Mark Bittman's Tomato Paella
Amanda Hesser's Zucchini Soup

Housekeeping and Cornmeal Buckle


Many of you have written to ask about the archiving of past posts and recipes. Here's the deal: on the left-hand side of the site, right over there, that's it, are the monthly archives. If you click on the general archive link, it takes you a page where you not only can browse through all the months this blog has been in existence (do yourself a favor and don't go too far back, and if you do, don't say I didn't warn you) and below the monthly archives, you'll find the recipes grouped by categories (Soups, Desserts, New York Times, etc). I've done my best to be thorough, but if you can't find something you're desperately seeking, just drop me a line and I'll direct you to where you need to go.

I would love to have all the recipes indexed somewhere centrally, but as far as I can tell, it's not possible to do so on Typepad, so individual category pages it is, at least until I get struck by lightning and figure out how to code HTML and suddenly find myself whipping up fanciful weblogs with ingenious archiving at the drop of a hat.


As for the rest of this post, well, you know what it's like when everything just goes pear-shaped on some days? That's kind of what happened with this cake, Russ Parsons's Cornmeal Buckle with Plums (from a 2002 article and also excerpted in his new book, How to Pick a Peach, but more on that another day). It was a good enough weekend, you know, with two birthday parties, Don Giovanni at Lincoln Center, fried artichokes and Pinot Noir prosecco at Morandi and a driving excursion through our new borough into our old one (with me at the wheel, thankyouverymuch), but the cooking just seemed cursed.

Cursed really is just an excuse for the fact that I didn't buy more white sugar and tried substituting brown sugar in the topping and half of the cake (which I knew - knew! - wouldn't work, but it was late and I was frustrated and have I mentioned the fourteen zits currently residing on my face, making me look like a teenager all over again, except when I was a teenager I didn't have bad skin, so why-oh-why am I apparently going through puberty now, and then the thought - perish it! - that maybe, maybe, if I want my skin to start behaving again, I should stop baking plum cakes - wah - did I mention I was frustrated?), which made the topping sort of ooey-gooey, but in a bad way, and led me to believe the cake wasn't done when the recipe said it would be done, so I left it in for a little longer, leading to an overbaked cake with a dry crumb and a too-brown bottom, plus I didn't chop the plums and fold them into the batter like I was supposed to do, I sliced them into crescents and laid them over the batter and under the topping instead, which sounds just fine, but really wasn't and oh, phooey, there's no one to blame but myself.

Ben loved it, though, for what that's worth. (He's sweet. Though possibly also just feeling guilty because of the fact that his nightly fidgeting kept me awake at some seriously ungodly hours this weekend, making me wish for the sleeping set-up that Julia and Paul Child had (is there something wrong me with me that I like the idea?) and putting me in an absolutely foul mood by Sunday night.)

The rest of this week, I'll just get it out of the way right now, is kind of a personal minefield of sadness, so I'm stepping out of the kitchen to spend every possible minute out with friends (after I buy myself some Retin-A or Accutane or whatever the kids are using these days, unless my readers have any tips? And contemplate buying two twin beds to shove together so we can live like every day's a new day in a European youth hostel) at dinners and breakfasts and lunches galore. Distraction is sometimes the best medicine. Hopefully, by the time I resurface, I can look in the mirror without cringing (teenagers, I feel you) and have something a little more interesting to tell you about.


Cornmeal Buckle with Plums
Serves 6 to 8

1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces

1. In a food processor, pulse together the sugar, flour, salt and butter until the pieces are the size of coarse crumbs.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for preparing the pan
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 pound of plums (about 4, though I only needed 3), cut up

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch glass pie plate and set aside.

2. In another large bowl, beat the 1/4 cup butter with the sugar and egg until it is fairly light and fluffy. Add half the milk and beat until smooth. Gradually add the remaining milk while beating.

3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until well-moistened. Fold in the plum pieces. Pour the batter into the pie plate and spread evenly. Scatter the topping mixture evenly over the top. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

4. Remove the buckle from the oven and let stand 20 minutes before serving.