Category Archives: spring

Swedish almond cake…

So much good news! So little time!  So many babies coming, so many milestones, so many careers changing, so many creative projects moving forward, so many birthdays. I feel so lucky to be able to share in all these moments with the people who move and shape my world.  What I really wish however, is to be able to sit down with every, single, person…over coffee and cake…and just listen to their voice and hear the excitement and nervous energy…moving and shining forward. On this fantasy day we would probably start with a stroll along the sea because walking and talking are soul mates, then maybe we would dust our way through some antiques because…well…treasure hunting is about the journey. Finally, we would rest in the afternoon glow and through twilight and chat over strong Swedish coffee and some almond cake…then maybe switch to wine…because these moments are friendship.  I am missing your faces and selfishly want you all near all the time.  Cannot wait to welcome some new humans and and meet those who are already here, and mostly to share in your process.  Love! Congrats!

Swedish almond cake…

preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 ¼ cup flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

sift together and set aside

¾ cup organic cane sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp bitter almond extract*

1/3 cup almond paste (recipe follows)

1/2 cup melted butter, room temperature (I used salted)

cream ingredients together

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined.  Pour batter into a round 8” greased cake pan.  Bake until toothpick comes out clean, approximately 30 minutes.  Serve to friends over coffee or tea…and don’t forget to smile and gossip.

almond paste:

1 cup sliced, blanched almonds (skin on is fine)

¾ cup powdered sugar

½ tsp bitter almond extract

1 egg white

pinch of salt

combine all ingredients in a food processor until a smooth paste is formed, similar to an organic peanut butter texture.  Add more almonds as necessary to thicken up.

*The extract I use is a Swedish extract called Bitter-mandel, it is very strong and you only need a few drops. You will need more if you use regular almond extract.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!

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Saimin with glass noodles and grilled veggies…

Our adventures on the Big Island- Hawai’i this past week falls somewhere between magical and breathtaking.  We hiked to volcanoes, across black lava flow, bathed in the sun on empty palmed beaches, and felt the mist of waterfalls on our faces.  We also ate without regret.  We ate at local fare restaurants and shopped at farmer’s markets. Beyond the plethora of fruit and veggies we found locally made goat cheese, local beer, and of course seafood.  Hawai’i understandably has a mission to grow and eat locally and minimize consumption of imported goods, you appreciate the effort of getting goods to these islands when standing on their shores, they are geographically truly remote.  With the diversity of micro-climates they grow very successfully and with bounty, and the markets leave you wanting for little.

One meal stands out in particular. It happened to fall on the last day of our vacation. As we headed to the airport with that little pang in our stomachs-already missing our vacation-we found comfort in this rustic little restaurant called The Red Water Café, in Waimea.  My husband had the local catch sandwich and I had the saimin. Saimin is a traditional Hawaiian soup that finds its base and roots in Asia. Full of eclectic flavor, yet hearty and comforting at the same time. Another perk, The Red Water Café makes all their broth from scratch,  and they use local, organic produce.  Take that.  So here is my effort to recreate this soup. This attempt was mostly a selfish effort to help our little family soothe the island withdraw, and ease back into mainland reality. Enjoy this little piece of island heaven.

Saimin with glass noodles and grilled veggies…

marinate (at least 1 hour):

½ package organic, firm tofu, cubed (keep separate)

½ Kobacha squash, cut in half through the equator, then cut into thin moons (really any hard squash you have works fine or even sweet potatoes/yams)

8-10 crimini mushrooms, quartered

in:

Soy sauce to cover the goods

Then about 2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Then cook on grill either indoor or outdoor until nice grill marks appear and the squash tenderizes.

make broth:

8-10 cups vegetable broth (homemade if you can)

2 tbs miso paste

1 large clove garlic, shredded (microplane)

1 tbs fresh ginger, shredded (microplane)

2 tbs soy sauce

let simmer on low heat to bring out all the flavors

then add:

1 package of Asian glass noodles, hydrate per the package instructions first, rinse, then add to broth.

1 organic bok choy, roughly chopped

2 heaping handfuls of bean sprouts

marinated and grilled squash and mushrooms

marinated tofu

Let simmer to infuse all flavors.  Then add salt and more shredded ginger to taste.  At this point I used a specialty smoked sea salt for an extra dimension of flavor.  Williams and Sonoma sells one that is pretty nice.

Serve with a spoon and chopsticks.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Spicy cabbage slaw…

Oh…hello California…it has been a while.  The explanation for foodfilosofi being quite MIA for the past month or so has a little to do with: packing a house, two cross country drives, a graduation, a couple flights here and there, Vegas, San Diego, and a nine month old who is busier than a bee crawling and cruising and clapping and walking with a walker…and oh so many other things.  But, we have finally landed in our new place, granted things are in boxes still and furniture is scarce, but we can finally call this place home…*exhale*.  I found out that our apartment complex has a community garden, and a space just for me with compost and all, a CSA delivers a block away from our front door and they need volunteers on their farm,  there is a huge park right across the street, and some of the people we love the most on this planet live anywhere from 2.65 miles to a 5 hour drive away.  Peanuts compared to transcontinental flying.

There is just something about returning to the elements of which we are made, being born and raised in this state. My body works better, my brain works better, and my heart feels better. Dare I say…my food tastes better?  This slaw was made for an inaugural grilling session with family.  Can’t wait for round two, three, four…

Spicy cabbage slaw…

1 head napa cabbage, roughly chopped

2 carrots, shredded

1 small red pepper, julienned

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 Serrano pepper, minced

2 heaping tbs minced cilantro

a handful (or two) of dry roasted peanuts

1 ½ tbs sesame oil

2 tbs rice vinegar

sprinkle of soy sauce to taste

juice of 1 lime

In a large bowl, combine all the veggies and mix until evenly distributed.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and lime juice.  Pour over salad. Add peanuts on top.  Mix until evenly coated. 

We served this as a side salad with grilled corn on a pleasantly warm evening and a glass of vino.  I also made the slaw again, and used it as a topping for an Asian/Mexican fusion taco. Thick flour tortillas, home soaked black beans with cumin, salt, and pepper, quesco fresco, all topped with this spicy cabbage slaw. I’d do it again too.

I also wanted to say congrats to my beautiful friend Michelle and her hubby, yay for number three! And to Scout Living on their grand opening of their Sacramento design retail space.  How do you guys do it all?  And to Ania and soon to be hubby, and Austin and his soon to be wife, we miss you.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Sliced new potato pizza with pan roasted asparagus…

This recipe is yet another farmer’s market delight.  We were produce obsessed while in California.  Asparagus is perfectly in season beginning in mid-April and their season bumps right up against the beginning of summer. They are one of the first spring vegetables that can be harvested, which makes sense to me given their heartiness, they seem to be the first to stand at attention. I grinned when I found out that asparagus grows in both male and female varieties.  The male being a longer, sturdier stalk, and the female, thinner, as they use much of their energy to produce seeds. I prefer the thinner, more tender stalks with which to cook. I also prefer mine green, verses their chlorophyll deprived cousin, the white asparagus.  Their story just seems so sad, purposely grown and kept underground and out of the sun, hidden from the world, *Sigh*.

This recipe can be put together in minutes and can be adapted in a variety of ways; adding caramelized onions, garnishing with a salad of spring greens on top, or just changing the herb or spice profile.

Sliced new potato pizza with roasted asparagus…

favorite pizza dough, either store bought or homemade

6-8 new red potatoes, thinly sliced

Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded

fresh thyme

olive oil

1/2 garlic bulb, roasted.

salt and cracked pepper

1 bunch asparagus

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare pizza dough per recipe and set aside to rise. 

To roast garlic, cut bulb in half across the equator.  Massage with olive oil and wrap securely in foil. Place in oven at above temperature and cook until cloves are caramelized and soft.

Prepare asparagus, snapping the stalks at the most tender point and discarding (or better yet compost!) the woody ends. Heat a medium pan over high with olive oil.  Add asparagus stalks and season with salt and pepper.  Toss regularly, but allowing asparagus to blacken and caramelized for a smoky flavor.  Set aside. 

On a mandoline, or carefully with a very sharp knife, thinly slice potatoes so that they are almost translucent.  Place in a bowl, coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. 

Roll out pizza dough.  Brush lightly with olive oil. Smash roasted garlic into a paste, and spread thinly over dough.  Layer generously with Parmigiano-Reggiano first, then arrange the potatoes on top. Place in oven until potatoes are tender and crust is golden brown. 

Serve family style with roasted asparagus on top.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!  


