Flourless Dark Chocolate Brownies

These are a spin on those fabulous Flourless Almond Butter Cookies I posted a while back. And if those delicious cookies were your joint, then these gooey bittersweet dark chocolate flourless dairy free brownies will be too! Maybe even better - if I do say so myself. I still can’t believe the batter is made from nut butter. Truly Amazing. 

And if chocolate ain’t your vibe (I shutter at the thought) well then you can make these as blondies - which means sans cacao powder and chopped chocolate. Instead add some dried fruit - dried cherries perhaps or chop up some crystalized ginger or a combination of both. Most importantly just make these. Like NOW!

Flourless Dark Chocolate Brownies

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted nut butter (I used almond butter)
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate (70% or higher), roughly chopped


Preheat oven to 325°

Best way to mix everything really well is in a food processor but if you don’t have one use a whisk and get ready for a good workout cause the mixture gets thick and sticky. 

SO - if using a food processor put all the ingredients in and blend for a good minute until everything is smooth and combine. 

If using your muscles - in a bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla, coconut sugar, maple syrup, cacao powder, baking soda and salt for a good bit until everything is smooth. Then, using a good spatula mix in the almond butter, stirring thoroughly to combine - about a minute. The dough will be very thick. Add about half of the chopped chocolate, using your hands if necessary to incorporate.

Press the dough into a parchment-lined 8×8″ brownie pan. Sprinkle the remaining chopped chocolate over the top and press each piece slightly into the dough. Cook in the middle rack of the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes until the brownies are puffy and slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes then carefully lift the parchment paper and transfer brownies to cool completely on a rack before devouring, about 20 minutes. Cut into squares and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.


Butternut Squash Cornbread

I've made my fair share of cornbread. Delicious cornbread no less but none NONE have compared to this gem. The addition of the roasted butternut squash puree, goat kefir and olive oil keeps it moist and a bit of honey keeps it just a touch sweet. But what makes this one even better is that it's also still fabulously moist a few days later too which never seems to happen with the other cornbread I’ve made as it tends to dry out the next day. But not this one! Oh no not this. 

We had a picnic on the farm and ate some - then some more along side a red lentil soup then scrambled eggs and then grabbed the last few slices for breakfast. My point:  any way you want to eat it - eat it. Just promise me you’ll make it. It’s that good. 

Butternut Squash Cornbread

  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash purée (see below)
  • 1 cup plain goat kefir or buttermilk
  • 4 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBS runny honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 - 1⁄2 cups stone ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1⁄2 cup spelt or any all-purpose flour
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking soda
  • 3⁄4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 TB unsalted butter 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and place inside a 9-inch cast iron skillet or a 2-quart baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purée, kefir or buttermilk, olive oil, honey and eggs.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together. Do not overwork. 

Carefully remove the HOT skillet or baking dish from the oven, and add the butter. When it has melted completely, swirl around the melted butter to cover the pan evenly then quickly pour the thick batter into the hot pan, and return it to the oven. Middle rack. Bake for about 30 or until golden brown on top and a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before serving. 

To make the butternut squash purée: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a halved butternut squash - skin side down - on the baking sheet. Rub the pieces with about a 1 TB of olive oil - skin and flesh. Place on the middle rack in the oven and roast for about 45 minute to an hour or until tender. When cool, remove the skin and discard then puree the flesh in a blender or food processor until smooth. 

 

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

Morning time is my favorite time to bake. I usually wake up with a recipe in my head and once I walk into the kitchen I seem to dive right in - gathering the ingredients in hopes I can get something into the oven before my little girl wakes up.  I used to make a porridge every morning too for my son cause he would be ravenous as soon as he woke up. My son. My sweet little 3 year old boy who used to happily and blindly eat anything I made for him. But not anymore. Oh no, not no more. Sigh.

That willingness for him to eat everything I presented began to taper off over these past few months (maybe even past year) but what ever, I was still able to entice him to devour a huge bowl of some kind of whole grain porridge every morning. And any combination I would try, he’d seem to eat with zeal. Rye, barley, quinoa, steel cut oats, amaranth, millet - I’d mix it up each day to keep it exciting for him and so he could have a variety of whole grains in his diet since breakfast seemed to be the meal he ate the most of. But now, NOW he even rejects the porridge and says with distain (without even taking one eensy-weensy bite I might add), “No mama. NO. I no like that”. 

Don’t think I've given up on trying to get something whole grain and nourishing into his belly in the morn' though! Little does my son know that this rejection stokes the deep fire of creativity. Oh my wonderful boy - your mama is crafter than you might think and is always up for a challenge. And so, these whole grain Oatmeal Applesauce Morning Muffins are the result. I even topped them with some fresh raspberries my son refused to eat too. Funny that he gobbled them up when they were baked on the muffin. Yep, I’m a sneaky bitch. And proud of it.

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins 
Topping the muffins with a fresh berry is optional, of course, but if you have some hanging around do it - they look so pretty. A nice slice of banana would be a good substitute instead of the berry on top as well. Also these muffins are great to feed to your wee ones who have a few teeth too! I just don't give her one with the topping on it. Obviously. She ain't got a lot to chew with.

  • 1 - 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 - 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice
  • 2 large egg
  • 1 - 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 TB barley, rye or oat flour
  • 1 - 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 - 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants

Walnut Oat Cacao Topping 

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 4 TBS extra-virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 3 TBS cup coconut palm sugar
  • 2 TBS ground cacao powder 
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Oil or line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. 

Make the topping: In small bowl, combine the oats, coconut oil, sugar, cacao and pinch of salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, applesauce, milk, eggs, vanilla, melted coconut butter and maple syrup. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the applesauce mixture. Stir until just combined. The muffin batter will be a bit on the wet side. Gently mix in the raisins or currants.

I use a ice cream scooper to distribute the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups so use one if you got one, if not fill it with a spoon. Cover the top of each muffin with a the topping. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don't overbake or the muffins will be dry.

Remove the muffins and cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack for another 10 or so. Store leftovers in an airtight container for a few days at room temperature and a few more in the fridge.

Winter Green Smoothie

I used to drink a green juice everyday when I lived in New York. I stopped off to get one at my local health food store where Melvin would juice it for me. He was the juice king of the west village and everyone's favorite. He was full of love and Rasta and had a overwhelming warm welcoming smile and made a damn good juice. I wasn't the only one who thought this either as there was always a long line around the store waiting to get Melvin to juice them something good. Since moving out of NYC I was thrilled to know that he had opened his own place - Melvin's Juice Box too. Big up Mel.

Anyway, my point to all this juicing talk is that I used to also juice a ton but then I got pregnant and juicing wasn't appealing to me at all anymore and then I had kids and well let's just say my juicing days over these past few years has been pretty far and few between. I still love a good green juice, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that the amount of produce and time and cleaning the machine and, well, effort, it takes to make one hasn’t been worth it I guess or else I would have been making them, right? 

But I've been missing drinking my greens. More specifically, I've been missing how I feel when I drink them. Especially in the morning cause, even though my adorable 9 month old daughter is only waking up one time to nurse at night, I long for something to help rejuvinate my tired ass body to arise and jump into a new glorious mommy duty filled day! 

I tried a ton of those green powders but most taste like utter crap and others made my tummy upset and bleck bleck if you try to disguise the taste in a smoothie. SO then, one morning, out of desperation and inspiration I busted out my blender and thus this delicious, green smoothie was born.  The best part too is all it takes is a good old fashioned high speed blender! And I must admit, I love this green drink even more then just a plain ole juice. It satisfies me, feels incredible going into my body, nourishes my cells - I feel alive, happy, energized and awake. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

Winter Green Smoothie

  • 2 cups coconut water ( I use Harmless Harvest)
  • 1 medium blood orange or regular, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 of a ripe avocado
  • 3 stalks of green kale, stemmed
  • 1 green or red apple, cored
  • 1 soft large medjool date, pitted
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
  • 1 dime size piece of fresh turmeric root (optional)

    Put everything in the blend and blend on high speed until combined. Drink immediatly. 

Coconut Granola with Millet and Dried Apricots

Breakfast has always been the hardest meal for me to eat. I’ve never had that much of an appetite upon arising. I do muster up to eat breakfast though or else I’ll be a low blood sugared raving bitch. My standard morning meal is usually goat yogurt with a drizzle of some local honey and fresh fruit. Easy, yummy and satisfying. Lately I’ve been making a green smoothie (recipe coming up soon!) or I’ll have a nice naked scoop of some of my homemade granola.

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Once you make your own granola you’ll probably never buy the store bought kind again cause you’ll realize how super simple it is to whip together. It also lasts up to a month in an airtight container at room temperature making it wonderfully convent to grab some on the go or give some to your kids for breakfast or even as a snack. 

The best part is that you can throw all your favorite things into the mix too. Like I am not a fan of nuts in my granola so I don’t use them, but if you are by all means add a cup or two into the mix. I also like mine not really sweet so I use a bit of brown rice syrup instead of maple syrup but if you like it sweeter use maple instead. Also use any dried fruit you like or have on hand or simply leave them out altogether. Up to you. Play around. The granola world is your oyster.  Oh and it looks really pretty on your counter too.  


Coconut Granola with Millet and Dried Apricots

  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats (use gluten free oats if you like)
  • 1/3 cup millet 
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground sea salt
  • 1/3 cup runny honey
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup for less sweet or maple syrup for sweeter
  • 3 TB fresh lemon or orange zest 
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil or mild extra virgin olive oil
  • Preheat oven to 300°.

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, millet, coconut, and chopped dried apricots.

In a small pot, over a medium-low flame, heat the runny honey and coconut oil or olive oil, whisking until melted and combined. Turn off the flame and whisk in the maple syrup, zest, and salt.  Pour runny honey mixture over the oat mixture, mixing well to evenly coat. Spread onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

Place one baking sheet on top oven rack and other on bottom rack. Bake about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and rotate the baking sheets halfway through from top to bottom to ensure even baking.  Bake until the granola is toasted and a nicely golden brown  in color.

Place sheet on cooling rack, stir granola around and cool.  Eat immediately or store in airtight container at room temperature for a good couple weeks.

 

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

Yes you read that title right - no flour. And if that wasn't exciting enough for you they are also gluten free by design, dairy free and sweetened only with just a bit of honey or maple syrup if you prefer. They are utterly delicious and no one would ever guess they are sans anything which, for me, makes them even better!

Use the "dough" as a base for endless flavor combinations. Just swap out the dark chocolate and sea salt with anything you want. But if you are a chocolate chip cookie lover- give these little divine morsels a go. It was honestly love at first bit for everyone. Especially our son!

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

  • 1 cup all natural toasted or raw, creamy or chunky unsalted almond butter 
  • 1/3 cup runny honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 oz dark chocolate bar, coarsely chopped and divided 
  • flakey sea salt (such as Maldon), for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix the almond butter, honey or maple syrup, egg, vanilla, baking soda and 1/4 tsp fine sea salt until smooth. Fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chunks. 

Using a tablespoon, drop TB sized balls of dough onto prepared baking sheet and sprinkle a bit of flakey sea salt on top of each cookies. Bake on the middle rack for about 12 minutes or until cookies turn a slight golden brown and get puffy. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Store cookies in an airtight container in the fridge. They last a good week though I bet they will be gone before that!

