Monthly Archives: September 2011

Do You Know…

Exhibit A

Does anyone know what I’m talking about when I say “fried dough”? Around these parts, people respond, “You mean funnel cake?” No. I don’t mean funnel cake. If I MEANT funnel cake I would have SAID funnel cake.

…I don’t have many friends.

In any case, I mean fried dough. Literally a slab of dough, fried, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. I have walked street fairs and ballparks in search of this summer treat with no such luck. Is this a Rochester thing, like white hots and Wegmans? Does it exist in New York City? Can anybody help me?!

Seriously, if you know of an establishment in New York City that sells fried dough, lay it on me. I’ll send you a nice little thank you in the mail if you do.

Note: ironically, my favorite Christmas cookies are Struffoli, tiny balls of fried dough, drenched in honey. My favorite breakfast treat is a donut, fried dough shaped in a ring and sprinkled with sugar. Maybe I have a sickness… 
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Brown Butter Blueberry Plum Cake


I won’t bore you with the mundane details of my personal life (of which most of you are probably privy to anyway) but I am in between jobs at the moment. Literally just the moment, but I’m smack in the middle of three days of unemployed bliss. Until I start my new job on Thursday, I’m trying to be slightly more productive than watching television and packing the occasional box for my apartment move in 2 1/2 weeks. Did I mention BIG things are happening in my life?

So today I decided to take a break from TV and napping to bake this gorgeous cake I found on Figs, Bay and Wine. The afternoon seemed like the perfect time to take advantage of the natural light that makes my photos their prettiest.

On the menu:
Blueberry plum cake
Adapted from the wild bramble cake on Figs, Bay and Wine

4 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon (I realized mid-recipe that I forgot the lemon, so I substituted 1 tsp lemon extract)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (feel free to substitute raspberries, blackberries, etc here)
2 small plums, skin on, pitted and sliced to 1/4 inch thick

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Shake out any excess flour.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is completely melted and starts to froth. WATCH THE BUTTER CLOSELY. Once the small white particles start to turn a light brown and the mixture smells nutty, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. Let the butter cool for at least 15 minutes before you continue with the next step in the recipe. I used this time to prep the fruit!

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, blend together eggs and sugar with an electric mixer for around 3 minutes or until the mixture is thickened a bit and light colored. Add brown butter, olive oil, milk, vanilla, and zest until completely blended.

Fold liquid mixture into flour mixture JUST until moistened and combined. Do not overmix. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.

Fold in blueberries. Pour into springform pan, spread with a spatula so the batter fills the pan, and top with slices of plum. You may have to press down a bit on the plum slices so they’re not just chillin’ on top of the batter.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean and the top of the cake is browned. Let cool in the springform pan for 10 minutes. Remove the springform and let cool completely.

*Note: I know this is a “cake” and it has “sugar” in it, but how lovely would this be served at a brunch with some freshly whipped cream served alongside baked eggs? Lovely indeed, I think.

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Search for the Best Brownies


In the past few years I’ve developed a real disdain for anything pre-packaged and sold in the store that I can cook or bake at home. If anyone tells you a story about me yelling out “LITTLE DEBBIE!” in a demonic voice in the grocery store as if Twinkies were my lifeblood… well… that’s a lie.

YOU CAN’T MAKE A TWINKIE AT HOME PEOPLE IT’S HARD.

Ahem.

As I was saying, if I can make it from scratch, I try. Cakes, mayonnaise, salad dressing, pie crust, tomato sauce. But some things just don’t taste the same as store bought. Like brownies. Few things taste as ooey-gooey delicious as brownies from the box. “You had brownie mix?!” the BF exclaimed Sunday night. “No… I made these from scratch.” Crestfallen. “Oh.”

But it’s true. They are not the same. And it is my eternal challenge to find a homemade brownie that tastes the same (or dare I say, better?) than a boxed brownie. The below recipe is as close as I’ve ever gotten. While not quite Duncan Hines, these babies are gooooo-ood, and they disappeared into happy bellies in a matter of minutes.

On the menu:
Lauren’s Almost-from-a-box-but-not-quite brownies

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together vegetable oil, white sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix well until incorporated. Pour batter into greased 8 x 8 baking dish.

Bake for 20 – 27 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.

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Cacio e Pepe

Someone recently asked for more commentary in my posts. This person may or may not The BF. No matter. A reader’s wish is my command!

One Saturday night I met my friend Celeste for dinner and we had no reservations. I don’t know if people outside of New York City realize what this means, but here in the Big Apple, that is dinner suicide. So we popped from restaurant to restaurant, hoping for an opening somewhere and finding nothing, except for Matthew Broderick at Morandi in the West Village. I bet Ferris Bueller doesn’t need a rez.

So finally, both of us having later plans, we found a little Italian spot and sat at the bar with glasses of wine and bowls of pasta and I tasted, for the first time ever, cacio e pepe. Let me break it down for ya: it’s noodles with butter, cheese, and pepper. It’s not rocket science. But holy… holy mackerel. I became obsessed.

So tonight I needed a little bit of my favorite. That… and I’m poor and had all the ingredients in my fridge. Hey rustic Italian!

On the menu:
Cacio e pepe
Serves 2 (…or 1)

6 oz. thin spaghetti
3 Tbsp butter, divided
2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated (WARNING: do not use the already-grated cheese you buy in a green shaker – that’s gross)

Boil salted water for pasta. In a non-stick pan, melt 2 Tbsp of butter. Add pepper and stir constantly for one minute. Add half a cup of pasta water to the pan and bring heat to a simmer. Once at a simmer, reduce heat to low and add cooked pasta. Add remaining tablespoon of butter and cheese and toss together with tongs until a thick sauce is formed, about 7 minutes.

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