“Let them eat cake.” Marie Antoinette
This Nigella Lawson cake was popular about 15 years ago and I had forgotten all about it. Unfortunate since, as far as cakes go, this one is a simple 5-ingredient recipe, full of healthy ingredients with no added fat and little sugar. And soooo good! The batter is made up of ground almonds and whole clementines. Nigella says to cook the clementines for 2 hours. I made the cake twice this month, once by cooking the oranges as directed and a second time by just bringing them to a boil and cooking them 10 minutes in roiling water. The result was the same as far as taste, texture, moisture of the cake with a huge time saving. I also made it in a bundt pan the first time and it was impossible to separate. The springform is a must with this recipe. This is a totally delicious unfussy snacking cake that is super fast to make. I served mine with a dollop of yogurt. Variations on the theme: substitute lemons or Meyer lemons for the clementines. Everyone loved it!
Salads are a staple in my world but come winter, I crave the complex favors of roasted seasonal vegetables instead of cold salads. This salad was inspired by New Orleans chef John Sinclair featured in the WSJ recently. I modified his ingredients to what I had on hand and substituted juicy blood oranges for his grapefruit. Gorgeous squash, sweet potatoes, fennel, red onion and brussel sprouts are oven roasted with warming spices like chili powder, cumin and fennel seeds. Then bright citrus notes are layered in with blood oranges. A topping of crunchy toasted squash seeds and pistachios finish off the salad. There is so much to fall in love with in this meal salad! The recipe lends itself beautifully to all kinds of substitution in the ingredients, spices and citrus toppings so that you can make it over and over in various combinations and never tire of it. There is no need for vinaigrette as the olive oil of the roasting will have coated the vegetables and the acidity and brightness of the blood oranges and their juice will be enough contrast to make the salad truly sing. Here’s how I made mine
“Missouri Ann ate her bit of orange slowly. “Tastes like summer,” she said.” Sandra Dallas
In the heart of winter, this colorful trifle will awaken your palate with its bright citrus flavors and the bite of ginger. As far as trifles go, this one is pretty healthy. The creamy layers are made with Greek yogurt and mascarpone cheese, flavored with orange zest and sweetened with a mere soupçon of honey. The ladyfingers are dipped in the juice of the fruit. Ginger adds a nice spicy contrast to the citrus while boasting great anti inflammatory properties. It is a stunningly beautiful dessert that is good for you too. I served it at a brunch where it received rave reviews. Dig in!
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home.” Edith Sitwell
This hearty soup has all the great flavors of cabbage rolls without all the work. Essentially deconstructed cabbage rolls, it is made stovetop, a one-pot meal. Loaded with heart healthy cabbage in a rich tomato broth, it is more stew than soup. You can make it with ground beef or ground turkey. I seasoned mine with bay leaves, dill and parsley but go with the flavors you are partial to from your favorite cabbage roll recipe. Ready in about a half hour, it is a warming cold weather dish everyone will want to dig into. Hearty and filling, no one will suspect it is low calorie. So good. Grab a bowl! Continue reading
““Winter tightened its grip on Alaska. The vastness of the landscape dwindled down to the confines of their cabin. The sun rose at quarter past ten in the morning and set only fifteen minutes after the end of the school day. Less than six hours of light a day. Snow fell endlessly, blanketed everything. It piled up in drifts and spun its lace across windowpanes, leaving them nothing to see except themselves. In the few daylight hours, the sky stretched gray overhead; some days there was merely the memory of light rather than any real glow. Wind scoured the landscape, cried out as if in pain. The fireweed froze, turned into intricate ice sculptures that stuck up from the snow.” Kristen Hannah, The Great Alone
The Great Alone was the book. The setting was Alaska. January was the month. Our hostess Allyson had made us a delicious pot of warming chili soup. Before we could start discussing Kristen Hannah’s latest book, moans of pleasure erupted around the table. “This is so good!” “What’s in it?” “How did you make this?” Allyson told us it was the Deer Valley Inn’s Turkey Chili recipe from the famous hotel in Utah and was kind enough to share the recipe with us. Her version had chicken instead of turkey. I made mine with cooked turkey from a breast I roasted the day before. I also used turkey stock made with the carcass of the same breast. This chili is more like a chunky soup and is totally different than any chili I’ve ever made. It has no tomatoes, similar to a white chili. It has more meat and broth than beans in it. The broth is thickened with puréed corn which gives it richness and a hint of sweetness. Totally awesome and so welcomed on a bone-chilling day with a howling wind rattling the windows. Dig in to both the chili and Hannah’s sensational tale set in Alaska.
“Never discard anything without saying thank you and good-bye. …
Tidying is the act of confronting yourself. …
We can only transform our lives if we sincerely want to. …
Anxiety arises from not being able to see the whole picture. ..
Follow your intuition and all will be well. …
Tidying orders and relaxes the mind.” Marie Kondo
Long before Marie Kondo was a sensational tidying-up phenemonon, we have been steadily purging our home of the accumulating stuff of life. Where she has been most helpful to us has been in the editing of books. Books are one of my life’s greatest passions and I have a hard time giving them up. Armed with Marie’s promise of sparking joy by keeping only meaningful tomes, I have been donating piles and piles of books to the library, Goodwill and friends. I had however a secret cupboard of special cookbooks that didn’t get culled. A rebellious hold-out of sorts. I just couldn’t part with these books. One of them was Martha Stewart’s classic “Entertaining” book which I’ve had since 1989! Although I haven’t made anything from it in YEARS(Marie’s voice is nagging me!), it is the book from which I learned to cook. Many legendary dinner parties were inspired from its pages. It is what led many to dub me Martha Stewart back in the day. So in order for Prince Charming not to KonMari my cookbook stash, I justified its existence by finding a dessert recipe for a potluck in its well-worn, stained pages. This old-fashioned coconut cake won me over. I had never tried a boiled 7 minute frosting back in its popularity days. It was a fluffly, delicious concoction in a marshmallow-fluff sort-of consistency. The cake sparked joy to all who enjoyed it, including its baker and Prince Charming. Step away from the book stash, Marie. The cookbook is, for now, staying!
Doesn’t the cake look like a giant snowball on our January iced over patio table? The pretty branch is from our beloved witch hazel tree blooming in the winter garden.
Meyer lemons are in season and this cake is the perfect way to make them shine! The Meyer lemon is a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange. It is thinner and smoother skinned with a distinctive taste. In this cake, thinly-sliced Meyer lemon slices (use a mandoline) are arranged in a concentric pattern in a caramel base. The zest of 2 more Meyer lemons goes into the batter to add another layer of citrus flavor. The cake, inspired by a polenta cake from pastry chef Hannah Buoye of A16 Rockridge in Oakland, CA, is a dense, moist dessert as pretty as it is delicious. It has a really nice crumb and a bit of a crunch from the cornmeal. As the lemon slices bake, they absorb the butter and the brown sugar from the caramel base and turn into a marmalade-like consistency and taste. If you are a lemon lover, this cake is for you! The caramelized lemon slices will require a serrated knife to cut into. Let the cake cool 2 hours before taking it out of the pan.