three favorite recipes // august 2014

Rice Noodle Salad with Nuoc Cham | Inspired by Epicurious

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If I could I would eat a variation of this every day. This salad has all of the same elements and flavors as my favorite lunch in San Francisco- spring rolls from Out the Door

Summer Peach Crisp | The Year In Food

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I have made this recipe over and over again since Kimberley’s cookbook was released earlier this summer. It’s so delicious (and gluten free)! I highly recommend picking up a copy of Vibrant Food.

Fresh Corn Soup | Inspired by David Lebovitz, Sprouted Kitchen & Food52

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe first corn soup that really caught my attention was this one from Sprouted Kitchen. I made it on a whim for a dinner party three years ago, and it’s the basis of this recipe that I have followed many times since. Whenever you cut corn off the cob (in the summertime), save the cobs in the refrigerator until you are ready to make stock. When you do, cover them with salted water in the pot and simmer for several hours. The drained stock that results will add an extra depth of flavor to the soup that is more than worth the minimal effort.

I few variations I recommend: adding more heat with some roasted poblanos, texture (like David Lebovitz’ recipe here), or serving the soup as a base with a variety of toppings – roasted veggies, salsa & avocado (like pictured above), or even pork shoulder.

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point reyes

 

 

for our first anniversary, jon and I went to inverness. it’s a tiny little town, and one of only a handful or so that can be found dotted along the point reyes national seashore. it’s quiet and beautiful and there are so many places to wander.

some of my favorite things from the weekend: the drive on pierce point road out to mcclures beach (pictured below); dinner at sir at star, oysters and garlic fries at nick’s cove, and the hike to bass lake. on the list for the next trip: rent kayaks on tomales bay and hang out on those deserted beaches with a picnic and a book, eat at saltwater oyster depot, and hike the tomales bay trail.

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elk

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chocolate chip meringues

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One of my favorite parts of having lived in several different cities is the opportunity it has given me to explore each place through food. It’s unofficially become my technique for tackling a new home: make a list of coffee shops, book stores, and restaurants by neighborhood, and slowly wind my way through. I not only learn public transportation routes in the process, but usually get to meet some really great people along the way, too.

Even though I’m not actively thinking about these places in other cities (most of the time), when my friends or family members are planning a trip to Boston, driving through Chicago, or flying out to visit Jon and I in San Francisco, I have the opportunity to share some of my ideas. These may not be the top restaurants in your mind, but at them I found the cups of coffee and slices of peanut butter toast that helped each city feel like home.

I typed out a list for Boston earlier today (my sister is going there next month), and while I was working my way through the South End and Cambridge, Flour Bakery came to mind.  There’s a lot on the menu to love – the roasted chicken sandwich “as salad” for one – but my favorite is their meringue. There’s two varieties – almond, and chocolate – crunchy on the exterior and chewy inside, flecked with bits of toasted sliced almonds and shaved dark chocolate respectively. After I adding the Massachusetts Ave. location to my sisters’ list, I decided to make some chocolate chip meringues at home.

Since I don’t yet own the Flour cookbook, I decided to use a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which you can find here.  If you’d like to know some of my other favorite places, just ask and I would be more than happy to share!  Until next time, Boston.

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Diptych

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a simple arugula salad

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A little while back, I went to lunch at Bar Tartine with a friend.  Their signature tartines are out of the picture for me (there’s a small amount of buttermilk in the rye bread), but there are plenty of other options on the menu, and that day, any hint of disappointment I had quickly dissolved when my lunch was set in front of me: chicories and other greens were layered with slivers of fennel, watermelon radish, and grated fresh horseradish. Have you ever had fresh horseradish on a salad? Apparently it’s a thing in San Francisco, as I had another salad two nights ago at Magnolia with a generous amount shredded on top. It was a little confusing to me at first – at Tartine, I thought that somehow my dairy allergy had been misunderstood and some asiago or parmesan had snuck into the bowl. But alas, horseradish. To be honest, I feel like I’m gaining something here. I do miss cheese, but in some way, this makes it a little more tolerable. It’s a little spicy, soft, and lends a wonderful flavor to whatever you add it to.

This week has been a weird sort of busy. I picked up a lot of greens last time I went to the store, and have been trying to keep some homemade salad dressing in the fridge to make dinner a little less complicated. Arugula, dijon-white wine vinaigrette, and a little fresh grated horseradish. It’s my new favorite simple salad.

Salad

1 inch knob of peeled fresh horseradish

4 cups washed and dried arugula

Dressing (below)

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Vinaigrette 

Adapted slightly from 101 Cookbooks

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons lemon or meyer lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup olive oil

Combine everything in a small jar & shake to fully combine. Toss with the arugula and season with black pepper. You may not need all of the dressing, but it keeps well in the fridge. Grate the horseradish on top and serve!

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brown rice + almond butter granola bars

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I was having a difficult time trying to figure out what I should call these. I’ve made them so many times, but each time, they’ve been a little different – which is, I suppose, a big part of the reason I love the recipe so much.

Essentially, you can make the granola bar to your taste by mixing in different combinations of dried fruit and nuts (or chocolate). I’m partial to dried cherries and almonds, so that is what I usually start with (and the recipe I chose to include here). In the past, I’ve also included dried apricots and pumpkin seeds – and am sure that dried blueberries, hazelnuts, or walnuts would be equally delicious. The key component that allows for their versatility is the honey-almond butter “glue” that holds them together.

In case the recipes here haven’t given me away just yet, I have a dairy and soy allergy. I have learned the hard way that when traveling, especially during the airport portion, eating can be pretty tricky unless I plan in ahead. Almost all of the time, the seemingly simple things like bread, oatmeal, and even organic whole ingredient snack bars have traces of milk or soy lecithin (if you have to read food labels for any reason,  you can relate). So since Jon and I will be traveling this weekend, I decided to make these to take along. They pack really well and are a good snack on the plane.

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Before you get started, here are a few things you should know about this recipe. 1) If you have the time and equipment, I highly recommend making your own almond butter. It’s very easy, and makes a world of difference in the final product. 2) If you exceed the amount of dried fruit or nuts/seeds listed, you’ll likely have to compensate with a higher volume of the almond butter and honey mixture. The ratio is roughly 3:2 (fruit/nut to almond butter mixture) 3) Toast the oats, seeds, and nuts separately. Each has a different optimal toasting time, and the turning point is often reached quickly, so watch them carefully. They will become fragrant and slightly browned when done.

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brown rice + almond butter granola bars

(adapted from food 52)

1 1/2 cups gluten free oats*

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 cup raw sliced almonds

1 1/2 cups dried cherries

3 cups brown rice cereal

1 cup almond butter (see recipe below)

1 cup raw honey

1 tsp. salt (only if almond butter is unsalted, otherwise 1/2 tsp.)

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

*This version also happens to be gluten-free, as the brown rice cereal is naturally, and the oats can easily be swapped for a gluten-free variety. Regular old fashioned oats work just as well.

Preheat the oven to 350. Toast the oats, almonds, and sunflower seeds separately. The oats should take about 15 minutes, sunflower seeds about 12-14, and almonds about 10-12. Meanwhile, measure the rice cereal into a large bowl. As you finish toasting the oats, seeds, and nuts, add them to the bowl with the cereal. Once everything is done and slightly cooled, add the cherries and mix well to combine.

Prepare a 13×9 pan by greasing it slightly. Alternatively, line the pan with parchment paper to prevent the bars from sticking.

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In a small saucepan, combine the honey and almond butter. Heat on low, just until the mixture thins slightly and small bubbles form on the sides. It’s important not to let the mixture boil, it will make it too dry and won’t hold the bars together well. Once it’s heated, add the salt and cinnamon and stir until incorporated. Pour the warmed almond butter and honey over the cereal mixture, and toss gently but thoroughly to make sure everything is combined.

