Monthly Archives: May 2011

Beach Breakfast

There’s something about the beach that allows me to really appreciate the summer.  The breeze tosses my hair around and the sound of the crashing waves soothes me as the sand exfoliates and warms my freshly manicured feet.  No longer  are we stuck in the drudgery of daily life, where everyone is forced to wear uncomfortable clothing in excessive heat and humidity.  We trade our work attire for flowing sundresses and muslin wraps.  

Whenever I go to the beach, I have a tendency to wake up ridiculously early.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s just to have a moment of tranquility before everyone else wakes.  Perhaps it’s just the sun rising so early.  Maybe I’m just a morning person.   Either way, there’s always time in the morning at the beach to make my favorite summer treats.   I like it because it’s casual and just what I need.  Some people wake up and have fresh fruit and water.  I am not one of those people.  I like protein so I’m not hungry twenty minutes after eating and coffee so I don’t doze off on the job.  Running after children anywhere is hard work, especially on the beach.  

One of my favorite things in the world is this coffee drink.  It’s just regular drip coffee that’s been frozen after pouring in an ice-cube tray and then blended with whole milk, sugar and a couple of tablespoons of light chocolate syrup.  Absolute heaven.  Top with fresh whipped cream and I’ve completely outdone myself, in my humble opinion.  So simple, yet exactly what I need for a hot day pick me up, no matter where I am.  Caffeine and sugar, yes.  Delicious?  You bet. 

The popover is just a simple popover with just a pinch of cinnamon and sugar.  Sometimes I’ll go savory and add some cheddar and chives, but I was in a sweet mood this morning.  The sun is finally shining…and I can’t wait to go to the beach. 

Mocha Smoothie

Ingredients:

Coffee (chilled or room temperature)

1/2 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons light chocolate syrup

1 tablespoon sugar (or more if you prefer)

Whipped Cream (for the top)

Directions:

Pour coffee into ice-cube tray and place in freezer for about 2 hours, or until frozen.  In blender combine milk, chocolate syrup and sugar.  Drop the coffee ice cubes in blender and blend until smooth.  Top with whipped cream.  Enjoy.

Simple Popovers

(adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Generously grease 12 cup popover pan or 4 oven safe mugs placed on a baking pan with butter.   Place in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat.  Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter will be thin. Fill the popover pans less than half full and bake for 30 minutes without opening the oven door.  Serve piping hot from the oven with butter and jam or fruit and honey.

Posted in Breakfast, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

No Excuses, No Apologies

 

No Excuses, No Apologies: Pasta Ribbons with Tapenade and Peppers

I apologize a lot during the day.  Example?  “Sorry sweetie, you can’t play video games all day long, you know that…Sorry darling, you still can’t play with the outlets….Sorry, but you have to go to the dentist…sorry, no whining, no excuses.  Sorry, you have to wear pants.”  One thing I love about blogging is that it’s best done without excuses or apologies.  I’ll be honest, though.  I don’t have the best, well stocked, kitchen.  I don’t have a pasta roller or cutter.  I don’t have a food processor.  I don’t have a food scale, though I know I should and will soon.  My rolling-pin literally just broke.  The handle snapped right off of it.  It was 10 years old and cheap to begin with, so I was relieved to have an excuse for a new one.  I used a wooden ruler to measure the width of my pasta and it still came out kind of  craggy because I’m generally not that keen of eye nor hand.

I’m fairly inefficient in general and I always lose things.  But, when I cook something, I make absolutely no excuses.  If it sucks, I will not give you a list of reasons why I couldn’t make it work, or couldn’t make it perfect.  I will not go on and on about how it will turn out better next time, though that is my initial instinct.  If it sucks, I make it good.  I either make it good right then, or I trash it and do it again, if all else fails.  You can always start over.

I made this pasta.  It was the first time I had ever made pasta from scratch, by hand.  It was surprisingly easy for me and I’m definitely not a culinary genius, I promise you.  The sauce is garlic and olive confit, that’s been blended with an immersion blender (I use it all the time, and it’s totally worth the thirty bucks, if you ask me) and then married with butter, tomato sauce and oregano, topped with parmigiano-reggiano and diced raw green peppers.  It’s made entirely from scratch by me, who’s generally kind of clumsy and doesn’t have a buffet of kitchen gadgets.

I kneaded the pasta dough, I rolled it out (hopefully your rolling-pin won’t break like mine did.  I had to MacGyver it back together to make do.  I’ll get a new one next week, don’t worry).  Then I cut it using a simple pizza cutter and let it hang to dry over a wooden spoon balanced between the two sides of a large pot. I put some garlic and some olives in some olive oil and let it sit over very low heat.  Simple enough.  Then I used my handy immersion blender to make a tapenade out of it (including the olive oil because who could waste such a beautiful thing).

Then I boiled the pasta and grabbed some crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper and dried oregano and a little pinch of sugar..added those in.

Easy?  Yes.  You officially have no excuses.  Why?  Because if I can do it, anybody can.  I promise you that.  And, if it doesn’t work out, don’t make any apologies, just make it work or do it again so it’s good.  You’ll be happy you did.

Pasta Ribbons

(serves two, multiply as necessary)

  • 200 grams (approximately two cups) of flour (Type 00, preferably) plus more for dusting
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of water (optional, if needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional) plus 3 tbs. (for the pot of water)
  • 7 liters (or slightly less than 2 gallons) of water

On a clean surface, sift flour and salt to create a mound of dry ingredients.  Create a well in the center of the flour with the back of your hand/fist.  Pour eggs into well.

Using your hands take a little of the flour and mix it with the eggs, repeat until all of the flour is mixed with the eggs and a stiff dough ball forms. Add water if necessary and knead on floured surface for fifteen minutes.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 2 hours in a warm, dark place (between clean blankets or dish cloths).

Lightly flour clean work surface and roll dough out until it reaches desired thinness (or use a pasta machine, if you prefer), slice into ribbons of desired thickness. Let ribbons dry for an hour before boiling.  Bring  water to boil. Salt the water to taste (approximately 3 tablespoons is what I used).

Drop pasta into salted, boiling water, move pasta around in water, gently (I used the back end of a wooden spoon), to make sure it doesn’t stick together.  Let the pasta cook in the boiling water for approximately 2 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached.  Drain pasta.

Pour cooked pasta into tapenade (or other sauce of choice) and fold the sauce together with the fresh, cooked pasta.  Garnish with parmesan and fresh herbs or vegetables of choice.

Tapenade (Olive, garlic and tomato)

(serves two, multiply as necessary)
  • 20 Kalamata olives (from jar)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large, peeled garlic cloves
  • pinch of salt (plus additional to taste)
  • pinch of cracked black pepper
  • pinch of dry oregano
  • 6 tablespoons crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • pinch of sugar (optional)

In small saucepan, place 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, garlic, olives and a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper over very low heat.  Let the oil warm for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally (light, small bubbles should form around the garlic cloves throughout cooking).  Blend well with immersion blender.  Add crushed tomatoes, oregano and butter. Taste and add a small pinch of sugar, if you feel it needs it.   Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste (if needed).  Combine with fresh, hot, cooked (al dente) pasta, or spread over warm crusty bread.

Note: Goes wonderfully with bell peppers, in my opinion.

Posted in All, Dinner, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Brown Butter Banana-Pineapple Cake

 It’s mother’s day today.  I have been given the perfect gifts.  I have been given, the gift of sleep and the gift of time.  Today I slept until ten-thirty, which hasn’t happened in over a year.  When I did finally emerge from a much needed slumber, I had avoided multiple messes and meltdowns.  Beautiful, loving cards and gifts were placed next to me on my bedside table.   The boys were fed, clean and behaving themselves while also having a grand old-time.  We enjoyed some hugs and kisses and cartoons together.   Then, I spent entirely too long in the bathroom, flatironing and changing clothes to clean out my closet without anyone banging on the door.  After trying on 3 dresses and deciding on jeans, I proceeded to walk into a spotless kitchen.  Did I mention they did the laundry too?  Amazing! Flawless.

