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The Humble Gourmet on Cucumbertown

Hello friends!  I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas Eve.  I wanted to drop in and tell you about a fantastic recipe sharing site, Cucumbertown.

Cucumbertown

Cucumbertown is a tribe of chefs, food bloggers and foodies sharing inspiration, recipes and delicious meals.  The lovely Sanaa A’esha, one of the organizers of Cucumbertown, asked to interview me as a “friend of the tribe.”  Of course, I jumped at the chance to talk all things food and share my recipes.  You can check out the profile here.

While you’re there, be sure to subscribe to the Cucumbertown online magazine and check out some of the other cooks.  There are some fantastic recipes and ideas being bounced around that great site.  Thanks again Sanaa!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Dark Chocolate Gingersnaps

cookieswaplogo2013

 

The day has arrived!  The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap has come to a close, and today is the day everyone who participated is sharing their delicious recipes.  

It was so much fun participating in this massive cookie exchange; definitely one to do next year as well.  How it works is this: after signing up, you are assigned 3 random bloggers to send cookies to.  A dozen cookies each, all an original recipe.  In return, 3 different bloggers send you a dozen cookies, so everyone ends up with one dozen of 3 different kinds of cookies.  Too fun, right?

Chocolate Gingersnaps 1

 

I was assigned to make cookies for Brooke from 2 Texas Gals, Crystal from Mrs. Happy Homemaker, and Khandra from Cakes by Khandra.  Let me tell you, trying to decide on one recipe was tough.  I needed to do something that would hold up well to shipping, but I still wanted to do something original and somewhat festive and holiday-like.  I finally decided on gingersnaps, with a little twist: dark chocolate gingersnaps.  I had made something similar years before, but more as a firm, wafer-like gingersnap.  These were soft and chewy, perfectly spiced and that nice rich hit of dark chocolate.  I made an extra dozen to have at the house, which were quickly devoured by both Shawn and myself.  Cookies don’t have a long life in our house.

Chocolate Gingersnaps 2

 

Speaking of which, I can’t forget about the cookies that showed up at my front door!  I don’t know if everyone that participates is this talented, or if I just got real lucky, but we had an absolute sugar feast with our shipments.  Megan from Nutrition Awareness sent maple gingersnaps, with the maple sourced from her family’s farm in Ohio.  Sweet and spicy and simple, perfect little gingersnaps.  Ace from The Toasted Sprinkle sent in “Faux-reos”: chocolate shortbread with white chocolate filling.  I nominate these to take the place of real Oreos, they were seriously that good.  And finally, Nicole from Cooking for Keeps sent us sugar cookies dipped in white chocolate with peppermint candy and pretzels.  I cannot tell you how insanely good these were.  Super soft, buttery cookies, with the sweetness of the white chocolate, the coolness of the peppermint and the salt of the pretzels.  I was deeply disappointed to only get 12; I could have eaten a truckload full of those babies.  So, so good!

Needless to say, in my humble opinion, the Cookie Swap was a great success!  If you are curious about how to participate next year, you can go here for more information.  Happy baking!  THG

Dark Chocolate Gingersnaps
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  3. 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  5. 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  6. 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  7. 1 tsp. ground allspice
  8. 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  9. 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  10. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  11. 1/2 cup sugar
  12. 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  13. 1/4 cup heavy molasses
  14. 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  15. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  16. 2 eggs, at room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cream of tartar. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar until thick. Add molasses, fresh grated ginger and sea salt; mix well to combine. Add eggs one at a time to wet ingredients and beat well. Sift dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix to combine. Work together with your hands into a large ball of dough.
  4. Scoop the dough using a 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop. Roll into balls and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake in the oven on the center rack for 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Leave on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move cookies to cooling rack. Serve at room temperature.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Monday Morning Coffee Break

Coffee Break

 

Good morning!  How was everyone’s weekend?  We did a little Christmas shopping and decorating; our house is so cozy this time of year with the tree and everything.  Now if only this cold snap would let up!  I know it’s not right to complain about 30 degree weather (especially when part of the country is in the negatives) but having lived in the Bay Area my whole life, this is particularly cold weather for us.  Everywhere you look, people are bundled up like their about to embark on a voyage to the South Pole (myself included).  So, let’s all wrap our hands around a mug of hot coffee/tea/chocolate/what have you and dive into some Monday links.

