Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hand-Rolled {Gluten-Free} Noodles On the Noodle Road #FoodieReads



This is going to be a much more productive month for my Foodie Reads Challenge. Earlier this month I was unpacking (yes, we have been in this house for a year!) and uncovered a box of foodie reads that I have yet to read. Sweet! I happily dove into this one and finished it last week.



Today, I'm sharing thoughts about On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta by Jen Lin-Liu*Lin-Liu is a Chinese-American journalist and owner/chef at Black Sesame Kitchen, her restaurant and cooking school in Beijing. This is part odyssey, part travelogue, part documentary and commentary on the state of the female condition as individuals and wives, and part cookbook in a tiny way. She does include several recipes per region that she's visited in the narrative.

On the Page
On the Noodle Road is Lin-Liu's attempt to unearth the answer to the question: Did Marco Polo really bring noodles from China to Italy? And, if not, from where did they really come?

To do so, she sets off on an overland route of the Silk Road, traveling from China to Italy via the western territories, Iran, Turkey, and Greece. And while it's a search for the truth of the noodle's origin, it's just as much a quest for her own identity.

Along her journey, Lin-Liu eats, cooks, eats, and cooks some more. Meals are her currency. As she travels, she swaps Chinese meals for Uighur, Central Asian, Persian, and Turkish cooking lessons.

Readers who anticipate following Lin-Liu's quest in one continuous strand will be disappointed. She traverses rice country - China and Iran - and explores bread country - everywhere else really - and finds noodles are not primary in any of the areas she visits. So, after nearly seven thousand miles, she still doesn't have an answer. Whoops. That's a spoiler. Sorry.

On the Noodle Road ends up being many things, including a search to carve out her place in the world, to define - or at least - embrace being a wife and a mother. As she ends her journey, she discovers that she's pregnant with her first child. Okay...another spoiler.

While I enjoyed the book, it definitely didn't answer the question Lin-Liu posed.

On the Plate

We make a lot of noodles, including: Gluten-Free RombiHand-Rolled, Hand-Cut Spinach Papardelle; and Maltagliati . So, I had the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf hand-roll some gluten-free noodles for me.

Ingredients
  • 2 C all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • water


Procedure
Place all of the dry ingredients in the body of the food processor. Add the eggs. Pulse. Add in 1 T water at a time until it comes together in a ball. Turn the dough onto a floured cutting board and knead until smooth and elastic, approximately 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

To roll: Slice your dough ball into quarters. Cover the portions you aren't rolling. Turn the rested dough out onto a lightly dusted board and roll out as thinly as you can. I found that rolling it into a long rectangle make the most even strips. If you don't have a rolling pin, a wine bottle works well! 

Once the pasta dough is as thin as you can get it, starting at one (short) end of the rectangle, roll the dough into a cylinder.

  
With a sharp knife, hand cut the roll into pieces whose width is the width you want for your pasta. I went about the width of linguine. Carefully unroll the strips and you're all set.


You can hang them to dry a little bit before cooking. We usually just hang them to get them off the counter. 


Cook in salted, boiling water. Because they are fresh, they cook fairly quickly. As soon as they float, they are ready. Drain and use with your favorite sauce.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.



Here's what everyone else read in August 2017: here.

A Summery Salad and a Plea: Support Local Farms. Eat Seasonally.


I know I'm spoiled to live on California's central coast. The weather is temperate. The views are phenomenal. And, then, there's the food. Fresh, gorgeous produce abounds. And we're lucky enough to have farmers' markets all year round, multiple days of the week. Additionally, many local farms offer CSA programs.

I read a newsletter from one such farm and was disheartened to hear about a larger company, essentially, hijacking screen space on a search engine. Less savvy consumers sign up, thinking that they are supporting a local, organic farm. They are not. Click to read High Ground Organics' newsletter from this week: here.


So, here's my plea: Whether you go to farmers' markets every week (or multiple times a week) or you subscribe to a CSA, please, please, pretty please, support local farms and eat seasonally!


Why Eat Local?
People define 'local' differently. I've heard it as 'within your state', but California is a large state. I mean, we drive over nine hours to visit my in-laws and we're still in California! I've also heard it defined as 'within a 100-mile radius.' That's slightly better. But, for me, if I can, I try to support people within my county and within my city when possible. And, better yet, if I can meet the farmer and visit the farm, I do! Not only do I want my kids to know that food doesn't just appear in the grocery store, wrapped in cellophane; I want my kids to know the faces and hands behind the food that we eat. Local food nourishes my family and bolsters the community and local economy.


Why Eat Seasonally?
About eating seasonally, I've heard people object that "it's in season somewhere on the globe." Refer to the first part of my plea - please eat local. So, when I urge you to eat seasonally, I mean in season in your area.

Seasonal produce tastes better. Nothing is worse than mealy tomatoes, pithy apples, or limp greens, right? Because it's naturally ripened and harvested at the proper time, in-season produce has richer flavor and more nutrition.

A Summery Salad

During the summer months, I love to make quick salads with whatever fresh produce I have. I pick three or four items with varying colors (yes, I cook by color!). If I have fresh herbs, I'll toss those in, but they aren't necessary. This is easy, seasonal, local, and delicious.

Ingredients

  • lemon cucumbers
  • watermelon
  • tomatoes
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil


Procedure
Wash produce and slice or cut into bite-sized pieces. Place in a serving bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Brennan's Bananas Foster #FantasticalFoodFight


I love the Fantastical Food Fight coordinated by Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. For more information about the event, click here. I haven't been very good at participating, but this month, I couldn't resist. We were given the challenge of making a recipe with rum. So. Many. Possibilities. I did test a Honey and Rum-Glazed Salmon that didn't quite make the cut, but it was a nice starting point and a tasty dinner.


All the Rum Creations

Brennan's Bananas Foster

This is a riff on the Bananas Foster recipe from the original creator of this dessert: Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans. In 1951, Chef Paul created Bananas Foster, naming it for Richard Foster, a frequent customer and very good friend.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 4 bananas, sliced into thick coins
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Procedure

Combine the butter and sugar in medium skillet. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. 

The sugar will dissolve, bubble, begin to burn, and form a smooth caramel.



Place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften, carefully add the rum.


Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames die down, scoop the bananas over ice cream in individual serving dishes. Generously spoon warm caramel sauce over the top and serve immediately.

Honey and Rum-Glazed Salmon


I tested a few rum recipes for this month's Fantastical Food Fight hosted by Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. For more information about the event, click here


The recipe I picked will post later tonight, but I wanted to share this one as a bonus. It was a tasty dinner albeit a bit sweet for our palates. I'll have to play with it to get it a bit more savory. But it was good.


Ingredients
  • 3 T raw, unfiltered honey
  • 3 T rum
  • 2 T gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 T peeled fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lime juice 
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 pound wild caught salmon filet
  • Also needed: grill or grill pan, oil for the grill



Procedure
Whisk together first 7 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Place salmon in a shallow dish with a lid. Pour marinade over the fish. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Turn the fish at least twice during the hour.

Heat a grill or grill pan, coating the pan with oil. Place the fish on the grill, skin-side down. Cook until the fish is opaque a little more than halfway up. For a 1" thick filet, it'll take about 4 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes before serving.


I served it with a few different salads, including a fresh slaw, a raw beet salad, and a potato salad.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Creme Brûlée #JuliaChild


Cynthia of Feeding Big invited us to post some Julia Child-inspired recipes in honor of what would have been Julia's 105th birthday. Julia Child was an American chef, cookbook author, and television personality who is lauded for bringing French cuisine to the American public with her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her television programs, including The French Chef, which premiered in 1963.

While I do remember watching her on PBS as a child, many might have only become familiar with her while watching the 2009 movie Julie & Julia. I was tickled to see so many different Child-inspired recipes today. Happy birthday, Julia!

The French Feast

Creme Brûlée

I started with Julia's basic Creme Brûlée recipe and added some puréed roasted apple.

Ingredients
  • 1/3 C organic granulated sugar
  •  6 egg yolks
  • 2 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 T zest from 1 organic orange
  • 1 t vanilla  paste
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 3/4 C roasted apple purée (I used 4 Granny Smith apples and had a little bit of leftover)
  • 4 to 6 ramekins or small, oven-proof mugs
  • 3 T organic granulated sugar
  • Also needed: blender or food processor, culinary torch



Procedure
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Slice apples in half, core and peel. Coat apples with olive oil and place them in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pour water in the pan. Roast until soft, approximately 1 hour. Remove from the oven and bring apples to room temperature. Place apples into blender or food processor and blend until puréed. Measure 3/4 of a cup for recipe. Use the rest for another dish.


