Lest I forget, I love to cook, and it seems that lately I’ve chosen to stay in and dedicate more time to the therapeutic experience of my craft. It’s an art, and a practice, and I’m thankful when I am able to tap into that creative vein. It rarely disappoints.
The next generation involved cornmeal intermingled with honey and lemon-verbena-scented custard. This batter held a coarser consistency, however once baked, the cornmeal coalesced into soft and spongy cream-soaked layer, reminiscent of graham crackers in milk. Extremely comforting. Tart blackberries complemented the wild honey and kept it bright and easy to justify eating pretty much any time of day.
- Salt eggplant with ~1/2-1 tsp of salt, then set in a colander to drain. This will aid the eggplant in releasing some of its water content. Set aside and proceed with the following.
- In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-low and add garlic, shallot and onion. I used a 4-quart wide-bottom Le Cruset enameled cast iron, which I knew would handle the volume. Season with salt and pepper; ~1/2 teaspoon each, or a nice healthy pinch.
- Once the aromatics are glossy and golden, add the red pepper puree and another pinch of salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to simmer for a good 30-45 minutes, until the volume is reduced by about half.
- Next, add the tomato puree and continue to simmer, giving a gentle stir every 20-30 minutes or so. The sauce will simmer for ~1.5 hours, during which time you’ll proceed with roasting the eggplant and zucchini
- Preheat oven to 450. Line two large baking sheets with parchment. Pat the eggplant dry, then toss both eggplant and zucchini with a generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Roast until nicely-charred, about 40 minutes. This may require shifting pans about halfway through, and may require two stages due to the sheer quantity of veggies. However, this dish has nothing but time on its hands. Set roasted veg aside for later.
- Once the tomato base has reduced considerably, down to a mere quart, maximum, and the olive oil has become visible on the surface of the sauce, fold in the roasted vegetables. Give the mix a few more healthy gratings of pepper.
- Fold in basil and thyme. Taste again and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
1 c shredded coconut
1 c dried cherries
1 c pumpkin seeds
1/2 c sesame seeds
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 c tahini
1/2 c honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit
Line an 8×8 glass baking dish with parchment, or grease with coconut oil or butter; set aside.
Combine salt with tahini and honey and warm over low-medium heat until just bubbly. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl; add tahini-honey mixture; stir until incorporated.
Using oiled hands, press evenly into pan.
Bake for ~20-25 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Cut into bars.
Bars will keep for ~5-7 days at room temperature when stored in an airtight container. Freeze for longer storage.
I’ve had intention to post for a while now. Sometimes words are difficult when I’m experiencing a full spectrum of emotion. I’d rather project a sunnier disposition.
I’d recently been gifted some pearls of wisdom that have become woven into my consciousness and given me sustenance. While the intended topic was somewhat unrelated, the sentiment resonated with me in such a way that I feel it in my quiet moments, reminding me to quickly get myself back to doing what I love.And so while my heart just hasn’t been there, I go through the motions, and find some nourishment, physically, emotionally and spiritually. In feeding others. In feeding myself. In running and not being concerned about time or distance. In foraging, photographing, hugs, conversation.
I picked mulberries and thimbleberries with a dear friend, I made lavender honey custard pie that would knock your (argyle) socks off. I crafted a salad with Sunday afternoon’s farmer’s market bounty.
And I said goodbye to a loved one.
Sitting here as I’m typing this, the scent of rhubarb and lemon verbena are filling my cosy little apartment, and brightening my spirits.
At six a.m.
I’ll share more on that later, but for now, here’s a recipe for a salad that’s been sustaining me for the past several days. I roasted some walnuts with a bit of honey, olive oil and salt, then pulled together the remaining ingredients, rather quickly. The lemon-thyme vinaigrette is the perfect complement to the sweet astringency of the walnuts and the bitter kale. It’s a great one-dish meal.
Enjoy, and much love,
Kale and Farro Salad
2 c farro, cooked
2 c finely shredded flat-leaf kale
1/4 c finely diced red onion
1/4 c toasted walnuts
2 medium to hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
1/4 c olive oil
juice of 1/2 large lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together; set aside.
Combine cooked farro, kale, onion and toasted walnuts in a large bowl. Combine with vinaigrette, and garnish with egg when serving.
My father is the champion of all things kitchen. He has more gadgets than I care to mention, and what seems like an endless amount of storage space with which to put them. I, on the other hand, have had to whittle things down to fit into my urban kitchen.
Rhubarb Thyme Gelato with Caramel Cream
Caramel milk base:
1 1/4 c milk
1/2 c cream
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped, or 1 tsp vanilla
Rhubarb Thyme Compote:
8 oz rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 c sugar
2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Combine milk, sugar, salt and vanilla bean, if using, in a small saucepan. Over moderate heat, stir until sugar dissolves, then continue to summer until reduced to ~1 cup. Remove from heat; add cream and vanilla, if using liquid. Pour into bowl and chill.
While milk is simmering, prepare compote:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Let bubble over medium heat until rhubarb is soft and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Remove thyme stems and then place in a glass container or bowl and chill.
Pour cream base into gelato maker and prepare according to manufacturer directions. When firm, add 2/3 c rhubarb compote. There will be a bit left over, which will taste fantastic on scones or toast, or mixed with yogurt.
Freeze up to two weeks, though gelato is best enjoyed within 1-3 days.
This weekend, I was able to do a bit of pruning at my father’s and took home a moderately sized sack of perfectly rosy beauts. I’d been planning to make dessert for some friends, and, given our glorious hint of early summer, a sort of strawberry-rhubarb shortcake came to mind. A recipe I’d discovered recently boasted a sweet-savory concoction of roasted fruit with balsamic and maple flavors, which brought my own craft into the sweet-savory realm. I dreamt of thyme and pepper-coated berries and barb, caramelized and tender, folded into layers of whipped cream and fluffy biscuits.
It’s no secret that I love a good cake. Or a cookie, or a pie. When I’d happened upon a recipe for a ricotta-based cake recently, I had to try it. I am a huge fan of ricotta cheesecake, and after making several flour-based cakes with yogurt or buttermilk, I had no doubt that incorporating ricotta into a cake would result in something rich, moist and luxurious. I fantasized about it for days and proceeded to make it over Mother’s day weekend (you’ll find a in image of the finished product in my last post).
While the flavor was superb, especially alongside freshly-made mango sorbet, I was not pleased with the consistency. I was craving a cake with a firmer crumb, one would pair well with a velvety cup of black coffee or tea.
Needless to say, I was sucked into the vortex of time by other responsibilities (and not to mention, tartlets!). I’d nearly forgotten about the cake until last Sunday. After a leisurely day spent with friends, I was gifted with a jar of grapefruit marmalade, made by my most fabulous and talented friend, Lisa. The peel was candied to the point of jewel-like perfection; the fruit bathed in bitter-sweet syrupy goodness. At that moment, thoughts of a Ricotta and Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit Marmalade began swirling about in my head.I’m rather pleased with the consistency. Dense, but with a delicate spring, the cake pulled easily away from the pan’s edges and turned the most glorious of nut-brown. The cornmeal gave it just the right amount of toothsome crunch I was hoping for, and kept the cake appropriately moist. Dots of marmalade tucked into the batter gave it a flirty and sweet astringency, however what brought it all together was the marmalade syrup that was drizzled on top while still warm.I’d meant to reserve a slice for photographing, however this cake didn’t make it more than two days. Needless to say, I received many accolades and had to restrain myself from buying more ricotta at the grocery this afternoon.Enjoy, and much love,JRicotta and Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit MarmaladeIngredients10 tbsp butter3/4 c sugarzest of 1/2 lemon3 eggs, separated1 c ricotta, drained of excess water1/2 c unbleached white flour1/4 c cornmeal1/2 tsp salt2 tsp baking powder1/4 c grapefruit marmaladeMethodPreheat oven to 350 degreesGenerously butter a medium-sized bundt pan, or an 8-inch round pan.In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients. set aside.Combine butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Cream for 2-3 minutes, until light, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.Add egg yolks, one at a time, then add ricotta and lemon zest.Mix in dry ingredients with a few swift turns. Be cautious not to over-mix.In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until firm, but not dry. Fold into batter.Pour about half of the batter into pan. Drop spoonfuls of marmalade onto batter, then cover with remaining batter.Insert a skewer or the handle of a spoon into batter and swirl slightly to incorporate the marmalade; smooth top of batter.Bake for ~50 minutes, until cake is set and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.Remove from oven; cool on rack for ~10 minutes then invert.While cake is cooling, quickly warm 2 tbsp of marmalade with 1 tsp of honey. Pour over inverted cake.**Note: this cake keeps well on the counter for 1-2 days, or in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, one can imagine.I didn’t find the need to test that theory.
- Combine all ingredients except chopped chocolate and water in a food processor.
- Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until mixture is just starting to come together. Stir in chopped chocolate.
- Press into a 9×9 pan, or other mould and chill.
- Cut into bars. Refrigerate for up 2-3 weeks, or freeze for several months.