Archives for category: Desserts

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Rhubarb rhubarb everywhere. It is a sure sign of spring turning into summer. It means, here in the northeast U.S., peak asparagus has passed, strawberries are not far behind, and early summer lettuces are at their best. And I have a newly potted basil plant on my fire escape next to sweat peas that are appearing as thin tall shoots.

This week, rhubarb could be found at every farmer’s market around New York City, just asking to be brought home and stewed, baked, or turned into jam.

Two Junes ago I made a strawberry rhubarb pie and last year it was a rhubarb crumb cake. This year I was thinking more along the lines of caramelizing the stalks and pairing with ginger. I managed the former but forgot all about the latter. (I blame that on the fact I was baking while trying to watch the men’s French Open final.) I ended up with an upside-down cake—you melt butter and sugar in a cast-iron skillet then add the rhubarb, caramelizing the pieces and adding a flour mixture on top.

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In other food-related news this week, I was lucky to dine at Brooklyn’s Mile End with my friend Daniela, where chef Eli Sussman (2014 James Beard nominee) treated us royally. Two highlights for me were the roasted sunchoke salad with curry yogurt and the cauliflower tabbouleh. On Friday I was at a meeting on Elizabeth Street and found myself face to face with the new Black Seed Bagels. Hand rolled, wood fired, best bagel I’ve had in years. Last night, after a long fun day at Rockaway Beach, I had the pleasure of eating at Greenpoint’s Selamat Pagi, serving food inspired by Bali. It’s from the team behind the delicious Van Leeuwen ice cream and Chef Jason Greenberg; as my friends said, how nice to eat something other than “new American.” Oh, and, when in Greenpoint…you must stop at Peter Pan Donuts & Pastry Shop. We got the ice cream sandwich between chocolate donut halves. What a day.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
adapted from Kenzi Wilbur, Food52

3/4 c sugar plus scant 1/2 c
4 tbsp unsalted butter plus 1 stick and 5 tbsp cut into small cubes and chilled
Zest of one lemon
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 c whole milk
2 eggs

Heat the oven to 375F. Melt 3/4 c sugar, 4 tbsp butter, the lemon zest and juice, vanilla, and 1/4 tsp salt in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once the butter and sugar have melted add the rhubarb, stirring occasionally. It will take between 5 and 10 minutes for the rhubarb to cook through, depending on their size.*

In the meantime, combine the remaining sugar and salt, plus flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add remaining butter, and using your fingers, rub into flour mixture to form coarse pea-size pieces. Add the milk and eggs and stir until a sticky dough forms. (You may need an extra splash of milk for the dough to stick together.)

Spread the dough over the warm rhubarb mixture, trying to cover the entire surface. Bake on a baking sheet until the cake is golden and cooked through, about 35 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and let the cake rest for about 10 minutes. Now very carefully, place a large flat plate underneath the skillet and invert deftly. If any of the rhubarb has stuck to the skillet just scrape off and you can place back on the cake. This cake would be yummy served with unsweetened whipped cream, vanilla or ginger ice cream, or just plain of course.

*It is at this point that I intended to add about 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh ginger! I totally forgot. You could also add about 1/4 tsp dried ginger to the flour mixture.

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This was somewhat of a magical spring weekend in Brooklyn. Finally, warmth. Finally, a reason to use sunscreen. Finally, dust off the bike and get in the park. I didn’t waste a minute of it. Saturday I was at the farmer’s market in Grand Army Plaza plucking asparagus and radishes (post to come soon). The cherry blossoms made a rosé carpet of petals. Today it was the Fifth Avenue market in Park Slope, stopping by to visit friends at the Butterstein’s kettle corn stand and Runner & Stone‘s tent for Peter Endriss’s almond croissants and rye miche. Other weekend treats included nettle gnochi (from Runner & Stone’s brick-and-mortar restaurant in Gowanus), tatsoi dressed with lemon and olive oil that I made at home, and these chocolate coconut date bars. Raw, vegan. Inspired by fellow blogger Emily von Euw’s recipe for chocolate cream caramel bars over at This Rawsome Vegan Life.

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My friend Jill and I made some substitutions which ultimately worked well but left us with more of a peanut-butter-and-jelly style bar than a chocolate-cream-caramel. We substituted a cup of dates in the nut butter layer with a cup of dried cherries (because we ran out of dates, oops!); and we used peanut butter instead of cashew butter mostly because it’s cheaper. Next time though I think I’ll try with the cashew butter and dates, but this version is lip-smacking. And there is no baking, no heat involved. All you need is a blender or food processor.

And go see the new Jon Favreau movie Chef. It’s the story of a father learning how to get close to his son. It’s a story about how to make the best Cubanos. About how not to settle in life. Just don’t watch this movie hungry like I did.

I also include a photo below of the new Dan Graham installation on the Met’s rooftop garden. If you’re in New York, go see it!  The views, even on a rainy misty evening, are sublime.

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Chocolate Coconut Date Bars (Raw & Vegan)
Adapted from This Rawsome Vegan Life

For the crust:
1 1/4 cup almond flour (or 1 cup almonds)
1 cup dates
pinch of salt

For the nut butter layer:
1/2 cup peanut butter or cashew butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup dried cherries or dates

For the chocolate layer:
1/3 cup coconut oil
2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup sweetener (I used date syrup; maple syrup or honey would work)
Sea salt, for sprinkling

To make the crust:
Blend the almonds (or almond flour) with the dates in a food processor or blender until smooth and stuck together. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a loaf pan or 8 x 8 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate while you prepare the rest.

To make the remaining two layers:
Mix the nut butter, coconut oil, and dried cherries or dates in your food processor or blender until smooth. Pour over the slightly chilled crust layer. Refrigerate while you prepare the final layer. Wipe out your blender and add the remaining coconut oil, cocoa powder, and sweetener. Blend until smooth and pour this final layer on top. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Or in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Before serving sprinkle some Maldon sea salt flakes over the top.

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Friday night I saw the the film The Lunchbox, a love story of sorts centered around Mumbai’s incredibly efficient lunchbox delivery system. If you watch this movie hungry your stomach will be grumbling throughout, craving the mouth-watering curries that the lucky character Saajan gets to eat each day for lunch. It also made me want to remake my red lentil tarkaspicy coconut curry, and quick curry.

But this post takes a different tack. Inspired by the craze of cross-pollinating baked goods all over this town I read Julia Moskin’s story in this week’s Times with interest. I can’t really say or write “scuffin” without smirking (cronut is easier for some reason), so I’m not calling these that. These are basically muffins filled with jam. I didn’t include the cream from the original recipe although I’m sure that would be tasty (I just rarely have cream on hand and it didn’t seem totally necessary here). I also added whole grain rye flour instead of using all-purpose pastry flour, making for a richer, slightly denser flavor that I like, kinda the philosophy of Tartine’s Book No. 3, on baking with whole grains.

If you’re avoiding butter and eggs (I’m looking at you my vegan friends) you could substitute coconut oil for the butter, and half a mashed banana for the egg. Check out this post for a few different vegan egg replacements for baking. And if you use the coconut oil instead of butter, use 1/4 c additional coconut oil instead of the olive oil that’s called for below, that will just keep for a more consistent flavor.

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Whole Grain Muffins with Jam
adapted from Julia Moskin, The New York Times

4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing muffin tins
1 c whole-wheat flour
3/4 c rye flour (you can use all-purpose or any other type you like)
1/4 c wheat germ
3 tbsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 c whole milk
1/4 c olive oil
approx. 1/2 c of your favorite fruit jam

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease 12 muffin cups with butter and set aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the butter and add to the dry ingredients, mixing with a fork until just combined.

In a separate bowl whisk together the egg (or 1/2 banana if using), milk, and olive oil, and add to the dry ingredients until just combined.

Scoop the dough into the muffin tins, reserving about 1/4 of the dough for topping. Make a small well in the dough and drop in a spoonful of your favorite fruit jam. Using the remaining dough cover the tops of the muffins, across the top you can scatter a little sugar, or flax seeds, or poppy seeds, crushed nuts might be good too.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until browned. Let cool then, using a butter knife, transfer out of the tins to a rack.

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Yields 12 muffins

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