Thursday, May 6, 2010

tomatillo salsa

i made a pretty good batch of tomatillo salsa a few nights ago. there's nothing terribly unhealthy about it, and it is a good accompaniment to most everything: with fish or chicken, tossed with black beans and tomatoes for a kind of salad... even as a dip for veggies.

2 large spanish onions, cut into thick rings
1-2 lbs tomatillos (i didn't weigh my haul, but i can tell you that it was almost a full sheet tray's worth), cut in half
1-2 jalapenos sliced in half, seeds removed
4 cloves garlic
1 c cilantro leaves
2-3 T coarse salt

line sheet tray with foil, for easy clean-up, and load it up with onions, tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeno. put under the broiler, rotating the tray and flipping the vegetables occassionally. this may take up to 30 minutes. i was surprised how long it took!

once the veggies have cooled, puree them in a blender. add cilantro leaves and salt and puree once more.

**i don't know if it was just the tomatillos that i got, but i ended up adding a few teaspoons of sugar to balance out the acidity.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

ladies night

melon, prosicuitto, and basil on toast
pasta with asparagus and parmesan
arugula, roasted tomato, and pine nut salad


going. all. out.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

lazy saturday

well, lazy now that i'm home from work.

so what am i doing? making big batches of healthy-ish meals and things to snack on during the week. i may also be making some dark brown sugar ice cream...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


this babka is no joke. other than the carrot cake from the previous post, this may well be the best and most versatile sweet i have EVER EVER eaten. the recipe seemed a little intimidating at first, but it wasn't bad-- i made it on a whim, right before i was having company over. i don't even want to tell you how much of it i have eaten in the past 24 hours. i am on an all babka diet.

i took the wise advice of my sister jenny and cut this recipe into thirds, to yield one loaf pan. some of the math ends up a little weird, but not enough that it will mess anything up. i am definitely making this again-- i might even make the full 3 times batch.

chocolate babka, from smitten kitchen
yields 1 loaf pan

1/2 c milk, warm to the touch
pinch sugar
1 1/2 t yeast
1/3 c + 1/4 c sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
2 c flour
1/4 t salt
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, room temperature
1 T cinnamon
1 stick butter + 1 1/2 T butter, room temperature

mix together the yeast, pinch of sugar, and milk. let stand until foamy. whisk in the egg, yolk, and 1/4 c sugar until well combined. whisk together the flour and salt; add to egg/yeast mixture and mix until well combined. if using a stand mixer, you will now want to use the dough hook: add 5 1/2 T butter, and mix until fully incorporated and smooth, 5-7 minutes. put dough in a buttered bowl and let rise at least one hour, until doubled in size.

meanwhile, combine cinnamon, remaining sugar, and chocolate. using a wooden spoon or a pastry cutter, mash in the remaining 4 T butter until you have a homogeneous mixture.

roll out the dough into a 16"x16" square. brush the edges with egg wash (or milk, which is what i did-- i ran out of eggs). and cover the dough with the chocolate mixture (reserving 2 T), leaving a 1/4" border. roll the babka tightly like a jelly roll, and pinch the ends together. give the babka four or five twists, or as many as you can manage. carefully, put the reserved chocolate filling on the left side of the babka. fold the right side over, pinch the ends, and give two more twists. put the babka into a greased loaf pan and let rise for 30 minutes.

bake at 350 for 55 minutes, then turn the temp down to 325 and bake an additional 20 minutes.

**note: i did not make the streusel that deb did. (not only did i run out of eggs, but i also ran out of butter.) this affected the baking time, which was slightly less, and my method. the top browned very quickly, so i covered it with foil for more than half of the baking time. the babka was excellent the streusel, and the crust was really nice, but i think it may be slightly more moist with it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

cake tasting

has there ever been a more awesome implication of words than that of "cake" and tasting"?? i had been looking forward to this day for quite some time, and it did NOT disappoint. we powered through, considering we had just had a fantastic and decadent (seriously, top ten meals of my life) at niche.

getting ready... plenty of milk and tupperware cups.

one of the bakeries wasn't able to schedule a proper tasting... so we bought two whole cakes instead (thanks, mom!!):

the second cake. and the carnage of our taste test:

each bakery seems to do their samplers slightly different. one bakery gave us tons of tiny pieces of cake (three different kinds), along with little containeres of all frosting options (buttercreams) and all filling options (fruit, usually, but not always). you could mix and match entirely as you want. another bakery gave us large pieces of cake-- red velvet, vanilla, almond; each sandwiched with vanilla frosting. it came with samples of the different buttercream options.

but see that cake in the third picture? carrot. with alternating layers of cream cheese frosting and butter pecan filling. topped with the most incredible vanilla buttercream.

i think we have a winner!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

birthday dinner at home restaurant

brought to you (me) by michael gaertner.

michael designed a menu for my birthday, and i got to pick which dishes i wanted! i chose:

garlic and goat cheese flatbread
endive and herb salad
squid ink pasta with braised octopus
blood orange sorbet

i chose the main course almost as a dare: could he do it?? YES. HE. COULD.

here is the beautiful squid ink pasta. as delicious as the octopus was (and oh so tender!) it doesn't photograph quite as nicely.

flatbread-- i made the dough for michael and he did the rest! this was delicious.

the salad was awesome... sadly, we forgot to take any more pictures after the above. it was curly endive, and all sorts of herbs: mint, parsley, marjoram, dill, tarragon... maybe more. everything tasted so interesting and exciting out of context. mint and marjoram especially! i made a buttermilk herb dressing to go with it. the dressing was easy and so so so good. in fact, i'm a little worried that i know how to make such a delicious creamy dressing at home-- i'm going to want it ALL THE TIME. whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, and seasonings to taste (and until you have a consistency you like.) i used dill, tarragon, and a whole lot of mashed garlic. awesome.

there is not much to say about the blood orange sorbet, except that it was very simple and very delicious. and that it's especially good mixed with a little lime sherbert.


better than the new york times?

Monday, February 15, 2010


i don't know why i stopped having valentine's themed birthday parties... they are really the best!! this was billed as a tea party type affair, but it turned into a late night party that necessitated the ordering of heart-shaped pizzas.

on the menu:

chocolate tarts filled with chocolate ganache
vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream
mini pear/strawberry hand pies

colleen made the fantastic strawberry pudding; emily made the delicious eclairs; lauren provided the fun decorations; michael whipped up a fruit punch!

chocolate tart shells (adapted from martha stewart living)
1 c flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 t salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 egg yolk

whisk together flour, salt and cocoa powder; set aside. beat butter until light and fluffy, then beat in sugar and beat an additional several minutes. beat in egg (note: martha did not call for this, but my dough was very dry... i'm glad i had egg yolks on hand leftover from my buttercream!).shape dough into two discs and let it chill for 30 minutes. roll dough out to 1/4" thickness. press into desired shapes (i used hearts of various sizes). bake on greased cookie sheet for 20 minutes-- baking time should stay the same regardless of tart size.

the vanilla cupcake recipe i used is a pretty good one (from the chopping block), but very basic. any vanilla cupcake recipe will do. i took this recipe straight out of the class packet-- it wasn't until i had measured out 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of buttermilk, and 1 cup of milk that i realized this recipe certainly was going to make more than a dozen. oops.

i used this buttercream recipe. (i think... i looked at so many.) it was pretty easy, but tasted slightly more buttery than i would have liked... so, i just added a bunch of powdered sugar until it looked and tasted right. my only complaint is that this buttercream is not white. sigh. the perfect and pristine cupcakes of my dreams were not meant to be... regardless, these cupcakes (and especially the frosting) got rave reviews.

i hope everyone had a good weekend! and here's to more frequent blogging!