Tuesday, October 17, 2017

morrocan semolina and almond cookies.


It feels a bit awkward to be posting about cookies that don't utilize apples (which we currently own about 20 pounds of) or pumpkin/squash since it is the season but here I talking about non-seasonally appropriate (but utterly delicious) cookies.

A couple of weekends ago I hosted a dinner party at our place.  It was a full-blown Middle-Eastern inspired menu that included lamb and lots of tahini.   The desert involved maple poached pears with toasted hazelnuts and labneh whipped cream and these cookies.  The cookies weren't part of the original menu but I felt I needed something else and after doing a quick perusal of my cookbooks, stumbled across these which seemed like the perfect compliment to the dessert (and the larger dinner).   

Tyler tried them and declared them worthy of being included in the holiday cookie plate which is the highest level of accolades a cookie can receive.  These are deceptively simple but the flavor and texture are unparalleled.  Simple like a butter cookie but with a more crumbly and sandy texture.  The almond flour provides a little heft and a an extra layer of flavor.  These will be made again in December (if not before).   

Moroccan Semolina and Almond Cookies
Recipe from Dorie's Cookies

1 ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons/294 grams semolina flour
2 cups/200 grams almond flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ cup/150 grams granulated sugar
1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup/60 milliliters flavorless oil, such as canola
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dredging

Position racks to divide the oven into thirds, and heat it to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together semolina, almond flour, baking powder and salt.

Put sugar in bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl in which you can use a hand mixer. Finely grate lemon zest over sugar, then rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is moist and fragrant. Add eggs and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. With mixer running, pour oil down side of the bowl and beat for another 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla and orange blossom water, if using. Turn off mixer, add half the dry ingredients and mix them in on low speed, then add the rest, mixing only until dry ingredients disappear into the dough, which will be thick.

Sift some confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl. For each cookie, spoon out a level tablespoon of dough, roll it between your palms to form a ball and dredge in sugar. Place balls 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheets, then use your thumb to push down the center of each cookie, pressing firmly enough to make an indentation and to cause the edges to crack.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating pans top to bottom and front to back after 8 minutes, or until cookies are ever so lightly colored: They will be golden on the bottom, puffed, dramatically cracked and just firm to the touch. Carefully lift the cookies off sheets and onto racks. Cookies will keep for about 4 days in a covered container at room temperature.

Monday, October 2, 2017

sweet potatoes with yogurt and cilantro-chile sauce.



I've been feeling as of late un-motivated to come to this place to talk about food.  It's not that I'm not cooking, I am cooking, almost every night, and most weekends, but I sometimes feel unsure about whether blogs are now being replaced by Instagram and Tweets and things that get you information quicker and with less words.   Does anyone care to read a couple of paragraphs about my life and what I'm cooking?  

I also think, that with the guy we have currently occupying the White House, I have to spend so much more time and energy reading about what he's done that day.  It's really exhausting and it makes me feel useless.  Spewing my thoughts to my husband and co-workers about all the injustice in the world, what does that accomplish?  I keep donating money to all of these causes because I feel like it's something to do but really is it doing something?    

But if I take a step back and try (really try) to look at this all glass-half full,  I feel like I'm learning so much.   Did you know we have stricter laws about importing cheeses from Europe then we do gun laws?  It's true.  We do and that's dumb.  Because I would much prefer people buy imported raw milk brie cheese then automatic rifles (raw milk brie de meaux is so good).   I hope I'm not the only one that feels this way.  We need gun laws.  What happened in Vegas today is just another very unfortunate reminder of why.      

I came back to this place today because I missed it, because I wanted to just throw a lot of random thoughts down so I can come back later and re-evaluate my sanity, but mostly so I could talk about these sweet potatoes which are honestly the most exciting thing I've made as of late.   Seriously, the most exciting thing.  It comes down to the green sauce which is kind of like a greem romesco but better.  SO MUCH BETTER.  Honestly, I could eat this for lunch every day for the next month and never get tired of it.  The contrast of sweet potatoes with herby, spicy green sauce and creamy yogurt is just so good.  It also tastes great at room temperature, doesn't get soggy, and pairs well with just about anything (Chicken!  Fish!  Lamb!).   There isn't much to be excited about right now, but this salad is one of those things.   

