Homemade Celery Salt

One of the best things I did while living in Minneapolis was join a CSA, or community supported agriculture program. I loved walking down the street to my neighborhood coffee shop each week and picking up a big box of amazingly fresh organic veggies from a local farm. I eagerly looked forward to the e-mail explaining what would be delivered each week and had fun trying new ways to eat my vegetables.

When we got settled here in LA, I immediately started looking up similar programs. We have a fantastic farmer’s market in our neighborhood every Sunday, but the sheer amount of choices were honestly a bit overwhelming. I would gravitate toward avocados and berries and almost never buy any greens. (Guilty.) So I did some research and joined a local CSA a couple months ago. I love supporting SavRaw* because I get all sorts of fun and interesting produce– summer squash shaped like stars!– and I also get to support local schools as well as sustainable farmers.

So every Sunday, we get a box full of six different veggies and two pounds of fruit delivered right to our door. Usually I’m pretty happy with the choices, but I do let out a groan when I see a huge bunch of celery poking out of the box. Not my favorite vegetable, but I don’t want it to go to waste. I’ll usually slice it up and eat it with hummus, or dice it and throw it in the freezer for winter soups.

One week, I decided to actually do something with the celery leaves themselves: homemade celery salt! Believe it or not, this was super easy and one of those “Why didn’t I think of that before?” projects. The volume can vary, but the leaves of one bunch of celery made about 1/4 cup of celery salt for me. It’s really fresh tasting, perfect for perking up tuna salad or sprinkling on hardboiled eggs. Of course, I still had to eat the stalks themselves, but luckily I had a fresh batch of hummus to help me with that.

* Disclaimer: This post was in no way sponsored by SavRaw. I just love my CSA!

Homemade celery salt

Homemade celery salt

Homemade celery salt

Homemade Celery Salt

  • fresh celery leaves from one bunch of celery
  • flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 300° F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pick the celery leaves off the individual stalks and place them in a colander. Rinse the leaves under cold running water and then dry them in a salad spinner or by gently blotting them with paper towels.

Arrange the leaves on the baking sheet in a single layer (use a second sheet if you have to). Bake for 7-12 minutes, watching closely. You want the leaves to dry out completely but not turn brown. Remove baking sheet from oven and let leaves cool completely. They should be very dry and crispy. (If any of the leaves are still soft or wet, you can bake them again in two-minute increments until they’re dry.)

Using a food processor, mortar and pestle, or simply your fingers, crumble the celery leaves until they’re about the same size as the flakes of salt you’re using. Pour the ground leaves into a measuring cup to see how much volume you have, then add the same volume of salt. Stir until well combined. Store in an airtight container.

Yield will vary.

Source: Sassy Kitchen

Crunchy Nuts & Seeds Granola

When Gabe and I were recently in London, we were lucky to be able to stay with his older brother and sister-in-law. Aside from the awesome company, one of the major perks of staying with them was that we didn’t have to scrounge around for breakfast each morning. They provided quite a spread of coffee, fruit, cereal, pastries, bread, yogurt, granola, and apricot preserves that I’m still dreaming about.

I quickly grew obsessed with the granola, a savory mixture of oats, nuts, and seeds. The thing I loved most was its delightful crispy crunchiness, which contrasted well with creamy yogurt and sweet fruit. I snapped a photo of the ingredient list on the back of the bag so I could try to recreate it once we got home.

Crunchy nuts and seeds granola

Of course, things in England are a wee bit different from the United States. Despite sharing a language with the mother country, the different names for certain foods left us scratching our heads at times during our visit. We quickly learned that aubergine is eggplant, courgette is zucchini, and yoghurt is… yogurt.

So when we got home and I set out to make this granola, I had to google a few things. Turns out black treacle is molasses and linseeds are flaxseeds. Once my translations were complete, I set to work.

This granola has a number of different components, but it comes together easily and less expensively if you shop the bulk foods section of the grocery store, buying just the amount of nuts and seeds you need. Although the original recipe called for hazelnuts, cashews, and pistachios, I think you can get by with just one of the three, or sub in another nut of your choosing. Coconut oil and a fairly long baking time made the granola nice and crispy, adding a delightful crunch to my mornings now that I’m stateside again!

Crunchy nuts & seeds granola

Crunchy nuts & seeds granola

Crunchy Nuts & Seeds Granola

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup unsweetened dried coconut (shredded, flakes, whatever)
  • 1 cup whole nuts of your choice (I recommend hazelnuts, cashews, or pistachios)*
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup golden flaxseeds
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. molasses

Preheat oven to 300° F. In a large bowl, stir together oats. almonds, wheat germ, coconut, nuts, seeds, and salt. In a glass measuring cup, stir together coconut oil, water, honey and molasses. Pour the coconut oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir well, until the oat mixture is completely moistened.

Pour the oat mixture onto a large rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 45-55 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the granola is browned and crunchy. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 9 cups granola.

* Make sure all the nuts and seeds you buy for this recipe are unsalted, otherwise you will have a very salty granola!

Source: A Lingonberry Jam original.

Miso Brown Rice Cakes

When it comes to cooking, I always want to try something new. I rarely make the same thing for dinner twice within a six-month span. I keep a spreadsheet of recipes I’ve tried and loved because I make things so infrequently that I actually forget about them. There are so many amazing recipes out there that I can’t fathom making the same thing over and over again. Not when there are new recipes to try!

I will admit this character flaw trait can be quite annoying. You love something that I cooked for you? Too bad, you probably won’t see it again for half a year. But some recipes are good enough to shake up my system. The minute I took a bite of one of these miso brown rice cakes (which I admit sound totally boring) I immediately wanted to make them for dinner the next night. And the next night. I even ate one cold straight out of the fridge the following day because I couldn’t wait any longer to taste them again.

This recipe has gone into heavy rotation for me, meaning I made it twice within four weeks. The cakes are really savory thanks to mushrooms and miso paste, and a spoonful of spicy mayo kicks up the flavor even more. With a side of sautéed green beans or a salad, you have yourself a hearty vegetarian meal that you’ll want to eat again and again. Trust me.

Miso brown rice cakes

Miso Brown Rice Cakes

  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 Tbs. olive or sunflower seed oil, divided
  • 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 3 3/4 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • salt
  • 3 Tbs. red miso paste*
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • pepper

Gently remove the stems of the shiitake mushrooms by holding the cap in one hand and pulling the stem with the other, near where the stem meets the cap. Discard the stems and roughly chop the shiitakes.

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat 1 Tbs. oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in a cup of the water or stock and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining water, rice, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered, for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. The rice is done when it’s tender and all the water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together miso paste, green onions, sesame oil, egg and egg yolk, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

Spread the cooked rice onto a rimmed baking sheet and let cool for 15 minutes. Transfer the cooled rice to a food processor (working in batches if your food processor is small) and chop for about 10 seconds, or until the rice is coarsely chopped and the mixture is sticky. Transfer the rice to the large bowl with the miso mixture and stir until everything is well combined. Shape the mixture into eight patties, about 3-4 inches in diameter and 3/4-inch thick.

Place the patties onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until firm.

Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Transfer four of the chilled rice cakes to the skillet and cook until browned, flipping once, for 2-4 minutes on each side. Be careful when you flip the cakes, as they can be a bit delicate, so don’t try to flip them until you know the bottom side is nicely browned. Transfer the cakes to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 1 Tbs. oil and four more cakes. Serve hot, with a dollop of spicy mayo (see below) on top.

Source: Slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.”

* I couldn’t find miso paste at my regular grocery store, so I ordered it online. There are several different types of miso paste so make sure you get the red one; it has a much deeper flavor. Don’t worry if it comes in a large container; the stuff lasts forever in the fridge.


Spicy Mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl and serve.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.”

Homemade Butter

Ah, yes. You knew this day would come, didn’t you? Actually, I first made homemade butter well over a year ago, but I never got around to posting it on the blog. I was recently inspired to make butter again after Gabe and I flew back from Paris a few weeks ago. We spontaneously upgraded our tickets to business class (honeymoon, right?) and were blown away by the experience. I almost cried when I woke up a bit overheated from a nap and was instantly greeted by a flight attendant passing out cookies ‘n’ cream Häagen-Dazs.

There were so many lovely little touches that will make it very hard, alas, for me to continue the rest of my life as a BOTPP (“Back of the Plane Person,” according to my brother-in-law), but I was surprised that one of my favorite parts of the flight was the butter. Yes, you read that right. Since we flew Air France, we were treated to rich, creamy butter from Normandy that was flecked with tiny crystals of sea salt. I shamelessly spread it on my bread as thick as jam. And then I vowed to make some once we got home.

I don’t have cows from Normandy, but I was able to get a pint of organic heavy cream from the grocery store. And using my stand mixer (set to “super domestic”… I mean speed eight), within a few minutes I had about a half pound of soft, rich, homemade butter. I added extra flakes of sea salt to give it that French flair, bien sûr, and you should too!

Homemade butter

Homemade Butter

  • 1 pint heavy cream (organic, and especially grass-fed, will give you the best flavor)
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste

Pour the cream and 1/4 tsp. salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.* Then cover the entire mixer with a dish towel. I can’t stress this enough: unless you want a kitchen splattered with cream, cover up that mixer.

Turn the mixer to medium high. The mixer will first turn the cream into whipped cream, then it will start to separate. You’ll hear a lot of loud splashing when the solids have separated from the liquids. When you see large chunks of butter have formed and are starting to stick to the paddle, the butter is done. Stop the mixer and use a colander or mesh strainer to drain the liquid into a small bowl. (Congratulations: you have just made buttermilk! Use it for biscuits or pancakes or something.)

Squeeze the butter with your hands and rinse it under cold running water until the liquids run clear. Squeeze as much water as possible from the butter, then taste it and knead in more salt if desired. Form the butter into a ball or sticks and refrigerate. The butter will keep for about a month in the refrigerator, longer in the freezer.

Makes about 8 ounces butter.

Source: Very slightly adapted from Living Well Spending Less.

* I’ve also read that you can use a food processor instead of a stand mixer. I’ve never tried this myself, so please let me know if you try it and it works!

Plum Torte

Gabe and I just got back from our honeymoon at last: a whirlwind trip to London and Paris! We also celebrated our one-year anniversary and Gabe’s completion of the California Bar Exam, so we killed three birds with one stone.

Speaking of stones, I spent the weeks before our trip practically swimming in stone fruit. Peaches, plums, nectarines, you name it! I ate most of it raw, but sometimes it was just a wee bit too much to handle. So I turned it into dessert.

This plum torte recipe from the New York Times is quite famous but new to me. It’s a great way to use up a bounty of summer fruit. Shortly before we left for Europe, I gave it a whirl, baking an assortment of 10 plums into a delightful torte.

And then just a mere week later, I saw a very similar cake at one of Ottolenghi’s  London delis. So I ordered a ginormous slab of it and ate the entire thing while sitting on a patch of grass outside Buckingham Palace. I could barely move afterwards, but it was totally worth it. Gotta catch that summer stone fruit while you can!

Plum torte

Plum torte

Plum torte

Plum Torte

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 small plums (or 8-10 larger ones), halved and pitted
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon mixed with 1 Tbs. sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Place granulated sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes or so. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix on medium speed (scraping the bowl occasionally) until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. The batter will be thick.

Transfer batter to a 9-inch springform pan and spread it out evenly. Gently press the plum halves into the batter. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top. If your springform pan has a tendency to leak, place it on a large jellyroll pan. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the cake (not inserted into a plum) comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. Serves 8-12.

Source: Very slightly adapted from Marian Burros and the New York Times via Smitten Kitchen.

Spicy Honey Caramel Corn

Despite the fact that I grew up in the 90’s, there are a number of things I didn’t really experience during that decade. I wasn’t a huge fan of Power Rangers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I never owned a Walkman. And I was too busy devouring Anne of Green Gables to even consider cracking open one of the Baby-Sitters Club books. (Oh but Sweet Valley High? Now that’s a different story…)

I’m thinking about all this since a huge wave of 90’s nostalgia seems to be crashing over America right now, especially when it comes to movies and TV shows. All the reruns, remakes, and reunions tend to evoke a whole lot of excitement– unless you’ve never seen the originals. It was with that in mind that Gabe and I sat down to watch Jurassic Park on Friday night. The first one.

Yeah, I’d never seen the original Jurassic Park movie. (Don’t look at me that way, friendly but bewildered cashier at Whole Foods.) In my defense, it would have scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid. But I’m slightly less jumpy nowadays, so I decided it was time. (The verdict? Pretty good movie, but even better music.)

So if you’re jumping on the 90’s nostalgia bandwagon and looking for a delightful snack to munch on while binge-watching Seinfeld or anticipating the Full House remake, I highly suggest this spicy honey caramel corn. It has all the sweetness of classic caramel corn, but the addition of cayenne pepper puts this treat firmly in the grownup camp. Even if your entertainment choices are bringing you right back to childhood.

Spicy Honey Caramel Corn

Spicy Honey Caramel Corn

Spicy Honey Caramel Corn

  • 1 cup unpopped popcorn
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper*
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250° F with two racks placed near the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Pop the popcorn on the stove or in a popcorn maker. (I love my air popper.) Set it aside in the largest bowl or container you have, keeping in mind that you’ll need room to toss the popcorn with the caramel mixture. I often use a big stockpot, but you can also use two bowls.

In a small bowl, whisk together cayenne and baking soda. Set aside.

Over medium heat, melt butter in a two-quart saucepan. Stir in honey, brown sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Once the mixture begins boiling, let it continue to boil for five minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and carefully add the baking soda mixture and vanilla extract. The caramel will bubble up violently and might splatter, so be sure to stand back! When it has stopped splattering, stir the caramel carefully to make sure the vanilla and baking soda mixture are evenly mixed in.

Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir until the popcorn is well coated. Be very careful not to touch the caramel– it’s hot! Evenly scoop the popcorn onto the two baking sheets. Bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes or so. Test the popcorn for doneness by cooling a small piece and tasting it. The popcorn is done when it’s perfectly crispy, not mushy at all. If it’s still soft, keep baking!

Remove from oven and let cool completely on baking sheets. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

* Use 1/4 tsp. cayenne for popcorn that has just a hint of spice. Use more if you like things hotter!

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats and also inspired by Smitten Kitchen.

Patriotic Popsicles

Happy July, everyone! We’re getting ready to head up to Carmel Valley tomorrow for the wedding weekend extravaganza for some dear friends of ours. And since it’s the Fourth of July, we get to celebrate both wedded bliss and ‘Murica. Talk about fireworks.

If you’re feeling inspired to celebrate the good old USA by making frozen treats this weekend, here’s a fun and fairly simple project. I couldn’t resist. Because summer = popsicles, and the Fourth of July = red, white, and blue food.

This recipe is more of a technique than an actual recipe. Feel free to adjust it to fit your own taste preferences and the size of your popsicle molds. One thing I have to mention: for each pouring step, be very careful to fill the molds from the center so you don’t drip any puree on the insides– or you’ll get messy-looking popsicles. Of course, they’ll get messy when they melt (see exhibit A below), but hey, that’s part of the fun! Hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July!

Patriotic popsicles

Side note: Those of you who know me well understand that two of my least favorite things are being cold and being sticky. Taking this photo was a true labor of love. ;)

Patriotic Popsicles

  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • milk
  • 12 oz. strawberries
  • honey, to taste

In a blender or food processor, puree blueberries until smooth. Taste and add honey if desired. (Remember, things taste more tart once they’re frozen!) Pour equal amounts of the blueberry puree into popsicle molds, filling the bottom third or so of the molds. Freeze until firm.

In a small bowl, stir together greek yogurt and a tablespoon or two of milk until it’s a good pouring consistency. Stir in honey to taste. When the blueberry layer of popsicles is frozen solid, cover it with a short layer of greek yogurt mixture, maybe half an inch or so depending on the size of your molds. Refrigerate remaining yogurt mixture and freeze popsicles until firm.

In a blender or food processor, puree strawberries until smooth. Stir in honey if desired. Pour a layer of strawberry puree into the popsicle molds over the frozen greek yogurt layer. (Keep them close to the same size to resemble the stripes on the flag.) Place tinfoil over the tops of the popsicle molds and insert popsicle sticks. (The foil helps them stay in place.) Freeze until firm.

Finish the popsicles by adding one more layer of greek yogurt and one final layer of strawberry puree, freezing between each step. Once the popsicles are frozen solid, they’re ready to serve. Release from popsicle molds by carefully running hot water over the molds until they loosen.

Makes six three-ounce popsicles.

Source: Oh the Things We’ll Make.