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Looking for a make-ahead breakfast or brunch recipe? These breakfast fried grits are loaded with sausage, onions and cheddar cheese. (Jump directly to the recipe.)

It’s been like the 1990s are back in my household as of late. It all started when I realized all the bands and artists that I listened to in college were doing reunions and recording new albums or re-releasing 25-year anniversary version of their classic albums. From Liz Phair’s Exile to Guyville to the Breeders and Belly reforming in their classic lineup and releasing new albums, to the third act of Tracey Thorn’s musical career (she’s amazing) my playlist looks like the mix tapes I made back in sophomore year of college. Then I realized TV shows were doing reboots of themselves, from X-Files to Will and Grace to the rumored Mad About You revival (they better bring back Cyndi Lauper and Ursula Buffay). Soon you’ll see me wearing stone washed jeans and flannel shirts (actually I started wearing this exact outfit about two years ago when I started taking ceramics at my community college, so that ship has sailed).

So it only makes sense that I would start revisiting the food from my college. And no, I’m not talking about instant ramen and grilled cheese (though I still have a soft spot for individually wrapped sliced cheese but don’t tell anyone that). I’m talking about the food that I would get post going out to the bars and clubs like waffles, biscuits and gravy, southern style grits and bacon. Total diner food that is so bad for you but also so very good. I don’t eat it much (just like I don’t go out the bars and clubs anymore) but I still have a nostalgia for it.

Then I had my mom over for brunch. I rarely have anyone over because our apartment is tiny. “Entertaining” someone with a meal usually means setting up the card table in the middle of our living room and covering it with a tablecloth I found at Marshall’s. Because we’re fancy like that. But it’s my mom and I had been meaning to having her over for awhile. Making brunch also means making a Brunch menu plan. And thus, I ended up making updated versions of the food from my college days. But better. Because I’m not getting any younger.

One of my favorite dishes that I made included fried grits. They’re adapted from a recipe in the cookbook One Good Dish from David Tanis. His original recipe was inspired by scrapple, a pan fried meat dish found in the Midwest and the East coast. He interpreted it using Italian sausage and polenta. I took it back to its breakfast roots, using stone ground grits and breakfast sausage. It’s my new favorite breakfast/brunch dish because it is mostly made ahead of time, with a quick pan fry right before serving. Like Tracey Thorn’s latest album Record, it’s a new classic with old school roots.


Pan Fried Grits with Breakfast Sausage

The idea of griddle frying grits isn’t new. You can find it all over the internet and in restaurants and cafes in the South. The hardest part of making this dish is the time in cooking stoneground grits ahead of time. You might be tempted to use instant grits but I implore you to skip them as they have all the flavor of kindergarten paste. You can find stoneground grits at well stocked grocery stores as well as online. It may take longer to make but you’ll be rewarded with actual flavor.

  • 1 cup stoneground grits (not instant – see headnote above)
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 3/4 pound bulk breakfast pork sausage (or remove from casing if necessary)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Dubliner or Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
To finish
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Place the grits, chicken stock, water, salt, pepper and butter in a medium to large pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover, cooking 30 minutes, stirring regularly to make sure the grits aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the milk and continue to cook another 45 minutes, continuing to stir, increasing the frequency of stirring near the end of the cook time as the grits thicken. The grits porridge should be thick in the end, but tender and cooked completely through.
  2. While the grits cook, place the oil in a pan with the garlic and onions. Cook on medium heat until the onions have softened and start to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the breakfast sausage and cook until brown and no pink remains. Set aside to cool.
  3. Once the grits are done cooking, removed from heat. Add the cheese, thyme and the cooked sausage, garlic and onion mixture to the grits. Stir to combine and taste (careful it will still be hot!) then add more salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Lightly spray a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking oil. Pour the grits into the pan and smooth out evenly. Let cool to room temperature then cover with aluminum foil and place in the fridge overnight.
  5. The next morning, invert the pan onto a large cutting board. Cut into 9 square pieces (3 x 3) then cut each square in half into triangles. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet until it starts to shimmer then carefully place half the grits triangles in the pan. Reduce heat to medium then fry until golden brown on one side, then flip over and fry the other side until the same color. Move to a warm plate, cover with aluminum foil to keep warm and repeat with the remaining triangles of grits. Add more oil if the pan looks dry while pan frying

Recipe adapted from David Tanis’ One Good Dish.

The post Breakfast Fried Grits with Sausage, Onion and Cheddar Cheese appeared first on Eat The Love.

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This vegetarian Leek and Bean soup is light enough for an easy summer dish, but hearty enough to serve for a light lunch with a hearty hunk of bread. (Jump directly to the recipe.)

Lately I’ve found myself enjoying lighter meals and dishes. I’m not sure if it is age (I’m older than I look, thanks mom and dad for the good genes) or because of my environment (living in California, you start to appreciate more subtle flavors). But either way, my initial go-to in terms of flavor profiles tends to be BIG and BOLD. So, it’s rather fascinating how I’m slowly mellowing to embrace subtle and slight when it comes to food.

Take for instance a recent soup that I made for brunch. AJ and I had my mom over for brunch last month and she’s a little obsessed with soup. I don’t know if it’s an “older person” thing or if she has recently just discovered soup, but every place we go out to eat, she looks at the soup menu. I don’t make a lot of soup at home, but I knew if she was coming over, she’d want soup.

Most of my go-to soups border on “stoup”, that fine line between hearty soup and thin stew. But as I’ve been diving more and more into my cookbooks, the River Cottage Veg book has become one of my cookbooks that I’ve earmarked and turned to time and again. Though AJ and I are both avid meat eaters (him more than me) I find myself trying to incorporate more and more plant-based dishes into my rotation. And it was in that book, that I found a simple cannellini bean and leek soup.

Most soups that I make are based with chicken stock. I make my own because homemade stock is always better, though I know most folks probably don’t have the luxury of making stock at home. But after making this soup with homemade vegetable stock, I was sold on the virtues of it. Sometime animal stock is a little too rich and a little too heavy (even white chicken stock) to allow for the vegetables to shine through. And this soup is the perfect example. Sure you can use chicken stock as a substitute if that’s all you have and the soup will be great. But if you have vegetable stock, or can make your own then try the soup that way. The leeks and aromatic herbs really shine through.

Leek and Bean Soup (vegetarian and vegan-friendly)

This leek and bean soup is delicately flavored but robust enough to serve as a light lunch with a hearty hunk of bread. You can substitute chicken stock if you aren’t vegetarian but I do recommend a quality vegetable stock even if you eat meat. Vegetable stock allows the subtle flavors of the leek and fresh oregano to shine through. To make it vegan, just omit the butter and increase the olive oil by a tablespoons.

  • 1 large leek (or 2 small leeks)
  • 1/2 medium onion (chopped)
  • 5 medium garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (omit if making vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (increase to 2 tablespoons if making vegan)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf (fresh preferred)
  • 5 cups vegetables stock (homemade preferred but quality store bought works)
  • 2 14- ounce cans drained cannellini or other white beans (about 1 cup dry beans that are cooked)
  • 3 sprigs fresh oregano leaves removed from stem (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
To finish
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. Clean the leek(s) by cutting the leek in half lengthwise, and washing it well, making sure to remove all grit and sand between leaves. Slice the white and light green part of the leek thinly. Dispose or save the dark green part of the leek for another use.
  2. Place the butter (if using), olive oil, sliced leeks, onions, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft and the onions are transparent, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, beans, oregano and half the parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Taste the soup (carefully) and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Remove bay leaf and thyme branches (the thyme leaves will have fallen off). Stir in the remaining parsley.
  4. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top.

Adapted from a recipe in River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

The post Leek and Bean Soup (vegetarian and easily adapted to vegan) appeared first on Eat The Love.

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These Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches have an extra coating of homemade Strawberry Sprinkles which makes them the perfect summer treat! (Jump directly to the recipe.)

This post was sponsored by Clover Sonoma. I was compensated for this post and for developing the recipe. However, all opinions below are completely my own.

Summer is officially here and I for one am SO. EXCITED. I plan on subsisting on a diet of berries, summer stone fruit and ice cream for the next couple of months. True, it’s not a huge shift from my usual diet but when summer hits, I feel like stocking up on ice cream more than I do the rest of the year. So, I’m thrilled to partner with Clover Sonoma with their line of ice creams!

I’ve been a long-time fan of Clover Sonoma, using their milk and dairy products ever since I moved here to San Francisco some 20 years ago. Their third-generation family owned farm is up in Sonoma, about an hour and a half away from San Francisco and I’ve driven by it often. Their ice cream in particular is a favorite of mine with their awesome eleven different flavors. Yeah, I’m that guy that is trying to buy three cartons of different flavors…only to have his significant other make him put two back because we don’t have room in the freezer. My partner is totally the voice of reason.

Of course, I love eating ice cream right out of the carton with a spoon. But when I have the time and the inclination, I also love making stuff with it. Like these brownie ice cream sandwiches with strawberry sprinkle coating. Brownies make for a better ice cream sandwich in my opinion, as they don’t squish the same way cookies tend to do when they are frozen. And because Clover has that perfect creamy texture (because it doesn’t have weird artificial colors, flavors or preservatives), the combination of their sweet cream ice cream, brownie and homemade strawberry coating (with a lot of rainbow sprinkles) is a clear winner.

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches with Homemade Strawberry Sprinkle Coating

These simple one-bowl brownies are designed to be thin and rich and highlight the sweet cream flavor of the ice cream. Homemade strawberry coating not only adds summertime berry flavor and gives the sandwiches a festive fun look but is easy-to-make. However, if you want to skip making the strawberry coating, feel free to just dip the brownie sandwich sides in the sprinkles instead. The sprinkles will stick to the ice cream just fine.

Brownie
  • 4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (115 g)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (115 g or 1 stick)
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar (200 g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon instant coffee (optional but recommended)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (70 g)
  • 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder (sifted after measuring, 25 g)
Strawberry Sprinkle Coating
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil (135 g)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (90 g)
  • 3 cups freeze dried strawberries (1.7 ounces or 35 g (see note below))
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
To assemble
  • 1 1/2 quarts Clover Sonoma Sweet Cream Ice Cream (1 carton or 1.42 Liters)
  • 1 1/2 cups of rainbow sprinkles
  1. Make the brownies by preheating the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9 x 9 pans with cooking oil. Line the bottom and sides of the pans with parchment paper leaving 1-inch overhanging the edges of each pan.
  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Cook on high in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds, until the chocolate and butter have completely melted, stirring between each cooking cycle. It should take about 3 to 4 cycles (1 1/2 to 2 minutes). Don’t overheat the chocolate. It’s better to take the chocolate out when there are still lumps in it, and to stir with a fork, letting the residual heat melt the chocolate than to keep on cooking it.
  3. Add the sugar and stir in with a spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring them in before adding the next one. Stir in the vanilla, instant coffee and salt. Add the cocoa and flour and stir until absorbed into the batter.
  4. Divide the batter into the two prepare pans. If you have a scale, it’s about 310 grams of batter per pan. Smooth the batter in the pan to the edge of the pan (this is where a small offset spatula would come in handy but you can use a butter knife or back of spoon). Bake in the oven for 8 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the brownies comes out clean.
  5. Let the brownies cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then move the pans to the freezer for 15 minutes more. While the brownies are chilling in the freezer, remove the ice cream and let sit on the counter to soften a little bit.
  6. Once the brownies have chilled, take one brownie pan out of the freezer and scoop out the soften ice cream into the pan. Smooth the ice cream out into an even layer. Take the second brownie pan out and lift the brownie out of the pan using the parchment paper. Peel it off the brownie and then place the brownie layer on top of the ice cream firmly.
  7. Place back in the freezer for 1 hour or overnight to let the ice cream firm up.
  8. Right before you are ready to finish the brownie ice cream sandwiches, make the strawberry coating by placing the coconut oil and white chocolate chips in a large glass measuring cup. Cook on high in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds, until the chocolate and coconut oil have completely melted, stirring between each cooking cycle. It should take about 3 to 4 cycles (1 1/2 to 2 minutes). Don’t overheat the chocolate. It’s better to take the chocolate out when there are still lumps in it, and to stir with a fork, letting the residual heat melt the chocolate than to keep on cooking it.
  9. Meanwhile place the freeze-dried strawberries in a blender or food processor. Process until the strawberries are reduced to a powder. Once the coconut oil and white chocolate are melted and completely smooth, pour the liquid into the blender/food processor, add the salt, and blend until a smooth liquid is formed. Pour the liquid back into the glass measuring cup.
  10. Take the brownies ice cream sandwiches out of the freezer and lift the entire pan of brownie and ice cream up and out of the pan using the parchment paper. Move to a cutting board, then place another cutting board on top, and flip the entire brownie ice cream sandwich over. Peel off the parchment paper. Then flip back onto the original cutting board. Cut into 10 rectangles. If, at any point, the ice cream becomes too soft, move the sandwiches to the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to harden the ice cream.
  11. Place the sprinkles in a shallow bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, wax paper or a silicon baking sheet. Take one ice cream sandwich and dip it into the strawberry coating. Then immediately dip it in the sprinkles, adding sprinkles to the coating side. Move the ice cream sandwich to the lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining sandwiches.
  12. Move the ice cream sandwiches back to the freezer and let cool and harden for 30 minutes before serving. Can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Freeze dried strawberries can be found at specialty stores like Trader Joe’s, well stocked supermarkets like Whole Foods and online.

The post Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches [Sponsored Post] appeared first on Eat The Love.

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This sophisticated version of pineapple upside down cake uses fresh grilled pineapple, along with a lime scented cake and a sprinkling of spicy pepper to take it all to the next level! (Jump directly to the recipe.)

San Francisco has been gray and dreary for the past couple of weeks at the end of May, though the sun is finally coming out now that it’s hit June. In Los Angeles, they have a phrase for this weather: May Gray (which is followed by June Gloom). But there have been little peaks of sun here and there. Promises of summer around the corner, to accompany all the brilliant fruit and vegetables bounty that are showing up at the grocery store. It’s easy to eat “seasonal and local” here in San Francisco year-round, but in the summertime it’s easy to eat that way everywhere.

Of course, while the city by the bay is covered in gray clouds, I suddenly found myself suddenly pining for the sun and beach of Hawaii. AJ and I had made a sort of/kind of spontaneous trip there (well, to be honest, we bought the airplane tickets spontaneously on a whim as we found round trip for $350 in October when there was a flash sale). It had been years since we had stepped foot on the island. Though we had high expectations, it lived up to our memory of the tropical paradise, with the natural beauty of the beach, the gorgeous hiking and the amazing food.

If you follow this blog, you probably remember our stay at the Fairmont in Hawaii as well as the recipe that I posted for a Korean-inspired fried calamari. But AJ and I did more than just lounge about the beach and eat tons of amazing food. We drove up to Halakeala to see the sunrise (something everyone should do, as it is utterly magical and there’s no way that a camera can actually capture it properly), hiked the southern part of Halakeala National Park through a bamboo forest up to a waterfall, and drove around West Maui, a part of the island that we really don’t know very well (and really need to explore more).

But really, one of the true highlights of the trip was going on ocean kayak trip to whale watch. It turns out that January was prime whale season, and though we saw a number of whales from the beach, I had reached out to Maui Kayak Adventures and we ended up booking a group kayak trip to see the whales a little closer. Of course, the morning of that trip, I ended up getting sick and AJ went off on his own. I was so bummed out because AJ came back positively glowing. He kayaked with one other person and though they didn’t have the spectacular whale experience that some folks did (where the whale actually came up right next to the kayak!) the ability to be on the open ocean and see the whales close by was an experience he’ll remember forever. For me, I’ll just have his glowing report and the hope that I get back to Hawaii sooner rather than later, so I can experience it for my own.

Photo courtesy of Maui Kayak Adventures

Not AJ! This happened on someone else’s kayak trip but I had to share it because it's so awesome! (Photo courtesy of Maui Kayak Adventures)

In the meanwhile, I found pineapples on sale at the store, so I snatched up a few. They are never as good as when you eat them on a beach watching the sun set. But as the fog cleared us (even if it might be momentary), we fired up the grill and I decided the smokiness would just add so much to the pineapple. A sprinkling of Korean peppers, inspired by the Hawaiian Korean influenced food of Maui, and a little hint of lime in the cake brought me back to the island.

Special thanks to Maui Kayak Adventure for their hospitality. AJ and I were provided the kayak experience compliments of Maui Kayak Adventures with absolutely no obligations. There was no monetary compensation and all opinions are my own.

Grilled Spicy Upside-Down Pineapple Lime Cake

The smell of grilled pineapple reminds me of Hawaii because we always had pineapple in our condo and would throw some spears whenever we fired up the grill. Pineapple will soften as it sits at room temperature, but it never ripens or gets sweeter once it’s picked. That said, the smokiness of the caramelized sugar from the pineapple on the grill adds so much dimension that even the dull pineapple that we get here in the mainland taste richer and more complex. Try grilling the pineapple next time you fire up the grill, then store the pineapple rings in the fridge for a few days until you’re ready to make this cake. It’s well worth the minimal effort. The Korean peppers sounds a little unusual, but the mild fruity spiciness of the peppers really brings the cake to the next level. I’ve included substitution suggestions for the Korean peppers at the bottom of this recipe in case you don’t have it, or can’t get ahold of them.

Topping
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (115 g or 1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar (110 g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru, see note below for information and substitutions)
Cake
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (170 g or 1 1/2 sticks)
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar (400 g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Zest from 4 medium limes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek style yogurt (325 g)
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 medium limes)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (420 g)
  1. Fire up a grill. Trim off the top and bottom of the pineapple, then peel the pineapple with a sharp knife. Cut the pineapple into 1/2-inch slices. Using a small round cutter, remove the center core from each ring. Once the grill is hot, place the pineapple rings on the grill directly and cook anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes or until grill marks form. Rotate 90º to and cook an additional 1 to 3 minutes to make more grill marks. Flip and repeat on the other side of the rings. Remove from grill and let cool. Pineapple rings can be grilled ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat an oven to 350°F. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet cook the butter, sugar and salt, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the entire mixture is bubbling thickly. Remove from heat.

  3. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the Korean red pepper flakes over the caramel. Arrange the pineapple rings on top of the caramel, cutting apart rings to fit them in between the whole rings. You may not use the entire pineapple, reserve the leftovers for another use or just eat them. Sprinkle the remaining pepper flakes over the pineapple.

  4. Make the cake by placing the butter, sugar, baking soda, salt and lime zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream together until a paste forms and clings to the side of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between additions until incorporated before adding the next egg. Repeat the process with the egg yolks.
  5. Stir the yogurt and the lime juice together then add it to the batter. Mix to incorporate, then add the flour and stir until the flour is absorbed. 

  6. Pour the batter over the pineapple and then carefully spread it to the edges of the pan evenly. Place in the oven and bake 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

  7. Once the cake is done, let the cake cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then place a large serving plate upside down on the pan. In one fluid motion, flip the pan over and then remove it from plate, leaving the cake upside down on the plate, with the pineapples on top. If any pineapple stuck to the pan, just carefully pick it up with a fork and place it back on the cake. Let the cake cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.

Korean red pepper flakes are a fruity spicy pepper flake that can be found in large bags at Asian or Korean grocery stores or online. They come in various spicy strength, from mild to spicy. This recipe uses the mild version (deolmaewoon gochugaru) but if you only have the spicy version (maewoon gochugaru), cut the pepper flakes down to 1 teaspoon. Aleppo pepper is also a great substitute for Korean red pepper flakes, use the same amount if you have that on hand instead. Or you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of regular red pepper flakes, along with 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika.

Adapted from a recipe in the cookbook Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry

The post Grilled Spicy Pineapple Upside Down Lime-Scented Cake appeared first on Eat The Love.

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The second of two photo essays for the San Francisco Meals on Wheels Star Chefs and Vintners Gala fundraiser of 2018.

As always, it’s the chefs behind the food that are the real heroes at an event like the San Francisco Meals on Wheels Star Chefs and Vintners’ Gala event. Getting a chance to peak behind the curtain and see the hard work that goes into the gorgeous and delicious food is always a treat. Almost as much as eating the food itself! With more than 900 guests and 100 San Francisco Bay Area chefs working hard, the food they created was astounding considering they create a kitchen out of nowhere. This year featured a four-course meal, including a plated dessert which they have never done in previous events. Of course, there was a great live auction, as well as even more nibbly desserts afterwards. If you missed it, check out my previous photo essay that showcased appetizer bites from the reception part of the event.

Special thanks to Meals on Wheels San Francisco for providing tickets to the Star Chefs and Vintners’ Gala. I was not monetarily compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

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The first of two photo essays for the San Francisco Meals on Wheels Star Chefs and Vintners Gala fundraiser of 2018.

I am always in awe of the annual San Francisco Meals on Wheels Star Chefs and Vintners’ Gala event. With over 200 volunteers for the event, this year’s gala raised 3.3 million dollars! That’s enough to feed 660,000 homebound seniors. As always, AJ and I were lucky to attend the event, take photos, meet the chefs, watch them prepare the food, and, of course, eat and drink until we couldn’t eat and drink any more. Here’s a sample of the food that we ate during the beginning of the event, during the appetizer section of the evening before we sat down for our meal. Come back later this week to see images of the four-course meal, including the plated dessert, along with behind-the-scenes images of the chefs prepping the food!

Special thanks to Meals on Wheels San Francisco for providing tickets to the Star Chefs and Vintners’ Gala. I was not monetarily compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

The post Photo Essay: Meals on Wheels Star Chefs and Vintners Gala 2018 (part 1) appeared first on Eat The Love.

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This Strawberry Rhubarb Buckle (which is just an old school comfy cozy name for a strawberry rhubarb coffee cake) has an easy cheesecake topping that just brings the entire baked good to the next level! (Jump directly to the recipe.)

There are days I absolutely hate the internet. And I don’t say that as an old grumpy person (get off my lawn!) that pines away for the times when kids didn’t stare at the phone screens constantly. I’m talking about the constant struggle as a recipe developer to figure out exactly what is an SEO friendly title for a dessert that really doesn’t have a good name.

Here’s the thing. I know that I really wanted to make a dessert that had the classic combination of strawberries and rhubarb. And I wanted something that had a cream cheese component (without it being a full-blown cheesecake). I refuse to call this dessert a “dump cake” both because I hate that name, and also because it technically requires SOME mixing and layering which is the opposite of a dump cake.

But a quick search on the internet failed me. Some folks called this sort of dessert a cobbler. My Midwest mentality screamed NO, as a cobbler is strictly a fruit dessert with biscuit toppings. Other folks considered it a clafoutis but there’s no cream cheese topping on a clafoutis. And though I considered an old fashion batter pudding, it really isn’t the sort of dish you serve up warm with a bunch of spoons to eat directly out of the pan (though I wouldn’t judge you if you did).

So I totally bypassed the internet and texted my friend Shauna. Shauna’s one of my go-to baking pals who moved back to the Midwest (Chicago to be exact). We met ages ago here in San Francisco but she was always a Midwest girl at heart, so it only made sense that she would finally go back home. Right now she’s writing a cookbook called The Heartland Baker, and with some texting back and forth, she led me to BUCKLE. Ah the mythical buckle. I adore buckles, which are basically coffee cakes, but I don’t make them or call them that often. But this recipe, with its fruit sprinkled on top, and dollops of cheesecake batter speckling the fruit, is firmly in buckle territory. And, I guess, if I have to think about it, I met Shauna via the internet initially. I probably shouldn’t hate on the ‘net as much as I do.

Strawberry Rhubarb Buckle with Cheesecake Topping

A buckle is basically a coffee cake with a mid-country comfort name. This buckle, however, is a combo platter of coffee cake, spring fruit and a cheesecake topping that will have you diving in for seconds. Don’t be intimidated by the layering of the ingredients in the instructions, as the recipe is easy to make.

Cheesecake topping
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature (1 brick)
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar (100 g)
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cake batter
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (2 sticks or 225 g)
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar (300 g)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (385 g)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups sliced strawberries (370 g)
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch sliced rhubarb (200 g or about 3 fat stalks/6 skinny stalks)
To finish
  • Powdered sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking oil. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper
  2. Make the cheesecake topping by placing the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream until combined, with the cream cheese clinging to the side of the bowl. Scoop out the cheesecake topping with a silicon or rubber spatula and place in a bowl.
  3. In the same mixing bowl (no need to clean it) make the cake batter by mixing the butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger together until the butter looks creamy and clings to the side of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing and scraping down the sides with a silicon or rubber spatula between additions.
  4. Add the 1 cup of flour to the batter and mix to incorporate. Drizzle in 1 cup of the milk as the mixer is on low speed, and then stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Don’t worry if the batter looks broken. Repeat the process again, then add the final 3/4 cup of flour to the batter and mix thoroughly so it is well blended.
  5. Scrape the cake batter into the prepared pan, spread it evenly on the bottom, then sprinkle the strawberries and rhubarb all over the top of the cake batter, pressing the fruit slightly into the cake batter.
  6. Spoon the cheesecake topping over the fruit in small tablespoon rounds. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue to bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the edges of the cake are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan completely and then dust with powdered sugar right before serving.
Adapted from a recipe from Taste of the South Magazine

The post Strawberry Rhubarb Buckle with Cheesecake Topping appeared first on Eat The Love.

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This Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookie are a white chocolate chip chocolate cookie, an invert version of the classic chocolate chip cookie. Using a pan-banging baking method created by Sarah Kieffer, the edges are crispy and crunchy while the middle is fudgy and soft! (Jump directly to the recipe.)

Even though I fell in love with Sarah Kieffer’s The Vanilla Bean Blog, ages ago and adore her cookbook The Vanilla Bean Baking Book because every single recipe in there rock solid works, I actually hadn’t met Sarah until recently. She recently came into San Francisco briefly for a weekend because her husband was a work trip and we had a marvelous two hours running around my neighborhood grabbing morning buns at Tartine, coffee at Ritual and donuts over at Dynamo Donut right before she and her husband drove off to the airport. We didn’t have much time to hang out but it was enough time for us to bond over our love of butter, sugar and flour and the trials and tribulations of writing a cookbook.

All that said, I resisted making her pan-banging chocolate chip cookie for ages. It’s not that I have anything against her recipe (it’s actually quite brilliant in technique) but I have a serious issue that prevents me from making them. I don’t have any spare freezer space and her recipe requires you to freeze the dough for 15 minutes before baking them.

Now this may seem silly to you, but when I say I have NO freezer space, I really mean it. I actually TAPE my freezer door shut with blue painter’s tape (recently increasing the straps to THREE since two apparently wasn’t enough) because I have so much in my freezer that the door kept on popping open. I have a freezer hoarding problem.

But in a coffee-fueled frenzy of activity a few weeks ago, I finally got around to making stock with turkey carcass and ham bone from last Christmas, the chicken backbones I always save when I roast chickens, and other random odd and ends that I save up for stock (the green parts of leeks that every recipe tells you to discard goes into a freezer bag for this exact reason). Because of the various bones that went into the stock, I called it my Old McDonald stock and it made the apartment smell amazing as it simmered away all afternoon long.

As an added bonus though, it also cleared out a TON of space in my freezer. So much so that I was able to reduce blue painter’s tape down to just one strap (woo hoo!). AND that meant I had enough room for me to freeze a few balls of a dough at a time – ala Sarah’s famous Pan Banging cookie. Having recently made chocolate chip cookies though, I decided to switch it up a little bit and reverse the cookie dough and make the dough the source of the chocolate. And because I’m one of those folks that actually likes white chocolate (yeah yeah, you can totally tell me that it’s not REAL chocolate, I don’t care, I still like it) I used those in place of the chocolate chunks. And after making these, I think I’m going to have to start cleaning out my freezer more often. Sarah’s a baking genius…but you all probably knew that already.

Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookie (aka the White Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cookie), the Pan-Banging Version

This reverse chocolate chip cookie is a chocolate chip cookie with a chocolate cookie base and tons of white chocolate chunks. I used Sarah Kieffer’s technique to “pan-bang” the cookie mid-baking, several times, to create the crinkles and ridges at the edge of the cookie. This leads to a cookie that is both crispy and crunchy in the edges and fudgy and soft in the middle. Be sure to buy white chocolate chips that use real cocoa butter or buy a white chocolate bar and chop it up. A lot of white chocolate uses vegetable oil and inferior ingredients which don’t melt or taste nearly as good. The flaky salt I used on top is optional but since white chocolate is so sweet, I found the salt balances it out a bit. Feel free to omit it if you don’t like it.

  • 1/4 cup brewed and cooled coffee (or 1/4 cup water with 1 teaspoon instant coffee)
  • 6 tablespoons natural cocoa powder, divided (40 g)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (2 sticks or 225 g)
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar (300 g)
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (55 g)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (245 g)
  • 6 ounces chopped white chocolate (or white chocolate chips)
  • Maldon sea salt (or other flaky sea salt (optional but recommended))
  1. Combine the coffee and 4 tablespoons of the cocoa powder in a glass measuring cup and stir to form a paste.
  2. Place the butter, both sugars, salt, baking soda and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix together until the butter is creamy and clings to the side of the bowl. Scrape down the sides and mix in the chocolate coffee paste and egg until incorporated and consistent in color.
  3. Add the flour and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Slowly mix together until a soft dough forms. Add the white chocolate, reserving a few pieces to garnish on top, and slowly mix it into the dough (you can do this by hand with a wooden spoon if you want).
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line three or four baking sheets with aluminum foil, with the dull side of the foil up. Measure out three or four balls of dough about 100 g each (3 1/2 ounces or heaping 1/3 cup). The balls should be somewhere between a golf ball and a baseball. Place the balls on one of the baking sheet, as far apart as possible from each other, then move the baking sheet with the dough to the freezer. Leave in there for 15 minutes. Measure out the remaining balls in the same manner but leave at room temperature.

  5. Once the cookie dough has chilled, remove from the freezer and place another baking sheet with cookie dough in the freezer. Put a few extra pieces of white chocolate on top of each cookie dough and sprinkle the top with a generous pinch of Maldon sea salt then place the baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes. 

  6. Once the 10 minutes is up, open the door of the oven and lift up the baking sheet and gently drop it back on the rack. The cookie dough will have puffed up and then deflated. Set a timer for 2 minutes, and then repeat this process, opening the oven and dropping the baking sheet. Do this a couple more times, each time waiting 2 minutes between dropping the baking sheet. Each time you “deflate” the cookie, you create ridges around the edges of the cookie, that are crisping up. You want to bake the cookie a total of 16 to 18 minutes, where the edges look dry but the middle of the cookie is still soft and puffy looking. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Then move the cookies from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely.

  7. Repeat with the remaining cookies, rotating one baking sheet at a time from the counter to the freezer to the oven to bake.
These make large cookies but there’s no way to make the crispy wrinkled edges with a smaller cookie. Just break the cookies in half if you want smaller portions.

Adapted from Sarah Kieffer’s The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

The post Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookie (aka the White Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cookie) appeared first on Eat The Love.

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This Rhubarb Meyer Lemon Cake has a swirl of tart rhubarb that is boosted with hibiscus tea, making it the perfect Spring time cake for afternoon coffee or tea. (Jump directly to the recipe.)

There are times when a recipe in my head doesn’t quite match the way it comes out of the oven. This is one of those times. In my dreams, I pictured a magical swirl of ruby red rhubarb layered in between lusciously moist Meyer Lemon cake crumbs. Instead I got a bundt cake that is tasty, even bordering on delicious. But alas, it was not picture-perfect Pinteresting. But I’m sharing the recipe anyway. Because not every recipe needs to be Instagram worthy.

Here’s the thing. I can probably make this cake again and rework it to make it look like my dreams. I generous spoonful of red food coloring. A liberal brushing of Meyer lemon simple syrup glaze or limoncello. All the food styling tricks that I’ve been taught to make this cake Pinterest viral, or at close as I can to that.

But I think this cake is pretty darn good by itself. It’s not too sweet, perfect for a cup of coffee or tea in the mid afternoon without that sugar buzz that you might get with another cake. It’s has a burst of tart rhubarb in the middle without the artificially red color that probably isn’t necessary. And it’s the sort of cake that I probably would make again and again during the springtime, when rhubarb is available and I find myself buying it by the basketful (as I’m prone to do). And if it’s a recipe that I see myself repeating, that’s really the best test of all.

Rhubarb Meyer Lemon Cake

The swirl of rhubarb is punched up with a subtle touch of tart hibiscus tea. See the note at the bottom of the recipe for more information about the hibiscus tea. The unusual method of baking the cake from a cold oven keeps the crumb tight and moist. If you want the filling to be a little more ruby red, try adding a 1/2 teaspoon of red food coloring to the filling. But that’s strictly cosmetic and is your call.

Rhubarb swirl
  • 3 Hibiscus tea bags (see note at the bottom of the recipe)
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch chopped rhubarb (8 ounces or 4 to 5 fat stalks/8-10 skinny stalks)
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar (100 g)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature (1/2 brick)
Cake batter
  • 12 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces or 170 g)
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar (300 g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Juice from 2 Meyer lemons
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (455 g)
To finish
  • Powdered sugar
  1. Make the rhubarb swirl by first measuring out 1/2 cup of boiling water and placing the hibiscus tea bags into the hot water. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes or until the water cools to room temperature. Meanwhile, place the rhubarb in a small saucepan with the sugar. Cook on medium heat, until the rhubarb softens and starts to fall apart about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  2. Once the hibiscus tea has cooled to room temperature, remove the tea bags and gently squeeze them to get as much liquid as possible out of them. Measure out 1/4 cup of the concentrated tea and stir in the cornstarch. Pour into the bowl with the cooked rhubarb. Add the cream cheese. Mix until blended. Pour the batter into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Prep the bundt pan by spraying it with cooking oil, making sure to get all the nooks and crannies. Dust with all-purpose flour and place on a rimmed baking sheet or pizza pan.
  4. Make the cake batter by placing the butter, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest in the same stand mixer bowl (no need to clean it). Mix on medium speed until the butter is creamy and clings to the side of the bowl. Mix in the eggs, one a time, waiting for each egg to incorporate before adding the next one. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Combine the buttermilk and lemon juice together. Mix in 1 cup of the flour, then 1 cup of the buttermilk liquid, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Repeat again with the flour and liquid, then end with the remaining 1 1/4 cup of flour.
  6. Spoon 1/3 of the batter into the bottom of the pan. Make a “moat” in the middle of the batter, then spoon half the rhubarb batter into it, trying to keep as much rhubarb away from the edge of the pan. Repeat with the cake batter and rhubarb again, then finish with the remaining cake batter.
  7. Place cake in the cold oven, then turn the oven on to 300°F. Let the cake bake for 80 to 90 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean (or if you have an instant read thermometer, when the cake reads 210°F). Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert the still warm pan onto a wire rack and release the cake from the pan. Continue to let the cake cool to room temperature then move the cake to a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar immediately before serving.
Hibiscus tea can be found at upscale grocery stores, Asian or Latin ethnic markets. Common brands include Republic of Tea, Traditional Medicinal and Triple Leaf Tea. If you can’t find hibiscus tea, you can use a hibiscus blend like Tazo’s Passion or Lipton’s Red Zinger (or a flavored version like Raspberry Zinger). Or you can just skip the tea and dissolve the corn starch in a 1/4 cup of cold water.

Radically adapted from a Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake in the Washington Post by Cathy Barrow

The post Rhubarb Meyer Lemon Cake appeared first on Eat The Love.

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Here is an easy-to-understand list of best practices for Pinterest to help maximize your reach and your business in 2018. All information is direct from Pinterest themselves!

Pinterest is one of my all-time favorite platforms to share and save recipes (and other awesome ideas from around the web – have you seen my ceramic inspiration board?). But for bloggers and content creators it can be a moving target for best practices and what to do. What used to work doesn’t and what didn’t work all of sudden is what we all should be doing for optimal exposure. After visiting with Pinterest for their Knitcon conference and chatting with folks that work at the mothership, here’s the inside scoop of what you should be (and should not be) doing on Pinterest in 2018 to help grow your business.

First the basics. If you are a content creator, make sure you convert your account to a business account to get more tools and insights. Also claim your website so Pinterest can give you attributions to all pins made from your site. Claiming your site is pretty easy. You can find instruction on how to claim your site on Pinterest in this medium article.

Use Pinterest often and try to pin weekly. Just make sure to pin your own stuff first! The first 5 Pins you save each day will be prioritized for distribution. Save to the most relevant board first. It’s okay to save a Pin to multiple boards, but save to the most relevant one first—that Pin will get distribution priority. Saving to irrelevant boards won’t help and may hurt the distribution of your Pins. You can pin as much as you want (there’s no penalty for lots of pinning) but make sure to pin all your own stuff first! You can even pin different images that link to the same URL. You might want to change up the description of each pin though, just to hit more SEO keywords. Think “Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe” for one pin and “The Perfect Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe” for a different pin that links to the same URL.

The ideal ratio for Pins are 2:3 or 600 x 900 px. Any pins longer than 1560 px will get truncated so no long giraffe pins anymore folks! Keep it simple and vertical but don’t go overboard with the vertical anymore. If you do create pins that are longer (like diptych pins with copy in the middle) make sure the top image is the most impactful image, as the bottom part of the pin might get cropped out!

If you are pinning for seasons, holidays or special occasions, consider pinning earlier than the specific date. So those summer recipes are perfect for pinning right now, as well as late Spring stuff. Pinterest users think farther out than other social media platforms, and you want to get the pins in the system for Pinterest to pick them up and for users to start planning.

Hashtags are now a thing on Pinterest. It used to be that hashtags weren’t a thing on Pinterest and they ignored them. Now the official word at Pinterest is that hashtags are a definitely thing. You can use up to 20 hashtags on Pinterest and consider not only adding hashtags like the ingredients of a dish and how to cook it but also genres of food like #cleaneating or #whole30. If you pin fashion or lifestyle, consider stuff like the season, designer or tags like #ootd.

Organize your boards and name them wisely. Think like a user of Pinterest. Goofy names are great but they don’t help users. Simple and easy to understand names for boards work best. There’s also a new function in Pinterest that gives you the ability to create “sections” within boards. Consider organizing some of your boards into sections. A “Cake Recipe” board can also have a section for just chocolate cakes, vanilla cakes, marble cakes and wedding cakes. The more specific you organize pins in boards and sections, the easier it is for Pinterest to find your pins and thus deliver them to users.

As always, clean images without clutter work best. For lifestyle and fashion pinners, consider a more “lifestyle” photo as opposed to just a product shot. They are more engaging. Recipe pinners might want to consider step-by-step photo pins as they show the user how easy or possible it is to make the recipe. And engaging descriptions with a call to action (think words like “buy”, “make”, “create”, or “find”) increase click through rate!

Also, if you haven’t had a chance, check out the new Pinterest profile pages! It shows your monthly viewers of all your pins, which shows a more accurate reach of your Pinterest account than just the number of followers. The profile page is available for all business accounts on Pinterest. Know that you can also custom what pins show up as your header image at the top of the profile. Just click on the edit button on the right of the header, and select where you want the pints to be pulled from: your most recent pin, pins that other pinners have pinned from your site, or from a specific board that you have.

Finally there is the new Following Tab! It allows you to see pins just from the folks you are following instead of a mash up of pins from those who you follow as well as pins that Pinterest thinks you might be interested in.

If you have any questions about current best practices, leave a comment below and I’ll ask my contacts at Pinterest and see if I can get an answer. No promise but the Pinterest folks have been awesome about getting my all this info about how to use Pinterest in 2018. Have fun pinning, follow me over at Pinterest, and feel free to pin any and all of my recipes!

The post Pinterest Best Practices for 2018 appeared first on Eat The Love.

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