Category Archives: Entertaining

Great Crumb – Celebration Cake!

I was looking for a simple yet festive cake to bake for my mom’s 70th birthday. I stumbled upon this recipe from Nigel Slater’s cookbook, Appetite, and I knew this was what I wanted to make. The author adapted this recipe from Tamasin Day-Lewis’s wholewheat chocolate cake, which apparently she adopted from her cousin. This cake gets around. Her recipe called for muscovado sugar, which Nigel didn’t have on hand so he used Demerara. I was headed to Minnesota from San Francisco to celebrate my mom’s birthday, so I figured I’d better bring my fancy sugar with me. I could’ve bought either type sugar at Canyon Market, my local Glen Park neighborhood store- they had quite an amazing array of sugars given the small size of their “corner market”- but I went with demerara out of an allegiance to Nigel. I thought I was going to be arrested going through airport security with this sugar. They were very, very suspicious of this sugar. Why was I traveling with sugar for chrissakes! the security’s face read. I was equally upset. Why wouldn’t I be traveling with ingredients for my mother’s cake. Please. Luckily I made it through security (they allowed my wrapped present to pass through too- whew!!), and it was all worth it because the cake was delicious. So good that I’m looking forward to making it for Christmas day. I think it’d be best if served warm with a little homemade whipped cream or ice cream.

PS. I’ve really bonded with the digital scale my boyfriend bought for ~$25. Baking via weight is highly satisfying and- as far as I know in my limited baking experience- it is recommended by the experts out there as more accurate (aka. will give you superior results).  Given my penchant for eyeballing ingredients in savory dishes (aka. I’m not a known baker despite my surname), I may not be the best one to advise on this front. Still- I’m just saying- you might want to investigate… I didn’t have a scale at my mom’s place, so I had to convert Nigel’s measurements. My conversions are included below. Happy Baking!

Serves 12 or a generous 8.

Ingredients:
butter – 250g (a generous cup // ~ 17.6 Tablespoons // ~ 2 1/4 sticks)
demerara sugar – 250g (~one heaping cup)
eggs – 4 large free range
espresso coffee a small one, or about 3 tablespoons
unbleached flour – 250g (~one heaping cup)
baking powder – 2 gently heaping teaspoons
skinned hazelnuts (filberts)- 200g, coarsely ground (~ generous 3/4 cup) ***
fine, dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli ~65%+) = 250g, coarsely chopped (like gravel)

Directions:
1) Line a 23 cm (9-10 inch spring form pan) with greaseproof paper or parchment paper regardless if you have a nonstick pan.

2) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (~355 degrees). Beat the butter and sugar until they are fluffy and pale. (Electric beater is best if you have one.) Add the eggs one at a time, beating lightly between each addition. You may find the mixture curdles a little but don’t worry, it will come good in the end. Stir in the coffee.

3) Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold them in, then fold in most of the hazelnuts and the chopped chocolate, keeping a little back for the top of the cake. The mixture should be quite firm; you may have to slide it off the spoon with your finger. Put it into the lined cake tin and gently smooth the top, scattering over the last of the chocolate and nuts.

4) Bake for an hour and twenty minutes or until the cake is springy (I think I only cooked an hour or so), testing for doneness by spearing the center with a toothpick. It should come out clean without any raw cake mixture on it. Leave the cake for half an hour or so before cutting.

***The most time-consuming part of this recipe is de-skinning the hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are a pain to skin. Don’t get caught up in perfection. I recommend toasting the nuts for 10-15 minutes in a toaster oven and then wrapping in a kitchen towel to let steam for ~1 minute. Rub nuts in the towel to remove loose skins and cool completely. Another site recommended shaking the nuts in a sieve after toasting at 350 degrees for the same effect. [Or substitute for almonds of walnuts (lightly toasted).]

A Shakshuka Brunch – North African Fried Eggs

Ever since I received Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook for my birthday, Plenty, I’ve been obsessing. I think I could happily make a recipe from it each day until I’d made it through cover to cover. While I am not a vegetarian, I love cooking vegetarian fare and heartily believe it’s possible to develop deeply satisfying flavors without meat. It makes sense then that Ottolenghi’s book resonates for me as it is a “vegetables-only” cookbook (from a chef who is not a vegetarian) with recipes that combine unique flavors and techniques from around the world.

This recipe he calls Shakshuka, named for the man who served it in a tiny restaurant Ottolenghi found in Jaffa. This North African dish is fantastic and the author’s version shows once again his mastery of melding a multitude of flavors and spices such that no one flavor overpowers. That said, I think it’s the saffron that ultimately lends this fried egg dish a bit of an exotic aura.

I halved the recipe, and it serves a 4 or a generous 2. I don’t have more than one large cast iron dish, so was unable to fry up the portions individually as described in the recipe, but it was no problem to do all the eggs in one pan. I also didn’t have fresh tomatoes since they’re no longer in season, so I used a jar of my own canned tomatoes, plus I threw in a handful of cherry tomatoes I’d recently frozen (slightly defrosted in the microwave first). I didn’t have muscovado sugar on hand, so threw in a couple pinches of demerara sugar. Don’t let the list of ingredients deter you. Most don’t take long to prepare and you can start cooking down the onions while you prep the herbs. Serve with fresh hunks of toasted, crusty bread. Combined prepping and cooking time is about 40-45 minutes.

Recipe Ingredients:
Serves a generous 2.
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
Generous 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch strips
2 tsps muscovado sugar (or 2 pinches of demerara)
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and chopped
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
3 ripe tomatoes roughly chopped (or 1 jar canned organic tomatoes chopped)
1/4 tsp saffron threads
pinch of cayenne peppers
salt and black pepper
up to 1/2 cup water
4 eggs

Directions:
1. In a large cast iron pan, dry roast the cumin seeds on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, sugar, and herbs and continue cooking on high heat for 5 to 10 minutes to get a nice color.

2. Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. During the cooking keep adding water so that the mix has a pasta sauce consistency. (I didn’t add much water here, but the canned tomatoes were already quite watery.) Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavorful. (You can prepare this mix well in advance.)

3. Remove the bay leaf, then divide the pepper mix among four deep frying pans, each large enough to take a generous individual portion. Place them on medium heat to warm up, then make two gaps in the peppers mix in each pan and carefully break an egg into each gap. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pans with lids. Cook on a very (!) gentle heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Yum! Below a photo from the cookbook showing the individually cooked portions.

A New-Found Love of Brussels Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts

I have a new fondness for brussels sprouts. For a long time, I swore I didn’t like brussels sprouts and refused to eat or cook them. That all changed when I finally agreed to try them in a dish at Beretta in San Francisco. Their recipe is absolutely delicious, and so I realized that it is indeed possible to create tasty brussels sprouts. It’s all in how they’re prepared. It seems the trick is to make sure they’re cooked through, but not overdone (like many vegetables), and they’re best when accompanied by other flavors, such as garlic, shallots, breadcrumbs, or Parmesan.

The first time I made them, I soaked them in cold water for about 10 minutes to ensure that they were clean. This may be overkill. It’s probably fine to simply wash them carefully, peeling off any leaves as necessary if they look dirty. However, I have learned that this step also helps them keep their vivid green color.

Next, I cut a small “X” in the bottom of each, to help them cook through. I steamed them for about 5 minutes, then removed them from the heat, let them cool slightly and cut them in halves. Next, I melted a pat of butter in a saucepan, sauteed minced garlic (1-2 cloves) and added the brussels sprouts, continuing to saute another few minutes. I tossed them with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a bit of freshly grated Parmesan before serving. That was all it took- tasty brussels sprouts!

Since then, I’ve been paring down the number of steps, and have been opting to simply saute the halved brussels sprouts for 7-10 minutes, skipping the steaming step. I may saute some minced shallots first or add in some minced garlic near the end, when they’re almost ready.

I recently discovered a few other recipes on Food52 that sound fabulous, although I have yet to try them. This recipe, Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Lemon, calls for roasting and looks amazing. This Parmesan-Crusted Brussels Sprouts recipe is also a version that looks worth trying out.

I normally make green beans as a side dish for Thanksgiving, but this year it’s looking more and more like brussels sprouts might make it on the menu!

Michigan Cherry Cheesecake – A Totally Tasty Delight

Cheesecake

Hello out there, my name is Lauren, and I started blogging about food and such a few months ago; Ms. Heather kindly asked me if I would be interested in participating in the great things she has going on here at ‘gottaeatsf’ and I, of course, jumped at the chance. I would like to share the recipe for my sinfully delicious Michigan Cherry Cheesecake; it’s a great option for a holiday get together, dessert party or any event you want something rich and sweet. You can replace the cherries with any sort of fruit (candied or otherwise) you desire and there are endless options for adding different types of chocolate, nuts or whatever else may strike your fancy. That said, I really felt the dark chocolate and dried cherries paired very well together in this recipe as the high cocoa percentage in the chocolate did a nice job of balancing out the sweet cake filling and candy like cherries. I also liked the way the texture turned out as the fruit was void of any additional liquids that can at times, leave you with an otherwise soggy cake and/or crust.

If you’re interesting in reading more about the story behind the cake, please stop by sometime and check it out (www.knochknoch.blogspot.com). Thanks so much for your time and attention; I hope to be back again soon!

Michigan Cherry Cheesecake recipe (modified from Joy of Baking’s New York Cheesecake recipe)

Crust:

1 cup (100 grams) of graham wafer crumbs (process whole cookies in a food processor until they are crumbs)

1 cup (100 grams) of almond flour ( alternatively, toast almonds until they are fragrant then process in a food processor until they are crumbs)

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 cup (114 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

32 ounces (1 kg) (4 – 8 ounces packages) cream cheese, room temperature (use full fat, not reduced or fat free cream cheese)

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

3 tablespoons (35 grams) all purpose flour

5 large eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (200 grams) diced cherries (or other dried and/or candied fruits)

1 cup (200 grams) dark chocolate chunks (more to taste)

Grease a 10 inch (23 cm) springform pan with cooking spray or butter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) with rack in center of oven.

For Crust: In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, almond flour, sugar, and melted butter. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 5 minutes at 250 degrees then cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.

For Filling: In bowl of your electric mixer place the cream cheese, sugar, and flour. Beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes), scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the whipping cream, lemon zest, vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. Finely dice cherries and stir into batter; once incorporated fold in the dark chocolate chunks. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour in the filling. Place the cheesecake pan on a larger baking pan and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) and continue to bake for about another 1 1/2 hours or until firm and only the center of the cheesecake looks a little wet and wobbly. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack, carefully run a knife or spatula around the inside edge of pan to loosen the cheesecake (helps prevent the surface from cracking as it cools).

Let cool before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating. This cheesecake tastes best after being refrigerated for at least a day (strongly recommend a full day as the flavors develop as it cools).

Makes one – 10 inch cheesecake.

Cheesecake with dried cherries

Enjoy- Lauren

Remnants and Other Countertop Explorations

Food remnants destined for the compost

Even remnants destined for the compost can be beautiful.

zucchette pasta and pine cone structures

Cool structures. Zucchette pasta and pine cone.

Fruit composition

Countertop composition.

Keep the Summer BBQ Stoked with 2 Smokin’ Steak Marinades and a Rub

Summertime isn’t over yet. We need to keep our barbecues rolling while we still can! There really is nothing quite like a grilled steak on a hot summer night. (Not that I’d know about hot summer nights given the present state of summer in San Francisco. But I can’t act surprised.)

Most of the time, I try not to eat meat. Blame it on Michael Pollan. Blame it on Food Inc.. Blame it on Harris Ranch, aka. “Cowschwitz,” the freaky smelling cattle processing plant near Coalinga, California. Then again, if I know that it comes from Marin Sun Farms, hey, I’ll eat that flank steak!

So, while I’m not one to promote eating meat, I do think it’s perfectly reasonable to enjoy an occasional steak, as long as you know it’s from a quality, sustainable source. If you’re not sure what meat to buy in your region, check out Eat Well, a directory for locally grown and sustainably produced food, or Eat Wild to find a pasture-based farm near you. Here in San Francisco, I tend to hit Drewes Bros. Meats on Church Street in Noe Valley. A friend of mine swears by Prather Ranch Meat Co. located in the Ferry Building.

And now, onto the marinade magic! I prescribe to the “simple is best” philosophy. Here are three easy options that can’t fail you.

First, a few notes. Most often I salt and pepper any steak before marinating it. (In the case of a rub, that goes without saying!) Steak can marinate overnight in the refrigerator or one to two hours at room temperature. If you refrigerate the steak, it’s always best to let it come to room temperature before throwing it on the ‘que. Flank steak is a personal favorite when cooking for a crowd.

1. Ginger and garlic

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar (any kind will do)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh, minced ginger

Combine ingredients. Place steak and marinade in ziplock bag, and let the marinating begin.

2. Basic onion

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2-1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire
  • splash of wine or beer or whatever you’re drinking
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Combine and marinate.

3. The Simple Rub:

Sometimes all you need is to rub the steak with some spices for the good times to roll. Try this incredibly simple rub.

  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground (coarse) pepper
  • generous cumin

Rub meat generously with the above ingredients. Let meat rest for 10 minutes to two hours. Grill. Serve with chimichurri.

– hBru

[This slightly modified post originated from EcoSalon.]

Foolproof Hot Fudge Sauce

This hot fudge sauce recipe is always a hit. It’s the perfect classic fudge sauce. Served with vanilla ice cream, it’s an easy and crowd-pleasing dessert for small gatherings or to have around for family. It lasts a few days in the fridge- you’ll need to re-heat it to serve again, but it’s best when just freshly made.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 square (1 oz.) unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light cream or evaporated milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:

1. Melt butter and square of chocolate in saucepan.

2. Mix together cocoa and sugar and then add to butter mixture in saucepan.

3. Slowly stir in cream. Bring to a boil, and stir well with a wire whisk for 10 seconds. Remove from heat.

4. Blend in salt and vanilla, and serve over ice cream.

Making hot fudge sauce

Hot fudge sauce in the making

hot fudge sauce