This week’s potluck cookoff is themed Greens & Herbs. I love to do the you think it should be sweet but it’s savory trick, and decided I’d make an olive oil cake. I had one once for dessert at an Italian restaurant last year involving an impromptu afternoon trip to botanic gardens, a bottle of wine, bike ride ghetto kids style, and all sorts of hijinx. The cake and day were both really good.
Since this is for the cookoff, which will produce a cookbook at the end, I am not going to post the recipe – unless it wins, and then I will amend this post We shall see… Instead I will provide another recipe that I came across while researching how to make this kind of cake, and it sounded very awesome. It involves chocolate, and you know you can’t go wrong if there is chocolate involved. If you have not looked at this website, it is fantastic also, so make sure to check out other things besides this.
I hope you guys can put up with some nice pictures until I know the verdict on how it tastes, not just how it looks!
Today was super productive. I cleaned out my little house, mowed the lawn, cleaned the pounds of fresh, local ramps that my mom’s friend gave us (I have so much more – this is officially Ramp Week here at the diner, by the way), made pie crusts, juiced 20 limes, vacuumed, swept, mopped, carried a picnic table, and shared a lovely mother’s day meal with my family. While I mowed, I was thinking about unconditional love. That is what comes to mind on mother’s day, and how lucky I always have been to have so much of it in my life – not just from my own family, but friends, and other people too. Now that some of my friends are having kids, I was thinking about what unconditional love means to me.
I landed on this definition as I was mowing the lawn: Unconditional love is not a sentiment, it is a responsibility. Love is a hugely beautiful thing, and I am glad to know it very well. But it is what you do when things are not easy or given anymore that this becomes crucial. Today I thought a lot about how I want to show that kind of love to the people in my life I feel so strongly about – what is the best way to nurture that responsibility and to be a rock for them? I have not asked that question of myself in a long time. Since I moved back home, my family has shown me unconditional love not by just being kind, but being present themselves in order to do so. That is where the words evaporate and all that is left are people doing everything they can to help each other. I feel like I have a lot left to learn, but that it is flowing through my hands every time I break bread with people. That is something I can always do when things are falling apart, or everyone else is too tired, unmotivated. I am always willing and able to cook good food. Now, what else can I do? I feel like some things are starting to make sense finally, and I am glad that it is easier to know how to do what my heart is telling me. My mom asked me to make her key lime pie for dessert, and so I squeezed the limes by hand. I cut them in half and tried to get every bit of juice out, leaving my small hands sore and sticky. Love is worth it, though, and I know that I have people who would squeeze limes by hand for me in a jiffy.
Thanks, Mom. You are so special to me, and I am so glad I am getting to spend my days with you right now. You’re always there when I need you. And I will always make you key lime pie and risotto, whenever you ask.
Mother’s Day Key Lime Pie
Verbatim from Joy of Cooking
- Single pie crust, pre-baked
- Can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 1 tsp salt
- Meringue topping, if you like
- Make the pie crust and bake it until lightly golden brown at 350
- Mix the condensed milk, lime juice and salt. It’s really cool how it all comes together.
- Make the meringue and put that on top if you want, then bake it at 350 for 10-15 minutes.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup golden balsamic or white wine
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 20 ramps, divided and chopped (including the leaves)
- 1 medium vidalia onion, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 log goats cheese
- 1/2 cup parano cheese, grated
- 1/4-1/2 up yogurt
- 4 cups stock
- 2 bay leaves
- So let’s talk about the ramps: what I did was slice them all horizontally up through to the top, and put them in a bowl. Then I took some of the white parts out and mixed them with the onions I would start my saute with. I reserved the rest to be added in at the end. Chop of the rest of the vegetables, mincue the garlic, and the parsley. Place in dishes so it’s easy to add them in at the right times during cooking.
- Heat stock in a saucepan on the stove, toss in the bay leaves.
- Melt butter in the olive oil, and begin sauteing the onion, garlic, then the mushrooms. Add in some salt and pepper, the coriander.
- Add in rice and stir it around for a bit, then deglaze with the vinegar or wine. Then begin adding your stock, stirring as it gets absorbed. You don’t have to stand over it, just ensure it isn’t boiling or getting too dry.
- At the end of cooking, add in the cheeses and yogurt. You can even add some more olive oil or butter, use cream if you want it to be heavier. Then stir in the aromatics – the remaining ramps, and the parsley. Squeeze in the lemon. Salt and pepper adjustment if you need to.
- At the end I quickly stir fried some more whole ramps as a topping, just in some olive oil over high heat. Added salt and pepper, deglazed with golden balsamic, and squeezed some lemon over. Topped everything with chopped pistachios.
I love this dessert so much. Last time I made it was the classic way, with cherries. I made little muffin sized ones, which was a nice twist. This time I twisted it by using strawberries, while cooking it in the traditional large pan. The recipe is the same one I used before, on this time substituting the strawberries. Make sure you butter the pan really well, or it will stick and get all messed up when you try to serve it.
