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Healthy Carrot Breakfast Bread…Muffinized

8 Dec

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The “Healthy Carrot Breakfast Bread” is one of the more popular recipes on my blog. I still make it regularly whenever I have carrots around, tweaking the recipe slightly depending on my on-hand ingredients.

This weekend I turned the bread into muffins for easy snacks to take to my dietetic internship rotation.

I changed the recipe just enough from the original to feel like I should re-post. Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2014

29 Nov

I hope your holiday was delicious and special. My friend Natasha and I co-hosted and cooked most of the food together. Our friends brought extra sides (sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole), desserts (mascarpone tart with berries), and drinks (wine, beers, cider), all of which were amazing!

The menu:

Castelvetrano olives

Kale salad with apples and walnuts

Extra-buttery mashed potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes

Kale stuffing with dates

Brussels sprouts with bacon

Green bean casserole

Spatchcocked turkey with gravy

Roasted garlic

Cranberry sauce (homemade and jellied)

Dessert:

Upside-down cranberry cake

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Topping

Peanut Butter Pie

Mascarpone tart with berry sauce

Hand-whipped cream

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Clockwise from left: stuffing a la Samin (and Charlie!), with dates instead of prunes and no sausage; spatchcocked and carved turkey from the Serious Eats recipe and video; cranberry sauce (can be made one week before TG) Continue reading

Buttermilk Oat Soda Bread

24 Nov

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There was an abundance of buttermilk hanging out in my refrigerator this weekend (I used some to make pie crusts for Thanksgiving!), and I wanted to use it up. I thought about making buttermilk ice cream, but it sounded too cold. Scones or a quick bread sounded tasty, but I’ve been there, done that. Then I stumbled upon Heidi Swanson’s soda bread.

A bread that requires no yeast? Shoot, let’s give it a go. Continue reading

Cinnamon-Cocoa-Pecan Rugelach

11 Nov

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It’s about time I post a recipe here. I have been so busy out and about, road tripping to make pie in Vermont and hang out on a farm, and experimenting with letting others, namely Blue Apron, do the grocery shopping for me.

I am back in the groove now with a recipe for RUGELACH! Perfect for the upcoming holiday season. These darling cookies fit the bill for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hannukah. But really, they are delicious any time of the year.

Actually, I made the dough for the rugelach way back in August and stuck it in my freezer, intending to bake them off for the Jewish high holiday, Rosh Hashanah. Alas, life got busy and I never got around to making them.

So, three months later, I finally pulled the rugelach dough from the freezer, placed it in the refrigerator to thaw, and set to work rolling, filling, and shaping the cookies. I have been known to keep pie doughs and pizza doughs and apparently rugelach doughs in my freezer for months on end, which is not ideal or recommended, but hey, they always turn out tasting dang good.

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I wrote about rugelach a few years back, and it is high time for an update. Continue reading

A Pie Class with Joy the Baker: Pics, Tips, and Memories

28 Oct

I started Figs in My Belly in June, 2009. At that point in my life, I was living in California, getting a degree in Nutritional Science, staging (interning) in the kitchen at a small handful of restaurants, working at a cooking camp for kids, and making dinners for my housemates at the co-op where I lived. Oh, and I was totally obsessed with Joy the Baker and her blog.

That August, I heard about a rooftop picnic in downtown Los Angeles that Joy was hosting and jumped on the opportunity. I brought my mom along and we spent the afternoon enjoying Joy’s biscuits, fried chicken, coleslaw, and cupcakes while mingling with other Joy the Baker fans.

Cut to more than five years later, and I now live in New York City with a short (four-year-long) pastry cook career currently on pause while I finish up a graduate degree in Nutrition Education and a dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian. And, as you might have guessed, I am still totally obsessed with Joy the Baker and her blog.

Joy is currently on tour for her latest cookbook, Homemade Decadence. I attended her book signing at The Brooklyn Kitchen, and the following weekend, my friend Michelle and I drove up to King Arthur Flour in Vermont, where Joy was teaching a hands-on pie making class. Joy taught two four-hour pie classes on the same day. She is a warrior.

I’ve made my share of pies in the past, but pie still intimidates me, and I wanted to gain some pro tips to boost my pie confidence. Plus, my friend Michelle never made her own pie before, so this was the perfect opportunity to learn. We road tripped for pie! Continue reading

Blueberry Compote (with gin!)

1 Sep

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David Lebovitz said I should put gin in my blueberry compote. So I did.

In the headnote of his recipe, Lebovitz writes, “…Gin’s herbaceous flavor does indeed marry nicely with blueberries–it can hardly be tasted once cooked, but somehow it just rounds out the blueberry notes…”

I was immediately sold. I took out a saucepan, set it on the stove, and proceeded to make what is now my favorite fruit-based “condiment” of the summer (I imagine another similar summer berry, such as a blackberry, could be substituted for the blueberry).

