Thursday 24 May 2012

Sweet Tarts with Strawberry-Rhubarb Curd

Time spent outdoors in this warmer weather brings rosy cheeks, wind-tousled hair and sun-kissed skin - nature's way of highlighting our beauty within. Like us, seasonal produce needs no further embellishment:  its beauty and flavor are best enjoyed in simple preparations that highlight the produce itself. Inspired by the juices dripping down my chin from a strawberry rhubarb gourmet ice pop I recently enjoyed at my local farmer's market (and a serendipitous encounter at Goodwill that yielded a good-as-new Braun Juicer for only $3.99!!!), I wanted to experiment with the essence of these seasonal flavors in a special dessert. My rhubarb plant is currently in its adolescent phase - a few tall, slender stalks have burst forth from the earth. There's not enough to fill out a pie yet, but there is the perfect amount to extract that bright, tart taste. I liked the idea of tarts too - individual desserts filled with a creamy strawberry-rhubarb curd that encourages lingering with one's spoon.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Mexican Chocolate Layer Cake with Cinnamon & Chili Frosting

This cake speaks Spanish. It has a sultry, seductive, chocolatey nature accented with a chili heat that teases the palate with each bite. It purrs like Penelope Cruz, asking you to follow its taste to that sensual place to which the Latin culture seems to have direct access. This is a cake of unexplored depths, layers of pleasure, and exotic flavor that elicits moans and awakens the rhythm and mystery within. My friend A. requested a chocolate cake for her teenage daughter's birthday, specifying that her daughter really likes Mexico. I envisioned a coming together of flavors I'd experienced before in a Mexican hot chocolate - cinnamon and chili - and infused the frosting with those flavors to top a dark chocolate cinnamon layer cake. I was surprised and excited by the amount of passion these flavors elicited in me, and in the cake as a result.

Thursday 10 May 2012

Springtime Breakfast Pizza with a Whole Wheat Crust

There is a very specific intimacy that accompanies working with dough in the morning that differs from other times of day. Both you and the dough are waking up at the same time, the chemistry between you fresh and vulnerable, feeling different in the early light. There is a raw sensuality to the interaction, unclouded by haste or desire, but rather an honest, honoring approach to starting off your day well-fed and satisfied. Inspired by a recent Pinterest browse and the contents of my fridge, which held odds and ends of produce from this past week’s meals, I used the dough as a meeting place for these unattached vegetables and made a delicious breakfast pizza. Usually, when I've got just a little bit of this and that, I am grateful for eggs, and will often whip up a frittata or an omelette with any remaining produce, but this morning I felt particularly indulgent and wanted to use eggs in a different way. My fridge boasted a few cherry tomatoes, some stalks of asparagus, two green onions, a handful of portobello and shiitake mushrooms, a heel of Parmesan, a bit of aged cheddar, a couple rashers of smoky bacon, and a shallot or two: ingredients just begging to come together in pizza form, with the addition of fresh organic eggs cracked on top of the pizza before it is baked. This pizza makes an ideal breakfast: fresh vegetable flavors that meld together atop a crispy-then-soft crust, the egg yolks breaking open sexily across the textured terrain of toppings. Perfect for mornings - or mornings after.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Rhubarb & Orange Fool in Meringue Nests

Intuition in the kitchen is a good thing. It helps you know when to pull something out of the oven, when to stop salting, when to go out on a limb and throw in a random ingredient that brings a dish from ordinary to proposition-inducing. Part of the joy in developing one's kitchen (and bedroom) intuition is the adventure experimentation brings. With practice, there comes a culinary confidence that opens up a whole new world of possibilities when approaching a recipe. This week's recipe came from that intuitive place - drawing upon inspiration from my garden, a ballerina, and my fondness for putting whipped cream on everything.