I am firmly of the belief that cinnamon is an anytime-of-the-year spice. But fall and winter, truly, is where it shines. Cinnamon warms you from the inside out. The scent alone feels like a cozy night in front of a fireplace — it’s the culinary equivalent of a firm hug. Last year, with temperatures hovering in the 60s and 70s here in NYC, it hardly seemed necessary. But in 2016, December feels like December, it’s cold and windy and cloudy, and along with all the cheese I want to put on everything, and all the chocolate I want to consume, I want to add cinnamon to every single thing I touch. These cinnamon apple oatmeal scones hit that craving perfectly. Continue reading →
Three blueberry recipes in a row?? I know, I’m a little obsessed. I swear I tried to make something else, but it was a disaster, and needs some work, and I bought more blueberries that tasted like candy, and I haven’t made scones in a while and damnit, this recipe is genius. No beating around the blueberry bush. This recipe needs no long-winded introduction because these gorgeous, tall triangles dotted with sweet bursts of fruit are simply the best blueberry scones I’ve ever tasted. Continue reading →
On a kind of whim, the fella and I decided late last week to book a trip to Asbury Park. Just a three-day getaway before summer gets away from us in the heady and hectic drifts of wedding planning and prep. We had wanted to go for the weekend, but our favorite bed and breakfast, the Asbury Park Inn, booked up before we had solidified our plans — as of course it would on a summer weekend. Thankfully, though, there was a room open for a Sunday to Tuesday visit. Perfect: the summer solstice was meant to be celebrated on the beach. But, of course, each day we were there, we didn’t get our feet on the sand until late. Each morning we spent lazing on the porch on Asbury Ave, drinking cups of rich Asbury Roastery coffee, chatting with Kate and holding/playing with her beautiful, happy, always-smiling baby girl Lucy, and slowly making sure we got through as many of Kate’s delicious treats as we could fit in our bellies before we shamelessly exposed them on the beach.
What do you picture when you imagine a perfect vacation? Is there an ocean? Good food? Beautiful running paths? Amazing music? Your favorite person? For me, it is all of the above. We (re)discovered Asbury Park, NJ — a short train ride from NYC — a few years ago, and it quickly became our go-to destination for summer holidays and birthdays and I-just-want-to-go-to-the-beach-days. Two years ago, we treated ourselves for our anniversary with a stay at the Asbury Park Inn, a lovely bed and breakfast just three short blocks from our favorite part of the beach. To say that Kate, the co-proprietor with husband Joe, is a genius in the kitchen, would be an understatement. Each of our two mornings she cooked us a feast: amazingly creamy eggs with mozzarella, avocado, and tomato; peach and thyme breakfast cobbler; coconut chocolate chunk scones. That first morning, when Kate obliged me after I couldn’t make up my mind about which one thing to order, I think I waddled to the beach, with zero regrets. Continue reading →
Nothing says summer — even if it’s still technically spring — like fresh, sweet, red strawberries. I was trying very hard to wait to make these until I could get to the Union Square Greenmarket, where, I hear, strawberries are starting to line the tables. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t wait any longer. When I found juicy, fragrant strawberries at my local organic market, even if they were trucked in from California, I just couldn’t resist. Time for my favorite warm-weather breakfast treat: strawberry scones.
There was a time in my life when every penny I saved went towards traveling around the country — and the world — to attend major figure skating competitions. Specifically, to cheer on the great Michelle Kwan and revel in her strength and the beauty she would always, without fail, create on the ice. Her movement, her emotion, her attention to every detail. We fed off of her performances in wild exultation, and she fed off of us with explosions of power and joy beaming straight out of her heart. In retrospect, it sounds insane. But if I said I regretted any of it I’d be a lying fool. The energy, the nervous excitement, the camaraderie. Ten years ago, Michelle competed in what would end up being her last National Championships, fighting her way to the top once again, for the eighth year in a row, to match the iconic Maribel Vinson Owen in claiming a record nine national titles. Ten years ago today, in Portland, Oregon, she skated to Ravel’s Bolero in a stunning gold dress, her last long program on National Championship ice, and I was there for the ride.
So you’re wondering, what on earth does this have to do with maple oat scones? This post just seems like an excuse to reminisce and be happy and sad all at once — happy because I was there and it was incredible; sad because, without truly realizing it at the time, a hip injury was slowly eating away at her ability to compete and would take her out of the 2006 Nationals, and then, maybe even more heartbreakingly, out of the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. But that week in Portland, 10 years ago, a freak ice storm wreaked havoc on the city’s streets and sidewalks and made getting to early morning practice sessions difficult and slow — and there was no way we were going to miss any of Michelle’s practice sessions. We had to leave our hotels earlier than usual, missing out on leisurely breakfasts and necessitating brief daily runs into one of the Starbucks along the way. I skipped the coffee and bought tea, as was my custom then, and discovered their maple oat scones. Continue reading →
Happy New Year, everyone. 2014 is now a relic of the past. Like many of you, mine was filled with ups and downs — and this year, they weren’t simply little hiccups and little boosts here and there. 2014 was momentous, it was disastrous, it was marvelous. I left my life at an organization to which I dedicated seven years of my heart and soul, bled passion and tears and hope and frustration. Left what had become an unkind regime. Rekindled my passion for my own work, my own writing. Found you, the ImaginariYUM, and found myself.
And now it’s 2015, and things are gonna change. A little. My big New Year’s Resolution is simple, but will hopefully be profound: I resolve to use up all the leftover vegetables I buy before they turn to mush, grow mold, or grow eyes. And to start, I’m using up (almost) all the leftover potatoes from my two crazy days of latke-making a couple of weeks ago by turning them into velvety potato leek soup. And as a side? I’ve taken some of the leftover buttermilk from last week’s perfect cinnamon rolls and turned them into the easiest buttermilk biscuits. It’s cold, I’m hungry and still tired from being up way too late last night, and I’m damn glad there’s something good, healthy, and hearty to eat for the start of the new year.
On Sunday I had the honor of meeting the amazing Joy Wilson of joythebaker.com, who was in New York to promote her new book, Homemade Decadence. Filled with simple and elegant recipes, with a twist on the nostalgic, it’s a masterpiece of sweet. That’s sort of a lot of what Joy the Baker is, really, on her site, in her recipes, and in person. Disarmingly funny, she wants us all to eat, to enjoy. The best way to do that, without being directly in her kitchen? Make her recipes. I’d be fooling you all if I didn’t say that Joy was a huge inspiration for me when I started this blog. Her food and her writing are, unequivocally, her. There is no high-brow or low-brow. It’s just fabulous deliciousness that can be created equally by all.
Before heading to The Brooklyn Kitchen for the event, I had been keen on working on a pumpkin recipe for the ImaginariYUM. ‘Tis the season, after all. Last year, Joy posted a recipe for pumpkin pecan scones with brown butter glaze. This was during the time that I was convinced that my fella, Ray, hated scones — they’re too dry, too crumbly, he’d tell me. I had even saved him some of my nutella scone from Dean and Deluca three years ago, believing that he would fall over himself with glee when he tasted the glorious swirls of his favorite condiment embedded in such a tender crumb. I was wrong. So I kept the pumpkin scone recipe from my repertoire, but bookmarked it just the same. And since my love of scones hasn’t abated, I would have to make him love them, too. Over these last several years I’ve started wearing him down, creating scones with a more moist interior to please his palate. He’s started to ooh and ahh. After meeting Joy, I knew that the time was ripe for pumpkin scones.
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There once was a little boy named Lambert. Colored like a lion, with a voice like a lamb, fur like a teddy bear, and shaped like, well, a little biscuit. Lambert, the Sheepish Lion, who turned out to be so brave, was the cat my family adopted from a shelter along with his mischievous, impish, orange and white brother, Loki, in March 2002. Such sweet boys, like apples and honey. Loki passed away last year, and Lambert left this world just last week. Their lives seem so short, but they were rich, and full, and spoiled. We could never keep a loaf of challah any place where Loki could get to it: he would rip the bag open with his paws and his teeth and chow down. And Lambert? Besides the eggs, the chicken, the (yes) steak he would beg for around our feet, that little cat loved his cheese. Two cats after my own heart.
After I went home to New Jersey to bury him and say goodbye, all I wanted was comfort. I wanted something in his honor. Cheddar? Definitely. Pastry? Of course. Apples? Well, Lambert didn’t eat apples. But the way autumn shone on him when he found a sunny spot to sleep or lounge in was stunning. He glowed. This was his season. These apple cheddar biscuits are for him.
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