fig and bourbon summer smash

fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table

Last Sunday, we attended the San Francisco street food festival. Ever since we moved, I've been wanting to attend the festival and taste all the delicious things that people are cooking up because that is what makes this city such an amazing food destination. And to be honest, we weren't disappointed. We tried empanadas, tacos, bahn mis, ice creams etc. Every thing had some sort of innovative flavor or idea combined into a traditional dish. 

fried pork cake sandwich, thai iced tea at San Francisco Food Festival | A Brown Table
Lobster salad at San Francisco Street Food Festival | A Brown Table
Watermelon Agua Fresca + Beef and Chicken Empanadas at San Francisco Street Food Festival |A Brown Table

When Renée and Sherrie asked me to join their blogger summer drink special, I wasn’t sure if I should. You see, I have never, ever in the past four years created a cocktail for this blog. It made me nervous and after I said yes to the girls, I kept telling myself, “Why the heck did you say yes?” Since I rarely make my own cocktails at home, I wasn't sure how this would pan out. But now, after going through this fun experience, I’m glad I said yes and my blog is no longer a cocktail virgin (though my dear friend Meg shared a cranberry moscow mule with you in December when I went to India). 

fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table

Fig and bourbon are meant to be together. In an ideal world, every fig tree should produce a bottle of bourbon with every fig it grows. Maybe those travel size alcohol minis would work? And so I've combined my love for figs and bourbon in a glass or two for this drink recipe roundup.

It's been terribly hot for the past few weeks (the mercury hit the triple digits) and fortunately, the cocktail experimentation in the kitchen turned out to be the perfect remedy to battle the weather. An ice cold glass of this fruity bourbon drink that's lightly sweetened with honey and infused with fresh mint and lime. And of course if you like it a little more sweet or a little more boozy, adjust accordingly. 

fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table
fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table
fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table
fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table
fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this drink;

  • Use dark figs such as black mission figs or brown turkey figs. Their flavor is stronger and more robust and will work really well in this cocktail.
  • Instead of water, you can also make the drink a little fizzier by replacing it with sparkling water.
  • The more overripe your figs, the sweeter and stronger the flavor. Fresh limes and mint leaves make a huge difference in the drink.
  • I like to make the fig-bourbon mix ahead of time but just a word of caution, the longer you keep it in the alcohol (don't go over more than 2 days) the boozier the fruit pulp. 
fig and bourbon summer smash | A Brown Table

fig and bourbon summer smash

yields: around 6 servings

ingredients

6 to 8 overripe fresh figs, stalks trimmed

500mL bourbon

1/2 cup honey

1 1/2 cups chilled water

6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

12 fresh mint leaves, julienned

ice cubes

1. Place the figs in a 1 liter mason jar or a jar wide enough to allow the figs to be smashed. Pour the bourbon over the figs and smash the fruit using a muddler. Pour honey into the jar and seal airtight with a lid. Shake aggressively and allow to sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours. 

2. Just before serving, shake the jar. Remove 1/4 cup of the fig mixture add 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 mint leaves. Muddle the mint leaves in the glass using a muddler, taste and adjust sweetness if necessary and then add a few ice cubes. Serve ice cold and immediately. 

Note: If you like this drink stronger, you can add a little more bourbon to it before adding the ice cubes. 

chilled avocado and lime coconut-almond milk soup

chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table

Random, can't begin to describe it. But the little dinner we celebrated with our friends after our court marriage, somehow landed up as a photograph in the March 2015 issue of Travel and Leisure. Come to think of it now, I vaguely remember seeing a photographer at the restaurant but didn't pay much attention. 

It's been way too hot the past few days. The interesting thing here in this part of California, we have fireplaces but no cooling systems in most homes. While it's generally cool and sunny for the most part of the year, at this time we do get a lot of heat and it can be bad. It's hot enough, that I plan to start my mornings at work making large batches of whipped cream for any fresh cream cakes because the cream can collapse fast in warm weather. Frosting cakes can be a nightmare in hot summer weather but there are advantages to the heat when it comes to cooking. Fermentation, for one is thankful for the heat in most kitchens. Your yeast will grow fast and break sugars down and your doughs etc will be quick to rise. 

I tend to lose my appetite and desire for heavy meals in summer especially at lunch. To cool off, I've been drinking this chilled soup that's full of cooling ingredients, from the coconut milk in Califia's unsweetened almond-coconut milk blend, to the greener ingredients that go into this dish. It's rather easy to make and you can adjust the levels of spiciness by removing the seeds from the pepper to make it less intense. The soup itself is creamy and velvety and refreshing with the acidity of fresh lime juice and dill. Now, that's one tasty way to stay cool, folks!

chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table
chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table
chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table
chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this soup;

  • You can adjust the thickness of the soup by adding more or less almond-coconut milk.
  • I also like to serve this soup with a corn salsa or a sweet fruity salsa made with pineapple or mango. It also makes a great side to along with seafood at a meal.
  • Instead of dill you could also use cilantro. 
  • Warm the lime to room temperature if you store it in the refrigerator. It's easier to juice this way. You can also press the lime and roll it gently across the table to make it easy to juice. 

You might like some of these other summer recipes to stay cool with!

chilled avocado and lime soup | A Brown Table

chilled avocado and lime almond-coconut milk soup

yields: 2 servings

ingredients 

1 haas avocado, ripe yet firm 

1 lime, fresh

2 cups Califia unsweetened coconut-almond milk blend 

1 green thai chili pepper

1 teaspoon dill leaves, fresh + extra for garnishing

1/2 teaspoon white pepper, powder

1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit from the center and discard. Cube the avocado meat and place it in a blender. Squeeze the lime juice over the avocado, Califia milk along with the dill leaves, the chili pepper, white pepper, salt and hot sauce. Blend to get a smooth and creamy consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.

2. Transfer the soup to a container and store in an airtight container for two hours to chill completely. 

3. To serve, quickly stir the soup a few times and then pour it into chilled glasses and garnish with the extra fresh dill leaves. 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia and all opinions stated here are purely my own.

 

herbed lime chickpea vol au vent

herbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Table

There were two articles recently in the Washington Post that echoed some of my thoughts I have about Indian food. One discussed why people find Indian food to be delicious while the other touched on the low popularity of Indian food in the US. Two interesting yet contrasting topics well worth the read if you have a few minutes to spare. 

In my opinion, I think Indian food has reached an interesting stage in the food scene, traditional and well-known dishes remain popular but there still remains plenty of room to grow. And though, it's true that Asian and Mexican cuisines tend to dominate the Western food scene, I don't think there's any cause for alarm, in fact I think it's the perfect opportunity and time to explore the variety in Indian food. There's so much to share and learn from Indian food. Within India, itself you will notice a huge variation in culture, language and diet. However, I also think it is important to break away from tradition and create your own traditions when it comes to food. Here on my blog, I humbly try to make an attempt to mix Indian cuisine into Western culture. It is important for me on a personal level to share food that I enjoy to prepare and in a way that represents the elements that influence me and my thoughts on food, on a daily basis. So here's to the future of Indian food and all the wonderful and tasty possibilities it has to offer!

This is an easy yet flavorful Indian-inspired savory pastry appetizer that can be served at gatherings of any type. Remember that little mint-cilantro chutney I made for the chickpea battered sandwich? Well here's another use for it and yet, again with chickpeas. This time, they flavor whole chickpeas which  get stuffed into little puff pastry nests. The ginger strips and fresh herbed chutney are what gives these chickpeas a flavorful and tasty punch!

The folks at Yahoo Food have me up as their Food Blogger of the Week and it's definitely been an honor and wonderful experience. Here's the link to the interview I did with them.

herbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Table
herbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Table
herbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Tableherbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Tableherbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing these vols au vent;

  • Make the chutney fresh. It will taste better the day it is made. 
  • I remove the seeds from the center of the tomatoes as they contain a lot of liquid trapped in the surrounding gel. 
  • I use store bought puff pastry. These days you can be puff pastry sheets or precut puff pastry shells which eliminate the need to cut the sheets. Go with you can find and what is easiest for you. To cut the smaller pastry circle within the large precut circle of puff pastry, I use the wider end of my large pastry tip. If you own a smaller circular pastry cutter, use that instead. 
  • Always keep the pastry cold when working with it. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to bake the pastry. In general puff pastry bakes and rises well at high temperatures which allow the trapped steam and butter within the dough to expand and create multiple layers. 
  • You will probably end up with way more chickpea filling than you need. I save the extra unused filling for lunch or as a side to add onto my dinner plate. 
  • You can play around with the heat level of the filling by adding more chili or leaving the seeds in. 
herbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Table

herbed lime chickpea vol au vent

yields: enough filling for 24 vol au vents

ingredients 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine

1 inch piece ginger root, peeled and julienned

1/2 cup tomatoes, seeds removed

2 X 15ounces cans chickpea, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

1/2 serrano or 1 thai chili pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup mint-cilantro chutney (recipe here - skip the chickpea batter part of the recipe)

2 puff pastry sheets or precut (store bought)

a little cilantro leaves, fresh to garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the onions until they turn light pink. Add the ginger and cook for another minute with constant stirring. Then toss in the tomatoes, chickpeas, salt, pepper and chili pepper. Stir for one minute, then fold in the mint-cilantro chutney and cover the saucepan with a lid. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The chickpeas should be tender when done. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to evaporate any liquid that might be left behind. Remove from stove and keep warm until ready to use. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

2. To prepare the pastry for the vol au vent. Option 1: Precut vol au vents; Bake the precut shells as instructed by the manufacturer. Option 2: Pastry sheets: Place the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface and cut out 3 inch circles using a biscuit cutter. Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone sheet. Using a sharp paring knife make indentations around the outer edge of the pastry. Then using a 1 inch diameter pastry cutter carefully cut a circle halfway through the center of each of the cut pastry circles. Bake the pastry as per the manufacturer's instructions. (In general for puff pastry, I bake the pastry in a preheated oven at 425F for about 18-20 minutes until the pastry rises completely and turns golden brown). Remove the baked pastry from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before handling.

3. To stuff the pastry, pop out the center from the cooked pastry and remove and discard and excess pastry from the center. Stuff the center with a generous tablespoon of the warm chickpea filling and garnish with a few leaves of cilantro. Serve immediately.