Monday, July 22, 2013

Afternoon Adventure & an Ice Cream Float

I don't know how long Clairmont Farms has been around but I've been driving by it for many years, it seems, and never once stopped to check it out. Until yesterday that is. I had a jar of Sweet Lady Cook's strawberry lavender jam and wanted to make something yummy with it. My intent was to go to the farm to purchase some culinary lavender and make a honey lavender syrup. 
Just driving into the farm felt magical. It looks like one of those French rustic farms you see in movies. The long driveway is lined with tall trees and to the left you see all the beautiful bushes of lavender. 

Their little shop is situated at the end of the driveway. They carry a variety of body care products as well as lavender infused teas, honey, salts, and other herbs and spices. I left with a jar of lavender rooibos tea, lavender infused honey and a bouquet of dried lavender just because it's so pretty. I took a quick walk through the lavender field before leaving. This place is just so darn cute. They even have picnic tables set up so visitors can bring and enjoy their lunch in this gorgeous place.

Having acquired that lavender honey, it was time to make something delicious. What better way to end a summer night than with an ice cream float.

Summer Ice Cream Float

What you will need:

Sweet Lady Cook strawberry lavender jam
Both vanilla and caramel ice cream 
(You can use just one flavor if you prefer) I used the Talenti brand gelato.
Lavender infused honey.
Club soda

How to prepare:

In a tall glass, add two heaping tablespoons of Sweet Lady Cook strawberry lavender jam. Using a muddler, mash down any larger chunks of fruit.
Add a scoop of each vanilla and caramel ice cream. Top with a generous spoonful of lavender honey. Pour in the club soda and enjoy. I forwent the straw on this one and dug in with a spoon.

Don’t feel limited to the ingredients in this recipe. I’m confident that any of Sweet Lady Cook’s jams would be great in an ice cream float. You can even change up the ice cream flavors and use regular honey to get new and fun flavor combinations.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Quinoa Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

This last week I received some yummy new jams from Sweet Lady Cook. I had a little dinner party the other night where I tried out some new recipes incorporating her jams. Brie and apricot jam grilled cheese with truffle honey and this summer salad with strawberry balsamic vinaigrette. My brother is my toughest critic when it comes to my "healthy" cooking and this salad was his favorite. I've already made another batch and he's eating it up. 

Summer Quinoa Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

What you will need

For the salad:

1 cup quinoa (cooking instructions below)
1 ear of sweet white corn, kernels removed
1 cup diced cucumber (1/2 of an English cucumber)
2 cups spinach, chopped
1/4 cup diced strawberries
1 tablespoon of chopped basil leaves
2 pinches of salt

For the dressing:

1/4 heaping cup Sweet Lady Cook strawberry balsamic jam
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon stoneground mustard
pinch of pepper
a few generous pinches of salt

Garnish (optional):

Feta cheese
Sliced strawberries
Chopped basil

To prepare:

First thing you need to do is prepare your quinoa. Always rinse quinoa before use. It helps remove a naturally occurring outer coating that gives off a bitter taste. Add 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water to a medium size pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until quinoa has soaked up all the water. Fluff with fork and let cool.

Once the quinoa is cooked, it will need to cool to room temperature. You may want to make it the night before or a few hours in advance. (Placing it in the fridge can speed up the cooling process. If you prepare it the night before, store in the fridge over night.)

When quinoa is ready, add in all ingredients for salad and toss lightly to combine. Add dressing and toss again to coat evenly.

For the dressing, combine all ingredients and whisk together. You can also add all ingredients to a glass jar and give it a good shake. This is great if you want to make it the night before. Just store in fridge along with the quinoa.

Keep salad in fridge until ready to eat. I like to garnish right before serving.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lauren's Fruit Cobbler

Years ago my dad dated a women named Lauren. I remember the night my brother and I met her for the first time. I had a preconceived notion she was going to be some young bimbo. I guess that says more about my dad. Anyway, she was great. She was a lovely woman. Over the years we spent a lot of time together. I will always remember what a great cook she was. On our beach outings, she would pack a picnic with the most amazing sandwiches. One day she served us a piece of her fruit cobbler. Oh my, it was amazing! The best cobbler I had ever tasted. So buttery and delicious. It was always such a treat when she would make it. I had gotten the recipe from her but never made it until now. I had been thinking in my head of how I wanted to make a gluten free version. The original recipe calls for self rising flour and sugar. I tweaked the recipe to make it gluten and refined sugar free. It still tastes just like that amazing cobbler I had years ago.

This recipe is great because you can use whatever fresh fruit you prefer. The first time I made it, I used strawberries and blueberries. This time around I used fresh apricots from my friend Wallace’s tree.

Lauren's Fruit Cobbler,
Gluten and Refined Sugar Free

What you will need:

1/4 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 almond milk, unsweetened (soy or regular would work as well.)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups fresh fruit of your choice (if using stone fruits, pit first and then measure.)
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut sugar

To make:

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a 9 inch baking dish, preferably glass or ceramic. I just do this right over the burner on the stove.

In another bowl, sift together your flour blend and coconut sugar. Add milk and mix well to combine.

In a pot add your fruit, honey and coconut sugar. Substitute honey for the coconut sugar if you prefer. You can always adjust the amount of sweetener used depending on how sweet the fruit is. Heat until the sugar has melted and fruit is warm but not cooked.

To assemble, take the baking dish with melted butter, pour batter mixture into the middle. Again, into the middle, add the warm fruit mixture. Do not spread out!

Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden and crisp on top. Serve warm or cool. I like it best served with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Brie & Blenheim Apricot Grilled Cheese

Happy Monday. It's a brand new week and the start of a new month. For those who will be having a summer BBQ or dinner party, check out the recipe for Brie and Blenheim Apricot Grilled Cheese I shared with Sweet Lady Cook on her blog today. Truffle honey makes this sandwich!