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Holiday Fudge

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I have a tradition at my mother’s house, that every Christmas, we always make fudge together. I have continued this long after I have left, and as the holiday season approaches I always look forward to making this recipe.

This recipe is very easy to follow, however it does take some time.

Recipe

  • 1 16oz. jar of Marshmallow Cream. I like Jef Puff Marshmallow Cream myself
  • 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 5oz. jars of evaporated milk (not sweet condensed milk)
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Over medium heat, in a large pot combine butter, evaporated milk and sugar. Don’t faint at the 6 cups, it sounds like an exorbitant amount, but as I told my stepdad long ago when he tried to cut and trim, that if you’re going to do something wrong, do it the right way.

Stir coninuously until it reaches a rolling boil while stirring. Once you reach this point, continue stirring for 4 minutes, or until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees.  Then remove from heat and add the marshmallow cream, chocolate chips, and vanilla. Stir until the remaining ingredients have both melted and fully incorporated. Pour right away into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Chill either on the counter, or in the fridge until solid, about 2 hours. Enjoy!

 

Squash Harvest Bread

This bread makes me miss Seattle. My last couple of years in Seattle, I was lucky enough to be walking distance to Macrina Bakery, a gem of this city. I would walk down the street with my then boyfriend, and we would stop in for a quick pastry and coffee before the work day. I loved these mornings walking through Queen Anne. When I moved, I made sure to buy a copy of their cookbook as I knew how much I would miss this bread.

It’s much warmer in LA of course, but now that fall is here I love making this bread, and the recipe calls for 2 loaves, which my office mates are always quite happy about. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

*I was too lazy to hunt down all of the nuts needed so this is a modification of their original recipe

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Recipe

  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin (or roasted squash purée)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and oil two 9 x 5 loaf pans. Spread the walnuts and pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes. You can also do this on the stove by putting them over medium heat in a pan stirring frequently so they do not burn. You can tell when they are finished by the fragrant toasted smell and they will start to turn slightly golden, beyond of course their normal nut color. Let the nuts cool and roughly chop them into smaller pieces and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and half of the chopped nuts. The remaining half will be for garnish. Mix together.

In a stand mixer, combine oil and sugar and beat with the paddle attachment for 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of the pumpkin or squash purée and mix for another 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time.

Remove bowl from stand mixer and add in the flour mixture in small amounts, waiting until it is full combined. Mix in the buttermilk until all of the ingredients are just combined. You do not want to over mix or it will make the bread dense.

Pour the batter into the two prepared pans and sprinkle the remaining nuts over the top of each loaf.

Bake loaves on center rack for one hour, or until golden brown. Test the center to make sure it is fully cooked with a skewer or thin knife, it should come out clean when the loaves are finished. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

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Peach Fig Cake

I have been a big fan of breakfast cake this summer. I actually prefer a cake that has minimal sugar, which is exactly what this cake provides. Best, naturally with coffee.

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Recipe

Recipe makes one 9 inch cake pan. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

  • 2 1/2 Cups of flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cups melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8-10 fresh figs
  • 1 peach thinly sliced

Butter the cake pan and dust with flour. In a medium bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. In a smaller bowl mix together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until just combined, don’t over mix, if the batter is a little lumpy don’t worry. Spoon the batter into the cake pan, and top with the fresh fruit. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just slightly golden brown on top.

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Portobello Tomatillo Salsa

Portobello salsa

This salsa is the perfect fresh summertime salsa. I first ate this delicious salsa, on a crisp spring day an hour or so north of New York City. I spent the last year of college frequently flying to New York, trying to make as many connections with photographers as possible, that way when I graduated I would already have a head start in an industry that I was so eager to work in. I spent one week with a photographer, who did beautiful work, and I was so excited to be able to spend a week interning for him. He was a ways outside of the city which was fine. I would take the subway very early to Grand Central Station, pick up coffee and a fresh bagel, and spend the next while watching the countryside go by, reading my book and enjoying my morning. What I actually spent the time doing was going through his massive prop dish collection, cleaning and organizing every single dish. I had hoped, considering that I flew myself out there and spent a week cleaning his studio, was to have some sort of actual conversation with this photographer whom I admired greatly about how he achieved his work, considering that he was not busy or working the week that I was there. I then learned the great lesson that it is incredibly important, when you are interviewing with someone, interning with them, or freelancing with the hope of working with an individual full time, is that it is just as important to decide if you want to work with them, it’s not just selling yourself, you are taking stock in what sort of person they are, and to see how they treat you. I did make it out of that week with an incredible salsa recipe which he made that last afternoon I spent in his studio. I have to say, kind of worth it.

Sadly I did not take an after photo of in my haste to make it to the 4th of July BBQ that I was invited to. This recipe however is very simple to make, so no need really for the after photo to get the idea.

Recipe

  • 2 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 lbs. tomatillos, peeled and washed
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 limes
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Finely dice all ingredients together in a large bowl. Juice the two limes, and add salt and pepper to taste. Chill in the fridge for at least one hour to let all of the flavors combine.

Peach Pastry

IMG_5429Stone fruits are one of my favorite things about summer. I can remember summer time at my mom’s house, we have a local fruit stand which is just a couple of blocks from our house. I loved going there and picking up all sorts of delicious fruit. The first to hit the stands are the strawberries. This is when you know summer is really here. Officially summer in Seattle between 4th of July and Labor Day weekend. Before or after that is always hit or miss. Back to the strawberries. This is the first of the wonderful fruits to land in the markets. Followed by peaches. I can go savory or sweet when it comes to stone fruit.

This recipe is so simple, it almost feels like cheating. I’m going to try a different version this weekend, and am going to attempt to make my own puff pastry this time.

Recipe

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees

  • Store bought puff pastry, thaw for 30 minutes
  • 2 lbs. peaches cut up
  • Whole milk ricotta
  • Granulated sugar

Unfold puff pastry and cut each sheet into 9 equal squares. Spread 1 spoonful of ricotta onto each squre, place 2 slices of peaches, and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar. Place baking sheet with pastry into the oven, and bake for 20 minutes, or until just turning golden brown along the edges. Cool slightly and enjoy.

Strawberry Pie

strawberrypie3smAbout 15 years ago, my grandfather and I took a pie making class. Still to this day it is such a great memory of something the two of us did together. I feel like cooking is in my bones, both my grandparents are great cooks, and even to this day my grandpa will tell me about a new recipe he tired for brioche for a french toast recipe he was testing. strawberry edited1sm

I love going to the farmers markets this time of year, beginning to see each week what is now in season. Fresh strawberries for me always feels like the true beginning of summer. 

Recipe:

Pie Dough – recipe by Martha Stewart

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

  • 3 cups diced strawberries
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 tbs. sugar
  • 1 tbs. flour
  • 1 egg beaten

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Mix together diced strawberries, lemon zest, sugar, and flour. Strawberry Pie 3sm

Lay to crust of the pie, cut small slits for the air to be released, and brush with the beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees, and bake for another 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filling bubbles slightly.

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Lemon Madeleines

MadeleinThe light and delicious cookies are perfect for spring. One of the big draws to my house, aside from the hard wood floors and great lighting, was the Meyer Lemon tree in the back yard. I am a huge fan of citrus and can never get enough of this delicious fruit. These cookies are so delicious,and surprisingly very simple to make.

Recipe

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter melted, plus more for the cookie sheet
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs. freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees and butter 2 Madeleine pans. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a stand mixing bowl, mix together eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix with the paddle attachment for 5 minutes until the mixture is a pale yellow. Using a spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture, and let the batter rest for 30 minutes. Pour the batter into the buttered pans, filling the cookie space 3/4 of the way full. Bake cookies until the edges just begin to turn golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Let the cookies cool just slightly in the pan, don’t leave them in there too long or they will stick to the pan. Invert the mold and lightly dust the Madeleines with powdered sugar.

Moroccan Braised Chicken

Braised ChickensmFor those who have tried to make the preserved lemons a few posts back this recipe is for you. This recipe was inspired a bit by Michael Pollan, and a bit by my ex boyfriend’s mom, who makes the most delicious Moroccan food. I’ve read both the Omnivore’s Dilemma, and In Defense of Food, by Michel Pollan, which I found to be very inspiring. For me, both books brought to life a mindfulness about the food I cook. Delicious homemade food does not have to be complicated or time consuming, and the ingredients to not have to be hard to obtain. Buy fresh whole vegetables, fresh meat, if you go that route, and fresh herbs for seasoning. I like to follow Michael Pollan’s instructions on how to navigate around a grocery store, shop mainly around the perimeter. I think this recipe is the perfect example for following this cooking philosophy.

BraisedChicken1smRecipe

  • Chicken legs – 8
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz. can green olives
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tbs. cumin
  • 2 tsp. turmeric

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a heavy pot, heat the olive on medium high head. Thinly slice the onions and bell pepper and put them into the pot. Next add the roughly chopped garlic and chicken. Cook all the ingredients on medium high until the chicken is browned on all sides and the vegetables start to brown.  Season with the salt and pepper. Add the can of crushed tomatoes, and drained olives. Roughly chop half of a preserved lemon and stir to incorporate. If you have an oven proof pot or cast iron, place this into the oven. If you do not, transfer to a ceramic dish, and bake for 1 hour until the chicken dish is bubbling. Serve with crusty bread, or quinoa and enjoy.

Weekend Bagels

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I have a huge hangup over baking anything that rises. Baking cookies, cakes, muffins, no problem. As long as you have a good recipe that you are following, very little can really go wrong. Baking with yeast however, in my experience, the chance of failure is quite high. As such I tend to stay away. These, however are very simple. It’s a little bit of a labor of love, but very much worth the process.

Recipe – makes 6 large bagels

  • 4c. bread flour
  • 1 package (2 1/2 tsp.) yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 1c. warm water
  • 1/2c. warm whole milk
  • 1/4c. olive oil
  • 1 egg beaten
  • poppy seeds

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the warm water, milk, and olive oil and mix for about 10 minutes, until you have a nice smooth dough. Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with a towel.bagels4sm

Let rise for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

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On a work surface, divide the dough into 6 equal parts, and roll them out to about 18 inches long. Shape the dough into ovals, brush with the egg and top with poppy seeds. Let the bagels rise for 30 more minutes

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While the bagels are doing the final rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they are lightly golden on the top. Serve warm and enjoy.

Almond Lemon Ricotta Cake

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I have a Pinterest hobby. I consider this hobby along the lines of my Martha Stewart hobby. Relaxation for me, a lot of the times, involves mindless flipping through different recipes, waiting for inspiration from the season, beautiful photography, and different recipes. Nothing makes me happier right now than being able to take a quiet weekend day spending the time making, and photographing, different dishes. My life as of late consists of polar opposites. Heart ache and frenzied days with work, where we are all non stop moving from project to project, and I find that all I want when I get home is quite.

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I found this recipe a long time ago on pinterest, and for some reason this week it finally spoke to me. The process is little bit extensive, so make sure to thoroughly read the recipe before you start, I find that this helps the process.

Recipe

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean splint and the seeds scraped
  • 1/4 lemon zest
  • 4 eggs separated at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 10 1/2 oz. whole milk ricotta
  • Flaked almonds to decorate

Split the vanilla bean length wise, and scrape out the vanilla beans.

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Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease a 10 inch tart pan.

Place the butter in your stand mixer, and beat with the paddle attachment. Slowly add the vanilla seeds, sugar, and lemon zest until pale and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg yolks on at a time, until fully combined. Add the almond meal and beat to combine. Fold in the ricotta until incorporated. In a separate bowl mix the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the almond ricotta mixture.

Pour the batter into the tart pan, and smooth the top of the mixture then decorate the cake with the almond flakes. Bake for 35-40 and test by putting a small sharp knife or toothpick into the middle making sure it comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving.