Monday, November 29, 2010

the times, they are a changin'

Two months ago today, I received a call asking if I could interview for a job in a city 500 miles away. Even though everything fell into place - my boyfriend received a job offer in the same city just before I received my job offer, we had a temporary place to stay, we found an apartment, we found someone to rent the condo in Cambridge - life has been pretty hectic. My last day at my previous job was one month ago, and we left for Washington, DC shortly thereafter.

I'm very excited about my new job. It's a big change from my previous life as a medicinal chemist, which is exactly what I was looking for. My days in a chemistry lab are over, and now my kitchen lab is my only lab.

So I'm adjusting to a new city, but more importantly, I'm adjusting to a smaller apartment with a smaller kitchen, which is equipped with an electric range *sigh*. We are very lucky to live near a great Whole Foods (with a fabulous beer selection!) but I'm looking for other places to restock my kitchen. I was very lucky to have lived within walking distance of Formaggio Kitchen, and Savenor's wasn't much further away. Yes, there is Cowgirl Creamery here, but their cheese selection is not as extensive as Formaggio Kitchen's. I think I owe Balducci's another visit, and of course I need to explore my own neighborhood a bit more. I know Chinatown no longer exists as I knew it, and it seems that many other ethnic groceries are a bit further afield as well. So if any DC area (DMV?) residents are reading this, I would love to hear your recommendations for any food-related stores I should visit!

In the meantime, here are a few things that I've been up to in the kitchen:

  • framboise cranberry sauce - I used Dogfish Head Fort. Dogfish is one of my favorite breweries, and now that Delaware is a short drive away I see a visit in my future! There's no way I could drink a bottle of Fort myself - it's 18% ABV! - but there was some beer left for me to enjoy while I cooked the sauce.

  • Upside-Down Cranberry Cake - I used twice the cranberries and spread it out over two cake pans. I like a heavier fruit-to-cake ratio so this worked out much better for me than the original.

  • Chickpea and spinach stew - In our packing and unpacking, I discovered two issues of Food and Wine magazine from 2005 which I had saved for their great articles about Spain. I combined two recipes, chickpea and spinach stew and one with chorizo. I used a chicken chorizo, and I used hot paprika instead of sweet, which didn't make it through the move. It was easy, delicious, and hearty, and if you substitute canned diced tomatoes for a fresh tomato, the recipe features ingredients which I always keep on hand.

  • I made my first batch of beer! We brewed it in Cambridge and bottled it up just in time for the move! I'll definitely have a separate post about it, especially since we'll be doing another batch shortly, I suspect.

  • Spent grain pancakes, made shortly after the beer was brewed. The recipe needs work but I will give it another go. As you can see from the photo, I should have ground the grains a bit more. I'm hoping that the new, larger food processor I invested in will aid in this. I anticipate baking some bread using the spent grain as well.

And of course, I cooked a lot of my old favorites. If there's anything that will make you feel better about a life change, it's comfort food.

Monday, October 11, 2010

apple and parsnip soup

Originally uploaded by stephykay
With the apples, cider, and parsnips in this recipe, this is the perfect fall farmer's market soup. Over the weekend I made apple-parsnip soup from Cooking Light magazine's October 2010 issue (which is full of great fall recipes, in case you're looking for some inspiration!) I used parsnips from my Parker Farm CSA, and a couple of Gala apples that were a bit past their prime. I love any excuse to use my immersion blender! I love the spices used in this soup and the soup had a great texture to it. Again, another hearty fall soup that can be converted to a vegan version if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. (I omitted the creme fraiche garnish.)

By the way, here's a great diagram of which apples are suitable for cooking, baking, and eating. It's very handy and I downloaded it to my iPhone so that I can refer to it while I am at the store.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

We made baked shrimp with feta from Cooking Light (April 2009) for dinner tonight. We made the suggested orzo accompaniment as well. Just before the orzo was finished cooking, we threw in some spinach, and tossed the orzo and spinach with the herbs, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Although the recipe suggested the orzo as a side, we threw it into the baking dish with the shrimp mixture. It turned out great - I will definitely make this again!

