Biscotti-Hazelnut Spread Ice-cream Sandwiches

It has been warm in San Francisco in a way that is almost confusing.  The rest of the country is freezing.  It’s snowing in Dallas before the Superbowl and we are walking around in tank tops and shorts.  I am so used to the perpetual chill in the air in San Francisco that I feel “naked” without a jacket.  I have never seen my daughter run around in a skirt and a t-shirt in the evening till last Sunday.  San Francisco gets about 5 days a year like that (real summer) and I feel like we have had more than five in a row.

Today is another great day for a biscotti-hazelnut spread ice cream sandwich.  This recipe is inspired by Giada’s Biscotti- Gelato Sandwiches and Espresso and our recent trip to Rome, which has resulted in fascination with all things Italian.  It couldn’t be simpler to make.  Store bought biscotti, Amadei hazelnut chocolate spread that we brought back from our travels and mini scoops of vanilla ice-cream.

A great treat for any day, even if it freezing out.  A fun finale to a dinner party.  Kids will love assembling this one with you.

Enjoy the glorious weather!

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Guest Post: “Three Bears” Grilled Salmon Tacos

My friend Colleen who I have written about before is another super-mom.   She just has it together – she is lucky that like Stacie’s friend Becky, she is super like-able.  We are obsessed with tacos (and taco trucks) these days and this recipe is making my mouth water!  “Three Bears” Grilled Salmon tacos are getting made real soon at our casa and I hope you will try this recipe as well.

PS – Colleen – nice use of the word “liberally” :).

“Three Bears” Grilled Salmon Tacos by Colleen Moore

I have three kids, three years apart, so I need meals that please the whole crowd! My children love this meal because they get to assemble their own food, which is always fun for busy little hands. Even children who do not typically care for fish will love this because it is full of gooey cheese, flavorful sauces and fun textures. When we serve this dish, my husband and I joke that our children are The Three Bears because of the quantity of salmon they consume!

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs salmon (we like King Salmon, about 1.5 in thick at the widest point)

1.5 cups of cabbage (may substitute fennel, jicama)…this gives the soft tortilla a  “crunch”)

Corn or flour tortillas

8 oz (or more if you love cheese) grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack

Rub:

1 TBSP cumin
1 TBSP cayenne
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP black pepper

Yogurt Sauce:

1 large onion
6 garlic cloves
3-4 ripe medium tomatoes
5 TBSP plain yogurt or sour cream
2 small tomatillos
Olive oil (to coat vegetables)

Dan’s Million Dollar Salsa (so called because if my husband Dan would market this, we would make millions. It is the best salsa in the world):

1 large onion
5-6 ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2-3 limes juice
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp salt and pepper (or to taste)

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Prepare the fish:

(My oldest son loves to help prepare and apply the salmon rub; it is a strange sensation to pat a big slab of salmon!). Combine the Rub ingredients in a small bowl. Apply liberally to fish to form a crust. (Note: we usually leave about 3-4 oz of the fish bare for our toddler who loves salmon but not spiciness (yet!). We grill this small section of fish 1 minute less per side).  Let sit for 30 mins (no longer than 1 hour).

2) Chop cabbage (or fennel, jicama) into very thin strips and set aside in a bowl.

3) Make yogurt sauce:

Preheat oven to 350. Drizzle vegetables with olive oil. Roast for 35-40 mins.  Purée vegetables with the plain yogurt or sour cream.

4) Grill the fish:

Coat grill with a non-stick spray so that fish is easy to flip.  Grill approximately 6-8 mins per side.

5) Assemble the tortillas:

Heat frying pan on medium high (no oil). Add tortillas and toast until desired doneness.
Flip and add handful of cheese and cover with lid. Cook for additional 20 seconds or until cheese melts. Remove and place flaked fish on the cheese. Add cabbage (or whatever crunchy vegetable you selected, i.e. fennel, jicama). Top liberally with yogurt sauce and Dan’s Million Dollar Salsa! Top that with any additional personal favorites you desire (i.e. avocados, jalapenos, etc)!

Honey Walnut Cake

Honey and walnuts are a classic combination.  Whenever there is no dessert in the house and we want some, we mix some walnuts with honey with the slightest pinch of cardamom powder.  This cake worked well with fresh churned vanilla buttermilk ice-cream (replace fruits with 1 tbsp vanilla extract).  I bought some fancy wildflower honey (pricey!) and now Ria wants this particular honey in her oatmeal every morning.  Somehow she figured out that this is the good stuff and knew exactly where I put it in the pantry.   Hmmmmmm….somebody’s paying attention.

