Guys, I am in a funk. And it’s not like James Brown’s funk, or the Isley Brothers’ funk. It’s a very non-awesome, kind-of toxic, super-blarghy-ultra-screw-up-expialidocious…funk. I’m making uncharacteristically dumb mistakes at work, my sleep schedule is out the window, and all I can seem to do right is binge watching Grey’s Anatomy in bed covered in cats who, at times, seem dubious about my hygiene (understandably). And I completely blame the weather- no, really. We’ve been having major snow on and off in Portland since December, and Portland just plain doesn’t know how to deal with snow in amounts over 1-inch, so my workplace keeps shutting down. Between myriad snow closures and holiday off-times, I haven’t worked a full 40-hour week since just after Thanksgiving. I flourish when I am rooted in a predictable routine, and, clearly, I wilt when I am not.
That said, I am majorly blessed to have been paid for each day (granted, it was with my vacation time, which I did have earmarked for actual vacations), to have a home to keep me warm when there were literally people freezing to death in the streets, and humans and cats whom I love, and who love me unconditionally even when I am a gooey, pathetic lump of lethargy and sadness. Until I am fully re-rooted into my beautiful, predictably boring routine, I will be over here clinging to gratitude for dear life.
Hey! You know what I didn’t screw up at all recently, though? My very first attempt at homemade lox. I know you’re skeptical, but making lox at home is completely idiot-proof. It requires no culinary skill whatsoever, or special ingredients of any kind. Even I, in my state of miserable incompetency outlined above, nailed perfect homemade lox on the first try. Whiz-bang!
Lox is, without a doubt, the sparkling jewel of the brunch world. It’s luxurious and beautiful, with silky texture and salty, briny flavor that just won’t quit. Whether you serve it with bagels and schmear, nestled into eggs benedict, or swaddled lovingly in an omelette or crepe- it’s a winner, it’s impressive, and darn it! It lives up to the hype. These are all really great reasons why you pay out the bum for mediocre lox at the store or deli. But what Big Lox doesn’t want you to know is that you’re good enough and smart enough to make it yourself for a fraction of the cost. Here’s what’s involved: First, buy some salmon- something with fatty-er stripes will yield the best texture, but this isn’t crucial. Stir together some salt, brown sugar, and a dash of liquid smoke (optional), and slather it all over the fish. Wrap in plastic and put in your fridge to cure. Five-ish days later, unwrap the fish, give it a thorough rinse and dry, and then eat your heart out. Presto… homemade lox!
So easy, even a gooey, pathetic lump of lethargy and sadness can do it!
- Salmon, skin on
- 1/4 c. kosher salt
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 t. liquid smoke (optional)
- Gently press the surface of the salmon to check for pin bones- remove any you find. Pat salmon dry with paper towel, sprinkle with fresh black pepper.
- In a small bowl, stir together the salt, brown sugar, and liquid smoke (if using). Lay out a long sheet of plastic wrap and set the salmon in the center, skin-side down. Scoop salt mixture onto the salmon and evenly distribute. Wrap the salmon up in the plastic wrap, but don't fold the ends of the wrap over- leave them loose to let the juice escape during brining.
- Place the wrapped salmon in a baking sheet or dish and cover with a lid or more plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 5 days, turning the salmon over once per day.
- After 5 days, unwrap the salmon and rinse under cool water until all traces of brine have washed away. Pat dry with paper towel. Use your sharpest knife to thinly slice the salmon across the grain, at a 45-degree angle.
Our first stop on this tour of everything-bagelization: soft pretzel bites. Have you made pretzel bites yet? Wowzer. They are every bit as incredible as typical soft pretzels (these taste just like Auntie Anne’s and I do not make that comparison lightly), but with a two-bite size that is made for Superbowl parties. Or movie nights, or days ending in y. Add some everything bagel sprinkle to this equation and you have yourself a truly next-level, transcendent snack food.
I know that you think that homemade soft pretzels are a pain in the tuckus. And I don’t necessarily disagree. Yes- you have to make yeast dough. Yes- you have to have enough clean counter space to roll out skinny dough snakes and shape them into pretzels. Yes- you have to boil them in baking soda solution before baking. The good news is that pretzel bites cut some corners. With this recipe (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction) there’s no rising time involved, and you can just hack the dough into haphazard, non-uniform lumps instead of meticulously shaping them. You do still have to make the snakes. Nay, you get to make the snakes- we all know that’s the fun part, anyway. All in all, these take around an hour total: about 30 minutes with the dough, and another 30 to bake the pretzel bites in batches.
If Beyonce can find an hour in her day to theoretically make pretzel bites, so can you.
- 1 1/2 c. warm water
- 1 T. brown sugar
- 1 packet instant or quick-rise yeast (2 1/4 t.)
- 1 T. butter, melted
- 1 t. salt
- 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting counter
- 1/4 c. baking soda
- 1 egg, beaten
- everything bagel sprinkle
- In large mixing bowl or bowl of stand mixer combine warm water, brown sugar, and yeast. Allow to sit for a minute or two.
- Meanwhile, melt butter and set aside to cool.
- Using a dough hook, mix together the dough: pour melted butter and salt into yeast mixture, then turn on mixer to low. Add the flour gradually one cup at a time. When flour is fully incorporated increase mixer speed to medium and allow to knead until dough forms a ball and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in some extra flour as you go along, if needed.
- Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425 F. Prepare two baking sheets by spraying with cooking spray. One will be to catch the bites after boiling, and the other for baking.
- While the dough rests, fill a large-ish pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, place dough on a floured surface and cut into 4 equal blobs. Roll each blob into a rope about 1-inch thick, then chop into roughly 1.5-inch segments (usually around 10 pieces each rope).
- Once water is boiling, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Add about 8-10 bites to the pot and boil for 20-30 seconds. When the bites become firm, use a slotted spoon to fish them out and set aside on one of the baking sheets. Repeat until all bites are boiled.
- Brush the bites with beaten egg, then sprinkle the tops with everything bagel mixture.
- Bake in batches for 15 minutes per batch, or until bites are golden brown. Serve piping hot with cheese sauce and hot mustard.
This jalapeno cheddar cornbread whips up fast and easy- it’s the perfect savory/sweet accompaniment to all your soups this season!
I’m not sure how clear I have made this in the past, but I really really hate Winter. SO much. I am a huge weiner, about it too, despite having spent the first 26 winters of my life in Wisconsin, where the struggle is REAL. And as for Fall… Fall would be great if it didn’t lead right into Winter- it’s basically the Sunday afternoon of seasons, if you think about it. All of this is to say that, if you need me, I shall be face-down in a steamy bowl of soup for roughly the next five months. It’s going to be a lot of soup.
As mentioned last week, I finally bought myself a cast iron skillet– it has been working really hard in my kitchen ever since and aside from producing fajitas, apple crisp, steak au poivre (that brought tears to mine eyes), and several dutch babies, it has also renewed my vigor for cornbread! So today I’m posting this ultra-comforting Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread. Tender, fluffy, buttery- it’s totally got that savory/sweet thing going on, which means it goes with everything. It is to soup what taupe ankle boots are to fashion this season- best friends.
That’s it- get on it! Stay tuned next week for a great new soup!
- 6 T. butter, divided
- 6 T. honey, divided
- 1 1/4 c. cornmeal
- 3/4 c. flour
- 3/4 t. baking soda
- 3/4 t. salt
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1 large jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 1/4 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 c. buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place 4 T. butter and 4 T. honey in small saucepan over low heat. Allow to melt while you prepare the batter.
- In a mixing bowl combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, sugar, chopped jalapeno, and cheddar cheese. Stir together to combine.
- Separately, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs, then gradually whisk in the melted honey and butter. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated.
- Pour into a 10" cast iron skillet or greased cake pan. Bake for 25 minutes, then cover loosely with foil to prevent over-browning. Continue baking another 10 minutes, or until a toothpick tests clean in the center of the cornbread.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 T. butter and 2 T. honey on low heat. Stir to combine fully.
- When cornbread comes out of the oven, brush melted honey-butter over the top of the crust.
I am not the first to sprinkle sugar on top of some yogurt, torch it, and call it breakfast creme brulee- in fact the concept is kind of having a moment right now. I first ran across bruleed yogurt on pinterest and it was easy enough to try out for myself a few times, but each time I found it a bit lacking in body and richness. Even the thickest Icelandic yogurt cannot compare to the custardous luxury of true creme brulee in its traditional dessert form, that is true, and I had no delusions that it would fool me to begin with. I am very good at knowing what is dessert and what is not dessert. So I started to think about what could be combined with the yogurt to give it a little extra oomph. I first tried whipping in some whole milk ricotta, which gave it the body that I was looking for but also added a slight grittiness to the texture that I found a bit off-putting after a couple of days.
I forgot about it and moved on with my life for a while. But then, last week, tired of eating the same unsatisfying instant oatmeal at my desk every morning, I thought about how much more I would relish ignoring the first few work emails of the day if I were tapping my spoon onto a crisp, deeply caramelized crust, and scooping burnt shards and creamy yogurt (and what else?) into my face.
And then I thought about mascarpone cheese. Of course, mascarpone! The dairyous hero of tiramisu! Thick and silky, with a concentrated dairy cream flavor. So I tried it, and I was glad to discover that not much mascarpone needs to be added to the yogurt in order to add juuuust enough suggestion of dessert to an otherwise responsible yogurty concoction. It is very good.
If you have been reading along for a while you likely have noticed by now that I am a bit of a make-ahead fangirl when it comes to breakfasts and lunches, in particular. In the evenings, I love nothing more than to slow down and unwind after work via a home-cooked meal, but in the mornings I am all about convenience. If this sounds like you then you’ll be glad to know that this breakfast creme brulee recipe has the make-ahead built right in, and these little heroes are perfectly packable and ready to come with you to work if need-be. Your workmates will be j-e-a-l-o-u-s, if you’re into that sort of thing.
I gathered some 8-ounce Weck jars, which I love for their tight seals and mega-cuteness (you can buy them at World Market), but you can use Ball jars or any other sealable glass or ceramic ramekin-like vessel that will stand up to heat from a culinary torch. I began by spooning some apple butter on the bottom of each jar, because it’s Fall now (ugh), then topped with the yogurt-mascarpone concoction. At this point the jars are sealed and stored in the fridge until ready to use. To prepare one breakfast creme brulee, just unseal, top with a generous sprinkle of sugar, and torch until a deeply caramelized crust forms. Let it cool for a couple of minutes, then gobble it up or seal it to take to work!
- 3 c. vanilla Greek or Icelandic yogurt
- 4 T. mascarpone cheese
- 8 T. fruit compote, jam, honey, or apple butter
- 4 T. granulated sugar, divided
- Either by hand or with an electric mixer, whisk together yogurt and mascarpone thoroughly. Set aside.
- Drop 2 T. of fruit compote/jam/honey/apple butter in the bottom of each of four (roughly 8-ounce) jars or ramekins. Top with yogurt-mascarpone creme, distributing evenly. Spread the tops flat, cover or seal, and refrigerate until ready to use.
- To brulee: When ready to eat, sprinkle 1 T. sugar over top of yogurt-mascarpone creme, shake gently from side to side to even out, then brulee with a culinary torch until entire surface is deeply caramelized. Allow to cool undisturbed for 5 minutes.
- If you don't have a culinary torch, you can try using your oven's broiler. If you do go for the broiler instead, use oven safe ramekins for this recipe, instead of glass jars, and be sure to watch carefully!
It’s with great pleasure that I announce that Humbledish is now one year old! Yay, Humbledish! Ben and I celebrated this milestone with a layered funetti cake with rosé buttercream. And donuts on top. Because donuts. It is a smashing cake that my coworkers are feasting on this very moment, and the recipe can be found on the bottom of this post, as always. I’ll talk more about the cake shortly, but I’d like to use the front end of this post to reflect on the last year, as well as my goals for the future. It just seems like the right thing to do, ya know? Feel free to scroll ahead past all the blah-blah-blah, if you wish.
I wish that I could say that blogging has been all fun and fulfillment. Truthfully, I vacillate between periods of genuine pride for what I am building and have learned so far, and then feeling like an unmitigated fraud. I spend a lot of time wondering if anybody reads this thing, and why does it matter to me if anybody reads this thing, and what am I even getting out of this? Is all of this effort and money spent worth it? Will any of this matter to anyone but me? Hello? Can anybody hear me out there?
