Category Archives: Dessertalicious

Lemonpalooza Part Deux and Lemon Almond Pudding Cake

Well hello spring! It finally warmed up enough to unclench the earth, and to make the outside inviting. On cue, enter the black flies. Thank you, New England! Back in the kitchen, the work of feeding the tribe something more than frozen pizza continues. As I was about to embark on finding something to make with the glorious box of lemons from last week, I got a King Arthur email full of pictures and recipes featuring their five favorite citrus recipes. We’re on the same page!

Here’s where we’ve been with my lemons. They’ve gone in tea, of course, and they’ve been thinly sliced to go atop slow baked salmon. They’ve gone in to this spring vegetable Israeli couscous  (hello asparagus and peas!), preserved lemons and for no reason other than flaunting my bounty, I made these candied lemon slices. (I have no idea what to do with them, but they’re hanging in my fridge, looking pretty and ready to roll.)

Come here, my pretty

Rocky Mountain correspondent Tania sent me this recipe for Lemon Tiramisu which looks amazing, but also has too many steps for this particular phase of quarantine. How has going nowhere become so time consuming?

For today’s recipe, I looked for something even easier than Lemon Beach Pie (don’t get me started on this beauty!), something easy and delish. This came from the quarantine recipe club—not the recipe chain letter you may fear, but a weekly newsletter with all kinds of recipes contributed from all kinds of people like us, who are wrassling up vittles for a houseful, with an ever changing list of available ingredients.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Now, THAT’S dessert, or maybe dinner.

Lemon Almond Pudding Cake

Ever so slightly adapted from How Sweet Eats

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs separated
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter  melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup milk the original recipe calls for skim, I used whole with good results
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • powdered sugar and sliced almonds for topping. Fresh berries wouldn’t hurt either!

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick spray liberally. Or brush it with melted butter!
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and melted butter. Whisk in the milk, lemon juice, almond extract and lemon zest until combined. Stir in the dry ingredients.
  4. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of your electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Slowly fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture, gently, until combined. Pour the batter into the pie plate.
  5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until set. Top with a dusting of powdered sugar and a handful of sliced almonds and serve.

Get more lemon inspiration at Lemonpalooza Part 1

 

Holiday Do’s and Dont’s

It’s go time…the last week of shopping and baking and pretending to work before we get completely sucked in to the holiday vortex. In reality, we’re already there, which makes this week of quasi denial even tougher. But you’re here, you’re reading, and you’re definitely thinking of what to make for the neighbors, the party hosts, the UPS guy and your family…in that order.

So, no new recipes this time (because, who really needs another cookie recipe right now?), but I listed a few faves at the end. Others are embedded in these tips and cautions. Good luck my friends, and when you feel like you’re about to snap, just smile and wave.

DO make a whopping batch of Champion Chip Cookies so you’re ready to make someone’s day. DON’T think you’re so smart that you can make them by heart and end up using double the flour.

DO, figure out a few things you enjoy making (crackle, crackers, spiced nuts) and make a whole lot of them. DON’T go long on an untested recipe and end up with a whole lot of mediocre or inedible treats.

DO watch this clinic on deseeding a pomegranate. It will open your world to mass pomegranate consumption. DON’T position your 2 cups of pomegranate arils precariously in the fridge in a poorly sealed container.

Per above, DO keep a lot of seltzer on hand for stains. DO wear the same color you are drinking. DON’T forget the power of aprons.

If you’ve got people with special diets coming, DO make Knock Out Vegan Pumpkin Pie. DON’T go rogue and substitute the pecan coconut crust with a gluten free pretzel crust. Gah!

DO make Guinness Fondue for a cozy evening gathering. Don’t try to pass off this puree of roasted rutabagas and potatoes spiked with nutritional yeast as “fondue”, even in air quotes. That said, DO make up a batch of the above “faux fondue” (air quotes be damned), or of Sugar and Spice Squash Soup, and offer it as a healthy option alongside the real stuff, but DON’T oversell it. Just have it available and you may be surprised how many people appreciate (and dare I say like) it.

Do plan ahead, read through your recipes and check all your ingredients before you dive in. DON’T, realize too late you are missing a key ingredient, or make your treat arsenal when you are hungry. It is astounding how adversely this affects your yield.

DO have a refreshing or comforting drink and get into the spirit by turning on fun music or entertaining podcasts. DON’T Listen to Impeachment hearings. It will not make you jolly.

DO read this cocktail shaking guide, and consider a monster cocktail shaker as a hostess gift. DON’T shake fizzy drinks in a cocktail shaker. Just don’t.

DO divvy it up, vs taking it all on yourself. DON’T be a holiday martyr. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

DO get into the spirit by dressing up in something super fancy or super cheesy. DON’T let your fraternity brother pick your outfit.

The downside of using a personal shopper.

Here are some of my favorite holiday gifting recipes. I promise–they taste best when made with love and a smile.

Healthy and Healthyish

Heart of Darkness Chocolate Cups
Reeses Redemption Cups
Endurance Crackers
Lifechanging crackers
Paleo Crackers
Gingerbread Granola
Seed Bark Granola
NUTS! Like rosemary maple walnuts, honey thyme walnuts, sesame almonds
Triple Crunch Sesame Peanut Snack Bars

Not so healthyish

Crackle
Crackle 2.0
Cheddar Crisps
Champion Chip Cookies
Morning Paper Oatmeal Cookies
Cholliesauce

 

 

Trickless Treats: Quick and Clean Chocolate Mousse

Halloween used to be so easy. You scurried around all night, gorged on candy, felt not a twinge of guilt and moved on. Now, it’s more complicated. Candy is not so dandy the morning after. But still, we all want to walk on the wild side on Halloween. Enter healthy treats, for which we turn to our crafty Vegan friends.

Vegan cuisine is rife with creativity. That said, I have no patience for food creations that are called something they’re not. Cashews with nutritional yeast, while it can be tasty, is not queso.  And as my husband sternly pointed out, chickpeas mashed with tahini is NOT tuna salad (though I do love this one).

Along those lines, when it comes to healthy treats, don’t tell me that date paste rolled in peanuts is just like a Pay Day because it’s not. It’s just not. And tofu blended with chocolate chips taste just like, drumroll please…tofu blended with chocolate chips.

But then sometimes you find legit healthy alternatives for your treat fix. For Exhibit A I call up cocoa nutty balls; And Exhibit B: Heart of Darkness cups made here with pumpkin seed butter (because who doesn’t have some of that laying around) which gets extra Halloween points for ghoulish green insides.

This chocolate mousse/pudding is another win. It was borne of too many ripe avocados, an upcoming trip and that Yankee streak that hates to waste even one bit of a perfectly good fresh produce.

The sheer ease and speed of making it (hello food processor) would be enough to make this a win, but it’s also delish and not one bit bad for you. After all, healthy fats are a thing and maple syrup, in responsible amounts, is like mainlining nature.

If you do want to witness dates and peanuts trying their hardest to be a PayDay, check this out from Minimalist Baker:  

Go ahead—have a treat, or two, and feel damn good about it. Happy Halloween!

Quick and Clean Chocolate Mousse

Total Time: 5 minutes (you’ve got that don’t you?)

Makes 4 servings

From Chocolate Covered Katie

Ingredients

  • flesh of 2 ripe avocados (240g)
  • 1/4 cup regular cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup melted chocolate chips
  • 3-4 tbsp milk of choice
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Method

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Pour in four little bowls or one big one, and refrigerate it if you want it thicken up. Dress up if you must and feel 100 percent totally good about yourself.

 

Nina’s Margarita Pie

It’s 5 pm somewhere. Wait a sec…it’s 5 pm here! That means it’s a perfect time to eat your margarita. It is Sunday after all, and time to reel it in from the weekend.

Today is my mother’s birthday, and she would have turned 85. In her honor, I am posting one of the recipes that makes me think of her. Nina was not a cook by any stretch, but she had some go-tos. This was one of them, for some obvious reasons, of equal import. First, it is easy. Second, it involves margaritas. Third, it is delicious.

This is similar to luscious Lemon Beach Pie, a cold, lemony affair with a saltine crust. On a really hot day, however, this is even better because it involves zero cooking. For those of you techies who own a working microwave, you can melt the butter in that and have no relationship whatsoever with the stove.

There are many versions of this, all good I am sure, including some imposters with a hybrid graham cracker/pretzel crust. They are probably delicious as well, but when it comes to Margarita Pie I’m a purist. It has to be all pretzel. The recipe gives you the option to use Cool Whip or whipped cream. No judgment, but know that it will then be sweeter and, well, Cool Whippy. If that’s your thing, enjoy the convenience.

See notes below for bringing it, and don’t be afraid to say you’ll bring dessert to the next weekend away, IF you have enough time at your destination for it to freeze. When you’re enjoying your pie, give a little smile for Nina and it’ll taste even better.

*Special thanks to my fabulous niece Maddie for these pics of actually beautiful pies. That is something I have yet to master (see below, but points for creative styling).

Quite possibly the perfect Sunday supper?

Nina’s Margarita Pie

READY IN: 15mins, plus freezing time.

SERVES: 8

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 cup margarine or butter
  • 14 cup sugar
  • 2 -3 cups pretzels (to equal about 1 1/4 cups crushed)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 13 cup lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon tequila
  • 1 Tablespoon triple sec
  • 4 drops green food coloring, green (optional. I say bag it)
  • 1 cup whipped cream (or more. I say more). Cool Whip is also, well, cool, especially if on-site prep space is a challenge.
  • Topping
  • additional whipped cream

Method

Pie Crust:
Melt margarine or butter and combine with sugar and pretzel pieces. Press into buttered 9 inch pie pan.

Filling: Combine condensed milk, lime juice, alcohol and food coloring, if using.
Fold in whipped cream.
Pour into pie crust and freeze for 4 hours.

Bringing it:

Traveling any distance with this is tough in the heat, but low impact assembly on site is easy as long as you can melt butter, whip cream, and get some freezer space on site. Just prep the pretzels first and put them in a Ziploc bag. Portion out the booze, grab a pie plate and fill a bag with the rest of the ingredients—limes, cream, stick of butter and that can of sweetened condensed milk that has been in your cupboard since the moon landing (don’t tell!). Make the pie right away so it has time to freeze and then get yourself a real margarita to celebrate.

The “I want to go to your parties” shot.

Stupid Easy Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

Ok, so here’s a little summer quiz: What did we learn last week, other than the fact that 3-day work weeks rock? Well, careful readers, we learned that this year’s strawberry season was late to arrive but is awesome. We are, in mid-July, only halfway through the heart of strawberry season, which means we will have zero downtime before it’s blueberry season. And all this is overlapping with the greater “ice cream season” (a subset of maple creemee season, which  some people believe should last all year.)

Let me connect the dots here. It’s time to bust out the ice cream maker in your basement. This recipe came to me via Sister B, who lives amidst California’s produce  bonanza. It is, as promised, ridiculously easy, and kind of healthy, or at least not that unhealthy thanks to the buttermilk. It is for sure best with organic strawberries, buttermilk and cream, but also awesome with items from the standard fare at the air-conditioned Nirvana of your grocery store. No need to pre-make and pre-chill the mix, and, if you are feeling very Laura Ingalls, it can be made without an ice cream maker.

It’s summer—no need to prolong this. There are places to go, things to eat. Have a great weekend!

Stupid Easy Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

This recipe is adapted from How To Eat A Peach, by Diana Henry. Our friends like Diana, in Mother England, know a thing or two about strawberries and cream.

Ingredients

  • 18 oz strawberries
  • 1 cup superfine sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways, or 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 pinch sea salt flakes

Method

  1. Hull and slice the strawberries. Put them into a bowl with half the sugar and the seeds from the vanilla pod (scrape out the seeds using the tip of a knife. or…dump in the vanilla.
  2. Leave this to sit for about 30 minutes. The strawberries will become soft and exude some juice.
  3. Transfer the fruit with all the juice and the rest of the sugar to a food processor and whizz (God I love the Brits) to a purée.
  4. Push the purée through a nylon sieve (or whatever you’ve got) to get rid of the seeds. Mix with the buttermilk, sour cream and salt.
  5. Churn in an ice cream machine, or transfer to a shallow container and put in the freezer.
  6. If you’re using the manual method, take the ice cream out and churn it – either using electric beaters or by putting the mixture in a food processor – 3 times during the freezing process. Do this first after about 1 hour, when the mixture is setting round the edges, then at 2-hour intervals. (Extra points for wearing a gingham dress during this escapade). Cover with a lid, or with cling film or greaseproof paper, between each churning, and when you store it. Freeze for around 8 hours or until completely firm.
  7. Take the ice cream out of the freezer about 10 minutes before you want to serve it, to allow it to soften slightly.

Strawberries, blueberries, ice cream. What is wrong with this picture? Nothing!

 

If you need something else cold, refreshing and summery to bring to the party might I suggest:

watermelon gazpacho

watermelon sangria

Frose or Frosecco

Lemon Beach Pie

 

No Guilt Nutella: Chocolate for Breakfast Goes Legit

You say Nutella, I say…ain’t happening for breakfast in this house.

I grew up in a pre Nutella-For-Breakfast world. We had plenty of heinously unhealthy food, like pop tarts and cocoa puffs. But putting frosting on toast and calling it breakfast wasn’t a thing. Even if it happened (looking at you, chocolate Easter bunnies), it wasn’t sanctioned, let alone encouraged.

My kids grew up in a post NFB world, thanks to brilliant marketing from the Italians, who needed a real game-changer to dress up their melba toast and give their people a reason to get up for breakfast. Still, I did not serve Nutella to my kids. That may help explain why they so easily, dare I say eagerly, transitioned to sleepovers, camp and really any opportunity to leave home. There’s no need to get into my reasoning unless you really want a buzz-kill. I think we can all agree that commercial Nutella is not a solid foundation for the most important meal of the day.

But WHAT IF Nutella was made with no added sweeteners, fat or scary ingredients? What if it was made with the holy trinity of healthy treat ingredients—dates, nuts and cocoa—and nothing much else? Now that would be something I could get behind. And don’tcha know, I have. It’s not just for breakfast of course—it’s for any time you damn well please.

No Guilt Nutella soars past the teenage boy test, the teenage girl test, the man test and the “gimme that spoon I just need a chocolate fix ” test. If you are a Nutella connoisseur you will not be fooled by this, but the concept of a chocolate spread you can eat by the spoonful without a shred of guilt or secrecy may win you over nonetheless. Vegans, Paleos and Gluten-free peeps? Yeah, this is your jive too.

As with last week’s treats, your food processor earns its keep making these. It’s pretty foolproof though, as long as you make an honest attempt to skin the hazelnuts* and then process those babies until they really turn to butter. Be patient. It will happen.

No Guilt Nutella

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hazelnuts (or a mix of hazelnuts and almonds)
  • 1 packed cup medjool dates, pitted (or more, see notes)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp flavorless oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup almond milk

Method:

  1. Roast hazelnuts at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Transfer onto a kitchen towel and roll with your hands to remove skins. (no need to remove skins on almonds, if using)
  2. Puree hazelnuts in a food processor for 8 to 10 minutes until a butter forms. Take the time to do it right! You’ll know when you’ve crossed from ground nuts to butter.
  3. Remove hazelnut butter, and scrape out food processor as best you can. Add dates and water. Puree until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add hazelnuts to date paste and pulse a few times.
  5. Add cocoa, vanilla, oil, and salt and blend. 
  6. With food processor running, slowly pour in almond milk. Scrape down the sides and pulse a few times to blend into creamy goodness.
  7.  

Notes

*To completely remove hazelnut skins (for the smoothest possible spread), boil nuts in a pot of water with few tablespoons of baking soda for 4 minutes. Immediately strain and place nuts in ice water for a minute or so, until the skins peel off easily. You still need to roast the nuts to loosen up all the oils and bring out the flavor. Google will not corroborate this, but I find this process takes a little mojo out of the nuts. I prefer the less perfect/more flavorful roasting and rolling technique. You will stain the dishtowel, but such are the sacrifices we make. See here for a THOROUGH demo.

If your dates are hard, or you are using Deglet dates, soak them in warm water for an hour or two before pureeing.

…and furthermore, depending on the sweetness of your dates and the strength of your cocoa, you may need to add more dates at the end to find your sweet spot. 

I swear the notes are done.

Store leftovers in the fridge, and put your guilt in the rear view mirror!

Breakfast in America, reimagined.

The real thing, at the breakfast table, on the dreaded melba toast, in its homeland.

Cocoa Nutty Balls

This is the first of two posts featuring the holy trinity of healthy treat ingredients: dates, nuts and cocoa. Why so holy? If you can get your Vegan, Paleo and Gluten-free friends at the same table, eating the same thing and loving it, there’s some divine intervention going on.

I’m posting them separately so they each get full credit, and you can find them more easily when needed. Both recipes are quick, easy and 100 percent free of added sweeteners, dairy, or grains. This first one is slightly more labor intensive because, well, balls require some care. (sorry, couldn’t resist). Neither recipe requires one bit of cooking, but they both will give your food processor an honest workout.

First up, are these cocoa nutty balls. (If you do the highly recommended pro move and roll them in toasted coconut when you’re done you can call them coconutty balls. See how that works? ) These are well known and loved in the paleo world and for good reason. They get sweetness and smoothness from dates, heft and texture from walnuts and chocolatey goodness from cocoa. The pinch of salt gives them some sass and the optional coating lets you add your own customized cha-cha.

But wait there’s more! These can hang out in the freezer until you need them. They transport well for hiking, picnics, lunchboxes, road trips or any eating on the fly. I offered these to a bunch of burly ski racers between their runs and they inhaled them. Either the lodge had run out of cheeseburgers or they actually liked them. I hope you’ll like them too!

Cocoa Nutty Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts (or a mix of walnuts and almonds or skinned hazelnuts*)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup pitted dates (Medjool if you can. Deglet if you must)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • (Optional for pro version) Toasted unsweetened coconut—or whatever added crunch you like—for coating.

Method

Add walnuts and salt to a blender or food processor. Mix until the walnuts are finely ground.

Add the dates, vanilla, and cocoa powder to the blender. Mix well until everything is combined. With the blender still running, add a couple drops of water at a time to make the mixture stick together. (If it really won’t stick together in a ball, add another date or two)

Slacker version: Using a spatula, transfer the mixture to a small (8″x 8″) pan and smoosh it flat, sprinkle optional topping/coating evenly on top and press it into the surface. (A layer of parchment paper makes this easy.) Let cool in the fridge and cut into whatever sized bites or bars you want. 

Semi Pro Version: Transfer the mixture into a bowl. Using your hands, form small round balls (I aim for walnut sized), rolling in your palms. They’ll come together and feel a little greasy, making them perfect for the…

Pro Version: Toast raw coconut flakes or shreds in a 350ish degree oven a few minutes (until just golden) and let them cool. If flakes, whirl them in the food processor until finely ground, but not yet buttery. Add a pinch of salt is that’s your jive (it’s mine).** Remove the blade from the bowl and drop in three or four balls at a time, rolling them around to coat.

You can store bars or balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for a looooong time.

*Skinning hazelnuts will be fully discussed in the next post. If you just can’t wait for this fascinating discussion (I know, you’re only human) check out this treatise on the topic.

**store leftover toasted coconut in a jar to sprinkle on yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, etc.

Just us fruits and nuts here, keeping our cool

 

Heart of Darkness Chocolate Cups

Come to the dark side, for the good of your heart and soul.

I hit the food stash jackpot, when Sister A rolled into town with a carry-on full of Trader Joes nuts. I already had a decent stash of raw walnuts and almonds, but she brought in the exotics: pecans, pistachios, pepitas, cashews, macadamias. My pre-holiday ship had come in!

