A few weeks ago, my husband met a chef who was trained in France. This chef brought a cake to a get together and my husband simply asked for the recipe to bring home to me. What I recieved was a recipe written most in French using grams (no cups or ounces) with minimal instructions.
Even though I prefer to bake by weight anyway, most of the products sold in the US are according to the US system (ounces, pounds) and most recipes are written using standard measurements like cups. So, I not only had to translate the French into English, which I did without any problems, thanks to years of reading French recipes and knowing French cooking terms but I also had to adjust the "grams" to the more recognizable "ounces."
This is a great cake to throw together. It's simple, straightforward and deliciously chocolatey. For the recipe, I did not covert the weighted ingredients into volume (cups). If you like to bake, this a good time for you to spend a few dollars on a scale and learn that baking by weight is much more accurate. I have both a digital scale and a standard scale with a dial. Either one will work. No measuring cups required, except to use as a scoop.
Yield: 1 9-inch cake
Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper (grease the paper). Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Add the amaretto. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients the egg mixture. Mix well. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix well to combine.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and cool completely. Invert cake onto a plate. Set aside while you make the ganache.
To make the ganache, warm the cream over medium heat until it begins to steam (right before it boils). Remove the cream from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until melted. Pour the ganache over the cake. Allow to set for 30 minutes before serving.
Slice and serve. Great with either vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Or heck, just have it by itself.
Celery root or celeriac is a gnarly looking vegetable that might be showing up at the farmers market these days. You may also find it sitting in the produce section of the grocery store waiting to be purchased. Don't be turned off by its appearance. It's a delicious root vegetable that should make its way onto your dinner table.
Over the years, I have experimented with it in various recipes. In one recipe, I shred it raw and mix it with shredded apple for fresh and crisp salad that is a perfect stand-in for coleslaw. I've also mashed it into a puree and roasted it. It's one of those root vegetables that has many applications and uses in cooking.
The flavor is similar to celery (hence the name) but it is not the root of a celery plant. Rather, celeriac is its own varietal. The flesh is creamy in color, once you get past the outer part of the root. A pairing knife is the best tool to cut through the outer skin of the bulb.
For this recipe, I stopped at a farm stand to pick up a few vegetables for the week and I incorporated many of them into this recipe. You could just make the soup base (it's similar to leek and potato soup) but the kale and apple garnish adds a whole other level of flavor (sweet, spicy).
Spicy Celery Root (Celeriac) Soup
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and leeks; sauté for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the celery root, lentils, and stock. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the celery root is tender, about 30 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, prepare the garnish. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes; sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the apples; sauté for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned and softened. Add the kale and thyme; season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until the kale begins to wilt slightly; about 2-4 minutes. Pour in the maple syrup and season lightly with salt and pepper. Set garnish aside until ready to serve.
To finish the soup, puree the soup using an immersion blender, stand blender, or food processor. Puree until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
To serve, pour soup into the bowl and garnish with the kale apple mixture. Enjoy!
I know this seems sacrilegious -- to make bolognese without meat, but I just had to offer up a vegetarian version of this dish. I created a version that uses chicken thighs and mushrooms, which is a family favorite. However, I wanted to go one step further an omit the meat and poultry all together.
Mushrooms are not my favorite thing to eat, but in a dish like this, they offer that meatiness and umami flavor that is greatly desired. Even though I know mushrooms are present in the sauce, they aren't hitting me over the head with their presence.
This sauce requires about 2-3 hours of simmering time for the flavors to develop. You could make this in a crockpot set on low over 8 hours. It's delicious over pasta or polenta. And definitely serve with a glass of chianti and crusty bread.
You won't miss the meat here. Trust me.
*For this recipe, I love to use a food processor to chop up the vegetables. You can pulse the onions and garlic together until finely chopped; same with the mushrooms.
Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour the hot water over. All the mushrooms to soften, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and reserve the mushroom water and the mushrooms. Finely chop the rehydrated mushrooms. Set aside until ready to use.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; sauté for 5-7 minutes. Add the rosemary and season lightly with salt and pepper; sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the crimini and porcini mushrooms. Reduce heat slightly to medium low and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste; cook for 3-4 minutes (helps bring out the flavor). Deglaze with the red wine; allow to reduce slightly. Pour in the tomatoes and rinse the can out with about a cup of water. Add the tomato water to the mixture. Stir in the mushroom water. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2-3 hours. The sauce will reduce by about a third. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with pasta or polenta.
Simply put, I love pie. Fruit pies. Cream pies. Any kind of pie. I'd take pie over cake any day.
A while back, I posted a recipe for an Apple Galette. Galettes are my favorite kind of "pie" because they are simple to make and usually contain less sugar and more fruit than a standard pie. The recipe below is a variation of that galette but it can be made with any fruit you have available. The crust is whole wheat but still tender and flaky. Really, it is.
I don't suggest using frozen berries in this because of the excess moisture they contain. Fresh is best when making galettes. It lets the fruit really shine.
Raspberry Galette with Whole Wheat Crust
**The spice (or herb used) will depend on the fruit you choose. Raspberries and cardamom go well together. Lavender and blueberries are a lovely match. Cinnamon goes with many fruits and berries. Or you can just leave the spice out.
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the pie crust into a 12 to 14-inch circle. Transfer to the baking sheet.
In a large bowl, toss together the fruit, sugar, salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, cornstarch, and cardamom.
Mound the fruit mixture in the center of the crust, leaving a 1-2 inch border. Gently fold the pastry over the fruit, pleating it as you move around the crust. Brush pastry with the cream and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown. Cool for 20 minutes before serving. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Ice cream or sweetened whipped cream optional.
Whole Wheat Pie Crust
In a the bowl of a food processor, mix together the whole wheat flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse 15-20 times until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, orange juice, water, and zest.
With the motor running, pour wet ingredients through the feed tube. Pulse until the mixture starts to come together and is moistened.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough together until it becomes a solid piece. Flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Can be made up to 2-3 days ahead of time.
The best way I can get my children to eat their veggies is through soup. My daughter loves nearly any soup I put in front of her -- squash, leek and potato, and tomato soups. Whenever we eat at Panera Bread, she always orders Black Bean soup, providing it is on the menu that day.
Black Bean soup at Panera is thick and rich in bean flavor. It's been one soup I haven't been successful in copying. Maybe it's because I don't like my soup to be that thick. Or maybe they have some secret ingredient in it that I don't have access to.
But it hasn't stopped me or my husband from trying to make a good black bean soup. You know, one that will pass our daughter's taste test. Currently, my husband is in charge of cooking for the kids. So, while I'm away, working in another town, my husband is the chief cook and bottle washer at home. He has named Friday, "Pizza Night," and Thursdays are "Taco Night." He's even gone so far as to make his own sourdough pizza crust. And he attempted to make black bean soup.
It turns out, he needed a soup to with his "soup and sandwich night," whatever night he has designated that to be.
The soup was a success. It's flavorful, thanks to the bacon and hits all the right notes. I made a few minor adjustments to the recipe, but it is a great all-around soup. Great with sandwiches or just a slice of crusty bread.
Black Bean Soup
Garnishes: sour cream and avocado
In a medium size stock pot or soup pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove from the pan and chop into small pieces.
Leaving the bacon grease in the pan over medium heat, add the onions, garlic, and serrano chili. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are soft, about 5-8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Season with cumin and chili powder. Add 3 cans of the black beans and the vegetable stock. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.
Using a hand blender (or food processor), puree the soup until semi smooth. Add the last can of black beans. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for another 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed.
Serve with sour cream and sliced avocado.
It's February and winter is winding down. Well, unless you live in Montana where winter seems to go on forever. So, for those cold, rainy (or snowy) days that lay ahead, here is a soup recipe to warm your soul.
For this recipe, I used a rotisserie chicken purchased from the deli at my local grocery store. I like using rotisserie chickens for many recipes from enchiladas to soups. Even though I love roasting my own chicken and having a great meal, I like these deli chickens for quick weeknight meals. Of course, you can use raw chicken in this recipe. Just add the chicken (diced) at the beginning of the cooking process when you are sautéing the onions and garlic. You can also use any type of leftover cooked chicken you have available.
Make this recipe your own. I'm offering you the building blocks...
Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup
In a small sauce pan, combine 2 cups stock and rice. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.
While the rice is simmering, combine the olive oil and butter in a stock pot placed over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 5-8 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium low and add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of stock. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to low. Add the cooked chicken and the rice (including the liquid). Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Stir in the milk. Add the kale/chard and parsley. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with warm, crusty bread.
If you are looking for a recipe that is easy to put together, gluten free, and extremely delicious, then look no further. This is a classic recipe for a flourless cake. The best part -- you don't need to have a bunch of gluten free flours sitting around. All you need are eggs and chocolate. Seriously simple ingredients.
I paired this with a raspberry chocolate sauce. It isn't necessary but it sure is delicious. The sauce would work great with ice cream, too.
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Chocolate Sauce
Makes 1 9-inch cake
Preheat the oven to 275ºF. Grease the bottom and sides a 9-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper. Set aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a microwave or in a pan on the stove set on low heat. Stir until melted. Cool the mixture until it's lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks, vanilla, and Kahlua. Set aside while you whip the egg whites.
In a mixing bowl, whip the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar. Whip the whites until stiff peaks form.
Add one cup of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture. Stir to mix well. With a large spatula, gently fold in the rest of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, making sure to completely incorporate the whites into the chocolate. To fold properly, do not stir the mixture. Move the spatula in the same direction, gently flipping the batter and whites over each other until it's homogenized.
Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the cake feels firm in the center and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.
