american flag pie

By the time you read this, I will have hopefully left San Francisco and arrived in New York City (just in time for 4th of July and Erlend's birthday weekend!) safe and sound. I don't dispense a lot of life advice, but I will say this: don't decide to move across the country during a holiday weekend. Just don't.

On a less serious note, Happy 4th of July weekend! I hope everybody's gearing up for an awesome barbecue and other summery things of that sort. Live it up for me, okay? Because I'll be sitting in Erlend's parent's apartment unpacking boxes of clothes and kitchenware. Although I'm extremely happy to be reunited with Erlend, but I've moved enough times to know that unpacking doesn't make for the most festive weekend. My only official 4th of July celebration will be this cherry and blueberry American flag pie:

Like almost all the recipes that have been on this blog in the last few weeks, this pie is a direct result of the leftovers in my San Francisco refrigerator. But it turns out cherries and blueberries are frequently used together in desserts as they come into season together. So no weird combinations like the pineapple, peach, and paprika pie I was trying to make happen last time — just summer berries in my favorite all-butter pie crust (wait — sincere question: is cherry actually a berry?). It's about the most classic American dessert I've ever made, and it's perfect for celebrating America's Independence Day.

Happy 4th of July, folks!


Some baker's notes:
  • In case you need a visual on how to make build the American flag design, check out this awesome step-by-step tutorial! It also helps to have a pastry wheel (or a pizza wheel — let's be honest, they're basically the same thing) and ruler to ensure even stripes. 

  • The color contrast between the blueberries and cherries didn't turn out to be as vibrant as I'd hoped — turns out they bleed into the same color when baked. If you want more of a red and blue contrast, I recommend using strawberries instead of cherries! You can also always use food coloring or canned pie filling, but I might die a little bit if you do the latter. It's berry season; take advantage of it! 

candy cap blondies

As my move to New York slowly but surely comes closer, I've been Marie Kondo-ing the SHIT out of my apartment. All my furniture is being sold, any excess kitchenware and cookbooks are being given away, the full works. Luckily, in a big city like San Francisco, there are always people coming and going. It's been surprisingly easy to get rid of it all (PS — if any Bay Area folks want this trusty marble island that's served as my backdrop for the last year, let me know). The only thing that's not so easy to hand off are my pantry items — nobody wants my half-empty jars of condiments, partially used bags of ingredients, or the frozen fruit in my fridge that I've been hoarding for "future projects".

So I've got no choice but to use them myself before I go, making pie with the frozen fruit, cookies with the odd quantities of chocolate, and these blondies. These blondies are purely a result of two pantry leftovers and discoveries: half a block of Trader Joe's Pound Plus Chocolate Bar, and a bag of candy cap mushrooms buried in the back of my baking drawer.

Erlend, ever the mushroom enthusiast, gifted me this bag of candy cap mushrooms a few months ago. "They're supposed to taste like maple syrup!" he exclaimed, handing me a bag he'd ordered online. "Maybe you can bake something with them!" Since I don't quite share this interest of his, I smiled politely, nodded, and promptly forgot about them.

Until now.

If you're not an amateur mycologist like Erlend, here's a primer: candy cap mushrooms are indeed a type of fungi often used in desserts as an extract or flavoring. Unlike other mushrooms that taste like, well, mushrooms, candy caps taste like molasses and brown sugar. They smell so fragrantly of these flavors too that when I initially discovered the wrapped package in my drawer, I'd assumed that it was a block of rock sugar.

Indeed, when I brought a bag of these babies in to work and made my coworkers guess the secret ingredient, the most common guess was maple syrup. The looks on their faces when I told them that they were eating blondies flavored by a kind of mushroom was pretty priceless.

Some baker's notes:
  • Candy cap mushrooms are available online. Although they last for a while in the pantry in their dried state, it's best to use them almost immediately as they become less fragrant and ultimately less flavorful over time.

  • If you don't like mushrooms because of their texture, don't panic. There's not actually a whole lot of mushrooms in the actual recipe. Since this was my first time baking with candy caps, I was worried that actually using them in the baked good would end up with little bits of slimy mushroom throughout the blondies. So instead, I ended up steeping the mushrooms with the butter used in this recipe to make a candy cap flavored compound butter. I also used a spice grinder to grind a very, VERY small amount of candy caps to make a sort of spice, which worked wonderfully. No slimy textures anywhere, I promise.

pineapple and peach pie with a coconut oil crust

Sometimes I get ideas stuck in my head. Song lyrics, cravings, and recipes are the worst offenders. It's an itch that can only be scratched by listening to the same song over and over and over, or until I finally sink my teeth into whatever food I've been daydreaming about for days.

This time, it was pineapple, peach, and paprika pie.

This one was divisive. There were haters. A lot of people just didn't get it. Even my mom (on Twitter, none the less) chimed in and was like, "paprika? weird!" Harsh, mom, real harsh.

Well, let me try and explain my train of thought for those who are gonna hate, hate, hate:

It was time to bake my pie of the month. I knew it was going to be some sort stone fruit; California is insane, and we'd blown through rhubarb and most of berry season earlier in the year without me knowing (fruit here comes into season so much faster!). As I flipped through the Four & Twenty Blackbirds' Pie Book for stone fruit pie inspiration, one stuck out to me: peach and paprika. The book described the combination of sweetness from the peaches and the slight spicy, smoky flavor from the paprika as delicious.

And I'll admit — like you guys, I wasn't a believer. But then I remembered those bags of pineapple and cayenne pepper they sell down the hill in the Mission District. Also, Molly was a supporter and reminded me of the dried chili pineapple from Trader Joe's. There was something about the contrast between those two flavors that made both these things an utterly addicting snack. I wondered if pineapple could also work with paprika, since pineapple and peach worked pretty well together just by themselves.

And that's how this idea for pineapple, peach, and paprika pie got stuck in my head.

In the end though, I got talked out of it. Snapchat rained its judgement down on me and I buckled at the knees. One anonymous Snapchatter snarled at me: "pineapple and peach are fine on their own; you're trying too hard!"


But hey! At the end of the day, these recipes are for you guys. So I'm taking your advice and backing far, far away from the paprika. Nothing fancy or special in this pie, folks — just pineapple, peach, and brown sugar. Oh, and some coconut oil in the crust ti give it a little bit of a tropical flavor.

And you know what? You all were right.

It's delicious as it is.

Thank you to Life and Home for sponsoring this post by providing the compensation and pretty flour sack towels that you see in this post! The towels are Life and Home's first product from their own line, designed in Brooklyn, and made in the U.S.A with all American materials. If you haven't checked out Life and Home yet, head on over — they have almost everything you could possibly need and want for a pretty and functional home. In addition to these floral towels, I'm in love with this coffee grinder, this ceramic KitchenAid mixing bowl, and this wooden muddler set for cocktails. I want it all! As always, thank you for supporting Hummingbird High and my awesome sponsors.

Some baker's notes:

princess bakery funfetti cake

Hey guys! It's my 29th birthday today!

It's scary to me that, although I'm turning 29, I still feel as nomadic and unsettled as I did when I was 21. After all, my move to New York will be my 9th move (and 4th state, and 10th apartment/house) within the last 5 years. I'd like to think that I've made some sort of progress in these last few years, but sometimes, I'm not quite sure if I actually have. This past year wasn't easy and taught me that I've still got a lot to learn — especially when it comes to my priorities and figuring out what's important.

But as a June baby, I'm lucky that I get to have a birthday in the middle of the year. Especially since I treat my birthdays the way most people treat New Year's Day — a chance to look at what went wrong over the last year, make resolutions, and reset. This year, that means basically starting over from the quiet, career-focused life I regressed to since moving to San Francisco. I don't have anything too specific in mind, but I do know that a) I want to leave this city ASAP (and that's happening so soon, so yay!) and b) I want this year to be less stressful and funner than the last.

And what better way to kick off that goal than with a lighthearted and whimsical cake?

For this cake, I channeled my inner Coco Cake Land and whipped up this funfetti cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting. The funfetti cake recipe is actually one of Molly's and has been on my blog before — I made it almost two years ago for my third blogiversary and it was just SO DAMN GOOD that I've just been waiting for an opportunity to make it again.

And this time around, I swapped the vanilla flavor used in the original recipe for "Princess Bakery" extract. Princess Bakery is a legit flavor that comes in a bottle and tastes of vanilla, citrus, and almond. It's lovely and the flavor that all your homemade bakery style baked goods have been missing. I used Tessa's ombre frosting technique to create a "dip-dye" effect on my cake, with half the cream cheese frosting flavored with a fresh strawberry puree. I then topped it all off with cotton candy because it's my party and I can do what I want.

So 29 — here I come!

also featured:

Some baker's notes:

avocado toast, three ways

Now that my days in California are numbered, I'm trying to take advantage of all the sunshine and produce this place has to offer. I think one of the things I'll miss most is my access to fresh strawberries and avocados. No matter what time of the year it is, you can always get both in San Francisco!

So when Crate and Barrel asked me to create a recipe representative of California cuisine, I immediately thought of avocados — specifically, avocado toast! I know it's considered #basic these days, but we all still love it. Or at least, I do. Unapologetically and unabashedly.

So check out Crate and Barrel's blog for my avocado toast recipes!

a long weekend guide to portland, oregon

above: portland rose festival carnival

The moment my plane touched down in Portland, a smile never left my face. My friend Meredith welcomed me with a bowl of mini cinnamon sugar churros and a deck full of Christmas lights; we polished off a bottle of rosé and spent the evening catching up on life, love, and everything in between.

After that, the next few days were a blur of cheap beer, ice cream, and of course, fried chicken. There was that rose croissant from my favorite bakery, Nuvrei; there was beef tongue bahn mi and dulcey white chocolate and cardamom dipped soft serve cone from Portland's sexy new dining hall, Pine Street Market.

vanilla custard waffle cone with white chocolate magic shell from wiz bang bar

But perhaps more memorable were the meals with my friends — good food, made more remarkable by our conversations and laughter. There was catching up with Brooke over glasses of ice cold foamy chai and eating an embarrassing amount of Russian dumplings with Greg as he excitedly told me about his new venture. Kara and I discussed the woes of being first-time home owners over a bowl of strawberry coconut soft serve studded with homemade Oreos; Cindy and I compared notes about blogging over a massive tray of Thai-style fried chicken and bags of fresh Catalan xurros.

above: fried chicken at hat yai; boba and matcha shakes at tea bar
cocktails at the night light lounge's back deck

And on my last day, sitting next to Nell in her car doing something as ordinary as waiting in line at the drive-thru and giggling over the prospect of fried asparagus, it was then I knew: I was home.

gianduja chocolate chip cookies

With my move to New York in sight (at the end of this month — yipppeeee!), I'm starting to be more mindful about what's in the apartment that needs to stay or go. I'm frankly a little bit horrified about how much stuff I accumulated over the last year. Clothes (I have three leather jackets, all purchased within the last year — what gives?!), kitchenware, cookbooks... where did it all come from? It was only a year ago that I moved to San Francisco with the bare minimum of my necessities from my house in Portland. Huh.

I've also started digging through the pantry and freezer, going through cans of tuna and boxes of pasta saved for a rainy day, and thawing out tupperwares of big batch leftovers from months ago and eating them for meals. Occasionally, I'll find forgotten ingredients from past baking projects — all in odd quantities, of course. A packet of frozen passionfruit puree leftover from the time I made this passionfruit curd pie, a block of gianduja chocolate from these chocolate hazelnut blondies. And since I'm secretly crunchy at heart and hate all things related to food waste, I'm determined to use up every last bit of these random finds.

So that block of forgotten gianduja went into my favorite recipe for quick, chocolate chip cookies:

In case you've forgotten about gianduja, remember that it's basically Nutella in a solid chocolate bar form. It's basically Italian milk chocolate with hazelnut paste mixed in to give it a creamy, nutty texture. I chopped up the leftovers and used them in this recipe for slice-and-bake chocolate chip cookies that I love, love, LOVE. The end result is basically a chocolate chip cookie ON CRACK, with a slight nutty flavor from that gianduja chocolate. It's almost a little bit like a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, but MUCH BETTER.

Some baker's notes:
  • Gianduja baking chocolate is available in bulk on Amazon for scary prices, but I've had good luck and run into it a couple time at Whole Foods. You can also find smaller portions at specialty chocolate stores online like World Wide Chocolate. Because believe me, it's worth trying to find this stuff.

  • If you don't want to use hazelnut meal in this recipe, feel free to use all-purpose flour! It works just as well, but your cookie probably won't be as hazelnutty-tasting.

  • I know it's a bit of a pain, but do NOT skip the part where you chill the cookie dough overnight! The gianduja chocolate tends to get super soft and melty when chopped and handled too much; it's important to let the chocolate harden in the fridge so your cookies don't spread out too much. Plus, science has proven that letting cookie dough rest overnight leads to a better tasting cookie. For real.