Saturday, December 31, 2011

stuff we've been making

As 2011 draws to a close, I thought I'd share a few of the recipes that kept us busy over the holidays. Both Hanna and I had this past week off from work (hooray for slightly anachronistic academic schedules!) so we were able to while away even more time than usual in coffee shops and in the kitchen. Over the past week we've made the following, all of which come highly recommended:

Joy the Baker | Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie Cake. I didn't actually chill the dough, as recommended, and it came out just fine.

The Way the Cookie Crumbles | Mushroom Farro Soup. Made with barley instead of farro 'cause that's what we had around. And a bit more tomato paste than the recipe calls for. Particularly good as left-overs.

smitten kitchen | cinnamon brown butter breakfast puffs. We just sprinkled cinnamon sugar on the tops of these muffins, rather than rolling them in butter, and thought they came out very tasty all the same.

smitten kitchen | nutmeg maple butter cookies. As it says on the tin. We found these worked best as tiny cookies, since they're basically maple shortbread ... a couple of bites go a long way!

via
And from Hanna's father, a recipe for lentil cakes that we modified into lentil casserole:

Lentil-Curry Casserole


Makes: 8 x 8 baking dish (four to six servings, depending on whether main- or side dish)


1 3/4 cups cooked lentils, any kind
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
olive oil, for frying
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees; lightly oil 8 x 8 glass baking dish and set aside.
2. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent, add curry powder, salt and pepper.
3. In a medium bowl, combine crumbled feta, lentils, eggs, milk, and 1 cup of breadcrumbs.
4. Add sauteed onion mixture to bowl, stir until well combined.
5. Spoon mixture into baking dish and spread evenly, sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs on top.
6. Bake for 35 minutes until edges are browning and casserole is firm to the touch.

The casserole is excellent hot or cold, and stores well for left-overs (we've made it twice now and it packed well for lunch at work.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Kahlua Fudge Sauce









I spent the Saturday before Christmas making this chocolate sauce for Christmas gifts. After four hours I had 40 half pints! Next year I may try this one from Smitten Kitchen http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/12/peppermint-hot-fudge-sauce/

Kahlua Fudge Sauce

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup cocoa powder

Mix these three ingredients in a sauce pan with a whisk.

Add the following:

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
1/2 cup butter

Heat over lowish heat stirring constantly. Once combined I whisk for a while for a smooth consistency. Bring to a hard boil; boil for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and add:

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Fill warm jars with sauce. Canning procedure hasn't been necessary; the jars seal themselves mostly. If not, well, that's just more for you.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chai Rose Cookies

Last May when Hanna and I were in Holland (Mich.) I ordered a drink at lemonjello's that was a chai latte with a shot of rose flavoring. Heaven on earth. The problem is, rose flavoring is a rare offering at coffee shops and not the sort of thing that's easy to find at grocery stores, even a number of our favorite specialty shops here in Boston. But this morning Hanna and I were in Harvard Square for coffee and window shopping + actual shopping and I found rose water at the fabulous Cardullo's. So tonight we decided to make cookies using rose water, and found the following recipe on the Food Network website. We followed it with slight tweaks, so here is the altered version:

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon rosewater

Instructions


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

1) Combine flour and spices in a bowl and set aside.

2) Cream butter and oil and brown sugar, mix in rose water.

3) Add dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Cookie dough will be crumbly, like a dry pie crust dough.

4) Use hands to form walnut-sized balls of dough and place on a cookie sheet roughly 2 inches apart.

5) Bake for 15 minutes and use spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack for cooling.

Serve with warm milk and/or chai tea.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Maple-Honey Martini

Hanna and I are kicking back and relaxing this evening to watch part one of Ken Burns' Prohibition. What better beverage to pair with dinner, therefore, than something alcoholic? We decided to go with a martini I invented on the fly last weekend:

  • 1/3 whiskey
  • 1/3 honey liquor
  • 1/3 maple syrup
  • ice
You know the drill: mix the liquids thoroughly, add an ice cube to chill. Enjoy ... slowly.

And the first half hour of the documentary is pretty promising.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eggplant Almond Gouda Meatloaf


from back in August, but still more or less accurate
On Sunday our CSA allotment contained two eggplant with which we decided to make dinner. I started with this eggplant meatball recipe from our CSA farm blog, added a few elements from the Moosewood cookbook's eggplant almond enchiladas and improvised liberally with what we had in the kitchen. If I might be allowed to brag a bit, the result was edible and in fact may be replicated in the near future!

INGREDIENTS:

2 small-to-medium eggplant, roasted and mashed (see below)
1 small onion, minced
1 green chile, minced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can tomato paste (4 oz.)
3/4 cup red wine of your choice
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup grated smoked gouda cheese
3 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp basil
1 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

eggplant are essentially rude vegetables
DIRECTIONS:

1. Turn oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Stab eggplant with a knife (as you would a potato) and place on a baking tin. Set to bake for 30 minutes.

2. While the eggplant is roasting, mince the onion, garlic and chile and saute in olive oil. Once onions are translucent add spices, 1/4 cup red wine, and approximately 1/3 of the can of tomato paste. let simmer for about 5 minutes and then turn off the heat. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, almond meal, and grated cheese. Toss with fingers until mixed.

4. Remove the eggplant from the oven, skin and chop (you may need to let them eggplant cool a bit so you don't burn your fingers!). Put through a blender or food processor with remaining 1/2 cup of red wine to turn the eggplant to mush.

5. Add eggplant mixture and onion mixture to the bread crumbs, almonds, and cheese. Mix with hands to thoroughly combine.

6. Press meatloaf into a buttered glass loaf pan. Use the remaining tomato paste to cover the top of the loaf.

7. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. 

8. Slice and enjoy! Also works well as leftovers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Via smitten kitchen.

Hanna requested dessert for this evening, and since I'd been salivating over this recipe all week I decided to go for it. Actually super easy.

butter + sugar + wine = deliciousness
INGREDIENTS:

6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup red wine, any kind (we used a merlot)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 generous cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 generous teaspoon cinnamon

eggs in afternoon sunlight
DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325; grease 9-inch cake round or 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
1. Cream butter and sugars until smooth.
2. Add egg and beat until smooth.
3. Add wine and vanilla.
4. Combine dry ingredients and then add to liquid about 1/4 cup at a time.
5. Bake 25-30 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean), let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.

smitten kitchen includes a recipe for marscapone topping which we didn't make but ... yeah. Sounds tasty!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Black Bean Mango Salsa

Sorry for the delay. I know you've all been waiting for the now infamous BBM Salsa.... Quite delicious and probably also good on fish or as a side salad

1 can black beans rinsed and drained
1 cup diced mango chopped the Janet Cook way...
1 roma tomato chopped coarsely, or very tiny, Leigh's strategy.
1/2 cup yellow pepper diced
1/2 cup orange pepper diced
1/4 cup red onion finely diced
1TBS jalapeno minced, with seeds for more heat
1TBS cilantro chopped
2TBS lime juice squeezed
Salt to taste

Next up: canned peaches...


Monday, August 22, 2011

SALSA COMPETITION


Here we (Lyn, Janet, Leigh) are last Saturday dishing up salsa at the Holland Farmer's Market salsa competition. About 16 teams. All different kinds of salsa with varying degrees of burn. The guy next to us, who was wearing hot pepper apron and chef's hat, promoted his entry as "applesauce with a little bite." NOT. Not little. We pitched many, many of those sample cups that his customers couldn't finish because of its vicious hotness. But he won a prize, and we didn't, so ... next year we need to ramp it up.

Most of the kids gave our salsa a big thumbs up, though! I'll get Lyn to post the recipe. It was beautiful, tasty and contained complete protein ... so, healthy too! You could eat it for salad or as an accompaniment for fish or poultry.

Our spiel: "Our salsa speaks for itself."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Corn-Cucumber Tabouli

Here's a recipe I made up last week when we were having some friends over for a Doctor Who night and needed something to go with the crackers and cheese. It turned out so well that we made it again last night.

