One week until my macaron class on Sunday, February 22nd from 10:30 am-1:30 pm. Lemon shells with Meyer Lemon Mascarpone filling, Hazelnut shells with Salted Caramel, and Raspberry shells with Ganache. There are three seats left, and you can register here: https://eatfeastly.com/meals/d/19201928/
No matter how hard I try to live in a Gluten-Lover's Paradise, I keep running into people who have removed gluten from their diets. Hell, even my CAT has gone gluten-free! (True story- she kept scratching ouchies all over her neck and back, and I consulted the internets rather than spending $400 at a vet for them to tell me she was allergic to something but they didn't know what. Deciding the likely culprit was a food allergy, I switched her to a food containing only peas and turkey, and now her skin is all better and I hope she will live happily after. Until I can no longer afford to buy expensive food for her. :-P)
But I digress; back to gluten-adverse humans... After I'm done feeling sorry for them, I start feeling sorry that they can't eat the cookie or cake that I just made. Which then leads me to pull out the bag of Trader Joe's GF all-purpose flour and substitute it in a tried-and-true recipe. This is what I did last week when I wanted to take cookies to my writing class and I knew my instructor was gluten-avoidant; I dusted off the old thumbprint cookie recipe and switched out jam for what I recently canned eleventy-thousand jars of: marmalade!! Specifically, Blood Orange, Meyer Lemon, and Three-Citrus Marmalades. I thought these cookies were equally good with either the blood orange or the meyer lemon, but the orange marmalade is what made it into the photographs. Last week, I pulled them out of the oven, carefully transplanted them to a container, hurriedly found a car 2 go around the corner from my building, and drove like a crazy person (with a fragile cookie cargo) because I was already late to class. I think they forgave me after devouring over a dozen still-warm cookies, almond-y crumbs and powdered sugar on their lips.
1 cup (5 oz) Gluten Free all purpose flour, such as Trader Joes brand or Bob’s Red Mill GF 1-for-1 Baking Mix (but DON'T use their GF flour blend with the garbanzo and fava bean flours in it, unless you love bean cookies)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup finely ground almond flour/meal (2 ounces, I prefer using blanched almond flour)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Blood Orange (or other favorite citrus) Marmalade
Preheat to 325°F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper. Whisk GF all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Beat in 1/2 cup finely ground almond meal and the vanilla. Beat in flour mixture until just combined.
Shape large tablespoonfuls of the dough into round balls (or if you're a perfectionist like me, weigh 0.6 oz of dough to ensure identically-sized cookies). Place the rounds on your baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Using your mega-sized thumb, poke a deep hole in each dough ball. If the edges of the cookie come apart, press them back together as much as possible so your filling won’t leak out of the center. Fill each indentation with 1 rounded teaspoon of marmalade. Bake cookies until light golden brown around edges, about 15-18 minutes, switching the pans front to back and top to bottom so both sheets of cookies bake evenly. Cool on baking sheet before removing. Sift powdered sugar lightly over the tops of the cookies. Makes about 22 thumbprint cookies.
I feel like this is cheating, because I don't have a recipe for you so much as a general explanation. I like explanations. I also like announcements. Which is good, because I have one. I will tell you after the 'recipe'. Or you know, you could just read the title and figure it out. ......Ok fine, I'll tell you! A very nice reader (other than my mom, hi mom!) requested that I teach another macaron class, and since she asked so kindly, I decided I couldn't keep the masses (?) waiting much longer. If you are in Portland and would like to come to my next macaron class on February 22nd, click on this link and sign up!
So now for the citrus salad:
1. Choose two each of your favorite citrus fruits, unless it's a grapefruit, and then just use one. Unless you reaaaalllly like grapefruit, and then knock yourself out. I used two blood oranges, two tangelos, and one ruby red grapefruit. This was enough for four servings at a brunch, where I needed something healthy to make up for the fact I was serving homemade kouign amann, which is in the laminated dough family, or maybe it's the illegitimate offspring of buttery pastry and caramelized sugar, with a sprinkling of sea salt on top. Something like that.
2. Peel all of your citrus, trying to get as much of the white pith off as possible. Then slice the fruits into rounds (Be careful when you get to the ends and don't cut your finger off please. Grapefruit juice would really sting.)
3. Arrange the slices on a platter or individual plates. If desired, sprinkle with some toasted pistachios. And if you really want to be frou-frou, drizzle on some roasted pistachio oil, like the kind I found at Trader Joes.
4. Eat. If you happen to spill buttery shards of pastry on top, that tastes good too.
I love pomegranate seeds. They're like little bursts of tart-crunch goodness in your mouth. They appear just before Thanksgiving and then disappear some time around Valentines Day. They are equally at home in sweet applications as they are in savory. Don't believe me? Try sprinkling some on a nice spring mix with some candied nuts and perhaps a goat cheese and some apple slices with a pomegranate vinaigrette, and you'll know I'm right.
Pomegranate-Chocolate Cupcake (makes 32 cupcakes)
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup pomegranate juice
¼ cup pomegranate molasses
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I substituted 1 Tbsp of pomegranate liqueur and 2 tsp of vanilla)
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with 32 paper liners.
2. Whisk the pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses into the cocoa powder until dissolved.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4. Melt the butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl.
5. With an electric mixer or stand mixer/bowl on medium-low speed, beat until the mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes.
6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition to make sure they are well incorporated.
7. Add the vanilla and the cocoa/pomegranate mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low.
8. Add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.
9. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.
10. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Let the pans cool 15 minutes, then turn out the cupcakes onto wire cooling racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
Pomegranate Buttercream (makes enough to frost 32 cupcakes)
(go here for the basic Swiss buttercream recipe, with excellent step by step photos and instructions)
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 pound soft unsalted butter
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses, or more to taste
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
2-4 drops red/pink gel food coloring, to reach desired pink color
pomegranate seeds, for topping the frosted cupcakes
Follow the above link for instructions on how to make a Swiss buttercream, and then to make it Pomegranate flavored:
Add the pomegranate molasses, pomegranate juice, and then the drops of food coloring to reach desired tartness and color.
Using your favorite piping tip, frost each cupcake, then sprinkle a few pomegranate seeds on top of each cupcake.
