July, 2009 Archive

Friday, July 31, 2009

plum kuchen

concave plum kuchen

I’ve been curious to make a yeasted coffee cake for years, but every time I got close to making one, I decided against it. Would it be dry or overly-firm? Would it taste too much like bread? How would I know a good one if I’ve probably never had an authentic German kuchen — a general name for a type of sweet, yeasted cake, usually served with coffee — one? I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: I’m a master at talking myself out of things.

glossy yeasted cake batter
doughy batter

But then I saw a plum kuchen in this month’s Gourmet magazine and I couldn’t get it out of my head. It called for whole milk yogurt, we had whole milk yogurt in the fridge. It called for plums, we’ve been buying them in multi-pound increments. It called for one and a quarter sticks of butter and like magic, I had exactly one a quarter sticks of butter left, and seriously, not a smidge more. I had run out of excuses.

plum armadillos
butter sugar and plum slices

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

cantaloupe salsa

cantaloupe salsa

I wish I could tell you that I’m putting my time into more exciting things* but fact is, it’s nothing but boring stuff keeping me out of the kitchen this week: a new oven that needed installing, pipe work shutting off the water in our apartment today, more doctors appointments than any healthy person should ever require, long classes to teach us the proper diapering of a tiny baby butt, and the kind of steamy heat outside that would make it absurd to turn on the oven anyway (though I should, you know, confirm that it works, right?). Banal, right?

cantaloupe
cantaloupe cubes

But as usual, this has not kept me from bringing home gobs of produce each week. I can’t help it: everything is just too pretty and tasty. Fortunately, you don’t actually have to cook peak-summer produce to make it taste good. Heck, the hardest thing is not eating it straight even after you’ve set your mind to rendering it into something else.

salsa ingredients

Continued after the jump »

Friday, July 24, 2009

sour cherry slab pie

sour cherry slab pie

Continuing my summer fascination with any and all fruit desserts with goofy names, not two minutes after I discovered the existence of slab pie, I was fixing to make it. Why? Because it looks like a giant Pop Tart, and surely you don’t think a woman in her third trimester needs a single other reason to bake something.

sour cherries
pits!

But even though I just discovered this whole “slab pie” thing, I’m quite taken with it already — and not just the ungraceful name. It is, frankly, brilliant, more rustic than a pretty little crimped-edge 9-inch round and flakier too: the large swaths of dough manage show off their layers better than they do in smaller quantities, landing shatters and flecks like confetti all over your plate. Slab pie squares, especially the edges and corners, are more portable than wedges from a traditional round — how convenient for picnics and pot lucks — and if you’ve ever wanted to make a pie but known you had more than eight people to serve, this is your answer: pie for dozens. That is, if the baker is the generous sort.

slab pie, almost lidded
Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

asparagus with chorizo and croutons

asparagus with chorizo and croutons

I have been thinking a lot in the last couple of weeks about what it means to cook when you’re pressed for time. I’ve always had the luxury of time. Even when I juggled a full-time job and a site, the sum of my evening tasks were still only to make whatever I felt like making for dinner, and if dinner was done at 10 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m., we just shrugged it off.

asparagus

Alas, as you other mamas out there know, the third trimester is all about waking up one day in a frenetic frenzy, as I did out of the blue yesterday morning. If we’re about to go into lockdown for a couple months, there is so much we have left to do: the upholstery needs to be steam-cleaned! The baby’s room needs a dimmer switch! The printer cartridges are, like, totally out of ink! And I haven’t yet learned to cook respectable meals in a minimum of time.

croutons

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, July 18, 2009

peach and crème fraîche pie

peach and creme fraiche pie

Inadvertently, Martha has become my girl this week as I’ve been floundering around trying to figure out what to do with my seasonal produce that a) I haven’t done before and b) doesn’t require any great amount of fussing. Or work. Or adherence to recipes. (Okay, that last part may be more of a Deb than a Martha thing, but you won’t tell her, right?) The arugula, potato and green bean salad was good and well enough for a Wednesday night, but did little to help me turn last week’s languishing South Jersey peaches into something better. (Who forgets they have almost two pounds of farm fresh peaches in their fridge? Guilty as charged.)

south jersey peaches

I’ve already cobbler-ed, baited, dumpling-ed and shortcaked this summer, with a little extra hand pie thrown in on July 4th, and I wanted something new when Martha swept in, saving the day, with a pie that looked so ridiculously simple but curiously original, it had to be mine. Er, ours.

making the pie crustquartered and pitted peachespeaches, maceratingpeaches, creme fraiche, half-streuseled

Continued after the jump »


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