CORN-CUCUMBER TABOULI

4 ears of corn, steamed and cut from the cob
2 small cucumbers, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1/4 cup fresh mint, minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbl sugar
1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Basically, once you've cooked the corn and diced everything, the assembly of this salad involves throwing everything in a bowl and mixing well. If you want the flavors to meld a bit, assembling it earlier in the day helps, and also allows time for the corn to cool. Otherwise, it is also tasty at room temperature!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Maple-Mustard Dressing

Our friend Minerva recently suggested we check out The Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (2007). It bills itself as the "ultimate vegan cookbook," and although we aren't vegan (honey! cheese! ice cream!) we had such good luck with the vegan cookie book offered by this same pair that our brains just went "what the hell!" and we checked it out of the library. 


So far, one of the winner recipes has been this tasty maple-mustard dressing (p. 93):

3 Tbl maple syrup (maple-agave, agave or honey also works ... but maple syrup!!)
2 Tbl apple cider vinegar
2 Tbl mustard (Dijon is tasty, but choose your favorite)
3 Tbl olive oil (or oil of choice ... you getting the idea?)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together and combine well (we've had good luck putting them in a jam jar and shaking with the lid firmly sealed). Store in the fridge; this will keep well for several weeks.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Veg Mix": A Recipe from Kevin

Hanna and I just got back from Hanna's parents' home in Maine, where they preside over an abundant vegetable garden and three chickens who provide lovely, lovely eggs (especially, says Hanna, if you feed them comfrey from the plants in front of the house).

Future summer squash.
We eat well and plentifully when we are in Maine, thanks to Hanna's father Kevin who does most of the cooking. And we always come home with bags and boxes filled with vegetables picked straight from the garden and canned goods -- hot pepper jelly, strawberry jam, pickled beets, and more.

A happy hen
(a Buff Orpington, Hanna says).
We have more than one recipe on file from Kevin (the "file" being a blue folder stuffed with bits of paper -- something that deserves a post of its own one of these days!), but I thought I'd share this one with you because it's so good for using up summer veggies. We find that the amounts listed here are roughly good for a two-person meal, with some possibly left over for lunch the next day. Expand as necessary and improvise with the veggies you happen to have around. The scrap of yellow notepaper just describes this as "Veg Mix" though I think technically it did come from a recipe book at one point. We have also been known to call it "that tasty veggie squodge" around here.

Lunch at the Clutterbucks
VEG MIX (BY KEVIN)


2 large carrots, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
1 large onion, diced
2-3 oz feta cheese
1/4 cup white flour
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1 Tbl parsley
Salt and pepper as desired
1 large egg

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and use olive oil to grease a 9" glass pie plate or equivalent baking dish.

2. Mix grated carrots, zucchini, onion, and feta in a medium bowl.

3. Mix flour and spices together, then toss with veggies until coated.

4. Whisk egg and then add to veggie mix using hands to thoroughly combine.

5. Press into baking pan and cook for 20-30 minutes until the top begins to look slightly golden and crusty.

6. Serve hot, cut into wedges, as a main or side dish. Reheats beautifully and is also tasty cold.

Friday, July 29, 2011

In Celebration of the Biscuit



Our favorite restaurant for breakfast in Holland is The Biscuit; it's in the neighborhood, lots of interesting choices like Veggie Hash and Spanish Bennies, and of course delicious fresh made biscuits. According to the NYT this week, there has been some debate about how to make the best biscuits (see link) and the NYT has weighed in with a couple of winning recipes using regular flour, levening, a little sugar, milk and butter in one; and cake flour (whaaaa?)in the other. I guess it's the difference between flaky vs crumbly. I vote flaky. In any case, check out the article which also includes a recipe for sausage gravy. Below I have added a Cooking Light recipe for Ham and Cheese "Scones." I say they are more like biscuits and so easy.


Ham and Cheese Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped 33%-less-sodium ham (about 3 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheese and ham. Combine buttermilk and egg whites, stirring with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 4 to 5 times with floured hands. Pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cut dough into 8 wedges, cutting into but not through dough. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Monday, July 18, 2011

NOT POTATO SALAD . . .





POTATO SALAD.






I've always wanted to do that! Destination of peels and shells: our compost heap. Destination of potato salad: Mark's 60th birthday picnic. No recipe, because it's pretty standard potato salad.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Curry Shakshuka

Last week, beginning on the 4th of July, we has a stretch of HOT, muggy days wherein no one really feels like cooking or eating until about 10pm at night when the sun has gone down. And when one does get hungry, turning on the oven is not advisable.

Because you don't feel like cooking, it's also hard to consider shopping. Especially when you're in the middle of walking the three miles from work home through the late-afternoon urban fug. So on Tuesday night, we improvised with what we had in the fridge and the cupboards ... and came out with this sauteed vegetable curry with poached eggs. I'm calling it "curry shakshuka."



INGREDIENTS:

2 medium zucchini (approx 5" each), chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 tsp. crushed garlic (or 1-2 cloves, minced)
1 cup frozen or fresh sweetcorn (I used Trader Joe's roasted for the flavor)
2 veggie burgers, crumbled (optional; for extra protein)
4 eggs
1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt
2 Tbl. curry powder



INSTRUCTIONS:

1. In a large frying pan, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until onions start to go translucent.

2. Add zucchini and saute until zucchini begins to soften

3. Add corn and protein (if desired), stir thoroughly and leave to heat through.

4. Mix yogurt and curry powder thoroughly, adding water as needed to thin the mixture until about the consistency of tomato sauce. Pour into veggies and stir until combined.

5. Add water as necessary to make sure the veggies have plenty of liquid. Crack eggs into the center of the veggies and cover to poach. 5-7 minutes? I'm bad at poached eggs, so go with whatever you usually do! (This is where having enough liquid will help make sure the bottom of the veggie mixture doesn't burn as the eggs cook!)

6. Serve hot ... you may wish for more yogurt (greek style is tasty!) to cut the curry.


It's also tasty as chilled left-overs!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


ODE TO TOAST

Beautiful lovely wonderful toast,

You are the best, you are the most.

I eat you for breakfast, I eat you for lunch--

As a snack in between, if I need to munch.

Put on lots of butter, then watch it melt;

I’ve eaten so much I must loosen my belt.

Toast you taste nicer than all the rest;

You are the most, you are the best.

You taste so good with jelly or honey;

You feel so good filling up my tummy.

You taste so much better than regular bread;

Without you to feed me I’d prob’ly be dead.

Beautiful lovely wonderful toast,

You are the best, you are the most.

Monday, July 4, 2011


I like this recipe’s slight sweetness—due to dried fruit. I’ve taken it to a lot of potlucks, and most people like it. The only drawback to the recipe is that you have to make it several hours ahead so the couscous has time to cool off.

CITRUS COUSCOUS SALAD

2 cups fresh orange juice, divided 1 ½-1/2

½ cup water

1 tsp. salt

1 (10-oz.) package of couscous (1 2/3 cups)

½ cup dried apricots, chopped

½ cup currants

2 Tbl. red wine vinegar

1-2 cups chopped seeded cucumber (I like it and use more)

¾ cup chopped green onions

¼ cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil

½ cup coarsely chopped pistachios, served at table

Bring 1 ½ cups orange juice, water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Place couscous in a large bowl.

Combine ½ cup orange juice, apricots, currants and vinegar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes. Drain and discard cooking liquid.

Add apricot mixture, cucumber, onions and mint to couscous. Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil and drizzle over couscous.

Provide chopped pistachios for people to sprinkle on top at table.

Happy 4th of July

It's muggy today in Boston, with highs in the 80s ... the sort of weekend weather I always imagine they had in Jaws (or while filming Jaws). Folks with more money than Hanna and I are probably spending the holiday weekend out on the Cape. The city feels fairly deserted, in fact.

The neighborhood sparrows can be quite insistent that
what you thought was your brioche is actually theirs.
This morning we were able to walk down to one of our favorite coffee shops, Tatte, and enjoy our weekend ritual of brioche and lattes and the cafe's copy of The New York Times Book Review

The pear marmalade is to die for.
While this isn't particularly traditional holiday fair, it was nice to have the leisure time to sit and people watch (and small yappy-type dog watch) and feed the greedy sparrows. What food (traditional or non!) are y'all enjoying this holiday weekend? 

Sunday, June 19, 2011



WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE CATALONIANS

For the last five years, I’ve provided childcare for a family whose father is from the Catalan region of Spain. The whole family migrates to Spain for a month each summer, and the kids take for granted many Spanish traditions, including culinary ones. The first fall I worked for them, I was clueless when the kids asked for food. I would ask them what they wanted for breakfast, for example, and 4-year-old Eva would tell me she wanted me to squeeze a tomato onto bread. I kind of got the tomato and the bread, but the squeezing seemed weird. And when I tried to make what she wanted, Eva told me it was all wrong.

So here is the true and right way to make this breakfast (or bread accompaniment, or appetizer), which I always think of as raw bruschetta. Online it’s labeled Pa amb Tomaquet and identified as the “national comfort food” of Catalonia.

Cut or break a baguette, white or whole wheat, into 4-6” sections; then halve them. You can toast them if you want to. Cut a couple of small juicy tomatoes in half and squeeze and spread tomato guts onto each bread. This makes them kind of pink. If you toasted the bread, you can also squash a couple of garlic cloves and smear these across the bread. Pour and spread about a teaspoon of good olive oil across each bread. Finish tops with good ground salt.

Nice summer fare, and it makes you feel so cosmopolitan! It's easy; Eva says, "Just do it!"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

nuts + chocolate = need I say more?

every well-stocked kitchen
should have some...
Yesterday, my boss was out sick and Hanna suggested that we make her cookies as a get well treat. We adapted a thumbprint cookie recipe from our favorite vegan cookie book, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, by using Nutella instead of jam. When I took them in to work this afternoon, Elaine declared the experiment a success and suggested that perhaps she should call in sick more often if this would be the result! Since Hanna and I more or less agreed with her, I figured we should share our recipe with the rest of you good folks.

Chocolate-Almond-Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies
adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup almond butter*
1/3 cup chocolate almond milk*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup hazelnuts, ground or finely chopped*
About 1/3 cup Nutella (for filling)

*we've made these cookies with a variety of ground nuts, nut butters, and types of milk (dairy and non-dairy), so feel free to experiment! basically, this is a totally forgiving recipe. what I listed here is what we used last night.

1) Preheat oven to 350 fahrenheit

2) In a medium mixing bowl, mix oil, brown sugar, nut butter, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.

3) Add dry ingredients: flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and ground nuts. Mix until thoroughly incorporated. The dough will be pliable, kind of like homemade playdough.

4) Roll about a tablespoon of dough in your hands to form each cookie. Place on a cookie sheet roughly an inch and a half apart (the cookies won't spread, but you need room to press them down into rounds).

5) Press your thumb into each cookie to create the thumbprint dimple.

6) Bake 15-18 minutes and remove from cookie sheet to a cooling rack.

7) Once the cookies have cooled slightly from just-out-of-the-oven hot (but not cooled entirely), spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of Nutella into the center of each cookie. The Nutella should melt down just enough to fill each center.

8) Eat now or later. Do remember to share.

NOTE: If storing, cookies should not be stacked on top of one another since the Nutella will generally stay soft enough to glue the cookies together. We haven't tried putting them in the fridge, but this might make the centers hard enough for more compact storage.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What's in the Fridge?


Last night, instead of baking zucchini and chicken enchiladas in the 90 degree heat, I rummaged in the refrigerator for something to go with mushroom ravioli. I sauteed some tiny tomatoes (which turned out to be remarkably meaty) with hot turkey italian sausage, added sliced orange bell peppers and last but not least fresh spinach. I sprinkled in a little basil and fennel and cooked the whole thing for as long as I felt like cooking it. Each serving of the vegetable mixture was topped with some ravioli and grated parmesan cheese. Easy breezy and completely delicious - I'm not usually successful at making stuff up so it was a pleasant surprise.

What's your favorite original dish?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


THE MORE NUTS THE BETTER

When I was thirteen, my parents sent me to Connecticut to spend a summer month with family friends. I came from a tidy Midwestern household where my mom put away peanut butter before I could make my sandwich, so at first I found it worrisome that this Connecticut household was neither tidy nor predictable. The mother of the family, Annie, was a serious portrait artist, and for starters, they had a large studio on the main floor of their house that was available for anyone who wanted to dabble in art; we could leave out our materials and half-finished projects to come back to later, or never. Their whole house was a scramble of antique, secondhand, and homemade. There were three young children, not that tame, and many household animals. The father, Mac, was besotted with his kids and full of warmth and fun. On the way home from a drive-in movie, he heard music he liked on the car radio and stopped in a parking lot to get out and dance with his young daughters. The balance of worry and delight shifted for me during the month I stayed with them.

Their meals were, like the rest of their lives, free form. One morning, before we had eaten breakfast, Annie announced, “We’re going to make brownies … the more nuts the better!”—a rallying cry that so perfectly reflected the exuberance and generosity of their family. So, that’s where this story is going … brownies.

For me, brownies are linked to my memories of this summer in Connecticut with this lovely, disheveled family, and I like them to be as full of nuts as possible. I also like them cakey, which is anathema to people (including Larry) who like them gooey. And one person in my own family hated nuts, so whenever we made the following recipe, we had to have a “nuts” and a “no-nuts” side in the pan. The recipe is from the original Moosewood Cookbook and has surprisingly little flour in it. Just lots and lots of butter, sugar, chocolate and eggs. And nuts … if you’re me.

MOOSEWOOD BROWNIES

Let soften ½ pound butter (don’t melt it).

Melt 5 oz. unsweetened chocolate. Let cool.

Cream the butter with 1 ¾ cups packed light brown sugar and 5 eggs. Add 1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract. Beat in the melted, cooled chocolate and 1 cup flour.

Optional: Stir in TONS OF NUTS.

Spread into a buttered 9 X 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until center doesn’t jiggle anymore.

Monday, May 30, 2011

summer is here: ergo, iced tea

Hanna and I just returned to Boston yesterday from our vacation in Michigan ... in time for the first hot spell. The weather is sunny and humid and still. The cat is irritable at the heat and at our being gone. We hauled out the fans and are scrambling to remember what food we feel like eating in the summer, and how exactly we stay cool.

One strategy is definitely lots of iced tea.

iced tea brewing

I just woke up from an afternoon nap to the sound of Hanna making iced tea. Here it is steeping on the kitchen counter.

one of our favorite teas for icing

Iced tea is really simple to make: boil water, add tea bags or loose tea, brew to taste and chill. Serve over ice.

This batch is made with Tazo's "Passion" tea, which is an herbal blend of hibiscus flower, orange peel, licorice, cinnamon, rose hips, lemongrass, and red poppy. It's been one of our favorite blends for icing in the past. Fruity teas can be really nice lightly sweetened with honey, or can stand on their own without sweetener at all.


When I'm buying ready-made iced tea, one of the best brands available here in New England is Sweet Leaf Tea, to which Hanna introduced me when I moved out here to Boston. I'm also partial to ordering (or making) Arnold Palmers, or half-iced-tea / half-lemonade coolers which cut the sweet of the lemonade and the bite of the stronger black teas.

What are your favorite teas for brewing to ice, and if you're buying iced drinks in the summer, what are your all-time favorites? Leave your picks in comments!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Speaking of cupcakes. . .


I was looking forward to Lyn's post of the red Velvet cupcakes but alas, her virtuous side prevailed and we were treated to the Kale & Bean Casserole. Which I have yet to try but, I'm sure is delicious.

Still craving cupcakes, I managed to convince my friend Lisa's 4 year old daughter Nina we needed to make cupcakes for her Mom's birthday.

Armed with the May issue of Real Simple we first made the "chocolate" cupcake. Then went into a decorating frenzy with cookies, sprinkles, colored sugar (Nina! stop eating that!), chocolate chips, strawberries, choco nibs (whatever they are), food coloring and whatever else we could find in the cabinet and refrigerator.

It was great fun and even earned us a post on her Dad's facebook page.

This awesome article, "The only cake story you'll ever need" consisted of 2 basic cakes, 6 frostings, 3 fillings, 12 toppings 6 "tips for better baking", and a plethora of decorating ideas. 256,620 options . . . really they did the math!

I hope Sam and Max will be ready to do some baking when I visit in July. Hey! Isn't it their Dad's birthday in July?

Monday, May 16, 2011



Chicken


As children, and like many others, we were allowed to choose the dinner on our birthdays. My sister Susan called me a few days before my 50th birthday to ask if I remembered my choice. I did and it was the same every year - chicken and rice casserole made with cream of chicken soup, whole milk with buttered bread crumbs on top. While my father was the cook in the household, this dish was prepared by my mother.


My current sensibilities don't allow me to acutally eat cream of chicken soup and whole milk and all that butter in one sitting so this variation on the chicken and rice theme from Cooking Light really fits the bill for me. The little bit of heavy cream feels a little decadent. Larry really like this too, which is a bonus. My previous posting, "Slow Baked Beans and Kale" I eat alone...


Chicken and Rice


1 TBS Olive Oil

8 Bone-in chicken thighs, skinned

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups chopped onion

1 carrot, thinly sliced

8 ozs cremini mushrooms, sliced

4 garlic cloves

1 cup long grain rice

Cooking Spray

1 cup fat free, lower sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup water

3 TBS heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup grated fresh pecorino romano cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350


2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add 4 chicken thighs to pan; saute three minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan. Repeat with remaining chicken.


3. Add onion and carrot to pan; saute 4 minutes. Add mushrooms; saute 5 minutes. Add garlic; saute 1 minute stirring constantly. Add rice; saute 1 minute. Spoon rice mixture into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish coated with cooking spray; stir in broth, water and cream. Arrange chicken over rice mixture; sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until chicken is done.


Serves 4


Calories: 519

Fat: 16.3

Protein: 37.3

Carb: 53.5

Fiber: 2.9


Sunday, May 15, 2011




EGGS

I currently buy my eggs at a local health food store that buys them from a local farm where the chickens are free to eat bugs and greens. The yolks are an amazing orange-yellow color. I’ve known many people who’ve kept their own chickens. I’ve been given my share of those faintly blue or green eggs, with those deeply yellow yolks, and have tried to come up with recipes that will seem worthy. Egg people love their chickens, and they usually have the best egg recipes. But the following isn’t so much a recipe; it’s just more of an appreciation of what a great ground eggs can make for a meal.

In my twenties I spent a lot of time with a family I knew who had established their own small farm and who tended their own animals, including chickens. Their children enjoyed the task of gathering eggs. And they named the chickens, which was a problem only if they planned on a chicken dinner later on. A favorite meal in the springtime was scrambled eggs with asparagus and cheese. I shared this meal with them many times. It hooked me on asparagus. If you’ve never tried it, you should—just a simple, not-that-seasoned combo. We might have sprinkled fresh chives on the scramble. (Asparagus flavor can get overwhelmed by almost anything, so maybe bland is better.)



This is a photo of a very young Maggie who seems interested in the chickens, but maybe worried too. Names? Cocky Locky and Iddy Biddy. Never eaten.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

simple lentil & matzo ball soup

Photograph by Anna, May 2011
Last week, when Hanna was recovering from a nasty spring cold and Anna was in the final throes of her thesis presentation preparations, we were looking for bland comfort food that we could make without going to the grocery store. What we came up with was a surprisingly tasty variation of lentil soup spruced up with matzo balls. You could probably make your own, but we just put ours together from a mix picked up at the local kosher grocery.

Beyond Basic Lentil Soup: 


1 cup dried lentils

3 cups of vegetable broth (can substitute water + vegetarian bouillon)

1 can diced tomatoes

1 bay leaf

Salt & pepper to taste

You can obviously use this as a base to improvise upon. Like garlic? Onion? Fancy curry spice and some raisins? Have at it!

1. Heat broth in soup pan and add lentils and bay leaf. Cook until soft (usually 20-30 minutes). You can work on the matzo balls while the lentils cook.

2. While lentils are cooking, prepare matzo ball dough.

3. Set water to boil for matzo balls. This should be in a pan deep enough to boil the matzo balls and it should have a cover, preferably with some sort of vent for steam.

4. Add tomatoes and salt and pepper to the lentil mixture. Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure the lentils still have enough liquid.

5. When the water for the matzo balls boils, wet your hands and roll the matzo dough into walnut-sized balls. Drop them into the boiling water. They will sink to the bottom and then fairly quickly rise to the top in the boiling water. Turn the heat down to a gentle boil and leave for half an hour to cook.

6. Drain the matzo balls. Dish up the soup and spoon desired number of matzo balls into each bowl (I recommend more rather than less).

7. Top with cheese as desired (yum!). Serve hot.

This also makes excellent leftovers, reheating in the microwave beautifully in about 2 minutes. We recommend storing the cooked matzo balls separately from the soup, so that they don't just turn to mush.

Sunday, May 8, 2011



SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESS: 25 CENTS, OR A QUARTER



It’s the beginning of Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan. We live near the hub of downtown activity, Centennial Park. Crowds of people wander among the tulips and small ponds; high school Dutch Dancers perform regularly in the streets around the park; and food concessions are set up where they expect crowds of munchy spectators. Activity ramps up on parade days (there are three).

The neighborhoods near us are full of families with enterprising children, and they know a good deal when they see it. Today, and all through the events of next week, there will be lemonade and cookie stands lining our streets. I try to share my business among all of them. This photo, though a typical scene in any year, was taken eight years ago. My neighbors’ daughters are selling cookies for 25 cents each. Well, you can read the sign. I think they were sugar cookies.

The local history museums, especially the Cappon House, the home of Holland’s first mayor, are prepared for a constant parade of out-of-town visitors during Tulip Time. In springs past, both of my daughters enjoyed dressing up in turn-of-the-century clothes and guiding tours through the Cappon House. The following recipe, which is supposed to have come from the Cappons themselves, has become our stand-by for cookie cutter cookies. They’re a beautiful color and they hold their shape well. I’ve never run into anyone who doesn’t like them. You can sprinkle them with sugar, fine or coarse, to make them prettier.

CAPPON GINGERSNAPS

(60 small cookies)

1 cup butter (room temperature)

1 cup white sugar (can reduce by ¼)

1/3 cup molasses

½ tsp. vanilla

1 egg

3 cups white flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

1 ½ tsp. powdered ginger

1/8 tsp. salt

Optional sugar for top

Cream together sugar and butter. Add vanilla, egg and molasses. Combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. The dough will be very thick. Divide into 3 pieces and roll each into a log shape (or form flat pieces to roll). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours. Slice into ¼ inch rounds or cut into shapes. Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes.

(Someone told me that to keep the logs round as they firm up in the refrigerator, you can save cardboard tubes and rest the dough in those. I rubber band them closed around the wrapped dough. It works pretty well. Probably also obsessive.)

Slow-Baked Beans with Kale

Thanks to all who contributed to my birthday blog!

For my first post, I thought I should share the recipe with which I spent most of Saturday - the Cook's Illustrated "Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes." The recipe spanned three pages, three different mixtures, 12 ozs bittersweet chocolate ( actually, only 10 but I taste tested...) and 12 tablespoons of butter among other typical cupcake ingredients. It is simply too long to post here (though maybe later in three parts) so I thought I would instead share the NYT recipe for Slow-Baked Beans with Kale.