I would truly rather spend less time entertaining that kind of negativity, but even when I am, I at the very least know that I am doing something. I am trying something, and for the first time in my life, I am following through. The website is not perfect and it’s not really even done (how do I still not have an “About Me” page?), but I built it. Sometimes my photos are a little dark, or a little out of focus, but they are miles ahead of my first photos, and continue to improve. I am becoming okay with existing inside the learning process and, slowly, I am narrowing the gap between my vision and what my current abilities allow me to achieve.
So here I am, one year in, which is the perfect checkpoint to assess where I started, where I am, and where I’d like to go next. My goals for the next year are:
-to come to peace with not being able to post as frequently as “real” food bloggers. I love dreaming about the possibility of blogging full-time in the future, but my now-reality is working a full-time job and cooking/photographing on the weekends. I am finding that one post per week is a good, realistic goal that allows me to deliver content that I can be proud of.
-to be kind to myself as I continue developing skills that are still new to me.
-to make connections with readers and other food bloggers out there.
Let’s talk about cake! This triple-layered funfetti cake with rosé buttercream is nothing short of F-U-N. We’ve got sprinkles! We’ve got donuts! We’ve got wine! We’ve got… MORE sprinkles! It’s the perfect cake for adults who want to forget they are adults. Let’s start from the inside and work our way out. A classic, tender buttermilk white cake (from Sally’s Baking Addiction) gets accessorized with rainbow jimmies to form the innards- it’s firmer and much less sweet than boxed funfetti cake mix, and provides a strong base. The buttercream (adapted from Wicked Good Kitchen) starts with reducing a cup of rosé by half in a saucepan, then combined with powdered sugar, and whipped and whipped with a WHOLE POUND of butter. It’s a lovely buttercream that is not too cloyingly sweet, and has a nice subtle tang from the rosé (the alcohol cooks off during the first step, so be sure that this is family-friendly, as well). I opted to frost the cake semi-naked, which means that buttercream is applied just scantly to the sides- enough to fill in some nooks and crannies, and then is scraped off make a smooth surface all around the sides. It’s just like puttying a hole in the wall. Topping this cake is the fun part- use your imagination! Meringue cookies, pastel-colored french macarons, donuts, frosted animal cookies… you name it. I bought a pack of Little Debbie mini-donuts for $.79, dipped them in different colored icings, and sprinkled them. BOOM.
Well, er- I guess that’s it. If anyone really does follow this blog… please comment and say hello- I’d really like to get to know you!
- 3 3/4 c. sifted flour
- 3/4 t. baking powder
- 3/4 t. baking soda
- 1 t. salt
- 1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 3/4 c. granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 3 t. vanilla
- 1 1/2 c. buttermilk
- 3/4 c. rainbow jimmies
- 5 c. powdered sugar
- 1 c. Rosé or other blush wine (choose something fruity and less dry)
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- pink and yellow food coloring, optional
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Butter and lightly flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Beat the butter on high until creamy using stand-mixer or hand-mixer. Add the sugar and continue beating for 5 minutes. Reduce speed and add the whole eggs one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, allowing each addition to incorporate. Set batter aside.
- Using clean whisk or beaters, beat the egg whites until frothy and soft peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into cake batter. Finally, fold in the jimmies.
- Spread batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean from the middle. Allow cakes to cool completely- wrap and freeze if desired (see note section).
- Measure powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Cut butter into 1-inch chunks and set aside.
- Pour wine into a small saucepan and bring to a rapid boil. Cook until reduced to 1/2 c. (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat.
- Immediately after, turn your mixer on low speed and pour hot wine into mixing bowl in a slow and steady stream. Increase speed to medium and beat until the mixture comes down to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Add the salt.
- Reduce speed to low and gradually add in the butter chunks. Once all the butter is fully incorporated, increase speed to medium-high and continue beating until light and fluffy. Tint with food coloring, if desired.
- Frost however you'd like, then top with all the goodies your heart desires!
- Cake layers can be made ahead of time and frozen until needed. Wrap each layer individually with two layers of cling wrap.
- Frosting can also be made ahead. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, and re-beat just before using.
