Saturday, June 29, 2013

blueberry crumble pie.

My better half was born and raised in Maine which means he has a strong affinity for hockey, swimming in lakes, lobster and corn on the cob, and any all things involving blueberries.  Maine takes their blueberries very seriously (they have a special breed of blueberries called wild blueberries that puts the blueberries from New York to shame I would know because I've been known to eat them pints at a time). The boy also takes his blueberries very seriously, so when a pie was requested by him once blueberry season arrived on the East Coast, I knew I had my work cut out for me.  

Making food for someone when they request it specifically is a daunting task, it usually stresses me out to no end.  I live in fear of giving someone a version of a dish that doesn't meet their expectations.  The horror!  Thankfully after dating someone for so long you tend to know their preferences better then your own (like their strong aversion for anything involving blue cheese and toasted sliced almonds).  This pie is an ode to the boy.  A buttery, flaky crust encapsulates a sweet blueberry filling that is elevated by the addition of lemon zest (some how the zest really brings out the flavor of the fruit).  The pie is topped with a spiced strussel to bring some extra zing and crunch to the pie (and let's be honest adding ginger and diced almonds is always a good idea when in the presence of blueberries).  The plate was licked clean which I am going to take as a good sign.  

Blueberry Crumble Pie
Crust recipe from Recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Filling and strussel recipe adapted a great deal from Bon Appetit 

For the Crust (makes enough dough for one double or two single crust pies or you can halve it)

2 ½ cups (315 grams) flour
1 tablespoons (15 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams, or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold

For the Filling

5 cups of blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon and juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the Strussel

1/4 cup almonds toasted and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt 
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly

To make the dough - Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl — I like to use a very wide one, so I can get my hands in — whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Get out your pastry blender.

Make your mix: Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop. Yes, even if it looks uneven; you’ll thank me later.

Glue it together: Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there (see how that big bowl comes in handy?). Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.

Pack it up: Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.

Do ahead: Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

To make the pie:  Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13" round. Transfer to pie dish, gently pressing dough onto bottom and up sides of dish. Fold overhang under and crimp edges decoratively. Pierce bottom of crust in several places with a fork, then chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  

Combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, and juice in a bowl about 30 minutes before baking.  You may need to stab some of the blueberries with a fork to get them to release some juices.  After 30 minutes add in the cornstarch to thicken the juices.  

Line crust with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until crust is set, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove parchment and pie weights. Bake until crust is pale golden, about 12 minutes longer. Transfer crust to a wire rack; let cool.

Make the strussel: Combine the almonds, flour, cinnamon, ginger, sugar, and salt in a bowl.  Pour the melted butter over it and mix topping with fingertips until blended and clumps form.  

To assemble the pie: Pour the blueberries into the cooled crust and spread it out so it forms an even layer.  Sprinkle topping over the blueberry filling.  Bake pie until filling is bubbling and topping is golden, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if browning too fast.

Let pie cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

whole wheat pizza dough.

I thought a delicious whole wheat pizza crust was an impossible thing to make. 

It turns out I was wrong (which makes me pleasantly surprised). 

This crust is everything a pizza crust should be  - it’s chewy and crispy, with a strong taste that develops as the dough rests in the fridge.   The nutty whole wheat flour gives an interesting texture and an added level of flavor that you don’t get from traditional white flour crusts.    I love pairing it with vegetables – thin slices of zucchini with basil and pecorino, blistered cherry tomatoes with ricotta and garlic oil (as seen to the left), or roasted peppers with chorizo and manchego.   The nuttiness balances out the sweetness of the vegetables (and the vegetables get super sweet and mellow as they cook in the oven). 

This will be a summer staple (actually it already is a summer staple) – I am already dreaming about a corn and tomato pizza with bacon and blue cheese.  Summer eating makes me swoon. 

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

The key here is to make sure your pizza pan is SUPER hot.  I suggest heating it at least 30 - 45 minutes before you want to cook.  It’s imperative if you want a super crispy crust! 

Makes 2 13-inch pizzas 

1 1/2 cups (8 1/4 ounces) whole-wheat flour
1 cup (5 1/2 ounces) bread flour
2 teaspoons honey
3/4 teaspoon instant or rapid rise yeast (I used active dry yeast and it worked fine for me)
1 1/4 cups ice water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt

To make the dough: Process whole wheat flour, bread flour, honey and yeast in food processor until combined, about 2 seconds.  With processor running, add water and process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds.  Let dough stand for 10 minutes.  

Add oil and salt to dough and process until it forms satiny, stick ball that clears sides of the workbowl, 45 to 60 seconds.  Remove from bowl and knead on oiled counter-top until smooth, about 1 minute.  Shape dough into a tight ball and place in a large, lightly oiled bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 18 hours or up to 2 days.  

To bake the pizza: One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack 4 1/2 inches from broiler element, set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.  Remove dough from refrigerator and divide in half. (At this point if you are only making 1 pizza you can place the other ball of dough in the freezer. Defrost on counter when ready to use.)  Shape each half into a smooth tight ball.  Place balls on lightly oiled baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart.  Cover loosely with plastic coated with vegetable oil spray.  Let stand for 1 hour.  

Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour and place on well floured counter-top.  Using your fingertips gently flatten into an 8-inch disk, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker then the center.  Lift edge of dough and using your back of hands and knuckles, gently stretch into a 12 inch round, working along edges and giving a quarter turns as you stretch.  Remove pizza stone from oven, and carefully place your pizza dough on your stone.  Top dough with toppings of your choice (work quickly!).  Return stone to the oven and bake the pizza for 8 - 10 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.  Let pizza rest for 5 minutes, slice and serve.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

vacation kitchen.

If I ever own a vacation home in the woods on the edge of lake - I want a kitchen like this.  A place where the light streams in and casts shadows on my gorgeous wood floors. A room that has a sliding glass door that leads to a patio filled with wrought iron furniture that I can sit on while I drink my coffee and eat my muffin and watch the sun rise over the lake.  A counter-top large enough for me to roll out buttery crusts for stone fruit pies that I would serve to friends and family each evening after we ate a dinner of heirloom tomato salad and assorted tacos.  

I am exhausted and delusional and dreaming about next week when I will be on vacation in Maine. I am also apparently dreaming about an imaginary vacation home.  

Image via Pinterest

Monday, June 24, 2013

charred peas, mortadella, and burnt ricotta.

In my eyes, peas always get the short end of the stick.  They always get regaled to being a component of a dish instead of being the main attraction and it’s sad because they are so cute and tasty.  Fresh peas in particular have the tendency to steal my heart (most notably because I am one of those bizarre people who adores shelling peas) and when their season arrives at the farmers market I find myself buying handfuls of them.  I usually end up with far more peas then one would ever need to include in a batch of samosa’s or in a springified version of spaghetti carbonara and for that reason I decided this year I needed to find a dish where the peas could be the shinning little green stars they always wanted to be.  I wanted a dish that could serve as a light dinner when accompanied by some crusty bread and a wedge of good cheese and when I found this dish I realized it was everything I could have ever wanted and so much more.  It’s light and bright but also smoky and substantial.  The lemon zest marries the flavors of the pork and cheese well and the charred peas lend a subtle sweetness to the plate.  It’s absurdly simple, comes together beyond quickly, and is also a one pan meal making it ideal for hectic weeknights. 

Charred Peas, Mortadella, and Burnt Ricotta
Recipe from Tasting Table

4-ounce piece mortadella cut into ½-inch cubes
4-ounces ricotta salata, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 cups fresh shelled peas (or 2 cups frozen)
2 tablespoons - ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (I found I didn’t need the full ¼ cup)
Zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
2 medium garlic cloves very finely chopped
¼ teaspoon kosher salt (plus ¼ more if you deem it necessary)
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until the skillet starts to smoke, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mortadella and stir occasionally. Once it starts to render its fat, after about 3 minutes, add the ricotta salata. Once the cheese begins to blacken around the edges, after about 3 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a large plate.

To the same skillet used for the mortadella and ricotta salata, add the peas. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the peas are blistered and charred, about 5 minutes. Drizzle the olive oil over the peas and return the mortadella and ricotta salata to the skillet along with the lemon zest, parsley and garlic. Season with the salt and pepper, divide among 4 plates and serve.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

new at the market.

Berries!  Cherries!  Fruits galore!  The markets in New York are bursting with beautiful things.  

