Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Saffron Strawberry Peach & Vanilla Panna Cotta

I had a friend over recently for dinner who travels every year to Spain, so being the glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to attempt my hand at a Spanish-inspired menu: seafood paella (with chicken chorizo, shrimp, salmon, and tobiko), pan-blackened shishito peppers with smoked salt and shaved Iberico cheese (shishito because I couldn't find padron peppers at the market), and a vanilla panna cotta with saffron-infused strawberry peach sauce. Okay, so to be fair, it wasn't a traditionally Spanish meal, but the inspirations were fun to play around with! I particularly like this saffron-infused strawberry sauce. Strawberries on their own in a sauce tend to be a bit cloying and one-dimensional to me, so the saffron lends an interesting mellow exoticism. It's like that ingredient that you can't really pick out but the dessert would be otherwise empty without. I love those sorts of subtle hints. ;)

Panna cotta is one of those desserts that I just plain refuse to order at restaurants, because they're so easy and delicious to make at home! I like mine with a half-milk/half-cream mix, so that the texture is lighter and doesn't feel reminiscent of sunscreen the way that full-cream panna cottas do. But really, the name makes them sound fancier than they are! It's just milk jello, really!

Life has been cray cray busy lately, so it's nice to have this blog to escape to every once in a while without the pressures of being a regular blogger. Thank you all to those of you who still have me in your blog, email, instagram feeds. I think of you all often, and wonder what magic you're cooking up in your kitchens!

Read on for recipe....

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Traveling Desserts: Vanilla Pudding and Fifteens

What do you do when you're living at an AirBnB and having super foodies over for dinner? I was faced with this predicament when I was in Scotland for the summer (more on that later!), trying to make new friends by impressing them with my foodie skillz. :) It turns out, without an oven, or many of the conventional tools and ingredients of the trade, one can still turn out a simple but fun dinner party!

The main star of dinner was chicken soup, which sounds like a funny main! But, I had promised a good expat friend of mine (of easiest chocolate chip cookies fame) who pined for American-style chicken soup that I would make him some when I visited, so soup it was. The rest of the menu was cobbled together by whatever looked good in the local markets:

Chicken noodle soup
chicken (from a local butchery), celery, carrots, fresh tagliatelle

Pan-roasted butternut squash salad
ras el hanout-spiced pan-roasted butternut squash and red onion, sliced D'anjou pear, bee pollen, rocket, honey dijon red wine vinaigrette

Bread & cheese bruschetta
pan-roasted cherry tomato and garlic, mature Scottish white cheddar, sourdough toast

For dessert, my friend was going to make brownies to bring over, so to complement the chocolatey squidgy-ness of the brownies, I put together vanilla pudding pots (for which you really just need a whisk, pot, and jars!), with kiwi coulis and fruit. These were also a joy to make in a country in which vanilla paste is actually a standard and easy ingredient to come by! Yum. :)

Finally, I also made some fifteens, which are an Irish cookie! that another one of my Scottish-based expat friends made for me during my visit. Fifteens are a no-bake cookie that is made out of crushing other cookies (ahem, "biscuits") and mixing them with more ingredients. It's like cookie cannibalism! Traditional fifteens have candied cherries and coconut, but my friend, Jefferson, made them with candied citrus peel and almond, which I thought helps cut the ultra-sweetness of the cookie well. So here is Jefferson's version of fifteens!

Hope everyone is having a super fun summer. If you find yourself traveling but in need of a few super simple but totally yummy dessert recipes, here you go!

Happy ☀️!

read on for recipes...

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