shakshuka o's

Sugar beet harvest is officially dunzo!!!!!!!!!! Eggboy can finally catch up on sleep, there’s a celebratory brisket in the oven, and I still have three entire seasons of Pretty Little Liars to watch, which means that harvest wasn’t nearly has long as it could have been. Last year they were still harvesting on October 20th so the fact that this year they finished on the 13th is reason to party extra hard. We’re having the whole crew over tonight for brisket, Mac and cheese, corn bread, live accordion music by Sheila, and the presentation for the award for whoever transported the last truck of beets from the field to the plant. Then E-boy will probably sleep until it’s time to go to the hockey game tomorrow night. 

Here’s a little recipe that is partially Eggboy’s invention! It’s a riff on the Shakshuka Couscous from Molly on the Range that was invented when I was trying to figure out if we should have Shakshuka or couscous for dinner one night and Eggboy just said the two words together as if they were one dish. It was the same tone in which he suggested the train wreck that was “chicken pot babka” only this time it actually sounded like a good idea. So I went with it and it turned out to be an awesome heartier take on Shakshuka, almost like one of those one pot pasta recipes that are all over the internet. And then when I was in Maine a couple of months ago demoing this dish at Stonewall Kitchen, my friend Jeff (the same Jeff who dragged me for Tahdig Shakshuka) was all why isn’t this actually Shakshuka O’s?? That’s way more fun. And suddenly I was transported back to my Hello Kitty days when the most amount of vegetables I’d eat in one meal would be the carrots and onions in an individually sized microwaveable chef boyardee cup. And the most amount of meat I’d eat would be the tiny meatballs therein... 

And so a very nostalgic dish was born! 

The only special ingredient you need here is large ring pasta, which occupies most pasta aisles I think. I’m sure small rings or stars would work (although I don’t think stars would have the correct mouthfeel), and I really wanted to track down that Manischewitz Hebrew letter pasta since my Hebrew lessons start today (!!!!!) but alas it was discontinued years ago. Sad trombone! This dish is so much fun to eat though, and perfect for rainy nights when you don't feel like going to the store because all of the ingredients are super easy to have on hand (like my endless tub of feta that should have expired months ago but hasn't yet). If you thought that spaghetti-o's was at the height of its tastiness, you clearly haven’t had it with a soft cooked egg mingling its way into the sauce, making it rich and creamy. And with cumin and feta and harissa and all of the other tasty additions that make shakshuka so special. Get on this you guys! Happy weekend!! 

shakshuka o's

makes 4 servings

ingredients

3 tb olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

kosher salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tb ground cumin

2 tsp harissa, or more to taste

1/2 tsp paprika

black pepper

crushed red pepper

1 tb tomato paste

1 can or carton (28 oz) chopped tomatoes

1 tsp sugar

3/4 c large ring pasta

1/2 c vegetable stock

4 large eggs

a few handfuls of crumbled feta

a handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro or a mix

clues

in a large skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. add the onion, carrots, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, 10-12 minutes. add the garlic, cumin, harissa, paprika, a good pinch of salt, a few turns of black pepper, and a pinch of red chili flakes and cook until it's all dreamy and smelly, about 2 minutes. stir in the tomato paste, then the chopped tomatoes and sugar. reduce the heat to low, stir in the pasta rings and broth, cover and simmer for about 8 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.

create 4 little wells and crack in your eggs. cover and simmer until the whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny, begin checking at 5 minutes. sprinkle the eggs with a little salt and black pepper, drizzle the whole dish with olive oil, top with feta and herbs, and serve.


-yeh!

maple tahini cupcakes with labneh frosting

I’ve just gotten home from the most delightful weekend bop over to Chicago for the wedding of one of my oldest homies, Stefani! We used to play a lot of marimba together and then at one point we overlapped in New York where we’d pull all nighters and party like crazy ladies. And by all nighters, I mean one time we stayed out all night long until the Lower East Side Doughnut Plant opened at 6:30am and then got one of each doughnut and it was the best and I’m never gonna forget that. (omg i just realized i blogged about it eight years ago, i'm so embarrassed.)  

Now she is all wifed up and I had the honor of making* the wedding cake!! The bottom tier was pumpkin with vanilla buttercream and the top tier was the hazelnut horse cake from motr. I did a test run of the birch cake decor a few weeks ago and I'm very glad I did because it turns out that there is a very fine line between birch cake and poop stain cake.

*baking, freezing, sticking in a cooler, checking on a plane, and decorating at mum’s house. It was my second time doing that this year and it was way less stressful than flying with a wedding cake sounds! 

Also this weekend I got to see my family, eat some blinchiki at Russian Tea Time, and noodle around up near the Wisconsin border since mum just moved there and that area is so great! Especially with all of the fall leaves. We went to the Mars Cheese Castle. If you don’t know what that is, just imagine the type of place that *would* be called the Mars Cheese Castle and there you have it. I got a bunch of smoked cheese and fancy string cheese that is going to be my dinner because Eggboy is still harvesting up a storm.

Now I’m back with no travel plans until Thanksgiving and I could not be more excited to hibernate to the tune of Hallmark movies and UND hockey games. Winter, get @ me!!!! Also!! I start Hebrew lessons this week!!!!!! A Rabbi has moved to town and I jumped at the opportunity to take Hebrew. Right now I know: ken, lo, boker tov, bamba, and… gal gadot. I’m so excited. 

These cupcakes are the recipe for another wedding cake that I made for this weekend (it was a two-cake weekend)! Asha, the co-founder of Cake in a Crate, and Andy, the other founder and one of my former college classmates, got hitched in Vermont and I mailed them a very Vermonty cake that was filled with maple and tahini and covered with marzipan! I loved making this cake for them because it obviously had my two greatest food loves in life and also because I got to develop this new recipe for it. I don’t think I’ve ever put maple with tahini before but it turns out it’s a wonderful cozy warm combination. For Asha and Andy’s cake, we brightened up the warmth with a layer of raspberry jam before layering on the marzipan, but for this cupcake version I’ve added labneh. It makes for a topping that’s lighter than cream cheese frosting but heavier and tangier than whipped cream. There’s not much to it at all, it almost feels silly to call it a frosting since it’s literally just sweetened labneh. But with a zest of a lemon and a luxurious swoop, you’ve got yourself a lovely little cake. And the poppy seeds are like a minimalist sprinkle as well as a nod to the buckwheat labneh cake at tandem coffee, which inspired me to get hip to labneh frosting!


maple tahini cupcakes with labneh frosting

makes 16 cupcakes

ingredients

cupcakes:

1 c + 2 tb (142g) flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 large egg
6 tb (120g) maple syrup
1/2 c (100g) sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp maple extract
1/2 c (120g) buttermilk
1/4 c (50g) flavorless oil
1/4 c (60g) water
1/2 c (100g) tahini

frosting:

1 2/3 c (400g) labneh
1/4 c (30g) powdered sugar
a pinch of kosher salt
zest of 1/2 a lemon

poppy seeds and lemon zest, for decorating

clues

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350ºf and distribute 16 muffin liners evenly between two muffin tins. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the egg, maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, maple extract, buttermilk, oil, water, and tahini. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Fill the muffin liners equally and then bake until as toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; begin checking for doneness at 15 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, mix together the labneh, powdered sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Taste and adjust as desired. 

Spread the frosting onto the cupcakes, sprinkle with poppy seeds and lemon zest and enjoy! These are best the day of. 


-yeh!

chocolate sheet cake with pistachio butter frosting

Sugar beet harvest is well underway!!!! It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year. It’s by far the busiest and the sleepiest, but also the most exciting. Eggboy has a weird, vaguely nocturnal sleep schedule which has me waking up way before him (this has been a little nerve wracking since he’s the only one who knows how to operate our very complicated coffee grinder) but it means that I can make a big breakfast when he wakes up in the afternoon. Tonight will be my first night home during harvest since I was away over the weekend and I intend to just binge Pretty Little Liars and restock the freezer with pita and soup for quick harvest break snackees. Good thing there are enough PLL seasons to take me through even the longest of harvests, which luckily this doesn’t seem like it’s going to be. Based on my extremely limited knowledge, I’m gonna bet you a dollar that this harvest will take shorter than last year’s verkakte muddy harvest but longer than the easy breezy beautiful year before that. Which affects you and me in the sense that it determines how many baked goodies I make for the crew. I filled our deep freeze with pumpkin bread, blueberry scones, and a funfetti cake last week before I scampered off for a quick trip to Harbor Springs, Michigan, for a Molly on the Range event and then to Boston for the Forbes Under 30 summit. 

Wow, Harbor Springs is one of the prettiest cutest places in the world! I could eat it all up. Or at least see myself going back again and again to crash the book festival and look at the beautiful houses. I got to stay with Maureen, who wrote one of my favorite cookbooks, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, and we made raw kibbeh!! It was a dream come true. I’ve been wanting to make raw kibbeh since reading about it in her book but was never confident enough in my butcher finding skills to get clean enough beef that could be eaten raw. So I waited until I got to Harbor Springs, and then we feasted on raw kibbeh, baked kibbeh, fattoush, hummus, knafeh, and this amazing sticky date cake with orange blossom caramel. I also got to hang with Nicole and a whole bunch of new sweet people. It was heaven! 

After Michigan I zipped on over to Boston for a quick day and a half at the Forbes Under 30 summit, surrounded by break fast at Mamaleh’s (with a truly inspirational kasha varnishkes), brunch time tahini buns, sofra with family, and then sofra again with friends, and some hardcore catching up with old college homies. I was in a cloud of congestion and snotty tissues (ew gross sorry forget I said that) but came home with a full heart and a full suitcase of saffron gummies, aleppo pepper, the la boîte halva mix, and Maureen’s nougatsA+ souvenirs

Ok one last thing before we get to cake: Molly on the Range turns one today!!!!!! I can hardly believe it! This last year has been a year filled to the brim with your sweet posts and messages about recipes you’ve made from MOTR and they make me the happiest bean in the world. I love seeing you guys celebrate birthdays and holidays with MOTR cakes and challah and schnitzel and I am so freaking happy that I've gotten to meet and hug so many of you at book events. I cannot thank you enough for how much joy your support of Molly on the Range has brought me over this past year. I am going to try and express all of my gratitude by making some of your favorite foods though!! Since so many of the recipes in MOTR were homemade versions of my childhood favorite foods (lunchables, pigs in blankets, you know…), I want you to hop over here and tell me some of your crazy childhood favorite foods and then I’m going to pick a few to recreate from scratch! If yours gets picked, you’ll get a special one of a kind edition of Molly on the Range :) Head to Instagram for more details.

Alright, cake time!!!! Because all of this harvesting and book birthdaying is calling for celebration. Eggboy put this cake out for all of our harvest helpers on the first day of harvest and from what I can tell, it got gobbled up immediately. It’s your basic super rich chocolate sheet cake covered in a buttercream that has my current obsession, pistachio butter, all up in it. It’s the same pistachio butter that was in these pudding pops but now that it’s getting a little colder I’m giving you a more weather appropriate use for it. Pistachio butter, the fanciest of the nut butters (?), is so great in this buttercream. Just think of how great peanut butter frosting is and then... make it pistachio. This frosting is rich, pistachio-y, a little lemony, and almondy. AKA basically perfect and greenish, the best color. Hooray!   


chocolate sheet cake with pistachio butter frosting

makes one 9" x 13" sheet cake

ingredients

for the cake:

1 3/4 c (350g) sugar

1 3/4 c (223g) all-purpose flour

1 c (85g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 large eggs

1 c (240g) buttermilk

1 tb vanilla extract

1/2 c (100g) flavorless oil

3/4 c (178g) boiling water

for the frosting:

1 c (128g) roasted pistachios (preferably unsalted)

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, softened

3 c (360g) powdered sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt (omit if pistachios are salted)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

zest of 1/2 a lemon

2 tb heavy cream

clues

for the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottom of a 9" by 13" pan with parchment paper.

in a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda. in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and oil. add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. whisk in the boiling water.

pour the batter into the cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. let cool in the pan.

for the frosting: 

first, make the pistachio butter. in a food processor, blend the pistachios, scraping the sides occasionally, until very creamy and spreadable, about 5-10 minutes.

with an electric mixer to beat together the butter and pistachio butter until creamy. add the powdered sugar and mix to combine and then mix in the salt, vanilla, and almond extract, and then heavy cream. 

spread all over the cake, decorate as desired, and enjoy! 


-yeh!

everything bagels and blueberry lox!

Hi and welcome to a big moment in my personal bagel and lox journey! This journey began at the beginning of this year when I made the decision to move bagels and lox from the category of “things best left up to the experts and eaten only in new york” into the category of “things we can make at home because ughh flights to new york take so longgg and absolute bagel drone delivery doesn’t exist yet.” What took me so long to make this decision? A few things: 

-Requirements for special ingredients that aren't readily available at the Hugo's Family Marketplace down the road

-All this talk of maybe needing special “New York water”

-A general lack of fish knowledge

-Fear of recipes that require multiple days to make

Eventually my bagel craving got too big however, so I started researching, listening to bagel podcasts, reading recipes, and talking about my imminent journey to anybody who would listen. Two bagel experts emerged in town: Robert, who used to own a bagel shop in Idaho, and my friend Dave, a New York native and fantastic bread maker. Robert and I began making bagels every Sunday at our sadly now closed co-op, and Dave served as my recipe and special ingredient consultant. I learned what I could about the bagel shops that used to be in Grand Forks (one of them apparently flew bagels in from New York every day?!) and started listing features of a good bagel and lox: chewiness, doughiness, plumpness, a bit of sweetness, some texture that fights you but not too much, a very small if not closed up hole, bagel-y flavor (whatever that is), fluffy cream cheese, thinly sliced aggressively salty lox, capers, tomatoes, onions, Sunday morning chill. At one point after I spoke about my journey on Unorthodox, this Star Tribune recipe appeared in my inbox from Jonathan, Mark the Host’s brother, affirming that this was my “path to bagel heaven.” (The recipe I now use is a descendent of this one!) 

All you need is high gluten flour and barley malt! Is what I learned from Dave. No New York water necessary. Just flour and a syrupy substance, two easily Amazonable things, and a few basic pantry staples, I had no excuse. So I bought 50 pounds of high gluten flour and got to work on my at-home bagel practice. 

Some things I learned about bagels:

-Barley Malt makes bagel-y flavor! I like adding it to the dough and to the water when boiling them. It lends that distinct bit of sweetness that makes bagel flavor so good. 

-Once the dough is formed into bagels, they get really sticky. So when I tell you in the instructions to line your pan with parchment and grease it, do that and do it well!

-But they don’t stick to the toppings! So Dave and I use egg wash to help them stick. (Vegan bagel-ers, what would be a good substitution for this?)

-One minute on each side is a perfect amount of time to boil your bagels to get a deliciously chewy crust and doughy inside. Any longer and the crust fights you a little too much.

-I’ve had the most success letting the dough proof overnight in the fridge and then shaping them and boiling. Some recipes have you shape the night before and then refrigerate and then boil and bake. Mine always fell flat when I did this. Any thoughts?

(flat bagel 👆🏼)

-Bread flour can be substituted for high gluten flour, says Dave, simply knead for a few minutes longer to develop more gluten in the dough. 

-I suck at the shaping method where you make a long snake and then roll the two ends together (I think this is more traditional??) so I stick to the method where you make a ball and poke your thumb through, as demonstrated in the above video. Both taste great :)

-These bagels freeze beautifully!! 

After a few months of bagel practice, my journey took me to Alaska for salmon!! It was one of the best trips of my life (thank you, Copper River!)! Gerry, Nik, Alana, Kristan, Rob, and I stayed in the itsy bitsy town of Cordova, right near the Copper River, where some of the world’s tastiest wild salmon is caught, and learned about and ate salmon all day. I knew nothing about salmon before this trip and I didn’t actually really like it except for in lox (omg I’m sorry!), but now I can’t get enough of it.

Here are some pics from my trip!

Some things I learned about salmon and lox:

-Lox = Salmon cured with salt. Gravlax = Salmon cured with salt, sugar, dill, and spices. I wasn’t sure what name to go with for this blueberry recipe at first, but since there are no spices or dill and since we’re eating this on a bagel, I’m going with lox. But I think gravlax will totally work too, right?

-Wild salmon is pretty much only caught in the Pacific Ocean. (Salmon from the Atlantic is usually farmed.) And most of the wild salmon that we eat in the states comes from Alaska.

-Wild salmon is caught at the end of its life cycle, while it’s making the journey back to its birth place (somehow it remembers and knows to do this?!). Since the Copper River is super long, salmon need to be extra fatty in order to make that journey, making it super flavorful. (Check out Gerry's and Nik's posts about our trip to learn more about this process!)

-Filleting is hard! Fisherman Ian and Kinsey from Copper River both showed me. I know that you should have a flexible knife. But past that I'm useless and definitely need some practice. Thankfully, fishmongers will fillet it for you and get all of the pin bones out. 

-Any salmon that you’re going to eat uncooked (like lox or sushi) should be frozen for at least 24 hours before preparation to kill any bad cooties. 

-Cutting lox is hard! Getting it as thin as they do at Russ and Daughters is something I may never be able to do but I have a deep freeze full of bagels and an endless appetite for lox so I have time to practice... 

The videos above are a culmination of my bagel and lox journey, and I’m so excited to share them in time for Yom Kippur!! (I'm already plotting out part 3, a how-to for fluffy bagel shop cream cheese...) The lox takes about three days to cure so if you get started *now* it'll be ready for Saturday evening. Happy bagel and lox-ing everyone!

Everything Bagels

Makes 12

Ingredients

2 c (474g) warm water (105º-110º)

2 tsp active dry yeast

2 tb (25g) brown sugar

1 tb salt

2 tb (42g) barley malt, divided

6 c (762g) high gluten flour, plus more for dusting

1 tb baking soda

Topping

2 tsp poppy seeds

2 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp dried minced garlic

1 tsp dried minced onion

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp caraway seeds, optional

1 egg white, beaten

Clues

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and a teaspoon of the brown sugar and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the brown sugar, salt, 1 tablespoon barley malt, and flour and mix to form a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and slightly sticky. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. 

Let the dough sit at room temperature for an hour and then turn it out onto a clean work surface. Divide it into 12 equal parts and stretch them into smooth balls, making sure to seal any dough seams well. Shape the bagels by sticking your thumb through the center of each ball and using your fingers to gently stretch a 2” hole. Cover the bagels with a towel and let rise for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450º. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the baking soda and remaining tablespoon of barley malt. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and grease them well. Also lay out a clean kitchen towel near your pot of boiling water.

Working with 3 bagels at a time, boil them for 1 minute on each side (use a timer for this). With a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer them briefly to the kitchen towel to catch any excess moisture and then transfer them to the baking sheets. 

To make the topping, combine the poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, onion, salt, and caraway seeds, if using. Brush the bagels with the egg white and sprinkle with the topping. Bake the bagels for 10 minutes, switch racks and rotate the pans 180º, and bake for 6-8 more minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly and enjoy! 

Leftovers can be frozen and reheated in the toaster!


One of the best things we ate in Alaska was BLUEBERRY LOX, made by Diane Wiese, an amazing cook in Cordova who comes from a family of fisherman. The lox had the most beautiful blue edges, a faint blueberry flavor, and was super smoky, almost bacon-y. I couldn’t stop eating it!! So when I got home, I figured, if I’m going to make lox from scratch, it should definitely be blue! So this lox recipe is inspired by Diane’s blueberry lox!

Blueberry Lox

Makes 1 fillet

Ingredients

1 c (230g) kosher salt

3/4 c (150g) sugar

2 c (280g) frozen wild blueberries

Zest of 1 lemon

1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Black pepper

1 salmon fillet (about 3 pounds), pin bones removed and halved horizontally 

Clues

In a large bowl, combine salt, sugar, blueberries, lemon zest, cilantro, liquid smoke, and a bunch of turns of black pepper. Lay a large piece of plastic wrap down on a work surface and place a small handful of the blueberry mixture in the middle (I recommend wearing gloves for this). Place half of the fillet skin side down over the mixture, top it with most of the remaining blueberry mixture, and then top that with the other half of the fillet, flesh side down. Cover the top and sides with the remaining blueberry mixture, making sure that all parts of the fish are covered. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, place on a rimmed baking sheet, cover it with a cutting board, and weigh it down with something heavy (a few bricks, some cans, a cast iron pot). Refrigerate it for 3-5 days, flipping every 12 hours and pouring out any juices as they accumulate in the pan. It’s ready when the fish is firm to the touch. Rinse off the curing mixture, pat it dry, and slice it as thinly as possible. Enjoy! Keep leftovers wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 5 days. 


-yeh!! 

Big huge thank you to Copper River for such an amazing trip, videographer Rob for making these videos, Dave the bagel maker, Fisherman Ian, Diane Wiese, and everyone else involved in my bagel and lox journey!


pssst... molly on the range turns one next week!!! and i'm doing a big silly giveaway about it. head over here to enter!