Leek Bread Pudding + Coconut Loaf

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{Smitten Kitchen‘s Leek Bread Pudding}

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{Sprouted Kitchen‘s Coconut Loaf}

I’m not entirely sure that these two recipes go together, but they’ve both been on my “to make” list for awhile now and they’re both made in loaf pans, so I thought maybe they should share a post. They’d also both be excellent additions to your Easter brunch menu, if you’re looking for new ideas – so that’s three things they have in common. I’ve been meaning to try the leek bread pudding for literally years now, and it did not disappoint. I’ve made the coconut bread before, but I’ve been wanting to do it for the blog and I’m so glad I did because it was even better than I remembered. I’ve been trying to avoid wheat lately, but I splurged on a piece of this fresh from the oven last night and it was worth every bite.

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This bread pudding couldn’t be easier, as bread puddings go. Just cube your bread and stick it in the oven for about 20 minutes, and sauté your leeks while the bread is toasting. Deb suggests stale brioche, which I’m sure is ideal, but I used a loaf of fresh french bread and it worked just fine. The recipe calls for one cup of leeks, but I used closer to two and it was delicious – and next time I might even use more (I bought three leeks and only used two of them – I think I could have used the third and it would have been a welcome addition, although it was fine with just the two. Deb also suggests you could sauté any other veggies you like along with the leeks and add them in as well).

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Layer your toasted bread cubes and leeks with cheese, pour a custard over it, and it’s ready to go into the oven. Again, the recipe calls for small amounts of chives and thyme; next time I’ll probably use more – although it was delicious as is. Deb noted that you could add more cheese as well, so of course I stirred a little grated parmesan in with my eggs and milk. It didn’t need it but of course it didn’t hurt.

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An hour later, you have a toasty, bubbling casserole that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Breakfast: warm, perhaps with an egg or bacon on top (not me personally – gross! – but others might like it that way); lunch: cold, with a crisp green salad; dinner: alongside a roasted chicken breast or something of that nature. I think it’s adorable in the loaf pan, but you could double the recipe and it would work in a 9″ X 13″ casserole dish (that’s my plan for Easter brunch). Savory bread pudding, who knew?

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And then, if you’re in the mood for something sweet, this divine coconut loaf from one of my favorite cookbooks. I love the Sprouted Kitchen blog, of course, but her cookbook is really worth getting as every recipe I’ve tried from it has been to die for.  As I’ve mentioned here many times already, I love anything with coconut,  so of course this bread is a safe bet – coconut flakes, coconut oil, and coconut milk.  I would call this recipe “healthy-ish” – it’s still a loaf of bread, and it still has sugar in it, but there’s enough whole wheat flour, coconut oil, and lack of white sugar and butter that I feel ok about eating it. I was calling it vegan until I remembered it has eggs in it (duh!), but it is dairy free.

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Again, super easy. Toast your coconut, combine your dry ingredients and your wet ones, and stir them together – two bowls, one spoon (ok, I used a spoon and a whisk), no mixer, easy cleanup. So much fun to stir cake batter with a spoon, I felt like a pioneer woman.  Is this how our grandmothers did things all those years?

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When I’ve made this recipe before I’ve never bothered with the glaze, but I did it just for blog purposes and was prepared to tell you you could skip this step – but it turns out the glaze is delicious. It adds a little extra sweetness and moisture to the cake, which isn’t necessarily needed but I appreciated it. Sara suggests serving the cake with fresh blackberries; I used strawberries here and it was SUCH a good combination. This is also something that could be served as breakfast or dessert (or perhaps just a snack!) – which I guess means it has more in common with the bread pudding than I initially thought. (Note: if you aren’t serving the cake warm from the oven, Sara suggests you toast your slices under the broiler for a minute or two).

