Cornmeal Cake with Blackberry Glaze


I saw Nigella, kitchen goddess, make this elegant and unfussy polenta cake on her show. The blackberry glaze idea came from the photo of these donuts – gorgeous!

Note: although purple and lovely, my cake was a little dry since my blackberry glaze just sits on top, so next time I will try half her lemon glaze and let that seep into the cake, then top with the blackberry glaze.

Cornmeal Cake with Blackberry Glaze

Variation on Nigella’s Lemon Polenta Cake

  • 200 grams ground almonds
  • 100 grams cornmeal
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 200 grams sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • blackberries and powdered sugar for glazing

Heat oven to 350° F and grease a 9 inch spring form pan.

Whisk together almonds, cornmeal and baking powder. Cream together butter and sugar, then add eggs one by one and combine. Stir wet and dry ingredients together until just combined, then spread into springform pan. Bake for 40 minutes.

Glaze with a mixture of mashed and strained blackberries and powdered sugar (start with just a few tbsps of juice, add more if needed). Garnish with blackberries.

#weekendEgg: Pumpkin and Sage Scrambled Egg with Warm Kale Salad


Is it nerdy to put a hashtag in the title? It’s functional anyway, it’s what I’m using to tweet out my crazy eggs…which is just the one so far, heh.

This egg combo from last weekend was amazing! Seriously, I was shocked how good it was. Something about the pumpkin and egg together did that magical kitchen alchemy thing where the product is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The chipotle and sour cream egg with picked onions was the best of 2011; it’s early but I declare this the best of 2012.

Pumpkin and Sage Scrambled Egg with Warm Kale Salad

For kale salad
olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
handful of kale, torn off stems and roughly chopped
salt & pepper
walnut oil
fresh lemon juice

Heat just a teensy bit of olive oil, and saute garlic, stirring so that it doesn’t burn. After a minute, add kale, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until just wilted. Remove to a plate and drizzle with walnut oil and spritz with lemon juice.

For egg
olive oil
one egg
1/3 cup mashed pumpkin
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp paprika
salt & pepper

Heat a little bit olive oil. Combine the rest of the ingredients and cook, stirring, until egg is cooked. Place on top of greens.

Sprinkle the whole thing with toasted pumpkin seeds or walnuts (I used pumpkin seeds).

Disclaimer: the measurements I bothered to put are a guess, do you think I’m using measuring spoons on a Saturday morning? No!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cardamom Apple Compote


What is essentially Pumpkinfest 2011 continues with a Sunday morning brunch treat I whipped up for my daughter, mom and sisters. I wanted pumpkin pancakes and wasn’t feeling brave enough to tweak my regular pancake recipe, so I Googled one.

The first recipe that popped up was Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes from Pinch My Salt . They were delightful, lightly sweet and warmly spiced. The only changes I made were using demerara sugar mixed with a little molasses for the brown sugar, and I used coconut oil instead of the “oil” which I think meant vegetable oil.

Perfect with a simple creamy cardamom apple compote to go on top, very autumny.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes with
Cardamom Apple Compote

For the pancakes
Yummy recipe on Pinch My Salt.

For the apples
3 apples (I used gala)
3 cardamom pods, cracked
pinch of salt
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp sour cream
1 1/2 tsp honey

Peel and chop apples into 1/2 inch cubes. Heat butter on medium high, adding cardamom. Add apples and just a pinch of salt and saute for a couple of minutes, then add a cup of water. Bring to a simmer and cook apples until water evaporates. Repeat until apples are soft but still retain their shape. Remove from heat.

Mix sour cream and honey and stir into warm apples.

Drizzle pancakes with a little maple syrup, spoon apples on top and serve.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Quiche


One of my favorite snacks, or even part of a light, snacky dinner when I’m alone, are crackers spread with cream cheese with bits of smoked salmon perched on top. That inspired this quiche, which turned out creamy and velvety with a salty, lemony bite. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Quiche

1 pie crust, homemade or store-bought

I made the press crust from The Joy of Cooking. The texture will be crumbly vs. flaky, but it is so, so easy to make. Quick instructions: in food processor, combine 1 1/2 c flour, 1 stick unsalted butter, pinch of salt and 2-3 tbsp milk. Press into a pie plate, crimp the edges if you can be bothered (I prefer mine rustic!) and bake for 18-22 minutes at 400. Brush with an egg yolk and return to oven for 2 min.

4 oz cream cheese, softened
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 milk
6 eggs
4 oz smoked salmon, cut into slivers
small handful chives, chopped (dill would also be nice)
1 tbsp capers

Blend the cream cheese, lemon zest and milk with a hand mixer, until creamy and smooth. Add eggs and blend until combined. Fold in salmon, chives, and capers. Pour into pie crust, stir so that the salmon is evenly distributed, and bake for 25-30 min at 400, until golden brown and set. If, like I was, you are worried about your crust getting too brown, cover with foil.

Pumpkin Muffins on the Patio

Pumpkins (or as little Z says, “punkins,”) represent all my favorite things – fall, Halloween, and Zoeya who is my little pumpkin head. We’ve even been working on Daddy to let us get a little orange kitty named Pumpkin. As soon as October hit I brought home my first sugar pumpkin and I was happy to try these pumpkin muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance. They really are “The Best Pumpkin Muffins.” I baked one batch last week, and we gobbled them up. I made another batch this beautiful, sunny morning and Zoeya and I enjoyed ours out on the patio.

The Best Pumpkin Muffins

These are delicious, with lots of spices and molasses. Since this recipe is not mine, I will link to the recipe here where it was reprinted with the author’s permission. :)

If you’ve not cooked with fresh pumpkin before, let me tell you that if you do it the right way it could not be easier. Years ago when I did it the first time (baking pumpkin pies with Gloria!) we cut the pumpkins up into pieces and boiled them. This is a huge pain, they are difficult to cut and you have to use two or three big pots of water. I have found that it’s much, much easier to roast the pumpkin. This time I was super lazy and didn’t even bother to gut it like a jack-o-lantern. I just wrapped the whole thing in aluminum foil and baked it at 350° for a couple of hours until it was soft. After it cooled it was nice and easy to slice. I spooned off the seeds and stringy part (you can dry the seeds, toss them with oil and salt, and roast) then scooped out the flesh. You’ll get 3 cups or so, so you can do a few things with one pumpkin.

Brunch Menu: Spicy Baked Eggs, Almond Cake, Rose and Mint Scented Fruit

I love brunch. Love it. Here are a couple guidelines to brunch by: for a little of everything, in general I make 1. an egg dish (for what is a brunch without eggs? Unless it’s a vegan brunch…) 2. something baked (muffins, coffee cake) and 3. something fresh and fruity. The other guideline is that dishes should be either easy or make-ahead, because you want to be relaxed, not running around at the last minute. And who knows when someone is going to give themselves a hummus facial and bodywrap right before people get there. (See imp on right).

So here’s what I did for Zoeya’s play group (which turned out to be small, so it lived again the next morning for brunch with a girlfriend):

1. Egg Dish

I am still on a major Pakistani food kick, so I made these spicy baked eggs that I saw on a blog I like, The Spice Spoon which features Pakistani and Afghan recipes. This isn’t make-ahead, but it’s quick assembly to cook the onions/tomatoes, crack the eggs, and pop it in the oven. Just make sure to check on your 2-year-old while you’re doing this to make sure she’s not up to no good. I over-baked them on purpose (I was thinking the kids would not like the runny yokes) but that turned out to be a mistake as they were a little rubbery. They still looked beautiful and the tomato mixture was really tasty. I will definitely make this again, just shortening the oven-time. Eat with warm naan.

Baked Eggs

2. Baked Goodie

So instead of doing coffee cake or muffins, I just went for all-out cake. I do not mind eating cake for breakfast one bit, it goes great with coffee so what’s the problem? This is the almond cake from Amanda Hesser’s Cooking for Mr. Latte, and it has became one of my standby’s. It’s always delicious and it makes a lovely dessert for all kinds of food. You can find the recipe for this awesome almond cake here. (Note: I used a 9″ spring form pan, and baked it at 350° for a total of 55 minutes – at around 45 min I covered it with foil to keep it from browning too quickly). As you can see, my husband could not wait to sneak a piece:

Almond Cake

3. Fresh and Fruity

Though it’s hard to beat simple, fresh fruit, I love to dress up a fruit salad with a little something unexpected. For this, I just tossed 4 chopped white nectarines with a pint of blueberries and some chopped mint leaves. I made a light simple syrup from 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp water boiled with a few mint leaves. I strained the mint , added a splash of rose water (I love this delicate, floral touch), and poured it over the fruit.

Fruit Salad

With coffee and orange juice, this was an easy, tasty brunch!