I love going to the markets and seeing the spring and summer produce slowly appear. Every year, when summer turns to winter, I miss the abundance of fruit and vegetables that are in their prime but after a few months, it’s easy to forget what a good tomato looks like. Now that peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes are back and super cheap, I feel like my dinners would be lost without them. While there is nothing better or fresher-tasting than crunching into a whole red pepper or a lightly salted tomato sometimes it’s nice to have a warm, hearty meal. In fact, there’s nothing more satisfying than applying a little bit of heat, some herbs and spices, and coaxing the best, freshest produce into an easy, weeknight dinner in under half an hour. That’s exactly what this spring ratatouille is.
A few days ago I was scouring Lady and Pups’ website for recipes that use black sesame. For some reason a recipe of homemade wontons swimming in this peanut sauce came up, and I knew that I had to make it immediately (the black sesame creation will be coming soon!). Not only did the peanut sauce look amazing, but I’ve had a bag of peanuts sitting on my shelf for months now. We’re moving soon and I am trying to get through all of the dry ingredients that I have stockpiled over the months (same reason that I was looking for a black sesame recipe!). Out of all of the nuts that we go through on a consistent basis, peanuts is not one of them and I couldn’t think of any better way to use them up.
I acknowledge that this is the second loaf cake that I have posted here in less than a month. The last one, a pear and dark chocolate gem, is perfect as a special occasion treat. While it might look understated, it is a knockout filled with chunks of dark chocolate nestled in a brown butter cake batter. This blackberry apple cake, on the other hand, is for snacking. It’s amazing how two cakes that look so similar can be made up of such different ingredients. While I certainly love making indulgent desserts every once in a while, it’s way more essential for me to have somewhat healthy, homemade snacks that I can eat throughout the day. Every day between meals, I may eat some pickles, nuts, or squares of dark chocolate (sometimes all within the same snacking session). But, the best weeks are when I have prepared something like this blackberry apple snacking cake. It’s a perfect sweet treat that feels extra special and indulgent but that I know is actually made up of pretty great ingredients.
This past week, I got married. It was last minute and unceremonious but I wanted to mark the day with some cake. Many years ago, when my partner worked at a German bakery, he loved a pear and chocolate cake that they made. For someone who claims not to like cake, this is a big deal. So, when I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen (probably 5 years ago), I thought it looked very promising. I think at the time, I couldn’t make it right away because it is one of those recipes that really requires an electronic mixer, so I was patient, and came back to it after I finally got a handheld electric whisk. All of these years later, it’s one of the most delicious cakes that I have made. So, when I saw that I had some overripe pears, I knew immediately what cake I wanted to make.