EXTRAORDINARY BLUEBERRY COFFEECAKE















This coffeecake is moist and luscious.

Cake:

1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cup sour cream
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Topping:
1 cup brown sugar (or 1 cup white sugar plus 1 1/2 teaspoons molasses)
1/4 cup butter, unsalted
1/4 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Alternating, add flour and sour cream. Fold in blueberries. Pour into well-buttered cake pan (9 in round). For the topping, cream butter and sugar. Add flour to form a lumpy mixture. Spread on top of the batter. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The topping should melt and partially sink into the batter.

RAW VEGAN CARROT CAKE















CAKE
5c shredded carrot
1 1/2c shredded coconut
1c pine nuts
1/2-1c dates (to taste. i like sweeter, but then again, im planning to die from diabetes)
1/4c raisins
grated peel of one lemon
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 tablespoons psyllium powder (plant husk used as fiber supplement, helps bind and set raw vegan "baked" goods)
1/4 c coconut oil

Using a food processor and an S blade, blend the carrots until finely pureed. Set aside.

Process pine nuts, raisins and dates until creamy, adding water if needed. Mix in carrots, Add coconut, spices, lemon grating, and psyllium.

Push "batter" into cake pan (springform highly recommended). Let chill for two hours or until set.

FROSTING
coconut oil
powdered sugar (i used regular but id like to try date sugar)
maple syrup
walnuts (optional)

I didn't measure anything for thus, but it's the best part so make a lot. ;-)
I worked powdered sugar into the coconut oil until the mix was more like crumbs than powder. Then I added maple syrup until the goo was sufficiently maple-iscious. Coconut oil goes soft at room temp, so I let the frosting resolidify (10-15min) in the fridge before spreading. After frosting the cake, I coated it with whole or ground walnuts, and then put the whole shebang back in the fridge another 15 min for the frosting to harden.


FRESH PEACH ICE CREAM










Ingredients:
3lbs extremely ripe peaches
1/2 c. sugar
1/3-1/2 c. full fat plain yogurt
Fresh peaches and basil for garnish (optional)

Blend till smooth before freezing in an ice cream machine.

FRIED SQUASH BLOSSOMS STUFFED WITH GARLIC-BASIL GOAT CHEESE



I've never cooked with squash blossoms before, but when I spied them at the Ferry Building this Saturday, my quest was clear. A brief consultation with The Google yielded several recipes, which I tinkered to accommodate the contents of my shelf. The result: yum.

The Batter

1 cup all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup-ish beer (I used a touch more...depends on the humidity. You want the batter smooth but not thin.)

The Stuffing

1/4 cup fresh cheese (I used Bodega Goat Cheese fromage blanc, but ricotta would work too)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon-ish each salt and pepper
1 tablespoon fresh basil (Aside: I suddenly have a ton of basil in sweet Italian, Thai, and lemon varieties. Help me eat them.)
16ish large squash blossoms, washed
Canola or peanut oil for frying

Prepare the batter. Sift together dry ingredients, then whisk in beer or cold water until smooth. Cover and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Leftover batter can be stored for up to two days.

In a bowl combine cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil. Open the blossoms and spoon about one 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture into the center of each. Twist the top of each blossom together to close. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Pour the oil into a skillet to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat over high heat until a small cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden brown within seconds.

Dip each stuffed blossom into the batter, then carefully slip into the hot oil. Cook until golden on all sides, about three minutes total cooking time. Transfer with a slotted utensil to paper towels to drain briefly. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

These are wicked tasty even without the filling, if you wish to veganize the recipe. Orion tells me they made these in his cooking class in Italy, but that he liked this recipe better. :-)

DAL AND BHUTANESE RED RICE


Dal and rice were the flavor of my childhood. Mmm, childhood.

I tinker with quantities depending on what is on hand -- onions and carrots add extra sweetness, celery adds tang-- but this is my skeleton recipe. A squirt of fresh lime/lemon juice, or a tablespoon of ghee (Indian clarified butter) added at the end is delicious.

