I obviously have a sweet tooth, which is why I had to visit the dentist last week.  Just a minor filling, but it was still a reminder that I should cut back.  My dentist is not an aggressive dentist, but pretty conservative, which is why our relationship works.  He always has candy at the check out during Halloween and Christmas…you get my drift!!!

While at the market last week I was shopping and trying to be “conservative ” on my sweet intake.  I spotted these succulent Meyer lemons and my mind started running with ideas.  First I thought maybe a summer cocktail or some preserves.  Then I remembered reading about lemon sponge pudding.  It’s a mix between a pudding and a souffle.

As you can tell, I’m not holding to the no-sweets-rule this week (and most likely never will).  I did go on a diet once (my husband and I wanted to get skinny for our wedding…haha).  It didn’t last long.  We were miserable, even if it did work.  I’m not a diet kind of person.  I feel if you stick to whole foods and don’t eat preservatives, you’re on the right path.  I like to enjoy life to the fullest.  If I want to order a bottle of champagne, so be it.  Or a chocolate souffle…I’m not going to question it, I’m just going to enjoy it!!!  So enjoy!!!

 

Recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart:

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pot de creme pots
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter seven 4 1/2-ounce pots de creme pots, or six 6-ounce ramekins; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together butter, granulated sugar and salt. Stir in yolks. Add flour, milk, and lemon juice and zest; mix until incorporated.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into butter mixture.
  3. Ladle batter into prepared pots de creme pots. Transfer pots to a roasting pan. Pour boiling water around pots to come halfway up the sides. Bake until just set and lightly golden, about 20 minutes (25 minutes for ramekins). Remove from roasting pan; let cool slightly. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve.

 

Since the east coast was pummelled with snow and wind chill temps were in the zeros, my brother decided he had had enough and needed some sunshine.  So why not come and spend a weekend with your sis and awesome brother-in-law in California?  My brother has come to visit many many times so I wanted to take him somewhere he hasn’t been.

We decided that we would spend an 80 degree Sunday at the Los Angeles Arboretum.  After a long day of walking through the picturesque gardens we decided to head across the street to the Santa Anita Track. Now I have been to race tracks before, but this was something special.  First I learned that this was Bukowski’s old haunt.  Second it just made me want to put on my Sunday best with a gourgous hat of course.

After the first bet I could not resist this amazing aroma that was whiffing my way.  Soft pretzels…yum.  I have not had one since I was home last.  I did not have to twist my own arm, I just got one.  It was warm, salty, and perfect with spicy mustard.

My favorite soft pretzels are from the East Coast, especially Philadelphia.  I have had many at baseball games, trips to the library, or coming or going in the airport.  My favorite is to get a bag of them while leaving Philly (at the airport) and most of the time they never reach Los Angeles.  So I thought why not give it a shot and make a traditional New York-style soft pretzel.  I have to say this recipe is fool proof. I used maldon sea salt as as topping instead of pretzel salt.  Enjoy!!

 

This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons Maldon sea salt

Directions

  1. Stir together sugar, yeast, and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (105 to 110°F) in a glass measuring cup, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
  2. Whisk together 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon table salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Dust work surface with 1 tablespoon flour, then turn out dough and knead, gradually dusting with just enough additional flour to make a smooth sticky dough, about 8 minutes. (Dough needs to be somewhat sticky to facilitate rolling and forming into pretzels).
  3. Return dough to bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface and cut into 8 equal pieces. Using your palms, roll 1 piece back and forth on a clean dry work surface into a rope about 24 inches long. If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust them with flour. Twist dough into a pretzel shape. (Dough will retract as you form the pretzel.)
  4. Transfer pretzel with your hands to an oiled baking sheet and form 7 more pretzels in same manner with remaining dough, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.
  5. Let pretzels stand, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Bring a wide 6-quart pot of water to a boil.
  6. Using both hands, carefully add 3 pretzels, 1 at a time, to boiling water and cook, turning over once with tongs, until pretzels are puffed and shape is set, about 3 minutes. Transfer parboiled pretzels to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining 5 pretzels in 2 batches.
  7. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and oil paper, then arrange pretzels on sheet. Brush pretzels lightly with some of egg and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until golden brown and lightly crusted, about 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve warm.

 

Mint chocolate chip ice cream

When I started this blog I wanted share things that were nostalgic to me. Since it has been cold and rainy here in Los Angeles, I thought why not crank up the heat and act like its hot and make some ice cream.   Mint chocolate chip ice cream reminds me of hot late summer nights playing wiffle ball,  catching lightening bugs, and a run to Dippy’s Ice Cream before they got too busy.   But most of all it reminds me of my lifetime best friend Jayme whom I consider a soul sister.

Mint chocolate chip ice cream with chocolate jimmies (or sprinkles for those of you that did not grow up on the east coast)  with whip cream and a cherry on top was always her go to favorite.  Being that I worked in an ice cream parlor for most of my later teens, she would often come up to see me and this was always the order.  If any of you have a best friend that you’ve had since childhood and still have the closest bond two friends can share (even if you live 3000 miles apart), I hope this will make you think of them and how special it is to have to that person in your life.  Cheers to you Jayme!!!

This recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, but I added 1/2 a cup of 60 percent bittersweet chocolate chips from Ghirardelli.

Ingredients

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 bunches fresh mint
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup 60 percent dark chocolate chopped

Directions

  1. Combine the cream, milk, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer and add the mint. Remove from heat and let steep at least 1 hour and up to overnight, covered in the refrigerator.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and yolks; set aside. Remove mint from cream mixture, and discard. Bring the milk mixture just to a simmer. Using a measuring cup or a ladle, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Keep adding milk mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time until it has all been added.
  3. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes The custard should retain a line drawn across the back of the spoon with your finger. Pour through a fine sieve into a medium bowl set in the ice bath. Stir occasionally until cooled. Cover and transfer to refrigerator until chilled at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  4. Pour into an ice cream maker and process for about 20 minutes.
  5. Add chopped choc chip at the last five minutes.
  6. Transfer the soft ice cream to a plastic container, freeze at least 4 hours and up to overnight.