I’m going to paint you a picture here, so let’s visualize together. I want you to pretend for a second that this post has no butter or sugar in it. Take those two ingredients away, and we’re left with nothing but fruit. Healthy, unadulterated fruit. Well, if we’re getting technical, we’d also be left with flour, salt, a few almonds and some ice water, but that’s neither here nor there. That’s if we’re getting technical, which we’re not. So we’re just left with fruit. Delicious, guilt-free fruit. That isn’t so bad right? The point is that this is a healthy post. Or as healthy as it’ll get around this here parts. This isn’t a rich dessert by any means. It’s not too sweet, heavy or decadent, which is the kind of desserts my mamma loves. She tells me all the time, “Jon I really like this. It’s not super sweet, heavy or decadent, which you know I love.” Yeah I know that (because she tells me all the time) and because I don’t really like sweet desserts myself. She must get that from me. She also tells me, every time she eats anything I make, “This is why you’re my favorite son!” I have to remind her that I’m her only son, so it totally doesn’t count. I guess what I’m getting at is that you should take advantage of this sort of healthy-ish dessert while you can. They don’t come by too often but when they do, they look something like this. And if they don’t, they should.
Now I’m no fool. I’m not saying that this recipe is so healthy it will cleanse you and make you lose weight. No dessert has that sort of magical power, or else I don’t think it would be considered a dessert at that point. Don’t go around telling people that Jonathan created a healthy weight-loss dessert. Although how cool would that be? Don’t get me wrong, this is still a treat because of the butter and sugar and flour all up in it. But when you look at it in perspective to other things in life, like cookies and cakes and doughnuts and ice cream. Well this here galette is a diet drink compared to all that. So I reiterate my statement from earlier, this is a healthy dessert. I strongly believe that everything should be eaten in moderation. We should be able to eat what we want, when we want. Granted, just as long as we can control ourselves. It shouldn’t matter whether something is too rich or decadent. Don’t go into it asking, how many calories is in this? Go into it with the mindset that that you’ll enjoy just one or two small pieces and not feel guilty about it. Life is worth enjoying every now and then with a few guilty treats. When you deprive yourself from something, that’s when you want to eat it all and all at once. So if you have a small sliver of something rich and decadent that you love every now and then, you’ll learn how to have self-control because you won’t want as often. Food is too good to have a bad relationship with. We already overthink and worry too much about so many other parts of our life, like dating. Food shouldn’t be an added stress to your life on top of everything else. So that’s my two cents on the entire matter. I know you were just dying to read about it. I’ll get off my soapbox now. Arms raised in the air; union union UNION! Oh wrong demonstration.
The other day I was sitting around thinking to myself, “Self, you really need to have more fruit desserts on your blog. I’m sure people would enjoy it. Give them some variety.” So I decided to listen to myself. I’m very smart, what can I say? I took a step back from all the chocolate and peanut butter and frosting and cookies and cake, as of late, and came up with this not-too-sweet-not-too-rich-not-too-decadent dessert. Did you know that’s my mamma’s favorite kind?
I’ve been in a funk lately. An unexplainable funk. I was recently on a mini vacation, visiting a friend in Michigan and I had the best time ever. Of course the company I shared, definitely helped with that. Can I just take a moment to tell you how beautiful Michigan is during this time of year?! I mean seriously, it really is. It was my first time there and I was blown away by everything. It’s the type of beauty that takes your breath away. The kind you only see in movies and certainly not the type you see in Los Angeles. I mean sure LA is awesome in it’s own right. We have the beaches and sun and pretty consistent perfect weather. A few palm trees here and there. Just a few. It’s a different kind of beauty all together. I was born and raised here and I’ll forever consider this place my home, even if life takes me somewhere else. However, to experience a real autumn where there are actually colors on trees and leaves on the ground with a chilly air clinging to everything, now that’s something everyone should experience at least once in their life. How do people do it in the East Coast? I wouldn’t get any work done at all. I’d find any excuse to go outside. Anyhow, needless to say it’s been hard getting back into the groove of things. I was so sad when I had to leave, even threatened to stay. I haven’t been able to shake off the good times I had there and jump back into the mindset of doing the things I have to do. Does that happen to anyone else when you’ve come to the realization that the good times have come to an end? How do you go back to work and your daily routine when all you want to do is go apple picking, wine tasting, nature-seeing, antique shopping and cuddle up in a warm place with someone special? That’s been my dilemma lately, which is why I’ve been slacking on my work on here. I apologize. I’m back though (slowly but surely) trying to remind myself I’m not on vacation anymore and daydreaming about the possibility of going back. I snapped a few pictures here and there with my phone and those are definitely helping with my blues. I thought I’d share a few with you here. You can also see more on my instagram. Are we friends on instagram? If we’re not, we should be. What are you waiting for?
