Pink Grapefruit Halves and Those Who Love Them

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2013 is the year of pink grapefruit halves. I don’t mean that in a broad sense, like a trend prediction, I mean that in a personal sense. This year is a year in which I’ve already eaten my weight in pink grapefruit halves and it all started, appropriately enough, on New Year’s Eve day with Matt Lewis, co-owner of Brooklyn’s Baked. We were at Pulino’s in Manhattan and we shared a pink grapefruit half that was so outrageously delicious, I’m not going to tell you about it yet. We’ll save it for the finale.

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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It was only after I’d started making this coffee cake, mixing the butter and sugar, that I realized this wasn’t a round 9-inch cake sort of deal; this was a 13 X 9-inch beast.

Yes, I know, you’re supposed to study a recipe carefully before proceeding; and yes, you’re supposed to butter the pan before you start (I tend to do it right before adding the batter). But the point is: I made a giant coffee cake. And the larger point is: it was so outrageously good, with a chocolate cinnamon swirl inside and pecans on top, that it was gone in a matter of days.

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Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

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So that dinner I made for my friend Alex’s birthday (the one with the soup) began a few days earlier when I e-mailed Alex a very important question: “Dear Alex,” I wrote, “what are your Top 5 favorite desserts of all time?”

Alex wrote back: “Hmmm…top five favorite desserts…I’ll do this w/o thinking too much: pecan pie, warm cake with cream cheese frosting, strawberry rhubarb pie, chocolate lava cake, lemon cake.” Seeing as she did this stream-of-consciousness style, I had to trust that the first dessert she named was truly her favorite. Which is why I ended up making what turned out to be (in my opinion at least) the greatest pecan pie ever.

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S’more Bars

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You know how some people use Memorial Day and Labor Day to delineate time? As in: “We bought our house around Memorial Day” or “We’re spending the summer in Cape Cod and we come back around Labor Day”? I always nod and smile when people do that but truthfully, I never remember when Memorial Day or Labor Day fall. July 4th, however, is different. It’s a holiday with its date built right into the title. And, having just glanced at the calendar, I’m fairly certain this weekend is July 4th weekend and, therefore, you’re going to have a picnic and you’re going to want something to bring to it. Well I have the answer: S’more bars.

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Nectarine Cake

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So yes, when you come home from a foreign country, you want to cook all the things you ate there–to see if you can recreate the magic–but then you also want to cook something familiar: the kind of food you missed when you were abroad. The very first thing that I made when I came back from Barcelona was a tomato salad. Sure, there were tomatoes there in BCN, but I wasn’t looking for a tomato rubbed on toasted bread with garlic and oil; I wanted big chunks of tomato with basil, olive oil, All American corn, and (here’s the doozy) big pieces of toasted bread. I bought all my ingredients from the Union Square Farmer’s Market, which I visited bright and early the Friday after we got back, still jet-lagged and able to awake at 6 AM.

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My Love Affair with Grits

[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. The first awesome person on the docket is the co-proprietor of one of the best bakeries in all of New York, Mr. Matt Lewis of Baked. I love Baked (see here) and I love their cookbook and I’m honored that Matt wrote this guest post. So thank you Matt–take it away!]

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I have lived in New York for over 14 years now, but I still romanticize my time spent in the South. More specifically: Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Even more specifically, my alma mater The University of Alabama. By and large, I have many positive memories from this time. I specifically remember the inexpensive rent (I had an entire floor of a huge Southern home to myself for 300 bucks a month), the wide-open spaces, the Southern gentility, the sweet tea, and the food. I also remember waking up in a ditch 20 miles from campus after a night of acid (do people still drop acid?), vodka, and a bad Metallica cover band. But I digress.

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Baked

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Ok, class, we’re about to take a field trip: does everyone have a trip buddy? Find a buddy now. David Lebovitz, no, you can’t be buddies with Perez Hilton: he’s not in our class. This is a food class, not a gossip class, ok? Now then, I hope you’re all hungry because we’re about to visit one of the best bakeries not only in Brooklyn, but all of New York; it’s a bakery with an awesome cookbook from which I made that easy homemade granola and also those oatmeal cookies with cardamom. Remember those? Well then you should be excited because here we are: welcome to Baked!

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