I think Madeleines have an unfair reputation of being difficult to make. Maybe it's the shape? Maybe it's assumed that because it's French, it must be finnicky? I can assure you that aside from needing 2 Madeleine baking tins (which you can bake other stuff in, like individual brownies), they really aren't hard; if you can measure flour and sugar (preferably in grams, for accuracy) and you know how to melt butter and fold in ingredients with a spatula, you can make a madeleine. I came up with this flavor variation last week, tested it on my unsuspecting guinea pigs (aka my writing class, who devoured over a dozen), and then finally cranked out 3 batches in quick succession Saturday morning for a coffee social in my apartment building. Based on the fact that 68 Madeleines disappeared (and the girl in the navy and white striped pajama onesie admitted to putting four of them in her pockets as she was leaving), I think the tart cranberry-fresh orange zest combination is a winner.
Cranberry Orange Madeleines (makes 24)
3 large eggs
2/3 cup (130g) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (175g) cake flour
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder (such as Bob’s Red Mill or Rumford)
zest of 1 medium-large navel orange
9 tablespoons (120g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds
4.5 oz fresh cranberries
3/4 cup (150g) powdered sugar
3 tablespoon freshly-squeezed orange juice
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush the indentations of 2 madeleine molds with melted butter (don't skip this, or you might end up with madeleines stuck to the pans, and then you will be sad).
2. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
3. In the work bowl of your stand mixer, whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 5 minutes with the paddle attachment until pale yellow and thickened.
4. Fold in the orange zest and flour, followed by the melted butter. Don’t overmix!
5. Plop enough batter in the center of each indentation with enough batter to fill it by ¾ (I used a small ice cream/cookie scoop like this one that holds about a Tbsp of dough.
6. Divide the cranberries evenly among the two pans and lightly press into each madeleine.
7. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the cakes just feel set in the middle and are browning around the edges.
8. While the cakes are baking, make the glaze in a small mixing bowl by whisking together the powdered sugar and orange juice until smooth.
9. Remove the madeleines from the oven and tilt them out onto a cooling rack. The moment they’re cool enough to handle, dip each cake’s scalloped side in the orange glaze. After dipping, rest each one back on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up.
I’ve been searching a long time for a scone that is very tender and fluffy. Scones can easily become leaden hockey pucks if you add too much flour or mix the dough too long, or even let the butter get too warm while cutting it into the flour. I’ve tried sour cream, buttermilk, and regular milk, but sometimes you just gotta give in to the dark side and use real cream. Seriously, I know, why not just clog your arteries already and be done with it? Hey, at least this recipe only has 5 Tbsp of butter in it, and I made 16 medium-sized scones rather than 8 mammoth ones! Baby steps, right? Let’s face it though: cream has more milk-fat than any of the other dairy products I tried, so of course it’s going to produce the tenderest scone. That’s just how it goes. So pour the cream into your 1 cup liquid measuring cup and try not to freak out about how much cream that is. These scones just might be worth it.
2 cups (10 oz) pastry flour (lower-protein content than all-purpose flour, so it will produce a tender scone)
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
5 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (put it in the freezer for 30 minutes)
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced into ½ in pieces (about 5 oz of chopped apple)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp Boiled Cider (optional, but adds such a lovely deep apple flavor; I’d say splurge on it if you’re baking a lot of tasty apple desserts this fall) , purchased from King Arthur Flour online
1 additional Tbsp boiled cider for brushing on top prior to baking, but cream can be substituted for brushing the tops if you don’t go the cider route- this helps the tops brown).
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, salt) in the work bowl of a food processor. Mix them together with a few pulses.
3. Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse until the butter has broken up, with the texture resembling a coarse meal with some pebble-sized bits of butter still visible.
4. Dump the contents of the food processor out into a large mixing bowl.
5. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, combine the brown sugar, apple pieces, boiled cider and ground cinnamon together until the apple pieces are all evenly coated. Set aside while finishing the dough.
6. Add the heavy cream to the large bowl of flour-butter mixture, and stir with a large spoon just until the dough is all moistened and is starting to clump together. Don’t overmix, or your scones won’t be as tender.
7. Add in the apples and stir a few more times to bring the dough into a ball. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a circle 5 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Cut each circle into 8 wedges using a bench scraper or knife (bench scraper is easier), trying to make the wedges as close to the same size as each other as you can.
8. Place the scones on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet at least 2 inches from each other, as they rise and spread out quite a bit. I used 2 half sheet pans just in case they tried to morph into one giant scone blob.
9. Brush the tops of the scones with the optional 1 Tbsp boiled cider or cream.
10. Bake the scones for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.
Scones are best eaten the day they are made, but these still tasted pretty good the next day.
The carrots at the farmers market lately have been plump and multi-hued: pale orange, bright red-orange, yellow, purple. They're beautiful to look at, and scrumptious as always. This is a great soup for feeding the vegetarians in your life, for comforting oneself over a lost love (as this recipe has been to me in previous incarnations), or just because it's a rainy, windy fall Portland day and you're pissed that the sun went down at 4 pm and you need something to warm you up and remind you of brighter days to come.
Carrot Ginger Soup with Chile Butter and Peanuts
For the chile butter:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions (white and green parts only), or chives
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (I like to use Aleppo pepper, which is spiiiiiiicy!)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
For the soup:
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 1/4 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium-sized onion)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
5 cups (or more) vegetable broth or chicken broth (I used half of each)
6 tablespoons unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped
Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.
1.Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large pot over medium-high heat.
2.Add carrots, onion, garlic, and ginger; sprinkle with salt and sauté until vegetables are slightly softened but not brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
3.Add 5 cups broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
4.Carefully pour the hot soup into your blender and puree until smooth. Remember, when pureeing a hot liquid, always remove the round middle piece and cover with a towel, because blending hot liquid without venting off the steam supposedly can cause the blender to explode (and I don't want to test this to find out if it's true). Just hold the towel and lid firmly on the blender jar and you should be good to go.
5.Return soup to the same pot; if desired, add more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to thin soup. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
6.Ladle soup into bowls. Top with small spoonful of chile butter; sprinkle with nuts.
I should be ashamed of myself that I live but an hour from Hood River, and yet it took me nearly five years to explore the Fruit Loop. I know, I know! I guess I was trying to keep my u-pick addiction confined to the summer months, but now that the Apple and Pear Beast Within has been unleashed, there is no turning back. Over the weekend, my lovely friend Laura and a few of her work friends and I went to Kiyokawa Orchard. I had bought some Pink Pearl apples, a lovely tart pink-fleshed variety, from them at the PSU Farmer's market a few weeks back, and I really wanted more. Not to mention that they charge a lot less for the apples at their orchard than they do at the farmer's market, so it should be no surprise that not only did I get my Pink Pearl apples, I also bought 10 other kinds of apples and 4 kinds of pears. And also some cider. I will be eating apples for quite some time.... but I'm not bummed about that at all.
A German pancake, also known as a Dutch Baby, is normally cooked in a skillet. It has impressive poofing capabilities thanks to the amount of eggs in the batter, but it always deflates almost immediately after removing from the oven. But be not dismayed, because now it's practically the perfect vessel for a spiked apple sauce. I would describe the taste of a German pancake as Pancake Meets Crepe, Falls in Love, Gets Married, Has a Baby. Now take that baby and spoon it into muffin tins, and you'll end up with little individual German pancakes. How delightful!
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp table salt
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2-3 tart apples, such as Pink Pearl or Granny Smith, peeled, cored and diced (I used 3 because the apples were on the smaller side)
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup calvados (apple brandy)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Add the milk, sugar, vanilla, zest, butter and eggs to your blender jar and blend to combine. Add the flour and salt and blend until completely smooth, about 1 minute.
3. Pour the batter into the muffin tins until 3/4 full. Bake until puffy and golden brown (and delicious) on top, 18-20 minutes. Once you remove them from the oven, the centers will immediately start to deflate.
4. Make the Apple-Calvados Sauce: Melt the 1 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and cook until slightly softened (but not mushy,!) about 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the 1/3 cup brown sugar and the Calvados (apple brandy), and cook until the brandy has reduced by half, about 4 more minutes. Add the heavy cream.
5. Spoon the apple calvados sauce over the finished pancakes and serve immediately.
Makes 12 pancakes
I've been gone long enough that tomatoes and corn and zucchini have been firmly replaced by apples and pumpkins and pomegranates (already?!), and all three have been on high rotation in the Portlandivore kitchen, along with a plethora of seasonally-appropriate soups: carrot-ginger, potato-leek, butternut-sage. We have had mild weather so far in October, but the rainy season is about to kick us in the booty. In order to cope with this inevitable shift in weather and the resulting onset of Vitamin D deficiencies and Seasonal Affective Disorder, I recommend many a bowl of comforting soups and spiced baked goods. And also a Vitamin D supplement. (And maybe an anti-depressant too.)
I wasn't intending to take over a whole month off from the blog, but it just kind of happened. Don't worry though; nothing terrible occurred. In fact, my life is pretty great right now, but it's also pretty busy. Trying to juggle my job, a year-long writing program, semi-regularly updating a food blog and making sure my apartment isn't approaching Category V Tornado aftermath proportions, along with wanting to spend time with my lady friends and also the super-sweet, funny, supportive, handsome and talented Mr. M, not to mention I have an ever-demanding diva cat who will wake me up at 4 am if she is not sufficiently snuggled, is still a work in progress. However, with a bit of A++ time management skills (only recently acquired) and an extra day off from work, I think I've finally figured it out.
Since I am not a doctor nor a pharmacist, I can only assist with my first two recommendations. But you're in luck! Why not try this cream cheese-filled pumpkin muffin?
Makes 12 Muffins:
2 cups All-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp table salt
1½ tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Ground Ginger
½ tsp Ground Cloves
½ tsp Ground Allspice
1 cup pumpkin puree
⅓ cup vegetable oil
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup whole milk
3 Tbsp Trader Joes Pumpkin-Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, for sprinkling on top
Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick paper liners. Set aside.
2. Using a hand- or stand mixer and bowl, whip the 8 oz of cream cheese with the 2 Tbsp powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla using the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Set the cream cheese aside.
3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until thoroughly incorporated: flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
4. In a separate, large-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and granulated and brown sugars. Add the 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla, and mix until smooth.
5. Mix in half of the bowl of dry ingredients and the 1/4 cup of whole milk, and then add the remaining amount of the flour mixture. Whisk briefly just to combine (a few lumps won't hurt the batter, but stirring too much will make for a tough muffin). Don't over mix!
5. Fill the muffin liners 1/3 full of the muffin batter.
6. Using a 2 Tbsp scoop (the spring-loaded handle is quite useful here), divide rounded 2 tablespoon-full scoops of the cream cheese filling between all of the muffin tins. Press the cream cheese lightly into the batter.
7. Now spoon the remaining muffin batter over the cream cheese, spreading it out to completely enclose the filling. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds evenly over the muffins.
8. Bake the muffins at 350 until a toothpick inserted into the muffin part only comes out clean (because of course the cream cheese will be gooey), about 20 minutes.
9. Cool in the pan about 10 minutes before removing the muffins.
A good chunk of each summer when I was a kid was spent at my grandparents' house in Bryson City, NC. Every day was pretty much the same: clean house, play cards, read a lot of books, beat up the younger cousins, occasionally go swimming at Deep Creek, and snap a lot of green beans. And eat tomatoes. They weren't fancy, multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, just plain old Big Beef and Better Boy, but in my childhood memories they were the most delicious tomatoes I have ever eaten in my life. They didn't even need basil or fresh mozzarella and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P., just salt and pepper.
Fast forward to now, when tomatoes are coming out one's ears and ears of corn are coming out one's...tomatoes?. I admit to being drawn to the colorful heirloom tomatoes- and how could you not with names like Mr. Stripey or Green Zebra or Cherokee Chocolate?! They and the equally adorable multi-colored cherry tomatoes have been gracing the Portlandivore dinner menu more often than not these days- especially since it's been over 90 degrees most days since early July and the last thing I want to do after plopping on the couch in my un-airconditioned apartment after coming home from work is fire up the oven and bake eleventy things for dinner... All this salad really needs to make for a satisfying summer supper is a hunk of crusty bread for mopping up the vinaigrette and tomato-y goodness at the bottom of the bowl.
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
5 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
handful of fresh basil leaves (about 12)
freshly ground black pepper
large-flake sea salt
In a medium sized glass or non-reactive metal bowl, crush or bruise the basil leaves (this will bring out their flavor while they steep in the vinaigrette). Add the chopped shallots and garlic to the bowl, then pour over the red wine vinegar. Let sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature (60 minutes is even better) to soften the harsh bite of raw onion/garlic. Pick out the basil leaves, then whisk in the olive oil. I add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to the vinaigrette to finish.
This makes extra vinaigrette, which will keep for a week in the refrigerator and gives you a solid excuse to keep serving this salad to friends/boyfriends/yourself instead of cooking something for dinner.
2 large heirloom (or any other tasty variety, really) tomatoes
1/2 pint multi-colored cherry tomatoes
1 ear of fresh corn (I like the bi-color corn for sweetness and color)
small handful of basil leaves, sliced or cut with handy kitchen shears into thin ribbons
Thinly slice the large tomatoes into rounds of even thickness and arrange on a large platter (or split up evenly among 3-4 plates if you want to compose the salad for individual servings). Halve the cherry tomatoes, and sprinkle them over top the tomato slices. Cut the kernels off the ear of corn and sprinkle them over top of the tomatoes. Pour some of the vinaigrette over the salad, spooning out garlic and shallots evenly over the tomatoes. Finally, garnish the salad liberally with the ribbons of sliced basil. Please eat this with a hunk of tasty baguette, you'll thank me.
My parents had several fruit trees in our yard in Ohio when I was growing up. For some reason, the peach and apple trees couldn't hack it, but the sour cherry tree thrived for years. Every summer, we had to race the birds for the bright red orbs glimmering in the harsh July sunlight. People seem to love sweet Bing cherries, but I'm kind of siding with the birds on this one- they knew that sour Montmorency cherries were where it's at! I'm just saying, if robins could operate an oven and had opposable thumbs, they would have been baking cherry pies or cherry streusel muffins or freezing bag after bag of pitted cherries for the winter months when nary a delicious cherry can be found (and don't even mention that scary, gloppy substance known as 'cherry pie filling' that comes in a can....) But since the birds can't whip up a pound cake, it's up to me and you.
I don't know why, but the stands at the PSU Farmers market usually charge several more dollars a pound for sour (or commonly referred to as 'pie') cherries, to the tune of $6.00/lb for the whole, stem-on cherries. Uh, no thank you! I found the one stand selling them for $3.50/lb, but even so, the cherry season was pretty short this year due to the heat. Then I discovered a 2 lb bag of frozen Montmorency cherries at Sheridan's that will fulfill more of my cherry needs...that is, until I can convince my parents to plant a replacement cherry tree in their yard for me to harvest when I visit in the summer.
10 oz (2 cups) fresh or (thawed) frozen sour cherries, pitted and halved
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for marinating cherries
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 oz sour cream
the reserved juice from the strained cherries
1 additional cup of fresh or frozen pitted halved sour cherries
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease a mini bundt cake pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. (The recipe made 8 mini bundts for me, so if your pan only holds 6 bundt cakes, you'll need two pans; I just only greased the tins that I knew I would use.)
2. Combine the 10 oz of sour cherries with 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a medium sized bowl and stir until the sugar starts melting into the juice the cherries release. Let the fruit macerate while you mix the rest of your cake ingredients.
3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour and salt. Set aside while mixing the wet ingredients.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the 2 sticks butter and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and whip with the paddle attachment until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between each addition.
6. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
7. Strain the macerated cherries through a fine mesh strainer, pressing out as much liquid as you can without smashing up your fruit. Reserve the liquid for the glaze.
8. Remove the mixing bowl from the mixer and fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula, then fold in the strained cherries.
9. Divide the batter between the 8 mini bundt cake tins, then bake in the oven until golden brown and a wooden skewer poked through the cake comes out without any batter or wet crumbs clinging to it, about 40-45 minutes.
10. Once you've removed the cake from the oven, let it cool slightly while you make the glaze: pour the juice (about 3/4 cup) and the additional 1 cup of cherries into a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency.
11. Invert the mini bundt cakes out onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and slowly drizzle the glaze over the top of each cake. Spoon the cherry halves over the tops.
(Just fyi, going by the recipe, each mini bundt cake contains 2 Tbsp of butter, so you should probably serve at least 2 people from each baby bundt unless you don't care how much butter you consume on a daily basis.) The cakes keep well in the freezer, and also taste delicious still partially frozen.
Bologna is the kind of city in Italy that one visits not for ancient Roman ruins (there's a tiny bit), grandiose cathedrals (sure, they have churches just like every other town in Italy), or the longest portico in the world (actually, that was kind of cool), but for the food. I spent 5 days in Bologna 2 years ago, and most of the time was spent eating (and drinking!). Parma and Modena are both easy drives from Bologna, which you might recognize as the important producers, respectively, of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P., which is how our guide Alessandro referred to it every. single. time. he. talked. about. balsamic. vinegar. I also did a day long cooking class in Bologna, which is where I first had fried squash blossoms. They weren't even stuffed with anything, just a simple flour and club soda batter (with a small splash of brandy for extra flavor), then fried and sprinkled with salt. Sitting on a balcony in Italy on a breezy June evening as the sun set, sipping sparkling wine and chowing down on fried squash blossoms is kind of awesome, in case you were wondering. However, if you can't afford to do that on a regular basis (though I am almost out of my Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P. ....), try making them yourself at home. You could just pick up a few at the PSU Farmer's Market, or even better, if you have 827 zucchini in your garden right now, save yourself the heartache of having to sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor's porch and harvest the blossoms instead.
18 squash blossoms, brushed of dirt and/or stowaway bugs (you can wash them but they're fairly fragile so I wouldn't recommend it unless they're super dirty)
6 oz fromage blanc (or goat cheese)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
6 skinny scallions, finely chopped
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup seltzer water/club soda
optional splash of brandy
vegetable oil, for frying
1. Mix the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, scallions, and parsley. Add half of this mixture to the flour. To the remaining garlic-scallions-and-parsley, add the fromage blanc or goat cheese and stir until incorporated.
3. Carefully open the squash blossoms and spoon in a little of the cheese mixture, about a Tbsp's worth. Close the petals around the cheese filling and slightly twist the ends together to keep the cheese from leaking out later.
