Friday, November 5, 2010

Fall Happenings

For the most of this fall, or at least it has felt like, I have been spending many evenings inside working on algebra problems, and remembering the rules of geometry. I ran a pen out of ink and filled a whole notebook up with my practice.  I learned what hirsute means. All of this tedium came to an end last week with a successful run at the GRE. I promptly celebrated with a Nopales burrito at a Mexican to-go stand attached to a tiny convenience store that had been beckoning to me on the ride into my parent's house for awhile now.

Now I can get back to tending projects that have been neglected, here is what I have been up to in the mean time. 

,A delicious kitchen experiment using lye to make traditional German pretzels.

 This apple weighed more than a pound. A light afternoon snack for Angel.


 Two of my most recent baking endeavors. The pumpkin caramels were a mix of salty and sweet, a welcome addition to the vast realm of pumpkin goods. Underneath are a new favorite cookie - one made with spent grain from beer brewing.

My coworker has a larger than average brewing operation and will boil up to 20 pounds of barley for a brew. After boiling the barley the wort (boiling liquid) is drained off to be made into beer, and the spent grain is left behind. He gladly donated the spent grain  for me to experiment with in bread and other baked goods. If you don't have spent grain, oats or any other grain could work well in the cookies.

Spent Grain Cookies

1 c flour
1/2 c barley flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 c light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp kosher salt
1 c rolled oats
1 c toasted spent grain
1 c toasted, roughly chopped hazelnuts
3 oz. roughly chopped dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixer beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sugars, vanilla, molasses and salt and beat until well combined, a few minutes. Add eggs to combine. In another bowl mix the flours, baking soda, and spices. Add the flour mixture to the butter in two parts, combining completely between additions. As soon as the flour is combined, add in the oats, grain, hazelnuts, and chocolate. Mix until all additions are distributed evenly. Drop onto a baking sheet with parchment, and sprinkle the tops with demerara sugar. Bake 10-12 minutes, and cool on a rack.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Good Day

Today was good as far as days go, with my ability to fully utilize the internet restored. Also, completely unexpectedly, a large portion of my music collection and many thought to be long-lost photos are back in their home.

To top off those wonderful happenings, I had a cold rainy trek up Mount Pilchuck with my Dad and very muddy dog. It was a great end to our Northwest "summer". The hillside was covered in wild huckleberries, and although the lookout was completely socked in and wind-whipped, it was still a pleasant place to eat lunch.

Here is my favorite late August/early September recipe I made for my family and Aunt a couple of weeks ago.
Right now in Seattle you can find blackberries and apples growing in the city.
The two match well together in a pie. The apples help to soak up the extra blackberry juices, so the pie doesn't get too runny.
It is a perfect end of summer food - berries to celebrate the end of warm weather fruit, and apples to help you remember why you should look forward to the fall.

Apple-Blackberry Pie

4-5 cups of blackberries
3 small to medium apples sliced thinly (I like to use Gravenstein)
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp salt

I use Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee recipe with European style butter for my crust

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare the crust recipe of your choosing, and put in the fridge to chill.  Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Coat all the fruit with the sugar and let set for at least 15 minutes. During this time you can roll out your crust and place it in a 9 inch pie pan. Scoop the filling out into the crust, leaving behind most of the juices in the bowl. I like to make a lattice on top of the filling, but you could do a plain double crust. Bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour until the fruit is bubbling well and the crust is just turning golden. Let set for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Monday, July 19, 2010

berry time



 I think one thing in particular that I can't wait to have in summer months are berries. They might be my favorite fruit for anytime, and I get overwhelmed at the sight of endless berry flats at the market. Each little berry packs its own intense burst of flavor, and the variation in taste across the berry family is as exciting as the thought of all the days of summer you have to enjoy in different ways. I want to eat as many as I can while they are here, and savor them like I do the season.

This week at the market I had to convince the "Berry Man" to give me as many blueberries as he could with the cash I had left. I only had $6, but being the kind Berry Man he was, he gave me $8 worth. I was ecstatic, and my purse was empty. Thankfully farmer's markets don't take debit cards or I would have spent at least $20 on berries. 

One of my favorite modes to showcase fresh berries is in a simple pie. Since I didn't want to make one big pie that will get soggy too fast with just me to eat it, I decided to make little pie turnovers that I could freeze and bake up for whenever I had a berry pie craving.

They are especially good on days like this.


Berry Turnovers
If you have a favorite pie crust recipe, use that. The filling is very simple and could be adapted for any fruit. If the fruit is juicier add more corn starch, if the fruit is sweeter lessen the sugar.


Pate Brisee
by Martha Stewart

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 c cold unsalted butter, my favorite for pie is the Organic Valley Cultured European Style
1/4-1/2 c ice water

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter in cubes to the flour. Crumble and cut the butter into the flour either with your hands, knives, or pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal. Add the water slowly, stirring it into the flour as you pour. Add only enough water to hold the dough together, it should not be wet or sticky. Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap, form into a ball and chill for an hour.

Berry Filling

2 1/4  c. blueberries - or any other berry
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp salt

Combine everything in a bowl, and let set for 30 min.

To make the Turnovers:

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take the dough out of the fridge, work with one half of the dough at a time. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until about 1/8 inch thick. Using a bowl, or other stencil, cut out circles of dough 5-6 inches in diameter. You can do smaller ones as well, 3-4 inches in diameter. For each circle, scoop 2 Tbsp of berries into the middle of the circle. Carefully fold over the dough to make half circles. Press the seam together to seal, crimp with your fingers to tighten the seal. Place the turnover on the prepared baking sheet. After all the turnovers have been made, put the sheet in the freezer for 30 min. About 15-20 min. before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, if you have a baking stone place that on the lowest rack for the preheat. After the turnovers have been thoroughly chilled, take out of the freezer to prepare for baking. You could also at this time put them in a zip lock to freeze for later. Brush the tops with cream, milk, or buttermilk, and sprinkle with sugar. Cut three steam vents into the top of the crust. Slide the turnovers, on the parchment, onto the baking stone (or baking sheet). Bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

warm nights on the porch


With sunny days and long nights finally here, I have found myself spending many hours lounging on my deck in the back yard. We have these wood and canvas chairs that you can sink into, and are perfect for book reading and snacking. The ice cream and shortbread I savored one warm night recently had been made for Fourth of July, which made me crave my new wool sweater more than a sundae. 

Other treats I have been enjoying in the evening light

An apricot and strawberry tart made with Rustic Rye Dough out of Good to the Grain (I have tried multiple delicious recipes from this book, this dough stood out). I made this as a dessert for a dinner I prepared for two friends of mine visiting Seattle from Germany. They enjoyed the dessert, but were pickier with their beer. They chose a tall can of Busch over the Alaskan Summer Ale I offered, although they said they appreciated the Orca Whale on the label.

I also took up a culinary adventure by grilling, which I have never done on my own. I was tenacious and grilled a whole salmon. Inside the salmon I tucked in garlic, lemons,  and rosemary. It sizzled and dripped tasty fats while over the charcoal. The only difficult process was when I went to turn it over; I almost capsized the entire grill, demolished the salmon, and burned my hands. It was all in good efforts though, as it turned out delicious. 




I ate the Strawberry Lemon Ice Cream and Ginger Oat shortbread intended for Fourth of July for many meals over the past week, including breakfast. The last spoonfuls of the ice cream were eaten as an after-work bike ride refreshment this afternoon. The combination of the buttery oat cookie with the tang of the strawberries and lemon are perfect for summer evenings outside, and I am excited to make more ice cream and cookie combos. 

Ginger Oat Shortbread

1 stick unsalted butter
2 Tbsp shortening, non-hydrgenated
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp
1/2 c. oat flour
1/4 c. oats
2 Tbsp powdered ginger
1 tsp salt

 In a stand up mixer, beat together the butter, shortening and sugars until well combined, and beginning to become soft, but not too fluffy. Add the flours, oats, ginger, and salt. Mix until all components have just come together. Turn out dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Lightly flour the top, and roll into a rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cover the top of the dough with plastic wrap. Place dough sheet on a cookie sheet and chill at least one hour. At least 15 minutes before you decide to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  When ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge and unwrap the dough. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut the dough into rough 3x3 inch squares, and place on the parchment. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown on the edges. Cool on a rack before trying to remove from parchment.


Strawberry Lemon Ice Cream 

2 c. Heavy Cream
1 c. Whole Milk
1/4 c. honey
1/3 c. sugar
thick zest of 2-3 lemons
Fresh Cidronella (optional, I had some in my garden)

3/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
2. c strawberries, roughly chopped

In a saucepan on medium high heat combine the cream, milk, honey, sugar, and zest. Heat until just before boiling, but do not boil. Take off heat, cover, and let the cream infuse for one hour. Transfer to the fridge to chill overnight. In another saucepan combine the lemon juice, water, and sugar. Boil unti reduced by half. Add the strawberries and toss them until coated with the syrup. Keep over heat for 5 minutes, until the strawberries loose some of their structure. Transfer to the fridge to chill overnight. To freeze ice cream, take the cream mixture out of fridge and strain into a large bowl. Mix in strawberries, and freeze according to your ice cream maker.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Treat Transporter


It was a co-worker's birthday this week, and I wanted to bring her a surprise treat. Instead of being impressed with my thoughtfully-made baked good, she surprised me by taking a last minute trip out of town. Luckily my other co-workers did not need much encouragement to eat up a fellow worker's birthday gift.

To deliver a box full of goodies on a bicycle, my commute method, takes some careful forethought. If a vessel is fragile, it can be easily crushed in a backpack. Tupperware containers must fit perfectly into a handle bar bag or pannier, or they will fall out en-route or fail to be zipped in. I have been struggling with how I can get my baked cakes, tarts, and large batches of cupcakes from my home to my good friends - especially the tarts!

I have overcome the problem - the Treat Transporter:
It may look simple and rugged, but with a mounted bike rack and one of those nylon pull string bags that are given away for free at races, conferences, etc. treats can be transported with success. I rode 10 miles with a 10-inch tart strapped onto my bike, 18 whole cupcakes made it up and down Dexter, and a cherry cobbler survived the pot holes on Fairview. I am so excited I have a song I sing while transporting.

The cupcakes that were delivered without harm, were made with one of my favorite recipes my Mom would make while I was growing up. They are classic Black Bottom Cupcakes; a bittersweet chocolate cake bottom topped with a dollop of cheesecake. The softened chocolate chunks in the top make it even better. I don't know where the recipe my Mom used came from, but the chocolate cupcake base works great with other toppings besides cheesecake.

Black-Bottom Cupcakes
18 cupcakes (12 if you just make the bottoms to frost)

Cupcake
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa (I used Ghiradelli baking cocoa)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 c. water
1/3 c. oil (any light flavored oil)
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp vinegar (apple cider, or white wine, works well)

Topping
1 egg
1/3 c. sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. chocolate chips or chopped chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tins with liners for 18 cupcakes. In a mixer on medium to high speed beat the topping ingredients well. Stir in the chocolate chips and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure the mixture is even. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients of the cupcake batter.  Add the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full with the batter. Top each with a heaping tablespoon of the topping. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the tops have set up and have almost started to turn golden.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Out in the Country

I volunteered at a benefit dinner for Cascade Harvest Coalition at Willie Green's Farm in Monroe this weekend. I had my first experience working as a server at a large, fast-paced dinner. It was a beautiful warm day in Monroe, and this was the view as we arrived.

 The dinner was held in the green-house, since they had expected rain. While the servers were setting tables, it felt like a tropical rain forest. Thankfully, for the guests, it was perfect come dinner time.
There was a "Dessert Dash" game for after dinner. Restaurants from Seattle donated desserts that guests could bid on, and then race to the buffet to grab. I had to make an emergency run to the tiny downtown Monroe to find extra treats for the game; luckily boxes of locally made truffles were found at the town's candy shop.  This salted caramel tart was the first to be taken in the mad rush of contestants.
The servers were given a platter of these double-decker bread puddings with first-of-the-season strawberries on top. The bottom layer was made with lemon verbana, and it was delicious. They were devoured after we had been on our feet for hours. 
 
There was even time to enjoy the warmth and a cool drink.
The night came to an end with colors that lit up the fields
It was a long night of hard work, but the beautiful country scenery and new tastes (like a salmon bahn-mi!) were a welcome change of pace from a Saturday in the city.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

buckle

Mmm... half eaten buckle and nineteen-seventies style linoleum. I often forget how distinct the pattern on my kitchen floor is since I see it everyday, but when it is in a picture it surprises me. 

This buckle also surprised me with how delicious it was. I took one huge bite out of it as soon as I could. You can see the olive oil-soaked parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. The tasty, moist  bottom cake buckled up over the juicy berries and butter-oat crumb, almost enveloping the toppings (that is how the buckle earned its name). It is good at breakfast, dessert, and as an anytime treat. It also tastes especially good when topped with whipped cream your boyfriend has made by shaking cream vigorously in a mason jar lightly coated with coffee grounds. Just now, the cake proved to be the perfect bed-time snack after an evening of aquavit, Vietnamese food and conversation with a good friend. 

Currently, with the constant gloomy weather, I need reminders about why I love Seattle. Baking is one reward to being inside and cold, especially when it involves blackberries. Another method to embrace the chill is to consume fresh, flavorful, vermicelli noodles with warm tea for dinner at Green Leaf, and after head straight to The Copper Gate for liquid blankets that were created by the people who endure almost 24 hours of darkness for sometime every year. 

This buckle could be made with whatever fruit, herbs, and spices fit the season or occasion - in the sun or the rain.

Blackberry- Sage Buckle

1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 c. olive oil
1 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. blackberry jam 
2 Tbsp. sage chopped
zest of one small lemon
 1- 1 1/2 c. fresh blackberries

Crumble Topping:
1/4 c. oats
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. almond meal
4 Tbsp butter at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper in the bottom. In a small bowl combine the oats, brown sugar, and almond meal - crumble the butter in until nice, even, clumps have formed. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients. In another small bowl mix sugar, olive oil, egg, vanilla, buttermilk, and lemon zest. Fold the wet into the dry ingredients until just combined. Soften the blackberry jam in the microwave, or stove-top, with 1 Tbsp. of the chopped sage for 30 sec. Fold the jam into the batter to make a ribbon. Pour the batter into the cake pan. Dot the top with the blackberries until most of the surface is covered. Sprinkle the crumble topping on evenly, and scatter the rest of the chopped sage.  Bake for 40-50 min. until the top is browned and the middle is just set.
Cool on a rack.

Long weekend, long story


The long weekend had me as busy as the weather. I started out on the west side of the Cascade Mountains, dodging surprise bursts of rain. I took a trip to a vast cavern of sailing and marine relics with my parents, where my Dad was tempted to buy a captains wheel. I also had to get myself ready for a trip to the other side of the mountains for a big, dirty, and loud music festival - aptly named 'Sasquatch'.

Spending days and nights at the Gorge ampitheatre requires some careful planning. Once you arrive and set up camp,  edibles and sundries (new vocab word of the weekend!) are few and costly. The whole event puts you out in the elements; actively listening to music all day and the rowdy antics of fellow campers all night. 

The trip began with a late night drive, through blurry forests, horror-movie roads, and eerie ominous rivers. 


Even at one in the morning when we set up our tent, the sprawling field of make-shift dwellings was still full of activity. Friends were lost, fireworks were going off, and dozens of scattered conversations all blended into one massive sound.

 
As soon as the sun came up, a kale-filled bun was happily devoured by my camping buddy. The rest of the day went by in a blur, there was music from noon until mid-night.

 
During Caribou's early show, I had a little filled bun. 

 
Highlights of the day: discovering the unique Tune-Yards, watching the bass player for The xx intensely swoop around on stage, dancing to the infectious sounds of LCD Sound System, and getting sleepy to the lights and lulling of Massive Attack. 

 
By the end, the ground was pretty dirty. 

To get through the trip, a bag of home-made granola bars and filled buns were shared between us. They were most definitely tastier than anything that the Gorge was serving, and were so nutrient dense you didn't want much else. Except for some cornbread maybe. 

The buns were delicious, and I have already started thinking of other filling mixes. The granola bars were chewy, thick, and not too sweet. They are also great if your cupboard of bulk-item-baggies needs some clearing. 

Thick Granola Bars
Adapted from here
2 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. oat flour (I processed my oats until fine)
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c. almond butter
8 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
1/2 c. brown rice syrup
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
2 Tbsp water
3 1/2 c. delicious additions (1/2 c. chopped walnuts, 1/2 c. chopped almonds, 1/2 c.chopped pecans, 1/4 c. millet puffs, 1/2 c. dried currents, 1/4 c. dried cranberries, 1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut, 1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 12 inch baking dish, and put a layer of parchment paper in the bottom, butter the top of this. In a large bowl mix all of the dry ingredients, including your delicious additions. In another bowl blend together the melted butter, almond butter, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, and water. Pour this over the dry ingredients and toss until everything is evenly coated. Press the mix into the baking dish and put in the oven for 30- 40 min. I let mine just begin to brown on the top - anymore than that and they will be too crunchy. Let cool on a rack in the pan, then cut into squares.



Filled Buns

Dough:
2 tsp dry active yeast
1/4 c. lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
3/4 c. lukewarm buttermilk
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter at room temperature
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour

Filling:
1-2 medium chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic
4-5 c. of roughly chopped leafy greens (I used kale and cabbage)
1/2 c. shredded sharp chedder
salt & pepper to taste
2 tsp smoked paprika
3 Tbsp butter

Topping:
2 Tbsp melted butter
sesame seeds
smoked salt

First, begin the dough. Combine the yeast, water, and sugar and let set for 15 min to bubble and dissolve. Add the buttermilk, baking soda, salt, and stir. Stir in the whole wheat flour. Add just enough of the all-purpose flour to form a dough - I used about 3/4 c. Put the dough onto a floured surface and knead until very smooth and stretchy. Put into a lightly oiled bowl and let double in size (on a cold day, mine took 1 1/2 hours). During the rise, make the filling. In a medium frying pan over medium heat 3 Tbsp butter. Add the carrots and garlic. Saute until the carrots are beginning to soften. Add the leafy greens, paprika, and season to taste. Cook until the greens have lost most of their volume. Set aside to cool. Add the shredded cheese, and refrigerate if you still have time on your dough's rise. Just before your dough is done rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, if you have a baking stone preheat this as well. After the rise, remove the dough from the bowl and cut into 12 equal pieces, round each one into a ball.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough piece into a circle about 5 inches in diameter. Place a scant 1/4 cup of the filling in the middle of the dough. Gather the edges, and pinch together in a swirl. Place the bun seam side down onto a baking sheet with parchment paper. Repeat for other buns. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds and smoked salt. Bake either on a sheet, or stone, for 15-20 min. until the outside is lightly browned. Cool on a rack.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Marzipan


The sun came out and let me thoroughly appreciate the beginning of my twenty-fourth year. The following activities made for a most satisfying celebration:

  I let the crisp shards of a Kougin Amann fall all over my hair
  Languidly eating whole wheat-apple-pecan-current pancakes in bed
  Savored small bites with my favorites
  Aired stinky cheese at Gas Works
  Imbibed creative concoctions with the many people who make me smile
  Found fresh pasta under a Tandem
  Finally tasted some of Seattle's best crust & crumb with the family
  Played with marzipan dough like a kid


A chicken hiding in a cabbage patch graced the top of the cake I made for my party. It made me think of my young love for marzipan animals.

When I was younger, my good friend had a Norwegian themed birthday party. We played a traditional after dinner game where everyone receives a bowl of rice pudding, but one person has an almond in their bowl. The lucky person with the almond wins a tasty marzipan pig. As soon as I became aware of the fact that we were playing this game, and saw the pig at the house before the party, I knew I wanted the pig. Badly. I anxiously awaited for when it would be time to play the game, and when I stirred through my serving no almond was to be found. I feel like the winner may have shared the pig with me, I assume I was visibly pouting. This year's marzipan chicken definitely made up for the loss of the pig some.

On the topic of strange cake toppers, I saw an almost disturbing cake decoration while out searching for a big pink bakery box to tote my cake in. I will only say that it was of a certain vampire that lives in Forks, WA. He was sparkly, perhaps made of fondant, dwelling in a forest of frosting. The disturbing part is that it was made at a most infamous bakery in Wallingford. If you can think of the shop, you can imagine how strange this cake was. The experience made my boyfriend wonder at how there is a market to support such a large collection of novelties.

Thanks to all who made my birthday wonderful. All the goodness of the weekend was enough to last me through this windy, rainy week.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Deep Roots

There is a particular lily in my yard that has made its presence very well known. Where there is an expanse of soil, it has saturated the space. Where there is a crack between rocks, it has settled. Unfortunately it has taken residence in the very space I would like to grow some squash,  or potatoes, perhaps.

The task of clearing this very innocent looking flower at first appeared straight-forward. The leaves and stalks slid out of the ground with almost no resistance whatsoever. As with most issues that seem so simple on the surface, a little bit of digging reveals that the root of the trouble is much more complex. No single simple action will finish the job, small decisive steps are the only way to clear the dirt of it's deep-set, intertwined tangle of past growth.

Maybe that is why I like a garden project. Or a cake project. In one afternoon I can deconstruct and rearrange a space to become something new. In a few hours many different entities can be treated in a unique manner, melded together into something that will satisfy not only empty bellies, but aesthetic senses.

 It is good practice for me to create, to continually envision a projection of what I can do on my own. This weekend it was a nutty cake, and readied garden beds (two, mine and my parents). In the present I am trying to project bigger undertakings for myself, but that hasn't come into focus just yet.


Almond-Pear Torte for Mother's Day
Adapted from this torte

1/2 c. ground, blanched almonds
2/3 c. unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick salted butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 oz.  dark chocolate chopped into small rectangles and shards (I used 70%  Theo Dark Chocolate)
3 medium sized pears, sliced 1/8-1/4" thick
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp amaretto
1 tsp almond liquor

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan and place a circle of parchment paper on top. Combine the flour, almonds, and baking powder together. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients, chocolate and eggs. Mix to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, it will only be a thin layer. Overlap the pear slices in 2 circles on top of the batter until it is all covered by pears. In a small bowl mix together the honey, amaretto, and almond liquor. Brush this mixture on top of the pears. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until golden and puffy.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bike Fuel

Muffin prepares for the ride to work in the warm morning sun. Little does muffin know that it will provide my hungry bike team with a snack after their first 'Bike To Work Month' trip. I am acting as Team Captain for my first time this year, and this morning I wanted to give my team a treat to reward their biking efforts. 

These muffins are one of my all time favorites. At one point I was would make them every weekend so I could have them everyday before breakfast. They have enough substance to keep you full and give you energy, but in no way are they a common over-sugared muffin-shaped-cake so often served at breakfast. You can substitute anything into the muffins; the fresh fruit keeps them moist, and the eggs retain a fluffy spring.  I put suggestions below for my favorite additions. Also, if you don't want to use eggs I have used Ener-G Egg re-placer many times for this recipe and other cookies & quick breads. It is found in the baking aisle, and is made of tapioca flour and leavening reagents.

 The trio behind morning muffin power


Morning Glory Muffins
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c. coconut (or other addition - oat bran, wheat bran, soy protein powder)
3/4 c. sliced almonds (or any kind of nuts you like)
1 large carrot grated
1 large apple grated
zest and juice of one medium to large orange
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. olive oil (or applesauce)
3/4 c. dried currents (or any other dried fruit diced small)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. If you are using currents or raisins, place in a small bowl and cover with warm water. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients well. Add coconut, almonds, sugar, carrot, apple, and orange zest. Stir until all of the grated pieces of fruits and vegetables are evenly coated in the dry ingredients. In a small bowl combine the orange juice, eggs, and olive oil. Add the wet ingredients to the large bowl. If you haven't added the dried fruit already, drain and do so now. Mix well just until a batter forms and all of the flour is combined. Divide the batter up over a 12 - cup muffin tin. If your muffin tin is not non-stick, make sure to grease the tin before adding the batter. Each cup should be filled just to the brim. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Carefully loosen the muffins around the edge with a knife and let cool on a rack.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Plant Babies

People flocked to Wallingford this weekend, and for a good reason: The Seattle Tilth Edible Plant Sale. Thousands upon thousands of enticing edible garden starts took over the park at the Good Shepard Center and were sold off to start their lives in gardens across Seattle. I volunteered at the event as a 'Line Wrangler' and watched people fill their strollers and wagons full of plant starts.  There was no way I could resist, and here are the little beauties I brought home with me.
An adorable 'Fish Pepper'. An heirloom variety hot pepper, given its name because of its use in seafood restaurants in Baltimore and Philadelphia in the early 1900's.
A Sungold and Jaune Flammee tomato basking in a 30-second sun break - the only one of the day. I am especially excited for the Jaune Flammee, it will produce medium sized golden orange tomatoes with a delicious flavor.
The Lemongrass plant is new to me, but I am looking forward to fresh Thai curries this summer.
I hope this curvaceous basil leaf will be the first of many to grow.

There are a few more baby plants I have sitting in my windowsills, but I will have to wait a bit longer to set them loose in the wilds of my backyard (it is so cold and windy out!). Below though is a glimpse of what is to come for me this week with the cold keeping up. Those are mushrooms taking a bath in some browned butter for a dinner I made for my wonderful buddy last week. I have oysters and morels I picked up at the market this weekend who are more than anxious to take a dip, I am sure. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Forever-Ever?


Those lovely hydrangeas are from the bouquet I carried as Maid-of-Honor this Saturday. My good friend, who is now married, put together a beautiful wedding and reception. The pretty flowers are only one of many examples of her good taste.

But before we could all revel in love-for-forever, champagne drinks, and oysters - a lot of work was done. A bridesmaid's job is not always an easy one.

Wedding preparations began the night before with all the bridesmaid's at the bride's home. This included the arduous tasks of watching wedding reality television (Bridezilla for example), eating snacks, and picking out jewelry.

The next morning we started early. We had just enough time to take a sunny walk to coffee before the crazy day began. Her charmingly nervous father drove us all to have our hair transformed and faces made-up. Somehow this took about 3 hours, and by that time it was off to the church. From that point on it was our duty to make sure her dress never got in her way, and that all she had to worry about was professing her never-ending love to someone. By the way, wedding dresses are so big and heavy! So hard to handle!

Successfully, she looked gorgeous the whole time, they kissed, and drove off to their party in a Rolls Royce. The rest of us got to take a limo with a crazy-man driver who got lost going to the reception, but all was well and we watched the new couple walk in the room to the Top Gun theme song. We had a great party in their honor, and we even took it out to a karaoke bar after everyone ran the reception bar dry. The groom made a fantastic end of the night speech to his new wife at the bar (it ended in a 'wife' chant), and then, finally, I got to go to sleep.

We were running on our breakfast meal all day until we got to the reception that evening. My stomach made a big growl during the ceremony, I thought about eating my bouquet. Luckily I had thought this might happen, and came prepared to try to feed my fellow bridesmaids the best I could that morning. I love having something fresh baked in the morning, and I thought scones would be sturdy enough to make us last a little while without starving.

To make things easy, I made the dough the night before and froze the cut pieces on a baking sheet. In the morning I put the frozen scones straight into the oven. If you do this bake them a little bit longer than in the directions, mine were a bit doughy in the middle after 10-15 minutes. I also served these with an orange cream I made. I took chilled whipped cream and whisked it with orange curd I had made earlier in the week. It is delicious on warm scones.


If you are interested, this is a great article about what different ingredients and techniques play a role in making  a scone "perfect"


Lemon Poppy-Seed Apricot Scones
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen's posting of Cream Scones from America's Test Kitchen
2 c. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp chilled, unsalted butter cut into cubes
1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
zest of one lemon
1 c. heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place dry ingredients into food processor (or bowl to whisk) and combine well. Either pulse (about 12-1 second pulses), or cut in butter, until it looks like coarse meal. Stir in your flavor additions until just combined.  If using a processor, transfer mix to a large bowl. Stir in cream until the dough forms (mine needed a little drizzle of milk, the dough should be somewhat sticky). Turn out the dough, and any flour bits onto the counter. Knead the dough until it all comes together into a rough ball, do not knead longer than 10 seconds. Pat the dough into an eight-inch round, cut the circle into 6 triangles. You could also pat it into a rectangle and cut squares or circles, but I particularly like triangle shaped food. If you like, brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with turbindo sugar. Place scones on parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned on top and cooked all the way through. Cool for about 10 min. before eating. Remember, they are delicious with orange cream.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Garden Treats

I was well fed this weekend. Starting with nettle ravioli at Cafe flora for a one year celebration, to a tiered tower of tea treats followed with Chartreuse-Champagne at the Sorrento hotel with fellow bridesmaids. That was just the beginning.

This bread was baked - Pain a l'Ancienne from Peter Reinhart

















Ginger was chopped for cookies


















I waited in line at the market for some of the season's first asparagus - it was worth while











Sunday, Seattle was at it's best with clear skies and seventy degree weather. After running around Green Lake, with lots of scantily clad Seattlites, I came home to get my vegetable garden started. Before tasty veggies could be put in the ground, I had a few hours of weeding to do. One purple flower in particular had grown a vast underground network of roots and bulbs all over the garden bed that needed clearing. After procuring a sunburn on my shoulders, and my arm muscles had stopped working, I took a little lunch break.


I like to have sandwiches for lunch like most people, especially when the bread is a cookie and the filling is ice cream. The ice cream sandwiches I made were so mildly sweet, they were almost savory enough to be considered appropriate for a meal. When I went to the market early for asparagus, there were two varieties of rhubarb available. An heirloom Victoria variety, greener and tangier, and the more common Canadian Red. I picked a few of each to make the ice cream with.

I was inspired by Not Without Salt's post last week with rhubarb ice cream, and I decided to make my own version. On a side note, check out the link to classes on her blog. I attended a Meriengues & Curds class taught by her last week, and I learned some new techniques and ate some wonderful desserts.

I smooshed the ice-cream between ginger-oat cookies, and it was the perfect reward for a long day in the garden. It also wet my appetite so I was more than ready for the trip my mouth would take to New Orleans at my dinner club that night (fried okra, so good!).


Rhubarb Ice Cream
1 c. whole milk
2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. honey
1-2 short branches of rosemary (Or 3 Tbsp dried)
1 vanilla bean
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in saucepan on medium heat, stirring to combine. After the mixture heats all the way through and begins to bubble on the sides, but not boil, take off of heat. Cover and let sit for about an hour. Put into the fridge to chill while you begin to make the rhubarb component.

3 c. chopped rhubarb
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
splash of bitters (optional)

Combine all in a saucepan at medium heat. Cover, and let the mixture heat up and boil for a few minutes. Take the lid off, stir, and let the mixture cook down a bit. After cooking for about 15 minutes, and the rhubarb has completely softened and is no longer in pieces, take off of heat. Put into fridge to chill completely.

After both the cream and rhubarb mixtures have chilled completely, take out of fridge. Strain the cream mixture into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the rhubarb mixture until fully incorporated. Freeze in your ice cream maker as instructed.

Ginger-Oat Cookies
1/2 c. unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 c. Optimum vegetable shortening
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses
1 c. toasted oats (I put them in a cake pan in the oven for about 15 min. until golden)
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 c chopped crystallized ginger

In medium mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients and set aside. In a mixer, cream together the butter and shortening. Add the brown sugar and cream until fluffy. Mix in the molasses, then the egg and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients until they are just combined. Add the crystallized ginger until just combined. Put the dough in a covered bowl and chill in the fridge overnight.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Make Friends With Figs



























This past weekend I ventured to the land of hills and fog. The bay area has played quite a role in my upbringing and I always welcome a visit. I was born outside the east bay, and I still have extended family living in the area.

I have one particular memory of visiting my Aunt & Uncle in Oakland when I was about thirteen. At the time I had short spiky hair, with spots of blue. I was at my peak level of Green Day fandom, so I was quite excited to make a stop at Amoeba records in Berkeley and imagine the flourishing punk scene I was too young to participate in. On this same visit, my Uncle took us to the ice cream shop Fenton's that was near his home. When I walked in I saw they had the flavor Butter Brickle and I was ecstatic. At this same age, I was also a repeat-renter of the movie The Ice Cream Man starring Clint Howard. It was B-movie horror at its worst. A deranged ice cream man who makes decapitated head waffle cone sundaes and stores dead bodies in his freezer truck. Butter Brickle was his favorite flavor, and I think a weakness of sorts that played into the plot. Anyway, goofy thirteen year-old me devoured a tall sundae glass of Butter Brickle covered in some of the best caramel sauce I have ever had (seriously, my Mom would remember it too if I asked her).

I flew down south recently to attend a wedding within my boyfriend's family. It was for one of his favorite aunts (his Mom's little sister), and it was my first time meeting anyone on his Mom's side. The high points of the trip - staying in a classic San Francisco home looking straight at Buena Vista Park, 360 degree views of the city from the top of the De Young Museum Tower, watching a lovely wedding ceremony in Shakespeare's Garden, and more wonderful food, drink, and family than I could have ever expected.

Unfortunately there were a few low points too, including monsoon rains (I swear the whole bay had been scooped up and dumped back on the city) and some of the worst flight delays I have ever experienced. When the day was still young and I had no clue what was to come, I suggested (tricked?) my boyfriend and I brave the monsoon to visit Tartine in the Mission district. What started out as a carefree rainy trip for pastries turned into a very grouchy boyfriend and the two of us sulking underneath a convenience store awning wondering what to do with ourselves, or if our socks would ever be dry again. But what was a bad day in the past makes for a funny story to tell friends, right?

Of course what I remember most was the time at the wedding getting to know so many of my boyfriend's relatives. I was welcomed with smiles and treated to a whirlwind trip. Although, I also remember the dessert buffet and the Tartine Gougere fairly well.

I felt I couldn't go down there empty handed, so I brought a small gesture of thanks. I was inspired by a fig and almond bread in
The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Simple flavors that stand out on their own, but are not too overwhelming. I took the flavor combination and turned it into a toasty, warm, and almost shortbread style cookie. I wanted it to look rustic, but composed. I also made each cookie especially large, as each cookie was given as a gift wrapped up in tissue paper and twine all on it's own.

Figgy Cookies

3/4 c flour

1 c toasted sliced almonds

1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt
1 stick softened unsalted butter

3/4 c chopped dried figs

whole dried figs

3 Tbsp Turbindo sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Blend flour and 3/4 c. almonds in food processor until almonds have been finely chopped, but don't turn them to flour. Add the sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt. Pulse until it combines and becomes a dough. Add the chopped dried figs, but only pulse one or two times until they are mixed in. Chill dough in fridge for an hour, or in the freezer for 30 min. While the dough is chilling, crush the remaining almonds slightly and combine with turbindo sugar in a cake pan. Once the dough is chilled, roll into balls. I made four very large cookies, 6 would make for a nice sized cookie, but you could make as many as 12. Roll each ball until coated in the almond-sugar mixture. Place on a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet. Make a large dimple in the middle of the ball, or if you are making smaller cookies only make a small indent. If you are making larger sized ones (4-6 total) place a whole dried fig, stem side up in the dimple. If you are making smaller cookies, I would slice the dried figs width-wise to make circles and place those in the center of the cookie. Bake in the oven 25-30 minutes. I baked mine until they were golden brown, but they were very soft to the touch. Take out to cool, and they will firm up.

Marshmallow Memories



This last weekend I helped my good friend celebrate the end to her time as a bachelorette. She and I met in the dorms at college, lived together throughout our time at school and I am now serving as a bridesmaid in her upcoming wedding.This Saturday night there was Thai food delivered to a Walrus themed hotel room, more cocktail ingredients present than guests, short skirts, loud laughs, plenty of dancing, and marshmallows.

One of my favorite things about my good friend is her sometimes very strange taste in foods. One of her most adored treats is a marshmallow– in any form. Our Sophomore year of college we lived together in a slightly beat up craftsman style house, although I might prefer to remember it as having character. It was college living. Our other roommate had plastered the walls with posters; Mr.Winkle hung beside Scarface. There was a now somewhat regrettable " Seventies Room" complete with a fleet of troll dolls to watch over the orange shag carpet. We could find treasures such as a quesadilla maker in the vast depths of our basement (this was culinary gold at the time). My friend and I lived in the attic of the house in rooms with slanted ceilings, we could only stand up straight in the middle of the room. I am only setting the scene for the many stories that I have from living in that creaky, cold house. That year I bought my dear friend a five-pound bag of mini marshmallows for her birthday. As you might imagine this over-sized bag of marshmallows felt right at home with us. Over a period of time, and not as long as you might think, they were devoured.

A celebration in honor of a marshmallow lover, demands a marshmallow treat (even though earlier this week while watching ODDSAC I silently told myself I probably shouldn’t eat toasted marshmallows agai
n). I decided to attempt the toasted marshmallow frosting made popular by Trophy Cupcakes here in Seattle. I wanted to have the marshmallow fluff top a cupcake that felt like warm sunshine (which we are so desperately lacking right now!). Peach pie cupcakes sounded like they would fit just that. I broke into my peaches I canned last summer, but I think any fresh fruit would do well in these cupcakes. I also tried to recreate the “crust” that Trophy makes in the summertime for their pie-themed cakes.

Peach-Pie Marshmallow Cupcakes

Makes 12 Cupcakes
For the marshmallow topping I followed the recipe by Jennifer Shea of Trophy cupcakes featured here. The recipe worked out very well, and I used a broiler to toast the topping since I don’t have a flame-torch. One note of advice, after a day or two the topping will loose its fluff and become more like a meringue and less like a marshmallow so I would ideally serve them the day they were made.

Cupcake
3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 c. Sugar
1/3 c. melted butter
pinch of salt

1/2 c. butter at room temperature

2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. buttermilk
2 c. peaches (or other fruit) diced into small pieces





Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put cupcake liners in a cupcake tin. For crust, combine all crust ingredients in a bowl until combine. Take about 1-2 Tbsp and roll into a ball and place in the cupcake liner. If you have a glass that fits, flatten the ball to fill the liner, or you could use your fingers to flatten them and set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking power, and salt. Whisk to evenly distribute ingredients. In a stand-up mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter for the cupcakes. Add sugar and cream with butter until light and fluffy. Add each egg, one at a time, and then add vanilla. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, with 3 separate additions each. Do not over mix. Fold in fruit, being careful not to crush the pieces. Fill each cupcake mold on top of the crust layer all the way to the top of the liner. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool before piping marshmallow frosting on in a swirl. I put them under the broiler on the top oven rack for thirty seconds to toast the topping.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring brings dessert with it




Last weekend I found the first rhubarb and green garlic of spring. Only one farm at the market had them both, and I took them gladly took them home with me. I had taken up the duty to make a dessert the next day for Easter at my parent's house, and I had a great idea in mind for my market purchase.

