Batter Licker

April 5, 2010

strawberry (and chocolate chip!) buttermilk muffin-cake

Filed under: breakfast, brunch,cake,dessert,fruit — Tags: , , , — Kristen @ 8:17 pm

Ripe, fresh farmers market strawberries. Dark chocolate chips. Basic, not-too-sweet buttermilk muffin batter. Put them all together and voilà! You’ve got cake (or a muffin, if you choose that pan) that’s perfectly appropriate for a breakfast or brunch. And did I mention that it’s pretty?

Because it is. Beautiful, in fact. Generally, I’m a taste-over-form kind of gal, but this cake gives me both. And look at these pictures … how amazing would this cake look on your brunch table? It’s a showstopper, that’s for sure. And with the beautiful, deep red strawberry slices on a rounded, slightly browned muffin-like top that, if you so choose, is freckled with delightfully dark chocolate chips, this brunch beauty has me looking forward to summer. Except that this summer brings nonjoyous, uncakelike things, such as full time enrollment in Barbri and the California bar exam. So really, this strawberried treat is allowing me to pretend it’s summer now and enjoy the last month and a half surrounded by bright, juicy berries dancing on a fluffy, doughy hilltop.

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But I don’t just like this cake for its beautiful color, summerly aura, and carefree personality. I also like it for the jam flavor. (more…)

April 2, 2010

super-moist banana bread with cinnamon-walnut-brown sugar topping

Filed under: cake,dessert,fruit — Tags: , , , , — Kristen @ 6:35 pm

Dear Mushy Brown Bananas,
I’ll be frank. I really don’t like you. From your squishy slimy texture to your sickly sweet stench, just looking at you makes me wretch. You have to admit that you’ve seen better days – you know, back when you were green and hard and chilled and preferably consumed in a smoothie containing berries, kale and almond milk. But those times passed exceedingly fast, as you faded to yellow and then to a spotty brown, and your once-perky flesh declined into a bruised smush. And then, just as I was ready to drop you into the compost can with one hand while pinching my nose with the other, something amazing happened.

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Your smooshy self secretly conspired with brown sugar, cinnamon, olive oil, flour and a handful of other baking goodies, and together you launched a coup d’état against the forced retirement of icky brown bananas. The group of you took control of the kitchen, coming together in a harmonious, moist, dense little loaf that I immediately found irresistible.

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So here it is, Mushy Brown Banana: you win. (more…)

March 7, 2010

The Olive Press cooking competition: 4 extra virgin olive oils, 4 extra vivacious courses

It’s finally that time. Time for me to unveil the results of a few excited weeks of learning about olive oils of various intensity and brainstorming fun ways to use them, all while recovering from a nasty accident involving an immersion blender and an index finger (but I won’t go into that, except to say that I eventually became remarkably adept at nine-fingered typing, shampooing, and cooking). So when The Olive Press invited me to partake in their cooking competition (please vote HERE), I was incredibly thrilled about the opportunity to experiment with the Sonoma, California-based company’s award-winning oils. The Olive Press sent me four different bottles of their extra virgin olive oils – Arbequina, Mission, Italian Blend, and Blood Orange – and challenged me to create a four-course meal using one of the oils in each course. Drum roll please …

Appetizer: Roasted Tomato and Garlic, Kalamata Olive, and Feta Bruschetta, featuring the robust Italian Blend olive oil.

Any time there’s an excuse to do so, I love coming up with different versions of bruschetta. Yes, it’s a relatively simple appetizer, featuring just a handful of complementary, fresh ingredients that can easily be adapted to use whatever you have on hand. But when done right, each bite packs so much flavor and texture. And crunch. (There’s something infinitely more satisfying (to me) when a dish comes with a little bit of crunch, probably because I consistently deprive myself of those pre-made, boxed-up salty snacks that others inconsiderately munch on during my Commercial Contract Writing class.)

For this version of bruschetta, I went a Mediterranean route because the intense flavors of the roasted tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and feta stood up to and were well-complemented by the incredibly robust (dare I say spicy?) Italian Blend olive oil.

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Main Course: Walnut-Crusted Halibut with Roasted Red Pepper Harissa, featuring Blood Orange olive oil.

This dish is near perfection. The halibut is enhanced but not overpowered by the relatively mild Blood Orange olive oil. Both the walnuts and the panko give the fish’s crust a nice crunchy texture, and the walnuts add a rich, buttery flavor while still keeping the dish healthy. (more…)

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