Monday, November 27, 2017

Vegan Mint Meltaways

I’m always looking for more recipes in my holiday lineup that are naturally gluten free so that my uncle-in-law doesn’t feel left out (especially since he loves sweets). I knew I had to try it when I found this “faux-rango” recipe. My great-aunt Florence, a Washington native, used to send my family the Frango gift packs every year and we loved her for it. We sometimes buy a box around the holidays but we often have so much sweet stuff around it’s really not worth the extra trip to Macy’s. But I’ve always loved the mint chocolate combination.
The best thing about these candies is the ease with which they come together, easier than a non-vegan recipe for sure. I had never enrobed chocolates before and I did find that my 72% chocolate was not quite as fluid as I would have liked and I probably needed another ounce or two of it to really get smooth coatings on each candy, but it was still pretty simple and the results were lovely. I think the centers are so luscious because of the coconut oil. I used Trader Joe’s brand and I think it is not refined, however, I didn’t notice any coconut flavor in the end result.
I converted the measurements to weight rather than volume for my own convenience and I also added a scan 1/4 tsp of table salt to the filling; I feel the slight saltiness is what makes a Frango center really stand out. I haven’t tried them out on my uncle-in-law yet, but my 10 year old gave me an entire paragraph extolling the virtues of them and my 5 year old summed it up by saying “they’re gooder than delicious”. I’ll take that and make these a yearly tradition!
Note that, though the recipe is super simple, it does take time. You need to pre-soak the cashews and then there are three different chilling periods. Perfect for a lazy weekend to make you feel accomplished. I bet they’d be really great alongside a cup of cocoa.

46g cashews, soaked in cold water for at least 2 hours, then rinsed
105g (1/2 c) solid coconut oil (you really don’t want it melted)
40g (1/2 c) cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
3/8 c maple syrup
1 tsp peppermint extract (or to taste)
Scant 1/4 tsp table salt
8 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate (I use 72% cocoa which is a nice contrast to the sweet centers; the original recipe called for 6 ounces but I increased it. If you have leftover just re-melt and mix with milk for drinking chocolate)
Crushed candy canes for garnish, optional


  1. Make sure you’ve soaked and rinsed your cashews. Prepare a loaf pan by lining it with parchment or plastic wrap. Use whatever size pan will give you the shape and thickness of candies you like
  2. Put all the ingredients up to (but not including) the bittersweet chocolate into the bowl of a food processor. The original recipe specifies a small one so I used my small bowl but a regular size bowl might also work
  3. Pulse to combine then process until mixture is completely smooth, stopping to scrape once or twice. I probably processed for 2-3 minutes
  4. Scrape the mixture into your prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until it is completely solid
  5. Lift the candy center out of the pan using the parchment/plastic wrap as a sling to help you. Then cut into your desired number of squares and place on a lined baking tray. I cut mine into 24 pieces and used Silpat instead of parchment. 
  6. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and freeze at least 8 hours
  7. When you are ready to coat your candy, break up your chocolate into small pieces and place into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 50% power for 1.5 minutes then stir. Put it in for up to another 1.5 minutes in 30 second increments at 50% power, stirring between each interval. You want the chocolate to be completely melted
  8. Crunch up some candy canes and have in a little bowl ready to sprinkle on the coated candy
  9. The original recipe says to take out the melt-away centers one at a time for enrobing but that is not practical for me. Instead I set my baking tray on top of another baking tray that I had covered in ice cubes, which kept them plenty cold. Instead of using a separate lined plate, I just put the coated chocolates back on my Silpat-lined and nicely chillled baking tray
  10. Using a fork (or whatever you find easiest), take a center and swirl it in the chocolate to get it thoroughly coated. Remove and let the excess drip away as best you can, then place on your tray and sprinkle with crushed candy cane. Repeat. Note that I had to re-heat my chocolate a few times to keep it as liquid as I wanted it. You may or may not need to do this
  11. One final time, refrigerate the candies for at least an hour before serving. You can eat them cold or at room temperature, though they’ll melt much faster at room temp

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Simple Cranberry Sauce

An old Cook’s Illustrated recipe that keeps on working for our family. There are so many more creative cranberry sauce recipes out there, with orange or horseradish or whatnot, but this is the one we like. Not just for Thanksgiving! My kids love it stirred into steel cut oats or spread on pancakes.

3/4 cup water
1 c granulated sugar (evaporated cane sugar, whatever you like)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 (12 oz)  bag cranberries, picked through

  1. Combine water, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat until it comes to a boil, stirring a few times along the way
  2. Stir in the cranberries and bring back to a boil
  3. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer until about 2/3 of the berries have popped open and the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon—use your eyes and nose here; when it looks right it is. This will take about 5 minutes or so
  4. Remove from heat and pour into a non reactive bowl. Let sit at least 30 minutes at room temperature to thicken fully then serve or refrigerate or freeze

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Best Chocolate Ice Cream

I like chocolate ice cream ok, but usually as a vehicle for mix-ins like nuts or mixed with coffee flavor. However, The Kitchn’s recent post on chocolate ice cream made me want to try my hand at a batch. Whoa this stuff is good, and it’s egg-free in case you need to be mindful of that.

I didn’t make any changes to the ingredients or proportions, but I have clarified the instructions because the first time I made this recipe, the ice cream took ages to get to soft serve consistency and then melted much faster after hardening than I would have expected. I attribute this to two things: I didn’t let the dairy mixture simmer long enough and I didn’t cool the base enough before churning. This time I was more careful in both areas and the end result was better. The sweetened condensed milk, an ingredient I never use, really did a great job of adding a malty note to the ice cream and should not be omitted.

