creamy tomato basil pasta (vegan/gluten-free…I know, but it’s really good)

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You should know that I used to be addicted to pasta. As someone who used to drink men under the table, under the floorboards, I know a bit about compulsion, about the need to feel anesthetized. To be here, but not really, and you know how it is. It got to a point where I went through several boxes of pasta a week. I’d have a pesto pasta for lunch and gnocchi for dinner, and I’d only post a photo of a kale salad or green smoothie, but you know all about that faux Insta life–it’s proliferated all over the internet to a point where one could call it a disease.

When my doctor and nutritionist broke the news, that even after these nine months of living gluten-free I can never eat like I had before, I was practically catatonic. I kept asking how did this happen? How did I allow myself to get to this place? How had I substituted a glass of red wine for a seemingly demure plate of cacio e pepe? Had I been asleep for the bulk of my waking life to only wake to a smack in the face? When I learned that I could only have gluten OR dairy once a week, that pasta would soon be relegated to an occasion meal, it took a while to accept this. It took a good two weeks to overcome my withdrawal from gluten.

Even now, even when there are so many terrific gluten-free pasta options (I found Bioitalia while I was in Spain and I’m hooked), I have to be careful. Because I’m swapping out gluten for rice, potato and other starches, which are fine in moderation but don’t for a healthy, balanced diet make. And I’ve got this thing for developing unhealthy attachments to specific foods (Exhibits A, B, C: pasta, avocados, chickpeas–all of which required individually-deployed fatwas). So know that when I post a pasta recipe it better be a DAMN GOOD ONE because I can’t have it for another week or two.

You should know that cashew/almond cream is the best thing to have entered my life since Cup4Cup flour. The combination yields the creamy texture and taste of heavy cream without the bloat and the sickening full feeling that invariably happens when you feast on any dairy-rich dish.

Trust me on this.

Part of me wishes I’d never found this recipe because now I have leftovers in the fridge that I can’t touch until the end of the week. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE GLUTEN STRUGGLE? It’s real, friends. Real.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from The Oh She Glows Cookbook, with modifications
1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews (soaked for 2 hours, or overnight)
1/2 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
9 ounces uncooked gluten-free pasta (basically 3/4 of a package)
1 tsp olive oil
1 small shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes, drained (I use San Marzano)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
3 handfuls baby kale
1 cup packed fresh basil, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Start by soaking the cashews. Place the cashews in a bowl and add enough water to cover. Soak for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse. Blitz the nuts and almond milk in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy (approximately 1 minute). Set aside.

Boil water and cook pasta according to instructions on package.

In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for 5-10 minutes, until translucent. Add tomatoes and kale and continue cooking for 7-10 minutes over medium-high heat, until the kale is wilted.

Stir in the cashew cream, basil, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and pepper, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until heated through.

Drain the pasta (reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water) and add it to the sauce. Add the reserve pasta water, and stir to combine well, cooking for a few minutes until heated through.

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almond crusted chicken

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about my body. Not the shape of it, not the slope of a hip, but I’ve been thinking about my insides. At the same time I read an insipid blog post about a woman who just turned 31, and her greatest lamentation in life was her inability to remain effortlessly bone-thin whilst hoovering chicken fingers at a rapid clip. The post put me to thinking of a girl I knew in college who ate the most horrifying food — arteries clogged or bust was her mantra, as she stewed everything in a vat of margarine — yet remained lithe. Once I joked and said, I may have ten pounds on you but you’ll be dead in thirty years. It was all ha ha, and let’s toss back another drink, but now I think less about the size of my hips and more about the kind of food that’s going in my body.

In 2004, I remember cleaning out my kitchen cabinets and nearly having a stroke after reading all the labels. The foods that I had perceived to be healthy — Nutri-Grain bars, granola cereals — were filled with sugar, preservatives and the evil HFCS. Since then, I’ve eaten clean {as much as I can control}, and lately I’ve been devoting more thought toward sugar, and how I can winnow out simple carbohydrates.

Can I tell you that my weakness, my proverbial Achilles heel, is pasta? Dressed in pesto, baked in bechamel, this white goddess is a predator posing as a house pet, and my doctor told me, in no uncertain terms, that I have to chill. Over the past year, it’s been a battle, especially in those stressful moments, to be mindful of food diversity. Not only do I cook and bake with alternative ingredients {coconut oils, gluten-free flours}, but I’ve made an effort to make simple swaps in my day {protein-packed smoothies versus bagels, apples and palm oil-free almond butters instead of cereal bars}, and I’ve absolved to imbue my diet with lean protein.

