Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Cafe

Friday, I stopped by Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Cafe on El Paseo.  I used to visit quite often at their former location, right around the corner, when they were a patisserie and boulangerie.  At their new location, recently opened, there is just so much more.

First off, it’s roomy.  At around 6,000 square feet, there’s a whole lot to love here.  It’s a friendly, sunny spot, with polished concrete floors, white walls, gleaming display cases, fresh flowers, and bright splashes of color everywhere.  Clementine celebrates the spirit and cuisine of the “Countries of the Sun”, and the Mediterranean vibe is reflected in the menu (think French, Italian, Moroccan, etc.). You can pick up items to go and enjoy them at home later, or carve out a spot to unwind in their spacious dining/lounging area, with it’s comfy bistro chairs and wide, wood-topped tables.  It’s sparkling, sleek, and European chic.

Front and center is a large, wrap-around pastry case, filled with all manner of delicacies – cookies, tarts, mini eclairs, macarons, croissants, and individual cakes.  Believe me when I say I could easily spend an hour in front of this case, agonizing at the thought of overlooking some gem of perfection.  Is there a weekly pastry limit, and if so, by how much is it okay to exceed it?  I don’t know, but I’m so not leaving here without the Wild Berry Crumble, some of those insanely good little sugar cookies topped with chocolate, and the mini eclair.  Okay, two mini eclairs.

Across from the pastry case is the deli showcase, with fresh salads, sandwiches, cheeses and house specialties.  Selections are bountiful and varied. In order to try as many as possible at once, I’d suggest ordering the Menage a Trois (oh, seriously, stop giggling), consisting of your choice of yes, three salads from the showcase.  If I had to pick just one, I’d go with the Tuscan Sun Kale Salad, a dreamy combinaton of fingerling potatoes, asparagus, pancetta, olive oil, chili and orange juice with fennel fronds and seeds.

Next is the pasta station, with an array of fresh pasta, sauce, topping options, and cured meats.  Ravioli, papparadelle, fettucini, linguine, penne – availability changes according to the day.  My husband, the salami cononoisseur, zeros in on the offerings sourced from Ollie Salumeria, and chooses the Napoli (applewood smoked) and the Toscano (with fennel pollen) to take home – these are going to make a great addition to the charcuterie platter we are having on Sunday.

In the dining area, there is a fine selection of wine, and a big refrigerated case with bubbly, prosecco, sorbet, fresh aioli and other delights from which to choose.  I’m angling for some of the Green Goddess goodness.

Throughout the expansive space, there are shelves and tables stocked with unique, worldly wares. Decorative trays, table linens, sea grass totes, candles and tea towels abound, along with more edibles.  I’m smitten by the luminous, luxurious striped Turkish foutas and the petite dipping bowls, artfully arranged in a wire basket.

Clementine also offers a slew of coffee options, italian sodas, fresh juices, lemonade, mimosas, wine by the glass or carafe, beer and champagne splits. Breakfast is served from 8AM to 11AM,  except on Sunday, when it is served all day (brilliant!).  Lunch and beyond runs from 11AM until 6PM.

Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Cafe
72990 El Paseo  Palm Desert CA  92260
Phone:  760.834.8814
Clementine website, here. 

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Malt Buttercream Frosting

I adore cupcakes, but sometimes they can be a bit…unwieldy.  Gasp!  I know, I just admitted that. Publicly.  But it’s true.

Some of the “regular-sized” cupcakes can be a bit too much of a good thing, as the standard size has seemingly expanded over time.  If the cupcake is larger than the palm of my hand, it is going to require a plate, cutlery, and possibly it’s own zip code.  Most importantly, it’s going to require a commitment.  A commitment to finish the whole thing in one sitting, because there really isn’t a graceful way to save a half-eaten cupcake for later, and it would be downright shameful to abandon it.  Who needs a forlorn cupcake on their conscience?

At the end of a good meal, sometimes all you want are just a few bites of something celebratory.  Or maybe several bites of something celebratory. Either way, these perfectly proportioned minis have got you covered.

These little cakes are fluffy and moist, with a fine crumb and subtle vanilla flavor.  In short, the perfect, tasty foundation piece – terrific with nearly any topping.  They are a snap to make (about 30 minutes from start to finish) and can handily be made in advance. Just pop a batch or two in the freezer (unfrosted) and remember to unwrap before defrosting. Then top and decorate as desired.  Here, I’ve paired them with a rich and airy chocolate malt buttercream.

So have one, or two, or six – and celebrate!

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Malt Buttercream Frosting
Makes about 30 mini cupcakes, cakes slightly adapted from CosmoCookie, here.  

Vanilla Cupcakes:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 egg whites
3/4 cup superfine sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Malt Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup malted milk powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
nonpareils, for garnish

For the cupcakes:  Line cupcake pans with paper liners and preheat oven to 350℉.  In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.  In another bowl, combine the milk and egg whites and whisk together.  Set aside.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add vanilla extract and one third of the reserved flour mixture and mix until well combined.  Continue beating, adding in half of the reserved milk and egg mixture until well combined.  Alternate adding in half of the flour mixture, the remaining milk/egg mixture, and the rest of the flour mixture again, beating until well combined after each addition.  The batter should be smooth in consistency.

Divide batter evenly among the cupcake pans, filling each liner about  three-quarters full (approximately one and a half tablespoons per liner).   Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from pans immediately and cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting:  In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter for a few minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy.  Turn off the mixer, and sift in powdered sugar, cocoa and malted milk powder.  On low speed, resume mixing until well incorporated.  Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt and heavy whipping cream, and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Chill frosting for a few minutes in the refrigerator, then pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish as desired.  Frosted cupcakes will keep in an airtight container for three to four days, refrigerated.

Mocha Ice Pops

I’ve been in a coffee sort of mood.  Iced coffee, specifically.  With a hint of chocolate. Frozen.  On a stick.

I’ve got a few different ice pop molds, and have made tons of frozen treats, but never any with coffee. This baffles me, and must be rectified.  Like, immediately.  After a little research, it looks as though David Lebovitz has my solution, in the form of his Vietnamese Coffee Popsicles. Alas, no chocolate in these, but perhaps someone else has shared my dilemma?  A little more research reveals that Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen has adapted the recipe to include cocoa – jackpot!

Since I wanted to use cold-brewed coffee (my most recent obsession), I completed that step the night before.  This recipe for cold-brewed iced coffee comes from The New York Times, and it is simply delicious.  For the ice pops, I doubled the recipe and stopped at the part after the coffee is strained twice – you will have a bit of coffee concentrate left over.

I also used a combination of heavy whipping cream and whole milk in place of the sweetened condensed milk.  You can add a bit more sugar or cocoa powder, to taste, but be careful not to add more than a spoonful or two, or the pops will not freeze solidly. Superfine sugar (also called caster or baker’s sugar) is a fine, granulated sugar, terrific for dissolving quickly in cool beverages, but you can swap it out for regular granulated sugar if you don’t have it on hand.

Finally, I dipped the tops of half the pops in chocolate vermicelli for a little extra chocolate oomph.

Icy, mocha refreshment – achieved!

Mocha Ice Pops
Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen, here.

2 cups cold-brewed coffee concentrate
3 ounces heavy whipping cream
3 ounces whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla powder
4 tablespoons superfine sugar
chocolate vermicelli, for garnish

In a large beaker or bowl with a pouring spout, mix the coffee concentrate with the heavy cream and milk.  Add in the cocoa powder, vanilla powder and sugar, stirring well to fully incorporate.  Taste and adjust as desired.

Pour into popsicle mold (makes about eight 2 1/2 ounce pops), insert sticks, and place on a level surface in the freezer.  Freeze overnight for best results.

I find it is easiest to remove the pops from the molds all at one time.  To loosen, fill a pan or sink with warm water up to the top of the mold.  Place the mold in the water for a minute or two, then slowly remove pops from the mold.  If you are garnishing the pops with the chocolate vermacelli, dip each in a light dusting and gently shake of the excess.  Place them individually in small cello or plastic bags and return to the freezer for at least 30 minutes before serving.

The pops will keep for up to two weeks in the freezer.

Green Spaghettini with Crispy Chicken Cutlets

I’m gaga over fresh basil.  It just tastes green, and light and summery all at the same time.

This recipe is not really a pesto, as it contains no nuts.  It’s not technically a pistou either, as the shallots and garlic are softened through cooking, and it is best served warm or at room temperature instead of cold.  The shallot, basil and garlic combine for a lovely, mellow flavor, enhanced by a bit of quality parmesan. The addition of the chicken cutlets transform it into a full-fledged meal as opposed to a side.

Ah, and what chicken this is!  Juicy and tender on the inside, crispy on the outside.  As it is fried in the bare minimum of olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan), it is not greasy in the least. Depending upon the size of the chicken cutlets (also called chicken tenders or breast fillets), you may have some left over.  Fret not – they make excellent chicken sandwiches!  The cooked chicken cutlets will keep in an airtight container for up to three days in the refrigerator.

Green Spaghettini with Crispy Chicken Cutlets
Serves four. 

1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets (skinless)
3/4 to 1 cup italian bread crumbs
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil, for frying

1/4 cup shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
4 ounces fresh basil leaves, blanched*
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound spaghettini or angel hair pasta

For the chicken:  In a shallow bowl, beat eggs and milk with a fork until well combined. Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skilled on medium high heat.  Dip chicken cutlets in egg mixture, then roll through breadcrumbs, making sure each cutlet is completely coated. Gentle shake off any excess coating.  Place in skillet and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook cutlets in a single layer, 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. Season alternate side with salt and pepper after turning.  Place on a plate lined with paper towels and tent with foil to keep warm.

For the spaghettini:  In a small saucepan, heat olive oil on medium.  Add shallot to the olive oil and cook until tender but not browned (if the shallot starts to brown, lower heat immediately).  Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in blanched basil.  Allow to cool slightly for two or three minutes, then place mixture in a blender or food processor and puree, scraping down the sides as necessary.  Add parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste and pulse until incorporated.  Cover and set aside.

In a separate pot, heat water and cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente.  Drain pasta without rinsing, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.  Return to pot and add reserved basil/shallot mixture, tossing well until pasta is fully coated and glossy.  If pasta appears dry, drizzle in reserved cooking liquid as necessary while tossing.  Divide evenly among plates, top with reserved chicken cutlets (2-3 per plate), sprinkle with additional parmesan and serve immediately.

* To blanch the basil leaves:  After rinsing thoroughly with cool water, tear leaves from stems.  Add leaves to a medium saucepan of boiling water, stirring gently for about 7 to 10 seconds.  With a slotted spoon, remove leaves, placing them on a clean kitchen towel. Blot well to remove excess water.

Blueberry Mojito

You’re looking for a cocktail, something cool and refreshing to kick off the official start of summer.  Two words  – blueberry mojito.  Lime, mint and blueberry mingling blissfully, steeped in ice.  I  alternately refer to it as summer in a glass.  Light and fruity, not too sweet, with a little sparkle and a shot of chill.

For a plain mojito, I’d do the muddling thing, but for this version I put the blueberries in a blender.  If you want less blueberry bits in with the juice, put them in the blender alone before you add the other ingredients.  Once they are pureed, strain them through a fine mesh sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract as much juice as possible, then return them to the blender and continue with the recipe (yes, rinsing the blender out before you do this is a really good idea).

Many cocktail recipes will call for a specific brand of alcohol, but I usually substitute one of my favorites anyway, unless it is a type I haven’t tried before (hard to believe, I know, but it has actually happened).  Here, I used 10 Cane rum.  If you want to omit the alcohol altogether, double the lime juice and adjust the sugar to taste – it will still be delicious.

