July, 2009 Archive

Thursday, July 16, 2009

arugula, potato and green bean salad

arugula potato and green bean salad with walnuts

I wasn’t kidding last week when I said that I have staged an intervention with myself and am trying my hardest to cook more things at home that can be even loosely construed as dinner. I mean, somehow the farmers markets are bursting with beans and greens and peppers and potatoes and peaches and… And I ate (average) pad thai for lunch. It doesn’t even compute.

arugula

But I still only want simple food. When food is this fresh, little needs to be done to make it stand out, which is perfect as I’m exactly lazy enough right now that I barely want to fuss. I saw this recipe from Martha Stewart a few weeks ago when I was trying to dream up a potato salad that wasn’t so… weighty. Basically, I wanted my potatoes but I didn’t need them swaddled in mayo or sour cream or chopped eggs and pickles… at least not every day.

fingerling segments

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Monday, July 13, 2009

best birthday cake

best birthday cake

Some people find out they’re going to be parents and — you know, after the whole “yay babies!” cheer has simmered down a bit — freak out because they haven’t yet a) traveled the world, b) made their first million, paid off all of their debt and saved up enough for $200 toys for their little snowflake or c) well, grown up yet. But me, I actually had a moment of panic because I hadn’t yet found the perfect yellow layer cake recipe. And apparently — and yes, probably ridiculously — central to my image of the kind of mom I want to be is not to have to turn to a box of Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Butter Recipe Golden (anyone else ever been perplexed by this wording?) cake mix to get a reliably perfect two-layer celebration cake. It’s the Smitten Kitchen, afterall: People have expectations!

siftingegg shellsmm, batteryellow layer cake

But I’m not knocking on Duncan Hines, or anyone else who — like me — thinks they do a frighteningly good job of making a consistently perfect, moist and plush yellow layer cake. It’s just that it has always been on my agenda to crack the code at home, using the kind of ingredients I’m a little more proud to put my efforts behind. And although I’ve made my share of vanilla layer cakes, such as this delicious one for that wedding cake or this one that everyone needs in their repertoire because it is infinitely memorize-able, I hadn’t yet found The One.

yellow cake layers, coolingmaking chocolate sour cream frostingchocolate sour cream frostingfilling the cake

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

lemony zucchini goat cheese pizza

lemony zucchini goat cheese pizza

I’ve been at a bit of a standstill in the kitchen this month. It’s not really a lack of ideas vexing me, but a lack of desire to spend any time in front of a stove or oven now that the weather is so delicious, I believe I at least owe it the courtesy of spending time out in it. Sure, there are savory tarts and summery salads and even another burger bun recipe on my agenda; there’s a cake in my fridge that’s so pretty I will not be the least bit offended if you mount a protest that I am waiting until next time to tell you about it, but I need to level with you: I have not cooked a real dinner for us in over a month. A month! Perhaps longer.

really simple homemade pizza dough
spreading the goat cheese

None of this has stopped me from bringing home mounds of produce each week from the markets. My current (boring) preggo cravings are green beans and summer squash, and I’ve made countless batches of this salad and this sauté but a proper meal, they are not. Today I staged an intervention with myself once and for all. I figure it can’t just be me that is unmotivated to cook a decent, light summer meal and that the only solution would be to create something worth rallying myself — and others — over.

yellow and green zucchini
lemony zucchini pizza

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Monday, July 6, 2009

blueberry boy bait

blueberry boy bait

A few weeks ago, as I was going on about how much I like just about every color and shade of baked fruit desserts, the goofier the name — be it “grunt”, “slump”, “buckle”, or “betty” — the better, a reader named Shirley asked me if I’d ever tried anything called Blueberry Boy Bait.

batter up

And people, seeing as I unabashedly choose magazines for their covers and fawn over the titles of books (“I Was Told There’d Be Cake,” anyone?) that I have no interest in reading, let’s just say that although I had no idea what Blueberry Boy Bait was, I knew it would be made, in my kitchen, sooner than soon. [Well, actually I’d bookmarked it for August, when I believed blueberries to be in season, only to find them at my local greenmarket four days later where I proceeded to plotz from happiness. Bring on the boy-baiting!]

eee, blueberries!south jersey blueberries

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Friday, July 3, 2009

light brioche burger buns

light brioche burger buns

Do you know what this is? This is It. This is the hamburger bun recipe I’d been obsessing, dreaming and fretting over when I had my Incident back in May, which was namely that I’d spent a ridiculous amount of time and ingredients fighting a no-good recipe with a decidedly average finish. Since then, my frustration has faded somewhat, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that perhaps they weren’t the end of the world, they just weren’t the thing I was looking for: they were more of a limp white bread bun — the kind so easily purchased at a store under any generic brand, it made little sense to eek them out at home — and I wanted something a little more moist and rich. I wanted something better, the kind of thing that you knew you weren’t going to get in any plastic bag.

bun batterbuns, ready for second risepouffy bunswarty but i love them anyway

In the six weeks since, I have waded through nearly 100 burger bun recipes, all submitted by you kind folks with promises that they’d be better. I saw white bread buns and challah buns and whole wheat sourdough buns and you-name-it buns and, gah, I barely knew where to begin. And then, just as I was halfway through the early steps of a totally different hamburger bun recipe that, if all goes well, will be a wonderful, unusual complement to these, I dropped that effort completely in the pursuit of the Light Brioche Buns run in the New York Times article this week on the elements of a perfect burger.

light brioche buns

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