4. Heat a large, deep bottomed skillet or pot over medium heat and pour in 1/2 inch depth of vegetable oil. As always for proper frying technique- think crispy, not oily/soggy!!- have your handy-dandy infrared or regular kitchen thermometer nearby so you can periodically check for when the oil has reached the proper temperature.
5. Into the flour, pour the club soda and splash of Brandy, if using. Whisk until a thin batter is formed, about the consistency of a crepe batter.
6. Once your oil temperature has reached 375 degrees, start dipping the stuffed squash blossoms one at a time in the batter (this is why you should leave a bit of the stem attached, because it makes for a convenient handle), then carefully slip it into the hot oil. Add as many as will fit in your pan without touching/overcrowding. I was able to fry five at a time. Adjust the stovetop temperature as necessary to maintain the oil at 375 degrees.
7. Fry each blossom for about 90 seconds and then flip over, for a total of 3 minutes cooking time, or until each blossom is lightly golden brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack or a paper towel-lined plate to soak up any excess oil. Repeat with the remaining blossoms until finished. Once cool enough to try, eat one to see if it needs any more salt, and if so, lightly sprinkle the finished fried blossoms with kosher or sea salt.
8. You can serve plain or with some marinara sauce for dipping. Both ways are tasty!
I'm a firm believer that so many more things are a perfect delivery system for a runny egg than just toast; why limit yourself to breakfast when you can bite into a piece of brussel sprout bacon pizza with the egg on top, or stir it into a bowl of rice topped with all sorts of tasty concoctions?
Enter a ginormous supply of basil (it's not my fault, the farm stand had a buy 4 bunches get the 5th free special!), the need for a relatively quick but still homemade dinner, and this coffee-table cookbook of Thai Street food. I'm calling it a coffee table book because it's so large I have to keep it sideways on my bookshelf, and also I'm the only person I know who has successfully made recipes from this cookbook....by only using the recipe as a suggested template and changing the quantities to what works for me. If you know of my avowed dislike of all things gilled/finned/shelled, you might be surprised that I'm using fish sauce in the recipe; then again, I could not in good conscience call this dish Thai Basil Beef Stir-fry if I left it out. Instead, I'm using juuuuust enough to lend the salty, savory flavor to the dish without the "oh-god-what-sea-creature-just-died-and-rotted-on-my-plate" smell. And if that's not a tempting invitation to dinner, I don't know what is.
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb raw ground beef (80% lean is fine here)
5 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
as many whole red Thai chiles as you can handle- for me it's 12- but the original recipe called for 4-10 Thai chiles to go in a mere 6 oz of ground beef -Yikes!- chopped finely
1 Tbsp fish sauce
large handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped or sliced thinly
4 eggs, each cooked over easy or sunny side up, one for each serving
cooked Jasmine rice for serving
1. Heat the oil in a wok or stainless-steel skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking.
2. Add the garlic and chiles to the pan and fry for a minute until starting to soften and let off their aroma. Add the ground beef and break up into small clumps of meat. Cook until the meat starts to brown.
3. Add the fish sauce and chopped basil leaves. Stir until the basil starts to wilt and the meat is cooked through, another minute or two.
4. Serve over top of the cooked Jasmine rice, and top each serving with one of the fried or sunny side up eggs.
Born to a mushroom-loving father and a fungus-despising mother, my sister and I wisely chose the Path of Mushroom at an early age and never looked back. If anything, it was a competition to see who got to eat mom's 'extra' mushrooms that she without fail pushed to the edge of her plate (why weren't we kids allowed to do that, hmmmmm mother?!). Legends abound that supposedly one summer afternoon when our grandmother was babysitting us, she asked what we wanted for lunch (i.e. peanut butter and jelly or a tuna sandwich, probably), and we replied, "Steak and 'shrooms!" I'm pretty sure she didn't whip out the T-bone and Baby Bellas right then and there. No wonder I hate tuna sandwiches.
In between scaring Pia at the farmer's market yesterday with my vegetable-talking antics, ("I deserve to be eaten too," said the sad tomato with the weird growth on his booty. "I cope with all my problems by eating the pain away," sniffled the eggplant that was really skinny on top but as wide as 2 normal globe eggplants on the bottom), I was mostly marveling in how COLORFUL summer food is. Needless to say, I did not linger at the displays of beets or even the leafy greens (you'll still be there when I need you kale, it's ok!). Their time will come in the fall. But if there is one veggie that I could never get tired of eating year round, it would be mushrooms.
This recipe is one that I make often for parties and once upon a time had followed this Bon Appetit recipe before finding my own way.
For the polenta:
3 cups milk
3 cups water
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups polenta (coarsely-ground cornmeal)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano
For the mushrooms:
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 lbs baby bella mushrooms or assorted wild mushrooms (I used 1 lb baby bella and 1/2 lb shitakes)
3 small shallots, finely chopped (3.5 oz)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/3 cup half and half
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 Tbsp vegetable oil for pan-frying the polenta squares, divided
Make this the night before so the polenta has time to firm up in the fridge.
1. Heat the milk, water, butter, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the liquid comes to a boil, stirring occasionally to ensure the milk isn’t scorching on the bottom.
2. Stream the polenta slowly into the boiling pot, whisking furiously all the while so you don’t end up with lumpy-dumpy polenta.
3. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and continued stirring the polenta while it simmers, until it has thickened, absorbing all of the liquid, about 20 minutes (I was using Bob’s Red Mill polenta, and they gave a 30 min cook time over low heat). Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano.
4. Pour the polenta onto a half-sheet pan sprayed with non-stick spray (I also lined it with parchment paper for easy removal). Spread it out evenly in the pan, about a 1/2 inch thick layer. Cover with saran wrap and cool in the refrigerator overnight (or minimum 4 hours) until firm.
5. Slice the polenta into 2 inch squares.6.Heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large (12 inch non-stick skillet) over medium heat. Add the polenta squares in batches- I was able to cook 12 at a time- and fry until golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip over and brown the second side, 5 more minutes. Transfer to a parchment or paper towel lined sheet pan. Repeat until all of the polenta squares are pan-fried, adding vegetable oil to the pan as needed to keep the bottom of the pan coated in oil. I used a total of 8 Tbsp of oil to cook all of the polenta squares. (The goal for your polenta squares is a crispy, brown exterior and a soft, creamy interior.)
This can also be made ahead a day or two and gently reheated before serving.
