Peaches Flambéed

There’s just something about dessert and booze?

Am I right? Am I right?

I think I am.

When I was younger if ever there was a dessert that thought had liquor in it I would savor each bite, convincing myself that the boozy flavor was in fact getting me tipsy. Much as I tried though, I never started to feel the telltale symptoms of being drunk. Poor little Kristina, I was just tryin’ to have a good time.

Despite my cravings for said boozy desserts the one after dinner treat I never tried was Bananas Flambéed I can’t for the life of me figure out why since I am all about sticky sweet bananas cooked in brown sugar, butter, and let set aflame with the help of rum or brandy. I mean, I totally get why people are obsessed with them. So why the hell haven’t I ever tried them?!

It’s a real mystery.

For those of you who don’t know, Matt doesn’t like desserts too much. He’s a fan of ice cream but not much else. He’s just not a sweets kinda guy, when I make cookies, I purposely put less sugar and try to add nuts and raisins so that they are more his style. Which is fine – more for me – but I thought to myself, maybe, just maybe, he would indulge in a little dessert that included booze. Plus, he’s sick right now, so I wanted to do something to make him feel better, cause that’s what doting girlfriends do when their boyfriend, who-only-gets-sick-once-a-year gets sick.

So I made him Bananas Flambéed and wouldn’t you know it folks, he loved it! Like big ol’ smile on his face fighting me for the plate of it love it. Oh man, I was tickled.

The trick to getting your non-sweet loving boyfriend to like flambéed fruit is to make it as non-sweet as possible, but putting it over some crusty crispy sourdough bread for instance and by adding some not to sweet vanilla ice cream. The bread ended up being the best addition ever, it soaked up some of the sauce but still provided the texture and flavor contrast necessary to keep a sweet dessert from becoming cloyingly sweet. (Even I don’t like desserts like that).

Well, we still had extra rum from my first attempt and I was craving peaches, so I started thinking, what if I made Peaches Flambéed? I was willing to bet it would be just as tasty, if not tastier. So I ran to the corner market and grabbed a couple yellow and white peaches, for variety, and scooted back home to make it and take pictures before it got too dark.

*On that note – the above photo was taken at night, so you can really see the flames, however the other photos I have of the peaches were taken during the day so the flames don’t look quite as brilliant, I apologize my friends.

What you’ll need:

2 Peaches, one white, one yellow (or two of the same)

1/2 stick butter, plus enough to smear on the bread

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup rum, preferably dark

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 slice of sourdough bread

Vanilla ice cream

What to do with it:

Slice peaches into medium sized strips – not too thick, cause that will be awkward to eat, but not too thin cause they will get mushy after being cooked too long

Heat pan on medium and add butter, allowing to brown EVER so slightly

Add brown sugar, let simmer

DON’T turn your back for a second to go check on your sick boyfriend, your sugar will burn and look like this. It’s a proven fact

Add peaches and cinnamon, to your not burned bubbly buttery sugar sauce, let them simmer for just a few minutes

While they are simmering though, lightly butter both sides of the bread and crisp up in another pan

Cut the crispy bread in 2 pieces and arrange at the bottom of a shallow bowl

Now its time for the real fun…

Remove the simmering pan from the burner that’s on – THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP

Once its off that burner, pour the rum into the pan and THEN put it back on the flaming burner, tilting the pan slightly so that the flame may jump to the liquor. Watch it ignite!

It will flame for a minute or so, during which you can leave the pan alone, when it’s done flaming you can start plating, which should look a little something like this

 

What’s my verdict? Bananas are amazing, dense, and hold up to the butter rum sauce deliciously. But peaches, well peaches work with the sauce, taking it in and becoming something so damn delightful I just wanted to squeal like a little girl.

I did prefer the yellow peaches to the white in this recipe, though most of the time I am partial to white. So, you try both and figure out which one you prefer!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I still have a few more peaches around here somewhere

Rhubarb Pie and Grandma

Hello all,

Today I want to talk about my grandma, and about pie.
Mostly because they have to do with each other in my story, but also cause grandmas and pie usually go together, don’t they?

So here’s my story, I hate pie.

The crust is dry or burnt or flavorless more often then it is not. The filling has a tendency to be overly sweet, mushy or it tastes like the fruit is from a can that’s been hanging out in the back of the pantry, saved in case of apocalypse or something worse – like seriously not having anything else to eat and you’re on the verge of starvation.

Like I said, I’m not a fan of pie.

EXCEPT when it’s my grandma’s pie (cliche, I know).
I swear though, nobody does pie better than my grandma, Pauline.


Maybe it’s because she grew up on a farm full of fruit orchards in Canada with a big family full of hungry boys, and nothing warms you up like a hearty slice of pie in cold weather.

Maybe she makes such gosh darn good pie because when she grew up she went and had a big family (this time full of girls) and worked as a nurse so making pie was a good way to unwind after a long day of work and taking care of all her little ones.

Maybe, it’s cause now her 5 kids have all grown up and gotten married and had tons of babies themselves and the staple of every family gathering are Grandma’s pies.

Basically has had to stay on her pie game her whole life.

I have been thinking lately though, that if my grandma can make excellent pie, then maybe I can too. I might just have that pie making gene stowed somewhere in me.

She makes a most wonderful apple pie, a mouthwatering crusty and crispy pecan pie, pumpkin pie with filling so smooth and topped with leaf shaped crust pieces that will make you squeal with delight, but my absolute favorite pie is her rhubarb.

Rhubarb is divinely unique and not the most common of pies, its bitter when uncooked but addicting and tart when cooked and is absolutely positutely my favorite of Grandma’s pies.

So, while I was in LA for a few days for my dad’s birthday I cornered my granny with a pie cutter and said “Lady, you better give me your recipe for Rhubarb pie or I’ll slice you and put you in a pie!”

OMG I’M TOTALLY KIDDING

It really went more like this “Granny, you make the best pie in the whole gosh darn world, would you share your most delectable recipe for Rhubarb pie so that I may continue the family tradition.” Then granny smiled with her adorable, non-dentured, smile and said “Oh of course, honey girl!” That’s what she calls me, honey girl. I love my grandma.

Sidenote: I incidentally recently painted my kitchen table a color named “Rhubarb” and while slicing the stalks for the pie I decided to gauge just how well it matched

God damn that’s a match!

Moving on

What you’ll need:

For the most buttery and flaky crust:

2 1/2 cups flour, plus a little extra for rolling

1 stick of butter, cubed and frozen

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

8 Tbs water, ice cold

For the luscious filling:

5 cups Rhubarb, chopped into 1 inch pieces

1 1/4 cup sugar, I used brown sugar

1/4 cup cornstart

2 Tbs lemon juice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 Tbs butter

What to do with it:

For the crust:

Combine flour, sugar, salt in a food processor and lightly pulse

Gradually add in the cubed frozen butter. I’ve learned that frozen butter is the secret to excellent pie crust. Pulse until the butter hunks are the size of your pinky nail

Now add the water, 1 Tbs at a time keeping watch of the dough’s consistency (flour has different absorbancy levels, so while I needed all 8 Tbs, you may only need 6 or 7). You want the dough to just stick together when you press it together between your fingers

Take the dough and squish it on the counter under your hands to break up the butter a little more to encourage that, oh so, desirable flaky crust

When you’re done smushing it around roll it into a ball and cut in 2 pieces then form those into 2 flat patties

Dust the two pieces with flour, wrap in plastic wrap and set to chill in the fridge for a little more than an hour

Once the hour is up, take out and let them soften for about 5 minutes…chill and then soften? I know, just do it

Take a floured rolling pin and roll out one patty on a floured surface until it is about a foot across, the edges don’t have to be perfect as you will be trimming them anyway

Fold in half and place inside your baking dish, I used my cast iron skillet since I don’t actually have a pie pan

Gently unfold to fill the pan and press into the edges

For the filling:

Preheat oven to 425

Place chopped Rhubarb into pie crust

Mix together sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon and lemon juice in a bowl

Drizzle over rhubarb and gently mix around with your hands to coat

Dab with pieces of butter

Cover with the other patty of crust, that’s been rolled out, of course

You can cover the pie in a few ways, the coverall method in which case you would slit holes in the top to allow it to breath

OR the rustic way where you cut the rolled out dough into 1 inch strips and weave it – that’s what I chose to do

If you opt for this method just pinch the ends together with the bottom crust to close it off

*DON’T do what I did and forget to add 1 cup of the sugar – the copy of the recipe my granny gave me is old so the 1 1/4 cup sugar looked like just 1/4 cup. So there I was thinking to myself “God, who says pie is unhealthy, there’s only a 1/4 of a cup of sugar!” And anyone who has had unsweetened rhubarb can imagine my surprise when I first sampled a teeny bit of the filling through the pie crust. So there I was with an almost baked pie that was pretty nasty. In the event you did do that here’s the fix: take the extra 1 cup and mix with the tiniest amount of water to make it pasty and painstakingly drip it through the slots of the pie top. Then slosh the pie around with enough force to mix the filling, but not spill it. It’s an art, my friends, and I am here to say that I think I have mastered it.

The conclusion: The pie was delicious, the filling had texture and was tart yet sweet, and crust that wasn’t dry, overall a huge pie success for my first time.

But there’s just something about grandma’s pie.

Spinach and Ricotta Naked Ravioli

Scandalous name for a post, no?

That’s just the kind of mood I’m in

Does that sound bad?

Eh, it happens

I actually got the idea for this recipe here

Only I upped the ante by making my own butter and ricotta for the ravioli

I’m so fancy

So what exactly is a “naked” ravioli?

Let me break it down for ya

You know when it’s summer, and sweltering hot, and you’re trying to sleep but your damn blanket is making you so sweaty so you end up throwing it off in a fit of rage in the middle of the night? Wel,l that’s how I imagine naked ravioli was born. The little spinach ricotta filling just got too hot one day and while baking in the oven split open its little pasta blanket shell. And whoever was making them thought “why don’t I just get rid of this shell and let this ‘oli breath?”

That’s why these are such an awesome summer recipe, they are comforting and creamy thanks to the ricotta and the spinach keeps it fresh. And because there’s no pasta, there is no carb overload to weigh you down.

But wait, the plot (or rather, the sauce) thickens!

I dressed these raviolis ever so lightly with a brown butter sage sauce

What you’ll need:

2 cups of fresh Spinach – when cooked…roughly 2 bunches

2 cups Ricotta

1 cup Parmesan, grated

1 Egg

1 tsp. Nutmeg

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1 stick Butter

1 bunch Sage, stems trimmed

What to do with it:

Preheat the oven to 500

Cook the spinach in 1 of 2 ways – wilt in a pan or boil for 1 minute. Don’t kill the spinach, you want it to retain some form, but you don’t want it to be stiff

Drain spinach thoroughly – squeeze it until you think it can’t be squeezed anymore. Excess water will ruin your ravioli’s curvacious figure

Once drained, roughly chop the spinach

Combine Spinach, Ricotta, Parmesan, Salt, Pepper, and Nutmeg in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Don’t be afraid to get them a little dirty

Scoop out Tablespoons of the mixture and roll into a ball – I prefer them be oval, but if a round ball tickles your fancy, go for it

Place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil
Cook in the oven for 5-7 minutes until the tops are gently brown

While they are cooking, heat butter in a pan on medium heat

Allow the butter to brown ever so slightly then add the sage leaves, cooking until the leaves begin to crisp and curl

*I have added the sage at the same time as the butter and found that the leaves crisp up too much and end up tasting just a little too burned plus the burnt pieces break off and muddle the gorgeous color of the browned butter

When the naked raviolis are done place them on your serving platter and top each with a few sage leaves, then pour butter across the tops

Maybe pair it with a refreshing gin and tonic?

Just a thought

Spiced Crispy Onions

Ever get a craving for onion rings? Or those French’s Fried Onions you put on top of your Thanksgiving Green Bean Caserole? Or Funions?

I do.

You probably do too.

There’s just something about fried onions.

That’s why this lil’ recipe comes in handy, they are kind of a love child between the 3 aforementioned snacks.

Dare I say these savory things could be a new favorite treat.

They are crispy, but not dry.

They are spicy, but don’t make your eyes water.

They are fried, and that’s just plain great.

Gettin’ down to business

What you’ll need:

1 yellow onion

1 cup milk

1 1/2 Tbs White Vinegar

1 cup Flour

1 Tbs. Cayenne

1 Tbs. Paprika

1 Tbs. Salt

1 Tbs. Pepper

Canola Oil, for frying

What to do with it all:

1. Slice your onion real thin, does,’t really matter how – full circles, half moons, quartered – let your creativity flow free!

2. Put your onion slices in a bowl and cover them with the milk and white vinegar, make sure they are covered. Let them soak for 15+ minutes

3. In the meantime, heat your oil to 350-375 degrees. Keep the oil at medium heat

4. Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, cayenne, and paprika

5. Put a handful of onions into the flour and let them roll around a bit. Don’t be shy, indulge your inner chef, use your hands and smother those onions, cover them in flour and spices ’til a wet spot is nowhere to be found.

6. Then drop them gently into the hot oil, for the sake of not burning them, I keep the heat on medium and let the onions jump around in the oil for about 5 minutes

7. When the slices are golden and gorgeous take them out and set them on a paper towel to let some oil drain – for the sake of your figure

8. Resist the urge to eat them immediately. Really fight it. Hard

9. After cooling for a few minutes, indulge. Eat them one by one…or by the handful…or put ’em on a delectable sandwich

10. When you run out make them again, and again to your heart’s content

You can thank me later.

What’s your favorite homemade snack?

Emmy’s Organics

I believe there are two types of people in the world

Those who reach for a salty snack when a rough day has gotten the best of them

And those who crave a sweet treat after a similar experience

I would place myself pretty firmly in the latter category, only occasionally dipping my toes on the salty side.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a sugar addict, the general extent of my sweet intake consists of a few spoonfuls of ice cream before bed every once in a while.

Ok, you got me, sometimes its more than just a few spoonfuls.

So when I began my raw food challenge, I was a wee bit concerned about the lack of sweet stuff that would be available to me after what I was expecting to be a pretty stressful week with school and work.

Which is why I was thrilled when I discovered Emmy’s Organics a few days into my challenge.

What is Emmy’s?

“At emmy’s we are committed to YOU having it all. We pride ourselves on the quality, creativity & sustainability of the products we offer. In respect for our bodies & the earth, we use the finest non-GMO ingredients in everything we make & biodegradable, earth-friendly resources for our packaging. Our food is derived from nature, which in return nourishes us in the best way possible. Vegan & Gluten-free foods are our passion, so you can always feel good about choosing emmy’s. All of our goods are made in a certified vegan & gluten-free kitchen.”

The plot thickens, pretty much everything on their site is also RAW.

Yea, I know, AMAZING. I was so excited about the possibility of being able to indulge a little on this challenge, but also because I knew that if Emmy’s was as delicious as I had heard, I would acquire a new favorite snack!

The company also sells other products such as almond milk, granola, and super-fudge, but I was on their websites for two reasons: Chocolate Sauce and Macaroons.

Oh baby.

Original Dark Chocolate Sauce, uh huh, I ordered some of that.

I went a little crazy when I got to the macaroons.

I started off slow, but before I knew it I had 6 bags of macaroons in my cart! (They were just sampler bags, thank God).

Then I was patient and played the waiting game until my package arrived at my doorstep.

Sadly, it didn’t make it in time for my raw challenge. No matter, I still got down with them a few nights ago.

I started with the chocolate sauce

I took my first taste, letting it sit on my tongue for a moment enjoying the creamy rich texture and the sweet, but not cloyingly sugary flavor.

I took a second taste and was really blown away. THIS STUFF IS BETTER THAN THE UNHEALTHY VERSION.

Seriously. This chocolate sauce is incredible. Its smooth and chocolatey in the best kind of way. It tasted natural and not overly processed the way a lot of commercial chocolate sauces taste.

This stuff is heaven on earth. Its Chocolate Gold. In a jar.

After pairing it with a simple spoon the first time, I figured I should get a little more refined so I indulged during my midnight midterm study sesh and got down with some Granny Smith apple slices and the sauce – beautiful.

Buy it, love it, order more.

Now on to the macaroons!

My package arrived when Matt and I were about to leave to go to lunch with our friends Sohini and Kati, so I ripped the box open quickly and pulled a sampler out for all of us to try.

While waiting for our food to arrive I passed around a piece of the Dark Cacao flavor. And then begged Matt to take a pic of us girls holding our treat.

We all took our first bite, it was magic. Like the chocolate sauce, they didn’t taste raw at all. I forgot how good macaroons were and these, I would claim, are better. These macaroons tasted like Nutella and the coconut wasn’t too dry, so you didn’t choke on it when you tried to swallow.

Kati even commented, “are you sure these are actually raw?”

The others were all equally as scrumptious.

I know some people aren’t a fan of citrus and chocolate combinations, but I am. I’m pretty much a fan of chocolate and anything combinations, but that’s neither here nor there. This orange-choco combo was perfection, the citrus came through clear and bright, because its raw it was a very pure citrus flavor, none of that candied orange business going on in this lil’ macaroon! The smell and accompanying taste gave an overall fresh spring taste to the treat.

The Mint Chip – WOW! My mouth literally felt cold and fresh after biting into this. Who needs an after dinner mint when you can snack on this?! SO fragrant and delightful with the cacao nibs. I did notice though that after eating too much of this macaroon, I was left with a bit of a toothpaste aftertaste. I’m all for toothpaste aftertaste, after I brush my teeth, it was just a little odd knowing it was coming from a dessert this time. Overall though, very tasty.

Biting into this was like sticking my nose into the sweet shelf of an Indian spice cupboard, and I mean that in the best way. This was fantastic. Cinnamon, Ginger, Cardamom, Nutmeg, and Clove – OH MY! This had such a rich and warm flavor, the cardamom came through as the flavor frontrunner, but each spice played a beautiful note. This was Matt’s favorite, and I think visually this was mine with the abundance of spices visible atop the coconut.

The Choco Chili Macaroons, oh baby, they will get ya. When I opened the package, the macaroons smelled spicy, warm, and cinnamony all at once. I took my first bite of these and was like “ummm what the heck? They aren’t spicy at all.” Then the heat hit me, oh lordy, did it hit me. The Himalayan salt really came through in this one, balancing the heat. Don’t be afraid of this macaroon, it is absolutely wonderful if you like the spicy and sweet flavor contrast, Emmy’s does it oh so well. I would just recommend having a glass of milk nearby!

Lemon Ginger, Lemon Ginger, Lemon Ginger, you were hands down my favorite. This flavor was light and refreshing, a little light on the ginger, and heavy on the lemon, but I think I prefer it that way. These little things reminded me of the lemon bars of my childhood, sweet but unadulterated lemon tartness. Its love.

The Final Review: Basically folks, I love Emmy’s. They make great products at reasonable prices and best of all, they are a sweet snacks that leave you feeling guilt free! After I ordered online, I discovered that a market in the city sells them, so from now on you can bet I will be making a trip down there and stocking up on all this raw goodness! I’ll have to pick up some of their super-fudge and granola and let you all know what I think, but based on what I’ve tried so far, I’m expecting nothing less than excellence!

Have you ever tried Emmys? If so, what’s your favorite macaroon flavor?