Not long ago my wife came home bearing a marvelous gift of blue cheese–my love language is cheese–and I began plotting how I would put it to use. It didn’t take me long to decide on pasta sauce after being inspired by a wonderful Italian cook from my recent trip to the Belizean island Caye Caulker: the blue cheese pasta at Sandros Piccola Cucina is pretty amazing. And no, the peculiarity of great Italian dining on a Caribbean island is not lost on me. I suppose we can’t help but do what we love wherever we are.
Honestly, I don’t have any great insight into what blue cheeses are best. My choices tend to be ruled by my wallet, so definitely leave your thoughts if you are a great cheese connoisseur. As for me, I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like–at least not yet. In this recipe I say to use 1/4 cup blue cheese, heaped, meaning really to use between 1/4 cup and 2/3 cup, depending on how intense you want your blue cheese flavor.
I have this as specifically a penne dish, but you really could use any pasta you want. I like penne for saucy recipes because of the way it holds the sauce. I’m always amazed at how many kinds of pasta are out there. I’m sure many of you could educate me on what kinds are really optimal for sauces.
With the dairy components of this recipe, it’s important to constantly stir so you don’t scald anything. Also, if you want to cut back on the fat content, you can always sub in skim/low-fat dairy products, but the flavor will suffer slightly. Unless I’m really trying to impress someone, I tend to use reduced-fat sour cream, since that’s where so much of the fat is. You could even experiment with swapping in plain or Greek yogurt for the sour cream.
This would be great with a side of something light and fresh: perhaps salad greens tossed with mandarin orange slices, craisins, and sliced almonds. If you’re looking for a wine to enjoy with your pasta, my wife and I have come to love the California Red Wine by Ménage à Trois. It’s not very expensive and it’s very tasty. We also enjoy Red Velvet by Cupcake Vineyards, which is a great after-dinner wine to sip in the evening while hanging out.
I want to start this out by saying that making your own pasta is exciting and rewarding. It’s also not too complex, especially once you are familiar with it. The pasta dough recipe I included, which originally comes from AllRecipes, is the simplest and most effective recipe I’ve used for dough, too. With all of that said, it can be difficult to get the dough thin enough if you don’t have a pasta machine, and you may have other reasons as to why making pasta dough sounds too daunting to tackle. If you have any recommendations for someone who is nervous about making pasta dough, share in the comments! One suggestion I’ve heard for making your own ravioli without having to make the dough is using wonton wrappers. The texture will be slightly different, but the tradeoff of the time and effort saved might be worth it. Besides, the true star of this recipe is the filling.
If you grew butternut squash this past season, you may very well still have a few sitting around your kitchen or cellar: I know locally-grown ones are still available at the grocery stores here. As the winter temperatures plunge, I find butternut squash to be incredibly soothing whether it’s in soup, pasta, or just baked with some brown sugar sprinkled on top. What I love about this ravioli recipe is how it combines this with the cheesy goodness of ricotta, parmesan, and cream cheese, as well as the complementary flavors of sage, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Mmm! And if you make a big batch of ravioli, you can keep them in your freezer (or maybe even outside for you far-north folks) to occasionally use throughout the winter.
I love how orange butternut squash gets when you roast it for the purée! Butternut squash purée can be good for soups and sauces, so if you have some left over after this recipe, just freeze it in a resealable bag to use for later. If you have leftover pasta dough when you’ve finished using up your filling, you can also put that to use by cutting it into strips and hanging them over hangers to dry. This leaves you with homemade fettuccine ready to boil!
If you’re using homemade dough, you can have some fun with shapes by using your favorite cookie cutters to cut out the ravioli halves. This recipe could easily become a fun family project! If you just want to make no-flair ravioli, then squares will probably be your best bet to avoid unused dough. You should lightly brush the inward-facing sides of each ravioli half with an egg wash. I want to stress that you want this to be a very light amount of egg wash or else you can make your halves too slippery. The reason for the egg wash is just to make the dough a little sticky so the halves will hold together and seal. You can make the sealing process easier on yourself by not overfilling the ravioli, too.
The candied sage leaves add a lot to this dish. It’s great if you have a potted sage plant you can pick leaves from, but sage leaves should be available at most grocery stores. Be sure to take the leaves out of the sugar mixture before they get too dark. Once you do, they really only need to sit for a short time before the sugar is all hardened and you can crumble the candied leaves. Melted sugar can cause serious burns, though, so be cautious in handling these.