1.Heat the 4 Tbsp butter in a large stainless-steel skillet over medium heat. When it has melted and started to sizzle, add the chopped mushrooms and shallots. Saute until the mushrooms have released their liquid, and the onions have softened and are translucent.
2.Once the mushrooms and shallots start sticking to the pan, pour in the 1/2 cup Marsala wine. Scrape up any tasty mushroom bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking over medium heat until the Marsala wine has mostly evaporated.
3.Add the half-and-half to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook a few more minutes until the half-and-half has thickened to a sauce. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped fresh parsley.
4.Taste for seasoning and add a little more salt if needed. Add a few grinds of black pepper.
5.Spoon a heaping Tbsp of the mushroom topping onto each polenta square. I used a small ice cream/cookie scoop to make it easier than just spooning it on.
6.You could sprinkle a little more Parmigiano Reggiano on top, but at this point I thought that was taking the lily and gilding the crap out of it, so I did not.
7.Serve hot. Makes 56 polenta squares.
Panna cotta is not only a dessert that secretly is very easy to make yet looks like you slaved away for years, it also sounnnnnddds super fancy and difficult just by sheer nature of it's Italian nomenclature. It really just means 'cooked cream', and if you were to even break it down further into a literal name of what's in a panna cotta, you could practically call it cream jello. But ewwwwww, would you eat it if I sat it in front of you and demanded, "Here, eat this milk jello!" I bet you wouldn't. And you would be missing out on a creamy, fabulous dessert that's super fast to put together yet fancy enough for company. So pretend I didn't call it 'milk jello' and let's proceed on with making Panna Cotta, shall we?
I based my recipe off of the general proportions of a Gourmet recipe for buttermilk blackberry panna cotta, but made a few changes, not the least of which was the switch to raspberries (for blackberry u-pick season has yet to begin).
For the panna cotta
3/4 lb raspberries (about 3 cups)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur
For the raspberry sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp raspberry liqueur
1 cup fresh (or frozen) raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup additional fresh raspberries, for adding to the sauce after it is cooked
You'll need 6 (6 oz) ramekins or glass dishes, as I have here. I lightly sprayed them with non-stick spray hoping that would make it easier to remove the panna cotta once it has set.
For the panna cotta:
1. Add the raspberries and buttermilk to the jar of a blender and puree until very smooth, then pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing out as much of the liquid and raspberry goodness (minus most of the seeds!) as you can.
2. Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small bowl and let stand 1 minute to soften.
3. Add the cream and sugar to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved (the cream should be steaming but not boiling). Remove from heat and add the dissolved gelatin, stirring until incorporated.
4. Stir the cream mixture and raspberry liqueur into the raspberry purée.
Tip: I transfer the puree to my 4-cup liquid measuring cup to make it easier to divide among the 6 ramekins, and you can strain it again before pouring into the ramekins if you are super obsessed about having a really smooth panna cotta, but I didn't mind a few raspberry seeds here and there.
5. Pour mixture into the ramekins and chill covered in the refrigerator until firm, at least 6 hours. The flavor really does get better after a day or too, and it’s even easier to serve for company if you make the panna cottas the night before and then just have the sauce left to make before you serve the dessert.
For the raspberry sauce:
Boil water, raspberry liqueur, 1 cup raspberries and sugar in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally, until thickened and slightly syrupy and reduced to about 2/3 cup, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in lemon juice, then pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or strainer to remove the raspberry seeds, pressing down to extract as much of the liquid and raspberry pulp as you can. Stir in the 1/2 cup fresh raspberries once the liquid has cooled.
To serve panna cottas, run a thin knife along the edge of the ramekins to loosen, and if they still don’t want to pop out, dip the bottom of the in a small bowl of warm water 3 to 5 seconds (don’t do this for too long or it will start to melt!), then invert panna cottas onto plates and gently lift off the ramekins. Spoon the raspberry sauce over and around each panna cotta.
After my trip to Sauvie Island Farms on Monday with my intrepid new friend Laura, I fear I may be losing the battle against my u-pick addiction. Though I only picked 10 lbs of peaches (a paltry quantity considering how heavy each peach is), I ended up with over 6 lbs of raspberries (for $12 and change!!!). I couldn't help it really, because I liked all 3 of the varieties they grow. I thought the extra tartness of the Tulameen and the super sweetness of the Saanich combined with the deep flavor of the Coho variety would all make the Best, Most Delicious Raspberry Jam in All the History of Raspberry Jam. It's not to say that the raspberries just hopped into this giant box (that tiny bare space in the box is after I removed the 3/4 lb of raspberries for this recipe), because believe me I was picking raspberries for long past an hour, but well, you know....
My last Prompt workshop was last night, and so I brought these brownies for my fellow writers. When they saw the fresh raspberries on top, one person commented, "Uh oh, was someone at a u-pick farm this weekend?!" and the rest of the group cracked up. That's what is so great about writing with the same people for 2 hours a week, 10 weeks in a row. If that same dialogue exchange had occurred on the first or second week, it wouldn't have been funny, but after spending so much time listening to someone's writing, you get used to their style and start to feel like you know them as a person, even if they write only fiction. I'm not very secretive about the fact that a lot of what I write is based on something that has happened in my life, so it was obvious that my "Once upon a time, there lived a girl who was addicted to u-pick farms," story was about.... me. Hence why they found it funny that I was off-loading rich, fudgy brownies topped with berries onto them so I wouldn't have to eat them all.
4.25 oz (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp table salt
7 oz bittersweet chocolate (I love Trader Joe’s 72% dark Pound Plus bar for this, which is a great deal on decent chocolate at $4.99 per 17.6 oz bar)
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp raspberry liqueur (I use Clear Creek Distillery's liqueur)
4 large eggs
9 oz (1 cup + 3 Tbsp) granulated sugar
6 oz fresh raspberries
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with butter or non-stick spray. I also then lined it with a piece of parchment paper folded and cut slightly to fit the pan, then sprayed that as well, for easy removal from the pan.
2. Chop the 7 oz of bittersweet chocolate very fine. I whirl it in my food processor to make that happen much faster than chopping by hand.
3. Add the 2 sticks of unsalted butter to a medium-sized saucepan and melt over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. With a non-stick spatula, stir in the chocolate. The residual heat of the pan/melted butter should be enough to melt all of the chocolate if you chopped it finely like I told you to. Set aside for a few minutes to cool while you mix together the other wet ingredients.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine together the eggs and granulated sugar, then add in the vanilla extract, raspberry liqueur, and salt. Stir in the melted chocolate and butter.
5. In a separate large mixing bowl, place the all-purpose flour. Add about 1/3 of the chocolate mixture to the flour, stirring to moisten all of the flour (I did it this way because the first time I just dumped all of the flour into the wet ingredients and ended up with visible white lumps of flour in the final cooked brownie because I didn't want to keep stirring and make them tough). Once the flour is incorporated with the first part of the chocolate batter, add all of the rest of the chocolate mixture and stir just until combined.
6. Scrape the brownie batter into the prepared 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle the fresh raspberries on top.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes. Because the raspberries on top start to release their juice as they cook, it might seem like your brownies are not done yet after the specified cooking time, but as long as there's not raw batter at the bottom of the pan, they're just super moist- or at least that's what my writing group told me when I said I was worried that I should have cooked them longer. "NOOOO!" they cried, "Brownies SHOULD be fudgy!!!" It's possible they were just being nice, but I may have consumed one or three small squares myself since yesterday, and I'm pretty satisfied with my creation.
My friend Sarah is a beautiful person inside and out, and she writes beautiful, vivid lines of poetry (that often make me go "whaaaaaaaat? daaaammmn" because you know, I'm so eloquent in my writing feedback and all) to boot. The boy that just broke up with her must be a crazy person, but more to the point here, Sarah was in dire need of some chocolate. Since she's such an awesome person, I try not to hold her gluten-free diet against her, and I even occasionally bake something for her. Heartbreak is definitely such an occasion! However, I wanted to at least GIVE the appearance of this being a healthy treat, and there are currently 875,607,321 lbs of zucchini available at local farmers markets around here, so I thought, why not throw in some nutrition/zucchini/little flecks of green stuff as a signifier of new beginnings into a gluten-free, chocolate-y muffin? Then, she could even, like, eat them for breakfast or something. ;-)
Last time I was at Bob's Red Mill, I spotted a new product, a Gluten-Free Pie Crust Mix. I bought the flour from the bulk bin, which makes it more affordable than just buying a 1 lb bag (for $4.39, yikes!!). I actually didn't like the pie crust that I made with it because it seemed chewy, but I decided to see if it would work like an all-purpose/pastry flour substitute, and it did! My Tester-in-Chief, M, didn't even realize it was a GF muffin, and even though I knew it was, I couldn't taste the difference! I'm sure the huge chunks of chocolate helped with that disguise, but we'll go with it. Sarah pronounced (with melted chocolate on her lips) that the breakup was (almost) worth it for the muffins.
1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Pie Crust mix
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2/3 cup full-fat sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaping cup (mine was 7 oz) shredded zucchini
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks (or chips, but I was out)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: the GF pie crust mix, granulated sugar, baking soda, kosher salt. In a separate medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: the melted butter, sour cream, egg, and vanilla. Set the whisk aside and stir the shredded zucchini into the wet ingredients with a spatula.
2. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry just until combined, then add the chocolate chunks and chopped walnuts, again stirring until just combined.
3. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin tins, filling almost to the top of the muffin liner.
4. Bake in the preheated oven until the muffins are golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out without raw batter clinging to it, about 25-30 minutes.
M was in CA a few weeks ago for a wedding, and he sent me a picture of what he was eating at brunch. "Ooooooh, chilaquiles?! Yummy!" I enthused. "Unfortunately, they look better than they taste," he glumly replied. I could feel the despair even through a text message, so I had to do something. "I might be able to do better than that, " I offered. "I KNOW you can do better than that!" he said. With such a vote of confidence, chilaquiles had to be on a forthcoming brunch menu sooner rather than later. So next time he was able to go to the Saturday morning PSU farmer's market with me, we embarked on Operation: Tasty Chilaquiles.
So now you're thinking this recipe will be for chilaquiles. Sorry to disappoint, as they did turn out quite delicious, but I didn't measure anything I added to it. I'll have to make it again next time with measuring cups and notebook at the ready. But what I did measure were the ingredients that went into the salsa. He and I were perusing the farmer's market stalls when I spotted some huge, really tasty-looking tomatillos. "Ooooh Ooooooh, salsa verde!" I exclaimed. And so it came to pass.
12 oz tomatillos, husk removed and tomatillo rinsed, chopped
1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 small chile (I used a Fresno pepper, so I removed some of the ribs and seeds to cut down on the heat), diced
small handful of cilantro leaves (about 3 Tbsp), rinsed and roughly chopped
juice from 1/2 a medium-sized lime (about 1 1/2 Tbsp)
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion, rinsed under cold water (this tames some of the sharpness of raw onions, highly recommended)
In a blender jar, combine the tomatillos, chile, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, honey and salt. Pulse to the desired consistency- chunky or almost pureed, depending on how you like it. Stir in the 1/2 cup finely diced and rinsed red onion.
Serve with tortilla chips, or tacos or chilaquiles....or all of the above.
I think it's E-harmony who advertises their date-matching techniques "based on 27 points of compatibility" or something like that, but I've developed a theory than one can tell if the relationship will last based on cookie compatibility alone. You should definitely run if say your favorite cookie is a pumpkin spice cookie with brown butter icing or a hazelnut chocolate shortbread but your significant other turns up their nose at anything more complex than a plain chocolate chip cookie (oh, the potential for greatness is juuuuust beginning!) And if they hate cookies all together, good lord, why are you still dating them?! So I was a little wary when I asked M what his favorite cookie was a few months ago, and he answered, "Oatmeal Chocolate Chip." I needn't have feared for too long though, because when I asked dubiously, "Juuuusttt oatmeal chocolate chip? What about sea salt on top or hazelnuts or pecans or coconut? " "Oooooh!!, " said M, "can I have all of that?!"
So not wanting to abandon my long-standing favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, yet wanting to incorporate oatmeal into it, I combined ideas from a couple of different blogs (ooooh, smoked sea salt and pistachios, I have both! Let's do that!) and (browning the butter AND adding oatmeal to the Cook's Illustrated recipe I've long followed?! I'm in!) to create this cookie that must be pretty dang delicious, because M ate 4 of them BEFORE we went to my building's 4th of July BBQ party.
1 1/8 cups unbleached all‐purpose flour (5.25 ounces)
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1 cup dark brown sugar (7 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2-2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I use a 10 oz bag of Ghiradelli 60% Bittersweet chips)
3/4 cup chopped toasted pistachios
smoked sea salt, for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
2. Brown the butter- add the 14 Tbsp of butter to a medium-sized stainless-steel sauce pan (if you use a non-stick or dark-bottomed pan, it will be very difficult to tell when the butter is brown). Melt the butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally with a spatula. Cook the butter until the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan and start to turn brown and smell very nutty. This should take about 5 minutes, but stay close to your pan while browning the butter because it can go from brown to sad, black burnt butter in an instant. Immediately remove the butter from the pan by scraping it (don’t forget the tasty brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan!) into a heat-proof glass measuring cup. Cool for about 5 minutes.
3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, oats, salt, baking soda. Set aside while you work on the wet ingredients.
4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the slightly cooled brown butter with the brown and granulated sugars until thoroughly combined.
5. Whisk in the whole egg, the egg yolk, and the vanilla, again whisking vigorously until thoroughly combined.
6. Using a spatula, fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture, mixing together only until it has just come together into a uniform dough.
7. Fold in the 10 oz chocolate chips and the 3/4 cup chopped toasted pistachios.
8. Scoop the cookie dough into scant 1/4 cup balls of dough and place the cookies evenly apart (12 per pan = 4 rows of 3 cookies on each pan). Lightly press to flatten the top of the ball, then sprinkle just a little of the smoked sea salt on top of each cookie.
9. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven about 14-16 minutes, or until the edges are browned and set, but the cookie middles still look slightly raw. Removing them at this stage ensures they will be chewy and awesome their whole cookie life (aka until you finish eating them).
Makes 2 dozen large tasty cookies. The best part of photographing these was getting to make the one with the bite marks out of it. Nom nom nom.
I believe it was Charles Dickens who wrote, "It was the best of zucchini, it was the worst of zucchini; it was an age of sogginess, it was an age of crispiness; it was an epoch of summer's bounty, it was an epoch of summer's failure; I ate the whole plate, I threw away the whole plate."
National Sneak a Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day isn't until August 8th, but zucchini are already prolific in these here parts. I'm sadly not growing any this year as my garden and I went through a divorce, so if you have any zucchini blossoms you want to get rid of, call meeeee, okayyyy? I've been buying the tasty little zukes at the farmer's market- eating them in long strips of zucchini 'noodles', or sliced and sautéed with other veggies, or shredded into zucchini chocolate chip bread, or my personal favorite, fried zucchini. My dad would always either dredge them in cornmeal and fry, or coat them in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Either of these are still tasty (don't worry, dad!), but my new favorite is coating them in a tempura-like batter before frying, as it results in a thin but very crispy coating.
However, the most important part of frying (other than not burning yourself of course), is maintaining the oil temperature so the food doesn't soak up too much oil and become soggy and sad. Zucchini presents an extra challenge of sogginess, given that it is 95% water itself (this is 3% higher than the water content of watermelon, whattttt?! Maybe I should just deep-fry watermelon instead?). So as my title suggests, the first time I battered and fried zucchini a few weeks ago, even though I maintained the oil temperature the whole time I was frying (you already have a thermometer, yes?), when I expectantly bit into the first zucchini stick as soon as it was cool enough to eat, I was disappointed to find crisp crust wrapped around a stick of mush-that-barely-tasted-like-anything-at-all.
As I am wont to do in times of crisis, I consulted my friend P, who made this brilliant suggestion: "Well, the spongy texture is pretty similar to eggplant, so why not try salting the zucchini before battering and frying to see if that helps get rid of some of the water?" Armed with that light bulb moment where I knew that was probably going to do the trick, this week I went into round 2 of frying zucchini. Some I salted, laying on paper towels for about 20-30 minutes, then drying off the excess salt and the moisture that had accumulated on the zucchini sticks, and some I left unsalted as a control batch (I also cut some in rounds and some in spears, but that had no bearing on the zucchini's finished texture, so go with your personal preference). When I was done, I had to text P to tell her she was so right....but first I had to eat the plate I had just photographed.
vegetable oil for frying
2 small zucchini (about 8 oz), washed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold sparkling water (aka seltzer/club soda)
a dash of freshly ground pepper
salt to taste
3 Tbsp freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, optional
1/2 cup marinara for dipping
1. Slice the zucchini into preferred rounds or batons (evenly-sized sticks) that are about 1/4 inch thick. Lay them on a double-layer of paper towels on a plate, then sprinkle the 1/2 tsp kosher salt over the zucchini, making sure to sprinkle on both sides. Let sit for 20 minutes.
2. Heat 1" depth of vegetable oil in a large stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat until it reaches 375 degrees, which can take 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the pan/depth of oil/stovetop heat. Just keep an eye on the temperature with your handy thermometer, ok?
2. Blot the excess salt and the accumulated moisture from the zucchini pieces until fairly dry. This will keep the zucchini firmer while frying and prevent excess oil-absorption (as long as you maintain the frying oil temperature at 375 degrees).
3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, dump in the 3/4 cup flour, then whisk in the 1/2 cup club soda. It should foam up a bit when you add it, but then will whisk to about the consistency of a pancake batter. A few lumps in the batter are okay. Set up this bowl and the plate of dry, drained zucchini next to where you're frying the oil. Also line a clean plate with paper towels for absorbing any excess oil after the zucchini have been fried.
4. Once the oil has reached 375 degrees, begin frying: Working quickly, add 1/3 of the zucchini to the batter and coat evenly. Immediately drop the battered zucchini into the hot oil and fry about 1 1/2-2 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Check your temperature again while frying, as it will drop a good bit once you add the zucchini to the oil. I find I normally need to crank the heat up on the burner for a few minutes to bring it back to 375 degrees.
5. Once the zucchini are golden brown (and delicious), remove from the oil with a slotted scoop and drain on the clean paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining zucchini strips. Sprinkle with pepper and any needed salt (taste one first before adding extra salt, since you initially salted the zucchini). Sprinkle with grated parmigiano reggiano if you like, then serve with marinara sauce for dipping.