October 18, 2013
Sometimes, life hands you lemons. Other times, though, it hands you figs.
So check it out: I go to this greasy spoon diner called Rae’s every weekend. I’m a regular. I have a “usual,” and I get slightly annoyed when someone else is sitting in my spot on the bar. (I’m short, and my favorite chair is a little bit taller than all the rest.)
But it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I realized that the big tree growing just to the left of the building is, in fact, a fig tree. A fact I learned by stepping (and almost slipping) on an overripe fig on the ground. I took a few photos, then a nice old lady came out to tell me that I could take some of the ripe ones if I wanted, since they would just go to waste anyway. So I did! Because despite figs being the sexiest fruit, beautiful just torn apart and eaten raw, I had a recipe I wanted to try up my sleeve.
I love a snacking cake. The kind of cake that you feel like you can eat for breakfast, or with a cup of tea, or as dessert. This cake is rustic and sturdy, requiring no creaming of butter or careful folding-in of ingredients. Just a quick mix of dry and wet ingredients, some pretty figs plopped on top, and half an hour in the oven. What a simple way to be happy.
December 11, 2012
These bright green pancakes happened while I was in Nice, and hadn’t figured out how to turn on the oven yet. Of course, being far from home and lonely, I also had a huge sugar craving. What’s a sweet-toothed girl to do when there’s no way to make gooey cinnamon rolls or chewy cookies?
These hot cakes were a perfect answer. With a base of my usual hot-cakes-for-one recipe, with the intriguing addition of matcha (finely milled, high quality Japanese green tea) powder, they had a hint of floral bitterness that was the perfect foil for creamy butter and a big drizzle of syrup.
December 5, 2012
You know how I can tell I’m an adult? I wanted carrot cake for my birthday.
Not just any carrot cake. That Carrot Cake. I received the recipe for That Carrot Cake from a friend during college. He’d gotten it from his mom, who’d gotten it from a neighbor, who’d gotten it from her aunt, etc. etc. etc. I ended up passing it on to HR Director at work a year or so ago, and now I’m passing it on to you.
It’s That Carrot Cake because I’ve been fiddling with the ratios in this recipe for years and years, and I’ve got the balance of moisture level and cinnamon batter flavor and carrot/walnut/coconut bits just right; that is, exactly how I like it. The original recipe came from a friend, but now it’s mine.
That Carrot Cake is so moist that it’s hard to ice; little moist chunks and crumbs keep wanting to fall off. Now I don’t even try to ice the whole thing — just a slip of frosting between each layer will do, and perhaps a light layer around the outside if you’ve got some extra.
That Carrot Cake has so much walnut in it that it might as well be called a walnut cake. The carrots are both shredded and grated, so that some smaller pieces melt into the batter while other, larger pieces hang around like flakes of carrot confetti. A good amount of coconut provides more chewy texture. Oh, and there’s pineapple in there. You don’t taste it, and I have no idea how it works, but that pineapple might be the secret ingredient that brings it all together, with just enough batter to hold everything in one piece.
October 30, 2012
The other day, I was waiting outside a restaurant in the Marais when I started to feel something I’d never felt before in Paris. My fingers and toes were starting to go numb.
I know I talk about the weather a lot here, and I know that must get incredibly boring, but there’s just so much weather here that I’ve never experienced before: grey, rainy springs, summer that lasts about two weeks, the first cold snap of fall. That last one is something we’re in this week. When we finally got inside the restaurant a few days ago, I kept my jacket on the whole time and my toes didn’t warm up until we got home and I put them up on one of the heaters for a few minutes.
The cold also drove me into my warm cozy kitchen to try something that’s been on my mind: what I’ve been thinking of as sweet risotto, but what the internet tells me is rice pudding. Short-grained arborio rice, toasted to a nutty brown with butter, enriched with vanilla-speckled milk until it’s creamy and soft.