Thursday, June 17, 2010

Olive Oil Cake

I know what you're thinking.  I thought it too.

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Olive oil cake?  Really?

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I saw this on a couple websites on the internet and had to try it myself.  It's another recipe from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce, and features spelt flour.  I found some in the organic section of my favorite grocery store.

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It was classic coffee cake with bits of chocolate mixed in.

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Simple, subtle and elegant.

Olive Oil Cake
Recipe from Kim Boyce

Dry mix:
3/4 cup spelt flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Wet mix:
3 eggs
1 cup olive oil (I used pure, not extra virgin, but I don't think that's necessary)
3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
8 oz bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao) roughly chopped into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 9" round cake pan.

Put all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl and mix to combine.

In a second bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly and then add the olive oil, milk and rosemary and whisk them all together well.

Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Now stir in the chocolate pieces.  Pour the batter into the cake pan, and bake for 40 minutes, or until it has passed the toothpick test.

This cake was at it's best within the first couple days after baking.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I was inspired by a couple of different websites to purchase this book last weekend.  Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.  The book is centered around recipes using different types of whole grain flours.  It's a beautifully put together book, with gorgeous pictures of most of the recipes included.  I did do a little investigating prior to buying to make sure that the flours used are indeed available to most normal grocery store shoppers, and yes indeedy they are.  I found most if not all of them in the organic section of my favorite grocery store. 

This was the first thing that I made.  They were calling out for me to make them as soon as I flipped to their page.....

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Now let me tell you, I have tried recipes centered around whole wheat flour before, and was not impressed by the overall texture, or the flavor of whatever it was I had baked at the time.  So I will say that initially, I had my doubts about whether these cookies were going to be an all-out showstopper or not.

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All suspicions were put to rest after one bite of these babies.  They held their shape nicely in the oven without turning into flat, lifeless blobs.  Big plus in my book.

They were delightfully chewy, and I thought the distinct prescence and flavor of the brown sugar was heaven.

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Add to that the chocolate that oozed out of them, and it doesn't get much better.  They would rank pretty darn high on my list of favorite chocolate chip cookies..... if I had a list of favorite chocolate chip cookies.... They can, without a doubt, hold their own against any white flour recipe out there, and I think there's definitely something to be said for that.

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Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from Kim Boyce and Good to the Grain

Dry Ingredients:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Wet Ingredients:
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 oz bittersweet chocolate (1 Giardhelli bar), roughly chopped
4 oz semisweet chocolate (1 Giardehlli bar), roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and get your cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and ready to roll.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl. 

In your stand mixer, combine cold cubed butter and both sugars until blended.  About 2 minutes.  Scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go, add the eggs, one at a time and blend until just combined.  Add the vanilla and mix to combine.  Gradually add the flour mixture in 2 to 3 batches, blending well after each addition.  Finally, add the chocolate pieces and blend until evenly distributed throughout.  The cookie dough will resemble rough, wet, sand.

Whereas I normally put cookie dough into the refrigerator to avoid lifeless blobs on the cookie sheet upon removal from the oven, with this particular recipe, that was not really necessary.  I did put it into the refrigerator between batches, but I found that the cooler the dough was, the harder it was to get the dough to stay together.  This is a very dry mix.  It will come together in your fingers when pressed, but for all intents and purposes will look like a big bowl of rough sand.  Take're going to have to mold it fairly firmly in order to get cookie mounds and not piles of crumbs on your cookie sheet.

Scoop the cookie dough with whatever your desired scooping tool is, onto the baking sheet in even mounds.  I used my 1 tablespoon sized cookie scoop, and pressed the dough firmly into the scoop before releasing the dough onto the cookie sheet, and it worked fairly well.  Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, until evenly brown.  How do you tell when brown cookie dough is evenly brown???  I checked the bottoms of a couple cookies before calling the batch done.  After baking a couple of batches, you'll get the time down perfect, and won't need to check for done-ness.   This recipe makes enough cookies to feed an army by the way.

Cool and eat....... or eat when they come out, but be careful and don't burn the top of your mouth and tongue like I did.  They were delicious.  You'll want to eat them as soon as they come out of the oven.  Trust me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pecorino and Bean Salad

You guys didn't think we eat all junk around here did you???  All desserts, all the time?

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I hate to dispel the fantasy, but we do try to eat at least slightly healthy.... at least during the week.  The weekend is another story entirely.  But I digress.....

Edamame.  Ever had it?  I hadn't before this.

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I've made this twice now.  Once for us, and the second time for a cookout.  Let me tell you, I am not and never have been a fan of bean salad.  This however I loved.

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I think it's the chunks of pecorino that do it for me.  In fact, I think they make the entire salad.  I would add more than the recipe amount if I were you.  I did.

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Pecorino and Bean Salad
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentis and

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 cups (9 ounces) shelled edamame beans (they are in the 'organic' section of my grocery store and come frozen)
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
5 ounces pecorino, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (roughly the same size as the beans)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

In a small, nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, but not brown, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rosemary. Set aside.

Combine the edamame beans, cannellini beans, cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper in a serving bowl. Add the garlic mixture and toss well until all the ingredients are coated.

Zucchini and Olive Flatbread

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A simple dinner.

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I'm a little fuzzy on the exact differences between 'flatbread' and 'pizza'.  This sucker sure seemed like 'pizza' to me.  Perhaps I did not roll it flat enough.  I challenge you to try rolling it any flatter.  I have come to the conclusion that pizza dough is definitely a challenge.....and provides quite the arm workout as well.

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Aside from the rolling out of the dough, the rest was a breeze.  And hey, if you have kids to roll the pizza dough out for you..... just give them the dough and let 'em rip!  Mine wouldn't do it.  He's no fool.

Just look at that.  Olives, mozzarella cheese, pecorino romano.....and, and, zucchini.  One of my favorite veggies on the planet. 

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Zucchini and Olive Flatbread
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis and

All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 pound pizza dough
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus extra, for drizzling
1 large (8 ounce) zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/8-inch slices (I used my mandolin slicer)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves, divided
1 1/2 cups (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella
1 cup (2 1/2 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup pitted sliced black olives

Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a roughly 12-inch circle.  This particular step might take a while..... I will say that it's much easier to do, in my experience, if you leave the dough to sit out at room temperature for an hour to an hour and a half before you attempt any rolling.  Trust me.  You don't want to whip it out of the fridge and start rolling it while it's cold.  You won't get very far.

With a pastry brush, brush 1 tablespoon of the oil over the dough. Using the tines of a fork, prick the dough all over.

Arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer on top of the dough. Drizzle the zucchini with oil.

Bake the dough for 18 to 20 minutes until the edges begin to brown.

Remove the bread from the oven, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of oregano, the cheeses, and the olives. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes until the cheeses are melted and bubbly.

Sprinkle the flatbread with the remaining oregano, cut into wedges and serve.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hazelnut Crunch Cake with Mascarpone and Chocolate

We had a birthday around here this past weekend.

And no birthday around here would be complete without a birthday cake....from Giada, of course.

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Things were not going according to the recipe, or instructions, when I made this cake, so it is somewhat changed from it's original and intended form.  But no love lost here.  It was delicious.

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A delicious coating of semisweet chocolate chips, orange zest and chopped hazelnuts.

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All layered onto a mascarpone cheese icing.  I mixed a bunch of chopped hazelnuts into the icing as well.

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Just look at that...... yum.

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And oh my goodness..... mascarpone cheese.  Who knew it was so good.

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Hazelnut Crunch Cake with Mascarpone and Chocolate
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis and

1 box chocolate cake mix (and any ingredients listed on cake mix box)
1 cup (about 4 1/2-ounces) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (split amongst chocolate mixture and icing)
2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and toast them until lightly browned.  Then, if they have skins on them, roll them in a hand towel immediately after removing them from the oven (while they are still hot) and rub them vigorously together and against each other in a vain attempt to get most of the skins off.  In my experience with hazelnuts, you will never, never, get all the skins off.  But hey, who said there was anything wrong with hazelnut skins?  Just get as much as you can off, and pop the rest into the mix with or without their skins.  I really don't think it will hurt anything.

Once you have most of the skins removed from those hazelnuts, pop 2/3 of them in a food processor and pulse away until they are the consistency that you would like.  I ground mine up fairly small.  My yahoo doesn't like nuts and I thought I could pull a fast one..... not.

Butter and flour 2 (8-inch) cake pans. Prepare the cake mix according to package instructions. Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and bake according to package instructions. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.  My cakes baked unevenly across the top and one side was higher than the other.  Don't be a fool like me.  When they cool, go ahead and cut the uneven part of the cake off with a large serrated knife BEFORE you start the whole icing process.  Trust me.  It just makes life easier if you do it that way.

Put the mascarpone cheese, cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer whip the cream mixture to soft peaks. Fold the 2/3 of chopped hazelnuts into the whipped cream.

Place the chocolate, sugar, orange zest, and the remaining 1/3 hazelnuts in a food processor. Process the mixture until the chocolate is ground to the consistency that you desire.  Once again, I ground mine fairly small, but still fairly coarse.

Put 1 cake on a serving plate. Top with 1-inch of the mascarpone and whipped cream crunch mixture. Top with the second layer of cake and continue frosting the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream crunch mixture. Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the ground chocolate mixture. I gently pressed the chocolate 'crumb' mixture into the top of the cake so that it would remain in place.

Cut and serve.