Genevieve Ko's Whole-Grain Banana Yogurt Muffins

Genevieve Ko's Whole-Grain Banana Yogurt Muffins

I would like to paint a quick picture for you. I am sitting at my computer which is set up on our dining table in our dining room. I call it our dining room because there's a big table that seats many people in it and if we host a party or special dinner or have people over for tea, that's where we go. But it's also my work space. And obviously, we haven't hosted anyone in quite a long time, so the dining table has turned into a repository of my work, the ubiquitous tangle of tech wires and bills overlapping with Hugo's loose leaf papers and school folders, since this is also where he ends up when school is online. Today, in this second week of Easter vacation, Hugo has a friend over and while the three boys dutifully played in the boys' room all morning, they migrated here sometime around lunch. Now, as I sit here, the sounds of fierce battles of the lionhearted knights in their carefully constructed forts reverberating all around me, I am trying to compose this post.

I often think about what I'll miss when the children are grown. I anticipate the heartache I'll feel about not having their soft, floppy limbs and sweet milky cheeks and their delicate voices around anymore, but I also find myself wondering about which things I won't miss. Will there be things I won't miss? It's hard to imagine. (Actually, wait, cleaning bottoms, that I will not miss.) Even now, when I'm trying to work and I can barely think straight, it thrills me to hear them playing, so engrossed in their world, the little snippets of phrase that are directly lifted from our own conversations. It makes me happy to listen to them, to think that they chose this room in order to be close to me, that they still are so unselfconscious and free to lose themselves in their role playing, the way their manners, that we spend so much time drilling into them and often despair over, do reliably rise to the surface when a friend is there and they suddenly know how to be generous and kind and polite without any prodding.

But, just to be clear, writing these two paragraphs has taken me over almost two hours. Every time a thought comes to me, it competes with the noise and the noise usually wins. It's all fine and good to wax poetic about the joys of small children, but when it comes to writing and finding the space and silence I need to write things more involved than a blog post, I am usually at the end of my rope. Yesterday, Max took the children to his parents' for the day and I spent hours (hours!) working on my novel and it felt so good, so deeply, satisfyingly good. Will I, one day, when they are grown, miss the way they kept me from the work I wanted so desperately to do? I like to think I won't, but I am a sentimental goon and I can very much see myself weeping over precisely this one day in the far-off future. Motherhood is a kick in the pants, isn't it.

But enough about me. Let's get to the muffins before any more time goes by. These muffins! I love them so. They are so very...muffin-y. You know how most muffins are basically just cupcakes? These muffins are muffins. They're wholesome and not too sweet (well, the way I make them, at least) and they use up overripe bananas and they're very nice made with regular whole-wheat flour and they're very nice made with a GF blend. The yogurt, honey and oil make them incredibly moist and tender, with only a faint tanginess. The recipe comes from Genevieve Ko, talented recipe developer, my old Forest Hills neighbor, and newly made senior editor at the New York Times Food section. Hooray!

In the photo above, I used only coconut to sprinkle them with, but usually I'll do a mix of black sesame seeds on some, pumpkin seeds on others, and coconut on the remaining ones and the combination of variously topped muffins on the serving platter at breakfast is so very pretty. I've been making these muffins for a few years now and they never fail to deliver. The original recipe calls for twice as much sugar as I use. With less sugar, the flavors of the other ingredients come through more and I think it makes the muffins taste better.

The two older boys have left for the playground now, and the little one is left behind. He's working on the castle they abandoned and he is very focused, his lower lip pushed out in concentration, sitting in the pool of sunlight that is cast over the sprawl of toys. It is quiet once again, for a moment or two. I can feel the détente within myself. How long will it last? It's not a question to ask or answer now, when every second counts.

Whole-Grain Banana Yogurt Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Note: To make these gluten-free, replace the whole-wheat flour with 75 grams oat flour, 50 grams of sorghum flour and 25 grams of all-purpose gluten-free flour.
Print this recipe!

1 1/4 cups/150 grams whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (from about 2 large bananas)
1/2 cup/120 milliliters plain whole-milk yogurt
1 large egg
1/3 cup/65 grams light brown sugar
1/4 cup/60 milliliters neutral oil, like sunflower or canola
1/4 cup/60 milliliters honey
Rolled oats, seeds, chopped nuts or grated coconut, for sprinkling (optional)

1. Heat oven to 375°F/190°C. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or generously grease (with nonstick cooking spray or butter).

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the bananas, yogurt, egg, brown sugar, oil and honey until just smooth.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently stir just until no streaks of flour remain. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle on toppings if you’d like.

4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into a center muffin comes out clean, 20 to 23 minutes.

5. Cool in the tin on a rack for 5 minutes, unmold and cool completely or serve warm.


Aachener Poschweck

Osterkranz

Joanie's beautiful Easter wreath, taken one Easter Sunday years ago when we were at her house for breakfast. The table was set with boiled eggs and tea, a sweet yeasted bread crafted into the shape of a proud rooster and plenty of sweet butter and homemade jams to spread on. The sweet sunshine filtered into her living room, casting lines of shadows against the portrait of her mother. It was such a nice morning.

This year, it's hard to work up the enthusiasm to celebrate a time of rebirth and new beginnings. Our circumscribed days are growing ever more so. We were warned these would be the hardest months and that has, so far, turned out to be true, at least for me. The days crawl by, not like last spring, when the one saving grace amidst all the fear and uncertainty was the speed with which the days were finished. This time around, the children are at each others' throats, the adults are tired and worn out, and a sentiment akin to hopelessness is settling into the cracks. But sometimes traditions are there if only to hold onto, white-knuckled, in a bid to spread some semblance of normality.

Today is Maundy Thursday, also known as Gründonnerstag in Germany. You're supposed to eat green things today, boiled potatoes with herb sauce, for example, or the Grüner Kuchen in Classic German Baking, a hearty, savory dish of yeasted dough topped with bacon, parsley and scallions.

On Easter Sunday, Germans celebrate with beautiful breakfast tables, usually starring a sweet yeasted bread of some kind, plaited into a wreath. (Joanie's animal sculptures are one of a kind.) If you want to make something special for your Easter Sunday breakfast, you could make the Rosinenzopf in Classic German Baking and either leave it as a regular loaf or roll the dough pieces slightly longer, then craft a braided wreath out of the dough instead (make a long braid, then form into a circle and weave the ends together, before brushing the whole thing with an egg wash.) If you have large bunny cookie cutters, you can skip the wreath and make individual sweet bunnies. Take the Rosinenzopf dough, but leave out the raisins, and roll out the dough to a rectangle that's about an inch thick. Use the cutter to cut out bunnies, transfer them to a prepared baking sheet, brush them with egg wash, decorate them with pearl sugar and raisins and then bake up into these golden delights.

Easter bunny

And if you're feeling like either of those ideas isn't quite "EASTER!" enough for you, let me suggest the fantastic Aachener Poschweck, a sweet loaf from Aachen that has been made for Easter since medieval times. It's a sweet enriched dough, but you don't just add raisins, you also add chopped almonds and sugar cubes. The cubes, in the heat of the oven, sort of melt into these crusty little geodes which are a delight to find in your slice, and also a delight to eat. The loaf is quite an impressive one to serve at an Easter breakfast, and should be thickly sliced and served with butter and jam or honey. (It can also be eaten as is...) The interplay of rich yeasted dough and crunchy bits of sugar is reminiscent of waffles from Liège (which is just 40 miles away from Aachen).

Aachener Poschweck

If you can find fresh yeast, this is the time to use it - it will give your Poschweck the puff power it needs and an exceptionally fluffy, flavorful crumb. (Instant yeast will be fine, your loaf will just be slightly less exuberant, let's say.)

I'll be taking a little break from blogging for the long Easter weekend. I hope you are all hanging in there in one way or another. I'll see you back here next week.

Note: This post includes affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

Aachener Poschweck
Makes one 11-inch/28-centimeter loaf

For the loaf:
3/4 cup (100 g) chopped, blanched almonds
1 1/2 ounces (42 g) fresh yeast, or 2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, lukewarm

4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour, scooped and leveled, plus more for kneading
11 tablespoons (150 g) unsalted high-fat, European-style butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (140 g) raisins
1 cup (125 g) sugar cubes

For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons whole milk

1. Place the chopped almonds in a dry skillet and toast over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until pale golden and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

2. Crumble the yeast into a medium bowl and add the sugar. Whisk in the milk until the yeast dissolves. Cover the bowl with a dishcloth and set aside for 15 minutes. If using instant yeast, skip this step and simply add the yeast to the flour and other ingredients in the next step.

3. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Cube the butter and place in the well. Add the vanilla extract to the yeast mixture and pour and scrape it all into the well. Before mixing, add the egg yolks and the salt. Using your hands, mix everything together and knead in the bowl until the dough comes together. Then scrape out onto a lightly floured surface and continue to knead, adding flour only if necessary, until the dough is smooth, 3 to 5 minutes more. You want the dough to remain as light and floppy as possible, so resist the urge to add additional flour, unless absolutely necessary, for example if the dough still is sticky after several minutes of kneading. The more you knead, the less sticky the dough should become. At the end of kneading, the dough should no longer be sticky. Form into a ball and set aside on the work surface to relax for a few minutes.

4. Gently roll out the dough until it is about an inch thick. Place the raisins, toasted almonds, and sugar cubes on the surface of the dough. Gather the dough up and around the fillings and knead them in until well distributed throughout the dough. This will be unwieldy at first, but as you keep going, the dough will start to come together again. Form the dough into a ball and put back into the mixing bowl. Cover with the dishcloth and place in a warm, draft-free spot for 1 hour.

5. After 1 hour, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently push down the dough to knead through once, and then shape into a 9-inch-/23-centimeter-long loaf that is about 5 inches wide in the middle. Place on the baking sheet.

6. To make the egg wash: Whisk the egg yolk with the sugar in a small bowl. Whisk in the milk. Brush the loaf evenly all over with the egg wash. Using a very sharp (ideally serrated) knife, slash the top of the loaf three times diagonally. Set aside in a warm, draft-free spot for 15 minutes.

7. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the Poschweck is a rich, deep golden-brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Place the sheet on a rack and let the loaf cool completely before serving in thick slices. The bread is best eaten the day it is made, but leftovers can be lightly toasted for a very special next-day breakfast.


The Bojon Gourmet's Gluten-Free Teff Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Cranberries

Teff Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Cranberries

Let's talk about good things today.

  1. Call My Agent. A television show (4 seasons) set in a Paris film agency called ASK (Agence Samuel Kerr) that includes real-like movie stars (think Isabelle Huppert, Monica Bellucci, Juliette Binoche) playing themselves as clients of the agency. We just finished watching last night and oh, how we enjoyed it! It felt like a little trip to Paris every night. My favorite characters were Noémie and Hervé, two quirky assistants who both undergo a transformation during their time at ASK. It was the best kind of escapist television, funny, interesting, fashionable and a little bit sexy. Also, PARIS.

  2. This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell. Like so many others, I'm having a hard time concentrating on novels these days. I have a pretty strict rule about not forcing myself to finish books that I'm not enjoying. There's too much good stuff to get through and I figure that those books' readers are somewhere out there and they don't always have to be me. But then came This Must Be the Place. It took me a long time to get into it. I thought about giving up multiple times. And I don't know why I didn't. Something made me keep going. Then about halfway through the book, one of the chapters just...resonated. Right in my heart. I reread it three times. It made me rethink my own novel (yes, it still exists! sob!) and gave me a whole new perspective on an integral relationship that was stumping me completely. Just thinking about the chapter now gives me goosebumps! This is all to say that I'm so glad I listened to the little cosmic voice that told me to keep going.

