Friday, November 7, 2014

Apple Torte Riff

Sooooooo, this is another recipe I was inspired by Bon Appétempt to make. It's based on the Purple Plum Torte recipe, adapted by Morris, published during plum season every year in the New York Times. It's pretty amazing (tart and sweet) and my husband, who summarily avoids cake, loves it, which is really saying something. The apple inspiration, thusly sliced, came from this cake by Smitten Kitchen, and from the fact that the market next to my apartment had no plums the day I made this.



I decided to try the recipe with apples tossed in honey, lemon juice and cinnamon. It came out great but on the sweeter side, so I'd suggest using sour green apples, or the plums called for in the recipe of origin, if you make it.

Here's the recipe. Tell me how it comes out for ya!

Sour Apple Torte
Adapted slightly from Bon Appétempt and the New York Times
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
4 small sour apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly 
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 cup sliced almonds, optional

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan (both sizes work great just check on the large pan on the earlier side) and set it on a baking sheet. 

Prep the apples by peeling, coring, halving, then slicing, as pictured above, like a hasselback potato. Mix together the lemon juice, honey and cinnamon and drizzle over the apples to coat them while trying not to separate the slice bundles.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. 

In the bowl of a mixer, or with an electric handheld, cream the butter and sugar for about 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing for another minute. Add the dry to the wet and mix until just combined. 

Use a spatula to transfer the batter (mine is always very thick) to your prepared pan and smooth it out to the edges. An offset spatula makes easy work of this. 

Nestle the apples around the edge and then center of the pan, leaving about a half-inch from the edge and each other, around each bundle. Drizzle any remaining honey/cinnamon/lemon juice mixture over the cake batter and apples.

*I found that this is especially important if you are using plums because they basically melt leaving cavities in the cake, so moving them in a smidge from the edge of the pan helps to keep the your cake intact.

Sprinkle the top of the cake with the almonds and bake for about 45-50 minutes until it passes the toothpick test.

I like this cake when it's warm best (with either plums or apples) despite it being generally recommended at room temp on the second day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Corn and Cantaloupe Chopped Salad from Better Homes and Gardens August 2014 Edition

This is an outstanding salad. When I first read the ingredients list, I was intrigued and perplexed. Honestly, it looked weird but also delicious. What to do? Welp, I'm really glad I made it because it is delicious.

The recipe is from the August 2014 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. I skipped the greens and used a teaspoon of regular stone ground mustard instead of dry mustard powder. I also doubled the fresh dill. Yum!

I wish I had posted it earlier during prime corn/cantaloupe season but baby-proofing and teething have had me all-consumed until now. It's definitely going to be one of our family summer staples from now on, however, and maybe yours too, despite this short notice!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bon Appétempt's Triple-Coconut Quinoa Porridge from Megan Gordon's Whole-Grain Mornings

Triple-Coconut Quinoa Porridge is super delicious, healthy, and very satisfying.



If you haven't already heard of Amelia Morris' wonderful blog, Bon Appétempt, stop reading this and go there - now! 

Amelia is a wonderful emerging food (etc.) writer. I'm basically counting down until her book comes out early next year. All the recipes on her site are great but the ones from her semi-recent video/post, Post-Apocalyptic Pantry Cooking, are some of my favorite so far. This is probably (read: definitely) because they are easy and it's tricky cooking with a tiny baby in tow, something Amelia can speak to because she's a new mom too. 

Anyhow, made the black bean dip from this post two nights in a row and Jon and I ate ALL OF IT with tortilla chips for dinner both nights. So good! As for this delightful porridge, I'm not even going to type the recipe or instructions here. You just get my photo teaser and a link to the recipe at Bon Appétempt

Enjoy!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Salted Oatmeal and Dark Chocolate Lactation Cookies

More lactation cookies, you say? Yup! Turns out, enhancing lactation is one of the best reasons to make cookies there is. If you try these, please let me know how they turn out for you. It's been a while since I made them.

With regards to how long it's been since I made these, I must admit that the photo below is of another batch of cookies I made from a very similar recipe. I made the lactation cookie recipe below for my mom's group, and we devoured them so quickly, I never got the chance to take a good shot for foodrefuge. This photo gives you the gist though, as these are crisp and chewy, unlike the previous lactation cookie recipe I posted with Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Dried Cranberries and Toasted Pecans, which were thicker and softer. 


