Sunday, October 30, 2011

Popcorn Balls and Halloween Fun!

Mmm yummy...want to make your Halloween sweeter? Like you need anymore sugar on Halloween, I know but guess what? I found a recipe that uses honey instead of corn syrup, so it's really healthy if you think about it (;
This recipe is on The Red Mountain Post website, by the Skinny Gourmet
You will need:

Roughly 8 cups popped, plain popcorn (don't get butter-flavored or salted)

1 slight cup honey
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup water
1 1/2 tbs salted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Makes 8-10 medium popcorn balls.

Combine honey, white sugar, brown sugar, water, and salt in saucepan. Place over low heat, stirring until mixture begins to boil. Add butter. Stir and add vanilla just as the mixture begins to thicken. Cook to firm ball stage (248 degrees). 
Pour over popcorn and stir until all of the popcorn is coated. Wait for it to cool slightly, then compress with your hands. It might help to coat your hands with some butter,oil, or dip your hands in cold water. My boyfriend just squished them with a lot of force and they stuck, but I needed the water (:

Drizzle with chocolate and let cool. Store wrapped individually in plastic wrap at room temperature.

Olivia also made some pumpkin seeds:
Pumpkin Seeds
Wash the seeds and the pulp under water, to help separate the seeds. Olivia used a colander to strain the water out.
Then, we oiled a cookie sheet and heated the oven to 400 degrees F. She put a little salt on the seeds and I finished them up when she went to bed. Bake the seeds until golden, then use a spatula, spoon or tongs to move them around and let them get baked on both sides. Remove when dark and crispy and salt to taste. I've been grabbing handfuls all night, I can't even stop, they are the perfect snack!
Hard at work!

Sweet sisters



Amani, looking serious

Me, Jordan, Max and Avonlea
My Pumpkin, Mr. Cupcake

Happy Halloween!

Chocolate Fig Truffle Cake

It all started with this sketch in class. Yes, I was sketching in class,'s a class where you can sketch.   Apparently it's a class where you can also sleep, talk, text or surf the web, so I didn't feel too bad about sketching while listening. Besides, inspiration had struck: a fig truffle cake.
It took me quite a while to find a recipe to adapt, before I found the Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte in The Cake Bible (find it on my books page). Three ingredients: eggs, butter and chocolate. Not only did it sound amazing, but it had directions for adding raspberry puree: exactly what I was looking for. I prepared the truffles for garnishing, then boiled down some fresh figs with some lemon juice and honey to make a fig jam.
The cake was really easy to make and WOW delicious (: I woke up the morning after baking and took my pictures just as the sun was rising above the trees in our yard. The pictures therefore have a kind of "cake for breakfast" look, which is exactly what we had! I even brought the cake to my Chinese cooking class where it was appreciatively devoured. It didn't taste very figgy except for the occassional crunch from a seed, you wouldn't know the figs were there, so I garnished the cake with figs, dredged in agave.
Please enjoy the pictures and this simple recipe which will probably become one of your new favorites. It is quick to prepare, but please note the chilling times (almost 4 hours) so that you don't make it right before dinner and have to wait til the next day to eat it (:

Shone Farm figs

 Chocolate Fig Truffle Cake
adapted from the Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte in The Cake Bible, find it on my books page.

You will need:
1 lb bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
6 large eggs ( 1 1/4 scant cups if you want to be exact)

If using a fruit puree, you'll need:
2/3 cup puree
1/4 cup sugar

1 8" springform pan
A roasting pan or casserole dish to serve as a water bath

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Butter the springform pan and line the bottom with a buttered parchment round. Wrap the outside with two layers of tin foil to protect the pan from any leaks in the water bath.

In a large heatproof bowl over a pan of hot, not simmering water, (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) combine the chocolate and butter and let stand, stirring occasionally, until smooth and melted. (OR you can put a heatproof bowl in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time, stirring until mostly melted. Then stir until fully melted and the heat is evenly distributed).
In another large bowl set over a pan of simmering water heat the eggs, stirring constantly to prevent curdling, until just warm to the touch. Add the 1/4 cup sugar now if you are adding any fruit puree or preserves. Beat the eggs with the whisk attachment of an egg beater over the heat until hot. Then remove from heat and beat until cool and triple in volume.
Add your puree to your melted chocolate and butter and incorporate.
Using a large wire whisk or rubber spatula, fold half of the eggs into your chocolate gently, until almost incorporated. Fold in the remaining eggs until just blended and no streaks remain. Finish by scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure that the heavier mixture at the bottom is incorporated. Scrape into the prepped pan and smooth with a spatula.
Set the pan into the larger pan and surround it with 1" of very hot water. Bake for 5 minutes. Loosely cover with a piece of buttered tin foil and bake for 10 more minutes.
Remove from oven and set cake on a rack to cool for 45 minutes. It will look wet when you first take it out, but that's ok. It's going to set up as it cools.
Then chill the cake for 3 hours or until completely firm.

To unmold your creation:
Have ready a serving plate and a flat plate( I used a light cutting board), covered with plastic wrap.  Wipe the sides of the pan with a hot, damp towel.
Run a thin, metal spatula around the sides of the cake and release the sides of the springfrom pan. Place the plastic-wrapped plate on top and invert. Wipe the bottom of the pan with a hot, damp, towel. Remov the bottom of the pan and parchment. Reinvert onto your serving plate!

I garnished my fig cake with fig slices dredged in agave and chocolate truffles. Here's a simple recipe for truffles:

Chocolate Truffles

1 lb. Semisweet chocolate
1 cup cream
6 tbs. Butter (3 oz.)

Bring the cream to a boil.  Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and butter.  Stir until smooth.  Refrigerate until firm.  Beat the mixture with the paddle attachment on the mixer on medium speed until light.  Add a liqueur if desired.  Form into balls with your hands, or pipe into small rounds onto parchment-lined sheets.  Freeze until firm before coating, rolling in nuts, or rolling in cocoa powder.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Organic Strawberries

I got some figs and strawberries from the Shone farm stand at school yesterday. I tried to save them, really I did! I ate all but three strawberries in class. Amani ate two and in the end, there was one lonely berry left to photograph, instead of the bowl I had envisioned for my photoshoot.
So, here's the lonely strawberry and Jordy enjoying it when I was done taking pics.
Coming soon, Chocolate Fig Truffle Cake!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Roast Chestnuts

This article has been moved to tiramipursuit's new website. Find it here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Brussels Sprout~ A Tragically Misunderstood Veggie

This post has been moved to tiramipursuit's new website. You can now find it here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Peas and Sorrel

I went to the Stein's today and Suyin offered me lots of greens from their garden!
Here are some pictures of the green peas and sorrel Melody and I picked this afternoon.

I tried making Jordan a sorrel broth, from blended sorrel, fennel and parsley broth, green peas, garlic. It turned out as a tart, salty broth: Not one of my best creations,  but he said he liked it!

The end of a wonderful day!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Oatmeal Cookies and Bay Leaf Tea

Today my siblings and I took a long walk to get the mail and observe nature. We saw lizards, ant hills, yellow-faced birds, rescued a moth and collected lots of acorn caps ( : When we got home, we made a little display of our findings and brewed some Bay Laurel leaf tea. I have a book called "Kashaya Pomo Plants" that has natural remedies in it from Northern California plants. I will add this book to my book list for your convenience.

Bay Laurel Tea
Made from the leaves of the California Bay Laurel or "Peppernut" tree, this tea can be used to wash sores or taken internally to treat colds and sore throats.
Brew 3-4 leaves per cup of water to make a dark tea.
We found that when we brewed it briefly the resulting liquid was strong enough to make us sneeze! So, we drank it rather weak, but we're hoping it will help clear up some of the colds around the house.
(NOTE: It's important when making teas or using the zest or peel from fruits that you make sure they are organic and have never been sprayed with pesticides, or you could become ill.)

After the tea, Amani and I made up our own recipe for oatmeal cookies!
Mixing! This is the only one that wasn't 100% blurred, he's a very dedicated mixer!
Waiting for the cookies to be done: Licking apples always helps.

They're done!

Olivia approves

Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbs maple syrup
1 egg
1 cup instant oats
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 salt
1/2 Tbs baking soda
1/2 cup chopped, dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Cream butter and sugars together. Add syrup, egg and oatmeal. Add dry ingredients. Chop cherries and stir into dough. It should hold together.
Roll into balls about the size of a golf ball and slightly compress onto oiled cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. The edges should be golden and crisp, but the middle may still be a bit wet. That is actually perfect! Let them cool for a few minutes on the sheet and then transfer to a wire cooling rack. The edges will be slightly crispy while the center of the cookie will stay soft and chewy! (:

This was an experiment that worked for us today, but it has only been tested once. I'll try it again another day and make sure it still works well!
Bon Appetit!