Monday, June 28, 2010

good food rocks

 So I'm leaving tomorrow for field school in Montana, which should be interesting and exciting and intense, but I've heard that the food will be miserable. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised? See you in August- I'll have to cook and eat lots of great things when I get back to make up for six weeks of camp food.


Fatteh is served for breakfast in Syria, in restaurants and at home. It's filling and delicious and creamy and tangy, and a great way to use up stale pita. My family had a hard time finding a recipe that sounded like what we had eaten, but this tasted just right.

1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup water
salt, to taste

large can chickpeas (1 lb 13 oz)
3-4 pitas, toasted
3 Tblsp. butter, browned
toasted pine nuts
aleppo pepper

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, tahini, lemon, garlic, salt and water.

Tear the pitas into bite-sized pieces and layer in a deep casserole dish with the chickpeas.

Pour the sauce over the pita and chickpeas.

In a small saucepan, brown the butter. Pour over the chickpeas, and top with toasted pine nuts and aleppo pepper, or paprika.

Bake for ten minutes at 300 degrees and serve warm.

blue teeth, blue hearts

I didn't make this pie, Briermere Farms did. They have an astounding variety of delicious pies that are affordable only if you're independently wealthy.

Here's the secret: ask if there are any day-old or frozen pies, they're half price but just as good. All you need now is a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

hot hot pot

This soup usually causes some stress at the dinner table with my family- nothing too serious, mostly what happens is that my father doesn't follow directions and I get irrationally annoyed with him- so we've made it a guest night meal because the preparation is easy, the presentation is impressive, and everything works great when we're all on our best behavior.

Here's how it goes: first you prepare the broth in an electric burner set in the middle of the table, then use it to cook "dippers" such as mushrooms, shrimp, and dumplings. The broth cooks the dippers, the dippers add flavor to the broth, then at the end of the meal you put vermicelli noodles in the broth and eat it as soup.

Vietnamese hot pot

6 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 stalks lemongrass, pounded (or 1 tsp lemongrass paste)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into rounds
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 dried Thai chilies
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tblsp. light brown sugar
1 Tblsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tblsp. siracha
juice of 1/2 a lime

broccoli florets, cut into pieces
1 large sweet onion, cut into bite sized pieces
bok choy, in bite-size pieces
mushrooms, halved or quartered
shrimp, cleaned
gyoza or similar dumplings
peanut sauce or soy sauce for dipping (optional)

rice vermicelli noodles
scallions and cilantro, chopped for garnish

In the electric skillet, bring the broth and water to a boil, and add all the other broth ingredients. Let simmer on low heat for 15 minutes, then remove and discard the chilies and chunks of ginger and garlic.

In the meantime, prepare the dippers (chop/clean/dice) and place in bowls.

Set the electric skillet in the center of the table and let the family and guests cook and eat the dippers. You'll want the electric skillet on high heat the entire time- it should be lightly boiling in order to cook things quickly enough.

When everyone has had enough vegetables, shrimp and dumplings, clear the skillet of any leftover pieces and add the noodles. Let the soup cook for five minutes or until the noodles are tender, then serve the noodles and broth in small bowls with scallions and cilantro for garnish.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

dulce vida

Sometimes life is easy during the summer, sometimes being home is immeasurably strange. Long days and dulce de leche cheesecake, how sweet it is.

Dulce de leche cheesecake squares
(from the most recent issue of Bon Appetit) 

2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs 
2 Tbsp. sugar 
1/4 tsp. cinnamon 
10 Tblsp. unsalted butter, melted

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese 
1 cup sugar 
3 eggs 
1/2 cup dulce de leche 
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl, then add the butter and toss to combine. Press into a greased 9X13 baking pan, then bake for ten minutes at 350 degrees.

For the filling, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth, then add the eggs, beating after each one. After the eggs, add the dulce de leche and vanilla and combine. Pour on top of the crust, and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the filling appears set and the top has cracked.

Cool completely, then top with more dulce de leche, then cut into squares.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I hope my brother is prepared for me to hijack his first week home so I can cook for him. Firstly, I plan to show off my new baking skills at the bbq I'm throwing for him- big soft pretzels as pre-dinner snacks sound just right.

(Make anything miniature and it's automatically 10X cuter.)

Pretzel toppings can be controversial. A great pretzel should be able to stand alone and taste delicious with nothing but some salt and a good beer. That said, seeds and nuts and sugar and spices as pretzel toppings can be fun and whimsical.

My final decision: kosher salt and black seeds for the big appetizer pretzels, sugar and cinnamon for the miniature dessert pretzels.

Black seeds look similar to sesame seeds, but they are slightly more peppery and generally better. Black seeds come from the plant Nigella sativa, and are known under many different names. Mine are from the spice market in Damascus, but they can be bought online at my spice sage.

The recipe I used was given to me with the stipulation that I not share it, but check out this recipe from epicurious for a similar formula.

best brownie ever

I don't tend to use mixes, but I'd always thought that brownies were the one exception that come out better from a box. I'd never made consistently good homemade brownies, and Betty Crocker is so reliable.

This recipe came from Margaret, from her Chocolate Bar recipe book, one of the best among her extensive and wonderful cookbook collection (I think she owns every one of Ina Garten's cookbooks, because the Barefoot Contessa is a goddess, and because she lives in East Hampton and Margaret lives in Southampton, and met her once at a coffee shop.)

Anyway, these homemade brownies reasserted that I can make anything better than Duncan Hines. I served them at a dinner party with honey-sweetened whipped cream.

Best brownies

3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tblsp. cocoa powder
4 oz. butter
3/4 tsp. coffee grounds
5 oz. semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the coffee and semisweet chocolate.

When butter and chocolate is melted, take off the heat and add the sugars, then the eggs and vanilla, then the dry ingredients (combining until smooth after each step).

Pour into a greased 9X13 baking pan, then bake at 350 degrees for 28 to 30 minutes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

bar hoppin'

Taco bar, that is.

Warm corn tortillas
Sofrito shredded chicken
Refried black beans
Roasted poblano strips
Lime red cabbage
Salsa verde
Roasted tomato salsa
Sour cream


How can something be refried if it hasn't been fried first?

Today is a perfect day for a party, I can't wait to sit in the sun with friends and drink and eat.

These beans were part of a taco bar, but they'd be a fantastic meal over rice, maybe with some cheese and cilantro on top.

Refried beans

15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 Tblsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 inch piece ginger
1/2 an onion
1/2 a red pepper
dash hot sauce
salt, to taste

Thursday, June 24, 2010

so simple so good

enough said

wish list

yes please

nutz and chocolate

Don't think that because your gift is a month late that I forgot your birthday, I just needed that long to plan and execute it. Don't think that because your birthday gift is a month late that I love you any less, I was thinking of you on that day, and I am on this one too.

Toffee is delicious, and along with a good book, makes a very great (very late) birthday present. It also keeps well while traveling across the country. Pistachio is an underrated and classic flavor, and too too perfect with chocolate and toffee.

Pistachio toffee
(adapted from Ghirardelli)

3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped and toasted
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch salt
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate

Line a 9X9 (or similarly sized) baking pan with heavy duty tin foil or parchment paper.

In a heavy saucepan, cook the water, butter, sugar and salt over medium heat until the mixture reaches 305 degrees on a candy thermometer, stirring occasionally. At 305 degrees, the sugar should be golden brown. Remove from heat quickly, and slowly stir in the vanilla.

Pour into the prepared pan, and let sit at room temperature for one hour.

When cool, melt the chocolate and spread over the cooled toffee. Gently press the pistachios into the chocolate.

Let sit for one hour at room temperature, then break into pieces.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I take requests

Most cravings should be satisfied, even if they're someone else's. Especially cravings for cookie pie, which upon combining two delicious things, creates something even more fantastic than the sum of its parts.

Today was my first day home after being away for a while. I spent some time in the book store, the kitchen, and the pool. Pretty ideal.

Pie crust
(revised from peach and honey pie)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3 Tblsp. plus 1 tsp. cold water
1 Tbsp. sugar

Cookie filling

2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

For the crust, combine the dry ingredients then cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture has the consistency of course cornmeal. Refrigerate for ten minutes, then pour out onto a floured piece of wax paper. Roll out to desired size and thickness.

To transfer to the pie plate, place your hands underneath the wax paper, flip the dough onto the plate, and trim to fit (patch jobs may be necessary).

Pre-bake for ten minutes at 325 degrees.

For the filling, beat the eggs with the vanilla, then add the sugars, flour and cinnamon and combine. Add the (melted and cooled) butter and incorporate, then stir in the nuts and chocolate chips.

Pour into pie crust, and bake for one hour at 325 degrees.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

more muffins

are better than less muffins.

Testing new recipes is fantastic. These muffins are fantastic. Living and working at a farm/bakery is fantastic. I may never go home (sorry Mom!) or back to school (what degree?).

Spiced Peach Muffins

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4-5 cups diced fresh peaches

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, sugar, and spices. Then add the eggs, milk and vegetable oil and mix (some lumps are okay). The mixture will be a bit dry, then add the fruit and everything will be alright.

Spoon into lined or greased muffin pans until almost full (makes 12-16 muffins), and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

Friday, June 11, 2010

what's the story

morning glory?

The farm first started baking due to garden devastation by deer, and the first bakery items were muffins. Bread came later and muffins were discontinued, but this morning we rediscovered the bakery's beginnings.

Interesting story: these are muffins, not the cupcakes masquerading as muffins that most people eat in the morning. They are light and delicious, but aside from a little sugar and a bit of oil, are wholesome and healthy and all that.

Morning glory muffins

1/2 cup raisins
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups grated carrots
1 apple, grated
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup wheat germ
3 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 orange juice

Cover the raisins in hot water and let them soak.

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices, then add the carrots, apple, walnuts, wheat germ and coconut and combine. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the oil, vanilla and orange juice, then add to the dry mixture and incorporate, along with the (now drained) raisins.

Spoon into greased muffin tins (makes 12 muffins), and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Batter can be refrigerated for up to four days.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

pizza pizza yum yum

Raw materials:

This is what happens when you have extra baguette dough laying around and want to make a pizza on the grill, but don't make it flat enough:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

keen on it

Quinoa is delicious. Need proof? Look how pretty the plant is.

(Photo from
Quinoa squash salad

2 cups uncooked quinoa
4 cups water or vegetable broth
*1 butternut squash, grilled and cubed
15 oz can of white beans
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
lots of salt and pepper

*I understand that butternut squash season and grilling season do not necessarily overlap. If you can't find butternut squash, I'd imagine that sweet potato would be an excellent substitute. 

Rinse and drain the quinoa, then add to a pot with the water vegetable broth (you can scale up or down, just keep the ratio of quinoa to water 1:2). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and sinner for 15 minutes, or until the grain is tender and liquid absorbed.

Grilling the squash adds a great smoky flavor, and you can do this two ways: either quarter the squash, remove the pulp, grill, then cool, peel and cube- or peel and cube then place in a roasting pan on the grill.

Add the cubed squash to the quinoa with the white beans (drained, please!), pumpkin seeds (toasted, preferably), lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Serve at room temperature, eat leftovers the next day and be very happy.