elemental mixology

Antique glassware collected from thrift stores.

Antique glassware collected from thrift stores.

Currently, I’m taking this truly amazing and eye opening course guided by the deft mind of Andrew Willett founder of Elemental Mixology in Los Angeles. He runs a school out of his home and offers abundant wisdom on his blog Elemental Mixology. His blog contains nuggets of wisdom like: Why you’ve never tasted a real Maraschino Cherry and how Curacao liqueur is completely misunderstood!

Anyhow, thanks to Andrew, I am inspired by all of this new (to me) knowledge and can’t wait to put it to use on my own blog!

curried butternut squash soup

Curried butternut squash soup with coconut milk drizzle.

Curried butternut squash soup with coconut milk drizzle.

It’s fall and even though the weather isn’t acting like it, I’m starting to crave certain seasonal dishes – like soup! Here’s an easy and delicious butternut squash soup recipe that can be made with or without the addition of curry powder. The coolest thing about it is that you don’t need any broth because it makes its own! Enjoy!

Curried Butternut Squash Soup 
1 butternut squash seeded, rind removed, chopped into 1 inch dice
3 stalks of celery – thinly sliced
1 onion – diced
1 large carrot – sliced
4 cloves of garlic – smashed
1 stalk of fennel – thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
2 tablespoons honey
10 branches fresh thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup of olive oil plus 2 tablespoons for sautéing
1 can of coconut milk

In a large deep pot add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sauté first 6 ingredients for 8 minutes over medium high heat. Add remaining ingredients (except for the last 3) and cover with an inch  of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 40 minutes. Add lemon juice and blend to a smooth consistency with hand-held blender or counter-top blender. With blender running slowly add 1/2 cup of olive oil. Serve with a drizzle of coconut milk. Happy Fall y’all!

salted caramel ice cream sandwiches

Peanut butter cookies with salted caramel gelato.

Peanut butter cookies with salted caramel gelato.

It wouldn’t be Labor Day without ice cream sandwiches. Here’s an idea for some awesome salted caramel ice cream sandwiches with peanut butter cookies and salted caramel gelato that I LOVE!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup creamy natural peanut butter
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons sugar and coarse salt, for sprinkling on the cookies
1 quart Talenti sea salt caramel gelato

mixer

1. Beat the brown sugar, softened butter, and peanut butter with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer  until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat to combine. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix just until combined. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Use the tines of a fork to make crisscross pattern.

Use the tines of a fork to make crisscross pattern.

Sprinkle with coarse sugar and salt!

Sprinkle with coarse sugar and salt!

2. Heat the oven to 350°F. Using the palms of your hands, roll the dough into 1-inch balls, coat each ball in the salt and sugar mixture, and transfer to a baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Press the tines of a fork flat against each ball of dough, then make a second indentation perpendicular to the first one. Bake until the cookies are firm and their edges are golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer the cookies to wire racks or paper towels to finish cooling. Once the cookies have cooled, use an ice cream scooper to add a generous portion of gelato to one half of the cookies. Sandwich them together withe the remaining halves and place in an airtight container. Can be stored for 2-3 days. Yields 12 sandwiches.

Let the peanut butter cookies cool before adding gelato.

Let the peanut butter cookies cool before adding gelato.

 

 

mexican lasagna

Voting closes for the Del Real Blogger Food Challenge on Sept 6th and you can vote once a day! Please help me win by voting for me, Wade Hammond, HERE!!!

My simple and delicious Mexican Lasagna filled with Del Real Foods authentic small batch Carnitas!

My simple and delicious Mexican Lasagna filled with Del Real Food’s authentic carnitas!

*This is a compensated contest in collaboration with Del Real Foods.

After being invited to participate in the Del Real Foods Blogger Recipe Contest, the first thing that came to mind was my Grandmother’s cooking. Fleeing from Mexico during the revolution, my grandmother didn’t have the opportunity to hone her skills at cooking any family recipes. Instead, she developed her own more Americanized versions of her native dishes. I grew up on classics such as “Chicken Chile Goo” and “Chita’s Famous Tacos” made with Lowry’s Taco Seasoning mixed with Lypton’s Onion Soup Mix. I have many fond memories of casserole-style dishes with corn tortillas, meat and enchilada sauce. I suppose that’s why Mexican Lasagna popped into my mind almost immediately when I began thinking about this challenge.

Thanks to the Cardenas family, Del Real Foods produces delicious, high quality, preservative free, healthier products that can be prepared in minutes and included in countless recipes. My Mexican Lasagna is an homage to my Grandmother, the Cardenas family and the notion that good food will always bring people together.

Did I mention that their carnitas are legit?!

Did I mention that their carnitas are legit?!

Ingredientes
1 package Del Real Foods Carnitas, defrosted and shredded
1 container of Del Real Foods Salsa De Molcajete Roja
24 oz can mild enchilada enchilada sauce (I used La Victoria)
32 oz. block of Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
1 small can of chopped black olives
1 small bag corn tortillas (at least 24)

Preperación
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine enchilada sauce and chopped olives in a large bowl. One at a time, place tortillas into the sauce, coating both sides generously and then arrange in a single layer in a deep 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Tear tortillas to fit when necessary. Next, place a thin layer of shredded carnitas onto the layer of tortillas. Now, gently spoon the Salsa De Molcajete Roja onto the pork and smooth with fingers. Sprinkle about 1/4 of the cheese and repeat the layering process. You should be able to achieve 4 to 5 layers depending on the depth of your pan. Place dish uncovered on the top shelf of oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until the top begins to turn golden brown. Allow the Mexican Lasagna 10 minutes to rest before cutting into it. Serves 8-10 people. Enjoy!

Pottery provided buy the amazing Karen Scott of Ojai.