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As I Am | Apple Galette

As I Am | Apple Galette

Apple Galette | Delightful Crumb
It’s safe to say that every time I have a dinner party, I want to write about it here. And it makes sense, right? I love cooking for myself, and for me and Ben, but there’s something special, something entirely distinct, that happens when you sit down at home with a bunch of people you love over a generous meal and the conversation and wine flow in equal measure and you rise from the table feeling a little more hopeful than before, a little more prepared to face the day ahead. So I’m going to talk about this latest dinner party. If I keep this up, I can give it a name: dinner party dispatches, perhaps…? I’ll try to think of something clever.

It’s becoming a bit of a tradition, these ladies-only dinner parties when Ben is out of town. This time, even though it was blazing hot, I stuck with the early autumn dinner I’d planned, starting with baked feta and figs, roasted Italian peppers, and the tiniest, most beautiful multicolored cauliflowers boiled simply. We drank fresh pink bubbles from the Loire, then moved to a Falanghina from Campania that my friend Erin brought (label owned by another cool lady I know, a perfect fit!).

Over kabocha squash risotto and a big salad, the conversation moved from one topic to the next. We talked about the presidential debates and falling in love and siblings and divorce and paths not taken and work and everything in between. At one point, my friend Annie told a story about a complicated situation she’s navigating that elicited an oh my gosh me too response from someone else at the table. It was so good to be there, in that space where no one was alone.

We finished the night with big slices of apple galette topped with cinnamon whipped cream and splashes of Amaro alongside. Even with all the fans running, wearing summer dress and no shoes, it felt like a most fitting welcome to fall.

Later, when everyone was gone and the dishes were done, I dropped the jar of arborio rice that I was carrying to the pantry, and it shattered all over the floor, grains of rice mixed with shards of glass. On a bad day, this might drive me to tears. But not that night. I turned on the lights and swept up the mess as Joni Mitchell’s Blue turned on the record player for the second (third?) time that night, then I poured myself a glass of wine and sat on the couch, feeling that elusive sense of peace.

Do you know Joni Mitchell’s song “California”? It’s on the aforementioned album. (And yes, this is the album that the inimitable Emma Thompson’s character receives from her husband in the movie Love Actually, the gift that tips her off to the fact that her husband is cheating on her with a younger woman, and she plays the CD in her bedroom, crying, as her children get ready for their Christmas pageant, and she wipes her tears and marches on in a blue dress and red lipstick, and I bawl every time.)

There’s a line in there where Joni sings, “California I’m come home / Oh will you take me as I am.” California isn’t my home home, and though beautiful and nuanced and compelling, the truth is that the Bay Area is as rough around the edges as anywhere I’ve lived. My friends keep moving and the cost of living is out of control and literally every normal life thing feels hard and it all feels a little ridiculous. Yet it is home, for now. And sometimes, when I’m surrounded by friends I met through a combination of jobs and surprising connections and sorrow and serendipity, I think that it really did take me as I am, and it’s given me so much to learn from and so many interesting people to love. At the end of the day, that’s about all a girl can ask for.

Especially when there’s whipped cream, too.

Apple Galette | Delightful Crumb

Apple Galette

Barely adapted from Luisa Weiss’ My Berlin Kitchen

Luisa explains that this galette is the one Alice Waters has kept on the Chez Panisse menu for years, introduced to her by Jacques Pépin before that. It’s incredibly simple, in the best of ways. I recommend serving it with whipped cream, perhaps spiked with a bit of cinnamon. Ice cream or crème frâiche would do nicely as well.


1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

About 3 1/2 tablespoons cold water


2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced (reserve the peels and cores)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 tablespoons sugar


1/2 cup sugar


Whipped cream, lightly sweetened and spiked with a tiny dash of ground cinnamon

To make the dough, put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse just a few times, until the pieces of butter are the size of lima beans. (If you don’t have a food processor, do this in a large bowl with two butter knives.)

