Cooking -successes and fails- and the Nut; misc

Things I've been cooking and eating

Before I left last Thursday, I attempted to recreate that outstanding grilled peach and burrata crostini M and I had at Acqua al 2. T was late getting home, I was completely gaga and still hadn't finished packing, so my efforts were hurried but successful. I cannot wait to try this again as a non-dervish; soon!

Grilled Italian-style bread and peaches, freshly torn burrata ("torn" is a romantic way to say that I quickly transferred the burrata to the bread before it could rip and drip all over my counter), honey, Maldon salt, olive oil, freshly ground pepper and some shredded mint (my addition). So incredibly lovely and lush.

You definitely want to eat that, don't you!?!

Then I left, and then I returned, and during the twelve hours it took me to get back, I bought and read the entirety of the current issue of Food & Wine, flagging recipes along the way. Last night, for Meatless Monday, I made this lemony kale pesto salad, subbing farro for the called-for bulgur because I looovvve farro. The result was neither lemony nor exciting, so I added more lemon, lots of salt and pepper and some feta to gussy things up. Better. Not bad at all.

Never, ever be afraid to tweak recipes to your taste. It's rarer than not, I dare say, for a recipe to have real universality. Those are magic, the ones that you make so often you no longer need written instructions, the ones your family request and that become part of your traditions. Long story, short, this kale pesto salad was not that, but it did ultimately please my tired palate and I got healthy doses of both grain and leafy green.

I also prepared some fava beans -here, in mid-peel- and readied a grocery list for another F&W recipe, a gorgeous buttermilk bundt cake, which I planned to make today. I did make it today, and it is at this point in the tale that I'd like to pause and give you another bit of kitchen advice: Don't fret if you make a recipe and it DOES NOT LOOK LIKE the advertised photo or if you bumble the whole thing a little or even quite a bit. You are not a professional test kitchen; neither am I. And while I'm a very skilled cook, I fumble and err with the best of them.

The Many Ways in Which I Fumbled and Erred While Making This Cake

Doesn't that all look positively 1950s-smashing? I know, it does! I was jazzed out of my mind. I mean, for christ's sakes! A BUNDT cake.

Happy and with ample time to get this puppy done, I creamed butter and shortening (what an unholy combo), added a very large amount of sugar to those, then all those eggs, lots of flour, buttermilk, vanilla ... My oven was preheated, the batter tasted fluffy and divine.

Now, I do loathe buttering-and-flouring crevassy pans. It's a pan in the arse, so I briefly considered spraying the whole thing generously with that weird flour-infused baker's spray.

"No, no, Em-i-lis! You have time! You feel zen! Butter that fool and get on with it."

I listened earnestly to this message and commenced buttering. I became irritated partway through, melted the rest of the butter, sloshed it all over the pan's interior, threw some flour in impatiently and called it a day. I swear to you that it looked adequately readied, but I didn't make super-sure. Also, there was a frickload of batter and I lied to myself and said that a 10-cup bundt pan was obviously the same as a 10-inch one.

It's not.

So the damn pan was nearly overflowing, and at this point, I'm very impatient and uninterested in dirtying more dishes so I lied to myself again and said, "Hey, it'll never overflow." and slid it lovingly into the oven. Naturally, a burning smell found my nose about a half-hour later. Elbow-length oven mitt on, I used a ludicrously large olive wood spatula to scrape the singed crud from the bottom of the oven and put a cookie sheet underneath the bundt to catch any additional spillage.

The buzzer sounded! So, OK, it was a very tall bundt but it was golden and lovely, and I had high hopes. Then I inverted it. Then I started cursing.

But the smell. Ooh, it was so nice. So I reframed and decided, "Who really cares? This is just for my fam. I'll cover it with lemony glaze." Cool as a flipping cucumber. While the cake finished cooling, I went to pick up the boys. They had a fabulous day at camp and were dirty as ever. We got home and unpacked, and per the usual, I snuck Oliver's, aka Hoarder Child, bag outside to dump his newest treasures. People, this is his two-day tally. What is that child doing in the forest and on the farm? I will say that we now have enough kindling for at least three fires this winter.

Back to the cake. Jack asked why I made it, and I replied, "Just because I wanted to." He laughed hysterically. I'm not sure why. He's adorable. Anyway, I whisked up the lemon juice and zest, powdered sugar and a tablespoon of melted butter about which I felt very skeptical. Then I frosted the cake, hoping the glaze would cover the sides I attempted to reattach.

Does that not look as if someone vomited on the cake?!! Truly, this is the ugliest mother effing cake I have EVER seen. Why is that "glaze" all curdly? Disgusting, but good. Oliver said he didn't like it as much as my lemon cake which made my day because he is pretty discerning. It probably goes without saying that this cake does not look like Food & Wine's photograph. No worries.

Nature and The Nut

I am extremely happy to be back home with Nutmeg. He is the cat of all cats, the cat's meow if you will. Today I went bold and spent ten minutes in the backyard with Nutmeg off-leash. I could see his pride in being a real cat rather than a sad, restrained, leashed one. When I brought him back inside, he attacked Percy. The natural order of things and all.

Also, all these sights were cool! The spider almost nails the bulls-eye.