Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Berries Jubilee

Strawberry shortcake is a classic dessert, and I've been obsessed with it for as long as I can remember. As a child, I'd wait with bated breath for dessert-time, ever irked when my mother insisted it was so-named because the table is "deserted" from having cleaned one's dinner plate and cleared the way. Even when I was little, I knew the difference between a sponge cake and a shortcake and, despite how groceries dutifully place the spongy yellow pucks next to the strawberries every summer, I would accept no substitutions. Proper shortcake should be like a biscuit or a scone. Not spongy, but crumblingly delicious, at once dry and yet delectably saturated with oil; with flaking crumbs that melt away on the tongue and leave nothing but happiness in their wake.

Pictured: happiness

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Simply Salmon

Simple, classic, foolproof. There are some combinations so basic and endemic across cuisines that writing about them seems almost like cheating. In the pursuit of fresh simplicity, however, I think an old standby is in order. Salmon and dill were made for each other. Salmon is an undeniably oily fish; it's buttery and delicate, the perfect base for dill's bright, clean herbaceous flavor to play against.

Herbaceously amazing

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pigging Out

Pork is a slightly neglected and unappreciated meat in the U.S. Coming in third behind chicken and beef, it can be easy to overlook. Bacon aside, Aaron and I were never huge pork eaters, but when his sister Sarah and her husband Seth started raising and butchering their own hogs, we suddenly had a lot more pork on the menu. The other white meat has a lot to recommend it. It's easy to cook and features a mild, sweet flavor that's more distinctive than chicken and readily lends itself to all sorts of permutations, though they often feature fruit, sugar, and spices to play off the natural sweetness of the meat. To welcome the Spring green leaves, I chose to employ a melange of fresh herbs and a sprinkle of lavender blossoms for extra floral goodness. The end result is a tender, flavorful pork loin perfumed like fresh Spring.

Of course, now it's summer, but you get the idea

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