As a food blogger, I often feel pressured to write recipes that present with a certain “wow factor.” I think it’s in part about wanting to be innovative and interesting, and when I develop those kinds of recipes I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment, like I’m really stretching my creative muscles. Plus, the pretty, complicated, or outside-the-box dishes are a fun addition to any food-centric narrative.
I think that it can be easy to get caught up in cooking to impress, though. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to flaunt your culinary prowess, but it’s not exactly a sustainable daily practice. It’s certainly not the norm around here, especially as of late. Sometimes you just need to eat. Still, when deciding what to make for dinner, there are many times when I find myself questioning whether what I’m about to cook will be blog-worthy.
I realize that I’ve waited until we’re squarely out of summer and smack in the middle of winter squash season to share this recipe, but I’m going to stare pretentious foodie dogma in the face and say no biggie. You can wait for next year’s glut if you like, or you can just pick up a couple zukes from the grocery store and turn out this mind-blowingly easy side dish tonight. I mean, let’s be honest here—an in-season zucchini is not as big a deal as an August tomato or a fresh June strawberry.
I’ve mentioned before that I used to not be such a fan of summer squash—though that fact is hardly worth mentioning anymore since I now love it and keep finding so many new ways to use it each year: sautéed and stirred into a pasta sauce, tossed briefly over high heat in a stir-fry, or roasted soft and sweet. I’m realizing more and more, however, that my favorite way to enjoy zucchini in particular might be raw.
I recently got my hands on a packet of dried oyster mushrooms from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. It seems that mushrooms from this region have quite the reputation. As in, they're supposed to be seriously good. Not one to buy into hype without some first-hand experience, I wanted to really give these 'shrooms a taste. This meant I'd need to use them in a way that would let their flavor shine, and adding them to a simple risotto seemed like the perfect way to do just that.
Risotto is one of those things that, for some reason, has developed a reputation for being difficult to make. Don't get me wrong, I have seen people mess it up--and royally--but I have a feeling those mishaps have more to do with a misunderstanding of what risotto is. Risotto is not merely rice with stuff in it. Rather, it is a creamy, comforting dish and a canvas for a multitude of flavors.
A few months ago, Chris and I found a coupon for something called the BluePrint Cleanse. I'd seen the name around and had always been sort of curious about trying a juice cleanse, so we decided to give it a go. We didn't do anything extreme, just a day, but found that the juices were really delicious and that we both felt great afterward. We also chose to schedule our cleanse for a busy day, when cooking or thinking about meals would have inevitably led to stress; it was nice to have things planned and made for us in advance. We've done it a couple times since, and we'll definitely do it again. For us, it feels good to give our systems a break.
We wouldn't do it if the juices didn't taste fantastic, though. Every last one is great. I often have a hard time deciding which is my favorite--usually it's the one I'm currently drinking. The green juice strikes a good balance between vegetal and lightly sweet, the spicy lemonade (a nod to the Master Cleanse) is zingy and energizing, and the pineapple apple mint--Chris' favorite--is a refreshing treat (if you have a juicer, Tracy from Shutterbean has a homemade version here). The last bottle of the day is filled with cashew milk and, after a day of light juices, the richness of it is super comforting.
I personally love the cashew milk, and I look forward to it each time we cleanse. Chris, on the other hand, likes the taste of it but has a hard time with the texture. It is a little bit grainy. As we were drinking our cashew milk during our most recent cleanse, I said to Chris, "You know, I could probably make a version of this that would taste pretty similar and just strain it through some cheesecloth so it would be smooth." He was on board, and that's exactly what I did.
Okay, so I know this is late. We’re almost halfway through September (what?!) and this is adapted from the August issue of Bon Appetit. I’m going to go ahead and blame the earthquake and the hurricane that happened over the course of a single week here in NYC (again, what?!). Now is probably better timing for this recipe anyway—and trust me, you’re going to want to make it now.
Welcome to month seven of the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally! If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are interested in reading more about what the Rally is all about, check out the post from our inaugural run when we all shared ratios and recipes for pancakes. This month we’re sharing our recipes and ratios for doughnuts or fritters. I chose to work with fritters, for which Ruhlman notes that the ratio is simply that of a muffin without the fat:
2 parts flour : 2 parts liquid : 1 part egg
When I was in high school, my mom randomly brought home a book one day. I won't call it a "diet" book--it was more like a fitness plan. She read it and then I, curious, read it as well. It was a smart plan, based on solid science of the body, and we were both inspired. We knew we could be living and eating better (at the time, I was hardly eating at all), so we decided to partner up and start taking care of ourselves. Six days each week, we got up together at 4am and exercised, alternating between cardio and lifting. We ate several small meals throughout the day and I stopped counting calories. As part of the plan outlaid in this book, it was also required that one day per week be a free day.
I'm one of those cooks that likes to use every last bit of something. Well, I try to be one of those cooks. Okay, so the truth of it is more like: I really want to be one of those cooks. I have bones in my freezer from months and months ago that I fully intend to make into stock...one day. And if someone can give me a use for the liquid that I strain out of my homemade yogurt each week, I will be eternally grateful. See? I'm working on it. And a recent endeavor made me aware of one thing that I will now be saving to bring myself closer to full-blown domestic goddess status: egg yolks.
I'm sure those of you who follow me through Twitter or Facebook are aware that this week is unfolding in the aftermath of something tragic. I apologize for inundating you all with messages and re-tweets about this for the past few days, but, quite honestly, I haven't known what else to do. I had posts scheduled for this week, but every time I sat down to to write, I couldn't. It felt so trivial to talk about pasta.
If you don't already know Jennifer Perillo, you should. She and I met through our blogs and through Twitter. She's a smart, endeavoring woman, always making things from scratch, and she shares her heart as openly as she shares her recipes and kitchen tips. I've admired her since I very first found her words. As we started getting to know each other better online, one of us would occasionally throw out a "We should meet!" or a "Seriously, we should get together!" It's always easier to say and feel it than to make actual plans.
About two weeks ago Shauna was in town, swinging through NYC on her way to Big Summer Potluck 2. On the day she arrived in the city, she gathered a group together in Central Park for a picnic to celebrate Danny's birthday. Chris and I were there. In the days leading up, I was so hoping Jennie would be there too. She was, with those signature sunglasses perched atop her head. We met and hugged, happily, finally. I met her two girls and was nothing less than impressed. Not only were they every bit as pretty as their mama, but these two kids are a couple of the smartest and most outgoing children I've ever met. They were an utter joy to talk to.
Halfway through the picnic, Jennie's husband Mike joined us. We all said hi when he arrived and then settled back into snacking and chatting. The evening was comfortable and easy. It was so good to see everyone and to meet many people for the first time.
The picnic wound down naturally and we all said our good-byes. There were talks of "the next time you're in town" and meeting up "sometime soon for coffee". Next time. Sometime.
Welcome to month six of the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally! If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are interested in reading more about what the Rally is all about, check out the post from our inaugural run when we all shared ratios and recipes for pancakes. This month we’re sharing our recipes and ratios for white or yellow cake.
I used Rulman's ratio, which you may recognize as the standard pound cake ratio. He differentiates between the heftier pound cake that one might bake in a loaf pan and the lighter type of cake that we're working with today by mixing technique. A pound cake comes together using the creaming method (beat butter and sugar first), whereas this type of cake, “sponge cake”, is made using the foaming method (beating the eggs and sugar until pale and voluminous). Whichever you’re looking to make, though, the ratio stays the same:
1 part flour : 1 part butter : 1 part sugar : 1 part eggs
I find inspiration for recipes everywhere—food magazines, blogs, the market, dining out at restaurants—but I’m going to be up front here and tell you that this idea came directly from my husband.
Several weeks ago, we were on an ice cream run and noticed that Ben & Jerry’s makes a Boston Cream Pie flavor. Chris almost grabbed a pint, but was afraid that it wouldn’t taste quite enough like its namesake and that he’d find himself disappointed. Ice cream may make you feel guilty, but it shouldn't be a source of disappointment. “You should make a gluten-free Boston cream pie,” he mused as he reached for something else. A great idea. I filed it away.
On my first pass through the magazine, I was pretty certain I’d be giving you an adaptation of Bon Appetit’s Blackberry Buttermilk Cake this month. In fact, looking back at the photos of it now has me borderline pining. But here’s the deal: I just made over their olive oil cake, and worked on that angel food cake, and—spoiler alert—next week I’ll be giving you yet another cake. Now, I love me some cake. It’s is probably my favorite type of dessert. After three cakes in a matter of a few weeks, though? I was beginning to feel a little caked out.
(That said, this still might have to happen soon.)
After another look at the July issue, I spied these Lemon-Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies. And you know what I don’t have a single recipe for on this site? Cookies. I’m not totally sure how that’s possible. I make cookies. I have recipes for cookies. I guess I just make a lot more cake….
So I could use a cookie recipe here and these guys sounded intriguing. Not to mention, my basil is as prolific as ever. A few leaves on top of pizza here and a chiffonade into a light tomato sauce there hasn't really been keeping it at bay. I know I'll need to start considering pesto soon, but these funky little treats have helped out nicely.