Brown Sugar Spice Cake with a Butterscotch Glaze
Plus: A Return to Horses, Miso Maple Salmon, and Sudi Green on Lunch Therapy.
What a one-eighty I did last week! If you missed my bonus episode of Lunch Therapy, Dr. Deanie Eichenstein came on to talk to me about my New Year’s diet and up until that point I’d been intermittent fasting, eating salads for lunch, not drinking, and doing HIIT workouts on Apple Fitness. But on Thursday night we went to our friend Jonathan’s for dinner and he made us margaritas to go with our Thai delivery, and then he made chocolate chip cookies for dessert… after that, I was off to the races! On Friday, we ate ourselves silly at Horses (more on that in a bit) and on Saturday, I made a brown sugar bundt cake from Cheryl Day’s new cookbook, A Treasury of Southern Cooking.
Thanks to Dr. Deanie’s advice, however, I’m not judging myself too harshly for falling off the wagon. Today’s Monday and I’m all geared up to make a salad for lunch and do a HIIT workout after I send out this newsletter. So let’s revel in the splendors of the weekend together, starting with this incredible cake.
The Recipe: Cheryl Day’s Brown Sugar Spice Cake with a Butterscotch Glaze
Cheryl Day has turned me into a bundt lover. I’d never thought much about bundt cakes before, but when her new cookbook came, the bundt pictures were so mouthwatering — all of those crisp edges shellacked with icing — that I knew I had to put a Nordic Ware Brilliance Bundt on my Christmanukkah list. And sure enough, Craig’s parents gifted me one just a few weeks ago and I knew I had to put it to use right away.
The cake is a total cinch to make — just butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, sour cream (any cake with sour cream is going to be good) and the flour mixture which has cardamom and mace (I used nutmeg instead). Be sure to butter the pan generously with softened butter, or it won’t come out; otherwise, it bakes up beautifully. And the glaze is really fun to make. So here’s the recipe, by Cheryl Day.
For the cake:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (I used kosher and it was fine)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground mace (I used nutmeg instead)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted. butter, at room temperature (it’s important that it really is at room temperature)
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature (also important: put them in a bowl of warm water, if you need to, and they’ll warm up much more quickly)
1 cup sour cream
For the butterscotch glaze:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
To make the cake: position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325. Butter a 10-inch Bundt pan, making sure to get into all the crevices (I used about three tablespoons of butter). Lightly dust the pan with flour, tapping the pan on the counter to shake out the excess.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and mace into a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium-low speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary, then mix for about 1 minute, or until well blended.
Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and, using the spatula, incorporate any ingredients hiding at the bottom of the bowl, making sure the batter is completely mixed.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan firmly on the countertop to remove any air bubbles from the batter. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (I use a piece of dry spaghetti). Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert it onto another rack, turn right side up, and cool completely. (I was confused about which was the “right side,” since I wanted the edgy, bundt pan side to be the top, so that’s what I considered the right side.)
To make the glaze: in a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and cream and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Then bring to a boil and cook until the glaze has thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. (I poured it into a large heatproof glass measuring cup to make the next step easier.)
Set the cake, still on the rack, on a baking sheet lined with foil, and pour the glaze over the cake, letting it run down the sides. Let set, then transfer to your favorite cake stand. It’ll keep there, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days.
The Restaurant: A Return to Horses
My new favorite game to play these days, besides Wordle, is Resy Roulette. Here’s how it works: I open Resy (the restaurant app) on a Thursday afternoon, type in Friday night at 8 PM, and then scroll through the results. If I see any restaurants with only one reservation left, there’s a good chance that’s a hard-to-get table. So imagine my delight last Thursday when I played Resy Roulette and found an 8 PM Friday night reservation at Horses, one of the hottest restaurants in L.A. (Bill Addison just called it “the city’s most exhilarating new dining experience in the last year” in the L.A. Times.)
I went there in October with a friend and it was just starting to percolate as a restaurant. The room felt a bit buzzy, the food seemed slightly experimental (mimolette cheese on a Caesar?!), the servers were all enthusiastic and hopeful. Now, a few months later, Horses has really clicked into its own: the place was packed, the food was confident, and the servers knew they were part of a happening new scene. Craig loved the vibes, especially how gay it was: there were gay couples everywhere, mixed into the usual Hollywood crowd.
Of course I wanted Craig to try the Caesar, one of the city’s best. The dressing — extra garlicky and thick — perfectly clings to the endive and the endive itself (such a good idea for a Caesar) was so wonderfully crisp, it made me insecure about my own endive. (Did they put it in a bowl of ice water first?) Then they shred mimolette cheese on top, which almost tastes like savory white chocolate. It all works beautifully.
Based on Bill Addison’s review, I really wanted to try the Boudin Basque: aka, house-made blood sausage on brioche with an egg.
This is serious appetizer but worth trying, if you’re a brave eater and you’ve never had blood sausage before. I first had it in Barcelona chopped up and mixed with chickpeas at the Boqueria; here, it stood out on its own and reminded me of liver in the best possible way. Funky, gamy, but crispy and fatty, it’s one of the more enlivening things you can eat in L.A. right now.
As for our entrees, Craig had the burger (pictured above) which reminded him of the classic one at The Spotted Pig in New York. I had the guinea hen, which was so dramatic there on the plate.
It was served on a dandelion panzanella, a surprising riff on the classic Zuni formula with big torn pieces of bread, dried currants, and — in this version— bitter dandelion greens, which give everything an edge.
The desserts were big standouts. The sheep’s milk cheesecake is everything you hope it will be and more:
Creamy and strangely light and just a little bit different because of the sheep’s milk (almost grassy).
We also ordered the straciatella gelato which a server said was like “Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia on crack.” She wasn’t kidding.
Each bite had a little chocolate, a little cherry, and it was maybe the best bite of the whole night, which is saying a lot.
Going to Horses for dinner feels like a night on the town. In the old days, we might’ve gone to dinner and a movie or maybe to our favorite bar, Akbar. But in these pandemic times, it was nice to just go to a one-stop-shop for people-watching and good eating. Here’s hoping we get into Horses again.
The Rest: Miso Maple Salmon, Bagna Cauda, and Sudi Green on Lunch Therapy
It’s official: I have a new favorite salmon recipe. It’s Colu Henry’s, from NYT Cooking, and it’s so simple, I can give you the formula right here. (Don’t tell Colu.) Are you ready? Whisk together 4 teaspoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon white or brown miso (don’t skip the miso, it’s the best part), 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, and 1 grated garlic clove. That’s it!
Pour that over 4 seasoned (salt & pepper) pieces of salmon, skin-side down, on a cookie sheet. You can surround the salmon with trimmed string beans tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, but you don’t have to. Just bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until a thermometer reads 125 (for medium-rare) at the center of each filet and you’re done. Squeeze with lime juice to finish.
This recipe is so good, I made it TWICE last week. Once just for us (see above) and last night I made it again for Craig’s cousin David and David’s fiancé, Herald.
It was a huge hit both times and so easy, I basically have it memorized. Give it a try.
Another big hit this weekend was the Bagna Cauda that I made for our friends Tony and Anthony.
What’s Bagna Cauda?
It means “warm bath” in Italian and it’s basically butter, olive oil, garlic, and anchovies all melted together and served with cold vegetables for dipping. I used the recipe from the Prune cookbook: 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 fillets anchovies in oil, 4 fat garlic cloves finely minced (I grated them). Melt all those things together on medium-low heat, mashing the anchovies into the fat until they disappear. Then raise the heat to medium, season with 3/4 teaspoon caper bring (a clever idea!) and freshly ground black pepper, and immediately serve warm in a little bowl surrounded by vegetables for dipping. I went with radicchio and endive… look how pretty.
It’s a great winter alternative to a salad.
Hey, guess who’s on Lunch Therapy today? SNL writer and comedian, Sudi Green!
We talk about everything from living across the street from me (she’s my neighbor!) to what everyone eats at SNL to her mother’s Iranian heritage to the saffron ice cream that she loves to eat when her parents come to town.
And get this? Two days after recording this episode, her mother, Neda, bought some saffron ice cream for me and came with Sudi to my door and brought me some!
It was so delicious and so kind.
Hear Sudi’s whole episode here! Or just hit play below:
And if you can do me a favor and write a nice review, it really helps.
Here are this week’s food links:
Tejal Rao writes about the best sushi in L.A. (and I’m taking Craig to Morihiro this week as his Christmas present! Read all about it in next week’s newsletter) (NYT);
Britney Spears reviews Catch LA on her Instagram (she’s stealing my gig):
This turkey chili with cornmeal biscuits on top by Melissa Clark seems truly genius (NYT).
That's all for this week, folks!
In case you missed Thursday’s paid subscriber’s only newsletter, it was called Salads! Salads! Salads! and I wrote all about the different salads I’ve been making in the new year. There’s a kale salad, a romaine salad, and a basic technique that I follow involving nuts, mustard, and fruit.
If you’d like to read that, plus have access to my full archives, here’s a discount code for 20% off FOREVER. That’s cheaper than one cocktail at Horses!
Until next time….