Monday, December 21, 2009
Meyer lemons from her tree in sunny Cali-foh-ni-ah! They just look like Christmas, don't they? What a ray of sunlight on this cold and gloomy day. Meyer lemons are uncommon and expensive on the East Coast, so I've never bought them before. Can't wait to use them all up!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
This is mine.
It was born over six (six!) years ago in a third-floor dorm room in the little town of Amherst, MA.
It's the kind of family where weirdness is accepted. Actually, it's encouraged. (See picture above.)
It's the kind of family that's withstood 3,000-plus-mile distances, boyfriends, breakups, travel, illness, countless job changes...and come out no worse for wear.
If you've got family like this, make them these cakes. Because that's what family's about: love, and lava cake.
Chocolate lava cakes
adapted from Unilever
6 Tbs. butter
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Grease 4 (4-oz.) ramekins.
In medium bowl, microwave butter with chocolate until melted, about 45 seconds. Beat in sugar, flour and salt with wire whisk until blended. Beat in eggs, egg yolks and vanilla. Evenly spoon into prepared ramekins. Refrigerate 1 hour (up to 1 day, covered).
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange ramekins on baking sheet. Bake 13 minutes or until edges are firm but centers are still slightly soft. (DO NOT OVERBAKE or you will ruin everything!) Cool 5 minutes on wire rack.
To serve, carefully run sharp knife around cake edges. Unmold onto serving plates. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired.
*To bake in a muffin pan, spoon batter into 8 muffin cups and refrigerate as above. When ready to bake, heat oven to 425 degrees F and fill empty muffin cups halfway with water. Bake about 9 minutes. Makes 8.
(Thanks to Heatro for the pics.)
Saturday, November 21, 2009
This time of year always makes me think about God, or the absence of God. I haven't yet decided, and maybe never will. One thing i do believe in, and think about a lot during the holidays, is nature--the changing of seasons, the perfect balance of the universe. In these hard times, it can be challenging to stay faithful to anything, whether it's God, nature or whatever higher power you may believe in. I find cooking keeps me sane, or happy, in any case. And nothing restores my faith in nature more than making yeast bread.
Have you tried baking with yeast? A lot of people are intimidated by it, because it seems finicky and demanding (after all, yeast is a living organism). But once you get started, it's really simple to work with, and the results are truly worth it. And it's as close to magic you'll ever get in the kitchen.
These caramelized onion rolls (from the Pioneer Woman again) are easy, delicious and make your home smell like a bakery. You start with a simple, almost-no-knead yeast dough, fold in some chopped fresh herbs (I used oregano) and caramelized onions and garlic, shape into rounds and bake. Delicious!
Caramelized Onion and Oregano Rolls
adapted from the Pioneer Woman
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups warm water
3 tsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. olive oil
3 cups bread flour (I used all-purpose and it turned out fine)
2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly chopped herbs to taste (I used oregano; PW uses rosemary)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Saute sliced onions and minced garlic in olive oil over medium heat until brown and caramelized, about 10 min. Cool.
Pour warm water in a bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top. Add sugar and olive oil, then stir gently with a fork until combined. Set aside.
Combine flour and salt in a separate bowl.
Alternately add flour mixture, onions and herbs to yeast mixture, stirring gently until dough is combined. (It'll be sticky.)
Generously flour a flat surface. Knead dough 15 to 20 times, adding flour generously to make it easier to handle. (Keep it sticky, though!) Drizzle olive oil in a separate bowl and add the ball of dough, turning to coat. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Divide dough into eight portions and form a round from each piece. Place on baking sheet and allow to rise for 20 min. Bake for 20 min. or until brown. About 5 min. before the bread is done, brush with butter and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Monday, November 2, 2009
as anyone who's ever lived with me can attest, i read cookbooks like novels, and one of the newest additions to my ever-growing collection is the pioneer woman cooks by ree drummond. have you read it yet? it's funny, beautifully photographed and filled with the most indulgent recipes you can imagine. (seriously, i've never seen more butter in my life. it's amazing.) anyway, i'll forever be indebted to ms. drummond for this cinnamon bun recipe, which i made on halloween and carried around the city like some pastry-wielding trick-or-treater.
disclaimer: if you're frightened by high-calorie treats...look away.
adapted from the pioneer woman cooks
1 quart whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp. (2 pkgs.) active dry yeast
9 cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
1 scant tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs. salt
3 sticks very soft butter
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar
a pinch of salt, if using unsalted butter
1 lb. powdered sugar
3 Tbs. whole milk
4 Tbs. melted butter
3 Tbs. brewed coffee
For the dough, scald the milk, oil and sugar in a large saucepot over medium heat (do not boil). Set aside and cool to lukewarm, about 1 hour.
Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute. Add 8 cups of the flour; stir. (If the dough looks very liquidy, add another cup of flour.) Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a relatively warm place to rise for 1 hour.
Remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and the remaining cup of flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. (If not using the dough right away, you can refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the pot.)
To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30x10 inches. To make the filling, pour half the softened butter over the surface of the dough, using your fingers or the back of a spoon to spread the butter evenly. Sprinkle half the cinnamon, sugar and salt (if using) over the butter.
Beginning at the long end farthest from you, roll the rectangle of dough tightly toward you into a log. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together. With a sharp knife, make 1-inch slices. One log will produce about 25 rolls. Arrange the slices in greased 9-inch cake or pie pans. Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough. (I ended up with 8 pans of about 7 rolls each.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Allow the rolls to rise for about 30 minutes before baking. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown.
While the rolls are baking, make the icing: In a bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, milk, butter and coffee until smooth. Drizzle generously over the warm rolls. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing, becoming gooier and sweeter.
Yum! This makes a LOT of cinnamon buns, so bring them to all your friends. it's the nice thing to do. and, let's face it, the only way to fit into your jeans tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
i discovered it my freshman year at amherst (another quintessential fall thing) when my friend caitlin's mom sent over a homemade jar of the sweet, spicy spread. it was a revelation--turning everything from whole wheat toast to saltine crackers into something like apple pie. and, as any mcdonald's employee in the tri-state area can attest, i'm a sucker for apple pie. (it's the only thing i'll order there. okay, and the chicken mcnuggets. but i digress.)
this past sunday, jon and i decided to try our hand at not only making apple butter, but canning it for use all year long. i'll spare you the nitty-gritty of the canning process (without the proper equipment, our method included aluminum foil, an espresso cup display rack and several soaking-wet kitchen towels), but i'll happily share the recipe, which is delicious.
seeing all those jars lined up in a row makes me feel so accomplished, like i'm putting away provisions for the winter. but i doubt it'll last that long, because...
confession #2: i'm eating it right now with a spoon.
sweet and chunky apple butter
adapted from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard, via epicurious.com
5 large McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 cup apple cider
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. each ground ginger and nutmeg
Cut apples into 1/2-inch dice. Combine apples and cider in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepot (a Dutch oven works great). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; boil gently 20 min. or until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.
Stir in sugar, lemon juice and spices. Return to a boil, reduce heat and boil gently 25 min. more or until mixture is very thick. There will still be some apple chunks remaining; stir vigorously or mash with a potato masher if you'd like a smoother consistency. Remove from heat.
Ladle into sterilized jars and process for canning, or store in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within two weeks.
Makes about 7 cups.
Friday, September 25, 2009
my friend yao was visiting from chicago, so we planned a little late-summer college reunion in my tiny, overheated apartment. kelly and chris brought my favorite crumbs cupcakes, jr regaled us with a series of head-scratching riddles (have you heard the one about the midget peglegged clown?) and the beatles played on the stereo all afternoon. it was all so lovely it makes me want to weep a little.
but i won't.
we ate the tomato salad jon and i have been devouring all summer (i've never eaten so many tomatoes in my life), a tart, garlicky mix that makes even so-so tomatoes taste divine. the calendar says it's officially autumn, but let's cling to the last warm breath of summer, shall we?
the best tomato salad
serves 3 or 4, or fewer if your name is katie
1 baguette, cut into large bite-sized chunks
extra-virgin olive oil
2 large beefsteak tomatoes
1 standard cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 fat clove garlic, minced
3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh basil leaves, torn
1 Tbs. fresh oregano
salt and pepper
For the croutons: Toss the baguette cubes with about 3 Tbs. olive oil, a generous grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano and plenty of salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until browned and crisp around the edges.
Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into thin wedges, about 10 per tomato. Dice the cucumber into bite-sized chunks. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and place in a strainer over a bowl or the sink at least 10 minutes to drain.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, olive oil, red onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
When the tomatoes and cucumbers have released a lot of liquid, transfer to a large serving bowl and toss with the dressing. Add the herbs and croutons and toss again to combine.
