Saturday, April 20, 2013

cherry & whiskey upside down cake

 Stiff Peaks

Whenever I read these words in a recipe I have a panic attack. I can never get stiff peaks to form. I'm not even sure what constitutes a stiff peak.

I made this cake for Trevor's birthday and I was able to form half of the required stiff peaks. That is, I successfully made homemade whipped cream. Whiskey whipped cream at that. I'm not a huge fan of whipped cream, but a little whiskey can make anything amazing.

Cherry & Whiskey Upside Down Cake

Cherry & Whiskey Upside Down Cake

Recipe, nearly verbatim, from Endless Simmer

Almond Meal:
1.5 oz salted almonds
1/2 cup flour

1 cup sugar
6 tbsp water
6 tbsp butter
9 1/2 oz cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved

1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teas baking soda
1/4 teas salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 teas vanilla extract
1/4 teas almond extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup whiskey

Whiskey Whipped Cream: 
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp whiskey

To make the almond meal, place almonds and flour in a food processor until the mixture resembles sand.

To make the topping, place sugar and water in a saucepan and stir until dissolved. Let the dissolved mixture come to a boil, and, using the handle, swirl the occasionally. Continue to boil until the mixture becomes a medium amber. Remove the pan from heat and add butter. Stir until combined. Pour the topping into the bottom of your cake pan and place the cherries cut-side down into caramel mixture.

To make the cake mix the almond meal, flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined. Beat the butter until fluffy (using a stand mixer, if you are so fortunate, but I did it by hand in a pinch). Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk, followed by the other half of the flour mixture. After each addition, beat until just combined.

Place the egg whites in a clean glass bowl. Beat until foamy and soft peaks form. The mixture should triple in volume. Slowly sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix until combined. Pour in the whiskey and beat until combined. Fold a third of the egg mixture into batter with a wooden spoon. Gently fold in the remaining egg mixture.

Spread the batter evenly over the fruit topping. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

To make the whipped cream, place the wipping cream in a cold bowl and beat until medium peaks form. Slowly sprinkle the sugar onto the cream and beat to combine. Slowly pour the whiskey down the side of the bowl and beat to combine. Do not overbeat.

Cherry & Whiskey Upside Down Cake

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

pistachio & currant camping bars

When I was around 7 years old my best friend and I made an elaborate scheme to run away to the woods. We marked the date on my calendar and planned everything down to the most minute detail. We hoarded jugs of water and snacks. Our bags were packed, our red wagon was loaded. I don't remember what stopped us from going. Perhaps we were discovered by a perplexed parent. Maybe we always knew deep down that we weren't really going to go.

Even as a child I loved camping. In the summers, my dad would set up his giant green army tent in the back yard and we would sleep outside. When we took family camping trips it always rained and the people next to us always jammed to CCR and drank cheap beer around the campfire late into the night.

Lately, all I can think about is camping. Days spent hiking through the forest and reading on the beach. Stopping in your tracks to gaze at the stars because you forgot how beautiful they are without imposing city lights. The wafting scent of a campfire from your unwashed hair. Subsisting on only bison jerky, trail mix, and beer.

This year I thought we could expand our camping food repertoire. I love larabars and I've seen a lot of homemade versions floating around the 'net. I love a pistachio, so I thought I'd make some with those. I liked the bars a lot and will definitely be trying different combinations of fruits and nuts.

pistachio & currant camping bars

Pistachio & Currant Camping Bars

1/2 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 tbsp water

In a food processor, blend the dates, pistachios, and almonds until a crumbly dough is formed. Add the currants and process until combined. If the mixture seems too dry, add a tiny bit of water at a time until it begins to stick.

To shape the bars, put 1/4 of the mixture into wax paper and press into a bar shape. I used a small cutting board for the top and bottom and a large knife to flatten the sides.

Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 4 bars.

pistachio & currant camping bars

Thursday, April 4, 2013

vanilla coconut ice cream with dark chocolate chips

I am not religious, but I have the overwhelming guilt and love of altruistic abstinence that comes with being raised Catholic. So, I celebrate Lent. This year, I gave up gluten and animal products.

I think I enjoy the challenge of not being able to have a lot of foods. It makes you try new and unusual recipes that you might not if you have an easier alternative. This ice cream was one of those recipes.

I had never cooked with real vanilla beans or coconut before. This was mostly due to being a starving student living in an expensive city. It turns out that these items are both expensive and difficult to work with. The vanilla wasn't so bad, but the coconut had to be pounded open with a hammer and nails. Yikes!

The result was worth it. Lovely, animal and soy free ice cream without the need for an ice cream maker.

Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Chips

Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Chips

adapted from This Rawsome Vegan Life 

3 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 3-4 hours
1 1/2 cups coconut meat
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup raw agave syrup

Seeds from one vanilla bean
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
Chopped organic dark chocolate, to taste

In a blender or food processor, blend all of the ice cream ingredients, except the chocolate until smooth. Once, you ice cream looks creamy, add the chocolate until just blended.

Place in a sealable container and freeze. Remove your ice cream and defrost for 20-40 minutes. Place back into a blender or food processor and blend again. Spoon back into container and re-freeze. Remove from freezer at least five minutes before serving.
Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Chips

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Why do we dwell on what is lost?

I once thought if I left this place I would shed the layers of sadness that I sometimes seem to cloak myself in. As if never laying eyes on anything that reminded me of the past would erase it from existence. What I learned was that you cannot run from what is inside of you. All of the sadness you've ever felt will always be with you.

But you can forgive yourself.

And you can forgive others.

And mourning the dead forever won't make them come back to life.

My memories are always yellowed and scratched and filmed on a handheld camera. They are melancholy but lovely. Margarette Mitchell put it perfectly when she said,
I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken -- and I'd rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.

Monday, April 1, 2013

new music monday