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manoushe1_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Man’oushe is a Lebanese flatbread, spread with olive oil and the spice blend za’atar then cooked quickly on a stone or clay. Not that there’s anything wrong with pulling some pita bread out of a bag to have with your hummus or baba ghanoush, but there’s no comparison once you’ve had this beauty right off the heat. So find an excuse to have cocktails in the kitchen or around the grill while you slide these off the stone and onto the serving plate. It will smell wonderful, taste even better and you’ll feel like you’re giving Ina Garten a run for her money this summer.

It’s best to have a pizza stone or clay tile for this. Za’atar is available from most ethnic groceries, or online. Here’s an example. Start the dough about an hour before you’re ready to serve, and put the stone on to heat 20 minutes before cooking.

Man’oushe, Makes about eight 8″ flatbreads

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1 c. za’tar

Warm the water and milk together to lukewarm. Add the sugar, yeast and olive oil.

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Then stir in the flour.

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Let rise until doubled and then knead smooth for two-three minutes. Put your baking stone on to heat. I set my oven at convection roast 450, but you could do this on the grill as well.

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Divide the dough into eight portions and roll out to 1/8″ thick. Give it a good drizzle of olive oil, and then brush the oil all over the top.

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Douse it with the spices.

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Sprinkle the stone with some semolina and slide on the first bread.

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Bake for about seven-eight minutes, until bubbly and well-browned.

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The bread tears easily and is perfect for sharing.

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But I ate a whole one by myself, right out of the oven. And I’m not sorry.

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Stored in plastic wrap these are still okay the next day if you reheat them in the oven (400 for five minutes). Don’t microwave, it makes them soggy.


Two years ago: Chocolate Eclairs
One year ago: Michigan Fruit Pie

calirolls20_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Sushi originated sometime before the second century A.D., when people in parts of China started wrapping fish in rice to preserve it via fermentation for later meals. At first the rice was discarded, until some thrifty soul ate the whole thing.  This technique spread to Japan, and in the 1600s people started adding rice vinegar to the rice and serving it as-is. Heaven knows I did not grow up in a sushi-eating household, although we did eat a lot of other interesting pickled things both animal and vegetable.

Sushi is a fun project and it’s easy! The first thing you need is the proper wrapping:

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One package will make a LOT of sushi. The sheets are beautiful, with the fresh smell of the sea:

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The second thing you need is rice, and it needs to be sushi rice. If you’re a country dweller like I am you can often find this in the bulk section of food co-ops, or in the Asian aisle of your grocery.

California Rolls, Makes three rolls – about 24 pieces of sushi

  • 3/4 lb. cooked king crab legs, cleaned
  • Half of one avocado
  • Half of one cucumber
  • 1-1/2 c. sushi rice
  • 3 T. rice vinegar
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • Soy sauce
  • Wasabi
  • Pickled ginger

Wash the rice gently in a strainer until the water runs clear. Then combine it in a pan with 2 c. water and leave it to soak for 30 minutes. (You can also use a rice cooker for this part.)

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Turn on the heat and bring the rice to a gentle boil. Cover the pan and cook for about 12 minutes. The rice should be just tender and the water will be absorbed. Spread the rice out in a bowl.

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Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Microwave it for about 30 seconds and stir to dissolve the sugar.

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Pour the vinegar over the rice and mix it through gently with your fingers. Set it aside.

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Clean your vegetables. Cut the avocado into thin strips and the cucumber into thin matchsticks. I did some zucchini too, because when it’s your sushi you make the rules!

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A bamboo rolling mat is nice. You don’t have to spring for a “real” one. You can use a bamboo placemat, part of a windowshade, whatever as long as it’s impeccably clean. Or, you could use a dry piece of parchment paper.

Lay out one sheet of the seaweed.

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Spoon out one-third of the rice and pat it into a thinnish layer. Put some of the crab int the center. Make sure you’ve pulled out all the pesky bits of cartilage.

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Lay the vegetables next to the crab.

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Pick up the edge of the mat and fold out the outside (long) edge over the filling. Tuck the ends under with your fingers then roll the mat up. Press down lightly as you go to seal the edges.

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When you roll the mat back you will have a lovely California roll.

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I made these in the afternoon, about two hours before dinner, so I wrapped them in waxed paper and put them in the fridge. I like my sushi really cold.

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When you’re ready to serve unwrap the rolls and cut them into eight slices. I cut them in half first, and then cut each half in half until I have eight even pieces.

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Arrange them on a plate so everyone can admire your handiwork.

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Serve the sushi with the pickled ginger on the side and little cups so people can mix the soy sauce and wasabi to their liking.

Have a great Valentine’s weekend everyone – thank you for following this blog!
Two years ago: Gougeres
One year ago: Chard Quiche

saltedcaramelpots14_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Salted caramel is one of my favorite flavor combinations and sadly most of the time I’m disappointed because it’s hard to transfer to desserts while keeping the strength. So, 2015 is shaping up to be my quest for the ultimate salted caramel dessert recipe.

This pots de creme is a lovely gentle variation on the theme. I had hopes, because it originated from Curtis Stone, but to me the flavor turned out to be more butterscotch than caramel. It’s still really good though, and it would make a gorgeous make-ahead Valentine’s Day dessert (get out those heart-shaped ramekins!) – especially served with a thin ginger cookie or bit of chopped candied ginger on top.

Salted Butterscotch Pots de Creme, Makes four servings

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 c. whole milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • Flake sea salt for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325. Find a baking dish large enough to fit four ramekins, add about 1/2″ of water and put it in the oven to heat the water.

Combine the butter, salt and brown sugar in a saucepan. Stir over medium for about seven minutes, until it darkens slightly and starts to smell like caramel.

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Stir in the heavy cream all at once. The sugar will seize (turn into lumps), so keep the heat on medium low and keep stirring. Eventually the lumps will melt back into the cream.

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Stir the egg yolks into the milk, then add about half of the caramel.

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Stir it well and whisk it back into the pan.

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Divide it among four ramekins. Pull your baking dish of hot water out of the oven and put the ramekins in. Add more water if you need to, but bring it about halfway up the sides of the dishes.

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Add a little foil tent over the pan, leaving one small opening to vent. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the centers are still a bit jiggly but the edges are set.

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Chill thoroughly. When they’re cool cover them with plastic wrap if you’re making them more than a few hours ahead. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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To serve add a little sprinkle of sea salt to the center of each dish.

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As the dishes cool the creme will set up into a velvety custard.

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Two years ago: Coconut Cream Pie
One year ago: Easy Almond Coffeecake

creamytomatosauce10_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

There are lots of creamy tomato pasta sauces on menus out there, but it’s super-easy to make your own, requiring little more than a can of well-balanced tomatoes. I’m using San Marzano tomatoes here, but if you are loyal to another brand or type that’s between you and your saucepan. There’s also room for changing up the meat, adding other veggies, cheeses – it’s all good.

Creamy Tomato Sauce, Makes about four generous servings

  • One 28-oz. can plum tomatoes
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 2 T. finely chopped onion
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. butter
  • 8 oz. uncooked fettuccine (fresh or dried)
  • Olive oil

Add-ins:

I included two fresh spinach and feta chicken sausages, diced and 2 cups of fresh Italian baby greens.

To make the sauce:

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion.

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Stir until fragrant. Add the can of tomatoes. Fill the can half up with water and add that to the pan too.

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Simmer on medium, give it a stir every now and then, and break the tomatoes up with a spoon as you go. Let it bubble away until it’s reduced by half.

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Turn the heat down to low and stir in the cream.

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Simmer for another 10 minutes and adjust the seasoning to taste.

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At this point you can refrigerate the sauce if you’re making it ahead. To proceed, cook your pasta according to package directions.

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Drain and toss it with the butter and cheese.

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Heat up another tablespoon of olive oil and brown the sausage if you’re using it, then add the greens to wilt alongside.

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Add the tomato sauce back to the pan.

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Heat through and pour the sauce over the pasta. The cheese will melt and mix with the sauce. Serve with lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

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Two years ago: Cake Cookies
One year ago: Grandma’s Chocolate Cookies

cassoulet1_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

These are desperate times people. The snow has reached depths on my person that should obligate it to buy me dinner. The term “polar vortex” is now bandied about in everyday conversation in place of “partly sunny” or even, “partly cloudy”. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and desperate measures call for one thing – cassoulet.

I fell in love with cassoulet in a little restaurant in Saugatuck and all the versions I’ve had since (my own or others) pale in comparison – but I finally came oh-so-close with this one. It is the best savory thing I’ve cooked all year. It’s rich, complex and it will warm you from the inside out. It takes an effort, I’m not going to sugarcoat that part, but if you make the journey at the end you’ll be able to lean back and say “yes – this, this is one of the things that make life worth living” – polar vortex be damned.

I’ve named it after Leelanau because I’ve adapted the traditional ingredients and methods to suit my readily available sources. There are quite a few steps but you can do most of them while you’re doing other things, and a lot of the time is just simmering. If you have time it’s easier and more economical to buy a whole duck.

Cassoulet, Leelanau Style Makes 8-10 servings

1 lb. dried cannellini or flageolet beans
4 c. chicken or duck broth
Three carrots, diced
One medium onion, chopped
2 t. minced garlic
One head garlic
2 T. tomato paste
½ c. red wine
1 T. herbs de provence
Two smoked garlic kielbasa or fresh French garlic sausage, diced
Three diced pork loin chops
½ lb. salt pork or smoked bacon (I used both. . .)
Two duck legs/thighs
2 c. bread crumbs

Day One:
Remove the legs and thighs from the duck, season heavily with salt and pepper. Cover them and put them in the refrigerator. You can roast the rest of the duck for your dinner. Reserve all the fat and make duck broth from the remaining carcass. Soak the dried beans in water overnight.

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These are flageolet beans I bought from my friend Karen at Suttons Bay Trading.

Day Two:
Put the duck legs/thighs in a loaf pan and preheat the oven to 300. Melt the duck fat and pour it over the duck legs/thighs, adding olive oil if necessary so they are completely submerged. Put the head of garlic on top and drizzle it with olive oil. Bake for two hours. Spoon 2 T. of the duck fat into a frying pan and then slide the pan into the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

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Brown the kielbasa and the pork cubes in the pan with the duck fat. Set it aside.

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Dice the salt pork. In a large stockpot or other saucepot, fry the salt pork until it is crisp. Without washing the pan, brown the onions. Add the minced garlic, then the carrots.

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Stir in the tomato paste, wine and then the stock. Drain the soaked beans and add them to the pot. Add the entire head of roasted garlic. Simmer for one hour or until the beans are just tender.

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Add the herbs and the browned kielbasa/diced pork chops. Simmer for 30 minutes. Cool and let sit in the refrigerator overnight or up to two days.

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Full disclosure – I quick-cooled mine (i.e., I put it outside in the snowbank with the cover on) and only let it rest for three hours, it was still good.

Final Preparation:
Remove the head of roasted garlic from the pan and extract the cloves. Smash them with a spoon and stir the paste into the ragout. Preheat the oven to 400. Remove the meat from the duck legs/thighs. Lightly grease a large baking dish. If you have a lovely large Le Creuset now is the time to use it. I sadly do not so I just used a 10″ baking pan.

Spoon half of the cassoulet into the baking dish. Put the duck meat on top and cover with the remaining cassoulet.

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Bake for an hour, turning the heat down to 300 after the first 30 minutes. Stir any crust that has formed on the top down into the dish. Repeat.

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Cover the top with the bread crumbs and bake until the crumbs are golden brown.

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Serve. Refrigerate any leftovers. This would be a great apres-ski meal, or but I wouldn’t blame you for just hoarding the leftovers for yourself.

One year ago: Cinnamon Chocolate Bread Pudding

cheesefondue7__little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I decided to post this fondue now because it is so nice with all of the beautiful crisp apples coming into the markets. While I’ve used an extra sharp cheddar here, the method is the same for any melting cheese. Just adjust the seasonings to your taste. You don’t need a fondue pot either, you can keep it warm in a crock pot or just wrap your saucepan in towels if need be.

Cheese Fondue, Makes about six servings as an appetizer

8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, sliced

2 c. milk

1 T. butter

1/3 c. minced onion

1 bay leaf

Dash of red pepper flakes

1/4 c. sherry

2 T. cornstarch

Heat the butter up in a saucepan and add the minced onion. Cook until the onion is soft, about three minutes.

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Add the milk, bay leaf and red pepper.

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When the milk begins to steam, add the cheese.

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The cheese will start to melt and turn into a blobby mess, but that’s okay. Stir the cornstarch into the sherry.

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When it’s smooth, whisk it into the saucepan. Cook for another two-three minutes until thickened.

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Serve hot. The fondue will continue to thicken as it cools and as you dip.

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This is great with sliced tart apples, pears, small boiled potatoes and crusty bread.

One Year Ago: Farmhouse Cornbread

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by Heather Harris Brady

This is a really simple recipe but it’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy the last of the summer tomatoes. Since there are so few ingredients it’s important that you use quality here. You can mix up the crust before you leave for work and let it rise in the fridge all day if that’s better for your schedule. (You could even mix the night before but you’d have to punch it down in the morning.)

Heirloom Tomato Pizza, Makes one 12″ pizza

One pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, washed and halved

8 oz. goat cheese, feta, fresh ricotta or queso blanco

2 T. minced garlic

Olive oil

One pizza crust (made with high gluten flour)

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The green zebras and chocolate cherry tomatoes are from my garden, the tiny red ones and yellow ones I picked up from the farm stand. I just love all the colors!

Preheat the oven to 425 and grease a pan with olive oil. Press your pizza dough out into the pan.  Drizzle the crust with olive oil and layer on the tomatoes. Then sprinkle them all with the garlic and finally with the crumbled cheese. Add some fresh ground pepper and basil if you like.

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Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust begins to brown.

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It fantastic right out of the oven but it’s not too shabby at room temperature either. You could also cut it into tiny squares for pretty appetizers.

One year ago: Sun Tea

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by Heather Harris Brady

These cakes are somewhere between a cake and a fudge, barely set, deep dark and delicious. You can throw them together in five minutes while the ribs are on the grill and have them warm for dessert. They are gluten free as well!

Fallen Chocolate Cakes, Two Generous Servings or Four One-Cup Ramekins

4 T. butter

1/2 c. sugar

2 T. dark cocoa or 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate

1 egg

1 t. vanilla

1/2 c. almond flour

1/2 t. baking powder

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Melt the butter and combine it with the sugar and cocoa. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

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Stir in the almond flour.

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Preheat the oven to 375 and divide the batter between greased ramekins.

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Bake for 15 minutes. The cakes will rise to the top and fall as they cool.

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Serve warm with fresh cold fruit. The cake is too rich for vanilla ice cream, but the cold fruit balances it out. I used strawberries but raspberries would be equally delicious.

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champagne_sabayon_little_house_dunes

by Heather Harris-Brady

A midweek Valentine’s Day is always kind of a bummer. If Aphrodite spent all day in the middle management ring of Hades even she would be looking for some shortcuts. Luckily, I have one for you: champagne sabayon.

Just have your honey bring home dinner. You can still have an elegant – dare I say, sexy – dessert ready in under 10 minutes. It’s light and pretty, a great way to end a dinner and begin an evening.

Champagne Sabayon, Makes four generous servings

1/3 c. champagne (or other light white wine)
1/4 c. sugar
4 egg yolks
1 pint whipping cream
1 t. vanilla
2 T. sugar

Combine the wine, sugar and egg yolks in a saucepan over medium heat.

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Whisk briskly until the mixture thickens, about three minutes.

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Remove from heat and set aside.

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Some people stop here and serve it as is, but it’s a holiday so we’re going all out.

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the vanilla and sugar, continue whipping to stiff peaks.

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Fold in the custard.

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Spoon dollops over fresh berries and/or cubes of cake (pound cake, angel food, etc.), or use it as a dip for berries.

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You could even use this to elevate bread pudding into another realm.

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Chocolate Cupcakes

After writing past my bedtime last night I discovered, to my horror, that I was on the verge of completely missing out on National Cupcake Day (October 18). Steps had to be taken. I turned to my faithful fallback below. I have thrown these together as a perk after a long day, a quick little snack after the babies had been tucked in, and they have also stepped into the chasm to serve as my emergency chocolate when needed.

Three-Minute Cupcakes (Serves two or three, depending on your baking vessel)

3 T. butter

1 egg

1/2 c. sugar

1 t. vanilla

1/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

2 T. cocoa

1 t. baking powder

Melt the butter in a large microwavable measuring cup or bowl. Add the egg, vanilla and sugar. Stir.

Add the dry ingredients. Stir.

Grease either two coffee cups or three ramekins.

Divide the batter between the dishes.

Microwave for 30 seconds to one minute, depending on if you want a gooey center or one more cooked through.

Serve with berries if you want to be all healthy about it or mix up a quick batch of chocolate ganache for the top.

Quick Chocolate Ganache

2 T. chocolate chips

1 T. full-fat coconut milk

Mix in a microwavable measuring cup or bowl.

Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth and pour over the cupcakes.

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My Favorite Movies/Shows – Food Related

  • Chef's Table (!)
  • Chocolat
  • Chef
  • Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Hundred Foot Journey
  • Ratatouille
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  • Master Chef (NPR)
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