15 February 2014

a valentine or two

the weather in philly these days has been dreadful. just absolutely gross out. after a snow and ice storm on thursday, we had a bit of a reprieve on Friday, and now it is wintry-mix-ing all over the place. gross.

what else can one do, in such weather, but hole up inside with some rich, delectable comfort food? it being valentine's day yesterday, will and i had quite the feast planned - we decided to make short rib grilled cheese, with home-pickled-red onions. they were delicious. and as we were cooking in the late afternoon, i decided that we needed some dessert! and this recipe had popped up in my email, for a chocolate pomegranate tart.

forgive the terrible instagram photo - but here the tart is in its glory!

i didn't have any pomegranate juice (the one thing i forgot to buy!!) so I squeezed some blood oranges that I had, and cooked down that 1 cup of juice with some pomegranate seeds in it + 2 tbsp sugar. uh, delicious.

thick, rich, and chocolate-y. a perfect end to valentine's day!

11 February 2014

It had been a while...

It is amazing how busy one gets working, and then in business school. I'm not sure that I actually have time to restart this blog now but I had my first canning success yesterday and it was too exciting not to share.

I'm currently trying to figure out what favors to give out at my wedding. We're doing a bit of a cooking theme and so I have been thinking about spice rubs and flavored salts and sugars. Cute, not too hard to make in bulk, has a personal touch. But also would take a decent amount of work. So I ordered a small number of jars that I wanted to test out, and planned to try making a flavored salt. I splurged the other day and went to whole foods, which is not close by. While there I saw a bag of Meyer lemons. They just looked glorious - big and beautiful. Perfect to zest into salt.

I only needed about 1 lemon to zest into the 1 cup of salt I used for my trial. It is quite yummy smelling, but i am unsure whether it is the right favor to use for my wedding. Hmmmm. 

But what else to do with the lemons after making the salt? I started googling ideas. Meyer lemon curd came up a bunch. Then I saw a Meyer lemon marmalade which uses the whole fruit. Very exciting. I started getting obsessed with the idea of making meyer lemon marmalade, even though I had never canned before. I read online a recommendation to follow the recipe for the blood orange marmalade by foodinjars. it just looked so amazing.

I ordered some ball jars and chopped up my lemons. I decided to use my mandoline to make the slices thinner, as a reviewer had recommended...and it kind of shredded them. Next time, I'll try the z-motion a later review recommended (of course I didn't see it until later!) But still, the lemon slices looked so glorious soaking overnight. Grabbed my handy dandy candy thermometer and cooked it down to a jammy little marmalade. So pretty. I was super paranoid about hitting the 220 degrees if I wasn't watching, early...no need to fear, it was pretty clear when I got to the marmalade stage, and definitely needed to cook down more than I had initially thought.

I had an extra lemon and a half, one missing its zest - but this was just enough for meyer lemon curd. So easy, to make, and smooth. I'm not convinced I actually like lemon curd (something about the egg yolks) but I recently made small fruit tarts with a filling that was lemon curd mixed with marscapone, and they were pretty fantastic. perhaps a good use for the lemon curd that I canned!

all in all, a successful experiment! I can't wait for my next canning adventure!

17 July 2011

Most delicious pasta ever

This weekend, I decided I was going to cook. But I also had a bunch of leftovers I needed to consume. Mmmm conundrum. So I said "leftovers Saturday night, cooking Sunday night" as the weekend plan.

Well, earlier today, I pulled out my trusty Martha Stewart "real food fast" cookbook, which is pretty perfect for the every day, and organizes recipes by season. And I paged through the summer section, trying to decide what to make. The answer? Not most to the summer recipes, apparently, since they all relied on having a grill. Martha, don't you realize that not everyone owns a grill? Because some people don't have apartments that are amenable to grills! And reading all of the tasty recipes that require grills, and realizing you wont really be able to make them - not right, anyway, is quite upsetting. Would it have killed you, Martha, to include baking instructions, to make your recipes more flexible? Really?

But I digress.

Tonight, I went with the fettuccine with peas and prosciutto in a cream sauce. Can you say delicious? I can, and did, several times while eating it. Always a favorite at the occasional italian restaurant, and man, it was SO good. I did make one small tweak to Martha's recipe though. I added an extra (large) splash of cream, because the package of peas I bought was 2oz larger than called for. Also, I just felt it needed it. And that...was a good call.

11 July 2011

this is how you make french toast

sorry this post disappeared - i was playing with uploads on my phone and it wasnt supposed to post the first time!

anyway. back on fourth of july weekend, i had a nice little staycation for the long weekend. and part of that meant that i had some time i could spend in the kitchen, cooking! so rather than spending money going out for brunch, Will and I decided to get together and cook brunch instead. french toast to be exact. with bacon. and no syrup needed -- we had a nice fruit puree that we reduced into a sauce instead. mmmm.

since will has cast iron, he started by frying up some bacon. mmmmm, bacon. meanwhile, i was making the french toast batter with some eggs and vanilla and whipping cream. i also started reducing the fruit puree (from a BBQ we had gone to the day before -- to be used for cocktails, but hey, there was leftover!) -- peaches, strawberries, sugar amd simple syrup. we added some more strawberries and thickened it right up. mmmm.

over on the cast iron pan, the bacon was off and the pan reheated to be set for french toast! will dunked the cinnamon raisin bread in the batter, and minutes later we had several pieces of warm french toast! we topped it with the reduced fruit puree, and some whipped cream we whipped up quickly (well we had the whipping cream, after all...)

mmmmm brunch!

03 July 2011

Its always better with blueberries AND chocolate chips

While at the grocery store the other day, blueberries were on sale. Exciting. And then I was walking by the baking aisle, and I saw one of those bisquik shake and pours in a tiny size! Perfect amount of pancake batter for 2 people. Or, one person and leftovers. And so I thought...blueberry pancakes! How perfect on this holiday weekend!

And so this morning, I made pancakes! And tomorrow, I will probably also make pancakes! But hopefully I will make them look less demented tomorrow, after the practice today. The first one...failed horribly, which is why it is, in pieces, at the bottom of the plate, and covered by the last one, which looks soooo much nicer! And contains delicious blueberries and mini chocolate chips!

18 May 2011

I like green things

so, one of the great things about my phone: takes pretty decent photos, AND will upload them directly to blogger. pretty cool! just doesnt do the prettiest formatting on them. ah well what can you do!

no time to write, but i started this post 2 months ago (in may. it is now july), and am just going to upload it (backdated, of course, since the date i started the entry was saveD).

things learned: roasted brussel sprouts are DELICIOUS and so much healthier than cooking them in butter and pancetta. okay maybe not quite as delicious but still pretty good. i like how the top leaves get really crispy, kind of like how roasted kale does. which is also awesome. anywho, as long as you dont burn the brussel sprouts...pretty good!

and asparagus, that lovely lovely green. here -- just sauting in a bit of olive oil. yum!

29 March 2011


i may not have mentioned, but a few weeks back, i participated in a cookie takedown! and baked hundreds of cookies one saturday afternoon. see above, me with a platter of only maybe a third of the cookies that i made. but i am getting ahead of myself. let me back up...

about a year ago or so, i dragged tanya to the lamb takedown, in central square. i had heard about it through one of the various newsletters i get, and thought "i love lamb. this is 20 people making lots of delicious lamb. i must go to this." and let me tell you, that was an AWESOME decision. because it was deeeelicious. and while at the event, i must have signed up for the mailing list to be told about any future such competitions. so fast forward to a few weeks ago, and i get an email that there is a new takedown coming. a COOKIE takedown. could this be any more meant for me? i really don't think so. i immediately entered.

i started scouring my brain for which cookie to make. i was really tempted by the idea of making venetians, mostly because they are both delicious and incredibly impressive. but i decided against it when matt timms, the organizer, told me i needed to bring about 240 bites of cookie. even cutting those venetians small, with the pans that i have it would have required ~5 batches to make that many bites, and frankly, i cannot deal with that much almond paste and meringue.

so i continued thinking, and wondered "what is the cookie that everyone asks me for the recipe for? what is the one everyone loves?" and the answer came to me immediately -- the pistachio thumbprint cookies! AND it isn't that bad of a recipe to make! i knew i might still have to make 5 batches, though i would make the cookies smaller, but i could at least double a batch or two while doing it. so i set off to the grocery store for my supplies, and started baking the day before.

i am going to give you the recipe, which comes from my grandmother's christmas cookie recipes -- i dont know where it came from before that. i will mention, however, that i didn't *quite* make it this way. that is because it had been a while since i made the cookies, and i had a bit of a memory lapse. you see, in my memory, the nuts get mixed into the cookie dough along with the chocolate chips. in real life, the cookies are supposed to be rolled in the nuts on the outside. while this didnt totally kill me in the competition, and people still liked them and even told me they liked the texture a lot....i am so disappointed in myself for doing them wrong and unknowingly changing the cookie! also, i think that by making them smaller (and thus only having to do a triple batch to get ~300 bites) i made them a bit less delicious, and based on the fact that i had >100 leftover when i left, i could have made them bigger and more delicious. i guess they cant have been too bad though, because they won an honorable mention prize! which included a madoleine pan, so i have some new recipes to try!

links to a few of the blog posts written about the competition:

and now, the recipe!

1 cup butter
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
1 package (3.4 oz) instant pistachio pudding mix
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips (normal size also work)
2 cups finely chopped pecans or walnuts

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg and extracts; mix well. Combine flour and pudding mix; add to the creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in nuts. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets, make a thumbprint in center of cookie. (I use parchment paper to make it easier. you dont need to butter the sheets in any case, there is enough butter in these cookies that they wont stick)

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

2 tbsp butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 - 3 tbsp milk

For filling, cream butter, sugar, vanilla and milk. Spoon into center of cooked cookie. Let stand until set (the filling should be fairly thick)