Holidays & Gatherings

Apple Buckwheat Crepe Cake with Cider Caramel Sauce

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“With an apple I will astonish Paris.”
~ Paul Cezanne ~

This cake is for the person who loves to cook and who enjoys the process of creating, and building something from scratch; layering flavors, textures, and aromas. This cake taught me patience. From the conception, to the making I learned all the way. I learned that fast and easy are not always worth it. I was reminded of the “virtuous” character of patience. We can use it when we desire the outcome we imagine. To enjoy making this cake, reserve time, and relax. There is something about craftsmanship in this recipe that I love, especially the gratification of assembling the components. The results of such efforts are worth every step.

Time, and patience are the main ingredients. Apples, buckwheat flour ,butter and apple cider are the witnesses to the madness. The smells are insane once you start to cook; peeling the green apples, that crisp sweetness from breaking the skins, to the nutty and buttery aromas that fill the kitchen with a warm cloud when making the buckwheat crepes.

Imagine 26 soft silky layers of light, thin, buttery and nutty buckwheat crepes carefully layered with thinly sliced tart green apples sautéed with cinnamon and honey, mascarpone cinnamon cheese spread between layers. Add toasted pecans and a tipsy cider caramel sauce that sinuously hangs from the crispy feathery crêpe edges…This is the ultimate tribute to the apple and buckwheat love affair.

When you cut the first slice of this cake, your work shows, it makes you feel like a better person and all that patience and love invested in the creation it is absolutely worth it for a slice of this cake.

Fifty percent apples plus cheese and a bit of flour make it almost guiltless and mildly sweet, do not get the appearance trick you.

If you want to enjoy an apple cake this season, something memorable, and not so overly sweet, Apple Buckwheat Crepe Cake with Cider Caramel Sauce is the dessert you been waiting for.
Make time for this love affair and prepare to astonish.

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Apple-Buckwheat-Crepe-Cake_ingredients

Apple Buckwheat Crepe Cake with Cider Caramel Sauce

Serves 8-10

For the Crepes:

11/2 cups buckwheat flour
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons turbinado sugar or agave nectar.
¾ teaspoon fine salt
1 pinch of cinnamon

3 cups of milk
4 Large eggs
3 tablespoons of melted butter
2 tablespoons mild extra virgin olive oil

Plus about 3 more tablespoons of butter to cook the crepes.
1 – 8” non-stick pan
1 Ice cream scooper
1 baking sheet or cookie sheet tray

For the Apples:

7 medium size green tart Granny smith apples*
3 medium size Braeburn apples*
½ cup honey
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ cup apple cider

Note:  I’m combining two different types of apples, green tart wich are super crisp and hold their texture when sautéed, and the Braeburn wich are sweet and fragrant and wich also hold their texture when they are cooked. Once balance the others, I did not wanted to use a lot of sugar, since the cake will be drizzled with a cider caramel sauce. My advice is please, taste your apples: If they are to sweet or two tart you might need to add more sugar or honey is up to your preference and your sweet tooth.

For the Mascarpone filling:

2 cups mascarpone cheese
¼ cup honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon

For the Apple Cider Caramel Sauce:

2 cups apple cider
½ cup turbinado sugar
¼ cup honey
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup calvados.

1/2 cup roughly chopped toasted pecans.

Directions:

1. Start by preparing your Crepe batter. Combine all dry ingredients, Combine all wet ingredients and add them little by little to the dy ingredients whisking throughly until well combined and no lumps. Cover your batter with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic is touching the mixture, to avoid a skin to form. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You can make it the night before or in the morning and make the crepes at night. The batter will keep for about 48 hours.

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2. Mean time your crêpe batter is resting, prepare your apples. Peel them, core them as you peel and core them place the apples on a bowl with water and lemon juice to prevent the apples turning brown. Slice the apples about an 1/8 inch thin using a mandolin or the food processor. When using a mandolin, I always use a metal mesh glove, it is safe and comfortable when slicing, than the plastic apparatus that come with the mandolin set.

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3. Place them on a bowl and toss them with the honey, sugar, salt cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice lemon zest. On a large pot over medium high heat melt the butter and add the tossed apples. Mix the cold apple cider with the cornstarch to avoid lumps, and add to the apples. Saute the apples tossing gently for about 6-7 minutes until they are tender, but not mushy, they have a glistening light brown color the juices are reduced. Taste for sweetness, add more sugar if needed. Set aside, to allow to cool. Reserve some of the best looking round slices to decorate the top layer.

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3. Once your batter has rested, pull it out f the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature, whisk a little and start preparing to make the crepes. Pre-heat your 8” nonstick pan over medium heat. Add a little dab of butter until melted and remove excess with a folded paper towel. Poor about 1.5 to 2 ounces of batter into the center of the pan immediately swirl the pan all around to spread the batter on an evenly coat that covers all the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds until the edges start releasing when you pull them with the help of a spatula. At this point flip. And cook for another 10 to 15 seconds, transfer to the baking sheet, lay them out flat and allow them to cool. Continue with the same procedure, using the buttered paper towel in between crepes works great, you do not have to add butter every time to the pan, a small coat from the napkin will do it. Continue until your batter is gone.

Tips and Notes to the crêpe maker:
– I use an Ice cream scooper to portion the batter, this allow me to have equal thickness every time. a small ladle will work too.
-The first crêpe is not always the prettiest, usually is the test drive; it allows you to adjust the temperature in your pan and rectify the heat.
– If this is your first time making crepes please do not get discouraged, it gets better as you go. Once you get the groove on it is fun and the smell on your kitchen is heavenly!

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4. Once you finish making all the crepes, allow them to cool, and make your mascarpone filling. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whip them for 2-3 minutes with a hand blender until smooth and well combined.
5. Now that you have all the components start assembling, on a flat platter or a cake stand, place a dollop of the cheese and place your first crêpe, arrange a single even layer of the sautéed apples unfolding the slices if tangled, then add a crêpe, then a thin layer of mascarpone cheese, apples. Between, crêpe and crêpe, gently press to ensure you have even layers. Continue until you are done with the crepes and filling, ending with a crêpe. Cover the cake with some plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes so the layers can set.  Mean time make the caramel sauce.

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6. On a small heavy bottom pot, add the apple cider, sugar, honey and butter. Bring to a rapid simmer, you want o evaporate as much water on the sauce. This will take around 15-20 minutes until reduced by half. You will see the formation of big bubbles, and the consistency of the sauce is thicker it resembles more like a syrup.
At this point add the heavy cream whisking at all times, until all is incorporated. Add the Calvados and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the consistency of a caramel sauce. Remove sauce from heat. And transfer into a small poring jar. Allow to cool before drizzling on the cake.

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7. Pull the cake out of the refrigerator, place the reserved pretty slices of sautéed apples and decorate the top, once the caramel has cool down a little, pour some of the caramel sauce all over the cake drizzle all edges and sprinkle with the toasted pecans.
8. Make sure you reserve at least half of the sauce to drizzle some extra when the cake is served. Enjoy.

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Apple Buckwheat Crepe Cake

with Cider Caramel Sauce

Music Pairing: Erik Satie – The Essential Collection

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ONE Year of Blogging for you and with you!

 

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Its time to CELEBRATE. We are thrilled to have accomplished one year of blogging with you!
We truly cannot believe it’s been one year already. This year has been an intense with constant learning and exploring in every sense. I remember a year ago I was in urgent need of a career change. Ian and I would talk for long nights and days trying to decide what to do and how to start pursuing a career that let us develop our passions. We knew we wanted to do something together that involved our skills and our love for visual arts and food. Not a restaurant, nor a food truck was not on our minds. We like to produce things but we wanted the option to create a new recipe every day. We preferred not to become accountants and administrators. Something good had to come out out of our years of college and acquired skills. Between Ian’s Fine Arts bachelor plus his 14 year photography experience and my Bachelor in Architecture and a Culinary Arts two year certificate we felt we had good ingredients to start creating.

A Tale of Three Gabys…

So discarding the would-not’s, we started filling the “YES” gaps on our list. But we could not figure out our what these conclusions amounted to!?…
I have three friends named Gaby ( yes I know, way too many Gaby’s). They are close friends from my early years; each of whom I’m grateful to have in my life. When I talk to Ian about them I have to refer them by the city of which they live; Gaby-Barcelona, Gaby-Madrid, Gaby-Guadalajara. I keep in touch with them all through Facebook where I would often post photos of the dinners I made before I began blogging. I had great comments from my friends and they often asked for my recipes. On one occasion many of their comments synchronized. My dear friend Gaby-Barcelona, said “you should start a cooking blog” and I received the same comment twice more from each of the other two Gaby’s.
~ Could I pull off a cooking blog? Who would look at it? Isn’t my kitchen is too tiny? I hardly ever follow recipes!…You can imagine all the ‘not’s’ and knots in my head. One night I had a dream about it. The next day I woke up and knew what to do. I quit my unfulfilling job and the next day I planned the first recipe. Ian was on board and fully supportive of the idea and the project, although a bit ‘confuzzled’ as to how we would make it happen (~believe me no more confused and puzzled than me!~). In our relationship, Ian is always the more thoughtful and careful character… He likes to “analyze and investigate” which is great as long as you do not get stuck in the search. I’m the crazy one, impulsive and the “lets’ go and do it now” type of thinker which is also helpful but sometimes naïve. Nonetheless, despite these two extremes of character, we make a great team. We just decided to take the plunge into blog adventure.

Let’s get started!

After we decided on the name of our blog and cooking theme (and this process deserves it’s own post~ heheh), for more than two weeks I immersed myself into the tech-world of how to design and understand the “cosa nostra” of the WordPress world. This process is complicated for some one who has not been in contact with web technology for a long time. Eager and fully committed until my brain was about to explode… I kept going. I remember Ian leaving for work in the morning and he would come back home and we would celebrate the fact that I figured out how to change the color of the font on the titles!!!~Wha! Once that I recognized I was staring idly at the screen I knew I needed extra help. Tutorials were helpful but I did not speak “tech” and I had to look up two words out of three. Bottom line: I needed help. That’s when my dear friend Andrea came to my rescue. She was my angel of mercy. She taught me with great patience and care. I will always be in debt to her. ~Love you Andrea!~ Now I was getting the ball rolling! Then I started to work on the logo. I made at least 37 logos with various fonts, colors, and names. The first one I finished did not look at all at “our”current logo. Even now we are thinking of refreshing it… oh boy! But at the time the most important part for us was to just get started and keep going.

The 1st shooting…

Our first shooting day was a long one; we spent at least 5 continuous hours. We had to figure out light quality, photo angles, and the composition. The recipe was the easy part. I have tested the recipe before and we have had it many times for dinner or lunch. A simple and delicious Jalapeno honey cornbread and tomato salad. Since it was tomato season I could not have being happier for a tomato recipe to be our first post. The best reward after the shooting was the recipe for lunch, and that’s still true today. We shoot live. When I say “what you see is what we eat” it literally it is. In manny occasions we are so tired after the shooting that we just take the whole display board to the table and eat the “beauty shot” as we call the final image. That’s when I do my final recipe adjustments if needed. Ian is my best judge.

The first post…

So with bits and ends on a Thursday July 11th of 2013, I managed to assemble our first live published post. It was terrifying and liberating. It felt like sending a message to the universe, with no answer but once we saw it on the screen. We felt really good about it. With crickets chirping in the background and our friends and family, we began to get views and a great little response. Our first day we had 153 views!lol!.. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time right?

On the go!

So, we have kept going and shooting and creating recipes. We have had the worst fights of our life and the best happy feelings and joy at the same time. We have argued over a piece of radish, cutlery on the side of the plate, light placement, flavors, textures, colors, dishes, all in an effort to always give you the best recipes we can share with you.
The recipes represent who we are, what we ate, and what we are craving. I’ve learned tons about photography and Ian has learned lots about cooking. Its been the most intense year of our lives and one heck of a ride! And I’m sure we would not trade it for anything.

We can not put into words how rewarding it is to get to know new people and knowing they are enjoying the recipes. Our friends and family write comments that keep us going. Sharing who we are through our food and our visual journey is what we love to do. In total we have posted 84 times and around 82 recipes in 52 weeks. We have hundreds of viewers who visit every day in over 17 countries (shout out to Finland!). Food is a great universal language.

We aspire to inspire YOU to cook, to live up the experience and to enjoy the cooking process. Preparing a meal whether it is for one, or two, or two hundred will make your day a better day and when you share food with family and friends you are building up great memories for tomorrow. We believe homemade meals taste better when you put a little extra love to the cooking process.

To serve you cyber food its our great pleasure and we will continue sharing the love of food with you.

Thank you for being here with us all year long! Cheers for the next one to come!

Ian and Mariana

 

Our Headquarters !!!

Check out our little kitchen. If we can cook, eat, shoot, dance, fight and have fun in this little happy place you can do it to! Nothing is stopping you to have an awesome time enjoying and making the most of what you have.

~ Let’s cook!

We wish we could of invited you all… but as you can see it would be a bit crowded; hey! maybe next time you could come and cook with us?! Shoot us an e-mail if you want to be our guest, you are welcome any time.

Meantime welcome to our little happy place…Welcome-to-our-little-mighty-kitchen_Yes,-more-please!B&W

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What the new year will bring us?

New web design coming soon…a refreshed look, printable recipes, tutorials, a section of our favorite ingredients, gadgets, books, and a more accessible music pairing gallery…stay tuned!

We are marinating the idea of publishing a book. Any ideas, contacts, or publishers are welcomed. ; )

We would love to travel our cooking, so invite us to your city, we will cook for you!

We would love to be closer to you!

The screen is our medium so shoot us a comment, tell us what you would like to see this year, what you need, what rocks your boat, what music or spice are you hooked on! We are here for and because of you!.. Don’t be shy and please share your thoughts.

All along this year we had people who helped us to become better bloggers,

to all of you readers and followers THANK YOU so very much!

 

Musika! One of our favorite local bands : Spoon!!

 

Extra Special thanks to all the people who helped us to put the extra cherry on the cake!

My friend Drea for her continuous help, support, and friendship!

Thomas for all the patience in the world and great support on the “cosa nostra” of the WordPress. For teaching me valuable tips and hints and for rescuing me every time I had to do a back up!  ~Keep calm and ask Thomas~

To all our friends who helped us with the frantic voting for The Kitchn, “Homies awards 2014″contest, hehehe, it was an unexpected and fun experience.

To The Kitchn website editors… for picking our blog as an Editor’s choice in the contest.

My Mother and our families who always have been our best cheerleaders!

Our number one follower Tamra!!! I think she has done almost all the recipes on the blog… if not all … almost close. Thank you!!!

Our Friends and bloggers from Austin Food Blogger Alliance, Adri and Matt, Maggie Perkins, Kristin Sheppard, Megan Myers, Katryn Hutchison they do an awesome work as leaders for the AFBA and in helping spread the Austin blog love! This is a great group of people in pursuit of good food and good information. I’m looking forward to a great year of active blogging adventures!

Our Special Supporters:

Sharlie Douglass from Nikon , Paul and Natalie Bardagjy unconditional friends and recipe lovers, Kirk Tuck , Mandy Earnshaw and all the good folks at Precision Camera and Video here in Austin, TX.

Our Farmers Market Friends from:

Boggy Creek Farms
My favorite happy-enchanted place in Austin, hands down they have the best vegetables in the city!
Carol Ann, Stephen, Dana, Lorig, Tina.

Johnson Back Yard Garden at the Sunday’s Muller Farmers Market,
Hector (Chef Boyardee) for always receiving us with a big smile at the farmers market stand, Thank you Hector!

Smith and Smith Farms
Great delicious eggs and the best chicken to roast. Thank you so much Colby!

Gilbert Market in Arizona
Thanks for loving sharing our recipes!!! We hope to visit you soon!!!

One-year-of-bloggin_

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Root-a–touille a Ratatouille made with root vegetables

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Because sometimes we need some silly in our lives, and because we must decide what to do with all the bountiful goodness of root vegetables currently in season, I decided to make Root–a-touille a Ratatouille made with root vegetables.

The star of this recipe, believe it or not, is the infamous rutabaga. You can smash, roast, make chips, soup… a rutabaga so many ways…and still not to be a great fan of it. I picked up some rutabagas from the Farmers market from the folks at Johnson’s Backyard Gardens. They have fantastic organic root vegetables. https://www.jbgorganic.com
Rutabaga has a very particular flavor, a cross between a radish and a potato (and some funk ca-baggey smell). This root vegetable is from Sweden and it is the result of crossing a cabbage and a turnip. But if you use this flavor profile in your favor it compliments and harmonize well with other roots. I thought about making a variation of ratatouille, using primarily roots. It was a success! In this particular dish the rutabagas bring the whole root clan together and the funky root smell cooks away. I really believe you are going to like rutabagas after eating them in this way.

Cooking your vegetables in this ratatouille-like style is gonna make you want to eat them more often. I even made my Grandma this recipe and she thought she would not like, and she loved it!… The only objection she had? Too much rosemary. I adjusted the recipe so no worries. I hope you enjoy the recipe. It is a warm and easy to prepare casserole that your whole family will enjoy.

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Root-a- touille

Serves 4 or 2 hungry vegetarian for dinner.

1 rutabaga
1 sweet potato
1-2 green zucchini
(I use the light green zucchini or “mexican” zucchini as they call it here in austin)
2-3 small red potatoes

2 tomatoes diced
1 garlic clove
½ yellow onion small diced
1 glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

2-3 tablespoons of melted butter
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1 sprig of thyme and rosemary.
1 glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Salt and pepper to taste.

3-4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese.

Preparation:

Preheat oven at 400F/200C

1. Using a Mandolin, thinly slice the rutabaga, sweet potato, zucchini, potatoes.
(I love this japanese mandolin is easy and fun  to use and clean up in a flash! next time I will make sure I have my gloves on!)

Root-a-touille--Slicing-Mandolin
2. Quick saute in Extra Virgin Olive Oil the Onions, garlic, tomatoes, season with salt and pepper a pinch of the herbs de provence, fresh thyme and the sprig of rosemary.
3. Place this tomato saute in a gratin-stone ware or glass baking dish will work to.
4. Start layering the root slices, over the sauteed tomato-onion-garlic. Alternate the colors and different type of roots and zucchini (see photo below) and work all your way around.

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5. Brush the top with the melted butter and herbs and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.

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6. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, cover with foil for the first 15 minutes of baking, and remove for the last 10-15 minutes to achive a great gratin crust until golden brown.
7. Serve warm.
You can serve it as a side dish with fish, chicken or a simple soup and crusty bread for a vegetarian meal.Enjoy!

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Enjoy!

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Betsy’s Scottish Potato Scones

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Scottish Potato Scones, or Potato Tatties are simply delicious clouds of light and fluffy potatoes baked in a griddle. They are especially popular in Scotland and the Isle of Man as a breakfast staple.

Ian introduced me to this simply delicious Scottish scones. The recipe has been in his family for a long time. His grandma passed the recipe onto his mother and his mother used to make them when he was a little child. Ian remembers dearly how Betsy used to make this Potato Scones for him and his siblings. Eating them with butter and strawberry jam was a delicious treat!

Based on this childhood memory we were determined to find the recipe and make them…Of course with no luck on our side, we could not find any trace of recipe, so we had to start by scratch. I think I made about 11 batches of these puppies before Ian said” that’s it”, these are the ones, these taste like the ones she used to make!…Hurray!!! I was thrilled that based on a memory of flavor, taste and texture we were able to found the recipe. We felt so happy, that  from now on we will embrace this as our Christmas breakfast.

There are many, many ways to make a Scottish Potato Scone, believe me, we tried every single ratio of potato-flour-butter. Until  Ian said: this it it! they taste just like the one’s Betsy made! (Im sure they are not as good as the ones she made, moms have their special touch, but I will keep practicing!) In this recipe case, they are a little thinner than the average ones, they have soft and light consistency, its like a pillowy thicker potato-flour tortilla, not salty, nor sweet, which makes it the ideal breakfast scone.

To make them as a whole breakfast, we decided to serve them with Ian’s fantastic creamy eggs and smoked salmon. We put a  little twist on one of our favorite breakfast recipes from Gordon Ramsey, he makes this similar creamy eggs and serve them on a toasted croissant topped with smoked salmon. what’s not to like right?… well, wait until you try this scones, I think it is a great and dainty pairing.

What we wanted to achieve with this recipe is to recreate a hearted memory. We both come from small families and sometimes is hard to get together; people are far away, work can distract.  And when it comes this time of the year, there’s always the need to create our own memories and make things that remind us that no matter what, the people we love will always be with us in memory and heart.

Every Christmas we try to make something special to remember Ian’s mother, Betsy, who left us on a Christmas Eve. She absolutely adored Christmas time, she used to find us thrifty quirky funny  presents that will make us laugh or need the un-needable! she also loved decorating and cooking for the family.  Since then, we have been making a special dish, decoration and playing music to commemorate her. We love and miss you Betsy!

This year this is our tribute to her, and we proudly wanted to share the recipe with you.
Merry Christmas!, Happy Holidays!

May this season be filled with love and great memories.
Ian and Mariana

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Betsy’s Scottish Potato Scones

Makes about 16 triangles, serves 4 or 2 Celtic creatures

2 medium size potato (Equivalent to 2 cups when mashed) like Maris Piper, King Edward or Yellow potato.
1 cup all purpose flour + more to dust and roll
4 oz good irish butter I used Kerrygold, or Organic Valley
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 healthy kosher salt pinches

Method:

1. Steam the potato, skin it, cut in cubes and with the help of a strainer or a ricer puree the potato into a medium size bowl.
2. Add Butter and mix with your hand until incorporated
3. Add Salt and Flour and mix with a wooden spatula until you feel you need to use your hands in order to get all the flour incorporated to the dough.

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4. In a lightly flour dusted surface, softly Knead the Dough in folded movements for about 2 minutes. Shape it into a ball and divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece about 6” diameter and 1/8-1/4 inch thick disk. With a pizza or ravioli cutter, gently cut the disk into four pieces.

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4. Warm a cast Iron Griddle using medium-low heat. Oil a paper towel and lightly grease the griddle. Place the 4 triangle Scones and cook them about 3-4 minutes per side. The way to know when to flip them is when they start forming air pockets, watch your heat, they cook better in medium low, some cast iron pans can hold a lot of heat so you might have to adjust for a lower setting during the cooking. Is kind of like Pancakes, The first batch is not so good, and after that everything cooks beautifully!
5. Serve warm.

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“Betsy’s scones where soft , light and pillowed, with a bit of chewy like a  flour tortilla”

That’s how Ian describe them.

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Ian’s Creamy Eggs:

Serves 2

When it comes to eggs it really does makes the difference to use the best quality you can.
Organic free range , thats what we use, Smith & Smith farms, Boggy Creek Farm if you are in Austin this are ones of the best!

4 large Eggs
1-2 Tablespoons butter
A splash ah-roo of heavy cream.
Salt and fresh cracker pepper to taste.

These eggs are really easy to make, but they require all your attention, its all about stirring slowly at all times until they start to curdle. Be sure to start the eggs at last. Once you have your table set up, the scones made, plates warm, smoked salmon in the table, chives ready, coffee on the table. Yes it is this crucial you have everything ready, so you can enjoy the eggs as creamy and warm as possible, since they change their consistency as you eat them. The consistency of these eggs is like a creamy custard with small curdles of egg, soft and tender, they just melt in your mouth. Salt and pepper is added at last to prevent though egg whites.

So, -ready-; set …GO!

Method:

In a small-medium non-stick pot, over a low heat melt 1 tablespoon of butter very gently.
Add the 4 eggs and whisk gently until well incorporated.
With a wood or rubber spatula, start stirring the eggs in circles, at all times.( As if you where gently whisking)
Until they start to curdle, add the second tablespoon of butter keep stirring, remove from heat and add a small splash of the heavy cream ( keep stirring) place them back into the heat, for about 6-8 seconds, and transfer them into a warm ramekin or ceramic dish. Serve immediately Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Serve: Over 2 or 3 scones, a couple of tablespoons of egg and top it with the smoked salmon and chives. Enjoy!

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Merry Christmas!!!

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Whole Wheat Ginger Men Cookies

Whole-Wheat-Ginger-Men_forrest~-Yes,-more-please!

Here comes Santa! When you bake cookies expect anyone to come around them: kids, gnomes, reindeer, elves, gremlins, dogs, cats, ants, aunts grandpa’s, grandmas, fuzzy teenagers, obnoxious neighbors, you name it! Everybody loves cookies…And since its Christmas lets share some cookie love!
Here is my recipe for Ginger Men. Why whole wheat? I love the nutty flavor that this flour gives to the ginger cookie. Not a fan of whole wheat?… You can substitute white flour but you might have to adjust and add ½ to 1 cup more flour.

I love to make these cookies because the house smells so good and kicks up your Christmas Spirit.
I owe you the photo steps, Ian has had an overload of work and for me, it its a bit hard to shoot with floury hands, so I made some drawings to illustrate a couple of steps. If you have any questions please send me a comment I will guide you.
I’m certain that these cookies are so easy to prepare you’ll have no trouble at all!
Enjoy!Whole-Wheat-Ginger-Men-mousthacehe-2

Whole Wheat Ginger Men Cookies

Makes 2-3 dozen depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

4 cups whole wheat flour ( I used King Arthur 100% organic whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup Butter
¾ cup organic blackstrap molasses
¾ cup brown sugar

Spices:
2 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

3 large eggs

Preparation Method:

1. In a medium size bowl whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.
2. In a medium-sized pot, over medium heat, melt butter, molasses, brown sugar and all the spices until well combined. Set aside and let the mixture cool down.
3. Once this mixture has cooled down whisk in the eggs one at a time.
4. Add the flour mixture one cup at a time and incorporate with a spatula in folding movements until well combined do not over mix.
5. Divide the dough in two and place each half of the dough into a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten as much as you can and shape into a rectangle, and then place a second piece of parchment paper on top. Follow the next steps before chilling.

Now, in my opinion, the best technique to use is from Martha Stewart. No doubt, she is the queen of cookies right? What is this technique about?,basically you roll the dough before chilling, about 1/4”inch between two pieces of parchment paper. It helps using two wood dowels along the sides to ensure an even thickness of the dough slab.

This technique is great, because not only will speed up the process of chilling the dough to about 1 hour, it also leaves you with 2 or 3 cookie dough slabs ready to cut. I love this simple trick, because it saves you the step of having to deal with rolling a cold hard dough. Once you roll the dough in between the parchment papers, just transfer this sandwich into a cookie sheet.These simple step make it so much easy to transport back and forth from the refrigerator or the freezer to chill the dough.

After 1 hour, Remove from fridge and peel the top parchment paper and start pressing your cookie shapes. Remove the negative dough space. This will leave you with a tray ready to bake, no need to deal with misshaped cookies or trying to transfer them as you cut. Its so easy! check this lil drawings it might help…

Roll-out-_cookie_technique_Steps

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 7-10 minutes. Bigger cookies might need 10-12.
Remove cookies from the oven and let them cool on the sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Something to consider: When choosing a cookie cutter try to avoid intricate shapes or in the case of this Ginger man use a Ginger man with an evenly shaped figure so the cookies bake more evenly.

Icing:

1 cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoon meringue powder or dry egg whites.

Mix the powdered sugar and meringue powder together.Add the lemon juice to this mixture and whisk well until slightly pasty. At this point you can divide the icing and add a little food coloring. I like to use natural colorings like this kind.

If the icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar, if it’s too thick add a drop of lemon juice.
Use a piping Bag, or squeeze bottles to decorate.

Whole-Wheat-Ginger-Men_in-box-forrest-and-men

~ Have fun! ~

Music pairing: Santa Claus is coming to town-Ella Fitzgerald

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Thanksgiving with Friends!!!

Ian-&-Mariana

Hello!, I hope you had a great Holiday, we would like to share our Thanksgiving with friends day with you.

This year Ian and I were very grateful to have had spent it with two great friends, Andrea and Arin, who they share the love for cooking, we had a blast!.

We decided to go with a not so traditional menu, with room for the turkey to be invited.

Thanksgiving_2013

“Friends are the Family we choose for Ourselves” -Edna Buchanan

 Our Thanksgiving Menu

November 2013

~ Breakfast Brunch ~

Spanakopita/prasopita

Leeks, spinach, feta, eggs, butter all wrapped in a layered fillo crust.

Recipe from Arin’s Yaya

~ Tea time & games ~

Corn Cookies

Recipe from Momofuko’s pastry chef

Crabapples, ginger and Rum warm Cider

Andrea’s and Mariana’s concoktion

~ Dinner ~

Applewood Smoked Turkey

Recipe by Arin & Andrea

Braised Beef short ribs in red wine sauce

Recipe by Mariana & Ian

Robuchon style mashed potatoes

~
Corn bread with smoked gouda and poblano peppers

by Mariana’s grandma Ana recipe

~
Watercress, watermelon radishes, spanish radishes,

roasted beets & carrot salad

blue goat cheese crumbs with orange vinagrete

by Mariana.

~ Dessert ~

Pumpkin pie with pecan praline topping and whipped cream

by Mariana

. ——————————————– .

We started our day early, Ian prepared for us his fabulous Cappuccinos he can make killer chinos;  once we were awake, Arin and Ian started the fire for the smoker and place the turkey in the smoker, Meantime Andrea and I prepared some breakfast tacos (a small bite) before Arin started to make his fantastic Spanikopita torte, a recipe from his Greek-grandmother.

Later for brunch, we had a slice of spanikopita and Cider to warm up, played board games and had a cup of tea and freshly baked cookies, It was a chilly day in Austin, 34F/54F…

Around 4:30 we started making the side dishes, short ribs were done, gravy, and mashed potatoes. Andrea and I baked the cornbread.

Everything went smooth and fun. Ian had fun taking photos, all the  ingredients, excitement and cooking action.

Finally around 5:30 we were ready eat…What a great experience, cook, share, laugh, eat and drink!

Even though we miss our family and we where thinking about them, we are very grateful to have had the joy to spend this holiday with friends…

Thank you Arin and Andrea… Now,  whats for X-mas LOL!

Thanksgiving-_02

The smells were driving Sophia a little crazy!

(Sophie is our little dog it is an Italian greyhound)

Thanks-giving-dinner_2013~-Yes,-more-please!

 

There is always room for dessert….

Thanksgiving-Pumpkin-Pecan-Praline-Pie-Dessert

So…what’s for X-mas???

 

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Thanksgiving Crostatas Pecan Apple & Pumpkin-Yam

Thanksgiving-Crostata_ingredients

I wish you could have smelled my kitchen the day I baked these crostatas, it was intoxicating!…
A cloud of buttery pecan, apple, cinnamon and allspice in the air.
Crostata, my absolutely favorite pastry. Let me tell you why…

During my sweet tooth life I’ve tried many pies: the open pies, the double crust, the lattice, you name it. I always felt there was too much sugary filling compared to the amount of crust. The pie ratio in most of the cases does not work for me.

The day I tried my first crostata I was madly in love. It was an apple crostata, in the town of apples Julian in California. It had the perfect ratio between crust and filling and the crust was golden brown , flaky and crumbly, tender, and buttery. The sensible single layer filling had a bubbly, slightly crusty caramelized top. Inside it was juicy and fruity, and I was lost. Yet, I felt illuminated, just like the Greeks when they discovered “the golden ratio”. I prefer to call it Crostata like the Italians, over Gallette like the French, and of course the less romantic name free form pie….any way you name it, it’s always so simply and utterly delicious.

What I call“The Crostata Golden Ratio” is that perfect amount of crust and filling, allowing you to savor the buttery flaky crust and the sensible layer of fruit topped with some sugar allowing the crust to stay crispy and flaky in every bite. The fruit acts like the butter; slightly sweet and a bit tart. Suddenly, all your tastebuds are  awake; sweet, tart, creamy, crusty , buttery flaky…even days after its made, you can warm it in a toaster oven and it feels like you just baked it.

Now, if we talk about appearance, I love crostata with its rustic and honest look. It’s not decorated and definitely you can apply some decor, however I think the beauty comes from its baked right ingredients, the simple look is what makes it so attractive to eat and to prepare, no fuss, it is what it is.

I serve these crostatas with a cinnamon whipped cream and a honey-balsamic vinegar reduction, I love the tangy-sweet note that the reduction brings to the crostata, a caramel sauce will go great too….

Thanksgiving Crostatas will make a fabulous and sweet end to your dinner.
~ Happy Thanksgiving ~ from Ian and Mariana.

