Capellini al Pomodoro

(a.k.a. Presidential Pasta)

In 2021, Joseph R. Biden Jr. celebrated his first Presidents’ Day as the president of the United States. We Googled what some of his favorite foods were so we could cook them in observance of this national holiday. The Washington Post reported that capellini al pomodoro (angel hair pasta mixed in a tomato basil sauce) was his most requested dish when he went on speaking engagements for which he would earn up to $200,000US!!! Here are some headlines:

Eater.com: “Joe Biden just can’t get enough angel hair pasta”

TheWeek.com: “Joe Biden is contractually obligated to receive angel hair pomodoro at every paid speech”

Obviously, pasta pomodoro is the president’s comfort food. After all, his Italian-American wife, Dr. Jill Biden, cooked it for him throughout their marriage. So we cooked capellini al pomodoro, too, for a delicious dinner on Presidents’ Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Delish.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 medium tomatoes (around 4 cups), diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped finely (plus more to garnish)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the pasta al dente or as directed on the package. Drain the hot cooked pasta but reserve about half a cup to make the tomato-basil sauce. Meanwhile, chop the onions and dice the tomatoes.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Sauté the onions and minced garlic until soft and fragrant. Mix in the tomatoes and stir to release the juices. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Stir in the chopped basil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the pasta and mix well. Pour a little bit of the reserved salted pasta water and stir to make a sauce (add more or less to taste). Stir again to coat the pasta with the sauce. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and garnish with extra chopped fresh basil leaves. Serve hot.

Notes

  • We halved the recipe to feed just the two of us.
  • Search our blog under the Theme Menus tab for other presidential and patriotic recipes.

 

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with

Chocolate Avocado Frosting

February: National Chocolate Lovers Month and National Heart Month

When we had our last family reunion in Hawaii (pre-pandemic), we brought souvenirs from Texas and Islander’s second cousin Gabriel A. (son of her late cousin Clara A.) brought “pasalubong” from the Philippines. As we were packing to go back home, we all had suitcases stuffed with souvenirs plus more gifts from Hawaii! We always return with more than we came with and must mail back a box or two.

Gabriel brought pili nuts, corn nuts, yema candies, polvorones, biscuits/cookies and other Filipino foods. Islander grabbed the organic powdered chocolate packets he brought from Davao, which she eventually used to make chocolate avocado cupcakes with chocolate avocado frosting back on the mainland.

The chocolate cupcakes are healthier because they are made with avocados, which are very nutritious, and help keep the cupcakes moist and the frosting creamy. This recipe is appropriate to make during National Chocolate Lovers Month and National Heart Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from “Veggie  Desserts + Cakes” by Kate Hackworthy)

For the chocolate avocado cupcakes

  • 1 ripe avocado, large
  • 3 tablespoons butter, unsalted, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions

Peel and pit the avocado and place in a large mixing bowl. Beat until there are no lumps. Add the butter and continue beating until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla.

Beat in the eggs. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter and scoop into 12 cupcake paper liners. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Meanwhile, make the chocolate avocado frosting.

For the chocolate avocado frosting

  • 1 ripe avocado, large
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon strong coffee (we used instant Kona coffee)
  • Mini chocolate chips, semi sweet

Directions

Peel and pit the avocado and place in a large mixing bowl. Beat until there are no lumps. Add the cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla and continue to stir.

Mix in the coconut oil, salt and coffee until creamy.

Refrigerate the frosting until it is no longer runny with the oils and it is a spreadable consistency (about an hour). Decorate the cupcakes and sprinkle some mini chocolate chips on top. Keep cool until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Thanks to Gabriel A. for the organic cocoa powder from Davao, Philippines.
  • See a similar recipe for chocolate avocado truffles here
  • Search for more chocolate recipes under our Theme Menus tab.

Cherry Almond Scones

February: National Cherry Month and National Almond Month

If anyone has noticed through our blog posts over the decade, we eat a lot of scones and enjoy trying out new recipes so we can taste different types for teatime. We had leftover dried tart cherries from another recipe that we needed to use before they expired. So we tried cherry almond scones. We loved the combination of the sweet-tart taste of the fruit and the complementary crunchy texture of the nuts. This recipe is a keeper and is now archived in the Theme Menus scones section! Cherry almond scones are perfect for teatime, breakfast/brunch and snack time and especially during National Cherry Month and National Almond Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from Bob’s Red Mill)

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries, chopped
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup butter, cold unsalted, cut into small pieces
  • ¾ cup heavy cream plus 2 tablespoons for glazing
  • ¼ cup almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, raw

Directions

Toast the almond slices by heating them in a small skillet, mixing them until slightly brown. Remove from the skillet and let cool. Chop the dried cherries and set aside. Grind the turbinado sugar with a mortar and pestle until fine. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the all purpose and cake flours, baking powder, salt and turbinado sugar. Add in the pieces of butter and gently mix with a pastry cutter until there are coarse pea-sizes in the flour mixture.

Add the toasted almond slices and chopped cherries in the flour mixture. In a measuring cup, mix together ¾ cup heavy cream and almond extract. Pour this into the flour mixture. Stir gently until a sticky dough forms.

Transfer to a clean, floured surface. Form the dough into a ball and pat down into a 1-inch disk about 8 inches in diameter. Cut into 8 wedges. Place on parchment paper lined round baking pan. Glaze the tops of the wedges by brushing with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream. Sprinkle raw sliced almonds on each wedge.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 20-22 minutes, being careful not to burn the nuts on top. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3 days.

Notes

  • If turbinado sugar is not available, use plain cane sugar.
  • If cake flour is not available, use all purpose flour. The original recipe called for 2 cups of pastry flour, which is the equivalent of half all purpose and half cake flour.
  • February 17 is National Almond Day.
  • Search under the Theme Menus tab in our blog for more scones recipes.