Winter Archive

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

blood orange olive oil cake

blood orange olive oil cake with honey blood orange compote and whipped cream

I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect olive oil cake for some time now. I was hoping for one that would use olive oil alone for fat, and resist the temptation of butter, you know, better than I ever have. I was hoping for it to bake in a loaf pan, as rustic everyday cakes should, have a slight crunch at the edges, like a beloved one at a nearby coffee shop does. And above all else, I wanted it to be plain, simple, maybe a little zest for flavor but more less, about the olive oil which needs little in the way of a supporting cast.

blood orange segments

Well, I found most of those things, but I was tempted as most of us are in wintry areas by the startling red-rust-maroons of blood oranges and they landed up in the mix, too. Melissa Clark is convincing like that. Who is she? Well, take a walk over to your cookbooks shelf, if you will. Recognize any of these? Then you already know her. This woman has worked on more cookbooks than I can count on all of my fingers and toes (kindly, Jacob lets me borrow his from time to time, or he did until we did this to him) and has been writing the Good Appetite column for the New York Times for several years. So, when I learned that she was writing her own book, with her own recipes, under her name only, I was delighted. Her stories are brief but warm and her book seems like a natural fit for anyone who enjoys reading food blogs.

blood oranges, some red

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

baked potato soup

baked potato soup

We’re on day two of something called a “wintry mix” which I suspect if I lived in one of those places where one was forced to wear shorts and sunglasses in January, eating food plucked recently from the ground (pea tendrils, anyone?) I’d imagine constituted a fun day of mixed winter activities, like snowfall fights followed by ice skating and then, if you’re not too tuckered out, some hot cocoa before you head home. Alas, a “wintry mix” is the precise reason my only current goal in life is to flee to someplace tropic and sandy.

russets
peeling and cubing

And make soup. Except, me and soup have been on unstable terms this year. I know its the “right” thing to eat this time of year but my relationship with soup has been near-irreparably damaged by too many bowls of vegetables boiled to death in an oversalted broth, soups assaulted with so much cream that whatever healthy things in there cannot be tasted, and in what I imagine had to have been some sort of practical joke, a soup I ordered from from a cafe a few weeks ago that tasted, smelled and sloshed about like freezer-bitten spinach pureed in water. (It cost $6.95.)

leeks

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

chard and white bean stew

white bean stew + crouton + egg

High on the list of dishes I’d like to be able to make without a second thought, a special trip to a special store and that I hope to still be cooking when we spend our days in his-and-hers creaking rocking chairs, lamenting that Jacob never calls us anymore, is a hearty white bean stew.

chard
quick-cooking the greens

And never has my need to get a recipe like this down been more urgent, given the following confluence of events: 1. A kid who is getting more and more into rejecting food, but shows a keen interest in beans and anything cooked in a tomato-y sauce. 2. A mama who is near the end of her tether trying to fit an impossible amount of ingredients in her 2 (yes, two) kitchen cabinets and revels in a recipe that will use up multiple cans of beans, a box of tomatoes and a carton of broth and 3. A website audience that will likely hightail it out of here if I present you with one more recipe in a row that hinges on cream and booze, butter and cheese, butter and sprinkles or butter and wine. It’s January, after all, and we have resolutions to attend to! Resolutions that probably do not include butter… That’s for February, after all.

carrots and scrapings

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Friday, December 31, 2010

milk punch

bourbon milk punch

Old as it may be, I hadn’t heard of milk punch before a few weeks ago but can assure you, I’ve thought about nothing else since, not blizzards, not book deadlines and not how long it will take for all of the molars to show up so we can get back to sleeping again. Nope, nothing but milk punch. An avid fan of eggnog — also, John Denver & The Muppets Chrismas album, carolers, chestnuts roasting on open fires and all sorts of things that are probably not expected from girl who celebrates Hanukah — but wary of all of the raw eggs and too impatient to tuck it away for anywhere from three weeks to a year to mellow flavor, milk punch seemed right up my alley.

milk and half-and-half
knob it

Like all great drinks, it has an equally great history. Namely, that if you’re using it to cure whatever ails as you ring in the new year (or tomorrow, as a hair of the nog that bit you and yes, I do crack myself up) you’re doing it absolutely right as milk punch was initially concocted not as what I unbiasedly believe to be the coolest thing you could mix up at a party tonight but as medication. Apparently, people drank it in colonial times (even Ben Franklin had his own recipe!), people drank it on Mississippi riverboats but then sometime around World War 2, it fell off the map everywhere but New Orleans. Ah, New Orleans, this is just one more reason we like you.

sifting powdered sugar

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

roasted chestnut cookies

chestnut polvorones

As if I needed any further evidence that I was meant to live in Paris, it is my firm belief (though based only in fantasy) that at any time of the year over there, I will have unfettered access to things made with chestnuts, one of my favorite foods that only get a lukewarm reception in this country. Sure, we roast them on “open fires” in December (in our smoking jackets, of course, while our dog brings us the evening paper) but the rest of the year, they’re relegated to nostalgia. Even in New York City, I rarely see such delights as chestnut paste, which I attempted to smuggle back into the country after our last trip, not realizing that airport security would consider it a liquid and force me to throw it away (I still get a little weepy when I remember this). And don’t even get me started on our woeful absence of marrons glace, or candied chestnuts. Okay, fine, get me started.

roasted

In short, they are an obsession. I think they’re one of the most delicious things on earth and thus, it would be only logical that I would make them and share with you how you could do so at home. Except, I’ll never make them because they’re exceedingly fragile and time-consuming to make and were you to try, you’d quickly realize why it is de riguer to cough up five dollars for a single one at a candy shop. “Come on, Deb” I hear you saying, “That’s rather defeatist of you!” but here, let me tell you what the very first step is in candying chestnuts: roast the chestnuts and peel them in one piece. And now let me show you what happened the last time I tried to:

i am very bad at this

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