Once you get comfortable with making ravioli, this is a great way to prepare for meals in advance. Pasta machines can vary in cost–I found mine at a garage sale for $10–but it’s a good investment if you think you would start making more pasta. Pasta is very versatile, and I’ll be making it more frequently as I play with ideas for seasonal ravioli fillings and alternative flours for the dough. What do you think would make good flavor combinations in ravioli filling?
Relish: Butternut Squash Ravioli with Candied Sage
Author: Jon Schelander-Pugh
Recipe type: Main
1 egg, beaten
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons water
½ tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup butternut squash purée
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 oz. cream cheese
¼ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tbsp parsley
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp pure maple syrup
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
15-20 medium-sized sage leaves
Putting It All Together
water or egg wash (1 egg white + 1 tbsp water, combined)
grated parmesan cheese
In the bowl of a mixer, sift together the flour and salt, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a dough hook.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 minutes.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or fully cover it with a damp cloth and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
Using a pasta machine or a roller, roll the dough to your desired thickness.
To make your own butternut squash purée, start by preheating your oven to 400°F. Carefully cut your butternut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, brush the cut side of each half with oil, and place on a baking sheet with cut sides down. Then roast in the oven for about 45 minutes (until you can easily poke a fork through the skins), let cool, remove the skins, and purée in a food processor or blender.
In a thick-bottomed pot, melt your 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and stir in the chopped shallot and garlic. Simmer while stirring until the shallot seems to soften.
Add the 1 cup of butternut squash purée, the salt, the ground sage, the ground nutmeg, and the ground cinnamon and mix until combined.
Remove the butternut squash mixture from heat and add the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and parmesan cheese, stirring until the cheeses have melted and mixed in.
Add the parsley and stir until combined.
In a small pan, melt the 1 tablespoon of butter.
Add the brown sugar, pure maple syrup, and nutmeg, stirring to combine.
Once the mixture starts to bubble, add 15-20 medium-large sage leaves and stir until you notice any sage leaves starting to darken.
Carefully remove the sage leaves from the pan and place on wax paper or parchment paper to cool.
Once cooled, crumble the candied sage leaves.
Putting It All Together
Cut your dough into ravioli halves
Very lightly, brush the halves you’re about to fill with a little bit of egg wash (1 egg white + 1 tbsp water) or water.
On one of the halves, place enough of the filling to stuff the ravioli (not too much, though!) and drape another half of ravioli overtop.
Stretch the top ravioli half enough that the edges of each half align, then seal the edge by pressing all around with a fork.
After you finish each ravioli, place on wax paper and allow to air dry for about 10 minutes before you boil or freeze.
If you want to freeze your ravioli for later, place them in the freezer on trays until they are somewhat frozen (about an hour or more). Then you can put them in a bag and continue to freeze. If you put them all together too early, they will stick and freeze together.
If you want to serve right away, or if you are serving after freezing, bring a pot of water with a little oil to a boil over medium heat. Add the ravioli and boil for 2-3 minutes, then strain.
Plate the ravioli, then drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with candied sage, and top with grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
In the month of October, I went about town chasing off squirrels and collecting acorns to make acorn flour after reading about it on one of my new favorite food blogs. While going through the process of making acorn flour, I learned a lot about how to make it a painless and even a fun experience, which I shared in this post.
Once I made the acorn flour, I needed a recipe to use it in. I really wanted to make muffins and after a bit of searching I came across Gluten-Free Girl’s food blog, which had a great sample base recipe for gluten-free muffins and a super helpful tip in replacing wheat flour with alternative flours. Essentially, she says you can replace wheat flour gram-for-gram with 70% alternative flour and 30% starch, which means if a recipe called for 1000 grams of wheat flour, you would use 700 grams of alternative flour and 300 grams of starch. This worked for these muffins, but I’m not sure how this would fare for recipes that rely more on gluten than muffins do.
I was excited to work with a nuttier, earthier flour, and I was very curious how the texture would be compared to a wheat-flour muffin. Since I was getting the chance to cook with acorns, I decided to theme my flavor combination after local trees: white oak acorns, maple syrup, and walnuts. Perhaps someday I’ll harvest my own syrup and walnuts, as well. What I enjoyed most about these muffins–this was a little unexpected–is the acorn flour gives it a texture similar to cornbread. Overall, I thought the flavors really pulled together nicely.
