Monday, April 14, 2014

The Merced River Valley

Work has been eating up literally all of my time lately, but I did manage to take a hike along the Merced River near Yosemite a few weekends ago. I went with the intention of wild-flower-spotting, but given the current California drought crisis, it's not the best year for wild flowers at all. Instead, I just enjoyed the green upon green, before the foliage quickly turns back to gold once the rains subside. Sometimes I forget whether California is the "Golden State" because of the old gold rush or instead as a euphemism for its rolling hills of dry, crisp vegetation in the vast majority of the year.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Carrot za'atar muffins and lavender kumquat compote

Za'atar--the spice blend of dried thyme, sumac, salt, and sesame seeds--is one of my new favorite flavor profiles. It has that satisfying, almost-umami-y savoriness, with a dash of nuttiness from the sesame seeds and a hint of exoticism from the pucker-y sumac. Of course, after playing around with za'atar in all of the savory dishes I could think of for a while, my eye naturally turned to the dessert possibilities. (Since, you know, I love mixing savory notes into my desserts.)

Here's the result of my first venture: carrot za'atar muffins. To call these a sweet dessert is sort of a misnomer, actually. These muffins are perfect for breakfast because they're just barely sweet. Instead, they're hearty, from the whole wheat flour and shredded carrots, and za'atar fits in perfectly by spicing up the mixture in a more sophisticated way than the traditional cinnamon-and-carrots combo would. To go with, I made a sweet, loose jam-like compote of kumquats, with a woodsy hint of dried lavender (not enough to really tell it's lavender, but enough "darken" the brights of the kumquats). The result: a traditional sort of breakfast with a surprisingly non-traditional blend of flavors-- the perfect way to wake up your taste buds for a new day.

Find the recipe here, on the Anthology Magazine blog.

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