I love contrast. Light, dark, bitter, sweet, soft, strong, black, white, whisper, loud, cause, effect, beginning, end. Sometimes it’s not enough to luxuriate in the gray area; you have to stretch your arms wide and reach out to the fringes. You know, pull the ends together to a point of juxtaposition…until the opposites are uncomfortably close. Maybe that’s this cake for me. Bright, dark, nutty, deep, citrus spark, spicy, intense, playful.
If you like citrus, this is your game. If you need a gluten-free sweet, try this. If you’re looking for an under-10-ingredient cake, dig in. If you’re wanting something different, don’t wait.
The orange will grab your attention, but the saffron and cardamom will pull you in and linger on your tastebuds.
Sublime upon sublime scarcely presents a contrast, and we need a little rest from everything, even the beautiful.
~ Victor Hugo
- 2 medium oranges, chopped (including peel)
- 5 eggs, separated
- Pinch of ground cardamom
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 1/4 cup milk (or unsweetened original almond milk), for soaking saffron threads
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 2 cups ground raw almonds (grind to a flour consistency in a food processor)
- 2 tablespoons sliced or finely chopped raw almonds
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the base and sides of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper.
- Warm the milk (or almond milk) for 30 seconds in the microwave in a small bowl. Remove the milk from the microwave and place a small pinch (5-6) of saffron threads in the warm milk. Soak the threads in the milk for 30 minutes.
- While the saffron is soaking, heat the chopped oranges in a pan over low heat with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and cook with a gentle simmer for 30 minutes, until the oranges are soft and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. When cool, finely chop the oranges in a food processor.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually stir in the superfine sugar and continue to whisk for 1 minute.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the remaining superfine sugar for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the oranges and then fold in the ground almonds, ground cardamom, and saffron (with the soaking milk). With a large metal spoon, fold in spoonfuls of egg whites until everything is well combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan, sprinkle with sliced or chopped almonds and bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes (or until golden brown). Check every 20 minutes while baking.
- Let the cake cool in the pan before turning out and dusting with powdered sugar.
- Store in an airtight container for 3 days.
Life offers up some sweet moments. Many are obvious, but far more interesting are the ones you have to pay attention to… the not-so-obvious. The space between. The silence between the notes. The pause between the inhale and the exhale. These are the gems. This is where I find that place that feels worthy of pause, of wonder, of contemplation, of curiosity.
So, while I was aimlessly scrolling the internet one evening, I just about breezed by this article: “Jennifer Aniston Shares Her Signature Breakfast Smoothie.” I paused, though, when I saw the opening line, “What did it take for Jennifer Aniston to squeeze into that glittering Saint Laurent dress…?” …and I chuckled and the inner monologue started. Now I was hooked; I kept reading. What did it take, how did she do it?… I purposely skipped past the part that said “In addition to exercising 4-5 days a week…” and saw that Jen “starts each day with a healthy homemade shake.” Oh yes, a shake… I can do that.
Whether you’ve had a chocolate covered cherry or black forest cake, you’re probably well aware that chocolate and cherries are a classic pair. Oh yes, chocolate and cherries are good for your SOUL… but the combo in this smoothie is good for your soul wrapper too!
Chocolate almond milk, frozen banana, cherries, blueberries, organic raw almonds, Maca root powder, vegan chocolate protein powder (I’ve grown attached to Vega Protein & Greens), and just a couple drops of liquid stevia.
I’m glad I stopped and read further. I’m glad I got past my drink-this-smoothie-look-like-Jen-Aniston snort laugh (and trust me, I’d drink a helluva lot of smoothies to look like her!). Because, I found a wonderful, easy, naturally sweet, healthy, smoothie. It’s my go-to morning shake.
I love finding the sweetness in the not-so-obvious…
While I’m reveling in unexpected sweetness, I find that lately –in the midst of seeming chaos– I’m paying more attention to the delicate space between the craziness. I’m nurturing this perspective. I’ve been shifting focus from the disaster to the rescuer, from the problem to the volunteer …to the grass-root solution. …a donation made. …the community engaged.
I didn’t quite expect to find myself at the Women’s March in Washington DC last month. I don’t do crowds. Certainly, not 500,000-large crowds. But, I felt compelled to go. No sign, no plan. Just me, feeling like I needed to be a part of our great democracy in action. I piled into the Metro. And, what seemed like an eternity later, I was birthed out of L’Enfant Metro stop, moving in a sea of people with pink hats and funny-witty-punchy-serious-naughty-poignant-creative signs.
Moments later, at Independence and 6th Street, and surrounded by more people than I felt comfortable with, I climbed a tree, nestled between two limbs, and perched there for 5 hours listening to Gloria Steinem, Michael Moore, Alicia Keys, Senator Duckworth, Madonna, and many others. I didn’t go to see these people; I had no idea they’d be there. But, I appreciated each speaker. I heard them: stand up, take action.
As far as the march goes… It took a heckofa long time to actually start moving. The march route was so packed we were wedged in place for hours; but then a budge, and then a few feet, and then we walked for miles. It was peaceful. It was powerful. It was a day that I pledged: from now on don’t complain, do something. It was a special day. There was a sweetness in it I was not expecting.
But, you clicked on this link because you were looking for something sweet …like chocolate cherry sweet. Keep scrolling…
As we become purer channels for God’s light, we develop an appetite for the sweetness that is possible in this world. A miracle worker is not geared toward fighting the world that is, but toward creating the world that could be.
~ Marianne Williamson
- 1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
- 1 cup frozen cherries
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1 cup ice
- 1 scoop chocolate flavor vegan protein powder
- 1/2 tablespoon maca powder
- 2-3 drops of liquid sweetener or stevia
- 10 raw almonds
- Place all ingredients in blender with the liquids first. Blend until smooth.
- Initially spotted on the InStyle.com fashion magazine. What a great find!
If you know me, like really know me… you know I’m an introvert (that was possibly an understatement). So, even though my California soul longs to be out, flip flops on, frolicking around on the beach with my homies,… this winter thing kinda suits my need to turn inside, go into my gal cave, stay in my jammies all day, sip my coffee slowly, get mesmerized by the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree, savor the sweetness of solitude, and just RECHARGE. So, while I resist winter with every fiber of my being, December is actually a soothing time of year for me. Beyond the obvious that is the holiday season, there is a subtle settling into a transition that transcends the autumnal shift.
Today, I woke up, rolled around in bed for two hours longer than intended, and calmly recognized it was going to be (and needed to be) one of those jammies-all-day kind of days. I threw on my big ‘ole fluffy robe, shuffled downstairs, peeked into the kitchen and knew that baked eggs in a cast iron skillet had to happen on this lingering, lazy morning.
When I discovered I had an acorn squash, one onion, kale, a carton of eggs, dried cranberries, pecans, and vegetable broth already on hand… Well, I had a moment. That sweet feeling when you delightfully discover something you weren’t expecting. Seriously, it was special. Let me mention some other ingredients: the spices. I, like you, have a cupboard stuffed full of every imaginable spice (and, oddly, I never seem to have the spices needed for a new recipe… another life mystery). But, there are two spices I keep right near the stove: Herbes de Provence and a bottle of ground Spiced Chipotle Smoked Red Jalapeños. I found it at Whole Foods. I adore it. It adds a smoky, spicy, unique flavor.
Breakfast, brunch.. this dish is a ‘good morning to you’ all day long…
- 1 large acorn squash (about 4 cups of squash), cut in 1/2 inch slices
- 1 teaspoon each of Kosher salt & ground black pepper, and 2 tablespoons olive oil (for the squash)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil (for sautéing the onions)
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch slices)
- 4 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
- 1 bunch curly kale cut into thin ribbons (about 5 packed cups); try to remove the big stems...
- 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pecan pieces
- 4 to 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly shaved Pecorino Romano and/or Asiago cheese
- Heat the oven to 410 degrees.
- While the oven is pre-heating, thoroughly wash the acorn squash and cut into 1/2 inch slices. I typically start cutting from the end and then when I reach the center with the seeds, I scoop them out. I'll often slice a side off the acorn squash so I can lay it flat and then cut the slices a little easier. You can leave the rind on or cut it away from the "flesh." I opt to leave it on because the roasting makes it tender and it gives a great texture to the dish.
- Lay the acorn squash slices flat on a large sheet pan, drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of ground pepper. Roast the squash slices for 20-25 minutes in the 410 degree oven. Halfway through the roasting, flip the squash slices over on the pan with a spatula.
- Meanwhile, while the squash is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat (a cast iron skillet works beautifully, since you'll be broiling the eggs at the end--in the oven--in your gorgeous, big skillet). Sauté the onion slices for 20-25 minutes (about the same time the squash is roasting). Season the onions with salt & pepper to taste and 1 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence. Watch the onions so they don't burn; if they start to get too dark, turn the heat down to medium so they can caramelize a bit. After 15 minutes, add the roughly chopped garlic cloves.
- After the onions have caramelized, add the thinly sliced kale to the skillet (about 2 cups at a time). After you add the first 2 cups of kale, pour 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth and let the kale cook until it just softens. Stir a bit and then add 2 more cups of kale, 1/4 cup of broth, 1/4 teaspoon of the chipotle powder, and simmer until the kale softens. Add the cranberries and pecan pieces, simmer and stir for 2 minutes. Add the final cup of kale and stir the onions, kale, cranberries and pecans in the skillet and let it simmer for a few minutes on medium heat.
- Remove the roasted squash from the oven. Cancel the bake setting and turn on the broiler in the oven. Move the rack in the oven (with an oven mitt!) so it is about 6 inches under the broiler. Take the roasted squash slices and place them in the skillet. You can "cut" the slices into smaller chunks with your spatula in the skillet, but be careful not to stir the mixture too aggressively or the squash will break apart and get mushy.
- Take the back of a spoon and press 4 - 6 wells into the squash/kale/onion mixture. Crack an egg into each of the wells and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle half the shaved cheese on top of the eggs and squash mixture. Carefully, place the skillet in the oven and broil for 4-5 minutes until the egg whites have set, but the yolks are still runny. Keep an eye on the eggs, they will go from 'just set' to cooked yolks very quickly. When you remove the skillet from the oven, sprinkle the other half of the shaved cheese on top of the dish.
- Serve immediately with buttered toast or toasted pita bread.
I feel like November just cruised by, top-down-with-the-heater on, leaves floating by, beep-beep, get outta the way… Now, the tree is up, lights twinkling, foggy mornings, forecast snow, humming baby it’s cold outside, peeking over my shoulder and wondering how Autumn just zipped on by. It didn’t even ease it’s foot off the accelerator.
Autumn in Virginia was lovely and it was short-lived. I gave it my all; I really did. Pumpkin Spice Lattes (they taste different when you drink them with a big, chunky home-made yarn scarf hugging your neck…they do…); fall leaf peeping; apple picking in the orchards; the Hunt Races at Montpelier; sneaking gorgeous chunks of squash into unsuspecting dishes; getting nostalgic watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; and just, well, you know… soaking in the seasonal slow down.
Somewhere, on a country road, at a stand filled with apples and gourds, at a location I’ll never remember, I picked up some apple cider. This isn’t the clear jug of apple cider on Aisle 9 that looks curiously like the apple juice snuggled up next to it. This is the cloudy, thick, spicy, rich, country stand apple cider. I’ve also found some great, seasonal apple ciders in the refrigerator section at the grocery store. Both Trader Joe’s and Whole Food’s apple ciders are deelishussss.
So, farewell Autumn. Just before I get into the Christmas cookie swing of things, I’m saying au revoir to your color-filled days with these: Apple Cider Caramels.
“Autumn is as joyful and sweet as an untimely end.”
― Rémy de Gourmont
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons Fleur de Sel or flaky salt
- Grape seed oil for the knife
- On high heat, boil the apple cider in a saucepan until it is reduced to a thick syrup (about 1/2 cup in volume) and stir occasionally. This takes about 35 - 40 minutes.
- While the cider is boiling, get your other ingredients ready because you'll need to move quickly after the cider is reduced to syrup. Measure the sugars and place in a bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks. Measure the heavy cream. Stir together the cinnamon and salt and place in a separate, small bowl.
- Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch straight-sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of parchment paper (in a crisscross layout). Set it aside.
- Once you are finished reducing the apple cider, remove it from the heat and immediately stir in the sugars, butter, and heavy cream. Stir until the mixture is smooth and the butter has melted. Return the pot to medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Have a bowl of very cold water ready, and cook the caramel (for 5 minutes) until a very small spoonful dropped into the water becomes firm, chewy, and able to be formed into a little ball. If you want to be precise, use a candy thermometer and let it boil until the thermometer reads 252 degrees. Either way, watch the caramel closely; you don't want to under or over cook it.
- Immediately remove the caramel from the heat, add the cinnamon and salt mixture, and give it several stirs to distribute the cinnamon/salt evenly.
- Pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let it sit until cool and firm—about 2 hours (only about an hour in the refrigerator). Once the caramel is firm, lift the caramel from the pan by the parchment paper and transfer it to a cutting board. Let the caramel sit out for a little bit before you start cutting it. If it is too cold, it will crack when you try to cut it. Use a well-oiled knife to cut the caramel into 1-by-1-inch squares. Lightly sprinkle the caramels with flaky salt.
- Wrap each one in a 4-inch square of waxed paper or parchment, twisting the sides to close. Caramels will be somewhat on the soft side at room temperature and hard and chewy if left in the refrigerator. These caramels keep for about 2 weeks in an airtight container if left outside the refrigerator.
- Perfect holiday gift. Unless you eat them all first...
Two hours southwest of Washington DC, and tucked into the eastern edge of Shenandoah National Park, are the gorgeous, rolling Orange County hills that surround James Madison’s Montpelier. I first visited the area this summer on a mom & daughter trip to learn about our Founding Fathers. I am by no means a history buff. I will begrudgingly read a bit of history now and then as if some civic duty, with frequent stops to scan Instagram, daydream, twirl my hair, stare at the ceiling… But, put me IN history…let me touch, smell and see it…and I’m there. So, there I was, via my ever-energetic momma, at a 3-day crash course on Jefferson, Madison & Monroe. We visited Monticello, Montpelier and Monroe’s Highland. Their homes were grand and thoughtful and serene. I was fascinated by the connection between these men. Most impressive to me, though, was how much these men were able to accomplish without the modern day conveniences of travel and communication. Jefferson, Madison & Monroe: statesmen, counterparts, mentors and friends.
I was particularly intrigued with Madison’s Montpelier. After James Madison passed and Dolley moved to Washington DC, the home changed hands several times until William duPont, the famed American businessman, banker and horse racing connoisseur, bought it in 1901. When William passed on to the great beyond, his daughter, Marion, inherited the home. While her father massively renovated the home, Marion’s major renovation would be to the landscape, including the addition of a steeplechase track. In 1934, Marion duPont started The Montpelier Hunt Races on the front lawn of James Madison’s old digs. Today, it is the only live brush hurdle course in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Each November, horse-racing-big-frilly-hatted-tailgate-loving Virginians gather on the fields of James Madison’s Montpelier for The Hunt Races. It is a stunning sight to behold, and it just feels so Virginia…
…and what would a horse race be without those stunning hats? Ladies, dig in to your inner Southern Belle. Gorgeous, colorful, elegant, eccentric, fun.
Just as seriously as the ladies take their hats, Virginians pour every bit the amount of passion into their race day tailgates. From college football style tailgates to sophisticated spreads, it’s quite clear: the fans are committed. It was hard to tell what the main attraction was at times: the culinary creations or the beautiful animals powering across the steeplechase track. I lovingly admired both.
Virginia hams, mounds of fried chicken, shrimp cocktail, biscuits piled high, pies and cookies, sweet tea. It was overflowing. I stared and surveyed and ogled my way past the tailgates, making note of what I saw in the displays. I tucked the Virginia Ham Biscuit away into my mental recipe book. It’s a southern staple. Flaky biscuits, piled high with thinly sliced Virginia ham, accentuated by sweet and tangy mustard. It’s a race day classic. P.S…. I left the races with a new cookbook. I’m not sure how that happened, but it did. The Southerner’s Cookbook, from the editors of Garden & Gun, added to the collection…
Back home after the races and it was time to play around with some Virginia Ham Biscuits! Buttermilk biscuits you can melt into. Secret ingredient, oh… it’s the duck fat… and why stop there with the artistic “license”…? While I dressed some of the biscuits with a homemade honey mustard (recipe follows), I heaped caramelized onion jam on top of the shaved ham of the next little sandwich I devoured. It was lovely.
- Classic Buttermilk Biscuits
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons, cold, unsalted butter (cut in small pieces)
- 2 tablespoons duck fat (or lard)
- 3/4 to 1 cup cold, whole buttermilk
- 1 pound Virginia Ham, thinly sliced
- Honey mustard (1/4 cup whole-grain mustard, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon dijon)
- Plain mustard (whole-grain or dijon recommended)
- or...get creative...
- Caramelized onion jam
- Your favorite chutney (fruit chutneys pair nicely)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar together into a large bowl. Blend the butter pieces and duck fat (or lard) into the dry mixture with a pastry blender (or two knives) until you achieve a course meal with flakes of butter/fat throughout.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, then slowly pour the buttermilk in the center while stirring the flour into the "pool" of buttermilk. Depending on the humidity levels, it may only take 3/4 cup buttermilk (rainy or very humid day) to 1 cup buttermilk (clear, dry day). Stir in the buttermilk until a dough forms and no dry pieces are left, but it should not be overly wet either.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Roll out the dough until it is 1/2 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter (between 2-3 inches...I use a 3 inch cutter for bigger biscuits) to cut out rounds and place on a cookie sheet. Gather dough, form, rollout, and cut out biscuits until you're out of dough. Don't over handle the dough as the butter starts to melt. You can dust a little flour over the dough if it gets too sticky.
- Place the biscuit rounds on the cookie sheet so they are lightly touching one another. They'll help each other "climb" as they bake. Friendly biscuits...
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until the biscuits have risen and the tops have started to brown. Remove from the oven, brush with melted butter (if desired).
- When slightly cooled from the oven, slice the biscuits open, pile high with thinly sliced Virginia ham, spread honey mustard (or condiment of your choice) on the top biscuit half, and enjoy! Serve warm or at room temperature.
I’m a full-fledged fall fan. It took me a while, but watch out… I’m so in it now… I’m loving your fallen leaves, your crisp mornings and scarf-worthy breezes, your sweat pant hugs, your apple picking.
The apple picking. Virginia, do you ever have some apple picking.
Branches heavy hanging. Children laughing, running through rows, sitting under trees, sneaking little nibbles. Carefree, family outing, dogs curiously sniffing, bags overflowing, enthusiastic fruits, ground covered, harvest tables, so inviting. So lovely, apple pie.
Because there’s comfort food, and then there’s apple pie.
…And I just felt like there was one thing that needed to happen after picking: APPLE PIE.
I have played around with this recipe for years, and I think I’ve finally reached my version of apple pie perfection. The cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and dash of cayenne combine into an earthy richness that add a subtle warmth to the sweetness and a balance to the tartness.
A few little tips: 1) Cook the apples in advance. The apples cook down so you can really create a jam-packed apple experience. I’ve made plenty of apple pies without cooking the apples first, and the results don’t even come close. 2) Use an apple wedger (buy one, just do it). 3) Use a great quality pie plate. I use a stoneware pie dish that browns the crust perfectly. And, it just looks cute… I used a mix of Idared and York apples because, well, that’s what was on the trees. Result: fantastic. I’m also a fan of Braeburn apples for pie. Ultimately, though, you’re the artist and it’s your (pie) palette.
“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the Universe.”
Carl Sagan gave a tall order, but I think you’ll find this recipe within the realm of the earthly possible. At the very least, you’ll end up with a little slice of heaven…
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup + 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 10 - 12 apples
- 1/2 fresh lemon (to squeeze over apples after slicing)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 dashes of cayenne pepper
- 1/8 cup all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
- In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt with a fork. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry knife. Alternately, you can cut the butter into the flour mixture with a food processor. With either method, mix the butter into the flour until you have a crumb-like mixture.
- Mix the vinegar, egg and water with a fork and combine the liquid mixture into the dry mixture until all ingredients are moist. With your hands, mold the dough into a ball and tightly cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 days. Don't you just love a pie crust that will let you wait until the last minute or plan ahead...
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Peel, core and slice 10 - 12 apples. Don't be intimidated. You're going to cook the apples, so they will cook down a bit and allow you to really pack your pie full of apples. If you have an apple wedger--perfect! If not, slice apples into 1 inch wedges after peeling, cut out the core, and then cut the wedges into half pieces (the apples will pack into the pie crust easier). Place the apples in a large glass mixing bowl. Squeeze lemon over the cut apples to keep them from turning brown. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, and flour in a bowl; then sprinkle the mixture over the apples and thoroughly toss the apples in the sugar and spice mixture.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator right before you cook the apples.
- In a very large skillet (I actually use a wok), cook the apples for about 10 minutes until they are fork tender, but not mushy. Much of the water from the apples will fill the skillet--you want this to happen. Remove the apples from the skillet and place back in the large mixing bowl. Continue to cook the remaining liquid over medium heat until it reduces and thickens (another 5 - 7 minutes). Remove the reduced liquid from heat.
- Cut the dough in half. Take one half and roll out thinly so that it will hang over the edge of your pie dish by 1/2 inch. With a large spoon, place the cooked apples into the pie shell in the pie dish. Drizzle the reduced apple and spice liquid over the apples. Dot the apples with 3 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces. Roll out the other half of the pie dough and place over the apples in the dish. Fold the overlapping crusts together and crimp the edges all around the pie dish edge (a fork works well for this).
- Place the pie on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Check the pie at the halfway point, if the crust starts to brown too quickly, you can loosely cover the top or edges with aluminum foil to control the browning.
Sometimes it’s hard to decide what’s more perfect: a weekend morning strolling the farmer’s market or the post-market creations… Life is full of hard choices. But, making this tomato galette should not be one of them… Galette’s are so easy, so versatile, so lunch, brunch, dinner with a side salad, served hot, cold…so midnight snack.
This galette recipe caught my eye on Bloglovin. Tomatoes, goat cheese, thyme …and honey. Oh honey, does this ever magically come together with the honey. I had no idea why the author of Wry Toast spent so much time talking about the honey in this recipe. Until.I.Tried.It… Savory, sweet, the richness of the goat cheese, tangy tomatoes, and the honey unifies the flavors in a unique and delightful way. Do you have those dishes you just want to bury your face in? This is it.
This galette was lovingly filled with yellow, orange and red tomatoes I picked up from the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market this weekend. Ahhh, a tomato rainbow. I felt like their beauty deserved to be framed, wrapped in love. What better than a galette. Summer’s gift in a light and crispy pastry. Now, that’s a gift worth giving.
Bon appetit mon amour….
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
- pinch of salt
- pinch of sugar
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 4 shallots, diced (approximately 1 cup)
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling
- 8 ounces goat cheese
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 – 4 heirloom or variety of tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Start first by preparing the dough. Using a cheese grater, grate the butter into a small bowl and freeze for 10 minutes. While butter freezes, combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the cold grated butter into the flour mixture until a mealy texture forms, then slowly add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough takes shape. Form the dough in a ball, transfer to a lightly floured surface, and shape into a flattened round. Tightly wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 45 minutes until the dough is firm and cold.
- While the dough chills, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the diced shallots until lightly caramelized (approximately 10 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly sprinkle with flour. With a floured rolling-pin, roll out the chilled dough into a 1/8″ thick round and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet. It's easiest to transfer the dough by rolling it onto the pin and then lifting it onto the baking sheet.
- Crumble the goat cheese over the rolled-out dough, leaving a 2-inch border along the edges. Drizzle a heavy serving of honey over goat cheese (don't be shy), then evenly top with caramelized shallots.
- Next, season the sliced tomatoes with salt & pepper and layer over the goat cheese and shallots. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and, finally, sprinkle with fresh thyme.
- Fold the 2-inch border of the dough over the edges of the tomatoes, then brush the crust with beaten egg.
- Bake the galette for 45-60 minutes until the crust is golden and the tomatoes have begun to char.
- Cool for a few minutes before serving.
There’s a running list of recipes that scrolls through my head. There’s a lot of chatter up there. Thank gawd much of it is food related. This is one of those recipes I’ve waited a long time to make. Suddenly, it became one of those “must make now” recipes. Detour on the drive home from work. In Whole Foods snatching up sweet potatoes, cilantro, limes, tahini, chickpeas with all too much enthusiasm.
I burst through the door, straight into the kitchen, cranked up my fave Pandora channel (ohhh you love Chill Loungers Radio too?!), and got right to work. Don’t stop, won’t stop, oh no…forgot to take pictures…last ditch smartphone shot right before serving. Close call. Glad I can give you a little Samsung Galaxy 4 kickin-it-old-school snap.
This is one of those dishes that highlights what I love about cooking. Simple to make; perfect mix of flavors; separate components of a dish that stand alone wonderfully, but come together perfectly; results exceed expectations. What’s not to like…?
So, in a string of “I’m not vegan” vegan recipes: Just.Make.This.One.
Another beautiful recipe from a favorite website, The First Mess.
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 teaspoons olive or coconut oil
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon chili garlic sauce or other hot sauce
- 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1 lime, juiced (approximately 2 tablespoons)
- 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon chili garlic sauce or other hot sauce
- 2-3 tablespoons water (to thin sauce after mixed)
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
- Sesame seeds
- Sriracha sauce
- Lime wedges
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking dish with 2-inch sides with parchment paper. Set the sweet potatoes, flesh side down, onto the parchment. Bake sweet potatoes until they are tender all the way through, about 25-30 minutes.
- While sweet potatoes bake, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. In a glass bowl, mix the garlic powder, cumin, ginger, coriander, maple syrup, tamari, and hot sauce. Then toss the chickpeas in this sauce.
- Transfer the chickpeas to the skillet. Sauté chickpeas until visibly browned and lightly dried. The spices should form a golden “crust” on the outside of the chickpeas. This should take about 5-10 minutes with intermittent stirring.
- Using the same bowl that you tossed the chickpeas in, whisk together the tahini sauce. Mix the ginger, tahini, lime juice, tamari, maple syrup, and hot sauce. When the sauce is smooth, add hot water to get the sauce to pourable consistency. Whisk thoroughly and set aside.
- Place the baked sweet potatoes on a platter. Top the sweet potato halves with tahini sauce, the cooked chickpeas, green onions, cilantro, basil, sesame seeds, and sriracha sauce. Serve with lime wedges on the side. Enjoy immediately.
Day 5 of Blizzard2016. When I went to Whole Foods well into Day 1 of Winter Storm Jonas, I wasn’t the only one who had chili on the storm survival menu. In fact, I wasn’t sure if we were headed into the worst storm in 50 years or a city-wide chili cook-off. Turns out it was the former… While, the spice section was completely clear of cumin, cayenne and paprika (really!), I had something different in mind: Spicy Harissa Chili with Merguez Sausage. Chili with a Mediterranean kick…and I mean KICK! Another inspiration from a new cookbook, “Balaboosta, Bold Mediterranean Recipes.”
Harissa is a hot chili pepper paste that originates from North Africa. Merguez, popular in North Africa and the Middle East, is a lamb or lamb/beef sausage that is spiced (often with cumin and harissa). Whole Foods carries harissa (both dry spice and a paste) and merguez sausage. I opted for the harissa paste, which I found tucked in between the hummus and baba ganoush in the refrigerated section. If you can’t find it locally, you can always order it online (you Amazon Prime junkie you…).
This chili has an interesting twist with the harissa and merguez sausage, and it’s really quite easy to make. I had it prepped in no time, grabbed my mug of hot cocoa, snuggled up in my oversized chair, and stared out the window watching my neighbors dig through 3 feet of snow as my chili simmered away…
- 2 cans 15.5 ounce dark red kidney beans, thoroughly rinsed
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 pound merguez sausage, casing removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons harissa paste
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons oregano, finely chopped
- 4 cups water
- Saute the ground beef and merguez sausage over high heat until browned. Season the meat with a little salt and pepper. Drain excess liquid/fat and set the browned meat aside.
- Veggies and spice.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute until soft and slightly caramelized (about 7 minutes). Add the garlic and saute one minute. Add the tomato paste, stir into the veggies, and then sprinkle the sugar over the mixture. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the meat mixture to the large pot. Stir in the harissa paste, salt, cumin, chipotle powder, pepper, and oregano. Add 4 cups of water. Finally, add the kidney beans.
- Boil, then simmer.
- Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot, and simmer the chili for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Stir occasionally and add water if it starts to get dry.