A little over a month ago, I took my first trip to San Francisco. I can't believe it took me so long. One of my traveling traditions is to visit the local farmers' market. To me, the farmers' market is the life of a city I want to see. Shoppers drooling over locally produced goods, enjoying the morning and what the community can provide. There isn’t a better way to start a day. Case in point, refer to the picture below, which was my delicious breakfast.
The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market was a lifelike garden in the middle of winter bleakness, or the black sludge that is currently lining the streets.
Beets. Carrots. Bread. Pastries. Food Euphoria. I tasted, sampled, slurped, and nibbled my way around, yearning for something like this year round in my town. It was difficult not to pack a suitcase full of loot, but with current baggage restrictions and costs, I limited myself to only a few. These items caught my affection right away.
I know. I know. I've committed a cardinal sin of blogging by not including a picture. I apologize for this, but I haven't had a camara for years and I'm illiterate when it comes to a camara phone. I'll work on figuring something out for the near future.
Tired of old man winter? If so, here is a little indulgence to lift your spirits and remind you that spring isn't far away. This lemon ricotta cake is so versatile. You can serve it all year round and dress it up or down depending on the occasion. Serve it with or without the glaze depending on your love of pucker. A dollop of whip cream makes a fabulous garnish too. Enjoy!
Lemon Ricotta Cake
baking nonstick cooking spray (flour added)
12 oz. ricotta cheese
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest
10 oz. sifted cake flour
10 oz. superfine sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, softened
Lemon Glaze (recipe below)
Bring all ingredients to room temperature, ideally between 65°-70° F. Preheat convection oven to 325° F or regular oven to 350° F. Grease a 9” cake pan or 9” springform pan with the baking nonstick cooking spray.
In a food processor, purée the ricotta cheese, eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest until smooth. Set aside.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed for about 30 seconds. Add the softened butter and ½ the ricotta mixture. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients moisten. Turn speed up to medium and mix for 1½ minutes. Scrape down the bowl’s sides. Add the rest of the ricotta mixture in two batches, mixing for 20 seconds after the addition of each batch. Scrape down the bowl’s sides and mix until just combined.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Smooth surface with an offset spatula. Bake for 50-60 minutes; test for doneness by inserting a small knife, toothpick or cake tester into the cake’s middle. Cake is done when gadget comes out clean.
Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.
Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and unmold the cake or remove the sides of the springform pan. Allow the cake to cool completely on the rack.
Place rack on top of a baking sheet. Pour lemon glaze over cake. Use an offset spatula to spread glaze evenly over the top. Let dry completely before serving. Store cake at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
6 oz. confectioner’s sugar
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ Tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until the sugar completely dissolves. Let stand 10 minutes.
---Authored by Wendy
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides of a 10-inch springform pan.
In an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until airy and a pale yellow color, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter and chips together in double boiler over a simmer.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs 1/3 at a time. Pour the chocolate mixture into the springform pan. Bake for 20 minutes. The cake will not look done after 20 minutes. Take it out of the oven!
Cool the cake on a cooling rack. Refrigerate until hardened. Remove from the pan and serve with whip cream.
Whipped Cream1 cup heavy whipping cream
Chill your mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 15 minutes. Whisk the cream, sugar and cinnamon until the cream forms a soft peak.
Use a good quality chocolate like Guittard or Callebaut.
A couple of years ago, I started teaching chocolate and wine pairing classes with a local sommelier. What great nights! Not only have I been able to teach and guide participants through the world of chocolate, but I’ve learned a little about wine. The following is a guide to having your own party.This past Wednesday night, I had a chocolate and wine pairing party with me, myself, and I. Below is the process I used for the buying part and the tasting part. My number one rule is have fun! Buy wine and chocolate that looks good or sounds interesting. Don’t give yourself any boundaries.
Relax Riesling (I liked the bottle)
Shooting Star Barbera
I made my own chocolates for this pairing. These delicacies are some of the more popular flavors amongst my friends and coworkers. Whether you're making your own or buying from the store, buy a mix of what you like. I usually taste four chocolates because much more gets overwhelming. If you don’t like filled chocolates, buy a variety of chocolate bars.
The Pairing Process
Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Lips: a white chocolate ganache mixed with pureed strawberries and reduced balsamic vinegarLemon Drop Lips: white chocolate ganache infused with lemon rind and mixed with lemon juice
Almond Sea Salt Squares: roasted almonds ground to a peanut butter consistency and mixed with milk chocolate and sea salt
Whiskey and Spice: bittersweet chocolate ganache mixed with whiskey, paprika and black pepper
And now, to taste...
Ask Yourself:What Paired Well?
Do you like the pairing?
Does the chocolate enhance the wine?
Does the wine enhance the chocolate?
Relax Riesling + Lemon DropResources
Relax Rielsing + Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar
Relax Rielsing + Almond Sea Salt
Relax Rielsing + Whiskey & Spice
Crios Rosé of Malbec + Lemon Drop
Crios Rosé of Malbec + Almond Sea Salt
Crios Rosé of Malbec + Whiskey & Spice
Shooting Star Barbera + Lemon Drop
Shooting Star Barbera + Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar
Shooting Star Barbera + Almond Sea Salt
Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon + Lemon Drop
Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon + Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar
Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon + Almond Sea Salt
Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon + Whiskey & Spice
The Overall Winner: Almond Sea Salt-it paired well with everything!
In my opinion, everyone should have a chocolate sauce recipe up their sleeve. It’s so simple and so much better than the dark filled jars we can get at the store. All it contains is cream, chocolate and your choice of flavorings.To get started, I went to one of my favorite books, The Flavor Bible, and looked for chocolate pairings. My first thought was a wine and chocolate sauce, but I decided to make a ginger orange chocolate sauce. I’ve been craving something with spice. Then, I checked my second favorite book, Ratio, to determine the amount of cream and chocolate needed for a sauce: one part chocolate and one part cream. After skimming through the book, I realized that Michael Ruhlman listed a recipe for ginger orange chocolate truffles. Since I think this book rocks, I knew I was onto something good.
Not to sound corny, but my first thought, after the first of many licks, was harmony. The orange zest came through first, then the ginger lingered in my mouth daring me to take another spoonful. So, I complied. Again. And again. The ingredients created a perfect friendship. I paired it with Haagen Dazs Pineapple Coconut Ice Cream. A delightful hump day treat!
Ginger Orange Chocolate Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
8 oz. heaving whipping cream
1-1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into 5 chunks
1 Tbsp. of orange zest
6 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 oz. white chocolate
Combine the cream, ginger, and orange zest in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Once the cream starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let the ginger and orange zest steep in the cream for 30 minutes.
Reheat the cream to a boil. When it begins to boil, remove from heat, and strain the cream into the bowl of chocolate. Let the chocolate and cream sit for 2 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt. Mix the chocolate and cream until smooth.
Serve with ice cream or eat with a spoon.
I love fried rice the way I love a vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting. I must have it! This past summer, I experimented with fried rice recipes in my search to eat more whole grains and vegetables. The recipe I originally used was from Penzey’s Spices, a fragrant store conveniently located about five blocks from my apartment. They send out a catalog every few months chock full of recipes from readers, and the summer issue included a vegetarian fried rice spiced with ginger, red pepper flakes and black pepper. I was intrigued.
Taking the original recipe, I tweaked the ingredients by exchanging brown rice for white rice and adding some more vegetables, but felt I made more of a stir-fry rather than fried rice. The final dish was too saucy and the vegetables didn’t have much taste. So, I googled and found a great blog entry by Jaden of the Steamy Kitchen. She gives readers 4 key secrets of making fried rice. First, use cold rice because warm rice will create too much moisture. Second, use high heat to quickly fry each ingredient. Third, cook each ingredient separately to give each its own taste. Lastly, don’t touch the rice while frying. Resist the temptation to pick up the wooden spoon!
Applying these secrets made the difference. The rice had a crispy layer, the vegetables were flavorful and distinct, and the ginger and red pepper added a spicy depth. My serving didn't even make it to the plate.Ginger Fried Rice
Serves 44 cups cold brown rice
Whip the egg in a small bowl. Add 2 tsp. oil to a small nonstick pan. Heat over medium heat until the oil is hot. Pour eggs into pan to make a thin layer, reduce heat to medium low and cook without stirring or flipping for about 3 minutes. Slide out of pan and roll up. Let cool a bit and then thinly slice. Set aside.Heat the wok pan over high heat with the 1 tsp. oil. When hot, add the broccoli and fry 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Sprinkle with cashews. Enjoy hot.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!Peanut Butter Chocolate Smoothie