May 2012

asparagus with parmesan and poached egg

Posted on May 29, 2012

Asparagus season is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier. I love asparagus and this is one of my favorite ways to prepare it. This dish is incredibly quick and easy and can be either a side dish or a main course, depending on what else you’re serving. We had it along with a cheesy pasta with fiddlehead ferns that Jordan imagined. The pasta was great, but fiddleheads are more of a novelty ingredient. I’m happy we tried them, but more asparagus in their place wouldn’t have disappointed me.

Asparagus with Parmesan and Poached Egg
1 bunch asparagus, woody parts of the stem removed
1 egg per person
Parmesan cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper

Turn your oven to broil. Put a shallow pot of water to boil and bring it to a simmer. Break off the tougher part of the asparagus. Toss the asparagus with some olive oil and spread them in one even layer on a baking sheet. Once your water is simmering, put the asparagus under the broiler. Broil for 5 – 7 minutes, shaking the baking sheet occasionally to toss the asparagus. You want the asparagus to brown slightly, but not overcook.

When the asparagus is nearly done, poach one egg per person. I’ve had the most success using a shallow pan with just a few inches of water, plus a tablespoon of white vinegar. Crack the egg in a small cup. Before you add the egg, swirl the water. Slowly pour the egg into the water and let it sit for about 30 seconds, then carefully brush the white around the yoke using a spoon. Cook the egg for another 2 minutes and then remove it with a slotted spoon.  If poaching eggs just isn’t your thing, a fried egg would be delicious also.

Place the asparagus on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the egg over the asparagus. Grate a generous amount of parmesan cheese over the entire dish and enjoy immediately.

-Emily

four-hour baguette

Posted on May 26, 2012

You may be familiar with my sourdough bread adventure—a rustic country bread that in the end took over a year to perfect and became my Sunday obsession for months. Well, my experience with this bread was the exact opposite. I found the recipe, gathered ingredients, made the dough, baked and ate, all in about four hours. It was refreshing.

These french baguettes are very different from my sourdough. Where baguettes are light and delicate, my bread is dense and toothy. This baguette recipe is quick—thanks to commercial yeast—uses all purpose flour and doesn’t require any special equipment, which makes it pretty ideal for most home cooks. On top of that, your house will smell amazing while the loaves are baking. This recipe makes three 14″ long baguettes, which you’ll easily eat all of.

Four-Hour Baguette, from Saveur May 2012 Issue
1 1/2 cups tap water, heated to 115 degrees
1 t active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t kosher salt
canola oil, for greasing the bowl
1/2 cup ice cubes, for making steam in the oven for a good crust

In a large bowl, whisk together the water and yeast. Let sit until foamy. Add the flour, stirring with a fork or your hands, until a dough forms. Let the dough rest 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, sprinkle in the salt and knead it in. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Don’t forget to grease the bowl, this is a very sticky dough. Place in a cold oven to rise. Let dough sit for 45 minutes, until doubled in size.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a 8″ x 6″ rectangle. Fold the long sides into the middle and then fold the short side into the center. Return the dough seam side down to the greased bowl. Cover and let rise again in the cold oven for an hour.

After an hour, remove the dough from the oven. Place a cast-iron skillet in the bottom rack. Position another rack above the skillet and place a baking stone on that rack. Heat the oven to 475 degrees.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide into three equal pieces and shape each into a 14″ long rope (the length of a standard baking sheet). Flour a sheet of parchment paper and place it on a baking sheet. Place the dough ropes on the sheet evenly spaced apart. Lift the paper between the ropes to form pleats so they don’t stick together as they rise. Place two kitchen towels on each long side of the baguettes to support the loaves as they rise. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let double in size, about 50 minutes.

By this time your oven will be hot. Uncover the loaves, remove the towels and flatten the paper to space out the loaves. Use a razor blade to score the loaves with several long diagonal cuts. Carefully, with the loaves still on the parchment paper, slide them onto the hot baking stone. Place the ice cubes in the skillet and close the oven door. The ice will create steam which helps form a nice crust on the bread. Bake the baguettes 25 – 30 minutes, until browned.

