Ruby Tuesday


Throw your dreams
into space

like a kite

and you do not know
what it will bring back,
a new life,
a new friend,
a new love,
a new country.

-Anaïs Nin


 La la lala link love time!

Appropriate, because it’s the time of year to share our love and appreciation far and wide.
It’s also the time of year for pink.
This batch of links features pink, flowers, and love songs.

Sounds like Valentine’s day to me already!

(Click on these links, and you do not know what they will bring back, a new life a new friend, a new love, a new country cake.)


Have you seen “Her”?  The one where Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with Scarlett Johansson’s computer voice?
I haven’t (yet), but their version of “The Moon Song” melts my heart.
I love ukeleles and I do not care how cliché they are.
I also don’t care if “Her” was featured on every female blogger’s most recent “link love” post.

Also listening: February Seven by The Avett Brothers.
They’re such amazing songwriters… This one is no exception.
A real feel-good song.  Give it a listen!
(If you aren’t familiar with their stuff, go listen to all of it.  Ahhh, the feels.)

More music: this song by Gregory Alan Isakov.  Heart-melting.  That is all.


Annie’s blood orange loaf cake was an instant hit with teh internetz, and holy jeebus I SEE WHY.
Look how beautifully pink it is!!
Pinned pinned pinned.
That last shot especially looks pulled straight from the pages of Donna Hay or Martha Stewart.
Put it on your to-make list, people.  It’s on mine.
(This fits the bill of my recent obsession with loaf cakes.)

Also, blood oranges: did you catch this gorgeous tart?
I love the styling of Kelsey’s entire blog, and this post in particular.
Capturing the marvel of a cook’s hands in action is particularly difficult, and these photos knocked my socks off.
That ring!

More blood oranges: these scones!  Rustic.  Healthy-ish.  Gorgeous.  And I’ll bet deeelicious.


 I recently bought this coconut water gelée blush, which has coconut water and argan oil for moisture.
My skin (especially here in Chiberia) is super prone to dryness, but maintaining a proper oil/dryness balance is critical and touchy.  Too much either way and my face is unhappy.
This stuff is dreamy and solves all those issues.
Perfectly hydrating, light and dewey color, applies easily (stipple brush) and has serious staying power.
Also, coconut.  For life.

Also luxuriating: I generally only wear Chanel Chance (Eau Fraîche), but I decided I wanted a lighter, airier fragrance to have on the side, so I bought a little bottle of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue.
It’s grapefruity and smells like summer and clean laundry.
Exactly what I was looking for.
I like smelling like a warm breeze of sunshiney goodness during these cold, dark times. (Ugh.)

More luxury: L’Occitane’s floral bomb of a hand cream (Délice des Fleurs, which I can’t find online, sorry), good for daytime light wear to ward off cracked, dry hands in the winter.
That being said, I swear by a thick slathering of Hand Shit (frankly obsessed with the complex honeysuckle sage scent) on my hands and feet before bed to really ensure softness.


So, these little cutie puddings you’ve been staring at.  Let’s chat about ’em.

grapefruit + cream + thyme + salty pistachios + buttery Ritz crunch

Possets are unbelievably easy: boil some cream and sugar, stir in citrus juice, and allow to set.
Here, their creamy, luscious texture is offset with crunchy, salty things, and the tang from the grapefruit is balanced with earthy thyme.

I decided to add a drop of red food coloring because I really, really, really wanted pink possets.
Feel free to leave it out; your possets will be a lovely cream color.

Don’t skimp on the whipped cream to finish!  Its a nice fluffy counterpart.
To eat, encourage people to do a little stirring to evenly distribute the crunchy bits before tucking in.
Getting a spoonful with a little bit of everything is truly transcendent.

These are simple, no-bake, and easily made ahead (as prep for a Valentine’s day dinner, perhaps!).
Also, pink.  I’m getting in the spirit.


