Pound cake is one of the first things I learned to make, and after a couple rough work weeks, it's nice to come home and make something using only ingredients that I already have on hand and following a recipe that's imprinted in my memory. After just a bit of measuring and mixing, pop it in the oven and relax until you're rewarded with warm, buttery goodness. Poundcake might not be trendy or hip or exciting, but you can't deny it's appeal.
And then, because I've made this cake so many times I know it like the back of my hand, I decided to kick it up a notch. Grapefruit's in season now, and I had a lovely ripe one sitting on the counter, so I decided to add some grapefruit to the batter. And because brown sugar and grapefruit pair wonderfully, I replaced half the sugar with brown sugar. These little tweaks were an experiment that definitely paid off.
And, I got to use my pretty new mixing bowl that Hannah got me! Thanks, Hannah!
Prep: preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter your cake pan (you can flour it too; I didn't and it slipped right out of my bundt pan).
Cream your butter and sugar together: 2 sticks of butter, one cup of white sugar, and one cup of brown sugar. It should have the consistency of wet sand.
Add five large eggs, mixing thoroughly after each egg.
Sift together two cups of flour and one teaspoon of baking powder, then add to the wet ingredients.
Then the final touch: one teaspoon of vanilla extract, one tablespoon of fresh grapefruit juice, and one tablespoon of grapefruit zest. Mix everything together thoroughly and then pour into cake pan.
Rap the pan on the counter a few times to knock out the air bubbles and then put it in the oven.
It'll take about 45-55 minutes to bake (my oven runs a little cool I think, so after fifty minutes I turned off the heat and let it sit in the oven with the door closed for another ten minutes or so just to finish firming up). The cake is done when the top is golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan.
Gently slide a knife between pan and cake and then turn it over onto a plate. Let it cool for a few minutes before sprinkling with powdered sugar.
The floral notes of the grapefruit really come through and add some freshness and interest to what could otherwise be a pretty one-note lump of sugary-buttery lead (not that I wouldn't eat that too). I think the brown sugar and extra time in the oven (see below) created some really great textural contrast between the soft crumbs of the interior of the cake and the crunchy sweet crust.
Go for extra credit: You can make a compote to serve alongside the cake, although it is amazing on its own. Supreme your remaining grapefruit and toss with three tablespoons of brown sugar, then let it sit while the cake bakes. A chiffonade of fresh mint on top wouldn't hurt.
Our snowy, three-day Valentine's Day weekend kicked off to an early start with dinner at Vivian and Ryan's and this incredible heart-shaped ice box cake that Vivian made from scratch and that I had to have two helpings of despite being stuffed with all sorts of yummy food, because it was damn good (recipe by Melissa Clark available here).
For the actual big day, we eschewed the crowds at the fancy restaurants and had ourselves an outer borough field trip. We rarely make it to Queens, but a three-day weekend was a good excuse to familiarize ourselves with the 7 train.
First up: the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.
Neither J nor I had been before, and it was really fun! The second floor houses the Museum's "Behind the Scenes" exhibit, which was divided into sections that focused on actors, with really beautiful portraits; directors, including a reel playing iconic clips from classic films; screenwriters, with pages of scripts and filming notes; set and design, with miniature sets and blueprints; costume; make-up (with wigs and masks and prosthetics - some of it was so creepy!). It was all fascinating.
There was a bunch of stuff on sound tracks and sound effects - from a wall of records of famous sound tracks to a station where you could add your own sound effects to different tv and movie clips to a booth where you could record your own dialogue over a movie clip.
I really liked how interactive so much of the exhibit was - in another room, J and I made our own stop motion animation video.
There was also a section about fans - from old fan magazines (I loved these!), to toys and books and other merchandise, to bizarro Star Wars collectibles (like a C-3PO tape dispenser).
Tons of old cameras and televisions, exhibits recalling Astoria's heyday as a popular shooting location, and a take on a retro movie palace theater that you could roam through.
Plus a section showing how baseball games are televised - you see a game playing through nine different cameras as well as a shot of the director in the booth calling the shots, and then another screen shows what actually makes it onto t.v. It was fascinating.
The museum was also hosting Indiecade - an annual festival of indie video games. This year's theme was love and sex - we tried to play the Realistic Kissing Simulator but were never able to figure out how to make our characters kiss!
From there, we headed out to Flushing for dinner.
About a block from the 7 train stop, Fu Run makes many "best of Flushing" lists, and holy cow. It was so good. I don't have the words to do it justice.
We got the triple vegetable delight - tender eggplant and taro that was starchy and creamy on the inside and crunchy and deliciously fried on the outside and enough peppers for a bite; garlic sauteed pea shoots, which I could eat every day; fried fish in a spicy, fragrant sauce; and the Muslim lamb chops.
Oh my God. The lamb was perfectly cooked, tender and falling off the bone, but the incredible part was that cumin-overload of a crust. I don't know that I would say it's the best thing that I've ever eaten, but I actually felt dazed and high afterwards, and it was strangely addictive - I'm still craving more.
Also, the two dollar beers didn't hurt.
We stuffed ourselves to the gills and packed up the rest to take home (best leftovers ever), then stopped by Iris Tea & Bakery on the way back to the train station to pick up some dessert. I was too full to finish everything that night, but my Taiwanese pineapple bun was a yummy breakfast the next day :)
Well my loves, it's been busy around here, but our roommate has moved out and now J & I have what I never dreamed possible in a New York apartment: a guest room. A real, actual, grown-up guest room!
We've cleaned it up but before a guest can come and stay, we've got to decorate. I'm aiming for a bright and cheery and cozy look: we've started with these organic cotton sheets with a light gray polka dot pattern and this beautiful (and durable, and eco-friendly) rug from hook & loom. And all our overflow books that were getting stacked in heaps on the living room bookshelf (and on my nightstand, and the floor, and over J's desk . . . ) now have a new home in the guest room.
So now that we have the bare bones in place, it's time to pretty it up and get some art on those walls. I love Paul Ferney's work, especially his Let Them Eat Cake series (the orangesicle and le fleur prints in particular - they evoke that warm, happy feeling I'm going for with this room), and I hardcore covet Gray Malin's photography (all of it, but I think the New York series would be so perfect for our guest room, if not necessarily our budget). (I also very much want this print for my office).
So that's my little nesting update. Let's check in around the world wide web:
There's something about this dish that feels so much more luxuriant and indulgent than it actually is. Maybe it's the richly caramelized onions, or the pretty presentation of heaping said onions in the acorn squash halves that make perfect little bowls, but this feels like a treat even though it's healthy and seasonal and making it couldn't be simpler.
I started with two small onions, cleaned and peeled and halved and then sliced thin. I also minced one clove of garlic.
In a cast iron pan on low heat, I melted one tablespoon of butter along with one tablespoon of olive oil. I added the garlic, a dusting of crushed red pepper flakes and a small sprinkle of dried thyme (no more than 1/4 teaspoon, I'd estimate). If you have fresh rosemary, a sprig would be great here also.
I let that swirl around for about thirty seconds - you don't want the garlic to brown or burn - and then added the onions. Season generously with salt, black pepper, and one teaspoon brown sugar.
Let that caramelize - don't stir too often or you won't get that lovely brown color, and don't try to speed things up by raising the heat. Low and slow is what you want.
This took about thirty-five minutes or so. Half way through I added a shot of brandy - the alcohol and sweetness helping to heighten the caramelization.
Meanwhile, prep your squash. Start by washing it off (since you'll be serving it with the skin on) and poking a few holes into it with a fork.
When roasting any hearty squash, I like to pop it into the microwave for a few minutes (this one is a smaller squash, so 2-3 minutes should do the trick) just to soften it up a little before cutting it in half.
After I took the squash out of the microwave and let it cool, I cut it in half and scooped out the seeds and guts. (Save the seeds to roast if that's your thing, obvi).
Then I rubbed both halves with olive oil and sprinkled generously with sea salt, black pepper, and a dash of garlic powder.
Place both halves on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees until soft and cooked through, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Fill your acorn squash halves with the caramelized onions and serve. A scattering of chopped chives sprinkled on top would be nice too.
The squash is so hearty, and the onions so flavorful, this is perfect as a vegetarian entree.
To serve more than two people, just cut the squash into wedges or slices rather than halves, and drape the onions on top.
I got a new phone in December and waited all of maybe three days before the first time I dropped it on the floor with a resounding crash.
Given that, it's no shock that only a month later, a little corner is already cracked. J's been bugging me since Day 1 to get a case, and now he has ammunition for his case. I'd been resisting because I think my phone by itself is just so pretty, but it looks like I can't hold out much longer.
Here are some cute cases I've come across in my hunt for a little cellular protection. With so many cute options, it'll be hard to pick just one.
(L-R, top to bottom)
1.) Petite gold dots
2.) I am very busy
3.) Violet floral
4.) Don't forget to play
5.) My favorite shape
6.) Nothing more
7.) Neon and wood
8.) Red floral on black
Stop Looking at Me print by Megan Spencer.
That clever title is just me NY-neighborhood-ing the main ingredients for this easy, warming, comforting soup: spinach, sweet potato, and sausage, adapted from this Smitten Kitchen recipe.
We made a big pot of this with spicy turkey sausage from the farmer's market for a baby shower recently and it was quickly dispatched; since I had most of the ingredients leftover to make another batch, I think you can see where this is going.
Start by prepping your veggies: chop two small onions, mince three cloves of garlic, chop up one small bag of baby red potatoes (you can remove the skins if you want to - they do get a little bothersome in the soup, but I didn't really mind it) and peel and chop two sweet potatoes. (I ended up reserving half of one of those sweet potatoes because they were such hefty guys).
Then brown your sausage in a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven. I used three green chili chicken sausages. The chili gives it a little bit of spice, which gets nicely balanced out by the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. Because chicken sausage isn't as fatty as pork, I helped it along with two tablespoons of olive oil.
After the sausage is nice and brown and gorgeous (don't rush it!), remove it from the pot and set aside. Don't drain out the oil - instead, dump in your onions and garlic. I add a quarter cup of sherry vinegar to pick up all that nice brown crust that had started to form on the bottom of the pan, and half a teaspoon of red chili pepper for a little more heat.
Cook the onions and garlic down until soft, then add your potatoes and sweet potatoes and continue to saute for a few minutes until everything has started to soften.
Next, add two quarts of broth (veggie or chicken is fine) and let everything come to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are soft and velvety smooth (about twenty to thirty minutes).
Then add one 15 ounce can of white beans (drained), the browned sausage, and a giant bunch of spinach (you can use baby or regular; I left the stems in on mine). Add about a half teaspoon of black pepper and mix thoroughly.
Keep your cooking assistant out of the pot (it will be tough - that sausage smells good!).
Once the spinach has wilted down - about three minutes - you're ready to eat! This soup has everything - a little bit hearty (from the potatoes and beans), a little bit light and healthy (from the broth and the spinach), plenty of flavor from the sausage and a bowl of this is perfectly warming and comforting and delicious without having had to spend hours simmering on the stove or braising in an oven.
Everything Is Going to Be Okay from row boat press.