Pumpkin Spice Soul Cakes

Pumpkin Spice Soul Cakes

Trick or Treat! Soul Cakes have an interesting Halloween related history dating back hundreds of years ago – watch my video on Curiosity Stream’s Instagram to find out more. (While you’re at it – sign up for 30 days FREE ALL ACCESS to Curiosity Stream with promo code Nathan!)

Yield: 17 cookies

1 cup (140 grams) black currants

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

14 tablespoons (197 grams) (cold) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces

1 packed cup (200 grams) light brown sugar

3¼ cups (450 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons whole milk

 

Place an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet trays with parchment paper.

Add currants and Grand Mariner together in a small bowl. Stir well. Set aside.

Add butter and sugar to a stand mixer and mix on medium using the paddle attachment for approximately 10 minutes, until light (in color) and fluffy, scraping the sides down of the inside of the bowl using a rubber spatula halfway through the process.

Add the flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

After mixing the butter and sugar, add 1 egg yolk. Mix on medium-low until the egg fully incorporates into the mixture, approximately 20 seconds. Turn off the mixer and scrape the sides down. Add the second egg yolk and mix until it fully incorporates. Scrape the sides again and then add the third egg yolk. Scrape the sides down once more.

Add the Grand Marnier soaked currants (and any liquid left in the bowl) and mix on medium until it’s incorporated, approximately 10 seconds.

Turn off mixer and add the flour mixture. Mix on low until the dough begins to resemble clumpy sand, approximately 30 seconds. Sprinkle the milk evenly over the dough. Mix on low until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 15 seconds. The finished dough will have a play dough consistency.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough to ½-inch thickness.

Using a 2¾ inch biscuit cutter, punch out as many circles as you can. Reroll dough and continue punching out soul cakes until no more dough remains. Using a kitchen knife or a bench scraper, impress an X shape atop each soul cake.

Evenly space 8 soul cakes on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Place the additional 9 on the second parchment-lined sheet tray.

Bake, one sheet tray at a time, for approximately 7 minutes. Rotate tray and continue baking another 8 minutes, until bottom edges are slightly browned.

Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Soul cakes are best served day of, but may be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

 

 

 

Plum Muffins with Cinnamon, Cardamom and Orange Zest

Plum Muffins

Yield: 12 Muffins

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup whole roasted and salted almonds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon orange zest (zested on a Microplane)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 (medium-sized) ripe plums, quartered, pits discarded

Set an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

Place the sugars and almond in a food processor with the blade attachment. Run for 1 minute until it begins to clump. Add the flour, zest, baking powder, spices and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter. Pulse 5 to 7 times, until it starts to resemble wet sand. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Pulse until the texture turns into a uniform, thick batter.

Fill each muffin tin equally, with 2½ tablespoons of batter. Gently press a quarter plum into each muffin, skin side up or skin side down – both ways are equally delicious!

Transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Test readiness by poking a toothpick or knife in the middle of a muffin; if it comes out clean, it’s ready.

Remove from oven. Place tin on a cookie rack and let the muffins cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin.

Asparagus Frittata with Preserved Lemon, Mint and Feta

Asparagus Fritatta

Asparagus Frittata with Preserved Lemon, Mint and Feta

Yield: 6 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon*, peel only (rinse lemon before chopping)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound asparagus, bottom of stems trimmed, stalks cut on the bias into 1/2 -inch slices, tips kept whole
7 large eggs, whisked with a fork
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 packed tablespoon chiffonade (sliced very thinly) fresh mint leaves

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 325ºF.

2. Set a large, oven-safe, nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter, preserved lemon, chopped onion, salt and some pepper.

3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become soft and transparent, about 8 minutes.

4. Add the asparagus stems, stir and let cook for 2 minutes.  Add tips, stir and cook for 1 more minute.

5. Add eggs and sprinkle over feta and the mint evenly. (Shake the pan to distribute the ingredients if needed.) Cook for 30 seconds, then transfer the sauté pan into the oven.

6. Bake, uncovered, for 11 to 13 minutes or until the eggs are just set.

7. Remove the frittata from the oven, slide out onto a cutting board, slice into 6 pieces, and serve.

*You can find preserved lemon at some local grocery stores and at Whole Foods and/or Amazon.

Strawberry and Cantaloupe Salad with Fresh Mint

Nathan Lyon Strawberry Canteloupe

Strawberry and Cantaloupe Salad with Fresh Mint

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

 

½ cantaloupe, seeded, rind removed, and sliced into 1-inch sections

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 tablespoons of balsamic OR white wine vinegar*

15 medium-sized fresh mint leaves, chopped finely

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

1. Gently toss the cantaloupe, strawberries, vinegar of choice*, pepper, and olive oil in a large bowl.

2. Add the feta and chopped mint to the bowl just prior to serving and toss.

*Note: If you prefer the flavor of the strawberries to pop, go with a nice balsamic. If you’re more of a cantaloupe person, go with the white wine vinegar. Both work great.

