Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Vols-Au-Vents

The September 2009 ' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

A Vols-au-Vent is a small hollow cup of puff pastry used to serve a variety of fillings, usually savory ones.  The word is French for "windblown", used to describe the lightness of the crisp, flaky, layers you see when the pastry is baked.  Puff pastry is a laminated dough with a solid fat.  It's a time comsuming process because the dough must be kept cold and rest between folds.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Things I Found in my Mother's Kitchen

I’m visiting my mother this week, to help her clean out her garage and open some boxes she still hasn’t unpacked from her recent move.  These are some things that I found in my mother’s kitchen that she’s probably had since the “big depression/recession”.  You know, that one that started in 1929 and lasted until the early forties.

This cake house mold is one of my favorites.  However, I’m guessing that this one is from 1957 since it says 1957 on the roof of the January house.  The packaging gives you examples of cake houses for each month of the year.  Birthday cakes, wedding cakes, and there’s even pictures for making a “ranch house” and barn with straw made from shredded coconut.  My mother said I could have this, so the next person I know that has a birthday is getting a house cake!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chocolate Malt (Non Dairy) Ice Cream

We’re experiencing our usual “Indian Summer” weather here in California, which means that it’s been over 95˚ for the last four days.  It’s the kind of weather that screams ice cream.  I was given a Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment for my mixer for Mother’s Day, and I’ve only used it once.  The hot weather seemed like a good excuse to put it to use. 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tofu Veracruz Style

The ripe tomatoes from my garden, that were starting to pile up on my kitchen counter, were calling to me.  I needed to make some sauce before they went bad.  I made a big pot of basic marinara, which I’m going to freeze, in ziplock bags, for later use.  I like to make a basic sauce that I can use as a base for other sauces later.  I’ll add some (vegan) sour cream  and vodka for vodka sauce, or use it as a base for  a minestrone soup.
Watching the sauce simmer on the stove brought back memories snapper Veracruz.  I didn’t have any fish but I did have tofu, so here is a vegan adaptation of that dish.  

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Harvesting Almonds

Two years ago, when I learned that the California Almond Growers were required to pasteurize their almonds, I went out and bought a self-pollinating Almond tree.  Pasteurizing almonds prevents them from sprouting and we eat a lot of sprouted almonds.  When you sprout the almonds, you remove the enzyme inhibitors, decrease the amount of fat they contain, and increase their nutritional value and digestibility.  I usually dehydrate them after I sprout them until they’re crunchy.

Mock Tuna Stuffed Cucumbers

Most people have an abundance of zucchini in late summer but I’ve had cucumbers.  Lots and lots of cucumbers.  I’ve had to get creative and invent some new ways to eat them, so for lunch I made stuffed cucumbers.  I stuffed them with a raw mock tuna made from sprouted sunflower seeds.  They came out looking like sushi so I sprinkled them with soy sauce and ate them with chopsticks.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Coconut Palm Sugar

Coconut palm sugar is made from the flower sap of the coconut palm tree 

I'm always on the look out for a good alternative to sugar in baked goods.  Technically, sugar does the job and tastes really good but there are side effects.  The first problem is that it's addictive, the average American consumes about 115 pounds per year.  Since I don't eat anywhere near that much, someone out there is eating my share.  Someone is eating over two hundred pounds of sugar a year!?!  

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Day Trip to the Coast

Mr RK and I decided to abandon the garden for the day and take a trip north, up the coast.  It was our anniversary.  In better economic times, we would gone to Mexico for a long week-end of warm beaches and fruity drinks.  Being unemployed and in cash conservation mode, we decided to head up the coast.  The beaches south of us would have been warmer but they closed the Bay Bridge for repairs this weekend, so going south (and dealing with the traffic) would be nothing short of insanity.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

S'mores Cupcakes

Summer is leaving.  Tomorrow is Labor Day and most kids are back in school already.  Even though it’s still warm here in California, there has been a barely discernible chill in the night time temperature that wasn’t there before.  The kind that reminds you to close the windows before you go to sleep.  I love summer and I’m always sad to see it go.  I know it will be back next year but that’s a long time to wait to see a good friend.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fresh Tomato Avocado Tart

When the weather is hot, I prefer a cold dinner.  This fresh tomato avocado tart was the perfect end to a 100˚ day.  The filling has only four ingredients.  The corn, tomato and basil came from my garden, and I lined the bottom of the tart with an organic avocado.  I did sprinkle the top with a little salt, so I guess that makes five ingredients.  Still, it’s so simple, fresh, raw and tasty.