sweets

Raspberry Opera Cake

HELLO! This may be one of the most ambitious projects I have ever attempted, but the results were well worth it I promise you! I mean, just LOOK at it. I have never felt more like a contestant on the Great British Bakeoff and it was so fun. The other day I was scrolling through Instagram as one does, and came across this masterpiece by Zoë François of the blog Zoë Bakes and I immediately began plotting. The recipe below was adapted from that very recipe, with a few minor flavor changes including raspberry jam instead of blackberry, and dark chocolate for the ganache. Be warned, this is not a quick recipe, and there are a lot of different pieces and parts, so prepare to have a whole day set aside for this. Put on your comfiest clothes, put on a movie (I watched Solo while I baked this and simply had a blast) or your favorite cooking music, and have lots of iced coffee at the ready, you GOT this.

This weekend was completely free of obligations and plans, which are my favorite kinds of weekends. I get to tackle so many baking and cooking projects in two days it feels like I might as well move into the kitchen. Saturday’s projects were this cake and some shrimp scampi for dinner, and Sunday brought this fall’s first of many apple pies (recipe for that coming soon, it’s my pride and joy)! Now if only the weather outside matched my fall mood. All in good time I guess!

Before we start, here are your 5 things to be happy about today!

ONE. Hot apple cider with mulling spices.
TWO. Marathoning a movie series on a rainy day.
THREE. Switching out your summer wardrobe for your thickest sweaters.
FOUR. Running through a corn maze as an adult and having just as much (if not more) fun.
FIVE. Homemade breakfast sandwiches with the crispiest bacon.

Serves: 6 to 8 people
Prep/Assembly Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Inactive Time: ~2 to 3 hours

Almond Joconde

3 eggs, room temperature
90 grams sugar
3 egg whites
30 grams sugar
115 grams almond meal
28 grams flour

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

½ cup egg whites (from 3 to 4 eggs)
1 cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Kosher salt (a pinch!)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
¾ cup raspberry jam

Dark Chocolate Ganache

12oz. dark bakers chocolate
12oz. heavy cream

Meringue Topping

½ cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

*Fresh Raspberries for topping

 

Almond Joconde Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line an 11″ x 16″ baking sheet with parchment paper, then brush with butter to prevent the cake from sticking. In a large bowl, sift together the almond meal and flour, then set aside.

TWO. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the whole room temperature eggs and the 90 grams of sugar until the mixture has tripled in size and, when drizzled, forms ribbons that hold their shape momentarily before disappearing back into the rest of the egg. It should take about 7 to 8 minutes. Gently fold this mixture into the almond meal mixture.

THREE. In the clean bowl of your stand mixer, whip the three egg whites and the 30 grams of sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold this mixture into the rest of the cake batter. Pour into the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the top is lightly golden. Allow to cool completely.


Raspberry Buttercream Steps

ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the ½ cup egg whites and the 1 cup of sugar until thick and combined. It will be very grainy. Set this bowl over a pot of boiling water (a double boiler situation!), and heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the sugar has completely dissolved.

TWO. Transfer the bowl back to the mixer and beat the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form and the egg whites are back down to room temperature.

THREE. Once the egg whites are the right texture and temperature, add the butter in, two tablespoons at a time, until completely incorporated. Some notes about this: if the egg is still too hot and the butter starts to melt, put the whole thing in the fridge for a while to cool it down. If, while you’re adding the butter, the mixture begins to look like it’s curdling, don’t panic!! This happens, but if you keep mixing, it will fix itself.

FOUR. Once all the butter is added, continue to mix for another minute, until the frosting is thick and glossy again. Add in the vanilla, salt, and raspberry jam and mix with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated.

FIVE. Dollop the frosting over the completely cooled cake and spread with an offset spatula. It’s important that the frosting is as even and flat on top of the cake as possible, as it will make stacking much easier later. Chill the cake until the frosting is set.


Chocolate Ganache Steps

ONE. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the heavy cream until simmering, then remove from heat. Add in the chopped chocolate and swirl to ensure that all the chocolate is covered by the hot cream. Allow to sit for 3 minutes.