Heat the cream, raspberries and sugar over a medium heat until the berries have broken down and become mushy. Add the chocolate chips; stir until melted. Remove from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Refrigerate sauce until ready to serve. If sauce is too thick, stir in a little water to thin it out slightly.
Toasted Bagels: You're doing it wrong.
Yeah, you heard me. Get that bagel out of the toaster. You want a toasted bagel? Use a skillet instead.
I've been eating toasted bagels ever since I can remember. When I was a kid, my mom would make me toasted bagels and her method is perhaps the absolute best way to enjoy them. Sure, I've used a toaster or toaster ovens for my bagels, but using a skillet has an advantage over these popular methods. Instead of drying out the bagel, as toasters often do, the skillet method keeps the bagel soft while offering a lovely toasty surface upon which to spread the cream cheese. No more dried out bagel. You get one that is toasted and soft.
It's a simple method:
Cut the bagel in half like you normally would. Spread a thin layer of butter on the cut side. Place bagel, butter side down in a non-stick skillet. Cook over medium heat until toasted and golden brown. Remove from pan. Spread with cream cheese or preferred bagel topping.
Enjoy a toasted bagel that is soft and warm.
The way bagels should be.
I've been baking a lot lately. I didn't intend for this to happen, but with all the delicious fresh fruit hanging out at the farmers market, tarts, pies, and cakes have been entering my mind lately. I see fresh, ripe peaches and before you know it, I'm making a tart.
I love pie, but tart is a perfect way to show off fresh fruit like peaches. Pies can be heavy and sugar-laden. Tarts are lighter and typically contain less sugar, making them a perfect end to any summer meal.
This tart in particular utilizes both fresh blueberries and peaches. You can purchase store-bought crust, or make your own. I offer a simple recipe below. The star of the show is the fruit, so pick ripe peaches (ones that are sweet and juicy) and big, plump blueberries.
Peach and Blueberry Tart with Candied Walnuts
Makes 11-inch tart
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Make the Tart Crust:
In a mixing bowl, stir together both flours, salt, and sugar. Stir in the olive oil and milk. Mix until just combined. Transfer dough to an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press the dough into the pan covering the bottom and sides of the pan. Fill in any holes with excess dough.
Make the Tart:
Combine the peaches, blueberries, sugar, flour, orange zest, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Pour the mixture into the crust. You can try to decoratively arrange the peaches and blueberries around the crust or just leave it more free-form. Dot the tart with the butter.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with candied walnuts. Cool completely. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Make the Candied Walnuts:
Melt the butter in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir and cook for 5 minutes or until the sugar is melted and the walnuts are coated in the mixture. Spread the walnuts onto a baking sheet. Cool completely before breaking apart.
Blueberries are making their debut at my local farmers market and I just could not resist picking up a flat of these scrumptious little berries. While I could have made a blueberry buckle or cobbler, I decided to make jam.
But not just any jam. Blueberry Lavender Jam because incidentally, fresh lavender also popped up at the farmer's market recently, and it made perfect sense to add a little something extra to my jam. If you have never worked with fresh or dried lavender, you need to know a couple of things. First, you need to find "culinary grade" lavender. There are a few varieties of lavender but you want the one that will taste the best with food. It's a safe bet that if you find dried lavender in the spice section of the store, then it's culinary grade. If you find fresh lavender, ask the grower or store if it is for culinary purposes.
Second, a little bit of lavender goes a long way. It's a very floral herb and will dominate the flavors of a recipe if you use too much. So, for this recipe, I used 1 teaspoon of fresh lavender and it was enough to give it that light floral flavor but not be overpowering. If using dried lavender, reduce it to 1/2 teaspoon for this recipe.
A quick note about canning: I did not can the jam in the normal way (boiling the filled jars, etc). I chose to make a freezer or refrigerator jam. I filled plastic containers (found in the canning section) and will freeze most of my jam so we can enjoy it through winter. If you want to can the jam, please follow instructions on the box of pectin you are using or go to the Ball website for more information.
Lastly, this recipe is considered a low-sugar jam recipe, so you need to use the appropriate pectin for it. You can find pectin in most supermarkets and low sugar pectin is typically available everywhere.
Blueberry Lavender Jam
Makes about 6 cups
Before you get started on the jam, wash and sanitize the plastic canning containers, funnel, and ladle you will be using to fill the jars. Set aside until ready to use.
Place the blueberries, juice concentrate, pectin, and lavender in a 4 quart saucepan. Stir to combine and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened and the boiling mixture cannot be stirred down, about 5-10 minutes. Depending on the power of your stove, you may need to lower the temperature to medium-low to prevent burning. Once the mixture has thickened, stir in the honey. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Fill the plastic "jars" to the designated fill line or about 1/4 inch from the top. Securely fasten the lids to the top of the containers. Cool to room temperature and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours to set up. Refrigerate the jam for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.
Lentils: Pantry Gems by Marcy Gaston