Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year's end

The holidays included lots of cooking and baking. Here are a few highlights.

Pom koek, Belgian honey cake: four little loaves. No doubt I've posted this before, but these coffee cakes are so good they deserve another spotlight.

Scalloped potatoes and, in the background, roasted Brussels sprouts. Christmas dinner, along with beef tenderloin.

... and these rather impressive popovers:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

I meant to say

Cupcakes are not my strength; I know that. But bread I'm good at. Sometimes, people ask for bread-baking advice.

Here it is:

1. always always always proof the yeast and make sure the water is the right temp (105-110), and if the recipe calls for honey or sugar or molasses, add it now
2. use a dough-rising bucket (nice & steamy)
3. let the dough rise in a warm place (I cover the bucket with dish towels and set it near a heating vent in the winter)
4. use temp as a guide to when the bread is done (recipes vary but usually around 190)

I use a stand mixer for about half of whatever kneading is required. The results are generally good, if I do say so myself.

Rain, not snow

A winter day but not an interesting one. Sigh.

Here are two recent efforts: first, macaroni and cheese (shown alongside sautéed kale with dates). I used sharp cheddar, gruyere, and buttermilk blue cheese, which made for a rich and delicious result (recipe courtesy of my friend Lisa), and then another loaf of the oatmeal bread, this time made with molasses (and not my usual honey).

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A wintry mix

—so said the forecast. Thus, soup. Spicy tomato and blue cheese. Recipe from Michael Symon's cookbook. Alongside: turkey meatballs. And one of my favorite cabs, St. Supery.

Note the new soup bowl, which was one purchase from the WVU pottery sale, my favorite WVU event.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Much colder

Yesterday and today. Theo and I have had some very brisk walks.

On one of them, yesterday morning, early, we saw this heron (I think it's a heron) on a rooftop. Unusual. Herons mean all sorts of things, of course. But I've decided to go with a general affirmation, as I do with deer: you're fine.

I've done some baking every day recently, but this Easy Little Bread is the most interesting and truly was easy, coming together quickly with just one brief rise.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A busy Sunday

So many things to make. I keep lists. Today's main project was this bread: parmesan peppercorn. Not a no-knead recipe but the baking method (a Dutch oven) and the result look like that kind of bread.

The dough was downright silky. Truly lovely to work with.

It had three rises. This is after number 2. I think. 

Here's the parmigiano-reggiano, all ready to go:

And heres's the bread just out of the oven:

I also made fried sage. Wow: really delicious. And super fast.

And for dinner, a very nice salad, adapted from this recipe. Arugula, wild rice, toasted pecans, feta, pomegranate arils.

And here, with salmon.

Also today I set up my new sewing machine. A Baby Lock. All the machines in this series, The A-Line, have girls' names. This one is Rachel.

In the foreground is the imperfect but perfectly functional apron I made with the machine I borrowed from my friend Laura.

Lastly, the weather. Rainy. Some interesting skies. Wind on the way, they say. I'd like that.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pomegranates really are pretty special

A very persuasive salad of spinach; roasted acorn squash; sautéed zucchini, mushrooms, and asparagus; toasted hazelnuts; feta; and, the star, pomegranate arils. Those little things have a lot of power.

Two photos, neither of which does justice to this terrific salad, which I served with beef tenderloin.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Soup for a Thursday

I was inspired by my sweet friend Kelly to make soup. She's always making soup, it seems.

This is Swiss chard and white bean soup. Pretty, delicious, and healthy. And a simple recipe.

In a supporting role: feta-dill biscuits. Frozen and then reheated. Just fine. 

A really lovely little dinner. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

For a birthday

Cupcakes aren't exactly my speciality. Too cute. Or potentially too cute. I prefer baking bread.

Anyway, these cupcakes are cute-ish. Best I could do. Chocolate-espresso with espresso icing. With a chocolate-covered coffee bean on top. That's my nod to cute.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November, right on schedule

It's November and feels like it. That's not always the case, so it's nice when it is. Sure, unseasonable warmth can be pleasant, but I also appreciate weather that makes sense.

Here's a good November bread: cheddar-cranberry soda bread. KAF recipe.

A few notes: I left out the walnuts; this loaf only baked for 60 minutes, not the 65-75 the recipe recommends; I tented not at the end but from about 15 minutes into the cooking time as it was browning quickly.

And as for buttermilk: I'm a believer, and I admit to adding a teensy bit more than called for. My feeling is: with buttermilk, you can't go wrong.

Oh, and yes, it's very good. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013


This weekend's cooking has been pleasingly seasonal.

Here's cranberry-walnut bread, which I made for a visit from my friend Gail.

Cranberries always seem so pretty and cheerful, don't they?

And here's an arugula-spinach salad with prosciutto, roasted butternut squash, walnuts, goat cheese, and a sherry vinaigrette.

And thanks to a generous gift of dill from my friend Tim, here are some feta-dill biscuits. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

More Autumn

It's chilly, suddenly. Here's some food to go with the season.

First, macaroni and cheese. The recipe comes from Leite's Culinaria.

That was Saturday. On Sunday I made these scones. Scottish, the recipe said, because of the oats. Christmas, it said, because, I assume, of the cranberries. At first I wasn't so impressed, but later... I thought they were very good.

Finally, here's one of "my" fawns, looking all grown-up.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October, Sunday, Sewing

It's been unseasonably warm and the leaves seem to have skipped ahead, dropping everywhere with only ok color. Sigh.

And I've skipped ahead too, it seems, baking what I think of as a winter bread: Irish soda bread, one of my favorites. I've posted it here before, probably, but it's especially pretty this time.

For dinner: filet with some mushrooms, lovely baby kale with grilled figs and goat cheese with cranberries, asparagus:

And, sewing. Project #1: placemats. Very satisfying, just like cooking. A tangible result.

Friday, October 4, 2013

So happy it's Friday....

At the insistence of my student and friend Hannah, I'm posting this pic, which she Instagrammed, of a cranberry coffeecake I made. Alas, fresh cranberries are not yet in the store, but dried ones worked out fine. The recipe is from Two Peas and their Pod. Lots of theirs are good.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A very pretty Sunday in September

A good day for a small dinner party for a visiting writer.

To start, tomatillo-avocado salsa. Rick Bayless recipe.

And two kinds of bread, the oatmeal loaf and the beer bread.

I made a green salad (no pic) and grilled lots of vegetables to go with farro. 

And a cranberry cheesecake for dessert. I've made a lot of cheesecakes. This was one of the best, by far.