Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bacon Goat Cheese Waffles with Spicy Fig Preserves

Late August bleeding in to early September is my favorite time of year. Summer still holding on a little, autumn gently beginning to show itself. This is the perfect time of year for lazy brunches with lots of buttery homemade pastries and French presses full of steamy dark coffee. When a good friend invited me over for just such a brunch last weekend, I knew I needed to make something special.
Throw in a mimosa and I think we have the most perfect breakfast ever right here.

My thoughts instantly ran to figs- the perfect marriage of summer and fall! Fresh, juicy, and fruity like summer but with a dark, velvety exterior that shouts “autumn” joyfully…..okay, maybe I actually just needed to use the box staring at me forlornly in the fridge, but we can pretend I started this recipe with poetic intentions, right? 
Step 1: refrain from eating all figs whole as you prep them

I am a firm believer that figs have 2 best friends, bacon and goat cheese. Each on it’s own is delicious, but all 3 together? Oh yeah!! With that in mind, I set out to create a bacon goat cheese waffle with a spicy fig preserve. What brunch is complete without a waffle?!

A few notes on this recipe- I have a really cool waffle stick pan that bakes cute little sticks of waffle in the oven, but you could just as easily use this mix to pour in to a traditional waffle iron and create full size waffles. Also, my recipe is gluten-free because 2 of the brunch guests were gluten-intolerant, but regular flour could be swapped just as easily (I tested it both ways). If you want to, you can make fig preserves in advance and let hang out in the fridge until you are ready to use them. Letting them sit in the fridge helps bring out some of the spiciness from the cardamom and black pepper.

Waffles, meet bacon and goat cheese.

Spicy fig preserves
This will make a large, nearly full jelly jar batch. You can refrigerate any leftovers and use again on another dish. Maybe a pork chop with fig preserves on top?
You will need:

2 cups Black Mission figs, stems removed and fruit cut in lengthwise

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 13-ounce glass jar with lid (sterilized)

Candy thermometer

To do:

Scoop the flesh from the figs with a spoon and throw out the peels. Boil sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Stir in figs, lemon juice, cinnamon, caradmom, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until a candy thermometer reads 210 degrees F (100 degrees C). This should be about 17-20 minutes. When preserves are ready, you should have a jelly-like consistency with very few large chunks of fig left. Pack the hot preserves into your jar up to ¼ inch from top. Screw on lid and let sit out on counter to cool slightly before storing in the refrigerator.
(this recipe was inspired by, and slightly modified from: All Recipes: Black Mission Fig Preserves)

You can serve preserves cold or reheated lightly over waffles, it’s your preference. I kind of like the contrast of cold preserves over a hot waffle personally.

Gluten-free Bacon Goat Cheese Waffles
You will need:

1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free baking flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbs brown sugar

1 tbs olive oil

1/2 c whole milk

1/4 c water

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/8 lb of bacon, cooked to your liking (I like mine extra crispy. You can also use more or less bacon according to your preferences)

3/8 c crumbled goat cheese (again, please feel free to add more or less)

To do:

Combine first five ingredients in a bowl and stir until well-mixed. Next, whisk wet ingredients together. Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisky until slightly lumpy. Let stand for five minutes. Fold in bacon and goat cheese until well incorporated. Pour batter into your waffle iron and cook according to machine directions.

(recipe inspired by: Easy Gluten-Free Waffles)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Strawberries + tequila = SUMMER!

I know I said I was going to be a regular contributor here and it has been a full month since I posted, but I swear I have a good excuse! I moved in to my very first, all by myself apartment in my favorite neighborhood in Seattle! With all the craziness of packing, moving, work, volunteer commitments, and life; I just haven’t had a spare moment to post- don’t worry though, I’ve been doing plenty of cooking! Lots of recipes to share!

But first, I’m sure you’re all thinking, “apartment by yourself? Favorite neighborhood in Seattle? Tell me more!” Why, I’d love to tell you all about it, thanks for asking! ;) My whole life I have lived either with my parents (Hi, Mom! Thanks for teaching me how to cook and always telling me to clean my room!) or roommates. Don’t get me wrong, I love my former roommate. She was great and we had some fun adventures, including a week in Maui and weekly The Bachelor watching/champagne drinking sessions. But, sadly, she needed to move home to take care of her family. I am praying for the best for them and hope she will come visit.
Me and my former roommate on the beach. A tropical vacation in January!? BEST idea ever.

At first, I was kinda nervous about living alone. But, you know what? It’s AWESOME!! No one can tell me not eat ice cream for breakfast, any time is an appropriate time for a dance party, and I get to choose all of the d├ęcor. I am really loving it! I am also really loving my neighborhood, Chinatown International District. If you haven’t ever been here, you must! 

Hing Hay Park on a recent afternoon
In fact you should spend a Saturday here, I’ll even plan it for you! First, start your day at The Panama Hotel. Order some tea and a pastry and don’t forget to bring your copy of Hotel on the corner of Bitter & Sweet. Next, wander over to The Beacon for a breakdancing or Zumba class. All that dancing will make you hungry so you’ll have to grab some lunch at World Pizza (all vegetarian but even my seriously carnivorous younger brother practically begs that we go back) or Mike’s Noodles. After lunch, wander around Uwajimaya, Kobo, and Momo. Don’t forget to stop at Oasis for some bubble tea! I recommend the avocado fresh fruit milk tea with grass jelly. Sounds weird, but it is delicious- I promise! For dinner, check out Tamarind Tree or Green Leaf. For some post-dinner fun, you can’t miss the Seattle Pinball Museum. Man, that sounds like a fun day, can I come??

Okay okay, I know the REAL reason you’re all reading this is I put “tequila” in the title and you’ve had a long week and could use a good drink. Well, you’re in luck. Today, I have two cocktail recipes to share with you. One adapted from a cookbook that I swear by, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, and the other my own creation inspired by some of my favorite things. Downtown Seattle is a far cry from either the Pacific coastline where strawberries often grow wild and abundantly or a Mexican beach where I’m sure the tequila just seems to taste more magical, but if I close my eyes and take a big sip of either of these it’s like I am transported on a mini-vacation. Summer, sunshine, the end of the workweek, and stiff cocktails are among my favorite things, so without further ado, I give  you Muddle Puddle Battle and an as of yet unnamed cocktail (feel free to make it and send me names!!).

Sorry I forgot to invite you to the dinner party I originally served this at!
Muddle Puddle Battle

You will need:

4 medium fresh strawberries, plus 2 for garnish

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

4 teaspoons superfine sugar

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste. I recommend starting with just a few grinds and build from there.

½ cup white tequila

1 cup sparkling water (Lime Perrier would be a good choice!)

To make cocktail:

Add strawberries, lime juice, sugar, and pepper to bottom of a small pitcher. Muddle with the back of a spoon until nearly pureed. Pour in tequila and club soda. Transfer to 2 glasses to serve and garnish with a cut strawberry or lime wedge. This drink just tastes like summer!

A tequila and strawberry bonus!!

You will need:

1 cup Rosemary Simple Syrup (recipe below)

7 or 8 lemons

2 cups cold water

½-1 cup sparkling water (depending on how sparkly you want your lemonade

½-1 cup tequila (depending on how stiff you want your lemonade)

10 medium strawberries

Rosemary Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring to boil while stirring occasionally. Let boil for 1 minute or until all sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes. Discard rosemary sprigs and pour simple syrup into an airtight container. Refrigerate for 4 hours before using. This should make you about 1.5 cups of simple syrup

To make cocktail:

Muddle 6 of the strawberries in the bottom of a small bowl. Set aside for now. Juice lemons into a pitcher, you are looking for about 1 cup of juice here.   Next, add in 2 cups of cold water and 1 cup of your Rosemary Simple syrup, stir well and add in muddled strawberries. Make a small vertical cut in the bottom of the remaining 4 strawberries and put them on the edge of 4 small glasses. Fill each glass about ½ full with lemonade mixture and plop 1 or 2 ice cubes in. Top each glass with a splash of tequila and a splash of sparkling water. Sit back, sip, and feel instantly more relaxed!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Vanilla Sea Salt Heirloom Tomatoes & A New Blogger


For those of you who read this blog or Everything Coastal you probably already know my mom. You’ve probably read all about her adventures in San Francisco. In fact, you’ve probably even seen a few pictures of me show up on the Everything Costal blog…like here or here. But, we haven’t formally met.

Hanging out at the beach in California last summer
I’m Allison and it’s nice to meet you. I live in Seattle, work in marketing in the food and beverage industry, love cooking, and love having adventures. The places you will most often find me are the kitchen and the grocery store- if Whole Foods had apartments, I would definitely be a tenant. Starting this month, I will be a regular contributor to this blog and Everything Coastal Style.

See?! Are you drooling already? I am!
I have a confession to make: I am a total sucker for a beautiful tomato. Growing up, you couldn’t even pay me to eat one.

Then, last summer, I was introduced to my new go to side dish, vanilla sea salt tomatoes. One of my mom's visit to Seattle a few summers ago, we decided to try out this fantastic spot.

If you live within a few hours of Seattle and haven’t been, GO! Seriously, get in your car as soon as you finish reading this post….And pick me up on the way! If you love oysters, champagne, artisan cheeses, or really great chandeliers you MUST go. The long wait will be well worth your time.

For weeks after we ate at The Walrus & Carpenter, I couldn’t stop telling people about the vanilla salted tomatoes. I started to obsess over how I could recreate them at home. Several failed attempts with a variety of salts, vanilla extract, vanilla bean pods, and olive oil followed. Then, purely by coincidence, I happened across the magic ingredient in one my favorite grocery stores, Paris Grocery. Vanilla sea salt!! Who knew such a thing existed?! More playing in the kitchen ensued, and my own version of the dish I can’t stop talking about was born. With summer and heirloom tomato season approaching, I can’t wait to make this over and over to share at dinner parties and barbecues.
Nothing says SUMMER like a big bite of this dish

Vanilla Sea Salt tomatoes

You will need:

2 large heirloom tomatoes (I like to pick very bright green or yellow ones for some visual interest)

1 ½- 2 tablespooons Vanilla Sea Salt

3 ½ tablespoons extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil

Slice tomatoes into semi-thick slices, about a ¼ inch thick. Too thick is better than too thin! Lay out tomato slices in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Personally, I love Pyrex dishes and use them for everything. Don’t worry, you won’t serve in this dish so feel free to use whatever will let tomatoes sit but will not let juices run off (a flat plat with no rim or lip won’t work). Sprinkle salt all over tomatoes and then pour oil over top. Gently shift tomatoes around to ensure that all are relatively evenly coated. Cover dish and refrigerate for 2 hours. Refrigeration step can be skipped in a pinch, but letting them rest in fridge for a bit helps flavors develop more fully.

When you are ready to serve, take out of refrigerator and lay out on a pretty plate. If you have refrigerated too long, oil may have hardened. Just let the dish sit out at room temperature to warm up and then serve. Drizzle any oil mixture left behind in the baking dish over top carefully and be prepared to amaze your friends!

Makes 4 generous appetizer-sized portions