Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cherry clafoutis recipe, on the lighter side

  • Pin It

Clafoutis is the easiest classic French dessert recipe in existence. You whisk together eggs, milk, flour, sugar and a little melted butter into what's fundamentally a thin, eggy pancake batter. And then you pour it over fruit and stick it in the oven. There's nothing to it. In fact, the only dreary part of making a cherry clafoutis is pitting the cherries. (Which is why I sometimes use apricots. Way easier.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Are raw eggs safe? How salmonella almost killed my baby (also, recipe for homemade mayonnaise with basil)

  • Pin It
Homemade mayonnaise with fresh basil
 Today, for the first time, I made mayonnaise. And then I cried.

Seven years ago this weekend, my younger son, Weston, got sick. Really sick. He was two years old. Days of violent diarrhea took us to the emergency room - not the best place to be on a holiday weekend. On Memorial Day, the tests came back showing salmonella. The salmonella bacteria had entered his bloodstream. Salmonella sepsis is life-threatening, especially in the very old, the immunocompromised, and the very young. Weston was very, very young.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bread pudding recipe with cherries and chocolate

  • Pin It
Cherries, hand-picked in southern California's Leona Valley (photo by Carolin Shining)
There's only one thing to do with leftover bread, and that's to make bread pudding. This combination - dark chocolate, sweet cherries, and a slug of spirits - wins rave reviews every time. If fresh cherries aren't available yet in your area, dried cherries work too. Or just wait a few weeks. They're coming.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pinto beans with Saag's sausage

  • Pin It

About once a week I make rice and beans for dinner. I wish I could say that it's part of a "more plants" menu plan. I'd be fine with that, but I live with three men (one large, one medium-sized, one smaller) who are ardent carnivores. Rice and beans may be plants, but in our house they are generally decorated with meat: bacon, sausage, ground beef or turkey, leftover steak or pork chops, whatever.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bacon pizza recipe with green garlic

  • Pin It

When I think back to the first times my kids and I cooked together, I always think about pizza.

I remember both kids as toddlers, standing on a chair at the kitchen counter, poking their sticky fingers into a wad of pizza dough and rolling their little pieces into odd shapes.

I remember little hands holding big spoons as they spread tomato sauce around on the uncooked pies.

I remember cringing when more shredded cheese ended up on the tray and the floor than on the pizza.

But most of all I remember their delight when the hot pizzas came out of the oven and they took the first bite of their pizza, the dinner they created and decorated all on their own (more or less).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Salmon salad with dill

  • Pin It

Leftover fish doesn't last long in my kitchen. Mixed with mayonnaise and adulterated with herbs and lemon, cold fish salad makes a perfect midnight snack. Emery, my 12-year-old, loves it in his lunchbox - ah, the joys of packing lunch for my little gourmand! He claimed today that he was still tasting dill at dismissal, a full three hours after he ate his sandwich. Here's hoping dill and parsley have something in common (I'm thinking about fish breath)....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spaghetti with squash blossoms

  • Pin It

The other day my husband and I were both working at home. He works at home most of the time; I work at home when I have conference calls scheduled straight from early in the morning until after noon, because by the time I'm off the phone it doesn't make sense to spend time driving to the office.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cinnamon blondies

  • Pin It

If you've read my "About me" page, you know that I generally prefer salty to sweet. I'll take french fries over cake any day. Pizza or cookies? No contest. Pizza always wins.

Which is why these cinnamon blondies are extremely dangerous. I could have eaten the whole pan. In fact, I was well on my way. I had to take the rest to work to save myself from a complete binge.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Steamed leeks in vinaigrette

  • Pin It

There's a little bistro on a quiet side street on the Left Bank in Paris that serves poireaux vinaigrette, or steamed leeks in a traditional French vinaigrette dressing.

No, that's not quite right. Just about every bistro on every side street in every Paris neighborhood serves poireaux vinaigrette during the late winter and into the spring. It's a quintessential French starter, the perfect prelude to a nice Dover sole swimming in browned butter, a chewy hangar steak buried under a pile of crisp fried potatoes, or maybe a seared duck breast with a tangy-sweet fruit sauce on the side.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pourtal's puff pastry with chocolate {pain au chocolat}

  • Pin It

On those rare occasions when the kids are out of the house at night (thank you, friends, for hosting those precious double sleepovers), my husband and I savor date night. Neither of us drinks much, but I love a good wine bar. Drinking an exotic pour makes me feel chic and sophisticated, even if my palate is too rough to be able to tell chardonnay from sauvignon blanc, merlot from cab, or prosecco from champagne.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fried onion pakora recipe

  • Pin It

I learned a lot of things at last weekend's Camp Blogaway retreat for food bloggers.

From Carolyn O'Neil, former CNN reporter and author of The Dish on Dieting, I learned that at the end of a video segment you want to "tie it in a bow" - that is, find a good line to wrap the whole thing up and send it on its way.

From Sarah Gim, who runs Tastespotting, I learned that a good food photo is like pornography: She couldn't say exactly what she looks for when choosing photos for Tastespotting, but she knows it when she sees it.

From Andrew Wilder of Eating Rules I learned that I am not the only person who cries in public at the drop of a hat. (Welcome to the club, my friend.)

But perhaps the most important thing I learned at Camp Blogaway was how to make onion pakora.

During one of the breaks I was chatting with Rashmi Nigam of YumKid. I can't remember what we were talking about, but at one point I said, "Hey, my younger son loves onion pakora. Is it hard to make?" She said no, not at all: You mix chickpea flour with water, dip the onions, then fry in hot oil. It sounded simple enough, and I filed the recipe away in the back of my mind.

I got home from camp on Sunday afternoon, plenty tired and grimy. But after a shower I got a second wind and headed for the kitchen. The kids were running around in the backyard spraying each other with the hose. I was still thinking about pakora, so I sliced onions, dug out the chickpea flour from the back of the pantry, and poured canola oil into a pot.

Half an hour later we were burning our fingers on a tangle of tasty fried onions. If there's anything better than fried onions sprinkled with salt, I haven't found it. Hello, snack of my dreams. You're a keeper.

print recipe

Fried onion pakora
This traditional Indian snack combines the earthiness of chickpea flour with the pure joy of fried onion rings. If you like things spicy, add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper to the batter.
  • 1 onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups grapeseed or canola oil, for frying
Peel the onion, cut it in half, and slice it thinly. You want to cut pole to pole, with the ridges rather than against them; this helps the onion retain some of its texture, which is important for this recipe.Mix the chickpea flour, 1/2 tsp salt, coriander and cumin in a medium-sized bowl. Add the water, starting with 1/4 cup, until the batter is the consistency of pancake batter. Add the sliced onions to the batter and toss to coat.Heat the oil in a saucepan until the surface shimmers. Add one piece of onion to the oil to test the temperature. If it bubbles fairly vigorously and turns golden brown within a minute or two, you're fine. I've never used a thermometer for this kind of deep-frying - you don't have to be that exact.Line a plate with paper towels and keep it beside the stove. Drop clumps of the batter-coated onions a few tablespoons at a time into the hot oil and fry them until golden brown, turning with a long-handled spoon now and then. Take the fried onions out and drain them on the plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all the onions have been fried. Eat as soon as the onions have cooled enough so you won't burn your fingers, sprinkling with more salt before serving if desired.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easy lemon bar recipe

  • Pin It

THE SCENE: A breezy Sunday evening in spring. Dinner is over and Mommy is cleaning up the kitchen. Hot Dog Boy, the nine-year-old son, enters the kitchen. Fresh from the shower, he's wearing green pajamas and carrying his toothbrush.

Mommy, you know those lemon bars you make sometimes? Those are my favorites and we haven't had them in a really long time. When are you going to make them again?

[Heart melting but trying to play it straight]: I don't know, honey. We'll see.

EARLY THE NEXT MORNING: Hot Dog Boy emerges from his bedroom wearing his school uniform and rubbing his eyes. He shuffles into the kitchen.

Good morning, sweetie. I've got a surprise for you - look on the counter.

[Hot Dog Boy shuffles over to the kitchen counter and sees the pan of lemon bars Mom made after he went to sleep the night before. He smiles.]

Can I have three for breakfast?

The end

print recipe

Easy lemon bar recipe
This is the easiest lemon bar recipe I've found, and it gets rave reviews every time. Chill the pan at least a few hours before cutting.
  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x9-inch pan with baking spray, then line the pan with aluminum foil (this will make it easier to remove the lemon bars in one piece so you can cut them properly on a cutting board). Spray the aluminum foil with baking spray as well.In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of the flour, 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, the melted butter, and the salt with a fork until a crumbly dough forms. Press the dough into the prepared pan so it covers the bottom and goes about 1/2 inch up the sides. Bake the crust about 15 minutes or until it just starts to turn golden. While the crust is baking, whisk together the remaining 1/8 cup flour, eggs, granulated sugar, baking powder and lemon juice. (I always put the baking powder through a little strainer to be sure the lumps are gone.) Pull the crust out of the oven, pour over the lemon mixture, and return the pan to the oven for another 30 minutes, or until the center no longer jiggles when you shake the pan.Cool the lemon bars in the pan for half an hour, then refrigerate at least two hours before cutting. This will help you get nice, even edges - and believe me, rushing the process ensures a mess. Cut with a large knife into 9 even squares, like a tic-tac-toe board. Dust the lemon bars with the remaining 2 Tbsp powdered sugar before serving.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 9 lemon bars