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Classy and Cool- Baguette with Radishes, Asparagus, and Chive-Anchovy Butter

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Anyone who’s ever spent time in New York in summer knows the wonderful combination of heat and blanket-like humidity that keeps us company all the way till September.  It’s a sweaty sweaty thing. It also puts people like me who enjoy using their oven in a bit of a bind. How to keep oneself fat and happy without having to add to the heat? Think versions of classic tea sandwiches with crisp summer vegetables and great breads. Things will stay all kind of cool.

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First things first, the butter. Start with quality butter, something rich and creamy and free of sketchy additives. Something Ina Garten would deem “good butter.” While the butter softens to room temperature, do some mincing. A clove of garlic, some fresh chives, and some anchovy fillets. I know, I know, some of you probably think that anchovies are weird and gross and fishy. I’m all for accepting the opinions of others, but anchovy-haters hear this. You’re wrong. You can stay and play with the others, but you’re wrong and I’m going to change your mind. Anchovies have been scoffed at for too long. Used for good rather than evil, anchovies bring a great savory saltiness to all kinds of food. And they work really well with the creaminess of the butter and the peppery radishes. Cream the garlic, chives, and anchovies into the soft butter with a sprinkling of cracked pepper and a smidge of the oil from the anchovy tin for extra flavor.

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Set aside for later deliciousness and tend to the vegetable components. Wash and thinly slice the radishes. Slice the asparagus into 3-inch pieces and halve down the center. Blanch in salted water just until bright and tender, then drain and shock with cold water and ice to preserve the crunch.

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Arm yourself with a tasty baguette and begin assembly.

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Liberally butter a slice of baguette, apply an even layer of radish slices, some asparagus spears on top. Finish with a bit of fresh lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice. Make yourself a little plate and sink your teeth in. Smooth savory flavor-packed butter? Check. Crisp radishes and greeny-green asparagus? Check. Chewy, yeasty fresh baguette? Check. No sweltering kitchen? Ding ding ding.

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BAGUETTE WITH RADISHES, ASPARAGUS, AND ANCHOVY-CHIVE BUTTER

serves two

fresh French baguette

4-5 radishes, preferably of French breakfast or Easter egg variety, sliced thin

4 spears of asparagus, cut into 3-inch pieces and halved lengthwise

4 oz salted butter, like Kerrygold

6 anchovy fillets, packed in oil

1 T minced chives

1 garlic clove, minced

cracked pepper

fresh lemon juice and zest, to finish

To Satisfy A Craving- Kalamata Olive Rolls

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Sometimes you get something stuck in your head for entirely too long. A song that a coworker was humming, a choice line from a movie or TV show. In my case, of course, there’s been the need for a food item stuck in my mind for weeks. Olive bread. Good, yeasty bread with a crisp olive-oil brushed crust studded through with salty, savory bits of black olive goodness. At one point, I lived practically around the corner from a bakery that did a crazy good olive bread. Spoiled me rotten. But that’s not the case anymore and I’ve been feeling the olive bread itch for entirely too long. Unlike a song stuck in your head, you can’t get rid of a food craving with some karaoke-like belting and an impromptu dance fest. But you can still get the dancing in while your bread dough is rising.

Proof two packets of yeast and a teaspoon of honey or sugar in three cups of warm water. The hot tap on my kitchen sink is usually spot on in temperature, around 110 degrees. To the bowl of a stand mixer, add 4 cups of bread flour and the seasoning elements. Kosher salt, chopped rosemary, dried chili flakes, and the delicious briny olives. Add the frothy yeast liquid.

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Mix on low with a dough hook attachment until the wet and dry are combined. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the rest of the flour gradually, one heaping tablespoon at a time. Total mixing/kneading time should be around 10 minutes to produce a soft dough. You want loose and pliable, but not too sticky. Flour a work surface and your hands well, turn the dough out and lightly knead it together into a cohesive lump. Oil a large bowl and transfer the dough baby into it. Set in a warm spot and allow to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

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Once risen, press the dough down, knead it back together and repeat with the resting. After the second rise is complete, turn the now fluffy and elastic dough onto a floured surface and start tearing it apart. 5 oz portions of dough yielded good sandwich-size rolls in the end.

