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.

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Nouvelle-Orléans – NOLA – The Big Easy – N’awlins

My Mom and I just returned from a Culinary and Cocktail tour of this amazing city with so many names. Here is a visual tour with plenty of my personal commentary.After flying all day, we arrived in hot & humid lovely New Orleans. Our first stop was the Cocktail Museum inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum for a class in the history of Cocktails. We arrived rushed, hot and thirsty…….we were promptly handed a Brandy Milk Punch……aww perfect. A great class with Chris McMillian taught us about 3 signature cocktails as seen in above photo. Great kick off for the tour.Next adventure…a slow ride around the Quarter at sun down, while being brought yet another cocktail to sip in the warm evening air…..LOVED this. The carriage dropped us off at the Palm Court for dinner and jazz. Day 2 starts off with a Cajun cooking class, with Harriet, she’s AMAZING! Born and raised in Louisiana, she told the best stories about food, her family and showed us how to make a mean Gumbo. Full belly’s and smarter……..several of us strolled across the street to the Napoleon House for a Pimm’s Cup………..not the best Pimm’s I’ve had, they use sweet and sour instead of 7up or ginger ale…no like, but Napoleon’s was very cool.Our first progressive dinner, walk , and journey started with a 12 block walk to Luke’s. We arrived to a private dining room to the above…a boat full of oysters & French 75’s, what a first course!Stop #2 GW Fins…..the best food of the trip….the Nola Fizz was so refreshing – seafood was great and the lobster dumplings were light and delicate, truly amazing. Biscuits were to die for, so much so that I asked for the recipe. Next a walk down Bourbon Street to hear some jazz at Fritzel’s, great spot, great music, cold beer. FUNNext stop Antoine’s for dessert and coffee…….not just your normal coffee and dessert though, we were treated to Baked Alaska & Café Brûlot Diabolique. Charles, our waiter, a third generation waiter at the oldest restaurant in the country. He was an excellent tour guide, showman and southern gentlemen. Here are a few pictures from our private tour.The Japanese Room & Large Annex RoomThe Wine Cellar  165 feet long  25,000 bottles in inventory.The Rex RoomMardi Gras Krewe memorabiliaI found King Cake babies!! When I was in Culinary school, we made little babies out of tin foil because we didn’t have the real ones like these pictured above, so I was geeked out to find these lil’ guys. One is baked into the King Cake and who ever gets the baby in their piece will have good luck. Check out this cool tumblr starring a King Cake BabyDay 3 – Lunch on the Steamboat Natchez, nice cruise down the beautiful brown Mississippi.After the river tour we were met at the dock by an old friend….Harold Gee, he towed 2 bikes on his bike for us to ride. He took us on a tour of his neighborhood. Rough roads in New Orleans makes for very bumpy bike riding, but it was great to get out of the Quarter. We rode through the Marigny to the Bywater and had cold beers at Vaughn’s- Ribs at the Joint- Big thanks to Harold for taking us into his village, it was very cool.Last dinner in town at Muriel’s Jackson Square – the menu, the food and 2 drunk girls in the French Quarter. I’m going to miss this town…..wait, I already do.9AM Jackson Square….PlayersSt Louis Cathedral from Jackson SquareInside St Louis Cathedral$.25 Martini came with the prix fixe lunch. Last lunch in town- Antoine’s again because Mom missed the first tour, she crashed early, hadn’t quite got her drinking legs on.

It seems shocking that we ate so much, drank so much and walked so much (18 miles)  in so few days. It went by far too quickly. This tour was flawless, I will admit that I was a little reluctant to go on any kind of planned tour, but this one was perfect. The access to special places, the history, the timing, the fun, the care taken to make our journey so easy and comfortable, all I can say is…. well done & THANK YOU to Chris & Mary!! I will go on any trip y’all plan. Chris and Mary are the owners of a great restaurant in San Diego called the Wine Vault & Bistro, go eat there and for sure take a trip with them.

Guest Blogger #2 Home brewing with Cameron

For your blog reading enjoyment may I introduce my friend Cameron…. He makes Beer and he was so kind to share his mad skills with us. Take it away Cameron……

Mmmm beer. Thought I’d input a little beer knowledge into this food blog, thanks Sarah for the forum. Thought I’d do a couple different posts. This first one will be about homebrewing.

These are hops – seriously I know what the leaves look like.

Ah, the smell of malt and hops, the foamy head on your lips, the quenching refreshment of that first sip. How about a little introduction to the basics of beer. Their are four main ingredients in beer: water, malt, hops, and yeast. Water, I won’t bore you with the chemistry of water and how brewers treat it to make it perfect for their beers, just know 90% of beer is water so you want to start with some tasty water! Malt, the background of most beers, this is usually malted barley, barley that has been germinated to just the correct state and then dried. Malt is what gives you the sugars that the yeast eat to make alcohol, little more about that later. The malt can also contain other grains, wheat beer anyone? Yeast, this is the worker, the yeast take the oxygen and the sugars and make alcohol and carbon dioxide, without it we would just have bitter sugary water. Oh and last but not least, my favorite, hops, they balance the sweetness of the beer and give off the wonderful piney, florally, citrusy aromas!

OK, OK, enough of the boring stuff, let’s brew! Here is a (quick) lowdown of the brewing process. First we take hot water and crushed grains and mix them to extract the sugars. Then we wash and drain the grains and get a sweet wort. We take the sweet wert and boil, during the boil we add hops, this extracts the bitterness and taste from the hops and infuses these luscious flavors into the beer. After this we take the boiling water and cool it down and add yeast. That’s it, finito! Well almost I guess, we still need to let the yeast work, but after about 7-30 days, (while maybe adding another set of hops for aroma, for us hop heads) we have beer. We need to put it in something to drink from, either a keg or bottles and after its carbonated it’s Happy Hour!

Big thanks to Cameron for sharing his knowledge and passion for BEER! make some….. it’s so good.

Guest Blogger #1 Texas Egg Rolls by Doreen

There is a cool story about these tasty Texas Egg Rolls. Doreen used to be a rep I worked with in my previous career, part of her job was to wine and dine us…..hehehehe. We had a favorite place for lunch and we’d always order Texas Egg Rolls, it was our thing. She loved them so much she set out to make them herself. Doreen is now the professional  Texas Egg Roll maker for all the parties we go to, if Doreen is there…. she’ll walk in the door with these yummy morsels and they don’t last long. I was thrilled she decided to share this recipe with us here on Spry on Food.

Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, room temp

1 cup shredded Mexican style (Cheddar/Jack) cheese

3 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

8 egg roll wrappers

1 jar hot pepper jelly

1 egg

oil for frying

Directions

Combine the cream cheese, shredded cheese, and diced jalapenos with a mixer.  Chill the cheese mixture for at least 30 minutes.  You can also make ahead and chill up to 24 hours.

Divide the cheese mixture into 8 even pieces.  With your hands, roll each piece into a log shape and set on plate.  When you have rolled all 8 you’re ready to roll in the wrappers.

Beat the egg in a small bowl.  This will be used to  glue the egg roll wrapper closed.

Lay a wrapper on the counter with 1 corner pointing toward you.  Place the cheese log near that corner.  Wrap the corner around the cheese and roll the whole thing up until the cheese log is level with the 2 sided corner.

At this point fold both side corners to the center.  Continue to roll up until almost to the final corner.  Use your finger to paint on some of the beaten egg on that corner.  Finish rolling to seal the corner to the roll.

In a deep fryer or dutch oven heat your oil to 375 degrees.  While your oil is getting hot, put your hot pepper jelly in small sauce pan over low heat to warm.  Keep an eye on the jelly.  You’re not trying to cook it, just soften it, so it’s more of a liquid form.

When the oil reaches 375, gently slip a few of the egg rolls in the oil.  Fry for about 2-3 minutes or until the wrapper is golden brown.  When they are done, lift them out with a slotted spoon or spatula and place them on a paper towel lined plate or platter.

Repeat with remaining egg rolls.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Cut in half or serve whole with the hot pepper jelly.

Recipe & Photos by Doreen

Big thanks to Doreen for not only being the first to respond to me plea for guest bloggers but for bringing us this special snack. Make these! You will LOVE them I promise.

Chicago = Friends, Food & Fun

I love Chicago!! for so many reasons……

My friends Deborah, John and Ostin live there.

Lake Michigan is so big it looks like an ocean.

They have real butcher shops…..unlike the OC

The food/dinning is AMAZING.

The L is cheap, fast, always good people watching and you feel like you’re in a movie when you ride it.

It snows in Chicago….so I hear….no snow for our visit, but it was COLD.

My favorite Chocolate in the world is made in Chicago-  Vosges

Here is a photo journey of our 5 day Chicago adventure in February….without snow 😦Ostin and Deborah greeted us old school style at the airport, which means they parked and met us inside….LOVED it! This picture is on the way to their house, Ostin is showing me all his favorite You Tube videos. I love this sweet small person.Saturday night downtown….Dinner at the Publican in the meat packing district. Suckling Pig and Seafood Stew…..winners!! Best friends all bundled up. Great night!Brisk walk after dinner…the lights…the chill in the air…drinks….perfect.My peeps! How cute is Deborah in that coat?!?!?Super Bowl food….Velveeta Rotel Dip in a Football Crock Pot..awesome & Slow cooked Chile Verde.I whipped up a Red Velvet Cake for Deborah’s Birthday…the fridge was full so we stored it in the BBQ outside, where it was a chilly 30… I was so impressed by this!! Endless chilling options when you live where it actually gets cold.Henri for lunch on Monday….. I could have sat forever at this table. The food was perfection, the room was beautiful. We started with the Foie Gras….next on to a fresh greens salad and then the Cassoulet arrived. We came here specifically for this dish, their take on it was delicious, Pork Belly, Duck Confit, and housemade Toulosse Sausage. It’s a must if you’re ever in Chicago on a Monday. It’s their Plat du Jour on Monday nights, they were closing the Monday we were there so they offered to make the Cassoulet for lunch…. just for us! I could go on and on, I loved this place, don’t even get me started with the wine….. it was a 3 hour lunch, enough said?This was quickly becoming the theme to our visit..Tuesday we went to Hot Doug’s

Chicago Dog on your left and on your right…..Foie Gras, Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel……OMG!Then we were on our way to the airport via this trippy L stop in the middle of the freeway… or do they call them highways?

A huge thank you to my dear sweet friends, for housing us, feeding us and loving us. We miss you already. Cheers!

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes

Look at these lovely little morsels of YUM! I discovered this recipe last year in the magazine Fine Cooking, it was a fall issue and I love pumpkin, I mean really LOVE pumpkin, so I made it.

First try…. totally blew my mind they were so good.

Made it for a few gatherings last holiday season and all in attendance were equally blown away.

I’ve tweaked a few things here and there, so this is my version. I used less sugar and kefir to replace buttermilk, I think kefir gives them better tanginess. Click here for a printable recipe from the Fine Cooking website, since I don’t have that figured out yet for my site. Last year I made a layer cake, this year I did cupcakes and a layer cake. There are several steps that can be done ahead which I  seriously advise you do, this recipe takes some time but it’s oh so worth it.

First off let’s talk pumpkin…. most people go and get the canned stuff, this time of year it’s being shoved down our throats at every grocery store we enter. But so are fresh pumpkins, most will get carved up to look spooky then sit on our porches and rot. Don’t get me wrong spooky scary pumpkins are cool but why not get an extra one – bake it, peel it, puree it and enjoy the difference in using fresh pumpkin you baked, peeled and pureed……it really makes a difference in taste.

Now let’s talk about brown butter……. butter is awesome – we all know that – but brown butter is OMG…..rich, nutty and amazing! This is the kicker to this recipe.

K ready?, let’s do this!

recipe yields one 2 layer cake or 24 cupcakes

For the pumpkin purée

1 medium-large pumpkin, cut in half or in quarters, clean and remove seeds, reserve the seeds to roast up with some spices for a yummy snack. My pumpkin weighed about 6 pounds,  yield was  7 cups of puree, woo hoo!!

Make the pumpkin purée

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Put the pumpkin halves/quarters on the baking sheet cut side down and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45-60 minutes. Let cool. Peel the pumpkin and purée the flesh in a food processor (or a bad a** blender like my new one) until very smooth. You’ll need 1-1/2 cups of the purée for this recipe. Refrigerate or portion and freeze any remaining purée for future use, like pies, soups, cookies…..so excited I love hoarding yummy food. 

For the cake or cupcakes

6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans

9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans

1-1/2 tsp. baking soda

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

3/4 tsp. table salt

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1-1/2 cup fresh pumpkin puree or canned

1/3 cup kefir or buttermilk

Make the cake or cupcakes

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

 Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans with removable bottoms (or butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the pans).

Or line a muffin pan with cupcake papers or make your own with a 5″ square of parchment paper. Use a glass to help mold the paper into each section of the muffin pan.Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Watch this closely, butter will burn really fast. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and kefir or buttermilk until very well blended. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. You could do all this in a stand mixer on low speeds so to not over mix.

Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between 2 prepared round cake pans or a prepared muffin pan.

 Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes, cupcakes bake for 15-18 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.

For the topping

1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter

2/3 cup pecans

1/2 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas

2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 tsp. table salt

1-1/2 Tbs. chopped crystallized ginger

Make the topping

Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and pepitas and cook until the pecans brown slightly and the pepitas begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the ginger. The ginger is so good, do the leg work to find it and use it. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool in the skillet. Don’t let this sit in your skillet for too long, it will never come out. Do ahead one day, keep in super airtight container.

For the frosting

4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

Make the frosting

Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until the solids settle at the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard the solids.

 I used some of the solids at the bottom, they add that yummy flavor and cool little specs of browned butter. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Use a pastry bag or not, since the nuts go on top, no need to get too fancy with the frosting. This frosting is out of this world, it should be banned forever…..kidding. For the cake, sprinkle some of the nuts over the first layer so you get that crunch on the inside layer. If you like nuts double the topping recipe. 

Make these, share with family, friends, office peeps……you will be a star…..probably get a huge raise….  If you make this please comment and let me know your thoughts. I need to know that I’m not the only one freaking out about how good these are. K?

Surprise !

>Surprises are the BEST ever !!! My friend Kim, her husband Artie and my husband James set out to rally my people to surprise me with a gift. To say I am a hard person to surprise is an under statement. Yes I am a control freak, so what ??!! Kim was stealth and steadfast, as were all the lovely friends and family that chipped in to buy me the Grill I’ve been coveting for months. Isn’t it cool ??



I came home from the farewell ( I’ll explain in a minute ) happy hour my coworkers and friends put together to find Artie and James rushing to set up the grill.

James made a card with every ones well wishes for my new and exciting future.


This made me cry, all the love and well wishes were overwhelming. To have so much support as I take this huge leap into a whole new world is so encouraging. 
This September 13th, I will start my new adventure in the Culinary world at Laguna Culinary Arts in Laguna Beach, CA.
I will attend their Pro Chef program for 6 months and then who knows what will come next…… all I know is, I am the luckiest girl in the world !
Huge thanks to you all for being in my life, I love you all madly! 

Kim you are totally amazing, I so wish you lived next door. Hugs to you and Artie. To my James, thanks for being mine and believing in me, I love you always. Cheers !

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.