lunch munch

i am one of those people who can eat the same thing for lunch every day, for weeks at a time. that’s why i love making a big batch of something delicious on sunday or monday and then doling it out one serving at a time for the rest of the week. i truly believe i hit the jackpot with my lunch choice for this week – smitten kitchen’s spinach and chickpeas – YES.

my only modifications – i used whole wheat bread because that is what we had on hand. and instead of just cumin, i used a blend of north african spices from my friend chef wadi’s line of spices, spice trail. the dry harissa blend was just the right choice for this recipe. it added extra tang and extra heat.


the newest member of the banana house

there was previously a lovely embroidered gold vintage couch sitting in this spot – it got promoted to a sunny spot on the porch when the future hubs and i ran across this table set at a garage sale a couple weeks ago. i’m insanely excited that we have this amazing yellow formica table now – only $25! the chairs have a couple rips in them but will be a pretty easy to re-upholster. the staple gun is ready!

vietnamese coffee pudding

you know what’s better than coffee? vietnamese coffee. if you have never had it, you are truly missing out, my friend. when i saw ashley’s (from not without salt) post on coffee pudding, my brain instantly revamped it to vietnamese coffee pudding.

i know i say this with almost every thing it seems, but this pudding is an absolute wonder. the pudding has a brown sugar in it, but because of the kick and bite of the dark, strong coffee, there is still room for the silky sweetness of the condensed milk. do you know how much i love condensed milk? when i was little my mom and i used to tear off pieces of baguette and dip them into condensed milk for breakfast. condensed milk and i go way back.

VIETNAMESE COFFEE PUDDING (original recipe from not without salt)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup vietnamese coffee (you can skip adding the condensed milk here)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon or so of condensed milk per serving

mix together the cornstarch, salt and sugar in a ramekin. use a fork to combine and break up any lumpy bits of brown sugar or cornstarch. have this little bowl handy by the stove where you’ll be working on the next step.

pour coffee and cream in a small-medium sauce pan, give it a whisk and bring to a simmer over medium heat. i stood over this vigilantly because of the warning that cream boils up and over really fast, but you know what? the old saying “a watched pot never boils” still applies – so don’t worry about it too much.

when the liquid is finally at a simmer, throw in the dry stuff and give it a good hearty whisking to combine. let the mixture bubble for about a minute (i may have let it go two). remove from heat and give it another couple whisks to make sure everything is really blended together.

pour the pudding through a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl. you will probably think your pudding doesn’t need it, it looks all nice and smooth in the pan! trust me, it needs it. you can do it anyway and prove me wrong.

the original instructions say covering it in plastic means you won’t get a pudding skin. i covered my bowl and a pudding skin still formed, so i guess you can do whatever floats your boat. let it set in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

when divvying up for serving, drizzle a spoonful of condensed milk over each serving and top with a huge dollop of whipped cream. you can make your own or store bought is fine too. there was randomly cool whip in our fridge so i used that.

take a big, big first bite and let the pudding and condensed milk melt together in your mouth. i dare you not to go “mmmmmm.”

bright it, summer heat – i’m ready!

i never gave passion fruit any real thought until the mister and i went to puerto rico last year. there aren’t many things more pleasing than laying on a hot beach, all salty from swimming in the ocean, while munching on a passion fruit shaved ice. or walking around san juan on a heavy and humid january (january!) night and cooling off with a passion fruit sorbet. how about going to brunch and after the requisite (extremely good) cup of coffee, beginning your day with a (or maybe several) passion fruit mimosas? i guess you could say i got hooked. and i am totally okay with that.

not the prettiest fruit i’ve ever seen, but is it ever tasty.

some of the syrup mixture did not get mixed in all the way because i was worried about over mixing the whipped cream. oh well. it’s still an A+ summer treat in my mind. next time i won’t go so easy with the folding of ingredients!

PASSION FRUIT SEMIFREDDO (recipe from a bird in the kitchen)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup passion fruit juice *i actually used a passion fruit, orange, guava juice from bolthouse farms – HIGHLY recommended*
3 egg yolks
2 passion fruit, just the pulp
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks

heat the sugar and juice in a small sauce pan, stirring continually, until sugar dissolves. set aside and let cool to room temp.

beat the egg yolks until pale yellow and have expanded to 1.5 volume.

pour the syrup into the egg yolks in a steady stream while keeping the beater going. add in the fruit pulp. fold the mixture into the whipped cream in thirds, without deflating it too much, however, don’t think about it TOO much and make sure ALL the syrup is folded in all the way. it will look like a lovely slightly orange cloud.

pour into a mold (i used a small loaf pan) and freeze for 8 hours, or overnight. after removing from the freezer, loosen the edges with a knife or spatula and flip the whole semifreddo “loaf” onto a plate/cutting board. cut into slices and serve!

this is a seriously delightful treat. it’ll cut right through the (glorious) humidity.

my apologies…

…it’s been nuts around here. and then i got sick. and then it was still nuts. i have an amazingly cool treat post on the docket for tomorrow though. summer (or even just spring) decided to finally show it’s face around here, so i’m getting into warm weather desserts and farmer’s market foods – can’t wait to share them with you!

in the meantime, here is an amazing photo of our puppy for you to enjoy: