Wednesday and Thursday: Ice Cream and Cobbler

Misleading title: I actually only had dessert for dinner one night this week. I’m such a grown up.

Wednesday: Second day in New York in a row. After a day of meetings, on the train home I try to eat an adult dinner of seafood spring rolls and seaweed salad purchased in Grand Central, but I’m only a few bites in when I suddenly feel disgusted by my favorite Grand Central meal. Maybe it’s because I ate it yesterday for lunch? Throw it out and demand Noah take me to Ashley’s (New Haven’s local ice cream shop) the minute I get off the train. Grape Nut Ice Cream for dinner. It’s awesome.

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Thursday: Noah’s cousin came over for dinner so I made something I’ve had bookmarked all summer: Casa Yellow’s Collard Greens Cobbler. It is as awesome as a savory cobbler sounds. Make it. Immediately, if you can. (I subbed spelt flour for the all purpose flour in the biscuits and used a chicken sausage + red pepper flakes and olive oil in place of fattier Andouille sausage.) On the side, we killed the burrata from Tuesday night with some more tomatoes.

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Monday and Tuesday Nights: Tomatoes!

I spent most of the morning wearing slippers and just pulled out a scarf and fleece for the first time, but we still have tomatoes, and I refuse to close our windows.

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Monday: Noah was out, but by my friends Andrew and John came over. I made this roasted tomato soup from last October and–since the resident dill hater was out–this carrot, white bean, and dill salad from 101 cookbooks. Definitely a keeper recipe. We learned about the gold standard (literally) and had John’s apple pie and defrosted orange-almond cake that someone brought to this weekend’s break fast potluck for dessert.

Tuesday: Ladies auxiliary night across the street. AKA boyfriends were at a fancy law school dinner so my friend and I pooled farmers market resources (mostly hers) and cooked up a storm. Her contributions: a layered eggplant, mushroom, onion, tomato, and feta bake and pasta with kale, leeks and tomatoes. Mine: tomatoes, the remaining wilting basil, and burrata picked up at the cheese stand in Grand Central as I ran through this afternoon. I definitely did not carry my weight, but burrata masks all kitchen lazy-ness in indulgent, creamy goodness.

What We’re Eating This Week: Sunday Night Vietnamese Tofu Noodle Salad

I’ve decided to try something different this week and post what we have for dinner every night for the week. Some days there will be full recipes, some days links to recipes I used,  some days, like today, a sketch of what I did even though I failed to take notes.

Sunday: On our drive home from a holiday weekend in Boston, I decide I cannot stomach the idea of eating the many pounds of leftovers that have been sent back with us. I’ve already over-eaten all of those dishes. I also remember we have basil wilting in our refrigerator along with Thai chiles and tofu. I decide to make Vietnamese Noodle Salad, which I have never made but is indisputably my favorite thing to eat.

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It turns out it’s pretty easy to make, mostly involving a lot of chopping. Here’s what’s in this bowl: Rice Noodles + Quick Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers+ Chopped Lettuce, Mint, Basil, Peanuts + this Mark Bittman Tofu Recipe (w/o onions). It’s all supposed to be tossed with a dressing of lime juice, hot peppers, garlic, and fish sauce, but I realized when I started making the dressing that we didn’t have any fish sauce. A mixture of miso paste, agave, olive oil, and soy sauce made a decent substitute.

For lunch today, I chopped some hardboiled egg over the leftovers since the tofu was mostly gone.

Back-to-School Sesame Plum Muffins

We’re in back-to-school mode here. Even though it is the beginning of my (ugh) 23rd school year, I’m still somehow hoping that school will turn out to be in Deep Valley, Minnesota instead of New York. But, after 23 Septembers, I know the best I can do is make muffins.

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For those of you who just went, “huh?”, Deep Valley is the fictional home of the charming Betsy-Tacy books, which trace the idyllic late 19th-century childhood and young-adulthood of Betsy Ray: Every Sunday night friends come over for Betsy’s father’s sandwiches, all high school high jinks involve making fudge, and on the first day of school there are always muffins.

No one in the Betsy-Tacy books decides to do nonsense things like go to law school or get a PhD, but in an effort to bring a little 19th century idealism and simplicity into our skeptical and over-complicated 21st century lives, I baked these muffins to welcome in the school year. Of course, it being the 21st century, they are gluten-free and full of tahini, an ingredient that I would wager Betsy’s devoted cook, Anna, did not have on hand.

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Sesame-Plum  Muffins (adapted from this muffin recipe from Sprouted Kitchen)

If you have any muffin-tin liners, I would use them. As you can see from the pictures, these muffins are pretty crumbly, very moist, and stuck to the pan a bit. I was fine without them, but my muffins were, perhaps, a little less pretty than they could have been. Makes 12 muffins. 

– 5 medium plums

– 1 1/2 cups almond meal

– 1/2 cup cornmeal

– 1/2 tsp baking soda

– 1/3 cup maple sugar (You could certainly substitute another sugar of your choice here, although I would avoid brown sugar as these muffins are already pretty juicy.)

– Pinch of salt

– 2 eggs

– 2 tablespoons olive oil

– 2 tablespoons tahini

– 2 tablespoons honey

– 1 teaspoon vanilla

* Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

* Oil or line muffin tin.

* Pit plums and chop into bite size pieces.

* Mix together all dry ingredients.

* Whisk together all wet ingredients.

* Fold wet ingredients into dry and then fold in plums.

* Fill muffin tins close to top, these muffins do not rise much.

* Bake 20 minutes, until tester comes out clean and tops are golden brown.

* Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and then remove from pan and allow to cool the rest of the way.

Upside-Down Fig Cake (and Home)

Japan–>California–> Paris–>Atlanta–> Colorado–>Philadelphia–> Chicago–> Austin–> Madison–> New York–> Iceland–> D.C. –> Home.

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Since last January, I have not spent more than 6 weeks (in New York) anywhere. Before that, there were three months last fall when I commuted to Boston every week.  When I got off the plane from Iceland, it was the first time in 17 months that I didn’t have another flight scheduled.

I’m not complaining (at least not that much). It has been a pretty cool year. I have some amazing photos as well as an unfortunate number of photos of old documents. I have eaten octopus pancakes, shrimp tacos, macaroons, soup (during the unfortunate mono + Atlanta leg), piergoies, breakfast tacos, cheese curds, ice cream, dried cod, pots of langoustine, hakarl (not so bad), lemongrass chicken bun (D.C., sometimes I do miss you), and more broccoli florets than I want to count.

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As a kid, I wanted to write an ice cream tour book of the world so the other night I  made a list of all the ice creams I’ve eaten this past year. It went: green tea, yuba, California date shake, marron glace, raspberry sorbet (again, during the unfortunate mono incident, when my relationship with ice cream morphed into something purely medicinal). When I got to Madison, the list took an unfortunate turn into the territory of “too numerous to name” since I’m pretty sure I went for ice cream every night for two weeks. I was in America’s dairyland after all.

But, now I’m home. I’m in New Haven, and I’m going to be here for a while. The thing about having a crazy travel schedule that commences immediately after you move somewhere new is that you never really set up a routine. It’s hard to make friends. Yesterday, someone asked me what I do here, and I had to admit, I have no idea, yet.

But, people, I have a lot of baked goods to share. I need people to eat some of these sweets and come over for dinner. So, calling all recipe tasters. Save me from myself, and save Noah too. I seriously baked through an entire carton of eggs in the last 2 1/2 days. We need help.

Are you in New Haven? No? Do you want to come visit? You are here now? Come on over! I’ve got half a fig cake to share. 

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Upside-Down Fig and Rosemary Cake

This recipe is a combination of two recipes. One is this birthday cake from 101 cookbooks, which is an excellent cake in and of itself. I made it for Mother’s Day last year, and it was my mom who actually had the genius idea of using it for an upside-down cake. The choice of fig and rosemary was inspired by this recipe from Food 52, but I couldn’t bring myself to use the amount of butter called for and, our subletters ran off with the brown sugar so things had to be adjusted. Fortunately, I hid the maple sugar before they left so I think the adjustments just made everything better. 

– 12 figs

– 1 stick (8 tablespoons of butter)

– 1 tsp dried rosemary

– 1/2 cup maple sugar (I’m sure brown sugar would be just fine too.

– 14 ounces almond paste (not marzipan)

– 5 large eggs, whisked

– 1/4 cup cornstarch

– Pinch of sea salt

* Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

* Slice the figs in half and take off the ends.

* Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the bottom of a 9 inch, spring-form cake pan.

* Sprinkle about 2/3s of the maple sugar evenly over the melted butter. Arrange the figs flesh side down on the pan. Sprinkle figs with remaining sugar and rosemary. Set aside.

* Melt the remaining butter in the microwave and allow to cool.

* Crumble the almond paste into a food processor until pebbly in size.

* Add eggs to almond paste and process until smooth. (I think the secret to getting a light cake with this batter is to really whip those eggs until the egg-almond mixture is a pale yellow and almost foamy.)

* Sprinkle cornstarch and salt into batter and pulse.

* Add cooled butter and pulse until smooth.

* Pour batter over figs into cake pan.

* Bake until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean, 50-60 minutes.

* Let cool in pan, loosen with knife, and invert onto serving dish so figs are right side up.

I bet this would be great with whipped cream. Alternatively, you could eat it for breakfast as I did this morning.