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Summer Rolls are really easy to make once you get the hang of working with the rice paper wrappers. We gather a bunch of colorful vegetables and cut them to be about the same size. We then add some fresh Dungeness crab tossed with ginger, serrano chile, and some cilantro to the mix, before topping them with crunchy cashews. The result is a light and healthy, yet filling dinner that is fun for everyone. You can play around with what is fresh at the market and add it to your Rolls. Make them with our Peach Dipping Sauce for another local Summer twist.

Recipe

This is a spin on the classic Napoleon; ours is “In Love”. The “Love” comes from the pistachio, mastic (Mastiha), and rose flavors, which are some of our favorite Love ingredients. This recipe may seem advanced, but even the novice cook will be able to take it on. You can make some of the recipe ahead of time, so as to distribute the workload in preparation of the big day. However, although there are 3 parts to its preparation, it does not take an excessive amount of time. Read through the recipe ahead of time so as to plan your cooking strategy.

For the Mastiha Pastry Cream:

2 cups half and half

½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon flour

1 teaspoon Mastiha, ground with a pinch of sugar

1 teaspoon rose water (optional)

For the Pistachio Praline:

1 cup raw shelled pistachios

½ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons water

To Assemble:

1 package store-bought puff pastry

Flour for dusting

¼ cup rose petal jam

1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk, whisked together

A pastry brush

Make the Mastiha pastry cream by heating up the half and half in a small saucepan along with one of the tablespoons of sugar. Just heat until steam rises from the top. Meanwhile, beat the yolks with the sugar until the yolks turn a pale yellow and the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the cornstarch and flour. Slowly pour a few spoonfuls of the milk over the yolk/sugar mixture and whisk to temper. Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan with milk, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and get it all out. Bring the liquid to a simmer and whisk constantly, so that the mixture doesn’t form clumps, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the powdered Mastiha and rose water.  Strain the pastry cream into a bowl set over an ice bath and stir to cool. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and store in the fridge until cold and set. The pastry cream will thicken slightly once it is cold, so keep that in mind when you are cooking it down.

While the pastry cream is cooling, make the Pistachio Praline. Lightly toast the pistachios and allow to cool. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Keep the pistachios close together and evenly distributed, as you will pour caramel over them. Place the sugar in a small saucepan with the 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer and allow the sugar to caramelize. Lightly brush down any sugar that gets stuck on the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization. Once the sugar is a deep, rich brown (you can test this by spooning a small amount on a white plate) pour over the toasted pistachios. It might seem like it takes a long time for the sugar to caramelize, but once it gets dark, it changes very quickly, so you must pay close attention. Once the pistachio/caramel becomes hard, you can either chop it with a sharp knife or grind in a food processor until it is a coarse crumble.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Roll out the store bought pastry dough according to the instructions on the package. You will want it to be about ¼” thick when you bake it.
Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out 8 heart shaped pieces of dough. Set on a slightly greased baking sheet and lightly brush with the egg wash (1 whole egg beat with 1 tablespoon of milk). This is not necessary, but it makes the final result much more attractive. Cover the hearts with a piece of parchment or wax paper and set a baking rack or cooling rack with a ledge over the tray, so that the pastry will only rise to a certain height.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the rack and top layer of paper and return to the oven at 350°F for an additional 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the pastries, because everyone’s oven is different.

Heat the rose petal jam slightly with a tablespoon of water, and strain to remove the petals. Now you have your rose petal glaze. While the glaze is still warm, brush the top of each puff heart with it and sprinkle the pistachio praline over top. Dollop a spoonful or so of mastic pastry cream in the center of four of the hearts, and top with the remaining 4 puff hearts. Lightly press down to distribute the pastry cream, but do not break your hearts (pun intended!). Keep cool until ready to serve.

Makes 4 Napoleons “In Love”.

Note: You can make the mastic pastry cream 1 day ahead and the pistachio praline up to 2 days ahead. Bake the puff pastry the day of, so as to keep it as fresh as possible.
Assemble and serve the day of.

Recipe

This salad is called the Gypsy salad because it is a melange of flavors, textures and ideas from around the world.  Blood orange, arugula, and fennel from Europe mix with jalapeno and avocado from Mexico.  Cumin, mint, and dates from the Middle East come into play as well.  Many of these ingredients, like dates, have traveled from their origin, and are now part of new cultures.  It is like us, a gypsy that never stops traveling.  The measurements are not exact, we trust that you add how much you want of each ingredient, and enjoy the journey that it takes you on.

 

Ingredients

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and outer layer removed (if bruised)

1 handful of baby arugula

1 handful of dates, pitted and sliced in quarters

a few kalamata or Moroccan black olives, pitted and sliced

1/4 of a jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1 avocado, halved and pitted

1 sprig of mint

Small handful of parsley

a handful of fresh walnuts, roughly chopped

2 blood oranges (you can substitute regular oranges or cara caras here also)

1 lime (kaffir limes welcome!)

1-2 Tablespoons sherry or rice wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of cumin and salt

 

Slice the fennel in half lengthwise, and then thinly slice each half horizontally.  Transfer to a bowl and combine with the arugula.

Add the sliced dates and olives. 

Thinly slice the jalapeno.  If you are sensitive to heat, finely mince it, but if you like more of a bite, slice it in small horizontal strips.  You only need a 1/4 of the pepper or so.

Roughly chop or tear the herbs and add to the bowl. 

Keep the avocado meat in the skin and score with a knife in long vertical slices.  Use a spoon to get under the meat and scoop out the slices over the salad bowl. 

For the dressing, zest the oranges and the limes with a zester or microplane over the salad bowl.  You will only need a little bit of the lime zest and about 1/2 of one of the orange's zest.  Slice off the top and bottom of the oranges, removing the skin and pith.  Next place the oranges, one at a time, on the cutting board and slice off the skin and pith (without going to deep!) to reveal each segment.  Working over another small bowl, slice out each orange segment carefully, allowing the juices to fall into the small bowl, and then add the segments to the larger salad bowl.  When you have finished slicing the oranges, squeeze out any excess juice into the small bowl.  Juice the lime into the bowl as well.  Stir in the cumin, vinegar, and olive oil and whisk to combine (you can just do this with a fork). 

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. 

Add the crumbled walnuts. 

Serves 2. 

This salad works as an appetizer, but it also goes beautifully on top of grilled fish like tuna or mahi mahi, or atop a grilled chicken breast. 

 

 

 

Recipe

Maple Pecan Baklava is our twist on the traditional Eastern Mediterranean dessert. Maple syrup and pecans strike an accord in this indulgent sweet that is perfect for Thanksgiving and the holiday celebrations that follow. We suggest black walnuts here for a unique flavor, but you can also use regular walnuts for the same result.  You can make this on your own, but we suggest inviting a friend over to help with the phyllo and to spend time with in the kitchen. This is enough for one 13x9 inch tray with a 2” side.

For the Syrup:

4 cups water

2 cups sugar

2 cups maple syrup

Lemon rind from 1 lemon (at least a good 2 inches or so)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon orange flower water (optional)

For the Filling:

2 cups pecans

1 cup black walnuts or regular walnuts

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons sugar

To Assemble:

3 sticks of butter

1 package of phyllo dough

1 13x9x2 inch baking tray

Pastry brush

Spoon

Make the syrup by combining the water, sugar, and maple syrup in a small saucepan with the lemon rind. Bring to a boil and simmer until it has reduced slightly and gains a syrupy consistency. It should lightly coat a spoon. Remove from the heat, and add the lemon juice and orange flower water. Allow the syrup to cool completely and set in the fridge to chill.

Meanwhile, pulse the nuts, cinnamon, and sugar together in a food processor until they are coarse crumbles. Transfer to a bowl.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and keep warm.

To Assemble: It is important to organize your workspace before you get started on this assembly process. You will need to keep the stack of phyllo covered with a sheet of plastic wrap and a wet towel as you work. It is good to have 2 people work on this together, so that 1 person can always make sure the phyllo stays damp.
Keep the butter, pastry brush, and the bowl with the nut mixture near by.

Start with a sheer coating of butter on the baking pan. Add a layer of phyllo and brush gently with butter, coating the whole sheet lightly. Repeat with another 3 layers of phyllo for a total of 4. After the 4th layer, add a sprinkle of the nut mixture onto the phyllo after brushing it with butter. It is important to lightly sprinkle the nuts evenly across the whole layer of phyllo. Layer with 2 phyllo sheets, each brushed with butter, then repeat with a layer of nuts. Follow by 1 layer of phyllo. Continue this pattern of 1 layer of nuts, followed by 2 layers of phyllo (each brushed with butter), followed by 1 layer of nuts, followed by 1 layer of phyllo, until you are done with your nuts, and you have 4-6 phyllo sheets leftover. You should have about 7 layers of nuts at this point. Top with the remaining 4-6 phyllo sheets and brush the top generously with the remaining butter. Slice the baklava in a diamond pattern by using a sharp knife (preferably slightly serated).

