The Enchilada Library

an archive of deliciousness

Love Buzz

My heart has been fluttery lately, as though at any moment it could explode from lightness like a balloon filled with shaving cream.  The buzz welling in my sternum spreads to my shoulders and my collarbone shakes with the urge to hug everyone. A little skip sneaks into my step, and I giggle to myself hoping no one notices. That’s another part of this whole thing, an inordinate amount of giggling.

Sigh, maybe I should cut down on the caffeine.

Especially when poured into an empty stomach, coffee has the astounding ability to elicit the exact same feelings as being in love. Both coffee and love make me forget to sleep and eat, and they both make me stutter. But the similarities don’t stop at shaky limbs and heart palpitations. A sip of coffee, like a lover’s kiss, feels like pouring creamer over all of life’s woes. Everything is at once more palatable, more beautiful.

Yet, it’s not coffee’s, or love’s, sweetness alone that makes them so alluring. Coffee’s addicting nature lies in the slight discomfort on the edge of every sip; underneath the sweetness, somewhere in the bitter dryness, is the knowledge that it’s not going to last. It leaves my mouth parched, my heart stammering, and often my head aching. So I drink more.

That’s the other thing about coffee and love, they both make me absolutely crazy.

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Lemony Artichoke Ravioli and Lemon Curd Pie

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It’s that time of year again in Chico where summer and fall meet and mingle for a bit before going their separate ways. Amid the blurred edge between seasons lies curiosities, like how can strawberries and tomatoes share a table at the farmers’ market with spaghetti squash and kale? Wintery nights make way for sweltering days; the blushing leaves don’t seem to notice that it’s still eighty five degrees outside.

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ingredients for the ravioli filling: ricotta cheese, lemon zest, artichoke hearts, salt and pepper

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ravioli sauce ingredients: peas, shallots, and red pepper flakes

this pie

this lemon curd recipe is one of those “ill never need to try another recipe in my life because I found the perfect recipe” kind of recipes. I credit its simplicity for its deliciousness; its perfectly tart and not at all too sweet.

  The tug between seasons is mirrored in my recent angst and indecisiveness. On one hand, the ebbing energy of fall makes we want to cuddle up, hunker down, and get serious about the projects which I’ve started. As many of you probably know, I’ve been working on expanding my almond milk business so I can start selling to local coffee shops and restaurants. Now feels like a good time, free from other distractions, to take on such an endeavor. But the warm days and lingering buzz of summer make me want to shirk all responsibility, hop in a travelling gypsy van, and only return to gather my things before jetting off to Iceland. So, what’s a girl to do to quell her confusion? Make lemon curd pie, of course.

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this is kinda betta

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the ravioli sauce calls for olive oil, but butter is better. ghee would have been even better

These are great recipes because they wear all the fanciness of a Martha Stewart magazine cover, but with none of the fuss. For example, the ravioli recipe swaps pasta dough for wanton wrappers for a much quicker assembly, and the lemon curd only has four ingredients.  This meal was fitting for an elegant summer soiree and a chilled glass of white wine, yet it took no more effort than a Rachel Ray thirty-minute meal, which is good because word of tasty food travels quickly and soon I had seven hungry friends to feed.

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Hungry friends are always welcome though because they do the dishes:

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Lemon Artichoke Ravioli with Chili and Baby Peas
original recipe from food52.com

Ravioli Filling

  • 250 grams, fresh ricotta
  • 1 small jar, artichokes, or half a large can
  • 1 Lemon, zested
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 20 Square Wonton Skins
For “sauce”
  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons Red chili flakes
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 handful baby peas, fresh or frozen
  1. Mix artichoke, ricotta, 1/2 the lemon zest, salt and pepper for filling.
  2. Turn saucepan on low and add oil, pepper flakes, and shallot.
  3. Place a small amount of filling in the center of each wonton skin,and wet the edges. Gently press the edges together to seal.
  4. Carefully place another skin over it and seal the edges. When they are all done, bring a saucepan to a gentle boil and add a few ravioli at a time.(I use my spider to “hold” them since they are pretty delicate)
  5. Cook for 5 minutes When ravioli are done, add the peas to the oil and stir until the peas are heated through.
  6. Spoon some of the sauce over the ravioli. Add the rest of the lemon zest. Makes about 10 large ravioli.

Lemon Curd Pie:  recipe coming soon!

Raw-Vegan Neapolitan Cheesecake

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Welcome to the Enchilada Library! What is it, you ask? It’s a quasi food blog, but more of an indulgent space to pour thoughts with an emphasis on food porn (aka tasty looking food pictures, mom) and things that make me feel good. It looks like a food blog, but tastes more like a good conversation over a steaming cup of almond milk chai.

The more I cook, the more I realize the importance of food not just as a means for sustenance, but as a medium for communication and gathering. I like to think of food in four basic components, each one integral in forming what I consider truly “whole” food: the recipe, the ingredients, the preparation, and the enjoyment.  Recipes are the soul of the food, if you will; they are that something extra that makes food more than just the sum of its parts.

Now allow me to contradict myself; I hate recipes. Well, really I just hate measuring things – especially flour. Yet I can’t help but feel as though recipes are restrictive and often times forced. So to sooth my neuroses, I’ll stretch the definition of ‘recipe’: a recipe can be any intention one has before cooking, whether that looks like a page from the “Joy of Cooking” or a craving for peanut butter cookies. A  recipe is the knowledge that, “this is going to be good,” and the anticipation that follows.  That said, please take all recipes that I post here as suggestions and inspiration rather than strict formats; chances are I didn’t follow them either.

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The structure of the food, of course, is the ingredients themselves. The topic of ‘what I choose to eat’ tends to splinter my mind into a thousand tiny fiber thoughts, “who grew this bell pepper?”, “how far did it travel to get here?”, “where are bell peppers from originally, and am I adapted to eat them?” , “what the hell is the point of green bell peppers, anyways?” and so on. They are all worthy questions to be certain, but for fear of dogmatic ranting I’ll stop there for now. For those of us that could spend bewildered hours in the grocery store turning over labels, let’s simplify; as Micheal Pollan, one of my favorite food authors puts it, ” eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.” For me, that means eating seasonal, local produce as much as possible and letting the quality of the ingredients be the focal point of the dishes which I prepare. Simplicity does not, however, negate creativity. To the contrary, the more I narrow my focus of what I want to eat, the more the spectrum of possibilities seems to broaden. That’s how we end up with things like raw vegan cheesecake – who knew that cashews, coconut oil, honey, lemon, and vanilla could make a rich and creamy filling that rival the “real” thing?

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You know that feeling you get when you have a really great idea? The welling up of excitement in your chest that rises to your brain until the thought nearly jumps out of your imagination? Growing up, I never understood why I couldn’t paint my whole room blue the instant I dreamed it up. And I still don’t. That’s why cooking is so wonderful; it gratifies the impulsive and impatient creativity that wants to start something, and finish it, now. It also satisfies the more thoughtful side of me that wants to linger and enjoy the process, to “stop and smell the caramelizing onions.”

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The juiciest part of the “whole” food is the pleasure of enjoying the final product, and food is always better when shared. What’s the fun in telling a really great joke if no one is around to laugh at it? And what’s the point in taking five hours to make a raw vegan cheesecake if it wasn’t to be devoured by six starving nineteen-year-old boys before they even had the chance to ask what it was?

Take the time to crave something, give your impatience something to savor, take pictures of your food, and invite some friends over to polish it off.

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Raw Vegan  Neopolitan Cheesecake – recipe adapted from choosingraw.com

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 2 cups pitted medjool dates
For the filling

  • 3 cups cashews
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2/3 cups melted coconut oil
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half, seeds scraped out for use, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup strawberries ( I used frozen raspberries in this version)
  • 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  1. Soak the cashews in water overnight or for three or more hours. Drain them of water and set aside.
  2. Place the almonds and sea salt in a food processor and grind roughly. Add the dates and process until the mixture is uniform and sticks together when you squeeze a bit in the palm your hand. Press mixture evenly onto the bottom of a 9” springform pan.
  3. Use a high speed blender or food processor (high speed blender is preferable) to blend all filling ingredients except for the strawberries thoroughly, until silky smooth. If you’re working with a processor, you may need to stop often to scrape it down.
  4. Divide the filling into thirds (as you can tell by the photo I am not very keen at division) Pour one third (the vanilla layer) of the filling mixture into the springform pan. Use an inverted spatula to smooth it over. Transfer to the fridge for thirty minutes or more to let this layer set.
  5. Blend the strawberries into one third of the reserved filling mixture. Set it aside in a bowl while the first layer is setting. Blend the remaining third with the melted baking chocolate. Once the first layer has been in the fridge for thirty minutes or longer, spread the strawberry layer over the plain vanilla layer. Again let the strawberry layer set and then add the chocolate filling on top. Transfer whole cheesecake to the freezer for 3 hours then store in the fridge. Slice and enjoy!