It’s hard to believe it’s already Wednesday and time for another Good (Food) Reads, a short collection of food stories we’re loving. We had a glimpse of spring this past weekend (yes!) and while the temperatures have dipped back firmly into winter, it’s got me excited about what’s to come. I’m starting to see fresh asparagus pop up at grocery stores and I’m so ready for new fruits and vegetables to join them!
One of the very first books I got when I first started cooking was Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. At the time, Nigella wasn’t yet a household name here in the U.S. I used to watch her first show, Nigella Bites, on Style Network (does that even exist anymore?!?). I loved the glimpses into London life and her quirky British sensibilities. She was unabashedly in love with food and it made me want to cook everything she did! One of my favorite recipes from those early days – one that I still make today – is for Molten Chocolate Babycakes. In the book, she refers to them as “the acceptable face of culinary cute” and I couldn’t agree more. They are however, also absolutely delicious….
First things first, guys. I made this amazing Crockpot Lentil Soup from Pinch of Yum the other day and it was amazing. It’s full of flavor and easy, easy, easy to prepare. We try to stick with Meatless Mondays in our house and I’m happy to report this soup was the perfect vegetarian meal! It is filling, healthy, and hearty. I did make a few tweaks to Lindsay’s recipe – my husband hates kale (I know! He says it’s a garnish, not a food!) so I used chopped spinach in place of the kale. Also, I didn’t have any yellow split peas on hand so I made the whole thing with lentils. I highly recommend her suggestion to finish the soup with a splash of red wine vinegar and serve with crusty bread and parmesan….
If you’re ever in need of a crazy easy dessert, this Pomegranate Lime Sorbet is most certainly a contender. The recipe was adapted from the November 2015 issue of Bon Appétit. In the magazine, they used the sorbet to make parfaits with labneh (a Lebanese strained yogurt – similar to greek style), pistachios and a drizzle of honey. As we were using the sorbet as a palate cleanser of sort for our recent dinner party, we chose to serve it simply in Meyer lemon halves, sprinkled with a dusting of lime zest….
It’s a good week in the internet, folks. Especially, when it comes to good food reads. Here are my favorite recipes, links, and articles for the week. Happy reading!
Alexandra’s Kitchen has long been a favorite read in the blog world. I was first introduced to the blog by wonderful sister-in-law, who loves to make her fingerling potatoes with rosemary and thyme (try them – you won’t regret it!). I’m aching to make this white bean and orange salsa. Sounds like the perfect winter treat.
Since I’ve got salsa on the brain, I’ve been looking at tons of Mexican recipes. These Mexican Molletes are next up on my to-try list! Avocados are great right now and I’ve never met a recipe with cheese and homemade refried beans I didn’t love. Bring. It. On.
Danielle Walker and her Against All Grain books are go-to sources for healthier, but still hearty recipes my whole family loves. I just made these Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Blue Cheese Dressing and they were a hit. If you leave out the cheese, these are paleo and Whole30 friendly, but honestly, I say leave it in. We could all use a little more blue cheese in our lives.
Avocado tzatziki. Yes, you read that right. I will be making these 30 Minute Greek Chicken Lettuce Cups with Avocado Tzatziki ASAP.
Boozy olives. My kind of recipe. Thanks, Sweet Paul. He suggests that they’ll make great gifts, but let’s be real, these aren’t going anywhere but in my fridge.
And for a good morning, Coconut Mango Muffins from The Clever Carrot. Yes, please. They’ll be the perfect breakfast treat to accompany a chai latte.
Good (Food) Reads for your week:
A strange, but very useful kitchen tip: If your dishwasher needs a good cleaning, try Tang! I was noticing my dishes weren’t as sparkling recently and saw this technique and gave it a try. I’m happy to report it worked and with very minimal effort. Do you have any great kitchen hacks you love?
When I lived in Boston, there was the best little Cuban restaurant just up the block from my apartment called El Oriental de Cuba. I still have dreams about their cuban sandwiches and tamales, especially on a cold day. I’ve been on a quest to find something comparable for a few years now. I’m hoping this recipe for Cubano Sheet Pan Sliders from The Kitchn might keep my cravings at bay until I can get back to Boston/JP.
Lately I’ve had the worst luck with bananas – they seem to go from green straight to brown! So, we’ve been doing a lot of banana bread around here. While I usually love the basic recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, I think I’m going to try this Maple Olive Oil Banana Bread version by Shutterbean.
Yesterday was Fat Tuesday here in the United States (did you make a King Cake?). IFormally known as Shrove Tuesday, for Christians it is the last day before the traditional fasting period of Lent. In the U.K. this is often known colloquially as “Pancake Day” and is celebrated by eating pancakes! That is definitely a holiday I could get on board with, especially if these Lemon Cardamom Pancakes with Honey Drizzle were involved.
Sometimes you just need Frito Pie and Not Without Salt does it right. Again. I can’t wait to make this recipe!
And for balance, this simple Sesame Ginger Salmon en Papillote from Kelsay Nixon. I’ve never tried the en papillote technique, but it seems perfect for a busy weekday night. It might even work for a sweet, at home Valentine’s Day dinner when paired with some bubbles (I’ve been loving Italian proseccos for casual dinners) and a crisp, crunchy slaw-type salad.
Happy reading – and cooking!
The winter months are not known for their abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. After the heavy meals of the holiday season, the arrival of the mid-winter citrus crop is always a welcome addition to my kitchen. A few weeks ago I bought a giant bag of fresh limes at Costco, and while a few wound up in gin and tonics, I was left with pounds of limes and a little inspiration. Enter: Lime Curd with a Hint of Vanilla. It’s an easy, creamy, bright and versatile treat that can be added to baked goods like tarts, cupcakes or scones, or simply eaten with a spoon (my preferred method!).
Lime curd is a careful meld of butter, sugar, citrus juice, and eggs. Gently heating the eggs in the presence of sugar allows them to stay creamy and light and keeps them from scrambling. If you’re into the science of cooking, check out this article in the LA Times (from 1998!). The beauty of a citrus curd is that its proportions are forgiving. I prefer a soft, slightly more tart version so I use whole eggs, less sugar, and a moderate amount of butter. If you want a sweeter and firmer version (for use in bars or pies, for example) you can simply increase the sugar and switch to egg yolks. The key to the recipe is really to take it low and slow and be sure to temper the eggs so they don’t scramble. Let it cool and then just try to keep from eating it all at once. It’s delicious on scones and really fantastic mixed into some vanilla Siggi’s yogurt in the morning. The curd will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week and freezes beautifully.
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup lime juice (approximately 2 large or 3-4 small limes)
- zest of 1 lime
- ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste
- Melt the butter in a non-reactive sauce pain over low heat.
- While the butter is melting, pulse together the sugar and lime zest in a food processor until combined.
- Add the lime juice, sugar and zest, to the pan with the butter and whisk until the sugar dissolves.
- Gently beat the eggs in a small bowl.
- Working one tablespoon at a time, add some of the lime juice mixture to the beaten eggs. Be sure to keep whisking so as not to scramble the eggs!
- Add the egg/juice mixture back to the sauce pain.
- over continued gentle heat, whisk the mixture constantly until a smooth curd begins to form, somewhere just below a simmer (and around 160-175 degrees).
- Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in the vanilla bean paste to taste.
Well, it’s Wednesday, and time for another batch of good (food) reads. Here in the blustery midwest, we are digging out after our first real snowstorm of the year. The blizzard conditions made travel a bit anxiety provoking, but also made cozying up inside with a good book and comfort foods (give me all the carbs!) even more appealing than usual. On days like this, I love a piping hot cup of Aveda’s Comforting Tea and a slice of earthy, slightly spiced pumpkin bread (recipe coming soon to the blog!). What are your snow day favorites?
It may be a few days beyond meatless monday, but these Cauliflower Steaks with Romesco sauce look CRAZY good. Using chickpeas instead of bread to thicken the romesco is genius!
Speaking of bread, this Panzanella with Winter Squash and Sage, is next on my list. I had always thought panzanella was a summer-time only dish, with it’s heavy reliance on bright and fresh tomatoes, but this recipe uses roasted squash instead. Bring on the carbs!
Mardi Gras kicks off in one week! Do any of you make King Cake? NPR has a great article on the history of the king cake and all of it’s pop-culture permutations.
And because winter is the season for roasted everything, do yourself a favor and check out this piece from The Splendid Table featuring Michael Ruhlman talking about roasting. I particularly love the bit about testing your oven with Pillsbury biscuits! LOVE. Mostly because it’s an excuse to eat those totally-processed-but-oh-so-delicious weird little dough balls…
Take advantage of all the amazing winter citrus right now and make these Crunchy Chicken Spring Rolls with Blood Orange Dipping Sauce. Please. Thank me later.
Speaking of citrus, Heartbeet Kitchen featured Roasted Citrus Bowls with Honey Mascarpone and I almost drooled on my computer. Please go check it out. And while you’re there, someone convince me to get over my beet aversion and make these Fermented Beets. They are so pretty! (And I love pickles and they’re just like pickles, right? Right)
Finally, if you’re itching for some of the Avedea tea I mentioned and you want to try a DIY version, here’s a recipe from Wisdom and Honey. I think my next trip to the co-op will be in search of licorice root.
Until next week….
I don’t know about you guys, but I have a complete addiction to cookbooks. I blame my habit on my grandmother (hei hei, Bestemor!), whose home is always filled with the smells of something wonderful baking and whose pantry is overflowing with cooking tomes. She tends to favor old, local, home-style cookbooks, often bought at church fundraisers or garage sales – ones that over the years have been peppered with priceless notes and anecdotes. My mother has a similar love of cookbooks, though with a slightly more modern, photo heavy bent to her collection. Personally, I love them all.
With the rise of cooking blogs, Pinterest, and digital food magazines, we are surrounded by recipes and beautiful photos of food with just the swipe of a finger. It is a wonderful thing and the ease of web-based resources is something I really appreciate in the midst of the every day life hustle and bustle. There is something so wonderful though, about a slow afternoon with a cup of coffee and an actual book. One that you can hold in your hand, and read cover to cover, savoring the recipes and stories their authors have put down. Over the years, I’ve managed to collect a respectable assortment of wonderful cookbooks and in the process, compiled a list of favorite recipes that I return to again and again. It is a few of those recipes (and their books!) that I want to share with you today.
Since we have been talking a lot about breakfast and baking the past week, I’ve put together five of my favorite cookbooks for baking bread and sweet treats:
- The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois). The title of the book talks about the “discovery that revolutionized home baking” and it’s not just hyperbole. Their basic boule or bread recipe contains only four ingredients and is so simple but wonderful. I like to eat it straight from the oven with some honey butter and salt but it’s also wonderful served along side pasta or stews, to soak up all those sauces.
- The New Best Recipe. This book is an update of the original Best Recipe, first published in 1999. From the genius editors at Cooks Illustrated, you really can’t go wrong with any of the recipes in it. My personal favorite are the lemon bars and the molasses spice cookies.
- How To Be A Domestic Goddess (Nigella Lawson). Also an older book, this is essentially a collection of decadent treats. Make the chocolate loaf cake and you won’t regret it.
- Date Night In (Ashley Rodriguez). A newer addition to my shelf, I can’t stop making the Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies. It’s a problem.
- The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. The version I have is slightly different, but I’m assuming the recipe for blueberry muffins (with lemon!) hasn’t changed. With it’s thick, buttery dough with yogurt and lemon, it’s almost more of a cake than a muffin. And that’s just the way I like it.
What are your go-to books when it comes to baking? Are there recipes your family asks for again and again? Let us know!
As much as I love to bake sweet treats, my own particular eating preferences lean heavily toward the savory. Give me a plate of salty carbohydrates any day over pastries and pies. This sentiment is most true at breakfast time. I can easily pass up the donuts and pancakes, but put a plate of bacon, eggs, and potato in front of me and I don’t stand a chance. Enter: the egg bake. The nemesis of my skinny jeans and my favorite breakfast indulgence. It’s a make ahead, one pan wonder with salty and cheesy carbs. When I got married, my mother and mother-in-law gave me a handwritten book filled with treasured family recipes. Included in that wonderful book is her basic egg bake, which I have made a thousand times and love, for it’s simple goodness and ease of adaptability to all tastes.
The specific recipe below is her classic combination, a tried and true standby, with only a minor decrease in the amount of butter used in the hash brown crust. It requires minimal chopping and mixing, though I do recommend shredding your own cheese if you have the time. The dish can be made ahead (fully baked) and gently reheated in a 200 degree oven in the morning, but truthfully it comes together so quickly that it’s not much of a chore to toss it together while sipping on some coffee in the quiet moments before your hungry crowd gathers. Try it as written, or mix it up with chicken sausage and sliced jalapeño, bacon and roasted red peppers with melty gobs of goat cheese mixed in, or leave out the meat and add in some onions, broccoli, and peppers for a vegetarian options. The possibilities really are endless.
Serve it with some good coffee and fresh fruit and you have a hearty breakfast that will feed a crowd!
More Breakfast Egg Bake Inspiration from around the web:
A leek, ham, and cheese bake from Smitten Kitchen.
Naturally Ella‘s herb and grain filled version.
Giada gives us an Italian twist on the breakfast staple.
And for the more adventurous, Saveur’s Persian Herbed Frittatas.
What family breakfast traditions do you have? Leave us a comment on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and let us know!
- 16 ounces frozen hash browns
- ¼ cup of butter, melted
- 2 cups diced ham
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded pepper jack or swiss cheese
- 5 Eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
- 1 Cup milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place the frozen hash browns in a 9x13 pan and pour the melted butter over the potatoes.
- Bake until lightly browned.
- Decrease the oven heat to 350 degrees.
- Sprinkle the ham and cheese over the has browns.
- In a medium bowl, gently whisk together the eggs and milk until just combined.
- Pour the egg mixture over the cheese and hash browns.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. (Note: I like a crispy, slightly burned cheese layer so tend to bake mine on the longer side of 30 minutes.)