Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream

I have to admit I’m a little obsessed with the CW’s show Riverdale. It’s based on Archie Comics and it has me on the edge of my seat (well… the edge of my couch). Of course, my obsession has carried over to the food they eat on Riverdale. It’s all very retro: soda pops cherry phosphates and of course, strawberry milkshakes. With strawberry season fast approaching, I figured now is as good a time as ever to make my very own strawberry ice cream. My original thought was to turn this ice cream into a milkshake but after taking one look at the swirls of luscious, roasted strawberries, I knew this needed to be served by the scoopful, preferably on a cone. (Sorry Archie!)

The beauty of this ice cream is in the roasting of the strawberries. A slow roast in the oven turns strawberries into their best selves. The flavor is more strawberry than strawberry. It’s the strawberry essence of your dreams.

Have I mentioned this ice cream is no-churn? Once the strawberries are roasted, it takes less than fifteen minutes for the ice cream base to come together, and only a few hours to freeze. Make this ice cream in the morning and you’ll have perfectly frozen, silky smooth strawberry ice cream by the afternoon.

I hope this silky smooth, deeply strawberry no churn ice cream makes you feel free to whip up homemade ice cream on the regular.



Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk

4 cups sliced strawberries

2 tsp vanilla extract

a couple pinches of kosher salt

2 tbsp water


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line two large loaf pans with parchment paper.
  3. Combine strawberries, vanilla, sugar, water and a pinch of kosher salt in a oven-safe skillet or roasting pan and roast in the oven for an hour.
  4. After an hour, pour the strawberries and their syrup into a large bowl and allow to cool completely.
  5. Whip two cups of heavy cream to stiff peaks.
  6. Gently fold together the whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk until combined. Be careful not to beat the air out of the whipped cream.
  7. Swirl the roasted strawberries into the ice cream base.
  8. Transfer the ice cream base into the lined loaf pans and freeze for at least four hours.
  9. Once frozen, scoop into cones or bowls and enjoy!

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Caramelized Shallot Croquetas

Sorrento, Italy is my happy place. The lemons, the ocean, the cobblestone streets. It’s one of my mind’s favorite places to wander. However, Madrid is my fearless place. If you don’t have a fearless place, let me explain.

I went to Spain on an exchange four or five years ago. I was in my twelfth year of learning Spanish and it was time for me to test my abilities. When I applied, I was so excited. I had been waiting to apply for this trip for so long, waiting for my level of Spanish to be high enough for this trip. The application was due six or seven months before the trip was set to happen. I applied, interviewed and was accepted. I was over the moon. It was happening!

Then the waiting period started. And so did one of the most tumultuous parts of my life. The summer after my acceptance, I had to undergo a sudden, invasive surgery and a grueling recovery period. Even after my body recovered, an unshakable fear followed me around. My trip to Spain, the prospect of which was so exciting, had now become a terrifying monster that inched closer and closer each day. I desperately tried to find a way out, but deposits had been mailed and commitments had been made. There was no getting out, and I had to sit with this fear.

My first night in Madrid, my host family took me to a covered market with a myriad of food stalls, flamenco guitar performers and carafes of deep red sangria. The family buzzed around, picking out small plates for me and presented them to me one after another. Pieces of Manchego with thick pieces of bread, saffron laden rice dishes, and finally, bechamel croquetas.

This night, and indeed this entire experience, was transformative. The world was not to be feared, but to be explored. As I zip-lined through the wilderness on the outskirts of Madrid, or traversed through Las Ramblas, my fears and worries lagged farther and farther behind me, until they couldn’t really catch up to me at all.

In many ways, an unshakable fear still lingers behind me. After all, anxiety is a powerful demon and it can often feel that it’ll tarnish my every experience. But sometimes, there are these moments where I’m completely free, breathing deeply and feeling unencumbered. If I ever need a quick dose of that feeling, my mind takes a trip to Madrid and I become just a little more fearless.



Ingredients:

Croquetas:

1 shallot, finely chopped

3 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tsp + 1 tbsp olive oil

1 3/4 tsp kosher salt + a fat pinch

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup flour

black pepper to taste

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

an inch of vegetable oil

Dipping Sauce:

3 tbsp mayonaise

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp lemon juice

fat pinch kosher salt


Instructions:

  1. In a large saucepan over medium low heat, melt 1 tbsp butter and add 1 tsp olive oil.
  2. Add shallots and a pinch of kosher salt and caramelize until they deepen in color and become fragrant.
  3. Remove the shallots from the pan and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
  5. Add the flour and whisk until it thickens and combines.
  6. Cook this mixture, known as a roux, until it is light brown.
  7. Once the roux is light brown, add the milk little by little, stirring to combine.
  8. Stir in one and a quarter teaspoons kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
  9. Add the shallots into the white sauce and stir to incorporate.
  10. Transfer the white sauce to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  11. After the dough is chilled, scoop a couple tablespoons and roll into a ball. Repeat until all the dough is scooped.
  12. In a separate bowl, beat an egg until fully combined.
  13. Toss three quarters of a cup of panko breadcrumbs with a pinch of black pepper and a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt.
  14. Dip the dough balls into the egg, then the seasoned breadcrumbs and set aside. Continue until all the dough has been dredged.
  15. Heat up about an inch of vegetable in a wide pan over medium heat.
  16. Once the oil is hot and slightly shimmery, drop a few balls of dough in at a time and fry until brown and crispy, turning them to get all sides.
  17. Drain the croquetas on a paper towel lined tray and allow to cool lightly.
  18. While the croquetas cool, stir together all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce until well combined.
  19. Dip a croqueta in the sauce and enjoy!

Chili Garlic Bar Nuts

Appetizer season is upon us. Yes, yes you can serve appetizers any time of year, in fact, it’s cruel if you don’t. However, I’m talking about the kind of appetizers that fit perfectly on the patio, deck, or beach blanket. The kind that take very little work but deliver big flavor and portability. The kind of appetizers that turn into a summer evening routine with friends, a cheese plate and beer. Have I convinced you?

Enter, Chili Garlic Bar Nuts. They are salty, spicy and garlicky and just what summer asked for. Dress them up in a cute bowl with a cheese plate and some olives and gherkins, or throw them in a bag for the beach and you’ll be happy either way.

The spice mix I’ve included in this recipe is fairly mild. Sure, you’ll feel a tingle from the cayenne but it’s not that spicy. I made it this way because, although I scoff at things marked mild and medium, those around me can be super sensitive to heat. If you and your crew can handle spice better than my people can, the cayenne level can definitely be adjusted.

I know officially summer doesn’t start until June but it’s feeling pretty summery to me. So happy summer everyone! Let’s celebrate with some snacks!


Ingredients:

1lb roasted, unsalted peanuts

2 egg whites

1 tsp cayenne

2 tsp kosher salt

4 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp paprika

1 1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp spicy brown mustad

2 tsp water

sea salt for sprinkling

non stick spray


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with non stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until combined and slightly frothy.
  3. Add spices, kosher salt, mustard and water. Whisk until very well combined.
  4. Add peanuts and stir until the peanuts are coated.
  5. Pour out onto the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the peanuts are dry and slightly crisp (they will crisp more as they cool). Toss the peanuts every 10 minutes while baking.
  7. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Baked Garlicky Arancini

I do believe it’s alchemy that turns rice, broth and wine together to make the creamiest, most delicious food, risotto. Now imagine that ultimate creaminess, infused with probably illegal amounts of garlic, and breaded with crispy, seasoned breadcrumbs.

Typically, arancini are fried and delicious. However, at-home deep frying (or medium frying) is not for me. I’ve not been successful in the past without intense preparation and serious equipment (and even then it’s risky for me). Also, at-home frying is not really conducive to making food with any real efficiency, speed or easy clean up. Usually my motto is “do the most” and I love to go all out and do things the difficult, authentic way. But, not when there’s an Italian grocer in close proximity where I can get the real thing and a much easier way to get a not-fried version at home.

Enter panko breadcrumbs. I’m sure you all know this by now, but they are the even crispier cousin of regular breadcrumbs. They are, in my opinion, the ultimate breadcrumb for crispy, golden brown foods. Plus, coating the risotto in these delicious crumbs is a whole lot easier than summertime (or anytime) at home deep frying.

