Apr 21, 2015

My Week in Sweets and Greens

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Now that the new book has been out in the world for a solid month, I’ve found myself with a few more pockets of time here and there to do some really fun things that have absolutely nothing to do with the book. For example, going to a lovely event to celebrate someone else’s book, doing an entire load of laundry from start to finish (and even putting it away!), and baking with absolutely no intention of extensively photographing it or writing about it (although I will still occasionally Instagram it, because if I don’t do that, did it ever really happen?). As we usher in a new week, I thought I’d share a couple particularly delicious bites from the last one. Oof. It was carnival of go-big-or-go-home greatness.

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The week actually started out on quite a virtuous note. I got to hug my beautiful friend Sara Forte (and meet her little sunny-faced baby boy; ugh, my uterus) at her San Francisco book event and bought a copy of her latest cookbook, The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon. I immediately started tagging up the thing with Post-its, and the following day made an epic trip to Trader Joe’s, both to make some of her amazing recipes and to restock the pantry and fridge over here, which have been sadly neglected over the past few weeks as I’ve had 75 tabs simultaneously open in my brain. I then spent a kind of crazy (but somehow soothing?) amount of time washing and prepping produce, cooking beans and grains, toasting and spicing nuts and seeds for toppings, and making a couple of Sara’s smack-the-table good salad dressings for the week ahead. Sara’s recipes might not be the 20-minute meal type, but they are wonderfully balanced and flavorful and make you feel very One Degree of Gwyneth, so I have to recommend this book for those meals when you can afford to spend a little more time in the kitchen. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful book too, shot by Sara’s husband. It’s not everyday you find a cookbook that makes you want to be a better person–I’m pretty in love with the whole thing.

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As I said, it takes a lot of prep work to be the glowing, virtuous type, but it made for some awesomely nutritious eating all week long. I’m not sure if it was the dramatic increase in greens consumption, or just a general twisted feeling like surely I deserved a big honking brownie after eating a quinoa and tofu bowl for dinner, but my dessert choices got downright excessive as the week wore on. I suppose I might also blame this other cookbook, which arrived the day after I started cooking from Sara’s book. #dichotomy

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The weekend before last, I had gone to a radio studio here in San Francisco for an interview about Real Sweet. I waited in the green room with none other than Mindy Segal, the Pastry Queen of Chicago. I’ve been to her restaurant Hot Chocolate many times, where the epic light hot chocolate from her menu was actually an early inspiration for my second book Pure Vanilla. After I finished gushing this to her (Couldn’t help it! Mindy! Segal!), we ended up having a lovely chat (along with her co-author Kate Leahy, who lives in the Bay Area, and has helped to create some of the most awesome chef-y cookbooks that have come out in recent years). While we all talked, I paged through their new book Cookie Love, and promptly hit up Amazon as soon as I got home.

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Mindy’s Snickerdoodles went into the oven the same day the book arrived, and my husband said “Seriously the best cookies you’ve ever made”. As you can imagine, my husband eats a loooot of cookies around here, so this is saying something. I’m not even offended that he said that about a recipe that isn’t mine. Mindy’s Snickerdoodles are that good. I’m also convinced they are a gateway cookie, because things got crazier after that. Even Sara’s Hippie Bowl couldn’t save my sweet-toothed soul from here on out.

The much-lauded Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting from Ashley Rodriguez’s Date Night In (photo up top). I recommend you make a batch of these in secret, schedule a Date Night In for yourself, and make that “In” the dark recesses of your closet while your horf a quarter of the pan in one sitting. (Hint: I think these got even better after a rest in the fridge, if you can wait it out.)

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Then our little family got Very San Francisco™ after dinner out one evening. By that I mean we used Twitter to track down a trendy ice cream truck in Golden Gate Park called Twirl and Dip, where you can buy creamy organic soft serve in a vanilla-scented handmade cone, dipped in a sort of hipster Magic Shell made from darkly delicious Tcho chocolate and crusted in the sprinkles of your choice. (You could get Maldon salt on your chocolate dip instead of sprinkles, but come on, LIVE A LITTLE.) You might even get your cone handed to you by an adorable, smiling young man wearing a vintage denim shirt and waxed handlebar moustache. We ate the quickly dripping cones while chasing a certain darting two-year-old through the trees in our winter coats, because it was only like 45 degrees and foggy, and then drove home with the heat blasting so we could thaw out. See? Very San Francisco™.

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Finally, even after all those insane treats, I found myself wanting doughnuts on Saturday morning. DOUGHNUTS. What is my problem? It was probably all the sugar from the previous days, but I was absolutely too lazy to actually go out and buy doughnuts, which I think is a new level of carb-laden sloth. Needless to say, I was definitely not ambitious enough to actually raise and fry homemade ones. So I got inventive and opted for a cinnamon sugar-crusted popover to quell the craving, and lo, did those hit the spot. Why aren’t we all making popovers all the time? Truly the easiest thing in the land, easier than pancakes, even. Recipe coming soon. And here’s a preview:

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  • My favourite thing to make in the kitchen

  • AH! Absolutely love your Very San Francisco excursion. So foggy, so cold, but ice cream is a MUST for summer. (Thank goodness for winter coats and car heaters.)

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