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 know, it doesn’t look like much, but believe me that this pie will change your life. At least when it comes to making pie for a crowd. The weather changed rather abruptly last week. Between that and the sudden realization that Thanksgiving was around the corner, my cravings for pumpkin pie, both eating and baking it, kicked into high gear.
I’ve been doing a lot of baking for the school store, and I wondered the best way to sell the pie there without needing plates or utensils. Slab pie came to mind. Rather than baking it in a round pie plate, you use a jelly roll pan, creating bar-like pieces. The yield is also incredible, turning what would’ve normally been a deep dish pie for 10 into a more suitable serving size of 24 square bars. Continue reading »
It’s officially soup season in upstate New York. Being a year-round soup lover, I celebrate this time of year because I can justify making it for dinner, amidst the complaints from my soup-hating children. Yes, I know, how can they not like a steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup? Usually I can get them to fish out the pasta with their spoons. Neither of them will touch the carrots. They hate them cooked, and only like them raw. You’d think mushrooms were poisonous the way they shriek if I manage to accidentally spoon one into their dish.
Alas, this soup has everything I love it in. This is even a case where I’ll eat the chicken (I’m generally not a fan, even though it’s said I make an incredible roasted one). Something about adding tortellini to my soup brings back to being a kid. It’s like a fountain of youth with each slurp. Continue reading »
There are moments when I still can’t wrap my mind around it all. I’ve traveled miles I never imagined. Seen and done things, I never thought possible. And yet, today as I drove over the bridge to Rhinebeck, all I could think about is what I was doing at this time three years ago. He was still alive, and the idea that he could be gone in an instant, forever, seems inconceivable, even to this day. I suppose the wonder of it, even reflecting back, knowing what I know, the notion that it could still surprise me—I think that’s called hope. Hope is the fuel our minds need to function even when the rest of our system shuts down. Continue reading »
The kids are snuggled in their beds, fast asleep. Much as I should be in bed, too, I’m wide-eyed after a cat nap. It’s become part of Virginia’s bedtime routine. After we read books, I usually curl up with her, to help her fall into a peaceful slumber. This wasn’t always our pattern; certainly not when Michael was alive. Then again, I was always firm about bedtime, knowing that a cuddle on the couch was my reward after a long day. The daytime was all about the girls. Nighttime was a standing date with my guy to catch up on our day, relax, and enjoy curling up in the corner of our L-shaped sofa together.
By now, you’ve probably figured out I’m a bit obsessive about cooking from scratch. Michael used to tease me, and ask when I was going to start making my own water. There is a hazard to this, though, and in my case it started with a simple pot of beans. Most cooks will agree that there is no worse fate for a pot of beans than overcooking them. Beans should have a little bite to them; kind of like al dente pasta. You know their just right when you bite into them, and they give way ever so gently, but still require some chewing, and don’t just collapse in your mouth. They should hold their own, so to speak, when combined with other ingredients, as in the Chickpea, Parmesan and Fennel Salad in Homemade with Love.
Mondays are probably the least loved day of the week, which is why I decided it was the perfect time to finally share one of my biscuit recipes. A little over one year ago, I perfected my buttermilk biscuit recipe. For years I’d been making Dorie Greenspan’s, and while I never fell out of love with it, it was time for this little bird to stretch her wings and go out on her own. The ingredients were pretty much the same—flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, very cold butter, and buttermilk. The ratios and technique are what I tinkered with to make what I think are the fluffiest biscuits, ever.
Bonnie Benwick wrote a great article in this week’s Washington Post about salt. I know, you’re thinking salt, are you kidding me? She hits on an interesting point, though, and one that I do believe is changing. The real truth is that people don’t cook from scratch as much as they did a few generations ago, and the age-old way of writing recipes with salt “to taste”, is confusing since for some homecooks that instinct may not be so fine-tuned.
As I read her article, I thought about something a friend told me a few months ago. Her 10 year old daughter cooks often from Homemade with Love, but said it drives her crazy when I write “salt, to taste” because she’s not sure what that means exactly. That anecdote has been on my mind, and I could imagine her saying “see, that’s what I mean” as I read Benwick’s piece yesterday. It made sense to me the moment she told me her daughter’s opinion on my salt writing tendencies, but I must confess only because she’s so young, and just starting out in her kitchen journey. It is so easy to forget that novice cooks come in all ages, even for someone like myself who prides herself on writing easy, accessible recipes for every cook, regardless of experience. Continue reading »
It hit me in the middle of the day yesterday with an odd feeling of surprise. I’m talking about November. It seemed to tip toe in, and I appreciate the calm greeting. I hope it brings more peace than October. The leaves are defiantly clinging to the trees here upstate, showing off their shades of red, orange and gold with the fanfare of a peacock. I know how they feel, in a way. Letting go isn’t easy. Paying attention to the season changes is an important reminder that life is about loss and renewal; it’s a never ending cycle.
As we settle in for what is perhaps the busiest baking season, I wanted to share something that’s been on my mind for a while now. I’m going to geek out here for a moment, but please stick with me. I promise it’ll make for a better baking experience the next couple of months, in fact for the rest of your life. Continue reading »