For the holidays this year, I knew I wanted to share this cake with you. My Dad was a man who loved simple desserts. A piece of sponge cake and a glass of tea, and I mean glass, was all he needed to be satisfied. As his time here was drawing to a close, it was no easy feat to get him out of the house. As he grew frailer, I felt him withdraw more and more. When I came to visit him, he often kept his arms at his sides. One day I called him on it and said, “You are still here, Daddy. Your baby expects a hug when she sees you.” He looked at me and lifted his arms to hug me. After that, he made sure to offer a real hug at every visit.
When his 88th birthday approached, I wanted to do something for him that would make him smile inside and out, something that would be just right for him. I decided to make this festive version of a classic sponge cake–moist, with the juice of an orange, and fragrant with citrus zest. I packed up the cake, a thermos of tea, and a small folding table, and headed off to pick up my parents. Over my Mom’s protests, I helped ease my Dad into my Jeep. Together with my Mom, we drove off to nearby Roxbury Park, where we found a lovely bench with the basketball courts immediately behind us, and the children’s playground beyond a gentle meadow facing us. Perfect.
The fresh air, the sounds of children playing, the sight of people walking by, all the things my Dad loved. My parents had no idea what I was doing when I set up the little table in front of my Dad, and set out the sponge cake, complete with birthday candles. Never mind that the breeze kept blowing the candles out. Later, my Dad told me it was one of his best birthdays ever. As it happened, it was his last birthday with us. So, in honor of my Dad, I offer you Citrus Sponge Cake.
Using a large tube pan, the cake easily serves 16. It contains 7 eggs.
This is a departure from my usual style of baking, but it’s a special cake for any special time of year, and, if it makes you feel better, you can always cut each slice in half lengthwise. But I can pretty much guarantee that people will come back for the second half.
The cake calls for cake flour, which I did not have on hand. That should never stop you. It’s a well-known baker’s trick that, from every cup of flour, remove 2 tablespoons flour and replace with 2 measured tablespoons of cornstarch. Then sift the heck out of the flour mixture. What do I mean by that? I mean sift it five times. Not a biggie.
zest of a lemon and orange ⇒ flavorful cake
pre- egg whites and post folded-in beaten egg whites
Wishing you a Sweet New Year
with Good Changes
Citrus Sponge Cake
gently adapted (I ↓ sugar) from Judy Zeidler’s classic Gourmet Jewish Cook
7 eggs, separated
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1 c. granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 c. sifted cake flour (or see NOTE below)
1/2 c. orange juice
NOTE: No Cake Flour? NO Problem! Measure one cup of regular unbleached flour and place in medium bowl. Take out 2 tablespoons of the flour AND SUBSTITUTE WITH TWO TABLESPOONS OF CORNSTARCH. Now measure out the remaining half cup of flour and remove one tablespoon of flour from it before adding to the bowl. Now substitute one tablespoon of cornstarch for that spoon of flour. To make it extra light, sift this flour/cornstarch mix FIVE times. Yes, yes, five. It takes no time and it ensures ultra light flour. Just like cake flour.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and beat until stiff enough to cling to the side of the bowl but not yet dry. Blend in 1/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and orange and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Gently fold the yolk mixture into the beaten egg whites.
Next, in 3 batches (ending with flour), gently fold the flour alternately with the orange juice into the egg white mixture. Do not overmix.
Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If you have a slow oven, you might try bringing the oven temperature up to 350° for the last 5-10 minutes of baking.
Remove from the oven and invert immediately onto a wire rack. Cool. Loosen from the sides and center of the pan with a sharp knife and unmold to a serving platter.
Ta Da! A sponge cake to swoon over. You’ll have to sponge ’em off the floor.
The end of summer is here and I find myself in a place for which I’m truly grateful and also filled with a spectrum of feelings. Do you ever find yourself in a place of flow? The best way I can describe it is a place you arrive at (hopefully) after finally committing yourself to veering away from so many distractions that are forever swirling around and placing your attention on the little voice within. And this can take years. It’s not easy and it’s so easy, all at the same time.
Novio, Peter, our wonderful website builder, and I just completed the jacket design for my documentary, Life On The Bridge. And last week we picked up 200 DVD copies of the first cut of the film. The support I’m receiving is amazing. And that will be my springboard to move this project forward to share the message it has for others. For more information, check out lifeonthebridge.com.
There’s new stuff to report on the Bumbleberry Breeze front too. I am excited to alert you to a few changes to the site, both in appearance and in function.
There are updates on the header and the sidebar. Best of all, I can now offer you a user-friendly way to print recipes without being bombarded by all the photos spewing out of your printer and without needing to do the copy & paste method. Simply click on the Print Recipe link immediately preceding the recipe (on the right). A new document with the recipe ONLY will pop up which you can print.
I’m looking at all the bounty here in Southern California at summer’s end and reveling in all the delicious food, with all its colors and textures and flavors. We’re eating lots of salads but we don’t always want greens to be the star. The heirloom tomatoes just keep showing up . They’re so sweet, we don’t need to do much with them, other than enjoy.
I love corn on the cob, especially the yellow and white ears. Grilled corn is SO good, but when no one is doing the grilling and my grill pan is buried at the bottom of the drawer, I love to use this method.
I wanted to add some heft to the salad so I mixed in two different types of beans. Of course, that’s your choice.
Added to the mix are diced celery and red onion, for flavor and crunch.
Summer Corn & Tomato Salad
2 ears yellow and white corn
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes (or regular cherry tomatoes)
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 14-oz.can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 T. fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (or oregano or tarragon or cilantro)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. honey
salt and pepper
Wash ears of corn, removing all silk threads.
Wrap each ear in wax paper, large enough to roll and twist ends, Tootsie Roll- style.
Place 2 ears in glass pie plate and microwave on high for 4 minutes.
Use care removing glass dish from microwave. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
Cut cherry tomatoes in half.
Holding cob vertically, shave kernels off cob with a sharp knife.
In a large bowl, combine corn kernels, tomatoes, celery, red onions and beans.
Combine oil, vinegar, honey in small glass jar and shake vigorously. Pour over vegetables.
Season with salt and pepper. Add fresh herbs and toss.
My life is at a very special place these days… I am about to give birth to a creation that began growing 17 years ago but has really been forming for 40 years (see About Me... August 2015).
How am I supporting my self through this time? By being as aware as I can about taking care of my self. Number One is getting the rest I need…. I’m really listening, Frank…. though the intention isn’t always followed by the action. The action of rest, that’s an interesting phrase.
Taking care of our selves absolutely includes eating foods that are wholesome and good. And not processed.
My dear friend (and adopted niece) Nancee is a dietician. And she’s good. Really good. Nancee told me that this documentary is awesome and I HAVE to see it right away. And I did. And she’s right. The film is Fed Up.
And I completely agree with its message. Get it. Download it. Watch it.
Every time you can, eat food that’s straightforward, simple and delicious. Like this recipe. Enjoy!
I used fresh tarragon as my main flavoring. Using fresh herbs is a great way to boost flavor without needing a lot of extra salt.
You can prepare this recipe with fresh rosemary or oregano or sage or thyme or parsley, to name a few. In a pinch, use a dried herb, about 1/2 teaspoon, depending on your likes. But I’ve got to tell you, using fresh herbs is what makes this dish come alive.
Add to that the mighty trio of olive oil, fresh lemon and garlic. Add just a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
If you like, slice a lemon on a greased roasting pan.
1 1/2 lbs. skinless boneless chicken breast
2 T. olive oil
Juice of 1 small lemon or 2 T. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small lemon, sliced (optional)
1 T. chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 t. sweet paprika
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375º.
Rinse and pat dry chicken breast.
Lightly grease roasting pan large enough to fit chicken breasts, leaving space between. If using lemon slices, lay them down on the greased pan. Place chicken breasts over lemon slices, leaving space between each piece of chicken.
Salt and pepper chicken breast followed by olive oil and lemon juice.
Distribute garlic over each piece.
Sprinkle paprika followed by fresh tarragon over each breast.
Roast in oven for 25 minutes. Chicken should be just cooked through. (I check by cutting one in half. That’s the easiest way.)
Remove from oven and loosely tent with a piece of aluminum foil for 5 minutes.
There’s a lot happening these days. And when I have a lot going on, evening snacking hits a peak. My good friend tells me she has the same thing going on. All the time. So her solution is that she keeps a bowl of freshly washed berries in the fridge and when she feels the urge for a little something sweet, she goes at one or two or twenty to satisfy her craving. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. Our bodies love ’em. And so do our taste buds.
I bought extra raspberries at the farmers’ market. And before I munched up all of them, I wanted to use them in some kind of fruit bar. I was thinking of a shortbread-type bar where you make a shortbread dough, press half in the pan, do a fruit center with preserves, crumble the rest of the dough on top and bake.
Then I remembered a struesel bar I’d tried in the Baker’s Dozen Cookbook. It’s more rustic than a straight shortbread bar. It’s got oats so that means we can call it a dessert bar that’s eligible for breakfast standing!
If you don’t know about this cookbook and if you enjoy baking, it is politely asking you to make some room on your shelf for it right now. A group of terrific Northern California bakers (one of them was Marion Cunningham, who has a permanent spot in my heart) got together regularly, all baked their versions of the same thing and compared notes. Thus, a book was born. And a darn good one.
Preserves, dried fruit cooked a bit, fresh fruit. Or a combination. The opportunity to be creative is alive! alive!
Once they were cooled, I cut them into bars and froze them. An easy way for me to share the love.
Everybody loved these bars. Everyone from my mom to my postal carrier. OK, maybe not so objective. The participants in my market research all generally love what I give them. But seriously. They are good. I managed to sequester the last four in a container and took it with me when we went to visit the niece and family in Ohio. Said niece agreed. All three loved them.
And speaking of love, little Sam is beyond delicious. Not only does everyone want to kiss him, but he wants to run around kissing everyone he likes, which is most people. Every time he ran up to me, wrapped his delicious arms around my leg and kissed it, my heart melted. Every time he leaned in to plant a lip-smacking kiss on my cheek, same effect. And every time he took my arm in his little hands, bent over and landed a kiss on my hand….. sheer heaven. Now that’s what memories are made of.
Raspberry Streusel Oat Bars
adapted from Apricot Streusel Bars in Baker’s Dozen Cookbook
1 c. flour
1 c. old-fashioned oats (also called rolled oats)
¼ c. lightly-packed dark brown sugar
¼ c. sugar
½ t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted OR ½ stick butter plus ¼ c. canola oil OR ½ c. oil
6 T. great-quality raspberry preserves (the kind you can’t wait to spread on a buttered piece of whole grain toast, or a fresh scone, or a warm biscuit)
16-20 fresh raspberries (about 1 scant cup)
1/2 c. sliced almonds
Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º.
Line the bottom of an 8″ square pan with aluminum foil, leaving a bit extra foil on either end for handles. Lightly grease foil.
In a large bowl, mix flour, oats, brown sugar, sugar, and baking soda, and salt. Add melted butter (or oil, if using) and cinnamon and stir well.
Press half the oat mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Spread raspberry preserves over oat mixture and top with fresh raspberries, evenly spaced over the preserves.
Add sliced almonds to remaining oat mixture, and mix.
Crumble remaining mixture on top and gently pat into the filling.
Bake until streusel is golden brown and is set in the center, about 30 minutes.
Allow to cool on rack for at least a couple of hours.
Lifting foil handles, remove from pan, cut into 16 or 20 bars.
Stores well in freezer or refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
Note: Variations on raspberry can be apricot, or half a cup of coarsely chopped dates or pitted prunes.
bb note: Save all those yummy crumbs and keep them for ice cream or yogurt.
and the berries keep turning up – can’t get enough of them!
We’re looking at broccoli today. It’s time to re-acquaint ourselves with an old and maybe under-appreciated friend. Kale gets a ton of press these days. And that’s fine. Kale is Kool. But just because something is in vogue doesn’t mean we pass the broccoli on by at the market. Can you believe that a big ad agency, Victors & Spoils, was actually hired to create a campaign for our good buddy Broccoli? I kid you not. I read about it a couple of years back in the Sunday NY Times Magazine section (Nov. 3, 2013). They came up with slogans like:
The Meat of Any Salad
Since When Do Super Foods Have To Be Super Trendy?
The battle was ON between “alpha” broccoli and “trendy” kale and it only helped boost sales on both sides. (Anyone remember the old war between Coke and Pepsi, in which, according to the advertisers, there was no loser? Except for the general public drinking the ____. But that’s our business, not the advertisers.)
So I was leaning with my elbows on the counter, as I’m wont to do, thinking about the lovely broccoli I had just gotten from the market. It was sitting next to a beautiful bowl of tangerines. Green and orange… one of my favorite color combinations. Broccoli with citrus. Beautiful! Lovely as a side.
We’ll do a little something with Mr. Broccoli first. Steam it with a bit of fresh ginger and garlic.
And this combo is just as lovely presented on a bed of greens for a light salad. I generally like to throw a cooked veggie in my salads. And I often throw some type of fruit in my salads – diced apples, pears, orange or tangerine segments, strawberries, peaches, dried fruit. Whatever’s around… locally.
… and a light vinegar. Throw in a squeeze of lemon too.
Ta Da! Simplicity Rules!
As my good friend Ann, reminded me the other day, “I like to stick with the KISS system in life.” You know. Keep it simple, Stupid. Novio informs me that the term was initially coined in a recording studio. Whereever it was born, it’s definitely a good one to remember.
STEAMED BROCCOLI WITH TANGERINES
2 c. broccoli
1 clove garlic, sliced lengthwise
1″ piece of ginger, sliced lengthwise
2 small seedless tangerines
2 green onions, sliced
2 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. orange Muscato vinegar (or any light fruity vinegar)
salt & pepper to taste
Steam broccoli whole or cut in pieces, along with ginger and garlic. If whole, steam the broccoli for 5 minutes and remove from heat to let rest for 2 minutes. If cut in bite-sized pieces, steam for 3-4 minutes, to your desired level of tenderness. Let rest for a minute. Place in bowl and set aside
Segment the tangerines and toss with broccoli. Sprinkle oil and vinegar over. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. That’s it. Seriously.
Delicious, wholesome food is not hard to do.
bb Note: There all all kinds of variations building on the broccoli-tangerine pairing:
- add spinach or greens to make a salad
- add a cup of cooked quinoa with or without cooked chicken for a main-dish salad
- add greens and goat cheese for a dairy salad
These simple and quick cookies are like pecan pie… hold the pie! Not as sticky or gooey, they are definitely chewy. Grab a bunch of pecan halves and get going-
I found the recipe for these gems in a Temple Sisterhood cookbook back when I was doing my Annual Passover Research. Yes, they are Passover-friendly. And they are also gluten-free. And they are also dairy-free.
Four ingredients in addition to the pecans. Yes, that’s right, only four. Amazing!
The awesome flavor comes from toasting the pecans first. And not for too long. We don’t like the smell of burnt nuts.
After testing this recipe, I came up with this:
Don’t chop the pecans- it takes forever to get them fine enough. Use your food processor instead. I used my mini food processor because I hate to get the big one out of the cabinet. My mini food processor has a chop button and a grind button. Stay away from the grind button or you will get nut butter. I did that in one of the batches. The texture wasn’t right.
Chop the nuts in small batches. I chopped the two cups in 4 batches. That will help you achieve the consistency you want.
Roll the balls small enough so that you get about 36 (a good number :)).
2 c. PLUS 3 dozen pecan halves
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/8 t. salt
1 egg white
1 t. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 300° F. Toast all the nuts on an unlined baking pan for 4-5 minutes until fragrant.
Turn oven up to 375° F. Place parchment paper on 2 baking pans.
Use a mini food processor or a regular food processor to chop 2 cups of nuts finely. Be careful not to over chop and turn the nuts to butter. The easiest way to do this is to chop in small batches, pulsing until very finely chopped.
Place nuts in medium bowl and add brown sugar and salt. Add unbeaten egg white and stir.
Form mixture into small balls, with an eye on making 36 (you make get 30-32) . Place on prepared pans. Press a pecan half onto each ball and flatten it a bit as you do.
Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on a rack.
These cookies freeze well.
PS A word on the china:
My parents bought this beautiful set that’s a child’s hot cocoa service for two in Vienna after the war. Not sure how they brought it over safely to New York but they did. My dad was always an excellent packer. My mom gave the set to her baby (me) and it holds a treasured place in my heart and in my hutch.
I baked these cookies as part of a whole dessert spread to celebrate with a few people who, together with me, could take a moment to appreciate a miracle– the 40th anniversary of my doing kidney dialysis–wow.
I think I’ll start pulling out this sweet set and make hot cocoa for me and my Novio every now and then.
Be well, everyone. Be strong. Be here.
Here I am, Dear Readers. Life On The Bridge, the documentary about my personal journey, has been keeping me on my toes. Check it out by clicking on the name. Plus, I’ve had the opportunity to be at more conferences. I’m speaking to doctors and nurses to get the conversation going about increasing the quality of life for people with ongoing health conditions. I know, I know. I can’t get stretched too thin. It would make me look like Gumby. I don’t want that. Neither does Novio.
So I’m finally back in the bb kitchen. Just in time to gear up for Passover. The bags filled with Passover goodies are steadily building in the freezer, including Chocolate Matzah Farfel Clusters (find the link below).
This granola recipe first floated on over to me years ago by way of a handout at a Judy Zeidler Cooking Class presented in the basement kitchen of the beautiful Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The kitchen is a part of Skirball that most people don’t get to visit. I took the elevator down and snaked my way through narrow hallways with exposed pipes and insulation on the ceiling. When I pushed the heavy door open to the kitchen, there was Judy, petite with short blond hair. energetically presiding over a group gathered around a counter. Judy’s somewhat of a kosher celebrity in LA – she’s done a lot – catering, cookbooks and restaurants. Zeidler’s Cafe at the Skirball? Yep, that’s hers too.
So, thank you Judy, I’ve been making all kinds of versions of this granola ever since…
I like to begin my toasting the matzoh farfel (or you can use matzoh, broken up very small), with almonds and coconut.
Then I add oil, honey, a pinch of salt and cinnamon.
In this version, I used golden raisins and diced apricots.
We don’t have to use overly sweetened and processed food for Passover. If we don’t do that during the year, why do it on Passover? Stick to wholesome food and you can’t go wrong.
Check out my Mains, Sides and Dessert Categories for ideas. You’ll find lots to choose from – here’s a sampling, modify for Passover ( i.e. omit use of certain seeds, like mustard) where you need to:
- Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls
- Blood Orange and Fennel Salad
- Roasted Salmon with Quinoa and Butternut Squash
- Middle Eastern Chicken
- Dressed-Up Asparagus
- Crispy Potato Pancake Bites
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Walnuts
- Coffee-Almond Cookies
- Italian Pistachio Cookies
- Chocolate Matzoh Farfel Clusters (LOVE these!)
For More bb Goes Pesach Ideas, head on over to Matzoh Love
adapted from Judy Zeidler recipe
2 1/2 c. matzoh farfel
1 c. raw whole almonds, cut in half around the middle
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut
3 T. honey
3 T. canola or safflower oil
1/4 t. sea salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
bb notes- try with different dried fruit or nuts. Swap out honey for maple syrup.
Preheat oven to 300º.
Spread matzoh farfel, almonds and coconut on a foil-lined roasting pan and bake for 5 minutes.
Move into a mound on the pan and pour over the oil and honey. Sprinkle on the salt and cinnamon. Toss to completely coat the mixture. Hands work very well. Or you can always use a spoon or two.
Bake for 10 minutes and stir the granola.
Pop back in the oven for another 7-10 minutes, until the granola turns golden and is fragrant.
Remove from oven and sprinkle dried fruit over the granola while it’s still warm.
When it cools, transfer to glass jars or plastic containers. Keeps at room temperature for about 2 weeks.
Enjoy the granola with yogurt and fruit, or with milk or just by itself as a great snack!
N. and me celebrating 8 years of marriage with a glorious pizza from Gjelina in Venice. (Not Passover yet!)