Monday, August 9, 2010

chocolate beet cake

Every week I have received a bunch of beets through my CSA. I do like beets in their typical preparation - I am especially fond of beets and goat cheese on salads - and I was quite pleased with the beet and carrot latkes I made earlier this summer. But I can't always make the time to cook them, so I have been boiling them, pureeing them, and freezing them for future use. This is well suited for chocolate beet cake. I had my reservations at first, but yes, I would gladly make this again (as a matter of fact, this was the second time I made it). The recipe calls for 2-3 oz of chocolate - but who's going to use 2 oz chocolate when you can use 3 oz? And it just so happens that Taza Chocolate bars come in a 3 oz size. I used the 70% dark chocolate bar since that's what I like to eat on its own.

It would be delicious as a layer cake with a cherry filling, or even a cherry glaze on top... or perhaps chocolate ganache. But it's delicious on its own - it's very moist with a nice hint of chocolate, and you don't really notice the beets.

I also made a vegan cupcake of sorts - red velvet pupcakes. It was my first attempt at vegan baking and my first attempt at cooking for Hobie, the three month old Australian Cattle Dog that joined our household last month. She can be a picky eater, but I know she has enjoyed other treats that include beets, so I gave this a go. I replaced the applesauce with more beet puree (so the cupcakes are quite pink) and rather than using cottage cheese as a frosting, I simply used peanut butter.

Although I'm not canine I tried one of the "pupcakes" myself, sans peanut butter and biscuit, and it's surprisingly good. And my intended audience was quite pleased (although she left the little bone shaped biscuit behind).

Friday, July 30, 2010

honey spice beer cake

Originally uploaded by stephykay
I love spice cake, and I love beer... so I couldn't pass this recipe from The Washington Post up! They adapted it from the book Booze Cakes. I used the beer they recommend, Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss beer, which someone had recommended to me as a nice summer beer. Of course after the cake is baked you can't taste the beer, but it made the cake nice and moist. Although most people prefer spice cakes during the winter, I think this one was "light" enough to be used year round.

For the frosting I used Formaggio Kitchen's Hefeweizen, which is made for them by Cisco Brewers (pictured behind the cake). I screwed up the frosting - my butter was too soft. It's more like a glaze. The flavor is just kind of meh to me, so I think next time I would stick with a traditional white frosting. The walnuts were nice - I might try to bake these in the cake next time (yes, there will be a next time!)

I went ahead and ordered the book, so I'm sure you'll be seeing more spiked baked goods from me!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Moroccan carrot soup

Originally uploaded by stephykay
This soup is much more to my liking than the corn soup, not only in terms of consistency and texture, but spice. It's the Moroccan Carrot Soup recipe from Bon Appetit, April 2010. I used carrots and onions from my CSA delivery. I've made ginger carrot soups before, but this recipe caught my eye because I love cumin. I simply used ground cumin instead of toasting my own cumin seeds - I am sure that the toasted cumin seeds would add another dimension to the soup, but for a quick and easy after-work dinner, ground cumin works just fine. The soup is low fat but it tastes very rich - once again the immersion blender works its magic!

It would be easy to make this vegan - simply replace the chicken broth with a vegetable based broth, and skip the yogurt on top, which isn't essential to the dish.

Monday, July 26, 2010

corn soup

Originally uploaded by stephykay
Food52 is a crowd-sourced cookbook of sorts. They announce themes and invite people to submit recipes. Although I have perused their website many times, I had yet to try any of their recipes. Corn season is upon us, and I am always looking for new uses for my CSA produce, so I decided to give cold corn soup with basil chili oil a go.

Although this is one of those recipes where I whipped out my immersion blender (love it!) the soup never reached the creamy consistency that I was hoping for. Next time I would probably add a potato or two to help it along. The basil oil was delicious and really made the dish, since the soup on its own was not memorable. It's hard to place blame on the recipe, though, as the corn may not have been at its peak.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

beet and carrot latkes

I received a small bunch of beets in my CSA on June 10th. I hadn't paid attention to the farm's website update, so I didn't realize what type of beets they were until I sliced them open. I was pleasantly surprised!

Shredded, they look like confetti:

These lovely candy striped beets were so deliciously sweet - after shredding them it occurred to me that they would have been great in a slaw of some sort. But I had already come across this recipe for beet and carrot latkes, so I stuck with the recipe.

With the carrots:

And the final product!

This recipe is definitely a keeper for me. I will have to give it a try with different types of beets.

Asian kohlrabi slaw

Originally uploaded by stephykay
I received several kohlrabi in my CSA, as well as a big bunch of cilantro. It just so happened that The Washington Post featured a recipe for Asian kohlrabi slaw that very same week. I simply used cilantro instead of parsley. And of course I used sriracha, which was listed as optional in the recipe. The heat provided a nice contrast to the crunchy cool kohlrabi.

You can read more about kohlrabi in the accompanying article.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

banana coconut macadamia nut muffins

Originally uploaded by stephykay
When I have overly ripe bananas I usually make banana bread... but I decided to try this banana coconut muffin recipe from epicurious. I added 1/4 c crushed macadamia nuts and I subbed rum for the vanilla. They were quite tasty and I will make them again, but they are no replacement for an actual tropical vacation.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Last night was my first CSA pickup of the season. I already knew that this summer's CSA would be very different from last year. Not only was I doing my own pickup, but Steve has been extremely diligent about keeping everyone up to date on the Parker Farm's website and on the Parker Farm Facebook page. It definitely has more of a community feel to it than the CSA that I participated in last year. On pickup days, he sends a reminder e-mail and lets us know what we can expect that week.

So I already had a lot of positive feelings about Steve and Parker Farm, and I am happy to say that he did not disappoint. Not only did the CSA get an early start this year (many do not start until later in June), but the first share was quite a windfall:
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch chicory
  • 1 head pak choi
  • 1 bunch mizuna
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 1 bunch pea tendrils
  • 1 bunch red Russian kale
And that was a small share - the large share had two of everything. And the greens looked great! Vibrant colors and not a single wilted leaf. I can't wait to try the mizuna - even though I see it at all of the farmer's markets, I have yet to sample some.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Last night on Top Chef Masters, one of the contestants made a chermoula sauce. I happened to run across a recipe for
haddock in chermoula sauce... I didn't have enough parsley but I made up for it with extra cilantro. It's worth revisiting for a future CSF delivery.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


No pictures tonight, but today's CSF haddock fillets were used in this recipe for balsamic-glazed fish fillets and they were SO GOOD.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Originally uploaded by stephykay
Sauteed ramps, caramelized onions, and fresh ricotta over spinach gnocchi. Perfect springtime dinner!

lamb meatballs

Originally uploaded by stephykay
Lamb meatballs seasoned with oregano and thyme, over whole wheat penne pasta with cherry tomatoes and (a very generous helping of) feta cheese. The meatballs were a bit too lamb-y; next time I would use 1/2 ground lamb and 1/2 ground beef.


The last two months have been pretty hectic. I did take a few food pictures here and there, and I'll post a few of the more memorable experiments. I've been doing a bit more traveling, and since I often plan trips around eating and drinking, it just makes sense for me to include snippets of those excursions here.

I visited my family down in the Washington, DC area in April. I had my first Five Guys burger when we saw the LA Dodgers play the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. I'm not convinced that they are better than In N Out, but I look forward to having a side-by-side comparison. Note: I had the single patty at Five Guys and I only eat the single patty at In N Out, so yes, I am trying to minimize the variables in this experiment.

While I was in DC I also had sushi at one of my family's favorite restaurants, beer at Dogfish Alehouse (no, it's not the brewery, but the beer is less than two hours away from the beach), a cocktail tasting/pairing at the Columbia Room, and yet more sushi.

Finally, the fish tacos at Gordon Biersch are surprisingly good. Obviously not the same as a taco truck taco, and not a Baja Fresh fish taco, and an entirely different creature from a La Verdad fish taco, but a good chain restaurant choice (and of course there's the good chain brewpub beer). And Gordon Biersch is everywhere... except in New England, of course.

fresh chickpeas

Originally uploaded by stephykay
I love chickpeas, so when I saw them at the store I had to give them a try. I steamed them and ate them as I would edamame.

open faced egg, ricotta, and arugula sandwich

Originally uploaded by stephykay
The recipe was in the May 2010 issue of Cooking Light magazine. I always love a good egg sandwich and this was a nice variation of my usual egg, gruyere, and baby spinach. I used fresh ricotta from Formaggio Kitchen, which has become a staple in my home... it's much creamier than any of the other fresh ricottas I have found, and it's very versatile.

upside down pear cake

Originally uploaded by stephykay
An old favorite. Click on through to flickr for the recipe and NYTimes story.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Originally uploaded by stephykay
This was a few days ago... chili chicken and basil from Women's Health Magazine, stir-fried sesame asparagus, and quinoa. I would definitely make this again, and it was fast!

