A cerealist oatmeal.

oatmeal1I confess that I am a serial cerealist.  I’ve been eating the same boxed cereal for years (and years and years).  There have been periods in my life, when my cooking skills were underdeveloped and my interest in food in its infancy, where I would sometimes eat said cereal for two meals a day (hey undergrad).  If asked, I’ve ever been able to say what my favorite food is, but I don’t think there is any other food that I could eat day after day without the slightest fatigue.  I’ve even gotten others addicted.

But I’ve had guilt over the whole thing as well.  I like making my food from scratch most of the time, and I try to avoid giving lots of money to big corporations that I don’t really care for. And the stuff is so darn expensive.  I don’t want to think about all the money I’ve spent on cereal over the past 10 years.

A couple of years ago I tried switching to oatmeal for breakfast but found that it left me in moderate GI discomfort by the afternoon.  I recently revisited oatmeal, however, and found a method that solves both my cereal dependence and my oatmeal sub-tolerance.  I believe, though it’s just an educated conjecture, that by soaking the oats in a milky yogurt bath overnight, the cultures in the yogurt break down some of the fermentable fibers in the oats and make it easier to digest.  The dates dissolve into the oatmeal and sweeten it almost like brown sugar, while the raisins give a pop of fruity sweetness, and the pecans provide a nutty crunch for some texture variety.  I’ve been taking a jar to work with me in the mornings for my 9 am second breakfast, and it keeps me full until lunch.   It’s delicious, quick, and well tolerated.

oatmeal2


Overnight Oatmeal with Dates, Raisins, & Pecans

serves 2-3

  • 1 c rolled old-fashioned oats
  • 2/3 c plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • 1/3 c milk, plus more to your taste
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted, chopped small
  • 1.5 tbs raisins
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • salt
  • 1/2 c pecan halves

The night before you plan to eat your oatmeal:  In a medium bowl add the oats, yogurt, milk, dates, raisins, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.  Mix well.  Transfer to a pint jar or other lidded container and refrigerate overnight.

The morning of:  Place the pecans in a dry skillet and toast over medium heat until the nuts are fragrant and have darkened in color.  Remove from the pan, let cool, and then roughly chop.

This oatmeal can be eaten cold or warm.  If you prefer it warm, heat the oatmeal gently through in a small saucepan or in the microwave.  Add more milk or water if you like your oatmeal thinner like I do.  Divide between two bowls and top with the toasted pecans.   You won’t miss the boxed cereal.


Emily

A sweet, twisted bun.

CinnamonbunNorway
Coffee and skillingsboller at Java in Oslo

 

This past summer I spent two weeks traveling in Norway.  I explored beautiful cities and countryside, gaped at the most stunning fjords, drank cups and cups of the Scandinavian style light-roast coffee, and devoured lots of the cardamom and cinnamon scented Norwegian pastries.  (This was my first trip to Europe, don’t hold my immodesty against me.)

Skillingsboller or kanelsnurrer in Norwegian, depending on your dialect I guess, these twisted, palmandahalf-sized buns were in every coffee shop and bakery we visited.  I couldn’t get over how beautiful they were.

Cinnamonbun2Then for Christmas, I received a Norwegian baking magazine that included a version of those cinnamon buns.  The recipe needed a little tweaking – they left yeast out of the ingredients! – and a lot of translation, but they turned out perfectly in the end.  This recipe makes enough for a hoard, so halve the recipe if you’re baking for just a few.

Cinnamonbun


 Scandinavian Cinnamon Buns

(adapted from Bake magazine)

makes ~20 buns

Dough

  • 10 g (approx. 1 1/2 packets) active dry yeast
  • 500 g water
  • 1200 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g kosher salt
  • 10 g ground cardamom
  • 200 g butter, softened
  • 100 g egg

Cinnamon filling

  • 100 g marzipan*
  • 100 g sugar
  • 100 g butter, softened
  • 10 g cinnamon

1 egg, beaten and demerara sugar for finishing

*If you cannot find marzipan, I highly suspect that an equal weight of well pulverized aliments or pecans would be an excellent substitution, although I have not verified this.

Mix the yeast and a pinch of sugar with the warm water and set aside for 10 or 15 minutes.  Mix thoroughly the flour, sugar, salt, and cardamom in a large bowl (or the bowl of stand mixer).  Add the softened butter, egg, and water-yeast mixture and mix with a spoon or your hands.  Once the mixture has started to come together, turn out on to the counter and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a towel, and let sit in the fridge for an hour.

While the dough is resting, pulse the filling ingredients in a food processor until well combined and set aside.

After the dough has rested. turn it out onto the counter and roll into a large rectangle (appox. 1.25′ by 2′).  Spread the filling mixture evenly over the dough (you may need to soften it a bit in the microwave first).  Fold the dough in thirds (‘hamburger style’) and then slice width wise into 1.5 inch strips.  Twist the strips around themselves and into knots.  Let the knots rest and rise for about 30 or 45 minutes.

Just before baking, brush the buns with the beaten egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar.  Bake at 425ºF for 12 minutes or until the buns are golden brown and the sugar filling is bubbly.

Let cool for 10 minutes and enjoy with coffee and lots of friends.


-Emily

A nourishing broth.

Sick with a cold all weekend.  Lots of tea, tissues, and naps.  And this broth.

Sickbroth


A Nourishing Broth

makes 2 servings

  • 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and smacked with the flat of your knife
  • 1 large garlic glove, smacked with the flat of your knife and peeled
  • 6-8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced

In a small sauce pan, add the garlic and ginger to the broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the shiitakes and sauté, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are golden brown.

Remove the garlic and ginger from the broth and pour into a mug.  Top with the mushrooms and sliced green onions and feel better.


-Emily

 

A perfect pound cake.

pound cake 1

I’ve had Shirley O. Corriher’s Bakewise sitting on my desk for a few months now, buried under an ever mounting stack of food magazines, nutrition journals, and various other crap that piles up beside my laptop.  But finally, a couple of weekends ago, I had some time to sit down and crack the book open.

Corriher is a biochemist who writes about the chemistry of baking and cooking.  She not only gives you recipes that work, but she explains why they work and why her modifications on the standard recipes work better.

The first recipe she discusses in the book is pound cake.  I’d never really thought much about pound cake; I don’t think most people do.  And to be blunt, it’s not a very exciting cake.  Solid, but not flashy.  When most of the cakes I see out there in cookbooks and food blogs today are stacked layers upon layers with the most decadent fillings and elaborate and whimsical frostings and toppings, pound cake seems a little sad and lonely.

pound cake 2

Never having baked a pound cake before, I wanted to give it a try.  I wanted to understand this most basic of cakes.  I wasn’t prepared for how knockyouoffyourfeet good this cake would be.  I was forced to utilize every ounce of willpower I had to keep myself from eating all of the batter before it even made it to the oven.  Once it was baked, and cooled, this cake was heavenly.  The crumb was dense but not heavy; the flavors clean and pure; and the crust developed golden, slightly crunchy, and almost like a streusel topping (this was the best part of the cake).

The potato starch, the baking stone, the whipped cream, I won’t get into all the details of why this recipe works so well (she does that in her book); just know that it does.  Corriher also gives recipes for an optional glaze and icing for the cake, neither of which are necessary; this cake is phenomenal as is.

Luckily I had dinner with some friends that night, so I had help consuming this cake.  Otherwise I absolutely would have eaten the whole thing by myself in an obscenely short amount of time.


 Shirley’s Even Greater American Pound Cake

from Bakewise by Shirley O. Corriher

  • Butter and flour for greasing your pan or non-stick cooking spray with flour
  • 6 oz unsalted butter cut into 2 tbsp pieces
  • 3.4 oz shortening
  • 21 oz sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2.4 oz canola oil
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 5 large eggs
  • 11.7 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1.6 oz potato starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 c heavy cream

Place a baking stone on your oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven.  Preheat to 350ºF.  Grease a 12 cup bundt pan thoroughly with butter, dust with flour, and shake out the excess (or grease with cooking spray).

Using a hand mixer and a large bowl (or a stand mixer), beat the butter to soften on medium speed.  Add the shortening and beat another 3 minutes or until light and pale in color.  Add the sugar and continue to beat until very light, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice.  If the bowl is not cold, place in the freezer for a few minutes and then continue beating.

While continuing to mix, add in the vanilla and almond extracts.  Beat in the oil slowly until incorporated.  Turn the speed down to the lowest setting and add in the egg yolks and then the whole eggs one at a time.  Do not beat excessively between each egg addition.

In a separate, medium bowl mix the flour, potato starch, baking powder, and salt with a fork for 30 seconds until very well blended.

Alternate adding 1/3 of the flour mixture with the buttermilk, mixing on the lowest speed, until all are incorporated.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl at least once.

Place a bowl, beaters, and heavy cream in the freezer for 5 minutes.  Whip the cream to soft peaks.  Stir 1//3 of the whipped cream into the batter to lighten.  Then gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream using a sweeping motion from the top to bottom of the bowl.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan.  From a height of ~4 inches, drop the pan onto the counter to knock out any bubbles.  Then smooth the batter.

Place the pan on your baking stone in the oven and bake for about 1 hour or until the cake springs back and a tooth pick comes out clean.  Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Loosen the cake from the edges of the pan by jarring it against the counter a couple of times.  Invert the cake on the cooling rack to remove from the pan.  Let the cake cool completely and then devour.  This cake gets even better over the next day or two.


 

pound cake 3

 

Emily

A post-Christmas breakfast.

tahini toast 1

This Christmas was exhausting.  Wonderful and exhausting.  In the few days leading up to Christmas, I spent a lot of time with my mom, aunt, and cousin shopping, cooking, eating grapefruit, and doing puzzles together (on top of working my usual 8 hours a day).  Christmas morning we got up early, made cinnamon rolls and fried pepper bacon, opened stockings, and unwrapped gifts.  My cousin created a really nice Christmas for all of us.

But after dropping my mom off at the airport yesterday, I immediately came home and napped for two hours.  I left a friend’s Christmas dinner party early last night, was asleep by 10 pm, and slept until almost 10 am.  It was wonderful.  Magical.

I woke up feeling I could take on the world.  But instead I made breakfast and enjoyed it in the sunshine pouring through the kitchen windows.tahini toast 2

 


Tahini Toast with Honey

serves 1

  • 1 slice of hearty bread
  • 1 glob of tahini (~1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Honey
  • Honey salt (or plain kosher or sea salt)

Toast your bread well, or to your liking.  Spread with the tahini and drizzle with honey.  Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of salt.  I used honey salt – thanks Santa!  Serve with a cup of warm tea or coffee and enjoy slowly.


 

-Emily

A wonderful gift.

Perhaps the gift I was most excited to give this Christmas was a gift to a complete stranger.  I signed up for the Food52 secret gift swap weeks ago.  Last Monday night, I baked a batch of my favorite ginger cookies, packaged them up with a jar of my homemade roasted tomato jam from this past summer, and tucked in a little woolen fox ornament and shipped it off to Canton, Ohio.  I forgot to take a photo, but here’s one taken by its recipient.

I got home late tonight to find that my secret Food52 package had come in the mail.  Local honey, smoked salt, and organic soap all from Washington DC.  Also a ginger cake, mince pies, and a jar of port and rosemary cranberry sauce reminiscent of my gifter’s many Christmases in the UK.  And to top it off, a copy of a novel about Portland that she bought when she visited.  Even a Christmas card that incorporates a panda bear!  This stranger knows me…

foodswap

This was so much fun!

-Emily

An imperfect pie.

Imperfect pie 1

I’ve had a pie infatuation lately.  I’ve always been very solidly in the pie camp rather than camp cake, but I’ve been baking way more cakes than pies in the last year.  Pies just take so much damn time and skill to get them right.  I’ve had several pie books from the library recently (Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Maida Heatter’s), but I haven’t had the time to actually make any of them.

Two months ago, I took the time to make and freeze a few batches of pie dough.  I didn’t add enough water to them, and I knew it at the time, but I talked myself into believing it would be ok.  So when a pie craving hit last Thursday, I figured it would try to throw a pie together with the apples I had on hand.  I sliced up the apples, added the lemon, sugar, and spices.  When it came time to roll out the dough, however, it became plainly obvious that it just wasn’t going to happen.  The dough crumbled into pieces.  I added some more water, but quickly gave up on the goal of a perfect looking pie.  It was a Thursday after all.Imperfect pie 2

So I piled the apples into my mini pie plate.  The dough I rolled out in small pieces and patched them haphazardly over the top of the apples.  Brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with demerara sugar and baked until the crust was golden and the apples bubbly.  It wasn’t a perfect pie, but it tasted great and was good enough for a Thursday evening at home.


 Imperfect Apple Pie

yields one mini pie (double amounts for a full-size pie)

  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest + 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of allspice
  • 1 McIntosh apple
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • small handful of raisins
  • 1/2 recipe for a single pie crust (you can use any good crust recipe, like this)
  • 1 egg white
  • Demerara sugar

Slice the apples into 1/4 inch slices and cut slices in half.  Mix the apples, sugar, flour, lemon zest and juice, salt, spices, and raisins in a bowl.  Toss well to coat the apples in the lemon juice.  Pile the apples in a small 6″ pie plate (a small cast-iron pan works well).

Tear the dough into chunks and use a rolling pie to roll the chunks to approximately 1/4″ thickness.  Arrange the pieces of dough on the top of the apples so that most of the filling is covered, it’s ok to overlap.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with demerara sugar.  Bake at 450º for about 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 375º and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbly.


 

Imperfect pie 3

-Emily