Tuesday, September 18, 2012

movin' to wordpress

hi, friends! 

i started my blog up on a new site! 

check it out: http://zeitouna.wordpress.com/ 


Sunday, September 9, 2012

prune plum cake

it’s september and portland has been my home for precisely two years

when i first moved here i did a lot of wandering. i remember pausing in front of houses for what felt like hours, dumbfounded at rosemary bushes the size of living room chairs, magenta dahlias, fig trees, lavender, artichoke

i still stop every time i see mount hood,

i can’t help it.

a few days ago, on my walk home from a trip to the grocery store, i noticed an italian prune plum tree in front of a small home. there was a sign out front, “for sale.” i couldn’t help but think to myself, “i want those plums,” quickly rationalizing my desire to steal by saying, “who is going to harvest this poor plum tree? what’s gonna happen to all the fruit? what’s gonna happen to the tree?!”

so the next night, i put on my cape and filled my bag high


. . .

italian prune plums are one of my favourite end of summer treats. they’re tart and sweet, slightly crunchy, perfect for afternoon snackin’

today, i wanted a little bit more than just a plum, so i turned on the oven, tied my apron and baked my favourite plum cake

billie sang for me

this plum cake recipe comes from a dear family friend, uwe pleban. when i think of uwe, i think of late night economics conversations after family dinner; walking near the river spotting woodland birds; sunday afternoon football games. uwe and his wife, sharbyn are incredible cooks. their home was always so comfortable - toasty with dinner aromas, soft with sunshine, tucked away in the woods. 

so, in celebration of two formative years in the misty pacific northwest, with plum cake in the oven, i’m happy to say that my home, too, feels this way

German Plum Cake
from uwe pleban, originally from his mother's dr. oetker kochbuch from the 1950’s

for the dough, you’ll need:

one stick plus one tablespoons butter (room temperature)
150 grams sugar (about 6 heaping tablespoons)
one half teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
pinch of salt
500 grams flour (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ to 1 cup of milk (the amount depends on a number of factors discussed later)

for the fruit topping, you’ll need:
2-3 pounds prune plums (only prune plums will work, other plums will make a mess in the oven)

beat the butter until it is smooth, then gradually add the sugar and salt.  

add the eggs one egg at the time

sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl

add a few tablespoons of the sifted flour to the batter, then some milk, and keep alternating, ending with the flour. the batter should "tear" from the wooden spoon; if it "drips", there is too much liquid, and more flour should be added. the last two rounds of stirring the batter will require a lot of muscle power, since the batter will be stiff.

butter a baking sheet (i use a rectangular pyrex baking dish). spread the batter evenly over the sheet.

preheat the oven to 375 F

preparing the plums
cut prune plums open enough so that you can remove the pit. Spread each plum and place it in the batter in rows. the rows will be close together. the plums should be at an angle such that the interior light colored side faces upward.

bake for about forty minutes

after the cake has cooled, optionally sprinkle confectioners sugar over it

serve it warm with,

whipping cream
1 ½ pint heavy whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
whip with a hand held electric mixer until soft peaks form

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

last minute grilled jerk chicken

this past week i had an unexpected, late august visit to michigan.

it left me happier than any previous time i’ve wandered home

for many reasons, this time around, love seemed undeniable.

let’s be honest, look at this place
photographs from my uncle ron’s film minolta

so after a week of sticky heat and late night swims, track walkin’ and singin’ old tunes, i’ve found myself right where i need to be. 

from one home to the other.

going and coming made me realize that summer in portland is, indeed, all that everyone has ever told me it is:
hot, but not arid, not humid, just nice.

windy, sunny, vibrant, blue


to celebrate my labors, and the labors of others, yesterday the grill got pulled out. the charcoal lit. chicken marinated.

there are a few things in this world i wouldn’t want to live without:

so last night, we made jamaican jerk chicken (stewed black beans and rice, grilled zucchini and poblano peppers and corn)

quick note before i share this recipe:

when i was in high school, a friend of mine and her mother shared a few journeys to jamaica with me. needless to say, these times were not only beautiful, but extremely engaging and educational. during those days, in total they amount to twenty or so, i learned about people. and by people i mean mankind, existence. some of the most wholesome people in the world taught me there. reading the book of job on benches. walking beneath mango trees into the homes of loved ones. so as i was laying down this meat on the grill yesterday, the aromas of molasses and allspice in the smoke, i couldn’t help but think of this:


jamaican jerk chicken
compliments of the worldwide web with my personal adaptations (in bold)

1 (5 or 6 pound) roasting chicken, cut in half, lengthwise

½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brandy
2 habaneros, with seeds, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 green onion tops, chopped
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons ground allspice
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons molasses

½ cup lime juice
salt and pepper

i. go to the butcher, purchase a 4-5 lb chicken, have them cut it in half for you

ii. at home, prepare all the ingredients through molasses. combine in a blender and blend until mixture is nearly smooth.

iii. taste it. i added about 2 tablespoons of red wine (shiraz-cab blend), just because. it helped deepen the smokiness of the spices and enhance the sweetness. of course, this is optional.

iv. in a plastic container, or bowl, whatever is most convenient, place your chicken down and cover with the lime juice. now bathe them in your jerk sauce. set aside.

ideally, this should marinate overnight. my roommate and i made it on a whim, marinated it for about an hour and a half, and i was still delicious and tender.

v. heat your coals on the grill, or turn your fancy gas grill to medium. when it’s all ready, lay the chicken down.

 this is the part where you just have to watch and wait and kind of play it by ear. after about ten minutes, i flipped the chicken. then after another 10 or fifteen minutes i flipped it again. the outside of the meat, skin included, will be very crispy and charred. i’d say in total, it will take about thirty to forty minutes over medium-high heat on a coal grill. for more specific grilling instructions, refer to the recipe i posted beneath the title, girl knows what she’s doin'.

so what's on the cart, sides n' all?

top left: grilled vegetables quarter 4 zucchini and 3 poblanos (removing stems and seeds). half 8-10 pearl onions. toss with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. grill in a basket pan over medium-low heat until they're cooked to your liking.

bottom left: stewed black beans over medium heat, 3 cans of black beans (omitting juices from one can), 4 minced garlic cloves, ground nutmeg, ground black pepper, salt, cinnamon, red wine, whole cayenne peppers, 3 bay leaves. simmer for an hour. add more spices to taste.

bottom right: white rice. cook how you like to, using chicken stock as opposed to water. 

top right: but of course, jerk chicken. as prepared using recipe above.