Thursday, May 26, 2016

creamy tahini and lemon aspragus soup.

Can we talk about how no one tells you how absolutely awful the home-buying process is?  How it's an endless sea of spending money, how it occupies all of your time and energy?  It's truly awful.  I keep reminding myself that there is a light at the end of this tunnel and that the whole thing will at some point be worth it by my god does it suck getting to that point.   

With the home search occupying what feels like every waking moment, I haven't had much opportunity to cook all of the spring things I want.  By the time I finally make it to the kitchen on a Tuesday evening, all I want to do is cook whatever will get dinner onto the table the quickest.  This means a lot of vegetable salads paired with cheese and crackers.  No one is complaining so I take that as a good thing.   

This soup, a departure from our almost daily salads,  falls into the quick and easy dinner meal.  It comes together in under 20 minutes, involves staple spring ingredients (i.e. asparagus and lemon), and tastes as if you slaved over an hour.   The tahini turns the soup impossibly silky smooth making it taste a lot more decadent then it really is.  

Creamy Tahini and Lemon-Asparagus Soup
Recipe from Dolly and Oatmeal

Makes 2 large servings or 4 small 

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch spring onions (or spring garlic), chopped (roughly 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 lb. asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (preferably homemade!)
1/4 cup fresh chives
2 2-inch pieces lemon peels
1/4 cup tahini paste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
sea salt & fresh pepper

Optional Garnishes 

Asparagus ribbons
Pea tendrils or baby greens
Tahini paste

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.  Once hot, add the olive oil and onion or garlic, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic, stir and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute, then add the broth, chives, and lemon peels.  Bring soup to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove soup from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

Carefully transfer soup to an upright blender, add the tahini paste and lemon juice.  Blend on high for 1 minute, until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust salt and/or lemon juice.

Return the soup back to the soup pot and bring to a simmer.  Garnish and serve hot. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

rhubarb and rye upside-down cake.

I won't lie, I didn't hate the weather NY experienced last week.  

Sure I was sick of lugging my umbrella everywhere, but I love the coziness that comes with gray skies and rain. After a winter that wasn't really a winter, I'm relishing in having a few extra weeks that allow me to nestle under blankets, wear cozy socks, and turn on my oven without sweating to death.   By this time next month it will probably be all sunny skies and humidity.   

This isn't to say I'm not happy about spring produce slowly creeping in. Tyler and I have eaten several pounds of asparagus over the last couple of weeks and rhubarb, probably one of my most favorite vegetables has finally made an appearance at our farmer's market.   

This cake is the perfect way to welcome rhubarb back into your life. Caramelized, impossibly tender rhubarb sits a top an incredibly moist flavorful cake.  I'm a sucker for using different types of grains in my cakes and the rye flour adds an incredible amount of nuttiness that pairs well with the tart rhubarb.   Served with a dollop of whipped cream, it makes for a delightful dessert but I also like having a piece as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea on a dreary May afternoon.   

Rhubarb and Rye Upside-Down Cake
Recipe from Sweeter off the Vine

Makes one 9-inch cake

Rhubarb Topping

1 pound (450g) rhubarb, leaves removed, cut into 2-inch (5cm) lengths
1 vanilla bean (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
3⁄4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup (55g) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch salt


1 cup (125g)
 all purpose flour
1 cup (130g) rye flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
1⁄2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (page 235)
1 1⁄2 cups (355ml) buttermilk, at room temperature

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375F . Butter a 9-inch cake pan or springform pan, 3 inches tall, line it with parchment paper, and butter that too. Dust the pan and paper with flour.

To make the rhubarb topping: Use the tip of a knife to split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds; reserve the pod for another use. Combine the sugar, butter, vanilla seeds, lemon zest, and salt in a skillet and set over medium low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and butter begin to melt together, then add the rhubarb. Cook the rhubarb, turning it occasionally in the pan, until it is juicy, tender, and slightly caramelized but not falling apart, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour the rhubarb and its juices into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Set aside while you prepare the cake batter.

To make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk the all purpose and rye flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together at medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Alternate adding the flour mixture and
 the buttermilk in three additions and mix until just combined. Carefully pour the batter over the rhubarb in the pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan gently on the counter to remove any air bubbles. If using a springform pan, set it on a baking sheet to catch any potential leakage.

Bake the cake until the top is golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool on a rack 
for 15 minutes, then carefully invert onto a serving platter. Remove the parchment paper and re-position any rhubarb that has stuck to the paper. Cut into wedges and serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, if you like. This cake is best served the day that it’s made.