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Line two sheet trays with parchment and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place the dough balls, seam side down, on the trays and allow to rise yet again. This is why the spastic dancing is a good thing; there’s way too much wait time with bread. Also, preheat your oven to 450.

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Once the rolls are ready to take the plunge into the scorching pit, arm them with weapons so that they can survive the fire and emerge victorious. Using the sharpest thing you have on hand, slash an X in the tops of the rolls (I recommend a razor blade, but a very sharp thin knife will work). Brush each rolls with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and sound firm and hollow when tapped.

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Let the rolls cool just long enough so that they won’t burn your mouth off when you try to eat them. Devour warm, maybe even slathered with olive oil or soft butter. Live on the edge.

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KALAMATA OLIVE ROLLS recipe adapted from Jessie Next Door

3 c. warm water

1 tsp sugar or honey

2 packets of quick acting dry yeast

2 1/2- 2 3/4 pounds of bread flour

1 T kosher salt

2 T chopped dried rosemary

1 tsp dried chile flakes

1 cup chopped kalamata olives

olive oil and coarse sea salt for finishing

** These rolls are best right after they’re baked, but they will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container at room temperature, or sealed in the freezer. A few tweaks that I may make for next time: the crust was nice when these came right out of the oven, but I’d want it to hold a bit more of its crunch. I think I’ll try baking at 500, and placing a pan of water in the oven during the preheat and with the baking bread. Humidity and moisture in the oven will help develop a better crust. Guess this just means I need to bake more bread. What a terrible fate.

 

 

Tiny is Better (When it Comes to Baked Treats)- Vanilla Apricot Teacakes

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I don’t think I need to tell any of you out there that tiny things and tiny baked goods are the most adorable things ever. Typical, the quirky-baker-girl-type is of course obsessed with tiny pastries. You know what, it’s because they are better. Making whole pies and big layer cakes is unwieldy and impractical when you are baking at home and don’t immediately have a dozen people on hand to eat them.  Tiny treats are portable, easily portioned and served, and no one will pose an argument to me while I’m holding a tiny vanilla-apricot cake up to them. No one.

I spend most of springtime fantasizing about these idyllic picnics on a nice big rock or a grassy patch under a tree. There’s no chance of me getting a sunburn, there are no ants or mosquitos trying to invite themselves along on my dream-picnic, there are no pushy workout instructors, screaming infants, or obnoxious teenagers cursing near me. And all of the food is perfectly portable and nothing ever spills in transit. These cakes would definitely make it into that picnic. Fluffy, vanilla-scented cakes with just a hint of sweetness under a burst of juicy roasted apricot. Perfect balance of fragrant and fruity and springtime all over the damn place.

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Like all good cakes, begin with creaming some soft butter and a bit of sugar. Once smooth and light, add an egg, the zest of a lemon, and some vanilla bean goo. Flavor team is assembled.

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Now for the body of the cake. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Alternate adding the flour mix with the milk, the classic dry-wet-dry-wet-dry. That pattern is a real thing in baking cakes and such, promise. Not making it up. If I were, there’d be fireworks and dancing ferrets and shots of whiskey in there somewhere. But since I don’t call the shots, all we have is a ridiculously fluffy cake batter. Like that’s such a bad thing.

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Once the batter is complete, turn your attention to what shape your tiny cakes will take and just how tiny they will be. The original recipe calls for standard muffin tin sized cakes, but that just will not do. The cakes must be tinier! Always tinier! Also, I don’t even have a standard muffin tin. I have special baker priorities, which means I have dozens of individual little  teacake/tart forms instead of a muffin tin, and I’ve had sets of souffle cups for ages but just bough a 9-inch basic cake pan a few weeks ago.

Spray your suitably tiny cake forms and spoon a small bit of batter into each, filling only about halfway. These cakes rise a fair bit. Top each cake with a few very thin slices of apricot and a sprinkling of coarse raw sugar.

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Bake at 350 until the cakes present a clean tester inserted in the middle and a golden surface of impending delight. Ta-da! The tiniest cakes in all the land! Well, no, but probably the tiniest cakes you’ve made this week.

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All the Canadian Glory- Home Made Poutine!

