May, 2012 Archive

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

rhubarb snacking cake

rhubarb snacking cake

Almost every year, as soon as the weather gets warm, I become obsessed with a simple, single layer cake that can be made in little time and that I promise will be all you need to be welcome at any picnic/barbecue/cook out/pot-luck that summer.

pretty stalks of rhubarb, at last
rhubarb with sugar and lemon juice

Three years ago, it was a raspberry buttermilk cake, which was the equivalent of taking a single, thin layer from the very best yellow birthday cake you’ve ever had, scattering fresh raspberries over it and baking it until bronzed and perfect. Needless to say, it went on repeat. Later that summer, it was blueberry boy bait, a cake so decadent and buttery I briefly questioned if it had too much butter, then checked my pulse, realized any talk of too much butter was simply madness, and enjoyed the cake thoroughly for as long as the blueberries lasted. (Also, it worked.) Last year I become enamored with something I called a strawberry summer cake. Round and finely crumbed, yet almost butter-slathered-hot-biscuit in texture, it works best with just-picked and borderline-overripe strawberries that, when baked, nearly dissolve into jammy puddles throughout the cake. I also found that I liked it with some of the regular flour replaced with barley flour; just trust me, it works.

sour cream cake batter

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

tzatziki potato salad

tzatziki potato salad

I don’t eat potato salad for lunch. That would be… unhealthy, irresponsible, gluttonous, and nutritionally unbalanced. However, I have found that when potato salad exists in the fridge, it has a way of becoming lunch, usually through a nibble that becomes a forkful which eventually leads to succumbing to the fact that potato salad, on occasion, make a fine carb-bomb of a warm weather lunch.

two pounds, ready to boil
quartered tiny potatoes

Fortunately, there are entries in the potato salad archives for times just like these. Three years ago, I made a pesto potato salad with green beans and, so you know, adding green beans to potatoes totally makes it a balanced lunch. Last year, I made a spring salad with new potatoes — see how tricky I was there? It’s mostly salad, with early vegetables like asparagus, radishes, and sugar snaps but it’s also got a few potatoes in there and a sharp Dijon vinaigrette. And today, I made a tzatziki potato salad heaped with a pound of shredded, cold cucumber, lemon and garlic yogurt, and oh, there are some potatoes in there too. It’s as lunchy as potatoes can be and considering that I was able to make it in the all-too-slim margin between preschool drop-off, grocery shopping, and the post-preschool I’m-huuuungry-mama meltdown, I think it will be my go-to potato salad this summer, should the rains ever stop long enough for us to put some lamb skewers on the grill.

feeding the cuke into the chute

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Monday, May 21, 2012

vidalia onion soup with wild rice

vidalia onion soup with wild rice

I believe I owe you some soup. When the soup was promised, it was rainy, bleary, and insufficiently May-like to please me, though I doubt Deb Not Being Pleased ranks anywhere on near the top of the concerns list of whatever powers control the weather (or, for that matter, Deb’s toddler when he’s set his mind to emptying mama’s purse on the floor again), seeing as we have another week of it on order. Fortunately, this is a soup for exactly these trying spring times.

imported vidalias
wild rice, i love you

My love of hearty crocks of hearty French onion soup is well-documented (it’s the rare recipe I’ve covered twice in the archives, and you just know I had to riff on it here) because I have to insist that nothing is so loud with flavor as onions, cooked for an hour with a meaty broth and cognac, then broiled with a charred cap of strong cheese. Oof, how long must we wait until it gets cold again?

the quintessential vidalia shape

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

chocolate buckwheat cake

chocolate buckwheat cake

There are rainy, dreary, energy depleted days when the best thing you can do at 3 p.m. is to stop pretending that anything short of chocolate cake is going to improve your outlook. Tuesday was that kind of day and, just my luck, this happened to be a rainy Tuesday kind of chocolate cake.

chopping bittersweet chocolate
buckwheat flour with ground almonds

But before that, I really tried to tell you about soup, soup with whole grains and seasonal onions and floating croutons of pungent cheese. I really tried. But I found that the same conditions that led to the need for a hearty soup on a Monday night in May — a gray day in which my brain a little fried from a week at the beach and maladjustment back to real life — also made it impossible to discuss soup in any kind of articulate manner on Tuesday. And so, I made chocolate cake instead. If this site had a subtitle, that would be it.

what you'll need + bea's inspiration

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Friday, May 11, 2012

warm, crisp and a little melty salad croutons

warm, crisp and a little melty goat cheese salad crouton

Several years ago, my job required that I occasionally fly here and there for conferences and, oh, they were not fun. I know that many conferences today are wonderful events where wonderful people meet and expand their professional horizons but those for me were all about windowless conference rooms, buzzing fluorescent lights, and all hopes that I would be able to “get out!” and “see a new city!” dashed when I realized I would, in fact, need to file articles from my hotel room that night. On the lowest of these trips, I found myself gazing at a painfully unappetizing room service menu and came across an item called a “fried cheese collage” and this, I am sad to say, was the last straw.

two goat cheeses

“What is WRONG with this world?” I grumpily, nay, hangrily told my husband over the phone. “Fried cheese? Why does cheese need to be breaded and fried? Isn’t cheese lovely without breading? Without frying?”

grated and smashed

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