Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Chili-Kissed Klad Kakka

I recently tried a flourless chocolate-chili cake that was not a hit in my household. One said it was too greasy. One said that it tasted under-cooked. And the third, if you know my boys, you can guess which, wouldn't even deign to try it. Critics, all!

But I was craving something chocolatey and decided to adapt my Klad Kakka to have a kiss of heat in the form of cayenne. Success!


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 6 T unsweetened cocoa powder + more for serving
  • 1 C gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 C butter, melted
  • 1/2 t pure almond extract
  • dash of cayenne (a little goes a long way)
  • Also needed: parchment paper


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Whisk eggs and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the flour, cocoa powder, and almond extract. Add a dash of cayenne. Pour in the butter and stir until smooth with a spatula.

Transfer the mixture into a parchment-lined baking dish. Smooth the top and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes; the cake should just be set on top and sticky inside. Let the cake cool before slicing. Dust with more cocoa powder and more cayenne, if you like.

Cajun Gumbo with Chicken, Andouille, and Shrimp + 2018 Maricool Muscadet

In preparation for our February's #SoupSwappers event, I decided that I was finally going to get to the bottom of the difference between Cajun and Creole gumbo. Given that most of my circles were also confused about the distinctions, I don't feel badly that I was less than informed. But I am fixing that this month.

I started with a Cajun gumbo...and will highlight the differences - and share my Creole gumbo recipe - come February. For now, here's my Cajun gumbo.

In the Bowl

While confusion abounds about the difference between Cajun and Creole, I found that Cajun gumbo is characterized by a deeply hued roux without tomatoes. It's more of a savory gravy with the holy trinity of onions, peppers, and celery, seasoned with cayenne and thickened with okra and filé powder. And the proteins seemed flexible; I opted for chicken, andouille sausage, and plump shrimp.


  • 1 C oil (I used canola)
  • 1 C flour
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 3 to 4 spicy andouille sausage links, sliced into 1/2" coins
  • 1-1/2 C organic yellow onions, peeled and diced
  • 1-1/2 C bell peppers, diced (I used red and yellow which is not traditional)
  • 1-1/2 C organic celery, diced
  • 1/2 C organic carrots, diced (these are not traditional)
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 C chicken stock
  • 2 to 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 to 4 C fresh okra, sliced into 1/2" lengths
  • 1 pound cleaned, deveined shrimp
  • filé powder, plus more as needed for serving
  • Also needed: cooked rice and hot sauce for serving


In a large heavy pot (I used my Dutch oven), heat 1 T oil over medium heat until shimmering. Sear chicken until browned on both sides, approximately 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool. Once chicken has cooled enough to handle it, shred meat into bite-size pieces.

Add sliced andouille to the same pot and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate and set aside with the chicken.

Add remaining oil to the pot along with the flour. Stir to form a paste, then lower heat to medium-low and cook until the roux is a deep chestnut color. Stir frequently so it doesn't scorch. This process might take about an hour. 

In another pot, add onions, bell pepper, celery, and carrots. Cook over medium heat until softened, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, cayenne, and a hefty amount of black pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Then fold all of that into the roux.

Pour in the stock and add the bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a gentle simmer, then allow to cook uncovered for 1 hour. Stir occasionally so the bottom doesn't scorch. Add in the okra, sausage, and shredded chicken. Cook for another hour. During the last ten minutes, place the shrimp on top of the stew and press down so that they are submerged. Cover to steam the shrimp. Once the shrimp is pink and opaque, remove from heat.

Add filé powder. Season to taste with salt, if needed. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

To serve, ladle gumbo into individual serving bowls with steamed rice. Allow diners to sprinkle on more filé and top with hot sauce at the table, if they wish.

In the Glass

When I was looking for a wine to pair with my Cajun gumbo, I came across the Maricool Muscadet 2018. A white wine from the Loire Valley in France, at less than $5, if was a steal! Made with the Melon de Bourgogne grape, I was pleased that the Muscadet was not, as I had initially thought related to Moscato which I usually find sticky and sweet.

This Muscadet poured a pale straw color. On the nose, it was lightly fruity with a stronger note of lime. Though light-bodied, the wine had balanced acidity and a sensation of savory that was surprising. Its lingering acid was a nice contrast to the almost unctuous gumbo.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Spiced Sweet Potato Mini Loaves with Cream Cheese Frosting #TheCakeSliceBakers

It's a new year. And the Cake Slice Bakers have a new book from which they are cooking. For 2020, we'll be baking from The New Way to Cake: Simple Recipes with Exceptional Flavor by Benjamina Ebuehi.*

In this group, we are given a selection of three cake recipes. We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes!

Follow our FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the links below to take you to each of our cakes. If you have a blog and are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details.

The Cake Slice Bakers also have a new Facebook group called The Cake Slice Bakers and Friends. This group is perfect for those who do not have a blog but want to join in the fun and bake through this book.

Before getting my copy of the book, I had no idea who Ebuehi was. So, in case you are in that same camp, she's a London-based food stylist who was a quarter-finalist on the seventh season of The Great British Bake Off ; she writes the blog Carrot & Crumb and is active on Instagram and on Twitter. What had me really excited was the subtitle - 'simple recipes with exceptional flavor'!

While I enjoyed several cakes from last year's selection, those recipes were anything but simple. Sadly, several of those recipes were flawed to the point of me throwing them in the garbage and starting all over again. I have tried all three recipes that were picked for this month from The New Way to Cake: Simple Recipes with Exceptional Flavor. Every single one was easy to make and incredibly tasty.

You'll see the others - my Upside-Down Cara Cara Olive Oil Cake (photo above) has already posted - but the one I picked for the January post was her Spiced Sweet Potato Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting. And, yes, it was simple and delicious.

Before I get to my recipe, here's the line-up of #TheCakeSliceBakers' January offerings...

Blood Orange & Olive Upside Down Cake
Spiced Sweet Potato Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting
Sticky Ginger Cake with Caramelized White Chocolate Buttercream

    Spiced Sweet Potato Mini Loaves 
    with Cream Cheese Frosting
    very slightly adapted from Benjamina Ebuehi

    My recipe differs from hers in two main ways. First, I don't have a full-size loaf pan, so I made four mini loaves instead. Second, and I didn't realize this until after I made it, I used black caraway seeds instead of regular caraway. Then, I did also use a gluten-free flour only because I didn't have regular flour and didn't want to head back to the store. Also, I reduced the sugar slightly.

    Turns out that black caraway is actually not related to caraway; it is also called Nigella seeds - scientific name Nigella sativa - and is primarily used in Indian and Turkish dishes. Black caraway is peppery with a touch of nutty sweetness. I will definitely need to try this recipe again with regular caraway seeds. Until I get my hands on some, however, I made this cake with black caraway seeds twice already. It's delicious.

    Ingredients makes four mini loaves


    • 2-1/2 C flour (I used a gluten-free all purpose baking flour because that's all I had in the house)
    • 1 t baking soda
    • 1/2 t baking powder
    • 2 t ground cinnamon
    • 1-1/2 t ground ginger
    • 1/2 t freshly ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 t ground cloves
    • 1/2 t coarsely ground black caraway seeds
    • 1/4 t salt (I used a birch smoked salt)
    • 2 C cooked sweet potato, cubed (I used a roasted sweet potato)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 C oil (I used canola oil)
    • 2/3 C organic granulated sugar
    • 1/2 C organic dark brown sugar, lightly packed
    • 1/4 C milk
    • 1 t pure vanilla extract
    • Also needed: mini loaf pans, parchment paper


    • 2/3 C butter, softened
    • 3/4 C cream cheese
    • 1-1/4 C organic powdered sugar
    • juice from one organic lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
    • zest from one organic lemon, as garnish


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini loaf pans with parchment paper and set aside.

    Place sweet potatoes, eggs, oil, sugar, milk, vanilla, and spices in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Use a hand blender to beat into a smooth batter. Add in the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until ingredients are just moistened.

    Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes - until the loaves are well-risen and a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

    Remove loaves to a wire rack and let cool completely. In the meantime, create the frosting.

    Place all of the ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat until well combined and smooth.

    Once the loaves are completely cool, add a generous pile to the top of each loaf and smooth it evening with a butter knife. Before serving, add some lemon zest to the top.

    *This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

    Sunday, January 19, 2020

    You're Invited: Indigenous and Godforsaken French Grapes #Winophiles #GodforsakenGrapes

    Inspired by Jason Wilson's book Godforsaken Grapes: A Slightly Tipsy Journey Through the World of Strange, Obscure, and Underappreciated Wine,* for the second French Winophiles' event of 2020, I am inviting the #Winophiles crew to explore indigenous or 'godforsaken grapes' from France with me. Last year this book came across my desk and I was instantly intrigued because I love learning new things and I, especially, love tracking down oddball wines.

