Thursday, December 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Panettone

The December 2012 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by the talented Marcellina of Marcellina in Cucina.  Marcellina challenged us to create our own custom Panettone, a traditional Italian holiday bread.

The word Panettone is derived from the Italian "panetto" meaning small cake, but adding "one" to the end of the word changes the meaning to "large cake".  It's association with Christmas was first written about in the 18th century as a "Pan di Tono" or "luxury cake".  There are several romantic legends surrounding it's origins, one having to do with a baker named Antonio (Pan di Tony) but it seems unlikely since only Americans use this nickname for Antonio.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rainy Winter Days

On rainy winter days, my Garden Supervisor likes to spend the day in bed purring to Nora Jones on her iphone.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cranberry Nut Muffins

These cranberry nut muffins are perfect for a holiday morning breakfast  They're made with whole grain flour, coconut sugar and tomato juice so they aren't too sweet and the nuts add protein.  I can hear you say "tomato juice?" Yes, these tasty muffins are made with tomato juice, but they don't really have a tomato flavor.  The acid in the juice helps to activate the baking powder and soda which allows them to be egg free.  I love the science aspect of cooking, I find it fascinating.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Planting Bulbs

The sun was out this weekend after a lot of rain and flooding.  We decided it was time to do a little garden clean up and plant some bulbs.  We bought this big box of crocus bulbs some time ago and never got around to planting them. After raking up all of the fallen leaves and acorns and composting the dead flowers, cucumber, bean and squash plants, we  planted the bulbs. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wild Rice and Corn Chowder

Seriously, I could eat soup for dinner every night and never get bored with it, especially during the winter months when the weather is cold.  Soup is the perfect one pot meal, full of vegetables, warm and hearty.  I like to make a really big pot so I have leftovers for lunch.  Today, to combat a week of rain and flooding,  I made a wild rice and corn chowder.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge: 12 Days of Cookies

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

Our challenge was to make at least one of the twelve cookie or bar recipes provided.  I chose to make the chocolate hazelnut cookies.  I followed the recipe exactly, except for substituting the egg with one tablespoon of ground flax seeds and three tablespoons of water and the cow's milk with almond milk.  I did cut the recipe in half because 4 dozen cookies is a little much.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

I bought a beautiful organic pumpkin to carve for Halloween and then it rained most of the day, so I didn't carved it.  I figured we wouldn't get any trick or treaters anyway.  (we only had four).  Mr. RK was happy to eat all the extra chocolate, but what to do with that beautiful pumpkin?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

First Hard Frost

We had our first hard frost this week.  The kind of frost that burns the leaves of the summer crops like squashes, cucumbers and beans and puts an end to their harvest.  It came late this year, but we've had all the tell tail signs that it was coming.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Apricot Pine Nut Cauliflower Pilaf

Recently, I came across several recipes for cauliflower pilaf on Paleo Diet websites, these recipes replaced the traditional rice in a pilaf with finely chopped cauliflower.  I loved the idea because we love this beautiful vegetable I'm always looking for new ways to cook it..  These recipes all called for steaming the cauliflower to make it soft, but I chose to roast it, to give it a richer flavor and a more grain like texture. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Mille-Feuille (Napoleons)

Our October 2012 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full.  Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky pastry, but then to take it a step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!

Mille-Feuille is french for a "thousand layers" referring to the layers of puff pastry in this delicate dessert.  The three layers of pastry are alternated with creme patissiere or pastry cream.  The Italians (and most Americans) call this pastry a Napoleon. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I've been working on my vegan brownie recipe for years, striving for that perfect balance of a crunchy top with a fudgy center.  I've tried brownies with tofu and brownies with black beans.  I've tried sweetening them with coconut sugar or agave, all without success.  I believe I finally done it, finally perfected the vegan brownie.  I've made this recipe twice now and they were delicious.  They're made with a lot of sugar, raw sugar, but it's still sugar.  I just can't get that crunchy top with out it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Cake

We harvested all of our apples in September and now there are just a few misshapen and buggy ones left, rolling around in my refrigerator.  It's time to stop ignoring them and put them to good use.  This was the inspiration behind an apple filled cinnamon cake.  That, and the fact that you can smell fall in the air.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Empanada Gallega

Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers' hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family's favorite recipes for Empanadas!  We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Fall Garden

We went on a late summer vacation to a warm climate with palm lined beaches to take some much needed time off.  Right before we left, I harvested the last of the Burbank tomatoes and most of the heirlooms.  I did cook a big pot of pasta sauce, which I canned, but I ran out of time so I went the quick and easy route which was to dice and freeze the remaining tomatoes.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Our New Neighbor

This is our adorable new neighbor Koa.  He moved in next door about a month ago and already he's grown several inches.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

German Chocolate Cake

Today is Mr. RK's birthday.  Our family tradition is that you get the dinner and dessert of your choosing and he chose tamale pie (no surprise there, he picks that every year) and German chocolate cake.  I doubled my German chocolate cupcake recipe but used shredded coconut instead of wide chip.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blackberry Ricotta Cornbread

I saw this recipe on a blog, The Best Remedy, and thought it was a wonderful combination of flavors.  Since I had all of the ingredients on hand, I felt compelled to "veganize" the it and bake up a batch.  I have tons of blackberries ripening in my garden, most of which I'm freezing for use later, because there is no way we can eat them all now.  I also have most of that container of Tofutti non-dairy ricotta sitting in my fridge as well as an ear of corn.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

First Tomatoes of the Season

I picked our first ripe tomatoes of the season.  Just a handful of cherry tomatoes and one little Roma, but still it's exciting, at least for a gardening geek like me.  The first tomatoes always taste amazing, probably because you've been waiting so long for them to ripen...but more likely it's that they ripen on the vine.  Last year was such a disaster, most of our plants died from some sort of mold.  

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thieving Squirrels

This is a thieving squirrel.  He wasn't always bad.  Two years ago he lived across the street in an oak tree with his friends and relatives eating acorns.  Then, the oak tree died and my neighbors cut it down.  That's when this squirrel and his friends and relatives moved into my back yard to live in my oak tree.  That's when he discovered my almond tree.  That's when he decided he liked almonds better than acorns.  The thieving squirrel started to eat my almonds before they were ripe.  Apparently, he doesn't really like unripe almonds, so he threw them on the ground and tried another and another and another.  Isn't that the definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results?  So, what I really have is an insane thieving squirrel.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Crackers

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers' Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers!  Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged us to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

When I read this challenge, my mind went immediately to Ritz crackers and wheat thins, the classics.  As a kid, Ritz, my cat, and I used to hang out together after school.  My cat and I could eat a whole tube of those crackers watching television.  I believe that cat liked them just as much as I did.  Today I would never eat them.  Partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil is not something anyone should be eating, not to mention all of the other GMO ingredients.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kale Quinoa Salad with Hazelnuts Pesto

My daughter sent me a text the other day telling me about a new food truck in Union Square (NYC) that serves primarily raw organic food.  She raved about their quinoa kale salad that she described as "literally the best thing I've ever had".  Very high praise, so I offered to try and deconstruct it for her and come up with a recipe that she could make at home.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Today's Harvest

The very warm weather we've been experiencing over the last week is wonderful for the berries.  This is what I harvested today along with a few blueberries.  The raspberries and blackberries are producing more than we can eat in a day so I may start freezing the excess.  Berries will be expensive this winter, if you can find them, and love knowing I will have fruit in my freezer for cobblers and tarts.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fresh Fruit Tartlets

I made these tasty little fresh fruit tartlets for our 4th of July BBQ dinner.  Fresh strawberries and blueberries on a shortbread crust with a cashew frangipane filling.  I would have used a more traditional almond filling if I was going to top them with peaches or apricots but because I used berries, I felt that cashews would be a better fit.

