June in the Kitchen – Lavender Nut Cake

June in the Kitchen – Lavender Nut Cake

My blog has been going for almost a year, yet this is only the second dessert recipe I have posted. My tastes don’t usually run to sweet, more to salty. And in the interests of keeping the “middle-aged spread” to a minimum, I carefully dole out my carbs. Enter this wonderful vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, Paleo friendly, low carbohydrate cake made from cashews. I served it in thin slices for dessert with fresh fruit, but you could cut it into larger slices for breakfast scones.  It would be wonderful anytime with a cup of Earl Grey. It’s dense and flavorful with honey and lavender. And best of all, this is an easy and delicious recipe.

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Lavender season is in full bloom in Northern California so it seemed appropriate to season it with fresh lavender. Make sure you purchase food grade lavender (I purchased dried lavender at Williams Sonoma) or use blooms that have not been sprayed with any pesticides or herbicides.

Lavender

  • 1 1/2 cups of Cashews (or 1 1/3 cups ground). I used unsalted but roast Cashews.
  • 1/4 cup of Arrowroot
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of lavender
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons of honey (or 3 tablespoons of maple syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

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  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch metal pie plate with parchment paper.
  2. Blend the cashews in a food processor until powdered.
  3. Whisk all the dry ingredients (powdered cashews, arrowroot, salt, baking powder and lavender) together in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk the wet ingredients together, stir into the dry ones.
  5. Pour into the lined baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.

    Cashew and Lavender Cake

    Cashew and Lavender Cake

  6. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday for the guests at Angie’s to enjoy.

Fiesta Friday

February in the Kitchen – Bread and Butter Panettone Pudding Tart

February in the Kitchen – Bread and Butter Panettone Pudding Tart

I love panettone. I eagerly look forward to seeing the first boxes at my local market. For me it signals the beginning of the real Christmas season, I don’t see it in October (unlike many other things of which I can easily rant). Lightly toasted with a smear of lemon curd, a cup of dark strong tea beside it…heaven…it’s hard to beat. However, I am the only one in my family who feels that way. All the rest turn up their noses. This year, in a burst of early Christmas season enthusiasm, I purchased two. And now, in February, I find one box still on my kitchen counter. It was time to do something (although it would probably keep till next Christmas).

I saw a recipe from Jamie Oliver for a “Bonkers bread & butter panettone pudding tart”. Although the measurements were in milliliters and grams, I decided to take the plunge. The following recipe is almost as written on his website, converted to oz., cups and tablespoons. I had to make a substitution as, at the last minute, I discovered there was no milk in the house (no one drinks it). I substituted unsweetened almond milk.

Panettone tart

Panettone Pudding Tart

Save the recipe, pin it, until Christmas comes around again, or make your own panettone as the talented bakers featured on “In Your Kitchen” monthly blog party have done.

This bread and butter pudding, layered with panettone, chocolate, orange marmalade and custard is a winner.

Bread and Butter Panettone Pudding Tart (serves 8 generously)

  • 1 box (750 g) plain panettone
  • 9 tablespoons of unsalted butter plus extra for greasing the tart pan (125 g)
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 ¼ cup of heavy cream (300 ml)
  • 1 ¼ cup of whole milk (I used almond milk) (300 ml)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 7 tablespoons of light brown sugar (100 g)
  • 60 grams (about ¾ of a regular chocolate bar) of 70% or more dark chocolate
  • 5 tablespoons of bitter orange marmalade (60 g)

You will need an 11-inch (28 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. (180 degrees C)
  2. Lightly grease an 11-inch (28 cm) tart pan with removable bottom with softened butter.
  3. Crush 2 tablespoons of sugar in a mortar and pestle until finely ground. Mix in the additional 2 tablespoons.
  4. Add the sugar to the tart pan and shake around to coat. Add any extra back into the bowl of your mortar.
  5. Cut the crust off the panettone and line the sides and bottom of the tart pan. Press the bread firmly into the pan to make a shell.
  6. Halve the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape out the seeds, put both the seeds and pod into a saucepan. Add the cream, milk and butter. Bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes or until the butter is completely melted.
  7. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large bowl with the light brown sugar for about 2 minutes or until smooth.
  8. Whisking constantly, slowly add the hot milk and cream to the eggs. Discard the vanilla pod.
  9. Pour 1/3 of the custard into the shell of the tart and spread it to cover the bottom.
  10. Tear the remaining panettone into chunks and add to the custard in the bowl. Let it soak up the wonderful eggy mess.
  11. After a few minutes you can start layering bits of chocolate and small spoons of orange marmalade between layers of panettone soaked in custard.
  12. Pour over any leftover custard. And sprinkle with any remaining sugar.
  13. Bake about 25 minutes, until set. Allow to cool and rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Panettone pudding

Ready to bake

Bread and Butter Pudding with Ice crean

Bread and Butter Pudding with Ice crean

Serve with ice cream, custard, or whipped cream. My family didn’t turn up their noses this time.

It was also delicious cold the next morning with a dollop of lemon curd and hot tea.

Panettone pudding with lemon curd

Panettone pudding with lemon curd

December in the kitchen – Raspberry streusel bars

December in the kitchen – Raspberry streusel bars

These bars are a wonderfully easy dessert for a large party, cookie exchange, or other holiday gathering. I dare you to eat only one! It is impossible to resist nibbling at the crumbled cookie pieces left in the pan after they are cut.

