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Sour Cherry Caipirinha

July 5, 2012
Sour Cherry Caipirinha

Caipirinhas are the Brazilian national cocktail, and are made by crushing limes with sugar, and then mixing them with cachaca, a liquor derived from sugar cane.  I crave them every once in a while, both because of my frightening addiction to highly acidic foods, as well as their refreshing nature.  The other day I thought I would make a sour cherry version, with early Summer's fleeting tart fruit.  I have a very captive audience these days, since my grandparents are visiting, and they have long enjoyed being KC guinea pigs.  There is nothing complicated about the recipe.  I just followed our basic Caipirinha Cocktail, and after crushing the limes with the sugar, I added a few pitted sour cherries, and crushed them slightly.  At the end, I garnished the cocktail with a cherry as well.  The result is a beautiful cocktail with fuschia traces, that leaves you with some sweet and sour cherries at the end.  Enjoy!

Twice is Nice: Curried Lentils

March 7, 2011
Curried Lentils

Curried LentilsCurried Lentils

Sophia's Notes: Lately I have been obsessed with curry. Curry this and curry that. I sprinkle it on everything and crave it all the time. For our latest Twice is Nice, we decided to do a looser interpretation, and both of us just made our own version of Curried Lentils. I had envisioned some loose soupy lentils in a rich curry broth. Since I have been very into Thai food lately, I thought I would use a coconut broth. I was going to have some friends over that night, and then serve the soupy lentils over brown rice. Once I started cooking, however, my habits took over, and I got distracted and ended up making rice with lentils in the same pot. It was only after I had put the lid over the whole thing that I remembered my original intention. I used coconut oil and coconut cream to sweat shallots, ginger, scallions, and garlic. I then added Vadouvan Curry, the type of curry they use in France. I tossed in the brown rice and then added some vegetables: carrots, eggplant, and red pepper. I cooked everything in a vegan broth for 30 minutes, before adding the lentils and coconut water and cooking it more for another 20 minutes. I would have cooked the rice for only 20 minutes knowing how mushy it got in the end. Finally, I tossed in some freshly chopped cilantro and served it with goat milk yogurt for those who wanted it. I kind of wished that I had made the soupy version of the lentils, because I love having a clean rice to balance out the curry flavor, but it was still delicious. I definitely love the combination of curry with coconut milk, and almost can never resist making it that way.

Emma's Notes: We were a bit low on lentils, so I mixed mine with yellow split peas, I also added a parsnip.  The curry I usedwas a little yellow curry mix that I got in Tanzania last year. It is really nice and has a bit of spice to it and is coarsely ground.... It was an adventure poaching the egg, I think it was my first time actually.  We also ate the eggs and lentils with steamed kale, which was a good combination! I will definitely make this again... and explore other poached egg possibilities.


Mastic Brownies!

February 3, 2011
Brownies with Mastiha (Mastic)
As we all know, I am kind of obsessed with Mastiha (mastic), the Greek resin used to flavor creams and custards in the Eastern Mediterranean.  I chew on it, I cook with it, and most of my cosmetic products nowadays have it in them.  When I travel, it is one of the only things I miss from home.  So, the other day when I was at the Mastiha Shop in New York’s Lower East Side, I found a recipe for Mastiha brownies.  I never eat or bake brownies.  I am not much of a brownie/cookie person, I am much more of a cake/ice cream person.  Anyway, the mastiha factor changed this all, because my mouth started watering when I saw the recipe.  I love mastiha in chocolate, because it perks it up a bit, and gives it a similar nuance like orange peels do to dark chocolate.  Emma sent me an email a couple weeks ago about a Gingerbread with Frankincense in San Francisco, so maybe there is something to this idea of baking with resins.
The recipe was really easy to make, and I shared it with some Turkish friends, who gobbled them up right away.  The recipe is adapted from Mastiha Cuisine by Diane Kochilas, available at the Mastiha Shop NY and on their online store.  There are many other delicious recipes in this book!

