Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hellooo…Newman.



Woah. It's mid-October and by looking at this blog you'd think that I've been on permanent summer vacation. I wish! I've just been lazy. And drinking rosé and eating salads. But now that it's nearly Halloween, it's time to see if my oven still works! Once I remove all of the pot and pans that are stored there!

With all of the recent Instagram posts from pumpkin patches and apple orchards, an apple recipe seemed the way to go. Granted this recipe uses one singular apple, but it's the thought that counts. And BT dubs, if you go to an orchard and only want to bring home an apple vs. a bushel, you'll be good to go! 

I randomly have a square muffin tin and it makes these little guys look like cute individual cakes rather than your average muffin. Perhaps along the lines of something that could be sold in an individual package like a Drake's Coffee Cake. The full size, not the junior. (Sometimes I feel like I am living a Seinfeld episode, but I digress…) The point is (what was my point again?) that these are super tasty and my oven still works!


Individual Apple Crumb Cakes
Adapted from Food & Wine

Streusel:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Cakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg, beaten
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely diced



1. Make the streusel: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, or using a pastry blender in a medium bowl, combine the flour with the brown sugar and salt. Add the butter pieces and mix at medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Continue mixing the streusel until very small clumps form. Refrigerate until it is well chilled, about 10 minutes.

2. Make the crumb cakes: Line 12 standard-size muffin cups with paper liners, or simply butter the muffin tin. In a large bowl, combine the flour with the granulated sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Add the butter pieces and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sour cream and beaten egg and mix until the batter is smooth. Add the diced apple and stir just until incorporated.

3. Fill the muffin cups halfway with the crumb cake batter. Press the streusel into clumps and sprinkle on top. Bake the crumb cakes in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, until risen, golden and springy to the touch. Rotate the pans halfway through baking. Let the crumb cakes cool slightly before serving. Makes 12.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Have it Your Way



Summer weekends may have come to an end, but it's still hot, hot, hot! I spent most of my summer meal times sipping rosé rather than cooking anything (and is quite evident by my blog posts). I may have had a few cashews on the side for good measure. When it was super hot, I branched out and picked up some fro-yo or made this simple granita. What's great about a granita is that you don't need a fancy ice cream maker or other gigantic contraption, and you can really make any flavor that you want (maybe I should have made a rosé granita). This espresso version gives you a little caffeine jolt alongside the icy cold sensation, so go ahead and have it for breakfast. It's iced coffee weather!



Espresso Granita

2 cups strong hot coffee or espresso
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar, to taste
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Stir espresso, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves.

2. Pour into a 9x9x2" metal baking pan and freeze for 1 hour. Stir, mashing any frozen parts with the back of a fork. Cover; freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

3. Using a fork, scrape granita to form icy flakes. The granita can be made 3 days ahead. Cover tightly with foil; keep frozen. Give it a quick scrape before serving.

Monday, June 30, 2014

It Ain't Easy Being Green


For the past week, I've been a guinea pig. (OK, not literally.) I volunteered, along with few others, to test out a diet book for an upcoming article at work. I thought it would be a good opportunity to hit the reset button and stop pretending that I can eat and drink like I am 21. Which I am not. I thankfully only have to commit for two weeks. By the way, I'm calling it a diet because it is. (And it says so on the front cover.) It's only meant to be followed for four weeks to achieve rapid weight loss and is not meant to be incorporated into one's lifestyle full time.

While I have dropped 4 pounds in the first week, I can't believe that the weight loss will last long. The caloric restriction is a bit much. For example, by 5:00 pm today I had only consumed 550 calories. (Yes, I was getting hangry!) According to my tabulations, on most days I have been limited to 1000 calories tops. There's no way I'll be able to sustain that on my own, particularly because I am currently required to include several meals that should consist of either a 200-calorie fruit smoothie, protein shake or low-sodium soup. I personally don't like to drink my calories, so have opted for the soup. I quickly realized that I better start making my own soups because on my last run to Pret A Manger for my liquid-ish lunch, I discovered that several of their small soups top out at 1100 mg of sodium! (Your entire daily intake should be between 1500 mg and 2300 mg.) No joke! Also not a joke? Saturday's 100-calorie snack suggestion of 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds OR 6 oysters. Ummm…when is the last time you or anyone you have ever met in your life has eaten poppy seeds? That weren't in a muffin? And who snacks on oysters without a glass of wine? (Oh yeah, I'm not drinking alcohol or coffee either.)

So...I bring you fresh pea soup. Or frozen pea soup. Whatever you can find. It's super quick and easy and meets my stupid diet requirements. Typically fresh pea soup is coupled with mint but I found a recipe from The NY Times that suggested tarragon which I thought was a nice alternative. It's delish. I think I'll save the mint for all of the mojitos that I'm going to make once this is all over!


Summer Pea Soup
Adapted from Bon Appétit

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
6 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 6 pounds pods) or 1 (16-ounce) bag of frozen peas, thawed
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon kosher salt, 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 6-8 minutes. Add 2 cups broth and bring to a boil. Add the peas, reduce the heat, and simmer gently until tender, about 5 minutes for fresh peas, about 2 minutes for frozen.

2. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the tarragon and remaining 1-2 cups broth to pot, if desired. (Add any additional broth according to your desired consistency.) Purée the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm or chilled. Serves 4 - 6.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Curds and Whey (aka My New Band Name)


Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey…ummmm…yeah. That's very descriptive but not especially appealing. However, in the midst of my first attempt at making homemade ricotta, I immediately thought of little Miss Muffet. The thing is, to make ricotta (which is totes easy!) you are intentionally making curds and whey by heating milk, adding lemon juice to curdle it, then straining. Whey is the liquid that remains after you strain the curdled milk. Sounds delicious, Miss Muffet! 

Actually, homemade ricotta is super delish. I've already eaten more than half of the batch that I made because it's at least 17 billion times better than almost any other ricotta you'll buy in a little plastic tub! I'm guessing that little Miss was just eating a cottage cheese type of snack, but she for sure would have preferred this ricotta. Trust.


Fresh Ricotta

3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Pour the milk, cream and salt into a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190°F, stirring it occasionally to keep from scorching on the bottom. (You could also eyeball the temperature by waiting until the mixture begins to simmer, but hasn't yet come to a full boil.) Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir once, gently and slowly, then let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes to allow the curds to form.



2. Meanwhile line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Pour the milk mixture (curds and whey) into the colander and let the curds strain for at least 30 minutes, discarding the whey as necessary. At this point you'll have a soft, spreadable ricotta. If you continue to strain for up two hours, it will still be spreadable but a bit firmer. It will continue to firm as it cools. 


3. Discard the whey (unless you want to save it for other purposes). Use the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate (up to 4 days) until ready to use. Serve with pasta or with toasted baguette drizzled with honey or olive oil or both. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Let Them Eat Cake


It's a gorgeous Easter Sunday in NYC and I still have yet to find an abundance of spring veggies. Maybe I'm not shopping at the right places? Fine. Who needs vegetables anyway? Let's forget healthy living for a minute and just bake! 

I decided to make a dessert using only ingredients that I already had on hand, but didn't want it to be super boring looking. Hellooo, 1950s! I unearthed my bundt pan (that I've had for years but never used) to put to use for the first time.  If you don't have a bundt pan, you could swap in 2 regular (8-inch) cake pans or 1 (9x13) baking pan, but just check for doneness earlier in the baking process.

This is a very simple cake recipe, but I recommend using a stand mixer if you can. (There's no reason to exert yourself!) The cake is light in texture and sweetness so is perfect as a spring dessert. Or for breakfast. Or lunch. Or tea time. Or Mad Men viewing. You get the picture. Having a hard time hanging with the relatives? Forgot to file your taxes? Just eat cake! 



Lemon Bundt Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Cake
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

Glaze
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10" tube pan, or a 9" to 10", 9- to 10-cup capacity bundt-style pan.

2. Beat together the butter, sugar, and salt, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Add the baking powder, then add the flour alternating with the milk, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until smooth. Stir in the grated lemon zest.

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

5. While the cake is baking, make the glaze by stirring together the lemon juice and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

6. Remove the cake from the oven, and set it on a rack. After 5 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen, and turn the cake out onto a rack.

7. Poke the hot cake all over with a cake tester or toothpick. Stir the glaze to combine, and immediately brush it on the hot cake. Let it sink in, then brush on more glaze, continuing until all the glaze is used up. Allow the cake to cool before slicing. Serves 16.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Going Green


Tomorrow is already April 1st. I pity the fool! Isn't it time for fava beans and morels and garlic scapes and peas?? Well, I haven't seen much in the way of spring veg. In fact, my little local farmers market (apostrophe optional...discuss) has yet to open for the season. It's quite small so they wisely avoid the coldest months and in December, pass the torch to the French Canadians who sell some pretty great looking (and smelling) Christmas trees. No one else wants their space from January to April, I guess, as all that is usually for sale (on the ground) are some VERY used paperbacks. But I confess. I digress. (I'm a poet and I didn't even know it!)


While hoping for some new veggies to finally inspire me to mix things up, I found the most GINORMOUS bushels of parsley at Whole Foods. WTF? Kinda weird, right? Number 1: Are they on steroids? Number 2: When you use parsley, don't you need, like, a chopped tablespoon at most? What does one do with all the rest? Well, I searched for the answer and found a parsley pesto that requires a bit more parsley than a garnish, but you'd really have to double or triple the recipe (and make some tabouli) to use all of the parsley that I had. And as much as you might prefer a basil pesto, which is pretty fabulous, this is super tasty. And, I know that this is totally off topic but…the Mad Men final season starts soon!!


Walnut-Parsley Pesto Pasta
Adapted from Food & Wine

1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley with thick stems removed
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 pound cut pasta
1 tablespoon butter


1. In a food processor or blender, pulse the walnuts, parsley, garlic, Parmesan, oil, salt, and pepper to a coarse puree.

2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until just done. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Toss the pasta with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, the walnut pesto, and the butter. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan and pass more at the table. Serves 4 - 6.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pantry Pasta


What do you make when your fridge breaks down and you leave town for a week? Nothing. You order in, duh. Or you make the most random pasta ever.

Raw onions can be polarizing, but caramelized onions are ah-maz-ing. Add them to sandwiches, salads, dips, pizza, eggs...Why not make them the main ingredient in a pasta? There's no reason not to. Unless it happens to be the first day of spring and you can actually find something green!


Caramelized Onion Pantry Pasta

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pasta 
Toasted pine nuts
Parmesan Cheese

1. Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally to loosen any onions that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan, until the onions are deep golden brown, about 30 minutes more.  

2. Meanwhile, cook your preferred pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to the skillet, along with a few tablespoons of pasta cooking liquid, and toss with the onions to coat. Add more butter if desired, season to taste, and serve with toasted pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.