Cookie crumbs

Cookie crumbs

The recipe is called raspberry streusel and calls for raspberry jam and fresh raspberries. However, when I was ready to make them not a single jar of raspberry jam was to be found anywhere in the house (I was sure there was one in the pantry somewhere); a jar of mixed berry jam was successfully substituted. The bars turned out delicious. Feel free to substitute any kind of berry jam for the raspberry jam in the recipe, and any fresh (or frozen berry). I even think the bars would be wonderful with apricots if there is a glut in your house. Unfortunately we will have to wait a few months before fresh apricots are in season (dried ones could work if reconsititued…let me know if you try it).

This recipe is adapted from one in Cook’s Illustrated, October 2005.

bar cookies

Raspberry streusel bars

Raspberry Streusel Bars

Crust:

  • 3 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter (12 oz.) at room temperature, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking spray or butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, process flour, sugar, and salt until combined, about 5 seconds.
  3. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour and pulse until mixture looks like damp sand, about 20 1-second pulses.
  4. Remove 1/3 of the crust mixture into a medium bowl and set side.
  5. Line a sheet pan or jellyroll pan with parchment paper and apply baking spray, or coat with butter.
  6. Using your hands or a flat-bottomed measuring cup, firmly press the remaining 2/3 of the mixture in an even layer to form the bottom crust.
  7. Bake until the edges begin to brown, about 12-15 minutes.

Streusel and filling:

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup pecan pieces, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
  • 1 ¼ cups raspberry or other berry preserves
  • 2 cups of fresh raspberries or 1 ½ cups of strained thawed frozen fruit (can use strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. While crust is baking, make the streusel topping. Add brown sugar, oats, and nuts to the reserved crust mixture; toss to combine.
  2. Work in the butter by rubbing mixture between your fingers until the butter is fully incorporated. Pinch mixture with your fingers to create pea-sized clumps. Set aside.
  3. Make the filling: In a small bowl combine the preserves, berries, lemon juice, and salt. Mash with a fork until combined but some small berry pieces remain.
  4. Spread the filling evenly over the hot crust.
  5. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the filling (do not press).
  6. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the topping is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling., about 18 minutes.
  7. Cool slightly in the refrigerator before cutting into squares or rectangles with a sharp chef’s knife.
streusel cookies

Raspberry streusel bars

 

streusel bars

Streusel bars

I’m taking these to share with the gang at Fiesta Friday, you’ll find the party at Angie’s Novice Gardener blog. Please join us!

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November in the kitchen – Pot of Chocolate

November in the kitchen – Pot of Chocolate

My friends know I don’t do dessert. I’m happy with cheese and bread, or chocolates and candied ginger, or both. However, I realize that not everyone is of the same ilk. If you are coming to my house for dinner and want to bring something, dessert it is, almost always. There are some fabulous bakers among my friends; their creations are always a hit. I never turn down dessert, as long as I don’t have to make it.

Don’t you think folks fall into two groups, those whose weakness is sweet and those who love salty things? I’m in the later category. Don’t put a bowl of chips in front of me…gone! It’s embarrassing. I like salty, crunchy foods.

However, to get back to dessert and Pot of Chocolate, everyone needs an easy quick delicious dessert in their back pocket. This one is my ‘go to’ recipe. I do love chocolate! The original source is a little book titled “Appendix to the I Hate to Cook Book”. It was published in 1966, written by Peg Bracken, who died in 2007 at the age of 89. The 60’s were the days of Julia Child; this book was for the anti-Julia Child group. Ms. Bracken wrote for reluctant cooks like herself, who knew that some activities — particularly childbearing, paying taxes and cooking — “become no less painful through repetition.” Her book, she wrote, was “for those of us who want to fold our big dishwater hands around a dry martini instead of a wet flounder.”

Of all things, my mother introduced me to the book, she of the classical French cooking school. She could sure cook, but she wasn’t a snob. She made this chocolate mousse for large parties (and never gave out the recipe). So you, my friends, are getting one of the family secrets.

The “I Hate” books are still in print and are fun to read for their irreverent backlash to spending hours in the kitchen.

Ms. Bracken calls this by the fancy name “Pot-de-Chocolat”.

Pot of Chocolate (serves 8)

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ¼ scalded light cream or half and half
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or run or your choice of liqueur
Coffee Nibs - Pot of Chocolate

Coffee Nibs – Pot of Chocolate

  1. Put the chocolate chips into the bowl of your blender; add the scalded milk, egg yolks and liqueur.
  2. Turn on the blender to high and blend until everything is smooth and creamy
  3. Pour into small teacups or serving dishes (this is very rich, you don’t need very much to satisfy a sweet tooth)
  4. Chill for at least 3 hours, it will firm up as it cools
  5. Garnish with whatever you have at hand…maybe a dollop of whipped cream, or a fresh raspberry, or a piece of candied ginger, a few toasted almonds, or a curl of chocolate. It’s also very good just plain, as-is.

Presentation wise this lends itself to any event you have planned…earthy or fancy.

Pots of Chocolate

Pots of Chocolate

Pot of Chocolate

Pot of Chocolate

 

Does your taste run to sweet or salty?

I’m hoping that you have all recovered from your Halloween sugar high and are ready for more. So, I’m taking this to party with Angie from the Novice Gardener for Fiesta Friday #41, and Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, and Mouthwatering Monday hosted by Rachel at Southern Fairytale. Come join us at the party.

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I am very excited to be featured in this week’s Fiesta Friday. Thank you Angie.  Don’t miss the fantastic dessert created by Angie at the The Novice Gardener in honor of the movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel”.

Fiesta Friday I was featured