Archive for April, 2012
My heart surged at the first glimpse of the The Newlywed Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2012). I mean really, look at those cookies above. I knew immediately this book, with its impressive photography and clean design embellished with swirls and swooshes, would find a home in the kitchens of many.
While the title tends to target those fresh from the altar, this book is really for anyone who likes to cook with and for others.
“Cooking together and for each other is a loving act, one of the most enduring ways to nurture each other…” says Copeland in her introduction. So many of her sentiments apply not just to couples, but families and those who like to cook for friends too.
The pages of this large, coffee-table–like book are filled with glorious photos of beautifully plated foods; fresh, tantalizing produce; and even a helpful how-to for her Thousand-Layer Chocolate Chip Cookies, shown above too.
The first few chapters thoroughly cover kitchen essentials, from pantry ingredients to cooks’ tools. Copeland, who blogs about food, gardening, and good living at edibleliving.com, also includes a useful chapter on seasonal ingredients and how to grow your own. She writes with green living in mind.
One of the last chapters, Gatherings: Feasts for Friends and Family, puts together menus using recipes in the book and is one of Copeland’s many thoughtful additions to the 135+ recipes that make this book a worthwhile purchase.
From breakfast and brunch to easy lunches and dinners, Copeland, a recipe developer and Food Network veteran, covers the gamut: Oatmeal-yogurt Pancakces with Blackberry Crush, Summer Corn Soup, Southern Shrimp & Grits, and Shaved Zucchini with Ricotta and Walnuts to name a few.
The dessert section is full of delectable sweets including a Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Smoke Sea Salt and an Olive Oil Cake with Tangerine Marmalade.
Although the recipes go far beyond what one may imagine to be the newlywed basics of yesteryear (like the cream chicken on toast and hamburger macaroni casserole that were part of my mother’s repertoire, oy!), none are particularly challenging, and most can be easily accomplished within a reasonable amount of time.
With June weddings right around the corner, need I say this book makes the perfect wedding gift? Perhaps pair it with a sauce pan or baking tool from the couple’s registry.
That said, although ideal for newlyweds, this cookbook is also a sweet love story, the charming writing tugged at my heartstrings and brought a tear or two to my eye—but I’m also a big sap.
Newlywed or not, sap or not, this book about good living and eating is one to own.
This egg sandwich recipe sang out to me because it wasn’t until about my fifth year of marriage that I learned the proper way to cook an egg so the yolk is deliciously runny like the photo above. Six minutes is the golden number, just as Copeland directs for cooking time.
When you’re looking for a light meal, egg sandwiches are ideal. Like Copeland says, “the best thing about being grown-ups is that you get to make your own rules…there’s no one there to insist that meat and potatoes is the most wholesome meal.” “Some nights,” she says, “you just need a little meal.”
Open-Face Soft Boiled Egg Sandwiches (from The Newlywed Cookbook, Chronicle, 2012)
4 farm-fresh or organic eggs
2 tbsp best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 thick slice nutty whole-wheat/wholemeal bread
Herb Mayo (see recipe below)
1/2 bunch arugula, torn
Freshly ground black pepper
Sweet or smoked paprika
Place the eggs in a large bowl of warm water. Bring a small pot of water to a simmer over medium heat. Gently lower the eggs into the water, using a spoon. Set the timer for 6 minutes and keep eggs at a low simmer.
Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Ad the olive oil and the bread, toasting until golden on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to small plates.
When the timer goes off, immediately remove the eggs from the pan and rinse under cool water. Carefully remove the shell from all the eggs.
Spread the toasted bread with mayonnaise, then top with arugula. Split the eggs in half with a sharp knife and place the halves on top of the arugula. Season with salt and pepper and add a pinch of smoked paprika for color and heat. Drizzle the whole thing with your finest extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
Herb Mayo (from the Newlywed Cookbook, Chronicle, 2012)
1 packed cup fresh parsley, dill, mint, basil or chive leaves, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
3 tbsp olive-oil or regular mayonnaise
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
Blend the herbs, yogurt, mayo and olive oil in a mini food processor or blender until smooth and flecked with green. Pulse in the lemon juice, adding just enough to give the right balance for you. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
And what level is that? A higher one!
Check out my post over at Babycenter to find out how you, too, can elevate kids’ party food.
At times when I was recipe-testing for Sweet Home, my new dessert cookbook, no joke, we had cakes, cookies and pies on every counter surface.
I swear, when my neighbors saw my number on caller ID they avoided answering the phone fearing I would inundate them with more plates of sweets. We all (my neighbors included) were on sugar overload. Even my kids had had enough. At one point, my twelve-year-old daughter Anna asked if we could have a “really healthy dinner” every night for a week. “No desserts!” she said.
Mind you, we generally eat quite healthfully. However, this was my chance. You see, Anna was quirky when it came to salmon. She ate it raw and smoked, but would not touch it grilled or roasted. No cooked salmon for her (and I never forced the issue because she ate any other cooked fish).
I was determined though because as much as I like to please my family, it drives me nuts when I’m forced to be a short-order cook. Whenever I made fresh salmon, I always prepared something else for my quirky gal.
“Hmmm, salmon is extremely healthy Anna, in fact, it’s one of the healthiest fish you can eat. How about if I make it slightly undercooked, so it’ll taste almost like raw?” She bit. “Sure, I’ll try it.” I was speechless, but went with it.
And because she likes all things teriyaki, I made salmon with a simple soy sauce glaze. It had to be easy so I had little invested in the meal. I didn’t want the disappointment of slaving over the stove only to hear, “I don’t really like this Mommy.”
I also cooked up some soba noodles—my all-time favorite go-to pasta because it cooks in about three minutes—and veggies in case she just couldn’t down the fish.
Guess what though, she did—and exclaimed how much she liked it.
The lesson I learned: Never give up. When you are certain a family member won’t try something, still casually offer. (Even my 80-some-year-old father-in-law swears he hates blueberries yet he still downed two servings of blueberry crisp last summer. I just served it up and he ate it. We’re not sure if this was sheer forgetfulness, did he forget for a short moment that he doesn’t like blueberries, or has he had a change of heart late in life?). Anyway, just keep trying!
This meal may take you all of thirty minutes. If you mix up the sauce and prep the vegetables in the morning (wash and chop them), you can be done in fifteen, which leaves time to make dessert! Oh, that’s right, this is part of the healthy dinner week. Okay, maybe top off the meal with a small serving of fruit sorbet instead. Enjoy.
Teriyaki Salmon and Soba Noodles with Vegetables
1/2 pound soba noodles
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup low-sodium tamari soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 pounds center-cut wild salmon fillet
1/2 cup baby carrots
1/2 head bok choy, coarsely chopped
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped scallions, plus extra for garnish
1. Preheat the broiler. Boil the soba noodles according to the package directions and drain. Toss with the sesame oil and set aside.
2. Steam or boil the vegetables for 3 to 5 minutes or longer according to your preference. Drain and set aside. (I actually just toss the noodles and veggies together and boil, but if you like your vegetables cooked longer than 3 minutes, cook them separately.)
3. Meanwhile, stir together the tamari, mirin, rice wine vinegar, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and continue to simmer until the mixture becomes slightly thicker and reduced by about one third. Remove from the heat and stir in the scallion.
4. Heat a lightly-oiled grill pan or oven-safe skillet over high heat. Put the salmon skin-side down in the pan. Reserve 1/4 cup of the soy mixture and brush the top of the salmon with about 1/2 of the remaining soy mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes. Brush the fish with the remaining mixture (not the 1/4 cup you set aside). Transfer the pan to the oven and broil for another 3 to 7 minutes depending on desired doneness. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes while you toss the noodles.
5. Place the drained noodles and vegetables in a large bowl. Pour the remaining soy mixture over the noodles and toss.
6. Cut the salmon fillet into 4 or 6 pieces, sprinkle with scallion, and serve with a heaping pile of soba noodles.
Today’s a big day for me…it’s the official release of my new cookbook, Sweet Home: Over 100 Heritage Desserts and Ideas for Preserving Family Recipes.
