cream cheese and milk and mash. Take off the heat and mix in the garlic,bell pepper seeds and cilantro and check your seasoning. Roll the mashed potato into little balls and poke with the back of a wooden spoon and place on a cookie sheet, see below.

potato-bonda

Chill in  the refrigerator for half an hour. Brush with egg wash and lightly sprinkle with the garbanzo mixture. I put the garbanzo bean mixture in a sifter and sifted over the potatoes. This will ensure a lighter coating. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 45 mins until golden brown. Immediately fill the little cavities with chili pesto and serve

For the green chili and pistachio pesto:

  • 1 x 7oz can green chilies
  • 1 t pure pickle masala
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c pistachios plus 1/4 c pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 t basil
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T salad oil
  • a little kosher salt to taste.

Blend everything in a blender and refrigerate the leftovers!

Are these really pears?? See recipe on my old blog! You will be surprised to see what they really are!

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Thanks for your visit! Don’t forget to leave the comment for the giveaway!

Much love,

Nazarina.

Easter eggs & bunnies, a bunny napkin fold & a giveaway!!

Written by Nazarina on April 5th, 2010

My old blog www.giddygastronome.blogspot.com

How to make soap whimsical!

A zero calorie post LOL!

See details of the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post! I think you will love this giveaway!

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Easter  week-end. I wanted to post this yesterday but could not make it, so hope you will still enjoy and a happy Easter Monday to ya! Actually, Easter Monday, in many countries, is considered part of the celebration of Easter and many stores are closed for business!

If you have followed my blog in the past, then you know by now that I make my own soaps as well!  As usual, I was busy  making Easter goodies for the B & B and making these egg and bunny soaps kept me very busy. These had to go in all of the bathrooms for the guests and they got to take them all home ! So naturally none of the guests wanted to use them because they wanted to take them home untarnished ha! ha!

We have two more ski week-ends & then the slopes will be closing down for this winter. Normally during the summer, it is a winding down of tourists visiting the mountains here in Colorado, but trust me the flora and fauna are breathtaking as well.

A few speckled eggs as well! ( The speckled hens are amiss, but who cares as long as the bunnies are hanging around)!

I made the “speckled” eggs by dipping an old tooth brush in  plant based dye and flicked the toothbrush with my finger over some of the eggs. I used several rod iron garden pedestals to display the soaps.

“Just because we are speckled, we are no different to the rest & definitely deserve a spot in the nest, in fact our shells are a lot tougher!” LOL!

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The kids loved the ceramic bunny which held the eggs in its tummy. I had to buy 10 of these ceramic bunnies, filled with my  soap & wrapped in cellophane for the guests. Some of the fragrances I used were,… lily of the valley, sweet pea, honeysuckle, “Irish spring type”, lavender, green apple, pineapple…etc and not to leave out the males, I used “Polo designer fragrance.”

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These bunny napkin folds looked real pretty on the dinner table! I shall try to post some of the dishes I made  in a future post. I think a sense of whimsy and attention to detail stimulate the senses and would make any meal memorable! Don’t you think it rather ridiculous that the guests refused to wipe  their hands with these napkins?

Bunnies to me are the epitome of spring, so this napkin fold is not only for Easter, but will work for any spring decor!

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How to fold the bunny napkin

Use thin fabric & I think the brighter the napkin the better but for this table setting, I used a creamy colored napkin.

  • Spray starch on a square napkin
  • Iron the napkin
  • Fold upper & lower edges toward center
  • Iron flat again
  • Bring bottom edge up to top edge thus folding napk. in half
  • Fold right side of napkin up form the center point so that the folded edge is vertical
  • Fold the layers of the top right corner diagonally down to center
  • Repeat these steps to the left side as well to form a diamond shape
  • Fold right hand upper edge down to the vertical center line and do the same with the left side
  • Hold the pleats in place and fold the bottom point up behind the “2 ears” ( this forms a triangle)
  • Take the right corner, roll over to the left  “ear” at the back of the head and tuck it into the base pocket on the left side
  • Turn napkin around and open the “face” of the bunny

A giveaway! (I shall mail this anywhere!) I shall announce the winner on Sunday!

Leave me a comment and I shall mail you a  basket of different handmade soaps and bath salts & face towels. Do not fret if you are not the lucky winner this time because from time to time I shall have another giveaway, so more chances of winning! BTW, check my side panel on the bottom for more of my soap designs and on my old  blog here ! My soaps are made from shea & mango butters, olive oil and goats milk. I use different essential oils and fragrances as well & they do not contain alcohol that would dry out your skin! This will be a random drawing, so anyone could be the winner!

Much love,

Nazarina.

Monday 12th The winner of this spa basket is Jo literally in the moment! Sorry guys, I could not get to this blog yesterday, I was super busy and exhausted,  so please forgive me! I shall have more cool giveaways soon!!! I had one of the guests write out all your names on pieces of paper, shuffled it all up and she withdrew the above winner!

It is my b/day today , so we are going out to celebrate!

Streusel topped pumpkin pie & a recipe for kumquat & loquat success!

Written by Nazarina on March 25th, 2010

Greetings!

How to make food soar!

On the agenda today:

A bedroom remodel & a date with a creamy pumpkin pie

My husband and I are undertaking this messy project. So far the only thing that I was good at was to search for TV stands . Hay, my name is not “giddy” for nothing! Sorry, I  will put my shoulder to the wheel when my sweetie gets mad LOL! Anyway, my  father-in-law has opted to buy the one that I like, the “Riley Holiday bedroom console” in an espresso color. Check it out and let me know whether I made the right choice!

My old blog www.giddygastronome.blogspot.com

At the B & B, I have the propensity to work freely and unwaveringly through this maze of culinary ideas, bottled up within me and it is this “waiting to get out” that is the only antidote to my restless soul. I am constantly making up dishes and preparing them purely from imaginary measures with the intention of bringing tasty and colorful dishes to life. I really want people to experience that same type of  enthusiasm when dining at my kitchen table or when reading my recipes. I want them to fall hopelessly in love with my cuisine and any fears of having  a “bad plate”, allayed. They should  have a pensive longing  for a dish that I made a “while ago” and console themselves with the thought that they will at least try to make it. This inconceivable need to feed others and not myself  is part of my innate and I find it  extremely hard to go against this selfless trait.  Am I freakin insane?

You are most probably thinking, ” Oh! boy, she is going off on us with her personal crap.” To that I answer, ” Can a girl  have a personal moment here please!”

In this recipe, it is the rice flour that gives these tarts that much loved “airiness.” These are pumpkin and cottage cheese tarts with a golden brown streusel & butterscotch whipping cream rosettes.

I had to laugh when one of the guests at the bed & breakfast said, ” My grandmother’ s pumpkin pie is fantastically stuck in time! I am so darn  sick of hearing her  story about a mythical pumpkin patch, which she has to hoe and  harvest in order for her pie to happen”. I hope she can take your queue!”

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I used a 7 inch spring form pan for the one below. This dough yields 4 small tarts and this 7 inch. The filling is made of light cottage cheese, fresh whipping cream, pumpkin…etc. I think it was the streusel that had this pie sold!

The scattered crumbs on the plate tells the story of a soft crunch and the melt-in-your-mouth filling will transport you to your “happy” place! As you know by now, I dislike overly sweet desserts, so naturally I manipulated the sugar content of this pie.

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Trust me, beneath my contemporary veneer, there is always a hankering for the traditional recipes, but not this time!

Lo and behold! I did  manage to get a small piece of this delectable pumpkin tart that I so lovingly slaved over! All I ever do is get to taste & then the whole thing disappears right from my reach! I  really loved this recipe, this is a keeper & will appear in my cook book. “Pile some more of that streusel on please!” was the overall consensus . I think I positively seduced even myself with this creamy filling and crunchy topping!

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Kumquat & Loquat sambal: Normally this sambal is only made with kumquats, but my innovating spirit begged me to add the loquats!  Serve this as an accompaniment to my savory stacked rice stick & shrimp cakes. See the post below for these cakes. Definitely, serve this sambal with grilled or Cajun fish, fish curry or any vegetarian dish.

