Lemon & Crème fraîche Tart


Last week I had the incredible privilege to attend and speak on a panel at this years Alt Summit Conference in Salt Lake City. This event was amazing. I was not only encouraged and informed, but was also lucky enough to meet a group of girls that I feel quite fortunate to call friends. I must say, being surrounded by so many other talented bloggers was a truly unique and delightful experience.

It might not be that obvious, but I am totally obsessed with citrus fruits right now. When I was at the store last week I snagged a bag of Meyer lemons and I instantly knew what I wanted to make. The lemon tart, or tarte au citron, is a dessert that I don't often eat, but if one gets within 20 feet of me, I'm having a slice. There are a 2 different ways to approach a tart like this: some recipes have you whisk everything together and bake the tart in the oven, while others have you make the lemon curd on the stove top and pour it into your prepared crust of choice. I decided to take the second approach because I really wanted to add those magical crème fraîche swirls on top and, to do that, the curd needs to be cooked. 

This particular tart, in my opinion, has a really lovely balance between sweet and tart, with a little kick of spiciness from the gingersnap crust. If you prefer a slightly sweeter tart, simply add an extra 2-3 tablespoons of sugar. I'm especially in love with this recipe because of the addition of Vermont creameries' vanilla bean crème fraîche. It adds such a lovely creaminess to the tart, with a welcoming hint of vanilla. As you may have noticed, the swirls I added on top of this tart are a bit pink. I had roasted a batch of beets earlier in the day and I used a bit of their juice to naturally color my swirls. Fresh beet juice would work too, but if you don't have any beets, just omit that ingredient all together because the swirls will still look beautiful, I promise.  


Meyer lemon & Crème fraîche tart

Serves 8-12

Gingersnap Crust

2 1/2 Cups roughly grounded Gingersnap cookies, about 43, 2-inch cookies

4-6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted

3/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Equipment: Food processor, 9.5 x 1 inch Tart pan with removable bottom, baking sheet


Method

Preheat oven to 350°F. In your food processor, coarsely grind the gingersnap cookies. Add the salt and 4 tablespoons of melted butter; process until moistened and clumps begin to form.

If the mixture seems a bit dry, gradually add an additional 1-2 tablespoons butter, processing in between, until the mixture is moist, but not overly greasy/moist.

Press crumb mixture firmly onto the bottom and up sides of the tart pan and place onto a baking sheet. Allow tart to bake for about 8 minutes, or until fragrant. If the crust puffs, or slides a sit, just use a spoon to push down, or back into place.

Remove tart from the oven and set aside to cool.


Lemon Curd Filling

1/2 Cup Crème fraîche, plus 3 tablespoons divided

3/4 cup Sugar (add 2-3 tbs if you prefer it sweeter)

1/2 Cup Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice

4 Large Eggs, plus 1 yolk

1 Tablespoon Meyer Lemon Zest

Pinch Salt

2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cut into small cubes

1-2 Tablespoons Beet Juice (optional)

Equipment: Saucepan, whisk, wooden spoon, fine mesh sieve, ice bath


Method

In a medium, non-reactive saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, zest, crème fraîche, sugar, eggs, and yolk until smooth, then set over medium heat. Add the cubed butter, and a pinch of salt, and with a wooden spoon, continuously stir the mixture until it becomes thick, and has a pudding like texture. The curd should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Pour the warm curd through a fine mesh sieve and into a large bowl. Place this bowl into the prepared ice bath.

Allow curd to cool for 2-3 minutes. While curd is cooling mix the remaining 3 tablespoons of the vanilla bean creme fraîche with a few drops of beet juice. 

Pour the slightly cooled lemon curd into the tart, and using a small spoon, drop small dollops (about 3/4-1 tsp) all over the top of the tart. With a toothpick or a small pairing knife, create swirls by pulling the tip of the pick or knife through the dollops you just made. 

Lightly cover tart (don't let anything touch the curd) and allow to set in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours. Remove from tart pan once ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Swirls inspired by the lovely Martha Stewart

Citrus revival Smoothie


Happy New Year everyone! I cannot believe it’s already 2016! This year absolutely flew by. I can’t tell you how many times I have made a list of new habits I would like to adopt each New Year, but lo and behold I usually abandon them quite quickly. I would typically start out strong for the first few days, then by the end of the second week I was back to my old habits. So this year I am taking a different approach and clinging tightly to the saying “everything in moderation.” After many failed attempts of trying to change habits cold turkey, I am instead making small changes consistently. One habit I am currently trying to break is that of skipping breakfast. Sometimes I only have a few minutes before I’m out the door, so I figured having a few smoothie recipes on hand like this one would help me change my ways. 

What I love about this smoothie is that it’s packed with so many vitamins, and that extra kick of ginger is just what I need in the morning. Plus, the vanilla cashew milk gives this drink a lovely creaminess that brings all the flavors together. The great thing about smoothies is that they are so flexible, and seriously only take a few minutes make. I usually toss in a bunch of stuff into my blender and adjust as I go. Make sure to blend your smoothie long enough, because the key to a great smoothie is to thoroughly blend the heck out of it. This will ensure a smooth and creamy glass of bliss.


Citrus Revival Smoothie

Inspired by Dolly & Oatmeal

Serves 1

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Cashew milk

1 Blood Orange, peeled and seeds removed

1 Cara Cara Orange, peeled and seeds removed

1 Carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1/2 Banana, frozen

1/4 Teaspoon Grated Ginger, or more to taste

1 Teaspoon Maple Syrup, or Honey, adding more to taste

1/4 Teaspoons Chia Seeds, plus extra for garnish

Equipment: Blender, microplane zester


Method

 

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste smoothie and add more grated ginger or sweetener to taste. Serve immediately and garnish with extra chia seeds. *Note: I like to grate my ginger first to make sure it gets properly blended. If you can't grate your ginger, add in a very small slice, blend, and add more to taste.

BRIOCHE DOUGHNUTS


Doughnuts are one of those desserts that I’ve loved ever since I was a little girl. There was this little hole-in-the-wall doughnut shop in the town where I grew up, and my dad would sometimes take me there before he dropped me off at school. I was a fan of the classic glazed twist, but sometimes I would venture out and try a maple bar, or my dad’s favorite, a huge jelly-filled doughnut. I still love doughnuts as much as I did when I was little, and that’s why I love making them at home. I made a batch of buttermilk doughnuts last year, but this year I wanted to make a batch of cream-filled brioche doughnuts.

I will admit, these buttery pillows of cream-filled goodness do take a bit of effort to put together, but oh, the pay off is totally worth it. Since they do take a few hours to make I made a recipe that includes an overnight rise, because if you are like me and want to eat a doughnut first thing in the morning, this is the way to go.

In this recipe you will find three options for fillings. The first is the most classic: a vanilla bean pastry cream. I wanted to experiment with other flavors, so I also included variations for a peanut butter filling and a white chocolate and orange filling that you will find below. I recommend making these filling the same night you make the dough, that way the filling has enough time to cool. There are so many options when it comes to filling these doughnuts, so get creative and fill them with a flavor you love. As you read the directions below, you may notice that I added a few extra tips that will help make your doughnut-baking endeavors a success.

If making doughnuts has been on you list, I hope you get to try this recipe, because they are SO good. And hey, since this recipe yields a large batch, go ahead and share them, I promise it will make anyone’s day.


BRIOCHE DOUGHNUTS

Yields about 16

3 Tablespoons Sugar, divided

1 Packet Active Dry Yeast

1 Cup Whole Milk, warmed to 110Fº-115Fº

2 Large Eggs, + 1 Egg Yolk

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

3 1/4 Cups Bread flour, plus a bit extra

6 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, room temperature

Vegetable Oil- for frying

Bowl of sugar- About 1 Cup

Equipment: Standing mixer, whisk, 1 medium bowls, cooling rack, or plate, 3-inch biscuit cutter, slotted spoon, pastry bag fitted with small tip,


METHOD

In the bowl of a standing mixer add 1 tablespoon of the sugar along with the yeast. Pour in the warm milk and let mixture stand for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast starts to foam. Meanwhile, lightly grease a large bowl and set aside.

Once the yeast has foamed, whisk in the eggs, egg yolks, salt, vanilla, lemon zest, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar into the milk mixture. Then, with the dough hook attached add in 3 1/4 cups flour and begin to mix on medium speed until the dough comes together, and beat for 5 minutes. The dough should begin to pull away from the sides, and become smooth, elastic, and slightly sticky. If the dough seems too sticky to handle, add a few pinches of flour.

With the mixer on, add the 6 tablespoons of butter, 1 piece at a time. Be sure to let each piece of butter get fully incorporated, before adding the next. The butter takes a little time to get mixed in, so don’t worry if that doesn’t happen right away. Once all the butter has been added, keep mixing the dough for another 2 minutes or so, then remove the dough and place into the lightly greased bowl. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft free place for about 1 hour, or until it doubles in volume.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to release the air, and fold it onto itself. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight, or for up to 12 hours.

In the morning, remove the dough and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before using. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 1/2’’ thick. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut out your dough rounds. Re-roll scraps once, and cut out as many rounds as you can.

Place the doughnut rounds onto a tray lined with parchment paper and loosely cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in s warm, draft free space until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes or so. This time can very, so just keep a close eye.

Once the rounds have risen, fill a large dutch dutch oven with 3- 4 inches of vegetable oil, and slowly heat until the oil reaches 350F°. Its very important that you keep an eye on this temperature as it can fluctuate quite quickly which can burn your doughnuts. Keep the temperature between350F°-360F°. If the temperature gets too high, pour some more oil into the pot, this will help reduce the heat quickly.

Working in small batches, fry the dough rounds until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the doughnuts with a slotted spoon and place on cooling rack, or on a plate that has been lined with a paper towel. Let the doughnuts cool just for a minute or so, then gently roll in the bowl of sugar to coat; set aside.

To fill the doughnuts, using the handle of a fork, or some other kitchen tool, poke a small hole on the side of each doughnut. Don’t poke a hole all the way through, just far enough to create a space for all that delicious filling.

Transfer the vanilla custard to either a pastry bag fitted with a small tip, or you can also use a small zip lock bag. Simply cut off the tip of the bag, and use to fill each doughnut. Using the zip lock bag can be a little tricky, but if you don’t have a pastry bag, it will do the trick.

Serve these doughnuts the same day they are made, which I assure you won’t be a problem.


Vanilla Pastry Cream

Yields about 1 1/2 Cups

2 Cups Milk

1 Vanilla Bean

4 Large Egg Yolks

1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons Cornstarch

3 Tablespoons Flour

Pinch of Kosher Salt

Equipment: saucepan, 2 medium bowls, whisk, spatula, and a fine mesh sieve

Add milk and vanilla bean to a saucepan and place on medium heat until it begins to simmer.

While the milk is warming up, lightly whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth.

Sift the the flour, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt into the yolk mixture. Mix these ingredients together very well, use a spatula if you need to.

Once the milk begins to steam, pour in a small amount (like 1/3 of a cup) into the yolks and whisk well. Then, in a steady stream, pour the rest of your milk into the medium bowl, whisking while you pour.

Now you can split your vanilla bean and add the seed to the bowl with the milk mixture. Whisk this for a few seconds, then pour the entire mixture through a fine mesh sieve and back into the saucepan. While whisking constantly, continue cooking the pastry cream until it just begins to boil, continue whisking for another 30 seconds, then remove from heat.

Once thickened, transfer the pastry cream to another bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Press the plastic wrap against the cream, this will help prevent a skin from forming. Place in fridge and let cool completely before using, preferably overnight.


Variations

Peanut Butter filling

Follow the recipe for vanilla custard, but omit the vanilla bean. Once the cooked custard custard has been transferred to a bowl, whisk in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter until smooth. Top each doughnut with a few chocolate chips as a garnish.

White Chocolate & Orange filling

Follow the recipe for vanilla custard. Once the cooked custard custard has been transferred to a bowl whisk in 3 oz chopped white chocolate and 2 teaspoon orange zest until smooth. *note: this filling is a little softer than the other two, so it will appear a littler runnier than the other two.

(Pastry cream adapted from Joy of Baking)

 

No-Churn Sweet Potato Ice Cream


It’s getting pretty cold outside, but no matter how cold it gets I’m always down for a few scoops of ice cream, especially if it’s homemade. There have been quite a few nights, well, way too many nights where John and I were craving ice cream. As much as I wanted to make a batch from scratch, I couldn’t muster up the energy to go through the lengthy process of making a custard base, and then churning it, and then getting it to the perfect temperature, and then…well, you get the idea. I promise, I absolutely love the process of making ice cream, but sometimes a shortcut can be quite handy, and so allow me to introduce you to this incredibly easy, no-fuss recipe for no-churn ice cream.

Why in the world haven’t I made this sooner? I’ve seen so many recipes over the years singing the praises of a simple ice cream that requires no machine and no eggs! Just the possibility of making something so delicious with little to no effort was music to my ears. The process is super simple, like it seriously only takes about 5-10 minutes to put together. Now this next part might be the hardest, but once everything is folded together you have to wait. I know, I hate waiting too, but hey it’s ice cream.

I was planning on making a batch of classic vanilla ice cream, but I wanted to use some ingredients I had on hand which oddly enough ended up being a ton of pureed sweet potato (thank you Thanksgiving). In addition to the puree I added a helping of walnuts and some marshmallows for good measure. After folding everything together, and letting it freeze over night, I ended up with one of the dreamiest, most season-appropriate ice creams I’ve had in a while. It reminded me of rocky road ice cream, but tastes just like a sweet potato casserole; that’s pretty much a win-win in my book.

If you aren’t a fan of sweet potato go ahead and sub some fresh pumpkin puree, or omit the puree and add some white chocolate chips and crushed candy canes. This recipe is super flexible, so go forth and experiment with some tasty winter spices and ingredients. I’m pretty sure I will be making an eggnog version of this in the near future, but for now I have a small tub of sweet potato ice cream I need to get through.


NO-CHURN SWEET POTATO ICE CREAM

*This recipe came together from looking at a ton of other online recipes, many of which had the same ratio of heavy cream to condensed milk.

2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream

1, 14 oz Can Condensed Milk

3/4 Cup Sweet Potato Puree

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1/4 Teaspoon Cloves

1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg

2/3 Cup Chopped Walnuts

1 Cup Mini Marshmallows

Crushed Graham Crackers, optional garnish

equipment: medium bowl, whisk, standing mixer or another medium bowl, spatula, 1, 9x5'' loaf pan, plastic wrap


METHOD

In a medium bowl whisk the condensed milk, sweet potato puree, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg together until smooth.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or by hand with a whisk) whip heavy cream until medium peaks form. Fold potato mixture into the whipped cream, gently folding with a spatula. Once combined, add chopped walnuts, and marshmallows and fold a few times to incorporate.

Pour mixture either in a 9×5” loaf pan, or some other large container and cover tightly with plastic wrap making sure that 1 layer actually touches the ice cream this will help prevent crystallization. Wrap a second layer around the first and place ice cream in freezer until solid, about 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Remove ice cream from freezer about 15 minutes before serving, this will help it soften just a bit. Serve as is, or with a light garnish of crushed graham crackers.

 

Creamed Mushroom Crostini


Oh, the holidays! Such a lovely time of year, isn’t it? I say that not simply because of Christmas, but because of all the gatherings and festive parties that are about to take place. John and I are hoping (fingers crossed) to have a small gathering at out place, and just the thought of prepping the house, and making it all cozy comfy for our guests makes me SO excited. One of my favorite parts about hosting are those few hours right before people arrive. This is the time where I usually crank up the tunes, pour myself a little red wine, and put all the finishing touches on the snacks and appetizers.

Since the holidays are here, odds are you might be hosting a little party of your own. Now, some of the big questions I always ask are “what am I going to serve?” and “what will we sip on?” Well, the lovely people at Dark Horse Wine recently challenged to me to reinvent a classic holiday meal in an exciting and unexpected way and to pair it with a bottle of their lovely pinot noir. Now that I know what were are going to drink, I just needed to decided on some snacks. I’m already a lover of red wine, so I wanted to create an appetizer that would pair nicely with this specific, fruit-forward pinot noir. 

Truth be told, I’m a sucker for a classic green bean casserole, so I thought it would be fun to turn this classic side dish into an appetizer. I know that traditional casseroles use mushroom cream sauce, which oddly enough doesn’t have a lot of mushroom pieces in it. I wanted to flip that, so I packed this crostini with a lot of mushroom with a few peas, and a lovey layer of cream. The earthy flavor of the mushrooms pair very well with this particular pinot noir. And as far as appetizers go, this is a really simple yet satisfying snack to put out for your guests.

 

Thank you to Dark Horse Wine for providing me with your lovely wine which inspired this recipe. Be sure to follow Dark Horse Wine on Instagram or Twitter. All opinions, words, and images are my own.


CREAMED MUSHROOM CROSTINIS

Serves 12

2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1 Small Shallot, diced

10 Ounces Sliced Crimini Mushrooms

1/3 Cup Peas

1 Clove Garlic, minced

2 Sprigs of Thyme, leaves removed

1/4 Cup Heavy Cream

Salt and Pepper, to taste

12 Baguette Slices, 1/2 inch thick

Softened Butter, or Olive Oil

Fried onions, for garnish

Equipment: Large skillet, pastry brush, wood spoon or spatula


METHOD

Melt butter in a large skillet set to medium-hight heat. Add diced shallots and cook until slightly softened, about 1-2 minutes. Add in the sliced mushroom and cook, without stirring, for 2-3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add peas, and keep cooking the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes or until browned and tender. Add in garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Pour in cream and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until the cream has thickened a bit. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste.

Brush baguette slices with softened butter or oil and place on a skillet set to medium heat. Cook each side until golden brown. Remove from heat and top each slice with a spoonful of the sautéed mushrooms. Top each crostini with fried onions and serve immediately

Roasted Persimmons with rose scented cream


The weather in Seattle has been slowly changing in preparation for Winter. The days have been getting much colder and shorter, and most mornings I awake to a front yard that is covered with the loveliest layer of frost that glistens in the morning light. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, I am SO ready to start decorating our home with candles, wreaths, and soon, a very large Christmas tree. On my drive home last night I saw a Christmas tree lot filled with people and I immediately giggled with joy, turned on a holiday radio station, and had a little moment to myself.

While our house may not look that festive just yet, I guarantee you that it smells like cinnamon, cloves, and butter almost all the time. This fact has been especially true as of late since I have been experimenting with roasting these persimmons. I was big fan of persimmons already, but little did I know how fragrant these fruits would be once roasted. So if you are like me, and you want your house to smell all buttery and sweet, then you might have to make a batch of these roasted persimmons pretty soon.

Persimmons are quite an interesting fruit, aren’t they? As a kid I would typically eat them as is, but over the years I have learned how truly versatile these fruits truly are. In the markets you will typically find two types of persimmons, either Hachiya or ‘Fuyu’, which is also known as Fuyugaki. Both varieties are extremely delicious, but are consumed in two very different ways. For this recipe I used Fuyu persimmons which are the squat, tomato looking variety. They can be eaten raw, and are perfect roasted, tossed into a salad, or folded into some type of baked treat like these persimmon scones. The other common variety, Hachiya, look quite similar besides being longer and larger. This variety is just as delicious, although the Hachiya persimmons have to be very ripe when you eat them, otherwise you will get a mouthful of a very unpleasant flavor. So next time you are in the market, be sure to double check what variety you are getting, especially if you want to eat them raw. 

I am so glad I finally tried roasting persimmons because it is such a wonderful way to concentrate their flavors. I love how this dessert combines their sweet flavors with hints of vanilla, rose extract, with a little crunch from toasted pistachios. For the pictures I only use a half of a persimmon, but since they aren’t that big, I recommend you use an entire half per person, which will give you 6 servings. No matter how you serve these roasted beauties, I hope that you get to enjoy this new way to prepare such a lovely and unique fruit!


ROASTED PERSIMMONS

Inspired by TheKitchn

Serves 6

3 Fuyu Persimmons

3/4 Cup Hot Water

3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

1/2 a Vanilla Bean, seeds removed

1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

2 Cloves

Juice of 1/2 a Lime

Pinch Kosher Salt

 

ROSE SCENTED CREAM

1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream

1/4 Cup +1/2 Tablespoon Powder Sugar, or more to taste

3/4 Teaspoon Rose Water Extract

Pinch Kosher salt

Roughly Chopped Toasted Pistachios, for garnish

Equipment: Shallow baking dish, small bowl, tin foil, pastry brush, large bowl


METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 350F°

Wash persimmons, and carefully remove the green tops. Cut each persimmon in half horizontally and place in a shallow baking dish with the cut side up.

In a small bowl whisk together water, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, cinnamon, cloves, lime juice, and salt. Pour mixture over the persimmon, along with the vanilla bean pod. Cover the baking dish with tin foil and place into the oven. Roast persimmons, basting them with the syrup from the baking dish once or twice halfway, for 45-55 minutes or until tender.

While the persimmons are roasting, add the heavy cream, powdered sugar, rose water extract, and pinch of salt to a bowl. With a whisk, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Once persimmons are removed from the oven, turn on the broiler, remove the tin foil, and place the baking dish under the broiler until the tops of the persimmons are lightly browned.

To Serve, place a few spoonfuls of cream into each dish, placing a persimmon half right on top. Garnish dish with pistachios and drizzle of the syrup from the baking dish; serve right away.

 

Calabaza En Tacha


Whether it be a sweet bread, beer, ice cream, or even a latte, I’m 100% sure that if there’s pumpkin in it, I’ll eat it. There has to be about a million ways to incorporate the wonderful flavor of this gourd into any kind of meal, drink, or dessert. So, I thought why not give you just one more idea on how to enjoy that pumpkin you just picked up from the store? Today I am sharing with you my recipe for Calabza de tacha, or as others may call it, candied pumpkin. This is a very popular dessert that is commonly prepared for Día de los Muertos, and one that I grew up enjoying each fall with my family.

This dessert is filled with flavors of cinnamon, anise, orange, and brown sugar. The main idea behind this dish is poaching pumpkin slices to perfection in a sugar and water mixture. Once the pumpkin is cooked, you reduce the remaining liquid until you are left with a flavorful syrup to drizzle over your tender pumpkin. Traditionally, this dessert is made with piloncillo, which is an unrefined Mexican sugar that has been pressed into a cone-like shape. Piloncillo isn’t always the easiest to source, which (thankfully) wasn’t a problem for me because I had a big ol’ bag of Zulka’s brown sugar on hand. What’s great is that Zulka’s sugar doesn’t undergo a conventional refining process, so that means you are left with a product that tastes as close to fresh sugar cane as possible. And for this recipe, that’s exactly what you want.

Once your syrup is ready, you have a few different choices on how to enjoy your candied pumpkin. You can simply drizzle the syrup over the top, and enjoy your pumpkin slices as is, but my personal opinion is that this dish tastes best when a little warmed milk is added into the mix. In the recipe you’ll see that I also suggest using coconut milk as an alternative, and honestly that just isn’t for those who can’t have dairy. I really like the added flavor that the coconut milk brings to this dish. It might not be tåhe most traditional suggestion, but it tastes darn delicious, so I say do it!

IMG_6623.png

With Día de los Muretos celebrations beginning this Saturday, now is the time to start thinking of what delicious treats you’ll want to make to celebrate the lives of your loved ones. If you need a bit more inspiration be sure to check out my recipe for a classic Atole de Vainilla, or if your craving something flaky and buttery, be sure to check out these Pumpkin & Cream Cheese Empanadas.


CALABAZA EN TACHA

Serves 4-5

1, 2.5 -3 lbPumpkin, peeled or unpeeled

3 1/2 Cups (690 ml) Water

Peel and Juice of Half an Orange

3 Cinnamon Sticks

1 Star of Anise

1 Vanilla Bean Pod

1 Cup (225 g) Dark Brown Sugar, packed

1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1-1 1/2 Cups (235-355 ml) Coconut Milk, or Evaporated Milk

Equipment: Large pot, spoon, knife


METHOD 

Cut pumpkin in half from top to bottom, using a spoon to scrape out all of the seeds. Cut each half into wedges that are about 2” (5 cm) thick, then cut each of wedge into 3 pieces.

In a large pot, add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, add the pumpkin and let mixture come back up to a boil for a few seconds, then immediately reduce heat until just simmering.

Simmer the pumpkin pieces, stirring occasionally for 30-40 minutes, or until fork tender. Once soft, remove the pumpkin pieces with a slotted spoon and transfer to a separate bowl. Be sure to discard any pieces of pumpkin skin that may have fallen off during cooking process.

Bring remaining liquid to a boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a syrup that is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 20-30 minutes.

Gather 4-5 shallow bowls, and fill with desired amount of milk, or coconut milk. Divide the pumpkin pieces amongst each bowl and drizzle each with a bit of warm syrup.

 

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Empanadas


With Día de Los Muertos just around the corner, I wanted to share with you another recipe that is dear to my heart. There are seriously SO many wonderful and delicious recipes that are traditionally made for this holiday, so I actually had a hard time picking only three to share with you. If you missed my first recipe, be sure to check it out here. Now, for my second recipe I made empanadas filled with a spiced pumpkin and cream cheese filling. Sounds good, right? But I mean, seriously, who doesn’t just love empanadas? The only way I could image someone not liking these is if they never tried one before, in which case I say you should head into the kitchen now and whip up a batch because they really are that delicious. To give you an idea, empanadas are basically theses buttery and ever-so flaky pastry pockets, which are traditionally stuffed with either a sweet or savory filling. My memories of my first empanada takes me back to when I was a little girl. My mom and I were in Mexico, and I was begging her for some candy, and instead of giving me what I wanted, she handed me my first empanada, and I have been hooked on these things ever since.

These empanadas are filled with the flavors of Fall; pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a healthy serving of tangy cream cheese. Eating one of these pretty much tastes like you are biting into fall; so if that sounds good to you, then you have to make these. I ended up using 2 types of Zulka sugar for this recipe. I used the pure cane sugar for the crust and the brown sugar for the filling. I love that Zulka has a few different choices when it comes to sugar, because each types plays a different role when used in this recipe. In addition to that, since Zulka’s sugar in unrefined, it means their sugar is more flavorful than refined sugar, which means better tasting baked goods. So next time you’re in the market, I highly suggest you grab a bag and taste the difference for yourself.

Keep in mind that you can essentially fill these empanadas with whatever you like, so if this is a holiday you celebrate, I hope you can use this recipe in a way that honors your loved ones in your own special way.


PUMPKIN & CREAM CHEESE FILLING 

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg room temperature, room temperature

4 tablespoons brown sugar


METHOD

Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth, set aside.


DOUGH

Yields 16

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 stick very cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces

1/2 cup water, very cold

1 1/2 tablespoon pure cane sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Equipment: Rolling Pin, Baking Sheet, Parchment Paper, Pastry Brush, large Bowl, whisk, 4” biscuit cutter


METHOD

Place the flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk together to combine. Add the cubed butter to the bowl and using your hands, quickly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles the size of small peas.Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cold water over the mixture and fluff using two forks. Continue this process, one tablespoon at a time, until 5 tablespoons have been added.

If dough seems a bit dry, sprinkle a 1/2 teaspoon of water at a time until the dough resembles shaggy crumbs.Turn the dough onto a work surface and gently knead a few times until it comes together. Dived the dough into two pieces, flatten into disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Remove 1 piece of dough from refrigerator and let sit for 10 minutes before rolling it out. Dust your work surface generously with flour and roll out the dough until it’s about 1/8 inch thick.

Using a 4’’ biscuit cutter, or the rim of a glass, cut out 8 dough rounds. Place rounds in the refrigerator and repeat this process with the second half of the dough. Fill each cut out with 2 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin filling. One at a time, run a moistened finger along the edges of the dough and careful fold shut, pushing gently on the edges to seal. Use a fork to crease the edges of the empanada.

Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Place empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Once chilled, remove from freezer and brush each one with the egg wash. Mix 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon together, and sprinkle a generous amount over each empanada. Place in the oven, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

Enjoy empanadas once slightly cooled.

Atole De Vanilla


The arrival of October brings about the first of a long string of holidays, all beginning with the ever-so popular Halloween. But did you know that there’s another holiday that also begins on the same day? It’s called Dia De Los Muertos, a popular three-day Mexican holiday that celebrates the lives of those who have passed away. Those who celebrate this holiday traditionally build small altars for their loved ones, either at their home or at a local cemetery. These altars are constructed and adorned with vibrant flowers and family pictures, and even the favorite meals, drinks, or desserts of those commemorated. The tone of this holiday can take many forms for different people, but most importantly it is a time to celebrate the lives of their dearly departed.

Being of Mexican descent, I am quite familiar with this holiday, even though my immediate family doesn’t always celebrate it. When I was little, we took many trips to Mexico to visit my mother’s side of the family and I actually remember being there during this holiday. I was able to see many of the shrines in the local cemetery, all of which were wonderfully dressed with candles, flowers, and food. Many of the meals prepared for this holiday are very traditional, much like those my grandmother Ramona would make, so I found it especially fun to try to re-create some of my family recipes for this upcoming holiday. Preparing this recipe was actually a bittersweet experience for me, as my grandmother recently passed away. But I found a lovely sense of comfort in making it in her honor.

In the next two weeks I will be sharing two more recipes with you that are perfect for Día De Los Muertos, the first of which being this very popular hot drink called atole. During the colder months my grandmother would make this from time to time, so it naturally awakens many pleasant memories. It is traditionally made from masa (corn flour), water or milk, piloncillo, and other flavors, like vanilla, chocolate, etc. You may or may not be familiar with piloncillo, but it’s basically pure, unrefined sugar cane. It’s honestly quite difficult to source, so I used Zulka’s brown sugar which worked perfectly.

I’m not sure if you have heard about Zulka before, but I absolutely love their sugar. Using the highest quality sugar is very important to me as a baker, and Zulka has some of the best you can find. Their practices and cultivation methods are also impressive; they offer 100% pure, freshly harvested, never refined, non-GMO sugar. That’s about everything I want my sugar to be.

Now, this drink just resonates with comfort to me, but I realize that a lot of people probably haven’t tried it before. So just to give you an idea, this drink is served hot and the texture is slightly thick, almost like an eggnog. Its flavor is a lovely mash up of corn, vanilla, and brown sugar. I add a little bit of cinnamon for garnish to provide some extra flavor, but it tastes just as good without it. Stay tuned for the next two recipes in celebration of Día De Los Muertos!


ATOLE DE VAINILLA

Serves 4

4 Cups Milk

1/4 Cup Maseca

1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, or more to taste

5 stick of cinnamon, divided

Seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod

1-2  Pinches Kosher Salt

Equipment: 3 quart pan, whisk, fine mesh sieve 


METHOD

A dash of Cinnamon and/or 4 cinnamon sticks, for garnish

In a 3 quart pot add the milk, maseca, and sugar, whisking until no lumps remain. Add in 1 cinnamon stick, seeds from vanilla bean pod, and salt.

Set pot to medium heat and bring to a boil while whisking constantly. Once boiling, continue whisking until mixture has slightly thickened, about 2- 3 minutes.

Remove pot from the heat and pour the atole through a fine mesh sieve before serving.

Garnish each cup with a cinnamon stick and a light dusting of cinnamon.

Italian Plum Compote


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These past few days have felt extremely fall-ish to me. The sun is starting to set much earlier, and the forest which flows throughout our neighborhood is beginning to shift in color. Trees that were once graced with bright green leaves are now adorned with splashes of vibrant yellow and fiery red. And now the evenings are finally getting cold enough for me to rescue my winter jackets from the tiny suitcases they have been living in for the past year. Boots, sweaters, beanies; Fall, I’m ready for you. What excites me most about the change of the seasons are all of the upcoming holidays. My birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas; this is the time of year where many cozy indoor dinners and celebrations shall be had with friends and family. Oh, and not to mention that pie-baking will soon become a weekly routine in our home. Ah! I’m already getting way too excited just thinking about it all of it. But let’s talk about these tasty Italian plums, shall we? I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but when John and I first moved into our current house, we did so only on the basis of a few Craigslist photos and a trusted word from our friends who checked it out. So imagine my surprise when we arrived and found, among many other great things, a beautiful Italian plum tree right smack in the middle of our backyard. Luckily for me, I already love these plums, so having a huge tree to feast on this summer was such a blessing. 

I noticed my plum tree was getting a bit thin last week, so I ended up climbing it and picked as many plums as I could. Well, at least whatever plums the neighborhood squirrels hadn’t gotten to yet. I typically eat these plums as a snack, but I one morning I really had the urge to jazz up my bowl of yogurt, so I ended up making this plum compote. You can use brown or white sugar for this recipe, but I found that using good quality maple syrup tastes the best. I was lucky enough to get my hands on what I believe is the best maple syrup I have ever tasted. I have the people atHatchery to thank for that. They have such an amazing selection of culinary items, so if you are looking for some new products to add to your kitchen arsenal, then just click here. This particular maple syrup is made by a husband and wife who live in Weston, Vermont, and they make this syrup from the trees that reside on their very own property. After tasting this maple syrup, I feel as if I can envision how beautiful their trees must look and smell like because their maple syrup has such a distinct and unique flavor. I am always eager to use products that are made by people who are truly passionate about their craft, and this maple syrup is proof of this couples’ dedication to just that.

This compote is incredibly easy to make, and tastes amazing when spooned over just about anything. Yogurt, waffles, pancakes, ice cream, the options are endless. I ended up adding a hearty amount to my yogurt the other day, and topped it off with some granola I had on hand. Toasted nuts would work just as well, but keep it simple and use whatever you have on hand and enjoy.


ITALIAN PLUM COMPOTE

Yields about 1 cup

7-8 Italian plums, seeds removed and quartered

1 Orange

3 Tablespoon good quality Maple Syrup

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1/4 Teaspoon Cardamom

Pinch Kosher Salt

Equipment: 8” Inch skillet, slotted spoon


METHOD

Squeeze the juice of one orange into the skillet, along with the maple syrup, spices and salt. Set heat to medium and gently stir mixture until sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to gently simmer (adjusting heat as needed) for about 5 minutes, then add quartered plums.

Continue to let the mixture simmer for another 5-7 minutes, or until the plums are tender, but still maintain their shape. If the liquid appear more watery than syrupy, remove plums with a slotted spoon and continue to simmer the liquid until a slightly syrupy texture is achieved, then pour over plums. Allow compote to cool to room temperature before placing in an airtight container.

Jalapeño, Cheddar & Onion Biscuts


When I was little I loved helping my mom prepare dinner. I would often beg her to let my do anything that would be considered dangerous for a girl my age, like using her food processor, or chopping vegetables. Luckily my mom was fully aware of my desperation to help, so she would usually find something for me to do that obviously had a very low threshold of danger, like making biscuits. The funny thing was that these “homemade” biscuits I would make came from a long tube – you know the kind where you pull the tab and the container pops open? I seriously loved opening those things. I’ve stayed pretty committed to those tubes of dough until I finally tried my hand at making some from scratch a few years ago, and boy do I wish I would’ve done that sooner.

I love the fact that biscuits are pretty easy to make, and the lovely people at King Authur Flour are making it even easier with their super convenient self-rising flour. This flour will make your biscuits light and fluffy, and since it’s self rising, you are pretty much guaranteed a perfect biscuit every time. There are a few extra tips that King Authur shared with me to make my biscuits even better and I included them below because I wanted to share them with you too!

Be Gentle: Once the liquid is added to the dough, be sure to avoid overworking it.

Chill Out: Make sure that whatever fat you use in your recipe is very, very cold. This will help make your biscuits even flakier.

Use a biscuit cutter: Keep you cuts clean! Dip your biscuit cutter in flour between cuts, this will help the biscuits rise higher.

Freeze before baking: Freeze your biscuits ups to 20 minutes before baking, the will improve texture and rise.

I hope these tips help you as much as they helped me! Now you are only 6 ingredients away from making a batch of savory biscuits that will knock your socks off!


JALAPEÑO ,CHEDDAR, & ONION BISCUITS

Recipe adapted from King Author Flour

Yields about 12

2 Cups (8oz) King Authur Self-Rising Flour

1/4 Cup (2 0z) cold butter, cut into pats

2/3 cup cold buttermilk

4 oz shredded cheddar cheese

1/3 cup (2 0z) SlicePickeled Jalapenos

3 Tablespoons sliced green onions

Equipment: Large Bowl, Baking Sheet, Parchment Paper, 2” biscuit cutter, Cooling Rack


METHOD

Preheat oven to 425F° with rack positioned to the upper third of your oven. **note if freezing biscuits before, begin preheating your oven once they are in the freezer.

Line your baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.

Place flour and butter in a medium bowl and rub the butter between your fingers until the butter breaks up into small pieces. *Alternatively, you can use a food processor with a metal blade attachment. Simply add in the butter and pulse a few times at 1-second intervals until the butter is cut into smaller pea sized pieces. Then return mixture to your large bowl once butter is cut.

Add the cheese and jalapeños, tossing a few times in the flour and butter mixture. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Mix with a spoon until the dough clumps together and pulls away from the sides of the bowls.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured with all purpose flour, and fold the dough over on itself several times, using more flour if the dough is sticky.

Roll or pat the dough into a 5” x 8”1/2 rectangle that is about 1/2” to 3/4” inch thick. Using a 2” biscuit cutter, dipping in flour in between cuts to reduce sticking. Cut out 11-12 biscuits, gathering and reshaping scrapes as necessary.

Place the biscuits on your baking sheet an place them in the freezer for up to 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can put them in right away, the choice is totally yours.

Bake the biscuits for 15-18 minutes, or until golden. remove from oven and serve immediately

Enjoy!

 

Blackberry Peach Buckle


Since I grew up in California I was never in fear of a time where the sun wouldn’t show its face, but as I got older I quickly realized that I took many of those warm sunny days for granted. I kind of regret that now because California, although sometimes a bit too hot for me, is really such a lovely and wonderful place to live. I really do miss it. Since moving back to Seattle I am fully aware of the fact that summer won’t last forever, so I am doing my best to enjoy every minute of it. There are so many wonderful things to do in this state, so John and I often find ourselves acting like tourists, trying to make the most of each day because we both don’t want to take one day of this gorgeous weather for granted. If we only have time for a short walk around the lake, we’ll do it. Or, if we need some time to relax and wind down from the day we try to head down to a waterfront bar were we can grab a drink and watch the sunset. We made a promise to each other to be outside as much as we can and we are going to try our best to do just that.

Another way I’ve been enjoying the Seattle summer is by eating all of the wonderful produce that’s in season! Berries, stone fruits, tomatoes, I swear everything I love is in season right at this very moment. With berries taking over my refrigerator as of late, I have been making my share of cobblers and crisps, but I wanted to try something different. I began searching for other ways to use my insane amount of fruit and I eventually found a few recipes like crumbles, grumps, and buckles. What the heck is a gump you ask? Well, check out The Huffington Post because they explain it all. 

The one recipe that caught my eye was a berry buckle, which is a cake with a bunch of berries dumped right in the middle. Sounds amazing doesn’t it? There so many versions out there, some with a streusel topping, others with the berries mixed in as opposed to dumped in the middle. Of course I wanted to put my own spin on this classic treat so I made a batter using both all purpose flour and cornmeal. The added texture and flavor of the cornmeal really makes this a cake/cornbread hybrid, which I am really into. I would say that this recipe leans more towards the cake side than cornbread side in terms of flavor, so if you prefer more of a cornbread vibe then simply swap out 1 tablespoon of flour for cornmeal and you will be well on your way to a slice of comfort.

Feel free to use any berries you have on hand for this recipe; I am sure blueberries and raspberries would taste just as delicious. I hope you are all having a lovely summer!


SIMPLE STREUSEL TOPPING

1/4 Cup Rolled Oats

1/4 Cup Spelt Flour

11/2 Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar

2 Tablespoons Cold Butter 

1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Equipment: 1 Medium Sized Bowl, fork, or whisk


METHOD

With a fork, or a whisk, combine all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Once thoroughly mixed, using your hands, rub the butter with you fingers until crumbly.

Place this into the fridge until ready to use.


BLACKBERRY AND PEACH BUCKLE

Yields one 8-inch Cake

·1/2 Cup , plus 1 Tablespoon All Purpose Flour

·1/4, plus 2 Tablespoon Cornmeal

·1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

·1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

·1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter, melted

·1/4 Cup Sugar

·1 Large Egg

·3/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

·1/2 Cup Buttermilk

·1 Pint (6 oz) Blackberries

·1/2 a Peach, thinly sliced.

Equipment: 8” Inch skillet, like this one from FINEX, whisk, spatula, 3 medium bowls


METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 350 F° and lightly grease skillet or pan with butter and a light dusting of flour.

Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, butter, and vanilla until smooth. While whisking add the buttermilk until combined.

With a spatula, add the dry to the wet a gently mix until just combined. Fold in blackberries and pour batter evenly into the prepared pan. Arrange sliced peach over the top of the batter, and sprinkle with streusel topping.

Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Chamomile Tea Loaf


Walking through my mother's garden proves to be a constant reminder that Spring is in full swing. Many of her trees are just a few weeks shy of letting me raid them of all their fruits, and her wild flowers seem to be sprouting up in every nook and cranny possible. Last week, I went deep into her garden and found a small shady spot where I was able to take a much needed break. I just sat there for a while, watching all of the humming birds and monarch butterflies enjoy a quick meal all because of my mother's hard work. I appreciate the effort she puts into her garden, I know it's not an easy hobby, but she loves it so much. And let's be honest, I have nothing but support for her since she always lets me walk out the door with an armful of fresh flowers and produce. Just the other day I realized she had some chamomile growing in a corner of her garden. I cut a few blossoms and threw them into some hot water to make some tea, and as the flowers were steeping, I starting dreaming of other ways I could use chamomile. There are so many ways to implement the flavors of tea into a recipe, so after a bit of debating, I decided to infuse the wonderful flavor of chamomile straight into this tea loaf.

So how does one infuse tea into a baked good you might ask? Well, as I was doing a bit of research I came across this blog that broke down the different ways to get the most tea flavor into whatever you are baking. All of Stefani's helpful tips come from Robert Wemischner (author of Cooking with Tea). He tried grinding tea and mixing that directly into the batter, steeping tea bags in hot milk (if recipe called for milk), or simply steeping tea bags in butter. All of these methods didn't work out too well, but what did work, was steeping the actual tea leaves in melted butter, and I couldn't agree more.

Making a infused butter might take an extra step or two, but the result is an utterly fragrant, and delicious tea infused baked treat, like this chamomile tea loaf. Moist on the inside and a little crisp on the outside, this loaf is so good. It's sweet enough to be enjoyed on its own, but I also included a recipe for a minneola & honey whipped cream, which adds even more flavor. I made this loaf the other day and took it to my mom, where we each enjoyed a slice while siting in her garden. It was such a peaceful moment, and I couldn't have been more thankful for it.

On another note I am SO happy to announce that my blog was nominated by Saveur magazine for Best Designed Blog. This nomination is such an honor, and I am so incredibly thankful to be nominated amongst such freaking talented people. Voting ends in 5 days, so if you have time, I would LOVE it if you would cast a vote in my favor. Click here to vote.


CHAMOMILE LOAF

Yields 1 9x5 loaf

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, plus 2 tablespoons

1/3 Cup + 2 Teaspoons Loose Chamomile Tea

3/4 Cup Evaporated Cane Sugar, plus a bit extra for sprinkling

2 Large Eggs

2 3/4 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Table Salt

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1 Cup Milk

1 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla bean paste, or extract

Zest of 1 Lemon 

Sliced fruit for garnish, optional


MINNEOLA & HONEY WHIPPED CREAM

1 Cup Heavy Cream

4 Tablespoons Minneola Juice

4 Teaspoons Honey

Equipment: Standing/hand held mixer, 1) 1 9x 5 loaf pan, parchment paper, strainer


METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 350 F and position rack in the center. Grease and lightly flour pan, tapping out excess. Line loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper, lay the paper across the width of the pan, letting a bit hang over.

In a medium sauce pan melt butter on low heat. Once melted add in chamomile and let steep on very low heat for about 5 minutes (do not let boil). Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve and into a separate bowl. Check butter to make sure you have 3/4 cup (see note above).

If a bit under simply melt a little more butter until you have 3/4 cup. Place butter in refridgerator to firm up before using.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and set aside

In a large bowl beat fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla paste, and lemon zest.

In four additions, alternate adding the flour and milk into the butter and egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. After the last addition of flour, beat mixture until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and place in the oven to bake fro 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center. Remove from heat and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the whipped cream, place all ingredients in a bowl and beat until medium peaks form. Once tea loaf has cooled, serve with a dollop of whipped cream, and fresh fruit.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Muffins


I can see the signs of a new season everywhere, from my mother's blooming jasmines to the ever-lengthening days. Spring is here and I welcome it with arms wide open, especially now that strawberries have arrived! Well, at least in Southern California for now. Local strawberry stands are popping up all over town eager to sell their bright and juicy delights, and I couldn't be happier. I have quite a few ideas as to how I want to use these berries during their season, and I thought these muffins would be the perfect place to start. I debated on whether or not I should have added a frosting to these and treated them like a cupcake, but I really wanted the sweetness of the strawberries to shine through. So here you have it, a delicious muffin that is jam-packed with Spring's finest.

This recipe is actually an adaptation from Izy's book, Top With Cinnamon. I doubt there is a food lover out there who doesn't know about her amazing blog. She is a very talented lady, whose site is filled with inspiring recipes and beautiful photography. I was quite happy to get my hands on her book, and when I did I happily made her dutch apple cake, which was SO satisfying. I used this as the foundation for my muffin recipe and only made a few changes, the most notable of which being the addition of lemon zest and the use of fresh strawberries for apples.

These muffins are moist and balanced with just the right amount of sweetness; but most importantly they are surprisingly easy to make. Time has been of the essence for me lately, so these muffins are perfect for those looking to produce a batch of baked goodies in little to no time. And besides, who could reject a classic seasonal fruit muffin recipe that's an absolute breeze to make?


STRAWBERRY MUFFINS

Yields 12

1 Stick Unsalted Butter

1/2 Cup Evaporated Cane Sugar, plus a bit extra for sprinkling

1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar

2 Large Egg

2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

3/4 Cup Milk

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Zest of 1 Lemon 

1 Cup Diced Strawberries

Equipment: Standing/hand held mixer, 1, 12 cup cupcake pan, parchment paper, and a pastry brush.


METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 350 F° and position rack in the center. Lightly grease each of the cups with butter and lightly dust with flour, taping out the excess.

In a large bowl beatbutter and both sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add in baking powder, salt, vanilla, and lemon zest.

Mix in half of the flour, followed by half of the milk, then in two more additions mix in remaining flour and milk. Once just combined, fold in diced strawberries.

Dived batter evenly amongst the 12 molds, and sprinkle a bit of sugar over the top of each muffin. Place tray in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the a tooth pick comes out clean when inserted into the center.

Allow muffins to fully cool in the pan, before serving.

Enjoy!

Ricotta & Cardamom citrus cake


Sometimes I find myself bursting with creativity, and other times I find myself struggling for a clear perspective on what I want to bake next, or how I want the pictures of it to look. Most of the time I try to push through, but then I only end up more frazzled, which helps no one (just ask John). I have realized that most of the time I just need to give myself a change of scenery as a way to help me get through these seemingly stagnant times. A trip to the farmers market, a long walk, or just looking through my endless stacks of cookbooks and food magazines always seem to help me clear my mind.

Well, I was having a bit of a rough week and I wasn't sure what I wanted to make next. I had a few recipes on my mind, but nothing that I was really excited about. But, thanks to my beloved Bon Appétit that changed in an instant. I was reading through my latest edition and came across this amazing ricotta and raspberry cake, so I made it and fell in love upon first bite. I was tempted to make this cake again, but this time around I wanted to use up all of the wonderful winter citrus I had on hand, so I after playing around with the flavors a bit, I came up with this beauty.

This cake is incredibly moist with the perfect hint of cardamom. When making this cake I left the rhine on the orange slices which imparts a lovely bitterness to the cake. If that's something you prefer not to do, feel free to cut off the rhine, I promise it will be delicious either way.

I was especially excited to make this cake, because it gave me a chance to use my new batter bowl from Le Creuset. I loved this bowl the moment it arrived, but even more so when I actually got to use it. The size of it, the convenient handle, it really is such a beautiful bowl to have on hand, especially when making cakes that only need one bowl like this one.

I am thrilled to say that the people at Le Creuset are giving me another bowl to give you! To enter simply submit your email address and leave a comment below telling me what you would create using this bowl. Included below is also an option for a bonus entry, just follow both Le Cresuet and Thebrokenbread on Instagram. Good Luck!


RICOTTA & CARDAMOM CAKE

Yields one 9- inch cake

For the Pan

3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1/4 Cup (115g) Brown Sugar, packed

6 Thin Orange Slices, Cara Cara and/or Blood Oranges

 

For the Cake

1 1/2 Cup (180g) All-Purpose Flour

1 Cup (200g) Evaporated Cane Sugar

3/4 Teaspoon Cardamom

2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

3/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

3 Large Eggs

1 1/2 Cup (375 g) Ricotta Cheese

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

2 Tablespoons Fresh Orange Juice

1/2 Teaspoon Orange Zest

1 Stick (112 g) Unsalted Butter, melted

Equipment: 1,  9x2″ round cake pan, small saucepan, whisk, 1large bowl, microplane zester, 1 medium bowl, spatula


METHOD

Preheat oven to 350°F (180 C°). Lightly grease the edges of a 9″ cake pan with nonstick spray or butter.

For the pan, place 3 tablespoons butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and cook on low heat just until the butter melts. Whisk the mixture a few times until smooth and pour into the cake pan, making sure that it evenly coats the bottom; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cardamom, baking powder, and salt together until combined.

In another bowl, whisk eggs, ricotta, vanilla, orange juice, and zest until smooth. Once combined fold the ricotta mixture into the dry ingredients with a spatula until just blended. Then, gently fold in melted butter.

Place orange slices on the bottom of the cake pan, arranging the slices to fit. Carefully pour in the cake batter over the top of the oranges and place in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 15-20 minutes before removing from the pan. Invert the cake onto a plate and serve once completely cooled.

Storage: Carefully wrap leftover caking in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container. The cake will keep for 5-7 days.

Tiramisu for deux


Ah, Valentine’s Day. When I was a little girl I loved this holiday. I mean what’s not to like? Up until 5th grade I remember having the best parties at school, where we had games and a card swap (which was my favorite), and reveled in sneaking a little “I love you” or “let’s kiss” inscribed on those heart-shaped candies. It was glorious. And although I still find joy in Valentine’s Day, its.

It seems like as soon as the day after New Year’s, every store begins to fill their shelves with a red and pink array of flowers, chocolates, and jewelry to remind everyone that Valentine’s Day is on its way. And though it might sound a bit silly, I am actually quite thankful for the visual reminder. Because it is all too often that life, work, or a bad mood can get in the way of how I treat John, yet each time I see those giant stuffed tigers that say “I’m wild for you,” I smile and just think about how lucky I am to have him. And so this holiday has a deeper significance for me, reminding me to love John not just on Valentine’s Day but every day.

This year, I wanted to celebrate my love for John by making something really meaningful. Tiramisu is not only one of his favorites desserts of all time, but we also enjoyed it together on the last day of our honeymoon. So at the first bite, this simple dessert can instantly transport us back to that tiny cafe in Paris, where we were making each minute last as long as possible because we didn’t want to go back home. I knew he’d love it.

With this recipe, I decided to use a whipped cream and mascarpone filling as opposed to a traditional approach that would require a few egg yolks. Thankfully, without the yolks, this recipe is just as delicious and quite a bit easier to make.

With this recipe, I decided to use a whipped cream and mascarpone filling as opposed to a traditional approach that would require a few egg yolks. Thankfully, without the yolks, this recipe is just as delicious and quite a bit easier to make.

 

TIRAMISU 

Yields 2


1/2 Cup Strong Coffee

6 Teaspoons Marsala Wine, depending on desired strength

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste

1 Tablespoon,  plus 1 1/4 Teaspoon Sugar

Pinch salt

1/2 Cup (4 oz) Mascarpone, room temperature

4 Italian LadyFingers

Cocoa Powder, for dusting

Equipment: 2, 7 oz or 8 oz cups, fine mesh sieve, whisk, spatula


METHOD

In a small bowl, combine coffee, and marsala wine, adding more or less marsala depending on desired strength, and set bowl aside.

In a small bowl mix together heavy cream, vanilla bean paste, sugar, and a pinch of salt until combined. Then, begin to whisk the cream until stiff peaks form; set bowl aside.

In another bowl, smooth out the mascarpone cheese 2-3 time with a spatula. Add a bit of the whipped cream into the mascarpone cheese, and gently fold a few times until just combined. Add remaining whipped cream, folding until combined. *Note: Mascarpone cheese curdles very easily, so try to fold mixture as few times as possible.

There is enough cream to create 3 layers in each cup, so to assemble, begin by placing 1/6 of the cream in the bottom of each cup. Then, break the lady fingers in half and quickly dip them into the coffee mixture. Place 2 pieces (1 broken in half) into each cup. Place another layer of cream on top of the lady fingers in each cup, topping that layer with a dusting of cocoa powder.

Repeat this process a second time and divide remaining cream between the cups, dusting the top layer of cream with a generous amount of cocoa powder.

Cover each cup with a bit of plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 3-4 hours, or overnight. Remove from fridge about 15 minutes before serving, this will give the cream a chance to soften.

Enjoy!

 

Spiced Pear Coffee Cake


I saw this recipe for an apple coffee cake on Melissa’s website, ThefauxMartha, a while back, and I promised myself that I was going to make this. I currently have a long list of recipes that I want to try, but since I write most of these lists by hand, I typically end up misplacing them. I have this awful habit where I will often grab anything to jot down a burst of inspiration, then I usually tuck in some “safe” place. At this point in my life I have found this bad habit of mine to be more humorous than anything else. For instance, just the other day I happened to pick up a cookbook that I haven’t touched in while and the second I opened it, out fell two of my missing/lost recipe lists! It was covered front to back with my horrible chicken-scratch writing, but legible enough for me to read about a dozen recipes that I wanted to make just a few months ago. As I was looking at my lists, I quietly mumbled, “well that’s where I put them”,  like I should have know better. Then I just shrugged my shoulders and carried on with my day. What am I doing?! I know, I know, I should really digitize all of this stuff, but I just love writing physical notes. There is something really special about having something handwritten, like old family recipes for instance. Those are seriously one of my favorite things to collect. For now, I guess I will just need to be a little more organized from here on out.

One of those notes that I recently rediscovered was actually a reminder to make this recipe. I am quite thankful I came across this when I did because this random note gave me the nudge I needed to finally make this coffee cake. It’s moist, sweet, and packed with fresh fruit. I love coffee cake, but add a little fruit in there and I will definitely cut myself a slice that is way too big for my plate. Melissa used fresh apples in her cake, but since I have been on a pear binge lately I thought I would use those instead. I only made a few changes to this already delicious recipe, the most notable of which is that I threw a ton of spices into it because I was really craving a spice cake.

This coffee cake is a classic recipe which I see myself using for years to come. Substitute the spices, and/or fruits inside and make this coffee cake your own. If you have apples on hand, head over to theFauxMartha to see her original recipe. I just absolutely love her blog, for not only is it beautiful, but her recipes are always spot on.

SPICED PEAR COFFEE CAKE


2 1/2 cups diced pears, divided, I used red bartlett

1 Stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

1 Cup All-purpose flour

1 Cup Spelt Flour

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon table Salt

1 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg, freshly grated if available

1/4 Teaspoon allspice

1/2 Teaspoon Cardamom

1/4 Teaspoon Ground Pepper

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/2 Light Brown Sugar, packed

2 Large Eggs

1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Sour Cream

 

STREUSEL TOPPING


4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, room temperature

1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour

1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, packed

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon 

Pinch of table salt

Powdered Sugar, for dusting


For the filling: Peel, core and dice pears. Place in a small bowl and set aside.

For the Streusel topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. With your fingers, rub butter into mixture until crumbly; set aside.

For the cake pre-heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9-inch tube pan and set aside. In a medium bowl add in both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and all spices. Whisk these ingredients until very well combined; set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter, and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add eggs, one at a time. Once mixed, add in vanilla, beating to combine. Be sure to scrape down the sides as needed.

In three additions, alternate adding the flour and sour cream into the butter and egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. After the last addition of flour, beat mixture until just combined. Spoon about half of the batter into prepared tube pan. Scatter 2 cups of the diced pear over the top of the batter. Melissa recommends not placing any fruit against the pan’s edge as “they may stick or burn if not fully encased in batter.” Pour remaining batter over the top of the pears, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Before adding the streusel, add in remaining 1/2 cup of pears, tossing to combine. Sprinkle streusel evenly over the top of the batter. Place cake in oven and bake until golden, about 40-45 minutes. Once removed from oven, allow cake to properly cool before removing from pan. Use a a knife or an offset spatula to loosen the cake from tin. Use two spatulas to completely remove cake from pan, then gently transfer to cake platter or plate. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Cake can be stored at room temperature, covered, for up to 3- 4 days. Recipe Adapted from ThefauxMartha, who adapted from Martha Stewart

Persimmon & Walnut Scones


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I wanted to start of by saying THANK YOU!

I am so thankful for all of the love and support I have received over the past few weeks. Your kind words truly motivate me to keep on pursuing my dreams. So if you are new to this space, or if you visit from time to time, I want to let you know how thankful I am for taking time out of your day to come and explore my recipes and photographs.

Now, moving on to these tasty scones I have for you….

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Persimmons are one of my favorite fruits, and each winter I eagerly await their arrival. A lot of homes in my neighborhood have persimmon trees, many of which are filled with bunches of small orange orbs, waiting to be enjoyed. I remember when I was little, my mother taught me that you can place these fruits in the freezer, and once frozen, cut of their tops and enjoy them like a little bowl of ice cream. It pretty much blew my mind back then, and here I am 20 some-odd years later, still a fan of frozen persimmon. With persimmons on the brain, I though it would be great to dice them up and put them into my favorite scone recipe. I ended up adding some chopped walnuts for crunch, and a few spices for extra flavor, both of which combine to make this my latest breakfast obsession. Now, breakfast can be hit or miss for me. Sometimes I wake up incredibly hungry, and other times I end up enjoying my first meal well past lunch time. Since my morning meals fluctuate so much I often appreciate having something small to snack on, and lately these scones have been fitting the bill.

You can enjoy these scones straight out of the oven, or you can add little bit of softened butter and a drizzle of honey. Either way, a batch of these is the perfect companion for a cup of hot coffee or tea. What I especially love about these scones is, contrary to what some might think, they’re actually very easy to make. If you want to have these in the morning, simply prepare all of your ingredients the night before and you will be enjoying fresh scones in about 20 minutes. 

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Hope you enjoy these as much as I do! Also, if you’re looking for more scone flavors be sure to check out my Blueberry Buttermilk scones.


PERSIMMON SCONES

Yields 8 

2 Cups Unbleached Flour

1/4 Cup Sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

1 3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1/4 Teaspoon Cardamom

6 Tablespoons Cold Unsalted Butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 Cup Fuyu Persimmons, peeled and diced

3/4 Cup Buttermilk

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla extract

1/3 Cup chopped Walnuts

1 Egg lightly beaten, or a bit of heavy cream from brushing

Equipment: Large Bowl, Baking Sheet, Parchment Paper, Pastry Brush, Cooling Rack


METHOD

Preheat oven to 425F° and make sure that your rack is positioned in the center of your oven.

Line your baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.

Place flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom into a medium bowl and whisk together until combined.

Once combined, add in cubed butter and rub the butter between your fingers until the butter breaks up into small pieces.

Add diced persimmons and chopped walnuts into the flour and butter mixture, tossing to coat. Whisk vanilla into buttermilk pour into mixture. With 2 forks, begin to fluff the mixture until the dough begins to come together in thick clumps. If dough seems a bit sticky, dust with a bit of flour until it becomes easier to work with.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and press the dough into a circle that is about 8 inches in diameter. Cut dough into 8 equal wedges and place onto prepared baking sheet.

Brush the tops of the scones with a little bit of the whisked egg , or heavy cream, and sprinkle each slice with sugar.

Place in the oven and bake for about 14-16 minutes, or until firm and golden, making sure to rotate baking sheet halfway through the baking time.

Let cool on pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

(adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking)