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A Season of Pies–Fall Edition

19 Dec

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I was upset with myself for not making a pie all summer. How I passed over the chance to toss summer berries and stone fruit into a buttery crust, I have no idea.

At least now I can say I’ve made up for lost time by making all kinds of sweet and savory pies and tarts this fall (yes, it is technically still fall, the first day of winter is Tuesday, December 22 ah!). Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2014

29 Nov

I hope your holiday was delicious and special. My friend Natasha and I co-hosted and cooked most of the food together. Our friends brought extra sides (sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole), desserts (mascarpone tart with berries), and drinks (wine, beers, cider), all of which were amazing!

The menu:

Castelvetrano olives

Kale salad with apples and walnuts

Extra-buttery mashed potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes

Kale stuffing with dates

Brussels sprouts with bacon

Green bean casserole

Spatchcocked turkey with gravy

Roasted garlic

Cranberry sauce (homemade and jellied)

Dessert:

Upside-down cranberry cake

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Topping

Peanut Butter Pie

Mascarpone tart with berry sauce

Hand-whipped cream

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Clockwise from left: stuffing a la Samin (and Charlie!), with dates instead of prunes and no sausage; spatchcocked and carved turkey from the Serious Eats recipe and video; cranberry sauce (can be made one week before TG) Continue reading

A Pie Class with Joy the Baker: Pics, Tips, and Memories

28 Oct

I started Figs in My Belly in June, 2009. At that point in my life, I was living in California, getting a degree in Nutritional Science, staging (interning) in the kitchen at a small handful of restaurants, working at a cooking camp for kids, and making dinners for my housemates at the co-op where I lived. Oh, and I was totally obsessed with Joy the Baker and her blog.

That August, I heard about a rooftop picnic in downtown Los Angeles that Joy was hosting and jumped on the opportunity. I brought my mom along and we spent the afternoon enjoying Joy’s biscuits, fried chicken, coleslaw, and cupcakes while mingling with other Joy the Baker fans.

Cut to more than five years later, and I now live in New York City with a short (four-year-long) pastry cook career currently on pause while I finish up a graduate degree in Nutrition Education and a dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian. And, as you might have guessed, I am still totally obsessed with Joy the Baker and her blog.

Joy is currently on tour for her latest cookbook, Homemade Decadence. I attended her book signing at The Brooklyn Kitchen, and the following weekend, my friend Michelle and I drove up to King Arthur Flour in Vermont, where Joy was teaching a hands-on pie making class. Joy taught two four-hour pie classes on the same day. She is a warrior.

I’ve made my share of pies in the past, but pie still intimidates me, and I wanted to gain some pro tips to boost my pie confidence. Plus, my friend Michelle never made her own pie before, so this was the perfect opportunity to learn. We road tripped for pie! Continue reading

Delicious Northern California…

14 Aug

Lip-smacking, finger-licking, shirt-staining delicious.

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This was my backyard for a week. Deep in the Sierra Mountains, along the Yuba River.

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There were swimming holes and waterfalls…

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…and “Mountain Men.”

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We went swimming everyday. So many delicious (and freezing cold!) rivers and lakes.

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Check out this tiny baby snake found mid-hike. Woah nature!

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I also spent a few days in Sonoma County, and checked out 2 fairs: the Sonoma County Fair and the Gravenstein Apple Fair.

I saw lots of livestock (including alpacas and miniature horses), but these baby pigs were my favorite. Floppy ears get me every time.

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Whenever I am in the area, I must grab a few scones and a hunk of cheesy bread from Wild Flour Bread Bakery in Freestone. The Gravenstein apple cheddar scone hit the spot for me this trip. And the fougasse bread is always packed with a few cheeses and some aromatic vegetables. The loaf is best warmed and gooey.

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I didn’t know a latte this big could exist. The lavender latte from Taylor Maid was a real treat. Ooo tummy.

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Food was growing everywhere I turned–there were sunflowers and grapevines, bushes of wild blackberries and strawberries, apple trees and pear trees, even some avocados and figs. But nothing screamed mid-August to me like the fresh basil from the yard, with plump, juicy tomatoes. Gosh, good tomatoes are SO good.

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Summer is almost over. Do something delicious.

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Shutterbean’s (and Ina’s) Greek Panzanella

27 Jun

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My gal Michelle and I are both avid followers of Tracy Shutterbean and her food, family, and boozy adventures. The day Tracy posted about this Grilled Greek Panzanella, Michelle and I went nuts! Within 1 day, we were at my place, chopping away in anticipation of enjoying a cool crunch on a hot summer day.

Intense New York City summer weather means salad for dinner. A big honking salad with lots of bread cubes and raw veggies, salty feta, and “evoo”.

Store-bought hummus and tzatziki add an easy Mediterranean touch with a bit of protein. It makes a huge difference (aesthetically) to scoop the dips into ramekins or little bowls and embellish with your own spices i.e. adding extra paprika on top of the hummus.

Giant salad. Bread. Dips. A chilled bottle of white. And a small scoop of Steve’s Blackberry Honey (vegan) ice cream to finish.

Catch the recipe over at Tracy’s blog. We used a whole wheat French Bread, but you should use whatever bread strikes you (I imagine a white seeded bread would be nice!). We lightly toasted the bread on the stove top. And we used fresh basil instead of oregano.

Tracy served her salad with lamb meatballs and grilled eggplant. YUM!

Now get chopping and eat a giant bowl of this deliciousness! Makes great lunch leftovers, too.

 

Charoset: A Passover Delight

9 Apr

Happy Passover everyone. Have you made Matzo Lasagna yet this year? There are still 5 more days left of the holiday, so get your cheese on! And if you have a hankering for dessert, try my Kiss n’ Swirl meringues (just use Kosher for Passover vanilla, or omit it altogether).

I love Passover because the food is so unique and holds so much meaning and tradition. Charoset comes from the Hebrew word for clay, and is meant to symbolize the mud which the Israelite’s used to hold the bricks together when they were enslaved in ancient Egypt. You can read more about the story of Passover here.

Charoset is made from grated apples, nuts, dried fruit, and sweet wine…all whizzed up in the food processor or blender (or by hand if you are feeling rustic). I find Charoset utterly delicious, so sweet and full of my favorite ingredients. I like to use dried figs and raisins, but in the past I have also used dried apricots/dates/prunes. Fuji apples are my go-to because they are so crisp and sweet. And the wine has to be Manischewitz Concord Grape. People either love Manischewitz wine or they hate it. I can’t seem to get enough of the sweet stuff.

Charoset

Makes about 5 cups

*Note: you do not have to follow these measurements exactly. I just add ingredients to my liking, using these ratios as a guide. You can use whatever nuts/dried fruit/apples/wine/spices you like. Enjoy.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup walnuts

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup dried figs, I like to use Turkish figs

1/2 cup raisins

3 fuji apples

1 cup Manischewitz wine (you can use grape juice or another sweet red wine)

2-3 tablespoons cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

pinch of ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Method:

In a blender or food processor (I used a blender because that is all I have), pulse the nuts until roughly chopped. Empty the nuts into a large bowl. Now place the dried fruit in the blender. Pulse until chopped and add to the bowl with the nuts.

Chop the apples by hand, halve them, quarter them, and chop each quarter into about 4 or 5 small chunks. Add the apples (you may have to add one at a time if using a blender) and wine to the blender and pulse just until roughly chopped into small pieces. Add the apples to the bowl with the nuts and dried fruit. Add the spices and stir everything together by hand. Taste and add more wine or spices as needed.

Let the charoset sit for a few hours in the fridge to let the flavors develop. Enjoy with matzo and horseradish, or mix it into yogurt.

Baked Oatmeal, With Apples and Bananas

26 Oct

I like to ate ate ate apples and bananas
I like eat eat eat epples and benenes 
I like to ite ite ite ipples and bininis

I like to ote ote ote oplles and bononos
I like to ute ute ute upples and bununus

Mornin’ ladies and gents. I have oatmeal for you today. Baked oatmeal. Baked oatmeal that is so good I want to eat it for my breakfast, my mid-afternoon snack, and my dessert.

I recently purchased Heidi Swanson’s cookbook Super Natural Everyday. She has beautiful photos and healthy recipes using all of the ingredients that I want in my food. I want to be her. I want to make every recipe in the book. I am inspired.

This baked oatmeal has bananas, apples, and dried apricots. Baking everything together with milk and maple syrup gives the oats a sweet hearty taste. I like eating  mine with vanilla soy milk poured over the top and a little nob of peanut butter. What a cozy way to start the morning now that the weather has started cooling off here in New York.

As per usual, you can use any seasonal fruit and nut that you prefer in here, you can add extra spices like nutmeg and ginger, and feel free to throw in a few flaxseeds and some wheat germ for more oomph. You can even make it vegan by using non-dairy milk and adding ground flaxseeds instead of an egg. I only used about half of the amount of butter that the recipe calls for; you can omit it altogether or use Earth Balance buttery sticks.

Throughout her book, Heidi provides measurements in grams and ounces. After purchasing a food scale a few months ago, I am obsessed with measuring my flour, sugar, etc. in grams (155 g=1 cup of flour; 200 g=1 cup sugar…). Especially if you are an avid baker, I highly recommend you invest in a nice scale. You will use it all the time and it is less messy than using cup measures.

Happy Breakfast, Happy Fall, Happy Eating.

Baked Oatmeal

from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday

serves 6 generously or 12 as part of a larger brunch spread

Ingredients:

2 cups/ 7 oz/ 200 g rolled oats

1/2 cup/ 2 oz/ 60 g walnut pieces, chopped

1/3 cup/ 2 oz/ 60 g maple syrup (or natural cane sugar)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

2 cups/ 475 ml milk

1 large egg

1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups/ 6.5 oz/ 185 g berries or chopped apples or dried fruit such as golden raisins or apricots

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter the inside of an 8-inch/ 20 cm square baking dish.

In a bowl, mix together the oats, half the walnuts, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt (NOTE: if you are using sugar instead of maple syrup, add it here).

In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup (if using), the milk, egg, half of the butter, and the vanilla.

Arrange the bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle 2/3 of the berries/apples/dried fruit over the top. Cover the fruit with the dry oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple of thwacks on the counter-top to make sure the milk moves through the oats. Scatter the remaining berries and remaining walnuts across the top.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Drizzle the remaining melted butter on top and serve. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar or drizzle with maple syrup if you want it a bit sweeter. Or, pour some more milk (I like vanilla soy milk) over an individual portion and enjoy with a spoonful of peanut butter.