Bake in a 340ºF oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This seems like a wide range of time, but it is dependent on the heat of your oven. Check the baklava after 30 minutes, and then time accordingly. Remove the baklava from the oven when the top is crisp and lightly browned. Pour the cooled syrup over the entire baklava slowly, so that it can be absorbed.

Allow to rest for at least 12 hours before eating.

This Autumnal baklava is rich and delicious. Instead of following a traditional recipe, we used maple syrup and pecans for a seasonal twist. It is meant to be shared, so gather your friends and family to enjoy this delicacy!
November 25, 2009   |   0 comments
Tags: Desserts, Fall, Middle East and North Africa, Nuts
Recipe

1 liter almond milk
1 cup almonds, soaked in water for 4 hours
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons dried lavender
1 sprig tarragon

Blend the almond milk, almonds (strained of the soaking liquid), sweetened condensed milk and sunflower seeds together in a blender until smooth.
Add the lavender and tarragon and continue to blend. Add ice and blend to crush the ice.
Strain and pour into 4 cold glasses.

September 28, 2009   |   0 comments
Tags: Drinks, Nuts
Recipe

Sicily was under Arab rule for 400 years. The Arabs greatly improved the agricultural methods and introduced many crops to this fertile Mediterranean island. They also left many culinary traditions, one of which is the love of stuffed foods. This dish is for eggplants and red peppers stuffed with couscous, another Arab-Siculian legacy, which is seasoned with typical Sicilian ingredients. This may look long, but once you get the gist of what is going on it is quite easy. Feel free to increase the proportions of ingredients if you are feeding more people. We also encourage you to adapt the recipe to what you have on hand: substitute raisins for currants, salt and oregano for the Middle Eastern spices, and add capers and parsley if you do so please. You may also just want to use eggplants or just red peppers. If you use just red peppers, you may want to add some diced pepper where you would add the eggplant flesh in this version.

Olive oil
1 tablespoon raw shelled pistachios
1 tablespoon pinenuts
1 baby eggplant
1 red bell pepper
1/4 cup yellow onion, small dice
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Pinch cumin, coriander, and cinnamon
1 tablespoon finely chopped anchovies, or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon dried currants
2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
½ cup couscous
¾ cup vegetable or chicken broth, brought to a boil
Optional: 1 tablespoon bread crumbs + 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

Heat up the oven to 375°F.
Slice off the top of the eggplant. Trim the tip of the bell pepper (you don’t have to take off the whole top). Slice both vegetables in half lengthwise.
Slice a cross-hatch pattern across the inside halves of the eggplant. Use a paring knife to slice away the white veins and seeds of the pepper.
Brush both vegetables with olive oil, inside and out, and place face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the flesh of the eggplant is soft. Remove from the oven, and when the eggplant is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh, while keeping the outer skin in tact.
Roughly chop the flesh.

Heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium high flame. Add the pistachios, and after about 1 minute add the pine nuts. Toast in the oil until light brown. Transfer the nuts to a plate and reserve.
Add the onions to the oil and sweat until soft, seasoning with a little salt along the way. Add the minced garlic and season with the spices.
Stir in the anchovies, lemon zest, currants, mint, and mix everything together well.
Tip in the couscous. Make sure the couscous is well mixed with the ingredients in the pan, and pour over the boiling broth. Stir and cover with a lid. Let steam for 5 minutes.
Scoop the couscous into the vegetable shells and top with either our Red Pepper Sauce, or simply garnished with mint.

Serves 2 people.

Recipe

Amlou is a Moroccan almond paste made with argan oil and honey. It is incredibly nutritious, as argan oil is rich in vitamins A and E. It is known to be a powerful aphrodisiac. Usually it requires much more argan oil, but we made ours more of a confection heavy on the honey, with only an accent of argan. You can buy argan oil through Alili Morocco, but you could also substitute olive oil, walnut oil, or another nut oil that you fancy.

1 cup raw almonds
½ cup raw honey
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon argan oil

Grind the nuts to a fine powder in a food processor. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the honey. Add the cinnamon and oil, and stir again. Store at room temperature or in the fridge in a clean jar.

