Category Archives: Briefly noted

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Herb Garden

The other night my friend Tom was in town. I hadn’t seen him in 8 years. I’ve known him for 20. Which is staggering. How can we be so old?! We picked up right where we left off as if I’d seen him last week though.

For dinner, I had fingerling potatoes and spring onions. Tiny chioggia beets. A skirt steak. My standard arugula and shallots. I didn’t know exactly what I would do with them but these ingredients are so familiar to me. Dear like Tom in a way. And happily, I had loads of fresh herbs in the garden so I put them to work.

If you’re not growing sage, rosemary and thyme, you might want to think about getting some starts.  Yesterday my herb garden turned my sort of mundane ingredients into something to write about. Sauteed spring onions got a boost from English thyme and sage. Sage and rosemary perfumed the potatoes; the sage shatteringly crisp and glittering with sea salt. Rosemary and  thyme chopped fine scented the steak. What a big payoff for almost no extra effort!

As I put the dinner together while drinking chai with Tom, I made several trips outside to the herb garden, gathering sprigs of thyme, twigs of rosemary and silvery sage leaves. Later, we ate dinner in the garden, though it was barely warm enough for it. Tom wore his coat and I had to get a thick sweater. Still, there is something wonderful about cooking from the garden and then eating out there.

Fresh Herb and Garlic Rub for Steaks

  • 2 lbs skirt steak
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp kosher sea salt
  • a small handful of English thyme, rinsed and dried
  • a sprig of rosemary, rinsed and dried
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. With a chef’s knife, chop the garlic and salt together until very finely minced. Add the thyme leaves and rosemary leaves and continue to chop until you have a rough paste. Add the black pepper. Rub all over the meat and leave on the counter until ready to grill (Ok, if it’s more than 1/2 an hour, you may want to refrigerate it!)
  2. When it’s time, brush the steak with olive oil and grill for 2-3 minutes per side over high heat. Let it sit uncovered and off the grill for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.


Roast Potatoes with Herbs from the Garden

  • 1lb fingerling potatoes, rinsed and dried
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • a small handful of safe leaves
  • (1) 4 inch sprig of rosemary
  • 1/2 a dozen cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise.
  3. Toss all ingredients together in a large baking dish where the potatoes fit in one layer without crowding.
  4. Roast the potatoes for 40 minutes, flipping them over half way through.
  5. If you are serving bread also, the soft roast garlic can be squeezed out onto the buttered bread.

Seared Purple Spring Onions

  • 1 bunch purple spring onions, rinsed and dried
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • small handful English thyme
  • 6 small sage leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Quarter the spring onions.
  2. Heat a large heavy saute on medium high for 2 minutes
  3. Add olive oil to pan and then spring onions and thyme.
  4. Saute for 3-4 minutes on their cut sides until golden and crisp.
  5. Add sage leaves and turn down the heat for 2 minutes to allow the sage to scent the onions.
  6. Toss with the roast potatoes  – so beautiful!

I served the steak and potatoes and onions with beet salad – tiny roast chioggias this time – roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees in their own roasting pan alongside the potatoes.

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More fun with beets

As if they weren’t already wonderful enough roasted and tossed into a salad! Those little beets you get in the summertime, red or chioggia, don’t need any cooking at all. All you have to do is peel them and grate them on a box grater. 2 small beets for 1 big salad – I use arugula or little gem for greens, cucumber, shallots, goat cheese, toasted walnuts. You can see how I made the first beet salad here. Just substitute grated raw beets for the cooked. Now that’s fast.

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Notes on a Cocktail


Cocktails. I don’t usually make them. Given an opportunity, I like to drink them. And not surprisingly, I have some strong opinions about them. Fresh orange peel, cucumber infusion, muddled mint, Pimm’s, Hendrick’s, sugar cubes, a little float of beaten egg white. Not all in the same drink of course, but that’s the direction I run in: fresh, fruity, herbaceous. Complex without too hard an edge. My idea of a perfect cocktail speaks to something specific: spring, Christmas, elderflowers, cucumbers. I like to imagine a good cocktail is a flavor essay, a barman’s exploration of an idea.

So when the party committee I’m on met for a pre-party cocktail tasting a few weeks ago, I came prepared with a few ideas. I hoped we could come up with a simple but elegant cocktail that would be appropriate for a group of 40-ish moms. Someone brought a stack of those little plastic cups used for measuring out children’s Tylenol, so we could have many small tastes without drinking too much. Hilarious and so smart. One elegant guest brought a colorful bottle and said all we had to do was add some vodka. — This will be so easy, she said, My sister told me this makes quite a decent cocktail. After tasting it we all laughingly agreed with the comment — It kind of tastes like cough syrup. Then someone suggested Cosmos – That’s what the committee chose last year – but aren’t Cosmos a little passé? Too Sex in the City?

On committees, strong opinions can sometimes be a liability; other times, they come in handy. I’d brought bottles of chilled Prosecco and St. Germaine. An orange and a little orange zester to make the curl were wrapped in a tea towel in my purse. (I think that darn zester is still lost in the bottom of my handbag.) Anyway. I quickly mixed up the cocktail. It was a little heavy handed. Next time I do this I’ll slip the jigger in with the zester so I can measure properly. Still, we all agreed it was pretty lovely, cold with a subtle floral perfume. Especially compared to the cough syrup and vodka number we’d sampled previously. That’s how I ended up in charge of the cocktails at the party we were throwing. Which is kind of a joke because I never make cocktails; I only order them.

So yesterday, I went out to get my ingredients. I didn’t even know that the liquor store doesn’t open until 11. I had to stand outside in the ridiculous wintery rain for 20 minutes. Sigh. What if it didn’t really open when it was supposed to? Then at 11 on the dot, the lights flicked on and the door opened.

Wow. I couldn’t believe it. The same old guy. I’ve only been here a handful of times in the past 7 years and it’s always him. He’s vast and almost troll-like. He has small warty eyes. Many warts. Stringy grey long hair in a pony tail. His shirt is too large. His pants are too long and not exactly clean. Really he’s a toad of a man. Usually I run in and out of the liquor store. It’s not the sort of place that inspires lingering.

I asked him – So can you tell me about the Creme de Cassis. We’re having this party. Champagne Cocktails, Kir Royale. Can you recommend —

— Oh I can recommend something! He cut me off, not unkindly. He hurried to another display — I know which one you should buy. It’s a little pricey though — a thoughtful smile on his face.

He waved me over and took down a small bottle with pale green leaves and black currants on the label. A long and slender bottle from an artisanal distillery in Oregon. The liquid inside the blackest purple and gently viscous. I tipped it sideways and looked at the color, admiring the pretty label.

—Tell me about this one, I said. How is it different? (From the other, much larger bottle, half the price over there on the wall.)

He peered at me intently. I could see by his expression he was reliving some taste memory and wanting me to be there with him. I actually think I was there with him, kind of. – Let me tell you what I do with that stuff. Don’t waste it. I make these sugar cookies — he mimed how he carefully held the cookies with his fingers — So thin. So delicate. The sugar gives the perfect crunch. They shatter then melt in your mouth.

(Are you kidding me?! Delicate. Shatter. Melt.)

Then he says — I serve them on a very rich vanilla ice cream, with the vanilla bean flecks in it and then I carefully drizzle just a very tiny amount of this blackcurrant over the ice cream. It’s perfect.

(You sir, in your own peculiar way, are perfect too.)

Wow. — My grandmother liked her ice cream that way too. With a little purple-y liqueur drizzled on top. Only she just used Pepperidge Farm Chessmen. That certainly sounds very delicious. I will buy a bottle of that for myself. Imagine it swirled into a little Prosecco with a strip of orange peel! I will sit on the little bench on the patio, sipping Kir Royale, surrounded by sage, oregano, chives and Shasta daisies, taking it all in. For the ladies of the preschool however – all sixty of them – I think the big bottle will do just fine.

That guy totally made my day.

A Trio of Champagne Cocktails

If you can chill the Champagne glass, that would be very nice. For sixty, I doubt that I will.

Kir Royale

  • 1/2 ounce Creme de Cassis
  • cold Champagne
  • a curl of orange peel from an organic navel orange

Pour the Creme de Cassis into the cold champagne glass. Pour Champagne  to nearly fill the glass. Squeeze the orange rind over the drink, then drop into the glass.

Champagne St. Germaine

  • 1/2 ounce St. Germaine (a French elderflower liqueur)
  • cold Champagne or prosecco
  • a curl of lemon peel from an organic lemon

Pour the Champagne into a cold champagne glass. Stir in the St. Germaine. Garnish with lemon.

Classic Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 sugar cube
  • angostura bitters (I actually use blood orange bitters)
  • Champagne
  • orange or lemon peel (as above)

Soak the sugar cube with bitters and place in Champagne glass. Pour champagne over the sugar cube. Garnish with lemon or orange peel.

 

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Notes on (the) Dinner Party: Swedish Dinner 2011

When was the last time you threw a dinner party? I mean a real one.

I like to cook (ok fine, I love it) and people come over to eat at our house all the time. Mostly, these people are such dear friends they feel like family. They act like family too. Forks and napkins are laid around the table by the kids. Someone that is not me washes the salad. Someone else that is not Martin might make the salad dressing. Martin rolls out the pasta, I make some sauce. They bring a wine to try. We all put the food on the table. The last time my friend Liz and her family came over, I decided to make mayonnaise to serve with the asparagus. I have been making mayonnaise my entire life. And I forgot the egg. Twice. If you’ve ever made mayonnaise or hollandaise, you know it’s all about the egg. Nothing happens without it. What I made was glopp. (I’m going to have to blame the glass of wine for that one) Anyway we all laughed, added some lemon juice to the jarred mayonnaise from the fridge, and carried on with dinner.  The children sat at one end of the table and the adults at the other. Afterwards the kids piled into the living room to watch Miyazaki and the grownups laughed and talked around the dinner table. I really like this kind of dinner party.

So when I offered a “Swedish Dinner” at the school auction last year, I didn’t think too much about it. Like I said, I have people over for dinner all the time. It hit me afterwards. There would be no kids setting the table…in fact, if the table looked like my kids and their friends had set it, that might be a bit of a problem. Also, probably it would not be the best idea to ask our guests to bring a bottle of wine. Or mix up some salad dressing. (“I don’t mind what you make! Make what you make at home!”)  I don’t think so. The family that bought our dinner turned out to be a family I didn’t know…and they were going to live in Sweden for six months before we made dinner for them and 6 of their friends. This seemed a little scary.

Here’s what I found out: Fear turns me into a demon planner. And that I really really like it. Planning. Walking the line of being supremely prepared (we made three versions of the main course in the weeks before the dinner) and being nearly positive that a last minute riff on a classic dessert would be fabulous (adding elderflower cordial to panna cotta, and tweaking the recipe on the fly the night before) and being absolutely right, well, it was like walking on a tight rope for the first time and not falling. In fact, that dessert was so ethereal, so utterly delicious, I felt like I had not only NOT fallen off the tightrope, but that I had actually managed a leap and a twirl!

Lovely Panna Cotta

 

I have to say, I could never have pulled this off without making extensive to-do lists. God, I love to make a list. It totally pays. I mapped out each day for the entire week before the dinner. We made three kinds of bread, one on each day. Then the cookies. The rhubarb-strawberry, cardamom-scented compote happened on Thursday. Six bunches of white tulips bought and arranged on Friday. The last two days were measured and carefully calm. You could’ve set a clock by that to-do list. You should have seen the matrix of work for the night of the dinner! Västerbotten/fennel seed frico on table in living room: 6:45 pm. Check. Parsley garnish on Toast Skagen. Check. Creme fraiche and minced onion on Löjrom. Check. Don’t forget the individual sauce boats! The candles! Check. Check.

If I were reading this, I would wonder, is this actually fun for her?! Writing those lists all the time? Cooking is fun, but cleaning it up isn’t. Why is she doing this? I guess it comes down to what I love about cooking. I can control everything. (Just ask my family – they will tell you I’m so bossy – but I see myself as more of a…visionary?) I love compiling a menu of all my favorite dishes and then throwing half of them out because you can’t have all that cream for god’s-sake! (for example) in one menu. I love scattering the table with candles. Examining fonts, debating color for the text, and in this case translating all the Swedish into English. Dreaming up a dessert and jiggering a couple of recipes to get to it – that’s thrilling. And then there’s completing a fairly complex project in a relatively short amount of time. You can make it work if you make a list. Wouldn’t anyone want to dream up something beautiful and then share it?

Midnight. The candles are still glowing. ABBA is playing softly in the living room. We are standing with this very nice couple and their friends in the front hall, laughing. The kitchen is in order; the dishwasher purring. Stacked in the refrigerator are boxes with just the right amount of leftovers – beckoning and not too overwhelmingly large for tomorrow. After our guests went home, there were two perfect panna cotta left to eat in the living room by the fire.

Next time I will tell you what I made with the leftovers. Here is a picture:

 

And just so you know, that is the mayonnaise that I made, very successfully, in the lower right hand corner!

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“The Best Foodie Day Ever”

Last Saturday in the hills above Healdsburg, after winding around on wet rural roads, I arrived with a large group of friends in a well appointed kitchen in the middle of a vineyard. The house was backed by vine covered trellises and terraces, with views over bright green rows of grape vines, lichen cloaked oak trees, board and batten barns and curving country roads. A dog was barking distantly, a little rain patter scattered over the stone. Even though it was raining outside, the kitchen glowed – the sun was not too far behind the clouds. Twelve of us stepped into that warm room on the verge of busy-ness. We had been invited to participate in a wood fired oven cooking class.

Everything stood ready. Red and yellow peppers bright on a foil wrapped half sheet pan. An oval platter of wild mushrooms in pale creamy and soft brown clusters. Burnished, silky caramelized onions on a round white plate. A soft pungent heap of Point Reyes blue in a bowl. And slowly scraping around in a box somewhere, a dozen lobsters. A mesh bag of tiny clams. Two small chickens. Resting in a proofing box, quietly rising, plump yeasty rounds of pizza dough. Then suddenly, sleeves rolled up. Aprons tied.  This is the very best kind of work. I can completely lose myself in pungent olive oil, pillowy dough, the forest floor scent of a mushroom. And maybe something a little out of the ordinary, something I have never tried before.  There’s where the fun is.

My friend Lee said: oh my god that was the best foodie day ever! – and he was right. It was the best foodie day ever. One of the best days ever. We had been invited to attend a wood fire oven class taught by Andrea Mugnaini, a wood fire oven importer and teacher. (Thank you Diana!!!) Every person in the group was passionate, curious, funny and kind. There was this big happy focused energy. I thought we might learn how to light the fire and make a pizza. We only had three hours. Maybe we could roast a chicken. I would have been completely happy to have learned just that. We did learn those things but we also learned a lot more. Three hours magically turned into five.

We roasted peppers, made a dozen pizzas, 2 chickens under a brick, a dozen lobsters and clam bake and an apple, blueberry crisp. All in the pizza oven. We learned how to control the fire , using visual cues to see how hot the oven is. I am lucky enough to have access to a wood fired oven and I know I will really use all the recipes and methods I learned that day. Andrea also taught us how to bone a whole chicken – not by cutting it up in pieces. We kept the  body whole, just removing the bones. I have wanted to learn how to do this for years! We learned to kill a lobster with a big sharp knife. I got the feeling that the method of dumping them into a pot of boiling water is for chumps. On Saturday I found out what I was really up for, which, as it turns out, is not just following directions and making dinner, something that up until now I have always been quite happy to do.

I found out I can side-step squeamishness and cut open a bird with scissors and scrape away the flesh from the bone, and do it neatly, undeterred by it’s prone raw body. Now I don’t have to wonder anymore if I can bone a bird by myself – I did it! I can wield a large sharp knife and cleave through the head of a lobster, quickly dividing it in half, and watch as rigor mortis sets in, then promptly dispatch 3 more. After we removed the bones from the chicken, Janis taught us how to roast the back bone, ribs, and legs with salt and pepper and olive oil to make a brown stock. (I hope you’ve made your own stock – You’re missing out if you haven’t tried it.  It sounds counterintuitive, but life is WAY too short to eat stock from a box.)

Maybe it’s nuts to attach so much importance to these obscure food prep skills, and it is hard to describe why it felt so important to try to master them. And even more important to go home and practice so I don’t forget how. I have two plump chickens waiting for me in my fridge.

Normally, I don’t want to write about specialized equipment or esoteric ingredients at Notes On Dinner. I like to write about food that is accessible to most families, that adults will find interesting and delicious and that will gently challenge children to open up to other textures and tastes than most are exposed to. I don’t expect that most people who read this will have access to a pizza oven. What I do hope is that in the kitchen you can find out what interests you, find a challenge for yourself, even if it is a really small challenge. Cook without any prepared foods for a week! Cook all Indian food for dinner for a week. Roast a pork shoulder and make 5 meals out of it. Eat vegetarian every Monday. It’s these kinds of challenges that make cooking so consuming (yes, really!) for me. I think that’s why, in the kitchen, I am never ever bored.

http://www.mugnaini.com/

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Living on the Edge: Chocolate Ganache Filled Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream and Sea Salt

Most people, when asked to bring a dessert for an auction or some other very public event, would stick to something they had made at least once before. Something that at least one other person had raved about. Not me. I got the May/June issue of Cook’s Illustrated and decided on the spot that the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake recipe would probably work out alright and that Butterscotch Buttercream would be delicious on top. In fact, I have a strong feeling that this might be it: the pinnacle of chocolate cupcake-dom. Trendily, I have decided to garnish them with this French sea salt my dad brought back for me on his last trip to Europe.

So far I have completed the buttercream component and I have to say, I am swooning. This buttercream is light and airy on one hand and rich and redolent of molasses on the other.  The anticipation of the delicate crunch and tingle of the salt in contrast with the dark sweetness of the buttercream has my mouth watering. There is a sad and scary part of this story though. I am presenting the cupcakes on a tiered cupcake stand with individual holders for each cupcake.  The stand holds 24 cakes and if I make the recipe twice, I will have just 24. Not only will I never have the opportunity to try even one of these little gems, unless I bid on and win my own dessert (which would be weird and gauche), I’ll never know if they were as good as I hoped they’d be! So sad!

Clearly, I’m going to have to make them again right away.

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I did it: Pain Poilâne.

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a ‘What the hell?’ attitude. – Julia Child

That might be true of a lot more than cooking.

Anyone who can read, can cook. I swear it’s true. When I tasted this bread 3 hours after it came out of the oven, I was going to say – just call me Lionel (Poilâne). Then I changed my mind. It seems the only requirement for making bread without commercial yeast is the desire to do so. I didn’t do anything complicated or confusing. Ok, I have to admit – I was very enthusiastic.  That was something.

The only special tool needed was an instant read thermometer – not even a digital one. This success of this project was all about following the directions. Well, I guess finding the RIGHT directions was also important; there are plenty of bad directions out there. So I extend thanks to Mary Alice and Walter for loaning me their Peter Reinhart book and for their infectious cheerful zeal. Mr. Reinhart’s instructions for Poilâne-style bread in the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice are accessible and perfectly clear. Thanks guys!

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Wild Yeast Caught

Success. I have a really and truly active mother now, bubbling away on the counter. I am still looking for the right bread recipe though. I’m not sure if it’s our flour or lack of detail in the directions, but the dough is kind of soupy. Maybe for this dough method I need one of those baguette baking troughs, although the recipe didn’t mention anything about special equipment – not even a pizza stone. The bread is okay but really not delicious enough yet. I have the vat of the “mother” bubbling away so I will have to figure this out soon.

I mentioned my problem to my friend Mary-Alice whose husband is very technically minded and who is a home bread baker. They responded quickly – like I was having this huge bread making emergency – arriving on my doorstep this morning with another book. What dear friends! They’re loaning me the Peter Reinhart book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice – the one I don’t have – and it is infinitely more accessible than Crust and Crumb. So I will be experimenting with my “mother” in some really fine-tuned recipes. I have high hopes for the bread this week. I keep peering into the pyrex bowl of starter and I still can’t believe I actually made this bubbling living thing! Tonight I will read very carefully and take notes. Tomorrow I’ll roll up my sleeves and get to work.

As far as eating the first loaves – we had mixed success. The first we had with dinner one night last week.

The second loaf was irrevocably stuck to the baking sheet. Sheer ingenuity with a large metal spatula and brute force only somewhat successfully managed to separate the bread from the pan. As I said – the bread is still not quite delicious enough.

Since I’ve been spending some time researching sourdough bread recipes, I’ve found there’s a whole culture of people very interested in bread starters. There are a lot of articles and sites devoted to the subject. Some of these starter obsessed people will actually name their bowl of tan bubbling glop. After all, it IS alive, right? This one lady who lives in France named hers “Philemon”. Initially I thought this was sort of adorable. But then I thought about it for a minute and the word that popped into my head was “twee” with all of the negative connotations (as in mawkish, affected and precious). Needless to say, I will not be naming my “mother”.

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Building the Mother

Chopping the rhubarb

It speaks to how odd I must be that the bowl of bubbling tannish glop in a glass bowl on my countertop is something I consider to be one of the more exciting things I’ve ever done.  I am finally doing it. That bubbling oozing mess is the “mother”, my very own sourdough, right here in my very own kitchen in Seattle.

Yes, it’s only day two and I have heard stories, lurid and gory, of bowls of raisin water and flour going horribly awry, with streaks, bubbles and mounds of blue and black mold forming on the top of the dough before the natural airborne yeast can wrest control of the situation.  Still it’s exciting – even if this mess does go moldy on me. At least I’ve started on the journey of building bread with no commercial yeast. I’ve always wanted to. There’s no going back now!

Mixing the mother

All mixed up

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High Tea again – a really good call

I don’t want to write too much about something I’ve already written about so I’ll keep this short. Today is really all about the cake. You must think this is a nutty kind of dinner blog. I keep baking cake for dinner. I don’t think of myself as a person who would find excuses to eat cake all the time. But I am finding that right now at least, we are having cake as a major component of dinner with alarming frequency.

This weekend my cousin got married. All the champagne, the little sandwiches of rare roast beef, apple slivers and horseradish, the champagne, the crab cakes and more champagne kind of put me over the edge. To say I over-indulged would be an understatement. On Sunday, dinner seemed insurmountable and boring to boot. I thought I was tired of cooking but the truth was I hadn’t even boiled an egg all weekend.

There were a few ideas I tossed around but they all seemed overwrought, dull, heavy or insubstantial.  Here was my list of dinner ideas for Sunday night:

  1. Bloody Mary Hamburgers with horseradish cream and Worcestershire -although the idea sounded delicious, the name turned me off in the end – it sounded a little gory
  2. Marcella Hazan’s Chickpea Soup with Pasta – seemed like too much work and boring
  3. Fish?! – has the virtue of healthiness but makes the kitchen smell too funny after a crazy weekend
  4. Omelette and toast?!  – very quick but sick of eggs
  5. Salad – too cold, too much work

In the end I scrapped all those ideas and returned to the brilliant and original idea of high tea. I think, in America, this truly is a very original idea. (In Britain, I’m sure it’s completely banal.) Tea, small sandwiches and a sliver of wonderful cake is rejuvenating, comforting, delicious, diverting and captivating. I can’t say too many good things about tea for dinner. Children like it and grown-ups do too – at least at my house. Tea is easy to put together. No special skills or techniques are required. One thing I like to see at tea though, is one of those tiered serving caddies. Mine’s not fancy; it’s from Target, but it makes everything look scrumptious.

I had some very ripe bananas so I convinced Martin (he hardly needs convincing in these matters) to make his Swedish banana cake. This is the cake I should have made the last time we had high tea. It’s so likable. Swedish banana cake is quite different from its American counterpart. The lemon rind and juice sets it apart from a typical banana cake. Also, for some reason that I don’t understand, it doesn’t get those weird little black flecks that American banana breads and cake do. I’m not usually crazy about banana bread but this cake is a different story. I love it. You can bake it in any shape. Usually we use a 9″ spring form but Martin decided to make it in a long rectangular tart pan. As always, this cake was very very good.

Next time I post I promise there will be no cake on the menu.

Swedish Banana Cake

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • the rind of half a lemon and its juice
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2-3 very ripe bananas (about 2/3 lb peeled)
  • 1/4 cup milk

To finish: sifted powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Butter a 9″ springform pan. In Sweden they dust the pan with bread crumbs. We just make breadcrumbs on-the-fly (in an electric coffee grinder reserved for bread crumbs and spices) from a heel of sandwich bread. Cornmeal works and so would flour, I suppose.
  3. Melt the butter in a small pan on the stove or in the microwave and leave to cool.
  4. Whisk the eggs and the sugar until quite fluffy and nearly white in a medium sized mixing bowl. You could use a hand mixer to do this.
  5. Add the lemon rind and lemon juice, the flour and the baking powder.
  6. Peel and mash the bananas in a small mixing bowl. I like to use a potato masher for this job. Stir the bananas into the batter.
  7. Add the butter and the milk and stir until just blended.
  8. Pour batter into the cake pan.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes. Let cake stay in the pan for 10 minutes before  turning it out and letting it cool on a baking rack.
  10. When the cake has cooled, sift a little powdered sugar on top. In the summer when raspberries or strawberries are ripe, they would be very nice with this simple cake.
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