Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Honeyed Raspberry Compote and Coconut Cream.

Olive oil cake- it's complex, delicious, earthy, and surprisingly easy to make. This is a modification of my favourite olive oil cake, Smitten Kitchen's Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake, which I've baked with a handful of different modifications in the past, from grapefruit to coconut oil. This cake is great, its rich yellow hue, the chunks of sweet lemon, and the added raspberry compote and coconut cream give it a lovely appearance and layers of flavor, but the recipe is simple, straightforward, and forgiving of substitutions. The trickiest part is remembering to put the coconut milk in the fridge a few hours in advance.

Zest two lemons. 
I love meyer lemons, they're sweet, and tart, and juicy, like ready made lemonade in a peel.
They have an interesting history, too. I'm not sure if it's due to their hybrid species, but their appearance can vary wildly, most are softer and thinner skinned than a traditional lemon, but some meyers are large, orange-ish, and rounder- more like an orange in appearance, while some are small, yellow, and lemon shaped. I bought some of each type this time to taste them next to each other, and though no two taste identical, I couldn't identify any truly marked differences in taste either. 

Jubilee two of the meyer lemons, I did the ones I zested but it doesn't much matter.
. The most important part of jubilee-ing something is to cut the connective membrane away from the flesh, this makes removing the flesh much easier.

Set aside the delicious lemon flesh.

Combine your sugar and zest. This method of flavouring sugar is also useful in cookies, meyer lemon flavoured sugar would make a delicious lemon scented sugar cookie. 

Juice two lemons. Leave S's lens cap in a puddle of lemon juice in your shot.

Combine wet ingredients. Whisk in delicious, delicious olive oil.

Mix up your dry ingredients. I'm not a food snob who insists on adorably packaged package french baking powder, S's younger brother lived in Montreal during college and gave us all his housewares when he moved to Shanghai afterwards. This is great packaging though. I would never buy fancy baking powder, I actually hate baking powder. It has an upsetting consistency and makes this squeaking sound when you scoop it. If S is home I make him measure it out. It is useful though.

When it's all combined don't worry if your dough has some bumps in it (even before adding in that lemon flesh), you don't want to over mix this cake because all your rise is going to come from the baking powder and soda. 

If your loaf pan unmolds well then don't worry about the parchment paper. My load pan is made from one big piece of metal folded like origami into shape, and while it looks cool, and is made domestically from recycled metal, it doesn't unmold well. So I line it in parchment paper.

So lemony and perfect.

Now, for the coconut cream.

This stuff is a bit like cool whip, the colder it is, the firmer, so start with ice cold coconut milk, skim off that cream, add some confectioners sugar, mix it up, and after it reaches the consistency of ever-so-slightly-too-soft whipped cream (it'll never stiffen all the way up), pop it back in the fridge or freezer if you want it extra-stiff. I keep mine in the freezer in between uses, just like cool whip.

The compote is simply raspberries and honey mixed with a spoon, so good and so simple, you'll soon find yourself making it to top all sorts of things.

Serve them up as is, or if you're making this for a fancy-pants party, consider slicing the cake thin and layering it in a nice bowl or dish, a layer of cake, a layer of raspberries, a layer of coconut cream, repeat.

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Honeyed Raspberry Compote and Coconut Cream Recipe:
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Butter for greasing pan (I used parchment paper, but it's not necessary)
4 Meyer Lemons
1 cup (200 grams or 7 ounces) sugar
Scant 1/2 cup (118 ml) buttermilk or plain yogurt (I used Fage greek yogurt)
3 large eggs
2/3 cup (156 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups (219 grams or 7 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Honeyed-Raspberry Compote (recipe below)
Coconut Whipped cream (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Grate zest from 2 lemons and place in a bowl with sugar. Using your fingers, rub ingredients together until lemon zest is evenly distributed in sugar.

Supreme two lemons: Cut off bottom and top so fruit is exposed and lemon can stand upright on a cutting board. Cut away peel and pith, following curve of fruit with your knife (this is the hardest part, not cutting too far into the fruit). Remove lemon segments from their connective membranes and let them fall into a bowl. Don't stress out if your segments of lemon are ugly or small, they're going in the batter eventually anyway.

Halve 2 remaining lemons and squeeze juice into a measuring cup; you’ll will have about 1/3 cup. Add buttermilk or yogurt to juice until you have 2/3 cup liquid altogether. Pour mixture into bowl with sugar and whisk well. Whisk in eggs and olive oil.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently stir dry ingredients into wet ones until just combined. Fold in pieces of lemon segments. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until it is golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up. Serve with coconut whipped cream and honeyed-raspberry compote, recipes below.

Honeyed Raspberry Compote:

5 oz Raspberries
3-4 tablespoons honey

combine honey and raspberries in small bowl and mix gently until combined.

Coconut Whipped Cream:

1 15oz can of coconut milk (not light, full fat)
Heaping 1/3 Cup confectioners sugar

Open can of coconut milk, pour into bowl and refrigerate for 3-6 hours. When removed from fridge you will notice the heavier white cream has seperated from the thinner clear milk, skim the cream off the top and place in bowl of stand mixer (or use hand held mixer and mixing bowl), add the confectioners sugar and beat until peaks begin to form. Use immediately or refrigerate or freeze until ready to use, thaw for about 1/2 half before usage if kept in freezer.


The original recipe called for blood oranges, but I think any citrus would be delicious in this recipe: grapefruit, tangerine, orange, a combination of traditional lemon and orange.
Coconut Oil can be substituted for olive oil, the taste becomes less earthy and the cake holds together more, it is essentially a different cake, but still tasty.
Instead of raspberry compote strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or other berry would also work.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Caramelized Shallot and Bacon Pizza with Arugula

Sometime around two years ago, S and I discovered the joy that is pizza covered in Arugula, and we have never looked back. Whole handfuls of it heaped on top like grassy hills, completely obscuring from view the bobbling hot greasy toppings below, the bottom layer wilting into the hot cheese a bit while the top layer stays fresh and crisp, this is my pizza heaven. We've tried several variations on the arugula pizza, with toppings ranging from gorgonzola, to red onion, to fig, but this is our favourite.

This pizza is utterly perfect, but I do have two confessions- I use store bought dough. Not prebaked, just a bag of dough. I love the whole foods multigrain, but if you want to go totally homemade, this is a great recipe, from Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan St. Baking Company, and the pizza-haven known as Co. 
The other confession is evident in the first photo- I don't own a pizza stone, or even a pizza pan. I use a jelly roll style cookie pan. This is Manhattan after all, my pan storage is very limited. And my pizza is delicious, so feel free to improvise on the pan. 

Preheat the oven while cooking some bacon. I used five thick maple-cured strips, but pepper bacon would also be delicious with this recipe.

While your bacon cooks chop 3 large shallots into little rings or half moons. You could also use sweet yellow onion for this.

Fry the shallots in the bacon fat. In fact, whenever possible fry things in bacon fat.

Cook the shallots over medium-low heat until they are a lovely golden-brown. I like mine to retain some crispness, but you can fully caramelize them if you're not a fan of onions to begin with just cook them longer, until they're a darker golden color and very soft.

While the shallots cook combine your olive oil, garlic, and some salt and pepper in a heat safe bowl and set it on your stove top, not too near to a lit burner, to warm up and release the garlic flavor.

Spread your dough. Since I have a square pan this is mostly just about careful stretching for me.

Brush with your garlic-olive oil sauce

Cover it well, but not too thickly, I like to leave my crusts bare.

Cover with the fresh mozz. I used smoked mozz because I love just about anything smoked.

Cover the cheese with shallots, then with bacon. Start to salivate with desire as you pop it in the oven.

Look at that. Oh gosh. I want to make another one tonight. Or right now.

Gratuitously heap Arugula and fresh pepper on top immediately after removing from the oven. Let it sit a few minutes, if you can bear it. Then feast. 

Caramelized Shallot and Bacon Pizza with Arugula Recipe: 

1 Pizza Dough (store bought or homemade)
5 Strips of bacon
3 Shallots
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 lb Mozzarella (fresh if possible), grated or shredded
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
2-3 Cups loose Arugula rinsed and dried
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 475ยบ F, and open bag of pizza dough to let rise 30 min near preheating oven, or in other  warm place, (or follow rising directions on your pizza dough).
Cook bacon over medium heat until crispy, set aside. While bacon cooks, chop shallots into small rings or half moons, depending on shallot shape. Drain all but 2 tbsp bacon fat, add shallots to pan, and cook over medium-low heat until shallots turn deep golden brown and are fairly soft, about 5 minutes. 

While shallots cook, combine olive oil, garlic, and some fresh pepper in a heat proof bowl and place on or near stove top, so the heat from the oven will help release the garlic flavor. 

After dough has risen, stretch to fit pan. Since I have a square pan, I find it fairly easy to stretch the dough out as long as the pan and then pull it wider, but there are lots of guides for circular pizza stretching on the internet. Brush stretched dough with garlic-olive oil combo, spreading out the chunks of garlic throughout. Top with mozzarella, shallots, then bacon, and bake in thoroughly preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling.

As soon as you remove the pizza from the oven, heap lots of arugula on top, completely covering the pizza. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, if you can bear to wait that long, then consume with gusto. 


Fresh mozzarella- the type that is wet feeling when you unwrap it, and frequently comes in water, is ideal for this recipe, but the drier, more aged, squarer mozzarellas will work as well if you can't find fresh.
Shallots are delicious and perfect for this, but sweet yellow onion would work well too.
You could certainly sub out the bacon for lardo or pancetta.

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Ribboned Asparagus Salad with Lemon

It was a warm, sunny weekend in Manhattan, and S and I started our annual garden on the fire escape, so I was in the mood to make a spring-y salad. This one is from one of my favorite big food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, it is delightful, simple and I love that it's a no-cook asparagus dish. I only make one change- I used toasted pepitas instead of pine nuts which are far too expensive at my grocery store.

First, toast your pepitas (or pine nuts), I toast mine in a cast iron pan over medium-low heat with just a touch of olive oil, and I throw in some chili pepper flakes for taste, they don't brown up too much, so keep an eye out for when they turn golden.

Rinse the asparagus, then simply drag a vegetable peeler down with a firm hand, and you'll produce beautiful little ribbons of asparagus. 

They make such a lovely pile of deliciousness.

Heap it in a serving dish, give it a squeeze of lemon,

and a drizzle of olive oil.

Top with salt, pepper, and some curls of parmesan. 

1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds, toasted* and cooled (I toasted pepitas)
1 pound asparagus, rinsed
1 lemon, halved
Olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 ounces Parmesan cheese

No need to snap off the tough ends of your asparagus. Lay a single stalk on its side on a cutting board. Holding onto the tough end, use a vegetable peeler (a Y-shaped peeler is easiest, but I’ve used a standard one successfully) to shave off thin asparagus ribbons from stalk to tip, peeling away from the tough end in your hand. Discard the tough ends once you’re done peeling. Gently pile your ribbons on a medium-sized serving platter. Squeeze some lemon juice over the asparagus, drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Toss gently and then use your peeler to shave curls of Parmesan right off the block, over the asparagus. Sprinkle with some toasted nuts. Serve immediately.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Tahini Cookies

These are from Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem: A Cookbook, and have not been adapted very much. I love this cookbook, I don't own it, but I've photographed it's pages because I know someone who does. Every recipe I have ever made from it is heavenly, and these little cookies are no exception. Tahini is a delightful toasted sesame paste, similar to peanut butter but a bit thinner, and is available in most grocery stores. This recipe calls for light tahini paste, but I had regular tahini, so I used that and the cookies are delicious. Essentially, this is a tahini shortbread, and like all shortbreads it is contingent on it's butter. The better butter you use, the tastier your cookies will be. I used my own homemade butter and they turned out fantastic.

This recipe calls for a stand mixer, but I assure you if you don't have one you'll be fine with a fork and some patience and stamina. I didn't have a mixer until a year or two ago, and I made all sorts of cookies that called for one. 

I love butter. Like most cookie recipes, this one starts by combining butter and sugar.

Until just combined, so when it looks a bit like this.

This recipe calls for 5 tsp. heavy cream, I didn't have any and it was the only ingredient I didn't have, so I combined 3 tsp. milk and 2 tsp. Creme Fraiche both of which I did have, and it worked wonderfully. 

With the mixer on, add the cream, vanilla, and tahini, it'll blend together into a delicious batter resembling peanut butter and tasting even better.

I add my flower in 1/2 cup increments with the mixer off to avoid clouds of flour going everywhere.

Beat on a medium-low speed

It'll look crumbly like this for a long time, but I swear it starts to come together eventually.
Don't worry about over-mixing since there is not baking powder/soda.

I may or may not have impatiently helped mine come together a bit. 

Dump onto your counter and knead it a bit.

Roll into small balls

Flatten a bit with your fork.

Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cardamon would also be nice.

Bake until very light brown. I found they baked quicker than the recipe said, so keep an eye on them!

So delicious.

So simple, but so perfect.

2/3 cup superfine sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
scant 1/2 cup light tahini paste (I used regular)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 teaspoons heavy cream (used 3 tsp milk, 2 tsp creme fraiche)
2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or cardamon!)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment and beat on medium speed until just combined, about 1 minute.

2. With the machine running, add the tahini, vanilla and cream. Then add the flour and beat for another minute. The mixture will be crumbly for a long time but eventually it will start to come together. You can turn off the mixer and aid the dough in coming together with your hands too. Transfer to the counter and knead a few times until smooth.

3. Pinch off a small ball of dough (smaller than a ping pong ball, like a chocolate truffle), roll it between your hands into a ball, and put it on the prepared tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough, allowing 1 1/2 to 2 inches between cookies. Then use a fork to gently flatten each ball a bit. Sprinkle with cinnamon or cardamon, and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until just barely starting to brown. Cool on a wire rack, and keep in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

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