Tag Archives: Recipes

Reflections on 2008

Well, it was a bizarre, fantastic, and somewhat surreal year, and it’s going out in proper New Haven style.  (What, you don’t know what that is? Well … Think biting, icy snow and freshly made pizza, with the slight char on the crust. Happy New Year, right?).  There were a lot of firsts: buckwheat baguettes, cheese making, voyages to Australia and beyond, campfire cooking, and milestones of a more personal sort.  Next year promises to be even crazier, believe it or not, with the end of graduate school, a wedding (with our own homemade / homegrown food!) to pull off, jobs to find (somewhere, somehow) and still more travel to far off, exotic places. Well, maybe, anyway.  Hopefully we’ll finally make it out to Arizona for the Grand Canyon hike we keep talking about, with a possible side trip to Pizzeria Bianco, because that’s just how we roll.  The pizza will come first, of course.

Tomorrow, though, the silly resolutions kick in.  Here are a few food-related ones from my list for the year, just for good measure.  (Do you have any this year? Leave a comment!)

  1. Don’t die from James’s camembert experiments (oh yes, there will be a guest post. If we survive.)  I should add — I have faith. They actually look pretty good. I guess we’ll find out soon enough…
  2. Knife skills, baby.
  3. Make more green things.  Preferably things that James will eat.  (You know what the secret is?  Bacon.  If you add it, even in minuscule quantities, he will eat.)
  4. Learn to make simple, amazing dishes for parties that don’t require me to hide out in the kitchen. This will come in handy for our wedding, as we’re cooking everything ourselves.
  5. In honor of the financial crisis: more cheap eats.

And with that, I leave you with something to kick of the most typical of resolutions: Broccoli soup, a la Gordon Ramsay.

Easy Broccoli Soup

Cost: Cheap

Difficulty: Easy (as if the title didn’t tell you already)

Serves: 2-4 depending on what you serve it with. It’s really a starter, but is freaking amazing for lunch with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Splurge a little and buy good broccoli for this. As this recipe requires all of three ingredients, you must do it. Spend the extra dollar for the pretty fresh organic stuff (or farmers market stuff, you lucky warm climate bastards).  You will need a blender, unless you are more ambitious than I am.

  • 2 heads of broccoli. Cut the florets off and save the stems for some other project (broccoli slaw, anyone?).  Just a tip: look for closely packed, fresh florets. This means the broccoli is fresh. You want fresh broccoli.
  • 2 pinches salt, plus more to taste.
  • water
  • olive oil, plain yogurt (optional)

Fill a medium pot with water (until it’s ~2/3rds full).  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it’s boiling, add a pinch of salt, add the broccoli florets, and add another pinch of salt. Stir quickly and cover. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the broccoli is lush and green and can be pierced with a knife but has not turned to mush.  In other words, if you drag a sharp knife through the broccoli, against the side of the pan, it should take a little pressure to get it through. When this happens, take the broccoli off the heat, and drain, BUT KEEP THE WATER. You will need it.

Place the cooked broccoli florets in the blender.  Add some of the reserved broccoli water until the water comes up to about half the broccoli height in the blender. Cover, throw a towel over the top of the blender, and hold.  Pulse gently a couple of times, to keep the water from shooting out and scalding your hand, then blend until it’s a nice puree.  Taste and adjust the salt, and maybe add some pepper or cayenne if you’re into that sort of thing.  Pour into a bowl and decorate with either the olive oil and yogurt, a bit of cheddar cheese melted on toast (my favorite), or nothing at all.  Serve immediately.

Variation: Do a mix of broccoli and cauliflower for an even creamier texture. It won’t be quite so vibrant, but I think the mix of flavors would be nice.

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Filed under bacon, quick meals, side, soup

Holiday cookies

Mexican chocolate cookies

Mexican chocolate cookies

I’m taking a snow day today.  No one will miss me — in fact, with the storm warning, I think everyone else is doing the same thing.  Which is great, because I can look forward to curling up on the couch with Nuclear Structure from a Simple Perspective and getting my theory chapter FINISHED.  Well, mostly, anyway.

(What, you came here for the food? Nuclear structure is much more interesting. No — seriously. Stop laughing. I mean it.)

Lemony gingersnaps

Lemony gingersnaps (at night)

The thesis is looming. It’s due in two months — a little sooner than I expected, because it’s hard to get five professors in the same place at once. A few of them seem to be allergic to this town, but hey, I’m not complaining. I have a DATE. A scarily soon date, upon which the equivalent of a book is due.  So posts will be slim in the coming months, but I’ll come back after that with ideas and pictures and maybe even a blog makeover, or a move to a server of my own.  For now, I’m just glad the cookies I made for the holidays turned out, so I can leave you with a little something to celebrate with.

Gingersnap dough is kind of ugly (but addictive all the same).

Gingersnap dough is kind of ugly (but addictive all the same).

Both of these cookies are variations on recipes from Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Baking.  My brother gave us a copy for Christmas last year, and I’ve had good luck with the cookie recipes thus far.  These are no exception. The gingersnaps are soft, fragrant, and chewy, and are the best molasses-based cookie I have found so far. The Mexican chocolate cookies are cute and seductive, all in one go.  They have a rich chocolatey flavor with subtle hints of cinnamon and chile, and even the uncooked dough is addictive.  So what are you waiting for — a snow day?  Go make cookies, because frankly, it doesn’t feel like a holiday until you’re covered with powdered sugar and coming down from a serious sugar high.

I’m trying out a new recipe format. If you hate it, tell me!

Mexican Chocolate Cookies and Lemony Gingersnaps

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Filed under baking, chili, chocolate, cinnamon, cookies, ginger, holiday, lemon

Wintry onion soup

For those chilly nights

For those chilly nights

Yesterday, snow arrived before dawn and traced the barren trees with wintry light, taunting us until we put on our running clothes, trekked out into the frigid air, and left only our footsteps behind.  We arrived home pink-cheeked and slightly hoarse from the chilly wind, giddy from snowball fights and snowmen and the feeling that everything had been scrubbed clean and restored to its proper order.

Dont make me cry

Don't make me cry

The first snowfall is always the best.  The trees have been barren just long enough to make fall seem distant, and the cold hasn’t had a chance to settle into one’s bones just yet. It’s the perfect excuse to do all those cliched things one does at the start of winter: drink hot chocolate with marshmallows, go sledding with all the neighborhood kids, and make hearty winter fare.

Stock brewing

Stock brewing

There’s something so soothing and cheerful about a warm, wintry soup, and the one I want to share with you today is a perfect dinner or post-run snack for warding off winter’s chill. And topped with golden melted muenster and slices of toasted sourdough bread, it feels almost luxurious.

Wintry onion soup

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Filed under cheese, comfort, onions, soup, vegetarian-friendly

Pie-eating hypocrite

The infamous breakfast slice

The infamous breakfast slice

I promised vegetables, healthy dishes, and quick meals, and have totally failed you. But my intentions were good, and yes, I will get there. We’ve been doing well on reducing the amount of meat we eat, despite long hours and not much time to cook.  And I have the makings of a gorgeous onion soup in the works, if the smell of the stock I’m cooking in the next room tells me anything.  For now, though, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m horrible at making pie crusts.

Pie in the making

Pie in the making

It is the one thing that I don’t usually think twice about buying, even if it does cost about 5 times as much as it would for me to make at home.  But as a wannabe food person, I still felt this lingering guilt. I mean, it should be easy as … pie. Right. Whoever came up with that phrase obviously didn’t have to actually make the stuff.

Good thing James seems to have the touch. He’s patient, and meticulous, and apparently has cooler hands that I do, because he made this crust, and it was gorgeous.  Either that or it was the homemade butter (I swear — It was the store’s fault all along).  Anyway, I won’t give you the recipe for the crust, because it’s the same as all the other recipes, and why would I ever pretend to be an expert when I can send you here, here, and here?  I will tell you that we used 5/8ths homemade butter, 3/8ths shortening (it was on sale, what can I say), and the leftover buttermilk (not the same as the stuff in the store!) instead of water.  I will also tell you that she is sooo right about keeping the butter VISIBLE in your crust.

The filling recipe is posted here, however. It is beautiful, not too sweet, a little tart, and incredibly simple. And you don’t even need to blind bake your crust! It’s a double crust anyway, so that’s probably not exactly unexpected, but hey, celebrate the little things.  This recipe is adapted from The King Arthur Flower Baker’s Companion All-Purpose Baking Cookbook (phew, that’s a long title).  So, in that spirit, I’ll give you another one:

Sweet tart cherry pie (or why Mr. Washington shouldn’t have chopped down that cherry tree after all, even if that story was a myth)

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Filed under baking, cherries, dessert

Corona cookies

Corona cookies

Corona cookies

You came here expecting Thanksgiving recipes, didn’t you? Well … I don’t have any new ones. In fact, we’re not doing a traditional thanksgiving dinner at all, so I won’t have any to share this year. We’re cooking chicken, and yorkshire pudding, with potatoes and gravy and oh, maybe a cherry pie. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll just make a batch of these cookies.

Prep work

Prep work

See, Thanksgiving at our house is always an international affair. I’m usually the only one who actually grew up with the turkey and stuffing and the occasional helping of that spectacular tin can-shaped cranberry (only at Grandma’s house, of course — my parents made the real stuff, which really isn’t that hard to do), so I figure sticking with the spirit of the holiday is the best way to go. To me, that means my guests should feel at home somehow. For a lot of people at my table (including James), a “proper” roast (like the menu above) is the best way to ensure that. Hence the chooks.

But I’m here to talk about cookies.  For those of you who are already thinking about holiday cookies, try these, but replace the orange with lime zest, skip the cinnamon, replace the liquor with lime juice, and throw in 1 t. of vanilla. Sprinkle pretty sea salt (Hawaiian red, in this case, from TJ’s) over the top. And there you have it — cookies faintly reminiscent of a day at the beach, beer in hand, which I could seriously go for after weeks and weeks of bone-chilling weather.

(Alternatively, you can use lemon or orange zest and play with spice combos, like the original recipe states. I prefer the juice to the liquor — the cookies turn out a bit better texture-wise, in my opinion).

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Filed under baking, dessert, limes, olive oil