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oh joy of joys! food processing is no longer a dream (a lovely dream at that)! but rather, a reality: it sits so stately on my kitchen countertop, proud and so smooth.

we celebrated the lawrence family christmas this past weekend in ada, ohio. from the corners of the midwest we trickled, happily snuggling into my nanny and poppy’s cozy house.  this is the first in a number of years we’ve not congregated in chicago for a post-christmas eating, shopping, going-to-see-a-show frenzy. 

of course, we orchestrated our weekend together around our food: cookies from detroit and wausau cookie exchanges, mock-cinnabon rolls and kringle for christmas eat-in at church, and our big meal of mixed baby green salad with blue cheese and dried cherries, home-made pierogies from the miller family, blackened steak (which i heard was quick fantastic). we topped the night off with the family classic, home-made crème brûlée.

and while this was all good and fun, my excitement came somewhere between the kringle and the salad… the family collaborated and cooperated and got me my very own CUISINART! oh me, oh my!  as i opened the box and gasped, jumped, and carried on like a four-year old, i began to smell fresh garlic sauce emulsifying in the heart of this machine. then i saw pie dough pearling up perfectly.  and then i imagined that bewildered amazement at the consistent size of my chopped carrots and squash and potatoes for soup. oh, the recipes and the produce and the pastries! i was quickly overwhelmed.

yesterday, upon arriving back to my house in detroit, i decided i had to break this baby in with something  delicious and new for my roommates and myself.  but as we are all slipping out of town today and tomorrow,  my goal was to make something with out tons of leftovers.

so sit back and enjoy the creamy texture of this green herbed salsa, more like a sweet and tangy pesto, and raw brussels sprout salad.

green herbed salsa
1/4 cup almonds, toasted
1/2 small red onion
1 ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
a good sprinkle of dried basil
1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

put all these in the food processor and run until smooth! mine turned really creamy, into more of a pesto or peanut butter-esque consistency, but was delicious with carrots, tortilla chips, and crackers. the original recipe called for 1/2 cup fresh cilantro and 1/2 cup fresh basil. also, this would be even creamier with oil, but i was trying oil-free for this portion of my snack!

raw brussels sprout salad
1 1/2 pound brussels sprouts fresh off the stalk
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 scallions
1/2 small red onion
2 pinches of salt
1/4 cup toasted almonds
crumbles of goat cheese

shred the brussels sprouts very thinly (by hand, mandoline, or… food processor!).  

set the shredded sprouts aside.  place remaining ingredients (minus the goat cheese) in the food processor and process with the pulser until chunky, or alternatively chop.
toss the dressing with the brussels.  overly excited about using the slicing attachment, i processed too much brussels for the amount of dressing made.  it was a bit dry, but still delicious, and easily fixed with an extra squirt of lemon and drizzle of oil.  sprinkle with crumbles of goat cheese and enjoy!

(can you my glee, my pleasure, my thrill with this machine?)


chocolate cake extravaganza. explosion of chocolate moist beauty, manageably rich, an appropriate celebratory HOORAY to the 24th birthday of our roommate john.

this cake may not be the most beautiful to look at. or perhaps it is– the sloppiness charms the PANTS off of me. to be sure. perhaps part of the problem with its aesthetics is that i overfilled the cake pins, and they  promptly overflowed the pans in the oven (look at the turds they pooped out! they were TASTY, gave me preliminary confidence in the cake as a whole):

a gray, damp december 2nd, we gratefully and whole-heartedly celebrated the birth of the one and only john thomas lacross.  he requested chocolate cake to complete our feast, and i smiled and began researching which cake to make. now i am not a huge fan of cakes, though i say this as (perhaps) a recent cake convert… i have been trying out different cakes because so often they sound so good, but usually i am disappointed and much prefer a crisp or pie or cookies or quick bread or ICE CREAM (i am never short on ideas for sweets). i think this cake has furthered my conversion. yes indeed.

i found the recipe on one of my most favorite sites, the site that did in fact act as my muse, encouraging me to begin a blog. well her book really began the inspiration. but nonetheless. my roommate, alanna, made the icing (SUPER DECADENT), and i will get that recipe up asap, though it was improv-ed. i can include the ingredients at least.

please try this cake out. it is lip-smackin, soul-finding, sloppily gorgeous. oh so amazing. i just enjoyed a serving and a half while writing this– and it is just as delightful today.

amazing chocolate cake
3 oz fine-quality semisweet chocolate (i used bakers)
1 ½ cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder (it called for non-dutch, i used dutch and it’s still great)
2 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs
¾ cup canola oil
1 ½ cups well-shaken buttermilk
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract (i probably used more like a full teaspoon)

1. preheat oven to 300.  grease pans.  i used 2 9 1/2 inch pans, this was NOT big enough. i would use 2 10 inch pans or 3 8 inch pans, or, if you’re me, 2 9 1/2 inch pans along with about 3 or 4 cupcakes…. also, be sure to dust them with flour or cocoa, i also forgot to do this. 

2. chop chocolate finely and place in a bowl with the hot coffee– stir occasionally and let the chocolate melt.

3. combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. in another large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until thickened slightly, 3-5 minutes. gradually add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate/coffee mix into the eggs, beating continuously. 

4. add the dry ingredients slowly and mix with mixer until just combine. a POOF of cocoa an flour will grace your counter, mixer, and possibly hair (if you’re creative like me!), enjoy this!

5. divide batter between pans. if doing larger cakes, bake in middle of oven for 50 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick (or knife or whatever you choose to test with) comes out clean.

6. cool completely in pans on racks. use a knife around the edge to loosen an flip the first cake onto a plate. then sandwich a layer of icing (below) and repeat process with second cake, flip on top. 

ms. alanna’s icing
5 oz semisweet chocolate
1 stick of butter
powdered sugar

melt butter and chocolate on stovetop. add powdered sugar and milk until texture is “right”. i will try to do better and get some more details here. but i will say this: i would have never considered making icing with an entire stick of butter and 5 oz of chocolate (she said she would have used the whole container of chocolate if i hadn’t used 3 oz in the cake itself), but this icing rocked the socks off of a lot of icings i have tried in my 23 years. holy smokes.

chocolate, oh, chocolate goodness. greatness. delight.