We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Avalon's Jalapeño Poppers

by Michelle

   Jalapeño Poppers are like potato chips, I dare you to eat only one. If you are preparing poppers for a party, I encourage you to make more than you think you need. In fact, I purposefully choose not to serve poppers as appetizers because everyone will fill up on these tasty bites before dinner is served. My recommendation is to serve the poppers as a side dish, especially alongside steak. If you have any poppers leftover, which is unusual indeed, thickly slice the peppers and tuck inside an omelette. 

Avalon prepping the jalapeños.
   This is my niece, Avalon's recipe. When she moved in with my husband, daughter and I last year as she embarked on her freshman year of college, this is a food craving she brought with her. When she mentioned poppers one night over dinner, Avalon was shocked to discover our family unit had yet to discover the pleasures of the addictive creamy, salty, spicy, bacony peppers. Within short order the situation was remedied and boy are we happy to have poppers in our food universe.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Yeasted Belgian Waffles, So Yummy and Gluten-Free

by Michelle

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast." ~Oscar Wilde

   Nothing speaks to a liesurely Sunday like brunch. I wake up late; well, late for me - about eightish. I sip strong brewed coffee lightened with half and half (or if I'm feeling energetic, a stove top prepared latte) while I peruse a magazine or have a liesurely conversation with my husband. The dairy fortified coffee ties me over until I feel energized to prepare brunch. Typically such a meal might be scrumptious Roasted Chicken and Green Chile Hash or my Grandma's Pancakes with Oven Fried Bacon.
   On those occasions where I plan ahead, I like to prepare waffle batter on a Saturday night. I usually pull it together after dinner and the batter sits at room temperature overnight. All that is left to do in the morning is to add eggs, vanilla extract and baking soda to the batter. Ever the multitasker, I oven fry bacon or cook sausages on the stove top while I'm cooking the waffles.
   In the beginning of my waffle journey, I tried making several quick batters, but each time the waffles were soft and not at all crispy. No thank you. After reading comments about waffle makers on Amazon, several readers made the claim that yeasted waffles are far superior in taste and texture. 'Tis true and this recipe is definitely a winner. Thankfully, the waffles freeze well and can quickly be reheated in a toaster oven, which is easy for a weekday breakfast.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baked and Grilled Artichokes

by Michelle

"A woman is like an artichoke, you must work hard to get to her heart."
 ~Inspector Jacques Clouseau, The Pink Panther

   After nearly two years of posting regularly each and every Sunday, yesterday was the day that was inevitably missed. And for a good reason. It was Mother's Day. As I have written previously, I rarely enjoy eating out on a holiday and prefer to stay at home. We watched a movie in the afternoon in the comfort of our own living room, made perfect popcorn and enjoyed Pineapple Martinis before dinner. For the main event, a Tri-Tip barbecue dinner which featured these flavorful artichokes as a tasty seasonal side dish, which were a huge hit with the family.

Baked and Grilled Artichokes

   For ease in preparation, you can bake the artichokes up to two days ahead, refrigerate, and then finish on the grill.

1/2 to 1 large artichoke per person
1 to 2 lemons
olive oil
Diamond® kosher salt or sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
aluminum foil

Kokkari Dressing
Paleo Aïoli
1 to 2 Tbsps freshly chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1 to 2 Tbsps shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

To prevent the cut areas from browning soak the artichokes in lemon water.
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Fill a bowl with water. Juice the lemons and add juice to the water.
3. Cut off top 1-inch of artichoke with a chef's knife. Dip the artichoke in lemon water, shake to remove excess water. With sturdy kitchen scissors, trim the prickly ends from the leaves. Trim the stem to about 1/2-inch. Return the artichoke to the water. Keep the artichokes in the water until ready to bake.
4. Use 2 squares of aluminum foil per artichoke. Before double wrapping, drizzle each artichoke with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Wrap the artichoke twice, sealing edges. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
5. Place all the wrapped artichokes on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for one hour for large artichokes.

6. Carefully unwrap the artichokes, being alert to the escaping steam. Let sit 5 minutes. Insert a large chef knif through the stem and slice slowly through half of the artichoke, then insert the knife again and cut slowly through the other half. With a spoon, remove and discard the fuzzy choke. If you like, at this point, you can proceed with eating the artichoke with the Kokkari Dressing and Paleo Aïoli, or you can let the artichokes rest up to an hour at room temperature and then finish on the grill. You can also refrigerate the artichokes up to two days and then proceed with grilling.

Remove and discard the hairy coke and prickly purple leaves.
7. Prepare a grill to medium-high heat. Brush the artichokes with olive oil or garlic oil. Grill each artichoke until heated through and there are grill marks showing on both sides. Remove the artichokes to a serving platter. If desired, drizzle each artichoke with Kokkari Dressing, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with Paleo Aïoli as a dip for the leaves and the heart.

Note: For a more detailed description on how to eat an artichoke, visit here.

Dip the artichoke leaves and slather the heart in creamy Paleo Aïoli.

Paleo Aïoli (Immersion Blender Method)

by Michelle

"Who but the French could have wrought this gastronomic miracle? Mayonnaise is France’s gift to the New World’s muddled palate, a boon that combines humanity’s ancient instinctive craving for the cellular warmth of pure fat with the modern, romantic fondness for complex flavors: mayo (as the lazy call it) may appear mild and prosaic, but behind it’s creamy veil it fairly seethes with tangy disposition. Cholesterol aside, it projects the luster that we astro-orphans have identified with well-being ever since we fell from the stars." ~Tim Robbins, Villa Incognito

   Aïoli is a garlicky homemade mayonnaise. If you like garlic and you like mayonnaise, you will adore aïoli. I especially like this aïoli as a dipping sauce for artichokes and french fries or as a tasty spread slathered on sandwiches. If you add to the recipe a little sweet pickle relish, tarragon and finely minced shallot you would have.... ta da... tartar sauce. Tartar sauce, as we all know, is a flavorful emellishment to crab cakes and any freshly prepared fish whether grilled, baked or fried.
   I feel that this recipe is a hybrid between aïoli and tartar sauce. The final result is definitely garlicky, but there is the herbal note, too. I used tarragon flavored Dijon mustard from France, although I think freshly minced tarragon would be lovely added with the minced parsley (if you use traditional Dijon). Fresh dill would be a great alternative or addition in the herbal department.

Steamed asparagus sauced with aïoli.
   The traditional way to make aïoli, or mayonnaise for that matter, is to make an emulsion by slowly (and patiently) adding - drip by drip - approximately one cup of neutral flavored oil into one or two egg yolks or a whole egg, along with mustard, lemon juice and seasonings. The emulsion has been made for centuries by using a fork, a wooden spoon, or mortar and pestle. If I may be so bold: to heck with tradition, this is an example of where a gadget trumps convention.
   Linda and I are enthusiastic viewers of Everyday Exotic on the Food Network. On the "obedient ingredient" episode for Lime Leaf, the affable host, Roger Mooking whipped up a Lime Mayo by placing all the ingredients in a tall container and blending with a stick blender. Roger produced perfect mayonnaise in about 10 seconds. My jaw hit the floor and then I hooted. Really, I did. That's one small step for Roger, one giant leap for cooks everywhere. Farewell patience, hello instant gratifcation. I've been making mayo and aïoli in a jiffy ever since using my favorite Cuisinart SmartStick hand blender. 

Believe me when I say that artichokes pair perfectly with aïoli as a dipping sauce.
Paleo Aïoli (Immersion Blender Method)

  You can make this sauce in any deep container. For ease in preparation, I prefer to use a large 21-ounce French Working Glass. Purchase the working glass with the matching plastic lid for a tight seal, which will keep your aïoli fresh for about one week when stored in the refrigerator.
   This recipe is adapted from Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield (Victory Belt Publishing Inc. ©2011). In particular, what makes this recipe Paleo is the exclusion of seed oils. The avocado's green pulp is expressed to make the oil. The avocado oil is mild and offsets the more assertive flavor of olive oil.
   If you quickly need to bring a cold egg to room temperature, in a medium bowl cover the whole egg with tepid tap water and let sit for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.

1 extra-large or jumbo egg, at room temperature
1 medium to large lemon, at room temperature
1/2 cup avocado oil
1/2 cup olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed with the blade of a chef's knife
1 tsp Dijon mustard, such as Edmond Fallot Dijon or preferably Edmond Fallot Tarragon Dijon
about 1/2 tsp sea salt
a few healthy grinds of black pepper, or to taste
1 to 2 tsps capers, rinsed and then minced, optional
1 to 2 tsps minced Italian flat leaf parsley, optional

Special Equipment:
Immersion Blender, also known as a SmartStick Hand Blender

1. Put all the ingredients from the egg through the black pepper into the Working Glass, or other similar jar/beaker. Blend the ingredients with the immersion blender until emulsified, about 10 seconds.
2. If desired, add capers and flat leaf parsley. Stir.
3. Keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for about a week.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Maple Sugared Candied Walnuts

by Michelle

"Walnuts and pears you plant for your heirs." ~Portugese Proverb

   I love these nuts. I could probably just stop there, end of story. However, these bite-sized glazed morsels are a little different in that the walnuts are first cooked in seasoned maple syrup and then tossed with spiced maple sugar. In a word: addictive.
   The walnuts are divine on their own, but then consider, if you will, a cheese tray. The sugared candied walnuts go perfectly well with brie and a variety of stronger tasting cheeses. This time of year, I like to add slices of peeled blood oranges, sliced horizontally to resemble flowers, and slices of peeled kiwi, with both fruits adding vibrant color and taste.
   When the holidays roll around again, the walnuts make a lovely homemade gift (that don't need to be made at the last minute), and are a nice addition tucked into a tray of cookies and candies. I also like the idea of accenting pieces of fudge with the walnut halves.
    Last, but not least, the walnuts are sensational added to salads. I recently enjoyed a divine Spinach Salad at The Cactus Club in Vancouver. In addition to candied nuts the exceptionally fresh salad featured: Italian prosciutto, cabbage, arugula, pickled beets, goat cheese, thinly sliced pears, sherry vinaigrette, shards of Parmigiano Reggiano and decoratively finished witha heavy drizzle of balsamic glaze. I can't wait to reinterpret this salad at home.
   One recipe. Many applications. Unleash your creativity!

Maple Sugared Candied Walnuts

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