rosemary biscuits + blood orange shortcakes

breakfast, desserts, sweet, vegetarian, winterRachel SandersComment

So my best laid plan to get these biscuits + shortcakes to you for Valentine's Day was a bust. I had grand visions of breakfast in bed with coffee and artfully plated shortcakes for my own Sunday celebration, but in reality, I nuked a tortilla and wrapped it around some avocado slices and then went skiing with Richard. Ha! Oh well.

I think sometimes there's a little too much pressure to do something grand for Valentine's Day. And it's not really worth it to make everything perfect and photogenic and complicated if it keeps you from being relaxed and having fun and spending quality time with your significant other/best friend/dog/chickens/self. Plus, I like breakfast-in-bed stuff all of the time, not just on Valentine's Day!

So I'm here to say that I hope you had a lovely and wonderful Sunday holiday morning, no matter what you ended up doing, and offer you a fabulous little breakfast idea for the next time you want to express "hey, I like you!" sentiments to someone important in your life. Especially if that someone is yourself.


I have made these biscuits so many times that the cookbook containing the recipe falls open to the biscuit page each time I take it out of the bookshelf. They are Heidi Swanson's biscuits, and they are amazing. We mix up the flour proportions and types sometimes, but we're pretty committed to putting yogurt in our biscuits at this point.

Here's the low-down on choosing your yogurt for this recipe: a) tangier is better, in our minds, because it makes a more flavorful biscuit, b) Greek yogurt makes for taller, more layered biscuits, while a more liquid yogurt means flatter, but still very tender biscuits, and c) any (plain) yogurt you have on hand is perfect for this recipe, because it will make for delicious biscuits no matter their height.

I used a fairly liquid, goat's milk yogurt for the biscuits pictured here. You don't have to use goat's milk yogurt (it's just something we keep around most of the time), but I think a thinner biscuit is better for shortcake purposes, since you get a higher ratio of cream and fruit to biscuit.

In case you are wondering, no, I have never tried making these with a non-dairy yogurt. They could be great! They could be awful! Who can say! I'll let you experiment with this.

Makes 10-12 biscuits/shortcakes

You should feel free to experiment with these biscuits to take them further toward sweet or savory. You can brush them with a little cream or milk and sprinkle them with Turbinado sugar to give them a sweet, crunchy top. You can also change the herbs depending on how you plan to serve the biscuits, or omit them altogether.

For the biscuits:

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed for dusting
3 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt)
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or more or less, depending on how much you like rosemary
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into tiny cubes
1 1/3 cups yogurt (again, Greek for higher, more layered biscuits; more liquid for shorter, tender biscuits)

Preheat the oven to 450˚F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the flours, salt, baking powder, and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse 2-3 times to mix. Sprinkle the cubes of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse 15-20 times (or more) until the mixture resembles (in Heidi's words) "tiny pebbles on a sandy beach."

Add the yogurt and pulse a few more times until just incorporated. Avoid over-mixing, as this will toughen the biscuits.

Gather the dough into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press the dough together, kneading 2-3 times if necessary, and shape it into an inch-thick square. Cut in half and place one half on top of the other. Flatten with your hands or with a rolling pin into another inch-thick square, cut in half, and stack again. Repeat each step one more time, then press the dough into a 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut the dough into 10-12 equally sized biscuits.

Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet, leaving 1/2-inch of space between each biscuit. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply golden and the biscuits are cooked through.

Scroll down for notes on making/plating the shortcakes.

Serves 2

Split the biscuits and place each bottom on a plate. Spoon the yogurt cream evenly over the two biscuit bottoms. Arrange the blood orange slices over the cream, and drizzle with honey. Pick some rosemary leaves from the springs and tuck in among the orange slices. Angle the biscuit tops over the shortcakes so that much of the fruit and yogurt is visible. Serve immediately and tuck in! 

