Exciting news! My first real piece of food writing is out in the world 🙂 Yes, I published a couple of food tours, but this is genuine food writing with narrative arc and I am so thrilled!
I wrote about gardening as a kid, opening a restaurant and my first soup…Butternut Squash Bisque. I am so proud to have my work in this publication. It is small, New England-based and wow am I in the company of some amazing writers.
Please read it, let me know what you think, try the recipe and share your favorite soup memories in the comments 🙂
I love a cake that is only a few ingredients and cooks all in one pan…and is decadently chocolate. I have ordered Molten Lava Cakes out at restaurants, but since I am not going to restaurants right now, what better time to try one at home. I saw this one on Williams Sonoma Instagram and made a few adjustments.
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used Ghirardelli)
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
6 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted…plus more for dusting
3 egg whites, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly butter six ramekins and dust with cocoa powder. Set the ramekins on a small baking sheet.
In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the pan over but not touching barely simmering water in the bottom pan and melt the chocolate and butter, then whisk until the mixture is glossy and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.
In the bowl of your stand mixer with whisk attachment, or a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, 3 Tbs. of the sugar, and cocoa powder on medium-high speed until thick. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture and beat until well blended. The mixture will be thick and somewhat grainy looking. Detach bowl from stand mixer if using, set aside.
In a separate bowl, using clean mixer whisk or beaters, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they are very foamy and thick. Sprinkle in the remaining 3 Tbs. sugar and increase the speed to high. Continue beating until firm, glossy peaks form. You can tell they are ready when you detach whisk, turn upside down and peaks stay firm.
Spoon half of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture and fold in just blended. Add the remaining whites and fold gently until just blended. Spoon into the prepared ramekins, dividing evenly.
Bake the cakes until they are puffed and the tops are cracked, about 25-30 minutes. The inside of the cracks will look very wet. Remove from the oven and serve immediately in the ramekins.
**I had some leftover cakes and refrigerated. They were delicious the next day after just 30 seconds in the microwave.
Tip: If you want something perfect to accompany this, I served it with a scoop of Helados La Neta, a handcrafted ice cream inspired by flavors of Mexico. I served the Horchata flavor, and just wow!
Still at this remake recipes into a healthier version initiative. I love stuffed peppers- the roasted, smoky taste of the pepper filled with a bounty of seasonal veggies diced small, hearty ground lamb, homemade tomato sauce all topped with a crispy layer of melty cheese on top. Delicious. But, not the most healthy option for dinner. This week I took one of my fave versions of stuffed peppers (inspired by Food52), and made some swap-outs to make it less carby and fatty.
As with any of my recipes, you could sub whatever protein you like- tofu, ground beef, ground chicken- whatever suits you. The big game changer is swapping out the orzo for cauliflower rice. I am not here to say cauliflower rice is the tastiest thing in the world, but like other foodstuffs, it adopts the flavors you pair it with. Really it just becomes another veggie that serves to bulk up your dish. Also, I use halloumi cheese (highly rec if you have not tried), but an easy switch is bulb mozzarella. This recipe makes 3 full peppers.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 (14.5-oz) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
10 ounces riced cauliflower
1 1/4 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3 bell peppers (I used yellow)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup roughly chopped parsley leaves, loosely packed
8 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into ½ inch dice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Add the canola oil to a large skillet and set over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the ground turkey and season with ½ teaspoon of salt. Let the turkey cook undisturbed for about 30 seconds to develop some caramelization, then break the meat into small crumbles.
Add the onion and another ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook the onion and turkey together for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly. When the onion begin caramelize, add the garlic, and cook until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the tomatoes (including their juice) and another ¼ teaspoon of salt, and the riced cauliflower. The water content from the content will cook off as you continue to saute. Once liquid has reduced and riced cauliflower is combined with mixture, turn off heat.
Heat the oven to 450°F. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Use a paring knife or spoon to remove all seeds, and trim white pith inside the pepper. Arrange the peppers cut-side up on a rimmed sheet pan lined with foil. Drizzle the peppers with olive oil and season each one with a pinch of salt. Roast for 25 minutes.
While those are in the oven, roughly chop the parsley and add to the turkey mixture, along with the halloumi and lemon juice. Stir to combine, then taste and adjust with more salt as necessary.
Remove the peppers from the oven after they have roasted for 25 minutes. Evenly divide the filling between the roasted peppers. Return the sheet pan to the oven, and cook for 15 minutes, until the peppers look slightly charred and the cheese is melty.
I had a fair amount of filling left. I put it in some tupperware and for the next two days heated up the filling and cooked an over easy egg to put on top. It made the perfect breakfast, and I think the runny yolk added even more dimension to an already delicious dish!
Check out some of my other healthy dinner remakes:
I bought a new cookbook during my time at home cooking like a demon. I follow the Insta account What’s Gaby Cooking and love her stories- she is personable, down to earth, and her recipes are very approachable for the home cook. The cookbook is gorgeous! I have been wanting to try out a recipe and this weekend presented an opportunity. We are kind of sick of #sheetpan dinners, and I have been playing around with pickling, so I decided to try out her Bahni Mi Meatballs with a few variations to make them healthier.
For the Meatballs (makes 9 good-sized)
1tablespoon freshginger, peeled and minced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons ginger miso marinade (I bought at Fresh Market in refrigerated section)
1/4 cuppanko bread crumbs
1 1/2poundground pork
1 jalapeno, minced (deseed it if you don’t want spice)
For the “Rice”
1 10 oz. bag of riced cauliflower (you can find in freezer section)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine pork, garlic, ginger, scallions, miso, soy sauce, panko, and jalapeno in a large bowl
Mix well, and refrigerate for 30 minutes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a sheet pan with parchment paper
Remove meatball mix from refrigerator and form 9 good-sized balls. Cook them for about 20 minutes, or until internal temp reads 150 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to rest (they will come up another 10 degrees while resting)
While meatballs rest, heat oil in a skillet over medium. Saute shallots with a little salt and pepper until translucent, and then put riced cauliflower in. Do not add water! Saute riced cauliflower until it absorbs oil and starts to brown a little on bottom (kind of like fried rice)
You can serve this with a variety of sides. I made some homemade quick pickles and roasted some baby bok choy. The bowl was delicious, low carb, and filling! This recipe made enough for two nights of meatballs. I made another round of cauliflower rice for night two.
I challenged myself to write along with the community participating in #1000wordsofsummer to help kickstart a working draft of my food memoir and establish a regular writing routine. It is day eight and I have hit my goal every day.
The hard part of this has been facing the realization that most of the first draft of my book was trash. Jenny Bent was kind to me when she sent my rejection letter a decade ago…too kind. Most of my writing time these past eight days has been salvaging a sentence or two to bounce off and completely rewriting the rest. I had 90 pages plus another 42 of recipes to start. I am now at 22,739 words which is roughly 88 pages. I think I probably saved about 12 pages of original content and the rest is new. I feel good about where the narrative is going. It is much more raw and honest, but that is what it needed to be from the start. It is hard writing some of these moments though- it is a lot of me coming to terms with things I have pushed down for years.
Now that I have a good chunk of story, I need to get to work on recipes. I am terrible at writing down what I do in the kitchen. I sort of just throw things in, taste, adjust, serve. I need to make the recipes something a novice could follow successfully. My husband has gladly volunteered to be the tester 🙂 He will taste the product I make, give me feedback. then make it following my directions and compare the end products. He is a usability engineer so I am a lucky girl.
The list is lengthy. Follow along as we navigate recipe testing while #shelteringinplace with no escape from each other. First up: pickled vegetables and pimento cheese spread.
I know we are in the midst of possible food shortages, and thinking about healthier choices is probably the last thing on people’s mind, but I just had my annual wellness visit complete with blood panels, and my cholesterol is a little worrisome. I have this amazing P.A. who explained to me it is not necessarily fat in our diet that is the culprit with cholesterol…it is the dreaded carbs. What is a baker, and wine drinker to do? He gave me three months to “fix” things. I am taking it seriously. One of our go-to meals is pizza. We love ordering pizza from our favorite local spot, and we also love to make it at home. Enter cauliflower crust.
I will say it was a little difficult to acquire both kinds, but I wanted to see and taste the difference before we committed to this change in our menu. The contenders? Green Giant and Caulipower. I bought the boxes that came with two crusts just in case they were too small. Nutrition-wise, they are pretty fungable. From straight numbers on the box it does not look like that, but you have to look at serving size.
Speaking of serving size, the Green Giant was significantly smaller. The crusts also came wrapped together rather than separately like the Caulipower. I like that you still have a crust in the cache that is protected from freezer burn. Caulipower wins for size and storability.
Green Giant prepped for bake
Green Giant post bake
On the topic of texture, it is hard to say. This will be an individual choice. The Green Giant is softer and slightly more porous when baked. The Caulipower is crispy out of the oven- almost like a cracker crust. For me, it was the Caulipower. It absorbed less moisture from toppings and I could eat with my hands whereas the Green Giant I needed a fork.
Caulipower prepped for bake
Caulipower post bake
Cook time and oven temperature are exactly the same. This one’s a draw.
Neither one tasted like homemade pizza dough, but I did not expect that. Overall, it is an easy swap out to help us be healthier. Now, if I could just stop baking 🙂
The Ingredients for Greek Pizza Night:
That stuff in the tupperware is left over chickpea shawarma…use what is in your fridge, you won’t regret it!
Sheet pan dinners are super easy, but they can get boring if we are always roasting up chicken and vegetables. This week I went on a Cuban-inspired cooking spree. My family loves Cuban food. We mourned when our only Cuban restaurant in Roanoke shuttered its doors a few years ago. It was one of those places you could go enjoy tasty dishes like ropa vieja, cassava, and cilantro-forward black beans and rice. Miss that place. I blogged about my love of it in a previous post, Hot Time in Roanoke.
For this spin on sheet pan dinner, I went with mojo meatballs. A post from Bon Appetit inspired this meal. I didn’t stop there though- I made some scratch Tostones, and black beans and rice like Havana Cafe used to make. It was a little more labor-intensive than the usual sheet pan dinner, but so worth it! It does require some specialty items for the store, but you can help yourself by buying a bottled Mojo sauce- I like Badia.
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 large egg
⅔ cup panko (You could also use any other type of breadcrumbs you have in the pantry)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ancho chili powder
1 Tbsp olive oil,
3 garlic cloves, grated if you have a microplane, otherwise finely chopped
2 serrano chiles, minced (deseed if you want to lower spice level)
1 lb ground pork
2 vidalia onions, cut into wedges
dash of salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 500° and cover a sheet pan with foil
In a mixing bowl, combine pork, cilantro, egg, panko, spices, olive oil, grated garlic and minced serranos
Using your hands, mix until just coming together- don’t overwork the pork
Toss onions with 1 Tbsp. oil on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper
Roast in preheated oven until you see some brown charring, about 15 minutes
Remove onions from oven and spread to perimeter of pan. Form your meatballs, should be about 8, and place in center of pan
Roast until meatballs are firm to touch, about 15 minutes- you can temp if you want and pull at 165 degrees
Meanwhile as the meatballs are roasting, let’s get those tostones going….
5 plantains (I like them pretty green)
Canola oil for frying
A large plate for smashing
Heat oil in a large, deep pan
Peel and cut plantains into 1-2 inch chunks
***Tip***To peel a plantain, cut off the ends and make a slit down the center of the peel. Crack that slit open and work your fingers down the body of plantain as skin separates from flesh.
Fry plantains in oil for about 3 minutes per side and remove to a paper towel
Using a plate, or other item at your disposal, smah down on plantains so they look like weirdly-shaped pancakes and return them to the oil for crisping
Flip after about 1 minute and immediately season with salt as you remove them (these are really good the first night, but a little tough the second night- they make a delicious hash)
Black Beans & Rice
I went the easy way on these since the tostones were a little time-consuming.
I like Rice Select products, and their Texmati rice is delicious. I made one serving of rice, and followed the directions on the container. You couold also use minute rice, riced cauliflower, or whatever you like best.
For the black beans, I am a Goya fan, but again use what you like. I opened a can, threw them in a microwave-safe bowl, and added 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon, dried cilantro, and 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder. I microwaved them for a minute, added salt and pepper and voila, easy black beans!
If you are feeling ambitious, you can make mojo sauce from scratch. I like this recipe. But, if you are not, buy yourself a bottle of Badia Mojo and drizzle over top of meatballs and BBNR…nom, nom!
I know personally, I love cooking, but I am tired! Fatigue for me = sheet pan dinners 🙂 Hard to believe, but I have never tried Gochujang paste before. It is a Korean chili paste that is absolutely delicious! This week I tried out a sheet pan dinner with Gochujang as the season base. Luckily, I have some pretty adventurous eaters at home, and they were willing participants in my little experiment. I found inspiration for this in the NYT Quarantine Cooking series. Original recipe by Yawande Komolafe can be found here. I used root vegetables, but you could easily switch this out for brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, or whatever is coming out of all those abundant gardens sprouting up. This will serve 6 people or make a multi-night meal for 3.
4teaspoons soy sauce
1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (this may be difficult if you do not have a microplane, you can just thinly slice)
3tablespoons canola oil
2pounds butternut squash, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces ( the original recipe calls for unpeeled, but I like to peel mine)
1pound turnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
I bunch scallions, trimmed (I cut the white up until it started getting green to char on top and reserved the green ends for the pickle)
****Generally, I buy 1 full leg per adult, and add a couple of thighs in for the extra hungry
1bunch radishes, very thinly sliced (much easier with a mandoline, but a steady hand always works)
2tablespoons rice vinegar
1tablespoon sesame oil (this gives it a VERY earthy flavor, it is optional)
Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the gochujang, soy sauce, ginger and 3 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl or resealable bag.
Add the squash, turnips and scallion whites, toss to coat with glaze, or seal bag and shake to coat. Lightly season with salt and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
Rinse and pat dry chicken. Season the chicken with salt and toss to coat in remainder of the glaze. Arrange the chicken pieces skin-side up between the vegetables on the sheet.
Roast until vegetables are tender, chicken is about 165 degrees, about 50 minutes. Turn on the broiler and crisp the chicken and veg until brown in spots- probably 5-10 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, thinly slice the scallion greens. Using a sharp knife or a mandoline, cut the radishes into thin rounds. In a small bowl, toss the sliced scallion greens and radishes with the rice vinegar and sesame oil, if using. Season to taste with salt and set aside to lightly pickle.
Top the roast chicken and vegetables with the quick-pickled scallion-radish mix and transfer to serving plates.
I used chicken, but I think this would be equally delicious with pork chops. As meat becomes scarcer, you could also try this out with tofu, or maybe even Halloumi. It is a little spicy, but totally tasty!
I never use pre-made mixes…for anything…but in times like these, a girl has got to relent. My daughter loves my Tigerlily Cake- a mashup of orange and chocolate cakes topped with rich chocolate ganache. It is also one of my go-to potluck desserts because well, it’s super yummy!
Originally I posted about this delicious cake when I made it for my department meeting before I retired. Now that Liv is home from college and sheltering in place with us, an opportunity to dust this one off presented itself. This time my supply pantry was getting a little sparse, and it seems everyone out there is looking for easy, quick desserts. I caved and bought a yellow cake mix and a dark chocolate cake mix.
I used Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix with a couple of hacks.
Swap out the liquid for fresh squeezed orange juice- I took me two oranges, and I used the zest in the batter for extra orangeiness.
Add one extra egg
Switch out melted butter for oil
Mix it up and pour into a nonstick bundt pan you have sprayed or buttered.
Now time for the chocolate cake. I used the Betty Crocker Super Moist Triple Chocolate Fudge mix.
Again, I modded it… a little. Also, I did not even rinse the standmixer bowl so the chocolate cake gets a boost of orange as well.
Add one extra egg yolk
Switch out melted butter for oil
Switch out milk for water
The super easy, no special equipment method for chocolate ganache. All you need is a good-sized glass measuring cup 🙂 and a few ingredients.
12 oz. good chocolate (I like Ghirardelli Dark chips)
1/2 cup heavy cream (adjust as needed for smooth consistency)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Put everything in the measuring cup and microwave. You just want the cream to warm and the chocolate to soften.
Stir and pour glaze over finished cake.
Here is the original post with from scratch recipes for when you have more time and supplies.
After a short trip to the store for ingredient acquisition, we donned our aprons and got to work. Tigerlily cake is a blend of two different cake flavors- orange and chocolate. Some people have aversions to this combo, but we love it. We mix up the orange cake first- it is really a fabby yellow cake with fresh squeezed orange juice substituted for the liquid and heaping teaspoons of orange zest. I do this one first because when you assemble, it goes in the pan first and there is the added bonus you can use the same mixing bowl and it will just lend the chocolate a complimentary profile. I adapted the wonderful yellow cake recipe I got from Smitten Kitchen for the orange cake. Liv did all the measuring and mixing while I prepped the pans with butter and preheated the oven. I love the way a kitchen smells when you zest an orange- fresh and reminiscent of walking the groves in Florida.
2 cups plus 1 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
Juice of one large orange, fresh squeezed
2 teaspoons orange zest (zest over batter bowl to capture oils from peel)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk (I like Homestead Creamery)
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
At low speed, beat in buttermilk, orange juice and zest until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
Once you have that mixed up, pour into your prepared Bundt pan.
The orange cake is lighter and will rise to the top while baking. This will give the cake its flowery appearance with the two cakes colors merging.
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ( I like roasted Saigon)
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cayenne and salt in a separate medium bowl.
Using the paddle attachment for your mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla.
At low speed, beat in half the flour mixture. Alternate beating in the sour cream with the flour mixture until all is incorporated.
Layer into the Bundt pan by pouring around middle of orange batter. I like to use a chopstick to swirl the batter. The chocolate batter will immediately start to move to the bottom revealing the orange batter.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine is old and finnicky so I check when we hit the 35 minute mark. You want it to rise so don’t be afraid. It is done when a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then invert onto your cake carrier to await ganache. After the cake is inverted, I like to squeeze another orange around the top of the cake. This adds that extra level of moistness and infuses more of the orange flavor throughout.
Now it’s time for the ganache. Ganache can be super easy as long as you pay attention to it. You don’t want to breakdown the chocolate so much that it becomes grainy. You want a smooth topping to spread on you luscious cake.
12 oz. good chocolate (I like Ghirardelli Dark chips)
1/2 cup heavy cream (adjust as needed for smooth consistency)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Bring water to a boil in a double boiler.
Add chocolate to top of double boiler. Stir to ensure chocolate melts but does not seize.
Once the chocolate was pretty melty, add the heavy cream and cinnamon. Once it melds, remove from heat and allow to cool a couple minutes before ladling it on the cake.
Needless to say, the cake was enjoyed by all and Liv has one more recipe in her arsenal!
One of my favorite blogs to read is Dinner: A Love Story. If you have not checked it out, get over there right now! Beyond their great content and beautiful words, their series, “Project, Pantry, Purpose” has been a balm to my currently chaotic mind. Reading and writing have been a struggle since the pandemic bloomed, and it is moments like these that remind me how important writing is to connect us all as human beings. Here is the link to the archive of the series. Take a moment to virtually thumb through…there is poetry, beautiful food, and wisdom about getting through.
Good morning! Another unseasonably cold one in New York, but the sun is out, so I will take it. Yesterday I crossed something off my to-do list that I think might hold the world record for Longest Time Ever Spent on a To-Do List: I sent ten first-day-of-school photos to Shutterfly to make prints. Like…