lemon lavender farmer’s cheese pie

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I am a pie person.  I would make pies all day over cake hands down.  Cakes are pretty and delicate, like your friend who doesn’t leave the house without blow drying their hair and always has their nails painted.  Pies are like your friend who wears pony tails and whenever they paint their nails they chip in two seconds anyway so they gave up doing that (me).

Last summer, and probably the summer before, I was making lots of pies and one time I got a really bad burn that gave me a good scare.  I didn’t have pie weights or dried beans and instead thought I would just put a small pot on top of the crust. All good but when it was time to take the pie out I totally forgot that the pot had been in the oven and I just picked it up, and obviously dropped it right away, and then I freaked out for about an hour.  I was home alone but my neighbor who happened to be in nursing school came up and basically told me I was okay I just had a bad burn (it felt a lot worse) and I did all that he said.  And then I still took my pie and went to my party and just had a couple drinks to numb the pain.  A couple months later my friend who I saw that same night gave me pie weights and a pie case for my birthday!  You live and learn and now I have an awesome pie case that everyone loves.  (I was not scarred by this experience, I will forever be making pies.)  I have another bad pie story, but I think that is enough for today.

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I am indulging in the fact that spring smells so good that I just want to eat flowers so I’ve infused this with lavender.  As for the cheese, it doesn’t really taste like cheese.  Farmer’s cheese is a pretty mild cheese so you can flavor it really nicely and it tastes great with honey.  If you can’t find it you can make it!  (This version is the best but it might take a couple of days – and I am hoping to make some using buttermilk! and post it).

Or use ricotta.

I have also really been liking putting rye flour in my pie dough, and I think it’s a good choice here.  It is a little tougher to work with, so know it isn’t as smooth and elastic.

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Lemon Lavender Farmer’s Cheese Pie

dough:

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

3/4 cup rye flour

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

8 tbsp (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces – plus more for pie pan

3 tbsp ice water (plus extra in case you need more)

splash of apple cider vinegar

pie:

2 cups farmers cheese (or ricotta)

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup honey

3 eggs

1 tbsp edible lavender flower buds

juice and zest half a lemon

-first infuse the milk with the lavender.  pour the milk into a small saucepan and add the lavender.  bring to a boil and then turn off the heat and let it sit until you need to use it.  make sure to stir it a bit too, the milk can get a layer of film if you don’t.

– to make the dough mix the flours with sugar and salt.  i like to keep my chopped butter in the freezer for a minute or two while I get the flour and water ready.  the cold water I also keep in the freezer with an ice cube and a splash of apple cider vinegar already in it.  mix the cold butter pieces into the flour and use a pastry cutter to blend until you have little pea sized butter pieces, make sure not to blend all the butter and make sure it stays cold.  add a tablespoon of water at a time mixing with your hands to form a dough that is not too sticky or to dry.  add more water if too dry and more flour if too wet.  make a flat disk and wrap it in plastic to let it sit in the fridge for at least a hour.

– the crust will be partially pre-baked.  so preheat your oven to 425 degrees and spread butter in a 9-inch pie pan.  roll out the dough and place in the pan leaving some on the edge.  poke a few holes with a fork.  leave it in the fridge until the oven is ready.  fold the edges however you like, here are some options.

– place parchment paper on the crust and place either pie weights or dried beans on top.  bake 15 mins until just slightly golden but not fully cook.  remove and let it cool.  I put mine in the fridge for a bit after it cooled to room temp.

– strain the milk and squeeze out the milk from the lavender buds.  mix the cheese with milk, honey, lemon juice and zest.  mix it well and add the eggs one at a time.  pour into your cooled pie crust and the whole thing can sit in the fridge.

– preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  place the pie on a baking sheet on the middle rack and bake the pie for 35-40 minutes, rotating half way through.

– let it cool for about 2-3 hours before eating.

-juliaradish

rhubarb rose upside down yogurt cake

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New Yorkers love to complain.  In the winter the slightest bit of snow makes everyone freak out and all the schools close. The summers, on the other hand, are too hot and everyone escapes to The Hamptons or Maine (I admit it sucks because there are too many tourists and it smells pretty bad).

Let me tell you what they are complaining about now.  Apparently spring doesn’t last long enough and they keep saying “where is spring?”.  The temperature is between 50-70 most days and we’ve been having a lot of rain. Now everyone likes a good Spring, but when did we (they) get this idea that Spring was a walk in the park?  The earth is literally regrowing itself!  Give it a break.

This morning I woke up to a grey sky again and a dampness in the air that felt like a rainforest and you know what?  It was so beautiful!  That is Spring!  Everyday there is something new, like little presents left out for us every morning, the tress have more leaves and the grass looks greener.  I’m a Spring baby and I embrace the rain and the mess, bring it.

(I do think that some of them mean that soon it will be like 100 degrees because of global warming and they feel Spring is shorter than it used to be.  But they’d probably complain anyway.  Enjoy it while you can!)

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I’ve been a little obsessed with the smells of flowers as of late.  I almost feel intoxicated by them sometimes.  Lilacs are just the best thing ever, they make me feel so good about life.

Rose water is also the bomb and is perfect for spring. I put some in my marinated beets this weekend and it was delightful.  It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I can’t get enough.   I added some rose to this rhubarb cake that I made Tuesday as it was pouring rain outside.  A couple of weeks ago I got quite soaked walking from the train and when I got home it stopped raining, classic, so I made this cake because.  And oh my gosh almond flour cakes are so moist and I think I might even like the texture better than regular flour.  So this cake was my jam and I used that and just adapted a bit. 

Rhubarb is RAD!

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Rhubarb Rose Upside Down Yogurt Cake

5-6 stalks of rhubarb, cut into 2 inch pieces on an angle, and cut in half if really thick

4 tbsp honey

1/2 cup water

1 tsp rose water

2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup rice flour (white, brown or sweet)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

7 tbsp butter, room temperature

1/2 cup honey

1 cup yogurt

3 eggs separated

-heat the honey, water and rose water in a medium saucepan until the honey is dissolved.  add all the rhubarb, or in batches so they aren’t crowded.  cook the rhubarb until slightly soft but not mushy (I did mine too long, it happens quick so watch out!) and strain out.  put to the side.  cook down the liquid some more if you need  so you can use it as a syrup at the end.

-preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

-combine flours, baking powder and salt.  in separate bowl mix the butter with the honey (with a hand mixer or stand mixer).  add the egg yolks and mix well. mix the flour into the butter mixture.

-beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  gently fold in the egg whites and the yogurt and mix well.

-line a spring form pan with parchment paper all the way up the sides.  lay the rhubarb in a nice pattern, better than mine!  a circle is nice, red on the outside and green on the inside is also nice.  pour the cake batter on top.  bake for 50-55 minutes.  let it cool a bit before flipping and removing the spring form.  pour the rest of the rose honey syrup on top!

enjoy! (I had mine with some Early Grey tea, my other new, or renewed, obsession)

sorrel soup

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I just got back from a lovely couple of days in Chicago visiting my parents.  It wasn’t the Bahamas or Iceland but it felt so nice nonetheless.  Anytime we get away from our normal routine it is so refreshing.  I used to come visit and get very anxious to get back to my life in New York and would feel that Chicago was so boring and lame.  But I just welcome it so much now, cuz I’m pretty lame and Chicago is actually pretty cool.  I do love the mid-west, I know mountains and oceans are better but the midwest is special, there is something in the air that floats around and makes you feel ok about yourself.

We celebrated Easter and it was lovely.  Saturday we got our baskets blessed and I made a traditional Polish Easter dessert called mazurek, we died hard boiled eggs and had an array of sandwiches and babkas and cheesecake.  I think Easter is my favorite holiday and I never come to Chicago for it and I’m so glad I did this year.  We also went to the botanical garden and I got some glamour shots of how beautiful nature is!  I wish I was as beautiful as a flower!

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My mother’s garden is also starting to slowly show signs of life.  The nettle and sorrel are the strongest and when I saw the sorrel I got so excited to make sorrel soup!  I tried to make it last year in the summer and it is so hard to find sorrel!  I found some at the farmers market but it would be just small little bundles for a bit too much money for me and only for part of the season.  So I made this great soup yesterday.  It is simple farm food, sorrel is easily found in Europe and a popular ingredient for soup and sauces.  If you can find it here get it and enjoy it, or if you have a garden plant some!  It is a sturdy plant.

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Sorrel Soup

1 small onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp butter

3-4 small potatoes, peeled and diced

6 cups vegetable broth

salt and pepper

1/2 pound or about 6 cups sorrel, chopped

1 cup sour cream

1 tbsp flour

hard boiled eggs, cut into 4ths

parsley or dill for garnish

-heat a stock pot to medium and add 1 tbsp butter.  add the onion and garlic until a bit soft.  add the potato with salt and pepper and cook about 1 minute.  add the broth and bring to a boil.  turn down heat and simmer until potatoes are almost cooked.

-meanwhile heat a skillet to medium and add 1 tbsp butter.  add the sorrel until wilted, it will turn a muddy green.  turn off heat and add the sorrel to the soup.  continue simmering.

– mix the sour cream with flour in a bowl and add about 1/4 cup of broth to the mixture slowly to blend.  add it back to the soup (this helps break the sour cream a bit so it’s not chunky).  simmer a bit, make sure potatoes are cooked.

-add pieces of hard boiled egg into the soup and top with herbs if desired.  season to taste.

-this can also be eaten cold!

-juliaradish

teff carrot cake

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April 12th sounds like a great day to eat carrot cake, right?

It also sounds like a great day to have a birthday, right?

Well I must be lucky because I get both of those today, a birthday and a carrot cake!  (It is also Beverly Cleary’s birthday-she is 100! love her).  And the weather in New York has been goooorrrgeous.  The only downfall is the streets are filled with a ridiculous amount of people again (where do they all come from!!?), but at least my neck of the woods stays pretty chill – except for that new music venue that opened up down the block and then rapper who moved into the old firehouse…..

I always think a birthday cake should be representative of the person whose birthday it is.  Also maybe where they are in their life?  Like when you were 10 and you would get a picture on the cake of your favorite hobby.  I guess as an adult it’s different (or not!) – and it’s more about flavor and texture.

I feel like a carrot cake right now.

I contemplated many versions of carrot cake but when I saw this one in Tartine All Day, as I was browsing cookbooks in a book store, I knew it was the one.  I loved that it used different flours (also teff flour is like a superhero flour) because I think it adds a lot more flavor.  I also liked her description of carrot cake being the birthday cake of choice for youngins in Switzerland and England, I thought how perfect for my 29th birthday, my last bit of childhood before I turn 30 next year.

So now that I have my cake it is time to think about one more year of twenties.  Even though forty is the new thirty I still feel like turning thirty is a big deal.  So…

a list of 29 before I turn thirty (in no particular order):

  1. have nice hair (as in don’t cut my own hair anymore and learn how to style it)
  2. make my bed every morning
  3. understand physics
  4. floss everyday
  5. learn how to use excel spreadsheets (or rather re-learn)
  6. have a better music collection (help!)
  7. pray and meditate everyday
  8. keep in touch with people better
  9. make a perfect poached egg
  10. know the difference between whisky, scotch, bourbon and rye and while we are at it maybe red wine too – know more about red wine?
  11. memorize important phone numbers
  12. have better phone skills and probably overall better communication skills
  13. save for retirement (wow I can’t believe I just wrote that)
  14. master the sewing machine
  15. finish things that I start
  16. do more cardio
  17. figure out what I am doing with my life (AKA-somehow get parents to worry less about me)
  18. wear silk scarves around neck
  19. acquire and use airline miles
  20. read the news more
  21. know more in general
  22. get over fear of driving on the highway
  23. document life better
  24. know how to cook amazing things by heart
  25. be less serious because this list is stressing me out and a woman in my Pilates class called me out on being too serious, but I think she meant it in a good way…
  26. spell better (is it too late for that?)
  27. be stronger
  28. be wiser
  29. be kinder

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Confession.  I don’t remember the last time I made a layer cake, I am more of a pie, tort and flaky stuff kind-of girl.  This is a layer cake.  So I did my best, and hope to get better.  It tastes freakin awesome though!  Also I got a kitchen-aid for my birthday!!!

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It worked like a charm, I love it so much.  I feel a lot spoiled and a little bit more like an adult.

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recipe adapted from here

Teff Carrot Cake

cake:

1 cup sugar

1 cup coconut sugar (or more sugar but coconut tastes good if you can swing it)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup applesauce

1 ld carrots, peeled and grated

1 cup warmed coconut oil, so it is liquid

juice of 1 lemon

1 1/4 cup teff flour

1/2 cup rice flour (sweet is probably best but I think mine was just brown)

1/2 cup oat flour

2 tsp cinnamon

grated nutmeg or 1/4 tsp ground

1/8 tsp ground cardamom

2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

salt

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup toasted and chopped pecans (or walnuts but we like pecans better and it was good)

frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

6 tbsp butter, room temperature

3 cups confectioners sugar

juice 1 lemon

-pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. butter two 9-inch cake pans and put a circle of parchment paper in the bottom.  you can also just use one cake pan and do two rounds.

-beat the eggs and sugar with a hand mixer or a stand mixer until thick and light in color, a couple of minutes.  you want a ribbon of egg when you take the whisk out.  add the applesauce, carrots, coconut oil and lemon and mix well.

-in a separate bowl mix the flours, spices, baking soda and salt.  add the flour to the egg mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.  fold in the coconut and pecans.

-pour half into each cake pan (or save half for next round).  bake about 35-40 minutes.  let the cakes cool about 10 minutes and then invert onto wire racks or plates.  let them cool completely before frosting.

-for frosting, mix butter and cream cheese first in a stand mixer or a hand mixer until well combined and then add confectioner’s sugar and lemon and mix until smooth.  spread frosting on one cake then place the other on top and spread all over.

-enjoy!

honey roasted radishes with polenta and bacon

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My first blog post!  Do people still make blogs…

I had one about 6 years ago (basically forever ago) and abandoned it when I moved to New York.  I wish I had kept it though because I am pretty sure I am more boring now and blogs were still cool then.  I started it after reading Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet and watching Food Inc. – it was the vegan phase of my life.  It was pretty basic and I didn’t tell people about it, but it was ok because I was younger and it didn’t matter.  Now that I am older, there is pressure to not be silly and stupid and try new things.  But being older also means you don’t care as much and you do things for yourself.  So here’s to me!

I start with the radish as a radish should.  And on a Sunday.  Well this was made on a Saturday actually.  It was a lovely Spring day and people were outside!  The farmer’s market had more tourists and gawkers, but no radishes yet.  There were also people running in the streets and after drinking coffee for the first time in 2 months I climbed out of my shell and went running too.  The last time I went running it was the end of fall and I was really sore after and I’m pretty sure I got laryngitis from it.  Yesterday I wore two unnecessary layers of pants and I had to take one pair off and hide them behind a pole and keep checking they were still there every time I ran around the track.  And I was that weirdo doing GYROKINESIS® on the side, hiiiiiii!

So radishes.

I grew up eating radishes with just salt.  After my mother would chop off the ends, I would sprinkle some salt (to cut the spiciness) and then take a bite and then take another bite and repeat.  A whole bowl would be eaten in this manner.  The second way was on bread with cream cheese, just thin slices.  I later realized butter was the more sophisticated (French) way and now I do that as well, but cream cheese is still pretty rad.

Then there is the roasted radish.  I really didn’t like the thought of it at first, I like my radishes with a crunch and a spiciness.  When you roast them they become something completely different.  But I like them this way a lot.  I like them with honey and bacon and polenta.  Yes it was very good.

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Roasted Radishes with Polenta and Bacon

4 cups water

1 cup polenta (or cornmeal – not instant)

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp unsalted butter

2 bunches radishes with greens

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

half of 1 lemon

6 slices thick bacon

-boil the water with salt in a medium pot.  slowly pour in the polenta as you stir with a whisk.  keep stirring for a couple minutes.  turn the heat to low and cover the pot.  stir every 10 minutes for about a minute.  do this for about 45 minutes until creamy, then add the butter.  keep it covered if not using right away about 20 minutes, after that it will solidify and not be as creamy!

-meanwhile preheat the oven to 425 degrees and clean the radishes and greens and let them dry a bit.  chop off the greens and save them.  cut the radishes in half or in quarters if they are big.  toss the radishes with the honey and oil and season with salt and pepper.  pour into a baking dish and squeeze lemon juice on top.  roast for about 15 minutes, until radishes are softened and starting to brown.  season with more salt and pepper if need.

-heat a medium skillet and add the bacon, cook until crispy, about 10 minutes.  remove the bacon and some of the grease if there is too much and add the radish top greens until softened.

-serve polenta with the greens, bacon and radishes on top.

-julia radish