Simple Almond Pistachio Cake

From Food 52, a super light, chewy cake that has a wonderful flavor from the cardamom. I used my regular extra virgin olive oil instead of my extra light and I think it is fine. This cake is delicious with a cup of tea or coffee any time of day!

Makes one 9″ cake
50 grams (1/2 cup) shelled pistachios
50 grams (1/2 cup) almond flour
100 grams (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 eggs
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
120 milliliters (1/2 cup) good-quality olive oil
113 grams (1/2 cup, 1 stick) lightly salted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ cake pan (or spring form pan) with parchment paper, lightly grease the pan, and dust it with sugar, tapping out the excess sugar. In a food processor, pulse together the pistachios until they’re fairly finely ground, but make sure not to pulse too much or they’ll become a paste. Add the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and cardamom to the ground pistachios and pulse until everything is combined. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until very thick and light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the egg/sugar mixture, beating as you go. Once combined, keep the mixer running on low and drizzle in the melted butter (if you don’t have salted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt with the butter). Beat until the mixture comes together, but don’t overmix as you want to keep as much air in the batter as possible. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet, taking care not to deflate the batter as much as possible. Once combined, pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 45-55 minutes, or until the sides of the cake turn golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Let the cake cool completely in the pan before turning it out onto a rack to slice.

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Fusilli alla Vodka

From Jon and Vinny’s in LA, via Bon Appetit! I love that this recipe is based on tomato paste rather than a lot of canned tomatoes. The sauce is like velvet. This recipe is very simple and easy to make. Note-1 t. of red pepper flake may be to spicy so use according to your spice tolerance. I think this would be good with Italian sausage, The fusilli is the perfect pasta for this dish!

¼ cup olive oil
½ shallot, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
½ cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons vodka
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 pound fusilli
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until paste is brick red and starts to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add vodka and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add cream and red pepper flakes and stir until well blended. Season with salt and pepper; remove from heat.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Add pasta to skillet with sauce along with butter and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed, until butter has melted and a thick, glossy sauce has formed, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add 1 oz. Parmesan, tossing to coat. Divide pasta among bowls, then top with basil and more Parmesan.
Do Ahead: Vodka sauce can be made 5 days ahead; cover and chill.

Mongolian Pork Chops

From the wonderful Mustards Grill in Napa and their fabulous cookbook, Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook. My girlfriend Laurie Smith photographed this beautiful cookbook and it is full of great recipes. I found the perfect center cut bone in pork chops at Trader Joes. I used a half recipe for our two pork chops. I have never cooked a better pork chop-it was perfection! I served this with braised red cabbage, mashed potatoes and a wonderful mustard sauce, all from the same cookbook!

6 (10-ounce) center-cut double pork chops
Mongolian Marinade
1 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
11/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce 11/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar 11/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 scallion, white and two-thirds of the green parts, minced 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
11/2 teaspoons Lee Kum Kee black bean chile sauce 11/2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
11/2 tablespoons minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, minced 1 tablespoon sesame oil
Trim the excess meat and fat away from the ends of the chop bones, leaving them exposed. Put the pork chops in a clean plastic bag and lightly sprinkle with water to prevent the meat from tearing when pounded. Using the smooth side of a meat mallet, pound the meat down to an even 1-inch thickness, being careful not to hit the bones. Alternatively, have your butcher cut thinner chops and serve 2 per serving. To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Coat the pork chops liberally with the marinade and marinate for 3 hours and up to overnight in the refrigerator.
Place the chops on the grill and grill for 5 minutes on each side, rotating them a quarter turn after 2 to 3 minutes on each side to produce nice crosshatch marks. It’s good to baste with some of the marinade as the meat cooks. As with all marinated meats, you want to go longer and slower on the grill versus shorter and hotter, because if the marinated meat is charred, it may turn bitter. The pork is ready when it registers 139° on an instant-read thermometer.