Sunday, July 31, 2016

Captain Greg's Masterful Mint Chip Gelato


It's been a while since we've had Captain Greg stop by with one of his fabulous, and oh so decadent gelato concoctions. Who can forget his scandalously rich Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk?  Or maybe it's the zingy Lemon Lime version that stuck with you?  Personally I'll never forget the Ghirardelli Mocha Chip that sent me dreaming of Italy for days on end.

One of the kindest and most generous people I'm lucky enough to know, Captain Greg remains one of my favorite neighbors and gelato makers.  For the last 18 years he's always the calm voice on the other end of the phone when I'm in a pinch, but more importantly - he delivers treats right to my door.

And today he's sharing with all of us a new and ever so special Mint Chip Gelato in this guest post. Join me as we explore this most recent flavor explosion.

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Two years ago I decided to teach the children of close friends to cook Italian. As you would expect, when I left menu choices to the kids they came up with two “food groups”: pizza and gelato. 100% of the time.

“No pasta? No entrée’s with rich tomato sauce or cheeses?”

Nope. Pizza or gelato.

I know when to give in, and decided instead to build the challenge a different way.

I insist they choose the flavors and make it start-to-finish. No shortcuts. It lets me talk food chemistry, creativity, the importance of natural ingredients, and lets them experience the richness and fun of making their own creations. And it is fun!

Two great girls, Chloe and Sophie, showed up with a vision of “the greatest Mint Chip gelato ever”. So we brought together a garden of fresh mint, lots of eggs and most importantly, two packages of Andes Crème de Menthe Thins. You know, the ones you always grab 5 of when leaving a restaurant? They melt in your mouth with an explosion of mint, like the essence of a Girl Scout Cookie or a Grasshopper Martini (two very different delivery vehicles)!

I couldn’t think of a better, more refreshing frozen treat. And... we nailed it!

Start with my basic sugar and egg custard base, but prep it with a clutch of fresh mint sprigs steeped in the simmering milk ingredients. Cool it, add a couple drops of pure peppermint extract (guaranteed to clear your sinuses). An optional drop or two of green, throw it in your gelato or ice cream churn, and when it sets up swirl in the Andes Mint bits --- if you haven’t already eaten them.  Good luck!

It’s a complete rush of freshness -- silky, laced in chocolate and taking mint to the level of fantasy. I don’t think the girls will ever ask for pizza again…


Friday, July 15, 2016

Picnic in the Park Watermelon Arugula Salad with Watermelon Vinaigrette

Picnic in the Park Watermelon Arugula Salad with Watermelon Vinaigrette

Are you loving these long days of summer (except for my friends in the other hemisphere... for you I wish you warm weather soon!)?  Mornings with no alarms, impromptu beach sessions with friends, and Friday evening Jazz in the Park... I'm loving each and every sunny moment.  And frequently these special summer moments include food, but the potluck part can sometimes be difficult if we don't have the right tools.

Once again I have OXO to the rescue.  Making me a super salad queen, we have no more soggy salads when using the 8 Piece Snap Glass Round Container Set and the super handy Little Salad Dressing Shaker to transport my goodies to the fun.

Heading to mom and dad's last week, mom requested her favorite watermelon salad.  Not a problem, but I knew we wouldn't be eating until other friends arrived and by the time I transported the salad and let it sit for a few hours we'd have a less than appetizing, soggy dish.

So, I placed the greens and quinoa in the largest of the 4 glass snap bowls, then the watermelon in another bowl and the dry, crispy toppings in another.  The salad shaker brought the dressing separately and I placed it all into a cooler with OXO's 2 in 1 Salad Servers.

When the time came to serve I simply tossed the greens, added watermelon, and then dressed and garnished with my favorite crispy chickpeas and served - all in mere minutes and we had a fresh, crisp salad.

Mom loves the sweet watermelon paired with the zesty arugula (I love the name "rocket" that my Australian friends use for it!) and I adore the crispy salty chickpea/pumpkin seed topping.  Easy to toss together, this salad works well from the beach to the park to your own backyard.

My thanks to OXO for the bowls, and for once again making me look all put together and polished.  The snap lids are perfect for transportation with 4 locking snaps and a removable gasket that makes these beauties totally leakproof.  Nestable and stackable, these bowls store easily in the cupboard or transport well in the cooler.

Wishing you health and happiness as we enjoy these summer days...
Eat well always,


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Berry Coconut Strawberry Blueberry Salad - Recipe

Coconut Strawberry Blueberry Salad

Coconut... it's everywhere these days, isn't it?  We've all seen the coco-water craze, and personally I'm obsessed with the oil and manna (manna dollop on oatmeal anyone?).  But Coconut Balsamic?  Ohhh, yes indeed.

Last weekend I attended a local food festival, North Eats, in Carlsbad, CA.  Showcasing some 25+ local North County San Diego restaurants (Blue Ribbon, Local Tap House, Prep Kitchen and Solterra being a few of my favories).  The sponsor, Baker and Olive, challenged the chefs to feature Baker and Olive oils and vinegars in their recipes, and oh my goodness did they succeed.

I'm still craving Prep Kitchen's savory Potato Agnolotti, and that Honeydew Melon Gazpacho from Solterra will be a must have whenever I visit.  But it was Master's Kitchen's Coconut Lime Shrimp Sapicon (think shrimp, mango, coconut and lime on small toasts) that took me to Baker and Olive for a bottle of Coconut Balsamic to call my own (Note I came home with olive oil from Spain, a Tuscan oil and a Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic in addition).

Baker and Olive Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar
Yes... Coconut Balsamic, a white balsamic infused with the scents and flavors of any tropical island you can think of.  Slightly tart with the balsamic notes, the coconut makes a rich, flavorful vinegar that I can only imagine paired with a Lime infused Oil (it's on my to try list).

But how perfect does it pair with my strawberry salad?  Simply perfectly perfect in my opinion.  

Just in time for your 4th of July celebrations tomorrow, this simple salad receives an extra coconut kick from the coconut balsamic, but a drizzle of any white balsamic will do.  Toss in finely sliced mint ribbons and top with crunchy coconut chips and your potluck dish is ready in no time.  And... it will be gone in time too.

Here's wishing you a fun-filled and safe, 4th of July, 2016 my friends.  Eat well :)

Coconut Strawberry Blueberry Salad with Oxo Glass Snap


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