Almond Cake with Mixed Berries – Food and Wine, March 2015

Almond Cake with Mixed Berries

Hello, do you have a cake to make soon to take somewhere, or for yourself? Are you tired of very heavy winter things? Do you like almonds and berries? Than THIS is the cake for you!

It’s a very charming cake, made with almond flour, a bit of sugar, six eggs, and berries. It happens to be gluten free, if you’re into that sort of thing or make foods for people who are. It’s very simple, especially if you have an electric mixer. Christopher actually declared it “HIS FAVORITE CAKE,” so it’s likely to please people who like regular cake.

It is also a very forgiving cake, due to the scattering of berries on top. I cracked it right down the middle trying to get it off the springform pan, but the berries and powdered sugar topping nicely hid the crack.

The recipe, from Food and Wine, charmingly mentions that the recipe originated from a nice lady who lives in Fez and teaches cooking and makes it for her students for breakfast. This would be a nice cake to have for breakfast.

So! Stir together almond flour and baking soda. Throw six eggs and a cup of sugar together in a mixer and let it woosh for 10-12 minutes. Fold in half the flour, the berries, then the rest of the flour. Bake it.

The cake will fall down a little bit in the middle. That’s okay! That’s where rest of the berries go! Add them and cover it with powdered sugar. You’re done!

The recipe mentions serving it with creme fraiche, which I and my dining companions had never had before. It goes fantastically with this cake. If you have access to creme fraiche, get some to go with the cake. If not, whipped cream would do.

My only problem was with the recipe, which says “1 lb. of almond flour or 2 1/4 cups.” Those are absolutely not the same thing. One pound of almond flour is like…4.5 cups! The comments on the recipe recommended sticking with 2 and 1/4 cups, so I did, and so should you.

Almond Cake with Mixed Berries (Food and Wine, March 2015)

Ingredients:

Baking spray
2 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
1 pound mixed raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, or pitted fresh cherries
6 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon rosewater (optional) (Note: I did not use rosewater)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Crème fraîche, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform cake pan with baking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the almond flour with the baking powder and salt. Set aside one-third of the berries in a small bowl for garnish.
  3. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs with the granulated sugar and rosewater, if using, at medium-high speed until very thick and glossy, about 12 minutes. Fold in the almond flour and the remaining berries in 3 alternating batches, ending with the almond flour, just until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
  4. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Unmold the cake and let cool completely.
  5. Top the cake with the reserved berries and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with crème fraîche.
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Brussels Sprouts with Sausage and Cumin (Food and Wine, January 2015)

Brussels Sprouts with Sausage and Cumin

This dish doesn’t have a pretty face, but it has a beautiful soul

Soooooo sometimes I get on kicks, where I can’t get enough of eating the same thing over and over because it is just SO DELICIOUS. Like, every 10 years or so I go on a chicken tenders kick.  You might be thinking this means “oh, she ate chicken fingers a lot for a few months.” NO. Every night, every SINGLE night for two weeks, I would come home from work and soak chicken tenders in buttermilk then batter them and fry them and they were SO FREAKING GOOD. I have gone on two chicken finger/tender kicks in my life (one was at age eight and one was at age 21) and both of them ended the same way: I ordered them at a restaurant and they were greasy and soggy and terrible and then I was done.

I might be going on a sort of kick with this AMAZING dish, which I have now made once a week for three weeks and will probably make again this week. It’s so fast and delicious! This recipe is pan-caramelized brussels sprouts, crumbled spicy sausage, and Middle Eastern spices, and it’s AWESOME.

The recipe in the magazine says TWELVE MINUTES. So many other recipes say “Thirty minutes!” but then after thirty minutes you realize you’re still chopping vegetables and haven’t even gotten close to having the meat cooked all the way through. This is not like that at all. It really takes about 12 minutes, making this the most wonderful meal for a weeknight.

Here’s how you do it! The recipe doesn’t call for rice, but I really recommend serving this with brown rice for heft, since it’s a fairly light meal. So start your rice, then slice your brussels sprouts in half and clean up any brown leaves. Cook them in olive oil in a hot pan until golden, about four minutes.

Now we add sausage. I’ve both used homemade “sausage,” seasoned ground pork rolled into a sausage shape, and sweet Italian sausage. I preferred the homemade sausage, or spicy sausage. If you do buy it from the store, remove the casings before adding to the pan so it appropriately crumbles. All that’s left from here is to add the sausage, cumin, and oregano to the pan, let it cook, then add orange juice and a dash of honey.

Then you eat it, wish there was more, and make it again the very next week.

Brussel Sprouts with Sausage and Cumin

Pictured: the first time I made this. AND FAR FROM THE LAST.

