Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ALMOND CAKE WITH CARDAMOM + BLOOD ORANGE

A rich, moist almond cake with a hint of cardamom and blood orange zest, with a simple side of blood orange slices... yep I gotta say, this cake is really working for me. I'm a total sucker for almond flour, my favorite ingredient in GF baking. I deeply appreciate that almond flour creations don't even try to mimic your standard wheat flour baked goods. Instead, almond flour treats have their own distinct flavor, texture, and magic deliciousness that no other flour can achieve - and I like that everything is packed with nutty protein.

Can I digress for just a moment to talk about our current citrus obsession? We are crazed around here as the winter citrus season winds down. Paul has been juicing up a storm - blood oranges, tangerines, cara caras, grapefruits, pomelos - whatever he can get his hands on. And two weekends ago, Paul and I walked over to our friend Laura's house to raid her extremely happy Meyer tree. I preserved a ton of lemons which will go to good use in the next few months - a tangy preserved lemon salad dressing seems to go with everything spring and summer.

GO WITH ANYTHING CAKE  adapted from Lucas Holloweg's Good Things to Eat
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 150 grams (5 1/2 ounces) powdered sugar, divided
  • 175 grams (6 ounces) almond meal
  • pinch of crumbled sea salt flakes
  • 1/2 blood orange, juice and zest (if you don't have access to blood oranges, any nice orange, tangerine, or lemon will work here)
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • for serving: 2-4 blood oranges, peeled removed and slices 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Separate egg whites and yolks. In a medium mixing bowl, mix yolks with 125 grams (4.5 ounces) powdered sugar. Add almond flour, crumbled sea salt flakes, orange juice and zest, and cardamom. Stir to combine all ingredients - the mixture will be thick and paste-like. Set aside while you whisk your egg whites.
Before whisking egg whites, be sure to clean your whisk and bowl thoroughly so that there's not a hint of oil/grease to inhibit the eggs from whisking properly. I rub my whisk and bowl with a slice of lemon - the acidic juice cuts through any residue. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar and continue to whisk egg whites they've formed stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into the yolk/almond mixture. Don't overmix... we want some streaks of white after mixing.

Prep a 7 inch cake pan. First, thoroughly butter the inside of the pan. Then, cut a round of parchment paper to fit into the bottom of the pan - butter the paper too, just in case. Pour the batter into your prepped pan. Bake cake on the oven's middle rack for 35 minutes.

Let the cake cool on a rack before slicing. (Before removing the cake from the pan, be sure to slide a knife down around the edges to make sure it easily separates from the side of the pan.) Keep in mind... any gooey center of the cake will firm up as it cools.

Before serving, dust the cake with powdered sugar. Serve your slices of cake with rounds of blood orange on the side.

Serves 6-8







Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SUPER SIMPLE RADISH SALAD WITH CREME FRAICHE



A few months back, Paul and I went to a dinner at Camino celebrating David Tanis' latest book, One Good Dish. The entire meal was delicious, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about one brilliantly simple dish that really spoke to me. Radishes - any sort you can get your hands on - are thinly sliced and topped with a dollop of crème fraîche, nice salt and ground black pepper. Crisp, tangy, creamy, salty all at the same time...yes!

If you can find them, I suggest using a variety of radishes in your salad. At Monterey Market, I picked up standard red beauties along with watermelon and black radishes - each added its own distinct flavor and texture.

INGREDIENTS adapted from David Tanis's One Good Dish
printable recipe
  • 1/2 pound radishes
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche (see my recipe for homemade crème fraîche)
  • optional: a few drops of milk, water or cream
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I also like smoked salt as as substitute for the salt and pepper - it's delish!)
Get out your sharpest knife, or mandolin, and slice radishes as thin as possible. With bigger radishes like watermelon or black, you may want to halve or quarter the rounds. Scatter radishes onto individual plates or a larger platter.  Whisk crème fraîche with a few drops of liquid to make it a little loose. Scoop a generous dollop of the runny crème fraîche onto the radishes. Sprinkle smoked salt, or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over the entire dish. That was easy, right?



Serves 4
  
The days are getting longer, birds have returned to our garden, our fruit trees are leafing out, and asparagus has come to the farmer's market. I don't know about you, but I get a jolt of childlike glee every time I see a new sign that spring is on its way! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

QUICK HOMEMADE RICOTTA + A LEMONY GARDEN PASTA

I hear the old lock click as the gate to our backyard squeaks open. Footsteps cross the gravel. The garage door springs open wide as Otis tucks his bike away for the afternoon. Backpack strapped on, my thirteen year old marches through the back door chittering and chattering about his life. I especially love it when the first words from his mouth spill out stories about what they cooked in Kitchen that day.

Otis's after-school tales seem to begin mid sentence, as if he is simply continuing our conversation left dangling that morning. It usually takes me a minute of two before I get the gist of what he's telling me, "...food science...heat and acid...so easy..." When I finally realize that Otis and his classmates had made ricotta that day and that he wanted to make it with me, "Of course, I'd love to!" I answer and we make ricotta right then and there.

Otis and I first made ricotta together a month or so ago and he was right - it is ridiculously easy to make and totally empowering for any do-it-yourselfer. Have you made your own ricotta? I'm guessing a lot of you have, but for those of you who haven't...you must give it a go!

QUICK RICOTTA inspired by the Edible Schoolyard
printable recipe
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pour milk into a non-reactive saucepan. Add a pinch of sea salt. Bring milk to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scalding. When the milk comes to a boil, remove the pan from the heat, add the lemon juice, and stir very gently until curdles begin to separate (this should take less than a minute). Let the milk mixture sit in the pan for 5 minutes.

Finally, pour your milky mixture (curds and whey) through a cheesecloth stretched over the top of a bowl. Discard the excess liquid. (Save the liquid (whey) to use in your next batch of porridge, smoothie, biscuits, pancakes, etc... or if you're like my friend Margi, you can take a bath in the stuff;))

You can serve the ricotta immediately or let it continue to strain for up to an hour depending on how dry you like your ricotta.


That's it. Ricotta done!

There are all sort of wonderful resources for making ricotta.  If you want to read more, check here, here and here...
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LEMONY GARDEN PASTA WITH FRESH RICOTTA
printable recipe

We were in Bolinas staying at my mom's over the long weekend and Otis and I made another batch of ricotta yesterday morning. I decided to make an early lunch putting our fresh cheese to good use. Mom had broccoli sprouting in her garden, lemons finally ripening on her tree, and we had ricotta.... a bright, lemony veggie pasta seemed the thing.
  • 6 loosely packed cups broccoli florets (I think asparagus could be wonderful in this pasta in the spring time)
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil + a drizzle for serving
  • sea salt
  • 1 package dry pasta of your choice {GF folks: I used Bionaturae spaghetti}
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • handful toasted pine nuts
  • ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes 
  • fresh ricotta (see recipe above)
  • optional: broccoli blossoms
Heat pasta water in a large stockpot. Add plenty of salt until it tastes like sea water.

Blanch your broccoli florets in the hot pasta water. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vibrant, tender veg and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Toss broccoli with 1/3 cup olive oil and salt generously to taste. Set aside.

Return the water to a boil and cook the pasta until tender. While pasta is cooking, zest and juice lemons and set aside.

Add pasta to the broccoli florets, toss and immediately add pine nuts, lemon zest and juice to the mix. Season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. If you think it needs it, add a little more lemon juice. Give the whole thing a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, if you like a little spice. Finally scatter fresh ricotta onto the pasta and give the whole dish another drizzling of olive oil. Add a few broccoli blossoms if you've got them.

Serve pasta warm or at room temp.

Feeds 4.
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