Basic, Beautiful Challah

I’ve been feeling extra Jewy lately. When Nazis and white nationalists come out of the woodwork, you see, my instinct grows strong to pull out the gold Star of David my great-great-uncle made for my grandmother and wear it proudly, unabashedly around my neck — just like I did when I visited Auschwitz and a little nearby Polish town called Bedzin, where my grandfather’s parents were from, once so bustling with Jews but now containing only an overgrown Jewish cemetery in the middle of a forest and one sole Jewish family. It’s my middle finger to those who wish us gone. Great-Great-Uncle Adrian, the jeweler who made that beautiful star,  came here, with his parents and brother and sisters — including my great-grandmother — from Bucharest, like so many Jews, like my other great-grandparents, to escape persecution. Lucky they left when they did. So many others could not. So many others never would. So many others were trapped.

Which is why this week I decided to make some challah. A braided, enriched, eggy bread, challah, to me, is comforting in its tenderness. And braiding challah is, in essence, a meditation on humanity: many separate strands woven together to create a whole. I’m no Jewish scholar. I’m not sure if that ever was what was intended in the weekly preparation of this special bread, eaten on the Sabbath and all holidays (besides Passover). But today, I feel more than ever that it’s what it’s meant to be. Continue reading →

Chocolate Chip Sourdough Waffles

chocolate chip sourdough waffles

I’m baking a lot of bread these days. Holding the ImaginariYUM to its name and experimenting several days a week — with different kinds and percentages of flours, with hydration levels, with folding techniques and bulk fermentation times. Even the not-so-great loaves are a thrill — the deductions of what went wrong, why perhaps this baking temperature isn’t great for that particular formula in this particular oven. It makes me remember that despite giving up in chemistry in high school, I’m a scientist at heart. I want to know how things work, why things are they way they are. Making naturally leavened bread is the perfect juxtaposition of science and my other love, art. Know thy formulas, deduce, experiment, test again, but feel it and express it with your heart and soul. Continue reading →

Orange Cranberry Streusel Muffins

Well folks, we made it. 2016 is over and gone, and 2017 is here — of course, as we knew it would be. On the eve of a new year we always proclaim the previous to be “the worst year ever,” willing the next to be better and brighter, because it just has to be, right? Seriously, we do it every year. And while 2016 might have been an exception in crappiness, even in our current era, on the grand scale of politics and the like I’m not betting 2017 will be much better. But a friend posted a thread on Facebook encouraging people to post the good things that happened in 2016 — because on a personal level, I’ll bet there were as many for you as there were for me. I spent much of the year trying to regain my footing, find my place in the world — a miasmic endeavor that left me, often, in tears. And yet, 2016 was the year my sweet nephew Charlie was born, and it was the year I married the love of my life on the most gorgeous day of the year — two huge events that also left me in tears, but happy ones. Watching videos of Charlie laughing over and over again and just looking into the eyes of my new husbo have been a salve to my soul. And as 2016 came to a close and 2017 dawned cold and sunny, I’m stepping closer and more firmly to where I want to be, where I need to be, where I belong. And so, in honor of this awakening, I’m sharing with you these Orange Cranberry Streusel Muffins — as bright and glorious as the cold winter sun, and like a warm hug to welcome you in from the chill of last year.

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Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Scones

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 →

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Maple Cream Cheese Sauce

I’m a little new to the pumpkin party, in the grand scheme of things. I knew nothing of pumpkin pies growing up — in my family, it was all apple, all the time. I’m not so sure I’d truly eaten a whole lot of pumpkin before I met the fella, but now, like so many of you, I’m addicted. I would not say obsessed. I don’t drink pumpkin lattes (I take mine straight, thank you very much), and I don’t even have a jar of pumpkin spice in my cabinet. But we did insist on a pumpkin cake with maple cream cheese frosting for our wedding, and when those little orange cans are on sale, hoo boy, I stock up, I make haste, and I make use. And while pumpkin pie is tops in the Thanksgiving dessert department (I love this one), sometimes you just want to rip into a baguette, drench it in a rich, decadent pumpkin custard, and call it a day. This year I’m foregoing pies and making this pumpkin bread pudding with maple cream cheese sauce, and I’m not apologizing — and once you taste it, I think you’ll agree I don’t have to. Continue reading →

The Best Blueberry Scones

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 →

Easy Dutch Baby Breakfast

These days are lazy. As the weather has warmed, my appetite for — and desire to cook — heavy, bready things has waned. Gone are the consistent cravings for bagels every other day. Many weekends, I don’t even want pancakes. Blasphemy! I’ve been beginning most of my days lately with yogurt, fruit, and granola, and then often have a second breakfast at lunchtime with avocado toast topped with a fried egg. Really, most of what I want these days includes protein and fruits and vegetables. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still crave some luxury on a Sunday morning. I just want it to include less flour, more eggs, and be topped with yogurt and fresh fruit. Thank goodness for the FauxMartha’s Blender Dutch Baby, because now it’s all I want to make to sate my weekend morning sweet tooth. Continue reading →

Summer Berry Breakfast Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuits

IMG_8635On 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.

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Coconut Banana Nut Muffins

This isn’t a post about moms. The ones who wake in the middle of the night at your slightest cough or gasp from a nightmare. The ones who schlep from one end of town to another, to the next town, and back again, for figure skating lessons, violin lessons, piano lessons, general shenanigans. The ones who give in and get you a cat when you’re six years old, have you jumping around your living room with your brother at the thought of bringing home a tiny grey kitten-friend. The ones who hold your hand as you wade through life’s murky waters, are okay with a phone call in the middle of the day while they’re at work just because you’re bored or lonely or wondering what to do about a weird burn. The ones who teach you “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” The ones who are there for you, every single moment of every single day, without you ever having to ask, because being a mom means being completely selfless.

No, this isn’t about that. My mom hates coconut, and I did not plan very well this week. This weekend I’m making my mom key lime pie, but this post is really about Coconut Banana Nut Muffins. After all, Mom did teach me to listen to my body and eat the things I crave.

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Coconut Chocolate Chunk Scones

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 →