Thursday, October 29, 2009

Creamy Spinach and Fontina Soup

5T olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 small yellow onion
5C chicken stock
2C fresh spinach
2C shredded fontina cheese
1C milk
1/2C cream

Combine minced garlic and onion in a food processor and pulse to combine and finely chop onion. Heat a heavy bottomed soup pot with olive oil and add onion mixture. Saute 5 minutes (until onion is translucent) and add half of the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, add salt and pepper and add remaining stock. Bring to another boil. Meanwhile, pulse spinach in the processor until it is very fine and then add it to the soup pot. Simmer 5 minutes and gently whisk in cheese (in 3 parts). Either transfer mixture to a blender or use your emulsion blender to smooth out. Return to pot and add milk and cream. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently and enjoy.

This is a delicious soup I adapted from the restaurant Tin Angel, in downtown SLC. Theirs is one of my favorite soups ever and I wanted to try making it myself. It's close but not quite what theirs is! This soup is creamy and warm and delicious served with a crusty baguette. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My First Ever Review and Giveaway!

First things first; I am STOKED to be reviewing this product and honored that they would trust me to do so. Second; If I hated this product, I would still review it and be completely honest about it. Third; I LOVE this entire line and am willing to prove that by giving three readers the chance to win a bottle of syrup. Now that that is all out of the way, I give you... Sonoma Syrup Co.

Sonoma Syrup Co. is a California based company (duh!) and creates handcrafted, artisan simple syrups as well as vanilla and almond extracts. I had the pleasure of meeting the owners at the Winter Fancy Food Show, in San Diego, January 2008. They were a company I was specifically seeking out, at that particular show. I wanted their line on the shelves of my up and coming (now sunk) gourmet food shop. I had read about them, done my research and it was time to taste! As expected, everything was delicious! Their packaging is simple and gorgeous to boot. As far as I am concerned, you can not go wrong with this product line.

Let me get to the flavors and uses... as for simple syrups, their classic syrup is as good as it gets. They add a bit of vanilla and it really kicks it up a notch (just ask Mary Malouf of Salt Lake Magazine... she stopped by my shop, picked up a bottle and fell in love)! They have a pomegranate simple syrup that makes my mouth water as I sit and type. Delicious! Used in cocktails, iced tea and sparkling water, it truly brings out a flavor you can not imagine... it's intended to replace "grenadine" and makes for a much better Shirley Temple than any old cherry flavoring I've ever tasted. Keeping in the fruit line, they make a lemon, a lime and a tangerine as well. All terrific and all unique! They have a new release and I am here to tell you that it blows the others out of the water! It is their new, Acai Black Currant. It has less sugar, more juice and is amazing! These syrups go beyond "mixers" and "sweeteners", they are so tasty drizzled over fresh fruit or yogurt, they enhance your baking and are soooooo good served alongside cheesecake! Next in line we have the cinnamon syrup. I have posted about this syrup before (I used it in a cinnamon butter cream). It's killer! I have used it in frosting, in tea and in... are you ready? Cider! Can you say mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm? It makes fresh pressed cider so fallishly perfect! They make a vanilla hazelnut that is so good in a cup of coffee, a vanilla bean, a white ginger and a lavender that absolutely make your tea and all of these can be used in your baking to your hearts content! I am giddy over these syrups! Can you tell? I am not done yet...

Extracts. Yes, yes... they are exquisite! The vanilla extract is great, the almond extract is the best I have ever used but there is another: vanilla bean extract "crush". It is all of the wonder of their original extract with the addition of split and scraped vanilla beans! All of the seeds! It's divine! You have not baked until you have baked with this extract.

Last but certainly not least, they make breakfast syrups! Two to be exact: Strawberry Vanilla and Pomegranate Maple. Pour these on french toast, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, you get the idea... make your family (and yourself) happy!

I have only positive, loving things to say about this company and all of their products. They are generous people who go out of their way to make sure their customers are happy and I enjoyed working with them. I was on 'Good Things Utah' in February and wanted to highlight their "crush" during my spot (I made creme brulee')... they were delighted and made sure I was stocked with extra cases in time for the hungry customers. They have also informed me that, since the closing of my shop, people have contacted them directly, to make sure they can get the things I am no longer selling (I might add that customers have expressed a sadness at the loss of my shop to the nice people at Sonoma Syrup.... that makes my heart smile... thanks). Check out their site, let me know if you have any questions and I am still selling a few items so, if you are interested, contact me!

