The Mellow Mallow

It snowed April 29th, 2014 and I can’t wait to go camping.  I know you are reading this going, “oh that silly girl, she is going to say something funny to make a joke about people camping in snow,” but no, no I am not.  Just as soon as I can see 2 days of sunshine, warm air and no snow or rain, I am going camping.  Campfire 2014Camping means several things to me; fun times, planning the food, breathtaking fires, the painstaking hunt for kindling, uninterrupted family time, meaning my brothers and I can joke about the dumb things we have done in our lives and not get defensive, anymore, which brings us closer together, nature, or as you and I like to call it mosquitoes, hiking, shooting sta…”what? You saw one? I blinked”, smoke, “black rabbit, black rabbit, black rabbit”, campfire hair (smell, look and feel) the lulling sounds of the night as I snuggle into the sack, only to wake up either freezing cold and sore from shivering or so hot I have forgotten I am camping and panic and then there are S’mores, delicious little dirty, messy morsels of chocolate, marshmallow and graham.  My memory gives way to Kraft Jet-Puffed marshmallows and Hershey’s chocolate rectangles between two Nabisco Honey Maid graham crackers.

I have only met one person in my life that has ever made marshmallows from scratch. She was a culinary artist I worked with for several years and incorporated booze and powdered peanut butter.  She made them using gelatin, so I thought that was how they had always been made. 2

According to the National Confectioner’s Association, the first marshmallow was derived from the mallow plant (Athaea officinalis), a plant that is native to marshes. Get it? Marsh mallow.  Candy companies have now replaced the mallow with gelatin, which is how I was able to spend the afternoon making marshmallows. To think what was once only suitable for royalty, Americans now consume over 90 million pounds per year, or 1,125 full 18-wheelers.  90 million pounds!

I began my marshmallowy, gooey, sugary adventure.

Quick Facts:
• Mallow plants were used by doctors to soothe sore throats in the early 1800’s.
• At one point in time it took 27 hours to create one Peep. Today, it takes about six minutes. Technological advances… (ACA, 2014)
• The Girl Scout Handbook published the first S’more recipe in 1927. (ACA, 2014)
• Powdered peanut butter is the process by which the hydrogenated fat is removed from the peanut and then ground into a fine powder adding in sugar and salt. (

Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste Marshmallows
Yield: 24 1” marshmallowsMarshmallows

• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• Cooking spray, for coating the baking pan
• 2 ¼ ounce packets unflavored gelatin, powdered
• ½ cup + 1/4 cup cold water
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup light corn syrup
• 1/8 teaspoon salt (I used my kumquat and ginger infused salt)
• 1 large egg white
• 2 teaspoons Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean paste
1. Sift powdered sugar and cornstarch into a bowl, set aside
2. Coat an 8.5×11” baking pan, set aside
3. Empty gelatin packets into a mixing bowl and pour 1/4 cup water directly over it to let is soften
4. In a heavy bottom saucepan cook sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 cup of cold water and salt over low heat
5. Using a wooden spoon, stir until sugar is dissolved
6. Increase heat to medium high and boil mixture, DO NOT STIR
7. Let sit until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 10 minutes
a. If you cook it too long the sugar will begin to harden, learning the hard way my first batch produced spider webs of sugar from pan to spoon to shirt to floor to arm to hair…
8. Remove from heat and pour sugar over the gelatin mixture directly into the mixing bowl, stir until gelatin is dissolvedphoto 1 (2)
9. Gradually whip to high speed until thick and double in volume
10. In a separate bowl, beat egg white until it holds stiff peaks (see photo)Egg White - Stiff
11. Add egg white and vanilla bean paste to mixing bowl and continue to whip another 1 minute or until just combined
12. Pour mixture into baking pan
13. Sift 1/2 cup powdered sugar mixture over marshmallow
14. Allow to cool, uncovered, until firm, at least three hoursphoto 1 (5)
15. Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan
16. Dust a work surface with a thin layer of the remaining powdered sugar mixture
17. Invert onto the surface and cut into whatever sizes you desire ( This is where I actually rolled it up like a jelly roll and wrapped in plastic wrap until I used it for my dessert)
“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”

Señorita Tijerina

Next up…Flourless Chocolate Cake Brownies with Marshmallow Toppingphoto 3






Grilled truffle flatbread pizza

Inspired by the fact that I promised a recipe from the last post from my truffle class, this pizza is through and through a mushroom explosion.
I start with a truffle crust using unbleached flour and truffle flour. 93002_white_truffle_flour
Then, I make my own flatbread crust on the grill and add savory toppings to compliment the truffle crust and truffle oil.

6 flatbread

Grill Crust
Stovetop griddle or
Pizza stone in 375 degree oven or
Pizza stone over high heat grill

Crust Ingredients
1 cup warm water
1 ounce yeast (3 1/3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
15.3 ounces unbleached flour (3 ½ cups)
¼ teaspoon truffle flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Truffle infused olive oil
Truffle shavings (seasonal)
Shiitake mushrooms
Crimini mushrooms
Roasted garlic
Caramelized onion
Italian cheese blend (Quattro formaggio, asiago/romano)image

1. Place warm water, yeast and sugar into mixing bowl and let sit 4-5 minutes
2. Add flour and salt and using a dough hook, knead dough in a mixer for about 10 minutes
3. Sprinkle surface with small amount of flour and turn out dough
4. Cut dough into 6 pieces, roll in hand to form small balls and place onto sheet pan
5. Rub small amount of oil onto each ball using fingers or pastry brush
6. Cover with plastic wrap or towel and let sit for 4-5 minutes
7. Uncover dough, take each piece and roll out onto a floured surface to desired shape
8. Cook bread on stovetop griddle until brown or on a pizza stone in oven or grill
9. Top with ingredients, keeping to minimum so as not to create a soggy crust
a. Rub small amount of truffle oil on crust and top with ingredients
10. Bake in a 375 degree oven or grill 4-6 minutes or until cheese is melted and light brown

“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”
Stay tuned as I will be sharing my latest, “firsts in the kitchen”.

Señorita Tijerina

Truffle curry danced the lambada in my mouth.

Last Wednesday I attended an event at Kitchen Window ( in Uptown, Minneapolis.  The class was not about chocolate truffles, although that would have been awesome too.  It was about the mushroom truffle.  Often referred to as, “The diamond of the kitchen.”image

The class was called, “Black Truffle Celebration.” It was a celebration indeed.  Not only of the aromatic, mushroom, but I personally was reunited with old friends and colleagues. It was overwhelmingly exciting and with over $100 worth of truffle in my (very full) belly and the warm feeling from all of the caring embraces and genuine smiles, the event was “priceless”. I have the cheesiest grin on my face as I write this at a local coffee shop and another patron just caught me and gave me a, “should I smile back or is she just crazy” look.

I also heard from both of the event presenters that the event was a kick-off for Kitchen Window and Urbani Truffles as they will be partnering to make the truffle available to the general public when they are fresh and right off the plane.  Stay tuned.  You could be eating truffles and eggs for breakfast.image_4

You may have been lucky enough to have ordered a meal with shaved truffles if in season or truffle butter or oil when not and unless they are in season the amount of fresh truffle in Minnesota is going to be minimal.

They certainly didn’t pass around a small basket of fresh picked truffles for your eyes only. Yes, they have a presence, especially when in season, so don’t get me wrong.  Right now, the Black Winter and Fresh Bianchetti are in season.  From the truffles I was able to see and taste each was about the size of an ice cube, tater tot or one of those bouncy balls you can buy for a quarter.  Whichever is easiest to relate to.  Yes, I did purchase that bouncy ball out of an upright toy dispenser for a quarter.  At the Cinema Cafe.image_1

The event itself was a demonstration by Urbani Truffles ( very own Amanda Dentici whose family is, well, Italian.  She has a degree in the culinary arts and grew up in and around the restaurant business, but jumped at the chance to become an advocate and expert in all things truffle.  Urbani Truffles gets first dibs in Italy with some of the most prominent truffle farms and controls over 70% of the worlds truffle traffic.  They make oil, salt, butter, sauce, etc.  Most recently, I was able to taste a bbq, curry, chili, mustard and ketchup.  Admittedly, when I first went to taste the sauces I thought, “why on earth would you add truffle to an already potent, full flavor and bold product such as BBQ or curry?”  Um…well…as I tasted them, I also looked around to ensure I didn’t say that out loud as the flavor profile pranced around in my mouth. The curry, for example, maintained the distinct flavors it yields and is known for and then, I realized the curry was dancing with an award-winning partner and there it was, curry and truffle doing the lambada, in my mouth.

Prior to this dance were the cha cha, the salsa and waltz as I tasted truffle dishes throughout the evening being prepared by our very own Minneapolis based, Ben McCallum, Executive Chef of Three Sons Signature Cuisine ( 

He is one of my favorite local chefs, not only in food knowledge, but in style of presentation, relaxed and fun and his overall presence exudes approachability.  He often sings his ingredients while cooking in front of a class and I don’t think he knows it.image (3)The dishes we watched being prepared were a truffled white bean tapenade on molasses butter canapé, wild mushroom duxelle (sautéed mushroom dish that has been deglazed) with grilled focaccia and shaved Pecorino Romano, pan-seared chicken on tagliatelle pasta (freshly made in class) with truffle bacon cream sauce. 

The finale was a fresh batch of hand whisked black truffle sabayon.  Thank you Ben for whisking away for 30 people, yikes!image_1 (2)

My favorite was the chicken with truffle bacon cream sauce, unforgettable.  My mouth is watering. Again.

Quick Facts
1. Truffles are in the tuber family, grow like a potato, mostly around chestnut and oak trees
2. Grown mainly in Italy, but also found in France and Croatia
3. Certain types and in-season truffles can yield over $5,000 per pound
4. Types: Black Winter, Fresh Bianchetti, Fresh White, Fresh Summer and Fresh Burgundy
5. The Fresh White Truffle is the most sought after and most expensive
6. The price of a truffle is based on both availability and flavor profile
7. Truffles need to attach to a protein to enhance the flavor (milk, butter, oil, fat)
8. Synthetic versions of truffle oil are actually made with propane gas. Say what?!
9. 4oz. of Black Truffle it is about $399 USD. (Approx. 7-9) 4 oz. of Bianchetti is about $169 USD. (Approx. 10-12)
10. A person can obtain 2-3 servings from 1oz. of truffle

Follow me for some of my very own truffle recipes.
Up next…buying, cooking and eating rabbit, locally sourced.
“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”

Señorita Tijerina


A reason to get together…Leprechauns.

Okay okay, no leprechauns, but how cute would it be if Irish families had a version of “elf on the shelf”, but with a leprechaun? small_3356693001

Remember when I said my family loves to get together for any reason to eat food? St. Patrick’s Day is one of those reasons. We really only eat corned beef and cabbage around this time, unless we go out for dinner somewhere and they have “the best” Reuben. Anyone have any suggestions in the Twin Cities area? We have tried them all. My mom did make Reuben’s this past summer to support my first attempt and absolute failure to make pumpernickel rye bread. In fact, it could still be on the lawn being used as a gnome house.
I said I would deliver a new twist on an old Irish recipe and so here it is…

Señorita Tijerina

“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”