Ingredients:
1 cup red split lentils, rinsed
4 cups water
1-2 medium onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 carrot, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. turmeric
1-2 dried hot chilies
1-3 Tbs. garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. fennel seed (optional)
fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
2 Tbs. oil (olive or canola recommended)
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Procedure:

In a saucepan, combine lentils, water, turmeric, celery, and carrots. Bring to boil, skimming off the foam that inevitably develops no matter how many times you rinse the lentils beforehand. Grr.

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, add oil, cumin, fennel, bay leaf, and chiles. Sautee on medium heat for 30ish seconds to bring out the flavor of the spices, but taking care not to burn them. Add onion and sautee until clear, about 8 minutes. Add spice and onion mixture to lentils when saucepan begins a rolling boil.

Cook lentils until soft, about 20 minutes. Add extra water to desired thickness as lentils expand (according to Dad, serving thicker dal is considered a mark of affluence, since one might thin this staple soup to serve many mouths in hard times). Using an eggbeater, whisk lentils to smooth texture. Reduce heat to low, adding tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, salt, and pepper to taste.

Elsewhere, steam rice. You can figure that out yourself. Enjoy immediately, or considerably later -- lentils are one of those magical Indian dishes whose flavors are improved the second day, making for excellent leftovers. You can make a load to freeze and reheat dal (gasp!) if you're camping out for a long period and want several simple, satisfying, and easily stored meals (for example, a week at Burningman).

CHANA MASALA (Chickpea Curry)


My mom frequently makes this dish to bring to potlucks. It's proven to be a more Caucasian-friendly curry, which she often Midwesternizes by adding ground beef meatballs sauteed in olive oil. That's tasty, I won't lie -- but I slightly favor the traditional version, simple garbanzo beans in a curried tomato sauce.

Ingredients:
2 cups garbanzo beans, soaked and boiled
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 whole fresh tomatoes, diced
1-2 medium onions, diced
cilantro, to taste, chopped
1 Tbs. cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1-3 hot chili peppers
2-4 Tbs. garlic (I love garlic, and probably add even more than this. Tell you what...chop as much garlic as you can personally justify and simply add to taste).
2-4 Tbs. oil (olive or canola)
salt and pepper to taste

In skillet, heat oil and add cumin, bay leaf, and chilies. Sautee for 30ish seconds to bring out flavor. Add onions and sautee until clear. Add soaked garbanzo beans, roasting in onion mixture for ~7 minutes. Add can of diced tomatoes, one canful of water, and garlic. Continue cooking on medium, stirring occasionally, and adding extra water if the mixture dries before the beans soften. With any luck, this stage is 20 minutes or less...but I recommend tasting the curry every 5-10 minutes to gauge how well the flavors are melting into one another. When the beans are soft and the onions have completely cooked into the light sauce, turn the heat to low and add the tomatoes, cilantro, and salt/pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve over rice.

WHITE CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE (with vegan alternative)
















Crust:
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (9-ounce package)
6 tablespoons butter, or Earth Balance vegan buttery spread, or other expeller-pressed oil


Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the baking pan of your choice.
Put the cookie crumbs in a large bowl. Add the butter/spread and stir the mixture until the crumbs are evenly moistened.

Transfer the crumbs to the greased baking pan. Using your fingers, press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides of the pan.
If using a springform pan, press the crumbs 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Check to see that the crust isn't too thick where the sides and the edges of the pan meet.

Bake the crust for 6 minutes.
Cool the crust thoroughly before filling it. Crumb crusts can be baked a day ahead, covered, and stored overnight at room temperature.

NOTE: I bake the crust ahead for the nonvegan version of this; when I first tried vegan cheesecake, baking the crust ahead of time yielded a burned crust.
Next time I just coated the pan with an even layer of the buttery-cookie-crumb mixture and poured the filling in. It came out fine.

White Chocolate Cheesecake
8 ounces white chocolate chips, or vegan white chocolate (obtained from VeganEssentials.com)
2 pounds Philadelphia cream cheese, or vegan cream cheese (Tofutti better than cream cheese is a good brand)
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 eggs, or 2T Ener-G egg replacer, whipped with 1/4c water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used madagascar enilla bean paste)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons whipping cream, or vegan soycream (I used Silk "French Vanilla" soy creamer)
1 cup fresh raspberries, for serving with the cheesecake (optional)
Melted dark chocolate, melted via double boiler (I suggest Varlhona 62%) for decor


Melt chocolate in double boiler. As soon as the white chocolate is melted, remove it from the oven and stir it smooth.
Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the white chocolate aside to cool slightly.

Put the cream cheese in the large bowl of an electric mixer (or just stir it thoroughly). Mix on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
Add the 1-1/4 cups sugar and mix until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Mix in the flour. Add the egg/replacer, two at a time, mixing smooth after each addition.

Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl twice during this mixing. Mix in the vanilla and almond extract. Mix in the soycream.
Stir in the melted white chocolate. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan.

Put the cheesecake in the oven. Pour hot water into a second baking pan and place on lower rack.
Bake about 30-40min, or until when you give the cheesecake a gentle shake, the top looks firm.
Cool the cheesecake --- leave in off oven about 30-60 min, then let cool on counter ~1 hr, then refridgerate at least 3 hours. (You can skimp on the first two coolings,
but the cake is less likely to crack the more gradually you cool it).

Raspberry Sauce
1-1/2 cups fresh raspberries or unsweetened frozen raspberries, defrosted and drained
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Puree the raspberries in a food processor. Use the back of a spoon to press the raspberries through a strainer to remove the seeds.
Measure 1/2 cup strained puree into a small bowl and mix with sugar and the lemon juice. Serve the sauce beside baked and chilled cake.

FRENCH ZUCCHINI PANCAKE


INGREDIENTS
1 lb small zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh marjoram flowers or leaves, or a pinch of dried marjoram
2 large eggs
1 large pinch black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Trim ends of zucchini, then coarsely grate on large holes of a box grater. Toss zucchini with salt in a large bowl and let stand 30 minutes.
Transfer zucchini to a colander, then firmly squeeze handfuls to remove excess liquid.
(note: when I'm hungry and impatient, I skip the standing and try to remove as much water by hand).

Heat olive oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté zucchini, stirring until golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in marjoram, then let mixture cool to warm, about 15 minutes. (note: again, when impatient, I skip the cooling. When hunger hits I am not to be trifled with!)

Lightly beat eggs with zucchini and pepper in a large bowl, using a fork.

Heat butter in skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides and butter has a nutty fragrance. Add egg mixture, distributing zucchini evenly with a heatproof rubber spatula, and cook, lifting up egg around edges occasionally to let any uncooked egg flow underneath, until egg mixture is set around edge, about 1 minute.

Reduce heat to moderately low and cook omelet until softly set but top is still moist, about 3 minutes.

Shake skillet to loosen omelet from pan, then slide omelet onto a large plate.

Wearing oven mitts, invert skillet over omelet, then holding skillet and plate together invert omelet, browned side up, into skillet. Cook omelet until underside is set, about 1 minute, then slide omelet onto a serving plate.

CINNAMON ROLLS


This is the most succulent batch of cinnamon rolls I've ever made, perhaps because I modified my original recipe to absorb an extra two sticks of butter.

Each rich bite melts upon your tongue and enters directly in to your bloodstream, bathing your every cell in creamy goodness.

Ingredients:
For the dough --
9 - 10 cups flour
1 c. butter, softened
1 T salt
2 c. whole milk, warmed to room temperature
3 T yeast
1 c white sugar
4 eggs

For the cinnamon filling --
1 1/2 c. butter
50/50 brown sugar-white sugar mix, of indeterminate quantity
cinnamon, to taste, but usually upwards of 2 tsp.

For the delicious vanilla icing --
1 c. butter
"enough" confectioner's sugar
vanilla bean paste or extract (~1/2-1 tsp)
"enough" milk

Combine lukewarm milk with yeast and a tablespoon of sugar; allow to proof until frothy (~5 minutes). Add sugar, eggs, softened butter, and 5 cups flour. Mix until smooth, gradually adding more flour until the dough is soft but not sticky. Allow to double, ~1 hour.

