Poached eggs, kale-lemon salad, buttery toast

IMG_1612

Easy dinner –

Step 1: Put a shallow pan of water on to simmer (for the eggs). Add a dash of vinegar and salt.

Step 2: Wash, stem and roughly chop one bunch of kale. Massage in a bowl with the juice of a lemon, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Step 3: Melt lots of butter in a big pan. Toast bread in the melted butter until golden on both sides.

Step 5: Crack eggs into a heatproof saucer and slip into the simmering water, one at a time. Poach for about 5 minutes for a medium-soft yolk.

Step 6: Stack the salad in a large bowl with toast on the bottom, topped with kale salad, crumbled feta and a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Summer Fruit Trifle

Sour cherries are so inspiring y’all. I’ve had less time to cook lately than I’d like (and even less to write about cooking, as you can see), but these sour cherries at the farmer’s market wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Also, my friend e nudged me to get back on here – thanks e 🙂

IMG_1564

I combined these with blueberries and nectarines for a simple fruit trifle layered with pound cake (gluten free!), vanilla pastry cream and maple whipped cream.

IMG_1544

I used the bob’s red mill recipe for gf pound cake and made a basic pastry cream, substituting the flour for cornstarch to keep that gf too.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • 1.5 cups half and half (I used half milk and half cream)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Bring half and half to simmer in a medium saucepan. Whisk sugar, eggs and starch in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot half and half. Transfer to saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 5 minutes. Boil 1 minute. Pour into a heatproof bowl and cool in the fridge before layering with the fruit, pound cake and whipped cream.

(*Secret and confession: I actually put all the ingredients into my vitamix blender and set it to the hot soup setting. I then poured it into a saucepan and let it come to a simmer while I whisked – a lot less standing over the stove time)

Coffee-molasses glazed pork chops

img_0850

This Alton Brown inspired glaze is so easy and versatile, you’ll want to keep it in your regular rotation. I used it on chicken thighs and pork chops, but I think that it would be great on roasted veggies, tofu, salmon and most other meats. I served it with a carrot-yam puree and seared broccoli.

  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee (I actually just dumped in fine ground coffee, about 1/2 cup, and some warm water. Worked well!)
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Marinate the protein in the a zip-top bag for 2-3 hours and then grill to desired doneness (3-4 minutes/side for pork chops). Strain the marinade into a small saucepan and reduce until syrupy. Drizzle a little glaze over each serving. If using on roasted veggies, I would suggest reducing the marinade down and tossing with the veggies during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

French onion soup – warmth in a bowl

I will confess upfront that this soup was consumed so fast that I didn’t get a photo of the final plated (bowled?) dish. I served it with toasted sourdough croutons and melted Gruyere cheese, and I can assure you, it was tasty.

I made the stock from scratch, using meaty short ribs, dried maitake mushrooms, and a bunch of veggies.

img_0748

Next, I slowly caramelized about 5 large sliced onions in lots of butter and 4-5 cloves of sliced garlic. I started them on the stove and then moved them to a 300 F oven, stirring them every 30 minutes until they were a dark brown.

I strained the broth, shredded the bits of meat and added those plus the broth into the pan of onions, scraping up all of the browned bits. I added a dash of Cognac and adjusted the salt and pepper. To serve, I topped individual bowls with toasted cubes of sourdough (I find cubes easier to eat than a whole toast) and shredded Gruyere, melted under the broiler.

img_0750

My Nana’s ravioli (spinach and ricotta)

img_0738

While my family was not too happy about this, I spent this past holiday at home making ravioli for my partner and I. No travel, no visitors, just quiet, cozy cooking.

My first memory of ravioli is from my Nana, and I have never had any that taste quite like them. Any homemade ravioli are usually pretty dreamy, but these have the added bonus of nostalgia for me. The flavor difference between these and other spinach-ricotta ravioli is a tablespoon or two of grated, glassed onion. I always use fresh ricotta and spinach, and that makes a difference in terms of texture and flavor for sure.

I used the same pasta recipe as I normally do, so I’ll just include the filling recipe here.

1 1/2 cup fresh ricotta, drained for at least one hour in cheese cloth and colander
1 cup cooked spinach, chopped fine and squeezed completely dry
2 tablespoons grated onion, glassed in a bit of olive oil (cooked until translucent but not browned at all)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
1 small egg

Mix all ingredients together, except for egg, and season to taste. Add egg and mix to combine. Once you fill the pasta sheets, let dry for a bit before cooking in slowly boiling water. They only need to cook for about a minute, or until they float to the surface.

