Thursday, November 13, 2014

roasted carrots with tahini sumac sauce.

I know I've been neglecting this space as of late, but when you are less then a handful of days from your big day and you decide that making 7 batches of cookies for the wedding was a sane thing to do you can see why I may be a little tied up.  

But I have finally finished the cooking dough making (hip hip hooray!) so let's talk about carrots.  

If there is one cookbook I return to time and time again it's Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.  I am no vegetarian by any means, but we do treat meat as a once or twice a week treat so I come to rely on cookbooks that make vegetables front and center.  Yotam does that and he does it in a way that makes the vegetables feel new and different so when he came out with a second book called Plenty More, you can pretty much guarantee that I purchased the book almost the day it came out.   I have about half the book marked off (so many projects to tackle soon!) but the recipe that kept catching my eyes was one for Middle-Eastern carrots.  

I took inspiration from Yotam and roasted carrots with warming spices (Zatar!) and then served with a sauce that is a little sweet and a little spicy with a wonderfully bite of tahini.  A sprinkle of mint over the top provided the perfect amount of freshness.  This recipe makes for a killer lunch but it would be pretty awesome as a side dish on Thanksgiving.  

Roasted Carrots with Tahini Sumac Sauce
Recipe inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi 

Serves 2 generously  

For the Carrots

1 bunch of carrots peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces  
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Zatar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika 

For the Sauce

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon tahini
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
1 - 2 teaspoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon aleppo pepper
1/4 teaspoon sumac
1/4 teaspoon Zatar
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
Mint for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the carrots with the olive oil, zatar, salt, and smoked paprika.  Dump the carrots on a baking sheet and roast on a sheet pan for about 40 minutes until tender and blackened in spots. Remove from oven and set aside.

Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a bowl except for the mint and water.  Stir to combine.  Add 1 teaspoon of water and stir to combine.  If the sauce still seems thick, gradually add a little more water until the sauce is thick but smooth.  

Dollop the sauce on a plate.  Top with carrots.  Sprinkle with mint.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

white beans and spinach over toast.

If you were to send me a coupon, it's pretty much a guarantee that you will get me to visit your website.  From there, I will probably spend 45 minutes of my life on-line shopping and then I will probably purchase something I don't really need.  I will convince myself that it only makes sense to buy this item because it's on sale or a good deal or because I would be doing a disservice to the entire marketing industry if I did not buy it.  

This is how I ended up purchasing 4 pounds of heirloom beans about 2 weeks ago.  

(The marketing industry and online retailers love me.)

No one needs 4 pounds of heirloom beans.  But, when the beans are 20% off and come from a company called Rancho Gordo and when you've read about how good there beans are, you can easily convince yourself that such a purchase is a really smart investment.  

And to answer your question, the beans are awesome.  

I've only tried one of the 4 varieties thus far which was a white bean.  The closest comparison I can think to make is a mini cannelini but I don't think that does it justice.  I think this particular variety would be incredible in soups and I am itching to make a meat and bean chili (sorry to the Texan's who think this is sacrilegious) in the next couple of weeks with some of the other types.  For this first batch I made a very traditional Italian preparation of spinach, beans, and parmesan to be served a top toasts.  It's nothing fancy but it's particularly comforting and with beans this good, simple is better. 

White Beans and Spinach over Toast

Think of this as a jumping off point.  Kale would be lovely and so would swiss chard.  And it goes without saying though I will remind you, putting an egg on it wouldn't be a bad idea.  And splurge on the good bread.  Thick, chewy, delicious bread.  

The beans can be found here and if I wasn't clear before, they are insanely good.  Totally worth buying. 

Serves 4

4 - 8 Slices of thick-cut bread (depending on the size of the bread.  
About 2 cups (or 1 15 ounce can) of white beans
About 1 pound of spinach, washed and thinly sliced  
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes plus more if you want some extra heat
1/4 cup chicken broth (or your bean liquid)
1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino romano plus more for sprinkling at the end  
Salt and pepper to taste  
A drizzle of Mike's Hot Honey (optional)

Toast your bread in a 350 degree oven until golden brown (a toaster also works though you can't cook all of the slices at the same time).  

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes and cook another 10 seconds. Stir in spinach, beans, and broth and cook, stirring constantly, until the spinach is just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the parmesan.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Spoon the bean-and-spinach mixture over the toasts.  Sprinkle with additional cheese and pepper.  Drizzle Mike's Hot Honey over the top if you choose.     

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

apple butter.

If you are anything like me, apple picking means returning home with more apples then one could possibly eat in a reasonable amount of time.  This is not necessarily a bad problem to have especially when there is a slew of apple items you can make (pie! crisp! pork chops with apples!).

But sometimes you long for something else and that is where apple butter comes into play.

Apple butter is not pretty.  It looks like brown mush (no point in stating anything but the obvious) . It's nothing like the beautiful peach jam of summer or strawberry jam of spring.  But! What it lacks for in looks it more then makes up for in flavor.

Apple butter is dreamy.  It's the definition of fall and its everything I want slathered on my peanut butter sandwiches this time of year (best sandwich ever involves chunky peanut butter, apple butter, chia seeds and a sprinkle of sea salt - DYNAMITE).  Cubes of apple are cooked with apple cider and spices. As the apples cook, they begin to thicken to create a cross between apple sauce and jam that may in fact be the greatest condiment ever.  EVER.

Fall, I love you.

Apple Butter 
Recipe from Apt 2B. Baking

Yield - about 2 pints of finished butter

2 pounds good eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite sized pieces (but really any apples work)
½ - 2 cups apple cider
¾ cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon fresh nutmeg
Juice of half a lemon

In your biggest, heaviest pot combine the apples and enough cider to cover them. Bring to a simmer and cook the apples until tender. A bit of foam will form on the surface that should be skimmed off, it's okay if you can't get it all.

When the apples are tender, remove the pot from the heat and puree the mixture until it is smooth (an immersion blender is the best tool for this). Stir in sugar, spices and lemon juice.

Simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it darkens in color and begins to pop and bubble, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Make sure to watch the pot carefully and stir often in the last 1/2 hour to prevent scorching. I would usually tell you here to cook the butter until it reaches 220º, but I couldn't get mine above 210º and the set turned out perfect. Ladle the hot apple butter into your prepared jars.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

what happiness (and love) looks like.

Photo courtesy of the wonderful Daniel and Sarah at Chellise Michael.  

a touch of green.

Green and gold are the colors I keep coming back to.  Wedding colors, life colors.  

It feels earthy yet glamorous.  Which is what I wish my life was like.  

(Pendant bulbs are my latest and greatest obsessions.)


Image via Pinterest.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

brown butter apple crunch crumble.

I know nothing is more American (and more fall) than apple pie but I am here to present my case for the apple crumble (or apple crisp if you are so inclined to call it that).  

Apple pie is great.  But pie is a pain in the butt to make.  Make the crust, chill the crust, roll the crust, chill the crust again, par-bake the get the point, it's exhausting. (Though sometimes its therapeutic and other times it's a wonderfully necessary evil.)  

But! If you get rid of the crust you get rid of 90% of the work! This is why when it's a lazy rainy Sunday and I want apple deliciousness without all the work I turn to the wonders of the apple crisp to fulfill all my cravings. 

This is the apple crisp of my dreams. Layers of thinly sliced apples tossed in cinnamon and ginger (and a splash of bourbon for good measure because why not?) are nestled under a generous layer of crisp topping (without the crust you want a nice thick layer of crumble).  The crumble is dreamy - oats, walnuts, spices galore, and a little bit of maple syrup (because a little bit of maple syrup belongs in every fall dessert) are tossed with brown butter to make the most heavenly topping for that spiced sea of apples (I went crazy and incorporated 4 different varieties).  It's epic, it's fall, and it's insanely easy. What's not to love?  

Bronwn Butter Apple Crunch Crumble
Recipe adopted from the NYTimes

For the filling

2 pounds apples, peeled and thinly sliced 
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 tablespoon bourbon 

For the crumble topping

1 stick of butter 
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt.  
½ cup finely chopped walnuts (or the nuts of your choice!)

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  

Brown your butter: Melt butter in a small/medium saucepan over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Keep your eyes on it; it burns very quickly after it browns and the very second that you turn around to do something else.  Remove from heat and set aside

To prepare filling, toss apple with sugar, cinnamon, and bourbon.  Set aside.

To make the topping, in a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flours, sugar, maple syrup, spices and salt.  Stir in butter and nuts.  Coarse crumbs will form. 

Pour filling into a 9 inch square or round pan.  Using your fingers form mixture into ¼ inch to ½ inch crumbs and spread over fruit.  Bake until filling bubbles and topping is light golden, about 55 minutes.  Let cool slightly.