Lemon Poppyseed Loaf

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I am not the type of person who cleverly come up with recipes on my own. Perusing recipe books, pastry displays at coffee shops, and farmer’s market stalls are really how I get most of my inspiration. I will usually come across a base recipe that sounds good, but will have qualms over a few of the ingredients or will find substitutions necessary. When it comes to baked goods, I will usually swap flours, fruits, and toppings. When it comes to meals, I will typically throw in what I already have in the pantry to reduce waste, and add complexities such as spices, peppers, hints of lime or lemon, even brown sugar.

This lemon poppyseed loaf, however, comes as close to the original recipe published in Tartine Book No. 3. Of course, it was my husband who made it and not I. He came across it last week after eating dinner, sitting at the table perusing through the pages to look for bread recipes. Ironically, this cake was what caught his eye.

Instead of Kamut flour and pastry flour, we used einkorn flour, which I’ve had as a staple in the pantry since my fellow baker reported it as being his favorite bread flour, and all-purpose flour respectively. We did not use Kefir butter like the recipe asked, sticking with the more readily available unsalted butter during these barren times. I couldn’t justify splurging on such a frivolous ingredient as Kefir butter after the financial repercussions of COVID 19 (see how to battle those here in my recent post). This lemon poppyseed loaf (and all other home-baked goods thus far) has been the silver lining to this stay-at-home movement thus far.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup Einkorn flour
  • 1/3 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Almond Meal
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold but pliable
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 2 T poppy seeds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 2 lemons

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The Process:

  1. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients listed from sugar to salt.
  2. Add the butter and, slowly increasing the speed to medium, mix until just combined.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each egg before moving on to the next.
  4. Stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape along the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is included in the mix.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add the poppy seeds, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  6. Once combined, transfer the mixture into a tightly sealed container and refrigerate overnight.
  7. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 F and take out the container to allow the batter to come to room temperature.
  8. Spray coconut cooking spray into an 8.5 x 4 inch pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Transfer the batter into the pan.
  9. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, turning the pan halfway through.
  10. Check for done-ness with a toothpick (hopefully if comes out clean!), adding a few additional minutes if the loaf isn’t ready.
  11. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. If you invert it too soon, the loaf may not come out nicely. Use a knife and run it along the sides of the loaf. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

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We prefer to eat our slices with matcha lattes in the morning. We gave half of the loaf to our parents and kept half for ourselves. We love how the exterior of the loaf is a dark brown sugary glaze. This is my husband’s “favorite thing he ever baked”. For me, it’s a bit sweet, but I bet that increasing the almond meal and substituting a darker flour while reducing the amount of granulated sugar to less than a cup would really make this loaf sing.

Of course, I could never just leave the recipe be.

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For those looking to discover the baker within, I highly recommend Tartine by Elizabeth Pruitt and Kinfolk Table. For a free way to learn how to cook, Skillshare has a few classes which you can access for two months FREE here

The plates are by East Fork Pottery, my favorite place to find tablewares from the heart.

Rye Strawberry Thyme Scones

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Strawberry season almost slipped past without my notice. Gone were the invitations to pick fruit from the farm, gone are the baskets of luscious berries that caught my eye at stands, gone are many more familiar indicators of seasons passing by. It wasn’t until a farmer’s market opened up in front of our door that I noticed and realized that strawberry season is here.

Rye and strawberry is one of my favorite flour and fruit combinations. I’m mighty peculiar in that way. I’ve got buckwheat and blueberry pancakes and einkorn and tomato pizzas, things that go like jam and jelly in my book, and so too with rye and strawb.

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These scones are perfect with a light cup of coffee in the mornings. My dad had a habit of dunking bread-like brekkies directly into his mug, but I prefer to bite into this pastry creating a crumby mess on the plate. I personally do not like very sweet pastries – so we added thyme into these scones which make them more savory than normal. Because of that, I can easily eat two to three without walking away feeling heavy. It takes minutes to prepare and these were fresh out of the oven before our room mate even walked upstairs. If sleeping in is more your thing, make then mid-afternoon for a little work-at-home tea break.

This recipe was modified from Kinfolk Table, by far my favorite published recipe book for it’s unassuming simplicity and charm. If you can, support local and small bookstores such as Lido Village Bookstore, one of my SoCal faves.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups dark rye flour, freshly milled if possible
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 3 tbsp. sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 1 cup dices strawberries
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream plus additional for brushing
  • 1/s tsp vanilla extract
  • Fresh or dried thyme

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The Process:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F with a rack in the center.
  2. Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and with thumb and pointy finger, flatten the butter, pinching floury bits into it. Alternatively, you can use two knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles small peas.
  3. Stir in the strawberries.
  4.  Whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl. Add heavy cream and vanilla to the egg mixture and whisk again until well mixed.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture with a fork, mixing until just combined. I l liken the end result to one big, shaggy mess.
  6. Lightly dust a clean work surface (I use a marble pastry slab, but a wooden surface works well too), with flour. Turn the dough onto this surface and knead until just combined.
  7. Shape the dough into a square (6 inch x 6 inch). Cut the dough into four 3-inch squares, then cut the smaller squares into triangles.
  8. Arrange the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with heavy cream using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the tops generously with sugar and thyme. Depending on the flavor profile you are aiming for, you can favor one topping over another.
  9. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Transfer the scones to a rack and cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

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These babies reheat real nicely in a toaster oven. I would store them in an air tight container on the counter for a few days. I reckon they won’t last long.

For those wondering, these cake plates are from East Fork Pottery in Eggshell.

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Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

When I was operating my own humble little bakery, Aero, there was one item that sold out almost every day. The chocolate chip walnut banana bread. I didn’t really understand the hype around this one loaf, since deep in my heart I felt like the better items on the menu included loaves of sourdough, with or without additions, lovingly fermented over 24 to 72 hours. This banana loaf was quick to whip up, especially with my noble steed (a kitchen aid mixer that Mike got me for Christmas, five days before we were married), and since I associated love with labor, I just couldn’t for the life of me fathom why this was the loaf that flew off the shelves.

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Now with the bakery closed and with many a person finding ample time on their undoubtedly well-washed hands, I’ve decided to share this recipe with the world so that they could continue to fill bellies and hearts while I take a personal hiatus and well-needed time to myself during this stay-at-home period, which I’ve decided to look at as a gift.

But first, a bit about this recipe. This is not some grandoise, elegant and eloquent thing that I’ve creatively concocted out of thin air. It is a very basic and simple traditional recipe that has been adapted through different generations. This loaf came from Mike’s grandmother, who is a wonderful baker born and raised in North Dakota and whose magic bars and thumb-print peanut butter cookies graced our wedding reception’s dessert table. The banana bread recipe was passed on to Mike’s sister who made her own personal modifications. And after our wedding, it was shared with me on a hot summer afternoon when she and I decided to get together and bake in her kitchen. When I originally made this recipe for the first time, it was on a low counter-top, and we used what left-over ingredients were at hand, following the recipe in a blasé kind of way. No disrespect to the original recipe but we had more healthy substitutions in mind. Instead of pouring the batter into a traditional loaf pan, we used miniature loaf pans to make four teensy-tiny loaves that any minimalist would drool over.

When my sister-in-law sent me a photo of her recipe card a few weeks later, I decided to modify it a tad further. I had, at the time, Kefir instead of the suggested buttermilk or yogurt. I also had Rye grain from the Tehachipi Project, so I decided on a whim to mill Rye using my Mockmill right before mixing and to throw it into the bowl at 100% baker’s percentage. What came out was a very flavorful, dark, caramelized loaf that had a stickiness to it and a very moist, tender inside. Over the few months that I continued to bake this for others, I have decided that I preferred the recipe without chocolate chips, although my patrons fell into the two camps fairly evenly. I will leave that decision up to you.

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I personally enjoy this loaf a slice at a time with a glob of yogurt plopped on top, and granola or a seed mix strewn over it. On the side, I love having a light cup of Joe, preferably of an Ethiopian variety. This HHC cup of coffee particularly has notes of blueberry, cream, black tea and sugar. The beans come from Ecuador, which I highly recommend – I also recommend their Kenya bag with notes of lime. Currently, HHC has a promo : buy a bag of beans, get the second one at 50% off! Check out their Instagramto find out how.

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What are some of your favorite ways to eat banana bread? As dessert with vanilla bean ice cream? On-the-go with crumbs on your car seat? Like a child, licking chocolate off your fingers? Please do share below.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups freshly milled rye flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Kefir or Bulgarian probiotic yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

The Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Cream sugar and butter.
  3. Mix in eggs
  4. Add Kefir or yogurt and the vanilla.
  5. Add in the bananas.
  6. Add dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  7. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.
  8. Spray cooking spray on the loaf pan and pour batter into it, using a spatula to flatten the top. You can choose to sprinkle whole and half-sized walnut pieces over the bread like I do, to give it texture as well as for appearances.
  9. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the middle is cooked through, rotating at the halfway mark. You can check for doneness by sticking a toothpick or chopstick in the center of the bread.
  10. Pull out of the oven and let rest in the pan for a few moments to slightly cool.
  11. Invert out of the pan and cool completely on a drying rack.

This banana bread is photographed on East Fork pottery’s cake plate in Eggshell

At 12pm EST today, East Fork released a pre-sale event for their two Spring colors – Malibu and Tequila Sunrise.

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The eggshell plate that you see housing the banana bread is similar to the Malibu, but a little more blue than green. I would imagine that both the Malibu and the Tequila Sunrise will pair well with plates and mugs in Morel – which is the color of my Mug. However, I can see these colors standing well on their own. They are the cheer that the world needs right now and are great in preparation for the Spring ahead! I mean, just look at how fun these are!

Due to COVID-19 affecting this small business, the pre-sale means that there may be a delay in delivery since East Fork is doing their part to battle this pandemic. It also means that it is unlikely that they will make more of this color once we all return back to our daily lives, because, well, they’ll head back making the pre-orders that you’ve made. If all of this sits well with you, I implore that you please support this small business and other small businesses, most of whom will barely come out of this alive.

Their plates are made by hand, ethically and with fair wages, and they have even committed to paying their employees the next two weeks their regular wages despite closing both shops. Their dedication to quality is superb and any pots that don’t meet their standards due to minor blemishes (but with complete functionality) are currently on their site for their Seconds Sale. I have personally bought pots at the discounted prices on their Seconds Sale and I am in LOVE with them and think they are higher quality than mass-produced goods. I thoroughly enjoy dining off of their ware, and it has transformed our meals at home to something more meaningful. 

I know that money is tight for most right now, but if you have any to spare and would like to use it as a means to vote for the businesses that you wish to survive post-COVID-19, please do consider East Fork. Don’t all rush at once. Cheers!

Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes

This post is in partnership with East Fork Pottery,  a company slinging hand-thrown, timeless pottery in Oregon using regionally-sourced stoneware clay. Their beautiful food-safe glazes are made in house and lend their pieces character, but in an unfussy and classic manner. The collection is, truly, a treasure trove.

With the advent of daylight-savings-time-changes mid-winter comes a post-apocalyptic episode of me scrounging a few more moments of sleep, desperately and daily. The time change lands on my most dreaded day of the year, and what follows is a week full of lethargy, a pathology that is largely self-diagnosed by yours truly. Coupled with dreary weather, rainy forecasts and winter blues, there isn’t much to be excited about after the clock sets back. EXCEPT perhaps… naturally leavened buckwheat blueberry pancakes! 

All of this to say that the sun dost continue to shine, even if we can’t see it. You find brightness in other ways. In my case, flour to match in color with the winter blues, a dash of farm treasures in the form of berries, and perfect pottery to bring out those moody hues.

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Before you begin to think this post is mostly a ranting of my hatred for time changes and a boasting of my favorite vessels, let me straighten the record and say that this truly is a sharing of a recipe. In particular, one that gets me out of bed on those mornings when I feel as if sinking into oblivion would be a better option. I guarantee you, it is not. With the record straight, let me digress and romanticize about all the reasons why this pancake (and this plate) makes this time of year more amicable.