One year ago: Chicken Pot Pie (two ways) and Chocolate Pudding

Leek Bread Pudding, from Smitten Kitchen via Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

Yield: 6 servings (as a side dish)

1 cup leeks (or more to taste), white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed, and cut into 1/2″ thick slices
Kosher (or coarse) salt
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1″ cubed crustless brioche or other bread (about one loaf)
2 teaspoons chives, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 cups whole milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half (or a combination thereof – I used 2 cups whole milk and one cup half and half)
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded Comté, Emmanthaler or Swiss cheese (I used Gruyère and a little extra Parmesan)

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, drain excess water from leeks, and add to pan. Season with salt, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While leeks are cooking, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl, leaving the oven on.

Add leeks, chives, and thyme to the bowl of bread and toss well. In another large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in milk or cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle two tablespoons shredded cheese in the bottom of a buttered 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Spread 1/2 of bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another two tablespoons cheese. Spread remaining bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread, and gently press on bread so milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add remaining milk mixture, letting some bread cubes protrude. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Coconut Loaf, from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

Yield: 6-8 slices

1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (I used flaked)
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (I used light)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup organic powdered sugar, or more as needed
Berries, for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 1/2″ loaf pan with a thin coat of coconut oil.

Spread the shredded coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until just golden brown, about four minutes.  Watch it carefully, as it can burn quickly. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping the loaf.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the toasted coconut and the turbinado sugar.  Sift the flours, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs together, then whisk in one cup of the coconut milk, the coconut oil, and the vanilla.   Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 45-50 minutes (mine took 55). Remove loaf from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

While the loaf is cooling, combine 1/4 cup of the remaining coconut milk and the powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk until there are no clumps. Add more sugar or more coconut milk to taste, depending on the consistency you prefer (you won’t use the entire can of coconut milk). Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut on top.  Cut into slices (wait for the loaf to fully cool or your slices will crumble).  Toast each slice, if you like.  Serve with a handful of fresh berries.  YUM!!

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Whole Grain Pear Hazelnut Muffins

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This cookbook has been all over my favorite food blogs of late, so I ordered it despite the fact that my breakfast typically consists of a green smoothie (or a Starbucks bagel on the too-common occasion that I’m out of a green smoothie ingredient). So far I’ve made the whole grain pancake mix, the blueberry breakfast bars, and these muffins. I’ve given the pancake mix as birthday and hostess gifts, and it’s been a hit. I made the blueberry bars when I spent the night with my friend Kyle and her picky toddler year old last week – Ellie gobbled them up, but Kyle and I decided that, while delicious, they seemed more like dessert than breakfast.  Next on my list of recipes to try: Bacon and Kale Polenta Squares (hold the bacon), Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp (although I suspect it, like the blueberry bars, might also be better suited as dessert), and Zucchini Farro Cakes – YUM.  And of course variations of this granola.  These muffins, though, are a definite win – you can do them ahead of time, and they really do feel healthy – the perfect breakfast treat.

My grandfather passed away a few weeks ago, at the age of 94. He spent the last few days of his life in the hospital, which was not the way he would have wanted to go, but he received such wonderful care from the doctors and nurses that we were all glad he was there. I wanted to do something nice for the nursing staff as a thank you and had planned to bake these cookies, but my cousin Christina (a nurse herself) suggested bringing in something healthier, as nurses get a lot of cookies.  I had seen these muffins on a couple blogs, and this seemed like the perfect excuse to try them.

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I love the idea of cooking with whole grains – especially oats – and the pears make the muffins incredibly moist and dense without being too heavy. Sara from Sprouted Kitchen suggests a way to make them gluten free; Deb from Smitten Kitchen suggests you add chocolate, which they definitely don’t need, but I would imagine would be delicious.   Point being, you can swap out ingredients or doctor them up any way you like. I loved the pears but you could definitely use apples too.

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It looks like a lot of bowls (and it is), but it’s really only the dry ingredients and the wet, combined with my tendency to make a mess in the kitchen and dirty more bowls than necessary. Deb includes suggestions to “streamline the recipe” (use fewer bowls) for anyone that doesn’t have the luxury of a dishwasher.

