What I’m Reading Today

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza…looks like it’s time to carb up.

Andrew Scrivani/The New York Times

It’s all about pizza over at the NY Times.  Whether it’s calzones-sweet or savory, homemade pizza dough, even deep fried pizza, they’ve got you covered.  My best tip for making great pizza at home is to put your oven rack on the lowest level, get a nice thick pizza stone and put it on the rack, and then heat your oven as hot as it will go.  Let it heat for a long time (30 minutes-ish) before making your first pizza–the hotter the stone and oven the more crisp your crust will get.

Anne Cusack/The Los Angeles Times

Hey, it’s pizza day at the Los Angeles Times too.  I’m thinking about a potato pizza throw down.  The LA Times’ potato pie looks amazing with it’s caramelized onion white sauce and wafer-thin potato slices.  Mark Bittman’s version, in the NY Times, is more flatbread- like with thicker potato slices.  Either way, it’s fun to compare the tips and tricks from both newspapers.  The LA Times even helps you turn your home oven into a “brick oven” if you want to really DIY it.  I’m sticking with my pizza stone but, hey, let me know how it works.

Deb Lindsey/The Washington Post

If you’re not up to the task of tackling homemade pizza dough, what about a simple tartine?  This French-style opened faced sandwich is the ideal foil for gorgeous spring vegetables.  This Spring Tartine, from the Washington Post, uses a base of cream cheese but goat cheese or ricotta work well too.  Use your farmers’ market for inspiration when it comes to toppings.  The asparagus, tomatoes, peas, and arugula here are a lovely combination but favas, fresh herbs, shaved carrots, or green garlic would all work too.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking!

Posted in appetizer, pizza, potato, vegetables | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What I’m Reading Today

Spring has sprung…if you haven’t been to the farmers’ market, now is the time to get there.  Strawberries, asparagus, and more…it’s that time of year and I love it.

Rachel Barrett/The New York Times

When I was a kid my mom rocked this dessert!  Lemon Pudding Cake-tender cake on top with rich lemon pudding at the bottom.  I loved it warm but it’s pretty much delicious any way you can get it.  It’s popped up in the Fanny Farmer Cookbook, Cooks’ Illustrated, and even graced the plates of Delfina and Gary Danko.  Today it’s in the NY Times via Ian Knauer’s new book, The Farm, and, let me tell you, this cake is not to be missed.  There is nothing difficult about the recipe but, do bake it in a water bath as directed. The recipe calls for four eggs and, unless you want lemon scrambled eggs, the water bath is necessary to keep them from overcooking.

Astrid Riecken/The Washington Post

Another spring favorite of mine is rhubarb.  I write about it often as it brings me right back to my grandparent’s table.  My grandpa used to grow it in his urban pea patch, bringing it home to my grandma who would transform it into a rhubarb strawberry compote that tasted good on virtually anything.  I love this idea in today’s Washington PostStrawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Parfait.  I’m not sure which part is best-the oat based crumble, the fruit compote, or the rich yogurt.  The crumble and the compote keep well so I’m planning to make a big batch of both.

Sarah Lee/The Guardian

Speaking of cooking the season, how about The Guardian’s Wild Garlic, Courgette, and Mint Soup?  If I told you it was vegetarian, vegan in fact, would you believe me?  With six simple ingredients a recipe like this truly exemplifies what it means to cook what’s fresh.  Go to your farmers’ market and seek out spring garlic, fresh vibrant zucchini (a.k.a. courgette), and fragrant mint.  With a little onion and a drizzle of your favorite olive oil, you’ll have a rich Spring soup that will be delicious warm or cold.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What I’m Reading Today

From the wet streets of San Francisco, my weekly picks for you and your kitchen.  Enjoy!

Evan Sung/The New York Times

Flammekuche may sound daunting but when it’s called an onion tart, I’m in.  This Alsatian flatbread, also called tarte flambée, is much like a rustic pizza.  Made with a crisp, yeasted dough and topped simply with seasoned wilted onions and either bacon or olives (add a few anchovies and they take it into the world of pisaladierre…again, just an onion tart, this time in France). The Alsatians usually drizzle theirs with creme fraiche but, in today’s NY Times, Melissa Clark tops her Flammekuche with fresh ricotta or goat cheese.  With a big salad, this makes my perfect kind of dinner…Alsatian, French, or Italian, I love it.

Glenn Koenig/The Los Angeles Times

Ever tried to make your own cheese?  I’ve done homemade ricotta and creme fraiche and was surprised at how delicious they both turned out.  Quark is another simple one to tackle at home.  As Noelle Carter, in the LA Times, writes, quark is like a combination of sour cream and soft ricotta-perfectly spreadable and creamy.  Of course you can buy it but, when you realize it’s as easy as mixing milk and buttermilk (a little heat, a little resting time), you’ll want to do it yourself.  Plus, once it’s done  you can make these Quark Crepes with Fresh Strawberries..that should be reason enough right there.

Deb Lindsey/The Washington Post

Some nights you need dinner and you need it fast.  I’ve always found that the best path to a quick dinner is keeping my pantry stocked with a few Asian staples-chilis, hot sauce, fish sauce, soy, curry paste, and hoisin.  This Spicy Mint Beef, from the Washington Post via Giada DeLaurentiis, is exactly the kind of dinner I’d throw together.  It’s essentially a beef and chili stir fry but, by all means, use what you have around-chicken, shrimp, tofu, bell peppers, mushrooms … it’s simply a method and will work with whatever sounds good to you.  Next time you’re out shopping pick up a few Asian condiments.  They keep for ages and add quick, big flavors to weeknight dinners like this one.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I’m Reading Today

We’re getting our first big dump of rain this winter (hard to complain when we’ve had spring weather for weeks).  Puts a damper on the little league schedule but, sure does motivate me to get into the kitchen.

Andrew Scrivani/The New York Times

I’ve always loved cole slaw and I guess you could say it was my gateway into the world of cabbage.  The healthy vegetable, a cousin of Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and kale, can be incorporated into your diet in so many ways.  I prefer it to keep its crunch (never warmed up to the overcooked, soggy stuff) so for me that means raw, sauteed, or added to soup just at the end.  In today’s NY Times, Melissa Clark shares three recipes for tackling one head of cabbage: a bold Vietnamese Salad with Pan Seared Tofu, the easy-on-the-grocery bill Cabbage, Potato, & Leek Soup, and a distinctly Italian style Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage & Anchovies.  She was driven by using one large head she bought at the market.  I’ve always found that the produce guy at my local market will cut a head in half, even quarters, when I don’t need the whole thing.  Either way, it keeps well in the fridge and this should give you plenty of options for using every last leaf.

Deb Lindsey/The Washington Post

This might just be the easiest, good-for-you, big, bold, tasty dinner you’ve made in a long time.  Steamed sushi rice (short grain) is paired with fresh salmon and a bright, yet spicy, dipping sauce.  The directions for this Salmon and Sushi Rice with Hot Sweet and Sour Asian Sauce, from the Washington Post, are written for the most novice of cooks, making this a dinner absolutely anyone can throw together in well under 30 minutes.  Remember to look for good salmon at your market.  I always make sure it’s either wild or sustainably farmed, which means I look for a market with a fish monger who’s available to answer any questions I have about where the fish came from.  Of course you could do this with other fish too-local cod, bass…you name it.

mostlyfoodstuff.com via The Oregonian

This picture, in the Oregonian, caught my eye in an instant.  It’s Meyer Lemon Focaccia and it sounds like perfection.  Imagine a crisp pizza crust, filled with the air pockets distinct to foccacia bread, then top it with paper-thin slices of Meyer Lemons and fresh rosemary.  Meyers are available mostly on the west coast and have a sweet, almost tangerine like flavor to them-well worth seeking out for this bread.  I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.  The recipe comes to the Oregonian courtesy of mostlyfoodstuff.com which you can check out here.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

What I’m Reading Today

I’ve got a serious sweet tooth today.  Hostess cupcakes, nut-stuffed phyllo pastries, and coffee cake muffins…oh my!

Andrew Scrivani/The New York Times

By now the news of the possible Hostess bankruptcy is common knowledge.  No harm done, in my opinion-I can’t think of the last time I craved a Twinkie or Hostess Cupcake (although I still remember the deep seeded envy I had for Bobby F. in elementary school as he was the kid who always had a Ding Dong in his lunch).  Jennifer Steinhauer, in the NY Times, took matters into her own hands to create homemade versions of these snacks, along with her version of Oreos and Fritos.  Truth be told, her versions were generally not nutritional upgrades but, at least you know what’s going in there. If you want to try them out yourself:  Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Filling, Homemade Twinkies, Fauxreos, and Homemade Fritos.

Bob Chamberlin/The Los Angeles Times

Tonight at sundown, Jews around the world will celebrate Purim.  I remember the holiday as a kid because it meant lots of food, family, and fun (then again, so did all the other Jewish holidays).  In today’s LA Times, Faye Levy explores the idea of a vegan menu, looking at some evidence that says this was how the holiday may have originally been celebrated.  While the vegan menu may not sound too exciting, I think these nut filled phyllo pastries, called Haman’s Fingers, would be a treat after any meal.  Ground pine nuts, walnuts, and almonds and mixed with cinnamon and sugar for an almost baklava-like filling, less the honey.  I’d use butter instead of the vegan alternatives (margarine or oil) and I also like the idea of a little drizzle of honey right at the end.  Try these after your next Mediterranean meal, Purim or not.

Bakeshop, Portland. The Oregonian

Let’s be honest, most breakfast muffins are really cupcakes in disguise.  If you’ve ever made them yourself you know a batch of blueberry muffins are loaded with sugar and butter.   If you want to try to make your breakfast treats a little less guilt-ridden, today’s Oregonian can help.  This recipe, for Blueberry Coffeecake Crumble Muffins, substitutes yogurt for sour cream, keeping the muffins moist but losing some of the fat.  They also have whole grain rye flour, in addition to all purpose flour, pumping up the nutritional value and adding a nice, nutty flavor.  There’s still butter and sugar, don’t mistake this for health food, but they are certainly better than the versions you might grab at the coffee shop.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

What I’m Reading Today

I am working on my re-entry to reality after a stunning week in Montana skiing.  If you’re looking for snow out west, this is where you’ll find it.  What an amazing place.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Back in the kitchen at home I’m thinking about the turn from winter to spring, and trying to keep things healthy at the dinner table.  I love this dinner idea from David Tanis in the New York TimesCalamari with Herbs and Polenta is very simply sauteed calamari with garlic, wine, and fresh herbs.  Find your favorite fish monger and look for fresh calamari (he or she will even clean it for you, if you ask nice).  You’ll cook it in a screaming hot pan and in two minutes it’s done.   You can make your polenta ahead and heat it a bit before serving-I actually love it sauteed or grilled in some olive oil.  Of course it works a la minute as well-creamy from the pot and eaten right away.

Deb Lindsey/The Washington Post

Who doesn’t love mac and cheese?  It’s my go-to homemade dinner when there isn’t much in the house (and it’s often eaten straight from the stovetop, skipping the step in the oven).  But let’s be honest, a few variations on the basic version could spice things up a bit when it comes to this ubiquitous comfort food.  Today’s Washington Post features all the variations you could ever want.  The version above, Spinach and Mushroom Mac and Cheese, is the first one I’ll try.  Once you’ve mastered the Classic recipe, you can try these alternatives too:  Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese, Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, Indian Mac and Cheese, and Shrimp & Pesto Mac and Cheese.  Some sound decidedly better than others but, this is definitely a dish you can make your own.  Go for it!

Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian

I’m a huge fan of the fried egg sandwich (maybe even more than mac and cheese).  In London’s Guardian I found the Devil’s Fried Egg Pita Pocket, an Arabic inspired version you could eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Spiced with chili flakes and za’atar (a dried herb mixture of sesame, sumac, salt, and other herbs), the sandwich is finished with “sabzi”, a catch all word for fresh herbs, often used in Persian cuisine.  Grab what’s easy to get- tarragon, chives, Italian parsley, etc.  The best part of the recipe is the last direction: “…enjoy straight away, right there, standing in the kitchen, egg running down your chin, giggling like naughty children.”  Who doesn’t want a bite of that?

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I’m Reading Today

Whether you took my advice and ate in last night, or went out on the town to celebrate your Valentine, I hope you had a delicious holiday

Evan Sung/The New York Times

I adore fennel.  I’m not a black licorice fan and shy away from pretty much anything that smells like Ouzo or Sambuca but, a bulb of anise scented fennel will win me over any day.  Shaved raw in a salad it adds serious crunch and assertive flavor, perfect paired with shaved Parmigano, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil.  Cooking transforms the bulb entirely.  The texture softens and the the licorice becomes secondary to the vegetable’s sweetness.  In the NY Times, David Tanis makes Fennel al Forno by giving it a quick blanch, then baking it with fresh mozzarella, fennel seed, chile flakes, and parsley. Lighter than a typical gratin, the dish really gives the fennel a deserved chance to show off.

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

The word “casserole” doesn’t sound that appealing, does it?  What if I say “cazuela”?  Yep, sexier for sure.  A cazuela is really just a Mexican casserole but rarely does it include a can of this and a can of that, like it’s American cousin.   In today’s Washington Post, Patricia Jinich writes about gathering with friends to enjoy her cazuela’s, all inspired by traditional Mexican recipes.  There is the Chicken and Tortilla Aztec version-think lasagne with tortillas and a Latin flair.  You could also try her Meaty Tamal Casserole, saving you the time of assembling individual tamales.  I’m going for the Cazuela de Arroz con Hongos, or the Mexican Rice Casserole with Mushrooms.  The ingredient list is extensive but each one adds a dimension to what is sure to be your next go-to pot luck dish.

Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian

Pancakes for dinner? Heck yes.  Breakfast for dinner happens at least once a week at my house.  I my previous life I’m fairly sure I was a line-cook in a pancake house, I make so many of them around here.  But, mine are usually the buttermilk variety.  In the Oregonian you’ll find international inspiration for more savory dinner time pancakes.  From Korea, there is a scallion pancake dotted with fresh seafood and shredded cabbage, or a “pajeon” – topped with a little kimchi and a sesame-soy sauce..wow.  Over in eastern Europe, you’ll find a version of the potato pancake-Parsnip, Sweet Potato, and Leek Pancakes and you can top these with a bit of sour cream and smoked salmon, of course.  If indulging in something sweet is what you really need, there is a recipe from Sweden called Saffranspannkaka (try saying that ten times fast!).  It’s a baked pancake made with a base that resembles rice pudding, enriched with cream, saffron, and almonds.  Hoping at least one of these recipes will help you get pancakes on your own dinner table.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment