• Lemon Cake, Amalfi-Style
    Cakes,  Desserts,  Recipephany ingredient

    Lemon Bundt Cake, Amalfi-Style

    When we hiked mountain trails along the Amalfi Coast several years ago, we marveled at the fist-sized lemons hanging off the cliffside trees. We didn’t know at the time, but they were begging to get zested and squeezed into this ultramoist and puckery lemon cake. While this lemon-lover’s dessert comes from the region, it doesn’t require Italian lemons. The supermarket variety will do just fine. Who knows the real heritage of this cake. It has relatives all over the world. The English call it a “lemon drizzle cake.” It starts out as a classic butter cake—rich, fluffy, golden, and fairly easy to make. The jolt of flavor comes from the lemon syrup that gets…

  • Breakfast,  Cakes,  Other,  Recipephany ingredient

    Thin and Crispy Rhode Island Johnny Cakes

    Rhode Islanders love their johnny cakes the way Southerners love hushpuppies. You won’t confuse johnny cakes with hushpuppies, though. Unlike those cornbread fritters, johnny cakes are thin, 100-percent corn meal pancakes passed down from the Narragansett tribe. A spoonful of corn meal mush gets griddled until it’s crispy outside yet still soft and creamy inside. There’s nothing but corn flavor through and through—except of course for the tang of the maple syrup it happily soaks up. Etymologists say johnny cakes evolved from journey cakes because early settlers packed them for trips. Seriously? These fragile cakes can break on the way from the stove to the table. I did learn that jonakin is an early…

  • Recipephany ingredient,  Soups,  Vegan,  Vegetables,  Vegetarian

    Haymarket Asparagus Soup

    It’s hard to cook asparagus to its elegant best. If you leave spears in too long, they go from vibrant and crisp to drab and droopy. Take them out too soon, and you’ll get a raw crunch instead of a tender, tasty bite. But it’s easy to cook asparagus perfectly in this soup. There’s no peeling or fussy prep. No matter how long the asparagus simmers, it doesn’t lose its sweet, earthy flavor. A touch of thyme and savory add garden brightness, and golden potatoes make it creamy. Crispy, salty prosciutto bits on top give contrasting crunch and color to the green smoothness. Best of all, you don’t need pristine spears if you’re just…

  • Cookies,  Ingredient,  Recipephany ingredient

    The Great Molasses Flood and Mighty Molasses Clove Cookies

    January 15, 1919. A bulging, overheated storage tank burst, spewing a towering wave of fast-flowing molasses into Boston’s busiest commercial district, killing 21, injuring 150, and wreaking tsunami-style devastation. The incongruity of “molasses” and “disaster” tends to rob the legendary Great Molasses Flood of its gravitas. Better viewed as a horrific industrial accident, it offers up five lessons worth mulling over on its 96th anniversary. 1. Heed warning signs. The massive tank, which held more than 2 million gallons, leaked so badly that neighborhood kids used to scoop up the puddles with pails. The owner, U.S. Industrial Alcohol (USIA) Company, chose camouflage as a solution when it repainted the gray tank to match the…

  • Poppy Seed Lemon Cake
    Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts,  Ingredient,  Recipephany ingredient

    Lemon Buttermilk Poppy Seed Cakes, and the Poppy Seed Predicament

    Poppy seeds and lemon adore each other, and prove it in these lovely mini loaves. You can feel the sparks fly in your mouth, with the teeny pop of the seeds and the puckery citrus. Tangy buttermilk, the one-two punch of lemon in the cake and the syrup, and the delicately nutty seeds create a sunny cake to boost your mood any time of day. Wrap a petite loaf in clear plastic, tie it up with some raffia, and it makes a luxuriously delicious gift. This recipephany, though, also has to do with how I solved the Poppy Seed Predicament. I’m not talking about how a slice of this will make you flunk a…

  • Persian Green Olive and Walnut Salad
    Appetizers,  Ingredient,  Other,  Recipephany ingredient,  Salads,  Vegan

    Persian Green Olive and Walnut Salad

    Some think a good waiter is someone who sneaks an extra shrimp into your cocktail. Me, I prefer a waiter who gives away the chef’s secrets. I got this recipephany many years ago from a waiter at Lala Rokh on Beacon Hill, an elegant Persian restaurant near John Kerry’s townhouse on Louisburg Square. It was my Dad’s birthday, when the kids were home and my folks could still negotiate at least some of the steep walk to the door. We started with this appetizer called zaitun-e parwardeh. It mesmerized me so much that—sort of like the Men in Black’s Neuralizer—it wiped out my entire memory of the rest of the meal. Sweet, tart, salty,…