The rules below are mine. What are your ideas or family traditions for feeding the vegetarians on Thanksgiving? Please share your own insights—or feel free to request advice!—in the comments. Continue reading
I’m not going to disappoint anyone by telling you that banana bread is really cake, right? And this banana “bread” is no exception. It has a couple of healthful flourishes, yes–whole wheat flour replaces some of the white flour, and olive oil and yogurt stand in for butter–but it remains a sweet, dense, chocolatey cake.
And to be honest, I like whole grains in sweet baked goods at least as much for their hearty flavor as for any health benefit they confer (I mean, we’re still talking about cake here). These whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, this rye flour zucchini bread (also a cake, of course)—the whole grains add a layer of flavor and texture that leave more refined baked goods tasting rather insipid in comparison. Continue reading
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It took me all summer to get around to making zucchini bread. I don’t have a go-to recipe, and I wasn’t feeling inspired. I didn’t want spices. I didn’t want nuts. I didn’t want chocolate.
I wanted this, although I didn’t know it yet. Butter, infused with basil and mint, so flavorful and delicious that I almost canned the baking idea in favor of just tossing that butter with shredded zucchini. (I’ll be doing that too, you can be sure.) The subtle tang of rye. A little sugar, but not so much that you couldn’t still slather a slice in raspberry jam. And we have. Oh, we have. Continue reading
Let’s start with this: I’m not at all above feeding my kids a box of mac and cheese, or declaring that it’s leftover night and wishing everyone good luck, or piling us all into the car to go out for ramen. But I do try to make dinner for my family with some frequency.
Do you know this nice blog called “Dinner: A Love Story“? I was just introduced to it recently. It’s all about feeding your family dinner every night and of course they have a new cookbook (who doesn’t these days?), apparently full of recipes and strategies for feeding a family of picky eaters without going crazy. I should probably get that cookbook.
But in the meantime I thought I’d share a tip of my own. One of the ways in which I manage to get dinner on the table on a regular basis is by using the term “dinner” fairly loosely. Some examples: breakfast for dinner? Sure. Sandwiches? If necessary. Tonight’s dinner? These pretzels. The girls gleefully chose their own dips (peanut butter, rhubarb jam, and applesauce), and the grown-ups had theirs with a sweet grainy mustard. I made a pot of that great turnip soup soup as well, but it was certainly the accompaniment to the pretzels and not the other way around.It’s a little time-consuming to make pretzels (you boil these in a baking-soda bath in addition to letting them rise twice), but it was a fun project to do with the girls and the resulting pretzels were very good. They have just the right combination of crispy bottom and chewy center, with a little tang that I assumed was from the rye flour, but Kim Boyce tells me is from the baking soda instead. This recipe is adapted from Boyce’s Good to the Grain cookbook, which I want to cook from front to back after having started with those Rhubarb-Strawberry Cornmeal Tarts recently.
There’s a great-looking recipe for graham crackers, do you think I’ll be able to get away with calling those dinner? Continue reading Soft Rye Pretzels (click for recipe)
Have you ever heard of black garlic? I hadn’t until last week, when I happened across a small new bin tucked in with the mushrooms at my local co-op. The sign said “fermented black garlic.” What? The employees in the produce section were enthusiastic in recommending it but vague about exactly what it was. It looked like garlic, but was slightly collapsed and shrunken, and smelled like a sweet, lightly garlic-flavored soy sauce. It smelled good. Into my basket it went. Later I found that wikipedia link above and determined that I had purchased either a traditional Asian ingredient or a new-fangled food entrepreneur’s invention from California, or maybe some combination (see here for the California producer’s description of how the “magic” fermentation process occurs “behind the closed doors of our patented machine”). Apparently this stuff is all umami and antioxidants and a darling of the food cognoscenti, of which group I am not a member, so that explains why I had never heard of it.
Finding a new vegetable is a big deal for a serious eater. A new taste experience on the horizon! I started researching how to make the most of my intriguing head of garlic. In the end, I didn’t find a recipe that called to me, so I adapted a potato and rosemary focaccia recipe from Food and Wine, which had in turn adapted it from a Daniel Boulud recipe.
I made two medium-sized focaccias, and I used half a head of black garlic to flavor one of them. I roasted thinly-sliced potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, and a couple of minced cloves of black garlic, then I layered more sliced cloves of black garlic onto the potato-topped bread before baking it. I was a little worried that I might have overdone it with all that garlic. (The other focaccia was topped only with rosemary-roasted potato slices as a delicious control group.)So hey, it’s good bread. But the garlic flavor is quite mild, and in my opinion the black garlic’s flavor, at least as I prepared it, doesn’t live up to the bold promise of its alluring scent and striking appearance. But I like strong flavors, and the unexpectedly delicate garlic flavor may be a plus in your book rather than a disappointment. In any case, the midnight-black cloves certainly lend dramatic flair.
Here’s the important question: what should I do with the remaining cloves of black garlic? Have you used it in a preparation that you liked? Do you have some off-the-wall inspiration to share? I’ll give it another go.
I spent a very nice year in Denmark once upon a time. (Yes, I can still remember how to say about two things in Danish.) The country has many charming aspects, one of which is the fine tradition of making a meal out of good things piled on top of bread.
Recently, a similar movement seems to be gaining steam here in the U.S. as well, except that we toast our bread first. I think of the evolution this way: bruschetta (1980’s), crostini (1990’s), toasts (aughts), tartines (isn’t that what we call them now?). Or maybe there’s some other difference, I don’t know. Anyway, here’s a nice way to get away with eating melty cheese on toast for dinner. My friend Daisy at Coolcookstyle made it up by substituting radish greens for nettles in a Nigel Slater rarebit recipe, and I say it was a wise decision. You can swap the greens, swap the cheese, or vary the mustard, of course: the only two essential ingredients are bread and something delicious to put on top of it. Continue reading Green Tartine, or, Radish Top Toast (click for recipe)
There was a period in my life when I had three or four breadmakers. All used, of course, as a breadmaker is the sort of appliance that seems to wander around in search of a home. You probably know a couple people trying to give away bread machines they got for their wedding 15 years ago and never used, and they’re always on Craig’s List for $5, and they carom around on Freecycle like nobody’s business.
So anyway, a few years ago I somehow came into possession of a breadmaker. I hadn’t used one in years. I used it once or twice with, you know, breadmaker-type results, and then it broke. Suddenly I keenly felt its absence. I couldn’t find the same model so I got a different one, and then I did find the same model so I got that too, and maybe I even got a third before I came to my senses, discarded the broken one, and gave the surplus breadmakers away. Phew.
I will say this for my breadmaker: it makes a reliable whole wheat sandwich bread when we run out of the store-bought stuff. And what else do I want it for, really? I usually buy 100% whole grain sandwich bread because I have not found a 100% whole wheat recipe that works in my breadmaker. (Do you have one? Please, please share!) This recipe, straight from the Breadman manual, has been my go-to breadmaker loaf for years. It is moist with a sturdy crumb and a nice crust and it slices just right for sandwiches. You can get it going the night before and have a hot loaf waiting in the morning. It’s worth keeping a breadmaker around for (but just one).
Learn from my mistake and proceed as follows: use a good knife or a food processor to blitz your radishes into bits. Then stir in the remaining ingredients by hand. Adding everything to the food processor and pulsing again left me with watery radish mush instead of tiny radish crunches suspended in creamy, salty, herby radish butter. We spread ours on homemade bread.
I wrote yesterday about how a homemade bread can jazz up any other humble dishes to make a meal. Well, whether or not you made your bread from scratch, I hope you have some handy. Because you’re going to be wanting some as an excuse to eat this spread.
Heidi Swanson describes it as “Dill Butter” in her Super Natural Every Day cookbook, but I like to increase the ratio of goat cheese to butter to play up the tangy creaminess (and so that I feel like I can spread it a little more thickly). This recipe makes a good amount, and although you’ll be happy to have it in the fridge all week long, you might want to halve it if you’re not making it for a party.
You can also play around with the herbs, of course. As made, the dill flavor predominates deliciously, but a wander through the garden might inspire you to take this combination in a different but equally alluring direction.
I like breads that are quick to make and bake. A homemade bread can be assembled and baked in the time that it takes to toss together a pot of soup or a nice salad, and that small amount of additional effort brings so much to the meal.
Some yeast-leavened breads can be made quickly; I mean, check out this oaty little number. And the speed of a beer bread is hard to beat–just stir, dump, bake–but then, of course, it tastes like a beer bread. Enter soda bread, the dowdy but delicious ready-in-an-hour bread of choice in our house. Or ready-even-sooner if you follow the method I used to make these whole wheat soda bread rolls.
This rye version comes from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, and it has many redeeming qualities. It’s made with lots of whole grain rye flour, which gives the bread a dark, attractive color, in addition to providing flavor and health benefits. More importantly, though, it truly is a stellar vehicle for the herby mash of dilled butter and goat cheese with which Swanson pairs the recipe in her book. Or, you know, just butter. Or soup. Like split pea soup. Or (what? It’s not raining anymore where you are?) a brothy springtime soup with fresh peas and asparagus. Continue reading Rye Soda Bread (click for recipe)