Sunday, December 15, 2013

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

For the first time in my short 25 years, I did not put up Christmas lights. Our little Norfolk pine is as naked as the day it first sprouted. There are no garland-laced IKEA bookshelves nor a scrap of lurking mistletoe. Scandinavian Christmas items at least accent our kitchen table as “A’s” mother helped boost sagging spirits. Very few Christmas-themed blog posts start out on a dour note, but this is my blog and it’s within my rights to ramble about my feelings, dammit! If we’re going to really get to talking about feelings, I’m not sure how I feel about Christmas this year. Yes, I’m excited, but not for the actual act of Christmas. I’m excited to see my family for one full, rare week. Presents? Eh. Giving them is what gets me going but all I “want” to receive are a few nice necessities that I can’t afford to buy all at once. 

But feeling this way about Christmas fills me with guilt. I’m usually forcing Christmas music and movies down “A’s” throat; but this year even I have to find a small stash of motivation just to press play. To put the nonexistent star atop the pine-like tree, there is apparently a national goat butter shortage. Not only have I stalked every grocery store in Madison, I've called every local goat farm to see if butter is something they do (obviously, it's not). I’ve had time to deal with the tragedy over the past month, but as butter is the main ingredient in cookies 99.9% of the time, I cant even make my usual mountain of treats! Maybe that’s at the root of my bah humbug?

Who knows. But I do know I need to get into the Christmas spirt, and about five minutes ago. To find the spirit of Christmas past, I had to go basic. Feelings of warmth, love and chocolate. With a seasonal flavor thrown in for good measure.

Santa Claus wrote me a prescription and it’s for homemade peppermint marshmallows, folks! I can feel the Christmas creeping back in to my grinch sized heart and dreams of marshmallow faeries filling my head. Doggonit! This did the trick - I’m CURED! Watch out though, to keep my spirits high, I may have the plow through some of these darlings daily from now until next Wednesday!  

Peppermint Marshmallows
Adapted from Arts and Tarts

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ to 1 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • Oil (grapeseed or canola preferred) 
  • Food coloring

  1. Pour ½ cup of the water into the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment and sprinkle gelatin over the surface; set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan combine the remaining ½ cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Over medium high heat and with a candy thermometer attached to the side of the pan, cook the mixture until it reaches 240 degrees F. Immediately remove the pan from the heat once temperature is reached.
  3. Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once all the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the peppermint extract during the last minute of whipping, starting with the smaller amount and increasing according to taste and desired strength.
  4. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans:
  5. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Using a paper towel, spread the oil on the pans until it is well coated. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use (I had to mix up a bit more as my marshmallows were on the stickier side).
  6. Pour the lukewarm mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan.  Drop about 6 drops of food coloring around the surface of the marshmallows and use a toothpick or knife to swirl the red into the marshmallows. Dust the top with remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for about 24 hours. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and use oiled scissors to cut into desired shapes. Once cut, dredge the marshmallows with the remaining powdered sugar/corn starch mixture. Shake the marshmallows in a fine mesh sieve to remove excess clumps.
  7. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Gratin

I’ve mentioned before that "A" and I signed up for a summer CSA with Equinox Community Farms… but I haven’t mentioned that we signed up for an additional three winter share boxes. While I loved all the summer splendor of the fresh fruits and veggies, I might like the feeling of being inundated with potatoes, onions and carrots a bit more. Not familiar with the feeling? Imagine once every three weeks picking up two boxes that have no less than 10 pounds of potatoes, 10 pounds of sweet potatoes and enough carrots and onions to bring the total weight up to a metric ton.

It might be redundant to say, but that’s a lot of storage vegetables. Unfortunately we live in a “studio plus” (or “one bedroom minus”) apartment that, while lovely and fits our needs perfectly, isn’t known for having a lot of extra storage. So where do all these vegetables settle away for their long winter nap? Our average-sized, run-of-the-mill fridge. With every new box, there is a slight panic to eat everything in sight. Not because of my intense love of potatoes and carbs, which is very real, but because food gets very lost, only resurfacing after a grueling excavation mission.

