If you have a long weekend coming up (and I hope you do), perhaps you’re looking forward to it for the same reason I am—three opportunities, three days in a row, to enjoy an unhurried breakfast. What luxury!Truth be told, these scrambled eggs only take five minutes longer to prepare than the standard sort, an investment that might even be thinkable on a weekday. But those five minutes yield excellent returns: they give you a little crunch, a little creaminess, and a lot of herbaceous wake-up in your bowl. And yes, it’s really just scrambled eggs and toast, but if you have never crouton-d your toast into your scrambled eggs you are in for a nice surprise. Continue reading
And now, ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present the next contender in my happy lineup of drab-looking-but-crazy-tasty soups. Oh, what’s that you say? The soup doesn’t look half bad with those perky green bits on there? Well, those are little kale specks that I sprinkled on for the photo because I had no dill or parsley in my fridge. For you, friends, a splash of color, since I have a feeling that all-brown soups, even if deserving, are not adequately appreciated by the food-blog-reading public. (Oh, I crack myself up. It’s hard to take my perceived obligations as a food blogger seriously sometimes. Most times. I mean, I can’t even get into Pinterest.) And those little green specks just scream, “this soup is deserving!”…don’t they? (Do they?)
In any case, the point is, I loved this soup. I think you will too. Continue reading
Have you entered this week’s cookbook giveaway yet? You have until Monday night to enter!
In some circles the kale salad is probably passe already, but let’s just agree not to be so hip that we can’t enjoy a good thing, ok? I was briefly missing this summer’s Grilled Kale Salad with Ricotta and Plums, but it has already been replaced in my affections by this new winter favorite. It’s from the Skillet Cookbook, a new release from my local hipster diner, the Skillet Diner. I go to the diner just for this kale salad. I bought the cookbook just for this kale salad. I love this kale salad. 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).
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)
I love savory bread puddings for so many reasons. This one is packed full of vegetables and has all four food groups in one baking dish (you know how I love a casserole). You can make it ahead of time and have it cooling on your stovetop when your brunch guests arrive. The texture contrast between the crisp browned top and the savory custard within is lovely. And it’s a thrifty way to use up bread that’s past its prime. Actually, let’s just call that bread that’s in its bread pudding prime.
This is not a terribly pudding-y bread pudding. It’s hearty fare, not a delicately quivering cream custard (those make good bread puddings too, but you’ll need a different recipe for that). As always, you can vary the ingredients here, but I think the essential thing is to make sure that the eggs and vegetables are well-seasoned with salt and pepper and/or herbs, since a plain bread adds more texture than flavor to the finished dish. (Or you can use your leftover beer bread, as I did, or another strongly-flavored bread, in which case it adds a flavor of its own.) Continue reading Savory Bread Pudding (click for recipe)