minty fudge popsicles

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These were so good that I came home from a long day of work and ate two.  I really think I want to infuse everything with mint right now, especially everything with chocolate.  I had big plans to buy a big mint plant at the market today, but I had too much stuff already so Wednesday it is.  Our basil, thyme, rosemary and lemon balm are growing nicely on the fire escape, so I think the family is ready to grow.

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This summer I don’t have big plans to travel so I am trying to use my free time wisely.  I have been trying to walk around the city pretending I am a tourist.  Chill, no rush, looking around at things.  It has been a bit quieter in the city now that school is over and sometimes when I am really good at it I feel like I am somewhere else.  That is the nice thing about New York, its old and big and there are parts I’ve never seen and parts that look like Europe so sometimes it feels different.  I’m suppressing my urge to buy a cheap plane ticket outta here though.

I am going to make some German cake now with sour cherries and blueberries, you know for the Forth of July.  Did you know that around 17% of Americans identify themselves as German?

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Minty Fudge Popsicles

2 cups milk

1/2 cup cream

1 cup chopped mint

6 oz. dark chocolate  (like 70%), chopped into small pieces

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 cup honey

sprinkle of salt

– heat the milk and cream until almost boiling in a small pot.  add the mint and turn off the heat.  let that sit for half an hour, stirring occasionally so the milk does not dry out on top.

– strain the milk into a bowl and press on the mint so all the milk comes out.  pour the milk back into the small pot on medium until warm again.  add the cocoa powder and honey, mixing until incorporated.  add the chocolate pieces a little at a time stirring the whole time until everything is smooth.  sprinkle a bit of salt.  pour the chocolate into your popsicle molds and freeze 24 hours or longer before eating. run the molds over warm water so they slip out easier.

enjoy!

rhubarb tarragon spelt scones

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I am on the tail end of my moment with scones and just starting my next phase of tarragon.  So this is perfect, also because rhubarb – I love you.  Right before spring started we finally watched Sherlock and then I finally watched The Great British Baking Show, so you could say I have British treats on my mind.  There were a couple of weeks where I was making scones on Sunday and then putting them in the freezer so that Monday morning I would just turn the oven on and pop in a scones or two and wait.  It was a great way to start the week.  It is starting to get hot, air conditioners have been put in the windows, so this might be my last scone Monday.  Sometimes I get the urge to not turn the oven all summer, but maybe we will get some cooler rainy days too because I don’t think I can last without an oven.

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So scones.  And now tarragon.  I saw a recipe for rhubarb tarragon sangria that I was intrigued by in The New Midwestern Table.  And then I saw this.  And was telling Gevork about it, who said he grew up drinking this in the Soviet Union.  So I spent Saturday night doing laundry and running errands and thinking about how I really wanted to make tarragon soda.  However, I was encouraged to try the real deal first, so who wants to go to Brighton Beach?  The tarragon was instead used to make these scones and I am very happy about it!

Tarragon has a licorice flavor by the way.  I think it tastes really nice with the tanginess of the rhubarb and the nuttiness of the spelt.

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Rhubarb Tarragon Spelt Scones

3 stalks of rhubarb, cut into 1 inch chunks

1/4 cup + 3 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup spelt flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

8 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

2 tbsp chopped tarragon

2/3 – 3/4 cup heavy cream

-toss the rhubarb in the 3 tbsp sugar.

-mix the flours with salt and baking powder.  mix the butter into the flour mixture and using a pastry cutter cut the butter until little pea size pieces form.  mix in 1/4 cup sugar and then the rhubarb and tarragon.  slowly add the cream, do 2/3 and add more as needed until you have a dough.  use your hands to combine but don’t knead too much, just until formed together.

-preheat your oven to 425 degrees F if making now, or freeze and make later.

-divide the dough into two pieces and make a disc.  cut each disc into 4-6 triangles.  arrange the pieces on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  if not frozen already freeze them for 10 minutes on the tray. bake about 20 minutes until starting to brown a bit.  you can freeze them for a week or two, wrap them tight and then bake them frozen and watch the baking time.

-jrad

strawberry pierogi

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Hey!  Strawberries are in season, yes they are!  Did you know that you can make strawberry pierogi?  And you eat them with sweet sour cream and dream about the Eastern European countryside.

I can’t believe it’s June already.  I am trying to enjoy the loveliness of spring as long as I can, but right now that consists of sitting outside when I have a break, watching the clouds and sometimes I even walk with a spring in my step when I wake up to the sunshine and go home with sunshine (sometimes even at 8pm!).  I joined a community garden nearby but have not visited it enough and missed two work days.  I really want to up my gardening skills but honestly I think having your own garden must be better.

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I think rolling and kneading pierogi dough might be may favorite thing ever.  It has a great texture.  It’s really soft and supple and quite elastic.  There a couple ways to fill pierogi with strawberries, but I think this is the best one.  A whole little strawberry tucked inside the lovely supple dough.  The other way would be to cut the strawberries into little pieces and shape them differently, more like a half moon.  But these are cuter, right!?

So here you go, try and and love them.

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Strawberry Pierogi

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 large egg

2 tbsp neutral oil (like sunflower or grape seed)

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup – 3/4 cup warm water

1 pound small strawberries, hulled and cut in half if not small

1 tbsp powdered sugar

sour cream and sugar for serving

-to make the dough pour the flour into a large bowl.  make a well in the center of the flour and crack the egg, pour the oil and sprinkle the salt.  mix a little with a fork and then slowly add the water, just 1/2 cup at first.  start to mix with your hands forming a dough.  add more water if too dry and flour if too wet.  flour your kneading surface well and knead the dough for 6-8 minutes until well incorporated and it looks like gluten has formed well.  keep adding flour as needed.  place the dough ball on a well floured surface and cover with the mixing bowl you used before, let rest for about an hour. it will be okay if it doesn’t rest that long.

-meanwhile prepare your strawberries.  and set a big pot of salted water to boil.  prepare a cutting board with flour.

-once the dough has rested take half of it and roll it out on a well floured surface until just the right thickness, not too thick and not too thin, you’ll know when you start working.  use a wide thin cup to make circles, as close together as you can.  take out a circle and use the stickier side to fill.  place a strawberry, or half in the center.  using all fingers, pinch the circle around to cover the berry in a little cross and pinch tightly around all the openings.  they will look like cute little packages.  place on the floured cutting board, making sure they don’t touch each other.  you will put them in the freezer after doing a couple and keep adding.  they cook nicely if a little bit frozen.  repeat with the rest of the dough.

-they will cook fast, so use your time how you need depending on what space you have.  once they are ready plop them in the water, not more than 10 at a time.  stir them a bit to make sure they don’t stick.  when they float to the top they are ready, sometimes i let them sit at the top a bit longer to get a bit softer.

-they taste the best served right away.  mix some sour cream with sugar and enjoy!

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-julia rad

lemon lavender farmer’s cheese pie

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I am a pie person.  I would make pies all day over cake hands down.  Cakes are pretty and delicate, like your friend who doesn’t leave the house without blow drying their hair and always has their nails painted.  Pies are like your friend who wears pony tails and whenever they paint their nails they chip in two seconds anyway so they gave up doing that (me).

Last summer, and probably the summer before, I was making lots of pies and one time I got a really bad burn that gave me a good scare.  I didn’t have pie weights or dried beans and instead thought I would just put a small pot on top of the crust. All good but when it was time to take the pie out I totally forgot that the pot had been in the oven and I just picked it up, and obviously dropped it right away, and then I freaked out for about an hour.  I was home alone but my neighbor who happened to be in nursing school came up and basically told me I was okay I just had a bad burn, it felt a lot worse, and I did all that he said.  And then I still took my pie and went to my party and just had a couple drinks to numb the pain.  A couple months later my friend who I saw that same night gave me pie weights and a pie case for my birthday!  You live and learn and now I have an awesome pie case that everyone loves.

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I am still indulging in the fact that spring smells so good that I just want to eat flowers so I’ve infused this with lavender.  As for the cheese, it doesn’t really taste like cheese.  Farmer’s cheese is a pretty mild cheese so you can flavor it really nicely and it tastes great with honey.  If you can’t find it you can make it, I will make it again when I find raw milk, which you can’t get in New York.

Or use ricotta.

I have also really been liking putting rye flour in my pie dough, and I think it’s a good choice here.  It is a little tougher to work with, so know it isn’t as smooth and elastic.

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Lemon Lavender Farmer’s Cheese Pie

dough:

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

3/4 cup rye flour

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

8 tbsp (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces – plus more for pie pan

3 tbsp ice water (plus extra in case you need more)

splash of apple cider vinegar

pie:

2 cups farmers cheese (or ricotta)

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup honey

3 eggs

1 tbsp edible lavender flower buds

juice and zest of half a lemon

-first infuse the milk with the lavender.  pour the milk into a small saucepan and add the lavender.  bring to almost a boil and then turn off the heat and let it sit until you need to use it.  make sure to stir it a bit too, the milk can get a layer of film if you don’t.

– to make the dough mix the flours with sugar and salt.  i like to keep my chopped butter in the freezer for a minute or two while I get the flour and water ready.  the cold water I also keep in the freezer with an ice cube and a splash of apple cider vinegar already in it.  mix the cold butter pieces into the flour and use a pastry cutter to blend until you have little pea sized butter pieces, make sure not to blend all the butter and make sure it stays cold.  add a tablespoon of water at a time mixing with your hands to form a dough that is not too sticky or to dry.  add more water if too dry and more flour if too wet.  make a flat disk and wrap it in plastic to let it sit in the fridge for at least a hour.

– the crust will be partially pre-baked.  so preheat your oven to 425°F and spread butter in the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan.  roll out the dough and place it in the pan leaving some on the edge.  poke a few holes with a fork.  leave it in the fridge until the oven is ready.  fold the edges however you like, here are some options.

– place parchment paper on the crust and place either pie weights or dried beans on top.  bake 15 mins until just slightly golden but not fully cook.  remove and let it cool.  i put mine in the fridge for a bit after it cooled to room temp.

– strain the milk and squeeze out the milk from the lavender buds.  mix the cheese with milk, honey, lemon juice and zest.  mix it well and add the eggs one at a time.  pour into your cooled pie crust and the whole thing can sit in the fridge.

– preheat the oven to 350°F. place the pie on a baking sheet on the middle rack and bake the pie for 35-40 minutes, rotating half way through.

– let it cool for about 2-3 hours before eating.

xoxo julia

rhubarb rose upside down yogurt cake

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New Yorkers love to complain.  In the winter the slightest bit of snow makes everyone freak out and all the schools close. The summers, on the other hand, are too hot and everyone escapes to The Hamptons or Maine.  I admit it sucks because there are too many tourists and it smells pretty bad, but I am not a New Yorker at heart and I don’t see the use in complaining.

Let me tell you what they are complaining about now.  Apparently spring doesn’t last long enough and they keep saying, “Where is spring?”.  The temperature is between 50-70 most days and we’ve been having a lot of rain. Now everyone likes a good spring, with the flowers and the nice breeze, but when did we (they) get this idea that spring was a walk in the park?  The earth is literally regrowing itself!  Give it a break.

This morning I woke up to a grey sky again and a dampness in the air that felt like a rainforest and you know what?  It was so beautiful.  That is spring!  Everyday there is something new, like little presents left out for us every morning.  The trees have more leaves and the grass looks greener every morning, and the moss is what I really love to start to see.  I’m a spring baby and I embrace the rain and the mess, bring it.

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I’ve been a little obsessed with the smells of flowers as of late.  I almost feel intoxicated by them sometimes.  Lilacs are just the best thing ever, they make me feel so good about life.

Rose water is also something I can’t seem to get enough of lately and is perfect for spring.  I love almond flour cakes, so this cake was just what I wanted and I used that and just adapted a bit, with rose water.

