Time for Savory.

Most the time my week involves simple food: thick slices of crusty bread, smeared with avocado and sprinkled with coarse salt. A toasted sandwich. Roasted root vegetables. A quick soup puréed with whatever I can find on hand, adding meat or legumes if I’m feeling the need for something a little heartier. An easy salad with poached egg. Green smoothies and the like.
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Lately I’ve been more interested in creating sweets that I almost need an excuse to make something outside of my usual repertoire.
Rhubarb-Pear Tart with Almond Crumble

Rhubarb-Pear Tart with Almond Crumble

This’ll go on for some time. When I start to worry that I’ve forgotten how to cook, I’ll open my books and my refrigerator and glean inspiration, usually starting with the latter and ending with the former. This weekend, I was celebrating a friend’s birthday and wanted to bring something interesting and delicious to share. I had this beautiful bulb of fennel, and I knew that would be the genesis of my creation.


As per usual, I set out on my run and let things percolate. I found myself thinking about the kale, and dried apricots at home, just waiting for something purposeful. I imagined a weaving them into a salad of hearty grains and a silky-sweet-tart vinaigrette.
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And so on the way home, I picked up a package of farro and went from there. For those unaware, farro is hearty variant of wheat berry, with origins in Northern Italy. It is similar to barley in appearance; chewy, nutty and yet surprisingly light. It adds great depth and body to soups and is fantastic in grain-based salads.
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I loosely based this recipe off another inspired recipe from Ottolenghi that calls for roasting fennel and red onion prior to folding into a warm, rice or quinoa-based salad. It seems this recipe has gone through several adaptations, and so I feel comfortable calling this one my own, however for the original post in Cardamom can be found, here.
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This salad is fantastic when served at room temperature, and even better the next day, when the flavors have had married together a bit. I was witty enough to steal a bowl away for myself before sharing, and was glad to do so, as there was none left when I was making my way home. Now that, friends, is the sign of a good dish! I can only imagine this dish would be even better by roasting fresh apricots along with the fennel and onion.
Enjoy, and much love,
Roasted Fennel and Apricot Salad with Farro

Roasted Fennel and Apricot Salad with Farro

Roasted Fennel and Apricot Salad with Farro
*Note: Soaking the farro for an hour or so will reduce the cooking time a bit. Otherwise, be prepared to wait an hour or more to put it all together. Likewise, if the apricots are too firm, give them a quick soak in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then drain.
1 c farro
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, sliced about 1/4-in thick
1 large red onion, sliced about 1/4-in thick
4-5 lacinato (flat) kale leaves; sliced into ribbons
1 large handful cilantro, chopped roughly
1/2 c dried apricots (I prefer Turkish, because they are generally softer), cut into quarters
1/3 c chopped walnut
For the vinaigrette:
2 tbsp olive oil
juice and zest of one lemon
1 tsp ginger paste, or 1 tsp grated ginger and a pinch of sugar
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt
  1. Boil Farro for ~60 minutes in a large pot with 1 tsp salt and ~5 cups water until al dente (for quick-cooking farro, prepare according to package directions). Drain and let cool slightly
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
  3. Toss fennel and onion in 2 tbsp of the olive oil and a smatter of salt. Spread onto baking sheet and roast for ~40 minutes, giving a turn about 20-30 minutes through, the latter if you want a more charred effect. Let cool slightly, then scrape into a large bowl.
  4. Place kale ribbons on baking sheet and set in warm oven for about 5 minutes. It doesn’t need to be on; you just want to wilt and toast it a bit. Remove from oven and add to onion/fennel mixture.
  5. Make vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients; whisk. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.
  6. Add farro, walnuts and apricots to roasted vegetables; toss with vinaigrette. Fold in cilantro and adjust seasonings as needed.


Aiming for Perfection.

It’s no secret that I love a good cake. Or a cookie, or a pie. When I’d happened upon a recipe for a ricotta-based cake recently, I had to try it. I am a huge fan of ricotta cheesecake, and after making several flour-based cakes with yogurt or buttermilk, I had no doubt that incorporating ricotta into a cake would result in something rich, moist and luxurious. I fantasized about it for days and proceeded to make it over Mother’s day weekend (you’ll find a in image of the finished product in my last post).


Berry Tartlets with Lemon Curd

Berry Tartlets with Lemon Curd

While the flavor was superb, especially alongside freshly-made mango sorbet, I was not pleased with the consistency. I was craving a cake with a firmer crumb, one would pair well with a velvety cup of black coffee or tea.


Needless to say, I was sucked into the vortex of time by other responsibilities (and not to mention, tartlets!). I’d nearly forgotten about the cake until last Sunday. After a leisurely day spent with friends, I was gifted with a jar of grapefruit marmalade, made by my most fabulous and talented friend, Lisa. The peel was candied to the point of jewel-like perfection; the fruit bathed in bitter-sweet syrupy goodness. At that moment, thoughts of a Ricotta and Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit Marmalade began swirling about in my head.
I’m rather pleased with the consistency. Dense, but with a delicate spring, the cake pulled easily away from the pan’s edges and turned the most glorious of nut-brown. The cornmeal gave it just the right amount of toothsome crunch I was hoping for, and kept the cake appropriately moist. Dots of marmalade tucked into the batter gave it a flirty and sweet astringency, however what brought it all together was the marmalade syrup that was drizzled on top while still warm.
I’d meant to reserve a slice for photographing, however this cake didn’t make it more than two days. Needless to say, I received many accolades and had to restrain myself from buying more ricotta at the grocery this afternoon.
Grapefruit Marmalade

Grapefruit Marmalade

Enjoy, and much love,
Ricotta and Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit Marmalade
10 tbsp butter
3/4 c sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
3 eggs, separated
1 c ricotta, drained of excess water
1/2 c unbleached white flour
1/4 c cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 c grapefruit marmalade
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Generously butter a medium-sized bundt pan, or an 8-inch round pan.
In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients. set aside.
Combine butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Cream for 2-3 minutes, until light, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Add egg yolks, one at a time, then add ricotta and lemon zest.
Mix in dry ingredients with a few swift turns. Be cautious not to over-mix.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until firm, but not dry. Fold into batter.
Pour about half of the batter into pan. Drop spoonfuls of marmalade onto batter, then cover with remaining batter.
Insert a skewer or the handle of a spoon into batter and swirl slightly to incorporate the marmalade; smooth top of batter.
Bake for ~50 minutes, until cake is set and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Remove from oven; cool on rack for ~10 minutes then invert.
While cake is cooling, quickly warm 2 tbsp of marmalade with 1 tsp of honey. Pour over inverted cake.
**Note: this cake keeps well on the counter for 1-2 days, or in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, one can imagine.
I didn’t find the need to test that theory.

Building a Better Bar, Mother’s Day, and Other Musings.

I’ve been a bit remiss and have let more time pass then I would have preferred in-between posts. However, in the midst of a sea of change, I allowed myself to be swept into the currents and just experience life for a bit. Needless to say, two weeks flew by and frankly, with the Sun flirting with us North-westerners the way it has been lately, I much prefer being outdoors to propping myself up behind a computer.
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I spent this past weekend on Camano Island, getting immersing myself in family and in nature. It’s incredible how clear everything sounds when one gets away from city noise. I become so acclimated that the horns, sirens, cars, and conversion become a din in the background; urban white noise.
After just one day, my senses were heightened, I could make out woodpecker, owl, crow, starling and finch song. The wind carried the scent of lilacs, among other things. I had the faintest perception of smoke, with no visible sign to accompany it. Rays of sunshine reflecting off rippled wate, like little gold medallions. My heart was full, and I was content.
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My mother and I both enjoy spending time in the kitchen, so a decent portion of the weekend was spent preparing, and enjoying food.
My beautiful mother, back in the 60's.

My beautiful mother, back in the 60’s.

Mom's Green Smoothie

Mom’s Green Smoothie


Ricotta Cake with Mango Sorbet

Ricotta Cake with Mango Sorbet

Sugared Petals

Sugared Petals

I’m am amazed at the vast array of energy bars available these days. I’m not generally a fan, as they always seems bit heavy and I’d rather eat a meal than a meal substitute. Occasionally however, I’ll pick one up out of curiosity, or just plain hunger.  Sometimes they’re surprisingly good, however more often they are purchased as a requisite to remedy one of my hypoglycemic meltdowns. It is with careful tongue I say I have never been enthusiastic about them, either in the moment or otherwise.
Cherry Chocolate Energy Bars (AKA: The Mega)

Cherry Chocolate Energy Bars (AKA: The Mega)

If I do decide to grab a bar, I always read the ingredients to ensure they are ingredients I recognize. The one that appealed to me most recently promised the satisfactory equivalent of a “full bowl of hearty oatmeal”. I was pleased to read the list of ingredients and find no added sugar. I love sugar, clearly, however I’d much rather eat it deliberately, in a decadent dessert, rather than try to pass it off as breakfast.
My mother and I decided to make our own equivalent, and the results were not too shabby. I’ve been taking one to work with me daily as a rescue for when I am super swamped and liable of melting before lunchtime, or as a quick source of fuel prior to a run. The nice thing about home-made energy bars is that they are highly adaptable and can be modified based on what is available in the pantry. Our pantry was fairly well stocked, however it would be relatively straightforward to swap one ingredient for another, or to use one seed/nut variety, rather than several to simplify things a bit. I used whey protein, however it would be reasonable to substitute a plant-based protein, if desired. This bar is jam-packed with good healthy fats and protein, and delivers a sustainable energy. Add to that, it tastes good as well.
Oh! And don’t worry; I’ve always got something sweet in the works.
Caramel Milk Jam

Caramel Milk Jam

Enjoy, and much love,
Cherry Chocolate Energy Bars (AKA: The Mega)
1 c oats

3/4 c seeds (chia, hemp, sesame)
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used a combination of cherries and raisins)
1/2 c cashews
1/4 c cacao (cocoa powder)
1/4 c protein powder
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
2 oz dark chocolate, chopped
3-4 tablespoons water, as needed
  1. Combine all ingredients except chopped chocolate and water in a food processor.
  2. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until mixture is just starting to come together. Stir in chopped chocolate.
  3. Press into a 9×9 pan, or other mould and chill.
  4. Cut into bars. Refrigerate for up 2-3 weeks, or freeze for several months.

Getting All Peachy.

The weather was ridiculously gorgeous this last week felt like summer was nipping at my heels. People were running about Seattle scantily clad, with sun-kissed cheeks, among other things.
And all I could think about was peaches.
Well, not entirely, but more specifically I was dreaming up what I could do with the sublimely juicy, rose and golden-hued orbs. I dreamt of peach crisp, peach cobbler, peach pie, peach ice cream…
However, finding fresh peaches worth eating this time of year is pretty much unheard of. Remlinger Farms sells pristine sliced peaches that can be enjoyed any time of year. Needless to say, I purchased a 3-lb bag.
When I’d mentioned this to a little Kiwi, who was planning to spend the day with me, she responded with “Peaches! I Love Peaches!”, in her most delightful New Zealand accent. It rang through my ears for the next several days as I thought on about dessert.
I’d initially planned to make a peach pie with cornmeal crust, as I’ve been so happy with the resultant pastry and crumb, however I was feeling like I wanted something a bit more cake-like in consistency, so when the recipe for Cory Schrieber and Julie Richardson’s Rhubarb Buckle with Ginger Crumb, I knew it would be the perfect template for my fruit.
I changed a few things up, substituting whole milk yogurt for the buttermilk. I grated fresh ginger into the batter, mainly because I was out of powdered, and had a bit of fresh on hand. I prefer fresh ginger whenever possible anyway, so it was a fruitful trade. Reducing the sugar a bit to account for the sweetness of the peaches really drew attention to the crunchy, buttery, spicy sweet ginger topping.
And the aroma!  A giant beckoning cloud of peachy-ginger goodness!
This buckle would be most excellent with a bit of fresh whipped cream, and easily justified as breakfast with a dollop of plain yogurt.
Enjoy, and much love,
Peach Rhubarb Ginger Buckle
Adapted generously from Cory Schrieber and Julie Richardson’s 
Rhubarb Buckle with Ginger Crumb
1 1/2 c unbleached pastry flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 c unbleached cane sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 2 tsp freshly-grated ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 pound peaches sliced and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 pound rhubarb, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
For the crumble:
1/4 c finely chopped candied ginger
1/4 c flour
1/3 c granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan; set aside
  3. Prepare crumble by mixing all four ingredients together roughly; set in freezer
  4. Prepare the cake: mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside
  5. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and airy; ~3-5 minutes
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating fully
  7. Add ginger and vanilla, beat well
  8. Fold in fruit with a few swift turns of the batter; pour into prepared pan
  9. Remove topping from freezer, break apart with fork and crumble over batter
  10. Bake for until golden and set, ~50-55 minutes
  11. Remove from oven; let cool on rack for ~10 minutes before releasing from pan
  12. Serve warm, or at room temperature