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Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats with Golden Apple Raisin Compote

Living in the Bay area makes you a bit immune to what might be seasonal shifts around the rest of the country. October typically fans the warmth of summer with the mornings and evenings taking a dip into cooler temperatures. We jokingly tell friends and family who come visit to bring layers, knowing that inevitably, sweaters go on and jackets come off throughout the dance of the day. I gravitate toward bowls of creamy steel cut oats in the autumn months, topped with toasted nuts, fruit (either dried or chopped fresh), a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, and a splash of cold milk. This breakfast is the only one that can supplant my eggs and tortilla tradition most days and really helps me feel a shift in the season even if outside, it still resembles a long summer. I leapt at the chance to share Jane Bonacci and Sara De Leeuw’s instant pot steel cut oats from their Gluten-Free Instant Pot Cookbook because I figured that long cooking grains would be a great place to start and also because the apple compote aligned with all the apple bins at the farmer’s market. I also will admit the addition of Golden Delicious apples made my brow wrinkle in a good way–it’s not often you see that nostalgic apple variety from childhood called out in a recipe, and it really does, along with the Granny Smith apples, make this compote exceptional.

Instant pot steel cut oats may just be your new winter breakfast. This recipe makes enough for breakfasts all week.

A note here from Bonacci and De Leeuw— for this recipe, don’t think about substituting rolled or old-fashioned oats–you really want the sturdiness of steel cut to stand up to cooking at high pressure in the instant pot. Also, they call out the apples as tart and sweet, so use what you like, though they provide varietal suggestions too. You can certainly use whatever milk you prefer here too– I used Califia Farms almondmilk because aside from me making my own, its texture and mouthfeel is thickest and creamiest. Also, those golden raisins are initially called out as optional in the cookbook recipe, but I wasn’t so generous and and omitted the optional element. Their sweet and tart flavor really plays off the apples and I think the compote would be lacking without them, so think of this as an oatmeal cookie deconstructed into a bowl of oats. I bet dried cranberries might work well here too, and add a pop of color, but give sultanas a chance, even if you (like me) don’t really love cooked raisins. If you also happen to be vexed with instant pot cooking or wanting to give it a go, read my unbridled The Gluten-Free Instant Pot cookbook review. I ate this oatmeal for a week and didn’t tire of it. There’s a fresh pot of steel cut oats cooking away on my countertop in the instant pot as a break-ahead breakfast for a week leaning deeper into fall. 

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats will make you a fan of your instant pot for easily and quickly cooking whole grains.

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats with Golden Apple Raisin Compote

Course Breakfast

Ingredients

Golden Apple Raisin Compote

  • 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith
  • 1 sweet apple, such as Golden Delicious
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins or sultanas
  • 1/2 cup orange or apple juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Steel Cut Oats

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups almondmilk
  • 2 cupa steel-cut oats
  • Pinch kosher salt

Instructions

For the Compote

  1. Peel and core the apples, and cut into small chunks. Place in a saucepan. Add the raisins, orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon zest. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are fork-tender and the liquid is syrupy. Transfer the compote to a bowl and set aside.

For the Oatmeal

  1. Lightly butter the bottom and lower sides of the inner pot to help avoid sticking. Add the water, milk, oats, and salt, but do not stir. Close and lock the lid, making sure the steam release handle is in the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 9 minutes. When it is finished, release the pressure naturally, which will take about 15 minutes. Turn the steam release handle to venting, releasing any remaining steam. Unlock the lid and open it carefully.

  2. Scoop the oatmeal into bowls and top with a tablespoon or two of the apple compote. Serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from The Gluten-Free Instant Pot Cookbook by Jane Bonacci and Sara De Leeuw (published by Harvard Common Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group, 2018).

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Honeycrisp Apple Butternut Squash Soup

And, suddenly, autumn arrives. Yesterday was the first day of fall and it snuck past me without any sort of fanfare. Actually, each meal yesterday included tomatoes and I’ve been hoarding what Early Girl and heirlooms I can find with the rapt attention of a dragon guarding its gold. In school and on into the working years, if I needed to get into a particular state of mind quickly, the best way to do that included dressing the part or what you could call dressing for success, and what some of you might call faking it til you make it. I may still be holding onto light lingering into early evening and perhaps also certain summer states of mind (reading early, often). But, then again, I’ve also cranked up the oven to roast winter squash a handful of times. And, this soup is one such way to fake it till you feel fall-ish. It’s too soon for pumpkin, but bring out the bushels of apples aplenty.

What is it about honeycrisp apples that make them a contender for the ultimate apple? Their sweet and tart flesh that snaps when you take a juicy bite. You can find a host of other apples at farmer’s markets but this particular varietal seems to be the apple of everyone’s eye. Their flavor adds a bright slightly acidic note that balances the sweetness of the squash. Homemade soup to usher in autumn.

Make a pot of homemade Honeycrisp Apple Butternut Squash Soup to fall into an autumn frame of mind.

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Honeycrisp Apple Butternut Squash Soup


Course Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 cups ( 1-inch) chopped butternut squash, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped (about 4)
  • 2 cups white onion, chopped (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup celery stalks, chopped (about 2)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • Creme fraiche, optional
  • Extra olive oil, optional
  • Extra sage leaves, optional
  • 1 1/2 medium honeycrisp apples, peeled and chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

  2. Toss the butternut squash with the 2 teaspoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and sage and a dusting of Aleppo pepper. Roast the squash for 25 minutes or until fork tender.

  3. Drizzle and swirl the remaining olive oil in a heavy stockpot set over medium heat. Saute the onion, celery, and salt for 8 to 10 minutes or until translucent. Add the squash to the pot, tossing together. Pour in the chicken stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork tender.

  4. Pour a portion of the soup into the blender with apple slices, removing the cap, and covering the top with a towel. Puree the soup in batches.

  5. Garnish with a swirl of creme fraiche and perhaps a few fried sage leaves, if desired. (To fry them, line a plate with a paper towel. Heat a slick of olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Once shimmering, add the extra sage leaves, lightly frying them until they take on a little bit of color. Drain them on the paper towel before placing them atop of the soup as a garnish.

Roast the squash and you're halfway there to make a comforting pot of Honeycrisp Apple Butternut Squash Soup.

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Yogurt Jam Tart

I love a good hack and here it is: if you make a fresh batch of jam and a tart crust you are halfway to tempting a few friends and family with a dessert that feasts on the last glut of end of summer fruit in a yogurt jam tart, which is precisely how a batch of my Dapple Dandy hibiscus jam talked its way into an empty tart shell.

Yogurt Jam Tart

Here’s something maybe sneaky if you’re not prone to turning your yogurt tub to read the ingredients. Gelatin is sometimes added to firm up yogurt for a tight consistency you can cut with a knife. Taking a cue from some yogurt companies (who will not be named!)–I wanted to pair the sweetness of stone fruit jam with the tart expression of a good Greek yogurt that could set more like a custard and work as the filling in a tart. So, I used agar agar, a Japanese seaweed gelling agent that’s vegetarian and a gelatin substitute. One word here is that the liquid combined with the agar agar need to be brought to a boiling temperature and then simmer for 5 minutes to set up properly.

Yogurt Jam Tart is a great way to make an easy dessert of either homemade jam or use storebought and a yogurt custard.

One word here again on yogurts is that not all in the refrigerated aisle are created the same (and honestly it’s so easy to make your own with the help of my friend Cheryl’s trusty guide in all things yogurt that you might decide to go that route. And now that I’ve heard there is a yogurt feature on Instant Pots, I might be back in plain yogurt-making business. Plain yogurt brings pizazz to all kinds of meals..  The agar agar slurry is intended to thicken up runny yogurts like Straus Organic or Wallaby, as I wanted a more set consistency in this tart.

The yogurt layer is fairly easy to make for the yogurt jam tart. Use agar agar to gel the yogurt for a stiff set.

If you don’t have time to make the yogurt filling, proceed with spreading a decent filling of jam in the tart. Then, you can simply add a dollop Greek yogurt and perhaps fresh fruit on top. I tagged Claire Ptak’s pate sablee recipe from her cookbook, Violet Bakery primarily because I want to cook from it more and there’s no time like the present. I like the way she thinks about baking and still associate her with Berkeley even if she’s come more into the public eye for her London bakery. She makes the tart dough in a food processor and you can use any pate sablee recipe you have on-hand, intended for a 9-inch tart pan.

Fresh fruit tiled on top makes this yogurt jam tart a stunning dessert that's different each time.

Yogurt Jam Tart

Course Dessert

Ingredients

  • Pate Sablee for 9-inch tart pan

Dapple Dandy Hibiscus Jam

  • 1 batch Dapple Dandy Hibiscus Jam

Yogurt Filling

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon agar agar
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt

Fresh Fruit, optional

  • (such as tiger figs, blackberries, golden raspberries, red currants)

Instructions

Make the tart crust: Bake and cool.

  1. Fill the cooled tart crust with the hot jam (or if cool, warm the jam in a small skillet until easily spreadable. Set aside.

Make the yogurt filling:

  1. Whisk the milk and agar agar into a small saucepan set over high heat. Continue whisking and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to simmer for 5 minutes, whisking the whole time. Pour the hot yogurt into the tart, onto the jam carefully. Chill for 5 minutes.

  2. Remove the tart from the refrigerator and top with fresh fruit such as tiger figs, blackberries, and raspberries. Chill overnight before serving.

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Recipes

Dapple Dandy Hibiscus Jam

End of summer spread on toast tastes like Dapple Dandy Jam.

In one single question, we can self-select into unspoken groups. Would you order the chocolate dessert or fruit dessert? This over-simplifies things, sure, but it also underscores the idea that for some of us we’ve never been fruit-forward dessert eaters. Then, you have the folks who all they want for dessert is an actual piece of fruit. Or, the additions of clarifiers like paleo, gluten-free, low-carb, refined sugar-free, vegan. Some might see pitfalls in pulling together a dinner party now with all of the various eating styles, but I see opportunity.

Sweet and sour, dapple dandy jam gets spiced with cardamom and ginger for a warm bite.

We’re getting away from the point though, aren’t we? I never understood the allure of plums. The number one food poem (which could be contested) reads like an apology that actually tries to convince the reader that the theft couldn’t be circumvented. Stealing cold plums out of the icebox never struck me as the fodder of food poems, but I think I finally get it.

Dapple Dandy Hibiscus Jam is bright pink and great stirred into yogurt.

My obsession with Dapple Dandy plums (or pluots, I suppose, technically) started from a purely linguistic appreciation. Dapple evokes, in my mind at least, a grey mare with white freckles, or the kind of light and shadow-play of late afternoon sun, where tree limbs cast their impression on the ground in greys, blacks and whites. A dandy will always be the best dressed person in the room. And the combination of these two words (not to mention whatever inspired the creator of the name to conceive of the two of them together) prompted me to pluck a few Dapple Dandy pluots earlier this summer from a pile at the farmer’s market. One slice and I was smitten. Inside, their painterly flesh shimmers as if with an otherworldly light from the center out. Their color might be the envy of lipstick-makers. One taste of sweet-sour pucker, and sold.

Making dapple dandy jam might be the ultimate theft. You’re trying to steal time from the skin that’s a little too taut, one nudge tipping it toward juice. So, instead we cook down the fruit with warming spices of cardamom and piquant ginger- minced fresh for just the right bite. You’ve still got time for this jam this year. Your toast, yogurt bowl (chia pudding / chicken / pork / chocolate cake…)  will be the better for it.

Paired with yogurt or toast, dapple dandy jam adds just enough sweetness.

Dapple Dandy Hibiscus Jam

Course Dessert
Keyword Pluot Jam
Servings 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups diced Dapple Dandy pluots, pitted (about 1 pound)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Instructions

  1. Stir all ingredients with a wooden spoon together in a large skillet until combined set over medium heat.

  2. Stir occasionally. Cook for 15 minutes—during those last 5 minutes, stir constantly to monitor the setting of the jam. You should be able to swipe the spoon through the jam and leave a clear path for a few seconds (or dip the spoon in the jam and it should ever so slowly creep across the surface) as it thickens up.

  3. Cool to room temperature before spooning into a jar, sealing and chilling it.

Recipe Notes

Look for culinary grade hibiscus in a Latin market or good spice shop like Oaktown Spice Shop. If using whole flowers, kitchen shears are the easiest way to snip them to smithereens.

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Recipes

Sara Bir’s Italian Plum Cake

Do yourself a favor and go snatch up a pound of plums to make Sara Bir’s Italian plum cake before summer ends. Then, see if you can hold off on cutting into it until it’s set, but still warm. If you don’t have a favorite summer dessert yet, you’re about to taste it. Those are bold words, especially since I prefer chocolate always and fruit out of hand. But this cake! The olive oil and dash of balsamic vinegar really take it over the top. I bet it would be amazing with mission figs too.

Sara Bir's Italian Plum Cake

Once cooled, all you need is a dollop of Greek yogurt and dig in. I tucked  Dapple Dandy Pluots into this Italian plum cake, but Bir suggests you can swap in cherries, strawberries, nectarines, blackberries, or raspberries.

Sara Bir's Italian Plum Cake is fairly easy to mix together.

This recipe comes from her new cookbook, The Fruit Forager’s Companion. I made a few small tweaks to the recipe such as omitting the turbinado sugar (though I can imagine the delightful crunch it would give to the crumb of the cake) and instead of halving or quartering, I sliced the pluots wanting them to infuse a bit more juice into each bite.

When making Sara Bir's Italian Plum Cake, lay the sliced plums in a single layer on the batter in the pan.

Sara Bir's Italian Plum Cake

This recipe is from Sara Bir’s book The Fruit Forager’s Companion: Ferments, Desserts, Main Dishes, and More from Your Neighborhood and Beyond (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018) and is reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Course Dessert
Keyword Plum Cake

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (100 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I used kosher)
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pound (455 grams) plums, pitted and halved or quartered (I used Dapple Dandy pluots, thinly sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C), and position a rack in the center. Line the bottom of a 10-inch (25 cm) spring-form pan with baking parchment. Grease the sides and bottom well with baking spray or butter. Set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest,  and cinnamon. Set aside.

  3. With an electric mixer, beat the egg and the sugar on high speed until the mixture is creamy, pale yellow, and lighter in volume, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the olive oil, then the milk and balsamic vinegar. Fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula just until it makes a smooth batter.

  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. It will look really skimpy once it's in the pan, but don't worry. Arrange the plums in a single layer across the batter, and sprinkle the cake with the sugar.

  5. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on top, a little puffed, and set in the center (a toothpick should come out free of batter but may have a few crumbs clinging to it). Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove the sides and cool until just barely warm. You can serve it either that way, or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Vanilla ice cream, whipped creme fraiche, or good plain whole-milk yogurt are all very nice accompaniments to this.

Sara Bir Italian Plum Cake_credit anneliesz_-0363sm

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Rhubarb Rose Fools

Rose Rhubarb Fools are easy desserts to usher in spring.

We inherited a rose bush, fully mature and waving around her blooms like it’s the Macy’s Day parade everyday during season. It’s only a little bit unknown that I have a record with demerits for killing plants you can “neglect,” doing such a good job in my neglecting that they shrivel into a husk of their former selves. Not so with the rose bush. Call it adulting or call it dedicating oneself to the preservation of beauty in the world society, but I have doubled up efforts and that will soon include pruning and weeding. (Sidenote: who am I?)

Rhubarb season is just a blip but not so brief you can't make rose rhubarb fools.

Rhubarb usually takes me by surprise. It’s in the market, then a bevy of rhubarb shows up in my Instagram feed, all gossamer pink ribbons. Before you know it though, it’s gone. You’ve missed the season again. I vowed to not let that happen this year. Cue rhubarb rose fools. Rhubarb rose compote has just enough rosewater and citrusy pink peppercorn to make things interesting. That pairing–rhubarb, rose, and pink peppercorn are meant to be. And, I might be late to the rosewater party, but you’d be a fool not to fall for it.

Rose rhubarb fools are the kind of easy whip up at the last minute dessert every cook needs.

Also, whipping creme fraiche into lightly beaten whipped cream until soft peaks emerge is a bit of a revelation. You could swap in Greek yogurt instead of the creme fraiche, but if you do, taste and adjust the sweetness as it might be a bit too tangy. I wouldn’t advise using mascarpone or cream cheese, but if you do, consider adding a smidge of lemon juice to make it not quite so one note.

Rose Rhubarb Fools

Course Dessert
Servings 6

Ingredients

Rhubarb Rose Compote

  • 2 cups ¼inch chopped rhubarb (about 2 large stalks)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons rosewater
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pink peppercorn

Whipped Creme Fraiche

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup crème fraiche (1 7.5-ounce container)

Instructions

Make the Rhubarb Rose Compote

  1. Cook the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, rosewater, and peppercorn in a medium-sized heavy saucepan set over medium heat until the fruit softens and most of the liquid cooks out but the fruit is not sticking to the bottom of the saucepan, about 12 to 14 minutes, stirring frequently.

Make the Whipped Creme Fraiche

  1. Whip the cream for a minute, adding the sugar when it thickens up a bit. Beat until soft peaks form. Fold in the crème fraiche, briefly beating it in until smooth soft peaks form, lustrous, and thick.

Assemble the Rose Rhubarb Fools

  1. Spoon a 1/4 cup dollop of whipped crème fraiche into six tumbler glasses. Stir in a tablespoon of rhubarb compote into the cream with a chopstick, swirling it in slightly, but only enough so there’s a marbled ribbon of fruit lacing through the cream. Top each tumbler with another 1/4 cup dollop of cream, and top each tumbler with a teaspoon of the remaining compote. Chill for 10 minutes or eat.

Spring fever starts here: rose rhubarb fools!

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Romanesco Soup

Romanesco Soup pulls together rich flavors from parsnips, fennel, and celery root.

