HAPPY NEW YEAR IN MY KITCHEN!


And another year starts!  I am feeling more energetic than ever, so be ready for a lot of cooking, a lot of baking, maybe some more daring culinary projects coming from this bewitched spot.  I start 2018 inviting you for a virtual stroll around our kitchen, a tradition started by Celia and now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. Stop by their virtual spots to say hello, will you?

And now, grab my hand and let’s get this party started!

Gift… So many gifts to show you, I feel I could almost do a full IMK post just with the goodies we’ve received for the past three months.

From Ms. A & Dr. S, our grad student & post-doc couple in the lab…

Addictive in a delicious way: Dry Samosas. You probably know too well how amazing samosas are?  Well, in India they turned them into snacks you buy ready to enjoy. This particular kind is super spicy, which is good, because one or two are satisfying, no need to go on until you reach the bottom of the bag…

Straight from India, from our student Mr. A, very nice sweets, the round, orange ones are made with besan flour, and are called Besan Ka Laddoo.  Sweet, exotic, wonderful, but my favorite is the other one, Kaju Katli made with ground cashews and milk, The edible silver leaf decoration makes it so elegant… It is simply divine!


From Uzbekistan, a beautiful tea set offered by the parents of our student, Dr. Y.  In my ignorance, I knew nothing about the sophisticated way tea is enjoyed in that country. Apparently, these authentic sets are hard to find, so I am forever grateful for having received them as a gift. You can read all about it here. And a very similar tea set is shown in the article. It made me feel on top of the world!

From our friend Cindy, the most colorful spreaders known to mankind. Don’t you think they have my name written all over? I knew you would agree… And do you see the green plate they are laying on? That was a gift from Cindy when I started my blog! How cool is that? Almost 9 years ago…


Still from Cindy, the latest cookbook by Christopher Kimball, in his new phase after leaving America’s Test Kitchen. The book is simply great. If you don’t have it, you need it.

My friends definitely know me well… another colorful offering, coming all the way from England! Our friend Denise sent me this planner, perfect for the list-maniac I am. Pages and pages to make lists, notes to self, stickers… I adore it! Confess to inaugurating it a couple of weeks before Christmas (sorry, Denise!).



From Phil, a new coffee mug from our favorite British ceramic artist, Mary Rose Young. Full disclosure: I broke one of our old ones, and almost had a fit, because Phil had given it to me years ago. He immediately went to work at ebay and within a few days, surprise surprise!  I know, I am a very lucky wife…


From a very dear friend Heather, from California, persimmons from her own backyard! She and her husband are amazing gardeners, you cannot imagine how many tomato plants they harvest every year in sunny California, and all sorts of veggies. These persimmons were the best we’ve ever tried.


From one dear departmental colleague at KSU, Ms. B…. sweets she made herself. Does she know I am crazy about white chocolate? Perhaps… I tell you, these are (ahem… were) amazing!

From our dear friends Marijo and Vlad, two – count them two – bottles of a balsamic vinegar that will make you go weak in the knees.  I swear I want to make a filling for macarons involving roasted strawberries and balsamic vinegar. I must go to work on this very important endeavor.

From Phil, the most amazing early Christmas gift (it was delivered a few days early)… an electric smoker!  We had enjoyed great smoked food during a visit to one of our friends in Michigan, and flirted with the idea of getting one. Well, there it is, sitting in our patio, a brand new Cookshack, great match for our home, aka The Love Shack..   (wink, wink). We’ve already enjoyed a couple of recipes and soon I’ll be sharing them with you.

And that wraps up the gifts we got since my last virtual tour through the Bewitching Kitchen… didn’t I tell you I could pretty much do a full post with them?  But, let’s move on…

In Our Kitchen…

Before the great meteorological disaster of 2017 (aka arrival of winter), we managed to harvest all the basil and the peppers produced in our backyard, thanks to the gardening efforts of my beloved husband.  I processed all the basil (trust me, it was a lot, the photo doesn’t show all of it), and made little portions of basil with olive oil, a touch of vitamin C to keep it nice and green. Then, when we need to use basil for a salad dressing, a sauce, or to turn it into real pesto, we are pretty much ready.


In our kitchen….

Phil’s new obsession… Jams from Maury Island Farm… he’s found it for the first time at a Trader Joe’s in Portland, OR. It was a single-flavor type, strawberry jam. The moment he took his first taste, he was completely obsessed by it. Went online, bought some more flavors, and ended up offering it as a gift for several of our friends. Even though I don’t care at all for jams, I had to try it because he would not take no for an answer – “Sally, you HAVE to try this, you will love it… trust me…C’mon, just a tiny bit”  And so I did. Indeed, it IS very nice.  I could macaron-it at some point…  (sorry, I have my own obsessions, as you may have noticed).

In our kitchen…

 

Two items to add interesting flavors to desserts… such as macarons, maybe? You’d think? A pumpkin spice extract (which I already used for macs a couple of months ago), and bergamot essential oil. Apparently it is a wonderful match for blueberries, so you can predict what will happen in our kitchen at some point. Essential oils are very strong, one or two drops will be more than enough to flavor a buttercream, a ganache,  a custard. Fun ingredients to play with, which I learned from a great cookbook called The Sweet Spot.

In our kitchen…


A new cookbook, very beautiful, it comes in a box wrapped in thin paper like a special sweet boxed in a store in Paris… I suppose you won’t be surprised that it comes from Ladurée, the legendary macaron maker, but the book covers quite a few other French delicacies…

In our kitchen….


I guess you can call us easily obsessed? We were watching old episodes of The Great British Bake Off on youtube and in those early years they offered little tours around UK. In one particular show they focused on Scottish shortbread. Phil remembered seeing boxes of those at our local Marshall’s. To make a long story short, he stopped by and grabbed one box. Then another. Then I stopped by and bought one “for him.”  Yeah, we’ve been enjoying those very very much. In small doses, but with certain regularity, I must admit. They melt in the mouth. They make me happy. I like being happy. End of story.

In our kitchen….


Talk about an exotic ingredient!  This is it. Poha,  a flattened rice from India. Have you ever heard of it? Thanks to our graduate student Ms. A, I bought a bag. And have been researching recipes. Stay tuned…

In our kitchen…


I blame my obsession (there we go again) with The Great British Bake Off on many of the items in this post. One more for you, stem ginger. Apparently very common in the UK, it is ginger cooked in a simple syrup and gives unique flavor to desserts. I was wondering how to obtain it in the US, until one day I saw one bottle (yes, just one) at our Marshall’s. Gotta love that store… shortbread cookies, stem ginger, exotic extracts, it’s a cook’s dream! My first recipe using it will be a lemon tart that got amazing reviews by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, when one of the contestants made it.

In our kitchen….


A bag of candied orange peel. This is one very important ingredient for panettone, and one that can make or kill the recipe. I know that it’s possible to make my own, but having a good product available makes it a lot easier. This one is really nice, the taste is fresh and bright and the texture perfect.

 

In our kitchen….


Another ingredient I am looking forward to using soon… chestnut puree… yeah, sounds very special and of course could even be geared towards the making of a certain French delicacy made with almonds and egg whites…

In our kitchen…


A special, sturdy wooden spoon, simple but mandatory tool to make choux pastry.

In our kitchen…

Talking of choux pastry… Some éclairs did happen… but I need a little more practice before sharing my adventures with you. Still, they turned out quite mesmerizing to some….

In our kitchen…


A little single-function gadget, which normally I would not be too wild about. But this one is a green bean slicer. We eat green beans with almonds quite often, and Phil loves the texture they get when prepped this way. We found it at ebay.  If you’d like to see it in action, here is an 11 second video featuring the resident George Clooney. Better than the original, obviously.

In our kitchen…


Could not resist bringing this home.. purple, one of my favorite colors, and the message? Perfect!  Well, the only way to make it better would be with “children” instead of “child.”  But I am not too picky…

And since the word dog just popped up…

I am forced to allow our pups to bark their piece… Without further ado,  let’s see what the Magnificent Trio has been up to in the past three months…

Bogey continues to feed his reputation of The Greatest Destroyer of Balls and Dog Toys

Although Oscar thinks his methods are better, and he does it with a lot more sex-appeal….

Whereas others? Others have class and dignity. Much needed in this world, if you ask me.

Bogey is always ready to play (photo taken at 6:05 am)…

and, truth be told, there is one toy he never managed to destroy, a back massager that was never born to be a dog toy, but I highly recommend it if you have a pup with excessive enthusiasm around…

The pups have been through many great moments… like the anticipation of Turkey Day

and its unavoidable consequences….

Exercising their fast reflexes…

Chilling out with Mom…

.
Being immortalized on a plate…
(we are still searching for one for Osky, so far no luck!)

But he doesn’t let that bring him down. He’s
The Bad Ass Who Shall Not Be Bothered

As it is often the case, into every life a little rain must fall… and for the pups, that also applies… we’ve had a few trips…

 

Yes, the kennel happened, more than once…

But they know we always come back to rescue them to their forever loving home….

THAT’S WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT….   

That is all for now, folks… We hope you enjoyed this sort of long virtual tour through the Bewitching Kitchen…


FROM OUR HOME TO YOURS:

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: Happy New Year!

THREE YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye

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IN MY KITCHEN: OCTOBER 2017

Bogey Art, courtesy of our dear friend Denise, from UK

Time to invite my readers for another virtual tour of our kitchen, a tour that usually takes place every three months, so there’s a lot to talk about.  As I mentioned many times, credit should go to Celia who started the IMK series many years ago, and to Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings, who is hosting the event now. Stop by her site to say hello.

Starting with gifts…

From a former graduate student, Lorne

Straight from New Zealand, a honey infused with kiwi. Spectacular… Not sure how he was able to find it, but I’m sure glad he got a bottle for us

From a colleague in our department….

Bel Murabba, something I had never even heard about. You can learn more about it here. This one is a type of apple that is used exclusively in this type of preserve in India. It is stored in a heavy syrup, you simply rinse it well and enjoy a slice of the fruit. Apparently it is great for improving digestion.  It reminded me of a Brazilian delicacy called ‘goiabada” which is made from guava fruit.

From our friend Cindy…

A lemongrass plant she brought when she visited us a few months ago. Phil took good care of it, and it really exploded into a huge, healthy plant in our backyard, living in perfect harmony with our basil and a few Serrano pepper plants. I feel incredibly virtuous when a recipe calling for fresh lemongrass has me walking outside with a pair of scissors. Thank you, Cindy, for making it possible.

From one of our graduate students…

The best caviar I ever tasted. The best. You know how caviar can taste fishy sometimes? I don’t “do” fishy very well. Well, this one is the smoothest, most amazing, creamy, luscious, delicious caviar ever. Cannot thank him (and his parents who actually brought it) enough.

From Phil…

Four little vintage plates he found at an antique store in Norman, Oklahoma, during a visit last July. I love them!

Moving on to regular items…

In our kitchen…

Small vintage Pyrex dishes I bought at the same antique store. They have a full room devoted to those, I wanted to grab a lot more pieces, but storage is a problem, so I settled for these.  Adorable…

In our kitchen…

Sucanat, a sweetener derived from cane sugar with a bit of molasses taste to it, but not exactly like brown sugar. It is similar to jaggery and rapadura (the Brazilian homolog of piloncillo). America’s Test Kitchen great book “Naturally Sweet” uses sucanat in plenty of their recipes. A fun ingredient to play with.

In our kitchen…

Humongous caper berries. They are not very easy to find, so when I saw them for sale at Marshalls I pounced on the bottle like Buck on a snake.

In our kitchen…

Pineapple-infused vodka. We saw this concoction on a cookbook and Phil was intrigued. Basically you cut up a pineapple, add vodka to cover, keep in the fridge for 2 weeks. Drain the vodka, discard the pineapple pieces. The now pineapple-infused vodka can be used to make pineapple-tinis or any other drink your imagination comes up with.

In our kitchen…

Makoto Japanese Ginger Carrot dressing.  I don’t normally go for bottled salad dressing, but my friend Tracy recommended it. It is very tasty! Not too sweet, in fact in terms of carbs this dressing is quite moderate:   Excellent on cole-slaw, spinach salads, or squirted with abandon over turkey burgers.

In our kitchen…

That time of the year. Pumpkin time. How could I resist this bag of pasta? No need to answer that. I could not. I did not.

 

In our kitchen…

Another Marshalls gem. A huge bottle of fantastic roasted cashews. When I am hungry while making dinner, a few of those do a great job tidying me over until the meal is finally ready to be devoured.  Phil will often have a Wasa-cracker smeared with peanut butter and some of those cashews on top for lunch. Very delicious.

In our kitchen…

Fresh basil from our backyard, almost at the point of harvest before the first frost (these two simple words are like a couple of sharp swords stabbing my heart).

In our kitchen…

Star-shaped edible glitter… Because, macarons… (stay tuned)

In our kitchen…

Two new decorative items… a cute (perhaps slightly kitschy) elephant, and a small candle holder I found at a store in Silverthorne, Colorado last month. The elephant had high hopes for a warm welcome to our pack, but sadly, it was not exactly the case (read on).

In our kitchen…

A little bit of public service, in the form of a picture (taken in the lab, actually) to show you how much sugar is present in ONE can of Coca-Cola. Thirty-nine grams. Nobody, absolutely nobody needs this amount of sugar in one sitting. Or two..  Or three… A full 20-ounce bottle packs 65 grams. Shocking, isn’t it? Now, back to our regular programming.  😉

In our kitchen…

A mug that I ordered from gearbubble, with a favorite picture of Buck, my little Tim-Tam, my little munchkin…  Isn’t that adorable? It melts my heart every time I take a sip of my evening tea. And since I spoke of Buck….

 IT’S DOGGIE TIME!

For three months the pups patiently waited to say hello, but now, tails furiously wagging, here they are!

The morning routine changes very little in our home… Bogey’s food bowl is always full to the top, and not a molecule of nutrient is left behind when he is done, 2 and a half minutes later.

Oscar seems to find new objections to food items with every passing month…

 

But poor Oscar had some bad karma flowing his way…
He’d developed a small abscess on his neck that had to be drained.

Hi, friends… My name is Oscar For the Love of God Stop, and I am here all groggy from my torture at the vet. They said I will be ok, not sure I believe them.

Mom and Dad gave me lots of treats and petting… Maybe I should go back to the vet next week again?

Maybe Mom and Dad gave my brother a lot of attention, but Mom dressed to complement MY beautiful fur, not theirs! How about that for special attention?

Plus, Dad helps me stretch in the morning!  I don’t see him helping my two silly brothers.


Well, I can stretch on my own. What matters is, I am the one with the photo on the mug, and Mom told me she got this necklace made to match MY beautiful paws. So there!

I am just sexy. And I know it….

 

Seriously, Osky?  You must be kiddin’ me!

Mom brought a new friend home…  We are not quite sure what to make of him.
Something about his smell does not feel right to us. Any of us.

 

But into every life, a little rain must fall…

Yes, unfortunately we’ve had quite a few trips lately, and the pups had to endure some time in The Dark and Scary Place, as my friend Jill describes it. But they know that this is their forever home, and Mom and Dad never leave  for too long…

They all promised to be very well-behaved forever. Which, in dog time is a bit tricky to determine.
Should we trust them? 

Would we ever lie to our humans? What do you think?

 

Thank you, Sherry for hosting! I invite my readers to stop by Sherry’s Pickings to take virtual tours of many kitchens around the world!

ONE YEAR AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

TWO YEARS AGO: Coxinha de Galinha: A Brazilian Delicacy

THREE YEARS AGO: Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp Skewers

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Simple Dinner

FIVE YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

SIX YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

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IN MY KITCHEN – JULY 2017

Time to invite you for a virtual walk through the Bewitching Kitchen. Time passes fast, things change, but it’s important to give credit to  Celia who started this event years ago. It is now hosted by Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings, so make sure to stop by both sites to say hello when you have a chance. My last participation was three months ago (!!!) so there’s a lot to talk about. Are you ready?

First, I like to start talking about gifts…

The amazing colleagues from our department sent me a care package when I arrived back from Brazil after the death of my Mom. The reason is sad, but their gesture so sweet… Thank you!

From our post-doc Somnath, a gorgeous Chinese bowl that he got for me while in a scientific meeting in Los Angeles. Intense blue, I always use it to serve rice. It is what we could call a perfect match.  Thank you, Somnath!

From Phil, one more coffee cup for our collection, one more ebay find from the British artist Mary Rose Young. It is all happy next to its sister with the rose decoration on the handle. The coffee art produced by my beloved is a Chinese ideogram that means I love you forever (well, don’t show this to any Chinese person, let it be our secret).

My gift to Phil… his immersion blender was in bad shape, the blade would come out while spinning, and we had to stop, unplug it and push it back. Very dangerous, I could easily see myself losing the tip of my finger in some absent-minded move.  This one works very well, and it came with a small food processor as a bonus. We are both very happy with his gift (wink, wink).

In our kitchen…


Found this honey at Marshalls. It comes from avocado flowers.  I am not a honey connoisseur, but apparently monofloral honey is highly praised. This one is quite dark and intensely flavored. Plus the label is so stylish, I could not resist. I sometimes shop with my eyes first… 😉

In our kitchen…

I have not tried these yet, but they are supposed to give beautifully flat cakes, without that irritating “dome effect.” I confess I’ve had them for a while, and only remember they exist after the cake is out of the oven. Yeap, I do research for a living. It surprises me too.

In our kitchen

For a cake-o-phobe,  I do own a lot of cake-related gadgets.  This is a cake turner, and it was very useful to add icing to my celebratory 8th blog-anniversary concoction.

In our kitchen…

What did I just say about cake-gadgets? Could not resist these… one never knows when I’ll get into a cupcake adventure, and it’s very important to have the right tools for a job I’ve never done.

In our kitchen…

Macaron obsession is still going strong. I got a larger tip for piping the shells, works great. And a few goodies for future important experiments. Stay tuned for crazy macs coming up in the near future. Bogey was quite taken by them, I hope you will fancy them too…

In our kitchen…

Another outcome of  a Marshalls’ treasure hunt. This is a very large bowl, so colorful, I tried to move away from it at the store, but it kept pulling me back, twisting my arm, I was pretty much forced to bring it home. Abused by a bowl, that’s a first.

In our kitchen…

Macadamia oil. I heard about its qualities, including very high smoking point, and decided to give it a try. Really enjoy its mild flavor for sauteing stuff. It is more expensive than olive oil, so this will not be replacing it in our cooking. I also used it in salad dressing a couple of times. I’d say it is as mild as grapeseed oil, a favorite of mine.

In our kitchen…

This is a special Japanese rice flour. Very very fine, different from the product you might use to coat your banneton so that bread dough won’t stick to it. I read about it in the book Flours, part of my giveaway last month. Love that book, everything I’ve made from it has been a success.

In our kitchen…


Crispy brown rice cereal. I used this product in a variation of Chicken Parmigiana from the book The Dude Diet. So good, that I decided to buy a second box as a back up. You process the cereal together with some Parmigiano cheese, salt, and herbs, use that to coat chicken breast filets.

In our kitchen…

A very nice tea, recommended by our graduate student, Aritri. She loved it and I could not help but order a box, because she is a person of very fine taste. It is truly delicious! The brand has several kinds, unfortunately no free shipping available through amazon prime. I guess the best approach is to keep your eyes open, maybe your grocery stores carries it? I cross my fingers that our beloved Marshalls will, at some point.

In our kitchen…

Phil (a Michigander) loves tart cherries, and these preserves are excellent. I cannot tell, as I never eat jams or preserves of any kind, but I can testify he always has a huge smile when he does.

In our kitchen…

Strawberries coated in chocolate, courtesy of my beloved, who found the perfect use for leftover ganache from my special layered cake of the recent past.

Near our kitchen…


I am thrilled to share this with you. Soggy Doggy rug. It is a life-changing item that I cannot recommend highly enough. This rug is not cheap, let’s get this out-of-the-way. But, it was THE best investment ever, it sits in the patio, right by the door to the living room and kitchen area. If you let your dog sit and walk around it for a minute or so, the fabric adsorbs dirt and water in a way that is hard to believe!  Keeping our wooden floors clean has been so much easier since we got it several months ago. We haven’t washed it yet, just shake it outside every once in a while, sometimes use very gingerly the vacuum cleaner, with the spinning brushes off. This thing is money. Every day I pass by it and blow it a kiss. Honest. If you have pets, you need this. They come in several sizes, depending on the kind of pet you have, a small one might be enough. We really had to go for the kill here. Obviously. To order, click here.

And since the subject of pets came up,
it’s time to let them say hello…

More than a simple hello, they insist on having their grievances in the open, so that  Mom’s readers know the true nature of who they are dealing with. You know, behind those blogging doors.

“I’ve been betrayed. I had just developed a nice personal scent over a week of hard work. You gave me a bath, and took it all away. I now smell like a tangerine. I shall never ever interact with you again. Ever.”

“I’ve been betrayed. Mom tricked me into going outside dangling a cookie in front of my perfectly shaped nose. Dad was there, waiting for me. With a hose. Cold water under 95 F weather. Very unfair. I shall never ever move from this couch. Ever.”

Betrayal. Humiliation. Shame.

“Oh, you whining babies. You don’t know what real betrayal is. Mom took me to a torture place, dropped me there all by myself and not only I got a bath, but by the time they were done with me, my fur was gone. Gone. I am still in shock.”

“I shall hide from your view for eternity.”

 

Thankfully, a dog grievance never lasts very long.

Certain behaviors, though… they will likely never end…

Like a little sniffing around…

A little begging…

A little snoring after breakfast…

We still think they enjoy being squeaky clean, no matter how hard they tried to stain our reputation as doggie parents…

“Mirror, mirror tell me, who is the cutest dog in the world?”

 

“Mirror, mirror, tell me, who is the most handsome dog in the world?”

 

“Mirror, mirror, tell me, who is the bossiest dog in the world?”

In case you haven’t noticed, the couch rules have relaxed quite a bit since Bogey Quit That joined our pack…

Couch Rules? Which rules? Certainly they do not apply to this couch!

 

Agreed. The couch is my favorite place for deep thoughts… like the meaning of life, and how did that toad escape my mouth?

I feel the same way. The couch is where I wonder why every day is not a weekend day…  how pleasure can be such a fleeting emotion…

I am also having very profound thoughts, and you better believe me. In fact, I just figured out that the meaning of life is helping Mom get all comfy. I think she enjoys the new-non-rules too.

Bogey Quit That compensates for all the revolution he started by keeping our home safe.
A true guard dog like no other!

That’s all for now, folks!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour through our kitchen…
Stop by Sherry’s site to see what is going on in kitchens all over the world!

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Falafel and a Bonus Recipe

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

FIVE YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

SIX YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

SEVEN YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chicken Breasts, Coffee, and Serendipity

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IN MY KITCHEN: APRIL 2017

It’s been three long months since I last invited you for a virtual tour of our kitchen, the event initiated by Celia and now hosted by Lizzy from Bizzy Lizzy Good Things. Better late than never, let’s get started…


Last month was my Birthday, and I got two wonderful surprise gifts shipped from opposite corners of the world. The first package arrived from England, sent by our dear friend Denise, with a gorgeous apron and a matching coffee mug. Can you spell posh?   The second package arrived all the way from Brazil, sent by my niece Raquel, containing two Silpats for macaron baking!  Can you spell posh baker? Thank you Denise & Raquel, you made me feel super special…

In our kitchen….

The two on the upper row were bought for their looks, both found at Marshalls, one of my favorite spots to get unusual things for our kitchen. The third one is kind of vintage, a Pyrex sturdy bowl that I find myself using all the time. Perfect to mix a small batch of bread dough, cake batter, meatloaf, guacamole… I really use it almost on a daily basis.

In our kitchen….

Of all the alternative pastas out there, this one is my favorite. It was recommended by Elaine from foodbod, and I decided to give it a try. The texture is perfect, and the taste reminded me of homemade pastas made with a little spinach in the dough. Really nice, and quite a bit lighter than normal pasta. As you know, I have no gluten issues, no restrictions in my diet, but love to try new things. If it’s not tasty, I am not interested. This is tasty, and with the lower content in carbs, more than welcome at our table.

In our kitchen….

Two new ingredients to play with. First, hemp seeds which are high in protein and have many uses. You can add it to salads, smoothies, homemade crackers, cereal, yogurt.  Mild taste, nice crunch.  The black sesame powder you can obviously make from scratch using black sesame seeds in a spice grinder, but I found it available in our Asian market and brought it home, with one particular recipe in mind.  Black sesame macarons. Yeah, baby. You read it right. Stay tuned for it.

In our kitchen….

Zhorat tea blend. Have you heard about it? If not, I invite you to read this post by the one and only Sawsan. I thought about making it from scratch, but then ordered a batch already prepared. It is wonderful, I love to brew a pot before dinner and then enjoy it the whole evening right until going to sleep. It is floral, smooth and fresh at the same time. If you love tea and prefer to avoid caffeinated tea, this is a great option.

In our kitchen….


Another new ingredient to play, black tahini. It is exactly like a regular tahini, but made from black sesame seeds.  I haven’t tried it yet, but should start important experiments soon.

In our kitchen….

From black to color… My special food coloring batch in powder form, to make macarons, of course. Liquid food color is a no-no to make macarons because they interfere with the delicate balance of the meringue and almond dough.  Powdered or gel are a must.

In our kitchen….

Sprouted wheat flour from King Arthur Flour.  I first learned about this product reading Alexandra’s blog. Could not resist and ordered a bag.  I made a nice loaf of bread with it already, should be on the blog soon. Because the flour is made from sprouted wheat, it is supposed to be easier to digest, as the sprouting process starts metabolizing the wheat. The resulting bread feels smooth and moist. Excellent product.

In our kitchen….

Fathead pizza! This one blew my mind, big time! If you google fathead pizza you’ll learn that it is the Queen of Low-Carb Pizza, by far. I was very curious and one evening decided to give it a try, because it’s quite simple and quick to prepare. It turns out that I love it! It is the closest thing to real pizza I ever came across, and it is quite filling, so when I make the whole recipe I can have it for dinner and then lunch next day.  You can find the recipe clicking here.

In our kitchen….

A drink made from apple cider vinegar. As you know, I am into this type of alternative, non-alcoholic drinks. And I found this product in one of our grocery stores, Hy-Vee. It is actually very good, although I prefer to dilute it with carbonated water. I do 1/3 of the drink, 2/3 carbonated water, eyeballing it. The same company makes several different flavors, but I like this one the best.

In our kitchen….

Beware. These are addictive. Phil found those at our grocery store. Brought them home. OMG. They are good with hummus, with cheese, with avocados, with tapenade. They are good naked. The crackers, not necessarily the person munching on them. If you find them in your neck of the woods, pounce on the bag.

In our kitchen….

These are unreal. They are from Australia, so if you are partial to local food, I feel a bit sorry for you. To savor these babies without hurting your principles, you must face a pretty long trip to Sydney, and the tickets are quite pricey.   Amazingly, our grocery store carries them.  I am a big white chocolate lover, but must say the dark chocolate is much, much better. Phil and I savor one each on special evenings, making the box last as long as our will power allows.

In our kitchen….

A delicious dessert, from a book I reviewed recently, London: The Cookbook. As I already shared a recipe from the book, consider this an additional teaser. They are Bavarois Framboise. Quite easy to prepare and absolutely wonderful!

And now, it’s time for the Magnificent Trio to say hello…

We have a pretty regular routine in our home… We get up early, and while Phil gets our cappuccinos going, I grab the dogs’ bowls and get ready to feed them. At that point the morning symphony starts. If you’d like to listen to it, click here. After they are done wolfing their food down, they know they’ll have another hour or so in the coziness of our home. Then we leave for work and they must go outside. They use that precious hour very wisely.


Of course, sometimes the weather early in the morning is not compatible with doggies being outside, and in that case, they don’t get their food until later in the day. Once they realize there’s no food coming, you can sense the disappointment in the air…

But of course, snacks and little bits from our own food are always making the rounds to keep our four-legged friends happy. Happy? Well, maybe not all of them….


Buck is now the sweetest dog we’ve ever had! His personality changed a lot after Chief passed away, and even more after Bogey joined our home.  I call him my Little Tim Tam… not always, just sometimes.
Like twice, maybe eight times a day.


Oscar was definitely ready for his summer shave. He was having one bad hair day after another…

But we took care of it, and now….


Bogey has been with us for 8 months, and it’s clear that he’s adapted well… a few pieces of Parmigiano cheese disappeared from the kitchen island, as well as a batch of Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, a full genoise, freshly baked from scratch, a couple of sticks of butter and the eventual bar of soap.  But we love him to pieces!

