Friday, November 01, 2019

The Art of Escapism Cooking Cookbook Review

Lady and Pups is a blog by Mandy Lee an expat living in Hong Kong. But perhaps living is not the best word to describe it. She is suffering in Hong Kong, and before that, she suffered in Beijing. Cooking is her refuge and her blog is a chronicle of how she throws herself into cooking as an escape, hence the cookbook title, The Art of Escapism Cooking. In many ways, her blog and cookbook, are like any others — lots of great photography, impressive recipes and personal stories. Except for one thing, Mandy Lee is unapologetically negative and dark. She does not try and sell some happy vision — real or imagined. She wallows. The politics and pollution are major downers in China, I totally get that. Though I could be wrong, I am fairly certain she does not work outside the home. Her recipes are not the “quick and easy” type, but rather the type that relies on ingredients many Americans are unlikely to have on hand and take a degree of preparation and time that is at times daunting. That isn’t to say her recipes aren’t worth cooking or at very least, using as a jumping-off point. The book includes recipes for things like Poached Eggs with Miso Browned Butter Hollandaise, Buffalo Fried Chicken Ramen, Cumin Lamb Burger and Mochi with Peanut Brown Sugar and Ice Cream. Most of the recipes are very rich and indulgent, not terribly healthy and with very little to no vegetables. 

I spent quite some time looking through the recipes for something I could cook that wouldn’t take too much time or shopping and I ended on a recipe with a rather unpleasant name — Saliva Chicken Meatballs. As Lee explains the Chinese have a quirky sense of humor when it comes to naming food. I would say the name does not translate well into English. While I love the recipe, I don’t love the name. I also have to admit, I needed to adapt the recipe to make it work. Lee cooks the meatballs in a takoyaki pan. Surprise! I don’t have a takoyaki pan. She says you can broil them for 12-14 minutes, but I would certainly recommend baking them instead. If you broil them, they cook too fast on one side and have to be rotated to cook evenly, which is a bother. 

The meatballs are made from chicken and seasonings and no filler ingredients, the sauce is an emulsion of tahini, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar and ice. The finished dish also includes some of her ultimate chili oil but frankly, making two recipes was enough for me, so I substituted a chile oil I already had and that worked fine. Speaking of which, I would recommend adapting the recipes to your liking and using them for inspiration, rather than following them exactly as written Would I make this recipe again? Absolutely. While Lee says it's a popular appetizer, I found with rice and some quick pickled cucumbers the tender meatballs with a boldly flavored and creamy textured sauce made a great weekday dinner. I look forward to using up the rest of the sauce soon.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Lady and PupsInstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me as part of TLC Book Tours, this post does not include any affiliate links. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Infuse the Holiday Season with Flavor


Photo by Lee Sherman
I’ve been a fan of Sonoma Syrup Co. ever since I discovered the brand at the Winter Fancy Food Show 15 years ago. Bursting with bright flavor, Sonoma Syrup Co.’s infused syrups are made with fresh ingredients and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Over the years I’ve written about them and their founder for KQED's Bay Area Bites, over at SF Station, and on my blog. Because of my long relationship with the company, I’m happy to partner with them to share some of the ways I love using them the most.

While infused simple syrups are a great everyday ingredient that adds pizzazz to everything from iced tea to cocktails, they are particularly wonderful for entertaining. During the holiday season, we all want easy ways to impress family and guests, and Sonoma Syrup infused simple syrups fit the bill perfectly. Here are three great ways to boost the flavor at your holiday gatherings. 

1. Breakfast and Brunch 
Whether it’s Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas day or New Year’s day, an easy way to satisfy your guests is with a brunch buffet. Even if you’re just using pancake mix, a little infused simple syrup will make your crepes, waffles or pancakes special. Simply add a tablespoon or two in place of other liquids such as milk or water. I’ve also added it to the batter for French toast but it’s also good as a topping. Offer guests a selection of different infused simple syrups to drizzle on their hot cereal instead of brown sugar or make Toasted Vanilla Coconut Oats from Toot Sweetness. 

2. Winter Drinks 
The first thing I ever made with Sonoma Syrup was a sparkling cocktail with Sonoma Syrups lavender simple syrup and sparkling wine. It couldn’t have been easier, just a splash of simple syrup in a glass that was then filled with sparkling wine. It took something already festive—bubbles—and made it even more fun. With raspberry syrup you could also make a pretty Raspberry Champagne Spritzer from Design, Eat, Repeat.  

Simple syrups were originally designed for use in cocktails, but they are also great to sweeten any kind of drinks—alcoholic or not. Consider vanilla almond syrup in hot chocolate, Meyer lemon syrup in tea, white ginger syrup in hot apple cider or lavender syrup in coffee. Of course, there’s also Vanilla Egg Nog from Cali Girl Cooking. 

3. Desserts 
Let’s face it, holiday season is dessert season. There is no Thanksgiving without pie and no Christmas without cookies. There are so many ways to use Sonoma Syrup flavored simple syrups in baked goods and desserts of all kinds. The easiest might be as a sweetener in whipped cream. Vanilla, vanilla almond or white ginger are great flavors to complement pumpkin pie, gingerbread and apple pie. 

Bakers recommend using simple syrup on cake layers to keep it moist. Use a pastry brush to coat each layer before frosting. Infused simple syrup also is the key to making the easiest 2 ingredient glazes. Combine 1/4 cup of infused simple syrup with a cup of powdered sugar to make an icing or glaze to go on cakes or cookies. Try the glaze on cinnamon buns or on to turn a plain pound cake into Meyer Lemon Pound Cake

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. My thanks to Sonoma Syrup Co. for partnering with me. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Snøfrisk Waffle Tartines Recipe

Snøfrisk means "snow fresh" in Norwegian and is a goat cheese blend made from 80% goat's milk and 20% cow's milk. It is an extremely creamy, smooth and spreadable cheese that has all the tangy freshness of chevre but is as soft as sour cream. It's not aged, and has no additives or stabilizers, just a bit of salt. Made by a farmer-owned company in Norway, it's being introduced in a 3-pack at Costco in the San Francisco Bay Area. Two packages are plain and one is flavored with red onion and thyme. 

There are lots of ways to use Snøfrisk. Not surprisingly it's great to spread on toast, crackers, bread or vegetables. You can also toss it with pasta or add fresh herbs to it to make a dip. I also created a recipe for Snøfrisk Zucchini Risotto for the brand. But I found it's smooth enough that you can even spread it on waffles. I make waffles from a mix but I skip adding any sugar or honey and keep them slightly savory. Waffles, just like goat cheese can pair well with both sweet or savory ingredients. 

After smearing Snøfrisk on freshly-made waffles, I topped them with various things--slices of avocado, flakes of salmon, sliced strawberries and even blueberries. But really, the only limit is your imagination! I think they would be good topped with smoked salmon, cucumbers, arugula, tomatoes, peaches, you-name-it. I made my waffles with a mixture of buckwheat and whole-grain mixes, but use any waffle recipe or mix you like. This is more of a serving suggestion than a recipe and infinitely adaptable to whatever you have on hand. 

Snøfrisk Waffle Tartines
Makes 5 waffles

Ingredients 

4 waffles, buttermilk, whole grain or buckwheat
1/4 cup Snøfrisk
Toppings such as sliced fruit, vegetables, seafood, jam or chutney

Instructions 

Spread each waffle with about a tablespoon of cheese and top with slices of fruit, vegetables or topping of your choice. Serve immediately. 

Enjoy! 

Disclaimer: My thanks to Norseland Inc for providing me with the cheese. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post on this blog. 


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

All About Walnut Oil from La Tourangelle

La Tourangelle is a family-owned company that produces outstanding nut and seed oils, with heritage in the Loire Valley of France, an area known for nut oils. Their toasted sesame, roasted walnut, roasted peanut and roasted pistachio oils are all award winners. The company began in 2002 in Woodland, California and their nut oils are all expeller pressed and are GMO-free. Their walnut, almond, hazelnut, pecan and pistachio oil are made in house and their almonds and walnuts come from California. 

Earlier this year I got a chance to visit the La Tourangelle mill and also a farm that supplies some of their nuts. Bullseye Farms grows tomatoes, cucumbers, hay, and nuts sustainably on about 16,000 acres. They have 500 acres of walnuts and they use a black walnut rootstock which is resistant to diseases. The walnuts are a cross between different varieties and are self pollinators. You might be surprised to learn that ugly nuts make the best oil. It’s the variety of different nuts rather than uniformity that makes the oil taste better. 

The process La Tourangelle uses to make their oil is unique and combines two different styles—refined and unrefined to make an oil that is full-flavored and yet affordable. All their oils are made in small batches and they use only French presses for their limited edition oils. All the nut oils are handcrafted by the master roaster who relies on years of experience to know exactly how to roast the nuts for maximum flavor.

The scent in the mill is intoxicating! Luscious and buttery, roasted walnut oil is the essence of walnuts. Walnut oil has a very short shelf life. Unopened it will last about two years, but once opened it’s best to use it within six months. So don’t hoard it! Use it! If you don’t think you can use a whole tin of it, La Tourangelle now sells it in convenient single-serving pouches. While making a vinaigrette is probably the most common way to use roasted walnut oil, there are plenty of uses. Here are some of my favorite ways to use roasted walnut oil: 

+ Use on top of pancakes or waffles instead of butter
+ Add to pasta with Parmesan cheese and chopped toasted walnuts
+ Drizzle over grains such as farro, bulgar or freekeh, top with fresh herbs
+ Combine with toasted walnuts and use on top of brussels sprouts, green beans or asparagus
+ Use in place of olive oil in pesto 
+ Substitute it for butter or vegetable oil in granola recipes
+ Dip bread in it instead of olive oil or butter
+ Use in shortbread recipes 
+ Add a few drops to soup before serving
+ Use in a carrot walnut slaw salad with Dijon mustard
+ Drip on top of vanilla or chocolate ice cream
+ Add to popcorn instead of butter

More about the visit from my colleague Anneli Rufus over at Oakland Magazine.

Disclaimer: My thanks to La Tourangelle for hosting me, I was not compensated monetarily for this post.