  3. Everything is Fine. A podcast that was started by Kim France and Tally Abecassis for women over 40. (Tally recently left the show and has been replaced by Jennifer Romolini.) I've enjoyed every episode that Kim and Tally hosted, but there are a few standouts you definitely shouldn't miss. The episode with Emily Flake was hilarious, the episode with Stacy London was unexpectedly enlightening, I'm still thinking about the episode with Claire Dederer, I have mentioned Ann Kreamer's episode on going gray before, but it is just so good, and an early one with Andrea Linett, about getting dressed, is also a delight. Basically, listen to them all. They're a burst of joy - wise, funny, smart, interesting, occasionally wrenching joy - and listening to them makes me feel less alone.

  4. Willow Crossley. Willow's an English florist with a lovely Instagram account. She has given me more confidence with flowers and bulbs than anyone/anything else. She's adorable and bubbly and talks about flowers as if they were people. She demystifies flower arranging and bulb planting so effortlessly. (For those of us with black thumbs especially!) Her IG Lives are a highlight of my week and I currently have no less than three pots of Willow-inspired bulbs in terrines and planters going in my house right now.

  5. Cody Rigsby's rides.

  6. These brilliant cookies from Alanna Tobin-Taylor, the blogger at The Bojon Gourmet and the author of Alternative Baker, which won an IACP award in the Health and Special Diet category a few years ago. Their base is teff flour and tapioca starch, then you pack in rolled oats, toasted walnuts (hello lovers!) and chocolate chunks. You could leave them like this, but I added dried cranberries (sour cherries would work, too) because I love those kitchen sink cookies that are just packed full of all kinds of chewy delights. Oatmeal cookies just need a little fruity burst to balance out the buttery toastiness of the oats, don't you think? Anyway, Alanna's gluten-free cookie recipes are marvelous. They taste and feel, texture-wise, just like regular cookies. No grittiness, no weird textures. Just a chewy, crunchy, toasty, malty, delicious cookie that everyone can enjoy.

What's bringing you joy and comfort this week? Please, please share in the comments!

Teff Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note: This post includes affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

The Bojon Gourmet's Teff Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Cranberries
Adapted from Alternative Baker
Makes 20 cookies
Note: For extra dense, chewy cookies, give the pan a few firm raps on the counter when you pull them from the oven.
Print this recipe!

8 tbsp (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 g) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 g) organic granulated cane sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4
cup (100 g) teff flour
1/4 cup (27 g) tapioca flour/starch
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (90 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces (170 g) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (60-70%)
3/4 cup (90 g) walnuts, toasted, cooled, coarsely chopped
Handful dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat.

2. Place the cooled butter in a large bowl. Whisk in the two sugars. Then whisk in the egg and vanilla.

3. Sift the teff flour, tapioca flour and sea salt over the sugar mixture. Stir vigorously to combine thoroughly. Stir in the oats, chopped chocolate, walnuts and cranberries. (If you need the time, you can let this mixture stand for 2 hours before baking.)

4. Scoop the dough (about 2 tablespoons per cookie) onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until the edges are golden and the tops are set, about 10-15 minutes. 

5. Remove the sheet and place on a cooling rack. Repeat with the second sheet and remaining batch of cookie dough. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Meera Sodha's Tuscan Kale Saag

Tuscan Kale Saag

Today, I thought to myself earlier, I would very much like to run away. Just, you know, walk out the front door and keep going, ending up in Rajasthan or the English countryside or an ice cliff in Greenland. I don't care where, really, just as long as it's not here, I thought. I am done with here. I've had enough of here. Get me out of here.

***

I miss my girlfriends. I miss connecting with my ladies in real life. I miss maskless faces. I miss their company and their smiles and looking at their shiny jewelry and talking about their gorgeous hair. I miss admiring them and asking for advice and giving advice and the thrilling incredulity that sometimes comes with feeling deeply understood. Waiting for them at a restaurant, deciding on a second glass of wine, feeling them all squished into a booth beside me. Their smells, their presence, their them-ness. Our conversations, the big talks and the little ones. Their outfits and their bags and their wrinkles and their laughter and their advice and our shorthand. I miss the women in my life so much that I have an actual physical ache.

Zoom was fine for a month or two or three, but now I can't even face Zooming with my friends. It feels too painful. I want to reach out and touch them and I can't. When the pandemic started last year, my friend and neighbor Stephanie came by one day just to say hi, from a distance. I ran down the stairs to see her, ripped open the front door and, confronted with her in the flesh before me, just burst into tears. My tears surprised me perhaps even more than they surprised her. The fact that she was in front of me and I couldn't go near her and touch her, pull her in for a hug, just gutted me. Once we all adjusted to the new normal, I was able to cope with that distance. I made my peace with it, I thought. But this week, that part of me is just hanging out again, all weepy and exposed, like a raw blister.

I want to run away to a faraway land and I want my girlfriends to come with me and while we're gone our husbands will take care of our children and they'll be just fine and we'll be back in a few months when we feel better, promise. 

***

The children were home from mid-December to mid-February. When they returned to school and Kita, I breathed a sigh of relief. Normalcy for them and for us, time to work again, time to be something other than a mother 25 hours a day. But the situation in Germany, in case you haven't heard, is becoming grotesque. Vaccinations lag, there is no testing strategy, and cases are skyrocketing. My mother and mother-in-law are vaccinated now, thank goodness, because they help us a lot. But Max and I are resigned to the fact that we are months and months away from our vaccinations, while the mutations are wreaking havoc. Bruno is our weakest link, poor little guy. I keep sending him to Kita, because I have assignments and deadlines, and every day I cross my fingers and hold my breath and hope against hope that he doesn't come home and infect us.

Keep him home, I think. Protect yourself. You have work, sure, but benevolent neglect never hurt anyone. And then I remember the endless weeks of them at home, at each other's throats all the time, his regressions, his brother's obsessive tendencies and how I felt like I was drowning all the time. He's better off at Kita.

***

All the while, meals are still getting made, morning, noon and night. One funny thing: I am having a quiet love affair with walnuts. I'll tell you more about that another time. In the who-gives-a-shit department, I feed my children broth made from bouillon cubes multiple nights a week and everyone is happy. In the marriage department, sometimes I get so angry about cooking one more meal that I make lunch only for myself and my husband has to go fend for himself, which he does without complaint. I have come this far in our journey together that I can report on this without judgment for myself.

Sometimes I get angry.

Sometimes I need to disappear.

Sometimes I simply refuse to make one more meal.

Yesterday, I made the discovery of the most delicious saag recipe made with Tuscan kale and tomatoes. I got it from my bible, East by Meera Sodha. In the cookbook, the saag is cooked with browned cubes of paneer, but I just wanted a big comforting pile of vegetables, so I left the paneer out and served the saag with hot cooked rice. It was so punchy and flavorful and nourishing that it felt like...a burst of sunshine in my body. An enveloping hug from someone wiser than myself. An escape. It used up precisely one bunch of perfect Tuscan kale. I made it just for us for lunch and there were no turned up noses or whines for something else.

One small good thing for which I could be grateful.

Note: This post includes affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

Meera Sodha's Tuscan Kale Saag
Adapted from East
Serves 2
Note: This recipe is easily doubled.
Print this recipe!

One bunch Tuscan kale (about 250 grams), ribs discarded, leaves roughly chopped
Rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
Thumb-sized knob of ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 green chile, optional, finely chopped
Half a can of chopped tomatoes or about 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon brown rice syrup
Half a can of coconut milk

1. On a medium flame, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan or pot with a lid and add the onions. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes over a medium flame,  until soft and sweet.

2. Add the ginger, garlic and chile, if using. Cook for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt and brown rice syrup and stir well.

3. Add the kale to the pan and stir to wilt. Add the coconut milk, stir, then cover. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. If the saag seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of water. 

4. When the kale is tender, use an immersion blender to roughly blend the mixture. Serve as a side dish or with rice as a main course.


Elizabeth Andoh's Soboro Donburi

Soboro Donburi

After 16 years of food blogging (!), I have yet to figure out how to make ground meat look appealing at dinnertime, when it's dark out and there's no natural light and everyone is hangry and the overhead lamp is casting a shadow. It practically pains me to post this photo above, which looks so...2005, doesn't it? Ack. But you need to know about it. I practically screamed in delight at dinner last night. Besides, you're not here for my photos, are you? You're here for the important stuff! The bossy opinions! The recipes! The mad ramblings of a middle-aged mother who mostly feels like she's at her wit's end! So I'm throwing vanity to the wind. (Besides, a much more photogenic picture of this slam dunk is right here.)

The recipe, by Elizabeth Andoh, is considered one of F&W's 40 best recipes in 2018. Does this mean 40 best ever or 40 best in 2018? I don't know. What I do know: It is currently at the top of my best in 2021.

Cooking it took 9 minutes last night. NINE MINUTES. Nove. Nueve. Neun. (Plus rice in the Instant Pot*, which took 13 minutes.) And it involves literally zero skill. You simply dump ground beef in a pot with sake (or Shaoxing wine, which is all I had), soy sauce, dashi (or water, which is all I had) and sugar (I reduced the sugar to 1 tablespoon down from 1.5 tablespoons). Then you cook it all together, mashing the beef around so it cooks evenly. You add a big mound of grated ginger and frozen peas. The original recipe says 1/2 cup peas to a pound of beef, but I like peas a lot and I wanted to bulk up the meal a little more, so I put in two cups and it was perfect and I'd do it again. You keep cooking until the peas are tender and the liquid evaporates and then it's done and you can sit down and have the most delicious, easy meal and don't forget the pickled ginger on top, because it really makes the whole thing sing.

It's sweet-salty and chewy and fragrant and the grated ginger sort of melts into the background, but gives the whole thing some backbone and it was just such a lovely little meal. I already know we'll be making it all the time. I may even put this baby up on the side of the fridge, it's that good. Plus, NINE MINUTES, PEOPLE. I'm still not over it.

Updated to add that Elizabeth herself chimed in on Twitter, alerting me to the fact that she updated the recipe on her website last year! More here.

*My beloved Cuckoo rice cooker gave up the ghost a few weeks ago. I have yet to rebuy one because the Korean grocery store where I bought it has closed and Cuckoo rice cookers are a lot more expensive than they used to be when I bought mine and the IP did such a beautiful job with the rice last night that now I find myself contemplating buying a second IP rather than a rice cooker. Is this a good idea? What should I do? Help!

Mel D. Cole
Photo by Mel D. Cole.

I'd like to close out this post by acknowledging the pain of the AAPI community, as well as Asians living in other countries who mourn yesterday's shocking murders in Atlanta and the past year's uptick in assaults and injuries, fearing for their own safety. This past year has unleashed a wave of racialized hatred towards Asians throughout Europe and the United States and it is outrageous and completely unacceptable. The deaths of the women in Atlanta are a tragedy. I am also devastated by the thought of Asian men and women everywhere fearing a random attack just because of what they look like. Lisa Lin has listed a few community organizers and advocacy groups in need of support. And Joanna also has a list of organizations to support. While the United States continues to have an unconscionable gun situation, which certainly makes everyone less safe, all Western societies need to do a better job of seeing and treating Asians as full and whole human beings who are every bit as deserving of their humanity as anyone else.

Elizabeth Andoh's Soboro Donburi
Serves 4
Print this recipe!

1 pound/450 grams lean ground beef
1/3 cup/80ml sake or Shaoxing wine
1/4 cup/60ml soy sauce
1/4 cup/ 60ml dashi or water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups/240 grams frozen peas
1 tablespoon peeled grated fresh ginger
Hot cooked white rice
Pickled ginger

1. Stir together ground beef, sake, soy sauce, dashi, and sugar in a small Dutch oven or medium-size, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high, stirring often to break up large lumps of beef, 5 minutes. Stir in peas and ginger; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is mostly evaporated and beef is no longer pink but is still moist, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Divide rice evenly among 4 large bowls. Spoon 1/2 cup beef mixture over each. Garnish with pickled ginger.


Aran Goyoaga's Red Lentil Hummus

Red Lentil Hummus

I had my mind blown by a handful of red lentils this weekend and since this is what counts as exciting, here in this strange in-between-world of waiting-for-vaccinations and hoping-not-to-get-infected-and-suffer-before-then, I would very much like to tell you about them in case you, too, would like to have your mind blown by a handful of red lentils.

I mentioned Aran Goyoaga's cookbook in my last post. It is an absolutely magnificent cookbook, full of the kind of food you'd like to make every day, that you could feed your family and your guests, full of big and small ideas, project-y recipes and easy, back-pocket ones (Apple Cider Yeast Doughnuts! Rice Pudding with Plums! Tomato and Romesco Tart! Roasted Pears with Seed Crumble!) It's entirely gluten-free, but that feels almost beside the point, because Aran's recipes are so good that they appeal to everyone, not just the gluten-intolerant. It'll be on my bookshelf forever and not just because of the sourdough starter, though that's certainly one of the book's stars. 

This red lentil hummus is another one. Aran got the idea to use red lentils in place of chickpeas from Heidi's cookbook Near & Far and it is a brilliant idea, because red lentils famously cook in the fraction of the time as chickpeas PLUS you get to entirely circumvent the issue of whether or not you should peel your chickpeas when making hummus. Win! 

I was a leetle skeptical to start. I was imagining an orangey hummus, slightly lumpy perhaps, I don't know, the powers of my imagination can sometimes be quite limited! But no, friends, red lentil hummus is magnificent: light and creamy and exceedingly smooth and airy. It takes almost no time at all to make and when we brought the hummus down to our neighbors last night for cocktail time (we are in a kind of pod together, plus she is vaccinated), our hostess said it was the best hummus she'd ever eaten and I wholeheartedly agree. 

It's so good that you will ask yourself why anyone would ever make a chickpea hummus again! Seriously! Lamination-worthy. I topped our plate with za'atar and a generous glug of olive oil, while Aran serves it with roasted vegetables and toasted pine nuts. We ate ours with crackers and then I magnanimously left our neighbors with the leftovers so I could make more upstairs.

Important: Follow the recipe exactly! The seasonings are perfect as is and the blending times are essential to the final whipped texture of the hummus. I don't have a standing food processor, but I used this and it worked perfectly.

Note: This post includes affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

Aran Goyoaga's Red Lentil Hummus
From Cannelle et Vanille
Makes 4 servings
Print this recipe!

1 cup (185 grams) red lentils, rinsed
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (360 grams) cold water, divided
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup (120 grams) tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup (75 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
1/4 cup (55 grams) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for topping
Za'atar, for topping

1. Place the lentils in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and have absorbed all the water.

2. Transfer the lentils to a food processor with the garlic and process for about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides well, add the tahini, salt, pepper and cumin. Process for another 3 minutes. Scrape the sides again. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the lemon juice and olive oil. Scrape the sides one last time, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. If the hummus is too thick, you can add up to 2 tablespoons water. Pulse a couple more times, then transfer to a clean bowl.

3. The hummus will still be warm. To keep a skin from forming as it cools, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the hummus, pressing down to eliminate air bubbles. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap, smooth out the top artfully, sprinkle with za'atar and drizzle liberally with olive oil.


Ovenly's Flourless Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

As you may know from following me on Instagram, I am now the proud mother of a gluten-free brown rice sourdough starter. The recipe comes from Aran Goyoaga's truly incredible cookbook Cannelle et Vanille, which she so kindly sent to me a few weeks ago. I've used it to make my first loaves of delicious gluten-free sourdough bread and a batch of gluten-free sourdough waffles. It's total gold. As soon as I get my hands on some metal rings, I'm making sourdough English muffins from this book, which I'm also enjoying immensely. What this means, though, is that I've been up to my eyeballs in gluten-free flours and cookbooks and have had my hands full with very project-y baking lately. I haven't had much time leftover for the random batch of cookies-for-when-the-mood-strikes-you.

And sometimes you need to make a random batch of cookies just because the mood strikes you, you know?

I had one of those moods yesterday and these cookies made with just one handful of ingredients (peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt) very much fit the bill. They're whipped up in minutes, bake up in no time and manage to scratch that very particular itch for something chewy, sweet-salty and delicious. They're best made with commercial peanut butter, not natural. They're flourless, making them perfect for that gluten-avoidant person in your life, but also just as delicious if you're not avoiding gluten. I added chocolate chips because I saw Chika do it and while I rarely attain any level of Chika-ness in my baked goods, this was one triumphant moment where I could. And the sprinkle of flaky salt on top is a must must must because without the salt, they veer too much into peanut butter cup territory, whereas the salt sort of slaps them into a slightly more grown-up posture. (Slightly.)

Flourless Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made a half-batch and I made pretty small cookies, just two inches, really, and I'm very glad I did so - these cookies pack a punch and I think they're best enjoyed in small amounts. But the recipe is easily doubled if you need a larger quantity or larger cookies. This recipe is hugely popular online, so maybe most of you already know about it! If so, forgive me! This is for the ten people out there who haven't yet. Much gratitude goes to Deb, who did the arduous work of converting the original recipe to grams. Eagle-eyed readers among you will notice that in the recipe below there are only gram measurements and not cups. This is because it is a hassle and a half to measure out peanut butter and I would like to encourage you to use your scale more often! This is the perfect example of a recipe in which a scale is far preferable to other forms of measurement.

Also! If you have an ice cream scoop for scooping cookies, this is a good time to use it! It will make your cookies look prettier than my misshapen little lumps up there. 

Finally! One final note! Before you go! Of course, these cookies are lovely when still eaten warm, and it is hard to resist, I know. The whole point of the recipe is to make cookies quickly so you can have them in your belly quickly, right? But believe me when I tell you that the completely cooled cookies are MORE DELICIOUS than the warm ones! I don't know why! They get caramelly and fudgy and the chew is more irresistible and the salt notes hit differently and I'm telling you, if you can, WAIT to eat these. Or eat them warm, fine, but save some for the next day because you'll be so happy you did.

Note: This post includes affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

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Ovenly's Flourless Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: About 18 small cookies
Note: These can be made with different nut butters, but won't hold their shape as well. The recipe is easily doubled.
Print this recipe!

170 grams light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
225 grams smooth peanut butter (processed, not natural)
Handful semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
Coarse-grained sea salt, to finish

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar and egg until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then the peanut butter until smooth and completely incorporated. The dough will thicken up as you whisk. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Scoop or spoon the dough into mounds and place on prepared sheet. Sprinkle the cookies lightly with coarse-grained sea salt. Bake cookies for 14 to 15 minutes or until the edges are just golden. Remove from the oven and place the sheet on a cooling rack for 10 minutes to let them firm up. Then transfer the cookies directly onto the rack. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for a few days.