Food & Drink

Olive Oil Cake with Compote

by Anh-Minh on February 13, 2015

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I woke up this morning to news story after news story about the last-minute Valentine’s Day rush to buy things. But I didn’t pay much attention because I knew I had this ace up my sleeve: Melina Hammer‘s latest recipe for Anthology. Staying in and enjoying a slice (or two) of this cake and compote sounds like a great way to spend any Saturday night. —Anh-Minh

This story is for lovers of all kinds. Valentine’s Day is literally right around the corner, and last time I checked, everyone loves cake.

For Valentine’s a year ago, I went over the top and re-created the cake I ate at my wedding. It was worth the effort, and totally delicious. This year, I decided on something less over the top by all appearances, which also happens to be considerably less effort. There is no chocolate to be seen—and I’m a chocolate girl—but this cake is completely, utterly satisfying. And did I mention, it’s a feast for the eyes, too?

I’ve been wanting to make an olive oil cake for a while. Versions I sampled over the years, with their endless moist crumbs, solidified olive oil cake on the bucket list. In choosing to make this cake for my Valentine’s feature, I considered a few things:

  1. If you’re jaded by past loves, you can make the smaller cake for yourself. And for friends if you’re willing to share once you’ve sampled your amazing creation.
  2. If you are coupled and want something totally lovely, you can choose to make the larger cake and gorge on it together over the coming days. (Maybe in bed!)
  3. If you just love LOVE, make both. Because, there’s always someone who could use a little cake. Sharing the love by sharing this cake will endear you to many, and for all the right reasons.

I made a large cake and a smaller one. I have two sets of friends expecting babies in the next week or so, and homemade food helps make the challenges of a new baby at home a whole lot better! Plus, making the cake is super easy. Bizarrely so.

As for the compote, the adorable kumquat gets a sultry blush in the juices of heady blood oranges. A few cardamom pods impart a little extra something special, but if you don’t care for cardamom, you can omit them and not lose the spirit of this not-too-sweet jewel-toned goodness.

Olive Oil Cake with a Kumquat, Cardamom & Blood Orange Compote

Cake recipe adapted from Maialino

Makes one 9-inch and one 7-inch cake. I used springform pans for easier release, and for taller cakes. If you choose to make one cake or the other, and not both, think 2/3 and 1/3 the recipe, proportionately.

for the cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups organic cane sugar
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 2/3 cups good extra virgin olive oil (I used arbequina)
  • 6 pastured eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups pastured whole milk
  • 3 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  • butter, for greasing

for the compote

  • 2 cups kumquats
  • 4 blood oranges, juice and flesh to be used separately
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cardamom pods, bruised with the flat side of a knife
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar

Start the compote a day ahead (so today if you want to make this for Valentine’s Day).

Rinse and scrub the fruit under cold water. Cut off ends from blood oranges. Set orange cut-end down for easy work and slice off the peel and outer membrane, following the curve of the fruit as you slice. Squeeze any juice from ends and peel segments into a small bowl to use for later, then discard. Carefully remove the orange segments—a.k.a. supremes—by slicing along the connective membranes. Do this over the bowl you squeezed the peels into to catch the juices, and squeeze the leftover membrane of its remaining juices before you discard. You should end up with 1/2 cup or so of blood orange juice. Place the supremes in a bowl and set aside.

Slice the kumquats into quarters and remove the seeds. Wrap seeds in a piece of muslin and secure with kitchen twine. Place the kumquats, supremes, muslin-wrapped seed bundle, sugar, lemon juice, and blood orange juice into a saucepan. Give the mixture a stir and bring to a bare simmer over low heat. Cook, covered, on low for a half hour. Remove from heat, then pour into a glass dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight once cooled.

The next day, remove any loose seeds and pithy elements using a small spoon. Empty the fruit-seed-syrup mixture into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Skim any foam which may come to the surface. Bring heat to medium-high, and gently stir as the mixture bubbles, for 5 minutes.

Remove muslin bundle, pressing it gently between two spoons to express any juices (careful, it is hot!). Stir some more as it cooks for another 5 minutes. Return to a rapid boil for a minute or two and then remove from heat. Pour compote into a glass dish and refrigerate once cooled a bit. The compote will thicken as it cools. Refrigerated, the compote will keep for a few months, but it is so good it won’t last that long!

Prepare the cake while the compote cools. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients—zest goes with these—in another large bowl.

Grease the two springform pans and line the bottoms with parchment.

Add dry ingredients gradually to wet and whisk until just incorporated. Pour the batter between the two pans, set onto a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Check the smaller cake for doneness by giving it a jiggle. The center should give a little (similar to cooking custard), while the outer circumference should be deeply golden. Continue to bake if not done, checking back every few minutes. The larger cake will take 15-20 minutes longer. Check for doneness in the same fashion as you did with the smaller cake.

As they each finish baking, cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then slide a thin knife along the circumference of the ring before removing. Cool inverted on a baking tray (so as not to mar the surface) until at room temperature and discard parchment.

Store any leftover cake in a container, between layers of parchment, in the refrigerator. Cake can also be frozen (wrapped tightly in cellophane, then foil, then a resealable bag) for later indulging.

Serve this cake at room temperature in wedges, with a spoonful or two of the luscious compote on top.

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{ Recipes and Photography by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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Aromatic Poached Salmon

by Anh-Minh on January 16, 2015

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I spent the holidays eating foods that sure tasted good, but weren’t exactly good for me. (I can’t resist hush puppies and honey butter!) In the aftermath, I’m happy to add more healthy recipes to my repertoire, like the one Melina Hammer is sharing with us today. —Anh-Minh

Here we are again at the beginning of a new year. For many of us (myself included, this time around) we hope to use this fresh start as a way to refine ourselves and get “back on track” bodily and/or spiritually. This task is especially hard for me, who, as a food photographer, wants nothing more than to indulge the delights of my audience, and share whatever makes us all drool. But I’d like to do that while still maintaining some semblance of personal fitness. (Is it even possible??)

This recipe is about elemental eating. It is about pure flavors: simple things made rich by their intrinsic qualities and the flavorful liquid in which they are gently cooked. And the accent of a terrific aioli, which couldn’t be easier to make. Use the freshest ingredients possible, as their quality will be highlighted in this meal.

Having read this column over the months, and if you’ve ever made any of my recipes—the meat pies, the apple flognarde, the panzanella, or any of the rest of them—you know that I’m very much about good eating. So if the images delight you, know that it is for real. Pull up a chair, cut some veggies, and get set to make this warming, soothing, and yes, superb meal.

Aromatic Poached Salmon

Serves 4

for poaching

  • 4 6-oz pieces of the freshest wild salmon you can find (I used sustainably caught King Salmon; Sockeye, Coho, or Keta Salmon are good choices as well)
  • 3-5 Red Bliss potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
  • 4-6 small carrots, scrubbed and halved or quartered
  • 2 shallots, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 leek, white part only, end trimmed, cut into quarters lengthwise and rinsed of any sand (I used wild leeks which are thinner, and so used 5-7 in this preparation)
  • 4 small cipollini onions, peeled
  • 2-3 fresh bay leaves
  • rind and juice from 1 lemon
  • rind and juice from 1 orange
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable stock

for the aioli

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp salt-packed capers, soaked, rinsed, and chopped
  • good olive oil

Note: Use a pot only large enough to hold the poaching ingredients so that you do not end up with an enormous volume of leftover poaching liquid. That said, the flavorful liquid can be repurposed for soups, and in which to cook beans or rice, etc. (bonus!). Feel free to scale back—or up—the liquids if they do not cover the salmon.

