Strawberry and Buttermilk Cake (1 year later)

A year ago, Gourmet Magazine lit up quite a few food blogs with their Raspberry Buttermilk Cake recipe.  Munchkin and I made it and everyone loved it.  This year I found myself at a crossroads of two nice happenstances.  The first was a surplus of delicious strawberries from a farm in the Catskills.  The second was leftover buttermilk after making Alice Waters’ delectable chocolate cake (from the Art of Simple Food).

So we brushed off the recipe, and made it again — this time with strawberries.  It’s extremely easy to toss together, and a delicious summer lunch dessert. Here are the ingredients, and you can get the full recipe over at Epicurious:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh strawberries, washed and quartered

It is a shame Gourmet was shut down, especially since I vastly preferred it to Bon Appetit, but such are the woes of the publishing industry right now. Aside: this was my first time using the iPad in the kitchen to follow a recipe, and it is great for that purpose.  Epicurious’ iPad app is nicely done, and it’s a marvelous device for browsing food blogs.

Poached Pears in Red Wine

I used to make this dessert all the time and for some reason took a long hiatus.  When we had some friends over for dinner tonight, I felt the need to make dessert for a change and took a quick look across the food blogosphere for an update.  I found a nice recipe by Béatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande over on and adjusted to my own taste.  Sorry for the lack of a picture, but I was quite happy with the results so thought I’d record it here — the use of cardamom in particular was wonderful.

4 to 6 pears (I used Bosc but have been happy with other kinds in past)
1 lemon
1 bottle of medium-bodied red wine
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
2 long orange peels

Prepare a bowl of cold water and squeeze in the juice of the lemon. Peel your pears, leaving the stem at the top and cutting off the bottom so that they can stand upright. Place each pair in the lemon-water so they do not discolor. Combine the wine, sugar, cardamom, cloves, vanilla extract, cinnamon stick and orange peel in a pot big enough to hold the pears and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the pears for 35 to 40 minutes, turning them gently every few minutes (be careful — a metal spoon will cut gashes in the soft pear surface).  Remove the pears to a bowl and place in the fridge to cool.

Before serving, remove the cinnamon stick and orange peel from the wine liquid and bring to a boil. Cook down until it reaches the texture of syrup.  Be careful not to go too far because it will thicken as it cools.  Plate each pear standing upright and spoon the hot syrup on top.

Peach, Blueberry and Apricot Cake


When it comes to baking, one of my favorite test kitchens belongs to a New Jersey blog called Stacey Snacks.  I’m not a huge baker, even though I might aspire to Zoe heights, however I’ve mentioned before that baking has become a fun activity where I can involve our 4 yr old munchkin. When Lisl caught sight of a peach and blueberry pie recipe with two thumbs up on Stacey’s site, I knew we had to try it.

The recipe comes from Mango & Tomato, and I followed it pretty much exactly save for replacing one of the peaches with 3 apricots (and I skipped powdered sugar at the end).  It is very straightforward — check out her site to see the instructions.  Moist and absolutely delicious!

Ingredients (just so I have a record should other blogs disappear)
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon yogurt
zest of half a lemon
1 peach, pitted and sliced
3 apricots, pitted and sliced
1 cup blueberries


And while my savory dish of the evening didn’t quite pass the “bloggable” bar (experimental vegetarian dish), I did take this photo of spinach which I liked enough to share: