Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fried Green Tomato Stacks with Goat Cheese, Brown Sugar Bacon, Avocado, and Sriracha Crema



I drove down to the Texas beaches this weekend with some girl friends, and of course Oliver. After our visit to Surfside last year, I've been dying to take him back. I've never seen any animal or human come alive the way that he does at the ocean. This normally calm, gentle giant suddenly dives through waves, gets barrel rolled but comes back for more, and swims circles around the group, all with the biggest smile on his face. It makes my heart so happy to see him that way. (pic below)

After the somewhat long drive home, I almost bailed on the dinner I was planning to make, but I'm so glad I didn't! In my head it seemed complicated and arduous as I drove, but it really was quite easy to pull together, and tasted deeee-lish-ussss. The tomatoes are in season right now at Whole Foods and Central Market, so they're readily available. The mix of flavors and textures is so freaking good. You need to try it for yourself.



Fried Green Tomatoes with Goat Cheese, Brown Sugar Bacon, Avocado, and Sriracha Crema
Serves 2

Ingredients

4 slices bacon
Heavy pinch of brown sugar (approximation)
1 green tomato, sliced into even rounds
1 egg
1/2 c. cornmeal
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/4 t. garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, for frying
2 oz goat cheese
1 avocado, sliced or even mashed
Watercress
1/4 cup creme fraiche, sour cream, greek yogurt or mayo (any would do!)
Sriracha, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350.
Place 4 bacon slices on a cooking sheet and rub the bacon with brown sugar to loosely coat.
Bake until bacon is desired doneness, around 20 minutes, checking on it often.

While the bacon cooks, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk together a bit. In a second bowl, make the breading mix. Combine 1/2 cup each of cornmeal and panko bread crumbs. Add the paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Pour a thin layer of olive oil in the bottom of a sauté pan, and place over medium-high heat. Dip each tomato slice first in the egg, letting the extra run off, then dip in and cover in the breadcrumb mixture.
Keeping space in the pan, add a few slices at a time and fry on each side until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side but check often. With a slotted spatula, remove tomatoes and place on paper towels to collect oil.

Mix the Sriracha Crema in a small bowl. Optional, transfer to ziploc bag or pastry bag for piping.

Remove the bacon when ready and break pieces in half. Assemble stacks using 3 tomato slices each, layering ingredients between them. Top with a little watercress and drizzle with the Sriracha Crema, and eat!

Mine from the top down was:
Crema
Watercress
Avocado slices
Bacon
Tomato
Avocado
Goat Cheese
Tomato
Bacon
Goat Cheese
Tomato




Friday, September 16, 2016

Iced Horchata Latte



Because I lack self control with any kind of spending, I've been trying to set rules for myself.  One of these rules is to stop spending money on coffee outside of the house. I'm in love with my Nespresso, and for my birthday Adam got me a great milk frother to go with it, so I can make as he calls it "frothy coffees" at home. This Iced Horchata Latte is to die for, and doesn't make me miss Starbucks in the slightest.


Iced Horchata Latte 

1 cup rice milk
1/3 cup almonds
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t vanilla extract
Sugar or sweetener, optional
1 shot espresso

Directions

To make the horchata milk, blend first four ingredients in a blender and strain. Since you're going to the effort, you can easily double the recipe to make more and store in the fridge.

Pour over ice and espresso.

Optional: blend the milk on the cold setting with the latte frother before pouring over the ice.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Triple Chocolate Cookies with Salted Caramel Mascarpone Glaze and Butter Roasted Almonds



These cookies. Seriously what is not to love about these cookies? Triple Chocolate? Yes, please! Salted caramel? Mascarpone? Salty, sweet buttery almonds? Yes, yes, yes. Honestly, cookies typically don't excite me very much, but these are the perfect combination of sweet and salty, just the right amount of chocolate, soft throughout, and almost cake-like in texture. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but it's totally worth it, and makes quite a lot of cookies for sharing. The cookies alone would be good, but the glaze is really what takes it over the top.


Ingredients 
Makes about 20-24 cookies

Triple Chocolate Cookies
1 2/3 cup White Lily or other all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
2 T. caramel sauce
1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla extract
3 oz. chocolate bar, chopped in large chunks (I used one with almonds and sea salt)
1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips

Salted Caramel Mascarpone Glaze
4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened (cream cheese would also work just fine)
3 T. prepared caramel sauce, or homemade caramel
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sea salt, to taste

Almond Topping
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 T. butter
1/2 T. brown sugar
1/4 t. sea salt

Directions
  1. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Add butter, brown sugar, and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 3 minutes. Or, add to a large mixing bowl and use a hand mixer.
  3. Add cream cheese, caramel sauce, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat until combined.
  4. Incrementally add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients in the bowl of the mixture. Mix until combined between additions until all dry ingredients are incorporated. 
  5. Stir in chocolate chunks and miniature chocolate chips.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  7. The dough will be very sticky, and difficult to roll, so refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  8. While the dough is cooling, combine all glaze ingredients and add to a Ziploc bag, and trim the corner of the bag for piping. If the glaze is too runny, add some powdered sugar. If too thick, add a teaspoon of milk.
  9. To make the almonds: heat 1 T. butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat until just melted. Add almonds, brown sugar, and salt. Toss to combine and cook until just toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat.
  10. Form 1.5" cookie dough balls (they may not roll perfectly, but they will even a bit during baking) and place on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes.
  11. Allow cookies to cool completely, pipe with glaze, and sprinkle with almonds.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Frosé



You guys. I finally made Frosé. I doubt Frosé is supposed to be capitalized, but it's also not a real word (yet) so it's all good. Labor day is around the corner, and while frozen pink drinks could be enjoyed year round, it just feels right in summer. So make these this holiday weekend, please! The recipe is super easy, and wildly refreshing for the tail end of summer. Cheers!



Frosé 
Makes 4 drinks

1 bottle (750 ml) of dry rose
3/4 c water
3/4 c sugar
Optional: a few drops of orange blossom extract

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a low boil, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool the mixture in the fridge at least 30 minutes until chilled. Churn in an ice cream maker for approximately 25-30 minutes until a thick slush is formed. 

Can be served as a frozen drink immediately, or put in an airtight container in the freezer overnight for more of a sorbet texture.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Sintra, Portugal



Before we even left the US, we were already aware of one snag in our travel plans. The direct flight planned from Lisbon to Tangier, Morocco was pushed back from its original 11:00 am departure (several times) to an ultimate takeoff of 10:00 pm! We found ourselves with a full day to fill, and only a two hour drive from the coast back to Lisbon. Initially, we thought exploring Lisbon would be best, because I'd heard great things, but Pinterest intervened and the rainbow-colored allure of nearby Sintra won out. 

Only thirty minutes outside of Lisbon, Sintra is an idyllic, colorful town filled with 19th century Romantic architecture that's earned a spot as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated among picturesque, lush green mountains, the town is home to both the Pena National Palace and Sintra National Palace, as well as the Gothic estate Quinta de Regaleira.

We both fell in love with Sintra from the moment we pulled into the main square, and were so glad we made the trip... even with the seemingly endless stairs and uphill treks to reach the worthwhile sites at the summit. 

Main Square

Quinta da Regaleira
The Initiation Well - two deep underground wells sit on the property of Quinta da Regaleira, which were never used for water collection, but rather for secret Masonic initiation ceremonies. 
Pena National Palace (aka Candyland in real life)


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Faro, Portugal



A few days into our time in Portugal, the weather was chilly and showers were dotting the forecast. We decided that another beach day wasn't in the cards, so we hopped in the car and took an impromptu trip east to the old town of Faro. I had researched the town a bit while planning, but put it on the "if we have time" list. With no expectations going in, we had the best time exploring this charming city.

Our first stop was a quick walk around Pousada Palacio de Estoi, an 18th century palace turned boutique hotel. The palace and grounds were immaculately kept and restored, with pink exterior walls, an array of hand-painted cement tiles, and interiors fit for a princess.


We left the palace and headed into the center of town, which was one of the cutest old European towns I've ever seen. The sun came out in time for lunch, so we stopped at a quiet outdoor cafe for rosé and cheese (a perfect lunch). The whole day turned out to be a huge success, and we were both so happy we made the trip.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Algarve, Portugal



The Algarve, a region on the southern coast of Portugal long known for having the best beaches in Europe, seems to finally be creeping onto bucket lists of travelers around the world. It's nearly impossible to scroll through Pinterest and not see images of Ponte da Piedade or the unusually beautiful Benagil Sea Caves, and with good reason. The coastline looks like California on steroids, with dramatic cliffs and rock formations jutting down toward clean, sandy beaches. Unfortunately, we hit several days of unseasonably cool temperatures that limited beach time, but it was just as beautiful to explore (with a light jacket).

EAT // Albufeira Gourmet Churrasqueira Take-Away
SEE // Praia da Falesia, Praia do Camilo,  Ponte da Piedade


Our lovely hotel, the Epic SANA Algarve, was located on Praia da Falesia, a beach known for its dramatic red rock cliffs. A series of walking trails along the cliffs and a private stairwell to the water showcase breathtaking views of the beaches below. Finding the silver lining in jet lag, I got up before the sun on our first morning and was met with possibly my favorite sights of our entire trip (sorry Adam, you were sleeping). I had the entire beach to myself, and I will never forget the experience.


Moving west along the coast, we drove to the town of Albufeira and Praia dos Pescadores. The beach here had a totally different vibe, busy with coastal shops, restaurants and bars. We stopped for lunch at the most famous and acclaimed Portuguese chicken spot in the region, which looked like a hole in the wall, but tasted like heaven.


We then set off further along the coast, hitting several must-see beaches (around the Lagos area) along the way. Each was more stunning than the last, with curious rock formations, panoramic views, and natural sea caves.

Praia Dona Ana
Praia do Camilo

The journey culminated with a series of beach views along the peninsula south of Lagos, and the rock formation Ponta da Piedade. We grabbed some beers at a local grocer, zipped our jackets up, and stayed here to watch the sunset. In the end, it was an exciting and fulfilling day of exploring that far surpassed lounging on a hot beach.

Me drinking a beer on a rock summit
My favorite view of Ponte da Piedade