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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Zucchini & Thyme Tart

Is this not gorgeous? I spent Saturday (as usual) at work. All day I couldn't stop thinking about food, I imagined all the recipes I might try when I got home, and day dreamed about cooking courses I could sign up for in the area, I mused over ingredients I could stop and buy on my walk home and new ways I could challenge myself. Part way through my work day, an old friend called me. We decided to have dinner together, and I was nearly ecstatic knowing I would have someone to cook for that night, an opportunity to try out one of the dishes I kept thinking about. I decided I wanted to make a savory tart. I looked at recipes for quite some time online, and even emailed one of my roommates and asked him to check my favorite cookbooks at home, but in the end I improvised. This zucchini & thyme tart is simple and elegant, and tastes just as good at room temp, so you can make it ahead, or even bring it to a potluck to one up the standard pasta salads.

I made the crust from scratch using the Flaky Pie Crust recipe by Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything, which is quickly becoming one of my most trusted resources; I made the filling by mandolin slicing zucchini which I then quickly sauteed with olive oil, garlic, fresh thyme, salt and pepper and dried herbs, and layering it with finely shredded Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. The outcome was savory and delicious, not to mention beautiful. And each step of the process was pretty easy.

How to get rid of whipped cream- a story in pictures

simple & good berry crumble recipe here

I also wanted to take this moment to mention that those who can't afford therapy should really try whipping cream.  Positively cleansing, in 7 minutes or less out goes all the anger, and all that is left is a light, fluffy dairy topping.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday afternoon baking- Classic Crinkle Cookies


You all know how I love alliteration. Classic Crinkle Cookies- how can I resist? This is my attempt at the Betty Crocker original, and no, these weren't made at Christmas time in my childhood, I wonder if I was missing out? These chocolate cookies are rolled in powdered sugar, and as they bake they expand, creating a web of cracks that show the dark chocolate center from underneath the powdered coating. The ingredient list is simple, all things I ordinarily stock for baking projects, and while they do take a while to make (up to 4 hours total) most of that time is for the batter to chill, the active prep time is actually quite short, and the preparation itself is simple. Since they require so long to chill in the fridge, I chose to make the batter in the morning and bake them in the late afternoon. In between, a trip to the Children's Museum with some friends seemed like a perfect diversion.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Penne with Goat Cheese, Asparagus and Bacon


There is a pasta dish that has recently become a  favorite in my family that features only 4 ingredients: olive oil, garlic, goat cheese and asparagus. The sharpness of the goat cheese and crisp sauteed garlic add enough interest that no other ingredients are needed.  Despite that fact, I can't help but add something. And lately, the thing I want to add (to almost any dish, I was planning to add some to the cornbread I was going to serve with my Sweet potato and black bean chili were it not for the fact that 2 of the guests who I made that meal for are vegetarian...) is BACON. Yes, crispy, salty, fatty bacon. What could be better? And what was I thinking for all those years that I refused to eat bacon?

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

On Saturday night a good friend of mine came to visit while in town for the MTELS. As it happens she is vegan, so I ended up searching through my cookbook collection for a recipe that both fit her vegan lifestyle, and was interesting enough for me to want to eat as well. While I respect those that choose veganism, the issue I always encounter is saying goodbye to the foods I love in exchange for what is sometimes boring food. This is not to say that I think vegan food is boring, just that it can be. So, as I searched, I ruled out those recipes that tried to imitate traditional meat or dairy products, and picked a simple dish I was quite excited about trying despite its lack of egg, dairy or meat.  The recipe I chose was the "Quick Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili" from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas, a recent gift from my cousin Anika.

With a short ingredient list, and quick cook time, this was the perfect last minute week night meal. Sure, Saturday isn't a week night by most standards, but as I work Saturdays and come home tired and with limited time, I would say this counts as weekday cooking as well as any other night.(Though to be fair, the amount of wine that was imbibed, and the eventual impromptu dance party- yes, that happened-, was not so very typical of a week night)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday afternoon baking- Chocolate Fudge Tart

                   Consulting my cookbooks for a good sunday afternoon baking recipe.


There is one reason I will probably never be a great baker. Baking involves math, my worst enemy. If you were to ask me off hand "what is 7 + 45?" I would probably break down crying before I could give you an answer. Especially if counting on fingers isn't allowed. So far, I have managed to get away with doing quite a bit of baking without encountering much math at all. Today that changed.

This morning I decided to bake a simple chocolate tart. I went to the grocery store, and picked up my supplies (the store, by the way, was a mob scene due to the current water emergency in the Boston area, lines down each aisle of people eagerly waiting to buy bottled water, most stores have already sold out) and hurried home to get started. No sooner than I took my ingredients out of the bag was I slapped in the face with a real life, contextual math problem. The kind of thing math teachers always say will happen, how you will use math in your everyday life and be grateful that they taught it in school. Well, I guess that all never really got through to me, because as I thought it through my mind could not make sense of any of it.

If I have a 500 gram bar of chocolate, and the recipe calls for 140 grams, and my bar has 40 squares....how many squares do I need for this recipe? My pulse quickened, and my breathing grew labored. MATH RELATED ANXIETY ATTACK!  How can I ever hope to bake well if I can't figure out how many damn chocolate squares this tart will need?

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