Thursday, September 18, 2014

QUIN


I was so thrilled to collaborate with Wylie West Creative on this recent event for Quin Candy here in Los Angeles over at Cliff's Edge in Silver Lake. The night was filled with candy-making, cocktail-drinking, and lots of whimsy fun. 




















Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos Katherine Levin Sheehan

#CandyIsMagic


Monday, September 1, 2014

Pork Chili Verde

Hatch chile season is here folks! 

You are probably seeing mounds of them piled up at your local grocery store and farmers market and  you should get them while you can because the season is super short, only running from August to September each year. I got a call from my cousin's fiancé last week; he had driven out to La Puenta to pick up his pre-ordered chiles that had been trucked in straight from Hatch, New Mexico. He waited as they were fire-roasted to his liking and packed into a burlap bag for him take home. He knew he would never be able to use all of them and I was excited to take them off his hands. Perfectly roasted and hand-peeled, I thought about how to do these hatch chiles justice as I drove home with them sitting on my passenger seat, filling my car with their sweet, smokey aroma. 

That night we made ground chicken burgers laced with chopped chiles, then a few days later it was hatch chile queso dip and finally, most recently, it was hatch chile verde. The chile verde was a home run - so incredibly delicious. I recommend that you source the best pork possible - look for all natural, free range pork. I used mild hatch chiles for this recipe and then adjusted the heat level using jalapeños - you can control the heat level by the amount of seeds you leave in the chiles. 


Pork Chili Verde
Serves 8

 Ingredients
5 pounds trimmed boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1” cubes
2 large yellow onions, chopped
8 large cloves garlic, minced
8 poblano peppers, fire roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
5  jalapenos, fire roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
10 mild hatch chilis fire roasted, seeded, peeled, and chopped
(you can sub anaheim peppers if hatch chills are not in season)
3 pounds large fresh tomatillos, husks removed, fire roasted
1 bunch cilantro, stems discarded, chopped
 3 limes , juiced
2 quarts chicken stock
1 Tbsp coriander 
1 Tbsp cumin
kosher salt, to taste 
pepper, to taste 

 Directions
Fire-roast the peppers and tomatillos.  You can do this on the grill, over a gas burner, or under your broiler turned on high.  You want to char the skins, bringing out their natural sweetness, concentrating the flavor, and adding a bit of smokiness. 
 Once blackened, place the peppers in a heat proof bowl cover with plastic wrap.  The heat from the peppers will help the charred skin come off easily. The tomatillos do not need to be peeled. 
Blend all of peppers and garlic and tomatillos together into a chunky puree.

Next, trim off any excess fat from the pork and cut into 1 inch squares.  Liberally season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large stock pot, over high heat, brown pork in some oil or pork fat (or bacon fat even). Brown the pork in small batches being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Remove the pork from the pot and pour off the fat drippings. In the same pot, over a medium heat, add the chopped onion, and sauté until transparent, scraping up any browned bits.  Add the cumin, coriander, pork, chicken stock, and pureed pepper mixture and cook simmering over medium-low heat for approx 2.5 hours.


Roughly chop the cilantro.  Add it to the pot along with the fresh lime juice and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, for a total cooking time of three hours. Now taste and adjust seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. Serve with warm corn tortillas, shaved radish, pickled onions, cilantro, and sour cream.  

Note: You can make this recipe a day or two in advance - the flavors actually develop further this way and get better each day. 


Pomegranate Harvest


 Yesterday evening was spent at my first pomegranate harvest - a beautiful evening of picking, seeding, and juicing surrounded by the most lovely group of people at the home of Adam & Alysa Kalb in Long Beach, California. They have a stunning tree smack in the middle of their backyard and our warm southern California summer has made for an early harvest this year (pomegranate season usually runs from September to December). 

Adam smoked some tri tip and grilled white corn on the cob while Alysa made sure everyone had a chilled glass of fresh pomegranate juice and champagne. The day was captured by my sister, Boo, of Wylie West Creative who has graciously shared her photographs below.  Party guests went home with carafes of fresh juice and buckets of pomegranates.  









I made an appetizer for the picking crew that showcased the just-harvested pomegranate seeds. Some char-grilled naan bread brushed with my parent's estate olive oil and topped with whipped feta, fresh mint, wild arugula, toasted pistachios, and pomegranate seeds. The perfect farewell to summer.


