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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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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 →

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Pineapple Upside Down Cake

“Mad Men” returned to television on Sunday night after a 17-month hiatus. An occasion such as this demanded cocktails, party mix, and of course, a cake. Pineapple upside down cake was popularized in the 1920s, but it seemed like the perfect dessert to serve to my guests while dressed like a 1960s housewife.

I chose a recipe from Simply Recipes because it called for ground almonds and I had half a bag sitting in my cupboard. Overall, it was easy to prepare, but I had to make the caramel topping twice. I didn’t let the first batch boil long enough on the stove and the sugar didn’t dissolve, so I let the second batch boil for the full recommended four minutes.

The pineapple slices fit just right in the pan.

And after pouring in the batter and baking for an hour and 15 minutes, the cake released from the pan the moment I flipped it over. It was a bit off center, but I was too terrified to move it.

This is what victory looks like:

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Broiled Grapefruit with Cinnamon and Ginger

Temperatures are below freezing outside, so the thought of getting out of of my warm bed this morning for a breakfast of cold grapefruit was not appealing. Instead, I broiled the grapefruit. Yes, it sounds strange, but it was delicious.

It started with a grapefruit sliced in half.

But I needed to place the grapefruit in a pan that was safe for broiling. See this glass pan? Continue Reading →

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Blood Orange and Ginger Granita

I usually make it through the winter cold and flu season unscathed, but last Friday I was struck down by the worst sore throat of my life. It burned and I could barely swallow.  There was a stretch during the night when I was certain my throat would close and I wouldn’t see Saturday dawn over Park Slope, but I powered through. Morning brought some relief and a breakfast of blood orange sorbet, a pint of which had been hiding behind Tupperware containers of squash soup in the freezer.

As I sprawled on the couch and watched back-to-back episodes of Sherlock on Netflix streaming—spoon in one hand, sorbet in the other—I wondered how I could make my very own blood orange sorbet or similar frozen treat. It couldn’t be that difficult. A little fruit juice, sugar, and time seemed like the three main components, and I had plenty of all three.

I looked through my cookbooks and searched the web for a guide, but I encountered a roadblock with almost every recipe I found: I don’t own an ice cream maker. With limited cupboard space, how many apartment dwellers have room for one? (Sure, I have a waffle maker and salad spinner, but I count those among my practical kitchen tools.) The recipes that didn’t call for an ice cream maker instructed me to stir the sorbet every thirty minutes or so to make sure it didn’t freeze solid. All warned of large ice crystals forming if I didn’t get it right, and none of them promised the smooth, airy results I’d get if I’d just sacrifice some additional shelf space.

So rather than seek out a way to create a smooth sorbet, I went in the opposite direction. I decided to make a granita, which is a semi-frozen dessert that’s akin to a chunky Italian ice. I just needed to combine juice, simple syrup, and a splash of liquor to keep it from freezing all the way. A quick stir with a fork every half hour would create the texture I needed, and if I forgot a stirring appointment, it wouldn’t doom the whole dessert.

Once I recovered from my sickness, I went to the store and picked up a whole bunch of blood oranges to juice. I also wanted to give the granita a little bite, so I bought ginger root to infuse into the simple syrup.

I may have taken too many blood orange glamor shots. For example, here are some oranges sitting in a chair: Continue Reading →

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Sunday Cooking: Spiced Pork Chops, Applesauce, and Carrot Soup

It was a perfect Park Slope Sunday. I made my grocery list, went shopping, and had my kitchen stocked for the week by 10:30 AM. Once Ramsey woke up, we picked up pastries and walked to 4th Ave to cheer for the marathon runners. He ate a chocolate crossaint and I ate a pear and caramel turnover as hundreds of people in top physical condition ran by, fueled only by bananas, water, and those unsettling fruit goo packs. We discussed the practicality of marathon costuming after someone wearing a gas mask and Occupy Wall Street signage passed. Kids lined up against the blue police tape and held their hands out for the runners to hit on their way by. Thirtysomethings walking home from mimosa brunches yelled out the names printed on runners’ shirts and each runner responded with a whoop or a subtle thumbs-up. A live band on the corner played “Gigantic” by The Pixies and we all nodded along.

When the packs of runners tapered off, Ramsey and I walked up to the farmers’ market where we spotted our local dog celebrity, The Lazy Dachshund. I bought kale and apples, Ramsey bought a tub of pickled vegetables, and we were back in the apartment by noon. I was ready to cook.

My menu for the day included my favorite carrot soup for lunch, and then kale, applesauce, and spiced pork chops for dinner.

The carrot soup only called for few ingredients: chopped carrots, onion, rice, chicken stock, butter, oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar.

More photos after the jump… Continue Reading →

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Apple Crisp

I had an apple crisp failure last weekend. The dry, bland concoction that came out of my oven tasted more like an space food approximation of apple crisp than the quintessential autumn dessert.

Refusing to be defeated by one of the simplest fruit dishes out there, I looked to Martha Stewart to correct my baking errors for a second attempt. It turns out I used the wrong type of apple, my sugar levels were way off, and my use of melted butter made the baked topping soft. For the second try, I used Gala apples, upped the sugar, and cut cold butter cubes into the dry ingredients. After an hour in the oven, it came out bubbling and golden brown. Perfect.

Continue Reading →

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Apple Cranberry Pie

piefront

It was a banner weekend: dinner on the Upper West Side on Friday night, the farmers’ market in Grand Army Plaza on Saturday morning, shopping and macarons in SoHo in the afternoon, beer and tacos in Sunset Park at night, and finally on Sunday, manicures, pints of pumpkin ale, and lots of cooking in Park Slope. It felt the way a New York weekend should, with just the right balance of adventure and absurdity, and enough scenic views for a Woody Allen film. Much of it also revolved around food, so it was natural to wind down by baking a pie Sunday afternoon with my well-manicured hands.

I wanted to go recipe-free to make an apple cranberry pie, so I tried to remember as many techniques as I could from last year’s apple pie adventure and winged the rest. The pie was a success, but I forgot to add flour to the apple mixture which resulted in a little excess liquid. I’ve corrected it in the recipe after the jump. Continue Reading →

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Roasted Stone Fruit with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

stonefruit

I tried to make a peach and blueberry galette on Sunday and failed miserably. The tart’s sugar levels were off and crust wasn’t rolled thin enough, turning it into a rock hard biscuit surrounding a pile of roasted fruit. This happens from time to time when I’m making up recipes and trying new dishes, but usually Ramsey offers a comforting, “Oh no, it doesn’t look that bad, I’m sure it tastes fine.” However for the galette, he conceded that there was no way to spin it.

Feeling defeated, I turned to one of my favorite simple desserts: roasted stone fruit. I usually serve them with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, but I made a cinnamon whipped cream instead and I think it worked well. Plums, peaches, and cinnamon feel like a natural combination, and they can all be thrown together and cooked in under 30 minutes. Continue Reading →