Monday, May 9, 2016

Coffee Cardamom Walnut Cakes

Coffee Cardamom Cake Every once in a while, I come across a cookbook that I absolutely love. A cookbook where I want to make every recipe in the book, where I want to step into the book and join their kitchen, where I want to curl up on the couch and read the book all morning.

For about a year now, The Violet Bakery Cookbook has been on my radar. I heard about the delicious less-sweet desserts filled with fruits (loganberries! blueberries!) and unique flours (oats! rye!), but I wasn't ready yet to commit to the cookbook. Food52's Piglet, aka March Madness style cookbook competition, left me cheering for The Violet Bakery Cookbook.

Coffee Cardamom CakeCoffee Cardamom Cake

The author, Claire Ptak, founded The Violet Bakery in London after training at Chez Panisse. A San Francisco lady who opens up a bakery in London, serving the cutest violet cupcakes and coffee cakes...where I can sign up? 

One of my favorite aspects of this cookbook is how easy-going the recipes are. No fancy yeast pastries that take all night to rise, no finicky flaky pastries with thousands of steps to assemble. Given The Violet Bakery's small space, they veer towards homier, cozier pastries that are more straightforward for the home chef. 

Coffee Cardamom Cake

A few weeks ago, we went to a fun Indian-themed brunch--dosas, samosas, and mimosas! I loved the theme and wanted to contribute something sweet to share. These coffee cakes not only looked cute as a button, but also matched the spicy food with a kick of its own thanks to cardamom.

Coffee Cardamom Cake

Coffee Cardamom Walnut Cakes

Makes 12 individual cakes

melted butter, for greasing the pans
2 1/2 ounces walnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground pink peppercorns
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly brewed strong coffee or espresso

Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F. Brush a 12 cup muff pan with the melted butter. 

First, warm the walnuts through on a baking sheet in the oven. Do not toast them; you just want to bring out the fragrant oils/ This should take less than 5 minutes. Let the nuts cool slightly, then chop fine. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices, then whisk this mixture through the chopped nuts. Set aside. 

In a stand mixer, whisk the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each one is fully incorporated, then add the vanilla extract. Mix in the flour and nut mixture and then the creme fraiche. 

Divide the batter among the 12 wells and bake for 20 minutes until the cakes spring back to the touch. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then gently pop them out (you may need to run a small paring knife around the insides of the wells to ease the cakes out). Place the cooled cakes upside down on a wire rack. 

Whisk together the ingredients for the icing and spoon it over the cakes. Use the back of a spoon to gently guide it to the edges so that it willingly drips down the sides. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili Recipe I promised Z healthier and easier meal this year, particularly meals that are easy to clean! Z is responsible for washing dishes each night (since I do the cooking), and to be completely truthful, I'm often not very conscientious of how many dishes I use while I cook. Most days, I leave Z with a big pile of dishes.

With a new year, and some big life events to shop for, I am also looking to eat healthier and work out more. A growing Classpass addiction means nights spent at barre classes and spin studios, and a late dinner. Dinner after 8pm has become our norm recently.

Given the late dinner schedule we're on, Z and I have been reaching for meals we make over the weekend, and reheat during the week. We bought a slow cooker over a year ago, but we've only used it for a handful of recipes. With our new schedule and desire to use fewer dishes, slow cooker recipes seemed to be the way to go.

This white chicken chili is perfect for the transition from winter to spring. It's hearty and warm thanks to the hominy, but lighter then its red companion. The avocado, lime, and pickled jalapeños add brightness.
White Chicken Chili Recipe

The recipe makes enough for 8 servings, which means you should make this on Sunday, and then eat the leftovers all week long when you race home covered in sweat and barely able to stand up straight energized after work.

White Chicken Chili Recipe

White Chicken Chili

From America's Test Kitchen

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 15-ounce can white hominy
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
4 jalaepeño chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons minced jarred pickled jalapeño chiles
1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 avocados, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Puree 2 cups broth and hominy in blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Add liquid to slow cooker. 

Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, jalapeños, garlic, cumin and coriander, and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in remaining cup of broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker. 

Stir beans into slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 on low. 

Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces, discarding bones. Let chili settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon.

Stir in shredded chicken and pickled jalapeños and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with avocado. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Engagement Weekend!

Engagement Weekend
I apologize for the lack of posting recently, but I hope the title of this post helps fill you in on the exciting news. During our 6 year anniversary getaway, Z proposed!

For our anniversary, we decided to take a weekend trip to Napa, like last year. The plan: hike Mount St. Helena and spend the night at the Hampton Inn on Saturday, and then do wine tastings and stay at the Carneros Inn on Sunday.

Addendum Fried Chicken

After a late start on Saturday, we made our way to Addendum, a shack outside of AdHoc serving their famous fried chicken for only $16.50. It was the most delicious fried chicken I have ever had in my entire life. The key: great coating on the outside that was flavored with rosemary.

Z was starting to get a cold, so we skipped the 4 hour hike in favor of a shorter one at Lake Berryessa. Z blatantly asked me if I wanted to change into something "cuter" for the hike, which of course I said no to. Who wears a dress on a hike?

About 15 minutes in to the hike, he proposed! We spent the rest of the hike hearing about all of his secret plans to surprise me. Our hike included some unwelcome visitors including a rattlesnake, but we eventually made it back to our car to call family and friends.

Z's plan to have us stay at the Hampton Inn was all a ruse; he arranged for us to stay at the Carneros Inn both nights. He knows how to spoil me!

Engagement Dinner

We drove to the Meadowood for dinner, and Z seemed extremely calm even though we were running 20 minutes late for our reservation. When we checked in, the host led us to a private room, where our family (including my sister from DC) was waiting. I didn't cry when Z proposed, but seeing our families together made me tear up.

We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating, eating, and visiting wineries. Look out for some posts on favorite Napa restaurants soon!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Spring Bucket List

Shed Healdsburg

With the start of March and San Francisco's temperamental weather fluctuating between rain and 70 degrees and sunshine, spring has been on my mind. Here's a list of all the things I am looking forward to this season....

Hiking Mt. Tam, finally! Can't believe I haven't done this yet.

Visit the farmers' market every other week. I haven't been in such a long time.

Take a weekend trip to Napa with Z. Hello, wine country!

Host a cocktail party on the roof with close friends.

Walk along the beach to Pelican Inn for brunch.

Spend an afternoon in the Filoli gardens.

Baking new recipes from The Violet Bakery Cookbook....rye chocolate brownies are calling my name.

What's on your spring bucket list?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Weekend Explorations: Outer Sunset in San Francisco

Andytown Coffee Roasters

One of my favorite things about San Francisco is the distinct personality of each neighborhood.  Z does not really care what we do on the weekend, but I have made it a point to start exploring more neighborhoods, and Z is kind enough to come along for the ride (and often drive!).

We visited the Sunset a few times over the past month, and both times we found great spots that we had to share.

Devil’s Teeth Baking Company: San Francisco sure does love its bakeries, and the Sunset has its own claim to fame with Devil’s Teeth. They are famous for their breakfast sandwiches of egg, bacon, cheese, avocado and lemon aioli on a freshly baked biscuit. We also tried their donut muffin and cinnamon roll, which were both delicious. Come willing to share the baked treats!

Devil's Teeth Baking Company
Devil's Teeth Baking Company
Devil's Teeth Baking CompanyAndytown: I heard about this coffee roaster from colleagues at work. I particularly intrigued by the "Snowy Plover", an iced coffee drink named after a small bird. The drink is actually espresso, tonic water, and brown sugar over ice, topped with homemade whipped cream. It's delicious -- perfectly sweet and refreshing. They also have delicious scones and soda bread. Z and I shared the cheddar and scallion scone. Despite the line out the door, we would go again in a minute. Plus, one can't help but love their succulents.

Andytown Coffee RoastersAndytown Coffee Roasters

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