19 April 2017

PBJ



When I plan to make something again and again, it goes on here. Of course, I haven't been sharing everything. There's been more bread. And this coffee cake and muffins to use the last of my frozen summer blueberries (where are you, rhubarb? Come soon?) and I brought Julia Turshen's easy orange cake to Easter and made mini ones for us to enjoy in the days after, too. When I caught a Facebook Live video of Liz Prueitt of San Fransisco's Tartine, casually making these gluten free nut butter bars, that also happen to be one-bowl, gluten-free and a lot more wholesome than your average peanut butter and jelly bar featuring lots of flour, butter and sugar, I was smitten. Liz uses almond butter, I'd use peanut, she used blueberry jam, I used strawberry, and another time, apricot, making them essentially a jazzed up PBJ sandwich in bar form, which means they're a good breakfast option, or afternoon nosh. What's not to love? I've already been back to them twice.

04 February 2017

While you wait



Over the Christmas week break, I opened a package of yeast for the first time. To make: Saltie's focaccia, which is the only recipe I will ever need for focaccia. I'm not sure why I waited so long to tackle yeast, but suddenly it feels like the perfect time. We could all use a bit of kneading these days. Or no-kneading, in the case of a lot of recipes in the new wave of bread. Waiting, resting and patience. Magical things take place, while you wait. The purpose of sleep? To forget, researchers have said. There is no better place to see this than with bread.

21 December 2016

The gift of time



I've been thinking a lot about time lately. How easy it is to lose track of it, "waste" it, judge how you spend it. And what is worth your time. There are things that take a lot of effort, aka, time, which translates to work which translates to money. This is a cheap meal that takes time. But it doesn't take much effort. The only work lies in the ability to decide to start. 

In this case, my husband suggested a few weeks ago, on a Sunday, we make the slow cooked classic Italian sauce (and my plans for a quick chicken thigh dish were averted). It was 3:30 pm and we had none of the ingredients. As we headed to the store (the specialty one with better meat, I read Marcella Hazan's recipe again and did a double take when I checked on a trusted blogger's rendition. Three hours of cooking time for the final stage, but "up to another 2 hours" for the first two steps. 

Don't be tempted to rush, is a phrase often associated with bolognese. Also, trust Marcella. 

I stopped us in the street. We did not start this early enough, I explained, and I had to be the killjoy. After some huffing, we bought a strip steak instead, sat down for an espresso, and headed home. I gathered the ingredients over the next week (simple, frugal ones, really) and on snowy Saturday, we got to it (with non-specialty store beef). After some fine dicing of a mirepoix and some stirring, the flavors are left to build at a simmer, and build and build. 

A third of the sauce is in my freezer now, along with the rest of the bundle of the fresh pappardelle from a pasta store in our neighborhood, and I plan to pull it out on a night I am strapped for time. Although, now I'm kinda hoping for another snow day to make a second batch.

Marcella Hazan's Bolognese
Adapted barely from NY Times


3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
½ cup chopped onion
⅔ cup chopped celery
⅔ cup chopped carrot
¾ pound ground beef chuck 80% (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)
Salt
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1 cup whole milk
Whole nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
Pappardelle pasta and grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese to serve

Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely (45 min). Add a tiny grating -- about 1/8 teaspoon -- of nutmeg, and stir. Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated (another 45 min), then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt. --NYTimes









09 November 2016

A goldenness



Funny, I wrote this post on Election Day, hadn't published it yet. I, like everyone, woke up to an Internet with a lot of strong feelings.

I'm not sure anyone has escaped this election without feeling deeply, deeply provoked on some level. 

I don't think I've listened to the radio (often while cooking) more in my life than over the past few months. 

We haven't stopped doing what we're doing just because of a chaotic season of anxiety around us and now we are not going to stop doing what we are doing because something has been decided that we perhaps, have major problems with, but the person next to us, does not. 

We've had to keep going. We've had to examine our conscious. We've had to, in small ways remember what grounds us.To hold everyone accountable and to to be kind and strong and gracious. I woke up today wanting to act, to protect, to remember who I am, no matter what.

30 September 2016

Good, cozy plan



Fundamentally speaking, baking chocolate chip cookies shouldn't be complicated. But with the many ways to do such a thing: brown the butter, rest the dough 3 days, use part pastry flour and part bread flour, find chocolate feves/wafers, choose to use expensive chocolate, use only whole wheat flour (still a great choice) or simply decide which recipe to follow---and it can easily become a bother. Not so with these cookies. There's one caveat though, which is also why I chose to bake them: they use egg yolks, which I found, sitting in a lone cup in the fridge after making omelets with an extra white. The recipe, from The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak includes only yolks to add a delicate richness to the cookies, and manages to do so without getting too fussy. You can swap in a bit of whole grain flour, dial down the sugar a hair, add nuts, use whatever chocolate to your liking, and also eat them on the same day, while stocking the dough in the freezer for later which, to me, sounds like a good, cozy plan for fall. 

06 September 2016

A push


And with a snap, all things summer get stored in the memory...
Increasingly beautiful sunsets.
Air, mountains, grass, oceans (for us urbanites)
Low-power A.C. : ( (good riddance)
As I write, a powerful breeze, slightly tropical, gusts through the living room window, announcing its entrance.


It will be four years in this space next month. In my kitchen, this summer, I got extra counter space--a seemingly simple thing that now seems inconceivable was never here. 


One night, early-June, a few days shy of turning 31, I was talking to Bryan Calvert, chef at James in Brooklyn. It was a celebration of his cookbook. It was a lively evening, with delicious appetizers and cocktails, and a cookbook so big and pretty it took me weeks to make anything from it (more below..)

22 July 2016

Midsummer

It seems like I blinked and it was Midsummer. Suddenly, the urge to do all the things we want to do fills us like school kids checking off bucket lists, the required reading punctuated by trailblazing. Except when you're an adult, there's not exactly a deadline signaling the close to your summer days except the sun itself. And I am reminded to appreciate all that we have done, are doing and what is here.

25 June 2016

Hurry, hurry




This is my favorite cake of the season. There, I said it. With its colors and flavor profile, a rhubarb-almond cake would be ideal on a Spring table (it stems from a Bon Appetit Easter feature from about a year ago) but who actually gets rhubarb for March/April? The first time it comes around here is May, and I expect it to last only a few weeks, yet every Saturday, when I went to the farm stand with produce from Mid-South Jersey, it was there well into June.