Romanesco might be the vegetable of an architect’s dreams. This broccoli cauliflower hybrid is full of M.C. Escher angles. I could eat soup every day. It can be easy and tough to master. So much of it comes down to semantics of seasoning. For this Romanesco Soup, I wanted to riff on the green color, adding a green tasting food like celery root, which when the hairy husk of an exterior is cut off reveals pale flesh that taste like the stalk. A little parsnip goes a long way but I love it in soup. Fennel offers a smidge of sweetness and a barely green bulb sliced into half moons. The spice here is enough curry powder to give it an edge but not enough to taint the silky green surface with turmeric’s golden glow. No, instead, that’s done by actual shaved disks of fresh turmeric as an optional garnish with shaved jalapeno for a hit of heat (and more green), and the fresh sudsy scent of cilantro. Fresh turmeric is a revelation–it’s a taste of sweet earth with only rooibos coming close to matching that flavor moniker. Don’t skip the butter unless you’re vegan (then, you can totally sub in vegetable stock and all olive oil). I love the luscious texture the butter gives to the soup and a hint of flavor without it becoming at all indulgent. But then again, I’m of the ilk that a soup made from scratch (that includes using boxed broth) with time, love, and intention is pure indulgence of the highest order that feeds the stomach and soul simultaneously.

 All sorts of green vegetables go into making Romanesco Soup, topped with a fresh shower of cilantro leaves and jalapeno.

Romanesco Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium white onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 celery root, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped (1 heaping cup)
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 romanesco, chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 knob fresh turmeric, peeled and shaved into coins
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, shaved

Instructions

  1. Saute the onion, celery root and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt for 10 minutes in oil over medium high heat, stirring often or until slightly browned and the onion is translucent.

  2. Melt the butter. Stir in the curry powder, parsnip, fennel, romanesco and remaining teaspoon of salt. Pour in the stock and water.

  3. Cover and lower the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Puree. Top with turmeric, cilantro, and jalapeno if using.

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Sunburst Yogurt

Have you ever tried Lemon Curd Yogurt? This is going to be your new favorite way to flavor plain yogurt for dessert.

Stowed away in my closet, in the farthest reaches of where the walls meet, a winter coat enclosed in a zippered bag waits. Nestled nearby, snow boots that are nearly good as forgotten, might as well yell that they still reside with me. It’s been almost a decade since I attended New England in the winter and summer for my poetry MFA, but I can almost hear the slight crunch of snow compacting underfoot. The break of seasons gives a natural rhythm to the year and even though winter sometimes can take its time finishing its lap, there is something whimsical about a world bathed in fresh snow and diffused light. Living in the golden state, we forget what winter can mean. For us, on good years, we can expect rain. And this year, days three and four involved climes of mid-seventies weather. So, I’m dedicating this recipe to my friends and family entrenched in a winter wonderland. Think of it as a love letter from California.

Do you have a buddha's hand? Zest it and mix it into lemon curd yogurt for a dreamy treat.

Winter sun for us means bright orbs of citrus that when sliced open reveal the jewel tones of gold, crimson, and copper. I have a slight obsession with one citrus in particular, a fruit so odd you might think it comical or creepy depending on how it comes to you. I dedicated a marmalade recipe to it in Steeped, sparked a hearty fascination with it candied and enrobed in chocolate, and sometimes just like to infuse it into a simple syrup with ginger. I’m teaching a cooking class on teatime around the world later this spring and while visiting the cooking school, kindly received two very unexpected gifts. You don’t expect an extra hand or two on a Monday! And so, I mused how I might best preserve their exquisite flavor and heady aroma. It doesn’t take much to get me considering curd and thus, I was reminded of my favorite way to eat yogurt in Seattle and crafted my own version. May your winter days grow shorter until spring shoots grace you with green. Until then, find bright moments of glee in a glass bowl of yogurt kissed by the sun, what I’m calling sunburst yogurt, but you can call Buddha’s Hand Lemon Curd Yogurt.

Buddha's Hand Lemon Curd Yogurt will brighten any winter day.

Buddha's Hand Lemon Curd Yogurt

Course Dessert
Servings 8

Ingredients

Buddha's Hand Lemon Curd

  • 4 large yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Buddha's Hand
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1 quart plain yogurt

Instructions

  1. Peel the Buddha's Hand. The zest is pure gold. Finely mince the peel. You should end up without 1 1/2 tablespoons of it, depending on the size of your Buddha's Hand.

  2. Set up a double boiler, placing a metal bowl or pot on top of a saucepan, set over medium heat and filled with an inch or two of water. The bowl should not touch the water. Whisk the sugar and yolks in the bowl until combined. Pour the lemon juice into the bowl and add the Buddha’s hand zest, whisking until the mixture thickens up and gets glossy, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Pour into a container and bring to room temperature before chilling.

  3. Make the sunburst yogurt: Scoop or pour 1/2 cup of yogurt into a bowl. Spoon a tablespoon of warm citrus curd into the center of the yogurt. Using the skinnier end of a chopstick, drag the tip from the center of the curd circle, curving to the left. Continue drag-curving from the middle of the curd until you’ve made sun rays shooting out from around the curd. Then, taste a bit of sunshine.

