This year, as they have for the past few, Easter and Passover overlapped. I actually grew up celebrating Easter more than Passover; my Dad always took me through the Exodus story, but never got around to staging a full-on seder – egg hunt and chocolate bunnies, however, were an annual occurrence. So, I decided to continue my Easter tradition, and to look back to my Italian roots to do so. I made a classic Neapolitan Easter dish – a ricotta pie called a pastiera – and then decided to give a nod to Passover as well by throwing together a matzo kugel. And what did I do with all this food? Brunch, of course!
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Over Presidents’ Day weekend, I took a trip to Durham, North Carolina for an ad hoc reunion with my freshman year roommates (two of whom are currently grad students at Duke). It was a wonderful weekend, aside from two hitches: (1) I got totally screwed by Delta on my return flight, and (2) Durham’s famous chicken & waffles joint was utterly packed all weekend and I missed out on sweet-savory goodness. By the end of the weekend I was craving chicken & waffles so badly that when I got home I decided, like a good little Brooklynite, to DIY.
Well, the Frankenstorm is raging outside; in an effort to stave off cabin fever (since I’m now officially stuck home tomorrow as well), I decided to take on some projects. I replaced the buttons on the vintage cape I bought last month. And I made strudel. And I cleaned my house. Thankfully, I made strudel before I cleaned – this is not an un-messy baking project.
So, I am officially on a baking kick. Cookbook Archaeology is not on its way to becoming baking blog…but there will be a lot of flour flying in the next months. Baking fits well in my life right now; I make delicious things Sunday and bring them into work Monday. And sweets spread cheer on what is usually the most daunting day of the week. Apparently I’m also on a James Beard kick, because this delicious cheer – a persimmon quick bread – is from his 1973 Beard on Bread.
Sometimes I think I am half hobbit. I’m short and stocky and cheery and (to overshare) I have slightly hairy feet. My dad first read The Hobbit to me when I was about 5, and I re-read it on my own soon after; it was one of my first real chapter books. During the first chapter when the dwarves descend on Bilbo and eat everything in his pantry, the first thing consumed is seed cake; I always wondered what this tasted like (yes, even at age 5), and assumed it was poppy-seed based. So, when I found a recipe for a traditional English seed cake in my latest cookbook acquisition (a 1940s collection of old English bread and cake recipes), I immediately had to satisfy my curiosity.
I woke up at 5:30 AM yesterday morning for some ungodly reason. As I lay in bed pondering what to do about this, I thought, bakers get up before this hour every day – so why not bake? My younger stepsisters were heading to camp around noon, so I made a Monkey Bubble Bread from my non-vintage Achilles heel cookbook – Baked Explorations.
It’s a lazy Sunday here at Cookbook Archaeology, so I’m sharing a fast, tasty brunch and introducing a new book. The new book is The Embassy Cookbook, from 1966 – a collection of menus provided by about fifty countries’ Washington, D.C. embassies. I’ve been on a produce binge, so I seized on New Zealand’s simple, lovely broiled tomato recipe and paired it with some scrambled eggs and toast.