Salted Oatmeal and Dark Chocolate Lactation Cookies
Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
Yields about 2 dozen
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 Tablespoons flax seeds (I used golden flax)
2 teaspoons brewer's yeast (no more as this is very bitter stuff)
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
6 ounces (3/4 cup) dark chocolate (or chocolate of your choice), roughly chopped
1 cup chopped toasted nuts (pecans or walnuts), optional
*about 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, for sprinkling 

Preheat your oven to 350 and line your baking sheets with parchment or a silicone pad. 


If using, toast the chopped nuts for 5-8 minutes until fragrant.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, table salt, flax seeds and brewer's yeast and set aside.


Chop the chocolate up and set aside. 


In a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together for about 4 minutes until very light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and whip in the egg and vanilla. Scrape down again and pulse in your dry ingredients, then pulse in the oats. Fold in the chocolate and nuts until well distributed. 

It's never a bad idea to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes at this point so the cookies spread less, or just proceed....

Roll about 2 Tablespoons of dough per cookie into rounds and flatten each slightly. Place them about 2 inches apart on your prepared backing sheets. Sprinkle each with just a smidgen of flaky sea salt and bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges just start to get golden. Let the cookies set up for a few minutes on the pan, then transfer them to a rack to finish cooling.

Here I am nursing Freya while touring around Washington DC. So, as you can see, these lactation cookies worked like a charm. Happy World Breastfeeding week, by the way!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Carrot-Top Pesto with Roasted Carrots Radishes and Cherry Tomatoes

This delicious pesto could not be easier, healthier, or more "sustainable" in that you're using something that all too often gets thrown away. It has a bright, herbaceous flavor and is just different enough to add a new twist to this classic condiment. 




I was inspired by this carrot-top pesto recipe from Bon Appétit but I just eyeballed everything and skipped the cheese, though I will be adding cheese when I toss this pesto with pasta later in the week. 

Carrot-Top Pesto
the green fronds from 6 carrots (washed and shaken dry) - about 4 cups or so
one large handful of basil leaves (also washed and shaken dry)
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/3 cup olive oil (add more, little by little, while scraping down the sides of your food processor to get a rough puree)
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts or other nut (toast at 350 for 5-8 minutes)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes, optional

Pulse the garlic, nuts, and olive oil until relatively smooth. Pack in the greens and pulse until you get a rough puree, adding more olive oil, little by little, while scraping down the sides of your food processor to get a rough puree. Add the cheese, if using. Then salt and pepper to taste. 

Use right away on pasta, rice, potatoes, atop crostini, with roasted veggies, as a dressing on fresh salads, or freeze for later use. Freezing in ice cube trays is smart and allows you to grab a bit of pesto, say to toss into a sauce for extra flavor, whenever you need to!

I tossed mine with carrots, radishes and cherry tomatoes and roasted at 425 for about 30 minutes until everything was blistered and delicious.


Pesto is a condiment that most people love but not enough make because it seems sort of complicated. I hope this post helps to demystify it. The basic pesto formula is basil, olive oil, garlic, pignoli nuts and Parmesan cheese pureed (with salt and pepper to taste, of course). If you aren't being a stickler, however, you can change up the nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, brazil) and greens (arugula, carrot-tops, sorrel, watercress) and even swap the Parmesan for another hard-aged cheese (grana padano, aged gouda or manchego, hmmmmm!). 

Even more willy-nilly than pesto, is it's cousin, chimichuri! Check out my recipe/guidelines for that here!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fattet Hummus (Tahini Yogurt Chickpea Bread Pudding) from Food52

This "bread pudding" is really delicious. Depending on how much torn-up toasted, baked or fried pita you add, it can range from a dip to a much heartier entree-level dish. Either way, it's delicious. 






I added more tahini than the recipe calls for, and also more mint - about 1/4 cup of each. I also saved time and effort by just breaking some Stacy's Multigrain Pita Chips into the dish rather than dealing with prepping the pita myself. Also, if you don't have pine nuts, try walnuts, pecans, or something else (and tell me what you think!). The crunch is nice. 

You can really knock this dish out of the park if you use high quality, flavorful chickpeas. Arrowhead Mills Organic Chickpeas, soaked overnight then brought to a boil and simmered until tender in fresh salted water, are amazing.  They are a whole different animal than any canned variety I've used. Frying about half a cup to garnish is also key for the texture and beauty of this dish.

I usually serve it with still more pita chips for dipping. Another important note, if you make this to bring somewhere and want it to look gorgeous, transport the dip in one container, the fried nuts and chickpeas with their oil in another, and bring the paprika and some extra mint leaves to garnish on-site. Assemble the dish right before serving so everything looks all drizzly, fresh and perky.  

Click here for the recipe

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Crock Pot/Dutch Oven Fragrant Braised Beef with Allspice and Cinnamon over Whole Wheat Shells

It's been harder and harder to find the time to post these days with the little one napping less and less and playing more and more. Here's an easy recipe for a fragrant, delicious pot roast from my friend Stacie that, I promise you, will make up for my absence. It can be served over noodles or rice, in a sandwich, or simply along-side a loaf of crusty bread and butter. It's also a great recipe for the summer because it makes a lot and the crockpot won't heat up your whole kitchen. Enjoy!



Crock Pot Braised Beef with Allspice and Cinnamon 
* If you don't have a cock pot, see my dutch oven instructions below.
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
4 whole cloves 
(or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
3 allspice berries (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
6 black peppercorns 
(or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
olive oil
about 3.5 lbs beef (chuck, round, or shank/brisket) trimmed of excess fat
1 large yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup hearty dry wine (any red you have on-hand is fine, just use one that's drinkable)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper

In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and peppercorns to a fine powder. Just use ground spices if you don't have whole ones on hand.






Prep all your veggies and get your wine and canned tomatoes ready.


Heat some olive oil in a large 
sauté pan or cast iron skillet over high heat. While its heating, dry the beef well with some paper towels and salt and pepper it liberally on all sides. When the pan is smoking hot, brown each side of the beef for about 5 minutes each, so the entire surface is seared and crusty. Transfer the beef to your crock pot.





In the same pan you browned the meat in, sauté the onions over medium heat until they're lightly browned. Add in the celery, carrots and garlic and sauté for about 4 more minutes (reduce the heat if needed so you don't burn the garlic). Add in the spice mixture and sauté everything for another minute. Pour in the red wine and cook it down for about 10 minutes or so. Be sure to deglaze your pan here, aka scrape all the yummy bits up off the bottom of the pan. 


Pour the contents of the pan over the meat in your crock pot. Add the crushed tomatoes a good pinch of salt to taste. The liquid should cover at least 3/4 of the meat. Add a cup or two of water if it doesn't. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, turning the meat over at the halfway point if you're around to do that. You can cut the cooking time down by a third to a half depending on the power of your crock pot by cooking it on high.

*If you are short on time, just toss the veggies, spices and crushed tomatoes into your crockpot and stir well. Brown the beef well on all sides and then nestle that in there. Deglaze the pan you cooked the beef in with the red wine and then add that to your crock pot and power it up. 


Serve over pasta, creamy polenta, or with roasted potatoes. It's also amazing with just some crusty bread drizzled with olive oil or slathered with butter. A dollop of crème fraîche or a grating of hard, aged cheese like Grana Padano, Parmiggian Reggiano, or Pecorino really sends it over the edge. 


*If you don't have a crock pot or prefer to use a dutch oven. Preheat your oven to 325 at the start of the recipe and set the racks so the dutch oven will sit roughly in the center of the oven. On your stovetop, heat some olive oil in the dutch oven and sear your meat then remove it to a plate. After you remove the beef, sauté the veggies and spices as described above. Add the wine, scrapping up all the good bits from the pan, then add the crushed tomatoes and season to taste. Put the meat in, again making sure it's 3/4 covered by the braising liquid (add just enough water or extra crushed tomatoes to accomplish this if it's isn't), cover and roast in your oven until the meat can be easily puled apart with a fork (about 6 hours or so).