August 15, 2014




My husband called his maternal grandmother, "nan", pronounced "naan" like this flatbread. Fitting because she was a professional baker who hailed from Poland and made dishes that linger in the families memory: rich bread, elaborate cakes for birthdays, donuts she fried fresh in her kitchen, polish cheesecake, soup noodles and so on.  I would've liked to have met her but she passed away before I came into the picture. 

Her food lives on — my mother-in-law has reluctantly shared a few recipes but asked that I please not put them on "that computer thing of yours" (i.e., this blog), which I will of course honor, not wanting to blow the lid off the cooking world by revealing that nana put a pinch of cream of tartar in her donut batter (just an example, I know no such thing to be true). 

A warm flatbread served fresh off a hot griddle may be my family's favorite thing. I make homemade pita too and this is a little tangier and richer due to the addition of yogurt and milk in the dough. 

Maybe it will be my own "nana" dish when the time comes. Soft and crisp, perfect on it's own or with a little butter or olive oil it also makes a great base for other add-ins (garlic, herbs, cheese), toppings or as a vehicle for a hummus dip or tzatziki. 

I pulled this recipe off Food52 and it's almost perfect. I added some needed salt and made it using my awesome KitchenAid stand mixer (that has made it so much easier to do all kinds of baking) but you can use your hands and it will work just as well. 


adapted slightly from Food52

Makes 16

1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups AP flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cups whole milk
1 cup plain yogurt*
Melted butter or olive oil for brushing

*the original recipe calls for "not Greek" but I used Greek with no problems.

Note: unrolled-out dough balls keep well in the refrigerator overnight. Just punch down, roll out and griddle away.

1. Mix sugar, yeast and warm water together in a small bowl and let rest until foamy (10 minutes).

2. Meanwhile, whisk remaining dry ingredients together in a large bowl (or bowl of standing mixer) and make a well in the center. Combine milk and yogurt in separate bowl.

3. When yeast is bubbly, pour into milk/yogurt mixture, stir to combine and add into the well of flour mixture.

4. Stir with a wooden spoon until shaggy then put dough hook on mixer and set to lowest setting to knead. Knead approximately 3 minutes on lowest setting then turn up one notch and knead for another 3 minutes until dough is smooth. If you're kneading by hand it will take about 8 minutes. Dough will be sticky.

5. Scrape out of bowl and put into a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set someplace warm to rise for an hour or so until doubled in volume.

6. Punch down on floured surface, diving into two halves, then divide those halves into 8 pieces each.

7. Roll or pat out into approximately 6 inch ovals that are about 1/8 inch thick.

8. Heat a heavy pan on stove top over medium high heat. Brush ovals with melted butter or olive oil and place on hot griddle. Cook for one minute then flip and cook for another minute.

August 11, 2014

Tofu Fried Rice

Tofu Fried Rice

I spent last weekend at a horse show in Des Moines, Iowa with my equestrian daughter. It was the last show of the summer, which is always bittersweet. Sweet in that I can wash and vacuum out my car and and have it stay mud-free for longer than a week. Sweet because I now get to enjoy a summer weekend at home in Minneapolis. But bittersweet because some lovely young women who my daughter has rode with for the past few years are off to college and won't be hanging around the barn anymore, talking horses and life and giving my girl a peek into the older teenage years that await.

We all applauded and whistled and shed tears as they rode their last rounds and, driving away from the show grounds, felt their moving on. And while we look forward and expect good things from the next chapter, we mourn the one that is passing. These kids are focused riders who have grown up at the barn and benefited from the generosity of the equine community of parents, trainers, adult riders, grooms, show judges, in-gate guys and office staff who support them, teach them, hold them accountable, occasionally give them a friendly ribbing and keep the whole thing running smoothly (or as smoothly as a horse show can go —another story altogether).

What's special about this world for a child, in addition to the partnership and commitment to their equine partner, is that they have friends of all ages. The friendships come naturally and are free of drama because they share a central thing in their lives, horses and riding. I think this comes as a relief to many girls who don't always have the same kind of ease in their school friendships.

August 6, 2014

Cucumber Soup

Cucumber Soup

The inspiration for this cool and creamy soup came from my little one's driveway garden (the only reliably sunny spot on our city lot) where the cucumbers and parsley are kind of going nuts.

A quick spin in the blender with a few other ingredients makes for a clean, tasty and surprisingly filling summer soup. The yogurt and almonds give it some heft and the olive oil a little fruitiness. Fresh and delicious. It also holds well in the fridge without separating. I had it the next day with a spoonful of leftover rice and it was divine.

August 2, 2014

15 Minute Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

15 Minute Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

August. Precious August with its blue skies, breezy heat and armloads of pristine vegetables that, if we had them year-round, would make Californians out of all of us. Back-to-school missives are trying to infiltrate our summer mode and we swat them away like mosquitoes, trying to hold off the inevitable return to schedule and routine. 

A day baking in the kitchen doesn't suit my current frame of mind so these peanut butter cookies fit the bill. Just a few ingredients and they take about 15 minutes to throw together and bake. A bit longer if you dip them in chocolate glaze. Store them in the refrigerator—they're even better cold—full of rich peanut butter flavor and the dark chocolate glaze, if you choose to go that route, is a perfect compliment. 

July 29, 2014

Lentil Potato Salad with Feta

Lentil Potato Salad with Feta

I can't resist the cartons of itsy-bitsy potatoes at the farmer's market this time of year. Tender and tasting of earth, which I guess is to say dirt, they cook quickly and pair with just about anything, such is the easy-going nature of these tubers. A quick boil, a gentle smash and they're ready to hang out with green lentils, fresh herbs, a bit of onion, a chunk of feta, lots of good olive oil and a healthy shot of lemon juice. Good warm now, even better for lunch tomorrow.

July 20, 2014

Yogurt Buttermilk Herb Dressing/Dip

Yogurt buttermilk herb dressing

Homemade buttermilk herb dressing is so good and I love to occasionally douse my salads with the stuff but it does contain a fair amount of mayonnaise which makes it kind of bad for you. Bummer.

I replaced the mayo with plain yogurt in this version and it's pretty good. Maybe not quite as good as the naughty variety but it's an excellent stand-in and maybe even better when you use it as a dip for potato chips since it's a little tangier than the original, like a sour cream dip.

I know I know—now it's healthy and I dunk chips into it? Doesn't that defeat the purpose? Naw. In the world of crunchy salty snack foods potato chips are practically healthy...just three ingredients and you can pronounce and source each of them. How's that for a rationalization?

July 15, 2014

Raw and Grilled Corn Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

It's almost full-throated, stop at every farm stand, butter and salt dripping down your wrist, stuck between your teeth corn-o-copia time in Minnesota. Corn on the cob recalls the best summer meals and memories; steak, burgers or fish you or your sister or your dad caught in the lake and fried in a big skillet served alongside perfect corn and sliced tomatoes with black pepper and salt from the glass shaker on the table with grains of rice in it to keep the salt from caking and refusing to pass through the holes on the lid. After dinner it's endless games of gin rummy or cribbage with a little baby powder sprinkled on the cards to keep them dry and able to shuffle properly, which is to say thoroughly because these are games of skill. Skill—never luck. 

This recipe is made with corn I got at the grocery store. Not the perfect corn because it wasn't picked this morning and sold roadside in a paper sack or on a folding table outside the meat market by an older gent or kids sitting on lawn chairs looking like they have all the time in the world to sit and sell corn for a few bucks a bag. 

I left half of the corn raw and grilled the other half until slightly charred, sliced it off the cobs and combined it with a bit of red onion, red pepper, thinly sliced red cabbage, a spoonful of parmesan (feta or goat cheese would be good too) and a splash of punchy cumin vinaigrette. Great with grilled chicken on the side or cut into chunks and added to the bowl. 

July 2, 2014

The Best Granola I Didn't Make

My friend Angie makes the best granola and sells it at our local farmer's market and co-op. It's extremely tasty and full of clean, simple ingredients like dried fruit, lots of nuts, coconut, oats and maple syrup. In addition to being a granola entrepreneur, Angie is the mother of four busy kids, a runner, former peace corps volunteer and has an upbeat (but not in an annoying way) personality. I think she's written a few children's books too—I can't keep up.

She asked me to photograph her delicious product and I'm happy to do it provided I can keep my family from tearing into the bags long enough for me to take the pictures. They've agreed to keep away but have laid claim to their favorite variety so when the last photo is taken, they'll be digging in—usually with hands straight in the bag. No need for milk, yogurt or spoon. It's so good.

Buy it at the Linden Hills Farmers Market on Sundays from 9-1, the Linden Hills Co-Op or her website

June 20, 2014

Crustless Fruit Tart with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Crustless Fruit Tart with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Sometimes, a girl just doesn't want to turn the oven on so you have to do without. Crust. You have to do without crust and suffer through vanilla flecked custard, fresh berries, creamy bananas and dark, dark chocolate sauce that lies on the plate without pedestal, without solid ground save the inedible plate. It's hard. I know. But it's hot and humid here and a BTU spewing oven won't improve the situation.

Vaguely flag-like in it's colors, with a smatter of green mint to echo the season. It's kind of fancy and really simple. The sauce is like Hershey's in the can only better (you knew I was going to say that). Nice served cold—almost tastes like a banana split. 

June 16, 2014

Speedy Silky Scrambled Eggs with Chimichurri

Scrambled Eggs with Chimichurri

I'm going to cut to the chase because I'm kind of excited about this dish and what I learned about making scrambled eggs.

