Monday, May 22, 2017

rhubarb "big crumb" coffeecake.

I’ve been thinking about this coffee cake for maybe 3 years now.  Every year I promise myself I’m going to make it and every year I forget.  

It’s a vicious cycle.  

This year, this year was different (throwing more brunches and dinners for friends ensures I get to try more recipes which is a win-win for everyone).  And now that I’ve made it, I can’t imagine how I ever lived without.  

This is quite possibly the best coffee cake I’ve ever had.  

Crumbs (SO MANY CRUMBS) sit atop a cake layer that is studded with rhubarb.  The tartness of the rhubarb pairs balances out the sweet (but not too sweet) crumb and spiced cake layer.  I’ve declared it the ideal breakfast pastry and if you were to show-up with it at the next group brunch, no one would be mad.

Rhubarb "Big Crumb" Coffee Cake
Recipe tweaked from the NYTimes

When rhubarb season ends, I plan on trying this with blueberries and sour cherries.  I think diced peaches would also be awesome.   This cake also freezes incredibly well.  I suggest wrapping individual pieces in plastic and foil and saving them for when you want to make your Sunday morning (or really any morning) feel more celebratory.      

For the Rhubarb Filling

1/2 - 3/4 pound rhubarb, trimmed
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground ginger

For the Crumbs

⅓ cup dark brown sugar
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup melted butter
1 ¾ all-purpose flour or some combination of your favorite flours (I did 3/4 cup AP, 1/2 cup sprouted whole wheat, and 1/2 cup spelt)

For the Cake

⅓ cup sour cream or thick yogurt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.

To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Friday, May 12, 2017

pan roasted asparagus with chimichurri.

Asparagus consumption is at an all time high in our apartment.  We are averaging a couple of pounds of week between the two of us and I don't expect this to stop until they are gone.  

We've been having them every which way - shredded on pizza, diced in tacos, and pan roasted which is perhaps my favorite way to eat them.   Pan roasting ensures you get charred, burnt bites while still keeping the asparagus pretty green and a little raw - it's the best of both worlds.   

This recipe takes those asparagus up a notch by pairing them with bright and tangy chimichurri.   Chimichurri is an raw herb sauce that is traditionally paired with meat but here it gets paired with tender asparagus, olives, and goat cheese.  It's pretty brilliant pairing and the epitome of spring eating.   

Pan Roasted Asparagus with Chimichurri
Recipe adapted from the NYTimes 

3 tablespoons finely chopped green garlic
½ cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro 
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon red wine or sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 pound pencil-thin asparagus, tough ends snapped off
4 ounces crumbled feta or a firm goat cheese 
Handful of olives
1/4 cup hazlenuts, toasted and chopped 
Crushed red pepper and sumac, to taste

Heat a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. 

Make the chimichurri sauce: In a small bowl, stir together chopped green garlic, parsley or cilantro, oregano, olive oil (start off with 1/4 of a cup), vinegar and 2 tablespoons water.  If it looks thick, add a little more olive oil and water until the desired consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle very lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt.

Transfer asparagus to hot cast-iron pan.   Let asparagus cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until nicely charred, with a few burnt and blistered spots. Asparagus cooked this way tastes best if slightly undercooked and still bright green.

Put cooked asparagus on a platter and spoon chimichurri sauce generously over spears. Top with crumbled feta, olives, and hazelnuts , then sprinkle with crushed red pepper and sumac.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

sesame banana pudding.

The first signs of rhubarb showed up this weekend and while I am very excited about it (and all the incredible desserts that are to come) I can't get this sesame banana pudding out of my head.  

I made this pudding last weekend when it was rainy and gloomy and both Tyler and I couldn't get enough of it.  Homemade sesame wafers get tucked between layers of banana pudding and sliced bananas.  The whole thing is topped with a toasted meringue that makes the entire dessert feel incredibly fancy.   It's definitely a dessert that makes and entrance and one that I think everyone will love.   

Sesame Banana Pudding
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit 

The original recipe said it serves 8.  I made a half batch and after seeing how much it made, I think a full batch can serve anywhere from 12-14 people (unless you want to eat a tub of banana pudding).   

Sesame Wafers

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup toasted sesame seeds
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pudding And Assembly

7 ripe bananas, divided
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 large eggs, separated
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Sesame Wafers: Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 375°. Whisk flour, sesame seeds, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and both sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg, egg yolk, oil, and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in dry ingredients. Cover dough and chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

Drop dough by the tablespoonful onto 2 parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets, spacing 1" apart. Bake wafers, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until brown around the edges, 13–16 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.

Pudding and Assembly: Rub 3 bananas with oil. Roast (oven should still be at 375°) on a parchment-lined baking sheet until skins are dark brown and flesh is popping out, 25–35 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, bring milk, butter, and ¼ cup sugar to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Whisk egg yolks, cornstarch, vanilla, ¼ cup sugar, and 1 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Adding ¼ cupful at a time, whisk in one-third of hot cream mixture, then whisk egg mixture into remaining cream mixture in saucepan. Cook pudding, whisking constantly, until thickened and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl set over an ice bath; let cool.

Peel roasted bananas and process in a food processor (or beat by hand) until smooth. Stir into pudding.

Slice remaining 4 bananas ¼" thick. Ladle one-third of pudding into a 9½" deep pie dish or 8x8" glass baking dish. Layer half of wafers over pudding; top with half of bananas. Repeat, layering with half of remaining pudding and wafers and all of bananas. Finish with a layer of remaining pudding, then wafers. 

Meanwhile, using electric mixer with clean beaters, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and a large pinch of salt in a large bowl on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Increase speed to high, gradually add remaining ½ cup sugar; beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 1 minute. Working in 3 batches and beating well after each, add powdered sugar. Beat until meringue is very stiff, dense, and glossy.

Let pudding cool slightly, then decoratively spread meringue over top. Toast with a kitchen torch, if desired.

Do Ahead: Dessert (without meringue) can be assembled 6 hours ahead; chill.