Dec 31, 2011

happy new year

i hope yours is a great one, filled with more of the things you love most. xo g

Dec 24, 2011

Dec 18, 2011

holiday food gifts - part 2

la maison du chocolat, french chocolatier extraordinaire, has a full range of exquisite chocolates and gift boxes available online in the states, europe, and japan. you can find the full range here if you reside in the u.s. and here if you live elsewhere. i bought these tiny favor boxes, each containing two chocolate truffles, by the dozens this year. they make great teacher thank you's with a card, and are handy as stocking stuffers and little treats for coworkers, and household suppliers. the presentation is always adorable and the contents incomparable, a brilliant small luxury.

Dec 10, 2011

food gifts - part 1

what is it about luxury summer enclaves that produces such great honey? i don't know. but katama apiary honey from west tisbury in martha's vineyard is just plain amazing honey. we've been eating it on everything. which for me, is a BIG DEAL, as i haven't much of a sweet tooth. i think it was that i grew up eating grocery store honey bear brands, which were pasteurized. raw, unfiltered honey is a different breed of honey. well, now that we are nearly out of katama honey, i started to panic, no honey ever came close to this: not too too sweet, rich complex flavor yet light and deliciously warm tasting. unable to find an online source i begin looking on the supermarket shelves of balducci's market and whole foods. i needn't have worried. the hamptons honey i found at whole foods is just as good and is even local. what's more, it is like a toney beach vacation in a jar. which makes it a pretty great holiday foodie gift. you can buy it online here. plus, myriad health benefits, with vitamins, anti-biotic, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory properties, or so they say. anyway. it is really great and makes a great, inexpensive gift. bring it in a little gift basket with some tea or some scone mix, and it makes a great host/hostess gift.

honey has the sweetness equivalent of table sugar, and excellent properties for baking. i often substitute part of the sugar in recipes with honey and or palm sugar, both i think have a more complex and lighter flavor than table sugar, whether it is made from cane or beet. honey is great for baking, drizzling, and sweetening.

Dec 4, 2011

roast chicken pieces with sweet tomatoes and garlic

this dish, which should be called extremely clever roast chicken breasts with sweet tomatoes, has quickly risen in our rotation to occupy a top spot on our menu several times per month. it is extremely clever, and is the brain child of the brilliant jamie oliver. the chicken skin gets deliciously crisp and the meat is quite tender and succulent, while an incredible broth forms below. i adapted this dish from jamie oliver's recipe for tender and crisp chicken legs with sweet tomatoes from his book, jamie's dinners. i changed the recipe to adapt it for our family's particular tastes, by adding and omitting a few ingredients and changing the cut of chicken and doubling the cannellini beans, we love so much.

this recipe really only takes 10 minutes to put together and then roasts for an hour and a half. a brilliant recipe for weekends or whenever you have guests. it never fails and is highly adaptable.

roast chicken breasts and thighs with sweet tomatoes
serves 4-6

2 chicken breast halves
4 chicken thighs
2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, drained
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
1 whole bulb of garlic, broken up into cloves, skin left on
olive oil
optional: 1 bunch swiss chard, spines removed, leaves chopped, or 8 oz baby spinach

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. season the chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper. first drizzle a little olive oil, then place cannellini beans across the bottom of a snug fitting oven proof pan several inches deep. next the chopped potatoes. scatter in the chopped chard or baby spinach, if using. scatter in a quarter of the tomatoes. mix around a little to distribute evenly. place the chicken breasts on top of this. tuck in the tomatoes and garlic cloves around the chicken pieces, pushing them into the gaps between. drizzle all with olive oil, add a little more salt and pepper if you like. roast for 1 and a half hours in the open pan. at the one hour mark, take it out of the oven and baste the chicken pieces with the collected juices. turn your oven on to convection roast setting if you have it, and cook for the remaining 30 minutes. serve at once. remember to warn your dinner guests to squeeze the garlic out of the skins before eating. we love to squeeze the garlic directly onto fresh bread, heavenly. jamie recommends some alternatives i haven't tried such as omitting the potatoes, but serving with simple mashed potatoes, or shredding the chicken and tossing all with a bowl of linguini or spaghetti. enjoy.

