Beet and Herbed Goat Cheese Pizza

With our garden flourishing and autumn approaching, Esther and I have been harvesting like maniacs before we have to say good bye to a lot of our plants as the cold weather comes in. We have bags and bags and bags of fresh herbs piling up in our apartment dying to be eaten.

Last night, I decided to mince up our herbs and whip it with some goat cheese and cream as the base for a delicious beet pizza! It was gorgeous, rich, and delicious! The herbs created a brightness to the pizza and gave interesting new flavors for each bite. One time, you’ll taste parsley and the next, you get a hint of mint! Plus, it was real easy to make!

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Beet and Herbed Goat Cheese Pizza

8 oz. Soft Goat Cheese
1-2 T. Fresh Parsley
1-2 T. Fresh Green Onion
1/2-1 T. Fresh Rosemary
1-2 t. Fresh Chocolate Mint
1-2 T. Fresh Basil
1-2 T. Heavy Whipping Cream
Black Pepper

2 Medium Beets, peeled and thinly sliced
2 lb. Pizza Dough
Flour
1 bunch of Beet Greens
3/4 c. Beet Green Stems, sliced
1/2 c. Parmesan Romano Cheese, grated
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Set your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, prep your beets. Save your stems and greens! Peel and thinly slice your beets into circles or half-moons. Set aside.

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Rinse and slice up your beet greens and stems so that they are ready to sauté right before you pop the pizzas into the oven. Mince up your fresh herbs. I did a mixture of green onion, parsley, rosemary, basil, and a touch of mint, but feel free to experiment with different flavors!

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Next, place your soft goat cheese into a mixing bowl and, a spoonful at a time, fold in your fresh herbs. Take your time and pour in as little or as much whipping cream as you need to help with the mixing process. I used the full 2 T. of cream, but only because I like my cheese extra whippy! Season with some fresh ground pepper to taste. Pop the cheese into the fridge when it’s ready and start making the beet greens.

In a medium skillet, sauté the stems until they are just tender with some olive oil. Throw in the greens until they have wilted and sprinkle on some salt. Now it’s time to prep the dough.

Similar to the shiitake mushroom and gorgonzola pizza, knead out any air bubbles in your pizza dough. Split the dough into two pizzas. Use your judgement in terms of circumference. You are going to want a denser outside crust and a thinner inside!

Dust a pan with flour and place the dough on top! Lightly sprinkle some salt onto the dough and brush on some olive oil on the surface.

Next, grab your cheese, while saving about 1/4 of the cheese mixture, place dollops around the surface and use a knife to spread out the big hunks of cheese. Once the dough is covered, neatly place your beets evenly across the dough. Brush the beets with olive oil so that they shimmer and to help with the cooking process. Season your pizza with salt and pepper to your liking!

In different spots on top of the pizza, spread out your greens and stems.

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Pop into the oven for about 8-9 minutes, then open the oven and sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top! Cook for another 5-6 minutes until the pizza’s crust is golden brown and the beets appear to be cooked all the way through.

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Place the pizza onto a serving platter or, in our case, a cutting board to cool and add some additional dollops of goat cheese onto the pizza that will melt just in time for serving! Enjoy!

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This blood red pizza is absolutely mouthwatering! I am so happy that we made so much of it because I am so thankful for these leftovers! The beets roasted perfectly highlighting their earthy flavor and they balanced nicely with the acidity and creaminess of the goat cheese. And really, who can say no to a pizza this beautiful? Seriously.

Love,
Mimi

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Apple Frangipane Tart

I’m going to introduce this post by answering a few FAQs:

What is a frangipane, anyway?

Not to be confused with the flower, frangipane is a delicious buttery almond paste that can be made in about ten seconds. It’s used as pastry filling and cake filling and pretty much any kind of filling. I describe my personal recipe below, adapted from something I found on the internet.

What is the difference between a pie and a tart?

The discrepancy here is a little shady. Many people define a pie by its sloped edges, fitting specifically into a pie dish. A tart goes into a tart dish, right? Let’s split hairs. The crust of a pie is usually flaky, buttery, kinda short-bready. Tart crust is usually stiffer and needs to keep its shape when it leaves its tart shell.  Pies are usually gooier, like jam. That’s a weird word. Gooier.

Tarts are always open-faced, more often than not, the fruit is dried in such a way where it will be moist, but not gooey.

What occasion is this pie for, Francisco?

Why, it is for my Autumnal Equinox Harvest Moon Party, thanks for asking.

Is it even fall yet?

No, not yet. Just wait until September 22, my love.

Why wasn’t I invited to your party?

You were, honey. I sent you a message on Facebook.

No you didn’t, I just checked.

Oh, shoot, my wireless must have messed up the invites. I totally meant to invite you.

Just get on with the recipe. 

INGREDIENTS:

One Best Pie Crust In The World
1 c. almond meal + 1 T.
1/2 c. sugar + 2 T.
2 T. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 large egg
4 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
4 large apples, cut and slices
2-4 T. lemon
lotsa cinnamon

SO, let’s tackle this in three parts. PART ONE; make The Best Pie Crust In The World and store it in the fridge for at least two hours, but don’t leave it in your fridge for two weeks, like I did. After you’ve formed the crust to a plate, keeping the edges of the crust inward to make it more tart-like, and then refrigerate until you need it.

PART TWO; Make the Frangipane. Combine almond meal, flour, sugar, salt in a medium bowl. Then combine with butter, egg, vanilla until the mixture forms a thick paste. Thick enough to keep it’s shape. If it’s not thick enough, add more almond meal, and a little flour in moderation.

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Mmmm gooier.

Next, spread the frangipane at the bottom of your pie crust for a real thick layer that coats up on the sides as well.

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Cut up the apples into your desired shape. Most apple tarts have this kinda flower thing going on, but me, being the clever person that I am, wanted to go agains the grain. So I thought, hmm what if I make my apples into this kinda weird log-stick shape so that they look like french fries wouldn’t that be a good idea?

Coat your apples in lemon juice, then 2 T. sugar, 1 T. flour, and cinnamon as desired. Cinnamon is optional, but you know I’m a sucker for cinnamon.

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So yea, take your french fries, or whatever they are and when they’re all fully coated, plop them on top of the frangipane layer. I started to arrange mine in this brick layer kinda thing because I thought that would be cool?

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It wasn’t. I ended up piling them on like firewood.

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Bake at 400 degrees and then reduce to 375 when after ten minutes, letting the crust toughen. Take it out after 50 minutes or so, or until you can put a fork through an apple with just a hair of resistance. Now you have this weird awesome delicious almondy pie that looks like it is filled with french fries.

Love,
Francisco

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Black Bean and Cheese Chiles Rellenos

Now that me and Esther live together, we are going to make all the delicious things and we’re pulling out the big guns! The Logan Square Farmer’s Market wins again for having beautiful poblano peppers and I knew exactly what I wanted to make this week.

Thanks to Eddie for teaching me the techniques to the perfect chiles rellenos! Also, conveniently, there are tons of little bodegas in the neighborhood packed with the right cheese!

Chiles Rellenos

4 Poblano Peppers
3-4 oz. Queso Chihuahua
1 c. Black Beans
1/4 White Onion, minced
2 Egg Whites, 1 yolk separated
Dried Oregano to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 Can Diced or Puréed Tomatoes
Toothpicks*

First, roast/char your peppers over the flame on the gas stove til they start to blister and turn black. Each time a pepper is fully blackened, place in a mixing bowl and top with saran wrap or a baggie to let the peppers steam. Leave the peppers to steam while you go through the rest of the food prep.

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Mince up your onion, grate your cheese, and strain your black beans! Mix all together and season with oregano, salt, and pepper to taste! Note that the cheese is pretty salty already so you may not even need to use salt!

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Once your stuffing is all ready to go, pop it in the fridge to keep it nice and fresh!

Pull out your peppers and rinse them with cold water and brush away the charred pieces to reveal the smooth green flesh. Make a small-medium incision in the flesh and remove/rinse (as best you can) the seeds from the inside of the pepper. I like to leave some just to keep a bit of a kick, but it’s not for everybody. Esther’s had quite a bit of seeds and she said it was kind of “a punch in the face,” but in a good way!

For the egg batter, place your egg whites in a mixing bowl and whisk them into submission to stiff peaks. Then pour in the egg yolk and whip it up to a nice cream color.

Stuff your peppers with the filling, but not so much so that they are overflowing. We kind of stuffed ’em a bit too much. If you have toothpicks, it is best to seal your peppers so that they do not spill in your pan, I like to do about 3 per pepper. Me and Esther definitely forgot these, so we made a makeshift seal with a fork. Whoops!

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In a medium sized skillet, pour in 1 T. of oil on medium-high heat. As the oil is heating up, dredge your peppers in the batter.

Once the oil is hot enough, place the peppers into the oil and let them cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes or until the batter begins to brown.

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If needed, re-batter and fry again if some batter falls off in the process.

Let the peppers rest on a plate with paper towels to soak up the oil and to let the cheese fully melt and cook the insides. Warm the canned tomatoes in a pot and lightly season if necessary.

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Serve with the tomato sauce on rice! I added some extra slices of cheese on top! What a delicious and hearty meal chockfull of green things tonight! We served our peppers with rice, salad, sliced avocado, sautéed green beans with lemon thyme, AND LOVE.

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Bon appétit !

Love,
Mimi

Eggplant Stewed in Black Bean Garlic Sauce

So.. Soups & Roots & Rants has flatlined on the blogosphere – this was a crazy summer and again, we apologize, but never fear! Now that summer is winding down and the weather is beginning to change, the days of cooking and photographing have returned! I’ve officially moved into my new apartment in Chicago with my gardening and cooking friend, Esther. It has been wonderful!

But I have to say it didn’t feel like I was truly moved in until we cooked our first meal together. Esther bought these beautiful Italian heirloom eggplants at the Logan Square farmer’s market and they were too beautiful to cut up – so we left them whole and stewed them up!

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Here’s what we created:
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Eggplant Stewed in Black Bean Garlic Sauce

1 can of Black beans, half drained
3-4 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 1/2 c. Water (more or less if needed)
1 T. Olive oil
2-3 T. and 1 T. Soy Sauce (separated)
2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
1 1/2 T. Corn Starch
14 Italian Heirloom Eggplants

First, chop off the tops and create a small incision of an ‘X’ on the bottom of each eggplant. Set aside until the sauce is ready to go!

In a deep and wide pot on medium to high heat, sauté the chopped garlic until it begins to slightly brown. Then pour in the can of black beans and occasionally stir. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce down to a simmer. Add in the 2 T. of soy sauce and some water. This will help the black beans break down to create the sauce.
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In a small bowl, mix together the corn starch, 1 T. of soy sauce, and 1-2 T. of water to create a good thickening agent for the sauce.

Once the sauce has reduced down to an even balance between paste-y and watery, place in the eggplants on their sides and cover.
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After approximately 8-10 minutes, uncover the eggplants and flip them over so that each side stews evenly in the pot. Cover for another 4-5 minutes until the eggplants are tender and easily punctured with a fork.
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During the cooking process, the eggplants will release quite a bit of liquid which adds tremendously to the sauce! If you feel like it needs any additional seasoning before serving, have at it!

Serve with some extra sauce over rice next to some sautéed greens (we used beet greens!) or paired with a meaty protein! Italian heirloom eggplant’s creamy texture paired with the sweet and mild flesh went nicely with my homemade sauce!

We had some leftover sauce to store away for another meal! Perhaps for another meal throw onto some rice or top it onto another delicious veggie, meat, or tofu! Yum!

Love,

Mimi

An Update + Tasty Lunch

Hi all,

We are terribly sorry that in the whirlwind that is the summer, we have not had the opportunity to update our blog.

Francisco graduated from college!! Whee! For the past month-ish, he has been living in New York City under a Publishing Fellowship at NYU. He just finished his program and now is on the job hunt with a beautiful resumé ready to go!

Mimi finished her first year of graduate school! With straight A’s, too! For the past month, she has been working at the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, a residential treatment facility in Hyde Park for Youth. She absolutely loves her job and is revving up to start her second year field placement in August working in a Middle School and a Junior High School in the Northern Suburbs!

Francisco recently came home to Chicago for a little while and of course, Mimi picked him up from the airport to make this delicious meal!

Francisco assembled this GORGEOUS cheese and cracker platter:

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It includes: Crackers, Seedy Wheat Bread, Honey Goat Cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Dried Cherries and Apricots, Slice Almonds, Homemade Jam

Then together, we produced this delicious salad: Image

The highlights include: Sautéed Butternut Squash, Mango Balsamic Glaze, and Golden Raisins.

We are doing well and eating well (to the best of our ability!) We will cook together (or on our own) very very soon!

As this post is being made, Francisco is conjuring up a “dream recipe” to share with you all!

Off to be more productive!

Love,

Mimi and Francisco

Shiitake Mushrooms & Gorgonzola Pizza with Arugula

Tonight, me and my workwife Erica got together to study for our final. We planned it out perfectly. Make a meal, study while we cook, study while we eat, study after we eat, drink some, and then have an awesome slumber party.

We went to the store and handpicked our ingredients. I suggested Medici pizza dough. Erica requested a stinkier cheese and arugula. I suggested shiitake mushrooms. It turned out perfect. I mean, come on. Look at this pizza:

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1 lb Pizza Dough
1/4 c. Flour
2 c. Baby Arugula
1 1/2 c. Gorgonzola Cheese, crumbled
2 c. Mozzarella Cheese, grated
1/2 c. Parmesan Romano Cheese, grated
1/4 lb Shiitake Mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium/large Shallot, diced
1-2 cloves of Garlic, minced
Olive oil
Dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
Egg (optional – but really, you are gonna want this egg)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a medium saucepan on medium to high heat, pour in some olive oil. Sauté the onions and garlic until the onions become translucent. Then add the shiitake mushrooms until they release majority of their moisture and become fragrant. Season generously with salt and pepper.

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Knead out any air bubbles in your pizza dough. Split into two pizzas or leave it as one large pizza. Use your judgement in terms of circumference. You are going to want a denser outside crust and a thinner inside!

Dust a pan with flour and place the dough on top!

First, build a layer with mozzarella cheese and gorgonzola cheese. Then pour onto it, the mushroom mixture! Throw on some more cheese including the parmesan! Season the pizza on top with the dried oregano!

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Pop it into the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese gets all bubbly!

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If you like it, then you shoulda put an egg on it. If you plan to put an egg on top (don’t screw up like I did and let the egg move all over the sides..) and place it on top of the pizza about 5-8 minutes before the pizza is done cooking. The egg will be ready when all of the egg white is set and some of the yolk starts to set.

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Serve and top with some arugula! The best way to eat this is with some prosecco and a CBT study guide and case study. I loved the earthy flavors of the shiitakes with the gorgonzola cheese! You cannot go wrong here.

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Happy Finals Week!

Love,

Mimi

Triple-A Couscous Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Asparagus, Arugula, and Artichokes comprise the Triple A’s in this delicious couscous dish! I threw this together tonight and it is one of the most tasty meals! I made it extra winey because that’s how I like it, but feel free to tinker around with those measurements!

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Triple-A Couscous Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes

2-3 T. Oil
1/4 – 1/2 c. Artichoke hearts, sliced in small chunks and big chunks
6-7 stalks of Asparagus, sliced
2 c. loosely packed Arugula
1 1/3 c. dried Israeli Couscous, make as directed on box
1/4 c. Sun-dried Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 White Onion, diced
1/4 c. Grated Parmesan (optional)
2-3 T. Parsley
1/2 – 1 c. Dry White Wine
Salt and Pepper to taste

Roast your asparagus whole with about 1/2 T. of Oil, salt and pepper to taste at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until tender. Once cooked, slice up into 1-2″ pieces! Cook your couscous!

Once the couscous is all cooked, keep it in the saucepan and set the stove to a low/simmer heat. Mix in your onions and sun-dried tomatoes. Cover the couscous for about 3-4 minutes so it gets all steamed up!

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 11.11.06 PMThen turn off the stove. Pour in the wine then fold in your artichokes and sliced asparagus.

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 11.12.37 PMMake sure to vary your artichoke heart sizes so that you get some real tasty bites!

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 11.12.55 PMThrow everything into a mixing bowl with the remaining olive oil and you could add here some type of wine or cider vinegar if you have! Lastly, fold in the arugula and you’re all done!

Serve hot, room temperature, or even cold! Enjoy! Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 11.13.27 PM

This dish is perfect as a side, starter salad, or a delicious summer lunch!

Love,

Mimi

Spring Vegetable Pot Pie

When I saw this recipe from feasting at home on foodgawker, my jaw dropped. I decided I HAD to make it. So I originally made this recipe almost word-for-word. Okay, so I actually changed quite a bit. I took out the tofu and the nutritional yeast, plus we opted in corn, because duh! I also skipped the step to blanch the potatoes, whoops! And I used regular pastry dough instead of the vegan kind, but whatever floats your boat!

The first time that I made it, we chose to use carrots, fennel, mushrooms, corn and peas. The fennel gave it a great bright and interesting taste that blended perfectly with the tarragon, but finding a good fennel bulb proved to be somewhat difficult!

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I loved the recipe so much that I just had to make it again for some friends the other night. This time, I changed up the recipe even more! I chose carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, corn, and…white beans – to throw in some protein! I also swapped out the broth for water and used significantly less so it was a heartier and thicker filling, plus it didn’t leak!

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Best part about making it twice means twice as many pictures!

Spring Vegetable Pot Pie
2 T Oil
1/4 c. Flour
2 c. Water
1 c. Onion, diced
2 T. Garlic, minced
1 c. Carrot, diced
1 c. Asparagus or 1 c. Fennel, sliced
1 c. Mushrooms
1 12 oz. can of White Beans, drained and rinsed or 1 c. Peas
1-2 Large Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/3 c Dry White Wine
1 T. Fresh Thyme
2 T. Fresh Tarragon
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 package or pre-made puff pastry dough
Preheat the oven to 400F
Saute onions and garlic on medium to high heat until the onions become translucent. Add in your vegetables being mindful of their cooking speeds and the liquid they release. Meaning, toss in the mushrooms and let them release some moisture, then throw in the potatoes and carrots. Throw in the corn and asparagus last!
Turn heat to medium low and saute until vegetables are close to being done, but could still use maybe 2-3 more minutes, about 12 minutes. Splash with wine, and cook on med heat until it evaporates, about 5 minutes.
Stir in flour and cook one minute while stirring. Add water and mustard and stir until it just comes to a boil and thickens. Fold in the white beans! Turn the heat off! Add fresh tarragon and thyme and stir up until it becomes fragrant! If you prefer a soupier pot pie, then feel free to use the original measurement of 3 c. of water or broth.
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See the difference? Whichever looks tastier to you – go for it! Note that they do get a little soupier while baking so the right side wasn’t totally dry!
Fill greased oven proof ramekins or baking dish. Our recipe fit perfectly into my 4 beautiful lion’s head bowls!
IMG_0256Roll out Puff pastry dough to fit what you will be using. If using individual ramekins, place them on the dough and use as a pattern, and cut around them. We liked to make fun designs on the top like letters and shapes!
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Bake for 20-30 minutes until puffed and golden. Then you can crack into that crust like a crème brûlée and dig in!
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I love this dish! You feel like a scavenger searching for all kinds of goodies inside this bowl! All the vegetables provide for some fun different textures inside and it is incredibly flavorful! It is a super delicious and hearty meal that is a great crowd pleaser! Plus, the puff pastry on top really makes you look and feel super gourmet – even if it is store-bought Pepperidge Farm. Shh!
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Enjoy and love on this beautiful weather!
Love,
Mimi

Vegetable and Herb Gardening

Me and my friend Esther, a fellow cook with a deep love for vegetables, decided to grow a vegetable and herb garden this summer.

Partly because we love vegetables, partly because we want to eat yummy fresh produce and use fresh herbs, and partly because it’s a great way to utilize our amazing mothering instincts.

Yesterday, we went to the Hyde Park Garden Fair and went a little bit wacko. We’re kind of out of control, but we are proud of it.

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We bought pots on pots on pots of vegetables and herbs, compost dirt, regular soil, and some gardening tools.

Here’s what we got:

Vegetables
– Spinach
– Red Tomatoes
– Yellow Tomatoes
– Cherry Tomatoes
– Brussels Sprouts
– Celery
– Onions
– Leeks

Herbs
– Sweet Basil
– Spicy Basil
– Chocolate Mint
– Cilantro
– Parsley
– Rosemary
– Thyme

Today, while gardening, we also met a new friend, Todd, a fellow gardener who shares the garden space. He let us use his watering can and he even gave us two Sweet Yellow Peppers to grow in our space!

We are utilizing a LOT of space. We didn’t realize just how much space we’d need until we assessed where everything should go yesterday afternoon. We originally started out with this plot where I’m sitting and soon realized, there’s NO WAY it would be enough room!

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Today, we cleared away and expanded into another plot! We also decided to pot some of our plants that we’d like to keep after we change apartments and we move to the Northside next year!

Here’s the progress we made this morning:

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This is plot number 1. Inside, we have onions, sweet basil, cilantro, spinach, thyme, big boy red tomato plant and cherry tomato plant

Then we did some potting..

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In the pots, we have all the rest of the tomato plants: big boy red tomatoes, golden boy yellow tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes! One of our golden boys got a little shocked by the whole potting process and a huge part of his branches snapped today and his leaves got all wilty. We’re holding out to see how he does after a couple of days in his new environment with the warm weather.

Next, we cleared away and started the new plot:

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On side 1 of the 2nd plot, we have a row of Brussels sprouts, a to-be planted parsley plant, and some golden self-blanching celery.

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Side two of Plot 2 features our sweet yellow peppers (thanks Todd!) And soon to be, the leeks! In the boxes, we have some herbs that we hope to pot and take with us after the summer: spicy basil, chocolate mint, and rosemary.

I gotta be honest, the chocolate mint is probably my favorite. It is incredibly fragrant and I can’t get enough of it!

We are loving the therapeutic nature of gardening! I love being able to tend to all of our little babies as they start to grow! Cannot wait for them to start producing delicious treats for us throughout the summer!

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I encourage everyone to go and enjoy this warm weather! Whether you are gardening, going for a long walk, or simply sitting outside with a glass of lemonade – go enjoy the sun! You deserve it!

Love,

Mimi

Bienenstich (The Viking Honey Cake)

The bienenstich, which in German translates to “bee sting,” is a delicious dessert, but I am reluctant to call it a “cake.” It’s made on a yeasty sweet bread, you see, and is a little more savory than you’d expect for something you’d give to someone for their birthday. What it loses sweetness in the body, it makes up for on top, with its crunchy, honey almond coat. MM. was it good. It’s kinda like caramel, but I hate caramel. And I loved this. Honey caramel. I giant, almondy, bit o’ honey melted onto some bread.

What’s even better about this cake is the history. Well, questionable history. I read quite a few sources that say this cake’s name was founded in the 15th century after German raiders successfully conquered a neighboring village by flinging swarming beehives into the throng. I like to think that they were vikings. Honey-crazed vikings.

It’s probably myth, but for the sake of this cake (and for it’s devious tastiness) let’s say that it’s true. I mean, the cake itself is practically a battle in and of itself. This cake took me almost four hours to make. In Francisco-time, that’s two episodes of Freaks and Geeks, and then my library discovery for the day, The Harvey Girls, which, sidenote, is the gayest movie I’ve ever seen.

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the most photogenic cake in the world.

I’ve altered our lady Deb’s recipe just a bit. Copied and pasted almost exactly* from the Smitten Kitchen recipe.

Cake
2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 1/4-ounce package) instant yeast (not active dry) (also sold as rapid rise or bread machine yeast)
3/4 cup whole milk, ideally at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Honey-Almond-Crunch Topping
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (4 3/4 ounces) sliced almonds
Two pinches of sea salt

Pastry Cream Filling
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch [updated]
2 pinches sea salt
3ish tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine

*I added more honey, duh.

Real quick note: I didn’t want to buy whole milk and then waste the rest, so I used skim milk and then bought a very tiny carton of heavy cream, adding 3 tablespoons of cream per 1 cup of milk. Easy!

CAKE: Combine all of the cake ingredients in a  bowl, stirring till it combined and battery, then stirring for two minutes more. In a stand mixer, you can mix this with the paddle attachment OR you can make like me and use a little elbow grease at low-medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes.

Get all the batter off of the sides of the bowl and then cover with plastic wrap to let rise for an hour. It won’t rise that much. Don’t get excited.

Meanwhile, we gotta make the honey crunchy yummy top. In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter, sugar, honey, cream and salt until the butter is melted. Bring to a simmer and let it boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture gets a hair darker and looks like some gaseous planet.

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it was like this.

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and then like this.

Then add the almonds. It’ll get real thick and candy-like but don’t sweat it. Set it aside to cool.

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Butter and flour a 8-inch round cake pan. I only had a 10 inch, which is why my cake is a little thin, but if you have something even smaller, go for it. Deflate the batter and then nudge it until it fills the bottom of the pan. Cover again with plastic wrap  and set aside for another 30 minutes.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Once the cake has finished its second rise (that little guy still won’t rise that much, but don’t worry, every dog has his day) you gotta put the almond crunchy stuff on the cake. It doesn’t really “spread” per se, because it’s thick like a melty granola bar. Me? I made like the 15th century viking raiders and used my hands to evenly plop the almond goop on top. If it’s super chunky and worrisome on top, know that everything is going to flatten out once it gets into the oven. It’s quite picturesque.

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Bake cake for 20 to 25 minutes, until top is bronzed and toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free. The caramel stuff will start to bubble and look super scary, but it settles and soaks as soon as the cake comes out of the oven, so don’t fret.

Transfer to a cooling rack and after it sits a bit, run a knife around the circumference to free it from its spring form clutches. Let it cool and yea, you’ll have to reassemble the cake a little bit. The almonds will no doubt fall off and goop and be weird but just tack ’em back on.

The pastry filling part deserves your full attention. It’s easy to mess up. Don’t try at multi-tasking by doing your whisking while watching the bar fight scene of The Harvey Girls on your laptop. I had to rewind it twice.

To make the pastry filling, which you might want to do while the dough is rising the second time, Warm milk in a medium saucepan. Slowly drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of honey into the milk and warm it. It is necessary to taste the milk & honey mixture. Pour into a small bowl or cup, and set aside. Do this next part quickly! You don’t want the milk to cool too much.

Rinse saucepan and off the heat, whisk the yolks and sugar together like an angry viking. Whisk in flour and salt. Drizzle in warm honey-milk a spoonful at a time, whisking indefinitely. Never stop whisking. You don’t want anything to curdle. Once you’ve add half of it, you can add the rest and return the saucepan to a medium-high heat until it bubble, then simmer for one to two minutes. During this part, I also added even more honey. Again, never stop whisking. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla extract.

Cool custard and cake completely before assembling the cake. I put the custard in the fridge.

Finally, assemble the cake by flipping it and dividing it in half, width-wise, with a serrated knife. Do this carefully.

Once both the cake and pastry cream are fully cooled, place the cake on a serving platter and divide it horizontally into two layers with a long serrated knife. Spread your custard all over the bottom, oo, mm, yea, baby. Then, put the bottom, back on the upside down top. Does that make sense? I assembled it this way because I wanted to move the top as little as possible. It’s very fragile and goopy and falling-apart-like. Then flip the cake over onto a serving platter.

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Enjoy this by yourself. Don’t share. Eat it with coffee. With milk. With honeyed coffee. With honeyed milk. With ANYTHING JUST EAT IT NOW.

Love,
Francisco, the Red Beard