Make the aioli first. Rest a small mixing bowl on tea towel draped over a pot of similar size. This helps the bowl stay put while you use both hands. Whisk together the egg yolk, salt, and garlic. Squeeze in some of the lemon juice and whisk again. In the thinnest stream, drizzle olive oil as you whisk continuously. It will be about 1/4 cup or so that you’ll add. Stop drizzling at intervals to make sure the mixture has emulsified. Keep whisking to emulsify. It should thicken; when ready, the aioli should appear plump. Add chopped capers and whisk again to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Into the poaching pot, add the stock, wine, water, citrus rinds and juice, bay leaves, pepper flakes, salt, and peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Add the potato wedges and shallots, and cook for 3 minutes or so. Add the carrots, leek, and cipollini next. If you were able to find wild leeks, then don’t add them until you add the salmon. They are more delicate and don’t need much time in the hot bath. Allow all to gently simmer for 3 more minutes. Gently add the salmon to the lot, nestling them amidst the other ingredients so that the liquid just covers the fish. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Err on less time in the pot, as you want the salmon to retain its juiciness—medium at most.

To serve, arrange a couple of each the potatoes, shallots, carrots, leeks, and cipollini into wide shallow bowls. Nest the bright, juicy salmon on top and add a spoonful or two of the liquid, along with some freshly cracked pepper. Then, add as much or as little of the aioli as you like. I hungrily dabbed each vegetable and bite of fish into it.

If there are any leftovers, all will keep for one week. Poaching liquid can be frozen; do so in an ice cube tray so you can pull from it only as needed.

Let this New Year be filled with delicious foods which deeply nourish us. Bon Appetit!

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{ Images by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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Three Bean Tuscan Stew

by Anh-Minh on December 5, 2014

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As a special treat during the holiday season, Melina Hammer is not only sharing a delicious recipe with us, but also filling us in on some of her favorite handmade goods. —Anh-Minh

The scene: winter picnic, fireside. Friends, comfort food, and the beautiful objects that enhance our lives.

In sharing this month’s delectable recipe and in the spirit of the giving season now underway, I wanted to feature some goods I love, curated by the fine folks at Scoutmob. Scoutmob champions independent makers (over 1000 of them!): from bitters to handmade art prints, block-printed textiles to handmade ceramics. I’ve loved the quality and variety available (read: addicted) for almost two years. Many a story has included props sourced through them, and I have given lots of *great* unique gifts.

The handmade goods you’ll find are all small-batch quantity, made in the USA, by real people. Scoutmob also has fantastic customer service, which in this era of internet-based buying, helps them stand apart. Their customer service was a major selling point for me a few purchases back, when I needed something customized and found out I could have it just as I needed. And shipped to arrive in two days!

The perfect-in-a-hand ceramic “quail egg chili” bowls set the stage for my three bean Tuscan-inspired stew. Jessie Lazar makes contemporary heirloom pieces and her workmanship is delicate yet unfussy. With my stew … Why settle for one when you can have the amazing textures and flavors of three? Specifically, savory and buttery great northern, flageolet, and cannellini. YUM.

For the cheat’s soppressata cheesy breads, this gorgeous solid walnut board made the perfect backdrop. It’s the century-old board you’ve always wanted, at the beginning of its journey.

And to lay it all out, lolling the afternoon away with amazing food and friends, the colorful and hand-woven rug by Re:loom made the transition from kitchen prep to afternoon enjoyment a no-brainer. These rugs are made from donated fabrics (no two are alike), created by low-income families working towards self-sufficiency through initiatives like this one. While you find beauty in a lovely product such as this, you’re additionally helping support people refine a craft and earn a sustainable income. Winning all-around!

Now, for the food …

I’m a sucker for a great stew. This one can be made vegan or with chicken stock, up to you. The combination of textures and deep savoriness, along with a bit of spice, makes this a steady go-to in my home. You can use canned beans in a pinch, but the texture and flavor of cooked dry beans is meaningful. Given they play a starring role in this recipe, try dry beans if at all possible.

The added delight of cheesy breads to the stew makes everyone’s face brighten. It’s even in the name! These are so simple to prepare, it’s kinda dangerous … Invite your friends, present them with these, and they will thank you between enthusiastic mouthfuls. :)

Three Bean Tuscan Stew

 Serves 6-8

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 7-9 small carrots, chopped (if you can find heirloom varietals, it makes for an even more beautiful stew, especially since we eat with our eyes first)
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1 1/2 cups dry cannellini beans
  • 1 1/2 cups dry flageolet beans
  • 1 cup great dry northern beans
  • 1 head garlic, divided 2/3 and 1/3
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rosemary, quills picked and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chile flakes
  • good olive oil

Cheat’s Soppressata Cheesy Breads

Serves 6-8
  • 6-8 good quality sandwich rolls
  • zest from one lemon – use organic as you’ll be eating the skin
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 5-7 thin slices soppressata or other hard salami
  • 1/3 head garlic (from above)
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese, finely grated
  • freshly cracked pepper

Soak each of the dry beans in enough cold water to cover by two inches, and in bowls large enough for them to double in volume. After soaking 6 hours or overnight, drain and rinse each, then transfer to a large heavy bottom stewpot. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Add enough water to cover with an inch or so extra. Add two or three bay leaves, and if you’re one to save parmesan heels (or a similar hard cheese) in the freezer, add a few to the beans as they cook. If you’re not, start doing it! Cheese ends impart great depth of flavor to any soup or stew, and there’s no extra cost to you in doing so… you already bought and enjoyed that cheese and here, it gives its final gift. I store mine in resealable bags in the freezer. Once you accumulate a few, have at it! Turn heat to high to bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook beans on a low simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until beans are tender.

While the beans cook, cut across the top of the head of garlic (enough to reveal the cloves inside). Nestle it in a sheet of aluminum foil and dress it in olive oil. Fold the garlic into the foil and place in a baking dish. Do the same—foil and oil—>with the jalapeño. Roast the two in the oven for as long as you cook the beans, then remove and set aside to cool.

Once the bean mixture is ready it will have absorbed much of the water. Now you have a flavorsome broth. Pull out the cheese ends and discard, and transfer beans to a large bowl. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and set aside.

Return pot to burner, medium heat. Add a couple good glugs of olive oil and add the onions stirring occasionally. As they start to become translucent, add in the celery and carrots, as well as the rosemary and chile flakes. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes or so. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

I cook the vegetables separately from the beans because I prefer them to retain a little character. If they were to cook with the beans, they would be mush. To experience the creaminess of the beans, contrasted with the toothsome veg adds another yummy layer.

While the veggies sauté, place into the bowl of a food processor: 2/3 of the roasted garlic—use your fingers to press at the base and the cloves will slide out—2-3 cups of the cooked bean mixture, the roasted jalapeño (minus its stem), and the chicken stock or water. Pulse until you have a creamy mixture. This will add body to the stew. Empty the pureed mixture into the pot, along with the bowl of cooked beans and their liquid and give it all a good stir. Place the lid on top and simmer at lowest heat while you prepare the cheat’s cheesy breads.

For the cheesy breads, stir the zest and mascarpone together to incorporate. Place the rolls onto a baking sheet, and divided evenly, slather a the mascarpone onto each roll.

Mash the remainder of the roasted garlic in a small bowl. Tear the soppressata and place onto the rolls. Spoon the roasted garlic over top next, and add freshly cracked pepper. Finally, pile mounds of gruyere over each, dispersing evenly.

Place the tray into the oven and bake for 7 minutes or until everything is melty and sizzling. Turn oven to broil and place tray on top rack. Broil for 2-3 minutes for a good golden crust.

Remove from oven. Use a spatula to transfer breads to a serving board. Serve stew alongside, and enjoy the feast! Any leftover stew can be refrigerated for up to one week.

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{ Images by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants.Last week, Los Angeles photographer Amy Dickerson shared images and an interview with bartender extraordinaire Christiaan Rollich. Christiaan helms the bar at A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants. The latter is one of my favorite L.A. spots, and after hearing Amy rave about A.O.C., it’s on my list of places to go the next time I’m down there. (I’ll admit: The lovely interior of the wine room—the setting for Amy’s shoot with Christaan—is reason enough for me to pay a visit to A.O.C.)

Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants. Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants.

This week, as people start to turn their attention to holiday entertaining, we thought it would be great to share another one of Christiaan’s drink recipes. (Have you tried The Engineer yet?) Thankfully, he obliged with his recipe for the Oaxaca Sour. “In essence,” he says, “it is a play on a Trinidad Especial, a cocktail where the main ingredients are Angostura bitters, orgeat, and pisco. I changed the ingredients and measurements of them.”

Oaxaca Sour 

  • 1 1/2 oz Mezcal El Silencio
  • 1/2 oz Angostura bitters
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz vanilla syrup (Combine 12 oz sugar, 8 oz water, and 1 scraped vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, take it off the heat, let it sit over night, and it’s ready to use.)
  • 1 egg white

Add all ingredients together and dry shake. Shake again with ice, then strain over fresh ice into a Tom Collins glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants. Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants. Christiaan Rollich Head Barman, A.O.C. and Lucques restaurants

{ All images by Amy Dickerson }

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Banana-Salted Caramel Pie

by Anh-Minh on October 31, 2014

bananasIf miniature chocolate bars aren’t your thing—okay, even if they are your thing—we’ve got a sweet treat that’s perfect for this Halloween weekend. Today, Melina Hammer is sharing a recipe that is sure to make your mouth water.

Banana-Salted Caramel Pie

When I first made this pie, I thought it would be quite tasty. I never dreamed I’d be willing to fight my husband off for the last slice. This pie is that good. Everyone with whom I share it utters layers of profundities as the flavor and texture hit them.

Best thing? Huge payoff without that much effort. You’ll get a good arm workout in crushing those pretzels and biscuits for the crust, but that makes the indulgence of pie even sweeter.

And about that crust … It’s a delightful sweet-salty combo incorporating hard pretzels and after dinner cookie-biscuits. Choose good quality ingredients and the pie will shine even more: I swear by Martin’s Pretzels, a Pennsylvania dutch-style, which I scored at the NYC Greenmarket. Since having relocated to the south I was concerned I would have to find an alternative, but thanks to the internet, they ship right to your door!

This pressed crust is similar to the one I made for the muscadine marbled cheesecake story last year. The more finely you grind the two, the more readily it will hold together. In this version, I prefer the toothiness of smaller and larger bits together and don’t mind if it falls apart a little. It makes for a beautiful mess! If you choose this route, remember you can always use a spoon to serve it, so the messiness becomes part of the design, rather than a flaw. :)

Lastly, the addition of crème fraîche into the whipping cream helps cuts the sweetness of the caramel and banana slices, in a pretty amazing way. It also helps the cream hold those stiff peaks, which is a nice bonus.

See if you don’t go crazy for this pie too. I dare you to find out.

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CRUST

  • 2 cups cookie biscuits, coarsely broken
  • 1 3/4 cup salted pretzels, coarsely broken (I used chunky, handmade pretzels from Martin’s—crisp, airy, salty, simple)
  • 1/2 cup pastured butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

SALTED CARAMEL

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

TOPPING

  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4-5 ripe bananas, sliced on a bias**
  • shaved dark chocolate for topping
**Do this at the very end so that the bananas do not brown

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1. Place biscuits and pretzels in a sealable plastic bag and rock a rolling pin back and forth and side-to-side, turning them into crumbs. Empty crumbs into a large bowl, add grated nutmeg and melted butter, and mix until combined.

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2. Transfer mixture into a 9 1/2-inch pie pan and press into the base and up the sides, spreading and compacting the crust evenly. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

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3. To make the caramel, stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, cooking the sugar until it turns caramel in color, about 10 minutes. Add butter, cream, and the sea salt and be careful, as the hot caramel may spit. Stir until well incorporated. Pour into the chilled pie crust. Refrigerate again.

4. Halve vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into a bowl, adding in the cream and crème fraîche. With an electric mixer, whip creams and vanilla seeds until sturdy peaks form. Chill in refrigerator while slicing bananas. Arrange sliced bananas in a pattern which pleases you, covering the caramel surface completely, and set aside.

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5. Spoon cream onto bananas, swirl topping to cover, and sprinkle with shaved chocolate. Keeps for one week refrigerated in a sealed container. If it lasts that long …

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{ Text, Recipes & Photographs by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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