Rhubarb-Lime Cardamom with Streusel Muffins

 

Muffins are simply cake for breakfast.  My senior year of high school, Samantha would pick me up and depending on time, we would drive to a spot in town called Mostly Muffins, because they mostly had muffins there.  I rarely got one, but I salivated over the one with cream cheese frosting.  Like I said, they're just cupcakes for breakfast, and since the name is muffin--I feel like I can eat them guilt free.  

It was a rare morning when my mom made muffins as they were mostly of Jiffy box kind, but even those became scarce commodities.  It wasn't until I became a college student that I became acquainted with the ease of these little morsels.  Preheat oven, measure dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients into another, combine & pour batter into muffin cups.  Why on earth had I not monopolized them long before and started my own Mostly Muffins But Better business?

 

As a mama, I love to serve my girls through baking.  I had rhubarb awaiting manipulation in the fridge and was inspired long ago by Luna Cafe's Rhubarb-Lime Cardamom Muffins with Streusel; however, I wanted to change mine to use almond flour, coconut sugar & honey.  The rhubarb, lime zest & cardamom sit for 30 minutes to macerate the sugar, while preparing the batter & streusel.  What I found is that my love for rhubarb & cardamom are further married in my stomachs mind.  I also managed to cut the fat in the recipe as well, which lucky for all who eat--does not compromise taste.  

Underbelly of the muffins--look at that gorgeous rhubarb

 

Rhubarb-Lime Cardamom with Streusel Muffins (printable recipe)

As I stated above, these muffins are inspired by Luna Cafe.  I use blanched almond flour from Honeyville, raw clover honey & local WA rhubarb.  

Rhubarb Mixture:

2 TB honey

Zest 1 lime

1 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch chunks

3/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp ground cloves


Streusel:

3/4 c almond flour

1/2 c coconut sugar

1/4 tsp salt

3 Tb ghee, should be liquid form

Batter:

3 cups almond flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup + 2 Tb coconut sugar

3 eggs

6 Tb ghee, should be in liquid form but not hot

1/3 cup whole fat yogurt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  

In a medium bowl, combine the rhubarb, lime zest, coconut sugar, ground cardamom, cloves & honey.  Mix to thoroughly coat and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, work on the streusel by combining the almond flour, salt, coconut sugar & 3 Tb ghee.  Combine together and it should resemble sand.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, work on the dry ingredients for the batter.  Combine the almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & whisk thoroughly to even out any lumps from the almond flour.  Add the coconut sugar and mix throughout again.  

In a small bowl, work on wet ingredients for the batter.  Combine the eggs with the 6 Tb ghee and mix.  Add the yogurt and mix together.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients of the batter and mix gently to combine by using a spatula.  Add the rhubarb mixture at this point and combine till disbursed evenly.  

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with 18 muffin papers (I doubled my papers equaling two per muffin).  Scoop the batter into the muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Smooth them down, in order to put the streusel topping on.

Using your hands, place about 1-2 Tb of streusel on each muffin batter.  You will want to clump it together a bit in your hands; rather, than having a smooth layer on top.

Bake for 23-25 minutes.  I baked one sheet and then put the next one in and rotated them 180 degrees halfway through baking.  Remove from oven.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove muffins to cooling rack. Consume!

 

Cashew Cardamom Brioche with Orange French Toast: Mother's Day

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It's the glory of second trimester, while Spring is bountiful with early sunshine & late sunrises whispering of Summer on the move.  While the majority of the nation has seen weeks upon weeks of high temps, it is our little Pacific Northwest corner still bundled, crossing fingers that the sun will stay out long enough for temps reaching the 60s (yes, that's considered warm).  This week we have been blessed with just that, and eating lunch on the front porch is a must as I don my burgeoning belly in summer dresses found consignment.  I'm eating these moments up.  

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V comes up & rubbing my belly asking, "Are you ready to come out baby?"  Both girls searching out names they like for the baby, things like 'Pinkalicious, Rosa, Laura, & Molly,' which is an improvement from Princess Snooglebeak.  My heart just two weeks ago was reminded how this baby is different from my other babies.  The baby we lost in September would be greeting us this month.  I didn't realize till that moment, that it is possible to mourn a loss while greeting a joy at the same time.  

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It was in these words by JJ Heller's song, I Get to be the One: 

How does someone so small

Hold my heart so tightly

I don't even know you

I love you completely...I get to be the one to hold your hand

The secret part of my heart not able to convey what it is inside, which is making it hard to attach to this little one in me...is coming to light.  In part, it's the flood of reality that there was a home for the baby we don't get to greet, while a lot of my friends welcome their May babies.  I'm allowed to mourn that even amidst the gift. So God speaks as if he's sharing coffee with me, "that I get to be the one making a home for this baby in my belly."  That I get to be the one, so incredibly broken & incomplete, he chose to be the mama to this third child we welcome in our home.  

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Who am I that I would be given this gift when I know of story upon story of the closed womb, the bleeding womb, and the never touched womb.  I don't know.  I do know that it's Mother's Day on Sunday, where I am blessed with my little gifts of life.  I also know that it's Mother's Day, which is yet another reminder to some of those hidden hurts.  My friend Denise puts is so eloquently when writing on the hurt of Mother's Day.  

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Can I invite you to open up your heart & your table to one of those who is hurting?  Can you write a note to the woman who has never been able to conceive?  Can you bring flowers & hug to the woman who has no mother?  Can you invite the single woman who longs to be a mother over for a meal?  

I offer you a wonderful grain-free french toast to make for the mother, motherless, or mother at heart woman in your life.  This Cashew Cardamom Brioche French Toast with Orange reminds me of the sweet & slightly bitter life we endure.  Sweet from the cashews & orange, while cardamom bitterly lingers just a bit to be swept away by the rich, creaminess of butter & treacly maple syrup.  

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A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.

~Victor Hugo

Cashew Cardamom Brioche with Orange French Toast (printable recipe)

The cashew brioche is just slighty changed from Coco at Roost, where she creates mouthwatering lovelies.  The addition of orange & cardamom are dear to my heart and nostalgic for a little cafe overlooking La Jolla beach in San Diego.  

Cashew Cardamom Brioche Ingredients:

3 cups cashews

4 eggs, separated

16 cardamom pods, seeds removed & ground

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup whole milk yogurt with live cultures

1/2 Tb raw apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup unpasterized apple juice

Directions:

Add your cashews to a blender.  Blend them until they resemble a fine flour.  I use the medium setting, in order to avoid making cashew butter.  I also utilize the pulse setting toward the end.  Empty the cashew flour into a bowl & set aside.  Add the baking soda, cardamom, & salt to the cashew flour, mix.

Next, add the egg yolks, raw apple cider vinegar, yogurt, & apple juice to the blender.  Puree the mixture until blended well, about 20 seconds.  Place the dry ingredients back into the blender (cashew flour, baking soda, salt, & cardamom).  Puree the mixture till the dry ingredients are nice and wet & combined, about 30 seconds.

In a clean, deep bowl, add the egg whites (room temperature).  Whisk & whisk until you beat them into submission, which means wet stiff peaks form.  Pour the cashew batter into a medium or large bowl.  Take your beaten egg whites and pour them a top your cashew batter and fold them in gently.  Don't overmix or overfold, as you want the air from the egg whites to lend to the airness in the final baked brioche.

Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch pan, or a parchment lined pan.  Bake for 60 to 70 minutes in a 315 degree oven.  

French Toast Ingredients:

one loaf of cashew cardamom brioche

3 eggs

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

zest from one orange

Juice from one orange

2 tsp vanilla

unsalted butter

maple syrup or honey for drizzling

Directions:

Slice your brioche in 1/2 inch slices.  You should get about 9-10 slices out of the loaf.  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add your fat of choice (butter, ghee, coconut oil are great choices).  

