Stewed Peppers with Tomatoes, Onions & Garlic

Stewed Peppers with Tomatoes, Onions & Garlic

Back when I first started blogging, I would photograph and post whatever I happened to have made for dinner that night. There was no planning posts ahead of time, no thought as to what “it” ingredients to use in my posts, no blogging schedule (which, obviously, is something I’m still horrible about). And while elaborate perfect-for-blogging recipes is fun, sometimes it’s the simple recipes that I really want to tell people about. The foods that I make regularly, and (I’m guessing) the things that my readers are probably a lot more likely to make for themselves.

Stewed Peppers with Tomatoes, Onions & Garlic

These peppers are an example of that. I’ve been making these regularly for several years now, and the whole family loves them. In fact, I may have to start doubling this recipe, because every time I make them everyone wants seconds! I usually serve this with some really good bread (usually homemade), alongside a frittata or scrambled eggs for a simple but delicious dinner.

Stewed Peppers with Tomatoes, Onions & Garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 large red bell peppers, thinly sliced

Salt

1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, partially drained

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring every now and then, until tender (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and bell peppers, and cook for another 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook 5 minutes more, until the peppers are tender.

2. Add the tomatoes and thyme to the pan, and season with some salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Makes 6 servings

Adapted from The Very Best of Recipes for Health, by Martha Rose Shulman

Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Cheesecake Filling & Coffee Frosting {For Tova’s 3rd Birthday}

Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Cheesecake Filling & Coffee Frosting

Tova’s been a little obsessed with chocolate chips lately, so when I asked her what kind of cake she wanted me to make for her birthday, of course she said she wanted a chocolate chip cake. I was excited when she said that, because: a) I love chocolate chips, too, and b) I’d get a chance to try a cake from Milk Bar that I hadn’t made yet (yes, these are things I get excited about!).

The recipe for the chocolate chip layer cake in Milk Bar is filled with a passion fruit curd, but I thought that was something that a 3-year-old probably wouldn’t appreciate, so I used the same liquid cheesecake filling that was used in the carrot cake that I made for my birthday last year, and I thought it was great in this cake. Although, really— is there anywhere that liquid cheesecake wouldn’t be great?

Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Cheesecake Filling & Coffee Frosting

Tova also requested pink sprinkles on her cake, so I created a sprinkle butterfly on top of the cake, using a cookie cutter, filling the bottom with sprinkles, and then lightly pressing down on the sprinkles so that they stick to the frosting before removing the cutter (I used a toothpick to gently press down in the sprinkles that my fingers couldn’t reach in the tight spots of the cutter). Chaim wanted to know why everything I make is always butterfly shaped. Well, because I don’t have very many cookie cutters! I have a set of butterfly cutters, and a heart-shaped cutter, and that’s pretty much it (aside from some circle/fluted ones). I asked Tova if she wanted a butterfly or a heart, and she chose the butterfly. She loved watching me assemble this thing (and eating the cake scraps, of course!), and she was thrilled with her cake.

 

Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Cheesecake Filling & Coffee Frosting

Notes: Unlike the rest of the components of this cake, the coffee frosting MUST be made just before assembling the cake. Everything else can be made ahead of time.

You can see photos for assembling a Milk Bar cake at the bottom of THIS post.

Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Cheesecake Filling and Coffee Frosting

Chocolate Crumb

(You will only need half of this recipe for the cake, but the extras are great for munching on!)

105 g (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour

4 g (1 teaspoon) cornstarch

100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar

65 g (2/3 cup) dark cocoa powder

4 g (1 teaspoon) kosher salt

85 g (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until combined.

3. Add the butter, and mix on low speed until you get small clusters.

4. Spread onto the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, occasionally breaking the clusters up with a spatula or wooden spoon.

5. Let the crumbs cool completely (they will dry and harden as they cool). If not using right away, you can store these in an airtight container or bag for a week at room temperature or a month in the fridge or freezer.

Makes 2 1/2 cups

Liquid Cheesecake

225 g (8 ounces) cream cheese

150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar

6 g (1 tablespoon) cornstarch

2 g (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt

25 g (2 tablespoons) whole milk

1 large egg

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar is completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream. Whisk in the egg until everything is thoroughly combined.

4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg mixture. Paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. Line the bottom and sides of a 6″x6″ baking pan with plastic wrap (I used a 6″ round Pyrex, and had to bake it a bit longer, but it worked fine). Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firmer and more set at the edges, but still jiggly and loose in the center. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, cake for 5 minute intervals until it is done. If the cheesecake rises more than 1/4 inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately. Cool completely before using.

The cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Makes about 325 g ( 1 1/2 cups)

Chocolate Chip Cake

115 g (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

250 g ( 1 1/4 cups) granulated sugar

60 g (1/4 cup, tightly packed) light brown sugar

3 large eggs

110 g (1/2 cup) buttermilk

75 g (1/2 cup) grapeseed oil

12 g (1 tablespoon) pure vanilla extract

185 g (1 1/2 cups) cake flour

4 g (1 teaspoon) baking powder

4 g (1 teaspoon) kosher salt

150 g (3/4 cup) mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a quarter-sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray, and line the pan with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat on medium-high for another 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. With the mixer on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Turn the speed up to medium-high, and beat for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is very pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix on very low speed for about a minute, until the dry ingredients have just been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and if you see any flour that hasn’t been mixed in, mix for another 45 seconds.

5. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chip evenly over the top.

6. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the center of the cake is no longer jiggling and the edge of the cake bounces back slightly if you gently poke it with your finger.

7. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

The cake can be kept, tightly wrapped in plastic, in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Makes 1 quarter sheet cake

Coffee Frosting

(As mentioned above, this frosting must be made just before assembling the cake!)

115 g (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

40 g (1/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar

55 g (1/4 cup) whole milk

1.5 g (3/4 teaspoon) instant coffee powder

1 g (1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, instant coffee, and salt.

3. Scrape down the sided of the mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on low speed, and add a very tiny bit of the coffee mixture. You need to add the coffee mixture in very little at a time, because you are forcing the liquid to combine with the fat. Once the first bit is completely incorporated, add a tiny bit more of the coffee mixture and mix until incorporated. Keep doing this until all the coffee mixture is incorporated into the butter. I found that after each addition, if I beat it low for a bit, and then turned the mixer up for a bit, it incorporated a little easier. This frosting does take a little while to make, so just try to be patient—you can’t rush it!

Use immediately.

Makes about 22 g (1 cup)

Assembling the Chocolate Chip Layer Cake

1 recipe Chocolate Chip Cake (above)

About 1/4 cup whole milk

1 recipe Liquid Cheesecake (above)

1/2 recipe Chocolate Crumb

1 recipe Coffee Frosting (above)

1 6-inch cake ring

2 (3″ by 20″) acetate strips

1. Put a piece of parchment on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment. (If the cake is stuck to the sides of the pan, go around the edge of the pan with a knife to loosen it.) Use the cake ring to cut out 2 circles from the cake, as if you were using a giant cookie cutter. These will be your two cake layers. The bottom cake layer will be made from the remaining scraps.

2. Clean the cake ring and place it on a clean piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan or cutting board. Line the inside of the cake ring with one acetate strip.

3. Put the cake scraps into the ring, and use the back of your hand to push the scraps into an even layer.

4. Using a pastry brush, apply a nice soaking of milk to the top of the cake layer (not too much, or it can leak out of the bottom of the cake!).

5. Using a spoon, spread half of the liquid cheesecake over the cake.

6. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the chocolate, and use your fingers to pat them in place.

7. Use a spoon to spread 1/3 of the coffee frosting over the chocolate crumbs. It’s a little hard to spread this over the cheesecake and crumbs, put just dollop it on and spread as best as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

8. With your index finger, gently tuck the second acetate strip between the cake ring and the top 1/4 of the first strip, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall. Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for the first layer—milk, the rest of the liquid cheesecake, half of the remaining chocolate crumbs, and half of the remaining frosting.

9. Top with the remaining cake round, and cover with the last of the frosting. Sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate crumbs.

10. Cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the freezer. Freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake can remain frozen like this for up to 2 weeks.

11. At least 3 hours before you want to serve the cake, remove the cake from the freezer. Using your fingers and thumbs (pushing on the bottom of the cake to push it up), pop the cake out of the cake ring. gently peel off the acetate strips, and transfer the cake to a cake stand or serving platter. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours.

The cake can be kept in the fridge, wrapped well in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

Makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake

Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar, by Christina Tosi

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar & Lemon

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za'atar & Lemon

Soon I’m going to be posting the cake that I made for Tova’s birthday, but I wanted to get at least one non-dessert recipe up so I don’t have two birthday cake posts back-to-back.

I’ve been horrible about blogging regularly lately, and I’m so sorry about that! I miss it, but for some reason I just haven’t been feeling very inspired lately. I’m hoping that with the longer days, and the spring/summer produce that’s coming into season, I’ll get back into it and start posting more often.

In the meantime I’d like to share this recipe I made a few weeks back, which was absolutely delicious, and made the house smell wonderful.

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za'atar & Lemon

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar & Lemon

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

2 red onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon sumac

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Scant cup chicken stock or water

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons za’atar

4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. In a large bowl or gallon-sized ziptop bag, combine the chicken, onions, garlic, olive oil, allspice, cinnamon, sumac, lemon, stock or water, salt, and pepper. Cover or seal, and marinate in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the chicken skin side up on a large sheet pan, making sure that the chicken pieces are laying flat and are spaced well apart from each other. Add the rest of the ingredients from the bowl/bag in between the chicken pieces, ans sprinkle everything with the za’atar. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

3. Transfer everything to a serving plate, sprinkle with the parsley, and drizzle with olive oil. You can also sprinkle with additional za’atar and/or sumac, if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Fluffernutter Cake {For Ella’s 11th Birthday}

Fluffernutter Cake

Before I get to the cake I just have to say that it is INSANE that it’s already been 11 years since Ella was born! I mean, where does time go? She was just a little girl, and now she’s in the middle of her last year of elementary school. Crazy.

Yep, I’m definitely feeling older now. Sigh.

P1010230Fluffernutter Cake

Onto the cake:

After two years of super rich chocolate cakes, Ella chose something much simpler this year. Simpler, but no less delicious. When Ella was little, she loved fluffernutter sandwiches, and when I suggested this cake she thought it was a brilliant idea. Layers of moist (sorry—I know many people can’t stand that word, but there’s no better way to describe this cake) peanut butter cake, filled and topped with a creamy marshmallow meringue frosting.

Fluffernutter Cake

Peanut Butter Layers:

6 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whole milk, at room temperature

1/2 cup (120 ml) grapeseed oil (or any neutral-flavored oil)

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

4 1/2 cups (675 g) all-purpose flour

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups (340 g) granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups packed (340 g) light brown sugar

3/4 cup (175 g) unsalted butter, softened

About 1 cup (225 g) smooth peanut butter

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottom with rounds of parchment paper, grease again, and dust with flour, tapping out any excess. I used baking spray with flour already in it, to make it a little easier.

2. Whisk the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla together in a medium bowl, until well combined.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and both sugar on low speed for about a minute, to get it all mixed together evenly. Add the butter and peanut butter, and mix on medium speed until the mixture is crumbly.

4. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture, and beat on medium speed for a couple of minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add another 1/3 of the milk mixture, and mix well. Scrape the bowl down again, and the remaining milk mixture, and mix well, until smooth and creamy. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared pans (a kitchen scale works great for that!)

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers of the cakes comes out clean, and the top of the cakes springs back when lightly poked, about 50-55 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn the layers out onto a rack to cool completely.

Marshmallow Meringue:

2 cups (450 g) granulated sugar

6 large egg whites

Pinch of kosher salt

1. Combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Whisk constantly until the mixture is frothy and hot to the touch, about 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer, and using the whisk attachment, beat on high until it’s thick, shiny, and bright white, and the bowl is cool to the touch. This can take 10 minutes or more.

Assembling the Cake:

If your cake layers are domed (mine were), use a serrated knife to even out the tops (the scarps are great to snack on!). Cut each cake in half horizontally, as evenly as possible. Spread a little bit of frosting onto a serving plate or cake stand. Top with a layer of cake. Add some of the frosting onto the cake layer, spreading with a small offset spatula just to the edges of the cake. Repeat with the rest of the cake layers and frosting, ending with the frosting.

And that’s it! It’s such a quick and simple way to frost a cake, but it looks so pretty.

Adapted from Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple, by David Muniz and David Lesniak

Vanilla Meringue & Blood Orange Ice Cream Sandwiches

Vanilla Meringue & Blood Orange Ice Cream Sandwiches

It was right around this time last year that I made Blood Orange Sorbet in a Chocolate Shell. Well, blood oranges are back in season, and I just could not resist buying two big bags full when I came across them last week. When I unloaded them I realized that there were a ton of them, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them all. I mean, yeah, we could snack on them. But I’m a food blogger—I wanted to make something with some of them!

After a quick search, I found a recipe for blood orange ice cream. It’s a slightly lower fat recipe since it has no heavy cream in it, just whole milk and egg yolks (both of which I had in the house). I’m not going to lie, it’s not quite as rich and creamy as regular ice cream, but it was still delicious.

I then used the leftover egg whites to make some vanilla meringue cookies, and sandwiched the ice cream in between them.

Vanilla Meringue & Blood Orange Ice Cream Sandwiches

Vanilla Meringue & Blood Orange Ice Cream Sandwiches

For the Blood Orange Ice Cream:

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 vanilla bean, split open

Generous pinch of salt

2 tablespoons blood orange zest

4 large eggs yolks (reserve the egg whites for the meringues)

1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice

For the Vanilla Meringue Cookies:

4 large egg whites

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Make the ice cream:

1. Combine the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the vanilla bean, salt, and orange zest in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, and then remove from the heat.

2. In a bowl, beat together the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Slowly ladle some of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly (you wan to warm up the egg yolks, so that when you add them to the hot milk you don’t end up with scrambled eggs). Add the egg yolk mixture into the pot with the milk, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

3. Strain the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool. Stir in the blood orange juice, cover, and place in the fridge until very cold.

4. Process according to your ice cream maker’s directions. transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm.

Make the Meringues:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Trace 12 3-inch circles onto parchment paper with a pencil, flip the parchment over so that the pencil circles are on the bottom, and place on a sheet pan.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a handheld mixer, or, if you’re feeling  brave, by hand with a whisk), beat the egg whites until they’re foamy. With the mixer in medium-high, beat in the vinegar and salt. Keep on beating until you get soft peaks (when you lift the whisk out of the egg whites, a peak will form but won’t hold it’s shape). At this point you want to start adding the sugar. Add it slowly, about 1 tablespoon at a time, to allow the sugar to fully dissolve into the eggs. Beat on high speed, until the whites are stiff and shiny. Add the vanilla, then sprinkle the cornstarch over, and beat just until incorporated.

3. Pipe or spread your meringue mixture onto the parchment-lined sheet pan, using the circles as a template. You may have extra meringue, which you can pipe onto another parchment-lined sheet pan, for extra cookies to snack on.

4. Place in the oven, and immediately turn the heat down to 300°F. Bake for 30 minutes, and then shut the oven off. Leave the sheet pan(s) in the oven to allow the meringues to completely dry out, several hours at least.

5. Remove from the oven. When the meringues are completely cool, gently remove them from the parchment paper. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (or freeze for up to a month).

Assembly:

Remove the ice cream from the freezer to soften a bit. Spoon or spread some onto 6 of the meringues. Do this very gently, because meringues can be very fragile! Top each one with another meringue. Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap, and freeze. Remove the sandwiches from the freezer a few minutes before you want to eat them, just so the ice cream is not too hard to bite into (I like it best when it’s just starting to soften).

Makes 12 sandwiches

Ice cream recipe from Pictures and Pancakes

Meringues adapted from Meringue, by Linda K. Jackson & Jennifer Evans Gardner