Pasta Della California

Isa Chandra Moskowitz writes in Veganomicon that you can add avocado to anything and call the dish California. It’s true we do take avocados for granted here in California. I grew up eating them and adding them to everything. I’ve never had them in a warm pasta dish before and that’s why I wanted to try this recipe.

In addition to the avocado, Pasta Della California is made with broccoli and argula. A simple sauce of 8 cloves of garlic (yes, eight!), lime zest & juice, red pepper flakes, vegetable broth, and white wine coats everything. It did require a bit of prep work. I had to mince those 8 cloves , chop the broccoli, and slice the avocado. Once all the knife work was done, I made the sauce while the pasta was cooking.

You can find the recipe for Pasta Della California HERE. I used whole-wheat linguine.

Also, fruit from the farmers’ market this year is outstanding. The locally-grown blueberries are the best I’ve ever tasted. They taste like someone added brown sugar to therm. They are so sweet. I’ve been eating blueberries straight  out of the bag. I do occasionally make a fruit salad with them:

Please visit Michele’s Blog–Veggie Num Nums–to see what she cooked up for Vegan Tuesdays.

{twd} Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise

An added bonus to my baking/cooking education as a member of {too?} many online baking groups,  I’m also learning how to spell international words. This week I learned how to spell casatiello (Italian!), tartufo (Italian, again!), and today’s word: dacquoise (French!).  The hands-down funnest word I’ve learned to spell is christopsomos (Greek!).That one is also fun to pronounce.  Too bad there really isn’t a practical use for learning these new words; I can’t use most {all?} of them when I travel.

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe selection was the tropical Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise. I decided to make a quarter of the recipe because of the other baking I had going on this weekend. This involved me figuring out fractions at 5 in the morning. Early morning is never a good to time to try to remember how to divide fractions.  Why 5 am? I was awake and I knew the meringue base of the dacquoise would take 3 hours to bake.  3 hours? Yes, 3 hours. As is typical of baking meringues, the 3 merinque layers baked at a low temperature (225° F) for 3 hours.

The coconut-almond meringue layers  are coated with a white chocolate-whipped cream ganache  and topped with roasted pineapple.  Once assembled, toasted coconut is pressed into the sides of the dacquoise and then the whole thing needs to sit in the refrigerator for preferably 6 hours.

Although Diego was not around to bake this with me, when he saw it in the refrigerator he insisted we try it. I’m glad we did. It is light and crispy, perfectly tropical and not too sweet. I packed up the rest for work, where everyone enjoyed it.  You have to understand my work dynamics. I’ve brought in so many treats and goodies that co-workers have stopped complimenting me about them. I just watch the baked goods disappear throughout the day. When something is outrageously good, they say something to me. They couldn’t stop talking about the dacquoise.

Thank you to Andrea of Andrea in the Kitchen for selecting this week’s pick as we bake our way through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking…From My Home to Yours. If you would like the recipe, please buy the book or visit Andrea’s blog. (I just noticed that Andrea posted the recipe with weight measurements too! So if you want to decrease the recipe, no need to divide fractions. Cool!)


Due to the crazy circumstances surrounding my life right now, I was unable to blog about the petite brioche à tête I made for the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge. I did tweet while I baked them, so that counts. Right?

The next bread up for me in challenge was the Casatiello, an Italian version of brioche. The original recipe calls for salami or other meats and cheese. I don’t eat meat, so I decided to go with a cheese/dried fruit combination.

I love manchego cheese, especially with pear jam on crackers. Peter Reinhart suggests not to use hard, non-melty cheeses because you will not get the ooey-gooey pockets of cheese goodness. To make sure I got thouse pockets, I mixed my manchego cheese with Monterey jack cheese. Peter also says not to use jack because of the lack of great taste. I was going for the melty properties, so I used 4 ounces manchego and 2 ounces of jack.

In place of the meat, I diced up dried pears (2 ounces) and dried figs (2 ounces).

For the first time ever, I had a helper baking the bread with me. My 4 year-old nephew, Diego.


Diego watching the bread knead.

Diego really enjoyed baking with me and I think he is an excellent helper. Diego was also very impressed with the magic of yeast.

We made six-ounce casatiello which we baked in 4-inch diameter European-style bread paper.

Diego shaping the casatiello.

Diego shaping the casatiello.

The casatiello were a big hit with the family. They were very delicious and enjoyed by all. The pockets of cheese are what make the bread. However, I felt they needed a bit more salt. With the absence of salami or other dried meats I should have upped the salt content.

Another hit from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. If you would like the recipe, please buy the book.

{sms} Butterscotch Caramel Cashew Bars

I’m back in the swing of things with Sweet Melissa Sundays. The pick of the week was the very delicious, the very gooey Butterscotch Caramel Cashew Bars.

A brown-sugar shortbread cookie base is topped with a butterscotch caramel topping and then sprinkled with whole cashews. Very easy.

Thank you to Pamela of Cookies with Boys for selecting the recipe. If you would like the recipe, please visit her blog.

mushroom and poblano tostada

This should have been a quick and easy recipe to throw together for dinner last night. Under normal circumstances, my knife skills are lacking and I chop very, very s-l-o-w.  Now that I’m temporily cooking in my parent’s kitchen, I’m lacking counter space too. I’m used to spreading out and taking over every last inch of counter space.  So, there I was chopping very, very s-l-o-w, trying to keep out of the way of my sister’s boyfriend, my mother, my father, and my sister as they came and went in and out of the kitchen for food.

It was well worth it. Once all the chopping was done, I sautéd the vegetables with olive oil and garlic, broiled the tortillas so they are nice and crisp,  and then topped them with the vegetable mix and salsa. The original recipe called for melted cheese on the tortilla, but I omitted it to keep this vegan. Other changes I made were to use corn tortillas instead of flour, using cremini mushrooms instead of button, and adding more garlic. I think this would make a great vegan taco or burrito filling too. The non-vegetarians (everyone, but me) all liked it and I still have enough for a salad topping for lunch today.

The recipe comes from the July 2009 issue of Real Simple.

Mushroom and Poblano Tostada

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of corn kernals (cut fresh from 2 ears of corn)
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup store-bought fresh salsa
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, poblano, garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender and liquid has nearly evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the corn.
  2. Heat broiler. Brush tortillas with remaining oil and place on baking sheet. Broil until crisp, about 1 minute per side.
  3. Top tortillas with vegetables and salsa.

Enjoy! Serves four.

Please visit Michele’s Blog–Veggie Num Nums–to see what she cooked up for Vegan Tuesdays.