Recipe Notes

PS- You can use whatever yogurt you'd like. I'm amenable to Greek yogurt with its thick pucker that transports me to Seattle. Or, I also like the looser cow's milk yogurt made by Straus Organic Yogurt. But, I'm a devoted fan of the lovely goat's milk yogurt from Redwood Hill Farms

PPS- Don't have Buddha's Hand on hand? (I had to do it). Feel free to add lemon zest for a basic curd or mix it up and add the zest from bergamot (if you can find some!), blood orange, cara cara, tangerines, or even clementines. I'm an equal opportunity citrus curd lover. I've also been known to make Feijoa (Pineapple Guava) Curd when it's in season.

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Recipes

Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

Winter vegetables can seem bleak without the variety of the summer harvest. It’s why of all the recipes I cooked from Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massamilla’s food poetry cookbook, Cooking with the Muse, I asked if I could share her Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta. This vegetarian side dish packs in bold flavors and served with baked tofu or salmon, is my kind of healthy meal. What makes their way of approaching recipes extra special is how Massimilla provides a poet’s note and in this case, a snippet from an Auden poem to accompany Kornfeld’s recipe creation. Food poetry synchronicity at its finest!

Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

A poet’s hope: to be,

like some valley cheese,

local, but prized elsewhere.

—W.H. Auden, from “Shorts II”
 

Mediterranean Cauliflower Kale Roast with Feta

Recipe and poet’s note republished with permission from Cooking with the Muse by Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massimilla (Tupelo Press, 2016).

Roasting gently browns the cauliflower florets and crisps the kale leaves, coaxing deep flavor out of the vegetables. Following this recipe will render them toasty and juicy at once. The combination of garlicky olives, capers, lemon, and oregano lends a slightly citrusy, almost buttery quality to the dish. A sprinkling of a good feta cheese from a pasture-raised sheep or goat adds one more element of delight and surprise. The literary history of pastured sheep’s and goat’s milk feta dates back to the Odyssey, a foundational epic poem of Western literature (see the Poet’s Note.)

Serves 4 to 6
 
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt
3/4 pound curly kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed and chopped
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces feta cheese (preferably sheep’s milk feta), crumbled (1/2 cup)
 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Have ready a parchment paper–covered baking sheet.
  2. In one bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  3. In another bowl, toss the kale with 1 tablespoon oil. Massage the oil into the leaves so that each leaf is lightly coated. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt.
  4. After the cauliflower has roasted for 30 minutes, add the kale to the baking sheet, return it to the oven, and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is browned and the kale is crispy. Remove from the oven.
  5. Warm the remaining tablespoon of oil with the butter in a large skillet until the butter melts. Add the garlic, olives, and capers and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant. Stir in the cauliflower and kale, the water, and the oregano; combine thoroughly. Stir in the lemon juice and a sprinkling of pepper.
  6. Serve hot, with feta scattered on top.

 

Poet’s Note

This literary history of feta dates back to the 8th century BCE, though the emphasis in the epics that have come down to us was on hecatombs—sacrificial roasts of large animals on spits—the mainstay of a masculine warrior’s diet that was likely even then reserved for the upper classes. Feta, that tangy, salty, crumbly, quintessentially Greek cheese—which was originally aged and brined to keep well in a hot, arid climate—is described. Indeed, the equipment used to make sheep’s milk cheese in the Cyclops Polyphemus’s cave in Book IX of Homer’s Odyssey is much like that used by Greek shepherds to make feta today. Odysseus made the imprudent decision to raid the larder of a gigantic man-eating monster (who was fortunately myopic enough for Odysseus later to blind and outwit by escaping on the underbelly of a sheep, though some of his men didn’t fare so well):

 

We entered the cave and took stock of everything inside.

His baskets were loaded with cheeses, and his pens spilling

over with lambs and kids, divided into separate groups…

And all his vessels, milk pails, and pans into which he milked,

were brimming with whey. Seeing all this, my men begged me

to let them steal the cheeses, and make off with them to the ship…

but I wouldn’t listen to them; I wanted to meet

the owner first, in the hope that he’d give me a guest present.

 

Later, as they observe the giant, he goes on to prepare the whey cheese:

 

He drew off half of the milk to curdle it, and set it

aside in strainers made of wicker, stored for cheeses,

but let the other half stand in the milk pails…

 

Before disembarking on the island of the Cyclops, Odysseus and his men had surveyed the land with thoughts of colonizing it. They’d noticed that the carnivorous giants had no social customs and that their sheep were allowed to cavort everywhere without any pens to hold them. Though he and his crew were not in serious need of provisions and Odysseus was certainly foolish to tarry in the cave in hopes of receiving an extra “guest present” from an uncivilized monster, it is perhaps no surprise that Odysseus risked his life and those of his men to raid this cave for cheeses, lambs, and kids in the first place. Even by Archaic Greek standards, these livestock were seriously free range.

Greek cuisine in the 4th-century classical age was more sparing. The Greek poet Archestratus lived in Sicily, which was regarded by tradition to be the original island of the Cyclops. Archestratus, who lived there after it had really become a Greek colony, was perhaps the first Western cookbook writer whom we know of, though the fragments we have are from a parodic poem that advises the gastronomic reader on where to find the best food. His recipes rightly emphasize the fresh local quality of the ingredients.

 

Categories
Recipes

Pumpkin Pie Latte Shakes

I’m on a mission of Thanksgiving leftovers reconsidered. Do you have leftover pumpkin pie? Before you even think about sneaking a piece onto your plate the day after, HOLD ON and consider the following: Pumpkin Pie Latte Shakes. In possibly the most meta-experiment of a pie-inspired drink coming back to the original concept and actually including pie in the drink without any of the funny food coloring or extras, there’s nothing basic about this dessert.

Pumpkin Pie Latte Shakes

Not all coffee ice cream is created the same. For the recipe below, I used Haagen Dazs Coffee Ice Cream but you could also use Three Twins Milk Coffee too. Also, the spice level in each pumpkin pie filling differs, so if you tend to have a highly spiced filling in your pie, skip the garnishing of spices below. Otherwise, that extra dash of spice amplifies the oomph in the flavors.

Makes 4 servings

1 cup whole milk
1 pint coffee ice cream
1 hearty slice pumpkin pie, coarsely chopped
Ground ginger
Ground cinnamon
Ground nutmeg

Place the milk and ice cream into a blender keeping the pie within fingers’ reach. Start on low and just as the milk and ice cream start coming together, lob chunks through the chute into the shake. Blend until just combined if you want any crunchy bits or until smooth if you’d prefer a creamy consistency. Pour into four rocks glasses. Sprinkle the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg on top.

Categories
Cookery Bookshelf Recipes

Pumpkin Pie

If someone asked you the question, Are you a cook or a baker, the answer comes quickly for most. I am and always will be a cook first—I like the tactile process of tweaking along the way, tasting until a dish is just right. For a long time I didn’t think there was a baker inside of me. Two things changed that: my sourdough starter, Salvatore, and Kate McDermott. Kate and I met in New Orleans at IFBC years ago. After that food conference, I sought out her blog and discovered a post she wrote about her neighbor Sadie, a story that started me on the road to finding my inner baker. She wrote, “In her gentle way, she taught me that baking from the heart always tastes best, even if it doesn’t turn out quite like the picture in the magazine.” The post and quote made me rethink everything I had ever presumed about baking and question when Kate would write a book about her unfussy perspective on pies and baking.

And, what a book it is. Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott features photography from New York Times food photographer Andrew Scrivani. Each photo is a work of art, shot by my photography mentor numero uno, Andrew. It’s fitting really that they bring this book to pass—I loved seeing him and Kate collaborate on her first cookbook knowing that they’ve collaborated at food photography and baking events and share a deep friendship that I think comes across in the styling of the images. Rumor had it there was even a music jam in between shooting this cookbook.

I’ve been waiting over a year to share this book with you. Art of the Pie, the book, is the only pie book you will ever need. I know that sounds like a grand statement and you might think I am biased, but I’m not. Kate and I are friends, but I’m going to support my bold statement with examples.

Kate writes like a cooking teacher, bringing her decade plus experience of pie teaching (from Pie Camp!) into well-written recipe instructions that are specific, informative, with a touch of personality, as if she is with you when you are baking. Art of the Pie includes helpful sidebar conversations for the pie baker such as “lemon vs. vinegar” (p. 153) and a method for rendering your own leaf lard (p. 334). She calls herself a “pie-chiatrist” with rule number one on her tips for baking and life is to “Keep Everything Chilled, Especially Yourself.” That kind of no-nonsense attitude courses throughout the book. Baking pie is a small act of kindness: Kate invites you to do a Pie-By (p. 229) and offers tips for hosting a Pie Potluck (p.227).

But let’s start at the beginning. Have you ever made your own pie dough? Do you find it perplexing? Does your pie dough shrink or is it brittle rather than delicate under the fork? If you’ve never made pie crust from scratch before, it’s time and you’re in good hands with Art of the Pie. The section describing how to roll out pie dough is affectionately entitled, “Techniques and Tricks that Let the Good Pies Roll,” where she encourages the reader to “Look forward to rolling rather than fearing it.” (p. 43) She breaks the science behind how to nail a flaky dough every time with process photos along the way showing how the dough looks from start to finish. You will find not one but 10 pie crust recipes in the book—that’s not counting the graham cracker-style crusts, and of those 10, a handful are gluten-free (like Kate), and one is vegan and gluten-free.

Assembled less by season and more by pie style, an entire chapter is devoted to Apple Pie with an extensive list of varietals and their flavor profiles as well as a notation for when they are in season. Next spring, I’m going to snag rhubarb during its short window to bake a Rhuberry Bluebarb Pie (p 255). This winter, I’m making a plan for Cranberry Pie (p. 236). As soon as the lemons on my tree ripen to yellow, I’m eyeing the Shaker Lemon Pie (p.264). Next year will be the year for Nectarine Pie (p.228) and there’s a fairly strong possibility that Grasshopper Pie (p. 275) will sub in as birthday cake this year. The Cottage Pie from the savory chapter gets is requested when it’s cold out—I turn it into a Shepherd Pie (ground lamb instead of beef) and we love her brilliant addition of cheddar mixed into the mashed potatoes topping the meat.

But I know why you’re here. Last year, I hosted my first Thanksgiving feast, baking Art of the Pie Pecan Pie (p. 294) and Pumpkin Pie (p. 296). Before that day I was a charter member of team Pecan Pie. The only way I liked Pumpkin Pie was in my Curry Pumpkin Hand Pies. So, I’d never eaten traditional-style Pumpkin Pie quite like Kate’s before. There was a supple luscious quality to the custard that usually is so sturdy. The secret ingredient, in my opinion is the light coconut milk. It skips the rich dense filling heavy cream brings on with just enough eggs to hold it together. This pie is a marvel and the light coconut milk doesn’t make the pie taste coconutty. But don’t take my word on it. There’s still time to make this the Pumpkin Pie at  Thanksgiving. Or, plan a Pie-By, as Kate might nudge, a twinkle in her eye, leaving a warm pie stealthily on the porch of an unsuspecting friend for whom you are grateful.

art of the pie pumpkin pie - anneliesz

Art of the Pie Pumpkin Pie

The single-crust pie dough recipe called out below is in Art of the Pie but you could always use store-bought shells if you’re in a pinch for Thanksgiving. Rather than topping it with freshly whipped cream, I like this with a scoop of Greek yogurt. If you have someone attending who is gluten-free head over to her gluten-free pie crust.

(Reprinted with permission: Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott, published by The Countryman Press, 2016.)

Makes One 9-Inch Shallow Pie
 

1 recipe single-crust pie dough

3 eggs, lightly beaten

One 15-ounce can (about 2 cups or 245 grams) pumpkin

1 cup canned light coconut milk or evaporated milk

¾ cup (150 grams) sugar (equal parts white and packed brown sugar)

½ teaspoon (3 grams) salt

1 teaspoon (2 grams) cinnamon

1 teaspoon (2 grams) ginger

¼ teaspoon (.25 gram) freshly ground nutmeg

A tiny pinch of clove

 
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Roll out a pie shell and place it in a pie pan. Trim excess dough from the edges and crimp. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until they are light-colored and fluffy. Stir in the pumpkin, coconut milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Pour the filling into the pan. Place the pie in the oven and turn down immediately to 375°F. Bake for approximately 50 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and set on a rack to cool completely.

Categories
Recipes

Lemon Green Bean Almondine

Jazz up green beans with this easy technique of bringing lemony flavor to Lemon Green Bean Almondine - anneliesz

Truth or dare? I always go with dare, but will start here with a truth. At Thanksgiving, my two favorite dishes growing up starts with my Tita’s dressing (I’m not alone there as my Tia doubles the batch so she can freeze half, defrost, and reheat whenever she has a hankering for her mother’s cooking). The other dish at its core is more cream of mushroom soup concentrate and crunchy onions from a tin than green beans. One hopes that time outgrows habit and on that point, I still love my Tita’s dressing and a good Green Bean Casserole, though now I prefer homemade mushroom cream and fried shallots.

This dish is not that dish and yet I dare you to swap out the heavy, creamy traditional side dish for this one. It’s quick and the best part is the cooking time is about 2 minutes. Warm the lemon butter sauce in the microwave for 1 minute and as long as you’ve toasted the almonds ahead of time, you’ve got a new-to-the-Thanksgiving table side dish that takes less than 5 minutes but that also makes any evening meal a side dish cinch. You’re welcome.

Lemon Green Bean Almondine - anneliesz

Lemon Green Bean Almondine

Who doesn’t love recipes you prep in advance? Toast the almond slices the night before the big feast. Even blanch the green beans. Then on game day, reheat, toss, and serve. Easy

Makes 4 servings

1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons toasted almond slices

Blanch the green beans. Heat the butter, lemon juice, and salt for 1 minute until the butter is melted. Top with the almonds.