Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Big Flavor Brownies

Big Flavor Brownies adapted from Barron’s Brownies

When David Lebovitz wrote of these brownies he used the words “insane” and “massive.”

Go big or go home. I took notice.

And he reported the brownies baked from this heavy batter sliced easier and tasted better after some time in the freezer. My brownie slices always look untidy.

David adapted Maida Heatter’s Barron’s Brownies, a recipe she adapted from a Palm Beach newspaper article some years back. I made them last month, adding the walnuts as he did, but drew the line at a filling of peppermint cream because I don’t much care for chocolate mint anything.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From Paris Sweets: Meringues Chantilly

Meringues Chantilly
Cloud-like meringues stacked in pâtisserie windows have never failed to enchant me, and they are all the more beguiling in flavored tints of strawberry or pistachio.

But despite my best efforts at neatness, sweet little shards would flutter away to my clothing and usually also to the hotel room bedding.

A well made meringue is a tiny bit chewy and crisp before its airy sweetness melts away on the tongue. All of that loveliness from egg whites and sugar.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pizza from Scratch: Cornmeal Crust

Cornmeal Crust Pizza
For more than a decade, on most Friday evenings, we ordered pizza from a restaurant down the street. Nearly always the same thing: Mushrooms, garlic and a lighter serving of cheese. There was only one crust — thin and chewy — and it was made on site.

The pizza joint was in a building about the size of a postage stamp with an even smaller parking lot. By the time we moved this past winter, it had risen to a grand, two-story affair with a bar, a more extensive menu and an upstairs section where musicians sometimes played.

At some point during those years, the owner recognized us by the order. “Is this for M—?,” he’d ask after I made my request. “OK, 25 minutes.”

Friday, May 13, 2011

From Salad as a Meal: Celery, Olive and Anchovy Salad

Celery, green olive, and anchovy salad

Sometimes you just know that you’re going to like a recipe.

Take this dish of celery, green olive and anchovy from Patricia Wells’s newest book Salad as a Meal. I knew the crispy celery and tart lemon juice would be refreshing. Add some brine (olives and anchovies) and a tad of heat (crushed red pepper), and it’s downright bracing.

Not to mention the colors are awfully pretty.

Monday, May 9, 2011

From Salad as a Meal: Lemon Zest Salt

Lemon Zest Salt
Patricia Wells’s learned but unfussy approach to food and writing has long appealed to me, and I have dreamed of attending a cooking class with her in Paris or Provence.

I’ve been following her on Twitter (@patriciawellsfr) as she tours the U.S. for a new book, Salad as Meal. A tweet about her friend Susie Kauck’s blog Return to Sunday Supper led me to discover Susie was giving away a copy of the book. (Turns out that Susie’s husband is the photographer Jeff Kauck, whose appetizing photos for Salad as a Meal so deftly convey a sense of place.) This is a book I would have purchased anyway, but what a thrill to win. Thank you, Return to Sunday Supper!

In Salad as a Meal, Wells offers a host of salads, all designed to be the stars of a meal, some with meat, poultry or fish, and some without. I often prepare salads as main courses during the warmer months, but choices for cooler weather are featured, as well. For completing a meal, there are recipes for accompaniments—simple breads, soups and salad dressings. (I love the lemon zest buttermilk dressing.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Brown-Is-Beautiful Brown Butter Scones

Brown Butter Scones
In her book Good to the Grain, Kim Boyce presents a thoughtful collection of recipes that showcase a variety of whole grains. Going well beyond whole wheat, she introduces grains that may be less familiar, situating them in recipes that highlight its best characteristics.

Her recipe for Brown Butter Scones features teff flour (of Ethiopian injera fame) and rolled oats along with unbleached all-purpose flour. I love the texture of a simple oat scone, but it was the brown butter that really attracted me, thanks in no small part to Boyce’s description.

This scone is about the journey and the destination. As the butter browns, it perfumes the kitchen with the aroma of toasted hazelnuts. The resulting scone, too, is infused with this nutty warmth and flavor. (Side note: Brown butter is called beurre noisette in French. Noisette is the word for hazelnut.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Making Pizza From Scratch

Pizza from Scratch at New Pioneer Food Coop

I recently spent two delicious hours watching Chad Clark of blinddogpizza.com prepare five pizzas. The class was held at New Pioneer Food Co-op in Coralville. Chad is one of the good folks who turns out a host of fine breads and pastries sold at the Co-op. (It is well that we don’t live so near the Co-op.)

Chad mixed dough for five pizzas and then baked pies using dough prepared the day before. Small pieces were passed around to the class. We sampled thin crust, herbed crust, cornmeal crust and cracker-style crust, all made with cheeses sold at New Pi (including an imported Provolone that many folks ran to purchase as soon as class was over).
Chad Clark making pizza dough

Chad’s been making pizza since he was young. Starting with a recipe from his mother, he went on from there, learning the techniques and peculiarities of pizza in its many forms—everything from thin, cracker-like crusts to double-crust stuffed pizza. He very generously offers free recipes for all kinds of pizza crusts on his website and you can occasionally catch him in a class as I did.

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