I'm doing something that most editors tell you not to do, start this with a negative. But honestly, it really isn't as much of a negative as it is a challenge to view things in a different light. Not all fruit must be cooked or baked or exposed to high temperatures. Within a type of fruit you will probably come across a few varieties that lose their uniqueness when heated, take for instance these Skylar Rae cherries, their high sugar content makes them better suited to be eaten raw because they breakdown pretty fast on heating. This particular type of cherry is not only sweet but has a pleasant tartness too so I don't add any lemon or lime but again you can add that if you want, just a teaspoon of fresh juice should suffice.Read More
Before we dive into this cake, there's some crazy good news! My column, A Brown Kitchen is a finalist in the year's IACP awards in the Best Writing: Food Focused Column. There are lots of Bay Area authors in the mix too which is exciting and I'm also pretty stoked to be in NYC later this month at the conference to talk about photographing and writing my cookbook with my lovely friends: Deb at Smitten Kitchen, Yossy of Apt2B, Baking and Michael Harlan Turkell (who is also nominated for his new cookbook on Vinegars!).Read More
Last weekend, I finally got enough tomatillos off my plant to make a quart of salsa. It felt rewarding and thankful and also timely, since the plant now looks like it's off to meet its maker. So there at least, I can say I got some salsa out of it. To be honest, unless you have several plants growing at the same time, you probably won't be making tomatillo salsa all summer. So next year, I'm going to grow fewer vegetables but more of the same variety so it's not a one time thing.
Sesame seeds are a big deal in Indian sweets as much as they are in the Middle East and Africa to make tahini and other tasty things. From sesame (til) ladoos, and hard candies like gajak and chiki. Sometimes, they'll be seasoned with a little green cardamom or rose water or saffron. But what if all this became an ice cream, one as nutty in taste, one as sweet with the floral scent of fresh roses and one with a cool grey tone speckled with the tiniest spots of fragmented black sesame seeds. Serve this with a few warm, broiled fresh figs, a little hint of black pepper and a splash of maple syrup.
With a little help from Jeni Britton Bauer, this ice cream was born into existence using her cream cheese - cornstarch method that obviates the needs for eggs to prepare the custard base.
- Because I've used black sesame seeds, knowing when to stop toasting them is a little tricky if you want to use visual cues, instead rely on the seed's aroma. The heat will help volatilize the aromatic compounds inside the seed and as soon as you start to smell the fragrance, take the pan off the stove and immediately, transfer the seeds to the blender.
- If the ice cream is too hard once it comes out of the freezer, leave it out for 5 to 6 minutes on the counter to soften a little.
sesame rose water ice cream (adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home - Jeni Britton Bauer)
makes about 1 quart
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup black sesame seeds (I used toasted)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon rose water (1 tsp if you want it stronger)
Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to form a slurry and keep aside.
Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
Place the milk and sesame seeds in a high-speed blender and pulse on high-speed for a few seconds until the seeds are completely pulverized and the milk takes on a light grey color. It will look a little speckled.
Transfer this milk into a medium saucepan along with the heavy cream, and sugar. Stir with a silicone spatula and bring the contents to a rolling boil on medium-high heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the saucepan to the stove and boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 1 minute until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.
Add the rose water and transfer the ice cream base into a resealable gallon ziptop bag and submerge it in an ice-water bath too chill completely. Once chilled, pour this into the bowl of your ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer's instructions. Store in a freezer-safe container with a lid and freeze for at least 3 to 4 hours to firm up before serving.
Peppered broiled figs
makes 6 to 8 figs
6 to 8 figs
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
maple syrup, as needed (optional)
Cut the figs in half and toss them with the olive oil in a small bowl. Place the figs skin side down in a small cast-iron dish that's been lightly brushed with a little extra olive oil. Set the oven to broil and place the dish in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes until the figs start to caramelize and the juices start to bubble on the surface. Remove from oven, garnish with black pepper and keep warm.
To assemble: Place one or two scoops of the sesame ice cream on a serving dish, garnish with a few toasted black sesame seeds (if desired) and two to three halves of the broiled figs. Drizzle with a little maple syrup if desired.
Note: to toast black sesame seeds - heat a small dry skillet on medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot add the sesame seeds and toast until you just start to smell the seeds. Be careful as this will happen quickly in about 20 to 30 seconds as the seeds are black and it will be difficult to see them darken.
When Le Creuset asked me to create a sweet thanksgiving side this year with their Heritage bakeware collection, I decided to stray away from pies and dive into the realm of baked puddings. I grew up eating a lot of steamed and baked puddings and since Thanksgiving dinner is all about traditions and comfort eating, I figured I'd bake a pudding this year!
This sweet cranberry and maple syrup pudding can be made with fresh or frozen cranberries (so you can make it any time of the year) which burst when baked to release the tart and red juice into the batter (I don't recommend using dried cranberries as it doesn't cook and taste as good as it does with the whole fruit). Now maple syrup is delicious by itself but in this sweet side when baked it starts to caramelize with the berries and creates a deep dark brown color that smells heavenly. This cranberry pudding is best served warm and has a cake like texture yet buttery and soft with a sweet maple caramelized crust.
You can get the cranberry and maple syrup pudding recipe here. I'll be busy moving and unpacking for the next few days so have a wonderful Thanksgiving folks and stay warm!
Note: This post was sponsored by Le Creuset but all opinions stated are my own.
Good news guys! We got a house. After months of hunting in this crazy San Francisco/Bay Area market, it finally happened earlier this week. I'm looking forward to having my own kitchen and doing whatever the heck I want in my own space. Painting the walls any color I want, whenever I want, etc. etc. One headache down and I'm now jumping into the next one (thought it's an exciting one), renovations, so wish me luck!
You can make an ice cream out of a lot of things and though it might be getting chilly in some parts, ice cream is still and always a good idea! Every year, I love to make one special ice cream that's fall inspired and this year, it's all about pumpkins! This roasted pumpkin ice cream has a little bit of creamy labneh blended in to give it a fresh tangy flavor but there's also this deep and dark, sweet balsamic and maple syrup reduction that you might just want to drizzle over every scoop, again and again.
Disclaimer: Thank you West Elm for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are solely mine.
Here's a confession for you, I never liked pears. I didn't hate them but I didn't care for them as much as I liked apples. As a kid, apples were always a better option than pears when I had to choose. And now, I can't even remember the reason for my dislike. Such is the craziness of a picky eater, a fickle minded child! My poor parents.
I doubt I'll plant a pear tree because I have my hands tied with a few plants that I struggle to keep alive but if I did it would be one that bore red Anjou pears. Hopefully, it wouldn't bear one fruit just like my fig and pomegranate plants did this year. (Fingers crossed, next year might be more fruitful)
If you're looking for something sweet and easy to prepare, to top over dishes or serve with a selection of cheeses at a party, then you should consider this pear compote. It also goes great with yogurt (pictured here) and also with sausage. A pinch of black salt (kala namak) and a hint of green cardamom flavor the fruit while it glistens in a golden coat of sweet maple syrup.
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this compote,
- Use ripe pears that have a firm texture so they don't get mushy and fall apart when cooking. Here's a good guide to pears. I used Anjou but Bosc are also a good choice.
- Don't stir the pears too much while they cook. This allows the water to evaporate but also allows the maple syrup to coat the fruit evenly.
- I tend to leave the cardamom pods in the compote but you can discard the green shell after the fruit is cooked.
- Serve this compote as an accompaniment to a cheese platter, over your breakfast oatmeal bowl or yogurt. There's a lot you can do with it. However, do warm it up a little, if you end up refrigerating it. Ghee solidifies as the temperature drops and warming it a little will liquefy it. Just stir it up before use.
pear and ginger compote
yields: 2 cups
4 large pears (approximately 376gm)
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, diced
1 teaspoon ghee
1/4 teaspoon black salt
1 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons water
5 green cardamom pods
1. Core and peel the pears. Dice them into 1/2 inch cubes and keep aside.
2. Add the ghee to a medium-size thick bottomed saucepan and heat on medium-high. Lightly crush the green cardamom pods and add them to the hot ghee and sauté for 10 seconds. Then add the ginger, black salt, maple syrup and water and stir for 30 seconds.
3. Add the diced pears to the ingredients in the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir and cover the saucepan loosely with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. The pears will be golden brown in color and most of the liquid will have evaporated. Remove the saucepan from the stove and transfer the pears to a clean dish or jar. The pear compote can be served warm or at room temperature. You can refrigerate this compote for storage, however warm it a little before serving so the ghee melts.