Super Easy Strawberries & Sherry Vinegar

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m writing this on the morning of my 31st birthday and it feels CRAZY but, not for the obvious reasons–wrinkles where there were none before, my new found obsession with moisturizing creams, those persistent gray hairs–but, because I barely registered my 30th birthday. I was deep into pregnancy and house hunting. I had curly fries for dinner from Jack in the Box. To be fair, there was a lot happening. This year seems to be barreling by at warp speed, too. Where do these days go?! They just kind of crept up, leapfrogging over one another. It’s good, though. These super speedy days remind me to keep my eyes wide open and that sometimes simple is the order of the day. It means more time for rosé on the patio, some good conversation, and extra moments with my dudes.

This recipe for Strawberries with Sherry Vinegar, Graham Crumbs, and Brown Sugar Whipped Cream answers that call for easy-living. The elements are super simple, but still special: ripe strawberries, lush sherry vinegar, deep brown sugar, crunchy grahams, velvety whipped cream, and buttery…well, butter. I pair sherry vinegar with the berries instead of the classic balsamic because I’m having a moment with sherry vinegar and I don’t like the muddy color that happens when using balsamic. I’m also having a moment with dark brown sugar. It’s just so deep and delicious with all those dark, caramelly, molasses notes. It makes the whipped cream a little extra special and adds a pleasing sandiness to the graham crumbs. Speaking of the grahams, it’s basically the things you’d use to make a graham cracker crust–just not pressed into a pan. It’s my go-to, dead-easy, dessert these warmer months. I’ve already made it several times with good reception, plus it makes me feel like that effortless entertainer I’ve always wanted to be, instead of a frazzled weirdo. #fakeittillyoumakeit

Strawberry with Sherry Vinegar, Graham Crumbs, and Brown Sugar Whip

I also made my first, ever, GIF! I kind of feel like a dinosaur because the tutorial I watched was basically made by an infant and I had to watch it several more times than I’d like to admit. But, here it is. I did it. It’s just a little animation of the nit-picky adjustments I made trying to style one of the shots. I mean it’s no sexy syrup-pour-shot or oozing-yolk, but maybe I’ll get there? I’m 31, I made my first GIF, and am figuring out this mom thing (or at least trying). I’m still learning things and that’s GOOD.

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Strawberries with Sherry Vinegar, Graham Crumbs, and Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

Serves 4-6

Everything in this recipe can be made in advance–making it that much easier to pull together. I wouldn’t whip the cream in advance, but you can combine the cream and brown sugar in a jar and whip just before serving.

for the berries:

1 lb. ripe, fresh strawberries stemmed and hulled

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons (more or less) dark brown sugar

for the graham crumbs:

1 sleeve graham crackers (about 9 crackers)

1 tablespoon melted, unsalted butter

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

pinch of salt

for the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Slice the strawberries and toss them in a bowl with the sherry vinegar and brown sugar, to coat. Set aside.

Crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs (I like to use a mini food processor for this, but a bag and rolling pin will work in a pinch). Place the crumbs in a bowl and stir in the melted butter, brown sugar, and salt, until well combined.

Using electric beaters or an immersion blender (or your guns and a whisk) beat the cream until it begins to thicken. Add the brown sugar and continue to beat until you get a soft peak.

Spoon the berries into bowls, top with the whipped cream, and a generous sprinkle of graham crumbs. You will probably have extra crumbs, they store well in a jar with a tight lid for several days. Use them for topping yogurt, sundaes, or more strawberries and cream! [/recipe]

 

Rhubarb Crumb Cake

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

This past Sunday, I had my first Mother’s Day. It was a good one…I mean, this cute little guy was involved…though not exactly what I had imagined Mother’s Days to be. Instead of brunching leisurely, sipping mimosas, and kicking back, I woke up early and was at Home Depot just before 7am to rent a contraption called a “plate compactor.” Then, I moved a literal ton and a half of bricks and sand into my backyard from the driveway. FUN TIMES. I kept telling myself that in a few short weekends it would be all worth it because we will have a lovely, herringbone-patterned brick patio to lounge on for sunshine-y, summer days now and into the future. Luckily, I didn’t do all of this alone. Sean did a ton of the work and his brother also came over to help out. Plus, there was a big square of rhubarb coffee cake and a delicious breakfast sandwich in there, both from Grand Central, between the Home Depot trip and the manual labor stuff.

The cake was a total dream and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I decided to recreate something similar at home. A lot of the recipes I found had a thinner batter that results in a cake with chunks of rhubarb mixed into the cake itself. I really wanted the rhubarb to sit atop the batter between the cake layer and the crumble layer. This cake, an adaptation of the New York-Style Crumb Cake from the famous Baked NYC, was pretty much perfect. A solid ratio of buttery boulders of crumb topping to tender-yet-sturdy cake base–perfect for holding up plenty of tart rhubarb. I didn’t do anything to the rhubarb because I knew that the sweet crumbs would offset the sourness of the rhubarb. I also held back on adding any sort of cinnamon or spice–which is normally my instinct with coffee-cake-like things, but I really wanted it to be all butter and vanilla with punches of rhubarb. The only thing I would do differently next time is to double the rhubarb. I totally think this cake could handle it. I could see this cake being made all times of the year with various seasonal or frozen fruits. I’d avoid anything too wet, like strawberries, but apples, cranberries, pretty much any berry, or even stone fruits (cherries!) would all be lovely.

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Rhubarb Crumb Cake

Adapted from Baked Explorations

Aside from adding rhubarb, I  used a vanilla bean in the batter and added some extract to the crumb, omitted the cinnamon, subbed in more dark brown sugar, subbed in some oats for flour, and browned the butter for the crumb. To ensure large chunks of crumb, I put the mixture in the refrigerator to rest while I made the cake batter.

Makes 1, 9×13 inch, cake.

For the crumb topping:

1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

For the batter:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cups sour cream

1 1/2 heaping cups rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I would do as much as 3 cups in the future)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on 2 sides, and grease well.

Make the crumb in a mixing bowl by stirring together the sugars, salt, and flour. Fold in the browned butter and press the crumb firmly into the bowl before placing in the refrigerator to rest while you prepare the batter.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt for the batter. Place the rhubarb pieces in another bowl and toss with about 1 tablespoon of the dry mix, just to coat lightly. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and the scrapings from the vanilla bean. Beat until the mixture begins to lighten in color and become a bit fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the sour cream and beat until just combined. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down the bowl after each addition and beating until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Scatter the rhubarb over the top of the batter. Grab handfuls of the crumb topping, squishing it in your fist to make large chunks of crumb, and cover the entire cake. Bake the cake for 45-60 minutes (mine took the full 60) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving. Leftover cake can be wrapped well in plastic and stored at room temperature, though I opted to refrigerate the wrapped leftovers. Serve any leftover cake at room temperature.

[/recipe]

 

Meyer Lemon Curd

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
This past summer, right after Casper was born, my mom bought me a couple of plants for the yard–a squat, red Japanese maple, a lilac, and two jasmine plants. It was our first trip out of the house and Casper was only a few days old. I wore him in my Solly wrap and wandered Portland Nursery in what I can only describe as a new-mom-haze–a mixture of emotions running from sentimental, to overwhelmed, to smitten. While we were there I spotted a wee Meyer lemon tree and always the giver, my mom bought it,  potted it, and popped in my house by our back door. It’s a glass slider door that gets a ton of afternoon light and my little citrus has been growing pretty well, I think. It sprouted a few little lemons, to our surprise, but it really won’t bear much fruit for a couple of years. Until then, I will prune the waxy leaves, try to keep Casper from eating the potting soil, and buy my Meyer lemons from the store and turn them into lemon curd until my home-grown citrus dreams come true.

Lemon curd is one if my favorite sweet-tart condiments. Meyer lemons have the faintest flavor of tangerine that balances the tartness, making this curd just a touch sweeter than traditional lemon curds. It’s amazing smeared onto a cream scone or biscuit, prefect In a pastry shell, and delicious with shortbread cookies. Next week I’ll be posting a frozen treat I swirled with this curd, so stay tuned!!

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Meyer Lemon Curd

about 2 cups curd

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

6 egg yolks

3/4 cup fresh meyer lemon juice (about 5 lemons)

zest of 1 meyer lemon

In a saucepan combine all of the ingredients, whisk to break up the eggs. Set the pan over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. The curd is thick enough when it coats a spoon so when you run a finger over the back of the spoon the curd doesn’t run back together. Remove from the heat and scrape the curd into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and press it through to sieve out the zest. Pour the curd into a heatproof jar to cool. Cover and store the cooled curd in the refrigerator for 1 week.

[/recipe]