It’s hard for me to describe just how excited I am for today’s post!! You see, my friend Alanna, aka The Bojon Gourmet, aka my blogging hero, wrote/photographed/gave birth to a cookbook! It’s called Alternative Baker, and inside Alanna drops some serious knowledge about the wonders of gluten-free grains and flours. That’s right, 140 gluten-free desserts at your fingertips!! Have I mentioned it’s quite possibly the most beautiful cookbook you’ll ever lay eyes on . . . have a look! When browsing this book, I feel like a little kid with his faced pressed up against the bakery case, ogling at row after row of sweets (can I have one of each, please?). The only thing that outshines Alanna’s photographs are her recipes. I was lucky enough to do a bit of recipe testing for the book, which quickly turned into recipe devouring. Speaking of devouring, today I wanted to make you these lovely little lemon ricotta shortcakes, topped with a mascarpone cream, fresh peaches, honey, and tarragon. I’ve altered a few things from the book, but everything is still gluten-free. Alanna uses a ricotta cream instead of mascarpone, and tops with fresh strawberries. However, it was hard for me to resist using peaches just one last time this season (summer, where did you go??!). So whether or not you’re gluten-free, I suggest you do yourself a favor and grab a copy (or five!), and get baking!!
My entire childhood was spent living within just minutes from the Pacific Ocean so naturally, the sounds, smells and tastes of the sea have always been a part of my DNA. I can’t imagine living too far from a large body of water or even surviving a diet without my beloved fruits de mer. In a recent brainstorming session with Karen and Todd, we threw around the idea of hosting a party at my house, with a decked out raw bar. Surprisingly, it’s something none of us have ever attempted. The thought of handling raw shellfish has always been a bit intimidating, as well as it is, I’m sure, for many of you. We’re also lucky enough to live in California, where the luxury of going out for fresh seafood and raw oysters is conveniently accessible. But honestly, how fun would it be to throw a little at-home party, with an impressive raw bar, to celebrate the start of fall?
With the help of the team at HP, we tapped the experts at Leo’s Oyster Bar, one our favorite raw bars in San Francisco, to learn everything we need to know about oysters. For example, did you know that it takes up to 18-24 months for a single oyster to fully mature? Digest that fact before you devour your next dozen oysters! With HP’s Spectre Laptop on hand, we were able to jot down notes, download our photos and edit a fun video, all while feasting on a bountiful spread. The super thin and lightweight design had made the Spectre my traveling companion as of late. I love that I can bring it with me everywhere I go, making working away from my desk a breeze. And I’m just smitten with the super chic design, which happens to compliment the gilded design details of Leo’s perfectly. Can we lunch like this every week? We can’t wait to recreate the experience at home and share it with you. Stay tuned!
And to learn more, don’t forget to check out the HP Spectre.
Za’atar is one of those spice blends that you absolutely should have sitting in your pantry along with your jar of herbs de provence and steak seasoning blend. It’s a ubiquitous Middle Eastern spice and everyone has their own proprietary blend but it often has dried thyme, oregano, sesame seeds and sumac. Sumac is a crimson colored spice made out of a sour berry that I am obsessed with since I love anything sour! Sumac is available at most major markets in the spice aisle but you’ll definitely be able to find it at any Middle Eastern market. Today, I’m showing you two easy ways to use this spice. One is a simple appetizer of labneh, creamy thick yogurt, drizzled with good extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with za’atar. The second recipe is a za’atar roasted chicken. I’ve made chicken legs here but you could just as easily use this rub on a whole chicken. Go and make a jar of za’atar now!
I told you it wouldn’t be long before I jumped back behind the controls of my diabolical shaved ice machine. I feel like a frozen mad scientist!! I just had to give you at least one more recipe while the weather cooperates . . . although who knows when things are gonna cool down here in the Bay Area. September and October are typically our hottest months. Ugh. Well, at least I have an excuse to keep experimenting with icy treats! Today’s recipe is inspired by my love of coffee + my love of New Orleans. A little homemade cold brew (although store bought could also work) mixed with some roasted chicory root syrup for that NOLA coffee flavor we all love. Pour over shaved ice and top with a drizzle of condensed milk . . . mmmagical!! But wait, there’s more! For a boozy twist, add a splash of St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur. Now, in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Let’s kick some ice!” Sorry, not sorry. 🙂
I’m one of those people who will start getting sad about the end of a vacation 2 days before the end. I do the same thing with summer. While we still have hot days and temperate summer nights, I’m already lamenting shorter days and the end of summer– which in my case means eating an insane amount of summer fruits like tomatoes. My markets are bursting with so many great varieties. I’ve made savory tomato tarts before but I had been eyeing this Ottolenghi Tomato and Almond Tart recipe for a while now so thought I’d try a new one. What piqued my interest about this one is that it’s a savory version of a frangipane tart (a sweet fruit ground almond tart). This is filled with a savory almond mixture of ground almond, ricotta, parmesan thyme and garlic. The almond paste mixes with the juicy sweet tomatoes when it’s baked and oh my, it’s perfect. You can use any tomato you’d like, but I’ve used different heirloom tomatoes which happened to look particularly delicious when I made this. Enjoy this last bite of summer!
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve had cocktail cake on my mind for months. Thankfully, there’s a baker in the house to turn my twisted fantasies into reality! Actually, come to think of it, this whole margarita cake might have been Audrey’s idea in the first place . . . even better! That said, it probably wasn’t the best timing, given the fact that Fiona’s favorite two words right at the moment are “birthday cake”, and it’s been quite the chore just to keep her little fingers away. Some serious recipe testing went into this one. First, not enough tequila. Then, too much tequila (I know, can you believe it?). In the end, I think we found the perfect balance. Because everyone deserves a slice of cocktail cake, right?! Except for Fiona . . . she can stick to chocolate. 🙂
A couple notes: four layers (2 cakes) is a lot of cake, so feel free to cut this recipe in half. I made it both ways, and it works quite nicely for either. Also, special thanks to Sarah for the lovely cake plate and silverware!! It wouldn’t have been nearly as pretty without you!