Monday, January 8, 2018


This is one of those recipes I've been wanting to make for a long time -- maybe because the name sounds so interesting!  I definitely should have made muhammara sooner, because it's very easy and also very delicious.  It's similar to hummus and could be used pretty much anywhere you would serve hummus, but with walnuts and roasted red peppers as the main ingredients.  We enjoyed it with guests at Thanksgiving, with lots of different fresh veggies for dipping.


Muhammara (adapted from The Moosewood Restaurant Table)
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup walnuts
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 large roasted red peppers, drained if using jarred
1 T fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons pomegranate molasses or substitute an additional 1 T lemon juice + 1 tsp brown sugar
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp salt
⅓ to ½ cup breadcrumbs

Toast the walnuts in an oven at 350 degrees or in a dry skillet for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned. Set aside to cool for a few minutes before processing.

Place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until the nuts are well chopped. Add all the remaining ingredients (starting with the smaller amount of breadcrumbs).  Process until smooth.  Add more breadcrumbs for a thicker dip, and adjust salt, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes to taste.  Keeps 1 week in the fridge.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Pecan Coffee Cake

This coffee cake is a tradition in my husband's family.  His dad makes lots of them every year to give to neighbors and friends; I just made two but it definitely made our Christmas feel more festive! The yeast dough is tender and comes together easily, and it's filled with a cinnamon-sugar meringue filling and chopped pecans.  I love how food can make me feel close to family even when we're not together in person.  (I was 9 months pregnant this Christmas and so unable to travel.)  

Pecan Coffee Cake (recipe from Grandma June)
Makes 2 coffee cakes

Heaping 1 tsp instant dry yeast
1/2 cup slightly warm milk
2 c all purpose flour
1/2 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into small cubes
2 eggs

For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

To top:
Frosting: 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 T soft butter, a splash of vanilla, and 1-3 T milk
Whole pecans, toasted

1. Whisk the yeast into the milk and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the butter (as for a pie crust).  
3. Separate the eggs.  Cover the egg whites and store in the refrigerator.  Beat together 1-1/2 egg yolks, and then mix into the flour mixture.  Reserve the extra egg yolk in the fridge.  
4. Add the milk to the flour mixture and combine well.  Place in a covered bowl and chill overnight.
5. The next day, separate the dough into two equal parts.  For each part of the dough, roll into a rectangular shape about 12 inches long and 1/4-inch thick.  
6. Beat together about 3/4 of the reserved egg whites. When the egg whites are very foamy, beat in the sugar and cinnamon.  Spread half over each piece of pastry, and sprinkle half the pecans over each.  Roll up like a jelly roll, pinching the ends and seams to seal.
7. Place seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Let rest 1 hour.  
8. Whisk the reserved egg yolk with 1/2 T water and brush on the coffee cakes. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 40 minutes, until lightly golden.  Cool on a wire rack.
9. Whisk together the frosting ingredients and drizzle over the coffee cake.  For a neater presentation, you can place in a Ziplock bag and cut off the corner.  Arrange whole pecans on the frosting before it hardens.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Rhubarb-Apple Crisp

This dessert is super easy but so delicious.  I love the combination of sweet apples with tart rhubarb, and the crispy topping is the perfect finish.  You can add nuts to the topping for extra crunch if you like, although I think it's really tasty with just oats.  Leftovers reheat well if you have fact, this is pretty awesome for breakfast!

Rhubarb-Apple Crisp (adapted from Cooking Light)

For the filling:
Cooking spray/oil
12 ounces fresh rhubarb, diced
1-1/4 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 T flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the topping:
2/3 cup rolled oats
6 T flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
5 T unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a 6-cup baking dish with oil (you can also use other dish sizes if that's what you have).
2. Combine all of the filling ingredients in a bowl, and stir to combine.  Transfer to the baking dish.
3. Stir together the oats, flour, and brown sugar (you can use the same bowl).  Add the butter, and rub in with your hands until the mixture begins to hold together when compressed.  Sprinkle over the fruit mixture.
4. Bake 45-55 minutes, until bubbling and tender. Cover loosely with foil if the topping gets brown to quickly.  Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

We recently bought a new house, and there's a fantastic Mexican grocery store in our new neighborhood.  I found some delicious-looking tomatillos there, and knew I wanted to make a roasted tomatillo salsa.  A roommate of mine from grad school had made this type of salsa, and after looking at a bunch of different recipes online, I think I figured out a pretty good approximation! The recipe is super easy -- roast all the veggies, and then puree with either a blender or stick blender.  It keeps well in the fridge, and is so tasty -- I could eat it with a spoon!  This version is mild, but you can either use a hotter chile or add more jalapenos if you prefer a spicy salsa.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

16-24 ounces fresh tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed well
1 jalapeno pepper
1/2 large white onion, cut into large wedges
Olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Toss the tomatillos, jalapeno, and onion with olive oil, and arrange in a single layer.  Sprinkle with a little salt.
2. Roast the veggies for 14-15 minutes, turning them once about halfway through.
3. Let cool slightly.  Remove the stem/seeds from the jalapeno and the cores from the tomatillos.  Add all the veggies to a blender or tall bowl (to use with a stick blender).  Tip in a little olive oil, along with the lime juice and cilantro.  Process until the salsa is as chunky as you like it.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Peanut-Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

I made these cookies for a recent potluck, and they were a big hit! People could hardly believe they were peanut cookies -- I think because peanut butter cookies are so much more common, and starting with whole peanuts really creates a different texture.  Although the dough for these cookies comes together quickly in the food processor, slicing and shaping them was pretty fussy -- the dough crumbles very easily and I often had to sort of push everything back together on the baking sheet.  That said, once the cookies were baked and cooled, they stood up well and had a lovely shortbread-type texture and delicate flavor.  

Peanut-Chocolate Chunk Shortbread (adapted from Alice Medrich's Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)

1 heaping cup lightly salted peaunts
1 slightly rounded cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chunks

1. Place the nuts, flour, and sugar in a food processor, and process until the nuts are just ground.  Add the butter and vanilla, and process until the mixture forms a dough.  Add the chocolate chunks, and process until just incorporated.
2. Shape the dough into a log, wrap in parchment or wax paper, and chill overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment or foil.
4. Remove the dough log from the fridge, and let sit about 10 minutes to soften slightly.  Slice into 1/4-inch thick slices and arrange on the baking sheets.  I found the dough was really crumbly, but when this happened, I just sort of pushed the dough back together and it baked up fine!  Bake 12-14 minutes, rotating halfway through.  The cookies will be lightly browned on the bottoms.
5. Let the cookies rest on the sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Cheddar-Bacon Biscuits and Citrus-Kale Salad with Roasted Salmon

This biscuit recipe is so good I've made it three times in the past couple of months!  It's nice because it's super flexible -- I've used various types of dairy, and a whole range of different mix-ins.  If you don't have a full cup of milk, you can add some sour cream or plain yogurt to supplement.  The cheddar-bacon combo pictured below is fantastic, and I've also made a version with cornmeal, dried cherries, and pecans that is amazing with peach jam.  Best of all, the biscuit recipe is easy to pull together, even on a weeknight.

Make it a full meal with kale salad and roasted salmon.  These dishes are both simple but flavorful, and a nice lighter complement to the richer biscuits.  I especially loved the citrus dressing on the kale salad, with both lemon and orange juice plus Dijon mustard.  Yum!

All-Purpose Fancy Biscuits, with Cheddar-Bacon variation (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
Makes 9 biscuits (or cut into smaller pieces for more biscuits)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Spray with oil.

Whisk together:
2-1/2 cups flour (sub up to 1 cup with whole wheat or 1/2 cup with cornmeal)
2 T baking powdr
1 T sugar
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt

Cut 1 stick unsalted butter into small cubes, and cut into the flour using two knives.  If you have some large pieces, you can blend them in with your fingers.  

Add up to 1 cup mix-ins -- I used shredded cheddar cheese and diced bacon, but there are many options:
Grated cheese (cheddar, jack, havarti, Parmesan, etc.)
Crumbled bacon
Fresh herbs (scallions, chives, parsley, thyme, sage, etc.)
Pitted and chopped olives
Chopped nuts 
Dried fruit (chopped if large)
Seeds (poppy, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, etc.)
Drained and chopped picked hot peppers
Drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Up to 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (or another vegetable puree)
Citrus zest (lemon, orange, lime, etc.)

Add 1 cup buttermilk or whole milk, and stir until the dough just comes together.  Pat into a rectangle, about 3/4-inch thick, and then fold in half and pat out again to the same size.  Cut into rectangles (or use a biscuit cutter to create other shapes. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 12-15 minutes, until well-browned.

All-Purpose Citrus Dressing (adapted from Cooking Light)

2 T olive oil
1 T lemon juice
1 T orange juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard (creamy or country-style both work)
1 small clove minced garlic (optional)
Season with salt and pepper

Whisk everything together, taste, and adjust seasoning (I added a bit more lemon juice).

Citrus-Kale Salad with Roasted Salmon (adapted from Cooking Light)
Easily adaptable to any number of servings -- one bunch of kale will serve 2-3 people

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Rub fresh salmon with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Roast about 15 minutes, until it flakes easily.

Shred raw kale, and wash well.  Place in a large serving bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Massage for a minute or two until the kale starts to break down.  Add halved red grapes, orange sections, and crumbled goat cheese.  Dress with All-Purpose Citrus Dressing (see above).  Toss, and serve topped with roasted salmon.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Asiago Polenta with Swiss Chard and Cherry Tomatoes

I love polenta -- it's one of my favorite comfort foods.  Here, it's paired with Asiago cheese, sauteed Swiss chard, and sweet leeks, making a fresh and tasty light meal.  Cherry tomatoes sprinkled on top add a great hit of acidity to the dish.  For more protein, add a fried or poached egg on top.  (I'm currently pregnant and can't stand the sight of eggs, but someday I'm sure I'll like them again!)

Asiago Polenta with Swiss Chard and Cherry Tomatoes (adapted from Honest Cooking)
Serves 4

4 cups water (more as needed)
1 cup polenta
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese, plus more to serve
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 large leek, white and green parts only, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed, stems removed, and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile
Halved cherry tomatoes

1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Season with a generous pinch of salt.  Gradually stir in the polenta, whisking quickly to avoid lumps.  Turn down the heat, continuing to stir.  When the water is completely absorbed, add more water, a half a cup at a time -- at least 4 cups, but you may need more to get the consistency you want.
2. Cook the polenta for about 30 minutes, while you prepare and cook the rest of the recipe.  Whisk briskly occasionally, and add water as needed to keep the mixture loose.
3. In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil together and add the leeks.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown, 10-15 minutes.
4. Add the garlic to the keeps and cook a minute or two.  Add the chard and Aleppo chile, and cook, stirring, just until the chard is wilted.  Taste and season with more salt as needed.
5. Turn the heat off the polenta, add the grated cheese to the polenta, and whisk to melt.  Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired.
6. To serve, add a generous scoop of polenta to a bowl.  Top with greens, cherry tomatoes, and more grated Asiago cheese.  You can also add an egg for protein.