Cooking the blueberries helped bring out that intense deep blue color and concentrated the flavor, giving off a quintessential blueberry smell. The texture of the berries changed, too, leaving the sometimes-mushy consistency of a fresh blueberry behind and highlighting a blueberry that bursts and oozes a juicy filling instead. Nature’s gushing candy!

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Toss blueberries in a pot with a little sugar and a little gin and cook the mix for just a few minutes until the blueberries soften and begin to release their juices. 

That’s the shorthand version of the recipe. 3 ingredients. 1 pot. 5 minutes.

Serve chilled, room temperature, or slightly warm. I have been enjoying the compote with a generous scoop of plain yogurt, and spooned atop pancakes. It would also pair well with: oatmeal, ice cream, cake, nut-butter toast.

Blueberry Compote (with gin!)

from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert; makes about 2 cups

*When I made the compote, I had slightly under 2 cups of blueberries. I ended up eyeballing the sugar and gin to about 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 heaping spoon of gin. If you feel comfortable eyeballing to taste, go for it. The proportions listed below are the original ones used in Lebovitz’s book.

  • 2 1/2 cups (12 ounces/340g) fresh blueberries (or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) gin (I used Hendrick’s Gin)

Combine the blueberries, sugar, and gin in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries just begin to soften and release their juices. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, and let cool to room temperature. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if desired.

Storage: This compote can be stored in a jar or tupperware the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  This compote is actually better when prepared a day in advance, which gives it time to thicken nicely.

Variation: If you do not want to use gin, you can substitute water and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

12 Jun

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I moved from Northern California to New York City three years ago. Determined to find a full-time job in a restaurant kitchen, I spent my first few weeks “trailing” (a fancy term for trying out) at a handful of restaurants, mostly in pastry.

Typically at a trail, I got a quick tour of the restaurant, I was assigned some kitchen prep tasks, and eventually if all went well, I was allowed on the line during service to observe and help out with some small finishing touches on the dishes.

At one of the restaurants, my task was to peel rhubarb stalks. The peels were eventually going to get candied.

Rhubarb tends to have this “skin” that can be delicately peeled off into hot pink (and sometimes light green) strands. This is not an easy task when you have an entire box of rhubarb to peel and you haven’t eaten or peed for six hours and your hands are trembling with nerves (trembling because earlier that day I incorrectly measured out the dry ingredients for a giant batch of cookies). Nonetheless, I put on a smile, bit my lip, and persevered. Trying out for a new job, after all, is not an easy task.

*Side note, I met my friend Elizabeth at that trail. She was working the line and I was allowed to observe her. I was fresh in New York, and she was the coolest, funniest, nicest person I had met since moving (and still is!), and I knew I had to keep her close. Plus, she had experience in the kitchen and could offer me advice. I never ended up working at that restaurant and she left shortly thereafter, but Elizabeth and I became fast friends.  

My back-of-the-house restaurant life has been on hiatus for the last two years as I finish up graduate school and try to become a registered dietitian.

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While I feel somewhat nostalgic for candied rhubarb tendrils, in the comfort of my own home (if you call comfort a shared apartment with three dudes), I tend to crave a more rustic dessert.

Rhubarb pudding cake fits the bill. It’s a rhubarb compote plopped on top of cake batter and baked. The rhubarb gets chopped and simmered into a compote until just soft. Fast, easy, and absolutely delicious. I did pull out my KitchenAid mixer for the cake batter, but at least I didn’t have to deal with cleaning a giant hobart mixer.

The “pudding” in the cake is created by pouring a hot, vanilla-infused rhubarb compote over a thick sour-cream (or yogurt) batter.

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To memorable restaurant experiences, to good friends, and to pink vegetables that taste like fruit. Bon Appétit!

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

adapted from Vintage Cakes

makes 8-10 servings

1 pound rhubarb, trimmed of leaves and ends, diced (~4 cups)

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise)

1/2 cup water

1 2/3 cup (8 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine Kosher salt

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (9 ounces) sour cream or plain yogurt, room temperature [I used a 6-oz container of low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with some milk to equal a cup]

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 or 9-inch round or square cake pan or a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with butter. (I lined mine with parchment paper, too).

Make a compote by tossing together the rhubarb and 1 cup of the sugar in a medium saucepan with a lid. Add the vanilla and water, cover, and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft but has not completely broken down, stirring occasionally. Take the compote off the heat but keep it covered so it says warm while you make the cake.

To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then whisk the ingredients by hand to ensure they are well mixed.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar together on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. As you make the batter, stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the bowl with a rubber spatula. Blend in the eggs one at a time, adding the second egg as soon as the first one has disappeared into the batter, followed by the vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream in two parts, so that you begin and end with the flour mixture.

Spread the batter into the prepared dish or pan and distribute the compote over the top. The compote will be quite runny, but don’t fear: all will be well once the cake has baked. Place the cake in the center of the oven and bake until the edges are firm and the center no longer jiggles, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool for about 30 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate and cut into slices, or spoon it right out of the pan.

This cake is best the day it is made, but well-wrapped it can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. 

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