Happy Weekend! I have a uniform I wear every weekend: Baggy Jeans, Birkenstocks or Coverses (depending on the weather) and my favorite T-shirt this year called "Captain Ahab's Dream"
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Image Source: Threadless
Isn't is dreamy? I love Threadless, but I think my favorite thing about it is that each shirt has a title, because they're works of art! So, if you see me on the weekend, odds are I'll be wearing this uniform. Do you have a weekend uniform, or is it strange that I wear the same thing all the time?

Anyway, let's get down to brass tacks. I promised you Citrus Currant Muffins in the title, and I will deliver. 
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These muffins make a great breakfast, and are perfect with tea. They get their yellow color not from corn meal (which is what I erroneously assumed) but from orange juice! Currants are a type of grape that are more tart, so they pair well with the citrus. Currants can usually be found next to the raisins and other dried fruit at your grocery store.

You should really try these. They're super easy and uniquely delicious. Have you ever had a refreshing muffin before? They're usually heavy and sweet, but these are light and tart! I love them.


Citrus Currant Muffins
Original from: Bella Baker
Makes 12

1/2 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup orange juice (1 orange wasn't enough to yield 1 cup of juice, so be sure to have more oranges or OJ on hand)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract (or 1/2 tsp lemon zest. I did not try this, but it should work!)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and given time to cool
2 large eggs
3/4 cup currants

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin pan or place paper cups in molds.
Grate the zest of an orange into a large bowl. Inhale deeply. Add sugar and rub together with the zest until the sugar is moist. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together juices, lemon extract (if you use lemon zest, mix it with the sugar and orange zest) melted butter and eggs. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix together. Stir in currants, and divide into muffin cups.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan, then serve!
 
 
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At church this morning, Father Stewart quoted some lines from this poem by John Updike called "Let us walk through the door." I've always loved John Updike ever since I read Rabbit Run, so I had to I wanted to share the whole poem with you guys. 

Let us walk through the door

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that — pierced — died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance. 


Can't really add anything to that, can I? I hope you all had a wonderful, peaceful, blessed weekend.
 
 
This has been a slow year. 2011 is 30% over and I haven't even finished making my list of 26 things I want to accomplish. Yeesh!

8. Think of 26 things I want to accomplish this year.
9. Write on average, one blog post a week.
I really do feel guilty for writing so sparingly this winter. Apparently I creatively hibernate. Meaning, not that I hibernate in creative ways but that I seem to have a lack of creativity during the coldest months, a seasonal creativity disorder if you will. But, it's spring now so I have no excuses! 
10. Have 20 items for sale in my etsy shop.
Write now I only have 8. I have some ideas, like a lace infinity scarf, a cabled book cover, a lacy bookmark, and a knitted picture frame. What do you think? Would you buy any of those? 
10. Learn how to embroider.
Embroidery is back in a big way! Gah, I love it so much!
 Wild Olive has like, a billion precious patterns I want to try, if only I knew how. 
Doesn't it make your heart skip a beat?! Penguin is releasing a new edition of some classic books this fall with covers designed by Jillian Tamaki. (Thanks Allison for sharing this on your blog!)
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 I'm lucky enough to have some embroidered art made by my Aunt Susan. I love having it in our apartment. Isn't it cute!? Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have some of my own embroidery to add to the wall.
 
 
You're gonna love this! This broccoli pesto is tangy, creamy and the perfect compliment to pasta or even better, quinoa! 
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Gather raw broccoli florets, heavy cream, olive oil, parmesan cheese, sliced or slivered almonds, lemon and garlic. First, steam the broccoli by simmering 3/4 cup of water in a large pot. Add salt and broccoli, cover and cook for a little over a minute until the florets don't taste raw anymore. Next toss them in a strainer and run cool water over them to stop the cooking. Take a moment to admire how beautifully green the florets are. Pretty, huh?
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Next, in a food processor place 2 cups of the broccoli, 3 garlic cloves, 1/3 cup parmesan, 2 pinches of salt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of the almonds. While processing, drizzle in 1/4 olive oil, and 1/4 cup of cream until it looks like this:
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If you taste it now, the tanginess will be a bit overpowering. But don't worry, once it is mixed with quinoa or pasta, it's perfect! Toss 3 cups quinoa or half a box of pasta with half the sauce (or, combine 6 cups quinoa or a whole box of pasta with all the sauce.) Top with remaining broccoli and almonds and your choice of additional toppings! I added feta cheese and pine nuts, because I had both on hand and man, it was sooooo good! 
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This sauce goes really well with orecchiette, as pictured, because the sauce pools in the "little ears" and it's just oh so delightful. But honestly, this sauce was made for quinoa! The texture of the pesto perfectly coats each quinoa seed and the sauces tanginess accentuates the nutty flavor of the quinoa. The only reason I don't have a quinoa picture is because we ate it so fast! Yummmmmm. I think I'll make another batch this weekend!

Broccoli Pesto
adapted from Une-deux senses.

5 cups raw broccoli florets (about one bag)
3 garlic cloves
2/3 cups sliced or slivered almonds
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (It's so worth it to grate it yourself!)
2 tbsn. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt

Simmer 3/4 cup water in a large pot. Add salt and broccoli and cook for about a minute until the vegetable doesn't taste raw anymore. Pour into a colander and run cold water over it to stop cooking. 

Set aside 3 cups of the broccoli and add 2 cups to processor bowl with garlic, 1/2 cup almonds, parmesan, lemon juice and salt to taste. While processing, drizzle in olive oil and heavy cream. 

Divide sauce into two equal amounts. Save one half for later, and mix the other half with 3 cups of cooked quinoa, or half a box of cooked pasta. Bon Appetit!
 

Alinea

04/04/2011

1 Comment

 
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I was fortunate enough to go to the best restaurant in North America yesterday! I attempt to write about food on this blog, but I really can't describe our experience at Alinea. All I know is that I was giddy the entire time and I'm pretty sure I giggled with delight each time they brought out the next serving in the 22 course menu. Progressing leisurely through the courses, we enjoyed 4 hours at the restaurant.  Watching food competitions on TV I never really understood why presentation or aroma was such a huge deal to the judges, but knowing that the chefs at Alinea meticulously placed each element (with tweezers if necessary) on our plates and smelling the aromatics (some as exotic as warmed eucalyptus leaves) which accompanied each serving made our experience at the restaurant unforgettable. 

I'll show you pictures now, but I have to say I'm not exactly sure what we ate last night. Even though our servers gave us a menu to take home as a souvenir, some of the ingredients still elude me.
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Each course had its own silverware, and they were placed on these linen pillows.
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Steelhead Roe in a soup flavored with rutabaga and grapefruit. The creamy pillows are dijon mustard.
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Razor clam with carrot, soy and daikon.
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This one blew me away. In the little bowl is an asparagus soup with foam. On the fork is foie gras encased in aspic and topped with watercress, vanilla and mint.
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This plate was fascinating because I never realized how much I rely on color to tell me what my food will taste like. So, when I ate this I had no idea what flavors to expect. It is halibut with all sorts of stuff, including pepper, coffee and lemon.
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This dish was served on an orb with three levels. The first level has a rabbit parfait with pumpkin seeds, sage and I'm pretty sure that orange stick was freeze dried pumpkin.
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The second layer held a rabbit rillette nestled in apricot and pumpkin gelee.
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The third level was rabbit consomme seasoned with sage and cinnamon and heated by a hot rock.
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This mushroom dish was plated so that it looked like they were just growing out of the plate. It featured morel mushrooms, wild leeks, sumac and pine (nuts or bark, I don't know).
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This is a pasta wrap with short ribs and the diner's choice of toppings which included sun dried tomato dressing, turnips, tobacco gelee, blackberry, olives pickled in red wine, and fermented garlic, among other things.
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This recipe is from a french cookbook published in 1906. It's called canard a la cussy, and it is duck, topped with fried duck skin and atop a puff pastry filled with more duck! It was incredible. Oh, and it was also served with the antique plate you see, as well as antique silver ware and an etched crystal wine goblet.
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I think this was my favorite course of the whole evening. A single ravioli like pasta filled with black truffle oil, truffle, romaine and parmesan. The chef calls it 'black truffle explosion.'
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This course is called 'snow.' It is yuzu juice frozen on a metal bowl with dry ice. You use a spoon to scrape it off. This was the start of our dessert courses.
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This is a sweet potato emulsion served on cedar with pecans, brown sugar, apples, bourbon filled drops and cayenne pepper cotton candy!
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This is a glass straw filled with water, lemongrass, finger lime and cucumber and sealed with a dragon fruit gelatin. To eat it you suck the gelatin out of the straw and all the liquid follows. This was simply perfect, so refreshing and you could taste every ingredient.
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This was the final dessert course. The servers spread a mat on top of the table and then two chefs brought out the ingredients: creme brulee custard, hot chocolate, freeze dried blueberry, blueberries pickled in red wine, freeze dried peanut butter, sugar, and free dried chocolate mousse.
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When they plopped the freeze dried chocolate mousse on the table, the cool fog rushed over the ingredients and it smelled incredible!
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When they remove the glass tubes, the custard has set in place, and they burn the sugar on top to make creme brulee!
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The finished product. Pretty amazing huh?! It was so neat to watch the chefs make the beautiful designs so effortlessly. I asked how they made squares out of the hot chocolate, but the server said 'Wouldn't you like to know?'
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Then we demolished it!
Thanks for reading this really long post and looking at all the pictures, I didn't even include photos of all the courses! Share in the comments, what's your favorite restaurant?