Farmer’s spring onion and baby broccoli quiche…

We have been going produce crazy since we arrived in California.  We started by stopping at all the farm stands on our drive into The Peninsula through rich ag country. Local strawberries perfumed our car and mouths, and were the pre-party to the cornucopia that awaited us at the farmer’s markets.  We moseyed to a number of different farmer’s markets, that operate…yes…year-round…and are on the whole, cheaper than shopping at the grocery store.

Our other mission upon arrival to the Monterey Peninsula was to lay eyes on some dear friends and their +1.  So we thought, how about brunch?

My first stop was to Happy Girl Kitchen, Co. (http://happygirlkitchen.com/2010/10/happy-girl-kitchen-opens-new-cafe-in-pacific-grove/) for some organic drip coffee and daily fresh chai muffins. I also made a quiche to help nourish our fellow sleep deprived parents. It was filled with farmer’s market fresh and local produce.

Here is the local profile for the quiche:

shallots: Watsonville

spring onion: San Juan Bautista

baby broccoli: Castroville

California olive oil

eggs: Los Lomas

the cheats:

Parmesan cheese, milk, flour, butter, salt, and pepper.

It was really fun to put this together with what was beautiful at the farmer’s market, which was not difficult as all was close to beautiful and tasty.

A big toast to our friends and their sweet baby boy! He is so very clever to have chosen you two for his very own parents. Love you.

Farmer’s spring onion and baby broccoli quiche…

5 eggs

two large handfuls baby broccoli

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 cup Parmesan cheese

¾ cup milk

generous pinch of salt and pepper

1 tbs flour

olive oil

favorite butter pie crust


Make pie crust and set aside in the refrigerator to cool, about 10-20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Once crust has cooled, roll out into a 9” pie pan and crimp edges.  Prick holes into bottom of crust, and bake for 10-12 minutes, until just golden.

In a pan with olive oil, sauté shallot, spring onion, and baby broccoli.  Cook until baby broccoli is nice and tender. Careful not to burn the onions. Set aside.  Beat eggs, milk, and flour together. Add in a cooled broccoli mixture.  Add in Parmesan, salt, and pepper. 

Decrease oven temperature to 375 degrees.  Pour egg mixture into pre-baked crust. At this point I like to arrange some of the veggies near the top for a nice presentation. Wrap edges or crust with foil and bake until eggs are set, and a knife in the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Let set and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Simple golden beet salad…

I love working with golden beets, they are beautiful and have such a clean flavor. The bright, golden color just invites spring.  Plus, beets are truly a no waste food. I have used the greens in a variety of dishes. I have used them in pastas and soups, made them into pesto, fried them into chips, and in this case, wilted them into the base of a roasted beet salad.  I kept this recipe really simple, it goes up without a fuss and it looks beautiful.  This salad is a result of us trying to use everything in our kitchen as we are getting ready to move, so anything complicated is out of the question. At the same time, there is a creative process to behold; unexpectedly putting together foods and using what you have, I take it as a challenge. We had no salad base in this case, so the greens just made sense. All the while, my little munchkin loved munching on the beet greens while I cooked.  Entertainment for hours I tell ya.

Simple golden beet salad…

4 golden beets

2 cloves garlic

juice of ½ lemon

1 tbs grain mustard

splash of agave nectar

kosher salt and cracked pepper

herbes de provence

Parmesan shavings

olive oil


Separate beetroot and beet greens, rinse greens and set aside.  Scrub beetroot clean, removing any grit.  Preheat oven to broil, place beetroots in a square of aluminum foil. Cover and rub with olive oil, add a pinch of salt, pepper, and herbes de provence.  Wrap tightly and place in the oven.  Cook until fork tender, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. With a paring knife or by hand, remove the thin layer of skin, and cut beetroot into quarters.

Take rinsed beet greens, remove any tough ribbing, and tear into bite-sized pieces.  In a pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil and garlic.  Add beet greens and sauté until tender. Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.

Mix together lemon juice, grain mustard, and agave nectar.

To serve, portion out the beet greens and serve with roasted beetroot on top.  Shave parmesan flakes over the salad. Drizzle with mustard dressing.


Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!


Spring and mascarpone…two ways…

As we are getting ready to move our little family across country, we are making visits to all our favorite places here in Connecticut. One of these favorite places is the most charming of Italian markets. I used to be able to slip away to this market on my lunch break, sit outside in the sun with a good friend, and crunch away on a savory broccoli rabe salad with creamy feta cheese, and sip a limonata.

The counters are overflowing with calzones and pastas. There are always imported goods I want to buy, Italian deserts, and gargantuan homemade garlic loafs of bread. During my most recent saunter through this market I felt compelled to buy the richest, creamiest mascarpone cheese.
I made a surprisingly light and bright sauce that we used as both a pasta sauce and a pizza sauce. Inspired by spring, I also bought anything crisp and green to throw in with the noodles. We made the pizza two nights in a row because we loved it so much, it is really rich and sultry topped with artichokes marinated in olive oil and briny black olives.
As much as we are ready to move “home”, I’m finding pockets of my life here in Connecticut filled with people and places, that are comfortable and warm in my mind’s eye, and I guess that is what home feels like?

mascarpone sauce…

½ cup mascarpone cheese
juice ½ lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced and smashed smooth
salt and cracked pepper
pinch of nutmeg

Mix all ingredients together. It will have the consistency of cream cheese, but this will melt over the hot noodles. If it still is too thick, reserve a little pasta water to thin.

spring pasta…

1 shallot, minced
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, cut on bias
6-8 artichoke hearts, either fresh or fresh frozen, cut into fourths
1 cup green peas
chives
salt and pepper
1 pound farfalle noodles
mascarpone sauce

Boil noodles in salted water until al dente. While pasta is cooking, in a large pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, cook until translucent. Add veggies and season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender but crisp. Drain noodles, reserving about ¼ cup pasta water. While noodles are hot, add mascarpone sauce. If needed add pasta water to thin the sauce. Mix in vegetables. Garnish with chives and a little lemon zest.

Spring pizza…

favorite pizza dough, homemade or store bought
3-4 large artichoke hearts, marinated in olive oil, sliced thinly lengthwise
large handful of pitted marinated black olives, cut in half
semolina flour
olive oil
handful of grated Parmesan cheese
mascarpone sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put in pizza stone or pizza pan to get hot. Have pizza dough come to room temperature (if refrigerated). Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. If using a pizza pan, remove from oven when hot. Drizzle olive oil directly onto pan and sprinkle semolina flour over the oil. Then place the pizza dough onto the pan. This will ensure a nice crispy crust. Then build the pizza, beginning with the mascarpone sauce, then top with artichoke hearts and olives. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Then brush the crust with olive oil (I just use the extra oil that the artichokes came in) and place in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crust is crispy and golden.

I served this pizza with a handful of baby greens on the top, tossed in olive oil and lemon juice for a little freshness.
* If using a pizza stone, build your pizza on your pizza paddle with semolina flour under the pizza dough, skipping the olive oil. Build your pizza and then slide onto the pizza stone. You can still brush the crust with olive oil.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Arugula and celery root salad…

For the past few days I unknowingly kept ignoring the little tan root in the bottom drawer of our refrigerator.  I kept reaching past it for potatoes or onions, thinking, “I’ll get back to that later”. I fumbled through recipes for inspiration, but nothing really sang to me or to that little tan root.  Then I remembered a little side salad we ate at Vinegar Hill House, in Brooklyn (http://www.vinegarhillhouse.com/). It was the cleanest most refreshing salad.  So simple, but perfectly balanced with the rich and velvety pumpkin raviolis they had on the menu at the time. So I began chopping away at the root and this whimsical salad happened. The subtle taste of earthy celery lingers on your palate for the rest of the evening, which is quite pleasant. I would recommend serving this as a final course, European style, after a savory meal. Writing this makes me miss our Brooklyn buddies who are always up to a food challenge and experience, here is a gin and grapefruit toast to you both…plus one.

Arugula and celery root salad…

1 large celery root, cut into matchsticks

3 large handfuls of arugula

juice of ½ lemon

1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

cracked pepper

Parmesan shavings (optional)

Cut celery root into matchsticks and place in a large serving bowl.  Add arugula.  Squeeze lemon over the top, add olive oil, salt, and cracked pepper.  Toss salad together with your hands.  Add Parmesan if desired.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Espresso Banana Muffins…

If you have never seen or read Super Natural Cooking, by Heidi Swanon, give it a whirl, especially if you like to look for sugar and flour alternatives in your baking and cooking lifestyle.  This is hands down my favorite cookbook right now. Plus, I love that she did all her own photography and the book is gorgeous to look at.

I have to give one particular recipe a special nod: the espresso banana muffins, holy delicious. There was no adapting on my part, just pure following the recipe, which I am rarely able to do.  I made them for breakfast, and they have disappeared already…with a little help from our friends of course. The hint of espresso is just genius and they are the perfect breakfast…with the exception of chocolate cake of course.

Espresso Banana Muffins…

2 cups white whole-wheat flour

2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder

½ tsp fine-grain sea salt

1 ¼ cups chopped toasted walnuts

1 tbs fine espresso powder

6 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cups natural cane sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup plain yogurt

1 ½ cups mashed overripe bananas (about 3 large bananas)

Heat oven to 375 degrees, line muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, ¾ cup walnuts, and the espresso powder in a bowl and whisk to combine.

In a separate large bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time.  Stir in the vanilla, yogurt, and mashed bananas, then briefly and gently mix in the dry ingredients; overmixing will result in tough muffins.

Spoon into the prepared muffin tin, top with the remaining ½ cup of walnuts, and bake until golden, about 25 minutes.  Fill the cups 2/3 full for regular muffins or to the brim for a big topped version.  Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 muffins.


One adaptation I did try is making mini muffins with the same recipe, in a small muffin tin without papers.  I baked them at the same temperature, and just watched them until they turned golden brown.  They are delicious and cute.  We also added a little homemade cream cheese frosting which worked nicely.

Cook together, toast to each other, and enjoy!


Blue cheese mac and cheese with slow roasted tomatoes… For two…

Please, please do not crinkle your nose out there with blue ambivalence. People find all sorts of excuses to not fall in love with a good blue cheese. Even those with the most sophisticated of pallets often tend to shy away from a tangy Roquefort, a nutty Stilton, or a sharp, spicy Gorgonzola.  This dish boasts the velvety, creamy bite of Gorgonzola and is balanced out with the coaxed sweetness of slow roasted tomatoes. I used a croissant crouton topping for a little more texture, and believe me, I could have eaten the whole bowl…but reluctantly shared.

While driving home from shopping..err…running some errands, I saw that the Avon Cider Mill happened to have a modest sign of poster board and black sharpie stating: “CONN grown tomatoes here now”.  I nearly crashed into the building trying to get off the road in time, and there they were, the fist local tomatoes of the season that I have seen. Of course they are not as sweet as the late summer tomatoes, but with a little slow roasting, the sugars develop beautifully.

This dish is perfect for a date night.  I love to serve it in one large bowl with two forks and a nice earthy Pino Noir or Burgundy. It is lovely with a crisp, arugula salad and lemon vinaigrette. This dish is really simple at heart, it still maintains the comfort that mac and cheese has to offer, but adds a little elegance with the touch of Gorgonzola.

Blue cheese mac and cheese with slow roasted tomatoes…

For two…

1 ½  cup milk

¼ cup aged cheddar, shredded

½ cup Havarti, shredded

approx 1 tbs Gorgonzola, room temperature

1 tsp mesquite honey

2 tbs butter

1 tbs flour

5-6 small cherry tomatoes

1 croissant

1/4 pound pipe rigate

Start with roasting the tomatoes.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut tomatoes in half, toss with olive oil and a dash of kosher salt. Place them on a baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour; time will vary depending on the size of the tomatoes.  They will look beautifully dried. Cut croissants into 1 inch cubes, toss in olive oil and lightly toast.

Make noodles per directions on the box, cook until al-dente.  Make sure to adequately salt the water. While noodles are cooking, you can make the sauce.  Begin by making a roux: melting the butter and then adding the flour little by little until combined and thick in the pot.  Then, whisk in milk slowly until combined.  Once the milk temperature rises, begin adding the shredded cheeses, mixing well. Do not boil. With a wooden spoon, use up and down motions instead of circular, and the cheese will be less likely to clump. Once all the shredded cheeses are mixed in, add the Gorgonzola in pieces.   Then add honey.

Mix noodles into the cheese sauce, coat evenly. Move mixture into a medium ovenproof bowl.  Crunch croissants over the top, and top with slow roasted tomatoes. Put back into the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to set. Serve warm.


Cook together, share with each other, and enjoy!