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.

Salmon with Anchovy Butter

IMG_3096I've never been a big fan of anchovies–I think it stems from a childhood aversion to all things "fishy." But like many other things I've grown to love (pickles, brussels sprouts, eggplant), I was intrigued by the salty, complex taste of anchovies after having an amazing Caesar salad at a recent dinner–so when I stumbled across this simple recipe using some of my other favorite ingredients I couldn't wait to try it. IMG_3099

 

IMG_3097I've since made it twice and it's officially a winner–simple with only a few ingredients and hardly any prep time–and any leftover butter is just as delicious soaked up by some crusty bread.

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Salmon with Anchovy Butter (from The New York Times)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened4 anchovy fillets, minced1 fat garlic clove, minced (or 2 small ones)

½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets

2 tablespoons drained capers, patted dry

½ lemon,

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mash together butter, anchovies, garlic, salt and pepper.In a large ovenproof skillet, melt about half the anchovy butter. Add fish, skin side down. Cook for 3 minutes over high heat to brown the skin, spooning some of the pan drippings over the top of the fish as it cooks. Add capers to bottom of pan and transfer to oven. Roast until fish is just cooked through, about 8 minutes.Remove pan from oven and add remaining anchovy butter to pan to melt. Place salmon on plates and spoon buttery pan sauce over the top. Squeeze the lemon half over the salmon and serve immediately.

 

Kimchi Fried Rice

IMG_2122I've spoken before about my love for fried rice as an easy weeknight meal, but lately I've been wanting to spice it up a little. Believe it or not, I had never had kimchi until relatively recently (there aren't a ton of Korean restaurants in Minnesota, unfortunately) and the first time I tried it, I wasn't so sure if I liked it or not. IMG_2117

But after trying it a few more times, I'm officially a convert–plus, fermented foods are supposed to be very good for you. Ari is still a little wary of the funky, spicy fermented cabbage, so I've been making this fried rice in the meantime–you still get all of the spicy goodness of kimchi, but cooking it for a few minutes tones down the taste.

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Kimchi Fried Rice (adapted from Food52)

1 to 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil1 package tofu, drained and cut into small cubes
2 cups mixed vegetables (I used peas, carrots and broccoli)

4 to 5 scallions, whites only, finely sliced

1 1/2 cups kimchi, chopped

2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)

4 cups cooked rice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 pinch salt, to taste

Fried eggs (1 per person)
Heat canola or vegetable oil in a large, deep frying pan over high heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring frequently, until browned on all sides. Add vegetables and sauté until just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
Add the scallion whites, and cook while stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. Next, add kimchi and kochujang, and cook while stirring for 3 to 5 minutes until the kimchi begins to soften.Add the rice and soy sauce. Then mix well until the rice is coated with the kimchi. (You can always add a little bit of the briny liquid from the kimchi jar if it seems like there’s not enough color or spice for all of your rice!)

Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for just a few more minutes until the rice is warmed through. Season with salt, to taste.

Serve topped with a fried egg and sprinkled with scallions greens.

Pimiento Cheese

IMG_1714    On last week's episode of "Better Call Saul" (which, if you haven't watched it yet, is great–but watch "Breaking Bad" first), Mike Ehrmentraut calls pimiento cheese "the caviar of the south." Having just made pimiento cheese for a dinner party, I thought this description very apt–with a similarly salty but creamy–and much lower price point–pimiento cheese is makes an excellent appetizer for your next party (seriously, it will be the first thing to disappear). IMG_1712

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It's traditionally served with saltines, but pretty much any cracker will do, or I've also known people to spread it on bread for a pretty ridiculous take on grilled cheese. Just don't tell anyone what's in it.IMG_1711

Side note: Ari (my darling boyfriend) is currently trying to raise money through Kickstarter to fund the next season of his podcast, Off Campus, which focuses on graduating from college and navigating the real world. Check it out (and donate) here, if you feel so inclined.IMG_1713

knife / board from Paris (similar) / bowl

Pimiento Cheese (adapted from Southern Living)

4 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon grated yellow onion
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (7-oz.) jar whole peeled pimiento, drained and roughly chopped
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Deviled Eggs with Prosciutto

IMG_9629Happy New Year and apologies for the radio silence! There's really no excuse, but what with the flurry of the holidays and getting back into the swing of things with work and everything, it's felt like the last thing I want to do at night is sit in front of a computer. Otherwise, the new year is off to a good start–we're trying to eat healthier (at least for the month of January), so I can't say there have been a ton of exciting recipes here (lots of salads and variations on quinoa with vegetables and some protein). Have you made any resolutions? (Have you kept them?)IMG_9633I made these deviled eggs for a New Year's party, and I think they're my favorite variation on the recipe (basically, any combination of pork + eggs is genius in my book) but you could easily leave out the prosciutto for a vegetarian take. I could seriously eat a whole plate of these for dinner–but they make a great appetizer for any occasion. IMG_9634

Deviled Eggs with Prosciutto (adapted from Food & Wine)

12 large eggs

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

4 cornichons, minced

3 tablespoons goat cheese, at room temperature

2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallot or red onion

2 teaspoons snipped chives or scallions

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 ouncea thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1-inch pieces

In a large saucepan, cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 8 minutes. Transfer the eggs to an ice water bath until chilled, about 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, cornichons, goat cheese, mustard, shallot and 1 teaspoon of the chives. Peel the eggs and halve them lengthwise. Add the yolks to the bowl, mix until smooth and season with salt and pepper.

Set the egg whites on a serving platter. Scrape the egg yolk mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe the filling into the whites; alternatively, spoon in the filling with a teaspoon. Top each egg with a piece of prosciutto, sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of chives and serve.

Entertaining: The Perfect Cheese Plate

mg_9276Though I sometimes love making complicated appetizers, when hosting a dinner or holiday party you can't ask for an easier (or more crowd-pleasing) option than a cheese plate. Of course, cheese plates are nothing new, but putting a little thought into it can take a mediocre plate of cheddar and turn it into an impressive spread.mg_9273 mg_9270

For starters, choose a variety of cheeses (the advised amount is about 2 oz of cheese per person–unless you're just planning on having cheese for dinner, in which case, it's at your discretion. Not that I've ever done that.) I like to go with something soft (such as Camembert or the very lovely Jasper Hill Harbison), something hard like Manchego or Comte, and something funky or blue like Époisses or this super creamy Gorgonzola Cremificato. If you want more than three types, you can branch out from there–just try to keep a balance between textures and how strong the flavors are. (Note that this is in no way sponsored by Murray's, I just find them to be an excellent resource when looking for cheese.)mg_9268

After that, I like to add a few varieties of pickles and jams (I usually go for pepper jelly), like mini cornichons and if you're feeling ambitious, watermelon rind pickles. Then just add toasted baguette slices and a couple of kinds of crackers, and serve with wine (obviously). Perfect for holiday entertaining or a fancy night in.

Roasted Tomato Soup

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 3.26.49 PM There are still a few (slightly sad) looking tomatoes at the farmer's market here in New York, but with snow in Minnesota this week, there's no doubt that winter will be here sooner than we know it. Tomato soup is possibly my favorite way to bridge the gap between summer and fall–you get the brightness and acidity of summer's best produce with the coziness of a warm fall soup. Make this weekend, and stock up in the freezer for a little taste of summer all through the cold months to come.

I didn't have a chance to photograph this the night I made it (curse you, Daylight Savings Time!) but did snap this picture at my desk the next day for lunch. Serve with grilled cheese  sandwiches, obviously (because let's be honest, who really wants tomato soup without grilled cheese?)

Roasted Tomato Soup (adapted from Ina Garten, courtesy of my mom)

3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise 1/8 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil 1 tablespoon kosher salt 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 2 cups chopped yellow or white onions 6 garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with juice 2teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 1 quart chicken stock or water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/8 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade, or blend until relatively smooth in a blender. Taste for seasonings.

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.

Baked Apple Pancake

_MG_5183 _MG_5208For many people, autumn is the best season of all. (Apple cider! Plaid! Falling leaves!) Summer will always have my heart, but I must say that I do love the beginnings of fall – the first night when you really need a blanket, those first crisp apples and pears, and being in the Northeast, the beautiful autumn colors. Since it seems like now it is officially the end of summer, I have decided to embrace it –and what better way than with apples?

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_MG_5200Pancakes aren't my favorite (I've always been more of a french toast kind of girl), but since Ari loves them I try to make them every now and again. I had picked up a few apples last weekend at the farmer's market, and while I love eating them sliced with a little peanut butter, how can you say no to adding a little butter and sugar? This baked "pancake" tastes indulgent and yet is surprisingly healthy, thanks to very little sugar and the addition of whole-wheat flour. A perfect fall breakfast (or dessert)._MG_5210

On a side note, does anyone else only like sliced apples? I can never eat them whole. Or is it just me?

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Baked Apple Pancake (adapted from Food & Wine)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2  apples, halved, peeled, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick (I used Honeycrisp) 3 tablespoons brown sugar 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, plus warmed syrup for serving 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour 1 teaspoon baking powder Pinch of salt 4 large eggs, separated 1 cup milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the apples, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the lemon juice and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are golden, about 6 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup of maple syrup and simmer over low heat until thickened, about 1 minute. Spread the apples in an even layer and remove the pan from the heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flours with the baking powder and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk the egg yolks with the milk and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Whisk the liquid into the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until firm peaks form, about 2 minutes. Fold the beaten whites into the batter and scrape it over the apples; spread the batter to the edge.
  4. Bake the pancake in the upper third of the oven for about 20 minutes, until it is golden, puffed and set. Let the pancake cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen the pancake, then invert it onto a serving plate. Replace any apples that may have stuck to the pan. Cut the pancake into wedges and serve at once with the warmed maple syrup.