Thanksgiving-Crostatas_Pecan,-apple-and-Pumpkin-Yam

Thanksgiving Crostatas: Pecan, Apple & Pumpkin-Yam

Makes 3 – 7 ” x 11″rectangular Crostatas. Serves 24 to 18 slices.

For the Crust:

3-3/4 cups of unbleached-all purpose flour
3 sticks of butter
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 pinch salt
3/4-1 cup Ice cold water

1 egg + 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1 cup of turbinado sugar to top the edges of the crust.

Directions:

Measure all your ingredients. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix. Place the bowl in the freezer. Meantime cut your cold butter, and iced water ready to measure. Remove the bowl of dry ingredients from freezer and add the butter. With a pastry blender incorporate the butter and flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, and the butter pieces are small like the size of a pea. Slowly add the cold water and carefully, with your hands, form a dough that just holds together. Be careful not to over work the dough. 
Once that the dough holds together. Shape it into a rectangle about 9”x6” and then divide that rectangle into 3 pieces (see picture below) Wrap each rectangle with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour; you can rush it by placing into freezer for 20-25 minutes.

Thanksgiving-Crostatas_The-crustThanksgiving-Crostatas_dividing-the-crust

~ R o l l i n g ~

On a clean work surface, dusted with flour, unwrap the dough let sit for a couple of minutes and then roll the dough into a 13”x 9” rectangle and about 1/8″and 1/4″thin.
Rolling little by little, rotating the rectangular, for even thickness (see picture below).

Thanksgiving-Crostata_rolling-the-crust.. roll it!Thanksgiving-Crostata_rolling-the-crust_one-sheet

~  F i l l i n g s  ~

Thanksgiving-Crostatas_fillings

 

Pumpkin- Yam Crostata

Thanksgiving-Crostata_Pumpkin-yam-slice

Filling:

1 cup hefty pumpkin purée.
1 egg
1 tablespoon of heavy cream
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon of heavy cream
pinch of salt
2-3 small Yams or sweet potatoes.
3 Tablespoon butter cut into little squares to top the yams.
½ cup turbinado sugar
extra cinnamon for dusting

Directions:

In a bowl, mix the pumpkin pure, egg, heavy cream, sugar and spices and salt until well combined.
Yams: steamed, peel and slice into ½ “ slices. Set aside room temperature. Preheat Oven at 400. In a 1/4 sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place the 9″x13″ crust spread the layer of pumpkin mixture leaving a 1.5” inch margin around the rectangle to be folded. arrange the slices of yam and sprinkle with the little squares of butter, turbinado sugar, and dust with some cinnamon. Fold the sides and fold the corners into a triangle, (see picture below) Egg wash and sprinkle the turbinado sugar all around the crust and a little over the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Until golden brown.

Thanksgiving-Crostatas_Pumpkin-YamThanksgiving-Crostatas-Pumpkin-Yam

 

 

Apple Crostata

Thanksgiving-Crostata_apple-slice

Filling:

2 granny smith apples peeled and sliced.
1 Honey suckle or pink lady peeled and sliced.
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (taste your apples! if they are two sweet you might need less sugar, if they are to sour, you need to add a bit more!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated.
the zest of half a lemon about ½ teaspoon.
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Smidge of salt

Directions:

In a sauté pan melt the butter, add the sliced apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest and juice, salt. Saute until the apples are slightly tender and the liquids reduce. Remove from stove and cool down filling before use. Preheat Oven at 400. In a 1/4 sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place the 9″x13″ crust spread the saute apples in an evenly layer  leaving a 1.5” inch margin around the rectangle to be folded. Fold the sides and fold the corners into a triangle, (see picture below) Egg wash and sprinkle the turbinado sugar all around the crust and a little over the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Until golden brown.

Thanksgiving-Crostatas_apple-assambling-crostataThanksgiving-Crostatas-Apple

 

 

Pecan Crostata

Thanksgiving-Crostata_Pecan-slice

Filling:

1 cup pecans halves roasted
½ cup fine chopped pecans
8 oz cream cheese softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions:

In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, chopped pecans, egg, vanilla and one tablespoon of sugar.
Toast the pecans and quick sauté them using a little butter and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, set aside and let them cool before using. Preheat Oven at 400. In a 1/4 sheet pan lined with parchment paper, place the 9″x13″ crust and spread the cream cheese filling leaving a 1.5” inch margin around the rectangle to be folded. Top with the sautéed pecans. Fold the sides and fold the corners into a triangle, (see picture below) Egg wash and sprinkle the turbinado sugar all around the crust and a little over the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Until golden brown.

Thanksgiving-Crostatas_pecan-assambling-the-crostataThanksgiving-Crostata-Pecan

~ T o p p i n g s ~

Thanksgiving_Crostatas_Toppings

Cinnamon Whipped cream:

½ cup heavy whipping cream
dash of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powder sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a clean chilled metal bowl, whisk all ingredients until it forms soft peaks.
Keep refrigerated until serving.

Honey-Balsamic reduction:

½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey

In a small sauce pan combine honey and balsamic bring it to a slow simmer, check for desired consistency by running your finger on the back of the spoon. Serve warm.

Thanksgiving-Crostata_Balsamic-Honey

~ D r i z z l e ~

Thanksgiving-Crostata_beauty-close-up_vertical_01

Happy Thanksgiving…ENJOY!!!

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Hibiscus-Orange Glazed Cornish Hens

Hibiscus-Orange-Glazed-Cornish-Hens_aromatics-for-the-recipe_01

Hibiscus-Orange-Glazed-Cornish-Hens_Bay-and-Sage

Have you ever tried hibiscus?… hibiscus is a flower from a tall plant that when dried makes the most fabulous aromatic and vitamin C loaded tea or cold beverage. It is one of my favorite ingredients.
I’m from Mexico and Hibiscus is called “Jamaica” and it is pronounced Ha-my-cah, not to get it confused with the Island. Hibiscus is used in many different preparations, the most common is to prepare “agua fresca”flavored water. Jamaica it is very floral and refreshing, its our natural instant beverage.
It is also used in candy making in Mexico on the Chapala Lake Riviera, in Jalisco. There they make delicious sweet and tart hard candy pieces. If I was to describe the hibiscus flavor, it resembles a little to cranberry. The difference: Hibiscus has this floral notes that makes it so remarkable.

I was thinking of a little spin on Thanksgiving for people who find cranberry too tart so I thought of Jamaica. Then, what to do besides agua fresca and candy? Chutney?.. no… Glaze!

Oh yes I experimented last week glazing some Cornish Hens and it tastes  delicious. My original thought was to glaze some quail, but I look for a good source of quail here in Austin and I was with out luck… so I cooked Cornish Hens…and what a treat!
The results?… Well  you have to try it. It’s floral, tart, sweet and I added a hint of orange zest, and ancho powder to give a little spicy kick….Ian loved it!.. and yes I liked it too.. I definitely want to share the recipe with you, let me know what you think!
Try it with Quail if you or some soul around reading this can find some. I think it will be wonderful and if not it’s great on Cornish Hen! And if you are already a Hibiscus Lover, try our recipe  Martini dos Flores… you will fall in love with it! https://yes-moreplease.com/2013/08/martini-dos-flores/

Hibiscus-Orange-Glazed-Cornish-Hens_with-herb-orange-Farro

Hibiscus-Orange Glazed Cornish Hens

Serves 2-4

2 cornish Hens, about 18 to 22 oz each
4 sage leaves
4 bay leaf
Sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

To roast the perfect cornish hens, I always follow the following steps:

1. Bring the Cornish Hens to room temperature. Take them out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before start cooking.
2. Preheat the Oven at 450 F/ 232 C – cook at 425 F/ 218 C
3. Using paper towels pat dry the hens. Salt, pepper and add 2 bay leaves and 2 sage leaves to each bird cavity.
4. Truss the birds, ensuring legs are tight and the tips of wings are behind the body just like if the bird is taking a nap in the sun. Trussing the Cornish Hens make a more even mass, so they cook more evenly.
5. Place them on a baking sheet or a heavy bottom roasting pan and roast for 30-25 minutes until a meat thermometer, inserted in between the breast and thigh reads 165 F/ 70 C anf juices run clear. 0While the hens are in the oven, make the glaze.

Hibiscus-Orange-Glazed-Cornish-Hens_out-of-the-oven

Hibiscus-Orange Glaze

The first time I made this dish I tried to make the glaze using the Cornish Hens drippings from the pan and de-glaze de pan like when you are making a gravy. I did not like this, the delicate floral flavors from the hibiscus were masked by the chicken fat so I made the glaze separate to keep the floral notes alive.

1 cup dry Hibiscus flowers
the zest of ½ medium size valencia orange
½ cone piloncillo, grated
1 aromatic clove
1 chile de arbol
1 teaspoon ancho powder
4-6 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon of butter
pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Steep 1 cup dry hibiscus flowers in about 1 ½ cups of simmering water for about 8-10 minutes.
    In a small sauce pan add the concentrated hibiscus tea, piloncillo, clove, chile de arbol, ancho chili powder, orange zest, and thyme. Bring to a slow simmer, simmer for 4-6 minutes.
  2. Remove the sprigs of thyme clove and chilies. Bring the glaze to a rapid simmer stir constantly, until the glaze is reduced by half. Check the consistency by dipping a spoon into the glaze and running your finger tip across. If the line stays put, your glaze is ready (see picture below). At this point add 1 tablespoon of butter until melted and well incorporated, set aside.
  3. Check cornish Hens at 35 minutes. If the thermometer reads 160F/70C start glazing.
    Use a pastry brush or a rubber brush to varnish them. Apply 1 coat and keep baking for about 2 minutes, apply 2 or 3 glaze coats in total. If necessary turn on the broil on the oven and broil for 1 minute for a shiny glaze finish.7. Check temperature until reads 165F/74C and juices run clear.
    Remove from the oven and let them rest for 10-12 minutes before serving.
  4. Serve over a bed of herbed farro or buttery rice, recipe follows…

    Quick herb-orange farro

    Serves 2

    ½ cup farro perlato
    2 cups water or chicken stock
    ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
    1 teaspoon orange zest
    1 tablespoon butter (or you can use some of the chicken fat from the roasting pan)
    salt & pepper to taste.

    In a small sauce pan, bring water to boil and add farro. Reduce heat to a low simmer.
    Cook for about 20-25 minutes. Check for doneness. It usually takes 30-35 to be al dente,
    at this point add butter, chopped parsley, orange zest, salt and pepper. Toss well, remove from heat and cover with a lid for 5 minutes. Serve warm.
    Note: I love farro done this way, I like it a little al dente, not too mushy, and I like to add the herbs, at the end to keep the flavors fresh and colors vibrant.

Hibiscus-Orange-Glazed-Cornish-Hens_hibiscus-glaze-consistency

Hibiscus-Orange-Glazed-Cornish-Hens_roasted-cornish-hens_glazing-the-roasted-cornish-hens

Hibiscus-Orange-Glazed-Cornish-Hens_Yes,-more-please!

Enjoy!

Music pairing: Sabor a mi, by Lila Down

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