“Grown Up” Chocolate Chip Pancakes

You would think I get enough of pancakes since I make these at work everyday. This pancake is a grown up version of the chocolate chip pancakes that kids love, but with a gourmet twist. I’m guessing it won’t be sweet enough for the kids so that means more for you:) fin1This basic pancake recipe below is very cool, adding in the cornstarch really makes them fluffy and light. I almost always use kefir when a recipe calls for buttermilk, cause thats what I have in my fridge. Cocoa nibs are rad. get some. Ready?playasHere what you’ll need.

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  •  ½ 
cup cornstarch
  •  2 Tablespoons sugar
  •  2
 teaspoons baking powder
  •  ½ 
teaspoon baking soda
  •  1
 teaspoon kosher salt
  •  2
 cups plain kefir or buttermilk
  •  3 
Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  •  1 
large egg, beaten
  •  ½ cup Cocoa Nibs
  • Grapeseed oil for griddle
  • Maldon salt for finishing
  • Orange zest for finishing
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for finishing
  • Warm REAL Maple Syrup
  • dryWhisk dry ingredients together in a large bowlwetWhisk wet ingredients together in small bowlwet2dryWhisk wet into dry gently until just combined. add cocoa nibs, fold in carefully. rest for 30 minutes. don’t short cut on this. I’m serious, don’t be lazy, plan ahead and do it right….or else.griddleGet your griddle or pan HOT, cast iron is the best for pancakes, you get those crispy browned edges:) any pan will work of course. I use grapeseed oil for high heat cooking, but I was thinking coconut oil would probably be great for these pancakes, someone try it and let me know how it went. fin2K here’s the cool grown up part…..serve these with a drizzle of really good extra virgin olive oil instead of butter, warm maple syrup, sprinkling of cocoa nibs, maldon salt and orange zest! I personally love the chocolate orange combo….unlike my friend Amy aka Mighty Mouse….sooooo Amy tell me… how would you serve these up?….called you out girl. bring it….

       First blog post from my new mini kitchen, worked out pretty well if I say so myself.        How about some comment love people?!?!?! 

my world got tossed around a bit

Trying to think of an excuse for my lame ass blogging efforts as of late….fact is I’ve been straight up lazy in regards to my blog. I think about great ideas all the time…..like King Cakes! I made them for the first time and they came out completely amazing, but the moment passed to quickly, Fat Tuesday came and went….lazy…..or maybe I was too busy eating all the dang king cake! Besides being lazy…we moved into a new/old house. Our move was not planned and very sudden, kinda threw me into a tailspin…moving in December blows.

We are settling in nicely and enjoying our new space on the planet. The last three months have been a blur, but I did manage to have some fun, eat some great food and travel a bit. James has a proper studio now at the new house and he’s been painting more than ever.serraHere’s the new/old house Ole Hansen built in 1928, looked cute with old school christmas lights. James did a watercolor of it for our Christmas card….some of you may have received one :)2walkingOn Sunday mornings we walk downtown (2 blocks away) to shop the farmer’s market. Lily and Jim last Sunday, it was 84°, it was awesome.shroomanThe mushroom man was loaded up with tons of goodness.orchidmanThe Orchid man was full of beauties for sale, to bad I always kill orchids or I would have bought one.studioHere is Jim’s studio….ok its a garage…but its all Jim’s…he’s digging his man cave. I hung a disco ball the next day, looks way cooler now.rogueshowThe opening night for the Rogue Villain’s group show in Long Beach.jimopeningThe man and his latest piece…… EncroachmentmidgeThis was at Jim’s office Christmas party, I wasn’t there. Not much more to say about this.grinchdateThis was my date for the Grinch party. I love this little girl like crazy, she’s going to be 12 in about a minute…..please make it stop.TamalePart of what made December bearable was long-standing traditions like the Grinch Party and Tamale party. Time with my girls, bubbles and tamales is always a great day.tomerandmeReunion with one my oldest and dearest friends Tamara. such a treat, love her madly.snoopHanging at the Johnson’s before the Snoop Dog show, this is Aida and Joe…they rule!benmomMan Cub flew in to surprise Mom for her Birthday. I have no idea what they’re doing in this picture but it captures perfectly how goofy they are when they get together. good times.catloloCat, Lolo, Orin Swift, Chocolate Souffle. Birthday fun for Cat
snowgirlI went to Chicago in February…..yes you read that right. It was to be the girl weekend of all time. Lolo and I flying off to see Justin Timberlake and stay with Deb for 3 days. Last minute, illness took Lolo down and I found myself flying solo. It was a great trip, Deb and I held up the girlie fun as best we could, but oh did we miss Lolo……the squeals just weren’t loud enough without her. Justin was perfect, like always.beefhenriLunch at Henri in a snow storm…quite the adventure getting to this bowl of amazing. Their take on Beef Bourguignon. Seriously amazing.tacomariaThis is Taco Maria in Costa Mesa CA…..OMG people. Go here. Do it. You’ll thank me.kingcakesKing Cakes!!CBhashMy special for St. Pats day at work. So good. Corned Beef HashcardsAHI don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard, this game rules!

