Kashmiri Spiced Carrot Cupcakes
Posted by Rebekah Wicke on 7/27/17
Watch as Chef Elizabeth uses our Kashmiri Spiced Carrot Cake Mix from the new South Asian Collection to make cupcakes!
Posted by Elizabeth Lindemer on 3/28/17
We arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Saturday evening around 7:30pm. It was warm and somewhat humid, but for someone who is always cold, it was quite comfortable. We caught a taxi and checked into our room with the typical excitement of chefs being in an almost foreign country and having empty stomachs from a 4 hour plane ride. So, naturally, we decided to explore and find some good food. Our first bearings brought us to the beach, which was only 2 blocks from where we were staying! It was dark so we couldn’t see much, but as we looked down the sandy strip in each direction you could see the lighted patios of beach side resorts and restaurants.
A woman walking her fluffy dogs on the soft cream colored sand recommended that we head over to one of her favorite places La Playita. The restaurant was just a short walk away, and as we arrived we were greeted with a warm smile and seated on the patio which reached out over the ocean. Waves lapped at the boards under our feet gently, and we waited patiently to place our order...and waited...and waited. Finally we moved back over to the bar, since this is where the staff seemed to be congregated in hopes of better service. (Island life is a bit more laid back, which is just what was needed, but we were starving) One of the young men immediately noticed that we had moved to the bar and jumped into action making us drinks and placing our order. Although we didn’t have the sound of the water, we had the joy of conversation with the young men working there who were happy to share their stories and recommend more places to see and restaurants to visit during our stay. That night we dined on Tuna Tartar and Whole Fried Red Snapper, both of which had that sweet and clean taste that only comes with very freshly caught fish. The snapper had been placed in a marinade of sofrito (Puerto Rican sofrito version is heavy laden with green peppers, onions, garlic and varying amounts of spicy peppers) this morning and then fried to a crispy perfection before being topped with a mixture of garlic and butter sauce. Our server explained that the chefs went shopping every morning so that they worked with the freshest ingredients possible. Oh, the perks of being in Puerto Rico!
After spending much of the next day enjoying the sun and surf of the local beach, we decided we were ready to find a more authentic experience and would check out the area that was recommend by our server from the night before. One such place, we were told was a favorite of the locals....just what we were looking for!
We traveled about four miles west down 187 to Piñones and as we arrived we could see the place was packed, bumper to bumper cars and crowds of people. The area of Piñones is just over a little, heavily trafficked, two lane bridge and bumps up to the shore. It’s a small space that is basically a loop with limited parking and packed mostly with restaurants that feature open aired seating and cases of hot food stacked high with an assortment of fried and grilled goodies. It was clear that this wasn’t a tourist trap since among the crowds milling between the cars, restaurants and beach we appeared to be the only tourist here.
It didn’t take long to see that one of the restaurants, Puerta Del Mar, was the crowd favorite. Lines of people waited to order from the walk-up counters, tables inside all packed with happy families and friends, and a delicious plume of smoke wafting from the outdoor grill that was being manned by two jovial men.
Since neither my husband nor I speak Spanish (five years of French aren’t coming in too handy....), we played a bit of charades with Fidel, our waiter, to place an order. It took a bit of patience on both ends, but we ended up with everything we wanted. We started with chicken and pork pinchos; it was these lovely snacks that had lured us from across the parking area with their grilled BBQ goodness! The scrumptious skewers of meat are basted over the grill with alternating rounds of a sweet BBQ sauce and generous amounts of melted butter until they are perfectly cooked. This was followed by the traditional tostones (mashed and fried plantains), fried pork mofungo served with slightly sweet and vinegary slices of pickled onions and peppers, and then finished off with a sweet and delicately briny array of raw oysters and clams on the half-shell that were so big they were falling out of their shells!
Although we were clearly not the typical customer here and spoke basically no Spanish, we found everyone to be so pleasant and helpful. Something we would continue to see throughout our stay in Puerto Rico. We even managed to share a few laughs, mostly at our expense as we attempted/butchered the language while trying to pick up a thing or two.
Read more about Chef Elizabeth Lindemer here.
Posted by Elizabeth Lindemer on 2/7/17
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz
Around the world chocolate is adored and loved by millions. It is used to helps us celebrate the good times, as a gift to someone special, as a reward for a job well done, as a form of art and creativity, and, when times are tough, it can also be comfort. But the chocolate that many of know and love has come quite a long way, and for much of its known existence it has not been so readily available to the masses, like it is today. Let’s take a quick look at how we have arrived at our place in time with this love affair.
