Each summer, I fill my freezer and pantry shelves with jam and pickles and applesauce and roasted tomatoes and pesto and all the tastes of summer that I think I’ll need to make it through the Seattle winter. And each year, right about this time, I either start wondering where it all went or wondering how we’re ever going to get through it all. This year it’s the latter.
So here we are: the chickens are laying again, green rows are peeking up in the garden, and although even the rhubarb is a few weeks off, all signs indicate that spring will come again. Which means that it’s time to be working through our winter stores.It was in that spirit that I hauled the last of our apple harvest out from the back of the fridge today. Last fall we borrowed two dehydrators from a friend and dried a few gallons of apples that lasted, oh, right until whenever the girls found them. They loved them. So today when the counter was piled high with apples and I started talking sauce, an intense lobbying campaign was launched from around the height of my bellybutton. Who could resist?
It’s unfortunate that we’re not supposed to eat sugar anymore, because at this time of year I’m zesting citrus like mad and there’s nothing like a little (or a lot of) sugar to tame the delectable bitterness of orange and lemon peels. Think marmalade, think lemon-olive oil cake, think whole wheat quick bread with orange zest and brown sugar. Need more ideas? I loved this recent post from Food In Jars.This isn’t a recipe so much as a good idea: before the next time you peel or juice a (washed, organic) lemon or orange, scrub off the zest with a microplane first. Zest the fruit directly into a bowl to catch every drop of oil and essence from the peel. Add sugar. For this batch I added 1/2 c. granulated sugar to the zest of one orange and half a lemon. Mash it around to help the sugar absorb the flavor of the zest, then leave the bowl uncovered at room temperature for a day or two, stirring occasionally, until the zest is completely dry. Transfer to a sealed jar for storage. Continue reading →
If your house is anything like mine, your floor is littered with hearts and stickers, confetti and sparkles, the uncontainable detritus of the month-long operation that consumes our home at this time every year: making Valentines. The glue! The glitter! The little girls cutting hearts and hearts and hearts and hearts, and the thousands of tiny scraps of paper that float to every corner of the floor! The never-ending sweeping….
I mostly try to just smile and nod, enjoying the spectacle and vaguely hoping that we’ll manage to reclaim the table in time for dinner each night. As you probably know, I prefer to make my own messes in the kitchen.
This is a beautiful dessert all around. Eating it, you’ll notice the tart’s elegant flavors and presentation. But as the cook, you’ll appreciate that it comes together quickly in one pan, which later doubles as the baking dish. Serve a slice hot with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream melting into the sweet collapsed grapes and pooling with the caramelized grape juice, olive oil, and hint of black pepper.
The season of holiday excess is upon us, and one of my year-round favorite indulgences gets its due at this time of year: the cookie. These caraway cookies are a fine specimen—not chocolate, I’ll admit, but otherwise quite good. They have a reliable pedigree, hailing from Maida Heatter’s Cookies, where she describes the “caraway crisp” as a classic Scottish recipe. The flavor is restrained, the caraway and lemon are fragrant but not overwhelming, and the overall effect is a very nice balance of sweet but not too sweet. Continue reading →
It might be heresy to admit at this time of year, but pumpkin pie isn’t really my thing. I make one every year, but it’s only out of a sense of duty. I’ve used canned pumpkin and I’ve roasted and pureed my own. I’ve spiced it up with ginger and with maple whipped cream and I’ve gone rogue and served pumpkin cheesecake instead. Pumpkin pie’s…okay.
No more, my friends. Farewell, so-so pumpkin desserts. Hello, sweet potato pie.
Apologies for the sugar rush this week, but ’tis the season.
There’s a sweet little pie shop in my neighborhood that boasts a bakery case full of the cutest little pies you’ll ever see. Pies in jars, lollipop pies, handheld pies. Little deep-dish pies piled impossibly high with whipped cream or meringue. Itty-bitty mini muffin bite-sized pies. And, of course, the classic larger size.
I love them all, but my special favorite is the Cutie Pie, made in a standard-size muffin tin. It’s substantial enough, but you can get away with eating one all by yourself. In fact, I recommend that you do so. Make them for your holiday table, sure, but be sure to set aside a few moments and at least one tiny pie to enjoy alone as well.