ROASTED MIRABELLE PLUM, RED CURRANT & LEMON VERBENA POPSICLES

I really can't believe it's the last week of August.  Even with my excessive farmer's market trips and making/baking everything I can, I still feel it's gone by too fast.  I surely have not complained about the humidity or received enough mosquito bites for it to be almost September.

Luckily, since the temperature has not quite dropped yet, we still have time for some frozen treats.  I've been obsessed with coconut milk popsicles (1 can coconut milk, 2 tablespoons maple syrup and some shredded coconut for texture. That's it.) that remind me of my favorite fruit-a-freeze pops as a kid.  They are dairy-free and almost sugar-free, too.

These plum pops were my absolute favorite though & used some of my beloved new lemon verbena plant.  Not only is the color awesome, but they are tart and sweet, like every Summer popsicle should be.  And obviously the second I see a concord grape, I'm making these again.  

ROASTED MIRABELLE PLUM, RED CURRANT & LEMON VERBENA POPSICLES (Makes 6 popsicles) 

3 pints mirabelle plums, halved and seeded

1-2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/4 cup maple sugar, divided

Half pint red currants

Handful of lemon verbena leaves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Add plums to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Brush with coconut oil and top with sprinkled maple sugar (about 1-2 tablespoons).  Roast for 10-12 minutes or until juicy and tender.  Set aside to cool.

In a small saucepan, add 3/4 cup water with a good handful of lemon verbena leaves and 2 tablespoon maple sugar.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes or until mixture is very fragrant and begins to reduce.

 Add plums to blender with strained lemon verbena "syrup" with 1/4 cup water.  Blend until smooth.  Strain through a sieve (or leave with little bits) and pour into chilled popsicle molds.  Leave about 1 inch of room for each, then drop 3-4 currants into each popsicle mold.  Add lid + popsicle sticks, then chill! 

CHOCOLATE-COVERED WAFFLE BITES

If you're entertaining in a pinch, don't fret. These chocolate-covered waffles are the perfect go-to treat for a last-minute party or even everyday snack (I don't judge). I mean, how could you not pair a breakfast favorite with melted chocolate? 

For my toppings I chose crushed pretzel, pistachio, coconut flakes and Maldon sea salt. I obviously gravitate towards the salty side, but feel free to shake it up with your favorite additions. You could even make this snack a little DIY fondue event for your party. Let your guests choose their favorite toppings and make their own waffle bites. You won't have to worry about conversation starters with this one.

CHOCOLATE-COVERED WAFFLE BITES WITH CRUSHED PISTACHIO, COCONUT, CRUSHED PRETZEL & SEA SALT (gluten-free)
Serves 6-8

2 (11oz) bags of semisweet and/or bittersweet chocolate
6 waffles, toasted and cut into triangles
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
1/4 cup crushed pretzels pieces
Sea salt to taste

Using a double broiler (or microwave), melt chocolate chips over medium-low heat until completely melted. Dip waffle triangles into melted chocolate and set on parchment lined baking sheet or tray.

SEARED SQUID WITH SERRANO CHILES & LIME

Some may refer to it as calamari, but I call it squid.  It may be weird looking, but it's absolutely amazing, especially when not battered and fried like many people love.  In fact, the first time I truly loved fell in love with squid was a sauteed spicy calamari from a japanese restaurant.  Obviously, they know how to do fish right.

If you're a feel at ease entertaining, I think this would be an entertaining win.  The dish is quick to cook and extremely delicious (and surprising).  If your guests are more comfortable hearing the term "calamari" then throw that at them, but I love the surprise of turning someone's expectations around on a certain ingredient.  All in all, this recipe is great and you should serve it to those you love.

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SEARED SQUID WITH SERRANO CHILES, PARSLEY & LIME (Barely adapted from NYT)

1 lb. squid, cleaned and dried well

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

2 serranos, sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 lemon, juice

1 lime, juice

Red Pepper Flakes

Sea salt to taste

Clean and dry squid very well.  Spread out on a single-layer layered with paper towels to absorb any moisture.  Once dry, sprinkle with sea salt.

Heat large skillet over high heat.  Let the pan get very hot (without oil) for 2-3 minutes.  Depending on how large your skillet is, you may be able to do this in one batch, but make sure not to overcrowd the squid.  

Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add squid without moving for at least 1 minute.  This part will be a little dicey as the oil is hot and may spit a little, so be careful.  Let sear, then add sliced garlic, parsley and serannos and cook for about 2 more minutes.

Immediately remove from pan, squeeze with lime/lemon juice and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.  If you need to make another batch, repeat until all squid is seared. Serve (immediately) with rice or crusty bread, if you eat it ;)

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S. PELLEGRINO / Off The Menu

I was lucky enough to get an invite to S. Pellegrino's OFF THE MENU event in NYC last month.  The classic italian brand is one I've been a fan of for years, so I was obviously super flattered and excited to attend.  The night included a cocktail hour with the most delicious and refreshing Summer drinks including the "Pompelmo Negroni" (gin, campari, vermouth and San Pellegrino's Pompelmo, Grapefruit Peel) which I highly encourage you to try at home.  The space was prop-styled to perfection including an "Italian" farmer's market of produce and flowers, so by the end of the night I had about five pounds of meyer lemons and garlic in my purse.  Not a terrible thing.

The night included a four-course meal by Ink's Michael Voltaggio, which was not only memorable in terms of food, but served on Bathhouse Studios' roof deck in the East Village.  New York may not be known for good weather, but we definitely snagged one of the more perfect Summer nights to be eating outside.  It was such a beautiful gathering and I definitely had one too many of their signature Negroni cocktails.

Thank you San Pellegrino for sponsoring an incredible evening of fantastic food and cultural discovery.

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

You can also enter their ongoing Pinterest sweepstakes HERE for a chance to win a years supply of Pellegrino (um, yes please) and a chance to dine at your favorite chef's restaurant.  You can check out my dining-inspired board HERE.

HOW TO: Quick-Pickled Jalapeño & Carrot with Dill Blossoms

If pickles are those things that sit in the back of your fridge until you eat a sandwich, it's time to open up your horizons.  Turns out, you can pickle almost anything.  Pickled coriander? Plum? Kale Stems? Take your pick.  It's truly the easiest way to seem semi-impressive to a guest without ever actually doing anything.  It takes about half a minute to accomplish these recipes.  The hardest part is choosing what to pickle.

I chose pickled jalapeños and carrot sticks simply because I had tons on hand and a whole bouquet of dill blossoms.  Play around with spices, herbs, even different vinegars to find your favorite flavor combination.  Then, be sure to eat them with anything but a sandwich - tacos are better.

DILL BLOSSOM PICKLED JALAPENO & CARROT 

For Jalapeños:

(Small 12 oz jar)

5 jalapeños, sliced lengthwise and/or in rounds

1 teaspoon mustard seed

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup water

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 bunch Dill blossoms, roughly chopped

Pack your jalapeños tightly in a 1 quart glass jar leaving a bit of room at the top.  In a medium saucepan, toast mustard seeds over medium heat until fragrant, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir until sugar and salt have dissolved, bringing mixture to a boil.

Remove immediately from heat once mixture boils.  Pour brine into the jar, carefully, making sure to cover jalapeños completely.  Let mixture come to room temperature on the counter, then refrigerate with a tight lid for at least 6 hours or up to a week.  The pickled will be good for about 1 month.

For Carrots:

About 5-6 large carrots, cut into matchsticks

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon celery seed

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large bunch of dill flowers

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

Pack your carrot sticks tightly in a 1 quart glass jar leaving a bit of room at the top.  In a medium saucepan, toast mustard and celery seeds over medium heat until fragrant, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir until sugar and salt have dissolved, bringing mixture to a boil.

Remove immediately from heat once mixture boils.  Pour brine into the jar, carefully, making sure to cover vegetables completely.  Let mixture come to room temperature on the counter, then refrigerate with a tight lid for at least 6 hours or up to a week.  The pickled will be good for about 1 month.

JUNE 2014 FAVORITES

This gorgeous series by Danish photographer, Torben Eskerod, of Marseille landscapes filled with the most beautiful color gradations. 

Tavin Boutique based in Los Angeles, CA has some lovely vintages pieces inspiring some serious print & pattern lust.

A new to me food site, Bojon Gourmet, is filled with gorgeous photography, recipes and styling by the talented pastry chef, Alanna Taylor-Tobin.

A few Summer skincare miracles:

DR JART+ Beauty Balm is a paraben and sulfate-free organic makeup light enough for even the hottest days.  Another favorite: One Love Organics hydrating mist from a friend and fellow Clementine Daily editor, Elizabeth Dehn.  All I can say is she totally nailed it on this one.

DIMES NYC - Finally a place serving the California hippie food I was raised on.  This is the kind of stuff I eat daily, and now I don't always need to make it myself.

A perfect hand-woven bag from CISTANTHE made from the bark of the native Kurrajong and Sand Palm trees.  A shop that takes a modern interpretation on ancient traditions including the most amazing block-printing, hand-embroidery and hand-woven creations.  The founder, Bailey Hunter, is also one of my closest friends who happens to be an amazing person and entrepreneur.

SUMMER STAPLES!

Summer is in full effect and although I'm covered in mosquito bites, (per ushe) I'm pumped for the amazing produce.  I've rounded up some of my favorite Summer staples -- the recipes getting me through this super warm weather.   Enjoy ;)

California Breakfast Tacos

California Breakfast Tacos

Raspberry Cornmeal Muffins (GF)

Raspberry Cornmeal Muffins (GF)

Simple Soba Noodle Salad

Simple Soba Noodle Salad

Sweet Pea Pesto Tartine

Sweet Pea Pesto Tartine

Pesto, Soft Boiled Egg & Toast

Pesto, Soft Boiled Egg & Toast

Tofu Lettuce Cups

Tofu Lettuce Cups

Quinoa Tarragon Caprese Salad

Quinoa Tarragon Caprese Salad

CLEMENTINE DAILY RETREAT

 The ladies of Clementine Daily and I spent last week in the paradise of Palm Springs.  Besides nightswimming and drinking tons of wine, we spent some quality time perusing around the desert in our Buick Enclaves and soaking up some much needed sunshine.   The getaway was just what we all needed and luckily I skipped some epic NYC thunderstorms.  

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These women are truly amazing, and it was such a pleasure to spend a mini-vacation with them all.  Special thanks to THE VICEROY for such an amazing stay and SUPER special thanks to BUICK who generously gave us the opportunity to meet in the middle and cruise around in gorgeous and most importantly, AC & XM radio-equipped cars.  Totally made the LA > PS drive a lovely experience.

Feel free to follow our travels on instagram under #clementineretreat and #buickbucketlist.

RASPBERRY RHUBARB BRAMBLE

I've noticed with hyper-seasonal produce, I can never choose just one way of preparing it.  I end up buying it 6 or 7 times in a season and making literally everything I can think of.  Maybe it's crazy, but we had a long winter and I'm just too excited that there's more at the markets than just root vegetables and citrus.

 After making tons of rhubarb soda, the thought of adding alcohol naturally came up.  We make a lot of cocktails in my house.  Maybe it's since we're gluten-free, we don't drink a ton of GF beer (although post on that later, I have some faves).  We're also not the biggest wine drinkers.  Plus, Joe Chernus has to do something to make up for all my cooking ;).  As much as he's often the cocktail man, this one I came up with myself.  The bramble is one of my favorite cocktails for the summer because it's gin-based, has muddled fruit and feels light enough for a even the hottest day.  So, here's to happy hour.

RHUBARB ROSE Simple Syrup (vegan, gluten-free)

3 cups rhubarb, roughly chopped

1 1/2 cup sugar

3 cups water

1 teaspoon rose water

Place rhubarb, sugar, and 1½ cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the syrup is bright pink.

Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Strain syrup into a large jar.

 

RHUBARB RASPBERRY BRAMBLE COCKTAIL (Serves 1):

1 ounce Creme De Mure

1 1/2 ounces dry gin

1 ounce rhubarb syrup

6 large raspberries

1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice (reserve peel for garnish)

Soda water

Combine lemon juice and raspberries in a pint glass and muddle until berries are broken up.  Add rhubarb syrup, gin and ice.  Stir well to combine until chilled.  Strain into a rocks glass (over ice or straight up).  Top off with soda water. Garnish with lemon peel and serve immediately.

*If you're into texture, don't strain the muddled fruit from the glass. I've tried it both ways and I love it all.