Prosciutto and Irish cheddar soda bread biscuits

Yield: Makes 12 biscuits

½ stick Kerry Gold butter
4 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour + bench flour (extra flour)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. white pepper
2 cups buttermilk (substitution: 2 cups milk 2 T. lemon, let sit for 5 minutes)
½ cup ¼” diced prosciutto
½ cup Irish cheddar (or your own preference)
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 shallot, diced
(I use the pre-diced package of onion, garlic and shallot from Trader Joe’s)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Grease muffin tin with Kerry Gold butter.
In a skillet, sauté the diced prosciutto, onion, garlic and shallot, 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool on a paper towel to allow grease to soak up.
Toss cheese in 1/2 tsp. of flour and set aside.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, white pepper and buttermilk in a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon or in an upright mixer with dough hook.
Gently fold in the sauté mix and cheese.
Place onto a lightly floured surface.
Pat the dough gently into a square shape.
Fold the dough in half several times, bringing the dough in from the outside toward the middle, all the way around. Add a pinch of flour if necessary. Pat into a larger square.  Do not knead the dough.
Cut into 12 squares and shape each into a round disk and place it into the prepared muffin pan.
With a sharp knife, make two large slashes on the top.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake until lightly brown, about another 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack before serving.image

photo credit: <a href=””>amy_b</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Bonsai! 盆栽 You should massage your kumquat.

Due to the dwarf nature of the kumquat tree (or shrub), they can be grown in a pot, pruned and often will bear fruit, adding color, depth and the element of surprise to the typical art of bonsai.Kumquat Tree

It is said, by many a kumquat guru, I don’t know any personally, but in my research those that worship the sour little morsels say that they taste best if gently rolled between the fingers, massaged, before being eaten.  It is supposed to release the “essential oils” in the citrus. I have learned to roll my lemons and limes around the counter top prior to cutting them or juicing them, never researching why, so I tried it.  I would first like to tell you that when someone says to squeeze something gently, they mean it.  I squeezed, ran to the kitchen sink and stuck my entire face under the cold running water. Yes, I had just released essential oils into my eyes. Yes, I did.  Not a proud moment, but nonetheless a learning experience.  Always have someone else massage your kumquats.

You eat kumquats as you would eat grapes (with the peel).  The person who first introduced me to the citrus failed to mention they also contain seeds the size of orange seeds.  Once I realized this, I didn’t want to chew them and I was in the middle of the produce section so spitting them out in my hand was not an option and you don’t want to swallow them.   I was told when I was young that if you swallow a watermelon seed a lttle-girl-eating-watermelon-27666650watermelon tree will grow inside of your stomach.  I don’t need to explain to my doctor how a bonsai got in there.  Come to find out that watermelons aren’t even grown on trees.  My grandfather also called the watermelon a “piss punkin.”

The seeds are good for something.  They contain pectin, which can be extracted through boiling and then used for making jelly.  I am not going to attempt the jelly this time around, but I did decide to make my own preserved kumquat and infused salt.  Citrus salts are like having a stash of firecrackers in your cupboard.  Sprinkle a little on popcorn, scrambled eggs or ice cream and it’s like lighting a pack of “black cats” in your mouth.  Minus the actual use of flame or the after smell of sulfur…that would be dangerous.

3 quick kumquat facts:  

  • Best available November-June
  • 3.5 ounces/100 grams contains approximately 71 calories
  • On your counter they stay fresh for about 4 days, in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks

Remember; always let someone else massage your kumquats.

“Whatever it is you are looking for, I hope you can eat it.”

Señorita Tijerina

Preserved Kumquat with Ginger + Infused Kosher SaltPreserved Kumquat


12 oz kumquats (340 grams)
.5 oz ginger root (20 grams), sliced, skin on
12 oz Mason jar or equivalent with airtight lid
1 cup Kosher salt


  1. Task someone to massage your kumquats
  2. Begin layering in the jar; kumquats, salt, ginger, salt, etc. until full
  3. Seal lid until tight; shake
  4. Store jar in a cool, dark place 2-3 weeks
  5. Shake once after 72 hours as the salt with begin to turn to liquid
  6. This is where you can reserve some of the salt to use as you please
  7. Open the lid every few days to release any pressure caused by fermentation
  8. Once the liquid tastes a bit tangy, place in the refrigerator and it will last up to 1 year

Try adding vanilla bean, rosemary or even peppercorns in place of ginger for a new experience.