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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the flawed apple crisp from the kinfolk cookbook

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It’s rare that a cookbook would evoke such vitriol, but after I received the Kinfolk Cookbook: Gatherings You’ll Likely Never to be Invited to, I paged through the book and found myself livid. While I’m saving my rage rampage for a review on Medium (as I’ve still a few more recipes to test), I will say this: their representation of Brooklyn — the place where I was born and raised, and fell in love with the vibrancy and passion with which we made our food, even if we bought our dishes with food stamps and waitressing tips — is austere, whitewashed and affluent, devoid of flavor, color and texture. And after thumbing through 300 some-odd pages, it occurred to me that the cookbook is a variation on a singular theme: the creation of a life lived in an Anthropologie catalog. It’s the reason why we get lost in blogs. We want our linens and bowls and kitchens with reclaimed wood — Kinfolk is a very specific America, rife with denizens who are preened to disheveled perfection.

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 4.36.06 PMThey drive miles for mussels and set a formidable table in their outdoor barns. Theirs is a life of cultivated beauty that carries its own disquiet, giving the illusion of simplicity when it’s nothing more than understated affluence and luxury. The kind of gatherings where meals are photographed with a thousand-dollar camera, everyone has clean skin, shiny hair, and ebullient optimism. The portraits tell you everything and nothing at once, and there is no real visceral connection between image and type, rather it’s the story of people who project the lives you wish you could live, and the recipes are merely an antecedent to that lovely fiction, down to the stalks of grass in their hands and wisteria in their hair. If we’re to believe, as the founders of Kinfolk tell us, that this book is the celebration of gatherings, where is that passion in the crafting of the recipes and how the instructions are delivered? Because they’re cold, formulaic, sometimes off — hardly connecting the meal to the person to the story to the gathering celebrating it all. What is it then we’re celebrating? A life lived in organic sepia? A life through the lens of those who photograph it?

I’ve seen more passion in 2chainz’s cookbook than in this pristine whitewash of an affair.

And while you could argue that perhaps I’m not the audience for Kinfolk, I’m the audience for food, and after testing three recipes, the book has some demonstrable flaws.

I made this crisp {twice!}, to the letter, and both times the crisp failed. Please know that I’ve been making pies and crisps and crumbles for the better part of a decade, and the recipe is flawed in the sense of flavor balance, texture and technique. The juice of two lemons + tart apples + 1/4 cup of sugar yielded a nearly astringent lemon flavor that overpowered the apples + the cinnamon. The topping was entirely too sweet, sickeningly so, for the amount of flour in the recipe, so on the third go, I’ve made some significant alterations to the final recipe. Additionally, covering the crisp with parchment and wax only added to the cooking time and didn’t do anything in terms of the final product. I could have easily gone without (as I’ve done for 16 years) and have enjoyed a simple crisp. However, since the crisp was tented, I had to increase the cooking time to achieve a brown crust, which inevitably yielded apples the consistency of applesauce.

In short, there is absolutely no reason why I needed to tent my crisp. There is no justice in following the original printed recipe to the letter.

All of this begs the question: were the recipes in this cookbook tested in a real kitchen so we, as consumers, can be certain that the chemistry is on point? Was the cookbook proofed, for I found a lot of errors in the recipes, and I’m only three dishes in. Insert image of a side-eye.

Trust me, more to come on Medium.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Kinfolk: Recipes for Small Gatherings, with
significant
alterations

For the topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp quick cooking oats (you can also use rolled oats)
3/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the pie
4 tbsp of unsalted butter, cold and diced
2 1/2 lbs of mixed apples (tart + sweet. I love empire, granny smith and golden delicious), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch slices
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS
For the topping: Combine the flour, sugars, oats and allspice in a medium bowl and mix until combined. Add the butter and mix with your hands until your have the consistency of fat peas. Set aside.

For the pie: Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Grease an 8-inch baking dish with 2 tbsp of butter. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice + zest to prevent oxidation (or the apples turning brown). Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl, then add this to the apples until they’re evenly coated. Transfer the apples to the prepared dish, and distribute the crumbly topping evenly. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of butter to the top of the crumble.

Add the pie on a large baking sheet covered in parchment paper, and bake the crisp for 50-60 minutes, until the topping is brown, and the juices bubble up.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes on a rack, and serve!

Image credit: Kinfolk Magazine {second image}

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almond jam tart

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After a slew of failed recipes this past weekend, I was a little shaken. However, I’m closing on a contract with a start-up, where I’ll be working with extraordinary women who are launching a product perfect for the fashionable lady, I rocked out a few cookbook reviews, and I scheduled a breakfast interview with an extraordinary company located out west…so a woman just had to celebrate.

For a time, I loved everything that was Kinfolk Magazine. From the austere, minimalist photography to the stories that were at the very core of why I adore food, I felt as if I had found the magazine that I’d be waiting for — a union of type and image that not only conveyed the promise of a dish but elevated the prose to that of art. However, the past two issues felt off to me. It felt as if I had stepped into another episode of the kids cooler than you, and suddenly I felt like Kinfolk was slowly evolving to become the McSweeney’s of food. Then after a recent, rather unfortunate experience with an abrasive customer service representative, I decided to not renew my subscription. Odd. I had once aspired to contribute to this magazine, but now it feels tarnished. That’s not to say that I won’t pick up the occasional issue on the newsstand, but perhaps I won’t be as quite a zealot.

I will say that the autumn issue is a delight. Focusing on inspiring us to untangle ourselves from the devices that only serve as barnacles, you’ll find new ways to create extraordinary experiences, food and otherwise. And when I discovered this simple tart recipe, I knew I’d found my celebratory sweet.

Enjoy, friends!

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Kinfolk Magazine, slightly modified
9 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups almond flour (ground almond meal)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
12 oz high-quality raspberry jam (I had blueberry on hand, so use what you fancy)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tbsp cane sugar for the top

Notes in the Margins: The original recipe called for 1 3/4 cup all-purpose and 1 3/4 cup almond flour, which I thought was a bit excessive when I was adding the dough the wet mixture. Also, I reviewed the Kinfolk recipe, and the cup to gram conversions for the white flour doesn’t jive with about seven sites that I’ve checked. Clearly, I could be mistaken, but I’d use the above cup measurements, which will yield a lovely tart. In retrospect the tart was a little sweet, so I’m dialing down the original 2/3 cup sugar to 1/2 cup. The jam will be sweet enough.

DIRECTIONS
In all candor, Kinfolk’s instructions were a bit dodgy, so much so that they left out the part where you are supposed to mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Bizarre. So I’m going to tell you how I adapted their directions and pulled this off.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9inch tart pan with a removable bottom with one tablespoon of butter.

Sift the flours, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. In a stand mixer (or hand-held mixer) fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light + fluffy, approximately 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Add the egg and beat until completely incorporated. Add the extracts and beat to combine. The mixture will look a little curdled, but don’t freak out — it’ll be fine when you mix in the flour.

In three batches, add the flour mixture, making sure that each batch is incorporated into the wet mixture. Once the flour is added, the dough should come together slightly, feel a little dry and slightly sticky. You want the dough to easily come together when pressed in your hand.

Press two-thirds of the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, working from the center out. You won’t think it’ll stretch. Trust me, it will. Spread the jam evenly on top of the dough with a butter knife or an offset spatula.

Roll the remaining dough into a cylinder about 9inch long and slice into rounds, 1/4 inch thick. Arrange the rounds on top of the jam, slightly overlapping them, starting from the edge and working to the center. As you can see, I was a little haphazard, which doesn’t matter since this tart was GODDAMN DELICIOUS. Sprinkle the tart with the sliced almonds and sugar.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the jam is bubbling and the dough rounds are slightly browned. Transfer the tart to a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour. (I didn’t do this, as I’m completely impatient and ate the tart piping hot. IDC. IDC.) Remove the tart from the an and transfer to a serving plate. The original recipe called for confectioner’s sugar, but that’s just bananas.

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potlikker in williamsburg, new york + lessons for spring…

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I saw my ex-husband in the street. I was sitting on the steps of the new library. Hello, my life, I said. We had once been married for twenty-seven years, so I felt justified. He said, What? What life? No life of mine. ― Grace Paley, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute: Stories

This morning I awoke, terrified. My hands were numb and I felt my body chill down to bone. Overcast and dark, no light came through my window and I was confused, shivering, wondering if the forecast called for thundersnow. Tossing aside the covers I paced my apartment, barefoot, waiting for the morning light to break sky. And in that small stretch of time before the night was relieved by the awakening of day, I doubted myself. Fear was that old friend who soft-knuckled the door that was my heart and I let it in and embraced it with my breath. Make no mistake, fear never really disappears, it hibernates, festers, waits for the moment when you are weak and shivering and slides in, pulls up a chair, wants to get to talking. Maybe, it whispers, you made a mistake. You do realize there’s no going back.

This put my heart on pause.

Here I was, so bold in my declarations I was practically bombastic. Telling everyone who would listen that March was the month before the first day of the rest of my life, and, imagine if I jettisoned off to Europe and never came back? Maybe once to cart off my kitty, but I’d hurry back to France, tumbling my way back to the country and the thicket of trees and orange groves and air. I rationalized that I was six years off the sauce {as of last week}, the most clarified I’ve ever been and everything felt right — so this was the right decision, right? To leave my job and run toward something other, right? But what if I was wrong? What if I was the wreckage?

And then the sun. I crept out on my deck, wrapped in a blanket, and for some reason I said, Hello, my life, and went back inside. And that was the end of it. I’m not kidding you. It was the strangest thing. I hopped in the shower, cut French class and went about my day.

Tipped off by a friend, I made the trek to Williamsburg to check out Potlikker, a place with its own story. Owner + chef, Liza Queen once ran a very eclectic spot in Greenpoint, lost her lease and took off for Vietnam to cook in a street shack. Two years later she returned, much like our Odysseus, and opened a place that’s an extension of her heart, her passion for flavor, and a menu that’s seasonal and filled with joie de vivre. Once inside I felt enveloped by warmth — from the staff to the open kitchen where you could hear the sizzle and snap of potatoes and sausage frying, to the serene green paint and wooden interior — and knew this was a place worth patroning.

And then there was the food. A flaky, buttery biscuit oozing with lemon curd and fresh berry compote, local eggs mixed with cheddar and served with applewood sausage and spicy potatoes, and the terrific, bottomless cup of coffee, I was DELIRIOUS. And while I was there, chowing away with aplomb, I thumbed through the latest issue of Kinkolk and found a photo essays, “Lessons for Spring,” a series of b+w images from another time and these simple instructions:

  • Leave the indoors behind
  • Choose a new hobby
  • Don’t be in such a hurry
  • Take matters into your own hands
  • Reawaken your youth
  • Sit in silence, alone
  • Draw close to those nearest and dearest
  • Don’t mind being eccentric
  • Fall in love with something new
  • Dive in deep

  • I tell myself to look for the signs. They may be minor, they may be innocuous, but just look for them. They’re my Northern Lights. Perhaps they can be yours, too.

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    love.life.eat of the week

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    Right now I feel very much like the kid caught in closet with a fistful of stolen chocolates. On a very stringent shopping hiatus, I’ve been waxing poetic about austerity and budgeting and then I go bananas and score some lovely linens from a small shop in Toronto. I need to stop buying for the home I want and consider the space I’m in now, but digressions.

    love.: The linens in question are a remarkable napkin set and tablecloth from Fog Linen. The weave is absolute perfection and the napkins have a weight that suggests a quality of the fabric and the striking presence it would add to any minimalist dinner table. I tend to go for neutrals as a clean palette against the dishes that will CHANGE THE GAME, KIDS. The dishes to which I refer come courtesy of Elephant Ceramics. Hand-crafted + painted bowls, you’ll fawn over the porcelain and linen blends — if you can ever get them in stock. And while you’re baking up those honey loaves and Christmas cookies, you’re going to want to cover up with one of Valerie Rice’s covet-worthy linen aprons. It’s true that I’m a bit of a linen addict, but you’ll admire the hefty fabric, the smart stitching and the nice fit. I showed off the apron to my office mates and they were quite impressed. A worthy holiday gift, certainly.

    life.: Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about kin. How we define (or not) what it means to be part of a clan. Sometimes it frightens me to think that I’m the last of my kind, the final Sullivan to walk the pavement, and sometimes this thought it all-consuming and I can easily get lost in it. So instead of focusing on all that is terrifying I think about my kin — a patchwork of family that I’ve pulled together. People who are a little strange, a little lost, much brilliant and filled with so much love. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I’ve cleaved to Kinfolk Magazine, a magazine centered on gatherings that anchor our relationships, cement us to the things and people we love. From food, entertaining, decor and life stories, you’ll love the honesty in this publication.

    eat: Constantly craving this Whole Wheat Seed Loaf, these unctuous chocolatey Sarah Bernhardt cakes, these virtuous Maple Cinnamon Spice Kale Chips, these swoon-worthy Croissants (!!!) and this BANANAS-amazing Chocolate Pomegranate Tart.