September 8, 2014

What's New at Rook No. 17?

Hello friends!
I've missed you so!

It's been a bit snoozy around here at Rook No. 17, hasn't it?
I thank you for sticking around.


What's new:  At the beginning of August, I started my new career as a high school teacher.  I'm teaching Culinary Arts at the local high school using a curriculum designed by the National Restaurant Association.  I teach two beginning Culinary Arts classes and one Advanced.  Words cannot express how very blessed I feel to wake up each morning excited to go to work.  I love my job!

Here are a few of the projects that my students have been working on:

Savory Breakfast Cupcakes with homemade Hollandaise "frosting" and Chive "sprinkles"

My Advanced students mastered the art of poached eggs for Classic Eggs Benedict.
Rustic French Bread
Chocolate Dipped Macaroons (recipe HERE)
Raspberry Macarons
Soft Pretzels
French Eclairs with pastry cream made from scratch (recipe HERE)
Lemon Yogurt Cake (we substituted coconut oil for the olive oil) recipe HERE

As a first-year teacher, however, not much time has been left to spend online these past few weeks.  The good news is that my hiatus from Rook No. 17 is only temporary.  With the first month of school under my belt, my confidence is increasing, and I'm slowly but surely putting my life back into balance.  

What's in store:  In the coming months, you'll notice some big changes here at Rook No. 17.  Namely (no pun intended), Rook No. 17 is becoming "Maker, Baker, Glitter Shaker (by Rook No. 17)  I have a spiffy new logo designed by Spanish artist Irene Renon, and will be undergoing a page-redesign to help make my website easier to navigate.  I'll be doing less (if any) sponsored posts, and more of what I love most -- sharing my food and crafty creations with you.  I'll continue to do book reviews and give copies away to my readers.  I have a fabulous Halloween craft book that I can't wait to share!  Sound good?

Until next time, I leave you with these two humble words of wisdom:

Be Generous

July 31, 2014

Recipe: Cream Cheese Stuffed Figs with Fresh Fig Caviar Compote

I'm pretty sure the Gods on Mt. Olympus must have eaten these. Although my weekend did include the sighting of several mythological beasts, I didn't have to travel to Ancient Greece to experience this taste of ambrosia.

In fact, I didn't even have to leave California.  Last week, my Nerdy-and-Proud family headed down to San Diego for Comic Con 2014.  My girls dressed-up as characters from one of their favorite shows:  Supernatural

Our hotel turned out to be a complete dump (to put it nicely).  Our first sight, upon pulling in was of the upper balcony, where a guest had strung their laundry between columns -- delicates and all. Fortunately we were rescued from the roach motel by family who live in the area.

The girls and their cousins pitched a tent in the backyard.

The girls were thrilled to stay with their cousins, and my husband and I were treated to wine and appetizers that included these amazing stuffed figs when we returned from the convention one night.

Our family sent us home with a bag full of freshly picked figs.  As soon as we returned home, I began experimenting with my own version of this exquisite small bite appetizer.  The taste is sublime and the presentation sophisticated, but these really couldn't be easier make and prepare in advance.  The fresh figs provide a light, delicate fruit flavor that pairs well to the tart whipped cream cheese that puffs as it bakes like a souff.  The fresh fig caviar is made from the seeds and and tender flesh of the inner fig blossom.  Mixed with just a touch of organic sugar to bring out the natural honey and vanilla notes, it becomes a sauce that adds the delicate crunch of a fine caviar.  

Stuffed Figs with Fresh Fig Caviar Compote

Use these guidelines to make as many or as few as you wish.  The stuffed figs can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated until ready to bake.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Small (two-bite) fresh figs
  • Whipped Cream Cheese (Do not use regular)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Organic sugar

Tools (Recommended but not required)
  • Melon ball scooper
  • Tablespoon sized stainless steel portion scoop
  • ceramic or glass baking dish(es)

 Preheat oven to 350° F

Step 1:  Slice figs in half.  Use a small spoon or melon baller to scoop out the seeds.  Set aside in a small bowl.  Arrange the fig shells in a glass or ceramic baking dish.

Step 2:  Stir 1 Tablespoon organic sugar into the reserved fig flesh (for each 1/2 cup of fig flesh).  Refrigerate.

Step 3:  Use a stainless steel scoop to portion around a Tablespoon of whipped cream cheese into each fig half.  Don't worry if it does not touch the sides.  The cream cheese expands and puffs as it bakes.

Step 4:  Lightly sprinkle the cream cheese with ground cinnamon. Bake on center rack of oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cream cheese has just begin to lightly brown.

Step 5:  When cool to the touch, top each stuffed fig with some of the refrigerated sauce.  Serve warm.

July 16, 2014

Recipe ~ Fresh Squeezed Peach Sangria

Fresh squeezed peaches? That's right -- the secret to this light and refreshing summer sangria, with the flavor of  ripe and juicy fresh peaches, is in the technique -- hand squeezing.

The recipe starts by making homemade peach nectar.  Ripe, peeled peaches are simply squeezed in a bowl to release their golden juice.  A small amount of sugar is added to the peaches to help release the rest of the juices.  Rested, then strained, the end result is pure ambrosia.  Here's how it can be used to make a delicious peach sangria:

Fresh Squeezed

Peach Sangria

yield:  8 servings

  • 10 large peaches (ripe, but firm enough to peel)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup peach schnapps
  • 1.5 liters white wine (the Riesling from Barefoot is a perfect compliment to the peaches)

Step 1:  Peel and pit 8 of the peaches.  Place in a large bowl.  Gently squeeze, with clean hands, to release the juices and to break into small pieces.  Stir in the sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Step 2:  In a fine mesh strainer, over a medium bowl, strain the peaches.  You may want to use a small whisk to keep the mixture moving in the strainer, allowing the juices to flow into the bowl.  Discard the pulp that is left behind.  The nectar is ready to use or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Step 3:  To assemble the sangria, start by pouring the wine into a large jar or pitcher.  Add the nectar and the schnapps.  Stir to combine.  Slice the remaining two peaches.  Add to the sangria.  Serve over ice. 

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