Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

* This post was created in partnership with California Olive Ranch. We’ve been working together this year to bring you some special recipes that highlight this beautiful olive oil. I’ve been using their olive oil for years now because they produce a high quality oil for an everyday price. Cooking is what grounds me, which is why I make sure to work with ingredients that offer consistent quality and delicious taste. Olive oil is the basis of so many dishes, sweet and savory, and California Olive Ranch allows my food to shine.

I stare at the computer screen practically paralyzed by the mounting list of to-do’s. Ivy’s half-finished Halloween costume sits dormant in the corner, a few dishes from last night’s dinner linger on the table, and dinner tonight? There are no plans yet. 

In this moment I put the computer down, bound into the kitchen and set the oven to 350°F. The fridge is bare but the pantry provides everything I need to create something out of seemingly nothing. Raw ingredients; those that linger in the cupboard for moments such as this, they are humble, not much on their own but when combined with a few of their pantry neighbors they are comfort and warmth. Delight and joy and honestly, they become therapy.

It’s the process that is the healer. Instantly I’m out of my head with the racing thoughts of “not enoughs”. Not enough time in the day, not good enough, not fast enough, not helpful enough … and I focus on the fragrance of nutmeg as it slips across the microplane leaving behind flecks of spice. I marvel, if just for a moment, at the intricate pattern that’s revealed once the dull exterior is shaved away. Fresh ginger drips down my finger and releases a powerful perfume while it’s whisked into pumpkin purée. And fragrant olive oil, grassy with a bright pepper bite slowly dribbles in before dry goes into wet and then it all goes into the pan before hitting the hot oven. I return to the computer screen having accomplished something. It wasn’t on the to do list but I stepped into the present, into the process just long enough to regain right perspective. 

I created something. Something that scented the house with spice and Fall, something that will wrap the kids in warmth when they walk through the front door and something that pulled me out of myself long to remember that everything will be okay. 

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

Adapted from BonAppetit.com

This simple recipe is everything I want in a quick baking, snack cake. I love a loaf cake that uses oil as the fat as it produces and tender crumb and here we use olive oil for texture and it adds a wonderful fragrant flavor as well. It also keeps the bread super moist (better than butter!) and add healthy fats with a world of benefits. 

I’ve added a couple of handfuls of bittersweet chocolate to this loaf which is also lovely. 

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 large eggs

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin pureé

1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup California Olive Ranch Destination Series Everyday olive oil

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 9x5" loaf pan with nonstick spray. 

Line bottom of pan with parchment, leaving a generous overhang on both long sides. 

Whisk flour, cinnamon, kosher salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg, in a medium bowl. 

Whisk eggs, pumpkin purée, ginger, and 1½ cups sugar in a large bowl. 

Stream in oil, whisking continuously until well combined. 

Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until completely combined, but take care not to overmix. (If you want to add chocolate stir it in now). 

Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan then top with the pumpkin seeds and brown sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean, about 60 - 70 minutes. 

Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes until unmolding and cooling the loaf completely on a wire rack. 

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spaghetti con le sarde

*This post is in partnership with Barilla. I’m so thrilled to work with them and proclaim a shared belief that pasta is art. “Each piece of pasta is a small piece of design that combines beauty and taste.” Chefs from around the world recently competed in Paris at the Pasta World Championship. Check out their Instagram page to meet the chefs and see the winning dish.

I’m back with more pasta inspired by the 8th annual Barilla Pasta World Championship. The competition is officially complete, and a winner has been selected. 

You guys, when I saw the competing dishes I was so impressed. The recipes for these incredible pasta dishes were pages long. There were powders and foams and multiple sauces on one plate. Mine? Well, I thought the crispy salami was a nice touch. This is why I’m the one at home sitting and eating the pasta and not out there competing. Because when all is said and done simplicity is whereI reside and I want you to be able to easily recreate this dish at home! 

 

That’s not to say I didn’t study the recipes from these chefs because their ingenuity and complexity fascinates me. I love learning from these masters – studying their methods and watching what ingredients they gather and using that to inspire a recipe that fits in our home.

Like the recipe from the Canadian competitor, Kshitiz Sethi. I was so intrigued by the combination of sardines, fennel, tomato, pine nuts and raisins that I had to give it a go. Of course, the recipe also wanted me to sous vide fresh sardines and make a delicate broth of fennel and tomatoes but I turned his idea into a 20-minute, accessible pasta dish that you can make with ingredients you most likely have in your pantry. 

 

Congratulations to all the competitors. Thanks for always inspiring. 

spaghetti con le sarde

Inspired by Kshitiz Sethi - the Canadian competitor in the Pasta World Championships

Ingredients

12 ounces Barilla Collezione Spaghetti

Sea salt

1 small shallot, diced

1 small fennel bulb (with greens and stems)

1 sardine, packed in oil, bones removed and minced

2 tablespoons minced pepperoncini

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes

Chili flake

1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen

Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

Instructions

Remove the stems from the fennel bulb. Set aside 1/2 cup of the fennel fronds and slice the fennel bulb.

Set a large pot of water over high heat. Add the fennel stems to the pot and enough salt to make the water taste of the sea. 

While the water boils add olive oil to a large skillet. Sauté the shallot and fennel bulb until just starting to caramelize, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add a pinch of salt along with the sardine and pepperoncini. Sauté for one minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, pine nuts and golden raisins. Mix well and cook for 1 to 2 minutes before add the diced tomatoes. Add another pinch of salt and fennel pollen then let the sauce simmer while you cook the pasta.

Add some pasta water to the sauce if it gets too dry.

Drain the cooked pasta but be sure to reserve some of the pasta water. Add the pasta (minus the fennel stems) to the skillet with the sauce. Add pasta water to the sauce as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Transfer the pasta to a serving platter then top with fennel fronds and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

 

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