Thursday, December 28, 2017

Schiacciata alla Fiorentina (Italian Sponge Cake)

This has been a year of cakes for Stacey Snacks.

I used to claim that I didn't like to bake.
My how things have changed.

I found that I LOVE to bake! It's like therapy.

It is relaxing and calming, and I no longer believe that baking is a science, you can improvise (not too much, but some) and change ingredients.

Use your instincts (if they are good!).

I have done very well with substituting 1/2 cup of almond flour for regular flour; I have tried using different sugars and swapping or adding in nuts or fruits; all with very good results.

Here is one last cake for the year.

This one is a good one.

I was definitely Italian in another life.
My Italian is better than my French, the language just seems natural to me.

I love Italian food more than any other cuisine, and Italian pastries make me quiver.

I am crazy for pasta, and recipes from the North are my favorite.

Then what took me so long to make this simple Italian sponge cake called "Schiacciata alla Fiorentina"?

It is a sponge cake made during the fall months for the grape or olive harvests in the North....and all the proper Tuscan chefs use olive oil from Tuscany in this recipe (I cheated and used Sicilian olive oil! shhhhhh!).

I cut out a fleur de lis (which is customary decoration for this cake) from a stencil I downloaded online, and I managed to screw it up while dusting my cake w/ powdered sugar.

So.....I "made it nice" and repaired it by making an indentation with my squirrel cookie cutter. Ok. All fixed.

This is moist and fragrant from the orange zest. We loved it.

I drizzled those wonderful Amarena cherries over it with some syrup to make this a dinner party worthy dessert.

I will put it in the rotation.

Schiacciata alla Fiorentina (adapted from 196 Flavors):

2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 large organic orange + zest, at room temperature
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped (or 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract)
confectioner's sugar for the top

Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla.

Add orange zest and olive oil, and continue beating, at low speed (I did this all by hand).

Add in the milk and orange juice and beat for another minute.

Mix the baking powder and flour, and gradually incorporate them with a spatula, adding one spoon at a time and making sure they are entirely absorbed before adding the next spoon.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Butter and flour the bottom and all the sides of a 10×8 inch pan. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, check if the cake is baked by inserting a toothpick.

Unmold and let the cake cool on a wire rack.

Sprinkle icing sugar over the entire surface. Create a fleur-de-lis stencil, put it on the cake and sprinkle cocoa powder (or do your own thing like I did!).

Gently lift the stencil so that no cocoa powder spills onto the icing sugar (yeah, good luck with that).

Cut into squares and serve.

I hope you have a happy, healthy and SWEET new year!


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Roasted Green Beans & Chickpeas w/ Harissa and Feta

I loved these green beans so much I could marry them.

They are the BEST!

I didn't expect much out of such a simple recipe, but wow!

If you are not familiar with harissa paste....get acquainted.

It is a chili pepper paste made in Tunisia from red peppers and other spices. Each blend is unique.
A little goes a long way.

It is very popular in Moroccan cuisine and in every grocery store in France. I always bring a tube of it back from Paris.

You can mail order it here on amazon.

This recipe is a great side dish for a party, and though tasted best warm out of the oven, it was still great at room temperature.

I adapted the recipe from Floating Kitchen, adding a bit more olive oil, longer cooking temperature and swapped pimenton (smoked paprika) for regular paprika.

Roasted Green Beans & Chickpeas w/ Harissa and Feta:

For the Chickpeas:

1 (16 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)

For the Green Beans:

1 tablespoon harissa paste
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Pre-heat your oven to 400F degrees.

Spread the chickpeas out on a paper towel. Then use another paper towel to pat them completely dry.

In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, cumin and paprika. Add the dried chickpeas and toss until they are well coated. Spread the chickpeas out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Then transfer them to your pre-heated oven to roast for 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking time. Remove the chickpeas from the oven and set them aside.

Meanwhile, prepare the green beans. In a large bowl, combine the harissa paste and the olive oil. Add the green beans and toss them to coat.

Spread the green beans out onto a second rimmed baking sheet and transfer them to your pre-heated oven. Roast for 10 minutes. Then remove them from the oven and set aside.

To serve, arrange the green beans on a serving plate.

Top with the chickpeas and the feta cheese.

These are best served right away, while nice and warm.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Chocolate Holiday Bark w/ Pecans & Cranberries

I always post a chocolate bark during the holidays....French mendiants being my favorite with the little dried fruits and nuts.

Instagram inspired me once again......late night trolling I found this lick smacking sounding recipe on The Kitchen McCabe's instagram page.

I found the recipe and whipped up a's that easy.

The combo of toasted nuts, maple syrup. black pepper, sea salt and chocolate were divine!

She used dried cranberries, but craisins aren't my thing, so I opted to use fresh cranberries and loved the results!

You can whip this up in no time. It hardens in the fridge in less than an hour.


Maple Pecan Chocolate Bark w/ Cranberries (adapted from The Kitchen McCabe):

3 cups raw pecan halves (some broken up into pieces)
1 cup dried cranberries (raisins would be good too)
zest of 2 small oranges
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper (yup! use it all)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup maple syrup
1-2 teaspoons Maldon sea salt
12 ounces dark chocolate chip (semisweet 70%)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the pecan halves, pecan pieces, cranberries, orange zest, cinnamon, pepper, vanilla, and maple syrup in a saucepan and stir to combine. Bring the syrup to a boil over medium/high heat. Stirring constantly, cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the syrup has been completely absorbed by the nuts.

Remove nuts from heat and pour onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Spread the nuts out into a single layer.
Let cool and harden completely. Will be like brittle.

While the nuts cool, line another baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the chocolate chips in a saucepan and place over medium/low heat (you can also melt chocolate in the microwave in a glass bowl in 45 second bursts). Stir occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Pour the chocolate over the parchment lined sheet and smooth the chocolate out to a thickness of 1/4 inch.

Break up the cooled pecans and place them evenly over the surface of the chocolate, working quickly while the chocolate is still warm.

Set the chocolate aside for several hours to set (the fridge works in an hour). Once the chocolate has set, break up into pieces and start snacking!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas Salad: Spiced Delicata Squash & Roasted Chickpeas

I know many of you have been waiting for this recipe after seeing it on my instagram page.

Well, here it is....just in time for the holidays!

This was just an ordinary Meatless Monday dinner, but we both said "wouldn't this be a great holiday salad?".
They look like decorated Christmas wreaths!

This is a fantastic salad, that can be assembled ahead and dressed just before serving.

It uses my favorite variety of squash, delicata.
It's a small compact squash, and the best part? you can eat the skin! No tedious peeling.

It's sweet and in my opinion, better than acorn or butternut squash!

I'm in love with this salad.

Roasted Spiced Delicata Squash w/ Chickpeas: (inspired by Little Things by Julia)

For the Squash + Chickpeas:

2 small delicata squash (about 1 – 1½ pounds total), sliced and seeds removed
1 cup cooked chickpeas (if using canned, drain + rinse)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
kosher salt & pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tsp pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
small handful of cilantro leaves

Slice the squash into rings and add to a bowl w/ the chickpeas.

Mix up the spices with oil and vinegar and maple syrup and pour over the squash in the bowl.
Stir together the chickpeas and squash to coat well with the spices and marinade. Add in the chopped cilantro, if using.

Pour on a parchment lined baking sheet (or cast iron skillet) and roast for 25 minutes at 450F.


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoon olive oil

Whisk vinaigrette ingredients with a fork until emulsified. Set aside until ready to serve.

Plate the roasted squash on big plates of arugula or dandelion greens.
Drizzle with the dressing and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Pretty and delicious!

We loved this salad.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Mushroom Leek Wellingtons (Strudel)

You know there is always going to be one vegetarian at your holiday table (along with possibly a vegan, a gluten-free friend and a person that is kosher).

It's hard to satisfy everyone....and then there's the person who doesn't eat onions.....and the person who doesn't like MUSHROOMS! (my husband and brother).

I make enough food so everyone can partake in something. There will always be a hearty vegetable dish and salad, and something like this.

I don't like bananas or oysters, so hopefully there will be something else for me to eat at your table. ;)

This mushroom leek strudel is easy to assemble, has a wow factor and is DELICIOUS!

It looks like Beef Wellington with the mushroom duxelles, minus the meat!

It's very simple to make.

I love puff pastry, it makes everything look impressive.

You saute about a lb. of sliced mushrooms with 2 sliced leeks and fresh thyme in butter and oil on medium heat until everything is nice and browned....about 10 minutes.

At the end of cooking splash with some balsamic vinegar and kosher salt. Set aside to cool.
You can make the mushroom mixture the day before and keep in the fridge until ready to assemble your strudel.

Roll out your sheet of puff pastry and spread with some Dijon mustard.

Lay the cooled mushroom leek mixture down the side (you want to really fill it!).
Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and roll into a tight log.

Lay the strudel on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Close the ends up with the tines of a fork to seal the package.

Brush all over with an egg wash.

Make a pretty design on the top. I did not cut thru the pastry to make this crosshatch pattern. But you can vent it if you like.

Bake in 375F oven for 35-40 minutes until puffed, crispy and golden.

You can bake this 1 hour before serving, it stays warm when tented with foil.

Perfect for your holiday dinner and all those pain in the butt picky eaters!!!!!


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/ Apples & Spinach (hazelnuts too!)

I think this is my first Brussels sprouts post of the season!

For some reason, I have grown tired of the trendy little cabbages, especially the ones I see on menus these days with disgusting sweet glazes and sauces covering up the vegetables!

Leave the vegetables alone! They taste good on their own (usually).

This time, I found some fresh little baby Brussels sprouts and they were so sweet and good. I roasted them my usual way with some kosher salt and oil (I've been using avocado oil lately with good results at high roasting temps). About 20 minutes at 425F.

I tossed them with sliced Braeburn apples, fresh spinach (not baby spinach....but the real hearty stuff!), some toasted hazelnuts and a fantastic salad was born.

I made a dressing of a little maple syrup mixed with red wine vinegar and mustard and a small drop of oil.

I ate this warm and it was so delicious.....I need more salads like this in my life.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Best Cornbread Bundt with Bacon & Jalapenos

I have never been much of a cornbread fan. It's either too sweet and greasy, or dry as a bone.

Today I will share this BEST cornbread recipe with you from my friend Julie's new cookbook Beautiful Bundts.

I have never met Julie in person but we have been cyber friends for 10 years. We were members of a blogger group back when food blogs were new and fresh.

Her blog is called Peanut Butter & Julie and is still going strong.

Since then, she has written 3 cookbooks....won $25,000 grand prize in Food Network's Ultimate Recipe Showdown! has her own line of granola and had a baby!

So I made her cornbread in a bundt pan and all I have to say is WOW.

I stuck to the ingredient list and used a Nordicware pro 10 cup bundt pan.

Julie likes nonstick spray, but I used butter to grease my pan.

The cornbread was moist, a hint of heat and just so delicious.
It makes a big bundt, serving about 12, so I froze the rest of it.

Julie's Cornbread Bundt with Jalapenos & Bacon: (adapted from Beautiful Bundts)

Oven at 350F. Spray a 10 cup bundt pan with non-stick spray (you can also brush with melted butter).

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup of yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup of buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1/4 cup of honey
6 oz. of sliced bacon, cooked crisp
4 green onions
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (I used just one pepper)
1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, soda and salt.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add eggs, buttermilk, butter and honey. Mix together until well blended and smooth.

Now stir in the good stuff. Bacon, jalapenos, scallions and cheese. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake in a 350F oven for 30-35 minutes. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes before inverting bundt onto a wire cooling rack.

Best served warm.

This was great with chili and also just as a snack.

I hope you try it.

I am giving away one of Julie's Beautiful Bundt books!

Just leave a comment!


Monday, December 11, 2017

Instagram Random Bites

Lately, I find it much easier to just post photos on instagram of what I am cooking.

I don't have to write a long love letter to you, and I don't have to write out the recipe.
I am becoming a lazy food blogger after 10 years.

Here are some things that I have been cooking these days.

(If you want the recipes, just click on the links, easy!).

It's comfort food season. I like making big pots of stews and braises to keep warm.

I made Nigella Lawson's One Pot Chicken Barley Potage with Parsnips, Carrots and Leeks.
It was loverly!

Recipe here.

I made my first apple tarte tatin with puff pastry.

I obeyed, and cooked the apples in the caramel (butter and sugar) for 18 minutes, like most recipes said.

The results were excellent. I know most forums say that tarte tatin must be eaten warm, and at that moment.

There were very strict rules about reheating and "won't be good the next day; don't bother with the leftovers".


My tarte tatin was BETTER that night, and even just as delicious for breakfast the next morning!

I kept the tarte in my cold garage, loosely covered. My pastry was still nice and crisp, and because it was a bit chilled, the caramel was nice and firm.

Next up is an oldie but a goodie.

Pasta e Ceci.
Make sure you use ditalini for this one. We ate the whole pot, it's so DELICIOUS and easy.

Here is the best recipe (make sure you follow the directions and puree 1 cup of the chickpeas).

I used my frozen turkey stock from Thanksgiving and omitted the cheese at the really doesn't need it, but go ahead, who doesn't love Parmesan on top?

And last but not least.....that beautiful giant 2 pack of chuck roasts you get at Costco for 25 bucks. This feeds a small army.

I made that beautiful One Pot Oven Braised Beef w/ Tomatoes & Garlic (aka pot roast?) browning onions, no browning the meat.....just stick the big 3 pounder (or larger) in a Le Creuset or Staub Dutch oven. Sprinkle w/ kosher salt & pepper.

Cover w/ a 28oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes with juice. Maybe 1/3 cup of leftover wine or stock. Some fresh rosemary sprigs and a head of peeled garlic cloves.

300F with lid on for 3 hours until falling apart.

Makes the most delicious ragu served over pappardelle.
I froze 2 big containers and will add kimchi the next time for a kimchi beef stew!

You're welcome.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ottolenghi's Beet Ginger Cake

This was the first recipe I tried from the new beautiful book SWEET by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.

I chose the beet ginger cake, because I love beets, and thought it would be different.

I have to say, while we did like this cake very much, there could have been some problems with the baking, had I not read David Lebovitz's post before making it.

The original recipe wants you to bake the cake at 375F for 55-60 minutes.
David says bake the cake for 30-40 minutes at only 350F. David was right on.

My cake only took 40 minutes, and I probably could've taken it out at the 35 mark.

My cream cheese icing also came out odd from the recipe. It was lumpy.....there was no butter in the recipe, so maybe that's why? I used powdered sugar on top instead, and tossed the icing.

Shouldn't be that difficult to bake a cake!

The original recipe has you grind in a vitamin C tablet to keep the beets red.
I did not do that, and my cake had nice red streaks thru.

Ok, now that we have the potential problems out of the way.....the cake was nice. Spicy and earthy.
Would I make it again?

Probably not. But here's the recipe anyway.

Beet Ginger Cake (adapted from SWEET & David Lebovitz):

1/2 cup (100g) finely chopped candied or crystalized ginger
1 2/3 cups (200g) flour
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large red beets, peeled and grated
finely grated zest of one orange
2/3 cup (75g) toasted walnuts, chopped
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup (60g) sour cream
1/2 cup (125ml) sunflower or canola oil
3/4 teaspoon Fruit Fresh, or 1 (1500mg) vitamin C tablet, crushed to a fine powder (optional)

Butter an 8-inch (20cm) square or round pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the grated beets, orange zest, walnuts and candied ginger to the bowl, but do not stir in (not sure why, but I followed the rules).

Whisk together the eggs, sour cream, oil, and Fruit Fresh or vitamin C is a small bowl.
Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients in the large bowl and use a spatula to mix the ingredients together, stirring just until thoroughly combined. The batter will be pink and thick.

Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, even the top, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack, then remove the cake from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and let cool completely before either frosting or dusting with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Jamie Oliver's Sweet Potato Muffins

Super Foods; Detox; Lose 5 lbs. in 1 week; New Year's Resolutions......we are bombarded with these phrases during the month of December.

The holidays are wonderful, but we tend to overeat, over drink, over indulge. I tend to do that during the cold months anyway, always craving stews and pastas, more hearty fare.

How about a healthy snack for a change?

You know my love for sweet potatoes, and the title of Jamie Oliver's book is EVERYDAY SUPER FOOD, and this recipe sounded pretty healthy....and I will only eat 2.....maybe 3.

These came out DELICIOUS.

I was not sure what to expect, since they are called "muffins", but have no sugar in the recipe. No butter, no oil either.
The only "bad" thing is the flour.

Think of these more like mini quiches, and yes, I ate 3 of them for breakfast.

I served them alongside maple glazed salmon and spinach for dinner, and we really enjoyed them.

The recipe uses sunflower seeds on top along w/ the poppy seeds. I did not have any sunflower seeds, so opted only for the poppy seeds.
All good.

I translated the recipe from the UK metric to US measurements.

You're welcome.

Jamie's Sweet Potato Muffins (adapted from EVERYDAY SUPER FOOD): makes 12 regular size muffins

6 eggs
4 cups of grated raw sweet potato (I used 2 large ones, peeled)
3 tbsp cottage cheese
4 scallions, sliced
2 chilis (or hot pepper flakes), sliced thin
1 1/2 cups of flour
2 tbsp baking powder
salt & pepper
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Make sure you spray the muffin liners with nonstick spray (the recipe does not tell you this, and trust me, they will stick if you forget to do it!).

Mix the eggs, grated sweet potatoes, scallions and cottage cheese in a bowl with the chilis.

Add in the dry ingredients with the Parmesan cheese and combine. Season with salt & pepper (don't forget).

I use an ice-cream scoop for even servings. Fill the muffin cups almost to the top.
Sprinkle with the seeds.

Bake in a 350F oven for about 40 minutes.

These were delicious warm, and also right out of the fridge.

Perfect for breakfast or served with mustard maple salmon and a salad!