brownie points

Wanted brownies. Had no flour. Did have cream cheese. Didn’t have patience. Ground up some almonds, combined two recipes, BAM! The most delicious makeshift brownie known to man. Thanks for the assist, Mark Bittman.

nuttin’ honey

What to do when you want dessert, but are lacking pretty much all the ingredients to make one? You either get creative, or get Googling. I chose to do a bit of both and wound up making a rather delicious baked chevre with honey and hazelnuts. Simply cut off a slice or two from a chevre log and place it in a ramekin, drizzle some honey on top and sprinkle whatever nuts you have on hand. Bake it in a 375 degree oven for about eight minutes. You’re not trying to actually bake anything (there’s nothing, really, to bake), but all the flavors and textures melt together and you more or less are left with what I can only imagine is what warm ice cream would taste like, if only in some strange land where warming ice cream meant that it didn’t melt into oblivion. This one’s gonna get remade. A lot. (I imagine it would also be divine on some crusty french bread.)

know your onions

Trim ‘em. Coat ‘em in olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill ‘em. Try not to inhale ‘em all at once.

leftovers

Reese’s peanut butter cups melted onto brownies. I win.

Homemade kale chips.

Blueberry pancakes, before the flip.

Omelet with tomatoes, spinach, onions and soyrizo.

Cherry galette made with puff pastry dough.

Birthday cake!

Spinach salad with strawberries and masala patty.

Homemade chocolate bark with sunflower seeds.

faux-yo

I’m always on the lookout for ways to make healthier versions of old standbys. So when I heard there was a way to make a foolproof frozen yogurt equivalent with nothing more than bananas, I had to give it a try.

I’ll tell you what: it works. Until it starts “melting.” Then it just gets gooey and tastes a bit like that layer of banana skin that’s right under the stringy rind…anyone know what I’m talking about? No? OK, moving swiftly on. It tastes a little…green…is all I’m saying.

Anyway, here’s all you do—it really couldn’t be simpler: peel and freeze a couple bananas (just put them in a plastic baggie for anything from a couple hours to a couple days). Take them out and place them in a food processor.

Pulse a dozen times or so to get the processing going. Then simply turn it on full blast and let it go. It’ll be noisy, the machine will bump around the counter a bit, but eventually it’ll look like this.

And then it’s ready to eat! Bowl it up and enjoy. Uh, quickly.

blow your own crumpet

Heard of french toast? I certainly hope so. Well, this is basically english toast. Essentially the same, only using anglo crumpets rather than the far more gallic bread (which, really, is probably an entirely American invention anyway).

This here is an extremely streamlined version of a recipe Jamie Oliver calls “eggy crumpets,” which, as naming goes, is pretty much a say what you see type of moniker. Anyway, this has a couple of revisions, but couldn’t be easier to make: beat one egg, add aleppo or other crushed or flake hot pepper—lots of it—then simply soak the crumpet on both sides, fry them up and then top with a drizzle of maple syrup. The spicy sweetness is a killer combo, made even more satisfying with the addition of strongly steeped breakfast tea. Perfection.

Or should I say pukka?

'lette them eat macarons

So, this happened.

The above macarons (from Beverly Hills’ ‘Lette (née Paulette)) are, sadly, intended for someone else’s mouth, but I’m no fool. Which is why I picked up the below bag of tasty French tidings for myself.

This is an earl grey macaron, people. Earl grey!

And this is the same earl grey macaron about .0001 seconds later. Plus, a much better shot of my slightly chipped nail polish (in my opinion, a lack of such blatant disregard for beauty regimen upkeep is exactly what’s missing from Tastespotting's thumbnails…ha! Get it? Thumbnails as in small photos and thumbnails as in the fingernails on my thumb! I’ve got a million of ‘em! You’re welcome, world).

I have no idea why the color they chose for this particular flavor is teal. But you know what they say: you can’t spell teal without tea (okay, maybe not a million. But I’ve definitely got 999,999 of ‘em). Whatever. You try and come up with the funnies while coming down from a sugar high.

Now let’s wait it out by taking a closer look at the pretty, pretty, colors. Almost too pretty to eat! (Note: I said almost—left to right, almond cake, rose, raspberry and pistachio. My old friends.)

put on a pedestal

Preferably a vintage cake stand pedestal from Bountiful Home in Venice, Calif. Such a pretty display, but one earthquake or clumsy customer and there’s your profits for the year gone.

substituting gwyneth

I believe my defense and enjoyment of Gwyneth Paltrow has been previously established, but while I have been enjoying Her Goopness’ online recipes for a while now, I’ve only recently come into possession of her cookbook, My Father’s Daughter (the U.K. edition of which, incidentally, is titled Notes From My Kitchen Table. Why? Too earnest the first way round? Another mystery for the ages).

It’s good. Particularly these little puppies, the Lalo cookies, so named and contributed by her mother Blythe Danner (whom her children call Lalo instead of Grandma). They are delicious, easy and extremely adaptable. So much so, in fact, that there aren’t that many ingredients I kept true to the original.

I halved the recipe, for a start, and instead of the 2 c. of barley flour, I used whole wheat pastry flour; instead of 1 1/2 c. of pulsed, crushed almonds, I used a combination of almonds, walnuts and pecans; where canola oil was called for (1/2 c.), I subbed butter; and where maple syrup should have been, I used a maple-agave blend. They turned out amazing. The second time I made these, I used honey as a sweetener and instead of oil or butter, I used applesauce. To complement the choice, I used apple fig butter instead of jam in the center of the thumbprint cookies. Could hardly notice the difference, though admittedly, the ones with butter were more moist and less crumbly.

Just when you thought it wasn’t possible to make a Gwyneth recipe any healthier.

pancakes

Every once in a while, a food will get locked into my brain and I simply cannot rest or be remotely satiated until I have it. (Hang on, I could’ve just said, I get cravings. But why use three words when 18 will suffice?)

Anyway, this week, that food was pancakes. Enter Mark Bittman and his super simple everyday pancakes recipe, with a few substitutions (whole wheat flour for all purpose, no sugar, almond milk for milk, and the addition of flax seed meal) and in a few short minutes I had myself a plate of pancakes. The substitutions admittedly made the pancakes more actual pan cakes than the light and fluffy flapjacks we may be used to, but man did they hit the spot.