Deborah Madison: Dinner and Dessert

Rye and Honey Cake with 5-Spice Powder and Dates                                  Serves 8 to 10

When I made it with all rye flour, I found this French cake called a couque, too dry. Still, I liked its essential flavor and dark crumb, I finally came up with a cake that is moist, lush and still dark. To do this I gave up half the rye flour (I used Abruzzi rye) and replaced the rest with all-purpose organic flour, included melted butter, and kefir rather than water. Now it’s something different, but it’s a fine winter cake. It also has a little crunch from the turbinado sugar. Once you’ve served it as a cake, it makes a great piece of toast, with ricotta spread atop. I bake this cake in an 8-inch fluted tart pan with 2-inch sides or in a round earthenware gratin dish. You can also use an 8 X 8-inch square pan. If the honey is stiff, put the jar in a saucepan of simmering water. After 15 minutes or maybe less, it should be quite pourable.

1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup rye flour 1/3 cup turbinado sugar 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 tablespoon 5-spice powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg ½ to 2/3 cup honey 2 eggs, lightly beaten 5 tablespoons melted butter 1/4 cup kefir or buttermilk 2/3 cup chopped Medjool dates, raisins, or currants Heat the oven to 350’. Butter and flour your baking pan. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir them together with a whisk to blend them well. Combine the honey, eggs, butter and kefir in a second bowl, then pour it into the dry ingredients and quickly mix them together using a light touch. Add the fruit and fold it in. Bake in the center of the oven until a cake tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes. If I’ve used a fluted tart type of pan, I gently push the cake, while hot from the oven, up from below, freeing its sides to cool as honey can be sticky and adhere the cake to the pan. In fact, gently lift the entire cake up, let the rim come off on your arm, and place it on a rack and leave it to cool.

Black-Eye Peas on Rice with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Smoked Salt Serves 2 Black-eyed peas are about the only canned food I buy. I find their flavor compelling and it’s what I turn to when I absolutely can’t focus on cooking. I choose those from Eden Organics because they don’t line their cans with BP. That costs more, but it still makes an inexpensive meal for two. The addition of the tahini sauce was a happy accident, one I’ve chosen to stay with. You’ll probably have extra rice to use in another dish. 1 cup cooked brown or white rice 1 can black-eyed peas or 1 ½ cups, cooked from scratch 1 garlic clove, smashed with ¼ teaspoon sea salt ½ cup yogurt 3 tablespoons tahini smoked salt and freshly ground pepper chopped parsley or cilantro to finish Cook the rice, then make the yogurt sauce: Smash the garlic and salt until pulpy and smooth, stir it into the yogurt along with the tahini. When the rice is done, heat the peas in a skillet or small saucepan until hot throughout. Season with smoked salt and plenty of pepper. Mound the rice on a plate and make a depression in the middle. Spoon the peas in the depression, spoon over some of the sauce and garnish with the parsley or cilantro. Pass additional sauce as needed.

Both of these recipes are from Vegetable Literacy. These and the rest of Deborah Madison's collection are available at

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