Tag Archives: Valentines

I Love You Like You Love Sushi (Sushi Inspired Macaroons)

February 2013

If the ecosystem and toxins in fish weren’t factors, my Special One could easily consume enough sushi to make a large dent on the world’s fish population. When it came to our belated Valentine’s Day celebrations (belated bc holidays are flexible in my world), I put my love in terms he’d easily understand- sushi love!

With his extensive sushi-eating history, I dared not prepare the real deal and disappoint, so instead, I made…

Sushiroons Text

A sushiroon is a coconut macaroon dipped in dark chocolate with pistachio and dried apricot for its filling. I formed the nigiri with the same coconut macaroon base, and topped them with a dab of dark chocolate and either dried mango or candied ginger dipped in natural cherry juice (for a touch of color).

Sushi Chocolates

Plate of Sushiroons

One Sushiroon

Nigiri Plate


Soy Happy Together

Coconut Macaroons
Makes ~40 small macaroons


1 large organic egg white
Pinch of salt
14 ounces (one can) organic, sweetened, condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
14 ounces shredded, sweetened coconut


Heat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg white and salt until frothy, about 2 minutes.

Stir in condensed milk and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold in coconut until well combined.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Using a spoon and your fingers, form macaroons into 1 1/2-inch mounds about 1 inch apart.

Bake until macaroons are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to a cooling rack; let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

For the Sushi Effect

Melted Dark Chocolate
Dried Mango
Dried Apricot
Crystallized Ginger + Natural Dark Cherry Juice (Such as the juice from these cherries, which are about as natural as canned cherries come)

Valentine’s Day Observed: I’m Really Lucky (and pretty badass too)!

February 2012

Receiving this from my Valentine was special…

But receiving this…

… made me feel REALLY SPECIAL!  And pretty badass too!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go bake away some crime!

Header_I Like You

Valentine’s Day Observed: The Dinner With My Valentine!

February 2012

It was time to put all the Valentine’s Day plans onto one table, for one meal, with one special Valentine!

I washed off the beet stains [as best I could], dusted off the flour, crafted some skewers, set the table in a brand new way and somehow managed to shower and put on a dress before the designated dinner time. Our Valentine’s Day Observed was about to begin!

The Menu

Heart Beet Ravioli
Charcuterie Plate
Heirloom Wheat Bread 
Heart Beets Salad
Chocolate Hazelnut & Cherry Cakewich

Lots of wine!

Beets Are Red & Cheese Are Blue:  A Charcuterie Plate 

Danish Blue Cheese Hearts
Roasted Beet [Heart]
Speck & Honey Maple Ham
Fig Hearts
Cranberry Orange Chèvre

*The fig, blue cheese and raspberry combined best with a drizzle of honey on a slice of the heirloom wheat bread.

Heart Beets Salad

Roasted Red Beets
Blood Orange Segments
Honey Toasted Pecans
Fresh Mint
(play it be ear…or by heart… or by bad puns?)

Olive Oil
Dijon Mustard
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Maple Syrup
(mix to taste)

Remember I said “Lots of Wine?”  I wasn’t kidding!  We first gave a proper toast and a “sip”…

Then we gave proper attention to the food on the table.  We both really appreciate good food, and that shared interest means a lot to me!

Then we just acted weird because we do that a lot… (I guess the photo only makes me look a little weird, but don’t let him fool ya…look at that stare)!

The libations theme for the night was wine, but the theme for Valentine’s Day gift giving was Let’s Learn To Mix More!  I couldn’t resist throwing in a little Black Velvet and that cool southern style (via Canada), plus an infographic to teach us much, much, more mixology  I’m looking forward to a wee baby cocktail in one of those little chocolate cups.

There’s just one more element to this Valentine’s Day Observed series- a very special finale.

Stay tuned (and please excuse my handwriting… I had a lot going on)!

Header_cake skewers

Valentine’s Day Observed: We Finish Each Other’s…

February 2012

My Valentine speaks a special second language.  Instead of words, this language is made of phrases, sentences and dialogues from Arrested Development.  One of the more frequently applicable dialogues is the following between Michael and Lindsey (from the episode Family Ties):

Michael: [about Nellie] It’s like we finish each other’s…
Lindsay Bluth Fünke: Sandwiches?
Michael: Sentences. Why would I say…
Lindsay Bluth Fünke: Sandwiches?

When I saw this sandwich shaped cake mould, I knew it would come in handy!  My brand new Cakewich made its debut as part of the Valentine’s Day Observed dinner.

To the one who finishes my… sandwiches…. Happy Valentine’s Day!  

There might be some stickage, but not to fret!  You need to cut off the surface anyway to create the sliced bread look.  The use of almond flour and whole-wheat pastry flour meant my Cakewich looked more like slices of whole-wheat bread, which is fine by me, since I am… With the Grains!

Sandwich filling…

Almond Cakewich

Cake Ingredients

1 cup almond flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup organic, unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons organic almond extract
7 egg whites (local/free-range)
¾ cup organic whole milk

Filling Ingredients

Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 315 degrees F.

Grease and flour the inner bottom surface of the Cakewich pan.

Combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk well.

Whisk together the egg whites and milk by hand in a medium mixing bowl until just combined.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Beat vigorously.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add one-quarter of the flour, then one-third of the flour, then one-third of the milk mixture, mixing until just combined, scraping down the bowl with a spatula and then repeating.

Scrape down the bowl well with a spatula. Pour the batter into the Cakewich pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for one hour, then unmold it to finish cooling right side up.

To Assemble The Cakewich

Use a bread knife to slice off the top and create an even surface. Then slice through the center. Carefully remove the top half of the cake. Spread an even layer of hazelnut spread on the cake, followed by the preserves. Top with the other half of cake.


Just watch the GIF version!
(click on the assembly photo below to see the action version)

serve with…

Hazelnut Whipped Cream


1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons organic chocolate hazelnut spread
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoon honey

For the Whipped Cream

Combine all of the ingredients in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat on high until stiff peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to serve.


With The Grains

ps:  Next time, I’d use the whipped cream version of the chocolate hazelnut spread as a sandwich filling.  On its own, the spread was delicious but just a tad heavy in combination with an almond based cake.

Valentine’s Day Observed: Heart Beet Ravioli

February 2012

Heart Beet Ravioli
Ricotta & Chèvre Filling w/ Lemon, Basil & Mint
(part of my Valentine’s Day Observed Menu)

A few things to know about me:

♥  I used to watch in awe as my mom would make pasta.  I can still see the sun shining through the kitchen window, onto those egg noodles, and I remember thinking how she was really making the soup, down to the very noodles most people would simply buy and boil!

♥  I had never made pasta myself.

♥  I did have a goal to make pasta myself.

♥ I have an affinity for beets, and I also got me a fella who shares my affinity.  Thankfully!

♥  I saw this recipe for beet pasta, and I thought, I could do that, and I bet I could even one up that Martha!

♥  (I’m actually not that into hearts, but I am super into themes!)

♥  I MADE PASTA!!!  Turns out, it was not as intimidating as I had perceived.  Granted, this was just me dipping my toe in the proverbial pool of pasta.  I acknowledge other varieties probably entail their own challenges, but I have been inspired nonetheless!

♥  I may relish the spotlight, but I dare say I don’t usually toot my own horn too much in the kitchen.  I was nervous until the very first bite of beet ravioli, but I am going to say this: Take this (↓) Martha…!!! (I’m also pretty competitive…all in good fun?)

Valentine’s Day Observed: Hear Beet Ravioli

♥ Ingredients

1 medium sized red beet, without greens
1 large egg (local/free-range)
1 large egg yolk (local/free-range)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon Yakima Applewood smoked sea salt
Flour for dusting

3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese (about 6 ounces), drained 30 minutes
3/4 cup fresh goat cheese (about 5 ounces), room temperature
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus more for serving
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, plus a few leaves for serving
Coarse salt
freshly ground smoked pepper

1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons coarse salt

1 stick organic, unsalted butter
grated pecorino cheese, for serving

♥ Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wrap beets tightly in a piece of foil, and place on a baking sheet.

Roast until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool. Use a peeler to remove skins.

Meanwhile make the filling: Stir together cheeses, lemon juice, ginger and herbs; season with salt and pepper. Keep chilled. Allow to come to room temperature before stuffing ravioli.

Puree peeled beets in a food processor.

Add eggs and yolk to puree in food processor, and process until combined.

Pour the beet puree into a large bowl. Add the flour and salt. Use a spatula to combine until dough comes together, about 20 seconds.

Transfer dough to a well-floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes, adding up to 2 tablespoons flour if dough is sticky. Use a rolling pin to form a sheet, about 1/8in thick.

