Spring Cookies !!!

While I was relaxing with coffee and the food network this morning, Giada got me all fired up as she usually does.
She was making Lemon Ricotta Cookies ! 

They looked so good, my mission was set for the day. She was making them for a care package to send to her niece who just went off to college. I’ll make them for my peeps at the office.
Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cookies:
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
Line a baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. 
Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.
These were delicious ! Light and cake like, so yummy. Bright lemon flavor, so fresh and springy !

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Pasta Salad w/ Chicken

It was totally amazing super warm weather this weekend, so I thought a cool Pasta Salad dinner would be easy and appropriate for outdoor dinning. We are just starting to deal with our backyard, in regards to setting up a space to kick it. We finally got some outdoor furniture !!  Love it.

I was winging it when I made this, so I’ll do my best to relay the recipe as best as I can.


2 chicken breasts on the bone with skin
1/2 lb pasta, your choice.
1/2 cup each of chopped gold, red and orange bell peppers.
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 cup rough chopped blanched green beans
1 cup blanched petite peas-rock fresh peas if you’ve got them, if not use frozen-never use canned peas-ever.
Salt and pepper 


Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3  rice wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons  lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons minced shallots
Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400. Rinse and dry your chicken breasts, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Bake in an oven safe dish for about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your breasts. Skin should be browned and juices will run clear from the cooked chicken. 



Set aside to cool for deboning. 
Get your pasta water boiling in a large pot and add enough salt to the water so it taste like the ocean. 
In a smaller pot, but not tiny, boil more water for blanching, salt this one normally, not like ocean.
While the waters are boiling, get to chopping the bells, green onions and shallots. When the smaller pot has a good rolling boil, add the frozen peas for 4-5 minutes only, strain out with a slotted spoon and set aside. I should have a picture here for you but I don’t, sorry. When you get all the peas out, then add the green beans – you may want to trim them, it’s your call – boil- blanch these for 5-6 minutes, strain these and set aside. 



Add your pasta to the salted ocean like water and cook as long as package says to al dente.
All these steps can be done on your own time frame.No rush, it all hangs out to wait for the final mix up.
I let the veggies cool to room temp, then I’ll add them to a big mixing bowl with the bells and onions, while I get the chicken deboned.



Add the chicken meat, torn into bite size pieces to the mixing bowl with the raw and blanched veggies.
Time for the dressing.
Whisk the oil, vinegar, lemon and shallot together. Vinaigrettes are a very personal thing to me. Make them to your taste. It all depends on the available ingredients. If I have Meyer Lemons, they lead the charge for flavor. You may have a super amazing olive oil that you love. Make it taste the way you like it. Keep in mind pasta salad absorbs a lot of dressing, so don’t be shy with it. Salt and pepper it as you go until it hits the spot for you. I’m way into white pepper and mineral salts right now, they rule !! Try them.


Pour dressing over the entire mixture, mix really well and let sit for a while before serving.



Super yummy cool meal for warm weather ! ENJOY.

Oh the Irish in me !

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, so I whipped up some Irish grub to celebrate the day of green, or the day of drinking or the day to cook Corned Beef & Cabbage !!
I come by my Irish blood honestly, meet my Grandpa Jim May, he’s not with us anymore but he will always be in our hearts.

This is a picture of him when he was 16, attending Morgan Park Military Academy in Chicago. He went on to WWII in the Pacific Theater on Guam as a Marine Raider, first guys off the boat. He was shot and recovered at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, where he meant my Grandma Dorothy Harle, then came my Mom, then came Me. When I was little, he ran bars downtown SD, he’d cook big pots of stews for the bar patrons and let me sit on the bar and eat as many Maraschino Cherries as I could. I always remember him cooking. So I dedicate this meal to him. Miss you Grandpa

Corned Beef w/ Cabbage, Potatoes & Carrots.
4 to 5 lb Corned Beef ( I got the uncured one at Trader Joe’s, AMAZING )
1 whole head of cabbage
2-3 potatoes quartered
6-7 small fresh carrots/ chopped big
1 bottle of beer
water
Put the beef and the spices from the bag in a dutch oven, add 1 beer  – your favorite flavor, I used a Fat Tire, from Colorado, not Irish but very tasty. Besides I needed to save all the Irish beer for Black and Tans.
 Add water until the beef is covered. Cook at 325 for at least 3 hours. Check the beef for the fall apart factor, the meat should be extremely tender and cut easily with a fork. Remove the meat from the pot and let rest on a plate for carving. Add the veggies to the pot and return to the oven for 20 minutes or until veggies are cooked but still slightly firm.
Slice up the meat and serve the veggies on the side with some good stone ground mustard.
Enjoy, it’s yummy.

Ranch Dressing – Hippie style

Who doesn’t love ranch dressing ? I used to make a dinner for my picky toddler called dippin dinner.
I could feed him whatever and he’d eat it if he could dip it in ranch dressing. I’ve always had a problem with how commercial ranch dressing tasted, like it had MSG in it, which most do. After messing around I came up with this recipe for fresh creamy ranch like dressing. The clincher is the KEFIR, a cultured milk that taste like yogurt milk, kind of sour, but still rich and creamy, with all the benefits of live cultured yogurt. Kefir can be found in health food stores and some regular grocery stores. It can replace standard sour cream in a lot of recipes, its also great for smoothie’s. Buy it, you’ll like it. Kefir rules !

Hippie Ranch Dressing –


1/3 cup Mayo – don’t f*ck around use Best Foods mayo, it’s the best.
1/2 cup plain Kefir
2-3 cloves of garlic- finely chopped or use garlic press- if you’re not a fan of garlic you can use shallots.
2 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan Reggiano – again don’t f*ck around, get the good stuff and grate it yourself.
2 tsp fresh lemon juice – Meyer Lemons if you can find them.
Salt & Pepper to taste.
Makes about 2/3 cups of dressing.


Blend all ingredients with a hand whisk and chill until service. Will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.


Pour over a wedge of iceberg lettuce with chopped tomato, red onion & bacon crumbles or serve as a dip with fresh cut veggies.

New Favorite-Hibiscus Flowers in Champagne

Ok I’m going to geek out for a moment and share a new fav of mine.
Hibiscus Flowers in champagne. Pretty, Yummy and Tasty. Eat the flower when you’re done with the champagne, it taste like fruit roll ups. Prosseco works just fine if you don’t have champagne.You can get the flowers at Bev Mo or Whole Paycheck aka Whole Foods.

Time is a changing and Spring’s a coming !!!


South Coast Farms is where I forage on the weekends, a small organic farm in the San Juan Capistrano valley. If you’re ever in the area check them out. The lettuces taste salty like the ocean air they grow in. Don’t get me started on the Strawberries, which should be totally out of hand in a few weeks.

We are so very fortunate to live in this great climate, where amazing food grows all year long.

This mornings bounty was wonderful.

I’m sure I picked up more than I can deal with for the week, but I’m gonna try me best to consume this in as many recipes as possible.
All this color and flavor on the table should be enjoyed at its peak and raw. So today I will whip a batch of my ranch dressing for dippin…..coming soon.

Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay

Marinade
Makes 2/3 cups
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 red bird chiles, or 2 red Serrano chiles, unseeded, minced (1 tablespoon)
1 stalk lemongrass, green parts and hard outer layers removed, minced (1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 shallots, minced (1/3 cup)
1 tablespoon blanched almond, ground
1 teaspoon red miso
1/2 cup combined coconut cream and milk (consistency of whole milk)
            Put the coriander seeds in a skillet and dry-roast over medium-high heat. Slide the skillet back and forth over the burner to prevent burning. When the spice exudes a pleasant aroma, about 1 minute, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool. Grind in a mortar with a pestle and set aside.
            Pound the salt and chiles in a mortar with a pestle into a paste. Add the lemongrass, coriander seeds, turmeric powder, shallots, almonds, and red miso in sequence, and only after the previous ingredient is pureed and incorporated into a paste.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the coconut cream. Mix well and set aside.
Store the marinade in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate, it will keep overnight.
Satay
1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breast or thigh or pork loin
10 to 12 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes, then dried
Vegetable oil spray
1/3 pineapple juice
Makes 10 to 12 skewers
Slice the chicken, if using, diagonally across the grain into thing strips, approximately 1/10 inch wide, or as thin as possible.
Add the meat to marinade in a zip lock bag. Mix well and let sit for 30 minutes.
            Mound the charcoals onto one side inside the grill, leaving the other half empty. Heat the grill.
            While waiting for it to get hot, thread 3 to 4 pieces of the chicken or pork onto the bamboo skewer into a tight bundle, covering 5 inches of the skewer. Repeat with the remaining skewers. Add the pineapple juice to the leftover marinade and set aside.
            Spray the skewers generously with the vegetable oil. Lay the skewer with the meat portion on the rack directly over the hot coals at medium-high heat. Line the skewers tightly close to one another. (The uncovered portion of the skewers should not be over the coals.) Brush lightly and frequently with the  pineapple juice mixture. Turn frequently to prevent burning. Grill until the outside is crispy brown and the inside white and tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately with Peanut Sauce, Cucumber Salad ( recipe coming soon ) and Jasmine Rice.

Peanut Sauce


Indonesian Peanut Sauce

Makes 1 cup
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced (1 tablespoon)
12 chiles de arbol or chiles Japones, soaked in hot water, seeded, died, minced
1 tablespoon minced galangal or ginger
1 stalk lemongrass, outer-hard layers and green parts removed, minced (1/3 cup)
2 shallots, minced (1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon red miso
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut cream
4 tablespoons tamarind juice
Pound the salt and garlic in a mortar with a pestle into a fine paste. Add the chiles and pound to puree. Add the galangal, lemongrass, shallots and red miso in sequence, and only after each has been completely pureed and incorporated into the paste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Refrigerated, the seasoning paste will keep for a month.
            Or, if using a blender, add the 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the above ingredients and puree. Transfer to a bowl and set aside or store the seasoning paste in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
            Saute the oil and the chile paste in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it exudes a pleasant aroma, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Lower the heat, and add the sugar, peanut butter, tamarind juice and coconut cream and milk. Stir to mix until the mixture boils and thickens, about 2 minutes.
            Transfer to a bowl; and let cool before serving or storing in a glass jar with a tight lid. Refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for a couple of weeks. If the sauce congeals and thickens, dilute with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, heat over low heat in a saucepan until dissolved.

Thai Food !! Coconut Cream and Milk

Coconut Cream and Milk, fresh home made is another nectar item.

It’s labor intensive, but so rewarding. Try it at least once, if it’s too much for you, buy it in a can.
Buy a good coconut, it should feel heavy and you can hear the water inside sloshing around.
On the top of the coconut are 3 eyes, dark looking holes, take a screw driver and hammer the holes so the screw driver breaks into the coconut. 

Pour out the coco water, keep or discard it’s not needed for the coconut cream or milk. Bake the coconut in the oven for 375 degrees for 20 minutes, let it cool. Now to the cracking ! Hammer in hand, get to cracking, break off the outer hard shell.

The flesh will have a thinner darker skin that you will need to peel off with a vegetable peeler. Break up the peeled flesh and grind it up in a heavy duty food processor to a pulp. Transfer the pulp to a large bowl and fill with hot water to cover the pulp.

Now it’s spa time, get yours hands in the bowl and massage, squeeze & milk that pulp ! Do this eighty nine times, this is a Thai ritual believed to produce a rich and creamy coconut milk.

It’s great for your skin too, your hands will feel amazing after this. Drain with a strainer into a smaller bowl, all the liquid, this will be the coconut cream.

Reserve the pulp in the same large bowl, add more hot water and do the whole process again.
This liquid will be the coconut milk. As I’ve stated before I’m not a writer, so if there seem to be holes in my info buy Su-Mei’s cook book, she goes in to great detail about all of these recipes.


Set aside for the Peanut Sauce and Satay marinade we’ll make later.

Tamarind Juice

One of the ingredients for Peanut Sauce is Tamarind Juice. You can find compressed brown blocks of Tamarind wrapped in plastic at Asian markets. Rough chop the Tamarind and place in a glass bowl.

Pour hot water to cover, let cool and soften.

Once cooled massage into a pulp, let it rest to thicken up. We call this making poo. Kinda gross but it’s yummy.

Drain with a strainer and set aside for the Peanut Sauce.