Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Asparagus in Ambush (Asparagus-prosciutto twists, lemon béchamel)

Spring is always deserving of celebration. Especially after that cruel trick where winter swept in to freeze the first buds off the trees, it's nice to see everything sprouting up, again. In honor of those sprouts, I wanted to do something with asparagus, one of my favorite spring vegetables. I settled on an adaptation of "asparagus in ambush," an old favorite from the Flying Rhino restaurant in Worcester, Massachusetts. There, asparagus and prosciutto are wrapped in a flour tortilla and drizzled with lobster sherry cream. I made some adjustments, trading crisp twists of puff pastry for the tortilla to make a prettier presentation and swapping out the lobster cream sauce for a lighter, lemony béchamel with a little kick.

Roll for initiative

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pi Day (Pineapple mango macadamia nut pie)

March 14, or 3.14, is now celebrated by nerds like Aaron and myself as Pi Day, in recognition of the mathematical constant pi (π). Without pi, we wouldn't be able to formulate geometry or trigonometry. Without pie, I would be sad. At Aaron's office, there's even a pi bake-off, and professional pride dictated that we simply had to enter. As we brain-stormed, Aaron rattled off ideas, including pineapple and mango. I scoffed at both as preposterous, only to eat humble pie as Google Image Search returned a gorgeous photo of this State Fair winner: pineapple and mango with a macadamia nut-studded lattice crust.

Boom.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

By the Slice (White pizza with pancetta and arugula)

While I, in a robotic devotion to efficiency, could be quite content to eat the same meal most days, Aaron demands variety. Except with pizza. Aaron, and perhaps most of the free world, will always be happy to have pizza. We once made mostly pizza for dinner for a few months as a "diet," because it was easy to standardize, control portions, and could be spun into infinite variations. One key element was to always pair with a salad, though who doesn't remembering arguing that pizza was a balanced meal in grade school? This particular pizza, white pizza with pancetta and arugula, has both. 

One-stop shop

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Year's Eats (Black tie mini cheesecakes, cherry sauce)

Happy New Year, everyone! Heading into February, love is in the air, and I always like to include a sweet treat for Valentine's Day. Usually, I've focused on treats for a smaller gathering, but this time around, it's sweets for a crowd. The more the merrier! This recipe for black tie mini cheesecakes and boozy cherry sauce makes enough for 24, so you can splurge with a special someone, have a party for all your friends, or hoard a private stash of cheesecake for days on end. Whatever February throws your way, I've got you covered.

Covered in cherries

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Party Time (Fried goat cheese, charcuterie)

Just because the "Holiday season" is winding down doesn't mean we need to hold fewer parties. I spent the past week planning two for work and more with friends and family, but I don't want to stop. It's all a matter of pacing yourself, and sometimes moderating one's ambitions. Some dishes may be impressive in the demonstrable effort required, but you can still take the easy way out and, with a little attention to detail, still come off with something that looks stunning. Fried goat cheese is insanely delicious and may seem like it takes a lot of work, but it's really quite easy and, gussied up with a few other ingredients, becomes a wondrous display of variety.

Wondrous charcuterie

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Holiday Cheer (Cranberry orange spice cheesecake bars)

For me, the holidays mark open season for baking. Cooler weather makes it more comfortable to blast the oven all day and subtly increases the caloric load, or at least I like to tell myself so. "I'm storing up for the long winter" is a frequent excuse I make, while eating a dozen cookies at a time. At first, I wanted to make one of my mother's requisite holiday recipes: Pecan Tassies. Like miniature pecan pies, nestled in a bite-sized tart shell of cream cheese crust, they've always been a favorite in my family. Owing to Aaron's unfortunate upbringing beside several pecan trees, however, he still suffers from perennial pecan fatigue and refuses to eat them. Seeking a different source of holiday cheer, I settled on cranberry orange spice cheesecake bars: rich, sweet-tart and 100% holiday-approved in color and flavor profile, these are an ideal nut-free treat for the bleak midwinter.

Sweet!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sweet and Savory (Roast pork, pears, and root vegetables)

When my sister sent me half a dozen perfectly ripened pears and my sister-in-law gifted me with a jar of her fresh and local Lucky Bee Farm honey, I knew I had to make something special. I started out wanting to make a honey-sweetened pear upside-down cake, but Aaron invoked our agreement from a few months ago-"honey, stop baking"-and requested something savory, instead. Sweet and savory can be an excellent combination: there's honey in my beef teriyaki and in the barbecue sauce we slather on chicken, but the ultimate sweet meat is always, in my opinion, pork. Something about the pig's omnivorous diet and the practice of finishing meats with specific feeds to affect their flavor gives pork an inherent, unmistakable sweetness. Given a spicy rub of chili, garlic, and fennel, rounded out with some extra-hearty heft from a side of root vegetables, and topped off with a drizzle of honey Dijon gravy, this is a quick weeknight supper dressed to impress.

Impressive?