So “A” and I creatively think of new ways to eat potatoes. Our lives have been enriched by many stews, soups, gnocchi’s, hash browns and breakfast dishes. The breakfast dish of this post was discovered on Spoon Fork Bacon - one of my favorite food blogs in my queue. Not only are their photos stunning, but I feel like almost all of their recipes are realistic. Yes, some of their meat dishes I don’t even make or eat but if I WANTED to, I could! 

This was an easy dish to throw together of a very lazy weekday morning and the leftovers kept in the fridge for well over a week.

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Gratin 
Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

  • 2 sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/8” rounds
  • 1 cup goat milk, mixed with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garnish:
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line a round 8” cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together goat milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes and until milk has started to curdle.
  3. Place sweet potatoes, goat milk mixture and 1 clove of minced garlic into a large mixing bowl and toss together. Allow mixture to sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Line the bottom of the cake pan with a single layer of potato rounds. Some overlapping is okay.
  5. Sprinkle the top with some garlic, rosemary and Pecorino Romano. Season with salt and pepper and continue layering gratin until all ingredients have been used.
  6. Tightly cover with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until fork tender. Remove foil and invert onto an oven safe dish. Sprinkle top with Pecorino Romano.
  7. Turn oven onto broil and return gratin back to oven. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and top has crisped up.
  8. Allow gratin to cool for at least 8 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

While we are solidly in the Christmas creep season, I might as well throw in a Halloween treat to balance things out. I will never be one of those food bloggers who post their themed food in a timely fashion. Laziness takes over and I make every excuse to not edit photos or write a post. Motivation seems to hit me a few weeks down the road and way outside of the timeframe of the holiday at hand. 

As I am officially on the office Fun Committee, I decided to turn our work Halloween party up to eleven with some homemade cake. While most people won’t consider bundts to be “fun,” I do live in the Midwest kids. Things are different here and I embrace it. The cake was attacked with gusto and I barely managed to save a sliver to take home to “A.” There were few leftovers to speak of, but this cake is so moist, you wouldn’t have any issue letting it sit around for a few days. 

So here I have a Halloween cake for you. Complete with chocolate spiderwebs and spooky stars. Maybe store it away for next year or forgo the black & orange coloring and call it a Thanksgiving cake. Keep this blog post a secret and no one will know the difference. 

Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Adapted from Whipped The Blog

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) EarthBalance “Butter”, softened, plus additional for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (or 1 15 oz can) solid pack pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. “Butter” and flour bundt pan.
  2. Make your “buttermilk”: combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Let stand for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, pumpkin spice and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, “buttermilk” and vanilla in another bowl.
  4. Beat EarthBalance, oil and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.
  5. Spoon batter into pan. Shake a few times to be sure to remove any bumps then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and invert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Doughnuts and Muffins

Unless you've been avoiding Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, walking down the sidewalk and talking to other people, you know that "Pumpkin Spice Season" is upon us. You can't turn the corner without seeing a PSL (or a pumpkin spice latte, if you want to be formal) in a death-grip or browse Facebook without seeing a love poem to some pumpkin spice. While I pretend to mock them, let's be real, I am one of them.

Smelling cinnamon coated apples basking in the warmth of my oven makes me giddy and apt to spread some baking joy. Hoarding canned pumpkin is a seasonal tradition and unearthing it again in July is always a shock. So yes, I roll my eyes at all the "#PSL" hype… but I partake is a more homemade fashion.

To any co-workers who are reading this post, yes, these are the baked goods I brought into the office! 

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Doughnuts & Muffins
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin purée – not pie filling
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp salt (see note above)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (see note above)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus a heaping 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger
  • 8 oz (1 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) all-purpose flour

For the cinnamon-sugar topping:
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  Grease the muffin tins and doughnut pan with a little bit of butter and flour.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, salt, and baking powder on medium speed until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Lower the speed of the mixer and stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, as well as the flour until they are completely incorporated. Do NOT over mix - this can lead to a tough texture.
  4. If you're making doughnuts, fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full, using a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each well (a small cookie scoop works well here). 
  5. If you’re making muffins, fill each well about 3/4 full.
  6. Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. If you’re making muffins, they’ll need to bake for 23 to 25 minutes.
  7. While the doughnuts/muffins bake, stir together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl until well mixed; set aside.
  8. Dip the warm doughnuts and muffins in the cinnamon-sugar topping. The muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days and may need a cinnamon-sugar refresher before serving. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Key Lime Bundt Cake

Every person I've talked to has bemoaned that this has been the most hectic summer in recent memory. Work, family, friends, life - it was all wanting equal parts of you without enough downtime to spare. "A" and I can group ourselves into that camp and complain. Yet what's the point? Now that we live in the Midwest, even though it takes some gas and time, we are able to drive to see both our families with a days notice and a weekend's time. While one family is a 4 hour drive to the west and another a 7 hour drive to the east, the fact that we can both see family more than one or two times a year is priceless.

Giving up the American tradition of barbecuing and relaxing with a day free of labor, "A" and I drove to Michigan for a Labor Day weekend filled with good food in Ann Arbor and an (age need not be mentioned) birthday for my beautiful Grandma, Betty! 

It's pretty much an unspoken rule that if I'm in attendance at a birthday party (family or not), I'll supply the cake. Even though I have a pretty good roster, my mother demanded that I make her mother a Key Lime cake. Not that new fancy chocolate cake recipe I've been waiting to try out. Not that caramel cake that most people would line up to try. Nope - a cake filled with Key Limes and not in pie form.

As I mentioned earlier, the weeks of summer have been filled to the brim and the temperature steadily rising, the thought of turning on an oven for even five minutes seemed to daunting. So instead I adapted a Key Lime cake recipe I have previously developed, threw it in a bundt pan and made it in my parents kitchen after my morning run. Oh yeah, did I mention I've been training for a running race? That's another story for another time.

Needless to say, the birthday girl was happy and I have yet another successful birthday cake in my storybook. 

Key Lime Bundt Cake

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh or bottled key lime juice
  • 3/4 cup goat yougurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime zest

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bundt pan with oil or melted butter and flour.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into mixing bowl. 
  3. Add eggs, oil and lime juice mix on medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. 
  4. Add goat yougurt and zest; mix until smooth. Pour cake batter into bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until tester is inserted and comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pans for 5 minutes and then turn the cake out onto cooling racks. Cool for 1 hour.
  6. To decorate, make a glaze with key lime juice and powdered sugar and top with toasted unsweetened coconut.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tartine Country Bread

B R E A D. I love you. I could eat you, romantically of course, every day, at every meal and loaves at a time. It doesn't matter if you're white, wheat or country. I will love you just the same and you'll never have to worry about me cheating on you with Mr. Cookie. As long as we can shake things up and throw goat cheese into the mix every once and a while, our love will be eternal.

I rarely do this, if I ever have, but I won't be including a recipe in this post. Not that I don't have it, but that I don't think I will be doing it justice by posting it on my blog. For Christmas last year, "A" received a copy of the Tartine Bread book from an old college friend. If you haven't heard of Tartine, I will assume you haven't been to San Francisco or don't have the obsession with bread that I do. To prepare myself for the Tartine method, I had been building up my starter and learning how to make bread all over again.  

I'm an experienced bread baker and I had to practice the Tartine method. That should be your first clue why the recipe won't be on the blog. The first few loaves were delicious and turned out fine, but the process to get there left me crying, yelling and pulling my hair out. It was hard and why was the dough SO STICKY!? Then one day it clicked. I remembered all the ratios and knew what the dough should feel like between my fingers. During the long bulk fermentation phase, the billowing air bubbles brewing in the bread is now a welcome comfort. I get it and it gets me. 

So I urge you, if you have any desire to make sourdough bread, please, pick up Chad Robertson's book . It's a work of art with pages upon pages of science and instruction. If that doesn't suit you, he has the most wonderful step-by-step photography that a frustrated baker could ask for. If more proof is needed, look at this bread. I did not a minute of kneading and the dough was able to rise in the fridge overnight as to produce a fresh loaf right before a dinner party.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Cherries

Somehow July sneaked past me and decided not to stop by to say hello. If you asked me what I did last week, I would think I just watched the fireworks booming over Lake Michigan. Sitting on the Michigan-side shores and looking back on a town of my childhood. But apparently that happened just about a month ago, if you believe the calendars. Personally, I think a Time Lord visited Madison and erased my memory to hide our wild adventures.

Yep. That's my story. Time Lord. In July… in Madison, Wisconsin. Quite logical really.

So that means that I made this cake just a few days ago if we're thinking back to last week, "the beginning of July." Rumor has it there was a nasty heat wave that swept though the region and made me think of my stove as the catalyst to the apocalypse. Good thing that "hasn't happened" yet and I made this cake pre-heat wave for a wonderful lady named Kate.

Kate and "A" are grad school friends and soon after moving to Madison we bonded over being Michiganders and living approximately five doors down from each other. After many potlucks, late-night group beers, dog sitting and crazy landlady adventures, I can honestly call this gal a good friend.

And anyone who knows me knows friends get cake, especially on their birthday. And what's a Michigander girl to do for a Michigander's birthday? Make a Michigan "Kate Cake." Ok, maybe the term "Kate Cake" isn't hot yet but trust me! It will be as it is composed of (only what I assume is) Miss. Kate's favorite things: Michigan cherries, (Michigan) red wine and dark chocolate. It doesn't hurt that it's utterly delicious and one of my favorite cakes that I've made! 

Anything that has a tight but moist crumb, chocolate and is easy to decorate is a win in my book. I also can't discredit the fact that it's relatively low sugar and incorporates fresh fruit! So while the cherries are still blooming and the temperatures are mild, make someone you know a Kate Cake! They won't hate you for it.

Chocolate Red Wine Cake
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted goat butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar (I used a little bit less)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. In a bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes longer. Working in two batches, alternately fold in the dry ingredients and the wine, until just incorporated.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack; let cool completely. Top the cake with pitted and sliced cherries reduced in a small sauce pan with a little bit of water.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Banana Bourbon Muffins

The past month has been an unfortunate one in our household. No, all ten fingers and all ten toes are still intact. No, our garden is still thriving against all odds and days of rain. No, I didn't coat a body part in gold during an unfortunate smelting accident.

Our oven was broken.

As in, it would heat up, beep loudly, stop it's foot and shut down. Just like that our Sunday pizza nights came to a halt. No more roasted vegetables. Most tragically, baked goods ceased to exist. This was not an exciting discovery to make less than two weeks after moving into our apartment.

Life happens and it took a while to coordinate a visit from the repair man. He came by, listed to the bowls of our aging stove and diagnosed it as needing some surgery. Placed on the donor list and hoping for a new part, we waited for relief. Thankfully, the temperature outside rose and the desire to turn on the oven was less tempting. But a crockpot cannot be used as an oven forever and my desire to bake was bulging. Eventually, as this post would suggest, our oven was successfully mended and I got back to baking.

With bourbon. Because I said so… and because "A" went down to Louisville for a bachelor party and we are now are well on our way to having a legitimate collection. There were also some bananas in the corner maturing into prime fruit fly food. Putting two and two together seemed like the best option.

Then because I have a slight addiction to cocoa nibs, I threw in a handful for crunchy good measure.

Banana Bourbon Muffins with Cocoa Nibs

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 3/4 cups sugar 
  • 3 large very ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Scant 3/4 cup cocoa nibs

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with liners or grease with vegetable oil if not using liners.
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. 
  3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat bananas until mushy. Add in oil and sugar and beat for 2 minutes, or until well combined. Add in eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Mix in bourbon and vanilla extract.
  4. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. Stir in cocoa nibs. Scoop batter into muffin tin, filling 2/3 of the way.
  5. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Apple & Pear French Tart

Let's play two truths and a lie. I like most things geekery. I don't like math. Math was my worst subject in school.

What did you guess? If you said geekery…. EEEEEEHHHH. WRONG. Guys, my iPhone cover is a TARDIS, I saw Star Wars when it was rereleased in theaters in elementary school, Mark Hamill was my first crush, I make "A" see the Star Trek movies with me and I celebrate Pi Day every year.

Which brings me to my lie. Math was not my worst subject in school, but it was my least favorite. Writing aside, math was an anomaly that made its way to the top of my standardized test scores. To this day, I have no idea why. But secretly? I think I'm a math genius who will solve the world water crisis with a math equation I casually doodle on the back of a letter I have yet to open. Apathetic enough for you?

While my prophecy hasn't come true yet, I'm prepared for the day it does by celebrating Pi Day every year. Last year I made some mini vegan roasted apple pies. The Year of the Epic Cherry/Apple Venn Pieagram crowned my first March in Seattle. This year? I christened my new Nordic Ware tart pan by making "A's" pie of choice: an apple & pear French tart.

Math isn't ever going to be something you see me begging to do, but I will keep up appearances by making a pie every March 14th.

Apple & Pear French Tart
Adapted from La Fete Blog

  • 1¼ cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted goat butter, cubed and chilled
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 baking apples, peeled, cored and slices
  • 3 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • ⅓ cup sugar with a shake a cinnamon combined
  • ½ cup apricot jam
  • 2 tbs. rum

  1. Combine flour, 8 tablespoons goat butter, and salt in a food processor and pulse until pea-size crumbles form. When properly (not over!) mixed, it should feel like wet sand.
  2. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons ice-cold water and pulse until dough is moistened, about 3-4 pulses.
  3. If dough seems too dry, drizzle in additional water 1 teaspoon at a time until dough is the correct consistency. 
  4. Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a flat disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Unwrap dough and place between two pieces of parchment paper.
  6. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough into a 13″ circle and then transfer to a 11″ tart pan with a removable bottom.
  7. Using fingertips, lightly press dough into the bottom and sides of tart pan.
  8. Using a rolling pin, gently press down on top edge of tart pan to trim excess dough.
  9. Chill for 1 hour.
  10. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375°F.
  11. Gently move the slices to the crust and make a pattern with the apples overlapping so there are no gaps of crust showing through.
  12. Once tart shell is completely filled with apples, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and dot with remaining 4 tablespoons of goat butter.
  13. Bake until golden brown, 60-70 minutes.
  14. Meanwhile, heat apricot jam and rum in a small saucepan until warmed and thin.
  15. Transfer tart to a wire rack; using a pastry brush, brush top of tart with jam rum glaze.
  16. Let cool completely before slicing. Serve with ice cream of choice!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Black Bean Bowl with Poached Egg

Give me a potato, sweet or of the russet variety, and I'm a happy lady. Maybe it's because I'm Irish. Maybe it's because I love brunch food. Or maybe it's both. Regardless of the origin of my lusting, whenever I see a brunch recipe on the internet that manages to incorporate a potato, it's game over for me. If I see it on a weekday, whose morning are filled with oatmeal & drip coffee, I make sure to stash the recipe away for a few days. Sometimes on Pinterest, but usually by refusing to close its browser tab.

But this bad boy black bean bowl? I considered it made the first time I saw it. If you often find yourself short on time in the morning, the bulk of this recipe can me made the night before. Substitute canned beans for dried, even if it does raise the price point a bit. If you're like me and can't make your own poached egg with a perfect dribble, throw on a sunny-side-up egg instead. Don't like runny yolks? I don't judge - I was the same until a few years back. Try a scrambled version and no one will think less of you. In fact, your friends will probably be begging to brunch at your place again and again.

Another praise I can sing for this dish is about its leftover potential. Cook everything down  a little to thicken it up and throw it in a tortilla to call it "burrito lunch." "A" and I used ours the next morning for brunch to make blintzes. To stretch things out a bit more, add some stock and call it soup. It's a flexible dish that will bend to your needs without complaint. All it wants is to make you happy, as do I.

Adapted from Spouted Kitchen

  • 1/2 lb. dried black beans (rinsed and soaked overnight)
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp. chile powder
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced in 1'' cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 4-8 eggs (use 1-2 eggs per person)
  • cilantro and hot sauce to finish
  • Cheese of your choosing 

