Nancy Silverton’s Polenta Cake with Brutti Ma Buoni Topping

A cake for nut lovers.

A cake for nut lovers.

 

Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.

In my case, I always do. I’m the person who won’t even dive into a box of See’s candies unless it’s “nuts and chews.” For me, it’s M&M’s with nuts all the way. And I can happily munch on almonds by the handful, day or night.

This is a cake that appeals to nutty folks like me.

“Polenta Cake with Brutti Ma Buoni Topping” is from “Mozza At Home” (Knopf), of which I received a review copy. It’s the newest cookbook by Nancy Silverton, the chef who helped kick-start the modern-day artisan bread revolution. She’s also the chef/co-owner of Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, and Chi Spacca, all in Los Angeles.

As Silverton writes in the book, this cake is the happy marriage of a classic polenta cake, and a traditional meringue and nut cookie called brutti ma buoni, which means “ugly but good.”

Crunch-a-licious.

Crunch-a-licious.

Personally, I prefer “distinctive” over “ugly” because I think that’s what this bumpy-topped cake is, owing to a profusion of almonds and hazelnuts mixed with egg white, honey, vanilla and orange flower water that’s strewn over the cake before it finishes baking.

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Bee Free Honee — It’s Like Honey, But It’s Not

A honey-like product that tastes of apples.

A honey-like product that tastes of apples.

 

With its golden, amber hue, it looks a lot like honey.

But from the moment you unscrew the cap on the jar, you get the unmistakable whiff of sweet apples.

Bee Free Honee is a honey substitute made from organic apple juice, cane sugar and lemon juice — all cooked down until sticky and viscous.

The company was founded by Minneapolis-based Katie Sanchez, who grew up on an apple orchard with a father who was a beekeeper. One day, while trying to make a less sweet apple jelly, she accidentally created this syrupy concoction instead.

It’s vegan, and safe for anyone who has a honey allergy. Use it just like you would honey.

With bee populations decimated over the past decade, it’s also a way to enjoy a honey-like product while stressing bees less. Moreover, for every jar sold, Bee Free Honee donates 10 cents to pollinator-friendly groups.

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Sweet on Sweet Potatoes — All Year-Round (Sponsored Post)

Sweet potato roasted in ash.

Sweet potato roasted in ash.

If you think sweet potatoes are only for Thanksgiving, think again.

This Easter, make sweet potatoes the centerpiece of your spring holiday with this easy, dramatic and mesmerizing dish: whole sweet potatoes buried in ash, and roasted until blackened on the outside, and sweet, smoky and luscious within. Forget the colored eggs; all eyes will be on this beauty when it comes to the table.

Spread the flesh on warm tortillas with a dollop of creamy chipotle sauce enlivened with fresh orange zest, because we all know just how wonderfully sweet potatoes marry with sweet citrus.

This simple, sublime dish will make you look at sweet potatoes in a whole different light. It’s sure to become a year-round indulgence, whenever it’s grilling weather outside. It’s even vegetarian and gluten-free, to boot.

After all, California’s envious climate allows for sweet potatoes to be available year-round, according to the California Sweetpotato Council. They are grown in the San Joaquin Valley’s naturally sandy loam, cured in the ground first, before being harvested and cured in sheds.

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Santana Row Welcomes Oveja Negra

The black sheep is the mascot of the new Oveja Negra.

The black sheep is the mascot of the new Oveja Negra.

 

Out with Citrus; in with Oveja Negra.

The Hotel Valencia in San Jose’s Santana Row has transformed its former restaurant into a new concept with a new name. Chef Ocean Orssten still remains at the helm, but now he’s creating a menu of “unruly tapas.” Hence the name, Oveja Negra, which in Spanish means “black sheep” or refers to the odd man out. It’s his whimsical way of saying he’s not necessarily doing typical traditional tapas here, but more globally-inspired, off-beat small plates.

I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently to check out its new look, which sports brass tack-hammered, dark banquettes, white curved-back chairs, and Moorish accents.

Shrimp and grits -- Indian curry-style.

Shrimp and grits — Indian curry-style.

The signature cocktail is the Mezcal Brillante ($14) that puts smoky mezcal in the spotlight with the tartness of grapefruit. A rim of freeze-dried yuzu with yuzu marmalade gives each sip an extra sweet-sour pucker.

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Hooray for Halos, Plus A Food Gal Giveaway

Say "hello'' to fun with Halos!

Fun with Halos!

 

My husband will be the first to admit he suffers from Lazy Fruit Syndrome. No matter if it’s strawberry season or peach season, he stays loyal to his penchant for bananas. Yes, because he likes them. But more so, because they require no washing and are a breeze to peel.

We’ve all been there, right? Maybe that’s why we can’t get enough of Halos, either. These cute tangerines have peels that come off just like that to reveal easily segmented, seedless flesh that bursts with sunshine-y juice. One Halo has only 50 calories and comes with a jolt of Vitamin C.

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