While it’s true that I made chicken with a bit of butter, I swapped out the canola oil for coconut {perfection with the almonds} and used a gluten-free panko instead of breadcrumbs, and while I’d normally be eating a second dinner after having pasta, I’m SO FULL, POST CHICKEN.

I invite you to make this recipe because it’s perfect for those nights when you want to face-plant into the nearest cushion, and it’s salvation for those nights when you want to eat pasta out of the pot.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart, with slight modifications, via The Budget Babe
3/4 cup panko {I used the gluten-free kind}
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
2 tsp water
2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), split
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, broken into pieces
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp coconut oil

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, season bread crumbs with salt and pepper. Place eggs in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons water, and beat lightly. Dip chicken in egg, wiping away excess with your fingers, and dip in bread-crumb mixture. Dredge until lightly coated. Dip in egg again, and coat thoroughly with almonds.

Heat butter and oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken until nicely browned, about 3 minutes, and turn over. Cook 1 minute more; then transfer pan to oven, and bake until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

go bananas over this semi-virtuous banana coconut loaf

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Stumbling upon Tara of Seven Spoons’ post on baking loaves was liberating. Over the years, I’ve built up a solid repertoire of swoon-worthy desserts: chocolate mousses, kitchen sink cookies, three-layer golden birthday cakes with tufts of cream cheese frosting, and my collection of loaves and simple breads. However, I’m insanely Type-A, so the idea of deviating from a recipe gives me vertigo, so much so that I repeat recipes month after month, and even though I have the ingredients committed to memory, I still need the book.

Following an outline gives me comfort. Take that for what you will.

However, when Tara said that all loaves have a core foundation of 2 cups of flour, 2 eggs and 1/3 fat, I stood over my kitchen counter, jubilant. I had no formal recipe of which to go off; I had no instructions, and I made myself go at it alone. I’ve been talking a great deal lately about being lost, and I’m wondering if forcing yourself to experience the dark is the first step in getting through it. So in my small way, this is me finding my way to light by stumbling and falling.

So I futzed with the flours. Spelt’s a grittier flour, but I thought paired up with the creamy richness of the bananas would yield a delightful texture play. But what I love most about this loaf is that it’s not entirely too sweet. The maple syrup delivers a smokier flavor, and I feel as if I can actually TASTE the ingredients {flaxseed, coconuts, etc}.

I was going to wait to publish this tomorrow, but I’m just so DAMN TICKLED.

And will you look at that? The sun just broke through the clouds. If you’re in New York, look out your window.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup gluten-free flour {I used Cup4Cup}
1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1/2 cup maple syrup {Grade A}
1 tsp almond extract {you can also use vanilla or coconut extracts}
1/2 cup buttermilk {you can also use almond milk}
3 medium bananas, ripened + mashed
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Special Equipment: One 9X5 inch loaf pan

DIRECTIONS
Pre=heat the oven to 350F + grease your loaf pan {I used coconut oil or coconut oil spray, but you can use butter, naturally}. In a medium bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients {flours, baking soda, salt, flaxseed} until just combined. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk the coconut oil and eggs on medium-high until the mixture has combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low, and add in the maple syrup and almond extract. The mixture will appear like it’s curdling, don’t worry, all will be resolved when you mix in the dry ingredients.

Slowly add the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the buttermilk, bananas and coconut flakes. Pour the mixture into your pan and level with an offset spatula. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the loaf to rest on a rack in the pan for 15 minutes. Carefully turn the loaf out onto a wire rack + cool completely.

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foodie finds: covet-worthy cookbooks

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Years ago, I remember watching an episode of Nigella Bites, where she opened the doors of her expansive larder to reveal rows of spices, chocolate, tins and exotic foodstuffs from faraway countries — artificats from her life-long affection for food. After I wept over the fact that her larder was the size of most New York apartments, her collection of food souvenirs remained with me. When traveling, I’ve never been the sort who cares for trinkets and knick-knacks. During my visit to South East Asia, my guides were befuddled over the fact that I didn’t want to shop. What kind of American doesn’t crave silk scarves and hand-carved totems? Rather, I asked after the food markets.

