Pistachio Olive Oil Layer Cake

I just thought this one sounded good.  It's pretty, with a speckled hint of green in the crumb.  This would also be great as a bundt cake.  If you don't like the herbal taste of olive oil substitute it with butter.  

Also, please excuse the crazy job I did frosting this one.  I really did a number on it. 

Makes 1 eight inch 3 layer cake. 

Pistachio Olive Oil Layer Cake

3 cups cake flour

1 cup pistachio flour/meal

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup olive oil

zest of one lemon or lime

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

for the frosting

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature

4 oz butter, room temperature

dash of vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted to avoid lumps

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prep three eight inch round cake pans by placing a round sheet of parchment paper in each and lightly greasing sides and paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, pistachio meal baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, beat olive oil and sugar until light.  Whisk in eggs and vanilla.   Mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients and 1/3 of the butter milk, repeat two more times, mixing until everything is just combined.  

Evenly distribute batter between prepared cake pans.  Bake until cakes are set - a toothpick inserted into the cakes center will remove clean - about 20 minutes.  

Transfer to rack to cool completely.  While cake is cooling, prepare frosting.  Beat softener butter and cream cheese together until smooth, add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Beat until smooth, lump free and ribbony.  

When cakes are cool, they may be frosted and layered.  Trim tops of cakes flat, if domed, for even layering.  Place first cake, cut side down on plate or cardboard cake round.  Frost top only, not sides for a naked cake look.  A piping bag with a large tip maybe used to neatly apply frosting around the perimeter.  Place next layer, cut side down on top of frosted layer.  Frost, repeat with remaining layer.  Dust with additional pistachio meal if you like.  

Watermelon Salad!

What are your favorite things about summer?  For me it's going to the beach, being in the sun, fruit picking and the glorious bounty that is the green market.  I always look for watermelon.  It's such a summery fruit.  

Watermelon salad's seem to be everywhere on restaurant menus and it's no surprise to me.  They're crunchy, simple and refreshing.  Hydrating too, right?  (ha!)  I can eat a crazy amount of watermelon.  

Use whatever herbs you like.  I suggest mint, chervil, parsley, chives and thyme.  

serves 2.

Watermelon Salad + Lemon Vinaigrette

for the vinaigrette

1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon dijon mustard

s + p

for the salad

1 head bibb lettuce leaves, washed, dried, chopped

about 2 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs

2 cups chopped seedless watermelon

2 oz fresh goat cheese, chopped

2 teaspoons pumpkin seeds

2 teaspoons shelled pistachios

In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil and dijon together until emulsified.  Season with salt and pepper until well balanced, adding more lemon juice if necessary. 

Toss lettuce and herbs with vinaigrette.  Pile dressed leaves onto 2 plates.  Top each with watermelon, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds and pistachios.  Serve immediately.   



Pistachio Cinnamon Buns + Passionfruit Icing


I call these sweet little things 'buns' for short.  It can be difficult to find a good bun when you want one and these are sure to please.  Perfectly delightful on their own but, at least for me, icing is a must.  (For anyone not interested in the passion fruit: milk or even other fruit juices could be substituted.  I think raspberry would be great. 

Passion fruits are ripe when skin is wrinkled and can be found in the produce with tropical produce, usually hanging out with the tamarind pods, lychees and star fruits. 

Makes about 16 buns. 

Cinnamon Buns with Passion Fruit Icing

for dough

1 packet dry active yeast

2 tablespoons hot water

3 1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

1/4 cup coconut oil, warm

1 cup milk, warm

for filling

1/2 cup roasted pecans

1/2 cup roasted salted pistachios

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup maple syrup

4 tablespoons butter

for icing

2 cups confectioners sugar

3 tablespoons passion fruit juice (2 or 3 passion fruits) 

2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a small bowl combine yeast and warm water,  Let sit 5 minutes.  If yeast is working there should be foam and/or bubble marks.  (If not, toss it and try again with new yeast and water. It's almost always going to be good tho.)   

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon nutmeg and salt.  Add yeast mixture and eggs then warm coconut oil and warm milk. (I nuked each in the microwave for 1 minute.  This helps the coconut oil from solidifying.)  Combine well and transfer to oiled bowl.  Dough will be sticky.  Turn in bowl to coat in oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for at least 2 hours in a warm place.  It will have doubled in size.   

When dough is resting, mix up the filling.  In a food processor mix pecans, pistachios, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, maple syrup and butter until combined and nuts resemble large crumbs.  About 45 seconds.   

Roll dough out on a floured surface into a rectangle about 13" x 17" with the long side parallel to you.  Spoon filling onto dough and smooth around until covered.    Roll dough towards you until you have a 17" long log of dough.  With a sharp knife, slice sections of about a 2 finger thickness, transfering to an oiled 13" X 17" baking pan (with a lip) and arrange so buns are almost touching.  

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.   

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Uncover buns and bake for 15 minutes.  Rotate baking pan and bake 10 minutes more or until golden brown. 

Remove from oven and cool.   

To make the icing:  Place a mesh strainer oven a bowl.  Cut passion fruits in half and squeeze out juices and seeds into strainer.  Mash the seeds around and press with back of a spoon to extract all juices.  Discard seeds and skin.  Whisk together sugar, passion fruit juice and lemon juice.  Smear onto buns and serve.