Delicious Reads

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If there’s one thing that always trumps my love of food, it’s my love of reading.

I confess:  I’m a bibliophile.  My love affair with books has been a longstanding one.  I admire them with both thick spines and digital copy.  Lately, reading has been taking up a great deal more of my time than baking or broiling.  Naturally, that reading has centered book on edible topics and otherwise.

Here are some dazzling books and cookbooks that I’ve read lately that should definitely make their way into your hands, on your tablet, and maybe even in your heart:

wellth

I’m not typically interested in self-help oriented titles – just not generally my cup of tea.  But this book by Jason Wachob, the founder of mindbodygreen, is a dazzling testimony to life, love, and learning.  In introducing us to the concept of not wealth but “wellth,” the author shares insights centered on moving, eating, believing, loving, healing, and more.  I was very energized and inspired by this book.  I felt his strategies were valid, and his ideas served as food for thought as I considered my own life.

theindianfamilykitchen

One of my big goals for 2016 was to embrace the art of Indian cooking.  Indian food, with its plethora of spices and colorful flavors and textures, has always intimidated me.  So, as I began my journey into this exotic cuisine, this book played a key role in helping demystify the techniques and help me to think, “Hey, I can do this!”  I’m still immersing myself in all the various methods and recipes found in this book, but suffice to say, there’s much more garam masala in my life.

theveg

I devoured this book in only a couple of sittings.  It’s a tale of one woman’s descent into emotional darkness seen through the eyes of three people close to her within her life, and the center of this devolution is her rejection of meat.  Soon her physical body is fading as rapidly as her mind, and the intrigue lies in the various perspectives of her husband, sister, and brother-in-law.  Written by South Korean author Han King, the prose is richly descriptive and haunting.

sweeter

A new dessert cookbook that focuses on seasonal fruits?  That’s an obvious one for me.  Cover to cover, I was enchanted by the recipes in this book along with all the inspiration I garnered both from the recipes themselves and the stunning imagery.  This is definitely in the running for one of my favorites this year.  The chamomile honey panna cotta needs to go on your personal bucket list – just sayin’.

My oven misses me, I think, and my book shelf is starting to buckle under the weight.  Time to return to the kitchen!

What’s a great book or cookbook that you’ve dived into recently?

Note: I received complimentary copies of all the titles mentioned from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions reflected are my own.

 

Callie’s Double Chocolate Loaf Cake

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Did I omit the “eat more chocolate cake” part of my new year’s resolutions list?  Oops.

I’m a long-time fan of Nigella Lawson.  You know Nigella – the dark-haired British baking and cooking sensation.  Her recipes are dynamic and multifaceted.  Nothing short of perfect.  She even released a cookbook entitled How to Be a Domestic Goddess.  That’s enough to make me a lifelong fan.

But before I was following Nigella’s edible works or drooling over her cookbook collection, I was baking my favorite of all her recipes: the dense chocolate loaf cake.  Then, I moved on to creating my own version with her genius as the foundation.

This cake is everything.  Everything a chocolate cake should be, presented in a no-nonsense, simple way.  This cake doesn’t serve beautifully.  When it bakes, cracks appear like rivers cutting through dense earth.  It is as black as a dark, winter night.

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This is the cake you’re sneaking into the kitchen at 2:00 a.m. to get a nibble of.  Served with a spoon alongside your favorite ice cream or fresh fruit, it promises pleasure in every bite.

Immediately after making this cake the first time, I began experimenting with the recipe and making it my own.  I made a number of tweeks – removing much of the flour and substituting with cocoa, experimenting with alternative flours, increasing the chocolate and trying different varieties.

I was very interested in baking with alternative flours and began experimenting with much-loved recipes that I repeatedly cook and bake with.  I settled on coconut flour for this cake.  Part of my inspiration came from this book: The Whole Coconut Cookbook.  

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This ode to the coconut by Natalie Fraise contains delicious ways to transform one of my favorite fruits into any meal.  The book inspired me to start integrating more coconut into my baking.  While I loved the recipes in the book and have fun making them, I also wanted to work on integrating coconut into my own recipe collection.  Naturally, I started with one of my favorite chocolate cakes.

The result: my version of a delicious Nigella classic that is flavorful and also happens to be gluten-free.  (It’s also easy to adapt to vegan baking – see the note below the recipe.)

I call it Callie’s Double Chocolate Loaf Cake.  This cake is easy to execute at any baking level and yields one cake with an appearance like an extra thick brownie.  But don’t be fooled – brownies ain’t got nothin’ on this cake.

I love a piece of this cake with a tall glass of vanilla soy milk and good book.

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Callie’s Double Chocolate Loaf Cake
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake
Yield: 8 large slices

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened but not melted
  • 1 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate – I also like mixing up the flavor profile here, such as adding peppermint bark or orange dark chocolate.
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plus two tablespoons boiling water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar using a standing mixer or a long spoon and some elbow grease.  Then, add the eggs and vanilla paste, blending well.  Fold in the melted chocolate until just combined.  Don’t overheat!
  3. In a separate bowl, combine cocoa, coconut flour, and baking soda.  Then, add the dry mixture intermittently with the boiling water – 1/4 cup of each at a time until incorporated.  Let stand for 20 minutes.
  4. Pour into the prepared loaf pan, leaving one inch at the top.  Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake begins to separate from the sides and the top appears hardened.  (Think the look of baked brownies.)
  5. Place loaf pan on a rack and allow to cool completely.  Be cautious if you attempt to remove from the pan for serving – this cake does not have a highly stable structure and can crumble.

Make It Vegan!
To make this cake vegan-friendly, substitute a flax egg for each egg called for.  Use a vegan margarine instead of butter.  Also, ensure that the dark chocolate used is dairy-free.  (The best dark chocolate always is!)

Note: I received a copy of The Whole Coconut Cookbook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions expressed surrounding this book are my own.

 

A New Year Begins!

2015 had its ups and its downs.  A rough year in many ways; a beautiful year in others.  But enough about that – today we’re starting a fresh, new year with new possibilities to be harnessed!  I’m optimistic about what lies ahead in 2016, what adventures I’ll have, what images I’ll capture, what new lessons I’ll learn.  And I’m excited about what the kitchen will hold!

With my great love of food, I have a list of New Year’s resolutions that center on culinary innovation, learning, my favorite books to devour, and excitement for what lies ahead this year!

Our Garden // Flour and FancyVeggie Love
In 2015, I decided to return to vegetarianism.    I was a vegetarian for 10 years – from ages 15 to 25 – but fell back into the meat chomping of my younger years.  This year, I decided to embrace the plant-based and nix the flesh once again.  My resolution for 2016 is to continue to broaden my veggie lovin’ palate with new creations and new cooking techniques.  For example, I want to explore quinoa more and start making more homemade vinaigrettes.  (No, I’m not taking down the few recipes with meat in them here, but I’ll be focusing solely on plant-based fare moving forward.)

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Let Loose with Juice
I’ve been spending a great deal of time researching making smoothies from fresh produce.  I’ve been reading books like Green Smoothies – check this one out, such a great cookbook! – and others to learn all the best tricks and refine my own smoothie making.  In 2016, I want to make more smoothies, especially in the summer when my garden is green, lush, and producing!

Bread Bounty // Flour and Fancy
Boom, Boom, Bread!

I’m a great lover of quick breads and bundt dough, but I haven’t spent a great deal of time working on more artisanal breads.  I want to dive into that side of baking.  I read the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook in 2015 for multicultural inspiration as I embark on my bread baking journey, and it provoked my excitement surrounding making hearty, delicious breads and stepping out of my quick bread comfort zone.

 

Our Garden // Flour and FancyGarden Overdrive
This year, I want to really push myself to have the best garden yet!  2015 was a great gardening year with plump watermelons, more squash than we could eat or give away, and a tomato explosion!  In 2016, I want to explore berries more and try to explain our fruit crops.  And more lettuce variety.  I’m ready to conquer the soil this summer!

Sunday Morning Pancakes // Flour and FancyBreakfast Comes First
I was not a breakfast fan most of my life, and today, I’ve changed my outlook but am still known to just drink a coffee or chai latte and move on with my day.  I was denying myself one of eating’s greatest pleasures: a bountiful breakfast.  In 2015, I harnessed a new love for oatmeal with lots of fresh berries, a hint of maple syrup, and a handful of flax seeds.  This year, I want to continue exploring and further developing a love for breakfast – and always carving out time for this meal everyday.

Happy 2016 to all my readers, and thank you for starting a new year with me and my writings and photography on Flour and Fancy.

Garden Beginnings / Flour and Fancy

Note:
I received copies from the publisher of Hot Bread Kitchen and Green Smoothies to review.  The opinions expressed surrounding these items are my own.

Delicious Gifts For Food Lovers

Whether your gift recipient loves to cook, bake, or just eat, here’s my picks for the best food gifts for your loved one this holiday season:

Martha Stewart’s Appetizers: 200 Recipes for Dips, Spreads, Snacks, Small Plates, and Other Delicious Hors d’Oeuvres, Plus 30 Cocktails
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This cookbook was surprisingly unique with innovative, delicious recipes for everyone to enjoy.  I’ve made dinner and sides from these recipes a number of times – it’s so much more than just a book of dishes to whip up for a party.  It has many vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and gluten-free options, too.  My favorites included the pureed vegetable dips, homemade crackers, and the fried macaroni-and-cheese bites.  This book would make a great gift for the accomplished cook or the kitchen novice.

Biscuit Cutter
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Every Southern baker needs a good biscuit cutter for perfectly round, fluffy buttermilk biscuits.  This cutter makes a cute, affordable gift that’s easy to use and yields perfect results!

Holiday Truffle Collection
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French Broad Chocolates is a small chocolatier in Asheville, North Carolina, known for its decadent flavor combinations and local ingredients.  Their holiday truffle collection includes such treats as the gingerbread truffle and eggnog truffle.

Food52 Vegan: 60 Vegetable Driven Recipes for Any Kitchen
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Whether the person you’re shopping for is a vegan or vegetarian eater or just wants to spice up Meatless Mondays, this cookbook includes delicious vegetable-based recipes for every taste.  With recipes muesli, sweet pea hummus, and butternut squash mac and cheese, it’s packed with great meal options.  This is one of my favorite cookbooks of the year and a great way to add color and flavors to veggie feasting!

Retro Apron
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Retro aprons combine a classic patterns, bold colors,  and stylish fabrics to rub access flour and gummy dough on.  After all, that’s what beautiful aprons are for!

Wood Recipe Box
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A beautiful recipe box is a must for the modern cook to preserve passed down and beloved recipes.  While the internet has made recipes so easily accessible, preservation and sharing remain important.  Heirloom recipes are irreplaceable.

A Couple Cooks 2016 Daily Desktop Calendar
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This beautiful calendar features a daily recipe with step-by-step instructions and stunning photography.

Homemade Gifts
Peppermint Hot Cocoa // Flour and Fancy
Nothing says you care like an edible gift you make yourself.  Here are some recipes from Flour and Fancy that make delicious gifts:

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Note:
I received copies from the publisher of Martha Stewart Appetizers and Food52 Vegan to review. The opinions on this book and its contents are my own.  All images of recommended items were taken from product websites.

 

Muffin Madness: A Recipe Roundup

Muffins are a baker’s best friend.  They are entirely customizable, easy to execute, and can be adapted to most special dietary requirements.

Want a delicious breakfast in a snap?  Making a delicious food gift for your vegan or gluten-free pal?  You never bake much but want to create something beautiful to have around the house for a snack?  Muffins are the answer.

Muffins are the perfect personal-size treat for any occasion or no occasion at all.  From breakfast to snack time, they are a perfect option.  I wanted to share a collection of muffin recipes from Flour and Fancy and other accomplished food bloggers.  These muffin recipes include options for every season from cool weather to warm, summer to winter, and also feature vegan, paleo, and gluten-free options.

Mango and Coconut Muffins
These tropical muffins are a great pick for summer months or when you’re craving a tropical heat wave in the cold winter months.  With fresh mango and flakey coconut, they are a perfect, sweet snack!

Skinny Pumpkin Protein MuffinsMuffin Madness: A Recipe Roundup | Flour and Fancy
Pumpkin and protein combine in this deliciously healthy muffin!Read More »

Hot Turkey Sausage Balls

Hot Turkey Sausage Balls | Flour and Fancy

Breakfast is a big deal at my house, as is good Southern fare.

I was a long-time breakfast denier.  No breakfast.  Never.  It wasn’t until college that I started enjoying cereal and waffles, and I wouldn’t touch a pancake prior to the last two years.  And I’m still not a big fan of a number of breakfast foods.  Pork sausage.  No, thanks.  Eggs served any way you make them.  No, no, no.

However, my husband adores breakfast in all its forms, and for the sake of domestic bliss, I needed to find breakfast recipes that worked for both of us.  You know, something more than having a cup of coffee together, another item that we both have very different tastes on.  First, there was Dark Chocolate Scones.  Then, there was Sunday Morning Pancakes.  But these hot turkey sausage balls are just for him.Read More »