Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Summer Fruit Spelt Cake

When your farmers' market haul is on the brink of too-ripe...its time to make a cake wholesome enough that you can eat it for breakfast with plain yogurt, or dress it up with lightly sweetened whipped cream for a late summer dessert.

1/2 cup (6 ounces or 170 grams) melted butter, plus additional for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces or 190 grams) spelt flour
2 teaspoons (9 grams) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
Pinch of allspice or cinnamon (optional)
1 cup (7 ounces or 200 grams) sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup whole milk yogurt
1 1/2 pounds peaches/nectarines/plums/strawberries/etc
Cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Prepare you pan: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch round springform pan parchment paper and butter the paper and rest of the pan generously

Make the cake: Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and allspice in medium bowl to blend. In a large bowl, whisk together butter (set aside remaining 1/4 cup for topping), sugar and then eggs, one at a time. Stir in yogurt. Stir dry ingredients into this wet mixture; mix until just combined and spread batter in prepared pan. Toss nectarine wedges with lemon juice and arrange them in a single layer on top of the batter.

Bake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing from pan. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Zojirushi Whole Wheat Flax & Oat Bread

Sometimes you run out of bread three days before a scheduled trip to the grocery store. Your two year old is standing at your feet saying "Toast. Toast. Toast," while the dulcet tones of Dwayne Johnson sing "You're Welcome" in the background for the umpteenth time this morning m. So what do you do? Throw that toddler atop a step-stool, let him help dump ingredients into the bread machine and tell him he can have toast after his nap. And yes, we can listen to Moana again then, too. You can't win 'em all, but you can definitely have bread.

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 1/2 cups  Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

To make bread in the bread machine: Put all of the ingredients into the bread pan in the order listed. Program for basic white bread (or for whole wheat bread, if your machine has a whole wheat setting), and press Start. Keep in the machine until it stops flashing "keep warm" so that it does not deflate. Then remove, put in some ear plugs, and enjoy.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Dirt Cake

Six years and two kids later I'm back with the perfect cake for a two year old's birthday party.

Malted Milk Dirt
3/4 cup (60 g.) milk powder, divided
1/4 cup (40 g.) flour
2 tablespoons  (12 g.) cornstarch
2 tablespoons (25 g.) sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped, divided
3/4 cup (60 g.) malt-flavored Ovaltine

Fudge Sauce
1 ounce bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons Maple syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream

Chocolate Cake
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 g.) sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. refined coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup Fudge Sauce
1 1/4 cups (155 g.) cake flour
1/2 cup (70 g.) unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 ounces (55 grams) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) powdered sugar (sifted if lumpy)
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of fine sea salt (optional)
1 tablespoons cream or whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the fudge sauce:
Place the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder and salt in the bowl of your mixer. Over high heat, bring the maple syrup, sugar and heavy cream to a boil, stirring occasionally. Immediately pour over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.

Using the whisk attachment, whisk on low speed till ingredients are combined. Increase speed to medium and whisk till sauce is glossy and smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you have any leftover that is...you probably won't.

Clean and dry the mixer bowl and whisk attachment.

Make the chocolate cake:
Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray two round 9in cake pans with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper and set aside. I also have two tiny 3 in cake pans that I used to make the mound of dirt, but the batter could have easily just filled the two normal pans.

In the bowl of your mixer, combine butter and sugar. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high  for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides, add the eggs and beat on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides.

On low speed, add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Add the fudge sauce and mix on low speed till fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides.

Add cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Beat on low speed for about a minute, scrape down the sides and beat again for just another minute.

Pour the batter into your prepared pans and spread evenly, using a small angled spatula.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or till cake bounces back when lightly pressed and is no longer jiggly in the center.

Cool cake in pans on a wire rack. Remove from pan and use immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge for up to 5 days.

Clean and dry the mixer bowl and whisk attachment.

Make the malted milk dirt:
Pre-heat oven to 250. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup (40 g.) of the milk powder, flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium blow. Toss to mix. Add the melted butter and toss till the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.

Spread clusters on your prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely.

Crumble any clusters that are larger than 1/2″ in diameter and place in a medium bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 cup (20 g.) milk powder and toss till it is evenly distributed.

Melt 3 ounces of the white chocolate in a bowl set over barely simmering water. Pour over the crumbs and toss till the clusters are completely coated. Continue tossing every 5 minutes, until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky.

Add the Ovaltine and toss till evenly coated. Melt the remaining 3 ounces white chocolate and pour over crumbs, tossing till clusters are completely coated. Continue tossing every 5 minutes, until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.

Make the frosting: Place frosting ingredients in a food processor and run machine to to mix. Scrape down bowl then process just until smooth and somewhat fluffed. [Don’t have a food processor? Beat butter, powdered sugar and salt, if using, in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Pour in chocolate, milk and vanilla, beat until combined, then one more minute to whip it further.]
Assemble the cake:

Turn first layer out onto your cake stand, top with half of the fudge and then a layer of frosting  then sprinkle a couple tablespoons of the dirt before topping with the second layer. More fudge, more frosting, finishing the sides. Then create your dirt heap and decorate with your favorite trucks. Your two year old will thank you.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Meyer Lemon Tart

If you've never had a Meyer lemon...I'm sorry. I was lucky enough to grow up with a tree in my backyard and it took several years before I realized not all lemons were as sweet and perfumey as these. If you love lemon desserts, I suggest doubling the curd.

Meyer Lemon Tart

For the crust
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or cashews, pecans...whatever nut you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 
Blend oats, nuts, salt, flour together in a food processor. Meanwhile in a heavy saucepan melt the butter over low heat until it becomes just browned. (beurre noisette) Remove from heat and stir in honey while still hot. Pour hot butter mixture into heatproof bowl, add vanilla. Dump flour mixture into the hot butter-honey and stir until just combined in a big wet clump. Grease a 9" tart pan with a little butter and drop the dough into the center of the pan, pressing it down evenly. Prick 10 times or so with a fork and bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes until just golden and fragrant.

For the curd
    • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
    • grated zest of one Meyer lemon
    • 1/2 granulated sugar
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into bits
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 egg yolks

    Whisk together eggs and yolks in a small bowl and set aside. Melt sugar, butter, lemon juice, zest in heavy saucepan over low heat until butter is melted. Whisk a little of the warm mixture into the eggs to warm them, then dump the eggs into the saucepan and heat over low heat stirring constantly until it begins to bubble around the edges and thicken. Pour through mesh strainer directly into the pre-baked crust. Bake for 5 minutes at 350F until the curd sets. Decorate with raspberries, et voila!

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Mulligatawny Soup

    We've been on a real soup kick lately. And it hasn't even been cold. In fact, I'm sure it hit the triple digits outside at least once while we ladled soup into bowls. But I'd like to think we can will a little more winter weather by cooking up a pot of spicy and delicious Mulligatawny soup. Some of us native Californians actually do like a little cold now and then.

    Typically I make a very basic chicken and rice soup. It's completely satisfying, easy to throw together and I'm sure I'll get around to posting the recipe one of these days. But having recently undertaken a systematic re-watching of all nine seasons of Seinfeld, the amazing Soup Nazi episode was fresh in my mind. It's a classic for a reason.

    Jerry: You will be stunned.
    Elaine: Stunned by soup?
    Jerry:  You can't eat this soup standing up. Your knees buckle.

    While Jerry pines for the crab bisque, Elaine gets the Mulligatawny on Kramer's recommendation and her knees do, in fact, buckle. Being a fan of most Indian flavor profiles, I adapted this recipe for Mulligatawny soup based on what I happened to have on hand. If you have the time to make your own stock, obviously this is superior. It doesn't take much in the way of skill and will ultimately taste better. But I'm a working woman with limited time on Sunday evenings and I stand by this method 100%.

    While I don't normally eat soup standing up, after tasting this I really doubt it would have been possible. Consider me stunned.

    Mulligatawny Soup
    • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 small yellow onions, diced
    • 2 red jalapenos, diced
    • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
    • 32 oz low sodium chicken stock
    • 1 teaspoon powdered turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground brown mustard seeds
    •  1/4 teaspoon ground chile powder
    •  2 lemons, juiced, about 1/4 cup
    •  2 teaspoons salt

    Salt chicken breasts liberally, cover with cold water, bring to a boil. cook 20-30 minutes until cooked through. Shred chicken and set aside.

    Sauté onions and jalapenos with olive oil in heavy bottomed pot until onions start to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and carrots and sauté another 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and spices, simmer until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. Return chicken to pot, add lemon juice and salt. Serve in bowls with short-grain brown rice and a dollop of nonfat greek yogurt.

    Saturday, April 30, 2011

    Onion & Cheese Bread

    I knew as soon as I saw something called "Onion and Swiss Rye Bread" on this month's Kitchen Play menu I would have no choice but to participate in this amazing contest brought to us by the National Onion Association. What really appealed to me about this recipe, is it seemed like I could recreate it using things I always have in the house. Onions, some kind of Swiss cheese, whole wheat flour, yeast. All I have to do is make sure I get a few extra onions to caramelize. Easy, right?

    Yeah, well. Not so fast. Turns out, for a household of only two people, we go through about a pound of onions every day. I am not exaggerating when I say that I actually went out and bought "extra onions" on four separate occasions, each time thinking, "now these are for the bread." But then I wanted to make guacamole. And roast a chicken. Cook an omelet. Whisk up a little salad dressing. Turns out everything we eat in this family begins with onions. The lesson here? Buy in bulk and buy often. This bread is worth it.

    Onion & Cheese Bread (adapted from Cookistry)
    • 1 cup warm water
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 3 cups whole wheat flour
    • 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
    • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
    • 1/2 cup caramelized onions
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • Olive oil

    In a large bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir to combine and let proof for about 5 minutes.

    Add flour, gluten, cheese, and onions. Work with wooden spoon until the dough is elastic. It should come together fairly quickly, though the dough will be quite wet and sticky. Incorporate salt and butter.

    Form dough into a ball, drizzle olive oil in your bowl and rotate the dough a few times until fully coated with oil. Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Flour your work surface and knead the dough just enough to get it formed into a ball. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and evenly press the dough into the pan. Let rise again for about 30 minutes.

    Bake at 350 degrees until the top is golden, about 40 minutes. Cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then let cool on rack completely.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Blackberry Crumble Pie

    In my second year of boarding school, on the coldest day of the coldest spring Northern Michigan had to offer, I sat on the floor of my dorm room eating a mediocre cherry pie with my bare hands. No, I was not a burgeoning competitive eater. Nor was this part of a misty-eyed break-up montage. I was suffering from a severe lack of pie, and the summery warmth it provides.

    Let's face it, pie is the best dessert. It's simply the most delicious taste in the whole world. I eat it on my birthday instead of cake. And at my wedding, well, let's just say I hope the structural integrity of the crumble is somehow better than its name suggests.

    And, yes, I know I'd be a better person if everything I ate was locally sourced and seasonally appropriate. My life could be a satisfying series of soft-focus sepia-toned facebook albums. In the winter, I'd make swiss chard soup in vintage crockery. In the spring, I'd roast asparagus with homegrown herbs. And in the summer, there'd be self-brewed beer and handspun picnic blankets. But, folks, blackberries are available only a couple months a year. And without them, there is no blackberry pie. And without that, there really isn't much reason to do anything at all.

    So before you ride off on your European bike to the artisanal cheese shop, allow me to make a case for frozen berries in April.

    Though they're far from being the ideal berry, glowing in little baskets at your weekend farmer's market, the frozen ones are really the next best thing. Think about it this way, frozen berries were plucked from the vine in their succulent prime and quickly preserved to provide you with year round tastiness. So, grab your re-usable grocery bag, head to Whole Foods, buy yourself the biggest bag of organic blackberries imaginable, and pat yourself on the back. Job well done. You don't have to feel bad about the impact to the environment or your gylcemic index. Utilizing oats, agave, and whole wheat flour, this probably comes out to just 180 calories/serving. Unless your serving is the size of a pie pan. In that case, be civilized. Use a fork.

    Blackberry Crumble Pie

    For the topping:
    • 1 cup oats
    • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 1/4 cup (half stick) butter, melted
    For the filling:
    • 4 cups frozen blackberries
    • 1/4 cup agave syrup
    • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
    • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
    • 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour

    Heat oven to 350. Toss fruit with agave, flour, cornstarch, and lemon juice and zest. When fruit is coated, pour into ungreased pie dish.

    Combine oats, flour, sugar, and baking powder in medium bowl. Pour in egg and mix until combined. Topping will be somewhat dry and crumbly.

    Sprinkle topping evenly over berries, then drizzle with melted butter. Bake about 40 minutes, or until topping is toasted and fruit is bubbling and tender.

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    Banana Bread

    Some people have it in their minds that banana bread is some kind of dumping ground for unused, overripe bananas, like the threat of wasted produce is what drives them to get in the kitchen and bake.

    "I just don't know what I'll do with all these leftover bananas, guess I have to make bread."

    And while my struggle for dominance in the produce aisle is far from over, I, like anyone else with an oversize sweet tooth, have learned something important.

    Bananas are not the boss of me.

    You see, I no longer let my rotting fruit strong-arm me into anything. I have taken a stand. When I go to the grocery store I assertively buy bananas for one reason and one reason alone. And that is banana freaking bread.

    Even if that means slapping a half-eaten banana from a loved one's hand and screaming, "I need those!", I remain vigilant and ready to defend. Sorry, Nathan.

    Bottom line, banana bread is not happenstance, it is a treat. A delicious, creamy, on-purpose treat that should be honored as such. That said, there's no need to get gluttonous about it. Have your sweets and mind your waistline, folks. This here's the healthiest and most decadent banana bread you'll ever taste. So don't worry if you eat half a loaf. Like we did immediately after this picture was taken.

    Banana Bread
    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 4 large, overripe bananas, mashed well
    • 1/2 cup agave syrup
    • 1/4 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
    • 1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wipe a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with olive oil and dust with flour.

    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, almonds, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

    In a medium bowl, combine the mashed bananas, agave syrup, yogurt, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until just combined. Don't mind the lumps, those are tasty!

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake about 60 minutes, but check it with a toothpick at 45. When the toothpick comes out clean, take it out of the oven. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

    Now, I like a slice of piping hot banana bread as much as the next girl but trust me when I say, once this baby is cool, put it in a ziplock bag and leave it alone overnight. In the morning, the sweetness of the bananas will have intensified and it will be about one million times better.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    Mexican Roast Beef Tacos

    Aside from having my mother, my grandparents didn't do a whole lot of things right. They illegally immigrated from Durango, Mexico sometime in the forties; and, I assume in the process of trying to survive, deal, and acclimate, quickly developed some horrible habits in the barrios of Los Angeles, California.

    My grandpa was a towering man with giant forearms and the visage of a wooden Indian. He worked at a gas station and loved baseball but he really wasn't any good at either. I mostly remember him getting fired and never wanting to play catch with me. Really, it seemed like his true talents lied primarily in drinking and falling asleep in places that were not a bed or his house.

    So every morning my grandma would half-mindedly call around looking for him. Somehow while dragging me around the kitchen on a blanket and re-frying the leftover roast beef, she managed to check with each one of his friends. And usually, by the time I was finishing the last bits of my breakfast, my grandpa would wander in, reeking of cheap beer and gas.

    My grandparents would yell at each other in Spanish for a few minutes. Call each other drunks. And then mull about in silence, giving each other crusty looks until dinner time.

    Clearly, my grandma was a woman of fortitude and resilience. But, as her purpose and identity in life was consumed with chasing after her borracho, I feel like her culinary genius went largely unrecognized and under-appreciated. Sure, she cooked with lard. And maybe she went a little heavy on the salt. So, while I'm not interested in that kind of dietary abuse, I am interested in honoring that incredible roast beef. And thankfully, Gilly and I figured out a delicious way to recapture it with just as much flavor and a lot less of the slow, impending death.

    Now, if only I could trick someone into dragging me around on a blanket.

    Mexican Roast Beef Tacos
    • 4-5 pound chuck roast
    • sea salt & black pepper
    • olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
    • 1 large onion, sliced
    • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
    • 2 cups beef broth
    • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
    • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
    • 3 bay leaves
    • corn tortillas
    • Guacamole

    Season all sides of the beef with a good amount of salt and pepper. Don't be shy, you want the outside to be well coated. In a large Dutch oven, or other heavy pot with a tight cover, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the beef to the pot and sear it on all sides, taking the time to build a nice golden crust all the way around. Add the onion and garlic and allow to soften and brown slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, plus 1 tomato can of water, beef broth, and spices, adding more salt and pepper to taste. Add just enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer with a lid for 3 hours until the meat is fork tender. Let the meat cool in the liquid. Shred meat and set aside.

    When you’ve made your guacamole and arranged your taco fixings, reheat the shredded beef in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. This makes the meat slightly crispy on the outside and still juicy and delicious on the inside.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Green Spaghetti

    I have two little sisters. One is in a junior in college, and one is in preschool. They both live in Colorado, they both have blonde hair, and they both gave their families a hard time when dinner was something other than macaroni and cheese. While my college-age sister has moved on to more interesting culinary exploits, we can all thank her childhood stubbornness for forcing our mother to invent green spaghetti. It's a pasta sauce made of bright, just-wilted spinach, Parmesan cheese, and garlic. Topped with say, a sliced chicken breast and some halved cherry tomatoes, this is a great weeknight meal and a healthy substitute to your favorite cheesy pasta.

    Green Spaghetti
    • 6 cups baby spinach, washed and damp
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
    • splash milk
    • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 pound whole wheat pasta of your choice

    Cook pasta in boiling salted water until very al dente. While your pasta is cooking, put garlic, spinach and butter in large skillet and cook over medium heat until just wilted. Toss into your food processor (I use an immersion blender) with Parmesan and nutmeg. Add a conservative splash of milk and blend until smooth and creamy (If your ratio is off, you can add more milk to thin and cheese to thicken). Salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over hot pasta, sprinkle with Parmesan, top with tomatoes/chicken/addition of your choice and have at it.