Saturday, January 19, 2013

craving carbonara....eggs, eggs, eggs!

It's shaping up to be a very eggy day here at Butter and Figs.  This morning I woke up craving pasta alla carbonara (don't ask me why), but settled for fried eggs and toast instead.  Maybe I'll œuver indulge this evening, and make my favorite eggy pasta for dinner.  The dish is so simple, yet deliciously warm and comforting.  It's a lovely solution for Saturday evening supper.  The recipe below is from one of my favorite culinary resources,  The Kitchn.  Over the years I've made several versions of this dish, but it's most popular when served, after midnight, to my last remaining revelers. Regardless of the time or place, there are never leftovers.  And, as with most of my favorite recipes, the ingredients are simple and few. The key to success is quality, not quantity.  If you can get your hands on farm fresh eggs,  good pork, and whole peppercorns, you will be in business!  If not,  you'll still have pasta alla carbonara and a very contented belly.
Image Credit: André Baranowski

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

killer chicken salad with can make it tonight!

I made this chicken salad to satisfy a craving for ginger.  Strange though it may seem,  it was exactly what I needed.  It's so simple, and took less that 20 minutes from start to finish.  The key to the flavor is to make this while the chicken is still warm.   Serve over salad greens, or rice noodles for a complete meal. 

let the juicing begin! soon my juicer arrives

Photo: Alexey Ivanov / Getty Images via Daily Candy
I've heard so many people say, "juicing changed my life!".  Frankly,  I like juice, and juices...even the green ones.  But do they really make a difference for our health?  Not according to Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D.,  a nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic.
"....there's no sound scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than the juice you get by eating the fruit or vegetable itself. On the other hand, if you don't enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetables, juicing may be a fun way to add them to your diet or to try fruits and vegetables you normally wouldn't eat. You can find many juicing recipes online or mix up your own combinations of fruits and vegetables to suit your taste."
She also warns that consuming too much fruit juice can dramatically increase one's calorie intake, leading to unexpected weight gain.   YIKES!
Photo: Jamie Grill Photography via Daily Candy
I fall into the category of people for whom a vegetable serving is mixed greens (not too bad), or sauteed onions and garlic (less impressive).  In which case, a green juice at lunch certainly wouldn't hurt.  And then,  I saw this on Daily Candy... "According to facialist Joanna Vargas, a green juice a day will keep dull, dehydrated skin away.

I ordered my new Juicer immediately!  

Monday, January 14, 2013

monday resolutions - a clean soup to start the week

sauteed broccoli w/ onion and garlic
If you're like me, every Monday begins with the promise of cleaner least until next weekend.  Unfortunately, the prospects always seem so dire.  Who wants to snack on raw vegetables in the middle of January? That is unless, of course, you're fortunate enough to be spending your winter in South Florida,  or the Caribbean (or anywhere warmer that it is here !!! ).

This soup, from Goop, is the perfect solution.  With all the healthy benefits of fresh broccoli and arugula, the flavor remains comforting.  Steamy spoonfuls of this soup, taste of warm citrus, punctuated with peppery arugula and bright broccoli.
 If you don't already subscribe to Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle publication, you should.  If not just for the recipes, but there is so much more to enjoy!  From the site, "Goop gives readers exclusive access to recipes, travel guides, fashion, wellness tips, cultural notes and more.".   With friends like Mario Batali, and José Andrés, how could one go wrong in the kitchen?  There is, however, more to Gwyneth, than famous friends.  She has already published two cookbooks, with a third to be released in April.  I've already pre-ordered mine!
Notes from My Kitchen Table - Gwyneth Paltrow

My Father's Daughter - Gwyneth Paltrow

It's All Good - Gwyneth Paltrow

Thursday, January 10, 2013

gluten free goodness, from Purely Elizabeth

Am I the last person on earth to hear about Purely Elizabeth?  Such gluten free, organic goodness.  I first came across her cookie mix when I was hosting a tea, for a friend who has Celiac disease.  Not only are her products gluten free, but they're not full of junk and filler!   In fact they are gluten, dairy, and soy free, and vegan to boot.  Here's the kicker,  THEY TASTE AWESOME!!!

I had the pumpkin fig cereal for breakfast this morning, with almond milk, and I was back in cereal heaven.  Due to my own sensitivities to gluten and dairy,  I haven't had decent cereal in years!

It's very important to have a few gluten free items stocked in your pantry, for your guests who may have a minor gluten intolerance, or full blown celiac disease.  These are serious conditions, and any host or hostess should be extremely attentive to guests that have these allergies. 

Of course Elizabeth's products are so much more than gluten free! She has done a tremendous amount of research, to create the most natural and wholesome foods possible.  I hope you will spend some time on Purely Elizabeth's website.  It is choc full of nutritional education and healthy living tips,  even if you aren't pursuing a gluten-free lifestyle. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

a cake for all seasons

Portuguese Orange- Olive Oil Cake  -   Photo courtesy of Leite's Culinaria
First, let me say that yesterday's photo shoot for the cookbook to support the Food Bank was so much fun!  I'm so excited to share the final product with you this summer.  Most importantly, you will all have to purchase one to support this incredible cause!