Nov 16, 2011

back by popular demand: pumpkin tarts with ginger

i have been thinking a lot about these this week. pumpkin tarts are my most favoritist thing about autumn and thanksgiving. give me a plate of stuffing and a pumpkin tart and i am completely happy. here's a reprint of my favorite recipe, developed over the years, while pursuing my great love for pumpkin and related squash dishes of all kinds. i love the custardy texture and the combination of pumpkin and crystallized ginger.

pie crust
for two 9 inch pie tins or 8 small tartlet tins
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or oat flour or a mix of the two
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into slices
3 TBSP ice water (add one at a time, may need or less depending on humidity/age of flour)
2 TBSP heavy cream

mix flours with salt and sugar. place in food processor. add cold butter slices. pulse until combined and looking like coarse meal. add 1 TBSP ice water and 1 TBSP cream. pulse until just mixed. add another TBSP of ice water and cream. pulse. dough should be starting to come together now. add 1 more TBSP ice water if needed.

form two discs with the dough. allow to rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes. roll out and place into pie or tart pans. if making a pumpkin pie, it will work best if you warm the dough in the pie or tart pans in a 375 F oven for 5 to 7 minutes before adding the pumpkin filling mixture, as the pumpkin mixture is very wet and can make the crust a bit soggy.

2 15oz cans organic pumpkin
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP minced crystallized ginger*
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 eggs, whisked
whisk the pumpkin, cream, milk, sugars, salt and spices together thoroughly. correct flavor if necessary (sweeter, ginger, etc) add in whisked eggs. pour into prepared pie crusts in pans (prebaked for 5 to 7 minutes). bake in a preheated oven set at 375 for 35 to 40 minutes for a tart and 45 to 55 minutes for a deep dish pie until done, should jiggle just a bit in the center. when you make it in a large tart pan it will be done in 30 to 35 minutes. allow pie to cool for 30 minutes before devouring (in my case, maybe you just eat pie in a restrained and civilized fashion, i do try). tiny tart pans cook much quicker in 25 to 30 minutes.
* if the crystallized ginger is very moist it may gum up as you try to mince it, sprinkle a teaspoon or two of flour on the crystallized ginger as you chop if it gives you any trouble.
** this time i made it with 2 cups milk and 1 cup cream, for a lighter version, still works well and is lighter. not quite the sinfully-rich version, but completely delicious all the same.

Nov 3, 2011

still here

well. that qualifies as a crazy weekend. what a storm. and snow. in october! so unexpected. but importantly, now we've got our power back on. the leaves are still on the trees. all is good. onward.

Oct 24, 2011

pumpkin bread

the leaves are starting to turn here in coastal connecticut, the weather has been gorgeous and sunny with just the right hint of chill in the air, and there really is nothing like perfect fall weather for cooking inspiration. the change in seasons always keeps it interesting. and so i bring you something easy, something healthy and sweet, something to tempt you back into the kitchen.

i could tell you that this pumpkin bread is super healthy, dairy-free, high protein pumpkin bread, but i'd rather omit all that, and just tell you that it is a crowd pleaser and has a light, delicate crumb. this pumpkin bread is great as breakfast, or afternoon tea, or as dessert with some very dairy, freshly whipped cream, my family likes it best gently toasted with a large melty slab of danish butter.

fruit and baking soda breads are an easy baking category to master, and a popular favorite: banana bread, cranberry orange bread, zucchini bread, and my current favorite, pumpkin bread. they take nearly an hour to bake but can be pulled together easily in 10-15 minutes.

pumpkin bread
preheat oven to 350 degrees f

dry ingredients
3 cups flour (in this case i used 1/2 cup teff flour,* 1 cup oat flour, 1.5 cups all purpose flour, i like a little variation in flour, you could easily use just all purpose flour)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp double acting baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice

wet ingredients
1 can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs
1/2 cup soy milk
1 1/4 cups brown sugar or palm sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tsp oats
1 tsp pumpkin seeds

oil a loaf pan. set aside. in a medium bowl whisk dry ingredients. in a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, and olive oil. add dry mixture, stir briefly to just combine. place batter in prepared pan, sprinkle the top with pumpkin seeds and oats, bake 50- 55 minutes at 350, until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. allow to cool for about 15 minutes. invert pan to transfer loaf to a cooling rack and then serving dish. slice and serve.

optional mix ins: 1/2 cup medjool dates, chopped, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

*teff flour is a high protein, high iron flour made from a tiny grain from ethiopia. it is exceptionally nutritious and high in fiber relative to other grains. it has an interesting nutty flavor and a very light texture and you can substitute up to 1/4 cup of teff flour per cup of all purpose flour in most baked goods for added nutrition.

Oct 14, 2011

ornamental kale

i planted some ornamental kale by the front door last weekend. love them. a plant that can withstand winter and flourish in freezing weather. frilly, stalwart, steadfast, and strangely beautiful. they seem to lend a sort of 16th century flair to the entryway. in any case happy friday and have a brilliant weekend. xo, g,

Sep 21, 2011

fresh local apples from the farmers market

i am overrun with gorgeous local apples. must be a bumper crop as they are cheap and plentiful this year at the farmer's market. what should i make? maybe apple yogurt cake? or pancakes with sauteed apples and cider syrup? trusty oaty apple crisp? rustic apple tart? decisions, decisions.

Sep 7, 2011

next up, paris

i have been away a little longer than i intended. but then, you know how it is. and the way little things add up, or big things, singly, swallow us up, from time to time.

here's what i've been doing: so we went to the beach, the family and i. that was great. martha's vineyard. more great. weather was beautiful. we beached, boogie boarded, ate lobster and admired the amazing vineyard light. did it all over again the next day and every day for nearly a week. as we were waiting in line for the car ferry home, we had an earthquake, which, some of us being californians, noticed right away and thought "wow, they are following us, these earth tremblors." then, we pretty much went straight to tornado watches and hurricanes when we got back.

coastal connecticut was hit pretty hard, the largest power outage in connecticut light and power's history of power outages (which is a LOT let me tell you). we baked cookies and oat bars, and ate all our frozen foods in preparation, as we generally lose power for a few days in any big storm. we brought in all our outdoor furniture, nailed our roof to the house frame, things like that. we were lucky and had no serious damage. a few trees fell, but not on us or the house! school was delayed a week and the town was flooded. grocery stores lost power and had to throw out all their refrigerator sections, things like that. a lot of inconvenience but not nearly the proportion of trauma faced in other places.

eventually things returned to normal. school and preseason sports finally started and here i am on september 7, the first day with both kids in school. it has been a compressed few weeks. i am kind of surprised to wake up and find myself here on september 7, 2011, it all happened that fast. anyway, i'm back!

i have many many pictures in storage, travels and recipes, waiting, to show you. next up paris. paris was great. nothing like paris. we will have a stroll next time. happy september! xo, g

Aug 16, 2011

more than a passing interest

i've been doing a lot of reading this summer. mostly cookbooks. mostly swedish and scandinavian cookbooks. i am absolutely gobsmacked by the inventiveness of this cuisine.

i really love reading and traveling and eating. learning how other people see the world, and make do, and thrive, in different locations, with different raw materials.

very inspiring.

we have had a crazy busy summer. and now the weather is clearing up after days and days of rain. i'm going to put in some serious beach time before summer fades away, top priority. see you soon. xo, g