September 29, 2014

Salt-Roasted Beets





I've wanted to try a salt-crust for awhile, probably because I'm such a salt fiend. I have at least six varieties in my pantry (grey, pink, black, truffle, flaked, kosher, slab) most of which have been gifts from people who know me well. I salt almost everything. I even carry around a little baggie of it in my purse in case I'm caught with a takeout sandwich or salad that needs a little pop. 

With salt-roasting you bury the food (fish, meat, vegetables) in a sandy mixture of salt, egg whites and herbs. It creates an oven within your oven and cooks the food gently and evenly. When it hardens and browns you crack open the crust to reveal a tenderly cooked thing. 

September 25, 2014

Maple Glazed Maple Banana Bread or How Many Times Can I Use the Word "Maple" in One Post?



Maple Glazed Maple Banana Bread


Nineteen, as it turns out. My thesaurus provides no other option.

My favorites pancakes are at The Egg & I, a breakfast place in Minneapolis. I used to go there in my post-college hangover days, then my post-long-run training-for-marathon days, then my post-childbirth up-all-night-jiggling-a-baby-to-sleep days. Now I just go with the kids when I'm hungry for a big breakfast and too lazy to cook. Their multi-grain "kamikaze" cakes are huge and tender and topped with berries, bananas, nuts and lots of butter and maple syrup. I also love their veggie omelet but today I was thinking about those pancakes when I made this bread (I would've included berries but fresh berries never stick around for long in our fridge).

I used maple sugar—a pricey alternative to white or brown that has nice maple flavor and is twice as sweet so you use less—and maple syrup. I also browned the butter. Ever since I made this bread with brown butter I don't want it any other way. It didn't have quite enough maple flavor so I added a sweet glaze on top, with a good dose of salt to liven it up. If you have maple extract, I would substitute it for the vanilla. I couldn't find any at my local grocery so will be ordering some online because I think there's a bunch of maple goodies in my future.



September 22, 2014

Yogurt Dressing (especially for lentils)



I'm happy when I've got a container of cooked lentils in the fridge. Peppery and meaty with lots of protein and fiber—they're great with a salad of greens, leftover roasted vegetables, slivered onions and walnuts for a hearty, healthy, quick lunch. But this isn't a recipe for lentils—I just cook them according to the tiny words printed on the bag and you can too. This is a recipe for the simple sauce that is my favorite way to dress lentils—warm or cold. The salty, garlicky yogurt is rich and creamy and provides a zesty counterpoint to the earthly legumes. Happy lentil lunching!

September 11, 2014

Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue Cheese Dressing

I just don't like store-bought salad dressings. They always contain some "weird" flavor that I can't put my finger on even when I search the ingredient list. Sugar? Maybe. Xanthan Gum? Does that have a flavor? But I still occasionally buy a bottle because they're quick. My last purchase was a jar of blue cheese dressing from the refrigerator case that set me back almost $5. I spooned it over a buffalo chicken salad and, yep, was let down. Again, that indefinable flavor.

Serendipitously, a few nights ago my husband came home with a huge, HUGE wedge of Gorgonzola from our local Italian deli (he gets a little panicky when he's procuring food and tends to blurt out things like - "I'll take a pound!" in this case of really good, $20 a pound cheese). So it's a fine time to make a batch of luscious blue cheese dressing. This is creamy and rich and the blue cheese is prominent but not overpowering. I like the flavor of fresh herbs and added chopped parsley—basil would be nice too or you could skip it. Measurements are approximate. Add a little more or less to taste and for the thickness you like.

September 5, 2014

Brown Butter Brownies


Brown Butter Brownies


I'm such an culinary jerk sometimes. Last weekend our good friends came over for dinner with their two young kids, ages 5 and 7. They live in a distant suburb and we don't get to see them as often as we like so I was really excited. They were bringing some wine from a vineyard we visited on a fun trip to Napa a few years ago and I was in charge of the food. 

September 1, 2014

Corn Soup with Tofu Larb



Corn Soup with Tofu Larb

Did you know they grow sweet corn in Thailand? Me neither, but I googled it after I tested this recipe for Food52's "best warm weather soup" contest and they do.

Kind of fun to discover that our Midwestern summer staple, corn, is a natural and delicious partner to Thai flavors. This soup delivers big corn taste in a broth that's spiked with ginger and cilantro and finished with a pile of crispy Thai-sauced tofu, a riff on larb, which is a southeast Asian staple of minced meat flavored with fish sauce, chili's and herbs.

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