Double Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies


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A few years ago I made my first batch crinkle cookies–soft, delightful treats with fissures on top like mudcracks in the ground of a desert landscape. And since they’re perfectly dense, chewy, soft, and textured, they’re basically the best of all possible cookies. That’s why I was so surprised this past week to discover that it had been years since I’d made any, and I set out to refresh the recipe for the holidays.

After making a fresh batch of these crinkle cookies, this time incorporating chunks of chocolate that burst and melt away with every bite as well as some peppermint extract that makes every one of those bites refreshing, I’d say we have a new holiday tradition on our hands. They’re so dense and chewy that they’re almost slipping off the edge into brownie territory. And the indulgent chocolate cooled by the breeze of mint makes it seem like every chilled Junior Mint at the movies growing up was but the shadow of this cookie’s triumph. Seriously, these cookies take mere minutes to put together, they’re super low maintenance, and yet after 10 minutes in the oven you’ll be presented with some of the most impressive treats you’ll have had all year. Follow the recipe below and happy holiday cookie baking!

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Double Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Yields about 18 small cookies

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp sea salt

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp +⅛ tsp peppermint extract

½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped

½ cup powdered sugar, for rolling


Method

In a medium bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and sea salt then set aside.

In either a medium bowl, or in the bowl of a standing mixer, add the vegetable oil and sugar and mix for about 30 seconds, or until it looks like wet sand. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla and peppermint extract.

Add the flour mixture and beat on low (or mix by hand) until the dough just comes together. Add the chopped chocolate and mix a few more times to combine. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least four hours.

Heat oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1oz balls, if you don’t have a scale, I would suggest using a slightly heaped tablespoon-sized portion of dough. Place the powdered sugar in a small ball and roll each ball in the sugar to coat.

Place the coated balls on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-11 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat this process until all cookies have been baked and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from AllRecipes


 

Travelling Abroad + A Short Food Guide for Greece & Italy


Positano, Italy

     When I began travelling after high school, it was the first time I ever took photography seriously. I had a clunky Canon 35mm camera loaded with black and white film that I took around the country and the world alike, and I had the time of my life shooting everything from European cathedrals to iconic East Coast skylines. There was something about capturing special moments during my exploration of new cultures and terrains that I found irresistible, and the decision to keep finding new things to shoot once I got home was completely natural. 

Athens, Greece

Oia, Santorini, Greece

     And now, John and I have just returned from a truly wonderful trip to Greece, Israel, and Italy where my love for photography was dramatically refreshed. We started the trip in Athens, Paros, and Santorini, followed by more of Greece along with Israel and Italy with Viking Cruises, and then we finished on our own again in Rome and the Amalfi Coast. It was a journey filled with intense history, amazing cuisine, and, of course, extremely beautiful sites. 

Trastavere, Rome, Italy

Positano, Italy

The Odeon of Herodes, Athens, Greece

Mykonos, Greece

     One thing that set this trip apart from others was the cruise with Viking—the first cruise we’ve ever been on. We weren’t sure what to expect, but it was honestly fantastic. Waking up each morning in a totally new land to explore was a constant thrill, enhanced by stellar service and great food. The ship itself is modern and elegant, with a tasteful mid-century design all throughout the interior that makes any part of the ship a beautiful place to relax. There were a couple of days that we spent entirely at sea which were quite lovely because the ship itself was so exciting to explore. From the observation deck we could look out at the open ocean and the passing coastlines while sipping a cocktail from the bar. We lounged by the pool and read some novels in between dips in the jacuzzi. In the atrium we enjoyed an acoustic guitarist playing renditions of Simon & Garfunkel while I beat John in Scrabble every single time. At the front of the ship, the Explorer’s Lounge was easily the most stunning area to spend our time. The mid-century furniture and floor-to-ceiling glass walls created the most comfortable atmosphere. All to say, this cruise was an absolute joy—it was really such a great experience.

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     While I was on the cruise I found a sweet cookbook called The Kitchen Table in their gift shop featuring recipes from around the world that Viking visits. I came across this baklava recipe, which I devoured at every chance during our time in Greece, and I thought it would be special to share it with you. You can find the recipe at the end of this post. 

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     Trying new food is probably my favorite part about travelling, and it’s one of the strongest ways in which I connect to new cultures. That being said, the list of coffee shops, bars, bakeries, and restaurants we visited is ridiculously long, but I wanted to share some highlights from Athens, Santorini, and Rome should any of you find yourselves visiting sometime soon. 

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Athens

Cafe Avissinia: This was such a cute cafe. The design was lovely, plus it is nestled right in the center of a vintage flea market which only added more character to this amazing spot. Plus, their freddo cappuccino is something you must try!

Grande Bretagne Rooftop Bar: This rooftop bar was magical. It is located on the very top floor of an iconic Athenian hotel, which provided one of the most amazing views of the Acropolis! The food there can be a bit pricy, so if you just want to see Athens' ancient architecture shine at night, a simple cocktail at the bar is all you need to get. 

O Kostas Souvlaki: This was one of the most charming souvlaki places we encountered. It's a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and there's always a long line for the best of reasons, but it's totally worth it. 

Falafellas: If you are looking for a cheap and quick eat, this is the place! They serve flavorful falafel pitas that are so huge it was almost to big for me to finish. Don't worry, I made sure to eat it all.

Santorini (Oia)

Melitini: This place was some of the best food we had in Greece—in fact some of the best food we've ever had. We actually had to stop ordering food here because our table wan't big enough, which is not too bad of a problem in my opinion. We had all of the greek staples here like tzatziki and greek salads, plus we had the most amazing fried potatoes covered in the best feta in the world. 

Pito Gyros: When in Santorini it's always great to have a quick and easy place to eat within arm's reach. So if you are looking for something other than a sit down meal, don't look any further. This place is the king of gyros and we've never had better.

Kastro: This restaurant is all about the view. In Oia you will find a sea of restaurants that give you some of the best views in the city. This spot provided us with great food, great wine, and an unforgettable view. 

Rome

Panificio Panella: This cafe was heaven. After navigating through a bunch of touristy spots, this place was a breath of fresh air. Freshly baked pastries and flavorful espresso can be found in this cafe which also doubles as a general store of sorts.

Pizzarium: I can't tell you how many people recommended this spot. John and I took quite the long walk to get here, but it was beyond worth it. I was told that their pizza topping options change almost every hour, or at least everyday, so there is always something new to try.

Da Enzo: This restaurant is a little hidden gem, tucked away from any main streets or other touristy type of places. A line usually forms about 15 minutes before they open, so if you are going to go, I recommend getting there a little early if you want to eat right away. They serve a lot of classic Italian dishes, and based on what we ordered, it all tastes incredible. John actually said that he had the best carbonara of his life there, and after taking a bite I'd have to agree.

Fatamorgana: The best gelato. This spot was recommended to me by Lily from Kale and Caramel, and Sherrie from With Food + Love, and man it did not disappoint. They have so many flavors to choose from, some of which are very traditional, while others are some of the most unique flavors I have ever heard of.   


     John and I are so thankful for the incredible experience that Viking Cruises provided us with during our travels with them. This trip was kindly gifted to us and for that we will be forever thankful. 


Baklava

Slightly adapted from The Kitchen’s Table

This recipe for traditional baklava is from The Kitchen’s Table book which is kind of like the official Viking Cruise cookbook. I made this recipe with a few minor changes. I ended up using a 9x13 inch pan, but I’m thinking it might be best to use something smaller like an 8x8 inch square pan since my nut filling didn't stretch too far. The baklava itself was delicious, although I personally thought the amount of syrup used was a bit heavy for my taste but other than that it was great!

5 oz (140 g) unsalted butter, melted

10 ½ oz (300g) whole walnuts or whole shelled pistachios

1 tsp cinnamon

1 package phyllo dough 

For the syrup

8 fl oz (235 ml) water

9 ½ oz (280g) granulated sugar

1 cinnamon stick

4 oz (110g) honey

1 orange, zested

a few tablespoons of chopped pistachios, for garnish


Method

Heat oven to 400°F (200°C), then over low heat gently melt the butter. 

Roughly chop the walnuts or pistachios (I used a mixture of both) then add to a bowl and toss with 1 tsp of cinnamon then set aside. 

Carefully unroll the phyllo dough. Make sure the layers are aligned, then either cut in half, or cut as needed to fit the size pan you are using. Cover the phyllo dough with a wet cloth to stop the layers from drying out.

Brush the bottom and sides of the pan being used with melted butter, then place 2 sheets of pastry into the tin, brushing each thoroughly with butter. Repeat this process until you have 10 sheets layered. 

Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the chopped nut mixture over the 10th layer of phyllo dough, then top with 3 more sheets of pastry and brush with butter between each sheet, then sprinkle with more nuts. Repeat this process until you run out of nuts. This should give you 5 layers of nuts, and 15 layers of phyllo. Once you’ve added the last 3 layers of phyllo, add an additional 3 sheets so that the final layer has 6 sheets of buttered phyllo (so 28 sheets total—10 to begin with, then 15 between nuts, then a final 3). 

*note, if using a 9x13 pan like I did, you may want to sprinkle a little more than 1/2 cup of nuts. If you take this route you'll just end up making less layers, so maybe 3 instead of 5 for example.

Brush the top layer of phyllo dough with butter and using a very sharp knife cut the baklava into either squares or diamonds that are about 2 or 3 square inches in size. Make sure to not only take your time when cutting the baklava, but also be sure to cut all the way through so that the syrup coats everything when you add it after baking.

Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the baklava is golden and crisp.

While the baklava is baking, prepare the syrup. Add the sugar and the water to a saucepan and bring to a boil without stirring for about two minutes, then add the cinnamon, honey, and orange zest. Reduce the heat, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. 

Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately drench with the syrup and sprinkle each slice with a few chopped pistachios. Cool completely before serving. 

Enjoy!

CRANBERRY & APPLE COFFEE CAKE


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     I always like to make something special for Thanksgiving. Years ago, before I started the blog at all, I made an original apple pie recipe for a friends’ Thanksgiving we’d go to every year back when we lived in California. Once I started The Broken Bread, I made a graham cracker crust, marshmallow meringue pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving—and I still think it’s one of the tastiest things I’ve ever made. And now this year, John and I only have a few days between returning from a huge trip abroad and leaving yet again to visit family for the holidays, so I developed a recipe that’s delicious but quick. Cranberries, apples, and cardamom all tucked under brown butter streusel—how could it go wrong? I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving, and if any of you are looking for a dessert to bring to your family, I hope this cake will do the trick!

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Cranberry & Apple Coffee Cake

Yields 1, 9×2 cake

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Zest of one orange

2 Eggs, room temp

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup +1 tbs buttermilk  

1 cup cranberries

1/2 cup diced green apples

Brown Butter Streusel

4 tbs unsalted butter

¼ cup + 3 tbs  flour

¼ cup + 3 tbs brown sugar

3 tbs granulated sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp kosher salt

Equipment: 1, 9-inch springform pan or a 9 x 2 cake pan, standing/handheld mixer, medium bowl, whisk, zester, spatula, cooling rack


METHOD

To make the streusel, add the butter to a small saucepan or skillet and melt over medium heat. Once melted, continue cooking the butter until it appears medium-brown in color and has a nutty scent, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a small bowl; let cool to room temperature.

While the butter is cooling, in a medium bowl whisk together the flour, both sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Once combined, pour in the cooled browned butter and stir until combined.

If you want to form a larger crumble, simple squeeze portions of the streusel in your palm and crumble with your fingertips until desired consistency is reached.

To make the cake, set rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 350F°. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of the cake pan.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Add the sugar and orange zest to the bowl of a standing mixer. Rub the orange zest into the sugar until fragrant and slightly orange in color. Add the butter to the sugar and with a paddle attachment beat until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.

Add in the eggs one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla extract.

With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk in three additions beginning and ending with the flour. Once the flour has just combined, add the cranberries and the apples, and gently mix a few times to incorporate the fruit.

Pour batter into the cake pan and top with streusel. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then release the sides of the pan and allow it to cool completely before serving. If you are using a traditional 9x2 cake pan, allow the cake to almost cool completely before removing. Once cool, loosen the sides, then place a flat plate or cutting board over the top and flip the pan to release the cake. Place another plate or cutting board on the bottom of the cake and flip back over.

Enjoy!

CUMIN SPICED CAULIFLOWER STEAKS


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     Aziz Ansari has a hilarious bit in his Madison Square Garden show from a couple years back where he plays on the fact that meat, as a general culinary category, just absolutely owns vegetables—no competition. He compares the two like different approaches to basketball: vegetables are like a child throwing up a weak underhand shot and missing the hoop entirely while meats are like an NBA star soaring into a slam dunk. And the joke’s not just funny because of Ansari’s crazy mannerisms and eccentric delivery, but because he’s just so right

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     Now accordingly, it would seem that a vegetable like cauliflower would inevitably bear the brunt of this joke—in fact, it’s literally Ansari’s first example. But perhaps not so fast. I’ve always thought that cauliflower’s plain flavor was meant to be more like a blank canvas than like a tasteless substance. And let me tell you: the work of art that this recipe brings out of this otherwise seemingly boring vegetable is certainly an exciting exception to Ansari’s poking fun. 

     I decided to take a Mediterranean route, which happens to be just about my favorite kind of food in the world, and it simply took cauliflower to new heights. Once I tossed in olive oil, lemon, chili flakes, a crack of black pepper, and a load of cumin and coriander, I had a spicy, flavorful beginning to a piercing and aromatic dish. And then when I made a tzatziki-inspired, mint-laced yogurt sauce, this dish became something else entirely. It has distinctive spices, biting flavors, creamy textures, and an all-around delightful delivery. Meat had a become a mere equal at this point.

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     This whole experience was only made better with with La Crema’s 2015 Monterey Chardonnay. It’s heavy on tropical fruit and citrus, which complements the dish’s savory flavors and rich acidity. It also ends with a buttery oakiness, which when done well in a chardonnay is really something to relish. So I urge you to put this dish to the test—can vegetables really measure up? Follow the recipe below to find out how big of a “yes” there is in store for you. 

     Head over to La Crema's blog now to get the recipe for this plate of cauliflower goodness.

     This is a sponsored post and, as always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread.

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Peanut butter tart


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About a week ago I made John and I this super simple peanut butter tart. After I received a few messages asking for the recipe, I'd thought why not share it. This is such a simple recipe, plus if find yourself craving a little something salty and sweet, this sweet little tart is just what you need.

This isn't a crazy and exciting recipe, but man it sure does taste damn good. This tart is based of they ever popular peanut butter pie, but I made it to fit my personal taste, which means I covered it in a silky smooth chocolate ganache. Im my opinion, this tart has the perfect ratio of chocolate to peanut butter, making each bite pure bliss. 

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Enjoy!


Peanut Butter Tart

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers

6 tbs unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup + 2 tbs creamy peanut butter

4 oz cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup + 1 tbs powdered sugar

1 cup whipped cream (1/2 cup of heavy cream pre-whipping)

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tbs unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

maldon sea sal flakes, for sprinkling

Equipment: 9.5 x 1 inch tart pan/quiche pan, medium bowl, standing mixer, spatula, baking sheet, small bowl, small saucepan


Method

Begin by making the crust. Heat oven to 350 F°

In a medium bowl mix the ground graham crackers and melted butter together until combined. If the mixture feels a bit dry, go ahead and add one more tablespoon of melted butter.

Pour the mixture into the tart pan and use your fingers to evenly press it along the base and up the sides of the pan. Make sure to press firmly along the inner creases as to make a little extra room for all that yummy filling. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and fragrant, 8-10 minutes; remove from oven and set aside.

While the crust is baking, place the cream cheese and the peanut butter in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment until smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar until fully combined. 

Using a spatula, add a little bit (about 1/4 cup) of the whipped cream to the peanut butter and mix it in to help lighten the filling. Once combined, add the remaining whipped cream and gently fold it in until just combined.

Add the peanut butter filling into the graham cracker crust once it has cooled. Smooth out the top with a spatula; set aside.

Add the chopped chocolate to a smallish bowl. Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, immediately remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Add the cubes of butter and the vanilla extract, and let everything sit undisturbed for about 3-4 minutes so that the chocolate can slowly melt. Begin whisking the chocolate until a smooth and shiny ganache forms, then pour directly on top of the peanut butter filling. * If the chocolate doesn't fully melt, you can always set the bowl over a saucepan filled gently simmering water to help melt the rest of the chocolate. Just keep whisking until a smooth ganache forms.

Use a spatula, or an offset spatula to smooth out the chocolate, then place the tart into the fridge for the ganache to firm up. Once firm, remove the tart from the pan, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and enjoy!

 

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, two ways


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It feels as though fall has immediately come to Seattle in full force. Evergreen trees have taken on shades of maroon and orange in the course of mere days, and the climate is diving at a rapid rate. Hard to think of a better excuse to similarly dive right into the comfort food this season is so well known for. And while heavy comfort food is coming later next month for Thanksgiving, this stuffed sweet potato is more like a transitionary dish instead of full comfort—it embraces the season but in a lighter, brighter mode.

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These chanterelles are truly special mushrooms. These uniquely shaped, golden-hued gems have been available at my local farmer’s market, and in my mind seemed to be the perfect candidate to saute and stuff into a baked sweet potato. I combined them with butter, leeks, and fresh thyme, which really produces a wonderful result. And once stuffed into a sweet potato and garnished with crumbled goat cheese, it all suddenly becomes a flavorful, full-fledged meal. Be sure to head over to La Crema’s blog to get the full recipe.

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Now I ended up loving this stuffed chanterelle sweet potato so much that I thought it would be fun to create a meat-focused version as well. Chorizo was my protein of choice, with a little added chard to cut through the saltiness of the meat—plus it’s always nice to add a little extra green into the mix. This is a great version of the dish to make if you are short on time and really like meals that mix sweetness and saltiness in an interesting way.

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I went with La Crema’s 2015 Monterey Pinot Noir as the perfect wine pairing for this dish, since it complements all the components so well. It’s spicy, earthy, oaky, and fruity, and with each sip it just gets better and better.


Chorizo Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

4 medium sweet potatoes

1 lb chorizo

2 cups roughly chopped chard leaves

sour cream, for garnish

 


Method


Heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Pierce each potato several times with a fork then place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the potatoes until tender, this can take anywhere from 45 min to 1 hr. Remove baking sheet from oven and set aside.

Add the chorizo to a large skillet set over medium heat and cook until meat is fully cooked through. Add the chard and cook for about 1 minute, then remove the pan from heat. The residual heat from the meat and pan will continue to wilt the chard, so just keep stirring a few times until the chard has wilted.

Slice each potato lengthwise and use a fork to fluff up the flesh. Divide the chorizo amongst the sweet potatoes and garnish with a little bit of sour cream. Enjoy right away!

 

Exploring Cordova, Alaska


     Visiting Alaska has always only been the stuff of dreams—I’ve always wanted to go, but never really thought I ever would. That is until my luck recently changed courtesy of the wonderful people at Copper River Salmon. I was invited to visit lovely Cordova to explore all things salmon with my friends Alana, Molly, Nik, and Gerry.

     Cordova is a quaint little fishing town, surrounded on every front by startling natural beauty. It’s seated near the mouth of the Copper River east of Prince William sound and is home to only around 2,000 people. And while I expected Cordova to be a typical fishing town, since 80% of the local businesses are supported by Copper River commercial fishing, something about this town really surprised me.

     The commercial fishing of salmon in Cordova is much more than a merely industrial activity concerned with harvest and sale—it’s something much bigger than that. In short, it’s a way of life. For the community congregated at the head of Copper River, fishing salmon is that which simply makes life possible. The community is what it is and the families are what they are because salmon fishing provides a responsible industrial infrastructure within which they exist. And more importantly, salmon fishing is beautifully interweaved into their culture. This is palpably clear. Every wife cooks up the most opulent of salmon dishes each evening afresh. Every child, presented with a platter of filets, welcomes the familiar aroma of their freshwater friends. I mean, even every dog drools in Pavlonion delight over the mere scent of this wondrous fish. All of life, for everyone, both stands upon and takes joy in the process of gathering up and preparing these amazing creatures for their culinary destinies.

     One reason this is the case is because the people of Cordova treat salmon like a gift they are to steward well. They’re thankful for the salmon, and therefore want to prioritize intentionality and sustainability in their fishing. For instance, a biologist we met named Shane told us about his job in methodically calculating the number of fish that swim through the river each season. His team does this to prevent overfishing and ruining the natural salmon habitat, and this way each fisherman only harvests a particular number of fish so as to ensure that the ecosystem remains in healthy balance. Each individual really cares about each and every Sockeye, King, and Coho—they really do care about this natural system from which their community can benefit.

     Now of course I was already a fan a salmon prior to this trip, but there’s nothing like tasting Copper River Salmon right at the source. I can honestly say that I haven’t had a better fish. The quality, flavor, and texture is just unreal. We actually were able to watch the filleting process a few times, so as you can see from the pictures the color of this fish is simply otherworldly. This salmon is incomparably rich, buttery, and unique—you have to get your hands on some.

     So overall, I’d say this trip was pretty incredible. Not only were there amazing experiences like flying over the frosty Alaskan landscape in a seaplane and enjoying fresh salmon and s'mores at the foot of glacier, but I also got to meet so many incredible women and men that reminded me how to love and respect what I do. They persuaded me that having a posture of thankfulness and stewardship is one of the best possible ways to approach your work, and especially in the case of Copper River Salmon, the result speaks for itself.

Pumpkin Spice Cake


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My sweet husband John has real soft spot for pumpkin bread, so as a little surprise I made a cake version of his favorite fall-time treat. John's mother has been making him pumpkin bread every year for long as he can remember, and whether he was living at home or in another city, his sweet mother would still make sure that her son got his pumpkin bread. Since we currently live in a different state than John's parents it's been less likely that he gets his pumpkin bread fix, so I thought I could help fill the void with this cake.

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This is a very traditional pumpkin cake, one filled with just the right amount of spices. The one unique aspect that you may find is that I call for pumpkin seed oil in this recipe. This is a relatively new type of oil to me, but I liked using it in this cake because of it's deep nutty flavor which is detectable in each bite. The flavor is prominent, so if you don't want to commit to adding this type of oil you can either use half pumpkin seed and half vegetable oil so that you get some of that nutty flavor. Or, you can omit the pumpkin seed oil all together and use all vegetable oil—the choice is yours.

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This cake is fragrant and moist, and even though it isn't his mother’s recipe, John couldn't help but smile a first bite. It's times like these that I remember how powerful food can be—I love how it can connect us. For even though John surely longs for some of his mother’s pumpkin bread, at least a slice of my cake can bring him a little bit of love by transforming an old memory into a present reality.


Pumpkin Spice Cake

Adapted from Epicurious  

3/4 cup (90g) all purpose flour

3/4 cup (85g) whole wheat flour 

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice 

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ginger

7 oz pumpkin puree, about half a can

1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (53g) packed brown dark brown sugar

1/2 cup + 2 tbs pumpkin seed oil or vegetable oil 

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish With

sweetened whipped cream

1 orange, preferable organic

1 basket fresh figs

chopped pecans


Method

Equipment: one large and one medium bowl,1 9-inch cake pan, microplane zester

Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the cake pan with a bit of butter, or with some non-stick spray; set aside.

In the medium bowl whisk together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, allspice, ginger; set aside.

In a large bowl add both sugars and the peptia oil, and whisk together until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and vanilla until combined. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing with a spatula or spoon until all the flour has been incorporated. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for about 15 minutes before removing. Place the cake on a rack to cool completely. Serve each slice with quartered figs, pecans, a dollop of whipped cream, and a bit of fresh orange zest.

Enjoy!!

 

Blistered Tomato Pasta


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     John and I are going to Italy next month which, for the cuisine alone, will be extremely special for us. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to make a summer-inspired Italian dish that placed tomatoes, the gems of summer, at the forefront.

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     As John and I perused the tomato section at our market, I started sharing my idea for this pasta and how I wanted to blister some small heirlooms or something. And as we walked passed a grocer, he began telling us, without turning around or lifting his eyes from his task of sorting vegetables, that his new batch of sun gold tomatoes were the perfect candidate for the pasta I was describing. He encouraged us to taste a couple and we immediately fell in love with their astonishingly and unexpectedly bright and juicy flavor. It was then that I knew I was on to something.

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     When it came around to putting the pasta together, everything came together so well. Blistering the tomatoes magnifies their flavor and, mixed with some olive oil, coats the pasta to the perfect extent. I incorporated garlic and chili flakes to provide a spicy contrast to the sweetness of the tomatoes. The thyme and garlic breadcrumbs not only provide more dynamic texture, but also a nice herbaceous aroma. Parmesan-reggiano’s distinctive, sharp, and nutty taste completes the dish very well.

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     I landed on La Crema’s 2015 Monterey Pinot Noir as the ideal complement to this pasta, with its notes of cherry, orange, and rhubarb bringing a welcomed tangy and citrusy aspect to the overall experience. Head over to La Crema’s blog for the full recipe.

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     Thank you for supporting the brands the help The Broken Bread thrive. This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Easy Carrot Cake


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     It was just over a year ago when I first met Kate, from Cookie and Kate. At the time we were both in Vermont exploring all things cheese with Vermont Creamery. In between eating our weight in cheese, we got the chance to chat about her book that would be coming out in the next year, and now here it is! I've known about Kate's blog since before I even started blogging so it's a real treat to finally have her book in my kitchen.

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    Kate's book, Love Real Food is a collection of beautiful, simple, and vibrant dishes that range from snacks, to deserts, to full meals. I have already made a few dishes from her book with great success and this carrot cake is proof of that.

     Carrot cake and I go way back. It's actually one of the first cakes I remember liking when I was little. As soon as I found this recipe in her book, I knew I had to share it with you guys. This cake is absolutely filled with carrots, about a pound of them to be exact. Also, whole wheat flour and maple syrup makes this cake a little more wholesome than most carrot cakes I have enjoyed in the past. 

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     This cake comes together with little effort and tastes like a dream! I made two super small changes to Kate's recipe: 1) I left out the walnuts and saved them for a garnish (my husband is allergic to nuts, so as a garnish I was able to keep them off a slice for him) and 2) I added raisins to the batter. It's so funny, I hardly ever use raisins in my baked goods, but all the carrots cakes I've enjoyed in the past have had them so I couldn't resist adding a few. 

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Easy Carrot Cake

Barely adapted via Love Real Food

1/2 cup +1/4 cup +2 tbs whole wheat flour (you can also use all wheat flour for this recipe)

1/2 cup +1/4 cup +2 tbs all purpose flour

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 pound carrots, peeled and grated (about 3 cups)

1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts

4 oz raisins

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 large eggs, preferably room temp

1 cup plain greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces room temp cream cheese

2 tbs unsalted butter, at room temp

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment: 1 large, 1 medium bowl, handheld or standing mixer, 9x9 baking dish


Method

To make the cake, heat over to 425°F. Grease a 9x9-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the grated carrots, raisins (if using) and walnuts, stirring a few times to combine.

In the medium bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and oil of choice. Whisk in the eggs, once smooth add the yogurt and vanilla and continue whisking until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a big spoon or spatula until just combined (a few lumps are okay). Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven. Bake the cake until the center is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 26-28 min. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the cream cheese frosting , place the butter and the cream cheese and beat until fully blended. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, then continue beating until a creamy frosting is achieved. 

Spread all of that yummy frosting all over the cake once it has cooled and enjoy!

 

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Plum Bellini


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      Stone fruit is everywhere and after last week's trip to the market I ended up with a pretty nice haul of the most beautiful plums.

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     Since I had so many plums, I decided to make a cocktail with them. I have really been enjoying prosecco lately so I created a drink inspired by the oh-so-classic peach belinni. For this drink, I switched out peaches for plums, puréed them, and paired them with just the right amount of procescco. And with my trusty Wolf Gourmet Blender, I put one of these drinks together in no time.

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     The vibrant color of this puree is matched by its excellent and refreshing taste—perfect for these final sunny days we have coming our way. To get the recipe, head over to the Wolf Gourmet blog so you can make some of these plum belinnis while summer is still here.

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     Thank you for supporting the brands the help The Broken Bread thrive. This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Summer Zucchini Salad


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     Summer is nearly come and gone in Seattle. And what we’ve lacked in hikes and camping trips we’ve made up in countless trips to patio-laden breweries, open-air restaurants, and forest-saturated parks. The sun indeed still shines, but the brisk breeze of fall is in the evening air and we know the season’s turn is upon us. 

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     In these final summer days I’m always coming up with ways to make the most of it—and this zucchini salad simply won’t quit. This recipe is actually much like a pasta salad with zucchini taking the traditional place of noodles. This is a great way to capitalize on incredible seasonal produce while imparting a refreshing taste and texture. Avocado comes alongside for a buttery layer, while cucumber keeps things crisp. Corn and feta lend a sweet and salty dynamic while a lemon-based dressing wraps everything up with a pleasant bite. It’s a straightforward salad, but it’s so good. 

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     The flavors of this salad are satisfyingly complemented by La Crema’s 2015 Monterey Chardonnay. It’s oakey and tropical with some refreshing citrus and a textured bite akin to crisp carbonation. It ends with a touch of spice that works very well with the salad’s lemon dressing. Don’t let summer die—fetch some produce at your farmer’s market and keep it alive. Be sure to head over to La Crema's blog to check out my recipe for this Summer Zucchini Salad.

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      Thank you so much for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread. This is a sponsored post, and as always, all opinions are my own.

Comté Cheese


     Comté Cheese: perhaps a familiar, household name for some of you, perhaps merely the title of an exotic dairy varietal for others.

     Whatever the case, Comté cheese deserves to be known and enjoyed. John and I recently had the chance to visit the Comté region of France to enjoy a guided tour of their cheese production process, and it was exhilarating. Our main guide, Jean-Louis, took a small group of us all around the region, introducing us to the culture and techniques of Comté cheese.

     Since I’ve started this blog I have had incredible opportunities to learn the history, story, and culture of some of my favorite companies. And I must admit that though I left on this trip with only a general knowledge of Comté, I now have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for everyone that has made Comté what it is today.

     First of all, Comté’s philosophy of work and craftsmanship is astounding, and it puts into practice principles that anyone from any field of work could respect. It all begins with a heart of intentionality and sincere passion. One of the farmers we met, an eccentric, boisterous individual nicknamed Taz, put it perfectly: “All of us at Comté are always asking ourselves, ‘why do we wake up in the morning? Why do we do what we do?’” Such questions accurately express what’s at the heart of Comté’s commitment to excellence, to quality, and to community and legacy. They wake up in the morning because they’re coming together with families and with whole towns and regions continuing a centuries-old tradition of crafting amazing, sustaining cheese. They’re honoring and cultivating their ecosystems, they're stewarding their livestock and landscape, they're providing for families and communities, and what they make is simply a piece of art (especially delicious art!).

     Here are some examples of what this philosophy look like in action. Comté cheese insists upon the importance of cultivating the natural yield of the landscape and ecosystem, and they refer to this as “terroir.” Terroir is the catch-all term for a region’s natural environment and habitat in combination with specific practices that draw out regional characteristics to impart a unique quality to the final product. And so terroir is just as rightly applied to wine or chocolate or coffee or scotch as it is to cheese. But many companies try to use external chemicals, ingredients, additives, and extreme practices to squeeze and manipulate the yields of many different regions and habitats into a single taste-profile for consistency and marketability. Comté cheese totally eschews this notion, avoiding all additives and any unnatural ingredient or processes. They instead respect the land and the yield and proceed to produce the best possible cheese that most clearly reflects the source from which it came.

     Accordingly, we saw these convictions turn up in everyday practices, whether we were visiting the farms, the cheese-making facilities, or the maturing cellars. On the farms, Comté takes great care to ensure that the hay in their region is the highest quality, and that the flowers and vegetation that come along with it are protected and included. They only use two types of cows whose milk is amazing for making cheese–the Montbeliard and French Simmental. They refuse to use any machines for milking the cows, they only milk them by hand, and they only milk them twice a day. This ensures that their cows remain comfortable, healthy, and happy.

     At the cheese-making facilities, Comté refuses to use any additives or added chemicals in the process of turning the milk into cheese. They keep very clean conditions, yet also sustain a controlled environment conducive to the production of natural bacteria that are vital to the cheese-making process. They call their facilities “Fruitières” because this is where the reap the “fruit of their labor”—it’s all linked to the mindset of honoring a legacy of working hard and providing for those around you. Pretty inspiring if you ask me. 

     A maturing cellar for Comté cheese is called an “affineur” and they meticulously age their wheels in a precisely conditioned environment. The cellars are essentially giant refrigerators, some housing tens of thousands of wheels at the perfect temperature and level of humidity. Comté ages their wheels exclusively on spruce boards for a minimum of 4 months but for no real maximum. While exploring one cellar, we had the chance to taste a cheese aged for over 3 years—we’ll likely never taste a better or older cheese for the rest of our lives. 

     All of this leads to an astounding creation. Each wheel of Comté is so responsibly made to reflect the terroir of its French domain that it’s actually impossible to make the same wheel twice. Every wheel is a distinct, unique, and unrepeatable expression of Comté cheese. Now what I said might sound strange—how could you run a business without any expected consistency from your product? How could you even make this marketable? Well first, every wheel always features the signature Comté characteristics: they all play with the flavors of onions, garlic, nuts, butter, salt, and potato. It’s just that each of these can come in dozens of variations. They can lean more fruity, vegetative, lactic, spicy, roasted, and more—creating hundreds of possible combinations. Second, when someone buys a piece of Comté cheese, it’s less an act of placing their money in a product and more an act of placing their trust in a set of creators. Whatever Comté comes up with, you can be confident that it will be absolutely excellent. 

     So, clearly, there’s a lot that goes into making Comté cheese! But I share this because it shows how, at every stage, Comté applies its deepest convictions about what makes their work meaningful. Questions like “why do we wake up in the morning” are obviously high-flown, and their answers abstract. But Comté is special because they apply their philosophical perspectives every single moment of every day. Think about how truly impressive that is. How many of us can claim the same about our lives? Do we really know—deep down—why we wake up in the morning? And even if we have an answer, how successfully do we apply it to our lives? Do our convictions about why our lives are meaningful really find concrete expressions in our daily tasks? That’s why I find Comté so inspiring. It’s difficult for us as separate individuals just to figure out how to live our lives like this—but Comté has figured out how to do this with thousands of people together all at once. That’s what makes Comté about so much more than cheese, and it’s what made our trip to their beautiful region so truly special. 

     Thank you to the Comté Cheese association for sending  John and I on this magical trip! John and I were not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. 

Lemon & Red Currant Yogurt Loaf


I lived in Southern California for 20+ years, and I can honestly say that I can't remember ever seeing red currants at any of my local markets. Now that I think about it, this fact doesn't come as a huge shock considering where I grew up. Anyway, once I moved to WA, come summer, currants are out and about at many of my favorite markets. I know this won't be the case for everyone, but if you're interested in trying these berries keep your eyes peeled, or simply ask your produce person and hopefully you'll be able to snag a least one small container—I promise they are worth it.

Now if you live in the states and you hear someone say the word "currants," you might immediately think of Zante currants, those widely available little dried grapes. But these currants are a totally different thing. These berries are not a grape at all, instead they are a flowering shrub which you can find in various hues like black, red, or white (translucent). These tiny berries are quite tart on their own, which I think makes them quite versatile, so they can easily be folded into a cake, turned into a jam, or even added to a savory dish.

 

Since my experience with currants is super limited I wanted to use them in a familiar baked treat, like this lemon loaf. I am a huge fan of sweets, but I prefer my treats to be not overly sweet. I have been eyeing this lemon loaf from HowSweetEats for a while and I thought the addition of some red currants would add a little contrasting tartness to such an already saccharine treat. Plus, I am a sucker for a good lemon loaf, so making this was a no brainer.

This lemon loaf is incredibly moist and fragrant. The lemon zest and currants worked really well together. I only added a cup of red currants, but I actually wish I would have added just a bit more. I am not sure how much longer currants will be available in my neck of the woods, but I am hoping to grab just a few more for an upcoming recipe so stay tuned for more ideas on how to use currants.


Lemon & Red Currant Yogurt Loaf

Barely adapted from HowSweetEats

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain yogurt

3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling

3 large eggs

zest of two lemons

2 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup red currants

Equipment: 1 9x5'' loaf pan, parchment paper, whisk, microplane zester, cooling rack


Method

Heat the oven to 350°F. Light grease the loaf pan and line with a piece of parchment paper. Lay the piece of parchment across the width of the pan, letting a bit hang over.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. In a large bowl, add the sugar and the lemon zest. Rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers until fragrant. Add the yogurt and whisk until combined. Then whisk in the egg, and vanilla extract until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and gently mix until combined. Add the oil to the bowl, and use a spatula to fold into the batter. Once the oil is just incorporated, add the red currants and fold into the batter just 2-3 times. 

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with 1-2 tbs of sugar. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set and a toothpick come out clean when inserted in to the middle of the loaf.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, then remove from the pan using the excess parchment flaps and set on a cooling rack to cool. Garnish with some extra currants and serve once cooled.  

RockFish Tacos & mango pico de gallo


Summer in Seattle is such a magical time, and after having returned home from Europe I am more than ready to start cooking up some of my favorite summertime dishes. And one of these is fish tacos—which have this unique ability to instantaneously create a relaxing summer vibe. There’s something about warm corn tortillas, coastal sea fair, and bursts of citrus that puts you in a laid back mood.

While some fish taco recipes call for tilapia or salmon, I like to use rockfish or mahi mahi for their mild sweet flavor and flaky texture. This makes them great for tacos, since they’ll impart a wonderful flavor while allowing your seasoning to shine through and your toppings to contribute fresh tastes. I wanted to saturate the fish in a marinade to let all the flavors soak in—oil, lime, spices, and chili powder really transform this fish into something delicious. I also chose to create mango salsa for a layer of juicy sweetness and added some thinly-sliced cabbage for a crunchy, textured finish.

I typically lean more towards red wine throughout the year, but I must say that a glass of this pinot gris on a hot day is beyond refreshing. Plus, the bright, pleasant flavors of these fish tacos really find a comfortable companion in a glass of La Crema’s 2016 Pinot Gris. This wine complements the sweetness of this dish with hints of pear and nectarine, but also features a welcomed citrusy bite finishing with a lemony acidity.

Be sure to head to La Crema's blog to get the recipe for these tacos and refreshing mango pico de gallo.

Thank you so much for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread. This is a sponsored post, and as always, all opinions are my own.

Blackberry-ginger morning smoothie


Hello and happy Monday! If you follow me on instagram you likely already know that John and I have just returned from our trip abroad. Our time in Europe was amazing—the people, the food, the adventure of it all was truly magical. 

I am in the process of putting together a travel post or two that I hope to post soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share this beautiful summer smoothie that I have been sipping on since I've been back. As much as I loved indulging in all things butter-based in Europe, I must say it feels really good to be back in my kitchen where I can whip up a healthy and easy meal or snack. This smoothie is pretty simple, but it tastes so good since peaches and blackberries are in season now. 

Now I'm off to make one of these right now—I just can't stop drinking it! Hope you have a lovely week.

xxx


Blackberry-Ginger Morning Smoothie

Yeilds 2 cups 

1 cup coconut milk or water

8 large blackberries

1/2 cup frozen peaches

1 thin slice of ginger, about the size of a quarter

1/2 frozen banana

1/2 tsp bee pollen, more to garnish

1 tsp maca powder

small handful of ice

coconut chips, to garnish

honey or agave to sweeten, if needed


Method

Place all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender in the order listed and blend until smooth and creamy. If you prefer a thinner smoothie simply add a little extra liquid until desired texture is obtained.

Enjoy!!

Cardamom Poached Apricots


Since the arrival summer I have found that not only have my surroundings change (flowers and new produce everywhere) but the way I approach food has as well. I believe that warm summer days call for meals and treats that take little to no effort, but that nevertheless still satisfy. Stone fruits, tomatoes, watermelons, berries—this season yields much of my very favorite fruits and vegetables. In keeping things simple, I am always on the lookout for new ways to enjoy seasonal produce, like these gorgeous apricots I picked up last week. When I bought them John and I only had a few days before our trip to Europe (which we are currently on) and I wanted to put these apricots to good use before we left.

Poaching these apricots seemed to be the best way for me to use all of this beautiful fruit without having to destroy my kitchen. Also, having these poached apricots on hand proved to be the perfect thing because they ended up being my last meal before we left for the airport: a bowl of cottage cheese topped with these delicious apricots. Simple, yet delicious!

The syrup for these apricots isn't overly sweet, which is something I prefer. I really like how a little tartness comes through from the skin of the apricots, although if you want something a little sweeter, you could always use more sugar. Spoon these yummy apricots over yogurt, ice cream, or eat them on their own—there's really is no wrong way to eat these.


John and I are currently traveling through Europe right now, so be sure to check out my Instagram stories to take a peek of the places we visit.


Cardamom Poached Apricots

adapted from Epicurious

1/2 vanilla bean                                                                                                                   1 1/4 cups water                                                                                                             3/4 cup dark brown sugar                                                                                                   2 (4- by 1-inch) fresh lemon strips                                                                                       1/8 teaspoon salt 6 cardamom pods, smashed                                                                  pinch kosher salt                                                                                                                 1 pound firm-ripe fresh apricots, washed, halved lengthwise and pitted 

Equipment: Large saucepan, knife, sealable jar for storage


Method

Carefully, split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out its seeds. Add the seeds and the pod to the saucepan, along with the water, sugar, lemon strips, cardamom pods, and salt. Set the saucepan over high heat and bring everything to a boil, uncovered, and let boil for 1 minute.

Add apricots to the saucepan, then adjust the heat so the liquid is at a bare simmer. Poach the apricots, turning over once, until fruit they are tender but still holds its shape and skins are still intact. This can take anywhere from 3-6 minutes, so keep a close eye and test with a knife once you think they are ready.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the apricots to a jar, or large bowl. Bring the syrup to a heavy simmer and let the syrup reduce for an additional 6-7 minutes. Strain the syrup and pour into the jar, or bowl holding the apricots. If you like you can add the vanilla bean pod to the jar, or bowl, but you can also dicard it at this point.

 Let the apricots and cool to room temperature before using. Store in the fridge in a sealable jar for up to about 5 days or so. 

    Steak Sandwich With Basil Mayo


    One of the reasons I’m so thankful to live in Seattle is not only because of its generally great cuisine, but specifically because of it’s fantastic selection of sandwich shops. Whether you want Southern BBQ pulled pork, a Mexican Torta, a Vietnamese Banh Mi, or anything else you can imagine, Seattle has restaurants, delis, and food trucks serving the best of the best. And in a city so full of great sandwiches, I thought why not become part of the fun?

    Pretty soon I was inspired, and I set out to explore some unfamiliar territory—I decided to craft a delicious steak sandwich. I thought this would be fun since steak isn’t what I usually gravitate towards unless it’s in a burrito or a fine cut at a similarly fine dinner.

    After a few attempts a truly tasty meal came together: thin-sliced, high-quality top sirloin, an artisan loaf, the perfect amount of cheese, a fennel and cabbage slaw, a slathering of herbal, creamy basil mayo, a few jalapeños, and pickled onions for a biting vinegar finish.

    Having nailed my sandwich, I wanted to find something nice to drink alongside it. I turned to La Crema’s ever-impressive collection and found their Monterey Pinot Noir to be a perfect fit. It begins with a toasty mixture of nutmeg and pepper, moving into tart fruits and pleasantly bitter citrus, with a refreshing splash of vanilla and a finish blending cocoa with coffee. It’s utterly delightful on its own and complements this sandwich in a dynamic and surprising way. Be sure to head over to La Crema's blog to get the full recipe for this tasty sandwhich.


    Thank you SO much for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread. This is a sponsored post, and as always, all opinions are my won.


    Quick Pickled Onions

    adapted from the kitchn

    1 large, sealable jar

    3 cups water, boiling water

    1 red onion, thinly sliced in 1/4 inch thick rings

    1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

    1 tbs granulated sugar

    1 bay leaf

    2 sprigs fresh thyme

    2 tsp kosher salt

    1 clove garlic, cut in half


    Method

    Add the vinegar, sugar, and salt into the jar that will hold the onions, and stir everything together until dissolved.

    Par-blanch the onion by placing the onion slices in a fine mesh sieve, then slowly pour the boiling water over them. Let the onions drain, then add to the jar. Add the bay leaf, thyme sprigs, and garlic clove, and stir everything together to help distribute the flavorings.

    Let the onions sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes, but a few hours is usually best. Store the jar in the refrigerator. These pickled onions are best used within a week, but can last a little longer.

    Spring Pea & Ramp Soup


    Today, I would like to introduce you to a vegetable you’ve likely never heard of before: the rare but wonderful ramp. You wouldn’t believe how much trouble I had tracking down some of these beauties this past week. I kept calling produce department after produce department, and, bless their hearts, hardly anyone I spoke with could even make out what I was asking for! Talk about rare.

    Ramps are essentially like a cross between an onion and a leek–their bite and sting lends a unique flavor matched only by their scarcity. Many describe them as a combination of the sweetness of leeks with the spice of garlic, and I’d have to agree. Part of what makes them so special is that they're the quintessential spring vegetable—first to arrive and first to go. And in looking for a meal in which to use these, I decided to make a special version of a classic pea soup.

    For this pea soup, I brought together the pungent, surprising flavor of the ramps with peas and fresh herbs to complement the soup’s mild creamy sweetness. I have to thank Laura Wright for her simple asparagus soup for being the inspiration on how to prepare these ramps in my recipe.

    Le Creuset was kind enough to send me one of their most beautiful pieces for this recipe–their fleur cocotte. This beautifully-cast, elegant vessel features delicate features and lovely embossed flowers. John and I have been enjoying an unexpected spotty streak of sun in Seattle for the past few weeks of which we can’t get enough, so using this floral-designed, clean, matte-white cocotte seemed so appropriate! Le Creuset is also giving me another one of these cocottes to give away to you. Head over to my Instagram to enter for a chance to win!

    Thank you for supporting the brands the support The Broken Bread. This is a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.


    Spring Pea and Ramp Soup

     

    Yields 5 cups

    1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter

    8 oz ramps cleaned, and white bulbs + greens divided

    1 lb 3 ½ cups peas

    3 cups stock, plus a little extra if needed

    ¼ cup loosely packed parsley

    1/3 loosely packed mint

    2 tsp Lemon juice, or more to taste

    salt and pepper to taste

    Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh cracked pepper, and wild onion blooms, if available. Fresh ricotta cheese, or creme fraciche are other garnishes that work well with this soup.


    Method

    Begin by preparing the ramps. Gather all of the bulbs, roughly chop, and set aside. Roughly chop the green tops and set aside as well.

    In a large pot melt 1 ½ tbs of unsalted butter over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped ramp bulbs and cook until tender and lightly browned—about five minutes or so. Add the chopped greens to the pot, and season everything with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the the greens until wilted, about a minute or so.

    Add the chicken stock to the pot and bring everything up to a boil. Once boiling, add the peas and fresh herbs and adjust the heat so that everything comes to a simmer. If using fresh peas, allow them to simmer for about 6 minutes, and only simmer for 2 minutes if using frozen peas.

    Depending on the size of your blender, carefully blend the soup all at once, or in batches until smooth. Return the soup back to the pot and mix in the lemon juice. If a thinner soup is preferred add a little extra chicken stock. Taste the soup and add any additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. Serve the soup hot with a drizzle of oil and with a garnish or fresh onion blossoms, ricotta cheese, or creme fraiche and enjoy!

    Fava Beans, Ricotta & Pancetta On Toast +A GIVEAWAY!!!


    A couple years ago I received an email from an acquisitions editor asking if I’d like to write a book on toast. At the time I didn’t exactly know how I’d pull it off, but over the course of a few weeks I played with the idea of reimagining how we view and consume toast. I dove headlong into developing one hundred seasonal recipes, which really tested the extent of my creative output, but the result was so satisfying. 

    So when Wolf Gourmet wanted to send one of their new four-slice toasters my way, I thought of how nostalgic it would be to make a meal around a slice of toast again. I wanted something spring appropriate, so I started with a layer of homemade ricotta, then piled on freshly blanched fava beans, then topped it with crispy pancetta and a healthy amount of pecorino cheese. I haven’t really cooked with fava beans before, so I owe the inspiration for this dish to Joshua McFadden’s new cookbook, Six Seasons. In his book he shares a recipe for fava beans on toast, so I took that idea and put my own spin on it. 

    When writing the introductory sections of my book, I realized that we often don’t focus on the various methods available for toasting bread. You can hold it over an open flame, bake it in the oven, or of course just drop it into your ordinary countertop toaster. However, the Wolf Gourmet four-slice toaster is no ordinary appliance. You can control each pair of slots independently, so you can make toast for yourself with waffles on the side, or a set of bagels and english muffins at the same time. It also features extra-wide slots with self-centering bread guides that allow for both the thickest and thinnest slices (which is a BIG deal for me since I love thick slices of toast). Suffice to say, the toaster worked perfectly for this recipe—it’s hard to imagine a better asset for a meal like this. 

    I've really loved using this toaster SO much that Wolf Gourmet is letting me give away one of these beautiful machines to a lucky one of you! Simply follow the instructions below and good luck! Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on Sunday, May 7th at 12:00 PST. Be sure to head over to my instagram to enter.


    Wolf Gourmet was kind enough to give me a toaster in exchange for my honest review. As always, all opinions are my own. Good luck!!


    Fava Beans, Ricotta & Pancetta on Toast

    Slightly adapted from Six Seasons

    Serves 2

    1 1/4 lbs Fresh Fava Beans in their pods

    1/3 cup fresh ricotta- or make it at home

    1/4 cup diced cooked pancetta

    1 small lemon

    pecorino cheese, for garnish

    fresh cracked pepper, to taste

    unsalted butter, or neutral oil

    two 1/2-inch slices of country bread


    Method

    Shell the fava beans and set aside. Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. Add the fava beans and quickly blanch by letting them cook in the boiling water for 30 seconds, then immediately drain. Rinse the beans under very cold water to stop the cooking process. Using a knife, or your fingers, remove the outer membrane and squeeze out the cooked, fava bean. 

    Using a toaster or a skillet spread a little oil or butter on both sides of the bread and toast until crisp. Divide the ricotta between the two slices of toast. In a small bowl toss the fava beans with the cooked pancetta and divide between both slices. Give each toast a squeeze of lemon, a crack of pepper, and garnish with some pecorino that you can slice or grate over the top. Eat immediately and enjoy!