Great Books!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Although it's not food-related, I'm so pleased with my newly organized book recommendations that I'm gonna share them here anyway.

I was in the third grade when I started to read non-stop and I've never stopped. Books are both my window into the world and also my favorite method of escaping reality. My idea of paradise is a sunny room with a soft bed and a big pile of good books in it (my kids are conveniently occupied elsewhere in this fantasy.)

I recently spent way too much time combing through my GoodReads shelves, library loans, Amazon order history, and the wispy threads of my memory to put together this spreadsheet of all the books that have brought me the most pleasure and insight over the years.

I also added a second tab for all the books I want to read thanks to the wonderful recommendations of friends and family.

I am not allowing editing on this doc but I welcome you to recommend books you love via the comments on this post and you can always make a copy of the googledoc to mark up with your own likes and dislikes.

Although I've linked to the Amazon listings in my doc as that is how I research books, I urge you to support your local library and bookstore if you're fortunate enough to have one. I am particularly grateful for my library system's online catalog - it's wonderfully convenient! - though I always enjoy going into the actual building, too.

Please check it out. I hope you find something you like. 📖


Ruth Reichl's GIANT Chocolate Cake (at Normal Size)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Ruth Reichl's Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2018

My mom had a birthday yesterday so I busted out the flour sifter and the cake pans to make something to give her year a sweet start. My 5-year-old assisted me - he really loves to bake.

Baking assistant by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2018

I chose this recipe from My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl - a book I enthusiastically devoured about two years ago and still return to for recipe inspiration.

Cover of My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

It features all the usual lovely suspects -- cocoa powder, butter, flour, sugar, eggs... But the reviews I read on Kim Severson's post about it in the NY Times Cooking section were so devotional that I had to try it.


After having some struggles in the past with the layers getting stuck in the pan, I followed Ruth's instructions of using both parchment paper circles AND a cake release and it was smooth sailing - those babies slid right out into my eager midwife's hands.

Making the cake release by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2018

Layers cooling by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2018

I made two changes to Ruth's recipe.

1. I cut the recipe in half to fit two 9-inch cake pans since my family is pretty small and I did not need enough cake to feed 20+ people.

2. I increased the frosting amounts a bit as I found that half of Ruth's originals led to a bit less frosting than I needed to easily cover a 9-inch layer cake and I'd hate for you to be similarly caught out. But you can find her original recipe on her site in case it's helpful.

Chocolate cream cheese frosting by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2018

It's delicious! Hope you enjoy it. Also, it freezes well, cut into individual slices and wrapped well against freezer burn...


-- print recipe --Ruth Reichl's GIANT Chocolate Cake
Recipe is halved and adapted slightly from My Kitchen Year

Ingredients

For the cake:

* 3/4 cups boiling water
* 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
* Slightly less than 1/2 cup whole milk
* 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
* 1 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
* 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
* 3/4 cup cane sugar
* 3 large eggs (try to find pasture-raised - they're much better for everyone involved)

For the frosting:

* 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
* 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
* 3/4 cup whipped cream cheese
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with circles of parchment paper (I just put the pans on top of the paper and trace the bottoms with a pencil, then cut them out with scissors) and butter the paper. Drop a little flour (or cocoa powder) in the pans and turn to coat all sides then tap out the excess - this is called a "cake release" and goes a long way to helping you get the cakes out of the pans in one piece once they're done baking.

2. Whisk together boiling water and cocoa until smooth. Then whisk in the milk and vanilla. Sift together the flour,baking soda, and salt.
If possible in a standing mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add one egg at a time,beating well after each addition. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches and the cocoa mixture in 2, alternating flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour. The batter may look curdled.

3. Pour half of the batter into each pan and smooth the tops. Bake in the middle of the oven until a tester comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the pan, 25-30 minutes (mine was done at 25). Turn the cakes out onto a rack to cool completely.

4. Make the frosting: melt the chopped chocolate in a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water then let it cool to room temperature. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy (I had regular cream cheese so I just beat it with my electric beaters for a while before adding the butter to it). Add the cooled chocolate and the remaining ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined. Assemble cake only when the cake layers have cooled completely.

You might also like:



A Few Great Cookbooks

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I interrupt my months-long silence to bring you this short, sweet post about five inspiring and instructive cookbooks you or someone you love might enjoy.

The Fearless Baker by Erin Jeanne McDowell and with beautiful photographs by my dear friend, Jennifer May. If you like to bake, this is the book for you. You can go as in-depth as you care to go with her excellent advice. It was at the top of Melissa Clark's list of the best cookbooks in the NY Times.



Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Samin is something of a culinary celebrity in the San Francisco Bay Area - she's a Chez Panisse alum whose been credited with teaching Michael Pollan how to cook. In this book, she teaches you to home in on the key elements that make food taste good and stop worrying so much about measurements. Great for anyone who wants to develop a more holistic, intuitive sense of cooking.


In My Kitchen A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes by Deborah Madison. I love everything Deborah Madison writes and this is no exception - more elegant yet down to earth prose that makes her recipes sing. She's one of the people I would most like to share a meal with, preferably one she's cooked.

Smitten Kitchen Everyday: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites by Deb Perelman. If you're a fan of Smitten Kitchen blog or of Deb's first book, you're in luck - there's more! 101 brand new recipes await you including a killer carrot ginger dressing that reminds me of the Dojo restaurant I ate at when visiting NYU on a college tour years and years ago. She's a powerhouse and the book is filled to bursting with tasty, creative food that will not take you hours to prepare.



This book came out last year but I somehow missed it until recently. It's such a lovely read and makes me devilishly hungry. The many spin-off recipe ideas Julia provides at the end of each recipe make it worth three or four cookbooks in one. I am leaving it open on the cookbook stand on my kitchen counter and plan to make my way through it recipe by recipe. 

You might also like:



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Great Books!

Although it's not food-related, I'm so pleased with my newly organized book recommendations that I'm gonna share them here anyway.

I was in the third grade when I started to read non-stop and I've never stopped. Books are both my window into the world and also my favorite method of escaping reality. My idea of paradise is a sunny room with a soft bed and a big pile of good books in it (my kids are conveniently occupied elsewhere in this fantasy.)

I recently spent way too much time combing through my GoodReads shelves, library loans, Amazon order history, and the wispy threads of my memory to put together this spreadsheet of all the books that have brought me the most pleasure and insight over the years.

I also added a second tab for all the books I want to read thanks to the wonderful recommendations of friends and family.

I am not allowing editing on this doc but I welcome you to recommend books you love via the comments on this post and you can always make a copy of the googledoc to mark up with your own likes and dislikes.

Although I've linked to the Amazon listings in my doc as that is how I research books, I urge you to support your local library and bookstore if you're fortunate enough to have one. I am particularly grateful for my library system's online catalog - it's wonderfully convenient! - though I always enjoy going into the actual building, too.

Please check it out. I hope you find something you like. 📖


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Ruth Reichl's GIANT Chocolate Cake (at Normal Size)

Ruth Reichl's Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2018

My mom had a birthday yesterday so I busted out the flour sifter and the cake pans to make something to give her year a sweet start. My 5-year-old assisted me - he really loves to bake.

Baking assistant by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2018

I chose this recipe from My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl - a book I enthusiastically devoured about two years ago and still return to for recipe inspiration.

Cover of My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

It features all the usual lovely suspects -- cocoa powder, butter, flour, sugar, eggs... But the reviews I read on Kim Severson's post about it in the NY Times Cooking section were so devotional that I had to try it.


After having some struggles in the past with the layers getting stuck in the pan, I followed Ruth's instructions of using both parchment paper circles AND a cake release and it was smooth sailing - those babies slid right out into my eager midwife's hands.

Making the cake release by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2018

Layers cooling by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2018

I made two changes to Ruth's recipe.

1. I cut the recipe in half to fit two 9-inch cake pans since my family is pretty small and I did not need enough cake to feed 20+ people.

2. I increased the frosting amounts a bit as I found that half of Ruth's originals led to a bit less frosting than I needed to easily cover a 9-inch layer cake and I'd hate for you to be similarly caught out. But you can find her original recipe on her site in case it's helpful.

Chocolate cream cheese frosting by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2018

It's delicious! Hope you enjoy it. Also, it freezes well, cut into individual slices and wrapped well against freezer burn...


-- print recipe --Ruth Reichl's GIANT Chocolate Cake
Recipe is halved and adapted slightly from My Kitchen Year

Ingredients

For the cake:

* 3/4 cups boiling water
* 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
* Slightly less than 1/2 cup whole milk
* 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
* 1 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
* 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
* 3/4 cup cane sugar
* 3 large eggs (try to find pasture-raised - they're much better for everyone involved)

For the frosting:

* 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
* 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
* 3/4 cup whipped cream cheese
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with circles of parchment paper (I just put the pans on top of the paper and trace the bottoms with a pencil, then cut them out with scissors) and butter the paper. Drop a little flour (or cocoa powder) in the pans and turn to coat all sides then tap out the excess - this is called a "cake release" and goes a long way to helping you get the cakes out of the pans in one piece once they're done baking.

2. Whisk together boiling water and cocoa until smooth. Then whisk in the milk and vanilla. Sift together the flour,baking soda, and salt.
If possible in a standing mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add one egg at a time,beating well after each addition. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches and the cocoa mixture in 2, alternating flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour. The batter may look curdled.

3. Pour half of the batter into each pan and smooth the tops. Bake in the middle of the oven until a tester comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the pan, 25-30 minutes (mine was done at 25). Turn the cakes out onto a rack to cool completely.

4. Make the frosting: melt the chopped chocolate in a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water then let it cool to room temperature. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy (I had regular cream cheese so I just beat it with my electric beaters for a while before adding the butter to it). Add the cooled chocolate and the remaining ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined. Assemble cake only when the cake layers have cooled completely.

You might also like:



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Few Great Cookbooks

I interrupt my months-long silence to bring you this short, sweet post about five inspiring and instructive cookbooks you or someone you love might enjoy.

The Fearless Baker by Erin Jeanne McDowell and with beautiful photographs by my dear friend, Jennifer May. If you like to bake, this is the book for you. You can go as in-depth as you care to go with her excellent advice. It was at the top of Melissa Clark's list of the best cookbooks in the NY Times.



Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Samin is something of a culinary celebrity in the San Francisco Bay Area - she's a Chez Panisse alum whose been credited with teaching Michael Pollan how to cook. In this book, she teaches you to home in on the key elements that make food taste good and stop worrying so much about measurements. Great for anyone who wants to develop a more holistic, intuitive sense of cooking.


In My Kitchen A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes by Deborah Madison. I love everything Deborah Madison writes and this is no exception - more elegant yet down to earth prose that makes her recipes sing. She's one of the people I would most like to share a meal with, preferably one she's cooked.

Smitten Kitchen Everyday: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites by Deb Perelman. If you're a fan of Smitten Kitchen blog or of Deb's first book, you're in luck - there's more! 101 brand new recipes await you including a killer carrot ginger dressing that reminds me of the Dojo restaurant I ate at when visiting NYU on a college tour years and years ago. She's a powerhouse and the book is filled to bursting with tasty, creative food that will not take you hours to prepare.



This book came out last year but I somehow missed it until recently. It's such a lovely read and makes me devilishly hungry. The many spin-off recipe ideas Julia provides at the end of each recipe make it worth three or four cookbooks in one. I am leaving it open on the cookbook stand on my kitchen counter and plan to make my way through it recipe by recipe. 

You might also like: