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Hand-Dipped Chocolate Covered Bananas

Mmm mmm, we’ve been enjoying these babies all weekend, thanks to the fact that they’re half the fat of normal ice cream. They are scrumptious, and the best part is, no one will ever know that they are dairy and processed sugar free. Hello! Pass me another one over please.  The whole family can make these together, and kids love the independence of dipping the bananas into the chocolate themselves, then choosing their own toppings. Make them plain or fancy, they are a perfect for a play date snack, or a laid back dessert. Hand-Dipped Chocolate Covered Bananas 4 bananas, peeled and cut in half 1 cup coconut oil 1/2 cup cacao powder 2 tablespoons mesquite powder 1/4 cup agave syrup 8 coffee stirrers Topping ideas: 1/4 cup hemp seeds 1/4 cup unsalted raw or roasted almonds 1/4 cup shredded coconut 1/4 cup cacao nibs 14 cup goji berries 1. Take the halved bananas, and skewer each one with a coffee stirrer. Place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and put them in the freezer for 2 hours. 2. In a pan, heat 1-2 cups of water to just before boiling point. Turn off the heat, and [...]

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Victoria Sponge

O.k.. so I might have gone a bit crazy with the cream, and quite possibly plonked on a few too many berries, but heck, spring is here, and I’m in a celebratory mood: Easter Sunday, a Royal wedding next week, and 3 day weekends abound. Whoo hoo, whoop whoop, whatever you say, I feel like I’m on a holiday when I have a slice of Victoria Sponge. My Mother in Law Norma refers to it as “Vicky Sponge,” a nickname which I adore, and always makes me giggle.   This cake is light and fruity, and perfect for birthday parties, baby showers, or tea time…and it doesn’t hurt that it’s cute as a button. I wish I could have perfected the look of my cake, but the minute I sandwiched it together today, my son Jake started groaning over and over again, “Oh, Mommy makes the best cake! Oh, Mommy, my body needs cake! I need to have some cake!”  Needless to say, I took a few snaps and we all dug in.  Victoria Sponge 8 oz butter at room temperature 8 oz unbleached caster sugar 4 medium free range eggs 2 tsp pure vanilla extract (no alcohol brand) 8 [...]

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Meyer Lemon Cheesecake

There is so much chaos in the world at the moment that I felt a need to keep things grounded and simple. Day to day, I have gone back to basics. I upped my Buddhist practice (chanting and studying) to keep the faith and stay clear, and have taken the time to feel deep gratitude for everything in my life: My loving husband and son, caring friends, food and clean water, and a roof over my head. Corny as it may sound, appreciating the basics has been so significant in making me a happier person. I find myself trying, now more than ever, to live for today. To really be in the moment, rather than thinking about what could happen next week or six months down the line.  So how in the hell does this tie into my blog post? Really, I haven’t a clue, except, when the world starts spinning a little too quickly, I cook. Within reason of course. If a disaster strikes, don’t trip, I will not be sauteeing, or flambeing in the kitchen. It’s as this simple as this: Linus has his security blanket, I have cooking.  This is a dreamy cheesecake. It’s so light and luscious, [...]

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Chocolate Fudge Brownies

These brownies are luscious, rich, and deeply chocolatey. Forget about Valentine’s Day. Spread the love, and serve them all year ’round. They’re simply too good to share one day a year.  Chocolate Fudge Brownies 18 ounces dark chocolate chips, or bars broken into pieces (60% cocoa solids recommended) 1 cup unsalted butter, plus a tablespoon of melted butter to grease baking tins 3/4 cup unbleached superfine sugar 2 free range or organic  eggs 2 cups unbleached plain flour 1 tsp pure vanilla (no alcohol brand) 3 tsp good quality instant coffee 3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 3 loaf tins to make bars or one 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 square tin for squares 1. Preheat the oven to 325* Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. 2. Grease the baking tins and line with parchment paper. 3. Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the water does not touch the bowl), and melt the butter and chocolate stirring once in a while until it is completely melted. Take the bowl off the simmering water and set aside.  4. In a [...]

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Raisin and Walnut Semolina Pudding

  The first time I ate Semolina Pudding was at The Hare Krishna Temple’s restaurant, Govinda’s, in Culver City. I ate a spoonful, and had an “OH MY GOD” moment. It was so simple, without being tooth-achingly sweet. Just in the right ballpark of sugar on your tongue. Each day, the pudding is lovingly prepared with a different flavor: Monday is mango, Tuesday carob, Wednesday peach, Thursday blueberry, Friday raisin and walnut, and so on. When having to chose a favorite, I feel a little like Hugh Hefner: When presented with all the options, it”s no use, I love ‘em all. I am rolling with raisin and walnut today because it’s a classic, and a seasonal all rounder. Practically speaking, raisins and walnuts are undoubtedly the two ingredients that will be kicking around your shelf. No use chasing after fresh, ripe, mango when we are in the middle of winter. If you can, do include the saffron strands. It really takes the flavor in this pudding to the next level. For my friends that are worried about the use of butter and sugar: I have halved the original Hare Krishna recipe amount, and dry roasted the walnuts instead of frying [...]

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Spiced Carrot Cake

My mission this week was to share a carrot cake recipe from my collection of cookbooks. As your culinary consultant (we are so high end, non?), my aim was to edit out the good from the bad. With a smug attitude, I tried a few recipes, assuming the end results would be bombastic. In the end, I walked away from each thinking I should have put my foot in it. The recipes seriously needed the Karate Kid to come by and drop kick in some flavor. As a compassionate cook, I will fiercely guard the anonymity of the authors, because shoot, some of their recipes kick major bootie. Just so we are on the same page, I am one of you. I have not forgotten what it is like to slice into a hot buttermilk biscuit, slam on a pat of butter, then wait for that butta to melt. To lead you down the garden path of vegetarian bliss, then have you gnawing off your fingers after dessert would be a crime. Indeed, we are not trapped in a deep ravine near Mount Everest, so we should act accordingly. Over the years, I have noticed that “conscious” recipes ask your taste [...]

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Blueberry and Nectarine Crumble with Lemon Cream

Strolling around Farmers Market really taps into my greedy, produce-hoarding nature. In my wildest dreams, there are no measured thoughts of, ” oh, I’ll just take a pound” of this or that. “Four dollars a pound? Oh, give me ten pounds. Cheers!” Wouldn’t life be so wonderful? Suddenly, another fantasy comes streaming in: Owning a farm outside of the city, of how lovely and peaceful it would be, as well as the garden being unbelievably fulfilling. Amazing as this may sound, reality strikes, and I wonder how two city kids like Toby and I (he’s from London, I’m from Los Angeles) would fare in the woods with the sound of crickets instead of ambulances blaring at all hours of the night. Childhood memories of B rated horror flicks whirl around in our heads, of grizzly bears gone wild and tempestuous termites nibbling at our bedpost in the wee hours of the night. All thoughts of going au naturel immediately fizzle out. For the moment, we love our life in the concrete jungle, with a weekly harvest (or two) of organic produce at outdoor markets. Yin and yang never felt so good. Phwoar crumble! This is a sexy minx of a [...]

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Dark Chocolate Truffles with Cacao Nibs

Let’s face it, we’re living through tough times. Before I get into the harrowing two weeks my family has been through, it has to be said that everyone has a story right now. Period. I don’t think this recession has left one family untouched, apart from anyone that owns stock in Apple (am I the only person left without an Ipod Touch? Ipad anyone?). The only upside I can see is that, in some small way, trouble and strife can be a unifying experience. With all eyes glued to the downward spiral of the European economy and their debt crisis, it does not seem improbable that in the next six to twelve months America will have to answer it’s own debt issues. Remember the fallout of September 2008? The U.K and Europe had been going through it only eight months before. Hold onto your hats is all I say, or at the very least be cautious with your dosh. It started almost two weeks ago: It was our last day in the house, and my husband was giving an unwanted glass coffee table to a friend. “At eight am in the morning?” I asked. “Can’t you at least enjoy a [...]

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Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies for Little Monsters

Lordy, these babies are good: Most, chewy, and gloriously fruity. They soften the hard edges of your day, and keep your lil’ monsters smiling when the going gets tough. If only I had the problem of sharing  my new choo choo with a friend.  I strayed from my usual white crockery because I adore this vintage Limoges plate. I found it at my favorite type of thrift shop: the kind you gotta get durtee (that’s right, I said durtee) to find the good stuff. Hooo weee, did I get dusty and musty, but it’s a part of the territory folks. I am wholeheartedly against those fancy vintage establishments where everything is just so. I do lurve (yes, I said lurve) the sense of mystery. Will I find a treasure today, or will I leave empty handed? It’s kind of on par with fishing. It’s a “just having fun, and if I catch something, even better” vibe. There she was, sitting in a polite stack of mismatched plates just like a starlet waiting to be discovered at Schwabs. Isn’t she gorgeous? Jeez, wasn’t I supposed to be talking about cookies? Back on track lady…… Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies for Little Monsters [...]

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Naked Apple Pie

Dear readers, I must make a humble confession: This is not your Mama’s apple pie. As delicious as her pie may be, eating it consistently will make your rear end as big as as the state of California. Certainly, there are cultures that prize a grande derriere, but if you’re still with me, I’m figuring you are wholeheartedly off the idea of owning a “Rump Shaker.” The party track, “Wiggle it, just a little bit” is cute until it becomes depressingly clear that one owns more than a little to wiggle. How I love to watch TV cook Nigella Lawson working it in the kitchen. Artfully drizzling hot chocolate into her mouth while making “Dark, Rich, Brownies, with a Deep, Hot, Interior,” and gently groaning, ”oooohhhh.” It would take an entire fire department to put out that kind of heat. Dessert should be enjoyable, and Nigella’s books are sitting on my shelf for days when I’m feeling a ‘lil saucy. Think of my Naked Apple Pie offering as your practical and comfy T-Shirt Bra to Nigella’s naughty Deep Plunge Convertible. Thankfully, there is room in our lives for both to enjoy. My apple pie is not baked, but herein lies the magic. When I say magic, I mean the magic of [...]

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