In my family, everyone's dessert tastes are a little bit different ranging from skittles to oatmeal cookies. At Easter dinner my Dad even brought up how much he loved it when his Mom would make him Mock Apple Pie. Only my Mom knew what that actually meant, and the rest of us were confused and slightly afraid as the recipe was slowly described to us.

Soon after Ritz crackers arrived in grocery stores in the 1930's, they began publishing a recipe for "Mock Apple Pie" on the box. This recipe has you make a pastry crust, crumble it full of Ritz crackers, pour a lemon-cinnamon-sugar syrup on top of it, place another pastry crust over top and bake. Apparently the concoction tastes like an apple pie, my Dad raved about it, I was fairly suspicious.

Anyhow, the dessert I did make pleased everyone, even my Dad. I wanted to combine a few different flavors: the first spring rhubarb, cheesecake to please, and rich brown butter. I think it turned out delicious, I like to make cheesecake in a thin tart, its heaviness isn't overwhelming. The brown butter was much more subtle than I had hoped, and the next time I would pipe very thick lines of it in the tart.

Crust
I used the recipe for a sweet cookie tart crust from Rose Levy Beranbaum's
Pie and Pastry Bible. Any standard recipe will work that you like to use. My tart pan with a removable bottom is 10 x 1 inch.

Compote
1.5 c. chopped rhubarb
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. orange liquor
zest of one orange
juice of one orange

Combine all compote ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat. Heat until bubbling, and then slightly lower the temperature. Stir occasionally until the mixture reduces to a jam-like consistency - about 15 minutes. Take off of heat an set aside.

Brown Butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg
4 Tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp butter

In a saucepan, melt butter on low-medium heat. Watch the butter after it has melted completely until it takes on a nutty brown aroma and color - there may be solids present. Take off heat, do not burn. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, egg, vanilla, and salt. Mix in the flour. After the browned butter has slightly cooled, whisk into the egg mixture and set aside.

Cheesecake Filling
4 oz. cream cheese softened
2 eggs
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. creme fraiche *(I made my creme fraiche at home, and it was very soft. If you buy yours and it is very solid replace half of the amount with heavy cream)

In a food processor, electric mixer, or medium mixing bowl cream together the cream cheese and sugar until creamy and well combined. Mix in the eggs and vanilla well. Blend in the creme fraiche until the mixture is uniform.

Assembly
Pour the cheesecake filling into the cooled tart crust. On top of the cheesecake filling, pipe or spoon the compote into 2-3 circles tracing the outline of the tart crust, becoming smaller in diameter the closer to the center of the tart you come. Do the same with the brown butter filling, making sure to make very thick circles. If desired, run a toothpick from the outer edge of the crust to the center at various places along the crust edge to blend the different fillings slightly. Carefully place the filled tart in the oven, and bake 20-30 minutes until the filling has puffed and turned a golden color. Cool on a rack, and the filling will settle into the crust. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Breakfast Cake




So right there is a breakfast cake. Actually about half of a breakfast cake (it has been tempting me with wafts of fresh lemon zest). It came about as a need to satisfy my morning hunger for the week, and to satisfy my need to create a few evenings ago.

The ingredients were all present in various places stashed in my kitchen; hence the slightly strange conglomeration of components familiar to a cake, but somewhat different than usual. I had egg whites set aside from ice cream making this weekend, a cube of cream cheese left-over from a batch of frosting, buttermilk patiently waiting to be finished, and a stash of forgotten canned peaches from the summer begging to have their tasty golden flesh released from an oh-so simple syrup.

This breakfast cake has helped me begin my mornings this week with a mug of toasty coffee, and it will now be the substance to fuel the first post of my blog, Dirty Apron. I hope this space will allow all of the various disconnected thoughts, ideas, and tastes present in my life to come together into something as enticing as this cake.

Here now is the recipe for my breakfast cake, it is easily adapted to fit what you might have hiding in your kitchen at the moment.


Breakfast Cake
If you don't have spare egg whites, just separate whole eggs and use the yolks in place of the cream cheese. Also, if you don't have buttermilk you can add a spoon full of lemon juice to milk and let it sit for 10 min. I used fresh thyme, but you could add another herb you like or omit it.

1 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 1/2 c. Unbleached All-purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 c. Sugar
1 c. Pureed Canned Peaches (or pears, or applesauce)
1 c. Buttermilk
4 Tbsp Cream Cheese - softened
1 tsp Vanilla
4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3-4 Egg Whites + 1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme
Zest of one small lemon

Sliced Almonds
Turbindo Sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a bundt pan evenly. Sprinkle the pan lightly with turbindo sugar on all sides, sprinkle the bottom of the pan with slivered almonds. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl an set aside. In a small pan, melt the butter on low medium heat. Carefully watch the butter melting and keep it on heat until it develops a nutty brown color and smell. As soon as you see the color turn a nut brown and begin to turn darker (there might be solids visible) take the butter off of the heat and add thyme or any other herb of your choice. Let the butter cool. In a stand-up mixer with a whisk, mix egg whites on medium speed. As they become foamy, add the 1 Tbsp sugar. Continue to whisk egg whites until they form stiff peaks, set aside. In a large bowl combine the peach puree, buttermilk, vanilla, lemon zest, sugar, and softened cream cheese. Whisk together well until the cream cheese and all ingredients are well combined. Whisk in butter and olive oil. Fold in dry ingredients in batches just until everything is combined. Begin to fold in egg whites in batches until just combined. Pour batter into the bundt pan and put into oven on center rack. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Loosen cake around the edges with a knife and turn out onto a cooling rack.

If I were to make this again, I would coat the pan with a bit more turbindo sugar. That combined with the slivered almonds creates a fantastic caramelized crunch that contrasts in a most delicious way with the fluffy, soft interior of the cake.