Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Could That Possibly Be?

Lompoc is not only my hometown, it is also a strawberry growing mecca.  In fact, I took 2 giant bags of strawberries home with me after a visit this weekend.  After making a batch of STRAWBERRY FREEZER JAM, I'm down to a mere 1.5 giant bags of strawberries.

4 c. sliced strawberries
1/3 c. sugar*
2 T lemon juice
1/2 c. cold water
1 env. unflavored gelatin

In medium pan, combine berries, sugar and lemon juice.  Heat 5 minutes while crushing berries.  Bring to a boil and boil rapidly while stirring constantly for 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water.  Add to fruit mixture and stir over med heat until gelatin dissolves (about 3 min). Let stand 5 minutes.  Spoon into a freeze-able container and cool slightly before refrigerating.  Will keep up to 4 weeks in fridge and longer if frozen.  Makes a generous 2 cups.

*I used half regular sugar and half vanilla sugar.  There are probably many ways to make vanilla sugar, but I usually wash off my used vanilla beans and leave them on top of the stove until they are dry.  Then I break them up and put the pieces and some sugar in a clean coffee grinder and grind it pretty finely.  Voila.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rice Pudding

This recipe is one that my mom and I have been making together my whole life.  It is my grandmother's recipe (which I have tweaked a bit).  It is the definition of comfort food.  Last night I made the best one I have ever made.  I strongly encourage you to make some for yourselves.

It is not a "stirred" rice pudding so do not expect the stuff you might find in the dairy cooler at trader joe's.  It is a baked custard with a dense base of rice and sweet fruit and a light and silky custard at the top.

Whisk in a large bowl:

3 eggs
1/2 C. sugar (I suggest raw organic cane sugar for a caramel-ly taste)
1/2 t. salt

Meanwhile scald (bring just to a boil and then turn off the heat):

1 1/4 C. milk (2% or higher)
2/4 C. heavy cream (or some combination of dairy that equals 2 C.)
1/2 a vanilla bean scraped w/ seeds (if you don't have this just add 1 t. vanilla to the egg mix)

slowly whisk the scalded milk into the egg mix beating continuously.

add to this:

1 C. cooked rice
1 handful of chopped dried fruit (I like apricots and cherries)
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg

pour into a buttered casserole dish (I like to use a souffle dish).

place this dish into a larger pan and add about an inch of boiling water to the big pan (not the pudding).

place into a 325 degree oven and bake until custard is set, about an hour.

Eat warm or cool.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spiced Caramel Corn

Sometimes you just need to eat something specific.  Right.  Now.  An hour ago, I was overwhelmed with the desire for Spiced Caramel Corn...

hardware: candy thermometer, good heavy small pot, greased cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with SILPAT, large bowl lightly greased, spatula or spoon lightly greased.

software: 2 quarts of popped corn, spice mixture (3/4 t cinnamon, 1 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/8 t grnd cloves, 1/4 t grnd cardamom, 3/4 t salt, 1/2 t baking soda), 1 stick unsalted butter, 1 1/2 c brn sgr, 1/2 c light corn syrup, a vanilla bean (split and scraped)

Put butter, brn sgr and corn syrup in pot.  Stir until it begins to boil and then add vanilla bean and seeds.  Cook mixture without stirring until it reaches 300 degrees C.  

A little tip for measuring sticky liquids: line your measuring cup with saran, pour in the liquid, twist the saran so you have a little balloon of sticky liquid and then poke it with a knife and squirt.

When mixture reaches 300, pull out the vanilla bean, stir in your spices and pour mixture over popcorn in the greased bowl.  Stir gently with greased spatula until all corn is coated (WARNING: the mixture is SO HOT.  DO NOT touch it, or you will be very very sorry).

Transfer corn to your baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

Wait until cool (WARNING: It will smell really good.  Waiting will be difficult.)

Once cool, break into delicious shards and eat by the fistful.

- Team Hollywood

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I've been making my own butter lately and there are many reasons why you should do the same... you will know there are no dyes or additives in your butter, it tastes great and melts beautifully, with butter comes buttermilk, it's a good conversation starter. But perhaps the best reason to make your own is that it is very easy. You just need a couple of tools: heavy cream, a food processor, a bowl (it's easier to pour off the buttermilk if you use a bowl with a spout) and a nice firm spatula (the one I use is all one piece, which I find more sanitary than the rubber on wooden handle variety).

Pour the cream into the work bowl of a food processor and let it go. First, it will become whipped cream.

And then the cream will "break" and begin to separate into fat globs and liquid

How do you know the food processor stage is done? Use your ears. Making butter this way, I have found, is a delightful auditory experience. The whipped cream makes one sound, which changes as the cream breaks and the globs start to coalesce. Once the globs have mostly come together, the sound stops changing and the butter spins around either as one giant blob, or it stops spinning and hunkers down in one section of the work bowl. Dump the butter and buttermilk into your spouty bowl and it should look like this:

Pour off the liquid and then knead the butter with your spatula, pouring off liquid as needed until liquid stops appearing as you knead. I usually add a little salt around this time.

Once the kneading is done, I form the butter into cylinders, which makes it easy to store, weigh and cut off small bits as needed. To shape it, I dump a blob into the center of a piece of wax paper, fold the paper over the blob and with the help of cookie sheet, push the blob inside the paper to form a cylinder, like so (this method also works well for cookie dough)...

I twist the ends to seal the cylinders and any that are headed for the freezer get wrapped in tin foil. Now you have little Christmas crackers full of homemade butter and a container full of homemade buttermilk. What could possibly be better?

- Team Hollywood

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Couscous patties with mint-yogurt

here is what you need for this vegetarian dish:

1 cup couscous
fresh mint
2 eggs

1 cup of Greek yogurt
fresh mint
2 garlic cloves

Mix all the ingredients for the mint yogurt together, while your couscous is "cooking." Cut your cucumber lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, slice thinly and add to the yogurt. Add minced olives and mint to the couscous when done and let rest for a minute. Whisk an egg or 2 and add to the mixture, let rest again. Then form small patties and fry in some oil in a pan. Enjoy! n*

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Arugula Leek Pasta

If there is one day of the week, that I am most excited about to make a meal, it is Sunday. It's much less religiously motivated as this just sounded. What I mean is, it is the day we are usually unprepared for cooking. The shops are closed - yes, capitalism hasn't fully blossomed in Austria, much to K's dismay - and we have to make do with what's at home. Here I can shine. I love nothing more than randomly gathering all that's edible and figure out how to combine it into a fine meal. It also helps, that I am stickler for using left-overs. What can I say? I was raised by the (post)-war generation. My mother to the day cannot throw away bread and neither can I, despite not ever having experienced hunger or hardship myself. So, last Sunday was a prosperous day in our fridge. This is what I used:

  • 1 leek
  • some arugula
  • lemon (zest)
  • a dollop of mascarpone
  • cream
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • a sip of white wine
  • basil
  • roasted almonds
  • salt, pepper
  • Pasta of your choice. We had Cappellini

I sauteed the leek with the garlic and added a little white wine, which always seems appropriate to me. I added basil, lemon zest and the mascarpone, and at the very end the cream. I split the arugula and added some to the sauce and left some out to put on top unwilted. We crumbled some roasted almonds and put it on top of the pasta. The combination was delicious. Obviously you don't need all these ingredients. In fact, a plain old leek sauce is delicious as well. But the arugula added a wonderful bite and my favourite element was the lemon zest. The dish didn't necessarily need basil nor mascarpone. Try it! -n

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Technically: "crumiri", but I do like the letter "K."  Regardless of the spelling, these crescent shaped cookies get their texture from cornmeal and butter and they are truly delicious dipped in coffee.

Weigh out 200 g butter and 150 g sugar.

Hey, you've got some Maker's Mark, pour yourself a drink and cream that butter and sugar in a mixer using the paddle attachment for a nice long time.

Add two eggs, one at a time.  This is a simple cookie and it owes a lot of its charm to emulsification, so beat well after each addition.


Use your creepy ghost hand to sift 240 g of AP flour with a pinch of salt and 120 g of yellow cornmeal.

And slow mix your dries into the butter/sugar mixture.

If you have some lemon hanging around, add some zest, why not?

Now is the fun part, fill a pastry bag (fitted with a star tip) with the dough.  It will be both thick and sticky, so this may not be the easiest thing you've ever done, but a good bench scraper makes all the difference.

Once all your dough is in the bag, twist the excess at the top so you can easily hold the bag with one hand placed at the top, while using your other hand to squeeze out dough from the middle of the bag.  Pipe the dough into crescent shapes (or any shape really).  

The cookies will spread a little tiny bit, so don't pipe them right next to each other.

If you don't have a SILPAT, you can use parchment paper.  But how come you don't have a SILPAT?  Oh, because they are expensive?  It's worth it!  You'll use it all the time, plus it should last a long time.  Aren't you worth a long lasting multi-tasker?  

Bake the cookies at 325 degrees F for about 12 minutes or until they get a little color around the edges (I like to turn the sheet half-way through cooking to avoid the pitfalls of cheap oven hotspots).  For an extra fancy touch, sprinkle with sanding sugar half-way through baking. 

Once they are done, let them cool on a rack and then nomnomnom!