March, 2011 Archive

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

spaetzle

i spaetzle-d!

A couple months ago, we went out with friends to a new Austrian restaurant in our neighborhood and over too much Grüner and Very Large Dark Beers, got in an animated discussion about spaetzle, and how it was the perfect food. It manages to be both dumplings and noodles at once, and as good tangled with cheese and herbs and bacon and vegetables and as it is alongside a hearty braise. It is never unwelcome. And then my friend turned to me, I guess presuming I’m a person who knows how to, like, make things and ask me how it was made. And I realized I had no idea. This never happens — not that I am clueless, as I am routinely clueless, especially in the realm of denim — but it’s rare that I haven’t a single inkling as to how a food is made. But homemade spaetzle, I hadn’t even considered before.

whisking
thick batter, thinned in fridge

Of course, I forgot all about this conversation for a while (see above: Grüner and Very Large Dark Beers) until last week, when I found 5 whole minutes to flip through The Balthazar Cookbook in peace and spied a recipe for spaetzle. Hey, did you know that spaetzle is ridiculously easy to make? That it uses only three ingredients that I’m willing to bet you already have at home? And cooks in two minutes? What I’m saying is: you could have spaetzle for dinner tonight, and I think you should.

with correctly sized holes

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

oat and maple syrup scones

cooling

The Sleep Fairy has left our apartment. I’m not sure what we did to her (I hope it wasn’t my cooking), or what we could leave out (teeth? might she be a distant cousin of the Tooth Fairy? cookies and milk? maybe Santa can help with these things?) to lure her to come back but we were sleeping and now we are not sleeping and we miss it terribly. Also, getting to the end of sentences while still remembering what they were about when we started them.

pot-luck brunch

My in-laws took pity on us last Saturday and invited our charge to notsleep at their place instead for the night. Of course, instead of pulling the shades and waking up a day and a half later, feeling a year and a half younger, we decided to host a brunch because apparently the only thing I miss more than sleep is entertaining friends. It was mostly a pot-luck, anyway, with Ess-a-Bagels, Russ & Daughter’s homemade cream cheese, various goodies from the Manhattan Fruit Exchange and a high chair that got relegated to cocktail ice bucket holding duties in the absence of its assigned toddler. I made thisbakedthing and also theseotherthings that might or might not show up in some silly old cookbook slated for 2012, and also, I made some oaty whole wheat maple syrup scones.

dry ingredients

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Friday, March 18, 2011

tiny poppy seed 'taschen

tiny poppy seed hamantaschen

My track record with hamantaschen — those three-cornered filled cookies traditionally limited to Purim, but shouldn’t be, because did I mention that they’re cookies? And you can fill them with whatever you want? — is abysmal. I can’t seem to find a recipe that allows them to be as fragrant, buttery, delicate and delicious as I believe they were meant to be that does not completely fall apart once baked. I suspect my insistence on finding my hamantaschen nirvana in a cream cheese-based dough — cream cheese, although tangy and delicious, seems to just flop down and laze about like a kitten in the sun once it hits the oven — plays a part although, given, my sealing technique also “leaves a lot to be desired”. The first year I attempted a recipe on this site, they puffed and pancaked open in the oven. The second year was no better. The third and fourth year, I didn’t even bother.

poppy seeds
zest an orange

But this year, I spied a recipe in Wednesday’s New York Times that although cream cheese-free, gave me hope. Plus, I’ve head so much about traditional poppy seed fillings, but confess that I have no experience with them. The fact that this called for one from scratch (as in, not “open a can of poppy seed filling”) delighted me and the cookie, with its egg yolks and butter, seemed to carry all the marks of a great sweet tart crust-ish/sable-like cookie dough.

poppy seed filling

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

sally lunn bread + honeyed brown butter spread

beaming loaf

Four and a half years ago, I shared a recipe for white batter bread which I like to joke was the original no-knead bread for its lazy approach to assembly. I learned about this particular batter bread when I took a multi-weekend bread baking class (cue sigh over pre-baby levels of free time) and even though it was the least hearty, stretchy, hollow-sounding, craggy-crusted or rustic of the breads we made, it was unforgettable because it reminded me of a cross between a cake and a bread. [Also, it was unbearably delicious when sliced warm and slathered with salted butter. Don’t trust me on this, go find out for yourself.]

all mise-d up
adding yeast

Well, it was mostly unforgettable. In the 4 1/2 years since, there have been new jobs, new apartments, new people (hello!), new projects, less sleep, more work and well, even unforgettable things can go and get forgotten until one of my favorite commenters (oh yes, I pick favorites; bad blogger!) piped up on the batter bread post the other day and told me that it reminded her of a Sally Lunn bread, which I had never heard of and immediately had to drop everything to research.

adding butter and milk

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

the best baked spinach

the best baked spinach

On a beach vacation that already feels like it was too long ago, I tucked into the collection of letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto and realized I’d inadvertently brought on vacation with me the very best book ever for my current brand of mental unevenness. Apparently, even the great Julia Child went a little insane writing her cookbook. She fretted over if varied and uneven ingredients would keep her recipes from working as she wanted them to in others’ kitchens and even had occasional bouts of frustration with her tiny, ill-equipped kitchens. And Julia is like my superhero! I was no less than 10 pages in when I already felt better about my choices, the work I had left, life itself, the universe at large… or perhaps it was just those no-good piña coladas and that blue-meets-blue horizon working their magic on me. Nevertheless, I thanked Julia.

overflowing spinach
wilting the spinach

In one of my favorite early letters, Julia gushes about the produce in France: “Strawberries, for instance, are dreamberries, but extremely fragile.* Beans are so deliciously beany…” and goes on to explain that the French hadn’t really gotten onto the system of growing hardier produce that would keep longer in the markets. Amusingly, however, she found U.S. packages of spinach at the grocery store and it from there that she went on a tangent about a French “system” for spinach which she found “terribly good” and went on to describe a gentle cooking of spinach, stewing it in a very small amount of roux for a little binding and broth before stirring in a small amount of cheese and baking it in a dish topped with breadcrumbs.

all that spinach because only this

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