Archives for category: Holidays

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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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Happy holidays and happy new year folks!

This post came into being in a very round about way. I was reading the New York Times article on baking whole grain holiday cookies, recipes courtesy of Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. What a smart idea. I’ve been doing this already, and wanting to do it more, and am so glad someone’s already gone and made a whole cookbook on baking with whole grains. And not in some preachy, eat-more-whole-grains-they’re-good-for-you way, but because, as Chad says, they just taste more complex and interesting. So right Chad.

For instance you could make these thumbprint cookies with toasted nuts and whole grains, using dark rye flour. Check out Chad’s Tartine Book No. 3 which is chock-a-block with similar recipes.

Anyway this led me to reading about Tartine’s earlier cookbook, Tartine Bread, and a recipe for Whole Grain Seeded Bread. This was last night. It was late. I’m in holiday vacation mode, game for baking. I very quickly scanned the recipe I found online and thought, great, I’ll get the dough started tonight, head to bed, and bake it in the morning! Unfortunately at every turn in the recipe I realized it was more involved, more complex, than I’d been prepared for. (And I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand.) But there was no going back, I’d already mixed a large quantity of flour and water and besides, I love a good challenge.

This recipe uses a pre-ferment: a mixture of flour, water, and yeast that sits overnight to develop a flavor in the bread that is more, well, complex and tasty. The pre-ferment is later added to the rest of the dough the following day. This recipe also calls for baking the bread at a high temperature (475 degrees) and in a covered dutch oven the first 20 minutes, and uncovered for the last 20 minutes. The recipe below is my very adapted version of the original from Tartine, accounting for which ingredients I had on hand (whole wheat flour but not whole grain wheat flour; sesame seeds but not flax or poppy), and my slight lack in patience (original recipe would take a total of at least two days from start to finish). And you know what? The bread turned out real good. With a tang like the San Francisco style sourdough loaves. And only 12 hours from start to finish (including sleep time), so get baking!

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Whole Grain Seeded Bread
Adapted from Chad Robertson
[Measurements are rough, not precise; recipe was given in metric so I tried to convert as best I could, and reduce the recipe—the original of which would’ve produced more like 3 loaves, whereas this produces 1 large-ish loaf]

For the pre-ferment
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c warm water (approx. 70 deg. F)
1 gram active dry yeast (about 1/3 tsp)

Prepare this pre-ferment the night before you will mix your dough and bake. Mix the flour, water, and yeast in a non-reactive bowl (I use glass). Let stand at room temperature overnight for 10–12 hours. If you are not ready to mix your dough after this period, put the pre-ferment in the fridge, covered, and use within 8 hours.

For the dough
1/4 c seed mixture (flax, poppy, and toasted sesame)
3 c whole wheat flour (or, next time, I’m going to try whole rye flour)
1 1/2 c warm water, plus additional when mixing
2 tsp salt

At least one hour prior to mixing the dough, soak the seed mixture with a small amount of hot water, then let cool to room temperature. (Remember to toast your sesame seeds prior to this—I used a small skillet on the stovetop to do this.)

To mix the dough, add the water to a large bowl. Add the pre-ferment and stir to disperse. Add the flour. Using your hands, mix throughly, firmly, until no bits of dry flour remain. At this point you may need to add either more flour or more water. (I o.d.’ed on the water so ended up having to gradually add more flour.) If you’re used to making bread you’ll know when you have the right consistency, and right ratio of water to flour. It should be dry enough that it doesn’t really stick to your hands, and should be pliable, and able to form into a round or the shape of your choice. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 20 to 40 minutes.

After the rest, add the salt and seed mixture and incorporate into the dough. Continue to fold the dough on top of itself to develop the dough and dissolve the salt. Ideally you would let the dough rise at this point, at moderately warm room temperature, for about 3–4 hours. I let it sit about 20 minutes then baked it.

Preheat your oven to 500 deg. F, along with the heavy dutch oven and tight-fitting lid. I shaped my loaf not quite into a round but more of an oval, since the Le Creuset I have is not a dutch oven but more of a casserole. Place the loaf into the dutch oven, seal completely, and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 475 deg. Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on, then after 20 minutes, remove the lid and continuing baking another 20 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Cool the bread on a wire rack. Serve plain and simple with butter and salt. Or Earth Balance. Or Olive Oil.

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Pics below from the past week: strolling down 5th Avenue two days before Christmas, glimpse of the tree at Rockefeller Center; my favorite work in the American Modern: Hopper to O’Keeffe exhibition at MoMA, this is Alfred Stieglitz’s Georgia O’Keeffee – Hands and Horse Skull from 1931; and me below with my lovable nephew Nate.

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Happy 2013 folks!

I have that U2 song “Lemon” stuck in my head, from the band’s 1993 album Zooropa. Well, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but that was twenty years ago. We’re old. And we misspent our youth.

Ok so much updating is in order. It’s been six weeks since my last post—the longest dry spell since I started this blog almost two years ago. What happened? December holiday madness. Office parties. Book deadlines. Dating. Etc. And then, on December 22nd, I suffered a concussion after fainting in the Whitney Museum, crashing hard on Marcel Breuer’s concrete floor, my head breaking my fall. I was at the Wade Guyton show on the third floor, which you should go see if you’re in New York, it comes down on Sunday. Go for the Guyton, stay for the Artschwager.

I’ve been largely out of commission for the past two and a half weeks. Not cooking, not biking, not yoga’ing, not working. For Christmas I received two copies of Yotam Ottolenghi’s new cookbook Jerusalem. One from my sister Hope, the other from the b.f. Melony. I’m exchanging one of them for Plenty, since I miss having Mark’s copy around.

So while I haven’t been at the stove, I’ve been curled up in bed with the beautiful book designed by Sarah Pulver (cover for U.S. edition) and Here Design (interior and cover for UK edition), dreaming of shakshuka, mejadra, and eggplant everything. But I thought I’d take it slow and begin my re-entry with something not too labor intensive but with big results: preserved lemons. On the few occasions I’ve had the store-bought kind in a jar I’ve enjoyed the fragrant sweet-sour tastes with couscous, bulgur, fish, lentils, meat. But never having made my own, it seemed about time to dive in.

This is also strategic: I plan to cook my way through this book over the coming months and having these luscious preserved lemons on hand four weeks from now will come in handy for multiple recipes.

Now, a head’s up: you make these lemons in stages. So first you stuff with salt and keep them sealed in a mason jar for a week. Then at that point you open the jar and stuff them with rosemary, chile, lemon juice, and olive oil, then let sit again for at least four weeks. I just began step one, but couldn’t wait to post about it. So I haven’t even added the rosemary, etc. yet. I’ll update here when that happens in about a week’s time.

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Preserved Lemons

6 organic, unwaxed lemons
6 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 rosemary sprigs
1 large red chile
juice of 6 lemons
olive oil

Make sure you have a Ball or Mason jar large enough to accommodate your lemons. Sterilize it by filling with boiling water, leaving for a minute, then emptying. Let it air dry.

Wash the lemons and cut a deep X or cross down through the lemon, leaving about 3/4 in. from the bottom. Stuff each lemon with 1 tbsp of the salt and place in the jar. Push the lemons in tightly, seal the jar, and leave in a cool place for at least one week. If you don’t know how to seal a jar properly, here is one of many links that explains how to do this.

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After this initial period, remove the lid and press the lemons as hard as you can to squeeze out as much of the juice as possible. Add the rosemary, chile, and lemon juice, and coat the lemons with a thin layer of olive oil. Seal the jar again and leave in a cool place for at least 4 weeks. The longer you leave them the better the flavor.

Enjoy these as a condiment to many meat, fish, and vegetable dishes. I’m planning to use mine in the recipe for Chermoula eggplant with bulgur and yogurt, from the same book.

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