An Incredible No Bake Chocolate Cake

The easiest chocolate cake you’ll ever make. And it’s always a huge hit. It’s the sort of easy dessert perfect for summer, and entertaining, because you don’t need to heat your oven.

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I suspect this will be the easiest chocolate cake you’ll ever make. And it’s always a huge hit. It’s the sort of easy dessert that is perfect for summer (and entertaining!) because you don’t need to heat your oven. I think of it as a no bake chocolate cake, you wouldn’t be far off calling it a slice-able truffle. Or, imagine an espresso-spiked, velvety, chocolate mousse you were able to cut into beautiful wedges. Sounds incredible, right? If you have ten minutes,  some dark chocolate, cream, and something to infuse the cream with, you’re in business. I also have some non-dairy variations as well.

The Ultimate No Bake Chocolate Cake

When this Sort of Chocolate Cake is Perfect

This is the sort of thing I’ll throw together if we’re having friends over for dinner and I run out of steam on the dessert front. It’s less trouble to make than it is to go out and buy something. A small slice really goes the distance. It’s intense, it’s hardcore chocolate. Paired with a touch of whipped cream (or whipped coconut cream) it’s a total crowd-pleaser. I infused the cream used in the cake with espresso adn allspice in this version, but you could play it straight. Or take it in any direction you’re inclined – there are dozens of great suggestions in the comments.

The Ultimate No Bake Chocolate Cake

Choosing the Right Pan

This is a small but mighty chocolate cake. The choice of pan warrants a mention. You end up with with ~ two cups of batter, and for the most part you can pour that into any small-ish, parchment-lined cake pan you like. The parchment is important if you ever want to get the cake out of the pan. For this cake, I used a little loaf pan I like, but I’ve done this in small spring-form pans, and on occasion little tart pans. Just keep in mind, a bigger pan will mean a thinner slice. A small loaf pan like this yields a deeper slice, and so on. It’s hard to screw up – I mean, it’s a slice-able truffle cake. In the lead photo I’ve used a 6-inch springform pan. In the shot below, I’ve used a small loaf pan.

In a pinch – a number of you have mentioned that you simply pour the chocolate mixture into individual muffin tins, or dessert cups, allow it to set, and served this way. Brilliant! Less cake like, but I suspect no one will complain.

The Ultimate No Bake Chocolate Cake

Variations

If you want to avoid heavy cream, there are a number of substitutions that work well. I love using cashew cream in place of the heavy cream called for in the recipe. Make cashew cream by combining 1 part cashew nuts + 1 part water and process in a high speed blender until silky smooth. No need to strain. Coconut milk also works nicely as a substitution.

The Ultimate No Bake Chocolate Cake

Choosing the Right Chocolate

Because this cake is all about the chocolate, you don’t want to skimp on quality. I’ve been using Guittard Organic 74% Bittersweet Chocolate Wafers for this cake. It works beautifully. I often use it straight, meaning, without the added espresso or allspice noted in the recipe. So it’s just the beautiful chocolate notes coming through. San Francisco family-run chocolate represent! But, any good chocolate between 70% – 80% will work.

The Ultimate No Bake Chocolate Cake

Finishing Touches

I like to bring a bit of extra flavor (and some pretty) with a dusting of cocoa powder, a few dried rose petals, and a sprinkling of cacao nibs. Others like to finish things of with a few berries. Generally speaking, if it pairs nicely with chocolate, go for it. A few toasted nuts, or crumbled cookies wouldn’t be unwelcome.

No Bake Chocolate Cake

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Sunshine Pad Thai (Vegetarian)

The pad thai recipe you’re looking for! Try this simple trick to make a turmeric noodle version.

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Pad thai is nearly always a crowd-pleaser. It’s the sort of food that’s good, even when it’s bad. I mean, everyone loves a noodle-based stir-fry. Also, all the gluten-free people can get on board, because, rice noodles. Today’s pad thai recipe is the riff I’ve been making lately – combining a Thai heart and a California spirit. Hot water is traditionally used to soften the rice noodles. I boost that water with lots of turmeric and the noodles drink it up until they glow a hot yellow. Also, this typically ends up being a one-dish meal for us, and I can’t help but add a significant green component. Enter broccolini.