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Pour the mixture into the prepared 13×9 pan, using a spatula to distribute it evenly. Once it is loosely in place, take a sheet of parchment paper the size of the pan and lay over top. Use your hands to press the bars into the corners, smoothing over the top as you go. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day (or at least 4 hours later), cut the bars however you like and store them in an airtight container.

almond butter

3 cups raw almonds

1 tsp. raw honey

1-2 tsp. sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Toss the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 12 minutes. Let cool slightly, but not completely. Put all three cups in a food processor, and process to a fine powder. At this point, the almonds will start to break down. Continue to let the processor run, stopping to scrape down the sides every 2 minutes or so. When it’s finished, it will be smooth and creamy, usually after letting the food processor run for at least 10-12 minutes. Add the salt and honey, and pulse to combine. Store in an airtight jar. You will use almost all of it for the granola bars.

all celebrations

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there is a lot for me to be thankful for already this year.

that said, 2012 was a pretty big one for me – and without even taking the first half of it into account (when some of the biggest and happiest events took place) – the six months that have passed since I moved out to san francisco have been a little bit of everything. I’ve been conference planning, job hunting, exploring the city & learning new bus routes, cooking a lot, working for a small chocolate company, meeting lots of very talented people, making new friends, recovering from injuries, and cooking some more. even though jon has called this apartment home for over two years now, I am starting to feel like it’s my home now, too.

I’m glad that at the beginning of 2013, when somehow everything feels like it’s starting again, that I am feeling settled in my place. I have been a little absent here, I realize, but I’ve been doing some brainstorming and a bit of changing things around, and I’m excited for those little changes. web designer I am not, but when I look back to when I started writing a few years ago, I am happy with the progress on this blog and hope to continuously improve. other than general layout, i’ve added a recipe page as a way to catalogue my cooking experiments (see below “about”). Rest assured – even though my posts have been sporadic, I definitely have not stopped cooking, and am looking forward to sharing some of my new favorites here in the coming weeks and months.

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on the topic of new favorites, this recipe definitely is high on the list of desserts – from bon appetit’s march 2012 issue. It’s actually a vegan cake (great for me), and has such intense chocolate flavor (while being incredibly light & moist, somehow – even better). it’s amazing, every time. it also halves really nicely, and goes well with a variety of frostings, or on it’s own.

for jon’s birthday last year, I made (dairy free, soy free) peanut butter buttercream to go on top. here’s to 2013, and all sorts of celebrations to come!

chocolate cake (slightly adapted from bon appetit)

*see note for making a layer cake!

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 t. kosher salt

1 t. baking soda

1/4 cup vegetable oil (plus 1 T. to grease the pan)

1 t. vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate

*I doubled the recipe & used a 9” round and 4” round cake pan to make a layered cake. baking times – for the 4” cake at 350 – roughly 20-25 minutes, rotating half-way through. for the 9” cake, plan on around 30-35 minutes. watch carefully, you don’t want to overcook this one & make it dry.

Preheat the oven to 350, and coat the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 x 2 pan with the oil, then line the bottom with parchment paper. whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda together in a bowl. add the oil, vanilla, and 1 1/4 cup water, whisk till smooth. fold in chopped chocolate. scrape into the pan, and bake until tester come out clean when inserted into the center – roughly 35 minutes. let sit until the pan is cool enough to touch, and carefully invert the cake onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

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peanut butter buttercream

(*bon appetit’s version is lighter than traditional buttercream & is great on this cake, but for jon’s birthday cake, I went for something a little different)

2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (non-natural peanut butter works better here)

8 T. (1 cup) soy-free earth balance, at room temperature

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 t. vanilla

1-2 T. almond milk (if needed)

in a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, vanilla and earth balance and beat until well incorporated, 1-2 minutes. with the beater on slow, add in the confectioners sugar in 1/4 cup increments, beat after each addition. if the frosting looks a little dry (will depend in part on the peanut butter you use), add 1 – 2 tablespoons of almond milk to make it smooth & creamy.

once the cake has cooled completely, carefully lift it to a plate or serving tray, and frost the sides and top with the buttercream. (you may not need all of the frosting). finish the cake with chocolate shavings.

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