Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Scone Guy

It started out simply enough, I baked Aaron some raspberry lemon scones to bring to work. I figured he and his officemates could use a treat. Heady on the train of requests and compliments that followed, more scones were suddenly in the works. Blueberry one day, lavender another... then came peanut butter chocolate banana, a batch of my original very vanilla bean scones, and, most recently, a double batch flavored with jewel-like dried apricots and slivered almonds. I'm not sure what's wrong with me, exactly, but somehow I just can't stop making scones. I could try making muffins, or cinnamon buns, or a banana bread but, to me, the scone is the undisputed king of the breakfast table. I'm soon going to have to declare a moratorium, as I don't want to just be known as "the scone guy." I'm so much more than that. Regardless, this week found me patting out the dough for scones again.

Habit-forming substances

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hot Potatoes

Lately, I've been obsessing over soups. The perfect answer to blinding snow and biting cold, they make a timely and seasonally appropriate companion. The winter pantry offers no short stock of roots like onions, potatoes, and garlic, and hardy greens like cabbage and kale, but today I extoll the virtues of the humble sweet potato. Naturally bursting with flavor and nutrients, sweet potatoes make a thick, velvety soup with a color sure to brighten up the end of the day. Some of the oldest evidence of human sweet potato consumption dates from Peru 8,000 years ago, spreading to the Caribbean by 2500 BC and Polynesia by 1000 AD. Europeans weren't lucky enough to first taste sweet potatoes until Columbus' famed voyage of 1492. I embraced a general Meso-American theme by including Mayan sweet onion and the smoky spice of chipotles in adobo.

Colorful, flavorful

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Time for Teriyaki

As winter plows on and buries us in polar vortices, I'm always on the lookout for fast, easy dinner recipes that can be finished quickly, without having to sacrifice flavor or quality. I've been borrowing heavily from Nigel Slater's excellent recipe book Real Fast Food, and even begun to ponder Rachael Ray's milieux in a new light. The beef teriyaki recipe I share today, however, is purely a creation Aaron and I jiggered together over much practice of laying a speedy weeknight table. A little leeway taken with a package of minute rice turns this into a quick "one pot meal," and leveraging a hot oven cooks all the ingredients at once with minimal hands-on time. The end result is tender and flavorful, with the luminous gloss that gives teriyaki its name. This recipe feeds a family with ease and can be scaled up to feed an army as needed, but the real beauty, aside from the vivid colors, is speed of assembly.

In a jiffy

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Forbidden Fruit

I was trying to come up with something special for the holiday season, seeking a treat that was not just seasonally appropriate, but also a bit off the beaten path. It seems to me that stereotypical winter desserts always either go straight for the chocolate (not that I can blame them) or some variation of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. Those flavors are all well and good, but ever the iconoclast, I set my heart upon creating a grapefruit cake. Moistened with butter and mascarpone cheese, this rich cake allows the delicately sweet-tart perfume of grapefruit to bloom beautifully.

Sadly less pink than I'd hoped

Thursday, December 12, 2013

To Drive the Cold Winter Away

Jon, my father-in-law, has a French onion soup recipe that is famous throughout our family, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on it. Jon's recipes reflect the instinctive, free-form simplicity of a great home cook-a list of ingredients and a general idea rather than a rigid set of measurements. This is a large part of the mystique of historical recipes, which in addition to amazingly creative spelling, almost never do the math. "Take ye a vasty amount onions, and likewyse a potte full of stronge broth, and seethe it well over greate fyre" is all well and good, but to really guarantee an outcome, you need a formula. I always measure things out when first trying a new recipe or jotting down something for the blog. 
Meticulously measured

Monday, December 2, 2013

Health for the Holidays

I've gotten a little carried away with the baking, lately. I love sweet treats as much as anyone else but, "everything in moderation." I like to maintain the balance. For every cookie, there should be a salad. With winter fast coming on, it's not surprising that cold and raw dishes get short shrift. Once you've walked home with frost-rimed leaves crunching underfoot and your breath steaming in the air, it can be hard to get excited for a chilled supper, but contrasts offer their own delight, so as we prepare to bake, roast, and pan fry all the hot and heavy foods that make Thanksgiving great, I'm actually most looking forward to a light yet hearty salad of raw kale and Brussels sprouts.

Unassuming

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pumpkin in the Air

The long-lingering warmth of summer seems to have inspired especially beautiful leaves this season and I've found myself slowly ambling down the backroads around the bakery to soak in the blazing canopies of foliage. Leafer madness is in the air. Also in the air in high concentrations: the sweet, earthy squashiness of pumpkin. I chose to capture the star flavor of the season by tinkering up pumpkin butterscotch ginger blondies: tender treats that highlight the true flavor of pumpkin, while still enthusiastically embracing a curated selection of its aromatic pairings.

Aromatically delicious