Monday, March 30, 2015

buckwheat buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote.

Sunday called for pancakes.  

And not just any pancakes but buckwheat pancakes (insanely nutty and utterly addicting) covered in homemade blueberry compote (from the last of this past summer's freezer berries) and maple syrup.   We ate them in sweatpants while watching the Sunday Morning food shows.  It was a perfect morning.  

I know at some point here Spring will come and with it our weekends of hibernation will end.  But, there was something incredibly cozy about this winter and how it seemingly never wanted to end.  It was a nice way to start a marriage - holed up indoors with stacks of books and magazines, a plethora of good TV, and lots of comfort food.  I know things wont always be so easy and effortless (I don't know how I've been so lucky so far) but I'm thankful for the fact that most of the time it is.       

Easy like Sunday morning.   

Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Recipe from Anson Mills 

Serves 2 as written below.  The original serves 4 and can be found on the Anson Mills site.  

3 tablespoons unsalted European-style butter
½ cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 ounces (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) buckwheat flour (preferably Anson Mills Rustic Aromatic Buckwheat Flour)
1.75 ounces (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose or pastry flour (or if you have it Anson Mills Colonial Style Fine Cloth-Bolted Pastry Flour)
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
Make the pancakes: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. Pour the buttermilk into the pan with the butter to warm it slightly. Set a well-seasoned 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat to warm for about 10 minutes while you finish making the batter. The skillet is hot enough when droplets of water flicked onto its surface sizzle on contact.
Turn the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk the egg in a medium mixing bowl. Add the warm buttermilk mixture to the egg and whisk well to combine. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry all at once and whisk lightly to combine.

Butter or oil the hot skillet. Drop pancakes one at a time into the pan with a small ladle or ¼-cup measure—there will be room for 4 pancakes. When the pancakes are nicely browned on the bottom and have begun to bubble on the top, 2 to 3 minutes, flip the cakes and brown the other sides, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Take the pancakes from the skillet, regrease the skillet, and cook the next batch. (If the batter becomes too thick over the course of making the pancakes, thin it with a little milk.) Serve the pancakes hot off the griddle with blueberry compote and a drizzle (OK a generous pour) of maple syrup.   

Blueberry Compote
Recipe from Anson Mills

1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
1.6 ounces (scant ¼ cup) sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
Juice of ½ a lemon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Place blueberries into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan with the sugar, salt, lemon juice, and ginger and set over medium-low heat. Stir frequently as the blueberries begin to sizzle softly and melt. They will quickly begin to release their juices and cease sticking. Bring them to a simmer and cook until soft and saucy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. Warm slightly just before serving. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

ricotta gnocchi.

For most of my life, the art of making homemade potato gnocchi has alluded me. Being half-Italian I thought gnocchi, pasta, and pizza making was in my blood. Instead I've discovered that the only thing in my blood is my ability to make a floury mess.   

And yet I still continue to try at least once every couple of months.  I check the weather to ensure it isn't humid. I buy perfect russet potatoes from the farmers markets.  I do everything by the book and still I fail. My gnocchi ends up tough or it disintegrates in the water and with each try I find myself getting more and more frustrated. Italian grandmothers have been making homemade gnocchi for years WHY CAN'T I?!

When I stumbled across this recipe for ricotta gnocchi on the Serious Eats website that promised to come together in 30 MINUTES and not give you the kind of trouble you typically encounter with potato gnocchi, I figured this was fate telling me to try something new.  

The resulting gnocchi are perfect. I practically wept into my bowl of pasta because I felt as if I finally cracked some kind of long-term goal of mine.  They are easy.  Absurdly easy.  They are fluffy and flavorful and pillows of dreaminess.  Sure you can dress them up with pesto and other fancy sauces but I think they are best in tomato sauce and a grating of parmesan.   

Ricotta Gnocchi

As Kenji notes in his post you want to use good quality ricotta that doesn't have stabilizers.  At the Whole Food's near me there are a couple of choices like that.  Your neighborhood cheese shop should also have high quality ricotta.   

Serves 3-4

12 ounces best quality ricotta cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
4 to 6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Semolina flour, for dusting
2 cups your favorite marinara sauce
Extra-virgin olive oil
Minced fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, or chives

Line a large plate with three layers of paper towels or a clean dish towel. Transfer ricotta directly to paper towels and spread with a rubber spatula. Place another triple layer of paper towels or a clean dish towel on top and press down firmly with the palms of your hands to blot excess moisture. Peel off upper paper towels.

Place a large bowl on a scale and zero the scale. Scrape ricotta into bowl to weigh. Remove excess ricotta to leave exactly 8 ounces. Reserve excess ricotta for another use. Add Parmesan, 3 1/2 ounces of flour, whole egg, and egg yolk to bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Combine mixture with a rubber spatula. It should be sticky but not loose. Add flour a tablespoon at a time if it is still very moist after kneading with the spatula for 1 minute.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Flatten into a 4- to 6-inch disk and cut into quarters using a bench scraper. Working one piece at a time, roll dough into a log about 6 inches long, dusting with flour as necessary. Split log in half and roll each half into a log about 12 inches long and 3/4-inch wide. You should end up with 8 logs.

Using your bench scraper, cut each log into 8 to 10 gnocchi. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet dusted in semolina flour. Shake to lightly coat gnocchi and prevent sticking. At this point, gnocchi can be frozen. Transfer baking sheet to freezer until gnocchi are completely frozen, about 30 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to a zipper-lock freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Cook directly from frozen, adding a few minutes to cooking time.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat sauce in a separate saucepan until hot but not simmering. Add gnocchi to pot, stir gently, and cook until gnocchi float for 30 seconds, about 3 minutes total. Drain gnocchi, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water. Add gnocchi and 1/4 cup of cooking water to pot with sauce and bring to a hard boil, stirring gently. Add more pasta water to thin sauce to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in a big drizzle of olive oil and a handful of chopped fresh herbs. Transfer to a large serving plate. Sprinkle with more herbs and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with more olive oil. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

broccoli crostini with pecorino.

It was while Tyler and I were shoving toasts topped with roasted broccoli and pecorino into out mouths that I had a lightbulb moment.  Thinking about crostini as a vehicle for getting vegetables from plate to mouth opens up a whole new world of possibilities.  People usually regale vegetables to salads and side-dishes but if you think about them as an integral component to just about anything you eat, you will probably find yourself eating a hell of a lot more vegetables.   

I almost exclusively think about broccoli as a side-dish.  On occasion a component of a creamed soup but never the topping for a crostini.  Nashville changed that for me.  At Rolf and Daughters we ate one hell of a dish that even kids could love (they may not even notice that broccoli is under that layer of cheese) and so I set out to recreate it.  Because there is nothing I love more then vegetables covered in cheese.

This is my ode to that dish.   

Fontina laced bechamel serves as the base for crispy roasted broccoli that is showered in pecorino. It's salty, creamy, deliciousness that would be right at home at your next party (and also serves as an excellent weeknight dinner which is how we ate it).  

Broccoli Crostini with Pecorino

It took me several days to figure out what the base of the crostini would be.  I'm not sure if Rolf and Daughters used a bechamel in their version but it's the only thing that made sense to me and mimicked the creamy base their version had.  I imagine melted fontina would also work but it wouldn't be nearly as creamy.   

Makes 16 crostini  

For the Bechamel 

1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk (not skim!)
1/2 cup grated fontina
Salt and black pepper (lots of black pepper) to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.  

For the Crostini

8 medium slices of hearty bread (sourdough is best) sliced fairly thick
Olive oil for drizzling
2 heads of broccoli, florets cut into bite size pieces (save the stems for soup)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino for serving
Mike's Hot Honey (optional)

Cook the broocoli. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Put your broccoli florets into a bowl and toss with olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Go easy on the salt as the pecorino is salty.  Dump the broccoli onto a baking sheet and roast until crispy about 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.  Keep oven on.  

Make the b├ęchamel: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Stir in the flour until a paste forms. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking until smooth. Bring the b├ęchamel sauce to a simmer over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking often, until no floury taste remains, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the fontina until melted. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Set aside.  

Assemble the crostini.  Drizzle the toasts on both sides with olive oil.  Place the toasts on a baking sheet and put them in the oven until brown and crispy.  About 4 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with a generous layer of bechamel, 1/8th of the broccoli, a couple of shavings of pecorino, and a drizzle of Mike's Hot Honey if using.   Cut toasts in half and serve immediately.   

Monday, March 23, 2015


Spring has me thinking about patterns.  

This back-splash somehow manages to be both funky and subtle and I love it.  

(This is why you can never go wrong with black and white. )

Modern Kitchen

Image via Pinterest

Saturday, March 21, 2015

butterscotch banana tarte tatin.

March is one of those funny months where I get particularly confused when it comes to eating.  Winter citrus is kind of done and the farmers markets are practically empty except for potatoes and some sad looking carrots. At this point one just feels sick of everything (most notably their winter boots and parkas).  

But usually in March I begin to develop a fondness for bananas. Slathered in peanut butter they make for a most excellent breakfast and nestled in pockets of butterscotch they become a most epic dessert. The kind of dessert that transports you to a place that isn't New York on the first day of spring when it's supposed to snow 3-6 inches (I think we all need to be transported to our happy place right about now.)

Tarte tatin is one fancy looking dessert.  People squeal for it.  But in all honesty it's one of the simplest things you can make.  It's essentially ripe fruit, sugar, and puff-pastry.  It's a one pan dish!  Let's think about that for a second.  This butterscotch banana one is EVERYTHING I want to be eating right now seeing as bananas and caramel just go together.  I recommend serving generous wedges to the ones you love and topping each slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a  sprinkle of cooca nibs (for crunch).  It serves as a nice distraction from everything else.   

Butterscotch Banana Tarte Tatin
Recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

All-purpose flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff-pastry dough, thawed in the refrigerator for 1 day (I beg of you to get the all-butter one by Dufour)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
5 large ripe (but not speckled) bananas, peeled, halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tbsp bourbon or Scotch (optional)
Vanilla ice cream and cocoa nibs (optional), for serving

For this recipe, you’ll need a 9 or 10-inch heavy-duty skillet (cast-iron works great). Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Roll out your puff pastry on a floured surface to a 9- [or 10] inch circle, and trim if necessary. Place the pastry between two pieces of wax paper and transfer to the fridge until needed. 

Melt the butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the sugar and salt. Cook, stirring frequently to make sure the sugar doesn't burn, until the mixture turns medium amber, about 3 minutes. Arrange the bananas in the skillet, overlapping them slightly. Cook, without stirring, for 3 minutes. Drizzle the vanilla and the alcohol of your choice (if using) over the bananas, and cook until most of the liquor has evaporated and the liquid has thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the bananas from heat. Place the pastry round on top of the bananas, and transfer it to the oven.

Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes. Remove the tarte from the oven, and carefully invert the tart onto a serving plate. Serve with vanilla ice cream.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

nashville - some thoughts and a guide.

Nashville.  Nashville is a funny little city.  I would actually go so far as to say it's a tale of two cities with two distinct personalities.  On the one hand you have the history of country music and a lot of old Southern money and on the other hand you have a lot of flannel, craft beer shops, and hipsters galore.  It is very old-world meets new world.  

I like to play a game when I visit a new city and ask myself if I could live there.  Nashville I hate to say failed that test.  The driving (SO MUCH DRIVING to get anywhere), the heat (it was 75 and sunny on Monday I can't even imagine what it's like in August), and the plethora of cowboy boots just didn't win me over (though their housing prices, coffee shops, cheap craft beers, and large number of parks did score it points).  Nashville is a city that doesn't feel like a city.  It's charming in many ways but everything is so spread out that some of that charm get's lost.  

And then there is the food.  We ate some good things, we ate some REALLY good things, and then we ate some meh things.  My thoughts on southern food is that southern food feels heavy.  I don't know if it's the portion sizes or that they love butter but some of it just felt so overly indulgent.   We even ordered a plate of southern vegetables one night and couldn't finish it for the life of us.  You should always be able to finish your vegetables.

But we are here to talk about the best of the best and below is my list of Nashville favorites.  The things I would return for and the things I will try and re-create.