Cream the egg yolks and 1/3 C sugar until pale yellow and thickened. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine heavy whipping cream, orange zest and spices in a saucepan and heat on medium, until bubbles begin to form along the edge of the pan, just before it begins to simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla paste and apple puree. Then whisk in the egg yolk mixture, whisking until smooth. 


Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, if desired. Portion evenly into ramekins.


Bake in a 350 degree F oven until no liquid appears when you jiggle the jars, approximately 40 minutes. 


Remove from oven and allow to cool.



When you're ready to torch them, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar on top of each custard. 


Using a small butane torch, hover a flame over the sugar, moving it around until the sugar caramelizes.


My Precise Kitchen Elf is always the first to offer to help when the torch is involved!


As you can tell, we loved this dessert. Can't wait to try it again soon. Maybe with pumpkin in a month or so!

In Search of an Aniseed Liqueur Recipe #FoodieReads


I decided to share this book with the Foodie Reads Challenge, not because it involves a lot of food (it doesn't), but because I'm inspired to track down a recipe (help!). The Spy: A Novel of Mata Hari by Paulo Coehlo* has me longing to make my own aniseed liqueur. I had some fennel liqueur in my cabinet...that's a good place to start, right?

On the Page
Before I picked up this book, I had never heard of Mata Hari. Mata Hari is the stage name for Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod, née Zelle, a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was accused of espionage during World War I. She was convicted of spying for the Germans and executed by firing squad in France.

Coehlo's book is a quick, easy read that succeeded in piquing my interest in her. I plan to read Mata Hari: The Controversial Life and Legacy of World War I’s Most Famous Spy by Charles River Editors and Mata Hari's Last Dance: A Novel by Michelle Moran. Soon!

Here's the passage that inspired me...

When I entered the office, I saw a man surrounded by every luxury denied to the Dutch: imported cigarettes and cigars, libations from the four corners of Europe,cheeses and charcuterie that had been rationed in the city's markets. ...He got up, asked what I would like to drink. I chose aniseed liqueur, which the consul served himself in Bohemian crystal glasses (pg. 116).

In the Bottle
It turns out that aniseed liqueur is not as uncommon as I thought. In France, they have Absinthe; in Italy,  you'd find Galliano and Sambuca; and, in Greece, it's Ouzo. Other versions include Columbian Aguardiente, Spanish Anis de Toro, Middle Eastern Arak, Bulgarian Mastika, and Turkish Raki. So, does anyone have a recipe I can try?

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.



Here's what everyone else read in August 2017: here.

Fieldwork: About IBUs and Tasting Notes


We've been waiting and waiting for Fieldwork Brewing to open their Monterey location. They finally got all their inspections done and beer was trucked in on Friday.


Pouring began on Saturday. So, on Sunday, Jake and I ran over there for a quick flight before dinner.


Fieldwork Brewing is a craft brewery that started in Berkeley and has taprooms in Napa, Sacramento, and San Mateo. And, now, they have an outpost here. It's a funky location - sandwiched in between Peet's Coffee and the historic Cooper-Molera Adobe - with an equally funky vibe. Think industrial steel mixed with twinkle lights. Jake claimed the wooden rocking chair right near the fire pit; my chair didn't rock. And our boys camped out at the metal table in the corner, noshing on their snacks from Trader Joe's.

About that, Fieldwork doesn't have a food menu, so they welcome outside food. I do wonder if they'll eventually have food available to order...or maybe partner with a local food truck. They did mention that the permanent furniture hadn't arrived yet. And they will be bringing in heaters soon.


Being unfamiliar with their brews, we opted for a tasting flight. Jake picked two and I picked two. There were eleven on tap yesterday. It was a nice option to have the $2 taster pours; they also offer half glasses and full glasses. They also have 16-ounce cans of different brews that are to takeout only. We did leave with a can of Father of the Wolf, but we haven't tried that yet.

But, first, I want to comment on IBUs. Jake says I'm not a typical customer. I still think most beer drinkers will know and might select their beers based on IBUs. I found it very strange that (1) Fieldwork doesn't list the IBUs on their tasting menu and (2) the server I asked didn't know what I meant by IBU. That said, he did provide me with their beer specs and they have a bitterness scale for each beer there, rating them as low, medium, or high bitterness.

