Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Turbo Whisk

My obsession with strange and unusual whisks continues…In a moment of what I can only describe as divine inspiration, an idea for a completely unique whisk design came to me. I built a crude model with materials I found in my kitchen. (The real whisk would have to have more tines though.)

The husband deemed it the “Turbo Whisk” because its appearance is reminiscent of the blades of a turbine.

Now, how does one go about making an actual Turbo Whisk? Hmmm…any visionary metal-crafters out there want to volunteer their services?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bergamot Orange Dreams

Here’s what I made with what was left of my precious Bergamot orange. Taste one of these delicious two-bite cookies, and you’ll see they’re exactly like a dream—they melt, and then they’re gone.

Bergamot Orange Dreams
Printable Recipe

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon grated Bergamot orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Bergamot orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and 1/3 cup of the powdered sugar on medium until creamy. Add the orange zest and juice and mix on low until blended. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough comes together, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Scoop the dough by the tablespoonful onto parchment-lined baking trays, roll each scoop of dough into a ball, and arrange the balls about an inch apart. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom but still pale on top. Transfer cookies to a rack and let cool for about half an hour, or until barely warm. Roll each cookie in the remaining 2/3 cup of powdered sugar to coat.

Makes 32 to 34 cookies. Use lemons or limes if Bergamot oranges are unavailable. Cookies keep for several days in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place. Perfect with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Single Bergamot Orange

Citrus is the very best thing about winter. When I see the Meyer lemons and blood oranges appear at the market, I become positively giddy with excitement. In fact, I love citrus fruits so much that when given the choice between a lemon dessert and a chocolate dessert…I have to order both. Citrus wakes up the taste buds and is my tongue’s version of bliss—zesty, tingly, puckery, refreshing bliss. I’m hopelessly addicted to it. It’s about as much excitement for the palate as any one food can offer.

You can imagine my delight when I went to my local market and found an amazing array of unusual citrus varieties, including countless types of mandarins and tangerines, kumquats, calamondins, Palestine sweet limes, Etrog citrons, Seville oranges, and Bergamot oranges. I could’ve spent our entire week’s grocery budget right then and there.

The thing that surprised me most was the Bergamot oranges. They had about half a dozen of them tucked away in the corner of the produce department. I had never seen one before, but since my favorite type of tea is Earl Grey, I’d most certainly heard of them. I’d always wanted to try one. I picked up one of the lemon-colored, bumpy-skinned fruits and put it back down again about three times because they were a whopping $7.99 per pound. But my curiosity and the intoxicating perfume of the rare orange were too much to resist. I parted with six dollars, and a single Bergamot orange was mine.

So how was it? Well, the Bergamot orange is intensely aromatic and juicy with a flavor that’s slightly bitter, bracingly sour, and floral. Just like the tea, but fresh. It’s clean, crisp, and vibrant, and much more like a lemon—a Meyer lemon, to be precise—than an orange.

After much internal deliberation, I decided what to do with my treasure of an orange…

Bergamot Orange Custard Cups
Printable Recipe

4 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon grated Bergamot orange zest
4 large eggs
4 ounces freshly squeezed Bergamot orange juice
10 ounces heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the sugar and orange zest on low until very fragrant. Add the eggs, then the orange juice, and then the cream, mixing on low for several seconds after each addition until just combined. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Skim off any foam from the surface. Divide among 6 ramekins and place them into a roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come half way up the sides of the ramekins and bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until just set. Remove from the water bath and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, or until firm.

Serves 6. If you like tart lemon-flavored desserts, you’ll love these. Use lemons, especially Meyer lemons, if Bergamot oranges are unavailable. Avoid whipping air into the eggs as they are being incorporated into the sugar mixture. You can tell that the custards are done when they jiggle like gelatin. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream and Candied Citrus Peel, if desired.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cake of One Sort or Another

My birthday was exactly one week ago. And since we’ll make the most of any excuse to celebrate, the festivities are ongoing. The hubby must've set out to spoil me because he’s been taking me out to eat a lot. We’ve indulged in fried chicken (my favorite guilty pleasure), ham and cheese croissants and chocolate bouchons at the Pearl Bakery, Chinese food, including an order of whole fried garlic fish (mmmm, garlic), gooey pizza, sushi, and Elephants Delicatessen’s Ding Dong Cakes. Yes, that’s cakes plural, because one cake is never enough. Oh, and he even managed to put a birthday candle into my birthday coffee. Don’t ask me how he did it, he’s the engineer…

Besides all that, we've also found room for some home cooking, mostly because I had to play with my birthday presents, all cookware of course (my family knows me well). So I made roast chicken rubbed with sweet Spanish paprika, garlic, and olive oil with the All-Clad Ultimate Chicken Roaster Hubby got me, and (although I’d already busted it out of its box and played with it once before) I used my KitchenAid Stand Mixer Pasta Press Attachment, a gift from my generous parents, to make homemade extruded spaghetti with sausage and broccoli.

The only birthday activity I didn’t get to—and trust me, I’m not complaining—is baking a birthday cake. I do usually bake my own cake, but with so much devil’s food and whipped cream coming my way already, it would’ve been overkill…

Um, hold everything—did I really just imply that there’s such a thing as cake overkill?

Anyway, I prepared cake of another sort...Lucky for me, Pacific Northwest Dungeness crab season just happens to coincide with my birthday season.

Ultimate Dungeness Crab Cakes with Chipotle Mayonnaise
Printable Recipe

¾ cup mayonnaise
2 to 3 chipotles en adobo sauce, seeded and minced
3 cloves garlic, grated
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large egg
¾ pound lump Dungeness crabmeat, picked over
1 ¼ cups panko breadcrumbs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Blend together ½ cup of the mayonnaise, the chipotles, about a third of the garlic, and the lime juice in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt.

Mix together the green onions, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, egg, and the remaining garlic in a large bowl. Stir in the crabmeat, ¾ cup of the panko, and the remaining ¼ cup of mayonnaise and season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide into 8 equal portions and gently form each portion into a ball. Gently pat each ball into the shape of a small patty, about 2 ½ inches across. Dip each crab cake into the remaining ½ cup of panko to coat, patting so that it adheres.

Add the oil and butter to a large, heavy nonstick frying pan and heat over medium heat until a pinch of the breadcrumbs sizzles immediately when added. Add the crab cakes and fry without disturbing for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Using a fish spatula, turn the crab cakes and fry another 1 to 2 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown. Remove the crab cakes to a paper towel-lined plate and drain for about a minute. Arrange the crab cakes on individual plates, divide the chipotle mayonnaise among them, and serve immediately.

Makes 8 generous crab cakes. Pasty crab cakes that taste more like filler than crab are an all-too-common disappointment, so this is a recipe for crab cakes that are crisp and buttery on the outside, tender and moist on the inside, and big on sweet crab flavor. If Dungeness crabmeat is unavailable, try another variety. Be careful not to shred the crabmeat when mixing it with the other ingredients, and use gentle pressure when forming the cakes so that they hold together. One last thing—you may want to make extra chipotle mayo because it’s great on burgers too.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Grey. Everything everywhere is grey. We haven’t seen the sun in days…or has it been weeks? The garden is bare, the farmers market’s shut for the season, and inspiration has gone the way of the sunshine. This is the time to take advantage of winter squash, apples, pears, lemons, oranges, nuts, and more, only my mind keeps drifting to thoughts of last spring and summer…

Vibrant color…

Green and fresh…


Trips to the farm, sunshine, and harvest time…

Even the humble potato is a rainbow…




Juice running down my chin…

Now that I’m done daydreaming, it’s time to refocus on the present and find some winter inspiration! Hmmm, what does this grey say to me?
Blog Widget by LinkWithin