Catherine Newman's Donut Cake

The recipe promised that if I made this cake, my house would smell like donuts. 

That was reason enough. 

So I made the cake. I beat the butter and sugar together, I was careful. I even sifted the flour. I put the cake in the oven. 

And I waited for my house to smell like donuts. 

It didn't. 

I wondered if it was because my nose had somehow gotten accustomed to the smell, so I stepped outside and crumpled sage and rosemary between my fingers, and smelled it, to try and freshen things up. And I came back inside, and for the briefest hint of a second, I could smell the donut smell-- like yeast and sugary glaze, which quickly faded into the background scent of my house and the eggs my father made for breakfast. 


Nothing is ever quite the way you think it will be. I don't know what I've expected for this summer, but it is different than I thought it would be. I don't know if I'm disappointed exactly, no disappointment can ever quite match the sadness of your house not smelling like donuts when it's supposed to, but there's a vague sense of something missing right now. And I'm not quite sure what it is. 

I wasn't quite sure what this cake would be like. 
It ends up that this is a very, very simple cake. 
A plain cake. There is no frosting, no extraneous steps. Just. Cake. It does not have the consistency of a donut. It does not waft donut smells, it's very name promises to be something that it's not. 

But you know what?

This cake is about as close to perfection as a truly simple cake can be. 

I think there is a moral or story here. 

I think I need to learn it good. 


Catharine Newman's Donut Cake

via TheWednesdayChef.com
Makes one 9-inch cake
Darling, I am not kidding. This cake really is just beautiful. It would be especially lovely with some blueberries or strawberries, either mixed into the batter or served with a tall glass of cold whole milk or whipped cream. 
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan, and set it aside.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition, then add in the vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Set aside.
3. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with flour. Make sure each addition is incorporated before adding the next, but don't over-beat it at the end. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and smooth the top.
4. Bake until the top is puffed and golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a rack before serving warm or room temperature.

Spicy Tomato-Arugula Angel Hair

(things are not always pretty in my kitchen)

You know what you do when there is nothing to eat and your mom won't take you out to lunch even though you asked really nicely four times?

You make this pasta.


It is so simple.
It is almost as good as that cheese burger you were craving.
It is light, but filling.
It is delicious and tangy and spicy and everything that pasta should be, but usually isn't.
I love love love it.

(So blissful and bodacious and beautiful.)

This recipe came from this book called The New American Table by Marcus Samuelsson. It has exceeeedingly beautiful pictures. However, with this book it was not love at first sight.
I believe in love at first sight.
My parents fell in love like that.
I am that way with cookbooks. And when I fall, I fall hard (see Dorie Greenspan.) But with this book...Things were...complicated. Marcus Samuelsson, who is a chef at somewhere important & prestigious, LOVES specialty ingredients, things like japanese spices and liquors only made in the Carribean. And much as I love grocery shopping and spending my mother's money, I just couldn't get enthused about buying so many random ingredients.
But this recipe caught my eye because of its beautiful clarity and gorgeous simplicity.

I am in love. Marcus and I on the road to wedded bliss because of this pasta.

I am not even kidding.
(too much cheese)

Spicy Tomato-Arugula Angel Hair
from The New American Table by Marcus Samuelson

2 yellow tomatoes, diced
3 red tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 pound dried angel hair pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
One 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped arugula
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 Anaheim chiles, seeds and ribs removed, chopped. NB: I used serrano peppers instead.
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place the yellow tomatoes and red tomatoes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and let sit for 40 minutes. Or not, if you're short on time.

2. Bring 4 cups salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 3-4 minutes. Please read the package. Strain and rinse. Set aside.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and saute until the shallots are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.

4. Toss the sauce with the pasta, the salted tomatoes, the arugula, pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes and chiles (or peppers or whatever) and heat until warmed through. Season with salt and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Roasted Tomatilla Salsa

Chip with roasted tomatilla salsa:
Seconds later:

There is something extremely appealing about green salsa: Its light, pretty color. Its delicious flavor. Its all around divine goodness.
These are the things that make tomatilla salsa great. Especially if it has been roasted.
Guero's Taco Bar here in Austin, has a killer tomatilla salsa. Their salsa was my inspiration. When I asked the waiter at Guero's what went into the sauce he said, "Tomatillas, limes and chiles." Except he said it in a very chill, cool Austin-hipster-waiter way.
I don't really know anything about salsa, or non-baking-related-cooking in general, so I went with a Gourmet recipe.
This recipe is a little involved, there's lots of onion and garlic and serranos and other lovely edibe things.
Also, the recipe didn't call for limes, but I added lime juice anyway, because I'm very adventurous.

Roasted Tomatilla Salsa
Adapted (barely) from Gourmet Today

2-3 serrano chiles
4 garlic cloves, left unpeeled
2 pounds fresh tomatillos, husked and rinsed under warm water OR 3 cups canned tomatillos, drained
3/4 fresh cilanto springs
2 medium onions*
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Several generouse squeezes of lime juice

Preheat oven to 500 F.** Put chiles, garlic, and fresh tomatillos, if using, on large pan/cookie sheet/ tray, cook for about 10 minutes.
Peel garlic. Discard stem of chiles. Puree tomatillos, garlic, and chiles with remaining ingredients, in 2 batches if necessary, in a blender until almost smooth.

*2 onions simply seemed like too much, especially since they were uncooked. Use 2 onions if you aren't onion averse.
** The original recipe suggested using a broiler. By all means use one if you have one. According to Gourmet Today, "Broil two inches from heat, turning once or twice, until softened and charred, about 8 minutes.