Laberinto

Lemon and Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape one day,
and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going,
but you never do it.
You just use the future to escape the present.

—John Green, Looking for Alaska

Lemon and Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

I think about the labyrinth of the present, of my mind in its current state, constantly. Impossible to escape, despite all attempts to invent oneself out of now and into another time. I do it all the time.
I look backwards, wistfully, elevating everything into bliss and wiping away traces of messy, imperfect reality.
The best days are always behind me.
I look forward, greedily, skimming over the years until I land on a future fantasia, where the disordered threads of my life have converged and become a disciplined ensemble.
The tidiest days are always ahead of me.

Living in the moment is something I often declare as a goal. It is an intention I have set, deliberately, at the outset of most inflection points during my time on Earth. I tell myself I will:

Spend more time with myself as I am right at this instant, and learn to feel comfortable in that state, one of constant evolution, yes, but also one of acceptance. Embrace all my past and future selves, real or invented or embellished, as they fold up into an origami soul.

Spend more time with real, live people. Friends, family, lovers. Admire them more for all their flaws. Hold their hands, feel their skin, covet their smiles and tears, kiss faces and foreheads, and look at them. Really look: even the harshest stare is softened into a misty gaze when directed at those about whom you truly care. Waste more time with them. Let pointless moments collect like droplets, with the full knowledge that the heart and mind can never overflow with happy, vague, little memories like these.

Most importantly, spend less time in raptured jealousy on the internet, poring over curated existences. This is the most difficult aspect of appreciating the moment, because it’s what sucks me out of the present most often. To divorce myself from technology, even for a few hours a day, is nearly unfeasible. Anything less than ultimate determination, and I find myself scrolling, absorbed but not absorbing. And without this final aspect, the first two fail with certainty.

I will, I will, I will. I promise. I try. I fail. Repeat.

Lemon and Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

All this begets a larger question:
How do you determine your self worth? How do you self-actualize and self-conceptualize in a super-saturated, 4K world, sodden with content and people and their highlight reels?
Is it such a wonder that so many struggle with it?

You hear it over and over again, that connecting with people is different now, in our online world. We simultaneously feel present in thousands of people’s lives, and can share intimate details of our own, from the comfort of our bedroom, but spend little time—if that—physically with others.
When we do, we are all nose-to-screen.
Pantone has it wrong. The color zeitgeist of this entire generation won’t change year to year, and it isn’t Ultra Violet or Radiant Orchid. It’s a pulsating, pale blue, the glowing whisper of an LCD.
It already has a Pantone-like name: Liquid Crystal, weakly illuminating—and connecting—the entire world.

Lemon and Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

If finding yourself among the superabundance of the internet is difficult, sourcing inspiration that allows you to be individually creative without being iterative can feel nigh impossible.
What hasn’t been created before? Where is your voice? And what is your signature?

Is it worth it to expend so much energy fighting algorithms? Competing to carve out your niche while millions do the same is invariably exhausting, but laughably easy to obsess over.
Most of us accept likes, clicks, comments as engagement. We chase it. Is there a better way for us creators to measure how much we make people feel? Is that not what we’re supposed to care about when we create?
I have to actively remind myself that it doesn’t matter whether people like my art or not. But I have the advantage of separation; this blog is an outlet, not an occupation. I am lucky. I sympathize with and admire those who have to learn how to exploit social media algorithms, or avoid their cold, ruthless chopping blocks.

Today, I am inspired by Serena Garcia Dalla Venezia, a Chilean artist who creates beautiful sculptures composed of tiny, undulating balls of fabric. Her work is mesmerizing, organic, and utterly unique.
One of the most popular cake artists on Instagram, Tortik Annushka, creates some cakes inspired by Serena that just blow my mind.
The mythical algorithm delivered this inspiration to me, and I couldn’t help but accept it and try to recreate it in my own kitchen, derivative or not.

Lemon and Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

So I’m sharing, today, this cake. It has my signature, but isn’t my invention.
It isn’t perfect, but I won’t let comparison, that thief of joy, in for even a minute.
Anyways, she’s not too special in flavor or make, in all honesty. A sturdy, trustworthy cake, with a time-tested frosting.
But gussy this simple almond and lemon cake, with a light crumb and subtle flavor, enrobed in a lemon Italian meringue buttercream, with pearls of marzipan covered in gold leaf, and suddenly it is not only striking, but a piece of art.

I hope we can all continue to be inspired, rather than overwhelmed, by the digital world. There’s so much out there to explore—more than ever before—as long as we’re careful not to lose ourselves.

Lemon and Almond Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Lemon and Almond Cake
makes 1 2×6-inch layer cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
60 grams (1/2 cup) flour
25 grams (1/4 cup) almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
zest of 1 lemon
60 grams (1/4 cup) yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream
1 egg
1 egg yolk (save the white for the frosting)
40 grams (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) neutral-flavored oil

for the frosting:
2 egg whites
200 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
15 grams (1 tablespoon) lemon or lime juice
15 grams (1 tablespoon) water
1/4 teaspoon salt
212 grams (1/2 cup, 2 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces

to decorate:
marzipan
gel food coloring
gold leaf

directions:
Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease two 6-inch rounds.
Whisk the flours, baking powder, and salt together.
Rub the lemon zest and sugar in a bowl with your fingers until it becomes fragrant; add to the flour mixture. Add the yogurt, eggs, and oil, and mix together.
Bake for 22-27 minutes, or until the cake springs back to the touch and is golden.

Make the frosting: place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Place sugar, salt, citrus juice, and water in a small pot.
Begin to heat the sugar mixture on high as you whip the whites on medium speed.
When the syrup reaches 245 degrees F, your egg whites should be at firm soft peaks (almost hard peaks, but not dry).
Drizzle the syrup into the meringue with the mixer running; whip on high until cooled to body temperature.
Beat in butter one or two tablespoons at a time.
Beat buttercream on high speed until thick, glossy, and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
If buttercream is too soft, refrigerate for 20 minutes.

To assemble the cake, stack layers with 1/3-1/2 cup frosting between them.
Use about 1 cup of frosting to crumb coat and level out the cake; freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Finish the cake with the remaining frosting as desired, leveling out as best you can.

To decorate: divide marzipan into a few pieces.
Knead each piece with a varying amount of food coloring.
To achieve greys and purply-blues, I used white food coloring (titanium dioxide), black food coloring, and a little bit of purple.
Roll into different sized balls.
Cover some with gold leaf, using a brush or your fingers (careful not to breathe too hard!).
Smush the marzipan together into a cohesive shape, a tiny bit taller than your cake (measure it!).
You can use a little bit of water to make sure that the sculpture is stuck together.
Place it on the cake, then use any extra balls you have to decorate the top of the cake and add embellishments around the main part of the sculpture.

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Suprème

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Cosine, secant, tangent, sine,
Three point one four one five nine,
Square root, cube root, BTU,
Sequence, series, limits too. Rah.

—Unofficial UChicago football cheer

(See here for a fantastically written article about a very nerdy tradition at my school, which is the nerdiest of the nerdy)

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

(Themistocles, Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War,
X squared, Y squared, H2SO4.
Who for? What for? Who we gonna yell for?
Go, Maroons.

Logarithm, biorhythm, entropy, kinetics,
MPC, GNP, bioenergetics!
Maximize and integrate, titrate and equilibrate—
Go, Maroons.)

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy Pi Day!
3.14, and I’m posting this at 1:59 so we get 3.14159.
(Last year, 3/14/15, at 9:26:53, the date was 10 digits of Pi!)

Pretty much every baking/food blogger is sharing a pie today.  It’s only right, right?
Shamefully, I’ve never shared a pie on Pi day.
I haven’t shared many pies at all, truth be told.  Which is weird, because I really like making and eating pie.
My last pie was made at Thanksgiving, and it was this insane apple, poached pear, butterscotch, and cheddar cheese beaut.  It was even shared on Buzzfeed (woot!) but has since faded into the recesses of my mind/tastebuds/blog archives.

If you want real (and regularly scheduled) pie envy, go see Michelle, who has undertaken a pie a month for 2016. Color me inspired! Her pies are gorgeous and her photography of late has been b o m b.
High fives, Michelle! Keep being the most impressive, please and thank you!

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

The pie I’m sharing today is definitely worthy of reviving the pie portion of my site.
It’s a creamy, custardy lime pie, full of sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks in a crunchy, buttery, toasty graham cracker crust topped with brûléed suprèmes of white and ruby red grapefruit and a navel orange.

It’s mostly the classic key lime pie (less the key limes) from the back of the sweetened condensed milk can, with the addition of a non store-bought graham crust and a heap of torched, bittersweet citrus segments.
The creamy filling contrasts brilliantly with the slightly bitter, sour fruit and the sweet, wheat-y crust.
Key lime pie has always—and will always—be in my personal favorite top 3 pie flavors.

I dropped this off at N’s fraternity house, and it was demolished. According to one ~taste tester~, my good friend Colton, it was “unreal” and “like an addiction,” as in, none of them could stop eating it, even if they tried.
Not only does this make me very happy, but it’s also a good indication of how yummy this combination is!

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

One last note about this pie…
In spite of the title of this post, there is no need to suprème your fruit. Seriously.

Unless you’re thinking to yourself: “YES. this is what I went to culinary school for 2 years for!  My time to shine!” or
“what’s the big deal about suprèming? I do it every Sunday for my weekly goat cheese, blood orange, and arugula salad!”
then it’s probably not worth it.
Slice up your peeled fruits like this, or cut ’em like this.

If, like me, you’ve seen this technique done on T.V. but have never had any formal knife skill training and are still silly enough to want to try it, please buy extra citrus fruits.
Because it’s kind of a pain and you’ll probably mash a lot of segments along the way. I know I did.

No matter how the citrus is arranged on top of the pie, it will be delicious and beautiful.  Just a word of warning advice.

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie | La Pêche Fraîche

Brûléed Citrus and Lime Pie
makes 1 9-inch pie

ingredients:
300 grams (2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
112 grams (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter, melted
pinch salt
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar

for the filling and topping:
400 grams (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
135 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) lime juice (I used 2 limes and 1 lemon)
5 egg yolks

1 white grapefruit
1 ruby red grapefruit
1 navel orange
turbinado sugar, optional

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and ready a 9-inch pie dish.
Stir graham cracker crumbs, butter, salt, and sugar together until sandy and coarse.
Firmly press into pan using your fingers and a measuring cup.
Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, then remove and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, whisk the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks together vigorously until a smooth and homogenous mixture forms.
Pour into cooling pie crust and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool completely, at least 1 hour + some time in the fridge.
In the meantime, suprème your grapefruits and orange and arrange on a plate the way you want them.
When the pie is cool, lightly dry each slice of citrus with a paper towel and arrange on top of the pie.
Sprinkle some turbinado sugar on top (liberally) and brûlée with a blow torch.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.

FOTA

Chiaroscuro LARGE

CHIAROSCURO

blackberry caviar, coconut mousse, coconut crumb, coconut yolk, blackberry puree

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Hi!  To any newcomers, welcome to my blog, and welcome to my project for UChicago’s spring Festival of the Arts!

(I’ll post more explaining this post-presentation, for all you laypeople.)

////// Okay!  SO Hi!  Yes!  Presentation went off without a hitch. \\\\\\

I gave a 7-ish minute spiel about molecular gastronomy, this here blog, my weird love of reverse frozen spherification, and the three desserts you see here, which were funded by FOTA.

Hopefully I didn’t embarrass myself too badly (I definitely did).Chiaroscuro SMALL I

Contrast, made edible.  Fruity, creamy, crunchy, chewy.

Why are there so many seeds in blackberries?  Getting ultra-smooth puree is a pain in the ass.

Fragola LARGE

FRAGOLA

black pepper cheesecake, lemon curd, lemon sorbet, ginger black pepper sand, walnuts, candied lemons, creme fraiche, honey

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Early summer on a plate.  Spicy, sour, rich, fresh.

PSA: candied lemons are so incredibly addictive.  So is lemon curd.  OMg.

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For my live presentation, I made a deconstructed strawberry pie: strawberry yolk, yogurt cream, 5-spice milk sand.
Simple, delicious.

Tuolo LARGE

TUORLO

mango yolk, watermelon tartar, avocado mousse,  lime curd, creme fraiche, grapefruit

Tuolo SMALL I

A play on tuna tartare with raw egg yolk.  Tropical, crunchy, herb-y, tangy.
(There is nothing quite like cold watermelon on a hot day, amirite?!)

Tuolo SMALL II

Happy to provide any of the recipes pictured for my fellow molecular nuts!

Blink

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Yonder see the morning blink:
The sun is up, and up must I,
To wash and dress and eat and drink
And look at things and talk and think
And work, and God knows why.

Oh often have I washed and dressed
And what’s to show for all my pain?
Let me lie abed and rest:
Ten thousand times I’ve done my best
And all’s to do again.

–A.E. Housman

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Hi friends!  This is a quick update/reassurance for today.
I’ve got a few great things coming your way, they just need extra time, work, and love, all of which are in short short supply right now.  Things are a little hectic/crazy/busy in my life at the moment, but it will all settle down shortly.
One of these days, I’ll get the chance to sleep for a full 8 hours.  One of these days.

For now, here is the most delicious pound cake I have ever tasted in my entire life.

Buttery, soft, tender pound cake with piles of citrus zest–lime, lemon, and orange– is brushed with a honey lime glaze and topped with a decadent vanilla honey cream icing.

The edges are ever so slightly crispy and crunchy, thanks to the unique shape and surface area of a bundt pan, and all these exterior nooks and crannies are saturated with salty-sweet honey glaze and icing; the interior is moist with delicate citrus flavor and pure buttery texture heaven.

The bright citrus zests add to the gorgeous yellow color– just like the daffodils that have cheerily sprung up around campus!

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Twice-Glazed Citrus Honey Pound Cake
cake portion adapted from Bon Appétit

ingredients:
for the cake:
1 cup (16 tablespoons) butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
zest from 2 lemons
zest from 2 oranges
zest from 1 lime
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

for the lime glaze:
zest from 1 lime
juice from 1 lime
juice from 1 lemon
pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 cups powdered sugar, as needed

for the vanilla honey cream icing:
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
big pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, as needed

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan very well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the butter and salt.
Beat for 4 minutes, until softened and very fluffy.
Scrape the bowl and add the sugar and citrus zests, stirring slowly at first, then increasing the speed up to high; beat for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the eggs; beat for 3 more minutes.
Stir the milk and apple cider vinegar together; stir the flour and baking powder together in another bowl.
At the same time, going very slowly, add the milk and flour mixtures, alternating if need be but largely adding them simultaneously to the egg mixture with the mixer running.
Once all the flour and milk has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for a minute longer to ensure homogeneity.
Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make your glazes: whisk the ingredients for each glaze together in separate bowls until no lumps remain.
Add 1 cup of powdered sugar first; if the glazes are still too runny, just add more powdered sugar.
When the cake comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a serving plate.
Cover the cake in as many layers of lime glaze as you can, then allow it to cool for 10 more minutes.
Whisk the vanilla honey icing together to ensure that it is pourable, then spread it over the top of the still-warm cake.
Icing will drip and melt down the sides of the cake.
Allow to cool completely, then slice and serve!

Waiting, Wishing

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“into a star splintered
silence
I reach
with hopeful fingers
into the light
of distant
mornings
captive in the
unbloomed
flower.”

Paul Matsumoto

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Here is my feeble attempt to feed my soul warmth, sunshine, and goodness while the cold continues to bring Chicago Chiberia to its sorely frozen knees, joints creaking and complaining on the way down.
While the cold continues to send me racing in search of a hot tea, a hot coffee, a hot salted soy mocha steamer, prepared slowly, lingered over, enjoyed, a hot drink in a cold cold room.
While the cold continues to keep me bundled up, wool socks, shearling lined boots, down vests, coats, giant woolen scarves, thick mittens, layers layers layers for survival.
While the cold continues to leach any pleasure I derive from the weak winter sun that has been shining more often, that has been teasing, teasing always, fickle and teasing.

It’s so fracking cold here, y’all.

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Yes.  It’s cold.  And I’ve been busier than ever, nonstop work nonstop studying nonstop demands to be alert awake alive enthusiastic, wishing no more than sleep and rest and relaxation.

School has been overwhelming, with one big assignment following on the heels of the last: midterms, papers, psets, reading.  Labs, responses, eating (?), sleeping (?).
Last weekend was crazy.  My dad was visiting (lovely), there were big social events (that’s a nice change), and I had a million and one academic demands on my plate (which has become a miserably constant equilibrium).

I survived, though.  I survived.  And then came the cold.
And then came the weekend of 8th/9th week, when course requests are due, final midterms are spoken about in hushed tones, the whisper of finals and final papers forms on the tongue.

School, man.  It never ends here at UChic.  It’s like we like it or something.  I dunno.  Don’t ask me.

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Planning my schedule=major stress.
Finishing up big assessments=major stress.
Trying to make sense of my major= major stress. (lol)

All of these are acting as the boot behind me, as the sweet, crunchy carrot of SPRING BREAK entices me forward, forward, forward.

I am going somewhere warm, damn it.
Forget Chiberia and this ridiculous winter.  It’s time for me to revel in Vitamin D and wear less than 4 layers of clothing at any one time.
Forget UChicago and this ridiculous winter quarter.  It’s time for me to sleep and nap and read a book on a beach.

Where, I don’t yet know.  Somewhere southron.

This cake allows me to focus on something other than tropical dreams, one bite at a time.
This cake is my tropical dreams, lush and rich and satisfying.

(Here, listen to this while you read this post.)

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This cake embodies all the sunny flavors for which I am so desperate.

The cake base is not a pound cake.  Rather, it’s a supremely light and fluffy cake, made sans butter, but oil for moisture and whipped eggs for lightness.  (I wish I had had coconut oil!  I was all out when I made the cake, but the coconut flavor still came through.)

A spot of creamy coconut milk, threads of lime zest, and chewy, finely shredded coconut are stirred into the batter.  Tangy lime syrup is poured over the hot cake, then it’s topped with swirls of cream cheese frosting.

I’ve never met a loaf cake with better texture than this one.  It’s got a firm bite, soft crumbs, and manages to hold together well while still maintaining plenty of moisture, thanks to the lime syrup.
Where the syrup pools, the cake turns into luscious soaked bites, full of flavor and fall-apart-tender in your mouth.

This cake is easy, pretty, and delicious.  It’s exciting and enticing, and conjures up feelings of sandy toes, warm sun, and tanned skin.  You should try it.

Lime in the coconut, baby.

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Lime and Coconut Soaked Cake
adapted from Ad Hoc at Home
makes 1 9×5 or 10×4 inch loaf cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
240 grams (2 cups) flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
zest from 3 limes
370 grams (1 2/3 cups) granulated sugar
240 mL (1 cup) coconut milk
180 grams (3/4 cup) canola oil, or coconut oil, melted but cool
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4-1 cup finely shredded coconut

for the lime soaking syrup:
120 mL (1/2 cup) lime juice
70 grams (2/3 cup) granulated sugar

for the cream cheese frosting:
60 grams (4 tablespoons) butter
170 grams (12 tablespoons) cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
30 mL (2 tablespoons) coconut milk
150 grams  (1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
70 grams (2/3 cup) nonfat powdered milk

directions:
Make the cake: line your loaf tin with parchment paper, then grease and flour the parchment.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk flour and baking powder together.
Place eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment with salt, lime zest, and sugar.
Whip on high speed for 5 minutes, until the mixture has tripled in size and is pale yellow.
Stir in the coconut milk, oil, and vanilla; when partially incorporated, place flour mixture on top and coconut on top of that and use gentle folding motions to fully homogenize the batter.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour on a baking sheet, checking for doneness at around 50 minutes.
A tester should come out with just a few crumbs.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup: place the lime juice and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil; allow to simmer for 3 minutes.
Make the frosting: whip butter on high speed until it is completely soft, about 5 minutes.
Add in the cream cheese and beat for at least 4 more minutes.
Add in the rest of the ingredients and slowly mix to combine; beat on high for a few minutes to ensure that everything is incorporated and prevent lumps.
Refrigerate until ready to use to allow it to set up.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, poke it with a skewer or thin chopstick all over, about halfway through the cake.
Pour the syrup all over the hot cake, and allow it to cool completely.
Frost the cooled cake with the chilled cream cheese frosting.
Serve in generous slices.

It’s Not Delivery

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It’s Delgiorno!

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That was an uncharacteristically long break from posting, y’all.

Sorry.  I brought pie.  (This is becoming a pattern… Remember when and why I made this peach pie?)

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This past week was craziness.  I slept very little, was very sick (I sounded like I had whooping cough…), had a midterm and a paper and not enough time or attention to sit and write a post.

I had time to bake, of course.

Yet again proving that it is words that elude me, not recipes or ideas.

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In other news:

I got a new mug (from Turtle Island Pottery, back home in Ithaca), which makes me miss my hometown dearly

I got new glasses from Warby Parker, which make me feel like a hipster

I woke up at 12 today

I received my first place plaque from that marathon that I ran that one time

I’ve rediscovered that I still have a problem with biting my lips when I’m stressed- anyone else have this?

Last night, I put my toothpaste on my toothbrush in the dark and got shaving cream all over my toothbrush.  I don’t know what’s worse- that it happened, or that I still brushed my teeth with it.  Shaving cream.  I brushed my teeth with shaving cream.

This list is nonsensical idk I’m sew tiyad.
Also I’m just realizing that I also made a list in that last post about pie… It probably made just as little sense.  Oh well.

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I’ve had the idea of decorating a pie with little cutout pie pieces instead of a lattice or top crust for a while, ever since seeing pretty maple leaves and polka dots topping pies.  When I got around to cutting out the little DGHs, though, I realized that it wasn’t feasible, because my letter cookie cutters are REALLY small.  So I changed angles and instead decorated the lattice with letters.

Why DGH?  Many of my friends who saw a picture of this pie on instagram thought it was a sorority (it’s not)… In reality, it’s the abbreviation (abbrev) for my house, Delgiorno.

Housing at uChic is broken up as such: we all live in residence halls (like dorms), and each of these is broken up into houses, which are like little communities.  Each house has a lounge and a kitchen, and we have house activities and competitions.
It’s really great; it made the transition to college much easier to have moved directly into a community.

Anyways, in a spurt of house pride, I made this pie.
It makes sense, actually, because the apples for it came from a house trip to go apple picking (which I missed due to a yoga workshop); my roomie brought me back tons of great apples!

In return, I promised her a slice of this apple-honey-lime pie.

While it is a twist on a classic, it doesn’t deviate too much- the main swap is lime juice where you’d usually see lemon, and the main addition is a few tablespoons of honey into the spice and brown-sugar spiked apple marinade, if you will.

Top it off with flaky, crisp, and sugar-strewn pastry, and you done got yourself a right nice pie.
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Lime and Honey Apple Pie

ingredients:

1 recipe of flaky buttermilk pastry (enough for a double or lattice crust) (recipe here)
2 pounds fresh apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
2 tablespoons honey
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch each cloves, nutmeg, anise, ginger, etc. (sub pumpkin pie spice blend)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar (adjust according to the ripeness and sweetness of your apples)
1/4 cup flour
big pinch sea salt
1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water
Sugar for sprinkling, if desired

directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Roll out the bottom crust and place in pan.
Toss thinly sliced apples with lime juice right after slicing.
Add spices, sugars, honey, and salt to the apples.
Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then drain off the excess liquid.
Meanwhile, roll out your top crust and prepare it either for a lattice or full top crust.
Place your (drained) apples in the bottom crust and top with the top crust (here’s a tutorial for lattice).
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F, or until the top has a dark golden color, then place aluminum foil over the pie and reduce the oven temperature to 350.
Bake until your home smells like heaven and the juices are burbling and thickened, about 1 hour.

Gadzooks!

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Hello! Welcome to my first post on my “new” blog!

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I’ve spent a bunch of time designing this new website- what do y’all think?

I think it’s pretty shmancy, and I’m glad to have my own domain!

You can still access any/all of my posts (yes, even the really old embarrassing ones, though the formatting of those is a bit wonky- it didn’t transfer smoothly) and you can search for any items/ click through the tag cloud down at the bottom of the page.

Things should be quicker and less difficult, and hopefully prettier around here!

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Not much else will change- I’m still going to be posting about yummy treats like these cupcakes.

These little guys make use of something that most people are drowning in this time of year- zucchini!

Instead of baking it into a bread, I made tender little cupcakes.   Zucchini bread tends to be dense, which doesn’t translate well into cakes.

Luckily, these are soft and light, with a tight crumb and slightly crispy exterior.

I topped them with a fluffy lime cream frosting, made with mascarpone cheese.

The recipe is quite easy- it’s a two bowl, no mixer, 10 minute prep kind of cake.

In addition, it only makes 6 perfect little cakes!  Lovely when you don’t want an army of cupcakes to decorate, or you need a quick, sweet fix.

Enjoy, and, again, welcome to the new site!

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Zucchini Cupcakes with Lime Cream frosting

makes 6

for the cupcakes:

adapted from Chow

ingredients:

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons AP flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3.5 ounces zucchini (about 1 small/medium squash), grated on a box grater (scant 1 cup grated)

directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 6 muffin tins with papers, or grease and flour them.

Whisk the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together.

In another bowl, whisk the oil, egg, sugars, and vanilla together.

Whisk the two mixtures together, then whisk or fold in the zucchini.

Portion the batter out into your muffin tins and bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool before frosting.

for the lime cream frosting:

ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter, softened

6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese (you can substitute cream cheese here)

zest of one lime

juice of 1/2 a lime

1/3 cup nonfat milk powder

1 2/3 cup powdered sugar

directions:

Beat the mascarpone and butter together until fluffy.

Add in the lime zest and juice and mix until combined.

Add in the milk powder and powdered sugar slowly, while beating.

Continue to beat until frosting is fluffy.

Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Make It Work

Watch out, because whether you like it or not, I’m sharing some shi stuff that I’m loving right now.
This post is peppered with links.  Click ’em!
Meow.
Reading Blood and Beauty, a fabulously intricate novel about the Borgia family in 15th century Italy, by Sarah Dunant.
This book is right up my alley. I love historical-fiction novels about European monarchies. (Speaking of which, I’ve just binge-watched the first season of the Tudors.)
Also reading Dash and Bella, a new-to-me blog that makes me laugh and cry and cry and laugh.
Seriously, I read every single post in the span of two days.
I cried three times and laughed the whole way through.
Phyllis is an amazingly personable writer who has a way of transporting her reader into her kitchen.
In other words, she is not a terrible writer.
Watching Pirate Radio, a movie set in 1960s Britain on none other than a pirate radio ship.
I’m actually writing this right after having finished this movie, so it’s still fresh in my mind.
My final thoughts- they did an awesome job with the music and the actors captured the very British and very raucous, racy mood perfectly.
Also watching the new season of Project Runway… Gosh how I love Tim Gunn.
I’ve been watching Project Runway with my dad since the second season.
It’s one of our shows, among the ranks of GoT, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Top Chef, Veep, etc.
Carry on!
Listening to lots of the Rolling Stones- I love rock n roll in the summer time. It makes me feel extra free and fun.
Also listeningthis song by Ellie Goulding. Love!
Making these tarts, for a little dinner party, filling them with luscious lime curd and deep dark chocolate ganache.
Also making ice creams and summer succotashes served with hot sauce and scrambled eggs, dreaming of making malasadas and hand pies and ice cream cakes. (I’ll back quite soon with some of these delights!)
Raspberry Tartlettes
makes 5 or 6 small tartlettes or 1 9-inch tart
for the pâte sucrée shells:
ingredients:
12 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups flour
2 medium egg yolks, or one large/extra-large
directions:
Cream the butter, salt, and sugar together on high for 5 minutes, until very fluffy and extremely pale.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the flour, mixing only until the mixture is starting to form large curds.
Add the egg yolks with the mixer running and mix until a cohesive dough comes together.
Press into tartlette molds or a 9 inch tart pan.
Prick all over with a fork, then freeze for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake the shells until they are golden and slightly tanned, 15-18 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
for the lime curd:
ingredients:
3/4 cup lime juice
scant 1 cup sugar
zest of 2 limes
pinch kosher salt
5 medium egg yolks, or 4 large/extra-large
8 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
directions:
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, rub the lime zest and sugar together until fragrant.
Add in the egg yolks, lime juice, and salt and whisk to combine.
Heat over medium-low heat until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 10 minutes.
The mixture should be thick enough to leave a trail when a spatula is dragged through.
Either transfer mixture to a blender or blend with an immersion blender.
Add in the butter chunks one at a time, blending to emulsify. (If you use a real blender, you can throw half of all the chunks in and just do it in two additions.)
Allow the curd to cool completely before using.
for the salted dark chocolate ganache:
ingredients:
3/4 cup dark chocolate, either chips or chunks, at least 70% cocoa
3 tablespoons heavy cream, or as needed
pinch sea salt
directions:
In a microwave or over a double boiler, melt the chocolate until it is 2/3 of the way melted. (In a microwave, nuke it in 25 second blasts, stirring between each.  You will probably need 3 blasts, but it depends on the wattage of your microwave.)
Stir in the heavy cream and sea salt and heat just a little more, to melt it 3/4 of the way.
(In a microwave, this will probably be a 15 second burst.)
Finally, stir the mixture very well until it becomes shiny and glossy.
Allow to cool to body temperature before using.
to assemble:
Fill each of the tartelette shells with a scant 1/2 cup of either mixture.
Smooth out with a small offset spatula or a butter knife.
Decorate with raspberries (you’ll need about 2 pints) and dust with powdered sugar.

Worth It

It’s rainy sunny zebra weather, as I called it when I was little.
Boy, I thought I was a clever little imp.
Either way, it is h-o-t.
And very humid.
(And damp.  Note the photos.)
The last thing I want to be doing in this kind of weather is cooking running to urgent care to get my finger mended.
Alas… While making this pie, that is exactly what I ended up having to do.
Was it worth it?
Definitely not.  But the pie is all kinds of awesome, so that’s at least a plus.
I love key lime pie.
It’s one of my favorite kinds of pie.  It’s up there with peach and apple and nutmeg-maple cream.  
(And crack.)
So, while meandering through the grocery store, when a bag of key limes caught my eye, I had to snatch them up.
 
Side note: it still amazes me how cheap produce gets in the summer.  
Ataulfo mangoes are 2/$5 in the winter.  
Now, they are piling up in giant mounds and being sold 5/$5.
Key limes are cheap, too.
I guess it’s just funny because I always think of winter as the citrus/tropical fruit season, but that’s only because nothing else is in season- it’s just a default!
Anyways, back to pie.
This pie is healthified- just a little.  
Instead of butter, there’s coconut oil (which gives a boost of flavor as well as health).
Instead of egg yolks, there’s neufchatel.
The graham crackers are homemade with 100% whole wheat flour.
But you know what?  You wouldn’t know it.
In fact, my family didn’t know it.  The pie was gone by the next day.  There are only 4 of us in the house.  It went quick.

This pie tastes better than many key lime pies and is so much easier without the baking of the interior.  It’s quick and has some health boosts to boot.  I’ll take it!
(And it’ll take my finger.)
 
P.S. A note about the coconut graham crackers- you could make them vegan by swapping golden syrup or agave for the honey.
Icebox Key Lime Pie
ingredients:
about 2/3 batch of graham crackers, recipe below
4 tablespoons coconut oil, liquid
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (I used fat-free)
6 ounces neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup key lime juice
zest of 3 key limes, optional
directions:
Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until they are crumbs.
Add in the coconut oil and pulse until the crumbs are all moistened.
Press into a 9-inch pie pan and chill while you prepare the filling.
Whip the sweetened condensed milk, the neufchatel, and the key lime juice together until they are homogeneous.
Stir in the zest.
Pour into your prepared crust and allow to chill in the fridge until set, about 3 hours.
 
Coconut Graham Crackers
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
ingredients:
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) white whole wheat flour (you could sub 2 cups AP and make the rest regular whole wheat)
1 cup (176 grams) brown sugar
1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (4 grams)
7 tablespoons (100 grams) coconut oil, solid but not hard
1/2 cup (171 grams) honey
2 tablespoons (27 grams) vanilla extract
directions:
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Cut the coconut oil into small chunks and add it into the mixture.
Once the mixture resembles coarse sand, add in the honey and vanilla extract and mix just until combined.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut it with a knife into rough squares (they don’t need to look even mildly good/accurate, since we’ll be grinding them up).
Poke each square with a fork and put onto baking sheets.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden and fragrant.
Let cool before using in any recipes.