I’ve been making pork potstickers for family and friends for years- they have always been improvised and slightly unique each time, and I never wrote the recipe down until I prepared the little dumplins you see pictured before you. We took a long camping weekend up in Washington last month with some loved ones where I was reminded by Ben’s cousin Alex that I once made these potstickers for him several years ago, long before we all migrated to our respective corners of the Pacific Northwest. He told me emphatically that they were so delicious that he has since never forgotten about them. It warmed my heart! The whiskey helped, too.
My love language is food. This is in no small part due to warm and snuggly memories I have of making jello poke cake and elephant ears and cinnamon rolls with my grandma in her tiny kitchen as a wee lass. I like to think that love is evident in the foods I prepare (with the exception, perhaps, of these scones, which made me stabby). Potstickers, especially, are truly a labor of love- every comforting bite was once cradled gently in the hand of the person who lovingly crafted them, one-by-one. This is a very sly and sentimental way of disclosing to you that they are not fast to prepare, and there’s some technique to learn.
There are upsides to potstickers’ laborious, two-bite construction. They can be prepared in bulk for future convenience- I usually make about 100 at a time (double the recipe below). And they freeze just marvelously- that way whenever you need them, you can open your freezer and grab a handful or a lot. They don’t need to thaw and they take just ten minutes to fry/steam straight from the freezer, so you can have them for dinner, lunch, snack, elevenses, party-time (what is that), or whenever hunger strikes. I don’t exaggerate how quick and easy they are to heat up- I have been enjoying fresh, crunchy, and piping-hot potstickers on my hour lunch-break all week. I am living the dream, you guys!
Flavor-wise, these pork potstickers have got it all. Each dumpling is a magical parcel bursting at the seams with mouthwatering umami flavors of ground pork, shiitake mushrooms and sesame oil. They’re salty and spicy and crunchy and addicting, and you are going to love them. They’re perfectly complemented by the dipping sauce included with this recipe- sweet brown sugar, salty soy, and the zip of plenty of sambal oelek. Do not neglect to make the sauce- it comes together really fast on the stove and there’s plenty to keep in the fridge until your potsticker-stash is depleted.
So here it is! My very own pork potstickers- written down, at long last, hurled joyfully into the ether, so they can be shared and loved forever and ever, amen.
- 2 t. sesame oil
- 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and finely diced
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 t. freshly grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic, grated or minced
- 2 T. soy sauce
- 1 t. chili paste (sambal oelek or sriracha)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 c. coleslaw mix, roughly chopped to break up long pieces
- 2 T. cornstarch, divided (plus extra for dusting)
- 1/4 c. warm water
- 50-60 potsticker wrappers
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 1/4 c. water
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. soy sauce
- 2 t. sesame oil
- 1 T. chili paste
- Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced shiitakes and saute until softened. Set aside.
- Combine pork, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, chili paste, scallions, coleslaw mix, and 1 T. cornstarch in a large bowl. Add the shiitake mushrooms and work with your hands until everything is evenly incorporated. Refrigerate while you prepare to fold the potstickers.
- Mix together 1 T. cornstarch with warm water. Dust a large cookie sheet or tray liberally with cornstarch. Queue up Gilmore Girls on Netflix.
- Working over a clean cutting board, place a small spoonful (about 2 t.) of filling in the center of the wrapper. Dip a finger into the cornstarch slurry and apply around the edges of the wrapper. Fold the bottom and top edges over the middle of the filling, pinch together, and pleat the sides toward the center to seal. Place on the prepared cookie sheet, pleated edge pointing up, and repeat until out of filling.
- At this point, you can freeze the potstickers (see notes below) or cover with damp paper towels and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to cool.
- Grab your largest non-stick skillet and lid. Coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil and heat to medium-high. Arrange potstickers evenly in hot pan, pleats pointing up, leaving a little space between each one. Fry undisturbed for 5 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown.
- Pour in water and cover the pan. Steam for 5 minutes (or 7 minutes if frozen).
- Uncover and cook off the remaining water for 1 minute.
- Serve hot with dipping sauce.
- *Dipping sauce recipe yields about 10 oz. of sauce- reduce recipe if desired. It keeps great in the refrigerator.