These are, of course, dairy, egg, and cholesterol free.  An almost guilt free dessert.  I didn't cook the fruit in the frangipane, which is more traditional.  The strawberries and blueberry were fresh from my garden and I just couldn't do it.  After the tartlets cooled, I filled them with fruit and dusted them, very lightly, with a little powdered sugar.  No cooked sugary glaze here.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Roasted Artichokes with Lemon & Garlic

We've been eating lots of artichokes from our garden lately.  I steamed the first and second harvests and we ate them with a lemon aioli.  The third set was the smallest and I decided to roast them with lemon and garlic.  I've never eaten artichokes this way but I was inspired by a Sunset Magazine recipe and they were delicious.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Growing Artichokes

Last year we planted a perennial artichoke plant and this year we harvested 9 tender delicious artichokes.  Annual plants will produce the first year but you'll need to plant them each year.  I think it's worth the wait.

For those of you not familiar with the artichoke, it's actually the flower bud of a perennial thistle in the sunflower family, native to the Mediterranean and Canary Islands.  They were first written about by greek philosophers around 300 B.C.  They were brought to Louisiana by the French immigrants in the early 1800's and to California by the Spanish immigrants.  Today, 100% of the commercial crop in the United States is produced in California.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Happy Blog Birthday

June is the birth month for My Recession Kitchen.  I started this blog three years ago when I was unemployed and wanted to keep busy.  I also wanted a way to document my recipes for my daughter, T.C. who is admittedly, kitchen challenged.  She used to keep shoes in her little NYC oven.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Challah

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted - Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah!  Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Orange Bundt Cake with Chocolate Icing

I’ve been experimenting with Bundt cake recipes lately.  I started with a recipe for a chocolate Bundt cake from the women at the Post Punk Kitchen.  Their recipes rarely fail me and this one was no exception.  I made their cake and topped it with a coffee icing. It was perfect for one of several family gatherings last weekend.  My brother said it reminded him of the Colonial Donuts he ate in the 70’s.  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Quinoa Spinach Bake

Quinoa is actually not a grain but a seed, like amaranth and buckwheat.  It’s called a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal because it’s not a member of the grass family.  It’s closely related to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds.  It’s extremely popular right now because it’s such a powerhouse of nutrition.  Quinoa is a complete protein, which means it contains all eight essential amino acids, usually found only in animal products.  It’s also high in protein, 18%, compared to brown rice which has only 5% protein.  It’s high in fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron and it’s gluten free and cooks in less than 15 minutes. What’s not to like?  Quinoa should be a part of your diet, especially if you’re trying to cut down on animal products.  Most mornings, I cook quinoa flakes as a hot cereal for breakfast and top it with raisins, banana and cinnamon.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cauliflower Tagine

We’re harvesting the biggest cauliflowers we’ve ever grown.  Big white, perfectly formed cauliflowers.  My usual fallback recipe is my creamy cauliflower and carrot soup, but with the warm weather and the beauty of this vegetable, I didn’t want to puree the thing beyond recognition.  So, I turned to the internet to find a new cauliflower recipe and actually found two that sounded tasty.  The first one was a roasted cauliflower dish that required ingredients I didn’t have on hand so I turned to the second one, Cauliflower Tagine.  This North African spiced dish is a wonderful combination of cumin, ginger, bay and cinnamon with a little lemon and cilantro mixed in.  It will probably become a new “go to” recipe for cauliflower.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Why I Love Spring

I love Spring!  Those first warm days when you can work outside in the garden without a jacket and everything starts to bloom.  The air is warm and sweet with the smell of lilacs.  You can hear the sound of cicadas and the crows calling to each other.  I love buying seeds and trying new varieties of melons or beans.  It’s the anticipation of things to come.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Black Bean and (vegan) Chorizo Soup

We could eat Mexican food every night of the week.  We love it that much.  When a friend of mine, who lives in Mexico, linked this recipe on her Facebook page, I knew I needed to give it a try.  I wasn’t disappointed!  The original recipe can be found on the website, What’s Cooking, Mexico?
This soup is balanced perfectly, much better than my other black bean soup recipe.  It’s just spicy enough to warm you up on a rainy night but not so hot that it masks the flavor of everything else.  I topped it with some non dairy sour cream, avocado and cilantro, and we both had seconds.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Almond Tart

Almond tarts are also called Bakewell Tarts in England.  They’re a variation of the Bakewell Pudding which was first made by accident in 1820.  The cook at the White Horse Inn in Bakewell misunderstood the landlady’s instructions and a new dessert was born.  There are Italian and Swedish versions of the almond tart but I haven’t been able to determine if the British version came first. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daring Bakers Challenge: Dutch Crunch Rolls

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker Hostesses!  Sara and Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping.  Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!
Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I never realized that Dutch Crunch bread was a local phenomenon.  The recipe originates in the Netherlands, where it’s called “Tiger” Bread, but no one is quite sure how or when it came to the Bay Area.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Polenta Onion Pizza

I bookmarked this recipe from Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks some time ago but I never got around to making it.  She called it Cornmeal Crunch but I think it’s more like an polenta onion pizza.  I really like this recipe because it’s gluten free and delicious, even without all the cheese.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Start Your Tomatoes

After I wrote that heading I realized that it sounded like “Start Your Engines” which is what they say at the beginning of a car race.  Can you tell that Mr RK is a race fan?  I guess I’ve been influenced by the sounds of cars racing around a track as background noise more than I thought.  It does apply to gardening though.  Growing a garden is somewhat of a race, with nature.  You have to start your seeds at the right time, and strategize about when to plant them in the ground in order to take full advantage of the summer weather.  it’s a race to grow as much as you can before the cold weather starts again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Quick Bread

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was - Lis!  Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own.  She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.
Spring is in the air in my part of the world so I wanted to choose flavors that complimented the season and would be appropriate for an Easter Brunch.  I chose to make a pineapple coconut quick bread.  I love this combination of flavors because they always remind me of summers on some tropical beach.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ice Cream Brownie Tarts

Mr. RK loves chocolate.  His favorite dessert is something chocolate with some chocolate on top, covered in chocolate.  When it came to making a special Valentines Day treat, I wanted to make a dessert with all of his favorite ingredients.  I started with some chocolate brownies, which I covered with chocolate ice cream and topped with chocolate chips, chopped almonds and raspberries.  Then, just to be sure I had enough chocolate, I drizzled the top with fudge sauce.  I think I got it all in there. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

First Signs of Spring

The first signs of spring come in February in Northern California.  It starts with the asparagus. They begin to pop their tender little heads out of the ground, teasing you with the promise of grilled garlic spears.  I also keep an eye on the blueberry plants, watching for the first blooms.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Perfect Biscuits

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host.  Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!
Aud is from Australia where biscuits are called scones and scones are called rock cakes.  Here in North America, these are biscuits.  Her recipe and more importantly her techniques were excellent, these biscuits were very light and fluffy and didn’t call for as much fat as most recipes.  I followed her recipe substituting the butter with Earth Balance butter substitute and Spectrum butter flavored palm shortening.  I also replaced the cow’s milk with rice milk to make a heart healthy, vegan version. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

We Finally Have Rain

California has had, so far, the driest winter since 1883.  Yesterday, we finally got some rain.  A lot of rain in fact.  So today, when the sun came out after a particularly heavy downpour, I went out to the garden to check on things.  Of course, my Director of Pest Management followed me.  She goes stir crazy when she has to stay in the house because of the weather.  She immediately climbed to the top of the apricot tree to get a better view of things.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Toasted Tempeh Tacos

I’m eating lighter this month, trying to keep my meals simple, low in fat, gluten free and heart healthy.  We love Mexican food and eat it often so rather than frying tempeh in oil to make a taco filling, I grated it and toasted it in the broiler to give it a crunchy texture without the extra added fat.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pear Almond Barley Salad

I realize that I haven’t posted any new recipes since the new year.  Like many Americans, I’ve simplified my diet by focusing on fruits, vegetables, bean and grains to try and shed the “holiday pounds”.  I’m avoiding sugar, flour and high fat foods and it’s working.   Eating green salads as a main meal in winter is difficult for me, I like to eat a warm dinners, so I came up with this combination warm and cold salad.