Passover Potluck: Honeyed Kumquats

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

So this thing right here. This.

You want this.

Kumquats preserved in honey.

It is all that it sounds to be. Sultry, sexy, seductive. Kosher. (Sexy kosher.)

I've teamed up with the ever fabulous history buff and kitchen scholar, Tori Avey, for her annual Passover Potluck. She challenged a few non-Jewish food bloggers to try and cook something nifty following the proper Passover culinary guidelines. For a lapsed Lutheran like myself than meant kumquats and honey.

I highly recommend it, so get yourself over to and check it out.

Wine and Cheesy Poofs

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

-Cheesy poofy goodness.-

"I'm bringing champagne," might well be the most uplifting sentence in the history of mankind.

I have a few friends who work in wine, and Chris - who brings me champagne and the occasional rose of interest - is one such person. He's a former opera singer turned semi-professional sommelier who both adores and despises his line of work. When it comes to enological knowledge he's a man that - by the young age of late-twenty-something - has earned his stripes.

Even better is the fact that he's rather blasé about his line of work - which is a good thing, I think. There's been actual conversations of what wine pairs well with what Star Trek series. I firmly believe that is information that should be put on a poster somewhere because when is that not going to come up at some point? Furthermore, while I trust his expert opinions on what wines to buy at my very nonprofit-slash-freelancer budget, I've seen him hold up a bottle and, upon my inquiry, his response was, "I don't know. It was $8."

One must appreciate a wine aficionado who chucks pretense for Two Buck Chuck.

Yet, the last thing he'll want to do is cook something up to pair with wine. Or, talk about it when he's not at work. God forbid you recommend taking a trip to a winery on your vacation as it will induce a cringe so fierce it will reverberate out from his body and shake the very walls of the room you're in.

So as he texted that, indeed, there would be champs I proposed to make cheesy poofs - or as I suppose some like to call them gougeres. (Grammarians and linguists, please use the grave accent in your head as I cannot for the love of god recall how to type it.) Bits of egg and flour mixed with a practically inappropriate amount of cheddar and Parmesan baked into airy, crispy puffs.

Terribly addicting and the perfect pairing for champagne. If you desire you can cut them open and stack  them with aioli, arugula, and pancetta for simple sliders. What I love most is how stupidly easy they are: Boil. Mix. Spoon. Bake. Yet the payoff is huge and upon eating them hot out of the oven you're considered a pastry wizard and that's a pretty darn awesome title to have.

Indeed, if there is a most complimentary sentence in the English language, then it must be, "I'm baking gougeres!"

I've been using this recipe as of late. It's a few more dishes, but there's no pastry bag involved (which I love) and I find the consistency is far more reliable than others I have tried. Give it a whirl and let me know how it pairs with your bubbles.

Garrett out.

P.S. If you haven't yet, I would highly encourage you to please follow my Instagram account. Instagram is what I've been using for images for this blog for sometime now, but I realized I never really promoted it. Ever. So, please be sure to subscribe. You'll find a lot of food porn that never makes it to the blog! User name is protogarrett, because some dumb hooker has been sitting on vanillagarlic for three years and not using it.  

 -For all your drinking needs.-

Thoughts About Turkish Delight

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. … At first Edmund tried to remember that it is rude to speak with one's mouth full, but soon he forgot about this and thought only of trying to shovel down as much Turkish Delight as he could, and the more he ate the more he wanted to eat … .

At last the Turkish Delight was all finished and Edmund was looking very hard at the empty box and wishing that she would ask him whether he would like some more. Probably the Queen knew quite well what he was thinking; for she knew, though Edmund did not, that this was enchanted Turkish Delight and that anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves."

-The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I devoured the Narnia books as a child as much as Edmund devoured this now legendary Middle Eastern candy. Growing up the only Turkish Delight I had ever encountered were those terrible stale squares that became oddly popular gifts in the nineties. Everyone loved to give them, but god forbid you receive. Crunchy exteriors with far too gummy interiors enrobing stale nuts and fruit in sugary prisons.

Still, I was always curious to try the real thing, and for a recent Lebanese-themed dinner party I figured that now was a fine time to try.

They're easy to make, but the result is somewhat dichotomous...

Fresh Turkish Delight is definitely an acquired taste. Somewhere between jell-o and marshmallow sit the wobbly, brightly colored candy. If the texture doesn't appeal than the rose water flavoring might not either. Recipes require heavy pours of the stuff. In addition, the only ingredients are cornstarch, sugar, gelatin, and water. Not exactly a miracle pill.

The result is an incredibly sweet, overtly perfumed candy with a rather odd chew. I found it lovely, but after two pieces I had had my fill for the year, which seemed to be the total judgment from the table. One piece is dandy. A second a dare. A third is unthinkable.

Still, Edmund eventually betrays his siblings upon hearing from the White Queen that, "there are whole rooms full of Turkish Delight" at her castle, so perhaps TD is just the sweetie for you.

Just remember that if you do get a taste for it, that Turkish Delight may become a rather nasty habit. Remember Edmund…

"He had eaten his share of the dinner, but he hadn't really enjoyed it because he was thinking all the time about Turkish Delight—and there's nothing that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food."

Apricots and Kumquats: Fighting the Nor Cal Winter

Saturday, February 14, 2015

-Royal Rosa apricot blossoms. This tree is only a few years old and it's going bonkers.-

Somehow we will survive this trial. I know you on the East Coast are going on your, what, tenth snow day is some places? Roads are shut down. You're trapped in your home with children (read: ankle-biting, stir-crazy goblins). You're doing things like salting the drive and snow-plowing, things I've only heard about in stories.

We on the West Coast are suffering as well. Have you heard about the record drought? The utter lack of water from the sky? It might mean nothing to you now, but when California is producing much of the meat and produce the rest of the nation consumes you'll feel it in your pocket book this spring and summer when the cost of fruits and vegetables skyrockets to two bucks per stick of celery.

-Too. Many. Kumquats.-

I'm trying my best to survive it. This Valentine's Day I braved into the 80 degree weather in shorts and a t-shirt. I plucked fifteen pounds of kumquats off the tree. Took an hour. Tree is laughing at me. Telling me to 'eff off. It groans in a mocking tone wighted with easily another hundred pounds of fruit.

Bernadette the Apricot Tree is in full freaking bloom. In February. The hell? At this point I almost have to hope there's no crazy rain storm like last year when spring hit us in February. All the stone fruit bloomed early and crazy March rains knocked off every last blossom and fruit. (It's why your cherries were so bloody pricy in 2014.)

It's a burden, but we Californians will survive.

Do not weep for us, rather, cheer us on.

Garrett out.

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