<<< Naan with Whipped Feta, Pomegranate & Arugula >>>

Ingredients
Grilled Naan bread (or baguette)
8 oz sheep’s milk feta (you can use goat cheese too if you prefer!)
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped 
Handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
Pinch of aleppo pepper (or red chili flakes)
Wild Arugula
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds 
good olive oil for drizzling 
cracked pepper, to taste 
Nasturtium Flowers, optional for garnish 

Method
1. Brush your naan bread with a little olive oil. Grill until slightly charred on your BBQ
2. Whip the feta using a small food processor or blender or your stand mixer - add a drizzle or two of olive oil to the cheese and whip until smooth and fluffy.  Stir in your chopped mint, aleppo pepper, and cracked pepper. Spread onto the naan bread.
3. Sprinkle Pomegranate seeds, arugula and pistachios on top of whipped feta and drizzle with good olive oil. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Rosé


We are smack in the middle of rosé season aka summer. 

For those of you that feel confused about rosé, let me see if I can explain: rosé is made from an array of purple-skinned grape varietals (you know, the ones you already love so much, IE Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, etc) but instead of leaving the skins of the grapes in contact with the wine for a long period of time, the winemakers separate the skins from the grape juice after only 1 to 3 days (before the start of fermentation) leaving the juice very lightly kissed with color. 

You really can't deny the affordability of rosé paired along with a growing trend amongst winemakers who are actually making rosé wine with true intention versus it being an afterthought when they are attempting to make red wine. Over the past nine years, rosé has continued to grow at an exponential rate. Just last year, the sales on imported rosé increased 39% over the prior year here in the United States. The numbers don't lie. 

Here are my top picks when shopping for rosé this summer >>> 


<< 2013 Chateau Miraval / Provence, France ($25) >>
Grapes:  Cinsault, Grenache, Rolle, Syrah

Yeah yeah, it's owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but wait, I promise it's the real deal. Wine Spectator blew everyone away when it awarded the 2012 vintage with a 90 point rating - one of the highest ever given to a rosé. For those of you not familiar with how the grading scale works, 90 points means the wine was "outstanding" on a scale of 1-100. And outstanding it is, with a wonderful balance of power and elegance and a perfectly floral nose.  You will find that is there bright minerality on the finish and notes of strawberry and rose petal. 

<< 2013 Liquid Farm / Happy Canyon,  Santa Barbara, California ($24) >>
Grapes : Mourvedre, Grenache 

This winery just started making wine a few years back in 2009. The winemakers call it "pink crack" for its highly addictive qualities. This rosé is bone dry and earth-driven with notes of purple basil, fresh gardenia, orange rind, and pomegranate. Very food friendly. 

<< 2013 Red Car / Sonoma Coast, California ($24) >>
Grape: Pinot Noir 

This wine has a delicate nose laced with floral notes and watermelon. The finish is bone dry and the overall flavor notes are packed with tangerine oil, pink grapefruit, and bing cherries. We enjoyed this wine at brunch a few weeks back and it was a major crowd pleaser - bright, refreshing, and delicious. 

<< 2013 Vivier / Sonoma Coast, California ($19) >>
Grape: Pinot Noir 
 
I loved this note about the label from the winery: The label depicts a famed 1906 balloon race over the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. Picnickers gathered in the garden and diners filled the neighborhood terraces, eager to watch the launch of this inaugural overseas race. It’s a perfect moment of joy and anticipation—exactly how you should feel when you enjoy a fine rosé. The wine has notes of apricot, raspberry, and pear with a strong flinty finish. 

<< 2013 Crossbarn by Paul Hobbs / Sonoma Coast, California ($18) >>
Grape: Pinot Noir

With notes of white peach, rose hips, and grapefruit this wine is filled with scents of summertime. Renowned winemaker, Paul Hobbs launched his 2nd brand, Crossbarn, in 2000 with the goal of making approachable wines for a younger generation of budget-concious wine drinkers. 

<< 2013 La Spinetta / Tuscany, Italy ($17) >>
Grapes: Sangiovese, Prugnolo Gentile

I am obsessed with this rosé. This is only the second vintage of this particular wine and it is so completely outrageous. The winemaker allows for only 1 hour of grape skin contact which makes the finished wine such a stunningly pale peach color. Super full and crisp, it has notes of mint, grapefruit, and orange peel with strong minerality on the finish. 


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

J'Adore



Things I'm loving this week >>>

I just picked up case of this Rose by Liquid Farm and the producers weren't kidding when they called it "pink crack"! It's rated 90 points (right up there with one of my other favorites, Miraval) with notes of purple basil, pomegranate, orange rind, fresh gardenia, meaty earthiness, fleur de sel. Blend is 95% mourvedre and 5% grenache.
($22.95 per bottle via Woodland Hills Wine Company)


Brass-Capped Mason Jars via Anthropologie ($20-32)
Perfect for kitchen storage and richer in feel than standard jars. 


White Handled Italian Berti Knives via Food 52 Provisions ($185-300)
The absolute chicest knives. like ever. 


I-Scream Vase via Jonathan Adler ($68)
obsessed. 


Fennel Pollen via Spice Ace ($19.99 per oz)
"If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it."- Peggy K. / Saveur Mag



Clear Bureau Pitcher with Glass via The Little Market ($68)
Handblown in Mexico and would be the most lovely addition to any bedroom nightstand


Gallus Dessert Plates via Anthropologie ($14 each, set of 8)
I am head over heals for these whimsy chicken plates from artist Holly Frean.


Neckless Moss Apron via Hedley & Bennett ($98)
I just got this apron and the "neckless" part is everything - it features a criss cross back which solves the ever-irritating neck-strap-riding-up-over-your-chef-jacket-or-collared-shirt issue. 


Geo Metal Trivet Trio via CB2 ($19.99)
You've never seen hot plates that look THIS good. 


xx

Friday, August 1, 2014

Homemade Almond Milk

Being the lactose intolerant gal that I am, I really pick and choose where I want to cheat and have some dairy. For everyday use, I skip the milk and half and half and lean towards using almond milk. 

No store bought almond milk will ever top the kind you can make in your own kitchen.  I like to make mine thick and creamy so it's perfect for using in my morning coffee or adding to a smoothie. 

My fav smoothie as of lately >>> Almond Milk, Banana, Dates, Kale, & Ice 

You can determine the thickness of the milk by altering the amount of filtered water that you add to the soaked almonds during the blending process. Additionally, you can sweeten the almond milk in a number of ways, my go-to method is with some dates and a drizzle of honey. I also add fresh vanilla bean and a pinch of flake sea salt to round out the flavor. 

Homemade almond milk is best consumed within 3 days so making it in small batches is best. 

Almond Milk
makes 2 cups  


Ingredients 
1 cup raw almonds
2 cups filtered water
2 large dates
half of 1 vanilla bean
1 tsp honey
pinch of sea salt 

Method
1. Soak almonds for 24-36 hours in water.  Once soaked, drain water. 
2. Add soaked almonds to blender with 2 cups of water and rest of ingredients.
3. Blend until smooth. Using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, drain well. 
4. Store milk in refrigerator. Shake before using. 


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cheese & Charcuterie Perfection


I am very excited to share that I recently contributed to Martha Stewart Weddings as their culinary expert on creating crowd-pleasing cheese and charcuterie displays. 

Check out my 6 Steps for Curating a Delicious Display HERE.

 I also wanted to shared some images from our recent nuptials when I worked with the team at Big Sur Bakery and lovely Lolo of Burst of Bloom to create an 8 foot long display for our wedding guests to nosh on during cocktail hour. 

Instead of normal appetizer plates I bought glazed terra-cotta plant saucers (you know, the ones used for garden pots) to use as plates and some giant raw wood boards from West Elm as a base for displaying the cheese and charcuterie. I displayed an entire frame of fresh honeycomb next to the cheese so that guests could scrap wild sage honey directly onto their plates; we had some local bees stop by and help themselves to the comb just as the wedding was getting started.  My dad contributed to the charcuterie display with some of his homemade lonzino (also known as lomo in Spain). 

The overall vibe was Spanish bodega meets California coastal: we used all stemless bodega-style wine glasses for our guests and farmwood tables and wine barrels throughout the property to bring it all together. 











Photos by the uber talented Evynn LeValley.

#CampHendrixForever