TWO. After 3 minutes, whisk the mixture together, as the heat from the cream will have melted the chocolate by now. Let the ganache cool before spreading on the cake so as not to melt the frosting.

THREE. When the ganache is cool and the cake is set, spread the ganache evenly over the buttercream and smooth with an offset spatula. Chill until the chocolate is solid.


Cake Assembly Steps

ONE. Once the cake is chilled and completely set, run a hot knife around the edges to loosen the cake and the chocolate from the tray. Wrap the top of the cake with plastic cling wrap, and place another (same size) baking sheet on top of this, with the bottom of the baking sheet touching the plastic wrapped top of the cake. Flip the whole thing upside down so that the ganache side of the cake is now on the bottom. Remove the original baking sheet and peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake.

TWO. Flip the cake back to right side up by placing the bottom of the original baking sheet on top of the cake and turn upside down again, then peel the plastic wrap off the ganache side of the cake. At this point, you should have your cake sitting on an inverted baking sheet (to make it easier to slice) with the ganache on top and the cake on the bottom.

THREE. Using a heated knife (keep a large glass of boiled water nearby to dip your knife in as you slice), trim off any uneven edges of your sheet cake so that all the sides are perfectly straight.

Shot from my snapstory, gotta get those angles you know??

FOUR. Using a ruler to keep measurements exact, turn your tray so that the long side is vertical. Cut the cake into thirds on the long side (the 16″ side), so that you have three long strips of cake. Then, turn the tray so that the long side is horizontal, and slice in half so that you have 6 even rectangles of cake. *If at any point the ganache starts to get soft, place  the cake back in the fridge until everything is set again.

FIVE. To assemble, take a long spatula and place one cut rectangle onto your desired serving tray. Repeat with each rectangle, making sure that the sides all match up and the cake doesn’t end up lopsided. Top the finished cake with even rows of raspberries.


Meringue Topping Steps

ONE. This step is optional, but it looks so pretty so 10/10 would recommend. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the egg whites and sugar until stiff and glossy. Mix in the vanilla extract/ vanilla bean paste. Dollop or pipe the stiffened meringue over the raspberries, making spikes and swirls with the back of a spoon. Using a kitchen torch, toast the meringue until golden.

You DID IT!!! I’m so proud of you, it’s been quite a journey!! xoxoxoxoxoxD

sweets

Cornmeal Peach Cobbler

Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying the last few days of official summer. I’m here to tell you though, that you can’t fully enjoy your last days of summer break without this cobbler. Adapted from this recipe from Food52, it’s the low maintenance, no fuss, last-good-peaches-of-the-summer peach dessert of your dreams. The filling is similar to that of a traditional peach pie, while the cornmeal biscuits add a new twist on the classic cobbler.

With the past week being so unbearably hot here in New York, it certainly doesn’t feel like September has arrived. That being said, I am more than prepared to pretend it’s fall until the weather catches up with us. Fall is, without a doubt, my favorite season for really all the reasons. Fall weather? The best and most beautiful. Fall clothes? The coziest. Fall food? Apple cinnamon EVERYTHING all. the. time. And I know it seems crazy to wish away the summer but honestly, I’ll take a crisp autumn day over 80º weather no contest. BUT, I realize that this is still a summer recipe so I should probably stop talking about that right? I’m SORRY I just get so overexcited, you know?

Before we get started, here are 5 things to be happy about this week:

ONE. A good Labor Day trip to the beach, savoring the last beach day of the year.
TWO. A thunderstorm after days of a heat wave when the air finally feels cool again.
THREE. Seeing the fall’s first apples for sale at the farm stand.
FOUR. Collecting cookbooks.
FIVE. A weekend with no plans, where you can do whatever you feel like.

Okay, now that we’ve got that covered, who’s ready for cobbler??

