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Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs Hardcover – September 6, 2016
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From the Publisher
Happy Wife, Happy Life Chocolate Cake
1¼ cups [150 g] all-purpose flour.
1 cup [200 g] sugar.
¾ cup [75 g] Dutch-processed cocoa powder, 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.
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.
Raspberries for serving (optional).
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.
Makes One Two-Layer 8 inch [20 cm] Cake
To Make The Cake: Preheat your oven to 350°F [180°C]. Use your hands to butter the bottom and sides of two 8 inch [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.
A Q + A with Julia Turshen
Q: What does a 'home cooking triumph' look like to you? And what do you do when it is more like a home cooking fail?
A: A triumph looks like a really satisfying meal that you’re proud of (and hopefully not a mess to clean up afterwards). I try to think ahead to avoid the fails, but when something is a dud, I try to remember that it’s just a meal, and there are always scrambled eggs.
Q: What is your favorite make-ahead meal—one that can be prepped early in the day or prepped and frozen?
Q: What are your top 5-10 fridge essentials?
A: Half-and-half for coffee, parmesan cheese, kimchi, eggs, a variety of hot sauces (lately I’m really into Crystal), a variety of pickles (my favorites are made by Gordy’s), a jar of homemade vinaigrette, cleaned salad greens ready to go, lots of cans of LaCroix, and, last but actually most importantly, my wife Grace’s extra supply of insulin (she has Type 1 Diabetes).
Q: If someone wanted to own only one “high-tech” kitchen gadget, what should it be?
A: Honestly, just a really great knife (I love my Misono 440), as I don’t think you need to plug anything in to make a great meal. If you do want something with an 'on' button, my most used item is my dishwasher! Followed by my food processor.
Q: What is your strategy for using up all the bits and pieces of fresh produce? Hate seeing things hit the compost that should get eaten!
A: I hate seeing that, too! One word: frittata.
Q: If you were to cook the ultimate meal—your absolute favorite—what would it consist of?
A: Caesar salad, spaghetti with clams and a good amount of fresh red chile, very garlicky broccoli rabe, and a banana split or a slice of coconut cake that someone else bakes.
"Julia Turshen cooks exactly the way I like to eat: simply, eclectically and with a lot of flavor. Her book is a perfect guide to countless delicious dishes that are both interesting and imminently do-able."-Dana Cowin
" An inspiring addition to any kitchen bookshelf" Real Simple
"Julia Turshen always knows exactly what I want to eat. She has the kind of cook's intuition you can only gain though years of focus and passion. Her honest, inspired recipes have reinvigorated my cooking routine and made Small Victories an invaluable addition to my kitchen library."-Gail Simmons
"Electric with positive energy"-- The New York Times Best Cookbooks of Fall 2016
"As practical as it is beautiful, this book is primarily meant for the kitchen novice. But the recipes are so intriguing and enticing that experienced cooks will be tempted. Each carefully thought-out and explained recipe is followed by delicious riffs."-Mimi Sheraton
"The title of this book comes from the idea that learning to cook is a series of small victories: tiny lessons that, in sum, form a culinary education. These include concepts like putting a damp towel under a cutting board to keep it from moving while you chop, or freezing pesto in ice cube trays for easier use. Who couldn't use to learn a new trick or two?" Epicurious
Small Victories is so lively, so encouraging, and so filled with easy solutions that it's the perfect book for someone who loves food but is nervous in the kitchen. I'll be giving it to every young cook I know. -Ruth Reichl
Small Victories is precisely the kind of book that I can give to two kinds of people: to my non-cooking friends to let them know they can build their game, and to my professional chef friends to prove that there is always more to learn and that simple doesn't mean dumbed-down.-Mario Batali
Julia's SMALL VICTORIES is a HUGE VICTORY! It is the best cookbook ever; a stunning visual memoir that you'll soon have filled with post-its and turned-down pages. -Sally Field
I've been waiting for this book! I love Julia's cooking and had a few lessons from her. She knows how to make things that are easy, delicious, and chic! - Sofia Coppola
"Small Victories by the wonderful Julia Turshen will make you fall deeply in love with her simple and achievable recipes, whilst teaching you the importance of mastering basic techniques that make us all better cooks!"-April Bloomfield
"This is Ms. Turshen's first cookbook as a solo author, but she has co-written others with the likes of Mario Batali, Gwyneth Paltrow and Dana Cowin. She's also a recipe tester and developer-a skill that shines through in a book aimed at aspiring, eager home cooks; you won't find any molecular gastronomy in these pages.
Ms. Turshen is a self-deprecating, warm and charming writer."-- Wall Street Journal
About the Author
JULIA TURSHEN is a writer and recipe-developer. She has coauthored such cookbooks as Spain...A Culinary Road Trip with Mario Batali, It's All Good with Gwyneth Paltrow, Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen with Dana Cowin, as well as The Kimchi Chronicles, Hot Bread Kitchen, The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries, and Buvette. She hosted the first two seasons of Radio Cherry Bombe and has written for Vogue, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Saveur, and The Wall Street Journal. She lives in upstate New York with her wife, dogs, and cat.
Ina Garten is a cookbook author and host of Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. She lives in East Hampton, New York, and Southport, Connecticut.
Top customer reviews
The photos are drool-worthy and the ingredients are all things you will likely have at home or be able to grab with ONE trip to ONE store. There are a few exceptions, but not many and she notes these up front and offers substitutions.
I cook for my family of 5 each day, while running my own business and minding the household duties. I am so excited to cook from this book and make it a regular staple.
Something about Julia's manner reminds me of a mashup of Deb Perlman from Smitten Kitchen plus Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame. She brings the "no nonsense, I cooked this in a tiny NY kitchen and tested it a thousand times" vibe of Deb with the basic, simple ingredients and "how easy is that?" vibe of Ina.
The end of the book concludes with 7 lists of 7 things you can do with chicken, ground meat, pizza dough, seafood, etc. the versatility is endless. And helpful, come 6pm when you're staring a fridge with various leftovers that need a little transformation.
Your families and belly will thank you! Dig in!
(This is my own opinion. I paid full price for my book and have no connection to the author or Amazon. I hate reading reviews and feeling duped at the end by folks who got it in exchange for their 'honest' review.)