I feel like there is an unspoken rule when it comes to preparing food for guests: never try a new recipe when serving guests. I guess the theory is that if the recipe doesn't live up to your expectations, you won't embarrass yourself in front of other people.
I can say that in most cases, I ignore this rule completely. I like to take advantage of the opportunity and create menus that are completely new and original when we have company at our house for dinner and when I prepare food to take to a friends house. I find myself paying much closer attention to the recipe when I make it for the first time and especially when I have to photograph each step and blog it. Maybe it's just me but I think my inaugural attempt at any recipes usually produces the best results.
Anyone else like to use their friends as guinea pigs? I guess my friends have come to expect the unexpected when they get an invitation to dinner and my house. I always serve new foods and in most cases, I also photographing the entire evening from preparation through dessert. (The struggles of going to the home of a food blogger for dinner.)
These chocolate shortcakes were a last minute dessert that I pulled together to take to a friends house on the 4th of July. I chose this particular recipe because of it's colorful nod to patriotism. The red and blue berries with the white cream just seemed to scream 4TH OF JULY!
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter, cold
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
Split in half.
Fill with whipped cream and your favorite fruit.
Changing the rules of cooking as we know them. Forget only fixing known recipes when it comes to serving guests - be adventurous and try something that you've never made before. With any luck, your guests will give you their honest opinion about your food. (Just remember to take it with a grain of salt.)
I can't even begin to count the number of times I've ordered a salad at a restaurant with the dressing on the side. I'm weird about my salad dressings and I like to be able to control the amount of dressing on my salad and I also like having the option of changing my dressing choice before it's applied to the entire salad.
Dressing on the side is a pretty normal request. You know what's not normal? Ordering LETTUCE on the side. Anyone out there ever gotten a salad with lettuce on the side? I have. Not on purpose. I ordered an entree salad at an Italian restaurant and when the server repeated my order back to me she said "salad with lettuce on the side." I lightheartedly corrected her by saying that I wanted the DRESSING on the side, not the lettuce. Her befuddled smile led me to believe that she didn't fully understand my request and again she said "Salad with lettuce on the side." After she left the table, I joked about the ridiculousness of getting lettuce on the side with my fellow diners. Sure enough, within 20 minutes I was confidently served a bowl of carrots, cucumbers, croutons and cheese, all swimming in a sweet, dark balsamic dressing. Alongside my bowl of balsamic toppings, the waitress placed another giant bowl of lettuce. Lettuce on the side. It's just like you might have imagined. Turns out - it wasn't a terrible way to eat a salad - just a little unconventional.
If you're looking for a great summer salad - look no further. This simple salad is really delicious and thanks to the addition of some whole grain wheat, it's actually very filling. You will want to make this salad over and over again this summer.
Farro and Chickpea Salad
2 carrots, sliced
2 radishes, sliced
1 small tomato, cut into wedges
6 cups salad greens
1 cup farro
1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 T. lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped roughly
Drizzle over salad. Sprinkle with pistachios.
I just did a big clean out of my refrigerator and discovered all sorts of half full bags of grains and flours. My goal is to use up as many of these as I can in the next couple of months so get ready for more quinoa, millet, farro and barley recipes. I'd love to see some of your recipes too so send them to me in a comment.
How I am just now discovering that there is such a thing as a TUNNEL OF FUDGE cake??? Seriously, where has this chocolatey, fudgey fabulousness been all my life?
From the moment that I read the words "tunnel of fudge", I was in love. I actually stumbled upon this cake quite by accident. I was innocently searching molten lava cake recipes when this dreamy circle of glazed chocolate goodness popped up. How could I not go to my kitchen and make this cake immediately? Tunnel of fudge, people - TUNNEL OF FUDGE!!!
I don't claim to understand all of the science of baking but I do know the very basics behind cake baking. This cake has me absolutely astounded though.
One batter that magically separates into a rich chocolate cake and a dark, fudgey center. No truffle filling, no fudge sauce poured into the center, no pudding spooned into the center. It's a true cake mystery friends. I don't know how it happens but I love it. And I'm pretty sure that you will too.
Tunnel of Fudge Cake
1 tbsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the cake:
½ cup boiling water
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (2¼ oz.) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 cups (8 oz.) confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup (7 oz.) granulated sugar
¾ cup packed (5¼ oz.) light brown sugar
20 tbsp. (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the glaze:
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Cool 1 1/2 hours before inverting onto serving platter. Cool 2 hours before slicing.
Drizzle over cake and allow to stand for 10 minutes to set.
Decorate with sprinkles.
Some days, I just need chocolate in my life. Like days when my sweet girl is packing up her room and getting ready to move into her apartment at college. It's a good thing we have chocolate in the house this week - I'm gonna need it.
On more than one occasion this summer, I've been lured in by the sweet smelling, beautiful rosy hued peach displays at the supermarket and ended up buying way more than three humans could possibly consume. (Admittedly, there are worse problems.) Even though I choose peaches of varying firmness, they all seem to ripen and need to be consumed at exactly the same moment. If left to sit on the counter just minutes past their optimum ripeness, they seem turn into juicy, peachy mush.
Overripe peaches definitely don't go to waste in this house but devouring the juicy fruit almost always requires that one stand over the kitchen sink during consumption. Despite my best attempts to get all of the peach juice to drip into the sink, a t-shirt change is usually required after the peach eating experience. I refuse to waste an overripe peach though - I feel like they deserve better. So it's either - eat them over the sink OR turn them into a delicious dessert or appetizer or even a salad! Overripe peaches deserve to be made into a scrumptious peach caprese salad.
I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive when I first saw this recipe. I'm a huge caprese fan and I kind of felt like messing with the original tomato, basil, mozzarella combination seemed like caprese blasphemy. (Is that a thing?)
It took me a little while to accept that there was a new contender in the caprese salad category but I'm so glad that I did. This peach caprese salad is amazing and I can't make the claim that it's better than the traditional version but I would say that it's equally good. Totally different but equally delicious.
Peach Caprese Salad
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 pound ripe peaches, quartered and sliced into 16 sections
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4" slices
6 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
Sprinkle with basil and season with salt and pepper.
I'm a big fan of Peach Caprese Salad but I'm not convinced that this yummy peach treat should be placed in the "salad" category. I think it makes a great appetizer, a scrumptious lunch or even a fruity dessert. Make this for yourself and let me know what you think.
I actually copied this recipe for blanched pesto into my blog que over a year ago and by the time I got around to making it, my basil had expired. (That's a nice way of saying that I didn't keep it pruned and I let it go to seed.)
I love fresh pesto and I was super excited to try this recipe but it just wasn't cost effective for me to buy the 6 cups of fresh basil leaves that this recipe requires. No one wants to spend 30.00 on a batch of pesto - especially me. Sooo ... I patiently waited 12 months for a new batch of basil to grow and mature and in the meantime, I dreamt about the pesto that I would make with the fresh basil from my garden.
My long awaited blanched pesto did not disappoint. This was a such a simple sauce to put together. 5 scrumptious ingredients and a food processor is all it took to create this fresh and flavorful pesto.
6 cups fresh basil leaves
2 Tablespoon unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a second bowl with ice water. Place basil leaves in a metal strainer.
Place strainer in pan and use tongs to submerge leaves. Cook 5 seconds. Remove strainer with basil and immediately submerge into ice water. Let stand 10 seconds.
Spread basil on towel and gently blot dry.
Place basil, sunflower seeds, oil and salt in food processor and pulse until smooth.
Add cheese and process until smooth.
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Toss pesto with warm pasta.
I served my pesto with toasted naan bread and a peach caprese salad.
I knew that I would love this recipe but I was pleasantly surprised to see how much my family enjoyed this pesto as well. I would categorize them as traditionalists when it comes to pasta sauce but now that I know they are fans of pesto, we can switch up our usual marinara routine from time to time. It's always a good sign when they go in for second and even third helping dinner!!
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