Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer Plum Cake

I adapted this from JSCooks who posted the recipe on a great site, Food 52.

Lovely writer, lovely site, lovely cake. Trust.


1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
6 medium to large, firm-ripe plums, halved lengthwise and pitted
Lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream or crème fraîche, for serving (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third. Butter a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside. Grate the zest off of one lemon, and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a handheld mixer), beat together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light, about 5 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla, and reserved lemon zest until well combined. On low speed, add the flour mixture just until combined. (The batter will be thick.)

Spread half of the batter evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and top with half of the plum halves, cut side down. Dollop and spread the remaining batter over the plums. Arrange the remaining plum halves, cut side up, over the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar over the plums.

Bake until the cake is golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted near the center tests clean (assuming you haven’t hit a plum), 50 to 55 minutes, rotating the pan front to back a little past halfway through baking. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream, if desired.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

I adapted this gem from Epicurious. Of course, it came from Gourmet in 2002.

The original recipe calls for 5 cups flour, but I used 4 and it worked out great! Next time I might add herbs to the dough itself, and maybe some garlic. One helpful tidbit: I'm very impatient with rising dough, and I found it works really well to put any bowl with rising dough inside of a skillet (I use my cast-iron skillet) and put that whole contraption on top of my warm oven. Works like a charm!


1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons table salt (for dough mixture)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (for sprinkling on top)

Special equipment: a stand-mixer equipped with both a paddle and dough hook. However, if you don't have one, a hand-mixer should be fine. Also, those hands are made to knead dough! The dough hook is convenient, but not necessary.


Stir together 1 2/3 cups lukewarm (105 to 115°F) water and yeast in bowl of mixer and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 5 cups flour, 1/4 cup oil, and 3 teaspoons table salt and beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough forms. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead dough at high speed until soft, smooth, and sticky, 3 to 4 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour. Knead dough 1 minute (it will still be slightly sticky), then transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and turn dough to coat with oil. Let rise, covered with plastic wrap, at warm room temperature, until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Press dough evenly into a generously oiled 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking sheet. Let dough rise, covered completely with a moist kitchen towel, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Stir together rosemary and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Make shallow indentations all over dough with your fingertips, then brush with rosemary oil, letting it pool in indentations. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over focaccia and bake in middle of oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool on rack or plate, and enjoy!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Moules a la Mariniere

I snagged this classic from the ever-trusty-tome, The Gourmet Cookbook. Le sigh. I miss Gourmet.

When you get the mussels from your fish monger (or local Whole Foods!), drain them and chuck out any that are already open and do not close when you tap them. Place them in a bowl, cover with a wet towel, and put in the fridge till you're ready to cook them. Once you pull them out of the fridge, rinse thoroughly in the sink, pull off any "beards" that are left, and if any opened in the fridge, tap them and make sure they close before cooking.

The mussels will open fully while cooking, but toss out any (once cooked) that do not open. Those guys are duds.

Bon appetit!


3 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound mussels, scrubbed well and beard removed
1/2 cup white wine
2 talespoons chopped fresh-leaf parsley

(plus 1 loaf crusty french bread to soak up the juices)


Heat 2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat in a heavy pot or cast iron skillet until the foam subsides. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 4 minutes.

Add mussels and wine, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mussels open wide. This will take 4-6 minutes, but check frequently after 4 minutes and transfer them to a bowl as they open so they do not overcook. Discard any unopened mussels. Remove pot from heat and stir in remaining butter, parsley, and salt to taste. SErve sauce over mussels, with crusty bread.