Until then, you should absolutely go to your kitchen and make this cake RIGHT NOW!  I've been making versions this cake for years, but this recipe is THE ONE. It is truly the perfect dessert to follow any meal.  It's also really good for breakfast the next day...and lunch if you're feeling indulgent. If you have an ounce of self discipline you should make your cake the day before you'd like to serve it. The warm citrus pops against the fruity olive oil, and these taste sensations are so much better after marrying overnight.

This recipe is from David Leite, and can be found in his cookbook, The New Portuguese Table.   A three times winner of the James Beard Award, and winner of the IACP 2010 Julia Child Award for First Book, David is obviously talented.  He's even included a shopping list for a Portuguese pantry!!! 

I'm going to include his recipe below, but while your cake is in the oven, you must spend some time perusing David's Website, Leite's Culinaria It's absolutely so much fun, and everything you will find there is really, really brilliant. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

banana bread, and cooking for a cause - the Central Missouri Food Bank

banana bread
give me a slice already! 
This morning I'm fueling up on good strong coffee and homemade banana bread.  I made this bread last night, after our pizza feast.  It is one of the easiest recipes in the world, absolutely DELICIOUS - and here's the best part,  it's good for you!  This recipe from Elena's Pantry  is gluten, dairy, and soy free.  I added chocolate chips, because I can't be THAT good all the time,  but without the chips this would actually be defined as "paleo bread".  I don't have time this morning to delve into the paleo philosophy of eating, but I will say, I think it makes a lot of sense.  That being said, I can't imagine ever completely eliminating butter from my repertoire!  And, before I forget, these little candy stripe loaf pans are a brilliant find by the girls at Tallulah's! They are darling paper loaf  pans that you can put in the oven (no need to pre-grease!). Perfect for gifting baked goods.  If you can't visit the store, you can find them online here.
mise en place
Now, to more serious matters....this morning I've prepping for an exciting photo shoot that will take place in my kitchen later today. 

Before the holidays, I was asked to contribute to a cookbook that will be published to benefit the Central Missouri Food Bank! The book will be filled wonderful recipes and stories, from individuals who possess much more kitchen prowess than me! The best part is that 100% of the proceeds will go to the Food Bank.  I'll be sure to let you know when they are available for purchase! I am so excited to be a part of such an important cause, which will make such difference here in my own community.

When I lived in Boston,  I volunteered at one of the soup kitchens in the city.  Hosted each week by the Church of the Advent, on Beacon Hill, it was aptly called a "community supper.  They have a legacy of serving a seated dinner, to those in need, every Tuesday evening for over 25 years - including Christmas day if the calendar so dictated!  I was so fortunate to be able to serve in that capacity, and the experience helped to shape my own understandings of the importance of sharing a meal around the table.
photo courtesy of Happy Cloud

Sunday, January 6, 2013

i made pizza, and then i got distracted....

Sunday night's 'pizza for dinner' plan is quickly becoming a household tradition.  It's so easy, and it always hits the mark:  little to no prep, short cooking time, scrumptious results, minimal cleanup.   Tonight's version consisted of the obligatory Udi's Gluten Free Crust, homemade pesto ( recipe to follow),  sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and parmesan reggiano.  Everything except the fresh basil, which I used in the pesto, was already stocked in my pantry/ refrigerator/ freezer.  It doesn't get much easier than that.
My husband, Thor,  opened a yummy bottle of wine and that was that.  These are some of my favorite evenings.
As it always does, our conversation drifted quickly - from pizza crust,( Thor doesn't like gluten free) to french cookbooks. Eventually we found our way to Henri Babinski, an french engineer turned cookbook author.  He is better known in foody circles by his nom de plume, Ali Bab, under which he published the  Gastronomie Pratique, Etudes Culinaires, or as translated, the Practical Gastronomist - culinary studies.   In an effort to be brief,  I'd love to suggest a visit to fellow blogger's Lost Past Remembered, for both a more in depth account, and a beautiful recipe for Veal Chop with Paprika Cream......

As for me and my house,  we ate pizza, and puttered around until bedtime.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

glorious leftovers - and the recipe for roasted cauliflower

Saturday mornings are for moving slowly.  French pressed coffee and warm frothy milk share my relaxed attention with the 'Off Duty' section of the WSJ.  Incidentally,  there's a recipe on today's 'Eating and Drinking' page for Buckwheat Hazlenut Sables that I'm dying to try!

Breakfast on these lazy days is usually comprised of an egg, paired with something to sop of the yolk.  This morning, that something was roasted cauliflower, left over from last night's dinner party.  While I warmed the cauliflower in the oven, I poached my egg, perfectly soft, so that the warm yolk would break open and soak into my breakfast.  I drizzled white truffle oil over the egg and crumbled a few sea salt flakes on top of that.  

Now for the roasted cauliflower.  My sister made this for Christmas dinner and I must admit, her's was better.  She adapted her recipe from one she found over on the most lovely Roost Blog ( a must must must read!).   It's so simple really, but the delicate flavors of sweet onion, fresh cauliflower and musty truffle oil are divine.

Friday, January 4, 2013

oil and vinegar

I recently received a beautiful collection of hand crafted olive oils and vinegars from my sister-in-law.  She and my brother live in one of the most beautiful towns on the east coast.  And in this little town is a fabulous little shop by the name of Gustare. Catherine & Dave Ferraresi opened Gustare in 2009  after living in Europe for 10 years.  Gustare translates from Italian to mean, "to taste, to enjoy, to savour" and their products certainly invite one to do so.  They arrived in a beautiful gift box, but didn't stay there long.  I've already used both of the balsamics and was so impressed by their pairings.  The Espresso Balsamic is a beautiful combination with a rich tangy balsamic base that just briefly finishes with a zip of espresso. It's much like finishing a rich meal with a shot of espresso to relieve your tastebuds (and keep you from falling asleep after a big meal). 

I'm going to use the White Truffle Olive Oil on my roasted cauliflower for dinner tonight. Recipe to follow later this afternoon!

Buon Appetito!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

luxurious LUXARDO - an old fashioned cocktail

I just want you to know that these are the best maraschino cherries that you will ever have.  That's all there is to it, really. Maraschino cherries are by definition, preserved, sweetened cherries, typically made from light-colored sweet cherries. "Maraschino" refers to the marasca cherry from Croatia and the maraschino liqueur made from it, in which marasca cherries were crushed and sweetened. Whole cherries preserved in this liqueur were known as "maraschino cherries". They were, at first, produced for and consumed as a delicacy by royalty and the wealthy.

Luxardo Maraschino Cherries are still made ( in Italy)  from Marasca cherries and preserved in a marasca syrup.  There are no preservatives or thickening agents so they do not have a prolonged shelf life.  They are simply luxurious.
Also....and most importantly, they are the KEY ingredient in a proper Old Fashioned whiskey cocktail, which is what I'm enjoying as I write this.

Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail - my version
2 ounces Rye Whiskey
2 tsp water
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
splash of Cointreau ( in place of traditional simple syrup and orange garnish)
2 Maraschino cherries - one to eat while you make it, and one for garnish.

Combine all ingredients in a rocks glass, stir.  Add 2 cubes of ice.
Have a maraschino - and enjoy! 

Cookbooks - and what I've been up to since Thanksgiving!

new cookbooks!
I was so pleased to receive so many amazing cookbooks as gifts this Christmas.  Each book is truly inspiring, both in the exquisite photographs and culinary treasures they contain.  I'm looking forward to delving into the new gastronomic adventures through their pages.
  • The Foothills Cuisine - Sam Beal via Blackberry Farm
  • the Smitten Kitchen cookbook - Deb Perlman
  • Around my French Table - Dorie Greenspan
  • French Cuisine for All - a vintage treasure by Louisette Bertholle ( friend of Julia Childs)
  • NOMA, a time and place in nordic cuisine - Rene Redzepi
    • my husband is from Denmark, and we can't wait to visit NOMA on our next trip!

I've been quite busy since my last post in NOVEMBER. On Thanksgiving we hosted a seated dinner for 23 guests. We roasted TWO 17 lb Heritage Turkeys!  I was so overwhelmed getting everything ready for that day, that I didn't take a single photo! 

I received the most decadent treat from Fran's Chocolates to put me in the holiday spirit!  Turkish Figs filled with chocolate ganache.  I'll be writing more about these babies in the future - oh, my. 
Fran's Chocolates
Over Christmas, we traveled to Nashville, TN where we shared a beautiful holiday with my mother's family.  For Christmas dinner we had beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower and several other yummy sides.  Sometimes the leftovers are even better than the first meal!  We departed late Christmas day and shared a midnight snack when we finally arrived at home.
leftover beef tenderloin w/ sea salt, apple pie and pecan pie
Since then we've had our bellies filled with delicious meals such as....
Paella prepared by some of our dear friends! 

I made Dorie Greenspan's Caramel-topped Semolina cake for dessert.  Her cookbook,  Around my French Table is full of elegant dishes that are fairly simple to prepare.  I've tweeted about her new cookie line,  Buerre & Sel.  These are a MUST have for any pantry.  Just don't open them until you're prepared to eat them, every last one!
semolina, golden raisins, and vanilla

Buerre & Sel - Sesame Sea Salt
We hosted our last dinner party of the season on New Year's Eve.  I served Beef Bourguignon as the main course, and for dessert I used April Bloomfield's recipe for chocolate-orange cake with bourbon.  It's always fun to play with fire in the kitchen!
bourbon on fire!
Thankfully there was just a sliver leftover for breakfast the next morning.....
chocolate cake for breakfast
Because I needed something to get me through the clean-up process! 
many many dirty dishes
Here's to a very happy 2013 and a pantry full of goodies!