Friday, October 19, 2018

sweet potato streusel loaf.

I did not intend on buying another pie book.  As much as I love pie, I have a love hate relationship with baking them.  Mostly because I suck at crimping pie edges.   One can't be good at everything.   

But alas, I did, because it's the Sister Pie Cookbook and when Tyler and I went to Detroit I fell in love with their shop.   It was cute and quirky and all of their baked goods were awesome.  It's an ode to the classic American bakery but with a twist - pies with local and seasonal fruit, peanut butter cookies with paprika, and savory scones.  It's everything I love nestled in corner shop on a street with really beautiful old homes.  

This book is great.  Especially now that we have gone from 80 degree and bare leg weather to me reaching for sweaters and a coat every-time I leave the apartment.  I'm not complaining.  It's baking, nesting, reading on the couch with a cup of tea and piece of this loaf weather.       

The technique used in the recipe for this loaf is awesome.  Throw all the loaf ingredients in a bowl and let rest over night.  This breaks down the oats and gives the whole thing a bit of tangy-fermented taste.  I love the juxtaposition of savory-ish cake with the sweet streusel topping.   The nuggets of cream cheese and sweet potato just make it fall.  And that's kind of all I want right now.   

Sweet Potato Streusel Loaf
Recipe from Sister Pie Cookbook

This freezes very well.  Slice before you freeze so you can have a piece whenever you want.

For the Sweet Potatoes

12 ounces of sweet potatoes (skin-on) scrubbed and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Cake

1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup full-fat yogurt
1 large egg
1/3 cup oil (canola, grapeseed, etc.)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the Streusel 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter straight from the fridge cut into 1/2 inch cubes 

To Finish

4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling.

Roast your sweet potatoes.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Place the sweet potato cubes on a baking sheet and toss evenly with the olive oil, brown sugar, and salt.  Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes or fork tender.  Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.   You can prepare the sweet potatoes up to 2 days in advance and store in an airtight container in the fridge.  

Mix the batter: In a medium bowl whisk the buttermilk, yogurt, egg, oil, sugar, and vanilla until well mixed and smooth.   In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, whole wheat, and spelt flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice, cinnamon, and ginger.  Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients, using a silicone spatula to gently fold them together until no dry spots remain.   Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and place in the refrigerator overnight.   

White the batter hydrates, make the streusel.  Combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.   Place the butter in the bowl and coat on all sides with the flour mixture.  Work to break up the cubes with your fingers and continue to cut the butter into the flour under the streusel resembles wet sand.   You can make the streusel up to 2 days in advance.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x5 inch load pan with parchment.   Butter your parchment.  Spoon 1/3 of the batter into your parchment lined pan.  Top with 1/3 of your sweet potato cubes and 1/2 the cream cheese cubes - press the cubes down into the batter.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Pour in another 1/3 of the batter and top with another 1/3 of your sweet potato cubes and the remaining cream cheese cubes.  Again, press the cubes gently into the batter and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Top with the remaining 1/3 of the batter and the rest of your sweet potato cubes.  Gently press the remaining sweet potato cubes into the batter.  Distribute the streusel evenly over the loaf making sure to press down to adhere.   

Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 35 - 45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Slice into 1 inch thick slices.  Remaining cake can be stored in the fridge for up 2 days or in the freezer for a month.   

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

applesauce cake with cream cheese and maple frosting.

September is essentially gone.  Tyler and I spent the majority of it on a most epic road-trip across the Southwest.  It was therapeutic and eye-opening and we came back from the desert to our dog and perfect fall weather and now, all I can think about is apple desserts and pasta bakes.  

I made this applesauce cake last weekend.  I liked that it was one-bowl and had frosting.   I also liked that the author of said recipe was Julia Turshen.  If you don’t know her you should rush out to buy her cookbooks and then follow her on Instagram.   She is a superwoman badass with the most adorable dogs and equally adorable wife.   She spends a lot of her time finding ways to support under-represented chefs and cooks, volunteering at different community organizations, and encouraging people to vote.   Also her food is the kind of simple, no-fuss but really delicious stuff everyone craves (and her recipes always work as written).   Basically she’s my idol.  

This cake is great.  I see myself making it a lot – for impromptu parties or just because it’s Tuesday. The frosting is just the right combination of tangy and sweet.  The cake is impossibly moist.  It’s exactly what you want from a fall dessert.      

Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese & Maple Frosting
Recipe tweaked ever so slightly from Julia Turshen

The original recipe uses honey in the frosting.  I like honey but I really love maple syrup so you can most certainly guess which I used.  

For the Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, kefir, or plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce (Homemade please!)
1/3 cup canola or other neutral oil

For the Frosting

6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbsp sour cream or labneh
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
Pinch of kosher salt

For the cake:  Preheat your oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Set the pan aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and baking soda. Add the eggs, sugar, buttermilk, applesauce, and oil and whisk gently just until everything is combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared pan and then smooth the surface so it is even.

Bake the cake until it is just barely firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Set the cake aside on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Use a dinner knife to loosen the edges of the cake from the pan sides and then invert it onto your work surface. Peel off and discard the parchment. Invert the cake one more time onto a serving platter.

For the frosting:  In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, honey, and salt and whisk together aggressively until the cream cheese is slightly aerated (you can also do this with a handheld electric mixer or in a stand mixer).

Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and don’t worry too much about making this perfect. I think a not-too-perfect cake is so much better than a perfect cake. Cut into wedges and serve. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

tomatoes with spiced yogurt sauce, feta, and pistachios.

August.  (This is joy, this is summer.  Frank Ocean)

I haven’t been cooking so much as assembling things on a plate and avoiding the oven.  It’s been a fun game of figuring out how many ways you can eat raw corn and tomatoes (the answer is a lot of ways).  Most of my dinner inspiration has come from the Six Seasons cookbook.  If you don’t own it, I highly suggest you rush out to buy it.  It’s by far my most used cookbook and an endless source of ideas.  Joshua McFadden just gets vegetables much in the same way Yotam Ottolenghi does (his vegetable books are also fantastic).   He understands why pairing in-season produce with different textures and flavors will also result in a dish that is exciting.   

In taking inspiration from his cookbook, I’ve been challenging myself to come up with my own hot weather salads.  This dish was born from that challenge.   Sliced heirloom tomatoes are drizzled with a spiced yogurt sauce, pistachios, feta, and herbs.  The whole thing comes together in about 10 minutes and works as a side to sausages or BBQ chicken.  On its own, it also makes an excellent dinner for one on a hot summer night.   

Tomatoes with Spiced Yogurt Sauce, Feta, and Pistachios

3 -4 Medium sized heirloom tomatoes (or a combination of regular tomatoes and cherry tomatoes)
¼ cup yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of ½ a lemon
¼ tsp. Aleppo Pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
2 – 3  tablespoons toasted pistachios, chopped
¼ cup crumbled feta 
Mint leaves for garnish

In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, yogurt, aleppo, salt, and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  The yogurt should be runny like half and half.  If too thick, add more lemon juice or a little water.   

Slice the tomatoes (or quarter if using cherry tomatoes) and arrange on a platter.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with yogurt sauce and olive oil.  Sprinkle pistachios, feta, and mint leaves over the top.   Serve with bread for sopping up juices.   

Monday, July 16, 2018

blueberry, spelt, and oat scones.

If you are fortunate enough to find yourself invited to someone's house for the weekend, I strongly suggest you bring these.   

These are not cinnamon rolls or doughnuts or the kind of thing small children beg for.  They are not coated in sugar or filled with white flour.   They are instead the kind of scone I've always wanted.  Nutty, dense, and packed full of ingreadients that leave you full but not heavy.   They still taste good on day 3 (especially if you wrap them in tin foil and reheat for about 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven).   They have seasonal fruit and almond butter and can be baked directly from the freezer which is a good thing if you find yourself getting invited to the Hamptons, Jersey Shore, or somewhere else at the very last minute.   

Blueberry, Spelt, and Oat Scones
Recipe from the Violet Bakery Cookbook

2 cups whole grain spelt flour, plus more for rolling
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice or lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange zest or lemon zest
4 heaped tablespoons (about 3.5 oz.) almond butter
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. To make the scones, whisk together the spelt flour, oat flour, sea salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the agave and maple syrup, the orange juice and zest and the almond butter. Pour in the melted coconut oil and whisk together. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients along with the blueberries. Mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.

Allow the dough to rest for five minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rectangle about 1 1/2-inch thick. Cut the rectangle into 12 triangles (I usually cut into 6 "squares" and then cut each square in half on the diagonal).  Chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes until slightly golden. Serve immediately or let cool and freeze.  They are good from the freezer and reheated. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

spicy lamb meatballs with raisin pesto.

Over the last couple of weeks we've started (once again) eating alfresco.  When you're four flights up facing a courtyard and surrounded by herbs and twinkly lights, you no longer feel as if you are in the city, it feels as if you are somewhere else.   Drinking cocktails, eating the latest farmers market offerings, and watching the sun set - it's magical. 

Dinners, as is typical of me this time of year, revolves around small plates of different things.  Fresh farmers market vegetable salads, really good cheeses, and occasionally local meat.   We recently got a phenomenal butcher in our hood and it's been fun trying their offerings (we are big fans of their cheesesteak sausages).   I love the fact that when you go in for ground meat, it has actually just been ground.  It's such a novel and old fashioned concept.   

I made these meatballs with the aforementioned freshly ground lamb and I have to say, these are just insanely good.  The meatballs are spicy and come together quickly but it's the raisin pesto that I want to eat by the spoonful.  Salty, sweet, herb-y, it pairs brilliantly with the lamb and yogurt.   This will be my Summer 2018 repeat dish.   

Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Raisin Pesto
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit 

For the Meatballs

1 large egg
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes or aleppo pepper (if using aleppo increase to 1/2 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. sumac (optional)
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 clove of garlic 
1 lb. ground lamb

For the Pesto

1/2 cup parsley leaves with tender stems
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cups mint leaves
1/2 cup cilantro
3 Tbsp. golden raisins
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp. pomogranatte molasses
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
Black to pepper to taste

Plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (for serving)

Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 425°. Combine egg, panko, cumin, red pepper flakes, turmeric, sumac, finely chopped parsley,  oil, and 1½ tsp. salt in a large bowl. Finely grate 1 garlic clove into bowl. Add lamb and mix with your hands until evenly distributed.

Gently roll lamb mixture into 1½"-diameter balls (about the size of a golf ball; you should have about 20). Place on a rimmed baking sheet, spacing evenly apart. Bake meatballs until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree parsley, pistachios, garlic, mint, cilantro, raisins, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, salt and pepper, and a 1/4 cup olive oil in a blender until smooth. Taste pesto; season with more salt if needed - if too thick, add more olive oil.

Spread yogurt over plates and divide pesto and meatballs on top. Top with sesame seeds if desired.  

Do Ahead: Pesto can be made 2 days ahead; cover and chill. Meatballs can be formed 2 months ahead; freeze on baking sheet until firm, about 2 hours, then transfer to a freezer bag and keep frozen.

Friday, June 8, 2018

anthony bourdain. thanks for being you.

The death of Anthony Bourdain really hit me.  I ready Kitchen Confidential what feels like a decade ago (now I think about it it most definitely was a decade ago).  The book was shocking but I loved its honesty when it came to the underground world of the restaurant industry.  Anthony Bourdain was a badass, fearless, and completely unapologetic about who he was as a person and as a chef.   He was forthcoming about his struggles with drugs, alcohol, and depression and in a world where so many people try and constantly paint an unrealistically rosy picture of their life, Anthony was a breath of fresh air.  He told it like it was.   

My dad, like Anthony Bourdain, taught me to seek out off the beaten path food no matter the location.   BBQ restaurants that look like shacks on the side of a highway in Delaware, hole-in-the-wall empanada spots, BYOB fish-fry restaurants in former dark wood-paneled bars.   Anthony Bourdain made it cool to travel far and wide in search of food that told the story of a place.   He taught you to be adventurous and daring and above all to live fearlessly with an open mind and an open stomach.   I will miss him and his voice.