I’ve been baking this friendly cake for a few months now in one variation or another. First, I was just fascinated by the ingredients in the original Almond Cake recipe (see photo below), which belongs to Molly Wizenberg and was adapted by Mark Bittman and Sam Sifton…and later by me along with a few thousand others. It starts with boiling an orange and a lemon together for a half hour, removing the seeds, and puréeing the now softened peels. Nothing I’d ever done in my not-so-extensive cake baking career; still, I was sold. There’s no butter but there’s plenty of olive oil, making it taste and feel seriously Mediterranean or just Spanish… and keeping it moist for a few days right on the old proverbial counter. That’s even in Colorado at altitude where bread becomes crouton material in 15 minutes flat. The original “Tarta de Santiago” or St. James Cake (very similar to the almond cake I kept making) is a middle ages and Camino de Santiago specialty still baked each July 25, for the feast of St. James. One couldn’t have asked for a better plain cake or maybe even one with more spiritual flavor. Think gently citrusy and uber nutty pound cake only lighter. My dad, who abhorred all things frosting, would have inhaled it. Only thing my cake needed was a little barely sweetened whipped cream or a few berries, as you see in my photo. Or just a cup of coffee (black) if you were my dad. Maybe a small Armagnac if you were me.Continue reading
Since the coronation of King Charles and the American Mother’s Day fall just over a week from one another, I couldn’t help but think of making scones in honor of both events. (Of course I watched the whole coronation…well, at least from the time I awoke. Enchanting it was – especially the choir.) There’s nothing like a basket of gorgeous scones to set off a festive brunch or holiday tea and they’re both easy to make (I promise!) and very fast, particularly if you use a food processor. The only big decision will be….What kind of scones will you make? Scroll down for ideas or if you’re quite serious, you can order the wondrous Scots baker and fiction writer, Sue Lawrence’s fine book, SCOTTISH BAKING for the real deal scoop. I had a basket of lovely fresh strawberries on hand and a small jar of toasted almonds leftover from a salad, so there was little question about what I’d do. I adore strawberries with chocolate, so I thought I’d toss in just a few mini chocolate chips to gild that lily and quite soon, Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Scones with Almonds were born. And, if I do say say so myself, they’re fabulous. I want them again.Continue reading
Over the past few days, my eyes have been drawn to a number of accounts online and in hard copy that have zeroed in on some of the amazing benefits or windfalls of living life Covid-Style. Two keep coming to mind. In today’s Sunday NEW YORK TIMES on the front page, in an article by Ellen Barry entitled, “City Folks Flee the Virus, and the Bears Rejoice,” a man named Jonny Hawton is now working from home in Vermont instead of making a huge LA commute every day in California. He couldn’t imagine returning to the previous lifestyle where he only saw his baby daughter one hour a day. “If someone told me I would have to go back and do that tomorrow, I don’t know what I’d do.” Another woman — Juanita Giles — reviewing Misty Copeland’s new book, BUNHEADS, for NPR, provides interesting insights into now being with the kids at home all day. While she misses lots and fears her social skills are deteriorating, she does not miss one thing: after school activities. Running the roads to get to rehearsals and classes, changing clothes on the fly (think shoving sweaty little feet into ballet tights in the van), squeezing homework into a car ride (“I HATE MULTIPLICATION!”), and eating 5 slow cooker meals a week (all tasted the same–she obviously hadn’t cooked my slow cooker meals!!) weren’t her idea of a fun life. Did she know that before? Surely she did, but what to do? That was how things were. As a dancer, however, she did terribly miss dance and so did the kiddoes — enough so that the prima ballerina’s new book was an instant hit instigating leotards now quickly donned at home and endless pirouettes through the kitchen where non-slow cooker meals were now being cooked. Sometimes change, as hard as it is, is good.Continue reading
When you’re looking for food to fit specific diets or food preferences and you’re not used to cooking or baking those profiles, it’s best or easiest, anyway, to pick dishes that are naturally gluten free, for instance, or come perfectly vegan all by themselves, for another. Extra-Bittersweet Chocolate Pots de Crème is a simple, happy dessert for a gluten free eater. No flour to replace there. Sumptuous summer strawberries and raspberries glistening with finely minced mint fills the bill for vegans, I’m thinking, because who doesn’t like strawberries and raspberries?
Between Wednesday and Friday of last week, I’d cooked three separate and distinct meals (one of which was the Coconut Pork Salad below)… and so had various and sundry little containers of meat and vegetables I knew I’d make into a hefty salad come Saturday night when we had planned to splurge a little on an amazon prime movie to belatedly catch “Victoria and Abdul.” (Don’t miss it if you haven’t seen it!) When I visually weighed those leftovers, an accompanying bowl of soup was an obvious necessity.