All the citrus, all the time

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Helloooo! Happy Friday :)

I have lemon for you today! Because I still haven’t gotten tired of the citrus theme – winter weather and citrus are just made for each other. Besides that, meyer lemons are perfect right now and I’d be crazy not to get on that (again).

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We’re also enjoying a break in the rain — though I do love rainy weather, it’s good to dry out a little in between and enjoy the sun. Today is absolutely beautiful: sunny weather for sunny dessert!

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I caught one of the brightest rainbows I’ve ever seen during the last rains!

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More SF series, of course:

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But, back to dessert…

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I made torta di riso a few years back with blood oranges — this riff uses meyer lemons instead for a taste that is very citrus-forward. I love any rice based desserts so this is an easy sell for me, but regardless – the rice has a great chewy texture that contrasts nicely with the airy, eggy custard.

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This cake is Tuscan in origin I believe, and is usually described as a rice custard cake – completely appropriate. It’s lighter and fluffier than a baked rice pudding, but still has that all-important chewy rice-ness. Excellent for breakfast, if I do say so.

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A heads up – this is not for those who aren’t a fan of citrus or who prefer very sweet desserts! It is a very, very mildly sweet dessert, with more citrus-tart flavor profile than sweet. It was definitely a big hit over here, but we’re citrus & rice nuts so that goes without saying. Delicious with ice cream for dessert or a bit of jam for breakfast.

Happy baking!

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Meyer Lemon and Coconut Torta di Riso

Lightly sweet Tuscan rice custard cake. Gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free. Delicious served with ice cream for dessert or jam for breakfast! Yield: 1 9″ pie plate; serving size is left to your discretion ;) Recipe adapted from my previous blood orange incarnation, here, and from Cafe Lynnylu, here!

For the cake:

  • 2 c full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 c light coconut milk
  • 3/4 c arborio rice
  • scant 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c almond meal
  • zest of 2 meyer lemons (~2 tsp)
  • 2 tbsp meyer lemon juice
  • 1/3 c coconut sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated

Lightly grease your pie dish with coconut oil and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the coconut milk to a boil. Add in rice and salt, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then begin stirring continuously for another ~10 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the milk (the rice should be chewy but not underdone). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Add the rice to a larger bowl, and stir in almond meal, lemon zest and juice, and coconut sugar until combined. Whisk in egg yolks. In a non-reactive bowl (I use the bowl of my stand mixer, with a handheld electric mixer), beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Fold them into the rice mixture. Once incorporated, pour all this goodness into the prepared pie dish. Bake in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. If the top browns too quickly, cover it with foil. The cake develops somewhat of a crust as it bakes, so be sure to test the middle and make sure it’s done – the tester should come out clean, but sometimes it’s tricky to tell.

Let cool before serving and serve warm or at room temperature (or cold, I like it all three ways). Garnish with shredded unsweetened coconut and meyer lemon segments if desired. Leftovers keep well in the fridge, covered.

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Sometimes, dessert just needs to be an unashamedly sloppy, delicious mess

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This tart is a lesson in what dessert sometimes should be: an aesthetically pleasing, sloppy, delicious mess. Because sometimes dessert should just be eaten out of the pan it was baked or assembled in, with two spoons and happy grins. Or, you could attempt civilized plating (as I did) when you consume it for dessert, with a hasty decant into bowls topped with ice cream. Which is perfectly acceptable. Until the next morning when you peek at the custard tart that’s been hangin’ in the fridge overnight and notice that the custard has decided to attempt an escape outside its proscribed bounds, at which point you decide to eat it out of the pan with spoons. Wise and delicious decision!

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Sometimes, you need a less than perfect dessert. Messy, delicious and less than perfect is exactly what this tart is. You’ve been warned! Indulge accordingly.

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In other news, I completed another year on this earthplane, and celebrated accordingly at Gary Danko! Nowhere else am I going to sit down to a four course dinner with two desserts. Shockingly, I didn’t even need a wheelbarrow to leave…. I consider this a success all around. Thanks to everyone who made my birthday weekend such fun! Y’all are so rad.

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Hmm, what else. It’s officially autumn! Which means apples, scarves, boots, and pumpkin. And baking. Except that the Bay has decided to have a heat wave these last few days, which means baking is totally off the table until it gets back down into the 80s, at least. Since when do I wear a dress and no jacket in San Francisco all evening?! Since never… until yesterday! Reason number one to eat messy, cool, creamy dessert that can be had with minimal baking and heating of the kitchen!

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More drawing! A wee bit of dome practice with the beautiful San Francisco city hall.

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Nighttime cityscapes are so beautiful.

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But back to the food!

This tart presents beautifully but once cut, devolves into a sloppy, delicious mess. But, fear not! Just grab a spoon and eat it straight from the pan. Messy and delicious, just how dessert should be.

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Maple Custard Apple Tart with Almond Crust

Lightly sweet, creamy and an appropriate amount of crust. Refined sugar free, grain free, gluten free, paleo & dairy free with one small swap (coconut oil for butter in the crust). Yield: 1 10″ pie pan of the deep variety; serves as many as you feel like sharing with. Recipe adapted from Hip Foodie Mom, here!

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For the crust:

  • 2.5 c almond flour
  • scant 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 4 tbsp salted butter (or coconut oil), melted
  • 1 runneth-over tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg white

For the custard:

  • 1.5 c coconut milk (mine was light; use whatever you have)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 c tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the apple topping:

  • 2 apples, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp raspberry jam, thinned with a bit of water and lemon juice

Because the custard needs to sit and chill in the fridge after cooling for at least 2 hours, I made this a day ahead and let it hang out in the fridge overnight. The crust only takes about 15 minutes to bake, so the tart itself comes together quite quickly.

Preheat the oven to 400 and lightly grease a 9 or 10″ deep pie plate with coconut oil or butter. For the crust: in a large mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, salt, and coconut sugar. Add in melted butter or coconut oil, vanilla, and egg white, and stir until combined — I found it more fun and more efficient to use my hands at the end. Press the dough into the bottom of your pie plate of choice, poke the bottom a few times with a fork, and bake for 15 minutes. The crust should be lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

For the custard: in a medium saucepan, heat the coconut milk over medium, until small bubbles begin forming along the egg whites. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, maple, tapioca starch, and salt. Slowly temper the eggs by pouring the hot coconut milk into the egg bowl in a thin stream, whisking constantly until all the milk is incorporated. Pour this whole bowl of goodness back into the pot that was previously holding the coconut milk, and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the custard begins bubble and thicken (you’ll know. it’ll go from watery to thick enough that your whisk makes tracks). Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla, and let sit until cool. Give it a good stir, and store in an airtight container in the fridge if you made it ahead.

Pour the custard into the completely cooled crust. Thinly slice 2 apples of choice, and drop them in a bowl of lemon water to prevent browning while slicing. In a small bowl, thin the raspberry jam with a few tbsp of water and lemon juice (I used the leftover from my apple-soaking water). Fan the apple slices across the surface of the custard, brush with the raspberry jam mixture to prevent excess browning. Cover and refrigerate if not eating immediately!

Keeps well overnight in the fridge, covered, but don’t expect it to stay in one piece! The custard is runny — best advice (and I definitely put this into practice) is to just eat it with a spoon, straight out of the pie plate. For breakfast! Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Fig season is upon us!

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It’s fig season!!! Another reason to love fall, as if I didn’t have enough already.

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As much as I start missing the fresh summer berries, it’s so refreshing when the seasons start changing (ish. Emphasis on ish. It’s been in the upper 90s over here for the last few days…um okay I get it! We’re making up for lost time?! But seriously, enough). Figs are so fun with their little tiny seeds. I used to not be such a fig fan, but they’ve won their way into my heart. Especially when they hang out with goat cheese and hazelnuts and honey. But really, I’ll eat them in any form.

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Especially when rice pudding is involved… I never ever say no to rice pudding. EVER.

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This version is baked into a cake/tart type thing, and is sliceable and delicious and fantastic for breakfast as well as dessert. I could wax rhapsodic about this dessert but you really should just make one and thank me later. It’s delicious! It doesn’t use much sweetener either, which is a giant plus in my book and also makes it doubly acceptable for breakfast (also it’s excellent with coconut gelato… just looking out for you!)

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Handily enough, it also comes together quickly and doesn’t require any wildly unusual pantry ingredients.