1 - Baked Beans at Martin's BBQ. I know you are probably wondering how baked beans could make the list and not pork or brisket but the beans stole the show.  Baked beans can be awful - cloyingly sweet, mushy, and so many other things.  These beans were smoky and meaty with a touch of (molasses-esq) sweetness.  They are everything a bowl of baked beans should be and what I will be using as my bean bench mark going forward. 

2 - Black Eyed Pea Salad at Hattie B's Hot Chicken.  Look, I went to Nashville thinking hot chicken was going to be one of the greatest things I have ever eaten.  It is spicy fried chicken, how can it not by dynamite?   But it fell short.  It wasn't bad (it was good fried chicken) but it lacked the the heat that I was expecting (and yes, we ordered hot).  But! the black eyed pea salad I could have eaten a quart of.  It was tart and acidic with some nice crunch from the peppers,  I found it to be the perfect counterpart to all that fried chicken and I plan on making bowls of it this summer to serve with all our BBQ.   Oh the banana pudding wasn't bad either.   

3 - Sorghum Pie at Husk.  Husk may be one of the most charming restaurants I've ever eaten in.  It's an old home that they converted into a restaurant and it's just beautiful.  High ceilings, fancy chandeliers, the whole shebang oh! and the food is all sourced from local farms which is why I love it so. Everything we ate was very good (the homemade charcuterie plate was particularly memorable) but the best of the best was the pie. Sorghum tastes like a cross between molasses and honey and it makes for one killer pie filling (kind of like the inside of a pecan pie but not nearly as sweet and without pecans).  Said slice was served with orange sorbet and grilled pecans making for one of the best desserts I've had in a long time.  

4 - Coconut Cookie at Barista Parlor.  Barista Parlor is one of those gorgeous coffee shops.  All open space and charming baristas in chambray aprons.  It almost feels like a coffee cliche but it's so beautiful that I couldn't bring myself to find it pretentious.  It just kind of works.  We didn't drink coffee (it was too late in the day for me) but we did get some cookies for the plane ride home.  The coconut one was thin and chewy (how they did that I do not know) with a whole lot of butter and a bit of chocolate for good measure.  I already know what I will be making this weekend.   

5 - Pretty much everything at Rolf and Daughters.  The consensus between Tyler and I was that our meal at Rolf and Daughters was one of the best we've had in a long time.  It. Was. So. Good.  It felt fresh and modern and it was how we like to eat - small plates with a little bit of everything.  The standout dishes were broccoli the crostini (to be recreated this weekend), a sweet potato dish with lime and yogurt (also to be recreated), and the chicken liver pate with currant mostarda.   I will continue to dream about all of it.  

Other things to note - 8th and Roast for good coffee, Craft Brewed for good beers, Belle Meade Plantation for an awesome tour of a Southern home, White's Merchantile for shopping (it's like an old fashioned general store), and Nelson's Green Briar Distillery for a super whiskey tour.   

Friday, March 13, 2015

a nashville kitchen.

In honor of the South - a picture from one hell of a house in Nashville.  

(Kitchen dreams you can only have if you live outside the big city.)   

Slate and walnut kitchen

Image via Domaine Home.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

cornmeal fried pork chops with goat cheese smashed potatoes.

Friday night Tyler and I fly out to Tennessee to experience all that Nashville has to offer.  This will include but is not limited to consuming a lot of Hot Chicken, eating at Husk, exploring some plantations, and if I can get Tyler drunk enough, visiting a Honky-Tonk Bar.  

It's gonna be awesome.

In honor of this trip, I decided to finally whip something up from the Heritage cookbook that my brother got my for Christmas.  This cookbook has been taunting me for sometime.  All of the recipes in the book are just beautiful, the kind of elegant food you can only make when you have a kitchen (just slightly) bigger then ours and a myriad of ingredients at your disposal.  This is not easy food to make, some of these recipes are so anally specific that I think even Thomas Keller would have a hard time convincing himself he should exert the effort.  It's all just slightly pretentious.

But then you come across a recipe for cornmeal crusted pork-chops with goat cheese smashed potatoes and your mouth waters and you finally think to yourself  "this, this I can make".

And so this past Sunday I did just that.  And the resulting dish is what I would describe as Southern comfort food.   A shatteringly crisp cornmeal crust gives way to the tenderest pork chops in all the land.  That pork chop is layered a top a pile of the dreamiest potatoes I have ever encountered. Seriously - I am not a potatoes person, give me pasta over potatoes any day but these potatoes, these potatoes could give pasta a run for their money.  The tender red potatoes are tossed in butter and milk and goat cheese to create pockets of utter creamy wonderfulness - potato perfection.

I think the South and I will get along swimmingly.  

Cornmeal-Fried Pork Chops and Goat Cheese-Smashed Potatoes
Adapted slightly from Heritage by Sean Brock

The only change I really made was to dial back the amount of butter.  Yes more butter is good, but less butter is still very good.   

Serves 6 – Easily halved

For the Pork Chops
6 boneless pork chops (about 3 ounces each)
About 3 cups buttermilk, whole milk if you can find it
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups (fine or medium-grind) yellow cornmeal
Cayenne pepper
Canola oil (or high heat safflower or sunflower, what I used) for shallow-frying

For the Potatoes

3 pounds small-to-medium red potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup half-and-half (or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 cup heavy cream)
6 ounces soft goat cheese
6 - 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1/2 cup finely sliced fresh chives
Freshly ground black or white pepper

Marinate the pork chops: Pound each pork chop (using a meat pounder) between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/8-inch thick. Place the chops in a container and cover them with the buttermilk. Cover and marinate at least four hours or overnight or in the refrigerator.

Prep the smashed potatoes: Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and add 1/4 cup salt. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook the potatoes until fork-tender, about 20 minutes for small potatoes or 30 minutes for medium ones; try not to let the water boil.

Cook the chops: Heat your oven to 200 degrees. Remove the chops from the buttermilk, discarding it and patting most of the buttermilk off the chops. Season the chops with salt and cracked pepper. Put the cornmeal in a shallow bowl and season it with salt and cayenne pepper. Dredge the chops in the cornmeal, gently shaking off the excess, and put on a large plate.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the skillet is hot, add a 1/4-inch of oil to each and heat for 1 minute. Carefully place 2 pork chops in each skillet; do not shake the skillets or touch the chops for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook the chops until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Carefully turn the chops over and cook until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Discard the oil the skillet if it gets too murky and repeat with remaining chops.

Finish the potatoes: When the potatoes are almost cooked, bring the half-and-half to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, carefully smash each potato without breaking it apart. Pour the hot half-and-half over the potatoes; crumble the goat cheese, butter and chives over them then fold it together. Season with salt, if needed, and white or black pepper.

Serve the potatoes and chops together. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

latest obsessions.

I've begun to realize that I am apprehensive of sharing things on this blog that don't fall within the "food" category.  For the most part this blog is a food blog so why should I talk about anything else?  

But I am a person of random interests and what is a blog if not a forum for talking about things you love so I'm creating a new weekly installment which I like to call "Latest Obsessions".  This will run the gamut from books and TV to chocolate bars that I can't get enough of.  It will be a whole lot of hodge podge but it will also be a whole lot of fun.   Hopefully it helps you find something new to love.   

The JINX on HBO may be the greatest documentary/mini-series ever created.   Tyler and I binge watched the first 4 episodes this past weekend and we are now obsessed with all things Robert Durst. He is one phenomenally interesting and twisted person.  A multi-millionaire who has been linked to several different murders but never actually accused.  A must watch.  

Miley Cyrus singing 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.  This has been on repeat.  Like, serious repeat.  Girl can sing.

The Storied Life of A.J. Firky is my latest read.  It's about love and books and it may be the best novel I've read in a while.  

While Tyler was sick this past weekend, I had a nice "me" day in the city on Saturday where I visited the farmer's market and took myself to Breads Bakery.  I didn't expect to buy a loaf of Marizpan Challah but I did and it's awesome. Call ahead to make sure it's available as I think it may be a Saturday only kind of thing.   (See above photo for proof of its deliciousness.) 

