Happy New Year! While Chrystal is still partying it up in the UK, I’m back home recovering from a hectic holiday season–and by “hectic,” I mean gluttonous. Like everyone else, I have plans to kick of the year right by eating mostly lighter, healthier foods to help balance out the last several weeks of meal indulgence. For some reason, though, I’m not quite ready to switch gears. (Am I the only one?) If you’re like me at the moment, this moist polenta cake is one last indulgence you can feel good about. What better way to segue into 2014!
This is one of those recipes that came to life while being slightly intoxicated. I was enjoying a simple cucumber vodka and soda cocktail at home — several months ago Chrystal and I discovered Effen Cucumber Vokda at a tasting event, so I always grab a bottle when I see it at the store…it’s that good! Halfway through my refreshing libation, I had a sudden thought to translate this glorious drink somehow into a dish. It’s summer and sunny, I remember thinking, so a sorbet seemed perfect. The next moment, I was taking a quick stroll to my corner liquor store to get some airplane-sized bottles of Effen Cucumber Vodka.
One evening over the 4th of July holiday weekend, I found myself with an unusual episode of insomnia. As I clicked through the channels on my remote control, I came across a familiar TV personality on PBS: it was Martha Stewart! I settled on her cooking show, that was just getting starting, and watched her detail the makings of a perfect dessert tart. At nearly 1:30 in the morning, this was not helping me to fall asleep. Instead, I grabbed pen and paper and took notes while drooling over her beautiful creations. Fast forward to a couple weeks later, I was in need of a dessert for an upcoming dinner party. I remembered my desire to make a tart after watching her show. That’s when I decided this would be a great opportunity to make Martha proud with one of my creations.
Rachel is a good friend and fellow food enthusiast. In this month’s Guest Test Kitchen she shares a beloved family recipe for clafoutis, which is a French custard-pie-like dessert with fruit baked throughout. We’re honored to have her as one of our guest contributors. This recipe looks delightful, and we can’t wait to make it for ourselves. Here’s Rachel with more–enjoy!
The 4th Annual Los Angeles Street Food Fest is fast approaching, a one-day tasting event where eager eaters gather to sample some of LA’s newest and most prominent food vendors, stands, chefs, pop-ups, restaurants, carts, and more. A week ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to a media preview of this year’s food fest. Nearly a dozen select food venders packed into LA’s Guelaguetza Restaurant, where they shared tastings of their dishes ahead of the main event. It was a night of gluttony, for we all spent a couple hours tasting a variety of flavors that spun all over the food spectrum.
It is always great when we can sit back and feature a guest post from a fellow food enthusiast. This is actually the first of two posts for the month. Today, travel writer and food lover Kendra Thornton shares a gluten-free cookie recipe. If you search around for Kendra online, you’ll find that she does not have a food blog, but she has submitted several guest postings for other bloggers. Her recipes tend to be inspired by travels, and both Amir and I understand what it is like to keep the memory of a great meal or snack in your back pocket until you return home. It is always nice to relive a vacation through food. This time, Kendra’s gluten-free dessert is a tribute to one of her trips to Walt Disney World.
Chrystal and I began another “vegan” challenge at the beginning of 2013 with a few of our friends. I like to think of it as an exercise in disciplined and thoughtful eating. Each one of us, however, built in a few of our own separate dietary modifications this time around–which is why “vegan” rightfully is in quotations. For me, I’m giving myself the okay to consume honey, as one example. But all in all, we’re committed to 90 days of meatless, non-dairy eating.
This Christmas I was gifted a culinary blow torch. I was itching to fire up my new kitchen toy the moment I opened the box. Of course, the first dish that comes to mind that utilizes a torch is the popular dessert crème brûlée, or “burned cream.” It’s made up of very few ingredients, but the main players of the dish are always eggs and cream. No bueno! That doesn’t work with our new break on dairy. Nevertheless, I was determined to have my crème brûlée and eat it too!
I have a feeling no one noticed we did not post an Ethnic Exploration at the end of June. It slipped through the cracks as we both found ourselves wrapped up with individual, Duo and group related projects and events. We’ve do try to maintain a regular posting schedule, especially when it comes to the monthly Guest Test Kitchen and Ethnic Exploration features. Last week I sent an text to Amir that said “Um, did I ever write the Austrian EE?” There were at least 17 question marks and exclamation points, but I’ll spare you the overkill. I accept full responsibility for dropping the ball! You guys are always so forgiving and understanding, so we know that you’ll let it slide. When you see the Austrian sweet treat that landed on our plates, you’ll let it slide with a smile.
Not everything in life has to be complicated. As self-proclaimed foodies, we like to spend time in the kitchen trussing chickens, making sausage from scratch, whipping up dishes with truffle flavored foie gras, or serving picturesque baked delights (French macarons anyone?). On the other hand, we’re not ashamed to admit there are times when we succumb to semi-homemade cooking and eating. Perhaps our eggless ice cream from last week will come to mind. We don’t care if you judge us! The easiest treats can sometimes make you forget about all of those fancy dishes.
Today seemed like a good day to talk about ice cream. Not because of the holiday and not because of the summer weather. Mostly because there hasn’t been an ice cream post on this site in the longest time. Last August, there was a Double Chocolate Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Cups based on one of Alton Brown’s recipes. That one was rich, smooth and creamy due to the chocolate of course, but also half a dozen egg yolks. Just imagine. This summer, there have been a few successful ice creams churned in the kitchen that do not include eggs. Yes, you can whisk together an eggless ice cream base in seconds, churn it in minutes and eat it not long afterwards. It is the best way to have homemade ice cream in no time if you’re feeling somewhat lazy. Surely, someone knows that being lazy can result in glorious results.