bay leaf pudding

DSCF9337

I have so much free time right now, but I am so not using it wisely!  I am now living in a new city and looking for new jobs and trying to save money so my mind is not focused yet.  It’s so exciting though, I feel positive.

I lived in New York, Brooklyn specifically, for 7 years.  It was such an amazing adventure.  I learned a lot, worked my butt off, did stupid things, did really cool things, wasted time and wasted money.  After everything I was burnt out!  I needed a different pace, I needed to spend less money and I needed my family around.  New York is amazing, but after a while, it’s just too much for someone like me, a year goes by like three months.

IMG_1604.jpg

(New York from a rooftop in Brooklyn)

I have never really put together a list of stuff to do in a city but maybe I will do it for New York/Brooklyn, from the perspective of someone living there and seeing how much there is and not really having money, time and especially energy to do it all.  It can either be a really good list or a really lame list, we will see.

And now Chicago, I really love this city and kind-of want to keep it a secret, let’s just keep it at that for now…

DSCF7804

(Lincoln Park in Chicago)

And even though I have lots of time right now, you might not, and this is a such an easy but amazing dessert!  This stuff is addicting!  Seriously, I can eat the whole thing and more.  I have a thing for puddings, any pudding: rice, chocolate, lemon.  But bay leaf?  I am not sure how to describe the flavor, it’s a bit herbal, maybe a hint of licorice, but it’s very subtle and does not take over.

Bay Leaf Pudding

2 1/2 cups milk

6-10 dried bay leafs (I used a lot, and you can also use fresh, experiment and taste!)

1/3 cup of sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

– heat 2 cups of milk in a small saucepan on medium heat until almost boiling.  remove the milk from heat and crush up the bay leafs into the milk.  let it sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the milk does not create a film on top.

-strain the milk and reheat until almost boiling again.

-mix the remaining 1/2 cup of milk with 1/4 cup of cornstarch in a small bowl a little at a time so it breaks down evenly.  turn the heat down a little on the milk and add the sugar.  Stir for about 5 minutes.  keep stirring and add the cornstarch.  stir occasionally on low heat for about 5 minutes.

-remove from heat and let it cool down a bit.  pour into a bowl or whatever your using and place plastic right on top of the pudding to help not create a film (or not if you don’t mind).  cool in fridge for a couple of hours.

yummmmm

-Jrad

 

lemon lavender farmer’s cheese pie

DSCF7438 (1)

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.

DSCF7202DSCF7207

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.

DSCF7440

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

DSCF7079 (1)

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.

DSCF7343

DSCF7344

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!

DSCF7083

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.