I finally caved and bought myself a pair of sneakers (other then white Converse) for wearing places besides the gym.  These are them and they are awesome.  They look killer with white jeans and a tee as well as with black jeans and nude sweater as they provide the perfect pop of color in my otherwise neutrals-centric wardrobe. Also, I am pretty sure I am entering my thirties as I am now only interested in practical shoes.  (Kidding! I spotted these most impractical shoes and am currently in love though they are out of budget and Tyler called them awful.  If anyone wants to buy them for me I will pay you in cookies and hugs.)

This story from NYMag about people who are atypical and live on the fringes of social margins is utterly fascinating.   

Monday, March 9, 2015

toasted brown butter oats with coconut.

I thought I was sick of oatmeal.  I really did.  But then, during my weekly perusal of my favorite food blogs, I stumbled across a recipe for toasted brown butter oatmeal that left me literally salivating at the mouth.   

Toasted brown butter oatmeal with coconut?!  It just sounds like such a magical breakfast.   

And my god it is.  This is the oatmeal that dreams are made of.  This is the kind of thing I could eat every single day.  Toasted oats is genius.  Brown butter is also genius but you already knew that.  

Anson Mills oats are nutty to begin with but toasting them, toasting turns them into little flavor bombs.  But let's be honest, while fancy oats are nice, this preparation will produce just as transcendent results with your run of the mill Quaker Oats.  Brown butter and toasting the oats just produces magic.   Oh and the coconut and maple syrup? That just takes this to sublime.   Finish it off with an extra drizzle of maple syrup (more is never a bad thing), a handful of dried cherries, and a splash of milk.  Best. Breakfast. Ever.   

Toasted Brown Butter Oats with Coconut
Recipe adapted slightly from Not Without Salt

Serves 4 - Can be halved   
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups oats
2/3 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup maple syrup, plus a little more for drizzling over top if you’d like
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 -2 1/2 cups whole milk

In a in a large saucepan or dutch oven brown the butter over medium high heat. You’ll know the butter is browned when it smells nutty and the milk solids sink to the bottom and start to turn golden in color. (About 3-6 minutes depending on the size of your pan and how much oatmeal you are making.  If you are halving this, 2 tablespoons of butter should only take about 3-4 minutes.)

Add the oats. Stir constantly until they start to toast and deepen in color, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the coconut flakes and cook 1 minute more.

Stir in the maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Coat the oats in the syrup and cook until the bottom of the pan looks dry, about 1-2 minutes.

Slowly drizzle in the milk at first, while stirring the oats constantly. Add more milk as the oats absorb the liquid. After you've done this with the first cup or so of milk stir in the rest. For thicker oats use 2 cups for creamier, loose oatmeal add all of the milk.  Cook until most of the milk has been absorbed and the oatmeal is thickened.  

Serve while warm.

(If you are using Anson Mills oats you will want to remove the pot from the heat when the milk has been absorbed and cover the pot with the lid.  Let it rest 5 minutes before serving.)  

You can serve the toasty oats with a splash of cream, raisins or dried cherries, more maple syrup, muscavado sugar, dark brown sugar, more coconut – whatever you’d like. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

oatmeal cookies.

It was only after I purchased 10 pounds of Anson Mills oats that I realized exactly how much 10 pounds of oats is.   

It is a lot of oats.  A lot, a lot of oats.  
So yeah, I own 10 pounds of oats.  I had convinced myself that I would never get sick of oatmeal, but oatmeal is one of those foods that you can get sick of rather easily (even after doctoring it up with all sorts of goodies) so after my 15th bowl, I decided it was time to finally explore the gloriousness that is the Anson Mills library of recipes and that is where I stumbled across a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies.  

Oatmeal raisin cookies are completely and utterly under-appreciated.  I will be the first to say that my favorite cookie from Levain Bakery is their oatmeal raisin (I know there are chocolate chip fans out there crying) but most others don't share this sentiment.  Oatmeal cookies lack all the magical qualities that most other cookies have, namely chocolate.  This is why whenever I make an oatmeal based cookie, I always doctor it up,  Adding in chocolate and dried cherries and omitting the raisins. That resulting cookie is a crowd-pleaser.  It retains all of it's oatmeal cookie charm while being something people can't get enough of.  This particular recipe produces a cookie that is so absurdly perfect that I already have plans to make it again this weekend.  It's a cross between a cookie and granola and it's glorious.  Crisp edges give way to a perfectly soft and chewy center.   It's not cloyingly sweet and the Anson Mills oats provide a nutty flavor that most find irresistible.  Coupled with chocolate and dried cherries you have one hell of a cookie. 

(I think it may be the cookie of summer picnics which is quite an honor to be bestowed!)   

Oatmeal Cookies
Recipe adapted slightly from Anson Mills

Of course you can follow the traditional path and use raisins.  If you do, I recommend 3/4 - 1 cup of raisins depending on your raisin to cookie preference.   

7.5 ounces (1½ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour 
7.9 ounces (1½ cups) oats (and I encourage you to get Anson Mills!!)
½ teaspoon baking powder
Scant ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon or nutmeg
2.4 ounces (½ cup) dried cherries
¾ cup chocolate chips or chunked chocolate
5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted European-style butter, room temperature
4 ounces (½ cup packed) dark brown sugar
3 ounces (⅓ cup plus 4 teaspoons) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the flour, oats, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon or nutmeg into a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add the dried cherries and chocolate chips and stir to combine, breaking up any clumps with your fingers.
Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the flat-beater attachment until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add both sugars and beat on medium speed until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is light and aerated, pausing once to scrape down the bowl, about 3 minutes. With the mixer running on low speed, add the egg and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Detach the bowl from the mixer and scrape it down. Using the rubber spatula, stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until an evenly moistened dough forms.

Using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop just shy of 2 inches in diameter, form sixteen 2-inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. (At this point the cookies can be transferred to the fridge for up to 36 hours or to the freezer for a month.) Flatten the balls slightly with moistened palms. Bake 1 sheet at a time until golden brown on the bottoms and tops, 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through. Slide the parchment sheet onto a cooling rack and let the cookies cool for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Amazingly ecclectic.  

A little old, a little new - the new modern.  

And of course it had a rug!  Rugs in kitchens is the new normal.  

rug in the kitchen

Image via Pinterest.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

sesame-spiced turkey meatballs with chickpea salad.

In an effort to streamline weekday evenings, I've taken it upon myself to turn Sunday into a full blown day of cooking.  This usually involves a big batch of something that can be transformed into other meals throughout the week.  This concept is nothing new (I mean Rachel Ray did have an entire show about this) but it takes a lot to have the foresight to plan out a whole week. I've found it helpful - it makes me less stressed and less overwhelmed and it ensures we don't eat every night (just some nights) until 8.  

This is why I've been scouring my large inventory of recipes as of late - looking for things that can be made in big batches and transformed throughout the week.  I've been relying a lot on beans (why don't beans get the respect they deserve?!) but this past week I tried something new with these spiced turkey meatballs.  

Middle-eastern flavors are the way to my heart so the second I spotted these in my ever reliable Smitten Kitchen cookbook, I knew they had to be made.   These are easy-peasy. So easy in fact that you could make them in the middle of the week and still get dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. They are chock full of flavor (so many spices!), protein-packed, and fairly healthy.  Really, what is there not to love?

Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs with Chickpea Salad
Recipe adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Me being me (and considering I was serving this to adults), I upped all the spices (and added some new ones), I don't think Deb would mind.  

Serves 4 – 6 depending on the individuals and the appetites

For the Meatballs

1 pound ground turkey
⅔ cup fresh breadcrumbs 
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
¼ teaspoon sumac
1/4 teaspoon Zatar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

For the Chickpea Salad

1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup pitted green olives, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground sumac
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon Zatar
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Olive oil

For the meatballs: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with your hands. Form into 1½" balls and arrange on a baking sheet lightly greased with olive oil or nonstick spray.

Bake meatballs for 20 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Serve with chickpea salad.

For the chickpea salad: Combine all the salad ingredients except the olive oil in a medium bowl. Very lightly smash the chickpeas with a potato masher or fork, leaving small bits. Drizzle with olive oil and stir to combine.