Next post…recipe…I swear. Love ya!

It’s almost cookie season…..

Hi…..It’s Sarah……remember me?

I know, I know the radio silence has been deafening lately. I’m back to some sort of normal life again so here I am ready to pay attention to this lovely little blog I created. While trying to figure out what to share, I was looking back at the last additions I’d made to my blog. I quickly realized a lot has happened and time has gone by so quickly! It looks as though I stopped posting right when I cut off the tip of my finger while working at the Montage. Man that was a bummer, my first trip to an ER…EVER! The finger situation had nothing to do with my absence on the blog, but working my ass off at the Montage did. Oh the Montage, my time at the Loft. Culinary boot camp is one way to describe it, shit show was sometimes mentioned, killing it, digging your ass out of the weeds, a blur, a blast, insanity….never boring and always exciting. The food was amazing, the Chefs were talented and so generous with their talent. I met great people while I was there and consider myself lucky to have spent time with them. Here’s a look at some of the crew I rolled with.IMG_4906Ben, Josh, Manny, Dylan, Spencer and Mike. Gary 86′d me on my last night. Wonder if they miss me….

I’m sure most of you know by now that I’ve moved on from the Montage. In late August I got a call from the Casa Laguna Inn and Spa asking me to come back as Executive Chef. I accepted the position, made a graceful exit from the Loft and jumped head first into my new role. Within 2 weeks I created a new menu, hired crew, had a menu tasting, launched my new menu and its all been going great since. Already working on the winter menu launching in early December.

k enough about me… wasn’t I talking about cookie season???IMG_4907This is the best almond cookie ever and even though she is blurry in this picture, Lily is the best dog ever. I got this recipe from my Dad, he used to make tons of these as gifts for all the nurses that cared for him back when he had his old lungs. Now he makes them for all the nurses and doctors that follow the progress with his new lungs:) I make them all the time for friends, for gifts, for parties and to help people feel better…….

What you will need:IMG_4882

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons almond extract

3 eggs separated – 2 white together 1 whole egg and 2 yolks

3/4 cup finely chopped almonds

2 2/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

48 whole almonds

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.IMG_4884Add the 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg & the extractsIMG_4883IMG_4885beat until eggs are incorporated and fluffy. add nuts.IMG_4889add flour and salt, mixing quickly but not too much, until all is blended well.IMG_4892With a scooper portion out all the dough into 1 inch balls or roll in your hand, dip them in the unbeaten egg whites. Place a whole almond in the center top of each cookie, brush the almond with more egg white and sprinkle your favorite salt on top. I use either pink salt or maldon salt.IMG_4893ready to bake at 375 for 13-15 minutesIMG_4895The egg white glazes the cookies, the center is soft, rich and nutty. Seriously a great cookie. I’ve changed the recipe a bit from my Dad’s, no doubt I’ll hear about it from Dad.

Summer was a blur, besides getting my ass kicked at the Loft most days, I did find the time for fun stuff. A beautiful family wedding in Santa Cruz, JT & JZ with my Lolo, Yosemite with my Jim and a few rare beach days.

What have y’all been up to?

Pine Nut Tart

fin2This is April’s take on a treacle tart, a favorite English dessert. The magic ingredient is Lyle’s Golden Syrup…..it’s Happy and Glorious, says so right on the can…love it.LylesWhen I started this project, I had a crazy list of items to be on the lookout for, things not normally found in American grocery stores. Lyle’s was on that list of course. My girl LoLo found me some and I scored some up in Seattle. Fun story about trying to get “a liquid filled cylindrical can” through security…totally spaced that it was in my carry on. It took about 5 “bosses” to realize that it was just a can of sugar, they were kind about it…thankfully.

Here is what you will need

Crust is same one used for the Banoffee Pie, click here to see it again. Bake the tart shell in a 9″ fluted tart pan with parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans for 15 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown in a 350° oven.  No need to bake further after weights are removed.

Filling

1/2 cup of pine nuts

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup coarse bread crumbs, I cheated and used panko

one 454 gram can Lyle’s Golden Syrup

2 tablespoons heavy cream

finely grated zest of 4 large lemons

1/4 cup fino sherry, I used whatever sherry I had in the cupboard

1/2 teaspoon Maldon salttartfixinsToast the pine nuts in a small saute pan.toastnutsUntil golden browned edges appear, careful these toast up fast. Do not walk away from them. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and let them cool. syrupAdd the remaining filling ingredients and whisk until really combined. zestnutsbeforeRight before you pour the filling into the shell, stir it up and pour in evenly. Bake at 350° for 25 to 35 minutes or until center is slightly jiggly. afterLet it cool a bit then slice and enjoy. Serve with vanilla ice cream, clotted cream or whoop cream aka whipped cream.yumbite

The mix of the lemon zest with the sherry and the sweet of the syrup and the soft richness of the pine nuts is glorious and it will make you happy…..just like the Lyle’s can says.

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt, Eggs and Mint

fin2Look at that! Rich tangy tomato sauce, tender perfect meatballs, creamy egg yolk, cool plain yogurt and refreshing mint. I figured this dish would be fun to make with a team of friends, so I enlisted some of my fav foodies. What a blast we had cooking, sipping wine and laughing. They were all amazing helpers, which allowed me to get some good photos. Thanks to Lauren, Cathie and Stuart for all your help. You all are welcome to come cook with me anytime!

Here is what you will need.

Meatballs

2 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces

2 1/2 tablespoons maldon salt

1/2 pound (about 2 cups) fine bread crumbs

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Sauce

1 large spanish onion, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon maldon salt

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground

2 dutch or other spicy long red chilies, pierced with a sharp knife

One 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, drained, trimmed and squished with your hands….San Marzano’s are the best.

1/2 cup or more of whole milk greek yogurt

4 large eggs

Finishing

small handful of mint

small handful of delicate cilantro sprigs

extra virgin olive oil

You will also need a meat grinder, the attachment for the kitchen aid stand mixer works perfectly. April says grinding the meat yourself will produce a light, airy and delicate ground meat. Commercially ground meat is over worked, sticky and paste like. She was right, the meatballs came out amazingly tender and light. I will forever grind my own meat:)