Monday, February 22, 2010

chocolate stout cupcakes

I gave the chocolate stout cake recipe from Bon Appetit another go. I made cupcakes instead of a layer cake, and instead of chocolate ganache frosting I made a cream cheese and kahlua frosting.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Taiwan - Din Tai Fung

While we were in Taiwan, my family went to Din Tai Fung for xiao long bao (steam dumplings).

This friendly little dumpling head guy welcomes you to the restaurant.

You can see the dumplings being made at the front of the restaurant. It's a seamless, high-throughput operation. Henry Ford would be proud.

Alongside the tray of soy sauce and vinegar are instructions on how to consume your dumplings (after preparing your dipping sauce in the correct ratio). Nice that they provide soup spoons at the table.

Spicy pickled cucumbers, artfully arranged.

Finally, the main event: xiao long bao. We ordered both the traditional pork dumplings as well as the pork and crabmeat dumplings. I like how they used a cloth to line the steamer basket, instead of cabbage leaves. Since the dumplings didn't stick to the cloth they made it into our soup spoons intact, for maximum soupy goodness. YUM.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


For dinner last night, we made Mark Bittman's pasta with gorgonzola, arugula, and cherry tomatoes. The recipe was really more of a starting off point, though, since I deviated right from the get-go by sauteeing some sweet onions. We used Barilla whole grain penne in place of the farfalle, and grape tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes. I didn't take any pictures of the meal itself, but this is the cheese that we used - Neal's Yard Dairy Colston Bassett Stilton.

After reading some of the comments on the blog entry, I was a little worried. My concerns were unfounded. The blue cheese mellowed out significantly during cooking, but the arugula maintained its peppery bite. Although the grape tomatoes weren't all that sweet on their own, they complemented the dish nicely.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


My first haggis was of the canned variety. It was good, but it didn't feel authentic. Let's compare:

My first haggis looked like this prior to cooking.

My second haggis looked like this prior to cooking.

A bit different, yes? But both the canned variety and the traditional variety are basically a lamb sausage. You guys are smart enough to go to Wikipedia and look it up yourselves, but in case you're lazy, here's the Wikipedia entry on haggis. My first haggis was baked in ramekins in the oven. The preparation of the second was a bit different. We cooked it in its casing rather than cooking its contents separately. After simmering in water for 45 minutes, the haggis looked like a balloon... if balloons were filled with meat.

After removing the haggis from its casing, this is what it looked like. It's very dense, much more dense than the canned haggis, and much less salty. The lamb:oat ratio was quite a bit higher.

The traditional side dish is mashed turnips and potatoes, but we roasted our neeps and tatties instead of mashing them.

The verdict? I preferred the consistency of the Savenor's haggis, but it was underspiced. If - no, WHEN - I make haggis I will add more salt and pepper, as well as rosemary and garlic.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Saturday night was a busy night in the kitchen...

We started with arugula salad with caramelized onions and fontina cheese. The arugula was lightly dressed with Ken's Sweet Vidalia Onion dressing.

There are so many recipes for cider glazed root vegetables - this has become my go-to for cooking vegetables when I don't have anything else in mind. We had cider glazed carrots with ginger and cider glazed brussels sprouts with apples (which I
tested out in November).

And the main event: chicken florentine from America's Test Kitchen's Light and Healthy 2010. Pan seared chicken and spinach in a creamy lemon sauce. We agreed that the lemon sauce would have been perfect for chicken piccata. It was quite tangy and deceptively rich (the recipe calls for very little cream - this is "light and healthy" after all!)

lemon curd

No, I haven't posted in a while. I had grand plans to write a big entry about my trip to Taiwan. But as you can see that didn't happen.

In the meantime, here's a bright spot on a dreary day... sunshiny lemon curd.

Thickening up...

And the final product!