Apple Chips

Fall is definitely in the air in Northern California! A storm is sweeping in overnight which means snow in the Sierras. Good news for skiers, not so good news for my parent’s garden. Luckily my dad watches the weather channel religiously, and got a head start picking the remaining apples off the trees. Consequently I ended up with a nice boxful of the loot and have been finding creative ways to consume the fruit. I ran across an apple chip recipe that I decided to give a try. I was delightfully surprised with the crispy, crunchy, light, sweet, tangy chips!

I started by prepping the apples. I have this fantastic de Buyer mandoline that works wonders. I sliced through the apples with ease.

Then I dipped the slices in a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar. From there they went on a sheet pan and baked until crispy and brown.

Recipe: (adapted from the blog The Italian Dishhttp://theitaliandishblog.com/imported-20090913150324/2012/1/2/homemade-apple-chips.html

3-4 medium apples
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 225 F degrees.  Prep 2 cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper.

Use a mandoline to slice the apples as thinly as possible. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon, then dip the apple slices lightly in the mixture to coat.  Spread the slices on the cookies sheets in a single layer.  Bake for 45 minutes then flip with tongs or a spatula. Bake for another 45 – 60 minutes until brown and crisp.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

Food Travels – Oahu

One of the best things about traveling is trying all the different local foods. I just got back from vacation on Oahu. My little brother recently moved to the island to train dolphins (coolest job ever right?). I enjoyed venturing away from the Waikiki craziness to get some quiet beach time in and to hit up some of the local shrimp trucks and plate lunch spots. Best of all, each place was so reasonable. Move over $15 mai tai’s and make way for tasty cheap food …. like freshly made udon noodles with soft boiled egg!

We rented mopeds one day and hit up the KCC Farmer’s Market in the morning. We snacked on some chicken and waffles. There were also some pork slides on beautiful purple taro buns that I didn’t get a picture of … darn it!

Fresh Papaya, you don’t see this at the farmer’s market in San Francisco! These were pretty cheap. On the room service menu at our hotel a half of a papaya was $8.00 … yikes! Farmer’s markets are a good way to go if you want cheap and local eats.

The North Shore has an abundance of shrimp trucks. The shrimp were dripping with garlic butter and cooked perfectly. The garlicky butter was also drizzled on top of the rice, so good!

There were a couple spots in Waikiki that I really enjoyed. My brother took us to a Japanese Udon place a little off the central strip. You can see the noodles being made from scratch through the front window, and they are really tasty. They have that bite and chew that you want from Udon and they don’t get any fresher than this.

Fresh Udon Noodles

Udon with Beef

I also liked a Japanese restaurant called Sansei. Two days a week the menu is 50% off during happy hour. I was a little skeptical about the quality of food when I heard about the discount, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was very innovative, creative, and delicious.

Shrimp Cake

Fried Ahi Roll with Spinach

The trip was amazing! Happy travels and eating!

Summer Breakfast Sandwich

We’ve had more corn and tomatoes this summer than I know what to do with! My most recent creation was a breakfast sandwich with a corn and tomato salsa. This is a hearty and tasty sandwich that’ll keep you full for hours.

Whip up a tomato/corn salsa. Toss diced tomatoes, corn, basil, crumbled queso fresco, garlic salt and pepper in a bowl.

Toast a sliced baguette in the oven and melt provolone on one side of the bread. Rub a garlic clove on the other side of the bread when it comes out of the oven.

Fry a couple eggs over easy. Assemble the sandwich by placing the fried eggs on the bread and top with the salsa. Enjoy!

 

Sungold Tomato Bruschetta

Tomato season is in high gear right now! That translates into caprese salads and lots of tomato bruschetta in my kitchen.

This weekend I harvested some sungold tomatoes that were as sweet as candy. This particular sungold plant has a story. My mom planted a seed back in February when snow was still falling to the ground. She raised the seedling under a greenhouse light. Once it was a couple months old, the sungold travelled 5 hours to the California bay area. It was handed off to my boyfriend’s parents who have a sunny yard, perfect for tomato plants to flourish. Right now the tomatoes are reaching their peak ripeness and let me tell you again, they are so good. Better than any tomato at the grocery store!

I decided to make a simple bruschetta with the sungold tomatoes and some other ingredients I had on hand. This is a healthy, fresh, and quick side or appetizer. I make this all the time in the summer.

Cooking Instructions:

Cut desired amount of cherry or sungold tomatoes into quarters. Chop up some cilantro and mix with tomatoes. Add a swirl each of good extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.   Add cracked pepper. Then crumble in some queso fresco cheese. Mix everything together then let sit while you prepare the bread.

Cut a baguette into slices (again, use desired amount). Lay on baking sheet and put into a preheated 350 F degree oven. Once the bread is toasted on top, flip. Let the other side toast up, then remove from oven. Rub a clove of garlic over the warm bread. Spoon tomato mixture onto bread.

Upside Down Plum Cake

I went plum picking in my Aunt’s backyard over the 4th and couldn’t wait to get baking with the ripe fruit! My first thought was to make a plum crisp. However, since I’ve recently made a few crisps with rhubarb, strawberries, and cherries I decided to try something different. I settled on a plum cake. The cake is similar to a pineapple upside down cake, with plums replacing the pineapple.

The first step was to make the plum layer at the bottom. This required halving the plums to discard the seeds, quite a messy, juicy job! I arranged the sliced plums on the bottom of a pan. I cooked sugar and water over the stove and poured it over the plums. It hardened instantly, just like when you make flan (it turns back to syrup once you bake it). It looked like glass artwork.

Next I made cake batter to spread over the hardened plum layer. Then into the oven it went! When I took the cake out of the oven you could see the plums simmering in the sugar liquid on the bottom.

Once the cake cooled a bit I turned it out onto a plate … I tried it when it was still warm. Yum!

Slice of cake

Recipe: (Adapted from Ina Garten “Plum Cake Tatin” on the Food Network website)

  • plums, halved and pitted (enough to cover the bottom of a 9″ pie pan)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and cover the bottom with plums, cut side down. Combine  sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat until it turns a golden color, periodically swirl the pan. Be watchful, the sugar will go from golden to burnt quickly. Pour evenly over the plums, it should harden. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar with handheld or stand mixer  until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla then mix. In another bowl sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently add to the butter mixture in three stages. Mix until combined.

Pour the cake batter over the plum layer. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then flip the cake onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Plum Harvest – Happy 4th of July!!

Happy 4th of July! It’s a beautiful day in the Bay Area, perfect for plum picking!

My aunt has 4 terrific plum trees in her back yard that are sagging with ripe fruit right now.

She gave me a couple shopping bags and told me to load up. Load up I did, with 5 or so pounds of plums!

Needless to say, I foresee a couple plum recipes coming up this week. However, no cooking today. It’s time to get outside again and enjoy the holiday and amazing weather!

I’ll leave you with a couple enticing pictures of fruit tarts and cupcakes that I got from a bakery called Sweetlife near my aunt’s house. Yummy breakfast!

Raspberry/Blueberry Tart

Apricot/Blueberry Tart

Carrot Cake Cupcake

Fresh Watermelon Agua Fresca

What’s more refreshing than an agua fresca on a scorching hot summer day? I know … drinking an agua fresca on the beach in Santa Cruz on a hot summer day. I was at the farmer’s market in Santa Cruz a couple weeks ago, and a Mexican food stand was serving up these drinks by the ladleful from large jugs. I tried a few of these yummy “fruit waters” including cantaloupe, strawberry, and watermelon. I love that they’re made with fresh fruit, so there is nothing artificial about them.

Back in San Francisco, where the weather is foggy and damp this late June, I found myself strangely still wanting an agua fresca. Sure I could just go to the taqueria down the street and buy one, but I decided to try and make some instead. I had seedless watermelon in the fridge, which I thought would work nicely.

My watermelon was very sweet, so I found that 2 tablespoons of sugar was enough. When making this, it’s important to sweeten to taste depending on the type and sweetness of fruit being used. I like this drink because it’s not overly sweet, most of the sweetness should come from the fruit. I made mine kind of chunky, by adding back some chopped up fruit at the end.

Recipe:

4 cups cubed seeded watermelon, divided

3 cups water

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime

Put 2 cups of cubed watermelon in a blender, then puree. Strain juice by pouring through a sieve into a pitcher, throw away the solids. Add water, sugar, and lime juice to the pitcher and stir. Chop remaining 2 cups of watermelon finely and add to the pitcher. Chill before serving.