Nathan & Nora’s Infinite Playlist

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I just started watching “Upload”on Amazon. It’s a sci-fi comedy series set in a completely automated future in 2033 centering around Nathan Brown, a handsome and eccentric coder who meets his untimely death in a self-driving car accident. In this universe, in lieu of dying, people can choose to “upload” themselves and their memories online to an afterlife-like cloud game owned by super-corporation, Horizen. You essentially live in this afterlife universe where you can “buy” In-N-Out combo meals, talking therapy dogs, and live in elite lake view accommodations, with the appropriate funds, of course, and “live” amongst other fellow upload-ers and still communicate with the living (and have VR sex with them, too). Every uploader has a Horizen-employee handler “angel” that assists them whenever prompted. Nathan’s “angel” is Nora, a helpless romantic from New York who is falling for Nathan, hard. And it appears, Nathan might be falling for her, too, despite having a still-alive super-controlling girlfriend, Ingrid (who is solely responsible for Nathan’s account and honestly is just terrible). To avoid anymore spoilers, I won’t go into it anymore, but it’s definitely worth a watch.

Portland just experienced its first weekend of summer-like weather, and I’m just not ready for it. I’m still enjoying the mild 60s temps where I can wear a peignoir to bed, but still have a light blanket if needed. Just before we hit near 90-degree weather, I cooked up this rich chocolate zucchini cake with creamy two-ingredient chocolate frosting. I stan this cake and Nathan and Nora’s VR relationship.

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake w/ Chocolate-Coconut Frosting
Yields two 9-inch cakes
Recipe by A Streetcar Named Devour

FOR THE CAKE

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend
1/2 cup gluten-free almond flour
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
3 cups zucchini, grated (about 2 large zucchini)
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1 3/4 cup coconut sugar
4 flaxseed eggs (4T flaxseed + 10T water)
1/2 cup non-dairy yogurt
1 1/2t pure vanilla extract
1 cup non-dairy chocolate chips

METHOD
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and dust with flour. Set aside.

Sift and combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Place grated zucchini in a blender and blend till creamy.

In a large bowl, cream the sugar and oil then add in the blended zucchini. Add in the flax eggs, yogurt and vanilla. Cream till fully incorporated.

Gradually stir in the dry ingredients without over-mixing. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Evenly distribute the batter into the two pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, depending upon your oven’s settings.

FOR THE FROSTING

INGREDIENTS
1 cup whole-fat canned coconut milk
1 package (10 ounces) vegan chocolate chips I like these
1/2t kosher salt

METHOD
Place the coconut milk and chocolate chips in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Mix with a rubber spatula till completely melted and incorporated. Add in the salt. Place melted chocolate mixture into a bowl and allow to cool in the refrigerator. The frosting is ready to whip when it’s no longer pourable (from 1.5 to 2 hours).

Once the mixture is ready for whipping, place it in an electric mixer and whip till light and fluffy (about 5 mins). Frosting is ready to use (or lick from the spoon, your choice)!

Call Me Miss Honey Lavender Stracciatella

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I’ve been binge-watching LogoTV’s RuPaul’s Drag Race for the past month. All seven seasons. It’s an addiction I’m very happy to admit. I love me some drag queens and especially love me some RuPaul.

(PS: How has she not aged an ounce?! Get it, mama Ru!)

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I remember watching RuPaul’s talk show (The RuPaul Show) on Vh1 in the late-90s. I was in middle school when it aired, and was so enamored by Ru. What a talent, I thought; you couldn’t keep your eyes off her. I was a fan of hers then and am an even bigger fan of her now. The Drag Race competition show is such a guilty pleasure of mine. I watch it while I’m getting dressed for work, while I’m cooking, and when I unwind after getting off from work. And while most shows lose their luster after each season, Drag Race does quite the opposite: it gains more fans and attention with every year.

When I was deciding to make a new ice cream for this week’s post I immediately turned to my mini garden I’ve been working on for the past 3 months. One of my favorite things I’m growing right now is lavender. The aroma is so soothing and delicious; I so desperately have been wanting an excuse to cook with it.

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My idea was to create a honey lavender ice cream with a twist–add some chocolate. Dark chocolate and lavender go so well together, I didn’t want to turn down the opportunity to pair these flavors for this ice cream flavor. And instead of simply adding chips, I wanted to make a stracciatella-type ice cream. The soft, mellow taste from the lavender ice cream immediately reach your taste buds, and then these quick yet small bursts of chocolate melt in your mouth and add a lasting finish. Both flavors are undeniably perfect together, much like RuPaul and Michelle Visage!

And how great of a drag queen name is Honey Lavender Stracciatella? It’s mine now!

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Honey Lavender Stracciatella Ice Cream
Yields 1 quart

INGREDIENTS
4 cups whole milk, divided
3 Tablespoons lavender buds, dried
6 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
6 large egg yolks
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup 60% dark chocolate chips (or bar cut into chunks)

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METHOD
In a small pot, heat 2 cups of the milk till just-scalding.

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Place the lavender buds in a separate medium-sized pan (preferable shallow).

When the milk is scalding, quickly remove from the heat and pour into the shallow pan with the lavender buds. This will “shock” the lavender and immediately extract all of the essential oils you want to obtain to get the greatest amount of flavor. Turn on the heat to medium-low and whisk occasionally to avoid scorching. Add in the honey and salt. Allow flower buds to steep in the heated milk for about an hour, adjusting the heat if it gets too hot or cool.

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In a separate mixing bowl, place the egg yolks and whisk rigorously till thickened. Add in the sugar and continue to whisk to thicken.

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After the lavender/milk mixture has steeped for about an hour, strain the milk with a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the flowers. Return half of the milk into the shallow pan, turning the heat up to medium. Place about 1/4 of the strained milk slowly into the egg/sugar mixture. This is called “tempering” the eggs. You’re essentially heating up the eggs very slowly avoiding to curdling them. Whisk and slowly add in more of the lavender/milk liquid until the mixture is warmed.

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Then add the egg yolk/milk mixture into the shallow pan, incorporating it with the rest of the heated lavender/milk base. Whisk the mixture constantly, making sure not to overcook the eggs. Adjust the heat and/or remove the pan from the heat to maintain an even cooking temperature. Once the mixture has thickened to the point where the mixture coats the back of a spoon, it’s done. Immediately transfer to a shallow bowl and place on top of an ice bath to cool down.

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(Cook’s note: If you see the sides of the pan start to “cook” you’ve overcooked your eggs and must immediately remove from the heat and strain the mixture and place in an ice bath to cool down. When you overcook the mixture you’ll end up with a scrambled egg-tasting ice cream base, or even worse, scrambled eggs!)

Once the mixture has cooled down, remove from the ice bath. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it into the refrigerator to cool down for an additional 3 hours, overnight if possible.

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Pour your ice cream base into your ice cream maker when you’re ready to churn it. Follow churning process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When you have about 30 minutes left of churning, set up a double boiler, and place the chocolate chips into a heat-resistant bowl to melt the chocolate.

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While the ice cream is churning, slowly drizzle in the melted chocolate. The circular motion from the churning will create “shards” from the chocolate once it’s frozen. Which is exactly what “stracciatella” means in Italian:,“little shreds” or “little tears.”

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Cover and place the ice cream into the freezer and allow to firm for at least 3 hours.

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(Editor’s Note: All TV show screenshots in this story are property of World of Wonder Productions.)