Spicy minestrone with kale

_MG_33171 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon chile pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
Handful of small pasta, like elbow macaroni
1 cup water
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan to serve

Heat oil in a heavy pot, add onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Add chile pepper flakes and cook 1 minute, add tomato paste and stir, cook 1 minute more.
Add canned tomatoes, beans, and water, stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Toss in pasta and stir, then reduce heat and cook 15 minutes. Add carrots 10 minutes, and kale 5 minutes before soup is done.

Add salt and pepper to taste, serve with grated parmesan.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com

White chocolate coconut truffles – homemade Raffaello

_MG_3232 I made these white chocolate truffles for Valentine’s Day last year. They are extremely easy and quick to make, and they they taste similar to Raffaellos.

Makes about 20 truffles

1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
7 ounces (200 g) white chocolate, good quality, broken into chuncks
1 tbsp (14g) butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract, optional
1/3 cup (30 g) coconut flakes
1/3 cup coconut flakes for rolling


Melt chocolate with cream over bain marie at low heat. Stir continuously until the chocolate is almost melted. Add butter and continue stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.
Alternatively, melt chocolate in microwave, checking and stirring every 30 seconds. Add butter, stir until butter is melted. Add cream, and stir. Add vanilla extract and coconut flakes, let it cool, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours until the mixture gets firm enough to roll it into balls.
Using a teaspoon roll the mixture into small balls. Roll each ball into coconut flakes. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe adapted from homecookingadventure.com

Winter spice cake with caramelized apple topping

_MG_22816 medium Golden Delicious apples (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled, each cut into 6 wedges, cored
4 tablespoons plus 1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, butter paper as well . Wrap outside of pan with foil and place on a rimmed cookie sheet.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Sauté apples until almost tender and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Increase heat to high and toss until sugar melts and apples are deep brown, about 4 minutes. Pour apple mixture onto large plate (do not clean skillet).

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cup sugar and cook until mixture is deep golden brown, stirring often, about 7 minutes (mixture will be grainy). Add cream and vinegar (do not stir). Cover skillet, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer without stirring until most of caramel bits dissolve, about 8 minutes. Uncover and whisk until sauce is slightly thick, deep brown and reduced to generous 1 cup, about 3 minutes longer. Pour caramel sauce into small saucepan.

Spread 3 tablespoons caramel sauce over bottom of prepared pan. Arrange apple wedges side by side, rounded side down, in caramel in 2 concentric circles. Sift flour and next 6 ingredients into bowl. Beat 6 tablespoons butter and 1 cup sugar in large bowl to blend (mixture will be grainy). Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then vanilla and 1/4 cup caramel sauce. Beat in half of dry ingredients, then sour cream, then remaining dry ingredients.

Spoon batter evenly over apples. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool cake in pan 5 minutes.

Cut around cake; remove pan sides. Cool cake 15 minutes longer. Place platter atop cake; invert cake onto platter. Remove pan bottom and parchment. Replace any dislodged apples. Rewarm remaining caramel sauce. Serve cake warm or at room temperature with sauce.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com

Coconut red lentil curry with sweet potato and kale

_MG_48571 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils (10 oz)
1 (13- to 14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 14 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomato
1 medium sweet potato (about 12 oz) cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups chopped kale
Accompaniment: white rice

Cook onion in oil in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until edges are golden, about 6 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Stir in water, lentils, and coconut milk, then simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in sweet potato and simmer, covered, until lentils and sweet potato are tender, about 15 minutes. Add kale and simmer 2-4 more minutes, until kale is wilted.
Serve over rice.

Adapted from Epicurious.com

White gazpacho

IMG_00022 large English (seedless) cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
3 slices white bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup warm water
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or Sherry vinegar, plus more, to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup green grapes, halved

Set aside 1 cup of chopped cucumber for a garnish. Soak the bread in water until soft, about 2 minutes. Place soaked bread, the rest of the cucumber, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the almonds, salt and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and process until cucumbers are completely blended and liquid and almonds are almost completely invisible, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season with additional salt and vinegar, if desired.

To serve, ladle 1 cup gazpacho into a bowl. Mound 1/4 cup reserved chopped cucumber, 2 tablespoons grapes and 1 teaspoon almonds in the center of the soup.

Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com

Cheddar crust pear pie with red wine and rosemary

We have a few pear trees along our dog walk routines, and I have picked some pears for baking. You could use probably any firm pears for the filling of this pie. One word of caution…it takes longer than the average pie, but it is certainly worth your time and effort. The red wine reduction syrup is fabulous with the pears, and the cheddar pie crust is the perfect complement.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter or Earth Balance vegan buttery stick, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tablespoons chilled pure vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup (firmly packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
5-7 tablespoons ice water

¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1¾ cups dry red wine, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 teaspoons all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 pounds firm but ripe pears (such as Comice, Anjou, or Bartlett), peeled, cored, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons raw sugar

Place flour, sugar, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter and shortening. Using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles fine meal. Add cheese; mix in using 4 on/off turns. Transfer dry ingredients to large bowl. Sprinkle 5 tablespoons water over. Using fork, toss until moist clumps form, adding more water by tablespoonfuls if mixture is dry. Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Shape each half into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Bring granulated sugar, rosemary, and 1½ cups wine to a boil; cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about ⅔ cup, about 20-25 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add butter and whisk until syrup is smooth.
Whisk cornstarch, cinnamon, 5 tsp. flour, and remaining ¼ cup wine in a small saucepan set over medium heat; cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Slowly add syrup, whisking until smooth, then stir in vanilla and salt. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes.
Place a rack in lower third of oven. Toss pears and red wine syrup in a large bowl. Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14” round. Transfer to a 9” pie dish. Lift up edges and allow dough to slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about 1” overhang. Pour filling into crust and chill.
Meanwhile, roll out remaining disk of dough into a 10” round. Place on top of pie, fold edges under and crimp. Cut out four oval shapes for vent, place cut outs on top of pie. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons raw sugar and chill in freezer 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F, rotate pie, and continue baking, tenting with foil if crust is browning too quickly, until juices are bubbling and crust is golden brown, 30–35 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 4 hours before slicing.

Adapted from Bon Appetit – here and here