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Asparagus and Potato Tart with Honey

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Who would have thought that honey would work so well with roasted asparagus, laying lusciously  on a bed of mashed buttermilk potatoes? I did not, but then inspiration struck, and boy am I glad that it did!

I’ve been looking through my french cookbooks, and sadly, while this is something that would come from a french cookbook it was inspired by Jamie Oliver. I believe the book I was looking at was At Home with Jamie, and I saw a photo (that’s all it took), with some white asparagus laying on a very velvety mound of mashed potatoes, encompassed in some puff pastry. I thought to myself, hell, I can do that, and so I did.

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Asparagus Tart with Potatoes and Honey

  • about 16 asparagus soldiers, trimmed of the tough stems
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes ( I added buttermilk when making mine, to make sure it was extra creamy)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • salt and pepper, to taste (If mashed potatoes are not seasoned)
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • parmesan cheese, approx 1/4 cup
  • clover honey, how much you use is to your taste, or omit

Season mashed potatoes with salt and pepper, or wait to season (if not already seasoned) till it’s laid out on the pastry sheet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and grease. Lay out the puff pastry sheet (store bought is perfectly fine). Score the sheet so you get a 1/2 inch border. Make sure you use a sharp knife but don’t cut all the way through the pastry sheet. you can also use a fork to prick the sheet in the  middle to ensure it doesn’t get puffy with the ingredients on it.

Dollop the mashed potatoes on the sheet, making sure not to go over the border line. Smooth it out to an even layer of potatoes all around the pastry sheet.

Add the asparagus, laying them gently and closely together to make a line across the potatoes. You can add these in any lines you like: vertical, horizontal, or even diagonally. I did mine horizontally, but I rotated from left to right so it so that every other spear touched the left or the right side of the border (to get asparagus in every bite, essentially).

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15-17 minutes. Make sure the pastry boarder is puffing but isn’t get golden. Turn up the temperature up to 400 degrees F and bake for another 5 minutes or so. Checking to make sure the edges don’t burn.

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Take out and let rest two minutes. Drizzle with honey (I used organic clover honey, but any honey flavor will work here. I expect avocado honey will be especially amazing here), then let sit for another 4-5 minutes to allow honey to get slightly absorbed. Cut into squares and serve.

Don't mind that shiny thing in the corner, that's my knife. I couldn't resist a bite!

Don’t mind that shiny thing in the corner, that’s my knife. I couldn’t resist a bite!

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Banana Poppy Seed Muffins for a New Work Week

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Afternoon all!

For most people, tomorrow is not just any Monday, but it’s THE Monday. The Monday that kids go back to school, as do countless teachers, students (in college, I mean), and service members that work with children. Not to mention all the administration that work in school. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to tons of traffic and being late.

To start the work week (and school week) off right I decided to get into the kitchen, for the first time this weekend, by the way, and start cooking. I managed to make a lovely pasta (simple tomato sauce with a hint of vodka and spices) for lunch tomorrow, as well as some rice and tilapia for dinner today, and banana poppy seed muffins to make getting out of bed worthwhile tomorrow.

I adapted this recipe from Crepes of Wrath, so check that out for the original recipe. Not that I changed it much.

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Banana Muffins with Poppy Seed Bliss 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large bananas, very ripe and mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • about 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • raw sugar, for sprinkling (optional)- I omitted this for calorie reasons 🙂
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line and/or grease 18-20 muffin cups and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another large bowl, beat together the mashed bananas, vegetable oil, milk, lemon juice, honey, and eggs.
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Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just moistened. Fold in the poppy seeds. Place about 1/3 cup of batter into each muffin cup (don’t overfill the cups, definitely do less than 1/3 than a heaping 1/3 cup) and sprinkle with raw sugar, if you like.
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Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and set. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan and serving.
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Cinnamon-Apple Upside Down Cake

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I finally got a chance to do some more baking. I bought a ton of apples over the weeks so I needed to incorporate them. I found this recipe online, and although I enjoyed it for what it was, I would definitely add more apples, and maybe some brown sugar to the apples as well in order to get a good caramel layer after baking.

Overall, it was a complete success. Between homework and studying and baking it was quite a Saturday!

  • 1-1/2 cups {about 2 medium} Gala Apples
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon, divided
  • 1 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 7 tablespoons, divided
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 2/3 cup Whole Milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Real Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon Fresh Nutmeg
  • 6 teaspoons Honey

Line and spray a 9-inch round cake pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Core and dice up 1-1/2 cups of apples, that’s roughly about 1-1/2 to 2 apples. Toss the diced apples with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and place them in the bottom of your prepared pan.

In the same bowl add the butter and brown sugar. Mix until crumbly, about one minute. Combine the flour, remaining cinnamon and baking powder. Grate in 1/8 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg, stir and set aside.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then, with the mixer on low, blend in the vanilla and whole milk. Add in the dry ingredients and mix by hand until combined thoroughly, then pour over apples and spread evenly.

 

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cake plate.

Once the cake is cooled drizzle honey over the top.

Cut into eighths and serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Tarte Fine Aux Pommes (Apple-Puff Pastry Galette)

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I haven’t baked anything in such a long time. Dare I say, in over a month! I’ve got to stop being so neglectful of my oven, and skills, if I say so myself. Today I got the itch. Between the laundry and the homework, I gave in, and made this lovely apple galette.

Although  it’s not really a galette, Nigella refers to it by it’s French term, and as I know nothing of French language or food (officially anyway), I’ll describe as she does. Regardless of the name it’s called, this lovely pastry is the most amazing thing I’ve tasted all month. Well, last month, as this is September after all.

But I digress, this recipe speaks for itself.

 

* (edit) Side note: This would be great with some honey drizzled over it once it’s still warm and out of the oven. Apples, honey, this sounding familiar to anyone? It’s the traditional dessert for Rosh Hashanah. It’s an idea that my friend gave me, which  I thought I’d share with you in case some readers out there were wondering what to make next weekend*

 

Taken from Nigella Express

  •  2 Large Granny Smith apples, or 3 smaller Fugi apples
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 (1 sheet) of a 17.2 oz package all-butter puff pastry, measuring 9 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, separated
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preheat over to 425 degrees.

Core the apples, cut them in half. Pour lemon juice into a wide shallow dish and fill it with some cold water. Immerse the apple halves in the lemony water; this will stop them turning brown.

Lay the sheet of puff pastry onto a large baking sheet, and either using the back of a large carving knife, or a steel ruler, mark a 1/2 inch border all the way around the edge of the pastry. You need to score the lines on the pastry rather than cutting all the way down and through it. This will allow the frame to rise above the apple filling.

Pat the apples dry and cut each half into quarters, then slice each as thinly as you can muster.

Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar over the base. Working from the inside edge, place the apple slices closely overlapping within the border of the frame. Create neat lines of apple slices until the pastry is covered.

Heat the butter with the remaining tablespoon of sugar in a small pan, and let both bubble for a few minutes, until a light caramel color appears. Dribble and drizzle this syrup over the apples and put tart in the oven.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, by which time the puff pastry should have risen with a nice border, and the fruit will be soft and slightly colored. If the apples have given off a juice, go ahead and let the pastry sit for 5 minutes.

Serves about 6-8

Tea Party II: Honey Pistachio Orange Cake on Thursday

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I got this recipe from Baked Bree. I’ve never made a simple cake like this before. The closest I’ve ever come would be coffee cakes, or tarts. In any case, as this was my first go I didn’t alter it at all, however, I think I added a bit more pistachios than necessary, but that’s never a bad thing.

Next time I think I’ll be adding orange juice into the batter, with some cranberries, or some other dried fruits. Anything would be great, which is why the versatility of this cake was as alluring as the promise of honey and pistachio goodness.

I would also recommend you try this with all-purpose gluten free flour from King Arthur as it’s only got 1 cup of flour in it. It shouldn’t change the recipe at all, not the flavor or texture. The cornmeal is gf as well as the rest of the ingredients. So it’s a winner no matter what your dietary needs!

For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup honey, separated into 1/2 and 1/4 cups respectively
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, ground (I chopped mine up to add some more texture, and I added double the amount of pistachios)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • orange zest (about half an orange)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla almond milk, it was all I had and it turned out just lovely)
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice (to go with the 1/4 cup honey for a glaze)

**For the cream (optinal):

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese or mascarpone (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 pint berries (raspberries or strawberries)

Cream together butter and 1/2 cup honey until light and fluffy. While the butter is creaming, combine flour, cornmeal, pistachios, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs one at a time, and add the orange zest. Add most of the flour mixture to the bowl. Add the milk, and then add the rest of the flour.

Pour the batter into a 9-inch cake pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

For the glaze: melt together the remaining 1/4 cup honey and orange juice over low heat. Using a toothpick, poke holes in the cake while the cake is still warm, and brush the honey mixture over the cake.

**To make the cream, beat the mascarpone or cream cheese for 30 seconds. Add the cream and honey. (I added a little more orange zest, I can’t resist zest.) Whip until soft peaks form.

Sick Days and Making Bread

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I’ve been feeling under the weather. Mostly, it’s this little… something, in my throat.  It’s been on and off since Saturday morning, which is why my posting has come to a halt. I had a nice showing of Princess Bride this weekend as well (which will be coming in the following days in form or book vs movie review).

Grand ol’ time!

Back to my original reason for writing this post. I feel so terrible right now, in this very moment, that I actually decided I was too tired, to go grocery shopping tomorrow. I can already feel the exhaustion of a bad night’s sleep (still to come), effect me tomorrow. While I’m hosting dinner for a friend tomorrow, I need something satisfying in the moment, and something that I could justify.

BREAD~

Nothing is more special than making homemade bread. I got my inspiration from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen, and it was wonderful!

I thought, I can make this today, and have the oven warm my apartment (though it’s 80 degrees at 9pm in Los Angeles at the moment), and fill my home with the sweet smells of oats and honey, and I can have it for breakfast with butter tomorrow. That’s all it takes for me to jump up off the couch and run into the kitchen, opening cabinets and the fridge.

Adapted from Sweet Peas Kitchen

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, or quick-cooking (not instant) oats, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup clover honey, or other mild honey
  • 3/4 cup nonfat or low-fat milk

Heat oven to 375°F. Generously coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon oats in the pan. Tip the pan back and forth to coat the sides and bottom with oats; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium bowl, using a fork, beat 1 cup oats, yogurt, egg, oil and honey until well blended. Stir in milk. Gently stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture just until thoroughly incorporated but not overmixed. Scrape the batter into the pan, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon oats over the top.

Bake until well browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around and under the loaf to loosen it and turn it out onto the rack. Let cool until barely warm, about 45 minutes.

If I could, I’d eat it all.