New York Crumb Cake

Ready

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once said “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” … “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.

Not that I’m one to argue with a dead, French journalist, who coined one of the most used sentences … well, EVER …

BUT, for me, truth be told, the more things have changed, the more different they have become.

I was born in New York City. Grew up in New York City. Grammar school and high school in New York City. Up until November 2013, I had never lived further than 10 miles from everyone to whom I’m related – except my sister Maria who abandoned ship to marry a great guy and now lives in Oswego, IL.

I worked for my Dad for around 30 years as a paralegal and office manager.

I had GREAT gal pals.

November came along and EVERYTHING changed. I moved from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the calm and quiet of Bar Harbor, Maine (well, except for July and August when town is over run by tourists). Am no longer (mostly) working for my Dad, have new jobs, added some new gal pals to my beloved inner circle, live in a beautiful home surrounded by beautiful gardens, with the MOST incredible man.

I decided as I was packing my boxes that I no longer wanted to be a paralegal. I didn’t want a 9 to 5 office grind. If I was going to change everything about my life, I may as well change everything about  my life.

BUT WHAT DO I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP!?

Well, who knows?! (and I refuse to grow up …) But I do know it HAS to involve food! At the moment, I’m working at Reel Pizza Cinerama – truly one of the coolest places EVER! I began my own summer based cooking business – The Maine Ingredients – which truly struggled its first summer. I even picked up a few shifts as a sous chef in a friend’s restaurant – Sweet Pea’s Cafe.

A little restless. A little bored. Feeling a little sorry for myself.

AND THEN! … an email from my friend Jennifer Steen Booher, whose photographs are the coolest I’ve ever seen (check them out on Quercus Design) arrived. Her daughter Tabby wants to cook, bake, be in the kitchen. They tried a cooking camp and it was a massive FAIL. Would I consider coming over and teaching Tabby and a couple of friends the way around a cake tin? WOULD I? HELLS YEAH!

We had a blast! We made pretzels and scones and bread and blueberry muffins and quiche and lemon meringue pie (which I had personally never made either and was knocking knees that it would work out – and it did!) and sticky buns and this New York Crumb Cake.

Jenn wrote a great piece about our time in the kitchen – check it out – and check out hr fabulous photography!

Thank you, Jenn for sharing your kitchen and daughter with me! Thank you Tabby, Anna, Irene, Geneva and Carolyn for making the lessons so much fun and for turning out some fabulous baked goods!

I’m hoping others will see this and Jenn’s piece on her blog and want some lessons too … if you do you can reach my by email themaineingredients@gmail.com or 207-801-0302!

See, the more things have changed, the more they have changed and the better they have become!

Makes one 9-by-12 1/2-inch cake

  • 2 T canola oil, plus more for pan
  • 4 C all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 C packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Place rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 325°. Lightly brush a 9-by-12 1/2-inch baking pan with canola oil, dust with flour, and tap to remove excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture.

Batter in pan

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form.

Adding crumbs

 

Sprinkle crumbs over batter.

Transfer pan to oven, and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more.

Cooling

Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool.

Dusting

Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Using a serrated knife or bench scraper, cut into 3-inch squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Slice

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, everywhere! What’s a girl to do?

There’s only so much that will fit into the freezer!

Ice Cream … done …

Cake! Yes, a nice cake would be great! I looked through my cookbooks trying to find great rhubarb recipes and came across this one from Martha Stewart Cakes.

Company coming, a little showing off in the cake department would be fun.

You know, for me, the hardest thing about moving to Maine is missing my GIRLS! I am making friends here. A couple of very dear, couldn’t live without friends, but they were the Dear One’s friends first … not that that makes a tinker’s damn bit of difference at this point, but it’s all still so new and shiny …

And sometimes … I wanna go to Txikito! I wanna sit around and watch Project Runway! I wanna go to Trader Joe’s, Fariway, Whole Foods! I wanna have lunch! Go shoe shopping! RESTAURANT WEEK! Walk to the store! Chinese food at midnight! I miss my parents and my siblings (I’m a girl who has never lived more than 8 or 9 miles away from her ENTIRE family … ever!)!

Those things ain’t gonna happen in Bar Harbor, so we gather for dinner … and we laugh and we feast and we laugh and we drink and we laugh … truthfully, it’s all DAMN good and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for anything.

If only I could have my old girls and my new girls (and boys) and my family in one place, like would be … not gonna say it!