Knead dough, split into two lumps, and roll each lump into a thin rectangle. Mix filling ingredients in a bowl, combining "enough" sugar to make a thick paste. Spread a thin, even layer of the cinnamon paste on each sheet. Starting at one long side, roll the rectangle tightly, pinching the end of the sheet tightly to secure the roll. Slice into 12-14 rolls, and arrange on a buttered cookie sheet, about 1" apart on each side. Allow rolls to expand one hour. (Note: you can make these the night before through arranging the cookie sheet, place in the fridge, and bring out the next morning. Simply add an extra 20 min to this second rise before baking.)

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. While rolls bake, combine icing ingredients to suit taste and result in a thick paste. Allow to cool slightly before icing rolls. Serve warm. Store extras in a tight container, reheating gently in an oven before enjoying. Leftover rolls, if you have any, can be combined with a simple custard for a delicious cinnamon bread pudding (spectacular when topped with apples, berries, or stone fruits lightly sauteed in...you guessed it...more butter).

Life is indeterminate, so live well. :-)

BAKED FRENCH TOAST WITH CREME FRAICHE AND LAVENDER-STRAWBERRIES


This is a decadant combination of flavors. I like my french toast with a touch of vanilla to the custard. I adore floral flavors in sweets (jasmine, rose, lavender), but if that reminds you of a department-store perfume counter, the berries are delectable on their own.

For toast:
1 loaf sweet Italian bread
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. vanilla bean extract (optional)

For topping:
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
3 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 Tbs. lavendar (optional)
Crème fraîche

Butter a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Cut twelve 1-inch-thick diagonal slices from bread. Generously butter one side of each slice and arrange slices buttered sides up in one layer in buttered dish, squeezing them slightly to fit if necessary. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and vanilla (if using) in a bowl until well combined, then pour evenly over bread. Refrigerate, covered, until bread has absorbed all of custard, at least 1 hour. Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 425° F. Bring soaked bread to room temperature. Sprinkle bread with sugar. Bake until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Mash 1/3 cup sugar and lemon peel in small bowl to blend well. Set lemon sugar aside. Bring 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, honey, and lavendar (if using) to boil in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Strain syrup into a bowl. Place berries in a separate bowl. Pour warm syrup over berries; stir to coat.

Ladle berries and syrup onto plated French toasts. Spoon generous dollops of crème fraîche over berries, sprinkle with lemon sugar, and serve immediately.

CRUMPETS


I came across this marvelous recipe from The Bread Book (Linda Collister and Anthony Blake).

My recipe tweaks:
1. I did not have bread flour, but rather, "Ultimate Performer" high-protein wheat flour. I suspect this is even gluteny-er than the bread variety, as I found I needed to add much more lukewarm water (~1 c extra) when thinning the batter to create a consistancy in which crevice-making bubbles would form. It's a trial-and-error process, so don't be afraid to play around with your batter until the crumpets bubble-up perfectly!
3. I was afraid of burning the crumpet bottoms, so I turned the burner down to medium after heating the griddle. Then, my first couple crumpets did not bubble well. I toyed with the heat until my crumpets were desirably holey -- a consistent medium-high worked for me, but the heat distribution may vary depending on the nature of your range and griddle material.
4. Cool these fellas on a rack if you aren't devouring them immediately. My first two cooled on a plate and ended up with soggy bottoms from trapped steam. I re-grilled the bottom side of these two and all was righted, but foresight avoids this extra step.

Fluffy, spongey, and steaming with bready aroma, these were the crumpets of my dreams.

Crumpets

Ingredients:
(makes about 18)
2 cups (230g) unbleached white bread flour
1 2/3 cups (230g) unbleached all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 0.6oz cake fresh yeast (15g) or 1 envelope active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons) plus ½ teaspoon sugar
2 ¼ cups (510ml) lukewarm water
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup (140ml) lukewarm milk

a griddle or cast-iron frying pan
4 crumpet rings, about 3 ½ inches diameter, greased.

Instructions:

o Sift together the flours and cream of tartar into a large bowl. Crumble the fresh yeast into a medium-sized bowl. Mix in the lukewarm water until smooth. If using dry yeast, mix the granules and the sugar with ¾ cup lukewarm water and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining lukewarm water.
o Mix the yeast mixture into the flour to make a very thick, but smooth batter, beating vigorously with your hand or a wooden spoon for two minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot until the batter rises and then falls, about 1 hour.
o Add the salt and beat the batter for about 1 minute. Then cover the bowl and let stand in a warm spot for 15 to 20 minutes, so the batter can “rest”.
o Dissolve the baking soda in the lukewarm milk. Then gently stir it into t he batter. The batter should not be too stiff or your crumpets will be “blind” -- without holes – so it is best to test one before cooking the whole batch.
o Heat a lightly-greased, very clean griddle or frying pan over moderately low heat for about 3 minutes until very hot. Put a well-greased crumpet ring on the griddle. Spoon or pour 1/3 cup of the batter into the ring. The amount of batter will depend on the size of your crumpet ring.
o As soon as the batter is poured into the ring, it should begin to form holes. If holes do not form, add a little more lukewarm water, a tablespoon at a time, to the batter in the bowl and try again. If the batter is too thin and runs out under the ring, gently work in a little more all-purpose flour and try again. Once the batter is the proper consistency, continue with the remaining batter, cooking the crumpets in batches, three or four at a time. As soon as the top surface is set and covered with holes, 7 to 8 minutes, the crumpet is ready to flip over.
o To flip the crumpet, remove the ring with a towel or tongs, then turn the crumpet carefully with a spatula. The top, cooked side should be chestnut brown. Cook the second, holey side of the crumpet for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pale golden. The crumpet should be about ¾ inch thick. Remove the crumpet from the griddle. Grease the crumpet rings well after each use.

QUICHE LORRAINE WITH FLAKEY CRUST



Adapted from Tartine Bakery Cookbook, 2006.

For crust:
1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/3 c water, very cold
1/2 tsp salt

Mix salt and water, place in fridge to chill. Cut cold butter into 1" chunks. Using pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until pea-sized chunks of butter remain. Slowly drizzle in cold water, mixing with a spoon to create loose dough ball. The dough should not be smooth, and you should see butter chunks. Do not overmix -- big chunks of butter now = big flakes in crust later. Heat and overmixed dough are your enemies. Flatten dough to 1" round and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerated 2 hours or up to overnight. Roll out dough to 1/8", line quiche pan. Refrigerate 30 min to one hour. Line with parchment paper and weigh with baking beads or dry beans. Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake 25 min until surface looks light brown. Removed parchment and baking beads, bake 5 minutes longer. Remove and let cool fully.

For filling:

1 c whole milk
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp freshly grated pepper
4 large eggs
1 onion, caramelized
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
gruyere cheese, to taste

Whisk one egg with flour until smooth. Blend in remaining eggs, In a separate bowk, whisk creme fraiche till smooth, and then whisk in milk. Strain egg mixture into milk mixture. Whisk in salt, pepper, and thyme. Fll baked crust with onion, cheese, and bacon. Pour over egg mixture.

Preheat oven to 375. Pour quiche mix into fully cooled crust. Bake 10 min, then reduce heat to 325. Cook an additional 30 min, or until center feels firm and not liquid. Allow to cool at least 20 min. If fully cooled, reheat in oven preheated to 325 for 15 min.

Alternative fillings: spinach/chard with cheddar, mushrooms and swiss, broccoli and cheddar, tomatoes and goat cheese

POTATO, LEEK, AND FENNEL SOUP

7 c fresh vegetable stock
2 c leeks (white and light green only)
2 c fennel (chopped, fronds saved for decor)
4c (2lbs) red or yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1/2" pieces
6 Tbs. butter
salt
pepper

In large saucepan, sautee butter, leeks, and fennel till soft, about 7 min. Add potatoes and stock, bring to boil. Reduce to medium-high simmer, 25 min or until potatoes soften. Blend in food processor till smooth. Return to saucepan, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve.

