Recipe

Almond Cake

Adapted from Amanda Hesser’s Cooking for Mr. Latte, and from her mother-in-law, Elizabeth

It would be tough to improve upon this cake, but next time, I might cut the almond extract back to ½ teaspoon, rather than 1 teaspoon. I love almond extract, but sometimes it leaves an aftertaste.

2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups sugar
1 (7-ounce) tube almond paste, cut into small pieces
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure almond extract
Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter (or spray with cooking spray) the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. The line the sides and bottom with parchment paper, and butter (or spray) the paper. In a small bowl, mix together sour cream and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the almond paste a few pieces at a time, and beat on medium speed for 8 minutes. (Yes, this seems like a long time, but do it. The mixture will get gorgeously fluffy.) Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, and mix until incorporated. (If it looks curdled, don’t worry.) Beat in the almond extract and the sour cream mixture. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter a couple of times to make sure there’s no unincorporated flour lurking around.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and spread it evenly with the rubber spatula. Bake for about 1 hour: the cake is done when you press the top and it returns to its shape, and also when it shrinks from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack, and cool the cake in its pan.

When ready to serve, sift powdered sugar over the top, if you like.

Yield: about 10 servings

Recipe

Butter-Glazed Radishes

Adapted from All About Braising, by Molly Stevens

I think these radishes would make an ideal side dish for roasted chicken, but you could serve them with almost anything: fish, pork, probably even a fried egg.

1 lb. small radishes (2 to 2 ½ dozen)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup chicken stock, or water
Large pinch of sugar
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Trim the roots from the radishes, and pare off the greens, leaving ¼ to ½ inch of the stems. (This is mostly for looks, and for the slight flavor the stems bring, but if you want, you can completely trim away the greens.) Soak the radishes in cold water for about 15 minutes to loosen any dirt trapped in the stems. Drain and scrub the radishes. If any are more than 1 inch in diameter, halve them.

Put the radishes in a medium (10-inch) skillet. The skillet should hold them in a single layer. Add the butter, stock or water, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; then cover, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the radishes are tender, 18 to 25 minutes. You should be able to easily pierce them with a small knife.

Remove the lid, shake the pan to roll the radishes around, and continue to simmer until the liquid reduces to a glaze and coats the radishes, another 5 to 10 minutes. (You may need to increase the heat under the pan.) Taste for seasoning. Serve warm.

Yield: 4 servings