 

This article is a fascinating look at symbolism in literature; what was intended by the author and what we read into it.

How about a collection of real facts that sound made up?  Great trivia for your next cocktail party.

This is an interesting (and sure to be controversial) look at the ever-popular Paleo diet, and it’s validity within a historical and archaeological perspective.

And finally, in theme to the recipe I’ll be posting on Wednesday, the chemistry of cookie baking.

 

Wednesday I will be sharing my recipe and experience with the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  It was such fun to do, and I ended up getting bundles of delicious cookies in return.  Come back on Wednesday to learn more!

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A Lil’ Oven Baking

Well, I promised an announcement on Monday, and I’m here to deliver.  Care to see what I’ve got baking in the oven?

Cinnamon Bun 4

 

Yes, the Humble home is gaining another mouth to feed.  Shawn and I are expecting our first child in May 2014!  We are over the moon, couldn’t be more excited.  We had started trying to get pregnant at the start of the year, and then with all of my health complications, we had to put the whole baby train on hold.  But, in June, my doctor gave us the go-ahead to start trying again, and now here we are!  

I know the picture above is a literal cinnamon bun baking in the oven, but I thought what better way to announce a pregnancy on a cooking blog?  Besides, this cinnamon bun is scrumptious (adapted from The Farm Girl recipe) and you will want to bake it for yourself, with or without baby.

Cinnamon Bun 3

 

For those of you who are curious (because a lot of people are), I’ve been feeling pretty good.  Some nausea, some morning sickness, but very little.  I’ve had some pretty crazy reactions to food though.  Early on, I grabbed a handful of kettle corn for a snack (normally a favorite), and nearly spit it right back out.  It tasted like pennies.  SO disappointing.  Since then, my normally over-active sweet tooth has been seriously depleted, and all I want is cheese, pickles, and all things salty.  I had about 3 weeks where all I wanted to eat was Shawn’s spaghetti (he makes the BEST spaghetti sauce; I will post a recipe sometime for you!) cold, with cornichons.  Weird combo, I know, but it tasted amazing.  I always thought the pregnancy cravings thing wasn’t totally real, but you really do get turned off of foods and combinations you normally love and develop obsessions with other foods.  Very bizarre.

So, that’s my news.  We’re chugging along just fine with our little HB (baby’s in utero nickname: stands for “healthy baby”), and now that we’ve passed the first real milestones, we’re giddy to start sharing the news with all of our family and friends (and you of course!).  I’ll post updates as they happen, and definitely once our little bundle is here, but this will remain a food blog.  I may delve into kid and baby friendly recipes as time goes on (especially if there seems to be a lot of interest), but I’m still here, posting recipes with tons of chocolate, butter and cheese for us all to drool over.  I’m also happy to answer any questions you may have about our lil’ announcement (leave them in the comments).

Thank you for sharing in this exciting news with us.  Now, let’s eat some cinnamon buns!  THG

Cinnamon Bun 1

 

Giant Cinnamon Bun
Yields 1
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Dough
  1. 3/4 cup warm buttermilk
  2. 6 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
  3. 3 large eggs
  4. 4 1/4 cups (21 ¼ ounces) flour
  5. 1/4 cup sugar
  6. 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  7. 1 1/4 tsp. salt
Filling
  1. 8 Tbsp. melted butter
  2. 1 cup brown sugar
  3. 2 tsp. cinnamon
  4. Zest of 1 large orange
Glaze
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1 tsp. orange zest
  3. 1 Tbsp. orange juice
  4. 1 Tbsp. milk
For the dough
  1. Whisk the warmed buttermilk and butter together in a large measuring cup. Combine 4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt together in a standing mixer fitted with dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and eggs. Mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Increase to medium speed and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If after 5 minutes of kneading, the dough is still overly sticky, add a tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but has a slight tacky feel when pressed between your fingertips.
  2. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover the top tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, around 2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and orange zest in a small bowl until well mixed and set aside. Grease 1 9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  4. When the dough has risen, gently punch down and roll into a roughly 24X6-inch rectangle. Brush the melted butter evenly over the entire surface. Top with the cinnamon sugar mixture, evenly pressing the sugar mixture gently into the butter. Starting with a shorter side, roll the dough tightly into classic cinnamon roll form, pinching the edge to seal. Gently take the rolled dough and coil it around in one of the prepared baking pans. The layers will want to fall apart a bit, but they will come back together during the baking process. Lightly cover the cinnamon roll with greased plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  6. Bake the roll for 45-50 minutes, until lightly golden on top and cooked through. While the roll is baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients until smooth. Remove the cinnamon roll from the oven and using a spatula, nudge it out of the pan onto a cooling rack set over waxed or parchment paper. Drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon roll. Slice the cinnamon roll into pie-shaped wedges and serve warm.
Adapted from The Farm Girl
Adapted from The Farm Girl
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Monday Morning Coffee Break

Coffee Break

 

Good morning my loves!  How is everyone today?  Anyone get Veteran’s Day off?  Shawn did, and I am positively green with envy that he gets to enjoy an extra day.  Oh well, onwards and upwards!

 

In random history news, some recent findings have been revealed in regards to King Tut’s mummy.  Did you know it spontaneously combusted at one point?  Crazy.

Looking to improve your vocabulary?  Try some of these Victorian slang terms, and delight in the confusion on your friends’ faces.

These realistically colorized versions of historic photographs are simply breathtaking.

Buzzfeed this past week delighted us with 21 of the best things to ever happen in a restaurant.  

It’s persimmon season!  Try out some of these delicious seasonal recipes.

As you get ready to start planning your Thanksgiving meals, check out these simple party hacks.  You will wow everyone with your hosting skills.

And finally, Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker has created a recipe for homemade vanilla extract.  Must try.

 

Also, stay tuned later in the week for a special Humble Gourmet announcement!  Have a great week!

Chocolate Bavarian Cream & An Anniversary

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 2

 

Today is my second anniversary as The Humble Gourmet.  Yay!

I have so enjoyed this journey with all of you, and I look forward to sharing more recipes and stories and life events in the future.  I hope you have all enjoyed it as much as I have.

Reflecting back on the two years, I have accomplishments that I’m proud of, and more that I would like to achieve in the upcoming year.  I’ve shared some personal stories and moved to a new location.  We’ve had Coffee & Doughnuts, the Best Granola Ever, and Christmas Dessert in February.  I haven’t been as productive on the blog as I wanted to this year due to my health issues, but now I’m feeling good and rarin’ to go.  I’m hoping in the next year to have more diverse recipes, I want to develop a new series of posts (in the works now, as a matter of fact), and possibly my first giveaway!  So much more to do, I hope you’ll all be here with me for it!

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 1

 

So, in honor of this second anniversary, I’ve made chocolate Bavarian cream.  Haven’t had Bavarian cream, you say?  Well, now’s the time to try it.  Almost like a cross between a mousse and a panna cotta, Bavarian cream is smooth and creamy, but uses gelatin to hold its form.  It’s typically done in a large batch and put into a decorative mold, which is then turned out on a platter and adorned with cream and berries, but I went simple with this one.  We are a household of two, so small ramekins are a better fit for us than a large molded version.  But my goodness, were these delicious.  They were gone almost as quickly as they were set.  A little pink sea salt to bring out the chocolate, a couple of fresh raspberries (the last of the season here…boo!), and a sprig of mint and my friends, we were in business.  I know working with gelatin can be intimidating, but this dessert is practically fool-proof.  Consider it your entry to the gelatinized, set dessert club.  You won’t be sorry.

What sort of things would you like to see on The Humble Gourmet in the upcoming year?  Any recipe suggestions?  Posts?  More stories?  Let me know in the comments!  THG

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 3

 

Chocolate Bavarian Cream
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  2. 1 1/2 Tbsp. powdered unflavored gelatin
  3. 1/4 cup cold water
  4. 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
  5. 2/3 cup sugar
  6. 1 tsp. pink sea salt
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  9. 2 cups heavy cream
  10. Raspberries and fresh mint, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate over medium heat until fully melted and smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle powdered gelatin over cold water and let bloom, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, sea salt and vanilla until smooth and thick. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat milk until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat. Pour hot milk into the egg yolk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Return egg and milk mixture to saucepan and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until mixture coats the back of a spoon (about 5-10 minutes). Do not let it boil. Add bloomed gelatin and whisk to incorporate (it may bubble up; be careful not to let the mixture overflow). Add chocolate and mix until combined. Strain mixture into a clean bowl and set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer, whisk heavy cream until just before stiff peaks form (peaks should be firm, but fold over when lifted). Fold in half of the chocolate mixture until smooth, then fold in the remainder. Continue to gently fold until mixture is completely incorporated. Divide mixture among 6 small ramekins or one large gelatin mold, smoothing the top. Cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator to set, at least 3 hours.
  6. Once mixture has set, remove from refrigerator. To unmold: dip the mold or ramekin in hot water just up the sides for about 5 seconds. Run a butter knife around the edges. Turn a plate over the top and, holding onto the plate and mold, flip over. Carefully pull up the mold, wiggling gently if necessary to release the cream. Garnish with berries and mint and serve immediately.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet & An Announcement