I started thinking to myself, wondering what would be the best way to get back into work. This is my 100th post after all (no big deal) and so I wanted it to be special. Or at least special to me. I began to brainstorm all of my favorite things. That wasn’t easy because when it comes to food, it’s all my favorite. In the end it sort of made sense to make this big one hundred a doughnut recipe because doughnuts are my life. I mean seriously, I can’t get enough of them. Remind me to tell you about the one year my family didn’t give me a birthday cake and instead a tower of doughnuts with candles. Best birthday ever? Yes. It’s really a short story that involved me eating them all. I also thought a doughnut recipe would be perfect to share because it was super cold in Michigan—like freezing cold although everyone there thought I was crazy all bundled up while the locals are in shorts, tees and flip flops—and doughnuts are perfect on cold days with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee or tea.
Now, I’ve already professed my love—some might call it an obsession but let’s not go there okay?—for doughnuts on this blog before. Yeah it was a good celebration in honor of my favorite snack/breakfast/dessert/treat. If you recall, that recipe involved blueberries, bourbon and basil. What?! Crazy I know, but boy oh boy were they delicious. This time around I thought I’d honor my most favoritest (totally a word) of favorite doughnuts. It’s common knowledge from anyone who knows me so well that I always make an instant jump for any and all cake doughnuts more than the yeasted ones. Not that I don’t care for yeasted doughnuts because I do, I don’t discriminate. I just happen to really love cake doughnuts. Especially the kind with the chocolate glaze and chopped nuts on top. Forgive me for a second while I drool over the thought of those. Okay, I’m done drooling. Normally those doughnuts are just plain ol’ vanilla. I wanted to switch things up a bit by making my doughnuts with a peanut butter cake base because we all know that peanut butter and chocolate were meant to be together until the end of time. Old friends that go way back. And we all now know that I need those doughnuts in my mouth.
Let’s talk about cake for a second. Okay, I lied. Let’s discuss cake for more than a second. If I had it my way, I’d only talk about cake. All the time. That’s the only thing thing on my mind. If someone asked me a specific question or was talking to me about a completely different topic, I’d respond simply with “CAKE!” I’d just shout it out to them. Scream it to their face. Part of me wants to do it just because I’d like to see what their reaction would be. The other part wants to do it because I love cake. I wouldn’t even care if it made sense or not. Cake makes perfect sense. ALL THE TIME. In reality, if I could, all I would talk about is butter and sugar and cinnamon. Talk about a love affair. Those three ingredients have my heart. Forever and always, I’ll never say no to them. Butter and sugar and cinnamon together is the stuff dreams are made of. Put those three together and I kid you not, you could solve all of the world’s problems in one easy swoop. Seriously though, it would make the world a better place. Just imagine if criminals had a piece of cake before they committed their crime, they’d change their mind and wouldn’t go through with it. That’s how good cake is. That’s the power of the cake. I’m probably exaggerating a tad. I mean not all criminals would change their mind after eating cake. But I’m sure a select few would. I say, give everyone cake. Cake for all.
I’ve been on a savory kick lately, as you can probably tell from the last couple of posts. I mean sure, potato tacos are freaking delicious. I ate about fifty of them, and I’m not even joking. Okay, I’m joking. It was more like forty-nine. Calzones? Why not? Give them to me. On cold rainy days, panini and roasted tomato soup is sort of my jam. But with all that being said, cake (cinnamon, sugar and butter) well that’s just hands-down-no-contest, a sure fire winner for me. All I want to do lately is stuff my face with cake. Cake of all kinds. If you subscribe to the newsletter, you’ll have noticed the chocolate bundt cake recipe I included in it. Ate all of that without even a second thought. If you read the newsletter—which you should have by now because I sent it out at midnight. What are you waiting for?!—you’ll also know that it was my sister’s birthday this week. Of course I made her a birthday cake. It was a chocolate hazelnut cake with a nutella filling. Ate it. Stuffed the whole thing in my mouth. So when I decided to swing things back to sweet on the blog, the only logical thing to make and shoot and share was a cake. Duh. Cake for life. I immediately thought to myself that all I needed in life at that very moment was sugar, butter and cinnamon. So guess what…I made a cinnamon sugar coffee cake. I wanted it to be simple and yet a classic recipe that you guys would want to make. I hope you want to make this cake because let me tell you, it’s a delicious breakfast cake. I should make an entire cookbook of breakfast cake. I’d call it “Yes I’m Eating Cake For Breakfast And No You Can’t Have Any.” Or something like that, it’s a work in progress. It would give me an excuse to recipe test and eat nothing but cake for breakfast without people judging me. (Like my mom and doctor). I’d say, “I’m just working on the book. I have to eat this cake because it’s research!” We’d all have an excuse to eat cake first thing in the morning once the book came out. I’d be the reason every kid (and a few adults here and there) would be demanding cake for breakfast. I’m okay with that. I could live with myself. Gimme that cake.
My oldest sister tends to not eat meat from time to time, and from time to time I mean like every day. Something I’ve had to come to terms with and accept. Oh she’s not strictly vegetarian or anything like that. She just prefers to torture me by not eating meat or chicken or pork. Talk about total weirdo. Gosh how embarrassing, I can’t believe we’re related. Alien alert. I kid, of course. There’s nothing wrong with being vegetarian. Insert my mother telling me, “be careful what you say because you’ll probably end up married to a vegetarian for the rest of your life.” And as luck would have it, I’m smitten with a vegetarian, go figure. Thanks mom! If I didn’t love meat and chicken and pork myself, basically all foods, I’d be one too. I just wouldn’t have the will power or strength to give up certain things like bacon and pepperoni. Did I mention bacon? My sister does have a soft spot for seafood though, which makes up for it I guess, but that’s a whole other story for another time.
Said sister also happens to really love potatoes. One time, she even went as far as to say that she could eat potatoes everyday, in every which way imaginable. It went something like this, “I could eat potatoes every day, in every which way imaginable.” Whoa just like that. She’s the type of person who could eat mashed potatoes with a side of fries and potato salad and not care about what people think. On Thanksgiving she pretty much only eats mashed potatoes and gives thanks to the people who invented mashed potatoes. Talk about climbing Mt. Starch, but you know what, I’m okay with that. Mostly because I’d be right there with her eating all those potatoes until the end of time. Although I’d have a side of tater tots on top of all them other taters on my plate. We’re potato loving people, what can I say? Perhaps in another life I was a potato? I was going to say potato farmer but somehow potato came out and I was too lazy to fix it. Maybe I was a potato though. I’d probably make a good potato too, just give me a couch and stand back. Ba rum bum pisshh. If I was a potato in my past life—which I’m not saying I was but I’m not saying I wasn’t either because you never know—I was most definitely probably a russet potato because let’s be honest, good ol’ russets are the best potatoes. We grow big and are perfect baked and stuffed with sour cream and butter and cheese and bacon and chives served with a gigantic steak on the side. Yes I did just say “we.” Us fellow potatoes that is.
I wish I could say I invented potato tacos. Mostly because I’d be rich and famous and people would love me and my name would be synonymous with a totally delicious dish that involved potatoes—something I was in my past life, did you know that? But also because I might’ve already told people I invented potato tacos which isn’t necessarily true. I mean, Jonathan Melendez Potato Taco Inventor just sounds so cool, right? That’s what my business cards say. The first time I had potato tacos, actually, was when I was younger. My potato-loving sister dated a guy whose mother made amazing potato tacos. In my opinion she should have stayed with the man just for that alone, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyhow like I was saying, my sister’s boyfriend’s mother knew how to get down with potatoes and subsequently changed my potato obsessed life forever. Cut to me now telling people I invented potato tacos and was a potato in my past life. Just you wait until my high school reunion rolls around. I’ll totally spread those lies like no one’s business. I’ll also exit the reunion in a helicopter, right after my big dance finale. And if you get that movie reference, you and I are now best friends. Let’s have potato tacos for dinner, yes? I’ll tell you all about how I invented potato tacos and what life was like for me in Idaho as a russet potato.
I go through this whole process to decide on what to make for dinner. Sometimes when I feel uninspired, I go to the market and let the store decide for me. “Hey store, what should I cook for dinner?” I’ll scream out loud as I walk in. Sure, I’ll get some stares but it’s mostly because they’re jealous they didn’t think to ask the store themselves. They understand. We’re in the same boat. I’ll take a stroll around and see what looks good on that particular day and I’ll usually get ideas just on that. However let me give you one piece of advice, I’m sure you already know this, but you should never go to the market on an empty stomach. It’s bad news. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve taken a trip to the grocery store starving and I end up having chips and a baguette for dinner. Maybe even a few string cheeses on the car ride. I’ll get home and be like “Hey guys, guess what! We’re having pretzels and ice cream cones for dinner.” That never goes over well, which is a shocker to me. I mean, who wouldn’t want plain ice cream cones for dinner? Sometimes I base meals solely on what I feel like eating on that day. I go through cravings like a pregnant woman—I’m assuming. I’ll get something in my head and won’t be able to rest until I eat it. It’s a blessing really. The same thing goes for the posts and newsletters I photograph. Most of the time—okay, maybe always—I end up making, shooting and sharing a recipe that I felt like eating at the time. Purely selfish of me I apologize (but not really because it’s a delicious way to work).
