Chocolate Crepe Cake

The inspiration to make this cake came from a BuzzFeed Tasty recipe video — you know, the ones where they make everything look effortless. Well let me just say, this recipe should have come with a disclaimer stating “previous crepe experience strongly advised”. Me, never before having made a crepe in my life, decided this would be a fun challenge. What I didn’t consider is that I should have DOUBLED the recipe, in order to practice a few crepes first; I was not prepared for the crepe casualties that would ensue (there were four).

First, I made the whipped cream and set it in the fridge to cool (a simple whip of heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar). Next, I made the crepes. (Note: if you never made crepes before, I highly recommend doubling the batter so that you can practice a few first; if you end up with too many, freeze them or give them away). I don’t mean to make it sound intimidating, but if you haven’t made them before, let me give a couple pointers that I learned the hard way:

  • Yes, the batter is supposed to be watery; don’t worry, you didn’t ruin it.
  • Make sure the pan is non-stick and is hot enough when you put the batter in — medium high, so that you see bubbles right away and a little steam when you pour in the batter
  • Not just any spatula will do.. make sure it’s one of those thin metal icing spatulas

Pile the crepes on a plate as you make them and put them in the fridge to cool for at least an hour; I can’t stress enough that the crepes NEED to be cold to assemble the cake!! In hindsight, this is total common sense; something about those videos makes the recipes look like they’re foolproof, so I just started assembling things immediately like the video shows. If the crepes aren’t cold, the whipped cream will run. So again, make sure BOTH whipped cream and crepes are COLD!

Once everything is cooled, the assembly is the fun part. Layers those babies up with whipped cream and don’t worry for a second about neatness; you’ll cover it all up later. When you’re out of crepes, it’s time to make the ganache. You want to make this at the last minute so that it’s thin enough to flow over the entirety of the cake, then you can spread it. Sift powdered sugar on top if you want; it makes for a pretty garnish. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes to let the ganache set up a bit; slice it up and love every bite of it! Last but not least, make someone else do the dishes 🙂

Bone Broth Soup with Kale, White Beans, and Chorizo

I had a bag of kale this week to use up, so I thought I’d make soup. I’m not the biggest fan of kale on its own, but find it a really good addition to soups, as it is such a hearty green that it stands up to hot broths, maintaining its texture and color. Also, I have been feeling an energy lull lately so figured a good, hearty nutritious broth would perk me up… maybe it’s in my head, but a good broth usually does seem to do the trick. Getting my bearings here in Maui still, I tried out a new grocery store in search of beef bones and some type of salty meat to add to the soup. I was pleasantly surprised to find this particular store sold their own fresh chorizo in the meat case at a very reasonable cost, and I also found a hefty bag of beef bones in the freezer aisle for pretty cheap, too. So I left the store carrying my huge bag of bones, probably looking like some kind of crazy person. I am a huge advocate of bone broth and am a testament to it’s nutritional qualities; I like to add turmeric and call it “Liquid Gold” since I basically feel amazing after slurping some down. Yesterday I started the broth and gave it a good 24 hours (alot of recipes say to simmer for up to 72 hours for maximum nutrient release, but I’m not that patient) to develop its flavors and to pull out all the minerals from the bones. The way I did it was:img_5124

  • 4 beef bones
  • 1 large splash of apple cider vinegar (this helps to pull out nutrients from the bones, you won’t taste it)
  • 4 large carrots cut in chunks
  • 3 large onions, (cut 2 in large chunks for broth, reserve one for later)
  • 1 head of celery, cut in half
  • 1/2 head of garlic, smashed (don’t bother peeling and slicing, just smash the cloves a bit with the bottom of a glass)
  • 1 can white beans (I had great northern beans on hand, though any white bean works)
  • 2 bay leaves

To start the broth, put bones in large pot and add water (I didn’t measure, I guess it was 8-10 cups of water). Add large splash of apple cider vinegar, a few Tbsp worth, and let soak for 30 minutes. Add all other ingredients (including 2 of the onions — save the other one for now) and bring to boil. Cover and turn heat down to low and let simmer for 20-24 hours (doing this in a slow cooker seems much more efficient, but mine is packed away). Remove veggies and bones; strain broth through strainer and set aside. When cooled, remove solidified fat from surface. Meanwhile, chop and cook kale until very tender (I just put it in a large pot with a little water and steamed it until tender). Chop and lightly crisp chorizo in pan; remove from pan and let drain on paper towel, removing excess grease (WARNING: you may want to hide cooling chorizo; husbands love to pick at this when you’re not looking and may not leave enough for the soup). Chop 1 onion and sautee in chorizo fat; sprinkle with large handful of flour, creating roux. Add a little broth to pan, stirring ’til smooth — this will help to give the soup some body. Add chorizo, kale, and thickened onion mixture to bone broth. Add water if you’d like more soup. Season to your liking (I used 2 T turmeric for a little nutritional boost, 2 T black pepper, and sea salt to taste). Let simmer on low for about one more hour. Drain and rinse white beans; stir into soup… that’s it! Now, all you need is some good bread to dip it in (or, not).

Mr. Ramen

ramenWe recently visited David’s brother, Elliott, in LA. One of the things we did was explored Little Tokyo on the hunt for some good ramen. Based on Yelp reviews, we decided to try Mr. Ramen (with a name like that, it had to be good, right?) So the atmosphere itself felt like what I’d imagine a Tokyo ramen house might feel like —  a little hole in the wall place where you can smell the broth as you enter the doorway, nothing fancy, run by very kind Japanese owners who smile alot. Cute little place.

 

The menu offered a very wide variety of ramen noodle, meat and veg, and broth combinations. I went with the vegetable pork bone ramen, which featured a very rich, golden, salty-but-not-too-salty broth, sliced porkimg_5523, noodles, egg, cabbage, and seaweed greens. This is a VERY filling and satisfying soup. I felt instantly perked up by the broth alone, and as I ate it I imagined it to be something that would cure any sickness or hangover. Luckily, I had neither, just seemed very nutritious, while extremely enjoyable to eat.  10/10 would eat again.

Papaya con Leche

img_5685My husband and I got married over the summer in Costa Rica, and one of the things I loved the most about the country was all the fresh tropical fruit. Every morning, they served a fresh juice of some sort. I’ve always loved papaya, not only for its countless nutritional benefits and flavor, but for its vibrant beauty. Costa Ricans love their papaya, too. Every day, we’d visit the local “sodas”, which are the Costa Rican equivalent to the small American cafe, in search of some authentic Tico food. Batidos are the local drink, very similar to a smoothie, but only using fruit and either water or milk. You can either order it con leche (with milk, David’s preferrence), or con agua (my go-to). I fell in love with the very simple but delicious papaya-con-agua that became my morning staple there. To my delight, my new neighborhood is home to many papaya trees. Jeff brought a few the other day, and today I was very lucky to find a roadside tree loaded with them, ready to pick. Lately the papaya gods have been very good to me, showering me with brightly colored fruit… hallelujah! I froze some, ate some, and was finally reunited with my beloved batidos (con leche for David, con agua for me). It’s literally just straightup ripe fruit (NOT frozen, although you definitely could) blended with just a bit of either water or milk. In Costa Rica, they’d add a little sugar, but these didn’t need any since these Maui papaya I find sweet enough on their own. Top them with a sprinkle of chia seeds, and there you have a delicious snack… muy bien!

Vegetable Galette

Vegetable and Ricotta Galette

I. Love. Pies. Now you know. Pies of any form, savory, sweet. Whatever. Quiches have always been one of my favorite things to eat and are so much fun to make, because the options of ingredient combinations are endless. Tonight, our vegetarian friend Jeff is coming over so I thought I’d try out something I’ve been meaning to for awhile now — a savory galette. Basically a quiche without the eggs, it’s pretty much whatever veggies and/or cheeses you want, nestled into a rustic-style pie crust (not baked in a pie plate). I’ve done this before as a sweet variety with apples. For this one, I used ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, zucchini, acorn squash, caramelized onions, spinach, and topped it with fresh herbs. It came out absolutely delicious! (I do think some good olive oil would have been good to serve it with to drizzle over the top, just a bit). I just served it with a very simple green salad and some warm bread with herb butter. It felt like a great fall meal, but I will definitely start doing more savory galettes throughout the year with different seasonal veggies.

Recipe for this particular galette as follows:

-Pie crust, rolled out and uncooked
-1/2 acorn squash, cooked and sliced thinly
-1 medium onion, sliced and caramelized
-Two large handfuls of cooked spinach (chopped and drained)
-2 cloves garlic, grated
-1 zucchini sliced thin, cooked and drained of moisture)
-1 egg
-Small container ricotta cheese
-Good Parmesan cheese (grated)

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Meanwhile, cook your veggies until fairly tender and lightly press between kitchen towels to drain excess moisture (otherwise your pie crust will become soggy)
  2. In bowl, mix ricotta with salt and pepper to taste. Mix in herbs if you have them.
  3. Grease pan; lay pie crust out. Spread thin layer of ricotta onto crust. Start laying down veggie slices and lightly sprinkling Parmesan. Salt and pepper, then repeating layers. Top with chopped fresh herbs and more Parmesan. Fold in excess crust and egg wash edges to achieve golden brown, glossy crust. (In small bowl, mix one egg with a little water; use brush to coat outer crust before baking.)
  4. Bake for 30-35 mins or until golden brown.