The swirl on this is a store bought balsamic reduction sauce I put on things all the time. Balsamic vinegar makes a fantastic addition to fruity desserts because of its sweet and tangy nature, it compliments berries especially well. I recommend a splash in any cobbler, crumble, or clafoutis you make this season!
I would also like to share some music with everyone this morning. My friends have released a fantastic new album you all should totally check out. Grand & Noble has been working hard on getting this out, and will hopefully be playing some shows this summer in Chicago and surrounding areas! You can listen to the tracks, and buy the album here. My favorite tracks (at the moment) are In Effigy and Send Me On My Way.
When there are days like this you can just tell people about them, and then it is easier to remember how nice everybody you know is. When there are days like this, when it’s a little colder than you’d like it to be, then you can remember how it’s not even colder. Can we all help other work on not complaining so much, or putting negative spin onto small details, which then cast so many small shadows across our days. Before we truly realise how it became cloudy inside our heads and hearts, and it’s not just the weather that is colder than we would like. It is thoughts, it is not smiling enough, it is salty wet cheeks, it is forgetting how lucky, it is remembering the bad before the good, it is forgetting the good because of time spend remembering the bad, and it is definitely one of those days you make banana bread and banana muffins. Then you can give little parts of your day to others who help you remember that to be loved, you must love in return. And not just say about it, do about it. When I stirred the batter, I just might have added more than enough salt, but maybe that part of me needs to be added in for good measure. If I did not create this myself, and stir it in, then I must not be living. If I did not watch it dissolve, and remember how many times we stirred in the brown butter, if I stop doing what I love because sometimes it makes me even a little bit sadder, then how would I find so many new things to show you that I learned along the way?
Today I remembered why I know what to do when there are days like this, and I made something beautiful for my heart and yours; these are for you.
I have been meaning to update this since I got back, so I am going to begin with this:
I also had the pleasure of cooking with my cousin, Shelby. She and I have not spent much time together in general, let alone just the two of us. We went on a nice walk, and I showed her how to poach fish! We used this steelhead that my Grandpa’s friend, Jason, caught. It feels good to eat fish that someone got out of the water themselves, not from some distant ocean with so much bycatch, fossil fuels, and storage involved. It kind of sucks because I love to eat fish, and I want to eat more of it, but I always feel kind of …. fishy when I do. My cousin Cameron is a fisherman, though, so maybe he and I can spend some time in a boat catching blue gill. That would be pretty awesome.
We also made dessert – blueberry crisp!
The Diner was definitely still open, as well. Breakfast & coffee with my mom has been a special time for me over the years – we both always have breakfast, and so this part of the day is the bedrock for the rest. It makes me super happy.
This is definitely not pie. But, it is the closest I am going to come to it at this point in the day. I didn’t even make it on Pi Day… this is, actually, a coincidence. One, which, I do not think can be chalked up to any interesting mathematical concept. Really, this is what I would call this a buckle, or some kind of crumble.
Blueberry Oat Thing
- 4 cups of frozen blueberries
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- juice of half a lemon
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 4-6 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups oats and/or granola
- dried fruit
1. Bring the bottom layer ingredients to a simmer in a saucepan until the liquid is slightly reduced and thickened. You could add some corn starch as well to expedite this or make it as thick as you like. Butter a 13×9 glass baking pan.
2. Mix all the Topping Layer ingredients together and sprinkle over the top of the bottom layer. Bake at 375 till the blueberries are bubbling and the topping is browned.
(Er, I mean,Valentine’s Day)
Room 11 for soup & salad
Lovely ladies, fantastic vegan squash lasagna, Meena’s cous cous salad, and vegan chocolate cake made by Solmaz! Met some great women, talked about interesting things, and ate good food. Was much needed.
Cherry Clafoutis is a classic, and incredible simple, French dessert. It consists of so few ingredients it is hard to imagine how delicious and rich they can taste! This can be made, as I have done, in individual portions like this. Or, it can be poured into a larger pan and cooked in one big mass.
1 lb cherries, pitted and halved
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar (or use less if you like)
1/4 t salt
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
confectioners sugar for dusting
butter for greasing your pan
1.Preheat oven to 350.
2. Grease pan VERY well, otherwise it will stick and not be as pretty
3. Toss cherries with half the sugar and set aside
4. Beat eggs with milk, lemon, vanilla, salt, and remaining sugar
5. Spread out cherries over the bottom of pan/muffin cups, and pour the batter over it
6. Bake for 30-45 if doing a large pan – muffins will take less time. You will know they are done when you touch them and they have firmed up; can also test with a toothpick.
Mixed Berry Balsamic Sauce
Note: scale up the recipe if you’d like to really sauce up the clafoutis.
1-2 cups mixed frozen berries
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar (if you want it really sweet)
2 tbsp honey
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1. Place all ingredients into a sauce pan and simmer until the liquid has reduced, mashing in the meantime to create a sauce.
2. Top the clafoutis with the sauce and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
There were some bananas that really needed to get used, and so David said we should make banana bread. I made a double batch, which produced a loaf of bread and 12 muffins.
Browned Butter Banana Bread
2 cups mashed banana
6 oz unsweetened appleasauce
1 stick unsalted butter, browned
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
package of quality chocolate chips
1. Melt butter in a pan over medium high heat and cook until just browned – careful not to burn it! Mash up the bananas, and mix in applesauce. Whisk butter into the fruit mixture, add vanilla. Set aside and let cool.
2. In a separate large mixing bowl mix all the dry ingredients.
3. Mix the eggs into the cooled off fruit/butter mixture, then fold that in carefully to the dry ingredients. Be sure not to overmix. Add in the chocolate chips, and pour into prepared baking dishes.
4. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes on the loaf, or 12-15 for the muffins.
Cold, clear winter’s day with a stale loaf of bread on the counter? Leftover pumpkin from Thanksgiving? Just enough chocolate chips from a cookie project left in the bottom of the freezer? Bag of almonds and maple syrup? Sounds like bread pudding to me…
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
serves 6-10 (depending on how you slice it)
1 1/4 cups milk (I used whole, but 2 percent would work, or you could be really decadent and use half and half or cream)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
2 1/4 cups cubed challah (you can use any bread that you have laying around)
2 1/4 cups cubed croissants
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice (I used slivered almonds)
1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Spoon into an 8×8 baking dish and let sit for at least 30 minutes, preferably several hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and place the baking dish into a 9×13 inch pan filled with 1 inch of water. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover it and bake another 10 minutes.
3. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup, nuts, and nice vanilla ice cream.
The profiterole project had been in the works for a few days. Several dinners came and went without dessert, as by the time anyone remembered we still had to make them, enough wine had been consumed for them to seem unnecessary and laborious. David was leaving for India that night, and I wanted to make them for him before his trip. Pizza followed by profiteroles is a fantastic combination, by the way.
On Sunday the cream was still in the refrigerator, the Vitamix was sitting on the counter ready for the dough. We had eggs. We had butter. We also had motivation. This was my first time making a French dessert, and it turned out to be so easy and fun! It was a great beginner’s recipe. I used Ina Garten’s recipe. I didn’t make the chocolate sauce, but I did make whipped cream to put on top of each one.
- 1 cup milk
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup flour
- 4 extra large eggs
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- use the rest of the cream to make whipped cream
- vanilla ice cream
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Heat milk, butter, and salt over medium heat until scalded. After the butter is melted, add in the flour and mix to form a dough. Cook the dough, stirring the whole time, over low heat for 2 minutes.
3. Put the dough into a food processor (I used a Vitamix). Add in the eggs, and pulse until they are fully incorporated and have thickened the dough.
4. Spoon the dough into a pastry bag – I actually just used a ziploc bag and trimmed a small hole in the corner to force the dough out of, for lack of anything else. Pipe 18 1 1/2 inch puffs onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Make sure they have enough room (about 1 inch apart). Use your fingers to round off the tops of the puffs, then bake them for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and let them bake for another 10 minutes, and cut a slit in the top of each one to release the steam. You’ll know they are done when you tap them and they sound hollow .
5. To serve, cut each one in half, spoon a dollop of ice cream on each bottom half, place the top on it, and then add a dollop of whipped cream. Drizzle with chocolate sauce if you are so inclined. Serve and consume immediately!
I have made this dessert the past 2 days, and it has hit the spot.
Just Because Dessert
1 ripe pear, skin removed and sliced
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp-1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2-1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp flour
squeeze of lemon
1/8 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 tbsp berry preserves
chopped candied nuts or granola
1. Toss pears with all ingredients up through the salt
2. Melt butter in a pan and saute the pears in it until they are softened and smelling great. Add in the flour and toss in some oats as well if you’d like.
3. While the pears are cooking, defrost the berries in a pan or microwave. You could also use fresh berries, but I only have frozen now since it is winter.
4. Serve the pears with as much greek yogurt as you’d like and top the yogurt with the fruit sauce and nuts.
So I really love to bake stuff, but I have not posted very many recipes of sweet things. I made this birthday cake for my friends to share with me, and everyone liked it a lot. I also made caramel sauce to go on top!
The cake is one that I have been making often recently: a simple French yogurt gateau. It is so simple, reasonably healthy, and versatile. I do not even use oil or butter in the cake (except to grease the pan) because when you add enough yogurt and fruit the cake is plenty moist.
You can add the strusel if you want, or keep it super simple without. Serve with ice cream though!!
French Yogurt Cake with fresh Apples
adapted from FoodBeam
2 containers of vanilla yogurt (i really like wallaby)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1-2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of good salt
up to 3/4 C brown sugar (I usually use a bit less)
juice from one lemon
zest from the lemon also
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp honey
4-5 gala apples roughly chopped
3/4 C rolled oats
3/4 C flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter (or less if you want)
just crumble all this together–i usually just use my hands and smash it all up.
1. Grease a ceramic cassoulet pan with butter and sprinkle with sugar
2. Preheat oven to 350
3. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl
4. Add in yogurt, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice/zest and sugar
5. Mix in the chopped apples
6. Bake in the oven and while it’s in prepare the strusel. After about 20-25 minutes add on the strusel topping and bake for another 15 minutes or so. If you want to make the topping really crispy you could broil it at the end.