A weekend with my sisters is a jaunt to the basics. Chocolate. Carbs. Sugar.
So when it came to breakfast, I knew I had to sweeten the deal. Lila, the youngest, is the trickier one to appease. She wants a fluffy, tender pancake rather than a crisp-edged waffle. Danny and I love the texture of waffles, so I tried to sway her with chocolate. I didn't mention that it was dark chocolate rather than the milky, more sugary kind she's used to eating....
A sponge cake waits on the kitchen counter. Several candles are lit and the flames flicker in front of kids eager to blow them out. My grandfather starts his song. We shout along.
“Ya queremos pastel. Aunque sea un pedacito, ya queremos pastel."
A dessert lover's rendition of the happy birthday song, "We want cake. Even if it's just a little piece, we want cake now." Everyone from Miami knows this song. Sometimes my abuelito started the song before the cake was even brought to the table. He couldn't wait for a piece. Or two....
The latest issue of Bon Appétit arrived with a timely soup on the cover. Broth-based, somewhat prudent, and very January. Delicious, I bet, but I'm just not ready to switch gears yet. I'm still catching up on all the cozy recipes intended for the holidays. Gratins. Roasts. Comfort foods.
No resolutions here.
Rather than put away these recipes until next year, I want to work my way through the stacks of magazines now. ...
Twelve grapes at midnight. Black-eyed peas. Flutes of Champagne, clinking and bubbling. The spread for New Year's Eve is one we all know. We want drinks that sparkle and food that will bring us luck in the new year. But what about the morning after? We should be thoughtful about the first meal of the new year, too.
Nothing too ambitious. Or sweet. I don't mean that in a resolution-sort-of way but by this point you don't really want another cookie. You want a meal. Something savory. And on Jan. 1? Something that doesn't ask too much of us, please. It's the first day of the year, we watched the ball drop not too many hours earlier, and I think I still have glitter and confetti in my hair....
Brisk air does a lot to set the scene for the holidays and a break to the Midwest instilled the Christmas spirit in me. Cold weather and a little snow on the ground made a visit to Iowa City with my boyfriend, Danny, even more romantic. Visiting old haunts made him sentimental in this nostalgic time of the year.
After the turkey, the smoked ham with a candied pecan shell, and the scalloped potatoes, we needed something that more plainly conjured up thoughts of Christmas: Cookies. And since we were in Danny's hometown, where better to get a classic cookie recipe than from his family? His parents, Kathy and Rich, pulled out family cookbooks and journals, and it was like the past spilled right into the kitchen....
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is often a blur of lights, sugar and parties. But at some point during the days of turning out cookie dough and shaking up wintery cocktails, I think you should slow down and make chocolate pudding.
Pudding is a classic dessert, but when did you last make it? I find it quite elegant in its simplicity, and it's appropriate for special occasions. Just right for December. An old-fashioned dessert for the most nostalgic time of the year. ...
The truth is I don't remember seeing stuffing on the Thanksgiving table. We had turkey every year, and I know there was cranberry sauce. Potatoes, always. Mashed or scalloped and afloat between thick layers of butter and cheese. But stuffing? I can't picture it and if it was on the table I'm not sure who in our family would have cooked it.
You may think, what the heck does this girl from Miami know? A girl from a city where they call it "Sangiving" and the traditional American staples of this holiday might share a table with gallo pinto, taquitos, and tres leches....
Plums, apples, peppers, I want to galette you all up.
Pate brisee, the French version of classic pie or tart pastry, and I are going to be friends for a long time. The thing is it's just so easy. A few whirls in my stand mixer, and it's done. How could I not keep rolling out this dough?
Used in a quiche, this dough bakes up beautifully flaky and crisp, even on the bottom.
Galettes, flat round cakes of pastry, are pie-ish without having to deal with lattice or crimped corners. I'm taking good fruit, slicing it and tucking it into slabs of dough. Rustic, I suppose — simple and beautiful without being perfect....
Cheese and crackers are fair game for entertaining, and I'd be pleased with a good Gouda or something triple cream and soft with fancy crackers. But why not step it up?
Dressing up a cheese platter doesn't take much more effort. The holidays are imminent, and I'd like to offer a trick to keep up your sleeve: Baked Feta With Blackberry and Rosemary Compote. Test it on a few friends this weekend and you'll have a go-to appetizer for the season....
After many dinners together, I can tell you Danny is a soup hero.
He is always willing to whip up soup, and though it may seem unlikely, the soups we've shared are some of my favorite meals. They're modest, as he'll tell you. Nothing too fancy. Soup is not necessarily made to impress; it's simply a homemade meal to feed, comfort and nourish you, and to let you know that you are loved. When it's raining all afternoon or you've caught the inevitable cold, it's all you want....
In most parts of the United States, tomatoes say summer and squash screams fall. Those are easy. But what's the season for peppers? They always seem to be available at the grocery store and never arouse the fervor seen for other seasonal treats, like peaches or strawberries. So let me tell you, bell peppers are at their best in late summer. Right now.
I know this because an increasing number of varieties are front and center at the market. Purple bell peppers have joined the usual red, green, orange and yellow. Baskets of tiny sweet peppers about the size of cherries are on display, which are now in my kitchen awaiting culinary inspiration....
Roasted vegetables are a staple in our home. Anything in the crisper drawer may end up slicked with oil, scattered on a baking sheet and sent into the oven. The results are always worth it, not that it's not much work on our part. Roasted tomatoes are a no-brainer right now, and they are easy enough to toss into pasta or salads for a quick weekday meal.
Still, I feel like I've been doing it all wrong....
By the time I was halfway through my pile of cherries, the tips of my fingers were already stained a deep shade of red.
Cherries are in season (at $1.99 a pound some places!) and they are sweet, plump, and what I want for breakfast or dessert.
Last week's cherries were off to the oven. It was only four days after finding a recipe for a whole-grain skillet crisp on the food blog, a Sweet Spoonful, that we had a skillet full of bubbling cherries on our table. The 20-minute cooling time was a terrible wait....
There were peaches on the counter that would not be ignored. You could smell them before seeing them and they demanded something more grand than our morning oatmeal.
A cornmeal skillet cake has been on my to-make list for a while, and this low-maintenance cake that only bakes for about 20 minutes hit the spot. Peach slices float in browned butter at the bottom of the skillet, almost syrupy, before thick batter is spooned over the top. The crumb bakes up tender and the cake is heavy with the perfume of ripe seasonal fruit, herbs and the nuttiness of browned butter....
Not everyone flips out over black beans. Pinto beans don't typically ignite passions. Lima beans don't get much love.
But chickpeas are a different story.
Their popularity has surged. You're likely to find them anywhere, any time, and on any table. Fried. Braised. Slicked with oil for a simple salad. On the pages of the hottest cookbooks, including the beautiful books of chef Yotam Ottolenghi. There's even chickpea flour....