There is something about home that is indescribable. We haven’t finished purchasing all the things we need for our new apartment yet, like shoe racks and lamps and soap dispensers. But still, this place feels more like home than any place I’ve lived in a long time. We picked the curtains and the plants, our art is hanging on all the walls, and I have all of my kitchen appliances in one place – no boxes, no storage, no knowing that one day I’m going to have to go through all these cookbooks to figure out what belongs to whom. Nope – it’s all ours.
And now that we have a table and enough chairs for a few extra bums to sit in, all I want is to have people over all the time. We’ve been pretty successful so far – having people over almost twice a week since we’ve moved in. It has reinforced my love of cooking for people, of making an excuse to get together. But why should we need an excuse? Isn’t good company enough? Add to that a home cooked meal and a bottle of wine and how could anyone turn you down? I feel lucky that we’ve gathered a little community who feels the same way, that there’s no better reason to be together other than it’s been a few days since we’ve last seen each other.
It helps that it’s spring – dusk drags its feet a little more each day, the tulips on our walkway have come and mostly gone at this point, and they’ve put up the annual rosé wine display at the local grocery store. It’s the time of year when people come out of hibernation, itching to wear their short sleeves and dig out their sunglasses, ready to get their hands dirty in the garden (we’re hoping to plant ours this weekend), antsy to go on evening strolls. For me spring means always having a pound of rhubarb in the fridge, ready to roast into a compote for topping ice cream or simmer into a syrup for mixing into cocktails or slice and bake into a galette. I would do the same if I were you.
I have been wanting to make this recipe for a few weeks now. You see, it was a few weeks ago that New Seasons, my local (and great) grocery store had a citrus tasting over the weekend, and they lined up all these samples of all this crazy citrus, some of which I’d never seen before, and let you eat all of it, and encouraged you to take pictures so you could remember what you liked. Anyway, they had yuzu, which I had been itching to use, and these wonderful bergamot oranges, and sweet oro blanco grapefruits. I loved it.
Fast forward a week to when I think of this recipe and run to the store, and they’re out of yuzu, which is what I had initially wanted to use instead of meyer lemon. A few days later, they had run out of bergamot oranges, which was my plan B. So after a few days of disappointment, I realized – you know that whole lemon saying? Well, life gives you lemons and life taketh those lemons away. Point is, you can use whatever citrus you can access. The meyer lemons are bright and sweet. The yuzu would’ve been earthy and mellow. The bergamot oranges would’ve been herbaceous and mild. No matter. All would work equally well, I’m sure.
When I finally did get around to making this bread, I made it as a dessert to take to the coast for a girls’ weekend. We ate it for dessert with some port. But it tasted just as good, if not better, the next morning with a cup of tea, as we watched the rain stream down sideways outside. It’s a cake that will remind you that there is sunshine and brightness, even if it’s on your tongue instead of out the window.
Citrus Cardamom Pound Cake
Makes 1 loaf
2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup greek yogurt (normal yogurt will work fine)
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs at room tempterature
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbl Meyer lemon zest (from ~1 large meyer lemon)
2 Tbl Meyer lemon juice (from ~1 large meyer lemon), divided
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Butter and flour a bread pan, and preheat your oven to 350°. Sift flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt into a bowl. Whisk to combine, and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together milk and yogurt, and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high until it’s light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition. Then add vanilla, lemon zest, and 1 Tbl lemon juice. Mix to combine.
Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and top with the sliced almonds. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until it passes the clean toothpick/knife test.
While the cake is in the oven, make the glaze: whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. When the cake is done baking, let it cool in the pan for 10 min. Gently remove from pan and put on a cooling rack over a pan or some parchment paper. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, and allow to cool the rest of the way. Enjoy with a cup of tea or a glass of milk.
During the holiday season, all I want to do is make cookies. All of the cookie recipes I’ve been eyeing throughout the year, this seems like the time to make them. I want chocolate cookies, I want mint crinkles, I want pecan shortbreads, I want soft sugar cookies decorated with frosting designs, I want ginger snaps. Maybe this is why I always add a layer this time of year? Maybe.
I recently bought a bottle of rosewater (mostly because there’s this dish in Jerusalem (the cookbook)- swordfish with harissa and rose – that I had once and I’ve been wanting to make it again), and it had been sitting on my pantry shelf, looking pretty but also lonely. And then I came across this recipe for “Pistachio Rosewater Snowball Cookies” in the latest issue of Kinfolk Magazine. They sounded like a beautiful twist on what some people call Mexican wedding cookies or Russian Tea Cakes or any other number of cookies: nutty with pistachio, and aromatic and floral from the cardamom and rose.
After making the recipe from Kinfolk, I made a few small changes to the recipe, and I wanted to share them with you. I thought the original was a little heavy on the rosewater, and a little light on the cardamom (though my roommates and Jonah really enjoyed them as they were). They’re buttery and crumbly. They’re sweet but with a unique flavor with them. And they smell beautiful.
Pistachio Rosewater Tea Cakes
Note: I found rosewater with the cocktail mixers at my local grocery store. It might also be in with the extracts in the baking aisle. If not, you can find it online.
Second note: Before you invest in making this recipe, you should definitely read through this recipe, and know that 1) pistachios are pricey, especially if you buy them already shelled and 2) there is a lot of kind of annoying pistachio prep. You’ve been warned.
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
2 cups plus 2 Tbl all purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 cup (2 sticks) butter unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 tsp rosewater
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment, or butter them.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and blanch the pistachios for 1 minute. Drain them, and place them on a clean dish towel. Fold the dish towel over the pistachios and rub off the skins. (There may be some stubborn ones that you need to peel off.) Spread them in a small baking dish and roast them in the oven until they’re just dry, about 8 minutes. Set them aside and allow them to cool. When they are cool, pulse in a food processor or blender until they’re finely ground, but definitely not a paste. Transfer them to a small mixing bowl and whisk together with the flour, cardamom, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 1 cup of the powdered sugar and the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the rosewater, and mix it in. With the mixer on low, add in the pistachio flour mixture and mix just until a dough forms, scarping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Roll the dough into 1-1.5 inch balls. Arrange at least 1 inch apart on the pan, and bake until they’re just golden on the bottom, ~20 minutes (mine took a little less). While the cookies are baking, pour the remaining cup of powdered sugar into a wide bowl. Remove the cookies from the oven, allow them to cool from a minute or two, and when they’re cool enough to handle, roll them in the powdered sugar. Allow to cool the rest of the way on a wire race.
I’ve been wanting to make this apricot foldover pie for a few weeks now. I’ve been dreaming about how soft the apricots will get, and how homey and rustic the crust will taste with whole wheat pastry flour. And yesterday was the perfect excuse, as it was Jonah’s last night before he left for 2 weeks in Europe for work. Hard life he leads, that guy.
So he heads to work, I whip up the dough and throw it in the fridge to chill before running to the store to pick up fruit. I found the most tender apricots and the juiciest raspberries to use for this pie. In fact, I couldn’t help myself and ate a couple raspberries on the approximately 2 minute drive back to my house.
I cut up the fruit and mix up the filling. All is going well until I try to start rolling out the dough. I was working up a sweat, I kid you not. It’s so tough, and it’s starting to get huge – way bigger than needed to fill the pie dish with some overhang. But no matter, I drape it into the pie dish, pour in the filling, and then start folding up the edges. As I’m folding it all up, I realize how thick the crust is despite having rolled it out to be far bigger than necessary. I knew something must be wrong. I go back to check the recipe, and there is my glaring mistake. I misread 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour for 1 1/2 cups. So, you know, I basically doubled the flour.
At this point, I have to leave for work in about 40 minutes. What else could I do? I dump the filling back into the mixing bowl, toss the original crust, and start from square 1. Instead of chilling the dough for the prescribed 30 minutes, I stuck mine in the freezer for about 5. Rolled it out, filled it up, and threw it in the oven, asking my roommate Sophie to take it out when the timer beeped.
And it came out beautifully. Rustic, perfectly golden, all that. I can only imagine what a disaster it would’ve been trying to eat that crust if I hadn’t discovered my mistake and started over. But there you have it. It all works out in the end. And everyone makes mistakes.
Apricot Foldover Pie
Note: I like cardamom. A lot. So I used 1/2 tsp of it. However, it is a strong flavor. I suggest smelling it, and seeing if it’s something you would like lots of or a little of, and then add either 1/4 or 1/2 tsp based on your whiff.
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbl sugar
12 Tbl (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/4 cup ice water, plus a few Tbl if needed
7-8 cups apricots, pitted and quartered (a little over 2 lbs)
1-2 cups raspberries (optional, though if you aren’t using raspberries, you’ll want to use more apricots)
1/3-2/3 cup sugar, plus 1 Tbl
3 Tbl AP flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4-1/2 tsp cardamom
2 Tbl unsalted butter, melted
To make the dough, mix the flours, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Add the chunks of butter, and cut them in with a pastry knife. You can also use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment (that’s what I did) or a food processor. Blend until the butter is roughly the size of uncooked chickpeas. In a separate small bowl, mix the egg yolk, vinegar, and 1/4 cup of ice water. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture 2 Tbl at a time, until the dough starts to come together. If you need to add extra ice water, do so 1 Tbl at a time. Make the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to two days.
When the dough is fully chilled, start to preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Taste a slice of your apricots – if they are sweet, use 1/3 cup sugar, if they’re less sweet add a little more. In a large bowl, toss the quartered apricots, raspberries, sugar, flour, and spices together. Set aside.
Roll the chilled dough out into a circle about 1/8 of an inch thick. Transfer it into a 9-inch pie plate, leaving the edges of dough hanging over the plate (you’ll have lots of excess dough, don’t trim it unless you are just aiming for a more even appearance). Pour the fruit into the pie crust, and gently fold the excess dough over the top of the fruit. Brush the dough with the melted butter, pouring any extra into the fruit. Sprinkle the dough with about 1 Tbl of sugar.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and set the pie plate on the sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 450, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees F. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown at the edges and the fruit is bubbling. Allow to cool before serving with some fresh whipped cream.