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it’s true. i am, in fact, associated with poachers. but poachers of eggs, dear friends! pretty, lovely, fluffy eggs.
this past saturday and sunday, i had the fine privilege in working with the corktown community brunch. loving food, justice, cooking and eating, how could i help but get involved? i had heard that this was happening a month ago, but just missed the event by a day. this month, i scribbled it darkly in pencil (ticonderoga, the cadillac of all pencils, as my dad would say) to make sure i’d be free. and what a lovely time we had.
the menu angela conceived of this month was poached eggs or baked tofu, cauliflower hash, cornbread, sunflower sprouts (my friend carolyn’s, fresh!), sauerkraut (my friend blair’s, i think she called it pink… something… power? no. but its gingery kick was fantastic), and greg’s hot sauce. let’s just say the plate was quite beautiful.
old-fashioned blueberry cake. molasses marries blueberries in this unsweetened love affair. the texture: moist, delicate, heavy. the flavor: unexpected. the look of the cake, chocolaty and dense, misleads the senses. instead, the heavy tang of the molasses is undercut only by the pouches of sweet michigan blueberries pulled from their frozen slumber. i must admit, a solid half of my roommates disliked this cake because of such strong bitterness. this, of course, was pre-remedial treatment (pre-icing).
the day after baking this cake, i brought a large slice (nude, pure, untouched but by a dusting of powdered sugar) into work, to my friend patrick. now patrick is not the biggest fan of sweet, and so i consulted his expertise in the matters of this cake. and he liked it. as i somehow expected, he really enjoyed the tang, the bitter of this cake. but, what was i to do to offset the grandiose distaste witnessed by two of my roommates who called this creation bitter and unsatisfying? there was so much going for this cake. i mean, moisture is fantastic. together, we discussed ways to make it more appealing to the general populace. we decided pairing it with coffee or a porter would compliment the bitter while providing a sweet.
and then, i had it. but of course! a porter cream-cheese icing! and that just did the trick. the slight bitter and overall sweet joined the sharpness of the cake with a lovely balance.
part of the struggle here was my choice in molasses. i learned that blackstrap molasses is more of a health supplement than a baking ingredient. but, paired with the icing (and honestly, even without the icing but with an open mind), this cake’s a winner.
tangy molasses blueberry cake
(adapted from old fashioned blueberry cake)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour (half whole wheat pastry half all-purpose unbleached)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (used braggs)
5 tablespoons milk (skim, divided)
1/2 cup unsulphered molasses (used blackstrap, recommed a milder molasses for folks who aren’t fond of the bitter)
2 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter, barely melted
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (i had frozen berries from the summer)
1 teaspoon flour
powdered sugar or porter cream cheese icing to calm the bitter
1. preheat oven to 350. butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
2. in large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. in small bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar with 3 tablespoons of milk.
4. in separate bowl, whisk molasses with remaining 2 tablespoons of milk.
5. whisk apple cider vinegar mixture with molasses mixture and whisk in eggs.
6. pour wet ingredients in a well in the dry, incorporate until just mixed. stir in butter.
7. toss blueberries with remaining teaspoon of flour. fold into batter.
8. pour batter into cake pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with porter cream cheese icing, recipe below.
porter cream cheese icing
8 oz cream cheese
4 teaspoons porter beer
4 cups (roughly) powdered sugar
(i made a small batch of this as i had already eaten 1/2 the cake upon creating this recipe, adapting a classic cream cheese icing to include the porter)
whisk ingredients together until smooth. top the cake.
a couple of weekends ago, i had the lovely delight of traversing northwest, away from the gray dreariness of detroit and to the, well, gray dreariness of wausau, wisconsin. you may ask, where’s wausau? it is promptly in the middle of … er … everywhere. smack dab in northern-central region of the great dairy state. my parents’ happy home is snuggled into those wild, bear-filled, piney hills of wausau. as they moved there while i was in college, i must admit, i have no great attachment to the place. the things i really love there: my folks, my dog renny, runs on their intense hills (i guess that’s relative, intense hills compared to flat-as-a-board detroit), their delightful fine dining establishments (namely back when cafe, cafe le grand, and wright place), and the availability of new glarus beer (especially the spotted cow).
i really needed to go to the dentist. not that i was having any sort of mouth trouble… more like i wanted to get my pearly-whites checked while i still have dental insurance (smart move, right!?). so northwest i flew, leaving the mcnamara terminal with announcements for a flight to “warsaw, wi”. now, the place can be grim, but the images of WWII warsaw, poland that danced in my mind after such an announcement were hilarious and so sad at the same moment.
