Monday, January 20, 2020

When The Weather Gets Cold, Find The Sun In A Salad Bowl

   It's been rainy, gloomy, foggy, damp, dank and all the other winter weather descriptions we get out here in Northern California, but at least we're currently cold and NOT on fire. After seeing the horrific destruction in Australia we're grateful over here for small mercies. When the weather gets cold in California we're not as cold as my in-laws back east get, but we're plenty cold for us, and cold weather doesn't always have to mean soups or stews. Sometimes one just has to look into a salad bowl to find a little sunshine, and the bright colors and snappy flavor of this Thai Salad made with winter vegetables can save the day.

  We eat a lot of greens around here. Cabbage, kale, chard, are abundant right now, and so are  mangoes. The mangoes are at their best price right now so if you make mango chutney, now's the time to start canning. There's more to mangoes than chutney however, and they really know how to work it in this salad. So, if you can't find any sunshine or bright colors out the window, try looking for them in your salad bowl with this simple Thai  salad.

 Thai Salad

Here's What You Need:

2 cups of thinly sliced Kale
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 and 1/2 cups of thinly sliced red cabbage
1 and 1/2 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 Tbs thinly sliced green onions
1 mango cubed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
8 mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup of raw peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1/3 cup of peanut butter, your choice chunky or smooth
2 Tbs lime juice
3 Tbs honey
1 and 1/2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 and 1/2 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp kasmiri chile or a combo or cayenne and paprika mixed
1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 shallot thinly sliced
1 Tbs water

Here's What To Do:


Mix all the salad ingredients together (doesn't get simpler than that) and set it aside.

Put the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, sesame oil, chili, ginger, shallot and water in a blender.
Puree until it's all smooth and creamy.
If you need more water to smooth things out, add it.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the dressing with the salad and serve it up.  Like I said super simple, super sunny, and very tasty.

This is the base, but feel free to add whatever else you'd like, or sub any vegetable, bok choy, savoy cabbage, whatever looks good. You name it. I've never put any meat or fish in this dish but I'm pretty sure that shrimp or chicken would  work great. Either way, it's a shot of Summer in the heart of Winter and don't we all need that once in a while.  Coming up next, a fast go to pasta dish that's in regular rotation at our house.  Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Menage A Chocolate Cake.....aka ...Chocolate Three Ways

   About three years ago I was hired as consultant for a new restaurant that was opening in Sonoma, called CocoaPlanet. It was a gluten free restaurant featuring modern French cuisine. The dishes were to be light, healthy,  many  (but not all) vegetarian or vegan, and above all they were to be gluten free.  It was a good fit, because even though I myself am not gluten free, I have a lot of friends who are, and so had developed my own flour blends for baking and cooking.  I eat mainly a vegetarian, and now since my husband is off the meat, a somewhat pescetarian diet. One thing I did do was make any number of chocolate based desserts since the place was called CocoaPlanet and was the restaurant arm of CocoaPlanet Chocolate.

   I made more chocolate desserts than I had ever made in my entire life up  to that point. Most of the desserts were French but every now and then I would run across something that just couldn't be ignored and when I showed the recipe to the owners they said....can you make that gluten free????? Absolutely. It was a total lock when they saw this recipe from who wrote that it was inspired by Marcel Desaulniers from The Food Network. It was a chocolate extravaganza!

   I never made this for the restaurant, but it was requested a lot by the owners and so this Christmas my husband asked if I'd make it for our holiday dinner and so I did. It's actually quite a simple recipe and can be made ahead which is always a plus. The most important thing about this is to always use  the BEST quality chocolate you can find, since chocolate is all she /he wrote when it comes to this dessert. I made my version gluten free, using my own mix, but this will work with regular flour as well. So without further's my gluten free version

Chocolate Three Ways


Here's What You Need:


The Cake:

3 oz unsweetened chocolate finely chopped
1/4 cup hot water
2 Tbs cocoa powder
3/4 cup of  caster sugar
6 Tbs softened unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour...(regular or gluten free)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

The Mousse:

3/4 tsp gelatin powder
1 Tbs water
6 oz semi sweet chocolate coarsely chopped
2 Tbs caster sugar
1 and 1/2 cups cold whipping cream

The Ganache:

3/4 cup whipping cream
1 Tbs unsalted butter
9 oz semi sweet chocolate coarsely chopped

Here's What To Do:


This cake is made in stages. First the cake is baked and cooled in the  springform pan.
Then the mousse is made and added to the top of the cooled cake still in the pan, and chilled to set. Then the ganache is poured on top of the chilled mousse (still in the pan) and set to chill in the fridge until the whole thing is un-molded and served!  Very straight forward and actually simple in principal. So Here Goes:

The Cake: 


Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to  350 degrees.

Lightly grease and flour an 8 inch springform  pan. Tap out any excess flour.

Put the chocolate into a small heat-proof bowl, bring the water to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Stir it until the chocolate is melted and smooth. This takes a couple of minutes.

Then stir in your cocoa powder and whisk it until it's smooth.
Finally, add in 1/4 cup of the sugar and stir it up until it's thick and glossy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and the remaining sugar ( 1/2 cup) together until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time making sure they're well mixed into the batter.

Add in the vanilla.

Add in your chocolate mixture and blend until it's thoroughly combined.

 In a small bowl mix the flour, the baking soda, and the salt. Stir it together with a whisk.

Add half of the flour mixture to the batter, followed by the buttermilk. Blend together until it's all mixed, then add the rest of the flour and blend until it's combined.

Pour the batter into the prepped cake pan, and smooth it out.

Bake it for 25 or 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cake still in the pan, to room temperature on a wire rack.

The Mousse:


Sprinkle the gelatin over 1 Tbs of water in a small bowl and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Place the 6 oz of chopped chocolate and the sugar in a medium bowl.

Bring 1/2 cup of the whipping cream to a simmer over a medium-high heat then take the pan off the heat and whisk in the gelatin mixture. Stir it until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and sugar and whisk until the chocolate has melted and everything is smooth. Cool to room temperature, (the mixture will thicken as it stands).

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat 1 cup of whipping cream at medium speed until it starts to thicken (30 secs or so) then increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form (30 to 60 secs).

Use a whisk to mix 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then use a rubber spatula to fold the rest of the whipped cream in, and fold it gently until no streaks are visible.

Spoon the chocolate mousse into the spring form pan on top of the cooled cake. Smooth the top with an offset spatula and put the whole thing in the fridge to chill until the mousse is set. This takes about 2 hours.

The Ganache:


Heat 3/4 cup of whipping cream and 1 Tbs of unsalted butter in a medium pan over medium high heat. Take it off the heat just before it starts to  boil.

Pour it over the 9 oz of chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Let it cool to room temperature then pour it over the  chilled and set mousse layer in the springform pan.

Refrigerate until set.

 When you're ready to serve, un-mold the cake from the spring form pan.

Serve it with lightly sweetened whipped cream and some fresh strawberries.

This was a huge hit at the end of Christmas dinner.
Even though this recipe has multiple steps, the reason I consider it easy to make is that it's made in stages, it can be made ahead and it's damn delicious!
So there's your year end chocolate fix just in time for New Years Eve!!
Coming up next more cooking, and some year end party treats! Stay tuned.
Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Cheap , Fast, and Totally In Control Scallops With Rice Ramen

   We're in the midst of a lot of work. In between fire evacuations, and PG&E blackouts, we've been trying to get a TV pilot finished and out of the house. Since I cook most days, I always need things that can be cooked up quickly with minimum fuss and with ingredients I already have in hand. I keep a lot of fish in my freezer since Alan has switched to a piscetarian diet. I always have vegetables and herbs in the garden and I am now a huge fan of  these cheaper than cheap Rice Ramen Noodles from Lotus Foods. 

   I started buying these for myself a few years ago when I wanted something easy and quick to mix with some vegetables for my dinner. Now I keep them in the house as a change from basmati rice in some dishes. The noodles are gluten-free and come in a variety of types. They're a great thing to keep in the pantry for a fast meal in a pinch,  plus did I say cheap?

   Which brings me to this recipe. I originally found it in the NYT, a nostalgic piece about the menu at the Windows on the World Restaurant at the World Trade Center. They evidently served a delicious sea scallop appetizer. After reading the recipe I thought why the heck can't this just be an entree served with rice or rice noodles. Which brings me to another sale item. There was a sale at our local whole foods on big wild caught sea scallops, so I picked a few up. 4 per person seemed about right and I set about cooking.

Scallops in Brown Butter with Capers, and Lemon

Here's What You Need:

8 large sea scallops
4 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs unsalted butter
1 Tbs finely chopped shallot
2  Tbs capers rinsed of excess salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup chopped  Italian parsley

Here's What To Do:

Pat the scallops dry and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Add the olive oil to a large pan.
When the oil is hot, add in the scallops. A few at a time is necessary so that they have elbow room even though scallops do not have elbows - you know what I mean.

When the scallops have cooked through, take then out of the pan and keep them warm while you finish the dish.
Add  your shallots and butter to the pan you cooked the scallops in.

When the butter has browned and foamed, add in the capers...

...and the lemon juice...

...and the chopped parsley.

I cooked my ramen noodles for about 4 minutes.

When they were done, I drained them and rinsed them under cool water.

I put everything back in the pan for a few minutes just to warm things up...

...then plated it.

Spoon the sauce over the scallops and the ramen noodles, (or rice if you're using that) and serve it up.

   This was crazy fast and if one is cooking on a weekday, you can't save more time than this. It's on regular rotation at our house, and it can even be a simple yet elegant company dinner for friends. Speaking of friends, coming up next, I'll have  some holiday favorites for all the celebrating that's heading toward us. Meanwhile follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Cooking Season is Upon Us!!!!! To Start Off...Apple Almond Cake, Perfect For Holiday Get Togethers....And It's Gluten Free!!

   It's time to fire up your ovens, the serious holiday cooking season is upon us and it's busy as hell over here. I've been prepping for Thanksgiving, don't even ask about Christmas!  We're dealing with finishing a TV pilot, and I'm learning how to tandoor on a real tandoor oven!


  This beauty arrived courtesy of the good folks at Homdoor and I'm setting out to learn how to cook on the real deal. You'll soon be seeing a bunch of new recipes  and the ongoing adventures of cooking old school style, so stay tuned for that one.

   Meanwhile  I want to turn you on to Tripcrafters, who've published a list of the some of the top Indian Food Bloggers and where they like to travel for food!  If you want to get away from the kitchen and let someone else do the work during the season check out  their favorites right here:

Top Indian Food Bloggers

Not only will you find a lot of great food blogs and recipes but you'll know the best places to grab a great meal! If you are cooking however, I'm  recycling this holiday favorite at our house.  

It's a cake that is not only tasty and takes advantage of all the best apples of the season, it's naturally gluten free. So if you have any gluten free friends or family coming over to party. You want this cake!

   When I was a kid, there were only three kinds of apples that I knew of, green ones, red ones, and yellow ones. I liked the green ones the most as I tend to like things on the tart side, and I loved our trips from San Francisco up to Sebastopol inorder to pick Gravenstein apples. Gravensteins are now known as a heritage fruit. So there. Back in the day, they weren't that classy... of course there were a lot more orchards of Gravensteins back then. They've since been removed for wine grapes and buildings, so it is what it is. Nowadays, Gravensteins are available around here at the end of the Summer and everyone scoops up all they can get their pie hooks on. So what does this cake have to do with Gravensteins?? Not much except if you can get some, they'd be great in this recipe.

   Every year when apple season rolls around, I'm always amazed at the variety of apples grown around here in Sonoma County and parts north: Cameos, Braeburns,  Pink Ladys. Before I ever heard of Pink Lady apples the only Pink Ladies I knew were these two

Anyway, the point is there are a lot of apples out there. This cake only requires two types  of  Granny Smiths for the filling, and Braeburn for the sliced apple topping. The cake is very simple to put together. The only tough part is peeling and coring the apples which when put together on a list of anyone's problem is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down toward the bottom. The cake is also naturally gluten free since it's made with almond flour.  The best part however is that you can bake this in the afternoon and have it for dinner that night, or even earlier if you don't care about spoiling your appetite.

    Sorry, but I couldn't resist.

    So what besides my love of apples led me to bake this cake? It all started with a platter. A few weeks back I met Mary Jurek of Mary Jurek Designs. I have bought a few of her pieces in the past, and am a huge fan of everything she makes. Our new house is a mid century modern and when we renovated  we went looking for beautiful, clean, simple, modern designs to fill it. Mary Jurek's pieces totally fit the bill. I love things that are simple, functional and elegant, and so when Mary offered to send me a platter with the challenge to make something wonderful to put on it, I had to come up with something platter-worthy. Thus, this Apple Almond Holiday Cake.


Apple Almond Gluten Free Cake

Here's What You Need: 
3 1/4 cups of almond flour
8 eggs (room temperature)
1 3/4 cups of sugar plus 1 tsp sugar
3 Granny Smith apples
2 Braeburn apples
1 tsp vanilla plus 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs unflavored oil (Canola etc)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds
1 10 inch springform pan
parchment paper
butter for greasing pan and paper

Here's What To Do:
Grease the springform pan.

Cut out a round of parchment paper and fit it into the bottom of the pan.

When it's in the bottom of the pan, grease the paper also.

Set the pan aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the almond flour and the sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Blend them together.
Peel and core 3 Granny Smith apples.
Chunk them up and place them in a small pot.

Add in 1 tsp sugar...

...1/2 tsp cardamom and 1/2 tsp cinnamon...

...1 Tbs lemon juice...

Mix everything together well, place over medium heat and cook gently while keeping a lid on the pan. You want the apple chunks to get soft.
Stir every now and then to make sure nothing burns or sticks. This usually takes about 10 minutes or less.
When the apples are soft mash them to a thick puree.

Set the puree aside to cool.
Meanwhile back at the stand mixer, add the eggs, one at a time making sure each is well blended in before adding another one.

Keep the mixer on a relatively low speed. I use Speed 2.

Add in 1 tsp vanilla.

When the apples you mashed have cooled a bit, add them to the batter in the stand mixer.

Mix until everything is well blended, then set aside.
Peel and slice the Braeburn apples into 1/4 inch thick wedges.

In a small skillet heat the honey and oil together.

When they are blended together and warm, add in  the Braeburn apple slices.

Cook them gently, turning them very now and then so they are well coated with the honey and oil.
When they are coated, take the skillet off the heat and add in the 1/2 tsp of vanilla.

Pour the cake batter into the springform pan.

Scatter the top with the sliced almonds.

Take the Braeburn apple slices and arrange them in a pinwheel shape in the center of the cake.

Take the juices from the skillet and drizzle them over the top of the cake.

Put the cake pan on the center rack of the oven.

Bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Check the cake at the 35 minute mark. If it's getting too brown you may cover part of it with some foil to protect it. I've never had to do this but every oven is different.
Take the cake out when it's done, and set the pan on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before you remove it from the springform pan.
I placed the cake on Mary Jureks' beautiful scalloped metal platter, it was like they were made to be together.

We served it up plain,  but if you wish you can top it with a bit of lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Coming up next....a great recipe from a very unexpected source. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Simple Scallops and Shrimp For An Easy Weekday Meal

   Well,  long time no blog and it's really good to be back. As many people who read or watch the news know, things have been chaotic around here in Sonoma County. We've been dealing with fires, crazy mad winds, unbreathable air, and PG&E's "public safety " blackouts. In the last few weeks I've learned more about generators and solar power than I ever thought I'd need to know, and I've had to toss newly  purchased groceries. I was prepped for the power down with solar chargers, bags of ice in the freezer, batteries etc, but then the air was so bad we felt the best thing was to get out of dodge... and so we did. We decamped to San Francisco for about 6 days. The air there was a bit better.

   So now, back home in Sonoma it's once again time to catch up with cooking. Getting back to work again demands some nice and easy workday lunches (or dinners) and this is one of the new stars of my rotation here at home.


Here's What You Need:


1/2 pound of large shrimp
1/2 pound of large sea scallops
3 and 1/2 Tbs of  sesame oil
1/2 lb of Japanese eggplants halve them lengthwise and cut them diagonally into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsps of sugar
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp chili oil
1 Tbs cilantro chopped
1 Tbs thinly sliced basil leaves
1 cup of frozen peas defrosted

Coconut Rice


1 Can of full fat coconut milk (14 oz)
1 and 1/4 cups water
1 tsp sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 and 1/2 cups Basmati rice

Here's What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Halve the eggplants and cut them into slices.

Place them in a bowl and drizzle them with vegetable oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Place them on a rimmed baking sheet skin side up...

...and roast them in a 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes  or until they are soft
Set them aside.

In a large pot combine the coconut milk, water,  sugar, and salt.
Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add in the rice.

Bring the rice to a boil on medium heat, then cover the pot, turn the heat down to the lowest it will go and cook for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender.

Meanwhile, back at the shrimp and scallops....
Pat them dry with a paper towel and season them lightly with salt and pepper.

Put 2 Tbs of sesame oil in a skillet or kadhai.

When the oil is hot  add in the scallops and shrimp and sear them.

You may need to do this in batches so there is no crowding. The scallops and shrimp should be just cooked through. This takes about 4 minutes.
When they're cooked, set them aside cover and keep them warm.
Add the water and the soy sauce to the kadhai.

Add in the sugar and chili oil.
Simmer the mixture, and reduce it by half.
Stir in the lime juice.
And the peas.

When they are cooked, put the shrimp, and scallops back in the kadhai.

Add in the roasted eggplant pieces and warm everything up.

When the rice is ready scoop it into bowls and top with the eggplant, scallop, and shrimp mixture.

Top each serving with chopped cilantro and some slivered basil.

Serve it up!

 This is one of those no recipe recipes, in other words you can add to this, mushrooms, some more vegetables, other fish...whatever you've got  that feels like it belongs there. It doesn't get simpler then this, and that's how I like it. Coming up next, a salad that's a meal, and something sweet! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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