So here’s what a day off looks like–a day off nearing the second half of June where I try to squeeze in way too many things because I know I won’t have another leisurely day in awhile. Is that what you do on your days off? Oy.
There was a double espresso with almond milk, my favorite yoga class, and plenty of ball with Noel:
There were also drop biscuits to make. Whole wheat drop biscuits from Good to the Grain to be more specific. There were also strawberries to wash and slice. My sister’s boyfriend flew in tonight from Philly and I wanted to make dessert but didn’t have much time. Solution: drop biscuits with strawberries and cream.
After making the biscuits and prepping the berries, I hopped on the ferry to meet with some folks about a writing job in the city. I actually missed my first ferry and was late to my meeting but that’s a different story altogether–one involving sweat, racing down Market St. for blocks in ballet flats, and frizzy hair. But back to the ferry and the not-so-shabby views:
Off I went. My meeting rocked. And I raced back down to The Ferry Building to have a glass of wine with my old friend Katie. She’s awesome and it was happy hour. What’s better than that? Then back home (but first, I actually missed my second ferry. Yes, it was a stellar day of transportation for me) to a big dinner around the table with family, Zoe’s new boyfriend, a gaggle of dogs, fresh flowers, a few mosquitos, and a damn fine dessert. Here you have it. I hope you have a lovely June weekend.
Now remember my last post— how I sung the praises of the slump for all its simplicity and ease? Well, this tops the slump in that regard. These drop biscuits are unbelievably simple and versatile. They’re slightly crumbly, surprisingly light, and only subtly sweet. Once you get the biscuits in the oven, you can literally whip this dessert up as people finish the dishes and make coffee and tea. It’s that easy (and I’m not one of those people that likes to whip much of anything up last minute. But this is the recipe that’s changed me for good).
Putting it Together:
Preheat oven to 325 F and rub a baking sheet lightly with butter. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter.
Add the heavy cream and stir using your hands or a fork until the dough just comes together. Don’t over mix: the dough is supposed to be shaggy. On the baking sheet, pile the dough into six mounds, leaving 3-4 inches between them. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. sugar for dusting. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the tops just begin to brown.
While the biscuits are baking, place the berries in a bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp. sugar. Allow them to sit and release their juices, uncovered, for 30 minutes (or until the biscuits are done). Meanwhile, whip the remaining cup of cream into soft peaks. Add 1 tsp. of sugar if you like your whipped cream sweetened.
When the biscuits are out of the oven, fill each bowl with a generous spoonful of berries, cream, and arrange a warm biscuit alongside.
It turns out that returning from a sunny honeymoon to a rather rainy, dark stretch of Seattle fall hasn't been the easiest transition. Sam and I have been struggling a little to find our groove with work projects and even simple routines like cooking meals for one another and getting out of the easy daily ruts that can happen to us all. When we were traveling, we made some new vows to each other -- ways we can keep the fall and winter from feeling a bit gloomy, as tends to happen at a certain point living in the Pacific Northwest (for me, at least): from weekly wine tastings at our neighborhood wine shop to going on more lake walks. And I suppose that's one of the most energizing and invigorating parts about travel, isn't it? The opposite of the daily rut: the constant newness and discovery around every corner. One of my favorite small moments in Italy took place at a cafe in Naples when I accidentally ordered the wrong pastry and, instead, was brought this funny looking cousin of a croissant. We had a wonderfully sunny little table with strong cappuccino, and, disappointed by my lack of ordering prowess, I tried the ugly pastry only to discover my new favorite treat of all time (and the only one I can't pronounce): the sfogliatelle. I couldn't stop talking about this pastry, its thick flaky layers wrapped around a light, citrus-flecked sweet ricotta filling. It was like nothing I'd ever tried -- the perfect marriage of interesting textures and flavors. I became a woman obsessed. I began to see them displayed on every street corner; I researched their origin back at the hotel room, and started to look up recipes for how to recreate them at home. And the reason for the fascination was obviously that they were delicious. But even more: I'm so immersed in the food writing world that I rarely get a chance to discover a dish or a restaurant on my own without hearing tell of it first. And while a long way away from that Italian cafe, I had a similar feeling this week as I scanned the pages of Alice Medrich's new book, Flavor Flours, and baked up a loaf of her beautiful fall pumpkin loaf: Discovery, newness, delight!
I always force myself to wait until after Halloween to start thinking much about holiday pies or, really, future holidays in general. But this year I cheated a bit, tempted heavily by the lure of a warmly-spiced sweet potato pie that I used to make back when I baked pies for a living in the Bay Area (way back when). We seem to always have sweet potatoes around as they're one of Oliver's favorite foods, and when I roast them for his lunch I've been wishing I could turn them into a silky pie instead. So the other day I reserved part of the sweet potatoes for me. For a pie that I've made hundreds of times in the past, this time reimagined with fragrant brown butter, sweetened solely with maple syrup, and baked into a flaky kamut crust. We haven't started talking about the Thanksgiving menu yet this year, but I know one thing for sure: this sweet potato pie will make an appearance.
This time last week I was up in the Skagit River Valley sitting in the early fall sun eating wood-fired bagels and chatting with farmers, millers and bakers at the Kneading Conference West. I made homemade soba noodles, learned the ins and outs of sourdough starters, and sat in on a session where we tasted crackers baked with single varietal wheats. It was like wine tasting, but with wheat and the whole time I kept pinching myself, thinking: THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! I don't get the opportunity to be a student much these days -- usually on the other side of things teaching cooking classes or educating people at the farmers markets about whole grains and natural sugars. So to just sit and listen with a fresh (red!) notebook and a new pen was surprisingly refreshing. I miss it already. Thankfully, this cookie recipe has come back as a memorable souvenir, and one that is sure to be in high rotation in our house in the coming months.
Strolling New York City streets during the height of fall when all the leaves are changing and golden light glints off the brownstone windows. This is what I envisioned when I bought tickets to attend my cousin's September wedding earlier this month: Sam and I would extend the trip for a good day or two so we could experience a little bit of fall in the city. We'd finally eat at Prune and have scones and coffee at Buvette, as we always do. Sam wanted to take me to Russ and Daughters, and we'd try to sneak in a new bakery or ice cream shop for good measure. Well, as some of you likely know, my thinking on the weather was premature. New York City fall had yet to descend and, instead, we ambled around the city in a mix of humidity and rain. When we returned home I found myself excited about the crisp evening air, and the fact that the tree across the street had turned a rusty shade of amber. It was time to do a little baking.
I am writing this on Saturday afternoon on a day when we had big plans to conquer pre-baby chore lists, but Sam's not feeling great and my energy's a little low so it hasn't been quite what we'd envisioned. My goals for the morning were to repot a house plant and make some soup and I've done neither. I will say that the sweet potato and fennel are still sitting on the counter eagerly awaiting their Big Moment -- it just hasn't come about quite yet. Sam and I were both going to attempt to install the carseat, but it started to look really daunting so we abandoned ship; it's now sitting proudly in the basement, also eagerly awaiting its Big Moment. So it's been one of those weekends -- the kind you look back on and wonder what it is you actually accomplished. At the very least, I get the chance to tell you about this hearty cranberry cornbread. I know maybe it feels premature in the season for cranberry recipes, but hang with me here: slathered with a little soft butter and runny honey, there's nothing I'd rather eat right now on the cool, crisp Seattle mornings we've been having lately.