Tag Archives: recipes

Shortbread Pop Tarts.

25 Mar

Homemade shortbread pop tarts? Uh-huh.

I had been looking for a way to make pop tarts from scratch. The filling was the easy part, the crust is what was perplexing. Recipes I had seen all call for making the crust with pre-made pie crusts. Meh.

Let’s be honest here, pop tarts don’t taste like pie. That’s why Hostess Fruit Pies exist.  So all of those recipes calling for pie crust use in this case are wrong. (Or, at the very least, terribly misguided.) After much consideration, I decided that the best option for crust would be a homemade shortbread crust.

As my friend Shari would say: Holy cats!

The shortbread is sweet and buttery and delicious. I flattened the dough into small rounds, placed some decent quality mixed berry preserve in the middle and topped it with another flattened dough the same size as the one on the bottom. These would definitely make Lorelai Gilmore go nuts – aside from the make it from scratch part.

Slice off the sides to give the pop tart its shape. Then, put in the oven for 20 minutes. Once they’re done, take them out and let cool. Drizzle the icing onto the top and add sugar. It’s really that simple.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butter (unsalted)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • jar mixed berry preserves
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • decorative sugar

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Mix together the butter and sugar first. Make sure the butter is room temperature so that it mixes well with the sugar. Once they are mixed, add in the salt and gradually add in the flour.

Next, chill the dough for a few minutes until it is easy to form little pancake like shapes. Put a heaping tablespoon of preserve in the middle and spread around. Cover with another pancake shaped round of the shortbread dough. Trim the sides into a pop tart shape/size.

Once they are formed, put on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

While that cooks, mix together the confectioners sugar and milk. (Add in the milk one tablespoon at a time to be sure the icing doesn’t become too runny.)

Take baked tarts out of the over and put on cooling rack to cool. Drizzle on the icing glaze mixture and top that with decorative sugar.

Parsnip & Leek Smash

8 Mar

Parsnips and leeks, you say? Indeed. And with the addition of a little creme fraiche, this turns into a delicious side for any meal.

This is a great substitute for boring mashed potatoes, and though it’s simple to make with just three ingredients, it has a complex flavor that you’ll be craving time and time again. And it’s a pretty healthy dish, too.

Ever since I started adding parsnips into my regular rotation of vegetables, I have not been disappointed. The albino cousin of the carrot doesn’t particularly look like more than just an ordinary root, but it has a nutty flavor that really stands out. I prefer to leave the outer skin of the parsnip on, as it isn’t very thick and adds a nice texture.

These parsnips were given to me at the end of the growing season in late fall and I just now have gotten around to using them. They were grown organically at a local farm and were stored properly for a couple of months, allowing the fresh flavor to last well into winter.

And lest we forget the other main component of this dish, the leek. I find it is another underutilized vegetable with a lot of flavor. It’s related to onion and garlic, and works very well together with the parsnips.

Once the veggies are cut and boiled, put them in a bowl and use a potato masher to smash them all together. Add in the creme fraiche, salt and pepper and plate next to your main dish.

To make:

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized leeks, cut into 1/2″ rings
  • 1 pound parsnips, skin on, cut into 1-2″ chunks
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and add parsnips and leeks. Let cook in boiling water until soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from water and place in a medium sized bowl. Smash up the leek and parsnip together until mashed together. Add in creme fraiche, salt and pepper and mash together some more. (You can make this as smooth/chunky as you want, I prefer it somewhere in between.)

Plate and serve. You could garnish with nutmeg or a small dollop of creme fraiche.

Chocolate Hazelnut Orange Cake.

4 Mar

On this particular sunny Sunday, I was supposed to be attending the wedding of my dear friend Meghan in Los Angeles. Two people I could not be happier for are celebrating their marriage outdoors in Elysian Park with a huge party. Instead of spending the day with them and dancing it up with friends and a speckle of celebrity attendees, I am here in New England because things don’t always work according to plan or intention.

However, today is also Molly’s birthday and she will be having a get together later on this evening. So I have that to look forward to. And, since I had the time, I made a cake to bring with me.

I have only made this cake once before for another friend on her birthday years ago. I remember everyone enjoyed it thoroughly, and I felt it was time to get on it again.

It’s not that hard to make and won’t take too long (as long as you aren’t staging photos, finding the right lighting and fighting with the dog because all she wants is to eat everything you are touching.) Oh, and the frosting is made with cheese. Enough said.

Once you have all of your ingredients together, it’s time to get started. Now, for the cake, just get yourself a good quality chocolate cake mix. Unless you want to upstage me and make it from scratch. That’s totally cool.

While the cake is baking, make the crunchy hazelnut caramel toffee. It’s pretty freaking simple. Water and sugar. Boil. Pour. Let set.

Now that the cake is cooling and the toffee is chopped, it’s time to make the frosting. The key to making this correctly is to have the Marscapone cheese at room temperature for mixing. Another thing is to make the whipped cream portion of the frosting first before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

Once it’s all mixed, spread and even layer on top of the bottom layer of cake and sprinkle that with some of the orange zest/chocolate/sugar mixture.

Next, add the top layer of cake. And more frosting.

Once the chocolate cake is covered with the hazelnut crunch frosting, sprinkle as much of the orange/chocolate/sugar topping as you’d like.

And all of a sudden, you have a cake everyone will LOVE.

To make this cake: Continue reading

Cheesy Mushroom Risotto Fritters with Beet Hummus.

21 Feb

First of all. Can we talk about the color of the beet hummus? These pictures have not been enhanced in a way that has changed the color of the hummus dramatically. It actually looks like this in real life. And you can eat it. And it’s all okay.

Beets have been a favorite of mine for a while now. You can pickle them. Put them in a salad. Slice them and make chips. Put them in chocolate cake. (Yes, you can. My pal Joy the Baker shows you how.) The list goes on.

I put them in hummus this time around. And then paired that with cheesy mushroom risotto fritters.

Although it involves a little more time than some dishes (because you’re making the risotto from scratch) the reward is definitely worth the effort. You could actually make the risotto as a dish on its own for one night, and then use the leftovers to make the fritters the next. You could. I couldn’t, I don’t have that kind of patience.

The risotto and the beet hummus really compliment one another well, and the hummus transforms itself into a dipping sauce of sorts for the fritters.

Once you’ve cooked the risotto, you need to let it cool for about an hour. This is the perfect time to make the beet hummus!

Now that you’ve made that (it is insanely simple to make), set it aside and let’s get back to the fritters!

Take the cooled risotto and shape it into little patties. Throw those into some hot oil (I prefer grapeseed oil for frying) and brown ’em up!

At this point of the process, I had made myself pretty freaking hungry. Next step is easy, just plate it and indulge.

How to make the risotto fritters: Continue reading

Cardamom, Vanilla & Orange French Toast (in a skillet!)

12 Feb

Winter has finally arrived here in New England, in mid-February. Well, maybe there isn’t any snow yet, but it’s frigid out. The sunshine and blue sky are deceiving. All I want to do is to be outdoors somewhere enjoying fresh air, but I hear the wind and bare tree branches clicking, and instead of outdoor activities, I think about what there is for me to eat.

And it’s that time on a Sunday between breakfast and lunch, so of course, brunch ideas come popping in.

You guys know about brunch, right? I ask only because a few weeks ago we were out enjoying some brunchy delights in Cambridge, and the couple at the table next to us HAD NEVER HEARD OF BRUNCH.

“You mean we can get something from the breakfast menu or the lunch menu? And what’s this ‘Brunch’ menu here? Can you explain ‘brunch’ to us?” Really?!?! REALLY.

