Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Family’

Marquise au Chocolat | TWD |Baking Chez Moi

Last week I left the grocery store with a stack of thin chocolate bars, for the Marquise recipe, and they felt like what I image little gold bars to be. While prepping for the desert each time I peel open the shiny foil wrapper of the chocolate bar, I fell back into the excitement I felt as kid, reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

“But there was one other thing that the grown-ups also knew, and it was this: that however small the chance might be of striking lucky, the chance is there. The chance had to be there.”
Ronald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factor 

 This time the excitement for me was trying a new recipe and hoping for the chance that it turns out because I’ve gone and decided to make a new recipe for a special birthday dinner, and I don’t have a back up in the freezer! So, I do believe in luck when executed correctly ;0)  And thank goodness Dorie Greenspan writes beautiful recipes that will make me look like a rock star on the first try.

A frozen chocolate birthday mousse

“Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories”. ~Buddy Valastro

Making this cake was a snap. It has six ingredients; butter, bittersweet chocolate, fresh room temp eggs, sugar, fleur de sel and cold heavy cream. For a chocolate lover one can’t go wrong with this combination and for those of us who enjoy baking or in this case freezing, because you don’t bake this cake, folding the whipped egg and cream mixture into the chocolate creates a decadent marbled effect that makes me smile.

Chicken had shot

Happy Chicken

There was some chatter of concern on the Tuesdays with Dorie site by fellow Dorista’s about the use of room temperature eggs and making a cake that has raw eggs in it. Dorie makes a highlighted note in her recipe to use” very fresh eggs, preferably organic and/or from a trusted local source.”  We were lucky here, since our local source lives in the hen house out back and is named Clucky. Along with her friends they provided the four eggs I needed for my Marquise au Chocolat, bright and early the morning of my cake making. That’s as fresh as you get. Coop to Cake!

Backyard chicken eggs fresh today

From clucky with love

However, if you are pregnant, a young child, have a compromised immune system or if you are concerned about eating anything with raw eggs, you can still make this recipe by using pasteurized eggs or bringing the eggs to 160º. Do this while mixing the eggs to keep from scrambling, in a heat proof bowl over simmering water. Another idea I saw that Peggy from Pantry Revisited substituted greek yogurt for the eggs and was happy with the results.

Chicken tucked into bed

not all hens have a clean coop like clucky

Once you’ve made your decision on which way to proceed with the egg choice it’s as simple as mixing and pouring everything into a loaf pan to freeze. While the cake was freezing I searched for a fun topping option. Dorie made me laugh with her side column “Bonne Idée” where one line reads “Crack Chocolate Sauce” as a good idea to drizzle over the marquise. It’s the way the type was set and those three words stand out as one line but of course the real name of the sauce is Hard-Crack Chocolate Sauce. Think ice cream sundae chocolate sauce that goes from liquid to solid once poured atop a bowl of ice cream. This is exactly the sauce I had to make, mainly because the name, it must be that good!

 

coconut oil in a glass dish for Hard Crack Chocolate Sauce

coconut oil + chocolate = happiness

Again her recipe for the sauce was straight forward and easy. With two ingredients; bittersweet chocolate and coconut oil mixed and melted together in a heat proof bowl then poured over the marquise. The cake, just went from two stars of decadence to four. Add a bit of Whipped Cream to top it off  and I confirm it was that good!

No bake Chocolate Cake

It’s all about the cake…

 

This rich no bake chocolate cake can be made ahead of time, kept in the freezer and pulled out ready for serving. Or it can be made in individual ramekins and dressed up with fresh berries. There are so many creative ideas to tweak this chocolate cake that I’ll need to make it again and again to test them out. I’m sure my family won’t complain.

 

 

 

From our kitchen to yours!

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

Parfait! A Perfect May Day Surprise!

The tradition of May Day is celebrated around the globe. Each culture has its own take but the traditions boil down to spreading kindness to another.

As a kid I remember leaving little bouquets of hand picked flowers at our neighbors door and enjoying the anonymous aspect of it, or at least I thought I was being sneaky, I’m sure they knew.

Hand picked flowers Hannah WP

Now a quarter mile from my next adult neighbor and further from those with children, no flowers land on our doorstep and well we haven’t a doorbell either, no fun meter here. Yes, life is hard here in the countryside. However, due to modern technology we no longer hike up hill both ways in a snow storm to get to school, we drive and thankfully so does the UPS truck.

