Peach and creme fraiche pie

Happy birthday to me! I can’t wait to dig into this tonight!

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Damp Lemon and Almond Cake

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It’s been several months since I’ve posted so I figured I’d jump back on the wagon with this cake. My mom brought me a box of 50+ lemons from her new orchard (congrats!) on Monday so I’m experimenting with all sorts of ways to use them up. So far I’ve tried lemonade, lemon thyme risotto, and lemon almond cake. I might even try lemon pudding a girl’s dinner on Saturday. This recipe comes from the How to be a Domestic Goddess cookbook by Nigella Lawson. It’s probably my favorite cookbook for desserts and my go-to resource when I need to make something special. This recipe did not disappoint – and it took less than 10 minutes from the time I grabbed the ingredients to putting the pan in the oven!

Damp Lemon and Almond Cake, courtesy of Nigella Lawson

1 cup softened unsalted butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup of sugar (I used slightly less since I had Meyer lemons which tend to be sweet.)
4 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
8 inch cake pan lined with a piece of buttered parchment

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together butter and sugar until almost white. Add eggs one at a time, with a quarter of the flour mixed in after each one. When everything is incorporated, gently stir in ground almonds, almond extract, lemon zest, and juice.

Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check on it after 30 minutes to make sure the top isn’t burning – if it is, cover it with foil. The cake is done when a skewer comes out cleanish – “you want dampness but no battery goo”. After you remove it from the oven, let it cool for five minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack.

Nigella recommends wrapping it in a tin foil and leaving it for a few days to get it really nice and dense. Yeah right…

Slow-Cooker Chicken Mole

I’m such an idiot. I’m having to throw away the 2.5 chicken breasts in this photo because I forgot to put the plate in the fridge after it cooled last night. Good bye lunch that I was looking forward to all morning.

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This was the best dish I’ve made in the slow cooker yet. It only took 2.5 hours on high and was oh so satisfying. I’ll be making it again very soon.

Slow-cooker mole chicken, courtesy of Martha Stewart

  • 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 12)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed
  • 1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Season chicken thighs with salt and place in a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker. In a blender, puree tomatoes, onion, ancho and chipotle chiles, almonds, raisins, chocolate, garlic, oil, cumin, and cinnamon until smooth. Add tomato mixture to slow cooker, cover, and cook on high until chicken is tender, 4 hours (or 8 hours on low). Enjoy!

Ciabatta

Now that our condo has been taken off MLS, I can make huge messes in the kitchen again. My weapon of choice was flour and oh, did I make a mess! I made a ciabatta recipe that was more complicated than I’d bargained for, but it was worth it in the end. It was the perfect morning activity since G woke up to eat at 4am and I couldn’t fall back to sleep. 7 hours and 4 loaves of ciabatta later, I’m exhausted!

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So they aren’t the prettiest loaves you’ve ever seen, but they are really chewy and tasty, especially dipped in a nice olive oil. Thanks to Leites for another fun adventure in the kitchen!

Ciabatta, courtesy of Leites

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 5 tablespoons warm milk
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons water, at room temperature (if using a food processor, use cold water)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 very full cups (17.5 ounces / 500 grams) biga, rested for 12 hours
  • 3 3/4 cups (17.5 ounces / 500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1 tablespoon (0.5 ounces / 15 grams) salt
  • Cornmeal

1. If making the ciabatta in a stand mixer: Stir the yeast into the milk in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the water, oil, and biga and mix with the paddle until blended. Mix the flour and salt, add to the bowl, and mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Change to the dough hook and knead for 2 minutes at low speed, then 2 minutes at medium speed. Knead briefly on a well-floured surface, adding as little flour as possible, until the dough is still sticky but beginning to show evidence of being velvety, supple, springy, and moist.

If making the ciabatta in a food processor: Stir the yeast into the milk in a large bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons of cold water, the oil, and the biga and mix, squeezing the biga between your fingers to break it up. Place the flour and salt in the food processor fitted with the dough blade and pulse several times to sift the ingredients. With the machine running, pour the biga mixture through the feed tube and process until the dough comes together. Process about 45 seconds longer to knead. Finish kneading on a well-floured surface until the dough is still sticky but beginning to show signs of being velvety, supple, moist, and springy.

This is the biga.

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2. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours. The dough should be full of air bubbles, very supple, elastic, and sticky.

3. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces on a well-floured surface. Roll each piece into a cylinder, then stretch each cylinder into a rectangle, pulling with your fingers to get each piece long and wide enough. It should be approximately 10 by 4 inches.

4. Generously flour 4 pieces of parchment paper placed on peels or upside-down baking sheets. Place each loaf, seam side up, on a piece of parchment. Dimple the loaves vigorously with your fingertips or knuckles so that they won’t rise too much. The dough will look heavily pockmarked, but it is very resilient, so don’t be concerned. Cover the loaves loosely with damp towels and let rise until puffy but not doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The loaves will look flat and definitely unpromising, but don’t give up; they will rise more in the oven.

*So* grateful for the tip not to give up!

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5. Approximately 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC) and slide your baking stones on the center rack to heat.

6. Just before baking the ciabatta, sprinkle the stones with cornmeal. Carefully invert each loaf onto a stone. If the dough sticks a bit to the parchment, just gently work it free from the paper. If you need to, you can leave the paper and remove it 10 minutes later. Bake for a total of 20 to 25 minutes, spraying the oven three times with water in the first 10 minutes. Transfer the ciabatta loaves to wire racks to cool.

Pumpkin Miso Soup

I’ve had a recipe for Pumpkin Miso Soup open in my browser for two months and finally got around to making it this afternoon. I made a few modifications based on what I had in the refrigerator and loved the end result. Even my soup swap buddy would be impressed! (S, I miss you!)

This soup is hearty and begs for seconds. It was my first time cooking with harissa and miso paste so now I’m looking for new ways to use those up. Suggestions welcome!

  • 2 cups cooked wild rice (a little less than 1 cup uncooked rice, boiled in 3 cups water until chewy—20-30 mins—and drained)
  • 1 large or two medium onions, cut into ½ inch dice (about 3 cups)
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds or 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 lbs pumpkin (about 12 cups), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ cup carrots, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 3 medium potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 cups kale or chard (about 5 large leaves) removed from stem and chopped
  • 1 tbs harissa (or more, to taste)
  • 2-3 tbs miso paste (use a dark brown or red miso with a strong flavor)
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 ½ tsp salt or to taste
  • Plain yogurt for topping, if desired
In a small pot, cook your wild rice until soft and chewy, 20-30 mins, drain, and set aside. While the rice is cooking, prepare the following.

In a large pot (5-6 quarts), add the oil and sauté the onion and carrots over a medium high heat until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the cumin seeds and continue to sauté another five minutes. If the cumin seeds start to pop, turn the heat down.

Add the pumpkin and potatoes and cover with water (use vegetable stock, or part stock and water if you prefer). Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the pumpkin and potatoes are soft. This will take about 15-20 minutes. The floury potatoes will fall apart in the water, that’s fine.

Using a ladle, spoon some of the liquid into a serving bowl or 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add the harissa and mix to dissolve. Add this mixture back to the pot and stir. Add the salt and lemon juice. Add the greens and stir to incorporate. The greens will wilt with the heat of the soup.

Using the ladle, again remove some of the liquid into a bowl (about 1 1/2 cups of liquid). Add two tbs miso, stir to dissolve (use a spoon to mash out any lumps) and return to the soup pot. Continue with this method until all the miso is incorporated.

You might want to begin tasting the soup after about 4 tbs of miso have been added. If you use any vegetable stock, or if you like your soup less salty, you might not want to use the full amount of miso. Also, different misos have different flavor profiles (see note below). Taste to make sure you like where your version is going.

Add the rice and let warm through. Serve the soup hot or at room temperature. A dollop of yogurt on top is nice too.

NOTE: miso is fermented soybean paste and comes in different varities/colors. Light or white miso is sweet, while dark brown and red miso will be saltier and stronger tasting. For this soup you want a dark brown or red miso. Light miso will be too sweet. Also, you don’t want to boil the soup after the miso has been added. Simmer is okay, but don’t go any higher.

Chili and cornbread muffins

To celebrate our first storm of the season, I made a large pot of chili and cornbread muffins for a dinner party last night. It’s so dreary outside today that I wish I had doubled the recipe for leftovers.

 Chili recipe courtesy of Epicurious

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder (Penzeys Chili 3000)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can beef broth
  • 2 medium white potatoes, peeled, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup chili sauce (I love the Trader Joes chili sauce)
  • 1 15 1/4-ounce can kidney beans (I always used dried heirloom beans from Zursun or Iacopi beans)
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until almost golden, about 8 minutes. Add beef and cook until brown, breaking beef up with fork, about 10 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin and cayenne and continue cooking 3 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, broth, potatoes, carrots, bell pepper and chili sauce. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Stir in beans. Simmer until beans are heated through and vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Serve with diced avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and salsa on the table.

Cornbread Muffins, recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup frozen corn kernels

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, if you’re using it. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg and yolk together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy, and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the corn kernels. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes (12 minutes for minis), or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

I also made these beauties with some frozen wild huckleberries from WA but we ate them too fast to take photos. Yum!

 

Creamy Curried Celeriac Soup

A funny looking vegetable showed up in our CSA box this week. It was white and resembled a hairy, dirty brain. Turns out, it was celery root or celeriac, pronounced seal-er’-i-ac. I prepared it just as I would a potato or cauliflower and made a creamy soup for lunch. Yum!

 

Recipe from Mark Bittman (if you’re bored, watch the video – I love that guy!)

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cream, half-and-half, or milk, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

Preparation:

  • 1. Put the butter in a large, deep pot over medium-high heat. When it’s melted, add the onion and garlic and cook until they begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cumin and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • 2. Add the celery root and stir just to coat it in the spices, then add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat so that the stock bubbles gently and cook, stirring occasionally, until the celery root is fully tender, 15 to 20 minutes more.
  • 3. Cool the mixture slightly, pour into a blender, and purée carefully, or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pan. Return the soup to the pan and stir in the cream; reheat if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve garnished with the herb.

Almond Flour Banana Muffins

I took advantage of Genevieve’s nap this morning and made some “healthy” muffins. They don’t have any oil or butter and are actually delicious! It also helped me use up a huge bag of almond flour that has been sitting in the pantry for over a year.

 

Almond Flour Banana Muffins, recipe adapted from Honest Fare

  • 9oz almond flour + some extra for topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 oz sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 bananas (approximately 1/2 lb peeled) + extra slices for topping
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of coarse sea salt (optional for topping if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (if doing cocoa center)
  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Grease baking pan of choice (either an 8-9 inch fluted flan tin, a bread dish or muffin tin) and dust with flour OR lightly moisten baking paper and line tin.
  2. Whizz 9 oz almonds and baking powder in food processor until finely ground, but be careful not to go too far or you’ll end up with almond butter. Set aside in bowl.
  3. Whizz eggs, sugar, bananas and cinnamon for about 5 minutes or until pale and really fluffy. Pour over almond meal and stir through.
  4. If adding cocoa powder, place 1/3 of batter into separate bowl and stir in 2 tbs of unsweetened cocoa powder. To create the chocolaty center, first pour 1/2 your original batter into baking tin, then do your dollop of cocoa batter and then pour remaining original batter to cover cocoa. Top with thinly sliced bananas and almonds. Bake about 40-45 minutes for bread and 30-35 minutes for muffins (or until top is browned and skewer comes out clean). You just don’t want to overcook in the oven because they’ll continue to cook a little as they cool. Sprinkle on sea salt immediately after removing from oven.