Archives for category: Butter

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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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It is said that moving is one of life’s biggest stressors. Moving and cooking is particularly challenging. Your cutting boards are packed away. You can’t remember where you stashed your favorite knife. You tossed all the half-bags of flours, dried beans, and pastas from your pantry and need to start over. (I should’ve kept that buckwheat flour.)

But moving is a chance to start over, to recycle reams of old bills and pay stubs, donate books and embarrassing shoes worn to first job interviews, re-order surroundings and re-sort the mind. Packing is revealing. It had been three years since my last move, and this would be my fifth apartment in Brooklyn in nine years. I came across car registration paperwork from the city of Cambridge c. 2005; acceptance and rejection letters to grad school; final papers from my senior year of college. Stacks of business cards from a job I haven’t had in years! Why had I been holding onto this stuff all these apartments later? It’s interesting that, with each move, you become willing to throw more and more away. The half-life of my nostalgia seems to be about 8-10 years. So, yes, I’m just now tossing birthday cards from 2006 (not the pretty handmade ones) and more Verizon flip phones than I care to admit.

I spent days eating cheap takeout amid boxes and boxes, just like in the movies. And around Day 5 I’d had enough. I dug out a couple of pans and utensils and made my inaugural meal. Kosheri from the first Ottolenghi cookbook. A humble meal really. Basmati rice that’s toasted with cinnamon and nutmeg, mixed with lentils, and served either with a tomato sauce or yogurt and cucumbers. Topped off with crunchy fried onions, the best part. It tasted so good. I felt brought back to life a little.

I’ve never been to Glasserie in Greenpoint. And I moved to Ditmas Park which might as well be another country from North Brooklyn. There are probably more people between me and Greenpoint than in the entire state of Vermont. (Population of Vermont: roughly 600,000; population of Brooklyn: roughly 2 million). But one day I hope to eat there, after a long journey on the Q, then the L, then the G train. And once there, I will eat cardamom sugar buns, pickled prunes, pistachios with kaffir lime leaf. I hear their flaky bread is divine. So until I can make it to the old glass factory building on Commercial Street, this homemade version will have to do. Not bad for having moved one week ago.

Glasserie’s Flaky Bread
via Bon Appétit

1 tsp salt
3 c all-purpose flour (or 2 c all-p, 1 c whole wheat)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (I used cultured butter) + more at room temp for brushing
Good crunchy sea salt, like Maldon
Olive oil

Combine the salt and flour in a large bowl. Drizzle in the melted butter and mix well. Add 3/4 c water and combine. Kneed the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes, until the dough is shiny and soft. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in a warm spot for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight.

Divide the dough into 10 pieces and shape into balls. Place the balls on a baking sheet, cover with plastic, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out balls on an unfloured surface with a rolling pin into very thin rounds or ovals (about 9″ in diameter). If the dough bounces back, cover with plastic and let rest a few additional minutes.

Brush the tops of the rounds with room-temperature butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Roll up each round onto itself to create a long thin rope then wind each rope around itself, creating a tight coil.

Working with 1 coil at a time, roll out on an unfloured surface to 10″ rounds, no more than 1/8″ thick. Stack as you go, separating with parchment paper brushed with oil to make things easier.

Heat a large cast-iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. And one at a time, brush both sides of the dough with more room-temperature butter and cook until lightly blistered and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer bread to a wire rack to cool and sprinkle with more sea salt.

Serve plain, with shakshuka, your favorite jam, avocado, labneh, hummus, the possibilities are endless really. Next time I’d toast some sesame and poppy seeds and add this to the dough before rolling out, or fresh herbs.

You can also roll out the coils and freeze, wrapped tightly, up to one month. Cook from frozen, adding an additional 1-2 minutes cooking time.

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