    You might be asking yourself: didn't I just see this event for #WinePW?? Well, yes. Just at we shined the spotlight on biodynamic wines across all three of our wine groups last year with Gwen of Wine Predator at the helm, I decided to ask the groups to look at godforsaken grapes through multiple lenses.

    Last month, the #WinePW discussed godforsaken grapes from anywhere in the world. We had wines from Macedonia, Georgia (the country, not the state), California, Austria, Turkey, Italy, and Southwest France. You can see that line-up in my post for that event, An Unlikely Match: A Thai Favorite + A Qvevri-Aged Wine from the Republic of Georgia.

    This month, the #Winophiles are looking specifically as grapes in that category from France only!

    Here's an excerpt of Wilson's book to whet your palate: "Wines made with off-the-beaten-path grapes are fascinating and eccentric, but they are also practical: They repay an adventurous drinker by providing excellent value.

    "When I think of interesting-but-affordable wines, I think of southwest France, and places like Dordogne, Garonne, and Gascony. ...the best wines here are made from négrette, tannat, mauzac, fer servadou, and petit manseng. No, I am not just making up gibberish words, I promise. Those are names of grapes that come from Fronton, Madirn, Marcillac, and Gaillac. ...Theya re actually quite ancient. Winemaking, in fact, flourished here with the Romans, long before it did in Bordeaux" (pg. 46).

    You do not need to have the book in order to participate. Just pick a French varietal that is indigenous or that you think is underappreciated. Open it, taste it, pair it, and share it with the #Winophiles for our February 2020 event on February 15th. But I will create some suggestion lists and post them in our Facebook planning group if that helps to inspire you.

    Details for participation
    Are you ready to jump in and participate in the February #Winophiles of 2020? I hope so. This is a slightly more focused look at Indigenous or Godforsaken FRENCH Grapes, versus the worldwide look from last month’s #WinePW. Here are the #Winophiles’ details…

    Send an email to tell me you're in. Include your blog url, Twitter handle, link to your Pinterest profile, and any other social media detail. If you know your blog post title now, include that...but you can send me that a bit closer to the event, I'd like to get a sense of who's participating and give some shoutouts and links as we go. The email is constantmotioncamilla[at]gmail[dot].com.

    Send your post title to me by end of day Sunday, February 9th, to be included in the preview post. I will do a preview post shortly after getting the titles, linking to your blogs' homepages. Your title doesn't need to include the hashtag #Winophiles, but all your social shares should.

    Publish your post anytime from Friday, February 14th until Saturday, February 15th at 6:00 a.m. Pacific time. You can always schedule your post in advance if you will be tied up around then.

    Include a link to the other #Winophiles participants in your post. I'll provide the html code you can easily put in your initial post--which will link to people's general blog url--then updated code for the permanent links to everyone's #Winophiles posts on Saturday morning.

    Get social! After the posts go live, please visit your fellow bloggers posts' to comment and share. And join us for the Twitter chat, if you can.

    Sponsored posts OK if clearly disclosed. Please be sure to disclose if your post is sponsored or if you are describing wine or other products for which you have received a free sample.

    Live #Winophiles Twitter Chat February 15, 8 a.m. Pacific time: Participating bloggers and others interested in the subject can connect via a live Twitter chat. It's a nice bring way to bring in others interested in the subject who didn't get a chance to share a blog post. You can definitely still join the blog event if you're not available for the live chat.

    Please let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments; or you can also email me at constantmotioncamilla[at]gmail[dot].com. Cheers!

    *This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

    Friday, January 17, 2020

    Roasted Parsnip Soup Topped with Candied Bacon and Cheese Curds #SoupSwapDay

    National Soup Swap Day is being hosted by Kate of Kate's Recipe Box. She wrote: "The third Saturday in January is National Soup Swap Day! Bring your favorite soup to the virtual soup swap!" There is no link list for this event, so please check out her Pinterest Board!

    Even though I live on the very temperate central coast of California, and the temperature is consistently between 45 and 65 degrees, I still have a soup season. Soups are easy to make; can be made ahead of time, if needed; and are simple to multiply for large groups. Some of my favorites - that are in our regular soup season rotation - include...

    Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae (Kimchi-Tofu Stew)

    Then I have soups that are less typical on our table, but tasty nonetheless. These might be highly seasonal or include specialty items I can't get regularly. Think Ling Ngau Tong (Lotus Root and Nut Soup), Salmorejo de Conejo, Chilled Watermelon and Rosé Soup, and Cucumber Gazpacho.

    And we love a good seafood soup or stew for a hearty, one-pot dinner. You can check out my versions of Zarzuela de Marisco, Brodetto Marchigiano, Suquet de Pescados (Catalan Seafood Stew), Cioppino, and Moqueca.

    But today, I decided to share a blended soup made with root vegetables. It's gussied up with some bacon crisps and salty curds. Enjoy...

    Roasted Parsnip Soup Topped with 
    Candied Bacon and Cheese Curds

    • 6 to 8 C chopped parsnips
    • olive oil
    • 2 C chopped carrots
    • 1 C chopped celery
    • 1 C chopped leeks
    • 8 C organic chicken stock
    • 1 t minced ginger
    • 1 T minced garlic
    • 1 t  minced lemongrass
    • 1/4 C fresh chopped herbs (I used a mixture of parsley, cilantro, and chives)
    • freshly ground salt
    • freshly ground pepper
    For Serving

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss parsnips in a splash of olive oil and turn out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes until the parsnips are soft and beginning to caramelize. Remove from oven and set aside.

    In a large soup pot, cook the carrots, celery, and leeks in a splash of olive oil for 5 minutes. Add in the roasted parsnips, chicken stock, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Cook till carrots are soft. Fold in the fresh herbs.

    In a batches, carefully blend until smooth. You can use an immersion blender or a regular blender; I only have the latter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Serve hot with candied bacon and cheese crumbles as a garnish.

    Kjötsúpa (Icelandic Meat Soup) #SoupSwappers

    Here we are at the very first Soup Saturday Swappers event of 2020. Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm started this event and, every month, I get a new array of soup recipes to put in my to-try pile.

    And Wendy herself is hosting this month. She wrote: "Let's stay warm this New Year with hearty, stick to your ribs, soups and stews that are a meal in themselves."


    This hearty soup was the main dish for my Jolabokaflod holiday party in December. But I held off on sharing the recipe till now. It's perfect for Wendy's theme.

    Kjötsúpa is simply and literally kjöt (meat) súpa (soup). Most of the recipes I found used lamb, but they also use salted meat and even horse meat; I opted to blend ground lamb and chunks of beef. Traditionally, there were no vegetables in the original versions of the soup. Sometimes they included grains, predominately barley, but by the late 19th century, vegetables became more common.

    I was excited to find birch-smoked salt from the Westfjords of Iceland. It's so strong and unique. But use any flake salt that you have on hand. Also, this soup is best made the night before you want to serve so that the flavors can meld. Then just reheat before serving.


    • 1-1/2 pound beef, cubed
    • 1 pound ground lamb
    • 1 T olive oil
    • 6 C water or stock (I used a combination of beef bone stock and water)
    • 2 t sea salt (Icelandic if you can get it!) + more for serving
    • ½ t freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 bay leaves (not traditional, but I love that flavor in all my soups)
    • 1 leek, trimmed and chopped
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 T herbs + more for garnish (I used parsley and thyme)
    • 1 pound potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
    • 4 to 5 stalks celery, chopped
    • 2 to 3 carrots, chopped
    • 2 C green cabbage, cubed


    Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add in the ground lamb and cook until browned. Stir in the ground beef and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Pour in the water and/or stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 hours. The meat should be tender enough to be cut with a spoon.

    Stir in the salt, pepper, bay leaves, leeks, onions, potatoes, celery, and carrots. Return the soup to a simmer and cook for an hour. Fold in the cabbage and the herbs. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

    If serving immediately, serve hot. However, it is much better if you let the soup sit overnight for flavors to meld properly. Reheat and serve with the garnishes - more herbs and smoked flake salt.

    Aimee's Vanilla Pear TeaTinis

    I have always loved a good tea party. Even better? When my friend made a fun adult libation for her tea party several years ago. These were divine. And she was gracious enough to share the recipe with me. 

    At the time, Aimee used the Lavender Citrus infusers from Tea Forte, but I couldn't find those anywhere now; so, I just used two teaspoons organic lavender and zest from one organic lemon. 

    Ingredients makes two cocktails
    • 8 ounces of vodka, room temperature
    • 2 t organic culinary grade lavender blossoms
    • peel from one organic lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
    • 1 t pure vanilla extract + 4 drops to finish
    • 1 whole vanilla bean, scraped
    • 2 thin pear slices for garnish
    • Also needed: ice, cocktail shaker, dropper for extract

    Pour your vodka into a mason jar. Add in the lavender, lemon peel, 1 t vanilla extract, and vanilla bean. Let stand for at least thirty minutes. Strain the vodka into a cocktail shaker.

    Add ice cubes to the shaker and shake for at least 1 minute.

    Strain your libation into chilled martini glasses. Top each glass with 2 more drops of vanilla extract. Garnish with thin pear slice.


    Deciphering French Wine Labels #Winophiles

    This month, our first of 2020, Jeff of Food Wine Click! asked the French Winophiles to write pieces that would fall into the categories of French Wine 101 or Introducing a Friend to French Wine. You can read his invitation here.

    If you're reading this early enough, feel free to jump online for our live Twitter chat. We start at 8am, Saturday, January 18th. Follow the hashtag #Winophiles and be sure to include that if you chime in so we can see your tweet. In the meantime, check out the articles from the group. These will go live from Friday, January 17th through Saturday morning before the chat.

    Deciphering French Wine Labels

    I'll be honest: one of the biggest things holding me back from buying more French wine - at least in the beginning - was my confusion at the labels. Since I've learned more about the terms, it's much less daunting. So, I figured that I would give you a quick rundown on French wine labels for this first event of 2020. First, you might see: Vin. That one is easy; it just means 'wine.' Second, Produit de France is also an easy one; it is a literal translation of 'product of France.'

    Now I'll jump into definitions for the majority of terms you are going to find when you read French wine labels. These will help you understand the 'when' (year), 'where' (AOC), 'who' (Château or Domaine), and 'what' (varietal).


     Année. This means 'year' in French and refers, as with the same information on other wines, to the year in which the grapes were grown and harvested. For the bottle above - Domaine Illaria Irouleguy - you can clearly see the '2016.'


    Appellation or Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC). This is the area in which the grapes were grown. The bottle above - Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay - is from the Mâcon-Villages, an appellation for dry white wines produced in selected communes of the Mâconnais wine area of southern Burgundy.


    Château. This means 'house' or 'manor' in French and refers to the estate where the wine was produced. For the bottle above, it was produced by Château Lamothe de Haux.

    Domaine. Similar to Château, also refers to the place where the wine was made. You can see this one was from Domaine de Verquière.


    The label might give you the varietal so you know what kind of grapes were used to make the wine. You can see that the Domaine Poli Niellucciu Rosé is 100% Niellucciu grapes.

    It might give you the breakdown of the blend. So you can see the Domaine de Verquière AOP Rasteau 2015 and 2017 were both 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah.

    The label might also have a color designation, including: Blanc – White wine; Blanc Sec – Dry White wine; Brut – Dry wine; Demi Sec – Medium/half Dry; Rosé – Pink wine; Rouge – Red wine, etc. The two bottles on the left in the photograph above - a Crémant de Bourgogne and a Crémant de Loire - are both Brut Rosé, so both dry pink wines.

    More Information

    You can discern other things from the label, but the terms above, in my mind, give you enough information to know what is in the bottle. These just give you more information!

    Côte. Which you can see on the bottle above – Côte de Brouilly - means 'slopes' or 'hillsides' in French. Confusingly enough, Cote or Côte is a French word that has many meanings and variations depending on the context in which it is used. Without the accent, it simply means 'side' while with the accent, it can mean 'coast' in addition to the hillside or slope.

    Mis en Bouteille. This indicates that the wine was bottled at the estate itself, but it literally means 'placed in the bottle.' In the photograph of the Domaine Illaria Irouleguy, you can read 'mis en bouteille au domaine' which means it was 'bottled at the estate.'

    Vieilles Vignes. Just means 'Old Vines' in French and you can clearly see that on the bottle above - La  Lôyane 2016.

    You might also see Centenaire (produced from grapes grown on vines more than a century old); Millésime (vintage in which the grapes were harvested and is synonymous with 'Année' or year);

    'Cooperative' indicates that a group or syndicate of growers pooled or mixed their grapes; 'vendage' means harvest; 'vigneron' is the owner or grape grower; 'vignoble' is the vineyard; and then there are all of the terms surrounding the crus. More on that later.

    I hope that this brief rundown of terms has bolstered your confidence in how to read a French wine label. It's not that tough when you get the hang of it. I hope you'll give it a go and drink some French wine soon. Cheers! Next month I will be hosting the group as we turn our focus on indigenous or godforsaken grapes of France. Stay tuned for more information on that.

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