Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vanilla Gelato and a #foodmemory Guest Post

Vanilla gelato

This vanilla gelato is lower in fat than most ice cream because it does not contain cream. It also contains more sugar than American ice cream. Because it is churned with less air, the sugar acts as a sort of "anti-freeze" to keep the gelato from getting rock hard.

Most home ice cream makers do not add a lot of air to homemade ice creams, so they are perfect for making gelato. This vanilla gelato is so easy to scoop and does not get as rock hard as most homemade ice cream. This did not last very long in our house, mostly because of me. I have been known to justify having a bowl of ice cream for breakfast. If you need ideas for rationalizing ice cream for breakfast, let me know. I've got an entire list.

Vanilla gelato

About two months after I first started this blog, I came across a post from Lora of the wonderful blog, Cake Duchess. She was just starting a baking group #TwelveLoaves, which was all about flexing new baking muscles and making bread at home. I started following her blog (follow it, you won't regret it, she has so many authentic Italian recipes and her breads are inspired). I also started participating in #TwelveLoaves and got to know Lora as a friend.

When Lora lost her dad, and after taking some time off from writing, she wrote this moving story. As a result of this story, as well as many of her food blogging friends reaching out to her, she created this #food memory series.

I am honored to be the next contributor to the series. I've written a post about my dad and his love of ice cream, especially gelato.

For the recipe for this vanilla gelato, to hear a little bit about my dad, and to see photos of my handsome young father, please visit Cake Duchess. I hope you do. This has been a labor of love.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

Karen's Kitchen Stories: Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

Polvorones are a Mexican sugar or shortbread cookie. According to the collective brains of Wikipedia, they are derived from a Spanish cookie. In the United States, they are often referred to as Mexican wedding cookies.

This triple orange version, or Polvorones de Naranja, contains orange zest, orange juice, and orange liqueur. For these, I used tangelos from our 50 year old tree that seems to survive in a sliver of clay in our backyard patio. These cookies can also be flavored with nuts, chocolate, cinnamon, or vanilla.

Karen's Kitchen Stories: Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

The cookies are super crumbly and melt in your mouth. The name polvorones is derived from the Spanish word "polvo," or "powder" in English.

Karen's Kitchen Stories: Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

This month the Creative Cookie Exchange Group is baking Cinco de Mayo inspired cookies and I wanted to do something authentic. To approach this challenge, I dug out my 1965 copy of Complete Book of Mexican Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz, the first cookbook I ever owned. She is considered one of the first "scholar cooks."

Her story about learning about the Mexican kitchen as the wife of a diplomat is fascinating. As a woman of privilege, she was discouraged from cooking while living in Mexico City. I think it was the only authentic Mexican cookbook available at the time.

Karen's Kitchen Stories: Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

The recipe in Elisabeth's book was very similar to one I found in Pati's Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking. Score! I loved how Pati used citrus to flavor her cookies.

These cookies are crumbly and citrusy, but not particularly sweet. They are perfect with coffee or tea. I added vanilla, and a little bit of salt, which I understand is not very traditional. Omit the salt if you want to be more authentic.

Triple Orange Mexican Cookies - Polvorones de Naranja

Makes 30 to 36 cookies


8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting the finished cookies
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 T packed orange zest (I used tangelo zest)
1/4 C freshly squeezed orange juice (I used tangelo zest)
2 T orange liqueur 
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt (omit to be more authentic)
1/2 tsp baking soda


  1. Place the butter and powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times, until just combined. 
  2. Add the egg, egg yolk, zest, juice, liqueur, and vanilla, and pulse until mixed. 
  3. Add the flour and baking soda and pulse until the dough just comes together. 
  4. Scrape the dough out onto the counter and press it together. 
  5. Wrap it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment. 
  7. Form the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place them 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Gently press them down to slightly flatten. 
  8. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.
  9. Dust generously with powdered sugar. Can be stored up to 5 days in an airtight container. 

The theme this month's Creative Cookie Exchange is Cinco de Mayo - and what better way to celebrate than baking cookies! If you are a blogger and you'd like to become a member, just contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts. You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chorizo Fresco and a Book Review

This Chorizo Fresco is from a new book, Charcutería: The Soul of Spain.

