Monday, November 16, 2009


Saturday night's dinner: crabcakes, rice pilaf, and roasted cauliflower (recipe from Cakebread Cellars). I just now realized that I forgot the lemon zest and lemon juice. Oops.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


This was a pretty easy dinner. I would say it took about 45 minutes for prep and cooking time.

Tis the season for brussels sprouts and apple cider, so I made roasted brussels sprouts and apples from the latest issue of Cooking Light (November 2009). I love recipes like this... it was quick, it scaled up nicely (I used 2 lbs of sprouts, the recipe calls for 1/2 lb), and you can be flexible - I threw some extra apples in. This photo was taken prior to roasting.

For an entree, we had mustard and maple syrup glazed Coho salmon with quinoa (2/3 red, 1/3 white). No, Coho is not in season, so the fish was previously frozen.

For dessert, I made a pumpkin cake from Cooking Light (October 2004) but due to poor planning I didn't frost it. The cake wasn't overly sweet, and it was quite dense. It was served with Haagen Dazs vanilla and ginger ice creams.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I forgot to blog about acorn squash with maple syrup, dried cherries, and dried cranberries.

reinventing the wheel

A couple of today's recipes revisit a couple of my favorite recipes...

WaPo's La Farinata (chickpea pancake) is very similar to Mark Bittman's shrimp tortillitas from Bitten, which is great last minute dish that you can make with frozen shrimp and whatever fresh herbs are lingering in your refrigerator.

Speaking of Mark Bittman, today he shares an upside-down pear cake which is reminiscent of this honey-glazed upside-down pear cake (which I've made for a few of you). I'm especially fond of the accompanying story, which discusses the evolution of a recipe. It was one of the reminders that I should be taking notes when I modify a recipe or procedure; hence the blog.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

CSA conclusions

Since my last CSA delivery two weeks ago, I've had a lot of time to think about whether or not I would sign up for a winter CSA (Boston Organics or Enterprise). In the meantime, I've resumed weekly visits to the Central Square farmer's market, which is open until Thanksgiving.

The best thing about the CSA was convenience. Having a weekly vegetable delivery forced me to eat a lot more vegetables than I would have otherwise. It also forced me to try things that I wouldn't normally pick up at the store - kohlrabi, anyone? That part was fun and gave the whole thing an Iron Chef feel. But I had a lot of trouble keeping up with a half share, so I had to learn how to preserve things. And I have a freezer full of beefsteaks and a cupboard full of jam to prove it! I am embarrassed to admit that there were several times when I had to throw food away.

When I go to the farmer's market, it's an entirely different experience. You pick and choose not only what vegetables you want, but the exact bunch of carrots or head of lettuce that you want. The major downside: it's difficult to plan a visit to the farmer's market during the workday, even if it is right down the street. But every time I went I loved it, even if I was just picking up a bar of Taza Chocolate. The whole experience is so much more interactive and social. You get to talk to the person who actually grew those plants or caught and smoked that fish, and they are more than happy to share recipes with you.

While my financial contributions to Community Supported Agriculture were more significant through the CSA share, the social nature of the farmer's market makes its own contribution to the community. Not only am I making friends, but I know a lot more about where my food is coming from - and that was one of the reasons why I joined a CSA.

I haven't ruled it out yet, but I guess the bottom line is that a weekly CSA delivery isn't for me. My schedule is too unpredictable and I go out far too often to be able to eat all of that food every week. When I do cook, it's usually just for me. And as much as I love to cook, cooking for one isn't as much fun as cooking for someone else.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Originally uploaded by stephykay
Pureed butternut and kabocha squashes, apples, and pears, with maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Presented in roasted acorn squash. All of the squashes and fruit came from the last CSA delivery (which warrants a post of its own, I just haven't gotten around to it).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

chocolate stout cake

When I first saw the recipe for Chocolate Stout Cake in the October 2009 issue of Bon Appetit, I thought... why would I waste good chocolate stout on a cake? Incidentally, I was at a class at Formaggio Kitchen last weekend where they served Brooklyn Brewery's Dark Chocolate Stout. I liked it... but I didn't truly appreciate it until I had the Rogue Chocolate Stout again. The Brooklyn is faaaaar superior. But I didn't finish my beer on Friday night, and the recipe came to mind.

I had quite a bit of leftover beer so I made a double recipe. It may be time for me to get a new mixer, as I reached capacity.

My cake is definitely not as dark as the cake pictured with the recipe.

The cake itself was very moist and flavorful. It wasn't overly sweet and it had just the tiniest hint of stout. As the recipe suggested, I waited until the next day before making the icing. The recipe calls for a chocolate ganache frosting. You really can't go wrong with chocolate ganache, can you?

I stirred the ganache every so often but I let the ganache sit in the refrigerator for too long. I left it out at room temperature for a bit which made it a little easier to spread, but it wouldn't quite stick to the cake. No pretty pictures, just the picture I took of the work cake (all bundled up and ready to go!)

It's not overly chocolately but the ganache does make it quite rich. I think I would opt for a more simple icing next time. (I tried it with my cool whip/nutella concoction and that was pretty tasty.)

I would make this cake again... except that I also realized that chocolate stout tastes just as terrific when it has been sitting out in the open at room temperature overnight. It would be difficult to pick between making cake or enjoying the beer as is!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Once again... CORN. I didn't realize you could so easily find corn on the cob in October. But there it was in the CSA crate again. There was also cabbage, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, a variety of peppers, a butternut squash... and a kumbocha squash. I had seen these at the grocery store, but I would not have dared try one... until attending the Formaggio Kitchen Oktoberfest class on Sunday evening. Julie served a kumbocha squash puree which was delicious. I remember liking the bratwurst they served with it, but I was so taken with the squash puree that the sausage was not my focus.

I still had a head of cabbage from last week, so I made this unstuffed stuffed cabbage recipe from Gourmet tonight and I love it. Reminds me of my mother's cooking! I will definitely make it again.

I'm thinking about signing up for a winter CSA but I haven't decided yet. I'm looking at Boston Organics and Enterprise (delivered by Metro Pedal Power). The delivery would happen on a Wednesday, which complicates things a little. I'm usually home on Mondays and Tuesdays, but later in the week it's a little harder to predict. And as someone said, do I really like kale all that much?

Monday, October 12, 2009

weekend baking

I did a bit of baking yesterday... which went better than my attempt at cassoulet!

I have used this recipe for old-fashioned oatmeal honey apple cake from Cooking Light magazine many times before. Usually I use chunky store-bought applesauce and I use a heavy hand with spices. This time I used a spiced plum and apple sauce that I made earlier in the week, using CSA plums and apples. The cake was too thick, so the glaze didn't penetrate. I should have used a bigger pan.

I also made a loaf of jacked-up banana bread using a recipe I found at Smitten Kitchen. I skipped the bourbon, I used 4 bananas, I opted for more sugar rather than less, and I added more than a pinch of cloves. Finally I threw in 1/2 c walnuts. It was quick and easy - I mashed everything together using a potato masher, saving me the trouble of cleaning up the mixer.

cassoulet... kinda

I got off to a good start, but things meandered off course very quickly.

I used flageolet beans and I remembered to soak them overnight. The beans soaked up a lot of water - they easily expanded to twice their original size.

In the morning I realized that I had forgotten to prepare the duck legs for the duck confit. So rather than curing overnight, the duck legs only cured for about four hours. They still had a good five hours on the stove, though. My home still smells like duck fat!

While I was making the duck confit, I started cooking the beans in the water and beef broth. I added the onions and bouquet garni but I hesitated. The recipe from Gourmet in December 2002 calls for tomato paste to be added to the beans while they are cooking. I had thought that you weren't supposed to add any acid (e.g. tomatoes) before the beans were fully cooked through. So I didn't add the tomato paste until much later... much, much later as it turns out, because the beans were still undercooked after two hours.

