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Posts tagged ‘Food’

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

Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean~ Weekend Cake| TWD

 

I would like to share a slice of Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake with you but there’s none to be had, it was that good. I am not sure how this can be called a weekend cake, I might aptly rename it the 12 hour, if we are lucky, cake. Because that’s how long it lasted in our home before it disappeared.

Buttered black nonstick loaf pan ready for cake mix
Buttered loaf pan awaiting a dusting of flour

The texture of this Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake reminded me of my grandmother’s pound cakes I devoured as a child. The stand out difference  between the two is Dorie’s addition of vanilla beans, pure vanilla extract and dark rum. These ingredients are an intoxicating combination that had my family sneaking in for just one more paper-thin slice.

Loaf Weekend Cake on Cutting Board

One hour into the life of the Brown Butter & Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

We found this cake to be the perfect après ski Sunday afternoon goûter/ snack and fitting, because it reminded me of family to be served on my Grandmother Ruth’s china with tea if you are me and bourbon if you are my husband.

Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Cake Served Up on Maple Leaf China

Sweet Memories Through The Senses

Just today, Tuesday, my daughter asked if I would make this lovely cake again, she suggested, tomorrow. I tried to tell her about how Dorie named it a weekend cake after the French gâteaux de voyage (travel cake) and that it was far from the weekend so she would have to wait the four (well, three now) long days until the weekend and I would mix up another. I won’t mind when I do because the aroma of vanilla fills the house making it feel even more like home.
The butter (beurre noisette) is caramelized to bring out it’s nutty flavors, and I used my homemade pure vanilla extract letting it work its magic as a flavor potentiator. Complete the experience with coffee, tea or rum as recommended by Dorie as an accompaniment. I might make two next time so we can share it with friends on the ski hill and have a picnic.

 

Tuesdays with Dorie Greenspan and Baking Chez Moi is an open group dedicated to baking through Dorie’s latest books. If you would like to learn more about how this recipe turned out for the group you can find them here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Happy Baking!

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

 

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

 

6 Quick Steps To Make Your Own Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract

 

Did you know you can make your own pure vanilla extract at home with just a few ingredients? It’s not a mystery any longer and it’s a lovely gift to give to your favorite baker. As with any homemade product, there are several benefits to making your own. For one, you get to choose the quality of ingredients and know exactly what is in your vanilla extract. This means, you will have the highest quality vanilla extract available without anything artificial.

A few years back we decided as a family to give handcrafted gifts for the holidays instead of purchasing them. I was in search of what I could make that would be both fun and practical. That’s when I learned that I could make my own pure vanilla extract. Why had I not thought of this before?  Considering that nearly everything that is mass produced now were once made at home, it’s not that crazy of a thought that I could produce a gift that my family and friends would enjoy.

 

Vanilla bean pods

So what is pure vanilla extract? It is simply the extract (flavor and aroma) from the vanilla beans that have been immersed in alcohol (usually vodka because of it’s neutral flavor, but sometimes brandy or rum) over a period of time. The FDA requires;

“In vanilla extract the content of ethyl alcohol is not less than 35 percent by volume and the content of vanilla constituent, as defined in 169.3(c), is not less than one unit per gallon.”

So that means the vanilla extract you’ll find in the store, is 70 proof (35% alcohol) and it contains 13.35 oz of bean per gallon of alcohol which would produce a single strength vanilla extract. After more research I found that some bakers prefer a double strength vanilla extract and others do not. I am guessing it is a matter of preference.  I lean toward loving the scent of vanilla and enjoy baking with it so my recipe may have a wee bit more vanilla than others but since I’m making my own and not planning to sell it I can follow whatever guideline works for our baking needs and that is a nice pure vanilla extract that flavors our baked goods without overpowering them.

The vanilla bean grows from a kind of tropical orchid. The fruit starts out as a hard green pod and the greenish white flowers (missing in this photo) and in a natural setting are dependent on bees to pollinate them, but now in modern times they can be artificially pollinated.  These vanilla beans are picked unripe and then submerged in hot water to remove their protective cover and allow for the natural liquids to seep out. They are then allowed to dry in the sunlight and ferment. When they have turned brown and covered with a layer of vanillin crystals the vanilla beans are ready.

 

Kauai'i - Green vanilla pods on the vine -Steel Grass Chocolate tour

Unripe vanilla bean pods on the vine in Kauai

 

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Thank you to all the wonderful Mothers in the world who make life sweeter for everyone.

Lilac Sugar

To keep the sweet aroma of lilacs after their bloom is done, and around our house that happens quickly, gather some lilac flowers now and layer them in a jar with sugar alternating sugar and flowers. Set the Lilac Sugar in a cool dark place for 2-3 weeks and then you will have a lovely scented sugar to use in tea, baking or sauces! I think using the sugar to make cupcakes with candied lilac flowers would be superb!

Whistler me 2010  Rachelle Weymuller @ Caramelize Life
Making Life Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community

Staycation-Mango Spring Rolls

RKW Spring roll wrap Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are happily in the process of switching our mindset and culinary menus from the thick layers of Winter warm to Spring layers and lighter, fresher fare. It’s at this time when I eagerly await the first bulbs to emerge from their sleep and buds to pop from the trees.

Afternoon walks linger when the warmth of the sun’s rays replace my winter down coat. Our living room view becomes its own Planet Earth series time-lapse moving from once black and white to muted grays and browns and now the Technicolor slowly pours on with vibrant shades of green and yellows.

The song birds are back and I half expect Julie Andrews to burst out from the greening fields with the “Hills Are Alive”. But I don’t think this crosses everyone’s mind like it does mine; all those car rides with my 5-year-old requesting to hear the sound track over and over again, could be the reason for my Spring memory replay.

But Spring is a time to hit the refresh button. Spring cleaning, depending on who you are, can invoke a number of ideas. First the house comes to mind but next my cravings begin to change from rich hearty foods to those that are lighter and fresher. Not much is growing for us yet, and I am aware that mangoes are not “in season” (are they ever here in the Pacific Northwest?) But I know many who traveled south…way south, for Spring break. So, for those of us who didn’t hit the Southern Hemisphere, but rather, enjoyed our staycation; here are mangoes for you!

Staycation- Mango Spring Rolls- makes 6 -10
This recipe was inspired from The Solitary Cook‘s recipe found at Food 52 made with a good friend one afternoon.

RachelleKWeymuller/Caramelizelife.com Mango Spring Rolls

Ingredients For Shrimp Steam Bath:
(this might be the spa part of your staycation, lean over to indulge in a steamy facial 😉

3 cups/24 ounces of water (enough to cover mango skins, limes and shrimp)
2 mango peels – washed (use the fruit for sauce and spring rolls 1 each)
1/2 sweet onion- quartered
1 lime- sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon sea salt
black pepper to taste
2 dried japonés chiles – chopped (add more if you like more spice, my kids don’t)
8 ounces shrimp uncooked, washed and deveined ( go for wild caught spot prawns, rock shrimp or US farmed shrimp if possible)

*Have ready a bowl of ice water  to immerse the shrimp and keep them from overcooking
For The Shrimp Steam Bath:
In a stainless steel pot add all ingredients but the shrimp and bring to a boil.
Once water is boiling add the shrimp and reduce heat to medium.
Cook until shrimp are pink about 3-7 minutes.
Drain cooked shrimp and immediately place in bowl of ice water to keep them from overcooking.

Shrimp Steam Bath

Shrimp Steam Bath

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

Ingredients For The Mango Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce (we were out so we used Bragg’s Amino Acids and it worked well)
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sesame oil
2 limes (zest from 1 lime and juice from 2 limes)
1 mango fruit – (from the steam bath) pit removed

For The Mango Sauce:

Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth
Place in serving a dish and set aside until ready to eat

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

RKW Spring Rolls

Ingredients For The Spring Rolls:

8 oz Vermicelli Noodles (Beans Thread)
**************************************
1 mango-(from the steam bath) pit removed, small cubes
1 bunch cilantro (20 stems and leaves) – chopped
1/2 a cucumber – peeled, seeds removed, chopped
1/2 cup  green onions – diced
All the cooked, now cooled shrimp – tail removed and chopped
Juice of 2 limes
*************************************

8-10 rice paper wraps (spring rolls skin)
9 inch cake pan (for softening rice paper wraps)
1/4 inch hot water (for cake pan and rice paper wraps)

RKW_0097 noodles for spring roll

Cooked Vermicelli Noodles

 

For The Spring Rolls:

Soak Vermicelli 3 to 5 minutes in hot water then drain and set aside.
Combine; mango,cilantro,cucumber, green onions, shrimp and lime juice to a bowl and toss.

