Yogurt Lemon Loaf with Rosemary and Walnuts

yogurt lemon loaf

It's Teacher Appreciation Week at Roosevelt Elementary, which means I'm doing some baking. Happily.

Sending my children off each morning to spend their day absorbing other people's values, playing with other people's children, and learning someone else's curriculum could be terrifying. Except it's not.

The public school down the hill from us is an amazing place on the planet. The teachers and staff really like another another, emotional intelligence is highlighted just as much as any other skill, and I usually hear staff and students laughing when I'm there. Things are serious and structured when they need to be, and playful and silly as often as possible. There's artwork everywhere, and little groups doing work around every corner--tutorials, gentle disciplinary conversations, peacemaking.

I always say we wake up in the morning with a certain amount of energy. We can waste it being touchy, annoyed, or feeling like outsiders, or we can make a choice to be engaged and present. Teaching is hard. And it doesn't pay very much. And you're ON for hours at a time in front of an audience that doesn't say thank you or even do you the courtesy of sitting still! But these Roosevelt folks? They spend their energy being present. And it shows in how my children are developing. That's pretty powerful.

This recipe is for you, Shelly. You light up that front office like fireworks, and I don't think you can imagine how much light and goodness you spread. Thank you.

Yogurt Lemon Loaf with Rosemary and Walnuts
Adapted from Melissa Clark's recipe for Chocolate Chip Pecan Loaf Cake, which I've adapted a million times. I adore her, her food sensibilities, her great writing, and the fact that this recipe just requires a spoon and a mixing bowl!

For cake:
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
10 Tb. unsalted butter, melted
1 c. toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1-2 Tb. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tb. lemon zest 

For glaze:
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 c. powedered sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 Tb. soft butter 

Butter and flour a 9x5 loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350.

Using a whisk, comgine the sugar and yogurt. Add eggs, one at a time, and whisk until completely combined.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture, then fold in the melted butter a little at a time. Fold in walnuts, rosemary, and zest.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake is golden and tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

While cake is cooling, make glaze. Combine lemon juice and powdered sugar in a bowl, and microwave for 20 seconds. Take out of the microwave and add butter and lemon zest, whisking until mixture is glossy. Pour over the cake while it's still in the pan. Let cool for another 10-15 minutes before turning it out to cool to room temperature before slicing. 

Banana Lemon Scones

Banana Lemon Scones

Give me carbs.

Yancey and I were watching late-night TV the other night. (I'm the last one to join the party, but I'm finally smitten with Jimmy Fallon.) I was full from dinner and drowsy. And yet, unbelievably, I was thinking about breakfast the next morning. About how I didn't want a kale smoothie or rewarmed Irish oats. How I wanted to smell something in the oven and the kids to come running up the stairs asking what it was.

I had a foggy memory of this scone recipe from an edition of Fine Cooking that's long since disappeared. I'm an insatiable magazine reader, but I don't keep them. It might threaten our marriage. So I sometimes clip or scan recipes, but mostly I just enjoy them in the moment and move on. Thank God for the internet and for YMCA members who will read any old donated crap in order not to focus on their workouts. 

I was skeptical that one diced banana would do the trick, but these were so stunning. They had a delicate banana aroma and flavor, but totally different than banana bread or banana cake. And, if you really pay attention, bananas are actually a little acidic, and the lemon paired perfectly. I have hardly been known to peel a banana and eat it out of hand, but I can't resist banana desserts and baked goods.

We've had some sweet family time this weekend--cooking, a little road trip with lots of singing, naps, New York Times. And, despite my skepticism, Spring has got to come. It can't help but get closer.

Banana Lemon Scones
Adapted from Fine Cooking. I added 1/4 c. brown sugar for two reasons--to make them sweeter and to make them more tender. It had the effect of the scones spreading ever so slightly, but it was worth it. If you want sturdier guys, leave it out. Most scones aren't good the next day, but these are delicious as the banana keeps them moist.

For the scones:
2 c. flour
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 Tb. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 medium ripe (but not mushy) banana, cut into 1/4"dice
3/4 c. + 2 Tb. heavy cream(and more for brushing)
coarse white sanding sugar (optional) 

For the glaze:
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tb. lemon juice
1 Tb. butter, softened
pinch kosher salt

Heat oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, lemon zest, and salt. With your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until a few pea-sized lumps remain. Stir in the banana. Add the cream, and with a fork, gradually stir until the mixture just comes together.

Turn the dough onto a lighly floured surface and pat into a 7" circle about 1" high. Using a chef's knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges. Transfer to the baking sheet, spacing the wedges 1-2" apart. Brush the tops with heavy cream and sprinkle liberally with sanding sugar (if using).

Bake until tops are golden, about 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway through baking for even browning. Transfer scones to a wire rack and cook slightly, 3 or 4 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir the powdered sugar, lemon juice, butter, and salt until smooth. Drizzle the warm scones with the glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Parmesan and Lemon Slaw

lemony slaw

I had an almost perfect week. Summer has really started around here. Camping with Bethany and Chris at Deception Pass, staying on a gorgeous Whidbey Island beach with my parents, sister, niece, and nephew. We encrusted all our earthly possessions with sand, dirt, and campfire smoke, and consumed at least 1,000 more calories per day than usual.

mutiny bay sunset

I love how filthy the kids get in the summer. Neither Wyatt or Loretta has even a small bit of squeamishness or fastidiousness where dirt and grime are concerned. I have determined never to quit buying baby wipes. They are indispensable for marshmallow-covered faces and righting the wrong of offering Cheetos on a car trip. (What mothers do that?! They must be crazy.)

One of my favorite hours was the one spent doing laps on Chris' Korean bike. Chris picked up a "camping bike," as he calls it, a three-seater which an adult pedals while schlepping two smaller people. It even FOLDS. I must have done a dozen laps around the campground with Loretta and Pippa, who kept saying "One more! One more!" Every camper we passed smiled, waved, or commented on the bike, and I felt so happy to be part of our threesome, taking delight in repetition, in their small hands around my waist.

camping bike

Speaking of repetition (and ungainly segues), I've made this salad a million times since last summer when I saw it on Orangette. It was the first thing gone at our family BBQ this week. Even Wyatt was shoveling it. I think lots of folks expect coleslaw to to be heavy, creamy, maybe even downright unappetizing. Of course, you and I know better. We know about the unsung virtues of cabbage--how it stays crisp and pairs with a surprising amount of flavors, how it's full of fiber and keeps forEVER in the fridge. I often bring this as a side dish to summer potlucks--I can often make it without a trip to the store, which is priceless.

P.S. I can't believe my niece HannahMae will be in kindergarten this fall. Watch out, world. She'll rock it.

hannahmae

Parmesan and Lemon Slaw
This serves six as a side dish--double it for a crowd. Thinly slice 1/2 head of green cabbage--as thin as you can get it with a knife, but not shaved. In a medium bowl, toss the cabbage with 1/2 c. finely grated parmesan, the juice and finely grated zest of one lemon, salt, pepper, a big glug of good olive oil, and finely chopped lemon thyme. Best not to let this sit around a super long time before eating it.

Roasted Potato and Lemon Pizza

potato pizza

At first bite of one of our pizzas, I say, with drama, "Mmm. If I had ordered this pizza in a restaurant, I'd be freaking out right now." At this point, Yancey and Wyatt exchange meaningful glances and sometimes roll their eyes. The funny thing is, every time I say this, I think I'm saying it for the first time. Even after writing this, I'll fall into the same amnesiac rhythm, I'm afraid. (This, by the way, is one of the best reasons to make new friends. They haven't heard all your tired phrases, exclamations, and stories. I exploit this to the fullest.)

But if there was ever a reason to bore my family with repetitious praise, it's this pizza. I really, really, really mean it this time. I do menu-plan, as I've mentioned before. But most the time, if "pizza" appears on my scratch pad, I have no idea what will top it. Enter The Leftoverist. Coming home from LaConner, I found four red potatoes in the vegetable bin. Plus my standard cheese drawer, the herbs outside my back door, and whatever lemon I can find knocking around. It's an emergency with a capital "E" if I run out of lemons or limes around here. Code Red. Get to MacPherson's immediately.

Here's to new friends, old friends (please--laugh at the same old jokes occasionally to keep us around), summertime, and scrounging in the fridge.

Roasted Potato and Lemon Pizza
Remember--this pizza crust I'm directing you to makes enough for one standard jelly roll/cookie sheet PLUS a smaller quarter sheet. So you'll have some dough left over.

Recipe and instructions for this pizza dough

4 medium red potatoes, sliced as thin as you can--or about 1.5 c. of 1/8" thick slices
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
olive oil
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced (I used a mandoline)
1 c. shredded whole milk mozzarella
1 c. shredded parmesan
handful fresh lemon thyme, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 425. Toss potato slices, garlic, and onion with a big glug of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roast potato mixture until everything is just tender, about 25 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Turn oven up to 500. Press dough into your baking sheet/jelly roll pan, and scatter mozzarella over. Top with roasted potato mixture, sliced lemons, then parmesan. Bake until crust is golden and top is bubbly, about 15 minutes. (Make sure bottom of crust is golden--might be 5 more minutes depending on your oven.)

After you take it out of the oven, sprinkle the fresh thyme and a fresh grinding of pepper.

Pimm's Cup

pimms cup

Clearly, I'm trying to extend our vacation. Pimm's Cup on a weeknight. More than one glass of it, too.

Yancey and I had a Pimm's Cup last week at the White Horse Trading Company in Post Alley. It's the sweetest, coziest, little pub, only open at night, and we've peered in there a million times, always meaning to go. We had been out for a delicious dinner, walking all night, and were back at the anniversary hotel room, eyes half-closed, when Yancey said, "We have to go to White Horse. Let's rally." It's incredibly hard to leave a Pokemon-free, clean room with the potential of room service. And The Food Network. But I rallied, and that turned out to be a wise choice. We cozied up to the bar, and I got their delicious version of this vintage drink, made with five kinds of wine, brown sugar, and fresh lemon juice. When the bartender learned it was our anniversary, he set a chocolate truffle in front of me and poured he and Yancey shots of sake. Yancey and I watched the probable first dates around us, wished them well, and were glad not to be enduring all the requisite angst. Give me soggy Pokemon cards and fights about laundry piles anyday.

This version is made with Pimm's Cup (available at your local liquor store), simple syrup, lemon juice, and lots of other aromatics. It is a Superstar Summer Refresher. One of the best I've ever had. Kind of a musky, more intriguing sangria, a drink that will make you feel like wearing your most floppy straw hat and learning to play bridge. Or maybe it will be just enough to get you off the couch, turning off Food Network, and having a little celebration of your own.

Pimm's Cup

Makes 4-6 drinks. The essentials here are the liquor, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Everything else is optional, though it looks so gloriously over-the-top all soaking together in the pitcher. I let it sit for less than an hour because I was impatient, but the original recipe on Epicurious says to let it sit for 1-3 hours. I imagine the all the floaty things would be more important in that case. I found this amount of sugar to be just right, but you can certainly decrease it to your taste.

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
2 c. Pimm's No. 1 (a blend of gin, liqueurs, and fruit extracts)
1 c. fresh lemon juice
1 thinly sliced lemon
1 orange, halved, and thinly sliced
1 6" long piece cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds
1 3" long piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced into coins
1/4 c. fresh mint leaves
club soda
ice cubes

Stir sugar and 1/2 c. water in saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Combine Pimm's and next six ingredients in a large pitcher. Mix in sugar syrup, mashing slightly to release flavors. Cover; chill at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

Fill glass with ice, then cocktail, leaving an inch at the top for club soda. Top with a splash (I don't like too much--just enough to make it fizzy).