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I’ve never been to Canada, but anyone who knows me knows that I’m mildy obsessed with poutine. How can anyone not be? Fries, gravy, cheese. Basic food groups. If you frequent old diners in New York or New Jersey, you may be thinking, “What’s so special about that? Sounds just like disco fries.” Oh honey, no. Poutine is a magical concoction that will make you glare at every diner-style plate of plastic-y American cheese draped over a pile of potatoes like  just insulted your pet unicorn. Unacceptable. The big difference is in the cheese curds. Chewy, but still a bit melty, and approximately seven different kinds of delicious. I am in a pretty perpetual state of wanting poutine, but there are precious few places that have it and none of them are near me. Obviously the solution is to get some bubbling oil going and take matters into my own hands.

Good French fries take a bit of planning ahead. Choosing the right potatoes and soaking them in cold water for a while will ensure a good frying texture. So grab some potatoes and cut them down into fry-like shapes. Obviously there’s the whole thick vs thin-cut fries debate, a war being waged from the dawn of deep-frying to this very day. For this, since you’re going to be smothering the fries in gravy, a thinner cut that will fry up with more crunch is the golden ticket.

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Let the potatoes soak in cold water in your refrigerator for at least an hour. I’ve seen French fry (over)enthusiasts claim that as much as an 8-16 hour soak is required for the only acceptable fries. The question I pose is, who the fuck plans out their overly indulgent greasy food cravings that far in advance? Should I have a day planner note specifically for late night street food, that way I can know to start prepping the day before? Even I draw a line at what is way too much effort for snack foods. I put my potatoes in their bath, watched a few episodes of Kitchen Nightmares, and picked up from there. Probably about a 2 hour soak, and I was perfectly satisfied. Hooray for the “good enough” approach!

Appetizing!

Appetizing!

After the potatoes have had their bath, you want to drain them on paper towels/dish towels for a bit to absorb all of the excess water. This one actually is important. Residual water in frying oil can result in seriously dangerous splattering. No fun at all. While the potatoes are draining, turn your attention to the second layer of magnificent carb-and-fat glory: the gravy.   The blanket of savory sauciness that unites the lands of cheese curd and fried potato in gooey harmony. It begins with equal parts of melted butter and flour cooked together into a smooth paste, also known as a roux by people who speak in foodterms. This mixture will provide the body of the gravy, adding richness and thickening the sauce as it cooks.

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To the roux, add a minced shallot and a minced clove of garlic and cook until they are soft. At this point it will looks like you’re cooking a clump of wet sawdust, but that means you’re doing it right!

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Add in 2 cups of stock and some stuff to make it taste good. The recipe I chose (and I honestly don’t remember why I chose this one) called for Worcestershire, ketchup, whole peppercorns, cider vinegar, salt and pepper. I also ended up adding a bit of dried sage and mustard powder. Boil the liquid while stirring continuously until thickened and reduced by about half, 5-8 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste and keep warm until ready to use.

The beer isn't needed, but it will make the deep-frying part scarier and more fun!

The beer isn’t needed, but it will make the deep-frying part scarier and more fun!

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Gravy? Check. Cheese curds? Waiting on stand-by. Now is the time for the fun boiling oil! Banish from the kitchen any small children or animals that may be wandering underfoot and heat at least 2-3 inches of oil in a pan fitted with a frying/candy thermometer. Bring the oil to 325 degrees and slowly carefully add your potatoes in batches. Keep an eye on the oil temperature, as it will begin to drop once you start adding the cold potatoes. The lower the oil temperature, the more it will be absorbed by the fries and the softer and greasier your end result fries will be. Ew. Cook until the potatoes look tender and slightly browned, then transfer them to a bowl or plate lined with paper towels. Once the first blanch-fry is complete, raise the oil temperature to 375-385 degrees and start it all again. Fry the blanched potatoes in batched until crisp and golden brown, and transfer to a towel-lined bowl.

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Once all the fries are done, remove the oil from the heat and immediately toss the hot fries with salt, pepper, a pinch of mustard powder and cayenne if you want to increase the deliciousness and/or damage to your internal workings. 

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Drop some cheese curds into a bowl, pile the hot fries on top, smoosh more cheese curds on top of the fries and bathe the whole mess in hot gravy. The awesomeness at this point may be so completely overwhelming that you feel the need to retreat. Don’t give up! You can do this, you can handle this much wonderful in one dish. You know why? Because you’re badass enough to make poutine your bitch. Just to show that you can take this meal on, step up to the bowl of hot magical poutine and throw some minced chives on it. Just to show that you don’t lose your nerve or your class when faced with the Great Poutine.

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POUTINE FROM SCRATCH recipe adapted from Saveur

serves 2

2 lbs. Russet/Idaho potatoes

fine salt, cracked pepper, mustard powder, and cayenne to taste (for seasoning fries)

2 Tbs unsalted butter

2 Tbs flour

1 shallot

1 clove of garlic

2 c. stock (I used chicken, the original called for beef, I’m sure you could use vegetable)

1 Tbs ketchup

1 Tbs plus 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns

3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp dried sage

Kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste (for gravy)

Oil for frying (use something refined for high heat, like peanut or sunflower oil)

1 c. cheese curds

***While delicious, I would not consider this the perfect gravy. I’m going to keep working on it, and maybe to some cool variations in the future, so keep an eye out for Poutine Part II.

Topsy-Turvy Boozy Goodness- Strawberry-Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake with Walnut Bourbon Cream

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Spring is finally here in a solid way, and I think that means that all us food-folk deserve a drink for surviving the slim pickings of wintery produce. I think it also means we all deserve cake. Now we could just drink while eating cake, because that’s great fun. Or. Or! We can put booze in our cake AND drink while eating it. Doesn’t that sound even better? I think it does, because I make responsible life choices, so that’s what I’m going to do. And I’ll throw some fruit in there too. That way it’s healthy!

This cake has three parts, four layers of cake magic once everything’s done with the topping. The cake itself gets assembled from the top down, and then it’ll be flipped on its head and what you put on the bottom of the pan will be on the top. Make sense? Great. Now let’s talk  strawberries and rhubarb. I don’t think there’s a more classic spring fruit duo when it comes to cakes and pies. Get yourself a pile of both, because the are lovely. Clean everything off and cut it down to size. Hull and thinly slice the strawberries, and slice the rhubarb on a diagonal into 1/2″ pieces.

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A simple crumble is next, which will end up being on the very bottom of the finished cake. Sort of like a shortbread-crumble crust for the soft cake body. Mix 1/2 cup of flour, 1/4 c. of sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Melt half a stick of butter and pour it into the dry ingredients. Mix until combined and well, crumbly looking.

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Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Dot the pan with half a stick of butter broken into pieces. In a separate bowl, combine the rhubarb and strawberries with 1/2 cup of sugar and let stand for a few minutes to macerate. Spread the delicious sugary fruit over the butter bits in an even layer.

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Now the cake batter! This is a very simple sour cream cake and pretty hard to screw up, which I don’t think anyone will argue with. In a side bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Throw a cup of sugar and a stick of butter into a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment and beat until fluffy and light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add heaping 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest, a tablespoon of fresh orange juice, and a tablespoon (or so…) of bourbon.

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Mix to incorporate, and with the mixer running add two eggs, one at a time. Once the mixture has come together, scrape down the sides of the bowl and start with the dries and wet. Alternately add the two in five installments, beginning and ending with flour. Confusing? Five installments of what now? Insert tab 3A into slot 47G and turn counterclockwise? Deep breaths, I’ll break it down: turn the mixer on low, add a bit of flour, bit of sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour. Trust me, baking doesn’t have to be as hard as some people think it is.

Once the batter is smooth and there are no clumps or pockets of unmixed stuff, spread it evenly over the fruit mixture in the cake pan. Scatter the shortbread crumble over the cake batter and into a 350 degree oven it goes. If your pan seems very full, as mine most certainly was, bake the cake on top of a sheet tray to catch any batter overflow. The bottom of your oven will thank you.

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Bake for 60-70 minutes, rotating the pan/tray once halfway through, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from hot oven of doom and let the cake sit in the pan for ten minutes. Try to unmold it right away and there will be hot fruity lava everywhere. Leave it too long and  the sugar can set too much and the cake could stick. Sad day in either scenario. Ten minutes and a knife around the edge of the pan to ensure complete separation worked fine for me. Put a plate over top of the cake, flip the whole thing over, and gently lift the pan away from the cake.

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While the cake cools completely, work on the whipped cream topping. The trick here is that if you make a plain old whipped cream, it will eventually lose its air and melt back into a wet pathetic puddle on top of your lovely cake. Not on my watch! A little bakery trick is to make a stabilized whipped cream, which is the sort they use to frost full layer cakes and have them sitting on display all day without disintegrating. There are loads of different ways to achieve this, but the most convenient is to add a bit of cornstarch for every cup of cream that you plan to whip. So, in a clean and cool mixer bowl with a whisk attachment, combine a cup and a half of heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon of bourbon. Sieve in 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Whisk on high until you reach firm peaks. Fold in 1/2 cup of COOLED toasted walnut bits. Very important that the nuts are entirely cooled by the time they hit the cream, otherwise they’ll melt the whole thing.

Cover the cake in cream, add some pretty garnish-y bits, and call it a delicious day! Pour yourself a touch more bourbon and sit down for a piece. Good work, you lot.

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STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE WITH WALNUT-BOURBON CREAM

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

CRUMBLE

1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. sugar

4 Tbs. butter, melted

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

FRUIT

6 ounces rhubarb, cut on the bias into 1/2″ pieces

10 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced

1/2 c. sugar

CAKE

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided

1 c. sugar

1 heaping tsp. orange zest, plus 1 Tbs. fresh orange juice

2 Tbs. bourbon

2 eggs

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp ground ginger

pinch of cinnamon

1 c. sour cream

CREAM

1 1/2 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. powdered sugar

1 Tbs. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

1 Tbs. bourbon

1/2 finely chopped toasted walnuts

extra nuts and a strawberry to make it pretty

A Crumb Cake By Any Other Name- Rhubarb Buckle

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If you are at all in touch with the growing seasons, and if you’ve read this blog more that once, then you should not be surprised at all that I’m currently obsessed with rhubarb and have bought entirely too much of it in the last week. My stovetop has consistently been home to at least one pot of bubbling rhubarb something-or-other, and the stack of jam jars is slowly multiplying. At this point I seriously needed to do something that wouldn’t end up involving a boiling water bath full of jars. It’s a rainy Saturday, and that calls for something sweet and warm out of the oven, fucking pronto.

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Rhubarb is a strange plant. It’s a vegetable really, but has somehow qualified for a permanent seat in the Arena of Pies. I once heard an elaborate story on QI about the forced growing of rhubarb in this one area of the UK called the Rhubarb Triangle and that it grows so fast you can hear it, but I’ve never checked the validity of that. Either way, rhubarb is delicious. One foot (stalk?) on either side of the sweet-tart line and the ability to jump over that line entirely and hunker down in the land of savory things. The only thing about rhubarb is that it generally needs a little warming up before it releases all of its delightful flavors and juices and goodness. So first step is to macerate the sliced rhubarb in sugar and set it aside for a bit.

Don't skimp on the foreplay.

Don’t skimp on the foreplay here. Or anywhere really.

Buckles belong to the big confusing family of gooey fruit-based desserts that involve some manner of sugary carbohydrate based topping, but are not pies. Cobblers, crisps, crumbles, slumps, grunts, brown betties, buckles. Entirely too many names and not enough distinction between what the differences are. It’s like reading a history textbook without half the stories and then being expected to know what each individual event was on the midterm. Not happening. As far as I can tell, a buckle is basically a flat sort of crumb cake. And I’m big into crumb cakes. So let’s make a buckle and hope they’re mostly the same thing.

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Soft butter, the remaining half cup of sugar, and the majestic zest of a lemon go into a bowl. Beat until fluffy. Add 1 egg, beat until incorporated, add an additional egg yolk, repeat the blending. Mix all of your dry ingredients for the cake together in a bowl and add half of the dry mix to the butter/egg mixture.

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Mix on low speed until just combined. Then add 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. The original recipe called for sour cream as the dairy component of the cake. I meant to get sour cream while at the store, forgot, remembered halfway up the street, almost went back for it, and then decided that I could make it work without it. I never really use sour cream anyway, and don’t you hate buying something for one recipe and then finding it fuzzy and neglected in the back corner of your fridge? It makes me feel guilty to the food gods. So Greek yogurt to replace the sour cream, and then heavy cream to make up for the extra moisture that the yogurt doesn’t have. It makes sense, trust me.

It makes sense. Trust me, I'm the Doctor.

It makes sense. Trust me, I’m the Doctor. Well, the Baker. Oh, shush.

Mix until incorporated, add the rest of the dries, mix again, blah blah blah. In the end it should look like cake batter. If it doesn’t, you did it wrong and I’m really not sure how. This is pretty simple cakery.

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Now for the crumbly topping. Everyone loves the crumbly topping part. Most people eat crumb cake just for the topping. I know I sure have. And while this cake is going to be delicious enough through and through that no one will just be picking the crumbly bits off the top, let’s still make the crumb really damn tasty. Flour, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt. Basis for awesome.

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Rub the butter into the flour as if your were making biscuits or shortbread. The result will be somewhere in between the two, softer than biscuits but doughier than shortbread. Then bring the rhubarb back into play and work on assembly. Cake layer at the bottom, rhubarb in the middle, crumbly bits spread corner to corner on top.

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So damn pretty!!

So damn pretty!!

Bake at 350-375ish for 60-75 minutes or until the topping has browned and the fruit underneath is juicy. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for a bit before you try to touch it, or you will burn your fingertips to death. And that’s no fun.

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Your patience shall be rewarded with a warm, sweet-tart delight, and that’s a good thing whether it’s a rainy day outside or not.

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RHUBARB BUCKLE recipe adapted from Alexandra Cooks

Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup sugar

6 Tbs. butter, softened

1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk

zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

2 Tbs. heavy cream

Fruity Innards

13 ounces rhubarb, ends removed and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar

Crumbly Bits

1 cup all-purpose flour

5 Tbs. light brown sugar

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1 stick (8 Tbs.) butter, cut into pieces and slightly softened

heavy pinch of cinnamon

**NOTES: in addition to the sour cream/yogurt-heavy cream switch, I also changed the egg proportions a little and doubled the amount of crumb topping. I like lots of crumbs. My recipe is for the 2x crumb topping. If you want less crumb, for some strange reason, either cut everything in half or refer to the original recipe for the single-batch crumb topping.

Keep Your Head Up- Perfectly Unplanned Fried Rice

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This is not one of my big production posts. This is not a canning project, a slew of nifty kitchen tricks, or a big shareable baking fest to invite people over for. This is for those days when you have a dozen things you want to get done, and by the end of it you’re dead tired, the sink and counters are all a mess, and somehow you’ve only crossed two things off your list. And you know what? That is absolutely fucking fine. Some days things just don’t fall in place the way you plan. So here you are, probably with a headache. You’ve tried your best all damn day but the pile of things to do is still just as big and daunting. Ok, maybe you didn’t try quiiiite as hard as you could’ve. Maybe you accidentally took a nap after you got home from work and spent a little too long fighting with the checkout page on ThinkGeek and realizing that there’s new episodes of Doctor Who you’re not caught up on yet. But that’s alright! This is a safe space. I’m sure as hell not going to judge you for that. Honestly if you spent your night doing that too, then we have a lot in common then you should let me buy you a drink sometime. Or let me make you this bowl of tasty thrown-together goodness and we can skip all the nonsense. Rawr.

Yay vegetables!

Yay vegetables! Try to match my delirious enthusiasm.

Anyway, dinner. You are tired and want dinner. Look around you. Just look around you, goes the disembodied British announcer voice. What have you got? Leftover rice from Spanish takeout? Some manner of green vegetables? An egg? The classic fridge door full of condiments and no actual food? All of the above? BOOM! Dinner, motherfuckers.

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Oil goes in a pan. Condiment-y things follow. Rice vinegar, soy/tamari, lime juice, Sriracha. This is why I stress keeping a well stocked pantry even if you don’t remember to buy fruit or proteins or starch for weeks at a time. Let the saucy mess cook a little while you blanch some vegetables. I was a thinker and blanched asparagus and bok choy in the hot water leftover from my semi-concluded canning project. Yeah, I know, I’m super clever. Be jealous. But before you do that, throw your vegetables in the pan. Crack an egg in and whisk it together quickly until the egg starts to scramble. Dump in the rice, let it absorb a moment and mix it all up. Into a bowl, make yourself feel fancy with some not-quite-half-assed garnishes, like cilantro and whatever else. I’ve got pickled ramps, which are delicious and admittedly way too specific. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have a tasty bowl of hot food and can proceed to curl up in a ball and ignore the rest of the world. I won’t even tell if you leave the dishes until tomorrow.

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