Grapefruit Possets
makes 4 small bowls or cups
posset portion adapted from Donna Hay

for the possets:
2 cups heavy (double) cream
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (from 1/2 a grapefruit) grapefruit juice
drop of red food coloring, if desired

for the Ritz crumble:
1/2 sleeve Ritz crackers, slightly crushed (but not into fine crumbs)
3 tablespoons butter
big pinch salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon milk powder

to assemble:
chopped salted pistachios
thyme leaves
softly whipped cream

Make the possets: place the cream, sugar, and a drop of red food coloring (optional) into a small saucepot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent a skin from forming.
Boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in grapefruit juice; set aside for 5 minutes.
Ready 4 small (3/4 cup capacity) bowls or ramekins by placing on a baking sheet or in a baking pan that fits in your fridge.
After 5 minutes, pour the posset mixture into the ramekins and set in the fridge to set, at least 8 hours.
Make the ritz crunch: melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet.
Add the sugar, salt, milk powder, and Ritz crackers and stir until all the butter is absorbed and the seasonings are stuck to the crackers, about 5 minutes.
Continue to gently stir and toast, until the crunch becomes fragrant and begins to darken slightly; about 5 more minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool completely; can be stored in an airtight container for up to a day.
To finish the possets, garnish each with a sprig of thyme and a few chopped pistachios; top with ritz crunch and softly whipped (unsweetened) cream.



“There are many things we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.”

-Oscar Wilde


January is a fragile month.
The new year is only just hatching, stretching its wings, ruffling its feathers, blinking awake.
The sun is slowly becoming stronger, the days longer.

It is the month of resolutions, ever so delicate, easily crushed in their nascence.

We are all only dipping our toes in the cold, cold new waters.
Not a one of us knows what the year will bring—a terrifying and invigorating prospect.

How has it come to pass that the end of this first month of 2014 is nigh?
January has flown by in a blur, spinning me around in a whirled frenzy of snow and wind.
I shiver to think of what this year holds—whether it is borne from excitement or dread, I cannot say.
It could also be the ungodly cold here in Chicago.  I don’t know.


January is a month of citrus.
Though, I must admit, you cannot tell as much from my archives.

January 2013: puff pastry tutorial, coconut mochi, s’mores cake, conversation heart cookies, nutella-raspberry-brown butter crumb bars, maple-bacon and Vietnamese coffee doughnuts, gâteau des rois.  Only one had citrus…
January 2014: Peppermint-chocolate cookies, PB cupcakes, pear-cranberry-ginger crisps, earl grey cupcakes.  Ahem.  Still none.

This pavlova is my answer, my remedy, then, to the absent citrus in what I have just declared to be a month of citrus.
Specifically, lemon.
January is a lemon month.


Lemon.  Perky, bright, sunny.
Lemon.  Tart, balancing, acidic.
Lemon lemon lemon, I’d choose over chocolate any day.  (Freak.)

The first time I met a meyer lemon was 2006.
I received the January issue of Martha Stewart Living.
As I tore through it, my 11 year old self soaking in every hit of inspiration, I fell upon this cake.
I wanted to cry.  I wanted to make this cake so incredibly badly, but knew it was out of my reach.

This cake prominently featuring these mysterious meyer lemons was all I wanted.  And I couldn’t have it.
I begged my parents to let me make it.
They said, “um… no. We don’t need a 3 foot high, 3 tier meyer lemon cake.  Stop reading Martha Stewart, you little weirdo.

Everything was so beautiful and yellow and happy and lemony.
It was torture.
And what the hell was a meyer lemon, anyway?

Can you tell what a strange, disturbed child I was?  A Martha Stewart addict from a young age.
It explains so much, don’t it?


In a month where stagnation is banished, where the wheels are turning and the world is changing, lemon is ideal.
It’s fresh and lively, something which I appreciate when the fresh produce situation is somewhat abysmal.
Lemon never fails to awaken the palette.
It’s a clean flavor, and after all the heavy desserts of December, we can all use a flavor boost.

Pavlova.  Also perfectly suited for January, with its light airiness and minimal sweetness.
Good for resolution breaking, but not resolution destroying, ja feel?

It’s probably my favorite dessert.  Which is a big, big deal.
I wrote a sonnet inspired by rhubarb, which was featured in my first pavlova. (I have no words for the white balance in those photos.  Please accept my apologies.)
I had pavlova for my 18th birthday cake, a simple one-layer affair, covered in coconut/mascarpone fluff, passionfruit sauce, and tumbling raspberries.


And now, here we are.
This pavlova focuses on tartness, allowing the meyer lemons to shine.

A supremely light meringue base, crispy and crackling on the exterior, pillowy marshmallow on the inside, is
layered with barely sweetened Greek yogurt,
thick and luscious meyer lemon curd,
fresh bites of strawberries and raspberries, and
finished with a sprinkle of earthy, grounding thyme and
tart, chewy candied meyer lemons.

My pavlova cracked, pretty badly.  I ain’t stressed about it.
See, I thought it would be genius to layer the yogurt and curd onto the layers before stacking them.
What anybody with a shred of common sense would quickly see is that the meringue was too delicate and fragile to stand up to the thick sauces and promptly crrrrrraacked.  *shit shit shit*
Oops.  It’s okay.  Pavlovas crack and crumble; it’s part of their personality, their patina.
Get over it.


Once I was done photographing the cake, I realized how futile it would be to try to keep it on the cake pedestal.
It was already slip sliding around, as I didn’t secure it to the stand with a daub of lemon curd, as I should have.
Things were cracking, falling, toppling.
So, I plopped it into a bowl, shoved the leftover fruits on top, and called it a day.

The secret?  It tastes just as good smashed up, packed into a bowl, smashed to bits and spooned straight into your mouth as it does dressed up, stacked, and eaten from a proper plate.

And thank goodness for that.


Meyer Lemon, Berry, Thyme, and Yogurt Pavlova
meringue base from Donna Hay
lemon curd adapted from Use Real Butter
for the meringue base:
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons white vinegar

for the lemon curd:
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks, beaten
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup meyer lemon juice
zest of 2 meyer lemons

for the candied lemons:
2 meyer lemons, sliced very thinly
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

to assemble:
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 pint strawberries, 1/2 hulled and sliced, 1/2 whole
1 cup raspberries
Fresh thyme

Make the meringue base:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
Trace 2 6-inch circles (you could do 8- or 9-inch, but it won’t be as tall.) with pencil, then turn the paper over.
Begin to whip egg whites with a stand mixer.
When soft peaks are just starting to form, stream in the sugar very slowly, one tablespoon at a time, until the meringue has reached very stiff peaks.
Gently fold in the vinegar and cornstarch.
Spread the meringue out around the traced circles.
Bake for an hour and a half, then turn off the oven and allow the pavlova to cool completely inside the oven.

Make the lemon curd:
Place water and sugar in a large pot.
Bring to a boil, then whisk in cornstarch.
Bring to a boil; mixture will be very thick and gloppy.
While whisking egg yolks, take a spoonful of the cornstarch mixture and quickly combine; continue to add, by the spoonful, until about 1/3 of the hot cornstarch mixture has been added.
Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the corn starch mixture, and return to very low heat.
Whisk in the butter, then, off the heat, carefully whisk in the lemon juice and zest.
If any lumps are present, blitz the curd in a blender until smooth.

Make the candied lemons:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath.
Place the very thinly sliced lemons in the boiling water and cook for 20 seconds.
Remove to the ice bath and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, add 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water to the pot and bring to a simmer, until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the lemon slices and allow to simmer for 45 minutes, until softened and no longer bitter.

Assemble the pavlova:
Whisk the yogurt and confectioner’s sugar together.
Spread a thin layer over the first pavlova layer, then spread half of the lemon curd onto the yogurt.
Top with the sliced strawberries and a sprinkling of thyme.
Add the second meringue disk, and top with the remaining yogurt and lemon curd.
Arrange the fruit on top of the lemon curd, and sprinkle more thyme leaves over.
Serve with a spoon, in bowls.

Thyme Out

“Boom,” goes the cannon.
Yes!  I got a new camera!
My old Canon Rebel XS treated me very well; it’s a lovely little camera.
I just desperately needed an upgrade- the XS doesn’t have video capabilities and a whole mess of other features that I wish it did, because it’s a pretty intro-level SLR camera.
So, I upgraded!
I’m now shooting with a Canon Rebel T4i, which I love.
It has a touchscreen, HD video, and really clear photos.
The continuous shooting is rocking and the images are crystal clear.
I’m in love, guys!
There have been weeks and weeks of never ending rain
of weather warnings blaring through the television
of flash flooding and full waterfalls
mist spreading far and wide
perfuming the air.
Finally, it’s starting to heat up again.
Unfortunately, it’s very humid due to all the moisture.
My hair is in afro-mode.  
I just figure I’ll let it run wild.
So I’m welcoming in this heat with ice cream, the first true ice cream of the summer. 
(I made a lot of ice creams for WISE, but they were technically homework!)
This ice cream is rich.  
It’s a lovely shade of yellow thanks to the (9) egg yolks, and has a delightful but difficult-to-pinpoint tang from the buttermilk.
My favorite part is how the lemon thyme pairs with the buttermilk.
There’s a balance of acidity and tongue-coating richness that makes this ice cream very difficult to resist.
You don’t need to use so many egg yolks; I happened to have some on hand from a cake that I made earlier in the day.  
4 upwards would likely do the trick.
(On that note, there is the longest post ever coming at you in two days or so.  
Spoiler alert: it’s got to do with cake.  And buttercream.)
I found a gorgeous and huge bunch of lemon thyme at my farmer’s market, and I scooped it up without any real intentions.
Have you ever had lemon thyme?
It’s got a wonderfully floral and lemony scent, but also has some savory thyme flavor.
It’s delightful; I made some lemon-thyme sugar that I plan on using with stone fruits sometime in the near future.
I may be weird, but I just love how thyme is spelled.
I just love it. Thyme thyme thyme.
Have you ever seen the lovely blog My Darling Lemon Thyme?
First of all, the name is too cute to handle.
Like, I can’t handle it.
Secondly, the food is gorgeous and mouthwatering.
There’s no better combination!
Every time I think of lemon thyme, I think of her lovely, lovely blog.
I hope all of you Americans have a wonderful 4th of July!
Once again, happy birthday, America!

Buttermilk and Lemon Thyme Ice Cream
adapted from Claudia Fleming, via Smitten Kitchen
1 1/2 cups half and half
big bunch of lemon thyme or other herb, or use a vanilla pod, split and scraped
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
9 egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk
Strip the lemon thyme by running pinched fingers along the main woody stem.
Place all the leaves in the half and half in a medium saucepan.
Bring to a simmer; turn off the heat.
Allow to steep for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours at room temperature.
Strain the thyme leaves out; discard.
Using an immersion blender, or switching to a regular blender, blend the sugar, salt, and egg yolks into the half and half.
Heat over medium heat until it comes to a boil, stirring/whisking constantly.
Blend very well with an immersion blender, or pour the mixture back into your blender canister and blend extremely well; you want any lumps or curds that formed to be smoothed back into the mixture, and this takes a good minute and a half with a hand blender.
Blend in the buttermilk and chill until very cold; press saran wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
Churn in your ice cream maker!
(Shown in pictures with freshly whipped cream, strawberries, and blueberries.)


Soft snowflakes are floating down outside my window as I type this, landing gently on vibrant evergreens and vivid red berries.
Something is stirring in me as I take in the peaceful scene outside…
By Jove, I think it’s the Christmas spirit.

My stomach is still bloated has barely regained its balance from Thanksgiving, and I’ve already got the next holiday on the brain.  
Exactly one month!

I gots problems, people.
Why, just last weekend, I spent an entire day raking with my family, greedily anticipating Thanksgiving, and appreciating the beautiful fall weather.
How quickly times change, no?

I had a very beautiful, very long, very poetic post written to go along with this.  

Only problem?  I wrote it using the blogger app on my phone.  What a Big Mistake that was…  (Picture me shaking my fist at the blogging gods right now.)

I’m sorry that I’ve been away from the blog for some time.  Thanksgiving really took it out of me, as I decided to undertake the prep and cooking of the entire meal myself.  


The last few weeks, in terms of Thanksgiving prep, have gone something like this:

I ordered the turkey (no, I don’t eat meat, but my family does).
I went to my local butcher at an ungodly hour in the morning, to make sure I got my hands on some good local meat products: fresh bacon, fresh cranberry-sage sausages, and freshly-rendered lard.
I went grocery shopping (by meself) after a long basketball practice; I spent a ridiculous amount of money and could hardly push the cart, and I’m no weakling.  I must have purchased 200 pounds of food that day.

I went and got the turkey from the farm, a trek that ended up being far harder than me going out and hunting a damn turkey myself.  As it turns out, there are multiple “Creamery” Roads, complete with “ninety-degree turns” right near house number 200s in the nearby Slaterville Springs.  Can you guess who went to the wrong one?  What turned out to be the completely wrong one?  Yes, me.  And don’t laugh.  I had to drive 5 miles in a state forest OFF-ROAD in my Volvo to get to the wrong farm, only to discover that the house numbers went from 194 to 204.  What the…?!?  Yes, I went 45 minutes past the correct Creamery Road.  Upon this realization, I cursed, cried, and punched my steering wheel, à la Shit Girlfriends Say (go to 2:07).  I’m kidding.  But I did wheel my car around and speed back through the forest as fast as I could, suspension be damned.  

I cooked.  A lot.  The menu?

Sourdough bread, gluten-free cheese crackers, cheeses, and grapes 
Roasted squash, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, and sweet potatoes
Roasted lemony brussels sprouts with cranberries, roasted garlic, and maple-balsalmic glaze
Quince and brown-butter basted turkey
Smashed fingerling potatoes with scallions and bacon
(Gluten-free) Cornbread stuffing with sausage, apples, onions, and sage
Apple cider cranberry sauce
(Healthy) Pumpkin pie in an almond-date crust
Salted caramel apple thyme pie in a cheddar cheese and lard crust with maple whipped cream
Maple crème fraîche tart 
Copious amounts of Prosecco, Champagne, and wine

It was all delicious; I was very happy.  And exhausted.  Still am.

The night before Thanksgiving, we celebrated my oldest brother’s birthday.  I made him a French toast cake, which consisted of a brown sugar, brown butter cake filled with cinnamon cream cheese, frosted with a brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream, topped with a maple caramel glaze, and finished with candied bacon.  Yowza.

I’ll be around more often; I promise.  After all, I have some serious holiday baking calling my name.  
P.S. I’m thankful for you guys!  It seriously awes me that I even have readers.  Love y’all.

French Toast Cake
for the cake:
3 sticks unsalted butter, browned
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 egg yolks (save the whites)
2 whole eggs
1/3 cup maple syrup, topped off with buttermilk to equal 1 1/4 cups
Let the butter cool until barely warm to touch.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a half sheet pan.  Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla to the butter and beat until combined. Add in the eggs and egg yolks and mix to combine.  Add in the maple syrup-buttermilk mixture and mix to combine.  Dump in the flour and baking powder and beat until homogeneous.  Spread into pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch.
for the bacon:
2 strips bacon
brown sugar, as needed
in a preheated oven, bake bacon, covered in brown sugar, until crispy, about 15 minutes; flip halfway through and coat with more brown sugar.
for the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
big pinch cinnamon and nutmeg
big pinch salt
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream, or as needed
Beat all ingredients together until fluffy.
for the frosting:
4 ounces egg whites
4 ounces brown sugar
big pinch salt
12.8 ounces butter, room temp
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix egg whites, salt, and sugar together.  Heat over a pan of steaming water until the egg whites reach 145 degrees F, whisking all the while.  Remove from heat, and beat until stiff meringue forms and bowl is cool to the touch.  Slowly add in the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, and continue to beat until the buttercream is fluffy and smooth.
for the caramel:
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
big pinch salt
1/4 cup maple syrup, plus 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons cream
Melt butter together with salt, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup maple syrup over medium heat and cook until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in cream and last tablespoon maple syrup.  Use immediately or refrigerate and reheat and recook until smooth before use.