Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole

Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole Jorge and I hosted game night recently, and one of the many tasty dishes served that evening was this Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole.  But first let me tell you a little about the game we played: Cards Against Humanity.  This game is awesome.  Basically one person reads a question or a fill in the blank statement (the black card), then everyone else tries to answer that question or complete the statement using the cards they have in their hand (the white cards).  The person holding the black card then decides which pairing is the funniest.  What makes this game awesome, is that the white cards can be pretty darn outrageous.  I mean, we played for almost 4 hours, and I couldn’t stop laughing for most of the evening.  My face hurt afterwards.

I think Cards Against Humanity has been out for a little bit, and I’m probably late to the party here.  But if you’ve never played, and you don’t mind a little over-the-top humor, you need to give this game a try.  So much fun.

And if you want to host a game night of your own, I’d definitely recommend making this guacamole.  Rick Bayless released this recipe last year, and I’ve had it bookmarked ever since.  Sweet, herbaceous fennel is roasted until tender and fragrant, then added to cubes of rich avocado along with crisp, tart apple, lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro.  This seasonal variation of a Mexican classic is sharp, creamy and wonderfully complex.  The licoricey fennel compliments the avocado while tiny pops of green apple offer contrast in flavor and texture.  The fennel isn’t really overpowering here.  With each bite, you’ll notice just a hint of fennel at the end.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Tamarind Trail Mix

Jarring Tamarind Trail Mix

Jorge and I are headed off for Portland and Seattle in several days, and I’m currently in the process of preparing for this 9 day trip.  Today will be spent doing laundry, and purchasing any last minute items like my cologne that’s just about to run out (Jo Malone Assam & Grapefruit), hiking shoes, new jeans and a gift for a friend’s wedding we’ll be attending on Saturday.  Tomorrow, I’ll be organizing my belongings and starting the packing process.  I’m one of those people who packs waaaaay too much stuff for vacation.  Whatever, I like outfit options!  On Thursday, I’ll be baking another batch of this Tamarind Trail Mix.  Traveling without substantially delicious snacks is something I rarely do.  Airport food is typically the worst.  Hi, $11 sandwich that tastes moderate at best.  And don’t even get me started on airplane food.

Sweet, salty and wonderfully complex, this Tamarind Trail Mix is flavored with cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, honey, brown sugar, tomato and tamarind.  Roasted nuts, seeds and coconut are then tossed with sweet dried mango and citrusy chopped cilantro.  The finished mix is incredibly savory and undeniably addictive.  I like to pack up my travel trail mixes in mason jars to keep the contents from getting crushed in my bag.  I should note that I’ll be making most of the trail mix in advance.  On Saturday, right before we leave for the airport, I’ll add the chopped cilantro.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Summer Squash Crostini

Zucchini Crostini Sweet, grassy squash is sauteed with olive oil, lemon and rosemary, then arranged atop a garlic-rubbed, ricotta-slathered slice of baguette.  These handheld treats have the most satisfying contrast in both flavor and texture.  The crisp, toasted bread against the tender rounds of zucchini and squash.  The cool, creamy ricotta against the sharp bite of garlic and soaring brightness of lemon.  So. Yum.

Summer Squash Crostini is a simple yet elegant way to use up the bounty of beautiful squash available at the markets right now.  Serve these bites as an appetizer at a backyard bash, or pair with a chilled summer soup for a light dinner.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Kale and Avocado Summer Rolls

Spring Roll Making During San Diego’s June Gloom, the weather is rarely ideal for going to the beach.  Which makes me sad, because it’s around this time of the year that I start yearning for a beach day.  The beach is one of the main reasons why I moved from New Jersey to San Diego.  Each year while I was growing up, I would spend a week or two at my Aunt’s beach house on Long Beach Island (eating many of these).  It was one of my favorite times of the year.  So naturally, when it was time for me to move out on my own, I picked a city with easy beach access.

On the rare occasion in June when the sun decides to break through the marine layer, I immediate make plans to go to the beach.  I pack my bag with a book, iPad, iPhone, tanning oil (I am a New Jerseyite at heart), water and snacks, like these Kale and Avocado Summer Rolls.  Kale is marinated in a dressing of honey, lime, fish sauce, garlic and chile, then wrapped up with a fresh mix of carrot, cucumber, avocado, mint and cilantro.  These flavors are bold and bright.  Portable gourmet, this summer roll can easily stay in my bag for a few hours without worry of spoilage.

So it ends up that today is actually one of those rare beautiful days in June.  I’ve got my bag almost all packed up, so I’m going to finish here.  I’ll be on the beach enjoying a few of these tasty rolls.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Blood Orange Marmalade

Blood Orange Marmalade

So I think I might have a new obsession: Orange Cardamom Scones + Blood Orange Marmalade + Mascarpone Cheese.  Sweet, tart, creamy, flaky, and buttery.  Does it get any better than that?  Not just for scones, this sunset-hued spread can liven up any slice of buttered toast or cream-cheesed bagel.  Typically thought of as a breakfast food, marmalade can actually be used in many other applications.  Try spooning a dollop over vanilla ice cream to brighten up your late night dessert.  This marmalade can also be shaken into a seasonal cocktail or be used as the base of a fruit vinaigrette.

I’m already one paragraph in, and I have yet to mention the best part of this recipe.  It only requires 3 ingredients.  And 1 of them is water!!  If you’ve never made marmalade before, don’t be intimidated and give this recipe a try.  I’m sure you’ll be surprised at how easy it is.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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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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Tomato and Farro Soup

Tomato and Farro Soup

Slow simmered farro blended into a spiced tomato soup then topped with cool coconut milk, golden almonds and torn cilantro.  I still remember my first sip of this Tomato and Farro Soup.  Bold.  Aromatic.  And utterly addicting.  Each spoonful delivered a satisfying bite of contrasting flavor, texture and temperature.  It’s hard to believe that something this delicious could actually be healthy!  I know you don’t hear me talk about nutrition a lot here on Kitchen Konfidence, but I needed to keep it in mind when developing this recipe for Meals-On-Wheels Greater San Diego.  For more than 50 years, Meals-On-Wheels Greater San Diego has been devoted to providing healthy meals to San Diego seniors.  Low in sodium and fat, this seasonal soup is a tasty treat for seniors and juniors alike!  Continue reading for a link to the recipe plus more information on Meals-On-Wheels Greater San Diego.

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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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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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