Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve!

Like St. Patrick's Day, New Year's Eve can be (and generally is) amateur hour, best to be avoided...UNLESS you have amazingly fabulous friends (and bloggers) Wendy and Jen to study up with the night before! Have a great night and a spectacular new year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Plague a' Both Your Houses!

I think Mercutio plagued my tart. Look at the pock marks! How dare he. What did I ever do to him? I didn't even know Romeo.

The recipe I used instructed me to whisk eggs, then whisk in a caramel cream, then whisk in a chocolate mixture. All of that whisking created a million air pockets! Attention pastry chefs: What can I do differently the next time to create a smoother filling, aside from making an entirely different ganache filling that isn't baked? Maybe buying a tart at a bakery?

Monday, December 28, 2009

All Mixed Up

Am I the only one still holding onto old mix tapes? (And by tapes, I mean cassettes.) I've tried to replicate them by creating identical playlists in iTunes, but the perfect recordings and smooth segues lack that perfectly amateur quality of songs getting cut off and the clunking sound of the recorder buttons being pressed.

I have a cassette copy of The Cure's Mixed Up and I think that an iTunes purchase would be acceptable (in my own mind) because my cassette shockingly isn't a recording of a recording of a recording. In honor of my purchase (and because I can think of no other transition) I've whipped up a pile of toasted mixed nuts to snack on. That, and I have to study for my wine exam and need sustenance.

Making any kind of spiced nut mixture generally requires using some melted butter or oil mixed in with sugar and spices. This recipe uses an egg white to distribute the seasonings so you don't even have to add any additional fat. So they're kind of low a mixed up sort of way.

Spiced Mixed Up Nuts

(Adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook)

1 large egg white
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups pecan halves, cashews, walnuts, almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 300˚F. In a large bowl, beat the egg white until foamy. Combine all the remaining ingredients, except the nuts, and whisk into the egg white. Stir in the nuts until well coated. Spread the mixture in single layer on an ungreased baking pan.

2. Bake the nuts for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Using a metal spatula, toss, stir, and separate nuts. Reduce the heat to 250˚F and return the nuts to bake until medium brown, about 10 minutes more.

3. Remove the nuts from the oven. Toss and stir again. Place the baking pan on wire rack to cool (they will crisp as they cool). Break up any nuts that stick together. Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Feeling Salty

Sea salt clockwise from top right: Bamboo Jade/Hawaii, Black Lava/Hawaii, Grey/Bay of Bengal, Basic Mill Grind

Need a last minute gift idea for your foodie friend? Get thee to your local gourmet food store and pick up a variety of sea salts. Like a fine bottle of wine the color and flavor suggests the salt's terroir (or maybe mer-roir is more accurate?) Not all treats have to be sweet. They're pretty and unusual and not something a person would typically buy for themselves. I mean, have you ever?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Here's an oldie but a far as my cookie history goes anyway. You know how you grew up eating exactly the same holiday spritz or rugelach or sugar cookie or...whatever, year after year? This was one of my family's standards. I don't know it's origins (Google says it's a Dutch holiday treat, which makes sense since I grew up outside of Holland, MI which really couldn't get any more Dutch on this side of the pond) but it's really tasty, especially with a cuppa tea. And by the way...when you are pressing out the dough and you think it won't cover any more of the pan...try a little harder.


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, divided
2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup pecans, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 300˚F. In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk; beat well. Slowly add the flour and cinnamon and mix well.

2. Divide the dough in half and pat evenly into two 10 x 15-inch (jelly roll) baking pans. The dough will be spread very thin. Brush the remaining egg white on top of the dough and then sprinkle with the nuts. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven but do not allow to cool. Cut into squares immediately and remove from pan while still warm.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Treats Week

I discovered something this weekend. I am not a candy maker! I tried to make a chocolate salted caramel recipe. Burned. Took me 12 hours to get the blackened chocolate caramel carbon off my pot. (FYI: If you ever think that your pot is beyond help, cover your pan with baking soda, add a couple dashes of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, a drop of dish soap, and then cover with about 2 inches of water. Boil, watching that the foam created doesn't bubble over. I did this about 3 times and the blackened residue finally loosened and I was able to scrape it away.)

I turned my attention to toffee. Burned that too! (Check out the color of the burned toffee below). I blame it all on my candy thermometer. I had never used one before so figured that all I had to do was watch the numbers on the thermometer and I'd be fine. That's all good if your thermometer works! I should have just been watching what I was doing and I would NOT have ruined two batches of candy. Instead I watched as the color went beyond what it should have, all because the thermometer wasn't registering the temperature accurately. (And my apartment now smells like a burnt marshmallow at a campfire!) I think that the thermometer wasn't fully submerged in the toffee goo. Hey, I was just worried about it touching the bottom of the pot and registering too hot. Whatevs. I finally managed to salvage a little pride with my second batch.

Burnt Toffee

I'm planning to make a little something sweet every day this week, hopefully without any more mishaps. But then again, learning from my mistakes will help make my recipes fool proof. I know that I always talk about how much I love dark chocolate. "Milk chocolate is too sweet. Hard candy is too sweet." Blah blah blah. But toffee is one of those sweets that I can not stop eating. Bundle this toffee in a cool box with a groovy bow and you'll have plenty of gifts to give. But please do not make this and give it to me because I will eat it all in one sitting. But then again, I would really appreciate it.

Almond Toffee
(Adapted from Family Circle)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cup chopped almonds, plus 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds for garnish
12 ounces milk chocolate chips (or 12 ounces chocolate bars, chopped)

1. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick foil or regular foil coated with a nonstick spray or softened butter. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir together until the butter is completely melted. Increase the heat to medium-high and insert a candy thermometer.

2. Cook the mixture, without stirring, until golden brown and the temperature reaches 300˚F, about 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the thermometer. Carefully stir in the 1 cup of chopped almonds.

3. Quickly pour the toffee into the prepared pan and spread to the edges. Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

4. Melt half of the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Spread evenly over the top of the cooled toffee. Sprinkle with half of the finely chopped almonds. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

5. Once firm, flip the entire bar over onto a sheet of waxed paper. Remove the foil. Melt the remaining chocolate and stir until smooth. Spread over the second side of the toffee bar and sprinkle with the remaining finely chopped almonds. Using the waxed paper, slide the toffee bar back into the baking pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes more.

6. Once the chocolate is firm, break the bar into pieces. Store in an airtight container, preferably in the refrigerator, for up to 3 weeks. Makes about 2 pounds of toffee.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Jolt

Is it iced coffee weather? I don't know, but it's definitely Pocket Coffee weather! Ohhh, yeah. Now that it's finally cold enough to ship these delicious confections, I made the trek to Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market to make my annual purchase. They're the best! So if you are still looking for a little holiday gift to give your kid's teacher, your personal trainer (ha! you know that all they want is cash), or that pesky postal worker who leaves holiday notes in your mail box obviously soliciting you for, oh, I don't know, a holiday ($) gift? For doing their job? Buy them Pocket Coffee! Or buy them for me. I need to stock up for the summer.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Japanese Coffee

I didn't start drinking coffee until I was a junior in college, studying abroad in Italy. Once I had my first cappuccino (and espresso), I got it. When I came back home, I stopped altogether. Obvs! I mean, how could I drink the crap served in American restaurants when I had just had the elixir of the gods? Since then I have had an on-again off-again relationship with coffee. I still really like it, but drink much less than I used to because it triggered headaches for me. (Yes, the coffee triggered them, not the withdrawl.) I once went cold turkey and my headaches went away entirely. Now I try to drink decaf or just wait until I can get a really good cup of coffee and take my chances. That's why I was excited to get the...

What is the Dripper V60 you ask? (Watch this video!) It's apparently the only way to make proper coffee in Japan. (Wait. They drink coffee in Japan?) My friend Sonja brought back my very own V60 drip coffee vessel from Tokyo and I just tried it out. Sadly I realized that I probably didn't do it exactly right after comparing my experience to the numerous You Tube videos
available for reference. (Should have checked those out first!) I had a hard time pouring the boiling water, taking pictures, not causing 3rd degree burns on my person, yet still trying to get the coffee to do the right make it "bloom!"

Aside from not having a kettle with the perfect spout, I also think that my grounds were not quite the right texture. Need to work on that. My cup of coffee was still delicious though! I actually turned it into a latte, so that might not be exactly proper, but it was fabulous. If anyone has any tips, please feel free to share. I am going to try to perfect my technique over the holidays and I think I need all the help I can get!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I'd like to sincerely thank all of you who endured the grueling sign-in process in order to vote for me in the Bon Appétit food blogger recipe contest! I realize that it was a pain in the neck, so I don't begrudge any of you who, upon actually seeing the lengthy process, decided to enjoy a cocktail while reading Perez Hilton instead. It's all good. In the future I will try to vet the voting process and only enter contests with painless one-click voting procedures. I haven't heard any results yet, but will keep you posted if I am a finalist and need to make good on few lemon tarts. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the following recipe and accompanying photos. I tried to figure out how to implement a scratch-and-sniff application, but unfortunately I'm not that technically savvy.

These cinnamon rolls kick Cinnabon's...buns! And they will be the perfect recipe to make over the holidays when you have a bunch of extra family and friends to feed, or, you just feel like you haven't ingested enough calories between the holiday parties, office sweets, and eggnog. (Does anyone actually drink that?) Whatever. Everyone will be impressed by your skills,
unless they think the rolls came from a tube, or the mall. Then you'll have to sing your own praises.

Iced Cinnamon Rolls
(from The New Best Recipe/Cook's Illustrated)

1/2 cup milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 - 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. For the Dough: Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside until the mixture is lukewarm (about 100˚F).

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddles, mix together the water, yeast, sugar, egg, and yolks at low speed until well mixed. Add the salt, warm milk mixture, and 2 cups of the flour and mix at medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook, add another 2 cups of the flour, and knead at medium speed (adding up to 1/4 cup more flour 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary) until the dough is smooth and freely clears the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a round, place it in a very lightly oiled large bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm, draft free spot until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

3. For the icing: While the dough rises, combine all of the icing ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer and blend together at low speed until roughly combined, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and mix until the icing is uniformly smooth and free of cream cheese lumps, about 2 minutes. Transfer the icing to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

4. To roll and fill the dough: After the dough has doubled in bulk, press it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, shape the dough into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle, with a long side facing you. Mix together the filling ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the far edge (see photo #1 in photo quad below). Roll the dough beginning with the long edge closest to you and use both hands to pinch the dough with your fingertips as you roll. Moisten the top border with water and seal the roll. Lightly dust the roll with flour and press on the ends if necessary to make a 16-inch cylinder. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Cut the roll into 12 equal pieces using dental floss (preferrably not mint flavored-see photo 2) or a thin sharp knife and place the rolls cut side up in the prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free spot until doubled in bulk (see photos 3 and 4 for comparison).

5. To bake the rolls: When the rolls are almost fully risen, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350˚F. Bake the rolls until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes (an instant read thermometer should reach 185-188˚F, but I managed without using one). Invert the rolls onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes. (Be careful if you do this! I nearly burnt my hand and almost dropped my heavy baking dish, rolls and all, on the floor.) Turn the rolls upright on a large serving plate and use a spatula to spread the icing on them. Serve immediately!

Note: If you think you might not be able to eat all of the rolls at once (and I don't mean all in one sitting) only ice the rolls you plan to serve immediately. Place the remaining icing in the refrigerator and thoroughly wrap the un-iced rolls in plastic wrap and reserve until the next day. Reheat the un-iced rolls in a 350˚ oven until warm (8 - 10 minutes) and top the warm rolls with the reserved icing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Vote for Me!

Please! I never enter (and therefore never win) anything! And it's not that hard to do. (Well, it kind of is...mostly because it takes 2 - 3 minutes to do vs. the 30 seconds I've generally spent voting for bloggers in other contests.)

The Dirt: I've entered Bon Appétit's Blog Envy Bake Off. Since I only found out about it 3 days ago and voting ends on Sunday, I had to go with a holiday recipe already posted on my blog, the Meyer Lemon Curd Tart pictured below. (Trust me. It's exceptional.) Although it's not my original recipe it doesn't happen to matter for this particular contest. (I did provide credit to the book and author.) And I unfortunately don't have the time to bake, photograph, blog about, and submit my favorite holiday cookie recipe (that I could call my own) before the deadline this weekend. The deadline! You need to vote now!

Voting With Ease
: Once you click on this link to the contest, click on "vote here" or "cast your vote" (you will have to register first). The next page will provide an opportunity to vote for cake recipes. Feel free to place a vote, but if you're strapped for time, skip it and scroll to the bottom and click "vote on the next batch." Do this 3 more times until you reach the pie/tart/pastry page where my lemon tart photo resides and then click on it. A green check mark will appear. WAIT! YOU'RE NOT DONE! Click on "vote on the next batch" at the bottom of the page and then, on the following page (miscellaneous) you will not be finished until you click, "Finished? Submit your survey." Do that and I will be forever grateful. I will be even more grateful if you tell your friends to do the same!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Real Men Eat Quiche

If it's made with bacon. And creme fraiche if you're my friend, Chad.

Since quiche is so easy to make, it's a great option for holiday breakfasts (or lunches) for unexpected (or expected) guests and, no, you don't have to make your own crust. If you do purchase a pie shell, do look for one that isn't made with hydrogenated oils. Then, just use my recipe as a guide and freestyle with your favorite ingredients which, if you're my friend, I assume includes bacon. But you can make vegetarian versions too. I guess. But I'm not sure if real men eat vegetarian quiche. You'll have to figure that out for yourself.

Bacon and Leek Quiche

8 ounces (about 8 slices) bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
2 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1 (9-inch) pie shell (store bought or homemade dough that has been blind baked)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain the bacon, leaving 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan, and transfer the cooked bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Add the leek, thyme, salt, and white pepper to the skillet, and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cream, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Spread the cheese, cooked bacon and leeks evenly over the bottom of the pie shell. Pour the egg mixture into the pie shell and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through for even baking, until light golden brown. Transfer the quiche to a rack to cool. Serves 6 - 8.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lemony Fresh

If you are looking for a refreshing dessert recipe to make over the holiday season, look no further than this Meyer Lemon Tart recipe. Not every dessert made from November - January has to be a gingerbready-appley-cinnamony confection.

Meyer lemons, a slightly sweet, thin-skinned citrus that taste like a cross between a lemon and a tangerine, are in season from November to March. Check them out! Try them in drinks or in sweet or savory recipes.

I love lemon tarts and this recipe from The Sweet Life doesn't disappoint. It's like a little taste of the Mediterranean in the middle of the winter. I might have accidentally made the wrong dough, and might have had to start all over again with the correct recipe, but that just means that I'll have some tart crust dough waiting for me in the freezer for the next time I need to make a last minute tart.
Because that happens all the time.

Meyer Lemon Curd Tart
(from The Sweet Life by Kate Zuckerman)

One 8-inch prepared sweet tart shell (see recipe below)*
6 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup strained Meyer Lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
Zest of 1 Meyer Lemon
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Make the Lemon Curd
1. In the top bowl of a double boiler (or bain-marie), whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg, and sugar. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk briskly until the mixture has thickened, doubled in volume and holds the lines of a whisk, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Remove the curd from the heat and pass through a fine mesh strained into ta bowl. Discard the zest. Place the bowl in an ice bath and let cool until just warm to the touch. Thoroughly whisk in the butter. At this point you can chill or bake the lemon curd.

Bake the Lemon Tart
1. Preheat the oven the 325˚F. Pour the lemon curd into the prepared tart shell*. Place the tart on a cookie sheet and bake until the custard sets, 10 - 15 minutes. Test by gently tapping the tart ring. If the center does not jiggle, the tart is set. If the lemon curd has been refrigerated, the tart will need a few extra minutes to set.

Sweet Tart Shell*
Recipe makes 2 (8 to 9-inch) blind baked tart shells

16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
Zest of 1 lemon or tangerine (optional)
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make the Sweet Tart Shell
1. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar and lemon zest (if using) and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes fluffy and almost white in color, about 6 - 8 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg yolks one at a time, and continue to beat until they are fully incorporated and the batter looks smooth and glossy, 1 -2 minutes.

2. In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients and add them all at once to the butter mixture. Use a rubber spatula and fold the dry mixture into the butter mixture with a few turns before turning on the mixer. Mix the dough at slow speed until thoroughly combined, 1 - 2 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and mix on slow speed for another 30 seconds.

3. Separate the dough into two mounds. Wrap each mound in plastic wrap and press down to form 2 (1-inch) disks. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

4. On a cool dry counter surface, roll one mound of dough into a 1/8-inch thick circle. Line the tart pan with the dough and freeze the tart shell for 1/2 hour. Reserve the remaining dough for another use.
(The dough, well wrapped, can be frozen for up to one month.)

5. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Remove the shell from the freezer, line it with parchment paper, aluminum foil and fill it with the pie weights or dried beans. Transfer the shell to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Take out the liner and weights and place the shell back in the oven. Bake until golden brown, 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's Alive!

I apologize for my recent blogging lameness, but I'm finally off the couch! Yippee! I can actually breathe. Oh, and before I forget, now that I've actually been walking outside in the umbrellas should be outlawed in NYC!!! How is it OK to walk down a sidewalk with a gigantic (potential) guillotine?!? It's so rude. We should all have to wear rain hats alla Paddington Bear. This chick looks pretty chic, no?

Whatever. It will never happen so I'll just have to accept being stabbed by people lacking in self awareness. And since I've been living off of soup and tea for the last week, I'll need some protein in order to refrain from grabbing those umbrellas and beating the owners over the head with them. (Golf umbrellas belong ON THE GOLF COURSE!) Fortunately my freezer is teaming with forgotten items like the two thick cut pork chops I found hidden beneath a whole bundt cake.

Saltimbocca (which when translated literally means "jumps in the mouth") is traditionally made with veal. But these days, because veal is so un-PC, it will often be made with chicken or pork. Typically the main protein would be wrapped in the prosciutto (and occasionally cheese) and topped with the sage, but I found a recipe for a stuffed version while combing through my files that would be great with these thick chops. What's better than pork wrapped (or stuffed) with pork? And if it's still raining later, maybe I'll throw the leftover pork rib bones at the giant umbrella toting morons.

Pork Chops Saltimbocca with Sauteed Spinach
(Adapted from

2 (1-inch-thick) center-cut rib pork chops
2 sage leaves, chopped
2 thin slices Fontina
2 thin slices prosciutto (1 ounce)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 (10-ounce) bag fresh spinach
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut a deep, wide pocket in each pork chop. Sprinkle half of sage into each pocket and then stuff with the cheese and prosciutto. Season the chops all over with 1/4 teaspoon of each salt and pepper.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook the chops until the undersides are golden, about 2 minutes, then turn the chops over and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

3. While the chops cook, heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. Transfer the spinach and the chops to a platter.

4. Add the butter and lemon juice to the hot skillet that held the chops, stirring and scraping up the brown bits, then pour the sauce over the pork. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chicken Soup for the Cold

Dude. This cold WILL NOT go away. First it's a sore throat. Then it's congestion. Then it's sinus pain. Then it's coughing. Then I lose my voice. Well, most of it. I'm screeching. Go away already, cold! You already ruined my mini-break, now don't ruin my wine class too! How will I smell or taste anything?

Since I've been under the weather but not entirely bedridden, I've managed to see three movies (Precious, An Education, Broken Embraces - I recommend them all!) in addition to loads of bad TV. I've also consumed more tea in the last week than I have all year. Why is it that cold drinks just don't cut it when you have a cold? Anyway, I decided that I had to make homemade chicken soup in my last ditch effort to feel better for my fabulous Monday back at work after a week off.

Since I was still missing actual chicken for my chicken soup, I roasted up another bird. (Had I posted this sooner it might have proved a useful way to use up your turkey leftovers.) Part of it was dinner, the soup. And I didn't really care for the pasta shapes that were lurking in my cupboard, so I went with some wild rice that I had kicking around. This is a very basic chicken soup, which is all I want when I'm not feeling well. Feel free to add a little of this or that according to your taste. I haven't sneezed in about 4 hours so I think I'm on the mend.

Chicken Soup with Wild Rice

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup wild rice
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
8 cups homemade chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and chicken, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and simmer until the rice is fully cooked, 15 - 20 minutes.

2. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in the parsley and serve. Makes about 6 servings.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Feed a Cold?

Or is it starve a cold? I can never remember. In any event I went to bed last night with a sore throat that only got worse through the night, feeling super achy just to top it all off. Oh, and my annoying upstairs neighbor decided that midnight was the time to break out his nonexistent karaoke skills. I think the correct term is caterwauling. It did NOT make me feel any better. I have to work on enacting my perfect revenge...

This morning I still felt like crap so started downing cup after cup of hot tea and honey. It's amazing how much better that works than just drinking water. Hydration + sedation = tea. It helped, but was it going to be enough to keep whatever it was at bay? (H1N1? Maybe? But I've been using hand sanitizer after the gym and the subway!)

I thought about what I should try to eat and soup seemed the perfect choice. I almost had everything I needed to make a homemade chicken soup but soon realized that the only chicken I had was over a week old and I didn't need to add food poisoning to my list of illnesses. I did have everything to make a spicy curry soup (which first appeared in The Ski House Cookbook) so I got off the couch and went to work.

This soup cooks up really fast which is a benefit to using lentils over other beans. And since I was needing extra relief from whatever was ailing me, I added extra spices in hopes that it would somehow knock my so-called illness out of my head. I have to say, it really helped. I actually managed to shower to meet some friends at the movies and I'm feeling quite a bit better. Although I'm still drinking tea and taking vitamin C and zinc, I'm hopeful that, unlike after midterms in college, I will not be home bound and unable to get out of bed. I've got pies to bake. And eat!

Curried Red Lentil Soup

1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more)
2 celery ribs, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 - 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (depending on your preference)

1. Rinse the lentils and place them in a large pot with the broth and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and add the onion and cayenne. Cook until the onions are soft, about 5 - 6 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, garlic, cumin, curry powder, and salt and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vegetable mixture to the simmering lentils and cook for 25 - 30 minutes.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately. Serves about 6.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Since I still had some pumpkin puree leftover from my pumpkin pasta sauce, I decided that a quick and easy way to use it up would be to make some pumpkin pancakes. They would also make a great breakfast to have the day after Thanksgiving when you wake up starving because you went to bed so full (just me?). And it's at least a little more interesting than screaming, "Breakfast!" and then handing a box of cereal to your house guests. Plus, you'll need the extra energy for Black Friday (and your relatives). I sprinkled a few walnuts on top but I think that chopped pecans would be a great addition to the batter, if you're a nut person. Sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don't.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for cooking
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pure maple syrup, for serving

1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl whisk together the milk, pumpkin, butter, egg, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. (The batter will be thick.)

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto the skillet for each pancake. Cook about 3 minutes per side. Add more butter to the pan as needed to cook the remaining pancakes. Serve with butter and warm maple syrup. Makes 8 to 10 medium pancakes.