MOLTEN CHOCOLATE CAKE





1/2 c butter
4 oz dark chocolate (I use 62% Scharffen Berger)
1/4 c sugar (I use brown or white interchangebly)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp flour
pinch salt

berries, coulis, mint, chocolate sauce, fresh vanilla cream, or powdered sugar (for decor)


Butter and flour four ramekins. Preheat oven to 450. Using a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, yolk, sugar, and salt. Whisk in hot chocolate-butter mixture, slowly and carefully so not to create a chocolate omlette. Divide amongst ramekins. Either bake for 10-12 min (depending on how molten you prefer your center), or refrigerate until ready to use. After baking, run a knife around cake edge and turn carefully upside down onto a plate. Allow to set for 1 minute before pulling off ramekin. Decorate and serve warm.

COFFEE-LESS COFFEE CAKE


For the cake:
1 c milk, whole
2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar, white
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. butter
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

For strudel:
1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar, brown
1/2 c. butter
1-2 tsp. cinnamon, to taste

Sift dry ingredients, mix in egg, milk, butter, and vanilla. Pour into parchment-lined 9" cake pans. Cream sugar and flour into butter, fold in cinnamon, and sprinkle strudel atop cake.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before serving. Seriously. It will be soft and moist at the cake base and delicately-crisp on top. Serve with coffee!

WHOLESOME/HIPPIE BANANA BREAD

2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. wheat germ
2 Tbs. flax seed, freshly ground
2 eggs
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 1/2 - 2 cups mashed banana (4-5 unmashed bananas)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla bean extract
1/2 c. walnuts or pecans

Stir together mashed banana, butter, honey, vanilla, flax, and egg. Sift dry ingredients, and mix together. Throw in nut of choice. Pour into a bread pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Or until your knife comes out clean.

CHESTNUT-APPLE RAVIOLI WITH SAGE-BROWNED BUTTER SAUCE


For filling:

1 cup roasted, shelled, and skinned chestnuts
2 oz sliced pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1/4 cup water
1 Granny Smith apple
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook pancetta in 3 tablespoons butter in a large heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp on edges, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is softened. Add chestnuts and water and simmer, stirring, until liquid is reduced by half. Discard garlic.

Transfer mixture to a bowl and mash to a coarse paste with a fork. Peel half of apple and cut enough of peeled half into 1/4-inch dice to measure 3 tablespoons. Reserve remaining (unpeeled) apple. Stir diced peeled apple into chestnut mixture with parmesan, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

For fresh pasta:
Semolina flour
Eggs
Olive oil
Water

Yeah, I don't exactly follow a recipe. I pour out a mound of semolina, probably 2-3 cups, and make a little volcano in the center where I put 1-2 eggs and perhaps a tablespoon of oil. Then I add water or flour as necessary until the dough feels soft but is not sticky. Then I knead the bejeezus out of that dough until it is supple, a forearm-taxing 10-15 minutes. But oh ho ho, it is worth it. Then I let the dough rest 30-60 minutes before running it through my pasta machine, usually to #2-#3 thickness. If you don't have a pasta roller on hand, you can try rolling out the pasta dough with a pin, but may the gods be with you, because you're going to want that dough thin. When I pulled the original recipe off epicurious.com, they suggested using won-ton wrappers, but those rice-flour noodles felt too slippery and lacked the toothsomeness of italian pasta.

For Sage-Butter Sauce:

8 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sage, coarsely chopped

Heat 8 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides and butter begins to turn brown. Stir in sage and cook, stirring, until sage is crisp and butter is golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.


To prepare ravioli:
Here I use a ravioli cutter to parse the pasta, spooning a heaping teaspoon of filling into one side before sealing the package. Set aside but do not stack, until you are ready to boil the ravioli. Prepare a saucepan of salty boiling water and boil ravioli in batches for 3-5 minutes per batch. Drain with slotted spoon. Douse with sauce, extra parmasan, and garnish with remaining apple slices. Serve immediately.

When you make this, your eyes will roll back in your head and you will feel a greater sense of connectedness to the universe. Anyone sitting within your proximity will immediately be overcome with a maddening desire to smooch you. Birds will sing. Flowers will bloom. It is pretty freakin' good.

BEST CREPES EVER

INGREDIENTS
1c flour
1c milk
1/3c water
3 eggs
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. butter, melted

Blend or whip all ingredients except eggs until smooth. Add eggs, stir till integrated but do not overbeat. Let chill in fridge for 20 minutes.

Suggested fillings: mushrooms and swiss, tomatoes and basil, lemons sugar and browned butter, nutella, strawberries creme fraiche and brown sugar, etc.

SALAD NICOISE WITH SEARED AHI TUNA



INGREDIENTS

ripe avocado

boiled egg
nicoise olives
ahi tuna
red new potatoes
haricot vers
ripe cherry tomatoes
spring green mix
good olive oil
balsamic vinegar
dijon mustard
coarse sea salt
fresh pepper

Mix two parts olive oil to one part dijon mustard, add freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste. Place tuna in marinade, coating evenly. Set aside. Begin heating cast-iron grill pan (15 min on high). Boil potatoes whole till just tender. Set aside to cool. Steam haricot vers, douse in ice bath. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Mix three parts oil to one part vinegar, whisk until emulsified. Toss with greens. Mix three parts oil to one part mustard, add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with cooled potatoes, cut into quarters. When skillet is hot, sear tuna, about a minute each side. Remove, let sit three minutes, then slice 1/8 in. thick against muscle grain. Assemble potatoes, sliced avocado, haricot vers, tomatos, olives, greens, sliced egg, and tuna on plate. Savor like you are god's favorite child.

OLIVE OIL ICE CREAM




Materials

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. vanilla bean paste or 1 bean
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1 1/4 cup cream
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Combine oil, scraped vanilla bean and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring just to a boil and remove from heat. Stand 15-30 minutes.

2. Combine yolks and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Strain infused oil and milk mixture over the egg yolks and whisk until combined. Return mixture to the heat and stir continuously until mixture thickens enough to just coat the back of the wooden spoon.

3. Once mixture has thickened, remove from heart and chill completely.

4. Beat cream to soft peaks with cinnamon. Fold into chilled olive oil mixture and freeze in ice-cream machine following manufacturer's instructions.

Pop quiz: what flavor is this?
Unsuspecting housemate: "Cookie dough? No, it's richer than that...butter? Hmmm...it's delicious."

Next time: served with balsamic vinegar reduction? And a subtly-sweet biscotti? Oh how I love food.

CARDAMOM ICE CREAM

2 cups whole milk
1 Tbs. vanilla bean paste (I -love- this stuff), or 1 vanilla bean
6 whole cardamom pods, smashed
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Put the milk, or light cream, vanilla bean paste and crushed cardamom pods into a heavy pan and bring slowly to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let infuse for 20 minutes. Take out the vanilla bean and scape the seeds into the liquid. Strain out cardamom pods.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Gently reheat the milk or cream and beat a little of it into the egg yolks. Pour the egg mixture into the cream and return the pan to a low heat. Stir until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon; it will take several minutes. Do not let it boil, or you'll get pieces of scrambled egg.

Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir until it has almost cooled. Whip the whipping cream lightly and fold it into the custard. Add the 1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamom. Freeze in an ice cream maker.

GINGER-PEA SAMOSAS WITH MINT CHUTNEY

Pastry:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. butter, at room temperature
Filling:

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 small yellow onion, minced

1/2 c. shelled peas (fresh or thawed)

1" piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 small fresh hot green chile, stemmed seeded and minced

2 Tbs. fresh cilantro leaves, minced

2 medium waxy potatoes, boiled, drained, cooled, peeled, and cut into 1/4" cubes salt (to taste) 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. garam masala

1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds, toasted and crushed into powder

cayanne (a pinch)

1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice mixed with 1 1/2 tsp. anchoor (dried mango powder, found in indian markets); or else 1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground anardana (dried pomegranate seeds, also found in indian markets; optional)

Mint Chutney:

3 1/2 c. firmly packed fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 c. firmly packed mint leaves

1-2 small fresh green chiles, stemmed

3 Tbs. lemon juice

3/4 c. plain full-fat yogurt
salt (to taste)
Vegetable oil (for deep frying)


1. For pastry: sift flour and salt, rub butter into flour until it resembles bread cumbs. Sprinkle in ~6 Tbs. warm water (1 Tb. at a time), mixing until dough ball forms, Transfer to floured surface, knead until supple (10-15 min). This will feel like a long time, but by kneading extensively, you develop the glutens in the pastry, rendering a flakey, tender crust. Oh god yes it is worth it. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill at least one hour, up to 24.


2. For the filling: Saute onions in oil until browned and fragrant (~8 min). Add peas, ginger, cilantro, chile, and 1 1/2 Tbs. water. Saute on medium for 4-5 min, adding extra water if mixture looks dry. Add spices, diced potato, and lemon-anchoor paste. Cook another 3-4 min. Salt to taste, set aside, and cool.

3. To fill pastries: break pastry into 12 round balls. Roll each ball into a circle, as thinly as possible. Cut circle into two half-moons. Wet cut edge of semicircle and fold two ends together, creating an ice cream cone shape. Spoon in filling and close third edge. Take care to make sure edges are sealed so they don't come open during frying.


4. For the chutney: Blend yogurt, lemon juice, mint, cilantro, and chile. Salt to taste.


5. To fry: pour oil in wok or frying pan to 2"-3" deep. Heat on high until a drop of water sputters on contact (~350 degrees?). Slide samosa in and fry in batches till browned on both sides. Let drain on paper towels 3-5 minutes before eating. Serve warm.

Proceed to food coma and subsequent bliss.

TRIPLE APHRODISIAC COOKIES











1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/8 cup flour
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste
1/2 cup cocoa (not dutch processed)
1/2 to 1 tsp cayanne (as comfort levels dictate)
2 tsp finely ground coffee
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips

Sift all dry ingredients, cream in butter, egg, vanilla. Stir in
chocolate chips. Roll into 1.5-2" balls and place on greased/floured
or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated oven (375ºF) for
10-12 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Maximum Strength for Extra Smooch-Inducing Power!

BLACK MAGIC CAKE

Cake base:
1 3/4 cups flour (pastry flour if possible)

1 3/4 cups sugar (superfine if possible)

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup brewed coffee

1 cup plain full-fat yogurt

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift dry ingredients together; fold in oil, coffee, yogurt and vanilla. Blend (by hand, or in a food processor) until smooth (no powder clumps). Last, fold in the eggs. Line a cake pan with parchment paper or grease and flour the sides. Pour in batter and bake for 40 minutes. Let cake rest in the pan in a cool place for 5 minutes before turning out to cool. Cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Velvet Frosting:


I don't use exact amounts for this, but here's the ingredient list
and some general guidelines.

Butter (~1 cup, softened but not melted)

Powdered sugar

Fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons worth, more if you want it extra lemony)

Grated lemon rind

Vanilla extract (1/2 to 1 teaspoon), optional

1 egg, optional

Cream the butter, vanilla, lemon juice until smooth. Add powdered
sugar until it develops a paste-like consistency. Add the egg. Add more powdered sugar, butter, or lemon juice until smooth. Firm in fridge before frosting cake. Decorate with fresh fruit and mint.

Thanks to David and Jamie for sharing their recipe!

Who are you, and why are you feeding me?

Hello, Internet -- my name is Monica. I am a woman of gastronomic inclinations, and this is my online culinary presence. Welcome to the record of my obsession.

This blog exists because, sometimes, I get full. During the pause between meals, I document recipes, chronicle adventures, and digest the politics, science, and culture that connect all matters alimentary.

If you like to eat, I will not feed you astray. If you pang for food ethics or scientific explanation, I will not leave you hungry. And last, I solemnly swear to utilize food puns...tastefully.

So what's my deal? I'm a professional nerd (science teacher) who geeks out with both brain and belly. I spend lessons folding Baked Alaska into physics, lunch hour reading Cook's Illustrated, and weekends visiting local food producers, aiding farmer's market cooking demonstrations, leading tours on an educational farm, and puttering about my shared kitchen. I love a new challenge, like catching yeast, home-roasting coffee, eating vegan for a month, fermenting sauerkraut, or preparing exotic meats. I have pet political issues: climate change and sustainable agriculture; fair and humane production methods; edible education; social justice in food systems; healthy and pleasure-oriented food culture; connection to and participation in food production. Mostly, though, I have a voracious appetite.

Enjoy this sampling of culinary journeys. You are in for a treat.

Monica