Sunshine Pad Thai (Vegetarian)

The Pad Thai Set Up

Like any other stir fry, you want to have all your ingredients prepped, and your noodles soaked before you fire up the burner. Once you start cooking, things go down fast. For this recipe I have you cook the broccolini first, remove it from the pan, and then proceed with the recipe. One pan meal.

Sunshine Pad Thai (Vegetarian)

The other wild card here is in relation to the bean sprouts. Sometimes, none of the stores within walking distance of my house have them, or they are sad looking. I substitute dice celery, which I actually love – lots of crunch and flavor! Hope you enjoy!

Sunshine Pad Thai (Vegetarian)

Variations

A number of you have left tweak and variations in the comments that I wanted to highlight. Shanti noted, “I used normal broccoli and also threw in peppers and carrots I had lying around for extra crunch.” Similarly, Christine says, “we used regular broccoli instead of broccolini – next time I will use even more. I also used both celery AND sprouts to up the veggie content.” Jen is a cook after my own heart (using what she had on hand) saying, “Made this with what I had – broccoli, cashews for peanuts, no green onion or bean sprouts/celery – and brown rice noodles. Still delicious!”

Sunshine Pad Thai (Vegetarian)
For you turmeric lovers, you can also browse these turmeric recipes. This pad thai recipe is one of my favorite ways to incorporate the super spice, but you’ll find lots of other ideas as well. Enjoy!

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Yellow Tomato Bloody Mary

The bloody mary I want to drink – fragrant herbs, yellow heirloom tomatoes, shallots, and a bit of kick from the vodka and serrano pepper.

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We are entering what I consider peak bloody mary season. I love making them just as summer winds down, using heirloom tomatoes (after the initial thrill of tomato season wears off). Here you have a vibrant, bold, bloody mary made with fragrant herbs, yellow heirloom tomatoes, shallots, and a bit of kick from the vodka and serrano pepper. It’s the bloody mary I want to drink, and I suspect you’ll love it too!
Yellow Tomato Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary

A Bloody Mary is traditionally a cocktail containing vodka, tomato juice, and a combination of spices and flavorings. Herbs, horseradish, celery, lemon or lime juice, garlic, hot sauces – they’re all at home here.

It’s a deservedly beloved brunch beverage, hangover bounce-back, and breakfast blender endeavor. That said, there are tricks to getting it right. A good Bloody Mary is all about balance, and i’ll outline a few things to think about as you dive in.Yellow Tomato Bloody Mary

Choosing Ingredients

This version is all about fresh ingredients. If you don’t have fresh, ripe yellow tomatoes on hand, by all means, use red ones. The main thing is making sure they’re juicy, flavorful and at their peak. Your herbs should be fragrant, and absolutely bump up the amount of serrano chile here if you like a bit more heat. Yellow Tomato Bloody Mary

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Heirloom Tomato Salad

My favorite tomato salad this year – made with roasted and ripe tomatoes, capers, mozzarella, almonds, and chives.

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I’ve thrown together a lot of tomato salads in my life. And certainly not all need to be highlighted here…That said, I made one over the weekend that is a bit offbeat, in a good way -a seasonal salad worth sharing. I think the magic happened when I decided to roast half of the tomatoes. The salad became a mix of beautiful heirlooms in shades of greens, reds, yellows, and orange, tossed with their roasted, caramelized counterparts. The roasted tomatoes brought depth to the salad – well worth the bit of extra time and effort.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Building on the tomatoes

Beyond the tomato base (use your best & make sure they’re ripe), I found myself pulling from ingredients around the kitchen. Capers, quickly pan-fried, added a mustardy pop. Crunch came from toasted almonds, and creamy fresh mozzarella delivered just the right amount of decadence. Fresh herbs added a bright finishing accent.
Heirloom Tomato SaladHeirloom Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad Variations

Don’t let my version influence you too much. Play around! You can take the basic premise (a tomato salad made with a mix of ripe and roasted in-season tomatoes) in unlimited different directions. Try different nuts, herbs, and vinaigrettes. A version using this pesto is A+. Experiment with different tomato varietals and shapes. 
Heirloom Tomato Salad
It’s easy to prep nearly everything ahead of time here, and I have to tell you, this salad served on slabs of garlic-rubbed bread? Or partnered with oven-baked falafel tucked into warm pita bread? Best lunch I had all week.

