Archives for category: Entertaining

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Wow, August has been such a fulfilling and busy month. Somehow my last post was four weeks ago from Vermont! I stayed in that lovely state for nearly two weeks, came home for less than week, then was in Seattle for eight days. And now I’m in Philadelphia, celebrating my sister Emily’s 30th birthday, along with our older sister Hope. Traveling is good for my soul, less great for blogging.

I wasn’t about to show up in Philly empty handed so a birthday treat was in order. Cupcakes? Nah. A regular ole flour-based cake? Seemed uninspired. Blueberries are still in season and I’ve been interested in exploring more vegan and raw desserts so I turned to Emily von Euw’s blog, which has become one of my favorites to explore lately, and sure enough, got inspired.

Like a lot of raw and vegan desserts, this cake takes its base from a combination of nuts, coconut oil, and sweetener (in this case, maple syrup). And like a cheesecake, this cake ends up tasting creamy and rich, with strong overtones of the cashew flavor. It is freaking good. Find some local blueberries and keep that oven off. This was super easy to make and garners lots of “oohs” and “ahhs” and “wow, it’s vegan and raw?” And gluten free, as long as your oats are. So almost everyone can eat this cake!

Oh and are you following me on Instagram? I hope you will! @laduelala

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Blueberry Cheesecake
adapted from Emily von Euw

Crust
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1 1/4 dates
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
drizzle of maple syrup

Filling
2 1/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews, soaked overnight (or at least a few hours) and drained
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice from 1 small lemon or 1/2 large lemon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 coconut oil
Scant 1 cup water (less if water is transferred from your cashew’s soaking liquid)
2 1/4 cups blueberries

To make the crust: you’re essentially making oat flour out of your oats. Process in a blender until you achieve a pretty fine texture. If using a food processor or a blender with blades like a Ninja blender, then add the dates and maple syrup and process until it becomes one sticky mass. If using a regular blender, you will want to transfer the oat flour to a bowl and add the dates and maple syrup, mashing with your hands until it becomes a sticky dough. Then press the dough into the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan to form a crust (a springform pan would probably work great, but I don’t have one). I placed a large piece of saran wrap as a liner in my cake pan, underneath the oat crust. Chill in the refrigerator while you do the next steps.

To make the filling: blend everything together except the blueberries until it forms a thick and creamy mixture. Mine was a little watery so I added approximately two tablespoons of oats and re-blended, which helped. But go easy on that cup of water, start with a little less perhaps so you can judge the consistency. Poor half of this mixture onto the chilled crust in the cake pan. Then place one cup of the blueberries on top of this layer. Blend the remaining cup of blueberries with the remaining filling and process until smooth. Poor this on top of the blueberry layer. Chill in the refrigerator until it sets (a few hours at least), or you can place in the freezer, which is what I did, since I had to transport it to Philly. We made it.

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Here are some Seattle photos from last week.

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Olympic Sculpture Park right after sunrise.

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The International Fountain, in the shadow of the Space Needle. Kids love this place!
IMG_6054The Samarya Center, a yoga studio recommended by my teacher back home in New York, had the sweetest class there with founder Molly Lannon Kenny.

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Loved this store in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle called Totokaelo, a mashup of clothing, pottery, art journals, textiles, lighting design, and shoes. Found my friend Paul’s journal Convolution there, above, in orange.

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Sarah and I.

IMG_6095Molly Moon’s ice cream. Had maybe the best salted caramel I’d ever tried. Their waffle cones are made to order.

 

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You may have heard the northeastern U.S. got hit with a snowstorm Thursday night and New York City was no exception. It wasn’t massive or anything, maybe 8 inches, but it was enough to quiet the city the way that snow does here—by night, almost no cars on the road save for some yellow cabs and black livery cars, and by day, parents with children and sleds in tow headed for the parks.

As luck would have it I had to work my monthly shift at the Park Slope Food Coop yesterday, and while there, packaging cheddars and enjoying the rare luxury of an empty coop (no lines!), I got inspired to make two favorite cold-weather foods: cheese fondue and gingerbread. A shift-mate told me she was planning to make a gingerbread cake with Guinness and I thought, that’s just the thing. A gingerbread made with stout and molasses.

I found this recipe via the Smitten Kitchen blog, Claudia Fleming’s gingerbread from her days at Gramercy Tavern (but more recently of North Fork Table & Inn—I stayed there once, the breakfast was memorable). It produces a dark and stormy kind of gingerbread, with bite, not a timid cake. It’s intense and moody and spicy and just the way I like it. The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar on top of the 1 cup of molasses, so of course I reduced this, leaving out 1 cup of sugar and I think it’s just right this way. I also don’t own a bundt pan so cooked this in a glass 9 x 9 inch dish which worked out just fine. The cooking time was 45 minutes. (Only thing is this recipe produces more batter than I could fit in that sized dish so I’m left with a little excess batter which I plan to make into gingerbread muffins later today.)

Oh and I finally joined twitter. Much to my surprise, having a blast. Follow me @laduelala. Tweeting and retweeting on all manner of #food #art #architecture #yoga.

Molasses Stout Gingerbread
Adapted from Claudia Fleming

1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar (either packed dark brown sugar or 1/2 brown sugar 1/2 maple syrup)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Accompaniment: Unsweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a bundt pan (or other baking dish) generously and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature. Note: make sure saucepan is large because when the baking soda is added the mixture puffs up like a soufflé.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into your pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes in a bunt, 45 minutes in a 9 x 9 square dish. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It’s also nice served with a cup of black tea.

Some say this gingerbread is better if made a day ahead.

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Photo below of the Christopher Wool exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. It’s up til the 22nd of January.

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Fall and baking go together like birthdays and cupcakes; Brooklyn and BAM; your right and left shoe. Or, turns out, pears and polenta.

As soon as the weather turns crisp I want to be in my kitchen on a Saturday with the oven on, music playing (well, really, NPR Saturday programming), and time on my hands to knead, stir, blend, bake. There’s something comforting and satisfying about making pies, cakes, and muffins using the last of the year’s good local produce.

A few weeks ago I was at a dinner party and my lovely friend served this easy-to-make polenta-pear-olive oil cake. She couldn’t have known, but those are three of my favorite ingredients and the combination was a revelation. I’ve had olive oil cake before, and maybe even cornmeal olive oil cake, but never with the addition of pear. The olive oil produces a crispy crust-like top that provides a satisfying crunch.

The recipe is from Lucy Waverman—”the Melissa Clark of Canada” is how my friends, the dinner party hosts who are from Montreal, described her. She writes a regular column for The Globe and Mail newspaper and I’m happy to have discovered her simple and seasonal recipes!

This is a snap to make and you’re sure to love it. It’s not too sweet to begin with but you could even reduce the sugar a little bit like I did. Would also make great muffins, just reduce the cooking time. Oh and if you don’t want to poach your own pears you can use canned pears and just reduce the canned pear syrup.

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Polenta, Pear & Olive Oil Cake
From Lucy Waverman, The Globe & Mail

For the poached pears

1 cup water
½ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
1 star anise, broken up, optional
1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 pears, peeled, quartered and cored

For the cake

1¼ cup polenta or cornmeal
¾ cup all-purpose flour [I used half whole-wheat flour and half white]
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup sugar [I used 1/4 cup sugar]
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the poached pears:

Combine water, sugar, honey, star anise and cinnamon stick in a small pot and bring to boil. Add pears. Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and a knife slides in easily. Remove from heat and let cool in poaching liquid. Remove from pot, reserving ½ cup poaching liquid. Chop pears and pat dry with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

For the cake:

Butter and flour a loaf pan and line the base with parchment paper.

Combine polenta, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Reserve.

Cream together butter, honey and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs and yolk one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add reserved flour mixture and mix together until just combined. Stir in olive oil and fold in chopped poached pears.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and remove from pan.

While cake is cooling, reduce reserved pear poaching liquid over medium heat for 5 minutes or until thick and syrupy.

Prick holes in warm cake and brush liberally with syrup.

This time last year I made these: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls and Rustic Harvest Tart.

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