Monday, October 5, 2015

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

Ahh, fall. Thank you, autumn, for your beautiful cooler weather. For falling leaves. For apple picking season. Oh, wait, that doesn't really happen in San Diego, does it?

I was made to be an east coast girl. As much as I LOVE my home state, I belong in a place where September means jeans & boots. Where you pack on a few extra pounds because it's cold outside. Where a short drive leads to apple orchards and the leaves burn auburn and orange before gently whispering toward the ground. Doesn't that sound romantic?

Those of you who, like me, adore fall probably already know that with autumn comes baking with ingredients like apples and pumpkins. This recipe is no exception. Well, except that it's Paleo! Using nuts, eggs, coconut oil and a wee bit of maple syrup, this recipe lets the pumpkin and spices shine through more so than the typical pumpkin muffin recipe. Low in sugars, rich in protein and vitamins, it's deliciously healthy for anyone. Don't take my word for it, though. Try it!



Danielle Walker's Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

2 C blanched almond flour
3 T coconut flour (I didn't have this so I used all almond flour)
1 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
3/4 t nutmeg
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t cardamom
1/4 t cloves
1/4 t sea salt
3/4 C pumpkin puree
1/3 C maple syrup or honey
2 eggs at room temp
2 T coconut oil, melted
1 t vanilla
2 T chopped pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line your muffin tin with papers.

3. Whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

4. Place the remaining wet ingredients (minus the pepitas) in a bowl and mix until combined.

5. Slowly fold the dry ingredients into the wet until combined.

6. Pour the batter into the tins about 2/3 full and top with pepitas.

7. Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

8. Eat. Try to stop yourself from eating a second. And then a third. No, really, stop there. Okay, one more, then, but we're stopping at 4!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Chocolate Almond Fairy Cakes

In all fairness to Ms. Zoe Nathan, who wrote this recipe, she calls these "muffins" in her gorgeous cook book that happens to be named after her incredible restaurant/bake shop Huckleberry in Santa Monica, CA. To me, though, this is dessert-only fare. Besides, these rich, luscious beauties are more cake-like. Something you eat at tea time with girlfriends. Something you revel in. Something to delight the senses and fulfill any sweets craving. You know, a fairy cake!

This cake is decadent and faintly fragrant with almond. If you're thinking Almond Joy candy bars, these are not that. These "fairy cakes" are a rich cake, fortified by a nut paste that gives them a deep melt-in-your-mouth quality.

I mean, just LOOK at the chocolate. The melty, indulgent chocolate! Just try not to fall over with culinary joy. I dare you!

Thank you, Zoe Nathan, for the BEST dessert experience I've had since the chocolate tarte that is my favorite thing in the world. And a special thank you to Stacy for so kindly buying me this gorgeous cook book. I'm going to make every single recipe!



Chocolate Almond Fairy Cakes
Makes 16 cupcakes
3/4 C almond paste
1 C sugar
1 t kosher salt
1/3 C cocoa (I used Valrhona. I highly recommend using the best quality you can get your hands on)
1 C + 1 T butter, at room temp
6 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 C + 1-1/2 T flour
2-1/4 t baking powder (I only had roughly 1-1/2 t which is why my cakes look a little lacklustre)
2 C chocolate chips or chopped chocolate with about 3 T reserved

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line 2 cupcake tins with 16 cupcake papers and set aside.

3. In your stand mixer, blend the almond paste, sugar, salt and cocoa until the paste is no longer clumpy. If you taste at this point, the texture will be a bit like cornmeal.

4. Add the butter and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

5. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, beating well after each addition. I scraped the bowl after each addition, but that's not in the book.

6. Add the flour, baking powder and chocolate chips and mix on low speed until incorporated. You can finish mixing with your spatula, if need be.

7. Fill your muffin cups to the top and sprinkle a few more chocolate chips or chunks on top.

8. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops spring back when gently touched.

9. Cool completely and eat!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lemon Cream Tartlets

You know how you have those friends - the ones you clicked with the first time? Those rare and beautiful people who seem to seamlessly join you wherever you are in life and it seems like they've always been there? My friend Toya is like that for me.

Toya is a kindred soul. She loves to bake, too, and because she wouldn't be comfortable in front of a crowd, even one as small as my readership (thank you for being here!), she texts me photos of her front-window-worthy muffins, cakes and other delights.

What I really love about Toya is her earth-mother-ness. She is the high priestess in the tarot: the eternal mother, a gentle soul with fierce protective powers. She's thoughtful, quiet. She can never, ever leave a party because she is always, always listening attentively to people trying to chat her up. Add to all this the most beautiful lips on a face you've ever seen, and that's Toya. 

Recently, Toya had a very big birthday and a few of us revelers crashed her suite in a hotel. Because one does not show up empty-handed to this sort of affair, J & I brought wine, margaritas & these sweet little tartlets in Toya's favorite flavor - lemon. The difference between these tasties and, say, a lemon bar, is that they're made with a rich, decadent lemon cream a la Tartine Bakery. As complex as they are, though, they are light and lovable, all at once. Kind of like our birthday girl.

T, I love you so. Cheers to the big birthday and to all the little ones in between.



Tartine's Lemon Cream Tartlets
Makes 36 tartlets

1 C unsalted butter
1 C sugar
1/4 t kosher salt
2 large eggs, at room temp
3-1/2 C flour

Lemon Cream
1/2 C + 2 T lemon juice
3 large eggs, at room temp
1 large egg yolk, at room temp
3/4 C sugar
1/4 t kosher salt
1 C unsalted butter

Make your pastry.

1. Mix the butter, sugar, salt on medium until smooth.
2. Mix in one egg, then the other, blending completely after each.
3. Add the flour all at once and mix on low until incorporated.
4. Divide the pastry into quarters, wrap well in plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours.
5. Once chilled, remove 2 of your quarters from the fridge and freeze the rest.
6. Preheat your oven to 325.
7.Roll them to 1/4" thickness and, using a 3" biscuit cutter, cut out tartlet circles.
8. Gently press each tartlet pastry into mini-muffin pans (each mini muffin pan holds about 24 minis)
9. Bake at 325 for 6 minutes or so, just until the crust is set.
10. Remove from oven and gently press down with your thumb or a spoon so you can fill each pastry cup with cream.

Make your lemon cream.

Okay, you need a double boiler for this. Don't have one? You need a sauce pan that you can fill with about 1-2 inches water and a heat-safe bowl (preferably stainless steel, but, whatever) to place on top.

1. Boil about 1-2 inches water in a saucepan.
2. While the water is heating, blend the lemon juice, eggs, egg yolk, and sugar.
3. Once blended, place over the boiling water and stir constantly (listen, Toya is worth it. I hope you have a friend like this, too) until the mixture thickens and reaches 180 degrees (about 10-12 minutes, depending upon your boil and your stirring commitment).
4. Remove from heat and let cool to 140 degrees, stirring every minute or so to help the heat release.
5. Cut the butter into 1" cubes.
6. Pour the lemon egg mixture into your blender.
7. With the blender running, add the butter one cube at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
8. The cream will be light in color and is ready to use now or store for a few days and spoon into your creation.

Spoon the cream into the tartlet shells and place a dollop whipped cream on top. Add a blueberry or mint leaf and you're all ready to pop it into your mouth serve!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Paleo Peach Crisp

After my unintentional summer hiatus, a break that was caused mostly by a deep desire to escape the heat of my non-air-conditioned home, I'm thrilled to start sharing some of what I was willing to turn the oven on for with y'all.

First up is this gorgeous, pure crisp that happens to be Paleo-friendly. Not only is this recipe the bees knees, but it can also be made with all sorts of fall fruits like pears, apples, figs...whatever you like and is in season. In fact, the original recipe calls for pears and blueberries. Just sayin'.

I have not gone Paleo, but my mother has and it's having all kinds of positive affects on her person. Did I mention my mom has rheumatoid arthritis? That's the kind that effects pretty much every joint in your body and wreaks havoc on your energy level and immune system. Because there are so many irritants in our atmosphere and foods these days, eating a simple diet of foods that grow can reduce inflammation and seems to help with everything from allergies to arthritis.

When my mom visited over the summer, I was terrified to cook Paleo until she bought me Danielle Walker's Against All Grain. I was afraid I'd have to spend all day in the kitchen. Of spending a small fortune on food. Of feeling hungry and dissatisfied after each meal. Turns out that while I do love me some carbs, I discovered that Ms. Walker just plain makes great food. Whatever the diet, her recipes are incredible. Mom is back in Pasadena and I'm still cooking from this book all the time. I'm hoping for another of Ms. Walker's fine books for Christmas. Just putting that out there...

Anyhow, back to the crisp. Who knew that a simple recipe like this one - WITHOUT SUGAR - could be so yummy? I could totally eat this for breakfast with a dollop of yogurt on it, too (pretty sure yogurt's not Paleo!). Whether you serve this for dessert, breakfast or just try making it for an afternoon adventure, please do try it. It's pretty freaking tasty!



Paleo Peach Crisp
Serves 12

4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
1 T lemon juice
2 T coconut flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t allspice

2 T coconut oil, solid form
2/3 C almonds
2/3 C pecans
4 pitted Medjool dates
2 T shredded unsweetened coconut
1-1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt

1. Preheat your oven to 375.
2. Mix your fruit ingredients and place into your 9" x 13" baking dish.
3. Place your topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles oats.
4. Sprinkle crisp over fruit and bake 35 minutes or until you see juices bubbling from the corners of the crisp.
5. Cool 30 minutes and serve!

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Perfect Cookie for Ice Cream Sandwiches

Who wants to bake in this summer heat? Not me!

What we could do, however, is mix up a batch of these delicious cookies, put the dough into the fridge and bake them later on tonight after it cools down. Tomorrow (or a week from now if you freeze the dough or baked cookies), we'd be ready to make the absolute best ice cream sandwiches. Want to join me in this delicious plan?

This idea all started back in May when my little one turned five. She didn't want an ordinary cake this year, so, she requested ice cream to go with her mermaid-themed pool party. Loving this idea and, of course, loving her, I agreed this was a fabulous idea.

Last year, I posted some delicious molasses cookie ice cream sandwiches but this year, I wondered how I could make more sandwiches in less time. Turning to my favorite of favorite baking tomes, I found the recipe I needed to make these chewy-but-sturdy vanilla and chocolate sugar wafers. These are the perfect consistency for mixing with fillings because they give just enough when you bite into them, but they won't bend in your hands. Honestly, I would serve these with lemonade and tea as an afternoon snack or whip up a small batch of buttercream frosting and make homemade oreos. 

Any way you choose to make and eat these, they'll be delectable. 




Ice Cream Sandwiches
Serves 24
24 3" vanilla icebox cookies, baked and frozen (recipe below)
24 3" chocolate icebox cookies, baked and frozen (recipe below)
2 quarts best-quality ice cream (I suggest one mint chocolate chip and one vanilla, but please choose your favorites!)

1. Remove your ice cream from the freezer 10 minutes before making up your cookies so it softens.
2. When the ice cream is soft but not melted, place your cookies, tops down on a large piece of parchment.
3. Scoop one large scoop onto the back of one cookie and gently press another, top-side up, down until it appears sandwich-like. Place, covered, back into the freezer for at least 30 minutes to set.
4. Eat! (Bring napkins!!!)

Vanilla Icebox Cookies
Makes about 48 small 1-1/2" or 24 large 3" cookies
2-1/4 C flour
1 t salt
16 T unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
2 t vanilla

1. Whisk flour and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Scrape down your bowl and add the yolks and vanilla. Beat until incorporated.
4. Add dry ingredients and mix until blended.
5. Roll your dough into a ball and then flatten it into a disc. Wrap it up and place into the fridge for at least 2 hours.
6. When you're ready ton  remove your dough from the fridge, preheat your oven to 325.
7. Roll out your dough to 1/4" and, using a 3" cookie cutter or hollowed out can, cut into discs. Please onto a baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes, until the edges are slightly brown.
8. Remove from oven and cool completely on the counter. Once cooled, place in the freezer for at least one hour or until firm.

Chocolate Icebox Cookies
Makes about 48 small 1-1/2" or 24 large 3" cookies
2 C flour
1/4 C cocoa
1 t salt
16 T unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
2 oz. melted and cooled semi-sweet chocolate
2 t vanilla

1. Whisk flour, cocoa and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Scrape down your bowl and add the yolks, melted chocolate and vanilla. Beat until incorporated.
4. Add dry ingredients and mix until blended.
5. Roll your dough into a ball and then flatten it into a disc. Wrap it up and place into the fridge for at least 2 hours.
6. When you're ready ton  remove your dough from the fridge, preheat your oven to 325.
7. Roll out your dough to 1/4" and, using a 3" cookie cutter or hollowed out can, cut into discs. Please onto a baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes, until the edges are slightly brown.
8. Remove from oven and cool completely on the counter. Once cooled, place in the freezer for at least one hour or until firm.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Patriotic Blueberry Pie

What's red, white, blue and delicious all over? Why, blueberry pie in a red dish!

We love pie in our family. Mix fruit with buttery, crispy dough and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and we're pretty stoked. But, sometimes I've got to mix it up - even if all that means is altering the expected shape. I've read a bit about slab pies lately and the idea of more crust really appeals but for this one I just used a regular-sized crust recipe (thanks, once again, to Allison Kave!) and baked it in a square dish. The recipe will work for one double-crust round 9" pie, as it should!

Of course, if you don't have a red dish to bake in, you could add a handful of raspberries or strawberries to make this a patriotic dessert. Or skip the color palette and simply dig in!

Happy Independence Day to you and yours!



Blueberry Pie

Crust (from Allison Kave's First Prize Pies)
1 C butter, cold and cubed
1/2 C milk
1 T apple cider vinegar
3 C flour
1 T cornstarch
3 T sugar
1-1/2 t kosher salt

4 C blueberries, washed and air-dried
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C flour
1 T lemon juice 
(Just place this all in a bowl and toss to coat the fruit. Set aside.)

1. Place the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt into your food processor (or a bowl) and pulse several times to mix (or whisk until blended).
2. Add the butter and pulse about 5 times until the mixture is coarse but dry (if using a pastry blender or knives, chop away until you reach the same basic consistency).
3. With the motor running, quickly add in the milk and vinegar and only process until the mixture comes together - like 2-4 seconds. (If doing this in a bowl, pour wet ingreds in and mix by hand until it comes together). 
4. Divide the dough in half, form into round circles, press into discs and refrigerate, covered at least one hour.
5. Preheat your oven to 425.
6. Roll the discs into circles one at a time. Place one in the bottom of a buttered pie diss and poke with a fork 3-4 times. Drop in the fruit and place the second crust over top. Slice a couple of slits into the top crust to allow steam to escape. Oh, and you could brush on one T milk and sprinkle a little turbinado or muscado sugar on top for effect.
7. Place onto a baking sheet and put into the oven at 425 for 15 minutes.
8. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 350 and continue to bake for 30 minutes more.
9. Remove your glorious pie from the oven and let it cool on the counter for an hour. Dollop with ice cream, whipped cream or whatever else you like and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dad's Favorite Sour Cream Coffee Cake

So... what is everyone doing for Father's Day? Here's my idea: I make a cake so delicious, the scent of cinnamon and butter wafting through the house, that after my husband gobbles a slice or two, he kind of... forgets it's Father's Day. Maybe he floats around, offers to take the kid out and give me a little time on my own. Perhaps while they're out he's dreaming of what else I might bake up for him and it fills his heart with joy that I make these love-filled treats for myself him. While I, loving wife that I am, get a pedicure - or, better, a massage - putting myself in the best mood possible. Because what better gift is there to a man on Father's Day than a fun-loving, super-sharp kid and a happy wife? I think NOTHING. 

If I make this cake, I have a shot at getting that alone time. And, you do, too. It's not the least labor-intensive breakfast, but it's not the most, either. If your family is like mine, they'll eat this for breakfast, lunch and or dinner. Best of all, they'll feel the love with every buttery-crumbly-brown-sugary bite. 

Enjoy on Father's Day or any day. And, sincerely, THANK YOU to all the dads out there for all the blood, sweat and tears they give our families every single day. You guys are amazing and we couldn't do it without you. 

Now, go spend time with your kiddos, dammit!



Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Serves 8

1 C chopped, toasted walnuts
3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 C dark brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 T cinnamon
2 T unsalted butter, cold

1. Mix flour, sugar, 1/4 C brown sugar and cinnamon and process or whisk until combined. Set aside 1-1/4 C of this nutless streusel mixture to place in the center of the cake. 
2. Add the butter, toasted walnuts and remaining brown sugar and process or blend until you've got a bowl of pea-sized bits. Set aside while you assemble the cake.

3/4 C butter, cubed
4 eggs
1-1/2 C sour cream
1 T vanilla
2-1/4 C flour
1-1/4 C sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t sea salt
1. Preheat your oven to 350 and butter a 10" springform pan. If you don't have a springform pan, just make sure you line your pan with parchment and then butter over that. Also make sure the sides are at least 2" high or else your cake will spill over. 

2. Combine the eggs, 1C sour cream and vanilla. Set aside. 

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until blended. Add the butter and 1/2 C sour cream and mix until crumbly. Increase the speed for 30 seconds to combine more thoroughly. 

4. After scraping down the sides of your bowl, slowly drizzle the egg/sour cream/vanilla mixture until it's mixed in. Then, scrape the bowl again. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for one minute. The batter will lighten and fluff up. 

5. Pour about 3 C batter into your pan and smooth the surface with your spoon or spatula. 

6. Sprinkle the nutless streusel over the batter. 

7. Gently pour the remaining batter into your pan and sprinkle the nut-streusel over top. 

8. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool 2 hours and slice to serve.