   I currently have two free hands and the kitchen to myself, which has been cleaned by the boys for me to enjoy.   Mike’s in charge.  So they’re outside playing, only to stop for laundry switches.   Now that’s my kind of day.   We should do this Mother’s Day thing more often.  Just a suggestion.   It gives me time to think of cakes.  Like this one!

I’ve recently discovered the concept of one bowl.  I enjoy things that can be made in one bowl.  Less mess.  One large bowl, one cake pan, one small pot, something to mix it and move it.  That cuts the dishes in half, but you still get an amazing cake.  I like this idea. So, I ran with it.  

The rum.  The sour cream.  The brown butter.   I mean, honestly how can you go wrong adding anything to just that alone?

Then…the ripe banana mixed with pineapple juice and garnished with the baked pineapple slices.  It’s very 1950s, and makes me want to wear big fluffy dresses and sweetheart necklines.  It’s retro-chic, which I enjoy.  The pineapple flavor with the banana bring the whole thing to a tropical paradise.  In my mind, that’s where I am today. 

Happy Mother’s Day. 

Enjoy.

  • One overripe banana, mashed
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 3 tbs. dark rum (splash)
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 4-6 pineapple ring slices 
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 eggs

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.

In small saucepan over medium high heat simmer butter until brown, then add sugar, pineapple juice, banana, rum, and cinnamon.  Simmer for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.  Remove from heat.

Place pineapple slices into buttered 9 inch spring form cake pan.  Set aside.

In large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, and baking soda.  Add eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition.   Mix sour cream and half the butter-sugar-banana mixture into batter. Pour into cake pan over pineapple slices.   

Bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean from center of cake.  Remove from oven.

Cool for ten minutes on cooling rack.  Poke holes in cake with a fork.  Remove outer ring of cake pan.  Flip onto cake plate.  Remove bottom of cake pan. Poke more holes in cake with fork.

Pour remaining butter sugar mixture over cake while it’s still slightly warm.  

Enjoy.

Posted in All, Dessert | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

One Recipe. Infinite Possibilities.

Graham Cracker Cereal Bars:

I stared at the last chocolate bunny in the house, wondering, what his fate would be.  I decided that cereal bars were in our immediate future.  We needed to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.  So, something fast and easy was imperative.   By immediate, I mean about 20 minutes, total.  And I melted the bunny all over these bad boys.  Thanks for the sacrifice, bunny.  We greatly appreciate it.

Now, I’m pretty sure that these qualify as anything from breakfast to dessert.  They’re an all in one snack, breakfast and dessert bar.  Use and vary as you see fit, please. I make these free-form on a parchment lined baking sheet because I find it’s the easiest to clean up.  If you want to use a baking dish and butter it and cut the parchment, that’s fine.  But, this is just a fast fix for us before we’re out the door.  So, that’s why I go with the free-form technique.  If you’re concerned about the bars sticking, you can spray the parchment, but I’ve never had any trouble with the bars sticking before.

One basic recipe.  Infinite possibilities.   Best enjoyed outside on a spring or summer day.

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup (or honey)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 20 graham crackers, (5 sheets) crumbled
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 cups cereal (I used 2 cups of rice and 1 cup of oat cereal )
  • 1 cup miscellaneous (Use any combination of the optional additions, below, equalling one cup)

slivered, almonds, toasted*

granola*

flaked coconut*

peanut butter, nutella, almond butter, etc (other nut butter).*

peanuts*

dried fruit of choice*

chocolate chips*

Garnish: *melted chocolate of choice ( in double boiler or microwave) and additional almonds for topping*

* =  optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour,  graham crackers and cereal(s) in large bowl. Set aside.

Melt in saucepan over medium heat, butter with brown sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon and maple syrup (substitute syrups with honey, if you prefer).  Stir.  Bring to simmer, stirring constantly Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Pour butter-sugar mixture over flour-cereal mixture.  Mix and fold very well until everything is evenly coated. Pour onto parchment-lined baking sheet.  Pat down to desired thickness, creating a free-form square on the parchment.  Fold parchment over the edges of the free form square to created tightly packed, smooth edges.

Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.

(Optional )  Melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave and pour over cooled granola bars.  Let chocolate set and enjoy.

Posted in All, Breakfast, Dessert, For Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments