citrus rose thyme loaf cake

This is a fantastic phase of summer!!! Everything in our garden is suddenly ripe or about to be, the weather is still warm but hints to us in the evenings that fall is coming, school supply commercials are on the TV (!!!!!!!), and Eggboy is in his calm before the harvest storm. July is the month that is safely nestled between the end of spring planting the beginning of fall harvest, which means that he can take full days off at a time to do things like zip down to Chicago for a quick lil visit and clean out half of his office to make room for a desk for me so that I can clear out my kitchen desk to make room for our rice cooker and microwave. Going to Chicago and making room for our rice cooker have both provided me with endless amusement and excitement.

We had just a couple of days in Chicago last week, but we packed them to the brim with fun awesome summery things: Rite of Spring at Ravinia followed by a trip down Steak n Shake nostalgia lane with Jaclyn and Katie, falafel twice from my favorite falafel place, a Cubs game (which felt a little weird since I grew up a Sox fan but the Sox were at an away game and E-boy wanted to see Wrigley Field), a stroll around the Botanic Garden that transported us to Japan and back, and a Frank Lloyd Wright walking tour which honestly freaked me out because his houses, while beautiful, look dark and haunted. I also got to sample a ton of sweets that Mia made at baking and pastry camp. Baking and pastry camp!!! Kids are so cool these days. Overall it was a successful trip but I unfortunately could not locate the Caboodles in my stash of childhood things at my mom’s house so after this I’m going to put on my helmet and dig through Ebay. I mean, name a more perfect food coloring and piping tip container.

Speaking of cake decorating supplies, here’s a cake!!!

In Paris I spotted a beautiful citrus rose loaf cake at Rose Bakery and promptly wanted to recreate it. My version is similar to the grapefruit olive oil yogurt loaf in Short Stack Yogurt but uses lemon in the batter and rosewater in the glaze, and is sprinkled with fresh thyme since the thyme in our garden is currently very happy. The texture of this cake is what I love most: it is soo dense and luxuriously moist, yet it doesn’t feel too heavy thanks to the brightness of the citrus. And this is a really versatile cake! My friend Sam used orange zest/juice in this to make a layer for her wedding cake, and while I’ve never tried it, I feel like lime would be delicious in this as well. Overall it's a very simple cake to make but between the olive oil, rosewater, and thyme, it totally tastes ~fancy~.


citrus rose thyme loaf cake

makes 1 loaf

ingredients

1 1/2 c (190g) all-purpose flour
1/2 c (56g) almond meal
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, from about 2 sprigs, plus more for decorating
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c (68g) lemon juice (from about 1-2 lemons)
3/4 c (169g) whole milk greek yogurt
3/4 c (150g) extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 c (250g) sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp almond extract

Glaze
1 c (120g) powdered sugar
2-3 tb (28g-42g) whole milk greek yogurt
3/4 tsp rosewater
1/4 tsp almond extract
A pinch of kosher salt

red or pink food coloring, optional

sprinkles, for decorating, optional
 

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper so that the parchment comes up all the way on two of the sides. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, thyme, and zest. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and yogurt until very smooth. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and sugar until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking very well after each. Stir in the almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and yogurt mixture in three alternating additions, whisking after each until just combined. Pour into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; begin checking for doneness at 55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then use the parchment wings to lift the loaf out of the pan and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons yogurt, rosewater, almond extract, salt, and food coloring, if using. It will seem like there isn’t enough yogurt at first but keep on stirring. If the mixture is too thick to spread once it’s fully combined, add more yogurt bit by bit until it becomes spreadable but you want it fairly thick so that the drips hold their shape down the side of the cake. Spread the glaze onto the top of the cooled cake, sprinkle with thyme leaves and sprinkles and enjoy.
 


-yeh!

cheese borek

What a delightful birthday month this has been so far! I can’t really say I’ve done too much out of the ordinary other than receive a Jason Brown hug and tell all of my favorite figure skaters to their beautiful glowing faces that I love them. (Stars on Ice was sooo good!!!) I picked rhubarb with Sven, made cake after cake, ate cheesy pickles with my homies, and listened to a lot of Live from Here and Little Fires Everywhere on tape. I also treated myself to sprinkle pillowcases and socks. Nothing too wild, yet everything I love. And now this week I am heading to Paris for the first time ever, with Lily and Sarah and Bonne Maman, and I am so excited!!! I am bringing some new disposable cameras I just discovered, don’t those look fun?? More on Paris later...

Right now I am enacting a new birthday month tradition which includes reflecting back on all of the best things I ate this year during my travels and cooking one of them. There was an amazing crispy rice salad at Hai Hai, in Minneapolis, that was like eating a bowl of fried chicken breading and tons of fresh herbs, my favorite doughy breakfast burrito at Los Favoritos, in Arizona, an avocado toast to end all avocado toasts at Lodge Bread Co, in LA, a lobster in Maine, salmon in Alaska, and Bulgogi in Korea. One thing that haunts me particularly regularly though is the borek that I ate at Sofra, in Cambridge, with Zach and Jeff. It was October, it was unseasonably warm so we sat outside, we ordered one of almost everything, and I was sick as a pup! So I was mainly focused on navigating my utensils and bites in such a way that wouldn’t spread my cooties to anyone else. But then I tasted the borek and, goodness gosh geez, I could have died after that first bite. 

It’s… illegally good. It’s kind of like a slice of mac and cheese that’s been crisped up in a skillet, but it’s milder and doughier than that. On the sweet/savory spectrum it's about halfway between a lasagna and a kugel. Structurally it's layered like a lasagna, with Yufka, which is a Turkish flatbread that's thicker than phyllo dough and thinner than a tortilla, and it has fresh mozzarella in it, so it’s very creamy and doesn’t have any sharpness. It's also yogurty, so it has some subtle sourness, and there’s an egg custard situation swimming into the layers, holding everything together, ohmygahhh it’s good. 

After tracking down the recipe in Sofra's book, I’ve decided that It’s actually insane that such a simple set of ingredients can make something this delicious. Basically what you do, or rather what I did since I didn’t plan ahead far enough to order Yufka dough online, is you knead together a simple flour/water/olive oil dough and then roll it out until it's very very thin (I used my pasta roller). Then you layer it with yogurty milk and grated fresh mozzarella. I’d never grated fresh mozzarella before but it turns out you can do that! Unlike lasagna, the layers don’t get boiled or cooked at all before layering up with the yogurt and cheese which makes them soak everything up and stay soft and doughy in the oven.

Then after it's baked, you brown slices on both sides and eat them with grated tomato. Then you die!!!

If you don’t have yufka dough and choose to make your own, use a double batch of this recipe. Roll it out to the second thinnest setting on your pasta roller and cut out enough rectangles to make eight layers (it's ok if there's some overlap). You can either roll them all out at once and keep them separated with a dusting of flour and layers of parchment until the rest of your borek ingredients are ready, or you can roll them out as you assemble the borek. Doing this will make this process long but it will be 100% worth it. And a great thing about this borek is that you can make it a day or two in advance and reheat slices in a pan before serving.


cheese borek

serves 10 to 12

from soframiz by ana sortun and maura kilpatrick of sofra

ingredients

1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 c whole milk 

3/4 c (164g) plain whole milk Greek yogurt

1 tsp kosher salt

2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks

4 sheets store-bought yufka pastry, weighing about 2 pounds (907g) (many brands of yufka are available online)

4 (4-oz) balls buffalo milk mozzarella, grated

3 tb all-purpose flour

2 tb nigella seeds (note: I used poppy seeds!)

tomatoes, grated with the big holes of a box grater, for serving

clues

preheat the oven to 425ºf. butter an 8-inch square baking dish or an 11 by 7-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.

in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, salt, and whole eggs until very smooth. whisk in the remaining 7 tablespoons of melted butter.

cut the yufka so that you have about eight large pieces that cover the bottom of the pan. it's okay if they don't fit the pan perfectly or if the edges hang over; you can fold everything over the top at the end of assembling.

place one layer of yufka on the bottom of the pan and brush lavishly with the milk mixture. repeat until you have four layers of brushed pastry. distribute the mozzarella over the top of the four soaked yufka layers. place another four layers of yufka over the cheese filling, brushing with the milk mixture between every layer. 

using a small knife, cut the borek, scoring the pastry so that the custard seeps into the cuts. make 10 to 12 cuts. it doesn't matter if it breaks the pastry: you can press it back down with your hands. you don't need to worry about doing it neatly; the cuts will disappear while the borek bakes.

mix the remaining milk mixture with the egg yolks and flour. pour over the top and let soak for 20 minutes. eventually, the liquid soaks into the pie, so don't worry if it seems like a lot. sprinkle the top with the nigella seeds.

place the borek in the oven and lower the heat to 350ºf. bale for about 50 minutes, until golden on top and puffy. let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. either serve as is or heat a skillet and brown on both sides.

serve with grated tomato.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen!

and this apron is part of enrich and endure's new line! i'm hosting a giveaway with them right this way!

pita and greens benedict with feta cream

Not to talk about the weather but because a dramatic shift in weather also means an actual dramatic shift in our life as farm humans: it is spring!! The snow has melted, the birds are chirping, the heat has been turned off, I’m deep in #VestLife, and the chickens are sooooo happy that they have more sunlight and grass to waddle around in. Last week, Eggboy put his farm hat on for the first time this year which means that spring planting is near and he’ll soon start coming in later and later at night smelling like sweat and dirt. The fields are bare right now but in a few weeks they’ll have little sprouts popping out all over and soon we’ll have a garden!!!! And I’ll no longer have to spend $5 on 15 leaves of basil at the Hugo’s on 32nd. 

Since I’m not the one who tends to the fields, the arrival of spring for me pretty much just means that I work slightly longer hours in the kitchen since supper time is way later, and I go to the gym at night by myself. Usually by the time I get back from the gym, Eggboy’s in and it’s Westworld o’clock, even though the sun doesn’t go down until really late but maybe that’s a good thing because Westworld is creepy.

It’s usually in these warmer months when I start taking on bigger kitchen projects, like learning buttercream flowers or bagels, and I think that this is the year I’d like to finally keep a sourdough starter alive and learn to make good crusty bread.

Ok let’s talk bout this recipeep! 

A solid 70% of the time, my mom and I have the same exact brunch order: eggs benedict hold the hollandaise. Just like pork and creamed soups, hollandaise sauce was one of those things growing up that *other people ate*. Who, really, I can’t be sure, but no one in our family. And I think it was simply because hollandaise sauce is heavy and unhealthy, and, to be frank, completely unnecessary. Or, maybe it’s necessary on other things, but a well-salted and adequately Tabasco’d perfectly poached yolky egg on thick Canadian bacon (I know! Pork! Somehow bacon never counted as real pork in our house!) and a toasty English muffin is nary in need of more. Hollandaise actually kind of hardcore effs it up because it takes a relatively healthyish breakfast option to bellyache status and, honestly, I wouldn’t miss hollandaise if it ceased to exist. Oops, this got dark! But the more I think of it the more I really want to just go back in time and convince the eggs benedict inventor to stop after the egg. 

Here’s a version of eggs benedict that does have a sauce but it’s a better sauce than hollandaise, for it is feta yogurt. It’s a light flavorful deal that adds loads of brightness and I realize I just shat all over the very idea of a sauce on a benedict but in my opinion it makes more sense here. All it does is tie together the some great garlicky kale, a poached egg, and a fluffy homemade pita, almost more like a dressing than a sauce. And with this vegetarian version, the feta yogurt fills in for the ham in the protein department. This eggs benedict is salty, creamy, garlicky, and green. It’s one that doesn’t require you to order it without the sauce and a colorful main for your next brunch party. 

And you know what’s cool?? You can poach eggs in advance: Simply transfer freshly poached eggs to an ice bath and refrigerate them in a container of water for a day or two until serving time. When it’s time to serve, reheat them by submerging them in hot water until warm. (more details here!)

As for the thick pitas you see: I made one batch of dough (recipe here) into 16 pitas and rolled them out just lightly, molding them more into slightly flat bread rolls as opposed to a flatbread, so they could be thick enough to get sliced in half. 


Pita and Greens Benedict with Feta Cream

Makes 4

Ingredients

2 oz feta, crumbled

1/2 c (113g) whole milk greek yogurt

1/2 tsp aleppo pepper or paprika, plus more for sprinkling

black pepper

Olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced

6 oz kale, thinly sliced

Kosher salt 

2 tb water

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 large eggs

2 thick puffy pitas, halved

Clues

In a high speed blender, combine the feta, yogurt, aleppo or paprika, a few turns of pepper, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and blend until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (this can be made a day or two in advance). 

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the kale, a few pinches of salt, and the water, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and wilted. You may need to add the kale in batches if it’s too much to fit in all at once. Season with pepper and squeeze with lemon. Turn heat down to low just to keep this warm while you poach the eggs.

To poach the eggs, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Crack the eggs one or two at a time into a fine mesh sieve and let any loose bits of egg whites seep out (this step isn’t totally necessary but it will decrease the amount of wild rogue egg white bits) and transfer to a bowl. Carefully lower them into the boiling water. Cook until the whites are firm but the yolks are still runny, 2-3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove to a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to dry off any excess moisture. 

Toast or grill the pitas. Drizzle with a little olive oil and top with the kale and eggs. Spoon on the feta cream and sprinkle with fresh black pepper and a pinch of aleppo or paprika. Enjoy!


p.s. Enrich and Endure makes Crossback aprons now! Omg, I am obsessed. Keep an eye on Instagram, I’ll be doing a giveaway with them in the coming weeks!!

-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen