Friday, October 29, 2010

DIY tube pan: a baking trick (and a cake recipe)

I really wanted to bake a cake yesterday.

Not just any cake, though -- What Julia Ate has a recipe for a moist but not-too-sweet jam cake that I like to make for breakfast. I love it because it is simple, fast and calls for a jar of jam, which I now seem to have too much of in my pantry, given that I started making my own.

The one I had my eye on was a Japanese plum jam made by my friend Meredith. I knew it would be perfect in this cake.

So what was the problem, you ask? No tube pan.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Butternut squash gnocchi: a recipe

For the record, the word is not nor should ever be pronounced "nocky." That drives me batty.

If you can't say it, you shouldn't be allowed to eat it.

Usually made from little else other than potatoes and flour, gnocchi is surprisingly easy to make yet quite time-consuming, what with all that fork-tine-rolling on each little piece of dough. So when I do make it, I like to make a LOT of it, because it freezes very nicely.

This spin on gnocchi, a Lidia Bastianich recipe from the October issue of Bon Appetit magazine, uses butternut squash rather than potato for lovely fall flavor.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hard cider: an adventure in the making

I have dipped my toe into the homebrewing pool -- sort of.

Because I love to drink it, I decided to try making my own hard cider this year. This past weekend, we drove to Chapin Orchard in Essex to procure 5 gallons of freshly pressed apple juice.

After adding some yeast and turbinado sugar, I'm happy to report that the airlock is bubbling ... we have achieved fermentation!

Now we wait.

And wait.

And hope it doesn't turn into vinegar.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shortcut apple galette: an original recipe

I am a normal person with a normal, busy life, just like you, which means that I do not turn up my nose at cooking shortcuts or other time savers. One of my favorite shortcut secrets is refrigerated pie crust. Now here's the kicker: I don't actually like pie.

Let me explain. I like the inside of the pie (apple, blueberry, whatever) and I don't mind the soft crust on the bottom, but I just can't abide the edge or top crust. I know, it seems very OCD, but that's the way it's always been. So for years, I just didn't eat pie. Period.

Until I discovered the galette.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cooking from Mr. Latte, or, beet salad and carrot-fennel soup: two recipes

As a food writer wannabe, I love to read real food writers' stories. As I've mentioned before, what really appeals to me is being involved in an engaging, well-written story while also scoring some great new recipes.

Earlier this year I read Amanda Hesser's Cooking for Mr. Latte, the story of her courtship with her now-husband, replete with recipes for things they ate along the way. I pulled out my much-dog-eared copy this week and tried my hand at a couple of her recipes (some of them come across as pretty snooty, so I focused on the ones that seemed more accessible ... you know, the ones that can be made with ingredients that don't require that you live in New York City and shop only at obscure multicultural markets).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Crockpot comfort, or, slow cooker chicken stroganoff: a recipe

All this crisp fall air could only mean one thing: it's time to break out the crockpot, friend to busy home cooks everywhere!

With just a wee bit of time and effort in the morning, you can have a lovely meal waiting for you at the end of the day. It's nearly effortless. It's like having your own personal chef who has dinner waiting for you when you get home. It's like ... like being OPRAH!

Well, except for the home in Hawaii and craploads of cash. But close!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Food is not love but these cookies might be, or, pumpkin hermits: a recipe

Pumpkin hermits
In our home, when it comes to the pets, we have a good cop and a bad cop: I'm the bad cop, the rule and order imposer. My husband is the good cop, the one that rolls around on the floor with them and gives them more treats than they should have.

A number of years ago, we had a couple of chubby Shelties that we adored. During one routine visit to the vet, we got into a friendly argument about their weight and eating habits, at the end of which I shouted, in exasperation, "Food is not love!" Much to my chagrin, our vet responded by saying, sheepishly, "Actually, when it comes to dogs, it pretty much is."

And when it comes to baked goods, these pumpkin hermits might make me rethink my stance as well.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Farewell, basil -- hello, pesto, or, summer recycling: a recipe

Fresh summer veg really is the best, and there's nothing quite like walking outside to the garden to pick what I need for a meal.

But -- turn, turn, turn -- everything has a season and the summer garden has come to an end.

But not all endings are sad -- not when it means pesto!

And enough pesto to freeze for use throughout the winter! Whoot! Whoot!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Curried cauliflower soup: a recipe

Yes, that says "cauliflower" -- but keep reading, I swear it's actually good!

I cannot believe the tremendous support I've received since starting this blog a few months ago. Not only is my husband jumping up to take pictures of our meals before we eat them, but readers have also made requests (yes, Amy, the crockpot recipes are coming, really) and sent recipes suggestions. But I suppose that's really the whole point: to share and enjoy food with friends and strangers alike, albeit virtually.

Case in point: the recipe below was sent to me this past weekend by a friend.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What we ate this week

I think we ate well this week. Give some of these a try and let me know what you think:
  • Broiled tilapia with apple salad and mustard-parsley sauce (I blew off the brining step on the fish and substituted baby greens from the garden for the frisee -- still wicked)
  • Mark Bittman's apple crisp (heh, you knew there'd be at least ONE apple recipe here)
  • Red pepper soup (I love this one because you just use the peppers as-is -- no peeling)
  • Roasted halloumi, bacon and tomato salad (if you've never cooked with halloumi cheese, you are in for a treat -- you can even grill it!)
  • Pasta with hot italian sausage and swiss chard (you should have seen me, harvesting chard from the garden in the dark with a headlamp -- but it was worth it!)
  • Ham, apple and arugula pizza with fontina cheese (no recipe needed -- just layer these ingredients on to a store-bought pizza shell that's been spread with a 2:1 mixture of mayo and dijon mustard and bake at 425 for about 10 minutes -- my policy is that you can pretty much make a pizza out of any ingredients that taste great together)
Last but not least, today is our 10-year wedding anniversary, so I'll be making ze duck... I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A fall meal, with recipes: maple pork tenderloin fillet with carmelized apples and baked goat cheese salad

Still working my way through the apples, but I can proudly say I'm down to six!

I used several in this recipe for maple pork tenderloin fillet with carmelized apples, which comes from one of my favorite, go-to blogs for dinner ideas, I can honestly say that this was one of the tastiest things I've made in a long time. Even if you don't like maple or apples (What are you, some kind of FREAK? Who doesn't like APPLES?!), go check out the recipe simply for the sheer genius of the pork tenderloin "fillet." I mean, why haven't I seen this anywhere before?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chicken soup: a recipe

Chicken soup
When I did my menu planning on Sunday for the week, I did not anticipate getting sick. So the meal I had originally planned for last night was a slightly fancy soup, a riff on a traditional Greek magiritsa, but using leftover roast chicken. But then I got sick, so of course all I could think about was chicken soup.

I looked for an easy chicken soup recipe online and in my favorite cookbooks but couldn't find one that was quite speaking to me. Then ... FATE STRUCK.

[OK, time for a sidebar: Have I mentioned that I firmly believe everything happens for a reason, exactly as and when it should? Nooo? Well, I'm mentioning it now, so file that away. End of sidebar.]