2 rosemary biscuits
Yogurt cream (enough to serve 2 = 1/4 cup cream whipped with 1/4 cup yogurt and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla)
2-3 blood oranges, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1-2 rosemary sprigs

ruined cake parfaits

breakfast, desserts, sweet, vegetarian, winterRachel SandersComment

Good grief, did this holiday season kick anyone else in the pants? I realize we're more than halfway into January (how did that even happen?!) and have gotten back into the swing of reality, but all I really want to do is have a solid lie-down and binge watch The Great British Baking Show in my pajamas.

I suppose our holiday break got off to a bad start when our car broke down (at 1:30am, on a dirt/mountain road, in a storm), and was punctuated by various unforeseen events (including more car trouble) through the New Year. I mean, really, everything was okay in the grand scheme of things (and the car trouble meant we were able to have more time with family), but it felt like each day something made us say, "WHOA, okay... guess we're dealing with this, now." We're both still reeling a bit.

And then last week, on a day when I really needed things to go right, I baked a cake.

And it SUCKED.

It stuck to the pan, the top came out strangely tough while the inside was quite delicate and almost under-baked, it didn't rise the way I expected... blah. It has been a while since I've adapted a cake recipe, and I had forgotten how devastating it can feel to put a lot of time and effort and care into making a cake and have it not turn out the way you want. Granted, I did mess around with the recipe quite a bit, but in a way that I honestly thought would turn out okay, if not extremely well. That probably sounds arrogant, but CLEARLY I WAS WRONG ANYWAY.


So, when we bake a cake and it turns out wrong, what do we do? Do we cry (maybe), do we eat a lot of the part that was stuck to the pan (probably), or do we find a way to remedy the situation (um, sure?)?

Some ways have already been devised to rescue weird cakes (remember cakepops?), but usually when I am making a cake, it is because it is a celebration or special event of some kind, and I want to make something a little more special or fancy. It also usually means that I am cooking other things, and I don't have the time or wherewithal or emotional capacity to deal with stuff like tempering chocolate and finding skewers or popsicle sticks.

No time like the present to break out a good old parfait.

A parfait is, in its most elemental form, layers of cake or cookies, whipped cream, and fruit. Sometimes the cream has other things going on with it, like mascarpone or creme fraîche whipped in (or maybe a wee bit of booze). I personally like my whipped cream tempered with yogurt in a 1:1 ratio. It is just rich enough for dessert, but still feels quite light and has a pleasantly subtle tang; you could serve it for breakfast and nobody would say boo.

So next time you plan to make a cake, on the off-chance it decides to be temperamental, grab a pint of cream, a container of yogurt, and some fruit just in case you need to perform some parfait magic, and no one will EVER know that your cake was a near-disaster. Unless, of course, you write a blog post about it later.

(Also, Richard and I agree that we like this so much that we'd make it again with a not-ugly cake, too! Though I may save at least the next good cake for something else, if only for my ego's sake.)

ruined cake parfaits

serves 6

You can scale this recipe up or down quite easily, depending on the number of people you want to serve; just keep the 1:1 cream to yogurt ratio.

I was testing out a recipe for a sesame cake when I made these parfaits, and decided to use cara-cara oranges and lime zest to go with the sesame flavor. The combination was out-of-this-world good, and I'll be sure to share the recipe for the sesame cake once I get it dialed. Serve this cream with any cake you like, and with any fruit you like, but here's a quick thought regarding chocolate cake - I'd actually replace the yogurt in the cream with mascarpone, as I think it would taste better to have something slightly richer and less tangy to go with the chocolate.

1 cup full or low fat plain yogurt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2-3 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

1 cake, sliced or broken into bite-sized pieces
fresh fruit, cut into slices or chunks (reserve a few pieces for garnish)
lime/citrus zest (optional)

Whisk together the yogurt and cream in a large bowl. If the yogurt and cream are not straight-out-of-the-fridge cold, place the bowl into the fridge for 15-20 minutes to chill (it won't whip properly if it is not cold). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a hand whisk, beat the yogurt/cream until soft peaks form. Continue beating for a few more seconds to stiffen the mixture, but keep it somewhat billowy and soft (it will look prettier and be easier to layer).

Layer the cake, cream, and fruit in individual glass jars or wine glasses, beginning with the cake and ending with the cream. Garnish each parfait with a piece of fruit and some fresh citrus zest, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve

tin roof sundae with brown sugar ice cream

autumn, desserts, sweet, vegetarian, winterFieldandForest8 Comments

This recipe is for my momma, who loves a good Tin Roof sundae! It was (and probably still is) her dessert of choice at one of the restaurants she and my dad would (and probably still do) frequent for celebratory purposes. I think it was the first restaurant I visited as a child where I noticed things like the white tablecloths and starched napkins and fancy silverware, and ate things like fried mushrooms and chicken cooked three-ways and salads with drizzles of truffle oil.

In all honesty, I probably ate only one of the three-ways in which the chicken was cooked and hid the salad leaves in the folds of my napkin. I was not an adventurous lady when I was ten years old.

But I ate a lot of fried mushrooms and Tin Roof sundaes because both items were, according to my mom, non-negotiable facets of dinners at this particular restaurant (and what ten-year-old doesn't love ice cream and things that are fried?). If I remember correctly, the chef once came out to our table during our dinner and brought my mom the recipe for the fried mushrooms because SHE LOVED THEM SO MUCH. She and my dad have since made them at home to many rounds of applause from those lucky enough to be in the mushroom-eating vicinity. But, as she never did get their recipe for the sundae, this recipe approximates that particular dessert quite well, if not better (because brown sugar ice cream!!).

If you are familiar with the basic elements of a Tin Roof Sundae (which specifically involve peanuts), you are probably thinking, "What the heck are those almonds doing there?" They are there because my mom loves the chocolate/almond combo, but you can put peanuts on your sundae, yes you can! You can do whatever you want!

That being said, you absolutely MUST put hot fudge in the bottom of the glass before you put in the ice cream. This is both an insurance policy against anyone sharing your sundae who might decide to take more than their fair share of fudge off of the top, and also a reward for eating a ton of ice cream! Nothing says "Hey, we made it!" like a glass-bottom full of hot fudge.

And the fudge on the saucer? Yeah, I really don't know why it is there, but I like it when ice cream parlors put a giant puddle of sauce underneath my ice cream glass, so why not do it at home? If you're going to have a sundae, have a freaking SUNDAE.

Brown Sugar Ice Cream (makes 1 quart)
Adapted from Prune, by Gabrielle Hamilton

6 egg yolks
3/4 cup brown sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped, OR 1 tablespoon good-quality vanilla extract

Beat yolks with 1/2 cup of the brown sugar in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment OR by hand with a whisk until light in color, ribbony, and doubled in volume.

In a heavy-bottomed pot, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, milk, cream, and vanilla bean or extract, and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.

With the mixer on (or while whisking continually), slowly pour the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture in a steady stream to temper the eggs.

Pour the egg-yolk milk mixture (henceforth known as custard) back into the pot and cook over medium heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber or wooden spatula to prevent scorching/curdling (don't use a whisk). Bring to 180˚F, or cook until the custard coats the spatula. (I usually test my custard with a wooden spoon by coating the back and dragging my finger through the custard. If it leaves a clean-ish stripe of spoon that doesn't get quickly filled in by the custard, it is done.)

Remove from heat and strain into a bowl or container with a lid. Let cool, or speed the process by placing the bowl/container into an ice bath and mixing the custard to bring its temperature down. Cover, and place in the refrigerator to thoroughly chill (at least 2 hours, or overnight). Spin in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Hot Fudge Sauce
Adapted from Bi-Rite Creamery
A few quick notes: using a dark cocoa gives hot fudge sauce its signature color! While Dutch-processed works well for this purpose, the flavor will be richer and more chocolatey with a naturally dark (less-processed) cocoa. I know how we all feel about sifting, but do sift the cocoa powder, or you'll get little nuggets of unsweetened chalkiness in your hot fudge sauce. The corn syrup business is there because it is an invert-sugar (meaning not crystallized), which helps give the sauce a glossy appearance and smooth, fudgey texture.

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (such as Valrhona) or Dutch-processed cocoa powder, measured, then sifted
1/4 cup corn syrup, glucose, or tapioca syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (about 60% cacao), finely chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium non-reactive saucepan, stir together the cream, sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup, and salt. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, cooking just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in both chocolates and the vanilla until the chocolate is melted and the sauce is completely smooth. Use a spatula to smooth any lumps by pressing and smearing them against the bottom of the pan.

Serve immediately, or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 month. Rewarm over low heat on the stove, or in the microwave at half-power for 30 seconds to 1 minute (it only takes a few seconds for the sauce to boil when on high power).

Salt and Sugar Almonds

1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds, and toss to coat with the butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the almonds begin to color and turn golden brown (and smell reeeeeaaally good). You may remove the almonds from the heat at this point, or cook them for a few more minutes if you prefer a deeper color and nuttier flavor.

Transfer the almonds to a bowl or plate and let cool for a few minutes (this keeps the warm butter from melting the salt and sugar, since I like the look of sugar granules on the nuts). Sprinkle the almonds with the salt and sugar and toss to evenly coat. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons - 1/4 cup powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you'd like your whipped cream)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla

Whisk together the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Using a balloon whisk (or the attachment of your mixer), beat the cream at least until soft peaks form, and up until firm peaks form (depending on how stiff you like your whipped cream on your sundae). Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, rewhipping if necessary.

To assemble your sundaes:

Step 1: Chill your sundae glasses, warm your hot fudge sauce, and assemble your loved ones/friends/deserving acquaintances!

Step 2: Place a good dollop of hot fudge sauce in the bottom of each sundae glass, and top with a couple of generous scoops of ice cream. Drizzle more hot fudge over the ice cream, making sure to get some in the nooks and crannies between the ice cream scoops. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a generous sprinkle of almonds. Place on plates coated with even more fudge sauce and almonds. Enjoy every moment of your amazing sundae!

Step 3 (optional): Nap.

a late september hike + a cake

autumn, desserts, vegetarianFieldandForestComment

Granted I haven't lived in Utah for very long, but I feel confident in saying that each year there is a day, one day, where the weather makes a drastic and complete shift from summer to fall.  Saturday was that day, where we had thunderstorms and constant rain and fog (which made me both pine for the northern California coast and feel very at home here), and I found myself in the midst of it all, hiking alone across a mountain.  The mist which crept across the rocks and down the slope was dramatic and terribly beautiful, the kind of beauty that tightens my chest and makes me aware of how brief and small my presence is on this planet.  I took as many pictures as I could before my hands turned to ice, then drove down the canyon with Agnes Obel through the rain on a road tucked away in clouds.

Feeling that kind of insignificance has positive effects; it makes me subconsciously more deliberate and thoughtful in my decisions and more appreciative of the things I am fortunate to have in my life.  I felt so lucky to have seen the aspens changing color (something I love to see that we missed last year while traveling), and very happy to then go home and put on a pair of fuzzy socks and sit and drink tea on the futon while listening to the thunder outside.

And then I made a cake, because why not?

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
adapted from An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler

8 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups olive oil (I used extra-virgin)
4 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
zest of one lemon, preferably organic
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
powdered sugar, for garnish (optional)
mascarpone or ricotta cheese, for serving (optional)
sweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional)
honey, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

Grease a bundt pan with butter, then with flour, tapping out excess.  Beat the eggs for 30 seconds.  Slowly add the sugar and beat on medium speed until mixture is quite foamy and pale, about 3 minutes.   With motor on slowly drizzle in olive oil, then mix in the rosemary and lemon zest.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat just until combined and no lumps.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 45-50 minutes in centre of oven.  Cake should be done when toothpick inserted comes out clean and cake should look golden and spring back when touched.

Let cool in pan for 5 minutes then tip out onto cooking rack.  Dust with icing sugar and eat as is, or with mascarpone cheese or sweetened whipped cream. Makes a rather large cake, enough for 10 servings, at least.