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Posts tagged ‘Recipes’

Lemon Madeleines | BCM | Tuesdays with Dorie

My youngest walked into the kitchen while I was prepping my work station for the latests Tuesdays with Dorie scheduled treat from her book Baking Chez Moi. Curious, she wanted to know what I was  going to make. “Madeleines!” I said with excitement.  I’ve never made these tasty little treats and I was looking forward to trying something new. I could see she was searching for the image to fit the name in her mind. Then she said, “You know Mom, the name Madeleine is so similar to the name of the character Madeline, the lute Mandolin and the slicer Mandoline I didn’t know at first what it was you were making.”  Now, each time I think of these little shell shaped cakes, my mind scrolls through each of those images and I giggle.

 

A petite Madeline mold buttered and ready for batter

A buttered petite Madeleine mold awaiting the batter…

Later, when she sat down to taste one of the Madeleines, she said she remembered eating these after school for goûter when we lived in France. I am amazed at how our senses bring back memories so vividly. “The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it.” ~ Remembrance of Things Past (À la recherche du temps perdu), Marcel Proust

My youngest was on to something. Indeed those little Madeleines did have a lineage. Historically these little cakes were believed to be named after a young maid, Madeleine, who worked for the Duke of Lorraine, Stanislas Leczinski in the late 1700s from the French town of Commercy. Once these petite cakes were introduced to the court at Versailles they found their place in the heart of the French.

Mother and daughter strolling the Green Carpet- Versailles

The Green Carpet- Versailles

With my first batch of Madeleines, I didn’t notice the “bump” that Dorie described in her recipe but I specifically looked for it on my second batch. The “bump” is the gold seal symbol or as she equates it to the holy grail, that one has decidedly mastered the Madeleine and there it was, a large bump on my petite Madeleines. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered them but I do thank Dorie for spilling her learned secret with me and the rest of the BCM bakers.  Her long history of making these and then learning the holy grail secrets from Phillippe Conticini of Patisserie des Reves and Fabrice Le Bourdat of Bel Sucre in Paris makes all of us feel great from the start!

Madeleine's with a "bosse/ bump"

Madeleine’s with a “bosse/ bump”

If you would like to try your hand at making Madeleines at home so you may enjoy a little afternoon goûter, here is the recipe. Alternately, she has shared her Lemon Madeleine recipe here.

Tuesdays with Dorie and Baking Chez Moi is an open group of bloggers having fun baking their way through Dorie Greenspan’s books. Go check out what the other Doristas are doing!

 

Crocus the First Flowers of Spring

Spring is here!

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

 

Sesame Flax Crackers|Vegan Secret Supper

 

These are as quick to make as they are to snap, break and eat. Wafer thin, these crackers are packed full of health benefits that come from the fact that the flaxseed is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, that’s a double win in my book.

Organic Flax Seeds

Flax is a healthy source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids

This recipe is just six ingredients(sesame seeds & oil, ground flax, water, tamari and salt) mixed together, left for three hours (or overnight) and then dehydrated for about 15 hours. It is so simple and easy I can’t, not make these. If you looking for healthy snacking options these tasty crackers are a must.

Ground flax seeds, sesame seeds, water, tamari, salt and sesame oil on caramelizelife.com

Ground flax seeds, sesame seeds, water, tamari, salt and sesame oil

Ground Flax Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Water, Tamari Salt and Sesame oil Marinating.

Sesame flax crackers in the making…

I wanted to know a little bit more about why flaxseeds are considered healthy so I did my favorite thing and dug deeper and researched some of their qualities.

1. Flaxseeds improve digestive health (that’s the fiber talking).
2. Flax aids to relieve constipation.
3. They “may help to lower total blood cholesterol which may help reduce the risk of heart disease” [mayoclinic.org]
4. Flaxseeds are high in most of the B vitamins, magnesium and manganese
5. Flaxseeds are considered low in carbohydrates which makes it ideal for people who want to limit their intake of starches and sugars.

In further research, I learned that flaxseeds are so minuscule they will just pass on through,so they need to be ground or crushed in order for our bodies to absorb their nutrients.

healthy sesame flax seed crackers rolled out on non-stick dehydrator mat

Rolled out and ready for the dehydrator…

In Merida Anderson’s Vegan Secret Supper cookbook she gets it right.  She calls for ground brown flaxseeds in her sesame flax cracker recipe, it’s no wonder she is internationally celebrated for her thoughtful, healthy and well balanced recipes. I am looking forward to trying out more of her creative and “out of the box” ideas written up and shared in her latest recipe book.

plated healthy snacks made by caramelizelife.com

Ready to be dipped and eaten.

Now, I need to find some dipping recipes to go with my new favorite snack, somehow I don’t think that will be too difficult ;0)

 

Happy snacking!

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

 

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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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”

Potato Leek Soup

Today I sat down to write but found myself procrastinating by looking through my iPhoto library reminiscing about an Ireland trip we took a few years back. This trip ranks high in my all time favorites. We shared it with family and good friends, where we traveled through rolling fields following rainbows start to end, finding our Irish luck in the form of sunshine mid March.

That year my husband turned forty ceremoniously on St. Patrick‘s Day. We learned about falconry, bog ponies, and I found one of my favorite cookbooks The Forgotten Skills of Cooking. We enjoyed our share of Guinness and sampled potato leek soup along the way.

My littlest, is a connoisseur of potato leek soup, she has a discerning palate for the tastiest homegrown potato. She is also privy to the whole process, kudos to Tess Hoke, founder of Local 98856 and the Methow Valley Community School Locavores lunch program where she learned the garden to table journey.

Years later and I am still trying to perfect that tasty soup and win her nod. Until tonight, when I received that approvingly tilt of her towhead and a unanimous two thumbs up from the rest of my family. Nothing feels so good as a warmed bowl of soup steaming with flavor, a local brewed beer in a handcrafted glass to finish off the evening.

Close Up Potato Leek Soup 2/1/13 WP

Potato Leek Soup (serves 6 but I usually double it for left overs and lunch boxes)
[inspired and introduced to me from “around my french table”  and Stew Dietz Event Planning and Catering]

What you will need:

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 large organic onions chopped
2 organic garlic cloves, germ removed and crushed
Salt, freshly ground white pepper
3 organic leeks white parts only spit lengthwise and chopped thinly
2 large organic russet potatoes peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon dried thyme or a few fresh sprigs
1 teaspoon dried sage or a couple fresh leaves
4 cups homemade vegetable stock (we have a mixture of folks around our table so I play it safe and go veggie most of the time but any stock or water will work).
1 cup whole milk
2 cups half and half (you can omit this and use water, or any combination of dairy just remember it will be lighter).
4-5 croutons per serving

What to do with your scrumptious ingredients:

melt the butter adding onion until coated then add in garlic, salt and pepper, cover and cook until onions are soft 6 minutes or so (making sure not to burn them)
Add leeks, potatoes, thyme, sage, stock and dairy
bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until potatoes and leeks are soft

Serve in warmed bowls topped with croutons

Options:

let soup cool and puree into a thick and creamy soup, then warm and serve
top with cheese or add some colorful chives
serve cold and top with pear or apple

Funny little fact:
In the nineteenth century potatoes were accused of leading housewives astray due to the fact that potatoes required so little time and effort to prepare that it left female hands idle and primed to do the Devil’s work. [good thing I’m too busy for any of that! ;-)]
~Rebecca Rupp

Bain sult as do bhéile! (enjoy your meal)

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @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”

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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