Since my collection of acorns only yielded 1 ¼ cups flour, I had to substitute the rest of the flour with something else. I decided to keep it gluten-free by grinding oats in a coffee grinder. As far as the starch, I used corn starch because it’s what I had available and I’m not very familiar with other starches such as arrowroot or potato starch, but if you prefer something else for this, just swap it gram-for-gram with corn starch at about 140 grams/cup.
If acorns are no longer something you can find where you live, a cursory search around the internet shows you can find it for sale on a few sites or you could even replace the acorn flour with another alternative flour of your choice, gram-for-gram. Acorn flour is about 100 grams/cup.
I’ve never gone out of my way to cook/bake gluten-free because I haven’t ever needed to, but this has sparked a curiosity about the flavors and textures different flours lend to recipes. Does anyone have an alternative flour preferred for flavor or texture?
Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease or paper your muffin tins.
Whisk together the flours, corn starch, sea salt, brown sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, melted butter, sour cream, and milk.
Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, always stirring to prevent clumps. Just as it’s almost completely combined, add the walnut pieces and finish stirring until the mix is fully combined.
Fill the muffin tins ¾ full and bake until lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes.
When I recently stepped into the local farmers market, my eyes were treated to a feast of color. It’s amazing how many different colors—not to mention shapes, sizes, and flavors—there are of tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers, and even carrots. And now that heirloom produce is getting so much attention, this variety seems to keep expanding. I knew I had to figure out a way to bring all this color together into a recipe, and I settled on mashed-potato-based roasted stuffed peppers, with a sweet Balsamic sauce.
I should mention that the ingredients list can be pretty fluid. If you can’t find the white eggplant or Pingtung Long eggplant, just use regular purple eggplant. I was told the main difference is that these two varieties are a little less bitter than regular eggplant, but I never found cooked eggplant to be all that offensively bitter to begin with. And by all means, if you only have dried thyme or fresh basil then use what you have. As Martha Stewart so helpfully points out, you need about 3 times as much fresh herbs as you need dried since dried herbs tend to be more potent.
I thought the sauce really finished off this recipe: it filled a gap that I believe is often left in the flavor of stuffed peppers. As a colorful side for this meal, I also prepared steamed Swiss chard with light salt. If you’re not familiar with Swiss chard, it’s a leafy vegetable sort of like kale or spinach, but it has brightly colored stems and veins. It has a little bitterness to it, a lot like kale, but it has a good flavor.
Roasting vegetables can really bring out a sweeter flavor, but some people prefer their vegetables to remain a bit fresher. When roasting these stuffed peppers, pull them out before they get very roasted (about 15-20 minutes in) if you want to maintain some more of that crispness that raw peppers have. If you have drastically varying sizes of peppers, you may want to take out the smaller once before the bigger once because they’ll roast quicker. The pepper in my photograph is actually a little under-roasted for my liking because I had some smaller ones that were starting to go past the perfect roast.
When I lived in Belize, our cook would occasionally make roasted stuffed peppers, but her method of roasting was putting each pepper right on the stovetop over a flame. This worked surprisingly well—none of them caught on fire that I’m aware of—but it will only work for those with gas stoves. Other delicious ways of achieving a tasty roasted stuffed pepper would be to grill or to wrap in foil and set on the hot coals after a fire.
I’m excited to see what comes to the farmers market as the season changes. One dependable favorite will be acorn squash! Does anybody have a favorite farmers market item or has anybody seen anything interesting at a farmers market lately?
10-13 small new potatoes, poked with a fork (enough to make about 2 cups of mashed potatoes)
2 large cloves of garlic, whole
1 whole piece of ginger, about the size of a large garlic clove
1 medium-large shallot or 2 small shallots, finely chopped
5 medium-large shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 medium-small white eggplant, chopped
1-2 medium-small Pingtung Long eggplants, sliced
2 small bell peppers or 1 medium-large bell pepper, chopped.
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1-2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (for sauteing)
fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Poke each tiny potato a few times with a fork. Place the potatoes with the garlic cloves and ginger in a pot and cover with water. Lightly salt if you like and bring to a boil. Once it begins boiling, set it to about medium-high and boil for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes slide off of a knife when inserted and lifted out of the water. Drain and thoroughly mash, being sure to mash the garlic and ginger in.
While the potatoes are boiling, chop your shallots, mushrooms, eggplants, and small bell peppers if you haven’t already. Combine the chopped vegetables in a large skillet with the thyme, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, and mix. Drizzle olive oil over everything and set over medium heat and saute.
Gently combine the mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetable so as to not mash the vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the tops off of the large bell peppers and cut/scoop out the seeds. Stuff with potato-vegetable mix and place the tops back on. Spray a baking pan with oil and set the stuffed peppers inside, then place in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the outside begins to wrinkle. Then take the tops off and continue roasting for another 5-10 minutes.
While the stuffed peppers are roasting, mix the Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, brown sugar, and cinnamon, whisking quickly with a fork to combine. Place in a small saucepan over medium high and stir. Continue stirring as it boils, but don’t boil for long. Take it off of the heat once it appears to thicken a little. If you let it thicken too much, it will harden when cooled. If this happens, reheat briefly before using.
Sprinkle desired amount of Parmesan cheese over roasted pepper and drizzle sauce or cut pepper in half first and then add the cheese and sauce, then serve.
There’s something about eating one of these salmon pitas that just tastes like summer. These recipes for the salmon and sauce were inspired by this salmon burger recipe on the Eating Well website. The caprese salad is a long-time favorite for my wife and me, and it’s so easy to make. Plus, it really does add to the summery feel of the dish.
I bought packaged salmon with skin from Trader Joe’s, so I had to cut off the skin. This is no easy task, so I definitely recommend having it done for you if possible. I found that if you can get your knife a little ways in right along the skin, you can hold the skin against the cutting board with your fingers and then push outward and slightly upward with the knife while maintaining a slightly downward angle of the blade. I know, it sounds tricky, but this is probably a good skill to have anyway, right?
Caprese salad can be different depending on what you love most. If you’re a mozzarella superfan, then you might have giant slices of mozzarella with a tiny tomato slice and a tiny basil leaf. If you can’t get enough of tomatoes, then perhaps yours will look like a mound of tomato slices over a bit of mozzarella with a sprinkling of basil. My personal recommendation is a 1-to-1 ratio in overall amount of mozzarella and tomato, plus a medium-sized basil leaf and about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of olive oil per portion. Some people add salt and pepper, but I really don’t think they’re necessary. And while this is called a salad, I definitely think fingers are acceptable utensils.
The salmon pita is really pretty simple to make, and it’s a good lunch to bring to work. If you bring a pita and little tupperware containers of salmon and sauce and microwave the salmon a bit, then you’ve got a tasty sandwich with which to make your coworkers jealous. Plus, there’s the major benefit of salmon being so good for you, and if you use low-fat or fat-free sour cream and Greek yogurt, this whole meal is excellent.
Relish: Salmon Pita with Creamy Mustard Sauce and Caprese Salad
Author: Jon Schelander-Pugh
Recipe type: Entree
Salmon (about 1 lb. Salmon fillet, skinned)
2 small shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
⅛ teaspoon paprika
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
optional splash of beer (no more than 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoon olive oil
Creamy Mustard Sauce
½ cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
⅛ teaspoon paprika
⅛ teaspoon ground mustard
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried dill
1 tablespoon capers, strained
If your salmon still has skin on it, remove it now. This can be done by inserting a long sharp knife between the meat and skin starting on the tail side, holding the skin against the cutting board, and moving the knife along at a very slightly downward angle while maintaining a slightly upward force. Really, the best thing to do is to get your salmon fresh from the seller and ask them to remove the skin when you buy it.
Cut your salmon into cubes of about ¼ inch. Try using as little back-and-forth motion as possible to avoid making the salmon mushy. Place the salmon in a medium bowl
Finely chop your garlic and shallots. Add to the salmon and carefully mix.
Add the salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and lemon juice and carefully mix. I find that I occasionally enjoy drinking a beer while cooking, and this is a recipe that works to just splash a little beer in while mixing. So if this works for you, give it a try. Use no more than a tablespoon of beer.
Place salmon mixture in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, and up to 1 hour
While salmon is chilling, mix together the Greek yogurt, sour cream, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, paprika, and ground mustard in another medium bowl. Add the dried parsley and dried dill and mix in. Finally, add the strained capers and mix in. I prefer my capers whole, but if you want them to be blended in, pulse the whole mixture a few times in a food processor.
In a large skillet, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, or enough to coat the bottom. Place over medium heat and add the salmon. When you hear it begin to sizzle, stir for about 4 minutes. After that, let it sit for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the salmon starts to slightly brown, remove it from the heat.
Cut a pita in half and place a little bed of lettuce in the pocket of each. Stuff with salmon and then drizzle in the sauce.
For a truly summery dish experience, make a side of caprese salad by thinly slicing fresh mozzarella, then topping the mozzarella slices with tomato slices and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.
Relish is a monthly series by contributor Jon Schelander-Pugh. Check out his bio below to learn more about who Jon is!
Last month I shared the Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe, and I had intended to venture to another genre of food, but a couple things happened to change my mind: I picked up a wonderful mini-bundt cake tray at a garage sale for $2, I made my own yogurt and peanut butter, and I found a recipe for peanut butter yogurt bundt cake. Clearly, Fate was beckoning.
The original recipe I found was shared by Patricia Scarpin on Technicolor Kitchen, and that is a variation of a recipe she found in Lauren Chattman’s Cake Keeper Cakes recipe book. After considering some different options, I made my own alterations and now present to you what I believe is a deep-yet-classically-flavored cake.
While I did make my own peanut butter and yogurt for this recipe, you can certainly use ones from the store. Just make sure the yogurt is plain, and the peanut butter is unsweetened. The cake is sweet as it is, and my peanut butter contains no sugar. Also, I believe you’ll find using pure maple syrup results in a better flavor than if you use the cheaper maple-flavored corn syrup.
While I used mini-bundt cake molds, this recipe is typically made with a 12-cup bundt pan. The original recipe also came with instructions for making a chocolate ganache. However, I found that this cake was sweet enough that I only wanted some chocolate chips on top for a garnish and a chocolate drizzle for a lighter flavor. I found this recipe on Food.com for chocolate sauce worked really well. Their recipe makes a crazy-huge amount of chocolate syrup, so unless you are going through a chocolate milk phase, you can cut it way down.
Here’s what I did: mix together ¼ cup cocoa powder, ½ cup white sugar, and a dash of salt (optional) in a pot; slowly mix in ¼ cup water and then a ½ teaspoon vanilla extract; boil for 3 minutes while constantly stirring; cool until room temperature and strain to remove grit; and then drizzle on anything and everything! Or at least your bundt cake…and your breakfast cereal…and your ice cream……
The batter from this recipe is perhaps the most beautiful batter I’ve ever made or even seen. While I cannot recommend eating this silky-smooth batter due to its raw egg content, if you are to accidentally get some in your mouth you may just find yourself accidentally getting more in your mouth.
This cake is also really good if you just sprinkle on equal parts cocoa powder and powdered sugar. With normal sized bundt cakes, try placing Hershey’s Kisses periodically around the top plus the cocoa powder & powdered sugar mixture.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and lightly flour your bundt pan.
Using a fork or a whisk, combine the yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and maple syrup in a medium bowl.
In another medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a fork or whisk.
In the bowl of a mixer or a large mixing bowl, add the butter, brown sugar, and peanut butter. Using a standing mixer or electric hand mixer, cream for about 3 minutes on medium-high. You may wish to start mixing on low because there is a tendency for the brown sugar to go flying.
With the mixer on low, add a third of the dry mixture to the creamed mixture, then half of the wet mixture, then another third of the dry mixture, then the last of the wet mixture, and finally the last of the dry mixture. Scrape the sides of your bowl between additions.
Turn the mixer on medium-high and beat the mixture for about 1 minute. Reduce to low and add the chocolate baking chips, mixing until all the chips have mixed in (15-30 seconds).
Scrape the batter into your prepared bundt pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes. It should rise and turn a golden-brown, plus a chopstick or skewer inserted halfway between the outside and inside walls of the pan should come out clean.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.
Top with chocolate syrup, a mixture of cocoa powder & powdered sugar, or another chocolatey idea of your own and serve.
This is a delicious cake with a complex flavor due to the darkness of the Guinness. It’s super moist and so delicious, and the cream cheese frosting really completes it. I brought it to work to share because there’s no way Kelly and I should eat this entire cake, and my one co-worker described its tastiness as “sinful.” So say a little prayer and give this cake a try!
Originally, I saw this recipe as a single layer done in a spring form pan, which is another great way to do this. If you have a spring form pan and would rather do one layer, cut my recipe in half and just line the bottom of the spring form pan with parchment paper.
Most chocolate Guinness cake recipes I found were based on a recipe created by Nigella Lawson. I was thankful to Susie Nadler of The Kitchn for her post on Nigella Lawson’s recipe that helped make things a little more clear for me. I had some fun adding my own touches to the recipe, such as the cinnamon and molasses.
I made two mistakes I wish I had enough foresight to avoid. First, I messed up lining my cake pans with parchment paper. I should have cut a strip that could lay flat against the side. Instead, I had one big piece that lied flat on the bottom but was ruffled on the side. This created an uneven, less pretty cake edge. Second, I added my wet mix to my dry mix way too quickly which made my batter a little lumpy. Do avoid little flour clumps throughout the batter, add the wet mix a little at a time, stirring well after each addition.
Even if you don’t like Guinness or dark beers in general, I would still recommend giving it a try because the flavors of Guinness and chocolate really work well in this recipe, and there’s not a strong, obvious Guinness flavor to it. And if you don’t like it, you can make a lot of friends with this cake so it won’t go to waste!
This is a delicious cake with a complex flavor due to the darkness of the Guinness. It’s super moist and so delicious, and the cream cheese frosting really completes it.
2 cups Guinness Extra Stout
2½ sticks of unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups sugar
¾ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ tablespoons molasses
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 – 2½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 350°F
Using butter not intended for the recipe, butter 3 cake pans and then line with parchment paper
In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter and place over medium-low heat until the butter melts. Remove from heat.
Add cocoa, sugar, cinnamon, and molasses, and whisk to blend
In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well, then add to Guinness mixture.
In a very large bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Gently whisk to mix.
Slowly pour wet mixture into the dry mixture in increments, mixing well each time. This is important to reduce the chance of lumpy batter.
Pour batter evenly into the 3 cake pans you buttered and lined, filling each about ⅔ full.
Bake in the middle of the oven until risen and firm, about 45 minutes. Rotate halfway through.
Leaving the cakes in the pans, set on wire racks and let cool completely. They can’t even be warm or else the frosting will melt.
Using an electric mixer or hand mixer, blend the butter, cream cheese, and whipping cream until very smooth (about 3 minutes at medium speed). Periodically scrape the bowl’s sides and bottom for evenness.
Add the vanilla and mix it in.
Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix as you add until you have the thickness and sweetness you want. You may want to whisk the powdered sugar first to get rid of any clumps.
Stack the layers, spreading frosting between each and on the very top. Lightly dust the top with unsweetened cocoa powder.
Relish, a food series, is hosted by guest blogger Jon Schelander-Pugh! Read more about him below this recipe!
In a few cities in Minnesota, there is a pizza restaurant called Pizza Luce, and they have all kinds of wonderful things. One of these pizzas is a garlic mashed potato pizza, and I thought I would set out to make something similar.
The mashed potatoes alone are good, and I made a double batch so we’d have some just to eat later on. You’ll want a thicker dough for this because the potatoes can be heavy for a really thin crust. Bake time will also fluctuate based on dough thickness and if you use a stone, dish, or anything else, so just keep an eye on your pizza as you bake it.
If you aren’t usually a fan of tomatoes, I suggest you try sundried tomatoes instead. I used to hate tomatoes, but I loooooved them sundried. Now I’ve managed to like both.
Something I didn’t do but my wife suggested for next time is having a dish of sour cream to dip the pizza in or a dollop of it on top. I would recommend giving this a try.
And, of course, if you are a fan of bacon, I imagine some crumbled pieces on this pizza would also go over very well. I tend to avoid meats when possible, but I can appreciate the undeniably delicious flavor bacon can bring to a dish.
In a few cities in Minnesota, there is a pizza restaurant called Pizza Luce, and they have all kinds of wonderful things. One of these pizzas is a garlic mashed potato pizza, and I thought I would set out to make something similar.
1.75 lbs russet potatoes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ cup milk
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 cloves garlic
1.5 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
⅛ – ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
1-2 Roma tomatoes, diced
6-8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Peel potatoes and chop into equal-sized pieces. Place in a large pot. Peel the shell/skin off of each clove and place in the pot with the potatoes. Sprinkle the kosher salt over everything and fill with water until it covers it all.
Bring the potatoes & garlic to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium and keep at a rolling boil until the potatoes are soft enough that they break apart when poked with a fork or folk goes all the way through potatoes easily.
While the potatoes are boiling, put milk, sour cream, butter, and chives in a saucepan and heat while constantly stirring until the butter has melted and blended into everything else. Remove from heat.
When the potatoes are done, drain and mash. You can use a fork or anything else that will effectively mash the potatoes. Then mix in the milk mixture and Parmesan cheese, and stir until you have creamy mashed potatoes.
Preheat the oven to 400.
If you need to make your pizza dough, do so now. It would be beneficial to pre-bake a homemade dough for about 10 minutes before putting toppings on.
Spread mashed potatoes over dough, about as much as you would put on sauce. On top of this spread your diced tomatoes and crumbled feta. Sprinkle dried oregano over everything.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until done. Subtract any pre-bake time you might have done for the crust.
This new food-inspired series is called Relish! Today’s guest blogger is Jon and you can find out how to connect with him further down at the bottom of this post! Enjoy!
I began Foodie Friday on my blog as a way of committing to trying at least one new recipe a week, but it was more about the food photography than learning how to cook. The actual cooking part was intimidating, and I assumed I would turn down a lot of recipes due to complexity. What I discovered, though, is that cooking is really easy no matter who you are. I know Rachael Ray says stuff like that all the time, but now you’re hearing it from me: some dude with a blog.
This made practically every recipe an option so I started theming my months, and this month I’m focusing on egg-based recipes. One of my favorite egg dishes to eat is quiche, but I’ve never made it before—clearly I was meant to make it.
My search for an appealing recipe led me to the website Taste of Home, which I will definitely visit again. They have a recipe for a mushroom asparagus quiche that looked amazing. I made only a few minor modifications, and it is probably the best quiche I’ve had. Even my wife Kelly—typically not a fan of quiche—said she really enjoyed it.
If you’re a timid cook, I hope you make it all the way through that list because it’s really not so bad. You cut up a bunch of vegetables, throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl, mix it all together, and then bake it. See? Simple.
Regarding the crust: you can buy a crust at a supermarket or you can make your favorite home-made crust (keep in mind you want less sugar in a crust since this isn’t a sweet pie). If you avoid gluten, you can even buy or make gluten-free crusts, making this a gluten-free dish!
I used a super simple quiche crust recipe from Food.com which goes like this: mix 1 cup of flour with 1/2 tsp. salt; in a separate bowl beat together 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup ice or refrigerated water until “mixed;” pour the wet stuff into the dry stuff and mix with a fork; roll it out thin and round (no need for perfection, though); and place it in a pie dish or tin. Set it aside for later! One note: I used 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, and it turned out really good. Also, you may need to slightly pre-bake some crusts if you use a different one.
A modified version of Taste of Home’s Mushroom Asparagus Quiche. It can even be made gluten-free!
1½ lbs. fresh asparagus
½ cup rehydrated Porcini mushrooms
2 medium-large shallots
1-3 cloves garlic
¼ cup butter, cubed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
¾ cup shredded Colby cheese
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup parsley
¼ tsp. sea salt
⅛ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. basil
¼ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. sage
Alright, now start out by re-hydrating the mushrooms. If you don’t have directions with your mushrooms, you rehydrate by pouring ½ cup boiling water over dried mushrooms and letting it sit for 30 minutes. You can really use any mushroom you favor, dried or fresh, but I LOVE Porcini. It has rich flavor, almost smoky. I highly recommend it.
Trim the woody ends of the asparagus, then cut into ½-inch pieces.
Once the mushrooms are re-hydrated, drain and dab dry with a paper towel then chop them.
Combine the shallots, garlic, asparagus, and mushrooms in a large frying pan, add the cubed butter, and saute until the asparagus is tender-crisp (not crunchy anymore, but not squishy either). Set aside and preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and sage. You may say to yourself at this point, “There is no freaking way this is enough egg!” Fear not, though, because it is. Mix it all thoroughly, then stir in the sauteed vegetables.
Finally, pour everything into your crust, spread it flat, and bake it for 25-35 minutes or until a knife inserted near the edge comes out clean. Let it stand for about 5 minutes before you cut it into slices.
It looks like a lot, but—like I said before—it’s just chopping, sauteing, mixing, and baking. Simple.
Over the past 5 years I've been able to dabble in the freelance world, start a few businesses + get a grip on my health! Just keep in mind that any advice on this blog is my own opinion and it doesn't come with any guarantees. If you need professional assistance with your business or health - you should consult a lawyer / accountant / doctor. Thanks!