Take me to the food, is my constant refrain.

Over the past few years, I’ve curated {oh dear, what an overused word} a collection of spices, biscuits and books that can only be found in the country of origin. While it’s true that you can get everything here, never will I procure six ounces of saffron for $2, or a cookbook from a revered Irish author for $13, on sale. While in Ireland last week, I managed to score three exceptional tomes, of which I found myself obsessively poring over. From cakes to cookies to soothing soups and crisp greens, I can’t wait to cook my way through the books penned by authors from another country. In the midst of the sweet, you’ll also spy a farm-to-table cookbook, Nourished Kitchen, which I received prior to my leaving for Dublin. It’s a fantastic journey back to the roots of our land as well as an impeccable display of delicious, mindful dishes. No doubt you’ll see some recipes from that book on this space in the coming weeks.

Jennifer McGruther’s The Nourished Kitchen | Rachel Allen’s Cake | Rosanne Hewitt-Cromwell’s Like Mam Used to Bake | Clodagh McKenna’s Homemade: Irresistible Homemade Recipes for Every Occasion

packing lunch for the week: easy skillet lasagna

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INGREDIENTS: 1lb ground sirloin | 1lb tagliatelle {or any flat/wide noodle} | 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped | 4-8oz of your favorite homemade tomato sauce. I’m giving you a wide range, as I tend to like my pastas on the dry side, lightly dressed with sauce | 1/2 cup pasta cooking water | 6oz fresh mozzarella cheese |2oz fresh goat cheese | pecorino romano, salt, pepper to taste.

DIRECTIONS: Pre-heat oven to 350F | In a cast iron skillet, add about a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, and saute the meat until brown | While the meat cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta and cook to al dente | Once the meat has browned, add the sauce and basil | Once the pasta is al dente, add the pasta water and pasta to the skillet and toss to coat | Add the cheeses and mix to combine | Bake the lasagna for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted | Add pecorino to taste.

green goddess salad with kale, pomegranate + roasted chickpeas

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Perhaps I’m riding the high from yesterday’s euphoric slash agonizing workout, however, before I head out for another session (just call me a masochist), I decided to hoover a large bowl of kale. I made some modifications to the original recipe, which called for cheese (dairy has been killing me softly with its song as of late) and anchovy paste (I can’t), and added it additional fruit and crunchy nuts so I’m filled, as my pop would say, to the gills.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Clara Persis, with modifications.
For the salad
6 cups Lacinato kale, pretty finely chopped
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 roasted pistachios
1 tbsp flaxseed
1 Granny Smith apple, shredded
olive oil
salt and pepper

For the dressing:
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
3/4 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 tsp fish sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small garlic clove
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS
Preheat your oven to 400°. Placed the chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Drizzle with a little olive oil (1/2 tbsp) and toss to coat all the peas. Be generous with your salt and pepper, so you have the opportunity to have a truly seasoned and flavorful salad topper. Roast the chickpeas for 25-30 minutes until deep golden brown and crunchy. Allow them to cool slightly.

Make the dressing: Blitz all the ingredients in a blender food processor, and blend until completely combined and very smooth. Set aside.

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Place the kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Using your hand, massage the olive oil into the kale a bit to soften the leaves. Pour in 1/2 cup of dressing and toss well to combine. Add in the chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, apple, blueberries, flaxseeds, and pistachios, and toss gently. Season with a little more salt and pepper. Spoon the salad into bowls, drizzle with a bit more dressing, and serve immediately.

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cheddar + dill biscuits + living this one great life

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Whenever you are faced with a choice between liberty and security, choose liberty. Otherwise you will end up with neither. People who sell their souls for the promise of a secure job and a secure salary are spat out as soon as they become dispensable. The more loyal to an institution you are, the more exploitable, and ultimately expendable, you become…You know you have only one life. You know it is a precious, extraordinary, unrepeatable thing: the product of billions of years of serendipity and evolution. So why waste it by handing it over to the living dead?George Monbiot

It’s easy to ghost through our waking life. Play the part of a somnambulant — a body that moves mechanically, with no purpose or passion. We live to be cartographed and programmed, and we cleave all too delicately to the everyday certainties that threaten to undo us: the traffic that is relentless, the job we slumber to, the boss who is possibly psychopathic, the beloved with whom we settle because considering options becomes a tiresome proposition.

My pop suffers from stiffened joints that make it sometimes difficult for him to walk, and when I press him on this, when I ask him to see a doctor, he says he’d rather carry this discomfort because the risk taken to learn that he may be sick, that something may be gravely wrong is too much from him to bear. So he chooses to live with this disquiet, this numb leg and the stiffness on a limb that used to move nimble, quick. I’m quiet as I know how far I can push him, that there might be a moment where his silence matches my own.

I have a friend who tells me she’s getting OUT. She says this in a voice that implies she’s speaking in all caps, and she often sends me notes reaffirming her need to quit his job. But the money’s so damn good, and it’s not all that bad, even during the dark moments when it is that bad. Sometimes she tells me that she’s an adult and it’s not like we’re twenty-three anymore; it’s not as if the world is still filled with so much possibility. There are mortgages to pay, purses to buy, expensive meds to refill. She sells herself a lemon life, and she’s masterful at it. Other times, late, she sends me texts and tells me that she lives vicariously through me, a single artist who can indulge in such flights! of! fancy!, and I have to remind her of my $130,000 student loan debt, the five-figure credit card debt, and, oh by the way, this artist has been working as a professional marketer for seventeen years. There is no flight of fancy. There is no ticker tape of golden skin on a Fijian beach, rather there is a decision to live your life uncomfortably comfortable or live your life with all the bandaids ripped off. And this puts me to thinking that sometimes a mortgage is not too far from a mortuary, and that safe is probably the more dangerous of all the four-letter words. Safe tells you that the world no longer glints and gleams, that there is no Santa Claus. Safe tells you that in 401K, we trust. Safe tells you that you’re an adult now, you can no longer dream now, the world is closing in on you now. Safe tells us you that your story has already been written.

We chose the hand we know we can play rather than the terrain undiscovered.

Seven years ago, I stopped drinking and told myself that I’d lead a safe, controlled life. I created routines, only cleave to that which was familiar, and I told myself to get serious about the business of being an adult. Because I’m someone who observes the extremes, I interpreted safe as the antithesis of reckless. No longer would I be the twenty-five-year old who brought drugs on a plane and woke up in a different state. No longer would I play detective with crumbled up receipts and call records. I got a cat and I lived this very vibrant and verbose life, online, but rarely did I leave my phone. And for a while this worked until my home and office resembled one another in the sense that they resembled the inside of a tomb. I wasn’t living life, I was hiding it from it with over 140-character count witticism and perfectly composed blog post. Exasperated, a friend once shouted through tears that I was impenetrable, and even after listening to my friend in pain nothing registered. I couldn’t feel anything, and it would be a year later until I’d realize that I traded in one form of anaesthesia (alcohol) for another (solitary confinement). It would be two years later until I’d started the long road to repair that friendship, to open all the doors and let people in.

When I read George Monbiot’s article, I paused because it reminded me that there is no joy living in the extremes, of inhabiting a word until it becomes you, and you are only defined by how you are not living. His words articulated that there is something brilliant and beautiful in the middle of reckless and safe, that there is color and sound and feeling in taking giant leaps of self-faith. As a woman inching toward 40 I’m finding that I need to revisit children’s books because they remind me that a story survives on its own velocity, that it can always be retold and rewritten as long as it’s good. As long as that story keeps a child’s eyes wide, but then softly sings them into a slumber.

So far I’ve booked trips to Ireland (a journey with my pop who’s from Dublin) and India this year, and while I still don’t know how my story ends, I like the art of writing it, and rewriting it as I go.

All this thought while working from home, making biscuits.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of A Pastry Affair.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold butter
2 tbsp fresh dill, minced
1 cup (4 ounces) cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 + 2 tbsp cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (220 degrees C).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or with two forks until mixture resembles a coarse sand. Mix in the fresh dill and cheddar cheese. Gradually pour in the heavy cream and milk, mixing until just combined.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and bring together until it forms a ball. If you need to knead the dough to bring it together, do so but no more than 10-12 times. Flatten the dough ball to roughly an 1-inch thick round and, using a 2-inch round cookie cutter or drinking glass of equivalent size dipped in flour, cut out biscuits until all dough is used. Place biscuits on a baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until tops of biscuits are lightly browned.

Allow to cool slightly on a rack before serving.
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pasta milano: savory, simple + delicious

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Believe me when I say that this is one of the days where I don’t want to leave the house. Right now I’m content with streaming episodes of The Twilight Zone and preparing my lunch for the week. The benefit of an Odyssean work commute and an office park where one has to drive to the nearest Starbucks, is the need to bring your own lunch. This necessity prevents me from ordering a daily slew of garbage. This necessity makes it imperative that I potter about the kitchen on Sundays, filling plastic containers with fresh food, salads and a little sweet.

On deck this week is a little pasta milano. I have to say that out of all the cookbooks I’ve purchased while in Australia, hers has proven to be a star. There’s no real flash in this book, rather, Janelle Bloom offers a steady stream of meals that are simple to make and satisfy the palate. From fried chicken to protein-packed salads and quick fixes (free-form Bolognese pie and Turkish pockets stuffed with spinach and feta), I’m excited to cook my way through the book and share my finds with you.

So this week you’ll find me munching on pasta, sipping on my green smoothies, and savoring homemade cookies.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Janelle Bloom’s Fast Fresh & Fabulous, with significant modifications*
500g (1 lb, 4 links) chorizo
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken (or beef) stock
400g (1lb) pasta
1/4 cup mascarpone
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
50g pecorino romano cheese (1/2 cup), grated

*Cook’s Notes: The recipe called for an additional 1/4 cup of heavy cream, which I eliminated. I also dialed up the shallots and chili flakes and used homemade tomato sauce I had on hand. I also used chorizo sausage instead of Italian sweet sausage.

DIRECTIONS
Using a sharp knife, remove the sausages from their casings. Roughly chop the sausage meat and set aside.

Heat oil in a large frying pan (or a cast-iron skillet) over medium heat. Add the shallots, with a touch of salt, and allow them to cook until lightly golden (3-5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to high, and add the sausage meat to the pan, cooking the meat for 4-5 minutes, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook, stirring, for one minute.

Stir in the tomato sauce and stock. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. While the meat is cooking, cook pasta until al dente. Drain and return to the saucepan.

Combine the mascarpone and parsley and stir into the meat sauce. Add the pasta and pecorino cheese to the meat sauce and stir over heat until well combined. Season with salt, pepper and serve.

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homemade buttery brioche bread loaves

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This weekend is proving to be pretty spectacular. I spent Saturday surrounded by brilliant friends {old and new}, all of whom are hatching plans for greatness. One of my dearest friends is launching a chocolate business, but more on that tomorrow. As always, I feel privileged to know so many great, strong women who are making things HAPPEN.

Today, I plan to travel to Long Island to see my pop for a day of horses, driving, and The Cheesecake Factory {his favorite}. I also plan to bring him a fresh loaf of this brioche, which is honestly the gift that keeps on giving.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe
makes 2 loaves
2 1/4 cups (315 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast, or 1 ounce (28 grams) fresh cake yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp (82 grams) sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (120 grams) cold water
6 eggs
1 cup plus 6 tbsp (2 3/4 sticks/310 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

Note: Do not halve this recipe. There won’t be enough dough to engage the dough hook of your mixer, and the dough won’t get the workout it needs to become a light, fluffy bread. Don’t worry about having too much: Both the dough and the baked loaves freeze well, and having a freezer filled with brioche is never a bad thing.

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DIRECTIONS
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all of the ingredients have come together. Stop the mixer as needed to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

On low speed, add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Then, continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all of the butter to be mixed thoroughly into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat for another 15 minutes, or until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually will turn smooth and silky. Then, turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it: it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in one piece.

Place the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. At this point, you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

To make two brioche loaves, line the bottom and sides of two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans with parchment, or butter the pans liberally. Divide the dough in half and press each piece into about a 9-inch square. The dough will feel like cold, clammy Play-Doh. Facing the square, fold down the top one-third toward yo, and then fold up the bottom one-third, as if folding a letter. Press to join these layers. Turn the folded dough over and place it, seam-side down in one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the second piece of dough, placing it in the second prepared pan.

Cover the loaves lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for about 4 to 5 hours, or until the loaves have nearly doubled in size. They should have risen to the rim of the pan and be rounded on top. When you poke at the dough, it should feel soft, pillowy and light, as if it’s filled with air – because it is! At this point, the texture of the loaves always reminds me a bit of touching a water balloon.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg until blended. Gently brush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the tops and sides of the loaves are completely golden brown. Let cool in the pans on wire racks for 30 minutes, then turn the loaves out of the pans and continue to cool on the racks.

The bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days (if it is older than 3 days, try toasting int) or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

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buttermilk biscuits with parsley + sage + an ode to joanne chang

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You may have noticed that I’ve been kind of addicted to Joanne Chang’s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe. I first encountered the famed owner of Flour Bakery + Café this summer when my editor sent me her sequel, Flour, Too, for review. Not only was I enamored by a woman who made a radical career change, making the radical leap from management consultant to baker, but the glee she imbues within each recipe — as if she’s rediscovering pastry and cookies and biscuits for the first time — was infectious. You wanted to say yes to Joanne, regardless of what she was hocking.

1112p95-flour-cookbook-lNever did I think that I could adore a cookbook as much as I did Flour, Too, but Flour is truly remarkable. For those of you reading this space, you know I’ve just come off the gastronomic blitzkrieg that was the Kinfolk affair, replete with failed recipes and practiced humility, so I needed to return to recipes I could trust, recipes made with a practiced hand and acute sensibility. So when I saw Flour in my local bookstore, I thumbed through the pages and then ran to the register.

It should be noted that I haven’t been this in love with a cookbook since Karen DeMasco’s The Craft of Baking {if you don’t own this book, you should}. Not only will you find your classic cookies and crumbles and cakes, you’ll encounter some delicious delights {homemade oreos and fig newtons, milky way tarts, and chocolate filled brioche}. The instructions are clear, meticulous and exacting, and I haven’t made one dessert out of this book which wasn’t a tremendous success.

These biscuits? I plan to ambush my friend at yoga with a bag of these, since my bounty is starting to pile up. Ah, the days of office life when you can pile up goods in the kitchen and run.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces, plus 2 tablespoons, melted
1/2 cup cold nonfat buttermilk
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 cold egg
1 tbsp finely chopped sage
1 tbsp chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until combined. Scatter the cold butter pieces over the top and mix on medium-low speed for about 1 minute, or until the butter is broken down and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, cream, egg, and sage until well combined. With the stand mixer on low speed, pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture. Mix for 10 to 15 seconds, or just until the dough comes together. (There will still be some loose dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl.)

Unscrew the bowl from the stand mixer. Using your hands, gather the dough together and turn it over in the bowl so that it picks up the loose dry ingredients. Turn the dough a few more times, until all of the dry ingredients are mixed in.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a 1-inch-thick round. Using a 3-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out biscuits and place them on a baking sheet. Gently recombine the dough scraps, pat into another 1-inch-thick round, and cut out more biscuits. (Repeat if necessary; you should have 8 biscuits total. At this point, the biscuits can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week.)

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the biscuits are entirely golden brown. (If baking frozen biscuits, add 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.) Remove, place the pan on a wire rack, and let cool. In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter and parsley. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the butter while they are still warm.

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Book interior image credit: Cooking Light.

rosemary + roasted garlic bread

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When I bake, my kitchen’s a bit of a hurricane. My apartment is small, six hundred square feet {with an abnormally large three hundred square foot deck}, and I like it that way because there’s less space of which to fill with unnecessary things. Though I’d rather give up my bedroom to have an enormous kitchen with oceans of the counter space. Instead, I try to make the best of what I have, make efficient use of storage, but there’s always piles of nuts and herbs and boxes of things and cookbooks on the counter.

It’s a mess, but it’s a beautiful mess. It’s my mess, always undone, always inviting. The opposite of the whitewashed Kinfolk life, where space is abundant, kitchens are basked in efulgent light, and the linens are bespoke and handwoven.

Last night, I spent the better portion of the evening making this lovely bread from the Kinfolk cookbook. When I unearthed it from the oven, I felt victorious. Roasted garlic and rosemary perfumed the room, and there’s nothing better than slathering cool butter on hot, homemade bread.

Although I had to do a bit of tinkering with the original instructions, the bread delivers — an absolute must-bake. Part of me wonders if I should publish corrections to all of the recipes in need of help in this lovely tome.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from The Kinfolk Table: Recipes for Small Gatherings, with modifications
1 large head of garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing + serving
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup water, warmed to 110F
3 cups bread flour + 1/4 cup on hand in the event your dough is too sticky
2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
Coarse sea salt
Balsamic vinegar
Special equipment: Thermometer, pastry brush, spray bottle with a bit of water, stand mixer + dough hook attachment, baking sheet

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DIRECTIONS
For roasting the garlic: Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Cut the head of garlic in half and drizzle with 3 tbsp of olive oil, making sure the interior and exterior are coated. Season the cut sides with coarse sea salt. Press the garlic halves together and wrap tightly with tin foil, roasting for an hour until the cloves are juicy, golden, and soft. Set aside on a rack to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the sugar and two teaspoons of salt in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast and water, and allow the mixture to stand until it foams, approximately 10 minutes. If your yeast doesn’t foam, dump it. It’s not activated and won’t give your dough the height and softness that will make it divine. The reasons for your yeast not activating: you’re either using bad {or expired} yeast, or your water was too hot. That’s why a thermometer is key. I tend to boil my water and watch the temperature rise.

Once your yeast is activated, stir in three tablespoons of olive oil and three cups of the flour. Knead the dough in the stand mixer for six-seven minutes. The dough will look as if it won’t come together, trust me, it will. If the dough is too wet + sticky, add some of the reserve flour, a tablespoon at a time. If you’re not using a stand mixer, knead by hand (pulling with your fingers and pushing back with the heels of your hands) for ten minutes.

Add one tablespoon of the fresh rosemary, the oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and knead in the mixer for two minutes, or by hand for five minutes. Squeeze the cloves out of their skins and add them to the mixer, and gently knead until combined (30 sec-1 minute in a mixer), 1 minute by hand.

Shape the dough into a ball. Brush a large bowl with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, place the dough inside, and turn several times until completely coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for an hour, or until doubled in size.

After the first rise, punch the dough down and shape it into a round loaf. Using a sharp, serrated knife, make a criss-cross design on top. Place the loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then cover with the large bowl you used originally. Allow the dough to rise for another hour, or until doubled in size.

Ten minutes before the end of your second rise, pre-heat the oven to 375F. Brush the loaf with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and remaining one tablespoon of rosemary. Bake for fifteen minutes, then spray the loaf with water and bake for another fifteen minutes. After the half hour, increase the oven temperature to 425F, spray the loaf once again and bake for another five minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and cool for 10 minutes. Serve with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper. Or, you can opt for the classic — cool butter.

The bread is best eaten the day it’s made.

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pumpkin white bean hummus with quinoa + pomegranate

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When the start to your week is lackluster. You drop your phone, something about it ceases to function, people push and shove on the subway and read their iPad, blowing stale breath inches away from your face. They tap their foot at the oatmeal line, the oatmeal topping line and the coffee line, so much so that you want to turn around and yell, you can’t wait ten seconds?!

Welcome to Monday. Trivial annoyances, absolutely, but annoyances nonetheless. Part of it stems from the fact that I increasingly have this ache to leave New York. I’ve lived here all of my life and I’m tired of the city. I’m tired of the romance and folly people drape on the streets, which is a rarified romance for a very privileged few. I’m tired of the shoving, the crowds, the noise. I want a house of my own. A garden of my own. Something to tend to, a home that is not suffocating under the footfalls of the motley lot.

Every annoyance is amplified. Every pill that I swallow, due to onset asthma, due to allergies, due to city pollution, due to a place where I can no longer clearly see the clouds in the sky.

As I think about the things for which I’m grateful, I’m trying to re-engineer the conversation. Trying to conceive of how I can leave New York, and where, possibly, could I go.

Will bake pastries for EU citizenship.

INGREDIENTS
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can canneloni beans (white beans), drained and rinsed
⅔ cup pumpkin puree
1 tbsp maple syrup or agave
1 tsp fresh marjoram, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
salt to taste
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS
In a medium pot, add the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Once the quinoa is done, fluff with a fork, cover, and set aside to cool for 20 minutes.

In a blender, blitz the olive oil, beans, pumpkin, syrup, cumin, garlic, marjoram, thyme and salt until you gain a silky, creamy texture. Set aside.

Once the quinoa has cooled, mix in 1/2 cup of the pumpkin hummus, pomegranate seeds and parsley. Add seasoning to taste.

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