Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nancy's Rediculously Amazing Almond Cake

 A few weeks ago, close to Christmas, my friend Nancy Beykirch brought in her amazing almond cake to the teaching kitchen.  That was the day she'd come to teach how to make her Killer Divine Christmas Baked Oatmeal. Nancy has a gift for bringing perfection.She's an amazing lady. I'm honored to even know her...and her cake.  I was blown away by the richness, density and complex beauty if this cake.  I begged her with numerous eye rolls and annoying whining displays to pleeeeeeeease bring me the recipe. Pleeeeeese share. Today she heard my pleas.
She did a class. It was just for me. I say it was just for me. I'm sure there were other people in the room but I didn't notice because I was too taken hostage by the intoxicating perfection of this cake.
 It is topped with this toasted coconut lemon sugar that absolutely takes my heart to happy places.

Here you go darlings.  You're going to die...in a good way.
Nancy's Almond Cake
1 1/2 cup Almond flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour or Gluten Free Flour Blend
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda

4 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1T fresh lemon zest
1 tsp almond emulsion
5T melted butter
1/3 cup coconut oil

2T sugar
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 cup sliced almonds

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Yes. That seems low, but it is the slow bake that makes it remarkable.
  • Combine the almond flour, flour, salt, baking powder,  and soda in a separate bowl.  In a food processor, combine the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and almond emulsion.  Process for approximately 2 minutes until sugar and eggs are emulsified. Slowly pour in the melted butter and coconut oil with the processor at a low setting.  Turn off machine. Add the almond flour mixture to the egg mixture and process 4 or 5 pulses until it is combined.  Pour batter into a 9 inch round cake pan that has been sprayed with vegalene and lined with parchment paper.
  • For topping, combine sugar and lemon zest, set aside.  Sprinkle sliced almonds over the unbaked cake evenly.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the almonds on top of the cake.  Bake at 300 degrees for 55-65 minutes. Turn the pan after 40 minutes.  Cake is done when a skewer comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.  Run knife around the sides of the pan.  Invert on cake plate.  Take off the parchment paper and reinvert the cake onto a wire rack.  Let cake cool about 2 hours.  Cut into wedges and serve.
Just keep your eyes open for more from Nancy. She said she doesn't have a blog, but I'm gonna keep posting her amazing recipes here. She's a darling with mad baking skills.  Seriously Nancy. I love you. Come visit me anytime sweetheart. 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Comforting Farmer Beans and Greens with Cornmeal Mush

About this time last year I had been down and out with a horrible flu for several days.  I never really ask for help or dinners...but when a friend showed up out of the blue with a warm and comforting meal for my family it made a huge impact on me. One, because I am a huge push-over for a homemade meal and two, because it was an unsolicited gesture of good-will...towards me. I've spoken of Lisa often on the blog (yup she's the Lisa from evil tarts...), as we've gone through some of the same trials, experiences, and personal victories. I've seen her battle through some personal demons...and she's cheered me on when others have totally shunned me (for whatever reason).

Just saying...I'm thankful for Lisa's true heart and friendship.

 That's what this meal is about today. It is a warm and comforting reminder to me that no matter what, I have a recipe and a meal to remind me of friendships that are warm during the "winters" of my life.  I hope you have friends like that. I feel blessed that I do.

Today, out on the farm (Our Farm Adventures!), we have some great chard and greens coming into season. Arizona is awesome for this! We've also had some killer beautiful spinach.
 I've also been messing around with my favorite white beans of all time. Again. Still. Forever.
They just aren't leaving my kitchen. Ever.  They are called "Mortgage Lifters". Thank you Dove Creek Bean Company. I love you. They are available here locally at our Honeyville store in :Chandler, Arizona.

 By the way, those who are out of town, La Paloma does not have a website. You can order directly from the owner, Mike Coffey, 970-677-2445, PO Box 552, Dove Creek CO, 81324. They grow 10 different varieties of heirloom and antique beans. All of them are amazing!

...when they're cooked they are the size of my thumb. They taste like a giant navy bean.  Awesome for this recipe. Just awesome.

My Beans and Greens
3/4 lb spicy Italian sausage, crumbled out of casing (or 1 cup freeze dried sausage, hydrated with 1 cup hot water)
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/2 cup minced onion (or 1/4 cup dehydrated onion, hydrated)
2 1/2 cups cooked navy beans or Mortgage lifter beans ( 1 can, drained)
1 lb mustard greens, Swiss Chard, or Spinach ( washed and chopped)
1 cups diced peeled tomato (canned works) or 1/2 cup dehydrated tomato powder and 1/2 cup water
 Chef Tess Romantic Italian Seasoning (or your favorite seasoning)
Directions: In a 12 inch deep skillet, cook the sausage until cooked through. Add the garlic and onions. Saute until the onions and garlic are clear, and lightly caramelized, about 4 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Cook covered 10 minutes until greens are tender. Season generously with salt and fresh cracked red pepper to taste.

I serve them over this cornmeal mush. I love it instead of mashed potatoes...and it is perfect for this crazy cold winter.

Buttery Corn and Cornmeal Mush
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup cold tap water

1/2 cup sweet corn, chopped (fresh or frozen)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1T sugar (optional)
1/4 cup butter
3 cups hot tap water

Directions: In a small bowl, combine the cornmeal and cold tap water. Meanwhile, in a 2 quart pan, combine the corn, salt, sugar, butter, and hot water. Bring it to a boil over high heat. While the water is heating, add the cornmeal mixed with the cold water. Combining the cornmeal with cool water before adding it to the boiling water keeps the cornmeal from lumping up when it hits the hot water.  When the water and cornmeal boil, reduce the heat to low. Allow the mush to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it is nicely thickened.
Serve a portion of the cornmeal mush topped with some of the Beans and Greens.
Top with shredded Parmesan cheese if desired. 

We served this dish in our bean class today and it was well received by all! That's a good sign darlings!

There you go! Have an amazing day. Think warm thoughts. Cook something comforting. Life's winter will not last forever. Love and friendship...well, if they are true...will never end.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess