Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dreaming of Palm Springs

It is dreary outside, dark, gray, cold, windy, raining, and I feel like the weather is now really getting to me. Normally, I am such an optimistic trooper, even in the longest winter, but this endless array of weather that wants me to be cuddled up indoors when I see people with Magnolia trees on the west coast makes me want to cry. I can’t take it anymore. It is these moments when I want to uproot and move back to a drought stricken California, like here in Palm springs, and yes, after 10 years in Maine, it does look a bit dry and not green at all. Nothing much seems to grow, naturally, while there is an abundance of green, trees and lushes lawns and coastal waters and lakes in Maine without anyone having to do anything. If…. you can cope with the winter.

jcrew3

But the light, the wide horizons, the freedom, of Palm Springs and the desert, get me every time.

jcrew

Maybe, just a vacation, for a few weeks, to recharge those depleted happy hormone reservoirs.

dreams

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Chocolate Coffee Stout Cake

The other day I picked up the new, small version of the beautiful NordicWare heritage bundt cake pan at Williams-Sonoma. Just the right size for a cake for a few girlfriends coming for the afternoon, or a cake for the weekend.

So, which cake to make? A local microbrewery makes really good beer, and that says someone who would always prefer red wine to beer, but they changed my me. My favorites are the stouts, and when I brought home a growler with coffee stout, more than drinking it ... a cake came to mind I had made a few years ago that featured chocolate stout beer. With a few tweaks, this came out really well.

stout_cake

Chocolate Coffee Stout Cake.

(makes 2 small bundt cakes or 1 regular size)
Cake:

  • 2 cups coffee or chocolate stout beer
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup natural cocoa powder 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 TB black strap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate glaze:
  • 1 cup chocolate couverture (or chocolate chips)
  • 1 TB creme fraiche
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, with a rack in the center. 
  2. Spray 2 x 6 cup or a 11 or 12-cup capacity bundt pan with baking spray. Make sure to only fill any bundt cake  2/3 - 3/4 full. 
  3. In a saucepan, simmer the stout down to 1 1/4 cup. Remove from heat, cut the butter into small pads and to the hot beer, use a whisk and stir. Now, add in the cocoa powder, and also whisk in. Pour the mix into a metal prep bowl, and place into ice water to cool it down (if you add it too hot, it will curdle the eggs).
  4. In a separate prep bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt and set aside. 
  5. In a the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, Greek yogurt, maple syrup, molasses and vanilla. Whisk well, until nicely blended and uniform in appearance. 
  6. Gradually add the (cooled) stout mixture, while stirring on a slow speed. 
  7. Spoon in the flour mixture, folding until just blended, using as few strokes as possible.
  8. The dough will be quite liquidity, don't worry.
  9. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s).
  10. Bake for 40 minutes if using a small bundt pan, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (45min for a large one). You don't want to over bake this cake - err on the slightly moist side. 
  11. Remove from the oven, and turn out onto a cooling rack after seven minutes.
  12. Cool completely.
  13. In a double boiler, mix the chocolate couverture chips with the butter and the vanilla extract until the chocolate is melted. Now, stir in the creme fraiche.
  14. Keep stirring and glaze the cake with a small silicone brush. 


Friday, April 10, 2015

Kale, cherry tomato, chickpea and feta salad

A step in the right direction, finally making my own lunch salad again.

I need a new day routine. Maybe, it comes with spring? The winter has been so long, and the days were too much the same with too cold, too short, and a routine set itself up, and I am burnt out on it. Making my own lunch I pushed to the side. Not sure how to get my motivation back on track....

This salad was good: black chickpeas from the India store cooked in the rice cooker, romaine with a layer of lacinato kale, cherry tomatoes from Trader Joes, the last leftover feta from the farmers market and sprinkles of Thyme and home-made balsamic vinaigrette.

Maybe, it is just a salad at a time.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Goddess Green Kale Hummus

Waking up this morning, the light coming in through the bedroom window was so low that I knew I would need to keep the lights on all day. In an effort to make the best out of this rainy, snowy, dark Easter Saturday, I designated it to be a ‘pajamas day’, an in-house day, cozy in front of the tv with endless netflix movies, never needing to wear any ‘real’ clothes and no need for make-up either, getting some work done, and otherwise just lingering. Sounded great.

kale hummus_g