Wednesday, December 30, 2009

do you need some quick, easy and delicious appetizer recipes? is the day before new year's eve....are you ready for your party? if not, don't worry...there is still time to plan a wonderful gathering...with terrific tasting food...that is easy and delicious.

last week i sent an email blast to our preferred customer list and announced that we were back in stock in many of our jam & marmalade offerings... i have been "jamming" in the commercial kitchen for a good part of the month... to celebrate, i offered "free jam" with orders and promised to blog about how to use in appetizer are some easy-breezy suggestions for tomorrow night (or anytime)...and, options for using if you don't have our products...

* crostini topped with fig & grand marnier jam and a bit of gorgonzola cheese

* lime & jalapeño marmalade spread over cream cheese and served with crackers
of course you can substitute your favorite chutney for the marmalade
* mini biscuits split open and filled with persimmon & jalapeño jam and sliced ham
i use our recipe for extra virgin olive oil biscuits (make mini size) and bake a small ham so we can have the leftovers the next day...but even the best quality biscuit dough you can find & bake off just before serving and buy excellent quality sliced ham...a good hot pepper jelly works here if you do not have our persimmon & jalapeño jam

* persimmon jam glaze on baked chicken wings/drumettes
i use our recipe for persimmon jam baked chicken...just reduce the cooking time for wings or drummettes...and i serve in either a chafing dish or crock pot to keep warm....if you don't have the persimmon jam..apricot or peach works really well in this recipe...

* lime marmalade as part of a cheese platter
you can use any kind of tart jam or marmalade here...i don't like overly sweet condiments with fruit and cheese...but use what you like...

that's it...pick a few of the suggestions....add really good olives, bread and crackers....and, of course, your signature cocktail (we are having the last of our limoncello from 09...and starting a new batch next week), good wine and your favorite bubbly...and you are good to go with this fast, easy, stress free and delicious menu....

happy new year's everyone!


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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

a cilantro pasta recipe? for christmas?

i begin preparing winter recipes each year as soon as the weather turns cold ...i bake and roast and mash everything in sight. and...since we now celebrate canadian thanksgiving along with our traditional american t-day...i eat that meal two times each year. i decided i wanted something completely different for christmas dinner...and that led to cilantro pasta. now, i realize you must be thinking..."what on earth is she talking about?" let me explain...

sometimes i find myself creating an entire menu by taking apart a common recipe and using the ingredients in a different way...i bought avocados last week and made guacamole. the fresh ingredients are just so beautiful that i was inspired to use them for christmas...and i wanted a meal that was simple and is what i came up with:

christmas dinner 2009
roasted tomato soup with jalapeños
prime rib roast
cilantro pasta
grilled avocados with grey salt, red pepper flakes and lime drizzle
lime marmalade pie
polenta cookies
o.k...i realize prime rib is not actually part of the recipe for guacamole (i know i will get loads of emails on this)...but i figure you can put slices of left over roast on a tortilla with guacamole for soft tacos the day after i think we are good....

i am so excited about this menu...can't wait to prepare, serve and...of i will try to remember to photograph and post...but in the interim...if you are still looking for ideas for your own holiday meal...or any other time...may i suggest cilantro pasta?!

i had a version of this dish years ago at a restaurant in pasadena...the parkway grill. they prepared it by adding cilantro leaves, toasted pine nuts and e.v.o.o. to cooked pasta. simple, beautiful and delicious...of course that depends on your feelings about cilantro...i find that people either love it or hate it....i fall in the love, love, love it i have made this dish at home many times. i decided to tweak the recipe quite a bit (shocking, right?) give it a bit more i added a cilantro pesto to the above ingredients. very easy, very fast of all...uses every bit of the cilantro waste...

cilantro pasta
1 bunch organic cilantro
1 garlic clove
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pine nuts, toasted in dry skillet
grey salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
kosher salt
1/2 lb. pasta...i like a flat wide shaped pasta (like reginette or fettuccine) for this dish...but use whatever you like
squeeze of fresh lime or freshly grated parmesano reggiano cheese.

chop the stems off the cilantro and separate from the leaves. cut off the very bottom tips of the stems (part that looks dry and brown) and discard. place the cleaned stems in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. add half of the cilantro leaves and 1/4 cup of the pine nuts. pulse until finely chopped. divide the e.v.o.o in will only use 1/4 cup in the pesto. with the machine running, slowly pour in 1/4 cup of the olive oil. stop machine, scrape down sides and then continue pulsing until pesto is smooth but with a bit of texture. season to taste with grey salt. set aside.

meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. add a generous handful of sea salt to pot and when water comes back to a vigorous boil add pasta and cook according to package directions.

add remaining 1/4 cup e.v.o.o. to a large skillet and warm oil. add remaining pine nuts to oil. drain pasta well and add to skillet. add remaining cilantro leaves, cilantro pesto, black & red pepper and stir to combine. taste and add additional seasonings if necessary. serve immediately.

*notes...with the christmas dinner i would not serve this with grated cheese...the squeeze of lime pulls the whole meal together. if serving the pasta on its own, the parmesano reggiano cheese is summer i add fresh organic heirloom cherry tomatoes for a light supper...really, really good...

*regarding the prime rib roast...for this meal i prepare using our organic rub and serve without any added "au jus" or other sauce...

merry, merry christmas everyone! whatcha cooking?


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Monday, December 14, 2009

would you like a recipe for lime marmalade pie?

our lime tree is now five years old...and, like our other trees, is producing a prodigious amount of beautifully scented, amazing tasting fruit. there is something fitting about limes, mandarin oranges and my beloved meyer lemon trees coming into season in the middle of december...and fruiting until almost march. when it is cold, grey and rainy...the smell and taste really help brighten the mood.

but...back to the amount of limes...can i just say tons? more than i can use and give away? so...the past few weeks have been spent experimenting with different and unusual ways to preserve the bounty. we always freeze a lot of lime juice to use throughout the year...and my recipe for lime margaritas sweetened with agave has become a oft requested favorite.(right mary and terry?) i have made meyer lemon marmalade for years...started selling it last winter and sold out by mid-summer...decided to try lime marmalade this year...what a hit! the marmalade is delicious and so i then experimented with lime & jalapeño! instant best seller on the website and at many people asked for ideas as to how to use that i started creating recipes to send with each purchase.
i love the tart taste of the lime marmalade and thought it would be amazing in desserts. i found a million recipes for key lime pie...and they looked really good but quite i decided to riff on that idea with a lime marmalade pie for something a bit different. i made one for peter topped with macadamia nuts...he ate the whole pie in a couple of sittings. a few days later we invited some friends over for a tree trimming party...i made another pie...and this time i added rum-soaked cranberries to the top of the meringue for color, taste...and just because the red was so "christmasy". caitlin said, "i don't usually like key lime pies, but this is delicious!" the real test was richard who told me key lime pie was his favorite dessert... oh no! this not a typical key lime pie...much more tart, so i was a bit worried...but he ate every bite, said he loved it AND took 2 pieces home....i consider that a success.
oh...about the pie photo...this is the first pie i made...of course i forgot to shoot the cranberry topped one...i am so really was beautiful :)

so give the pie a chance...try our lime marmalade or use your favorite brand. if you cannot find it in your area, you can try substituting 1/2 cup key lime or regular lime juice with 1 tbsp lime zest...but really...if you can...use marmalade...makes all the difference...

lime marmalade pie1 1/4 c organic graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp organic sugar
7 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
4 large eggs, divided
1 can (14 oz) organic sweetened condensed milk
1 jar (7 oz) lime marmalade
meringue ingredients
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
1/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup fresh cranberries mixed with 2 tbsp sugar and soaked in 1/3 cup spiced rum-optional

preheat oven to 375 degrees. in a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar. pour in 6 tbsp of the melted butter and mix together (i use a fork for this) until the butter in incorporated. test the mixture by pinching a bit between your thumb and forefinger. it should hold together...if not, add the remaining 1 tbsp butter and mix. pat the mixture into a buttered 9 inch pie plate ensuring the bottom and sides are covered. refrigerate for 30 minutes.

meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg yolks and beat for 4 minutes using the wire whisk attachment. add the condensed milk and the lime marmalade and beat until the mixture is airy and thick...about 5 minutes. pour into graham cracker crust and bake until the filling is set (check after 15 minutes). remove from oven and set on wire rack.
make meringue by pouring the 4 egg whites, vanilla extract and cream of tarter into a very clean stainless steel bowl of a standing mixer. use the whisk attachment and beat until soft peaks form...add the sugar and beat again until stiff peaks form. spread the meringue on top of the pie while the pie is still warm and allow to cool. (note...i do not bake my meringue because i love the pure white look...but i always use organic eggs since they are not cooked in the meringue recipe. if you want, you can bake the pie for another 10 minutes once the meringue has been added...some people love the caramel do whatever works for you.)

just before serving, toast the macadamia nuts in a dry skillet...stirring contantly...until just beginning to brown. sprinkle the nuts and the cranberries (if using) over the meringue and serve.

how is all of your holiday cooking and baking coming along? please tell me what you are making in the comments section of this post...

happy holidays!


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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

o.k...the holiday baking has fig jam thumbprint cookies, anyone?

i have spent most of my adult life traveling for business...whether driving, flying, or taking trains...corporate life required being away from home much of the time. i confess, in my "new" life i have gone in completely the opposite direction. you need a crowbar to get me to leave napa. we just returned home from a long weekend in southern california for the thanksgiving day holiday. this year, my cousin maria planned a family reunion celebration for the big day...and by reunion i mean the whole parents, sisters, husbands, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins name it...a huge crowd. i loved every is that "crow bar" i was referring to.

but now that i am home i really have no desire to go anywhere else for a while. so...i must confess...i reacted with dread when my friend sondra invited me to a "holiday cookie exchange" party in san francisco this month. (sorry sondra)...i love her...and have not seen many of my sf friends for a long time...but...that drive!! traffic!!! i almost declined the invitation. then i had a long talk with myself and decided to get a grip...i mean, c'mon...san francisco is an hour drive from napa...not exactly the same as packing for europe...traffic? i grew up in los angeles an old hand at traffic. and i reminded myself of the important things in and friends being at the top of the list...and what would the holiday season be without a ton of baking?

so...cookie i come.... anyone interested in thumbprint cookies with fig and grand marnier jam? maybe the peanut butter and jelly cookies i told you about last month?...and then there are lavender cookies to consider...and what about chocolate with balsamic......?

i created these cookies to go with our fig & grand marnier can substitute regular fig jam and add orange zest....or use a citrus marmalade...whatever you like...
thumbprint cookies with fig-grand marnier jam
1 cup butter (2 sticks) room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp orange zest finely grated and minced
fig and grand marnier jam or 1 cup fig jam mixed with 2 tsp finely grated orange zest

preheat oven to 350 degrees. prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with either silpat or parchment paper. in the bowl of a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until well mixed and fluffy. add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until completely incorporated. in a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt and then add to the mixer ingredients. mix until dry ingredients are combined with the wet not over mix. stir in the orange zest.

roll the dough into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place on prepared cookie sheet. use your thumb to make a small hole in the center of each about 1/2 way down the dough ball. bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. remove from oven and fill each "thumbprint" 1/2 full with the jam. return to oven and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until cookies are just beginning to turn golden. remove from oven and fill the rest of the thumbprint "hole" with the remaining jam. place on racks to cool before serving.

happy holiday baking everyone...whatcha making?


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885 (tm)
"live a green life of style"(tm)

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