Orange Almond Cake with Sesame Honey Layers

Orange Almond Cake with Sesame Honey Layers

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One of the things I appreciate most in England is a national understanding that cake is for constant consumption, best enjoyed with tea. A surprise? Brits do not in fact sip their tea out of tiny little flowered teacups. They drink it out of mugs like the rest of the world.

Here’s my ideal cake. It’s light, fruity, and made mainly with almond flour (milled almonds) so that you can let go of calorie counting, close your eyes, and count the flavors: almonds, tahini, oranges, sesame seeds, coconut, vanilla, oh my!

Ingredients:

2 c. almond flour (milled almonds)

1 cup organic flour

¾ c. fresh squeezed orange juice

½ tahini (unhulled sesame seed tahini preferred, it will have a darker color and undergoes less processing)

¼ c. virgin coconut oil (substitution for other oils is fine, but try coconut oil in your cakes once and you’ll be using it for all time. Just make sure you get the cold-pressed/virgin variety)

½ c. coconut palm sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking

1 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

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Mix dry ingredients together (almond flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda). Then add eggs, tahini, orange juice, orange peel, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Set aside batter and begin…

Candied Almonds and Sesame Seeds

Ingredients:

1 ½ c. flaked almonds

1 c. sesame seeds (note, I used black sesame seeds for the amazing color. It locks like volcanic rock)

¼ c. virgin coconut oil

1 ½ tablespoons honey

pinch of salt, a few drops of vanilla extract

Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes (don’t let it burn, keep stirring)Image

Pour layer of nuts and seeds into a greased baking pan, then add a layer of cake batter, then another layer of candied nuts and seeds, then final layer of batter.Image

Place in over and bake at 175 degrees Celsius, or about 350 Fahrenheit, for between 25- 30 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with the Orange Honey Sauce

Orange Honey Sauce

Ingredients:

½ c. orange juice

2 tablespoon honey

1 tsp virgin coconut oil

Cook on medium for about 7 minutes, goal is to see liquid orange and honey mixture begin to thicken, honey crystallize, and consistency become thicker. Notice that the smell will change from heavily orange to a honey candy smell

The Go To Healthy Pasta – Alla Checca

The Go To Healthy Pasta – Alla CheccaImage

I have been in a love affair with the tomato since about seven, when I first began carefully, joyfully slicing about 12 tomatoes at a time to make my alla checca. So on essay days (3 days each week when I devote myself distracted body, exhausted mind, and aching soul to my computer and a stack of books, a stack I spent the previous 3 days reading), I will probably make this simple, quick to cook pasta dish.

Ingredients for a 1 Person Serving:

4 tomatoes (yes 4! No questions, because 4 tomatoes is my idea of a one person serving of a la checca)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

As much pasta as you like

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Simply slice the tomatoes into tiny pieces (below see the evolution of tomato from whole to small)

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Mix the olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped fresh basil with the tomatoes and add your cooked pasta of choice. It’s that easy. You don’t have to cook anything except the pasta. I made my version with gnocchi- which cooks in under 3 minutes- so we can spend less time cooking and more time eating before we all get back to whatever books, projects, or daily grind is ahead of us.

Take a well-deserved break and enjoy your meal!

-Dakota

The Sock ‘em Scramble and THE BEST BREAKFAST SANDWICH IN THE WORLD

The Sock ‘em Scramble and THE BEST BREAKFAST SANDWICH IN THE WORLD

Ingredients to make 2 sandwiches:

A batch of chimichurri (see yesterday’s post)

½ onion

½ red pepper

5 eggs

4 slices good fresh sourdough or baguette bread

1 avocado

a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

salt (to taste)

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To begin, take a deep breath and explain to yourself that yes, actually cutting two vegetables for morning eggs is worth the time. Breakfast should be a meal to savor, because as you take a bite of the fluffiest scrambled eggs you’ll ever get, with slices of creamy avocado, hugged lovingly by two slices of fresh bread, you’ll know that it’s going to be a good day.

Step 1. Chop the onion and pepper. Put the diced onion in a pan with about 1 tablespoon of water (you could immediately add a teaspoon or 2 of olive oil, but I think beginning the onions in water is healthier). Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

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Step 2. After five minutes, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and the red pepper. Cook until onions are beginning to turn gold (between 2 to 5 more minutes)

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Step 3. Add your eggs and scramble with salt to taste

Step 4. Toast your bread and slather the two sandwiches with chimichurri, pile them with mountains of scrambled eggs, add avocado slices and give yourself a much deserved round of applause for putting so much time into breakfast

There you have it. A heavenly sandwich and the secret to better, healthier, almost-reached-your-5-vegetables-a-day-goal-and-it’s-only-morning breakfast

Note: The Sock ‘em Scramble can go without the red pepper, but if you’re going to eat eggs, just take an extra 7 minutes to go to scramble heaven and add the onion into your morning routine.

Now go enjoy you’re day on a satisfied stomach

-Dakota

Dreamy Chimichurri

My dreams have changed a little after 5 months in England. Thanks to British cooking techniques like the oh-so-popular ‘salt on every 2 in 5 potatoes’, I went into spice withdrawal fast. I watched my favorite food drift away across the Atlantic: Adios avocados. Goodbye salsa. Where are you chilies?

You can keep the castles, princes, and sunset romances in meadows, please just give me a bowl of something SPICY

Here’s my goes-with-everything, incredibly delicious sauce to spice it up

Chimichurri of DreamsImage

Ingredients

½ cup cilantro

½ cup parsley

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon or lime

1 clove garlic

3 dried red chili peppers (alternatively about a ½ teaspoon of red chili flakes)

2 spicy green finger chilies or 1 jalapeño

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon water

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Just blend this list in a blender or food processor!Image

It’s a heavy ingredient list, yes. But these individual ingredients come together to make the most delicious, flavorful, party-in-your-mouth chimichurri that you will have. Use it as a salad dressing. Put it on your fish tacos. Add it to beans for flavor. Put it on hummus (“Are you mad woman? On hummus?!” – you might be thinking. Well maybe I am mad, but they add chimichurri to falafel and hummus in Israel. It’s the perfect spice + lemon acidity to warm up heavy hummus) My favorite idea? We’ll use it as a spread on THE BEST BREAKFAST SANDWICH IN THE WORLD, coming tomorrow to this blog and your stomachs

-Happy Eating

Dakota

Rainy Day Tomato Soup

Just when I thought winter had finally retreated, it comes back with rainstorms and a cold wind. I feel like this http://whatshouldwecallme.tumblr.com/post/48693968924/when-i-start-feeling-like-summer-is-coming-and-suddenly

But! There is a bright side, because when the weather outside is frightful… let us cook let us cook let us cook!

Today’s Menu: Rainy Day Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

10 tomatoes

1 carrot

1 small onion (yellow)

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup worth of vegetable or chicken stock + 1 cup plain water

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon paprika

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Step 1. Steam the tomatoes in a pot until soft, about 15 minutes.

Step 2. Chop onion and carrot and cook on medium with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (what is carrot doing in my tomato soup? You may be asking. Making it sweeter! I would reply) Image

Step 3. Add 1 clove of chopped garlic to mixture and wait for it to turn golden. (Also enjoy the glorious smell that is now infusing your kitchen) The carrot/onion/garlic mixture should soften and be caramelizing. Add the broth and water. It will start looking like this:Image

Step 4. Rinse Tomatoes in cold water so they begin to cool down enough to peel off the skin

Step 5. Make two slits in the bottom or top of the tomatoes, making an x. You’ll “undress” the tomatoes easily by pulling the skin away. If the skin won’t come off, the tomatoes weren’t cooked long enough. Image

Step 6. Mash the tomatoes into the carrot, onion, and broth mixture and cook for an additional 15 minutes on a low to medium heat with the paprika and salt added. The tomatoes should have broken apart and become part of the liquid now.

Step 7. Allow to cool, blend in a food processor or blender and serve with basil or parsley

Simple (ish) healthy, and colorful. Best served with a book and a seat by the window.

Lazy Morning Cooking: My New Take on Tapas

What I really do at Oxford… yes essay writing happens, but cooking and sharing food is the center of life here.

Today’s Project: My Take on Tapas, the Spanish Omelette

Ingredients:

2 large potatoes

1 medium onion (yellow)

2 tomatoes

1 sweet red bell pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

Begin by thinly slicing the potatoes. They should be almost transparent pieces. (See picture of the colander for example)

While cutting, take the pan that you will use for your omelette (preferably a large one) and fill halfway with water. When the water boils, you will put in the slices of potato and cook for no more than 2 minutes. If you overcook them, they will become starchy mush, but giving them a quick boil makes sure they aren’t hard!

