Confetti Cookies

cookies

I made Smitten Kitchen’s Confetti Cookies for a friend’s birthday and they were adorable and totally delicious.

I honestly didn’t change a thing other than I was a bit stingy with the sprinkles. A couple of tips, though: include the almond extract and don’t over-bake them. They’re pretty amazing when they’re soft. Also, the dough freezes great.

Make some!

Confetti Cookies

Sqirl

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Sqirl is a popular eatery on the east side of Los Angeles, and I try to go every time I’m in the area and the line isn’t crazy long. Weekdays are less crazy, and weird times are even less crazy. If you’re going at 11AM on a Saturday then just be prepared to wait.

Everything I’ve tried has been worth trying, including the sorrel rice bowl, the seasonal hash, stewed chickpeas with eggs, and the oft-grammed ricotta toast. It’s all simple and fresh and flavorful. Thumbs up!

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Sqirl

Link Round-Up, 4.11.17

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Here’s some recent articles featuring my byline! All include a recipe! Whoop dee doo!

Link Round-Up, 4.11.17

Pressure Cooker Brown Rice Risotto

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One of the most popular dishes to make in a pressure cooker is risotto. Instead of standing over a hot pot and stirring stirring stirring, the rice cooks away all on its own and emerges creamy and flavorful. It’s wonderful.

There are a couple of risotto recipes in my cookbook, but the variations are endless. I recently made a version using brown rice! It was super tasty and healthier than the typical version. You’ll just need a few more minutes of cooking time.

Note that this recipe is written for an electric pressure cooker, but will work with a stove top version as well.

Brown Rice Risotto
Serves 2-3 (you can easily double this recipe)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine or 3 tablespoons dry vermouth
1 cup short-grain brown rice
2 cups good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
Salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Mix-ins (see below)

Heat your pressure cooker using the Sauté function. Once hot, add the oil followed by the onion. Sauté for 3 minutes or until the onions are becoming translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add white wine or vermouth and cook, scraping the bottom, until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Turn off the Sauté function and add the rice, stock, and a healthy pinch of salt. Secure the lid and cook for 25 minutes at high pressure and use a natural release.

While the rice is cooking, prepare your mix-ins. I have some ideas for you below.

Once the pressure has been released, remove the lid and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir vigorously for a few minutes until the rice is creamy. Add your mix-ins and stir. Serve topped with a little more Parmesan and perhaps a chopped fresh herb.

Mix-ins (mix and match!)

  • 1-2 links of high-quality sausage, cooked through and broken up or sliced
  • Sautéd chopped fresh spinach
  • Sautéd mushrooms with thyme
  • Roasted butternut squash and fresh sage
  • Roasted or sautéd asparagus and lemon
  • Broiled shrimp
  • Fresh, lightly cooked green peas
Pressure Cooker Brown Rice Risotto

Lemon Berry Cake

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I was tasked with making a dessert for roughly 25-30 people attending a baby shower last weekend. The mom-to-be and I decided on a lemony berry-y concoction, and this is what I came up with. It was a bit precarious to transport, but it looked nice, tasted good, and fed the right amount of people. Success!

The cake is a basic 1-2-3-4 cake with a dose of vanilla and lemon zest added. I baked mine in the three-tiered wedding-style configuration—if you do that, just keep an eye on the layers since they’ll bake at different rates. Start checking them at 20 minutes. The easier way is to cook them in three 9-inch pans like the recipe calls for, but I didn’t have three. You work with what you got. Note that you can make the lemon curd beforehand (it’ll keep in the fridge for 1 week).

The combo of the sweet cake, tart lemon curd, fresh berries, and fluffy whipped cream is just so good. Technically you could leave out the berries or you could leave out the curd. It’d still be good, just not quite as good. But I get it if you don’t want to prep four things.

 

1-2-3-4 Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 lemons, zested
3 cups sifted self-rising flour*
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare your three 9″ pans by greasing and flouring well.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to mix well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and zest and mix well.

Add flour and milk alternately to mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for 5-10 minutes before turning the cakes out of their pans and cooling completely.

* Make your own self-rising flour if you don’t have any. 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 teaspoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.


Lemon Curd
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen/The Joy of Cooking

4 egg yolks
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small lemons, zested and juiced

Put all ingredients in a double boiler over boiling water. Don’t let top pan touch the water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken ever-so-slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate it to thicken.


Berries

1 package fresh strawberries, washed and dried
1 small package raspberries, washed and drained
1 small package blueberries, washed and drained

Hull the strawberries and slice into 2-4 slices lengthwise, depending on their size. If your strawberries are not very sweet, you can toss them in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of sugar.


Whipped Cream

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chill a large, clean mixing bowl in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Add the cream and vanilla and whip using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a hand-held mixer. Add the sugar gradually, a tablespoon at a time. Whip until stiff peaks form.


How to Assemble:

Place one cooled cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with 1/3 of the lemon curd in a thin layer, followed by 1/3 of the whipped cream and a single layer of berries. If you soaked your strawberries in sugar, be sure to drain them before using. Top with another cake layer and repeat twice. For the final layer, arrange the fruit in a pretty design. Or don’t! Whatever you want. Store in the refrigerator until serving.

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Lemon Berry Cake

Channel Islands National Park

Last summer I went on a sea kayaking trip at Channel Islands National Park. It was superb! Here’s some info in case you’d like to go this summer (and you should):

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The Channel Islands are located about an hour’s boat ride from Ventura, CA. No one permanently lives there (you can camp) and there is no transportation on the island. All there is to do is kayak or snorkel or hike, and it’s pretty glorious.

You can only get to the islands via a couple of companies. If you want to kayak, you can book your passage to the island and kayak expedition all together. There are different excursions to different islands, including one-day trips and overnight trips with camping. There’s lots of info on the park website.

My husband and I chose Aquasport’s one-day trip to Santa Cruz Island with ocean kayaking. The boat left at about 8AM and we returned around 5PM. Once we arrived, our guide provided helmets, jackets, paddles, and kayaks, along with basic instructions. We spent the next 3 or 4 hours paddling in the sea, nudging into sea caves whenever possible. Our guide was fantastic and, even though it was unusually windy, he was a pro at making sure we saw as much as possible.

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I’d recommend wearing a bathing suit with some quick-drying layers over top and lots of sunscreen. Water socks are also highly recommended. Oh, and a baseball cap. It’ll keep the sun out of your eyes and make your helmet more comfy. You can bring some dry clothes, water, lunch, more sunscreen, etc. and keep it in your guide’s lockbox on land. Store in a waterproof, airtight bag and/or hard-sided cooler.

After kayaking, we had a couple of hours to eat lunch and explore the island. There’s a small museum of sorts displaying the history of the island, and there are a few hiking trails. I made my way up one and took in breathtaking views free of traffic noise.

Note that the dock at Santa Cruz has been out of commission for a few years now, and the crew ferries everyone back and forth from the big boat in groups of 8-10. It takes a while, but it’s kind of fun, and they are working real hard. Just be patient.

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Channel Islands National Park

Pressure Cooker Corned Beef

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I don’t know what’s happening here but I got this from That Dad Blog

It’s that time of year when people eat unnaturally green food and it’s okay! And everyone tries to remember how to make corned beef. No need to worry, I’ve got your back. Below is my recipe for pressure cooked corned beef from my book The Instant Pot® Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Easy Recipes for Fast & Healthy Meals. It’s so easy and great with a mug of beer.

Corned Beef
Serves 8

1 (3 1/2-4 lb) flat-cut corned beef
1 (12-oz) bottle beer
2 cups chicken or beef broth
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
Pepper

Rinse the corned beef and pat dry. Trim off the excess fat, leaving a thin layer behind.

Place the meat in the pressure cooker and cover with beer and broth. Add onion and bay leaf and season with pepper. Secure the lid.

Select Manual and cook at high pressure for 1 1/2 hours and use a natural release.

Let rest before slicing.

Pressure Cooker Corned Beef