Image 30 no logo WP Parfait

You see May Day surprises are still possible. May 1st I found a peculiar box at our front door. Yes, I know who physically left it and so does my dog who is now enjoying his treat.

Image 31no logo parfait box WP

I look really surprised

Peculiar because it had ICE CREAM printed all over it. Could it really be? You gotta hand it to today’s transportation system. I knew you could ship live baby chicks but ice cream too? Parfait I say, well not really but that too was printed all over the box as well.

Image 28 no logo parfait WP EVA

Giddy with curiosity that someone would send us ice cream and full of excitement my family opened the box. Front and center we find a “caution dry ice” letter. All of a sudden this gift has an added bonus, ice cream and a learning opportunity/science experiment!

Image 29 caution parfait WP

Image 25 Eva no logo WP Parfait Image 26 Image 32

Image 34 Parfait no logo Eva ice WP

Finding out what happens when…

Image 37 Eva, dry ice Parfait

Dry Ice mixes with apple juice

Image 33 Eva Dry Ice Parfait WP

The excitement begins!

Image 36 Eva Dry Ice Parfait WP

pretty fun…

Science!

Science at it’s best…and fun to watch too!

Image 14 May Day Glo WP

Or, in the sink with water!

Upon further inspection we found the packing slip which spilled the beans on the delicious flavors within.

~Meyer Lemon
What they say it tastes like: Imagine the same sweet and tangy goodness of lemon curd frozen into a smooth and creamy ice cream. We use Meyer lemons, which are thin-skinned and delicately perfumed.

~Mint Stracciatella
What they say it tastes like: Our mint doesn’t taste like candy canes, but rather fresh mint, straight from the garden. That’s because we steep our custard with real organic spearmint leaves from Marigold and Mint. Our delicate, chocolate flakes are made using TCHO organic chocolate and traditional Italian methods.

~Fleur de Caramel
What they say it tastes like: A traditional French caramel with a silky texture and beautiful amber color. We use just the right amount of genuine Fleur de Sel to bring out the deep caramel taste. Neither overly salty nor cloyingly sweet.


~ We also found out who the sender was…Thank you Ira and Courtney for sending such a fun and yummy gift!

funny factoid:

For all those who have spontaneously declared some sort of resolution and broken it before it began…I’ll add I too can sympathize. Not just 2 hours before that peculiar box arrived I had spurted the words ” I think I’ll give up sugar for the month of May”

…maybe the second half of the month of May.

Bon appetit!

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ caramelize life

“Making Life A Little Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”

Bruschetta In Eleven Minutes Tops!

Bruschetta landscape

A favorite in our home because we love Italian food anything, it’s healthy and a snap to make.

Bruschetta in the making

When my daughter was four she came in from munching sweet cherry tomatoes and basil in the garden and exclaimed ” We have a grocery store in our backyard!”  Then she asked…”can we grow a mozzarella plant?” She asked the proper question; can we? If only that were possible. “I wish we could.” was my answer. However, these questions did open the door to researching how mozzarella is made, and where it comes from. I’ve not yet ventured to make it myself, but I hear Mozzarella is pretty easy to produce, so I’ll have to try it and get back to you about that.

Until then, here’s our favorite bruschetta recipe:

Bruschetta

1 Local baguette sliced (I love the Mazama Store’s because it has a wee bit of salt on top)
2-3 Red, preferably heirloom, garden tomatoes (however with snow still on the ground, organic vine-ripened tomatoes have the most flavor)
15 Basil leaves or as many as you have slices of bread
Fresh mozzarella (you can find the pre-sliced kind at some stores) to top the slices of bread
salt for sprinkling
Olive oil (Italian) to drizzle
Balsamic Vinegar (aged has a sweeter flavor, but any will do) to drizzle

Bruschetta olive oil drip drop bottle

Action:

1. Toast the slices of bread, or if you have time put them over the grill or gas burner, to toast
2. Add sliced mozzarella
3. Add Basil face up to catch some of the oil and balsamic drizzle
4. Add sliced tomatoes to each
5. Sprinkle with salt
6. Drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Bruschetta Ready To Eat!

Buon Appetito!

* Thank you to Diane, Geof, Linda, Marc, Hannah and Eva for patiently waiting to devour these tasty bites while E.A did his photo dance to capture the bruschetta when freshest.

