pink's creamery

Now that the weather is finally warming up, and perhaps because I’m eight months pregnant, I could happily eat ice cream every day. The cold and creamy goodness just always hits the spot! So many amazing places come to mind, but one that really stands out is Pink’s Creamery on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. My husband and I visited on a recent trip- our babymoon, actually!- and were blown away by the quality and taste. Pink’s has been slow-churned on Maui since 1932, and serves local-inspired flavors like my husband’s fave, the Kona Mud Pie (Kona coffee ice cream with Oreo cookies and fudge), and Haupia (a classic coconut custard). I was all about the Banana Mac-Nut Brittle- a delicious banana ice cream with roasted macadamia nuts & crunchy bits of brittle! Holy yum! Just thinking about it has my cravings going wild. Guess we’ll have to plan another Hawaiian getaway soon!


wishing well shave ice

Ok shave ice, where have you been all my life?! I shouldn’t necessarily say all my life. There was this amazing ‘lil shave ice stand in the Texas Hill Country that my family would frequent during the summertime when I was a kid. But man, I forgot how good that stuff is! I’m not talking about the typical sno-cone you find at your local amusement park or state fair. Those are icy, hard, and way too syrupy. True Hawaiian shave ice is another beast entirely, and I found some of my fave at Wishing Well Shave Ice in Kauai. The ice is shaved so finely thin (go figure!), it’s like the fluffiest snow you’ve ever tasted. No hard crunches to the teeth here! Plus, the typical flavors are made from local, seasonal fruits like coconut, mango & papaya, so they aren’t too crazy sweet. Your shave ice bowl gets topped with fresh fruit for a nice, refreshing finish! Many of Wishing Well’s offerings are even organic as well- pretty awesome if you ask me! Now, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll take advantage of the optional ice cream scoop that gets put at the base of the bowl. Oh my glory, it’s the perfect, creamy complement to the fruity shave ice. But go for the macadamia nut ice cream (a local favorite!) over classic vanilla, and thank me later :) Enjoy!


bavel

baba ganoush // smoked eggplant, charred bell peppers, red walnuts, lemon chili salt, fried pita

One of my most memorable dining experiences of 2018 was at Bavel in Downtown Los Angeles. That may have been partly because it was a celebratory dinner (our wedding anniversary!) with my husband, but in all honesty the food and atmosphere stole the show. Offering a similar chic, downtown vibe to their previous hit, Bestia, chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis truly blew us away with this Middle Eastern gem. Both chefs have family roots in Israel, Morocco, Turkey, and Egypt, which is evidently clear in their dedication to creating inspired, yet traditional, flavors. I absolutely loved the mix of fresh ingredients and slow cooking techniques, as well as the variety of flatbreads and spreads, veggie-focused small plates, and larger format meat and fish dishes. Carbs with dips are always a highlight for me, and the delicately fried pita served with smoky babaganoush was divine. I’d heard from multiple people that we just HAD to order the slow roasted lamb neck shawarma, and being the dutiful diners we are, that is just what we did. Just wow. The lamb was fork tender and literally melted in your mouth, and I couldn’t stop creating the perfect bite with a bit of lamb, tahini, and pickled veggies all wrapped up in the chewy laffa. By the way, the sommelier was super helpful in guiding us toward a full bodied, yet well-balanced biodynamic wine to pair with dinner. I loved the giant jug it was decanted in too! Never one to skip dessert, even after being extremely full, we went for the roasted fig tart. The baharat spiced semolina crust was super unique and nicely complemented by the brown butter cream. What a sweet treat and perfect ending to a truly memorable meal. Both my husband and I are plotting a return trip soon!

slow roasted lamb neck shawarma // tahini, pickled vegetables, laffa


homestyle apple plum crisp

Apple crisp (or crumble, whatever you want to call it) is one of those good ‘ol classic desserts that always hits the spot. I love it come fall and winter, served warm with spicy notes of cinnamon and streusel topping. It’s super tasty alone, but even better topped with some vanilla bean gelato! Some apples, like Honeycrisp, Pink Lady & Fuji, are better for eating thanks to their crisp, sweet bite. Others, like Macintosh & Braeburn, are better for cooking, and get nicely stewed in a crisp. I like using a variety of apples for layers of flavor and texture that can’t be beat! This time I also decided to throw in some gorgeous, seasonal plums that I had on hand. Perfect combo! Don’t forget about crisps and crumbles during spring and summer- by switching up the fruit, you can enjoy a delicious bowl of goodness year-round!

Homestyle Apple Plum Crisp:

Fruit Filling:

  • 2 pounds apples (I like any combo of Macintosh, Granny Smith, Cortland, Braeburn & Fuji)

  • 1 pound plums

  • 1 lemon, zested & juiced

  • 1/3 cup cane sugar

  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

Crumble Topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats

  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

  • vanilla bean ice cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 F, and butter a large baking dish (9x13 or 2 qt oval). Peel, core & cut apples into 1/4-inch slices, and place into a large bowl. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch, and mix to combine. Pour apples into baking dish.

For the topping, add the flour, oats, pecans, cinnamon, salt, and sugars in a large bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon. Work the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until evenly distributed (you may also use a stand mixer if you prefer). Spread the streusel topping mixture evenly over the apples. Bake the crisp in the dish on a baking sheet on the center oven rack until the topping is crunchy and the apples are bubbling, about 55-60 minutes. Best served warm, topped with vanilla bean ice cream.

*Adapted from Sit & Stay Awhile Apple Crisp by Joy the Baker and Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp by Ina Garten.


tartine manufactory

San Francisco is such a great food city, but one that I really haven’t gotten the chance to explore all that much. A few months ago when I was spending a night there before heading out to wine country, I made it a top priority to make dinner reservations at Tartine Manufactory. You’ve probably heard of Tartine Bakery before, or at least drooled over their tasty looking baked goods on Instagram, but did you know they also have a chic restaurant in a bright, industrial space in the Mission District? I’d been following them for a while, and practically every dish I see is calling my name. The menu draws from local, seasonal California ingredients, and of course offers some killer pasta and bread. There’s a huge bakery in the restaurant, and I can only imagine how many fresh loaves of sourdough they’re churning out each day (check out all those proofing baskets stacked up below!). It’s worth having a glass of wine at the bar and just watching the entire process unfold. Serious bakers are practically my idols! PS- if you’re looking to get into baking yourself, I highly suggest you start out with the critically acclaimed Tartine Bread book. It’s full of foolproof classics that are sure to satisfy your cravings.

Getting back to our meal, it did not disappoint in the least. We tried a bunch of dishes (as evidenced by scrolling through the slideshow above), and while it would be easy to say the bread was the highlight of the meal, that really wouldn’t do the rest of the food justice. The lamb meatballs were delicately spiced and served with a deliciously creamy, yet earthy fava bean purée. One of my faves was the marinated artichoke with fennel and pistachio- such a unique dish, and a total flavor explosion. The slightly sweet, caramelized fennel paired perfectly with the hearty pistachio spread. Yum! Most people would agree that once you’ve tried homemade pasta it’s hard to go back, and Tartine’s pasta will really do you in. Classically simple, non-fussy, and perfectly al dente! Of course my favorite part of any meal is dessert, so I naturally (greedily?) chose the one that serves 2-4 people! Although it was not my first time devouring the PB&J ice cream pie, it was just as decadently tasty as I remembered. Seriously, the peanut caramel and peanut cookie crust take this treat to another level entirely. Don’t forget to stop by the ice cream counter on your way out for a cone to-go, and definitely take a freshly baked loaf of bread for to enjoy at home! Good news for those in Los Angeles- you don’t have to drive eight hours to enjoy all that Tartine has to offer- a Southern Cali outpost is opening soon!

 * This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, it won’t cost you a penny more, but I’ll earn a small commission. This allows me to continue to generate content for you, and helps keep the site up and running. Thanks for your support! 


classic birthday cake

Happy Birthday! A classic birthday cake is one of those recipes any good baker should have up his or her sleeve, to whip up whenever an occasion so presents itself. Over the spring and summer months, it seems like there are hundreds of birthdays being celebrated amongst my family and friends, and this cake is a tried and true winner. While this one in particular is a vanilla cake with raspberry filling and a Swiss meringue buttercream, you can customize it in various ways based on your heart's desire: make a chocolate frosting, switch up the filling, add nuts- you get the idea! I highly recommend checking out my wedding cake post for more specific details and instructions on baking, assembling, and decorating the perfect (or close enough!) layer cake! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do :)

Classic Vanilla Birthday Cake with Raspberry Compote Filling & Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

Cake:

  • 4 cups cake flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 1/2 cup cane sugar

  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 2 cups buttermilk

Buttercream:

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 4 large egg whites

  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed & softened

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 2 cups fresh raspberries

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tbsp corn starch

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2 tsp lemon juice

  • fresh raspberries, for serving

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 9" round cake pans with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray the parchment as well. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In the base of a stand mixer fit with whisk attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs, beating well and scraping down the bowl to ensure they are fully incorporated. Reduce the speed to low, then mix in buttermilk until just combined. Don't be alarmed if the mixture looks curdled at this point. Add flour mixture until just incorporated, careful not to over-mix. Pour batter evenly among cake pans, and bake until golden, about 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then completely on a cooling rack. 

To prepare raspberry compote, cook raspberries, sugar, cornstarch, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan until the berries start to break down, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer until the compote is thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge (this can be made a week ahead of time). Makes 1 cup.

While cakes are baking, make the buttercream. Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a bowl over a double boiler until sugar is fully dissolved. Transfer mixture into the stand mixer (make sure it's clean & dry!) fit with paddle attachment and whip until it turns white glossy. Add the vanilla, then the butter and continue to whip until buttercream comes together. This may take a good 10-15 minutes, so don't worry if things look curdled or soupy at the start!

Once cakes have cooled, you may level and assemble them, adding filling between the two layers. Spread buttercream evenly around the outside, creating a pattern if desired, and finish with toppings if you choose! You may also make this a 3-layer cake by baking in 6" round cake pans, just make sure you adjust baking time accordingly. Check out my wedding cake post for more assembly and cake decorating instructions. Enjoy!

*Adapted from Best Birthday Cake and Swiss Meringue Buttercream by Smitten Kitchen.