Rice Pudding Brûlée

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 3.47.32 PMCrème brûlée can feel intimidating: what if the pudding curdles, or doesn't bake quickly enough? How do you use a blowtorch? This version—combining comforting rice pudding with the burned sugar topping of crème brûlée—takes out a lot of the guesswork, and you can use the broiler or a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar. Just be sure to watch it closely to make sure it doesn't burn too much! (And psst: using a blowtorch is really fun.) Find the video and full recipe on Sunset.

Olive Oil Plum Cake

IMG_3775In a recent effort to eat healthier (which may or may not have something to do with having to wear a wedding dress in approximately nine months) I've been looking for alternatives to my beloved butter-filled cakes and pastries. I've always had a bit of a sweet tooth, but love the idea of being able to have a piece of cake that's healthy enough for breakfast too.IMG_3778 This cake swaps most of the usual butter for olive oil and has a healthy dose of whole wheat flour to boot. You could also use turbinado or demerara sugar instead of regular sugar--I didn't have any, but it would give the cake a lovely caramelized taste. If you can find decent plums (we're lucky to still have a few in California) then use that--but I would bet that this cake would be just as delicious with sliced pears or apples (though let's not neglect my favorite apple cake--which is pretty much the ideal thing to bring to a holiday party. I promise.)IMG_3786

Olive Oil Plum Cake (Adapted from The New York Times)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 pound firm plums or pluots, sliced (3-4 medium)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-inch springform pan or cake pan. Line with parchment and lightly butter the parchment. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

Place the butter in a stand mixer and beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the olive oil and beat at medium speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the bowl and beater. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed for 1 minute. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl and beaters between each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extract and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, until the mixture is very light.

Turn the speed to low and slowly add the flour. Beat just until incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread it out evenly using an offset spatula. Arrange the plums on top in concentric circles, pressing them down into the batter, then sprinkle with additional 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, until the edges of the plums are beginning to color and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Remove from oven and let the cake cool for 10 minutes on a rack before releasing the sides of the springform or cake pan. Then let it cool completely before slicing.

End-of-Summer Peach Galette

IMG_3613Summer is my favorite season. I love the sweltering days leading into still-warm nights, the smell of sunscreen, and of course, all of the incredible produce summer has to offer. And my favorite of all of those wonderful fruits and vegetables are peaches. In New York, peaches had a pretty short growing season (July and August) and I would eat one pretty much every single day. IMG_3605I'm still getting used to the idea that here in California, there aren't really seasons--at least, not in the way that I'm used to them. The idea that it could be around 60 degrees in January boggles my mind (what do people talk about when they can't walk about the weather??) But one thing I will definitely be able to get used to is the amazing produce all year-round--and I can't say that I'll miss only being able to buy apples and root vegetables for six months of the year.

IMG_3614I made this galette last week when Ari's family came over for dinner--I love galettes because you get all of the flavor of pie but without the hassle of making a double crust or worrying about shaping the dough exactly right (plus, I don't have a pie tin.) I'm loving our new kitchen too (and the fact that it's a separate room! And there's a DISHWASHER! If you've ever lived in New York, you know that's not something to be taken lightly.) We're still getting settled into our new little cottage, but it's really starting to feel like home.

Peach Galette (Adapted from Home Made Summer, a truly beautiful cookbook)

For Dough:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon sugar

9 tablespoons butter, very cold and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 (or more) tablespoons ice cold water

For Filling:

3-4 fresh peaches, pitted and sliced

Pinch of salt

4 tablespoons sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

 

For Crust: Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or a large mixing bowl. Add butter and finely pulse or mix by hand until the butter is about pea-size. Slowly mix in apple cider vinegar and drops of water until dough comes together but isn't too sticky. Form a disc and wrap in plastic, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Combine sliced peaches, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a large bowl and let sit for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove dough from fridge, then roll out crust on a lightly floured surface until it's about 14 inches in diameter. Place on parchment paper on to pot a baking sheet, then pile fruit in the center and fold up the edges around the fruit. It's ok if it's not perfect! Bake for about 35 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Let cool slightly, then serve with crème fraîche or whipped cream.

Strawberry Cake

IMG_2453Thank goodness for long weekends. Mine was spent at my college reunion (how has it already been five years?) and picnicking in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Monday, with plenty of ice cream and sunburns and (warmish) beer–overall, a perfect kickoff to summer. How was your holiday?IMG_2446 IMG_2438Strawberries aren't quite in season just yet, but I couldn't resist a giant box of them on sale at the grocery store–you know when you bite into a strawberry that summer can't be too far away. I had been wanting to try out this cake recipe for the past few summers but never got around to it, so this (and an extra day off) seemed like the perfect excuse.IMG_2440

marble plate & knife: katy skelton c/o / napkin: h&m (old) / forks: vintage

Strawberry Cake (adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen)

6 tablespoons  unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon table salt 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 large egg 1/2 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon zest 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared cake pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes.  Let cool in pan on a rack.

 

 

Apple Cake

_MG_7490It's definitely getting to be the time of year when curling up with a hot cup of coffee and a good book sounds most appealing. I've stated my love for summer many a time, but there's something about the crisp air coming in through windows cracked open, when you can wear sweaters and ballet flats but don't need to worry about a heavy coat just yet. _MG_7472

 

_MG_7491This cake, which I actually made to celebrate Rosh Hashana weeks ago when Ari's mom was in town, was the perfect way to usher in fall. I love cakes that only use one bowl, and this still feels special enough to serve at a dinner party–but it tastes even better for breakfast the next day.

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Apple Cake (Adapted from the New York Times)

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 ⅓ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 Gala or other flavorful apples, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 slices
1 teaspoon Calvados or apple brandy
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan or regular cake pan, and set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, combine remaining 8 ounces butter, 1 1/3 cups sugar and the salt. Mix until blended. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour and baking powder until thoroughly mixed. Fold in a few of the apples, and spread batter evenly in pan.
  3. In large bowl, toss remaining apples with Calvados, ginger and cinnamon. Arrange apple slices in closely fitting concentric circles on top of dough; all the slices may not be needed. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over apples.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake dough comes out clean and apples are golden and tender, about 50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

_MG_6203 _MG_6221I almost don't want to share this with you because these cookies are so good. But that would be selfish, and I know that you don't think you need another chocolate chip cookie recipe, but you really do. I promise. He might be biased, but Ari ate seven of these the first night I made them, and they only get better the longer you refrigerate the dough (and you should refrigerate it for 36 hours). "What?!" you're probably thinking, "Why would I make cookies only to banish the dough to the refrigerator for a full 36 hours?" Crazy, I know.

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_MG_6215But I learned that trick from the fantastic Kate Miss, and though you can of course bake your cookies sooner than that (which I have to admit, I only refrigerated them for 24), something about refrigerating them for so long makes the flavors come together in this magical way, and the cookies get all caramelized and gooey and amazing. So. Basically you should make these right now (and bake them on Saturday). And top with sea salt, of course._MG_6219

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Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes about 40, adapted from Ghirardelli and For Me For You)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 3/4 cup sugar 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed 2 large eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla 2 1/4 cups unsifted flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt

11 1/2 oz milk chocolate baking chips

1-2 tablespoons fleur de sel or sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until fluffy and lightened in color. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.Refrigerate for at least a few hours, and up to 36.

Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown.  and just set in the middle. Sprinkle with fleur de sel while still warm.

Meyer Lemon-Bay Leaf Pound Cake

_MG_6094 _MG_6085Sorry for the long absence, everyone. I was in Minnesota for a few days at the beginning of the month, and then I was feeling kind of stuck in the winter doldrums. Anyone else feeling like they need a tropical getaway right about now?_MG_6081

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Thankfully, this weekend was slightly warmer (almost 60 degrees in NYC!) and after seeing this lovely cake over on 101 Cookbooks, I was feeling inspired. If you've been reading this site for a while, you probably know that I love lemon desserts, and this cake was no exception. Not too sweet, with a hint of herbal flavor that adds depth and compliments the Meyer lemons very nicely. You could easily substitute oranges or regular lemons, depending on your personal preference and what you have on hand._MG_6083

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Meyer Lemon-Bay Leaf Pound Cake (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

6 tablespoons / 3 ounces / 85 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon butter, for piping

10 fresh or dried bay leaves 1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup  granulated sugar 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 3 large eggs, at room temperature 1/2 cup sour cream finely grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Orange Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon orange liquor, such as Grand Mariner or Cointreau (optional)

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add 3 of the bay leaves. Let steep for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan. Dust with flour and tap out any excess. If possible, line the bottom with parchment paper. Dab one side of the remaining 7 bay leaves with a little bit of butter and place the leaves, evenly spaced, on the bottom of the prepared pan, buttered side down.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla until combined. If needed, barely rewarm the butter to liquify it and pluck out the bay leaves. Whisk the butter into the egg mixture.

With a spatula, gently stir the egg mixture into the dry mixture, just until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, being careful not to disturb the leaves (alternately, top the cake with any remaining leaves). Put the remaining 1 tablespoon of softened butter into a plastic bag, snip off a corner, then draw a straight line of the butter down the center of the cake. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It's better to slightly under bake, than over bake this cake.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and then tip out onto a cooling rack, remove leaves, and let cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and orange liquor (if using). Stir until smooth, then spread the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides and harden.

Makes one 9-inch cake.