Granola Breakfast Bars

Granola Breakfast Bar // The World In A Paper Cup

After Finn was born my pregnancy appetite disappeared immediately – it actually took me a few days to regain much of an appetite at all. As I adjusted to breastfeeding my appetite settled into a happy place slightly above my pre preggo hunger norm and way below the non-stop snacking of my insatiable full-term cravings. Now that Finn is weaning off of breast milk though I find myself facing another shift in my appetite. I still find myself dreaming of cookies and chocolate,  both things that are fairly new loves, but in my desire to be eating healthy foods more often is returning.

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A Family Tradition: Rum Cake

In our family, every year on your birthday you got to pick the meal you wanted made for the family birthday celebration. While I don’t think this is a terribly unique tradition I do think the menus that have graced our family table over the years on the occasion of my or my sister’s birthday are. One year my little sister asked for baby carrots stuck into giant black olives, canned mandarine oranges served in ramekins and eaten with shrimp forks; and her drink served out of a liquid medicine measurement spoon - she is a real unique soul, that one. I often requested supper nachos or egg kaka and my older sister’s menus usually rotated around cheesy mashed potatoes.

As for desserts we’ve each explored different sweets – french silk pie, birthday cake cones, angel food cake, brownies. There is one phase we have all gone through though, the rum cake phase. For as long as I can remember my mother’s rum cake, with it’s dense cake soaked in a sweet boozy sauce, has appeared on the table at least once a year for someone’s birthday. It’s a recipe she learned from her mother that relies on boxed cake mix and when she makes it it’s perfection.

In culinary school I made it one of my projects to recreate the cake from scratch and after a few tries – mostly figuring out the egg factor – I nailed it. It’s the recipe I now use when I’m tasked with making rum cake, as I was a few weeks ago when I made my little sister’s birthday dinner (she’s matured into a rather sophisticated menu of pot roast and salad), which also served as the impetus for this post. If you’re looking to start a new addiction tradition give this a try immediately.

Rum Cake:
3 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Rum Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbs – 1/4 cup rum

Preheat the oven to 350˚

  1. Spray one angel food pan with a removable bottom*. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Cut up the butter into 1-inch pieces and place them in the large bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment or beaters. Beat for 3 minutes on medium-high speed until the butter is light and creamy in color. Stop and scrape the bowl.
  4. Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Add the eggs & yolks one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each egg. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed. Stir vanilla into the buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape the side of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a knife. Lift up the pan with the batter, and let it drop onto the counter top to burst and air bubbles, allowing the batter to settle.
  7. Center the pan onto the lower third of the oven and let bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake is lightly brown on top and comes away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. While the cake is baking combine the sugar, water and butter for the rum sauce in a pan on the stove. Bring to a boil then add the rum.
  9. Using a skewer poke holes in the fresh out of the oven cake then pour the rum sauce over the warm cake.
  10. Let the cake cool then remove from pan.

*I used a spring form for the cake pictured and it works just fine but if you have the angel food pan I highly recommend using it.

Delicious Simplicity: Bacon, Brussels Sprouts and Dates

Bacon Brussels Sprouts and Dates

My affection for brussels sprouts is rich and deep. While simple roasted sprouts are probably my preferred preparation I’m always game to try a new take on the wee little cabbages. This recipe is inspired by a dish served at my company’s holiday dinner. After helping myself casually to two (and by that I mean more than one, definitely two and possibly three  four – but who was counting) I was taken by the way the flavors melt into each other but not before each ingredient’s signature flavor – bacon:umami, sprouts:bitter and dates:sweet – all make themselves known.  It was satiating in every sense of the word.  Continue Reading →

An Introduction

It has been a long while since I last visited this space and while I have missed it I’m not going to use this post to apologize for my absence. Instead I’m going to introduce you to the reason I’ve been otherwise occupied.

Meet Finnick.

He arrived in July and has been pretty much the best baby a pair of new parents could have hoped for. He was a big guy from the start – we joked he would come out a toddler – which I think helped with all the big hurdles like eating, sleeping and, well, growing making it an easier transition for us form a family of two to a family of three. He is also the sweetest, giggliest and freakishly strong babies I’ve known so he is a lot of fun to hang out and be silly with, by far my current most favorite activity. Continue Reading →

The Comfort of Swedish Egg Kaka

Well, here we are, 2013. Our holidays were pretty low key- a trip back to the Twin Cities for some family time and rang in the new year with an epic brunch with friends. Now we’re easing our way into a new year, our only resolution being to start traditions for our new family. Why? Well, because our family of two will be a family of three in July. Which kinda explains the lack of posting for the last three months – lets just say the first three months were spent sleeping and existing largely on a diet of carbs and orange juice. Now that my body has adjusted I’ve found myself back in the kitchen and once again experimenting with new recipes. Continue Reading →

Adventures With Sourdough: Crumpets

Now that the wedding is over I have a bit more time on my hands so I’ve been setting up a few new culinary challenges for myself. First up is sourdough, specifically sourdough starters. When I was in culinary school I spent a lot of time caring for my little family of starters, there was a sturdy biga, a rye with a heavy flavor and a sourdough with a good bit of zip to it. When I left school I also left behind my starters, I was a pastry chef so  there was no need for me to maintain my starters if I wasn’t going to make breads regularly. I never really looked back, that is until lately when I’ve found myself wanting to tackle some heritage bread recipes that call for a stable sourdough starter. So a few weeks ago I began my starter using the method from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bread Bible. After three weeks of feeding Chuck ~ yes I do believe you should name your starters, they develop their own character so they might as well get their own name ~he was finally healthy enough to start testing out his flavor and I remembered that making crumpets is a really good way to get a taste of a new starter and figure out what tweeks need to be made. Continue Reading →

Italian Plum Torte

This one is going to be a quicky, mostly because I’ve been cooking like a crazy person over the last few weeks and the recipes are starting to pile up which is only contributing to the crazy person status. So I figured I’d get this recipe out there since a friend of mine, who is lucky enough to have a plum tree in her backyard, was looking for the recipe. This one is I’ve thrown together whenever I have stone fruit that needs to be used up (it works beautifully with apricots and peaches) so if you ever find yourself in the same spot then give it a go.

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Kale Saute With Runny Yolks

One of the best wedding gifts we received was a four week membership to a local CSA. I really love the idea of a CSA not only because it is a fantastic way to eat local and support the local community but because the randomness of what you get is a great excuse to get creative in the kitchen. Last weekend’s CSA bag included sweet potatoes, onions, some beautiful garlic, mustard greens, apples, kale and a whole lotta jalapeños. A strange collection of foods to be sure but when combined with my desire not to go to the grocery store on Tuesday after work there was enough inspiration to pull together a pretty damn good dinner.

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Non-traditional Szechuan Chicken

This is a recipe that has been sitting in my drafts for a while now. I just needed to get the right picture of the dish before I could post it – which requires time and that is something I find myself in scarce supply of lately. There are only two weeks left until Ry and I head back to the midwest for our wedding and there are lots of things that need to be done in that time. Ah, the glories of a DIY wedding. I really can’t complain though because we have the most incredible family and friends who are all contributing to make the three days of wedding celebration come together.

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Egg-Centric Carbonara

Eggs are one of those ingredients I find myself falling more and more in love with every time I crack one open – and that is saying a lot considering I have spent hours cracking eggs for various pastry items. Recently I’ve been trying to improve my egg preparation skills by tackling some egg-centric classics. While I’m still trying to get restaurant quality poachers just right I have managed to create a carbonara recipe that I will someday put on a restaurant menu.

Now, the concept behind carbonara is one that I discovered by almost backing my way into it. When I was honing my soft boil technique and got tired of simply eating the delicious yolky on toast I began tossing a few with udon noodles and some salt. THis has now become a quick -and oft prepared- meal in our house. So, when I discovered that yolks were a central part of classic carbonara the experimenting began.

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