After a few more episodes of ice cream not hardening very well I decided just to add 1 TBSP cornstarch to the dairy and it solved the problem while still yielding a supple and creamy end product. You may be able to get away with 1/2 TBSP if you want to minimize the starch.

We are serving with white chocolate mint magic shell and gluten-free shortbread for family birthday dinner and expect no complaints.

4 oz high-quality dark chocolate in medium sized chunks (we used Theo 70%)
2 oz high-quality milk chocolate in medium sized chunks (we used Theo milk chocolate)
2 c. whole milk (I bet 2% would work too)
1 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. sugar (we used evaporated cane sugar)
1/4 c. sweetened condensed milk
3 TBSP cocoa powder. The Kitchn specifies Dutched but that’s ridiculously hard to find these days so I used regular cocoa powder and it was fine
1/2 to 1 TBSP cornstarch


  1. Get an ice bath and strainer ready for the base.
  2. Melt the chocolate in whatever method works for you. I like to do it in the microwave on 50% power for two minutes, stir and then another 1- 1/2 minutes. Set aside
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high unit it reaches a boil. Immediately lower the heat and let simmer two minutes. The cornstarch in the mixture will ensure that the mixture thickens as you would expect from a custard
  4. Remove from heat. Add one ladleful of heated mixture to the melted chocolate and whisk in. It’s the same idea as bechamel, where you don’t want the flour and butter to seize up. Add three or four more ladlesful, one at a time, whisking after each incorporation. When the chocolate/dairy mixture is very loose, go ahead and add the rest of the dairy and whisk well until incorporated
  5. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl sitting in the ice bath and let cool thoroughly. The original recipe said 20 minutes but I think it’s better to use a temperature goal. I cooled my mixture to 68 degrees F, stirring three or four times during the initial 20 minutes and topping up the ice bath with ice once or twice. The cooler the base, the easier to churn into ice cream. However, the original recipe specifically counsels against putting the base in the fridge for hours or overnight becuase the chocolate could then become grainy. I can attest that doing it this way leads to a delightful smooth texture in the finished product
  6. Once the base is chilled, churn in an ice cream maker according to its instructions but know that you’re very likely to need to churn longer than usual. I usually churn 20 minutes and I went up to 30 this time. I had a very nice soft-serve consistency after 30 minutes
  7. Harden in the freezer for at least four hours and then it’s ready to serve

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Italian Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

Because we try to make meat an accent to our meals rather than the centerpiece, I find that end using a lot of ground meats mixed with whole grains, vegetables and sometimes pulses or beans. (For examples see Teriyaki Ground Turkey with Vegetables or Lentil Barley Soup with Italian Sausage, which I most often make with ground beef these days, or Shepherd's Pie). This recipe is no exception.

My inspiration was a recipe on I loved the idea of a one-pot meal I could make in my Instant Pot. However, because I always use whole wheat pasta, I have never been completely thrilled with the flavor, though my kids were immediate fans. Cooking the whole wheat pasta with all the other ingredients gave it a slightly dusty quality I wasn't fond of. However, given my experience making kale pasta every Saturday night I knew it would be pretty easy to convert this recipe away from the Instant Pot. I am definitely satisfied with the conversion. The dusty flavor is gone and the kids gobbled it up at least as fast as before with many sweet compliments. It's still quite simple to prepare so the switch from one pot to two is worth the extra dish. This will definitely go into our rotation of favorites.

1-2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 to 1 lb Italian sausage (chicken or pork, mild or spicy, whatever you like)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large head broccoli cleaned and separated into floret; cut the stem into 1 inch pieces
3 small to medium carrots
2 c or 1 small can tomato sauce (or diced or crushed tomatoes--i just use homemade sauce)
1/2 lb whole wheat orzo pasta
Salt, pepper and smoke paprika to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the italian sausage when the pan is hot. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the sausage is lightly browned and has rendered any fat
  2. While the sausage is frying, prepare the other ingredients: mince the garlic finely, finely chop the broccoli and then the carrots. I do all of this in my food processor, one ingredient at a time. I chop it all finely enough that there aren't any big veggie chunks in the finished product, but use whatever size you find most appetizing, adjusting the cooking time if you have bigger pieces
  3. Start a pot of water to boil. I try to use a smaller ratio of water to pasta but do whatever works for you. If your stove is really slow and/or you like to use lots of water, set the pot to heat first thing
  4. Once the sausage is browned, lower the heat to medium and stir in the garlic. Let cook a minute or two, then add the broccoli and carrot and stir well
  5. Cover the skillet and let the vegetables steam for 4-5 minutes, or until soft
  6. Stir in the tomato sauce/canned tomatoes, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Partially cover, turn the heat to low (I did 3 on our 9 level stove), and let simmer while the pasta cooks
  7. Once your pot of water has come to a boil, add 1 tsp kosher salt if desired and cook pasta according to package directions
  8. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Stir well to mix all ingredients together. Taste and adjust with salt, pepper and smoked paprika as desired. Serve as-is or with freshly-grated Parmesan 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Corn Cakes

From time to time in the summer we have leftover corn on the cob. Most often I use it for corn salad, like this one or this one, or I'll just mix it in to my regular cornbread. This time I was on the hunt for something a little different and I stumbled upon David Lebovitz's Fresh Corn Cakes. I knew from the start that my recipe would be an adaptation because my corn was already cooked instead of raw. I also knew that I would want to use whey instead of milk because I always have some that needs to be used and that I would omit the chile since my small ones are spice-averse. I added a bit of baking soda to make sure the whey had something to work against and doubled the sugar to cater to my kids' tastes and mitigate any sourness from the whey. Sadly, my corn kernels were a bit starchy, but the end result was still good. I added a bit of extra milk to make thinner, lighter cakes. The thicker ones are also nice, so just go with your preference. When thinned, they're very much like a regular buttermilk pancake. These are naturally gluten-free, another bonus.

235g corn flour (not cornmeal, but super finely-ground corn)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp table salt
300g corn kernels, fresh or cooked
4 TBSP butter, cubed (Lebovitz says room temp but mine was cold and it was fine)
2 TBSP sugar or honey (I like sugar for the ease of measuring it)
1 c whey or whey and milk mixed, plus more milk to thin as needed (I used 3/4 c whey and 1 c milk)
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites (use the extra yolk for something else delicious)

  1. Stir corn flour, leaveners, and salt in a large bowl
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the butter, whey/milk and sugar/honey until the butter is melted then set aside
  3. Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites in a medium brown until they form stiff peaks. Set aside
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in the slightly-cooled milk mixture, the corn kernels and the egg yolks until combined
  5. Fold in the egg whites until no white streaks remain
  6. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat until hot
  7. Use a skim of butter or oil in the pan and drop about 1/4 c of mixture per cake into the pan. My fabulous Baking Steel Griddle holds 6 cakes even after I thinned the batter
  8. Cook on the first side until bubbling and dry at the edges, then flip and cook for an additional minute or so
  9. Serve alongside anything you like or just eat for breakfast. You could go a savory or a sweet direction with these

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

Evan and I agree that the best frozen dessert of our childhoods, bar none, were push-ups. There is an iced novelty by that name these days, but it's not the same at all. When we were kids, it was a frozen yogurt treat that was perfectly sweet and slightly tangy and creamy and so much fun to push up.

I got some beautiful raspberries at the farmers' market this week and wanted to make a raspberry-centric dessert for the 4th of July. Fruit torte was an obvious choice, but I figure I'll be making that for family dinner for July birthdays soon so wanted to try something new. The strawberry ice cream I made the other week using the Fruit Gelato recipe was super tasty, so I pondered a raspberry version of that.

And then I remembered push-ups, and the fact that I had a gallon of homemade yogurt in the fridge, and I knew I had to make raspberry frozen yogurt. I was planning on making it to eat as soft serve, as frozen yogurt always gets so hard after a long freeze, but I looked around to see if I could solve the chalky/hard problem and found this recipe, oddly posted on the King Arthur Flour (KAF) website, plus another one on The Kitchn that suggested using some heavy cream in conjunction with the yogurt would lead to the best texture. I happened to have some cream on hand so thought I'd give it a try.

While I based my fro yo on the KAF recipe, I immediately made some changes that I will keep in future: I wanted a full quart of ice cream so I upped the portions slightly, I reduced the sugar by a lot, I omitted the vanilla and, most significantly, I did not cook the berries at all. Because I chose to use only raspberries, I felt that cooking them would ruin the fresh, fruit-forward fro yo I was going for. It nearly goes without saying that I also did not strain my berry mixture. If I used blackberries I would have, but I don't mind raspberry seeds in my dessert as much as I mind the tedium (and waste) of the straining.

We did eat it as soft serve and I don't know yet how chalky it will be tomorrow. While it wasn't an exact replica of the push-ups of yore, it was mighty fine and I'll definitely make it again. I found it a bit sweet so I'll keep reducing the sugar til we achieve the perfect balance. My homemade yogurt is not particularly tangy, which may be part of it.

Turns out, it scooped like a dream even after a night in the freezer. This stuff is great! I also made a blackberry and a blueberry version where I did cook the berries. I used 3 cups of berries and cooked them down for 10 minutes or so before adding the sugar and then the lemon juice. I strained the blackberries as I don't love those seeds, but didn't strain out the blueberry skins. I've been having some trouble with my ice cream maker not churning very well (a sign of age, perhaps), so make sure to chill down your mixture thoroughly if you have cooked your berries. The 2/3 cup sugar works well and is what I regularly use.

2 1/2 c raspberries
2/3 to 3/4 c sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1 3/4 c whole milk or 2% plain yogurt, not Greek style (recipe would likely need adjustment for Greek style yogurt)
3/4 c heavy cream (or whatever makes sense for the overall dairy to add up to 2.5 cups)


  1. Wash and pick over the raspberries, then mash them in a large bowl
  2. Add the sugar and lemon juice, stir and let sit until the sugar dissolves
  3. Stir in the yogurt and the cream. Taste and adjust sweetness, keeping in mind that frozen yogurt will taste less sweet than the liquid mixture. If it's already too sweet, you could balance it out a bit by adding a pinch of salt, more lemon or even some balsamic or sherry vinegar
  4. Chill if you're not ready to churn, otherwise if you're using ingredients straight from the fridge you can churn right away
  5. Churn in an ice cream maker per instructions. My Cuisinart took about 25 minutes. Serve what you like straight from the ice cream maker and then freeze the rest for later

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Big Batch Crumble Bars

This isn't really a new recipe but it's so much more convenient to have my doubling already done! Especially since I've been lowering the amount of sugar I use. Original EATS recipe at

I always double this recipe now (the quantities you see below) because I then cut it into squares and freeze, ready to take out for breakfasts. One 9x13 pan makes enough for at least a month or two.


2 12 oz bags berries of any type, fresh or frozen--I don't bother to thaw first (24 oz total)
1/3 c sugar (I used coconut sugar but any type would do)
1/4 c ground flax (or you could use 6 TBSP flour)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Splash of water if the berries are frozen

Crumble crust
(these are rough guidelines--mix and match to the same number of grams with the nuts and grains you've got)

100 g rolled oats
200 g rye flakes (or any combination of any flakes)
120 g almonds (Gordon specifies sliced but I've used whole with no issues; I just pulsed them a few times before adding the other ingredients)
60 g pepitas, pecans or sesame seeds
240 g whole wheat flour (soft or hard wheat or spelt though the bars might be a bit crumblier with spelt)
125 g sugar (Gordon calls for light brown sugar but I've also used just plain sugar with no problems)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
16 TBSP (225 g, 2 sticks, 1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
2 large eggs, beaten
4-8 TBSP ice water

  1. Grease a 9x13 in rectangular pan and preheat the oven to 350F 
  2. Place all of the filling ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium, stirring a few times, until the mixture is bubbly. If you're using frozen berries, add a splash of water to help them not stick to the pan and stir more frequently at the beginning. Set aside
  3. If using whole nuts, process them briefly in the food processor until they're chopped medium fine
  4. Add the remaining ingredients up to the butter and pulse together until blended and chopped fine
  5. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like small peas
  6. Add the beaten eggs and pulse until combined
  7. Add the water and pulse, starting with 2 TBSP. Expect the mixture still to look crumbly but it should be clumping together
  8. Press about 2/3 of the crumble crust as evenly as you can into the bottom of the prepared pan
  9. Pour over the berry filling
  10. Distribute the rest of the crumble mixture over the berries somewhat evenly
  11. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the topping is browned

Monday, June 12, 2017

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Birthday time again. And while my go-tos are black bean brownies and chocolate zucchini cake, the birthday girl requested something different, though still chocolate. So I returned to a chocolate cake recipe my friend Valerie made for us years ago. She made this gorgeous parfait thing with this vegan chocolate cake, tart cherries and whipped cream. Mmmmm. I knew she'd used a recipe from her favored Joy of Cooking, so I got out mine.

Fortunately, the recipe works extremely well with home-milled 100% whole wheat flour and converts to cupcakes perfectly. Even better, a small friend of ours with some food allergies was able to eat the cupcakes with no special modifications!

The only other change I made to the recipe was to add some mini chocolate chips. Those Enjoy Life ones are great because they are free of the most common allergens.

Each batch made a baker's dozen cupcakes. I put the extra in a greased glass ramekin and the family use it as a tester to make sure they were edible.

This recipe is extremely forgiving. The second time we made it, we accidentally added baking powder instead of baking soda. I compensated by adding an extra 1/2 tsp of soda to make sure we'd get enough reaction with the vinegar. The second batch was lighter in color but equally tasty and a bit fluffier in texture.

Someday I'll see if the proportions really need to be so tedious. My guess is that a generous 1 cup of sugar is fine, and I'd go the whole hog and add a full 1/2 cup of cocoa powder.

7 3/8 oz soft white berries (or 1 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole-wheat pastry flour)
1 c. plus 2 TBSP sugar
1/3 c. plus 1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 c. cold water
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 TBSP distilled white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
1 c. mini chocolate chips, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin and one additional ramekin with liners or grease 
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl
  3. Whisk in the wet ingredients one at a time, scraping the bowl and mixing til smooth
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips
  5. Portion out into the muffin cups--I filled mine 3/4 full
  6. Bake starting at 20 minutes then test. If a skewer comes out clean with maybe a few moist crumbs clinging to it, they're done
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack then decorate as desired. We used a blueberry version of our new favorite fruity whipped cream from Serious Eats

Garlic-Crusted Pork Roast

Here's one we don't make every day, but we thoroughly enjoy it when we do! Thankfully the whole family loves garlic, because I don't think I could get through many meals without it except some breakfasts. The garlic crust on the roast is just delightful and worth a splurge.

The original recipe comes from Bruce Aidell's and Denis Kelly's The Complete Meat Cookbook and I believe this may be the only recipe I've used from there. We are definitely carnivores but most often meat is not the center of the plate so I have little experience with roasts and steaks and chops.

We get a roast from our favorite farm, the only downside being I have to thaw it first so this meal takes a bit of planning ahead. Other than that, it is extremely simple. I use my Simplest Everyday Pan Sauce with the drippings and we all slurp up the results. Today I'll serve along side farro and asparagus, but mashed potatoes also do a great job of soaking up every last bit of goodness.

You'll need at least 2 hours for the meat to marinate.

1 4 to 5 lb bone-in pork loin roast or 3.5 to 4 lb boneless (they specify center-cut but I usually don't have so many choices. The only important thing is that you don't want pork tenderloin). I just go with the size I can get at the farmers' market, or split up a regular roast so we can enjoy two separate times

6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 TBSP salt
1 TBSP finely minced sage or 2 tsp dried sage
1 TBSP finely minced rosemary or 2 tsp dried rosemary (I often use less rosemary because I find it such a strong flavor, so use the herbs to your taste)
1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1 TBSP olive oil

For the pan sauce, you'll need an additional 1 cup of stock and 1 cup of white wine or vermouth


  1. Prepare your roast. Usually for me this means not doing much of anything but you could separate the meat from the bones and then tie the bones back on after applying the marinade
  2. Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor or mini chopper, mince the garlic and salt together to form a paste, then add the herbs, pepper and olive oil
  3. Slather all over the roast, place on a rack in a roasting tray (bone side down if applicable), cover with plastic or foil and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight
  4. If you've refrigerated for more than 3-4 hours, bring the roast out of the fridge for an hour before roasting
  5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, once heated, place roast in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Then lower the heat to 300 degrees F and roast an additional 1-1.5 hours. If you have a probe thermometer than can stay inside the roast, use that and take out when the inside reaches 145 to 150 degrees F
  6. When the meat is done, remove from oven and tent loosely with foil for 20 minutes or so. You can make the pan sauce while you wait
  7. Carve and serve

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Easiest Lemon Curd

The vendor at our favorite farm and I were talking about how lovely Spring is--not necessarily because of the warmer weather or the blossoms, but because there are finally more than enough eggs to go around. In winter, when the hens are hunkered down, I would find myself rationing the family's egg consumption, as if a two-egg breakfast were outrageous. But in Spring, we've got eggs coming out our ears and 8-egg omelettes are almost required. (I came home with four dozen eggs the other week. One from our CSA, one as a freebie for CSA members and two more because they were on a great 2-fer deal). Joey was saying he'd been making lemon curd and I was immediately salivating and determined to do the same.

I've made lemon curd before, from the Fanny Farmer cookbook, probably. It worked and was tasty (though the Meyer lemon curd didn't set well and taught me I don't like Meyer lemons that much). But for the heck of it I did some Internet searching and happened upon Ina Garten's recipe on Food Network. Her method was different than any I'd ever seen and immediately appealing. No zesting for the Barefoot Contessa, no. In a stroke of brilliance she cuts wide swathes of lemon peel with a regular peeler, then minces then with sugar in the food processor. This saves the cook the work of zesting and makes a lemon-infused sugar. The rest of the ingredients are added and only once it's blended does it go on the stove to thicken. Awesome!

Garten uses a stand mixer to cream the room temperature butter, then adds the lemon sugar and eggs. This seemed a needless step to me and is the only thing in my version that differs from hers. Butter is creamed to incorporate air. This is not needed for a cooked sauce, so I decided to try just adding the butter and eggs to the food processor. It worked just fine and saved some dishes. With my newly-improved crumpets (add more water!), this lemon curd can't be beat.

Makes about 3 cups of lemon curd

3-4 lemons
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 lb (4 oz, 1 stick, 8 TBSP) butter, at room temperature and cut into 8 chunks
4 extra large eggs
1/2 c lemon juice (from the lemons referenced above)
1/8 tsp kosher salt


  1. Use a vegetable peeler to take the peel off of three lemons and put in the food processor with the steel blade inserted
  2. Add the sugar to the lemon peel and pulse until the lemon peel is finely minced into the sugar (this will smell heavenly)
  3. Add the butter to the food processor and pulse until combined
  4. Add the eggs through the feeding tube one at a time mixing well each time
  5. Add the salt to the lemon juice you've squeezed to dissolve it and then pour through the feeding tube while the food processor is running
  6. Once the mixture is well-combined, pour into a medium sized saucepan
  7. Heat on medium-low, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches around 170 degrees F and is quite thick
  8. Remove from heat and pour into heat-proof jars or a medium bowl. Leave at room temperature for an hour or so, and then refrigerate or freeze. I've had good luck freezing lemon curd
  9. Serve in tartlets, on crumpets, in thumbprint cookies or just on a spoon. For Mother's Day, the girls are going to make Super Simple Coconut Cake (in a gluten-free version) and serve the cake on a bed of lemon curd and topped with Serious Eats' Fruity Whipped Cream. Mmmmmm

Monday, March 20, 2017

Kung Pao-Inspired Workday Tofu and Cauliflower

Work lunches are a perpetual struggle for me. I never go out for lunch or get take-out for a variety of reasons, but figuring out something tasty and filling is always a challenge. I don't love sandwiches or salads (except my kale salad or that cucumber walnut salad in the summer. MMMMM). I prefer a hot lunch and I want the meal to be nutritious. I've tried a bunch of stuff, like making dumplings ahead and rotating that with homemade falafel, but sometimes I just don't have the wherewithal to pre-prep quite so much. Enter this dish. I saw Nourish Evolution's Kung Pao Cauliflower and was intrigued. I happened to have a spare half head of cauliflower and I thought that it might be savory enough to keep me satisfied, provided I also include a block of tofu. I made it and liked it well enough, but didn't like the idea of balsamic vinegar or Sriracha. Then I realized that if I really wanted Kung Pao, I should be used Fuchsia Dunlop's Gung Bao Chicken recipe as my baseline. Much better. This recipe is called "kung pao-inspired" because I take enough shortcuts with Dunlop's recipe that I don't want anyone thinking this is in any way a true Chinese recipe. Instead, it's an easy, savory, delicious way to make all three of my packed work lunches for the week at one go.

2 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 potato starch or 2 1/4 tsp cornstarch
4 tsp soy sauce (Dunlop says half light and half dark soy sauce but my pantry only has Nama shoyu right now so I used all of that and it was fine)
2 TBSP Chinkiang or Chinese black vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 TBSP water or stock
1 TBSP hot chili oil (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp grated fresh ginger, or to taste

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 block firm or extra firm tofu, cut into bite-sized squares. Pressed or brined in a hot water salt solution as desired (I didn't bother--just cut it up and blotted with a towel. There was a bit of spatter in the pan but not too much)
2 TBSP oil that can withstand high heat such as canola or peanut
1/2 c dry roasted peanuts


  1. Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust to your preferences for spice, salt and sweet. Set near the stove
  2. Blanch the cauliflower florets in boiling water for 2 minutes then shock in ice water. Then drain the water and pat dry
  3. Set your dried cauliflower and tofu near the stove
  4. In a large skillet (I use our 12-inch cast iron pan), heat the 2 TBPS oil on medium-high until shimmering. Add the tofu in a single layer and brown on a few sides
  5. When the tofu is mostly golden, push it to the sides of the pan and add the cauliflower. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the cauliflower is browned in spots
  6. Give the sauce a final stir and then pour over the cauliflower and tofu. Immediately lower the heat to low or medium-low so it doesn't burn. The sauce will thicken on contact. Stir well to coat then remove from heat. Add the peanuts now, or, for maximum crunch, save them to the side and add after re-heating right before eating. I get three generous lunch servings out of this, more if I serve over rice or another grain

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mid-Atlantic Soda Bread

This is an interpretation of King Arthur Flour's Irish Soda Bread recipe, which they themselves admit is not a totally traditional Irish version. Instead, they lighten it up a bit with egg and a touch of sugar and also add in currants or raisins.
I have taken this adapted version and changed it further to suit our tastes (and the fact that I don't really have white flour in the house) and called it Mid-Atlantic lest someone deride me for not being a purist.
For some reason I always think that soda bread has oats in it and so I'd decided to add some. For the white bread flour in KA's recipe, I use a mix of oat flour (simply rolled oat I put in the coffee grinder) and spelt. I also use dried tart cherries because we like those better than raisins and I never have currants around. I increased the quantity to 3/4 cup to ensure a bit of cherry in every bite.
Finally, I switched the mixing method to the food processor to make things as simple as possible.
The resulting loaf is properly craggy but also tender and tasty.

276 g flour from hard red wheat berries
75 g flour from whole grain spelt
75 g flour from rolled or steel cut oats
3 TBSP sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp table salt
4 TBSP butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 c dried tart cherries, currants or raisins
1 1/3 c buttermilk or plain yogurt or kefir or a mix of whey and milk
1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease an 8 or 9 inch cake pan (to help the loaf keeps its shape). I just used a bit of cooking spray
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flours, sugar, soda and salt and pulse to combine
  3. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is in pea sized lumps
  4. Add the dried fruit and pulse a few more times so that it makes slightly smaller pieces
  5. Crack the egg into the buttermilk (I just do this all in the glass measuring jug) and lightly beat
  6. Pour the wet mixture through the feed tube of the food processor while pulsing until combined
  7. Leaving the batter in the bowl, give it a stir to ensure the buttermilk isn't in the center, then let rest for 5-10 minutes. This is because whole grain flour takes longer to absorb liquid and ensures you won't end up adding too much extra flour
  8. At the end of the rest, turn out the batter onto a lightly floured board or counter and knead a few times, adding a bit more buttermilk if it's too crumbly to hold together or a bit more flour if it's super sticky
  9. Make a large round loaf and flatten slightly. Place in the cake pan and cut a large X or cross in the loaf
  10. Bake for 40-55 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out basically clean. Using convection it was about 45 minutes for me
  11. Remove loaf from oven and turn out from pan. Cool completely before slicing, as hard as that is. I like to cut into quarters, following the X and then make little wedges from there.
  12. Enjoy as-is or with butter or jam. Extra nice with a cup of tea

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Golden Chicken and Millet Soup

One final soup recipe of the day. The Navy Bean and Ham Soup is for lunches, and this golden chicken millet soup is for dinners. I was going to make just plain old chicken alphabet soup, which the girls really love, but I've been craving millet lately and also wanted a soup that I could purée. After all, what a waste of alphabet letters if they're just going to be turned into mush.  Again, I didn't want to use kale and end up with an unappetaizing color and I had the other half of the cabbage to use from the bean soup anyway.
I didn't use my Instant Pot for the whole thing since mine is only 5 quart capacity and I was also simultaneously using it for the navy bean soup, but I did use it to poach the chicken. Normally I roast chicken I use in soup, but because of that tenderness requirement for ultimate ediblity, I decided to poach. I also could then use the poaching liquor to supplement the stock. I normally try to use a bit less meat in my soups but I used three full split breasts this time (for about 8-12 servings to be fair) to  make sure this was hearty enough to keep the 9 year old fully sustained. Feel free to reduce the amount of chicken to suit your preferences and what you've got on hand.
The golden part of the soup comes from the turmeric. I like its slightly astringent flavor and the gorgeous color it imparts.
There is nothing fancy about this soup or the recipe. In fact, the vegetable base is basically identical to the Navy Bean and Ham Soup; I processed all of them together and split them among my pots. I love that with the same base, I ended up with two totally different soups. I write this one down so I can remember it for another day!

3 large bone-in chicken breasts
2 TBPS olive oil
1 large onion
2-4 ribs celery
2-4 carrots
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tsp turmeric
1 c millet, rinsed and drained
6 c unsalted chicken stock plus poaching liquor
2-3 c water
2 tsp kosher salt


  1. Place the chicken breasts in the insert of the Instant Pot with 2-3 cups of water. I think my results would have been even softer had I mostly covered the chicken. I also removed the skin since it would just have been a flabby mess after poaching. Instead I plan to roast it up for as a guilty pleasure snack later
  2. Close the lid and choose the Meat mode for 10 minutes at high pressure
  3. Let the pressure lower naturally after the cooking time is over but you can turn off Keep Warm
  4. Remove the chicken from the liquid and shred. You can save the bones for stock though you'll want to be sure to mix with raw bones or else your stock might taste tired. Set chickens aside
  5. Process the vegetables very finely in the food processor
  6. Turn the heat to medium-high in a large Dutch oven and heat the oil
  7. Add the vegetables. I start with the onion and let that go on its own for a while then add the rest as I process them
  8. Once the vegetables are soft, add the turmeric and stir to coat and bloom a bit
  9. Add the washed millet and the stock, water and salt
  10. Bring to a boil, then simmer 15-20 minutes until the millet is soft
  11. Add the srhredded chicken and continue to cook for a little bit to meld the flavors (or just keep it warm until you're ready to eat)
  12. If desired, purée the soup and adjust for seasoning. As with the bean soup, a splash of vinegar is welcome to brighten the flavor 

Instant Pot Navy Bean and Ham Soup

Continuing on the theme of very soft foods for the daughter with the palate expanders, I wanted to make her a soup for school lunches this week. I wanted something that I could purée to silkiness that would be nourishing and sustaining. Enter navy bean and ham soup! I do love Tuscan Cranberry Bean Stew with a ham variation but wanted something more similar the the super simple navy bean soup I grew up eating. Besides, I didn't fancy the idea of pureeing a soup with kale in it for fear of the resulting color! Since I couldn't make myself prepare a soup without a major vegetable, instead of kale I used the food processor to finely grind up half a head of green cabbage. I did this last week with my lentil beef barley soup (this recipe with ground beef instead of Italian sausage and no fennel seeds) and it turned out great. There was no sulfurous smell or taste from the cabbage and no one suffered any digestive distress (i.e. gas) as we all did when I once added a head of cauliflower to a puréed soup.

I love using the Instant Pot to cook beans from dry, but since I had the time I decided to brine the beans to ensure maximum flavor and tenderness. If you choose not to brine, increase the cooking time to 40 minutes and add an additional 1 tsp kosher salt (and then adjust to taste after).

The resulting soup would have been nice as-is, but I do really like the texture after pureeing it with the immersion blender. I didn't have to add any extra salt or flavoring. It's just a mild, straightforward, tasty soup that made enough to feed all of us for multiple lunches this week.

To make the soup vegan or vegetarian, replace the butter with olive oil and the chicken stock with vegetable stock and omit the ham.

1 lb dry navy beans, washed and picked over, brined over night in 4 quarts of water plus 3 TBSP kosher salt
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 large onion
2-3 ribs celery
2-3 carrots
1-2 cloves garlic, optional
1/2 head green cabbage
1/2 - 3/4 lb ham, finely diced
4 c unsalted chicken stock (or low sodium--if salted, omit any extra salt)
2-3 c water
1/2 tsp kosher salt


  1. Finely chop the onion, celery, carrots, cabbage and garlic. I do this successively in my food processor, which makes the prep a snap
  2. Melt the butter using the Sauté mode in the Instant Pot then add the onions. Stir frequently and cook until the onions are soft. Add the other vegetables as you finish processing them
  3. Once all the veggies are soft, add the diced ham and continue sautéing until a bit of the water has evaporated
  4. Drain the brined beans and rinse them well
  5. Add the beans to the pot, followed by the stock and water. Give the mixture a stir to ensure that the vegetables aren't stuck to the bottom of the pot
  6. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and close as directly, making sure to close the valve (my usual mistake)
  7. Use the soup/stew mode and set the time to 25 minutes at high pressure
  8. Once the cooking time is done, let the pressure release naturally
  9. Purée if desired, then taste for seasoning and adjust as desired. A dash of clove might taste nice. If it seems too dull, try a splash of champagne or sherry vinegar

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

My eldest has had palate expanders installed and we are having an extremely rough time of it. We know she will learn how to eat somewhat normally with them but we are at the very front end of the learning curve. Consequently, we are drinking a lot more smoothies than usual so I need to branch out a bit from our usual rotation between mixed berry and mango.

The girls love the peanut butter and banana combo, so this recipe seemed a promising start. Of course I immediately messed with the recipe based on known preferences (more peanut butter!!) and what I had in the house. They gave it a double thumbs up, though they wouldn't mind if the banana flavor were more prominent, so do what you think your family will like.

Made this again in November 2017 and simplified it based on how I make our other regular smoothies

INGREDIENTS (2 servings)
1 1/2 or 2 frozen bananas (they don't have to be frozen but the smoothie will be colder)
1 1/2 c plain unsweetened yogurt (I fill to the .6L mark on my blender)
3 TBSP ground flaxseed
3-4 TBSP natural peanut butter (any kind you like but unsweetened)
Generous sprinkle of vanilla powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp honey OR (and I think this is better) 1 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup


  1. Place all ingredients except for honey in the jar of a blender
  2. Blend (we use smoothie mode) and pour the honey through the top (or else it might clump because everything is so cold)
  3. Serve

Sunday, March 5, 2017

100% Whole Grain Pizza Dough

I published my favorite pizza dough from Patricia Wells years ago and it is still a fabulous recipe. However, now that I have my beloved Komo Fididbus 21 grain mill, I don't really use any all-purpose white flour. The original recipe is easy to convert, but I wanted to publish a version that takes all the guess-work out of it, particularly since Wells' recipe goes more by volume than weight (for example, she calls for flour in cups and in parentheses says that's 1lb or 500g. One pound is not 500g and in a dough recipe the difference of around 50g can make a difference). Finally, I reverse the mixing method because I use instant yeast now--there is no need to mix it with liquid first and it's far easier for me to grind my grain straight into the food processor bowl. I use my heavy-duty Breville Sous Chef food processor, which can handle the double-batch size shown here. If your machine is not as powerful you may need to do single batches at a time. The original recipe has the basic proportions for that.

I really love kamut grains. They're an ancient form of wheat that have an extremely long grain and a beautiful yellow color. Kamut reminds me of semolina in its color and slight grittiness and it's fun to use in pizza dough. I get it online from Bob's Red Mill because even our fantastic local co-op doesn't carry it, though it does have emmer farro, spelt, red and white wheat berries.

Today I'll be using my Baking Steel griddle as a pizza stone for the first time and I'm super excited. I got it as a gift for Christmas and have been absolutely delighted with it as a griddle. Far bigger than my cast iron griddle with a shockingly non-stick surface right from the get-go, it's a joy to use. I suspect it will also be revelatory for pizza.

I tend to make calzones with any leftover dough. I bake and freeze them to pop into the kids' or my school/work lunches as a Friday treat.

450g hard red wheat berries, ground finely (or storebought whole wheat bread flour)
450g kamut grains, ground finely (or pre-ground kamut flour)
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt (I used table salt but you could use any fine salt; if using coarser sea salt you'll need a bit more)
2 2/3 c warm water
1/4 c olive or other oil


  1. Grind the grains directly into the bowl of your food processor with the cutting blade (not dough blade) inserted
  2. Add the yeast, sugar and salt and pulse until combined
  3. Mix the oil and water together (just use the same measuring cup) then pour through the feeding tube while pulsing and pulse until the dough comes together
  4. The food processor will probably start to slow down, but the dough will also have formed a ball. If it seems too wet you can add a bit of all-purpose or other flour (I don't grind extra grain for this part, and I have a small stock of white flour on hand for times like this)
  5. Turn out onto a clean counter and knead a few times. It shouldn't feel sticky--if it does, knead in a bit more flour but it shouldn't be more than a few tablespoons
  6. Put dough in clean bowl and cover. You can do a room temperature first rise or stick it in the fridge. I usually do room temp for the first rise, punch down and then refrigerate until about an hour before I need it
  7. Portion out the dough into about 3oz balls and proceed with my pizza recipe or your own as desired

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pumpkin Mini Muffins

These are a real hit on hard-boiled-egg-Thursdays along with some grapefruit. I love my flax bran muffins with pumpkin but it is nice to have a lighter option as well when it acts as a side dish rather than the main event.

I follow texanerin's recipe nearly to the letter with a few changes to suit my taste. First, I really think they're just a tad too sweet so I recommend a scant cup of maple syrup (14 TBSP instead of 16, if you want to be precise). Also, because I use spelt, with its softer crumb, I also like to add 1/4 cup of ground flax seed for a little bit of body. Because I am not a fan of nutmeg in sweet dishes, I use ground allspice instead. Finally, I double the recipe so I can use a whole can of pumpkin at a time and also have lots for the freezer. This recipes makes enough for 24 mini muffins plus 3-4 full size muffins.

(Oh, you may notice I don't roll mine in cinnamon sugar as Texanerin does after baking either. Way too fiddly for me and the family likes them just the way they are.)


218g ground whole-grain spelt
1/4 c ground flax seed (optional)
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (or 1/2 TBSP)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves (or the spice mix of your choice)
1/2 c (112g) melted coconut oil or avocado or other oil
1 c scant maple syrup (about 14 TBSP)
1 15 oz can pumpkin or squash puree


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a 24-cup mini muffin pan fully and put about 4 regular size muffin cups in a standard muffin pan
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside
  3. Measure the oil and maple syrup into a large glass measuring cup (to minimize dishes!) and whisk together, then whisk in the pumpkin purée
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just blended. I like to let the mixture sit for 10 minutes for the spelt to absorb the liquid better
  5. Fill the muffin cups to the top (this is what I do, anyway) and then bake for 20-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
  6. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before removing from the pans to finish cooling. Freezes well

Friday, January 27, 2017

Indian-Influenced Cauliflower or Tofu

You know those movies that veer far from the truth but do a little CYA by claiming to be "inspired by real events"? Well, that's my relationship to recipes (I alluded to this in my 2013 recipe for Lemony Quinoa with Kale and Baked Olives).

I had tried this Serious Eats Grilled Spiced Cauliflower recipe and liked it, but immediately changed it significantly. First of all, I just don't grill that often so I eliminated that step in favor of oven roasting. Second, I thought it would taste better if I bloomed the spices in oil rather than sprinkling them on dry. Third, I felt the spice mix was way too salty, so I halved the salt (and omitted the red pepper flakes to respect the children's taste) . I don't know, maybe that counts as more than "inspired by", but it doesn't really matter. The family was happy with the end result.

The innovation this time was that I turned it into a marinade for tofu as well. All I did for that was to make the spices and oil a bit thinned out with stock. Because we are not vegetarian and I have small amounts of chicken stock on hand more often, I used chicken stock. I'm sure you could omit it, but I liked that it made a bit of a sauce. You could thicken further by dotting the top of the tofu with a tablespoon of butter, a trick I got from the DALS Miso Butter Tofu recipe (I didn't love the recipe other than that).

We all liked our tofu and cauliflower and I think I'll make it again, possibly with just a pinch of sugar to round out the flavor profile.

I like to make a double or triple batch of the spice mix to have on hand for weeknight ease. You'll need more than a single batch if you're making both tofu and cauliflower at the same time.
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Medium to large pinch brown or coconut sugar (optional)

2 TBSP olive or other oil
1/4 c. unsalted or low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock if doing tofu marinade

Enough cauliflower for you and your family for a meal AND/OR
1 block firm or extra firm tofu (12-16 oz) drained. I don't bother to press. If I do anything, I do a hot water brine and then drain and dry


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, oil, or Silpat for cauliflower. You'll just need an 8x8 dish (or thereabouts) for tofu
  2. Make the spice blend in any quantity
  3. Clean and cut up the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and/or similarly cut the tofu into bit-sized cubes. 
  4. Put cauliflower in a large bowl (easier to mix) and tofu in the baking dish you'll be using
  5. In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium
  6. Add a full batch or two of spice mix to the skillet and cook until it smells toasty and great
  7. If making cauliflower, pour over in the bowl and stir til coated, then put on the rimmed baking sheet
  8. If making tofu, add the 1/4 c stock to the pan and stir until pretty well mixed, then pour over the tofu. Dot with one TBSP of butter in small pieces if desired
  9. Bake until roasted (cauliflower) or bubbly and golden (tofu), starting to check around 15 minutes. Shouldn't take more than about 30 minutes total
  10. Serve with rice, quinoa or millet (that you've made in your Instant Pot, of course!)