Now that I've gotten a few bigger projects out of the way — hooray! And more soon on all of that, eee — I have a little more time again to do the things I like: read books with pages, fuss endlessly over our charges, get excited about summer events ...
 

smitten kitchen | 5 new articles

pistachio cake

Now that I’ve gotten a few bigger projects out of the way — hooray! And more soon on all of that, eee — I have a little more time again to do the things I like: read books with pages, fuss endlessly over our charges, get excited about summer events (I might make another wedding cake!), this year’s container gardening attempts, what color lipstick Refinery29 says was all the rage at Coachella this year (if I’m being completely honest) and more relevantly, cooking. Brainstorming earlier this week, Sara, who helps (I mean, she tries, she has only so many superpowers) keep me organized, said she’d had a really good pistachio cake at a coffee shop recently and I immediately wanted to try my hand at my own.

the prettiest pistachios
ground with sugar, salt

In my mind, the perfect pistachio cake would be absolutely green (my favorite color) with pistachio intensity, ideally with even more pistachios than flour but require no pistachio paste (not available everywhere and certainly not at, say, Sicilian quality), multiple bowls, or finicky steps. Usually, I start with recipes I’ve made before, trying to extract what I liked about them and apply them to something new, but I didn’t have a preferred template yet for a good, very nutty pound cake yet so I started pulling down books until I found ones that sounded promising. I landed on two, in fact, one from Yossy Arefi’s Sweeter Off The Vine and one from Rose Carrarini of Rose Bakery’s Breakfast, Lunch, Tea. They were so different, I had to make both. The first one was tender, moist, and honestly perfect, although I immediately wanted to swap out some flour with more pistachios to fulfill my dark green cake hopes and dreams. The second, which indeed had way more pistachios than flour, ended up so buttery, I am not even exaggerating when I say I could have wrung it out. I didn’t know where to go from there so I did something weird: I made some tweaks and averaged the recipes together. Like, grade school math. They teach this technique in cooking school, right?

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granola bark

In a departure from pretty much all of our norms, we went to Las Vegas this past weekend to celebrate a friend’s big birthday because… why not? Possibly needless to say, my opportunities these days to take long plane rides with no kids, lounge by pools long enough to finish books, uninterrupted even, and spend exactly zero minutes searching for or scrubbing sippy cup parts are scarce and when graced with a chance to do all of the above at once, it took half a second to book our tickets. Also needless to say, I could now use more sleep, less gin, and to reintroduce my system to fresh fruits and vegetables. This probably means we did it correctly.

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almond horn cookies

The only thing my mother ever asked me to bring home from the bakery where I worked in high school where almond horn cookies, or Mandelhörnchen, probably no surprise as we are a family of established marzipan fiends, most especially when dark chocolate is also involved. Chewy at the center with crunchy edges, the best ones are dipped in chocolate and while I have yet to see them also with rainbow sprinkles, I say there’s no time like the present to make this a Thing.

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mushroom tartines

Would this be a good place to admit that I only moderately enjoy sandwiches? I know, what kind of monster says such things! But, wait, come back. What I mean is, it’s the proportions: too much bread, too little filling. The obvious solution would be Dagwoods or sandwiches from one of those Jewish delis that are taller than your glass of Cel-Ray, but what if you didn’t want to have to unhinge your jaw just to take a bite?

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cornbread waffles

American breakfasts are predominantly sweet: yogurts with fruit sauces and overnight oats with more fruit sauces and lattes with caramel syrup and whipped cream and our secret household love, that flaky cereal with the dried strawberries, but most especially the baked goods, muffins and quickbreads and cinnamon buns. I love them all but more Saturdays than not, I wake up craving something savory I can plop a wobbly egg on top of and it’s for this reason that knew the second I saw cornbread waffles in Joy Wilson’s, aka Joy The Baker’s, new brunch cookbook that they’d be the first thing I was going to make.

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