First step – place cubed lamb meat into a bowl and set in freezer for an hour or so until the edges get crunchy and slightly frozen.lambcoldToss the cubed meat with salt and the bread crumbs. Grind the meat through the medium dielambgrind1Run it through again on the same medium die. Nice job Cathie! Raw meat never really photographs well, but this looks cool.lambgrind3Before you start rolling out your meatballs, sear one off to check for seasoning. At this point you could add more salt if needed. Once you’re comfortable with the seasoning, start shaping your balls.balls1Perfectly shaped balls by Stuartballs3Now its time to brown the balls. Sear them on all side, do not cook them through. Let them rest to the side while you make the sauce.spice1Toast the cumin and corianderspice2Grind in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinderspice3Grind to a fine powder, some larger bits are ok for texturesauce1Over a high heat saute the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, then add the ground spices . Add pierced chilies (I couldn’t find long red chilies so I used green ones) and the squished tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes then add 4 cups of water, bring to boil, turn down to a low simmer for 5 minutes.sauce2

Cathie loved squishing the tomatoes :)sauce3Add the seared meatballs into sauce and simmer slowly for 30 minutes.sauce4After 30 minutes, add blobs of yogurt and the eggs. Simmer on low for about 10 more minutes, this will poach the eggs and leave them with firm whites and runny yolks. Check the eggs at 5 minutes to see how they’re coming along, strain them out when the eggs are the way you like them, cooked soft or hard, your choice. I like runny yolks. Sprinkle the cilantro and mint torn in small pieces over the whole stew. Finish with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.fin1Check out the eggs cooked, hard white runny yolks. perfect!fin3Make yourself a bowl and eat immediately. The recipe made a ton, easily enough for 6 people, I had doubled it so everyone got balls to take home. I had so much fun making this with my friends, its a great group effort dish. Grab your family/friends and settle in for an afternoon of cooking and great eating.cheersCheers!!!

Where have I been….?

I was on a good roll there for the month of February…..and then things changed, more on that later. In early March my darling Son and I met in Seattle to visit family, cook, blog and have fun. I had a plan to bust out several of the seafood recipes in April’s book. Seattle is teaming with the best from the ocean. My beautiful and wickedly smart sister works in Pike Place Market so I knew she could guide me to the best of the best for ingredients. She has a very keen sense for seeking out the best places to eat. Every single spot she has every recommended has been special, unique and amazing in some way. kidnsisThis is my Kid and my Sister, aren’t they amazingly gorgeous people? This day started out a bit blurry for the three of us. To sooth our fuzzy heads we had breakfast at Le Pichet, a lovely little french bistro near the market.amforchampsPate and wine for breakfast?? YES! The kid had the baked eggs, see them all blurry in the back of the photo? The first time I had them I was hooked, came home and blogged my own version. I later created another version that was mentioned in a New York Times article last summer via my contribution to the summer 2012 Casa Laguna Inn breakfast menu. octoMy Sister toured me around to all her favorite vendors at the market to search out the items I had planned to cook/blog for April’s book.crabcrowd My plans suddenly came to a halt. The first day I arrived, my brother came by the family home looking very sick, he had been struggling with something for a while. Not having health insurance he didn’t seek care thinking he would overcome whatever bug had grabbed him and taken him down. His appearance was a shock to us all and we urged him to see a doctor right away. He was in pain, had lost weight and looked worn down and tired. Within the four days that we were in town, he saw a doctor at a clinic in his neighborhood, was rushed in an ambulance to the hospital downtown and admitted to the  oncology floor…….wtf?!?!rainer

This is the view from his hospital room on the first day he was admitted. That is Mount Rainer off in the distance, clear blue skies in Seattle…rare. So we wait and wait to find out what is going on. Tests and more tests… so many questions? no answers. waiting…..
Pizzelle

This is me and my Brother. I love him dearly. He is currently in the fight of his life, he has been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It all happened so fast, on a Friday he was admitted to the hospital and on Monday he started his first round of chemo.

Why are we still pumping cancer patients with toxic poison?

When I returned home and started to rethink some things in my life, as most do when served up news like this, more change came along. I have left Casa Laguna Inn and I am now working at the Montage Laguna Beach in the Loft as a line cook doing dinner. This new job is pushing me further and faster in my experience and education. So as for blogging April’s book, I still am but a much slower pace. The cooking and photo taking is still going on but posting has been slowed by my new schedule. Working nights is quit the adjustment for me. I rarely see my husband, family or friends, but it feels right, I’m busy…learning tons everyday. It’s good to be busy. I need to be busy now.

My brother is going through treatments and we wait and wait for good news. Send your white light, good vibes and all your positive energy out into the universe for him please.

Next up Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt, Eggs and Mint…….

Pancakes with Bacon and Chili

Yes you read that right…Pancakes, Bacon and Chilies OH MY!PCdone3Look at these! So pretty all stacked up with salty bacon on top, glistening with syrup and a sprinkling of pequin chilies. I was alone when I made these and I was seriously talking out loud to myself about how f*cking great they tasted. The sweet, salty, spicy blend was perfect! They really are more like crepes, but April calls them pancakes. I’ve made crepes for my son Ben his whole life, he is going to flip his lid when he tries these! I kind of feel like James and the goat cheese souffle….where have these been all my life? I LOVE the stacked and slice it like a pie way to serve it. Genius April!

Here is what you will need

For the Batter

1/2 pound of all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cup)

kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 3/4 cups milk

3/4 cup water

4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

For the Pancakes

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and bit more for finishing

12 slices of bacon

maple syrup

dried pequin chilies

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with the salt. Make a well and crack the eggs into the well.eggwellSlowly add the milk and water, whisk until smooth. Add 4 tablespoons melted butter and whisk again. Batter will be liquidy.smoothbatterMelt the remaining butter and set aside. Ready your pan, I used a 6″ non stick saute pan, April called for an 8″ pan, use whatever you have, non stick is key. butterpanAdd a scant teaspoon of the melted butter to your hot pan, add about 2 tablespoons of the batter and quickly swirl it around so it covers the bottom of the pan like a crepe. The pan should be hot enough so the batter cooks up quickly and browns the edges within a minute or so. When you see browned edges, flip it over. There are two ways to do this, flip it in the pan with a quick jerk of your wrist while tossing it up and back to catch it. Or you can grab the edge of the pancake and flip it with your hands or use a spatula. Do whatever works for you, once you get your groove going, you’ll start kicking them out pretty fast. Add new melted butter each time you make a new one. Repeat until all the batter is gone. It was hard to photo this part, since I was alone, so the pictures don’t really show the detail I’m trying to share. I hope I am explaining this well and I wish you luck. Don’t get discouraged, keep at it, you will want to eat these. PCcookThis is color you’re looking for on the pancake.PCstackThis is the thinness you’re looking for. Stack them on a plate and keep warm in the oven. While all your pretty cooked pancakes stay warm in the oven, cook up the bacon.PCdone2Cut the stacked pancakes like a pie and serve with real maple syrup, bacon and chopped pequin chilies. Oh My God! you’ll die these are so dang good!

Goat Cheese Souffle

Recipe 14 of 103

Souffle’s are decadently light and airy, like eating a cloud of cheese. Souffles can be very tricky to make. It’s the balance of perfectly folded egg whites into a smooth creamy mixture of flour, butter, milk, yolks and cheese for a savory souffle or sugar for a sweet souffle. You will achieve success with this souffle, I promise…if you do what I say via April’s brilliant recipe. This dish can be treated as a starch side dish instead of potatoes or polenta. It also shines on its own as a main dish served with a side salad. My husband James had one comment for this souffle “where has this been all my life?” :) He really enjoyed it!

Here is what you will need

Preheat oven to 350°

1/2 cup unsalted marcona almonds or regular blanched almonds

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp plus more for the baking dish

2 cups whole milk   –  YES whole milk

1 teaspoon finely grated garlic, preferably with a microplane (about 3 cloves)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 cup AP flour

1/2 pound fresh goat cheese

4 large eggs, yolks and whites separatedalmonds

Toast the almonds in a small saute pan over medium heat until golden brown, let them cool. I used regular blanched almonds.grindnutsFinely grind the almonds in a food processorbutteralmondsGenerously butter your casserole baking dish (2 qt with at least 2″sides) and coat with the ground almonds, making sure to get all the sides and bottom evenly. Set aside.garlicgratedGrate the garlic like this. In a sauce pot add the milk, garlic, salt and bring to a boil.spiltmilkDon’t be a spazz like me and let your milk boil over…ugh! I hate it when this happens. As soon as the milk mixture boils, remove from heat right away and pour into a heat proof measuring cup.rouxIn a nice clean pot, melt butter until frothy and add flour.roux2Whisk together until fully incorporated, cooking on a low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. This is called a roux.rouxandmilkOn a low heat add 1/2 cup at a time of the hot milk mixture to the roux, whisking vigorously to incorporate. It will thicken right away and lump up a bit, don’t worry, get to whisking and it will smooth out. Cook for about 5 minutes, add half the goat cheese and stir until melted. Set aside and let cool. addyolksAdd the yolks to the cooled cheesy mixturewhipwhites Whip the whites to stiff peaksfoldedwhitesFold the whites into your smooth cheesy mixture, very carefully. Try your best not to deflate all that air you whipped into those whites. If there are bits of egg white still showing, no biggie, just go with it. bakereadyPour the batter into your prepared casserole dish and crumble the remaining goat cheese over the top. Ready a bain-marie, set the baking dish in a larger baking pan with a dish towel on the bottom and fill with boiling water half way up your casserole. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour or until its puffed up and golden brown.souffledoneLike this!! Golden brown goodness! The best part for me is the crispy nutty almond crust. So good! I made this early in the day, let it cool completely, wrapped in plastic and chilled in fridge. I reheated for dinner in a 325° oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, it puffed right back up and it was amazingly perfect.

Green Pea and Ham Soup


Recipe 13 of 103

How about some soup?

PeaSoup01

photo by Jenny

Creamy, earthy, sweet and savory green pea soup with lovely chunks of smoked ham hock. April has you make a ham stock with smoked ham hocks. So lets chat about ham hocks for a moment. The ham hocks you get at a regular grocery stores are smoked and cured, usually all bone, very little meat and that weird overly cured pink color making them very salty. If you can avoid these, please do so, this way you can control the flavor of your soup and it won’t taste like curing salt. Try to find fresh smoked ham hocks, whole foods whole paycheck has them or most good butchers should too. Cooking beans all day with the cured smoked hocks works very well, they stand up to each other much better, but for this soup, you want the delicate pea flavor to shine.

Here is what you will need

For the Broth/Stock

2 pounds meaty smoked ham hocks

1/2 medium spanish onion or any yellow onion

3 small celery stocks

1/2 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 head of garlic, halved horizontally, not peeled

1 fresh bay leaf or 1/2 a dried bay leaf

6 black peppercorns

Combine hocks, veggies, bay leaf, peppercorns and 8 cups of water in a stock pot and simmer for 4 to 5 hours. hamstockThe meat on the hocks should be tender and falling off the bone. Remove the hocks to a big bowl, strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into the same bowl and let the hocks cool in the liquid. When the hocks are cooled, remove all the meat, discarding any fatty hard bits. If you’re lucky and you get hocks with the skin still on them, reserve the skin after cooking and crisp them up in the broiler for a crunchy garnish. Since the hocks I got weren’t cured they needed some salt. I salted mine and crisped them in the broiler. You can make the broth/stock a day or two ahead. hamhockmeat

For the Soup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 medium spanish onion or any yellow onion

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 teaspoons maldon salt

1/2 cup dry white wine, sauvignon blanc would work nicely

five finger pinch of fresh mint leaves and more torn leaves for finishing

2 10oz packages of frozen peas

extra virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

3 -4 tablespoons creme fraiche

PeaSoup02

photo by Jenny

Melt the butter in a large pot, add the onions, carrots and salt. Cover and cook, stirring every now and then until onions are creamy and carrots are tender but still firm. about 15 minutes.

PeaSoup04

photo by Jenny

Add the wine and bring to a boil. Let the wine boil until it’s all but gone, about 5 minutes.

PeaSoup05

photo by Jenny

Add 4 cups of broth (freeze the remainder for another batch of soup) bring to boil. Look at that lovely ham hock broth!

PeaSoup06

photo by Jenny

Add the mint and frozen peas. Cook at a simmer for about 5 minutes until peas are warmed and tender.IMG_3264Puree soup with an immersion blender right in the pot or transfer in batches and puree in a blender. Add the ham chunks (save some for garnishing) back into the soup and simmer until the ham is warmed. Check seasoning, depending on how salty your hocks were, you may need more salt.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, a few mint leaves, chunk of ham and a big dollop of creme fraiche. YUM! nothing like home-made soup.

Carrot, Avocado and Orange Salad

Recipe 12 of 103

Avocado…Yes

Oranges…Yes

Carrots…..Meh

My history with carrots starts when my skin turned orange at the wee age of 18 months, after being fed too much carrot juice when my Mom received a juicer for Christmas. Thinking I had jaundice she took me to the doctor, he said slow down on the carrot juice. Simple mistake. Simple remedy. The next carrot drama was the shredded carrot salad with raisins. Why was this every where in the 70′s?  Most of you know raisins and me do  not get along, so this salad would never make it in my world. Maybe its the raisins fault carrots flew off my radar? As I grew older I made my peace with carrots, but sadly most carrots today taste like crap unless you get them from a friends garden or a good local organic market. I have found that roasting carrots makes them sweeter and more tolerable,  so I was thrilled to see in this recipe that were going to be roasted.

The textures and flavors in this salad are surprisingly compatible. The cumin, coriander and garlic roasted carrots become as soft and luscious as the avocado and the oranges pair well with all the players.

Here is what you will need

Preheat oven to 400°

4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

maldon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground

1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground

1 1/2 teaspoons pequin chilies crumbled

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons

30 or so baby/young carrots, scrubbed with an inch of tops left on or scrub 10 regular sized carrots and cut into small sticks about the size of your index finger

3 oranges, try to get valencia oranges, they are lovely right now

3 ripe haas avocados or try the fuerte avocado they are amazing!

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

a handful of small cilantro sprigs

dryroastStart by toasting the spices in a small saute pan over medium high heat, careful not to burn them. When you start smelling their aroma, they’re done. Set aside and let cool.toastyspices

Add the spices to a mortar and pestle and grind until it resembles a corse powder, reserve in large mixing bowl. garlicrushWipe out the mortar and pestle, add the garlic and salt together and smash until it resembles a paste. dressingAdd the chilies, garlic and olive oil to the mixing bowl with the ground spices. Mix well. Toss the prepped carrots in the dressing and coat well while adding 3 healthy pinches of salt as you toss. Place carrots in a baking dish so they’ll all settle in a single layer. Scrap out all the spiced oil from the bowl and drip it over the carrots. Pour 1/4 cup of water into an open area of the pan so you don’t wash off all the lovely spiced oil, cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes.rawdoneafter the first 15 minutes, remove foil and continue to cook another 15-20 minutes. You want the carrots soft like the texture of an avocado but not falling apart. Let them cool a bit.segmentTime to segment the oranges, the above picture is a little visual on how to do this. Does it make sense? If not watch this, it takes practice so don’t get too discouraged on your first try, keep at it. Segment your oranges over a bowl and keep the juiceavosNow ready your avocados, slice in long pieces, add the lemon juice, the orange juice from the segmented oranges and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large mixing bowl.tossitToss the roasted carrots with the avocados, coating with the juices and the spicy mixture on the carrots, add the oranges and toss gently, careful not too break up the avocado too much. saladoneStack all the items together and top with cilantro leaves. Enjoy the color, texture and spicy kick this salad has to offer. Avocados and oranges are in full swing here in So Cal, get out to a farmers market and make this happen, you won’t regret it.