Impulse Buys and Chocolate

My boyfriend tried to make hot chocolate a couple weeks ago, and a mug died. He was trying to melt chocolate in the Keep Calm and Carry On mug when the bottom of the mug gave out.

So I was really happy when I found these round cuts of Mexican-style stone ground chocolate. A little pricey, but I decided they were a worthy splurge. And I guess I’m a sucker for packaging here, but doesn’t this seem more interesting and delicious than a box of Swiss Miss? I love that the cacao puro only has two ingredients – organic cacao beans and organic cane sugar. The vanilla smells so good, and it’s also dark chocolate. Awesome! I’m sorry to say we haven’t tried them just yet. It’s just been so warm lately. I’m waiting a bit longer for another cold front that comes through for a night or two. Anyway, can’t imagine it going very wrong. You can eat them like a chocolate bar or just whisk them into hot milk.

Now these quicos de chocolate are something totally different. I did a double take when I saw them out for sampling at Whole Foods. Corn kernels? Covered in chocolate? Get out! (as Elaine would say to Jerry, but I won’t push you, too!) I tried one. Then another. One more. I grabbed a box.

Don’t confuse  these with everyday, bright yellow corn kernels. The kernels used here can be as big as a dime or a quarter. They remind me of big, chewy Peruvian corn I’ve had served as a bar snack in Miami. This is a treat reminiscent of popcorn, but I prefer a sweet and savory serving of these. Would be a great movie snack except for the noise of the crunch.

New Cookbooks

Part of the reason I’m so excited about starting this blog is that I can work on fixing a bad habit. The problem is I’ve bookmarked hundreds of recipes and spent too much time reading lovely food blogs without following up and actually cooking all those meals. I leave notes to myself to make many delicious things in the future and…

Days pass. I eat scrambled eggs for dinner yet again. An angel weeps.

Enough! Now I’m holding myself accountable! So here are a few cookbooks I’m looking through lately. Expect posts soon.

Plenty is such a beautiful book. I already see so many recipes I want to make. Caramelized garlic tart. Sweet potato cakes. Chickpea, tomato and bread soup. Lentils with hazelnut and mint. Artichoke gratin. Isn’t this picture of eggplant with buttermilk sauce on the cover simply gorgeous? The corn fritters I made not long ago came from another recipe by Ottolenghi.

A couple years ago a friend gave me Heidi Swanson’s cookbook, Super Natural Cooking. I’m looking forward to getting more familiar with her latest book. The food in here looks both healthy and delicious. I want the white bean dip with rosemary and the little quinoa patties, too. Her sweet panzanella with golden raspberries is calling to me. There’s a kale and coconut salad that looks just wonderful. (Joy the Baker recently featured it).

It’s a bit odd to see an actress on the cover of a cookbook. Especially Paltrow since the last movie I saw her in was Running with Scissors. I’m all for weird movies, but this was one I couldn’t even finish. Anyway! I’ve been flipping through her book, and it’s very inviting because her recipes are simple and delicious. I appreciate her approach to food. First on my list? A crispy potato and garlic cake.

(Those last two books are actually from the library because I finally realized it makes a lot of sense to try out a few cookbooks this way!)

Swiss Chard Quiche

Quiche! Doesn’t sound too exciting, does it? It never really calls to me either. I’ve tried of a few bites of some versions here and there, but it always seemed to be lacking in flavor.


But this quiche is different. Promise. It’s a recipe from Laura Calder, who made the quiche look so good on her show, French Food at Home.  It was so colorful, festive and full of ingredients that sounded like they’d go great together. It wasn’t just limp broccoli and eggs. We’re talking Swiss chard, Gruyère cheese, garlic, toasted pine nuts and bacon. It’s a good recipe for a slow Sunday afternoon, especially if you skip lunch after a late breakfast.

So I got to chopping a huge pile of greens…

Don’t the stems of the chard look awesome? There was plenty to chop while waiting for the puff pastry sheet (future quiche crust) to thaw.

But I started to worry this wouldn’t work. I misread the ingredients and used a cup of heavy cream instead of splitting it with some sour cream. Would the crust hold up? Was the dish deep enough to hold everything? Would I even like it?

I loved it! The quiche was just packed with so much flavor. Raisins swelled up, getting juicier and sweeter. Imagine that with a salty bite of bacon and the soft crunch of pine nuts. It didn’t seem to matter that I forgot the sour cream. And the puff pastry worked so well as a crust…. I read somewhere that a metal baking dish would be better than a glass dish for it. No need to bake this crust either before filling it with all that cheesy goodness. The boyfriend and I had two slices each last night. Looking forward to leftovers today for lunch. I’ll definitely make this again. Here’s the recipe.

Corn Fritters

The salsa that never happened last week left us with some corn in the fridge. What to make, what to make? I found a recipe for corn fritters and decided – aha! – this would be dinner. And it was delicious.

These turn around pretty quickly. I kinda forgot to make anything else to go with the fritters, but they’re pretty filling and I made up for it with dessert. Next time I’d have these with the suggested salad. Or maybe tomato soup? Maybe some shrimp and tomatoes?

Threw in some green onions, too, because somehow they make any meal look better.

corn fritters

Adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen, who adapted it from Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves 2 or 3 (Supposed to yield 16 fritters, but I think I made my fritters a bit big or thick)

  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking polenta (or fine-ground cornmeal)
  • corn kernels from 3 ears of corn
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1  small jalapeño, diced, seeds removed
  • green onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons olive oil (and some more for frying)
  • 2 eggs
  • goat cheese

Use a fork to mix polenta and the corn kernels in a bowl. Add the salt, pepper, Greek yogurt, olive oil and an egg. I diced and added the shallot and jalapeño last because shallots and onions always make me cry. Sometimes I have to run away from the kitchen for a moment to get it together. Keeping an unlit match between your teeth during this process usually helps with the kitchen tears, but not every time!

Anyway, mix everything together in the bowl. Here’s where I added that second egg because the batter looked a little too thick. Maybe it’s not totally necessary.

Turn up the heat on a cast iron skillet to medium. Chop up a couple green onions while you’re waiting for the heat to get there. Drizzle some olive oil on the skillet.

Scoop up two tablespoons of the batter for your first fritter, and put it on the skillet. Flatten it out a bit with the back of a spoon. Do the same for two more fritters. Let them all cook for two to three minutes. Then, flip them over and give them another minute or so. Done! Now plate those fritters and repeat these steps with the rest of the batter.

With the fritters on a plate, sprinkle some green onions over them. Instead of sour cream, I dressed up the fritters with a little goat cheese. So good!

Brandied Cherries

Soon-to-be brandied cherries.

I’ve got pretty and fizzy drinks on my mind. Not because it’s barely 10 a.m. No! I’m trying to find the perfect cocktail recipe to dazzle our friends with tomorrow night at a party. I’ve got my eye on the prize – whatever it may be.

Anyway, these ruby red babies pictured above have been sitting in the fridge for almost six weeks. Boyfriend is mastering making Manhattans at home, and these are all part of the plan. We got a cocktail shaker. We got angostura bitters. This bar without a bar is getting REAL. I’m looking forward to trying these cherries, which I hope trump the fake-tasting maraschino cherries.

I wonder what else the brandied cherries would work in besides an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan. Hmm… I’ll report back soon.