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You could chop the nuts in a food processor, but I was worried they would get ground up too finely so I used a ziplock bag and my go-to crushing utensil, a bottle of wine. I also ate a lot of hazelnuts in the process, yum.

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Pear-Hazelnut Oat Muffins, from Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon (she’s a Seattle gal so I’m extra happy to support her!)

Makes 12 standard muffins (and maybe a few more)

3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 firm medium pears, such as Bartlett (you want them firm so they don’t get too mushy when you grate them)
2/3 cup natural cane sugar, such as turbinado
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan (I’m going to try coconut oil next time)
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin, or line with papers.

In a bowl, combine the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

Peel and core the pears, then grate them into a bowl using the large holes of a box grater (or the grater attachment of your food processor). You should end up with about 1 cup of shredded pear [Note: I doubled the recipe so grated four pears, and ended up with about four cups of grated pear, unpacked – I dumped them all into my batter and the muffins turned out fine. Just in case you were worried about ending up with too much grated pear].

Put the sugar in a large bowl. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the butter to the sugar and stir until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and pear until you have what resembles a loose batter. Add the flour mixture and fold it in gently. Reserve 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts to sprinkle on top of the muffins; stir the other 1/2 cup into the batter. Be careful not to overmix.

Fill the muffin cups almost to the top with batter, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup hazelnuts. Put the muffins in the oven and immediately decrease the heat to 375 F. Bake until the tops are golden brown and feel firm to the touch, even in the center, 25-27 minutes (they might look done before they really are – the tops will brown before the fruit-filled centers are cooked through).

Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan. Muffins will keep in an airtight container for up to two days; they also freeze well.

All wrapped up for Grandpa's nurses, along with boxes of See's chocolates, his favorite

All wrapped up for Grandpa’s nurses, along with boxes of See’s chocolates – his favorite

Hello, Autumn: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies & Pumpkin Pecan Granola

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In case I haven’t already mentioned it, I’m pretty excited that fall is finally here.  I celebrated the autumn equinox yesterday with my first fantasy football win (woop!), and both my Huskies and Seahawks are off to a 3-0 start (unlike my fantasy team, which is now 1-2, or 1-1-1 if you don’t count tie-breakers, which I don’t think I should have to when they don’t go in my favor).  As much as I’m mourning the end of flip flop weather and longer, lighter days, I can’t wait to dig my boots, sweaters, and puffy vests out of the back of my closet, and start low-lighting my hair again.  And of course, before I’ve done any of that, I’ve already started making a few fall treats.  I’m going to try to refrain from overwhelming the blog with too many pumpkin-themed recipes between now and Thanksgiving, but I want to at least get a few of my favorites in before I delve into hearty soups and apple tarts (which I’m also pretty excited about).

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This cookie recipe is courtesy of my friend Amanda, who loves what she calls the “harvest season,” and everything associated with it, more than anyone else I know (this “some e card” that was going around social media last week applies even more to her than it does to me).  She made me these cookies a few years ago, and every year since I’ve had to ask her for the recipe as soon as it starts to feel like fall. In turn, everyone I make them for asks me for the recipe (or in many cases, just asks me to make them again and again), so I thought it only appropriate to post them as B&B’s inaugural pumpkin recipe. I made pumpkin snickerdoodles last week, and I have a pumpkin-oatmeal-raisin recipe on my “to try” list, but I feel like Amanda’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are pretty hard to beat.

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Amanda Brown’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies 

1/2 cup shortening (or butter; see note 1, below)
1 cup sugar (see note 2, below)
1 cup pumpkin purée
2 eggs
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, or 1 cup raisins and 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, then add pumpkin and eggs and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients and then add to pumpkin mixture. Stir in chocolate chips or nuts and raisins. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes.  Makes 2 1/2-3 dozen cookies, depending upon size.

Note 1: the recipe calls for shortening, which kind of grosses me out, but I use it anyways because I think it helps the cookies hold their shape. I suspect butter would be fine here, so if the idea of shortening doesn’t appeal to you, or if you don’t have it on hand, try butter instead (and let me know how it turns out).  Your cookies might be a little bit flatter, but that’s ok.

Note 2: the recipe calls for 1 cup granulated sugar; I often use 1/2 cup granulated and 1/2 cup brown and you can’t tell the difference. I know the “health” factor in that substitution is negligible, but it still makes me feel a bit better.

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In case anyone wants a non-cookie option, and because there’s no such thing as too much pumpkin, I thought this would be a good week for two recipes.  I’ve been patiently waiting to share this granola with you all since I first started Blueberries and Basil this past February (well past pumpkin season, which is why it’s had to wait until now).  I saw Sprouted Kitchen’s pumpkin granola on a cooking show last fall, and it looked so yummy that I immediately ordered her cookbook off of Amazon; while the book turned out to be a great overall investment, it would be worth it for the granola alone.  Homemade granola has been one of my favorite treats since my mom started making it a few years back, using her friend Finnegan’s recipe (thanks, Finn!).  Melissa Clark’s coconut granola, which was an early blog post, is similar to Finn’s, only using coconut oil; not surprisingly, this version follows a similar formula,  but uses (duh) canned pumpkin.  It would be hard to pick a favorite between the three, but this one really does seem perfect for this time of year, when clearly I like to make pumpkin-themed everything.  The pecans are a delicious, toasty addition, as are the golden raisins, but just like with any granola you can tweak the add-ins to your liking.  The recipe only calls for one-third cup of pumpkin, so even if you double the recipe, which I would recommend doing, a fifteen-ounce can of pumpkin still yields enough leftover to make the cookies above (or vice versa, if you make the cookies, save the rest of the pumpkin for granola).

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Sprouted Kitchen’s Pumpkin Pecan Granola, from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup (I use Grade A, which is a lot cheaper – don’t tell!)
1/3 cup pumpkin purée
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raw pecan pieces
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup crimson or golden raisins

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, and pumpkin purée and whisk to combine. Add the oats, pecans, and sesame seeds and stir until evenly coated. Spread the mixture on the baking sheet, keeping some of the clusters of oats and nuts intact so that the finished granola will have some chunks. Bake the granola, stirring every so often by scooping the mixture from the edges of the pan toward the middle and spreading it evenly again, until dry and light brown in color, 35 to 45 minutes (be sure to bake in a single layer, or steam created in the crowded pan will keep the granola from turning crisp). Remove from the oven and allow the granola to cool a few minutes. Add the raisins and toss to mix. Add another pinch or two of salt if needed. Cool completely before storing. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Makes about three cups (so I would recommend doubling the recipe).

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I usually just eat this by the handful, but it’s delicious plain with milk, or sprinkled on top of yogurt or oatmeal. If you don’t make cookies with your extra pumpkin, stir a little into your oatmeal and then top with granola for an extra-pumpkin-y treat.  Happy harvest baking!

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Homemade Pesto, Two Ways

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I’ll never forget the first time I went to Italy, in 2002, and discovered “pesto genovese.” I had read that the Cinque Terre was the birthplace of pesto, and thus rationalized ordering gnocchi alla pesto at every meal for weeks. A classic basil pesto, made of just seven ingredients, it was somehow so much more delicious there than anywhere I had ever had it here – and remains more delicious than any I’ve had since (but for a couple trips back).

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I plant basil every spring, use it throughout the summer, and somehow have an abundance turning to flower in August.  As such, last week I decided to make a batch of pesto to freeze (one of my favorite uses for pesto, aside from just using it as a pasta sauce, is to use it as a garnish for minestrone soup all winter – freezing small amounts in an ice cube tray is the perfect way to have homemade pesto on hand year round).  And as long as I was in the pesto spirit, I tried a kale pesto recipe that had been on my to-do list as well. While the classic pesto is always delicious (although nowhere close to the Italian version), the kale version is pretty dang good too, and you can feel that much better about yourself.

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Classic basil pesto, Barefoot Contessa version: pine nuts, walnuts, garlic

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Blend in the parm, basil, salt and pepper, and then add the olive oil until it reaches the consistency you’d like. Ina calls for a fair amount of oil, I used less. I do wish I had blanched the basil leaves, as some recipes recommend – it helps remove any bitter flavor and helps the leaves maintain their bright green color as well.

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Basil Pesto, from Barefoot Contessa

1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup walnuts (you could use all pine nuts for a more traditional pesto, or all walnuts for a cheaper and healthier alternative)
3 tablespoons garlic, or 9 cloves (I used a little less)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Place the pine nuts, walnuts, and garlic into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds, then add the basil, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly add the oil through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly puréed. Add the parmesan and purée for another minute.  Use immediately, or store pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of oil on top (any exposure to air will turn your beautiful bright green sauce brown within minutes, it’s just heartbreaking).

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This kale pesto is pretty similar to the basil pesto recipe, only it uses all walnuts, and lemon juice to brighten it up a bit. I used the bagged kale from Trader Joe’s because I was too lazy to drive to another grocery store, but its a lot easier to cut out the stems when you’re working with whole leaves.  Here you definitely need to blanch the kale leaves, and remove the stems, or it will be too bitter.  Even if you aren’t a kale lover, this is a delicious and super healthy pesto that could be used as a sauce (thinned with water), a dip or a spread.

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Kale Pesto, from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

1 small bunch lacinato or Tuscan kale, stemmed and chopped (about 4 cups)
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (I used a little more)
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons water
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (or a little more)

Blanch the kale leaves for about a minute, then transfer to a strainer and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Once the kale has cooled, squeeze out the excess water and set aside. You should have about a cup and a half of kale.

In a food processor, combine the garlic, parmesan, lemon juice, and walnuts and pulse to chop. Add the kale, water, and 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper and pulse to combine (I added a handful of basil here as well). Turn the processor on and drizzle in the olive oil until you get the consistency you like (I thinned it with a little too much water, which is why it looks like gross green water in the picture – I promise it tastes better than it looks).

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Smitten Kitchen’s Cherry-Almond Galette

There’s just something about cherries and summer, right? Like when you see them at the market, you just can’t not buy them. These local Ranier cherries were on “sale” at my little market, although even on sale they somehow ended up costing $14 ~ so I decided that meant I had to do something fun with them (or rather, with what remained after I ate a good portion of them immediately after purchasing).

I bought a cherry pitter last summer in the hopes of making a sour cherry pie – but alas, sour cherries are hard/impossible to find these days, so my pitter sadly went unused. As I was flipping through my Smitten Kitchen cookbook the other night, however, looking for some new ideas to help a girlfriend throw a dinner party, I stumbled upon this and realized that I had literally all of the ingredients already in my fridge/freezer/pantry – and that never happens.   Needless to say, I didn’t find any dinner party inspiration – sorry Krista! – but I had found an excuse to use my cherry pitter.

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Almond frangipane, yum.

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I’ve had a single pie crust taking up space in my freezer since this experiment back in March, so as much as I love making crust from scratch, this seemed like a great excuse to get rid of it (and also explains why the crust in the photos above looks so perfect). The most time consuming part was pitting the cherries – which technically you don’t even have to do (a lot of what you read says leaving the pits in really helps with the flavor, if not with reducing your dinner guests’ risk of choking). Everything else took about five minutes.

It looked prettier before than after.

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I thought I’d get clever and sprinkle the top with slivered almonds before I baked the galette – but they didn’t get brown and toasty like I imagined they would, so next time I’ll toast them separately and then sprinkle them on top after the galette comes out of the oven – and extra to sprinkle on top of the (absolutely necessary) ice cream.

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This was delicious warm from the oven, but I have it on good authority that its pretty good cold as well. If you like the idea of a galette (so much easier than a pie!) but want a healthier option, I’m going to try this version next (and if you don’t already read Sprouted Kitchen, you should – I love Hugh’s photos and the way Sara writes, as well as the recipes).

Almond and Sweet Cherry Galette, from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Pastry: Smitten Kitchen’s favorite pastry recipe here (you only need half of it for this galette), or your favorite pastry recipe (or store-bought, like me).

Filling:

1/3 cup sliced, slivered, or coarsely chopped almonds, blanched if you can get them (almond meal worked for me)
1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg white
1 pound sweet cherries, any variety or a mix of varieties

To Finish:

1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon coarse sugar (I used sugar in the raw)
Confectioners sugar, for dusting
Ice cream and/or toasted slivered almonds, to top

Make pastry: the dough should be refrigerated for at least an hour before you use it in this recipe.

Make filling: finely grind almonds and flour in a food processor (if you use almond meal, you can just use a bowl and a spoon – and it just dawned on me that you could probably omit the flour). Mix in sugar, butter, and extract, then egg white. Blend until smooth. Cover and chill until needed.

Prepare galette: preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the almond filling evenly over the bottom of the galette dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Scatter the cherries on top. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit; the center will be open. Whisk egg yolk with water, brush crust with egg wash mixture and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake galette until the filling is puffed and the crust is golden brown, about 30 – 40 minutes, rotating front to back halfway through for even browning.  Cool, and serve with dusted powdered sugar, ice cream, and toasted slivered almonds.

Friday Faves

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Somehow it feels like it’s been the longest week ever, even though Monday was a holiday (I worked, but I went into the office in a sweatshirt and yoga pants, so it still felt kind of like a holiday). The past few days of rain and 37 degree temperatures have me SO excited for my trip to Scottsdale tomorrow – despite the fact that I have to leave for the airport at 5 am. I can’t wait to park myself in a chaise lounge and soak up some much needed Vitamin D. But in the meantime, some highlights from the week:

We all know the right jewelry can add interest or personality to an outfit, especially when your wardrobe mainly consists of black, like mine does. I’ve never been much of an accessorizer, but lately I’ve been trying to be better about it. As a general rule, I don’t like to pay full price at J. Crew, but three of these bracelets were on final sale (40% off the already-reduced sale price), and the fourth was on “promotion” – somehow different than “sale,” a J. Crew “promotion” means an item is 25% off, yet still returnable. Woop! I wore these to work the day after I bought them and, even though I had to take them off in order to actually do any work (who can wear a bracelet and type?), I like to think that for the 10 minutes they were actually on my wrist, I looked like a whole new person.

Flywheel is a hip new(ish) spin/barre studio in Seattle, and on top of the great classes and free towels/lockers/hair powder, one of the things I love about it is that so many of my friends work out there. As much as I don’t love getting out of bed early on the weekends, it’s much easier to do so when you’ve made plans to meet your girlfriends for a class and then get breakfast afterwards. I had a fun barre-and-croissant date with my friends Lindsay and Meredith this past Saturday, and Meredith made Lindsay and me homemade hairbands and headbands for the occasion. You know the super cute colorful elastics that don’t tear your hair? I’ve been paying $5 for a pack of three – Mer is so crafty and economical, she orders the elastic online and makes her own (check out her blog here and you’ll see she’s a serious DIY-er). And if you ever want to get really crafty, I stumbled upon this blog when I was google-searching how to buy the elastic to do it myself – if only I owned a “silhouette machine” I would totally do this.

A month or so ago an old trainer of mine posted a blog link on facebook, with the caption that the blog listed a few “small changes” people could make to improve their overall health and fitness. Always looking for self improvement tips, I clicked onto the link and discovered Sarah Adler’s blog Simply Real Health, which I would encourage anyone to read if they’re interested (healthy recipes, etc). The “small” changes, however, seemed pretty big to me – but one was “drink more green tea than coffee.” Seeing as how two of my goals were already “drink green tea” and “spend less money at Starbucks,” I’ve been attempting to do this over the past few weeks. While it hasn’t been easy – old habits die hard, especially when you have a boring job and there’s a Starbucks in your building – this TAZO tea is really helping me stay on track. I think the orange-y flavor (remember the original Starbucks flavor “wild sweet orange” that they don’t have any more?) makes it taste less “green” and bitter. And it has jasmine in it too, yum. Just one cup of this in the morning and I feel like I’m totally sticking to my New Years Resolutions, even if I did eat an entire basket of chips and have two cocktails at Cactus last night.

My friend Courteney is in town from Boston this week, and she brought her adorable two month old baby Charlie with her. Her sister (and also my friend) Kyle is hosting all of Court’s Seattle girlfriends at her house tonight so that we can all see Court and meet Charlie. Kyle pretty much has the whole entertaining thing down these days so she doesn’t need my help at all, but obviously I can’t show up empty handed. As these girls both have better taste in wine than I do, I thought it would be fun to bring a sweet treat instead. I saw these on one of my favorite blogs earlier in the week and decided this would be the perfect excuse to try them. I couldn’t find black sprinkles, so Court is such a colorful person that I decided to use multicolored sprinkles instead. Good friends, a sweet new baby to cuddle, wine, and a sweet and salty treat – perfect Friday night!

I really love both the Sprouted Kitchen blog and cookbook – it’s so much more fun to cook and eat healthy with fun new recipes, rather than just eating green salads with grilled chicken ad nauseam. The following kale “chopped” salad is from the cookbook, and it’s my new go-to for packing lunches on the weekdays. Kale (especially Tuscan kale) is perfect for packing lunches because you can toss the leaves with the dressing, and they don’t wilt – and for anyone who isn’t sold on raw kale yet, the dressing almost serves as a marinade to soften it up and take some of the bitterness away. On weeks when I really have my act together, I’ll buy a couple bunches of kale on Sunday, and then prep it (wash, cut out center rib, chop into bite sized pieces) when I get home. Then each morning before work (or night before, even) I’ll do one tupperware with kale and dressing, and another with the remainder of the salad ingredients (I don’t like them to get soggy in the dressing) and I have a delicious lunch to bring into work. Also worth noting: I am typically a salad-dressing-hater, but this vinaigrette recipe is delicious – I suspect it has something to do with the cheese.

Tuscan Kale Chopped Salad (from the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook, by Sara Forte)

Serves 4

Parmesan Vinaigrette
1 small shallot, chopped (I roast mine first)
Juice of 1 meyer lemon (or regular lemon if you can’t find meyer)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad
2 slices rustic whole-grain bread, torn into bite size pieces (I usually omit this)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 bunch lacinato (Tuscan) kale
1 apple, such as Braeburn, Gala, or Pink Lady (I’ve been using Honeycrisp, yummm)
1 cup cooked chickpeas, chopped
1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped

To make the vinaigrette, combine the shallot, lemon juice, parmesan, and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth, then add a pinch of salt and pepper and give one last pulse. Set aside.

Toss the bread with the olive oil and salt. Toast in a toaster oven or in a sauté pan over medium heat until the exterior of the bread is crispy, about 10 minutes.

To assemble the salad, cut the tough stems out of the kale and finally chop the leaves. Put the chopped kale in a large bowl. Core and dice the apple and add to the kale along with the chickpeas, pecans and cherries. Add half of the dressing and toss to combine. Taste and add more dressing if you like. Divide among four salad plates and garnish each serving with crispy croutons immediately before serving.

Happy Friday, everyone! Did I mention I’m off to Scottsdale tomorrow? The forecast isn’t quite what I’d hoped for (high 70s), but at least it’s going to be sunny. Hopefully I’ll have some fun pics and stories to share when I get back! XOXO