strawberry rhubarb + ginger galette

The first colors of the season have started to find their way to the farmers market. Greens and yellows mostly, but last Saturday, a tinge of red caught the corner of my eye. Following the red back to its source, I spotted a little table of rhubarb, hidden between a gathering of basil plants and a display of forsythia bouquets. The rhubarb was unmarked, just a humble pile of long, green stalks flecked with red at their roots. Amid a sea of people and activity, it stood untouched and seemingly unnoticed. I paused at the edge of the table, feeling as though I had found an undiscovered gem and excited at the prospect of what a bundle of these tart, crisp stalks would become.

It didn’t take long to decide what I would make, as strawberry rhubarb pie has always been one of my favorite Springtime desserts. The unassuming nature of this rhubarb, though, called for something a little more free form and less exacting than pie. A simple, rustic galette came to mind — the flavors of pie without the perfection.

I contemplated the filling as I put together the pastry dough — adding a handful of cornmeal for texture. I envisioned the tart sweetness of the strawberries and rhubarb, and found my imagination craving some brightness and heat. The brightness was easy — some lemon juice and zest would definitely do the trick — but adding heat without overshadowing such simple flavors had me a bit stumped. I rummaged through my pantry, exploring my collection of spices, but nothing seemed right. It wasn’t until a while later, hunched in front of my fridge, that I discovered a leftover nub of ginger root from a previous night’s dinner. I knew the second I spotted it — the sweet warmth of ginger made perfect sense.

Moments later a buttery, sweet aroma filled my apartment as I pulled a beautiful, bubbling galette from my oven. The strawberries and rhubarb had softened, creating a thick  jewel-red jam that peered from the center of a golden crust. A far cry from their unassuming pile on an unmarked table, but exactly where they belonged.

strawberry rhubarb + ginger galette

This galette combines the classic sweet and tart combination of strawberries and rhubarb, with a touch of fresh ginger root for a subtle, but delicious heat. A buttery cornmeal pie crust adds texture and richness. Simple, bright flavors and no fuss — just how a Spring dessert should be.


cornmeal pastry dough

2 cups sliced strawberries

3 stalks of rhubarb, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces [depending on size, should yield about 1 1/2 cups]

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root [this yields a very subtle warmth — if you’re looking for a more assertive heat, add more]

1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg, beaten

vanilla ice cream, for serving


First, prepare the cornmeal pastry dough

. While the dough chills, prepare the filling:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the sliced strawberries and chopped rhubarb. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, ginger, sugar, flour, and salt. Mix to combine well. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes. 

Once pastry dough has chilled, on a floured surface, roll out into a large circle [about 15-inches in diameter]. Roll the dough onto your rolling pin and unroll onto a parchment or Silpat-lined large baking sheet. Add the filling to the center of the dough, leaving a 3-inch border. Working around the circle, carefully fold the border of the dough up over the edges of the filling, making sure to seal everything in, but leaving the majority of the filling exposed. 

Using a pastry brush, brush the exposed border of dough with the beaten egg. Dot the exposed filling with the pieces of butter. Transfer to the oven and bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


For the cornmeal pastry dough:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup ice water

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Add the butter, and using your hands, work it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal [the butter pieces should be able the size of peas]. Add the water and mix until the dough just comes together. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.

shortbread cookies, two ways

shortbread cookies, two ways

These cookies both start with the same shortbread base — a blank canvas for vibrant, creative flavors. One version is warm, spicy, and sweet, almost like a buttery graham cracker with a peppery bite, covered in looping drizzles of melted chocolate. The other is flecked with orange zest, both throughout the dough and its icing, adding an acidic brightness in contrast to the rich, buttery cookie. Initially, I was planning on making both, and sharing whichever one I preferred. But, after tasting them, I really can’t say which I like more. So, here you have it: shortbread cookies, two ways.


for the shortbread base: 

2 cups all purpose flour

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon coarse salt


for the spiced shortbread with chocolate drizzle:

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper [I find this amount to give a nice kick without being overpowering. If you are really sensitive to heat though, you may want to use a bit less].

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

coarse salt, to taste


for the iced orange shortbread:

1 1/4 teaspoons orange zest

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice


First, make the plain shortbread dough: sift [or whisk] the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high for about 2-3 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar. Increase the mixer’s speed to medium high and beat, scraping down the sides as needed, until mixture is pale in color, about 3-4 additional minutes. Lower the mixer’s speed to low, and gradually add flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Remove dough from bowl and divide it into two equal portions.

To make the spiced shortbread dough: add one portion of the dough back to the mixer and sprinkle in cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Mix on low until incorporated. Remove dough from bowl and roll into a fat log. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. [it will be easier to roll into a skinnier log once the dough is chilled]

To make the orange shortbread dough: add one portion of dough to the mixer and sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of the orange zest. Mix on low until incorporated. Remove dough from bowl and roll into a fat log. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. [it will be easier to roll into a skinnier log once the dough is chilled]

*Make sure to clean the mixer bowl in between making the two versions!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once chilled, remove the logs of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and roll them both until they are about 1 1/2 – 2-inches in diameter. Slice into 1/4-inch medallions and place on a large, parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure to leave a little bit of space around each cookie.

Bake, on the center rack, until cookies are lightly golden brown around the edges, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

While cookies are cooling, make the glazes. 

To make the chocolate glaze: combine both kinds of chocolate chips in a small bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals [stirring in between each interval], being careful not to burn. [If you prefer, you can also use a double boiler]. Mix until completely melted and smooth. 

To make orange glaze: Add sugar, heavy cream, orange juice, and orange zest to a small bowl. Whisk until completely combined and smooth. 

Next, decorate the cookies. Once they have completely cooled, drizzle the melted chocolate over the spiced shortbread cookies, and sprinkle with salt [I actually used a cinnamon, chipotle salt that I happened to have on hand, which was delicious — you could even make your own mixture of cinnamon, cayenne, and salt for garnish — don’t be afraid to experiment!] Dip the top of the orange shortbread cookies in the orange glaze and allow excess to drip off. Allow all cookies to sit at room temperature until the chocolate and glaze is hardened, then transfer to an airtight container to store. [You can refrigerate the cookies to speed the drying process, but they do not need to be stored in the refrigerator].



Makes about 24 cookies [12 of each flavor]

olive oil citrus cake

It was Saturday – the beginning of the weekend, but the end of vacation. The streets were lined with discarded, naked Christmas trees, serving as an unwelcome reminder of holidays past. We walked towards home, numb fingers and rosy cheeks, trying to focus less on what was fast approaching, and more on the present moment. Dreaming of something to lift our spirits, my mind settled on cake – cake with bright, citrus flavors to oppose such gray feelings. I made a promise to myself to move slowly, and to relish in the joy of doing something that I love. Yet, I found it hard to shake the gloom that had rooted itself within me.

And so I found myself in a pattern that I often do in the beginning of a new year. The cheer of celebration and anticipation of untapped opportunities that define the final days of December and first days of January, fade into a less ambitious reality. Goals and dreams that seemed so palpable, suddenly seem distant and unattainable. Confidence and drive slam against a wall of self doubt and fear.

I pour my carefully prepared batter into a springform pan, open the oven, and lift. The spring on my pan releases, and in a cliched metaphor for my slipping ambition, I watch in shock as the batter flows, without restraint, from my hands. Batter covers the stove, spreading almost greedily to the floor – as to say, yup, you failed. The promise of a cake, gone – an opportunity, missed; a goal, unmet – and with it my confidence. The symbolism was staring me in the face.

With a nod of recognition, I picked myself up and started again. I made that cake. I made two cakes, actually. And, with those two triumphs born from one failure, I taught myself a timely lesson amidst a cloud of self doubt. Failure hurts – it’s merciless and cold. But, I’m stronger – we’re all stronger. And, if we stare that failure in the face and push on, we’ll have a greater success to show for it. 

Here’s to a year of letting my hurt confidence drive my determination. I hope you’ll join me.

Olive Oil Citrus Cake

This cake recipe comes from Maialino Restaurant in New York City. I made a few slight changes, and added a glaze and candied citrus slices, which I found even further brightened the herbaceous flavors of the olive oil in the cake. If you’ve never tried olive oil cake before, I highly recommend that you give it a try. Its laden with moisture – almost similar in texture to a bread pudding – and deep flavor. 

for the glaze:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 vanilla bean [split lengthwise and scrape out the seeds]

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. The glaze should be runny, but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You can adjust the thickness by adding additional orange juice or confectioner’s sugar, if needed.


for the candied citrus:

recipe from Food & Wine 

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

1 orange [or lemon, or grapefruit], sliced crosswise very thinly [about 1/8-inch] 

In a medium sauté pan, combine cup sugar and cup water and bring to a boil. Add the orange slices, in a single layer [the edges of the slices can be slightly overlapping, but you want them mostly in a single layer – if your pan is too small, just split into batches, adding 1 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar for each batch]. Simmer over medium heat, flipping slices occasionally, until mixture starts to appear syrupy and slices are translucent [about 20 minutes]. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture reaches a thick syrup [about 10 additional minutes]. Carefully remove slices from pan [they should still hold together, but will be very delicate], and transfer to a wire rack to cool. I found that my syrup was too reduced at this point to save, but if yours isn’t, I’m sure it would be lovely in a cocktail. [note: I made one batch of candied orange and one of lemon, and had plenty slices left over after garnishing two cakes].

for the cake:

recipe slightly adapted from Maialino Restaurant

2 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour [cake flour will result in a slightly more delicate cake, which I like with the moisture-rich texture of olive oil cake]

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

3 large eggs

1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup Grand Marnier

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep, and dust with flour. [If your cake pan is less the 2 inches deep, divide the batter between 2 pans – I ended up dividing between an 8-inch and a 5-inch pan].

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest, orange juice, and Grand Marnier until fully combined. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan[s] and bake until the cake is golden and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean – this should take about 1 hour for one 9-inch cake. I found my 5-inch cake was finished around 40-45 minutes, and my 8-inch cake closer to 50 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto a rack and allow to cool to room temperature. 

Once cake is cooled, drizzle with glaze and top with candied citrus slices, if desired. Enjoy! 

pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese filling

Let’s make a promise. Let’s stop over thinking things and just eat some cake.

pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese filling

recipe adapted from taste of home

this is a traditional pumpkin bread, made special. every bite is filled with pumpkin and the flavors reminiscent of fall – cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. a layer of cream cheese filling adds an almost cheesecake texture to the middle, while a streusel topping adds a buttery sweetness. this recipe makes 3 small cakes or 3 loafs. Extra cakes/loafs can be frozen and reheated when ready to eat.

for the filling:

2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon milk


beat all ingredients together until fully combined – set aside.


for the streusel:

1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


with your fingers, combine all ingredients until combined and crumbly. set aside.


for the cake and/or loafs:

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree

3 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 cup water

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted in a dry pan

1 heaping cup chopped dates


preheat oven to 350 degrees. butter and flour 3 6″ cake pans [i made 1 6″ cake and 2 loafs]. set aside. 

in a large bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, eggs, oil, and water. mix until fully combined. in a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt. 

gradually add flour mixture to wet mixture and stir until just combined (being careful not to over mix). add toasted, chopped walnuts, and chopped dates. stir to combine. 

fill the 3 small cake pans or 3 loaf pans with half of the pumpkin mixture, splitting it evenly. add the cream cheese filling to the top of the pumpkin mixture, spreading it to cover the top. top the filling with the remaining pumpkin mixture. sprinkle the top of the 3 loafs with the streusel topping. 

bake, in the center of the oven, for 65-70 minutes. allow to cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before inverting the loafs, removing from the pans, and allowing them to cool completely on the wire racks. 

if not eating immediately, tightly wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. [allow to come to room temperature before serving – or warm slightly in the oven].