Honey Walnut Cake – from The Vineyard Kitchen by Maria Helm Sinskey

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups walnut pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp grated orange zest

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

10 nice walnut halves with 2 tbsp honey for garnish

Softly whipped cream (optional) – we served with vanilla buttermilk ice-cream

Method

  1. Preheat over to 350F
  2. Butter a 9-inch cake pan
  3. Spread the walnuts on a sheet pan and toast in oven for 6 minutes.  Cool and rub walnuts in a towel to remove loose skins
  4. Grind the walnuts in a food processor with 1/2 cup of flour until very fine.  In a medium bowl, combine the ground walnuts, remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.  Reserve
  5. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter with the honey and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides of the bowl
  6. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the orange zest and vanilla.  Add it in thirds to the butter mixture.  Beat well to incorporate after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the dry ingredients and mix till fully incorporated
  7. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared cake pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  8. While the cake is baking, toast the ten walnut halves on a sheet pan for 8 minutes.  While they are still warm rub the walnuts with a towel to remove the excess skin and place them in a small bowl.  Add the 2 tbsps of honey and stir until the walnuts are coated.  Reserve the walnut halves for garnish
  9. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn it out onto a cake rack to cool.  Garnish the edge of the cake with the walnut halves
  10. Serve with softly whipped cream or vanilla buttermilk ice-cream (like we did 🙂 )

Taco Tuesday Party!

Inspired by my friend Ritu and her family’s weekly tradition of “Taco Tuesdays”, we decided to make our own. Ritu gave me a McCormick Taco seasoning mix packet which is pretty good but if you want to save some money, you can make your own “taco seasoning” with cumin, coriander, chilli powder (optional), oregano, salt and pepper.  Kids enjoy assembling their own food and this could be a fun birthday party food idea, followed by make-your-own ice-cream sundaes.  That’s my kind of party :).  Maybe we can do this for MY birthday party – why should Ria have all the fun?

Tacos are all the rage these days, and you can put almost anything in a taco – even Indian or Chinese food.   Tacos are a great vehicle for almost any kind of leftover.  I am dying to try the Kogi Korean Taco Truck in Southern California.  May have to make them at home soon since SoCal is a ways away.  Just need a good recipe for bulgogi, kimchee and some Asian slaw……

To get Ria interested in meals we sometimes call a regular meal a “party”.  All you need is a catchy name for the party, some music (Bollywood music in our case), silly dancing to work up an appetite and enthusiasm!  Here are some ideas for fillings which I made recently for a “Taco Tuesday Party”.

  • Ground turkey fried with taco seasoning
  • Sauteed spinach/chard
  • Sauteed cubed zucchini with onions & oregano, topped with parmesan cheese
  • Sauteed mushrooms with chilly flakes, salt & pepper.  (Ria doesn’t eat mushrooms so we can make this one spicy)
  • Black beans (out of can) made with onions, garlic, taco seasoning and a bay leaf
  • Guacamole – I make ours out of cubed avocado, oregano, salt, pepper and lots of lemon/lime juice
  • Queso fresco – my new favorite cheese.  You can use feta but queso fresco is available at most regular grocery stores
  • Sour cream or yogurt
  • Salsa.  Our current favorite is from Papalote in the Mission.  This stuff is GOOD!!  Even Bobby Flay thinks so.  It is making its way into everything.  Think grilled cheese sandwiches with this salsa.  You can make your own or use any store-bought favorite you fancy.  Another, item Ria does not like so we can have it spicy.  Here’s a photo of the Papalote salsa to get your mouth watering.  If you live in the Bay Area – you have to get some.

Go ahead and throw your own taco party and let us know how it goes!

Condensed Milk Vanilla Ice-cream!

Condensed milk was a childhood favorite of mine.  I am so glad I (sort of) outgrew it.  I have fond memories of begging my mother for a spoon of cold condensed milk from the refrigerator as dessert.  She would make a can last forever and ration it out to me super slowly. (She was a good mother otherwise).  Somehow condensed milk is not as big in America as it is in Asian countries.  Strangely, my “American” kid is not so fond of it.  I tried to pass on my childhood addiction to her but it did not really work (go figure!).  However, this condensed milk ice-cream she did like….I may just be a little bit crazy to want her to like this super-sweet stuff :).

My ice-cream maker is getting a ton of use these days much to my visiting mother’s chagrin.  I think it is her fault for eating it all in one sitting and then blaming her grandchild for eating it.  Upcoming flavors I want to try are roasted banana, peach with cardamom and pineapple (mom doesn’t know).

I have been obsessing about making condensed milk vanilla ice-cream (inspired by this from NYTimes) for quite a while and finally pulled the trigger recently. I modified the recipe a little bit and thought I was headed for disaster but it worked out well.

If you like sweet, very sweet and if you like condensed milk, this is a must try.  It’s awesome, creamy-silky and incredibly sinful!  Serve it with salted roasted pecans for a nice counterpoint.

Condensed Milk Vanilla Ice-cream

Ingredients

1 cup cold heavy cream

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

1 (14-oz) can cold sweetened condensed milk

1. Combine all ingredients and transfer to ice-cream maker and churn for 35-40 minutes

2. Transfer into a container with lid. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight

Serve with roasted nuts…..and anything else you fancy.  Ice-cream sandwich anyone?

Taking good photos of ice-cream is impossible….this melting action took at most a minute.  I will make this again and be back with a better photo.  In the meantime, I need to finish some ice-cream!