Pear Salsa

Pear Salsa

Fragrant chunks of crisp, Bartlett pear are tossed with sweet red onion, fiery bits of serrano chile, fresh mint and verdant cilantro.  This beautiful bowl of purple and green is then dressed in a simple mix of olive oil and lime juice.  Fresh, bright and SO yum, this recipe makes a lot of salsa, so make sure you have friends or family around to help you finish it.  I love to serve this up with some tortilla strips, but you could also spoon atop a seared piece of fish or mix in with steamed rice.

We’re all familiar with tropical fruit salsas like pineapple and mango, but really, you can use any type of fruit.  I’m getting a little giddy just thinking of the possibilities!  Apple and thyme salsa?  White peach and tarragon?  Berries and sage?  So many options!  What’s your favorite type of fruit salsa?  Continue reading for the recipe and share your thoughts below!

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Pear and Arugula Smoothie

Pear and Arugula Smoothie

I’ve reached that point in the new year where my body is just craving something healthy.  Cake, ice cream, burgers and Chinese food have recently been added to the list of things I don’t want to eat at the moment.  This list is, of course, only temporary.  But as for right now, I am officially on a health kick.  Morning meals include homemade granola, scrambled eggs sans butter, and variety of delicious smoothies.  My Spiced Oatmeal Smoothie is a standard, but recently, I’ve been ob. sessed. with this Pear and Arugula Smoothie.  Peppery arugula is blended with orange juice, pine nuts, yogurt, ginger and fresh pear.  The finished smoothie is light, bright and packed with flavor.  It’s seriously the easiest way to down a cup of greens in the morning.  Continue reading for the recipe (with animated GIF!).

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Brandon’s 2012 Top Picks

Frozen Seared Steak

Here’s a brief roundup of my top recipes from 2012.  I’ve really grown to enjoy writing this type of article each year.  Skimming through my archives, I get flooded with all sorts of fond memories.  During the month of February, I posted a number of Mexican recipes that I had prepared for Valentine’s Day.  I had led my boyfriend to believe that he was getting steak and salad for dinner, then surprised him with an entirely Mexican feast (he’s Mexican by the way).  In June, I moved from a beautiful house to a new apartment.  I find it interesting to see how my photography has changed since transitioning into the new space.  In September, I started experimenting with fermentation after enjoying an afternoon with a group of lovely San Diego Food Bloggers.

I’ve found that many of my good memories throughout the year have food associated with them.  I still remember the pickled quince served to a gathering of close friends for Thanksgiving.  The corned beef my mother prepared my first evening back in New Jersey (after 4 years!).  The citrusy walktails consumed during the Coachella Music Festival (a walktail is a cocktail you drink while walking from your car to the venue).  My first bite of caramelized onion and jalapeno-topped, cream cheese-slathered, sriracha-drizzled hot dog enjoyed with an old friend on his porch in Poughkeepsie.  A glorious sip of intensely flavored shrimp broth at a taco spot in Tijuana with my boyfriend.  Like I said above… flooded.  Continue reading for my top picks of 2012.  Also, please share some of your favorite 2012 food memories.

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Poached Quince

Poached Quince Last year, during the height of my soda-making obsession, I first discovered the beauty of the quince.  I was experimenting with a new flavor profile (quince and star anise), and after a few hours of simmering, I was left with a delicious soda syrup and melt-in-your-mouth Poached Quince.  After just one bite, I knew I had stumbled upon a new seasonal favorite.  In its raw form, quince is quite inedible.  Sour and astringent, raw quince looks like an apple or a pear, but seriously… don’t take a bite.  When cooked, quince transforms into a wonderfully fragrant delicacy nothing short of pure heaven.  The fragrance is like apple and pear mixed with heady floral notes.  In this recipe, I’ve added vanilla, cardamom and ginger to the poaching liquid.  Each of those flavors compliments the quince; however, you can omit any or all of them if you’re not a fan.  Quince are ripe when firm, yellow and fragrant.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Heirloom Tomato Jam

Heirloom Tomato Jam

Homemade condiments and sauces are two things I’m completely obsessed with.  If you were to open up my fridge today, you’d find an assortment of weck jars filled with jams, aioli, mustards, spreads, dippies and dairy products.  And perhaps a jar or two of pickles.  This Heirloom Tomato Jam is my newest addition.  Ripe heirloom tomatoes are simmered with ginger, red chile, cinnamon, cumin and ground clove, resulting in a ketchup-like sauce just packed with flavor.  Sugar used to bring out the sweetness in the tomatoes is balanced by a healthy squeeze of fresh lime juice.  Use this jam as a condiment for your next backyard burger or spread over freshly baked cheddar biscuits.  You could also use this jam with any beef, chicken or pork entree or mix into an afternoon bowl of polenta.  That’s the beauty of homemade condiments.  Having an arsenal of unique flavors at your fingertips allows you to easily switch up your everyday meals, creating unique dishes with minimal effort.  Prep this jam over the weekend, then enjoy throughout the week when time and energy are usually limited.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Ripe Plum Tabbouleh

Ripe Plum Tabbouleh

With the 4th of July just around the corner, I’ve been testing out some nontraditional sides that would fit in well at a barbeque.  Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad typically made with bulgur, tomato, herbs, lemon and olive oil.  The flavors are fresh, bold and clean.  A perfect counter to the assortment of smokey, fatty meats usually found at a backyard barbeque.  Stone fruit just screams summer to me, so I decided to substitute in some ripe, juicy plums for the tomatoes.  This salad starts with small mound of sliced scallions.  Tiny jewels of ombre-hued plum and fiery red chile are added just before a fragrant flurry of chopped mint and parsley.  Textural bulgur is crumbled in at the end with a dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  The finished salad is utterly addicting.  Because tabbouleh is dairy-free, it can sit out a party for a little while without worry of spoilage.  But I highly doubt it will sit around for too long before the whole bowl is finished.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Tomato Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette [Giveaway]

Tomato Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

This Tomato Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette is a vibrant celebration of one of my favorite ingredients, the tomato.  Sitting atop a mound of textural couscous is a haphazard mess of yellow, orange and red dressed in a fragrant, fruity vinaigrette.  Finished with a scattering of chopped oregano, tarragon and mint, this salad is freshness incarnate.  These bold, scrumptsh flavors are sure to keep the fork-to-mouth motion in full effect until the last morsel is consumed.

I should also mention that the types of tomatoes used aren’t particularly important.  Can’t find yellow cherry tomatoes?  Go with all red.  Orange tomatoes not available in your local market?  Pick up a roma, beefsteak or plum tomato.  Simply use the recipe below as a general guideline.  You’ll definitely want to make sure all of your tomatoes are ripe.  This salad is best consumed during the summer months when tomatoes are in season.  Continue reading for the recipe plus giveaway details.

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Blood Orange Frozen Yogurt

Blood Orange Frozen Yogurt

I still remember the sweet smell of crisp, white citrus blossoms the afternoon I went blood orange picking.  Standing amongst a small collection of blood orange, lime, lemon and Valencia orange trees, I stopped for a moment to enjoy the warm sun and heady fragrance.  After a brief zen moment, I continued on with the task at hand.  Nimbly darting throughout the limbs, I eagerly plucked ripe citrus from the trees while trying to avoid the sharp thorns dotting the surface of each branch.  The massive bowl of oranges pictured below is just a small fraction of the bounty I brought home that afternoon.  As I organized each fruit into different bowls around my kitchen, I couldn’t help but smile at the collection.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve prepared a number of recipes utilizing my winter citrus.  This Blood Orange Frozen Yogurt is one of my favorites :)  Made with blood orange zest and juice, this luscious fro yo is tart, creamy and complex.  Orange liqueur bumps up the oranginess of the dish while honey lends a sweet, floral note reminiscent of those wonderfully fragrant citrus blossoms.  If you can’t find blood oranges at your local market, you could certainly make this recipe with regular oranges.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Pear and Lemongrass Infused Vodka

Pear and Lemongrass Infused Vodka

This recipe for Pear and Lemongrass Infused Vodka is made with slices of crisp, floral Anjou pear and bright, fragrant lemongrass.  The inspiration behind this infusion?  Body wash.  Several weeks ago I purchased a variety of new body washes from The Body Shop including Lemon & Thyme, Watermelon & Eucalyptus, Apricot & Basil, and my favorite, Pear & Lemongrass.  I remember standing in my shower, poof well-sudsed, thinking to myself, “Hmmm, this would make a darn good infusion!”  Days later, I was happily sipping on this wonderfully aromatic alcoholic concoction.  You just never know when inspiration will strike!  I selected Anjou pears for this infusion because they have some light citrus notes that pair well with the lemongrass.  Bosc pears would be delicious here as well.  Have you ever had a surprise moment of inspiration?  If so, please share below.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Bittersweet Blood Orange Salad

Bittersweet Blood Orange Salad

Comprised of various contrasting flavors and textures, this Bittersweet Blood Orange Salad will have you smiling with each harmonious bite.  The bitter crunch of radicchio is offset by sweet segments of blood orange and creamy, fresh ricotta cheese.  Tiny toasted pine nuts provide satisfying pops of sweet nuttiness while colorful pomegranate seeds offer a tart juiciness.  The entire salad is finished with just a kiss of syrup made of blood orange juice, maple syrup and fragrant orange-flower water.  This salad is truly an experience.

To make this salad more Valentine’s Day appropriate, I featured produce in various shades of red.  Please use whatever color produce is available to you at your local grocery store or farmer’s market.  Any bitter greens will work here and you could even substitute regular oranges for the blood variety.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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