Peach and rhubarb crumb cake


 
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I'm the first to admit it - I'm a bit of a chicken. I find meeting new people and putting myself out there a little bit scary. I'm a huge homebody, and am most comfortable tucked up at home in comfy clothes, hiding away a little bit. So you can imagine Richard's reaction when I told him I had booked tickets to go to Alabama for the weekend, to stay with someone I had never met. Trust me, I was surprised too. 

In any other situation I would have totally chickened out, but I had this underlying feeling that everything would be just fine. And of course it was. Kate has been my internet person for some time now. We met on Instagram (where I meet most of my friends these days, it's like tinder for foodies), and just clicked. We lead very different lives - Kate lives in Selma, Alabama, in a real life house with her family, which includes two kids who are quite possibly some of the cutest in the entire world, while I am in a teeny shoebox here in busy NYC, which is currently filled with kittens tearing up my apartment. 

It was one of the best weekends I have had in a very, very long time. Alabama couldn't be more different from NYC, and Kate is the sweetest, loveliest person. From the moment I got in the car it didn't feel like we were meeting for the first time. We spent the weekend baking up a storm. I got all the baby cuddles I wanted. Miss Aimee was a total heart melter (how can your heart not be melted by a teeny sassy two year old who calls you 'Miss Erin'). My theory that people wear full camo in the south was proven to be right. ;) I ate a 'rib sandwich' that was a bbq rib, surrounded by 3 pieces of white bread. Come Sunday I was really bummed to leave. But of course, there was cake. 

And not just any cake. This here is a Peach and Rhubarb crumb cake. It starts with a soft vanilla cake, slightly tangy and dense from the addition of sour cream. It is then covered with a mixture of fresh peach and rhubarb, tossed in sugar, and finished off with a brown butter streusel, which is quite possibly one of the best things I have ever tasted. The fruit cooks down and lightly soaks the top of the cake, and each bite is lifted by the addition of the crunchy brown butter streusel. We ended up testing this recipe 5 or 6 times, each tweak improving the recipe slightly, experimenting with different fruit and quantities of streusel. And I think we are onto a winner here. This is going to be my go-to this summer, topped with whatever fruit is in season. It is fuss-free, you can transport and serve it from the tin that it is cooked in, and it is amazing either fresh and warm from the oven, or at room temperature. 

You can make this with whatever fruit you have on hand! Kate has the recipe for a raspberry and rhubarb version on her blog, while I have included a peach and rhubarb variation. Either way check out her site - the food is beautiful, and I can tell you now she's amazing in real life too. 

A few wee notes:

  • This cake is extremely versatile - you can use whatever fruit you have on hand. I made it with frozen rhubarb as a test - keep the rhubarb frozen and adjust the cooking time slightly so that you don't lose the moisture it gives while the fruit defrosts.
  • If you don't have sour cream on hand you can sub greek yoghurt
  • It can be kind of tricky to tell when the cake is cooked, as the fruit and streusel tends to hide things slightly, and the fruit can coat your cake tester. If you notice cake batter on your tester, leave it in the oven for a bit longer, but make sure you are not mistaking fruit juice for uncooked batter.
  • If you are using ripe, sweet peaches, you will likely only require about 2 Tbsp brown sugar, however if they are slightly tart, adjust the sugar by adding an additional tablespoon

 

 

 

Peach and rhubarb crumb cake
- Makes one 9" cake -

Cake recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Streusel
11 tablespoons (155 gm) unsalted butter, diced
1 cup (210 gm) brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (vanilla extract can be substituted)
1-2/3 cup (200 gm) all-purpose flour

Cake
2 cups (240 gm) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup (55 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup (150 gm) sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk (any variety), at room temperature
2/3 cup (370 gm) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (vanilla extract can be substituted)
2 cups of ½” diced rhubarb (washed and trimmed of tops and ends, about 240 gm/ 8-1/2
ounces before trimming)
2 cups of ½” diced and peeled peaches (about 450 gm/1 lb of small unpeeled peaches)
2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar

- PROCESS -

STREUSEL

Add the diced butter to a small saucepan or skillet set over medium heat. Stir with a whisk or swirl the pan occasionally to ensure the butter is melting evenly. Once melted, the butter will sizzle, foam, and eventually start forming little golden bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking and stirring regularly until the butter has taken on an amber color and nutty aroma. Take care not to burn the butter. Remove the pan from heat and pour the brown butter into a medium sized mixing bowl.

To the mixing bowl, add the brown sugar, salt, and vanilla bean paste, and stir to combine. Add the flour and fold until large crumble clumps form and the flour is well incorporated. Set aside in the fridge while you prepare the cake.

CAKE

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9” square or round baking pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with a square of parchment paper for easy removal, if desired. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the egg, vanilla bean paste, and milk and beat on low until well combined. Scrape the bowl, if needed, to ensure that everything is evenly incorporated. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and beat on low speed to combine.

Add ½ of the sour cream and beat to combine. Repeat this process once more and then add the remaining dry ingredients, stirring on low to combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl and fold in any unincorporated bits. Your batter will be quite thick.

Spread the batter evenly in the bottom of your lined pan. In a separate bowl, toss the rhubarb and peaches together with the brown sugar (see notes), and spread this mixture on top of the cake batter. Gently press the fruit into the batter a bit. Crumble the brown butter streusel evenly on top of the fruit and place the pan in the preheated oven. Bake for about 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean (See notes). Allow to cool slightly before eating. Cake will keep best at room temperature, covered tightly in plastic wrap.

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Ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine


 
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine

I often find myself standing in the kitchen at dinner preparation time, totally unmotivated and underwhelmed. I make food, write about food, photograph food and eat food for a good part of the day, so by the time it gets to dinner, I often can't be bothered to make anything. It is for this reason that I like to have a solid repertoire of recipes up my sleeve that come together quickly, don't require a special trip to the supermarket, and give us a nice little variety. We often have things such as home-made pizza, slow-cooked chilli, or a quick pasta thrown together with ingredients from the fridge. I usually have a fairly diverse range of vegetables on hand, so can usually throw something together. Sometimes the end result is questionable, but we get there in the end.

Everyone seems to be clinging on to spring at the moment here in the city. The greenmarket is the most amazing place to go - I often find myself on a manhattan bound train after my spin class in the mornings, taking me to the market instead of home. The early morning is the best time to go, as you get the first pickings of the produce, get time to chat with the farmers, and it's also the time when the chefs come in to pick up produce for their restaurants. I love watching them select vegetables, and always sneakily take note of the things that they go for first. 

One of my favourite things to do is to pick up a bunch of things that are in season, come home with them, and cook dinner on the fly. During the winter it was mainly root vegetables and pumpkin, meaning that we had loads of soup, gnocchi, pizzas, and rich meat-based pasta sauces. Spring vegetables have been slowly sneaking their way into the market - ramps, asparagus, spring garlic, oyster mushrooms. These all came home with me and made their way into a pasta dish with some white wine, quality parmesan, pasta water (fave ever), and finished off with some preserved lemon to add a little brightness. This dish took me about 20 minutes from start to finish - while the water is boiling you chop everything up, and fry it all off while the pasta is cooking. The skillet is deglazed quickly with some white wine, then the pasta is added along with some pasta water and parmesan. A quick toss and season and you are good to go. Wham, bam, thank you mam. Dinner on the table. Or in our case, collapsed on the couch with a terrible TV show in front of us.

A few wee notes:

  • You can fill this pasta dish with anything you have on hand - the majority of the base ingredients here are interchangeable. Sub ramps for shallots, spring garlic for a few cloves of regular garlic, oyster mushrooms for any other variety, and preserved lemon for a finely grated lemon zest. I make this very often and just sub in whatever I have on hand.
  • Make sure that you reserve the water from the pasta - you can transfer the pasta to the skillet using tongs, as you don't have to worry too much about draining it as the water ends up in there anyway.
  • Ensure you taste along the way - if you aren't using preserved lemon you will need to up the salt content a little. Make sure that you salt in levels rather than all at once at the end, as it helps give the dish a bigger depth of flavour. I love to finish dishes with a flaky sea salt such as maldon.
  • I used wholegrain linguine, but this will work with most types of pasta. Just make sure that you give the sauce a little time to emulsify at the end and coat everything nicely.
  • Adjust the amount of pasta depending on your serving size - for two people I usually use a small handful of linguine - the circumference is about the size of the circle that is made when I touch my thumb and pointer finger together. 
 

 

Ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine
- Serves 2 -

100-150g (depending on serving size) wholegrain linguine or other pasta
3 ramps, stems and leaves, finely chopped (alternatively use 2 shallots)
2 stems of spring garlic, white and light green sections only, finely chopped
150g oyster mushrooms
250g fresh asparagus, trimmed and cleaned, chopped into 2" pieces
Rind of half a preserved lemon, finely chopped, plus a few slices to garnish
1/3 cup (80ml) white wine
1/2 cup finely grated good quality parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to season

- PROCESS -

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. While the water is coming to the boil, chop the vegetables. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the packet until al dente.

Heat a skillet or frying pan over high heat. Fry the ramps and garlic, along with a big pinch of salt, in a little olive oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms and fry for another 2 minutes, adding a little more oil if necessary. Add the preserved lemon, cook for 30 seconds or so, then add the asparagus and cook for a further 30 seconds, until the asparagus is bright green. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and cook for 1-2 minutes until the wine has begun to evaporate.

Transfer the cooked pasta to the skillet using tongs. Add the cheese and 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss well using the tongs, until the 'sauce' emulsifies and coats the pasta. Continue adding pasta water as needed to help loosen. 

Pile the pasta onto serving dishes, season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and place a few slices of the preserved lemon on top. 

The perfect spring pasta - ramp, mushroom, asparagus, and preserved lemon linguine

Gluten free chocolate chestnut waffles


 
Gluten free chocolate chestnut waffles with coconut yoghurt and maple syrup
Gluten free chocolate chestnut waffles with coconut yoghurt and maple syrup
Gluten free chocolate chestnut waffles with coconut yoghurt and maple syrup
Gluten free chocolate chestnut waffles with coconut yoghurt and maple syrup
Gluten free chocolate chestnut waffles with coconut yoghurt and maple syrup
Gluten free chocolate chestnut waffles with coconut yoghurt and maple syrup
Gluten free chocolate chestnut waffles with coconut yoghurt and maple syrup

There's something amazing about cooking with someone else in their kitchen. Working together on a recipe, swapping notes, throwing ideas around, styling, shooting, eating. It's one of my favourite things. My NYC Mum Jill and I do it fairly often, and, if I may say so myself, we often manage to come up with some pretty epic creations. Jill makes some of the best food I have ever tasted. Her home is so welcoming, her kitchen is beautiful, there's cats to snuggle and a puppy to play with, and it's just the perfect place to spend a day. We always have the best time completely destroying her kitchen.

The most recent kitchen adventure we set out to recreate an amazing chocolate chestnut waffle that we tried while we were breakfasting with some friends of ours at De Maria. The waffle was rich and chocolatey, and studded with little soft pieces of chestnut. We ordered one for the table, and when it arrived, we all abandoned our orders and totally destroyed it. We had no choice but to recreate it. 

And my goodness, did we recreate it. We adapted a fairly standard waffle mixture, subbing the flour for buckwheat flour, chestnut flour and a 1:1 gluten free baking mix to keep it gluten free. Chopped roasted chestnuts and dark chocolate were stirred in just before it went into the waffle iron. The waffle that came out somehow managed to be light but dense at the same time, fudgy from the chocolate, and earthy and nutty from the buckwheat and chestnut flours. We paired it with maple syrup and super rich coconut yoghurt. It was hands down one of the best waffles I have ever eaten, and I can't wait to recreate it again.

This would be perfect for breakfast or dessert. You can serve it with whatever you would like - it would be amazing with ice-cream and fruit, or a softly whipped cream and chocolate sauce. My favourite thing about this recipe is that it is a little play on your traditional waffle - the flavour profile is rich, and keeps you coming back for more.

A few wee notes:

  • The recipe uses both chestnut flour and roasted chestnuts. These should be available in supermarkets such as wholefoods, or you can get them on amazon.
  • The quantity that is made depends on your waffle maker - Jill has a waffle maker that makes square waffles, while mine makes slightly larger round waffles. You will need to have a play around with how much mixture you need depending on the machine that you are using and whether you would like your waffles to be uniformly shaped, or a little more rustic like ours were. We used a smaller amount of mixture so that they didn't spread right to the sides of the maker.
  • We used a 1:1 or cup for cup gluten free flour to keep these gluten free, but if that isn't important to you, all-purpose flour will work perfectly.
  • To make your own buttermilk, add 1 tsp acid (apple cider vinegar, white vinegar or lemon juice) per cup of whole milk.
 

 

Gluten free chocolate chestnut waffles
- Makes approx 8-10 waffles, depending on the size of your waffle maker -

1/2 cup (50g) chestnut flour
1/2 cup (60g) buckwheat flour
1 cup (120g) 1:1 gluten free flour
1/2 cup (60g) dutch cocoa powder
1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar or coconut sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups (480ml) buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) melted butter
1 cup roasted chestnuts, chopped
200g (7oz) high quality dark chocolate, chopped finely
Coconut yoghurt and maple syrup to serve (optional)

- PROCESS -

Preheat your waffle maker. 

In a large bowl, sift together the chestnut flour, buckwheat flour, gluten free flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir together, and create a well in the middle. 

Whisk the egg yolks and vanilla into the buttermilk. Add to the dry ingredients, along with the melted butter. Stir until just combined. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped egg whites into the waffle mixture until just combined. Carefully stir through the chopped chocolate and chestnuts.

Spray waffle maker lightly with cooking spray or brush with oil. Cook the mixture in the waffle maker until cooked through - cooking time varies depending on your machine.

Serve with coconut yoghurt and maple syrup.

Gluten free chocolate chestnut waffles with coconut yoghurt and maple syrup