In Our Times

I couldn’t have conceived of a better culinary project for girls’ weekend than making croissants. I’ve been wanting to try these for years, and now that I’ve made them I’ve learned several important lessons:
1. You need a LOT of counter space
2. You definitely need a ruler
3. If you have a giant dog, crate him up
4. These are literally one of the best things you’ll ever make, but they require both time and patience
5. To follow up on that point– The depiction of Merrill Streep and Steve Martin making these in It’s Complicated is inaccurate, but they WILL make people fall in love with you.

My BFF Sue the sous chef, and her momma, and the great Dane, made these and ate almost every last crumb. There was definitely BLT ingredients involved for them, and pimento cheese, for moi. There was also chocolate in some of these bad boys.

The recipe (with helpful origami-style illustrations) came from the always amazing Cook’s Illustrated.

I will probably never eat a mass-produced croissant again.

There’s Hemingway in the background

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Some old things, some new things, some RECIPES

There’s been a bit of a February lull in my cooking, but some things did happen while I was gone. And, since everyone’s been complaining about this, there are some recipes in this post!

Most notably I made cod croquettes, which are my all time favorite food, but which I’ve never made. After looking through every book and blog and not finding a recipe I really like, I came up with my own recipe, and I highly recommend it (this one fed 5 hungry girls, and I still have half a batch of croquettes frozen in my fridge). This recipe is not difficult, but it takes foresight, so it’s a perfect weekend project if you’re planning a meal of tapas.

Pilar’s Croquettas de Bacalao
Soaked 1 lb. salted cod overnight in cold water. You want to switch the water at least 3 times so that you get all the salt out. In the morning, cook the fish in whole milk, about 20 minutes until it’s soft but not falling apart. Drain and flake by hand (and take off any skin that might be left on the fish. Set aside, and make mashed potatoes– which is to say, boil some potatoes. I used 2 large potatoes, peeled and boiled. I mashed them by hand, added some salt and pepper and butter, and when that cooled, you add in the fish. At this point, you’re good to go, everything is cooked, and this mixture is dangerously delicious on it’s own, so try it and adjust seasoning as needed.
When you’re ready to fry these puppies, shape them into either balls or little sausages, dip in egg and roll in breadcrums (which you can season with some salt and pepper) and fry in veggie oil until golden brown. Careful, these are addictive.

About a week later, I went to my first superbowl party ever. I made onion dip, which I thought was no biggie, until I found out that the recipe called for:

That is 5 lbs. of onion, and one serving of carpal tunnel chopping those up

But they were very pretty 80 minutes later

You might want to half the recipe, because it makes this much dip

Finally, just yesterday, I made cinnamon buns for the first time ever. I don’t really like cinnamon, but who doesn’t love cinnamon buns? These are surprisingly easy, considering that they require you to make yeast dough, and are perfect for a brunch or a weekend breakfast. This recipe came from Nigella Lawson, via Butterflyfood. One thing about these, they photograph BEAUTIFULLY.

Bagwet (and a recipe!)

A boy in front of me at the bread line at the farmers’ market this morning asked the bread lady for a Bagwet (reading the sign very carefully and really wanting to say it right), and it was adorable. The market was crazy good this morning, so much so that I got a few things that I have never used/eaten (rainbow chard, parsnips with their greens (still to be explored)). I also got what is probably the last batch of rhubarb of the season, some good looking peppers, and a bagwet.

Food as still life

So what do you do with swiss chard? I didn’t know either. So I made a recipe up. Yes, I did. I don’t do this very often, and I was pretty worried about what will come of this experiment. But, luckily, the potentially disastrous frittata/crustless quiche came out delicious. Recipe follows at the end of the post!

It all starts with some “Woah! Double Rainbow” chard

and mushrooms

Sautee those babies together

While it was in the oven, I chopped some onions

Which went into the pumpkin-feta scone dough, for which there is also a recipe, though that wasn’t mine (I replaced chives with green onions, and made up my own “mixed spice” with some ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon, but take it easy, this is a savory scone)

When everything was ready we sat outside

And had some pear, goat cheese, and spinach salad

and the frittata (recipe follows, keep scrolling!)

and the scones!

Sample plate 1

Sample plate 2

This meal made 5 girls very happy, but you could easily feed closer to 10 people (well, maybe not 10 men).

Double rainbow frittata
Preheat oven to 375
Sauté 1/2 onion in some olive oil
When onion is soft, add 4 finely chopped garlic cloves
Add the leaves from 6 stalks rainbow chard (just leaves, please)
And two handfuls of chopped mushrooms
Stir in some salt and pepper, and stir until the leaves are wilted, and most of the moisture of the mushroom and chard has evaporates
Let cool

In a bowl mix 3 eggs, a cup of half and half, salt, pepper, and a bit of nutmeg. To that add 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan.

Mix in the veggie mixture into the batter, and throw in a 9″ round pan. Sprinkle some more cheese in top. Bake 35 minutes, let cool a little bit so it can settle, and serve. Nom nom nom.

Anger management

Who needs anger management when you can cook? Better yet, bake. Better yet, make dough: the perfect way to release aggressions. The best part is, you get to eat at the end of it, so it’s a double whammy.

This perfect fall stuffed focaccia came fromNigel Slater, via Let Her Bake Cake (via Kitchenist), and it was really easy to make, and surprisingly good (who knew you could make crazy good focaccia at home?!) Perfect on it’s own, or with a big green salad.

Punching bag

Before

After

All the pretty colors of fall

While the focaccia was baking the baker (and her friend) got hungry and had a snack of goat cheese and spicy tomato salad on a cracker.

Belated Rosh HaShana

This year I celebrated Rosh HaShana twice, once without any food but ample drinks, and a second time, belatedly, with my two favorite goyyim, true lovers of Matzah Ball Soup.

It all started with a trip to the Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market, my new neighborhood market.

For snacking, I made my mom’s Moroccan tomato salad– it has Anaheim peppers, garlic, salt, and some canola oil. It’s super hot, but you can’t stop eating it.

Then making chicken broth (with some aromatics, carrots, onions and chicken)

Eventually some matzah balls went into that, too

By far the most exciting thing that I made were stuffed zucchinis. These are my grandma’s recipe, and are my favorite. In fact, I like them so much, that I have always dreaded making them. But, after I saw those round little zucchinis at the market, I couldn’t resist.
I got some grass-fed beef

Emptied the zucchinis

Stuffed them with a mixture of meat, onion, potato, and parsley, then egged and bredded them and pan fried them

Finally I cooked them in a sauce made of onions and the cores of the zucchinis. They cook a long time on low heat, and despite being slightly labor intensive, are incredibly delicious. Can’t wait to make them many more times in the winter.

For dessert we had a peach cobbler, and that was also a hit.

In fact, it was so good that we got distracted and forgot to photograph it before devouring it

My guests were a bit late, so I also got to take this picture:

Shana Tova and Happy Eid to all who were celebrating this weekend. I hope your year is filled with friends, family, and delicious food.