My family will always know when I really don’t feel like cooking because I end up making something super simple like tuna sandwiches, or turkey sandwiches, or grilled cheese sandwiches. There’s a theme here, sandwiches are easy to make. Take note. At the same time, whenever I whip up a batch of buttermilk pancakes and scramble a few eggs and call it dinner, they’ll know how lazy I’m feeling that day. Although breakfast for dinner is the best thing on this planet, so no one’s complaining. Certainly not me. I could eat breakfast for dinner all day every day. I digress though. This post came through a conversation with a friend. I hadn’t eaten a calzone since like elementary school, and then she made me one and I was like “Whoa that looks amazing! I haven’t eaten a calzone since elementary school!” She then told me, “You should make calzones for your blog!” I responded with, “Oh yeah, like BBQ chicken. Oh Oh and sausage and peppers!” We both stared at each other and laughed like if something was funny and these calzones were unattainable, but then we both stopped laughing immediately and just stared at each other knowing we just said something serious and genius. And that’s how these calzones came to life. I had the BBQ chicken idea in my head immediately and the sausage and peppers came to me a little later only because I thought in my head I would have to make a second kind because one of my sister’s hates BBQ sauce (total weirdo). This whole long story just to show you how I usually decide on what to make and shoot. That’s how my brain operates when it comes to food. The more you know.
I have the craziest soup stories of when I was a child. Nothing out of this world crazy, like all I ever wanted to eat as a kid was soup or anything like that. This is a whole other level of crazy. This kind of weirdness I blame on my mother, and now of course I’m sure my mom is somewhere reading this thinking, “Oh naturally, the mothers are always the first to get blamed.” But the truth of the matter is that this is in fact her fault. Where should I begin? I guess I should start from the beginning and when I get to the end, I’ll stop. You should know that I only like eating soup on the hottest days of the year. No that’s not a typo, you read that right. The hottest days of the year. That’s when I want a steaming bowl of soup the most. Not on cold rainy days, like normal people; no I crave soup when the sun is blazing and when we’re all wearing nothing but shorts and tanks. When it’s so hot outside and you’ll do anything to cool off, that’s when I want soup. In the worst possible way. When you’re drenched in sweat because it’s so freaking hot and when the last thing you’ll want to do is eat soup, that’s when I’ll want nothing but soup.
So where does my mother come into this picture? How is it her fault you ask? Well she would only make soup for us on the hottest days of the year. We’re talking about full-on big pot of soup boiling away on the stove while the sun is baking the world outside. I’d be playing in the backyard while my mother cooked, and I remember staring up and seeing the windows full of condensation and steaming from the heat radiating not only outside but inside as well. I knew she was making soup. We all knew. Her reasoning behind it—and to this day I have the same reasoning now because of her—is that the heat from the soup will cool you off. Heat cancels off heat. I’m not sure if and how that works but somehow it made sense. I didn’t question it, and if there was anything I learned as a kid, it was that mothers are always right. Write that down.
So there I was, little ol’ young me drinking my hot soup on a hot day not knowing that something was off. Thinking that every kid ate soup on scorching sunny days. Totally normal. Of course I ate the soup without hesitation because if I’m being honest, it’s the best soup I’ve ever eaten. My mom makes really great soup and I’m not just saying this because I’m throwing her under the bus here. Now that I’m older I’ve come to the realization that hot summer soups, isn’t a thing. No matter how much my mom wishes it were. So for those of you who love soup during the cold seasons—what an odd thing to crave on cold days really—I decided to make a soup post. Much like everything in life, soup is a lot better with a side of bread. Bread wasn’t enough for me though so I decided to make this soup with a side of a sandwich. An accompaniment of a sandwich wasn’t sufficient enough for me however, so I decided to serve the soup alongside a panini. A boring panini wasn’t going to cut it, so I stuffed this one with lots of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes and a homemade basil spread that is super addicting. Although soup is only tasty when it is served in the summer (thanks mom) I’m willing to overlook that little tidbit because this soup and sandwich combo is up there on the deliciousness scale. Get at it folks.