Thursday, April 30, 2015

the perfect roast chicken.

Look - roast chicken isn't particularly beautiful or glamorous but it is comfort food and it's about time I talk about the workhorse of dinner, lunch, and everything in between.

Posting about such a simple dish - some may even say a peasant dish, seemed silly.  Most people I know have probably never even made a homemade roast chicken.  They don't like dark meat or wings or the fact that when you buy a whole chicken it actually looks like a chicken.  It freaks them out and makes them nervous and so they avoid it and instead buy only boneless skinless chicken breasts. (Don't do it people - buy the whole chicken because then you get bones and bones means stock and stock means liquid gold.)

I thought about cutting up the chicken to try and appeal to the masses and make it seem less "chicken" like but you know what - this chicken was an animal and (s)he should be respected in it's original form.  It was an animal and I am eating it and if I can't handle seeing it this way then I sure as hell shouldn't be eating it.

So this post is my ode to the chicken.  An bird consumed by billions on a daily basis and a food that most people never really stop and think about.  Making the perfect roast chicken doesn't require much - some salt, some pepper, some herbs, time, and a hot stove.  It's as simple as it gets but the results are transcendant.  Crispy shattering skin and the most flavorful meat on the planet.  We've been eating it as is with a salad, a hunk of the best bread I can buy, and a couple of cheeses.  It's a simple, satisfying, and incredibly French meal (they were on to something) and one that makes me incredibly happy.   

The Perfect Roast Chicken
Recipe from the NYTimes and Smitten Kitchen 

If there is one piece of advice I can give you it's to buy a free-range, organic, local, happy chicken. They are smaller in size and better suited for this dish and they also taste a hell of a lot better.   Oh and if you have time - make the bread salad on the Smitten Kitchen site to go with it!

Serves 4

One small chicken, 2 3/4 to 3 1/2-pounds
4 tender sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage, about 1/2 inch long
1 – 1 ½ teaspoons salt (1 teaspoon if using a 2 ¾ pound bird increase slightly depending on the size of your bird)
3/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
A little water

Season the chicken: [1 to 3 days before serving; give a 3 1/4 to 3 1/2-pound chicken at least 2 days]
Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out. Be thorough — a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown.

Approaching from the edge of the cavity, slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Using your finger, shove an herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.

Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper. Season the thick sections a little more heavily than the skinny ankles and wings. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity, on the backbone, but don’t otherwise worry about seasoning the inside. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders. Cover loosely and refrigerate.

Prepare your oven and pan: [Day of, total time is 45 minutes to 1 hour]

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan or dish barely larger than the chicken, or use a 10-inch skillet with an all-metal handle (I used a 12-inch cast iron frying pan for a 3 pound chicken). Preheat the pan over medium heat. Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle.

Roast the chicken: Place the chicken in the pan in the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn't, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over — drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes.

Rest the chicken: Remove the chicken from the oven and turn off the heat. Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate. Carefully pour the clear fat from the roasting pan, leaving the lean drippings behind. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and swirl it.

Slash the stretched skin between the thighs and breasts of the chicken, then tilt the bird and plate over the roasting pan to drain the juice into the drippings. You can let it rest while you finish your side dishes. The meat will become more tender and uniformly succulent as it cools.

Serve the chicken: Set a platter in the oven to warm for a minute or two.

Tilt the roasting pan and skim the last of the fat. Place over medium-low heat, add any juice that has collected under the chicken, and bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape to soften any hard golden drippings. Taste — the juices will be extremely flavorful.

Cut the chicken into pieces, spread on the warm platter – drizzle on the juices.

Capitalize on leftovers: Strain and save the drippings you don’t use as you can use them, plus leftover scraps of roast chicken, for a chicken salad.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

a summer off.

I keep dreaming about having the summer off from work and moving upstate to live in some small farmhouse (with Tyler of course). There would be a garden (strawberries! peppers! tomatoes!), there would be worn in Levis and white tee-shirts.  There would be simple sandals, and ponytails, and gold hoop earrings and maxi dresses. Dinner would be lots of salads with all sorts of textures and wedges of cheese and hunks of good bread. Dessert would be macerated berries served over slices of buttermilk poundcake.  I would read a lot, I would cook a lot, and I would also allow myself to sit and do nothing.  

The days would be spent in a kitchen like this.  (Simple, clean, minimal.)

black / white kitchen

Image via Pinterest.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

fruit-filled coffee cake.

Our freezer has turned into an arctic tundra where things go to die.  

I have the habit of throwing things in there haphazardly and then 3 months later while I am frantically searching for something I vaguely remember throwing in there, un-earthing a whole other world of items I had completely forgotten about. Homemade pesto, sausage, berries - the list goes on.  

I've spent the last couple of weeks making attempts to use what I have - to try and really get creative in the kitchen and instead of getting new things, to shop from my own cabinets and to do more with what I have.  It isn't always easy.  We are trained to constantly want new.  But, I am proud of my resourcefulness - it's forcing me to think differently.

And freezer clean-out isn't such a bad thing when it means cake! Coffee Cake nestled with berries you've had stored in your freezer for months just waiting for their time to shine.  This is one serious coffee cake with (in my opinion) the perfect ratio of tender cake to tart fruit to crunchy crumb.  It's a classic cake and one that will be on repeat this summer.  

Fruit-Filled Coffee Cake 
Recipe adapted from Lootie and Doof

The original recipe called for fresh sour cherries and while I have plans to make such a version this summer when cherries return to the market, this also works insanely well with just about any fruit.  My version was made with a combination of raspberries and cherries – but I think blueberries would be killer as well.  Rhubarb would also be grand (note to self must make rhubarb version next).    

For the topping

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for dish
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dish
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

For the cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 ½ cups fresh sour cherries, blueberries, raspberries, or some combination of fruit (frozen also works incredibly well)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch round baking dish,  dust with flour, tap out excess.

In a medium bowl, stir together butter, flour, sugars, salt, and cinnamon, ginger, and almond extract. Set topping aside.

Whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla and almond extract.

Working in alternating batches, add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined. Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with an offset spatula. Dot top with fruit, and sprinkle with crumb topping.

Bake until golden and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool before cutting.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

mellow yellow.

yellow kitchen cabinets.

This mellow yellow is calling my name (especially when paired with cool grey).

(New rhubarb recipes are coming next week - get excited.)

Image via Pinterest.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

spicy sweet potato chip and avocado sandwich.

Last week's issue of the NYTimes dinning section stole my heart because my love of sandwiches knows no bounds.   It is safe to say that after reading the article about how to build a better sandwich, I had a SERIOUS hankering for something stuffed between two slices of bread.   

And so I made one epic sandwich.  

Some may scoff at the idea of a sandwich containing no meat.  While vegetarian sandwiches are not the norm, they are incredibly delicious especially when they encompass lots of different textural and flavor elements. The key to a good sandwich is juxtaposition - something crunchy with something soft.  Something spicy with something sweet.  If you can get that balance right the sandwich possibilities are endless. 

This particular sandwich has it all - crispy, crunchy homemade sweet potato chips.  Creamy avocado and a particularly addicting spicy special sauce.  It's not neat and it's not pretty but it's good and satisfying and absurdly delicious.   

Spicy Sweet Potato Chip and Avocado Sandwich
Recipe adapted from Dolly and Oatmeal

Makes 2 Sandwiches

1 large sweet potato, sliced lengthwise to about 1/8-inch thickness
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Large grain sea salt + fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 ripe avocado, sliced
Micro greens, sprouts, small lettuce, etc.
2 ounces of goat cheese
4 slices bread (or 2 rolls), toasted
Spicy Special Sauce (see below for recipe)

Pre-heat oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Mix sliced sweet potatoes, oil, paprika, a couple pinches of salt, and a few grinds of pepper, until potatoes are evenly coated.  Spread potatoes in a single layer, do not overlap or overcrowd.

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip each potato over and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  At this point some potatoes might be crisp; if so, remove from baking sheet and transfer to a large platter or plate. Continue this process until potatoes are lightly browned and crisp.  Let potatoes cool in a single layer. (Placing them on top of one another while still hot will result in a soggy chip.)

Remove spicy sauce from fridge and spread a good amount on both sides of the bread.  Add avocado, chips, micro greens, and goat cheese, and top with remaining slice of bread

Spicy Special Sauce

1 teaspoon good dijon mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons mayonaise or vegenaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon sriracha
1/4 teaspoon maple syrup

Whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at 1 hour or up to 1 week

Thursday, April 16, 2015

sandwich love.

The NYTimes Food and Dinning Section did a series about sandwiches this week and it made me feel as if all my food dreams had come true.  (If there is anything I love in this world it's a good sandwich.)  

With picnic season fast approaching (my favorite thing is to pack us an epic lunch and read in the park for hours on end) it's nice to have some new sandwich inspiration.  The one at left I find truly dreamy - arugula, roast beef, provolone and hot pepper relish.  Expect this to be the summer of the sandwich.   

Check out the articles here and here. Also the ode to the breakfast sandwich is particularly lovely.   

Image via the NYTimes.    

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ricotta and black pepper gnudi.

Several years ago, when Eleven Madison Park was managed by Danny Meyer, Tyler and I managed to snag a Friday night dinner reservation.  We were maybe 25 at the time and I couldn't quite believe that a restaurant as majestic, regal, and beautiful as Eleven Madison Park would allow some young girl and her boy to eat in their restaurant. It seemed like a place that only-sharp dressed, fancy-pants people could eat at.  If they thought less of us you would have never known. The service was incredible and the meal was memorable.  

The highlight of the evening and the thing I still dream about was a ricotta dish.  At first glance I thought I was given a plate of gnocchi but with one bite I realized this was an entirely different beast. This was a plate of cheese disguised as pasta; each bite resulted in an explosion of cheesiness.  To say I was smitten would have been an understatement.   

It wasn't until a couple of years later that I realized what I ate was gnudi. Gnudi are essentially balls of ricotta covered in the thinnest layer of semolina.  They are the fancy-pants (and far better) version of mozzarella sticks so you can see why I would be so obsessed.  It never occurred to me that I could make them myself and that making them could be so insanely easy (learning some things can be very dangerous) but thankfully Kenji over at Serious Eats helped me right my wrong.  

Ricotta and Black Pepper Gnudi
Recipe adapted from Serious Eats 

Kenji recommended a sage and brown butter sauce to serve with these.  I am sure that would be superb but I made a light cream sauce with peas and that paired beautifully (though I think a sorrel sauce could be pretty incredible as well).  The choice is yours! (Kenji's sauce recipe can be found in the link to the Serious Eats site.) I also wouldn't be opposed to eating these with just a drizzle of olive oil and lots of black pepper and Parmesan.     

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer or 2 to 3 as a main course. 

16 ounces best quality fresh sheep or cow's milk ricotta
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups semolina flour

For the gnudi: Line a large plate with three layers of paper towels or a clean dish towel. Transfer ricotta directly to paper towels and spread with a rubber spatula. Place another triple layer of paper towels or a clean dish towel on top and press down firmly with the palms of your hands to blot excess moisture. Peel off upper paper towels.

Place a large bowl on a scale and zero the scale. Scrape ricotta into bowl to weigh. Remove excess ricotta to leave exactly 12 ounces. Reserve excess ricotta for another use. Add Parmesan and season heavily with black pepper. Combine mixture with a rubber spatula. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a large clean plate and spread into a thin, even layer. Transfer to freezer and let chill for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer half of the semolina flour to a large bowl and the other half to a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. When ricotta is chilled, scrape it into a separate empty large bowl and fold it with a rubber spatula until no big chunks of frozen ricotta remain. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon form a ball of ricotta about 1 1/2-inches wide (about 2 tablespoons) and transfer to the bowl with the flour. Using your fingers, scoop dry flour over the top of the ricotta ball.

Once the ball is coated, gently lift it and roll it around in your hands to form a neat sphere. Transfer it to the baking dish. Repeat with remaining ricotta. You should have about 16 to 20 finished gnudi. Sprinkle any remaining semolina in the bowl over the formed gnudi. Cover baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 3 days, turning the gnudi once per day. Once gnudi have formed a skin, they can be frozen. Transfer to a large plate or a rimmed baking sheet and freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to a zipper-lock freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Allow to thaw on a plate covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.

To Cook and Serve: Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add gnudi and cook, stirring very gently, for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnudi to a platter. 

Transfer gnudi to a warm serving dish or to individual plates. Sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper and sauce of your choice. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

framed photos.

This dinning room makes me want to finally print out some of my travel photos and blow them up for our walls.  

Image via Pinterest.

Monday, April 13, 2015

coconut brown butter cookies.

My ability to become completely fixated and obsessed with an item or food is probably one of my worst quirks.  I have zero patience when I want something - it's as if my brain starts screaming "must get this now".  I've tried to desperately control it, but the second I tell myself no, it just rears it's ugly head even stronger.  I've learned to just give-in.  It's better for everyone and will-power is overrated if you ask me.   
Which is why, less than a week after returning from Nashville, I found myself in my kitchen with a mission to make a buttery coconut cookie that embodied everything the version found south of the Mason-Dixon had. Thankfully the ever-reliable Deb at Smitten Kitchen had already done all of the work for me.  Her coconut brown butter cookie looked to be the thing my dreams were made of.   

And it was.  It was everything and more.  A cookie composed of massive amounts of butter and coconut and just enough flaky sea salt to make them impossibly addicting.   Crispy edges and a slightly chewier center - it's my kind of textured cookie-nirvana.

And while Deb does not suggest a drizzle of bittersweet chocolate, I can't help but think she wouldn't be opposed to such an idea.  (It really is a brilliant addition if you ask me.)   

Coconut Brown Butter Cookies
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen 

Yield: 1 dozen (if you make the massive bakery size), about 2 dozen of a medium size (about 2T dough each) or 4 dozen of a small size (1T each).

1 cup (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (145 grams) packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Slightly heaped 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 cups (240 grams) dried, unsweetened coconut chips

See note about chocolate at the end of the recipe.   

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as it seems to take forever (more than 5 minutes) but then turns dark very quickly. Once it is a deeply fragrant, almost nut-brown color, remove from heat and pour butter and all browned bits at the bottom into a measuring cup. Adding 2 tablespoons water should bring the butter amount back up to 1 cup. Chill browned butter in the fridge until it solidifies, about 1 to 2 hours. You can hurry this along in the freezer, but check back and stir often so it doesn't freeze unevenly solid.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
Scrape chilled browned butter and any bits into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat the mixture together until fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed, then vanilla. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour half of flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour and mix again, scraping down bowl if needed. Add coconut chips in two parts as well.

Scoop dough into 1, 2 or more (Rubin recommends a 2-inch wide scoop for bakery-sized cookies) balls and arrange a few with a lot of room for spreading on first baking sheet; use the back of a spoon or your fingers to flatten the dough slightly.   Bake first tray of cookies; 1 tablespoon scoops will take 10 to 11 minutes; 2 tablespoon scoops, 12 to 14 minutes, the 2-inch scoop used at the bakery, 14 to 16 minutes; take the cookies out when they’re deeply golden all over.

Cool cookies on baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature. Extra dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for a month or more.

Note: If you are like me and enjoy some chocolate with your coconut – melt some bittersweet chocolate in the microwave (watch carefully so it doesn't burn!) and drizzle over the top (about 2 ounces) or more if you feel like being really generous.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

vegetarian tamale pie with brown butter cornbread crust.

During the month of March I ate the same meal at least once a day for practically an entire week.  I don't do things like that very often.   Leftovers and I generally don't see eye to eye.  I grow fickle quickly and when that happens I pawn them off on the guy I live with.  

But I may have tried to hoard this dish.

Most "carnivores" find that bean based dishes are poor substitutes for the meat dishes they are supposed to mimic.  Even a  devout bean-a-holic like myself can admit that some vegetarian versions are just plain awful. Trying to substitute one for one doesn't always work - to make a vegetarian dish sing, you really need to think about adding components that create that umami meat flavor.   

Kenji over at the Food Lab puts in more time and effort then any other chef out there to make vegetarian dishes that are as good (if not better) then their meat-centered counterparts.  Over the last couple of months he has become by go-to for vegetarian centered meals and of all the things I've made, this tamale pie is the best of the best.  I don't know if it's the soy sauce, or the combination of beans, perhaps it is the multitude of spices, but this filling is just addicting.  Spicy, sweet, MEATY, and all together satisfying.  The real kicker is the cornbread crust which is everything a Northerner like me wants in cornbread (a lot of tenderness and a little hint of sweetness).  To say I am obsessed is a bit of a an understatement.  It's everything I want to eat until rhubarb and peas show up at the farmer's market.          

Oh and if you were wondering, it reheats brilliantly.   

Vegetarian Tamale Pie with Brown Butter Cornbread Crust 
Recipe from Kenji at the Food Lab on Serious Eats 

The only change I made was to use dried beans (that I cooked ahead of time) instead of canned because I don't always love the texture of canned beans - do what ever works best for you.   

For the Pie Filling

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh corn kernels from 1 to 2 ears of corn
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 Serrano pepper, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin (preferably from whole seeds)
1 teaspoon ground coriander (preferably from whole seeds)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
1 cup pitted green olives, sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and coarsely crushed with your hand
4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems, minced

For the Brown Butter Cornbread Crust

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup (about 5 ounces) fine yellow cornmeal
1 cup (about 5 ounces) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
6 ounces (about ¾ cup) sour cream
4 ounces (about ¼ cup) cultured buttermilk
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 red jalapeño pepper, finely minced
Sour cream, for serving

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven, or saucepan over high heat until lightly smoking. Add corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is well charred in spots, about 4 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, and poblano pepper, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes.

Add garlic, Serrano pepper, cumin, coriander, oregano, and chili powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add olives, soy sauce, tomatoes, black beans, and kidney beans. Bring to a simmer and adjust heat to maintain. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Stir in grated cheese, scallions, and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the Brown Butter Cornbread Crust: Heat butter in a 12-inch cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium heat until melted. Continue to cook, swirling pan gently until butter is nutty-smelling and solids are a toasty brown. Transfer to a heatproof cup or bowl and let rest until slightly cooler, about five minutes.

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Combine eggs, sour cream, and buttermilk in a second bowl and whisk until homogenous. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in reserved browned butter. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until homogenous. Fold in scallions and jalapeño pepper.

Transfer bean mixture to a large cast iron skillet. Using a large spoon, place small dollops of the cornbread batter mixture on top of the bean filling, then use the back of the spoon to spread it into an even layer. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until pale golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cornbread comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Let cool 15 minutes, then serve with sour cream.

Friday, April 3, 2015

single layer carrot cake.

Can we talk about carrot cake for a second?

We served carrot cake at our wedding and while it was superbly moist, flavorful, and perfect for a somewhat classy event, it lacked that add-in's that I deem necessary. Sure the cream cheese frosting was divine (then again when is cream cheese frosting not divine?) but what I really wanted was a cake studded with chunks of walnuts, raisins, pineapple and a plethora of shredded carrots.  

I wanted something hefty and filling. Something that read a little bit like health-food but we all know isn't health-food.  I wanted a single layer cake that could be made on a Wednesday evening just because it's April and the daily high is finally above 50 degrees.  I wanted a week-day cake that felt like a celebration.   

And without further ado - HERE IT IS!

This is how I like my carrot cake. Coconut oil (which works brilliantly with carrots and pineapple) serves as the base for a cake that contains 2 types of flour (whole wheat being one of them), a healthy dose of spices (cinnamon and ginger) and more add-ins then should be allowed. It's hefty but not heavy which is why I love it so.  Sure you could eat it with just a dusting of powdered sugar but if we are making this a celebration cake, I strongly encourage you to go with the cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting is a party.   

Single Layer Carrot Cake
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Made a couple of changes - dialed back the sugar by a decent amount.  I feel you could dial it back to 2/3 of a cup but the choice is yours.  Swapped vegetable oil for coconut oil since coconut oil is the cool new healthy oil and added in an extra punch of spice flavor with the ginger since I think you can can never have too much spice. The resulting cake tastes like the traditional carrot cake just slightly modernized which is exactly how I like things.   

For the cake

¾ cup granulated sugar (see note above)
½ cup + 3 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ pound carrots, grated
1/3 cup diced fresh pineapple

For the frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 1 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pan.

For the cake: Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together the ¾ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup whole wheat flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well (batter will be very thick).

Pour the batter in the pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.

For the frosting: Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and salt and mix until smooth.

Place the cake flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I don't think I have ever lusted over a kitchen the way I am lusting over this one.  

Those lights and those floors (chevron?!).  I am having serious heart palpitations.  

Oh and that double stove is basically everything I've ever wanted.  

Darren and Deanne | Room 6 | Kitchen | The Block Shop - Channel 9

Image via Pinterest.