Author Archives: Maite Gomez-Rejón

Baby Avocados with Orange and Olives

Baby Avocados with Orange and Olives

Between 1934 and 1935 Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas spent 7 months traveling through the United States. In Toklas’s “Food in the United States” chapter she refers to the trip as, “an experience and adventure, which nothing that might follow would ever equal.”

Of California she wrote, “California was unequalled. Sun and a fertile soil breed generosity and gentleness, amiability and appreciation. It was abundantly satisfying. In Pasadena amongst olive and orange groves we saw our first avocado trees and their fruit offered for salt stacked in great pyramids, almost as common as tomatoes would be later in the season.”

2 oranges
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup parsley, minced
1 tablespoon thyme
3 tablespoons chopped olives
salt and white pepper
6 to 8 baby Hass avocados
3 tablespoons olive oil

Zest the oranges into a small bowl, making sure to stop when you start to see the white pith.

Supreme the oranges. Cut off each end of the orange and set upright on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice off the pith, following the contours of the fruit, moving from top to bottom, cutting as little of the flesh away as possible. Repeat with the other orange.

Roughly chop the orange flesh and add it to the bowl with the zest. Add the garlic, parsley, thyme, and olives and season generously with salt and white pepper. Toss to combine.

Halve the avocados lengthwise, remove the pits, and fill each cavity with about 1 tablespoons of orange mixture. Arrange them on a platter, drizzle generously with olive oil, and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Chickpea Flatbread with Olives

Chickpea Flatbread with Olives

In his 1474 Renaissance cookbook, On Right Pleasure and Good Health, Platina describes the variety of olives and their different culinary applications. On olives – there are several kinds of olives: the preserving kind, the long olive, the oblong olive, which is best preserved of all olives, as Varro says, the Salentine, and the Spanish. They are eaten with fish and roasted meats so as either to dispel squeamishness or induce appetite.

On the chick-pea: The chick-pea is salty, and therefore it burns the soil and ought not to be sown unless it has been soaked the day before.

1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup chopped green olives
3 tablespoons chopped rosemary
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Set an oven rack 6-inches below your oven’s broiler.

In a large bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, salt, and pepper. Slowly pour in the water, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Whisk in olive oil. Let sit for 30 minutes.

When the batter is finished resting, place a large skillet in the top rack of the oven for about 5 minutes.

Remove the skillets from the oven using oven mitts. Add 1 teaspoon or so of olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Pour in the batter, making sure it coats the entire surface of the pan.

Top with the olives, rosemary and cheese and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, the edges should begin to brown.

Cut into thin slices and serve drizzled with olive oil.

Serves 6

Hazelnut Cake

Hazelnut Cake

Platina, in his 1474 Renaissance cookbook, On Right Pleasure and Good Health, writes on sugar – Sugar comes not only from Arabia and India but also from Crete and Sicily. Pliny calls it the honey collected from cane. The whiter it is, the better. It is good for the stomach and soothes whatever discomforts there are. By melting it, we make hazelnuts and many other things into sweets.

¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup ground hazelnuts
1 stick butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Butter and flour an 8×2 ½-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and ground hazelnuts together until well combined. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and egg yolk one at a time, fully incorporating each into the mixture and stopping to scrape down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.

Slowly add the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly with a spatula.

Bake for about 28 to 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let the cake rest for about 10 minutes before unmolding. Remove the parchment and cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with fresh blackberries or raspberries.

Serves 8 to 10

Mincemeat Pie

mincemeat pie

Mincemeat Pie

To end the year on a sweet note, this recipe was made in my last class of 2017, A Dickens Christmas at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Arts.

A sweet pie of British origin, mincemeat consists of of mixed dried fruits and spices traditionally served during the Christmas season. Its ingredients can be traced to the 13th century, when returning crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices. In Georgian times the meat was dropped. Mincemeat pie was loved by Charles Dickens.

Mincemeat filling:
2 apples, peeled, cored, chopped2 apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 cup apple cider
⅔ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
½ cup dried cherries
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup dried currants
½ cup dried figs, chopped
zest of one orange
½ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup raisins
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon round nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup rum

Simmer apples, apple cider, brown sugar, apricots, dried cherries, cranberries, currants, figs, orange zest, orange juice, golden raisins, raisins, schmaltz, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and rum in a medium pot over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid is evaporated, 30–25 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill to let flavors develop. (Filling can be made 3 months ahead; freeze in an airtight container.)

Use as a filling in your favorite pie crust or make individual tartlets like the ones shown above!

Makes enough for 2 9-inch pies
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit