Monday, July 20, 2015

Honey Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Roasted Peach Ripple

Here is the story of the things we gathered, told through ingredients and time. All those days we spent in the garden, my head on your stomach, my hand in your hand. How time was slow and sweet like honey and the bees hummed and the peaches fell from their branches and bruised all around us and how we devoured them despite. We spent our summers there, in the garden; eating fruit like kings and queens, drinking riverwater like fine wine. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Lemon Vanilla Bean Cake with Lilac Meringue Buttercream // On Memories

Let me tell you about the nature of things; how memory is a fruit both bruised and sweet. How the trees of the mind tremble; how they first bear buds then blossoms then arms with which to embrace the sun and how the arms grow heavy with it, how their heads bow, heavy with light. 
And you wouldn't think we were built to bear such opposites, but we are and we do. We bear the light, all that unraveling. Arms, branches; bare limbs etched into blue sky. The fruit is bruised but it tastes sweet, like honey, like rainwater, like amor fati. 
You remember the moment and the moment remembers you and you are here. The trees, how they tremble, they take you in their arms, they whisper, You are here, you are here, you are home. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Italian Meringue Buttercream

To take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it.

(Li-Young Lee)

Just when I was beginning to have my doubts, they came back. The cherry blossoms, I mean. The sky was sodden and grey, and then, suddenly, all aching blue. All trembling limbs etched into bare skies. I stood on the roadside, collecting them by the armful, and, for a moment, I saw myself. I saw myself, standing under the branches, all swelling with fruit. So much of it fallen, bruised and black and blue, but so much of it sweet. And it was sweet; the having of it, the holding it in my hands. The peeling away of layers. The pit, the heart. The baring of teeth.

And, all the flowers, they're gone now. The streets were covered for days, before the rain came and  restored in me a truth that I had forgotten; beauty and sorrow, they are one in the same. Beauty and sorrow and sorrow and beauty and the forever becoming of the other. The embracing of both, not as separate states of being, but as one. 

And during spring, it's not hard to beauty. It's not hard to fall in love every time you turn the corner, at the sight of every bud, every blossom. What's hard is finding beauty in all the times in between, all those times when beauty can't be collected by the literal armful. When the world isn't peeling itself open, and you, in turn, have to open yourself. That's when you really need the poetry that is the cherry tree shaking its' fists, that is the unceremonious rain.

I've these had moments before; moments of poetry. Of beauty and sorrow and the world become. But there have only been so few in my time, and they are, most often, ephemeral. Most often, no more than a glimpse, in which I am met by the eyes of the universe and therein met by my own. The moment acts as a mirror, and I see all the parts of myself that I have given and all the times the universe has thanked me in return. All the times I've survived the fall, the rolling, the bruising. All the times it's been sweet. And I'm grateful. I'm grateful for the interminable passage that was, that is, my past, and that I'm able to be inspired by it each day. I'm grateful for the present moment, the only moment, that allows me to actively embrace beauty and sorrow and poetry. And poetry. I'm thankful for the poetry, even when the poem splits open. Even when it bares teeth. 

Especially when it bares teeth.

My original intent with these cherry blossoms was to boil them down to a simple syrup, but I'm saving that for another day, sometime soon. Instead you get this cake, made in lieu of spring. Which is, arguably, not as exciting, but still good.

This recipe is everything you'd want from a quotidian carrot cake; sweet, moist, and simple. The only difference between this and what would be deemed traditional is that maple syrup is the main sweetener, rather than brown sugar. It renders a rich and earthy flavor alongside the carrots, while ensuring that the cake is not too sweet. The frosting is a bit more tedious than regular buttercream, but it's well worth the effort. It starts with a base of meringue, into which boiling maple syrup is poured and then whipped to into wonderful layers of soft, creamy peaks. It's to die for, really. If I were you, I'd bake my cake layers a day ahead, freeze them overnight, and then frost them just before serving. 


Maple Carrot Cake
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1 pound carrots (about 6 large carrots), finely grated
  • 3 eggs, room temp.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • scant 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°f. Prepare two 9" pans or three 6" pans, by lining the bottoms and sides with parchment paper, and then lightly greasing it over.

In a medium bowl, carefully whisk together the first six ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice). In a large, separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients (grated carrots, eggs, sugar, maple syrup, vegetable oil, buttermilk, and vanilla, until thoroughly combined.

Little by little, mix the dry ingredients into the wet, making sure that everything is well incorporated. Distribute the batter evenly between the baking pans, about 3/4 of the way full, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. When done, allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, before inverting out of the pans and allowing to cool completely. 

Maple Cream Cheese Italian Meringue Buttercream
  • 2 egg whites, room temp
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. superfine sugar
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temp & cut into small chunks
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temp (add up to 4 oz. more for a tangier, more prominent flavor)
In a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, bring the maple syrup to a gentle boil. Do not cover or stir. While you are waiting for it to reach the correct temperature, begin to make your meringue. (Keep the syrup in the back of your mind, lest you forget and it begins to harden.)

Make sure the bowl of your stand mixer is completely grease and residue free. Using the whisk attachment on medium, bring together the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt, until they begin to form soft peaks. Gently shake in the sugar while the mixer is running, and whisk on high until they just hold stiff peaks. 

Turn your attention back to the maple syrup, which should now be at a rolling boil. Continue boiling until the candy thermometer reads 240°f. Immediately remove the syrup from the heat, and trickle it down the side of the stand mixer bowl while you are simultaneously beating the meringue on high. Add in the vanilla and cinnamon (is using), and continue beating for another ~10 minutes, or until the mixture is cool to the touch, brought back down to room temperature. (You're about to add in the butter, and if it's not cool enough, the butter will melt and become soupy. If this happens, throw the whole bowl into the freezer for a few minutes, and then proceed.)

One bit at a time, beat in the butter, making sure it is well incorporated. If the mixture begins to look lumpy or curdled, just continue beating and it should come together. Do the same for the cream cheese, adding it in chunks, until the frosting is creamy and combined. 

Keep in a covered container for up to a week. If it separates, simply beat again for a few minutes or until revived