Saturday, August 30, 2014

fresh raspberry mousse pie with lemon shortbread crust

a light, refreshing pie that surprises with hidden fresh raspberries and a lemony crust

lemon shortbread crust
  • 1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolks
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
raspberry puree:
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • ½ cup sugar (more or less to taste, depending on how tart or sweet your raspberries are)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons water
stabilized whipped cream
  • 1 ½ teaspoons gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
to assemble pie
  • 1 ½ cups fresh raspberries

make shortbread crust: preheat oven to 375 degrees F. butter a deep dish pie pan (or a 2-quart round glass casserole dish). using a wooden spoon, cream butter and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. stir the egg yolks in one at a time, incorporating the first completely before adding the next. stir in the lemon zest. then add the flour and salt, and combine (but try not to overwork it). it may seem a bit dry, but a pinch of the dough should hold together nicely. press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the dish, making it as even as you can. prick the bottom of the dough with a fork three or four times, then place in oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, until edges just start to turn golden brown. set on a rack to cool completely.

make the raspberry puree: while the crust is baking, sprinkle the gelatin over the 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan, and let bloom for 1-2 minutes. place the pan over low heat and stir just until gelatin is dissolved. allow to cool (speed the cooling a bit by placing the pan in the freezer, or over an ice bath) to room temperature. wash and gently dry the raspberries, then puree them in a food processor or blender with ½ cup sugar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. press the puree through a metal mesh strainer and discard the seeds. whisk in the cooled gelatin, cover the puree and refrigerate to allow it to thicken a bit while you do the next step. 

make the stabilized whipped cream*: using the same saucepan you previously used for gelatin, bloom 1 ½ teaspoons of gelatin in 2 tablespoons of water. place on a burner on low heat, and stir just until gelatin is dissolved. cool as you did before. pour the cream into the stand mixer’s** bowl and beat on low for about 30 seconds. increase speed to medium and beat for another 30 seconds. increase speed to high, and add sugar, salt, and then the cooled gelatin. continue beating for another minute or so, until it forms very stiff peaks. scoop about 1 to 1 ½ cups into a smaller bowl, whisk vanilla into this smaller portion, and set aside in the refrigerator. scrape the remaining whipped cream out into a large bowl.

make the mousse: pour the refrigerated raspberry puree into the stand mixer's** bowl and beat on high until foamy. scrape the puree into the large bowl of whipped cream and fold together thoroughly, working quickly and carefully to keep it from deflating as much as possible. refrigerate mousse for at least an hour to allow it to firm up.

assemble the pie: set 3 of the prettiest raspberries aside to garnish the finished pie. scatter the remaining fresh raspberries in a single layer on the the crust. scoop the finished mousse into the crust, on top of the raspberries. smooth the top with a spatula. fetch the vanilla-flavored whipped cream from the refrigerator and use it to decorate the top of the pie. I put it in a pastry bag and piped little mounds around the perimeter and in the center; you decorate it however you’d like. arrange the reserved raspberries in the center to garnish the pie.

*you need to stabilize the whipped cream (rather than using regular whipped cream) for several reasons: 1) it improves the texture of both the mousse and the whipped cream decorations on top of the pie, 2) it keeps it shape better, so the mousse won’t deflate; it will stay fluffy and be easier to cut.

**if you don’t have a stand mixer, either use a hand-held mixer, or a bowl and a whisk. it truly can all be done by hand, but it’s a bit of a workout, so be prepared.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mexican-spiced sweet potato oven fries


  • 4 medium sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick strips, lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
preheat oven to 425 degrees F. combine all ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to coat potatoes evenly. place potato strips on parchment-lined baking sheets in a single layer, leaving a little room around each strip so they can brown and crisp. cook for 15 minutes, flip the pieces over and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until nicely browned.

bright & citrusy braised, shredded Mexican beef for tacos


  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 pounds boneless beef for braising (chuck roast, flank steak, boneless short ribs, or other suitable cuts)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (I use homemade -- will post the recipe soon)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (leaves and stems are fine -- it's all going to be pureed)
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
preheat oven to 315 degrees F. heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large French or Dutch oven (or other burner- and oven-safe pot that's big enough to hold everything) over medium-high heat, add the onion and pinch of kosher salt and saute until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. you're not caramelizing the onion; you're actually searing it a bit to get lots of good flavor, so let the pieces get nice and dark around the edges.

while the onion is sauteeing, cut the meat into large (1-2 inch) chunks. combine the paprika, cumin, chili powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, pepper, cilantro, citrus juices, olive oil and water, and puree in a regular blender or with an immersion blender. add the meat and the pureed mixture to the pot and stir. bring to a simmer, cover with an oven-safe lid (or cover tightly with aluminum foil) and place in the oven. cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until meat is very tender.

when it's nice and tender (shreds very easily with a fork), turn off the oven. using a slotted spoon, scoop the meat out onto a plate. place the pot on a medium-low burner and reduce the cooking liquid, uncovered, until reduced by about half (you just want to reduce it enough so the finished mixture isn't watery). while the liquid is reducing, shred the meat using two forks, then add the shredded meat (and any accumulated juices) back to the pot. combine and adjust seasoning, if needed. serve with hot flour and/or corn tortillas, and accompany with crumbled cotija cheese, chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, guacamole or avocado slices, sour cream (or crema fresca, or Greek yogurt) and wedges of lime. very good when served with Mexican-spiced oven fries (that recipe is coming next)!

Friday, July 18, 2014

best ever flour tortillas

make them; they are fabulous. a food processor fitted with an "s" blade works perfectly for the dough.

Friday, June 13, 2014

mango salsa

very good with fish tacos. would also be excellent with grilled or roasted chicken, or chips.

  • 1 mango (ataulfo is best, but ripe green mango is fine, too), peeled, and diced in about 1/4" cubes
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced finely
  • 1 medium ripe tomato (or a couple of handfuls of grape tomatoes), diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced finely
  • 1/2 green bell pepper (or 1 small jalapeno), seeded and diced finely
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced very finely
  • juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • a small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
chop it all up and combine in a bowl. make at least 30 minutes ahead of time, to allow flavors to marry.

Monday, May 05, 2014

recipe development: a customizable Thai coconut-chicken soup loosely inspired by Tom Kha Gai

it's high time for some creative recipe tinkering! I've been craving Tom Kha Gai in a big way, but 1) I need to accommodate the varying tastes of the folks who eat with me (one hates cilantro; two of them truly cannot handle anything spicy/hot, but they're all pretty adventurous eaters within those constraints), and 2) I have some lovely little butternut squashes that I'd like to add to the soup, but not in a puree (because that would make it a completely different dish). so...

the goal: to create a flexible Thai coconut & chicken soup template that can accommodate different tastes, seasonal ingredients and capricious whims.

the non-negotiable: I'll start with a saute of minced shallots, chunks of chicken thighs and quartered fresh mushrooms, to add to a base of ultra-rich chicken stock, coconut milk, fish sauce and fresh lemongrass. I'll add just a touch of palm sugar to sweeten it slightly.

the variables: while I prefer fresh kaffir lime leaves, when I can't get them, I'm fine with fresh lime zest. likewise, galanga (a.k.a. "kha,") is the authentic choice, but fresh ginger is delicious and still makes an excellent soup.

the totally optional: I'm going to roast some thin slices of peeled butternut squash, to caramelize the exterior a bit, and will add those in to the soup this time; we'll see how that works.

the garnishes, so we can each customize our own bowls of soup: a big plate with wedges of lime, fresh Thai camphor basil (for the cilantro haters, and because it's wonderful in its own right), fresh cilantro leaves and thinly sliced fresh chiles, plus the bottle of fish sauce, so we can each doctor our own bowl of soup to make it truly "ours."

if this succeeds, I'll have to come up with a good name for it -- although it might be inspired by Tom Kha Gai (one of the finest soups ever), it definitely won't be authentic in anyway.

I'm planning to serve it with side dishes of jasmine rice for some, cauliflower "rice" for me, and a cucumber salad with minced raw scallions, rice vinegar and a bit of honey.

if I get the cookbook-worthy results I want, I'll write it up into a real recipe!

Monday, October 07, 2013

perfect fall butternut squash bisque

a rich, delicious squash bisque, redolent with the flavors of Fall. this would be wonderful served at the beginning of a Thanksgiving dinner, or anytime during the Fall/Winter seasons. be sure to look for the *asterisks to make it Paleo-compliant.
  • 2 butternut squash, ~ 2 pounds each?, cut in half from stem to blossom end, seeds removed
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter (*or coconut oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced finely
  • 3-5 stalks celery (depending on size -- ideally, 5 of the paler, more tender inner stalks), diced finely
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground, dried thyme, or 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, minced (optional)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 quart good chicken stock
  • 1-2 cups heavy cream (*or full-fat canned coconut milk)
  • (*optional: a few tablespoons of sour cream)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
to garnish:
  • 1 cup slivered almonds, squash seeds or pepitas toasted with a dab of oil (ideally, coconut oil, but olive oil or ghee will work, too), salt, pepper and paprika until golden brown, set aside to cool
  • (optional) a little bowl of fresh thyme leaves and/or finely slivered fresh sage leaves
preheat oven to 350. line baking sheets with parchment paper, lightly butter the paper and place squash on it, cut side down. roast in oven for 45 minutes - 1 hour, until done. remove from oven to cooling racks, flip cut side up and let cool while you prepare the onions.

while the squash is cooling, melt the butter over medium-high heat and sautee the onion with a pinch of salt. add the celery after about 5 minutes. reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until onion is translucent and slightly golden brown on the edges. add chicken stock and bring to a simmer.

with a good-sized spoon, scoop the butternut squash flesh out and place in a bowl, discarding the skins. add the squash flesh to the simmering soup mixture on the stove and allow to cook together for 5-10 minutes, to marry the flavors. turn off the burner, remove the bay leaves and set aside. either use an immersion (stick) blender, or remove soup in batches to a blender or food processor to puree until it's velvety smooth (it's much easier with the immersion blender; you will have to be very careful with a regular blender or food processor when pureeing hot soup, as it tends to expand the air in the blender and blow the lid off, making a big, potentially painful mess. you can get decent immersion blenders from under $20 now; I recommend them highly). if you've used a regular blender or food processor, return all the pureed soup to the pot (if you've used the recommended immersion blender, it's already in there). put the reserved bay leaves back in. add a cup of the cream and bring the soup to a simmer, stirring regularly. taste and assess. remove those pesky bay leaves again. add more chicken stock or some water if it's too thick; add more cream if it needs more richness; add the sour cream if it needs a hint of tartness (or save the sour cream to use as a garnish at the table, swirling it into each bowl before adding the almonds). adjust all seasonings; salt and pepper to taste. at this point, it should taste like much more than the sum of its parts; it should taste like a combination of the essence of Fall and Thanksgiving. serve with suggested garnishes and enjoy.

*note: to make a Paleo-compliant version, use coconut oil instead of butter to saute the onions and celery, substitute a good, creamy, full-fat coconut milk (or even just the cream that collects at the top of the can when you refrigerate it) for the heavy cream, and skip the sour cream. there's probably a non-dairy, Paleo-compliant sour cream substitute (coconut cream with a bit of lemon juice added, maybe?), but I haven't tasted one yet so have no recommendation. and the sour cream is SO very not necessary for this recipe. I'll be making a Paleo version next time!

Monday, May 27, 2013

zucchini-based "hummus"

this tastes so much like garbanzo bean-based hummus, but is free of lectins, lower in carbohydrate, mostly raw, and it's delicious, so why not try it? we make this for guests, afternoon snacks, potlucks -- all kinds of occasions, and it always receives compliments.

adapted from this Primal Kitchen Chaos recipe:

  • 1-3/4 cup peeled, cubed raw zucchini (about 2-3 medium zucchinis)
  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews, sunflower seeds or macadamia nuts
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (roasted sesame butter)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1+ cloves of garlic, pressed (to your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
puree it all in a food processor or blender until creamy. garnish with a sprinkle of paprika if desired. that's it! serve with raw veggies and/or paleo-compliant crackers to dip.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

how to roast all sorts of vegetables

properly roasted veggies should have both golden and dark brown crisp bits/edges, without being burned. they should be tender, but never mushy, and bright in color. roasting concentrates the deep greens and bright oranges, yellows and reds in a way that stovetop cooking can’t replicate. it sweetens bitterness, caramelizes natural sugars and intensifies the aromas and flavors.

here’s how to do them right:
  •  wash and dry in salad spinner or with clean towels
  • cut into serving pieces, snap off tough ends, remove inedible parts as desired
  •  toss with a bit of cooking fat (coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, melted butter, macadamia nut oil, etc.) and a good pinch of kosher salt
  • spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer, with a bit of room between pieces
  • move oven rack to about 6 inches below broiler element
  • turn on broiler
  • put sheet in oven, and set timer for approximately half the total cooking time. total cooking times for many veggies as follows: asparagus, whole cherry tomatoes, green beans, pea pods, sliced zucchini or summer squash: 7 minutes. broccoli or cauliflower florets, thickly sliced onion, sliced radicchio, whole green onions: 12 minutes. bell pepper strips, eggplant slices, cabbage wedges, halved (or small whole) zucchini or summer squash, quartered fresh mushrooms: 17 minutes.  whole fresh mushrooms, carrot, parsnip, sweet potato or beet chunks, quartered onions: 25-35 minutes.
  •  at half-time, take sheet out of oven, and flip, stir, or shake veggies as appropriate, to ensure even cooking
  • return to oven and set timer for remainder of cooking time
when done, remove to a bowl, and if desired, garnish with any of the following (combine toppings as desired): chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, basil), freshly ground black pepper, smoked or sweet paprika, a bit more melted butter or oil, a sprinkling of nuts (whole if small, chopped or sliced if larger), a small clove of pressed garlic, grated or crumbled cheese, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar. roasted veggies are delicious just as they are, straight from the oven, or cold in a salad or dipped in something luscious.

Friday, May 10, 2013

homemade ranch dip, from scratch!

easy and delicious, with just the right balance of herbs and tangy-ness; this is the perfect consistency for dipping crackers, chips and/or veggies. to use it for salad dressing, either substitute buttermilk for the Greek yogurt, or thin out the dip with a bit of buttermilk or plain almond milk. kids and adults alike love it! don't buy the powdered junk in packets (filled w/preservatives, sweeteners and the like) -- whip it up at home in your blender or food processor.

  • 1/2 cup homemade mayo (preferably made with light olive oil, macadamia nut oil or another paleo-approved oil)
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt (or buttermilk, if making salad dressing)
  • 1  clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

snip the chives with kitchen scissors, or slice thinly with a knife into small rounds. roughly chop the parsley, then throw all the ingredients into the food processor or blender and process, scraping down the sides as needed.