Posts made in March, 2016

Shortbread with a Pucker

Posted by on Mar 30, 2016 in Desserts | 1 comment

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Beckie, my childhood friend, messaged me wondering how she and her daughters might host a bridal shower dessert bar.  I suggested mini sandwiches and desserts, including lemon bars.

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For many years, my go-to lemon squares were baked on a large sheet pan which produced two dozen.

That changed when I found Zov’s Bistro, famous Luscious Lemon Squares, in a coffee table cookbook, ZOV, Recipes and Memories from the Heart.

Nowadays, these lofty, rich shortbread beauties layered with bright tart lemon curd, beg to be celebrated, and they couldn’t be easier to prepare.  Exercising a few extra steps produces clean and glossy bites.

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To get started, spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking oil; then line it with parchment paper spraying the layers with more cooking oil.  This creates a handle to lift the dessert out of the pan; in addition, my baking pan has a removable bottom.

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Using a food processor, pulse together, flour, powdered sugar, salt,

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and cold butter just until moist crumbs are formed.

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Drop the crumbs into the prepared pan and lightly press them into an even layer;

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bake until pale golden.

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In my oven, this happens in about 20 minutes, while I prepare the curd. (No need to wash the food processor either!)

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Whisk the topping ingredients: sugar, eggs, flour, lemon juice, and zest, just until combined.

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If you over process the curd, too much air may be incorporated; this may cause cracking.  Sometimes it happens anyway—

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No need to cool the crust, pour the topping over the crust and return it to bake and set up, for another 20 minutes.

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Allow the pastry to cool completely; then cover loosely and refrigerate until cold.

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Later, lift from the pan and set on a cutting board.

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I divide it into quarters; work each quarter into 4 squares with a sharp knife.

Using a small strainer, dust plenty of powdered sugar over the lemon squares; carefully place each one on a festive serving platter or cake stand.

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These are for you, Beckie!

Zov's Bistro Lemon Squares

Ingredients

  • Crust:
  • Nonstick vegetable spray
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Lemon Topping:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest
  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, F. Spray an 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Blend the butter, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor until moist crumbs form. Add the flour. Using the on/off button, pulse until the flour is incorporated and moist crumbs form. Gently press the dough evenly over the bottom of the prepared dish (not the sides). Bake until the crust is pale golden on top, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, to prepare the lemon topping, Whisk the granulated sugar, eggs, flour, lemon peel, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Whisk in the lemon juice. Pour the lemon mixture over the hot baked crust. Bake until the lemon mixture is just set in the center, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until cold.
  3. Cut the pastry into squares. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
  4. Makes 16 squares
  5. Recipe Source: Zov’s Bistro, Tustin, (Orange County) California
http://cococooks.net/shortbread-with-a-pucker/

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Beets, Citrus, and Peas.

Posted by on Mar 28, 2016 in Salad | 1 comment

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Spring Beet and Pea Salad is chef-speak for,

“After many steps, you can taste the season!"

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And, I suppose I had time to build this beautiful salad created by Chef Robbie Wilson of Bird Dog in Palo Alto, California; lured by our love of colorful earthy beets, abundant fresh citrus and petite peas.

Of course, I bucked off the recipe by boiling the beets instead of roasting; honestly, because it’s quicker, less messy, and they peel easily. It beats me if beets retain acidity by roasting…  Clean the beets and leave the root and one inch of the stem attached.   Separate the beets into different pots to retain their natural colors.  Cover with water and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the beets are tender.  This varies according to their size; usually about 20 minutes. Drain; set aside.  When they are cool enough to handle; slip off the skins.

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Cooking quick fresh ricotta with a cup of milk, plain yogurt and cider vinegar happens astonishingly-- in a microwave minute (or three, actually). Curds and whey.

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The salad is dressed with a light citrus dressing utilizing both grapefruit and blood orange juices.

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I pulled it all together for a main dish platter supper, layering lightly dressed lettuces from our neighbors’ garden (thank you, Jason).  Then, arrange painstakingly supremed blood orange segments, golden beets and deep red ones in sets-- with sprinkles of fresh chives, mint, parsley, peas and crumbles of the home-made cheese.

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In the end, it was totally worth the journey and I’ll gladly hike that spring trail again!