About IBUs
An IBU is a unit of measurement that measures how bitter a beer is, literally measuring the parts per million of isohumulone which is created as hops breakdown in the brew. But as brewing beer is an art of balancing ingredients and taste, a high IBU brew may be perceived as being less bitter if balanced with other flavors. For example, an Amber that measures 65 IBUs may taste less bitter than an IPA that clocks in at only 45 IBUs because the IBU scale is simply a component measurement. It's not about perception or preference. 

The scale goes from 0 IBU to infinity, though you'll rarely see a beer with an IBU rating of higher than 120. Still, there is a sweet spot - for me - and I'll usually stick to beers with an IBU below 60 and Jake prefers them even less bitter. So, we like to have IBUs on beers menus so we know where to start.

What We Tasted

Farmhouse Wheat Saison
This is their take on the classic Saisons of Belgium and France. It was wheat-heavy with strong grassy notes and a hint of citrus. This was my favorite of the four we tried. It was refreshingly light, but flavorful. If we were staying longer - or had food - I would have ordered a full glass of this one.

Lilith Belgian Golden Ale
We disagreed on this beer. The Lilith was Jake's favorite in that it has a classic flavor profile and style; I didn't think it was anything special. "Beer doesn't always have to be unique, does it?" he asked. Well, no. But that's one of the hallmarks of craft beer, for me. I like brewers who are pushing the envelope a little bit.

Shoot the Moon American Stout
I usually really like stouts. I like the heft and boldness of the beers. This one, however, had a little bit more bitterness and astringency than I expected. This was the only pour that neither of us drank.


Smoakland Smoked Porter
Before craft brewers took to adding chocolate, milk, and nut butters to Porters, the hallmark of the brew was smoke. For the Smoakland, the brewers smoked the oats over oak barrel staves that had housed bourbon. This is a delicious Porter that boasts a delightful chewy smokiness.

I was interested in getting a can of their sour, called Jelly Packet. But that was sold out. I did take home their Father of the Wolf, an aged Russian Imperial Stout. I'll report back on that soon.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Kobza Rosé with a Summery Grilled Haloumi Salad #WinePW


It's still summer, right?! Even though my kids are back in school, I was excited to see Lori of Dracaena Wine inviting the Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers to share their pairings with Rosés. Read her invitation: here. If you're reading this early enough, join us for a chat on Twitter; you can follow the conversation by using hashtag #WinePW.

A Rosé - a Rosada in Spain and Portugal and a Rosata in Italy -  is a type of wine that incorporates the grape skins enough to color the wine. They range in color from a pale salmon pink to an almost vivid magenta, depending on the grape varietal used and the wine-making techinique. They also run the flavor gamut from dry to sweet.


The #WinePW Bouquet of Rosés


In My Glass
I spoke to Ryan Kobza years ago. Then, he wasn't making his own wines. So, I was doubly excited to give this a try. Ryan has a thing for ancient vines, as in more than a century old. Additionally, this wine is made from an obscure French grape called "Mourtaou." Old and obscure...that's my kinda wine.

My first rule for a Rosé is that it must be charming, but charming in the je ne sais quoi way - the sly, sideways glance kinda charming - not the Disney Prince kinda charming. This one hits charming out the park.

It has an impressive earthiness with a subtle acidity. The notes of tart grapefruit and honeyed peach shockingly do not compete; instead they meld seamlessly for a complex flavor profile that pleases from beginning to the end. It's curvy, fresh, and quickly cemented itself as one of my favorite summer sips.


On My Plate
There's nothing more summery than a salad of sun-kissed watermelon and vine-ripened tomatoes. When you add haloumi to the top, it's dinner!

Summery Grilled Haloumi Salad

Haloumi originated in Cyprus, during the Medieval period, and gained popularity throughout the Middle East. Since Cypriots like eating haloumi with watermelon in the summer months, I decided to do the same...with some fresh tomatoes from the farmers' market.

Ingredients
  • heirloom tomatoes
  • seedless watermelon
  • haloumi cheese
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh thyme
  • Also needed: grill or grill pan



Procedure
Slice tomatoes and watermelon and place on serving platter. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and fresh thyme leaves.

Heat the grill pan over medium heat and grease with oil. Lay slices of haloumi on the grill and cook until nice char marks appear, approximately a minute or so. Flip over and grill on the other side.


To serve, place a slice of grilled haloumi on top of the salad. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.

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