regardless, trips home are just so nice! i have no catching up to do with anyone (to my parents’ glee, i believe) and our time revolves around food. time, for me, always revolves around food, but there is something special and joyously celebratory about meal planning with my mom.
we ate many delights. but here is a winner: an easy nut mix. salty, sweet, and crunchy with pockets of bright red chewy loveliness. this was the perfect pre-winter run energizer for the badger-state olympic 5k that my dad and i had geared up for on sunday morning… only to discover, while waiting for my mom, that the run was the morning before. it had made the front page wausau daily herlad. HA! an instant meyer classic, no doubt.
warsaw trail mix
(from the milwaukee journal sentinel)
2 cups pepitas
1 cup almonds
3/4 cups sunflower seeds, raw
6 tablespoons grade b maple syrup
1 cup dried cherries or cranberries (or other dried fruit!)
1. preheat oven to 300. line two sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking sheets.
2. in a large bowl, evenly coat pepitas, almonds, and sunflower seeds with maple syrup. spread mixture in a single layer on baking sheets, season with salt to taste.
3. bake for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
4. mix in dried fruit, and enjoy! the recipe says to mix them in once the nuts and seeds have completely cooled– i like to incorporate them in right after the mixture leaves the oven. i think it plumpens the fruit (and lets the snacking begin early!)
well folks, it’s that time again. cupid’s wings are in hyperactive mode, sprinkling and sparkling love down all around. oh valentine’s day, dear saint valentine. my friend told me that valentine’s is a crossover celebration from an older, pagan ritual for fertility, and then emailed me about lupercalia (i admit, i created an image of a nude–save for the girdle of goatskin–sacrificing a goat and a dog in the cave where a she-wolf suckled the founders of rome and stopped there). needless to say, valentine’s day is a mixed bag for me. but OH the food it inspires!
every valentine’s day, i scour recipes and menus for romance on epicurious, imagining how i’ll treat my love to an intensely passionate meal. rich and reeking of decadence and amor. and then, smiling at myself, i snap back to reality, standing in the kitchen alone. and in this moment, i feel like it’s always sunny in philadelphia’s pathetic girl 43. quickly, to recover from such seesawing emotions, i turn on nantes and forget about all my woes, breaking it down like i know i can, and begin to chop some onions.
in loving honor of valentines day 2010, i bring you smokey love in the kitchen. my take (improVISE!) on pinto-bean mole chili. my years of valentine’s day research has taught me the simple things about a solidly romantic spread: aphrodisiacs. dear friends, have no fear! this recipe’s chock-full. love apples (tomatoes, silly), peppers, chocolate, and garlic: pulse-quickening, sense-amplifying, love-makin’ delight. (clearly, my post-eating, solo kitchen dancing to this acts as a necessary outlet after a meal like this… ha!)
the mole flavor lights up the taste buds. quite enamoring: the smokey heat of the chipotle with the subtle earthiness of the cocoa and the sweet, acidy tomatoes. ooo la la!
happy saint valentine’s day weekend to you and yours.
smokey love in the kitchen
(adapted from pinto-bean mole chili linked above)
1/2 a chipotle pepper packed in adobo, deseed for less spice
1. preheat the oven to 400. butter a 9-in square or 7×11-in baking dish (or use a seasoned cast-iron skillet!)
2. whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cumin in a large bowl. in a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, brown sugar, and buttermilk. add in the chipotle pepper, diced.
4. make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients until just blended, do not overmix.
5. spread batter into pan. bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and a knife can be inserted in the center and comes out clean.
a quick follow up from yesterday’s revised red velvet: i give you hot pink beet icing. this icing makes me want to scream a madonna song while whipping a crimped side pony-tail around in circles– that kind of pink. just the color for the month of love. haha. due to the horrific lighting in my kitchen and dining room, and house, generally speaking, the photos capture a pink i imagine dolores umbridge wearing, gross… this pink is freaking bright. not sickly at all. delightfully neon.
hot pink beet icing
1/2 a good sized beet, roasted & peeled
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 c butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons milk
4 cups (roughly) powdered sugar
1. place all ingredients but powdered sugar in a food processor and puree until smooth.
2. transfer to a bowl, slowly whisk in powdered sugar until you reach desired consistency.
3. spread on beet chocolate cupcakes and/or cake, graham crackers, or eat spoonfuls of this spazzed pink goodness. delight! enjoy! pass it on!