Say hello to summer!


Blueberry Mojito

1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 lime, juiced
1/3 cup mint simple syrup*
3 ounces rum
8 ounces club soda
1 lime, sliced, for garnish
additional fresh blueberries, for garnish

Place 1/2 cup fresh blueberries, lime juice and mint simple syrup in a blender.  Pulse until smooth.  Fill two glasses halfway with ice, and divide blueberry mixture evenly between glasses.  Add 1 1/2 ounces of rum to each glass and stir.  Top each with 4 ounces of club soda, stirring gently once initial fizz has subsided.  Garnish each drink with 5-6 berries, either loose or threaded on a skewer, and a slice or two of lime.  Serve immediately.

*  For the mint simple syrup: In a small saucepan over medium low heat,  mix 1 cup filtered water and 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar.  Stir to combine.  Add 6-8 mint leaves. Continue stirring gently until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Scoop out the mint leaves and place in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Keeps for up to a month.

Note:  This recipe is pitcher-friendly, and is easily doubled or tripled.

Wild Green Cheeseburgers

Burgers.  Better yet, cheeseburgers.  Yes, please.

I’ll make these burgers oodles of times this summer.  Oh, I’ll plan that we are going to try out some other “new” burger, maybe one with bacon or blue cheese or something else, but it just never seems to actually happen.  I’ll get to the market and start weighing these other random potential burger options in my head and the image of this burger will float in instead, unbeckoned.  Once the image is in there, I can’t shake it.

This isn’t a bad thing, because these burgers are not merely very good – they are great. Truly.  Juicy and bursting with flavor, they never, ever disappoint.  If you like more heat, try swapping out the pepper jack cheese for habanero or jalapeno jack instead.  Spooning the sauce onto the burger itself and passing it along on the side also helps to make the spicy kick adjustable to individual taste.

Sometimes I make these into full-sized burgers (yields four), but more often into smaller sliders (yields six to eight, depending on bun size).  For a crowd, the recipe is easily doubled or tripled.  You can make the sauce and burger patties up to a day in advance and simply refrigerate until ready to use.  If you don’t have avocado oil on hand, corn or olive oil make fine substitutes.

I’ve personally never turned down a nice, cold beer to go with nearly anything cooked on the barbecue, but these particular burgers make an exceptional pairing with a light and icy vinho verde.

So, get grilling – cheeseburgers are waiting.  Go wild!

Wild Green Cheeseburgers

3 large jalapenos, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Burger patties:
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 cup plus 2-3 tablespoon pepper jack cheese, shredded
3-4 tablespoons fresh, chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Buns and toppings:
brioche buns, sliced in half
avocado oil, for brushing
sour cream
1 head butter lettuce, rinsed and sectioned into leaves
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1-2 large Hass avocados, sliced

For the sauce:  In a blender, combine all ingredients for sauce, excepting the salt and pepper.  Puree until smooth, season to taste with salt and pepper, and pulse to mix. Scrape into a lidded container and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the burger patties:  Place the ground sirloin in a large bowl and add in the remaining ingredients for the patties, knead until incorporated.  Shape into large burger-sized or slider-size patties to fit buns, roughly 3/4 to an inch in thickness.  Set aside on a plate or platter lined with parchment or plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until 15 minutes prior to grilling.

When ready to cook, place the burger patties on a medium hot grill for about 10 to 12 minutes, turning two to three times during the grilling process.  While the burgers are cooking, lightly brush the brioche buns with a bit of avocado oil to prevent sticking.  When the burgers are cooked through, move to the side of the grill or place on a platter and tent with foil.  Add the buns to the grill, cut side down, and cook until lightly toasted and golden brown.

To assemble:  Set the cheeseburger patties on the bottom half of the bun, spooning the sauce over the top of the burger.  Add tomato,lettuce and avocado slices.  Spread the cut side of the top half bun with a thin layer of sour cream and place on top of the burger pile. Serve immediately, passing extra sauce on the side.