In a bowl, combine heavy whipping cream, orange zest, orange juice, eggs, & vanilla.  Whisk together till combined.  Once your skillet is nice & hot, add your slices of brioche to the eggy custard, coating both sides really well.  Add the coated brioche slices to your skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on how well you like your french toast cooked through.  I love the crispy edges.  Before adding new slices, add more fat to grease pan and continue cooking.

Serve hot with butter & maple syrup or honey.  Enjoy!

Cardamom Carrot & Caramelized Onion Soup

  

 

When it comes to feeding my family and others, one thing I have come to value is cooking with the season.  I don't adhere to this ideal so staunchly that we are eating nothing but kale & stewed tomatoes in the winter; however, I really find that restraining from buying produce as much as possible out of season is a form of discipline.  It is teaching my soul to fast from the idea (& quite literally) that I can have whatever food I want, whenever I want without thought of how it got there.  Once the first crop of asparagus pops up, or sweet little strawberries, my soul & belly sing and I'm so glad I waited. 

Because it's feasting time!

This rugged meets royalty soup is fit for such a time as Easter. In my mind, the most ultimate of celebrations.  Let me introduce you to one of my most beloved soup creations.  Her first name is Carrot Cardamom.  Her middle name is Caramelized Onion.  And her last name is simply "Soup."  There is something about feeling like you're partaking in something so simple by the looks of a puree soup and then spoon after spoon you discover a mystery of elegance.

The sweetness of caramelized onions & savory pepper essence in the Cardamom.  A hint of cream brings it all together.  You sit to take it all in and think, "Surely, this is a moment to savor," as you look around the table to see your loved ones.  Your belly & soul are filled to the brim.  Your cup overflows!

How do you embrace the moments of ordinary eating, in order to enjoy the feasts of celebration?

 

 

 

Carrot Cardamom & Caramelized Onion Soup (printable recipe)

If you are avoiding dairy, simply subtract the heavy whipping cream (HWC).  You could try using full fat coconut milk in place of the HWC, too.  If you want to make this vegetarian or vegan, then use vegetable broth; however, I would recommend adding the HWC or coconut milk to add a bit more depth. You could also caramelize the onions the day before (or a couple) and put them in the fridge till it's soup time.

Ingredients:

1 lb carrots, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch chunks

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

4 Tb olive oil

1 tsp whole cardamom, crushed with a mortar & pestle (it should resemble coarse cracked pepper)

8 cups homemade chicken broth, or store-bought

2 Tb-1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (HWC)

1 1/2 tsp Celtic Sea Salt or Kosher Salt, (more for later to taste)

 

Directions:

Put a large pot over low heat.  Add the olive oil and allow the pot to heat up a bit (say 1 minute).  Add your thinly sliced onions to the pot.  Stir around to coat the onions in the olive oil.  You want to ensure that the heat is on low and stir occasionally to distribute the onions in the pot to caramelize & brown a bit.  This should take about 30 minutes.  The best part is to taste to see if they're to your liking.

Remove the onions to a bowl for later use.  Increase the heat to medium heat and add the carrots, chicken broth, salt & cardamom.  You will cook this for 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender (meaning you can easily pierce through with a fork). Add the caramelized onions to the pot.

Using an immersion blender, or a regular blender (if using, do it in batches and cover the lid with a towel) and begin to puree the soup.  You want all carrots & onions to be pureed.  There will be little specks of the cardamom, which is divine.  Taste to see if you need a bit more salt.  Add the HWC and mix it around. Taste again. 

At this point, if you want a thinner soup, you can either add warmed chicken broth or even water.  If you like it as it is--great. You could refine this more by pouring the soup through a sieve to make it less rustic from the cardamon specks & pureed carrot pulp.  Serves 4-6 people.