I will start by saying I do not like red peppers and I do not like sriracha. Impossibly, I somehow love this pesto.
You already know none of my pictures came out looking at all appetizing–and since I trust you can all envision what a pesto looks like, I will leave you instead with a picture of MrKef finding the coin in the vasilopita this year:
My life with this man is filled with joy and happiness. Yours will be, too, if you make this delicious pesto and slather it on pretty much everything.
Red Pepper Sriracha Pesto
- 12 oz roasted red peppers
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/4 c pecan halves
- 2 oz feta cheese (about 1/4 c)
- 1 oz (about a handful) arugula or spinach
- sriarcha, to taste (in my house this was about 5 TBS- you do you)
- 1.5 TBS olive oil
- 1 TBS water
- Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse until desired texture, probably about 10-12 seconds.
- Slather on everything.
I’m 4-5 seconds from wildin’ and we got 3 more days til Friday, so today I gotta type and dash. Because I know my readership is full of people who turn up with Rihanna on Saturday and attend pinky-up high teas on Sunday, I present this pretty little cake especially for yall. The cake itself is dainty and sophisticated–pretty much what you’d expect from a tea loaf–and the cranberry swirl and candied lemons give it just enough sour sass to be memorable. Basically, a good girl gone bad.
To make this cake, I and combined a few recipes from the beautiful blog A Hint of Vanilla, the creator of which has artistry and genius that far exceed mine, so go check her out. Her bona fides include a world-class pastry education AND beautiful food photography, and all these recipes were easily made gluten/sugar free if you’re with me on that front. No word on whether she makes paragraphs-long Rihanna references, though.
Lemon Cranberry Tea Cake
–For the cranberry swirl
- 6 oz cranberries (about half of the bag you get in the grocery store)
- 60 mL brandy (I used a cherry brandy we bizarrely had hanging out)
- juice and zest of one orange
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch cloves
- 1/2 TBS vanilla
- 2 TBS maple syrup
–For the Cake
- 6TBS butter
- 1/3 c honey
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 c flour (I used CupforCup for gluten free)
- 1/2 c almond flour
- scant 1/2 c buttermilk (or 1/2 c milk + 1/4 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice)
–For the candied lemons
- 1 lemon
- 200 mL water
- 1/2 c sugar (I used coconut sugar and it was beautiful)
–For the lemon glaze
- 2 TBS butter
- 2 TBS honey
- 2 TBS milk
- zest and juice from 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- To make the cranberry swirl: place all the ingredients for the cranberry swirl in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat. Stir frequently. After about 5ish minutes, the cranberries will soften and burst–remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then, transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Texture will be something like smooth jam.
- To make candied lemons: slice the lemon as thin as you can–the original recipe suggest 1 mm, mine ended up somewhere about 3-4mm. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan, then turn heat down to low. Add lemon slices and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let lemon slices soak in syrup until ready to use.
- To make the cake: Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease two small loaf pans or one large one. Mix together dry ingredients, set aside. In a standing or electric mixer, cream together butter and honey until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- With the mixer on medium speed, add the egg, then turn up to medium-high for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat again for about 15 seconds. Add the egg yolk and beat on medium-high for another 20 seconds. This crazy beating schedule should get you a shiny batter.
- Using a rubber spatula, alternate folding in the dry flour mix and the buttermilk to the honey/butter/egg mixture. Begin and end with the dry mix, so that it takes 4 additions to use all the dry mix and 3 additions to use all the buttermilk. Do not overdo it- fold in until just combined. Finally, add in your desired amount of cranberry swirl and fold in–I used about 1/2 cup and think my bread could have used a bit more… start there and, if you decide to add, move up slowly. But again- don’t go crazy mixing this beautiful batter.
- Fill your prepared pans so each is about 2/3 full. Arrange 2-3 candied lemon slices on top. Bake the loaves for 30-40 minutes (mine took around 36 or 37), or until center is set and top is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool in pans.
- To make lemon glaze: Mix all glaze ingredients together in a small sauce pan until just simmering. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour/spoon glaze over cooled cake. Allow glaze to cool completely before serving.
A few weeks ago, we went really wild and talked about how vegetables can actually be dessert.. Today I bring you the counterpoint to that mind-boggling switch up: pancakes that are savory.
Like most things I’ve been posting lately, this isn’t my recipe and it came to my attention via QueijoKef, who always has her finger on the pulse of what’s good on Instagram. These pancakes check all my boxes– they’re veggie based, easy to make, AND they incorporate the world’s must under-appreciated herb: sage. As I’ve been saying: no one knows you like your college roommate.
I whipped these up after a long run on Saturday and was thrilled to find they taste like a more sophisticated Red Lobster cheddar biscuit. This, of course, meant I decided it was appropriate to wake my poor husband out of a deep slumber with a resounding, “FAM’S EATING CHEDDAR BISCUITS, GRANDDAD!” If that reference means nothing to you, watch seasons 1&2 of the Boondocks and get back to me.
Anyway, MrKef and I both loved these without reservation or qualification. I am reposting the recipe here because our president thinks he can turn off corners of the internet and I would never want to lose this recipe– but please know it comes from the geniuses at SmittenKitchen.
Butternut and Parmesan Pancakes
- 1 c roasted and mashed butternut squash (this was about 1/2 small squash for me)
- 1/3 c Greek yogurt (you already know I used Fage)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 c finely grated gruyere, comte or parmesan
- 3/4 tsp fine sea or table salt
- A few grinds of black pepper
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 c all-purpose flour (I used Cup4Cup for gluten free)
- Butter or olive oil for frying pan
- 2 to 3 tablespoons butter
- pinch or two of salt
- a few fresh sage leaves
- Preheat oven to 425F. Quarter butternut and lightly grease flesh with olive oil. Place on cookie sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping them around 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, scoop out 1 cup and mash until mostly smooth.
- In a large bowl, whisk squash, yogurt, eggs, cheese, salt, pepper and baking powder until smooth. Add flour and stir until just combined. Batter will be thick.
- Heat a large frying over medium-low to medium heat. Coat the bottom with butter or olive oil, or a combination thereof, and spoon in pancake batter, a heaped soup spoon or scant 1/4 cup at a time. Press the back of the batter mound to flatten the pancake slightly. Cook until golden brown underneath, flip and then cook until the color until golden brown on the second side. If this is happening very fast, lower your heat. If you’re worried pancakes have not cooked in the center, you can finish them for 10 minutes in a 250 degrees oven. You can also keep your pancakes warm there until needed. Repeat with remaining batter.
- To finish, wipe out frying pan and place butter, a pinch or two of salt and sage leaves back in it, heating over medium. The sage leaves will crisp and the butter will brown in a minute or two so keep a close watch on it. Pour leaves and butter over pancakes and quickly understand why you’ll never have them another way.
JetSet and KimmieKef recommended the sort-of-new cookbook Smashing Plates. I got it last week, and pretty much every page is already dog-eared for future cooking. I hope you’re all looking forward to some new Greek Easter dishes this year… or at least being conscripted into taste-testing the recipes I try.
Our recipe for today actually comes from the author’s web site, which is equally replete with new takes on traditional Greek fare. It also answers the question JetSet has been wondering for the last 7 years or so: how can we make vegetables dessert? The answer, it turns out, is to combine caramelized onions cooked down with cinnamon, tomatoes, feta, almonds, dill, and dates, and then to layer them with phyllo and butter.
Yeah, she went a little crazy with the filter– sue me. At least I’m trying.
It’s important you know that this pie is neither sweet nor savory–it’s the best of both. MrKef and some non-Greek, normal eaters gave the swavory thing big thumbs up, and I would definitely recommend this pie for a brunch–because who the hell knows which meal or flavor we’re supposed to be eating at 11:30am with a bottomless carafe of mimosa, anyway?
Tomato, feta, almond and date baklava
- 1/3 c olive oil
- 1 large or 2 medium white onions, finely sliced or minced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of granulated sugar (I used coconut sugar)
- 1 bunch dill, finely chopped (or 3 teaspoons dried)
- 10 vine plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded and roughly chopped (keep half of the juice)
- 3 TBS tomato purée
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 packet phyllo pastry (9 sheets)
- about 1/2 stick butter, melted (sub olive oil- this is just for spreading on the phyllo)
- 3/4 c sliveredalmonds, ground down to a crumble (either by food processor or just by banging them)
- 7-8 large Medjool dates, pitted and finely sliced
- 2 c feta cheese, crumbled
- 4 tablespoons clear honey (optional)
- Lightly butter or oil the bottom and sides of your longest pyrex pan or rectangular aluminium baking dish (I used a 13×9 pyrex). Preheat oven to 375F.
- Heat olive oil in a large-bottomed pan. Gently fry the onions over a low heat, add the garlic, cinnamon and sugar, then increase the heat. Fry for about 12 minutes, until caramelized. Add the dill, tomatoes and half of their juices and the tomato puree and cook for another 10 minutes, until reduced. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Remove outer bag from phyllo, and gently roll out the dough. If you are new at phyllo, lightly dampen a paper towel and cover the dough with it, as it dries out if you are moving slowly. Place one sheet of phyllo in the greased baking dish, then gently brush it with melted butter or olive oil, being very generous. Be sure to get all the corners and ends. Repeat 3 more times, for a total of 4 layers. Don’t worry too much if these layers rip, as they will be covered by deliciousness in a minute anyway.
- Spread half the onion mixture over the pastry, top with half the almonds, the dates and half the feta. Repeat butter/phyllo layers for another 4 layers, and top with the remaining onions, almonds and feta. Do another 4-5 layers of phyllo/butter, making sure that the last one is as pretty and untorn as possible.
- Lightly score the top, cutting diamonds or squares, brush with butter and splash with a little water. Place on a baking tray and cook for 30–35 minutes until golden.To get maximum flakiness, turn up the heat to 400F for the last 5 minutes of baking, keeping a close eye to avoid burning.
At our staff end-of-year party, a coworker made the best thing ever: a cauliflower mash with the taste of stuffing and the texture of mashed potatoes. It is as easy as roasting two heads of cauliflower and whirling it with some other delicious ingredients in a food processor. For the love of all things holy, go whip this up for your next meal.
Rosemary Cauliflower Mash
- 6.5 TBS olive oil
- 2 heads of cauliflower, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 1 head garlic
- about 1/4 c whole milk or half and half
- half stick of butter
- ancho chili powder (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400F. Toss cauliflower in 4-5 TBS olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice the head of garlic across the top so all the cloves are exposed. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the garlic and wrap loosely in tinfoil. Roast the cauliflower until tender and garlic until fragrant and soft, about 40 minutes. While those roast, saute the onion with the remaining olive oil until soft and fragrant.
- Place the roasted cauliflower in food processor. Squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves into the food processor. Add remaining ingredients and grind to desired texture, adding milk if necessary.