I am honored to know and call Aleksandra a friend, she is the author of the gorgeous blog Three Little Halves. I met her several years ago on Food52 and was immediately mesmerized by her delicious recipes and then I saw her blog and was literally blown away with the beauty and artistry of her photographs and illustrations, her writing is lyrical and engaging and speaks of family and history and travel and her recipes are delicious and creative and literally make you want to make them immediately. Read a little about her accomplishments, she is a James Beard Foundation nominee, her blog was a finalist for Savueur Magazines Blog awards, her blog is named as one of the top 100 for 2015 by Inspired. She has also won many contests on Food52 and has numerous Wildcard Wins and Community Picks. Oh, yes, I also should add that she is a brilliant Scientist by avocation. This uber talented and accomplished woman is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, and before I introduce Aleksandra, Queen Sashy, I want to thank her for being so kind and I am humbled and grateful for her friendship and support. I also want to thank her for making this cake, a nod to my recipe, which she made her own and took to another level with her wonderful additions and photographs.
Everyone meet Aleksandra…
It gives me a great pleasure to contribute this post to Suzanne’s blog…
Four years ago, I stumbled upon a gorgeous photo of plum and mozzarella salad on Pinterest, or maybe it was on Facebook, I do not quite remember anymore. It took me to a place called Food52 – an awesome little corner of the Internet where home cooks got together to exchange recipes, chit-chat, ask questions, debate and learn. And compete — that’s the part they all liked a lot! I joined and Food52 became my virtual playground, a kitchen family so to speak. As it happens most of the time in the world of the World Wide Web, one does not get to see one’s cyberspace buddies, just their avatars — oftentimes their pets or plants they like to grow — and one gets to know them by their semi-real names (meet emilyC and drbabs), the causes they champion (hello healthierkitchen and Greenstuff), their favorite foods (nice to meet you Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast, sexyLAMBCHOPx and gingeroot), or what they excel at (yup, that’s boulangere). I often catch myself trying to imagine how my kitchen comrades look, wondering who they are in real life, what they do, or what kind of person they might be. Sometimes, their comments and answers on the hotline add a trickle of information. Some folks are chatty, some are serious and to the point. There are the funny ones, the polite ones and the fact checkers. Those who like to brag a little, and those who know what they are talking about. The opinionated, the passionate, the informed… And the ones with a big heart. That’s about the first thing that comes to mind when you meet sdebrango on Food52. The ones with a really, really, really BIG heart. That’s about the first thing that comes to mind when you meet Suzanne in real life.
Suzanne does not brag and it might take a thing or two — a glimpse at her profile, a walk through her recipes, a tour of her blog — to realize what an extraordinary cook she is. She is the kind of cook you trust, the kind of cook you would like to have cooking for you every single day. Suzanne’s recipes are about honoring good food and good ingredients, and about feeling good. I had the privilege to cook for Suzanne when she organized Food52 potlucks in her Brooklyn home — it’s a privilege and responsibility, because you know you are cooking for a mighty good cook. Writing a guest post for Suzanne’s blog kind of makes you feel the same, and when she asked me to contribute, I caught myself wondering. What to cook? Which recipe to share? One of my favorite Food52 recipes is Suzanne’s citrus and semolina olive oil cake; it’s a poor man’s dessert one might find somewhere on the Mediterranean coast, a simple thing, yet a slice of it feels like a piece of sunshine on the plate. I made the cake many times, citruses and olive oil are a combination I love, so perhaps, I thought, a tiny tribute to it, an homage so to say, would be a way to give back and honor a great recipe, a magnificent cook, and most of all, a wonderful person.
Meyer Lemon, Cornmeal and Olive Oil Cake with Rosemary Glaze
This cake will really benefit from a good olive oil and Meyer lemons. Needles to say, when Meyers are not in season, you can always use plain good old lemons. I also like to play with different combinations of citruses and herbs, such as grapefruit and mint, lime and lemon thyme, and orange and lemon verbena.
for the cake
* 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
* 1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal flour (I used Bob Red Mills)
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp kosher salt
* 3 large eggs
* 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt
* 3/4 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* zest of two Meyer lemons
* 3/4 cup lemon juice (juice of two Meyer lemons)
* a little bit of butter and extra flour for greasing and flouring the pan
for the glaze
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 1 cup water
* 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
* 9 x 5 inch loaf pan
Heat the oven to 325F convection (350F regular).
In a bowl mix together all purpose flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs gently.
In a large bowl mix yogurt, olive oil, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the eggs to the yogurt mixture and stir until combined. Add the dry ingredients into the mixture, and stir gently, until fully combined. Be careful not to overwork the batter.
Grease and flour the pan. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 50 minutes, until cake is golden and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave the cake in the pan for about 15 minutes, and then take it out and place on a serving plate.
While the cake is in the oven, make the glaze. Combine water, sugar and rosemary in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and let it stand, covered, for about 30 minutes to an hour.
While the cake is still warm, pour the glaze all over it. Wait for a while until the cake absorbs the syrup and repeat once more. (You will have some extra syrup left.) Serve the cake warm, at room temperature or cold, with the remaining syrup on the side.