The Magnificent Trio for the most part gets along well together, especially when it’s time to do their tricks for Mom and Dad. Those are rare moments in which I get their full attention…


That’s all folks… 
I hope you enjoyed Mom’s tour through our kitchen… 
 See you in a couple of months!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Chicken Korma and a Bonus Recipe

TWO YEARS AGO: Josey Baker’s Olive Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Almonds, A Cookbook Review

FOUR  YEARS AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

FIVE YEARS AGO: Codruta’s Rolled Oat Sourdough Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Roasted Corn and Tomato Risotto

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Light Rye Bread

HAPPY NEW YEAR IN MY KITCHEN!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY READERS!

flowers

It’s been three long months since I last invited you for a virtual tour of our kitchen, the event initiated by Celia and now hosted by Lizzy from Bizzy Lizzy Good Things. So, tighten your seat belts, because there are lots of goodies to talk about…

Starting with gifts…

I am not sure this qualifies as a gift, but I will go with it. I entered a drawing over at Lisa is Cooking a couple of months ago, and to my absolute delight, I won!  It is a gorgeous, oval-shaped All-Clad pan, perfect to sear and cook fish.  It is so beautiful, I smile every time I look at it…  Not only it works great for its intended purpose, but I’ve used it to sear halloumi cheese. O.M.G. Wait for a blog post on that one…

panThank you so much, Lisa!  Love the pan….

From our dear friend Ines…

doriecookbook

A classic cookbook from the one and only Dorie Greenspan… A must-have for sure, I know I would be getting it at some point. Resistance would be futile. But now I don’t need to. HA!

From our friends Denise and Hélio, shipped all the way from England…

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The best chocolate in the world! Valrhona, in different levels of cocoa, to match your mood… or your recipe!  Such a thoughtful gift… The only problem is preventing “someone” from devouring one bar or two when I’m not paying attention.

From C & C, the coolest couple in L.A.

vodka

A set of soapstone vodka drinking glasses. Phil loves Chopin vodka, and they also sent a huge bottle. The glasses are from a company I like a lot, Uncommon Goods. Check them out, they have very unique things.

From my sister Norma, back in Brazil….

mustard

A gourmet mustard, infused with a very special Brazilian fruit, called “jabuticaba.”  I love the fruit, and the mustard is superb!  It has a delicate touch of sweetness, and the taste is quite unique.

 

From my niece Raquel back in Brazil…

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A beautifully crafted box for my teas!  The top mimics the pattern of the sidewalks in Rio de Janeiro, every Brazilian recognizes that pattern… Looks like waves…  And now my teas are in perfect order!

From my perfect match…

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Two more coffee mugs from our favorite pottery artist, Mary Rose Young…  He keeps searching on ebay, and I keep welcoming them in our kitchen…

My Christmas gift to myself… just because….

teakmaker
This little teapot has a thermometer on the lid, and you can brew each type of tea (green, herbal, black) at the optimal temperature. It is very stylish, and works like a charm…. I am in love!

 

holidays


In our kitchen…

middleeasterncomp

A few exotic ingredients I got over at the Oriental market we have in town. For the most part inspired by a couple of cookbooks I am in love with: The Saffron Tales and Taste of Persia. I got black chickpeas, culinary grade rose petals (swoon), pomegranate seeds powder (how could I resist?) and a couple of spices that are very important in Middle Eastern cuisine: angelica powder and advieh (Persian spice mix). Can hardly wait to play with them all…

In our kitchen…

pinksalt
I
‘ve heard a lot of good things about this store called “The Spice Lab.” But their stuff is very expensive. The other day I stopped at Tuesday Morning in town, and was surprised to find this big bottle of Himalayan salt for sale, very cheap. It has black pepper in it. Sprinkled on top of flank steak cooked medium-rare it is to die for.

In our kitchen…

crackers

These are some tasty crackers! Served with home-made hummus it is a garbanzo bean feast for your taste buds… Love it. I think they have several kinds, I’ve seen it plain and this one with black olives. Salty, quite addictive. If you have a chance to grab a bag, go for it.

In our kitchen…

freekeh

A new (to me) grain that I bought after my friend Elaine raved about it. Still waiting to try my first recipe for it, I am sure it’s something I’ll love. You can use it as you would farro, for instance, in stews, as a risotto type prep, or even cold in salads. Stay tuned.

In our kitchen…

napkins

Holiday napkins… How could I resist these? Look at that doggie! Poise and elegance, just like our pups… Well, maybe not quite…

In our kitchen…

redplatter

A red platter found at Marshalls. It was love at first sight. They had it with a reduced price tag, I paid 5 bucks for it, if you can believe it. It is so festive, perfect for the holiday season, but I will be of course using it all year-long.

In our kitchen…

butterscotch
Butterscotch extract. Yes, you read it correctly. This heaven in a bottle exists. One word for you, macarons. Are you smiling yet?

In our kitchen…

empty

Four perfectly round low-carb Ricotta, Lemon & Lavender pancakes, a recipe I was very excited to try on a Saturday after a nice, albeit a bit chilly morning run. Oh, you only see an empty plate? What’s up with that, you may ask?

Full disclosure: Said pancakes were left unattended for 3 and a half minutes while I went upstairs to grab my phone to take a picture of them. I should add they were in the center of the island, a spot that we considered safe from canine paws. We were proven wrong. A certain dalmatian that attends by the name of Bogey Quit That managed to push the plate with his nose (at least that’s what we think), all the way to the edge of the countertop, to very efficiently wolf them down.  And then you wonder why my hair gets a bit more gray each month (sigh).

Finally, very recently in our kitchen…

buddies

Great friends reunited, even if only for a few hours…

dog-bone-doggy-bones-the-tizona-group-clipart

Due to a lengthy series of canine-induced grievances, I seriously considered banning the four-legged creatures from showing up in this segment of In My Kitchen. But then…

oskypeter11Sir, you seem like such a nice man…
Could you please convince Mom to let us say hello to her readers? 

Reluctantly, then… I complied.

bogeythief

I have nothing to add. Still hurts me to remember.

Oscar cannot reach countertops and to be honest, he doesn’t care that much about food, which is pretty odd. But he causes grievances in other ways… like trying to dig his way to China from our backyard, forcing his humans to halt dinner preparation and deal with the muddy mess.

oskyfinal

 

Now, THAT’S what I’m talking about!
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Buck managed to hurt his front paw helping his brother in his path to China, so we put some booties on his paws to prevent him from licking the antibiotic ointment off. He was not thrilled.

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His first attempts at walking with those booties were hilarious, poor thing, but he got used to them in a few minutes. Check it out here.

Giving Bogey a bath is a workout in itself, because to dry him, you gotta catch him first. Sounds a lot easier than it is… Glad I was not the one in charge!
bogeybathHe does look great once he is squeaky clean!
😉

Oscar insists that he cleans up better than his brother.

oskyclean

But Buck is putting up a fight for the pole position…

steak
I will let you be the judge of it, not taking sides!

Bogey has been bad lately. Really bad. From eating a bar of soap, to snatching my special pancakes, but the worst, the worst I shall tell you later. Never in a million years, we could imagine… well, I’ll stop here. You will have to wait for it.

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snoozing11

Now, if you want to see three dogs on their very best behavior, all it takes is a sirloin steak, cooked medium rare, and Phil going at it with a knife.

undividedattention11

That’s all, folks!  We all wish you a wonderful 2017!

We promise to be back with more cooking, more bread baking, more canine grievances, and throw in some cake baking to keep the adrenaline high…

😉

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ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen: Happy New Year!

TWO YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

SIX YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye

IN MY KITCHEN: AUGUST 2016

flowers1
Following the footsteps of Celia (Fig Jam and Lime Cordial) who started this party now hosted by our friend Maureen (The Orgasmic Chef), I invite you for a small virtual tour of our kitchen. Maureen is taking a small break to recover from surgery, I know everyone is looking forward to having her back to the blogosphere next month. A warm hug going her way….

In our kitchen…

macadamias

Well, this was in our kitchen a while ago, it’s gone. When we were in Hawaii we grabbed a bag and were hopelessly hooked.  It is basically impossible to eat just eight. I am not too surprised that amazon has several kinds for sale, although it’s hard to justify the price they ask for it. Take a look with a click here.

In our kitchen…

FirstTomato

The first tomato produced in our garden!  Can you see how juicy it was?  We enjoyed it in full mindful eating mode, as it deserved…

In our kitchen…

noketchup

You might remember I used another type of Not Ketchup in my last post, the Cherry Chipotle. This one, Tangerine Hatch Chile is my favorite. Love it, love it, love it!  I used it in turkey miniloaves, I smeared it on top of hamburgers, grilled pork tenderloin, it’s a fantastic product.  Very low in carbs, just the right amount of spice. Go visit Erika’s blog to see all the different types she came up with.

In our kitchen….

tortillas
We got this tip from our friend Virginia. Instead of buying tortillas from the grocery store, she goes to a Mexican restaurant in town to grab bags of this brand.  The difference in quality is amazing indeed!  If you happen to find this brand where you live, give it a try. Intense corn flavor, perfect texture.  Unless you are going to make them from scratch, you cannot find a better option.  We buy two or three bags at a time, they also freeze pretty well.

In our kitchen….

scissors

A new pair of scissors.  I finally got tired of struggling with scissors that refuse to cut through plastic bags, or are too flimsy. These work great and look pretty good too.  I’m a happy camper!

In our kitchen….

bowl

A new bowl… I got mesmerized by its color and shape. It was on sale at Marshalls, and I could not resist bringing it home.

In our kitchen….

verjus

A new ingredient to play with. I’ve flirted with Verjus for years, but finally reading a post by my friend Elaine over at foodbod, I caved in and got some. Stay tuned for my adventures with it… Buck seems quite intrigued… Is that something I would like?

In our kitchen…

beets2

Roasted beets, made in our toaster oven early on a Saturday morning…  since Phil doesn’t care for beets that much, they were mine, all mine…   This batch lasted for several days, and I enjoyed over salads, mixed with a stir-fry of ground chicken, they add a tone of sweetness with their earthy flavor.  Love them!

In our kitchen….

Starter

Dan, my sourdough starter, got over-enthusiastic and wanted to take over the countertop!  I guess warmer temperatures will do that.  I put it to good use, there will be a post very soon about a certain sourdough bread… Stay tuned.

In our kitchen…

MisoEggplant

A work in progress… Eggplant cooked sous-vide and then finished with a miso-sesame glaze.  I need to perfect the recipe, it has potential, but my first two attempts ended with eggplant a bit too mushy for my taste. However, the sous-vide definitely gets rid of any bitter taste without the need to salt the eggplant.

In our kitchen….

crossoverscomposite

Different types of yogurt from Fage called Crossovers. They join unexpected flavors and are quite delicious. My favorite is the carrot-ginger with roasted pistachios.  I think these ingredients would go very well together in a salad…  Or once the weather cools… a warming soup. But, it goes without saying I am in no hurry to make soup. No hurry at all.

In our kitchen…

UncleVal

A bottle of Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin. The bartender at the golf club in our town made a Dry Martini for us using it and it is surprisingly floral. Totally different from any gin we’ve ever tried. Phil likes it more than I do, but if you are into mixed drinks, give it a try.

In our kitchen…

Herme

I blame it on our friend Gary, who “twisted my arm” to get this book. He said I needed it. Well, it is pretty fantastic, although each recipe, to be made exactly like the master does it, would need ingredients to be special ordered. Just to give you one example, the simplest Vanilla macaron shell requires not one, not two, but three different vanilla beans… Oh, the humanity! Still, it’s a masterpiece of a book, and I’m glad I did not resist.

In our kitchen…
Something that happens more times than I care to admit….

cartoon

Reprinted with permission from Abby Has Issues…  she does such great work! I follow her blog and Facebook page, and was thrilled when she gave me permission to share one of her cartoons.  The story of my life, honest!

And because life is not just about cooking, I shall talk lipstick! I don’t usually wear make-up, but I do love  a little lipstick.  The Cover Girl’s Oh Sugar line is amazing: shiny, smooth, feels great on the lips, and on top of it, they are very affordable. Our grocery store carries every single color available. After grabbing some avocados, tomatoes, I stopped by Cover Girl and grabbed Jelly and Punch. Is that cool or what?

lipsticks

 

I hope you enjoyed this little tour around our kitchen…  The pups are quite anxious to say hi to all of you, but first I want to share some bits of our past. 

 

Chief’s Stories

Chief1
Phil is a pretty good dog trainer. Back in Oklahoma when we had the sweetest dalmatian ever, Pits, he trained him to balance a treat on the nose. Pits would be static, waiting for the command “OK,” when he would flip the treat high up in the air and grab it.  Chief never had the patience for it, he could maybe hold it for one second but that was it.  Anyway, one day Phil is making Pits do his balancing trick, he placed the treat, held his hand up and kept saying… wait…. wait….. wait….  Just as he was going to give the OK command, Chief dashed running like a maniac, jumped up, grabbed the treat off of Pits nose, and ran away with it!  It was THE funniest thing ever, and I’ve always regretted we could not catch it on video. It would have gone viral, I know that for a fact…    Chief was really one of a kind…. We miss  him.

dog-bone-doggy-bones-the-tizona-group-clipart

BuckSofa1

Hello!  My name is Buck, and I believe this sofa is the best spot in the house, although you will not find me here when Dad is around… He starts waving his hands and acting all steamed up. Borderline irrational, if you ask me.

 

ThePrince

Truth is, my poise and class are evident no matter where I am resting my handsome body.

 

OskySofa1
Hello! My name is Oscar and evidently I know how to make the best spot in the house even better.

With my long legs, I am the only one who can see all the goodies Mom and Dad are enjoying for dinner.

Osky composite

 

But, of course, we all know Oscar has his idiosyncrasies…

ricecrackernonoI thought I made it clear I do not care for rice crackers!

Buck has his issues too. His favorite time to play in mud is right after getting a bath. Frustrating, to say the least. One of the reasons why his Mom’s hair gets more gray with each passing week can be seen in the short video below.

 

Well, that all for now, folks…
We hope you are enjoying this beautiful season!
See you next time…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Ka’Kat, a Middle Easter Snack Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Spinach and Chickpea Curry

THREE YEARS AGO: Sautéed Zucchini with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

FOUR YEARS AGO: Orzo with Heirloom Tomato Relish

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

SIX YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Love me tender…

IN MY KITCHEN, YIN AND YANG

roses
Following the footsteps of Celia (Fig Jam and Lime Cordial) who started this party now hosted by our friend Maureen (The Orgasmic Chef), I invite you for a small virtual tour of our kitchen.

Starting with gifts, this month I have some pretty special ones….

…from our friend Dr. SL, fantastic selected goodies he got in a recent trip to Paris: truffles galore! Truffle mayo, truffle mustard, and truffled salt.  What have I done to deserve such great friends?

compositefrench

 

…from my beloved husband, a surprise gift for Mother’s Day…

wrapped

When I opened the package.. here’s what I found: a huge platter, heavy-duty, very very beautiful… it makes any salad into a stunning meal!

compositeplatter

He keeps showering me with gifts from this artist, Mary Rose Young…  How about this for cuteness in coffee cup format?

coffeecup

Or these adorable salad plates? Each a little different from the other… Irresistible!

plates
Our dear friends Karl and Virginia left a package in my mailbox at work…  Inside I found such a thoughtful gift for our home! It’s in our kitchen, where it definitely belongs…

jack

But, I can give gifts too!  This one I gave to Phil just because…  He loves to have a black and tan after playing golf, and this tool makes a perfect one.

compositebeer

 

holidays

In our kitchen…

applecake

A very delicious apple cake made for one of the receptions we hosted last month.  The recipe, already in the blog, is the most popular in the site!  And for good reason, it is wonderful and so simple to make…

In our kitchen…

rollingpin

A rolling-pin I ordered all the way from Poland, after reading this post from Mimi… could not resist it. Stay tuned for a post on my first attempt at Polish Sugar Cookies.

In our kitchen…

heart2A nice heart on my morning cappuccino, made by the resident barista… I married the right man, obviously…

In our kitchen…

compositegochujang

My new addiction: Go-Chu-Jang sauce, the Korean darling of the food world these days. I resisted as much as I could, but when I saw the product for sale in our very own grocery store, I said what the heck, and brought it home. I love the paste so much I also bought the sauce which is like catchup on steroids.  I used the paste on sautéed ground beef for a flavorful lunch. If you are like me and resist all sorts of trends, do yourself a favor and cave to this one.

In our kitchen…

compositecans

Canned tomatillos and canned yellow tomatoes, both products bought with specific recipes in mind.  As soon as they went into my pantry I lost track of the recipes.  The one using canned tomatillos I suspect was in a cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen, but the yellow tomatoes?  I am clueless. Clue-less.  If anyone suffers from the same type of culinary amnesia, let’s have a virtual hug…

yinyang

This time our dogs are silent.

It is with a very heavy heart that I share the sad news that Chief was put to sleep on May 26th, a decision that crushed us, but had to be made. We will always remember him at the top of his game, rarely sitting still for a photo. In this shot (Summer 2001), his personality shines. He had just spotted a squirrel on the corner of the backyard, and one nanosecond after the picture was taken he was gone so fast our eyes could barely follow him.

SPC copy
In my mind, the two inseparable buddies are finally together again…

 

chiefyboy

Chief
February 05th, 1999 – May 26th, 2016


ONE YEAR AGO:
Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

THREE YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

FOUR YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

FIVE YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

SIX YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls