Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fall Panzanella Salad

I'm back with a nice light fall salad to counteract the decadent desserts I've been posting recently! As I've mentioned before, I could subsist on panzanella salad forever, but sadly tomatoes are not even close to being in season right now. So I was beyond excited to find this recipe for a fall panzanella salad! It combines all the most delicious fall and winter vegetables - butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and brussels sprouts with toasted bread and pomegranate seeds for crunch. Now, I know brussels sprouts are not the most exciting vegetable out there, but I think they just have a bad reputation. By slicing them thinly and sauteing them so they get crispy (not mushy!), they add delicious texture and flavor. Served over a little bed of lettuce, this salad is hearty enough for a full meal and is definitely a new standby in the Elmwood Eats home...until summer!

Fall Panzanella Salad (adapted from How Sweet Eats)
Serves 4
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
About 2 cups brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon
5 slices ciabatta bread (or whatever bread you like), cut into chunks
Seeds from one pomegranate (I spent what seemed like forever seeding the pomegranate but I know Trader Joe's has packages of just the seeds available...brilliant!)
3-4 cups mixed greens

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
Pinch salt, pepper, and coriander

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large baking pan, toss the cubes of squash and sweet potato with salt, pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, and two tablespoons olive oil. Bake the vegetables for about 25 minutes, turning them halfway through so they get evenly cooked.

Meanwhile, saute the brussels sprouts in one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, just until they start to brown and get crisp around the edges. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and set aside.

Once the squash and sweet potatoes are finished roasting, transfer them to a bowl to cool. In the same roasting pan, toss the bread cubes with one tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Bake those in the oven for just 5-7 minutes, until they barely start to brown. Mmm...toasty bread!

Finally, make the dressing - just combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine!

To assemble the salads, first toss the greens with the dressing, and divide onto four plates. Top with the bread, squash, sweet potato, brussels sprouts, and pomegranate seeds. 

We got our Christmas tree last weekend and Poppy is SO smells good, it's shiny and sparkly, and it has her own personal water bowl!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Wow, long time no blog! I feel like it's a total cliche to talk about how busy things are due to the holiday season blah blah blah, but it's true. Last weekend included a whirlwind trip to San Luis Obispo for a wedding catering tasting - luckily it was worth the drive because the food was amazing and we booked the caterer!

Ok, I normally try not to post two dessert recipes in a row but I couldn't not share this one with you. It's just a slight twist on the classic pecan pie - the crust is super flaky and the filling almost tastes like a rich chocolate brownie. I actually don't love normal pecan pie because it can be so intensely sweet sometimes, but with this recipe the semisweet chocolate helps cut some of the candy-like taste. Plus...isn't everything better with chocolate?!

Chocolate Pecan Pie (recipe from

Crust (my go-to crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen):
*This will make two crusts, so just freeze one and use it later!
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed, very cold

  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan pieces, lightly toasted

For the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add in the cubes of butter and use a pastry blender or your fingers to distribute it through the flour mixture until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. It's important not to over mix here - clumps of butter are great because they help create a more tender, flaky crust. Drizzle 1/2 cup of ice cold water over the flour/butter mixture and use your hands to bring the dough together. Add a little more water if it's feeling too dry and not coming together. Eventually you'll want to form the dough into a ball - it shouldn't be crumbling apart, but it also shouldn't be sticky and wet. Divide the dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for at least two hours (or up to a week) before using.

Now for the filling! First, melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over medium-low heat, just until melted. Set the chocolate aside to cool a little and move on to the pecans! I toasted my pecans in a pan over low heat, stirring them around constantly for just 3 or 4 minutes so they don't burn.

Then chop them up! Or just buy pre-chopped ones, who will know the difference?

Next, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Then stir in the corn syrup and the chocolate mixture.

Roll out your pie crust and get it all situated in the pie pan, then sprinkle the pecans evenly across the crust. Pour the filling on top - the pecans will float up a little and get distributed throughout the pie.

I put some whole pecans on top just to be fancy! Bake it at 325 for about 50-55 minutes, until the filling puffs up a little and the crust is golden.

Poppy has been...ahem...bulking up for the winter. She's eating a little more and her fur is completely out of control, as you can see.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cranberry Crumb Bars

Happy almost Thanksgiving! I have a lot to be thankful loving family, great friends, and amazing fiance. My job at a wonderful organization. Food, especially cheese and chocolate. The gorgeous wedding dress that I just ordered (!!). My cozy apartment and cute neighborhood with all the most delicious bakeries and restaurants packed onto one block. I could keep going! What are you thankful for this year?

Do you guys read Smitten Kitchen? If you don't, you must! Deb, the writer and photographer, not only takes incredible photos but creates simple, reliable recipes. Her blog is the first one I look to when I need to find a recipe or I need inspiration. So of course I was SO excited when the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook came out last month! I dropped the ball on ordering it so I just got it in the mail this week and spent hours flipping through it, bookmarking the recipes I want to try (which turned out to be nearly all of them).

These Cranberry Crumb Bars are the perfect holiday dessert - lightly spiced, with a perfect balance of sweet and tart. Let's be honest, very few of us actually want to eat a big piece of heavy cake or pie after a hearty holiday dinner. Make these instead!

Cranberry Crumb Bars (from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
3 cups (12 oz) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Deb recommends lining the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper - I didn't have any and just greased the pan with butter, which worked fine! In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices. With a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers, work the chilled butter and the egg into the flour mixture until it is the texture of coarse meal.  Pour half the crumb base into the prepared baking pan and use your fingers to press it evenly into the bottom of the pan.

For the filling, pulse all ingredients in a blender or food processor until the berries are roughly chopped (I may have taken mine a little too far but it still worked!).

Spread the cranberry filling over the crust base, and sprinkle the remaining crumb topping over the top.

Bake the bars for 30 to 35 minutes, until light brown on top. Cool completely, then cut into squares.

The bars are perfect served with vanilla ice cream on the side...yum!

Oh, one more thing - I'm thankful for Poppy. Especially thankful that she didn't jump on the table and start eating the bars I was trying to photograph!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Indian Flatbread and Spicy Tomato-Shallot Jam

I've mentioned this before, but Gabe's (my fiance) mom and stepdad recently moved to St. Helena, in the beautiful Napa Valley wine country. It's always great to go up and visit them, and we are getting completely spoiled by all the amazing wine and food in the area! Plus, it is incredibly beautiful up there in the fall - all the grape vines are turning yellow and orange and the air smells like Cabernet...seriously.

On Saturday, we took a cooking class through the Napa Valley College cooking school and it was SO much fun! The class was based around flatbreads and dips and spreads, with a Middle Eastern theme. Gabe and I were in charge of making an Indian Chapati (flatbread) and a spicy tomato-shallot jam. Other people made pita bread with white bean hummus, lavash with mushroom pate, Moroccan chickpea bread (my favorite!) with an eggplant dip, and naan with cilantro mint chutney. It was a carb fest for sure!

The chapati is a similar to a tortilla, and is cooked in a dry pan over the stove. Then it's brushed with butter (yum) and sprinkled with a mixture of spices. The tomato-shallot jam was SUPER spicy but a perfect complement to the bread. Next time I might make it a little more mild and add it to salads or spread it on sandwiches!

Chapati (Indian Flatbread):
Dough - 
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and spice topping - grind all spices together with the salt using a mortar and pestle or pepper grinder or the end of a rolling pin...get creative!
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup kosher salt

Tomato-Shallot Jam:
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
About 2 tablespoons shallot, minced (about 1/2 of a shallot)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons cumin
1 cinnamon stick
10 garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds tomatoes, chopped (Roma are best but you can use any kind!)
1/3 cup brown sugar
Salt to taste
3 Serrano chiles, minced (Optional!! Only use the chiles if you really like spice. Or just dial it down to one chile. Also consider wearing gloves while chopping them...seriously they're that hot!)

Ok, let's break it down. I know it's a lot of ingredients and obscure spices, so just use as many of them as you can, no need to go out and by $50 worth of new spices for one recipe. Also please excuse the iPhone photos!

For the Chapati, mix the flour, water, and oil to make a soft, pliable dough. Once it comes together, let it rest in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece out on a lightly floured surface until they're about 7 inches in diameter. As we learned the hard way, they will stick together like crazy, so spread them all out on a counter or a baking sheet until you're ready to cook them.

Heat a heavy frying pan (cast iron or stainless steel would be best) over high heat on the stove. Cook one Chapati at a time, about 30 seconds on each side until the dough bubbles and develops dark blisters. They're HOT so use tongs to flip them!

Brush them with melted butter and sprinkle with the spice and salt mixture, then eat up while they're warm.

Ok, it's tomato-shallot jam time! In a large saucepan, heat the oil and mustard seeds until the seeds begin to sizzle and pop. Then add the cider vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well, then let it all simmer for 30 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. 

The mixture will reduce and start looking less like a salsa and more like a jam. You can use the back of a spoon to mash up the tomatoes a little and help the process along.

Once the jam has cooked for about 30 minutes, taste it and add salt as needed. We probably added about a teaspoon, if not more!

Here's the amazing spread we all created!

And the finished Chapati...perfectly crispy.

Don't worry, I wouldn't leave you without a Poppy she is in the bathtub. It's not my best work but I love the mischievous look in her eyes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Life Lately

Whew, so much is going on around here lately! My wonderful friend and old college roommate has been visiting and we've been exploring all of the amazing food the Bay Area has to offer. Here's just a small sampling...


I made had smoked paprika in it. I took pictures of all the ingredients but got so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a picture of the final product - oops!

We went to the Ferry Building in San Francisco aka food heaven.

Vegan donuts. SO GOOD.

I'm so obsessed with the building - so many pretty details!

Salted caramel vegan donut about 2 seconds away from being devoured.

It was a beautiful, warm fall day in the city.

Gorgeous ladies!

Happy hour drinks including my favorite cucumber basil gimlet...

All gone!

Gabe carved a Cheshire Cat pumpkin.

Margaritas and vegan Mexican food at Gracias Madre - amazing!!

Finally, we have a special edition of the Poppy picture for Halloween. Gabe created these and I think they're pretty brilliant.

As Cartman from South Park

And a ghost

And appropriately, as an evil witch on a broom : ) Happy Halloween everyone!

Monday, October 22, 2012


This past weekend, I took a food photography and styling class hosted by Joy the Baker and Tracy of Shutterbean at the beautiful Teahouse Studio in Berkeley! It was so fun to meet both of those talented ladies and gain a ton of photography, styling, and blogging knowledge from them!

Here's what went down...

Lots of picture-taking, sometimes while standing on chairs

Pumpkin Bourbon Milkshakes...more on that in a second!

The cozy, beautiful Teahouse!

Ingredients shots for granola

Mmmm ginger

Here's the Pumpkin Bourbon Milkshake. It was so hard to focus on taking pictures of it because I just wanted to stick my face in it...I mean, daintily sip it from a pretty straw.

It was such a fun day! Thanks Joy, Tracy, and all the other awesome people who were there.