This is the recipe for the cake I made for Ladies Who Dine on Monday night. The original recipe was from a friend. I adjusted the berry content and the cooking time. It turned out really wonderfully and I served it with fresh whipped cream, but it doesn’t need anything. Leftovers are lovely with coffee in the AM!

Blackberry Cornmeal Cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal, plus more for coating pan

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup sour cream

6 oz. blackberries/Marion berries (original calls for 1 cup blackberries and 1/2 cup rasberries. I like raspberries uncooked and blackberries cooked…I also think this is way too many berries for the cake.)

Adjust a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.

Grease a 9- by 2-inch round baking pan; dust the pan with cornmeal, and tap out the excess.

Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

For the cake:

Sift the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy and smooth, 30 to 45 seconds.

Add the sugar in a steady stream, and beat until light.

Stir the vanilla and almond extracts into the lightly beaten eggs and add to the butter mixture about 2 tablespoons at a time. The mixture will appear curdled and that’s OK for this cake.

Remove the paddle and bowl from the mixer and stir in the sour cream with a rubber spatula. Add the flour ingredients to the butter mixture, stirring with the rubber spatula until well blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.

Scatter the blackberries over the batter.

Bake for 40ish minutes or until the baked surface springs back slightly when touched lightly in the center, is lightly golden on top and a round wooden toothpick comes out free of batter. Remove the pan from the oven to a wire rack and cool in the pan for about 15 minutes.

With oven mitts, tilt and rotate the pan, gently tapping it on the work surface to release the cake from the sides of the pan.

Place a wire rack on top of the pan, invert it onto the rack, and carefully lift the pan to remove. Cool completely before slicing with a sharp knife.


After reading Bittman’s article in the NYT:

I decided I must try a few of the items on the list that weren’t already in use in our kitchen.

I procured miso paste and coconut milk for two different experiments. In grad school, I used miso from time to time but for some reason had fallen out with it since. I picked up the popular red bean miso paste at the health food store (note: Whole Foods does carry it). I used a little over a tbsp. of the paste to about 10 oz. of boiling water. I added some sauteed (in olive oil) garlic (1 tsp.) and shitake mushrooms. Then I wilted about 2 tbsps of roughly chopped watercress in it as well. My friend, Julis and I decided it needed something(s). We added two drops of tamari and it was pretty tasty but I really think some freshly chopped scallions and grated fresh ginger are necessary for full enjoyment next time.

Bittman says simply mix the coconut milk with curry paste sauteed in oil with chopped onion. Then combine a poached meat of choice (chicken) and serve over rice. Here is my version:

– can of coconut milk
– 1.5 tbsp. curry powder (Madras is what I had so it is what I used)
– 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
– 1/2 chopped red pepper (if you can find little red chiles, you should totally use a few of those instead!)
– 1/2 chopped medium sized yellow onion
– 1 cup chopped broccoli
– 1 poached large boneless chicken breast chopped
olive oil and salt and pepper

saute onion and curry powder in oil for 1-2 minutes over medium heat, add red pepper, red pepper flakes, broccoli and cook for another two minutes, add coconut milk and chicken. serve over rice (I used brown rice). Salt and pepper to taste.

I found it needed a little something. Next time, I’ll probably use a red curry paste from a jar or buy red curry powder. I also think you only need about 1/2 to 3/4 of the can of coconut milk. Basil would be a great addition and so would the little red thai chiles. This serves 4.

Duck Fat

November 14, 2008

The challenge to use everything from the CSA goes on and on and it is especially difficult when we get something unusual. Last week we got Kohlrabi with the greens attached and very fresh. I saw a recipe for Kohlrabi root and watercress sauteed in duck fat and came up with the below recipe. It involves some cheating, in that you need frozen dumpling (think Chinese). Our chef friends turned us on to these easy cheap eat. Look in your frozen section…often the cheaper are better! I used "Chef One" brand from NY’s Fresh Direct. There are veggie, shrimp and chicken ones easily available, I know, but the pork ones were really outstanding. They have some cabbage in them. TASTY.

Kohlrabi and Pork Dumpling Stir-Fry

2 medium Kohlrabi roots diced into like size pieces
– 1/2 a bunch of Kohlrabi greens chopped
– 2 tbsp. duck fat
– 1 tbsp. mirin
– 1 tbsp. tamari
– 12 pork dumplings
-1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth
– 1/2 cup chopped fresh green beans
– 1 clove garlic crushed

Place duck fat in a wok/ large skillet w/ cover on medium heat. Add crushed garlic, and kohlrabi roots. After about a minute add the dumplings. Sear dumplings over medium heat, then add 1/4 cup of chicken broth, green beans and Kohlrabi greens and simmer, covered for 3 to 5 minutes.

Uncover and let broth cook down (should not take long), then add tamari and mirin, simmer for a minute or two and then turn off heat.

Optional additions: Fresh ginger (add with the tamari and mirin), chopped scallions (add after turning off heat), fresh chopped radish (add with tamari and mirin) and/or broccoli rabe (add with green beans and greens).

Muffin (wo)Man

October 27, 2008

This weekend I made a LOT of muffins. Boogie enjoys these for breakfast with some yogurt and fruit so I like to keep my freezer stocked. I had a few bananas stowed in the freezer (to avoid wasting a too ripe banana, toss in the freezer and make banana bread/muffins with them). I also had a can of pumpkin puree.

I made this recipe:

However, I carmelized the pecans taking 1 tbsp butter, 1/2 cup pecans and 2 tbsp turbinado sugar and simmering for a few minutes in a skillet. I made half without nuts for Boogie and then the other half were for various guests that came through this weekend as well as for me! They were all good but the pecans were decadent.

I also made pumpkin cornmeal muffins:

I used the above recipe but added 1 tsp of cinnamon (so 2 total), 1/8 tsp of ground ginger and 1/8 tsp of nutmeg. After trying these I would probably make them again with a crumbled sugar topping and a bit more clove. Maybe a full tsp. The carmelized pecans would also be good! This recipe actually made 12 muffins and two mini-loafs of bread, too. The freezer is stocked and I sent my friend Jessica home to D.C. with a few muffins and a mini-loaf for her and her husband to enjoy.

Muffins are really fairly cheap to make and SERIOUSLY easy. I think it takes serious skills to mess muffins up. The banana muffins (with the pecans) will make you look like the greatest cook ever, by the by. We are talking Ina Garten level, here.

New blog I’m totally inspired by.

So far I’ve had really good results with this. I’ve tried three different herbs: Basil, dill and cilantro, so far. I made basil and dill butter which is really simple. You simply bring a stick of butter to softened/room temperature, chop the herb and mix them up.

I have all these little plastic containers from Boogie’s meals…I got some from One Step Ahead specifically designed for freezing small amounts of food. I, also, have some recycled from Plum Baby Foods that I’ve bought for Boogie. A very good baby food brand, by the way. Glad brand also makes some small containers I think designed for salad dressings. Those are great for this. I put the herb butters in these containers and freeze.

I’ve also made a lot of basil pesto, as mentioned in prior posts and that freezes well. I, again, use small containers. Additionally, I froze chopped cilantro in lime juice and chopped dill in lemon juice. Herbs just don’t last very long even when you pre-wash them and wrap in paper towels. This is a good way to get a longer life out of them and save food and money.

The Fava Files

July 23, 2008

 The CSA last week had fava beans in them. I gotta tell ya I found all kinds of wonderful recipes but actual information on other very important aspects…well… Let’s have a look:

– Storing – I found not much to none. I put them in a perforated (sp?) plastic bag in the crisper of my fridge.

– how long they keep – nada (I kept mine for 5 days but feel strongly that 9 to 10 days would be ok)

– shelling – I mean….yeah…what do you need. Well…actually you do need a tip on them. You need to know that they work like snow peas or green beans in that you rip the little string and then split the pod open. You also need to know that spots inside and outside of the pod mean nothing. Are the beans green and relatively unbruised? Then you may eat them.

– What they should look like outside of the shell but PRIOR TO BLANCHING! This really was the big one for me. Everyone kept saying “membrane” and I was looking at a pale green lima-esque bean with a little line of dark brown on one end. What was that dark brown line? did it mean the beans were bad…??? so confusing. Since I have no picture of spoiled beans or what the beans should look like upon first shelling wellll. Ok. Long story short too late, they were fine.

– Blanching – heat some water (enough to be a 2 to 1 ratio for your beans, ok) to boiling. drop the shelled beans in. Set the timer for 3 minutes. drain the beans.


Ok…this is where things got a little squeemy for me. The beans have this weird wax covering that is breaking away. It is like…the X files where you have to break through a membrane for the flesh…it feels wrong. Am I commiting some sort of modern day veggie version of the Day the Earth Stood Still? 

It looks weird. It takes a little time. Just do it. You’ll thank me later. Peal the membrane (that removes that pesky dark brown thingy!!) off and throw it away. Save beans. Yea.

After all this, I made this. And it was good:

– two slices of pancetta
– 1/2 pd. of fava beans unshelled (will be less after shelling and blanching and all:)
– 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
– 1 small fine minced shallot
– 1 cup broth or water
– olive oil and sea salt

– high quality romano (not grated) and crusty Italian or French bread

chop pancetta finely and then saute until crisp. Add shallot , rosemary and a dash of olive oil. Then after a minute add the beans. cook over medium heat for two to four minutes (do not brown). Then add broth, turn down heat to medium heat simmer and cover. Cook for 9 to 10 minutes. Check and try to work with spatula the beans so that they break up. You then may need to add more liquid. You are cooking them into a paste. Once you have done that (the beans don’t have to be completely pureed but they need to break up considerably and everything should be a smooth thick spread), spread on bread and grate romano on top. Serve on the side of a fresh salad. 

This was my first experience even really SEEING raw Fava beans. But it was all good. I did some research. Prep. Thought about what tastes good. It all worked out.