- *If freezing the potstickers, it's best to freeze them on the cookie sheet covered loosely with cling wrap, and then you can transfer them to a ziplock bag when fully frozen- this keeps them separated so you can grab however many you want later. No need to thaw before using- just follow the directions as above and expect them to take a few extra minutes to brown on the bottom before steaming.
Suddenly, it’s late August. The Dog Days. Try as we might, it’s hard to hold onto these last few breaths of Summer, isn’t it? The signals are all around us- the corn’s drying up, the berries have gone to mush, and if you look to the edges of the sidewalk you might just see a few yellowed crunchy leaves, arriving embarrassingly early to the party. For those of us who live for Summer, it’s a sort of in-between time of grieving and desperation.
Whether you’re Team-Summer or Team-Autumn, I have just the cake to get you across this seasonal threshold. With its unexpected combination of juicy late-summer peaches with the warmth of whiskey and hazelnut, this peach upside-down cake is the perfect way to usher in a lovely Autumn season.
This whiskey, hazelnut and peach upside-down cake is an easy one to throw together. From the top (er, the bottom?) the cake begins with a quick butter and brown sugar stove-top caramel which is laced with a splash (okay, two) of whiskey, poured into the cake pan, and then topped with thinly sliced peaches. Roasted hazelnuts are blitzed briefly in the blender to form a coarse meal and then folded into a classic buttery cake batter, which gives this tender cake a lovely little crunch as well.
While the whole thing bakes the peaches caramelize and the whiskey caramel sauce bubbles up the sides of the cake, forming beautiful sticky pockets on the edges. The hazelnuts toast up further, and will fill your entire house with an aroma so heavenly as to gently coax any sleeping cohabitants willingly out of a late Sunday morning slumber. And they will expect to eat this for breakfast, by the way.
Be sure to let the cake rest for 15 minutes after you pull it out of the oven to let the cake settle a bit and adhere to the peach layer before unmolding. This cake is so effortlessly beautiful and incredibly, eye-rolling-ly, delicious that you might just find yourself telling Autumn to bring it on.
- 3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, divided
- 1/3 c. brown sugar
- 2 T. whiskey (bourbon or rye recommended)
- 2 medium peaches, thinly sliced
- 1 c. dry roasted (unsalted) hazelnuts, skins removed
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 c. flour
- 2 t. baking powder
- 1/4 c. milk
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat a metal 9" round cake pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Melt 4 T. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir until the mixture is bubbly. Remove from the burner and stir in the whiskey. The sauce will sizzle and bubble. Set the pan aside.
- Use your blender or food processor's pulse mode to chop the hazelnuts into an even meal, pausing to scrape the sides as needed. Do not blend too long or you'll have hazelnut butter!
- Beat together the remaining 1/2 c. of butter with the sugar using an electric hand or stand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, allowing to cream together thoroughly. Reduce your mixer's speed to low and add half of the flour, allowing to incorporate fully. Add milk, allowing to incorporate fully. Add rest of flour and the baking powder. Add hazelnut meal and mix thoroughly.
- Pour whiskey caramel sauce into cake pan, tipping the pan as needed to evenly coat. Lay your peach slices evenly on top in any design you'd like (I did mine in a spiral from the center).
- Using a rubber spatula, plop the cake batter evenly on top of the peaches and distribute, pressing gently so as to not disturb the peaches.
- Bake 35-45 minutes, or until cake tester comes out of center of cake clean.
- Cool for 15 minutes before unmolding onto a cake plate or stand.
- Once the cake is fully cooked, the whiskey becomes a subtle flavor note- this cake is family friendly when made as directed above. For a sassy adult version: After removing the cake from the oven, use a fork or chopstick to poke several holes into the cake. Slowly drizzle an additional 1/4 c. of whiskey over the surface of the cake. Allow to rest 15 minutes before unmolding.
Have you been to the farmers market lately? What a glorious bounty of magnificent produce we are graced with right now. Sour cherries! Figs! Rainbow carrots! Stone fruits galore! It is truly a great time to be alive and eating! Out of all of nature’s summer treasures, I anxiously await peaches and corn the most. Corn holds serious nostalgia for me as a native midwesterner- to me, it has always been a delicious signal that summertime is in full swing. And here we are. It’s late July, the corn stalks are well past knee-high, and caravans of peach trucks are making their way up from Georgia (actually, we have pretty good peaches in Oregon, too!).
At the intersection of peach season and corn season, you will find this remarkably tasty and addictive and mega-healthy sweet potato and black bean burrito bowl with fresh peach and corn salsa. I tried out this recipe from Cook Nourish Bliss last summer, and then I made it again and again and again, and then I pined for it all winter long. It has been waiting quietly on my blog post list since- I have been so wanting to share this recipe with you!
You’re going to love this burrito bowl because it has so many flavors and textures going for it- the soft and creamy charred sweet potato and black bean mixture brings heat, depth, and smoke while the juicy and crunchy peach-corn salsa counters that and offers relief from the spicy chipotle pepper. It’s all wrapped together with avocado (hopefully yours is greener than mine!) on the side and always-welcome cilantro lime rice. I think it’s the perfect counter-balance of both textures and flavors that makes this a slam-dunk. Oh yeah, and it’s vegan!
My only departure from the original recipe is that I take the avocado out of the salsa and put it on the side- this allows for the possibility of leftovers (however unlikely), without scummy brown avocado the next day. The salsa would be incredible on its own with chips!
- 1 c. brown rice, rinsed
- 1 3/4 c. water
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
- zest of 1 lime
- juice of 1 lime
- 3 medium peaches, chopped
- 2 ears fresh corn, raw, kernels removed
- 1/4 c. minced red onion
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 1/2 c. chopped cilantro
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 t. salt
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2" chunks (leave skin on, or peel- whatever you like)
- 1-2 T. minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (start with 1 T., adjust to your spice-preference)
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 c. vegetable broth
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 avocado, sliced
- Add rice, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 35 minutes.
- Remove from heat, leave covered, and let stand 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in the cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice just before serving.
- Mix peaches, raw corn kernels, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine then set aside.
- Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add onion and cook for a few minutes, until starting to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add sweet potatoes and chipotle peppers. Season everything with salt and pepper and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, tossing halfway through.
- Add the vegetable broth, stir, and re-cover. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are softened and caramelized. If skillet becomes dry, add another splash of broth.
- Add the black beans to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, or until beans are warmed through. Remove from heat.
- Portion the rice into four bowls. Top with sweet potatoes/beans, salsa, and avocado slices.
How is your summer going? Are you grilling out a lot? Are you wearing enough sunscreen? Did you go see the fireworks on Monday? Are you sitting in a stale, air-conditioned office from 8-5 every day wondering how it is that you have no recollection of June ever coming and going? So far I have found myself primarily in the latter scenario, but I am grateful to be on the cusp of a vacation. I’m drafting this post ahead of time as part of my pre-vaycay preps- but by the time this post auto-publishes and you read it, I should be (hopefully) floating carelessly on a lake, slathered in SPF 1000, and taking in some rural peace and quiet. We’re headed back to our place of origin, Wisconsin, where nobody does summer better. In anticipation of all the charred sausages and pasta salads and corn on the cob and snicker apple salad (google it) that I expect to subsist on for the week, I present this week’s dish: A bright and summery, yet creamy and comforting, pasta with fresh english peas, spinach, and a you-have-to-taste-it-to-believe-it raw vegan avocado basil cream sauce.
The sauce, adapted from Damn Delicious, truly could not be easier- you literally throw everything in a blender while the pasta is boiling and blitz until smooth. The peas and spinach join the pasta for the last few seconds in the pot, and then it’s all drained, then tossed with the sauce, and you’re done! What we have here is a 15 minute comfort meal, that doesn’t heat up the house, that doesn’t take a lot of prep, and is relatively healthy. Add this to your summer meal rotation… stat!
If you’re wondering where on earth to find fresh peas and you already missed the farmers market for the week, you can get them at Trader Joe’s, or you can use frozen (no shame in frozen peas!). Let’s see a close-up of those happy little peas!
- 8 oz. pasta (whatever is your favorite shape!)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- juice of 1 lemon (about 2 T. juice)
- 1/2 cup packed fresh basil
- 2 large avocados, peeled and pitted
- 1/2 c. hot pasta water (grab it while the pasta boils)
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1 c. fresh or frozen peas
- 2 c. fresh spinach leaves
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to directions.
- While the pasta boils, combine garlic, lemon juice, basil, and avocados in blender or food processor. Add a 1/2 c. of hot water from your pasta pot. Blend until smooth. While the blender is still going, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow stream. Set aside.
- Add the peas to the pasta pot for the last minute of cooking. Toss in spinach, stir, then drain pasta immediately.
- Return the pasta to the empty pot and add the sauce. Toss to combine and then serve.
- If there is one downside to this recipe, it is that leftovers do not store well. It is avocado, after all. Scale this up or down as needed!
Gosh golly, I have really been meaning to post this portobello banh mi for a while now. Perhaps life has gotten in the way a bit, and perhaps I just eat them way too fast whenever I make them. Who knows? (Me. I know.)
I inhaled my very first Vietnamese banh mi sandwich sometime around a year ago- I remember that it was from Lela’s Bistro on NW 23rd and it was filled with pork belly, which had beautiful and succulent layers of fat that first crackled and then melted in my mouth as I ate it (and then I melted). And then I decided that I would honestly prefer not to eat anything but banh mi sandwiches for the rest of my days. Since that fateful sandwich, I have been on a sort of banh mi tour of west Portland. In my mind, I collect data from each sandwich, mentally listing and frankenstein-ing and adding up to the perfect conceivable version.
On this journey I have concluded that the most crucial element that makes it or breaks it is not the meat in the sandwich, and it’s not the pickles or veggies- it’s the baguette! Since I started making my own banh mi at home, I have learned that the quickest way to ruin it is to use a good baguette. Those rustic, chewy, glutenous baguettes you find on the fancy side of the bakery by the olive bar are absolute garbage here. What’s needed is something with a tender, yielding crumb and a thin, crackling crust. Go for the cheap, yellow-ish, shiny-crusted second-cousin of a baguette, over by the donuts. A lot of my favorite things are found by the donuts. Mainly, other donuts.
While traditional Vietnamese banh mi are most often stuffed with pate and some form of charred pork product (though fusions stuffed with Korean bulgogi and kimchi are equally amazing), and while I certainly enjoy eating the meaty varieties, I prepare my own meatless rendition at home to cut down on cost, fat, and effort. I once again employ the mighty portobello mushroom as a very acceptable stand-in for the meat, and honestly, I find it just as much of a pleasure to eat. Thick slices of portobello are marinated in soy, fish sauce, and a few other flavors and then oven roasted. The warm strips are stuffed into a soft baguette, along with mayo, quick-pickled carrot, cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro. The whole thing tastes marvelously fresh and balanced, with a wonderful variety of textures and colors.
Definitely licked some mayo off my lens focus ring during this shoot, by the way.
- 2 large portobello caps (look for firm and thick)
- 1/2 c. water
- 3 T. soy sauce
- 2 T. rice vinegar
- 2 T. brown sugar
- 1 T. fish sauce
- 1 T. sesame oil
- 1 t. ground ginger
- 1/2 t. liquid smoke
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 carrot, peeled into ribbons with veggie peeler
- 1/2 c. warm water
- 2 T. rice vinegar
- 1 T. sugar
- 1 t. salt
- 1 cucumber, 1/4" julienne strips
- 1 scallion, cut to 4" lengths, then julienne
- handful cilantro, torn
- 2 6" pieces soft baguette (or 2 baguette rolls), sliced open
- sriracha or hot pepper slices (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375. Trim stems from mushroom caps, then slice caps into 1/2" strips. Place in a large glass baking dish in an even (if not single) layer.
- Whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, fish sauce, sesame oil, ginger, liquid smoke, and red pepper flakes. Pour over the mushroom slices.
- Bake 10 minutes. Flip, bake another 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Using a colander, carefully drain off all liquid, then return mushroom slices to baking dish in an even layer. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes, or until browned.
- Place carrot ribbons in a jar or storage container.
- Whisk together the water, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Pour over carrot ribbons. Set aside.
- Spread a thin layer of mayo all over the inside of each baguette. Add sriracha if you want!
- Fill baguettes with warm portobello slices, pickled carrots, cucumbers, green onions, and cilantro.
- Any remaining carrot pickles will keep in the fridge for up to a week- they'll get more pickle-y the longer they sit.