custardy crème fraîche apple pie

custardy creme fraiche apple pie | two red bowls

What a strange, hard week this has been.  It feels like it has been hard in every sense of the word — difficult, unyielding.  I hope everyone is okay.  This is the first of a number of recipes I’ve had saved up for these first few baby-filled months, and, thankfully, it is so very easy.  I think “easy” was going to be my mantra in the kitchen for the foreseeable future no matter what, now that we have a little person to cuddle and feed and care for, but right now it feels particularly apt to share something that comes together without much effort, without any stress, to be a treat that soothes and indulges.

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king arthur flour holiday table: harvest pumpkin scones

kaf harvest pumpkin scones | two red bowls

Too often I feel like scones get the short end of the stick in the coffee shop scene. Maybe it’s because they sit out behind the glass for a little bit too long by the time that they make it into a wax paper bag, ending up just a little too dry and flavorless, unsatisfyingly crumbly, and thus under-appreciated. I’ll admit that before I tried making them at home, I succumbed to that belief, too, thinking that the way I wanted scones to taste was something that existed only in my mind: little puffy triangles that were craggy on the outside, but tender and moist within, with just the slightest springiness to them to distinguish them from cakes or cookies. But in actuality, I think a homemade scone, fresh and warm from the oven, is just that. Slight crunch on the outside, soft inside, with a subtle resilience to the crumb. And they’re, surprisingly, so very easy to make!  We should all have homemade scones in our kitchens. (At least on the weekends.)

kaf harvest pumpkin scones | two red bowls

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kabocha & maple caramel baked french toast

kabocha & maple caramel baked french toast | two red bowls

I’ve been mostly working from home in these last couple of weeks before the home stretch, but went in to the office last week to wrap up loose ends, take home all the heels that I totally forgot about for the last six months, and to do fun things like meet with my pro bono clients, who got all the adoptive funding we requested! It did mean that that hearing didn’t end up happening, but when it’s because we got everything we asked for, that’s okay with me.  To be clear, I think our happy outcome had everything to do with (1) my clients being wonderful parents with the sweetest daughter who really deserved it, (2) the other side really wanting to postpone the hearing, and (3) me really not wanting to postpone the hearing because hey guys, I have a biological baby deadline, and nothing to do with any lawyering I did.  But in a job where most of the time I represent (or, help people senior to me help partners senior to them represent) clients in long, drawn-out matters with things at stake that sometimes feel more abstract than real, helping parents get funding for their sunny, sweet nine-year-old, and getting this thank-you card, was about the best cap on starting maternity leave that I could ask for.  

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tomato-braised eggs and creamy baked polenta

creamy baked polenta with eggs and tomato sauce | two red bowls

tomato-braised eggs and creamy baked polenta | two red bowls

Earlier this summer, I spent a few glorious hours in Venice at The Tasting Kitchen in what felt like an endless parade of dream brunch fare. Before this I’d never had any kind of chef’s menu or omakase-type meal, but a group of us opted for their tasting menu (because that seemed like what you should choose at a restaurant similarly named) and it was a culinary romp that makes me wish I could splurge on that kind of treat all the time:  a smorgasbord of baked goods to start, with tender, butter-yellow biscuits, dense and moist breakfast cakes studded with fruit or dark with spices, and sticky pecan buns drenched in syrup; little lox and cucumber sandwiches in crunchy, unabashedly buttered toast; omelettes tucked neatly around tomatoes and creamy avocado; perfect parfaits (redundant?) with sweet sliced plums and berries on top.  

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