How Much Do You Love Sriracha?

In my work, I am sometimes asked to eat lots and lots of food. This past Sunday, it was Sriracha, Sriracha and more Sriracha. For good, bad and spicy, I drank Sriracha sodas, and ate spicy red sauce mixed in with apples in a crumble pie, had a subtle Sriracha caramel sauce over ice cream, slurped bacon Sriracha ramen, and much more.

As a professional, I had to drink and eat something from each and every booth at the Second Annual Sriracha Festival. You can see my eating adventure and coverage for the LA Times Daily Dish here.

Here are some pictures that didn’t make it to the LA Times blog. I ended up taking way more pictures than ended up being published, as usual.

eggslut_ramenAn alternate view of EggSlut’s spicy pork bacon ramen

deviledeggsMei Lin’s deviled eggs topped with chicken skin crumbles and a Sriracha caramel

jitlada_plateJitlada’s Thai spicy was so spicy, that my mouth was on fire, and I was sweating for a little while afterwards.

jitlada_saucesChef Tui’s sauces were so spicy, that they had to warn you that they were very spicy twice. But, oh the flavor!

Komodo_chimichurriKomodo’s chimichurri meat was grilled right there over open flames ans served with caramelized onions and chopped cilantro.

sqirl_saladSqirl’s crispy rice salad had a satisfying crunch with plenty of crisp vegetables.

mendocino_farmsI even won a 2-for-1 meal at Mendocino Farms

mf_chimichurrisandwichesThey served generous portions of their chimichurri sandwich and their Sriracha red potato salad.

pumpkin_pureeThe Mud Hen Tavern in my neighborhood served up a pumpkin puree salad with a yogurt sauce and a green Sriracha sauce with a lot of lemongrass flavor.
willyb_porkbellyWill B’s crispy pork belly had a satisfying crunch and a different level of spice from their hot sauce.

mcconnellsSmall bites of McConnell’s ice cream topped with a Sriracha caramel sauce was the perfect thing to end the festival and my Sriracha eating adventure.

When You Have Too Many Grapes

The pleasure and danger of being a food writer is that friends call you when they have too much food. This weekend, my friends Ron and Carla said they were cutting their grape arbor. Would I like some grapes? Of course, I said YES!

When I got there, there were nearly 4 large bins full. I took one, but then, they convinced me to take two. This is what they looked like even after my mom took 4 large bags of grapes.

giant bins of grapes!

giant bins of grapes!

I didn’t know what a ridiculous undertaking it would be. It took me two whole days to clean, wash, de-stem and process the grapes.

washed and de-stemmed

washed and de-stemmed

Here is a giant bowl of ripe grapes that my husband washed and de-stemmed for me.

beautifully ripe grapes

beautifully ripe grapes

I put them in a couple of my LeCreuset pots to boil down to make jelly. I ended up doing 4 batches!

ready in the pot

ready in the pot

They boiled down into this plum-colored grape juice. Then, I strained out all the seeds and skins. Put it back in the pot and added sugar to taste. I like my jelly not too sweet, and I’m very bad at following directions.

bubbling over

bubbling over

I ended up using one 4.7-ounce container of Ball brand pectin per pot. I might have been able to use less, but I was worried that the jelly wouldn’t set.

jars and jars

jars and jars

It was like a factory in our house! And the house smelled delicious for days. I ended up putting up over 50 half-pint jars! And over 6 giant bottles of juice. Our juicer was on its last legs, and juicing all those grapes was the final nail in the juicer’s coffin.

over 50 jars canned and sealed!

over 50 jars canned and sealed!

The jelly came out a gorgeous plum color with just a bit of tartness. Whew!

beautiful colors

beautiful colors

 

Caramelized Rosemary Fig Tart

This was the first year that my fig tree produced pounds and pounds of tarts. I had to find creative ways to use them and gave away giant basketfuls to friends and family. I made a little tart with a pate sucree crust, which is crisp like a buttery shortbread.

This recipe makes 2 crusts. Freeze one for later. It’s perfect for all those ripe summer peaches at the farmer’s market. Be sure to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or let sit until pliable. The dough is incredibly forgiving, so don’t fret if it tears when you roll it out.

fresh brown turkey figs from my garden

fresh brown turkey figs from my garden

For the crust, cream together 1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature and 1/3 cup sugar. Add 2-3/4 cups flour and mix until fully incorporated. Add the egg yolks and cream and continue to mix on low speed until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours (or up to 4 days). Divide into 2 and shape into 2 flat disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours (or up to 4 days).

Grease and flour your tart pan. Or use a convenient baking spray (that has flour in it). I used an 11-inch round tart pan, but any tart pan will do.

2spray_pan

spray your tart pan with baking spray

Flour your work surface, dough and rolling pin well so the dough doesn’t stick. Roll out dough, starting in middle and rolling outward, to a 1/4″ thick round or rectangle, depending on your pan.

Lift over the rolling pin and place in tart pan. Press dough into sides, corners and bottom. Patch holes or tears by pressing dough with fingers. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes until golden. Let cool before filling.

3dough

flour your work surface generously

Stem about 12 to 25 ripe figs (depending on the size of the figs and your pan). I had tiny figs, so I had to use many of them. Cut one fig into quarters, and cut the others in half. Place cut figs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with a generous amount of brown sugar and chopped rosemary. Broil on high just until sugar has caramelized, checking to not burn, about 5-6 minutes.

4figs_sprinkled

sprinkle the figs with a generous amount of brown sugar and some chopped fresh rosemary

With a hand mixer, whip together two 8-ounce packages of marscapone and/or cream cheeses, vanilla, 1/8 cup honey, 1/3 cup sugar and lemon zest until creamy, scraping down sides as needed. Beat until smooth.

5creamcheese

I added zest from my Meyer lemon, but any lemon will do.

Spread the cream cheese filling on the cooled tart shell.

6spreadcrust

Spread on the cooled pastry shell

It doesn’t have to be perfect, because the figs will make it look pretty.

7allspread

You can use a butter knife or a silicon spatula. Whatever works for you.

Fill cooled tart shell and top with figs. Place the quartered fig in the middle, and arrange the other figs around it. Refrigerate before serving. I like to make it in the morning before a dinner party.

8figtart

It’s a pretty looking dessert!

It serves about 8 to 12 people.

9figtart

The rosemary adds a nice fragrance.

Here’s the full recipe:

Caramelized Rosemary Fig Tart

Pate Sucree Crust (makes 2 crusts):
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
2-3/4 cups flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temp
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling:
12 to 25 ripe figs, de-stemmed
About 3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 rosemary spring, chopped
two 8-ounces packages marscapone and/or cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 cups honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 1 lemon

For the crust: Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, stopping on occasion to scrape down the bowl as needed (about 3 minutes if using an electric mixer). Add the flour and salt and mix until fully incorporated (about one minute). Add the egg yolks and heavy cream and continue to mix until the dough comes together (about 30 seconds on low speed). Divide into 2 and shape into 2 flat disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 4 days).

Spray your tart pan with a baking spray or grease and flour your pan. I used an 11-inch round tart pan, but any tart pan will do. Flour your work surface, dough and rolling pin well so the dough doesn’t stick. Roll out dough, starting in middle and rolling outward, to a 1/4″ thick round or rectangle, depending on your pan.

Lift over the rolling pin and place in tart pan. Press dough into sides, corners and bottom. Patch holes or tears by pressing dough with fingers. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes until golden. Let cool before filling.

Cut one fig into quarters, and cut the others in half. Place cut figs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with a generous amount of brown sugar and the chopped rosemary. Broil just until sugar has caramelized, checking to not burn, about 5 to 6 minutes.

With a hand mixer, whip cheeses, vanilla, honey, sugar and lemon zest until creamy, scraping down sides. Beat until smooth. Fill cooled tart shell and top with figs. Place the quartered fig in the middle, and arrange the other figs around it. Refrigerate before serving. Makes one tart, enough for 8 to 12 people.

Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee is an author of several books on food and travel, a producer, a photographer, an art director, and a conceptual artist. A James Beard Award-nominee, she writes and photographs for the LA Times Daily Dish. Her work has been seen in such places as the Google, Frommers, KLM Airlines, ABC Television, MGM Studios, the Washington Post, Food and Wine, Eating Well, and a variety of other venues.

She is available for your writing, photographing, producing or editing needs.