Psst—I’ve got a pizza secret you won’t believe. It defies most every pizza recipe, so listen closely!…
It’s a dark and chilly December evening. You’re on your way to an Italian-American Christmas party, radio tuned to the station that plays Christmas music all month long….
I’m at the stage in my life when the holiday traditions of my childhood are shifting. With three extended families and just a handful of holidays per year, it’s impossible to eat all of my favorite dishes with the people who make them best….
This season I’ll be joining forces with local urban farmers, Green City Growers. Each month, Green City Growers will feature a new fruit or vegetable on their site, along with tips for growing and caring for it. I’ll bring that same fruit or vegetable into my kitchen and show you how to turn it into something delicious!
Peaking out from this oat and almond crumble is a small heap of husk cherries. You may have seen them before at a Farmers Market or farm stand, where they are slowly making a comeback, thanks to a growing interest in local and urban farming.
Husk cherries (also called ground cherries) are a unique crop whose appearance, texture and flavor are completely misleading. They look like a cross between a tomatillo and a cherry tomato—and taste like a cross between a cherry tomato, Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries, and the faintest hint of pineapple….
Happy September, friends. It’s been weeks since I’ve been in touch, but I’ve been thinking about you and all of the stories I want to share with you.
The month of August was a busy and nostalgic one for me. My husband and I moved out of our apartment on the 31st, inspiring us to revisit and re-evaluate all of our “stuff” as we dug it up and decided whether it would make the journey to our new apartment.
Among this “stuff” were two pounds of pork liver, resting patiently in my freezer alongside a bag of pork fatback and another bag of pork loin. They were left over from a particular recipe I’d planned to share with you almost a year and a half prior: a meaty pork and pork-liver pâté baked in brioche dough. I’d taken photos and everything—only I let season after season slip on by without ever posting the recipe.
To give you a little backstory, I’m a huge appreciator of old, lengthy recipes. I like recipes that I can really get into—especially ones that take me to another time or place. This particular recipe is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two. It’s one of my favorite books to cook from because the dishes feel so different from anything I would normally put on my weeknight dinner table. Its recipes are a time capsule of 1960’s French cooking and entertaining, where you and your guests could easily spend as much time enjoying your fancy meal as you did preparing it. It’s a romantic idea that I find both fascinating and comforting—so if I’m in the mood to slow down and celebrate a little, there’s a good chance I’ll be cooking from one of Julia Child and Simone Beck’s encyclopedias….
I have a scone for you that is sure to cure your breakfast, mid-morning snack, afternoon tea, and dessert cravings. It’s lemon scented, slightly punchy, and just sweet enough to deserve a little honey or jam.
I didn’t invent the combination, but I adopted it quickly after I tried a lemon-ginger scone at a coffee shop one morning. It was flecked with lemon zest and studded with chunks of sweet and spicy candied ginger.
One year ago I started a blog about food. I’d been trying to make it happen since the spring of 2012. It was late on Easter Sunday and we were all picking at leftovers of our 22-pound brined fresh ham.
“I’m thinking of starting a food blog,” I blurted out to Ben and our guests.
The second I opened my mouth I felt nervous and vulnerable—I’d been keeping this dream pretty well hidden until that moment. I was working in architecture and I didn’t expect many people to understand that I’d rather be cooking and writing.
But my friends seemed excited, so I continued. I told them that I wanted a blog with recipes and tutorials. I’d noticed a lot of recipes with missing “how’s” and I wanted to change that.
The more I shared the more we brainstormed. We proposed the name Recipedia. Charlotte would design it, Ben would build it, and we’d all get it going as soon as I’d get the courage to write for an audience.
I created a document in Microsoft Word. You know, the way Creed does in The Office? And I just started writing. I wrote about pesto, beets, Waffle Crisp cereal, sweet potato hash and how parchment paper chars when you crank your oven too high. Ben and I started a garden and I wrote about that. I even made lists of meals we’d eaten at restaurants.
But then I made Joy the Baker’s beet cake, and I entered an entirely new realm of inspiration….
Preparing a cake pan is my least favorite cake-baking activity, mainly because it’s the first (and least edible) step in the process. It stands in the way of the middle and final steps when I could be licking batter and icing, or enjoying my first bite of cake alongside an ice-cold glass of milk.
But I’m a practical woman and I’ve come to understand that in order to get to the middle and end, I really do need to commit those three whole minutes to lining my cake pan with butter, flour and parchment paper. If I don’t, my cake will sit stubbornly in its pan as I prod it with knives and forks and throw a few forceful blows to the back of the pan (see photo above). It’s a messy and destructive process that takes a lot longer than three minutes.
There a few ways to cut a parchment circle, but since I can’t get my head around pencil lead in my food, I stay away from tracing a circle around my pan. Instead, I fold the parchment into a skinny triangle and make one single cut. I can’t remember who I learned this from (as they deserve a lot of credit for this post), but I picked it up in college and have not turned back since.
Once the parchment is cut, I
- grease the bottom and sides of the pan with butter
- secure my parchment circle
- add a bit more grease to the parchment, and
- dust the pan in flour
And though I drag my feet for those three agonizing minutes, I always remind myself that my future cake-eating self will be grateful to my forward-thinking, cake-pan-prepping self!
The following is an easy method for cutting a parchment circle by eyeballing your cake pan’s radius. It’s a neat trick, especially if you’re into geometry.
With fall around the corner, I’m trying my best to savor the last few weeks of summer. Though I’ll eventually look forward to apples, squash, and warm, hearty stews, I’ll need a few summer-to-fall meals to help ease me in—meals with a sweet so long! from my favorite summer produce, and a warm, cozy hug from the deep fall flavors ahead.
For my first meal, I’m going to need a little chocolate. But not just any chocolate: Taza chocolate. Fruity and spicy chocolate, that—with a little help from some sweet summer zucchini—will give me just the nudge I need to get me thinking about fall….
Pizza rustica is a rich Italian pie of cured meats, fresh cheeses and eggs baked in a slightly sweet pastry crust known as pasta frolla. With about as many variations as Italian families, pizza rustica is traditionally eaten on Easter. In fairness to Marcella, I have modified some equipment and techniques to fit the available tools in my kitchen. Her original recipe is worth a read and can be found in her book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.