bake this now: the virtuous multigrain loaf

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There’s nothing more gratifying than having a friend slathering a hot slice of bread — bread you made with your own two hands — with blueberry preserves. I’ll say this until I’m blue in the face, but I love baking because in a world that is so digital, so virtual, this is one of the few tactile hobbies left. Baking forces discipline, and the best loaves of bread are usually made with a few ounces of strength and sweat while you knead on a sweltering May day.

Yesterday I was determine to make a slew of recipes that mixed the virtuous and the comforting. From my truffle kale macaroni and cheese (so soothing!) to this hearty grain loaf, my oven operated in overdrive. You will love this loaf not only because it’s healthy, but the bread is chewy, yielding, perfect for warm almond butter, creamy Irish butter or chilled blueberry preserves. My friend and I stood in my kitchen slicing bread and eating, eating, eating, and it was wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Pastry Affair, with slight modifications. Happy Blogging Anniversary!
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons blueberry flax seed
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoons salt
12 ounces barely warm water
Sunflower seeds, flax seed, and oats, for garnish

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), whisk together the flours, oats, seeds, yeast, and salt. Gradually add the water and mix until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry and will not come together, add small amounts of water until it does. Conversely, if the dough is too sticky, add flour until it becomes workable. Knead the dough for ten minutes, or until elastic. If you have a stand mixer with a dough attachment, you only need to knead this in the mixer for 5-6 minutes, until the dough becomes springy and elastic.

Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 2-3 hours. Punch down the dough and allow it to set for another 10 minutes before turning out the dough onto a clean surface. Shape the dough into a log or cylinder, trying to keep the dough an even thickness. Place the dough into a 9×5-inch loaf pan sprinkle with sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and oats. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise for another 30-40 minutes, or until it doubles in volume.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and allow to cool down before slicing.

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bread recipes

love. life. eat.: stovetop truffle kale macaroni + cheese!

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When I first spied this recipe on Fuss Free Cooking‘s site, I screamed. When I devoured a bowl of truffle-infused cheesy elbow pasta at a dinner party last week, I howled. So believe me when I say that I’ve been counting the days, hours, minutes until I could fix the most comforting of dishes. Until I could find yet another way to sneak kale into a dish.

There are so many things right with this dish — where does one begin? First off, I went simple with the cheese because I wanted the star of the macaroni and cheese to be the truffle oil. An oil that coats the kale leaves, rendering them slick and glossy. An aromatic that gives the pasta an intense flavor and delightful aroma. You’ll love the biting bitter of the kale juxtaposed with the creamy noodles. And since I love, love, love texture plays I truly felt that the panko makes this dish SING.

So forget the boxed mac and cheese — you can make this yummy version in under a 1/2 hour. AND THERE’S KALE!

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from my newfound foodie obsession, Fuss Free Cooking, with modifications.
8 ounces (1/2 pound) of shell macaroni
1/4 (4 tbsp) cup butter
1/4 cup unbleached flour (about 60g/2 ounces)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
1 tbsp black truffle oil
2 cups 2% milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (8oz)
About 8 stalks of kale, finely shredded
1/2 cup toasted Panko/normal breadcrumbs

DIRECTIONS
Chop kale until it’s in bite-sized pieces and set aside. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a bowl. As Nigella Lawson once said, your pasta water should be as briny as the Mediterranean, and this recipe is no exception. Cook the pasta until it’s slightly al dente, drain, and set aside in a large bowl.

In the pot you used to cook the pasta, heat the truffle oil and cook the kale until slightly wilted. Make sure all of the leaves are coated. Toss the hot kale with the pasta in the large bowl. In the same pot (AREN’T YOU DYING OVER THE FACT THAT YOU ARE NOT WASHING 1.5 MILLION POTS??!), you are now ready to make your rue. Melt butter over medium heat and stir in the flour, salt and pepper for 1 minute, ensuring that all of the ingredients are incorporated and no flour remains in the pot. Slowly add the milk, whisking as you go. It’s important that you whisk like a madwoman as to prevent the dreaded LUMP SITUATION. Once the sauce slightly thickens, add the cheese and whisk vigorously until all of the cheese is cooked and you’re left with an unctuous sauce.

Now for the moment of truth. Add the pasta and kale to the sauce and stir until all of the leaves and noodles are completely coated. Toss in the panko and serve pipping hot!

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pasta recipes savory recipes

bake this now: blueberry bars

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Years ago I remember standing in the middle of a park, voice all choked up, asking a friend about pain containers. I have so much pain I don’t know where to put it. Where does one put pain? Where does one tuck it away?. And my friend sighed and said that I was a woman who was impenetrable; I held the world and everyone in it at a safe remove. It was easy to live this way, surrounding myself with people who rarely challenged me, people to whom I refused trespass to the in of me. The ticking is the bomb. The ticking is the bomb. That day, years ago, I remembered scrolling through dozens of numbers programmed into my cellular phone and feeling crippled that I could dial none of them.

Back then I was a woman on the verge. I was a landmine; I could blow at any minute. My friend told me this: you have to let people in. All the way in.

For some reason I remembered this today as I was baking blueberry bars. Strange to recall a former version of myself while a friend is over taking measurements of my apartment while I busied myself with measuring cups and a stand mixer. Strange to flash back to an older apartment, a bubbling blueberry crumble cooling by the window and the friend I had let in, all the way in, seated at my kitchen table.

It was a virtuous crumble, made with toasted oats and greek yoghurt — tart and sweet and tangy all at once. We dove our forks in and feasted and giggled like children. I imagined this is what having a sister must be like. We created a world around us, we had our own vernacular and inside jokes. We were high drama. We traded books like playing cards and pontificated on pandas, clowns and Smurfs.

We lived in this carefully created fiction for seven years and then suddenly we had fallen to blight. Our sentences were stilted and we clung desperately to old memories, frightened to admit that we had outgrown one another. Who would say it first? Who would admit that we no longer needed one another? Who would cleave through the awkward silences with the truth. The here and the now. We had become ill-fitting clothing. We had shed one another and couldn’t confess it. The ticking is the bomb.

That was two years ago.

And although I’ve had closure with losing her, our friendship — the largeness and beauty of it — comes back in waves.

Inspired by Sugarcrafter’s Blueberry Bar recipe, I decided to create something entirely new. Instead of white flour, I combined almond and whole wheat flours, which yielded a more complex, nuttier bar. The infusion of coconut and flaxseed is unexpected, and while these bars aren’t one note and devilishly sweet, they offer a juxtaposition of texture and flavor. If you’re seeking a deviation from the unexpected and are craving blueberry treats, I urge you to sample these yummy treats.

INGREDIENTS: Inspired by Sugarcrafter’s Blueberry Bar recipe with modifications.
For the filling:
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup cane sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tsp cornstarch
Juice of 1/2 lime

For the dough:
1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp coconut extract
2 cups flour: 1 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour; 1/2 cup almond flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp flaxseed
1 tsp Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9″ baking dish. Crush the blueberries and then pour them into a medium bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, cornstarch, and ginger. Stir the sugar mixture and lemon juice into the blueberries.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and coconut. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients half at a time until crumbly. Press 2/3 of the dough into the pan, reserving the remaining third. Bake the crust about 10 minutes or until very lightly browned.

Pour the blueberry filling on to the hot crust, and then sprinkle the remaining dough over the top. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the crumb topping turns golden brown. Cool before serving.

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sweet recipes

bake this now: brown butter chocolate chip cookies!

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Every year I find a cookbook that warms my heart. The recipes are imperfectly perfect, the prose written with such care that you could feel their affection rise above the page. Years ago I collected Martha Stewart cookbooks like trading cards — I was obsessed with precision and technique. And while Martha’s books are the gold standard for any baker, they read cold, restrained, dispassionate. You don’t feel connected to the baker whose chocolate accidently splatters the walls. You don’t feel empathetic to incidents of flour covering your entire frame.

My first adult attempt at baking was a cheesecake sweetened with confectioner’s sugar instead of cane sugar because sugar is sugar, right? ABSOLUTELY NOT. My tasteless mistake was a colossal flop when it hit the office. I’ve since learned that when it comes to baking, chemistry is important.

This year I’ve discovered my newfound crush — Joy the Baker’s Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes. A celebration of butter and sugar, the recipes practically COMMAND one to make them. Joy is tender and kind and her book is imbued with very personal memories that carry over into the kitchen, and you can’t help but be swept into her delicious, confectionary world. When I initially purchased this book, the cashier at Barnes and Nobles tapped the cover and said, I’m a trained pastry chef and her apple crisp WORKS. You won’t be disappointed. And I wasn’t. From black pepper and bacon waffles to avocado and cream cheese loaves to unctuous rivers of chocolate, the recipes are earthy, unexpected and a cinch to make.

Take these brown butter chocolate chip cookies. Not only is this cookie chewy, there’s something smoky about it, rich and enveloping — all as a result of the caramelized butter and molasses. The simple cookie gets the volume turned up, and I had to nearly toss these in the freezer to prevent me from gorging on the lot.

Bake, enjoy! Love, live, eat!

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker’s Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes
2 sticks of butter (1 cup), softened
1 scant cup of cane sugar
1 tsp of molasses
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cups of flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

DIRECTIONS
In a silver bottomed medium skillet, brown 1 stick of butter on medium heat. Basically, you melt the butter and swirl it around. You’ll hear some crackling–that’s the water leaving. When this stops and the butter starts to turn a chestnut-y brownish color, turn off the heat and remove the butter from the pan or else you’ll burn it! Let it cool.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the other stick of butter and white sugar together until light and fluffy, 3-5 min. Then add in the vanilla and molasses until fully incorporated.
Then added in the cooled brown butter and the brown sugar. Cream together until fluffy (2 min).

Add in the egg +egg yolk and mix for another minute or so.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the salt, baking soda, and flour. Then add this into the stand mixer with the rest of the ingredients and mix on low until just combined (don’t over do it!).

With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips and nuts. Cover and let it rest in the fridge for 30 min while the oven preheats.

Preheat the oven at 375 degrees, with the rack in the middle of the oven.

Form small tablespoon sized balls of dough and bake them for 10-12 minutes. Mine started to brown at the top after 10 minutes so I took them out. They were perfectly chewy!

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cookie recipes sweet recipes

love. life. eat.: coconut challah french toast nutella sandwiches!

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Today is one of those days worth photographing. From surviving my first cycling class and discovering that I love spin (where have you been all my life?!), to toasting a recently-engaged friend on the hunt for a wedding dress, to indulging in delicious eats in Prospect Park to readying myself for a decadent floor picnic, I couldn’t help but crave something sweet and perfect.

Amidst the litany of yoga studios and real estate agent offices, I found an old-world shop that serves up exotic spices, wrapped cheeses and loaves of challah bread. It was then that I conceived of a French toast recipe with the volume turned up. Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed with coconut oil — I’ve been using it as a moisturizer and deep conditioning treatment for my hair — so I’ve been thinking of new and interesting ways I can incorporate coconut into my repertoire. Married with a tub of nutella hidden in the back of my larder, I knew this French toast just HAD TO HAPPEN.

And OH MY SWEET LORD was it GOOD. Divine, actually. Breakfast worth preaching to. The sweet flakes literally melt into the challah and the nutella is pretty over the top, but it’s worth the indulgence.

INGREDIENTS
4-6 slices of challah bread
1/4 cup skim milk
1 large egg
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Nutella for spreading

DIRECTIONS
How simple can this get? Mix all of your ingredients in wide bowl. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large, non-stick skillet. Lightly dip (don’t drench, or you’ll get eggy, soggy French toast) the challah into the batter and fry on the pan for approximately one minute. Switch sides and cook until golden.

Remove two slices of the French toast and slather one side with nutella to make a sticky, delectable sandwich. Continue until you can’t help but dive your fork into the yielding, soft toast. Add maple syrup, honey or confectioner’s sugar to top it all off.

Serve hot.

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sweet recipes

make this now: fresh fettucini with walnut pesto

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Call me crazy, but I’m currently geeking out over my latest rental — the Canon 5D Mark II camera. After spending twenty minutes getting used to the litany of buttons, and another ten adjusting my settings, I was determined to shoot something before evening fell.

People often ask me why I write about food on this small postage stamp of online real estate. Why I fixate on taking hundreds of photos over the course of a weekend before the frenzy of the work-week begins? Why I take such care in selecting the right images, obsess over finding the most scrumptious recipes and commit to only posting when it matters?

I do this because I’m passionate about food — its preparation, its presentation and its taste — and I want you to experience, in a pure, visceral way, the level of my devotion. My desire is to visually inspire you with the wonderful things I savor and make, and my hope is that you’ll fall unabashedly in love with food.

But back to the pasta! So simple, so seemingly decadent — this walnut pesto is peppery, nutty, savory and undeniably perfect when married with a fresh noodle. My dinner took 15 minutes to make and possibly 30 to photograph, but I hope you are inspired by these snaps to kick up your heels and dive into a bowl of food.

INGREDIENTS 2-3 servings
3/4 lb fresh fettucini
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup whole walnuts
1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves young (wild) garlic
1/4 tsp black ground pepper
1/8 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 cup hot pasta water

DIRECTIONS
Bring a medium-sized pot to a bowl. Add in the fresh fettucini and stir so the pasta doesn’t clump together. You’ll want to work fast since fresh pasta only takes a few minutes (3-4) to cook.

In a food processor, blitz the basil leaves and garlic until they are a rough chop. Add in the nuts and blitz. Add in the olive oil and cheese and blitz until you reach the consistency of a smooth paste. Add in the salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, pour in the mixture. Drain the pasta save for a 1/4 cup of liquid, and toss the pasta, pesto and water until all of the noodles are lightly dressed. Sprinkle with pecorino cheese and fresh basil leaves and serve delicious and hot!

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pasta recipes savory recipes

healthy eats: black rice salad with mango

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I spent last weekend with women on the verge, dear friends who see the past behind them as if it were a battle they had conquered, and then what lie before them — darkness shrouding a vast terrain — and they wondered if now was the time for them to charge forward. To leave the comfortable uncomfortable behind for something bigger and more beautiful than they had ever imagined. It’s a sweet thing to witness this fever, this anxiety, this fervor, and having been inspired by their passion and light, I found myself confessing my future plans that — shock, oh shock — involve food.

I won’t say anything on this space, but the shoreline is clear and specific and I’m patient in my need to work to that place, to now want to rush to it. Because right now is not my time, and that’s okay.

Today, after a grueling workout, where I damn near collapsed on my medicine ball, I was thinking about a virtuous lunch. Typically, I feast on scrambled eggs and buttered whole wheat toast (YUM!), but today I was besotted with a black rice salad with mango, featured in Bon Appetit‘s June issue. And can I just say I’m glad I embarked on this miniature adventure because lunch was incredible, downright biblical.

Black rice, otherwise known as “Forbidden Rice,” in the Chinese culture, is high in cancer-preventing antioxidants, and has a rich, nutty flavor. I marveled as it transformed the cooking liquid to a psychedelic blackberry hue, and married with the sweet fruit and the astringent limes, this salad is fresh, light, wholesome and unbelievably filling.

I tinkered with the recipe a little bit to suit my liking, but I invite you to pair this with a salmon or a piece of steak (DROOLING).

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Bon Appetit’s June 2012 issue, serves 6-8 as a side; 4-6 as a main salad
2 oranges
1/4 cup (or more) fresh lime juice
2 tbsp safflower oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 cups black rice
2 just-ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2″ dice
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, rough chop
6 ramp leaves, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS
Remove peel and white pith from the oranges. Working over a medium bowl to catch juices and using a sharp knife, cut between membranes to release orange segments into a bowl. Squeeze membranes over bowl to release any juices. Strain juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; reserve orange segments.

Add 1/4 cup lime juice, oil, and fish sauce to bowl with orange juice; whisk to blend. Set dressing aside.

Bring rice and 2 3/4 cup water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season lightly with salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer to all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes.

Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet (I just a large cookie sheet), drizzle with dressing, and season lightly with salt; let cool.

Place mangoes and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine. Serve!

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journey to buff salad recipes savory recipes