I check the farm stand every few days for signs of spring really being here. Back in the city, broccoli rabe is an indicator (more on that, plus a recipe, hopefully next week). In a few weeks, peas may even start showing up, and soon after that, it’ll be time for strawberries. See, the farmers’ markets in NYC aren’t reflective of the city itself. They’re representative of what’s happening in the ground up in the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. It’s even possible to get tomatoes year-round thanks to a hydroponic farmer there on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Continue reading »
The transition from winter to spring is quite incredible to watch happen here. It seems we were buried under a couple feet of snow just a few weeks ago. Then today I noticed tractors roaming fields, prepping the land for a new growing season. Still, I’m not quite ready to exhale and pack up my down coat. Two weeks ago signaled our first taste of warmer temperatures. It inspired me to get outside, and tend to the garden. I raked, hauled a few barrels of leaves and trimmings to my neighbor’s burn pile, and then we woke up the next morning to a generous coating of snow. It was nature’s reminder that April is a precarious month. Continue reading »
Yes, it’s a busy week around here indeed. Kind of funny when you think about it. I leave the country for vacation, and there’s all this posting happening here. I accepted two client projects recently without realizing they were scheduled to share within days of each other this week, so that explains the flurry of activity.
This recipe is a sneak peek for what’s come, so scoop up some blood oranges while we’re still able to reap the benefits of California’s citrus season. You can freeze this sour mix in ice cubes trays, and thaw as needed. You can even use it to make ice pops for the kids! Please don’t tell mine that I said that because I plan on hoarding mine. The recipe coming tomorrow that uses this blood orange sour mix is one I intend to enjoy all spring and summer. Continue reading »
Just a quick check in to say hello. I’ve spent far too much time working this weekend, but it’s all for a good cause. We’re Montreal bound for spring break this week, so I’m trying to cram seven days’ worth of work into two. Yes, I know. It’s colder there than it is here, and it would’ve been nice to swap winter boots for open toe sandals. I’m on a mission for an amazing pain au chocolate I tasted at Patisserie Au Kouign Amann last summer. Montreal is only 250 miles from my house, and my motto is “will travel for good eats”. I suppose once I tally tolls and gas, it’s a rather expensive pastry, but since we only live once, I’m doing it to the fullest. Continue reading »
I realize the general consensus regarding Mondays is that they’re an unwelcome event. I prefer to see them as a wipe the slate clean kind of day; a new beginning, of sorts. Way back when, Mondays used to be mommy and me day. Virginia was still a wee one, and only went to daycare four days a week. I’d wake, go for a run, come home, cook breakfast, pack lunch, and then gently wake the rest of the house to start the day. Once he left with Bella for school, Virginia and I would cuddle on the sofa with poached eggs and toast, watching Sesame Street.
Then it all changed so suddenly, and it took me a while to find my footing. In the beginning, it was a matter of survival. Each Monday was a reminder that I’d gotten through another week. I feel like you should get a grief badge for each one, the way they give chips at AA meetings. As time passed, Mondays morphed into a day of relief. Single parenting seems relentless on the weekends. It’s one long 48 hour shift without a break. Continue reading »
It’s been a while, I know. Life has been quite busy, and I didn’t mean to stay away for this long. As usual, there are a ton of recipes I want to share with you, all in various stages of being tested, written, and edited. There’s also the matter of deciding which ones to share here, save for the magazine, for the cookbook proposal, and for future projects.
Alas, my visit here will be very brief today. I worked on a recipe for traditional Irish soda bread recently, and realized if I didn’t share it with you all today, then it would have to wait until next year. It would be like sharing a recipe for chocolate truffles the day after Valentine’s Day, right? I suppose a proper cooling off time, say a few weeks, and a recipe for soda bread popping up here would’ve been fine. But with it being St. Patrick’s Day, and all, I didn’t want to wait. So, here I am, bread (recipe) in hand, clicking away at the keyboard while lunch heats up in the oven in preparation for getting the kids out to school.
In my search for a traditional Irish soda bread recipe (remember I made this oat soda bread a few years ago), I came upon this site called The Preservation for Irish Soda Bread Society. After delving in a bit, I knew I had to stay somewhat true to tradition. You’ll notice my recipe below isn’t the sweet teacake kind being sold in most bakeries at this very moment. My recipe is more of an everyday bread that you can enjoy lightly toasted, with a smear of butter, and jam, if you like. It still isn’t quite a sandwich bread. I imagine my kids would blow a gasket if I tried to tuck a few slices of turkey between it. Still, it’s a nice counterpart to the fruit and egg enriched recipes out there. Hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve been. Now time to go pack those lunches, and get the kiddos out the door. Have a great day everyone!
Irish Soda Bread
Traditional Irish soda bread is made without any sweetener. The versions we’re accustomed to, flecked with raisins or currants, and enriched with eggs and a touch of sugar, are considered a teacake. I love that kind of bread, but decided to develop a recipe that harkened back to its roots. Of course, I still took a couple of liberties, one by using whole-wheat pastry flour, and the other in including a smidge of honey. It’s just enough to enhance the flavor of the bread without it being noticeable. Feel free to swap in all-purpose flour (it’s an equal weight), and omit the honey, or swap in agave to make it vegan. I’ve not tested it with gluten-free flour blends, though, but do let me know the results if you give it a try, as I’m curious.
Makes one 8-inch round loaf
1 2/3 cups (240) grams whole-wheat pastry flour, plus more for kneading & shaping
1 1/4 teaspoons (6 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) sea salt
1 cup (237 ml / 214 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (15 ml) buttermilk, well shaken
1 tablespoon (20 grams) honey
1. Arrange the rack to the upper middle position of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt to a deep bowl. Whisk to combine.
3. Pour one cup of the buttermilk into the bowl. Drizzle the honey over the top of the flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir just until it comes together into a rough dough (it will look more like a very thick batter at first).
4. Dust a counter or cutting board with a bit of flour. Scrape the dough onto the counter. Sprinkle a little more flour on top. Knead 30 to 60 seconds until it forms a somewhat smooth ball (it will have dimples, but shouldn’t be sticky).
5. Generously sprinkle flour on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the shaped dough onto the tray. Brush the top and sides with the remaining buttermilk. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour on top. Using a very sharp knife, make two cuts into the top to form an “X”, taking care not to cut all the way through to the bottom (you want a deep slash in the dough, not to separate the pieces).
6. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, until the loaf is a deep golden color, and sounds hollow when tapped with your knuckle. Let the bread cool completely before slicing, about an hour.
I take a deep breath when people ask me about the best pizza in New York City. My desk may be an overrun pile of papers, my cupboards an exercise in organized chaos, but my mind is a neatly organized rolodex of pizza, classified according to type (gas oven, coal oven, and wood-fired). So, I’m going to need some clarity on what kind of pizza you want my “best” opinion about. And you need to be willing to travel for it, because I don’t satisfy my pizza cravings based on proximity. Continue reading »
My mind is a browser with way too many tabs open today. It’s all good stuff. I have an energy, emotionally and professionally, that’s been lacking for a few years now. And, it’s all thanks to him. My moments of insecurity crept in a lot the last few days. Worry of falling too fast, too hard, depending too much on his love to carry me; preparing myself for the moment he, too, disappears. It’s hard to admit that. I want to live in the present, focus on the future. And yet my past haunts me.
In the time it takes to shop for groceries life as you know can fall apart. Do I have the strength to pick up the pieces, yet again, if destiny decides to deal a cruel hand? I don’t know, really.
But I do know that I’m willing to take the chance. I was “all in” from the moment we began exchanging texts. Just thinking about the way he looks at me forces the fears from my head, and makes my lips curve upwards into a smile. Continue reading »
I ate chocolate cake for breakfast two days in a row. I suppose I could call it research and development for work. I mean, it is important to know how many days homemade devil’s food cake lasts exactly, right? Of course, it’s that kind of fuzzy logic that has me wondering why my jeans feel more snug than I’d like.
It’s easy to blame the weather. The temperatures drop, and the needle on my scale rises. Okay, that last bit is a lie. The only scale I own is my OXO one for baking (big surprise!). Years ago, my real scale broke, the needle stuck at 25 pounds, and the kids couldn’t understand why I kept it for so long.
But back to this cake problem, um, I mean work dilemma. Rather than forsake sweets, I tend towards moderation in other ways to balance out my lack of running since the snow started falling mid-January. Salads always find their place at our dinner table, and lately I find myself going back for seconds on them before the main course. My guy isn’t generally a salad person, so I was quite flattered that he’s enjoyed everyone I’ve made so far. There are a couple of basic things that define good cooks, the art of salad making ranking high for me. It’s about texture and flavor, and getting both of these into every bite. Continue reading »
In Dorie Greenspan’s new bi-monthly column in The Washington Post she said “you’d have to be a card-carrying curmudgeon to hate Valentine’s Day”. While there’s something to be said for showing your love every moment you can, rather than cramming it all into one day (and paying way too much for red roses), some days we all just need a little extra boost. Those moments when your mind is too heavy, or perhaps your eyes just too tired from lack of sleep (two things that happened to be ailing me yesterday). Maybe that’s how we should look at Valentine’s Day. A bonus love day, of sorts.
It’s surreal being in love again, and I find myself stopping to take deeper breaths. Trying to appreciate the moments, rather than worry about it all going away. I remember talking to my friend David before I moved, wondering if I’d ever be loved again. He told me to stop thinking about it, and it’d happen when I least expected. Well, he was certainly right about the latter. And in a way, I had stopped thinking about. I’d resolved myself to possibly meeting someone who I could have interesting conversations with, and didn’t mind my kids (plus a cat AND a dog). But really, I thought about settling into some corner of the world once the kids were off to college. A small flat was all I needed, along with a little kitchen and a wi-fi connection. I could live out a peaceful, perhaps even happy existence in a bubble of my own making. Continue reading »