Jorrun’s rhubarb torte

June 1, 2012 § 17 Comments

If you page through my spiral bound notebook stuffed with recipes, you will almost certainly notice that it is spattered and worn and nearly fallen apart.  If your eye is particularly of the sort that seeks out patterns, however, you may also notice that somewhere in the realm of 75 percent of the recipes in it are attached to someone’s name.

Beth’s chicken, Peter’s pancakes, Daim cake from Caroline, Liz’s shirley bars, Judy’s scones, Peach’s cardamom bread.  And I’m fairly positive that, all around the world, many cooks have similarly labeled recipes, this one from grandma, that one from an old friend, and this one from that lady who used to live down the street.  Remember her?  She always made the best…

Even some of my cookbooks by acclaimed chefs contain recipes attributed by name to someone else –  Lindsay’s sugar cookies or Rob’s famous coleslaw in Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Sally Schmitt’s cranberry and apple kuchen or Eric’s staff lasagne in the French Laundry.

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Chocolate and nutmeg tart with hazelnut crust

February 7, 2012 § 24 Comments

…Then Nutella slipped the shoe gently onto Eggnog’s foot.  It fit perfectly!  They gazed into each others’ eyes, and each knew it had found a soul mate.  And they lived happily ever after.

I mean, is there anything else you really need to know about this remarkable combination of milk chocolate, hazelnut, and nutmeg?  I don’t really think so.  Of course, that has also never stopped me from waxing poetic for at least a couple more paragraphs.

I don’t normally eat milk chocolate.  I’m a dark chocolate girl.  Switching your tastes over from milk to dark seems almost a rite of passage.  You know, paying your own rent, choosing subtle shades of eye shadow, drinking coffee, and eating dark chocolate.  They’re signs you’ve entered adulthood.  And, it’s not just because dark chocolate is healthier.  Milk chocolate is often palate-deadeningly sweet.  Just a single, uniform brushstroke of sugar across your tongue, while dark chocolate has notes of coffee, berries, caramel, wood, vanilla…

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Roasted apples with ginger mousse and cinnamon breadcrumbs

October 27, 2011 § 13 Comments

It seems to me that we have a failure of imagination when it comes to oven temperatures and apples.  We always bake them.  It’s like our temperature dial is locked between 350-375F.  What’s up with that?

I know what’s up with that.  It’s mostly dough or crumble topping.  We put our apples in pies, and crisps, and dumplings, and strudels, and turnovers, and unless we want black and incinerated edges, we had best bow to the characteristics of dough and stick with those mildly hot baking temperatures.

Now, I like dough as much as the next person (maybe more than the next person), but today I’m going to say, “break out!  Take your apples out of their floury, buttery, oaty sheaths!”  Because if you do, then you can roast them!  Crank up the knob on the oven and lash that fruit with intense heat.

You’ll find that this fast (faster, at any rate) and furious, let ‘er rip, method of cooking still gives you apples that have the sweet, tender innards of baked apples.  But the outside, well the outside is where the magic happens.  They become mahogany, all glistening and browned with a pleasant hint of burnt caramel to edge the rich sweetness with a thin rim of sophistication. « Read the rest of this entry »

Peach crisp

September 5, 2011 § 8 Comments

This is going to be another short one as it’s been a long full weekend and I’m pretty beat.  We spent the last couple of days exploring Portland, Maine with friends.  It was wonderfully fun, with an abundance of walking, chatting, laughing, and eating.

At home now, I’ve spent the evening avoiding the work I need to get done for tomorrow morning by watching the sparrows.  They’re diving and swooping and snatching bugs right in an easy line of sight.  When swallows are flying low like that, it means that a storm is coming, or so they say.

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A peanut butter pie for Mikey

August 12, 2011 § 9 Comments

This is a peanut butter pie for Mikey.

He was somebody I didn’t know, but he was the beloved of a cook I admire as much for her generous spirit and vivacious energy as for her cooking.  At her request, a number of us are all making peanut butter pies today – his favorite – to honor his memory.  This is what we do, we create, and we share with those we love.

Life is full of so much darkness, and so much light.  I guess the only thing we can really do is create all the light we can, to shine through the darkness.

I don’t know what else. « Read the rest of this entry »

Strawberry-rhubarb mini galettes

June 9, 2011 § 10 Comments

It’s stinking hot out there!  Stinking.  Hot.  If you are anywhere in the eastern half of the country you know what I’m talking about.  And, being that I have an inborn ability to be a worry wort, the weather has me busy worrying about global climate change.  How can you not, with a heat wave that’s suffocating half the country?  Riding in on the coattails of tornados and floods and generally weird weather.  Oh dear, oh dear.  As Joel said this morning, it kind of makes me want to go all survivalist and move onto a farm in Nova Scotia, with a windmill.

Which would be kind of a cool thing to do anyway, come to think of it.

I get easily overwhelmed by the bigness of the problems we face.  Sure I’m working in a field where we’re trying really hard to make changes in some of the biggest problems we’re facing in health and the environment, and maybe that’s supposed to make me feel better.  But, most of the time it feels like we’re making about as much headway as a ramshackle raft trying to boat upstream, against the wind…with a waterfall right behind it too.  Some days, I find want to walk out into the street and scream at the top of my lungs, “will somebody please just do something??!!”

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Veiled farm girls, with pear

February 1, 2011 § 12 Comments

Oh dear, I feel like such a bad influence posting two desserts in a row.  I’m usually not like this, I swear. 😉  But, this one is simply too lovely not to share.  And, I’m going to go ahead and justify it by arguing that, if you replaced the whipped cream with yogurt then it would be almost healthy (though not nearly as fun!).  Considering that the cooking boils off the alcohol from the white wine in the pear compote, you could even eat it for breakfast.  So there we go, justification accomplished.

Veiled farm girls, or tilslørte bondepiker, is a very traditional and equally delicious Norwegian dessert.  Personally, I think it is a classic example of how a few simple ingredients, ingeniously combined, can result in something dazzling – it’s the gestalt theory of cooking!  In the classic version of veiled farm girls you just layer applesauce with cinnamon breadcrumbs and whipped cream, and voila, dessert is ready!  It’s almost too simple and too delicious to be true.  Sadly, I was deprived of this wonder for many years as this is actually not one of the desserts I grew up with (though we sometimes had a dessert of similar spirit and simplicity we called krem bananer og rik rak, which was banana slices with whipped cream and chocolate shavings…yum.).  I didn’t get to try tilslørte bondepiker until I was in college, but when I was introduced to it, it was in a most spectacularly legitimate fashion.

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