Prepare rice paper wraps:
Add hot water to 9 inch cake pan
place 1 rice paper wrap at a time, submerged in hot water, for 10 seconds to soften.
*Keep hot water handy to add when water in cake pan cools.

CL-mango-spring-roll RKW_0082
Build your Spring Roll!
Place softened rice paper wrap on your work surface
Put a small amount 20 or so Vermicelli noodles down the middle of the roll/wrap
Place 2-3 Tablespoons of filling(mango, cucumber, green onion etc) down the middle leaving room on the sides to fold
Begin to wrap the spring roll (similar as you might a burrito) starting with the side closed to you, then fold each end and finish by rolling the last over the opposite side ( the only one left) and seal.
Set on a serving platter with the seam side down, I like to use a chilled metal one (Yay, a wedding gift I am happy to use).
Repeat.
I have found that if there are left over Vermicelli noodles the kids love it plain or topped with a little extra mango sauce is a great left over snack.

Mango Spring Rolls

Mango Spring Rolls

Enjoy!

Head Shot Rachelle
Rachelle Weymuller @ 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”

It’s A Comfort-Food-Farro Kind Of Day

Spring is here, no wait… it’s not, oh here it comes… Nope. Now it’s snowing. Don’t get me wrong:

I LOVE SNOW.

But I can see grass now. It’s over, I can’t go back, I’ve gone and done it. The potting shed is clean and the seeds are calling my name.

RKW_4449 Seeds
Ok, so it’s mud season; the fifth season (right after Winter; just before Spring)  Mud season is when we are thankful for all wheel drive and a high clearance vehicle, when I get to be a little crazy at the wheel, just to get up the mile long road we call a “driveway.” Mud season is when the dogs’ paws are caked with the newly emerged earth and their fur becomes the transporter for all that was outside to now reside inside. My neighbor tells me “You’re out numbered” (kids, dogs, cats, bird, bunny, chickens… oh and our exchange student’s fish-Fishy (guess who’s fish it will be in July?)) she advises to “Just let go.”

I think it will be my new mantra.

RKWeymuller Mud Season

This morning I practiced that mantra and put on slippers (dirt goes unnoticed better that way) and made emmer pancakes; a little comfort food for a cold damp day. I was surprised by the fact that breakfast, from egg-crackin’ to clean-up, took little more than 20 minutes. The aroma wafting from the griddle pulled my little sleepy heads out from under their covers and had them at the kitchen bar in no time. I had that Proud Mama moment of knowing that I’m providing a healthy, beginning of the day meal (that they will actually eat) for my active kids. Hopefully they’ll be satisfied until lunch.

Oh! Lunch! I plan the day from one meal to the next. Last night I tried something new; the farro boldly went where only basmati rice had been before…the rice maker. Yup, hoping it would transform our long stove top cooking times to that of a care free slow cooker experience. I am happy to report:  <<genius!>>  It worked! And today I have fresh farro for lunch, via my rice maker.  (Enter celebratory music and little happy dance that you really don’t want in your head).

RKW_4493 Farro, Goat Cheese, Kate and tomat salad

Spinach and Blue Bird Grain Farro Salad:
serves 2 for lunch

1 cup farro
3 cups washed baby organic spinach
A handful of sweet cheery tomatoes halved
1/4 cup goat cheese(Sunny Pine Farm)
dash of lemon pepper
pinch of salt

Stove top method:  Add the Farro to a medium pot with 3 cups or so of water and 1/4 tsp salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down heat to simmer for 45-50 minutes.When farro grains are plump, soft and still chewy remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
Or
Rice Maker method: I use a 1 cup grain to 1 cup liquid and set it to gaba (longer time but great for more nutrients) brown rice mode. But follow your rice makers directions for brown rice.

~Saute baby spinach with a little water and a dash of lemon pepper and a pinch of salt, until it wilts then remove from heat
~fill warmed bowl with farro
~crumble goat cheese onto the farro
~top with wilted baby spinach and halved tomatoes

Enjoy!

Head Shot Rachelle  Rachelle Weymuller @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”

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”

Caramelize Life Cooking Class @ Sun Mountain Lodge

It was a perfect time of year and a wonderful opportunity to work with a fantastic group of women in a garden to table cooking class.

Caramelize Life was kindly invited by Methow Arts Alliance and  Sun Mountain Lodge  to bring local produce and share simple recipes that could be made quickly at home with a lovely group of women visiting the Methow Valley.

It happened to be perfect timing for the class as the garden was in full production and ingredients were as fresh as could be.  On stage were succulent Heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs, a selection of creamy chèvre from Sunny Pine Farm and locally sourced salmon

We all had a splendid time whipping up seasonal fair and an even better time sampling from our work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ~cheers Rachelle@caramelizelife

And the Winner for the Food with the Highest antioxidant content is…(drum roll please) Part Two

If you are just joining us check out part one of our chocolate tour.

part two…

We hit the prime time to view the cacao tree, because in early to mid June, the tree is in bloom with flowers, new leaves are emerging from the top, and the cacao pods are ripening.  Michelle cut open a cacao pod so we could see the white fibrous center and the seeds nested within.

Did you know that Hawaii is the only state in the USA where chocolate trees grow?

Next on our three hour tour we are happily seated under the big top, the Steelgrass’s newest addition. Here is where we trust Michelle and taste little bits of chocolate from numbered ramekins.

This blind test allows us to banish any preconceived ideas we bring and let our taste buds tell us  what we really like, rather than great marketing. This method draws out each of our inner wine enthusiast and we write down adjectives like smoky, pungent, fruity with a gritty mouth taste with an earthy flavor. These words are the ‘terre’ (french for place) that describe the chocolate and the flavors that swim in our mouths bumping into our sweet and salty taste buds.  The flavors pop in our mouths and our taste buds jobs are made easy purely responsible for sending messages to our vacation brain, so we may conjure up visuals of the tropical landscapes the samples of chocolate originate from.

Cacao bean and chocolate covered nibs

Of course, if you didn’t have the patience for all this nonsense and preferred to just eat your chocolate pieces and doodle on paper with crayons (like I said; no rock was left unturned) then Annabelle had a small following in another tent just for you nonconformists.

Meanwhile in the big top we traveled back in time and followed Michelle through chocolate’s historical journey from start to present day. Then we were given the secret DIY knowledge of transforming these cacao nibs into rich, creamy, melt in your mouth chocolate complete with kitchen appliance recommendations for the aficionados in our group.

The last bit of information we absorbed was what brought us here in the beginning; we now know which chocolate our taste buds have decided is the best from around the world.

For me it was the 70% Kallari “Red Leaf.” Forastero/Nacional, grown in Ecuador. I was happy to hear that it is also a very socially responsible production with a great story, another bonus to all the good news I am learning about chocolate!

Armed with facts and research to support their debate I believe our family favorite smoothie will be made more often this summer. Below is our combination of Ed’s Juice and Java’s; Funky Monkey and Molly of Glover St. Market’s; Energy Boost.

Cacao Nib Smoothie

2 Peeled Bananas

1/4 cup Cacao nibs

3 cups Almond milk

1/2 cup Almond Butter

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

liquid chocolate to taste (optional for sweetness)

Blend together adding more liquid depending on desired thickness

Enjoy!

Have it cold: if you make too much or have left overs simply pour into a Popsicle mold and pop it in the freezer for a healthy summer treat.

Fact: Cacao has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any food. Antioxidant levels are measured by Oxygen Radial Absorbance Capacity. Per 100 grams, cacao nibs have 95,000 compared to; broccoli 890, spinach 1,540, acai berries 5,500 and dark chocolate 13,120.

*source Steelgrass.org handout.

Aloha kakou!

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

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