Thursday, February 16, 2012


We're greatly ambivalent about Valentine's Day.  While I don't expect flowers and gifts, I also don't vilify it the way many do.  The fact is that Jeff and I spend about 90% of our time with one another, and we have nice meals all the time, so what else is there really to do on this extra-special day?  On Monday we decided that the best way for us to celebrate would be to go get cheeseburgers at a bar in our neighborhood, so that's what we did.  On the actual day Jeff had to work til 10, so our evening after that consisted of the spinach pizza he brought home from work (not even close to being as good as ours, but it was free), some soup that I made, and Jeff's favorite almond cake. 

The soup is extremely simple, but blended to a velvety consistency it is sooooo good.  I topped it with roasted broccoli this time, but then decided I preferred it more simply with freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

The cake is my go-to recipe for dessert, which I make on every special occasion and whenever anyone visits.  I had thought of changing it up, offering to make a red wine chocolate cake with a raspberry sauce, and I asked Jeff which he would prefer.  "It doesn't matter, whatever you'd like to make," he said on the phone, but the allure must have been overwhelming because a minute after we hung up I got a text that just said "almond."

Cauliflower Soup with Roasted Broccoli

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, white and tender green parts only
5 cups water
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
2 large heads of broccoli, stalks pared and tops cut into small florets
salt and pepper, to taste

Warm the butter and olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Clean the leeks well, slice thinly into half moons, and saute until tender.  Add the water, the potato, the cauliflower, the pared broccoli stalks, and about a tablespoon of sea salt, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer on medium low for about 30 minutes, or until everything is very soft and tender.  In the meantime, toss the broccoli florets lightly in olive oil and salt and roast at 425 degrees until tender and beginning to char.  Once the soup is ready, remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Season to taste with salt.  Garnish each bowl with some roasted broccoli, freshly ground pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Almond Cake

1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 cup ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 inch round cake pan.  Combine yogurt, sugar, and eggs, and stir until well-mixed.  Add flour, ground almonds, and baking powder, and mix until just combined.  Add almond extract and olive oil, and again mix until well combined and there are no more traces of oil.  Pour into pan and bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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