Archive for June, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Buckle

I was trying to think of something special to say about this cake but could come up with nothing more than that this cake is special; it made me and my mouth very happy. There was no big reason to make this cake beyond that the other week at the Farmers Market the plump blueberries seemed to be amorously calling to me. I was heading to Philadelphia the next day for work and so I somehow resisted, but the rest of the week I kept hoping I would see the blue beauties sitting amidst the squash, peaches, and kale that have been flooding the market. I scoured cookbooks and blogs for what I would do with the rewarded blueberries when I came home. I envisioned the way I would savor the first rewards of summer. And the time I spent was well rewarded because I found this delightful recipe form The Wednesday Chef.

This Lemon Blueberry Buckle is everything I look for in a nice summer cake – not too sweet, loaded with fresh flavors and the subtle offset of tart from the lemon. Every bite feels like looking up at a blue summer sky streaked with wisps of clouds, or the big billowy ones that form shapes like giant characters above us. It makes me feel like running through green grass barefoot. Or my favorite summer feeling of the lasting glow of sunshine emanating from my warm skin after a day spent outside. This cake takes me back to days on the Farm where I spent parts of summer through my childhood. It tastes of friendship, family, and happy memories.

So there it is, perhaps nothing special to say but something special to taste is what I offer. Oh and while I am on special things I have loved recently is the movie YOUR SISTER’S SISTER. If you get the chance to check out this gem I hope you cherish it as much as I did. I found myself laughing through tears and simply holding onto the stunning beauty of a film made with 3 actors. Marvelous.

Lemon Blueberry Buckle

Serves 8

Crumb topping (I would also call this lemon flavored crack! Yeah I wanted to eat the bowl of it with a spoon straight from the freezer.)

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter, cubed, at room temperature

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add the butter, using a fork or your fingers cut the butter until it is reduced to the size of peas. Loosely cover the bowl, and place it in the freezer while you mix the cake batter.

Cake

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided

Zest of 1 lemon

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

Pint or 2 Cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, divided

Crumb topping, chilled

Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, half cup of sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Stir half the flour mixture into the bowl, alternating with ¼ cup of buttermilk, repeat until both the flour mixture and buttermilk are evenly incorporated into the batter. Gently fold 1 cup of the blueberries into the batter (I accidently dumped them all in here and it was fine).

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and distribute the remaining blueberries evenly over the top of the batter.

Remove the crumb topping from the freezer and sprinkle it over the berries (that is of course if you can resist eating it all).

Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and firm on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.

While the cake is baking, make a lemon syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining one-third cup sugar with the lemon juice and whisk until blended. Heat the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a syrupy consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

Remove the cake from the oven and drizzle the warm glaze over. Cool to room temperature. Enjoy with friends as I did!

28

06 2012

A Very Full Tart To Go With A Very Full Life

I am back in New York after an exhausting stint working, visiting, and making my way up and down the west coast and ending in Denver. Life has been feeling very full these last weeks; at times I have been happy with the fullness – happy with so many fabulous people to see and things to engage me. At other times overwhelmed by how much there is in a day between work and life. But I am trying to balance it all, and for a month I did work through each day and find time every evening to see loved ones. I even managed to see my aunt and uncle for an early morning breakfast in Denver. My work takes me on so many travels and these days I am very consciously trying to integrate my life into this, to visit people I know in each of these places. With my life as full as it is I am trying to find a way to hold both the tasks at hand with the relationships at hand, both at once in my two hands clasped together as if they were scooping up fresh water. Until now I have tried to juggle the two hands tossing life back and forth from one corner to another but I am seeing that perhaps part of balance is holding it all at once and knowing that when you do some part of each will slip through but the deep essence of both will remain.

After a demanding week of work in Denver, I was happy to be back in my own house. I was happy to sleep in my own bed and lay on my couch. And after a day I was thrilled to be back in my own kitchen. The view of the tree had changed in a month and now my once sunny kitchen was basked in cool shade with a view of a green curtain of leaves and a dappling of sun flecked light. The first thing in my oven came from a cookbook Bari, Matthew, and Asher gave me for my birthday and I couldn’t wait to try Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. Ottolenghi’s Very Full Tart seemed the perfect place to start with a side of Dates & Turkish Sheep’s Cheese Salad, both recipes below. It felt great to be back at my stove and moving a little slower in a slightly less full piece of my life. The fullness is already seeping back with work and visits from out of town friends, but just as this tart tastes better with its many assorted ingredients—so life is more rewarding (even if a bit more tiring) the fuller I find it.

In my new quest to hold life in two hands at once I squeezed in an hour at the Denver Art Museum and the Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective. I found myself amidst a stunning show and looking at an artist and his impact in our world I had never fully considered before. I was moved and completely stunned by what I saw. The exhibit is nothing less than breathtaking when you enter the last room. As they talk about how art can be seen in the simple act of observing light, or the movement of a person, or a color I saw how much I miss art in its simplest form—the everyday. My life may be full but when I see a child in a rainbow tutu riding past me on her bike I am able to see the moment of art for that sublime moment that it is.

I wish you all a very full life, a taste of this full tart, and moments of creativity or observing art wherever it may be in this world.

Ramona

Very Full Tart From PLENTY By Yotam Ottolenghi (slight adaptions)

Note: This full tart is to be made on a not so full day because it takes a good amount of time in its many steps, but it is well worth it when enjoyed!

Ingredients

1 red bell pepper, stemmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

About 6 Tbsp. olive oil

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1 inch dice

salt and black pepper

1 small sweet potato, cut into 1 inch dice

1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch dice

1 medium onion

Pie Crust (I used ready made for this full life)

8 thyme springs with leaves picked

1/3 cup ricotta

4 oz feta cheese

8 cherry tomatoes halved

2 large eggs

1 cup cream or milk (I had soy milk in the house)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the red and yellow pepper pieces in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and put on the top shelf of the oven.

Mix the eggplant in a bowl with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Spread in a large baking pan and place in the oven on the shelf beneath the peppers.

After 12 minutes add the sweet potato dice to the eggplant pan and stir gently. Return to the oven to roast for another 12 minutes. Then add the zucchini to the pan with the red and yellow peppers and stir. Return to oven. Stir eggplant and sweet potato and return to the oven for another 12 minutes. At this point the peppers should be brown and soft and the rest of the vegetables should be cooked. Removed all from the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Let vegetables cool slightly.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Sauté the onions and some until they turn brown, soft, and sweet. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Line the pie dough with parchment paper and then fill with dried beans. Bake the crust for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the paper with the beans and then bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until it turns golden brown. Remove and allow to cool a little.

Scatter the cooked onion over the bottom of the crust and top with the roasted vegetables, arranging them evenly. Scatter half the thyme leaves over the entire thing. Next, dot the vegetables with small chunks of both cheeses and then with the tomato halves cut-side up.

Whisk the eggs and cream or milk in a small bowl with some salt and pepper. Carefully pour this mixture into the tart; the top layer of vegetables and tomatoes should remain exposed. Scatter the remaining thyme leaves over the top. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until the filling sets and turns golden. Remove and let set for at least 10 minutes.

Dates and Turkish Sheep’s Cheese Salad By Yotam Ottolenghi (slight adaptions)

Ingredients

1 ½ Tbsp. whole almonds chopped (I used roasted and unsalted)

6 large Medjool dates sliced (I used pitted)

2 ½ cups mixed greens of choice

4 – 5oz lightly salted Turkish sheep’s milk cheese (or buffalo ricotta or buffalo mozzarella), broken or cut into pieces

Basic balsamic see Ra’s Spring Salad for my go to dressing.

Mix Salad Greens in Dressing. On top of greens build up dates, cheese, and sprinkle with almond chunks.

09

06 2012