Cool on a rack or enjoy straight out of the oven with some salted butter. Jordan and I ate an entire loaf just standing at the kitchen counter, they go down that easy.

These baguettes were delicious don’t get me wrong, but the flavor wasn’t very complex. Next time I’m going to try adding a bit of sugar to the yeast and water and try for a slightly sweeter baguette.

-Emily

happy mother’s day!

Posted on May 10, 2012

To all the amazing mamas out there, and especially to the mamas and grandmamas in my life that take such good care of me, Happy Mother’s Day!

Now to thank your mom for all her hard work all year long, you probably should make something yummy for her this Sunday. Here are a few of my favorites …

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. This recipe is great because you get to enjoy fresh cinnamon rolls in the morning without waking up at the crack of dawn to make them. You make the dough and assemble the rolls the night before and the next morning let them rise briefly and then bake.

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake. This cake is delightful. Moist and tender with hint of citrus and olive oil. You can substitute any variety orange for the blood oranges. She’ll love it!

Miykaelah’s Madelines. The cutest cookies in the world. Yes they require a special pan, but they are so tasty and so adorable—totally worth it.

Jordan’s Favorite Chocolate Cake. If your mom is the chocolate type, make her this. It is the best chocolate cake we’ve found yet. We had a ricotta filling between the layers in this particular post, but cream cheese icing, buttercream icing or just fresh fruit would be wonderful.

Hope you have a lovely weekend! I’m off to Humboldt to see my lil’ sis graduate from college (WOW!) and spend time with my mom and grandmas (YAY!).

-Emily

berry aperitif

Posted on May 8, 2012

The weather last Saturday in San Francisco was perfection. It was 80 degrees without a cloud in the sky, and we really only get three days a year just like it. We’d planned to have some friends over for dinner and so Jordan and I devised a summery feast to match the lovely weather, including this delightful cocktail. However, this feasting could only happen after some quality beach time with the Willow Pillow. Right here, photographic proof that our dog has adapted smoothly to the California lifestyle—she will even fall asleep in the sand, surrounded by enthusiastic (albeit pale) beach-goers.

Like I said, perfection.

This recipe is adapted from David Tanis’ book The Heart of the Artichoke. It is actually an Italian digestif, typically made with grappa and served along with your check in restaurants. We decided to make it with gin, having no familiarity with grappa, and served it before the meal.

Berry Aperitif, adapted from The Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis
1 cup mixed berries (We used blackberries and raspberries)
2 T sugar
2 cups gin

Put the berries in a large measuring cup. Sprinkle them with sugar and mush them sightly with your hands. Add the gin. Let refrigerate for several hours. Serve cold in small glasses, making sure to get a spoonful of berries in each glass.  I also think this would be great mixed into other cocktails or topped off with club soda.

Happy Spring!

-Emily

lamb burgers with cucumber yogurt sauce

Posted on May 1, 2012

These burgers were part of our “summer menu” last weekend. They were delicious. In fact, everyone finished their burger before coming up for air to say that they liked it. Do note, it is best if you can mix the meat and cucumber sauce a few hours in advance so the flavors have time to combine. If you’re not making these on a leisurely weekend, you could easily mix both the night before.

This is what a leisurely weekend looks like around these parts.

For the burgers, adapted from The Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis
This recipe makes enough to serve six.
2 lbs ground lamb
1/2 onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 t cumin
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
six burger buns

Mix lamb, grated onion, grated garlic, parsley, cumin, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to let the flavors come together. Grill the burgers over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes per side.

For the cucumber yogurt sauce, adapted from The Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis
2 cups greek yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into half moons
2 T mint, thinly sliced
2 T chives, chopped
2 T dill, chopped
zest and juice of one lemon
salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving. We used this as a burger condiment, but I also had some as a salad the next day. Equally delicious.

Again, no finished product photo. My apologies!

-Emily