This exciting concoction was succulent & tangy and a perfect complement to my rice noodle cakes. The rind of the kumquat was  sweet & the juicy centers,  a little sour and salty. This is by far my  most favorite sambal! My mouth is puckering with pure delight as I write this!

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Recipes:

Please use organic ingredients when possible

Kumquat & Loquat sambal (pickle). See post below for the savory rice stick cakes

  • 1 x 15 oz can pitted loquats, discard the juice & cut into small segments or use the fresh ones, but add these when you add the kumquats. Hay, anyone out there willing to swap some fresh ones for my beautiful handmade soaps?

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  • 6 oz fresh kumquats, washed and cut into segments
  • 1/3 c plus another 1/2 of a third cup organic honey
  • 1/4 c organic brown rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 1 t pure pickle masala, You are most probably thinking  that she would  brush her teeth with this spice, if there was no tooth paste, but I kid you not this stuff is “all that.”
  • juice of 2 tangerines or small oranges
  • 1 red thai chili chopped and deseeded
  • 4 curry leaves
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 1 T grapeseed oil / or any vegetable oil
  • 1 t yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 t white sesame seeds
  • 1 t black sesame seeds
  • little chopped cilantro

Method:

Heat the vinegar on high  in a saucepan, add the kumquats and cook until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer & cook   for about 4 more mins. until the rinds  of the kumquats become  seemingly soft. Now add the honey and stir the until the mixture becomes syrupy ( takes about 10 mins.) Add the masala & the tangerine juice and cook until incorporated ( 1 more minute).

Remove from heat and pour the contents into a bowl. Add the garlic slivers, red chili and the salt and incorporate & cool for a while. Now you can mix in your loquats. Meanwhile, in a separate pan , heat the grapeseed oil until hot, add the mustard seeds and wait until you hear the “popping” sound of the mustard seeds. Then, quickly add all the sesame seeds and the curry leaves. Pour the contents of this pan  over the kumquat mixture in the bowl. You can now spoon into little bottles, garnish with the cilantro  and refrigerate.

Much love and warmth from my kitchen,

Nazarina.

click here ! See the inside and the details of this fruit fondant cake at www.giddygastronome.com

Just add water to this fruit fondant powder and it turns any dessert into a delicious, fruity heaven!

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Mock moon cake & an unbelievably tasty, savory rice noodle cake!

Written by Nazarina on March 11th, 2010

Greetings!

Today on the menu, moon cake ; rice noodle

My old blog www.giddygastronome.blogspot.com

Please, visit Jo, ( Literally in the moment), and read her passionate stories about rescuing animals.


“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”…Chinese proverb

……. more like,  you will not have to listen to his incessant whining about how hungry he is LOL!

Okay, so I am a month late with the festivities of the Chinese Lunar New Year, but would still like to share with you my humble eats that I prepared at that time. My friend at the lodge wanted me to prepare a dessert and a savory hors d’ oeuvre for this  auspicious  occasion, so I prepared my own interpretation of the “moon cake” and my very own ( rice noodle) rice stick & shrimp savory cake  with a Cape Malay style loquat &  kumquat sambal on the side. I put a lot of thought in this menu!

I researched the ingredients of the “moon cake” and was rather skeptical that I  would like the final result. I have even seen some recipes with the addition of soy sauce for color. Nevertheless, I prepared the original recipe that came with the fish mold, ( received this mold as a Christmas gift),  and also developed my own version. I can just look at ingredients of a recipe and deduce whether it would be good or just plain unpalatable! This was  exactly what transpired, the original recipe was heavy and hard and unappealing! However, my version of the ” Chinese moon cookie” though not the authentic version, was by far the most delectable morsel you have ever put in your mouth. Even our Chinese guests agreed that these were delicious, though  very much to the dismay of  their antiquated notions, that I was not capable of making their recipe, palate proud!

My version of the ” Chinese Moon cookie” NB, the emphasis is on “mock” moon cookie.

So freakin good! You don’t know whether you want to eat it or embalm it! Who am I kidding, there was nothing left for a next day!

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Stacked rice stick and shrimp savory cakes with loquat & kumquat sambal ( pickle).  There was an exciting little twang with the addition of fresh lemon pepper ( see previous post) and the curry leaves to this savory & crispy cake!! The lightly spiced, yet sweet plump loquats and juicy kumquats combined, complemented the rice stick & shrimp cakes and played almost a culinary havoc with your taste buds! A naughty little twist on my Mama’s sambal recipe! The recipe for the sambal will appear in the next post.

My dad too, makes the most appetizing sambals!

My personal quest was to create  exciting flavors and  textures to make this gathering memorable. Indeed, this occasion  was  so v e r y  triumphant to say the least. NB, you could also omit the shrimp to make it vegetarian, and the rest of the ingredients of this savory cake are  gluten- free to boot, so very versatile for people with specific allergies.

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I decided to present the cookies in a fish bowl. Discerning gastronomes would agree that “novelty food” should be presented in a fun type of setting. These puffy, coco nutty, custardy &   melt-in-your-mouth cookies created quite a stir with both kids and adults! This recipe will be in my cook book!

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My version of this cookie had custard powder in the dough and a  Cape Malay type of cooked dessicated coconut ( Grandmother’s recipe) in the middle and then I  defiantly dipped the bottom in  melted intense dark 60% “evening dream” chocolate. This chocolate has a hint of Madagascan vanilla. Normally the authentic version of the moon cake calls for bean paste.

fish-cocon550

This is the original recipe below  which called  for “wong tong” sugar slabs, water, lemon peel, 1 and a 1/2 cups of oil and 6 cups of flour. It really does not look bad in its unbaked stage but when baked it just felt terribly heavy! The dough was also far too oily. Duh! just look at all the oil, it requires!

fish-7-cooked-coconut

This is my version below with the cooked dessicated coconut inside the belly of the fish and  English custard powder in the shortbread dough. It was light ( only 1/3 c of organic sugar) so not sweet at all and unsalted organic butter but most importantly, my dough kept the integrity of the design of the mold !

fish-unbaked

Recipes:

“How to make food soar!”

seafood:

As usual, please use organic ingredients when possible!

For the Rice vermicelli ( rice noodle) and shrimp savory cakes:

  • 8 oz “Kong Moon” rice vermicelli rice stick ( soak in boiling H2O for 5 mins.)
  • 8 oz cooked large shrimp, cut each shrimp in half crosswise
  • small onion finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots
  • Large jicama, peeled
  • 1/2 c  chopped green onion
  • a few fresh curry leaves ( for that distinct delicious flavor)
  • 1/2 c  cilantro ( this time leaves only)
  • red chili, seeds removed & diced
  • 5 cloves garlic ( pounded)
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup potato starch ( Bob’s Red Mill, unmodified, all natural). I adore this product!!!!
  • kosher salt ( 2 big pinches)
  • 1 T lemon pepper ( see my previous post)
  • 1 t pure pickle masala
  • 1 T red bell pepper seeds

Method:

Make it a vegetarian version by omitting the shrimp. All these ingredients are gluten-free as well!

Rinse the rice stick in cold water and dry on paper towels. It should not be mushy. Meanwhile, julienne the carrots (thin strips), slice the jicama, stack on top of one another and then julienne and toss with the rest of the ingredients, including the rice stick and the shrimp. Even if you stop right here and just have it as a cold type of salad, it would be delicious with all these flavors going on! Add the potato starch and toss lightly. Gingerly mix in the beaten egg with your hands without breaking up the shrimp and the rest of the ingredients so carefully julienned!

Take about a handful of the mixture and shallow fry in olive oil and a tablespoon of unsalted butter. Use a wide spatula to flatten like a pancake in the pan when cooking it . I also  used a thin spatula to aid in the flipping of the cake and cook until GB&D! Place on paper towels to drain. You could keep the cakes warm in the oven  warmer .

The recipe & more pictures  for the loquat and kumquat sambal will be featured in the next post. I promise, I shall try to post very soon, so do come back !

Much love as always,

Nazarina.

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