Thursday, February 12, 2015

pecan sticky buns + news!

pecan sticky buns

Long after our son turned one, two, and then three; a good while after my first cookbook was published, which I liked to refer to as my “second” baby, much to the disappointment of grandparents, who were hoping for the kind they could snuggle with; a sizable amount of time after we’d more or less accepted that we’d be a family of three and three only, and thus made a few decisions that might make a fourth human seem a tiny bit poorly planned […adored new apartment with no space for a fourth resident, a second cookbook and expanding midsection racing towards competing deadlines, details] and a couple months after our son started kindergarten and I was a little gloomy because I guess this meant the baby days were really behind us, the craziest thing happened.

toast your nuts, please (!)
simmering the dark caramel

In five months, give or take, I’m going to have to give up these stretchy waistband pants and accidental afternoon naps for good, or so I hear, but not without a fight. But before then, oh boy, I think we’ve got a rather fun spring/summer ahead, and nobody, not a single human on earth is more excited than the future big brother, who has already declared his agenda of teaching the baby the ABCs, to read, to play soccer and to always let it have cookies before dinner, even if it doesn’t eat its vegetables.

an unapologetic amount of goo

Continued after the jump »

Monday, February 9, 2015

oven-braised beef with tomatoes and garlic

oven-braised beef with tomato and garlic

I realize that if you’re scouring the internet this week looking for something romantic to cook for that little Hallmark holiday this weekend, the words “pot roast” probably didn’t cross your search threshold. It’s not sexy food; nobody is writing aphrodisiac cookbooks about bottom rounds and boneless chucks. But if you ask me, it’s something better, something cozy, warm, and classic, which neither steals the show nor keeps you from enjoying it. It’s for people who long ago stopped aspiring to entertain in multi-course and completely exhausting meals (for host and guest) and turned instead to comfort foods that surprise and delight on sleety winter nights. Sure, those individual gratins, galettes, microgreens and shooters of soup look elegant, but none of them have ever gotten the reaction that a massive batch of spaghetti and meatballs, from-scratch lasagne or great big short rib braise with a green salad did. No dessert, frosted, layered or crimped has ever had the delighted reception of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies (dough prepared days before, shh), still on their baking sheet. Why are we pretending we have a team of line cooks at our disposal, anyway?

a quick chop of tomatoes
a head of garlic

My favorite meals can be prepped in advance, often taste even better the second day, require no trips to specialty stores and are hard to mess up. And I’m never, ever able to resist the siren call of a recipe that promises transcendence in less than five ingredients.

ready to braise

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Friday, February 6, 2015

chocolate oat crumble

chocolate oat crumble

I have learned over the years that people have strong opinions about the combination of chocolate and fruit. I don’t judge, I mean, I have strong opinions about pretty much everything, such as the combination of pumpkin and chocolate (no), sea salt-flecked cookie lids (delicious but ftlog, only with a light hand), syrup on pancakes (only if the pancakes aren’t sweet), and how many episodes in a row it’s acceptable to consume of city.ballet. when you’re sick for the fourth day in a row (all of them, what kind of question is that?). What I’m saying is, pretty much the only thing I don’t have rigid views on is the combination of chocolate and fruit.

what you'll need
d'anjous

And yet, when my mother spotted this recipe in the newest and (in my not unbiased opinion — I blurbed it) most charming book from Nigel Slater I said, as articulately as ever, “I dunno, wouldn’t it be kind of weird?” Which is when I realized that I might I have an overly segregationist view of fruit crumbles. To me, they’re a very specific thing, fruit recently plucked from a tree or vine, mixed with sugar, spices if desired, flour or cornstarch to thicken and topped with a crumbly mix of flour, butter, sugar, oats and sometimes nuts. A butter-free, flour-free topping? A buttery almost caramel sauce-d base? Chunks of chocolate?

oats, chocolate, maple syrup, salt

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Monday, February 2, 2015

charred cauliflower quesadillas

charred cauliflower quesadillas

Last week* I mentioned that we’d been on a big breakfast-for-dinner spree this winter, less out of a noble desire for inexpensive, balanced, wholesome meals and more because scrambling eggs at the last minute allows us to go all the way to 15 minutes before dinner to come up with an idea for it, which is meal-planning equivalent of the heavens opening up and glorifying all of my late-afternoon lethargy at last.

scallions, poblano, lime, cheese, cauliflower, "cilantro"
give it an extra chop once cooked

The other kick we’ve been on since the beginning of the year is passing off anything we can put in, on, or near a tortilla as dinner, leading to a steady rotation our go-to fajitas, beef tacos, black bean tacos and, in a mash-up of both the breakfast and tortilla benders, scrambled egg tacos. Many of you asked “how” I got my son to eat such foods as scrambled eggs and tacos, and while I’m tempted to take credit for it (“it’s the rainbow of local organic produce and definitely not the daily succession of pb&j sandwiches I ate while he was in the womb!”) it would be dishonest when it’s been more due to random outside influences. The grandmother of one of my son’s classmates brought in warm — warm! freshly cooked! how I long to be a kindergartener most days! — quesadillas for snack a few weeks ago, and it’s all he’s talked about since. Plus, since it fit into our all-tortillas-all-the-time meal plan, I set about finding a way to pass it off as dinner.

what you'll need + lazy slaw, if you please

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Monday, January 26, 2015

caramelized onion and gruyère biscuits

caramelized onion and gruyere biscuits

We’ve been on a huge breakfast-for-dinner kick this winter and while I’d like to tell you it has been triggered by earnest, respectable inclinations such as the fact that scrambled eggs, toast, and whatever vegetables or citrus salad we can scrounge up from the fridge for dinner is budget-minded, high in protein, fairly balanced and wholesome, the truth is that it’s been mostly about laziness. Once we figured out that our kid would now not only eat scrambled eggs but be excited to see them on the table [although, let’s be honest, doubly so if he can also talk us into freshly squeezing orange juice or a few slices of bacon], a whole world of unplanned dinners were opened up to us. We now can go all the way to 15 minutes before dinner to come up with a plan for it, which for me is meal-planning equivalent of the heavens opening up and glorifying all of my late-afternoon lethargy. I knew this day would eventually come!

two small yellow onions

It’s also led to all sorts of diversions, usually in the quickbread department. Last week, I unearthed a recipe for caramelized onion and gruyère biscuits — that’s right, the butter, buttermilk and baking soda equivalent of French onion soup — I’d bookmarked last year and couldn’t find a single reason not to make them once I realized that they’d be a pan of eggs and a small salad away from a completely respectable weeknight dinner. Nobody warns you about this, but sometimes the problem with ostensibly passing as an adult is that there’s nobody there to question you when you decide everyone can eat biscuits for dinner.

onions, to caramelize halfway therejust about done cooling the onions outside

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