Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Well Stocked Baker's Kitchen

Apologies for the severe lack of original content here as of late.  Life has gotten busy, and there are  lots of changes on the horizon. 

Soon I will be moving on from the events job I've had at Harvard these past 3 years, and I've also recently started a new job at Sofra Bakery in Cambridge, which I'm digging.  But the having two jobs at once thing is cramping my style a bit right now.  Just three more weeks....I can do it!  But then I'm moving to a new apartment.  While I hate moving, I am looking forward to a more spacious kitchen, a GAS STOVE!!!, and a proper dining room.  So many luxuries await me!  And it's going  to be a stone's throw from the original Formaggio Kitchen.  Could I be any luckier?

With the extra work I have barely had time to cook, let alone blog about it.  (Or run, or read, or all of those other things that I like to do.)  But, I did see a good quick article on Food52 that I wanted to share.

If you're not familiar with it, Food52 is a fantastic website co-founded by Amanda Hesser, former New York Times food writer, and author and editor of several books.  (Her memoir Cooking for Mr. Latte is one of my all-time favorites.)  Food52 features awesome recipes submitted from home cooks, as well as columns written by some serious chefs and other food writers.  My favorites include Molly Wizenberg of Orangette (a gem of a blog--read it!), and husband Brandon, who submit weekly cocktail recipes, and star baker Alice Medrich, whose articles are full of helpful tips and delicious recipes.

This week Alice names 10 essential baking tools that you should not live without.  I read the list--just to make sure I had them all.  I do.  And the list is perfect, so I thought I'd share it. 

While the list is fairly baking-specific, I think I use each and every one of these items at least once a week, if not more.  If you scroll through some of the reader comments you'll notice some...excellent?... insights, such as: "What about a cutting board!" and, "I can't live without my scissors!"  Okay, yes.  If you don't have a cutting board, then hold off on the offset spatula.  But if you DO have a cutting board, and all of the other basics, AND you like to bake, you'll put all of these items to good use.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Greens, Eggs (and Ham?)

I love a dish that gives me room to experiment, and this this versatile greens and eggs dish certainly fits the bill.  A combination of hearty greens, tomatoes, sausage, eggs, and cheese all baked together makes a great weekend breakfast or a quick weeknight dinner.  

I made this for dinner the other night using a blend of pre-cut "Southern Greens" from Trader Joe's--Mustard, Turnip, Collard, and Spinach.  A blend is a great way to incorporate several types of greens at once, without having to buy bunches of all of them.  (And it's a great shortcut!)  For cheese I used some Gouda that was kicking around in the back of the fridge, and a chicken andouille sausage to add some kick!  I was very happy with the results, but I look forward to playing around and using different greens, trying both hard and soft cheeses, and different sausage flavors.  (And obviously, the sausage can be omitted to make this a vegetarian meal.)  It's easy to double or triple for a crowd; I can see myself making this for a brunch buffet and just dumping the whole thing in a casserole dish.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Spiced Carrot Soup

I love love love soups, particularly in winter.  Paired with a big salad full of veggies, nuts, and tasty greens (spinach and arugula are my faves), it makes a warming, filling, and healthy meal.

If you've read this blog a few times you know that I always have a lot of pantry foods on hand, making soup-making a cinch whenever I have a few veggies kicking around.  This time I had carrots and celery on hand, and the rest was in my pantry and freezer (I keep sliced ginger in the freezer for soups and smoothies--so useful!).  I added a bit of this and a bit of that, and it became a darn good soup, if I do say so myself.  In addition to being a very healthy food, fresh ginger can actually be a bit spicy.  I used about 1½ tablespoons of roughly minced ginger, and there was some heat to this soup.  Use less if you prefer less kick, more for more.  While I didn't measure the stock, I think I used about 3 cups, which made a fairly thick soup, perfect when it's an entree.  More stock will make more (thinner) soup, better as a starter course.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Zucchini Noodles and Sausage-y Tomato Sauce

Maintaining three blogs is a bit time consuming these days (in addition to Macy Bakes, I write, and the blog for Wiggle Room, a Boston-based personal organization company.)  Okay there's the plug for all the blogs.  Go read 'em all and then meet me back here.

I was sort of playing blog roulette: which one shall I update today?  Jordan has been anxious to see our zucchini noodle creation in writing, so that one is today's winner.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Brussels Sprout Salad Splendor

For most people look forward to Fridays because it's the end of the work week.  I keep a pretty unconventional work schedule, so that isn't always the case.  But I still look forward to Fridays because I get to wake up and read the Cook's Illustrated e-Newsletter.  Each week it highlights 3 or 4 recipes from the archives, many of which I probably would never think of or search for if they didn't show up in my inbox each Friday morning.  I don't always want to cook each and every one of them, but there's usually at least one that strikes my fancy.  Last month this awesome Brussels sprout salad recipe was in the newsletter, and it immediately made the leap to my "Things from Cook's Illustrated to Make" list.  (Yes, there is such a list in my life.)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Five Spice Pork Loin With Oranges and Prunes

Friends, I am entering new territory here.  I don't think I've ever done this before, but there's a first time for everything, right?  I am going to blog about something that I didn't make.  It was made for me, but it was just so delicious that I cannot keep it to myself.   

On Tuesday night Jordan made me this simple but absolutely scrumptious pork loin, that combines several of my favorite flavors.  First, 5 spice powder is one of those ingredients that I often forget about, which is sad, because it lends a wonderful slightly exotic but not overpowering flavor that I adore.  You can never go wrong with onions, which also bulk up the sauce, and orange juice and prunes lend a sweet fruitiness that I absolutely cannot resist.  (Prune skeptics, just stop.  Prunes aren't just for old people anymore.  Have you not seen Sunsweet's aggressive marketing campaign?  They're delicious, and that's all there is to it,)

Combine spices, rub meat, brown, add liquid, cover, braise.  So easy.  The result is deliciously tender pork, and a sauce that becomes rich and thick with caramelized onions, sweet, sticky prunes and zesty orange flavor.  I couldn't get enough of it.  (I was eating it out of the pan by the end!)   We tweaked this recipe a little, upping each of the sauce ingredients, because in this case, more is more (delicious sauce).  

It's no glamour shot, but check out that sauce!  God, it was good.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Baked Winter Fruit

I've been on a baked fruit kick lately after rediscovering a recipe I'd clipped a while back.  (Remember that actually using all the recipes that I clip project that I started at the beginning of this year? It's still going....sort of.)

A couple weeks ago I was looking for a dessert to bring to some friends who were having me over for dinner.  I was keen to find something light, since I feel like the bounty of the season is already catching up with me (specifically my hips).  I decided upon a simple recipe for baked winter fruit from the Boston Globe.  It's just a simple combination of apples, pears (you don't even need to peel them!), prunes, raisins, and dried cranberries, with a touch of orange juice, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  You can also add slivered almonds or walnut pieces, if you wish.  Mix, cover, and bake--that's all there is to it!