I can hardly believe it but Friday marks the end of my third year of medical school! I can remember at the beginning of this year wondering how I was ever going to make it- “working” at the hospital everyday on top of studying for standardized exams every five weeks, and trying to live a somewhat normal life on top of it. Then before I even had time to get really stressed out about it – it’s over! Not complaining one bit :-). I am finishing up the year with pediatrics, which quite to my surprise turned out to be one of my favorite rotations of the year. I have never been one of those people who thinks, “Awwwwwwwwww, little kids are sooooooooo cute.” In fact, I kind of grouped those people into the “lovers of unicorn and all things rainbow” that I just didn’t fit in with. However, in retrospect I realize that I had never really spent enough time with the little ones in order to make such a judgement. Little kids are pretty amazing little people, and they definitely do say the darndest things. And also, children’s hospitals = 1000x cooler than adult hospitals.
So in order to commemorate the end of another very good rotation, I decided to make coffee cake for the office to enjoy. I wanted something summery yet decadent and something that would work equally well for both breakfast and dessert. I think this cake hit the nail on the head. The lemon in the batter gives it a fresh appeal, and the streusel topping makes it a crumbly delight. I really thought this cake was over the top good – and based on the number of people at the office that asked for the recipe, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. The only thing I might change for the future is to make individual serving sizes. I think it would work well in a muffin tin – just make sure you equally distribute the amazing streusel, otherwise you might cause some fights (at least when there are little kiddos involved).
Blueberry Crumble Coffee Cake
Makes a 9-inch round cake
For the Streusel:
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
For the Cake:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- zest from 1/2 a lemon
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.
For the Streusel: Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in melted butter, then flour and mix well.
For the Cake: In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on high speed for 4-5 minutes, until light. Reduce speed to low to add the eggs, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to evenly mix in berries. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread with a knife to level the top. With your fingers, crumble all the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Barely Adapated from Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten)
Yesterday was full of kitchen disasters. You see our friend Adam is on a whorl wind cross-country tour, and stopped by our place for a visit. Since I am on vacation for another 5 days, I figured what better way to spend my time than to make a dinner completely from scratch. I had the menu all planned out, which consisted of homemade hamburger buns, black bean burgers (for which I even cooked my own black beans), home-fried potato chips, homemade ranch dressing, DIY oreos, and pina coladas – none of which I had ever made from scratch before. Despite the best intentions, while we were sitting outside because our apartment was too filled with smoke to breathe, I firmly decided that never again will I make an entire menu that I have never tried before when we have house guests :-). I also decided that on the rare occasion that we do fry something – John is going to be soley responsible (hot oil and I are not friends).
About halfway through the disaster, I wanted to scrap it all and go out to eat, but I’m actually really glad we didn’t because the dinner was salvageable and I got 2 keeper recipes out of it- the best ranch dressing you’ve ever tasted and out-of-this-world pina coladas. Plus, it made for some funny memories (picture John running through the house wearing chemistry goggles so that his eyes wouldn’t burn from the smoke). I really wish I would’ve taken pictures of all the mishaps that occurred, but I think I was too traumatized by the billows of smoke around me to remember. Here’s John and Adam recovering by playing super mario brothers:
Despite the fact that I slightly burned my hand, and that we all suffered from some smoke inhalation, this ranch dressing really made it all worth it… it’s that good! It’s the kind of thing that will literally make you eat every last vegetable you have in your fridge, and then some. I tend to have this habit of buying veggies with the best intentions of eating them for snacks, but then somehow I forget about them and then eventually they look unappetizing. With this ranch dressing around I’m pretty sure no vegetable will ever go bad in this house again.
It is the perfect summer treat – cool, refreshing, and goes great on just about anything. While I normally think of ranch with vegetables, I actually made this dressing to go with the homemade chips (that John ended up cooking). It’s coolness was the perfect complement to the warm, greasy, crispness of a potato chip. I also think it would be great for dipping pizza crust (if that’s your thing), or pizza bites , or you could use it as regular old salad dressing (but believe me, no salad will ever taste the same).
I know dressings get a really bad rap for being unhealthy, and I’m not trying to pretend that you should drink this dressing by the cupful – but it’s quite a bit better for you than the store bought kind. It also tastes worlds better than bottled “low-fat” dressing, despite the fact that it is made with low fat ingredients. Depending on your taste, you can alter the amount of parsley, chives and dill you want to put into this. I happened to add a lot, and it really gave the dressing that cool, summery flavor I was looking for. I probably added a full cup of greens (parsley, chives & dill), but I will mention that the dill flavor came through strongly, so if you add it, tred lightly. If you add any more than what I did, you will get something closer to a green goddess dressing - but nothing wrong with that, it will still taste amazing. So make this, no picnic will ever be the same.
Homemade Ranch Dressing
Makes about 2 cups. Stays good for 2+ weeks (but good luck making it last that long :-))
- 3/4 cup light sour cream
- 3/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 T. Olive Oil
- 1 T. Lemon Juice (or juice from 1/2 a lemon)
- 1 cup buttermilk (but you can use less if you like a very thick dip)
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- small bunch chives
- small handful parsley
- 2-3 dill springs (optional)
- pinch of salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients except for 1/2 cup buttermilk in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth (no need to pre-chop anything). Check the consistency, and add remaining buttermilk until your desired consistency is reached.
Adapated from Confections of a Foodie Bride