Friday, February 27, 2009

I've Moved!

I have officially moved to Come visit!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Best Granola & A Little Blogging Change

It has come to my attention that my blog can take quite a bit of time to load on various computers. I'm not really sure why this is happening, but I find it very frustrating and I am in the process of doing something about it. Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that part of the reason I have been such a terrible blogger these past few weeks is because I'm trying to figure out what to do.  I'll keep you posted, and I apologize for the recent lack of activity on alexandra's kitchen.

But before I leave you, I just thought I'd remind you all about one of my all-time favorite recipes. It has been over a year since I made this granola and it is just as delectable as I remember. The base recipe has been adapted from the Barefoot Contessa and the candied nut recipe comes from one of the Moosewood cookbooks. With the addition of dried cranberries and blueberries, this granola makes the best breakfast/snack/lunch/dinner ever. Seriously. It most definitely will appear on Olalie's Menu.

Candied cashews and almonds:

Granola and nuts mixed with dried cranberries and blueberries:

Nuts before roasting:

Granola just out of the oven:

Also, for those of you who live in the San Diego-Orange County area and have yet to make plans for Valentine's Day, Cafe Mimosa is offering a four-course prix fixe tasting menu on both Friday and Saturday nights (Feb. 13th and 14th). The menu sounds fantastic!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Grilled Cheese & Cafe Photos

I cut the bread too thick. And I didn't use enough cheese — I thought four ounces of cheese per sandwich seemed a little excessive. But maybe that's what it takes to make the ultimate grilled cheese.

Saveur says:

"The Secret to making a perfect grilled cheese sandwich is cooking it over low heat, which brings out the subtle flavors of a cheese, and slathering the bread with butter, which crisps it in the pan. Comté, with its semifirm texture and nutty taste, is great for grilling."

Saveur's recipe for "the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich" calls for placing a cast-iron skillet over low heat and cooking the sandwich, flipping once, for 20 minutes. Twenty minutes! Who knew it took so long to make a grilled cheese sandwich? I did in fact cook my grilled cheese for 20 minutes and, thanks to a hefty slathering of butter, my sandwich crisped up nicely in my cast-iron pan. Oh, if only I had cut the bread thinner! 

I think this cooking technique has the potential to produce a really great sandwich and next time around, I hope to find comté cheese, too. French comté is made from the milk of the Montbeliarde cows who graze on wild orchids, daisies and dandelions. Yum. If you can't find comté, gruyère makes a fine substitute.

Don't strain your eyes. Find the recipe here.

Since all I have to offer today is an unperfected grilled cheese sandwich, I thought I'd share some pictures with you as well. All of these are taken at the cafe where I work. If I can somehow get the chef to share his recipe for lemon madeleines, I will be sure to report back ... they are so damn good. 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Prosciutto, Endive & Shaved Manchego Salad with Tarragon-Shallot Vinaigrette

I am anxious to share with you my aunt Marcy's blueberry muffins, my mother's rosemary shortbread and my stepfather's glug — a high-octane, blood-warming winter punch. Those treats are going to have to wait, however. My eyes and mind need a break from the recent holiday indulgences.

And so today, I have only two things to share with you: a yummy yummy salad and a favorite vinaigrette.

Several weeks ago, a friend and I dined at Froma on Melrose, an LA cheese-, charcuterie-, and wine shop, where I ordered the Jamón Serrano salad, a combination of salty ham, bitter endive, and sweet pear, topped with Manchego cheese and drizzled with chestnut honey. What arrived at the table — essentially a platter of meat topped with a sprinkling of endive — was entirely different than what I envisioned but entirely enjoyed that evening. With my side of sliced baguette, I assembled mini open-faced sandwiches, which, along with a glass of red wine, made for a delectable dinner. 

I've since made the salad several times, omitting the honey, which Froma overdid a tad and which is unnecessary anyway — the pears add a perfect amount of sweetness. A tarragon-shallot vinaigrette, I find makes the perfect dressing for this simple salad.

Happy New Year everyone!

Tarragon-Shallot Vinaigrette
Yield = ½ cup (Make a double batch — It's so nice to have on hand.)

4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons tarragon, finely chopped

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallots, mustard, sugar and salt. Let mixture macerate for 20 minutes. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Stir in tarragon. Taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary. Set aside.

Prosciutto, Pear & Endive Salad
Serves as many as you like

endive, sliced into thin wedges
pear, sliced thinly
Manchego cheese, shaved
bread, toasted or grilled

Arrange prosciutto on a large platter. (Alternatively, arrange a few slices on individual plates.) Toss endive, arugula and pear with the tarragon-shallot vinaigrette. Top prosciutto with salad. Top salad with slices of cheese. Serve with warm bread.