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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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.

Lilikoi Ricotta Cheesecake

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Cheesecake hasn’t historically been my thing. When I look at a dessert menu, I glance over the cheesecake, think hmm, that looks kinda tasty…then I see CHOCOLATE flourless cake! or creme brulee, or whatever, and forget about cheesecake. But, I’ve just been moving in the direction of souffles and panna cotta, cheesecakes and custards; fresh, light, and airy desserts with subtle flavor and a bit of delicacy. These desserts are so good and so easy to make at home and they are beautiful.

I gathered pounds and pound of lilikoi, or passion fruit, from my friend’s place in Berkeley recently and have had so much fun with all the different uses. I’ve topped ice cream and yogurt, made passion fruit curd for tarts, made preserves, and eaten them fresh and whole. For this recipe I mixed the remaining preserves with the last bit of fresh lilikoi and spread it on the cheesecake when it was at room temperature. This dessert could be an easy addition to a holiday feast, and you can top it with powdered sugar, or candied orange, or a glaze, or whatever you have on hand. Also, this is a smaller portion that most cheesecakes recipes and is very easy to double.

Lilikoi Ricotta Cheesecake 
Inspired by Martha Stewart & Others
Prep: 15 minutes Cook 45 minutes  Serves: 5-8

Butter for pan greasing
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4  pound smooth whole milk ricotta cheese
3 farm fresh eggs, separated
1/8 cup white whole wheat flour
Zest from 1 lemon
1/8 tsp salt
4 tbsp fresh lilikoi/passion fruit

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and generously butter a 9 inch pan, 1 1/2 inches deep.
2. Whisk together 3 tablespoons of sugar, the ricotta, egg yolks, flour and zest in a small bowl.
3. Beat the egg whites on low until frothy, and then beat on high while you gradually add the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks-about 3 or so minutes.
4. Fold half of the egg white mixture into the ricotta mixture, then fold in the rest using a rubber spatula until just combined.
5. Pour the mix into the pan, and bake until golden-about 40-45 minutes.
6. Allow the cheesecake to cool for about 10 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife and place on your serving dish. Cool the cheesecake to room temperature, and spread the lilikoi on the top just before serving. 

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Smashed Beets with Crispy Sunchokes, Arugula, Lemon Vinaigrette, Fresh Mint + Thyme

This is the time of year to experiment with alternative holiday dishes. I love the Thanksgiving spread of biscuits, stuffing, roasted vegetables, turkey, etc., but I always end up wishing I’d replaced a few of the traditional dishes with lighter, fresher, more interesting options. This dish was inspired by my recent fascination with smashing potatoes. I just like dishes better when you get mixed up in the creamy, crispy, salty, sweet, lemony bits and such. I made this dish, had a tiny sample plate, and walked away for just a moment. When I came back upstairs it was gone; devoured wholly by my boyfriend who left not even a trace of crispy goodness in the skillet.

I used baby chiogga and red beets, but if you’re making this dish for more than two people, use either more baby beets, or bigger beets, or whatever you can find. This is, so far in my life anyway, my favorite version of beets. They are crispy, while maintaining a creamy inside, and the lemon and arugula add such a freshness and lightness to the dish.

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Smashed Beets with Crispy Sunchokes, Arugula, Lemon Vinaigrette, Fresh Mint + Thyme

Inspired by Bon Appetit

Prep: 15 min    Cook: 1 1/2 hours     Serves: 2

12 baby beets-8 chiogga, 4 red
8 small sunchokes, sliced thin
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
Olive oil: for drizzling, baking & vinaigrette
Fresh mint & thyme
1 handful arugula
Sea salt & pepper
Maldon-flaky sea salt

1. Heat the oven to 400°F . Place the beets on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and a grind of sea salt. Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until they are slightly browned. Adjust roasting time depending on the beet size.
2. After the beets roast for about 20 minutes, add the sunchokes to the baking sheet, roast with the beets until everything is somewhat golden, but not too browned.
3. In the meantime, mix the vinaigrette: lemon zest, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium bowl.
4. Remove the beets and sunchokes from the oven. Allow the beets to cool slightly, and then gently rub off the skin. It helps to use a paper towel. After removing the skin, crush the beets with the bottom of a small bowl.
5. Heat a skillet over medium-high and add a tablespoon or so of oil. Place the sunchokes and beets in the skillet. Brown the beets and sunchokes on one side for about 4 minutes, then flip and brown the other side. Put the crisped sunchokes and beets in the bowl with the vinaigrette, add a small handful of fresh mint and thyme and toss to coat.
6. Place the arugula in the still hot skillet and stir until it just begins to wilt. Add the sunchoke-beet mix back to the hot skillet, add a grind of Maldon and pepper and serve immediately.