julia-turshen

Do you get stressed out looking in your refrigerator trying to figure out what to make for dinner? Do you want to know how to cook a perfect fried egg, easily? Julia Turshen’s cook book might be what you need. Turshen wrote her cookbook to help take some of the stress out of home cooking. It’s called Small Victories: Recipes, Advice and Hundreds of Ideas for Home-Cooking Triumphs. Turshen says if you know how to make two things in the kitchen, then you have the skills to make 200 more. Small Victories is Turshen’s first solo cookbook, but she’s co-authored several bestsellers including Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good and Mario Batali’s Spain…A Culinary Road Trip and The Kimchi Chronicles. She’s also been a personal chef. She spoke with Fresh Air producer Sam Briger.

‘Small Victories’ Aims To Make Home Cooking Accessible To All

Foster community and provide sustenance for the mind and soul with Julia Turshen’s Feed the Resistance.

Both practical and purposeful, Feed the Resistance has quick and easy meals for busy lives and inexpensive recipes for large groups of change-makers. Between recipes are resources and reflections for understanding and fueling activism.

Preorder your copy today—proceeds will be donated to the ACLU!

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Happy Wife, Happy Life Chocolate Cake from Julia Turshen’s Small Victories 

Makes one two-layer 8-in [20cm] cake

This is Grace’s favorite cake and I bake it often for that reason. A mash-up of recipes inspired by my favorite food blogs, it’s incredibly easy to make and is decadent without being too heavy or too sweet. The frosting, a total small victory because of its simplicity and ingenuity, was inspired by a post that I bookmarked years ago from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen. To make it, you simply whisk together room temperature sour cream with melted chocolate and a little maple syrup. How smart is that? The cake itself, a riff on one from Jenny Rosenstrach’s Dinner: A Love Story, is a classic “dump cake,” (the worst name ever, I know), which means you put everything in one bowl and stir it together. Small victory: No huge mess, no creaming butter and sugar, no fuss whatsoever. I use raspberry jam in between the layers, but you could swap it for any flavor jam you like (or make an extra batch of frosting and use that). A great sum of simple parts, this is my kind of baking. This cake is great right away after you assemble it, but is truly at its best served cold out of the refrigerator.

CAKE
1¼ cups [150 g] all-purpose flour
1 cup [200 g] sugar
¾ cup [75 g] Dutch-processed cocoa powder (such as Guittard or Droste), sifted if lumpy
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
8 Tbsp [110 g] unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup [240 ml] strong black coffee, at room temperature
1 cup [240 ml] buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

FROSTING
¾ cup [130 g] semisweet chocolate chips or roughly chopped semisweet chocolate
¾ cup [180 ml] sour cream, at room temperature
1 Tbsp maple syrup

½ cup [160 g] raspberry jam (seeded or seedless, whatever your preference)
Raspberries for serving (optional)

To make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350°F [180°C]. Use your hands to butter the bottom and sides of two 8-in [20-cm] cake pans, then line the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper. For good measure, butter the parchment paper. Set the pans aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the melted butter, eggs, coffee, buttermilk, and vanilla and whisk until the batter is smooth. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans (my friend Larry suggests using a cup measure to be accurate).

Bake until the cakes are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer the cakes, still in their pans, to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Once cool, use a dinner knife to loosen the edges of the cakes from the pans and invert them onto your work surface (you might need to give the pan a little whack). Peel off and discard the parchment.

To make the frosting: Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Put the chocolate chips in a large stainless-steel or heatproof glass bowl and set it over the pot (the water should not touch the bowl—if it does, simply pour some out). Stir until the chocolate is melted. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a microwave in 15-second increments, stirring between increments.) Remove from the heat and whisk in the sour cream and maple syrup. The frosting should be smooth and quite silky. Refrigerate the frosting until the cakes have cooled. It will thicken as it cools (a good thing).

Once the cakes are cool, put one on a serving platter upside-down so that the flat side is facing up. Spread the jam over the top. Put the second cake on top of the jam-slathered cake, again flat-side up—this way you get a nice flat top. (If the jam makes the layers slip and slide a bit, use a couple of skewers to hold the layers together while you frost the sides and then remove the skewers to frost the top). Using a small offset spatula or a dinner knife, spread the frosting all over the sides and top of the cake. There’s no need to be perfect with this; I like it kind of rustic looking. But if you’re more of a type-A person, go ahead and smooth the top and sides (and you could even stick strips of parchment paper under the bottom of the cake before frosting it to keep your serving platter clean). Whatever makes you happy.

Let the cake sit for about 1 hour before serving. There’s something about letting each element get to know the others that serves this cake very well. In fact, I prefer to make it the day before and refrigerate it overnight, and serve it cold. Either way, slice and serve with some fresh raspberries alongside if you’d like.

Note: If you only own a single cake pan, fear not! Simply pour the batter into the pan and bake it until a toothpick tests clean (it will take 10 to 15 minutes longer in the oven than the two separate layers). Once the cake cools completely, use a serrated knife to cut it into two layers. Voilà.

SPIN-OFFS

FOR CUPCAKES, distribute the cake batter in a standard 12-well muffin tin lined with paper liners and bake until firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Top with raspberry jam and/or the frosting.

FOR VANILLA CAKE, leave out the cocoa powder and coffee.

FOR THE QUICKEST VANILLA FROSTING, whip ½ cup [120 ml] heavy cream until stiff peaks form and fold in ½ cup [120 ml] room-temperature sour cream. Sweeten with powdered sugar and add a splash of vanilla extract.

I cannot get enough of Gwyneth’s Japanese Chicken Balls & her homemade hoi sin dipping sauce! It’s so lean and trim for a Friday night chow down! Where her hoi sin recipe called for maple syrup I chose a sugar-free alternative and used xylitol (natural sweeter, good for your teeth and less granular to stevia).

Your body isn’t an apartment that you’re renting, it’s the house you’re always going to live in
— 

 

Wow, it’s already June?! Where does the time go…

Anyway, it’s a new month. A clean slate. Here’s hoping everyone has an amazing month!

I read a quote recently in It’s All Good, a (cook)book by Gwyenth Paltrow and Julia Turshen. Both women have some incredible words to pass on (and apparently they love food and wine as much as I do…who knew?!) but something Julia said really stuck with me…She said,  "I decided my body wasn’t an apartment I was renting, it was the house I would always live in.“ Powerful thought, right?

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