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Bringing Home the Bakin'

bake my cake and eat it, too

Monthly Archives: May 2012

I’ve finally smoothed out all of the kinks, and have gotten in the groove of cooking. I’m really enjoying myself, and I can’t wait for you to see all of the delicious meals I have cooked!  This meal was so summer-y, and perfect for the warm weather we have been experiencing.

Arugula, Fennel, and Apricot Salad – Bon Appetit


  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 5-ounce container arugula leaves
  • 1 large fennel bulb, very thinly sliced, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fronds
  • 6 large apricots, pitted, sliced
  • 1/4 cup unsalted natural pistachios
  • Whisk vinegar and shallot in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Place arugula, sliced fennel, and apricots in large bowl. Whisk chopped fennel fronds into dressing. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer salad to large serving bowl. Sprinkle pistachios over and serve.

Cheese and Pepper Pasta (Cacio e Pepe) – Saveur


Kosher salt, to taste
1 lb. pasta, preferably tonnarelli or spaghetti (I used fettuccine)
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, plus more
to taste
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
3⁄4 cup finely grated Cacio de Roma


Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente, 8–10 minutes (DO NOT OVERCOOK!); reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain pasta. Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add pepper; cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Ladle 3⁄4 cup pasta water into skillet; bring to a boil. Using tongs, transfer pasta to skillet; spread it evenly. Sprinkle 3⁄4 cup each Pecorino Romano and Cacio de Roma over pasta; toss vigorously to combine until sauce is creamy and clings to the pasta without clumping, about 2 minutes, adding some pasta water if necessary. Transfer to 4 plates and sprinkle with remaining Pecorino and more pepper.


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The second night of cooking helped me to appreciate the difficulty of cooking for a large group.  There was a slight mishap (I forgot to double the recipes), so needless to say, some people had to go out to dinner and missed out on this FABULOUS meal.  Don’t worry, though, all three of these dishes will make their way into my repertoire, so they will taste them soon. Stay tuned for the rest of the week’s meals!

Vegan Cornbread – The Kind Diet, Alicia Silverstone


  • 1 cup sorghum or maple syrup (I like it better with sorghum)
  • 1 1/4 cups soy milk
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


Preheat the oven to 400*F. Oil a 9″X 9″ (or similar size) baking dish or 12-cup muffin tin. Combine sorghum, soy milk, and oil in a medium bowl and mix well. In another bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, and mix just until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread or a muffin comes out clean. They will be golden brown and crazy delicious.
Cucumber and Avocado Salad – Bon Appetit


  • 24 sprigs cilantro plus 1/4 cup coarsely chopped leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped peeled ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 2 dried chiles de árbol
  • 2 English hothouse cucumbers (about 2 pounds total), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 2 avocados, halved, pitted, sliced
  • 1/4 torn fresh basil leaves


  • Combine cilantro sprigs, ginger, garlic, and chiles in a resealable plastic freezer bag; seal. Lightly pound with a skillet or rolling pin until ginger and garlic are well mashed.
  • Add cucumbers, 1 tsp. salt, and sugar. Seal bag; shake to mix. Squeeze bag firmly to slightly mash cucumbers, 1–2 minutes. Place bag in a large bowl; let macerate at room temperature, turning halfway through, until juices form, about 35 minutes.
  • Empty contents of bag into bowl; turn bag inside out and scrape out any small bits. Discard cilantro sprigs. Mix in celery, juice, and oil. Season with more salt, if desired.
  • Divide avocado among plates; spoon salad over. Garnish with chopped cilantro and basil.

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard – Bon Appetit


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 3 cups (packed) coarsely chopped Swiss chard leaves (from 1 small bunch)


Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté until tender and golden, about 9 minutes. Add squash; stir 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Stir in beans, broth, and tomatoes with juices; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in chard; simmer until chard is tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

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I have a tendency to be overly-ambitious — sometimes, I bite off more than I can chew (pun intended).  However, this “flaw” can spur me to grow and learn.  For example, this Mother’s Day, my gift to my mom was to take over some of her obligations for the week.  In other words, I volunteered to help with the driving, and to cook dinner. With little culinary experience, my excitement quickly ebbed and evolved into anxiety and fear.  As I frantically checked my favorite online sources, as well as my most cherished cookbooks, the deliciousness of the potential meals calmed me down, and I started to draft menus.  Because my mom is a new vegetarian, I wanted to focus the week around her new eating habits.  The first night, I prepared a moroccan carrot salad to be served alongside roasted eggplant.  The flavors of these two dishes meld SO well, and everyone loved them.  The success of my first night gave me the confidence I needed to cook throughout the rest of the week.  Stay tuned!

Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce – Plenty,  Yotam Ottolenghi

2 large and long eggplants
1/3 cup olive oil
11⁄2 tsp lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish Maldon sea salt and black pepper
1 pomegranate
1 tsp za’atar


9 tbsp buttermilk
1⁄2 cup Greek yogurt
11⁄2 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish 1 small garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk (the stalk is for the look; don’t eat it). Use a small sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin. Repeat at a 45-degree angle to get a diamond- shaped pattern.

Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil – keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh. Sprinkle with the lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful and nicely browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down completely.

While the eggplants are in the oven, cut the pomegranate into two horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all are there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane.

To make the sauce. Whisk together all of the ingredients. Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed.

To serve, spoon plenty of buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves without covering the stalks. Sprinkle za’atar and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with lemon thyme. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Spicy Moroccan Carrot Salad – Plenty,  Yotam Ottolenghi

2 lbs carrots
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra to finish 1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar

3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium green chiles, finely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1⁄4 tsp ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp ground coriander
3⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp chopped preserved lemon
21⁄2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped, plus extra to garnish 1⁄2 cup Greek yogurt, chilled

Peel the carrots and cut them, depending on their size, into cylinders or semicircles 1⁄2 inch thick; all the pieces should end up roughly the same size. Place in a large saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until tender but still crunchy.
Drain in a colander and leave to dry out.

Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for 12 minutes on a medium heat until soft and slightly brown. Add the cooked carrots to the onion, followed by all the remaining ingredients, apart from the cilantro and yogurt. Remove from the heat. Season liberally with salt, stir well and leave to cool.

Before serving, stir in the cilantro, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of yogurt, a drizzle of oil and garnished with the extra cilantro.

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This morning, my sisters and I (all 5 of us) prepared a fabulous Mother’s Day Brunch for my mom, complete with freshly squeezed juices, steel cut oatmeal with an array of toppings, scrambled eggs with cream cheese and chives, and homemade biscuits with sorghum butter.  Only the best would do for our leading lady!  I know everyone claims their mom to be the best mom, but I know mine takes the cake.  My mom is the most selfless, loving, and empathetic person that I have ever encountered.  Our celebration today, as well as this post, are tribute to my mom — the best mom in the world!

Buttermilk Biscuits – Bon Appetit (Courtesy of Dot’s Diner)


  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Using fingertips, rub 3/4 cup chilled butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until evenly moistened. Using 1/4 cup dough for each biscuit, drop biscuits onto baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Sorghum Butter:

Blend 1 stick of unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons of sorghum butter.

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