This happy event coincided with the other fortunate circumstance of having a lot of really good dark chocolate on hand. It’s not a huge leap to imagine what happened next. Yes my friends, I had a Reese’s ah-ha moment. Maybe I could make a slightly more mainstream yet totally healthy version of Reese’s Redemption Cups.

The revelation here is homemade nut butter, ever-so-gently spiced up, but not sweetened…and dark chocolate…and a pixie dust sprinkling of flaky salt, but only if you dare. Dark chocolate is just plain better for you than a whole lot of un-fun things, and when the health police serve up an opening like this you run through it!

The below list of directions is daunting, but basically you are doing this: Making nut butter by roasting raw nuts and whirring them in a food processor with cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Then you are melting chocolate, pouring a bit in the bottom of lined mini muffin cups, adding a blob of nut butter then spooning more chocolate on top of the whole shebang. With that vision, read on bravely, and know that you will end up with something delicious no matter what it looks like.

Don’t over think this one. Just make up a bunch when you’re feeling it, and enjoy them as needed. You will not regret having this stash on hand.

Heart of Darkness Chocolate Cups

Adapted from betterwithcake

Makes 14-16 mini cups of joy

First, you’ve got to make your nut butter. See below. From there it’s just a matter of melting chocolate. Again, whatever darned chocolate you feel like. The darker the chocolate, the higher percentage the cocoa, so the slower it will melt and the more temperamental it will be to work with. If you’re going way dark, add some coconut oil. You can also use vegetable oil, but it will thin the chocolate more and you will have fallen off the superfood wagon. Don’t worry. You won’t be lonely there.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup or so of homemade, chocolate hazelnut almond butter (or store bought chocolate hazelnut butter if you must. The texture will be gooier)
  • 1 bag (10-12 oz) good quality dark-as-you-dare chocolate chips, Vegan if needed.
  • 2-3 tsp coconut oil (optional, but it makes your life easier)
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Optional toppings of choice: toasted shredded coconut, finely chopped toasted nuts, dried fruit, crushed peppermints, leftover candy corn, etc, etc, etc. 

Method:

Line a mini muffin tin with 16 paper or silicone liners.

Melt chocolate, with coconut if you are using, by your preferred method. I do mine in a small, retro double boiler over simmering water. If you are among the tens of millions of people with a working microwave, you can try that method.

Use a teaspoon to drizzle some melted chocolate into each the muffin liner. Don’t use all your chocolate; save at least 1/3 of it to spread on top once your chocolate cups are filled. Adjust the number of cups you make accordingly.

(At this point, if you are making big cups (not mini), or if you going for perfection, put them into the freezer for a few minutes to set up. If using mini ones, you’re good to keep going.)

Drop a very scant (ideally a slightly flattened oval) teaspoonful of your nut butter into each cup (if you went pro and froze the first layer then go ahead and press down on the nut butter to level it).

Once all your cups are filled with the nut butter, use your designated chocolate spoon to cover the filling with the rest of the melted chocolate. Give the cups a sprinkle of salt and/or your garnish of choice and place them into the fridge to set, or the freezer to store longer term. They will keep in the fridge for several weeks and in the freezer for 3-6 months. Riiiiiiight.

Chocolate Hazelnut Almond Butter

The not very perfect but oh so delicious cross-section

~Vegan, Dairy Free, Paleo Friendly, Shazaam!

The beauty of this nut butter is that it’s easy, and the spices add cha-cha without any sweeteners. I go with cocoa and cinnamon but you can do a chai spiced one with cardamom, or a chile spiced one. Get creative and dream big here people. Once you’ve got the nut butter made you are totally set up for success.
Makes approx 2 cups of pretty darned healthy chocolate-hazelnut almond butter. This is way more than you need for a bag of melted chocolate chips, so you’ll be enjoying this on apples and toast, in smoothies and sandwiches, etc.

Ingredients –

  • 1 cup of raw almonds
  • 1 cup of raw skinless hazelnuts* (or use all almonds or sub hazelnuts with raw cashews or macadamias)
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla bean extract
  • 1 Tablespoon of cocoa (or cacao if you’re fancy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt flakes

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350

Line a large baking sheet with baking/parchment paper (or a non stick silpat mat) and pour your raw nuts on, making sure they are spread evenly and not crowded.

Roast your nuts for 10 mins, until lightly roasted and slightly golden.

If you are unable to get skinless hazelnuts you’ve got an extra step here. roast them on a separate tray and once they are roasted, place on a clean dry hand towel and fold it in half. Rub it gently between your hands and the skins should come loose. Once the hazelnuts have shed their skins, discard the skins and proceed with the recipe as normal.

Pour your roasted almonds and hazelnuts into the bowl of your food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy (or your desired consistency). It takes a minute or two to transform from ground nuts to creamy butter. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally as you go.

Once you’ve gotten the desired consistency, add the salt, cocoa (or cacao, whatev) and vanilla then process until combined.

Taste and adjust flavors accordingly – this is where you make you’re personal statement, adding extra salt or vanilla or maple syrup or whatever floats your boat. You can also lube it with a bit of coconut oil if you like.

Scrape that deliciousness into an air-tight jar and keep it in the
fridge for several weeks.

Bringing it:

My suggestion here is to keep a stash of this nut butter at the ready, and then, whenever you have a window of time and some extra chocolate lying around, make up some of these. With a stash of them in the freezer you are never without a healthy dessert, a peace offering, a hostess gift or just a little love bomb of chocolate.

 

 

 

 

 

Loosey Brucey’s Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

From the rhubarb patch to the kitchen, with a little magic and a whole lot of forgiveness.

If you need exact recipes, do not read any further, because this recipe will irk you. If you can tolerate significant looseness with your dessert creations, read on.

Today we have strawberry rhubarb crisp, because if you don’t have a rhubarb patch, somebody you know probably does and it is time to take it down!

This one comes from Pierce’s Inn, more specifically from innkeeper Bruce Lingelbach’s head as he guides pinch-hitter food preppers in the kitchen. His instructions range in specificity based on food type and his degree of recipe ownership. They fall on the spectrum of extremely loose (fruit crisps you can’t possibly screw up), to highly specific yet humorously delivered (7 millimeter thick slices and the spread must completely cover the toast), to intentionally vague as when he is guarding a secret recipe (don’t mess with Bruce’s chili).

I love this recipe because, along with being seasonal and delicious, it is among the loosest, with easy to remember, even proportions that can be grown and shrunk without higher math skills. If there is any wavering on amounts, Bruce will shrug and say, “Who ever complained about too many strawberries? …or maple syrup/crumb topping, etc. The crumb topping would work with whatever berries or softish fruit you have on hand, and the process could not be easier. It’s all about filling a dish with fresh berries, pouring molten rhubarb over it, then topping it all with your crisp mixture and baking it. Best of all, it requires no more than a baking dish and a pot.

This recipe is really more about process than exact amounts or baking time. The amounts here are good for a big 9” x 13” baking dish, and you can adjust according to the size of your dish. (Up it to 2 sticks butter, 2 cups of all else. Downsize it to 1 stick butter, 1 cup of all else. You’ve got this!) The recipe, like Bruce, is mighty forgiving, and also lends itself to special diets. Use gluten free oats and flour mix for the GF’s, and Vegan butter sticks for the Vs. No special diets? Then go for it and toss in some chopped walnuts or almonds.

The only place I freelanced on this was by adding a bit of salt to the crisp and a hefty squeeze of lemon to the cooked rhubarb because, “who ever complained about a dash of salt or fresh squeezed lemon?”

Pierce’s Inn Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Ingredients:

For the fruit:

  • 2 pounds strawberries
  • A whole lot of rhubarb (5 stalks or more) cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Big slug of maple syrup
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Juice from half a lemon (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the topping:

  • 1 ½ sticks (12 Tbsp) butter, melted or very soft (Pierce’s uses only Kate’s Sea Salted. See Bruce’s comment below)
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups oats
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt (optional)
  • roughly chopped nuts of choice (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut the rhubarb into one-inch pieces, put into a pot with sugar and maple syrup. Give it all a stir and turn it on medium high so it gets bubbling along. Let it cook for 20 minutes or so, until rhubarb falls apart when stirred. Give it a taste for sweetness and add some sugar or syrup if desired.

Meanwhile, quarter the strawberries directly into baking dish. When rhubarb is done, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and lemon juice. Pour molten rhubarb over the berries and give it all a stir.

In the rhubarb pot you have rinsed or wiped out, melt the butter and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Distribute evenly across the fruit and bake.

Of course there is no exact time, but give it a solid 30 minutes before checking. It should look, well, awesome— golden brown on top with sweet red lava of goodness bubbling up. Let cool a bit before serving. If made ahead, gently rewarm before serving.

Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream…because whoever complained about too much of that?

Rubble: A Beautiful Mess of Ice Cream

This is it people. The opening weekend of summer is upon us, and we need to be ready. We’ve got three months of picnics, drive ins, hikes, sleepovers, pool parties, campouts, BBQ’s, road trips, beach trips, lake visits, river running. In short, this is when you need to get your Bring It on!

You don’t just want to bring “something” to all these occasions. You want to bring the thing that keeps people coming back for more. Here are a few faves:

My number one recommendation is, of course, Hero Slaw, but there are other salads that will stand up to travel, and make you popular once you arrive. Panzanella and Shrimp and Bulgur salad are hard to beat for ease and deliciousness. If your numbers are smaller and you can handle a little on-site assembly, let them eat pineapple avocado salad.

Casually plunk People’s Choice Cornbread on the table and watch the kids move right on in. Use the same casual approach with a loaf or two of Easiest French Bread Ever, which you can also slice up for bruschetta or make in a well-buttered loaf pan and use for sandwiches (hellooo road trips!)

If you are on cocktail duty for a crowd, bust out your Tupperware pitchers and freeze up a big batch of frosé or frozen daquiris. Nobody’s going to send you away with a pitcher of watermelon sangria either.

And fergawdsakes don’t forget the cookies! Champion chip cookies and these cinnamon-y oatmeal raisin ones will do the trick.

And speaking of dessert…I recently met a totally Memorial Day worthy recipe. “Rubble,” is a creation straight from Squaw Valley, courtesy of Treas, the Squaw of Granite Chief. She made it for us with chocolate, vanilla, coffee and strawberry ice cream, and with chocolate and caramel sauce. (Overachiever!) Eminently adaptable Rubble can be made with any combo of ice cream and sauce, and it can be expanded to fit the size of the group. Perhaps best of all, it can be sourced at pretty much any market— even a decent mini mart.

Treas aspires to make this in more grown up flavor combos, but I can attest that the straight up chocolate, coffee, vanilla, strawberry is fantastic. As a bonus it can be assembled by kids or adults with no real regard for exact instruction or amounts.

You will need, from the bottom up:

Equipment:

  • Parchment Paper
  • Baking sheet
  • Freezer

Ingredients:

  • Biscotti or any hard cookie (Treas uses Nonnis biscotti)
  • Ice cream, in amounts and flavors you desire
  • Fresh berries of choice
  • Ice cream sauce, again in flavor or flavors of choice.
  • Smoked almonds, roughly chopped (Treas holds the line here. Smoked almonds really make the difference, and yes they probably have them at the mini mart)

Method:

Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.

Smash/break up a few biscotti (do not crumble them too much. You want to be able to identify them), and scatter them across the parchment.

On top of that, start layering up: scoops of ice cream, a good drizzle of sauce, a smattering of berries and a sprinkling of chopped almonds over the whole shebang. Depending on the size of your crowd you may need to make more layers. Use your best artistic dessert instincts on this.

Put your masterpiece in the freezer so it coalesces into one frozen pile.

A few minutes before serving take out the rubble and let it soften just enough to be penetrable.

Have at it!

Bringing it:

Once frozen, rubble can take a short trip in the car with no ill effects. It’s not exactly tailgate fare though.

Happy Memorial Day all, and welcome to summer!