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Rhubarb Galette

galetteWhoa, Spring. Just four weeks ago, Brooklyn was mired in clouds, cold rain, and the dirge of winter that is March in the Northeast. Now the streets are bursting with life. Cherry blossoms and tulips are in bloom, and every patch of sad grass in this city is dotted with crocuses and snowdrops. I’m so thrilled that I’ve started buying fresh cut flowers every two weeks to bring some Spring inside my apartment, like these red ranunculus that have taken up residence in a mason jar.

ranneculusSpring also marks the beginning of prime farmer’s market season. We push aside root vegetables to make way for asparagus, ramps, and of course, rhubarb. It’s a star player in one of my favorite pies (strawberry rhubarb) and it can be deadly (well, only the leaves). It’s like the fugu of vegetables, but much safer.

rhubarbInstead of using it in a pie this past weekend, I put rhubarb in my most successful galette to date. The crust was crisp, but not too crisp. The filling was sweet, but not too sweet. And it all went well with a pint of strawberry ice cream. Continue Reading →

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Baking for Katie Fisher Day: Vanilla Macarons

macaronsKatie Fisher baked cookies for her brother Matt every single week he was away at college. She was killed in a car accident in 2010, and to honor her memory, Matt declared March 12 “Katie Fisher Day.” The goal? Get “everyone in the world to follow Katie’s example and send some cookies to someone they love.”

I hope you’ll take part, and if you do, share what you make over at katiefisherday.org.

In honor of Katie Fisher Day, I made cookies for Ramsey. It seems like an easy choice, and there’s no mailing involved, but this man deserves some cookies. He makes me laugh more than anyone and helped pull me out of some stressful times over the past year. He’s also dedicated to his work, exhibiting laser-like focus at his home office desk late into the night while I refresh my Facebook feed for the millionth time.

One of my favorite memories from our trip to France last summer was eating macarons on the steps of the Pantheon, so I made him vanilla macarons with bittersweet chocolate ganache filling. macaronsandchocolateIt wasn’t easy, but the results were worth it. And did I mention they’re gluten-free? Recipe and more photos after the jump. Continue Reading →

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Chewy Granola Bars

granola1Did you know that a box of thirteen custom granola bars costs $38? $38! That’s enough for a reasonably fancy dinner with a cocktail. Or two paperback books. Or a cute blouse on ModCloth. Or anything on BuzzFeed’s list of “27 Way More Awesome Things To Buy With $38 Than Facebook Stock.” In short, too much money for granola bars when making them from scratch takes ten minutes, not counting baking time. You can pick the dried fruit, nuts, and other ingredients you like in the amounts that you like without dropping a lot of money and sacrificing your tastes to a store-bought bar in a box.

But are they healthy? Well, not “healthy” per se, but they taste damn good. My recipe calls for brown sugar, honey, and even the dreaded corn syrup, but you can experiment with other sweeteners and food glues. For example, Mark Bittman uses nut butter and honey to sweeten his bars and hold them together.

granola4My bars do have plenty of dried fruit, oats, and nuts, so at least they have some fiber…right? Have my breakfasts all this week been at least somewhat healthy? Please say yes so that I can continue to eat them at my desk with a smug grin on my face that says, “Yes. I made this myself.” A grin that hides the amount of sugar and corn syrup I used and the fact that I packed the bar in a non-compostable piece of plastic wrap.

I don’t think I’m just talking about granola guilt anymore. Continue Reading →

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Lemon and Blood Orange Bars

citrusbars12I couldn’t eat citrus for most of last winter (ugh, health), but this year, I’m going all out. Cases of clementines last less than four days in my kitchen and grapefruit are my regular evening snack. Hell, I’m even drinking chamomile tea spiked with orange zest.

I’m also back to baking with citrus, and last weekend, I tried something different with standard lemon bars by adding a few tablespoons of blood orange juice. The blood orange toned down the lemon’s tart flavor and gave the custard a pink hue. I think these bars are a great gateway lemon dessert for young or sensitive palates.

citrusbars6Blood oranges are also gorgeous, so any excuse to bring these dark red jewels into your kitchen is a good one, even if they leave it looking like a crime scene. Continue Reading →

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Butterscotch Maple Oatmeal Cookies

oatmealbutterscotch6Have you ever wondered what a state would taste like? If you’ve been curious about the flavor of the state of Vermont, I present Butterscotch Maple Oatmeal Cookies. They’re a little rustic and rough, but they have pockets of sweetness like a quaint village you might find on one of the state’s many country roads. They don’t flatten out like a typical cookie, leaving them mountainous with jagged brown peaks. They’re also a bit unusual, because when I think of Vermont, I think offbeat.

My college summers lent themselves to weekend trips to cities throughout New England, and back in the summer between my junior and senior years, my friend Vince and I traveled to Vermont to visit our friend Allie. I remember it was perfect driving weather with blue skies stretching over rural highways. Every few miles, we passed a sign for local farms that listed the their names, logos, and distance from the main road. We saw signs for apple orchards and dairy farms, but when we spotted a sign with the silhouette of a long-legged bird, the words “EMU FARM,” and an arrow directing us a few miles to the west, we had to follow it. Ten minutes later we were face to face with a flock of giant brown beasts.

emus We didn’t dare lean over the fence to touch the birds, but a sign stapled to a post informed us that “emu products” were for sale at the white farmhouse a few hundred yards away. We’d already driven to an emu farm, so we wanted to leave with something to show for it. Continue Reading →

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Sables

sables8Inspired by my trip to Beurre & Sel, I made sables on Sunday for a sketching get together. Not “sketchy” or “sketch,” but sketching, as in drawing still lifes in little notebooks with pencils and charcoal. We sat in a circle and drew containers and flowers on tables draped with cloth, taking plenty of breaks for snacks.

My drawing skills have progressed little since middle school even though I took a class last fall where were drew bicycles, car motors, and nudes. I think that’s why I turn to photography and flower arranging for the visual arts. I can assemble beautiful things, but it’s difficult for me to translate life to lines on paper. Everything’s misshapen and slants ten degrees to the right. I even find it difficult to cut straight lines with my knife in the kitchen. My hands don’t listen. Proof:

sables3Sables are very forgiving, though. As long as I don’t cut them less than 1/3″-thick, they don’t burn. Continue Reading →

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Winter Quiche

I know the normal response to cold weather is loading up on carbs, but my body craves greens. It could be a reaction to the lack of sunshine or seasonal produce in the Northeast, but either way, I tore into an arugula salad with lemon juice and Parmesan cheese at Westville this past weekend and it was the best meal I’d had in days. If Ramsey is out for the night and I’m cooking for one, I’ll saute dark green kale leaves and shallots in olive oil while steaming cubes of sweet potato. I top it all with a poached egg and it’s a perfect winter meal.

Winter greens can also follow a less healthy path—a dark, delicious path lined with cream, egg yolks, cheese, and salted pork that leads to just one destination: quiche. Continue Reading →

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Honey Cardamom Madeleines

A few Saturdays ago, I woke up and went through my normal winter morning routine: stay under the covers as long as possible while checking Twitter, the New York Times, and email on my phone. My bedroom is always freezing thanks to a weak radiator and two drafty windows, so it takes a lot for me to throw off the blankets and set my feet on the icy hardwood floor. There wasn’t anything groundbreaking on Twitter or in the news, but when I checked my email, I remembered I had to go to a potluck that night and had no idea what to make. There were no strict guidelines, just “bring a dish to pass.” I got out of bed and pulled five cookbooks off the shelf.

I flipped through each book and considered my options—casseroles, salads, cookies, cheesy biscuits—and settled on madeleines, small sponge cakes with just a hint of sweetness.  They are easy to make, but you do need a madeleine pan with the signature scalloped molds.

Madeleines are often flavored with lemon zest or rosewater, but I adapted a Dorie Greenspan recipe that called for warm spices like cinnamon and ground cloves. I added cardamom to the mix, because let’s get real, I add it to most baked goods. Continue Reading →

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Caramel Apple Turnovers with Rosemary Crust

The glass of cider sitting by my computer means just one thing: we’re in the midst of apple season. Bust out some apple-based pastries and crank up a Fleet Foxes song because it’s time celebrate the fall harvest.

I started my celebration with a trip to an apple orchard on a perfect afternoon, complete with blue skies, sunshine, and a quarter of the New York City metro area’s population. Once we passed the entry gate, we were able to find some peace in the orchard.

I was joined by my own personal Ben Wyatt. Continue Reading →

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Peach and Thyme Galette

Summer officially ended last week, but I said goodbye yesterday with a peach galette. The galette—or lazy tart, as I like to call it—is simple. Make a pie dough and then chill it, roll it, fill it, fold it, and bake it. There are no fancy pans or blind baking of crusts. Here’s an animated gif I made (inspired by Randwiches’ Gif Kitchen) to demonstrate:

PlVcvn on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

Easy, right?

Continue Reading →