Lemon and Herb Kefir Spread

lemon--herb-kefir-spread-image

Lemon and Herb Kefir Spread

(Look for kefir in the yogurt section of your grocery store.)

2 cups plain whole milk kefir
1 teaspoon finely chopped preserved lemon (optional)
½ teaspoon lemon zest, grated on a Microplane
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pour the kefir into a nut bag or a triple layer of cheese cloth. Place the nut bag in a strainer. Place the strainer inside a bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 16 to 18 hours.

Discard or reserve the whey (clearish liquid) in the bowl. Transfer the strained kefir from the nut bag into a small bowl. Add the preserved lemon, lemon zest, lemon juice and thyme and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slather on a piece of your favorite toasty bread and serve!

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine!

Brazil Nut and Date Bread with Honey Butter

brazil-nut-bread-with-honey-butter-image

Brazil Nut and Date Bread with Honey Butter

(Serve for breakfast, snack, cheese plate or dessert!)

Yield: 1  9-inch pie

Unsalted butter, to prepare the pie pan
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon orange zest, grated on a Microplane
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup finely chopped Medjool dates, pits removed
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 cup raw brazil nuts, chopped roughly
3 large eggs

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Butter a 9-inch pie pan, then dust with flour, tapping out any excess.

Mix together the flour, cinnamon, salt, cocoa powder, zest and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the dates, milk, nuts and eggs and mix very well using a wooden spoon. Get in there with some elbow grease, and really stir until well combined. It’ll be thick and chunky, but that’s a good thing.

Pour the date batter into the prepared pie pan and or use the back of the wooden spoon to level off the batter.

Place the pie pan on a sheet pan and transfer to the oven.

Bake, uncovered, 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is light to golden brown and the center springs back when pressed.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan. Once cool enough to handle, remove from the pie pan, slice (using a bread knife) and serve with a slathering of honey butter.

Honey Butter:

1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), softened
2 tablespoons honey, preferably orange blossom

Mix the butter and honey in a small bowl until thoroughly combined.

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine and my new online cooking course with Clean Eating Magazine, “Clean Cooking & Nutrition: The World’s Healthiest Proteins & Advanced Vegetable Prep” will be starting on April 3! It’s gonna be so. much. fun! Check out the course trailer/preview to see for yourself!

Easiest Scrambled Eggs

Super Sous started making her eggs this way because, in her words, she says, “I’m lazy!” Why pre-scramble your eggs (read: another dish to wash) when you can just do it all in the pan.

Watch and try it out next time you’re in the mood for perfectly scrambled eggs! P.S. Don’t forget to use a nonstick pan.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.21.58 AM

Herby White Sweet Potato Foccacia

Last week, the NY Times published an article “Your Contribution to the California Drought” which displays the water footprint of various foods. Since California exports 50% of its produce nationwide, Super Sous and I have been developing Drought Friendly Recipes as a way for all of us to conserve California water. We are using the same sources as this NY Times article references, the Water Footprint Organization and studies from UC Davis. We are aiming to create recipes that have a lower water footprint relative to others. So, for example, fruit and vegetable centric recipes which stay clear of animal protein (except wild fish) and nuts.

Today’s recipe is an Herby White Sweet Potato Foccacia. It’s definitely a weekend project recipe. It’s not a 15 minute meal, but I can guarantee that it is fluffy, light, sweet, and everything you would ever want in a piece of focaccia, especially since it’s slathered with caramelized onions, garlic and fresh herbs.

Enjoy and save a piece (or two) for us!

 

Herby White Sweet Potato Foccacia

Yields: 1 18×13-inch sheet pan of foccacia

 

1½ pounds white sweet potato

5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

2 cups warm water (115 degrees Fahrenheit)

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon dry active yeast

6 cups bread flour, plus more as needed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

nonstick spray

¼ cup grapeseed oil, divided

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (4 cups)

20 large cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped (½ cup)

¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves, rough chopped

¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, rough chopped

¼ cup fresh oregano leaves, rough chopped

 

Adjust an oven rack to the upper middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place ¼ cup of kosher salt in a pile in the center of a sheet tray and rest the sweet potato on top of the salt mound.

Place sheet tray in the oven and roast sweet potato for 2 hours.

Remove sheet tray from the oven. When the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, slice the sweet potato in half and scoop out flesh to fill 1½ packed cups roasted sweet potato. (Enjoy any leftover sweet potato as a delicious snack!)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water and sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Add yeast and stir to combine. Let rest for 15 minutes, until mixture gets very foamy.

Add 1½ cups packed (warm, but not hot!) sweet potato, flour, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the bowl.

Spray the hook attachment with nonstick spray to coat and attach to mixer.

Mix on low for 5 minutes. Check on dough at this point. Scrape down sides of bowl if necessary. If dough is wet, add additional flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the flour absorbs the excess moisture. Mix for an additional 5 minutes until a smooth ball is formed. (Photo below)

In a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon of oil to coat the inside of the bowl. Transfer dough ball from stand mixer to the large oiled bowl and roll the doll around to coat the dough evenly with oil.

Cover the large bowl with plastic wrap and put the bowl in a warm place in your house. Let rest until the dough ball doubles in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

While bread is rising, make the onion garlic topping mixture.

Place a medium (3½ quart) sauce pan over medium-low heat and add 2 tablespoons oil, onion and 1½ teaspoons salt. Stir to combine and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the onions are soft.

Remove lid and add garlic, chopped herbs and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stir and cook for an additional 5 to 8 minutes, until all the water evaporates and the onions start to caramelize. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Evenly coat the bottom and sides of an 18×13-inch sheet tray with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.

Lightly dust a work space with some flour. Turn dough out onto workspace. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangular shape. (Photo below)

Transfer the rectangular dough into the oiled sheet tray. Using your fingertips, gently spread dough evenly to fill the sheet tray. Let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. (Photo below)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Evenly sprinkle remaining ½ teaspoon salt over the dough.

Spread the onion / garlic / herb mixture evenly over the dough. Dot/ firmly press your fingertips into the entire surface of the dough to create small “potholes” in the dough. (Evenly space the “potholes” throughout the dough, about 1-inch apart from each other.)

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the edges of the bread are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

foccacia dough ball

Dough ball ready to be oiled and rise 

Foccacia on table

Spreading the dough into a rectangle

Foccacia in sheet tray

Pressing the dough evenly in the sheet tray

cooked foccacia2

Finished foccacia

cooked foccacia

Delicious!

Drought Friendly Vegan Migas

A longer story covering our (Super Sous and my) Drought Friendly Recipes has been posted on the Central Valley NPR site and is  running on KVPR!

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.47.32 AMPLUS~here’s a NEW Drought Friendly Recipe that Super Sous has created. Being from Texas, Super Sous gets a hankering for Tex Mex now and again. The other day, she was craving migas, which in Tex Mex language is a scrambled eggs dish made with tortilla chips. To make it drought friendly, Super Sous subbed crumbled organic tofu for the eggs. The rest is all veggie and spice goodness. Enjoy!

Migas1

Sauteing the onions, bell pepper, potatoes and poblano.

Migas2

Tofu Potato Migas

 

Drought Friendly Tofu Potato Migas

Yield: 4 servings

 

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

1 large red bell pepper, diced small (1 cup)

½ pound potatoes, scrubbed and diced small

1 small poblano pepper, seeded, deveined and diced small

4 2-inch sprigs fresh thyme

1½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced (1½ tablespoons)

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground chipotle powder

1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

14-ounces organic extra firm tofu, patted dry and crumbled

1¼ cup broken organic corn tortilla chips

1 lime, halved

2 haas avocados, pitted and thinly sliced

½ cup picked fresh cilantro leaves

1 bottle of your favorite hot sauce

1 jar or batch of your favorite salsa, optional (try my tomatillo tomato salsa)

 

Place a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat and add oil. Let heat for 1 minute until hot. Add onion, red bell pepper, potato, poblano, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through, approximately 15 minutes.

Add garlic, cumin, paprika, turmeric, coriander and chipotle powder. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add tomatoes. Stir and cook for 1 minute, until liquid has mostly evaporated. Add tofu, stir and cook for 5 additional minutes.

Turn off heat. Add in tortilla chips, squeeze over half a lime, stir to combine and season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lime as needed. Remove thyme sprigs.

Serve on plates with slices of avocado, cilantro, a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce and some salsa.

Roasted Eggplant Caponata

eggplant caponata

Roasted Eggplant Caponata

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 large Italian eggplant, peeled and diced medium (approximately 7 to 8 cups)

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

7 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground fennel seed

¼ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes), or to taste

1 fennel bulb, diced small (1 cup)

1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cored and diced small (1¼ cup)

1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained, and chopped roughly

1 cup green olives, pits removed and chopped roughly

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

⅓ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

7 medium-sized fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and sliced very thinly

 

Adjust two oven racks to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 450ºF.

In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoons of oil, and season well with salt and pepper.

Spread out the eggplant in one layer onto two parchment paper-lined sheet pans. Roast, uncovered, in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the sheet pans from the oven, stir the eggplant, then place the sheet pans back in the oven, this time on opposite racks. Bake 15 minutes more, until the eggplants are lightly colored and cooked through.

After the eggplant has been cooking for 15 minutes, stir the diced onion with ¼ cup of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, translucent, and lightly caramelized.

Next, stir in the garlic, cumin, ground fennel, and chile flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the diced fennel and the bell pepper and cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, capers, olives, vinegar and baked eggplant. Cook until the caponata has thickened, approximately 15 minutes, then remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley and basil.

Serve and enjoy.

This recipe can be found in my cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh!