There are plenty of good reasons to make friends with your neighbors. You can always borrow a cup of sugar, they’re conveniently close for impromptu cocktail parties or afternoon barbeques, and you can share a lawnmower. (What, not everyone shares a lawnmower with their neighbors? Well, maybe you all mow more than twice a year.)
We are lucky enough to have the kind of neighbors who, in addition to all of the benefits above, sometimes drop by with treats. Recently it was a dish of petal-pink tender baked rhubarb, barely sweet and redolent of orange zest and ginger. I know, right?
I admit to eating a few stalks straight from the dish with my fingers, and heaping spoonfuls made their way into bowls of yogurt for breakfast. But I have a new cookbook, Good to the Grain, and it has a picture on the cover of some mighty handsome little single-serving rhubarb tarts. I couldn’t resist cooking the remaining rhubarb down into a jam with fragrant strawberries and baking them into delicate and delicious free-form tarts. They’re like the biggest, best jam-filled cookie you’ve ever had. We shared them with the neighbors, of course.
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).
Our strawberry plants are being tended much more diligently than usual this year. I had really given up on the strawberries, as they are such slug magnets and I want the sunniest spaces for my tomatoes and zucchini. But my little girls are not so jaded, and they claimed a huge pot and chose blooming strawberry starts at the plant sale. They watch them closely and water them daily. For their efforts, they have been rewarded with some hard little green nubbins that even the slugs still scorn. June-bearing, my foot.
So I am clearly jumping the gun by buying strawberries so early in the year here in Seattle. But I have seen the photos of your gardens elsewhere, and I don’t want to wait until it’s too late to get this recipe to you. Besides, it’s been an ice-cream-making kind of week around here–it’s never the wrong time of year for that.
This recipe is from David Lebovitz’s inspiring book The Perfect Scoop, which makes me want to make so many frozen confections. This year I’m definitely going to try the parsley ice cream.
When I first meet J, in college, I was wowed by his prowess in the kitchen. He had two specialties: one was a fried egg sandwich, and the other a box of Spanish rice to which he added a can of black beans and shredded cheddar cheese. He made it look so easy. I was smitten.
Later our shared cooking repertoire expanded quite significantly, but J remains a man with a specialty. These days it’s a perfectly grilled side of salmon or an impeccable vinaigrette, but for a few years (about a decade ago) J’s claim to fame in the kitchen was pasta puttanesca. He’d whip up a pan on nights when we both worked late and were too tired to deal with the CSA vegetables or walk three blocks to the nearest restaurant.
We were pleasantly reminded of those pasta puttanesca days tonight with this dish from the NY Times Recipes for Health series. The genius improvement, though, is that this recipe incorporates another family favorite: roasted cauliflower. We used whole wheat pasta because we’re crunchy like that (and it was great), but you do what you like.
And here is where I abandon all pretense of not making scrambled eggs. (For those of you too lazy to click, let me just share that this blog started as an attempt to motivate myself to cook something besides scrambled eggs for dinner all the time.) I made these for breakfast, but you? You who have made no promises about making scrambled eggs for dinner could certainly get away with serving these as a light supper, maybe drizzled with a nice olive oil and sprinkle of herbs, alongside a crisp salad.
Sometimes you just need something simple. This is simple. Perfectly textured scrambled eggs, no added fat, negligible clean-up, 20 seconds of egg-whisking plus 20 seconds of cooking. Courtesy of that Genius Recipes feature I love from Food52.
Let’s just get something out of the way: I am not posting this recipe because these pancakes are the easiest-to-flip pancakes in the world. (They’re not.) I’m posting it because they’re some of the more delicious pancakes I’ve ever eaten. (They are.) And with Mothers Day coming up on Sunday, you just might want a special pancake recipe up your sleeve. Sweet with juicy blueberries, a bit of crunch from the cornmeal and crispy edge, lemon zest singing the high note. You can make them even if you’re not brunching with your mom, you know.
A word about vegan pancakes, and vegan baking in general, really: I used to always think in terms of how to “replace” the eggs in recipes, but Isa Chandra Moskowitz & her Post Punk Kitchen empire have changed that for me. I don’t get the science, I just follow the recipes, but hey, they work. (Have you baked out of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World?) This recipe is from her book Veganomicon.
Back to the pancakes. Give them room, people. The batter is thin, and it spreads quite a bit. If I had a nonstick pan, I would have used it here, but I don’t. Instead, I oiled my seasoned cast iron griddle well and waited until the pancakes were well-browned and released (more) easily with the help of a thin metal spatula. It’s a fine line between well-browned and burnt, however, so keep a close eye as that pivotal moment approaches. And if a pancake buckles as you scoop it up, just flip it and smooth it back out on the other side.
You know how I roll: it’s 10 p.m. and crap, I forgot to make the cookies I promised the PTA I’d bring tomorrow for Teacher Appreciation Week or some such made up holiday. (Not that I don’t appreciate teachers, because I DO. Bless them. Thank you, teachers everywhere. But do I really have to make cookies at 10 p.m.?) (Don’t answer that.)
This has become my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. It’s barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen, a site that I like because I feel confident that Deb cares just as much as I do about food being very, very delicious. And these cookies fit the bill: they’re classic, chock-full of chocolate, and chewy with a crispy edge. What more can you ask of a cookie? Well, I’ll tell you the final way in which they’re perfect: they’re made with melted butter. If you, like me, never plan ahead to have softened butter waiting on your counter to make cookies, this will mean something to you. And if it means nothing to you, lucky you, just go ahead and love these cookies for their other charms.
In a different life, I used to live in LA. I mean, it was this life, but it was a long time ago. After more than a decade, those LA years have receded into a happy, ephemeral recollection of palm trees, of 72-and-sunny, of riding my bike to the beach and farmers market. (I think I was supposed to be have been studying.) They were lovely years.
Now I live in evergreens, in 50s-and-drizzling, in walking at a snail’s pace with three beautiful children who cannot be hurried as they collect sticks and rocks. These are lovely years as well.
Not much endures in my life from that time in LA, except for the most important thing: a few good friendships. I had the good fortune of spending last weekend with some of those old friends. It was so nice to see them, to catch up, to laugh really hard and spend the day together. And, just as nice, to cook together.
It’s been much too long since we’ve had a pizza recipe on this site. Weeks! I hope that you’ve been carrying on with your weekly homemade pizza night–do you have one of those? If not, do you have another special meal that you serve on a regular basis?
Whether homemade pizza is an occasional or regular indulgence for you, here’s a recent favorite of mine. Roasty-toasty broccoli, creamy-salty feta, perfect saucy egg on top. You might have to work on the timing to get your egg cooked perfectly to your liking, but in my setup (long-preheated 550 oven, hot pizza stone, thin homemade crust) the egg is still just perfectly runny at the moment that my crust crisps up, after about 5 minutes in the oven. Now that’s good fast food.
This recipe was featured in an Eating Well Magazine piece about how to layer on the umami flavors in vegetarian cooking. Which is never a bad idea. Did you know that corn is considered a source of umami flavor? I didn’t, but I can attest that the sweet kernels were welcome in this dish. Miso, soy sauce, tofu, and eggs also play into the deep flavor, and you might even consider adding some thinly-sliced shiitake mushrooms if you come across them.
I’ll be adding this meal to our dinner rotation as we lighten up our cooking for spring. It’s full of flavor, quick to make, and can easily be adapted to accommodate the contents of your fridge. It’s also kid-friendly, which is no small consideration around here. In fact, this “Tofu and Vegetable Stew,” as it was stodgily named in my magazine, is really just a beefed-up (well, tofu’d-up) miso soup with a nice kick of ginger. We made a meal of it by serving it over rice.Continue Reading Hearty Miso Soup with Ginger, Corn, and Tofu (click for recipe)