All it takes is a cool breeze and I got an itchin in my bones for fall. I am not alone. Just as I was about to spend some time yearning for sweaters, I had the delicious fortune to stumble upon New York Magazine’s stunning roundup of get-em-while-it’s-hot-ephemeral-summer-eats. Oh baby, it ain’t over til it’s over. I see a trip to Randazzo’s in my near future… Yum Yum Yum: Zucchini thin pie from Franny’s , Blueberry (thick!) pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Tomatoes (for Andrew) from whatevs farmers market you can muster, ‘wichcraft BLT (LOOK at it), Pearl Oyster Bar Po Boy, and Key Lime Frozen Yogurt from Culture… so much outer borough love!
I’m having a total love affair with summer right now. Probably because I’ve been hopping in and out of New York and have only seen the most lovely and tantalizing parts (roof parties, sunsets, music outside, picnics) and none of the armpit parts (hot.smell.subway.toes.). In the former category: we went out to the ball fields on Bay 16th to see Andrew’s little brother’s Little League team play their championship tournament. The gods of small ball pitted the sweetest band of intrepid, full-hearted, and popsicle-mouthed 8 year olds against this pitcher. See above. A side-slinging lowballer, towering a full three heads over the runts in right field, a little league leviathan who almost had a perfect game (our guys’ third baseman, who had been in tears earlier over a tie-gone-to-the-runner-this-ump-is-a-union-scab-type-call, got on base with a frozen rope to shortstop to ruin Goliath’s no-hitter. Yes.). The boys lost, but bless their little hearts, when the game was over they were quiet and kind to each other and held their heads high with honor beyond their years. After the game at Spumoni Gardens they were back to fighting over corner pieces of the perfect-sweet-sauced sicilian square pie and spitting soda at each other, but for a dusky sunset moment you could see just a shade of the men they’d be. Ahh, Summer, how fine you are.
Ahh, New York. Would that we could have an acre out back for straw bale tomatoes, climbing cucumbers and whatever other delectable treats we could imagine. It’s all we can do to put a few simple herbs out on the front stoop now that summer has officially arrived. I stopped by the Union Square farmers market this week and picked up the bare essentials: basils, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley. After a week of squalls today was the perfect day to plant them! Now, what should we have for dinner?
I love this from Aled Lewis. Usually I feel like the bunny, but sometimes I feel like the fox. Today is one of those days. Watch out, Spring Saturday Night!
ps. bought a satchel of newcomer Momofuku Milk compost cookies from the flea for Njoki’s birthday, fulfilling my duty/destiny to see and be seen wearing funny shoes/glasses (baby/dog optional).
Ahh, it’s been one of those weekends. This week justified doing absolutely nothing* all day Saturday and then deciding, oh hell, let’s do absolutely nothing again today. Well… no matter how busy my week was, if I’m not going to go see (what looks like the most amazing) Norman Rockwell photography exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum or Snape/Shine at BAM or all the myriad things one should do on a rainy day off in Brooklyn. I always feel at least the need to fluff around my apartment and feather it a little bit. Enter: my favorite recipe- which I have never named and is simply: Almond Cake. It is SO ridiculously easy, but ends up quite special and sophisticated.
I like this recipe so much (and make it so frequently) that instead of living with the rest of the recipes, I transcribed it onto the back of the awesome Alpine Accordion Band postcard I got in the Hague and it lives on the fridge, edges curling with repeated Kirschings, in easy in-case-of-reference reach:
Almond Cake (for company or solitude celebrations)**
1 cup almonds, raw
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 stick butter (softened, cut up)
1 tsp. Kirsch (if you have)
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
powdered sugar (in truth, optional… but just you wait!)
– Oven to 350 degrees please.
– Place almonds, sugar, salt and almond extract in food processor, pulverize.
– Add eggs, butter, kirsch and blend thoroughly.
– Add flour and baking powder, mix until just blended.
– butter/oil/pam/crisco/lard/whatever and flour pan (standard cake pan, torte pan, whatever)
– Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth.
(at this point Sweetheart comes in dripping wet in the middle of it– heading from teaching a children’s music class in Chelsea on his way to Bed-Stuy to lead a rock band of eight year olds– bearing champagne and bacon. le swoon.)
– enlist sweetheart’s help to lick spatula and everything with even a smidge of almond mixture on it clean (optional, encouraged…if you are afraid of raw eggs, then… I am very sorry for you. Egg nog, Southsides, Hollandaise, all other -aises, and sweet batters are some of the best treats around).
– Put un-cake in oven for 30-45 minutes until it turns golden brown and becomes cake.
– Let cool completely, then run a fine knife around the edge and invert on a plate. There is a surprisingly good little drawing of how to do this on my recipe card:
NOW- you are effectively done. BUT- if you’d like to take it a step further, then the easiest and most lovely thing to do next is to decorate it with a powdered sugar relief. Again, if you like making cheap things look expensive (like I do) and easy things look impressive (me too) then this is the kind of next level thing you’ll love.
Cut whatever you’d like out of plain paper– if you are artistically inclined you can get totally crazy, but simple shapes work just as well***– I chose a rainstorm-brings-spring-blooms thing because it’s so wet and nasty out today, but it must be paving the way for crocuses and daffodils like.any.second. Place your cutouts on your lovely almond cake:
Then dust a light sprinkling of powdered sugar over the cutouts using a fine sieve or flour sifter if you’re super fancy:
Then carefully take off the paper cutouts (I used tweezers for this one because the flower stems were as bendy as real flower stems and I didn’t want to color inside the lines by accident).
This is the perfect way to make “a rainy day where you could have gone to see Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts but decided to nap” into “a triumph of home and sweetness, and now let’s have people over to eat it for dessert”.
* Saturday I actually spent in the thrall of a Colum McCann book… I loved his newest and “supported my local bookstore” by buying this one and recommend devoting a Saturday to it wholeheartedly. Lovely and bittersweet and occasionally staggeringly beautiful. Slivovitz and words that taste like wheat and sky.
**The recipe calls for a large food processor, but until Sweetheart’s mama gave us a “Robot Culinaire” for Christmas/Hannukah/New Years, I made it just fine on multiple occasions without (chop the almonds fine fine fine and melt and stir the butter, instead of cubing it- no prob).
*** Other cakes we’ve made in the past month include:
If you make one Please send in a picture (we’ll keep adding on!).
How amazing is this shelf/drawer/dresser?? If only I had enough Tea and Rice, Polenta and… Sand? to fill it’s aerie drawers.
thanks to heart charlie for the image (and the Williamsburg dinner rec. McMc, meet there soon?)
So bizarre, New York City, land of ultimate plenty, where commerce comes to learn, where everything is something to buy and everywhere is somewhere to sell.
Why, commerce shangri la, is it sometimes UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE to find some things?
Where can you get a lampshade? dye remover? a plastic container large enough to hold a huge batch of chicken stock? a tear in a rabbit fur coat mended? A seam ripper and heavy duty button thread?
The serious obvious answers are: the lighting district on the west side of the Bowery, Orchard street below Houston, the restaurant supply stores on the east side of the Bowery, 8th Avenue in the 30’s, and pretty much any place in the garment district, respectively.
But what if I just want a small, beautiful pack of paper needles? A single shade for the worlds tiniest lamp made of a coffee percolater? A pack of RIT? Basic Notions? A handshake and a bit of talk?
Any bright ideas, Brooklyn?