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0 In food/ recipes

basil watermelon crush

ginger beer lime homemade happy hour

trader joes basil get drunk

I take my happy hour cocktails really seriously.  I’m so spoiled- David was a bartender at a ritzy restaurant in college, so his mixology skills are on point.  He whips up all sorts of delicious sippers for me! 

slice pretty garnish vodka lime ice 

We’re all about eating seasonally, and that applies to happy hour as well! Watermelon is a mainstay of our summertime grocery list, and thanks to a new basil pruning technique, my plants are exploding! I’m a huge basil fan, especially when the herb is paired with fruit, and a bit of ginger fizziness is the perfect exclamation point. 

bulldog glass drinks

 

Ingredients

ginger beer lime homemade happy hour

  •  3 oz watermelon basil juice
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1 lime 
  • ginger beer

Preparation 

  1. In a juicer, juice 4 cups watermelon chunks and a handful of basil, to taste. I make this by the pitcher and have it ready for happy hour- and I always use a big handful of basil. Alternatively,  use a blender, or muddle together enthusiastically.
  2. Pour vodka and watermelon-basil juice over ice. Squeeze in the lime.  Shake or stir vigorously. Pour into glass. 
  3. Top with ginger beer, garnish with lime and watermelon slices, and basil sprigs. Enjoy responsibly! 

mixology

loveRavayna

0 In food/ recipes

an insomniac oven

hazelnut chocolate cake pieces

I’ve struggled with sleeplessness since high school, and am a total night owl. I sometimes work or read until the wee hours of the morning, but more often than not, midnight finds me in the kitchen.  We do mostly homemade sweets around here, so sometimes I’m getting ahead on the next day’s to-do list- gotta keep dessert stocked! But most of the time I’m just relaxing and recipe testing, so I wanted to share a few of our recent favorites.

smore pie

This s’mores pie was rich and creamy and delicious.  David doesn’t love dark chocolate the way I do, so I used half dark and half milk.  I thought it was perfectly sweet that way, but it’s not supersweet like actual s’mores- some more or or even all milk chocolate will get you there.  And seriously, if you haven’t made homemade marshmallow yet, you need too- it’s much easier than it looks!

hazelnut chocolate pour hazelnut chocolate cake milk

Deb over at smitten kitchen mentioned that Chef Suzanne Goin served this brown butter and hazelnut confection as her own wedding cake, and I totally see why now. I adore the flavor of brown butter, and it balanced perfectly with the moreish texture of the nuts and the ganache draping. The cake came together quickly and disappeared from the cake plate in the same fashion.  I’ve more hazelnuts in the fridge, so I’m certain it will have a return engagement one night soon.

profiterole shouquette dorie greenspan

I’m totally on a cream puff kick.  In all honestly, we’ve had them two nights in a row, and I’m not even embarrassed by that-  they’re damn delicious. I’ve been using Dorie Greenspan’s pâté à choux recipe (currently reading her Baking Chez Moi),  filling them with a mix of vanilla custard and freshly whipped cream, dipping or drizzling them with ganache, and devouring by the plateful.

pb and j cake sparkler pb and j cake

Elaborate birthday cakes are the norm around here, as is replacing candles with fireworks. David mentioned wanting a pb&j inspired cake this year, so I ran with that one night. I stacked peanut butter cake with strained strawberry jam, then slathered it with fluffy brown sugar-peanut butter frosting, another slick of jam, and chopped salted peanuts. It was enormous (too big for the cake bell) and phenomenal.

pb and j cake shakeAnd the better the cake, the better the cake shake! Leftover cake into shakes is one of my very favorite revamps, and I love mixing up different flavors.  This version included pb&j cake, strawberries, peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, malted milk powder, and a healthy splash of amaretto. Sometimes I even get fancy… like whipped cream and a slice of cake on top.

I guess you could say night times are good times in the Coe kitchen.

loveRavayna

0 In food/ recipes

the friday five 004 avocado toast 

Avocado toast is everywhere, it seems. There’s a version on every fancy brunch menu, and at most coffee shops here in LA as well. A million recipes abound, all something to the extent of seasoned smushed avocado, on toasted bread. Let’s be real- it’s not freaking rocket science, but it’s delicious.

avocado lemon bread

That said, we eat unreasonable amounts of it around our house. Most days, it’s merely toasted homemade bread, the avocado seasoned with lemon, salt and peppers (black and Aleppo). But more is more. So I regularly upgrade with yummy toppings, whether for company or mere kicks.

 

Some of our favorite assortments:

blackberry avocado basil toastblackberries / shallot / basil / Aleppo pepper

 

pear pecan blue cheese avocado toastsliced pear / Gorgonzola / spicy candied pecans / hot honey

 

tomato prosciutto balsamic avocado toastgarlic confit / tomato / prosciutto / balsamic vinegar

 

radish black salt avocado toastsliced radish / smoked salt

 

chili granola egg avocado toast
fried egg, Bad Seed chili granola (I stockpile this when I’m in New York.)

 

Try one (or all!) of these avocado toasts, and let me know which is your favorite!

 

loveRavayna

1 In festivities/ food/ recipes

a bacon bouquet

pig-candy-bacon-bouquet-for-you

I may be a sucker for nearly any flowers, but not everyone feels that way. David has zero interest in almost all of my floral arrangements, that is, except for when I make a candied bacon bouquet. It’s a perfect Valentine’s Day treat for anyone, especially an enthusiastic carnivore.

candying-the-bacon

One of our favorite restaurants at home in New Orleans, Elizabeth’s, makes the most amazing praline bacon. Over the years, I’ve refined my hot-and-sweet candied bacon recipe- we served twenty pounds of pig candy on our wedding dessert buffet, and I make it regularly for friends, family, special occasions and no reason whatsoever.

wrapping-the-pig-candy

For such an impressive display, it’s not an unreasonable amount of work. Yes, drilling holes in the bottom of your mini-muffin pan (wearing eye protection, pleaseandthanks) may take a minute, but that just gives you the ability to whip up a batch of bacon roses anytime.

pulling-the-petals makin-bacon-bouquet

 

Candied Bacon Roses

 

pig-candy-bouquet-flat-lay
Ingredients

  • 1 lb thin cut applewood smoked bacon
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • cayenne pepper
  • Aleppo or other chile pepper, optional

Supplies

  • mini-muffin pan
  • electric drill
  • Several stems of artificial roses (3 in pictured bouquet, from dollar tree)
  • aluminum foil
  • cookie sheet

 

Preparation 

  1. Preheat oven to 375′. Carefully drill drainage holes in the bottom of each well of the muffin pan. Wash and dry well, and place on foil-lined cookie sheet.
  2. Mix brown sugar with enough cayenne/pepper to have an intense sweet-spicy balance,  to your liking. We like ours hot, but start with a half teaspoon or so.
  3. Working with one slice of bacon at a time, dredge both sides of bacon in spiced sugar, pressing to adhere. Gently shake off any excess, and roll slice up into a rose bud shape. Place into muffin pan, and repeat until pan is full.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, until rendered and deep brick red. You may need to lift rosebuds on occasion to let grease drain. They will firm as they render, but not fully crisp until cool.
  5. Meanwhile, strip blooms from floral stems and wash stems well. Place cooled bacon roses on stems, arrange pleasingly, and spoil your valentine deliciously.

 

loveRavayna

 

1 In food/ recipes

galette des rois: french king cake

full-french-king-cake king-cake-plated

Carnival season is hands-down my favorite time of year, and king cake is one of those confections I just can’t say no to. Whether classic cinnamon swirl, cream-cheese-filled king cake or a traditional French galette des rois, it’s probably having a date with my mouth.

randazzo-king-cake

We were fortunate enough to have a dear friend ship us a king cake from the legendary Manny Randazzo’s, and it totally hit the spot.  Most years, I wind up making several king cakes throughout carnival season- this recipe from Sucré, on Magazine Street,  is my go to, and Randazzo’s and Sucré are by far the best king cakes available by mail.  but i have a serious affinity for the French king cake, or galette des rois… la Boulangerie makes my favorite in town.

king-cake-orange-zesting king-cake-baby-placing

But, according to #12 of my #16in16, this is the year of taking on those intimidating cookery projects. So after a brief foray of pricing out having galettes de rois shipped, it was game on. As luscious as this pistachio-and-citron version from Gontran Cherrier (who makes my very favorite croissants in Paris) looks, I decided to save that and focus on the traditional French almond frangipane filled confection. I worked with Clotilde and David Lebovitz‘s recipes, adapting them and making the frangipane from scratch.

crusting-kind-cake king-cake-scoring french-king-cake-egg-wash

I didn’t trust myself and my limited artistic talent to provide even decorative cut work, so lots of overlapping salad plate tracings did the job with style.  It’s super important to flute and seal the edges properly so that the frangipane doesn’t bubble out. And make sure your egg wash doesn’t drip down the sides- it will inhibit the pastry’s puffing.  With traditional king cakes, you’d bake in a ceramic fève, or insert a plastic baby into the baked king cake.  Here though, I went super old-school and baked in a whole almond  (and was a total five-year old and stole it from David’s slice to claim the carnival queen title.)

king-cake-cutting

Ingredients

  • 1 package all-butter puff pastry, thawed.
  • 1 whole almond, piece of  candied fruit, or oven-safe fève
  • 1 cup (100 g) sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • pinch salt
  • zest of one orange
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons good rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with one tablespoon milk

Preparation 

  1. Working with one half of pastry at a time, roll out and trace a large dinner plate with a sharp knife.  Stack large pastry circles between peices of parchment paper, and refrigerate for at least a half hour.
  2. Meanwhile, make almond filling.  Pulse almonds with a few tablespoons of sugar until all finely ground.
  3. Move sweetened almond flour to bowl of stand mixer. Add rest of sugar, salt, orange zest.
  4. On medium speed, mix in butter  until completely incorporated. Add whole eggs one at a time, then rum and almond extract. (The mixture may not look smooth- totally okay.) Cover and chill.
  5. Preheat over to 375 Line baking sheet with parchment, and center one chilled pastry circle.
  6. Spread the almond filling evenly over pastry, leaving a 1-inch (3cm) border. Place almond,  candied fruit, or fève (prize) somewhere in the almond filling.
  7. Brush water generously around pastry edges.  Place the other pastry circle on top of the galette and press down to seal the edges very well. (At this point, you can chill the galette for ten minutes or so to make it a bit more workable.)
  8. Flute the sides of the dough (as shown in the photo) and use a sharp knife to create a design on top. Brush yolk-and-milk mixture carefully and evenly over the top. Use a knife to poke a few holes in the top, to allow steam to escape.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until well-browned. Remove from oven and cool (galette will deflate). Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

king-cake-flakey-piece

 

loveRavayna

0 In food/ recipes

cookbook chronicles: Lemonade

 

lemonade-on-ventura lemonade-rocksbox-jewlery lemonade-salads

I can be a picky brat about eating out, especially at casual chain restaurants, but Lemonade is one you won’t find me fussing about.  I swear, we grab food there at least once a week.  The Gemini in me adores all the quality options, and I love delicious and varied ways of enjoying my veggies with minimal fuss.  A six-portion salad and a lemonade to share is perfectly sized for a lunch date!

lemonade-cookbook

When I saw the Lemonade cookbook at checkout one day, I knew it would be coming home with me. Having tested it in the kitchen, I wanted to share some thoughts on a few recipes I tried in this installment of Cookbook Chronicles.

pear-basil-lemonade

Going for the namesake, I had to make a lemonade. The key to the tart richness of their lemonades is  a freshly made thick fruit purée. With so many flavor options, I chose pear basil lemonade (page 231), which I’ve never seen onsite. Pears are incredible this time of year, and I love the herbaceous flavor of basil in sweets, so this was a major hit for me.

lemonade-cornchowder

Unfotunately, the corn chowder (page 171) was not nearly as good. I went for the Malibu clambake variation, which included seafood stock and clams, but the soup was bland and watery and just kindof boring. We tried topping it with smoked paprika, pickled red onions, jalepenos, and each helped, but nothing could fully save this soup.

black-bottom-brownies-lemonade

Black bottom cheesecake brownies (page 201) are my favorite treat from the dessert case at  Lemonade, and I’m a big fan of the chocolate-cheesecake flavor combo in general. But I found this recipe really disappointing- the batter wanted to be clumpy, despite the tedious method, and the finished products were tougher than I’d like. For a chocolate cheesecake craving, I’d rather point you to Smitten Kitchen’s cheesecake marbled brownies for fat superior deliciousness for much less time and effort anyway.

oatmeal-rasin-lemonade-cookies

I tend to skip over cookies for more elaborate sweets, but I made these Oatmeal-Golden Raisin Cookies (page 189) over the holidays and they were really yummy.   I love golden raisins, and they were lovely bursts of sweetness in these  tender, chewy cookies.

coconut-tres-leches-cake-lemonade

When I first saw the coconut cake (page 206) in the desert case, I was all heart-eyed over the coconut-milk-soaked layers, but they somehow managed to be both dry and sticky… I thought they might have been serving it a day past its prime. I felt certain I could do better at home, and I did.  The barely sweetened frosting balanced the sweeter cake and filling nicely, though I did substitute half the sugared coconut shreds in the topping with unsweetened coconut flakes.

 

So it’s been a little hit-or-miss as far as experimenting, but I’m certainly liking having the recipes on hand to some of my favorite salads and homemade dressings. I’m pretty sure more than a few Lemonade recipes will be making it in to the regular mealtime rotation.

insta-lemonade-rocksbox

 

loveRavayna

2 In festivities/ recipes

vanilla squared marshmallows 

marsh-hotcocotray

I’d always been intimidated by homemade marshmallows, until I discovered that they’re astonishingly easy with the help of a candy thermometer and stand mixer. I first made these marshmallows last holiday season, and they may have ruined me for commercially-made ones forever. They’re irresistible by the handful,  super soft and flavorful, and they quickly go molten and so delicious when roasted or topping a hot drink.

marsh-sugarpour punchC-bourbonmarsh-vanillascrape

The name’s a bit punny. For serious flavor, I use homemade bourbon vanilla, along with scraping in a whole vanilla bean and adding a touch of almond for the NOLA nectar homage. I cut them into cubes mostly for speed and ease, and I find being generous with the starch-and-sugar mixture super helpful- I even fill a shaker with it.

marsh-cutting2 marsh-boxing1 marsh-boxing2 marsh-boxed

I’m all about the edible treats as holiday gifts… I make and share small batches of goodies all season long. So I filled sweet little holly-print boxes with marshmallows and curled shiny red ribbon for festive treats to be given to friends.

marsh-cocobythetree wrapping-RC marsh-tripodshot marsh-cocobythetree-close

These marshmallows melt so incredibly, they elevate simple hot cocoa to a fantastical treat. I behave like a five year old and just keep piling marshmallows into my cup.  Despite sticky-fingered snacking and the distraction of Elf, we even managed to get a few presents wrapped, so I’ll call it a winter evening success.

 

Vanilla Squared Marshmallows

(adapted from Alton Brown’s homemade marshmallows

Ingredients

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon bourbon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • nonstick cooking spray

 

Preparation 

  1. Empty gelatin and 1/2 cup of the water into bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and powdered sugar.  Spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with cooking spray. Add some of the sugar-cornstarch mixture and shake about to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return excess to the bowl, set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, attach candy thermometer to the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, about 7 minutes. Watch carefully and immediately remove from heat.
  3. Start the mixer on low. While running, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture- be careful! Once all of the syrup is added, increase speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes- it will be steamy at first.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts during the last minute of whipping.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using an oiled spatula if needed to spread evenly. Dust the top with enough of the sugar-starch mixture to lightly cover, saving the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  5. Once set, turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board or counter dusted with sugar-starch. Cut into strips and then squares using a pizza wheel. Lightly dust all sides of each cut marshmallow with the remaining mixture. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

marsh-hotcocotray

The cocoa I serve is adapted from this one– I add cinnamon and a sprinkle each of cardamom and cayenne. It makes a rich semisweet cocoa that is perfect with the melting marshmallows. Feel free to thin with more milk or sweeten further, but homemade cocoa is so easy and delicious the packets simply don’t compare.

 

loveRavayna

 

 

0 In festivities/ home/ recipes

home for the holidays

decktheH-plated-long

As much as I love latkes, I can’t eat them for 8 nights straight if I want to fit into my clothes. So I make a point of experimenting with and serving other foods with Jewish and Israeli foods as we celebrate Hannukah.

decktheH

Having made several variations of chocolate babka in the past, Smitten Kitchen’s simplification of Yotam Ottolenghi’s krantz cakes are hands down the best. I decided to up the ante a notch by raiding/catching up on my Valrhona x Trader Joe’s chocolate calendar  and including several different dark varieties, and it was a scrumptious life choice.

decktheH-bobka-1 decktheH-bobka-2braid decktheH-bobka-rising

The cutting and twisting stage can be a little iffy, but refrigerating the dough to stiffen the butter makes all the difference. And as long as you get it into the pan in some fashion, it will rise up just dandy. And yes, I have to use a mug of water to humidify my microwave as a rising drawer- even in sunny SoCal, our house is an icebox.

decktheH-bobka-done1decktheH-bobka-presenting1

I lose all self-control around this yumminess- that little pan of ends was history before I’d even finished glazing the loaves. With Hanukkah falling early this year, we’re celebrating the miracle of light as we prepare and decorate for our annual holiday open house, which we’re hosting this weekend.

decktheH-bobka-close

The babka made for some scrumptious Hanukkah bush decorating fuel. The moist and tender brioche was swirled generously with melted chocolate, and warm slices paired perfectly with glasses of icy cold milk.

decktheh-tulaneornimentdecktheH-menorah1

We don’t go too overboard with holiday decor. As much as I love the way it looks, I have limited patience for the untangling and wrangling, putting up and taking down, organizing and storing, and David even less so.  My mom is a holiday superdecorator and I’m nowhere near her level,  so I’m just grateful that she gifted us the majority of those gorgeous vintage glass ornaments.

decktheH-treedecktheH-treedecorating-2

But I loooooooveee the smell of a live tree in the house, so every year we wind up at the tree lot. It’s the same story, different year- I try and talk David into a 9 footer or the like, he laughs in my face. Then we inspect no less than a dozen (more reasonably sized) trees until I find the perfect one. And once we get it home, I’m hanging onto the mantle or teetering on the arm of the couch to perch the sparkly fleur de lis on the top.

decktheH-menorah2

There’s a lot of love on this little table. The chanukiah was a wedding present, and my mother in law crocheted the tablecloth as a gift for me. We collected the pinecones hiking in Big Bear during our 2nd wedding anniversary getaway, then cleaned and glittered them.  I can’t help but smile when I see it all- it’s simple but special.

decktheH-menorah-openingpresent decktheH-kendras

David got me a new MacBook Air last month, and his new camera body arrived a few weeks ago. Since we’re already using and loving our big gifts this year, we’re exchanging  smaller treats each night. Some are useful, like the previous night’s Restoration Hardware foot duvets (graphite for David, grey for me), some are indulgent, like these gorgeous rose gold and brown abalone Kendra Scott earrings, and some are silly, like the box of practical jokes and disguises David proceeded to open.

decktheH-tree2

With all the travel I’ve clocked this year (24 round trips in 2015) it’s been really amazing to have put up the suitcases for the year.  To just spend some time around the house, making it fun and festive, just gives me all the warm and fuzzy feelings.

loveRavayna

0 In recipes

cookbook chronicles: the perfect scoop

Introducing a new series today!  I love working my way through cookbooks, so after I do, I’ll be sharing a few favorite tried-and-true recipes with my modifications here as the Cookbook Chronicles. Let me know if there are any cookbooks you’d like me to feature. Good eats and good times!

 This summer’s ridiculously sweltering heat was the perfect time for me to forsake my oven and reacquaint myself with the ice cream maker I’ve had since college, and David Lebovitz‘s The Perfect Scoop was the perfect cookbook to have close at hand. Our freezers have been frequently and enthusiastically visited lately- every recipe we’ve tried has been on point.

Fresh Fig  

I made this ice cream (page 80) with gorgeous black mission figs from the farmers market.  Somehow,  the recipe yielded plenty to churn as well as fill half a dozen popsicles, and we weren’t complaining.

Golden plum with blackberry swirl  

I used super fragrant Golden Nectar plums in this ice cream (page 77) and it was the perfect balance of sweet and bright yet creamy. I subbed blackberries for raspberries in a lovely tart swirl (page 92) and it was scrumptious.

Basil stracciatella 

One of my favorite local creameries, Quenelle, does a yummy basil chocolate chip that inspired this. Creamy fresh basil ice cream (page 100) was streaked with semisweet Valrhona stracciatella (page 210). It made for incredible brownie sundaes, and I could barely keep from stealing bites of that not-too-sweet herbal-floral goodness when walking past the fridge.

Date, rum, and pecan

This ice cream (page 45) was probably David’s favorite batch. Trader Joe’s spiced pecans were the perfect choice here.  Trini to the bone, I used generous lashings of Angostura 7 Year, and it was beautifully boozy with a creamy gelato-like texture.

 Despite the calendar, we still have a good bit of SoCal summer ahead of us, and I have a pretty good feeling it will include toasted almond and candied cherry (page 60) and malted milk (page 51) ice creams.

 Cheers to amazing ice cream and indian summer!

loveRavayna

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