Will and I didn’t ask for a whole lot of stuff for our wedding, but we did request a small amount of kitchen supplies I have fantasized about for the last year. One of my favorite presents is a pizza stone that our good friend Kyle’s mom generously bought for us. I’ve been using the heck out of it this summer and can’t believe a) how airy and crispy it makes my pizza crust and b) how hot my oven gets from it! When we don’t know what to make for dinner, we just throw whatever vegetables, cheese, and/or meat looks good onto a pizza!

This week, asparagus looked very good. We added some prosciutto, some parmesan shavings, a drizzle of olive oil, and cracked black pepper.

I recognize that there is nothing revolutionary about what I made here, but  in the summer, I crave food that requires little effort and tastes really fresh. Winter is for elaborate baking projects. Summer is for pizza!

More on pizza here

An NY Times articles on Spanish Roses, which blew my mind in Barca

PROSCUITTO AND ASPARAGUS FLATBREAD

Serves 2

I kept the asparagus intact for reasons mainly of function. The first time I made this pizza, I chopped the asparagus into pieces, and it was difficult to grab a hold of. The asparagus would fall out from under the prosciutto (DANGER DANGER). By keeping the asparagus whole, you can get a good grip on them while biting down.

When you slice the pizza, make long, rectangular cuts in between pieces of asparagus. This also will help keep your pizza intact.

Ingredients

8-10 oz pizza dough (about half a blob from the store)

Cornmeal

1 bunch thick asparagus

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & freshly cracked black pepper

4-6 very thin slices of prosciutto (enough to cover your pizza)

Shaved parmesan cheese (again, enough to spread across your pizza… I used about 1 oz)

Recipe

2 hours before baking, take your pizza dough out of the fridge (if that’s where it is) and allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat oven as to 500, putting a pizza stone inside if you have one.

Sprinkle parchment paper with cornmeal, to prevent pizza from sticking.

Roll or stretch out your pizza dough into a big rectangle. Place onto the parchment paper.

Rinse, dry, and chop fibrous ends off asparagus. Rub them with some olive oil.

Line the asparagus up across the pizza dough. Sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Place the asparagus-lined dough into the oven. Toss in some ice cubes every few minutes to keep the air moist. This will help yield a crispy crust. When the flatbread is browned it is done.

Remove the browned flatbread from the oven. Delicately drape your slices of prosciutto perpendicularly over the asparagus. Spread as much or as little shaved parmesan as you’d like across the flatbread. Finish with a little more black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Pa Amb Tomaquet

June 27, 2011

I have SO MUCH to tell you! First, this:

That’s us! Will and Elizabeth. All our a cappella group rehearsals (how we met) and all those late nights spent watching the Muppet Show (not a joke, or a euphemism) led us here.

And we got to share it with so many of our very favorite people. Our ceremony was the most epic dance party we’ve ever been to. And a lot of our friends have told us it was the best party they’ve ever been to! I could go on and on about it, but I think I’ll just show you some pictures instead.

Julia!

“I woke up the morning after your wedding and waited for the pain. But the pain was in my spine. From rocking out. So hard.”- Sarah, showing off her assets next to Andrew

David! Who had a dougie-off with Will.


Us!

During “Shout”

“I may not be the best dancer, but I am the MOST dancer” – Craig

By the end of the night, my hair fell out of place. Possibly from jumping during “Shout!” Or maybe from playing air guitar during the Journey Sing-A-Long. Possibly from fist pumping…during almost every song. I don’t how it happened but I know it was worth it.

I have left you recipe-less during almost the entire month of June, so here is a recipe for Pa Amb Tomaquet (Tomato Bread), an import from our honeymoon in Barcelona (more details on our honeymoon in upcoming posts). People in the Catalan region of Spain eat this bread with their meals the way people in the States get a bread basket with dinner. It is perfect in its simplicity. A piece of good bread is toasted, rubbed with garlic, rubbed with a tomato, and finished with olive oil. Deeelicious!

PA AMB TOMAQUET (as taught to us in a tiny restaurant in Monserrat)

No quantities of ingredients are included, because how much or how little you use is really up to you.

Ingredients

Good bread, toasted or grilled

Garlic cloves, peeled

Tomatoes, sliced in half

Salt

Good olive oil

Recipe

Rub your slice of toast with garlic. Squeeze your tomato half over your toast, then rub the tomato on the toast, so the juice and pulp soaks in to the bread. Sprinkle your bread with salt. Drizzle with olive oil to finish. Enjoy.


The new additions to my family (minus Will’s mom, who can be seen waltzing with him one picture up). Aren’t they a good looking bunch?

Everyday Cornbread

April 2, 2011

Being an very enthusiastic person sometimes means that I begin planning out an idea’s execution without realizing that it will be terrible. Do you remember the marriage scene from the Princess Bride?

Guess who hurried home from work to tell her fiance her brilliant idea that their officiant should begin their marriage ceremony with, “MAWWIAGE!”?

If only I captured the look on Will’s face. Or the look on my own when I stopped to really think about that idea.

But this cornbread is a very good idea. If there’s a better cornbread recipe out there, I haven’t found it. I’ve made it dozens of times and am always rewarded with a moist, slightly sweet cornbread with a browned and buttery crust. Putting it together is a cinch. You can make it plain or you could make it fancy (cheddar, jalapenos, and bacon, anyone?)  It peps up a simple night of oven-baked drumsticks at home, and it delights at a Springtime BBQ.

Barbecues? Now that‘s something we’re all enthusiastic about in this household.

EVERYDAY CORNBREAD (from Mark Bittman’s Cornbread)

You can make this kinder to your arteries by cutting the butter down to 2 tablespoons.

Cohnbwead is what bwings us togetha today.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter, olive oil, lard or bacon drippings
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-grind cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, more if needed

Recipe

Preheat oven to 375. Put your fat of choice in 10 inch cast iron skillet or in 8 inch square baking pan, and place skillet/pan in oven.

Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl. In a separate bowl, mix up your eggs into the milk thoroughly, then stir milk/eggs into dry ingredients.

When fat is foamy (butter) or sizzling (bacon/lard) remove skillet/pan from oven, and pour in your batter (it may sputter a bit). Put pan back in oven and make 30 minutes until the top is gently browned and the edges of the cornbread have pulled away from the sides of the pan. Serve hot with a pat of butter.

Buttermilk Biscuits

November 19, 2010

Next in our Thanksgiving installment is Buttermilk Biscuits. I selected this particular recipe, because it was the highest rated Buttermilk Biscuit recipe from Epicurious. Definitely a winner. I’ll make these on Thanksgiving or on another Buttermilk Biscuit appropriate occasion.

NON SEQUITUR: Have you seen Marcel the Shell with Shoes on?

If you have not it is IMPERATIVE that you see it.

Okay back to biscuits. You may ask yourself, “Why must I always use cold butter in biscuit and pie recipes?” Well, when butter is cold, and gets smooshed into little coarse pellets in biscuit or pie dough, it will melt in the oven and leave behind an air pocket where its solid form once was. This is how you make things flaky and airy. Good question.

This is a picture of the “coarse meal” texture you must manipulate your butter into for this recipe. Little blobs everywhere. Ready to melt into delicious buttery air pockets. Also, I got a manicure yesterday and wanted photo documentation of how nicely orange my fingernails look before I have to wash my hands 8,000 times at work tomorrow and the polish chips off.

Ah, biscuits and manicures. It’s a tough life.

You know what they say. Lint is a shell’s best friend.

More on buttermilk: Buttermilk Bran Muffins

What I’m reading.

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS (from Dot’s Diner as printed by Bon Appetit, October 2000)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Recipe

Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Using fingertips, rub 3/4 cup chilled butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until evenly moistened. Using 1/4 cup dough for each biscuit, drop biscuits onto baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Zucchini Yogurt Bread

August 11, 2010

My friend, Cheryl, recently gifted me with 3 zucchinis from her parents’ garden. Actually, I should say that she gifted me with ZUCCHINIS because each was the length of my forearm and weighed in over 4 pounds. So I brought them home, declaring to Will, “Look what we have!” And though excited at first, we soon realized that we had 12 pounds of zucchini to use up, and quickly, before they turned rotten.

Needless to say, there has been a lot of zucchini in our lives recently. There has been, of course, one of my all-time favorite dishes, Zucchini Spaghetti with Goat Cheese, as well as Zucchini Bread. This one is from Food and Wine  magazine. It’s not very sweet (without chocolate, of course), but it has a nice, brown, rich crust. It actually doesn’t contain any butter, though you wouldn’t know from tasting it.I’ve made four loaves of this in a desperate attempt to avoid wasting produce. Two had chocolate chips, two were plain. The plain is a nice breakfast treat, not too sweet but just rich enough. The addition of chocolate chips makes for a lovely dessert bread, though Will and I prefer the the non-chocolate version. We love the subtle flavors in this bread, and we think the chocolate overpowers it. 

Well, four loaves of this bread still didn’t use up all my zucchini, but the (amazing) Zucchini Breakfast Casserole did! Stay tuned for the recipe next post!
ZUCCHINI YOGURT BREAD (adapted only slightly from Food and Wine)

makes one 9-inch loaf

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tea spoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup fat-free plain greek yogurt
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini (from about 1 medium zucchini)
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Recipe
1.  Preheat oven 325.  Butter and flour 9 x 4 1/2″ metal loaf pan.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a medium bowl, mix sugar with the eggs, vegetable oil and yogurt.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the grated zucchini and walnuts and stir until the batter is evenly moistened.  Scrape batter into the pan and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until loaf is risen and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let loaf cool on rack for 30 minutes before unmolding (if you can wait that long!)

No-Knead Bread

April 10, 2010

You can criticize the bread you make at home, but it’s hard. It could always be lighter, the crust could always be crustier, the top could always be browned a bit more, but the truth is that something warm from the oven slathered with butter and jam is almost always perfect. I have made many imperfect breads, but I have never been disappointed once I take that first, warm bite. I implore you to make your own bread at home. Try it once and you’ll be hooked! Intimidating by kneading? Start with this bread. That’s right, no kneading involved.

It’s a bit of an internet phenomenon among us food blogger types. I have read about this bread over and over again. Bread that you stir together in a bowl, let rise for 12-18 hours (whatever time range is most convenient for you), cover in cornmeal, and bake in the oven. Sometimes referred to as “Bread for Dummies.” This particular dummy added 7 TIMES THE AMOUNT OF NECESSARY YEAST. Durrrrr. I considered not starting over, then googled my error and found that this can lead to bread that tastes like stale beer and/or bread that doesn’t rise. So I started over. I really don’t know why I wouldn’t have started over. The prep time is 3 minutes and flour, salt, and yeast are dirt cheap anyway. It was PHENOMENAL. It ties with sea salt and rosemary focaccia (recipe coming soon) as my favorite homemade bread. I slathered this winner with peach jam. 

In other news, welcome back camera! To celebrate, here’s an short and sweet article on how to take pictures of food.

NO KNEAD BREAD (by Mark Bittman of the New York Times) A note: You can substitute 1/3 teaspoon active dry yeast for 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (thanks for this substitution info to Deb from smittenkitchen)

Elizabeth’s Banana Bread

February 16, 2010

The two best parts about baking in your own kitchen are that you can a) eat the batter, and b) smell it bake! I love a great bake shop, but it always makes miss the 10 or 20 or 60 minutes of anticipation I have as the smell of the delicious thing baking in my oven permeates my living room. And then, when the smell is so strong and I just can’t stand it anymore, I get to dig in. If I ran a perfume company I’d try and bottle that smell. But then, I’d probably want to eat it too so, well, let’s just say its good I’m baking and not making perfume.

And another benefit of learning to bake or cook well is that you can make your favorite dishes exactly as you like them. Me, I LOVE banana bread. But my ideal banana bread is pretty atypical from what you’d find in a coffee shop. It isn’t bread-y or dry at all. It has a moist and dense texture, almost like a bread pudding. I discovered this version in my own kitchen, and since then its become one of my favorite snacks.

And when I say I “discovered” this recipe in my own kitchen, I mean that it came about accidentally, resulting from a lack of baking foresight on my part. I didn’t do that thing you are supposed to do where you check to see that you have enough of all your ingredients BEFORE you start to bake. One late night, after all the stores had closed, I realized I didn’t have enough flour. Instead of 2 cups like my old favorite recipe called for, I only had 1. So I substituted the second cup of flour with some stovetop oats. Without the extra flour to absorb the moistness, the bread became denser and more moist. YUM. And I threw in some vanilla and cinnamon, because in my baking universe, EVERYTHING is better with vanilla and cinnamon. If you’d like a recipe for banana bread that is more traditional and more bread-like, please check out my old favorite banana bread recipe. It is really fantastic.

Oh, and one more thing. Does anyone else here LOVE eating raw banana batter? I like it even more than cookie dough or brownie batter. I know, I’m so weird. But I make a mean banana bread!

ELIZABETH’S BANANA BREAD (adapted from Julia Moskin’s Banana Banana Bread, featured on nytimes.com)

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup refined white sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

7 ripe bananas

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup oats

Recipe

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper or grease it with butter. Use an electric mixer to cream the butter until it’s fluffy. Add sugars and cream for 60 seconds more. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in bananas two at a time until there are only small lumps. Mix dry ingredients together, then stir into wet mixture. Pour batter into parchment-lined or butter-greased pan. If you live at sea level, bake for 55-60 minutes at 350 degrees. If you live at altitude, bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees. Let banana bread rest 10 minutes in the pan, then slice and enjoy!