How to serve: We love this stuffed inside halved and pitted plums. The slight tang of the plums is perfect for the rich sweetness of the amlou.
You can also spread it on bread or crackers as a condiment, or stuff dates with it, as in our Movie Dates.

Recipe

For the Crab:
½ lb Dungeness crab meat
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil (or olive oil if you don’t have sesame)
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Mix together the crab, ginger, sesame oil, lime juice, and rice wine vinegar in a small bowl and keep cold until ready for use.

For the Rolls:
12 rice paper rolls
½ peach, sliced in thin strips
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, de-seeded, and julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut in thin strips
1 cucumber, peeled and cut in thin strips
1 handful fresh cilantro
a few sprigs of mint or shiso leaves
¼ cup toasted cashews or peanuts, crumbled

The idea here is to have all of the vegetables and peach cut in the same way, so they can line up together inside the roll. Try to get them all to be about 5 inches long, and cut in thin strips. Place the peach, red pepper, carrot, avocado, and cucumber side by side on one long plate (as in an assembly line). Have the herbs rinsed and ready on another plate, as well as a third small dish with the toasted nuts.

Dip the rice paper rolls 1 or 2 at a time in a bowl with hot water. Remove them one at a time, and place on a cloth towel. Spread out so it is the full circle, and dab with the cloth to dry off any excess moisture. They should be slightly damp, but sticky.
Place one piece of peach and each vegetable in the center of the circle. Top with a few pieces of herbs, the crab, and finally the nuts. Bring up the bottom flap to cover the bottom of the veggies, fold over the top, and then roll in each side to seal.
Repeat with the remaining rolls and serve with the dipping sauce.

Makes 12 rolls.

Recipe

This ice cream sundae with freshly toasted hazelnuts is a treat from the Willamette Valley, Oregon. It combines fresh filberts from Hentze's farm in Junction City, Oregon, along with colorful raspberries, and a local brand of dark chocolate ice cream made from coconut milk. It is simple in its preparation, yet euphoric in its manifestation.

1 pint ice cream (a variety of flavors work for this- chocolate and brown sugar are some suggestions, although vanilla would be a no-brainer)
½ pint fresh raspberries, yellow and red if possible
½ cup fresh filberts, dry toasted and chopped
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the whipped cream by whipping the heavy whipping cream to soft peaks. Stir in the crème fraîche, confectioners sugar, and vanilla, and whip until it holds stiff peaks.
Serve a few scoops of ice cream, throw in the berries, and top with the crème fraîche whipped cream. Scatter over the shopped filberts.
Serves 4.

Fresh red and yellow raspberries from the <a href="http://lanecountyfarmersmarket.org/" target="_blank">Eugene Farmer's Market</a>, toasted local filberts, whipped cream and creme fraiche atop some delicious ice cream... This Oregon-inspired sundae is the perfect antidote to a long day in the hot sun.
June 24, 2009   |   1 comments
Tags: Coconut, Desserts, Local, Nuts, Summer
Recipe

Muhammara is a delicious Middle Eastern dip recipe using roasted red peppers and walnuts as the main ingredients. Many recipes call for bread crumbs, but the chef that taught me how to make it uses stale bread soaked in water, which gives it lovely body. We recommend muhammara as an appetizer for parties, as you can make it up to 2 days ahead of time, and simply serve it in a nice dish with pita chips.

1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon salt
3 roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded, and de-veined*
2 pieces of stale bread, about ½” thick
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted and cooled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
5-7 mint leaves, thinly sliced

Soak the stale bread in some water for a few minutes until moist. Remove from the water and squeeze out any excess liquid.
Meanwhile, begin to grind up the garlic and salt in a food processor.
Add the roasted red peppers, bread, and walnuts, and continue to grind.
Pour in the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and olive oil; season with the cumin, red pepper flakes, and mint. Continue to grind until everything has mixed together thoroughly.
Muhammara is not meant to be a smooth paste, but should have a chunky texture.
Makes about 2 cups.

* You can buy roasted red peppers already prepared to save time. If you want a fresher taste, toss the peppers with some olive oil and roast in a 400 F oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly blistered all around. Remove from the oven and cover with a towel or plastic wrap for about 15 minutes, or until completely cool. De-stem, peel off the skin, and remove the seeds.