Of course there is something amazing happening in my kitchen right now.
I’ve had intention to post for a while now. Sometimes words are difficult when I’m experiencing a full spectrum of emotion. I’d rather project a sunnier disposition.
I’d recently been gifted some pearls of wisdom that have become woven into my consciousness and given me sustenance. While the intended topic was somewhat unrelated, the sentiment resonated with me in such a way that I feel it in my quiet moments, reminding me to quickly get myself back to doing what I love.And so while my heart just hasn’t been there, I go through the motions, and find some nourishment, physically, emotionally and spiritually. In feeding others. In feeding myself. In running and not being concerned about time or distance. In foraging, photographing, hugs, conversation.
I picked mulberries and thimbleberries with a dear friend, I made lavender honey custard pie that would knock your (argyle) socks off. I crafted a salad with Sunday afternoon’s farmer’s market bounty.
And I said goodbye to a loved one.
Sitting here as I’m typing this, the scent of rhubarb and lemon verbena are filling my cosy little apartment, and brightening my spirits.
At six a.m.
I’ll share more on that later, but for now, here’s a recipe for a salad that’s been sustaining me for the past several days. I roasted some walnuts with a bit of honey, olive oil and salt, then pulled together the remaining ingredients, rather quickly. The lemon-thyme vinaigrette is the perfect complement to the sweet astringency of the walnuts and the bitter kale. It’s a great one-dish meal.
Enjoy, and much love,
Kale and Farro Salad
2 c farro, cooked
2 c finely shredded flat-leaf kale
1/4 c finely diced red onion
1/4 c toasted walnuts
2 medium to hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
1/4 c olive oil
juice of 1/2 large lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together; set aside.
Combine cooked farro, kale, onion and toasted walnuts in a large bowl. Combine with vinaigrette, and garnish with egg when serving.
My father is the champion of all things kitchen. He has more gadgets than I care to mention, and what seems like an endless amount of storage space with which to put them. I, on the other hand, have had to whittle things down to fit into my urban kitchen.
Rhubarb Thyme Gelato with Caramel Cream
Caramel milk base:
1 1/4 c milk
1/2 c cream
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped, or 1 tsp vanilla
Rhubarb Thyme Compote:
8 oz rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 c sugar
2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Combine milk, sugar, salt and vanilla bean, if using, in a small saucepan. Over moderate heat, stir until sugar dissolves, then continue to summer until reduced to ~1 cup. Remove from heat; add cream and vanilla, if using liquid. Pour into bowl and chill.
While milk is simmering, prepare compote:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Let bubble over medium heat until rhubarb is soft and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Remove thyme stems and then place in a glass container or bowl and chill.
Pour cream base into gelato maker and prepare according to manufacturer directions. When firm, add 2/3 c rhubarb compote. There will be a bit left over, which will taste fantastic on scones or toast, or mixed with yogurt.
Freeze up to two weeks, though gelato is best enjoyed within 1-3 days.
This weekend, I was able to do a bit of pruning at my father’s and took home a moderately sized sack of perfectly rosy beauts. I’d been planning to make dessert for some friends, and, given our glorious hint of early summer, a sort of strawberry-rhubarb shortcake came to mind. A recipe I’d discovered recently boasted a sweet-savory concoction of roasted fruit with balsamic and maple flavors, which brought my own craft into the sweet-savory realm. I dreamt of thyme and pepper-coated berries and barb, caramelized and tender, folded into layers of whipped cream and fluffy biscuits.
- Boil Farro for ~60 minutes in a large pot with 1 tsp salt and ~5 cups water until al dente (for quick-cooking farro, prepare according to package directions). Drain and let cool slightly
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
- Toss fennel and onion in 2 tbsp of the olive oil and a smatter of salt. Spread onto baking sheet and roast for ~40 minutes, giving a turn about 20-30 minutes through, the latter if you want a more charred effect. Let cool slightly, then scrape into a large bowl.
- Place kale ribbons on baking sheet and set in warm oven for about 5 minutes. It doesn’t need to be on; you just want to wilt and toast it a bit. Remove from oven and add to onion/fennel mixture.
- Make vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients; whisk. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.
- Add farro, walnuts and apricots to roasted vegetables; toss with vinaigrette. Fold in cilantro and adjust seasonings as needed.
It’s no secret that I love a good cake. Or a cookie, or a pie. When I’d happened upon a recipe for a ricotta-based cake recently, I had to try it. I am a huge fan of ricotta cheesecake, and after making several flour-based cakes with yogurt or buttermilk, I had no doubt that incorporating ricotta into a cake would result in something rich, moist and luxurious. I fantasized about it for days and proceeded to make it over Mother’s day weekend (you’ll find a in image of the finished product in my last post).
While the flavor was superb, especially alongside freshly-made mango sorbet, I was not pleased with the consistency. I was craving a cake with a firmer crumb, one would pair well with a velvety cup of black coffee or tea.
Needless to say, I was sucked into the vortex of time by other responsibilities (and not to mention, tartlets!). I’d nearly forgotten about the cake until last Sunday. After a leisurely day spent with friends, I was gifted with a jar of grapefruit marmalade, made by my most fabulous and talented friend, Lisa. The peel was candied to the point of jewel-like perfection; the fruit bathed in bitter-sweet syrupy goodness. At that moment, thoughts of a Ricotta and Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit Marmalade began swirling about in my head.I’m rather pleased with the consistency. Dense, but with a delicate spring, the cake pulled easily away from the pan’s edges and turned the most glorious of nut-brown. The cornmeal gave it just the right amount of toothsome crunch I was hoping for, and kept the cake appropriately moist. Dots of marmalade tucked into the batter gave it a flirty and sweet astringency, however what brought it all together was the marmalade syrup that was drizzled on top while still warm.I’d meant to reserve a slice for photographing, however this cake didn’t make it more than two days. Needless to say, I received many accolades and had to restrain myself from buying more ricotta at the grocery this afternoon.Enjoy, and much love,JRicotta and Cornmeal Cake with Grapefruit MarmaladeIngredients10 tbsp butter3/4 c sugarzest of 1/2 lemon3 eggs, separated1 c ricotta, drained of excess water1/2 c unbleached white flour1/4 c cornmeal1/2 tsp salt2 tsp baking powder1/4 c grapefruit marmaladeMethodPreheat oven to 350 degreesGenerously butter a medium-sized bundt pan, or an 8-inch round pan.In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients. set aside.Combine butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Cream for 2-3 minutes, until light, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.Add egg yolks, one at a time, then add ricotta and lemon zest.Mix in dry ingredients with a few swift turns. Be cautious not to over-mix.In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until firm, but not dry. Fold into batter.Pour about half of the batter into pan. Drop spoonfuls of marmalade onto batter, then cover with remaining batter.Insert a skewer or the handle of a spoon into batter and swirl slightly to incorporate the marmalade; smooth top of batter.Bake for ~50 minutes, until cake is set and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.Remove from oven; cool on rack for ~10 minutes then invert.While cake is cooling, quickly warm 2 tbsp of marmalade with 1 tsp of honey. Pour over inverted cake.**Note: this cake keeps well on the counter for 1-2 days, or in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, one can imagine.I didn’t find the need to test that theory.