In this stunningly photographed book, the author, Jeffrey Weiss, explores the various regional authentic Spanish meat curing techniques and recipes. The book covers the history of Spanish butchery, including how the tradition survived the occupation of Iberia by the Moors.

It is clear that the author cares deeply about this topic after having immersed himself in the tradition. If you have an interest in meat curing and/or would like to learn more about Spanish Charcuteria, this book would be the ideal resource, short of spending a year in Spain.

To see photos of the finished chorizo, visit Nic Cooks.


Printed with permission. Agate Surrey, 2014

This is Chorizo 101: Class is in session.

YIELD: 3–4 loops or 6–8 links of sausage per 2.2 pounds (1 kg)

This incarnation is the most basic form of a Spanish-style chorizo sausage, a raw amalgam of its more famous dry-cured cousin with all the smoky-garlicky punch and none of the waiting times or space concerns. It’s perfect for those who are averse to dry curing or for beginners who want something tasty for dinner.


per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of the
following blend of meats, cut into
large cubes: 40%
aguja (pork collar), 40% panceta (pork belly), and
papada (pork jowl) 
3⁄4 ounce (20g) whole cloves garlic, peeled and destemmed
1 ounce (25 g) kosher salt 
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) dry white wine, such as a Verdejo, chilled
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) water, chilled
1⁄3 ounce (10 g) pimentón dulce
1⁄3 ounce (10 g) pimentón picante
1⁄8 ounce (2 g) dried oregano 
3 tablespoons (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil, for frying, divided
2 feet (60 cm) 11⁄4–11⁄2-inch (32–36-mm) hog casings, soaked, or more as needed
Caul fat, as needed

1. Place the aguja, panceta and papada meats and grinder parts in the freezer for 30 minutes to par-freeze before attempting to grind.
2. Using a mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic and salt to form an ajosal. If desired, you can finish the ajosal in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the meats and ajosal. Toss together and set aside as you set up the grinder.
4. Fill a large bowl with ice, and place a smaller bowl inside the ice-filled bowl. Grind the meat mixture one through a medium-coarse (9.5 mm [3/8 inch]) die into the smaller bowl. Be careful: The meat is wet, so it may squirt and pop out of the grinder.
5. In a small mixing bowl, combine the wine, water, pimentones, and oregano, making a slurry. Keep the bowl containing the slurry chilled until ready to use.
6. Place the ground meats in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or you can just mix in a mixing bowl with a sturdy spoon.) Begin mixing on low speed. As the mixer runs, pour the wine slurry into the bowl in a steady stream.
7. Continue mixing on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the wine slurry has been fully incorporated into the mixture, a white residue forms on the sides of the bowl, and the mixture firms up. Place the bowl containing the ground meat mixture into the refrigerator to keep it cold until you are ready to stuff the sausage into casings.
8. To make a prueba, in a small skillet over medium–high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place a small piece of the meat mixture in the skillet and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.


  1. If stuffing: Stuff the mixture into the casings and tie into 12-inch (30-cm) loops or 6-inch (15-cm) links. Using a sterile pin or sausage pricker, prick each sausage several times. Place in the refrigerator to ferment overnight. (See Notes.)
  2. If not stuffing: Form the mixture into 8-ounce (226-g) patties. Wrap in plastic wrap or caul fat, if using. Place in the refrigerator to ferment overnight. 

  1. If stuffing: If you have stuffed the sausages into links or loops, warm the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium–high heat and fry for 8 to 10 minutes, until they register an internal temperature of 150°F (65°C). You can also oven roast or grill the sausages at 350°F (180°C) for 20 to 25 minutes, until they reach the same internal temperature.
  2. If not stuffing: Warm the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium–high heat and fry the sausage patties for 8 to 10 minutes, until they register an internal temperature of 150°F (65°C).
  3. Remove the sausages from the heat and serve.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book to review and share a recipe. All opinions are my own. 

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

How elegant would it be to serve these Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts at a dinner party? Your guests would be blown away. 

Instead of serving the salad with the traditional garlic croutons, just place the salad in this flakey, garlicky, buttery, and cheesy crust. Ah-maze-ing. Your guests will be raving about it for days. 

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

The pastry crusts are loaded with sweet roasted garlic. Heavenly. 

The crusts can be made a day or two in advance, wrapped in foil, and refrigerated until your elegant party for eight or romantic dinner for two. 

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

If you are nervous about raw egg in your Caesar dressing, this version will make you happy. While not as creamy as traditional Caesar, it is crazy delicious. I think the difference is the addition of crushed capers. This will be my go-to Caesar dressing forevermore. This is not hyperbole (well, maybe, but it's the best Caesar dressing I've ever tried... so far). And you can make it up to three days in advance. 

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

All you need is fresh romaine and grated Parmesan and you have a stunning garlicky first course. 

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts

Makes 8 servings. 


Garlic Crusts

2 whole heads of garlic
2 T of extra virgin olive oil
1 C/2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 C finely grated Parmesan cheese (grate it yourself, do not use pre-grated cheese)
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 C unbleached all purpose flour

Caesar Dressing

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 T capers, rinsed and smashed
2 tsp fresh parsley
1 heaping tsp anchovy paste
4 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil


1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head of romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces


To make the crusts:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut the tops off of the garlic heads and sprinkle with the olive oil. 
  3. Wrap in foil and bake for about 40 minutes. 
  4. Remove the garlic heads from the oven and allow to cool.
  5. Remove the cloves of garlic with a small fork and place them into the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  6. Add the butter, cheese, and salt, and mix with the paddle attachment for about a minute. Add the flour and mix for another minute, until just crumbly. 
  7. Divide the dough among 8 four inch tart pans and press into the pans. "Dock" the crusts with a fork. Place the pans onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned. 
  8. Cool on the cookie sheet on a rack. At this point, you can wrap them in foil and refrigerate. 

To make the dressing:

  1. Add all of the ingredients into the bowl of a small food processor and pulse.

To assemble the salad:

  1. Place each tartlet on an individual salad plate. 
  2. Toss the romaine with the dressing and the Parmesan. Divide the salad among the crusts. 
  3. Serve and bask in the glory.  

I am participating in a celebration of #NationalGarlicDay along with all of these wonderful food bloggers. This is indeed an honor. Check out their crazy good garlic recipes:
In honor of National Garlic Day and our love of the stinking rose, we are giving away a Garlic Lovers Prize Pack (valued at over $100) that includes:
  1. The Garlic Farmers' Cookbook
  2. One-year membership to the Garlic Seed Foundation
  3. 5 Garlic Button Covers
  4. OXO Good Grips Garlic Press 
  5. The Ultimate Garlic Peeler
  6. Tumbleweed Pottery Garlic Clove Canister Keeper with Vented Lid
  7. Terra Cotta Garlic Roaster
  8. 2 Bulbs of Whole Black Garlic
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post (mandatory) answering this question: What is your favorite GARLICKY dish (or one that you'd love to try)? After you've answered the question for entry into this contest, be sure to record that you did so in the rafflecopter widget below; doing so will unlock many more optional ways to earn entries. a Rafflecopter giveaway This giveaway is open to residents of the Continental USA. Entries will be accepted through 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, April 24, 2014. All entries will be verified. A winner will be chosen from qualifying entries via random draw, and notified via email within 48 hours of the close of this contest. The winner will have 24 hours from the time the email is sent to respond with their complete name and mailing address (no P.O. Boxes). If no response is received within 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen. Prizes provided by The Garlic Seed Foundation, Food Lust People Love and girlichef. Prizes may vary slightly from images shown and are subject to replacement with comparable items if ones pictured are no longer available at the close of this contest. Items may be shipped separately.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stir-Fried Mongolian Lamb with Scallions | Wok Wednesdays

Stir-fried Mongolian Lamb with Scallions

According to Grace Young, the author of the James Beard award winning book Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, this Stir-Fried Mongolian Lamb with Scallions is a favorite lunch in Inner Mongolia. The scallions balance the lamb flavor.

The dish is flavored with garlic (a whole tablespoon), rice wine, dark and regular soy sauce, hoisin, and sesame oil, and as Grace says in her book, no single ingredient dominates. Grace also seasons this dish with toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns.

This stir-fry took only a few minutes to prepare, and created very little havoc in my kitchen. In fact, once I'd sliced and tossed the lamb in the garlic, wine, soy, pepper, salt, and sugar, and had combined the rest of the ingredients to make the sauce, I had enough time to put away all of the bottles and jars before starting the stir-fry. I felt pretty smug.

When you prepare this, make sure your scallions are super fresh, because they will wilt pretty quickly once you toss them in. I had to add in more at the end for "looks."

We thought this lamb stir-fry was pretty tasty. The meat is so tender and succulent, and the sauce is delicious. It's simply amazing with rice. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Most of the ingredients for this recipe can be found in any grocery store (although lamb seems to be getting harder to find these days for some reason). The two exceptions are the dark soy sauce and Sichuan peppercorns. Both can be found in Asian grocery stores or online. I am now on my third bottle of Pearl River Bridge dark soy sauce, the one with the pink label. It's miraculous.

As a participant in Wok Wednesdays, we've all agreed not to give out the recipes from the book. Instead, our job is to entice you to get the book, join the group, and wok along.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cantuccini - Almond Biscotti #TuesdayswithDorie

Cantuccini - Almond Biscotti

According to Dorie Greenspan, Cantuccini is the true name for what we think of as biscotti. All Italian cookies are called biscotti (biscuits), but these are the "official" twice baked cookies that are super crunchy and dunked in wine, coffee, or tea.

Mr. Kitchen, who is used to something always in the oven in this house, even made a comment about how good the house smelled when these were baking. The combination of cinnamon and almond is amazing.

Cantuccini - Almond Biscotti

This is my first attempt at making biscotti, and all I can say is, "wow." If you make these, you'll never buy biscotti again. I like the fact that they are smaller and thinner than the biscotti you typically find in coffee houses. Way better for dunking!

Cantuccini - Almond Biscotti

This week, the Tuesdays with Dorie group is baking Cantuccini, a recipe by Nick Malgieri. This is another recipe from the book Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers.

Cantuccini - Almond Biscotti

This recipe is super easy. You can do the first bake in advance and slice and bake the cookies the second time the next day, or even several days in advance. How convenient is that?



2 C (9.5 ounces) all purpose flour
3/4 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C unblanched whole almonds
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 
  3. Whisk the eggs and and vanilla together and pour over the dry ingredients.
  4. With your hands, mix the ingredients together until fully incorporated.
  5. Lightly flour a work surface, and knead the dough for about 3 minutes. 
  6. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a 12 inch log. 
  7. Move the logs to the baking sheet and press them down to 2 inch wide by 1 inch high crescents. 
  8. Bake for 30 minutes. 
  9. Slide the logs, parchment and all, onto cooling racks. Let cool completely. (If you are not planning on making the cantuccini the same day, wrap the logs in plastic wrap to keep them fresh until baking time). 
  10. When you are ready to bake the cantuccini, line two baking sheets with parchment, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  11. With a very sharp serrated knife, slice each log into 1/4 inch thick slices. 
  12. Place them on the baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Cool on the pans.
  13. Store in an airtight container for up to a month. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Edamame Noodle Salad

Edamame Noodle Salad

This Edamame Noodle Salad is so bright and fresh tasting. The dressing is flavored from a combination of fresh tangelo juice and the zest of a whole tangelo (you can use a tangerine or half of an orange) plus soy sauce.

Edamame Noodle Salad

Making this salad is astonishingly simple, and it keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of days. I used angel hair pasta for the noodles, but you can use any noodles that you prefer.

Where I live, I can easily find fresh cooked edamame in my local grocery store. If fresh is not readily available, US readers can usually find it frozen at Costco or Trader Joe's.

Edamame Noodle Salad

Edamame Noodle Salad

Orange Soy Vinaigrette Dressing

1 clove of garlic, minced
2 1/2 T soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 1/2 T rice vinegar
The zest and juice of 1 tangelo or 1/2 orange

Add the ingredients to a small container and shake until blended. 

Salad Ingredients 

6 ounces of dried noodles (I used angel hair pasta)
1 C quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
8 ounces of shelled cooked edamame
2 green onions, sliced
All of the orange soy vinaigrette
Black pepper to taste


  1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the noodles with the rest of the ingredients, including the vinaigrette. Serve and enjoy!
Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge

For the second year in a row, I am participating in Eat A to Z, Healthy Recipe Challenge. created by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic. Click on this link for more details. This month's letters are E or F. I participate because the challenge forces me to try new recipes with healthy ingredients. Join us!