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The Best Things

Posted by on Mar 25, 2016 in New | 3 comments

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On an evening last November, our friend, son’s Boy Scout leader, and former mayor of Newport Beach received an award of his own, recognizing, honoring and celebrating his elite status, and professional civic achievements.

Don contacted us while he was reviewing service records and compiling remarks for the prestigious event reception.  An incomplete worksheet for an Eagle candidate appeared where two older brothers had completed their ranks years before.  In April of 1995, that candidate was close to completing his own Eagle badges and submitted requirements to Don, his scoutmaster, and petition for final project approval.  Then, just six days short of his 15th birthday, that candidate, Gray Lunde collapsed at a water polo practice and later died.

At that time, Don contacted the Boy Scouts of America and diligently attempted to recognize Gray for his accomplishments—without success. In our aching and significant grief, that memory faded.

Now twenty years later, Don’s second effort honored our noble son, Gray, as the newly created Spirit of the Eagle Award was graciously given to our family as a salute and tribute.

Sharing this with you on Good Friday seems right; placing a consummate bookend on an everlasting shelf—finished.

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Our gratitude is immeasurable.

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Our son, Cole accepted the award.

Winston Churchill had planned his funeral, which took place in Saint Paul's Cathedral.  He included many of the great hymns of the church and used the eloquent Anglican liturgy.  At his direction, a bugler, positioned high in the dome of Saint Paul's, intoned, after the benediction, the sound of "Taps", the universal signal that says the day is over.

But then came the most dramatic turn: as Churchill instructed, as soon as "Taps" was finished, another bugler, placed on the other side of the great dome, played the notes of "Reveille" -- "It's time to get up.  It's time to get up.  It's time to get up in the morning."

That was Churchill's testimony that at the end of history, the last note will not be "Taps"; it will be "Reveille".

The worst things are never the last things.

-- John Claypool

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Tofu Tussle

Posted by on Mar 23, 2016 in Tofu | 0 comments

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Bon Appetit posted a collection of tofu recipes and remarked surprise at strong reactions.  It’s true—love or disdain tofu, whether healthy or poisonous; science too-- has been wondering since the 1960’s.

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On that note, this tofu stir-fry, with unlikely characters was a towering hit.  Summon, Brussels sprouts, Korean pepper paste, (Gochujang) and crunchy water chestnuts to join up with toasty tofu; and then—

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fragrant gingered black rice nuanced with lemon grass and dusted with magic unsweetened coconut dust, whispers forbidden in a real good way.

Mise en place, or putting in place the essentials is the secret to any quick meal; but it requires sorting and staging.

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For the Black Rice with Coconut, little is needed.

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I must say, I’ve never used lemon grass; easy peasy.

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Toss it all in a rice cooker and watch a movie or something.

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Better yet, prep sauce, tofu (note, I prepared only one tub of tofu), garlic, and the dolly cabbages.

When the rice cooker gives you a 10-minute warning, heat a wok or skillet; power up Brussels Sprouts and Tofu Stir-Fry.

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 Quick, crunchy, spicy, and improbably o'so delicious!

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Eyes wide open for cogent science; I love tofu.

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Springtime Colors

Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 in Salad | 0 comments

The beginning of spring is noticeable now

First Day of Spring 2016

with well-fed roses in bloom;

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heirloom tomatoes take root-- promising June fruit.

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Timeless Traditions

And, Holy week arrived like unexpected tears.

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Citrus stands alone on the tables of our favorite market fruiterie: oranges, lemons,

Female farmer with her pomelo farm. - stock photo

Southeast Asian, giant grapefruit look-alike, pomelos, endless sweet or tart clementine and tangelo varieties, and fleeting

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dangerous appearing blood oranges.

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So, in honor of bud-break and everything pastel, I created a fancy versatile and creamy lavender salad dressing; a blend of blood orange citrus, Miso, rice vinegar, and oil.

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Equal parts of each element, means you whisk enough

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for a small salad,

or paddle a boatload to dress a platter of mixed

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greens, fresh and roasted vegetables and whatever your heart ♥ delights.

Blood Orange Miso Viniagrette

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons organic white Miso paste
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil (like canola)
  • 1 teaspoon honey (to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Combine Miso paste, rice wine vinegar, and blood orange juice together. Whisk oil into the mixture in small amounts until slightly thickened. Add honey, salt and pepper to taste.
http://cococooks.net/springtime-colors/

 

 

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