While the beans were still cooking (and the duck confit was still... confit-ing) I cooked up some bacon and pancetta, and I added that to the bean mixture. I prefer restaurants that serve duck confit on the top or to the side of the cassoulet, so I used a little duck fat in a skillet to crisp up the duck confit. At the same time, I should have been browning the garlic sausage. But I forgot about the sausage.

And because it was late, I didn't even attempt the bread crumb topping, and I didn't bake it. I was hungry! So in the end, I didn't have cassoulet, I had fancy pork and beans. They tasted good but it was a far cry from Hamersley's! I'll have to give it another try.


When I picked up the CSA crate today I thought it was full of root vegetables. I forgot how heavy corn on the cob can be. I did receive some root vegetables, amongst other things: acorn squash, white radishes, turnips, apples, onions, cubanelle peppers, bell peppers (which are already on the squishy side), a head of cabbage, and three gigantic tomatoes, which went straight into the freezer since I know I don't have time to use them this week.

I'm excited about the turnips, since I haven't actually cooked turnips before. I know I like turnip puree but I don't think I've even eaten turnip greens before. So that'll be an interesting experiment.

And yes, I am still tired of corn on the cob!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Can't wait to try this lemon-almond tart in my Calphalon frittata pan. That same pan will probably be used to make a tortilla espanola using last week's CSA potatoes.

Monday, October 5, 2009


This week I received green leaf lettuce, dandelion greens, grapes (the same delicious little ones from last week), two big beefsteak tomatoes, green peppers, radishes, corn on the cob (yawn), lots and lots of plums, and an acorn squash! I'm excited about the squash. Not so excited about figuring out what to do with the corn. I have been away for almost a week, so I still have things leftover from last week (cabbage, for instance, and apples, which will probably be used in the Shaker walnut apple cake from Cooking Light a couple of years ago).

Last week I made zucchini and summer squash noodles...

Tonight I just made scrambled eggs with peppers and onions.

I'm pretty busy this week, so I don't know when I'll have time to cook. It's a shame, because I'm feeling a little overwhelmed right now, and having some quiet cooking time would probably help relieve my stress!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Cabbage, summer squash, zucchini, corn (not as much as usual but still I have a lot of corn), cubanelles, apples, tomatoes, garlic, bell peppers, potatoes, an eggplant(!), and several clusters of the cutest little grapes. They were so tiny and perfect. The clusters looked just the way you would expect a cluster of grapes to look!
I should have taken a real picture... but I ate all of the grapes already. They were so sweet!

Since I won't be able to cook most of my veggies right away, I'm working on getting them preserved in some fashion. The tomatoes went straight into the freezer, the potatoes and garlic will be fine until I return.

I did make zucchini and summer squash "noodles" for dinner last night (pic to follow).

Monday, September 28, 2009


My plans for the day were cancelled at the last minute, and the weather was dreary, so I was looking forward to a lazy Sunday at home. I happened to run across the November 2008 issue of Food & Wine magazine at the gym. They had a nice article about Rancho Gordo, which reminded me that I had a package of Santa Maria pinquito beans in the cupboard. Since I had the afternoon free to cook, it seemed like the perfect time to try them out.

I soaked the beans for a few hours. According to the Rancho Gordo website, it isn't necessary, but it does speed up the cooking process. They absorbed a lot of water!

I started with Hatch chile butter from Whole Foods for the mirepoix (yes, that means there were carrots in my chili). I used 1/2 sweet onions and 1/2 shallots (leftover from CSA). I added the beans, along with the water that they were soaking in, and I added water until the beans were completely submerged.

While the beans were simmering, I smoked the steak tips. I started with a dry rub which has... a little bit of everything. It's the same dry rub that I used when I made brisket. 1.5 lbs of sirloin tips barely fits into the smoker - I'm glad that I have the larger smoker!

And while the beans were simmering, and the tips were smoking, I made jalapeno cornbread with buttermilk.

After the beans were cooked through, I added spices and tomatoes (a few fresh and one can of peeled whole tomatoes). As the skin peeled off of the fresh tomatoes I removed the skins. When the tips were finished smoking I chopped them up and added that to the mix.

The final product:

It was definitely much better than my usual quick-and-easy chili (ground beef and canned kidney beans). The texture of the beans was great, and the smoky flavor permeated throughout the chili, so it was well worth the time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


On Twitter, Rick Bayless suggested freezing tomatoes for future use in sauces. No cooking or blanching or peeling or anything, just freezing them whole. This sounds bizarre to me, but since I won't be home much this week, I might as well give it a try...

Monday, September 21, 2009


Did I mention that there were peaches in today's CSA delivery? At any rate - I added another jar of peach ginger jam to the cupboard, because the peaches were beyond ripe. The jam is tasty, but I really don't need more jam! I'm going to try using it on chicken or in baking. Maybe it will work as a substitute for applesauce?

CSA Monday

I know this was a rough year for the farmers... but today's CSA was very disappointing. Lettuce, corn on the cob, potatoes, zucchini, cucumber, shallots, grapes, a beefsteak tomato. Except for the grapes, that's all the usual stuff... but there was a lot less of it. If I didn't have so many plans this week, I would definitely need to supplement this week's delivery.

Dinner was smoked salmon with home fries (inspired by the smoked salmon hash at S&S, only less greasy), salad, washed down with Pretty Things Baby Tree (still love it!), followed by sesame candy and this peanut candy that I can't describe. Joe says it's like extra-peanutty halvah.

smoked salmon

Originally uploaded by stephykay
Well, it worked! And now the condo smells like a campsite. But the smoke alarm didn't go off (mine are very sensitive) and it tasted great. I will definitely have to play around with a few recipes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Here are a few things that caught my eye in the Wednesday food and dining sections...

Monday, September 14, 2009

corn soup

Originally uploaded by stephykay
I was thinking spicy corn chowder, but I decided I wanted sweet.

Started with a mirepoix (too many carrots, hence the orange specks), added raw corn kernels (which were of average sweetness), cooked that for a bit before adding milk and chicken stock (2:1 ratio), then finally peeled boiled potatoes. 30 minutes later I used the immersion blender.

1. I need to learn to cut corn off the cob without kernels flying around the kitchen.
2. The Le Creuset was too big for this dish, so it wasn't that deep... so the first time I used the immersion blender, it wasn't, well, immersed enough, so I made a bit of a mess.

Not too bad, but it still needs work. It's not sweet enough! Perhaps Vidalia onions could make up for the average corn? And too much carrot in my mirepoix. The orange specks do match the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale I was drinking while cooking. Yum!


Lettuce, potatoes (getting tired of potatoes), corn on the cob (getting tired of corn on the cob), a green bell pepper, tomatoes, lots of plums, peaches, and some green apples that look a lot like the ones in the yard next door. Now I'm dying to know if the apples lying in the yard are worth saving!

My first thought upon opening the crate: potatoes and corn again?! But I see that I have a couple of jalapenos - spicy corn chowder will make use of all of this.

The plums require a little more thought. I'm accustomed to black and red plums, not... green. They look like beach plums. I can make preserves of some sort, right? I wish I had paid more attention to the lady at Crane Beach who was picking them all.

my greatest hits

I brought baked goods to the Design Hive market yesterday. I picked a few of the recipes that have gone over well with my test subjects (namely, my coworkers). It went well, but - long story short - I won't be doing it again.

I had chocolate chip cookies - you need some kind of safe bet, right? - and lebkuchen, a German spice cookie with almond flour and candied oranges. I provided samples of the lebkuchen. It was gratifying to see the looks on people's faces as they tried them.

I also had an oatmeal honey apple cake. The chunky applesauce in the batter makes it low fat and very moist. The almonds are just on top, so a nut-free version would be easy (although I do like a bit of extra crunch).

I was surprised at the number of people who took a chance on the lemon lavender cupcakes without a sample. They smelled delicious, though, and at the end of the day I had one myself. Usually I can't taste the lavender in lavender foods, so I make mine extra lavender-y.

Overall, it was a really rewarding experience. If I had the chance to do it again, I can already think of a few other recipes (already coworker approved) that I would try.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Design Hive

I'm making jewelry and baked goods for the Design Hive market tomorrow... and I'm feeling a little stressed out! You can see a very limited amount of my jewelry at my etsy store, 2nd Bedroom Studio.

The Design Hive is 10 am to 5 pm, at the Baldwin School at 28 Sacramento Street, Cambridge. That's just a block off of Mass. Ave., right between Harvard and Porter Squares. If you're in the area, please stop by!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Dogfish Head Brewery's Chicha and The New York Times article covering it brought back a lot of memories for me.

Before I went to Peru in 2006, I asked my Peruvian friend for a list of must-try foods and beverages. Of course I expected to see Inca Kola and pisco sour on her list, but I had no idea what chicha was. I was determined to cross off as many items from her list as possible, so I went in search of this corn-based drink.

My friend had said that it was not common in Lima, so I waited until our arrival in Cusco before I asked. I asked the waiter at the Andes Grill Restaurant if they sold chicha. He looked horrified and told me that nice restaurants usually don't serve chicha. I later realized that this was something to be found in more rural areas. My Spanish is very poor, and my Quechua is nonexistent; I was beginning to doubt that I would get the chance to try chicha. So I was very happy when we stopped at a small roadside "bar" - a house which contained a guinea pig farm and a small room for drinking chicha. They even had a drinking game of sorts in the front yard!

I was able to sample a few different types - chicha is a pretty generic term which covers a wide variety of beverages. I remember a pale yellow drink, a pale pink drink, and a purple drink, all cloudy. We sampled them while eating a variety of roasted corn kernels. While I liked all the chichas, I enjoyed them more for the novelty factor than the actual taste.

And reading about the chewing process... well, now I'm not so surprised that our native tour guide was ill the next day!

For more information, see the Wikipedia entry on chicha. Coincidentally(?) today's Washington Post has a story about pisco. I guess it's a day for Peruvian drinks.

fig jam!

My fig jam was the Internet Food Association's Daily Food Porn for September 4th, 2009! Someone left some fig puns in the comments... was it you?

burger bar

Yesterday was burger bar day at work. It's never satisfying - the burgers themselves are tough and flavorless, and the toppings aren't that great. So last night I made my own burger bar for dinner. I made sliders, perfect for Iggy's mini brioche buns. The beauty of a mini burger is that you can try many different combinations.

Pictured: guacamole burger and pesto and mozzarella burger

Monday, September 7, 2009

curious cat

Originally uploaded by stephykay
This is Coco overseeing my review of our CSA delivery. It's a half-share from the Six Farms CSA from southeastern Massachusetts.


Originally uploaded by stephykay
Fresh Fig Upside Down Cake
2/3 black mission figs, 1/3 brown turkey figs

The figs were on the shy side of ripe, but the cake was still quite good. Not overly sweet. The cake itself was light but a bit spicy (in a good way) - I used a heavy hand when it came to the spices. It would have been nice if the cake itself had tasted of figs. Next time I will use less cake batter.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Cambridge doesn't allow it's residents to keep grills on their decks. So I have to go out when I'm craving barbeque. This is no replacement for a grill, but it will alleviate my pain:


For a few weeks, I have been curing a duck breast. I used the recipe from Tom Colicchio's "The Craft of Cooking". Since I couldn't properly hang the duck in the refrigerator, it dangled from a chopstick that rested across a pitcher. It took up a lot of space, and refrigerator real estate is not cheap.

I unwrapped my duck ham yesterday. It barely resembled duck or ham - it looked like duck jerky. And I was too afraid to eat it. Into the trash it went. Such is the nature of experiments!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I made a lazy gazpacho yesterday... it was more like CSA mélange. Tomatoes, onions, a green bell pepper, half a cucumber, a spicy pepper from a past CSA delivery, a little cilantro (not enough unfortunately), a dash of cumin, a dash of chipotle tabasco, a bit of garlic infused evoo, and Peruvian garlic sauce (aji). I just used the hand chopper because I was too lazy to get the immersion blender. Not too hard, not too bad for me, and a good way to make use of the not-so-pretty items from the CSA delivery.