Malted & Salted: Milk Chocolate Pots de Crème
The term “Petits Pots de Crème” refers both to a soft baked custard and to the small ceramic pots, often with lids, that they are baked in. The dainty authentic petits pots pictured above were made in France. They belonged to my grandmother-in-law, Evelyn Dawn. While I only have six porcelain petit pots, and am cooking for a crowd, I supplement my collection with espresso cups.
Pots de Crème are a fabulous dessert to serve at a diner party. They look adorable, are impossibly rich and velvety, and petite enough to be elegant and sophisticated. Adding malted milk powder to a supremely French dessert gives this version an unexpected light-hearted twist. And as a bonus, they are prepared a day ahead. Just add the quick garnish of fleur de sel and/or malted milk balls, and they are ready to go.
Malted milk powder was invented by James Horlicks in 1883. It is a combination of sprouted grain that is quickly dried (barley malt) then ground up and added to powdered milk and wheat flour. It was originally meant as a nutritious non-spoiling supplement for babies’ diets, but gained popularity among explorers who found it portable as well as tasty…and became a hit at soda shops all around the country when added to ice cream to make a “malt” and as a candy marketed as “malted milk balls.”
Pots de Crème Recipe
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“End of Summer Rolls” Caprese-Style
Heirloom Tomato, Burrata, Basil, Rice Noodle
Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar
Perhaps you’ve heard me bemoan the ubiquitous Caprese Salad and all its incarnations?
Caprese grilled cheese, caprese kabobs, caprese bruschetta, caprese pasta salad, caprese pizza, caprese schmaese. But when I was challenged to come up with a tomato dish by our friendly Creative Cooking Crew, forgive me but I turned to those very Caprese ingredients. After all, there truly is something magical about the classic pairing of tomato and mozzarella and basil. Especially in summer. And what better way to bid farewell to the fabulous Summer of 2014, than with Caprese Summer Rolls – light, fresh, refreshing. These hand-held bites capture summer’s waning days in a tidy rice paper wrapper.
Caprese Summer Rolls Recipe
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Mini Fruit Tacos
Sopapilla Taco Shells
Lemon-Orange Ricotta, Orange Marmalade
Fresh Berries, Pistachio, Vanilla Yogurt, Mint
Perhaps we are spoiled here in Southern California, with a bounty of fresh fruit all year around, but savvy cooks don’t simply create dishes with fresh ingredients, the key is serving those fresh ingredients at their peak.
Summer is the peak season for raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. To delight your family, serve these seasonal gems in a mini taco shell!
This taco shell is inspired by sopapillas, a dessert popular in the Southwestern US and in Latino cultures. The crispy fried pillows of dough are originally thought to have originated in Albuquerque, New Mexico over a couple centuries ago. Sometimes served as a savory dish with meat, cheese and chiles – it is most often served as a sweet treat, simply adorned with honey or cinnamon sugar.
These fruit tacos are filled with lemon-orange ricotta cheese, orange marmalade, fresh berries, and garnished with pistachio nuts, vanilla yogurt and mint. And while they make a charming summer dessert – the citrusy cheese filling and orange marmalade make them quite suitable for breakfast on a brilliant July morning as well.
Nature’s beautiful colors and the petite presentation are positively enchanting. The textures range from crispy to creamy – with nutty and fruity flavors, made even brighter by the use of citrus and salt. Something magical happens when a conventionally savory taco is turned into something little and sweet.
Mini Fruit Tacos Recipe
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Caesar Cardini Chicken Club
“I am probably one of the few people around who saw the real Caesar Cardini making his salad.
I was about 9 when my parents took me to Tijuana, just the other side of the border from San Diego.
They were so excited when big jolly Caesar himself came to the table to make the salad, which had already been written up and talked about everywhere. And it was dramatic, I remember most clearly the eggs going in, and how he tossed the leaves so it looked like a wave turning over.”
This double-decker sandwich was inspired by Caesar Cardini’s famous combination of ingredients from almost a century ago. Over the years, many have added chicken breast to the salad to make a more substantial meal. Here, I cook up moist and tasty chicken burgers from freshly ground thigh meat. Garlic toast stands in for the croutons. And a caesar aioli and hard boiled eggs replace the original egg-garlic-cheese dressing. I use two types of anchovies, of which unfortunately, Julia Child would disapprove. She said, “You don’t want herbs and anchovies and things like that – then you have adulterated it.” But fans of anchovies will agree that they add another layer of umami savoriness to the sandwich. Also included are lemon and parmesan cheese, in an effort to capture Mr. Cardini’s authentic flavor combination.
Caesar Cardini Chicken Club Recipe
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“Spanish Influence” Chilled Soup
Fire-Roasted Chiles, Marcona Almond, Amontillado Sherry
Fried Tortilla, Roasted Corn, Bay Shrimp, Cilantro, Almond Oil
The chilled chile & almond soup has been a favorite around here for over a decade – a star of a cold soup that’s hot, smoky, and nutty. If fact, I entered it in a contest at the Los Angeles County Fair years ago, and it won second place. I’ve updated the soup recipe, now using fat luscious Spanish Marcona almonds and Spanish Amontillado sherry that has a whisper of sweetness. The basic soup can be simply garnished with a drizzle of Mexican crema and a few cilantro leaves. Or for entertaining, go all out and add sweet bay shrimp, roasted corn, freshly fried corn tortilla strips, chopped Marcona almonds, and a splash of toasted almond oil – your guests will surely be delighted.
“Spanish Influence” Chilled Soup
with Fire-Roasted Chiles, Marcona Almond, Amontillado Sherry RECIPE
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