I live one block away from the kitchen supply store, Sur La Table. This can pose some problems ... for my wallet.
I am often tempted to go in there. I can always justify buying kitchen gadgets that are totally unnecessary. I'm really good at justifying buying things that I do not need.
I really need this cute heart-shaped pot holder.
I really need another pink blazer.
I really need this dog-shaped cookie cutter.
I really need these polka dot socks.
look ... they're on sale!
I really need a bundt pan.
No, I really really need a bundtlette pan.
I ended up with a bundtlette pan on totally legit terms. Yes, a bundtlette pan. You know, because every kitchen needs a mini-bundt pan.
I had bundt cakes on my mind for about two weeks, I really needed to make some. I had also been daydreaming about olive oil cake ever since I had a giant slice at a friend's birthday party.
See ... totally justified.
I went into Sur La Table with full intentions of getting a regular ole bundt pan, but then this little guy jumped out at me.
I love miniature versions of things, don't you?
Olive oil cake might be the best type of cake on the planet. Super moist, really flavorful, and it gets there without the use of butter or milk. I wanted to come up with a gluten-free and vegan version because I figured that the olive oil really takes care of a lot of the things that the butter and eggs would do, and switching out all-purpose flour for some brown rice and almond flour might actually add to the flavor.
These little cakes are so good, you could make them for anyone. Gluten-free, vegan, anti-vegan, dessert loving, non-dessert loving, I think there is a very good chance they will all fall in love.
Blood oranges are my favorite fruit from citrus season. They are such a beautiful color, but their real treat is their taste. They are just slightly sweeter and little less tart than a regular orange. When I come across them I buy them by the dozen. Soo good.
If you cannot find blood oranges, you can substitute regular oranges or any other kind of citrus. Meyers lemons would be great too.
And, if you do not have a bundtlette pan, you do not have to go out and buy one. You can make this in a regular 9" cake pan. But of course if you want to seek one out, I give you permission - it is totally justified.
On the second leg of our trip, we spent a few days in a little mountain town called Ravello which is perched high above the Almalfi coast. Ravello is home to some of the most breathtaking views in the whole world, and one very special cooking school.
If you want to learn real, authentic, no-fuss Italian cooking, what better way to do it than in the home of an Italian woman who has been cooking professionally for decades for some incredibly famous people like Frank Sinatra and Jackie O.
Mama Agata is the beloved woman at the heart of the cooking school. Her daughter Chiara, the soul of the school, is the one who runs the day to day, assists and translates for her mother who speaks very little english. They teach out of their home, perched high on a mountainside overlooking the Mediterranean, which has been in their family for over 200 years.
Mama's recipes are simple, clean, and all about the ingredients. Her technique has been perfected in both her kitchen as well as her garden. On their property their garden stretches down the mountainside where they grow everything from capers, to lemons, and of course plenty of tomatoes. In August, the family closes down the cooking school so that they can harvest and preserve their tomatoes so they have plenty to last through the year.
After a day of learning, helping mama cook, and wandering through her gardens, it was time to sit down an enjoy our lunch. It was a meal I will never ever forget. The eggplant parmesan was the best I have ever had, and the pasta dishes were so fresh tasting and absolutely incredible.
The most important lesson from the day ...... that good food comes from the heart. Love is the secret ingredient in every great meal. This was evident from seed to plate at mama's home, and will be something I strive for in every meal served in our home.