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I’m reminded of the Italian cake Torta di Riso (I did one years ago and it’s somewhere on the blog… I used blood oranges for that one) — basically a rice custard that is baked into a sliceable cake. This one is a little denser than the Italian version (definitely NOT a bad thing), and is infinitely adaptable to whatever fruit is in season (though I highly recommend figs).

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I’ve also had some time to draw again lately, which I love. Baking + drawing = happy days.

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Enjoy fig season in all its glory and bask in some rice pudding. Happy Equinox!

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Baked Coconut Rice Pudding Cake with Honeyed Figs

Gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free! Densely textured, lightly sweet cake perfect for dessert and breakfast. If you love rice pudding, this cake is for you. Yield: 1 9″ pie pan (mine is the deep variety, about 2″ deep). Recipe lightly adapted from A Fork and a Pencil, here!

  • 1 c arborio rice, rinsed
  • 1 c water
  • 1 1/3 c light coconut milk, divided (should be exactly one standard 13.5 fl oz can)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2.5 tbsp coconut sugar
  • figs to your heart’s content (I used 4), halved
  • enough small dollops of honey to drop into each fig half

In a saucepan, combine rice, water, and 2/3 c coconut milk. Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until it just barely boils. Cover, Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice has absorbed the liquid, no more than 10 minutes. Once rice is cooked (it should still have some chewy bite to it) and the liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and let cool briefly while assembling everything else.

Lightly grease your pie plate with coconut oil and preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together, add vanilla, sea salt, maple, and coconut sugar. Pour the cooked and cooled rice into this bowl, and stir to combine. Pour the whole thing into the prepared pie dish (don’t freak if there’s some leftover liquid on the top of the dish, it will be fine! Promise). Halve the figs and press them into the rice, dropping small dollops of honey into the center of each fig half.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until the top is firm when touched and the surface is golden brown. Mine came out perfectly at an hour. Let cool for a bit before slicing. I like it cold, so I refrigerated mine for a few hours before eating, but that’s your call! Store any leftovers covered in the fridge (foil over the pie plate works just fine). Enjoy for dessert with your fave ice cream or gelato (coconut is marvelous) or for breakfast alongside your eggs and kale!

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Some desserts are actually breakfast in disguise

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It’s September, my favorite month ever! I love fall. So even though the days start getting shorter again and that’s kind of a bummer, I do love the lead up to fall…. and boots! and scarves! and apples! and pumpkin!

But… before we get there! It’s still arguably berry season, and I see no reason to end that prematurely unless I have to (which I don’t!). Which means… raspberries! Which pair oh so well with hazelnuts and dark chocolate. And then…

BREAD.

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Because, sometimes you just need some bread pudding. Besides that, I am spoiled to live near Acme Baking, which makes some of the best bread around: all the more reason to get on the bread pudding train. Furthermore, bread pudding is one of those glorious things that only gets better and better the longer it sits, which means breakfast this morning was FANTASTIC. Eggs & cholula + kale + bread pudding? Sign me up. Oh. And obviously caramel. Because bread pudding should ALWAYS have a sauce, no matter if you eat it with ice cream anyway (also recommended; talenti coconut gelato was a spot-on choice). Enter the five second blender caramel with heavy hazelnut overtones… and so full of good things it’s practically a health food. Don’t get me started ;)

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Apologies for the lack of pictures; bread pudding isn’t the most photogenic of all the desserts and also it pretty much got annihilated before I could get in there with a camera for some in situ shots of plated dessert… Sorry not sorry.

Happy September, enjoy the beautiful days of Indian summer!

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Hazelnut, Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Bread Pudding with Hazelnut Caramel

This is neither gluten free, vegan, or paleo. Sorry not sorry! Sometimes, you just need some bread. It is, however, dairy free and refined sugar free. It is also extremely easy to throw together, using whatever you have on hand. Yield: one 9 by 9 pan. Like many things I’ve made lately, this does double duty as breakfast and is even better the next day, so the serving sizes are contingent on how hungry you happen to be… A Wait are those Cookies original!

Bread Pudding:

  • 1 loaf of (stale!*) bread, cubed (I used Acme Pain au Levain)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 c coconut milk (mine happened to be light; use whatever you like)
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 runneth-over shot of Fra Angelico
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 c roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips
  • 1 c fresh raspberries (frozen is fine; thaw and drain first!)

Caramel:

  • 1/3 c roasted unsalted almond butter
  • 1/3 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp Fra Angelico
  • scant 1/4 tsp sea salt

* You can either cube it ahead of time and let it sit out, like I did, or slice and toast in the oven to stale it day of, if you’re short on time

You can make the caramel ahead of time, or while the pudding is baking (it comes together in about five seconds):

In a vitamix or a food processor, blend almond butter, maple, melted coconut oil, vanilla, Fra Anglico, and sea salt until smooth and incorporated. Adjust taste to suit your preferences!

Butter or use coconut oil to grease a 9 by 9 pan. Sprinkle coconut sugar over the inside of the pan if desired; this gives the bottom a little somethin’ extra…

Put the cubed bread into a large bowl. In a slightly smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, maple, Fra Angelica, vanilla, and sea salt. Pour this goodness over the bread cubes, using your hands to evenly distribute everything. Toss in hazelnuts, chocolate chips, and raspberries (reserve a few raspberries for topping if you’re feeling fancy). Let this sit for about a half hour so the bread can absorb the custard.

Preheat the oven to 350, and once the custard and bread have sat for a bit, bake for 30-40 minutes, until there is no visible liquid at the bottom when you separate it with a fork (you don’t want it dry though, so just look for pooling liquid). Mine was perfect at 40 minutes. Let cool completely, then refrigerate if you’re like me and like cold bread pudding! Or serve warm, it’s awesome either way. Store leftovers in the fridge and eat them for breakfast — highly recommended.

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Master Status.

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oh hey! I DID IT! I’m actually DONE!

A masters degree in 10 months? Not too shabby.

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Somehow, that isn’t computing in my brain… I still feel like I need to be doing something. I’m sure you know the feeling? But… I don’t! I’m taking a mini break from adulting, so the biggest decisions I have to currently make are a) am I going to go work out (answer: pretty much always yes) and b) what will I eat afterward?

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My presentation went well, and it felt really good to end on a high note! I’m officially a master? Or something. Ha.

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But! I now have more time and mental energy to blog and make interesting things, which is just lovely. I got a notification today that my bloglet is 5 years old today! I can’t believe it. It’s growing up so fast!! *sniff* … or maybe that means I’m just getting old; that’s probably more likely.

SO! For mutti’s (rather belated) birthday dessert, I got fancy. Coconut milk panna cotta (dairy free, paleo, vegan, refined sugar free) with date caramel and walnut cookie crumble. So good! And actually fairly simple, when it comes down to it — there are just a lot of parts, but they come together with a minimum of fuss.

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Coconut Panna Cotta with Date Caramel and Walnut Cookie Crumble

Dairy free, paleo, vegan, refined sugar free, gluten free — everything EXCEPT taste free. Because these are delicious! And they really don’t heat up the house much if you’re making them on a day that it’s stupid hot outside (not like I did that or anything). Yield: 3 panna cotta servings (I chilled mine in small coffee cups; about the size of normal ramekins only deeper) + extra caramel and crumble left over after serving. Recipe lightly adapted from Kiss my Bowl, here!

For the panna cotta:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, well shaken
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp agar flakes*

*agar powder is no doubt better, but all my Whole Foods carried was the flakes, and they worked fine

For the date caramel:

  • 1 c pitted medjool dates, soaked
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 heaping spoonful of almond butter**

**mine is salted; I like the salty-sweet combo so you may want to add a pinch of salt if yours isn’t

For the walnut cookie crumble:

  • 1/2 c raw walnuts
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder / cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • splash of maple syrup
  • pinch of salt

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the coconut milk until it steams. Whisk in the maple syrup and bring just barely to a boil. Whisk in the agar flakes and let cook for just about 5 minutes, still barely boiling/high simmering. Remove from heat and let stand in the pan, whisking occasionally, for another 5 minutes. Once cooled slightly, pour into molds of choice (I used small coffee mugs that are deeper and slightly less wide than a standard ramekin; ramekins are just fine if you have them!). Let cool on the counter until your fridge can handle it, then let them set up in the fridge for at least an hour.

While the panna cottas are chilling, use a food processor or a vitamix to make the date caramel. Pour the dates and a few tablespoons of their soaking water into the implement of choice, add vanilla and almond butter, and blend till smooth (or chunky. you do you!). Store in a jar in the fridge until needed.

I made the cookie crumble in the same vitamix as the date caramel without cleaning it overmuch, which worked totally fine. Add walnuts, cocoa powder, vanilla, maple, and salt and whiz away until it’s crumbly. Store in a jar in the fridge until needed!

The panna cottas should be firm to the touch on top and have lost most of their jiggle by the time they’re ready. Run a knife around the edge of the ramekin or coffee cup, and they should flip right out onto a plate. Top with excessive amounts of date caramel and cookie crumble for maximum effect, and indulge accordingly!

Any leftover date caramel (who are you?!) and cookie crumble keeps well in the fridge for at least a week (but I dare you to make it last that long).

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All kinds of random

IMG_2136This feels like it’s going to be one of those posts that is essentially a snapshotlet [ie a smallish snapshot] of my eatings and goings on for the last several weeks, which have been insanely busy.

I started a new 8-5 office job that will go until I leave for camp/grad school so I am readjusting to having a very consistent schedule. Which is GREAT except totally foreign because all of my jobs ever involved totally random and non-consistent schedules. And also standing. Lots and lots of standing. Which wasn’t my favorite until I began sitting all day, at which point I discovered that standing is pretty great. ANYWAY. Expect to see possibly slightly less on the blog until I can get settled into my schedule. But I shan’t be disappearing entirely… this girl’s gotta eat.

SO, let’s see. What randomness can I share today..

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I love it when people I love have birthdays, since it means I get to cake it up for them. Here’s the latest: chocolate cake with mocha buttercream.

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Thisthisthisthisthis!!!!!

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Jill and I got crazy and made red lentil, coconut milk and walnut ice cream and it was possibly the earthiest, maple-y, walnut-y, weirdest ice cream ever. But also very delicious. And weird. Did I mention lentils?! Because hahahahhahha I am one of the only few who would love lentils in ice cream. Trust me, it works! Recipe here.

SKIING!!!

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I finally got to spend quality slope time with my K2 babies. It was absolutely wonderful and gorgeous and hilarious and exhausting and amazing. And then I had a malt and all was right with the world.

BEACHING!!

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Because, February??! Uhh yeah. It doesn’t make sense to me either but it was sunny and warm and then cloudy and raining but there was delicious bread and scones and cheese and butter and a picnic and Elliott… a perfect day. Capped off by dinner at a kombucha bar/macrobiotic kitchen and then a sundae [whiskey bread pudding ice cream+ caramel+ a fudgy brownie and a metric ton of sprinkles] the size of my face. Because… I’m actually five.

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My dessert is massive. Teehee. The pie is E’s. I’m not THAT piggy, sheeeesh.

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I know, I know… horrible food photography for this next one but just go with it. FUDGYYYYYYY!

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IMG_2153Happy, gorgeous Saturday and delicious eats. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Food fights and turkalurk

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Happy Belated TurkaLurk Day! Gobble gobble gobble…

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We did the usual Thanksgiving things but also did some really awesome things like 18 holes of frisbee golf and extreme ping pong and pie. Obvs. So weird. Pumpkin pie isn’t even my thing and I still can’t help but get all fancy. Whatever. It must be that extra baking gene I picked up somewhere in my travels to this particular incarnation.

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Oh hi, we love whipped cream.

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And then in attempting to use my parent’s favorite kitchen gadget (the Austrian whipped cream whipper they’ve had foreverrrr) at altitude, we laughed till our abs ached as the silly thing tried to explode and decant its contents violently all over the kitchen. No such luck, rouge whipper, we have your number and in no way are you going to be allowed to explode, no matter how much copious fizzing and spurting and hilariously juvenile noises end up emerging from your innards. In the end, a second batch of cream got whipped by hand but not before a mini food fight broke out. No big deal.

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Also lentils. IMG_6986

I made this dish forever ago but never got around to sharing it, so I’ll do that now… which is rather fitting considering it’s made of lentils and despite the plethora of turkey currently sweeping the nation, I prefer lentils, thank you. So here you go, my non-turkalurk-eating-crowd, this is for you. And for me, come to think of it…

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Happy Thanksgiving! I’m grateful for lots of things, up to and obvs including food. Gobble gobble…

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Roasted Kabocha Squash Lentil Dal

Gluten free and vegan! Rather quick, if you preroast the squash and all that. I adapted the recipe from happy hearted kitchen, here! Hearty and perfect for winter comfort food without the heavy ick factor… Just a warming bowl of spicy lentils to keep you dancing and happy.

  • 1 small kabocha squash
  • glug of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 heaping tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • scant 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2-1 tsp sea salt, to taste
  • a few twists of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 c red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1.5 c light coconut milk
  • 4 c veggie stock
  • chopped cashews, Persian cucumbers and shredded coconut to garnish

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For the squash: wrestle the squash and successfully cut it in halvsies. Preheat the oven to 400. Scoop out the squash seeds, and brush the insides of the squash with avocado oil (or another high heat oil would be fine here). Roast, cut side down, on a rimmed cookie sheet until the sides of the squash can be pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. Remove squash from oven, flip over, and let cool until you can comfortably scoop out the puree.

In a large pot over medium, heat olive oil. Add diced onion and garlic, fresh ginger and turmeric, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add a splash of water if needed if things get too dry or the spices are sticking. Toss in cumin, ground ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, a twist of pepper, and some sea salt, and stir to combine. Add rinsed and drained lentils and diced bell pepper, followed by the coconut milk and enough broth to cover the top of the lentils, and stir again. Bring to a boil (I covered mine and watched it like a hawk), then reduce heat to low and let it simmer covered for about 35-40 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the squash puree. I purposefully left some chunks in mine for texture… You can blend it with an immersion blender here if you like, but I chose to leave mine as is—red lentils are so soft anyway that they’re pretty much perfect here. Season to taste with the rest of the salt and more pepper, if you’re spicy like me. Garnish with persian cucumbers, chopped cashews, and shredded coconut for fun!

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. If it’s thickened up quite a bit when you go for leftovers, add a splash of broth and heat it back up on the stove (or leave it thick—I love it like that the next day).

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Brain mush.

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I think I’m just really obsessed with mushy food.

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What a nice way to start a blog post about FOOD, right?? Like, I’m trying to get peeps to keep reading the post, not click off immediately…

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But seriously. Mushy food is my jam. I like oatmeal SO MUCH that it gets me out of bed in the morning. For reals. I lay there going ‘ughghghh it’s dark and whyyyy and I know I have to but uhhhgggh’ and then it hits me… I get OATMEAL for breakfast. And I’m out of my bed like a shot. This is true life, I’m not kidding. It actually works. Every. Single. Morning. And I will be just as excited about it tomorrow as I was yesterday. Or the day before that. Or… well. You get the idea.

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And applesauce. And buckwheat. And any type of porridgy thing besides oatmeal. Is this weird??

I’m making the executive decision that it’s not. Because lentils can also be mushy but lentils are DELICIOUS. Stupidly so. And sooo easy. And cheap. And nutritious so what’s not to like?!

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Also. Too much studying of useless math and endless hours revising grad school app essays have turned my brain into mush so maybe that’s why I’m so fixated on mushy food today? Whatever. I made this for dinner yesterday and it was mushy and delicious and really, calling it mushy is really kind of mean because it is SO delicious. Let’s call it… creamy. And unctuous. And lentily. Spicy, comforting, soul food. There we go. That’s far better than mushy. It has character. I like my food to have character.

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Red Lentil Dal with Creamy Coconut Buckwheat

Gluten free, vegan, full of delicious grains and healthy carbs, and inflammation-fighting turmeric. Serve hot or cold—I like it as cold leftovers the next day. Recipe serves four easily, with leftovers. Buckwheat is my own method, dal adapted from Wholehearted Eats, here!

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For the buckwheat:

  • 1 c buckwheat groats, rinsed
  • 2 c light coconut milk
  • 1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • salt to taste

For the Dal:

  • heaping 1/2 c diced onion
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • heaping 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 c red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 c light coconut milk
  • 3 c water
  • 2 carrots, chopped into smallish pieces
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • a few grates of pepper
  • chopped Persian cucumber, roasted cashews, pepitas, unsweetened coconut for garnish

Buckwheat is amazing: In a medium sized saucepan, bring coconut milk to a boil. Once boiling, dump in buckwheat groats, cover, and turn down to a simmer. I usually add a few sprinkles of sea salt here (and more to taste after it’s finished cooking).  Let the groats simmer until they have absorbed most of the liquid, about 30 minutes (though I never set a timer; I just check it periodically. Groats should retain their chewy texture when fully cooked). Add salt if needed. Buckwheat tends to thicken up as it sits, so I usually turn it off when there is just a bit of liquid left.

What is a grain without a friendly topping?? For the dahl: heat avocado oil in a medium saucepan. Add in onion, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, pepper, and cumin and sauté until the onions are translucent. If the spices start sticking, add a splash of water—I find it helpful to stir the onions relatively frequently. Add in lentils, coconut milk, water, and diced carrots. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes (Stirring occasionally is probs good). Uncover, add salt (more to taste if that’s your jam) and let simmer for about 20 minutes more. Turn off the heat, let it sit and thicken for a few minutes more.

Serve over buckwheat, with veggie of choice and fave garnishes. I like chopped cashews and pepitas+cucumber and coconut. Leftovers are excellent cold or reheated the next day.

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Pinky up, I made you scones!

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Scones!!

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Because… three day weekends seem like they’re made for making leisurely breakfast things. And because I love ALL of the breakfasty items (odd, given that my breakfast of choice closely resembles pond scum… oh wait. Spirulina IS pond scum!! Silly me) but for some reason never make them (weird, I know, I’m attempting to remedy that. Someone host a garden party brunch and have me bake!!), I decided that Labor Day = scones. Besides that, I paradoxically labored a lot on Labor day and needed sustenance of some sort.

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Also I hadn’t made scones in I couldn’t tell you the last time, so I was way overdue.

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Life would have been beyond perfect if only I’d had some lemon curd for these, but whatcha gonna do. I mean, it would have been even more perfect to eat them in some English manor house with tea and lace and delicate china, but I do suppose you can’t have everything. Pinky up!

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I read somewhere that someone described the scent of cardamom as haunting— a statement I totally agree with. There is something about its fragrance that seems to stir memories you didn’t know you had, almost like they’re from lives and times before this one that we’re currently in. Or maybe that’s just me. Do you have scents that do that for you? Tea tree oil is evocative for me as well, thought that one reminds me of childhood. Olfactory memory is pretty fascinating— to think that a cascade of memories and associations can be triggered by a simple smell. They kind of sneak up on you when you’re least expecting it, or so it seems to me.

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But anyway, enough about haunting spices and such. Besides smelling divine, these are perfect for a lazy weekend brunch. And now that I actually have weekends free (no more working weekends!!), I fully intend to revive this lovely tradition and force myself to eat something besides my beloved pond scum for at least one day of the week (good luck with that one. Pond scum is addicting).

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Blueberry Cardamon Scones

Egg-free, whole grain, and sweetened only lightly by coconut sugar. Yield: 8. Recipe adapted slightly from Mama Mouse Says, here! I definitely wanted to try these with lavender, but we grow our own and we’re out of season at the moment, so I opted for the slightly more fall-ish scent of cardamom with the last of summer’s blueberries. They’re excellent with a bit of salted butter, and would be absolutely perfect with lemon curd, if you’re lucky enough to have some on hand.

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  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1.5 tbsp baking powder
  • 2.5 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into little chunks
  • 1/2 c light coconut milk
  • 1/2 c plain, lowfat yogurt
  • 1 scant tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, coconut sugar, salt, and cardamom. Cut in the butter using your fingers or a pastry cutter—the butter should be in small, pea sized chunks. Carefully stir in blueberries, until they’re completely coated in flour. In a separate bowl (or a glass liquid measure like I did), whisk together coconut milk, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Stir wet into dry until mostly incorporated, then turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Pat it down or roll it out (I just used my hands, no need with this dough to dirty a rolling pin) to about 1/2″ thick round. Cut the dough into 8 triangles, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for just about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. They’ll feel a little soft to the touch but shouldn’t be squishy… and they’ll firm up as they cool. These are best if consumed the day you make them, but store in an airtight container and warm slightly before serving if there are leftovers!

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There is drool on my keyboard

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Before I get into all the sweets nonsense… this was this morning’s harvest. I love love love having growing things in my backyard!! The baby strawberries went into buckwheat cereal alongside their pallies blueberries and kale and zucchini and carrots and coconut and sun butter and chia+hemp seeds and all the other ridiculous things I put in my breakfast cereals… But anyway.

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I warned you about the sweets excess, no?!

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Jill and I managed to whip out a batch of coconut milk ice cream with salted almond date caramel and pecans (droooool), a double batch of peanut butter coconut carob chip cookies, and a grain free raspberry polenta cake. In 4 hours. Boom. And we ate lunch in there somewhere, and Jill made this epic quinoa pizza crust just before I came over so that was also lunch.

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But guys.

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THIS ICE CREAM.

I just….

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Drool.

Want.

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Actually, I think this is the first time I have actually made ice cream!! I mean, I did it once at girly scout day camp, but I hardly think that counts (though I do remember it being delicious). I’ve also made it in that silly way of putting rock salt and ice in a plastic baggie and shaking cream around until it sort of resembles ice cream but HELLO that is so NOT as good as this business. This is… I have no words. Just drool.

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AND. Not only that, but this ice cream is dairy free!! And gluten free!!! And quite possibly paleo?! And refined sugar free!! And vegan!!! Extra exclamation points!!! I think food allergies are super lame so here is a tummy-friendly ice cream for [nearly] everyone! YAY!

I got really excited in that last paragraph, sorry… but seriously. This ice cream.. mmmm.

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ALSO ALSO ALSO!!!! I just made these amazing vegan lentil enchiladas with my friend Britt so they’re going up next. Because they’re really freakin’ amazing. Holy moly. Could it be?? Something savory?! No. Surely not. I must have hallucinated from too much ice cream…

Coconut Ice Cream with Salted Almond Date Caramel and Pecans

Recipe gratefully borrowed from Sweet Miscellany, here! I adapted the date caramel and pecans slightly to my taste. Makes about 5-6 servings, but is best the day it’s made (it starts to get a bit hard after a day or two), so go ahead and indulge with some friends. Either way, let it sit out for a few minutes (like 5) before serving–it will scoop a bit better. Gluten free, refined sugar free, paloe, vegan, and dairy free!

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For the ice cream base:

  • 2 cans full-fat, organic coconut milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup (I use grade B, I like the flavor better in baked goods or sweets)
  • 1 tbsp plain vodka

For the caramel:

  • roughly 20 good sized medjool dates, pitted (soaked if necessary)
  • 2 heaping tbsp salted almond butter
  • a good pinch of sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tbsp unsweetened almond milk, to thin it out a bit

For the pecans:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • heaping cup of pecans, chopped

Get ready to drool: In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the base. Cover and chill in the fridge either overnight or for fourish hours.

While the base is chilling, make pecans and caramel! For the pecans, heat coconut oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Toss in pecans and toast, shaking the pan occasionally. You’ll be able to smell the delicious toastiness once they get close to being done—should only be around 5 minutes after the oil is heated.

For the caramel, truck out your trusty food processor. Soak your dates in hot water to soften them if necessary. Once they’re soft, toss them into the food processor and pulse until they form a rough paste. Add in almond butter, vanilla, and sea salt, and pulse to combine. Add almond milk as necessary to thin it out a bit—you don’t want it too thin, but thick enough that it’s spreadable. Set aside when it’s to your liking.

Once the base is done chilling, bust out your ice cream maker! Jill has a really cool one.. mine is OLD school. Like, hand crank. So… we used Jill’s! Chill the insert in the freezer if needed. Toss it all in and churn according to the ice cream maker’s instructions (or if you can’t find them, like Jill and I, just use your best judgement ;). Once the ice cream gets to a ‘soft serve’ consistency—meaning that if you stick a finger in there (or a spoon, pst whatever civilized), you should be able to scoop some up without it being too runny. Stir in about 3/4 of the pecans. Once the pecans are incorporated, spread a layer of ice cream into whatever you’re storing it in (I used a tall, round container; Jill’s was flat and square–either is fine), followed by generous dollops of caramel and a sprinkle of pecans. Repeat, swirling the ice cream together with the caramel dollops, until all the ice cream and caramel (and pecans) are combined. Cover and freeze until firm—for easier scooping, freeze until *just* firm. Let sit out a bit before scooping!

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