Sweet Potatoes with Yogurt and Cilantro-Chile Sauce
Recipe from the NYTimes 

¼ cup plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
½ tablespoon honey 
Juice of 2 limes
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
2 ¼ pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch wedges
½ bunch cilantro, leaves only (1/2 ounce)
2 green chiles (I used jalapenos), seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced
2 tablespoons sliced blanched almonds
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup Greek yogurt

Pre-heat the over to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup oil, the honey, juice from 1 lime, a large pinch of salt and pepper to taste, and toss with potato wedges. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet, bake until tender and lightly browned in spots, 45 to 55 minutes. Sprinkle with additional salt to taste.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse to combine 1/3 cup oil, the cilantro, chiles, garlic, almonds, juice from remaining lime, vinegar and a large pinch of salt, until it forms a chunky purée. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Spoon the sauce over the potatoes, dollop with some yogurt, drizzle with oil, and serve with any remaining yogurt on the side.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

pasta with kale sauce.


About 3 years ago I made a completely on the fly kale pesto recipe.  (I measured nothing which is typical of me.) Instead, I threw a bunch of ingredients in the blender, pulsed a couple of times, and magically created a pretty great pasta sauce.   

This pasta sauce is slightly infamous because one of my close friends has been asking for the recipe for about 3 years.  This past week,  I finally got around to making it again.  

This is different version then the original and I actually think I like it better.  It uses more kale (1 pound!) and no pricey pine-nuts.   Instead it made up of staple ingredients.  The simplicity of the sauce is what makes it shine.   

We've eaten it a handful of times over the last couple of weeks.  I like the fact that I can make a batch and simply cook-up some pasta whenever we need a quick and easy lunch or dinner.   It's a flavorful and (pretty) virtuous sauce that tastes way better then you would imagine.   

Pasta with Kale Sauce
Recipe adapted slightly from Six Seasons

This makes enough sauce for about 1 pound (if not a little more) of pasta.   You will only use half the sauce for the below recipe.    Keeps in the fridge for a couple of days!    

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1 pound kale (any variety but I like lacinato), thick ribs removedd
1/2 pound pasta
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to water to a boil and add salt until it tastes like the sea.

While the water is coming to a boil, put the garlic and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a small heavy pit or skilled over medium heat and cook until the garlic begins to sizzzle.  Reduce the heat to low and cook until the garlic is light golden, soft, and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes.   Pour the oil and garlic into a bowl so it can cool quickly.

When the water is boiling, add the kale leaves and boil until they are tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes.   Pull them out with ton gs and transfer to a blender.  It is fine if they are wet.   

Add the pasta to the still-boiling water and cook until al dente.   With a ladle or measuring cup, scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the noodles.  

Process the kale in the blender with the oil and garlic. adding just a bit of the pasta water to help the process alonmg and to make a nice thick puree.  Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.  

Transfer the drained pasta back to the pot and pour in about half of the kale puree.   Add half of the Parmesan and toss well.  Add a touch more pasta water and toss until the pasta noodles are well coated with a bright green, creamy textured sauce.  Serve right away with a drizzle of olive oil and the rest of the cheese.   


Thursday, August 17, 2017

buckwheat poppy seed jam biscuits.


I didn’t think it was possible to make a biscuit better but apparently it is.

You do it by subbing some of the traditional all-white flour for buckwheat or spelt.  This provides some nuttiness and a toothsome quality to the biscuits that I find addicting.  

And then you add a dollop of jam to the crater you create with your thumb in the middle of the biscuit.  This crater of jam ensures that that the biscuit is a singular dish, a portable handheld treat that can be eaten for breakfast as you are walking to work.  

This is my dream breakfast biscuit. 

Buckwheat Poppy Seed Jam Biscuits
Recipe from Apt. 2B Baking

Yield 10-12 biscuits

12 ounces all-purpose flour
8 ounces buckwheat or spelt flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
8 ounces cold butter, cut into cubes
1 ¼ -1 ½ cups buttermilk
About 6 ounces jam

Preheat oven to 350º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds.

Add the butter and cut it in with a pastry cutter or your fingers. Keep mixing until the mixture looks mealy with a few pea and lima bean sized hunks of butter remaining.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add in 1 1/4c of the buttermilk. Gently mix the dough together, making sure that all of the flour mixture gets moistened. If the dough is dry or crumbly continue to add the additional buttermilk 1T at a time until the mixture mostly comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, it's okay if the dough comes out of the bowl in a few pieces, and pat it out into a circle 1 1/2''-2'' tall. Cut the biscuits with a floured 2 1/2'' biscuit cutter or drinking glass. Gently pat the scraps together and cut one more round of biscuits. Place the cut biscuits on a lined baking sheet.

Use your thumb to gently make a tablespoon sized indent in the middle of each biscuit, then very gently, while supporting the sides of the biscuit, use your thumb to push down and make the hole deeper. Aim to make the hole a little wider at the bottom than the top and push down almost to the bottom of the biscuit. Fill each indentation with a tablespoon of jam.

Bake for 35-40min or until the biscuits are golden and crisp on the outside.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

zucchini parmesan.


Should you decide (like me) that because the weather feels remarkably fall-like for July (was last week perfect or was last week perfect), that you want to go all in and just consume comfort food, might I suggest this dish.  An excellent way to utilize that summer produce (notably zucchini which everyone is bored of by early August) in a way that feels remarkably rich and comforting.   

While it is comforting, this is not particularly rich.  It is not loaded with cheese (though there is some), its not filled with oil or eggs.  It's a simple baked dish filled with layers of roasted zucchini and tomato sauce.  I don't know how it happens to taste so decadent (but not in  a I can only eat one bite kind of way) but it does!  And it's awesome.   

Zucchini Parmesan
Recipe adapted from the NYTimes

The original recipe called for making fresh tomato sauce with farmers market tomatoes.  Normally I'm into that thing but when I make fresh sauce, it's an all weekend affair involving 20 pounds of tomatoes and a lot of cursing.  I wasn't going to do that for this dish.  I used canned tomatoes and it was great.  Though if you want to use fresh, by all means do so.    

For the Sauce

1 28 oz can tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste)
Salt and pepper
⅛ teaspoon sugar
2 sprigs fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 cup ricotta (optional)

For the Zucchini Parmesan

2 to 2¼ pounds zucchini
 Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (pepperoncini), to taste
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan

To make tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add 
garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, and add tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and basil sprigs. Increase heat to medium-high. When tomatoes are bubbling briskly, stir and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until tomatoes have cooked down and are beginning to stick to pan, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on consistency. Remove basil sprigs; taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in chopped basil and ricotta (if using).

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment. Trim ends off zucchini and cut in half crosswise, then into lengthwise slices, about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick. Season on both sides with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange zucchini slices on baking sheets in one layer and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Roast for 12 minutes, until lightly browned and easily pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees.

To assemble the dish, oil a 2-quart gratin with olive oil. Spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce over bottom of dish. Arrange a third of the zucchini in an even layer over tomato sauce. Spoon a third of remaining sauce over zucchini and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat with 2 more layers, ending with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Drizzle on remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbling and browned on the top and edges. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


Monday, July 24, 2017

swiss chard fritters.



These are not going to win any beauty contests.   But what they lack in looks they make up for in taste.  And isn’t that all that matters?  

I’ve been revisiting a lot of my cookbooks over the last couple of weeks.  With the farmer’s markets practically bursting with produce, they’ve become a good resource for inspiration.  And the pages I have marked serve as reminders of the dishes that previously called to me but have never been made.   It’s fun uncovering recipes that called to me but I never got around to making.

These fitters were one of those dishes.  Something that I thought could serve as a good veggie side to poultry or fish dish (we actually ate them with these turkey zucchini burgers ) but also stand alone as a vegetarian main if served with an egg on it and a tomato salad on the side.   They are incredible.  Very earthy (in a good way!) with a nice flavor punch.  The addition of the herbs provides a nice level of brightness and freshness that I can’t get enough of.  

So yes, they aren’t pretty but we love them.   

Swiss Chard Fritters
Recipe from Jerusalem 

400g (14oz) Swiss chard leaves, stalks removed
30g (1oz) flat leaf parsley
20g (3/4oz) coriander
20g / 3/4oz dill
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 eggs
80g (3oz) feta, crumbled
Olive Oil or Grapeseed Oil for cooking
Lemon wedges, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the chard & simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze until the chard is completely dry.  Place the chard in a food processor along with the herbs, nutmeg, sugar, flour, garlic, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and pulse until you have a somewhat smooth green batter. Crumble in the feta & gently fold it through.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Spoon in 1 heaped tablespoon of the batter for each fritter. Press down gently on the fritter to flatten it to about 2 1/2 inches wide. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown or rather green. Transfer to some kitchen paper & keep warm while you fry the rest of the fritters in batches. 

Serve warm, with lemon wedges and/or yogurt sauce.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

blistered green beans with tomato-almond pesto.


I made this dish on a whim earlier this week  and I am very glad I did.   

We buy most of our produce on at the Saturday farmer’s market and during the week before leaving for work, I perform a mental checklist of what’s in the fridge and what needs to be used-up and from there I build dinner.   If I’m feeling un-inspired or particularly bored with whatever I think I should be making I perform a Google search consisting of “NYTIMES or Bon Appetit + INSERT VEGETABLE HERE” and see what pop’s up.  Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t but whatever the outcome it usually helps me to come-up with some kind of game plan.    

This time it worked!


This is my new favorite way to eat green beans.   Cooked in a cast iron skillet until blistered in spots and tossed in a smoked paprika and tomato laced “pesto” that tastes like a combination of Romanesco and gazpacho.   It’s a bright, punchy, and the perfect side for grilled meat or fish.  

Blistered Green Beans With Tomato-Almond Pesto
Recipe from Bon Appetit

2 pints cherry tomatoes
¼ cup unsalted, roasted almonds
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 pounds haricots verts or green beans, trimmed

Preheat oven to 450°. Roast tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, turning once, until blistered and lightly charred, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly. Finely chop almonds in a food processor. Add garlic, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, cayenne, and half of tomatoes; pulse to a coarse pesto consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1½ tsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add half of beans; cook, undisturbed, until beginning to blister, about 2 minutes. Toss and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until tender, 7–9 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Spread beans out on a platter; let cool. Repeat with remaining vegetable oil and beans.

Toss beans with pesto; season with salt and pepper if needed. Add remaining tomatoes and transfer to a platter.

Do Ahead: Dish can be made 3 hours ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature. Toss and adjust seasoning just before serving.


Friday, July 7, 2017

blueberry-buttermilk pie bars.


Now that we are in the throes of summer (and the proud owners of a balcony) we’ve been eating a lot of meals outdoors.  We bring Jackson’s dog bed outside so he can join us.  Jackson sits quietly and watches his surroundings.  As the meal nears the end he gets up to rest his head on my lap; waiting for the opportunity to lick the plate clean or get a some scraps of whatever it is that we are eating.   Being able to eat outdoors makes weekday dinners feel like a mini-vacation.  

Our new surroundings has also encouraged me to prepare meals that feel like picnics.   I’ve always had a fondness for meals composed of assorted things but in the summer it feels all the more appropriate.  Some kind of quick and easy salad with whatever produce is new that week (snap peas with radish and tahini dressing has been our recent favorite), a couple of cheeses from our local cheese shop, a piece of a baguette, and perhaps some sausage, leftover chicken, or prosciutto.   Depending on our mood and the day of week, we round out the meal with a beer or a glass of wine.   Meals like this are how I love to eat.   

We finish these meals with dessert (this is me after all).  The farmer’s market fruit has been out of control good this year and I’ve been eating so much of it – a lot of it by the handful but an equally large amount has been baked in crisps, crumbles, and pie bars (my favorite).   These blueberry-buttermilk pie bars have been a favorite around here.   More tangy they sweet and perfectly portable – they are the dream dessert for lazy July days and nights.     

Blueberry-Buttermilk Pie Bars
Recipe from Dorie's Cookies 

I don't doubt these would be really good with halved cherries instead of blueberries.   

For the Crust

3/4 cup (102 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (67 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (33 grams) cornmeal (not coarse)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

For the Topping

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 30 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (150 grams) fresh blueberries (though I nudged this up to 1 1/2 cups)

To make the crust: Have an 8-inch square baking pan at hand.

Put the flour, sugar, cornmeal, cornstarch and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Drop in the chunks of butter and work in long pulses — about dozen or so — until you have a moist dough that forms curds. Turn the dough out into the baking pan and use your fingertips to press it evenly into the pan. Put the pan in the refrigerator while you preheat the oven (it needs a short chill before baking).

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F.

Bake the crust for 23 to 25 minutes, until it’s golden brown. Even though the crust will be baked again with the topping, it needs to be thoroughly baked now, so err on the side of more golden rather than less. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the crust to cool completely.

If you’ve turned off the oven, return it to 350 degrees F.

To make the topping: Spoon the cornstarch into a small bowl and pour over 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Stir until the cornstarch dissolves; this is a slurry, which will thicken the custard.

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until foamy. Add the sugar and immediately start whisking vigorously (you must beat sugar and eggs together quickly, or the sugar will “burn” the yolks and cause a film to form). Whisk in the salt and vanilla, then whisk in the slurry. When the slurry is fully incorporated, stir in the remainder of the buttermilk, followed by the melted butter. Scatter the blueberries over the crust and then pour on the topping. The blueberries will shift — they’ve got nothing to hold on to — so try to even them out by poking them with your fingers or a spoon; but give up if it’s not happening.

Bake the bars for 42 to 45 minutes, until the topping is puffed all the way to the center, brown around the edges and firm everywhere. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 20 minutes. Carefully run a table knife around the edges of the pan, place a piece of parchment paper over the pan and unmold the bar onto a rack. Remove the pan and invert the bar onto another rack to cool to room temperature; chill if you’d like. Just before serving, slide the bar onto a cutting board and, using a long, thin knife, cut 2-inch squares.

Storing: Covered and kept away from foods with strong odors, the bars will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator. However, like “real” pies, these are best the day they are made.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

detroit, mi. thoughts + a food guide.


When Tyler and I told people we were visiting Detroit, 90% of the people had a look of horror on their faces and asked why, 5% were indifferent, and 5% thought it sounded awesome (that 5% was mostly made-up of my parents and siblings). 

To say I began to question my choice would be a bit of an understatement. 

But Detroit is an incredible city.  Yes there are pockets of poverty and so many abandoned and dilapidated homes (that Tyler and I talked endlessly about rehabbing) but it is place filled with generosity, resiliency, and some of the friendliest people I've ever met. It's a place that feels mis-understood but also on the cusp of its 2nd golden age.  It's a place I could see us living in.   

Detroit has a lot to offer.  Some incredible museums (we only visited one since the weather was so good while we were there), a plethora of breweries, and some of the best food made by people who are truly embracing that whole locavore/seasonal/small-plate thing I love.   Below, find a handful of places we tried and loved.  This was only the tip of the iceberg, but I know we'll be back so I don't feel too bad about it.   


Food 

Gold Cash Gold - The first restaurant I had on my list and the only reservation I made.   It's located in an old pawn shop.   Hyper-seasonal with  a really interesting menu the veers in all different directions (some Southern, some Mexican).  We swooned over the cocktails, marrow dumplings, tomatillo salad, and vegan ice-cream sandwich.   

Gather - Our last dinner.  It just opened (like 2 weeks before we arrived) but it had been getting such good press that I felt we had to go.   Small-plate/shareable style (though if you are used to NY small plates then these plates would not be considered small).  Focus on grilled foods (fish, chicken, and bread).  We loved the homemade bread, crunchy salad, and a most excellent strawberry ice cream sandwich.   

Detroit Institute of Bagels - Probably the friendliest bagel shop I've ever been to.  Great bagel sandwiches best eaten in between river swimming.   

Sister Pie - My favorite stop in Detroit.   So many pies (we had Strawberry Pistachio and Marshmallow Butterscotch) and incredibly good cookies (the peanut butter paprika is awesome).   I really hope they make a cookbook.   I would fly back out there solely for more pie

Rose's Fine Foods - I've always wanted to own a diner and if I ever do such a thing, it will be modeled after this place.   Quirky with an emphasis on homemade (they make their bread).  It's diner perfection.   We had an order of pancakes with yogurt and caramelized bananas that may be my new favorite breakfast dish.    

The Farmer's Hand - A corner store/specialty grocer that only sells items made in Detroit.   We stopped her for local kombucha and cookies.   A great place to pick-up something fun to bring home.  

Bon Bon Bon   - A chocolate shop that is anything but traditional.  The flavors are out of control and their packaging is awesome.   



To-Do

Detroit Museum of Art -  A very impressive art museum that has Egyptian galleries, European art and an awesome contemporary wing.  It's a nice way to spend a couple of hours indoors.

Belle Isle - Probably my favorite stop in all of Detroit.   This is an island situated between Detroit and Canada.   There are a whole bunch of different attractions on the island (golfing, aquarium, etc) but we brought a picnic, a couple of towels, some books and magazines, and spent the day swimming in the Detroit river.  There's a great mix of hipsters and families and and sandy shore to lay out on.  Our day spent there was my kind of perfect day. 

Eastern Market - Due to plane delays we missed going here but if you are a food lover it's a market you don't want to miss.   There are vendors, produce stalls, and other booths selling locally made items.   It's also one of the oldest running markets in the US!   



Libations

Jolly Pumpkin Brewery - Great collection of sour beers (something Tyler and I are very into at this moment).   They also sell pizza's to help you sop up some of that beer (and the pizza comes highly rated).  

Detroit Brewing Company - Across the street from Jolly Pumpkin.  They have a great outdoor seating area and nice rotating list of beers so you can always find something seasonal on tap.

Batch Brewing Company - My ideal brewery.   Great bar food (we had a really excellent cubano and homemade pretzels), family friendly (should you be traveling with kids, they have games), and some excellent beers.  They also make a beer slushie for the summer and let me tell you, it's awesome.   

Places I didn't hit but wish I had time for - Mabel Grey, Mudgie's Deli.  The MoTown Museum.




Tuesday, June 6, 2017

pistachio cake with strawberries.


I've been eating strawberries with such abandon (we're talking about 2 quarts a week in our house).   For breakfast with keffir or atop pancakes.  For lunch as a side to roasted vegetables and a wedge of cheese (such a lunch makes me think for about 15 minutes I'm not at my desk) and for dessert pretty much every which way. In a bowl covered in a thick layer of whipped cream, in galettes, and baked in strussel bars.  2017 has been the year of the strawberry.   

But for all the ways I've consumed them, this is perhaps my favorite.   I never thought much about the pairing of strawberries and pistachios (strawberries and almonds yes, but not strawberries and pistachios) but let me tell you, it is incredible.   A buttery, fragrant, tender cake (that is quite frankly even better on day 3 then day 1) gets paired with ripe, juicy, bursting with flavor with strawberries.   It's a dessert that epitomizes early June and everything I love about it.   

Pistachio Cake with Strawberries 
Pistachio Cake recipe (without Strawberries) from Smitten Kitchen

For the Cake 

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (140 grams) roasted, shelled, and unsalted pistachios
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons (5 ounces or 145 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Slightly heaped 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (115 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Lemon-Pistachio Glaze 

1/3 cup (40 grams) roasted, shelled, and unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Heat oven: To 325 degrees F. Line the bottom and long sides of a loaf pan with a sling of parchment paper. Coat paper and exposed short sides of loaf pan with nonstick spray or butter.

With a food processor: In the work bowl of your food processor, grind pistachios, sugar and salt together until as powdery as you can get them without it turning to paste. Cut butter into small chunks and blend with pistachio mixture. It’s going to be lumpy at first, and then balled for a minute, but keep running the machine until the mixture loosens up into a frosting-like consistency, i.e. smooth and shiny. Add eggs, one at time, blending briefly between each, scraping down sides as needed. Add milk, blend to combine. Add extracts and baking powder and blend to fully combine, scraping down workbowl. Add flour and pulse just until it disappears.

Without a food processor: You’re going to want to start with 140 grams pistachio meal or flour and softened butter and can proceed as with a traditional cake. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in milk, then extracts until smooth. Beat in salt and baking powder until fully combined, scraping down bowl well. Add flour and mix just until it disappears.

To bake: Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread top smooth. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes (see note up top by way of explanation/apology). Mine took 70, but it’s safest to check sooner. Look for a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake to come out clean and then, do a second check near the top. I find with loaf cakes that the undercooked batter likes to hover right below the top crust. It often takes 10 minutes extra (built into this baking time already) just for that to set for me.

Let cake cool in pan on rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around cake and transfer to cooling rack. Let cool completely.

To make glaze (optional): Bring pistachios, sugar, zest, and juice to a simmer in a small saucepan; simmer for 2 to 3 minutes then pour over cooled cake.

To serve: Cut into slices.  Top with sliced strawberries (preferably macerated for about 10 minutes in lemon juice and a teaspoon or 2 of sugar) and some whipped cream. Cake is great on the first day but even better on the second, as the ingredients settle. Keep at room temperature for several days, wrapped in foil, or longer in freezer.


Monday, May 22, 2017

rhubarb "big crumb" coffeecake.


I’ve been thinking about this coffee cake for maybe 3 years now.  Every year I promise myself I’m going to make it and every year I forget.  

It’s a vicious cycle.  

This year, this year was different (throwing more brunches and dinners for friends ensures I get to try more recipes which is a win-win for everyone).  And now that I’ve made it, I can’t imagine how I ever lived without.  

This is quite possibly the best coffee cake I’ve ever had.  

Crumbs (SO MANY CRUMBS) sit atop a cake layer that is studded with rhubarb.  The tartness of the rhubarb pairs balances out the sweet (but not too sweet) crumb and spiced cake layer.  I’ve declared it the ideal breakfast pastry and if you were to show-up with it at the next group brunch, no one would be mad.

Rhubarb "Big Crumb" Coffee Cake
Recipe tweaked from the NYTimes

When rhubarb season ends, I plan on trying this with blueberries and sour cherries.  I think diced peaches would also be awesome.   This cake also freezes incredibly well.  I suggest wrapping individual pieces in plastic and foil and saving them for when you want to make your Sunday morning (or really any morning) feel more celebratory.      

For the Rhubarb Filling

1/2 - 3/4 pound rhubarb, trimmed
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground ginger

For the Crumbs

⅓ cup dark brown sugar
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup melted butter
1 ¾ all-purpose flour or some combination of your favorite flours (I did 3/4 cup AP, 1/2 cup sprouted whole wheat, and 1/2 cup spelt)

For the Cake

⅓ cup sour cream or thick yogurt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.

To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.


Friday, May 12, 2017

pan roasted asparagus with chimichurri.


Asparagus consumption is at an all time high in our apartment.  We are averaging a couple of pounds of week between the two of us and I don't expect this to stop until they are gone.  

We've been having them every which way - shredded on pizza, diced in tacos, and pan roasted which is perhaps my favorite way to eat them.   Pan roasting ensures you get charred, burnt bites while still keeping the asparagus pretty green and a little raw - it's the best of both worlds.   

This recipe takes those asparagus up a notch by pairing them with bright and tangy chimichurri.   Chimichurri is an raw herb sauce that is traditionally paired with meat but here it gets paired with tender asparagus, olives, and goat cheese.  It's pretty brilliant pairing and the epitome of spring eating.   

Pan Roasted Asparagus with Chimichurri
Recipe adapted from the NYTimes 

3 tablespoons finely chopped green garlic
½ cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro 
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon red wine or sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 pound pencil-thin asparagus, tough ends snapped off
4 ounces crumbled feta or a firm goat cheese 
Handful of olives
1/4 cup hazlenuts, toasted and chopped 
Crushed red pepper and sumac, to taste

Heat a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. 

Make the chimichurri sauce: In a small bowl, stir together chopped green garlic, parsley or cilantro, oregano, olive oil (start off with 1/4 of a cup), vinegar and 2 tablespoons water.  If it looks thick, add a little more olive oil and water until the desired consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle very lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt.

Transfer asparagus to hot cast-iron pan.   Let asparagus cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until nicely charred, with a few burnt and blistered spots. Asparagus cooked this way tastes best if slightly undercooked and still bright green.

Put cooked asparagus on a platter and spoon chimichurri sauce generously over spears. Top with crumbled feta, olives, and hazelnuts , then sprinkle with crushed red pepper and sumac.  Serve immediately.