Monday, September 23, 2013

found it: olive oil cake v 3

Eureka!  Version 3 of olive oil cake is a winner.  Crowd pleaser.  Easy.  And most like the one Kelly sent me from Zingerman's.  The only caveat, good fruity olive oil is rather expensive and pouring out an entire cup from your precious bottle might freak you out.  It's worth it.  I found a great fruity olive oil from California Olive Ranch which coincidentally is a brand that uses Kelly's office for some of it's marketing.  The full circle.

I made this cake for our annual Michigan weekend with our dear dinner club friends.  It's easy to cut a little slice and watch the cake disappear little slice by just one more little slice.  You can serve this cake with a nice warm fruit compote (or just warm up some favorite fruit preserves), macerated berries (toss fresh berries with a tablespoon or two of sugar, stir and let sit 15-30 minutes until berries release some juices) or a little lightly whipped cream, but it's pretty perfect at room temp unadorned.

I used honey roasted sliced almonds from Trader Joe's, but if you can't find those toast some sliced almonds lightly on the stove in a dry pan or in a 350 degree oven on a baking sheet and then when they are cool toss them with beaten egg white and sugar and spread on parchment paper to bake again at 350 until just a little golden.  Or just leave the almonds off or just use lightly toasted sliced almonds.  What I'm trying to say is, the almonds are good but don't let them keep you from making this cake.

Olive Oil Cake V3

3 cups flour (truth:  I only had 2 C all-purpose flour, so I also used 1 C white whole wheat flour)
1 3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 C fruity extra-virgin olive oil
1 C milk (any fat content works, I used skim because that is what I have on hand always)
3 eggs
2 T grated lemon or orange zest (no white pith)
1/4 C Grand Marnier
3/4 C honey roasted sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 or 10-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.
In large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, kosher salt, baking soda and baking powder.  In a medium bowl whisk together the olive oil, milk, eggs, zest and Grand Marnier.  Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk or stir just until combined.   Pour batter into prepared pan and  sprinkle evenly with sliced almonds.  Bake for one hour, until top is golden and cake tester comes out clean (I had to tent mine with foil about 35 minutes into baking so my almonds didn't get too brown).  Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and cool for 30 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the pan, invert cake onto the rack and cool completely.

all the ingredients except the olive oil, duh

blurry olive oil photo with milk, olive oil, zest and Grand Marnier mixture


topped with almonds

out of oven, it did settle a little on cooling (note this is a 9-inch round pan)

another blurry picture (I need a viewfinder) of a little slice of cake
one of the two or three little slices left after a day in Michigan

Thursday, September 19, 2013

treat someone: nanaimo bars from our friends up north

Oh my goodness.  Bake these bars and share them for lots of love.  The first time I tried a nanaimo bar was in the cute little town of Jasper in Alberta, Canada on our 25th anniversary family trip to the Canadian Rockies.  When you are hiking or biking at altitude 4-6 hours a day, you can eat whatever you want. So when we went into town to the very delicious Bears Paw Bakery and the Other Paw Bakery to get sandwiches and treats to pack for the day we grabbed some of these crazy good bars.  Yum.  Do just that too, don't just go to Banff (pretty up on the trails, but crowded), be sure to stay in Jasper too (more breathing room).  Hike Mt Edith Clavell for the most amazing views as you pass hanging glaciers, through the alpine and up above the tree line.  One of my favorite days ever.

These are classic Canadian and Pacific Northwest no-bake, triple-layered confections from Nanaimo (pronounced Na Ny Mo), a city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  I really need to make the trip to Van City, birthplace of lululemon and home to the lululemon lab.  We've ventured just briefly to BC to whitewater raft in glacial waters (as cold as it sounds even on a 90 plus degree day in August), but never made it to Vancouver and Whistler.  It will happen.

I made a double batch for the Purdue v Notre Dame night game tailgate.  The leftovers had to go to lulu.  I can not spin, walk, yoga, tennis or etc. enough to eat half a pan by myself and I was quickly headed in that direction.  So good.  Everyone at work wanted to know what was in them and the quick answer is butter, lots of butter.

nanaimo bars day 2

Nanaimo Bars

bottom layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/3 C unsweetened cocoa (Dutch-process is good)
1/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 C finely crushed graham crackers (one sleeve or 9 whole crackers)
1/2 C almond meal or almond flour (or finely chopped almonds)
1 C shredded coconut (I use organic unsweetened)

creamy middle layer
1/2 C butter, very soft
3 T vanilla flavor pudding mix (I had sugar free)
2 C powdered sugar
1 T milk or cream
1/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

top ganache layer
1 C semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
1 T vegetable shortening (Spectrum organic is good), optional

Butter an 8x8 pan and line with foil.  Set aside.  Melt the butter in a medium bowl (glass measuring bowl in microwave works for me) and whisk in cocoa, sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth.  Add crushed graham crackers, almond meal/flour and coconut and stir to combine.  (You can do what I do and process the graham crackers in your food processor and then add the other base layer ingredients and pulse until combined).  Firmly press crumbs into prepared pan.

For the filling, either clean out your food processor or use a mixer to blend the butter, pudding powder and powdered sugar together until fluffy.  Add vanilla, salt and 1 tablespoon of milk until smooth and spreadable.  Add more milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time to get desired thickness.  (I barely need 1 tsp of milk total).  Drop by big spoonfuls across base layer.  Spread evenly with and offset spatula.

double batch with cream filling before spreading (camera battery was dying)
In a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate (and vegetable shortening if using) and stir until smooth.  Pour chocolate over top of the filling and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly across the bars.

Refrigerate or freeze for several hours until firm.  Slice into squares.  You might score them about 10 min after chocolate sets to help get clean lines of chocolate.  Store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

YOLO FOMO Summer of Fun: summer corn salad with avocado

Hey there.  Still here.  Still cooking and baking, but seriously busy with other life things the last two weeks.  Labor Day was one of the best yoga days ever with Michael Franti and his guitarist joining me and over 200 Indy yogis for an outdoor class at WARMfest a newish music festival in Broad Ripple.  A whole lot of social media worked it's magic with nice big attendance numbers and our special guests.  Lots of love to all involved!  So that was one week.

Sara leaves for her semester abroad in London tomorrow after the longest college summer ever for her.  I loved having her home so long.  We totally maximized the summer doing all kinds of YOLO and FOMO things.  All I know is that when I look to my left in spinning next week and she's not on that next bike I'm going to get all teary, good thing I sweat so much that no one will ever guess.  Siam Square, Napolese and Petit Chou will surely miss the two of us and our seemingly endless love of amazing Thai  food, salads, pizza, omelets and crepes.  And who else would go with their mom to all kinds of concerts and never once look at me like I'm ridiculous down in front of the band singing and dancing along.  We may both end up Mowgli's (right, we would like them not to use the possessive if we're coming along) because those people have just too much fun on stage.  Have a great big beautiful adventure, Sara!

So that's my story.  Banking all the good stuff.  I wouldn't do it any other way.

Here's your recipe for this week because an hour after Sara boards her flight, Kelly lands in Indy for a quick weekend home to go to the Purdue v. Notre Dame game Saturday night so there's more good stuff ahead (absolutely positive the actual football game will not be on the good stuff list, but the tailgate will be at the top of the list).  Just keeps coming!  Here's one very awesome summer salad:  basically my grilled corn salad with avocado and chimichurri vinaigrette.  You can serve it with greens mixed in or on top.  You can add grilled chicken or shrimp.  You can just really love it, tote it to a picnic or tailgate and enjoy it as leftovers.  All good.

Summer Corn Salad with Avocado

4-6 ears grilled corn, kernels cut off cobs
medium red onion, thinly sliced
pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
one or two avocados, pitted and diced
salad greens, optional

chimichurri vinaigrette
1/2 C packed chopped flat-leaf/Italian parsley
1/2 C packed chopped cilantro
1 T chopped garlic
juice of one lime (or two if you like)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
2 T-1/4 C olive oil (you decide how thin you'd like your dressing)

If you missed it, rub the shucked corn with olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Grill about 10 minutes.  Cool a bit and cut kernels from the cobs into your salad bowl.  Add in the other salad ingredients.  

In a blender or food processor, combine parsley, cilantro and garlic and pulse to mince.  Add in lime juice, kosher salt and red pepper flakes and pulse to combine.  Drizzle in olive oil and blend until desired consistency.  Toss with salad and serve.  

Serves 8-10 salad pictures so here's one from our YOLO FOMO Summer of Fun:
Sara, sweaty me and the awesome Michael Franti at WARMfest Yoga Moves in the Park