The giveaway:

I have 3 bottles to give. The new Acai Black Currant, Vanilla Bean infused simple syrup and Pomegranate simple syrup are the flavors. If you want one, all you have to do is comment and let me know what you would do with your bottle. What will you bake, create or add these syrups to? What flavor sounds best? Just let me know and I will choose the 3 most tempting, yummy comments next Monday (November 2) and send your bottle to you! Have fun!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sea Salt Caramels

I have been looking for a good caramel recipe. It's been tough but I found a keeper! It's sweet and salty and chewy soft. Be patient with it and you can't go wrong. It's a great fall treat... let me know your thoughts and results if you try your own!

Combine and boil the follow ingredients until they reach a warm chestnut brown:

1 1/2C sugar
1/4C corn syrup

1/2C water

Combine in a small bowl:

1C heavy cream
5T butter
1t sea salt

Add to boiling mixture. BE CAREFUL! When the cream hits the boiling mixture, it will really boil and STEAM!!! Don't worry, just be cautious and stir, stir, stir! Add:

1t vanilla

Continue stirring until the caramel reaches 248 on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and pour into an 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper and lightly sprayed with oil. Cool in the refrigerator for at least one hour, remove and turn out onto a cutting board. Cut the square in half and roll each half into a log. Sprinkle with
more sea salt (the more the better for me!!) and slice each log into 8 pieces. I also like to cut the square into mini squares to resemble a store bought caramel. Wrap individual caramels (whatever the shape) in parchment paper and twist tie the ends.

This caramel is also excellent for dipping apples!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lemon Blackberry Jam

There has been a lot of talk of jam lately. I, personally, had never made jam before and... to be honest... the task seemed daunting. Also, I have always considered pectin "yucky." Things changed yesterday. I have been reading a bit about jam making and found a few recipes that require zero pectin (score!) and then I noticed my dear friend Susan of She's Becoming Doughmesstic (note: she is a contributor on this blog) recently made jam. Could it be that simple? She made it seem like nothing. Did I dare try? I did! I did dare! The result... fabulous, dark, not overly sweet, delicious lemon blackberry jam.

4C blackberries
3/4C sugar
3/4C lemon sugar (see below)
1/4t almond oil
1/2t vanilla

Process berries in a food processor until crushed but not completely pulverized. Combine sugars and berries in a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the sauce thickens (approx. 5 minutes), stirring frequently and remove from heat. Add oil and vanilla and mix well. Divide mixture among desired jars and turn upside down, while still hot, to seal the jar. Refrigerate after opening, otherwise store in a cool dark place.

Lemon Sucre' side note: I had a bag of lemon sugar, from France, and chose to use that as my citrus in this recipe. To make your own, combine one cup of sugar and the zest of one lemon. Shake together and add it to the fruit. It will also keep up to 2 weeks, in an airtight container.

This recipe could even use 1/2C of each sugar (in my opinion). I plan on attempting a blackberry/peach and a raspberry/plum next...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Brown Sugar Zucchini Bread

The Cast:

2C all purpose flour
1/2C dark brown
6T granulated sugar
1 1/4t cinnamon
1/2t ginger
1t nutmeg
1t baking soda
1/2t baking powder
1t salt
1C old fashioned rolled oats
3 eggs (room temp.)
3/4C vegetable oil
2t vanilla
2C grated zucchini
brown sugar for the top

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease and flour a 9x5" loaf pan. Stir together the flour, both sugars, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add oats and combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and (in a separate bowl) combine the eggs, oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry well and stir to combine. Add the grated zucchini and mix without over mixing! Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake 60 minutes and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Turn out onto a rack and cool at least 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy warm, as toast or as an amazing french toast!

I doubled the recipe and used 2 pans. The first: my Le Creuset loaf pan ( I have this pan in dark brown, which the website does not list. I love this pan! Everything turns out beautifully in it! The second: my Cuisinart loaf pan ( This is also a great pan, with great results.

This bread is delicious and easy! It is a fantastic french toast, after 3 days in your pantry. I love it served with a pat of warm butter and also with pumpkin or cinnamon butter. Those recipes to follow! Enjoy~

Pumpkin Butter:

1C unsalted butter, softened
4T canned pumpkin
1/4C granulated sugar
1t cinnamon
1t pumpkin spice

Cream all ingredients together until very smooth and serve out of a decorative bowl or mold into desired shape and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Cinnamon Butter:

1C unsalted butter
1/4C granulated sugar
2T cinnamon

Cream all ingredients together until very smooth and serve in a decorative bowl or mold into desired shape and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Notice the different loaf shape between each pan.