Archive for the ‘food/recipes’ Category

salad for dinner

salad for dinner by Jeanne Kelley

It hasn’t been as godawful hot here like it was last week, but still it’s hot. Dinnertime is of course the hottest part of the day, which makes for a very crabby cook. I’ve tried to make myself a little easier to be around by making cold salads pretty much every day for dinner. This book, obviously, has helped.

nicoise salad

Salad for Dinner,by Jeanne Kelley, is not a vegetarian cookbook, though it may sound like one. One chapter of the book is dedicated to meat free salads, but the rest are focused on seafood, fish, poultry, and meat. The salads are substantial, inventive, simple, and really just beautiful. She has some classics in the book, like salade nicoise. My nicoise salad (above) is actually not at all like the one in the book–which has artichokes and peppers and a delicious sounding anchovy vinaigrette–but hers is not very much like the classic salad anyway.

thai beef salad

Some salad seem to be an idea of a dinner turned into a salad: Vietnamese pork meatball banh mi salad, spicy sriracha buffalo chicken salad. And some salads are beautiful, seasonal ingredients that come together to make a perfect salad: Oregon summer grilled chicken salad (with peaches and blackberries). The book is a fantastic resource for different kinds of salad greens, dressings, lists of make-ahead salads, and how to make up your own salad for dinner. I may have checked the book out from the library, but it will be on my shelf for good soon enough.

three salads

I’m going to leave you with a salad recipe that isn’t from the book at all, rather from another excellent cookbook, River Cottage Everyday. This salad was so damn simple and good I had to share.

Fresh Peas and Ricotta salad

adapted from river cottage everyday by hugh fearnley-whittingstall

  • 1 lb peas (fresh if you can get them)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (again, the fresh stuff is so much better)
  • 3 or 4 green onions thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • a herb (thyme is nice or basil or mint or even tarragon, but not all of them together)

Cook the peas in salted water. Rinse them in cold water until they’ve cooled off. Mix with onions and herbs.  Pour a few big glugs of olive oil and squeeze about a 1/2 lemon on top. Make sure everything is coated and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Gently mix in the ricotta and serve. If you want to make this into a meal, some chicken would not be out of place.



summer journal: strawberry picking

strawberry picker

We had a weird spring, so the strawberry crop was a little weak, but that didn’t stop us. We (I) picked a bunch and we (they) ate a bunch, then we came home and cooked a bunch. Strawberry jam was of course on the docket, but this year I also made strawberry fruit roll ups and strawberry syrup. The fruit roll ups were fantastic! I used this recipe, but cut the sugar down to a few tablespoons.

star hat

The strawberry syrup, though, that’s where it’s at. Last year I checked out the book Canning for a New Generation so many times from the library I finally just bought the damn thing. Canning books usually put me off because the recipes are super labor intensive. This book is different. The author, Liana Krissoff, doesn’t assume you have any fancy canning supplies, only a big pot and some jars. She even tells you how to make some equipment–throw rubber bands around your tongs and you have a jar lifter!  Also awesome is that all of the recipes are for small batches. Some people are into sweating at the stove canning all day, I’m not really big on sweating.

strawberry syrup

The recipes in the book go from basic to slightly more adventurous. She also includes recipes for using all that stuff you canned, which is always helpful.  What I’m saying is, the book is good, check it out! Now back to the strawberry syrup. It is crazy sweet, but I didn’t want to mess with the sugar content because I was canning the stuff.  We used the tiny bit that didn’t fit in the jars for strawberry soda. You only need the littlest bit, because again it is super sweet, and it is also super strawberry-y.  Holy crap! Mixed with pamplemousse sparkling water, this is hands down the best soda I’ve ever had.

strawberry syrup + pamplemousse mineral water

Strawberry Syrup

adapted from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff

  • 4 lbs strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
for canning
1. Bring a large pot of water up to boiling.
2. Submerge three 1/2 pint jars in the boiling water and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize.
3. Place the jar lids in a heat proof bowl. When you take the jars out of the water pour some boiling water into the bowl with the lids. This will help the lids seal better.
for syrup making
1. Before you start, put a small plate in the freezer
2. Put the strawberries, just the strawberries, in a large pot. Smash them to release their juices. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.
3. Place a fine meshed sieve over a large bowl and pour the strawberries into the sieve. Press down on the berries to get all their juice out. In the book there is a recipe for all this lovely strawberry pulp, but you don’t need it for this syrup.
4. Rinse out your large pot and pour the strawberry juice in it.
5. Add the sugar and the lemon juice.
6. Bring to a boil. Boil, stirring often. Check if the syrup is done by dabbing a bit on the frozen plate. When it firms up a bit–not like jam, but like syrup (duh)–then it’s done. This will take anywhere from 20-30 minutes.
for processing
1. Carefully remove the jars from the boiling water.
2. Ladle the hot syrup into the hot jars, leaving 1/2 room at the top.
3. Wipe off the rims (and anywhere else you have spilled) with a damp towel.
4. Put the lids on and screw them tight (not crazy tight).
5. Return the jars to the boiling water, making sure they are covered by at least and 1inch of water.
6. Boil for 5 minutes.
7. Carefully take the jars out and place them on a towel. Do not disturb them for 12 hours. After about an hour the lids should *thwunk* down. If they don’t, put them in the refrigerator and use them within the month.


