Let Them Eat Almond Cake

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Cream 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar together. Add 3 egg yolks (reserve the egg whites, you’re using them, too!) and beat until mixture is pale and fluffy. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3/4 teaspoon almond extract, and the zest of one lemon (avoid the pith, it’s bitter and won’t taste good in your cake). Stir until combined. Fold in 1 cup almond meal, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup cake flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder.

In a separate dry bowl, whip the three egg whites until they begin to get frothy. When they begin to get frothy, add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and a pinch of salt. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. When you have stiff peaks, fold egg whites into the almond and flour mixture. Pour into a greased cake pan and bake 30 minutes at 350. Remove and let cool on wire baking rack for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pan.

While cake is cooling, heat juice of three lemons and 1 tablespoon lavender flowers. Let steep 5 minutes, then strain to remove the flowers. Add in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and stir to combine. Pour glaze over the cooled cake. Press lavender flowers in while the glaze is warm to decorate if you’re artsy. Otherwise, let cool about 10 minutes after the glaze is applied and serve.

Some notes: if using a stand mixer, whip the egg whites on high. Everything you read on the internet will tell you to whip them at a low to medium speed. And on a stand mixer, this will get you nowhere. With a handheld mixer, start at medium and if you don’t see progress, increase the speed slowly. You should see serious progress in just a couple of minutes and have achieved stiff peaks in about five minutes. If you’re considering whipping the egg whites by hand, good luck and God speed.

Different flavor options:

  • Instead of lavender, steep fresh basil leaves in the hot lemon juice.
  • Substitute orange zest in for lemon zest and fresh squeezed orange juice for the lemon juice. Omit the lavender and instead whisk a teaspoon of vanilla extract into the warm orange juice and powdered sugar. In the alternate, throw some pineapple chunks into the warm orange juice in place of the lavender.
  • Substitute grapefruit zest in for lemon zest, and grapefruit juice and fresh mint for the lemon and lavender.

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Easy Chicken

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After cleaning a whole chicken, thoroughly dry with paper towels. Inside and out. I know, it’s icky. You can do it. On occasion, you’ll find a bit of a quill left in the skin. It’s easiest to grasp them using a paper towel so you have enough traction to pull it out.

A lot of recipes will call for lemons or butter. We’re going to avoid those so the chicken can get nice and crispy! And who doesn’t love a recipe that calls for just three ingredients?

I like to let the chicken come to temperature and dry one more time. Add salt and dried thyme into the cavity and place the chicken in a pan. You don’t want the pan to be so large that your chicken is floating out in space. I like to use our trusty Dutch oven. Then truss the chicken. This just means you’re going to use a bit of baker’s or butcher’s twine to tie the chicken legs together to cover a portion of the breast, and it helps the chicken stay juicy.

After trussing the chicken, tuck the wings as close to the body as you can manage. You don’t want them to get too dry, either. Lightly sprinkle dried thyme over the chicken. Now, for the magic. With a heavy hand, salt the chicken with kosher salt. Add a second pass. That salt is going to be where your flavor comes in.

Bake at 450 for an hour. Double check the internal temperature of the breast meat- it needs to be at least 165. Let cool for ten minutes, carve, and serve. Tastes great with a whole grain mustard or Dijon for dipping. Pairs really well with blistered carrots with labneh.

Be sure to save the bones and scraps for chicken stock!

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*the link to the Dutch oven is an affiliate link; it doesn’t increase your price, but a portion of the proceeds come back to me.

Spicy Sauce and Fish

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We were fortunate enough to catch Sprouts in an amazing sale where the wild caught salmon was a dollar per pound less than the farm raised and I snapped up two pounds because you can always make something delicious with salmon. I like this chimichurri with it because the lime juice brings the flavors to life and the jalapeno keeps things interesting. If you’re averse to spicy food, it’s worth noting that once you’ve removed those seeds most of the bite is taken out of the jalapeno. If you’re really averse to spicy food, I’d suggest starting with just one jalapeno with seeds and stem removed and give it a taste test to see if you can handle more. You can always blend the second jalapeno in piece by piece. I also like this sauce because, on days when Graham and I can’t agree on a protein, it tastes just as delicious on his steak as it does on my salmon.

In a blender or food processor, combine 1 bunch of parsley leaves, large stems removed, 2 jalapenos with stem and seeds removed, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 4 cloves garlic, 1-2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt, 3 green onions, the juice of two limes and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Blend until a nice sauce forms. Give it a taste before you remove it to a serving container. Sometimes it needs a bit more salt, though it does depend on how heavily you salt your fish or other protein. It tastes good on a lot of things.

In a cast iron skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Place two fillets of salted and peppered salmon skin side down into the hot oil and cook approximately 5 minutes. Avoid the temptation to fiddle with the fish as it cooks. Flip and cook approximately 5 minutes more. Remove to plates and top with chimichurri sauce.

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Floats Like a Butterfly, Sweet Like a Bienenstich – Bee Sting Cake

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In small saucepan, combine 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, 3 1/2 Tbs honey, and 1 cup milk. Heat over low until the butter melts and mix is blended. Set aside to cool about 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, stir together 4 cups all purpose flour, 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. When milk mixture has cooled, whisk in the zest of 1 lemon, 1 egg, and 1 Tbs. dry active yeast (4 packets). Let sit about 5 minutes until frothy.

Mix milk mixture in with dry ingredients. Stir until combined. Remove to a floured surface and knead until dough is smooth, about 6 minutes by hand or 2 by machine. Place dough into an oiled bowl and cover with saran wrap. Let sit 1 hour in warm area or on top of a heating pad set to warm.

About 50 minutes into your rise, combine 1/4 cup sugar, 6 Tbs. honey, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 2 cups slivered almonds, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Heat over high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Allow to boil until it begins to turn lightly golden (7-10 minutes). Remove from heat and add 1 Tbs. vanilla.

In 9″ springform pan, press the dough across the bottom. Do your best to press it along the walls of the pan. Pour the almond syrup over the top and spread so it’s flat.

Cook 25 minutes in an oven at 350. Pro tip: on the rack beneath your cake pan, put a cookie sheet covered in foil. That way if anything leaks out of the pan, you’re not scrubbing your oven forever.

Other recipes will tell you to cut your cake in half horizontally and then fill with a vanilla custard. Save yourself this step by serving atop the vanilla pudding you already know how to make!

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Stuffed Bagel Bites

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In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 cup Greek yogurt. Stir together until it forms a dough ball. If it’s a little too tacky, add in additional flour teaspoon by teaspoon.

Press golf-ball sizes of dough into flat disks and place the stuffing of your choice in the middle. I went with salami, cream cheese and hot peppers. Perhaps a bit of mozzarella and a pepperoni. Perhaps just cream cheese. You do you. Press the dough up and around your stuffing, forming a rough ball shape.

In a small bowl, whisk together one egg and one Tbs. of water. Brush over the tops of your dough balls. Sprinkle Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning over the top. If you’re going with sweet flavoring, perhaps just cinnamon and sugar over the top.

Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350 for 23 minutes and 2 minutes with the oven set to broil. Or cook in an air fryer for 10 minutes at 400.

No, they’re not technically bagels, but this dough is far easier.

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(I Promise You Can’t Tell It’s Eggplant) Lasagna

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Sometimes I trick people into eating eggplant. This is how I do it.

First, you need to sharpen your knife. No, really. Eggplant skin is shockingly tough. Then wash your knife, to be safe.

With your clean and sharp knife, cut two small eggplants into slices no thicker than 1/4″. Brush both sides of each slice with extra virgin olive oil and place in one layer on parchment lined baking sheets (or silicone sheets if you’ve got them). Sprinkle with salt. Cook at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until soft.

In a high walled skillet, brown 1 lb. ground turkey or beef and one minced onion. Add one can drained diced tomatoes. Stir in 1/2 of 24 ounces marinara sauce of your choosing. Season with 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.

Combine 15 ounces of ricotta with 1 bunch of finely chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella.

Pour a thin layer of your reserved marinara sauce into a 9×9 pan. Layer: eggplant, meat sauce, all of the ricotta mixture, marinara sauce, eggplant, meat sauce. Top with a handful of shredded mozarella and a light dusting of bread crumbs if you’re adventurous.

Bake at 350 for approximately 1 hour. Turn on the broiler just before you take it out of the oven so the cheese gets nice and golden. Let sit 15 minutes before serving so you don’t scald yourself with a soupy mess.

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Nuggy’s Peanut Butter Blueberry Banana Bites

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Nugget is our puppy dog. He thoroughly approves this recipe. The first time he got one, he tried to bury it so I wouldn’t steal it from him. The second time, he sat holding the bite in his mouth, drooling.

There’s nothing in this you can’t eat. But it’s geared toward our canine friends.

In a food processor, combine 1 egg, 1/2 cup skim milk, 1/2 cup unsalted peanut butter, 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1/2 ripe banana. Use a food processor instead of a blender because you’ll need the extra horse power to get through all that peanut butter, especially once it combines with the flour.

You can either ball the dough up into a cookie shape and bake on a flat baking sheet or in mini muffin tins. Press blueberries (fresh or frozen) into each bite. If you’re going to try roll out cookies, a tablespoon of baking powder is entirely too much. Try using a teaspoon and thoroughly chilling the dough before rolling.

Bake 25-30 minutes at 375. Let cool before sharing.