June, 2010 Archive

Friday, June 11, 2010

crushed peas with smoky sesame dressing

crushed peas with smoky sesame dressing

I’m not really a pea-eater. 99 percent of pea dishes do absolutely nothing for me, no matter how buttery, minty, creamy or how close they come to winning a Top Chef honor. I enjoy them in Indian food and I won’t leave them on the rim of a bowl of pasta, but you’ll never catch me hoarding a bag of them in the freezer, waiting to meet their end on my stove.

peas in pods and then more pods

But all of this changes when I can find them fresh. Fresh peas, at least for this pea-ambivalent, are a whole different animal: they’re bright and sweet and they have the most wonderful crunch that’s impossible to retrieve from a freezer bag, where they always seem to defrost with a sigh and then a slump. The labor involved in shelling them is virtually nothing — no ends that need to be snipped, as with sugar snaps or slipping from skins, as with favas; they get from field to table with the pop of a pod, sweep of your finger and a quick roll off the counter and onto the floor — d’oh! — because like most cute things, they are also troublemakers.

many peas

Continued after the jump »

Monday, June 7, 2010

strawberry-ricotta graham tartlets

strawberry ricotta grahams

I know what you’re thinking, “Really, Deb? Tarts again?” And I realize that it might seem that I’m in a tart rut, what with those rustic rhubarb tarts and the distinctly tart-looking strawberry brown butter bettys and now these strawberry ricotta tarts. But you see, they’re all very different animals parading under the guise of tart-dom and really — because I am allowed to choose favorites, did you know that? — these are the best ones yet.

to bake
graham tartlets

Because they’re fake tarts. There’s no agonizing crust or shell to deal with, no tart rings or fluted removable-bottom pans, no fillings that need to be whipped just so and crossing your fingers that it doesn’t leak, explode or turn to mush in the oven. In fact, the bases aren’t tart shells at all, they’re essentially graham crackers, which means that they’re essentially cookies, which means that they’re essentially brilliant.

graham stack

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Friday, June 4, 2010

lamb chops with pistachio tapenade

lamb chops with pistachio tapenade

One thing I am realizing about going a long time without eating meat (15 years) followed by a relatively short time eating as a moderately enthusiastic meat eater (5 years and change) is that it doesn’t always occur to you to include it in meals. In fact, I have apparently only made four dishes on the site this year that include meat, and two were briskets for big dinner parties. With a fridge bursting (literally; if you can find room for a jar of mayo in there, you’d be my hero) with spinach and scallions, radishes, real baby carrots, sugar snaps, shelling peas and tiny freshly-dug red potatoes rolling off the top, I can hardly imagine why I’d need to roast a chicken. But when I was going through my (very, very, very long) list of Recipes I Want To Try last week, these lamb chops jumped out at me, promising to at least temporarily break me out of my asparagus — hashed! ribboned! tossed with pasta for one! — rut.

toasted pistachios
flat-leaf parsley

There were three big sells on this recipe for me, the first being Anne Burrell: I love everything she cooks. The second was that these chops are entirely in the kitchen and I had no idea you could make great lamb chops without a grill. Related, reason three is that, I only recently discovered that I like, nay, love lamb chops. Adore them. In fact, I think my enjoyment of lamb chops — versus dabbling in ribs or a vague appreciation of steak — is pretty much the only thing that makes me a “real” meat eater these days, which I define as liking the taste of something so much, you’d even enjoy it plainly, just salt and pepper on a grill. That’s love, right?

capers, pistachios, olives, parsley, garlic
Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

root beer float cupcakes

root beer float cupcakes

It never takes long into the first hot week of the summer for me to get swept up in some sort of dorky nostalgia for a time or place I never knew, in this case, Main Street, U.S.A. with its drugstore soda counters counters, elaborate marble and stainless steel fountains manned by soda jerks serving five cent Cherry Cokes and root beers to bright-eyed youths that always said things like “Sir” and “Ma’am”. Of course, modern times call for modern formats, don’t they? Something you can pack up and bring to a barbecue or picnic? Thus I quickly became consumed with the idea of turning a root beer float into a cupcake; what I struggled to work out were the logistics.

cocoa, butter, root beer
root beer cupcake batter

I started with a root beer cupcake, which was actually a chocolate root beer cupcake, adapted from the Root Beer Bundt Cake in one my favorite cookbooks that I so, so eagerly anticipate the follow-up to this fall, Baked. I was hoping it would make a dozen cupcakes. It made 22. Urp.

root beer cupcakes, ready to bake
Continued after the jump »