Surprisingly enough, my favorite Valentine’s days have been spent with friends. There is so much hype around the day of romance, that it is much more fun to throw tradition aside and spend the day with all the people you love, not only your significant other. This year, I’m going to miss out on our annual Valentine’s brunch, but instead, I had a “virtual brunch” with an old friend. I brought the coffee cake.
Natalie and I have been friends since the good ole days of Girl Scouts, sleepovers, and pool parties. It’s been a while since we have seen each other, but we recently reconnected through our love of food! She is a great cook and I can attest to her great dinner recipes, especially her saffron chicken that’s on her blog, Tastes Lovely.
Sadly, our daily summer pool days are gone, but we somehow manage to have fun catching up over a great meal. When did we become so grown up?
Since we didn’t actually meet for brunch, I didn’t have to kindly decline Natalie’s French press coffee. But I’m sure if I did like coffee, it would be delicious. Since I never talk about coffee on here (I learned at a young age about not saying anything when you don’t have anything nice to say), go check out her favorite way to make a cup of jo! Over our brunch, we talked about some of our favorite Valentine’s memories. Here is what Natalie had to say…
What is your favorite way to spend Valentine’s Day?
My favorite way to spend Valentine’s Day is on a mini vacation somewhere. My birthday is the 17th, and it always falls on President’s Day weekend. Lucky me! So Shawn and I usually plan a little trip away for the long weekend to celebrate Valentine’s Day and my birthday. It’s either skiing in the mountains or wine tasting in wine country, depending on the weather. Trying to battle the crowds is too stressful on Valentine’s Day, so we stay in and I cook us a fancy dinner, usually surf & turf steak and shrimp, Shawn’s favorite. And of course there is a bottle of champagne…or two : )
What are your plans for this year?
This year for Valentine’s Day we are renting a beach house in Bodega Bay, CA and going up for the long weekend with my sister & her husband, and another couple we’re good friends with. I can’t wait! The house has a wrap around deck and floor to ceiling windows with views of the ocean and the golf course. The boys are excited because they recently became obsessed with golf, and the girls are excited for fun days shopping in town. Each couple is taking a turn cooking dinner each night. Shawn and I are cooking the meal on Valentine’s Day. I’m thinking seared scallops served with a parmesan and leek risotto. Yum!
What’s been your favorite Valentine’s gift?
My husband and I are not big on giving and receiving gifts, our love language is time spent together. One year Shawn planned a surprise Valentine/birthday weekend away at his Uncle’s cabin in Twain Harte, CA. There wasn’t much snow that year, so skiing was out. We wandered around the area and stumbled upon the most adorable little wine town called Murphy’s. On President’s Day Weekend they do an event where you buy a glass for $15, and it gets you free wine tasting at all of the wineries for the entire weekend! The wineries also pair their wine with small bite plates, and there is live music on every corner. It was one of the funnest weekends I can remember! Don’t you just love when you don’t plan things, and they turned out better than you could have planned if you tried? We have gone back for the same event the last 3 years in a row.
Head on over to her blog if you want to hear what I had to say!
If you too want to catch up with a friend for brunch this Valentine’s day, here’s what you should bring.
Start by making your raspberry filling.
Cook until it turns into a jelly consistency.
Make your cake batter.
Mix the butter with the dry ingredients.
Mix the liquids together. And now combine them with the flour mixture.
Make the topping.
Bake and let it cool.
And now enjoy with a friend! And a cup of tea…or maybe even a French press coffee…whichever you prefer.
- 2 cups raspberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/8 cup butter
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup quark (or sour cream or greek yogurt)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4- 1/2 cup almond meal (or swap in chopped nuts of choice)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- For the filling, add all of the ingredients into a small pot. Heat on medium, until the raspberries start to become jelly-like. This should take about 5-10 minutes. Set aside.
- For the cake, combine all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and use a pastry cutter to combine them. If you don't have a pastry cutter (like me!), use two knives to cut in opposite directions, until the butter is in very small pieces. In a small bowl, combine the egg, quark, and vanilla and stir it together. Add the egg mixture to the flour/butter mixture and hand mix until combined.
- For the topping, hand mix all the ingredients together. Using a fork is an easy way to combine the butter with the dry ingredients.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8x8 square pan with butter.
- Now it's time to layer your cake. First, layer in the cake batter. It is on the thick side, so you might need to wet your hands and press it into place. Next, pour the raspberries filling over the cake batter (I reserved about 1/2 cup to serve with, but you can also put it all in the cake). Last, sprinkle on the topping. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.