  1. Drain and rinse the beans from soaking. Place them in a large pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beans are cooked through and just tender (one to one and a half hours depending on freshness of beans), avoid overcooking. They should still have a tooth to them. Remove from heat, add a pinch of salt. Let the beans cool for about ten minutes before draining. Add the cumin, cinnamon, garlic, chile powder, hearty pinch of salt and broth. Bring the mixture to a low simmer.
  2. Add the sweet potato to the warm beans, give it a stir and cover the pot. Cook for about 8-10 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. Stir in the tomato paste and olive oil and taste for salt, you'll likely need another pinch or two, and spices. You could add heat with a pinch of red pepper flakes or chipotle. Cover and keep warm until ready.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water with a splash of vinegar to a low boil. Poach the eggs to desired doneness (deliver the eggs to the water in a ramekin, seems to help them stay together well).  For a medium poach, simmer them 2-3 minutes. If you like the yolk more firm, take them 4-5 minutes. Serve each portion with a hearty scoop of the beans and poached egg on top. Finish with hot sauce, cilantro and cheese if using. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

White Russian Cake

Once upon a time there was a very special food blogger with a very special dad whose birthday was separated from hers by only one day. As the years passed and it became 2013, he was now exactly twice her age.

Growing up, this meant that the young fiery-haired little food blogging girl and her fiery-haired dad were required by the Evil Queen of the Household to share a birthday cake. As luck would have it, the little girl was none too happy with this arrangement as the years passed. She would stomp down her foot, demand a cake and be sent away to the lonely tower to think about what she had done.

Seasons passed, suns went up & down and the little girl was not so little any more. She followed her dreams, moved across the land to a magical place called “Seattle” and had no more shared birthday cakes with her fiery-haired dad. To her surprise, this made the grown up food blogger incredibly sad!

But as luck would have it, the girl fell in love with her prince and his white steed name “UHaul” took them back to Midwestia. Not Michigania, but Wisconsonia. This made the girl squeal with glee as now she would be able to share her birthday cake again with her birthday partner in crime.

She baked and baked and baked (and drank a beer) and baked trying to make the best possible cake for their fateful reunion. Taking inspiration from The Dude himself, she made it a bit boozy to celebrate the reunion. Or because she just likes the White Russian cocktail.

Cake was eaten. Smiles were had. And the little food blogging girl and the fiery-haired dad were celebrating in style together.


Folks. That is a true story. The vegan White Russian (as I make it with almond milk, not cream) is hands down my favorite drink – it tastes like a milkshake! For our birthdays this year, my family, “A” and I all met up in Chicago to celebrate.

The recipe below is for a full-sized cake but I halved it to make my cake a bit more mini. If you’re more in the mood for cupcakes – full-sized or mini – this recipe works perfectly! The Evil Queen of the Household, erm, my wonderful, lovely & perfect mother can attest, she forced my evil Full-Blood Sister to bake a batch for her ladies night gathering. Need proof? See below!

White Russian Cake

  • 14.5 oz cake flour (To "make your own" cake flour, do this, it's what I did:
  • 8.75 oz confectioner’s sugar
  • 0.5 oz baking powder
  • 6.75 oz almond milk
  • 6 oz canola oil
  • 3.25 oz eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 13 oz egg whites
  • 9.5 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 cup coffee liqueur (Kahlua)
  • 1/2 cup vodka

  1. Oven 375°F. Prep pan by butter bottom and sides. Place parchment in pan and butter the parchment.
  2. Sift dry ingredients (except granulated sugar) into a large bowl. 
  3. Mix all ingredients (except the 13 oz of egg whites and granulated sugar) in the large bowl until combined. Whip whites and granulated sugar to medium peaks. Fold into batter gently. 
  4. Bake until set, about 20-25 minutes (do the toothpick test – no goop on toothpick… 30 minutes for me).
  5. Remove from oven and remove from pan. Let cool on a rack. 
  6. You can get 3 layers from one cake, or four layers from two cakes… it all depends on how tall you want your cake and how many layers of cake you want.
  7. Mix the coffee liqueur and vodka together.

For the Dude-worthy buttercream frosting:
  • 1 cup goat butter, room temperature
  • 6-8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ⅓ cup coffee liqueur (Kahlua)

  1. To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium high until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar until incorporated. Mix in coffee liqueur until smooth. Add more if necessary until frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading. Frost the cupcakes as desired and enjoy!

  1. Place a base layer, bottom-side-down on your serving plate. Pour a quarter of the booze evenly over the cake layer. 
  2. Spread a layer of the frosting over the cake. Set a second layer of cake on the frosted layer. Repeat until the last layer (should be the other base). 
  3. Soak the cut side of that layer with the remaining booze and carefully flip that onto the top of the cake. Frost the sides (crumb coat first, then frost) and the top of the cake. 
  4. Decorate as desired. Serves 12. Consume immediately or refrigerate for a few days.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spicy Ginger Pickled Carrots

This is a quick n' dirty blogpost for a quick n' easy recipe. These carrots had bigger dreams and ultimately ended up in some homemade Bahn Mi (100% homemade to toot my own horn). That "recipe" will be coming soon but I already apologize in advance for the quality of the photos. Night isn't always the best time for lighting, as one would assume, but now that we're past daylight savings time, things are on the upswing! Unfortunately, I'm pretty backlogged with recipes that were taken after sundown. 

These picked carrots are less of a "recipe" than the Bahn Mi. It's more of making due with what you have on hand. I don't often keep fancy Mason jars on hand (a girl can dream), but I have mild hoarding tendencies and feel the need to save any decent glass jars. Perfect for bulk spices and leftovers alike, I can't ever bring myself to throw them out! So why are these carrots is a former fermented black bean jar you ask? Because I recycle (read: hoard) and because that's what I had on hand.

Back to the food. Basically, just take as many carrots as you can fit in the jar… then make them fit in the jar. Then top with pickling liquid and spices, or what will fit in the jar. Wait. Then… WHAM! Delicious easy, make-your-friends-jealous food!

Spicy Ginger Pickled Carrots

  • Carrots, peeled
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon powered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  1. Cut the carrots into matchsticks. Bring a medium-sized pot of lightly-salted water to a boil. (Use a non-reactive pot.)
  2. When the water boils, drop the carrots in and simmer for one minute. Pour into a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain thoroughly and place in jar.
  3. In the same pot, heat the remaining ingredients. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for two minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Once cool, pour liquid over carrots in car and chill. The carrots will be ready in about 3 hours but it's best to wait for at least a day.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Amaretto Almond Biscotti

It's real talk story telling truth time and I have an embarrassing confession to make… I'm not quite what you would call a "sweets" person. Which is weird because one of my all-time favorite activities is baking (one could only assume after perusing around on my blog for even just a minute). Nothing melts away stress or puts a smile on my face faster than being elbow-deep in dough and listening to the whirling of my stand mixer whipping together fat and sugar.

It still doesn't mean I would pick it over a crusty loaf of bread with some goat cheese. Or peanut butter. Or figs. Or really, really, dark chocolate. Or… I've better stop myself now. Just know that the way to win me over is with bread and spicy curry. Not a candy bar.

But if you brought me some biscotti? Game over. I'm done, all yours for the taking. Biscotti is my biggest weakness - it's a crispy crunchy not-really-sweet dessert breakfast item. I love brunch. I love crunch. Put those two together and you got biscotti. My kryptonite. 

As I lean towards indecisiveness, I presented "A" with two options earlier this week: biscotti or cookies. This post kinda hints at what he chose. To keep my ravenous self at bay, I sent him off to work with a good sized Tupperware filled to the brim and told him to share. I hope he's at least getting popular...

If you want to be the coolest chap at the office, I recommend you make some too! Or just give them to me and I'll do your (evil) bidding.

Amaretto Almond Biscotti

  • 2 cups almonds
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon amaretto or 2 tablespoon rum with 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup cocoa nibs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread the almonds in an even layer over a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until toasted, carefully stirring once halfway through to prevent burning. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of your food processor, combine 1/2 cup toasted almonds, 1 tbs sugar and pulse until finely ground. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pulse three times to mix.
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, vanilla, amaretto and remaining sugar on high until fluffy and thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Fold in the whole almonds and cocoa nibs.
  5. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
  6. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Wet your hands with water, divide the dough in half and form into two loaves, about 2″ by 10″ (the dough will be thick and sticky). Smooth the tops to create a flat surface and bake for 40 minutes, until golden.
  7. Remove the loaves from the oven. Using a bread knife or a very sharp chefs knife, diagionally slice the loaves into 1/2″ cookies and bake for another 20 minutes, flipping cooking halfway through, until crispy.
  8. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing. To retain crispness, put the cookies in an airtight container as soon as they are completely cool. Biscotti may be stored airtight for several weeks.


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