Add about a tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil. Dice your onion into little pieces (and try not to cry). Throw the onion in the pan and let it sizzle. Mmmm…

Add the potatoes to the onions with another tablespoon of oil, stir, and let cook for about 15 minutes. You’ll want to stir every few minutes to make sure there’s an even cook.

My twist on the traditional recipe begins here with the addition of tomatoes, peppers, and paprika to the potato, onion, and egg foundation. Dice your tomatoes and add them at the 15 minute mark. I love tomatoes, and I think they add flavor and more liquid to the potatoes and onions.

Crack and whip up the six eggs with a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of paprika. Be aware you may need more salt depending on how salty you like your food.

Dice the red pepper and add it to the pan. Take off the pan at 20 minutes and begin to add spoonfuls of the potato and onion mixture into the big bowl of whipped eggs. Do it slowly so the heat doesn’t immediately make the eggs cook.

When all the mixture has been stirred into the eggs, pour a little more oil into the pan and pour the eggs and potatoes in!

At this point, you will allow it to cook for yes another 20 minutes. It will be difficult, because at this point you will be oh so hungry and wondering why you didn’t just make scrambled eggs. Trust me, you will be glad you branched out.

The only things left to do? Dishes, pushing the edges of the omelette in a little as it cooks, and when the top is almost set, putting a plate over the pan to flip the omelette on. Then put the side that was facing up onto the heat to give it a 2 minute cook.

When this is done, all you need is a few friends over to help you eat it all, and I promise you, all of it will be eaten. Enjoy!ImageImageImage

Note: trying to flip a spanish omelette onto the plate and then back into the pan for the final two minutes of cooking can be hard. You could just cut the delicious thing in half, then cut those two halves in half. Flip one quarter at a time. Still pretty.

Beautiful Imperfections

“One does not go to Italy for niceness’ was the retort ‘one comes for life” – E.M. Forster, A Room with a View

Dearest,

My friend and I are squeezed next to the doors of the train with at least forty people in a space made for 10 comfortably. An Italian hit on me before I even left passport control that morning, everyone is loud, and there is a couple making out in the corner of the train so intensely that I can no longer tell who is who. Benvenuto a Italia! Everything is beautiful to me. The rickety train, the old sailor who tells us about Naples, and the groves of oranges outside the window all have their own perfection. Italian perfection is not ‘nice’, clean, or orderly. I would say that it is a celebration of imperfections that nudges you enjoy your own.

Our old train moves slowly along the coast, with the Bay of Naples on one side and green mountains meeting us on the other. Rain is beginning to sprinkle down in the warm air and drops come through the open windows to leap onto our skin. We can see grimy, wild Naples fading behind us. We laugh, because we have come all the way from England… and now it is raining in Italy. Rain is different here though. The sun is still playing peek-a-boo behind the clouds and the air smells like lemons.

Sorrento is blatantly touristy, but I embrace it. The houses and buildings are all pink or peach or yellow and the whole town sits above a port. We walk around in the morning, after a breakfast of sweet pastries. In the afternoon we lay out picnics in the most beautiful locations we can find: the forum of Pompeii and benches overlooking the port. I don’t know if I will ever again see anything as beautiful and as balanced as the Sorrento marina. It is a quiet harbor of family owned fishing boats, with a small restaurant that, unlike the rest of Sorrento, serves mainly Italians, and bright blue water that laps up against the wharf. The marina is empty of tourists, probably because there are only two ways to get there from town: climb down two hills or find your way down through a hidden side alley. Off to the right is a group of old fishermen mending nets, fishing, and laughing loudly in the afternoon sun. They are all tanned and smiling, and they all wear sweaters softened by time. If you pressed your face into those sweaters, I know you’d smell ocean water, tobacco, and wine that never really can be washed away. Teenage girls lean over stonewalls above the port and call down to the boys. I don’t need to understand Italian to smile at the universal sound of flirtation. It is like a painting come to life, and for a long time I don’t want to leave. But the serious questions come back to us, even in the port.

Will we have our gelato before pasta, or after? Before.

always, truly, sincerely