Jalapeño-Cheddar Biscuits

  • 3 c soft white flour
  • 4 1/2 t baking powder
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • 1 7/8 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 lb very sharp cheddar, cut into small cubes or coarsely grated
    • plus an extra 1/4 c (opt.)
  • 2-4 jalapeños, minced, about 1/4-1/3 c total, depending on your preference

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Add in the cubed cheese and jalapeños. Be sure to check the chilies’ heat level and decide how much of the inner membranes you want to leave in, if any. Make sure the cheese and chillies are evenly distributed throughout the flour mixture. Add in the cream and mix with a large wooden spoon until it just comes together in a shaggy ball. Be very careful not to overmix or else they will become tough instead of tender and flaky. Using either a dough/batter scoop or a large spoon, scoop balls of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with more shredded cheese if desired. Bake until golden brown at 450°F for about 12-15 minutes. Let cool and serve.

Makes 24 1 1/2″ small biscuits or about 12-16 large ones.

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Gazpacho

  • 8 thick slices of French or Italian bread, cubed
  • 2 1/2-3 pounds very ripe tomatoes
  • 1 English (seedless) cucumber
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 bell peppers, red, orange or yellow
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 to 3+ T red wine or sherry vinegar
  • 1-2 c tomato juice
  • kosher salt
  • extra-virgin olive oil

Chop up all the vegetables into a large dice, about 1″. Place in a large bowl along with the bread, minced garlic, and tomato juice. Drizzle with olive oil and add a generous amount of kosher salt. Allow to sit for 2 hours mixing every half hour.

Working in batches, puree the mixture in a blender with the vinegar. Blend in more tomato juice to loosen the mixture, if needed. Remove soup to a large bowl and stir in about 1/4 cup of good extra virgin olive oil. Taste for salt and acidity and add more salt or vinegar if needed.

Chill for several hours.

When serving, drizzle a little olive oil and vinegar, and add fresh cracked black pepper to each bowl. Optional garnish: finely diced cucumber, bell pepper, and onion.

Cherry Chocolate Cake

  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 C dark brown sugar
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 3/4 t almond extract
  • 1/2 C ground almonds
  • 2 C flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 C very strong black coffee, freshly boiled
  • 1 24-28 oz jar sour cherries in juice
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1 T icing sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/4 t almond extract
  • shaved dark chocolate, for garnish

In the large bowl of a stand mixer add the sugar and half of the butter. Mix until combined. Meanwhile chop the baking chocolate into rough chunks. Melt the remaining butter in a small bowl and then add in the baking chocolate, mixing with a rubber spatula until the chocolate has fully melted. Add to the sugar/butter mixture. Beat until the chocolate is fully incorporated and it has cooled down some. Next beat the eggs in one at a time. Add in the buttermilk and extracts, mixing slowly so it doesn’t slosh over the rim.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, salt, and soda together. Slowly add to the batter, alternating with the almonds, mixing slowly after each addition until the dry ingredients are just barely incorporated.

Add in the boiling hot coffee and mix until a uniform consistency, making sure to use a rubber spatula to get any thick bits of batter up from the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Pour into 2 prepared (greased and floured) 8″ or 9″ round cake pans. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until just done in the centre.

Whilst the cake is baking, drain the juice from the cherries and pour into a small saucepan. Add water or another unsweetened fruit juice (cherry, cranberry, apple) to make about 1 C. Add in the sugar and bring to a boil, and reduce until a medium syrup is formed – it is noticeably viscous, but pours easily. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool.

Beat the cream in a very cold bowl until soft peaks form, add the sugar and extracts, and beat until stiff.

Once the cake is out of the oven, allow to fully cool. Once cool, trim the cakes so they are flat on top and then invert one onto a cake stand. Prick all over with a skewer and brush about half the cooled cherry syrup all over the cake. Add half the whipped cream spread evenly. Top with half the cherries. Place the next layer on top and do the same as with the bottom layer, prick with skewer, brush with syrup, add whipped cream and then add the cherries. You can either place them all in the middle for a more rustic looking cake, or arrange them in a pattern. Top with shaved dark chocolate.

Lemon Muffins

  • 2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 1/2 T poppy seeds (opt)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 c yogurt
  • 8 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 t freshly grated lemon zest (zest from 1-2 lemons)
  • 1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 t lemon extract
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1.5-2 large lemons)
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes.

Sunflower Seed Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 2 1/4 t yeast
  • 2 3/4 c whole-wheat flour
  • 1 c bread flour
  • 2 T wheat gluten (optional)
  • 2 1/2 t kosher or sea salt
  • 1 c toasted, salted sunflower seeds

Mix 1 t of the honey with the water and yeast and allow to proof for 5-10 minutes. Mix flours, salt and gluten if using together in a bowl. Add remainder of honey to water and yeast mixture (assuming yeast is good), and whisk to combine. Add flour to liquid and mix on medium speed for 6 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic, adding either more water or flour as needed. Remove from bowl and flatten the dough out into a large rectangle. Sprinkle sunflower seeds over the dough and then roll tightly, folding the ends up so the seeds don’t spill out. Slowly knead the dough roll to incorporate the seeds evenly throughout the dough, about 5 minutes.

Set dough in a greased bowl and allow to rise for 1 1/2-2 hours until doubled.

Punch dough down and allow to rise again for an hour until doubled again.

Remove the dough from the bowl, shape into a log and place in a greased 9″ loaf pan. Let rise for another hour (it will only rise a little).

Bake at 350F for 45 min-1 hour.

Roasted Tomato Sauce with Sausage and Rapini

  • 1 1/2 lbs cherry or grape tomatoes, halved if they’re large, quartered if large than 1 1/2″
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 links Italian sausage, sliced into coins
  • 1 large onion, finely diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T capers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped olives, kalamata or green
  • 1 anchovy, mashed or 1/2 t anchovy paste
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 C dry white wine
  • 1 pound pasta (I like either linguine or rotini with this)
  • 1 large bunch rapini or other bitter green, rinsed and roughly chopped, tough stems removed
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley (you probably won’t use all of this)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2-4 oz finely grated hard Italian cheese like Pecorino

Brown the sausage coins on medium heat with a little oil in a large oven-proof skillet. Remove sausage and set aside. Toss the tomatoes with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and thyme sprigs and add to the pan. Be careful to not over-salt at this stage as you’ll be adding in rather salty ingredients next. Stir gently to deglaze and then roast in the oven at 375°F for 20-30 minutes, stirring once. Meanwhile prepare the onions, garlic, capers, olives, anchovy, red pepper flakes and mix all together with the wine. Add to the tomato mixture and return to the oven, roasting for a further 20-30 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent, stirring half-way through. Remove thyme stems before adding to pasta. Add in a ladle or two of the starchy pasta water if needed to thin it out.

While roasting the sauce for the final time, boil your pasta water and prep your greens. I like to get the younger rapini bunches if possible so you can use more of the tender stems which means both less waste and less prep. Slice the greens into approx. 1″ ribbons and chop the flower heads and tender stems into 2″ long pieces, discarding any stems any thicker than about 1/4″, or any stems you can’t easily eat raw.  Boil the pasta in salted water for just under the recommended al dente time (since the pasta will finish cooking with the sauce), adding in the greens 1 1/2 minutes before the pasta will be ready. Immediately drain and add back to the pasta pot along with the hot sauce and reserved sausage pieces. Dress with chopped Italian parsley, olive oil, grated cheese and lemon zest to taste, reserving some of the parsley, oil and cheese to use as a final garnish at the table.

This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the sausage and anchovy.

Honey Oat & Sunflower Seed Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 1/4  teaspoon yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey (or agave nectar if making this vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/2 cup oat groats
  • 1 cup rolled old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup roasted sunflower seed kernels
  • 2+ cups white bread flour (depending on how moist your groats are)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (white or hard red depending on your preference)

Boil 1 1/2 cups of water and pour over the groats and allow to soak for at least half an hour, or use cold water and soak in the fridge overnight. Add the rolled oats 10 minutes before you begin to make your bread dough.

To the warm water (95-105°F) add the honey and yeast. I drain what water is left over from soaking the groats and rolled oats and add enough extra water to that to make 1 1/2 cups so I keep the flavour and nutrients that have leached into the water. Add in the butter and mix well. Add in the groats, rolled oats, sunflower seeds and salt, and then slowly add in the 4+ cups of flour, all the while mixing with the dough hook attachment of your mixer or a sturdy wooden spoon. Only add in enough flour so that it barely comes off the sides of the bowl, this is supposed to be quite a moist dough.

I like to let my mixer knead the dough for about 4 minutes before turning it out onto a lightly floured surface and adding just enough flour so that it doesn’t stick to my hands or the counter. Knead for 5 minutes more until stretchy and it just barely sticks to the counter without a little flour.

Form into  ball, cover and place in a clean, oiled bowl to rise until doubled. Once doubled, punch down gently and allow to rise for a second time, being careful to watch it so it doesn’t over-rise.

Remove from the bowl and shape into whatever shape you choose, a boule, batard, baguette, or place into 2 loaf pans. Top with either a scattering of rolled oats or sunflower seeds (or both)  and allow to rise one final time.

Bake in a 375°F oven until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom/the internal temperature has reached 190°F.