Last week, I was up in Boston to help host a party with rock-star chef Barbara Lynch and the founders of Fresh beauty, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg. The occasion: To celebrate an article in F& W’s September issue, in which Lynch helped her friends add more flavor to their favorite healthy recipes.
After the party, we headed over to Sportello, one of Barbara's newest restaurants, and the dinner conversation veered to keeping fit. Barbara is on a serious health kick. To keep up her energy (she just finished a new cookbook, Stir, out next month), she’s been obsessively juicing every fruit, vegetable and herb she can get her hands and storing batches in her fridge. Lynch also told me about her new favorite energy bar, Green Vibrance. (Cameron Diaz has been in Boston, filming Wichita with Tom Cruise, and her personal assistant introduced Barbara to the dark-chocolate-covered, vitamin-loaded veggie bar.)
In addition to trail-running with the Sportello staff, Barbara has also taken up boxing. And I don’t mean the cardio-punch classes they offer at fancy fitness centers. Lynch works out at Golden Gloves champion Peter Welch’s super-old-school gym in Southie. After a few drinks, Lev (he actually does the cardio-punch gym classes) and I had agreed to join her in the ring the next day. Lev was a no-show (I think he got scared), but Barbara’s publicist, Sarah Hearn, joined me for an intense hour-long session with a group that looked straight out of Rocky. After throwing uppercuts, jabs and hooks and doing what seemed like endless push-ups, I have a new respect for Barbara Lynch, way beyond her extraordinary skills in the kitchen.
In our October issue
, we preview new baking books out this fall that celebrate easy American desserts
. Here, we offer 10 new ideas for the all-American apple pie
, like a double-crust version
, flaky apple crostatas
(pictured), and crispy apple dumplings
made with frozen puff-pastry sheets. More Excellent Desserts: 10 superb American desserts
, like minty baked Alaska
and red velvet cake
with caramel-coated pecans
If you've ever wondered what wine would be best with red velvet or chocolate cupcakes, James Roth of the wine shop Red, White & Bleu in Falls Church, Virginia, is your man. His motto is, "If you can eat it, you can pair it." So the Falls Church News-Press put him up to the challenge of pairing eight different flavored cupcakes with wines. The results were fascinating-for example, a dark-chocolate ganache with an Argentinean Malbec. Try some cupcake pairings yourself with some of my favorite F&W recipes:
Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Devil's Food Cupcakes with Espresso Meringue
Angel Food Cupcakes with Raspberry Swirl
Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling
Andrew Sessa, senior editor at F&W's sister magazine Departures, is adamant that the mini Bundt cake is going to steal the cupcake's role as the darling of the dessert world. "People like cupcakes because they're cute, and individual sized, and, maybe most importantly, vaguely nostalgic," says Sessa. "They're a throwback to mom's kitchen, and mid-century Donna Reed Americana. Mini bundts hit all the same notes, and I think, are even cuter and certainly have an even stronger sense of that nostalgia."T he recreational baker adores the adorable round cakes so much that he has started his own company— Bundt, a Bakery — which debuted last weekend at Brooklyn’s new Greenpoint Food Market. Sessa will be selling a rotating selection of seasonally inspired mini Bundt cakes, like Guinness Ginger Spice and Oatmeal Cranberry Crunch, for $4 each. The best-seller over the weekend was the zingy Caipirinha Sling. I couldn’t get enough of the supermoist Carrot Cake Bundt, which can be ordered with an extra shot of white chocolate–cream cheese buttercream frosting for $1 more.
© Peter Picasa
Mini Bundts baked by Andrew Sessa.
Last week I was sailing through the Pacific Northwest and fell in love with Lopez Island and its food. The island, located north of Seattle, is relatively remote and can be reached by ferry or sea plane. After docking, we waited in line with the locals outside of Holly B’s Bakery to fill up on their almond-studded cinnamon rolls, warm baguettes and crumbly cheddar-herb biscuits. Next door, lattes made with Graffeo beans beckoned us to recaffeinate at Caffe la Boheme. We headed out of town on bikes and stumbled upon Lopez Island Farm’s store, where the cash box was (trustingly) left out for us to ring up our purchase. I scooped up some marionberry syrup, which was perfect with our pancakes the next morning, and a goat cheese spread with apricots and pistachios that became our preferred snack for refueling after hikes. I only wish I had put ice in my day pack, so I could have brought back some of their beautiful lamb sausage to grill as well.
Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey is one of my favorite baking books. So I am totally thrilled that Chronicle Books is publishing a much-needed sequel: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids. Even though the book is aimed at kids, everything looks insanely good. I'm planning to start by trying the Holy Moly! Strawberry Jam Roly-Poly (sort of like a jelly roll but with a more flaky, biscuit-like dough), and then I'll tackle the Wicked Good Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Cups. The only downside? I can't share the book with friends until October, when it goes on sale. Until then, I'll be baking these great Food & Wine standbys for my kids:
Chocolate Chip–Pretzel Bars
Cookies & Cream Cupcakes
Chocolate Soufflé Sundae
© Eric Biermann
Tariq Hanna and his blue cake
As one of the few people in the world not caught up in the saga of Jon & Kate Plus 8
, I don’t usually watch TLC on Monday nights. Tonight, though, and for the rest of the season, I’ll tune in to TLC—and that’s because the network is airing a sneak peek of an addictive new show, the Ultimate Cake-Off
. As addictive as Jon & Kate
, which is on right before it? Definitely, if you’re obsessed with wedding cakes that look like a replica of the gazebo where he proposed. Contestants, who run the gamut from housewives to professionals, have nine hours, a bunch of power tools, and every food coloring in the rainbow at their disposal to make a cake that’s a minimum of five feet tall. At the end of each episode, a client picks the winning cake, with input from a panel of star judges. My friend, the extraordinary cake designer Margaret Braun
, is one of those star judges, and she says the show is amazing. “You see cakes that run the gamut from really scary to great,” she says. So far, all I’ve seen is the bright turquoise blue cake from Tariq Hanna
and I can’t wait to see which category—scary or great—it falls into.
My good friend Andrew Sessa, senior editor at F&W's sister magazine Departures
, has a sweet tooth that rivals my own. A brilliant baker, he recently decided to make a cake for a colleague’s birthday: a s’mores cake
combining chocolate cake
, a graham cracker crust and crumble and a marshmallow frosting
he planned to char with a mini blowtorch. But when he discovered his colleague’s favorite childhood cereal was Cinnamon Toast Crunch, he channeled cereal-obsessed pastry chef Christina Tosi
of NYC's Momofuku Milk Bar and used Cinnamon Toast Crunch instead of graham crackers. Definitely Milk Bar
Yesterday the F&W
staff got a big treat. San Francisco über-chocolatier Michael Recchiuti
came by with tons of candies for us to taste, from his classic, epic sea salt caramels to his new dragée line (the Peanut Butter Pearls are killer) to his coming-in-October Peppermint Thins, made with multiple varieties of mint. (If you're not in the Bay Area, you can find his chocolates at recchiuti.com
.) Michael also talked about this summer’s groovy Taste Project
, a series of multi-sensory tastings he's doing at his factory and other sites, including an intriguing beer-and-chocolate event with Magnolia Pub (MR said his obsession of the moment is hops; I wouldn't trust anyone but him on this tasting). And there’s more: Michael is also working on the outline for a genius book based on baking disasters, and how to recover from them. “Whenever you’re baking and something goes wrong, the recipe is cross-referenced somewhere else in the book, but you have flour and egg on your hands and you can’t turn the page,” he said. As someone with plenty of stained cookbooks at home, I hope he gets to work on this book fast.