Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

A Cake With An Unusual Ingredient

Simple and not-too sweet. A perfect pick-me-up with Chinese tea.

Simple and not-too sweet. A perfect pick-me-up with Chinese tea.

 

This cake is like the vanilla wafer of cookies.

Its appeal lies in its plainness, simplicity, and for me, its nostalgic taste.

Other kids may have grown up with snack cakes baked in a square or rectangular pan in the flavors of chocolate, vanilla or apple spice.

But I grew up eating this pale golden sponge cake that was steamed, and bought by my Mom at Chinatown bakeries. It usually came in tall squares or big wedges, its interior sporting tiny, airy bubbles. I could never resist squishing a corner of it between my fingers before taking a bite.

It was the polar opposite of a birthday cake. It was unadorned, plain-Jane, and hardly sweet at all. But unlike birthday cake, I didn’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy it, just a regular trip by my Mom to pick up other provisions in Chinatown. She brought it home in the familiar pink box tied with red twine that I tore into the moment she walked through the door.

I have eaten countless squares of that cake, yet I never knew it included a rather surprising ingredient: soy sauce.

all-under-heaven

That is, until I spotted a recipe for it in the new cookbook, “All Under Heaven” (Ten Speed Press and McSweeney’s), of which I received a review copy.

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A Farro Salad to Fall For

A lovely, lively grain salad to enjoy any time.

A lovely, lively grain salad to enjoy any time.

 

Grain salads and grain bowls are so very trending now.

Which is a wonderful development, given that we should all try to eat more grains because they are rich in nutrients. Plus, it doesn’t take a lot to get you full for quite awhile.

I love farro, an ancient wheat grain that cooks up delightfully chewy with a subtle toasted nutty flavor. It’s high in fiber, Vitamin B3 and zinc, too.

Normally, I cook it like risotto. But summer’s warm weather had me eyeing this recipe for “Farro Salad with Fennel, Radicchio, and Pistachios.”

It’s from the new cookbook, “One Pan, Two Plates: Vegetarian Suppers” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. The book is by cooking school teacher and caterer, Carla Snyder.

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Yossy Arefi’s Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake

You'll fall hard for this chocolate fig cake. I sure did.

You’ll fall hard for this chocolate fig cake. I sure did.

 

Imagine a deliriously, deep, rich chocolate-y cake that’s like the love child of a brownie and a molten lava cake.

It’s the stuff of dreams, isn’t it?

It surely is my fantasy come true, especially with its scattering of plump fresh figs on top. So much so that I can’t stop myself from digging a fork into it again and again in utter bliss.

That’s what “Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake” will do to you.

This incredible — and incredibly easy — cake is from the new cookbook, “Sweeter Off The Vine” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

SweeterOffTheVine

It’s from the super talented Yossy Arefi, a Brooklyn-based food photographer, food stylist and baker, who created the charmingly named blog, Apt. 2B Baking Co., where she chronicles her baking endeavors.

This is one of those must-have cookbooks. And I don’t say that lightly, not when my shelves are already groaning under the strain of too many cookbooks. But if you’re like me and love to bake, you will find yourself bookmarking practically every page because these are down-home treats with a personality all their own that are in no way an ordeal to make.

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Anya Fernald’s Jam Tartlets

Whether topped with jam or fresh fruit, these little tartlets are irresistible.

Whether topped with jam or fresh fruit, these little tartlets are irresistible.

 

Anya Fernald is probably best known for being the co-founder and CEO of Belcampo Meat Co., the world’s largest sustainable meat company, which owns everything from its animals to its own slaughterhouse to its own stores and restaurants where its meat is sold.

But leave it to me to get a review copy of her new cookbook “Home Cooked: Essential Recipes For A New Way To Cook” (Ten Speed Press), and to not make a meat-focused recipe, but a dessert one instead.

Because, yes, that’s how my sweet tooth rolls.

HomeCooked

That’s not to say the book isn’t filled with tantalizing carnivore dishes. Having had the pleasure of eating Belcampo’s fare on a couple of occasions, I can attest that you taste the impeccable quality of the meat from the get-go. Because Belcampo raises its own animals, it makes a point to use every part so that nothing goes to waste. The recipes reflect that in everything from “Seared Lamb Heart Crudo” to “Chicken Hearts Cooked in Brown Butter” to “Toma Cheese with Green Herbs” to “Pork & Pepperoncino Sausage.”

But when Fernald writes in the book that “Jam Tartlets” is one of her most requested recipes, how could I resist?

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Please Pass the Plum Streuselkuchen

Instead of greased parchment paper, you also can used greased foil, as I did, to bake this streuselkuchen.

Instead of greased parchment paper, you also can used greased foil, as I did, to bake this streuselkuchen.

 

Studies recommend we get at least four servings (about 1/2 cup each) of fruit a day.

I admit that once summer hits, I like to get part of that daily requirement in a fresh baked pastry.

I can’t help myself.

But you won’t, either, not when you try “Plum Streuselkuchen.”

Just what is a kuchen? It’s a coffeecake made with a yeast dough.

It’s kind of cake-like, and a little bread-like, in that the tender crumb is light, fluffy, and a smidge springier than a full-on cake.

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