 

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Deviled Eggs

A beautiful and delicious deviled eggs made with an herb-flecked filling and topped with toasted almonds.

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This is a recipe for beautiful deviled eggs, but before we get to it, I’ll ask that you let me tell you about the last couple of days first. I know the eggs are distracting, I mean, look at them! If I could give you one right through the screen, I would.

Deviled Eggs Recipe

These deviled eggs were part of a Saturday night dinner spread – leftover from Friday’s lunch. They made the trip north with me, to visit friends in Bolinas. We had a tasty dinner of mostly leftovers and the eggs were a hit! Let’s talk about what makes them great. The main thing is they’re classic-inspired, simple to make, and updated at the same time.

A box with a platter of deviled eggs, flowers, and salad greens.

Above is my leftover box packed for Bolinas – soup, eggs, Josey Baker Bread, various toppings and condiments.

How to Make Deviled Eggs

The concept is straight-forward, but there are a couple of pitfalls to avoid. The main thing, boil your eggs properly. This is so you don’t ended up with dreaded grey yolks. An ice bath after boiling is your friend here. Cool, peel, halve, make a beautiful filling from the yolks, and you’re on the home stretch.

The Best Filling

It’s all about getting the flavor and texture right here, and I use a little trick. The filling is mixed, mashed, and fluffed into a light herb-flecked dollop. Toasted almonds add the crunch, chive flowers bring the pretty. They’re not technically deviled, as there is no paprika or mustard in this version, but you can always tweak the filling to your liking with a few pinches of either.

Deviled Eggs Recipe

Tasty Variations!

A number of you have made these over the years, and have noted variations and suggestions that I wanted to highlight.

Allyson:  “I just made these for Easter. Coincidently, it was the first time I’ve ever made, or actually eaten, deviled eggs. They were fantastic. I used pistachios instead of almonds, and couldn’t find chervil or dill seed, but they were so much better than I had imagined. My fiance, who loves deviled eggs, declared them the best he’s ever eaten.”

Berndy said, “I make my deviled eggs with pickled eggs for a more interesting taste.” Love this idea, and think they’d be great using these pickled turmeric eggs!

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Classic Berry Swirl Ice Cream

If you love a classic berry swirl ice cream, this is your recipe. Intense, bright strawberry or raspberry sorbet threaded with the creamiest waves of vanilla.

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If you love a classic berry swirl ice cream, this is your recipe. Intense, bright strawberry or raspberry sorbet threaded with the creamiest waves of vanilla. This version is made with cream, but I’ve also posted a non-dairy version here. It is my absolute favorite flavor, and yes, you can absolutely use frozen (thawed) berries!
Classic Berry Swirl Ice Cream

The Recipe

The berry sorbet component couldn’t be easier to make. You use a blender to puree whole fruit with some sugar, strain, and you’re in business. The vanilla swirl is a bit more intensive. You need to make a classic vanilla custard, and then churn from there. I like to make the swirl components up to a few days ahead of time, when I have a few minutes, and then churn a couple hours before serving. It’s great for days after, but is full-stop magic enjoyed just shortly after churning.

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An Amazing Vegetarian Paella

A much-loved vegetarian paella recipe. And, for this veg-centric, California-inspired take on the Spanish classic, you don’t need a special pan.

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Let’s make paella! You can absolutely do it, and for this veg-centric, California-inspired take on the Spanish classic, you don’t need a special pan. Many paellas feature various meats and seafoods, but vegetarian paella can be a revelation. This version is fully loaded with a rainbow of seasonal vegetables cooked into a saffron and paprika-scented rice based dream. 

Once you have the technique down, the adaptations can be endless. Paella is a great way to use up random seasonal vegetables in your crisper, and leftovers are A-plus. And I’m going to tell you how it can be week-night friendly. Really!

An Amazing Vegetarian Paella Recipe

You Don’t Need a Special Paella Pan

If you have a traditional paella pan, great! Use it. That said, don’t let the lack of a special pan foil your paella endeavors. I’ve successfully cooked paella in copper pans (a favorite), as well as stainless steel, and cast iron. Use what you have, the wider the better. I’m including instructions for two different sized pans in the recipe, please reference the head notes. 

How to Make Paella Weeknight Friendly

Paella can be a great, realistic go-to weeknight recipe if you do one thing. Keep this sofrito on hand. Have some ready in the refrigerator, keep back up in the freezer. If you have a bit of saffron and paprika around, with some broth, rice, and seasonal vegetables, you’re ready to make paella. And it’s quite simple.

An Amazing Vegetarian Paella Recipe

The Best Rice For Paella

Choosing the right rice for paella is key. Ideally, you want a short-grain, stubby paella rice, something like this, or this. Look for Bomba. Paella rices are celebrated for being able to absorb more water (or broth) than other rices, while maintaining structure. This translates to a paella with definition between grains – no mushy rice. I also love this article about choosing rice for paella with Russ Moore (of Camino in Oakland, CA). He uses a well-rinsed, local, Japanese short-grain varietal, and his paella is beautiful. If you do experiment with non-paella rice varietals, you’ll need to play around a bit and adjust the liquids.

Can I Use Brown Rice?

I’ve tried. I’ve tested 100% brown rice paella, and blends. Here’s the problem. Brown rice takes a lot longer to cook comparatively. So, the way paella comes together is the following. You get all your ingredients in the pan, stir once, and then leave it alone. This is half the battle when it comes to achieving a golden-crusted bottom (desirable!), see below. When you use brown rice, you end up with overcooked vegetables, because you need to cook it so long. My advice? Stick with tradition and use a short-grain paella rice.

The Trick to Achieving Socarrat Magic

Today’s recipe focuses on paella made indoors, in a modern kitchen. That said, many paella are cooked grilled, over open flame. One of the things you hope to achieve in either scenario is socarrat – that golden crusted rice bottom. The skill, of course, coming from just the right amount of toastiness – not too little, not burned. If you’re brave, give your paella a moment or so on a burner, after removing from the oven, to  increase your likelihood of some good socarrat! Takes some practice.

How to Make Vegetarian Paella Awesome

Here’s the deal, you need to load up on seasonal vegetables. Experiment! There are so many ingredients that are fair game here. I like ingredients with a bit of structure, that can handle some cooking time. Asparagus (thicker stem vs. skinny), baby artichokes, summer squash, fava beans, cherry tomatoes, peas, etc.

Paella Verde Variation

A green version of the paella you see pictured here is fantastic. Simply stir in 1/4 pound of well chopped spinach or kale with the other vegetables.

This recent paella bender was inspired by a beautiful paella birthday dinner cooked by my friend Bonni Evensen. You can see pics in my Instagram feed.

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Berry Swirl Ice Cream (Vegan, Dairy-free)

Intense, bright strawberry or raspberry sorbet threaded with the creamiest waves of vanilla is hard to beat. This version is vegan and dairy-free.

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As far as ice cream goes, berry swirl ice cream is my favorite. Intense, bright strawberry or raspberry sorbet threaded with the creamiest waves of vanilla is hard to beat. I often make a classic version (and will post that version before the weekend), but wanted to challenge myself to create a vegan, dairy-free version as well. A lot of you requested one when I posted about it to Instagram the other day.
Berry Swirl Ice Cream (Vegan, Dairy-free)

The Recipe

I tried a number of different approaches here, and landed on a creamy, cashew milk base. Oat milk turned out too icy, and I wanted to opt for something other than coconut milk, which I suspect would have been the obvious choice.

I also wanted to simplify and streamline the process as much as possible, wondering if I could get away with making a “blender custard” instead of a cooked custard, the more typical approach. And I was really happy with the results! You definitely get mild nuttiness from the cashews, and theres the mouthfeel that reminds me of the hazelnut or pistachio gelatos you might get in Italy, but it’s really nice alongside the vibrant berry swirl. The dairy based version I make uses a classic vanilla swirl, creamy brightness. This is a slightly different beast, but a big hit with kids and adults!

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Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad

This is a noodle salad you’ll crave every day. A radiant, color-flecked tangle of noodles, cabbage, shredded carrots, pickled sushi ginger, and an abundance of cilantro, basil, and scallions. It has tofu and peanuts, coconut, ginger, avocado, and hemp seeds. The dressing(!) – it’s simple but strong, and steps in with an assertive spicy sriracha-lime punch.

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This is a noodle salad you’ll crave every day. A radiant, color-flecked tangle of noodles, cabbage, shredded carrots, pickled sushi ginger, and an abundance of cilantro, basil, and scallions. It has tofu and peanuts, coconut, ginger, avocado, and hemp seeds. The dressing(!) – it’s simple but strong, and steps in with an assertive spicy sriracha-lime punch. This is one of those near-perfect one dish meals. You might not want to prep this many ingredients every day, but you’ll forget about that detail the minute you take a bite. And you can see exactly how it comes together in the video below. xx! -h

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Noodle Salad: Make Ahead Components

A couple of tips – you can make the dressing a few days in advance. You can also do much of the chopping and grating a day or two in advance. Cook the noodles to order, though.

Sriracha Rainbow Noodle Salad

Let me know if you try it, and please report back if you land on any seasonal adaptations that you are particularly excited about.

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Fourth of July Roasted Tomato Salsa

A deliciously vibrant, earthy, and slightly smoky-tasting salsa recipe. Different from salsa fresca, the deep, caramelized flavors of the roasted tomatoes and onions alongside the smokiness of the chipotles make for a richly beautiful and balanced salsa.

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I love this salsa recipe, and make it every year for Fourth of July. While it appears deceptively average, it actually delivers electric flavor with each bite. When you’re ready to move on from salsa fresca, make this. What you’ll have is a deliciously vibrant, earthy, and slightly smoky-tasting salsa. Different from salsa fresca, the deep, caramelized flavors of roasted tomatoes and onions alongside the smokiness of the chipotles make for a richly beautiful and balanced salsa. And, that color! It’s beautiful.

Fourth of July Roasted Tomato Salsa Recipe

Salsa Inspiration

Initially, I’d been sitting on this salsa recipe for over six months, waiting (and waiting) for tomato season. I waited through citrus season, asparagus season, and a good chunk of the stone fruits. Every few weeks I’d flip through my pocket-sized notebook and there it was, a messy scribble of black pen spanning three-quarters of a single page. The black letters were there to remind me of the deliciously vibrant, earthy, and slightly smoky-tasting salsa I jotted down while visiting friends (Hadley & Philip) in New Zealand. It is a salsa richly red in hue, accented with tiny flecks of green cilantro. We stayed with in Wellington for a week, and Hadley made this salsa for us one evening. 

Fourth of July Roasted Tomato Salsa Recipe

Why this Salsa?

If you are used to making or buying salsa fresca, great. I love salsa fresca and make it regularly. This salsa is an entirely different beast – the deep, caramelized flavors of the roasted tomatoes and onions alongside the smokiness of the chipotle(s) makes for a richly beautiful and balanced salsa. The other thing I love is the texture. This salsa has a rustic, hearty texture which comes from pureeing a portion of the ingredients toward the beginning of the process, and then hand-chopping the majority of the roasted tomatoes and onions. With the roasted ingredients, it is a bit more effort, to be sure, but SO worth it.Fourth of July Roasted Tomato Salsa Recipe

Not just for chips, this is the perfect salsa recipe for use on nachos, tacos, eggs, veggie burgers, quesadillas, kabobs…..a perfect addition of a Fourth of July spread. Other ideas? Give a shout in the comments.

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