They talked about what a great idea this brunch thing was for about 15 minutes. It was all very serious. And equally as disturbing. The term “brunch” was coined in 1895. 117 years ago. Perhaps I should have mentioned having a “midnight snack” to them and completely turned their world lopsided.

Anyway, brunch.

I got to thinking about what I felt like eating on this cold Sunday. French toast was sounding good. But so was something baked. And here was where I had a craving for a baked brioche french toast with hints of vanilla, cardamom and orange. (Totally normal craving, I might add.) I bundled up for a quick trip to the store and fifteen minutes later was back home in the kitchen.

This was one of the simplest and quickest meals to put together. Cut up the Brioche into thick slices and set 1/2 of the loaf aside. With the other half, break up the remaining slices into quarters. Leave them in a pile for a moment.

Add together the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix. Drop the bread in and let it soak.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use the soaked bread pieces immediately or you could let them sit overnight in the fridge. This way, when you wake up in the morning, all you have to do is put this mixture in an iron skillet or glass bakeware and pop it in the oven for a half hour while you wake up, take a shower, hit the snooze button, etc.

Once the soggy bread is in the skillet, place it in the oven. Thirty minutes or so later you have breakfast. And an incredible smelling kitchen! Seriously, you’ll want to roll around in this smell. It’s good.

Carve out a slice and add on some fresh whipped cream and/or maple syrup (the real stuff!). This will be an amazing breakfast/brunch experience right at home. And because of the cardamom, this dish will pair very well with a citrus based drink, such as lemonade, orange juice or Mimosa.

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Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Fig Compote on Focaccia.

29 Jan

Today began as one of those relaxing days when you wake up early, have no agenda, and feel like you could lounge around all day or ride your bike or go shopping or, well, pretty much do anything you please. Being winter in New England, options are automatically limited by taking any enjoyment out of outdoor activities.

I started out going for coffee and a bagel at the coffee shop down the street. I’ve been going there since 1999. I love it there. I brought my computer and played around for two hours with logos for a new project I am working on. I headed home around 10 AM, played with the dog and continued to do a lot of nothing. It was great.

Then, hunger started to creep in. Realizing I haven’t done a blog post in a week or two, I decided to combine activities and do something at least mildly productive. For this reason, I bring you today’s sandwich.

Actually, calling it a sandwich is a bit of an undersell. It is a meal compacted into the guise of being a sandwich. It’s my lunch and about half of my dinner. (I plan on eating a lot of cheese & crackers later while watching TV. I have lofty goals.). It is huge. And half of it would have sufficed.

Start with a fresh cut focaccia. Add to it some prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, fig compote and avocado. Eat.

All in all it’s a simple mix of ingredients that pleases the senses pretty easily.

I served it up with a side of bread and butter pickles from Saltbox Farm in Concord, Ma. It was a nice pairing. And I love anything I can eat from that place.

To make the sandwich…

  • 3-4 slices prosciutto
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 4 T fig compote
  • 6-8 small balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced in half
  • fresh cut focaccia
  • salt to taste

Build your sandwich like you would any other. It’s going to be thick when it’s all finished. I like to anchor mine with fig compote on both slices of focaccia. If you wish, you can also put this in a panini press, as it is even more delicious warm.

Blackberry & Kumquat Filled Brandy Tuiles.

13 Jan

Now. Look at these. Look at them closely. You know how you are studying them, imagining how incredible biting into any of them would be? Take that taste in your head. Multiply it by at least 17,000. That’s how good they are.

Let’s talk about the Tuiles, shall we? Crispy little cylindrical brandy wafers filled with Greek yogurt, blackberry jam, clementines, kumquats and black pepper. Oh man.

These little tubes of tastiness really get your tastebuds up on their feet. They are a perfect way to end a meal. Or a perfect snack to eat while watching TV. Or right before bed. If you made them right, you could probably have them for breakfast too…maybe add some apple and cinnamon into the mix?

These tuiles were just one of the desserts Molly Loveday made when she created this dinner. As an aside, we were also invited over for dinner last night. Homemade Gnudi pasta. Oh my.

I’m getting way too used to this having an awesome neighbor thing.

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Tagliatelle and Littleneck Clams in a Gin-Basil Jalapeño Sauce.

12 Jan

Eating is always better when I don’t have to cook anything  for myself. That is why I love having a close friend who is also an incredible chef.

On Friday night, my pal Molly Loveday invited Joe(y) and I over for dinner. A late dinner. Like, come over at 8:30 and we will start to get the ball rolling kind of late dinner. (By “get the ball rolling”, I mean I’ll watch you get all of this edible amazingness ready while I take pictures and drink Lambrusco.)

Molly makes real food, from scratch. She was trained by and has worked for an impressive list of people.  She knows exactly how to pair this with that. She understands and utilizes local ingredients at their peak. Everything always tastes flavorful and fresh. Molly even makes her own sparkling water and places it on the table with a glass that has your name on it. Now that’s service… I mean, friendship. That’s friendship!

Molly dressed her table with bunched herbs and fresh scallions, which just happen to be ingredients in the meal we will be feasting on.  And the table itself…Well, it’s a black and white enamel topped Hoosier table. The body of which was lovingly and professionally  restored (along with the bench) by her father. We are christening it tonight. It was just carried in about an hour or so before we arrived. The paint may or may not still be a little tacky.

On the menu for the evening:

  • Mackerel Tartine
  • Lentils, cauliflower and herbs topped with pomegranate seeds
  • Tagliatelle with littleneck clams in a gin-basil jalapeño sauce
  • Brandy Tuile with kumquat marmalade
  • Chocolate Caramel Tartlettes
  • Molly’s Blonde Fudge

I know, right?

The tagliatelle dish was completely filling and perfectly balanced. The jalapeño peppers added just enough kick to bring the fresh pasta to a higher level of being, especially when joined with the scallion. And I don’t believe you can ever go wrong with adding in littleneck clams.  (You can find the recipe for this dish at the bottom.)

Dessert pictures and recipes will be forthcoming. But let me just say, handmade blonde fudge and brandy tuiles beg for your attention. Stay tuned…

I’m excited and privileged to have Molly as one of my closest friends. I’m also elated that she has moved only a few blocks away. In any spare time the two of us may have, I know I’ll be heading over to her home any chance I get (for obvious reasons.)

Molly is currently putting her culinary talents to use right in your own kitchen! If you live in the Boston area and would like to have a private cooking lesson in your own home, or think someone you know would enjoy this as a gift, you can contact Molly for more details at ChefMollyLoveday@gmail.com

Expect more collaborations from Molly, myself and Joe(y) in the near future. Until then, give this main dish a try…

Continue reading

Baked Gouda in a Skillet.

3 Jan

Throughout my twenties I frequented an establishment in Cambridge, Mass. called the B-Side Lounge. It was perfectly balanced, being both a well-stocked bar and an eatery with dishes that could rival any establishment. The crowd was always full of some of the Boston area’s best folks, and the staff were equally as charming and talented. There were so many things about this place that were perfect. The decor, the cocktail list, the menu! The one menu item that was my favorite, as well as a favorite of friends, was the Baked Gouda in a Skillet served with crostinis.

An old photo I took of the airplane fan inside of the B-Side Lounge

Baked Gouda in a Skillet. As a menu item! Perfect for cold winter nights when you just want to sit down, enjoy the company you are with, have a cocktail and share cheese. It’s been four years since the B-Side closed, and four years since I’ve dipped a crunchy crostini into a bubbling pool of gouda, cream, garlic, et al.

Today, I have fixed that. I decided to give a try at recreating this dish from my memory and the memory of my friends. There was a debate, briefly, about whether or not there were potatoes mixed in. My friends and I came to an understanding that while we do remember there being potato stick slices in the dish at one point, originally it was made without potatoes. My recipe has no potatoes. I also used a 6.5 inch skillet. If I remember correctly, the restaurant used either an eight or ten inch skillet.

My recipe does have a lot of cheese. Like, a lot, a lot. It also has garlic, shallots, cream, herbs, and the tiniest amount of butter.

I started by sautéing the garlic and shallots in the skillet. Then added cream. And cheese. And herbs. And some more cream. And then some more cheese. Then once it’s smooth in the pan, I just stuck it into the oven and waited.

The result was pretty similar to what I remember. It may not be the exact same proportions of this to that of its predecessor, but it came so close I can consider this an accomplished feat.

To make the B-Side Lounge Baked Gouda in a Skillet:

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Gouda cheese
  • 1/3 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 small shallot, sliced thin
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter

Pre-heat your oven to 375°F.

Put the skillet over medium heat and add butter, garlic and shallots. Once those have sauteéd a few minutes, add about 1/2 of the heavy cream. Next, add in 1/2 of the cheese, bit by bit, allowing it to melt evenly and smoothly into the cream.

Put in the rosemary and thyme. Then add the rest of the cream, and then the remaining cheese. Again, mix while you add the cheese. Once it is smooth and thickened, move the skillet into the over. Don’t forget, the skillet is HOT, so use caution.

Leave in the oven for 12-14 minutes. Once done, secure the skillet and let briefly cool.

For the Crostinis:

Slice whatever kind of bread you’d enjoy having, but a loaf of crunchy crusty bread is ideal. Take each slice and give it a light coat of olive oil on each side. Put on top rack of oven and let brown. When one side is done, flip it over and toast the other side also. After a few minutes, the bread should be browned and crispy and perfect for dipping. (You can do this either before or after making the gouda in a skillet.)

Serves 2-3, depending on how much each of you love cheese.

Update: See the comments section for additional information regarding more ingredients used for the B-Side Lounge Baked Gouda in a Skillet…including fried potato sticks & goat cheese!

Bourbon Soaked Cherries.

14 Dec

Last weekend while Joe(y) and I were away for the weekend visiting Provincetown, we stopped in for an early dinner and some drinks at one of my favorite places to eat. In addition to ordering dozens of oysters and a Pale Ale for myself, Joe(y) ordered an Old Fashioned. The waitress apologized that they no longer had the bourbon soaked cherries for the Old Fashioneds, and that they only had the regular maraschino cherries.

Wait. Back up. BOURBON SOAKED CHERRIES? Yes.

So. Of course. We then decided it was necessary to make our own. Somehow, there were fresh organic cherries for sale in December where we get our produce. We found a basic recipe online on how to preserve cherries whole in sugar syrup. But we can do better than just bourbon infused cherries. We expanded on the idea by including bourbon, cloves, orange peels and fresh ginger slices.

Yes. I’m totally pitting the cherry with a paper clip half unfolded. And yes. It does work! Joe(y) found that tip online (via Martha Stewart, of course).

Now, we haven’t actually been able to try the finished cherries yet. They need to macerate and absorb the flavors (and alcohol!) for at least a week. However, since we canned them in glass jars the proper way, these delicious cherries should last months in the fridge/pantry.

I snuck a taste of the syrup/bourbon/cherry/awesome concoction and, um, it was pretty freaking delicious. I can only imagine that the finished product is going to taste 5 billion times better. If that’s even possible.

These are going to make great gifts to friends and family for the holidays. It was also a fun way to spend an evening at home with Joe(y). We took turns between photographing and food prep and created something pretty awesome. Enjoy!

To do this, you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of fresh cherries
  • A bottle of your most favorite bourbon and/or whiskey
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • Small to medium piece of ginger root
  • One orange
  • Whole cloves

Wash the cherries in water and then pit via the method above. Prepare the mulling flavors by piercing orange peel with whole cloves. Slice fresh ginger into round chunks, each about a half inch thick. Set aside.

In a pot, bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil. When the sugar dissolves, add in the orange peel, cloves and ginger. Lower hear and let simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the syrup through a strainer to remove cloves, ginger and orange peel.  Return liquid to heat and return to a boil.

Add in one cup of cherries. Leave in for about 2 minutes to allow them to blanch. Remove with a hand strainer and set aside while repeating until all of the cherries have gone through this process.

Save about a cup of the syrup and add to it 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, again allowing the sugar to dissolve. Then, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add in about three cups of bourbon. Mix well. Fill jars with cherries and cover with whiskey/syrup mixture.

Seal. Wait. (Like, at least a few weeks.). Love.

Depending on how properly you can these, they will last for several months if stored properly.

Vegetarian dinner for a meat eater. Grill edition.

24 Jul

Sometimes I have to grill vegetables instead of meat because I am in a relationship with a vegetarian. It’s okay! Thank you for your sympathy, but I still get my fill of carnivorous treats in my diet on a regular basis.

Tonight was one of those nights though. Where you just want to grill something other than meat. So I turned vegetables into a full meal, and it was enough to satisfy my dinnertime hunger.

I prepared the following three things on the grill:

1. Grilled zucchini rolled with fresh farmer’s goat cheese, baby spinach and basil.
2. Portabella mushrooms marinated in a homemade balsamic pesto.
3. Corn on the cob.

One of my all time favorite things to grill would be number one above and it is completely simple to make. Start off by cutting the zucchini lengthwise into strips.

Then, cover them with olive oil, salt and pepper and put them on the grill for a bit.

Once they’re cooked, gather everything else you need for rolling them up in one spot.

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Thinking about… Joy the Baker

13 Jul

So if you’ve read anything of mine over the past few months, you may have noticed I have been a bit preoccupied with the likes of Joy the Baker. Yes, Joy is a baker. And yes, she does it incredibly well.

Just ask Saveur, who named her blog the Best Baking and Dessert Blog of 2011. Also, the London Times granted her website the distinction of being one of the Top Fifty Food Blogs in the World (Yes, in the WORLD.)

Also, she has a highly popular and equally enjoyable podcast available on iTunes, where it debuted in May as the #9 most listened to podcast of the week. Go listen after you check her website and finish reading this interview, but before you make dinner.

I got the chance to sit down and chat (via video internet amazingness) with Joy. The resulting text below is what I have strung together into some semblance of an interview after nearly an hour of pretty awesome banter.

Joy doesn’t really like the woods. Or Ke$ha. She does, as one would expect, like to go out for dinner and cocktails. She likes to put Maker’s in her tea. And I am very much okay with all of it.

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Make your own ginger syrup / ginger ale.

27 Jun

So I love Ginger Ale. And I love any sort of drink that I can put Ginger Ale into. I don’t however, enjoy the fact that I’m drinking soda. Yes, I buy the 365 brand to make myself feel better. But what is a way to feel even less guilty about drinking soda? Making it yourself.

It’s actually pretty simple to turn this:

into this:

Once you have your ginger syrup all made, you can add it to club soda to get the perfect ginger taste of your liking. With a dash of bitters to even it all out.

Or you can add it to your favorite whiskey. With a splash of club soda. And some orange flavored bitters. And a lime.

For a recipe on how to make this syrup yourself, make your way over to Ms. Joy the Baker.

(Also, check out my interview with Joy here!)


Backyard Eats.

20 Jun

Friday night was one of the best weather nights so far this season. It demanded that time be spent outside in the yard. Uncovering the BBQ and tossing on some incredible tasting goodness. Talking about life and gardens and drinks and so on.

My friend Kree came over and brought an amazing cut of pork that had been marinating for hours beforehand. We found some assorted accompaniments in the house, such as red potatoes and onions. Joe(y) and Kree threw together a salad (which we topped with grilled garlic scapes…OMGZ!) and dinner on the patio was served.

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