February, 2008 Archive

Friday, February 29, 2008

big crumb coffee cake

rhubarb big crumb coffee cake

It took me almost eight months to make this recipe. It took less than two seconds to regret waiting that long. Let this serve as a warning–it doesn’t have to happen to you.


This is the Big Crumb Coffee Cake of my dreams, and oh, I have dreamed about this for a very long time–like, 15 years, I’m afraid to say. It dates back to the bakery where I worked in high school that used to fill a sheet tray with gorgeous, cinnamon and brown-sugar clustered buttery crumbs, spread a thin layer of cake doughnut batter over it and, once baked, flip it out onto a tray where it was showered with an avalanche of powdered sugar. The proportions were perfect every time: one-third cake to two-thirds of the kind of rubble that were impossible to walk by without pulling off a piece of crater-leaving telltale sign. Not that I would do a thing like that. Of course not. But I sure did think about it. Honestly, I still do.

rhubarbbarely any cake
protozoa! i mean, rhubarbbig crumb coffee cake

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

spicy sweet potato wedges + five etceteras

spicy sweet potato fries

Five Bits of Housekeeping

  • After a series of unfortunate kitchen mishaps over the last week, I decided to give up cooking for at least a couple days and focus my efforts instead on mixology at my friend Jocelyn’s Oscar Party on Sunday night. I guest-blogged Dove Cocktails over on her site today, though I prefer to call them Pomegranate Margaritas. [Dove Cocktails at Pixxiestails.com]
  • Earlier this month, Alex and I took some photos of two of our favorite chocolate shops in New York City, Li-Lac Chocolates in the West Village and Jacques Torres in Dumbo. You can see them on Priceless.com. [Jacques Torres on Priceless.com, Li-Lac on Priceless.com]

nonpareils/li-lac (6)

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

homemade devil dog, ding dong or hostess cake

homemade snack cakes

There is a certain kind of cake so ubiquitous in grocery store checkout lanes, beneath lottery-stickered counters in bodegas and beckoning to office workers in a 3 p.m. slump through vending machine window and so lodged in American nostalgia that I am always surprised that more people don’t make it at home. I’m talking about a Ding Dong. Or a King Don. Or a Ring Ding. Confused yet? You’re not alone.

chocolate cake puddles

But it doesn’t end there. This combination of a chocolate cake and a marshmallow filling makes other appearances in junk food lore, such as the infamous Hostess Cupcake, Yodels, Little Debbie Devil Squares and Devil Dogs. And today, I’m going to tell you how to make (almost) all of these at home.

chocolate cake mosaic

My pining for a homemade Devil Dog Cake started when I saw a recipe for one in the February issue of Gourmet. However, I had several concerns about this cake, the first being that, as everyone knows, Devil Dog filling is on the inside not top of two chocolate bun-shaped cakes and also that–all too much like an unfortunate quality of their namesake–reviewers seemed to find this cake on the dry side.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

escarole and orzo soup with meatballs

escarole and orzo soup with meatballs

You know those stories about when you were a kid that your parents can’t get enough of? That they’d go on. And on. And on about to their friends, your friends, prom date and future in-laws? Because apparently, when you were little you were cute. I mean, really cute. And you did cute things. And those cute things were hilarious. And still are, nearly 30 years later.

grating parmesan

Well, apparently long before I had achieved actual literacy, I went for the next closest thing: memorizing books. But I used to call it–start cooing now, please–“rememorizing” because doesn’t that make more sense, as you must “remember” it? Honestly, it still does. So, as the story goes, I came into my parents bedroom one morning and told them I had learned to read and I would demonstrate with my Favorite Book In the Whole World, Snow, a Dr. Seuss book. “Snow, snow, come out in the snow. Snow, snow, just look at the snow….” It didn’t take them long to figure out I was neither looking at the book, or likely, holding it right side up but, oh, were they charmed.

some fancy orzocarrots

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

pear and almond tart

pear almond tart

A lot more than anyone should, I fixate on Paris. It’s not just that we got engaged there, returned a little over a year later just because we missed it and scheme to find a way to expat ourselves there one day or at least for a couple years; no, that would be too obvious. My obsession lies with the fact that, as with all things we pine for, the grass just seems so much greener over there, from the Velib bikes to the old buildings which are never crushed to make room for fugly glass and concrete monoliths, and do I even need to get started about the respect given to artisan crafts from pastry to bread baking?

three boscs

Thus, it was with great interest that I came across an article written by Dorie Greenspan for Bon Appetit a couple years ago about yet another thing that makes French women so fabulous–aside from the fact that they’re always perfectly dressed without looking like they’re trying too hard and can tie a scarf with their eyes closed while I do mine in front of a mirror and it still looks awkward. It’s because they say things like “Why’d do you do it?”—”it” being baking a rich chocolate cake topped with raspberries and chocolate ganache—”I mean, it’s great, but cakes like this are the reason pastry shops were invented.”

sweet tart shellpears, poaching

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