Serves: 8-10 people
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes

Peach Ingredients

3 lbs peaches (about 9 peaches), peeled and sliced into wedges
1/3 cup sugar
3 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla
1¼ tsp cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon

Cornmeal Biscuit Ingredients

1 cup flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
6 tbs butter, diced into ½ inch cubes
2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
Demerara Sugar, for dusting

Steps

ONE. Toss the sliced peaches with the sugar and let sit for 5 minutes or so until the peaches release some juices and become syrupy. Drain the peaches in a colander or mesh sieve and reserve ¼ cup of the peach juice.

TWO. Whisk together the reserved peach juice, lemon juice, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Pour this mixture over the drained peaches and mix thoroughly. Transfer to your 9-inch baking dish or pie plate, liquid and all. Place the filled pie plate on top of another baking sheet (to catch any leaks or spills).

THREE. At this point, preheat the oven to 375º F. To make the biscuits, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl. Cut in the cubed butter with your hands or a pastry blender until it resembles peas and is evenly incorporated.

FOUR. Stir in the heavy cream with a rubber spatula and mix until there are no dry ingredients left. Add more heavy cream as necessary, a tablespoon at a time, if the mixture is too dry.

FIVE. Scoop the biscuit mixture on top of the peaches, using an ice cream scoop or two large spoons, leaving a little room in between each one, as the biscuits will spread. Brush the top of each biscuit with heavy cream and sprinkle with demerara sugar.

SIX. Bake for 35 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the biscuits are golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool completely to set the filling, then serve warm with a generous pour of cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

YUM! xoxoxoxoxoD

savories

BLT Pasta with Garlic Croutons

Hello friends!! For today’s recipe, yes, you read that right, it’s BLT PASTA!! One of life’s simple pleasures is a good sandwich, and in my opinion, nothing matches the near perfection of a good BLT in the summer. The crisp bacon, juicy tomato, fresh lettuce, it’s a classically delicious combination that one would not think could possibly be improved. HOWEVER, that was before you considered this recipe. Adapted from The New York Times (recipe here), this pasta has all the best parts of a traditional BLT sandwich, as well as the addition of peppery arugula and salty pecorino romano cheese. An added bonus? The sauce practically cooks itself! After frying the bacon, halved cherry tomatoes are cooked in the resulting bacon fat and reduced to a bubbling, rich but not heavy sauce, made even silkier with the freshly grated cheese and pasta water. All you have to do is stir it all together!

Enjoying these beautifully colored gems while I can!!

My own version of this meal includes one extra accent in the form of crispy garlic croutons because I just really love mixing bread and pasta. Is that weird? My all time favorite pasta dish is literally just pasta tossed with garlic breadcrumbs, sometimes with some sautéed kale and a fried egg, but also sometimes not, and it’s just SO delicious. So anyway, I figured, since this dish is adapted from a classic sandwich anyway, why not bring the bread back? And boy am I glad I did, because even just a small handful on top of your pasta swirl provides the most perfect and satisfying crunch and we quickly learned, as my mother remarked while eating this, “I could eat this pasta all night”.

I’ve been seeing fancy noodle swirls all over my instagram and quickly realized how challenging it is to get them all to cooperate with me. How’d I do?

Before we get started, I’m bringing you 5 more things to be happy about this week, are you ready? Let’s go!

ONE. The newly released Netflix movie To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – which is heartwarming, sweet, and impossible to watch just once.

TWO. Eating a cup full of cold, cubed watermelon and feeling instantly refreshed.

THREE. The immediate relaxation you feel when stepping into an air-conditioned space from the heat outside.

FOUR. Playing the same song over and over while driving by yourself, with no one to tell you not to.

FIVE. Dinners where everyone gathers around the table long after the food is finished, simply enjoying each other’s company.

Are we feeling happy? Hungry? Let’s get cooking!!

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6-8 dinner portions (plus leftovers for tomorrow – or midnight!!)

Ingredients

2 boxes pasta of your choice (I used bucatini but any tube like pasta works!)
12oz. bacon, diced
2 lbs. cherry tomatoes, halved
10 oz. arugula, washed and dried
1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
½ loaf ciabatta bread, torn into bite size chunks
3 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
Kosher salt + pepper
Red pepper flakes

Steps

ONE. Bring pasta water to boil in a large pot. Cook your pasta according to the package instructions for al dente, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water.

TWO. In a shallow pan (I used a cast iron skillet), heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add crushed red pepper flakes to your liking, depending on your spice preference. I used about ½ tsp for these croutons. Add in the torn pieces of ciabatta and stir so that every piece is coated with olive oil. Toast until the bread becomes golden brown and crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

THREE. While the water is coming to a boil, crisp your bacon in a large skillet or pot on medium-high heat, then remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate, taking care to keep as much of the bacon fat left in the pan as possible. Add the halved cherry tomatoes to the pan with the bacon fat, and cook on medium heat until the tomatoes become soft and begin to burst. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate the browned bacon bits into the sauce as well. Season with salt and pepper, and after about 5 minutes of cooking, add half of the cooked bacon back to this sauce and mix to combine.

Look at these cuties doing their thing!!

FOUR. With the heat on medium-high, add the cooked pasta straight from the water into the skillet with the tomato sauce. Add in your arugula plus ½ cup pasta water and cook for a minute until the arugula begins to wilt slightly. Stir in the cheese and an additional ½ cup pasta water, mixing everything together until the sauce becomes smooth and almost shiny, and coats the pasta. Feel free to add more pasta water as needed, until you reach the desired consistency.

I almost dropped my phone into the pasta for this shot, you’re WELCOME

FIVE. To serve, pile a generous helping of pasta onto a plate or into a shallow bowl, add a handful of garlic croutons, a sprinkling of crisped bacon pieces, and a heaping snow shower of grated cheese. Best enjoyed with a glass of chilled white wine.

YUM!! xoxoxoxoD

sweets

Cinnamon Plum-Apricot Pie with Vanilla Pouring Custard

Hello friends! After a week’s break I am back, and I bring more summer pie! Last week, my family and I took a trip to Portland, Maine, one of our favorite places, and it was exactly what I needed to clear my head. The city was named Bon Appetit’s city of the year, and for good reason. Portland is a food-lover’s paradise, but more specifically, a baked-good lover’s paradise. Every morning I had some form of doughnuts, pie, or cinnamon rolls with some of the best coffee I’ve ever had, and I’m not kidding when I say that if the winters there didn’t get so cold, I would move there immediately.


If you’re planning a visit any time soon, here are the top three places from me:

ONE
. Tandem Coffee Roasters (above right photo): a bakery/ coffee shop in a refurbished gas station, aka the most aesthetically pleasing and delicious place in the world
TWO. The Holy Donut (above left photo): the only thing you need to know about this place is that the doughnuts have MASHED POTATO in them!!! The result is the most tender, pillowy doughnut you’ll ever have (my favorite is the maple one!)
THREE. Two Fat Cats Bakery: the pie here is UNBELIEVABLE, and the inspiration behind today’s recipe. (ALSO, I was told they now ship their pies, you’re welcome!)


Something that I like to do with my friends and have been trying to do more of recently is occasionally make a list of 5 things to be happy about, just to keep things in perspective, so before we get started, I’m going to share some with you as well!

ONE
. An unusually cool day in the summer, giving you a preview for the Fall season ahead, and a reason to sit on the porch with a hot cup of tea.
TWO. Finally finishing that book that you’ve been reading for months.
THREE. Freshly baked cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning.
FOUR. Lying in bed listening to thunder outside as you fall asleep.
FIVE. That one TV show that you know front and back but never get tired off. (For me it’s Pushing Daisies!!).


OKAY now that that’s covered, some quick notes about today’s recipe. This beautiful pie is brought to you by The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book (buy it here!), which covers truly every question you could ever have about pie. This one in particular originally featured only apricots, but since I had such a difficult time finding apricots around me, I had to improvise without abandoning the recipe all together, hence, the plums. Technically, the fruit I used was an apricot/ plum hybrid called an Aprium, which I had NEVER heard before. They tasted more like plums than apricots really, but both fruits would be spectacular with the cinnamon and vanilla custard. Also, the thickening agent in this pie is potato starch, which I had never encountered before but am now in love with. According to the book, it’s easier to find than tapioca and more effective than cornstarch, which leaves a gritty texture often. I used one from Bob’s Red Mill and was so happy with how the filling came together in a way that was thick but not gelatinous, and certainly not soupy. Finally, this pie was designed specifically to pair with the Vanilla Pouring Custard, so I would highly recommend following through with it. However, this custard can go on so many things- cakes, other pies, ice cream, straight from the pot to your mouth (??), idk, I’m not judging here. Now quick, let’s get baking!

Adapted from: The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
Makes: 1 double crust pie + approximately 2 cups custard

Pie Ingredients

Pie Crust recipe for 1 Double Crust pie, found here
1½ lbs. apricots/ plums (or both!)
2 Tbs lemon juice
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp kosher salt
3 Tbs potato starch
Egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbs water)
Demerara sugar

Pie Steps

ONE. Before starting your filling, prepare your pie dough following steps 1 through 4 of this recipe here. After the 30 minute chilling period, roll out half the pie crust and line your pie plate, then roll out the other half and chill both halves in the fridge while you make the filling. Preheat your oven to 425ºF.

TWO. Wash your fruit and cut in slices (in half, then in half moon slices), removing the stones. Toss the fruit with the lemon juice to prevent browning. In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and potato starch, then add this sugar mixture to the fruit. Stir until everything is evenly combined.

THREE. Pour this filling into the prepared pie shell, then place the top crust over it. You can do whatever you’d like here, whether you feel like a lattice or a full top crust! Brush the top with egg wash, and remember to cut some air vents if doing a full top crust. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and place the pie on a sheet pan (with raised edges), to catch spills and drips.

FOUR. Bake the pie at 425º for the first 20 minutes on the bottom most rack of your oven. When 20 minutes are up, turn the oven down to 375ºF, then bake for another 30 minutes. Keep watch for the crust, specifically the edges, which can burn, and cover with tin foil or pie crust protectors as necessary. Allow the pie to cool completely (to set the filling), before reheating and serving with Pouring Custard!

Vanilla Pouring Custard Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp cornstarch
4 Tbs white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 or 2 Tbs dark rum (optional)

Vanilla Pouring Custard Steps

ONE. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it’s just about to boil, but doesn’t quite yet. Keep an eye on it, it heats up faster than you think!

TWO. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar until pale yellow. Carefully and VERY slowly, drizzle some of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly so as not to cook the eggs. This tempers the egg mixture and allows you to add it back to the milk without accidentally making scrambles.

My baking setup is usually this chaotic, I spy an espresso maker cluttering up this counter!

THREE. Add the tempered egg mixture to the rest of the milk in the saucepan and cook on low, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the consistency is slightly thickened and coats the back of the spoon. *It took me a long time to get the custard to thicken, but don’t be tempted to turn the heat up too high because that tends to curdle the mixture. Just be patient!

FOUR. Place a sieve over a medium bowl and strain the custard to remove any lumps and give you the smoothest product. At this point, stir in the vanilla (and rum if you’re using it!). This is best served still warm, and trust me, there is no limit to how much you can pour on one slice of pie.


YUM!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxD

 

savories

Eggs In Purgatory

You know when you love breakfast foods, but you’re also really lazy? Um, hello, that’s me. In college, I got so used to scheduling all my classes at 11am or later, just so I could stay up until 2am but also get a reasonable amount of sleep (healthy, I know), but NOW, even after a full year of adulthood in the workforce, I am so unprepared for how tired I feel during the week. As a result, Saturdays are my sacred sleeping late days, and I take them very seriously thank you very much. With this being the case, I am not often awake early enough for breakfast, which is actually a real bummer given how many breakfast recipes I want to try. I’ve always wanted to be a morning person and have been trying to push myself not to sleep so late on the weekends, but it’s slow going for sure.

I was super proud of this presentation, I’m not gonna lie…

That being said, I think I may have just found the key. It all started when I got a copy of Cook’s Illustrated magazine for my birthday (thanks Anne!!). This particular copy was the “Special Collector’s Edition” of All-Time Best Breakfast & Brunch Recipes. A dream come true, right?? It had every recipe you could possibly imagine, complete with detailed notes on the testing of each one so that you could be sure you were getting the best results. However, the recipe that really caught my eye was the one for “Eggs In Purgatory”. Similar to Shakshuka, Eggs In Purgatory is essentially baked eggs in a tomato sauce, this time with Italian flavors. As a fake Italian, this was really what drew me in (for clarification, I’m not Italian at all but I just really wish I was).

The key to this recipe is cooking the eggs two different ways to ensure they are properly cooked without compromising the overall dish. This means that you first make the sauce on the stovetop, crack in the eggs, cook for a bit, and THEN bake, and the end result will be the breakfast dish of your dreams. An added bonus? Every step of this meal is cooked in one pan (not counting the toasting of the bread), so you can spend more quality time with your guests (or yourself, if you make this whole thing for you I will not judge, it’s called self care!!). *Disclaimer* The recipe technically serves 4 figuring that each person will eat 2 eggs, baked in a 12 inch skillet. However, I only have a 10.5 inch skillet, so I used 6 eggs. It still fed 4 of us, but I’ll let you decide how hungry you are. Let’s breakfast!

Serves: 4-5 people
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Eggs In Purgatory Ingredients
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, by Cecilia Jenkins

1 loaf Italian bread, cut into thick slices
7 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¼ cup grated onion (about half a medium onion)
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp dried oregano
1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more chopped for garnish
1- 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
6-8 large eggs (depending on your pan size and crowd)
Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper

Eggs In Purgatory Steps

1. Start by moving one of your oven racks to the middle slot. Arrange the sliced bread on a large baking sheet and brush each piece with olive oil. Flip to the other side and repeat so that both sides of the bread are oiled. In total, this should be about 4 of the 7 tablespoons of olive oil, but you can eyeball this as well. Broil the bread until the tops turn golden brown and crisp, turning each piece over to ensure even browning on both sides. Don’t wander too far while this is happening, things can go from lightly golden to very burnt in the blink of an eye with your broiler!! Set the bread aside and preheat your oven to 400ºF.

2. In an oven-safe skillet (I used a cast iron one, but it’s up to you!), heat your remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the sliced garlic and cook until fragrant, being careful not to brown it too much (browned garlic is very bitter). Stir in the grated onion, tomato paste, salt, red pepper flakes, and oregano so that everything is well combined. Continue to cook this mixture until the tomato paste has turned rust-colored, or a deep, reddish-brown, as this will unlock the caramelized sweetness of the tomatoes. (It should take about 5 minutes.)

3. Toss in the basil leaves and stir, cooking for 30 seconds, or until they begin to wilt. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and bring the sauce to a simmer for 15 minutes, or until it has slightly thickened. Remember to stir occasionally!

4. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow it to cool for 2 minutes before adding the eggs next. Crack one of your eggs into a small bowl. Using a rubber spatula, clear a large hole in the sauce, deep enough that you can see the bottom and wide enough to fit the whole egg without spilling over. Pour the egg in, making sure to keep the whites contained so that they don’t spread entirely over the surface of the tomato sauce. I found myself sort-of pushing some of the sauce up to create a little barrier if the eggs were large enough that some of the white was spilling over, and it worked out okay! Remember also that practice makes perfect, and even if some whites spill over, it’s going to taste SO. GOOD.

 

5. Repeat with the rest of your eggs, evenly spacing out the pockets around the perimeter of the skillet, with the final egg right in the middle. Season all the eggs with salt and pepper, then cover the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes, until the whites are just setting but still a little watery. Remove the lid and carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes for runny eggs, or 6 for soft yolks, rotating the skillet once during cooking.

6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with parmesan and chopped basil, then serve with the toasty bread and just TRY to keep yourself from scooping up every last bit of sauce with that bread.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoD

sweets

Funfetti Layer Cake!

Happy Tuesday friends! Today I’m back to talk about cake and Molly Yeh, but first, let’s talk about berry picking. I know this is quite unrelated to the recipe at hand, but I gotta tell you, I spent Saturday doing some classic summer activities and oh my it was good. We drove out east to Greenport and Orient on the North Fork of Long Island and all I can say is that I am moving there as soon as possible. Driving along the road scattered with family farms and vineyards, we stopped to pick blue and blackberries, had sweet corn ice cream at 10am (SO delicious), and found the Four and Twenty Blackbirds pop-up pie shop where I definitely added to my cookbook collection. It was everything I ever wanted and I can’t wait to live a wrap-around screened-in porch by the beach lifestyle thank you very much.

But anyway, back to today’s recipe. Who here has heard of Molly Yeh? For those of you who haven’t, she’s a food blogger, cookbook author, and now Food Network chef and honestly, I aspire to be her. Her recipes are thoughtful and beautiful, and often include a healthy dose of sprinkles. Now, anyone who knows me knows that baking cakes distresses me, so I approached this one cautiously. While babysitting last week, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the desire for a slice of cake, and couldn’t think of anything else until I made some. You know how it goes, right? My sisters came downstairs at 7:30pm expecting dinner to be on the table and only to realize that I hadn’t even STARTED that yet because dessert over everything. To my relief this recipe went just swimmingly. The secret? Clear, imitation vanilla!! I know, I was skeptical too but since I trust Molly I went for it, and the result? A homemade, buttery, moist cake with the nostalgic taste of those funfetti box mixes that were a staple of childhood birthday parties. An added bonus? This cake baked up perfectly flat on top so they stacked beautifully with no trimming required and it turned out to be the most beautiful cake I’ve ever made. I tried to leave this recipe as close to the original as possible, although I did find myself playing around with frosting. However,  you can also find the original recipe here on her blog, My Name Is Yeh, or her cookbook, which you can buy here. Anywho, let’s bake!

 

Makes: One 9-inch 2-layer cake

Funfetti Cake Ingredients

2½ cups flour (all-purpose)
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1½ cups sugar
4 egg whites
¼ cup canola (or other flavorless) oil
1 tbs clear imitation vanilla
½ tsp almond extract
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup rainbow sprinkles (the cylinder ones, not nonpareils)


Funfetti Cake Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line the bottoms of 2 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. (This recipe could also be used to make 24 cupcakes).

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder to combine. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, or about 3-4 minutes. Carefully add the egg whites one at a time, and mix after each addition to ensure everything is evenly incorporated. Add the oil and mix until combined.

4. In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the whole milk and add the extracts to it. Gradually add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter mixture with the mixer on low speed, starting with the flour mixture and alternating so that the flour is added in 3 batches and the milk mixture in 2 (flour, mix, milk, mix, flour, etc…), until all is added and mix until just combined.

5. Add the sprinkles and mix with a rubber spatula until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter. Fill the cake pans so that there is an equal amount of batter in both. Bake for 25-27 minutes on the lower rack of the oven, testing with a toothpick or a cake tester for doneness. Allow to cool  for 15 minutes in the pan before removing and placing on a wire rack. Cool completely before icing.

Classic American Buttercream

7 cups powdered sugar
1 cup  (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp clear imitation vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
6-8 tbs whole milk


Classic American Buttercream Steps

1. In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together the powdered sugar and butter- be careful when you turn the mixer on, the powdered sugar tends to fly everywhere!

2. Add in the salt and the extracts and mix to combine. Add the whole milk a tablespoon at a time with the mixer on medium speed until the desired spreadable consistency has been reached. Makes enough frosting to fill the inside layer, crumb coat, and second coat one 2-layer cake.

Funfetti Cake Assembly

1. To assemble the cake, place one cake flat side down on your cake stand. Spread about a ½ cup or so of the frosting on top of this layer, and place the second cake on top, this one upside down so that the bottom of the cake is on top, as this will create a flat top of your cake.

2. Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then, use the rest of the frosting to generously frost the entire cake, using an offset spatula to spread, and a bench scraper or long spatula dipped in hot water to smooth the edges.

3. Now the best part- DECORATING!!! You can do whatever you want here; more frosting to pipe around the edges, marzipan cutouts, or the classic, more sprinkles. This is the approach I took as you can see, as it was approaching 10pm and everyone just wanted to eat!

Now go forth and enjoy your masterpiece (and probably take a lot of pictures)! Xoxoxoxox

 

savories

Orecchiette with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Welcome to my first dinner post in so so long! I’m terribly sorry for the delay, it just seems like every good recipe I’ve had recently has been a dessert, but that ends NOW! Last week, I played Mom for my three younger sisters while my parents were away and honestly, I don’t know how anyone does it. Props to you working Moms and Dads! There just didn’t seem to be enough time (or coffee) in the day for me to get things done. I’m not even joking, there was a point in the week where I woke up with a weird pain in my right side and my first thought was “wow, I don’t have time for appendicitis, who will make dinner?”. ????? HM okay Deirdre calm down. But also it turned out to be nothing I think and I’m just going to roll with it!

ANYWAY back to food, when I’m in charge at home, I tend to use my siblings as taste testers for things that I wouldn’t normally try to make during the week, and thank goodness for them. This time it was an adaptation of one of my favorite Smitten Kitchen recipes, Baked Tomato Sauce. Best in the summer when tomatoes are at the height of ripeness, Deb’s recipe brings out the incredibly rich sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and perfectly compliments it with the slight crunch of the toasted breadcrumbs and the lightness of some fresh basil. It’s the epitome of summer in one dish and mark my words, it’s just about perfect as is. But, since I can’t leave well enough alone, I decided to see what else I could do with it and so was born this Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce.

Part of the draw of this recipe is its simplicity, after accidentally spending 2 hours making a Funfetti Cake instead of dinner (post on that coming soon!), I was thrilled at how I could get everything in the pan and into the oven in under 15 minutes. So, the challenge was tweaking the recipe in a way that wouldn’t tack on another 20 minutes of prep time, and didn’t distract from the main flavor players here. In the end, I was incredibly pleased with how this came out and so were my taste testers, and I just know you’ll feel the same way too. Let’s get cooking!

 

Ingredients
adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Baked Tomato Sauce

Olive Oil
3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼-½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
4 tbs grated pecorino romano cheese
½ tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and pepper
1½ lbs. dried orecchiette or large shell pasta
Handful of fresh basil, chiffonade
8oz. Bocconcini or Ciliegine (mozzarella balls!)

Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Drizzle olive oil in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, enough to almost cover the bottom entirely. Toss in the halved cherry tomatoes, sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and mix with your hands so that everything is evenly mixed and lightly coated in olive oil. Note: the red pepper flakes measurement is variable, adjust however you’d like based on your tolerance to spicy foods!

Look at the COLOR!!

2. In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, cheeses, and oregano. Sprinkle this mixture evenly and generously over the tomatoes in the baking dish.

3. Top with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper, and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons more olive oil- it doesn’t have to be exact, you just want the breadcrumbs to get a golden brown crispness!

4. Bake the tomatoes for 25-30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are burst and bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

5. While the sauce is baking, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Drain.

PEAK crispy roasty bubbliness right here.

6. When the sauce is finished, if there is room in your baking dish, toss the cooked pasta, basil, and bocconcini straight in with the sauce and mix until everything is incorporated evenly and the mozzarella is just starting to melt. If this isn’t possible, transfer your pasta back into the large pot that you cooked it in, add the sauce, mozzarella, and basil, and mix to combine that way. Serve with a sprinkling of basil and a glass of good wine.

YUM! xoxoxoxoxoxoD