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Thursday, September 22, 2011

applesauce cake with caramel glaze

apple sauce cake with caramel glaze

I have now, for many years, been searching for the perfect Rosh Hashanah cake: something not overly sweet, something, perhaps, featuring apples, something festive enough for a crowd but simple enough for a quiet breakfast the following morning. And while searching for the perfect apple cake didn’t sound like much of a challenge, I can assure you that it was. My family didn’t have a traditional apple cake for the holiday – I was on my own on this one.

In my seemingly endless search, I became the Goldilocks of Rosh Hashanah cakes. This one was too sweet; that one – not sweet enough; the third – too dense. I experimented with a few, got some favorable results, but nothing struck me as the cake that I want to serve at the end of a Rosh Hashanah meal or for the holiday brunch. I wasn’t in love.

Continue reading applesauce cake with caramel glaze.

Friday, May 20, 2011

strawberry rhubarb banana bread

strawberry rhubarb banana bread

To think that this strawberry-banana bread was a result of an injury – might seem a bit far-fetched, but it is absolutely true. An injury that occurred almost one year ago, from which I’m still sporting a bone bruise, and what is probably permanent ankle swelling from the trauma. This clearly is price I pay for an idea that’s going into my regular rotation. I’ll take asymmetric ankles any day, even if that means favoring pants in lieu of dresses to hide the unsightly thing.

How did I get myself into this pickle? This was a classic case of wrong place, wrong time. A woman slammed a door on my foot while I was trying to get a strawberry-banana smoothie. There, now you know the origin. As for those other questions you might have, like “Why would she slam a door on your foot?” or “How hard must one slam a door to inflict what seems to be permanent damages?” – I’ll answer briefly. The woman didn’t do it intentionally, which doesn’t make her actions any less wrong – she was simply not paying attention to me and was yelling at her toddler twins who were strapped into one of those twin strollers. In a fit of exasperation, she slammed the door – and my foot just happened to be there (ouch!). As for the second question – well, she was angry. I yelped in pain, she apologized profusely, but I could barely pay attention to her – my foot immediately turned myriad different colors; there was even a trickle of blood.

Continue reading strawberry rhubarb banana bread.

Friday, April 22, 2011

russian apple spice cake – sharlotka

apple spice cake - sharlotka

When it comes to farmer’s market wares, my eyes are often more bigger than my stomach. I forget that I’m shopping for two and go overboard, returning home with bags practically overflowing with the market bounty even with the greenmarket’s current modest showing. I worry what will happen once strawberries and asparagus hit the market, along with their friends, artichokes and fava beans.

A few weeks back was no different. Forgetting that there are only so many apples two people can eat in one week before the apples are past their prime, I wound up with a few too many. And given that we were going away for Passover, I knew that by the time we had returned, these apples would’ve grown mealy.

Continue reading russian apple spice cake – sharlotka.

Monday, December 13, 2010

concord grape muffins

concord grape rosemary muffins

Before I officially kick off some seasonal cookie recipes in the next few days, I want to share these muffins with you. You probably have already figured out from the title – Concord grapes are long gone and won’t be back until next fall. I’m sorry, it’s not fair for me to tease you like this, but I can’t allow this recipe to languish in the dark corners of my computer for nearly a year. I want you to tuck this recipe away somewhere, where you can easily find it. Also, I want you to mark your calendars for mid-September of next year. Pick a day and over it write “Concord Grape Muffins”. You won’t forget to make them, and trust me, you’ll thank me for the reminder.

last of season concord grapes

Concord grapes and I go way back. As in “back in Russia” way back where we called them Isabella grapes, purchased them for eating (as opposed to juicing), and ate them spitting out the pits (it’s not pretty, trust me). I hadn’t tasted a single seedless grape until I arrived to America. Grapes without pits – now that’s the ticket! Those grapes were yet another thing to make me tumble into love with my new homeland even more. Already, it offered some irresistible things in the way of food: pizza, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, Thanksgiving, peanut butter and chocolate together. But nothing – and I mean nothing – tastes like a Concord grape, unless you want to throw grape juice into the mix. And while I suspect, not many crave a tart grape with gelatinous flesh, I continue to pop them like candy, so much so that while I bought a few bunches intending to make this, I remembered my original intention only after I’d eaten the last grape of the bunch.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

apple upside-down cornmeal cakes

apple upside-down cornmeal cakes

Thanksgiving is two weeks away and I am all aflutter. My favorite holiday, my favorite time of year, my favorite foods. This year, for the first time in eight years, I’m hanging up my hosting hat and donning on a supporting one. It’s not easy – I’m so entrenched in Thanksgiving that to think I’ll only be cooking two dishes instead of a dozen is an adjustment. But it’s a good adjustment – this Thanksgiving is as cozy and comforting as it gets. This year we’re in Vermont, Andrew and I, celebrating with his family in a small, quiet, New England town. There will be fleece trousers, flannel pajamas, and, I hope, endless amounts of hot mulled cider. There will be naps. There will be a thousand piece puzzle. There will be bananagrams, I am told, longish trail runs, Andrew’s mother’s amazing sour cream cake, and book started and finished. I am bringing my camera and my only regret is that I don’t yet own a wide angle lens. I might even shoot some film too.

honeycrisps

It is because of Robert Frost that I will forever link together Vermont and apple-picking. His New England is the New England I ache for, the New England that has a firm, tight grip on my heart and has made me a New Englander forever. It is home, simple and true. It is at once rustic and elegant, austere and welcoming. It is home to messy apple cobblers, autumn apple pie, creamy clam chowder, and the best lobster in the country. New England was made for a holiday like Thanksgiving – or maybe it’s my foolish heart, heavy with love for the region.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

brown butter maple pumpkin bread

brown butter pumpkin bread

I am in dire need of a weekend morning butler. Specifically for the duties of coffee and coffee cake. It would greatly improve my mornings. Andrew, I hope you’re reading this, in case, um, you need Hannukah gift ideas, a morning butler would be amazing!

A typical weekend morning in our household goes a little like this. Around seven o’clock, my body decides that it no longer wants to be asleep. Nevermind that I very much want to be asleep and my brain is quite content being in close contact with a pillow. But my body, well, it has other plans. My body decides that it wants to be up and about, getting ahead with the day, going to the farmer’s market, picking up groceries, figuring out the Sunday supper menu.

pumpkin puree

But what my body doesn’t realize fully is that until it ingests about 2 cups of coffee, it, along with my brain, is amazingly, utterly useless. The tricky part is actually making coffee before you’ve fully woken up. This rather simple task of measuring out water, coffee, pouring the water into the machine, and pressing the “brew” button – is challenging for my uncaffeinated brain. I should do like Andrew does and just force myself to sleep a little longer, but I just wind up tossing and turning. And so I get up early and run errands before Andrew wakes up.

Continue reading brown butter maple pumpkin bread.