It's that time of year where desserts should consist only of pies, fruit crumb bars, and fruit compote topped ice cream sundaes.  Breakfast should consist only of fancy fruit and yogurt parfaits, chock-full-of fruit muffins, and berry filled french toast.  

The first batch of fruit from the markets is always eaten by the handful.  I usually find myself shoveling berries in my mouth until my fingers are stained with their juices.  After that I move on to baking (and jam making).  A blueberry pie has been requested by the boy (with a ginger strussel topping) and I plan on remaking the rhubarb crostata with raspberries as was suggested in the original recipe.  

It's officially summer.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

rhubarb ricotta crostata.

This recipe won rave reviews and my Mom requested to keep a wedge of the leftovers which is kind of like getting a seal of approval from the most elite food jury.  (Let’s just say I went home beaming that day.)  This crostata is the epitome of summer outdoor eating (which is how we consumed it on Father’s Day).  The addition of whole wheat flour to the crust provides a wonderful nutty texture especially when paired with a creamy layer of ricotta.  The rhubarb filling is tart and sweet and a wonderful counterpart to the other components.  The best part of this dessert is that it requires nothing more than dollop of barely sweetened whipped cream, a shady spot to eat it in, and good company. 

Rhubarb Ricotta Crostata
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

For the crust

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk

For the fruit filling

2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups 1/2 inch – thick slices rhubarb (about 1 -1 ¼ pounds)
6 ounces strawberries (quartered) or raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon

For the ricotta

1 cup fresh ricotta (buy as local and homemade as possible)
¼ cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon
½ teaspoon of ginger

To make the crust: Combine both flours, sugar, and salt in a processor; blend for 5 seconds. Add butter; pulse until butter is reduced to pea-size pieces. Whisk egg and milk in a small bowl to blend; add to processor and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill at least 1 1/2 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

To make the filling: Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl; set aside. Combine rhubarb, strawberries or raspberries, lemon zest, and sugar in a large heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar dissolves and juices are released, about 6 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil (rhubarb will not be tender and slices will still be intact). Transfer to a bowl. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to use.

In a bowl combine the ricotta, sugar, juice of lemon, and ginger.  Stir to combine.  Taste and adjust ginger, lemon juice as necessary.

To prepare the crostata: Preheat oven to 400°. Roll out dough on floured parchment paper to 12" round.  Spread ricotta mixture around the base leaving 1 1/2" border.  Mound fruit filling in center of crust on top of ricotta. Gently fold edges of dough over filling, pleating as needed. Brush border with egg; sprinkle with raw sugar. Slide parchment with crostata onto a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes. Let crostata cool on baking sheet on a rack. Transfer crostata to a platter, cut into wedges, and serve with whipped cream (or ice cream).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

new at the market.

Garlic scapes are the new ramps or so I decided today as I was purchasing handfuls of them before 8 AM.  They are one of those obscure things that everyone who blogs about food raves about and once someone raves about something it only intensifies my desire for them until I reach that point where I find myself spending an endless number of hours trying to figure out how to get my hands on them.  Surprisingly these were fairly easy to procure which considering their aforementioned hype, I am still shocked about.  

Scapes smell like garlic and look like curly chives.  According to the blogosphere they make for a fine pesto.  But I am envisioning them as a topping for pizza or as a lovely spring addition to pasta carbonara. Personally I find them rather beautiful to simply look at.  Their curling nature makes them look like a tangled mass of green hair which is utterly mesmerizing   

Monday, June 17, 2013

spring pea guacamole.

As of late I’ve been a terribly strange eater.  Sit down meals with one main dish no longer interests me.   Instead I’ve become a person who solely wants to snack and graze on little assorted bites of food which is why our dinners have been composed of various vegetable dishes, a hunk of cheese, crunchy grilled bread, and if we are feeling particularly splurge worthy some prosciutto or salami.  I call this style of eating California style or European alfresco style and it perfectly suits the summer months (and begs to be served with a chilled glass of wine).  Most meals of this nature have taken on an Italian spin but lately I’ve been leaning towards a more Mexican style (since it goes so well with ice cold tequila and lime) which is why this guacamole is now in heavy rotation.  This version is the perfect elevated rift on the classic dish of mashed avocado.  The peas add a subtle sweetness that plays off the charred jalapeno and the topping of toasted pumpkin seeds provides a little crunch and smoky flavor.  I love serving this with homemade salsa and chips or wedges of melted cheese quesadillas and a large margarita on the rocks for the epitome of superb summer eating and the perfect end to a long hot day. 

Spring Pea Guacamole
Recipe from ABC Cocina via Tasting Table

The boy took me to ABC Cocina for my birthday (or rather I told him I wanted to eat at ABC Cocina for my birthday and I made a reservation and he was kind enough to pay).  We ate this guacamole there and I feel in love and then was lucky enough to find out that Tasting Table scored the recipe.   I highly recommend going to ABC Cocina if you get the chance  - they are doing some really amazing things with vegetables and Mexican/Spanish flavors.  I also recommend consuming as much of the hot sauce as humanly possible as it’s the perfect combination of citrus and heat.  Oh and the restaurant itself is beyond gorgeous and unbelievably romantic. 

¾ cup shelled sweet peas
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 medium jalapeño
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 ripe avocados--halved, pitted and peeled
3 scallions, white parts only, thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest, plus
¼ cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
Pinch sea salt
Tortilla chips, for serving

Fill a large bowl with ice and water. To a medium saucepan of boiling water, add the peas and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the whole cilantro leaves and cook just long enough to wilt them, about 5 seconds. Strain both the peas and cilantro into a fine-mesh sieve and plunge the sieve into the ice water to stop the cooking. Once the peas are cool, transfer them to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Place the cilantro in a few layers of paper towels and wring dry.

To a skillet set over medium-high heat, add the sunflower seeds and toast until fragrant and golden-brown, about 1 minute. Transfer the sunflower seeds to a medium plate. To the skillet, add the whole jalapeño. Cook, using tongs to turn it often, until the jalapeño is charred, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chile to a small bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes. Peel the charred skin from the jalapeño, remove the stem, halve the chile lengthwise and remove the seeds with the tip of a paring knife.

To the small bowl insert of a food processor (or using a small capacity food processor), add all but 2 tablespoons of the cooled peas, the blanched cilantro, the charred jalapeño and ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt. Pulse the mixture until it is coarsely chopped, about 20 one-second pulses. Transfer the pea mixture to a medium bowl.

To the peas, add the avocados, scallions, lime zest, lime juice and remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Mash with a fork. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the sunflower seeds, the remaining peas, the chopped cilantro and the pinch of sea salt. Serve with the tortilla chips.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I told the boy recently that in place of flowers (which ideally he would be buying me once a week but I'll be happy with every once in a while) he should start purchasing me succulents.  Now that we are on the second floor and have so much light, house plants (that I can hopefully keep alive) are my decor of choice.  They are the epitome of chic especially when kept in metallic pots like the below (which are such a great and easy DIY project) .  

Now if only I had my Mom's green thumb then they would probably last a lot longer then a month.  

Image via Pinterest.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

burrata, sugar snap peas, and grapefruit

This dish is an ode to California (I can't begin to describe how much I miss it) and Baco Mercat where I ate a similar version.  

This is the epitome of perfect summer eating.  Light, bright flavors anchored by something indulgent (and minimal cooking involved which is a welcome necessity in the summer months).  In this version it's crisp sugar snap peas, wedges of tart grapefruit, chunks of rich and creamy burrata (I am addicted and am refraining from calculating how much I've spent on burrata this month), crunchy croutons, and a tangy vinaigrette that brings the whole dish together.  I can't get enough of these flavors and textures.  

I plan on eating some version of this dish throughout the summer by simply changing the fruits and vegetables as the produce offerings change (peaches and corn! arugula and cherries! watermelon and feta!).  There is something both refreshing and satisfying about this kind of dish especially because there is an ease with which it can be made which is what makes it a perfect summer dish.  

Burrata, Sugar Snap Peas, and Grapefruit

Serves 2

2 cups sugar snap peas, stems trimmed and strings removed 
1 ruby red grapefruit, sectioned (here is a wonderful tutorial if you need it!) - Keep the middle of the grapefruit!
1 cup homemade croutons
1 ball of burrata or buffalo mozzarella
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Aleppo pepper to taste (optional)
Chives for garnish

Bring a small pot of water to boil.  When the water is boiling, add the sugar snap peas and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove the sugar snap peas from the water and immediately shock them in ice cold water to stop the cooking.  Dry the beans off, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and set them aside.  

To make the dressing squeeze the leftover middle of the grapefruit into a bowl to get out as much juice as possible.  You should be able to get a tablespoon or two (if you don't enough juice just squeese one of your grapefruit sections into the bowl).  Add to the bowl with the juice the sherry vinegar, olive oil, a pinch of Aleppo pepper (if using), and salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  

On two plates scatter the sugar snap peas.   Break the burrata up into pieces and scatter them onto the plate with the peas.  Top the burrata and sugar snap peas with the segments of grapefruit, croutons, and minced chives.  Spoon the vinaigrette over the dish. Garnish with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper  Serve immediately.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

new at the market.


I am one of those strange people who simply adores shelling peas.  Opening a pod and seeing all of the little peas lined up like soldiers is utterly adorable.  

Fresh peas are a beautiful thing.  I love using them for a creamy pesto to coat strands of spaghetti.  They are wonderful tossed in crunchy salads with a miso dressing.  They are magical in spaghetti carbonara.   

I am most excited to eat them in guacamole.  I imagine you are wondering how guacamole and peas go together but I promise you they do.  I had a guacamole like that at ABC Cocina when I was there for my birthday dinner it was absurdly good. I am now smitten.  

Recipe is coming by the end of this week...

Monday, June 10, 2013

rhubarb strawberry pudding cake.

There are cakes. The over the top three-tiered affairs covered in buttercream and sugared flowers that are served on china plates at fancy events. Then there are cakes. The homey, simple, grandma style cakes that are made with seasonal fruits and baked in glass dishes and served with barely sweetened whipped cream (if anything at all). While a fan of both, I simply adore the second variety.   There is a level of nostalgia associated with them.   Because of their simple nature, they are the kind of thing you can validate eating at the end of each meal.  They can be whipped up quickly and they always adapt to whatever seasonal fruit is on hand.  This pudding cake is my go to seasonal cake. It's rustic and comforting. The kind of thing you can eat curled up on the couch but also just as good in the company of friends at a dinner party. The cake itself is as simple as can be - a soft subtly sweet batter cake that is reminiscent of vanilla pudding.  As the cake bakes the fruit breaks down and forms jammy pockets of deliciousness that envelopes the pockets of pudding like cake.  The jammy pockets are what make this pretty perfect and a personal favorite .  

Rhubarb Strawberry Pudding Cake
Recipe from Gourmet

This cake is pretty perfect; I am already planning on making it with blueberries and raspberries as the summer progresses.  If using other berries you can omit the cooking part that is necessary here since you are using rhubarb.  Instead, let the fruit macerate while you prepare the cake (using a squeeze of lemon juice, the sugar, and the cornstarch).  If using blueberries I think almond extract would be wonderful.  I omitted the vanilla extract when I made this since I don’t like vanilla and rhubarb but it’s up to you and your flavor preference! 

1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb stalks (10 ounces)
1 1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries (5 ounces)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk or buttermilk
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Butter an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish.

Stir together water, cornstarch, and 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan, then stir in rhubarb. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, then simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in strawberries.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl.

Whisk together egg, milk, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.
Reserve 1/2 cup fruit mixture, then add remainder to baking dish and pour batter over it, spreading evenly. Drizzle reserved 1/2 cup fruit mixture over batter. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of cake portion comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

thoughts on 28.

Today I turn 28.  I’m no longer a particular fan of my birthday (minus the part where I get to eat birthday cake for breakfast, I like that part), mostly because over the past couple of years I find myself particularly reflective in the days leading up to June 9th.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten harder on myself (please don’t tell me I’m the only one).  I begin to question decisions I’ve made and wonder what I could have done differently.  I get disappointed in myself when I realize an entire year has passed and my life has remained somewhat status quo.   I’ve become hyper-aware of everything and it’s become exhausting.   

I’m trying to force myself to see my birthday as just another day – a day of cake and presents (because I can also get behind the present part) and not as a day where I feel the need to reevaluate my entire life. I sometimes (because of my impatient nature) convince myself I need to have it all figured out now but I have (hopefully) decades in front of me, 60 plus more birthdays, and a lifetime to try and figure things out.  Change will ebb and flow and that's kind of just how life goes.  

So today I am eating cake for breakfast, spending the afternoon outside in Brooklyn, and eating dinner at a restaurant whose entire menu I am contemplating ordering.  Today is my birthday but it's also a really sunny beautiful day in New York that I get enjoy with a really great guy and I'm happy about that.  

Oh and this cake is the chocolate chip cake from Momofuku Milk Bar.  It is hands down my absolute favorite since there is passionfruit involved and you can't go wrong with passionfruit and chocolate.   

Thursday, June 6, 2013

pink travels.

The arrival of summer has me dreaming of exotic travels and eating all meals on the floor.  

I see a lot of picnics in my future.  

(This room is everything I love.)

Image via Not Without Salt.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

homemade oreos.

Oreos will always and forever make me nostalgic for the summers of my youth.  They make me think about mornings spent at the pool with my friends, swimming for hours until our hands and toes turned to raisins.  They make me think of afternoons at the beach where my siblings and I would lie on sheets covered in a combination of sand and cookie crumbs.  Oreo’s make me think about long lazy days.   The kind that only exists during the months of June – August when days are so long they practically require a sugary afternoon snack, the snack of choice being an Oreo cookie.  I’ve fallen hard for the combination of chocolaty crispy cookie with a creamy sweet center.  It’s perfection.  It melts my heart.   It makes me ache for childhood. 

Recently I’ve thought a lot about a homemade Oreo, one that is reminiscent of my youth but updated and a little more homey.  This recipe produces an Oreo even better I could have ever imagined.  The cookie itself is crumbly with a deep chocolate flavor (so much more adult in taste!).  The filling is pure creamy sugary vanilla that somehow balances perfectly with the cookie.  It’s the kind of thing you want to pack on a picnic and eat during the days of summer when you want to be a little kid again.  I promise it will transport you there.       

Homemade Oreos
Recipe from Flour by Joanne Chang

Ok!  Some notes.  The original cookie from Flour Bakery in Boston is rather large in size (about 3 inches in diameter) which makes it perfect for sharing (or if you are feeling particularly indulgent a splurge for one and let’s be honest if you are at Flour you splurge).  I find if you are bringing these to a party that a smaller size (about 2 inches in diameter) is more conducive (and more reminiscent of the original).  If you choose to make these in the smaller size you may want to roll the dough into 2 logs instead of 1 really long log as that makes it easier to store in the fridge.   I also recommend storing them in the fridge until you are ready to serve them and then take them out about 30 minutes before serving to bring to room temperature.  The finished cookies can also be frozen in an air tight container. 

For the cookies

1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (200 grams) semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly
1 eggs
1 ½ cups (210 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup (90 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
Pinch of kosher salt

For the cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate. Add the egg and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.  Set aside.

In another medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda until well mixed. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The dough will start to seem too floury and you may find it easiest to switch to mixing it with your hands until it comes together. It will have the consistency of Play-Doh. Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1 hour to firm up.

Transfer the dough to a 15-inch square sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough log about 10 inches long and 2-1/2 inches in diameter (see note above about size and shaping). Place the log at the edge of the sheet of parchment paper, and roll the parchment around the log. With the log fully encased in parchment, roll it into a smoother log, keeping it at 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm. The log may settle and sink a bit in the fridge, so reroll it every 15 minutes or so to maintain a nice round log, if you like. If not, your cookies will be more oblong than round, which is not a bad thing taste-wise, though they won’t look like the famous packaged cookie. (At this point, the dough log can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If the dough is frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.)
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or butter it.

Cut the dough log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the slices about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch. Check them frequently after 16 or 17 minutes, poking them in the middle. As soon as they feel firm to the touch, remove them from the oven. You can’t judge by color because they start out black. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack to warm or room temperature. They don’t have to cool completely before you fill them, but you can’t fill them while they are hot.

For the frosting: While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat the butter on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until completely smooth and soft. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Add the milk and salt and again beat until smooth. It will look like white spackle and feel about the same—like putty. You can also mix this frosting by hand. Make sure the butter is very soft, and use your hands to mix and knead the confectioners’ sugar into the butter. You should have about 1 cup. (The filling can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Scoop about 1 rounded tablespoon of the filling onto the bottom of 1 cookie. Top with a second cookie, bottom side down, then press the cookies together to spread the filling toward the edges. Repeat until all of the cookies are filled.