March 26, 2012

Cashew Brioche

I've been trying to eat better lately and cutting back on grains and legumes and processed foods .  (Tackling my sugar addiction is a Sisyphean task and a different demon altogether.)  I wanted alternatives to cakes and breads and other delectable desserts made from wheat, and I luckily stumbled upon Roost by the inspirational Caitlin.  There were all these lovely treats made with nut flours to go along with all of the beautiful photography.
I've previously only used almond flour to make frangipane filling for tarts, but I never really imagined that you can make cakes and breads with nut flours.  The brioche was surprisingly light in texture despite my difficulty in folding egg whites into anything.  It was delicately nutty, and a little goes a long way. 
I love mine served with thin slices of manchego cheese and a dab of membrillo.

Cashew Brioche
slightly adapted from Kendall Conrad's Eat Well, Feel Well via Roost

3 cups raw cashews
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Grind cashews in a high speed blender or food processor until you end up with a fine flour.  Add in baking soda, salt, egg yolks, vinegar, and coconut milk.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and soft peaks have formed.  Carefully fold into cashew batter.  Do not over mix!

Pour into a buttered non-stick 9-inch loaf pan.  (I used a slightly larger pan.)  If not using non-stick, line pan with parchment paper and grease.  Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, remove brioche from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Brioche stored at room temperature in an airtight container will last for a few days, longer if in the fridge.

March 25, 2012

Spring cleaning with a new look

I decided What the Fig was in dire need of a new look after four years (four?!).  I'm not 100% enamored with this template--while there are things that I love about it, namely the landing page with all the images laid out, there are features I wish I had more control over.  I'll keep it for now and see how I like it.  What do YOU think? 

March 23, 2012

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Spring is here!  I think the weather has finally made up its mind after several false starts, though every year it seems spring lasts for a week before blinkyoumissedit, the relentless heat and humidity of summer is upon the city.  So celebrate the end of the cold season with these chocolate pots de creme!  Just don't accidentally add more hot water to them than the recipe calls for.  At least, that's what I think I did.  Mine never gelled after a night in the fridge and was more chocolate sauce than anything, although the top quarter inch did firm up a bit after I stuck them under the broiler to caramelize the sugar.  They were still divine--you can't ruin anything with the addition of heavy cream!

March 16, 2012

Chicken Ragu with Zucchini Salad

There was a bit of tweaking that I made to this recipe, from the minor substitution of pecans for macadamias to taking out entirely the dill and spring onions.  BUT leaving out the vincotto was a big mistake; however, I couldn't justify dropping anywhere from $18-22 on a bottle.  I couldn't even make myself buy a bottle of cooked grape must, which is a cheaper alternative.  The sweetness of the vincotto would've balanced out the strong and rather overpowering flavor of the wine.  If you decide to forego this ingredient as well, definitely decrease the amount of wine when cooking.

March 9, 2012

Pear and Apple Phyllo Tarts

My brain has been in tart-mode these past few weeks, and in an effort to free up some space in the freezer, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and defrost some phyllo dough to make some tarts.  I kept things light with a few layers of phyllo and thin daubs of vanilla custard--a little goes a long way.  The one above contains slices of pear.

This one has apples.  I like this a lot more.  I was so surprised at how great they tasted, though I shouldn't be with the amount of butter that went into them.  The phyllo was perfectly flaky and buttery, and the fruit practically melts in your mouth.  The custard is the glue that holds everything together.