A Change of Name (But Not of Heart)
Hello everyone! A little housekeeping note: I’ve decided to change the name of my newsletter from graceFULLy to The Messy Kitchen (TMK). It reflects more accurately the ethos of the food I make and share. I’m far from a perfect cook living a perfect life; life gets messy, some meals are mediocre, and there are nights when even I don’t feel like cooking. But taking risks in the kitchen, making messes, and having fun is all that really matters. In the words of August Gusteau from Ratatouille, “Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great.” I want you to be fearless in the kitchen; to enjoy the act of cooking, and to know, in the end, that as long as you’re enjoying the process and the food, that’s all that matters. So, here’s to messy kitchens, messy, imperfect lives, and the beauty that comes from them. Cheers!
Ushering in Autumn with a decadent cake…
September 20 marks the autumnal equinox, though some of us may have already unearthed our flannel button downs. I’ve long wondered what attracts us to fall; perhaps its childhood nostalgia—memories of school starting up again, choosing a costume for Halloween, raking leaves for a few bucks. Or maybe it’s the coziness of hunkering down inside as the air gets a chill and evening comes sooner. Regardless, we’re also in the lovely transitory period when what we eat also often starts to reflect this change in season. The soft, tender fruits of summer yield to sturdier offerings of apple, pumpkin and root veg. Warm spices and flavors find their way into our cooking, as does heartier fare like savory pies and soups.
While I’m just starting to dip my toe into the pool of fall delights, I’ve had a hankering for gingerbread—the rich, dense kind that hurts your teeth with its sweetness. The recipe below was an attempt to use up some beets and satiate that craving.
Gooey Spiced Chocolate Beet Cake
This recipe has been thrice written and twice amended: It was created by Nigel Slater, amended by food blogger David Lebovitz, and finally, tweaked by moi. I had a bag of cooked beets in my fridge from work testing and was desperate for a way to use them that I would actually eat (sorry Eastern European heritage, I just haven’t fallen in love with borscht). Some sort of chocolatey cake came to mind, since beets are dark and moist and add a sweet earthiness that compliments rich chocolate. And since fall is right around the corner, I’ve been thinking of making a dense and sticky gingerbread. So, I combined the three somewhat unorthodox parts—beets, chocolate, gingerbread—to make a dark and autumnal cake. The David Lebovitz version cooks for 40 minutes, but I found the cake emerged a bit too raw in the center (and I like a good gooey cake), so I upped the cooking time by by 10 minutes. It will still jiggle a little in the center, but think of it like a large lava cake. Chill it overnight (if you can wait that long) and serve thick wedges the next day with sour cream (it’s a natural accompaniment to beets, after all).
3 Tbsp coco powder
1 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
7 oz chocolate chips
12 tsp room temp butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup espresso
1 T Lyles golden syrup (if you can’t find it, substitute molasses, so you’d add 2 T molasses total)
1 Tbsp molasses
1 1/2 cups cooked, cubed beets
5 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
First, pre-heat the oven to 375, then…
Pulse cooked, cubed beets in food processor until shredded into little bits.
Mix together the coco powder, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Set aside.
Now melt the chocolate…
Heat ~2 inches of water in a pot over medium heat, then bring it down to a simmer. Measure chocolate into a large, heat-safe bowl and place on top of the pot. Stir occasionally and add a few cubes of butter at a time, continuing until all the butter has been added and the chocolate has melted and is shiny and smooth. Stir until butter is completely melted, then whisk in the espresso, golden syrup, and molasses. Stir in the shredded beets and set aside.
Next, add the egg yolks and flour…
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour them into the chocolate mixture, whisking vigorously as they are added. Add the flour mixture, and mix well.
Then, whip the egg whites…
Whip the egg whites with the sugar until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter, taking care not to over mix.
Finally, it’s time to bake!
Pour into prepared springform pan that’s been coated in butter, and bake for about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before removing the springform sides. Chill overnight for optimal results, and serve with good, whole fat sour cream and a cup of espresso.
Fish (Stick) Tacos with Coleslaw and A Sweet ‘n Spicy Sauce
I’ve been eating my weight in fish sticks for work, and have been trying to get creative with the excess. One solution was this fish taco sitch which turned out surprisingly delicious. Creamy, cool coleslaw tops crunchy fish sticks that have been slicked with a slightly spicy, sweet sauce. Wrapped in a soft taco and it’s an easy weeknight meal that may even convert fish stick skeptics. Serves 2, with two fish stick tacos each.
8 frozen fish sticks
4 small flour tortillas
For the coleslaw:
1 package shredded coleslaw mix
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 sour cream
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
For the spicy, sweet sauce:
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 Tbsp sriracha
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Mea Ploy sweet chili sauce
First, make the coleslaw…
Whisk together all the ingredients, then fold in the shredded coleslaw mixture. Set aside.
Now, make the spicy, sweet sauce…
Whisk together the ingredients, give it a taste, and add more ketchup (if it’s too spicy) or more sriracha (if you want it spicier).
Next, cook the fish sticks according to the box’s instructions…
Then, assemble your tacos…
Place two fish sticks in each taco, then drizzle with a generous spoonful of the sauce. Top with coleslaw, and dig in.