Now, my nonna is probably rolling in her grave as I write this. I wanted to make these arancini so badly and didn’t have any arborio rice. I did, however, have sushi rice, which is also a very short grain rice. Low and behold, it worked like a charm and I was left with an intensely creamy risotto.

As summer approaches, I’m looking for finger food. Eating on the patio with a glass, or bottle, of wine type food. Serving these in the sunshine with bowls of Castelvetrano olives, Marcona almonds, maybe a cheese plate and some greens, is truly my summertime dream. I’m feeling happier just thinking about it, even as it’s pouring rain outside. I hope you’ll feel happy thinking about, and eating, these too.


Ingredients:

6 large cloves of garlic

4 cups water

1/2 cup arborio or sushi rice

4 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 a medium white onion

1 tbs butter

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp white vinegar

parmesan to taste

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 large egg, beaten

nonstick spray

fresh basil for garnish


Instructions:

  1. Combine three cups of water, one smashed garlic clove, three teaspoons of kosher salt, two teaspoons of garlic powder and one teaspoon of black pepper in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Chop the onion very finely and mince the remaining garlic.
  3. Over medium heat in a large pan, melt the butter and add the onion. Cook onion until translucent.
  4. Add the rice and toast until lightly golden.
  5. Turn the heat down to low and begin adding the water in small additions, stirring constantly to ensure the rice absorbs all the water before you add more.
  6. Every so often, add a teaspoon of the minced raw garlic and stir into the risotto. I added this in three or four additions.
  7. Continue to stir and add water until all the water is absorbed and the rice is fully cooked and creamy.
  8. Stir in grated parmesan if desired.
  9. Remove the risotto from heat and chill until cold.
  10. Combine one teaspoon kosher salt and one cup panko breadcrumbs on a plate.
  11. Crack a large egg and whisk until blended. Pour into a shallow bowl.
  12. Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil and nonstick spray and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  13. Once the risotto has chilled and firmed up, scoop golf ball sized balls.
  14. Roll the risotto balls in the egg and then in the seasoned breadcrumbs and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  15. Continue until all of the risotto is coated in egg and breadcrumbs.
  16. Spray the top of each ball lightly with oil and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden.
  17. Sprinkle with fresh basil and enjoy!

Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Sweet Peas

When I was fifteen I was given the opportunity to travel to Rome for an exchange program. Oddly enough, this was not an exchange for an Italian language class, but rather a Latin class. I was really nervous to go, especially since I didn’t speak Italian in any meaningful way and had never left the country without my parents before. This anxiety was definitely strongly tinged with excitement, (I mean who wouldn’t be excited about taking a trip to Rome?) but it was still pretty stomach churning and nail biting nonetheless.

Once I got to Rome, it was more familiar than scary. I was feeling so connected to my roots and my heritage. Rather than being overwhelming, the language reminded me of my nonna, and I understood so much more than I anticipated.

I’ve been feeling a lot of that same brand of anxiety recently. I’m graduating in a few short months, about to embark on “real life” and as much as I’m excited to be done with homework, I’m also so incredibly nervous.

However, like that leap I made when I was 15, I’m hoping that after this massive transition, I find myself feeling connected to my roots, and understanding more than I anticipate.

To celebrate and prepare for this time in my life, I wanted to share with you the first dinner my Italian host mother made for me. This creamy mushroom pasta is life-giving and soul-hugging. When I had it in Italy, it was made with farfalle, because oddly enough, my exchange student only liked short pasta shapes. However, I make it with fettuccine because I love the way the sauce sticks to the longer pasta.

I hope this dish brings you both comfort and excitement, as it did for me six years ago, and as it does for me now.



Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups white mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp black pepper

1 big pinch salt

1/4 cup sweet peas

2 tbsp dry white wine

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup pecorino or parmesan, plus more for garnish

1 ladle full of pasta water

parsley, for garnish

1 box fettuccine


Instructions:

  1. Boil the pasta according to the package instructions in heavily salted water until al dente. Reserve a ladle full of pasta water. Drain the pasta and do not rinse. Set aside.
  2. Wash and slice white mushrooms.
  3. Sauté mushrooms with olive oil on medium- high heat until fragrant and brown.
  4. Season with salt and add the garlic.
  5. Sauté the garlic and mushrooms together on medium heat until the garlic is fragrant.
  6. Deglaze the pan with about two tablespoons of dry white wine.
  7. Add in half a cup heavy cream and turn the heat up to high.
  8. Continuously stir until the cream is brought to a boil and thickens significantly. The cream should darken in color and should coat the back of a spoon.
  9. Lower the heat to a simmer and add in the sweet peas.
  10. Add the cheese and stir to melt.
  11. Add in the pasta and the pasta water and toss to cover each noodle with sauce.
  12. Plate the pasta and top with more cheese and chopped parsley and enjoy!

Waste Not Vegetable Stock

I would like to say that this recipe came out of a love of conservation and environmentalism, that I was born with an inherent respect for all parts of an ingredient and that I’ve never wasted a drop in my life. That is obviously untrue. While I do value conservation and environmentalism, and have grown to so deeply respect food and avoid waste at all costs, this recipe grew out of financial desperation.

I am a college student with limited grocery money but the palate of a wannabe chef. I want to live large, cook amazing meals and spend very little money. One way to do this is to make as much from scratch as possible, including broth. I’m a vegetarian and don’t eat chicken broth (although if it sneaks into my food at restaurants, I don’t lose much sleep) so I’ve developed a super rich and flavorful vegetable stock that uses exclusively veggie scraps.

When you throw away the (clean) peels and ends of vegetables like carrots and onions, you’re throwing away flavor and nutrients. Unsightly bumps or weird texture doesn’t matter in a stock pot, so why not repurpose those scraps into a fantastic, nutrient rich stock where you can control the flavor and ingredients. This means no added sugar, no gums, thickeners, or bizarre additives plus a sodium level you can control.

The vegetables I use in my stock are typically garlic, onion, carrots, and mushrooms. Then I often add in a seasonal vegetable I have on hand, like pumpkin skins in the fall. There are vegetables that do not work in stock. Anything really dark green (think spinach, collards, any bitter greens or broccoli) will not impart a good flavor to a broth. In general, stick to vegetables that have a level of sweetness, like garlic, butternut squash or pumpkin peels (not the flesh), shallots, green onions or leeks (or really anything in the onion family). I hate celery but I know that it is a staple in most soups and broths, so feel free to add celery to your stock as well.

I save the peels and ends of carrots, onions and garlic cloves, as well as the stems of mushrooms, and freeze them in quart or gallon sized ziplock bags. Once I’ve gathered a sufficient amount, about 4 quarts of veggie scraps, I put them in a large stock pot, cover them in water, bring to a boil and then reduce for a simmer for about three hours. I know it’s done when the stock is a dark orange or pale brown color (depending on how many carrots and onion skins are in your vegetable scrap mix) and is very fragrant.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling fancy I’ll throw in a couple of fresh, smashed garlic cloves or half a fresh onion that I have lying around. It can be helpful for developing flavor to sauté the fresh vegetables before adding them in. Another fun addition is a small handful of herbs. I like to use chives, dill or parsley, depending on my intended use for the stock. (I would avoid very strong herbs like cilantro and basil but who am I to tell you what to do!)

I really love this method, it has become a really important tradition for me. Even when I’m able to afford to use whole vegetables, I still prefer to use this scrap method because I love to breathe new life into something that we usually take for granted. I hope this can become a tradition for you as well!



Ingredients:

4-ish quarts of vegetable scraps

enough water to cover vegetables

salt to taste

a very small handful of tender herbs (optional)

1/2 a fresh onion (optional)

a few smashed cloves of fresh garlic (optional)

1 tbsp olive oil (optional, only necessary if sautéing fresh vegetables)


Instructions:

  1. After peeling, chopping or cutting vegetables, transfer the scraps into a plastic zip top bag and freeze.
  2. Once you’ve collected enough scraps, transfer them into a stock pot and cover completely with water.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately turn down to a simmer and cover.
  4. After a few hours, when the mixture is darker in color and very fragrant, remove from heat and strain the vegetable scraps out and throw away.
  5. Season the stock to taste.
  6. Transfer to zip top bags or tupperware containers to keep in the fridge or freezer and enjoy!

Almond Tea Cakes


Almond might be my favorite flavor of all time. I have such strong memories of my childhood, so many flavored with almond. Eating almond Italian ice after a sweltering summer day, a selection of marzipan cookies at any and all gathering of family and friends or torrone from old Italian bakeries. Even eating toasted almond bars from the ice cream truck (although that is not the most authentic almond flavor…) It’s almost like my palate is stamped with memories of almond flavored fare the way a passport is stamped with memories of beautiful, worldly adventures.

Maybe that’s why when someone in passing nicknamed my boyfriend almond five years ago, it stuck for me and he’s currently in my phone as almond, rather than his real, and very similar sounding, name.

That might also be why when I was recently gifted a large amount of slivered almonds, my heart skipped a beat as I dreamed of making something deliciously almond-y. (Yes, you read that correctly. Someone gave me almonds as a gift, and I was delighted.)

It is fascinating how taste leaves these memories, even stronger than sight sometimes. One bite of these almond tea cakes and I am brought back to so many summer days, toasted almond bars dripping down my arm. Or to a family Christmas party, trying to find the coveted marsipan cookies in the tower of Italian cookies. At the same time, these cakes are delicate and delicious enough to make a statement of their own. These cakes are a love letter to almond experiences past, present and future, and a stunning reminder of how powerful food memories are.

This leads me to the nitty gritty of beautiful almond tea cakes. They are moist, light, fluffy and impossibly almond-y. Plus they are topped with a sweet, sticky glaze that dries to secure the flower-like slivered almonds on top.

I used this Williams Sonoma mini tart pan to make four cakes, so this recipe is relatively small batch. You could easily make smaller cakes in a muffin pan or pour the whole batch in a small cake or loaf pan, but I love the fluted edges and shape of these little tea cakes.

I also do not have a measurement for the amount of slivered almonds you’ll need for the top of each tea cake since it would vary based on the pan you use. I used about a half cup of slivered almonds for my four cakes, but it depends on how closely you place the almonds and what size you make your cakes.

This recipe is easily doubles so you can make as many tea cakes as your heart desires. (I even made a quadrupled version of this cake and turned it into raspberry lemon layer cake for a friend!) If your heart is anything like mine, it’s going to desire a bunch of these cakes.



Ingredients:

For cake:

1/8 cup plus 1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp almond extract

1 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp white vinegar

For the glaze:

1/2 tsp almond extract

1-2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

1 cup powdered sugar

Other:

1 cup slivered almonds for topping

For the pans:

nonstick spray

flour


Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare the tart or muffin pans with non-stick spray and flour.
  2. Stir together the oil and sugar until smooth and well combined.
  3. In another bowl, sift together salt, flour and baking powder.
  4. Combine almond milk, almond extract and vinegar and set aside for ten minutes.
  5. Combine the milk mixture with the oil mixture and whisk to combine.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two or three additions and stir until smooth and combined.
  7. Pour batter into prepared tart or muffin pans.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes, until the cakes have risen and are springy to the touch.
  9. While the cakes bake, combine all the ingredients for the glaze and whisk until very smooth.
  10. Once the cakes have cooled, spread the glaze over each cake and arrange the almonds in a flower pattern, starting from the outer edge and moving inwards.
  11. Serve with coffee or tea and enjoy!

Focaccia Barese with Tomatoes and Rosemary

Too long ago, I spent my first day in Bari, Italy. I was there to visit my family, some relatives I’d never met before and some I was just barely acquainted with. This was the family of my Nonna, the late matriarch of my family and the woman who, in large part, shaped me into the food and travel loving lady that I am. Friends, I was nervous. This wasn’t the first stop on the trip, in fact it was the last. It wasn’t even my first time in Italy. However, I was truly nervous to meet these people who meant so much to my Nonna. (It didn’t help that I was a vegetarian in the land of prosciutto or that there was a massive language barrier and only one bilingual person among us.)

Would they like us? Would their homemade wine turn us blind? Would they think I was rude for not eating the meat they served us? Would the conversation flow freely, or would it be uncomfortable and quiet as we struggled to connect and understand?

It was a pivotal moment for me in my exploration of who I am. I felt the weight of this meeting, how important it would have been to my Nonna, how important it was for me if I ever wanted to know her as an adult.

We walked around the old part of the city, talking and preparing for the next day, the big reunion. We stopped for thick, pillowy squares of Focaccia Barese dotted with tomatoes and sprinkled with sea salt.

As we ate, I grew more excited, and less nervous. The meeting was going to be exciting, I would get to see where my Nonna was born, where she grew up. Of course we would connect, and if the wine turned us blind? Well, at least we got to see Italy beforehand. Everything was going to be fine.

I was right. We left the village the next day, full to the brim and planning our next visit. In fact, I’ve just applied to spend the whole summer in Matera, just twenty minutes away from my Nonna’s little town.

To this day, a piece of Focaccia Barese brings back that feeling of excitement, of being on the brink of discovering more about myself.



Ingredients:

8 tbsp olive oil

3 large garlic cloves, chopped coarsley

1 packet active dry yeast

3/4 cup lukewarm water

1/4 tsp light brown sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt

10-12 grape tomatoes, cut in half

dried rosemary to taste

sea salt, to sprinkle


Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan over low heat, combine garlic and olive oil.
  2. Cook for at least an hour over low heat, until the mixture is fragrant.
  3. In a large bowl, combine two tablespoons of the infused olive oil, yeast, and brown sugar. Give the mixture a gentle stir
  4. Let stand for ten minutes until the yeast is dissolved.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together the kosher salt and the flour.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture in quarter cup additions, mixing in between every addition.
  7. Mix until the dough is smooth and thoroughly combined.
  8. Brush a bowl with the infused olive oil and transfer the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap.
  9. Transfer the bowl into the refrigerator for twenty four hours.
  10. After twenty four hours, remove the dough from the refrigerator.
  11. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and add four tablespoons of the infused olive oil to a cake pan or cast iron skillet. Make sure to coat the bottom and sides of the pan.
  12. Spread the dough inside the pan evenly.
  13. Press the halved grape tomatoes into the dough.
  14. Drizzle the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil on top of the dough and sprinkle with sea salt.
  15. Allow the dough to rise for another half hour at room temperature.
  16. Bake at 475 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-45 minutes, until firm but tender and golden brown.
  17. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with dried rosemary. Enjoy!

Heartbeet Red Velvet Cake


Happy early Valentine’s Day everyone! I know people have all kinds of feelings about this holiday, but I’ve always felt pretty neutral about it. I’m certainly not a hater, but also not in need of anything over the top.

I think part of the reason I’ve always been able to take this day in stride is because of how I celebrated it with my family growing up. Every year my parents would cook a nice dinner, complete with a fancy dessert, and set the dining room table with candles. On each plate there was a card and at each place setting there would be a tiny present. Some years it would be a pair fuzzy socks, some years it would be a little box of chocolates. Then, we would go around the table, talking about what we loved most about each other.

This tradition really made me view Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate all the types of love in my life. The love of my family and friends, the romantic love in my life, heck, even the love of my pets! Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate anything that brings love into your life, be that a romantic partner, your best friend or even your gardening club.

And on that note, I bring you this heartbeet red velvet cake (it has beets in it!)

Instead of being colored with red food coloring, roasted beet puree brings this cake it’s bright red color and it’s supreme moisture. Dark chocolate cocoa powder brings this cake a beautiful chocolate flavor without having to add too much cocoa as to make the cake dry. Topped with a beautiful cream cheese buttercream, this cake is show stopping, delicious and perfect for Valentine’s Day.



Ingredients:

For the cake:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp plus 1 tsp dark chocolate cocoa powder

2 cups flour plus more for sprinkling

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup dairy or plant milk with 1 tbs vinegar

1 beet, roasted and pureed

1 tbsp olive oil

5 tbsp water

nonstick spray

For the frosting:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 sticks butter

5 oz cream cheese


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a cake pan with nonstick spray and flour.
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  3. Peel and chop the beet.
  4. Toss with one tablespoon olive oil and roast on the prepared baking sheet for about 30 minutes, until the oil is bubbling and the beets have reduced in size.
  5. Add the roasted beets to a blender or food processor, along with five tablespoons of water, and blend until smooth.
  6. Set the puree aside to cool.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil and sugar and whisk until combined.
  8. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  9. Fold the beet puree into the wet ingredients.
  10. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa, whisking until incorporated.
  11. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  12. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.
  14. Once the cake is removed from the oven, invert the cake onto a plate to remove it from the pan.
  15. Allow the cake to cool while you prepare the frosting.
  16. In a large bowl, beat the butter and the cream cheese together until very smooth and soft.
  17. Add the powdered sugar a quarter cup at a time until all the sugar is added.
  18. Beat for thirty seconds until the frosting is smooth and incorporated.
  19. Frost the cake in any way you’d like and enjoy!

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


I’ve never shared a chocolate chip cookie recipe here, but that’s not because I don’t like cookies. I LOVE cookies. I’ve shared apple and cranberry spice biscotti, espresso dark chocolate chunk biscotti, cranberry stuffed olive oil cookies, cinnamon pinwheel cookies, Bon Appetit’s chocolate tahini linzer cookies and last but CERTAINLY not least, my sea salt olive oil brownie cookies, which will change your life if you let them. So clearly, I love me a good cookie. But the truth is, and I know this is scandalous, I generally don’t love chocolate chip cookies! I know! It’s crazy. I can’t believe me either! My favorite cookies are oatmeal raisin cookies, which I understand are not a fan favorite, but they are an Emy favorite and I love them.

However! I finally found/made a chocolate a chocolate chip cookie that I not only like, but LOVE.

The inclusion of browned butter is amazing, trust me. But the thing that puts these cookies over the edge is the tapping technique that I learned from The Vanilla Bean Blog. This technique gives these cookies their chewy center and crispy, wrinkly edges.

I guess my issue with chocolate chip cookies, up until now, has been that I’ve had either crispy or chewy cookies, never both! Thankfully, these cookies I’ve developed are both chewy AND crispy. The molasses in this recipe contributes to the chewy center of these cookies, while the tapping method and the size of the cookie bring those crispy edges.

I must warn you, these cookies are truly huge. Please be aware. But the size is really important to the texture of the cookies. I’m not really sure how crispy/chewy they’ll get at a smaller size but the taste is so good that its worth a try.

If you’re like me, and you have yet to find a chocolate chip cookie that you absolutely adore, without further delay, I present to you Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.



Ingredients:

For the dough:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup brown butter

6 tbsp white sugar

6 tbsp light brown sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp molasses

1 cup chopped dark chocolate

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

sea salt for sprinkling

For drizzle:

2 tbsp chopped dark chocolate

1 tsp olive oil

nonstick spray

flour for dusting


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with tin foil. Spray with nonstick spray and dust with flour
  2. Combine flour, kosher salt, and baking soda and whisk to combine.
  3. Whisk vigorously together butter, sugars, cinnamon and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the egg and whisk until combined.
  5. Add the flour in three additions and whisk until combined.
  6. Fold in the chopped chocolate.
  7. Scoop 1/3 cup cookies onto the lined baking sheets, baking about five cookies per sheet.
  8. Freeze the cookies on the sheet for about ten minutes.
  9. Bake the cookies at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about five minutes,
  10. Open the oven and hit the baking pan gently on the rack three times.
  11. Return the cookies to the rack and continue to bake for five minutes.
  12. Repeat step ten and return the cookies to the oven for another three to five minutes.
  13. Remove from oven and lift the tin foil sheet off of the baking sheet onto the counter or cooling rack and let cool.
  14. While the cookies cool, melt two tablespoons of dark chocolate and one teaspoon of olive oil in the microwave in thirty second bursts until smooth.
  15. Drizzle the chocolate mixture over the cooled cookies and enjoy!