Posted on June 27, 2014
I’m not sure what business apples have growing right now in Redondo Beach, CA, but when my husband texted me the other day, “Hey Sue, I just picked some apples from our school’s community garden tree, do you think you can make a pie?”, I figured, why not? I’ll make an apple-black liquorice pie and bring it to Fiesta Friday #22. Just what you would do in the middle of summer, right?
The poor fella thinks he’s getting a normal All-American apple pie, but he’s not, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. See I’ve had black liquorice on my brain ever since reading about New York’s $10 latte — the libation made with the wonderfully sweet and pungent raw Danish black liquorice powder called Lakrids, served at Budin, and I wanted to see if I could incorporate the flavor of black liquorice into a pie.
I thought since fennel paired well with apples, that the flavor of wild fennel (which I thought was the same as liquorice) would pair well with apple in a pie. Also my husband was really going to town on the black liquorice chews I’d bought for my homemade attempt at the $10 latte, so I thought he might like it in his apple pie!
It all started with our walk a couple weeks ago when we spotted acres of wild anise growing on the side of the road and the smell was making me dizzy (in a good way) . . . which led to wild fennel tea . . . and deviled eggs with fennel pollen. Then I read about the Danish liquorice latte and made one at home earlier this week.
As I was researching black liquorice, however, I was really surprised to find that it is not botanically related to fennel, even though the flavor is almost identical. The liquorice plant is a legume that is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. It is not botanically related to anise, star anise, or fennel, which are sources of similar flavouring compounds. Most liquorice is actually used as a flavoring agent for tobacco. Liquorice in candy/chew form is popular in Scandinavian countries, and in Italy (particularly in the South) and Spain in its natural form. The root of the plant is simply dug up, washed and chewed as a mouth freshener. Throughout Italy unsweetened liquorice is consumed in the form of small black pieces made only from 100% pure liquorice extract; the taste is bitter and intense. In Calabria a popular liqueur is made from pure liquorice extract. Liquorice is also very popular in Syria where it is sold as a drink.
Liquorice is reported to treat gastrointestinal disorders, including stomach ulcers, as well as bronchitis. It is also used topically to treat skin disorders such as excema and psoriasis. Moreover, liquorice extract is a known natural brightening agent for skin pigmentation disorders or irritation.
I thought the liquorice flavor, with apples, would pair nicely with a rye flour crust, so I made an all-butter crust with half whole grain rye flour (that I got, freshly milled, at San Francisco’s The Mill, a joint venture between Josey the Baker and Blue Bottle Coffee).
Here’s the Recipe:
Let the pie cool for at least 1/2 hour. Serve with raw apple slices and raw fennel fronds if you like, which nicely brightens the earthiness of the rye crust.
*Update: he liked it!
Posted on May 26, 2014
Why? Because it’s a holiday and you may get extra time to sleep, extra time to surf, extra time to do whatever it is you love, and plenty of time to nap and read in between. Then there’s eating.
If you are hosting a barbecue this year, or bringing a dish to another’s Memorial Day festivity, I have some suggestions for burgers, salads and desserts (including this strawberry shortcake we had for breakfast on Tuesday) that I shared with my friends over at Foodlander. Head on over and let me know what sounds good to you!
Posted on May 19, 2014
Asparagus is one of the vegetables that is synonymous with Spring in my vocabulary. However, as with other vegetables I cook when they are in peak season, I find myself making it the same way over and over again — roasted with olive oil and salt, steamed and thrown into salad or dressed with a vinaigrette on its own, or sautéed in a quick stir-fry. Even the bowl you see above, though it looks somewhat creative and different, uses steamed asparagus. This year I was determined to try some different preparations with asparagus so I headed over to Food and Wine magazine and wrote a little piece for Foodlander.com describing what I found from the past winners of the “Best New Chef” award. Foodlander is a nifty app that zeroes in on the nearest Farmer’s Market for you. Head over to Foodlander and let me know what looks intriguing and inspiring to you!
Posted on May 5, 2014
Colors make me happy. They represent abundance and variety to me, and conjure up feelings of awe and cheeriness. I love bright and saturated hues, in textiles, ceramics, glass; in food, in clothing, in shoes. Unpatterned though . . . I like solids and not patterns. I favor a neutral palette with pops of wild color.
When I was a teenager I went through a stage where I stuck to a monochromatic wardrobe of black, much to my parents’ chagrin. They didn’t make a big deal out of it, but I do remember my Dad mentioning it to me one time, so I knew they were paying attention. It sounds silly to me now, but I think it was my way of living within the imagined confines of my clothing choices, as I was attending a pretty exclusive private all-girls school where I felt that I was the poorest kid on the block and could not compete with the fancy pants (literally) of my peers. If I just wore black all the time I wouldn’t have to think about buying matching pants and shirts and shoes . . . and therefore wouldn’t be forever wanting to buy more clothes. I sort of laugh at myself and then feel compassion for my parents, who God knows were not poor, but also were not movie stars or moguls, when I think back on these days. I had transferred to this school from public school in order to get a superior education, which I did, and I actually did love the school part, and am forever grateful that I was given the opportunity to go there. It was not cheap, that’s for sure, but my parents wanted me to have a good education and felt that if I wanted to and could get into the school, that they wanted to make the financial sacrifice. I’ve always loved school, campuses, just the whole experience of being in an academic community. But the friends and clothing part? I was miserable!
These days I wear a lot more color. Also, one of the kicks of cooking and shopping for food, for me, is seeing what looks vibrant, colorful and fresh. I created this potato salad, which is very roughly based (at least the potato part) on a version of German Potato Salad my paternal grandmother used to make of potatoes dressed in a bacon/mustard/vinegar dressing and then tossed with bacon, to celebrate the diversity of color I recently spotted at our Saturday’s Farmer’s Market. I used lemon basil, amaranth leaf, jicama and all kinds of other odds and ends!
Do you have a favorite color that comes up in your food preparations again and again? How important is presentation to you when you are entertaining, dining with family, or dining alone? What do you do when you’re feeling playful in your cooking? Let me know in your comments!
Posted on April 28, 2014
I am shamelessly posting that it’s my birthday today. Every day we wake up and draw a breath is a day to celebrate; but this year on my birthday I had such a wonderful culinary fiesta that I wanted to share it with my friendly readers and fellow bloggers. Read More