Pickled Peaches, and The Next Course

This will be my last post here on Pas de Deux. For me, this past year was a bit of an experiment. It was a chance to solidify the creativity inherent in act of cooking, by photographing and writing about it. It was a chance to feel more “legitimate” when reading and commenting on blogs—I wanted to have at least a taste of the experience of blogging and to feel like a contributing member of the community of bloggers I was interacting with more and more frequently. It was a way for Casey and me to be in more frequent contact, and in some ways, to transform our broken relationship with food into a healthy and positive one. In the process, we re-awakened a family-wide recognition of our passion for cooking.

A pile of peaches

A pile of peaches

I will continue to blog, but with a slightly different focus. My new blog, The Next Course will take my exploration a step further. It will include some recipe sharing, interviews with bloggers and food writers, quotes about the “why” of food, and book/article reviews. It will be a blog that explores why we cook and why we blog. It will be a place to examine and reflect upon the role of cooking in our lives, but also a place to consider why we would want to write about food and share those thoughts with others.

Finished jars of pickled peaches

Finished jars of pickled peaches

I hope you will join me on this next step of my blogging adventure. Head on over to The Next Course to read more about my sticky, messy, amazing afternoon of pickling peaches.

-L

Brunch: Tiramisu Pancakes and Kale and Egg Scramble

Weeks ago, I got an email from VegNews containing a recipe for Vegan Tiramisu Pancakes.  I immediately forwarded the email to Lindsey and a few girlfriends, and started planning when I could justify making such a decadent breakfast.  I ended up scheduling two brunches, since, unsurprisingly, a lot of my friends were intrigued.  The first of the two was last weekend.  I can’t wait for round 2, scheduled for Cinco de Mayo!

Brunch.  My favorite meal!

Brunch. My favorite meal!

Obviously, I have a bit of a brunch obsession.  My friend and I went all out.  We poured some mimosas, mixed up a colorful fruit salad with pears, clementines, blueberries, and rasperries, and made eggs with some of the vegetables I had on hand.  The resulting kale, onion, thyme, and egg scramble was delicious!  It was a great, savory dish to balance out the sweet pancakes.

Fruit salad

Fruit salad

Now about those pancakes…

I didn’t read the instructions thoroughly, so I overlooked the chill time in the whipped cream instructions.  Our coconut cream ended up as more of a syrup replacement than whipped cream.  While I recommend following the original instructions, our resulting cream tasted awesome, and added a bit of extra moisture to the pancakes.  We made a few other modifications, just based on the ingredients we had.  Some of them I will be repeating!

Pancakes and Eggs

Pancakes and Eggs

Vegan Tiramisu Pancakes

Recipe by Chloe Coscarelli, slightly modified

For the Coconut Whipped Cream

  • 13.5 ounce can full-fat coconut milk, chilled
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting

For the Pancakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground hazelnut coffee*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Malibu coconut rum**
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free), plus more for garnish
  • Canola oil, for greasing

*Original recipe: instant espresso powder

**Original recipe: dark rum

For the whipped cream, chill the bowl and whisk of a hand mixer in freezer for 10 minutes.  Skim the solidified cream from the can of coconut milk, and transfer solids to the bowl.  Do not include the coconut water.  Add powdered sugar and whip until cream begins to stiffen.  Chill whipped cream in an airtight container for 3 hours to 1 day before serving.

For the pancakes, whisk flour, baking powder, coffee/espresso, and salt in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk water, maple syrup, and rum.  Add the wet mixture into the dry and mix until just combined.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Do not overmix.

Lightly oil a large, nonstick skillet, and heat over medium-high heat.  Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto skillet, and cook until bubbles appear in center.  Flip with a spatula, and cook other side for about 1 minute, until golden-brown.  Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil when needed.  If batter becomes too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water.

To serve, top pancakes with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar and chocolate chips.

So much to love

So much to love

We ended up with a lot of leftover coconut cream.  I threw some of it into the blender with fruit the next day for a tasty dessert smoothie.  Yum!

While I’m not a vegan, I enjoy vegan recipes.  I generally avoid dairy products, so vegan baking is usually safer for me.  After making (and devouring) these pancakes, I can’t wait to pick up a copy of Chloe’s book, Chloe’s Vegan Desserts!

