Hello there! Happy day-after-Valentine’s. I bet what you need right now is another dessert recipe. Yes? Great. We’re on the same page.
Many apologies for my disappearing over the last few months. Three months, to be exact. Three fairly queasy, fatigued, food-averse months. That’s right, I’m using the little, tiny human growing inside me as my excuse, and believe me, it’s a pretty good one. I wouldn’t wish a job working with/talking about/thinking about food upon any newly pregnant lady, not ever.
But I’m coming back to life, step by step, or at least figuring out what life looks like in these somewhat disorienting circumstances. I’m certainly not in fighting form – a few days ago (one of my first non-teaching cooking attempts in the last three months), I transferred a skillet of pan-roasted chicken thighs from the oven back to the stove and almost immediately grabbed the searing hot handle of the skillet with my bare hand. After a few less-than-ladylike words and some quality time with a running tap of cold water, I turned back to the stove – and proceeded to do the exact same thing with the other hand.
This is your brain on pregnancy. Read more
As the holidays approach, I can sense a growing anxiety in the conversations about food that I have with other people. From simple office potlucks to special holiday feasts and everything in between, this time of year can be particularly taxing for folks who start to feel overwhelmed by what needs to come out of their kitchens. There’s pressure to make something exciting and to keep up with traditions, to make things that feel special, and to get it all right, even when you’ve maybe never made the dish before. Sharing and enjoying food you’ve made can be one of life’s best moments, but it’s easy to let anxiety build and overshadow the experience. I get that; it happens to me too.
What’s my advice for overcoming it? Oh boy. It’s woven through my classes and through all the conversations I have with anxious home cooks, but it would take a bit of thinking and a fair amount of time to write it all out – and we all know this isn’t a time of year prone to excess time hanging around. So for now, I’ll just leave you with a secret weapon – a caramelized apple Dutch baby.
As if you somehow have been living under a rock and aren’t currently aware, THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING. And boy does the world want you to know it.
Should this sort of thing cause your pulse to quicken and temples to bulge, a few things to note:
- Holiday dessert, decided. See photos above and below and tell me that wouldn’t look gorgeous as part of your holiday spread. Spiced cake, creamy cream cheese frosting, and crispy, sweet-tart sugared cranberries spiked with orange zest and vanilla. Once everyone stops oohing and aahing long enough to eat a slice, you’ll quickly be crowned the king or queen of the holidays and everyone else will lay down their spatulas in submission. (A little dramatic.)
- Looking for a creative, unique holiday gift or gathering? Remember that Bowen Appétit offers private parties and gift certificates! Read more
Everyone’s getting a little excitable around here. A few days of above-freezing temperatures has turned a collective just-this-side-of-desperate sense of downtrodden winter defeat into a somewhat crazy-eyed and suspicious exuberance. Folks know full well that these conditions won’t last forever and seem to be steeling themselves for the emotional roller coaster otherwise known as spring, but it’s the first sign that things will get better, and that’s notable. I’m mentally making lists upon lists of the things I will cook when the outdoor market returns and the selection at the grocery looks a little more lively, and I’ve never felt the inspirations of seasonality as much as I do living in the Midwest in late winter.
There’s something about this poppyseed cake that makes me think of spring. Perhaps it’s that our love of this cake is deeply rooted in our love of Austria, and both times we’ve gone to Austria it’s been on that cusp of late spring/early summer, both times over our wedding anniversary, both times when we’ve desperately needed a little refreshing. It’s one of the more rustic Austrian desserts and we saw it most often on the menus of Heurigen, the wine taverns that are so central to the Austrian sense of Gemütlichkeit.Versions differ slightly from place to place – some have streusel toppings and a shortbread base (the more German-style Mohnkuchen) or some sort of glaze or frosting. But all feature a base of poppy seeds ground into a texture similar to wet soil, nearly paste-like and colored midnight blue. Where in the United States poppy seeds are generally included in a recipe for appearance or texture or a slight flavor addition, in this cake the poppy seeds are the appearance, the texture, and the flavor. The cake is intoxicatingly dark in hue and flavored intensely of poppy seeds – nutty and slightly floral. The texture is toothsome, but with only the hint of the crunch you normally get with whole poppy seeds. It’s unlike any traditional American dessert I’ve had, and has become one of our absolute favorites to make.