Thank you all for the kind comments and emails in the last two months. The support that you’ve given me through the last two and a half months has been invaluable and carried me through what has been a very difficult period.
To make a long story short, my relationship ended, I moved out of the apartment my ex-boyfriend and I shared and moved into a new one by myself. And since I took only clothes, books and a few treasured kitchen items like my beloved KitchenAid mixer and a pasta maker, I had to acquire everything else from scratch. Furniture, dishes, sheets, mixing bowls, canisters and so on. You’d be surprised at how quickly the little things begin to add up and how much time it eats up. And before I knew it, summer had ended and fall snuck up right behind it. Now the mornings are cooler and there’s a definite chill in the air. I’m craving hot coffee instead of iced, and put on a sweater before I leave the house.
And if moving wasn’t consuming enough, the economy has kept us all focused and fixated, especially last week, when the markets had a near meltdown with violent swings and the US government had to step in. Even my grandmother, who has no concept of the markets or what it is that I do for a living, asked me about what is happening to those “stops” and people losing money on them. She calls them “stops” my grandmother, and even she is concerned that their value is steeply declining.
But enough of that. The difficult part is behind me now and I am looking forward to the future and trying to cook in my new kitchen, which, while lovely, lacks any legitimate counter space. Which makes for tricky cooking. Almost like juggling and constantly washing and drying and trying to find another square inch of space, and believe me, every inch is a blessing. That is until my sleek kitchen cart gets assembled and then counter space, here I come!
Still, limited as I am, it hasn’t completely stopped me. And the first chance I got to make this blueberry cake, I did. The instant I spied it in the New York Times, I was instantly excited to make it. I couldn’t decide what to get excited about first: fresh blueberries? Toasted almonds? Orange zest? And so I made this for the small painting party I held last Saturday when friends and I transformed two bland white walls into stunning, muted grey ones. And the cake – it too was a stunner. The toasted almonds and the zest give the blueberries amazing dimension and that little edge of mystery and complexity – perfect with a cup of strong, hot coffee. Just in time for fall.
Adapted from the New York Times
August 17, 2008
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons flour, plus more for flouring the pan
½ cup slivered blanched almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons whole or nonfat plain yogurt
1/3 cup whole or nonfat milk
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen low- bush, wild blueberries (see note).
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square cake pan with butter. Dust the pan with flour, shaking out excess. Set the pan in the freezer.
2. On a baking sheet, roast the almonds in the oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool and pulse them to a coarse grit in a food processor. Add 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder and sea salt and continue processing to a fine grit.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 3/4 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape the sides. Beat in the egg, vanilla and orange zest. Stir the yogurt into the milk and then beat it into the batter.
4. Fold the flour mixture into the batter until combined. Toss blueberries with the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons flour and fold them into the batter.
5. Transfer the batter to the chilled pan. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon sugar on top. Bake in the oven until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a cake rack.