Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Apple sauce with lemon, cinnamon, and ginger

25 October 2011

Fall has come with crisp air and deepening sunshine, piles of fallen leaves to jump into and carpets of prickly chestnuts to tread onto, scarves without gloves and short skirts with leather boots, and apples, and apple sauce.

Apple sauce should be made with the newest, crispest apples of early fall as a celebratory leap away from summer; but also with the last, gnarly, bruised, and slightly soft apples of spring in patient anticipation of the summer’s first strawberries; and all winter long through grey skies and rainy days, snow storms and frigid winds.

Because making apple sauce is as easy as cutting apples into pieces and letting them cook for a little while, with a film of water at the bottom to prevent burning. But there are countless possible variations. Sugar or no sugar. Chunky or smooth. Spices? Even butter, for some. This is how I often make apple sauce, though by no means the only way.


This makes an intensely fragrant, chunky apple sauce. For a smoother texture the cooked apples can be run through a food mill. The spices and amount of sugar can also be adapted according to taste. I prefer fresh ginger and whole cinnamon because it imparts a more subtle taste, but ground spices would be fine, too.

About 10 small apples

Rind and juice of 1 lemon

1-inch (2.5 cm) piece ginger

1 thin cinnamon stick (or a half)

2 or 3 Tbsps brown sugar


Peel, core, and cut the apples into quarters and place in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Peel the rind of the lemon into a long ribbon, carefully avoiding too much pith, juice the lemon, and add both the rind and the juice to the apples.

Peel the ginger, cut it into thin slices, and add to the apples. Also add the cinnamon stick and the sugar.

Toss the apples. Pour in 2 or three tablespoons of water, just enough to coat the bottom of the pot.

Cook, covered, over medium to low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the apples have softened.


Related posts

At the market | Quinces

Oatmeal raisin walnut cookies

Banana cake


Plum jam with candied ginger

26 September 2011

I bought dodgy plums at the market on Wednesday; they looked good but were suspiciously soft to the touch. And although at Union Square market, even questionable plums are rarely at a discount, I got them anyway hoping it would force me to make jam. It protects the plums from rapacious children, and me from making tarte. It worked.

The plums sat undisturbed on the kitchen counter for a couple of days as I pondered how I might jazz up the plum jam. With a dash of alcohol perhaps, or some spice.

Then I read Oui Chef Steve’s Plum and Ginger jam and my attention wandered over to a permanent squatter of the second right hand shelf in my kitchen – candied ginger. The decision seemed to make itself.

I am told I will have to keep the jars for at least a few weeks before opening, since jam benefits from a little aging, but just from licking the spoon I think I can say – it tastes pretty great.


2 lbs (900 g) plums

2 3/4 cups (550g) sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

About 15 pieces of candied ginger


Wash plums, cut them in half and again into quarters. Take out the pits but reserve and count them, as they will be cooked with the jam then removed. (The French like to leave pits in jams and cakes as they believe it enhances the flavor – we can’t help it).

In a heavy saucepan, mix the plums as well as the pits, sugar, and lemon juice and slowly bring to a boil.

Cook over medium heat.

Add the candied ginger cut into small slices after 15 minutes.

After about 20-30 minutes, check whether the juice has “gelled.” To do this take out a small spoonful and let it cool. Once cold, the juice should have thickened in the spoon, and when you try to pour it the drip is not liquid but heavy, as though it was sticking to the spoon. Cook longer if necessary and check again.

Meanwhile, sterilize jars in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.

As soon as the jam has “gelled,” remove from the heat and scoop out the pits (if you have counted them you will know exactly how many need to be fished out). Then pour into sterilized jars and close tightly.

Resist opening the jars immediately, wait at least a few weeks.

The jam keeps well; once opened it should be stored in the refrigerator.


Related posts

Quince jelly

Plum cake


Avocado, cherry tomato, and cucumber salad with red pepper and parsley

21 September 2011

Last week, fall swept over the city with a single large gust. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) in one afternoon and everyone rushed home – or wished they had – to change into coats and boots for the evening.

But, unlike New York summers that don’t give spring a chance and usually arrive overnight, in New York fall flirts with summer for weeks before finally settling in sometime before Thanksgiving.

So, on this rather grey morning but with full confidence in many more beautiful Indian summer days, here is a great salad that’s crunchy and fresh but also lush with avocado. It takes five minutes to prepare and goes well with a quick lunch – grilled fish, seared steak – or any-way eggs for brunch.


2 small seedless cucumbers

1 red pepper

About 12 cherry tomatoes

A small handful flat-leaved parsley

1 avocado

Juice from 1/2 lemon

2 Tbsps very good olive oil

Flaky sea salt

Pinch cayenne pepper


Wash the cucumbers, cut them in half lengthways then into 1/2 inch (1 cm) slices and place in salad bowl.

Wash and cut the red pepper in half. Remove the seeds, then cut into 1 inch (2 cm) strips and again into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces and place into the salad bowl.

Wash and cut the tomatoes in half, add them to the bowl.

Wash the parsley, pick the leaves from the stems, and coarsely chop the leaves into the bowl.

Slice the avocado in half lengthwise; open it up and remove the stone. With a small sharp knife, cut the flesh of the avocado into 1/2 inch (1 cm) dice, stopping before the skin, then, with a large spoon, scoop out the flesh into the salad.

Dress the salad with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and cayenne pepper. Toss, check seasoning, adjust, and serve.


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Lentil and fennel salad with lemon and parsley

Banana cake

10 February 2011

I have had this recipe since I was 7 or 8 years old. I must have been in second or third grade; a friend in my class brought a banana cake to school to celebrate his birthday and offered photocopies of the recipe. I kept the photocopy, and it appears that I have collected recipes ever since. Not obsessively or excessively, but, every once in a while, I wrote down a recipe I liked.

Some years ago I copied these recipes into an orange, cloth-bound dummy book (a sample with blank pages) on the architect R.M. Schindler that I was editing at the time. The recipes compiled in the “Schindler book” (as I now very personally refer to it) are not anonymous, they are not newspaper clippings I fell across and found enticing – they are all linked to memories, and people.

This banana cake reminds me of my first school in France, of Jacob (my school friend) and his family with whom we have not completely lost touch; it evokes their music and a lemon tree in their San Francisco garden that I have seen only in photographs.

Also, it is a very good banana cake. I resisted tweaking the recipe except for the walnuts, as I seem unable to refrain from putting nuts in a cake.


10 Tbsps (125 g) butter

3/4 cup (150 g) brown sugar

3 eggs

3 very ripe bananas

1 lemon or orange

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups (200 g) flour (half whole wheat)

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup (100 g) shelled walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat with a wire whisk until smooth.

Mash bananas well with a fork and add to butter/egg mixture.

Grate zest and juice the lemon (or orange) and add to batter with the vanilla extract. Mix well.

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and add to batter. Stir gently, just enough to blend everything together. Gently stir in walnuts, if using.

Line baking pan with parchment paper, butter the paper, and pour in the batter.

Into the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out dry. (If, like me, you like the cake to be very moist, take it out of the oven a little sooner, when the tip of the knife is still wet.)


9 December 2010

When my grandmother sent me her Stollen recipe twelve years ago she included an old German newspaper clipping titled “On the proper way of handling Stollen.” It prescribed:

◊ According to strict Saxon rule*, Stollen should not be cut open before Christmas eve – 24 December. Modern practice is somewhat lenient, however, and it is now acceptable to start eating Stollen on the first of advent (four Sundays before Christmas).

◊ Stollen should never be eaten with a knife and fork – not even a dessert fork. It should be savored by breaking off little pieces with your fingers.

◊ The best beverage to accompany Stollen is a good cup of coffee, possibly tea, but never wine or champagne, for which Stollen would be too sweet.

◊  Stollen should be cellar-cool when eaten, presented on a simple wooden board, and cut with a sharp, unserrated knife.

Historic documents mention that “Man’s character can be determined by the way he eats Stollen.” …


Like many Christmas cakes and cookies, Stollen should be made a few weeks in advance.
Makes 2 large Stollen

8 cups (1 kg) flour

4 oz (100 g) fresh yeast

2 cups and 4 Tbsp (500 g) butter

1/2 cup (100 g) and 1 Tbsp sugar

1 cup (250 ml) milk

Zest from 1 lemon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (125 g) slivered almonds

2 cups (300 g) golden raisins

1 cup (200 g) currants (Black Corinth raisins)

3/4 cup (100 g) candied orange and lemon peel

2 Tbsp rum

1-2 drops bitter almond oil (or 1 tsp almond extract)

For the sugar crust:

(250 g)  1 cup Tbsps butter

Plenty of confectioners’ sugar


Place a large bowl with the flour in a warm spot until the flour feels warm to the touch.

Crumble the yeast with 1 Tbsp sugar; stir and watch as the mixture becomes liquid.

Melt the butter on a small flame, remove from heat, and add the cold milk.

Shape a well in the flour. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, lemon zest, salt, and vanilla extract into the well, add the milk/butter mixture and the prepared yeast. With a large wooden spoon, mix the wet ingredients into the flour using circular movements. Once the dough starts to detach itself from the sides of the bowl, beat with the wooden spoon for 10 minutes.

Chop the candied citrus peel and sprinkle with the rum and almond extract.

Knead the almonds, raisins, currants, and candied citrus into the dough. Shape into a ball, cover with a slightly damp cloth, find a warm spot in the house and let rise until the dough has approximately doubled in size, 2 to 3 hours depending on room temperature.

Divide the dough in two and roll out each half into an oval approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Fold oval in half lengthwise, place on a buttered parchment paper on a baking sheet and let rise again for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).

Bake the Stollen for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the outside begins to harden but before it starts to brown. Remove from the oven and immediately prepare the sugar crust.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. With a food brush, cover the Stollen with a layer of melted butter. Using a small sieve, sprinkle generously with confectioners’ sugar. Repeat this process 2 or 3 times to form the crust. Wrap immediately.

To store the Stollen, wrap in parchment paper then tightly seal with aluminum foil and keep in a cool dry place. Never wrap Stollen in plastic. A large tin box would be ideal.

*Stollen is originally from Central Germany and famously from Dresden, Saxony


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