TOPPING

  • 4 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • Coarse salt

CAKE

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for buttering pan
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut on a very sharp diagonal about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 t finely grated orange zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C sour cream

NOTE: I doubled the amount of crumb topping. The amounts above are for the original recipe.

NOTE NOTE: I didn’t cut this on a sharp diagonal. I cut it in 1/2 inch chunks and it was WAY too much rhubarb!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rhubarb

 

Make the topping: Stir together butter, flour, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until moist and crumbly. Set aside.

Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep). Dot with 4 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces). Toss rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar; let stand for 2 minutes. Toss again, and spread in pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Beat remaining stick butter and cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in zest and juice. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, until smooth. Spread evenly over rhubarb.

Crumble topping evenly over batter.

Out of oven

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.

NOTE: I don’t know if it was me or the pan was too small or I over filled it, but this over flowed all over the oven. Next time less rhubarb and maybe not all the batter!

NOTE: Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. The rhubarb will be too hot to handle safely right after baking. But if the cake sits much longer, it may stick.

Invreted

 

Mussels in White Wine and Garlic

Ready

“It’s a beautiful day,” says he.

“I know!” I respond, “FINALLY!”

“We really should get out and about.”

“Oh, yes, please! That would be great.”

It’s one of the first truly nice days of spring. The sun is shining, there’s a light breeze, it’s warm(ish). I want to get out and feel the sun on my face. A nice walk in Acadia National Park. Oh, Sand Beach, I haven’t been there yet. My head was filled with places on Mount Desert Island I wanted to explore.

The Dear One, however, had other ideas in mind.

See, there’s a tree. A tree he cut down. A tree destined to be cut and split and stacked and dried for the wood stove for the winter.

THE WINTER? Seriously, Dude? It’s April! I’ve barely had time to recuperate from this past winter much less think about NEXT winter.

Well, you see, he explains, it has to be cut and split and stacked now, and covered in plastic so that it dries out to be ready for next winter.

Now, back to that tree … it’s down a ‘slight’ hill, on the opposite side of the house from where it needs to be stacked, and looked MUCH smaller standing upright.

“Okay, I’ll take the big part of the trunk. You take the branches. Whatever is too small to cut for the wood stove, throw on the wood pile.”

This is when I realized that the man of my dreams is completely OFF.HIS.ROCKER! Has he not seen these delicate, little hands? Has he not seen me struggle to pick up heavy grocery bags? Most importantly, has he NOT SEEN MY TIARA!? A princess, I tell you! A City princess, at that, carrying a tree? Stacking wood? Surely you jest.

Jesting he was not. But I princessed up, rolled up my sleeves and heave ho’d. I threw branches and stems on the burn pile (wait, ce qui es une BURN PILE … oh, I am so new to this planet!), carried big branches up to some God awful contraption so it could be cut into logs, and stacked up wood that Mr. Lumberjack split.

I smelled. I dropped a birch branch on my toe. I dropped a birch log on my ankle. I was covered in sawdust and dirt and YUCK. Every single inch of my body hurt … except, perhaps, a 1/4″ spot on my left ear.

AND I WAS STARVING. I needed a HOT shower and a hot, quickly made dinner.

I sent Simon Legree the Dear One off to the market to pick up dinner … mussels, garlic, parsley … while I stood in a scalding hot shower trying to wash away the memory of the day.

In the time it took to boil a pot of water, shallots were sliced, garlic was minced, parsley was chopped. When the pasta was dropped into boiling water, the shallots, garlic and white wine simmer, after about 5 minutes the mussels were added, another short 5 minutes, added some parsley and butter. Everything done at the same time. 15 minutes from start to finish.

A few slices of toasted Italian bread, glasses of fabulous red wine, and I was a happy, though still sore, camper.

It doesn’t really get easier than this dish. Next time I may add some arugula in, or perhaps halved grape tomatoes, the possibilities are endless.

  • 2 C dry white wine
  • 4 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 pounds live mussels
  • 1/3 C mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chervil, or basil, chopped
  • 6 T butter, cut into pieces

Rinse and scrub mussels under cold running water. Using your fingers or a paring knife, remove beards (strings that hang from the mussels’ shells), and discard.

In a large stockpot set over medium heat, combine wine, shallots, garlic, and salt. Simmer 5 minutes. Add mussels. Cover, and increase heat to high. Cook until all mussels are open, about 5 minutes. Stir in herbs and butter. Remove from heat. Divide mussels and broth among four bowls. Serve immediately.

NOTE: We were STARVING so I threw this over pasta. If you serve the mussels without pasta toast some bread, rub it with garlic for dipping.