 

Fig bars (aka my new favorite cookie ever)

I have always loved any kind of fig cookie (or “fruit and cake” if you remember the commercial from the 80’s). A dear friend’s mother-in-law made homemade fig bars based on a Mark Bittman recipe, and I knew my life would never be the same. These are, hands-down, my new favorite cookie and will likely remain there for the foreseeable future.

img_0741

I love that they are less sweet than commercial brands, and you can add different dried fruits to the filling to mix it up. I’ve done cranberries + figs, and I want to try apricots next. The day they are baked, the pastry is crispy, almost pie-crust-like. As they age, the crust is more cake-like, and they are good for at least 4-5 days, unrefrigerated (as long as they’ve lasted in my house). I served them as part of a cheese plate, and they were amazing with a very stinky triple cream.

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar (can reduce if you’d like a less sweet cookie)
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 tablespoons grated orange zest
2 cups flour (can use whole wheat or gluten free)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces dried figs, chopped
1 cup orange juice

Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat them together with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and the egg until well blended, then add the zest.

Stir together the flour (I prefer whole wheat flour), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for about an hour. I found it helpful to divide the dough into quarters first and then chill individually so I could pull out one at at time to roll and fill.

Combine the figs (or other dried fruits) and orange juice in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the figs are soft and the juice is fully absorbed. Purée with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt.

Heat the oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1/4 of the dough into a long rectangle about 4 inches wide. I ended up having to use parchment paper to help with transferring the rolled cookie log onto the baking sheet. I also had to flip the dough as I rolled, re-flouring to keep from sticking. Divide the fruit filling into 4 even portions and spoon evenly down the middle of each piece of dough and fold up the sides of the dough around it lengthwise; press gently to seal. Bake on ungreased baking sheets, seam side down, for about 15-20 minutes or until the logs are evenly golden (I always had to bake for 20 minutes to get the golden color). Cut into squares while they are still warm and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

img_0752

img_0741

Cooler-cooked steaks

img_0316

I finally tried the whole sous-vide thing, but I did it in a beer cooler! Thanks to The Food Lab, I also salted and air-cured the ribeyes for three days in my fridge. I’d do both of these things again, but I recommend reducing the number of curing days. For the record though, my partner says that it was the best steak ever and wouldn’t change a thing.

I paired the ribeye with grilled green beans and new potatoes and a homemade Bearnaise sauce (which is kind of like hollandaise but with white wine vinegar instead of lemon juice and the addition of tarragon).

First pat your thick-cut steaks dry and pat all over with kosher salt. Set them on a rack over a pan and place in your fridge for 12-24 hours. Brush off any remaining salt and seal the steaks in a vacuum sealed bag (or a ziplock bag). Then follow Kenji’s instructions for cooking meat in a beer cooler. I have to say, I was skeptical, but the ability to consistently attain the perfect temperature steak each and every time is pretty alluring. Plus, if you are having a bunch of folks over, the meat could be held in the water bath, and you can sear to order in a matter of minutes. No need to stand over a grill/stove while your guests are having fun, and lower chance of getting distracted and over cooking.

img_0315

img_0372

It’s squash roasting season, obviously, but I wanted to make a specific plug for spaghetti squash. Cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, coat with olive oil and fill the halves with sliced garlic, herb sprigs and a sprinkle of salt.

Place, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the squash strands separate as you drag a fork across them. The texture should remain crisp, and it’s better to under-bake than over. If you really want to soften it, just throw it back in the oven for a few more minutes. An over-baked squash is just mushy and sad.

I like to toss the strands with toasted walnuts, red pepper flakes, black pepper and shards of parmesan or aged gouda. It’s also great coated with some fresh pesto.

Savory rice waffles (again)

img_0374

This post is only to remind you that you should make rice waffles for dinner very soon, and, more broadly, that you can put so many things in your waffle maker! These rice waffles were pretty basic, but topped with some seared bass, sauteed cabbage and a spicy black bean sauce.

Just take day-old (or week old, I’m not judging) rice, mix in an egg, some salt and any other add-ins (green onions, basil, chopped bacon, diced cooked shrimp). Cook in your waffle maker until the edges are nice and crispy. Top with sauteed veggies, meats, gravies, melted cheese, you name it. You can usually make a topping in the time it takes your waffle to crisp up!

Chocolate cookie ice-box cake

img_0318

It’s always fun when something is even better tasting than you imagined. This was one of them. I made it as a celebration cake for a loved one using Smitten Kitchen’s recipe (minuse the peanut butter). I didn’t bother making it look perfect, so the shape was more modern art than “bakery case ready,” but that didn’t affect our enjoyment of it one bit. I did top with chocolate curls and cocoa nibs, so that made up for the shape a little.

While it was a lot of work to roll out and bake each layer individually, it was fun to have the layered look when cutting into it. I might not bother in the future, just rolling out random shapes and then layering them up as best I can like a triffle. Either way, super delicous.

img_0320

img_0319