There’s something about the color of buckwheat. It does, to me, give the pancake a bluish hue. The texture of the flour is soft and fluffy, and with the help of a natural starter, gives rise (pun intended) to a very delicate stack. Yet the taste of buckwheat contradicts this delicacy with its bold, earthy tone. The savory taste so distinct in soba noodles is ever so faintly noticeable in this overall sweet recipe.

Then there are the blueberries, which we purchase from a local farm up the road from my parent’s house. Organic and freshly picked, I like to mix these additions into the batter prior to pouring onto the pan. What results when cooked in the cake is a juicy bubble bursting to seep its way into the pancake’s core. The tartness of the berries offsets the savory pancake, their juiciness offsetting the sandy texture of buckwheat.

Off course, drizzling the entire stack with maple syrup and pairing with maple sausage links can’t hurt. And if this hasn’t convinced you of the therapeutic effects of cooking a comforting breakfast on a wintry morning, perhaps the presentation on hand-thrown, human-made clay pots is more appealing to you.

This morel hue does just the trick. Reminiscent of earthy things, like mushrooms that sprout, grounding and calming all at the same time. It’s no wonder East Fork considers it the most versatile color in the collection. Rich and soft like brown butter, morel adds elegance to the presentation without being pretentious. The coffee mug, also in morel, fits warmly in the hand and elevates my mood.

Then again, the coffee also helps.

Whatever wintry flourishes you’ve got in your back pocket to abide the time until Spring arrives, may this help get you through.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Instructions:

  1. Whisk the eggs in a Kitchen Aid mixer or by hand, depending on your energy level.
  2. Add the milk and starter and whisk again, on low, until well incorporated.
  3. Add the dry ingredients including the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly, stopping halfway to scrape a rubber spatula down the sides of the bowl, catching all the escaped floury bits.
  4. Whisk in the melted butter, and let sit for 20 minutes to allow starter to do it’s magic.
  5. Add the blueberries right before frying on the pan. Fold the berries in with a spatula.
  6. Scoop 2 tablespoons onto a pan and heat on the first side. Flip after bubbles begin to pop at the surface and cook again for about the same amount of time.
  7. Serve with Grade A amber maple syrup, more berries, and bacon or sausage links, if preferred.
  8. Get by for the rest of winter.

 

Soups for Slow Living

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

the colder months, I imagine that something happens to our energies. I can’t quite say whether they are lower in availability or simply hankering for a slower kind of work, but the things that our souls yearn for are markedly different from that in the summer. In the Fall and Winter, I like to slow things down. More than usual, anyway.

In an effort to budget my time in a way that allows me to do more meaningful work, I have recently been trying harder to practice Essentialism when it comes to household chores. And while I thoroughly enjoy cooking and baking (especially when new recipes are in tow), I also like to minimize the cooking and cleaning when the goal is to keep our bellies satiated rather than to experience a new culinary feat.

So with the Fall and Winter season upon us, I’d like to turn your attention to a solution that generations before us frequently exercised but our youth has forgotten about: Soup.

A simple word, and not by any means pretty. Soup is the savior from the holiday rush that befalls all. Soup is the reliable companion ready to comfort you after a long day’s work. Soup is the nutritious meal that you need without the high price. Soup is readily available with a few basic ingredients in the kitchen, stocked. Pun intended.

There are many ways that soup alleviates stress in our lives.

It accepts our rummaging through the kitchen cabinets to collect what we have at hand and eliminates the need to run to the market for that one rare ingredient crucial to its being. It’s forgiving in preparation, usually welcoming a haphazard throwing into the pot. It requires little time (on our end). We usually take a few minutes to prep and let the simmering do all the work. I am the first to say that we put our Crockpot to good use during these short days and long nights. Big batches of stuff, frozen for later and rationed throughout the week, sometimes as appetizer and sometimes the main course, makes soup a practical solution. Cleanup is facilitated by the need to only have one pot.

I don’t know what else to say.

With all the excesses of today, the youth views soup as an add-on. An appetizer and nothing more. An introduction to the meal. Another excess to add to the bill when we are too tired to cook from home.

But may I remind that soup can stand on its own. And it’ll cook on its own while you’re off at work. It’ll let you live your life, however slow or fast that may be, without so much as a fuss.

Soups, therefore, are essential weapons to carry around in the backs of our pockets … and at the forefront of our minds.

Without further ado, a soup recipe for you:

Ciabbotola

(adapted from Kinfolk Table)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, cut into 1/4-in pieces
  • 3 green bell peppers, cut into 1/4-in pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-in pieces
  • 2 pds zucchini, chopped into 1/4-in pieces
  • 1 eggplant, chopped into 1/4-in pieces
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • Fresh basil, sliced
  • Parmesan cheese, finely grated

The Process:

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat before adding the onions and green and red bell peppers. Cook until the onions have softened and are translucent, approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Add the zucchini, eggplant, tomato, and salt.
  3. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs and stir gently and constantly until cooked through, approximately six minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with basil and cheese.
  6. Serve with fresh sourdough (optional).

For those looking for soup of a different kind, here are a few favorites:

I’m sure many more soup recipes are to come. How about yours? Would you care to share your favorite soup recipes?

 

Mushroom and Sweet Potato Tacos with Almond Sauce

In the Kitchen is a series created to inspire others to cook more for themselves. It’s an effort to make healthful eating attainable in a zero-plastic way. It’s an ode towards the one life hack that keeps us well on our financial track. Hoping to slow people down this fast-paced track, I suggest giving up the dine-out and to-go habit, even for just a day a week. Some recipes are meant to be shared with your community, lest it be two or twenty. Others, more decadent and perhaps meant entirely for yourself. In either case, these are some of our tried, true, and favorited. 

This recipe, like most of our recent ones, is adapted from Kinfolk Table. At first, I thought maybe I would greatly dislike this recipe. Sweet potato and mushroom translates to, well, mush in my head, and I thought the combination between this and soft tacos topped with an almond paste would make me feel a bit like an old person trying to eat. Surprisingly, with a few changes that added texture and crunch to the taco, it became not so much the case. Also, the almond sauce and sweet potato makes the taco a bit sweet in my opinion, but by topping the tacos with home-made Siracha sauce, I was able to add another dimension that really elevated the taste.

I would admit that the prep work is not the quickest. I found myself focusing entirely on the recipe. I think that the best way to go about the prep work is to prep the potatoes and let them bake in the oven. As they are cooking, the mushrooms are best made next. And lastly, the almond sauce. Everything should finish around the time that the sweet potatoes are ready. A great thing to do would be to pre-prep the different parts of the taco prior, and then simply re-heat and assemble the tacos during dinner time. Despite the long prep-time, this isn’t a very difficult recipe to make. It would make a great tapa for any dinner party or happy hour gathering. Just have someone else make the cocktail.

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Ingredients:

For the almond paste:

  • 1 large head of roasted garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil

For the tacos:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Large pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Large pinch of ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Twelve 6 inch corn tortillas
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Sliced Almonds or Chopped Pumpkin Seeds

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The Process:

  1. If you haven’t any roasted garlic, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, cut a garlic in half, drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season the cut sides with salt. Press the garlic halves together and wrap in foil. Roast in the oven for one hour. Transfer the foil to a rack and reserve for the sauce. This should be done prior to prepping this meal.
  2. Meanwhile, cut up the sweet potatoes and toss with cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until tender. You can easily see why this is the rate-limiting step.
  3. Next, place the almonds for the sauce in a medium sized bowl and add enough boiling water to cover them by an inch or so. Let soak for approximately ten minutes, then drain.
  4. While they are soaking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about three minutes or until the mushrooms begin to release liquid. Add the three cloves of minced garlic and cook for five more minutes while stirring continuously so the garlic does not burn. The mushrooms should be a golden color. Stir in the parsley, remove from heat, and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, using the same skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Cook the shallot, paprika, coriander, and a pinch of salt for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallot becomes translucent and soft. Transfer the shallot to a food processor.
  6. Drain the almonds and add to the food processor, along with the vegetable stock, lemon zest, and if ready, the roasted garlic squeezed from the skin. Pulse until creamy. With the mixer running on high, pour the remaining 3/4 cup of olive oil and the canola oil through the feed tube and continue processing until the oils are completely incorporated. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.
  7. The sweet potatoes should be finishing up soon. Heat the tortillas directly on the stovetop flame for thirty seconds each side. This is Mr. Debtist’s favorite part. He has a particular preference for a bit of char along the edges. Me, I’m just happy if it’s warm.
  8. When potatoes are ready, assemble the tacos by filling each tortilla with sweet potatoes and mushroom. Plop a decent serving of the almond sauce. Top with cilantro leaves and either sliced almonds or chopped pumpkin seeds. The seeds are what give it texture. Drizzle siracha generously or to your liking. Enjoy!

Note: This is one of those meals that don’t have to be piping hot to taste good, which is why it makes as a great thing to serve for tapas or appetizers at a friendly gathering. 

Spiced Raw Chocolate Mousse

In the Kitchen is a series created to inspire others to cook more for themselves. It’s an effort to make healthful eating attainable in a zero-plastic way. It’s an ode towards the one life hack that keeps us well on our financial track. Hoping to slow people down this fast-paced track, I suggest giving up the dine-out and to-go habit, even for just a day a week. Some recipes are meant to be shared with your community, lest it be two or twenty. Others, more decadent and perhaps meant entirely for yourself. In either case, these are some of our tried, true, and favorited. 

This spiced raw chocolate mousse is adapted from Kinfolk Table.

In this summer’s heat, there are times when the best dessert involves staying as far away from the ovens as possible, even if you ARE a bread baker. In fact, especially so. I came across this recipe in Kinfolk Table and was drawn to the simple ingredients used to make a such a luxurious dessert. I was happy to find that the ingredients are staples commonly found in a pantry, and that the preparation would take about 5 minutes of my time. Just my style. As an added bonus, the presentation requires nothing more than a couple of whiskey cups or water glasses and a smattering of sliced almonds (both for looks but also as an added layer to mouth feel).

We’ve been spending the last few days on our patio set, sweating in shorts and a tee, engorging ourselves on this perfect summer’s treat. Plus, didn’t we determine we would choose chocolate??

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, sitting in water for 10 minutes and strained
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of raw cacao powder
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 large banana, frozen and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey, agave, or pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Cold water, as needed

The Process

  1. Blend together the softened almonds, cacao, avocados, banana, honey, cayenne, ginger, and salt in a blender until smooth. I had to keep scraping down the sides of the blender to make sure that all the almonds and bananas were incorporated.
  2. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time to adjust the consistency to taste.
  3. Topped with sliced almonds. Serve immediately, while cool.
  4. Conversely, make the mousse ahead of time and store in the fridge. This is a great dessert to make for a large group of people. Serve with blueberries for an even more elevated dessert.

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Notes: The original recipe called for hemp seeds instead of almonds and 2 tablespoons of cacao powder. I used almonds because that’s what we had in the pantry and 2 tablespoons was just way too much (gasp!). It also says it serves two, but neither of us were able to eat that much mousse for dessert, surprisingly.

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Hummingbird Birthday Cake

When it comes to birthday celebrations, I am a firm believer in home-made cake. Anyone can go to the store and pay for a cake, but it will likely be missing some of the magic. There may be some joy in the tippy-toeing over counters and selection of icing color, but there won’t be that love and care delicately (or not so delicately) folded into the flour, tucked underneath the frosting. I think the best presents come in the form of chocolate cookies made from scratch, so it just follows that the cake must also come from human hands, not a machine. All the better when it’s from someone dear.

Last week we threw a birthday party for my mother-in-law. We hosted a dinner with both our parents and the grandparents, gathering around a table of freshly baked brioche buns, home-made turkey patties, and fresh produce in that construct-your-own-hamburger kind of way. Obviously, I baked a cake for celebrations sake, one that I think is worth sharing. The recipe itself isn’t my doing. I must admit that I stole that from The Kinfolk Table, a book that we saw sitting on the shelves of an AirBNB in Melbourne and one that I am currently going through, trying one recipe a week. All have been wonderful additions to my stash of recipes, but none have been as fitting or fantastic as the Hummingbird Cake.

The Hummingbird Cake is the type that one reserves especially for birthdays. Don’t ask me about the name, because its source is left unknown. It has all the special-ness without, say, the fuss. It can be whipped up in a jiffy, and the steps can be broken up around the gift-wrapping and the house-decorating. The ingredients are easily accessible year-round, and the decorating is made easier by the handful of pecans scattered on top to cover the frosting technique. In other words, it’s newbie-baker approved.

I made a few alterations to the original recipe, but the basics still stand. I knew it was a doozy when my roommate ate half of the excess cake that I had sliced off in order to produce flat cake layers. She said it was the best thing she’s ever tasted, and diligently ate away at the left-over cake crumbs, sans icing. I knew it was a killer when our 82-year old grandma exclaimed, “I would literally DIE for this cake” after her first bite. Someone who just survived a recent-knee surgery shouldn’t be making jokes like that. The true test, however, was when our picky grandpa who does not even eat CHEESE or anything more adventurous than beef and potatoes finished his entire slice without a word. That alone says enough.

For me, I think it holds a hint of a memory that is buried in the recesses of my happy, unhealthy childhood. Mornings spent with my mama’s banana bread in hand, or cutting into a fresh pineapple cake. Also, there’s nothing as sentimental as the way my mother-in-law’s eyes lit up when she saw that I had baked her a birthday cake, and the way three colorful candles looked alit atop. The birthday song sung by everyone in the room in the dim kitchen lighting really set the tone for this cake and what was once reserved for someone else’s family’s traditional birthday cake now became one of our own.

May all your birthday cakes be baked by someone you love, for all the future birthdays to come.

Hummingbird Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 28 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 460 grams Bob’s Red Mill Pastry Flour
  • 350 grams bananas
  • 400 grams granulated sugar
  • 3 grams baking soda
  • 3 grams ground cinnamon
  • 6 grams salt
  • 3 large eggs, beaten and at room temperature
  • 360 milliliters vegetable oil
  • 227 grams crushed pineapple
  • 7.5 milliliters vanilla extract
  • 255 grams organic pecans, chopped

For the icing:

  • 227 grams cream cheese at room temperature (equivalent to one 8 oz packaged cream cheese)
  • 113.5 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 454 grams confectioner’s sugar
  • 5 milliliters vanilla extract

The Process:

For the cake:

  1. I make this cake with two layers, and icing in the middle. I use two 9-inch round cake pans in order to achieve this, and spray the insides with coconut spray. Preheat ovens to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven. It is here that you will bake off both pans.
  2. Finely chop the bananas. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the eggs and oil and stir just until you no longer see any specks of dry ingredients. Fold in the bananas. Stir in the pineapple, vanilla, and half of the pecans. Reserve the other half of the pecans for topping the cake.
  3. Divide the batter equally between both pans, ad set them on the middle rack. Bake, rotating halfway, for a total of 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of the cakes come out clean. Transfer the cakes to racks and cool in the pans for ten minutes before inverting out. Inverting too soon can compromise the structure of the cake. After cooling, invert them directly onto a rack and cool for at least one hour.
  4. After the cake has cooled, trim off the excess on the tops of the cake, to get nice flat cake layers.

For the icing:

  1. While the cake cools, beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Decrease the speed to low and add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla gradually. Beat until light and fluffy, about another three minutes.
  2. To assemble, start with a bottom cake layer. Spread the frosting on top of it and sprinkle with some pecans. Then stack the second cake layer on top. Ice the cake on the sides and the top with the rest of the cream cheese frosting using a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining pecans on top of the cake, to cover a newbie frosting job.
Can’t frost to save your life?
No problem! Its a home made cake. Proof is in the icing.

Repeat for special birthdays to come.