Archives for category: Cooking

Today I have a little post on Momfilter (a website I love) about planting cilantro from something in your spice cabinet–coriander seeds! I’m so proud of my little green seedlings. Look how strong they are. From the day I planted them, I think it’s taken about a month to get to this stage:

the May foodswap was last weekend and I made marshmallows! and a good thing too, because Monday, May 21, turned out rainy and cold.

When I made the first batch of marshmallows I thought, “those liars. This is hard! and sticky! Not easy like they promised me on the internets.” But after that I made the next two in quick succession and it seemed much easier. A marshmallow recipe is a good one to make while you’re replying to emails or doing something else; there is a lot of waiting time where the watched pot likes to be left alone.

Toasted Coconut, Lillet spiked, and Chocolate Cinnamon.

The toasted coconut was crunchy and squishy (I’m using all the leftover coconut in my oatmeal these days), the Chocolate Cinnamon had unexpected chunks of ultra dark chocolate hidden throughout, the Lillet spiked ones tasted of citrus with an alcohol twist dusted in powder sugar and brilliantly white. They were my favorite.

They were very popular at the swap–too popular. I only made 10 bags, and 12 people signed up to trade with me, and I wanted to trade with a few more after that! It was hard to decide how to trade, and I didn’t like not having enough for everyone! (aren’t the labels appropriate? Joe made them for me, the font is called Bello.)

I traded for a jar of chive kimchi, a jar of mole sauce, a bag of homemade cheddar crackers, a container of marinated mozzarella balls, a beautiful lemon poppy seed cupcake filled with violet jelly with mascarpone frosting, strawberry-sherry compote, a jar of arugula pesto, four decadent marshmallow brownies, a mini loaf of onion bread, and a bag of homemade chai! As usual I was stunned and awed at the awesome things everyone brought.

My friend Johanna made the chai and I thought the packaging turned out irresistible! How pretty are these?

Several of you commented that you would like to start a foodswap in your town. I think you should! You would probably need to recruit about 5-7 people to get it started, and then spread the word! The most unexpected people participate and really get into it.

Atlas Farm had pints of organic strawberries, stacked on shelves like the new bestselling novel, for $4.50 each.

The Siena Farm stand had bags of every green the fields could possibly muster right now–bok choy, young garlic, fava bean greens. And a basket strewn with oyster mushrooms, gold and brown. I picked a bag bursting with “braising greens” a mix to be tossed in a pan with olive oil and garlic. That, I can do.

Hamilton Orchards was back with their stacks of cider doughnuts, unbelievably fresh and cinnamon scented. There is no season (especially a rainy early summer) that doesn’t ask for an cider doughnuts.

L.A. Burdicks, (on the way to Copley Square, of course) has their serving license at last and is serving iced chocolates, but I couldn’t resist a tiny cup of dark hot chocolate to cheer their new location.

True story: it all came out with Oxyclean.

A few things I love to see in the kitchen lately..

I like how it says “Ready to Eat.” I keep it in the front of my cupboard for encouragement. “There’s always me, if you can’t find anything else in here. And I don’t have any bpa to worry about either!” it says.

This is the mustardiest mustard you’ve ever had. For real. If you like mustard, you have to try this.

One of those things I always ponder in the grocery aisle, and then decide it’s too expensive. But really, $6 for organic peanut butter with real chocolate and vanilla? Happy Mother’s Day to me.

 

I’ve been using tips from this video to make my chai lately. I’m not grating my own ginger and peeling cardamom pods, oh no. I have chai mixes from Cafe Luxxe and Bellocq Tea Atelier for that.

But I am letting my milk and water rise and fall three times, and putting in a good spoonful of hearty raw sugar. My nineteen year old brother Wilson is living in India this spring. When we talk on Skype, I like to relate to his life on food levels. How the naan tastes, how much the mangos cost, how he and his roommate get really confused about how to make good chai.

Yesterday I packed up my fourteen bags of homemade biscotti (one recipe from Cook’s Illustrated utilizing instant grits, one receipe from Maida Heatter with espresso and lots of chocolate) and headed to the Boston Food Swap. It was my first time attending this monthly event and it was…probably the most fun I’ve ever had at an event in Boston. Serious.

Despite the rain almost forty people showed up, carting their jars of lemon curd, their recycled bottles of kombucha, their tins of cardamum brown sugar simple syrup, their bags of flourless brownies made with dates and coconut, their jars of pickled ramps…

(both Birgit and I are into packaging…obviously. I used some ribbon from Angela Liguori, a wonderful Italian Brookline-based artist.)

I circled the room tasting everything, quizzing people on recipes, asking for advice on where they found certain ingredients, sharing excitement for our summer CSAs to kick in….

It was a local foodie’s dream date, and the best part is you really don’t have to be a “foodie” in any intimidating sense of the word. Some people brought trail mix, or chocolate covered pretzels, or grasshopper brownies—easy things that everyone loves to eat.

Then we scribbled down our offers on each other’s “bidding sheets” and shortly after that, chaos of trading ensued. My favorite part was learning that the person I hoped to trade with, also wanted to trade with me! Foodie kismet!

Here’s everything I came away with:

Rosemary shortbread, homemade chive cheese, cherry & apple chutney, pancetta, basil mozzarella, homemade salsa….wow!

So! You can google and see if there’s one of these in your town, there probably already is! If there isn’t, would you ever want to start one in your area? What would you bring?

When I realized I was going to be in Santa Monica for a week with free childcare (commonly called grandma) the first thing I though of was xobreakfast.

Xobreakfast is a blogger that I’ve admired since I first read about her on the venerable pages of Wednesday Chef. I like her style, I like her breakfast love, I like her quirky puns, and I love her great taste in recipe development (her maple olive oil oatbread is the house favorite these days). I think the first thing I loved about her was her clever avatar:

irresistible, no?

Though I had piles of affection for this person, of course I’d never spoken with her, much less met her. But I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

And she said yes!

do I look thrilled? I was.

Probably the best thing about meeting up with a food blogger is there’s no shame in emailing back and forth for weeks with our lists of where we think we should meet. L.A. currently has lots of coffee shops that are the best parts of “hipster” culture: obsessive about quality, beautiful architectural almost art-galleryesque interiors, articulate chalkboard menus, fair trade brews, carefully selected pastries…plus, and this was a big unexpected plus to me: patios with sunshine!

We picked a place half way between us, The Coffee Commissary. We were partially convinced by the existence of a food truck name Eggslut that parked outside on week day mornings. In typical fashion, everyone on Yelp insisted that the baristas were jerks who refused to smile and acted like they worked as grim reapers in the evenings….though the Yelpers gravely admitted the coffee was delicious.

But when we got there we found everyone all smiles and cordial explanations (possibly they were tipped off that two glamorous bloggers were arriving?). We both picked up salted caramel rice crispy treats, and I had to circle back halfway through for a cream biscuit with strawberry jam and creme fraiche.

Noelle ordered the signature “slut” which was a coddled egg with pureed potatoes, chives and gray salt that came in an adorable glass jar.

I brought her honey from the east coast. She made me granola. And we talked about…food! Cortados (I had never heard of these mini cappuccinos that were on menus all over LA), muesli, packing too many dishes to take to France, babies and boyfriends, eating too much when you travel to new exciting places, the strawberries at the farmers market, bread recipes….of course we knew lots about each other because we’d read each other’s blogs! It was so fun.

It made me think of this quote on Swiss Miss recently:

There’s something sacred about reading a blog post on someone else’s site. It’s like visiting a friend’s house for a quick meal ’round the breakfast table. It’s personal — you’re in their space, and the environment is uniquely suited for idea exchange and uninterrupted conversation. In many ways, we should be treating our blogs like our breakfast tables. Be welcoming & gracious when you host, and kind & respectful when visiting. – Trent Walton

What about you? Is there a blogger who you’d love to meet in person? Would you be nervous to share how much you truly know about them, in conversation?

The cake I baked yesterday was nearly the antithesis of this quote. I began baking it—setting the espresso pot on the stove, melting the dark chocolate in the double boiler—around 5pm. Anyone who has cared for a baby for 24 hours will tell you never, ever attempt to do anything two hours before bedtime.

Oh, but dense, rich, five eggs ‘n many sticks of butter cake sounded like it would solve so many things. Betty and I were on the same page, this cake would be transformative…except I was baking the cake for myself and would not be stopped.

Joe came home to a kitchen with cake-in-progress written all over it, leftover chicken pot pie burning in the oven,  a crying baby, and a wife who had forgotten how to say, “Welcome home!” and instead said, “Why can’t you come home before 7pm???” And the cake tasted like Betty Crocker’s dismal red cardboard box legacy because fatigue and anger came to eat at the table too. (I know this sounds like a bad rendition of a poorly remembered Bible verse, but I promise it was the case. It was a sad scene.)

Fortunately for the recipe‘s reputation, it was still here today. After glaring at it, I cut a slice and added the leftover raspberries from brunch this morning. And shared it with Joe, who had graciously accepted my apologies for nearly sacrificing our family’s weekend on an alter of chocolate. It was dense and nearly-bittersweet with chocolate and had crumb and yet somehow fudgey…..all the things I hoped it would be and this time I could really taste it.

If I get that urge again after 3pm, I’m buying a snickers bar.

Anyway, check your cake baking motives, friends. And once you have, take a look at this beer & wheat flour & maple syrup cake recipe. I think I know what I’m doing next Friday morning…

quote from Domestology (click to see her lovely stitched art!), found via 101cookbooks favorites list.

Hello friends! I started tracking our dinners on a tumbler. My ultimate goal is to click “archives” and see my motley dinners, poorly photographed and too-closely documented, spread neatly across one screen. Thus tumbler and the internet will be at last harnessed for my own selfish gain.

In a couple posts recently I mention a beef stew, and let me just link to it directly because it is damn. good. It’s by Alice Waters, who I am currently addicted to as a recipe developer. Joe is going away for a night or two on a company ski trip and I’ll either be eating that or picking up the discount sushi at Whole Foods for the next two nights. what with our budget surplus for February*, I figure why not…

 

*tragically, this is sarcastic. Are leap years exempt from monthly budgets?

 

a friend gave me homemade modern chai for Christmas, in a weck jar. isn’t it pretty? It’s my first weck jar, and I pause to admire it while I wait for my oatmeal to boil every morning. This is my second hand-mixed chai to receive as a gift. It’s the best looking thing to have in your drawers for cold afternoons. Simmering milk, water, black tea and bits of other things is totally my style.

I made the orange scented olive oil sticky buns you’ve all been eyeing over at Food52. They were chewy like good dinner rolls with a sticky citrus filling rolled on the inside, seeping out of the bottom and caramelizing in the corners where it had the chance.

But my friend, the other half of the brunch, made Savory Bread Pudding from Tartine and it was all I noticed on my plate. Every bite seemed to be a different mix of eggs and cream-soaked bread, or sauteed mushrooms and thyme, or grated gruyere and chopped ham.

The babies watched and tossed toys at one another, like six month olds know how to do.

 

 

Aleksandra also makes grilled cheese sandwiches with Gruyere and a sprinkling of white wine (before broiling), sliced comice pears sauteed in butter and sugar, coconut sticky rice, pasta with ‘just a little butter, Parmesan and black peper,’ and before bed a mug of hot milk sprinkled with freshly grated nutmeg….

In the winter, I have made hearty salads of smoked mackerel and red-skinned potatoes and accompanied them with braised leeks. I like to saute sausages and eat them with a mound of broccoli rabe, a lemon wedge and olive oil; and assemble platters of prosciutto, mortadella and duck liver pate with a tuft of parsley and caper salad. I might roast carrots and beets, and dip them into ricotta seasoned with olive oil and sea salt.

-Amanda Hesser, Cooking for Mr. Latte (currently reading)

This book is in the guise of a dizzy girl memoir, but it’s actually a beautiful pitch for savoring all the food you eat, and relishing the treats you allow yourself.

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