Saturday, January 30, 2016

Excess Jalapenos

Our friend Fi came to visit and brought all the fixings to make Chinese dumplings and dipping sauce. After all was said and done, there were eight perfect jalapeno peppers leftover. It just so happens that David Lebovitz's pickled jalapeno recipe calls for eight jalapeno peppers. So that's what I did. Slightly adapted.

Pickled Jalapenos

8 jalapenos
1 medium carrot
½ red onion
1 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 ½ cup water
1 clove garlic, peeled, lightly crushed
2 ¼ tbsp kosher salt
1 ½ tbsp sugar
½ tsp dried oregano
5 juniper berries
10 black peppercorns
10 pink peppercorns

Slice the stems off the jalapenos and cut them into rounds. Peel the carrot and cut into ¼ inch rounds. Peel the onion and cut in half. Slice one half of the onion into ¼ inch slices.

Heat the vinegar, water, garlic clove, salt, sugar, oregano, juniper, and peppercorns until simmering and the salt and sugar have dissolved.

Add the jalapenos, carrots and onions and cook for 1 minute.

Ladle the mixture into sterilized jars until the jalapeno mixture is covered with liquid. Seal jars and allow to rest until the pop. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I might try these with tacos first. If I made this again, I would try to do it with raw jalapenos to preserve the crunch and color of the peppers.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Real Men Make the Best Quiche Ever

Quiche is one of our favorite, time-consuming meals to make. You really have to plan a day in advance, but it is so worth it. You get dinner, and breakfast, and then dinner again. It didn't hurt that an office mate actually gave us three dozen eggs because her neighbor's chickens were on egg-laying overdrive. And, our garden is also bursting with life, so gathering the herbs was no problem either. And it made for a beautiful bright green dough. 

Pie crust
1 ¼ cup flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 tbsp (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
4 tbsp chopped herbs (rosemary, oregano, chives, parsley, thyme)
3-4 tbsp ice water

4 oz cheese
4 green onions/scallions chopped
4 slices of bacon
1 cup cooked greens (kale, spinach)
t tbsp. melted butter
1 cup cream
2 eggs
salt, pepper

Place the flour, salt and pepper in food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. While the machine is running, gradually drizzle in the water, processing until the dough comes together to form a ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape it into a flat disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour or overnight.

Cook the bacon in a cast iron pan. Once cooked through, remove the bacon and leave the bacon fat in the pan. Sautee the onions/scallions & garlic in the bacon fat, add in whatever vegetables you want to use. Let cool. Whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Stir in the cheese. Once the veggies are cooled, add them to the egg mixture.

Take the dough out of the fridge and let it get a little soft – just so you can manipulate it into the pie pan. Roll out into a disc, and shape into your pie pan. I'm afraid of shaping pie dough, so that task falls to D., always. 

Fill the pie with the egg-veggie-cheese mixture. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour,; you know it’s done when you poke with a toothpick in the center, it comes out clean.  Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and then slice & enjoy!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Buttery Buttercream

Every month, the local YWCA holds a Cupcake Awards event. Residents and staff can nominate one someone who's done something kind or extraordinary in the past month. Since I joined the board of the organization, I've been baking cupcakes for the event at home. It seemed like a worthwhile kind of event that deserved better than store-bought cupcakes. The thing I could never get down was the frosting, though.

When the owner of a local sweets shop, Sue of Sweet Sue's, joined the board, I had to ask: what was I doing wrong? I beat the heck out of the frosting like my mother taught me, but it always separates.

She gave me three key tips: 1. Use quality butter; 2. Don't use a metal mixer, better to use paddles; and 3. Make sure the butter is warmer than room temperature. I was super pleased with the results. I told someone: this might be too buttery for some people's tastes, and that person said: what kind of person would that be?

Buttery Buttercream

1 lb butter, a bit warmer than room temperature
1 tsp salt
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
8 oz whipping cream

Heat the egg whites and 1 cup of sugar in a dish set in boiling water. Whisk constantly so that the eggs do not cook. If any part of the egg solidifies, strain it into a clean dish. Cool it in the fridge while you whip the butter.

Whip the butter with salt in a mixer with paddles until fluffy. Do not skimp on the mixing time.

When the egg mixture is cooled, add gradually to the whipping butter, then pour in the whipping cream slowly. Beat until you get the consistency that you want.

You can add all kinds of flavoring with the whipping cream; for vanilla buttercream, add vanilla extract.

Dainty Carnivores

Roast beef & rocket sandwiches
Every month or so, I get together with a group of women who do policy-related work with the state government in Albany. The woman who hosts the gathering and I usually handle a basic menu, and then others bring a dish if they can. It's not really a potluck because these are busy women, and we want to encourage them -- with some tasty treats -- to come; instead of deterring them because they didn't have time to stop for a bottle of wine or some cheese and crackers.

red and white endive leaves with Trader Joe's spinach & kale greek yogurt dip 

One time I made dainty little egg-salad sandwiches when a deviled egg experiment went awry. They were just as you might imagine--fluffy egg salad on white bread quarters with the crust cut off, pimento, and watercress. They were the perfect finger food. This time I was feeling carniverous, so I made 6 roast beef sandwiches on whole wheat bread. I spread a bit of mayonnaise on one side and then spread with horseradish, a bit of whole-grain mustard on the other, and then layered rocket greens and roast beef in between. Then I cut the crusts off and quartered them. I served them with a side of super-hot horseradish sauce, which I thought they would use sparingly if at all. But it was a hit.

For Saturday breakfast, I took all of the crusts and separated them from the bits of roast beef and greens. I made an omelet with the roast beef and greens, and fed the crusts to the birds. Everyone was happy!

mini chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting and caramel sauce

Monday, March 30, 2015

Hands to work, hearts to God

There are two Shaker communities near where we live in Troy, New York. One of them is in the Berkshires, the Hancock Shaker Village, and the other one is in Albany/Colonie. We went to visit shortly after moving here. Aside from their sturdy and simple but beautiful furniture and the song "Tis a Gift to be Simple, Tis a Gift to be Free..." the Shakers were also known for their simple and tasty cooking, folks arts & crafts, a solid work ethic, and gender and racial equality. The Shaker settlements also are said to have sheltered escaped slaves on their way to Canada. Their way of life seems appealing, but they were also committed to abstinence, which may be why there are no more Shakers left. Not a very sustainable way of being. We learned that a few years ago, there was a resurgence and there were a few Shaker men in the community, but when a reporter who came to do a story on the community fell in love and ran away with one of the Shaker men, that was that really.

The gift shop sold cookie molds of a hand with a cut out for a heart in the center. I bought it, and have made the recipe many times since. The cookies are a real hit, and they're fun to make.

On the package reads: "The Heart & Hand reminds us of Mother Ann's saying: "Put your hands to work and your hearts to God."

Shaker Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp lemon peel
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
4 cups sifted flour

Cream butter & sugar. Save 1/2 egg white for brushing cookies. Slightly beat the eggs and add to the butter mixture. Add nutmeg and lemon peel. Sift cream of tartar and salt with flour and work into butter mixture. Chill for 1/2 hour. Roll into 1/2 inch thickness and cut into shapes. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patty's Sourdough

Another winning St. Patrick's Day recipe! This one adds sourdough to the soda bread, and raisins (or currants) and walnuts to the traditional caraway seeds. I also added sunflower seeds, which sometimes turn a little green during the baking process. I found this recipe on a sourdough blog compilation. 
This is fantastic as a toasted breakfast bread, served on the side of soup, or just as a snack with some tea.


2 ½ cups flour (I used half white/half wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins or currants
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
¼ cup sunflower seeds
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 cup fed sourdough starter
1/2 cup warm water
4 tbsp honey


Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a baking sheet.
Whisk the baking soda and salt into the flour, then toss through the currants and walnuts, making sure the currants are coated in flour – this will ensure they stay evenly distributed through the loaf.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the starter, water and honey. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Add a dash more water if needed for the dough to come together.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead together lightly, pushing back in any currants or nuts that come out.
Form dough into a ball and place on baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut a 1/2″ deep cross in the top.
Bake in center of the oven for about 30 – 35 minutes, until deep golden and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.​

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Toad in the Hole

Downstairs Toad in the Hole*

3 pork sausages, cut in half
1 medium onion, quartered and sliced
1-1 1/2  tbsp olive oil
2 cups white flour
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
2-3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sautee the onion slices in olive oil until just beginning to brown. Slice each of the three pork sausages in half and stand them upright, one in each of six greased muffin cups. Sprinkle each cup with an even amount of sauteed onion and bake in the oven for about 10 - 15 minutes or until sausage is cooked through. While the sausages are baking, whisk together the flour, eggs, and milk until smooth. Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, and salt and pepper. Remove the sausage and onions from the oven and carefully pour the batter over them until each muffin cup is a bit more than 3/4 full, with the sausage standing up in the middle (the "toad" poking its head out of the hole).

Return the muffin pan to the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven, the size of your muffin cups, etc.) until the muffins have puffed up mightily and browned a bit on the edges. If you poke with a toothpick, they might deflate, but you can check by poking with a toothpick if they are cooked through.

The most dramatic part is taking them out of the oven, so if you are making them for a loved one or a group, make sure they're around to see! Once they're served--brought to a table or placed on a plate, they will deflate a little bit. Serve with gravy or mustard. Enjoy!

I adapted this recipe from Emily Ansara Baines' Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook (2012). This recipe appeared in a section about sustenance for the household staff--and it truly is a hearty breakfast for worker bees. I couldn't find a recipe that made this dish look appetizing, so I decided to use this recipe, but cook the dish in individual muffin cups so it truly appeared as a toad peeking out of a hole! I also left out the garlic powder (because I don't have any!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Simple Squash Curry Soup

Simple title, simple picture, simple recipe. Enjoy!


One pumpkin, kabocha, butternut, or other kind of squash
3 carrots
3 celery stalks
2 onions
2-4 cloves garlic
1-2 hot peppers
1 tsp each of: turmeric, cardamom, cumin, pepper, paprika, salt, ginger, cinnamon
1 can of coconut milk
(garnish with thick yogurt, sriracha sauce, and pepitas/pumpkin seeds)


Halve the squash, remove the seeds and pulp, and roast (innard-side down) on a lightly-oiled baking dish until soft. (you can roast the cleaned-off seeds in a roasting pan seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and either sweet or savory spices afterward).

Scoop out the soft squash and set aside.

Roughly chop the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and de-seeded pepper(s). Saute in a cast iron pan in olive oil. Add spices, which will appear to sear a bit. The scent it gives off will tell you it's curry-ing.

Once the curry has curry'd, add the squash and sautee for a few moments so that the squash sops up the spices. Add coconut milk and simmer--do not boil--for about 10 minutes.

Allow the mixture to cool.

Depending on how you like your soup, eat as is, or blend until the mixture achieves your desired level of smoothness.

Garnish. Serve to someone you love.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dreamy Herbed Pizza

I'm not a fan of NY-style pizza: greasy slices of soggy crust with sliding-off cheese, bland tomato sauce, dotted with pepperoni. But homemade pizza, that's another story. This is the best recipe for pizza dough that I've tried, and it derives from Ms. Martha Stewart; except Ms. Stewart doesn't jazz it up with herbs like I do.

Don't be shy with the herbs--it will look like a lot when you dump them in, but you'll be glad you did.

Best Herbed Pizza Crust

1 1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
3 cups white flour
1 cup wheat flour
4 tbsp chopped herbs (thyme, rosemary, chives, parsley, oregano)
some flour for the surface
spray olive oil

Suggested toppings:

thinly sliced sausage
carmelized onion
basil pesto
mozarella cheese

Stir honey into the warm water and sprinkle with yeast. Let it get foamy (about 5 minutes). Mix flour with salt in a mixer. After the yeast mixture is foamy, whisk in the olive oil.  Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture, and mix just until the dough begins to stick together. Add in the herbs until the dough is sticky but holds together and the herbs are well distributed. Place the dough ball in an oiled bowl and turn around so all sides are slick with oil. Spray oil the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for an hour. Cut in half (or third if you like thin pizza) and shape into a round (or a rectangle, depending on the shape of your pan) and place on a hot, oiled pizza stone or cast iron pizza pan. Decorate! Pop it into the oven at 400 degrees F until the cheese is melted. Slide off onto a cutting board; cut into slices and enjoy!