June, 2011 Archive

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

blueberry yogurt multigrain pancakes

new blues: wholegrain blueberry pancakes

I had a little crisis on Father’s Day, and unlike the week that proceeded it, it did not relate to a feverish toddler who landed himself in our bed (and proceeded to be well enough at 5 a.m. to stand up and announce the different parts of our face as he poked them “NO” “EYEAR” “AYE” “MOUF”), the gutting of our (single) bathroom so that plumbers could access a wayward pipe in the building or the thin film of dirt left on every surface of every room when they were done working. No, by Father’s Day, most of those things had thankfully righted themselves, leaving only crises of less grave proportions: the blueberry pancakes I’d always known and loved no longer worked for me.

all ready to go
batter, berries, separate

I mean, they work, in terms of technically executing what they’re supposed to. They’re a bit runnier than I remembered, thus making it difficult to flip and bake them through cleanly, but they’re hardly worth complaining over, or so felt the Dad of Honor who found them–as he is contractually obligated to–delicious. We ate our pancakes, showered him with gifts and set off for the playground. But I couldn’t stop thinking about them; they didn’t sit right and I realized that it had less to do with the recipe and more to do with … me. I’ve changed.

studded with blueberries

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, June 23, 2011

linguine with pea pesto

green and bright

Even though I have a lot of book left to write (unless you’re my editor, in which case, just kidding, almost done!) and deadlines both before and after that one requiring my attention, endless paperwork, emails and all sorts of tiresome things on my real-life agenda, I’ve decided to focus my daydreaming on something more aspirational: what to cook on a lazy summer night.

in pods
shucky

We rented a beach house for a week last year but were surprised to find that 11-month olds don’t always sleep in foreign locations. At all. We staggered through the week and ate out a lot. I’d like us all to do better this year. In an area full of farm stands and wineries, with a kitchen bigger than a shoebox, with a grill and a deck, it’s a shame not to be cooking at home as much as we can. But leisurely, with as few ingredients as possible and at least one of them straight off the farm.

simmer briefly

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, June 18, 2011

rich homemade ricotta

ricotta crostini, three simple ways

A few years ago, I made ricotta for the first time. I suspect a good lot of you just read that — the part where I made cheese/played cheesemaker/fiddled with curds and whey in my shoebox kitchen, not because I maybe forgot about a carton of milk for a few weeks in the back of the fridge and conducted an unintentional science project, but just for a good time — inched your cursor to the little X of your browser tab and navigated away. Clearly, this wasn’t the act of a sane person, though that does seem to be the theme this week. The thing is, a good amount of cheese that we eat — mozzarella, goat cheese, paneer, cottage cheese — come down to milk plus acid. What you do from there is your art. Except my first ricotta wasn’t particularly artful. It was a little dry and coarse. We spread it on pizza with jammy caramelized red onions and ate it happily, but it wasn’t the kind of ricotta you dream of. I moved on.

lemon juice for acidity
a thermometer helps

But then I fell in love with ricotta again. I discovered Salvatore Ricotta, made in small batches in Brooklyn, and frustratingly hard to find anywhere else as I want everyone in the world to have a taste just a couple months ago and I’m sure, years after everyone who pays attention, and sadly, for anyone around me who is not my equally ricotta-besotted husband, have spoken about little else since. [You've got to watch the video, okay?] I’ve never had ricotta like it; it’s nothing like the store bought stuff. This is very strained ricotta, almost whey-free, and it spreads almost like cream cheese but with a richness suggestive of whipped cream or crème fraîche. It’s not easily forgotten.

hard to see the curds at all

Continued after the jump »

Monday, June 13, 2011

dobos torte

mine

Last week, when it was ninety million degrees in New York City and all the sane people were cracking open fire hydrants, grilling on their roof decks and/or sticking their faces in their wheezing air conditioner units, I looked around my shoebox kitchen, with its half-counter and miniature oven, considered the sheer volume of items left on my to-do that I’d never get done and said, “Clearly, this is the day for me to make an 11-layer dobos torte.” Because my birthday was two days away and that seemed as good as any to sever what frayed tethers I had left to my sanity. [Plus, I already had cleaning help!]

lots of eggs, lots of yolks
thick, ribbony batter

Growing up, my family and I considered the 7-layer cake to be the ne plus ultra of bakery cakes. They were rectangular, filled with a pale, faintly mocha flavored buttercream and coated, top and sides, with a firmer dark chocolate frosting. I’ll be the first to admit that their flavor wasn’t always spectacular, but did you hear the part about the seven layers? The awesomeness of this trumped all chocolate intensity quibbles. What I hadn’t realized, however, is that the historical home of this cake was not (shockingly) a circa-1980s Central New Jersey strip mall bakery, but a Budapest, Hungary specialty food shop where one József C. Dobos invented it his namesake torte in 1887, which became so famous that the city threw a full scale city-wide fete to celebrate its 75th anniversary. That there is some cake.

puddle of batter

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

roasted peppers with capers and mozzarella

with mozzarella

Most of the time, I don’t choose the recipes I share here, they choose me. I’ll be bumming around, reading my epics, keeping to myself when suddenly the urge for rhubarb muffins will come upon me, and I will have no choice but to address it, or remain distracted until I break down and, you know, address it. Other times, the market controls me, as will happen when you live in a climate that deprives you of field-fresh produce for over half the year, leaving you to go completely berserk and overdo it in the months that you’re graced with it, bringing home buckets when you only have enough stomachs in your family to require a small armload. But with a 20 months of parenting under my belt, I’m long overdue to introduce a new reason to cook: my toddler; he’s got cravings too.

red, orange and yellow bells
roasted and blistered

It started one night at Motorino when he was in the middle of another of his hunger strikes conscientious dissenting against his mama’s cooking phases where he’s just not that hungry and we ordered both the roasted pepper salad and appetizer meatballs in hopes to quietly tempt him into eradicating crankiness through the consumption of life-sustaining calories enjoying good food. And lordy, he went nuts for the peppers. Slurp, slurp, slurp, it was hard to believe that just hours before he’d overturned his lunch in disgust. A week later, we returned (I’m currently fixated on a certain pizza, you see) and the peppers elicited the same reaction. And so it only made sense that I would recreate the dish at home.

peeling, not so pretty

Continued after the jump »


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