What are your favorite brunch recipes?

New favorites

My new favorites

Happy eating!

-C

Oatmeal Wheatgerm Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes I think I am the human incarnation of the Cookie Monster. “Me want cookie” all the time.

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I don’t just like eating cookies, I like baking them. They don’t take much time, but keep me occupied for long enough to clear my head. My mind has been racing for the past few weeks as I completed another round of auditions, accepted a new job offer, and re-entered the dating scene. All of these experiences and changes have given me lots to think about… and stress about… so I needed to zone out for a bit!

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Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery has an incredible Oatmeal Wheatgerm Chocolate Chip cookie. I like to pretend it is healthy (duh… oats and wheatgerm are good for you!), even though it’s loaded with sugar and is about the size of my hand. For my cookie therapy Monday afternoon, I decided to re-create this tantalizing treat.

After a successful first experience baking with coconut oil a couple weeks ago, I decided to use coconut oil instead of butter. The combination of coconut oil and wheatgerm gave the cookies a delicious nutty taste. Whole wheat flour, a dash of cinnamon, and Madagascar vanilla extract added more complexity. This is possibly my new favorite cookie recipe!

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Oatmeal Wheatgerm Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields 5+ dozen cookies

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheatgerm
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease large baking sheets and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, wheatgerm, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and set aside. In another large bowl, beat coconut oil and sugars together with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla. On low speed, beat in the oat mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Shape dough into 1-inch rounds and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake on center rack for 12 minutes. Cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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Unless you have a lot of people to share these with, I recommend halving the recipe. Having 5 dozen delicious cookies on my hands is really challenging my self-control! I’ve split the remaining cookies into packs of 6 to give to friends/co-workers/random strangers tomorrow.

What are your favorite cookies?

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Since Easter is right around the corner, I busted out my bunny apron while I was baking and included it in my photos. As you may notice, this is the same apron Lindsey used in the Buckwheat Granola post. Shout out to Mama T, the giver of the bunny aprons!

Happy Eating!

-C

Buckwheat Granola and Other Musings

Spring is officially here!

Bust out the colorful bowls!

Bust out the colorful bowls!

Though winter is holding on tight (we have a chance of snow again this weekend…), there is a shift in the energy lately. The extra hour of daylight, the first purple buds popping up on the trees, and the daffodils offering a sunny “hello!” hint of the good things that are just around the corner. I for one am anxiously awaiting the opening of the City Market on April 6!

In the mean time, I’m making basics like granola, and busting out my bunny apron to use as a photography backdrop.

Buckwheat granola

Buckwheat granola

This week has been busy, but in the best way possible. Early in the mornings, my yoga practice has taken a step forward as I started learning the Advanced A series (just the first two poses), and returned to practicing tic-tocs after a few weeks of taking it easy. In the day time, work is going well, and I have been enjoying many new opportunities to expand my leadership in the past few weeks. On weekends, we have been seeing a lot of our family, with more to come next weekend for Easter.

Life is good.

So is this granola.

Simple and Delicious

Simple and Delicious

Inspired by many other bloggers, I have been exploring buckwheat in many forms lately. I bought a big bag of raw buckwheat groats in bulk, and have been using them as a crunchy topping for salads and smoothies, blended as breakfast porridge, cooked into oats, ground into flour for muffins, and tossed with oats, pecans, and sunflower seeds in this simple granola.

You could add coconut flakes or dried fruit, but I decided to keep things simple. Pecans are by far my favorite breakfast nut (yes, that is a thing), especially when they are toasted. I used the overnight method, and was once again pleased with the crunchy result (not to mention the delicious aroma in my kitchen).

Granola

Granola pile

Buckwheat Granola

Inspired by Kath Eats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 3/4 cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
  • scant 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Method

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and spread onto a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring at 15 minutes intervals. Turn the oven off and leave granola in the oven overnight. In the morning, it will be perfectly crunchy!

This week's breakfast, on repeat.

This week’s breakfast, on repeat.

Simple, no fuss, perfectly delicious, homemade granola–what more could you ask for?!

I have been enjoying the same breakfast all week– Greek yogurt, sliced banana, a drizzle of coconut milk, a drizzle of Blackstrap molasses, and granola on top! I’m not usually a “repeat” kind of girl when it comes to breakfast, but this combo is so good, I’ve just wanted more and more of it.

Hope your Spring is off to a wonderful start!

-L

Spinach, Pesto and Sausage Pizza

Pizza is often used to teach math, especially fractions and percentages.

I recently finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, in which, for one year, Kingsolver and her family ate almost entirely locally. They live on a farm which enables them to raise poultry and tend an incredible garden. At the end of each chapter, Kingsolver’s daughter Camille shared her thoughts, recipes, and seasonal weekly meal plans. I was inspired by the Kingsolver’s weekly pizza night to make my own pizza as close to 100% from scratch as possible.

Let’s see how I did with my “pizza math”.

The Elements

  • Crust
  • Sauce
  • Pesto
  • Cheese
  • Sausage
  • Spinach

Crust: 100% made from scratch

Pizza Dough, pre-rise

Pizza Dough, pre-rise

I often purchase pre-made pizza dough from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s to have on hand to make pizza at home. But this time, I overcame my “fear” of yeast, and whipped up Camille’s recipe for pizza dough.

It was so easy, and delicious!

Note to self: make your own dough more often…

Sauce: 50% made from scratch

Pizza sauce ingredients

Pizza sauce ingredients

For the sauce, I followed my typical “recipe,” which involves throwing canned tomatoes and some seasoning into a pan. I used 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 can of diced tomatoes (I like my sauce chunky!) 1/2 cup red wine, a generous sprinkling of dried basil, a dash of red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine all ingredients and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.

Combined sauce, simmering

Combined sauce, simmering

While I have taken the step away from pre-made tomato sauces, opting instead to make my own from canned (no salt added) tomatoes, I give myself 50% on this one because I have yet to take the step towards canning my own tomato sauce. This is a definite goal for me this summer! I plan to grow tomatoes again this year (and maybe one or two other vegetables, but that is a story for another day), and I will definitely be canning my own 100% from scratch tomato sauce.

Pesto: 100% made from scratch

Pesto ingredients

Pesto ingredients

Our favorite pizza from Mellow Mushroom (our go-to take out pizza place) is Kosmic Karma, tomato sauce base topped with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella and feta cheese, fresh tomatoes, and a pesto swirl.

When I asked my husband what he wanted on our pizza, he asked me to recreate the Kosmic Karma. I was pleasantly surprised to find nice, local basil at the store, and jumped on the opportunity to make my own pesto, using walnuts instead of pine nuts (since that is what I had on hand).

Raw Basil Pesto

Raw Basil Pesto

Raw Basil Pesto

Inspired by Edible Perspective

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and puree until smooth. Add water as needed to reach desired consistency (I used 3 Tablespoons).

Pre-baked pizza

Pre-baked pizza

The Toppings: 0% made from scratch

I decided to add a bit of sausage to our Kosmic Karma imitation. I used a Tuscan sausage made in-house at my local Whole Foods using local pork. While I am happy with this choice of meat, no from-scratch points for me here… though I’m not sure I will ever reach the point of making my own sausage…

As for cheese, I chose mozzarella and goats milk feta. Kingsolver has a chapter on cheese making, which peaked my interest in this unexplored area of kitchen science. Kath makes it look easy… I might be ordering rennet and experimenting with cheesemongering in the near future…

His and Hers pizza slices

His and Hers pizza slices

The spinach also gets 0% made from scratch since it was neither local nor home grown…

So, let’s add things up:

“Made From Scratch” Pizza Math

  • Crust – 100%
  • Sauce – 50%
  • Pesto – 100%
  • Cheese – 0%
  • Sausage – 0%
  • Spinach – 0%

Total: 41.67% made from scratch

Delicious!

Delicious!

Had I made this without the sausage, my percentage would have been much higher… Not bad for my first foray into homemade crust.

This pizza was delicious, and it gave me great joy to know that I had made so many of the elements from scratch. The added time spent making crust, sauce, and pesto was time well spent in the kitchen.

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

-L