Drizzle in up to 3 1/2 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing or stirring after each addition, until the dough just holds together. You might need a little more or less water, depending on your location, the weather, etc.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Gather it together and form it into a 4-inch-wide disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the dough from the fridge and unwrap it. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out with a rolling pin, turning it over frequently so that it doesn’t stick and dusting with more flour as needed. Continue until the dough is about 14 inches in diameter and about 1/8-inch thick.

Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Arrange the apple slices in very tight overlapping circles on the dough (they will cook down and sink apart while cooking, so fill the space generously), leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the edges of the dough over the apples to create a rustic crust.

Brush the melted butter over the apples and crust, then sprinkle the sugar generously over the entire tart.

Bake for about 45 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the crust is a deep golden brown and apples are soft and very dark on their edges.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Put the reserved apple peels and cores in a saucepan with the sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover, then bring to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid, discarding the peels and cores, and then return the liquid to the pan. Bring to a low boil and cook until thickened, syrupy and reduced, about 15 minutes.

When the tart is finished, pull the parchment and the tart from the sheet onto a cooling rack. After 15 minutes, brush the apple glaze over the apples (it might take a few rounds of brushing to use up the glaze, and you might have a bit leftover, which is fine because it is divine drizzled over yogurt). Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably with some cinnamon-spiked, lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Apple Galette | Delightful Crumb

So Much More | Melon, Cucumber & Fig Salad

So Much More | Melon, Cucumber & Fig Salad

Melon, Cucumber & Fig Salad | Delightful Crumb

Summer is for salads, as you know, and blue skies and bare feet and rosé and all the rest. And every year I say that summer isn’t over until it’s over, which might have something to do with being married to a teacher who is back in the thick of things even though it’s still August and there are still so many tomatoes to be eaten. But I’m actually feeling ready for fall this year, thanks to cooler temperatures and the very autumnal-tasting early season apple I bought at the farmers market this weekend and a general readiness for the sort of depth of spirit that comes with less-sunny seasons. Yet I know I’ll miss the warmth soon enough, and I definitely have a few more desserts to make before the berries and peaches and nectarines leave the market, so I’m soaking it in.

Seasons are just science: an outcome of the tilt of the rotational axis of this strange spinning globe we call home and its relation to the burning ball of fire way out there in space that keeps us warm. But that’s not what we think about when summer turns to fall. We think instead of changing temperatures and precipitation and the color of the leaves and the sun or lack thereof. And those are just the obvious things—the seasons are also about much more, their other effects far less tangible or scientific. They’re intricately connected to our rhythms and routines and traditions, and my emotions get muddled into them, too.

I realized this summer that I’ve had a run of weird Augusts, not the least of which was last year’s, and this one has been notably not weird, void of the sort of transitions I’ve come to expect at this time of year. But I have that familiar feeling in my bones anyway—that anything could happen next, that the leaves are going to turn so very soon and life will keep changing and changing and changing as it always does. The other day, as I walked down to the coffee shop for a mid-day break, the air felt sparkling and electric, reverberating with anticipation and hope, reminding me of Augusts past. Because as much as those times were full of strangeness and confusion and even pain, they were also brimming with a sense of newness and hope and possibility.

I guess I’m always looking for connection, which is what I love about food blogs, when it comes right down to it, and why I write the way I do. I remember exactly what I thought when I first discovered people writing about food on the internet way back in 2008: These people are writing about food—I love food! But it’s not just food… They’re writing about food to talk about life. That’s exactly how I see the world, where my big thoughts come from: through the lens of all the seemingly boring, everyday stuff.

This is also why I love podcasts, especially the ones that are “about” science, the internet, mysteries, life in America but are actually about so much more—about everything, really. I am currently obsessed with Starlee Kine’s Mystery Show, in which Starlee solves mysteries…and also asks everyday people interesting questions that reflect an actual interest in their lives and lead to fascinating and thought-provoking and sweet conversations, the kind that make me cry while stretching after a run or walking back from the market or hand washing my most annoyingly delicate clothes in the sink—you know, living my super normal life.

Which brings us back to food. In my super normal life, I do a lot of eating, and it’s the best simple joy I know. Because it really doesn’t have to be complicated to be good, especially in the summertime, when so much beautiful produce is at hand. Take melons. I spent my entire childhood entirely unimpressed with all melons except the watermelon, but I’ve since learned that they’re really quite delicious, especially the more interesting varieties that are increasingly easy to find, like Piel de Sapo (my very favorite) and Charentais (in the photo above). I’m most impressed when I take them in a savory direction, and composed salads are as easy and good as it gets.

This is my favorite. It’s just a salad.

But if you like, it can be an awful lot more.

That part is up to you.

Melon, Cucumber & Fig Salad

Serves 2 to 4

1 small melon (I like Charentais and Piel de Sapo), peeled, halved, seeds scooped and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges

1 small or 1/2 large cucumber, or 2 – 3 Lemon cucumbers, halved lengthwise, then sliced thinly into half moons

3 – 5 fresh figs, quartered

Good olive oil

Fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar

Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved

Several leaves of basil, cut in a chiffonade (i.e., ribbons)

Aleppo, Marash or Urfa pepper (optional)

Freshly cracked black pepper

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

On a large plate or platter, assemble the melon, cucumber and figs in layers. Drizzle generously with olive oil and lemon juice or red wine vinegar. Finish with as much thinly shaved Parmesan and basil as you like, Aleppo (or other) pepper if using, cracked black pepper and flaky salt.

Peach Cobbler and Other Summer Things

Peach Cobbler and Other Summer Things

Peach Scone Cobbler | Delightful CrumbFlipping through Nigel Slater’s Ripe is a regular pastime of mine when any new fruit hits the market—especially during summertime, when the varieties seem infinite. It’s not that I’m at a loss of what to do. On the contrary, I’m very happy eating peaches out of hand over the sink, believe a fig is best alongside some crumbled goat cheese drizzled with honey and nothing more, prefer melons as salad and never, ever tire of adorning bowls of yogurt with whatever pretty fruit I just carried carefully home from the market. There are endless things to do with summer fruit, not the least of which is just eating it, day after day, moving from one variety to another and back again. I’ve never understood those recipes that begin with a proclamation that the author has arrived, a long-awaited savior, to help me figure out what on earth to do with that huge haul of cherries or blueberries I just brought home. Who do they think I am? What’s the average income of Bon Appétit readers, anyway? I certainly wish this sort of thing was a huge problem for me, but I can assure you it is not, and I highly doubt I’m alone.

So no, I’m not bored or confused by perfect summer fruit. Rather, it’s that as much as I enjoy it as is, I also adore how it can be transformed into crisps and crumbles and cobblers and cakes and pies and so much more. Nigel Slater is about the best inspiration one can get on this front, offering plenty of charming little observations about his garden alongside recipes that are perfect in their simplicity and always highlight the fruit itself—exactly what’s required on a beautiful summer day when the park beckons as fervently as the fresh peaches on your counter.

And so there I was, paging through the peach chapter while eating my breakfast one mid-July morning, when I saw the words “scone crust” and came to a full stop. I’m in. I love a good scone, and the idea of putting several atop a slumping mass of baked fruit sounded like the sort of thing that would be right up my alley. In case this is your thing, too, and you’re willing to spare a few pieces of fruit in the interest of dessert, I offer it here.

I should note that this cobbler is just barely sweet, which I like very much, and which makes it an ideal and even virtuous breakfast when adorned with a dollop of yogurt. However, if you’re looking for something more indulgent, add a scoop of ice cream, or an extra tablespoon or two of sugar along the way. Or, frankly, feel free to move along, as there are plenty of fish in the sea, as they say, and summer’s fruit is fleeting!

Peach Scone Cobbler | Delightful CrumbPeach Cobbler with Scone Crust

Adapted from Nigel Slater’s Ripe

This recipe is really more of a loose formula—keep that in mind as you go. Swap in other fruit, or play around with the flours. Add more sugar if you like. Serve with vanilla ice cream, plain yogurt or mascarpone.

Enough for about 6


1 1/4 cups (150 g) all-purpose flour, or 100 g all-purpose flour + 50 g rye flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon cane sugar

5 tablespoons (80 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces


2/3 cup sour cream


4 medium or 5 small peaches

A handful of blueberries

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon cane sugar, plus additional

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a food processor, combine the flour(s), baking powder, sugar, butter and a big pinch of salt. Blitz briefly, until the mixture resembles soft breadcrumbs. Tip into a bowl.

Slice the peaches, removing the pits and dropping the fruit (and any juices) into an ovenproof dish (a 9-inch pie plate will work well). Add the blueberries, lemon juice, sugar and flour. Toss to combine.

Mix the sour cream into the crumb mixture to make a soft dough. Break off walnut-sized pieces, flatten them slightly and set them on top of the fruit. Dust the rounds generously with sugar. Bake the cobbler for 25 minutes, until the scone topping is golden and the fruit is bubbling.

Summery Nasturtium Salad

Summery Nasturtium Salad

Nasturtium Salad | Delightful CrumbHappy summer, folks! The light is lingering late into the evening, and there’s produce aplenty at the market. This is the time for easy dinners, big salads and rosé, and I’m all the more energized about the season after visiting my family in Michigan—there is no summer quite like a Michigan summer. My parents have a beautiful backyard and a deck that’s perfect for lingering, where you can draw out meals for as many hours as is reasonable, which in my mind is many. We ate salads and spring toasts, homemade sushi and paella, this almond cake and Yossy’s rhubarb rye upside-down cake—and much more, always lingering.

While I was at my parents’ house, my mom mentioned that her nasturtium plant had a few flowers that someone could throw on a salad if so inclined. Since I learned my nasturtium-plant eating from my pal Kimberley, I knew only what she taught me, which is that you can eat it all—flowers, leaves, a bit of stem if it gets in the bowl. I asked before I picked, of course, but I did surprise the table a bit with the plant-on-a-platter at the dinner table. Nasturtium leaves are peppery and bright, and, along with making for a lovely presentation, the flowers have a little sweetness.

I don’t know what percentage of the population this might apply to, but if you have a nasturtium plant that you just can’t keep in check, this is just the recipe for you! Even if you have a more modestly, prettily producing nasturtium plant, this makes a nice little salad for two. Throw in some spinach or arugula if you’d like to take it further. And even if neither situation applies to you, the dressing is a simple gem that would be good on anything.

Even though a pretty photo of this recipe graces the cover of Kimberley’s cookbook, without a nasturtium plant at my disposal, I hadn’t really thought about it since the summer I assisted her with the burgeoning book project, three (!) summers ago. And now I really want a nasturtium plant. What’s better than something cute, abundant and good for salad? Not much, if you ask me.

Nasturtium Salad

Adapted from Kimberley Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food

If you don’t have a nasturtium plant at your disposal, substitute arugula, watercress or spinach. Goat cheese would stand in well here, too, if you prefer it to blue and feta.

Serves 2 to 4

1 1/2 teaspoons champagne vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallot

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt

freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted

4 cups firmly packed nasturtium leaves

2 small pluots or apricots, or 4 dates, pitted and sliced lengthwise

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta

Petals from 4 or 5 nasturtium flowers

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl or jar, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, honey and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the nasturtium leaves with the vinaigrette, then arrange on a platter or in a serving bowl. Top with the sunflower seeds, fruit slices, cheese and nasturtium petals.

Ludington pier | Delightful Crumb

Lake Michigan sunset | Delightful Crumb

Being Here | Spring Pea & Ricotta Toasts

Being Here | Spring Pea & Ricotta Toasts

Spring Pea & Ricotta Toast | Delightful CrumbSeveral weeks ago, I hosted a festive spring dinner party. Ben was out of town, and I wanted to take advantage of having the apartment to myself (with, you know, something more substantive than several solo glasses of wine and a Gilmore Girls marathon). I invited a bunch of my favorite women, and the ones who could make it did, a serendipitous group. I made a big batch of a spritz in punch form, and picked up a magnum of a favorite wine, a fresh Cab Fanc called Herluberlu. The meal was springtime perfection: chilled avocado soup, tortilla española, pea and ricotta crostini, a huge salad with radishes and toasted almonds and a mustardy vinaigrette. I baked a simple cake filled with a reasonable quantity of jam and an inordinate amount of whipped cream, which spilled out the sides and onto the cake plate in billowing waves. It seemed like too much cream but wasn’t, of course, and I was reminded how good it is to have girlfriends who eat.

My friends gathered in the kitchen and drank punch and ate cheese and chatted while I finished the salad and escaped to the other room to stand on a chair and take a picture of these toasts. Then we sat at the table and stayed for hours, talking and laughing and reaching for seconds.

It was glorious. It was a Tuesday. I felt so alive.

In How to Be Here, Rob Bell writes this:

You and I were raised in a modern world that taught us how to work hard and be productive and show up on time and give it our best…

We learned lots of very valuable skills, but we weren’t taught how to be here, how to be fully present in this moment, how to not be distracted or stressed or worried or anxious, but just be here, and nowhere else—wide awake to the infinite depth and dimension of this exact moment.

It’s not easy, of course. But I feel more hopeful after nights like that one in April, when I actually was in the moment without even trying, even though I hadn’t tidied up the apartment all that much, even though I was still finishing the meal as everyone walked in the door, even though that night’s attempt at a Spanish tortilla fell into the category of very, very rustic.

Sometimes I try so hard—at peace, presence, living well, etc.—that my effort, unconsciously, becomes the point. And yet, by some wild grace, I’m occasionally handed these rare, shining moments when, without even an ounce of effort, my mind stops working in overdrive and I’m reminded that I’m here and it’s good and that’s actually enough.

Says Rob:

This exact interrelated web of people and events and places and memories and desire and love that is your life hasn’t ever existed in the history of the universe.

Welcome to a truly unique phenomenon.

Welcome to the most thrilling thing you will ever do.

The everyday stuff of working hard and doing the laundry and running errands and taking care of our partners/babies/parents and exercising and wrestling with the big questions and dreaming and gathering at the table with the people we love—this is it. This is the story. So let’s dig in and bear witness and do our very best to not miss a thing.

I can tell you this: putting tasty ingredients on good bread, well toasted, results in something that is far more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes, it really is that simple. This may be the only shortcut I know, but thankfully it is a delicious one. Here is my favorite springtime rendition.

Spring Pea & Ricotta Toast | Delightful Crumb

Spring Pea & Ricotta Toast

Serves 4 – 6 as an appetizer or part of a meal

About 2 pounds English peas, shelled

1 lemon

Extra-virgin olive oil


Freshly cracked pepper

1 1/2 cup (about 12 ounces) fresh ricotta

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 stalk green garlic, thinly sliced (if available)

1 small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked and cut in a chiffonade

Sourdough or country bread, cut into 1-inch slices

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the peas. Cook for about one minute, until the peas are bright green, then drain and allow to cool slightly.

Zest about half of the lemon and stir it into the ricotta along with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Put the cooked peas into a medium bowl. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil, the juice of the lemon and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then gently mash the peas with a fork or potato masher. You want to have a variety of textures, with some whole peas, some quite mashed and others in between. Add the green onion, green garlic (if using) and most of the mint, then mix again. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Toast the bread in a 400 degree oven, checking every 5 minutes and flipping at least once. When the slices are well toasted, remove them from the oven. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, tossing with your hands.

To assemble the toasts, put a big dollop of the ricotta mixture on each piece of bread, spreading it thickly to the edges. Top with the pea mixture and finish with extra mint, flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.