The cookbook was inspired by my great-grandmother’s recipe journal. The recipes in the journal began an entire dialogue with my grandmother—countless conversations about our family heritage ensued. Those chats led to discussions with other family members, and a whole journey began.
There are scrumptious dessert recipes in the book for every occasion, and Philip Ficks’ stunning photographs will make your mouth water as you turn every page.
In celebration of the birth of Sweet Home, I’m sharing a recipe for one of my most favorite birthday cakes ever: German Chocolate (although this one is not so German, read on to find out why…).
Thanks so much to all of you who helped make this book happen, and I also thank those who have already bought the book…I truly appreciate your support!
Excerpted from the Sweet Home cookbook (Kyle Books, 2012) by Rebecca Miller Ffrench
NOT-SO-GERMAN GERMAN’S CHOCOLATE CAKE
Before my father became deeply obsessed with dark chocolate, German’s Chocolate Cake was one of his favorites. He chose it not because of his German heritage—the cake has nothing to do with Germany—but because he loves coconut and pecan, which infuses the caramel frosting that thickly coats this chocolate layer cake. Sam German developed a sweet chocolate for the Baker’s Chocolate Company, which was later used in a recipe for German’s Chocolate Cake published in a Dallas newspaper. Baker’s German’s Chocolate is still sold today, and a recipe for the cake is printed inside the box. While the coconut-pecan frosting recipe can’t be beat (the one below is a slight adaptation), the cake is mild and sweet. The cake used in this recipe doesn’t use German’s Chocolate at all, but bittersweet chocolate and coffee for a richer flavor. I hope Mr. German wouldn’t mind.
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cold brewed coffee
4 large egg yolks
One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-3/4 cups flaked sweetened coconut
1-2/3 cups chopped pecans
1. Make the cake layers: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate over medium heat, then set aside to cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together for 4 minutes on medium until light and fluffy, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Mix until fully blended, about 30 seconds.
4. Stir together the buttermilk and coffee in a small bowl. In three portions, add the flour alternating with the milk-coffee mixture, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
6. Meanwhile, make the frosting: Whisk together the egg yolks and evaporated milk in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and add the butter and sugar, stirring constantly until melted and starting to bubble gently, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and continue stirring until the mixture is golden brown and coats the back of a spoon, 5 to 8 minutes (10 to 13 minutes total). Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Add the coconut and pecans and stir well. Let stand for 30 minutes.
7. Stack all three cake layers with frosting in between and on top.
Looking for ways to make a birthday celebration more festive? Check out my post over at Babycenter for fun decorating ideas that may just become tradition. Happy Friday!
Bright is the new black, no? And kale the new spinach? It definitely is in my kitchen. Poor spinach. It used to make an appearance at our table at least two if not three times a week. Not recently though.
The sturdy, curly kale leaf has supplanted spinach in my salads and pastas. Hell, it’s even starting to replace potatoes in some instances (kale chips anyone?).
Okay, I’ll admit, I’m slightly obsessed with kale. But for good reasons. While some of you may have been eating kale for years, I missed an entire childhood of kale eating. Instead my greens consisted of iceberg (which could be called a white), romaine, and yes, spinach. Organic kale is cheaper per pound than most other greens, and it doesn’t wilt away to nothing when sauteed. Plus, it just makes me feel good to be eating a superfood!
Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is rich in vitamins K, A, C, fiber, calcium, and iron. When eaten raw, the hearty leaves have a crunchy texture that is extremely satisfying. Even when cooked kale maintains an almost meaty quality.
Following is a super-easy, super satisfying recipe for pasta with kale. While it does contain bacon—which you may be thinking negates kale’s goodness—the pork addition sure makes the dish taste good.
I’ll post my super-healthy kale salad later. If you just can’t throw caution to the wind, replace the pork bacon with turkey bacon.
Note to bacon lovers: Have you ever tried Neuske’s bacon? The applewood-smoked meat from Wisconsin is worth seeking out. To quote the late R.W. Apple, Jr. from the New York Times, “I don’t want to go whole hog here, but Nueske’s struck me as the beluga of bacon, the Rolls-Royce of rashers.”
The online Neuskes retailer is offering one pound free bacon with orders placed by May 8. And how do I know this? Because my Wisconsin-born bacon-loving father always seems to remind me in case I need a gift for him.
Use promo code PC13474.
For now, grab an onion and bunch of kale and get cooking. It’s the perfect pasta for a quick Thursday night supper.
Campanelle Pasta with Kale and Bacon
1 pound campanelle pasta
1 pound smoked bacon, cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces
1 medium red onion, chopped (about 2-1/2 cups)
4 cups kale, chopped (remove the thick center ribs from leaves before chopping)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cook the pasta until al dente according to the package directions and drain.
2. While the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon over medium heat in a large saute pan until slightly crispy, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. Reserve 1/3 of the bacon fat in the pan and discard the rest. Saute the onion in the fat over medium heat for 8 minutes or until softened and the edges turn brown.
4. Add the kale and saute another 4 to 6 minutes or until tender.
5. Next stir in the garlic and continue to cook for another minute.
6. Pour the chicken stock into the pan and stir until thoroughly combined and slightly thickened. Simmer for several minutes.
7. If the saute pan is big enough, add the pasta and cooked bacon to the kale mixture and toss to combine over medium-high heat for a minute or two. If a bigger pan is needed, mix in the pasta pot.
8. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and toss one or two more times. Serve hot.
I just got back from a jaunt over New York’s northern border, and the trip reiterated one of my secret desires: to pack up and move to Montréal. The kids would learn French, the real estate is more affordable than Manhattan’s, and the whole experience would just be oh-so international (without having to ship my worldly goods overseas by container).
Because my husband and I are deeply rooted in the States though, a move to Canada unfortunately won’t be happening anytime soon. We do love to visit there though, and here are five reasons why you, too, should consider a sojourn in Montréal, Quebec’s largest city.
1. Easy in, easy out By car, Montréal is about 6.5 hours from Manhattan, 5.5 hours from Boston, 8 hours from Philadelphia, and about 10 hours from Cleveland. The direct routes and good highways make this drive an easy one for those who live on the East Coast. It’s a quick 2-1/2 hour flight from Chicago.
While valid passports are needed by US citizens when traveling by plane to and from Canada, enhanced driver’s licenses are acceptable when traveling by car.
And keep in mind that if you’re traveling alone with your kids, while not mandatory, it’s helpful to have a letter of consent from the parent not traveling. Go to travel.state.gov for specific international travel requirements.
2. Très cultural The allure and romance of this French-speaking city is unavoidable. There’s something intriguing about the French language. My kids love watching the road signs change from English to French while approaching Quebec…and they think using foreign money is very cool (although US dollars are accepted most everywhere).
While Montréal’s history is steeped in French tradition, there’s an international flair that permeates the city—it feels very European while still maintaining its North American integrity (perhaps much to the residents’ chagrin…do they still want to secede?).
From the Canadian Center for Architecture (founded by architect Phyllis Lambert, known for her work on New York’s Seagram’s Building and LA’s Biltmore Hotel) to the Museum of Fine Arts, Montréal has a huge network of museums, and many theater, music, and dance offerings.
3. Food, food, food Should I say it again? One of my absolute favorite reasons for traveling (if not the reason for traveling) is good food, and there is no doubt you will find an extraordinary array of cuisine in Montréal. While there are many French options, you’ll find restaurants serving fare from vegetarian to Thai, Moroccan to British.
A visit to Marché Atwater, a farmer’s market housed in a beautfiul Art Deco building, is key to understanding the city’s love affair with food. The pride and care for foodstuffs are evident in the presentation and quality of products here. The array of cheeses is breathtaking—it rivals Manhattan’s very best cheese shops.
A few Montréal must-haves: Bagels, tire (prounounced \tir\), and poutine.
The bagels here are not the doughy, over-inflated ones you’ll find in some US bagel shops. Instead, these smaller, hand-rolled rounds are baked in wood-fired ovens after they’re boiled, which creates a crispy crust around the dense, chewy interior. A Montreal classic, the St-Viateur Bagel Shop has become legendary for the thousands of bagels they sell every day.
Maple syrup is a national obsession in Canada, as it should be—they produce about 80% of the world’s supply, and most of it comes from Quebec. You’ll find maple syrup in cakes, pies, and even coffee. You’ll also see vendors pouring a strip of hot syrup on cold snow that is then lifted and rolled with a wooden stick.
This sticky, taffy-like candy is called tire. Maple sap is boiled past the point of syrup, but stopped before it turns to sugar.
(I wonder what they do in the summer? Is this a winter-only delicacy? I should have asked.)
One more not-to-be-missed Canadian comfort food: fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy. Yup, that’s right, fries and gravy. This quintessential carb-loaded guilty pleasure of Quebec is called poutine. The dish sounds like a big, greasy mess I know, but when prepared right, boy is it satisfying.
Forget local fast food joints when sampling poutine, head instead to Laurier in Outremont.
While the restaurant has gotten some bad press in the last few years (Gordon Ramsay was supposedly revamping the place, but is no longer involved), it still serves up succulent rotisserie chicken, hearty sandwiches, satisfying pot pies, and of course, poutine.The fries remain crisp under the savory gravy and the curds are delicate, not chewy like you’ll find at some spots serving the same dish.
The best part for the kids? Shirley Temples served in Mason jars rimmed with Pop Rocks (clever idea, eh? I’m trying that one at home).
The waitress even left some extra Pop Rock packs for the kids.
4. Old Montréal Okay, I’ll be honest, the heading of “4. Old Montréal” is a cover for one of my favorite spots in the city: Scandinave. I know it should probably be a museum or significant site in this area of town, but honestly, this spot on the historic district’s waterfront is transporting. Not that you need to escape the city, but this Scandinavian spa is sublime
My friend, Viviane, was desperate to take me there and I couldn’t understand why (I’m really not a big spa-goer)—until I was there.
The philosophy of this hydrotherapy spa is based on warming the body, ice cold submersion or rinsing, and relaxation. After soaking in warm waters, you plunge into a single-person pool that feels as shocking as a dip in the North Sea. Or relax in the sauna then refresh yourself under an (as my daughter would say) epic showerhead that deluges you with glacial-like waters.
Lots of beautiful blonde wood, tile, and rock adorn the spa’s soothing modern interior.
Of course there are many other reasons for visiting Old Montréal. It’s definitely worth spending a leisurely day in this part of town (especially if a few of those hours are at Scandinave).
5. Family appeal Traveling to cities with kids can be downright exhausting, unbearable at times. Montréal is different. It’s small enough to be manageable, but large enough to give big city appeal. The residents exude sophistication and approachability. There are many kid-friendly attractions, including the Montréal Science Centre. It’s a great starter city for kids who haven’t traveled to many others. And for those traveling without kids, I hear there’s plenty to keep you busy after dark.
Have you been to Montréal? Any recommendations?
Look at this adorable bunny baguette from the Patisserie de Gascogne in Montreal, QC. The bakery cafe—there are five locations in Canada—is a perfect stop for a casual lunch or afternoon respite. We picked up a light, custardy spinach quiche and several baguettes yesterday. We saved the hot cross buns for breakfast this morning—which I can’t wait to eat any minute. While the delectable French pastries alone are worth a trip to Montreal, log on tomorrow for five more reasons to visit this extremely accessible city
Patisserie de Gascogne, 4825, rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Westmount, QC H3Z 1G6, tel. 514.932.3511, www.degascogne.com/
Wondering what you’re going to make for dessert this Sunday? How about a bunny cake? My family has many Easter traditions, and this sweet creation that my father makes is one of my absolute favorites. The process is fun, and the end result is truly delectable.
To quote one of my kids, “Come see what we made with Pop Pop…it’s awesome.” And it was—a big, beautiful, fluffy white bunny.
Click here for the recipe. I hope it brings you as much joy as it does me. .