Monday, June 27, 2011

Mango Creme Fraiche Salad Dressing

I was reading David Lebovitz in my facebook feed today and he has posted a link to Cafe Fernando blog story about their recent visit to Chez Panisse. Great photos, fun story. What caught my eye in the story was the creme fraiche dressing on the smoked fish salad with black cod and salmon. Stopped me in my tracks. So guess what I bought today at the coop? Creme fraiche. I wondered what they mixed in the dressing to make it so loose. I thought lemon juice if I had a guess. I tend to overuse lemon juice so I thought mango. On nectarines. With mint, on a salad.
I wondered if the fiber in the mango flesh would ruin the whole experiment. I wondered if the creme fraiche was too thick to blend in my blender. I wondered if it would need acid to cut the fat. Oh the mind chatter of my food mind! I decide to go simple and just blend the flesh of a medium sized mango and 1/2 cup of creme fraiche and a pinch of salt in my blender. It would either work or be a throw-away.
Here is how is ended...a certain 7 year old was caught with a small soup ladle in hand (a spoon was not large enough) scooping out a second "taste" after I let her taste the goods, running into the living room to be alone with her mango creme fraiche. Bottom line: it turned out pretty fantastic. And with THREE ingredients, super, fabulously, crazily, easy to make.
I used nectarines on the salad to add acid. I added fresh mint to the lettuce mix to add some verve and then ate it for dinner. This dressing would be wonderful on grilled fish, crab cakes, or to dip strawberries into. I could imagine a fresh blueberry scone too...oh the list could go on. I think what makes creme fraiche work so well in these instances is the slight sour taste that carries it, but its not overly sour taste. Either way, the hardest part of this recipe is getting out your blender and removing the flesh from the mango. If you don't know how..Simply Recipes has a great tutorial. This made over a cup, plenty for a couple of dishes.

Mango Creme Fraiche Dressing
Makes a big cup

1 med. ripe mango cut and skin removed (about 1- 1/2 cups)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup creme fraiche

Blend in blender until very smooth, about 3 or 4 minutes.
I tossed my salad in a small bit of olive oil before topping with fresh nectarines and fresh mint. I spooned about 1 tablespoon on each salad plate.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Homemade Lemon Teriyaki Sauce...and stuff to eat it with...

Summer is here. Tank tops, iced tea, nectarines, cherries, light meals, crickets, green everything.  Summer means I start having itches for dinner parties on lawns, picking berries with my lady posse and staying up late. Swimming in the river, wide brimmed hats and popsicles. I love that a hot summer day is reason enough to invite people over and drink something with fresh lime juice in it. This summer I want to experiment with some new flavors. Violets most likely. I am also experimenting with my new neighborhood. My two very cool and lovely friends happen to live on the same street as me. I know, the odds against that happening are sky-high, but here we all are. Kate and Sarah are their names. It was sheer luck and determination that we all found places to live together on our lovely one-way, dead-end street. I love it when the stars line up like that! We all have kids. We all just drop by each others houses and hang out. We have dinner together every week or more. Lucky us. The kids loop back and forth from house to house to yard. Like a real old-fashioned neighborhood before stranger danger ruined things!
Sometimes when I make a special dish, I get bummed if we are not all together and it turns out extra special. Tonight that happened. I made lemon, ginger teriyaki sauce. I always make my own because it is so easy and the flavors are light years better than the bottled kind.  Teriyaki is all about ingredients, so once you have the essential components, it just needs to simmer. I decided to eat it with grated carrots and turnips, toasted sesame seeds and a poached egg on top. I loved it.
Teriyaki is essentially a soy sauce marinade. Incredibly versatile. An easy way to impress your friends at dinner! This batch makes a modest amount (about 1/2 cup) so if you are cooking for a crowd, double or triple it.

Lemon Teriyaki Sauce:

1/3 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tbls shoyu
1 tbls fresh lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1 tbls toasted sesame seed oil
1 heaping tsp. fresh grated ginger

Simmer in a saucepan until it coats the back of a spoon. Mine took about 15-20 minutes. Right before it is ready, it starts to bubble become slightly foamy. The sugars are starting to caramelize and the sauce is thickening.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

We have Lacto Fermented Soda! (Raspberry and Olallieberry to be exact!)

She is my fearless taster!
Captivated by the fermentation bubbles!

 My first lacto fermented soda experiment is over! It had a slight yeasty, boozy taste. Nice and carbonated. I have not had enough fermented soda to know if this was off the mark.  I put slightly more than 1 1/2 cups of sugar in my gallon of soda, which may have contributed to the aggressive fermentation.  But, I am still drinking it.  Even though no yeast was added, lactobacillus produces carbon dioxide, alcohol and lactic acid as a result of fermentation and I am wondering if my soda is reaching 1-2% alcohol due to this.  Now I am making batch number two and I have a good feeling about it. This batch above was raspberry and olallieberry soda and the next one I am making is blackberry ginger flavor. And I am going not going to put more than 1 1/2 cups of sugar per gallon (I added a bit more to make it sweeter this first time) because I think that made it over-ferment. I have wished about six times I had a 1-800 number to call for my fermentation questions. The most tense time of the whole experiment was tasting the soda before bottling for the second fermentation. Would the acidity really prevent pathogenic bacteria from flourishing in the starter culture? Would I start throwing up in 4-8 hours? Dang, those microbiology and mycology classes in college filled me with way too much information. But here is the deal; after my life these last 8 months, a little food poisoning is no biggie. Turns out however that our little friend (who attempted to spend the night last night) had to go home at 1am because of diarrhea and vomiting. So, M and I are drinking lots of soda today in hopes of bolstering our gut flora....
In other news, little M has graduated kindergarten. No more rice and beans day on painting day. No more Fairy Mother passing down her little ones to each child in the class. No more healing gnomes or silk scarves  or soup day on fridays. No more chopping vegetables, no more bees wax moldeling. No more good morning dear friends songs.  No more waldorf kindergarten. Her fly-away ceremony was heartfelt. Our good friend Jilan came to the ceremony and greeted little M with a bouquet of roses as we watched her fly away to her new teacher. The school moved the next day to our little downtown to occupy the old space where elementary school used to be. It is precious! Now we get to walk to school! It reminds me of the waldorf school in downtown Mill Valley in Marin. A day we will always remember.


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