Pear muffins with ginger sugar

September 25, 2012 § 15 Comments

Some random thoughts that occurred to me while baking and then eating these muffins:

How does fiery ginger not overpower the subtlety of pear? This works really well, and the kitchen smells like autumn right now.

Ginger is supposed to be good for the immune system right? …because I totally ate three pieces of crystallized ginger in the past ten minutes.

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Cardamom shortbread

August 29, 2012 § 10 Comments

This past Saturday was my sister’s bridal shower. In addition to supplying the decorations (in the wedding colors, of course), I also felt I had to bring some traditional British foods to the party, since the theme of the shower was “English tea party.”

At first I thought (bad maid of honor alert!) themes were kind of, well, cheesy, but it turns out they are a party planner’s best friend — tea party means you serve tea, cookies, and little open-faced sandwiches, and decorate with fresh flowers and tissue paper poufs.

I volunteered to make shortbread: it’s traditional and most everybody loves it. I wanted not just any shortbread though, and I finally found a great recipe to try, which combines the classic buttery delight with one of my favorite spices, cardamom. The cardamom shortbread comes from the charmingly creative (but probably not as well-known as it should be) cookbook The Sugar Cube, which is written by the owner of a food truck I desperately want to visit in Portland, Oregon.

It was the perfect recipe to try since I could tell Kir Jensen appreciates cardamom as much as I do; I think cardamom is under-appreciated in baked goods, especially sweet ones. When partnered with vanilla its bright, almost herbal flavor complements the buttery shortbread without overpowering it, and I was really pleased at how much everyone else enjoyed the shortbread too. « Read the rest of this entry »

Oreo truffles

August 15, 2012 § 2 Comments

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Oreo chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies. Up until a week ago I was completely baffled by all the Oreo affection that everyone seems to harbor, especially in elementary school when they were a hot bartering commodity at the lunchtime swap.

Now, however, I totally understand the Oreo hype, because my friend Allison made a batch of these Oreo truffles and brought them in to share at work. The experience was revelatory. Even our friend Kyle, an avowed Oreo fan, was impressed, with both of us exclaiming that the Oreo truffles are what Oreos should taste like. « Read the rest of this entry »

Roasted spicy-sweet pumpkin seeds

August 1, 2012 § 13 Comments

The fashion and design industries are notorious for the phenomenon I call “season creep” as evidenced by heavy cabled sweaters appearing in early August, when the thought of wearing wool is about as appealing as donning chain mail and standing in the center of an unshaded parking lot. The food world seems to be a bit more resistant to season creep, I suppose because it is at the mercy of perishable produce.

However, there’s something to be said for the anticipation of the season and foods to come. Thus, these roasted spicy-sweet pumpkin seeds serve as a sneak preview; they’re rather like that cute dress you wear now with sandals that transitions perfectly into fall with tights, wedge boots, and a cardi. Why yes, I have been shopping online rather a lot lately…

Much like that dress, these roasted pumpkin seeds are great because they’re so versatile. They are at once smoky, spicy, and sweet. Maple syrup, together with melted butter, creates an almost lacquered coating for the pumpkin seeds, with chili powder contributing subtle heat, rosemary adding an herbal freshness, and my tweak, a pinch of onion powder rounding everything out with an extra hit of savoriness.

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Parsley and pumpkin seed pesto

July 14, 2012 § 6 Comments

Five days is a long time, especially in the summer when there’s no power and it’s averaging over 100 degrees. Your interests before the power outage seem distant — food seems far away and so cooking is out of the question — replaced with the new hobby of lying on the floor in the basement in an attempt to minimize movement. That is, until the power trucks finally come rumbling down the street. I was never the groupie type until that moment, when it was all I could do to not run down the street after them screaming I LOVE YOU!!!

Even now with the electricity back on, it feels like walking through molasses outside. That means it’s time to turn to the food processor, as summertime is really when it shines: with a few pulses it transforms abundant produce and herbs into all sorts of no- or barely-cook meals and dishes, like gazpacho, salsa, granitas, and of course, pesto.

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Plums and peaches with star anise and ginger

June 24, 2012 § 6 Comments

Peaches have long reigned supreme as my most anticipated summer fruit, but this June the tiny dusky purple plums at the farmers market have been stealthily taking over my kitchen fruit bowl. Almost more pit than fruit, the plums’ sweet fragrance and juicy flesh encased in astringent skin make them ridiculously easy to enjoy by the handful, with only the pits to stop one from inhaling the whole basket at once.

Really the two fruits aren’t — shouldn’t be — rivals; they go excellently together. So, as I didn’t want to use up all the tiny plums at once, and because I had a bruised peach to consume, I decided to cook the stone fruits together, basing my recipe on a recipe from Nigel Slater’s fantastic Ripe (or Tender Volume II as it is titled in the UK). « Read the rest of this entry »

Bishop’s bread

June 16, 2012 § 21 Comments

While at my mom’s high school reunion last weekend, it was fascinating comparing my mom’s prep school years with my own high school experience. Some things were vastly different; I never had compulsory chapel and I never trudged across a quad (dubbed Siberia, though it’s flat so no one went across it uphill both ways!) in the snow at 20 below.

Another stark difference? The food, of course: judging by the recipes in The Northfield Cookbook, it appears the Northfield students ate well, enjoying such deliciousness as maple syrup fudge, fluffy Northfield rolls, and of course, one of my mom’s favorites, Bishop’s bread for breakfast. « Read the rest of this entry »