For an extra salty flavor, stir in a handful of black oil-cured olives or small cubes of Asiago cheese.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
i love lime. though some (like my sister) would think me crazy, i'd take some rich, citrus-infused butter cookies over a chocolate chipper any day. especially if they're sandwiched with a simple, sweet lime icing.
the secret to these cookies' delicate flavor is dorie greenspan's method of rubbing lime zest into the sugar until it becomes aromatic and flavorful, perfumed with the essence of citrus. pure genius!
adapted from baking: from my home to yours (dorie greenspan)
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, mixed with the zest of 2 limes
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
Beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugars and salt and beat until well blended. The mixture should be smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy. Beat in the egg yolks, again beating until the mixture is homogenous.
Mix in the flour mixture just until combined and the dough looks uniformly moist. The dough will not clean the sides of the bowl, nor will it come together in a ball--and it shouldn't. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you're aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy (rather than smooth) dough. Pinch it, and it will feel a little like Play-Doh.
Scrape the dough out onto a smooth work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long. Wrap the logs in plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (Alternatively, roll out into a 1/4-inch-thick sheet and cut out shapes with cookie cutters after chilling.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove a log of dough from the fridge and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Cool for a minute or two on the sheet before lifting them onto a rack.
To make cookie sandwiches, mix 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar with enough lime juice to make a spreadable icing. Spread on cookies and sandwich together. Makes about 40 cookies, or 20 sandwiches.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
how are you today, friends? i've just returned from a lovely long weekend on cape cod, and i must say--swimming and sunning are nice (sun rash and tan lines notwithstanding), but i'm glad to be back in brooklyn. yeah, the apartment is steamy-hot, and the stove is too small, and the motorcyclists from nelson's hawg house down the street keep zooming noisily by our window...but it's home.
this banana cake is something like coming home. it's not fancy or particularly beautiful, and maybe it's a little too brown around the edges, but it's cozy and perfect in its own way. and couldn't we all use a little of that now?
classic banana bundt cake
baking: from my home to yours (dorie greenspan)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
about 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan.
Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.
Beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each egg goes in. Mix in the bananas. Finally, mix in half the dry ingredients (don't be disturbed when the batter curdles), all the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the pan, rap the pan on the counter to de-bubble the batter and smooth the top.
Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after about 30 minutes--if it is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool to room temperature.
Makes 14 thick, comforting slices. (yes, it's a big cake, but it'll stay moist and flavorful for up to 5 days. and if it gets a little dry, you can toast it!)
Sunday, July 26, 2009
1. telling my junior high crush i liked him wouldn't totally freak him out.
2. if i slunk down low enough in my chair, i wouldn't be called on in 3rd grade math. or ap biology. or all of my college french classes.
3. she's all that was an awesome movie. (that's the one with freddie prinze, jr. yeah.)
4. i couldn't make french fries. cutting up all those potatoes, soaking them for half an hour, then double-frying them? not worth the trouble, when i could just get them delivered from the local diner.
well, it turns out you don't have to soak or double-fry (you do still have to cut them up, unfortunately), and you'll end up with the crispiest, most delicious fries you've ever had. believe it.
the easiest french fries ever
adapted from cook's illustrated, july/august 2009
4 yukon gold potatoes (this is very important)
cut the potatoes into 1/4" matchsticks and place in a dutch oven. add enough oil to just cover, about 6 cups (cook's recommends peanut oil; i used canola and it was fine). bring to a rolling boil, about 5 minutes. cook 15 minutes more; stir gently with tongs to keep the fries from sticking to each other. cook 15 minutes longer, or until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp, stirring occasionally. remove with a spider or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels before serving.
for a delicious, oniony dipping sauce, stir together sour cream, a spoonful of mayonnaise, 2 minced garlic cloves and some chopped chives.
add some iced green tea, a bottle of côtes du rhône and a beautiful summer bouquet, and you've got a perfect evening. happy weekend!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
i have a thing for biscuits: buttery, flaky, hot-out-of-the-oven biscuits. this version has crispy, cheesy edges and a middle that's tender enough to take a nap in, with a salty but not overwhelming oniony flavor. it's exactly what you want to eat for breakfast. or second breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea. you get the idea.
cheddar & chive buttermilk biscuits
an old issue of fine cooking
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
3 oz. sharp cheddar, grated or finely chopped
2/3 cup buttermilk
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until blended. With a pastry blender or two table knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks a little like cornmeal, with some butter chunks the size of peas. Stir in the chives and grated cheese. Add the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is wet, sticky and shaggy (some dry spots are okay). Turn the dough out onto a cutting board and knead about 12 times until the dough comes together and is smooth. Add a little flour to the board. Pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick square; cut into 9 biscuits. bake on a parchment paper- or foil-lined baking sheet until firm and light golden brown, about 18 to 23 min.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
this strawberry-prosecco concoction is the essence of warm breezes and blue skies. almost enough to make it feel like spring.
the strawberry muddle
adapted from bon appetit, july 2009
1 1/2 cups chopped hulled strawberries
6 tbsp. agave nectar or simple syrup
6 thin lemon slices
1 750-ml bottle chilled prosecco
divide strawberries among six glasses; add 1 tbsp. agave to each and mash with a spoon. add lemon slice to each and mash to release juice. add several ice cubes to each glass, then fill with prosecco. cheers!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
this cake, which i found in the wonderful june issue of gourmet, isn't a fancy dessert. it's kind of flat and squishy and plain, the kind of cake you can whip up in ten minutes with two bowls and a wooden spoon. but when you bite into one of the luscious, juicy raspberries, it's exactly what you were looking for. try it, you'll see.
raspberry buttermilk cake
gourmet, june 2009
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (i used 1/2 cup regular milk with a squeeze of lemon juice)
1 cup fresh raspberries (about 1 small carton)
preheat oven to 400 degrees F. butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. in separate bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar until fluffy, about 2 min., then beat in vanilla and egg. stir in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. mix until just combined. spoon batter into cake pan. scatter berries evenly over the top, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar.
bake 25 to 30 min., or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Friday, May 29, 2009
they're even better hot, of course. when my mom makes these seafood- and zucchini-filled pancakes, everyone (okay, just me) crowds around the stove, waiting for the first mouth-searing bite.
i can't say these are as good as my mom's, but nothing ever is, is it? i think these are close, though.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs
salt and pepper
2 small zucchini, julienned
4 scallions, sliced lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb. shrimp, cooked and chopped
canola oil for frying
whisk together flour, water, baking powder, eggs and salt and pepper to taste. thin batter with a little more water if desired. stir in zucchini, scallions, garlic and shrimp. heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large skillet. drop pancake batter by 1/4 cup in skillet; quickly spread out to make as thin as possible. fry 2 min. on each side, pressing down with spatula to compress, or until golden brown and crisp.
dipping sauce: combine 2 tbsp. soy sauce, 2 tsp. seasoned rice vinegar and a few grinds black pepper in a small dish.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
i made a tuna salad for lunch last night, tucked it in the fridge and promptly left for work without it this morning. after a long day of nothing but saltines and peanut butter, i came home ravenous...only to find this.
so, inspired by the lovely joy the baker , i grabbed some eggs and a carton of cream left over from mother's day and made a crustless quiche.
and you know what? it was damn good. just the thing to bring for lunch tomorrow, if i can remember.
adapted from joy the baker
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. butter
1 10-oz. box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed out
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded or small-diced
3 extra-large eggs
1 cup heavy cream (all right, i guess you can use milk..)
heat oven to 375 degrees F. saute onion in butter over medium heat 10 min., or until golden brown. arrange onion, spinach and cheese in greased 9" pie plate. in bowl, whisk together eggs and cream; season with a pinch each of salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. pour custard over vegetables in pie plate. bake in preheated oven 35 min.
Friday, May 8, 2009
if you're there, lovely reader, welcome to my shiny new blog. here is where i'll document my adventures and (let's face it) mishaps in the kitchen, and life in general.
well, that's that. and now...pizza.
jon and i made pizza yesterday. two delicious pizzas, to be exact.
it was the kind of meal that induces food comas (and did, in the case of one unnamed individual).
jon made olive oil dough from the life-changing artisan bread in 5 minutes a day and it came out perfect, crispy and chewy.
olive oil dough
adapted from artisan bread in 5 minutes a day
1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
3/4 tbsp. granulated yeast
3/4 tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
mix the yeast, salt, sugar and olive oil with the water in a large bowl. use a spoon to stir in the flour until no dry spots remain. cover and let rest at room temperature about 2 hours. shape and bake immediately, or refrigerate in a lidded container for up to 12 days.
to make pizza, shape dough into two 1/8-inch-thick rounds. top with desired toppings and bake at 500 degrees F about 10 minutes.