Makes about three 1/2 pint jars, or two with some leftover to make sodas right away. The book doesn’t say, but I’m guessing these are good for 6 months or maybe a bit more.  Cheers!

lamb burgers with tzatziki

lamb burgers

Usually, I hold off posting recipes here until I have the exact measurements and directions for making it, which means I never get around to sharing any recipes with you. Dinnertime is always crazy and often straight up chaos. My cooking style has become a few glugs rather than tablespoons, half a palm full rather than teaspoons, and whatever cup-like thing is in reach rather than a cup, because the actual measuring cups are in the sandbox. But I still want to share some recipes with you. If you keep in mind that my ingredient measurement are estimates and the directions are guidelines, then I think we’ll be okay.


Lamb and Feta Burgers with Tzatiki

lamb burger ingredients

for the burgers:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 lb ground lamb (I like to make a lot to insure I can have some for lunch the next day)
  • 4 or so oz feta
  • 1/4 cup (handful) chopped cilantro or parsley (a little mint thrown in there is nice too)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • zest of one lemon
  • salt and pepper

for the tzatziki:

  • about 6 inches of a cucumber, peeled
  • 1 cup good yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic (optional, my children think it’s too spicy, silly children)
  • salt and pepper

frying the lamb burgers

directions for the burgers:

1. Put the lamb in a big bowl with the garlic, herbs, and lemon zest. Crumble the feta into the bowl as best you can, smallish is better but really if there are big chunks it doesn’t matter. Mix everything up with your hands. Salt and pepper the mixture liberally.

2. Shape the patties. I usually make them on the smaller size: 3 inches, I’d say. Obviously any size is going to work.

3. Fry or grill those suckers until they are done to your liking.  If you end up frying them, use only a bit of oil in the pan because lamb gives off a lot of fat.

for the tzatziki:

unsqueezed, squeezed cucumber

1. Grate your cucumber into a bowl

2. Put all of it in your hands and working over the sink squeeze out the excess water–there is a lot. See unsqueezed, squeezed cucumber photo above.

super natural whole milk yogurt

3. Add your yogurt. As a side note, I really love this whole milk yogurt. We used to get the Stoneyfield yogurt, but then they very abruptly stopped making the cream on top kind and now their yogurt just tastes like gelatin to me. Obviously I’m picky and should probably make my own, but until I stop being lazy this Super Natural yogurt is totally delicious.

4. Add chopped garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. That’s it. I’m going to show you this picture because when it’s all mixed up it looks rather boring.


Tzatziki is delicious slathered all over the burgers. The kids use it as a dip. I try to get away with not even putting the damn ketchup on the table for the kids, but one of them usually remembers (the picky one).  We don’t use buns, but you of course could. To round out the meal, I use the rest of the cucumber for a salad and then make some other vegetable. That night it was peas (because I was so freaking busy taking pictures), but sweet potato fries are perfect with this meal.

lamb and feta burgers, tzatziki, cucumber salad, and peas

There you are. This is dinner for two adults, one first grader, one garbage gut of a 5 year old boy, and one very picky toddler. Adjust to the size (and size of appetite) of your family.



Come Christmas time, I become a cookie fanatic. Every year I bake at least 10 different varieties. There are a few that I make every year, but mostly it’s, “what is new?! what haven’t I tried?! what sounds super delicious?!” Last year I stumbled on alfajores and this year they were the first cookie on my list.


Alfajores: the most delicious cookie you’ve never heard of. I’m afraid I don’t know very much about the origins of these cookies. I believe alfajores (I took German, not Spanish, so I can’t tell you how to pronounce it) are a South American treat. Wherever they are from, thank you, because they are the best thing that happen to my cookie loving self.


There are a lot of different recipes out there for alfajores. The cookie part changes: sometimes it’s a crispy spice cookie or more of a shortbread like cookie. But the cookie I make is a barely sweeten pie crust sprinkled with a bit of crunchy sugar on top. Between the two little cookies is a big dollop of dulce de leche–a gorgeous confection, addicting in its own right.

Together the flakiness of the cookie and the creaminess of the dulce de leche make a cookie that is homey and sophisticated at the same time, rich but not cloying, sweet with a hint of savory. And, omg, unbelievably good. Now that you are drooling, let’s get to the recipe shall we…


(adapted from Martha Stewart)

for the dulce de leche:

  • two (14 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
  • pinch of coarse salt


  1. Pour condensed milk into a pie plate or shallow baking dish
  2. Mix in salt
  3. Place baking dish into a larger pan. Pour water into the larger pan until it reaches half way up the sides of the baking dish.
  4. Cover the dish tightly with foil.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 1-2 hours. Checking now and again to stir the milk and making sure there is always water in the larger pan.
  6. It will be a beautiful brown and carmelly color when it’s done. There may be lumps, but you can whisk it a bit (or not). When it cool it should be the consistency of creamy peanut butter.

Dulce de leche makes a fine Christmas gift on its own. When it’s hot out of the oven pour into small jars. It keeps for about a month in the fridge.

for the cookies:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Sanding sugar or powdered sugar, for sprinkling


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar briefly. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

3. With machine running, pour in the water in a slow stream, and process 20 seconds. The dough will probably not come together, but that’s okay. Roll out a length of plastic wrap and put half of the crumbly dough onto it. Wrap it up tightly in the plastic wrap, then with the heel of your hand press the dough 5-10 times until it comes together. Repeat with the other half of cookie dough. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

4. Flour your surface and roll out one disk of dough to between 1/4 in and 1/2 in thick. The cookies should be thick, but too thick and you won’t be able to fit the finished cookie in your mouth!

5. Cut out rounds (roundish cutters are best, those stars up there? they fell apart right away) from the dough and transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough. Gather up your scraps and re-roll, but only re-roll once (they will be tough otherwise).

6. Sprinkle half the rounds with sanding sugar or if you don’t have sanding sugar, sift powdered sugar on half the baked cookies (when cool).

7.Bake until golden brown and a little puffed up, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

8. Spread a heaping teaspoon of dulce de leche on half the cookies. Top with the sugar coated cookie and serve. These cookies are lovely right away, but I like them best the next day when their flavors have melded a bit.

Happy Baking!

christmas cookies 2011

christmas cookies

The cookie baking blizzard came and went this year already (and weirdly, left no snow). All the butter! All the cream! All the chocolate! All the nuts and dried fruit! Okay, so the last one isn’t so exciting, but there was a lot of fruit and nuts in this house for a while. Panforte, anyone?

I don’t think I made any new recipes this year, which is odd.  No wait, I made one new recipe, but I can’t tell you because there are some of you out there getting it! Oh and the linzer cookies were new to me, but not terribly exciting. I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are the deets:

christmas cookies

caramels: three kinds, all by martha, gingerbread, chocolate, and plain with sea salt on top

sugar plums: Honestly, I make these mostly because of the name. How could you pass up sugar plums at Christmas? These are spice filled, honey sweetened, date and almond laden-ed bits of christmas past. And they are vegan to boot.

hazelnut thumbprints: My daughter and I like these the best. This year I put a bit of ganache in the middle instead of the usual jam. Surprisingly, the jam is better, but no one has complained about the chocolate.

english toffee: I make this every christmas, but this year I got all fancy and cut it in squares instead of breaking it in pieces. You have to cut it when it’s not too hot and not too cool. And hey, it worked! Also, I ate all the ones that broke.

alfajores: These were a new addition to the cookie roster last year and I’ve been thinking about them since! Creamy, caramelicious dulce de leche sandwiched between two light, flaky cookies with a crunch of sugar on top. Bomb! And hey, I wrote up a recipe for you on Dana’s blog for her Sweets and Treats Christmas Countdown.

Oh and those linzers up there at the top of the page: wow, linzer cookies are kind of a pain in the butt. They just look so damn christmasy I had to make them. I used Karen DeMasco’s recipe from The Craft of Baking (a killer book by the way). It was chock full of orange peel and nutmeg and hazelnuts. The texture was perfect, but I wasn’t keen on the taste. It was almost too grown up and boring. Maybe a boozy filling would have made it grown up in a good way.

decorating gingerbread men

Gingerbread men too: well you have to make gingerbread men (look more instagraminess).

Merry Christmas everyone! We’re off to Grannyma’s. I’ll see you back here on Monday!