Rhubarb is RAD!

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Rhubarb Rose Upside Down Yogurt Cake

5-6 stalks of rhubarb, cut into 2 inch pieces on an angle, and cut in half if really thick

4 tbsp honey

1/2 cup water

1 tsp rose water

2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup sweet rice flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

7 tbsp butter, room temperature

1/2 cup honey

1 cup yogurt

3 eggs separated

-heat the honey, water and rose water in a wide medium saucepan until the honey is dissolved.  add all the rhubarb, or in batches so they aren’t crowded.  cook the rhubarb a couple minutes until slightly soft but not mushy (I did mine too long, it happens quick so watch out!)  strain out and put to the side.  cook down the liquid some more if you need  so you can use it as a syrup at the end.

-preheat your oven to 350°F.

-combine flours, baking powder and salt.  in separate bowl mix the butter with the honey with a hand mixer or stand mixer. add the egg yolks and mix well. mix the flour into the butter mixture.

-in a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  gently fold in the egg whites and the yogurt into the flour mixture and mix well.

-line a spring form pan with parchment paper all the way up the sides.  lay the rhubarb in a nice pattern, better than mine!  a circle is nice, redish on the outside and greenish on the inside is also nice.  pour the cake batter on top.  bake for 50-55 minutes.  let it cool a bit before flipping and removing the spring form.  pour the rest of the rose honey syrup on top!

enjoy, with a recommended cup a Earl Grey tea.

sorrel soup

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I just got back from a lovely couple of days in Chicago visiting my parents.  It wasn’t the Bahamas or Iceland but it felt so nice nonetheless.  Anytime we get away from our normal routine it is so refreshing.  I used to come visit and get very anxious to get back to my life in New York and would feel that Chicago was so boring and lame.  But I just welcome it so much now, because I’m pretty lame and Chicago is actually pretty cool.  I do love the mid-west, I know mountains and oceans are better but the midwest is special, there is something in the air that floats around and makes you feel ok about yourself.

We celebrated Easter and it was lovely.  Saturday we got our baskets blessed and I made a traditional Polish Easter dessert called mazurek, we died hard boiled eggs and had an array of sandwiches and babkas and cheesecake.  I think Easter is my favorite holiday and I never come to Chicago for it and I’m so glad I did this year.  We also went to the botanical garden and I got some glamour shots of how beautiful nature is!  I wish I was as beautiful as a flower!

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My mother’s garden is also starting to slowly show signs of life.  The nettle and sorrel are the strongest and when I saw the sorrel I got so excited to make sorrel soup!  I tried to make it last year in the summer and it is so hard to find sorrel in the city. I found some at the farmers market but it would be just small little bundles and only for part of the season.  So I made this great soup yesterday.  It is simple farm food, sorrel is easily found in Europe and a popular ingredient for soup and sauces.  If you can find it here get it and enjoy it, or if you have a garden plant some!  It is a sturdy plant.

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Sorrel Soup

1 small onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp butter

3-4 small potatoes, peeled and diced

6 cups vegetable broth

salt and pepper

1/2 pound or about 6 cups sorrel, chopped

1 cup sour cream

1 tbsp flour

hard boiled eggs, cut into 4ths

parsley or dill for garnish

-heat a stock pot to medium and add 1 tbsp butter.  add the onion until soft and then until fragrant.  add the potato with salt and pepper and cook about 1 minute.  add the broth and bring to a boil.  turn down the heat and simmer until potatoes are almost cooked, about 15 minutes.

-meanwhile heat a skillet and add 1 tbsp butter.  add the sorrel until wilted, it will turn a muddy green.  turn off heat and add the sorrel to the soup.  continue simmering.

– mix the sour cream with flour in a bowl and add about 1/4 cup of broth slowly until combined. add it back to the simmering soup.  simmer a bit more, until the potatoes are cooked.

-serve with pieces of hard boiled egg and chopped herbs.  season to taste.

-this can also be eaten cold.

cheers, julia