Candied Orange and Honey Walnut Mini Pound Cakes
She unlocks her front door, kicks and stretches her way out of her work clothes and bra, throws on yoga pants and a tank and stumbles barefoot into the kitchen.
A bad day, she knows, requires a balm – one made from the holy trinity of butter, sugar and flour…something quick, that doesn’t require a cookbook, that’s single-girl serving sized. Something to soothe.
She’s perfected just that sort of recipe. She calls it her personal pound cake – It’s 1/8th of a standard recipe, just enough for one person; enough to palliate without overdosing. One bowl and five ingredients comprise the basic cake; the perfect canvas for improvisation. From there, she can add berries, almonds or lemon zest. She can soak it in rose syrup or blanket it with cream cheese frosting. She can use it as a base for scoops of chocolate ice-cream or warm peach compote – personalizing it to target whatever ails her.
Tonight, and more nights than she’d like to admit, this is her medicine. Others mix up a drink, she whisks up one of these.
Personal Pound Cake
This recipe requires a 3”x5” mini loaf pan. I use the disposable aluminum ones available at most grocery stores for quick clean up. A kitchen scale makes quick work of measuring ingredients. The trick with this recipe is to personalize it with your favorite add-ins.
- 2 oz. (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 oz. sugar
- 1 large egg
- pinch salt
- 2 oz. flour
- add-ins of your choice
- Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Whisk together butter and sugar (If your butter isn’t softened and you’re impatient, soften it in the microwave, keeping a close eye on it so it doesn’t melt).
- Whisk in egg and salt. (I add a pinch of flour at this point to help avoid separation that can happen when adding egg to butter).
- Stir in flour. Add your flavors of choice and spoon into loaf pan (no pan greasing or flouring required).
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan, slice and indulge.
In a small pan over medium-high heat, combine 4 Tablespoons of chopped walnuts
and 2 Tablespoons honey
. Cook until nuts are toasted and honey is thick and bubbly. Cool and add to batter.
Candied Orange Variation:
At the time you add the egg , add 1 Tablespoon Orange Flower Water
. After stirring in the flour, stir in 2 Tablespoons chopped candied orange peel
I forgot how exhausting it is to be a member of the gainfully employed. I barely survived my first week. If you asked me to recall the high point and low point, I’d say the high point was discovering the twice-weekly lunchtime yoga class in the California sunshine. Sign me up. The low point was waking up in the wee hours at 6:00 a.m. Just one short week ago, I was falling asleep about that time.
I’ve tried to soften my 6:00 a.m. blues by pampering myself each morning with a cardamom-rose latte (my new favorite) and a warm, freshly baked treat, like these remarkably moist banana cherry muffins. They help, but I still miss the warmth of my 6:00 a.m. bed.
Best Banana Cherry Muffins
These exceptionally moist and flavorful muffins were adapted from my favorite banana bread recipe.
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup almond flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup canola oil
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg plus 1 yolk
- ½ cup chopped walnuts, plus more for topping
- ½ cup chopped fresh or frozen and drained cherries, plus 3 more for topping
- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, egg, and yolk. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just blended. Fold in walnuts, cherries and bananas.
- Spoon batter into muffin cups. Top with a quartered cherry and chopped walnuts. Bake 25-30 minutes until muffins are brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool and enjoy.
It’s late Sunday morning and fifteen of us are huddled on the street corner, cameras in hand like a gaggle of paparazzi waiting to catch a celebrity’s morning-after walk of shame. Except this isn’t Hollywood – and we’re not professionals.
This is California Center for Digital Arts and we’re practicing shutter speed priority photography – stop action, blurred action, panning. I learned this long ago – so very long ago – in the days of film and chemical processing and my trusty Canon AE-1. We’re standing on a street corner simply shooting random cars and bicycles passing by.
I’m going back to photography basics because, frankly, I’m bored with the photos I’m churning out these days – and the work of most other amateur food photographers as well. I’m having trouble finding the soul in the ubiquitous bright, side-lit, flat-laid, slightly blown out (IMHO), Foodgawker-esque photographs most amateur food photographers (including me) produce –insipid images devoid of soul.
My food photos may not get better. What I’m currently churning out may be my limit, but the class made me happy, made me remember, just for a few hours, to look at the world with a photographer’s eye.
Did it help? If this photo above is any indication, then, no, it didn’t – same bright, side-lit, flat lay, lackluster nonsense. The pork loins, conversely, were divine – flavorful and mouthwateringly succulent.
This flavorful, garlicy-citrus mojo acts as a marinade and a sauce.
- 6 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons whole cumin
- 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
- zest from one orange
- zest from one lime
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- ¾ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ bunch cilantro
- 2 pork tenderloins
- In a blender, puree all ingredients except pork. Transfer a half cup of sauce into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate.
- Place pork tenderloins in a dish and cover with remaining mojo sauce. Cover dish and refrigerate at least 8 hours up to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a bit of oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Remove pork from marinade, scraping off excess. Add pork to skillet and sear until well browned on all sides. Transfer skillet with pork to oven. Roast until meat registers 145 degrees F. Remove pork from skillet, tent with foil and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Warm reserved mojo sauce in the microwave. Cut pork crosswise in ½ inch slices, drizzle with warmed mojo sauce and serve.
Sigh. It’s the end of 8 ½ months of doing (or not doing) whatever in the hell I want. Every. Single. Day. I do admit it’s been lovely. There’ll be no more daily sleeping until noon, alfresco reading of the news and drinking bottomless cappuccinos before leisurely mid-day bike rides. No more museum visits and beach days and hours spent endlessly cooking in my pj’s. My sabbatical has ended and, today, I’m once again joining the working class. While the company will be a new one, my coworkers, for the most part, will be old friends from my previous job – if one must work for a living, one truly couldn’t ask for a better situation. I really do admire and respect these people. My dreams of being an Innkeeper are not forgotten, just postponed. The search for my dream property has been tougher than expected. I’m convinced it will happen when the time is right.
With an 8-5 schedule, and little time to bake just around the corner, this weekend I decided to belly-up to my stove and make a batch of cookies as a thank you to those friends who have helped me during my 8 month much-needed break. As could be expected from my track record, the first batch made it into my belly rather than their doorsteps – requiring a second batch that were packaged and delivered as intended.
Here’s to beginning my next chapter – and a growing belly that didn’t think it came quick enough.
Chocolate Dulce de Leche Viennese Whirls
These cookies were inspired by two of my favorite cookie recipes – these Viennese whirls
and these chocolately dulce de leche bar cookies
Chocolate dulce de leche ganache
- 6 oz. dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)
- 6 oz. heavy whipping cream
- 12 oz. dulce de leche
- 9 oz. unsalted butter, very soft (not European style)
- 1 ¾ oz. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- ⅛ teaspoon table salt (not kosher salt)
- 8 oz. all-purpose flour
- 1 oz. cornstarch
- Make ganache: Place the chocolate and heavy whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted (60-90 seconds). Add dulce de leche and stir until completely combined and smooth. Cover and refrigerate until spreadable consistency, about 90 minutes.
- Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 375F. Line 3 baking sheets with baking parchment. Using a 2” round cutter as a guide, draw 8 circles on each sheet of paper, spaced well apart. Turn the paper over so the pencil marks are underneath.
- Beat the butter, confectioner’s sugar and salt in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornstarch and beat until thoroughly mixed. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle. Pipe 24 swirled rounds (not rosettes), inside the circles on the baking sheets. Refrigerate cookies for 15 minutes before baking (this will help cookies retain their shape).
- Bake in the center of the oven for 13—15 minutes, until pale golden-brown. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Assemble: Pipe a layer of ganache onto the flat side of 12 of the cookies and sandwich with the remaining cookies. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Enjoy!.
Introverted, homebody me launched a book club last month. Can you believe it? Rather uncharacteristic, but I’d been considering joining one for a while and couldn’t find any existing one that I liked. With a burst of initiative, I thought, “What the hell,” and decided to create the kind of book club I’d want to join. And, with that, “Literature and Libations” was born. We already have 60 members.
An unexpected side benefit of my book club is that on a grey and chilly day like today, I’m justified in brewing a cup of tea, cutting a big slice of this cardamom rose cake, and curling up with a book for the day, assuring myself that rather than being lazy, I’m industriously handling “club business.”
Now, if I can just find a way to justify my afternoon naps. This month, we’re reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
Cardamom-Rose Scented Almond Cake
My local coffee house serves a delicately flavored, slightly sweet cardamom-rose latte that I adore. I’ve captured its exotic flavor in this simple cake, inspired by this recipe
- 1 cup almond flour
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon (scant) salt
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar, plus more for pan
- ½ cup mild olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons rose water
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, browned and slightly cooled
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. lightly grease a 10” cast iron skillet and dust with sugar, knocking out excess. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together until very thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Combine olive oil and rose water and slowly drizzle into the egg mixture, continuing to whisk as you go. Once combined, reduce speed to low and drizzle in the browned butter. Once combined, gently fold in the dry ingredients, taking care not to deflate the batter. Pour batter into the cast iron skillet.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Let the cake cool. Serve slices slightly warm or room temperature.