Alright my little chickens. We’ve got a little blogging announcement and a little dessert, so let’s start with the announcement.

The Humble Gourmet has moved! I have been working the past couple of months on developing a self-hosted site, and it is now ready. I am now going to be cooking and blogging at www.thehumblegourmet.com, complete with a total website design overhaul. If you visit the current website you will be automatically redirected, but all the new content will be on www.thehumblegourmet.com. I’m really excited about this new direction for the blog, and hope you will join me in the move!

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet 4

Now, all housekeeping aside, let’s talk sherbet. I am a huge fan of sherbet; creamier than sorbet since it does have a dairy base, but much lighter and slushier than ice cream. Sherbet is the best when using fruit juices for flavoring; the lighter dairy content let’s the fruit flavor really shine.

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet 3

I had bought some lychees a couple of weeks ago with no idea how I wanted to use them. I thought about doing a panna cotta, or a mousse. Then I thought about combining it with kiwi and doing a granita. It was a lovely husband who suggested pairing the lychee with the watermelon. GENIUS. Once I had that in my mind, I knew what the best possible recipe would be: sherbet all the way.

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet 2
 

It’s a perfect combination of the two flavors; sweet and very fruity. Because both of the fruits are very sweet on their own, not a whole lot of extra sugar is required. It’s a really light flavor; a perfect summer flavor profile to close out the season. A little lime juice helps brighten everything up and really pull the watermelon and lychee out. Too, too good.

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet 1

Thank you everyone for all of your support over the past (almost 2!) years. I am so excited to keep bringing you fresh recipes and inane chatter, and hope you will join in on the conversation. THG

 

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet
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Ingredients
  1. 8-10 large lychees
  2. 1/2 small seedless watermelon
  3. zest and juice of 1 lime
  4. 1/2 cup sugar
  5. 1 tsp. sea salt
  6. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  7. 1 1/4 cup 2% milk
Instructions
  1. Peel lychees and set aside. Cut up watermelon into 1-inch pieces, rinds removed. Puree lychee and watermelon together in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Whisk lime zest, lime juice, sugar and sea salt into juice. While whisking, pour in heavy cream and milk. Whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours.
  2. After refrigerating, prepare according to ice cream maker's instructions. Freeze or serve immediately.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Monday Morning Coffee Break

Coffee Break
Hello my lovely readers!  I hope your 3-day weekend continues on as wonderfully as mine has.  We went down to Cambria for a good friend’s wedding, and spent the evening meeting new friends, laughing, and predicting what pears would be falling off of the tree in the garden (long story, but funny one).  In the meantime, enjoy a few of these quick links.

Lindsay at Love & Olive Oil has tried her hand at making tofu.  I must try this for myself.

Laura at Blogging Over Thyme made an incredibly simple and incredibly beautiful tomato & zucchini tart.  This is one to impress with.

The Kitchn has a great post about 5 ways in which to be a great dinner guest.  Excellent advice from the other end of party hosting.

Out of the kitchen and into the closet: Buzzfeed has 20 ways to improve vintage clothing.  I don’t know about you, but I will definitely be breaking out the sewing machine for a few of these tutorials.

And finally, come back on Wednesday for a special announcement

:-)
  Have a wonderful week!

Catching Up & Liebster Awards

Hi everybody!

After a much, MUCH needed rest, I am back.

