Cardamom + Saffron Pots de Creme

with pistachio nuts on top

This dessert is a take on your more common vanilla pot de creme. It could easily be turned into a creme bruleé by burning some sugar on top. The cardamom and saffron add a unique flavor that is both delicious and unexpected.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups half + half
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3/4 tsp saffron strands
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped salted pistachios
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Heat half + half, vanilla, cardamom, and saffron in a saucepan over very low heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk yolks and sugar together until mixture turns pale yellow.
  4. While whisking, pour a ladle full of cream mixture into yolk mixture. Add this cream and yolk mixture into the rest of the cream in the saucepan and whisk for a couple minutes.
  5. Pour mixture into four individual sized ramekins and put them in a baking dish. Pour boiling water into baking dish until it reaches halfway up the sides of ramekins.
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until center is barely set. Chill, top with pistachios, then serve.

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Oregano Pork with Tzatziki

Roasted Pork with Onions

Delicious! I was hoping for the pork to be a texture closer to bbq pulled pork, but the big chunks of meat were still very tender. Next time I’m going to try roasting it at a lower temperature, maybe 300º F, for a bit longer. I served this with a Greek-style warm tomato and bean salad.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lb pork shoulder
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped oregano
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, shredded
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
1. Combine pork, vinegar, olive oil, onion, oregano, 2 cloves chopped garlic, salt, and pepper in a ziploc bag. Let marinate in fridge for at least an hour.
2. Preheat oven to 320º F. Pour contents of ziploc into a baking dish. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Roast for about 3 1/2 hours.
3. While pork is cooking, mix yogurt, cucumber, lemon, dill, 1 clove chopped garlic, and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl.
4. Fill warm pita pockets with roast pork, onions, and tzatziki.

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Whole Wheat Pita Bread

It’s a bit of a process to make, but warm, freshly baked pita bead is worth the effort! I was hoping for even fluffier pita, and am wondering if I should have rolled the dough out slightly thicker. Does it matter that the yeast I used was about a year old? Not sure. I filled the pita pockets with slow-roasted lamb and lots of tzatziki sauce. Stay posted for those recipes and pictures!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • Cornmeal for dusting baking sheets

1. In a mixing bowl, combine yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water. Let mixture bubble, about 4 minutes.

2. In a second bowl, stir flours together. Mix 1/2 cup of flour mixture into yeast mixture. Cover with saran wrap and let stand for 40 minutes, or until dough doubles in size.

3. Add remaining flour mixture, remaining water, oil, and salt to dough. Knead dough on floured surface for about 10 minutes. Place ball of dough in a greased bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.

4. Punch dough. Separate dough into 8 balls. On a floured surface, flatten each dough ball and roll disks out with a rolling pin until they are about the size of average pieces of pita bread.

5. Place rounds of dough onto baking sheets dusted with cornmeal. Cover dough loosely with kitchen towels and let sit for 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 500º F. Place dough directly on oven rack and bake for 2 minutes per side.

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Banana Cinnamon-Swirl Crumb Muffins


The more ripe the bananas, the better. If you don’t have any overripe bananas, you can roast them in a 350ºF oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the skin is dark brown. This will help bring out the intense and sweet banana flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown packed sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon swirl: mix 1/3 cup sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Streusel topping: mix 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter + 3/4 cup granulated sugar + 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, use an electric mixer to combine eggs, brown sugar, butter, bananas, and vanilla. Mix for about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix together.

2. Add batter to greased (12 large) muffin pan, but only fill about 1/3 way up. Distribute cinnamon swirl mixture over muffin batter in pan.Fill the muffin pan with the remaining batter.

3. Sprinkle crumbly streusel mixture over the top of each muffin. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350ºF.

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Sesame and Wasabi Brownies

 

Toasted Sesame + Wasabi Brownies

I came up with the idea of baking sesame and wasabi brownies after eating Vosges Black Pearl flavor chocolate, which has ginger, wasabi, and black sesame inside. Although I used 3 tbsp of wasabi powder, these brownies did not turn out spicy at all! Otherwise, they were nutty, chocolatey, and fudgy. I think that next time I make these, I’ll try using wasabi paste instead of powder.

Adapted from Karen DeMasco’s “The Craft of Baking”

Ingredients:

  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp wasabi powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven 375ºF.  Grease a square baking dish.

2. Mix butter and unsweetened chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan with 2-inches of simmering water. Stir frequently until melted. Turn off heat, but keep mixture warm by leaving bowl in saucepan.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and vanilla. In another bowl, sift flour, wasabi powder, and salt together. Pour warm chocolate into egg mixture and mix together. Pour flour mixture into wet ingredients and stir together until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and sesame seeds.

4. Pour into baking dish. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

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Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

Did you know there is no yeast in soda bread? Without any rising time, this Irish recipe is a quick and simple treat for St. Paddy’s Day! Slather with butter and enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Stir together sifted flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Using your hands, mix butter into flour mixture until mixture is crumbly. Add raisins. In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk and egg together. Add baking soda to buttermilk mixture. Mix buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until well combined. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased baking dish. Using a greased knife, make a large cross about 1/2 -inch deep on top of dough. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown.

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Lamb & Chicken Stew Over Couscous

This recipe makes an enormous quantity, so you may want to cut it in half. It takes a while to make, so I like to cook enough stew to last a few days. The dish is adapted from my step-grandmother’s recipe, the flavors of which come from her years living in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup, plus another 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 green zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow zucchini, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, cubed
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, sliced thickly
  • 2 rutabagas, peeled, chopped
  • 2 turnips, peeled, chopped
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 quart beef broth
  • 1 chicken, cut up
  • 3 lbs lamb shoulder or shank, cubed
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed, strained
  • 1/2 tsp, plus 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 1/2 tsp, plus 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/4 tsp, plus 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups couscous
  • 1/4 tsp salt

1. In a large pot over medium heat, saute onion, tomato, zucchinis, carrots, butternut squash, cabbage, rutabagas, and turnips in olive oil and 1/4 cup butter for about 10 minutes. Vegetables should be roughly chopped, about 1-inch square.

2. Add broth, meat, chickpeas, 1/2 tsp saffron, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp black pepper, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves and cook with cover over medium-low heat for about 1 and 1/2 hours, or until meat and vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaves, any large bones, and extra skin from chicken.

3. Cook couscous according to package instructions, but add remaining herbs and salt to the water. When couscous is finished cooking, add 1/4 cup butter and fluff with a fork.

4. To serve, ladle stew over couscous in large serving platter or in individual bowls.

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