Dark Chocolate Dipped Cardomom Meringue Bites

I made a lemongrass ginger ice cream base last night which then resulted in 8 left over egg whites. It may have been 11pm but darn it I wasn't going to waste those egg whites. I also didn't have a use for a large pavlova coming up so I tried my hand at the meringue bites and the addition of the cardamom made them seem really special.

I brought them into work to share the next day and they were a huge hit, the cardamom gave them something that made you want to never stop popping them into your mouth. It was hinted at not in your face and then the dark chocolate, well it's dark chocolate!

This makes a bunch! of meringue bites so feel free to make some larger ones or even cut the recipe in half. I suggest making them all though because it's hard to have just one or even share any and also then you can make my favorite ice cream (lemongrass ginger) with the yolks.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Cardomom Meringue Bites:

8 egg whites
a few pinches of salt
2 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tbs cornstarch
2 cups sugar
3/4 tsp cardamom
12-20 oz dark chocolate

preheat oven 275 degrees F, set one oven rack at lowest height and another in the middle, this helps keep the meringue tops from browning
1    in a small dish mix together the vanilla and white wine vinegar
2    in a large mixing bowl put in the egg whites and pinches of salt
3    start the mixer slowly and then put it up to medium speed and whisk until soft peaks form
4    then gradually add in the cornstarch and sugar
5    once incorporated turn the mixer up to medium-high for a few minutes
6    then add in the vanilla/vinegar and whisk the mixture on medium-high for about 5 minutes; until the mixture is glossy and can form peaks, beat in the cardamom until distributed
7    place parchment paper on a few baking sheets and then put the meringue mixture into a pastry bag and pipe small mounds of meringue onto the sheets, they can be quite close together as they don't spread as they bake
 8    once you piped out all the meringue place them in the oven and after about 15 minutes turn the oven down to 250 degrees F, don't open the oven to often
9     bake them for about 45 minutes to an hour, they shouldn't get brown and if they seem like they aren't done but are getting brown open the oven door to cool it down
10   let the meringue bites cool for 10 minutes then melt the chocolate in a double broiler
11   once it is all melted place a piece of parchement paper near the chocolate and individually dip the bottoms of each meringue into the chocolate, I swirled them around a bit to get some on the edges, use a fork the remove the meringue from the chocolate so you don't pull out the tip and place on parchment
12   repeat with the gazillion more meringues, let chocolate cool completely and pull of parchment paper to serve


Beach, Hammock, Cocktails

Friends invited us to cocktails and salads on the beach. I brought my hammock and we hung out in the shade all afternoon (along with the 12 other hammocks there). Chatted, ate lots of food, and drank cocktails. It was like sitting on the couch but outside with people, perfect.

I didn't know he could shimmy trees so well!


Potter & Pasta

We had cause to celebrate so our friend Liz brought over her fancy pasta making attachment and our friend Megan came over and we got to work. We made twisty pastas and macaroni pasta which are adorable and so cute plopping out of the machine. (Little did we know they take 10x longer to dry and ate dinner at 10pm) I'm also forcing Liz to watch Harry Potter so our friendship may continue so it was a Potter & Pasta night! She even found a Griffin(dor) wine : amazing!

We made Megan put on the Sorting hat and take the quiz and turns out we then had a person from every house present. She rounded us out and it made us all pretty darn excited. We snacked on stone fruits with fresh whipped cream & star fruit snacks. It all seemed like a good idea until we realized both sauces also had cream in them and then found out the whipped cream wasn't a good idea, it was an excellent one. Once we finally got to the eating we made a roasted tomato vodka sauce & an alfredo. So tasty and the texture of the thicker pasta, I've only made fettuccine before, made my teeth happy- chewy, al dente perfection.

Fabulous night, even if we were on the 6th movie which means SO MUCH SEPIA TONE!


All the Dill Pickles

I adore pickles. I have and probably will again eat an entire jar by myself in a day. My cousin and I once grabbed my grandma's jar of pickles went to a back room, polished them off, and then proceeded to pass the jar back and forth sipping the juice. After that one year my grandma bought us torso sized jars of pickles for Christmas from Sam's Club. I will eat pickles and ice cream, un-pregnant, in the same sitting. You get it, I love pickles.
I've never made them before though myself. I started small with fridge pickles, where you don't actually can them. Added a little red pepper flakes and mmm they are crunchy and fresh and I have to exercise restraint not to finish them all off at once.

dill fridge pickles:
adapted from this

6-7 pickling cucumbers; sliced lengthwise into halves or quarters
bunch of fresh dill
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp black peppercorns
red pepper flakes
4 cups water
8 tbs white vinegar
3 tbs kosher salt
1   get out 2 large canning jars and add to each: 1 crushed clove of garlic, 1 tsp peppercorns, 1 pinch of red pepper flakes, and 2 sprigs of dill to the bottom of the jars
2   then add the cucumbers to the jars and pack tightly, but do not force
3   in a bowl stir together water, vinegar and salt, stir until salt is dissolved. Pour brine into each jar until completely covering cucumbers
4   then add a few more sprigs of dill to the top of each jar
5   put the lids on and refrigerate for 2 days before opening, during the initial 12 hours of cooling shake the jars periodically to get the most flavor
they last for 2 months in the fridge


Visit from Californians

Joshua and I have visited San Francisco to see them and they were excellent hosts. This past weekend we got to try to return the favor. Friday was super stormy and dark but we lucked out and it cleared up for the rest of the weekend. So we spent it mostly on bikes, not shockingly with these 2 boys.

We toured Ballard and Fremont, stopped at breweries, tried Paseo sandwiches (greasy amazingness) and headed to Capitol Hill that night to wander around. Finished the night at Kings playing lots of skeeball and getting shooed out as the bar closed but just before they unplugged the game Andy got 410! He finished the night off right for us.

Very slowly the next morning we had brunch and wandered the farmer's market. Then we hopped back on our bikes and began eating our way through the day- first at Pike Place, then at the Seattle Food Truck Festival where we listened to music and ate things like fried Indian tacos and fried pb&j, then back to Ballard where we ate totchos (tater tot nachos) and topped it all with some late night gelato.

 Lovely visit and very glad we got to show them around and hopefully repay the amazing job they did hosting us a little.


Fancy Stuffed Hatch Chiles Dinner

I saw the hatch peppers out at the grocery store and changed all my dinner ideas on the spot. I love these peppers, they have a little heat to them but not too much and I love their wonky shapes. This turned out to be a very simple dinner, nothing really needed to be rushed, not many things to do at one time, very big winner. It took me about 30 minutes start to finish. Also it was beautiful on the plate! Most importantly the dish was so delicious!! so simple Joshua's making it next time :)
Stuffed Hatch Chiles with Cilantro-Lime Yogurt
adapted from here
4 hatch chiles
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 red onion; diced
1 ear corn; cut off kernels
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup brown rice; cooked
2 oz mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup plain yogurt;  best if whole milk yogurt
1 tbs lime juice
handful of cilantro; minced
2 tsp honey
2 eggs; optional
1   turn broiler on high and broil peppers for 1-2 minutes, skins should start to blister. remove from oven and let cool. cook rice
2   put olive oil, onion, and corn kernels in a skillet and sautĂ© for 5-6 minutes over medium heat
3   mix yogurt, lime juice, cilantro and honey in a bowl, mix well and set aside
4   mix spices in a bowl, once onion mixture is done pour water into skillet, then mix in spice mixture
5   then mix in cooked rice and cook for 1-2 minutes
6   remove mixture from heat. cut a slit lengthwise down each chile and stuff with skillet mixture
7   place a few small pieces of mozzarella on top of each pepper and broil for 1-2 minutes
8   then poach 2 eggs, easy to follow instructions here
9   drizzle yogurt onto plates, top with peppers and extra cilantro and slide the poached egg overtop


Monday Work Night

We had a pretty lazy weekend so Monday night we kind of felt like getting out. Problem was I needed to put together a design for a friend and Joshua had forgotten to finish something up for work. But a few minutes later and a phone call to make sure they had wi-fi and we headed to Kiss CafĂ© where we snagged a sweet high table spot near the giant window.

Spinach hummus wrap, jar of pickles, and bowl of jumbalaya along with puppies running around inside, endless beer selections, and front row seats to watch the sun set.

Accidentally got that one right, Monday night was superb. We even took a back road walking home where we hadn't wandered before and watched the clouds light up as we meandered. Seattle has some pretty stunning sunsets these days.


Blackberry-Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

The blackberries just keep on giving! I decided to force their deliciousness into cupcakes this time and they turned out so darn cute with the little blackberries on top. I love the dark rich color of them and the blackberry flavored ganache is deadly!

Dark Chocolate Blackberry Cupcakes:
recipe from Pastry Affair

1 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup milk
6 oz semisweet chocolate

1   in a large saucepan add blackberries and 1/4 cup sugar, bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes to release the juices from the berries. remove from heat and strain blackberries, set aside the juice for later use
2   preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pan with baking cups or grease them
3   in a large bowl combine flour, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt.
4   then mix in vanilla, oil and milk until mostly combined, don't overmix
5   fold in blackberries
6   fill baking cups 3/4 full with batter and bake for 15-20 minutes, toothpick should come out clean. let cool
7   heat up 1 cup of blackberry juice until it is simmering
8   remove from heat and quickly stir in chocolate until the mixture is all smooth
9   set aside to thicken, stirring occasionally
10   once the ganache has thickened slightly dip the top of the cupcakes into it, or spoon ganache on top of cupcakes, top with an adorable blackberry


Huckleberry Brownies with Homemade Nutella

Being that the perfectly ripe berries were so hard to pass up we now have a ton of berries! My solution for all excess food- bake it into something.

Brownies and me, it's love, plus it's simple. These brownies are beyond all other brownies. They have reached another layer of delectable. They're dark and chewy, not to sweet, great mix of flavors, thick. I wanted them to taste like a Seattles Chocolates bar we have here called Whidbey Berry, it is my favorite and I got lucky and nailed it. Mmmmm!

Huckleberry Brownies with Homemade Nutella:
 I doubled this recipe to create a large pan, I promise you'll want to do the same!

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup huckleberries or blueberries; slightly smashed
3/4 cup nutella

1   preheat oven to 350 degrees F, line 9" baking dish with parchment paper and grease dish
2   in a medium pot melt butter, sugars, cocoa powder over medium heat, once butter and sugars are melted remove from heat and stir well
3   whisk in eggs and vanilla
4   in another bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt
5   mix in flour mixture until mostly combined
6   fold in huckleberries until incorporated
7   pour half of mixture into pan and spread evenly, then spoon on the nutella, top with clumps of the thick brownie batter and sprinkle on a few extra huckleberries & maybe some espresso sprinkles
8   bake for 25-30 mintues, let cool slightly before serving

homemade nutella:
1 cup hazelnuts
12 ounces dark chocolate chips
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs powdered sugar
1 tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp espresso powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp salt
1   toast hazelnuts on a baking sheet until golden brown, 10-12 minutes, rub off as much of the skin as you can, place hazelnuts in food processor. Grind hazelnuts until a paste forms
2   melt chocolate in a double broiler on the stove and set aside to cool
3   mix oil, sugar, powders, vanilla, and salt into hazelnut paste. blend until a smooth paste forms
4   then blend in the melted chocolate
the mixture will thicken as it cools, but it will be more runny than store bought nutella, store in airtight jar on counter for up to 2 weeks


Wild Berry Poptarts & Foraging

Hiking the other weekend there were berries EVERYWHERE! First time we saw them we started grabbing them all and then realized that the whole hike was going to be this way. We may not be 100% sure which is a blueberry & which is a huckleberry but both are edible & we ate them all.

We got pretty good at grabbing them off their branches while walking, without stopping. Joshua perfected his 2-handed method in which he shovels them all into his mouth at rapid pace. We also stopped to forage gobs of them ever hundred feet. At one point I realized I hadn't picked a berry for about 1/4 of a mile and I was like what am I doing they're free I need to get them. (side note: my thrifty mother I've decided is to blame that since it's free I need to get them all :)  )

Also the berries are perfect in warm oatmeal and we loaded ours up the next morning. I want to eat it everyday!
Then all of our foraging caught up to us when we got home and realized we had more berries than we knew what to do with as well as all the blackberries we'd picked recently. My solution of course, to bake them into everything. I started with pop tarts. I really love pop tarts, without shame.

Wild Berry Poptarts:
from here

 2 cups flour
1 tbs sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cold
1 large egg
2 tbs milk
1 egg, to brush on top
3/4 cup berries
1 tbs water
1 tbs cornstarch

1    in a food processor blend flour, sugar, salt, and cut up butter until butter is in pea size pieces
2    put mixture in bowl and whisk in egg and milk, gather dough into one ball and dump onto a floured surface. knead a few times, break into 2 even balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in fridge
3   mix water and cornstarch in a small bowl and then place in saucepan with berries
4   bring mixture to a boil and mash berries with the back of a for a little, simmer for 2 minutes while stirring frequently, set aside
5   pull out one dough ball and place on well floured parchment paper, form into a 3x5 rectangle and moll out into a 9x12 rectangle, using a pizza cutter or knife cut the dough edges straight and then cut into 9 3x4 rectangles and place in fridge
6   repeat with second dough ball and place it in the fridge also
7   pull first parchment sheet out and lightly whip an egg in a small bowl
8   brush the pastries lightly with the egg and place 1 tbs of berry mixture in the middle of the rectangles, spread around leaving a wide border around each.
9   pull out the other parchment sheet and cover each bottom half with another rectangle. using your fingers lightly press the 2 halves together around the entire rectangle. then press the tines of a fork around all the edges to ensure the 2 halves stay together.
10  poke the fork a few times in the top of each pop tart to make sure the steam can escape and then brush the top of each lightly with egg
11  place on baking sheet and put in fridge while your oven preheats to 350 degrees F
12  bake for 20-25 minutes, the tops should be golden brown, let cool slightly and serve
We chose to individually wrap them and freeze them before baking them so we could pull them out and make them fresh each morning. Perfect!