Tartine Bakery's Citrus Almond Poppy Seed Cake

Tartine Bakery’s Citrus Almond Poppy Seed Cake

This is one of my all-time favorite loaf cakes (aka tea bread) that I first discovered at Tartine Bakery in LA. It is dense, moist, tender, and delicious; it’s often sold out at the bakery which is not surprising because it’s just so good! Acclaimed pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt and master baker Chad Robertson shared this recipe in their 2006 cookbook Tartine.  I love the look of quick breads that are baked in a square shaped pullman loaf pan, but you can also bake this recipe in a traditional 9x5 pan or in a small Bundt ban.

One note:  You may be tempted to skip the last step of glazing the entire, warm cake in a citrus syrup – but don’t give in to temptation.  This step is an important aspect of the cake’s perfection.  It seals in the moisture and adds a tart citrus note to the rich, almond-flavored cake.  It takes 3-5 minutes and is more than worth every second of your time.

Download Tartine’s Citrus Almond Poppy Seed Cake recipe

1 Large loaf, at least 8-10 servings

For the Cake:

¾ cup (95 gram) cake flour or all-purpose flour (cake flour preferred)

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

5 Large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup (7 ounces/200 grams) almond paste, at room temperature

1 cup (7 ounces/200 grams) granulated sugar

1 cup (8 ounces/225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 16 pieces

1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

2 tablespoons (20 grams) poppy seeds

For the Citrus Glaze:

3 tbsp/45 ml Lemon juice

3 tbsp/45 ml Orange juice

3/4 cup/150 grams Sugar

Powdered sugar to coat, optional

For the Cake: 

1. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350ºF/175ºC.

2. Butter and flour an 9x5 loaf pan, or 9x4 small pullman loaf pan (if you like square shape)

3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt – twice, set aside.

4. In a 4 cup Pyrex or small bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla and whisk together until just combined, set aside.

5. Pinch of pieces of the soft almond paste into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (some recipes suggest grating it on a box grater into the bowl, I did not).

6.With mixer on low speed, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream, beating until incorporated.  Don’t go too quickly – you want this mixture to continue to break up in the bowl. 

7. On low speed, slowly add the butter one piece at a time until all of the butter is incorporated (important that the butter is soft room temperature) Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula before continuing.

8. Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.

9. With the mixture still on medium, add the eggs in a very slow, steady stream and mix until incorporated. Again, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn on the mixer one last time and mix for another 30 seconds.

10. Add the citrus zest and poppy seeds; mixing in with a wooden spoon.

11. Lastly, add the flour mixture in 2 batches. Stirring just until incorporated. Then spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula if you have one.

12. Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and a cake tester comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for roughly 5-6 minutes while you make the glaze.

For the Glaze: 

It is important to make the glaze while the cake is resting and not before – so wait to do this step. 

1. After the cake comes out of the oven, mix the juices with the sugar to dissolve the sugar, about 1-2 minutes.

2. Invert the cake onto a wire rack placed over a baking sheet or wax paper (to catch any spills)

3. Slowly brush the entire warm cake with the glaze, giving it a chance to soak before adding more glaze, until the entire mixture has been brushed onto loaf.

4. Let it cool completely on the rack. Do not try to move it until completely cool because the cake is too fragile while it is warm. For added beauty and sweetness, dust the entire top with a coat of powdered sugar before serving.

5. This cake will keep well-wrapped for a week in the refrigerator and improves with age as the flavors mature and settle.


Healthier Whole-Wheat Blueberry-Almond Muffins

Healthier Whole Wheat Almond Blueberry Muffins

 

This recipe is adapted from one in America’s Test Kitchen magazine called “Nutritious Delicious” and it delivers perfectly moist, tender, and flavorful blueberry muffins.

Download Healthier Whole-Wheat Blueberry-Almond Muffins recipe

 

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup (1 ounce/28g) sliced almonds, lightly toasted, cooled, and roughly chopped

1 cup (5½ ounces/155g) whole-wheat flour

¾ cup (3¾ ounces/107g) all-purpose flour

¾ cup (3 ounces/84g) almond flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

1 cup organic low-fat buttermilk (or 1 cup whole milk mixed with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes to thicken slightly)

⅔ cup packed (4 ¾ ounces/135g) dark brown sugar

2 large organic eggs

¼ cup canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1½ cups (7½ ounces/210g) fresh or frozen blueberries

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12-cup muffin tin, including top, generously with canola oil spray (if using paper liners, lightly mist liners).

2. Mix together whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

3. In separate bowl, whisk buttermilk (or sour milk), brown sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla together until combined. Using rubber spatula, gently stir buttermilk mixture into almond-flour mixture until just combined (do not overmix). Gently fold in blueberries until incorporated.

4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (cups will be filled to rim) and sprinkle with reserved chopped almonds. Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 16 to 18 minutes (a few minutes longer if berries were frozen), rotating muffin tin halfway through baking.

5. Let muffins cool in tin on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.


Croatian Mashed Potatoes (Restani Krumpir)

Glazed Pork Tenderloin Croatian Mashed Potatoes Restani Krumpir

I first saw these potatoes prepared on an episode of Milk Street Kitchen and thought they looked delicious. Their version is modeled after the potatoes they had tasted at Samoborska Klet restaurant in Zagreb and is a simple one-pot recipe. The potatoes are rustic and full of flavor from the slow cooked onions – a perfect side dish to Maple- Glazed pork tenderloin

Download Croatian Mashed Potatoes (Restani Krumpir) recipe

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

kosher salt and ground black pepper as needed

2 pounds (about 900grams) Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and sliced about ¼” thick

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/56 grams) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces

¼ teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika, plus more to serve

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, divided

1. In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring often, until softened and well browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer the onion to a small bowl and set aside; reserve the pot.

3. In a colander under cold running water, rinse the potatoes. Drain well, then add to the pot. Stir in ¾ cup water and ½ teaspoon salt, then distribute the potatoes in an even layer. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to medium and cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the slices almost fall apart when poked with a skewer, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. If there is water remaining in the pot, increase to medium-high and cook, uncovered and stirring often, until no moisture remains.

5. Reduce to low, add the butter and cook, stirring and mashing the potatoes with a spoon, until the butter is melted and incorporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the onion, paprika, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the chives, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with additional paprika and the remaining 1 tablespoon chives.


Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin for Two

Glazed Pork Tenderloin Croatian Mashed Potatoes Restani Krumpir

Pork tenderloin is a quick and easy option for a quick weeknight dinner. Look for the small packages of individually wrapped “natural” pork tenderloin – not enhanced or seasoned. The combination of maple syrup, mustard and smoked paprika add great flavor to this dish. I like to serve it with Croatian Mashed Potatoes, but mashed sweet potatoes or rice also work well.

Download Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin for Two recipe

PORK TENDERLOIN:

⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon dry sherry

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

¾ teaspoon grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon salt, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 (12-ounce) pork tenderloin, trimmed and silver skin removed

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1. About 30 minutes before preparation, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir ⅓ cup maple syrup, mustard, dry sherry, vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and cayenne together in small bowl; set aside until needed

2. Combine cornstarch, sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in shallow dish. Pat tenderloin dry with paper towels.

3. Heat oil in 10-inch oven safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.

4. While pan heats, roll tenderloin in cornstarch mixture until evenly coated on all sides; thoroughly pat off excess cornstarch mixture.

5. When oil is hot and just smoking, brown tenderloin well on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to plate.

6. Pour off fat from skillet and return to medium heat. Add syrup mixture to now-empty skillet, bring to simmer, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until reduced to ⅓ cup, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Return browned tenderloin to skillet and turn to coat with glaze. Transfer skillet to oven and roast tenderloin until meat registers 145 degrees, 8 to 12 minutes.

7. Using potholders (skillet handle will be hot), remove skillet from oven. Transfer tenderloin to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, being careful of hot skillet handle, transfer glaze left in skillet to small bowl and stir in remaining 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Brush tenderloin with 1 tablespoon glaze, then slice ¼ inch thick. Serve pork, passing remaining glaze separately.


Maida Heatter Inspired Marbleized Spice Bundt Cake

Maida Heatter Inspired Marbleized Spice Bundt Cake serving

I first saw this version of Spice Bundt cake in Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts. Maida was known as the “Queen of Cake” and lived to the age of 102; if you’re not familiar with her recipes, I highly recommend seeking out one of her cookbooks online. Maida’s original recipe is very good, but I found the amount of molasses in a tad overwhelming, and some of the instructions were a little time consuming (separating eggs and folding in beaten egg whites – too many dishes!) This is a more streamlined recipe but tastes excellent (maybe even better) It is a great dessert for the holidays, or during the winter months, as the spice batter is reminiscent of gingerbread.

*Note – it’s critical to bring the butter, milk, and eggs to room temperature before proceeding with recipe

Download Maida Heatter Inspired Marbleized Spice Bundt Cake

 

FOR THE VANILLA CAKE BATTTER:

½ cup (3.4 ounces/93 grams) vegetable shortening, plus more for greasing the pan

3 cups (13.5 ounces/375 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan

2 sticks (8 ounces/226 grams) unsalted butter, well softened

2 ¾ cups (19.6 ounces/560 grams) sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup whole milk, at room temperature

 

FOR THE SPICE SWIRL BATTER:

2 cups of the prepared vanilla cake batter

1/4 cup unsulfured molasses

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

 

FINISH COATING:

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar mixed with 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; position the rack in the center of the oven.

2. Thoroughly grease a 9-inch Bundt pan with some shortening, getting into every nook to ensure that the cake releases perfectly from the pan after baking. Dust the pan with the flour and tap out any excess.

3. In a medium bowl thoroughly whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside. Combine spices in a small dish and set aside.

4. Place the ½ cup (93 grams) shortening in a large bowl and, using a stand mixer, beat the shortening on medium speed until softened and spread around, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and sugar and beat together on medium low speed until the mixture looks fluffy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat the ingredients until well combined, some graininess has softened, and the texture feels more cohesive and fluffier, 3 to 5 minutes.

5. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. After the last egg, the batter may look slightly curdled.

6. Beat in the vanilla extract until combined.

7. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture. Beat on low speed until just combined and a few flour streaks remain. With the mixer motor running, add the milk and beat until just combined. The mixture may appear curdled again. Add the remaining flour and beat until combined. Using a silicone spatula, scoop batter from the bottom and sides of the bowl to the top for any hidden pockets of flour. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute to fully combine.

8. Spoon 2 cups of the vanilla cake batter into a medium bowl. Stir in molasses and reserved spices until well combined.

9. Spoon half of the plain vanilla batter into the prepared pan. Using a large kitchen spoon, dollop half of the spice batter on top of the plain batter and gently smooth over with a small offset spatula. Add the remaining plain vanilla cake batter and the remaining spice batter on top of that. Smooth the top and use a butter knife or offset spatula gently swirl the spice batter down into the vanilla cake batter. Smooth the top and place on the middle rack in the oven.

10. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, has risen, and cracked across the top. Insert a toothpick to test the doneness of the cake; it should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

11. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes and gently invert the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.

12. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar and serve

13. Cake will keep wrapped at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Maida Heatter Inspired Marbleized Spice Bundt Cake stand
Maida Heatter Inspired Marbleized Spice Bundt Cake stand


Maple Glazed Pecan Tart

Maple Glazed Pecan Tart 2

Pecan pie is always a favorite around Thanksgiving and the holidays, and this is a great alternative to a traditional pie recipe. It still has the rich caramel flavor, but the crisp, buttery crust is enhanced with ground pecans and the filling has notes of maple, bourbon, and vanilla. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, and just enjoy it on its own.

Download Maple Glazed Pecan Tart

 

Tart Crust

1 cup (5 ounces/ 141 grams) all-purpose flour

¼ cup (1 ¾ ounces/48 grams) packed light brown sugar

¼ cup (1 ounce/30 grams) coarsely chopped pecans, toasted*,

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon table salt

8 tablespoons/ 1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces/113grams)

Pecan Filling

2/3 cup (4.7 ounces/135 grams) packed light brown sugar

¼ cup (3 ounces/82 grams) light corn syrup

2 tablespoons (1 ounce/40 grams) pure maple syrup (dark amber if possible)

4 tablespoons (2ounces/56 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 tablespoon bourbon or dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

¾ cup (3 ounces/90 grams) pecans, chopped coarse, plus 14 whole pecan halves for decorating

1 -2 tablespoons of maple syrup for glazing the finished tart

FOR THE CRUST:

1. Grease or lightly spray an oblong tart pan (14”x4.5”) or four 4-inch fluted tart pans with removable bottoms; set aside.

2. Process the four, brown sugar, nuts, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until combined, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle butter pieces over the top and pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, 8-10 pulses.

3. Sprinkle mixture evenly into prepared pan(s). Mixture will be dry and crumbly, press crumbs into an even layer over bottom and up the sides using the bottom of a dry measuring cup. (it helps to start with the edges using thumb and fingers to press dough in firmly, and then pat bottom down with measuring cup)

4. Wrap tart in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 week.

5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350°F. Remove tart from freezer and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Press a double layer of aluminum foil into the frozen tart shell, over the edges, and fill with pie weights. Bake until tart shell in golden brown and set, 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Carefully remove foil and pie weights and let shell cool slightly while preparing filling.

FOR THE FILLING:

Whisk sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, melted butter, bourbon, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Whisk in eggs to combine. Stir in half the chopped walnuts, and then sprinkle remaining chopped nuts over filling. Arrange 14 pecan halves, down the center of the tart shell.

1. Bake tart on rimmed baking sheet until filling is set and nuts begin to brown, 20-25 minutes, rotating tart halfway through baking. Move pan to wire rack and brush the center nuts with maple syrup. Let tart cool completely, about 1 hour.

2. To serve, remove outer ring from tart pan, and slide a thin metal spatula between tart and tart pan bottom, and carefully slide tart onto serving platter or plate.

Maple Glazed Pecan Tart slice
Maple Glazed Pecan Tart slice
Maple Glazed Pecan Tart slice


Italian Flourless Bittersweet Chocolate Cake - Torta Barozzi

Italian Flourless Bittersweet Chocolate Cake - Torta Barozzi

Pasticceria Gollini in Vignola, Italy, not far from Modena, is home to a much-celebrated flourless chocolate cake known as torta Barozzi. Created in 1886 by pastry chef Eugenio Gollini and named for Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, a 16th-century architect, this much-loved sweet continues to be produced today according to a closely guarded secret recipe. This Torta Barozzi recipe is one interpretation found in the July-August 2021 issue of Milk Street magazine, as the original recipe has been shrouded in secrecy since it was created in 1886. With an ingredients list that almost always includes dark chocolate, nuts, rum and coffee, this cake is a guaranteed crowd pleaser that also happens to be gluten-free. Some important points before you begin: Use high quality bittersweet (70%) chocolate; beat the sugar and egg yolks very well; do not overbeat the egg whites; and most importantly, do not overbake the cake.

Download Italian Flourless Bittersweet Chocolate Cake - Torta Barozzi recipe

Ingredients

141 grams (10 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 10 pieces, plus more for the pan

134 grams (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate (about 70%, like Lindt bittersweet), chopped

20 grams (¼ cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus more for dusting

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

4 large eggs, separated, room temperature

160 grams (¾ cup) white sugar, divided

100 grams (1 cup) almond flour

½ teaspoon table salt

3 tablespoons dark rum

1. Heat the oven to 350°f with a rack in the middle position. Butter an 8-inch square pan, line the bottom with a parchment square and butter the parchment.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, cocoa, and espresso powder. Let stand for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to soften, then whisk until the mixture is smooth; cool until barely warm to the touch.

3. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks and 107 grams (½ cup) of the sugar until lightened and creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until homogeneous. Add the almond flour and salt, then whisk until fully incorporated. Whisk in the rum; set aside.

4. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining 53 grams (¼ cup) sugar, then beat until the whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Add about a third of the whipped whites to the yolk-chocolate mixture and fold with a silicone spatula to lighten and loosen the base. Scrape in the remaining whites and gently fold them into the batter until no streaks remain.

5. Transfer to the prepared pan and gently shake or tilt the pan to level the batter.

6. Bake until the cake is slightly domed, and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 to 45 minutes; the cake will deflate slightly as it cools.

7. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto a platter; needed, peel off and discard the parchment. Cool completely. Dust with cocoa before serving.

Italian Flourless Bittersweet Chocolate Cake - Torta Barozzi piece


Fast Easy Delicious Chicken Vegetable Soup

Fast Easy Delicious Chicken Vegetable Soup

This surprisingly delicious chicken soup is quick to prepare and requires only a handful of readily available ingredients. I store it in the freezer in individual serving size containers, and just grab one when I need a fast bite.

Download Fast Easy Delicious Chicken Vegetable Soup recipe

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

4-5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 parsnip, peeled and chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2-3 ribs celery, chopped

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, optional

2 bay leaves, fresh or dried

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

6 cups good quality chicken stock

2 cups water

1 pound (the average weight of 1 package) chicken breast tenders, cut into 1” cubes

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

¼ cup fresh dill, chopped

1. Place a large pot over moderate heat and add the extra virgin olive oil and heat until shimmering.

2. Work close to the stove, and add vegetables to the pot as you chop, in the order they are listed. Once all the vegetables are in, add optional diced tomatoes, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes.

3. Add chicken stock and water to the pot and raise heat to bring liquid to a boil. Add diced chicken tenderloins, return soup to a boil, and reduce heat back to moderate. Cook chicken 8-10 minutes. Remove soup from the heat. Stir in parsley and dill, remove bay leaves, and serve.


Easy Summer Peach Caprese Salad

20200805_154328 Fresh Peach Caprese Salad

A fresh twist on an old classic. This is one of the most popular summer dishes that I make. Everyone raves, but the key is not so much the recipe (which is simple and basic) but rather the availability of summer ripe peaches at their peak of freshness.

Download Easy Summer Peach Caprese Salad recipe

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1½ tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper

1-pound ripe peaches, quartered and pitted, each quarter cut into 4 slices

12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick

6 large fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces, and a few basil sprigs for garnish

White balsamic vinegar (to drizzle, optional)

1. Whisk oil, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add peaches and gently toss to coat.

2. Shingle peaches and mozzarella on serving platter. Drizzle any remaining dressing from bowl over top. Sprinkle with basil and garnish platter with basil sprigs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, with optional balsamic drizzle.


Easy Fresh Summer Tomato Pasta Caprese

Fresh Summer Pasta Caprese

 I try to make this recipe (which I found years ago in a Cook’s Illustrated magazine) every summer when tomatoes are in peak season. Inspired by the classic caprese salad, this pasta uses just a few ingredients that depends on high quality ingredients – ripe tomatoes, great olive oil, and fresh buffalo mozzarella.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 - 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, more if needed depending on tomatoes

1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)

1 small shallot, minced fine (about 2 tablespoons)

Salt and ground black pepper

1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice

12 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 pound penne pasta or other short tubular or curly pasta such as fusilli or campanelle

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon sugar, if needed, depending on the ripeness of the tomatoes

1. Whisk oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella and gently toss to combine; set aside. Do not marinate for longer than 45 minutes.

2. While tomatoes are marinating, bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain well.

3. Add pasta to tomato and mozzarella mixture and gently toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice or sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.