Lavender, mint, beet powder cupcakes with kefir frosting

 

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I recently read that cupcakes are still in, and I thought it was a crazy thing to read because cake in any form should always just be, cake is beyond “in”, cake is it’s own world, it’s own entity and to say any form of cake, whether in pound, round, square, small, cup, or otherwise is in or out is to degrade the thing that is cake. So, I’m posting this recipe, but not in response to the thing I read, because I don’t want to acknowledge cake speculation and trending, but just because these cupcakes are important to me. They are important to me because they are pretty and easy and absurdly delicious in all the right ways.

These cupcakes are quick and a totally successful first use of my beet powder. The lavender and mint combination is perfection I think, I mean just being able to smell mint and lavender before biting into a cupcake makes everything feel more okay. I first made them without mint and without beetroot, but the incorporation of these two ingredients made them both incomparably tastier and prettier. Oh, and the kefir! It just so slightly offsets the sweetness, and adds dimension and complexity, the way kefir should.

Cupcakes:

1/2 cup coconut oil melted
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp plain whole milk kefir
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup coconut flour

Oven 350
1. Whisk coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, kefir, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl
2. Mix coconut flour and baking powder, then whisk into the egg-sugar mix
3. Line a cupcake tray, and bake for around 15 minutes.
4. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:
1-2 tsp lavender buds
3-4 tbsp kefir
1 Tbsp beet powder
1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (add more/less as needed)
Mint leaves

1. Whisk together the lavender buds and kefir; place in the fridge while the cupcakes cool.
2. Add the beet powder and powdered sugar. Adjust the consistency by adding more powdered sugar or more kefir.
3. Frost the cooled cupcakes, garnish with mint.

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Salted Chocolate Espresso Cookies

20150314_095044-001These cookies are super thin and crispy and have a nice little kick from the espresso. We had a few in the early afternoon and they are a much more mild option than a cup of coffee for a little extra boost. They are mostly chocolatey, buttery and a little salty, and store well in the freezer. Serve with vanilla ice cream or make ice cream sandwiches with them for a special dessert.

Salted Chocolate Espresso Cookies

8 oz. semisweet chocolate
6 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons espresso
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Flaky salt, like Maldon

Oven 350
1. Melt the chocolate, butter and espresso over a double broiler.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
3. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla.
4. Add the chocolate espresso mix into the egg mixture and combine thoroughly, then add the flour mix until just combined.
5. Refrigerate the mix for a few hours or overnight.
6. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and scoop spoonfuls of the cookie mix onto the paper, bake for about 10 minutes, or until flattened. Sprinkle with Maldon and allow to cool. Use a spatula to get the cookies off the parchment paper. Serve warm, or store in the freezer.
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Broccolini with Roasted Kumquats, Parsley, Pecorino, and Balsamic

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This is an easy, quick dish with beautiful colors that is perfect for lunch, or as a dinner side dish. The kumquats get sweet and slightly caramelized and pair well with the salty, crispy broccolini and bread. The balsamic is important. The thick, syrupy balsamic makes such a big difference and I use it from everything from salads to ice creams.

Broccolini with Roasted Kumquats, Parsley, Pecorino, and Balsamic  

Prep: 5 min      Cook: 30 min        Serves: 2

1 bunch broccolini
4 kumquats, sliced thin
Palmful curly parsley, chopped
Pecorino cheese, grated
Butter & olive oil
Salt & pepper
Balsamic (thick and syrupy is best)
Crusty bread

1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and a drizzle of olive oil, then add the broccolini. Season with some salt and pepper, cover and cook for about 6 minutes or so, until slightly browned and crisped.
2. Add the kumquats and place the crusty bread in the skillet to brown on each side.
3. Cook until bread, kumquats and broccolini are nicely crisped, finish seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic and the curly parsley.
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Sweet Potato Pancakes with Rosemary, Sausage, Kale and Pomegranates

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These pancakes are inspired by my brother who makes incredible sweet potato pancakes, and my mom, who taught me to roast a bunch of sweet potatoes at a time and use them throughout the week. The rosemary, sausage, kale, pomegranates and maple syrup add the Ohmigod this is good! factor and make these a perfect seasonal treat. The pancakes are pretty fluffy and thick, which you can change by adding more liquid, but I like to make little cakes and then keep them warm in the oven until we’re ready to eat. We ate these pancakes and then went out and chopped down our Christmas tree which seemed just about perfect after such a nice breakfast.

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Rosemary, Sausage, Kale and Pomegranates

Prep: 15 min      Cook: 30 min        Serves: 2-4

Pancakes
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil-melted, plus extra for cooking the pancakes
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1-2 cooked + mashed sweet potatoes

1. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, coconut oil, sweet potatoes and eggs.
3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until just incorporated. The batter will be thick, if you want thinner pancakes, add another few tablespoons of milk.
4. Add 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil to a skillet and heat over medium. Spoon small circles of batter into the pan and watch for bubbles to appear on top before flipping. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Rosemary, Sausage + Kale
1 small branch fresh rosemary
1/2 lb loose sausage-I used pastured pork “Grandpa’s Sausage” from a local farm
5 kale leaves, stems removed + chopped
1 tsp olive oil
Lemon juice
Sea salt

1. Make the toppings before cooking the pancakes, and keep them in a warm oven.
2. Place the olive oil in a small skillet, heat to medium, then add the chopped kale. Season the kale with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt.
3. Cook the kale until wilted, about 4 minutes, then add the rosemary and sausage. Cook the mix in the skillet until the sausage is slightly browned, you may need to turn up the heat slightly. Place the skillet in the oven to keep warm while you cook the pancakes.

Serve the pancakes with the rosemary, sausage, kale mix, fresh pomegranates, and maple syrup.

 

Diana Henry’s Radicchio and Onion on White Bean Puree

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A few months ago my boyfriend got me Diana Henry’s cookbook, a change of appetite. I’ve spent hours flipping through the book, studying the recipes, textures and ideas and admiring the food photography, elegant simplicity and beautiful ceramic dishes on each page. You have some choices in this recipe, whether or not to soak and cook your own beans or buy them canned; what to serve with the dish, crusty bread, or tortillas, or crudités. The end result is a colorful, delicious and soul-satisfying pretty meal, perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. There are so many other wonderful dishes I’ve made from this cookbook and it has found a happy home on my kitchen shelf.
Her version is a great serving size for a crowd, but I made this for two, so my portions are a bit smaller. Also, I soaked and pureed a nice quantity of cannellini beans and ended up freezing about half for a later use.

Radicchio and Onion on White Bean Puree
(Adapted from Diana Henry’s a change in appetite)

Bean Puree:
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 (15 oz.) cans or about 4 cups cooked cannellini beans
2/3 cup chicken stock
sea salt + pepper
Juice from 1 lemon

The Rest:
1 head radicchio
½ large white or red onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup basalmic vinegar

1. For the bean puree, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and cook the onion over medium heat until it is translucent, not browned, about 8 minutes or so. Add the garlic, cook another minute, and then add the beans, chicken stock, and a bit of sea salt + pepper.
2. Add the olive oil and half of the lemon juice to the beans, and process in a food processor or blender until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Adjust the amount of lemon to your preference, I like a lot of lemon juice, so I use a whole lemon.
3. At this point, I froze about half of my bean puree. If you’re feeding a crowd, double the amount of radicchio and onion.
4. I made the beans ahead of time, and reheated them in skillet in a 400°F oven. While the beans heat, or stay hot, start the rest. Halve the radicchio, and cut each half into quarters. Trim some of the white heart from each piece, trying not to let the sections fall apart. Slice the onion so that you make nice big rings.
5. Mix the olive oil and basalmic, and put the radicchio and onions in it, allowing it to marinate for about 10 minutes.
6. Heat a skillet over high and cook the onions until they are charred and browned on each side. Cover, turn down the heat, and cook until they are softened. After a few minutes, turn the heat back up and add the radicchio. Let it brown and char on each side.
7. Remove the beans from the oven, keep them in a skillet or place in a serving bowl. Put the onion and radicchio on top of the bean puree. Season with a good flaky sea salt—I used this nice hibiscus sea salt that is purply pink and beautiful—and drizzle with bit more olive oil. I served this dish with homemade corn tortillas and sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, but it would also be lovely with some crusty bread.

 

 

Butter Chicken with Chicken Skin Fried Rice

IMG_3437 IMG_3461IMG_3470Chicken skin is supposed to be crispy. It’s not a food I can bring myself to cook via boiling. Instead, I fried it in my skillet and cooked the rice in the extra fat and the result was damn good. The chicken meat itself in this recipe is so tender and flavorful. It cooks perfectly at a low simmer in the creamy spiced tomato sauce. The fried rice is simple, but it added flavor and complexity with the crisped shredded skin and crunchy sweet peppers. Combining the butter chicken and fried rice brings everything together; so you have a bite of tender chicken, paired with crisped skin and fresh cilantro. Each bite tastes better than the last and this is an easy dish to throw together for dinner.

Butter Chicken with Chicken Skin Fried Rice
Prep: 10 minutes  Cook: 30 minutes  Serves: 4

3 organic, free range, pastured, etc. chicken breasts, skin on
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala

Sauce:
olive oil & butter
1 large white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon clove
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
3/4 cup fresh heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp butter

Fried Rice:
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1/2 red pepper, diced
3 chicken skins
Butter
Salt & pepper
Cilantro

1. Mix the chicken with the lemon juice, garlic, salt and garam masala. Marinate for a few hours or overnight.
2. Drizzle a tablespoon of oil into a dutch oven over medium heat and add the onions. Saute until translucent, about 20 minutes, but do not burn or crisp. During this time, peel the skin off the chicken and reserve in marinade for later. Cut the chicken into about 2 inch pieces, but do not remove the bones.
3. Add the garlic to the onions and saute about 2 minutes, then add the garam masala, paprika, cinnamon, clove and cayenne. Stir well, and cook another 2 minutes.
4. Pour in the tomatoes, cook for a few minutes, then add the cream. Bring to a simmer, and then add the chicken. Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes over a low simmer. If you cook the chicken too hot, it won’t come out as tender. When the chicken is cooked, add the lemon juice and butter. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
5. While the chicken cooks, make the fried rice. First, add 1 tbsp of butter to a hot skillet. Place the reserved chicken skins in the pan and fry until browned on each side. Remove the skins from the pan. Turn down the heat and add the peppers to the skillet. After a few minutes, add the rice to the skillet/ Cook the rice until slightly browned, about 5-10 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed. Tear the skin into small pieces and add them back to the rice, stirring to combine. Add a handful of cilantro and stir it into the rice. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Serve the butter chicken with the fried rice and big handfuls of cilantro.