Root Vegetable Stew with Miso

It’s been pretty cold up here in Northern California. Mornings are in the high 20s with ice forming overnight on the windshield of our car as well as on our son’s mini ride-around tractor he got for x-mas - “ice mama, ICE!” First Christmas he has understood what was going on so we went a little nuts with the many gifts that "Santa" brought. It was exciting and fun to see him rip them open but now that he has had a taste of the abundance, it has morphed into the whole needy and demanding more-candy-canes-and-presents thing. He keeps asking when “anta” is coming back with more gifts and every person he comes into contact with who is holding some sort of bag or box he assumes what they are holding is, in fact, a present for him. I know. He’s 3 years old.  He want’s everything. Sucks for him cause he ain’t getting nothing. Unless, of course, he FINALLY decides to start going poo poo on the damn potty! 

But I’m not here to talk about presents or poo poo. I'm here to share with you a wonderful, simple, nourishing, sweet stew made with a mixture of any root vegetables you may have on hand or love. When I was a vegetarian, I discovered macrobiotic cooking and fell in love with root vegetables. I mean, how could you not? They are sweet and starchy and tasty and so satisfying. Also warms you up nicely in the depths of a NYC winter or on a chilly autumn day. According to Chinese medicine, root vegetables help “root” or ground us, build stamina, and are very nourishing to the spleen and stomach, which helps aid digestion - making this a lovely soup to eat when your tummy is in need of a break from all those heavy winter holiday meals.

Through the years I have made many variations on this stew and each attempt was always a success.  A stew like this is very forgiving, making it perfect to throw together with any roots you may have hanging around. I have made it with and without miso and have also puréed the whole thing until smooth. Up to you. Any way your preference, yummy.

The other wonderful thing about root vegetables is that they impart a lovely sweetness which makes for a delicious broth so all you do is add filtered water and the roots take care of the rest. Well, also adding a bit of miso paste at the end deepens the flavors with a little salty, savory, umami goodness and voilà - you've got yourself a pot of vegetable divinity.

Oh and these gorgeous pictures were not taken by me on my iPhone. (I ain't claiming to be no photographer people - I just love to cook!) These pictures were taken by my incredibly talented friend Naomi Mcleod

Root Vegetable Stew with Miso
I used a purple sweet potato in this so that is why the stew has a purple hue. Those can be a bit hard to find (but if you do find them I highly recommend trying them!) but nowadays you may see purple carrots popping up at the markets so get a bunch of those instead if you want the lovely color. So pretty.

  • 2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 TB unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • 4 large leeks (white part only) or 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 TB fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • sea salt
  • 2 pounds (about 8 cups) assorted root vegetables, (such as winter squash, rutabaga, carrots, sweet potato, celery root, parsnips, turnips) peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups filtered water 
  • 2-4 heaping TB of mellow miso paste

In a large pot, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add leeks or onion, garlic, ginger, fennel, 1/2 tsp sea salt, red pepper flakes if using and stir well. Reduce flame a bit and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the leeks or onion soften. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and slowly cook until the mixture is soft and juicy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Check a few times and stir.

Add the root vegetables, thyme and bay leaf and raise heat to high and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Pour in the filtered water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. 

In a small bowl mix the miso paste with some of the hot broth to make a slurry. Mix the miso slurry into the soup pot, stirring to combine. Taste, adding a TB more miso or a dash of sea salt to taste. 

Serve hot with a sprinkle of fresh thyme or parsley leaves on top

Rustic Apple Date Cake

This is a lovely moist delicious unfussy cake - perfect to whip together on one of these chilly winter mornings. Wonderful along side one of your favorite hot beverage too. The only thing really time consuming is peeling the apples but I bet you could forgo the peeling and it would still be just as yummy. This is also the kind of cake that tastes even better the next day, which means you could make it the night before and serve it for breakfast. Happy holidays!

Apple Date Cake

  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup orange juice or apple cider
  • 1 cup whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 cup white spelt or all purpose flour 
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
  • 1/2 tsp fine ground sea salt
  • 4 cups slightly tart apples: peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter or coconut oil, cooled 
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 TBS raw sugar 

In a small bowl, add the pitted dates and cover with orange juice or apple cider. Soak until date are soft then puree everything in small blender, food processor or mash until a smooth paste.

Preheat oven to 325.

Butter the baking vessel of your choice and set aside.

Into a medium bowl whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cooled melted butter, eggs, vanilla and date puree. Slowly add the flour mixture into the egg mixture - mixing until everything is combine. The batter will be a very  thick batter so be sure to blend it well. Mix in the chopped apples. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and evenly scatter the top with the raw sugar. 

Bake on a the middle rack of the oven for about 50 minutes. Test the middle of the cake with a thin knife to see if it comes out clean. If it’s still a bit gooey, bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. You'll know when it's done. It will be a nice dark tan color and will spring back to a light touch.

Remove from oven, let cool a bit. This is delicious hot, warm or cold. Top with something creamy or simply eat as is. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days then in the fridge for a few more.

Bone Broth

I was so looking forward to making some homemade holiday treats to gift to our new friends and ship out to our old but alas both kids got sick. It’s been kinda a whirlwind of germs and fevers and congestion for the past few weeks and though they are getting better - they are still hacking away. I wouldn’t want anything from our snotty sneezy home right now which means all ya all ain’t gonna get anything either! 

My husband and I shockingly haven’t gotten the funk. Might be due to the obsessive amount of vitamin C shots as well as this seriously potent magic bottle of stuff called Fire Cider. Who knows but so far we are in good health.

At any rate, these past few weeks have been tending to two sick kids so I made a large pot of mineral rich chicken bone broth and have been sneaking it into their meals as much as possible. I steam up some veggies in a pot with it, add some when cooking grains or beans, throw some in at the last minute to a pasta, add to straight up soup or miso - getting creative with concealing some bone broth is always a fun time around here! 

I highly recommending purchasing a large stock pot. It’s one of the best pots I have in the kitchen cause I love to make a ton of broth and freeze it to use for a good long while. I either get a few pounds of organic lamb, cow or bison bones at the local butcher shop or farmers market or - in this case - save up a bunch of chicken parts that I don’t eat from whole chicken’s (necks, spine, wings, drumsticks) in the freezer to use when I have enough. I make a big pot with the usual vegetable suspects as well as any seasonal root vegetable that are hanging around. Though the broth is still wonderful without the roots - they add a lovely subtle sweetness to the broth so use them if you got ‘em. 

I learned a great tip from the good ole Martha Stewart magazine years back in regards to freezing stock which makes it super convenient to use into anything you are cooking.  After skimming off the layer of fat that rises to the top of the chilled broth the next day, pour the broth into large silicon ice cube trays - freeze them then pop them into a large zip lock bag and use when ever desired - no need to defrost. Adds not only flavor but also bone broth nourishment. Google bone broth if you don’t know about them. They are healing goodness.

Bone Broth

The ratio of vegetable and bones/chicken parts will obviously vary on how big the pot you’re working with. This recipe work great to with straight up bones (lamb, chicken, bison or cow) as well instead of the chicken parts. I make both kinds. Both wonderful and contains a ton of minerals and healing properties.

  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large head of garlic, unpeeled and whole head halved
  • 2 celery stalks, rough chopped
  • 2 large carrots, scrubbed and rough chopped
  • 1 large potato, scrubbed and rough chopped
  • 2 large parsnips, scrubbed and rough chopped (optional)
  • 1 rutabaga, scrubbed and rough chopped (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • handful fresh parsley or thyme
  • 2 to 4 chicken necks, wings, spine and drumsticks or 1 to 2 pounds of organic bones
  • sea salt
  • 1 TB apple cider vinegar 
  • filtered water to cover
     

Add everything into the largest pot you got. Add filtered water to cover by about an inch. Over a medium to high flame bring to a light boil then turn flame down to low. Skim off any white foamy stuff that will rise to the top. Partially cover pot with lid and simmer for a good 5 hours or so. 

When done, carefully strain through a fine mesh strainer and allow the stock to cool enough to put into the refrigerator. All the fat will rise to the top when chilled in the fridge then skim off the fat and voila - you can either use immediately or pour into large silicon ice cube trays until frozen then transfer into zip lock bags and store in freezer until ready to use. These “stock cubes” last a good few months in the fridge.

Cardamom Cornmeal Cookies

Holiday baking season is in full swing in our house. During these chilly raining grey days something sweet always seems to be baking away in the oven. I've been on a cornmeal kick as of late. Made an apple cranberry cornmeal crisp then a baked cornmeal custard - both tasty but then I made these delicious little cornmeal cookies and they took center stage. Hit the big time. Broadway bound cookies.  

I was inspired to make these from a corn cookie recipe I found in one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison. Her cookies used a handful of ingredients I didn't have in the house and I wasn't about to gather everyone to go to the market to get them either so I do what I always do - create something from what I have in my pantry.  

Admittedly, these are one of those kinda cookies that when I popped into the hot oven, I didn’t think would work out as well as they did. However, they not only worked, they were a huge success! I made them just yesterday and they are more than half gone today. This recipes yields about 30 cookies too. Nom nom.

I am confident these would work very well with any combination of dried fruits and nuts you may have handy.  Next time I’m gonna swap out the butter for some coconut oil and maybe use some dried cherries and almonds. And then dip them in some dark chocolate. Sprinkle with some coarse sea salt and toasted coconut chips. 

Ahem, excuse me - must try that version now.  
Toodles.

Cardamom Cornmeal Cookies

1 cup fine cornmeal flour
1/2 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup coconut sugar
3 TB muscavado or brown sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp sea salt
zest of 1 large orange or lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, room tempeature
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup currants or golden raisins or other bite sized dried fruit
1/2 cup pistachios, slivered almonds or pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter (must be room temperature or else it won’t blend!) and the sugars on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the orange zest, vanilla and egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then mix at medium speed until everything is incorporated and smooth.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add in the cornmeal, spelt flour and salt. Mix until combined and then add the dried fruit and nuts. Turn mixer off the use your clean hands to mix evenly. The dough will be soft and chunky.

Use a small ice cream scooper or a teaspoon to place them on the prepared baking sheets.  The dough won’t spread so you can place them close together.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool cookies on rack. 

They keep for 3 days at room temperature though I doubt they will last that long.

Roasted Parsnips, Carrots, Apples and Thyme

My husband and I have merged. Well, that already happened I guess. We fell in love, got married and popped out 2 kids. Bada bing. Apologies for that ridiculous gumba pun but I really haven’t gotten any consistent sleep in oh like a year and I seriously think I have completely  completely lost any remaining sanity I had left. However questionable my sanity was in the first place isn't the point and is an entirely different conversation altogether. Bing bing. 

Heck, I’ll even blame my lack of sleep for the reason my Thanksgiving turkey came out drier than the hay we put down for our farm animals. (Sorry again!) For the record, this was actually the very first traditional Thanksgiving dinner I have cooked and also I have shockingly never even cooked a whole turkey before. But I was excited to give it a go and my folks were coming to visit so I pre-ordered some insanely expensive organic heritage bird at my local grocer.

I did my research as well as ask around for the best way to cook the thing and in the end I was left with a very important decision to make - do I brine the bird for a couple of days or do I simply just season it before I cook it? I choose the latter as I was too concerned that if I brined it - which is simply just covering it with salt for a few days - my pan drippings (gravy) would be way too salty to eat. Anyway, let’s just say, next year I’m gonna brine the bitch.

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One of the only things that came out great were these roasted root vegetables and my dessert which we devoured way too quickly to remember to take a picture. Probably cause we were all starving due to the dry ass turkey! But, I’ve lost my train of thought (surprise surprise) so let’s get back to the merge with my hubby - this time I’ll spare you another bad joke. 

Today we are launching our new site Noci SonomaSalty, Spicy, Bitter and Sweet is now going to be the Food blog on the site and my husband is writing all about his farming experiences on the Farm blog. This is a place for both of us to document our journey as we develop our organic farm as well as all the many other unexpected things we create and learn along the way.  We honestly have no idea what this new endeavor may harvest but we have grand visions and look forward to sharing them with you all as we make something beautiful out of this raw land.

Join us in the kitchen and out on the farm.  

 
Roasted Parsnips, Carrots, Apples and Thyme 
These veggies make a lovely accompaniment to any meal as well as any leftovers make a wonderful salad, over a nice bowl of greens with your favorite dressing and some sprinkled feta or goat cheese on top.


4 medium parsnips, peeled, halved and then quartered into 1 inch strips
4 medium carrots, peeled, halved and then quartered into 1 inch strips
2 large shallots, peeled and halved and quartered 
2 pink lady or firm tart apples, cored, halved and quartered into 1/2 inch pieces 
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 TB fresh thyme, leaves only


Preheat the oven to 425°

Place the vegetables on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Drizzle the olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Toss well. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size, tossing occasionally, until the veggies are tender and lightly golden. 

Pour veggies onto serving platter, sprinkle with a little bit of coarse sea salt and fresh thyme or chopped parsley on top. 

The Best Gingerbread I’ve Ever Made.

This is gonna be short. I’m here to only talk about this gingerbread. The best fucking gingerbread I have ever EVER made. Seriously. This one has it all. A little gooey, a lot moist, a little sweet and a ton of gingery spice. It’s a mixture of spelt and barley flours, coconut sugar and brown rice syrup and (of course) molasses, seasonal spices with an extra hit of crystallized ginger and coconut oil instead of regular butter. Make it. It’s everything I dreamed a gingerbread to be. That’s it. I’m done.

Gingerbread

  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 cup whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 cup white spelt flour
  • 1 cup barley flour
  • 1  1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp finely ground sea salt
  • 2 TB ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 2 TBS crystalized ginger, chopped

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Smear some coconut oil all around a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

In a small pot, over a low flame, combine coconut oil, molasses, brown rice syrup, and coconut sugar in a medium, non-reactive saucepan and place over low heat. Whisk the mixture frequently until the coconut oil is just melted and all of the ingredients are well blended. Remove from the heat, pour into a large bowl, and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside.

When the molasses mixture is cooled or lightly warm to the touch, add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each egg. Then whisk in the milk until combined.

Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the batter without over mixing. Then gently mix in about 1 1/2 TB of the chopped crystalized ginger until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining chopped crystalized ginger on top. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 45-60 minutes. Check at 45 minutes. When the top of the cake springs back when touched. If not done, bake and check after 5 minutes. It’s done when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool for a good hour. This is the kinda thing that taste better as it sits. I cut mine into squares but you can cut them any which way you want ‘em. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days then in the fridge after that for a few more

 

Persimmon Bread

The sweaters, the scarfs, the hats and coats are making their way out from the depths of the closet as fall is offically here! I adore this season. I get all nostalgic and cosy and comforted and inspired to nourish those around with delicious warming soups and stews and baked goods. The fireplace is the first thing I turn on in the morning (yes it’s manual) and then it’s the oven. The morning’s are chilly and still dark when I rise and my favorite favorite favorite thing to do is bake. Soooooooo many things to create with the abundance of the autumn harvest – persimmons being on the top of my list.

There are a few types of persimmons out here. The ones that you can eat hard or soft, Fuyu, and the ones you can only eat soft, Hachiya. I have tried this bread using a soft Fuyu with but much prefer the richer jammy flavor of the soft Hachiya.

The bread isn’t the prettiest, but it sure is delicious. It’s slightly sweet, super moist and the flavor reminiscent of carmel without the use of butter. We eat this bread as is or with some sheep yogurt and extra persimmons puree you’ll have left over drizzled on top. We also eat it as dessert, warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Persimmon Bread

  • 1  1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 large, very ripe Hachiya persimmons
  • 1/3 cup plain goat milk kefir or buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup walnut oil or mild extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup muscovado brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs


Preheat oven to 350°.

Oil a loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Scoop persimmon flesh from skins into a blender. Purée until smooth. Transfer 1 cup purée to a medium bowl (reserve any remaining purée for another use or just snack on it while you make the bread). Whisk in milk. Set aside.


In a separate bowl, whisk oil and sugars until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until mixture is well combined. Add the vanilla then gradually add persimmon mixture; beat until well combined. Add dry ingredients in 3 batches, beating just until incorporated.


Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Check at 50 minutes; if not done, cook another 5 or 10 minutes.


Let bread cool in pan for 20 minutes. Store in sealed glass container and leave on the counter for about 5 days. Though I doubt it will last that long.


Quinoa Crispy Treats

My son loves nuts. I mean LOVES them. Walnuts, almonds, pistachios are his favorite at the moment. He eats them almost everyday as a snack with some sliced apples or pears or with some dried fruit or coconut chips. I just recently discovered these toasted puffed quinoa crispies in the bulk bin at my local health food store and was inspired to see if I could create a chewy, crunchy homage to the old school rice crispy treat using nut butter instead of marshmallows. Totally different, I know, but could be delicious and without the crazy sugar crash. Success! 

Yes, you can swap out the quinoa crisps with crispy brown rice instead – I like the Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal – but if you can get your hands on some of these quinoa crispies (you can buy them on-line here) I highly recommend you give these ridiciously simple (throw everything in a bowl, mix, spread, chill, cut, eat!) recipe a go.

I made them with almond butter last week and they were delicious and then made them with sesame butter (tahini) this week and still delicious so I would guess they would be wonderful with any nut/seed butter you desire too. Either way you make them (and I so hope you do) no one did the sugar crazy dance after consumption. I am, however, guilty of doing the happy delicious yummy #theyworked dance while my son calmly took a bite, looked up at me and said with confidence, “Good Mama. Good.”

QUINOA CRISPY TREATS

  • 2 cups quinoa crispies
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 TB runny honey
  • 1/2 cup smooth almond butter or tahini
  • pinch of sea salt

In a small bowl, whisk the rice syrup, honey, nut butter, sea salt until combine. They will blend more easily if they are all at room temperature. If you are having trouble then just put them all in the food processor and give em a whiz. 

In a medium bowl, add the quinoa crispies then pour the nut butter mixture in. Mix together with a spatula until combine. 

Pour into a 8×8 baking dish or other desired shaped dish. Using a spatula or back of a spoon, flatten mixture until the top is even and smooth. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours until set. 

When set, run a sharp knife along the top to make the size bars you want then cut em and eat em! Store in an airtight container in the fridge in-between wax paper cause they will most likely stick together.

Broccoli Pistachio Pesto

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I’ve been having such vivid dreams lately. I’m no Freud but I believe that our dreams can most definitely guide us, allow us to possibly see things a little clearer. Lately I’ve been dreaming about my life before I had children. It’s hard to believe that I actually had one but I did and in that life - I was an actress.

I was living in the rat race - waiting for my career to be exactly (perfectly) the way I thought I wanted it to be before I was “ready” to start a family. And I’m pretty positive, had I not gotten pregnant with an IUD with my son (0.01% chance of getting pregnant with an IUD btw!) I probably would not have 2 utterly scrumptious children today. I very likely might have still been pounding the pavement of auditioning or I might have been performing on Broadway or the West End in London or starring in a Hollywood movie but then I’d be “too busy” to have children and then I’d wake up one day too old to start or maybe I’d be unemployed, alone and depressed sitting at the corner bar in the middle of the afternoon with a cigarette and a hat drinking pontificating about the good old days when I was pretty and young - who the heck knows - all I know is that presently, I could not and would not want my life to have unfolded any other way.

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I’ve always seen myself as a character actress. One that changes with each role. Always gravitated towards playing women much different from myself - from various classes, cultures and environments. When I first started studying acting, I was 20 years old and most of the roles I was given to play were boring to me. I wanted to play those women in their 40s who had been through some shit and had depth. So, if I look at this time away from that perspective - I’m almost 40 and I can now play all those delicious roles!

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Throughout these past few years (4 to be exact) my father would periodically ask me if I was going to start performing again, concerned I would wake up one day in regret. My response was always the same, “If I missed it Pop, I would be doing it.” And I never missed it. I’ve never woken up in regret that I’ve taken this extraordinary time to experience pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. Never. Not once. No desire to do anything else except be with my young ones, cook and write. Honestly. Until now.

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Here I am, almost 40, now living in the county, about to create an organic farm, with my sexy husband (pic below!), 2 kids, 2 dogs, 10 sheep, 2 pigs, far away from big city representation with incredibly cheesy community theatre all around. Surprisingly, being away from that grind (and also having a family I don’t want to be too far away from) has inspired a change of how I want to get back up under those lights again and perform.

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And so, somewhere in this farm of ours we are going to build a theatre. A farm to stage experience if you will. Pick your own snacks from our seasonal abundance, sip some amazing local wine and watch some badass theatre in the elements of nature. Like how Shakespeare did it back in the day. His audience would have to walk through town to get to the theatre - stopping off to get some food, some drink and some women. Well, this would be without the brothel though. Sorry boys.

 

Broccoli Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Any leftover pesto is delicious smeared on some really good bread along with some really good cheese and made into an old school grilled cheese sandwich. Amazing.

  • 1 medium head of broccoli (about 3 cups), cut into very small florets
  • 1/3 cup pistachios, toasted
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pecorino or parmesan, freshly grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon + fine grain sea salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • whole grain fusilli or other bite size pasta

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. I use the same pot to blanch the broccoli as I do cook the pasta in.

When the water is rapidly boiling, add the broccoli and cook just until it turns a nice green color, about 20 seconds. Using a small strainer, carefully gather the broccoli florets, put them into a larger strainer and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Reserve about 1/3 cup of the small broccoli trees as a garnish.

Add the remaining broccoli to a food processor along with the pistachios, basil, pecorino or parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and sea salt. Turn on and drizzle in the olive oil while blending until smooth. Taste, adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed. Set aside.

Cook the pasta according to the package - al dente. Reserve about 1/4 cup pasta water before draining. Drain pasta then transfer the hot pasta back into the pot you cooked it in along with about 1/2 of the pesto, the reserved pasta water and the reserved broccoli florets. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Taste, add more pesto if needed. Store any leftover pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 days.

Transfer pasta to serving dish, drizzle some good olive oil on top and a bit more freshly grated pecorino or parmesan.

Roasted Pumpkin Pudding

I can’t believe it’s already the end of the week. Again! Time is buzzing by these days. And it’s hot. Damn hot. Which makes this exhausted mother of 2 even more. At the end of the day I honestly am having a really hard time mustering up any extra energy to try new things in the kitchen. Lunch has been a quick corn quesadilla with sharp goat cheddar and a smashed avocado. This is actually my son’s favorite meal at the moment – which, by default, is now mine too.  

I bought a beautiful butternut squash the other day and decided to roast it up so my baby girl could have a little. Little being the operative word here. I was left with a ton of extra pureed roasted squash goodness. And since I don’ have any extra oomph in me, I decided to make this sans crust. So you can think of this recipe as a pumpkin pie without the crust. Yummy. It’s a whiz to whip together, last a good few days in the fridge and is, in my opinion, even more delicious cold. 

My husband harvested all the olives we had on our backyard trees and we are now in the process of brining them. Never done this before so who knows how they will turn out but the pictures turned out so beautiful I had to share some too.

Roasted Pumpkin Pudding

  • 2 cups butternut squash or other winter pumpkin puree, preferably homemade
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup plain goat kefir or buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • nice pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk all the ingredients together until smooth. Butter or oil a 9in baking dish of your choice and pour the pumpkin goodness into the dish.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about an hour or until the pudding is almost set in the middle and doesn’t wiggle around a bunch when you move it.

Cool for a good 30 minutes or longer. Serve with a creamy whipped cream of your choice and roasted walnuts or pecans if you so desire. The pudding is also delicious served cold as well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollop of yogurt too.

Little Gem Salad with Homemade Croutons and a Toasted Spice Vinaigrette

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The summer harvest season is almost over which means more and more of those gorgeous fall vegetables are showing up at the farmers market and I am incredibly excited about it. I know better not to pick the first of the season winter squashes (my favorite) cause they are never as good as they are in all their autumn glory. Somehow I have developed patience when it comes to this which is shocking.

I love everything about the fall season - the weather, the leaves, the holidays, the coziness, cooking my favorite autumn recipes, discovering new ways to devour the abundance of all those delicious root vegetables, slow cooked stews, soups, baking, roasting - mmmm mmmmm. But more on all that when the time comes (!) cause now I am in the future salivating on what is to come which is never a good idea and gets me nowhere - must enjoy what is in the present!

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This salad is a perfect late summer one that showcases the last of the season’s vegetables. You could use just about anything you like or have on hand cause the vinaigrette is really the star here. It has a bit of a middle eastern flare but the spice not overbearing. Just right. It also lasts a good week in the fridge making it super convent to drizzle it on just about anything you want. It’s pared beautifully with a number of things I have drizzled it over too; roasted beets, sautéed corn, string beans, chicken, steamed vegetables, cooked grains (quinoa, barley, rice), avocado… you get my point: incredibly versatile. I always love to have great dressings around in the fridge. It takes only a few minutes to make so I would double the recipe to enjoy longer.

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Little Gem Summer Salad with Homemade Croutons 

  • 4 heads of little gem lettuce, washed and leaves kept whole
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium japanesse or persian cucumber, sliced in circles
  • a few green olives, pitted and chopped
  • a few TB feta, crumbled
  • 2 TBS fresh parsley, cilantro or basil, chopped

*homemade croutons *to make croutons: 4 thick slices of day old bread (about 1 inch) 2 TB olive oil and a nice pinch of sea salt. preheat oven to 400. In a bowl, toss the torn bread with the olive oil and sea salt. Spread the bread evenly on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Toasted Spice Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 TB apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper

Toast coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool, then grind in spice grinder or smash in mortal and pestle.

Whisk ground spices with oil, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, sea salt and a few turns of freshly milled black pepper in a small bowl. Taste adding more salt if desired.

Baked Oatmeal with Walnuts and Prunes

My Gramps passed peacefully last week at the ripe age of 98. Ninety-eight. Amazing. About 10 years ago, doctors told us he wouldn’t be around for much longer due to some of his health conditions. But he was a strong and stubborn unshakably fierce Russian man, with hands thick and callused from working hard in factories and always spoke as though he knew everything about everything. No surprise to me that he proved us all wrong and decided to say good-bye when he was good and ready.

He and Gram used to babysit me a bunch when I was younger and I loved it when they did. Especially on New Years Eve when I slept over at their house and got to eat a huge bowl of Raisin Bran cereal with extra spoonfuls of sugar for dinner, watch the Lawrence Welk show, listen to old records as Gram and I danced around the room dressed up like 1920s flappers and then let me stay up late to watch the ball drop in Times Square on the Dick Clark new years eve TV special.

Gramps would always tell me stories about how he escaped Russia when he was very young, his difficult life in Chicago, how happy he was to be in sunny California and how wonderful my parents were for bringing them both over here. My favorite time though was when he would tell me bedtime stories. I was so entranced by each and every story he created (improvised on the spot I later learned) that I couldn’t fall asleep until the story ended and found out what had happened. He was an incredible story teller, embodying each character as brilliant as any fine Shakespearean actor does.

And though he drove a car, he would always talk about the one of his dreams – a silver Cadillac. One year, when I was like 7, I gave him a small plastic one for his birthday and he kept it on his shelf ever since, always referring to it as the best gift he ever received. And now Gramps, all I imagine is that you are joyful and free and have reconnected with all the family and friends you had lost, laughing and telling stories – driving everyone around in your very own deluxe silver Cadillac in the sky.

I love you.

Baked Oatmeal with Walnuts and Prunes

Adapted from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson.

This is a easy delicious new way to enjoy your oats. Raisins or dried apricots are also a nice substitute for the prunes. I’ve also made this with much success without walnuts and it’s still yummy. This is a wonderful recipe to make if you should need some help in increasing fiber into your diet – wink wink – something grandparents seem to be very conscious of. And so, if I were to make my Gramps breakfast, this probably would be it. And this probably would be the healthiest breakfast the man ever had. He ate like utter crap. Seriously. And he lived to almost 100 years old. Go figure.

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1  1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup prunes, pitted and sliced
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond, soy or milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 TBS coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tsp real vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the top third of the oven.

In an 8-inch square or round baking dish, mix together the oats, the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Scatter the prunes evenly over the oat mixture.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, coconut/butter and vanilla. Mix in the sliced prunes. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for about 20 minutes to set. Any leftover keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days and is also delicious eaten cold too.

Black Mission Fig Tart

About the only thing I miss about our old house in LA is the black mission and heirloom zebra fig trees we left behind. I was seriously contemplating digging them up and bringing with us on the moving truck. Seriously. I actually had to be talked out of it.

Figs are one of my favorite fruits. Might even be my favorite. Fresh, dried, baked, roasted, jammy, sweet, savory, any which way I’ll happily devour them. Little did I know that the place we were moving to would actually have an even better more abundant fig tree than the trees we left behind. Score.

For the past few weeks, the tree has been exploding with ripe beautiful sweet figs. We’ve been enjoying picking and eating them sun-kissed and tree ripened or slicing them over some morning yogurt. But the tree is popping with so many ripe figs I was inspired to pick all the ripe ones off before the birds got to them first and make a tart.

When I was in Italy, a common treat I seemed to find in many bakeries were freshly dried large white figs stuffed with 2 blanched almonds inside. So simple, naturally decadent, nutritionally rich and utterly divine.

Almonds pair wonderfully with figs and I had bought some fresh marzipan at the farmers market and thought it would be a lovely addition sprinkled on top of the figs. I was right (!) but if you don’t have any it’s delicious without as well.

When ever I make a crust that uses butter, as this one does, I always make it the day before since it has to chill in the refrigerator before baking – making the tart come together in a flash the next day. And for those that don’t eat dairy, you can substitute this crust with this one.

 

Black Mission Fig Tart

  • 1 stick (8 TB) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup muscavdo sugar
  • 1 large egg 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup whole spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup white spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • about 20 fresh black mission figs or enough to cover, stemmed and quartered
  • 2 oz marizpan (optional) 2 TB raw sugar

Beat together butter and sugar until well-combined. Mix in the egg, egg yolk and almond extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add the dry ingredients, just until the mixture just comes together.

Pat the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat oven 350.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to room temperature slightly. With the heel of your hand, press the dough into the bottom and sides of an unbuttered removable bottom tart pan (9″ or 10″), patting it evenly.

Scatter the sliced figs, flesh side up, evenly over the dough. Sprinkle marzipan on top of figs. Then generously cover with coarse raw sugar, about 2 TBS.

Bake on a cookie sheet until the pastry is golden brown. 25-30 minutes. Let cool before serving, and serve at room temperature.

 

My Favorite Mushroom Soup

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The weather is starting to cool down a bit up here, with the essence of the fall season swimming in the breeze. Fall is my favorite time of year and the time I start to make one of my favorite things to eat - SOUP!

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I took advantage of a cool rainy day last week and made a huge pot of chicken stock from the insane amount of chicken parts I had in my freezer. I always do this when soup season is approaching. I make the stock and then I freeze it, making it very convent to whip up a delicious soup anytime.

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Stock is one of the most important things to making a soup delicious. In the height of autumn I throw in some nice winter squash or other root vegetables but my basic stock is: a large yellow onion, whole head of garlic, few stalks of celery, few carrots, large potato, handful of parsley, thyme, nice hefty pinch of sea salt, TB apple cider vinegar, chicken necks, wings, drumsticks - I collect a few of each parts from whole chickens I buy that the butcher chops up, roast the thighs and breasts and freeze the rest of the chicken parts. Then I top everything off with filtered water, bring to a light boil, skim off any foam that comes to the surface and then turn flame down to a simmer and let sit for a few hours. Strain and put in the fridge until cold to then skim off the layer of fat that rises to the top. I freeze the stock in small to medium containers which makes it easy to defrost the amount I need to make soup. I also pour the stock into large silicone ice cube trays (props to Martha Stewart for that brilliant tip) and freeze to pop into a pot of beans or cook vegetables or anything that you desire to add some extra protein and flavor.

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SO, with my homemade stock in the freezer, I had soup on my mind. I picked up a few beautiful bags of crimini mushrooms (baby portobella) at the farmers market and found a mushroom soup recipe by Mr. Anthony Bourdain that sounded perfect and super easy to make. I changed a few things and added a few things and it turned out to be the best easiest most delicious mushroom soup I have made. Seriously. Simple, tasty and truly came together without much effort. When I read his words, “This is a ridiculously easy soup to make. It's tasty and durable, and it gets even better overnight”. I was ready to jump into the kitchen and give it a go. I hope you do the same.

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Mushroom Soup

adapted from Epicurious via Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook

  • 3 TB goat butter or regular butter, divided
  • 1 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots or small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 12 ounces crimini mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 TB mirin 1 TB tamari or soy sauce
  • 4-5 cups homemade chicken stock or really good low sodium store bought
  • sea salt
  • freshly milled black pepper

Top each bowl with cooked farro or other grain like brown rice or quinoa sautéed greens and sliced crimini or shiitake mushroom

In the medium saucepan, over a medium flame add the olive oil and 2 TB of the butter. When butter has melted add the shallot. Cook for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent, then add the mushrooms, dried thyme and last remaining TB of butter. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add the mirin and tamari/soy sauce and stir around a bit then add the chicken stock and bring to a light boil. Reduce the flame and simmer for 45 minutes.

Let the soup cool for a few minutes, then transfer to the blender and carefully blend at high speed until smooth. Do I have to remind you to do this in stages, with the blender's lid firmly held down, and with the weight of your body keeping that thing from flying off and allowing boiling hot mushroom purée to erupt all over your kitchen?

When blended, return the mix to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and bring up to a simmer again. Serve as is or top individual bowls of soup with some cooked grain, sautéed greens and sliced crimini or shiitake mushroom.