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ Caramelize Life

“making life a little sweeter, through food, travel and community”

Fondue and Football

What do you think of when you hear the word fondue? Snow topped Swiss Mountains, cows with clanging bells that we only hear at ski races and steam filled wooden clad restaurants where the air is permeated with the smell of melted cheese?

 matter bean WP24341_1383352991137_8372409_nMatterhorn WP Zermatt fondue bean 24341_1383354591177_1134405_n

We’ve experienced these warm cozy venues under the Matterhorn‘s shadow and enjoyed true Swiss hospitality high in the mountains with good friends. However, what comes to mind over all, is a crazy combination of Swiss hospitality and an American pastime.

My husband grew up with a New Years Day tradition of fondue and football. So when there are back to back bowl games playing on New Years Day, his family and friends gather and instead of chips and dip they dipped their cubed  bread into the Swiss cheese and yelled at the t.v.

IMG_1220

Wanting to continue that family tradition we now host a Methow style fondue and football New Year’s Day party. Opening our doors to friends and family we mix up batches of creamy fondue, and have the games on the tube.

Image 7ffondue & football 2013 WP Image 22 Image 5 fondue & football 2013 WP

Personalizing the party we’ve added options for those who think it barbaric to sit and holler at the little people on the screen or just can’t sit still. These folks can stand outside in the below freezing weather and warm their tushies by the outdoor fire and enjoy their brew of choice. Adults get beer, children hot chocolate, we even tried serving fondue outside with an electric pot but I think the jury is still out on that. If you are curious we found the metal pot allows the cheese to separate easier than the ceramic pots but then again it could have been the sub zero temps!

sledding fun

sledding fun

fondue to go

fondue to go

finding the hot spot

finding the hot spot

A party like this only works if everyone pitches in. We ask that our guests bring a hunk of Swiss cheese for melting and something to dip. Then everyone jumps in and helps during the party. Besides the football, sledding and skiing there are always other games to play, easy party ones such as find your boots and kids mittens, those who’ve attended before have learned to bring their most unique outerwear for easy finding.

Image 6 mud room fondue & football 2013 WP

Recipe for Fondue and Football [serves 2 or keep making it and it will serve 150 hungry folks].
A community of friends willing to bring bread, cheese and celebrate football and snow.

All that you need:

2 1/2 cups shredded cheese ( Swiss: Emmenthaler, Gruyere, Jarlsberg)
1 1/2 Tbs flour
1 clove garlic
1 cup dry white wine
salt, pepper and nutmeg
1Tbs Kierschwasser
day old baguette style bread cubed (for dipping)
veggies broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, etc (steamed for dipping)
fondue fuel for your pot, extra fondue forks

Action:

Dredge cheese with flour
rub garlic on the inside of the pot place over stove
add and heat wine until small bubbles form
reduce heat slightly and add cheese slowly in small amounts while stirring
warm the Kierschwasser and add it to the pot
if needed thin with warm wine
sprinkle salt and pepper nutmeg on top to taste

Extras:

Make ahead: I prepare for this party well in advance, stocking up on Swiss cheese when it’s on sale or buying it in bulk. I shred the cheese ahead of time and pop it in the freezer for later use.

What to do with left over cubed fondue bread? How about bite sized French toast? Or Croutons for soup and salad toppings?
Or if you find yourself with an over abundance of shredded cheese, it’s perfect for that quick quiche recipe to speed up a week night dinner.

En Guete!

34921_1516141470766_1451349916_1355781_1679178_n_21  Rachelle@ Caramelize Life

We

We

We at Caramelize Life wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled will all that matters most to you.

Cheers!

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community”

And the winner for the Food with the Highest antioxidant Content is…. (drum roll please)

~Join us for our two-part series on the food with the highest antioxidant tour

Part 1

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pure and simple, dark chocolate and cacao nibs top the charts in antioxidant levels ~ beating out acai berries, kale and broccoli on the Oxygen Radial Absorbance Capacity scale (more on this scale below). Shocked? I sure was when I recently learned this bit of information. Un-shockingly, my children were already rehearsing their “eat your broccoli” retorts.

Can it really be true? How did I stumble upon this fantastic news?

It all started when my daughter exclaimed, “chocolate grows on trees!”

Tour brochures lined up on our vacation condo’s counter top: chocolate, coffee, rice, taro etc. Eenie, Meeny, Miney, Moe…
Well, Miney and Moe are actually kids named Hannah and Eva and I guess that makes my husband Eenie and by default I’m the Meeny.

The meany who wants to add an educational aspect to our Hawaiian vacation. I’m sure you can see where this is going…

Steelgrass

Taro is island specific but no votes there; of the ag tours, rice (unfortunately), had no tours on our free days so the choice was between coffee and chocolate. I love both but would rather have the kids hyped up on vitamin B-12 goodness than buzzing on caffeine. Thankfully, they agreed.

After a little research, and a recommendation from some friends, we decided to check out the STEELGRASS family chocolate tour, which had an added bonus that included a voice over studio on site with the likes of Ben Stiller and Jack Black…read: now husband is on board too.

I spoke with Tony Lydgate, Steelgrass family owner, to confirm our Chocolate from Branch to Bar reservation and he said tours start at 9 am. I’m thinking; who doesn’t like chocolate for breakfast? The kids sure thought this was an excellent idea and that maybe the sun had gotten to my senses, but no one mentioned anything about that.

The evening prior to our tour, the children slept soundly with visions of Hawaiian chocolate dancing in their heads. Up bright and early like I’ve only seen on christmas morning they were ready to go devour their breakfast! It’s healthy right? Local, sustainable, organic, without additives; all the checks were there for our foodie family list, so why can’t we eat chocolate all the time? All you parents out there get ready because those answers we tell our kids that it is a treat are now debunked and I hear doctors are recommending a daily dose of dark chocolate.

Studies have found that eating dark chocolate daily can reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.  What? I guess the trick is on me for wanting an educational tour, now our tour guides Michelle and Annabelle have my kids full attention and I’m taking notes on this brilliant way to educate all ages.

So the tour begins, by sharing that chocolate is made from cacao and yes, cacao grows on trees. But before we learn more about cacao our guides direct us through their grove of meticulously labeled tropical fruit trees, educating our tour group through our senses about each fruit.

No crazy Wonka tour here, all children and adults munched freely on sustainably grown, Tahitian Lime and sugar cane (known as KO) a sweet and tangy lime aid in yo’ mouth combination. Longan or Dragon Eye fruits that would be perfect in a bowl on Halloween, crimson red Mountain Apple and Lilikoi (passion fruit) and more, all without incident.

Soursop (Custard Apple)

Dragon Eye

Dragon Eye

Lilikoi (Passionfruit)

Blissfully meandering through the tropical trees, learning about Egyptian paper making from papyrus trees and smelling the bark of a cinnamon tree ~ the mission of our tours guides emerges.

This fantastic way of bringing in unassuming students, thinking only of chocolate bars to impart knowledge about sustainable agriculture, is like tossing zucchini into chocolate cake without the kids knowing.

A Truffula tree right? Nope it’s Papyrus

Cacao is a tree, and in order for us chocolate lovers to fully enjoy the purest foodie dark chocolate scrumptious delights, we need to understand that our delectable bar only needs four ingredients: cacao, sugar, vanilla and an emulsifier like soy lecithin or cacao butter. But from Branch to Bar so much more goes on behind the scenes.

Cacao Trees

Cacao trees with colorful pods

It’s a meeting of the minds at the Lydgate Farm with PhD’s, Oxford alumnae, musicians, artists and others that form a team who have come together to develop a sustainable agriculture program to teach others the same.

By sharing the behind the scenes chocolate creation process, Steelgrass shows the many stages of the production, and in so doing, they also show the excellence that comes from being a steward for sustainable agriculture on the Hawaiian Islands.  We learned that it takes healthy pollinators not limited to bees for the fruit trees but it’s tiny gnats that are able to pollinate the petite cacao flowers.  They use companion planting as a natural pest control and rely on collaboration and cooperation between neighboring cacao farmers.  This is their  hypothetical insurance policy, if disaster hits in the form of bugs, weather or other, then the diversification of plants, their various locations and different cacao farms, help ensure sustainability.  This all falls under the umbrella of the Kauai Cacao Cooperative for creating a homegrown chocolate industry on the island.

It is incredible to think that all these aspects and hard work go into making that dark flavorful chocolate available and so good for us to enjoy.  Once you understand you can’t forget and now that price of the chocolate bar makes sense. But it is perfect because, unlike milk chocolate where I could keep on eating more and more, I find that a small amount of dark chocolate hits the spot and I am satisfied…better for the environment, better for me..it’s a win~win.


Honey on bamboo

Honey on bamboo sticks

Join us next week for part 2 of our chocolate tour adventure!

Aloha kakou,

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Fresh Fish & Zesty Salsa Warm up Winter Nights…

Perch Tacos with Salsa Verde


This taco recipe is a simple, full proof meal that can be easily modified to your liking.  Combining the sweet tang of tomatillos (even easier to grow than tomatoes) and the smokiness of jalapenos hits a perfect balance.  Paired with the light fresh texture of winter white fish, we see it pleases almost any palate.

“Son!” is the constant refrain heard from inside the Ice Shanty throughout the winter.  That’s short for “it’s on!”-a phrase we learned quickly when perch and trout fishing out on the ice with family and friends.  Once the state fish and wildlife department announces the ice is thick enough and safe, the shanty is skied out to live on Lake Paterson until the spring thaw.  (It is converted into “deer camp” in the fall.)

And through the winter, patiently braving the cold is rewarded with buckets of fresh, flaky perch, delicate trout and delectable Kokanee (lake dwelling sockeye salmon).

Since the fish and water are so cold in the dead of winter, there is never a trace of “fishy” flavor in these perch.  They may be smallish, even tiny, but are so fresh and prolific that it is completely worth the effort.  Being small fish, they are perfect for tacos, chowders or an easy fish and chips.

Ice fishing is fun and productive.  It is a wonderful first fishing experience for children because they can easily bait their own hook, catch their fish and keep going at it, all by themselves.

The first time that Phoenix  age 6, went ice fishing, he was so ecstatic that he plunged his hands into the icy water, refusing gloves, bringing up one fish after another off his line.  (That’s not to suggest you catch the perch with your hands, he was just very enthused.)

Paired with the Salsa Verde below this recipe is packed with flavor.

1 lb Perch or other white fish such as halibut or snapper
t 1.c bread crumbs
1 large organic egg or 2 small
1 c. Jalapeño Salsa Verde
1-3 T. Olive oil
8 tortillas
1 c. shredded purple cabbage
½ c. Mexican crema or creme fraiche
½  c. additional Jalapeño Salsa Verde or Tomato Salsa
1 c. chopped fresh cilantro
½ c. green onions
Lime wedges for serving

The fish works well breaded and fried, or quickly broiled.  For frying, mix your eggs, briefly soak the fish fillets, then bread.  In a heavy sauté pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Arrange the fish on the pan and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn over and cook until the fish is opaque throughout, about 1-2 more minutes more. Timing depends on the thickness of your fish.  Rather than time it exactly, take your cue from the fish.
To assemble each taco, place 1/8 of the fish in the center of the tortilla and top with 2 T. cabbage, 1-2 T. crema, 1-2 T. salsa, then garnish with 1 T. cilantro and 1 T. green onions.  Wrap and bake briefly or sauté in a heavy skillet.  Serve the tacos with lime wedges, sour cream or topping of choice.

Jalapeño—Tomatillo Salsa

2 Pint Yield

This salsa recipe is one of our favorites.  It combines the exotic sweetness of tomatillos with the smoky zest of jalapeños.  Without being big and chunky in texture, it is much thicker than similar tomato salsas.  Go liberal on garlic and cilantro to taste, as the salsa benefits from each.  And feel free to change up the ratios to your liking–with this recipe it is fun to get creative.

We’ve been whittling down this salsa for years and one thing is for sure: amount does not equate to quality.  Even the smallest batch of this salsa goes a long way, both because of its flavor and thickness.  It’s definitely spiced up our winter nights:)  Enjoy!

5 1/2 c. husked and chopped Tomatillos
1 c. chopped Jalapenos, fresh or roasted
1 c. chopped onion
6 cloves minced garlic
1/2 t. salt
2-3 T. freshly ground cumin
1/2 c. cider vinegar

up to 1/2 c. other pepper variety to taste such as green chills or cayennes (optional)

1/4 c. lime juice

1/2 c. cilantro

Chop tomatillos, peppers, onion and garlic separately by hand or food processor.  Combine all ingredients except cilantro and lime juice in a sauce pan over medium high heat.  Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least 5 minutes.  Add lime juice and cilantro for last 2 minutes of cooking.  Ladle hot salsa into jars.  Can in water bath or pressure cooker, or enjoy fresh.

recipe Serves 4

Note: We usually make a double or triple batch of this salsa.  It is just as good preserved by canning or freezing. 

%d bloggers like this: