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!
Have you tried kefir before? Kefir is a cultured milk product that is similar to yogurt and has the same probiotic benefits of yogurt. It’s a bit sweeter than yogurt and slightly tart– the flavor is like a combination of yogurt and buttermilk. I’ve been on a kefir binge lately, my local super market carries different brands and types, both plain and flavored. The flavored versions are SO delicious but contain quite a lot of sugar, so lately, I’ve been buying the plain unsweetened kind and adding my own natural sweeteners. I also love adding granola for some texture. This stuff is seriously better than your typical parfait and if you’re looking to change up your breakfast routine, make this kefir bowl!
Pop quiz!! Summer is great for . . . a) grilling b) cocktails c) spending time with friends outdoors, or d) all of the above. If you answered, ‘all of the above’ then go ahead and pat yourself on the back. While you’re at it, why don’t you pour yourself a cocktail. Speaking of which, today Erica and I are celebrating summer by gathering our families together for a casual brunch. We built a simple cheese platter with grilled baguette, soft-boiled eggs, seasonal fruit, and of course, Hangar 1 cocktails! Grilled cocktails no less. After all, it is grilling season. Pluots (plum + apricot hybrid) are one of my favorite fruits to grill because I feel their flavor significantly changes when charred over the hot flame. Eaten raw, pluots have a pretty intensely sweet flavor. They’re delicious, don’t get me wrong, but rather one-note. However, as often happens when something is cooked (especially grilled) the flavor deepens. In the case of pluots, a savory tanginess emerges, that when combined with the sweet caramelization of the charred fruit, makes for a truly magical combo.
I love using Hangar 1 Straight Vodka in these situations. Perfectly balanced, fresh, and crisp, it’s the ideal vodka for fresh-picked, seasonal cocktails. I started off the party by grilling a ton of juicy pluots – that way the drinks were flowing early. For some reason grilled fruit is always a crowd pleaser. We added a few of the extra grilled pluots to our cheese platter, because if there’s anything that’s as delicious as grilled fruit + vodka, it’s grilled fruit + cheese! Anyway, I hope you enjoy these cocktails as much as we all did. Let me know if you give them a try, and/or if you’re inspired to experiment with any other grilled fruit libations. Happy grilling!