The idea for this cake was born as a result of a challenge — what would a savory version of the Monk’s Hut cake be. Monk’s Lake House is a combination of Rye Galette with Fish and 7-Herb Green Sauce. Because they were born to complement each other!
Монастырская изба is one of the most popular cakes in post-Soviet countries. И за что его не любить? Кислые вишни, песочное тесто, крем из подслащенной густой сметаны — простые и хорошо сочетающиеся ингредиенты. Sour cherries are rolled into a thin layer of dough and baked to look like cilindrical pies. The pies are layered with thick sweetened sour cream to represent a log cabin, то бишь дровяную избу.
Some time ago, my Russian speaking friends were praising Hans Ovando’s brioche with camembert, olives, and bacon. I’ve been thinking about trying this idea with my favorite brioche recipe and local ingredients for a few years. I couldn’t fit it into my schedule until the last December request for brioche class. I suggested making a Sweet Snowflake brioche, for it’s the season. My guests suggested making a savory aka “соленую” salted brioche as it is known in Russian. We made both. The savory brioche turned out to be so good, all of us made it several times after the class for family meals and to gift our friends!
Bird’s Milk is a confectionary and a cake known and loved all over Eastern Europe. There are different versions and different recipes in every country. As a cake, it’s mostly a white, rich souffle between a thin layer of delicate sponge on the bottom (or two thin layers of sponge) and a chocolate glaze on top. One generation passes recipes to the next for decades now. As the name suggests, it’s a delicacy compared to something from a fairy tale.
Those who are familiar with Georgian and Azerbaijani cuisines can easily identify the origins of this recipe. In Georgia, kefalia, a small trout from the mountains of Adjara is stuffed with walnut paste seasoned and adorned with aromatics and herbs and roasted in a clay pot ketsi. A similar way of stuffing and roasting fish (and also poultry and eggplants) is known as Lavangi — a popular festive dish of Azerbaijani cuisine.
There are no secret ingredients that make this sponge different. They are the same as for many other cake sponges — flour, sugar, milk, butter, sugar. It’s the method — how and in what order you combine these simple ingredients together. That’s why it is essential to follow the steps and recommendations. It is also important to bake the sponge gently at a lower temperature. For the best results, Japanese sponge should be baked it a hot bath, but in some cases, it’s impossible (e.g., when the largest available baking dish for the bath doesn’t fit the cake mold you need to use). The next best temperature for a sponge 1″ thick is 325F for 25 minutes, with the bottom of the cake mold wrapped with a wet kitchen towel. Enjoy the recipe!
I am not sure how common a combination of seafood and summer squash flavors is in cooking, but in my mind, it is genius. Mildly flavored seasonal squashes have hints of floral and nutty notes. We recognize the natural sweetness and enjoy their lush and silky texture in fully cooked summer squashes. Would any fish compliment summer squashes? Probably not. We should consider a saltwater fish for umami and complex flavors and give the preference to fatty fish for a tender and moist stuffing. Salmon and halibut come to mind as good candidates that can do the job well.
A frangipane tart with pears might be a classic recipe, but nothing makes it as exciting as stone fruit — peach, nectarine, apricot, plum, etc. Since they belong to the same prunus family, they pair with almond cream better. They belong to each other.
Texas peaches season starts in May and continues till September. For five months, we can enjoy different varieties of local peaches. Early ones are clingstones and have a refreshing tartness which disappears in late summer freestones. An acidic tang in the fruit empowers and balances the sweet creaminess of frangipane at the same time. That’s why now the best time for the frangipane tart with Texas peaches. They are perfect together.
I am not a big fan of that kind of galettes — rustic looking flat cakes stuffed with whatever. This one was the first I’ve ever made, and the reason it made me curious was a combination of fish and rye. The origins of rustic rye pie with fish, I believe, come from Northen Europe. Kalakukko is a good example. My friend’s recipe inspired me to experiment with several rye crust recipes available online to see what’s out there. One, in particular, became my favorite — a crust made with butter using the same method as for the flaky Pâte Brisée. The heirloom Wren Abruzzi rye flour and good tasting butter create an exceptionally flavorful dough that pairs well with many toppings, savory and sweet.
What we call brioche is a bread highly enriched with milk, eggs, and butter. The more eggs and butter in the ratio, the puffier the bread, the more tender its crumb, the longer it stays fresh and soft (read it as moist). Similar dough recipes exist in many cuisines and have different uses. Differently shaped and cooked, brioche is loved all over the world. Alsatian brioche can be less sweet and served with foie gras and Riesling and can be sweeter and served as a dessert with coffee.