This recipe became my ultimate Christmas treat. Just like my other seasonal favorites — Medieval British Fruitcake and German Spiced Christmas Cookies — panforte Margherita is made with a lot of dry fruit and nuts. It also gets better with time when properly stored. But it seems easier and faster to make because there are no time-consuming steps. The original recipe comes from a collection of traditional Tuscan recipes.
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!
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!
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!
Today, canning vegetables at home is mostly reasonable for farmers, I guess, who grow vegetables and need to preserve their harvest. Pickling, on the other hand, is a simple and quick cooking method for summer vegetables. Unlike many overwhelmingly spicy, salty, and vinegary store-bought pickles (they have to be that way for shelf life), homemade pickles can be forgivingly gentle. We can protect their natural flavors, texture, and most importantly, keep their nutrients! Make a few jars at a time, keep them refrigerated, and enjoy your cold, crunchy, refreshing, healthy, comforting vegetables — a great snack to survive Texas summer.
It is the season for zucchini, summer squash, and cucumber flowers. If you see them on Farmers Market and want to, but don’t know how to turn them into a beautiful and healthy dish, this recipe is for you! Note, that stuffing part can be used as a recipe for humble zucchini pancakes when the flowers are not available anymore.
I remember how difficult it was for me to recreate Grüne Sosse in Texas 6 years ago. Two herbs with fresh cucumbery aroma — borage and burnet — were impossible to find. Since they were not available at any local stores or farmers markets, and I tried to grow them, unsuccessfully. Finally, I gave up and replaced them with finely diced cucumber. Who knew a few years later I would find both of them grown by Livin’ Organics farm right here in Spicewood, available almost regularly! This season, Frankfurt-style green sauce is a delicacy I can enjoy more than once during the season.
For those who have never tasted most of the greens on the picture, it probably looks bizarre. A few of my followers commented the same: “It’s a flowerbed!” The truth is, all flavors here are balanced, all herbs work together. It’s fun to taste one of each and recognize a special note that belongs to a plant, and then let your salad fork work and create a perfect load for a full of spring bite.
Both beet varieties in this salad are an heirloom. Detroit red beets are the most popular, often described as “old standard.” Touchstone Gold roots have bright yellow flesh and retain their color when cooked. They are smooth, sweet and tasty, highly flavorful. Creamy Feta dressing with a touch of garlic compliments them, and the toppings add to their beauty. If you like a combination of earthy-sweet and pungent-salty, this salad is for you!
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.