Posts tagged quickbread
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.

Continue reading concord grape muffins.

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.


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.

Continue reading apple upside-down cornmeal cakes.

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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

blueberry cake

and it was good

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!

blueberry cake batter

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.

dimply and moist

Continue reading blueberry cake.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

lemon yogurt cake with cranberries

lemon-cranberry yogurt cake

The day after I wrote about the delicious Korean pancake, I came down with the cold to end all colds. And 12 days since the day I fell sick, I am still dealing with its remnants, which manifest themselves in pressure in my sinuses so bad, I have an upper jaw toothache. The same cold that managed to make me cough up a lung, develop a case of nasty pink eye, that very same cold has been unresponsive to antibiotics and other medicine. I’m seeing my doctor today again for hopefully stronger meds – I should be getting frequent flier miles there. I’ve used up numerous tissues and might be on the government’s special monitor list for buying too many decongestants. I swear, I’m not making anything out of them!


And so without a doubt, this long weekend was to be spent at home, recuperating and gaining my strength back. My boss also asked me to babysit her two pugs for a day, and while the dogs are very cute and friendly, I must say, I am a large dog person after all. For one reason or another, we couldn’t leave the pugs at home to take a walk outside – one of the dogs looked as if he was going to have a heart attack when he realized we might be leaving. So I sent KS off to watch the new Indiana Jones, while I puttered around the kitchen. We had some lemons left over and some yogurt I had to put to some good use in order not to throw it out, and so I once again, relied on Ina Garten’s recipe for her lemon yogurt cake, which I have made with blood oranges and Deb over at Smitten Kitchen made with grapefruit and other citrus things.

I omitted the glaze from my cake because I find that glazes generally ruin baked goods for me. I dislike glazed cakes the same way I dislike frosted cookies – I find them overly sweet. Without the glaze, the cake is a wonderful morning accompaniment to coffee, or stands as a snack on its own. And were I to make any other enhancements, I would say, use about half the oil the recipe asks for and you will wind up with a lovely, moist, seductively-scented cake. I can’t resist lemons in anything – and with the sun shining and the warm weather finally settling in, this lemon cake just makes me want to grin from ear to ear.

lemony decadence

Of course, no cake of this nature for me would be replete without cranberries, as I like a little bit of tartness in the otherwise sweet dough. As some of you might know, each November, I buy about 6 bags of cranberries, use about 2-3 bags on the holiday itself, and then freeze the remaining 3 bags. They last me about a year and make a fantastic addition to things like pumpkin bread, apple pie and the above creation.

Continue reading lemon yogurt cake with cranberries.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

banana bread

glorious scent

The one true rule in our kitchen between me and KS is that we will do whatever we can to manage our perishables in such a way that we don’t have to throw them out if they start to spoil. Leftover herbs become pesto, tomatoes with a couple of small spots get either a slow roast in the oven or processed into homemade tomato sauce, stale bread becomes croûtons. Sometimes this means deviating from trying something new as a recipe in order to salvage an ingredient or two. In every kitchen, there are most likely a few stories like this from time to time.

one hour away from bliss

Ever since we got back from South Carolina, the cooking hasn’t stopped. I’m already behind in writing all the food we’ve prepared – and I’m warning you, one picture in particular (pork chops, why won’t you photograph well?) doesn’t make you run-run-run to the kitchen and start cooking. But I’ve been wresting with meat photography – and no matter what I do, it just looks gross to me. No matter what angle, day light or otherwise, meat comes out looking gross and well, dead. Could it be my former vegetarian reacting? But never mind about that for now.

early sunday morning snack

We brought home with us a few bananas that served us as our snack food on the road. And you know how bananas are. Lush and yellow in the grocery store, luring you with their sweetness and potassium. And then you bring them with you into the car and the sit in this scorching heat for a few hours and bam! – a few brown, soft spots appear and you’re left with mushy, brown bananas. Personally, I prefer to eat my bananas while they’re perfectly yellow, but when it comes to baking – well, bring on the soft, the over-ripe, the bruised!


And so yesterday, while cleaning up in the kitchen, I glanced over to see the sad-looking bananas hang out on the counter, probably convinced that their fate was to wind up in the garbage. Not so, I thought and dug up my trusty Martha Stewart cookbook. In ten minutes, the batter was made, poured and what was to become banana bread was happily sitting in the oven. Instead of nuts (because I’m weird and don’t like nuts in my banana bread, go figure), I added cranberries. Every year, around Thanksgiving time, I buy two extra bags of cranberries and freeze them. And then through the year, dip into my stash for things like banana bread or whatever else. It’s served me well through the years and in my opinion, it beats those Craisins every time. The cranberries are magical in banana bread, truly making the flavor pop and develop a whole new dimension. And magical is more than I could have asked for, considering that the initial goal was manage a spoiling food and what I got in return was a sweet, dreamy treat!

Continue reading banana bread.