You DON'T have to cook eggs low and slow to get a great rich texture. They can come together faster than it takes to make a piece of toast.

You DON'T have to pre-whisk eggs before you add them to the hot pan. One less dish to wash. You also don't have to fold them. You can whisk the bejesus out of them and get tiny tender curds that are fabulous in the way that tiny things can be.

You DON'T have to stick with salt and pepper and grated cheese for add-ins. Yawn. Throw in chimichurri sauce, pesto, harissa or romesco and eat fancy flavor-packed eggs for dinner.

All of this goes against decades of reluctant scrambled egg cooking and consumption on my part. No wonder I didn't like them much. This method cooks them in about 45 seconds and produces a plate of eggs that are rich and smooth like a risotto or polenta. Great on toast.

June 9, 2014

Grilled Zucchini Crostini with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Grilled Zucchini Crostini with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Cue the Police, Synchronicity, The Clash, Rock the Casbah or perhaps Yes, Owner of a Lonely Heart. Open up a bottle of white zinfandel (maybe rosé since we're all grown up now), whip up this crostini and feel the 80's love.

Nothing yodels the cuisine of that decade like sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and fresh basil—the calling cards of cutting edge yuppie restaurants back then. I don't think I've eaten this combination since pasta took over America, the somewhat overlooked Generation X (nice to meet you) became adults and Millennials were born, told they were important and driven around in Volvos with bouncing yellow "Baby on Board" signs in the rear window.

June 2, 2014

Crispy Potato Salad with Scallion Oil and Cambozola

Crispy Potato Salad with Scallion Oil and Cambozola

Here we go. End of another school year and how sweet it was. My girls are growing and learning and struggling just the right amount (I hope).

May 30, 2014

Spicy White Bean Dip (AKA Kickass Dip)

I'm digging the governor of Minnesota. He gets things done. Scion of a local wealthy family, hockey player, Yale educated, once married to a Rockefeller, had and lost a previous public office, stint at farming, recovering alcoholic. He's funny looking, completely lacking in charm and doesn't care about whether or not he's "likeable". He speaks straight, is whip smart, sticks to his positions, isn't afraid of anyone, isn't a bully, is proud of his sons and mourns his dogs who passed a few years ago. I love this guy. I don't know how the hell he ever got elected but I'm glad he did.

I was reading about him in the newspaper as I tucked into this INCREDIBLE curry/spicy dip I made off the Lady & Pups blog. The article talks about how he's insisting the state get rid of stupid laws like the one requiring the agriculture commissioner to personally hunt down any wild boars running loose in Minneapolis. That would be this guy:

May 27, 2014

Strawberry Banana Bread with Brown Butter

Strawberry Banana Bread with Brown Butter

Quick breads are not quick to make unless you count prep time plus at least an hour in the oven quick. To me, quick is 15 minutes and I always seek out the speedy route—express checkout lines, express yoga classes, express shipping, express pass at an amusement park (worth every penny). I wish there were express hair services—an hour sitting in a chair getting my hair cut is barely tolerable and two and a half hours purgatory for color makes me crazy. Next time I'm going to ask if I can run an errand while I "process". People may stare at my crazy head of foil but I don't mind. At least I'd be getting something done.

So why are they called quick breads? Only because they don't contain yeast so you don't have to wait for them to rise. For bread, they're quick. Bread quick, not quick quick.

This one has strawberries and bananas—a classic if perhaps overdone combination and brown butter, which makes everything better. I like to brown my butter dangerously close to burnt—as brown as possible for maximum flavor. So good in this bread, as well as drizzled over fish and chicken...but I guess that's just butter in general. Having a new technique gives me a reason to lavish it on everything. I made extra to chill and spread on the finished bread.

May 20, 2014

Thai Meatball Bowl

Thai Meatball Bowl

You know how people keep the same hairstyle for 30 years? I wonder if it's really true that you have one style that suits your particular face, head shape and hair texture and only one? Or is it that you have a certain style that you associate with your most attractive, confident and/or carefree self and while the rest of you gets a little melty with age you can still control your tresses and have the same hair you had when you were firing on all cylinders, which is a comfort. Or maybe that's a cliche and you're firing on more cylinders now that you're older, wiser and calmer and that hairstyle is a friendly ornament of more foolish days that you're grateful for because without them you wouldn't have the perspective and empathy you possess now.

Recipes are like that—the ones we make over and over because they work, make us and the people we love happy and possibly harken back to good times. Pistachio lamb meatballs were one of the first blog recipes I posted that my family was enthusiastic about so I make them frequently, but today I decided to try this Thai version I came across on the Epicurious site.  You can make a sandwich with them—like a bánh mì, or throw them in a bowl with coconut rice, crunchy raw vegetables and cool cilantro yogurt.

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