August, 2009 Archive

Friday, August 14, 2009

grilled eggplant and olive pizza

grilled eggplant and olive pizza

A few months ago, a friend called to say that she was telling her office mates about how I love to grill pizza and they set to searching for my recipe on this site and couldn’t find it. Gulp, I said, I’ve just never written it up! From that day forward, I made it my Summer Priority to walk you through pizza on the grill, but I have failed at each turn. Either we’ve made the pizza too late in the evening and the pictures came out anything but appetizing, or the day I decided to try again, it has rained. Seriously. If you want thunderstorms to suddenly threaten, let me promise to make you grilled pizza for dinner.

18 green oliveseggplanteggplant, grill pangrilled eggplant slicespizza dough, part whole wheattopped, ready to finish cooking

Last night was the final straw, or the day I finally threw my hands in the air and declared that a proper introduction to grilled pizza will probably have to wait until next summer. (Fortunately, Jen and Dietsch at Last Night’s Dinner won’t make you wait that long.) I have had this grilled eggplant and olive pizza on the agenda even since I spied it in this month’s Gourmet and knew that it immediately needed to get in my belly. Four days later (a typical time lag these days from “idea” to “execution”, sadly) I had the ingredients amassed, the energy to give it a try and even a friend’s yard to grill in, thus of course, the weather went downhill. But I persevered, climbing into the far reaches of our linen closet where we stash kitchen stuff that doesn’t get much use (whispering hello to my 12-inch wedding cake pans and canneler molds), unearthing my cast iron panini pan (hey, close enough, right?) and setting to grill to my heart’s content, weather be damned.

grilled eggplant and olive pizza

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

espresso chiffon cake with fudge frosting

espresso layer cake, fudge frosting

Of course, there was also cake. I mean, you didn’t think I’d let my better half’s 35th birthday go by without some homemade, stacked and butter-laden goodness, did you? Right, I didn’t think so.

egg whites, soft peaksfrothy cappucino-like batterespresso chiffon cakes, coolingbrushing the cake with more espresso

Now, no introduction to a birthday cake for Alex would be complete without a brief tour of the cakes from years past, when there has been an Icebox Cake, a Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake, a Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake and the cake that you all liked so much, it broke the server’s back for a harrowing day or two last year, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. Did you sense a theme or something? There Will Be Chocolate, Like You Even Needed To Ask.

instant fudge frosting

Continued after the jump »

Monday, August 10, 2009

lobster rolls

lobster roll

Alex and I have kind of a thing for Maine, after going to Portland a few years ago and becoming instantly smitten: the weathered barns, the hand-painted signs, wild blueberries and, well, you know the lobster aplenty.

claws and tails
lobster meat, chunked

And so, with our anniversary approaching and the looming deadline of babybabybaby, we decided to head back to Kennebunkport for a long weekend later this month. Except, somewhere along the way I got really, really pregnant (funny how those things happen!), I mean like super-pregs, I mean staggering bursts of productivity (the doorways have been detailed) followed by four-hour recovery periods (this whole upright thing is exhausting) and suddenly the thought of a six-hour drive each way a mere three weeks before a due date I’m not buying seemed… ill-planned. Thus, we’ve decided to postpone our trip until a hopefully less waddlesome time.

pearl oyster bar's lobster salad

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, August 8, 2009

summer pea and roasted red pepper pasta salad

summer pea and roasted red pepper pasta salad

I’ve spent way too much time this summer trying to dream up a pasta salad that wasn’t boring, or predictable, or well, you know, the kind of familiar pasta salad territory you don’t need me to go over for you. Because I love a good pasta salad, I just don’t find them often. Usually, they’re missing the freshness you’d expect from something you eat in the summer, when the markets are bursting at the seams with peak-season produce. Often the dressing is a throw-away, either a too-plain vinaigrette or heaps of mayonnaise, lending itself to more of a mass than a salad. So I knew what I didn’t want, I just hadn’t figured out what I did.

fresh peas in pods

Not for the first time, the inspiration came from a little French restaurant in our neighborhood, which along with the usual deliciousness — roasted chicken, steak frites, mussels, yes please — always tucks some sort of straight-from-the-market freshness on the specials. It said “Five Bean Salad” but what arrived was a plate, no, platter of al dente shell peas and snow peas and skinny green beans and fat yellow beans and sugar snaps and cranberry beans and favas, tossed in a roasted red pepper sauce with little bits of chevre tucked within. It was like a plate of summer, and even though I am so not the finish-your-plate-even-if-you’re-full-type the thought of letting even one fresh pea go to waste felt even more wrong and so I ate the whole thing and look at that folks! I guess preggo finally has her appetite back. Or was emphatically craving green vegetables.

snow peas

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

lighter, airy pound cake

lighter, airy pound cake

Old-school pound cakes come with their own easily-remembered formula (a pound of butter to a pound of sugar, eggs and flour) with leavening only coming from the air one whips into the batter. But just because it’s the classic way to do it, doesn’t mean mean I don’t think most pound cakes need a little extra creativity to keep them from becoming foamy, forgettable bricks. You can swap out some of the butter for cream cheese, as I do in my favorite non-traditional pound cake recipe, you can add loads of lemon, baking powder, baking soda and buttermilk, rendering something that is impossibly delicious but really, a pound cake in name only, or you can do as James Beard does, and apply smart cake-baking techniques to improve the predictable.

sifting sifting sifting
sifted sifted

What drew me to this version from Beard that I’d bookmarked some time back was the subtle tweaks he’d made to the classic recipe: a little bit of baking powder, slightly less sugar and the real stroke of smarty-pants insight, separated eggs with the whites whipped so that they can add a volume and lightness old-school pound cakes lack. (What’s good for pancakes is even better for cakes.) Oh, and the fact that he flavors it not with vanilla extract, as most American chefs would, but with a shot of cognac and some lemon zest, my my. I had to find out.

whipping egg whites

Continued after the jump »


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