Recipes for Desserts

Another Great Coffee Cake: Rhubarb Edition

May 28, 2016

IMG_8206“Want some rhubarb?”

When my friend Emily asked that question I was not expecting the massive stalks of rhubarb that showed up on my doorstep. 

I made rhubarb sauce, which I’ve been stirring into yogurt for breakfast every morning.  I made more and froze it.  Still the pile of rhubarb persisted.

So I decided to make a Rhubarb Coffee Cake.  (I used what I had on hand; you could substitute buttermilk or use all-yogurt instead of half milk, but this is what I found in my refrigerator. You could also use less rhubarb, although that would probably mean less time in the oven.)

The cake turned out to be so tender, so moist, so sweet/salty delicious that I’m about to call Emily and ask if she’s got any more rhubarb.

Rhubarb Crumb Coffee Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8 inch square baking pan.

Let a half stick of butter get soft, then stir in a cup of sugar and an egg.  Add a good splash of vanilla, and if you’re feeling so inclined, a grating of lemon rind.

Chop enough rhubarb to make 2 1/2 cups.

Mix a teaspoon of baking powder, a half teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of baking soda into 2 cups of flour.

Stir a quarter cup of milk into a quarter cup of full-fat yogurt.

Gently mix the dry ingredients and the yogurt mixture into the butter-sugar mixture, alternating, just until it is smooth. Stir in the rhubarb.  Don’t worry: the batter will be stiff but it’s supposed to be.

Make a crumb topping by melting a half stick of butter, then stirring in a half cup of sugar,  a half cup of flour and a really healthy pinch of salt.  (The salty crumb topping is part of what makes this cake so appealing.) 

Spoon the batter into the greased baking pan and top with the crumble mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack.

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Vintage Recipes: Old Chestnuts

January 19, 2016


The September 1984 issue of Gourmet is quite a surprise. In just a dozen pages, you can find recipes for the canonical Brazilian dish, moqueça, Greek moussaka, Japanese enoki mushroom salad, and German spatzel. Pretty amazing for the time. And then there’s an article on Wall Street.

There are also a few hilarious ads. Like this one: IMG_3974

But of all the cool recipes – manioc in palm oil! – at the moment I’m drawn to this seasonally appropriate souffle.





Madhur Jaffrey in 1974

November 6, 2015


It’s 1974 in Gourmetland, and the gang’s all here. In this issue, you’ll find a dispatch from Paris. Write-ups of the hottest new bistros in New York. A spooky truffle hunting tale from the forests of Lyon. Notice a theme? In the 1970s, Gourmet was very focused on France.

So when I got to Madhur Jaffrey’s piece about her childhood, An Indian Reminiscence, the words almost jumped off of the page. Jaffrey spins tales of warm pooris, cardamom-almond balls covered in thin silver leaf, and chusnis, small sucking mangoes. Here’s my favorite part:



What a wonderful recipe! More practical, maybe, are these pooris. This might be the most irresistible fried bread recipe I’ve ever seen:


These beans are also extremely enticing:IMG_4384



Leave your thoughts

Pumpkins? Already?

September 18, 2015


The apples were eclipsing the peaches and tomatoes at the farmers market this weekend, but there were still peaches – even apricots – so it was hard to be too unhappy about the changing seasons. Then I spotted the first of the pumpkins.

“Go away!” I wanted to shout at them.  I’m not ready to wake up in the dark at 6 a.m., not prepared for crisp cool evenings.  I want summer to linger a little longer.  But that crowd of plump orange pumpkins made it difficult to ignore that fall is coming.  Too soon.

Then, as if to underline reality, I opened a vintage issue of Gourmet from 1977, and the first photograph to leap out at me was this pumpkin souffle.  There is some consolation: it is, at least, cold.


Recipes may be little time machines, but it’s the ads in these old issues that prove how much our food (and wine) have changed.  I’d almost forgotten there was a time when I thought of Chianti as a thin, harsh wine that came in rustic straw-covered bottles.





And finally…. I thought home mushroom farms were a new-fangled notion.  But I was wrong.


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A Cake to Conjure With

September 12, 2015


I’m trying to think who would want to create this cake, from the January 1975 issue of Gourmet, and suffering a total failure of imagination.  The same person, I suppose, who’d want to make this Filet of Beef en Gelee.

Should you, however, be that person, here’s the recipe for the cake.  Roll up  your sleeves; it’s going to take some time.