Brussels Sprouts with Sausage and Cumin

(Food and Wine, January 2015)

Recipe by Ana Sortun

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 brussels sprouts (10 ounces), trimmed and halved
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 6 ounces sweet Italian sausage (2 links), casings removed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions:

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring once, until golden, 4 minutes. Add the sausage, oregano and cumin. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the brussels sprouts are caramelized and tender and the sausage is cooked through, 3 minutes longer. Stir in the orange juice and honey to coat the sprouts. Transfer to plates and serve warm.

Farro Salad with Winter Fruits, Pistachios, and Ginger (Food and Wine)

Farro with winter fruit and pistachios

Glamorous Desk Lunch

Hello, welcome to the first weeks of 2015. This is the time when we can barely park at the gym (“I WAS HERE ALL DECEMBER, PEOPLE!” I complain, imagining my “comes all year” parking space of honor), when our Facebook feeds are flooded with detoxes and cleanses and apple cider vinegar shots, when we take all our leftover candy to work and try to pawn it off on our coworkers.

We have eaten, drank, and been merry and we are now filled with cheese and regret.

I have always had no luck following a cleanse. I tried the Bon Appetit’s food lover’s cleanse last year. I made a delicious steak with chimichurri and sweet potato fries. I cleansed for two days and somehow gained two pounds.

I tried the now defunct Whole Living Magazine Cleanse the year prior, abandoning dairy, wheat, peanuts, corn and everything tasty, pretty much. I lasted a little longer, two weeks, but someone brought cheese to my house and I have no willpower when it comes to cheese. It was delicious and I’m not sorry.

THIS YEAR I am admiring cleanses from afar while sipping coffee and looking at smoothie and salad recipes. I am, however, trying to bring lunches to work from home instead of jaunting to the downstairs cafe every day and spending $7 on an only decent Chicken Caesar wrap I can make at home for not $7.

This Farro Salad is a really nice compromise recipe, cleanse friendly and take to work friendly. It’s a vegan salad, with fruits and farro and stuff. It has good for you things like ginger and mint and citrus.

You can make it on Sunday, before the week starts and take it to work for three days. You can try to make it on a Tuesday night for the rest of the week. I did both, and my Sunday salad turned out much better because I measured everything and didn’t lazily just squeeze oranges and lemons into a bowl then try to fish out the seeds.

This salad is delightfully not-bland. The citrus zest and juice gives it a bright flavor, having both mint and cilantro give it a much-needed zip, the ginger gives it a spice, and the farro is delightfully chewy and nutty. If you do make this to take this to work, I recommend adding all the ingredients together except the cilantro and pistachios. Take them in separate baggies and sprinkle them on top when you go to eat the salad.

I recommend making this exactly as written, maybe adding different dried fruits or nuts if you must. You could easily swap out farro for quinoa if you wanted to make it gluten-free. All the herbs and seasonings are essential and should be fresh.

Farro Salad with Winter Fruit, Pistachios and Ginger

(Recipe by Annie Somerville, Food and Wine, January 2012)

Notes:

  • Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro is the perfect size for this recipe and saves you 15 minutes.
  • I’ve found that it keeps for three days, which is fine. You will not want to eat it for lunch any more than that, as good as it is.
  • I’ve left out the scallions each time, woops. I bet they’d be really tasty. You should add them.
  • I’ve ended up using 2 tablespoons of cilantro with each serving because I really love cilantro.

Ingredients:

  •  Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups farro (10 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried sour cherries
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup salted roasted pistachios, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the farro and simmer over moderate heat until al dente, about 35 minutes. Drain well, shaking off the excess water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, ginger and oil and whisk to blend. Season with salt.
  3. Add the warm farro to the dressing along with the raisins and cherries and toss well. Let stand until the farro is almost cool. Just before serving, fold in the scallions, pistachios, mint and cilantro and season with salt.

Daube de Boeuf with Belgian Ale (Food and Wine)

Beef Stew with Belgian Ale

Just looking at pictures of the stew is making me hungry again.

This is not your standard beef, carrots, and potatoes stew. It does have all those things. But it also has incredibly nuanced flavors of thyme and bay leaves, the richness of the Belgian Ale, and the delightful tangy-ness of dijon and vinegar stirred in at the end.

The recipe notes state that this stew is “food with a hug.” Oh, it is. All food should be food with a hug, really.

It’s not that much more work than a typical beef stew. It did take me a perhaps ridiculous amount of time to trim three pounds of chuck steak and cube it. (It took me 20 minutes. I asked Christopher to do it for another recipe and it took him THREE MINUTES. THREE. He is now the designated meat cutter in our house).

So once you get through cutting meat and tossing it in flour, you happily brown it in your dutch oven. Then, setting the beef aside, you brown the onions and garlic. Some stuff is going to stick to the bottom of the pan and that’s okay because it adds flavor. It also will smell really great in your house right now.

Then you add the Belgian ale!  I used something from Trader Joes that was explained as the “American Take on the Belgian Ale,” take from that what you will.

There’s an herb bundle. I, perhaps distracted by my ever present longing for tacos, purchased cilantro instead of parsley. So I sprinkled in a little bit of dried parsley instead. If I had to rank herbs, parsley would be last. It’s FINE but it’s boring and usually just gets plopped on top of something as a “garnish” and everyone just pushes it to the side where it wilts, forlorn. So if you do not have fresh parsley, it didn’t matter for me and it won’t for you.

I did manage to use fresh thyme with dried bay leaves, and wrapped them in cheese cloth. At this point I discovered there was no twine to be found in our house, so I had to get very creative with cheese cloth knots.

After that, you mostly just wait around for the stew to cook in the oven, adding the potatoes and carrots near the end. Once it’s completely done and you remove the stew, stir in the final spices – red wine vinegar and dijon. I used whole grain dijon.

This stew is great. It’s even better leftover. When you eat it, it’s like your food is reaching up from your soup bowl and wrapping you in a warm, happy, loving hug. The kind you get from cake or pie or tacos.

You should really make this stew.

Daube de Boeuf with Belgian Ale (Food and Wine, recipe by Andrew Zimmern)

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 12-ounce bottle Duvel or other Belgian golden ale
  • 4 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth
  • 3 thyme sprigs, 3 parsley sprigs and 1 bay leaf, tied in cheesecloth
  • 10 new potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Season the beef with salt and white pepper. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the beef and flour and shake well. Remove the beef from the bag, shaking off the excess flour. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add one-third of the beef and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 5 minutes; reduce the heat if the meat browns too quickly. Transfer the meat to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil and beef.
  2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the casserole. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the beer and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the casserole. Add the beef back to the casserole along with the stock and herb bundle. Bring the stew to a boil, cover and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.
  3. Gently stir the potatoes and carrots into the stew, cover and bake for about 25 minutes longer, until the vegetables are tender. Discard the herb bundle. Stir in the Dijon and vinegar, season the stew with salt and white pepper and serve.

Tomato Ciabatta with Olives and Onions – Food and Wine, September 2014

 

Oh look, how the magazine said it would look. Photo Credit – Andrea Wyner

Lest I have somehow fooled you into thinking I am foolishly wasting my cooking and photography talents by having a different career, I present this incredibly flat ciabatta bread.

tomato ciabatta with olives and oniones

#nailedit

I had a few hours between brunch and an impromptu party, and as I flipped through the latest Food and Wine, I conjured an image of wafting into said party bearing delicious loaves of ciabatta bread, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, flavored with tomatoes and onions. It didn’t quite go as planned.

I hate to blame the recipe, BUT I am going to blame the recipe unless any baking warriors out there can take a look at this and go “no, Allison, it’s definitely you.” I have made a lot of bread in my time, and my friends, this dough is wet. Incredibly wet and incredibly sticky. There is a very high water-flour ratio. The vegetables that get added into the dough are cooked in olive oil and not drained, which adds extra moisture to the dough. (I did think, wow, this is a lot of oil into already stick dough, did try to avoid getting most of the olive oil into the dough.) I quadruple checked the measurements to make sure I was correct.

Whenever I follow a baking recipe for the first time, I try to follow the recipe exactly.  The recipe said “IT WILL BE QUITE WET,” so despite contemplating adding more flour, I decided to trust the recipe.

That was a mistake. The loaves didn’t retain their shape in the oven but spreeeaaaaaad out, resulting in a flat, fococcia-like loaf that transported terribly. I tried to wrap the bread in parchment, then foil, but nothing worked. Finally, I gave up and Christopher cradled the bread in his arms like a baby while we drove to the party.

However, despite my declaration of “Ugh, this bread is terrible and squishy,” upon slicing it, the bread was delicious. The partygoers turned bread guinea pigs were pleased by the texture (“YOU HAD ME AT SQUISHY!” my friend Anna declared) and the flavor of the bread is great. The cooked onions, olives, cherry tomatoes, and tomato paste give the bread the flavors of your favorite pizza. If I were to make it again, I’d add a half cup of parmesan cheese to the dough.

I would absolutely love to make this again, but I’d like some advice from anyone with bread experience. What’s wrong with this recipe? Is it the amount of flour? The water? The amount of yeast?

Tomato Ciabatta with Olives and Onions  

(Recipe by Ylenia Sambati, Food and Wine)

Ingredients

  •  5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered
  • 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Three 1/4-oz packages active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
  • 3/4 cup fine semolina

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onions and cook over moderately high heat until lightly caramelized, 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and crushed red pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the olives and tomatoes. Season with salt and black pepper and let cool.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the yeast, sugar and water; let stand until foamy, 10 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir in the 2 1/2 cups of flour and the semolina until the dough comes together; it will be quite wet. Stir in the cooled olive mixture. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel. Let stand in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°. Scrape the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Shape it into 2 rough 14-by-3 1/2-inch loaves and transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, until the loaves are lightly browned and risen; transfer to a rack and let cool completely.