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February 2015
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Almond Paste Dates

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This quick and easy after dinner treat would make a nice addition to an Oscar party spread (yes the Academy Awards are tonight!). Almond paste stuffed dates may be simple but will delight your senses after one luxurious bite. Dates have a nice caramel-like taste that pairs very well with the orange flower water scented almond paste. I recommend using Medjool dates which are plumper and softer than the more common variety, Deglet Noor, although those would definitely work as well.  This Middle Eastern fruit has been enjoyed for thousands of years and is to me the perfect, all-natural dessert. Happy Oscar Night! (break a leg Whiplash, my fingers are crossed for you!)

from: One Good Dish
makes: 12 dates

1/2 cup blanched whole, raw, natural almonds *(see note)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, plus a pinch
1 tablespoon orange flower water
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar or coarse raw sugar
12 large dates

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Cream of Tomato Soup with Roasted Italian Chickpea Croutons

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I was initially wary about making this soup. I had made a dairy-free tomato soup in the past which never made it to the dinner table. After one taste, I decided to order us take-out. My guess as to why it didn’t pass the edible test for me was the inclusion of non-dairy butter. (I HATE non-dairy butter.) It also had soy creamer, cherry tomatoes and a potato in it. Random, and let’s be honest, just not good. So you can see why I was not expecting great things out of this dairy-free tomato soup. Now I know better, as everything I’ve made out of Oh She Glows is just plain awesome. I did have a back-up meal planned, but I never needed it. Once I tasted the soup in it’s last stages of simmering, I was like, “What!?”. The soup was delightful. The secret? For flavor, I think it is the combination of whole tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, and tomato paste. For creaminess, cashews are a magical ingredient for making dairy-free sauces and soups taste superlatively creamy, without even a hint of heavy cream in sight. The crunchy chickpeas provide a nice contrast to the soup, so don’t skip them! I placed the bowls of soup on the table without mentioning anything about ingredients, (or lack thereof) and my husband said it was the best tomato soup he’s ever had. You can imagine his surprise when I informed him it was vegan tomato soup. You skeptical dairy lovers have been challenged. I dare to you to make this soup and not love it.

from: The Oh She Glows Cookbook
makes: 8 cups

chickpea croutons

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil, melted coconut oil, or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt or Herbamare

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1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small to medium yellow onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 3-4 hours or overnight in water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices (I recommend San Marzano tomatoes)
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2-1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

for serving

fresh basil leaves
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

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♥ Valentine Cookies ♥

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Love is in the air! Well, love and the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked sugar cookies. Happy Valentine’s Weekend!

1 recipe Sugar Cookies & Icing
pink or red food coloring
heart-shaped or valentine’s day themed cookie cutters
sprinkles/candies/sanding sugars/red hots for decorating

Make, bake, and cool the sugar cookies. Mix 1 or 2 drops of liquid or a tiny dab of gel food coloring into the icing and stir well. Pipe icing onto the cooled cookies and decorate.

 

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The Bushwick Spice Trade

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This cocktail is bright and citrus-y with a hint of heat at the end of the sip. It is delicious alone, or pair it with some fiery Asian takeout for a spicy Saturday at home.

from: Shake
makes: 2 drinks

6 ounces gin
4 cubes cane sugar
1 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
4 slices fresh ginger (plus 2 for garnish)
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
4 basil leaves

Add the sugar cubes, lemon juice, ginger, pink peppercorns, and basil to a shaker. Muddle the ingredients until thoroughly crushed and the sugar has mostly dissolved.

Add the gin and ice (to above the level of liquid) and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.

Strain the mixture into chilled coupes and garnish with remaining ginger.

bushwick

 

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Risotto with Taleggio and Wild Carrot Honey & Seared Sea Scallops

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I’ve said it before, risotto is my desert island food. I could be having a most horrible day, but when I sit down with a hot bowl of risotto and a nice glass of wine (in this case a rather heavenly viognier) all is well with me and the world. To be honest, David and I paired this lovely meal AROUND the viognier. Our genius wine guru at our local market suggested pairing it with scallops and risotto for food and drink that would most certainly end in the most happy of circumstances. Therefore, I chose this risotto with melted taleggio from Gabriele Corcos, and our favorite simple and delicious seared scallops recipe. It is all finished with a drizzle of golden Sicilian wild carrot honey. We thought the pairing with the viognier was pretty much perfect. I realize we’re not very far into 2015, but this is the meal of the year so far.

pair with a good viognier such as Stag’s Leap 2012

Risotto from: Extra Virgin
serves: 2 as an entrée or 4 as a small plate

4 cups vegetable stock, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely diced
1 cup Carnaroli rice*
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 pound Taleggio cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of Treviso radicchio, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
wild carrot honey, to taste**

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Nutella-Swirl Poundcake

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I love pound cake. It is most definitely in my top 5 favorites for types of dessert. It is easy to make, keeps well, and it seems to be one of those things that you can enjoy any time of day. I enjoying having it for dessert, for a  sweet breakfast, or as an afternoon pick-me-up with a cup of hot tea or coffee. This pound cake is made with Nutella, which is swirled into the pound cake batter, and makes a nice, marbled cake . It was very, very tasty and I will be making it again for sure.

from: Food + Wine
makes: one 9-by-5-inch loaf

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
one 13-ounce jar Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)

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Polenta Portobellos

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Polenta is a comforting food for me that brings instant happiness to my day. I love it creamy, baked, or fried until browned and topped with salt and a bit of parmesan. This recipe, which places creamy polenta inside Portobello mushrooms and topped with caramelized onions and Brussels sprouts, makes for a delicious, vegetarian dinner for those chilly weeknights. I used small Portobellos , but after making it I definitely recommend using the largest ones you can find. They shrink quite a bit.

from: Forest Feast
serves: 2-4

4 very large Portobello mushrooms (they shrink during baking), or 6 large, stems removed and gills scraped away
4 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
salt + pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
8-10 Brussels sprouts, sliced paper thin
1 medium red onion, sliced paper thin
2 cups water
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons chèvre goat cheese

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