pistachio and olive oil basbousa

We are down to the last week and a half of filming season 2 and I miss it already! I love this crew so much. Right now they’re in my kitchen filming a conga line gif of sprinkly rice krispies treats and it is the silliest. The past few days have been warm enough for us to sit outside and eat lunch together (with Sven and Ole, who also are going to miss the crew dearly when we wrap). And over the weekend we went out and ordered all of the pizza at the best dive bar in town, Judy’s, but because they only have one pizza oven it came coursed out like a fancy tasting menu, which was a great new way to eat pizza. While we ate we sat anxiously waiting for the lottery numbers to be announced because we all went in on tickets together… we didn’t win. Or maybe we did and I just can’t tell you because we all made a pact not to tell anyone if we won. (I guess you’ll know I won if I start using whole vanilla beans and manuka honey in everything.)


In Eggboy news, sugar beet harvest is chugging along! The weather is so conventionally beautiful that at this rate all of the beets will be out of the ground by the end of the week. Then we party!!! Then Eggboy catches up on sleep. Then it’s Thanksgiving, then it’s Chrismukkah, then it’s 2019. It’s all smooth sailing from here! 

So, like, let’s eat cake about it??

This is my new favorite cake, Basbousa! Basbousa is a Middle Eastern semolina cake that has a coarse texture, not unlike that of cornbread. When it comes out of the oven it gets covered in a sugary syrup, so even though it’s crumbly, it’s very moist. I first met basbousa at Zahav last year, when I tried their carrot hazelnut version. It was nutty and almost pudding-y, and I immediately fell in love with its ability to be rustic in texture and sharp angled all at the same time. Like a structured tweed blazer, for lack of a more relevant comparison. 

This version is based on Janna Gur’s recipe from Jewish Soul Food and combines roasted pistachios with coconut and olive oil for a toasty, tender, and comforting snack cake. Its flavor is so complex that “frosting” isn’t even in its vocabulary, and because of the syrup, it will stay fresh for a good few days. If it lasts that long. 


pistachio and olive oil babousa

makes one 8” square cake

ingredients

1/2 c (50g) shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut

1/2 c + 1 tb (80g) all-purpose flour

1/2 c + 2 tb (125g) semolina flour

1/4 c (28g) ground roasted unsalted pistachios, plus more for decorating

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp baking powder

6 tb (75g) olive oil

1/4 c (60ml) heavy cream

1/2 c (120ml) whole milk

3 large eggs

3/4 c (150g) sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract


Syrup

3/4 c (178ml) water

3/4 c (150g) sugar

1 tsp rosewater, optional

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line an 8x8” pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine coconut, flour, semolina, pistachios, salt, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, cream, and milk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and almond extract on high for 5 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Fold the egg mixture into the semolina mixture and pour into the prepared pan.

Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

While the cake bakes, make the syrup: combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in rosewater, if using. 

When the cake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all over it and let the cake cool completely in the pan. Sprinkle with additional pistachios, cut into squares, and enjoy.


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!

fresh mint olive oil cake with labneh and honey

This color is real!!! And, no, Kermit was not harmed in the making of this. This is really just a basic olive oil cake that simply has a bunch of fresh mint purée mixed in to give it the most delightfully fresh herbal flavor and of course this bright natural color. It’s inspired by a dessert that Lily, Alana, and I had at The Exchange Restaurant last month that was basically a bowl of crumbled bright green cake topped with yogurt sorbet, a lemony drizzle, and baklava crumble. We ordered it expecting a regular yellow olive oil cake but when it arrived and we saw the color we were like omgomgomg and immediately did that thing where all three of us suddenly block out everything that’s going on around us in order to decipher what’s happening in our mouths and in front of our eyes. We poked at it, snooped around its every nook and cranny, and took very deliberate tastes in order to figure it all out. It’s so good eating with them. The only thing that could have improved such a moment is if one of us had raised up a monocle or magnifying glass. We figured it must have been a few different herbs in there, basil maybe, or parsley even, and then we got on the subject of spinach cupcakes (ew?), and finally had a chat with the server about what all was happening. And it turned out that it was just mint! Which is wild because it didn’t taste specifically minty, the most minty thing about it was that it had a faint version of that fresh feeling you have after brushing your teeth. Past that it was sort of generically herbal, which was cool because it allowed the yogurt sorbet and pistachio baklava crumble to shine through. And above all it was delicious. One of the best most inspiring desserts I’ve ever had. I turned around faster than I’ve ever turned around in my life and flew home and started experimenting with olive oil mint cakes. 

And I came up with this one! It’s a riff on the grapefruit olive oil cake from Yogurt book and it is really fun to make. You might think that the mint purée color would fade in the oven but it stays so bright. Sorry I am like one month late for St. Patrick’s Day, but actually I’m just 11 months early. 

I originally intended to slather this in a classic sweet cream cheese frosting but at the last minute before bringing it to Mackenzie’s birthday party I decided to go deeper into my nod to The Exchange dessert and just use labneh with a honey drizzle and pistachios. I loved it because it was so aggressively not sweet. It was definitely not your typical happy birthday sugary cake though so because of this I was trying really hard to figure out what all of my friends thought of it. The thing about being surrounded by so many nice Midwest people however is that they will not tell you if your cake is bad!! Emily said it tasted *fancy* so there is that?? I’ll leave you with this: when it comes to assembling this cake, choose your own adventure. If you’re hankering for a classic sweet frosting use a standard cream cheese frosting. But if you’re celebrating a sophisticated 30-year-old birthday party then try out the labneh option (as written below)! You can always add more honey drizzles. If you can’t decide, use some of the cake scraps as test bites and concoct your frosting accordingly.  


Fresh Mint Olive Oil Cake with Labneh and Honey

Makes one 2-layer 6” cake

Ingredients

Cake:

1 c (50g) firmly packed fresh mint leaves

1/2 c (118g) whole milk or unsweetened almond milk

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

Zest of 1 lemon

3/4 c (150g) extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 c (250g) sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

 

Assembly:

About 1 1/2 c (338g) labneh

crushed pistachios

honey and/or turbinado sugar

lemon zest

sliced kumquats, optional

Clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line the bottoms of two 6” pans with parchment and set aside.

Rinse the mint leaves and then ring them out very well. In a high powered blender like a vitamix, blend the mint and milk together until very smooth. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and lemon zest. 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, and then add the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mint mixture in three alternating additions, whisking after each until just combined. Pour into the pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely. Level off the tops.

Spread half of the labneh on one of the layers and top with pistachios, honey or turbinado, and a little bit of lemon zest, and then place the other cake layer on top and spread on remaining labneh. Decorate as desired with pistachios, honey or turbinado, lemon zest, and sliced kumquats, if using. Enjoy! 


-yeh!

fried bagel fattoush

It’s been a very bagel-y few weeks! Which I’m extremely proud of, given the distance between the place where I sleep and the closest true bagel. On Super Bowl Sunday, I journeyed home from Montreal with enough wherewithal after a late night of poutine-ing and discoing to carry back half a dozen St. Viateur bagels and arrive just in time for our party; just this Wednesday, I flew from New York to Sarasota with a Sven-cat-sized pile of hot Ess-A-Bagels that almost got swiped by the man sitting behind me who kept eyeing them; and I’ve officially lined up my local bagel making teacher for this summer after I go on a salmon fishing trip to Alaska where I’ll be collecting the ingredients to make lox. (Hi, Dave!)

Living in a bagel-less world is hard, but it makes me appreciate good bagels even more. And since I so rarely get the chance to eat a good bagel, I never ever feel guilty when the regular bagel eater next to me orders it *scooped out*. #ohmyg. 

But so we got a bagel place in Fargo! Have I told you that? Bernbaum’sIt’s been open for a year or so already, it’s in a midcentury modern furniture store, it’s so great, they have labneh (!), and last week for Valentine’s day when Eggboy and I drove the Eggparents to Fargo for a flight, we stopped for romantic bagels. Which are the same as regular bagels but you eat them on Valentine’s day. And they were so good and chewy that we couldn't not get half a dozen for later.

They brought so much bagel-y joy into our house and later that week I figured, well, I’ve actually been doing pretty well with my New Year’s Resolution of no fried foods during the week, so I gave myself a break and fried them. And I fried them in olive oil so that I could still be kinda healthy (did you know that you can fry in olive oil?), I also put them on a bed of yogurt and vegetables so that I could up the healthy ante, and came up with this salad that I now make almost every day, it’s a fattoush-type thing.

A fattoush is like a middle eastern panzanella, or a salad that you make with stale pita that’s been brought back to life by frying or toasting it. It typically includes cucumbers, greens, and herbs, and is heavy on the sumac. I love sumac, it’s so lemony, I put it on everything. This version with the bagels is cool because the torn pieces end up being plumper and not flat like pita, so the outsides get crunchy and fried and the insides are still chewy and soft. The produce here is all stuff I can get pretty reliably in the dead of winter in the upper Midwest: english cucumbers, fresh herbs, purple onions, and Kristin always brings me preserved lemons when she visits so I have a steady supply of those on hand. Speaking of Kristin, everybody congratulate her on her engagement!!!!!!

Of course, if you have other vegetables that you desperately want to add, do it. Radishes and micro greens would be great, tomatoes would be greater, and add allllll of the fresh herbs that you can get your hands on. Mint was made 4 this salad. 

Lastly, use good olive oil that you can fry with because you don’t want to fill your house with smoke and you also want it to taste good since one layer of this salad is a good drizzle of olive oil. I’m using California Ranch’s Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but really any of their olive oils will work, since they all taste great and have a sky high smoke point.


fried bagel fattoush

makes 2 servings

ingredients

california olive ranch olive oil

1 everything bagel, torn up (it can be day-old)

1 English cucumber, seeded and chopped

1/2 small purple onion, chopped

4 slices preserved lemon (you can also just squeeze a heavy hand of lemon juice and add some zest)

heaping 1/2 c Yogurt

2 small handfuls of greens

Kosher salt and pepper

2 good pinches of sumac

Tahini sauce (below)

And for added protein, throw in some crispy chickpeas or a fried egg

A handful of cilantro

A handful of mint

clues

Heat a nice healthy layer of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. when the oil is shimmering, add the torn bagel pieces to the skillet and heat, stirring occasionally, until they're hot and crispy and golden brown on the outside.

in a medium bowl, toss together the cucumber, onion, and lemon.

spread the yogurt between two shallow bowls. top each with a handful of greens, half of the cucumber mixture, a drizzle of olive oil, a good pinch of salt, a few turns of pepper pepper, a dusting of sumac, half of the fried bagel, and a good drizzle of tahini sauce. top it with chickpeas or an egg, if using, and then finish it off with the fresh herbs. 

Enjoy! 


tahini sauce

ingredients

1/4 c tahini

3 tb water

1 tb lemon juice

Kosher salt and pepper

ingredients

combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. mix until thickened.


-yeh!

thank you, california olive ranch, for sponsoring this post!