Photo Archive

Thursday, June 26, 2014

cherry almond dutch baby

cherry almond dutch baby

If I were forced, because it was my job or something terrible like that, to come up with some sort of World Cup of Pancakes ranking system, it would go something like this: rumpled bed sheet-like pancakes > flat, round disc pancakes. Pancakes with fresh fruit, baked and leaky within > pancakes without fresh fruit inside. Pancakes recipes that instruct only “mix everything” > pancake recipes that make you separate wet, dry and other ingredients. Pancakes that I can decide to make on a whim and have on my plate in just over 20 minutes > pancakes that will find me still ladling, flipping, turning over a hot frying pan with 2/3 of the seemingly interminable bowl of batter still to go 20 minutes later.

my favorite part of june
pitting cherries

Not that I’ve given this matter any serious thought or anything. Surely there are more pressing things that should warrant my attention [such as this apartment that won't clean itself, or debating whether we should move to a new one (that perhaps will?), or how to unload the 25 cookbooks I just thinned from my bookshelves, something I don't think would feel more satisfying if I had thinned them from my actual person, etc.] But it’s summer and my brain and ambition have already gone soft. The markets are awash in cherries, and if I could get away with it, I’d spend the next few weeks eating them for every meal of the day.

just mix everything

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, June 19, 2014

frozen coconut limeade

frozen coconut limeade

New York City is a terrible place to summer. Whereas some water-bound towns have cool breezes rolling in off the ocean all day, we can better rely on the hot exhale of garbage trucks. Offices are set to roughly the same temperature as a polar ice cap, but subway platforms are so unfathomably sweltering that on my first day in NYC 14 years ago, I — adorably, like the wee baby New Yorker I was — uttered the words, “Is this even legal?” It’s a rare day that you don’t walk down the sidewalk and have a window a/c unit drip you-don’t-want-to-know run-off on your head. Flip-flops may cool your feet outside, but you may never recover from seeing the new color of your toes at the end of a day, and it always seems like everyone but me has Summer Fridays. The city tries, it really does, to make things more livable: the 14 beaches are free, there are dozens and dozens of free public pools, something like a zillion sprinkler parks, and you know all those endless photos you see of children frolicking in spraying fire hydrants? Hardly a symbol urban decay, it’s actually legal and encouraged. But the fact is that from July 4th on (and possibly earlier this year), anyone that has the means to be elsewhere is, and the rest of us plebes schvitz it out on the pavement.

limes saved from fridge extinction
gratuitous limes

And this summer, we’re going to do it grandly. We are going to embrace the heat. We are going to pretend we are someplace tropical and glamorous. Our summer house awaits… uh, in the blender.

lime juice for days

Continued after the jump »

Monday, June 16, 2014

valerie’s french chocolate cake

valerie's french chocolate cake

My friend Valerie makes one chocolate cake. No, I don’t mean one chocolate cake for school birthday cupcakes and one for grown-up dinner parties, one for wedding cakes and one for really decadent layer cakes, one for roulades and one for a Thursday afternoon, just because. I mean just one recipe. She serves it plain to guests after dinner, she makes it when she hears it’s your birthday and she stacks, and coats it hypercolored frosting and studs it with superheroes for her kids’ birthdays.

what you'll need
melted chocolate and butter

It’s incredibly simple, just butter (she’s French, so bien sûr), dark chocolate, sugar, flour, a bit of baking powder and her secret ingredient: water. A spoonful or two here and another there creates a decadent crumb you won’t read about in any cookbook. Sure, you could use milk or maybe replace a spoonful with some kirsch but she does not so I do not. The whole thing, save some hand-whisked egg yolks and machine-whipped egg whites (which gives it an airy lift and almost crackly meringue of a lid), is mixed in the pot where you melt the chocolate. It bakes in 30 minutes, which is convenient when your afternoon is rerouted, and tastes amazing. And I bet she regrets ever giving me the recipe.

stir the flour right in

Continued after the jump »

Monday, June 9, 2014

pasta and fried zucchini salad

ottolenghi's pasta and fried zucchini salad

Every time I make an Ottolenghi recipe, I become convinced that he has finally lost his mind. Really, turmeric, black sesame seeds and parmesan together? Three tablespoons of fresh oregano? A full half-cup of tahini? And as my anxiety grows — you see, I, too, understand the bubble of time, ingredients and trust that we invest into new recipes, which, when popped, leads to the kind of frustration that can only be righted with a scalding review — I wonder if this will be it, the day I finally make an Ottolenghi recipe that’s just plain off. And, without fail, we sit down to something so spectacular in a way I hadn’t even considered before, I’m in awe of his talent and relieved that I ignored every instinct not to follow his recipe faithfully.

pasta, buffalo mozzarella, vinegar, oil, zucchini, lemon, capers, parsley, basil
strozzapreti

This was no different. It looks like a basic pesto pasta, doesn’t it? But it’s not really. Sure, there’s basil and olive oil. But it lacks the other ingredients of pesto genovese — garlic, toasted pignoli and parmesan. Instead, basil is blended with flat-leaf parsley, and the zest of a whole lemon, tablespoons of capers and torn chunks of fresh mozzarella are stirred in. The star of the show is three zucchini, cut into thin discs, fried until golden and then soaked in a bit of red wine vinegar to make something that’s neither crisp nor chip-like nor pickled but more intruiguing than all three. And then there’s the edamame, yes, the soybeans popular in East Asian dishes, here in a pasta-pesto combo. I couldn’t do it! It was too strange to me and I became bent on securing fresh shelling peas, which I think would be fantastic here, only to leave the Greenmarket in a pout (likely because I was still carrying 10+ pounds of things I hadn’t intended to buy, as always) because they’re not in yet.

zucchini in thin slices

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, June 5, 2014

coconut brown butter cookies

coconut brown butter cookies

I realize that most people don’t go to the City Bakery or their green Birdbath outlets for coconut cookies. They come in droves to load up on the legendary chocolate chip cookies, pretzel croissants or even the alien-looking baker’s muffin. The coconut cookie — an almost monotone golden brown that resembles a million other cookies on earth — just doesn’t inspire the same kind of fervor. But I think it should. If you’re familiar with the place, you could probably have guessed that Maury Rubin, the owner/chief baker of the chain — he who bakes caramel, almonds and fresh cranberries together in a way that you will never want to go without again — wasn’t going to put just any coconut cookie in his bakery case. Yet, to actually bite into one is still astonishing: how did they get all of that butter in there? Or in short: goodbye boring macaroons, forever!

flaked coconut, you'll need a lot
this dough

As should be abundantly evident by now, I’m a bit obsessed with them, and finally decided in January that I was going to reverse engineer them or fail wildly trying. And oh, how wildly I failed, first auditioning a straightforward drop cookie with sweetened flaked coconut that was not even close. Then I decided to fiddle with all of my favorite baking vices: brown butter! sea salt! homemade vanilla extract! But I was still miles from the bakery case dream. And then, two weeks ago, I fell down the most wonderful internet rabbit hole, which began with these Blue Sky Bran Muffins, followed by a comment Patty which directed the curious to Maury Rubin demonstrating his Corn Muffins with Pear and Candied Ginger on Martha Stewart’s TV show, with an embedded video segment that I watched until the end, at which point my reward was revealed in the following 17 words: “After the break, I’ll be back with Maury to make a recipe for the perfect coconut cookie.”

browned butter, ready to chillbrowned butter, fully chilled

Continued after the jump »