Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Gingerbread Man (Honey stout gingerbread cake, honey glaze)

As the Thanksgiving dust settles, baking cakes may be the last thing on your mind, but as winter drags on, I expect that you (like me) will come creeping back into the kitchen. Call it culinary therapy. Winter demands sturdier, more substantial, more warming foods, and this month's honey stout gingerbread cake fits the bill, perfectly.    A bundt cake, this takes advantage of the pretty, fluted mold and uses a simple glaze you can just pour over the top, rather than fussing with layers and smoothing icing. Triple-spiked with fresh, ground, and crystallized ginger, it's an easy pick-me-up with just the right amount of not-to-sweet gingery fire.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Autumnal Appetite (Winter squash hummus, Baharat)

I love slipping into autumn for a number of reasons. On the culinary side, Fall brings the warmth of richer, heartier flavors. It's a joy to roast and stew things, again, and the amount of butter and baked goods also spikes, precipitously. With the oncoming onslaught of holidays, it can at times be a bit much to each so much heavy food.  That's why it's important to find autumnal foods that are full on flavor (and fill you up) but be on the lighter side. Julia Child is absolutely right that more butter can solve almost anything, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially if one is predisposed to counting calories. As such, I present to you "winter squash hummus", which makes an appealing snack or appetizer that's pleasingly sentimental in its embrace of fall flavors while pleasantly lighter than most holiday fare.

Snack happy

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Yapple-Dapple (Apple galette, cognac caramel sauce)

We are now in undisputed apple season. In my hometown, September is always marked by the Apple Peach Festival, sadly this year just an apple festival after the late spring frost laid waste to the peach blossoms. Intending to console myself with copious amounts of apples, I had my heart set on tarte Tatin: a pastry crust baked upside-down atop a layer of deeply caramelized apples. This led to my next revelation, however: that recipe seemed somehow intimidating. I feel like "effortless elegance" is more my wheelhouse, so I split the difference: an easy apple galette, gussied up with cognac caramel sauce.

Gastronomically gussied

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Star of the Summer (Strawberry mascarpone cheesecake)

I've told you before how, in my family, cheesecake is a celebratory affair. This is even more true for Aaron's birthday, for which it is a mandatory offering. "What kind of cheesecake would you like for your birthday?" is a standard question come August. This year was especially telling, because he laid out his entire hierarchy of berries, in which strawberry is king. This is perfectly fine by me - strawberry is my favorite, too, and undoubtedly a perennial star of the summer.

Star of the summer

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

In the Limelight (Lime Delicious)

Lemon pudding cake is a recipe that has been haunting me across social media for weeks, now. Whether it's an algorithmic snafu or message from the divine, I finally surrendered and clicked through and now I have a new go-to dessert recipe. Especially using the Australian name of Lemon Delicious, it's an easy sell: soft, pillowy citrus white cake floats atop a layer of warm, semi-liquid custard. Making it in individual ramekins allows you to turn out portions onto plates for a prettier presentation and the enjoyment of drizzling the creamy sauce down over the cake. Or, you can chill them, in which case it becomes akin to a cakey rendition of lemon meringue pie. As both of the GourmetGents prefer limes to lemons, this version is for Lime Delicious, but any citrus variant is an option.

Delicious by any name

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Haute Potatoes (Herbed Potato Salad)

One of my favorite parts of summer is the cookouts and barbecues, but options to do so in Harvard Square are more limited. I can still enjoy some of my favorite cookout foods, though, like potato salad. Rather than watch that mayonnaise sit all day in the hot sun, I favor less creamy versions, made with extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and lots of green herbs. A pared-down variation of my grandmother's recipe, still featuring a hot shower in oil and vinegar, this offers something fresh and bright to cut through rich foods and is light and cool for hot summer days.

Fresh & Bright

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Not So Sweet (Raspberry rhubarb crumble)

Spring is the perfect season for rhubarb, among the first plants we can harvest, growing outdoors from April until September. Greenhouse agriculture also allows rhubarb production year-round, so one never needs to go without. As a child I was as obsessed with rhubarb pie as I was with all baked goods (an obsession that remains), and confused to learn that the sweet, ruby-red filling was born of a bitter vegetable related to celery. Now that I have a more adult palate, rhubarb proves a wonderful option for making desserts that celebrate that happy zone of satisfying one's sweet tooth without being so cloying they induce a toothache. These individual raspberry rhubarb crumbles deliver sweet and tart in just the right measure.

For the not-so-sweet-tooth