Breakfast, Dessert, Spring

STRAWBERRY + RHUBARB YOGURT CAKE

My oven currently smells like it's burning off oil that had dripped to the bottom at some point. I should clean it; it really does interrupt the beautiful waft that comes from a springy cake in the oven. I have a handful of prospective projects I am back and forth about between two email addresses that while made with good intentions to keep personal and work separate, have done no such thing. There are threads regarding a potential cookbook, a recipe and article assignment about avocados, a menu card for our fundraiser dinner and open items to finish filing our taxes. Woven in between are emails about Curran's first (overdue apparently, oops) dentist appointment, follow up on invoices and the receipt for that weird oversized shirt I ordered from Nordstrom that I keep there to remind myself to return it some night after the kids are down. I never feel like doing that once the kids are down... but I also don't like going to the mall with two spirited toddlers so you may find me in a terribly unflattering oversized shirt. Anyway. I get stuck on writing here because the balls I am trying to keep in the air follow no apparent rhyme or reason or lessons learned. It feels like a simple yogurt cake on top of the stove is a constant to a life that seems to be buzzing by faster than I can keep up with. The fruit shrinks in after some time in the oven, and because fruit has a lot of water in it, the result is almost custardy which I don't mind at all once it cools. The jammy fruit and cake batter are almost tough to distinguish. It works for breakfast or an incentive for a moderately potty trained little boy or something to bring along on a date with my nieces. There is no frosting or chocolate or decadence really, it's an everyday sort of cake and the only kind that feels right to make around here lately. 

STRAWBERRY + RHUBARB YOGURT CAKE // one 8" cake
Recipe adapted from Sarah Waldmans Feeding a Family

I swapped in half strawberries for Sarah's exclusively rhubarb cake because I love the combination and my wee people are fans. I also cut down on the sugar slightly from her suggestion and found it to be plenty sweet. If you don't stock spelt flour, completely all purpose is fine, the texture would probably be better, I just like to sneak some whole grains in there.
You can make this dairy free by replacing the yogurt for a plant based yogurt and the butter for a scant 1/2 cup of coconut oil. It's a pretty forgiving cake. 

3/4 cup full fat yogurt
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup/1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. grated gingerroot (or twice as much crystallized ginger pieces)
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup spelt flour (or more unbleached all purpose)
1 cup muscavado or brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup 1" diced rhubarb
1 cup diced strawberries

turbinado sugar, for finishing
creme fraiche, yogurt or ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350' and grease an 8" pan (square, springform, cakepan etc.).

In one mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, butter, vanilla and ginger. Set aside. 
In another mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt, baking soda and stir to mix. Mix the fruit into the dry mix (this helps to keep the fruit from sinking) then gently combine the wet and dry mix together. 
Pour the mix into your prepared pan and generously sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar.
Bake on the middle rack for around 45-50 minutes until the cake is browned on top and a toothpick test shows that the center is cooked through.
Remove to cool so the cake sets. Serve with creme fraiche, yogurt or ice cream.
Cake will keep covered on the counter for two days, beyond that, store it in the fridge as it has a lot of moisture to it. 



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FEEDING BABIES: BROCCOLI BALLS

Per request, I am including a recipe for these broccoli balls I've been making for the kids. I love hearing that you guys actually make the things in this series and find it helpful. I know this kind of stuff is for a niche handful of you, but I get a lot of messages for these posts so I hope it's a another tool for getting a few more servings of vegetables into your kids. I think I've mentioned before that neither of my kids are ones to go after a crudite platter, so I have to get creative. Veggie burgers and balls and vegetables packed into frittatas or smoothies are my best bet. Cleo (1) can't use a utensil and Curran (almost 3) prefers not to anyway, so anything I can make hand-held is best for everyone. These nuggets have become my answer to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in a rush because they have protein, fat, veggies, carbs. Think frittata with extra broccoli. They can be whatever you need them to be. Even if you don't have kids, I still think these are an awesome. 

Broccoli Balls // Makes 20

These are pretty flexible and you can make modifications based on any allergies. Can't have eggs? Add in a small mashed sweet potato and double the panko. No gluten? Sub in some coarse ground oats but you'll need that cheese and egg to help bind them. No dairy? Add a drizzle of olive oil, and grind in a handful of walnuts when you pulse the broccoli so they have some fat in there. They can take a bit of cooked quinoa or rice if you're looking to bulk them up too. 

3 crowns of broccoli (a generous 1 lb. of florets)
2 cloves garlic
sea salt and pepper

3 eggs
1 cup grated cheese (mexican blend, white cheddar, fontina etc.)
2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Cut up the broccoli into large chunks, some stem is ok, and steam it for 2-3 minutes. It should start to turn bright green but still have it's crunch. Let it cool completely. 
Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray or rub a little olive or coconut oil.
Into a food processor, whiz up the garlic and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Add the cooled broccoli and pulse until it's in rice like pieces. Not pureed, but something small enough to roll into balls. 
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together. Add the broccoli bits, grated cheese, parmesan and panko and stir to combine. It should loosely stick together. Add a sprinkle of panko if they need more "glue". 
Roll balls with a scant 2 Tbsp. of the mixture. Place them on the lined baking sheet and bake them for 10-12 minutes in the upper third of the oven. They should still be slightly tender when you pull them out. 
Like any reasonable mother would do, I give them to my kids with ketchup because it's a novelty but they really don't need anything. 



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Gluten Free, Entrée

SPICED CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH WALNUT SAUCE

More cauliflower! Oops. But I do love it and it didn't cross my mind we had cauliflower on here for the last post as I was thumbing through Laura's new book. I have dozens of recipes bookmarked but I am looking for new veg mains in our rotation lately and this one popped out at me. I was shocked at how short the ingredient list was and how quickly it came together given how beautiful it looked. I'm an easy sell on pretty food. Especially quick, pretty food. Next up is her homemade coconut creamer with dates, a warm balsamic mushroom salad, and a second round of those brownies I made months ago when I first saw the pdf draft of this book.

I've been a long time fan of Laura's, both for her easy going disposition and plant-based food that is magically wholesome, creative, all while still being something you can whip up easily for dinner. I don't always see those things going hand in hand but she is extremely good at what she does. She's responsible for the arugula cashew sauce I've made three times already that goes on pretty much everything. I like vegan food and an ice cream sundae all in the same breath, so a book that doesn't feel lacking is a keeper. You'll have to flip through a copy yourself or better yet, add it to your collection. Clearly forever a First Mess fangirl. Congrats, Laura!

SPICED CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH WALNUT SAUCE // Serves 2
Recipe from The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright

I am putting Laura's recipe here verbatim. The only thing I did different was up the garlic and lemon a bit and added a pinch of cayenne to the spice blend for heat. Those are personal preferences. The recipe is so concise you can add here to taste. This serves two well after roasting the extra bits of cauliflower. You could easily double it if you have a large enough pan or even do it in shifts and keep the cauliflower warm. 

Walnut Sauce
1/2 cup raw walnut halves, plus a few more for garnish
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Spice-Crusted Cauliflower
1 medium head of cauliflower
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350'

Make the walnut sauce: In a large, ovenproof skillet, toast the walnuts over medium heat until fragrant and slightly darkened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the walnuts to a blender. Return the skillet to the stove and heat 1 tsp. of the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic. Saute until edges of the onion soften, about 2 minutes. Scrape the onions and garlic into the blender. Add the almond milk, lemon juice and generous pinches of salt and pepper and whiz on high until you have a creamy sauce. Keep warm while you prepare the cauliflower. 
Cut two 1" thick "steaks" from the center of the cauliflower (you'll loose pieces on the sides that don't stay intact but just roast those up in an oil and spice mixture and enjoy them on the side). You should have a nice cross section of the vegetable that holds together. Moisten the steaks with water and season both sides with the paprika, thyme, salt and pepper. 
Heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the cauliflower steaks and sear until evenly browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip the cauliflower over and transfer the skillet to the oven. 
Roast the cauliflower in the oven until the center core or stem section is tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. 
Serve the cauliflower with warm sauce and garnish with parsley and chopped walnuts



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