The tree that is responsible for giving us the amazing gift that is chocolate is called Theobroma cacao, which translates to “food of the gods.” And it’s no wonder that it received this name.
The first known evidence of chocolate is traced back to as early as 1900 B.C. in what we now know as Mexico. It is said to have been discovered in the Central American rainforest by the Mesoamericans, who cultivated, fermented, roasted and ground the beans into a paste which they would combine with spices such as chili and sometimes honey and then brew it into a frothy beverage. In fact, the word “chocolate” can be traced back to the Aztec word “xocoatl” which is a bitter drink that is brewed from cacao beans. This beverage was found to be energizing and some even thought of it as an aphrodisiac. As a chef and someone that follows culinary trends I love to find tidbits of information such as this. I had known that it was roasted and brewed into a beverage, but was unaware of the fermenting. Fermenting has become such a popular trend over the past few years, and I always find it so intriguing to see how the “new and big” trends almost always tie back into processes that have been used for centuries.
The Mayans would reserve this exceptional treat for their most noble citizens, priests, warriors and rulers. And when the Spanish conquistadors brought it back to their homeland it was only enjoyed by the most elite, who adapted it slightly by adding the sweetness of cane sugar and sometimes a hint of cinnamon. Throughout so much of its life, chocolate remained a treat for the aristocrats and privileged of society, and minus the addition of sweeteners and some spices was enjoyed in a similar way as the Mesoamericans.
It’s not unforeseeable that chocolate would have remained as an elitist treasure for even longer, but in 1828 a Dutch chemist named Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented the cocoa press which would extract the rich and fatty cocoa butter from roasted beans leaving behind a dry substance that was easily processed into a fine powder....cocoa powder. The creation of cocoa powder enabled chocolate to be a much more affordable and accessible product, and put its innovation on the fast track.
Less than 20 years after the invention of the cocoa press, and centuries after the Mesoamericans had discovered this magical bean, J.S. Frye & Sons, a British chocolate company, created the first solid edible chocolate bar. And it wasn’t long afterwards that in 1879, the now world renowned Rodolphe Lindt created the conching machine, which would produce chocolate with an extremely velvety texture and superior taste. Since then we have had many more advances which have made chocolate one of the most popular foods in the world. It is reported that in America alone, on average each consumer eats about 12 pounds a year!
It’s hard to imagine a life without chocolate, at least in my book. Technically speaking, I don’t NEED chocolate to survive. And if memory serves me then I’m pretty sure that chocolate didn’t have its own category as part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Yes, it is a food and therefore it’s included in the basic physiological needs, but it’s more than just...food.
It is said to truly love you must understand, so now that we understand a little bit better I feel it’s high time that we have an opportunity to enjoy our love of chocolate!
I’m sharing with you my recipe for chocolate mousse. Yes you can buy packaged easy prep mousse in your grocery store, but you’ll find this much more indulgent and once you get the hang of making it you’ll see it’s not that hard at all. I feel that chocolate mousse is the perfect dessert for someone who is craving rich and indulgent chocolate but not something that is heavy, such as a cake. It’s similar to a pudding or custard but much lighter and more airy. It’s just classy enough for entertaining and simple since you can make it a day ahead. Plus it looks very beautiful with just simple garnish of a few berries. You’ll be hard pressed to find a lover of chocolate turn their nose up to a cute cup filled with such a delicate and satisfying treat!
Yield: approximately 6 servings
• Heavy Cream ½ cup
• Egg Whites 4 whites
• Sugar 2 ½ Tbsp
• Bittersweet Chocolate 1/2 pound
• Butter, cold & cut into 4 4 Tbsp
• Egg Yolks 4 yolks
1. Whip heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Whip this until it forms stiff peaks.
3. Set up a double boiler. A what? How do I do this?
a. Find a small sauce pot and fill with about 1 ½ - 2 inches of water. b. Find a metal mixing bowl to sit over the pot. It should be slightly larger than the pot.
4. Heat the water over medium heat until boiling: then reduce heat to low.
5. Add the chocolate chips to the bowl and let melt while stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula.6. Add the butter and stir until melted and fully incorporated; Remove from the heat.
7. In a separate bowl, gently whisk the egg yolks.
8. Very slowly drizzle the warm chocolate mixture into egg yolks while gently and continuously whisking the yolks. (This is called tempering the yolks.)
9. Gently fold ½ of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then repeat with ½ of the egg whites. Repeat with remaining whipped cream and egg whites.
10. Portion into serving bowls, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
11. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh berries.