Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chunky Fresh Loganberry Coulis

(about 5 cups sauce)

My mum lives very close to a large berry farm on the Olympic Peninsula. You can pick your own or grab boxes of already picked berries. At the moment they have a nice selection of raspberries, blueberries, loganberries and boysenberries.

Last week I headed to the farm for my first time and picked over 7 pounds of loganberries. I hadn't planned on that many and I mistakenly picked the ripest berries. By the time I got them home some had already begun to get mushy.

They weren't going to last much longer, so I washed and froze about two thirds of them. The rest of the loganberries became a tasty coulis. A delicious dessert sauce, great over ice cream, yogurt, crepes or waffles.

6-7 cups fresh loganberries
1/4 -2/3 cup agave syrup or honey, to taste

Pick over the berries and wash them in water.

Place about half of the loganberries into the food processor with 1/4 cup of sweetener to start. Process until you have a sauce. Taste and add more sweetener if the coulis is too tart. Pulse a few more times. Strain the sauce through a sieve, if desired. Loganberries have less seeds than raspberries. I left them in.

Stir in the remaining berries. Leave the whole, or pulse once or twice to chop them up a bit. Store in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cola Syrup

(about 3 cups syrup)

At the moment I'm in Washington, house sitting for my mum who is spending the summer in Europe. The weather here is simply wonderful; sunny and much cooler than Dallas. I'm in Heaven!

This weekend is Lavender Festival in Sequim, Washington. Yesterday I headed out early to avoid the crowds and visited several lavender farms in the area. I tasted some lavender ice cream as well as a lavender infused gin with tonic water. The gin was quite interesting. The fellow who served me the drink added extra lavender syrup for a more pronounced flavor.

The following cola recipe is from The New York Times. It contains dried culinary lavender. I made a few adjustments. I added a 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander because that was an ingredient listed in another cola recipe I found online. I replaced a good portion of the water with the fresh juice I squeezed from the the two oranges, limes and lemon after I stripped them of their zest. In place of caramel powder to darken the syrup, I caramelized a quarter cup of sugar and added that instead.

This syrup completely exceeded my expectations. It's delicious! So much better tasting than the bottled stuff at the store.

juice squeezed out from the oranges, limes and lemon (used for zest)
water if needed, to bring the liquid (juice) measurement up to 2 cups
zest from 2 medium oranges
zest from 2 medium limes
zest from 1 large lemon
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
2 sections of a star anise pod, crushed
1/2  tsp dried lavender flowers
2 tsp minced ginger
1 1/2-inch piece vanilla bean, split
1/4 tsp citric acid
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water

1. In a heavy pot over medium heat, bring 2 cups juice/water to a simmer with the orange lime and lemon zests, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, star anise, lavender, ginger, vanilla and citric acid. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

2. In a food processor, whirl the 2 cups sugar for one minute (this will help it dissolve). Set aside.

3. Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and water in a medium sized pot. Heat the mixture until the sugar caramelizes. Remove from heat when the mixture is a nice medium-dark brown. Add the reserved sugar from the food processor.

4. Line a sieve or colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth and place over the pot containing the caramelized and processed sugars. Pour the simmered mixture through the sieve. Carefully gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and twist the top to close. Use a spoon to press the bundle against the sieve, squeezing out all the flavorful liquid.

5. Stir the syrup and let cool, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves, about 15 minutes. Transfer to containers and keep refrigerated. To make a soda, pour 3-4 tablespoons of syrup over ice and add 1 cup seltzer. Stir.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Red Rooster Cafe's Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue Cheese Dressing recipe from the front page of The Red Rooster menu.
This week I'm staying at a ranch near Cottonwood, AZ which is about 20 minutes southwest of Sedona. There are a lot of good wineries and restaurants in this picturesque area.

The Red Rooster Cafe is located on the historic Main Street in Cottonwood. I enjoyed a memorable mini burger (3oz patty of grass fed, organic beef) served on a baguette with a layer of a delicious sun-dried tomato cream cheese spread, as well as a garden salad with a really tasty homemade Blue Cheese Dressing. I was pleased that they printed the recipe for the dressing on the front page of their menu.