March 23, 2011 § 1 Comment
These past few weeks have been brutal with the change of seasons, the yearning for warmth, and the congestion of faces. All of these things have left me incapable of exerting any extra effort outside of my daily routine. Luckily, my routine involves sifting flour, roasting garlic, and supremeing oranges. Unfortunately, my energy levels have been so low that writing about any recent adventures would have been overkill. So now that spring has sprung, the temperatures have risen, and everything surrounding my sinuses has cleared I can share what I have been eating.
Before I got sick, my body knew I needed an extra boost of vitamin C. Therefore my mind decided to make a blood orange olive oil cake which Deb from Smitten Kitchen just so happened to post around the same time. It was fate. I really wanted to make the flaky blood orange tart but had neither the 10 blood oranges accessible nor the energy to acquire them.
In retrospect I should have gotten the additional oranges for the tart because the cake, even with though it was packed with 4 nourishing oranges, did not prevent my body from aching and my face from congesting. When preventative baking doesn’t work, its time for a healing soup. And I can not think of anything better to ward off illness than garlic. So I concocted a roasted garlic, teff, and lentil soup. Unfortunately I can not report back about the actual taste, but here I am finally healed, so something must have worked.
Now that I have been able to breathe, smell, taste, and move without cringing I have been craving some thing really decadent to make up for all of the meals lost to lack of taste and/or appetite. Namely, a chocolate chili cake. I wanted to experience something rich, yet not too sweet, and bursting with flavor. So after a good amount of chocolate cake research Scharffen Berger’s chocolate chili cake won my heart. Although I did make quite a few tweaks to suit my liking.
Thankfully, I could taste this cake in all of its glory. And it may just be my new favorite way to get my chocolate fix. Once it is baked it is moist, and stays moist for a couple of days. It has the texture of an airy fudge brownie thanks to the buttermilk and leaves a striking remnant of spice on your palate without needing a fire extinguisher.
Chocolate Chili Cake
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/3 cups turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ancho chili powder +1 cup water
1 additional cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped walnuts- optional
2 tablespoons cocoa powder + 1/2 cup confectioners sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the dry ingredients into a stand mixer.
3. Make a chili paste by heating the chili and water just to a simmer. Then remove from the heat and add the vanilla.
4. Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients and stir on a slow speed until it looks sandy. Now raise the speed and add the additional water and buttermilk once the mixture is uniformly wet add the eggs one at a time.
5. Pour the batter into a thoroughly buttered cake pan and place in the center of the oven. It will take about 50 minutes to bake through. After 20 minutes sprinkle the walnuts onto the top of the cake- this will create a nice nutty layer.
6. When a toothpick or knife inserted in the center come out clean the cake is ready.
7. Let it cool for 15 minutes. Remove the sides if you used a spring foam pan or simply turn the cake out onto a plate to allow to cool completely.
8. Dust with cocoa sugar.
After an indulgence, one should do something healthy like adding extra greens onto the plate. In my case these greens made their way into a tender biscuit founded by homemade oat flour mixed with a nutty white whole wheat flour. I discovered how easy it is to make oat flour thanks to Heidi Swanson’s oat soda bread which, slathered with a generous coat of Baily’s butter, comforted me during the height of my illness.
Oatmeal Arugula Biscuits
Eat these when they come out of the oven. Their succulence decreases with time. I froze half of them after they were shaped and on the cookie sheet then threw them into a plastic bag for an easy warm breakfast in 12 minutes.
1 cup rolled oats or oat flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled or frozen unsalted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons honey
1 packed cup arugula
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Add the rolled oats to a food processor and whirl them around for about 3 minutes until the oats look like flour, similarly, just get your oat flour out.
3. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
4. Chop the arugula by hand or in a food processor and incorporate into the dry mixture.
5. Use a cheese grater to grate the butter into the dry ingredients and gently stir. If the butter is not frozen, chill the mixture for 10 minutes.
6. Stir together the honey and buttermilk and slowly add to the oat and butter mixture.
7. Turn out onto a floured surface and gently knead a couple of times. Using as much flour as necessary.
8. Roll the dough into a 9 x 5 rectangle, which should be about 1/2 inch thick.
9. Fold the short sides of the rectangle in thirds like a letter and re-roll the dough into another 9 x 5 rectangle. Repeat this two more times.
10. Roll or pat the dough into a 3/4 inch rectangle and use biscuit cutters to shape the biscuits.
11. Place the biscuits on a lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until the top is golden.
12. Consume with butter and honey.
November 29, 2010 § Leave a comment
Wednesday Night, I planned ahead and made the turkey stock required for the indecently rich giblet gravy and earthy mushroom stuffing. I had never made my own stock before, and as it turns out, the whole process is quite simple and requires nothing but heaps of chopped veggies, pounds of turkey innards, plenty of chicken broth, and one steamy kitchen. I used this recipe, and followed closer than usual.
I picked up 5 1/2 pounds of giblets from the Country Butcher in Kennett Square when I bought my very first Thanksgiving turkey and simmered the innards in a large pot with:
3 chopped carrots
4 small chopped celery stalks with the leaves attached
2 medium quartered onions
2 medium chopped leeks including the usually discarded green tops
2 bunches of parsley stems only
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 turkish bay leaves
12 cups low sodium chicken broth
Bring the pot of vegetables and broth to a boil and then simmer the brew for about 2 hours until the giblets are cooked. Remove the turkey parts and save them to add extra flavor to the gravy then strain the stock into a bowl. I let the stock cool so that the fat rises to the top and solidifies and can easily be removed before being added to stuffings, gravies, and roasting pans.
November 3, 2010 § Leave a comment
This is like the tee shirt and jeans of soups. Clean, classic, and adaptable. Throw in some curry to cozy it up, or dried herbs for a specific flavor pairing, or excessive amounts of garlic when you need a boost of health. I love letting my mind wonder to the ends of the flavor spectrum. I might want to add cinnamon and raisins next time. But first I want to roast the vegetables to awaken their glorious hidden candied glory transforming this into the sexiest teeshirt and jean soup ever.
Chameleon Cauliflower Soup
Thank you Heidi Swanson and your book Super Natural Cooking for the inspiration.
1 1/2 pounds cauliflowerchopped (about 3/4 of a large head)
2 small cooking onions chopped
3-5 cloves garlic chopped(depending on the size)
1 apple chopped(I used Barnard’s Orchard’s staymen variety)
1/2 cup tofu chopped (or potato chopped, which I did not have)
1 teaspoon red chili pepper
5 cups vegetable broth
Cashew cream (recipe included) or heavy cream
Dress it up
Flavored olive oil (truffle)
Grated parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the onions, chili peppers, and garlic. After five minutes or so the onion will become translucent and the scent will become decadent. Now throw in the cauliflower, apples, tofu or potato, and a healthy amount of salt. It is best to add the salt and spices at the beginning rather than waiting until everything has cooked so that all of the flavors become one pot of lusciousness. Once everything the flavors have sufficiently melded, about 5 minutes add the broth or stock and simmer the everything for about 15 or 20 minutes. The soup is ready to be blended once the cauliflower is tender. Use a hand blender for maximum convenience. Remove the pot from the heat and puree with the blender until smooth. I like texture so I don’t strain the soup further but it would probably be great silk smooth.
Ladle into bowls and top with the cream, olive oil, and paprika. Dunk some crunchy bread into the goodness and enjoy.