Posts from
Battenberg Cake Recipe on Food52I grew up on British cakes and treats thanks to my mum. We had everything from tea cakes and digestive biscuits to Yorkshire puddings and toad in the hole. One of my favorite cakes was a Battenberg Cake—not only was it pretty to look at, the homemade marzipan was a total treat. When I was young, Battenberg cake was sold at the food hall of a department store my mum used to take me to. With its pink and yellow checkerboard pattern of light sponge cake, thin layer of apricot jam, and marzipan coating, it drew me in. The store-bought version was a delight to look at, but sickly sweet and often refrigerated, leaving the light sponge more dense than fluffy. This cake comes from the UK, though its origins aren’t all that clear. Battenberg cake has also been called church window cake, checkerboard cake, and domino cake. One theory of the cake’s origin is that it was created in honor of the marriage of Princess Victoria to Prince Louis of Battenberg in 1884. Despite an undecided history, Battenberg cake has become a British classic. The food hall I used to be able to find this cake at is no longer around, but I’ve realized that making this cake at home produces a much better tasting cake than I remember from my childhood. Plus, homemade marzipan is so easy to make at home, and is truly delicious when made from scratch. Battenberg cake is the perfect sized cake to make at home, enough to last a full week of afternoon snacking. Plus, the marzipan coating works double duty—keeping the cake fresh, while being a tasty contrast to the light sponge cake. Also, making both colored sponges in one square tin makes for quick a clean-up. Who wouldn't want that? You can easily change the flavor and type of sponge you make while keeping the technique the same. A vanilla-chocolate checkerboard cake would work well with raspberry jam, or a coffee and hazelnut blend would be a great variation, stuck together with hazelnut-chocolate spread. If marzipan isn’t your favorite, you could always whip up a basic buttercream icing and add a bit of almond extract, or just coat the cake in lightly sweetened whipped cream. No matter what flavor combination you land on, the effect will be the same—a treat to look at and the perfect sized slice of cake to eat. Enjoy this cake with a big mug of tea or coffee in the afternoon or as a sweet treat after dinner.
Macau-Style Portuguese Chicken Rice Recipe on Food52The only reason I went to Double Chin, a Hong Kong-style cafe in Boston's Chinatown, was to get an Instagram-worthy picture of their signature dessert. Yet by the time I left, it was another dish—a very un-photogenic one—that captured my heart, tummy, and soul. I don't even remember what entree I actually ordered for myself. (Thank you for letting me share your lunch, Alvin!) After one bite of this dish I knew I had to try to make it at home. The dish starts off with a layer of chicken fried rice, which is then topped with a mild coconut curry sauce and finished with a sprinkling of shredded cheese. Then everything goes under the broiler until it gets all bubbly and gooey. This is pure comfort food, my friends. I know it's kind of strange to have cheese on an otherwise Asian dish, but there's actually a pretty strong tradition of Western ingredients being assimilated into Eastern cuisine, long before the more recent spate of fusion restaurants began trending in the United States. Think of the ubiquitousness of mayonnaise in Japanese dishes, cheese on Korean ramyun and ddukbokki, sweetened condensed milk on Hong Kong-style French toast, or Spam in Hawaiian musubi. I thought it was interesting that when I was looking for recipes for this dish online, a lot of them just listed "shredded cheese" as the ingredient, without any reference to what kind of cheese. So I ended up referring to Lady and Pups' Macao's Portuguese Fried Rice Gratin recipe, because 1) I love everything else she does, and 2) it seemed the most similar to what I had at Double Chin. I used chicken instead of fish and marinated it beforehand. I used chicken breast because I prefer white meat, but feel free to use chicken thigh meat if you prefer dark meat. I also made a couple of other modifications to her recipe based on what I had on hand (fewer scallions, water instead of milk) and taste preferences (half the amount of shallots, provolone instead of Gruyere). Please note that this makes quite a bit of food. Mandy's original recipe said that it serves 2, but it would probably be more like 6 Joy-sized servings. And if you're wondering why it's called Portuguese chicken rice, I think it has to do with the fact that Macau was a Portuguese colony up until the end of the last century. Note: For a lazier version of this recipe, just use your local Chinese take-out fried rice and skip adding the chopped up chicken to the curry sauce. Because I totally understand if you just want to get this into your mouth as soon as possible.
Curried Chickpea Sandwich Recipe on Food52I'm not one to go on about the power of The Universe, but certain things are clearly meant to be. Like meeting your best friend, or your true love—or a humble yet oddly compelling little sandwich. (Just me?) I can’t with total confidence tell you how this sandwich came into my life (that Universe thing again). But I do remember a recipe mysteriously appearing on my desk at work a few years back: a single torn-out page from The Oz Family Kitchen cookbook, about a curried chickpea spread. Deeply acquainted with the Oz oeuvre I am not, but I’ve never met a chickpea I didn’t like. And so I thought, “I should probably try that sometime.” A few weeks later, I did—and then again, and again, until I’d made it maybe a hundred times. Fast forward nearly three years, and I’m still making that sandwich. The reason is simple: I can’t get over how good it tastes, considering how easy it is to make. The way it comes together reminds me of what I like most about tuna fish or egg salad sandwiches: basic ingredients yielding a totally satisfying—and endlessly riffable—result. You combine chickpeas with tangy red wine vinegar and creamy mayo. Add celery’s crunch and a little zing from shallot, along with some earthy-sweet curry powder and turmeric, plus parsley for brightness, and boom: You’ve hit the savory-tasty-filling trifecta. I didn’t start off making this sandwich because it was cheap, but along the way I realized how very cheap it is. Which I thought was pretty great—because life is expensive, and by life, I mean lunch. A pound of deli turkey can set me back $19.99 at the unapologetically bougie market in my neighborhood, and $10 equals an only-okay salad near my office. At least a couple of days a week, this sandwich makes for a better, thriftier option all the way around. Here’s how the math works out on that $1.89 (numbers are based on my most recent grocery run, but they’ll obviously vary by store). There are some startup costs in the form of spices and such, which could be something to consider if you’re only planning to make this once...but you probably won’t only make this once. $2.58 worth of canned chickpeas (2 cans @ $1.29 each) 20 cents’ worth of celery (1 bunch @ $2.99) 20 cents’ worth of shallot (a single wee one) $1 worth of mayo ($4.99 for a 15 ounce jar) 15 cents’ worth of red wine vinegar ($5 per bottle) 30 cents’ worth of curry powder ($3.99 per jar) 30 cents’ worth of turmeric ($3.99 per jar) 50 cents’ worth of parsley (99 cents for a small bunch) $2.32 worth of sliced fancy bread (a shocking $6.99 per loaf at my neighborhood market—but that’s a whole other story) Total for four servings: $7.55...making the total cost per serving a pretty surprising and gratifying $1.89. The recipe calls for greens and tomato, but I'm just as likely to sprinkle on some salt and pepper and call it a day. More advanced types might zhush things up with grated carrot, pickled jalapenos, olives, and/or pepperoncini. The book suggests serving it in a pita, but I also like it open-faced on toast, with crackers, or plunked atop mixed greens. The chickpea spread keeps in the fridge for up to three days, so you have a few chances to experiment. My husband has gotten into it, too—we now bring matching sandwiches to work pretty regularly. (Aren’t we romantic?) Last Sunday, I was (theoretically) gearing up to go to the grocery store but (really) dawdling around on Instagram, and our conversation meandered into “What should we have for dinner this week?”-territory. You know how it goes: Chicken sausage or chicken thighs? Tomatoey pasta or lemony pasta? Who has time to cook, and who’s working late? Should we just go out to eat instead? When it came to lunch, at least, I didn’t even have to ask.