Category Archives: Dessert

Food Matters Project #32: Cardamom & Pistachio Pear Crisp

And we’re back with another installment of the Food Matters Project!  This past week, on February 1st, this little project celebrate it’s 1 year anniversary!  I’m really glad that I have been involved in these weekly posts- it’s given me an opportunity to think a little outside of the box, and encourage me to try different recipes.  Most of all, it’s been a wonderful opportunity to connect with other bloggers who enjoy a great cookbook!  Thanks to all those that participate, and all the readers at home!

This weeks recipe was chosen by Camilla, of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  She chose Mark Bittman’s recipe for Cardamom-Scented Pear Crisp, from the Food Matters Cookbook.  Check out Camillas post on her Cranberry & Pear Cardamom-Scented Crisp.  Also, take a peak what other bloggers did with this recipe.

Camilla has also hosted these Food Matters Project dishes: Wheat Berries with Braised Beef & Parsnips, Fish Nuggets Braised in Rhubarb Sauce.  While we were still on our honeymoon during one of those recipes, here’s the fish version of our dish: Cod in Spicy Rhubarb Sauce.

Whenever I go to the grocery store and see that a bag of pistachio’s is “buy 1, get 1 free”- I always grab a bag (or two).  They are a versatile nut that can be used in many baked goods, or they’re a perfect mid-day snack.  How do you use or eat your pistachio’s?

Pear Crisp

This was a great dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  This dish was delicious since it was not overly sweet, a perfect pairing with tea in the morning.  Sam and I finished it off as breakfast leftovers with some honey-flavored Greek yogurt.

Pear Crisp

Cardamom & Pistachio Pear Crisp
Adapted from: The Food Matters Cookbook (pg 568)

4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
2 pears, cored & sliced
1 tsp cardamom

In a large bowl with a mixer, cream together butter, oil and sugar.  Then stir in the pistachios, lemon juice, oats, flour and salt.  Mix until the ingredients are combined.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Spray a tart pan with cooking spray, or grease it with butter.

Press the dough into a tart pan, using only 3/4 of the dough.  Next lay out the pear pieces on top of the dough, then sprinkle with cardamom.  Lastly, sprinkle the last of the dough over the pears.

Bake the crisp for 30 minutes, or until the crust starts to brown.  Serve once it cools with a scoop of ice cream.

Almond & Coconut Rice Pudding

I get excited when a fresh issue of a cooking magazine shows up in our mailbox- so much inspiration, so many recipes to try out!  Check out which magazines we like to flip through on our “Blogs, Books & Magazines” page.  I also like it when I have ingredients to make particular recipes, without having to break the bank- or keep visiting the grocery store.

When I was flipping through the January issue of Food and Wine, I spotted a recipe for Almond-Milk Rice Pudding.  Knowing that I had about the exact amount of sushi rice in our pantry I’ve been wanting to use up, I thought this would be the perfect dessert, or snack, throughout the week.

Almond & Coconut Milk

The week prior, we had access to a car (thanks Carrie!) and I had bought various (delicious) items at Trader Joe’s.  Two of them were almond and coconut milk.  Not too familiar with these liquids?  Almond milk is made from ground almonds, and a great substitute if you have dairy allergies.  Coconut milk is made from grated coconut, also a great milk substitute, and used in many vegan and vegetarian dishes.  I recommend using the unsweetened versions, making this a little healthier, and not overly sweet.

Almond & Coconut Rice Pudding 2

Almond & Coconut Rice Pudding
Adapted from: Food & Wine (January 2013)

1 1/2 cups of sushi rice, rinsed
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 cups of almond milk
4 cups of coconut milk

In a large bowl, or pitcher, combine the almond and coconut milks together.

In a large saucepan, combine the sushi rice, sugar, salt and 1 cup of the milk mixture.  Cook the ingredients over low heat, stirring, until the milk is absorbed- about 5 minutes.  Then add in another cup of milk, stirring until the liquid is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes.  Gradually, every 5-10 minutes add another cup of milk and keep stirring, until you use all but 1 cup.  By then, the rice mixture should be thickened, and the rice will be cooked.  Lastly, turn off the heat, pour in the last cup of milk, stir, and allow it to cool.

Almond & Coconut Rice Pudding

Serve with preserves, defrosted fruit, or fresh fruit (berries would be best).

Almond & Coconut Rice Pudding 3

Food Matters Project #28: Lemon Cornmeal Cake

A little late here with my Food Matters Project post, but better than never, right?  And this is a good one to keep in your back pocket, a quick dessert- perfect to make before friends stop by for a mid-week dinner.

This weeks host is Jen, of Prairiesummers.  She chose Mark Bittman’s Apricot Polenta Cake.  Check out her version, and what everyone else made here.

I was very excited to make this since I’ve been saving a very similar recipe from A Meandering Mango.  When I was making this, I decided to take a little from both recipes and make my own version.  Mine tasted very similar to a lemon bar, refreshing and light.

This cake is a perfect way to celebrate a little milestone in our house!  This past weekend we visited Philadelphia, and ran the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon!  It was Sam’s first half, and he had fun doing it!  I’m very proud, and excited that there will be another race in the near future!

Lemon Cornmeal Cake
Adapted from: The Food Matters Cookbook (pg. 560) & A Meandering Mango

3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
juice & zest of 1 lemon
juice & zest of 1 lime
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white all-purpose flour
1/2 apple, slices*
2-3 fresh figs, finely chopped*

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Spray your baking dish with non-stick cooking spray (or use butter or olive oil).

In a stand mixer whisk together the eggs and sugar for about 5 minutes, until fluffy and creamy.  Slowly add in the olive oil, lemon and lime juices, lemon and lime zest, and vanilla extract.  Lightly whisk the ingredients together.

In a small pot, mix together the cornmeal and salt.  Then whisk in the water, until it is lump-free.  Set the pot over medium heat, whisk frequently and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, and cook until the water is absorbed.  Then set aside and allow to cool.

Stir in the flour and cornmeal mixture into the mixing bowl with eggs and sugar.  Stir well, then pour into the sprayed baking dish.

Arrange the apples and figs on top of the cake.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the cake.  Allow to cool about 15 minutes before cutting it.

*Other alternatives for toppings or frosting: fresh berries, fruit soaked in liquor or honey, ground nuts or coconut, powdered sugar or a honey drizzle!  Be creative, and let me know what worked!

Happy 4th of July!!!

I hope you all enjoyed the BBQ’s and fireworks today!

Thanks to our friends who had a great barbeque, we enjoyed the 4th!

Baltimore & a Cherry-Chocolate Birthday Cake

Two of my close friends from Iowa (go Hawks!) also live on the East Coast.  Beth lives in Baltimore, and Becky lives in Boston (lots of B’s).  When Sam and I went up to Boston in April we visited Becky and her husband Gary, thanks to them we stopped by the Sam Adams Brewery and checked out some great food in Boston!

This past weekend we had a little reunion in Baltimore to run the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K with Beth.  Coincidentally, last week Becky turned another year older, so I thought this would be a great excuse to make a birthday cake!  Of course, I had to find one that was easy to carry on public transportation (the bad part about not having a car!).

Before I get to the cake, which was delicious, I want to tell you about some of the places we checked out while in Baltimore:

Friday night dinner was at Mother’s Federal Hill Grille.  I’ve been here before, and always enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and great food.  Definitely a place to grab a quick burger or a couple of beers.  From my many visits to Baltimore I’ve noticed that there are always people there, but it’s never too crowded!

If you yelp “brunch” in Baltimore, the top restaurant will be Miss Shirley’s Cafe.  And it’s definitely a place everyone should check out just once.  The menu is very creative, as you will find out in just a second!

This was the Key Lime Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast.  Very decadent and can satisfy someone’s craving for key lime pie, although they are nowhere near Key West!

This was the Soft-Shell “BLT” Benedict: poached eggs, corn-meal encrusted soft shell crab, tomato, lettuce and bacon on sourdough rounds with Old Bay.  I did take a bite of this, and definitely enjoyed it!  The only complaint we had was that it was served on iceberg lettuce- it would be nice if there was something a bit more nutritional.

One of us also ordered Eggs, Bacon & an Onion-Potato Hash.  They have gluten-free bread here, so feel free to make the alteration if needed.

Lastly, I ordered a Lunch Combo (1/2 sandwich, 1/2 salad).  The sandwich (which I can’t wait to replicate) was a Summer Strawberry Grilled Cheese and it had: goat cheese, strawberries and spinach.  It was perfect with the salad- and a great way to enjoy a lovely Saturday with my friends!

Our last stop, which I really want to share, was at The Abbey Burger Bistro.  I wish I had taken pictures of our food- but that will have to be for another time (I definitely want to go back!).  They have a great selection of beers, and a very relaxed atmosphere.  But what makes this place great (in my opinion) is that you can make your own burger!  They have a great checklist, and you can “build it” any way you’d like.  For example, the meat choices are: bison, black angus, kobe beef, chicken, lamb (shenandoah valley), elk, kangaroo, turkey, wild boar and meat of the month!  Definitely not just your regular burger bar.

Alright, now it’s time for the cake.  I really enjoyed this dessert since it wasn’t overly sweet and the fruit I added to it can be anything you’d like.

Cherry-Chocolate Birthday Cake
Adapted from: Orangette

Cake:
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rose water
2 cups all-purpose white flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup 2% milk

Topping (this is optional):
8 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped
3 tbsp half ‘n half
fruit
powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.  Then add the eggs, vanilla extract and rose water; mix well before adding each new component.

Add in half the flour and mix well.  Then add the baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cocoa powder and milk.  Beat the batter well, then add it the rest of the flour and mix again.

Pour the batter into the springform.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted into the middle and it comes out clean.

Optional: Once the cake has cooled off, then prepare the chocolate topping.

Heat water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Once it is boiling, place a bowl on top (the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t be touching the water) to create a double-boiler.  Add in the chocolate and let it slowly melt.  Every couple of minutes add in a teaspoon of the half ‘n half.  As the chocolate melts, keep stirring and adding the half ‘n half.  You might not need as much liquid to get it to the consistency you’d like.  Once it’s ready, drizzle over the cake or spread it out (like I did).  Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Since my cake had a bit of a dent in the middle, I added some cherries- but any kind of fruit would be perfect.  Also, if you’d like, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.