Gin-Walnut Old Fashioned

We had our first pizza-cocktail Friday night in weeks last night–as I’ve mentioned before, I love this part of the week. Last week, we made pizza on Thursday because Friday night we’d be out celebrating my birthday (the big 4-1!); while still delicious, it wasn’t quite the same. The two Fridays before that, well, we were in Hawaii. Yeah, I know, poor me, right? But, it was still nice to have our ‘regular’ Friday night last night, and last night’s pizza was some of the best yet. It’s a wonderful end to the week–pjs, cocktails, pizza, wine, and a movie or tv series, with some pet snuggles thrown in. And, it’s fun to experiment with cocktails or sip on an old favorite. Continue reading

Mostly Rhubarb Crumble

Sigh…my birthday weekend has come to a close! But, it started with a wonderful evening with Skip and a couple of close friends and ended with a lot of unexpected sunshine, Mars, and rhubarb (mostly) crumble that was almost a cake. Hard to complain with such a lovely start to being 41.

This afternoon, after a delicious brunch with Skip, I popped over to a local Sunday farmer’s market and found some beautiful rhubarb, picked this morning, and some of the tastiest first strawberries of the season, along with a couple of adorable baby butter lettuce heads and carrots. I even saw cherries on one of the stands–it’s super early for those little gems! On the way to the grocery store to pick up the remainder of the groceries for the week, I decided to make a rhubarb cake with the lovely stalks I’d bought at the market. Then, somewhere between the store and home, though, I changed my mind and went the crumble route. I mean, really, who doesn’t like delicious, sweet and tangy fruit topped with a buttery streusel–anybody? Nobody I know…so, a crumble was the fate of the fresh cut rhubarb and early strawberries, along with some sweet blueberries and lemon zest. I’m pretty happy with my last minute change of plans. Since it’s mostly fruit and grain, I can have it for breakfast, right?

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Rhubarb+Berry Crumble
4 C (475 g) Chopped Rhubarb
1/3 C (87 g) Blueberries
2/3 C (100 g) Quartered strawberries
1 1/2 tsp (3 g) Lemon zest (about 1/2 of a large lemon)
1 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice
1/4 C + 1 Tbsp (71 g) Sugar
Pinch of salt

Crumble Topping
1/2 C (48 g) Steel cut oats
1/2 C (44 g) Rye flakes, or substitute more oats
1/2 C (57 g) Almond meal
1/4 C (44 g) Whole wheat flour
1/2 C (105 g) Packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp (4 g) Salt
Black pepper — I didn’t measure this, just a couple of turns of the grinder, optional
1/2 C (113 g) Unsalted butter, cold & cut into cubes

Ice cream or whipped cream–optional, but delicious

  • Preheat oven to 375 °F.
  • Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or 9-inch deep dish pie plate.
  • Toss the rhubarb, berries, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/4 C + 1 tablespoon sugar, and pinch of salt together. Pour into the buttered dish.
  • To make the topping, add all the ingredients for the crumble topping in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and begins to clump together.
  • Put the crumble topping on the top of the fruit. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
  • Serve warm; top with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.  image

Spicy Quinoa Soup

Back home from our Hawaiian vacation–back to gray Seattle skies and rain! The vacation was wonderful and much needed. Our vacation started with Skip and I spending a couple of days on our own in Honolulu;  we had some wonderful cocktails (with very cool people) at Pint + Jigger followed by a lovely meal at Town. I highly recommend both! My parents joined us the Sunday after we arrived and we headed to the little beach house we rented for a few days on the North Shore. It was a little piece of heaven…right on the edge of a pretty private beach and a perfect porch to sit, read, and have drink. Our time on Ohau was dotted with lazy moments on the porch, listening to the waves, and delicious meals at MW and the Koko Head Cafe along with daily doses of shave ice (Uncle Clay’s & Island Vintage Coffee Shave ice stand near Waikiki– fruit-based flavors, no crazy food coloring, and wonderfully fluffy ice). image

Then, mid-way through, we hopped over to Maui where we continued with our island fun: snorkeling at Molikini, shave ice at Ululani’s, dinner at Monkeypod Kitchen (so good!) and a luau at the Feast at Lele, and wrapped it all up with the drive to Hana (crazy curvy road but it lead to a stunning black sand beach). imageSpending time with my parents was something I haven’t had a chance to do in a very long time, at least not where it’s just us and no plans or obligations dictating what we do or where we need to be. Just me, mom, dad, and Skip and beach! Perfect! Now, I’m getting back in to the groove of real life, with it’s schedules, alarm clocks, and pants. Sigh.

We came home to cool weather with the typical Seattle rain and gray sky that is usually associated with spring in Seattle. I wanted something comforting and healthy for dinner, and that didn’t take too much time. While the laundry was going and Skip looked up some airfare details for our next trip–a little jaunt down to California for our niece’s high school graduation (!)–I made a spicy quinoa soup for dinner. It was just what I needed to ease back in to real life while dreaming about our next vacation.

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Spicy Quinoa Soup

3/4 C chopped yellow onion [70 g]
1/2 C chopped yellow bell pepper [80 g]
1 Tbsp thinly chopped garlic [10 g]
1/3 C chopped carrot [50 g]
2 1/2 C Water, vegetable broth, or combination
1 Tbsp Pilpelchum (pepper paste, recipe below)*
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 can diced, fire roasted tomatoes (14.5 oz)

1 C quinoa, rinsed
2 C water
1 large garlic clove, smashed

Salt & Pepper Yogurt (optional but highly recommended, recipe below)
Diced avocado (optional)

  • Add the olive oil to a stockpot on medium heat.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and salt. Cook for a few minutes, just till the onions are translucent and fragrant.
  • Add the diced carrots and cook another 5 minutes.
  • Add the bell pepper and pilpelchum. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the diced tomatoes and water (or broth). Cover and simmer for 15 minutes on medium heat.
  • While the soup simmers, combine the rinsed quinoa, water, and smashed garlic clove in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to medium low heat. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  • To serve, combine 1/3 cup of quinoa (really, add how much you like!) with 1 C of the tomato-pepper soup. Top with salt and pepper yogurt and avocado.

Pipelchum (aka spicy goodness!)
from I will not eat oysters

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
½ Tbsp hot paprika
½ tsp cayenne
pinch of cumin
pinch of salt

Mix all of the ingredients together to form a paste. This will keep in the fridge for 3 weeks or longer.

A little note on the pipelchuma—the spiciness can vary depending on the potency and age of your paprika and cayenne. If you’re not a big fan of spicy food, adjust the amount of pipelchuma to suit your taste.

Salt & Pepper Yogurt

1/3 C Greek Yogurt (I used Ellenos — big surprise!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all and enjoy.

A note on the soup:

You can combine the quinoa with the spicy tomato broth if you don’t want to cook it separately. If you do that, I’d recommend cutting the quinoa to 1/2 to 3/4 C, and you’ll need to add at least 1 1/2 C water or broth to the spicy tomato-pepper soup for the quinoa to absorb. You’ll end up with more of a thick stew but it’s still delicious.

Sunday morning & tropical plans

The quiet moments on a weekend morning are some of my favorites, especially on sunny mornings like today. There’s sun streaming through the windows. Skip is still sleeping, imageour dog, Roux, is snuggled up with him while Milo keeps me company (and watches the crows with unrealistic expectations). The only sounds are the crows chatting away outside and the dishwasher—and an occasional kitchen timer. I’ve gotten in to the habit of making bread for the week on weekend mornings while I plan the meals for the weeks, the grocery list, and the general map of the day. It makes me feel so very productive! And, I can take a moment to fully appreciate the day and week ahead. So, it’s a win all around.

Speaking of the week ahead, this time next week, we’ll be in Hawaii! We’re heading to Ohau first and my parents will join us there from Louisiana on Sunday afternoon. Then, we’ll be relaxing in a house right on the beach! We’re spending about four and half days there before heading to Maui for another four and a half days. The next week will be crazy; lots of work stuff that needs to get done and lots of home stuff, too. It’ll be a stressful, go-go-go week that ends on the beach! So, I think to start the crazy week, I’m making cake—pineapple upside-down cake, to be specific. And, not just any old pineapple upside-down cake, but one that starts with a rum and coconut caramel, home-brandied Bing cherries, and fresh pineapple, and ends with a fluffy delicious cake.

Pineapple and rum: I’ll start and end my week with those two things. This should be a pretty good week after all.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Caramel
1 1/4 C packed dark brown sugar
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/4 C dark rum*
2 Tblsp coconut milk

Cake
1 medium pineapple*
7-13 Maraschino or brandied cherries*
1 1/3 C cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1 C sugar
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature & cut into 1-inch pieces
1 vanilla bean pod*
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 C Greek yogurt, room temperature*

The details:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  • Measure out the Greek yogurt, leave at room temperature while you prepare everything else.
  • Grease an 9-inch cake pan with butter; set aside.
  • Peel and core the pineapple. Cut into ¼-inch rings or half-rings; set aside. If the pineapple is especially juicy, pat the rings dry before using.
  • Measure out all of the dry ingredients; set aside.

Caramel

  • Add the brown sugar and butter to a small, deep saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisking occasionally until the mixture is bubbling and the sugar is dissolved.
  • Cook the caramel, whisking occasionally, until it pulls away from the sides of the pan—about 3 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat; whisk in the rum. The mixture will bubble vigorously, just keep whisking for 1 minute. Return to the heat and whisk continuously for another minute.
  • Pour the caramel into the prepared cake pan, swirl to coat the pan evenly. Let cool completely before continuing.

Cake

  • Arrange the pineapple rings/slices on top of the caramel. Add the cherries to the center of the rings.
  • Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and add to the sugar. Using your fingers, rub the vanilla and sugar together. Oh, and don’t toss out the pod after you remove the seeds, put the scraped vanilla pod in a cup of sugar and store for future use; the sugar will smell wonderful in just a few days and is a nice addition to coffee or tea or use to make a vanilla simple syrup.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom in a medium bowl.
  • Beat the vanilla sugar with the butter using an electric mixer until light and fluffy—about 6 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl; then beat the butter-sugar-egg mixture until doubled in volume but light and fluffy—about 2 minutes.
  • Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl again, and beat for another minute.
  • Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the yogurt; begin and end with the dry ingredients.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top of the batter.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean—about 1 hour.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
  • Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake, invert the cake onto a large plate.

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*Notes:

  • The rum is optional but delicious; you can use an equal amount of coconut milk. The original recipe called for bourbon (and no coconut milk)–also optional but very delicious.
  • Pineapple canned in juice can be used instead—just dry off the rings before using.
  • The number of cherries depend on how you want the cake to look and how much you like cherries! I used some Bing cherries that we brandied and canned last year, but feel free to use any kind of cherries you have or leave them out.
  • Two teaspoons of vanilla extract can be used instead of the vanilla bean.
  • I used Ellenos Greek yogurt made here in Seattle—I’m a little addicted to the stuff!