Mastiha Brownies
2 sticks salted butter, plus more for buttering
8 ounces dark chocolate (you MUST use a good quality chocolate here)
4 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons mastiha powder (you can grind the resin or buy the pre-ground powder)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
½ cup chopped walnuts

Butter a 13x9 inch baking dish.  
Preheat the oven to 350F.  
Melt the butter and chocolate in a bain marie, and set aside to cool.
Beat the eggs, sugar, mastic, and vanilla in a bowl.  Once mixed, beat in the chocolate.  
Stir in the flour until well blended.  Add the walnuts, and pour into the pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is a bit crackly.  
Cool and serve.  

Colombian Fruit: A Tropical Odyssey

January 20, 2011
Colombian Fruits at the Market
When it comes down to it, my favorite thing to eat is fruit.  I love fruits of all sizes and shapes, grown in their natural habitat, and eaten in their simplest form possible.  Some fruits must be cooked down with sugar before you can eat them, such as quince, while others can be eaten right out of hand, like the apple.  One of my greatest pleasures in life is discovering a new fruit that I have never tried before, and learning about how it is eaten and when.  I think that my travel experiences are heightened by new fruits, and I openly admit that I plan some trips to Mexico around the mamey and mango season.   
I was in Colombia for a friend’s wedding recently, where I tried so many new fruits that I cannot even remember them all.  The wedding took place in Cartagena, where corozo was everywhere.  Corozo is a small red fruit that looks like a cherry and has a large seed.  It is special in the region around Cartagena, and it graced the menus of restaurants and bars in both fruit juice and cocktail form.  It reminded me a little of a cranberry, only for its slightly sour and acidic taste, but I don’t want to make too much of a comparison, because it is truly unique.  When asked about corozo, my friends from the nearby city of Barranquilla described the fruit with regional pride, and at the end summed it up with a simple, “Es delicioso.”  

When I arrived in Bogota, I not only fell in love with the city, but also with the juice of lulo.  Lulo is not exclusive to Bogota, but it was when I first started paying attention to it. The fruit is orange and has a smooth skin, similar to a persimmon, but when you cut it open, it reveals a center with a combination of liquid and seeds, like an orangey- greenish tomato.  The fruit is slightly acidic, very refreshing, and light.  Lulos have a lot of little seeds, but you don’t notice them while you drink them down.  The first day I got there, I had a lulada in the flea market of Usaquen, which is a chunky juice that you eat with a spoon.  After that, I sat down to lulo juice at almost every lunch, and one night we made a Rum and Lulo Cocktail with ginger.  Lulo goes great with vodka as well, in case you were wondering.  

Another favorite juice of mine was Guanabana, which is that large giant green fruit with a smooth white flesh, which is creamier in texture and much more subtle than Corozo and Lulo, yet no less delicious.  I always had mine mixed with water, but I was told it was better with milk.  I loved to drink guanabana juice in the morning with breakfast.  I was left wondering how many combinations I could make with guanabana, using its creaminess to my advantage in smoothies.    

The crowning glory of my Colombian fruit experience was going to Paloquemao on the last day.  It is a central market with everything from around the country.  There were so many fruits and vegetables that I had never seen before, and my friend bought a bunch to take home with her.  One of the fruits that she purchased was the Gulupa, a small purple potato-like little thing, which she believes to be part of the passion-fruit family.  There were grenadillas, chirimoyas, strawberries, blackberries, pears, apples, oranges, papayas, mangoes of all sizes, feijoas, plums, avocadoes, ground cherries, tree tomatoes, and a few more that I cannot remember the names of.  I think the next time I go to Colombia, it will be on a fruit - eating mission, and I will cover all of the fruits slowly.
Now that I am back in New York in the snow, where the crispiness of Fall’s apples has given way to that mid-Winter mealiness, I will spend my days dreaming of the bright punch of maracuya.
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