First things first, I want to thank everyone for their support and good thoughts after my diagnosis. It’s been really heartwarming to know I have so many wonderful people in my corner, and I have definitely been keeping all of you in mind while I make my way through getting healthy again. I will be perfectly honest, the past two months have been a huge struggle. I had a much stronger reaction to the anti-seizure medication than I expected, and spent the first month struggling with bad tremors, balance issues, and exhaustion. I was having memory retention issues (makes sense, considering the part of my brain that is most affected by the epilepsy), and even had bouts of stuttering and stammering due to medication side effects. Work was difficult during all this, as I struggled with having the energy just to get through the day. But, it seems the worst of it has passed now. I still have occasional tremors (mostly when I am really tired or stressed), and my energy is not 100% back, but I finally feel like I have some control over my body now. I took a much longer break from the blog than I expected, but I decided that focusing on my health was my #1 priority, and I knew that you would all understand that. So, now that I am beginning to feel back to normal, I will be easing my way back into the blog. I’ve really missed you all.

So, as my first post back from my medical leave, I am going to switch it up a bit. My darling friend Emily has nominated me for a Liebster Award. You like me, right now you really like me!

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What is a Liebster Award, you ask? It’s a bit of a blogger chain letter. The blogger that nominates you posts 11 questions for you to answer on your blog. THEN, you post 11 questions and invite 5 blogger friends to answer. It’s great fun, and a lovely way to get to know others throughout the blogger community. So, without further ado, bring on the Liebster!

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1. What is your nickname? I have about a million; Jillie, Jay, J-Bird, the Bird (mainly my aunt), Scully (high school nickname), X Files (college nickname), Ladybug (camp counselor name). But, since Emily was the one that posted this question, I will also add Scullybug, a special nickname created for me by Em herself when we were 14. Love you Moemar.

2. If you could live in another era (past or future), which would it be and why? I have always had a huge connection to the 1920s and 1930s; I love the music, the clothing, the art, the culture, everything (well, except the Depression, though I do find it historically fascinating). Anyone who’s known me longer than about 15 minutes knows that I am inexplicably drawn to this period of time.

3. What would your superhero power be? I can never decide between flying and invisibility. Today, let’s go with flying.

4. Where is your favorite place to get away? The coastal redwoods, up near Oregon. I went camping there as a kid with my family and loved it so much, Shawn and I went there again for our honeymoon. So beautiful and serene.

5. What drew you to blogging? You know, not one particular thing. I was interested after talking about it with Emily, but it took me awhile before I decided exactly what it was I wanted to blog about. I finally decided to do a food blog when I realized just how much time and energy I put into food, cooking, recipe experimentation, and eating.

6. Which school subject was your favorite? Well, besides theatre, probably a toss up between English and history, especially world history and California history. I like any subject that involves some level of storytelling.

7. The five phone apps I couldn’t live without are … (In no particular order) Pandora, Instagram, Facebook, Food Network Recipes, and Candy Crush. I am SO addicted to that game.

8. What is your favorite movie? Seriously, Em? This is a really intense subject for me. I am a rapid movie buff, and I have tiers of favorite movies, based on time period, genre, writing, acting talent … but, if I have to name only one, my go-to is “An American in Paris.” One of the few truly perfect films in existence. Watch it. Watch it now.

9. Who would you most want to have dinner with tonight? My husband, of course, but, if I could pick anyone alive, I would probably have to say Stephen Sondheim. Only because I feel like I really need to meet him, and if it means inviting him to Wednesday night dinner, then so be it.

10. What do you like on your sandwich? Sourdough bread, Dijon mustard, fresh turkey, tomato, dill pickle, and green bell pepper, with a little oil and vinegar. Delicious.

11. Who are your blog idols? John and Sherry, naturally. Helene, Aran, and of course, Miss Emily herself. But Em’s been one of my great inspirations and role models for almost 18 years now.

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1. You can only eat one food for the rest of your life. All health and allergies aside, what do you eat?

2. What is the one book you can read over and over?

3. What are your top-three must read blogs?

4. What celebrity do you look the most like?

5. What is your favorite article of clothing in your closet?

6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

7. Who would be at your dream dinner party (dead or alive)?

8. What was the last thing you ate?

9. What is your favorite flower?

10. If you could go back to school and major in any subject you want, what would it be and why?

11. What would you consider your “signature color?”

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1. Kat from Mekatsu Mekatsu

2. Andrea from Tomato Tango

3. Karista from Karista’s Kitchen

4. Kristianne from My San Francisco Kitchen

5. Rachel Fawkes from FawkesHunter