Cranberry Pecan Coffeecake
Perfect for a fall or winter brunch, this versatile cake can be made with almost any combination of dried fruits and nuts you like. I love the tangy flavor of dried cranberries, and they’re a perfect contrast to the sweet dough and icing and the richness of the nuts in this cake.
Viennese Raisin Coffee Cake
Vienna is the undisputed world capital of cake. There are layer cakes, mousse cakes, historical cakes (the Sachertorte of the Hotel Sacher has been a closely guarded secret recipe for over 200 years), and even plain cakes. I recently asked my friend Erika Lieben for her favorite. She wrote back a four-word response: Gehruerter Gugelhupf mit Rosinen (“beaten” coffee cake with raisins).
Mozzarella In Carrozza (Mozzarella “In a Carriage”)
This is a fun first course when served with a tomato salad, but it can also stand as a quick light meal on its own when there’s nothing else available but a piece of bread, some mozzarella, and a few eggs. There are countless variations on this recipe, some including a bit of anchovy along with the mozzarella, but this simple version is the best.
Brown Bread Ice Cream
Baking crumbled bread with the caramel, a pinch of salt, and just a tablespoon of butter produces sweet crumbs that stay crisp once added to the ice cream. The ice cream recipe is based on the one I learned from Monsieur Alex Frolla, the pastry chef when I did my three summer seasons working at the Sporting Club and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. It was the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted.
Cialedda - Bread and Tomato Salad from Apulia
Any tomato salad depends on one thing: perfectly ripe, height of summer tomatoes. Cherry or grape tomatoes might be fine in a tossed salad during the winter, but just don’t have either the strength of flavor or the moisture for a salad like this. Like the famous Tuscan bread salad, panzanella, the bread here is moistened with a little water first. Letting the salad stand for an hour or so both develops the flavor and further moistens the bread, so it’s perfect to prepare in advance to serve to guests.
REAL STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE
Here’s a recipe you can literally have on the table less than an hour after you start making it. I love to use really sweet height-of-the-season strawberries for this, but don’t hesitate to try it with other fruit or berries such as peaches, mixed berries, or even fresh figs.
Turkish Pistachio Pastry (Katmer)
My friend Cenk Sönmeszoy first told me about katmer— a square pastry that contains several layers of dough as well as clotted Turkish cream, sugar, and finely chopped pistachios —and sent me links to videos of some very skilled bakers who throw the dough around like a bedsheet to make it larger and thinner. The method here is simplified but gives excellent results.
Pa Amb Tomàquet - Catalan Grilled Bread Rubbed with Tomato
Food is central in Catalan life. Tapas bars and casual cafés serve pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato) already assembled, but some restaurants merely deliver the components to the table: a piece of chewy bread grilled over a wood fire, a perfectly ripe tomato, fine salt, and local extra-virgin olive oil. Such a simple combination depends entirely on the quality of the ingredients—they have to be perfect. The instructions here are adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Paula Wolfert’s World of Food, with her permission. This is the perfect appetizer for a casual late summer meal. Eat with a knife and fork!
Easy Strawberry Jam
As soon as the weather starts to warm up I start thinking about the upcoming preserving and pickling season. I already picked up a couple of gallons of distilled white vinegar at the supermarket a few weeks ago, and yesterday I saw that strawberries were on sale, so I bought a couple of pounds. What you see above is the result of those 2 pounds of strawberries and a little more than a pound of sugar: almost a quart of really fresh tasting strawberry jam. I've been making jam and preserves of different kinds for almost 50 years but I have to admit that I've really refined my methods for sweet preserves like these only in the past couple of years.
ORANGE BABAS MARCELLA
A baba should be a buttery, yeast-risen cake, low in sugar, soaked in a seasoned syrup to flavor it and make it moist. Unfortunately, what most pastry shops prepare are rather large, fine-textured babas that develop an unattractively sodden texture after they are soaked, in what is usually a syrup flavored with inferior liqueurs or fruit juices. So, most people look at a baba and flee.
These babas are quite different from those described above. They are tiny, so their rich sweetness is a pleasant mouthful; they are a bit coarse-textured, so they don’t become soggy after being soaked; and the syrup is flavored with orange liqueur and orange juice, which contributes a fresher taste than the usual rum and spices.
Almond Lace Cookies
Fragile and delicate in the extreme, these cookies are a labor of love to make because you need to bake them one pan at a time on the middle rack of the oven. If you have a double oven, start to bake another pan a couple of minutes before the first pan is ready to come out. These spread best on a bare buttered pan; brush the pans with very soft but not melted butter. If you don’t mind cookies that are a little thicker, you may use silicon mats to bake them.