Cut pasta dough into desired shape, using more flour as needed.

Spoon a dollop of filling onto one dough heart. Cover with another heart and pinch edges. Use water to seal the seam and pinch once more.

Transfer ravioli to an airtight container lined with parchment paper. Use additional parchment paper in between layers if the container is smaller.

To store, lightly dust ravioli with flour, and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Alternatively, freeze ravioli in a single layer on a baking sheet, about 15 minutes, and then pack as described above; freeze for up to 1 month. Do not thaw before cooking.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add olive oil, salt and the ravioli. Cook, stirring occasionally to separate, until edges are just tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander to drain.

While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add extra mint and basil.

Combine the pasta and browned butter and herbs in a bowl.

♥ Serve with grated pecorino cheese to someone special! ♥

Stay tuned to the rest of this Valentine’s Day Observed series for the final ravioli picture.


With The Grains

Valentine’s Day Observed: A Warm Heart[h] & The Smell of Fresh Bread

February 2012

I said it here, but I’ll say it again… I obsess over detail when it comes to making a special holiday dinner for a significant someone.  Whereas some see February 14th as a commercial holiday, I see it as an extra opportunity for thematic, sentimental expression coated in tones of my favorite hue.  I also see it as a flexible date when it falls on a weekday, hence… Valentine’s Day Observed.

There’s nothing like the smell of fresh bread and the extra warmth it brings to a kitchen.  With a charcuterie plate in the plans, I couldn’t have just any ol’ carboyhydrate holding up those meats and heart-shaped cheeses.  I had to make my own!  My good friend Erin brought me heirloom wheat flour as a souvenir from her trip to San Francisco.  Heirloom = extra love and care, so this bread recipe was clearly the right occasion for its use.  This method involves a pre-dough, meaning even more time than your average loaf, but the soft wheat texture is the ultimate payoff!

Heirloom Wheat Bread


1¾ cups (8 ounces) California heirloom wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup water

For the Pre-Dough

Mix all of the soaker ingredients together in a bowl for about 1 minute, until all of the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball of dough.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. (If it will be more than 24 hours, place the soaker in the refrigerator; it will be good for up to 3 days. Remove it 2 hours before mixing the final dough to take off the chill.)

♥ Dough

8 ounces (about 1⅔ cups) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup warm water
3 tablespoons warm heavy cream
1 packet active dry yeast
2½ Tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 large egg (local/free-range)
extra flour or water for adjustments
egg wash: 1 tablespoon milk or 1 egg white or whole egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Himalaya Pink Sea Salt
Fresh ground pink peppercorns

♥ For the Bread

In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt.

Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs.

Cut the pre-dough into about 12 pieces and add them to the flour mixture, tossing the pieces to coat (to keep them from immediately sticking back together).

Add the water, milk, yeast, sugar and egg and stir with a rubber spatula until a dough forms.

Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will be on the sticky side so it can be a bit messy, but keep in mind that the more flour you knead in, the tougher the buns will get. Try to leave them tackier than you would a round loaf.

Spray a bowl with nonstick spray; shape dough into a ball and place it in bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours.

Line a stone loaf pan with parchment paper.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Press the dough into a rectangle, just slightly longer than the bread pan. Fold in the longer sides toward the center. Fold in the shorter sides into the center. Pinch to seal the seam. Turn the dough, seam side down. Roll back and forth to further seal the seam and create surface tension.

Put the shaped loaf into the parchment lined loaf pan.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Brush egg wash on buns and sprinkle with pink sea salt and pink pepper. Use a cookie cutter to cut a heart shape into the surface.

Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown and an instant-read thermometer reads at least 185 degrees, about 30-40 minutes.

Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Slice, serve and stay tuned for the other Valentine’s Day Observed menu breakdowns!


With The Grains


Valentine’s Day Observed: The Menu

February 2012

I obsess over detail when it comes to making a special holiday dinner for a significant someone. Whereas some see February 14th as a commercial holiday, I see it as an extra opportunity for thematic, sentimental expression coated in tones of my favorite hue.  I also see it as a flexible date when it falls on a weekday, hence… Valentine’s Day Observed.

The Menu

Heart Beet Ravioli
Charcuterie Plate
Heirloom Wheat Bread 
Heart Beets Salad
Chocolate Hazelnut & Cherry Cakewich

Lots of wine!

The menu breakdown and recipes will ensue.  Stay tuned.