Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Have you ever accidentally started a tradition? My little sister, Eliot, and I have—we’ve now spent three St. Patrick’s Days in a row together. Two years ago, she came to visit me. We rented a car and went to Maine last year. This past weekend, I took the bus up to Cambridge to visit her. I guess St. Patrick’s Day is just a thing we do together now (sans green beer).

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate
At Fenway Park last fall.

When Eliot and I get together, we rarely have a concrete plan—our visits are mostly just finding ways to make each other laugh hysterically and deciding what to eat next. Since Eliot actually lives in Cambridge, we were able to make our own breakfasts and dinners (more about that here), but we went for brunch both days and even went out for pie!

Here are a few food-centric highlights from last weekend.

3 Little Figs {Somerville}

I was ravenous when I got to Eliot’s apartment early Saturday afternoon. She gave me a handful of cashews to keep me sane and then we walked over to 3 Little Figs, a little cafe and bakery in Somerville. We both got the Brunch Bowl, which involves all sorts of good vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, spinach), a poached egg, and flourishes of sesame, dried cherries, turmeric-tahini and ginger vinaigrette over a bed of quinoa. We both loved it so much that we’re going to try to recreate it at home! This meal was hearty without being too heavy—just what we needed to get through what ended up being a surprisingly busy afternoon.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We AteSister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Once we finished our meals, we got Honey Matcha Lattes to-go. They were just barely sweet—perfect for a little afternoon pick-me-up on our walk back to Cambridge.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

I will say that getting seating was sort of a pain, but it certainly wasn’t impossible. It’s sort of on the customer to eat in a timely fashion and move so someone else can have your table. With places like this, pay it forward is the name of the game.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Juliet {Somerville}

When deciding where to go to brunch on Sunday, we both looked at each other and said “Juliet.” It’s is one of my sister’s favorite spots and I can totally see why. The food is unfussy and delicious—I’ve never had anything there that wasn’t excellent. I tried their chilaquiles when I came up for Eliot’s birthday. This time around, I went with her suggestion: breakfast tacos. They come with an egg, potato, and cheese filling on corn tortillas. There’s a thin, but potent hot sauce too. They’re not Austin-style, but they are really good.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Eliot got scrambled eggs with greens, buttered toast, and some stupidly good dijon potato salad.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

The only drawback I can think of is that Juliet, like 3 Little Figs, has limited seating. We took two seats at the bar though and thoroughly enjoyed watching the open-style kitchen at work. The main attraction was watching someone prep a batch of buttermilk pannacotta. Don’t be surprised if you see something similar on here this spring.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Petsi Pies {Cambridge & Somerville}

Eliot mentioned Petsi Pies to me a few months ago and we put it on the “must try” list. We popped into the Putnam Street location on Sunday afternoon to split a slice on the way to the Harvard library. They had pecan pie available and some sort of fruit pie (apple, maybe?), but as soon as the cashier said “Chocolate Pecan Pie,” the other two ceased to be options. The filling was fudgy and not at all gloopy, and had just the right amount of chopped pecans. Oh, and there was a chocolate drizzle. I looooove a chocolate drizzle.

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

I wasn’t crazy about the crust, which was sort of hard and one-note in flavor. It was flaky though and held a crimp, so maybe I am being too critical. Or perhaps I am just spoiled with my own Cream Cheese Pie Dough. Regardless, I will definitely go back to Petsi Pies on my future trips. I’m already planning to recreate the chocolate pecan pie filling!

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Have a great weekend, y’all! I’ll be back with new recipes next week ❤

Sister Weekend in Cambridge: What We Ate

Banana Snickerdoodles

Banana SnickerdoodlesIn the last few weeks, I’ve been posting recipes I developed in my pre-blog days. It’s been way fun to revisit all the things I was making back then! And by “back then,” I mean four years ago 😛
Banana SnickerdoodlesI inadvertently started this little project when I posted some Oreo-Stuffed Peanut Butter Blondies last month. Then it was the Vanilla Malt Cookies from two weeks ago. I came home from a weekend trip to Boston (more on that soon!) to find a bunch of overripe bananas, so today is all about Banana Snickerdoodles 🙂
Banana SnickerdoodlesY’all, these cookies are as easy as they are delicious…and they’re really delicious. If you are into banana and cinnamon, you’ll love these rumpled beauties ❤
Banana SnickerdoodlesBanana SnickerdoodlesWe’re having a blizzard here in NYC, so it’s a great day to stay home and bake. You likely already have all the ingredients for this simple dough, with the exception of the overripe bananas. If you have any bananas at all though, you can give them a quick bake and they’ll be recipe-ready!
Banana SnickerdoodlesThe dough comes together in just a few minutes. You’ll notice there are no eggs in this recipe—adding them would make the cookies cakey, and I don’t go for cakey cookies. Let the dough chill for an hour; this will allow the butter to firm up and the cinnamon and banana flavors to meld.
Banana SnickerdoodlesBanana SnickerdoodlesWhen you’re ready to bake, roll the dough into balls and coat them in cinnamon-sugar. There’s already cinnamon in the dough, but they’re not snickerdoodles without the sweet, crispy coating!Banana Snickerdoodles
Banana SnickerdoodlesBanana Snickerdoodles bake up thick and chewy with big banana flavor and just enough cinnamon. You’ll dig the contrast of the soft centers and crispy edges, too. Trust me–you’re going to love these ❤ Banana Snickerdoodles

Banana Snickerdoodles
makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup mashed overripe banana (about 1 1/2 large bananas)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugars, followed by mashed banana and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing until completely combined.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Make the coating. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Scoop the dough in 2 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Roll each dough ball in the coating mixture. Place dough balls at least 2.5 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 9-10 minutes, until puffy and no longer raw-looking. Let cool on pans for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat scooping, rolling, and baking with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Banana Snickerdoodles

Glazed Doughnut Twists

Glazed Doughnut TwistsWhen I think about my favorite recipes on this site, Overnight Yeast-Raised Doughnuts are pretty high on the list. Top five, for sure—probably top three. They are the absolute best doughnuts I have ever had in my life. Ever. EVER.Glazed Doughnut TwistsI’ve posted a couple more doughnuts since then (French Crullers and vegan Churros!). They’re all great, but I love the soft, fluffy slight-chewiness of a yeast-raised doughnut the most. What can I say? I love a classic.Glazed Doughnut TwistsIn fact, the only thing I love more than a classic is a classic with a twist. Most of the time that means an unusual flavor or method, but today it’s completely literal—Glazed Doughnut Twists, y’all! These double-size, yeasted, coiled beauties were one of my favorites to get at my childhood doughnut shop, and I am so happy that I can make them at home now 🙂 This recipe starts out just like my original yeast-raised doughnuts. The dough is identical and the method is the same all the way up through the overnight proof in the refrigerator and the punch-down in the morning.Glazed Doughnut Twists Glazed Doughnut TwistsAfter that, things change a little. Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle and slice it into twelve strips.Glazed Doughnut TwistsGlazed Doughnut TwistsGlazed Doughnut TwistsGlazed Doughnut TwistsGlazed Doughnut TwistsGlazed Doughnut TwistsWorking with one strip of dough at a time, roll it into a rope, bend it in half, and give it a few twists. I recommend giving it an extra twist or two—the doughnuts will uncoil slightly between now and when they are done.Glazed Doughnut TwistsPlace the twisted doughnuts on pieces of wax paper before putting them on a baking sheet. Let them rise for 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free place.Next up, fry the doughnuts in 360F oil until they’re deep golden…Glazed Doughnut Twists…and then give them a dip in a classic doughnut glaze. The glaze recipe makes more than you’ll need to glaze a dozen doughnuts, but I find it’s always best to have extra when you’re dipping something. It takes the stress out of the whole process.Glazed Doughnut TwistsGlazed Doughnut TwistsGlazed Doughnut TwistsGlazed Doughnut TwistsGlazed Doughnut TwistsI mean, doughnuts aren’t supposed to be stressful. They’re supposed to be delicious.Glazed Doughnut TwistsGlazed Doughnut TwistsY’all, these Glazed Doughnut Twists are beyond fantastic! They’re soft and puffy and flavorful, and the glaze…well, it sort of shatters and melts at the same time. It sounds odd when it’s characterized that way, but it’s divine. These doughnuts are the best of all fried pastry worlds, twisted into one simple, sweet treat.Glazed Doughnut TwistsOne last thing before I get to the recipe. I know making fried doughnuts at home seems too difficult or like it may be too much work, but you are absolutely capable of making these and they are worth every ounce of the (surprisingly minimal) energy they require. I believe in you! Now, go make the best doughnuts of your life!Glazed Doughnut Twists

Glazed Doughnut Twists
makes 1 dozen doughnut twists

2 cups bread flour*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise)
1 cup buttermilk,* room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 large eggs, beaten, room temperature
2 quarts shortening or frying oil (like peanut, safflower, or canola), for frying

Classic Doughnut Glaze:
2 pounds confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup hot tap water

The night before:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together bread flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, nutmeg, salt, and instant yeast. Set aside.

Combine buttermilk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Warm until hot to the touch, about 115F. Use a silicone spatula to fold liquid into dry ingredients. Fold in eggs until a sticky, shaggy dough forms. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes, until dough is smooth. Shape dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (8-12 hours).

The day of:

Cut a large sheet of wax paper into 12 8×3-inch rectangles. Place squares on two rimmed baking sheets.

Remove cold dough from the fridge and turn onto a floured surface. Roll into an 9×12-inch rectangle that is about 1/2-inch thick. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice dough horizontally into 12 even strips.

Twist the dough. Working with one strip at a time (and loosely covering the remaining dough), roll the strip into a 13-inch rope. Bend it so that it’s a narrow arch, and then twist together, pinching together loose ends. Place on a rectangle of wax paper and then on the prepared pans. Repeat with remaining dough strips.

Gently lay plastic wrap or a sheet of wax paper over the tops of the pans and allow doughnuts to rise in a warm, draft-free environment* for 30 minutes. Once puffy, remove doughnuts from oven.

Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet, and set in close proximity to the stove. Also place tongs and a frying spider (if using) near the stove.

Heat shortening or oil to 360F. Add a couple of doughnuts (still on their the wax paper) to the hot oil. Almost immediately, use tongs to lift wax paper out of the oil. Discard. Fry doughnuts for 1-2 minutes per side, until golden and cooked through. Remove to rack. Let oil warm back up between batches. Continue with remaining doughnuts.

Make classic doughnut glaze. In a large mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Pour glaze into a shallow dish. Dip one doughnut at a time, spooning more glaze over the top as you go. Transfer back to rack. Repeat with all remaining doughnuts. Glaze will set after 15-20 minutes.

Doughnuts are best the day they are made. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for about a day.

1. If you do not have bread flour, you may substitute an equal volume of all-purpose flour. Your doughnuts will not have as much chew as those made with bread flour, but they will still be delicious.
2. If you do not have buttermilk, you may make a substitute with lemon juice (or vinegar) and milk. Pour 1 tablespoon of vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Pour in milk until the liquid reaches the 1 cup mark. Let sit for five minutes before proceeding with the recipe as written. Whole and low-fat milks are fine, but I do not recommend skim or nonfat.
3. I preheat my oven to 200F, turn it off, and slide the doughnuts inside. After 30 minutes, they are puffy and ready to fry. Works every time.

Glazed Doughnut Twists

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

Carrot Cake Baked OatmealIt feels like I’m jumping the gun by posting a carrot cake-flavored recipe in the middle of March, just after the third nor’easter in twelve days, but Easter is on the early side this year, so I suppose I’m right on time.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealI get that Carrot Cake is popular around Easter because of the whole Easter Bunny/rabbits + carrots thing but, like, is there ever a bad time for carrot cake?!Carrot Cake Baked OatmealI think not. I could eat it any day, anytime, on a boat/plane/train/any other Seussical place without complaint. Except for the whole general health and well-being and needing bigger pants thing. But if those obstacles weren’t standing in my way, let me tell you, it’d be all carrot cake all the time. That and things made with malted milk powder.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealAs it stands though, I just bought a pair of Levi’s 501s that make me feel like a supermodel and I am trying to eat well (outside of the occasional pie, kolaches, and Oreo-stuffed treats—job hazards, you know). So, I made a little compromise and put all the flavors of carrot cake in a delicious and deliciously easy baked oatmeal that works just as well as a make-ahead weekday breakfast as is does as part of an Easter weekend brunch.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealCarrot Cake Baked OatmealThis Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal comes together quickly and easily, and has huge flavor thanks to warming spices, the classic additions of raisins and chopped pecans, and maple syrup.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealIt bakes up in just half an hour. You could certainly serve it on its own, but I like an extra drizzle of maple syrup, just for kicks. A dollop of yogurt couldn’t hurt either.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealAnother great thing about this breakfast? It’s high in protein, so you won’t be starving two hours after you’ve eaten. Oh, and if you use certified gluten-free oats, it’s gluten-free too 🙂 Yep. This is the sort of everyday indulgence I can get behind.Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal
makes one 9-inch square pan

2/3 cup raisins, optional
1 cup water
2 cups old-fashioned oats (certified gluten-free, if needed)
2/3 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts), optional
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk of choice
1 1/2 cups grated carrots

For serving (optional):
pure maple syrup
plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish. Set aside.

Place raisins in a small bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour over raisins. Let sit while you prepare the oatmeal.

When oven is heated. Place oats and chopped pecans on a dry rimmed baking sheet. Let toast in the oven for 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Pour into a medium-large mixing bowl and stir in cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk. Mix in vanilla, maple syrup, melted butter, and milk. Pour over dry mixture and fold together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Fold in carrots. Drain raisins and mix them into the oatmeal.

Transfer oatmeal to prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake uncovered for 30-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool for a few minutes before serving with a drizzle of maple syrup and/or a dollop of yogurt, if desired. Oatmeal scoops best initially, but may be sliced after it cools.

Leftover baked oatmeal will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat individual portions before serving.

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Black Bottom Key Lime PieIn my short but very intense baking career, I’ve come to think that whoever coined “Easy as pie,” was making a very cruel joke.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Pie takes time and energy and the patience to scrape up the layer of flour that’s adhered itself to your best rolling surface, and unless you make it all the time (those late-November pies are always the easiest ones, aren’t they?), it can seem like a culinary Mount Everest. It’s not—anyone can make a pie—but I understand why it can be perceived as intimidating. Pie is simple, straightforward stuff, but it definitely isn’t easy.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Except for this Black Bottom Key Lime Pie, that is. It’s very easy and guaranteed to impress. I mean, look at those delicious layers!

Black Bottom Key Lime PieBlack Bottom Key Lime PieIf you want to make one of these magnificent pies for yourself, start by blitzing Oreos and butter together until they are sandy. Press the mixture into a pie plate to make a crust. Bake that for 8 minutes, just to set.Black Bottom Key Lime PieBlack Bottom Key Lime Pie

Warm some chopped dark chocolate and heavy cream together and stir to make a ganache. Carefully spread it onto the crust, and then give it a brief chill to set the layer. This magical puddle of ganache is the titular “Black Bottom.”

Black Bottom Key Lime PieBlack Bottom Key Lime PieWhisk together the key lime filling. This iconic pie filling is one of the easiest to make. Just whisk together a can of sweetened condensed milk, some egg yolks, some lime zest and key lime juice. I like to add 1/4 cup of sour cream, just to keep everything extra dreamy. If you’re a key lime pie purist, you can leave it out.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Pour the filling over the ganache layer and bake the pie for 20 minutes. It should be ever-so-slightly jiggly when it’s done. It’ll firm up as it cools.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Chill the pie well (nobody likes warm Key Lime Pie!) and then top it with some whipped cream. You can pipe this layer if you are so inclined. I am not, mostly because I would like to eat pie sooner rather than later.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Oh, y’all. This is the way to get your key lime fix. The tartness of the filling pairs beautifully and deliciously with the dark chocolate and the whipped cream, and the crunchy Oreo crust…well, it’ll keep you coming back for more.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Make this pie this weekend, or next Wednesday, 3/14. It’s Pi(e) Day, after all ❤Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Black Bottom Key Lime Pie
makes one 9-inch pie

25 whole Oreos
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

Key Lime Pie Filling:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup full-fat sour cream
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tablespoon lime zest (or key lime zest)
1/2 cup key lime juice

Whipped Cream Topping:
1 cup heavy cream, cold
2-3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
chocolate shavings (optional)
lime zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate.

Place Oreos in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they are crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until the mixture can be pinched together. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate (I find that a 1/4 cup measuring cup works wonders for this). Bake the crust for 8 minutes and then let it cool for 20 (or until you can handle the pie plate).

Make the ganache. Combine chopped chocolate and heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until a smooth even ganache forms (about 45 seconds total). Pour it into the crust and use the back of a spoon to carefully spread it into an even layer on the bottom. Freeze crust and ganache while you prepare the key lime pie filling.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and sour cream. Whisk in eggs, followed by lime zest and key lime juice. Remove pie plate from freezer and pour filling mixture over the ganache. Pop any air bubbles with a toothpick or the tines of a fork. Bake pie 20 minutes, or until just barely jiggly. It will set as it cools.

Let pie cool on a rack before chilling in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Make whipped cream topping. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream. Scatter with chocolate shavings and lime zest, if desired.

Serve immediately. Leftover pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for a few days.

Black Bottom Key Lime Pie