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.
Early Fall Baking
Last weekend we went apple picking up near Yakima, a good three hours east of Seattle. We drove over to Harmony Orchards with our friends Brandi and John and met up with many other groups and families to amble about the rows and rows of apples in the unusually warm sun. We missed the annual picking last year as we were on our honeymoon, but the previous year was the one in which we made the colossal mistake of picking over 70 pounds of apples. I've never made so much applesauce in my life. This year we practiced restraint in bringing home a cool 38 pounds and after getting them all situated in the basement, I started to leaf through a few cookbooks looking for a great apple recipe -- something, preferably, that used quite a few apples, wasn't too sweet and could double as breakfast or dessert (really, the best kind of recipe). And that's exactly what we have in these Custardy Apple Squares.
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 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.
I rarely make muffins at home and never order one when I'm out and about as I find they're often far too sweet and never truly that satisfying. I realize, too, in looking back at my cookbook that there's only one muffin recipe throughout. Case in point: I'm tentative on muffins. But not these. We've been pretty thrilled to have this healthier version of Morning Glory muffins on the counter this week; they have little bits of apple, raisins, walnuts, and grated carrot and are cloaked in a buttery oat crumble topping -- quite the opposite of your boring coffeeshop fare. I thought long and hard about doing a Valentine's post, some festive cookie or confection that would be share-worthy this weekend, but the more we talked about what our weekend would really look like, it involved something special for breakfast instead. I don't remember the last time a Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday, so we have big plans to have breakfast in bed and if your plans are even remotely similar, these muffins would be a fine inclusion.
I generally work on weekends. It's something I've come to terms with only because I know it won't last forever. I write. I bake. But those two things don't always pay the bills, so I work retail on the weekends and dream of the day when I'll have a Sunday like this one: